I woke at my usual time so as I could not go for my usual walk, I found myself cutting the grass at 7.30 am and it was already warm then. Joshua came downstairs for his Weetabix at 5.40 but after he had eaten it, he retired back to his bed. I never like to wake him if he seems to need his sleep, I prefer him to wake naturally, which he did at 10am, by which time I had the car packed and I was ready to set off. So I dressed him quickly, leaving his socks, splints and boots off to keep him cooler in the car. We were away by 10.20 and had the most stunning driving through the Yorkshire dales and then Cumbria to get to the M6 motorway, which was wonderfully empty and scenic too.
I waited until we crossed the border into Scotland before we stopped for lunch at some services by a lake and we both stretched our legs and enjoyed some lunch before getting back into the hot car. I had another short stop later to close my eyes for ten minutes, not even getting out of the car. I started to get excited as I saw road signs with familiar town names on them, as it meant we were getting closer to the town where I grew up and we arrived at the hotel just before 3pm. I parked in the disabled bay right outside the entrance and we went inside, with me juggling Joshua in one hand and our suitcase in the other.
A friendly receptionist greeted us and I explained that I had booked a ground floor accessible room for two nights and her face dropped as she stared at the computer. She explained that our room was on the first floor, not the ground floor as I had booked, and she broke the news that there was no lift either. I queried it of course, as I had made the booking on the telephone myself about 6 weeks earlier, this was not a last minute trip. I waited to see if she had a solution, but she , though very apologetic, did not have an alternative plan. So I agreed that we would look at the staircase and room to see if it would be feasible. It is an old house, so the staircase was wide and had a banister on his left side going up, so he managed it, slowly but it was possible – luckily, as if he was wheelchair bound, we could not have stayed! She had my suitcase brought up for us and offered us breakfast in our room, to avoid unnecessary trips downstairs to the dining room. But I assured her that he would want the sociable breakfast experience, not to be cooped upstairs.
We changed out of our travelling clothes and freshened up, then tackled the stairs, which do not have a banister on his good-side for getting down so he relied on the dado rail and my hands, and we managed it together. I collected the wheelchair from the car and we walked the two minutes down the road to my ex-neighbour’s house, where she was sitting reading in the garden watching out for us! There was union jack bunting and welcome signs on the door to welcome us to her home and we were both delighted to get inside the lounge that I virtually lived in when I was a child. It had hardly changed and felt very familiar as there was so many family photographs on the walls, from the times that I recall as well as more recent pictures of her granddaughters.
I brought out the gluten free baking that I had made for my best friend ad we enjoyed cups of tea and catching up. Her work friend from South Africa, who now lives in Ireland, arrived too and she is another lovely lady, so I enjoyed getting to know her too. It had been arranged that I could look around our old house, which we had left in 1978 and I was keen to see it again. Everything was smaller than I remembered : the garden was not as huge as I recalled, the big square kitchen that I loved was a good size but not particularly large. Memories of family Christmases in the dining room came flooding back to me. It was , and still is, a wonderful family home. The paddock opposite where we used to play in the tree roots by the river, now has a house built on it and the fields where I used to take Shandy for a walk, is now a housing estate too. My neighbour has lived in the same house for 51 years now so she will be well known in the town – her granddaughter joked that she was well known by half of Scotland.
We were treated to a delicious buffet style tea in what used to be the playroom, with more photographs to absorb. More chat and memories shared and Joshua and I left around 9pm to walk back to the hotel, where he had a quick bath before bed. We are sharing a double but he spread out before I got in and so I had to squeeze around him. After I spoke to my husband to bring him up-to-date and to check up on how all the dogs were doing without me, I slid into bed around 10.30pm, ready for bed too. It had been a long, nostalgic and emotional day but a very happy one and I am pleased to be here.