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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Five days by the sea

It hardly seems credible that this time last week I was freewheeling down the M5 towards the small town of Westward Ho! on the North coast of Devon for five glorious days of rest by the sea. There is little to do in the town itself, other than the beach, but that suits me fine, as the town has one of the finest beaches in the whole of this region, backed by the famous pebble ridge and of course the Northam Burrows nature reserve. One can walk for miles all the way to the Tor estuary at low tide and round to Appledore on the other side of the dunes.

I stayed at the excellent youth hostel in the town, which is an excellent base for exploring the area, and took full advantage of everything that the area has to offer. It is a part of the country that I am quite familiar with, being just across the water from the island of Lundy, where until 2009 I holidayed two to three times each year. Since that year, when everything changed, I have visited the island less - maybe once a year in the spring, but I had been missing it so much of late that this time I decided to go for a day trip.

It was the first time I had ever done this, after 32 staying visits, so for me it was a novel experience. I must admit that there had been an element of "us and them", snobbery almost towards the day trippers, yet they bring more into the economy of the island than those that do choose to stay, and as I discovered, these trips do serve a definite need. They provide a taste of the island for those who are unsure as to whether they would like to stay, being unsure perhaps as to whether they would cope with the silence, and the lack of mainland "essentials" such as supermarkets, nightclubs et al. Lundy is for me, one of those places that you either get or you don't, and although the majority choose not to come back as staying visitors, many return as day trippers instead, as a short respite from mainland life, and so it was this time, for me.

It was strange to know that this time I would not be staying, and so I made the most of every moment on the island that I had, walking all the way to the north end via the west coast and back via the east. On my return to the village towards the end of the afternoon, I found myself walking across Acklands Moor towards the cottage where I always stay, almost without thinking, and as I approached suddenly realised that I wasn't this time staying there! I bid then a hasty retreat and headed back to the pub for a mug of tea and more than welcome gluten free chocolate cookie. It was a long day, but so very worth it.

The remaining three days were spent sunbathing at Saunton Sands, exploring the village of Clovelly, and for the final day, walking between Hartland Quay and Hartland Point - famed for some of the finest coastal scenery in the southwest. This is a walk that I shall definitely repeat, next time more slowly so that I take everything in and not have to rush. It was exhilarating climb those challenging hills, which peak at almost 1500 feet, with the sun and the wind streaming through my hair. I have definitely caught the sun this week, which will set me up the dark winter nights which are to come.

Now that I am back, it feels as always a lifetime ago. It was straight back to work at 7am yesterday after driving back on Sunday and right back into the fray. I have been in my current job, as a housekeeper in a nursing home, for three and a half years now, and during all that time have not received one single pay rise. By the time the minimum wage goes up next week, my salary will be just 21 pence per hour above that rate, which considering the level of responsibility that I have and the nature of the work involved, dealing with frail and elderly people at the end of their lives, is to be quite honest, scandalous. So, when the Head Housekeeper informed yesterday that she had just had her appraisal and been asked to submit a formal letter actually requesting a raise, I felt that I had nothing to lose by doing the same thing. The letter was duly delivered this morning and will be passed along the line to the Care Home Manager and ultimately the Directors for their consideration. They can only say yes or no, but either way, I will know where I stand.

Other than that, there is not much else to report other than the fact that it has become very autumnal these past few days - the trees are moving as I write, bending into the wind. Coran is visiting his sister who has been discharged from hospital, having been quite poorly these past weeks, and there is no further news of my own sister.

Corans video also continues to get many visits - it was mentioned in the local paper this week, which was noticed by everyone at work, so it was become a bit of a talking point there. Some seem perplexed as to the nature of our relationship given Corans trans gender status, but they can always come and ask - there is no reason to be shy and I have nothing to hide.

Oh well, back to the armchair and my latest book ....  

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