Some kind of normality

Last Friday saw us begin a marathon of cross country travelling 'up North' for the funeral of Andy's Nan. Normally we'd have gone by motorbike and it would have taken about two or three hours, but with the UK suffering sub-zero temperatures and my arm being ho
w it is, we booked train tickets from Oxford. So began a hodgepodge journey starting with us setting off the dark, icy early morning, layered up like Michelin men on the bike, leaving the bike with Debs-of-the-bees who lives nearer to the city, catching a bus to Oxford, then a train to Manchester, picked up by car, fed and watered by Andy's nice parents and another car journey to Yorkshire for an overnight stay at a motel. It snowed overnight and Selby Abbey, where the simple service was held, was looking stunning. The sun came out; a nice way to say goodbye to a long life which was finally at rest.
Later that day we did the same journey in reverse, but slower. Driving through the vibrant city of Manchester to the station was a surreal experience for both of us. We felt a little like visitors from a secluded community, goggling at the new space-age office blocks, the hordes of shoppers clutching bulging shopping bags (how much *stuff* does a person need???) the crowded eateries, the groups of rowdy night-outers...it was like descending into some kind of urban hell, not improved by
the various football fans being police-escorted and later on the train, the distinctly un-charming presence of racist thugs getting tanked up on cheap lager. We decided to stay standing up in the corridor well away from them, until they disembarked.
It took over 6 hours to return, ending with a slow, wind chilled half hour ride near midnight, along treacherous roads covered in black ice, both of us frozen by the time we arrived back to a cottage full of sleepy cats. Rarely have I felt so thankful to be home. But this sad, necessary journey was a marker for us; we had decided that Monday was going to be 'N-Day' - a return to Normality. And so it has been. I am finally back in bed, bolstered up and last night had the best night's sleep I've had since my accident, comfy under a proper quilt and able to stretch my legs out. My arm is much better, thanks to my homemade physiotherapy of housework, sweeping with a dust-pan and brush proving painful but effective.
While we were at Andy's old home, I took the opportunity to re-visit the
very first needle felted toy I made, way back in 2008. He was a birthday present for Andy's mother; he is tiny compared to the size I work at today! He was a bit fuzzy after two years and I took the opportunity to give him a bit of a makeover - so although you may think that I have double posted the same picture, look more closely. Same but different. Rather like country folks and city folks.


Soozcat said...

He does look noticeably more spiffed up in the second picture.

I'm sorry to hear about Andy's Nan and hope he is coping well with the loss. Even when you know the end is coming, when you know it's time, it's still hard to let go.

"(how much *stuff* does a person need???)" Not much, of course... and much less than what most people think they need. Far more than additional stuff, what most people are really seeking is a sense of inner peace.

So glad to hear your arm is doing better and that you've successfully returned to sleeping in bed! I hope it will speed your recovery to get a good night's sleep.

Twiglet said...

Hi Gretel
So glad you are back in the realms of Normality and hope you are feeling much, much better. Its a small world isn't it - I lived and taught on the outskirts of Selby for 30 years! Its a beautiful Abbey. Sad reason to visit and a long journey for you. Best wishes Jo

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Wow, almost a Frodo Baggins journey!

If only you could work the same magic on people as you can on fuzzy rabbits.. I would hire you to come over and give me a bit of a makeover too. Feeling a bit frazzled in the holiday maze at the moment.

So happy you are back in bed!!

Jane said...

Golly, what a marathon trip - glad you got back safely. Love the little rabbit. How nice to be back in your comfy bed at last.

(Just noticed the word verification is 'beditins', seems appropriate)

rachel said...

What a journey! No wonder you were glad to get home. And good to hear that you are getting better - there's nothing like your own bed, is there!

How well I understand your feelings about the city - I long to be free of it, and almost never go into the centre - and all that shopping, getting and spending - I dread Christmas in some respects.

Your little rabbit looks a little sharper, but still very lovely!

Sweet Birdy Love said...

Hey Gretel, so glad you had a safe trip unfortunately though for a sad occasion.

Nice to be snuggled up in your own bed again and good to hear you arm is feeling better.

Cute little bunny, I am sure he'd be glad to see you and get his makeover.

Hope you are all keeping nice and warm, can't believe how cold it's been over there.
We're all drowned rats here, we've had soooo much rain, but no complains at least the drought is over......

Sweet Birdy Love said...

Hey Gretel, so glad you had a safe trip unfortunately though for a sad occasion.

Nice to be snuggled up in your own bed again and good to hear you arm is feeling better.

Cute little bunny, I am sure he'd be glad to see you and get his makeover.

Hope you are all keeping nice and warm, can't believe how cold it's been over there.
We're all drowned rats here, we've had soooo much rain, but no complains at least the drought is over......

Sue said...

Sorry you had such an unpleasant experience of Manchester. Certainly all human life is here, including the less lovely bits, but there are also plenty of us who share your feelings about materialism and cheap lager - mostly we are able to avoid the city centre at peak worst times. Be heartened to know that only three miles away we are snuggled up in a much pleasanter world, with nice music on the radio and woodpeckers, jays (and today a heron) in the garden, drinking blackberry vodka homemade in September :-)

Acornmoon said...

Sorry to hear about your loss, your journey sounds horrific but am glad to hear that you are getting back to normal.

It is a shame that you had such a bad experience of Manchester, a place I love. I know all about the lager louts and crowds but I feel sad that you did not get the chance to see the other side. I know that you would love the John Rylands library, The City Art gallery, The Whitworth and so many lovely little shops and secret places, The Hidden Gem, I could go on. Maybe when your arm is fully recovered we nay be able to tempt you back up north?

Gerry Snape said...

So glad that normality is returning to you . How great that you made the northern journey! Not so far from us. The southern family are making the journey in a week. Love that rabbit. Splendid.

ellen said...

My best to you both..I am sorry for the loss you have experienced.
I am glad that you returned safe and sound to your own cozy spot and that you are mending well and back in your warm and comfy bed.
Stay well, best to you, ellen.

Frances said...

Oh PG, may I send along my condolences to Andy and you. I only had the opportunity to know one of my Grandmothers, and she was very dear to me. She let me know early on, that it was all right for a woman to work. (She was a nurse.) And also, she's the one who put up the $100 needed for my very first trip to New York.

(My parents did not tell me of her death until after her funeral. Families do have deep stories to tell.)

Glad that you are on the mend. May your safe return home and the welcoming cats lead you to fine days in this Advent season. Oh, there's the cricket, too.


tlchang said...

Hope things really are returning to normal (boy, how would that be?). Condolences to Andy. Hope your arm is speedily on the upswing. And that it warms up soon...(?)

d. moll, l.ac. said...

The bunny does look like he's had a bit of a clean up. So sorry about Nan, sounds like she had a good life. Goodness what a journey too. I feel relieved that you are home safe and normal, whew. Stay warm, wear a cat or two if you have to.

Caroline B said...

What a beautiful abbey that is - a wonderful place for a final send off.
I think any major town descends into a bit of anarchy after dark, especially in the 'festive' season - at least you were on the way home.
I'm intrigued....you took your felting needles with you to a funeral? Now there's a lady after my own heart!

Jill said...

What an epic journey, but a fittting one, you should certainly feel you have paid your last respects.
So glad you are safely snuggled under your own duvet again...and I could certainly do with a de-fuzz too!

Anonymous said...

Glad you are back in your bed - you will definitely feel the benefit of sleeping well. When I had a frozen shoulder, the physiotherapist showed my various ways to evercise using things around the house ..... using a towel as if I was drying my back, but pulling on the towel to strecth the shoulder; sitting on a chair in a doorway with a skipping rope over a hook in the doorframe and pulling down on the rope to pull the stiff one up; holding the doorframe with my elbow hard against my waist, then moving forward, to turn my arm away from my body. Perhaps these might give you some ideas of things to do help restore your mobility.
Please give my condolences to Andy - I only had one Granny (my Mum was an orphan) and she died when I was 17.
If I thought it would make me look better, I would give myself a good poke with a felting needle!!
Take care and keep warm!

Anonymous said...

Ah, what a shame, and what a journey. Glad you're feeling so much more 'back to normality', and I like your concluding simile a lot. I haven't been outside of West Somerset (except a journey to Bristol airport and back) in 17 months now and find the idea of ever doing so very scary.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Sorry that your journey was for something so sad . But it can be a good time to get together , too , and renew ties .
I was going to ask if you restricted your make-overs to felted rabbits , but see that I'll have to join a queue .
Signed: Another-slightly-fuzzy woman-of-a-certain-age .

Meliors Simms said...

I'm so glad to hear that you are getting back to Normality. Great to see your beautiful face at last and to read about your journey to lay Andy's Nan to rest.