Saturday, 15 October 2011

It'll be and adventure!

That phrase and "I've just had a bit of a bonkers idea" are pretty much guaranteed to induce a sense of fear and trepidation in poor Steve, especially if they are used in the same sentence.  Reason being that they usually indicate that I'm about to embark on yet another "crazy ass adventure" as he calls them.  These adventures can range from the relatively minor, such as hiking over a fell in the pitch dark, to the rather more major, such as relocating 300 miles north and living in a caravan for 3 months over the winter.  Not that he's in anyway an unwilling participant, far from it, Steve is utterly invaluable as the voice of reason in this relationship and were it not for him I'd have probably met my maker in spectacular fashion quite sometime ago.  All he's made me do is promise that we finish one "crazy ass adventure" before we embark on the next.

So where does this overdeveloped sense of humour and unswerving desire to remain optimistic at all times come from?  Well I'm afraid I blame my dad for that as he was a no-nonsense kind of a chap who, unfortunately, died 2 days before my 19th birthday.  Traumatic though that was it has given me an incredible sense of perspective on life and for that I will always be grateful.  The upside is that I can almost always find the good in any given situation and, if I can't, then I'll find a way to have a laugh to take my mind off it.
Recently I've heard people say "It's alright for you..." and "I wish I had your life" when the reality is it's probably not alright for me and, I'm afraid, my life is just as dull and bothersome as everyone else's, but blogging about the bothersome doesn't make for good reading.  However, in the interests of giving a clear and balanced picture of our new life in Cumbria, I thought I'd mention of couple of the big challenges we've faced (and are still facing) and how we're getting to grips with them.

One of the biggest ongoing challenges is being potless; I know that we are far from unique on that front and we have a lot of things stacked in our favour, like not having kids (not something we chose but, look on the brightside, we'd have had to put them to work in a mine or something right now in order for them to pay their way).  Let's be clear, when I say potless, I don't mean we're about to lose our home or anything like that (though we did face that prospect 18 months ago when a combination of an idiot boss, ill health and job loss meant we had to do something dramatic, which is how we ended up living in the most beautiful county in England, so again, not all bad) I mean we have just about enough money for the essentials in life, like food and gin, but very little more more.  This month I can't even splash out on a copy of the Westmoreland Gazette (75p) as all I've had in my purse for the past 2 weeks is £1.02 and it's got to last me till payday at the end of this month.

So where's the brightside?  Well look at all the stuff I've learned and done for free.  I've learned to make jams and preserves from fruit and veg in the garden.  This weekend I'll be making some sort of runner bean preserve as we have a bountiful crop of the hardest most boiling resistant crop known to man.  I've boiled them, casseroled them and microwaved them and they still remain capable of breaking teeth and removing fillings, so now I'm going to chutney the little buggers to teach them a lesson.

I've also learned how to earn cash from completing online surveys which isn't as dull as it sounds.  I've passed many an interesting evening giving my opinions on such varied topics as breakfast cereals, fishfingers, talking washing machines and financial services products.  OK, maybe the last one is as dull as it sounds, but this month I've earned £33 quid for telling people what I think.  If I could apply that to the rest of life then I'd be a millionaire in no time.

And, most importantly, the fells are free and thanks to my over developed sense of adventure the fells have helped me get fit, get thin, get lost, get found, get wet, get muddy, get wet again and get out there.  They are the most incredibly beautiful place to be and are guaranteed to make you forget about all your other worries.

The other big challenge we've faced is making new friends.  We're in Grange-over-Sands which is a wonderfully pretty place but is apparently the 5th most popular retirement town in England.  The downside is we're a good 20 years younger than most residents and most of the clubs and societies are geared towards people who are no longer working, but the upside is that we're always being introduced as the "new young couple" and, in my mid 40's, I like being described as being young again.  Everyone we've met has been wonderfully friendly and welcoming, especially our neighbours, but we just don't have a lot in common with them.  So what have I done about that?  I've taken to the virtual world and am finding lots of lovely new friends on Twitter and Facebook.  I don't know them all that well yet, but there's plenty of time and my track record of meeting people on the internet is good; I found Steve when I went looking for cheap car insurance, which I've always been grateful for and I'm I'm sure he's pleased about too, well, most of the time anyway.

So, there you go, a teeny glimpse into the less glamorous side of life in Cumbria.  This weekend will be a whirl of apple juicing at Staveley and most likely hiking up a fell tomorrow.  We haven't decided which one yet, but after last week's "incident" I shall be taking plenty of compass readings.  Hope everyone reading this has a wonderful weekend and I promise a return to our fell adventures in my next instalment!