HELLO! We are home again after a good long meander around the north, and itching to be off again already.
Our wheeled home is just so almost there that we now have a proper sense of how it'll be when we're in it for good, and it is wonderful. We've made a beautiful home with a view that is always changing. Of course there are still cupboard doors and plugs and taps and bookshelves and desks and hooks and pictures to go in yet, but it isn't a horsebox anymore!
This last week's travels took us through towns and villages, along bumpy backroads and under chimney-scraping bridges and back again and we met some lovely folk along the way.
We parked in shady forested corners, on tops of moors, beside streams and down little lanes. We sat in the evenings in candle and firelight with the dinner cooking and pigeons cooing overhead.
We had fires in the woods with friends and woke in the mornings to take our wares to sell in town or just to wander about like tourists, drinking coffee and looking at cathedrals.
Up above are some views of our stops and here below are some views from our windows.
And if it's all sounding just a little too romantic, know that we also came across some people who didn't want us there.. which is the inevitable difficult Other Side to the freedom of a nomadic life.
We were delighted however to meet up with some fellow bus-dwellers who despite being parked just a few miles from here, found us in the land of blog. Andy and Mel of the Black Bus Company and their cats and dogs have found a lovely little corner of Scotland to park their wheeled home and we were happy to meet them for tea and talk.
And further along our way we were welcomed warmly by another young creative couple with exciting plans for wheeled journeyings and woodworkings around Ireland.
A day's meander around Durham's little lanes and the whispering Norman arches of Durham Cathedral was a joy (the bronze cathedral door-knocker growls to the right and there's a peep through an arch below); as was my visit to the excellent Seven Stories Children's Book Centre in Newcastle. It is a seven-storied warren in celebration of the supposed mere seven stories in the world and the thousand different ways of telling them. In this child-centered book haven, there are corners with cushions and books to read, and little doors to open, children's artwork, audio books in the arms of chairs and 3-D recreations of tale worlds. There's a wooden-beamed attic with dressing up clothes and a stage, and there are wonderful examples of original illustrations and manuscripts, opening up the worlds inside the creation of books as well as the worlds inside the tales inside them.
I had the place virtually to myself and was able to amble about one of the current exhibitions From Toad Hall to Pooh Corner, which is based around children's stories set in an idyllic and almost lost English countryside. I sat at the hearth in Badger's Kitchen, with birdsong twittering overhead and admired the just exquisite pencil and watercolour illustrations by Australian artist Robert Ingpen (whose work I have long admired) for a new edition of The Wind in the Willows. There were also EH Shepherd originals, and book manuscripts, layout roughs and authors' notes. Seven Stories holds all sorts of story based events and grown-up books are wholly not allowed! I'd thoroughly recommend a visit, especially since I see a new exhibition in the listings of local author David Almond's work Winged Tales of the North.
Our Geordie-land wander took us past Tui's family where we were mobbed by curious local kids on bikes who we let inside the truck to look around and in their bouncy exuberance wanted to look iside all the drawers and come along with us and hounded us with questions like "are you English?" and "where do you wee?".
"In the woods" I whispered to open mouths and raised eyebrows.
Perhaps if the people who see us and wonder but then call the police would remember the boldness of youth and come over to us with their questions ... There they would find a cup of tea and plenty of answers and obligings, instead of the threat of the unknown fear that lurks like a highwayman on the dark roads of their minds.
I know the negative stories of gypsies stealing your lead piping and/or children, and leaving piles of rubbish. But surely there are just as many nasty house-dwellers as there are nice ones... why tar everyone with the same brush? Indeed it is the home-dwellers who come by the green spot where our black bus friends are parked and dump their unwanted rubbish, and it is the bus-dwellers who clear it up.
Well, anyway, we are returned for a while to busy ourselves with finishing the truck, and I'll make a few more clocks. There'll have to be plenty of clearing upping and freecycling, and I even have a passing notion to have a wee sale of my original paintings... because of course they can't all go in the truck. Would anybody be interested in such a thing?
The sun has come back to Scotland with us, as has a flat tyre. We are now on the hunt for a good set of new tyres for the truck before we leave and we seem to have the rarest wheel size in the world. It is nice to be back amongst blog friends ... the doings of blog land can easily whisk out of your grasp when you leave them for a while so I am bumbling to catch up a little. All your kind kind words are appreciated and enjoyed as ever, and it will be incredible when we have our mobile internet and can blog on the hoof. I leave you with an evening scene in the truck, parked somewhere between here and there... outside there are ominous forest rustlings, and inside, a cup of Horlicks.