Firstly sorry this has taken so long to publish, we hit the ground running this end and then someone must have pressed the fast forward because we have been flat out ever since.
We made it home to England safely on board the large new Airbus A380 Tuesday 6th May almost fours years to the day when we left. We flew home with British Airways (who were very good) but their A380 was out of sight of the terminal so we took a picture of Boofle (Karen’s mascot) with a Quantas A380 instead.
As we said we hit the ground running, no house, no money, no transport but immediate help came in the form of Karen’s best friend Donna and her husband Mark who not only collected us from the airport but gave us a room for the night, a car to use for a month or two and some cash to tide us over until we can pay them back. All of this when they are dealing with their own set of problems. Whilst we were stuck in the hotel in Tijuana Mexico trying to get back across the border Karen learnt from Donna that Mark had had a massive seizure in the night and was now under going tests for a brain tumour which thankfully has since been diagnosed as benign. It is Mark’s car we are now driving, he has been told he can’t ride or drive for a year at least.
Karen was desperate to fly home to help Donna and had a small understanding of how helpless the folks at home felt when she was in the hospital in Australia. We have been back to their place to cut the grass and trim the garden while they are having a short break and we are going to help them all we can in the coming months. Mark is/was the full time caretaker of the family home, his mum still lives in the main section and Mark had a full time job looking after the acres of grass mowing, strimming and maintaining the property which is a bit tricky when you have been told you cannot drive or operate machinery. Their place looks like they should be millionaires and has been owned by the family since the 1950′s but they are ordinary folks who make a modest living by renting the remaining wings of the family house to pay Mark a wage for all his work. Mark is doing okay but will need an operation to remove the tumour.
We made it home in time to see the great swathes of English bluebells in the woods, it’s a shame some of you will never smell a bluebell wood as it is quite magical and something we missed whilst on the road. Spring is a beautiful time of year in England and everywhere looked soooooo green after California which has had months of serious drought.
The reason we had to cut short our trip in the first place was that Kev’s mums health had taken a marked turn for the worse. We rang Mum from Mark and Donna’s to say we would be back the next day.
Kev’s mum was on crutches permanently when we left in 2010 as she has no hip joint in one leg but she was able to look after herself in her own home with little outside help. During our trip she had a serious heart attack which friends and family deliberately kept from us until she had recovered. She has also since developed osteoporoisis (brittle porous bones) partly due to her lack of mobility.
Most of her health problems have been physical but in the last few months she seemed to be having mental problems too which is why we eventually had to come home.
It seems the problem started with a serious infection several months ago, this did not respond to initial treatments and Margaret was left with strange symptoms of audio halucinations, panic attacks and confusion, these apparently can be side effects of this condition or they could be caused by side effects of the drugs she is now having to take or possibly even the early stages of dementia. We are still not sure what the diagnosis is and mum has a hospital appointment later in June to try to establish the cause.
When we finally made it home Kev’s sister Emma was just about burnt out from trying to manage her own house, a full time job and her mum’s health and we came home just in time. Emma was dispatched home for some well needed R & R and we took over the task of caring for Margaret. It was only really then that we realised how bad things had got, Mum was calling the police and neighbours in the middle of the night because she could hear things that were not really there and she was getting confused and scared that she was going to be put in a home. An ambulance was called in the early hours one morning as she was out in the road in her nightclothes because she was having a panic attack.
We are making some progress now, we have good and bad days but the real Margaret is emerging again we are glad to say. The problems she was experiencing seem to have diminished a little and hopefully we will be able to establish the cause and treat or at least manage it.
We have been living with Kev’s mum in his old family home since our return but in two separate bed rooms as we have no double bed in the house. We had our own rented house before but had to give it up when we left in 2010. Kev’s mum has recently decided she wants to move to the smaller front bedroom which is warmer, has more light and is nearer to the bathroom. This will free up the larger bedroom which we can fit a double bed in. We will definitely be here for a couple of months while we get on our feet, find a job and resume “normal “ life. If Margaret improves sufficiently we will find our own place to live in a few months once we are working again, if not we may have to stay here and look after her but that’s okay too.
We also found this photo of our old dogs Sam and Laddie (sadly no longer with us) so for all of you who had pets that we fussed over and walked, these were our two.
Kev has applied for many jobs and has been lucky to get through to interview stage for two so we will keep our fingers crossed. Karen has not managed to find her CV amongst our possesions in the loft so her job hunting is almost non existent so far. Finding her CV or re writing it is our next big priority.
STOP PRESS – Kev has found a job and starts on Monday details to follow.
We have been super busy but managed some time out at Mark and Donnas one evening when we went down to their local country pub for a beer. It was a beautiful evening and we enjoyed supping some real ale watching the sheep in the field opposite.
We also met up with Karen’s parents shortly after we returned as they were up our way visiting friends, it was a good reunion and we enjoyed a meal out with them. (Sorry the picture is a bit blurry.) Karen has still to see her sister who lives in Devon which by UK standards is a long way away but they have been in touch by phone.
Now we are slightly more in control of the roller coaster ride we have been on lately we can gradually start to organise things and plan ahead a little. This weekend we took time off and spent Saturday afternoon at the excellent diesel bike rally in Billingshurst (pictures below) arranged by the www.dieselbike.net website which is run by some friends of ours.
It was while we were looking around the bikes at the rally that we found out about another event called Musos on Bikes at nearby Broadbridge Heath so we dropped in there on the way back too. Here we ran into many old friends, it was also an evening event with bands so we returned after dinner where we then spent a very enjoyable time catching up with all our biking friends who all seemed to have turned out en mass. As it was unplanned no one knew we were coming to the event (or even back in the country) so we spent the evening making people go “wow, you’re are back” lots of hugs, handshakes, kisses and general good times ensued. It has been really good fun seeing friends we have not seen for four years they all said we looked younger so take note world travel is good for you.
The weekend was finished off by Karen’s V50 passing its MOT (roadworthy) so for the first time in four years she jumped on her own bike for a ride and came back grinning from ear to ear.
Our bike has now left the USA but it will take her a month to return to England, we are quite jealous of her as she will travel through the Panama gap without us meaning she got further south than we did!!
We expect her home sometime in mid June.
We will probably reduce the current news unless something major has happened (Karen getting a job, the bike returning, etc) but we will still do an update every now and then.
The blogs will continue to chart our progress from Anchorage in Alaska all the way down to the Baja in Mexico, we hope you enjoy them.
Up next is Anchorage the first instalment from the 1st August 2013