There and back and there and back again
It's our beautiful Beth's wedding in Edinburgh in a few weeks time. Actually, it's also beautiful Doug's wedding too. Coincidence?
I think not.
Only having five weeks off, we decided that we'd take our time sauntering north for the festivities, by way of some of the Big Folk. So a couple of days ago we braved the Belgian equivalent of the Halls of Moria, arriving unscathed, and left Dunkirk for Dover. Despite the circumstances - just a week or so after the attack in Manchester - security was not greatly (at least not visibly) increased. Nevertheless the standard treatment these days amounts to two walk-around searches of the campervan. In Juicy this means two steps and a small semicircle by the heavily armed kid with a gun. Fortunately, nothing to find except a watercress plant and a stash of socks.
An easy and sunny crossing brought us back to the white cliffs, and we docked on time in Dover. I admit to a sense of sadness returning this time: without meaning to sound too melancholy nor nostalgic, it occurred to me that this was no longer the England that I once believed it to be. Particularly in the south - the home territory of UKIP supporters and Leave voters. I can't help finding it ironic that a generation that had it better than any before, and likely better than any to come in the next half century, are the heartbeat of the anti-immigration and effectively anti-youth movement. And a generation whose life-expectancy, ironically, means that we are bankrupting the NHS and depleting the national tax income. I know, I generalise - I'm sure there are many in their 70s, 80s and 90s who feel quite differently; and I feel privileged to be related to some of them.
But the tendency of that significantly xenophobic, homophobic and misopaedic minority of the electorate are about to return to power a governmental institution which perfectly reflects their prejudices (the Conservative party enjoys a 49% lead in the over 65s).
Perhaps it would be interesting for this population to realise that it's not just their age... Yougov.co.uk statistics show the 'ignorance gap' too: 53% of those with no formal education would vote Conservative (compare 18% for Labour), whereas for each qualification a elector holds, that trend is reversed! The more educated you are (the less ignorant), the more likely you are to vote Labour.
But rather than be miserable about this entitled demographic, I've decided to help them. Below is a map I've annotated in a manner which they may find sympathetic - and may help them plan their next holiday abroad. I'm good like that.
Anyway. Rant over. For now.
On our first day of the Low Road Tour to Scotland we headed west to Michele n Mel's. Such a lovely house - and their beds even have mattresses (we were forced to throw ours out of the camper after discovering mold. It's now in our garage at home unsuccessfully concealing a bright red LandRover). And don't take my word about their lovely four-storey Victorian seaside home - you can stay there too! They've been operating as an AirBnB for a while now, with much success. You can find Pier & Now on the AirBnB site. And if you like the house name, you'll like their wireless network name too: Pier2Pier. Right?
Always lovely to stay with them both. We sat out in the terraced garden for hours the following morning attempting to complete the cryptic crossword. Very cerebral. And hopeless.
Faced as they were with a houseful that evening, we left Mish n Mel to it mid-afternoon and prepared to head north to the Bedford area for a 'Sunday lunch' date with Mitch and Sophie. On the way we decided we would brave Ikea and pick ourselves up a new mattress too. Mission accomplished, we rang to check arrangements for lunch the next day (we needed to find a campsite - hence the mattress requirement), and then.... ended up in West Mersea in time for a beautiful sunset over The Strood.