Life’s a pitch and then you drive: From Happy to Hope

From Happy to Hope

“Is everyone happy?” asked Kerry, to which she was given a resounding “YES!”.

Of course we were happy, we had, after all, just dropped down into Happy Valley (a lovely little strip of greenery on the South Downs that’s perfect for dog walking and hill rolling). But, it wasn’t just some weird neuroscience thing happening due to the name of the place (how can you not be happy if you are literally in a happy place?). No. We were happy because we were in a place we all love more than anywhere else… the outdoors.

We’d traversed open fields to get to this happy place and our views were lined with trees, our ears were filled with natural sounds (mainly) and there was space to run around in, freely. Oh, and thanks to the recent wet weather, there was plenty of mud to squelch through and roll in (yep, more rolling) when the Surrey cousins arrived and two kids became four and chasing, chatting, football and ‘pile-ons’ were enjoyed in abundance. There was lots more rolling, too.
Muddy field
The following day we were leaving Alderstead Heath and heading north… well, more like anti-clockwise; via the the dreaded M25 (dah dah daghhh! – read in a scary sort of horror sound effect kind of way). The Road of Hell is another name for the M25. But I think this is all a little bit unfair on what is – let’s be honest – a remarkable feat of civil engineering. An orbital service road to London from – well, everywhere in the country.

It’s popularity is it’s downfall, so let’s remember that when we are cursing slow moving traffic or standstills due to yet another accident (how inconvenient for everyone once we’ve crowd towards it and rubber-necked past it). The M25 is a concrete and tarmacadan marvel. A motorway unique in the sense that should you miss your junction, no problem, just keep driving and you’ll come to it again in a few hours time (or probably longer). And as silly as this might seem, according to a faded anecdote orbiting somewhere in my memory, some fool did actually do exactly that.

For me, the M25 is only a road from hell, when you are driving on it like the Devil himself, in some stressed-fuelled, I’m in a rush so I will tailgate any mother trucker that dares to hold me up. I’m in the fast lane of life and this god-damn road is a metaphorical speed bump. I’m important (more important than anyone else by the way, don’t you know that). I’m pumped and super-fuelled with adrenaline and revved up more than my car/bus/lorry engine. “Grrrr, grrrr” (and that’s not the sound of my 2.3 Turbo-charged motor you can hear).

On the other hand, and this is something I have learned over the last year or so since towing a caravan or driving a motorhome, the only way to really travel is in the slow lane. Remove the need to rush from A to B and you’ll enjoy the journey so much more. You’ll notice details along the way: red kites in the sky, kestrels hovering by the roadside, you’ll spot rainbows, odd-shaped clouds and see details that would normally flash past in a blur. Take time on journeys and enjoy them. Even hold ups take on a new light when you accept them (and maybe expect them). They certainly are much easier to swallow with a mouthful of tea (made in the back of the motorhome when the traffic comes to a standstill). Very English: Keep Calm and put the Kettle On.

For us, journeys are really important in terms of the girls’ learning. When we hit the road, our mobile home becomes our mobile classroom and not one minute is wasted. Maths, English… whatever work is on-the-go gets attention while we are on-the-go. Journey times are now so productive and important to us for not just getting us to our next destination (the change of scenery and excitement of visiting somewhere keeps life fresh and interesting) but as a part of our en-route road-schooling.

When we arrived at our next pitch – Wyatt’s Covert – we explored the local area on bike (more recently, our favoured way to travel once we’ve parked up). We quickly spotted a small nature reserve in the local area and headed out to go looking for hazel wood – the perfect wood for some bush craft that Amy had planned (she’s making some hand-made hazel gifts to give out as Christmas presents). Apart from the odd dog walker and smelly (I’ve just rolled in fox poo) Labrador we had the place to ourselves. And there was an abundance of hazel; it was literally coppicing up from everywhere.

Amy whittling

Amy set to work on her first hazel product, a paperknife with decorated handle, demonstrating respect and skill when using a knife and tree saw. Ella, on the other hand, was away on her bike; heading into Denham village for some ingredients needed for the coconut bird feeder she was making to hang up on a tree at the site we were staying on and then watching wide-eyed at the birds (robins, great tits and sparrows) that feasted on the lardy mix that certainly needed the warning: May Contain Nuts (and seeds, and Rice Crispies, and apple, and blueberries, and porridge oats). As parents that value the appreciation of the outdoors and wildlife, it fills us with great pride to see Amy and Ella getting down and dirty with nature; not afraid to get their hands dirty, and opening showing that they are passionate about taking care for the natural world.

Ella and the bird feeder

Denham village was chosen by us as a stay-over location as I had to travel into London on Tuesday afternoon to deliver the last session of a ‘develop your public speaking skills’ course I was running at Pedlars Shop/cafe in Notting Hill where apartments cost more than a few £million to buy and silly money to even rent. I like travelling into London, for one reason, really; to reinforce that that is just not the place for me! I’ve lived in North London for three years at one point in my life, so I get that it has the buzz… the fascinating mix of cultures and ethnicities. I love that about London. But the work, work and work a bit more culture… the work late, get up early and work late cycle that you get trapped into just so you can, well, just exist, is not for me. Not now I value my time more and am driven to spend my time wisely and with discernment. I saw too many poor souls sat on tube trains looking like they were paying for the ‘privilege’ of living in London with their lives!

And with London out of our system, we head up North with intentions of outdoor adventures and happy days in the Peaks.

Chocks away and off we go; in search of Hope.


We are currently travelling around the UK (and beyond) on an Edventure, road-schooling Amy and Ella in an AutoQuest 180 motorhome which is on loan to us by Elddis