An Englishman abroad
In just two week’s time, we’ll be sitting in our apartment. We’ll have woken to our first day in our new Berlin abode. How strange, how soon and how unreal. Of course, this is assuming our car gets us there.
I went for a nice meal with some ex-colleagues last night. We went to the Strickland Arms and they very kindly paid for my meal. I wasn’t really in the mood to eat out at the start. I’ve been quite preoccupied with one thing and another. The time to meet caught up on me so I hadn’t adjusted to social mode. Still, it was very nice to see them and we were soon chuckling and chatting like we always do.
They were the first people I’ve said goodbye to – in that won’t-see-you-before-I-go kinda way. I wasn’t quite ready for it. I drove home with a real sense that we’re leaving. Don’t get me wrong – this is both a happy and sad feeling. Pleasantly poignant, perhaps. If that can possibly be.
It’s been a bit of a phony war recently. Since finishing work, I’ve had lots of things to do. Freelance work and sorting our things. I’m getting a little anxious that we’re in for a shock.
I keep getting this sense that we haven’t fully understood the scale of the moving job in hand. Store, ditch or take – those are the only three options for a bungalow full of stuff. There is a strict limit on the amount of stuff we can take – it has to fit in the boot of a Ford Focus. Unlike a suit case, you can’t sit on a car to squeeze the boot shut. There’s another strict limit on the amount of stuff we can store too and throwing things away has never been my strength – unless it’s an important document. In that case, I can throw all kinds of things away. (We had a horrible morning a few weeks ago, going through the rubbish looking for nearly €200 in cash – they were in the draw all along).
The truth is, I’ve been looking forward to Berlin so much, I’ve forgotten to say goodbye. There are a few things about Cumbria that I just never learned to love. But there are some things that maybe I hadn’t realised I’d grown fond of.
I’m thinking of places like River Fortune, the Chinese Restaurant and take-away. Their happy hour has been a great place to digest oriental cuisine. Coincidentally, it’s also been our place to digest news about redundancies in both our work places.
Then there’s The Brewery. A beating heart in a county without the strongest pulse. Rhispeck to the Brewery.
There’s the view from our lounge window. You can see past Oxenholme and across to the Helm. The sun comes up over the hill every morning and always provides something special to look at.
There’s Chang Thai. A delicious Thai take-away in Kendal. I mean, seriously delicious. Perhaps our number one treat.
Then there’s the little bonfires we’ve had in our back garden. We bought a firepit last year. It’s essentially a big wok on legs and it lets you burn stuff without setting your garden on fire. Okay, it doesn’t set the garden on fire but it has scorched a perfect circle in the grass more than once. There’s something special about a bonfire – the heat, the light and the flames. It’s just kinda cosy.
Finally, and the thing I’ll miss the most, is our home here in Kendal. Our 1960s bungalow. It’s been perfect for us. We’ve spent so many hours working on computers, cooking pasta, dicking about, playing Tribes: Vengeance, watching TV and DVDs and sipping the odd glass or can of something alcoholic. It’s definitely been our home. I’m grateful to this brick box for that.
Best of all, the thing I’m going to miss most isn’t exclusive to Kendal, or even the UK. It’s that sense of home. No matter what we store or ditch. No matter what we squeeze into the boot. With any luck, that’ll be coming with us.