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30th June 2021 – On The Road

Disclaimer: Although nothing in this post is sexual, it contains details of my life, banter and conversations that happen within a self-described 24/7 D/s dynamic and is aimed at normalising and providing acceptance of those of us who choose to live this way. For further reading on my decision not to provide an adult content disclaimer on my non-sexual posts, please see my post “LGBTQ+K: A Case For “Kinky” As A Sexuality“. Thank you.

Contains some strong language. 

I woke just shy of 8AM, an unusual conquest for me. As of late I’ve been in bed still past 10AM, something that I’ve been desperately trying to change. Mentally, I think things haven’t quite been right for a few weeks, and there were a few key signs, like being up all night an staying in bed late. I don’t think it’s anxiety and depression, but rather, I think it’s stress. There are demands on me, things to remember, things to sort out and so on. All things to do, on top of the daily grind.

I don’t say that I have more to do than the average person, but as a home keeper, anyone who has ever taken on a major project on top of daily living will understand what I’m going through. It never stops at just cooking meals or mopping up spills, there is painting, decorating, rearranging, replacing, shopping as well, and unless you have a bottomless bank account, then all of that hard work falls down to you, too.

One of the biggest things on my mind at the moment is the prospect of a conservatory. I have the main letter written, but I still have to draw out a handful of diagrams to show dimensions, and how it won’t negatively impact our neighbours in any way. If we get it, then it won’t act like a sunroom anyway. For us, it will act like a dining room, an office space for me and, hopefully, a space for a tumble dryer in the corner. If we get it, then I plan to put a small piece of worktop offcut on top of the tumble dryer and trim it in nicely. Et voila! Space for a little breakfast service area so that we can enjoy our morning brews and the sights and sounds of the garden. I’m a simple thing really, until…

Yesterday, I had a catch up with my mother. It was odd, and it was also nice in a rather unfortunate way. I love my brother dearly, but his constant need to be in the limelight seriously frustrates me sometimes. I haven’t ever thought to diagnose him with some kind of label or disorder exactly, I just accept him for who he is and identify the behaviours that I find more difficult. He played the digeridoo at almost any opportunity in my teenage years (there’s a photo of me somewhere sat on a wall behind him with my arms folded while he plays. Clearly, I was not enthused!). There was the handpan, the centrepiece of a family gathering with some international friends that the occasion could have easily done without. There was the singing at almost every family Christmas party, after which he took to belittling my piano skills. He also critiques other people’s cooking, despite having little experience, known cooking reputation or qualifications that reasonably allow him to do so. More recently, there is his frequent conspiracy theory sharing, his consistently angry nature and his tendency to interrupt when others are speaking in a group, as well as what transpired the last time that I saw him. Yes, even if I love my brother dearly, just sometimes, not seeing him is almost an act of self-preservation in itself.

My mother knows about my lifestyle, and for the most part, we’re both pretty open and honest about it now. I say most but obviously, the more explicit details we keep very much to ourselves. I do feel as though our relationship has changed, it’s almost as platonic as it is familial. I’m her therapist sometimes, as well as her daughter. Whereas my brother takes her on crazy adventures, I welcome her into my simplicity, I share cooking hacks, I help her find solutions to problems and I introduced her to the delights of robot vaccums, a gift she still thanks me for. Yesterday, we talked more about my amaxophobia, and how dastardly it is. We talked travel, we talked adventure, we even talked me picking up driving lessons again, but damn cars for being so expensive and so environmentally un-friendly. Were it not for that, I’d be on the road by now. I love driving and I’m even pretty confident at it. I thank Dad for that one.

“Let me ask you something, do you want to come to Cornwall?” Mum asked, I sighed. That was a tough call.

“If I’m being honest, I’m kind of bored of Cornwall” I said, not quite sure what I was saying. Bored of Cornwall? Is that even a thing?

But for me, I think it might be.

I love Cornwall, but I always go to Perranporth, Newquay and Portreath. I love all three for their rugged nature, but really, it’s time for a change. When you think about going on vacation as a part of the same old routine rather than an exciting adventure, then to me, you have a problem. I’ve been going to Cornwall with my family since 1998. Really, it’s time for something new. I’m not saying I won’t go back, I mean, it’s still Cornwall.

“I sort of keep thinking about coming over to Wales sometime, relive my rallying days” I said softly. We were a part of the CSMA, or the Civil Service Motoring Association, a special privilege that comes as a reward for your time as a civil servant, both of which my parents were. Amongst things, cheaper breakdown cover and five-days breaks are, or were, a bonus. I travelled much of the UK, staying in one place for five nights, then packing up and moving on to another. I was seldom at home during the school holidays, instead, we’d be on the road. Oh yes, those were the days. We saw lots of places in the process, too – though we did return to a few.

On these camping rallies, the trips were held by groups and our particular weakness was for the Gwent group, or the Welsh group. On those trips I was, some might say, adopted. I didn’t just have two sets of grandparents at home, I had four or five sets of adopted grandparents, all Welsh, while I was away. I grew up loving and respecting the elderly, I grew up baking Welsh cakes with Nanny Sylvia or playing darts or boules with Grandad John and Reg. I was seldom in our caravan for long. Once everyone had arrived, we’d all be off, catching up. I can remember celebrating my GCSE results on one rally, called into a circle of those attending by Nanny Sylvia. I was presented with a box of chocolates and a card that everyone had signed. Those were ‘rallying days’.

If I may, then I want to divert you here to the rivalry that used to go on between ourselves, the English, and our Welsh counterparts. Some might say it was brutal, but it was all in good fun and is something that has gone on for years. England and Wales have that sort of sibling relationship, that kind of relationship whereby if you attack my little brother then I’m coming after you, but if I do it then it’s okay. We love one another, but we love tormenting one another, too. I’ve dated Welsh men, and I’ve loved Welsh men. Heck, even my own husband is 25% Welsh himself!

But I digress.

On these rallies, each caravan or tent had a holder made from a ground spike and a piece of UPVC pipe, and in that holder was some sort of flagpole with a flag, typically symbolic of the family’s nationality or something else meaningful to them (one even had their family crest, which was different). It was interesting, and usually, it was a great conversation-starter. Once the banter started though, all kinds of antics ensued. We’d have an on-site game of ‘Capture The Flag’, where the Welsh would swap out our England flag for one of their own, and vice versa. There was the time that I may or may not have been (read: I totally was) responsible for sneakily attaching England car flags to the back of Grandad Reg’s car as he drove off site to return home. Anything ‘England’ that we could sneak into proceedings, we would: England drinks flasks at the AGM meeting, England mugs at coffee morning, England tablecloths at the communal barbeque, England teddy bears as raffle prizes, and so on. If you can name it, we probably did it, that’s just the family that I come from. If you’re easily offended, then trust me, we are not the family for you.

Among the back-and-forth banter is such that we say that Welsh farmers love their sheep so much, they must have had intimate relations with them. Keep this in mind, because it is relevant to this story.

On one glorious occasion, there was an inflatable sheep presented up the site flag pole, a responsibility for which my family were not accountable. Young and curious, my brother asked Grandad John about the decoration, and Grandad John pulled my brother aside and gently explained. All was fine and nothing more was said.

A few days later, we attended a local farmer’s market. It made for a pleasant afternoon out and a nice experience of the local community, at least, that was, until my brother spotted a local, friendly butcher.

“Excuse me? I have a question… ” my brother said, gently tapping the butcher’s white coat. Endeared, the gentleman bent down to speak to my brother.

“What is it, young man?” the butcher asked, grinning from ear to ear.

“Well, I was just wondering…” my brother began, “is it true that the Welsh farmers shag their sheep?”

Needless to say, we left there pretty quick!

But in spite of the banter and exploring new places, rallying days are not how most people imagine camping or caravanning. Most sites were basic and rugged, with only drinking water and an Elsan (dirty water) point at bare minimum. If we had electricity hook-ups then we were lucky, and anything else was a bonus. At best, we had a heated outdoor pool, a children’s play area, heated toilet and shower facilities and a farmhouse shop, and at the worst, we had to mow our own pitches before we could park up. Even if caravanning seemed cushy and privileged up to camping, caravans too take quite a bit of work.

But paradoxically, it’s that work that I like.

I like that you don’t have enough room to have mess.

I like that you can’t stay in bed because otherwise you have nowhere to sit for breakfast, and I like that you can’t have a long shower because the water runs out if you do. It encourages you to adapt, it encourages you to improvise and at times, it encourages you to slow down. It encourages you to appreciate your surroundings and to make your own entertainment, too.

I liked Cornwall, but it was time for a change.

“It’s motorways that I really don’t like” I explained, “I feel trapped because you can’t just stop when you want to.”

I know that my amaxophobia stems in losing control. Even in a BDSM scene, I can use “red” and it stops. I can shout “indigo, red and fucking purple!” in a car doing 70MPH on the motorway, and that fucker still isn’t stopping because I want it to. That’s an intense loss of control that my mind just won’t let me deal with.

I do think it’s got worse since losing Dad, or maybe since leaving the family home. I’m not used to anyone’s driving anymore and I’ve lot my road confidence as a result. There was a time that I’d take motorways all in my stride and there was a time that we’d fly over the motorway bridge to exercise the dogs or drive down to the beach for an afternoon out, just because. Not now, not anymore. If it’s frustrating for those that I love, it’s incredibly frustrating for me too. After all, I want to be travelling with them..

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