An odd title for a post that starts with a picture of a roadside cafe stop? It's been a very odd week indeed, and one that started so wonderfully well, and so I want to begin at the start of last weekend. The title will be better explained later. I'm not even sure if it's something that I should share, or if indeed you all want to hear, but this is, as I have said in the past. 'A DAY IN THE LIFE'. I must apologise for not commenting more on your posts recently, but events have been, how can I say, distracting.
We had booked into a campsite on the edge of Dartmoor for three nights, packed everything up on the Thursday night, and made a nice mid-morning start on our journey the following day. There was no rush, and so we stopped at this little cafe for a cup of coffee, before setting off again.
'Camp Gary and Amanda' was soon set up shortly after arrival at the site, with all mod cons and creature comforts installed. We particularly love our rather bright and tasteless Blackpool Beach windbreaks, and they go with us every time, much I expect to the dismay of other campers. But this was our patch for the next few days, and we were claiming it!
We like a comfortable nights sleep as you can see.
We were both very tired, and so after an afternoon of reading and rest, and then a spot of food cooked on the barbecue, we went to bed early, to be nice and awake the following day.
We had planned to visit two National Trust properties, and the place for today was Cotehele House.
Not far from the campsite, the journey involved lots of driving through some lovely country lanes and scenery.
The place is lovely, and we spent the whole day there, ending with a late picnic down by the small harbour.
I even got to play with a few boys toys while we were there. These were the real thing, hence the gloves, to prevent sweat and oil from hands damaging the pieces. This particular sword was surprisingly easy to handle, and was used in a sideways cutting sweep to cut through men, and horses legs. Brutal times.
A pint at the pub was followed by some dinner back at the tent, which in turn was followed by some cake, a few 'snifters' of JD, and some games of dominoes, all presided over by Travel Ted of course.
We awoke quite early the next morning, and the view across to the moor was breathtaking. Dartmoor holds some very dear memories for me, as I spent far too much of my time wild camping and exploring on it in my youth. My first adventure was at the age of 14, when along with a mate of the same age, we hiked from Okehampton at the mostly northerly point, to Ivybridge at the most southerly, then along to Plymouth to catch the bus home. Armed only with mental pictures of the place from reading 'Hound of the Baskervilles, some basic camping gear, a map and a compass, we took two weeks, and it was simply the best adventure ever.
After breakfast we headed to our second place, Antony House. A property that is still tenanted by the family that have lived here for generations, and who can be seen on occasion walking and talking amongst the visitors. The house is warmly personal, as you would expect from it still being lived in, and containing all of the current family's personal belongings. The gardens are exquisite, and are the base for an intense garden training programme that has seen many a gardener employed in some of the finest gardens in the UK.
This particular corner was our favourite, with three photographs of grandson, father and grandfather, all in their youth. My glass lust was satisfied by the collection of Nailsea paperweights and doorstops, and Hydrangeas and a lovely lamp completed the setting.
There were two of these wooden plant holder. They are made of wood, and people just walked by without giving them a second glance. I thought they were rather special, and so skilfully made.
There were intimate areas around every corner, and this knot garden was one of them. Although this style is included in some of my favourite types of garden, I felt that the hedges were a little too high, making the view and feeling rather cold.
We stayed at Antony all day as well. We had a bite to eat in the tent, and this time one of our favourite camp food, tinned curry and new potatoes. It was very cold by about 9pm, and so hot tea accompanied a game or two of backgammon, and of course some tummy warming JD and some biscuits. Even Travel Ted had to wrap up warm.
It had been a rainy and stormy night, and the morning was pretty much the same. Not what you want when you have to pack up camp and head home. We were at least lucky enough to get a very brief lull in the rain, and so all was thrown into the back of the van in a messy heap. We drove to the shower block on the way out to freshen up, as we wanted to grab breakfast in Tavistock before the drive home.
It was here that things started to get strange. I was in the shower, and half way through had one of the most disorientating experiences I have ever felt. On reaching to hit the shower button to keep the flow going, it moved toward me, whilst the walls moved away, and then sideways. Convinced that I may be about to faint, throw up, or both, I quickly sat on the floor, and thankfully the feeling passed and all was well again. Must have been just a faint.
We both got back into the van, and then enjoyed a lovely breakfast, and chatted about my fainting session amongst other things, as we sipped our tea. It was still raining hard when we set off and took the road that cuts through the middle of Dartmoor itself. A wonderful drive, beautiful scenery, and lots of memories for both of us, of the days spent in our earlier years together camping out there.
By the time we hit the main drive back, the weather was atrocious, but steady progress was made, and I even commented to Amanda that we should be home early, a comment that we both thought may tempt fate, and how it did!
It was as we were approaching the top of a long hill, on a very fast moving dual carriageway, in driving rain and fog, that the van decided to die on us. As it turned out by the end of the day, just some dirt in the fuel being sucked up. But break down we did, and with a third of the van sticking out into the carriageway. With the weather condition so atrocious, speeding cars coming up behind us had to veer around at the last minute, luckily warned a little by our hazard lights. I called the AA breakdown, who as it turned out were useless, if not dangerous, but that aside, I noticed that my hands were shaking, something they never do. I ignored it, we talked for a few seconds, and then it happened. A feeling similar to that in the shower, and leaving me just enough time to tell my very worried wife that I was 'going again', only this time I went. I came around to a scared Amanda shaking me, and doing her best to re-assure me, in what must have been one of the scariest situations I can imagine. I thought I had fainted, but as it turns out, my face had dropped on one side, my arms, legs and head were shaking, and I was talking in slow motion. Needless to say, in the next instant she called an ambulance.
So there we have it, a broken down van, a very dodgy place to be stuck, an ambulance and then two police cars to ensure that the van is not going to cause a crash. The van at least was moved a few feet further onto the grass, and we both were made safe and secure in the ambulance, whereupon I was connected to wires and tubes, had blood taken, the works. The ambulance was told to move by the police, the police were told that there were just a couple of further tests to do before they could, and the police shouted to the ambulance driver to MOVE. As I mentioned earlier, not a good spot to break down. The drive to hospital was quick, and during this rather surreal ordeal I thought of Travel Ted, still in his seat in the van window, on his own, possible until the following day.....silly I know.
The next how ever many hours were spent being wired up again, and going through numerous tests for a stroke or TIA, all of which came out ok thank goodness. Doctors suspect that it was a seizure, whether it's the start of epilepsy, a one off fit, or somethin g more sinister, further tests will tell. Son-in-law and his mate came to the rescue at some point, and managed to get the van going and bring it home at least. The van has been fine ever since. When we got home, all was very strange indeed, simply because of the events that had suddenly unfolded thoughout the day. I was scared, Amanda too, and we were both incredibly tired. I was lying awake at 3.30am, when a feeling rose in my legs as though a heat lamp were on them, it spread to my stomach, the otherworldly, nauseating feeling came back, and I just lay there, terrified that I was going to die. I didn't, and even stayed conscious, and after talking to Amanda, fell into deep sleep. The otherworldly and nauseating feeling came back again in the toilet three hours later, and no black out. It's now a week later, and nothing else has happened. Notification from the seizure clinic should arrive today or tomorrow, with an appointment to have my head wired up, so that they can get to the bottom of it all. In the meantime I am not allowed to drive for a year, and not allowed to use ladders, steps or hedgetrimmers, and so Amanda now has do work full time with me in case I fit, drive us everywhere, and family pulled in wherever possible to handle the dangerous machinery. I am not happy. Life is very complicated at the moment, and for the foreseeable future.
I don't really know why I need to write on here about this, maybe it's therapeutic in some way to go over things, yet again. Maybe it's something another can gleen any help from if they read it, I don't know.
I do know that at the moment I feel as though I am about to pass out at any moment, and possibly not wake up. I feel scared, tired, and don't really know how we are going to manage to keep it all together both at home and at work. A working day is about to start, son-in-law is arriving in an hour to drive us around some of the properties. I am dreading it, not my usual feeling, but life goes on as they say. I keep trying to read all of your posts, but can't concentrate. I'm sure it will all pass, but for now I will be dipping in and out of blogland.