As I mentioned Sally’s business had been expanding and increasing at an exponential pace, and the yard, which had once held the five lorries and ten trailers, was now expected to hold ten lorries and fifteen trailers, plus three other lorries with trailers which parked there overnight and at the weekends. Sally, now Mark was there full time, had needed more living space so another larger caravan had been purchased which also needed siting; plus some problems up at the farm meant a large static caravan, and an RV as big as Thebus now needed to be housed.
I had finished with my seemingly endless rounds of chemo, and was recuperating and waiting for the hysterectomy promised to me at the end of February. So I decided that if someone would drive there it would be sensible for Thebus Phobe and Me to move onto the piece of riverside land I purchased last year; and which was sited just along the river, less than ten minutes from Sally and half an hour from my brother in Pedmore.
.The little plot of land is in very pretty countryside, bordering right onto the River Severn and has its own pontoon and moorings, though I have little intention of using them. I had already paid for a borehole to be sunk and some hardstanding for Thebus and any visitors, so it is a good place to park up as and when I need to. Its only drawback being the approach to it (and of course exit) is very tight and steep for most vehicles, let along something as large as Thebus.
My original intention (before I was diagnosed) had been to travel to warmer foreign climes during the winter months, then return to the UK when the weather got too hot for me (and the summer tourist traffic was building up) to spend the summer catching up with friends and family in the UK.
So as soon as Thebus could be extricated from within the tangle of lorries and trailers Sally drove us down, and Phoebe and I soon settled down to our new surroundings.
The view out is lovely – looking across the river to the open fields and countryside. My plot is within yards of a riverside walk through beautiful hanging woods growing on the steep river cliff, and leading through to Stourport town centre, though sadly impassable for me on my scooter. Considering it is the Severn Way and quite a major walking route I would have thought there might have been more maintenance – I have to say France takes far more pride in their surroundings; but as always, perhaps the grass appears greener on unreachable fields!
Still speaking of grass Phoebe was in her element. Having spent so much time cooped up on the tarmac yard since last July it was the first time, other than a the few Christmas days at my brother’s house where she had enjoyed the freedom of his lawn, that she had a chance to feel grass under her feet, and as always it gave her ‘The Zoomies’ – A phrase that all the Great Dane owner’s understand; namely, when, feeling the softness of the ground under their pads, they feel an irresistible urge to ‘zoom’ round in large circles, tails tucked underneath them and backs hunched. So funny to watch. She is so quick and the circles so very large it was impossible for me to film, so I will add some of the photos taken at Christmas where she had less acreage to ‘let fly’ but even then filming was impossible for me.
Not exactly ‘The Zoomies’ but Phoebe enjoying the feeling of grass rather than gravel under her feet.
We pootled around – taking the occasional walk along the towpath, seeing the slots of the local woodland deer in the muddy path, watching the water birds, and listening to the early spring songs of the birds, and the hooting of owls at night. All very peaceful and soothing. But the aforementioned mud was soon to cause a problem.
Knowing I had the operation coming up, but not knowing how long I might have to spend in hospital or recuperating somewhere, I felt that the time was opportune to sort out those jobs inevitably needed on Thebus, as it would give Dave, at the Motorhome Repairer’s, free access to Thebus with both Phoebe and myself elsewhere. But there was a bit of a problem.
The spot I was parked in, though idyllic, was situated at the bottom of a steep river cliff, adjacent to a major river, consequently the land was subject to waterlogging. When I decided to move there the weather had been dry and sunny for quite a while, and everywhere conditions underfoot were drying out. But I might have foreseen that ‘February Fill-dyke’ would catch me out – and he did.
After a couple of glorious spring days full of sunshine, sparkling water and bird song the weather changed and it began to rain. Then rain some more, then rain quite a lot more, with the result that when I decided I needed to drive over to Cannock I instantly got ‘stuck in the mud’.
I knew Mike was coming over to see me that morning and thought it was a good idea to try moving before he arrived, as if I got stuck he might be able to help, but in fact the ground was so wet and Thebus so heavy that as soon as one of the back wheels was off the only bit of hardcore I was well and truly stuck.
Sally was called for, and lovely girl that she is, came down with a four-wheel drive pick-up and re-inforcements to see what could be done. With lots of bricks under the wheels, some digging out, and a tow-rope on the front axle (why don’t they fit a towing eye to RV’s?) We finally made it out of the mud – only to be confronted with another problem.
The trackway which links all the riverside plots back to the track up to the lane, has wisely been sited about two-thirds of the way back from the river towards the river cliff, which is good, but does mean that the track camber slopes at quite an angle river-wards. Not a problem if the track is dry, and not too much of a problem when the bus is moving ……. But…… (why is there so often a but when driving Thebus)
This particular ‘but’ is that part way along the track is a field gate, situated at the top of a small incline and just about wide enough for Thebus to squeeze through. And the ‘but’ arises because (a) you need to go slowly to negotiate the gate (b) you are on an upwards incline and (c) the camber of the road towards the river is at its sharpest just at the approach to the gateway. With the result that each time Thebus approached – I have to say by now with Sally at the wheel (I having chickened out long before) Thebus’ back-end began to slide at an angle downhill meaning inevitable collision with the metal gatepost.
Two or three attempts at various speeds had the same result, though with the added effect of churning up even more mud on the already slippery track. In the end the power of prayer seems to have prevailed and with a steady pulling from the tow-vehicle at the front, plus some pushing uphill from the side (and a wing and a prayer ! ) he cleared the gate-post with millimetres to spare.
Then along the reasonable part of the track, before the sharp left hand hairpin-bend, where the incline and the track camber are both against you. Plus of course the narrowness of the track and the overhanging untrimmed tree-lined hedge.
Sally had to have two or three goes before which – with wheels spinning and the smell of burning rubber – we triumphed and made it to the junction of track with the lane.
Sally needed a cigarette break as soon as she got to a wide enough section of the track, and with frazzled nerves bade me a shaky farewell to return to the fray at work. Mike stayed behind to clear up the debris and general mayhem we had left in our trail, and I took over at the wheel, down the narrow lane with hedges brushing our sides to the roads which would lead me to the motorway.
I had half thought I would need to park up and get someone to drive me along the M5, M6 and M54, as it had been almost a year since I had been out in Thebus alone, but in fact I soon settled back into driving him.
So we joined the motorway network and with very little trouble arrived at our destination