Who agrees that getting away on holiday is never a simple, straighforward thing to do?
Thank goodness that with the caravan packing is easy in that (a) within reason I can take everything that I might conceivably need - I'm not restricted to whatever will fit into a couple of cases; and (b) there is no need to continually pack, unpack, and repack while travelling around, as you would if going from hotel to hotel. I can literally take all my favourite clothes and shoes. And the best items can hang in the wardrobe, and not get creased. That's a huge plus point, having nice things to wear while away that hare not been creased to death! Things people don't normally take with them when holidaying. I often look exactly like a decently-attired local, especially as I don't dress in sports or rambling gear.
But when loading up the caravan, you mustn't put things in too soon! Yesterday morning, for instance, when halfway through giving my legs their six-weekly shave, saved till the morning of departure, I ran out of shaving gel and realised that both spare gel canisters had already been neatly stowed away in the caravan. Outside, that is. Where the Gas Guys were. Where the cold rain was gently falling. Sigh. There was nothing to be done but wash off my half-shaved limbs, towel myself, don proper leggings and a top, and scurry out to retrieve a gel canister. Then resume. What a palaver!
I'm still using a man's wet razor and gel, by the way. By Gillette. Mach 3. It does a very good job, and I'm disinclined to spend cash unnecessarily on a 'correct-gender' substitute pink girly razor. When the male kit gets shabby or breaks, or Gillette withdraw the refills from shopping shelves, or all but occasional electrolysis ends, then I'll invest in the pretty female version. But not till then. Meanwhile I buy the male razor refills and gel without turning a hair. Anyone watching, the checkout person included, can assume that I have a man in the house. Women often do, after all.
The Gel Episode was not the only hiccup in achieving a smooth getaway. There were other things that I needed which had already gone out to the caravan. Bottom line: it's impossible to be fully loaded and ready to roll hours in advance, such as on the evening before. There's always something that can't be packed till the very last minute, such as one's toothbrush if nothing else.
Yesterday I spoke of the delicious hope one has of encountering a new friend. Well, as soon as I backed onto my pitch at Cirencester, the lady in the motorhome next to me came out and said hello. Like me, she was on her own. Divorced, and the same age.
She especially noticed my girl-on-her own arrival because of her own situation, but she had also recently discovered a club for single caravanners and motorcaravanners whose aim was to ensure that no unmarried, widowed or divorced person need holiday without like company on hand. And she wondered whether I was a member. This club, which was called The New Companions Camping Club, had core members who spent their time travelling from one site to another, in accordance with a schedule made available to all the other members, and acted as hosts for social meetups. If you fancied a meetup, you simply booked in at the scheduled place, and asked at reception where the host member could be found. And then make yourself known, and join in as you felt inclined. There would be 10am and 5pm gatherings at the host's motorcaravan to decide on the day's and evening's events respectively. It might be a walk, or a trip into some town, or lunch somewhere, or cards with wine in the evening.
It seemed a great way to meet a big bunch of new people, all of them single for some reason or another, all of them with an enthusiasm for caravanning in common and possibly more than that. You had only to abandon your anonymity, and be sociable. It wasn't a dating club, but there was no ban on people pairing off if they felt they wanted to. It really is by no means uncommon for people on their own, perhaps lonely and lacking in self-confidence but determined to hit the road and tour, to discover a soulmate at some point in their travels. The ordinary caravan magazines are full of letters from those who have found true love through caravanning.
This New Companions Club, which just happened to be present at Cirencester during my stay there, made it much more likely that Cupid would call and start firing little arrows. The lady who had greeted me on arrival, whose name was Christine, wasn't looking for love herself, and I certainly wasn't, not even holiday companionship, but I was curious enough to let her introduce me to the group gathering at 5pm to discuss that evening's entertainment, although pleading tiredness I did not stay.
Later on, I invited Christine into my caravan for an early-evening chat before I started cooking my meal. She was chatty and seemed to have good attitudes, and we got on well. She was originally from the North, and now lived in South Wales, near her daughter and baby grandchildren. She had never been to Sussex, not wanting to drive in the heavy traffic around London, and I don't blame her.
At one point, just talking about the South Coast, she asked me whether Brighton was really as full of gay and lesbian people as its reputation suggested. I said there were certainly a lot of gay and lesbian people there, but on the whole they were unnoticeable. She then mentioned that there were gay men and lesbian women in the New Companions Club. And they were very nice too. Then she said she knew a transsexual woman who was also a Club member. She was just as nice. I thought at this point that she had a suspicion about me, and that she was probing. But no: the conversation flowed smoothly on without a pregnant pause. I decided that she didn't think I was trans myself. I could have corrected her, but quite honestly I saw no reason to.
I did ask however (doing my own probing) what other Club members thought of this trans lady. She said that some (including herself) were very welcoming, and very understanding, but some others were a bit awkward - not exactly hostile, but unable to overcome the feeling that the lady was really a man. And she mentioned that the trans lady had plenty of masculine traits, such as a deep voice. I don't think she would have spoken quite like this if she'd thought me trans also. Besides, at her own suggestion, we exchanged our full names, addresses, and contact numbers, and she gave me an unmistakably sincere invitation to get in touch when next in her area. Something she might not have done so freely if she was certain I was trans, although I may be misjudging her. As a clincher, so to speak, she looked out for me this morning to say goodbye, as she was going home today. But all the time it might have just been further evidence that Northern people are friendlier than most.
Which now puts an onus on me to enlighten her before attempting any future meetup in South Wales. That'll take some thinking about.
You know, she singled out the trans lady's deep voice. More proof that voice matters! It's one of the key defining features of a female person. I do wonder why so few trans women, so very few, pay serious attention to this.