Thank goodness, I've got a sunny day for my holiday packing. There's a keen breeze, but that's nothing.
It's all going smoothly. The caravan is all spick and span after a spring clean. Tyre pressures have been checked. The bed is made. My chosen clothes are hung up, or folded neatly into drawers. Boots and shoes are in their proper storage spaces. Tins and packets are in the side locker. Fresh food is in the fridge, frozen food in the freezer. Medical stuff is either loaded, or ready for loading. Books, maps, guides, videos, you name it, they're all packed. Rosie too. By late afternoon I'll have swept up the leaves in the back garden, had a shower and washed my hair, and be looking forward to a steak dinner and what will probably be the last TV for two and half weeks.
Such is the advantage of living alone: you can get on with things at your own pace, and to your own plan. I have still-vivid memories of stressful getaways in past years, when I shared my holidays and things did not proceed so well. There would be maddening delays, or last-minute searches for necessary things mislaid. And likely enough I would end up being at fault, for not being patient enough, or for being too inflexibly organised. I sometimes wondered what was the point of going on holiday if the very process of departure raised one's blood pressure, never mind the likely aggravations along the way or when we arrived. Holidays in a touring caravan can be delightful, but getting ready is like preparing for a long sea voyage. There's an awful lot to go in, and nothing vital must be left at home. A calm, considered approach is most important.
Well, by this time tomorrow I'll have reached Cheddar, and be set up, and (if it looks like a good sunset) thinking of driving to the coast at Burnham-on-Sea, where the sunsets are always good. The sun goes down over the Quantocks - or Exmoor, depending on the time of year - and the nuclear power station at Hinkley Point is merely a small rectangular silhouette in the distance:
Burnham-on-Sea has a lot of sand close to the shore, but further out it gets muddy. Nevertheless, I've always found it to be a clean, sunny kind of place, and I can forgive its amusement arcade and unromantic pier. It was the scene of a notable childhood family holiday, and therefore a nostalgic Mecca for me. It also possesses one or two quirky features, such as this disturbingly-leaning church:
It was built in the fourteenth century, and the foundations shifted almost at once. But since then it has not moved further from the perpendicular. A tourist notice nearby points out that the Leaning Tower of Pisa leans five times as much. Burnham's best-known bit of quirkiness is however its two lighthouses, a high light among the dunes, and a low light actually on the beach, in the form of a little two-storey hut on stilts:
When I last visited the beach light in 2011, it had acquired some proper steps up to its door, and nobody stopped me climbing up them to see what the view was like at the top, even if the the door itself was locked.
Pretty good, eh? Imagine this elevated hut being one's home. Presumably certain high tides would maroon one for a few hours - at least if one had no waders to put on! This distinctive building featured in a 1979 or 1980 TV episode of Shoestring, starring Trevor Eve as Eddie Shoestring. It was a series about a Somerset private eye who was also a local radio broadcaster. In the episode referred to, the lighthouse on the beach was (if I remember correctly) the retreat of a girl mixed up in some local racket, whom Shoestring has to find. Idle thoughts of buying this miniature lighthouse and converting it into a chic bijou pad must be dismissed out of hand: it's a grade II Listed Building. Nevertheless, it makes a great destination for a beach walk if the tide is out, and that's exactly what I have in mind.