September arrived and the days were slightly cooler and less crowded than they had been and I started to take early morning walks around to see some of the sites and visit markets (ever seeking bargains). It was also time to buy the panels for the sides and walls that we had been waiting for before getting on with building and then the panels of pine to build the structure framework.
My nephew’s business had not ceased or let up during the summer months and he was soon to depart for South Africa so knowing it was pointless waiting for him, willing as he was, and decided to just get on with it. We had planned and drawn and measured and reconsidered until I was quite sure about what it was that I was going to do.
The odd thing is at the time I was hugely frustrated with having to go it alone but I am now immensely happy that I did because most of the build of BlueBelle’s interior had been done by me and that has been a great achievement that I can be really proud of.
I started with sanding and varnishing wood panels and painting the internal boards that would cover the carpet. The internal boards were painted white and riveted into place and supported on the sides. Then followed the floor boards (remainders from one of my nephew’s jobs) over the vinyl I had previously installed but found that it was just too soft and pitted really easily. The next task was the framework of the kitchen unit, top cabinet, then the clothing cupboard and the bed.
I must add that while I’m my father’s daughter I am not a carpenter and have never had to build any such structures in wood (or anything else) previously. Exercising our bodies differently and using our minds differently, I discovered muscles long forgotten and fell exhausted into bed each day.
As the days slipped by the weather become colder and at times wet and damp. On the colder days I could not face the frozen hands and brain that followed and so on these days I focussed on work and again earning what little money I could make to keep my €20 grocery shopping each week a possibility. Meals were a constant challenge with the limited budget and the fact that I was eating very little meat and no dairy so ensuring that my diet was varied and nutritional enough as well as meeting my needs for quick food without much fuss in the tiny kitchen that was at my disposal.
I also took to visiting the library where I could get a change of environment to put my brain in a different gear while I researched my travels and the best way to approach the scholarship fund that I had set up but not had time to develop.
As the festive season came I was for the first time in many years alone, with no need to spend money I did not have, no need to keep up pretences of merriment I did not feel and suffer the good cheer that most people only bring out for a few days each year. I had the year before decided that I was no longer going to participate in this and I happily passed my festive days on my own with a cheap bottle of sparkling wine and a few extra treats, watching movies and tucked up warmly in my workshop office bed.
Lesson learnt – Festive is as festive does and you can do it all alone!
The full works is captured in many photographs which I have posted on my Instagram account (www.instagram.com/goinghometoafrica - @goinghometoafrica) so hit me up there and follow the rest of my journey too.