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On repeat every day

This morning John got up before me and fed the cats and lit the fire and made me a cup of tea, having first gone outside into the engine room to get another box of cat food,* and to the store bin outside to get kindling whilst I dozed in bed. As well as our new-to-us sofa- which even reclines!- we have at last bought a comfortable mattress, having been using a futon mattress ever since we moved onto the boat. After a year of the mattresses of low-budget accommodation of India and Southeast Asia it actually felt comfortable but over recent weeks it has become unbearable. This one is a Silentnight with integral topper, firm yet comfortable, and only slightly hangs off the edge- its 4’ a small double but too thick to fit under the lip in the wall like the futon did, bought from Gumtree for £50, second hand but apparently new. John says this might give him a few more good years!

I got up and we wrote out Christmas cards- just a few to elderly relatives and the kids- and walked to the village shop to post them. John filled up the water while I washed the dishes using the ‘emergency’ five litre bottle we keep in the kitchen. Then he went to work for a late shift- 2pm-10pm- and I did the washing in the twin tub and lit the fire, and settled down to write this. My plan for the rest of the afternoon/evening is to eat Marmite on toast, watch Ashes to Ashes (Season 2-3), eat stollen, perhaps cook something,** and watch more Ashes to Ashes.

I’ve been working hard on reaching an accommodation and acceptance of my current circumstances- I know this is ridiculous, since I live a life that so many people would dream of, but it’s part of my makeup to be striving, pushing; pushing against my natural state of melancholy. Looking to the future and the next big thing, or hoping that one day it will all work out. I’ll get a publishing deal, come into money when all along my life is as it is and I’m missing the moment. Being so focussed on creativity can be just another way to push away the present moment rather than accepting it and then hopefully enjoying its richness. Also from a practical point of view I get a lot of RSI so it’s really good for me to have a typing break when I can.

So I guess this is a kind of gratitude list: my husband John, my anchor and my guide.

There’s so much to be grateful for in terms of us sharing the same outlook that I forget that so many people can’t even find (as they are so rare) a vegan boyfriend or husband. I wouldn’t dream of being with someone who wasn’t vegan, and bearing in mind we only know about three vegans I’d probably be lonely. Above all, I am consistently accepted for and as myself, with absolutely no expectation or pressure to be anything but, even though I’m always changing.

John and The boat & The cats= Home and the perfect home and lifestyle for me

My job/financial circumstances. I qualified as an occupational therapist in 2000, naturally rising up to become Head Occupational Therapist at a secure service from October 2010- February 2018. That job was so involved and me being me that by the end I was pretty burned out. We went travelling March 2018- March 2019. March 2019-July 2019 back in the UK and in a state of shock and finding it hard to imagine ever working again. July 2019 we both started working as Bank (meaning you can pick and choose when to work) Health Care Workers. December 2019 I stopped, feeling the work was too physically demanding. I went to India December 2019- February 2020.

On return I took a deep breath and signed up to an agency to get Occupational Therapy work, which involved making an introductory video interview and going for mandatory training. A job would have probably involved full time work and up to an hour’s commute each way. The night before the training I said out loud, ‘I don’t want to do it, somebody please save me!’ An email from the occupational therapist at the place where I’d done the healthcare job came through saying there’s a three day a week occupational therapy job if you are interested. Although it’s a bit out of my comfort zone as it’s not the clinical area that I’m really confident in, it is fifteen minutes up the road, the people are all really nice, and working at a lower level and only three days means I have enough time and energy to try and build an alternative career- ghostwriting and editing via Upwork and of course editing and pitching my own book.

Agency work, either full time or at a higher level, or both, is still an option, and might be a good idea at some point- we could be here in the UK earning as much money as possible for six months, and in Italy/India/Phnom Penh for the other six months. But for now, whilst we 1. Can’t go anywhere and 2. I want to try and build an alternative career, this is ideal. If I did a job like I did before, with a commute, all my energy would be taken with that. Plus I am a real homebody, and rather lazy, and enjoy nothing more than sleeping in and hanging about on the boat with the cats and the swans.

I’m getting the Corona vaccine tomorrow – as a worker in a care home I am in the first batch, everyone at my work got a link sent to us through which we can book in at the local hospital. So that’s our fun activity for our date day- Fridays are the day John and I always have off together. In January we’re getting eyetests! (not been done since just before we went travelling- I still have my reading glasses and their bright pink/orange case which went everywhere and never got lost, its catch long broken but held closed with a hair elastic…) And I’ve got a £25 M&S voucher from work as a Christmas present as well so I could also go and spend that on yummy Christmas food. Or perhaps a dressing gown. I’m not being sarcastic when I say that truly, my cup runneth over.***

Modest/tentative plans for next year

Focus on eBay and selling the India stuff we bought in Pushkar- a narrowboat really isn’t big enough for a business involving stock!

Go to the Tracey Emin/Edvard Munch exhibition in London and hopefully see my friend Molly at the same time!

Go to Italy to check out property- still thinking about it

Go off for a week on the boat- we have people’s dream holiday beneath our feet yet don’t really use it

Phnom Penh, Cambodia and/or India, are still hoped for for winter ‘21-‘22 but of course who knows?

Go cold turkey on Waitrose Essential Mince Pies and Aldi Holly Lane Marzipan Stollen (both #accidentallyvegan) I haven’t had a drink since August but I have bought Vegan Baileys (from Waitrose), Champagne (from Aldi), Gin and Tonic ready mixed in cans (from Aldi) and Fosters lager for Christmas Day and Boxing Day so will be probably ceasing all that in January too

*The cats have decided that the only food they really like is one particular flavour only of Morrison’s own brand, which involves a special trip to Northampton a half hour away.

**I never did, I just had a bowl of muesli

*** I’d nearly finished when a knocking/tapping sound on the window alerted me to the swans outside wanting food. I rest my case.

Sending you all warmest wishes and lots of love

Thank you for being here

On the way to London last weekend to meet up with John’s kids before Christmas- just in time as London shut down again a few days later


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Me, crap photos but real everyday life: thisisrachelhill

John, good photos of boat life and our travels: travelswithanthony