I sat in the cool quiet reception area of the spa and healthclub in a contemplative mood. The Blonde was still getting changed after our early morning swim to work up an appetite for a big cooked breakfast after a night of unmitigated luxury at the Devere Grand Harbour Hotel in Southampton. We’d escaped for a couple of days break, well earned after a frankly manic March of car sales (March being the first month of the new registrations, this year 10 plate). The Blonde, on the other hand, is always flat out busy so deserves a break any time of year. I reclined slightly in the comfy chair as I considered the fact that, coincidently, our five star getaway came almost exactly a year after I was made redundant.
Those that have been with The Blog from the very beginning will appreciate the gulf between job centres and job seeking that began at that time, and the sumptuous surroundings I now found myself in. It’s funny how life twists and turns, and it feels very much to me that one enjoys the up’s far more as a result of experiencing the downs.
The previous evening had been spent in the exemplary company of good friends at the Jolly Sailor, scene of the eighties-tastic Howards Way, and we had a clear day ahead of us before joining more good friends that night in Dorset. A tour of nearby Ikea beckoned, before we headed off to Portsmouth and Port Solent, a wonderful complex of shops, restaurants and houses set around a large marina. A sad reminder of the economic times awaited us however, as probably a third or more of the units of this once bustling oasis of leisure and retail stand silent and empty. We’re a long way from the edge of the financial woods yet, despite politicians and estate agents desperate efforts to talk up the market. All the talk in the world doesn’t create hard cash or financial liquidity, the lifeblood of the world of commerce.
Leaving Port Silent behind us we headed back along the M27 and up into the beautiful picture postcard countryside of Dorset, complete with achingly pretty villages and chocolate box cottages. Another evening of good food and great company, a comfortable night in their wonderful old farmhouse, and we were off again the following morning, stopping off at Shaftesbury to walk down Gold Hill, scene of the famous Hovis “Bike” advert, “T’was like taking bread to the top of the world, t’was a grand ride back though”.
Clarks retail outlet village in Somerset was the next stop, where I made out like the proverbial bandit, The Blonde finding it somewhat less fruitful unfortunately, coming away only with an admittedly fetching summer hat.
Then it was the long run home and a quiet night in before back to the reality of work and the real world the following day.
T’was a grand break though, and a world and a half away from life just twelve short months ago.