Thursday, 29 May 2008

“There are no strangers here

....Only friends you haven't yet met.” W.B Yeats

Part one..

5.a.m Saturday morning and I am wide awake ... a miracle that I slept a wink with the myriad of thoughts on my mind.
6 a.m.. stagger with armfuls of assorted luggage as quietly as possible to awaiting as not to wake the neighbours.
Minutes later we are cruising along the M4 eastbound on the first leg of our epic journey.. a journey that I have anticipated and waited for with longing and just a wee smidgen of trepidation.. one I had dreamed about in detail for some time..
It was to be a pilgrimage of sorts and a journey of discovery..
On reaching Reading we came off the motorway and headed south. It was not long before I started to recognise the road signs pointing to my old life in Berkshire.. and then there it was.. Crowthorne.. the place I had lived for 14 years as a child, the village where I grew up and attended the aforementioned primary school..
Mr Custard could sense my desire to drive past my old home.. a place I have re-visited in happy memories many times.. Driving up the small private lane all the houses looked vaguely familiar and the names associated with them.. my mate Joanna's house stood as I had remembered it..Reaching the end of the lane we soon realised with a sinking heart that my old home 'Applecroft' had vanished and in it's place two soulless houses had been built.It was a bitter blow..
Still.. there was much to look forward to and many miles ahead of us so we pressed on to our destination.
Playing our usual hybrid word games along the journey took the edge of my growing sense of unease and excitement and before we knew it we were whizzing past the 'Welcome to Brighton' sign and street names began to ring familiar bells in my mind.
I had scoured the map for weeks to familiarize myself with the area and at 9.a.m we found ourselves sat outside an elegant Victorian house in a pretty tree lined avenue with two hours to spare!
In desperate need of a loo and with no knowledge of the area we started to wander with some urgency on my part, around the neighbourhood in the hopes of finding a cafe open.
In fact we found two cafes open and after a short and sweet cafe crawl we managed to kill off most of the two hours. By now my nerves were jangling and I was running on pure adrenalin.. the long awaited hour was nigh and soon my fears, hopes and dreams would become reality.

I started to pace up and down the avenue whilst Mr Custard sat in the car doing the Saturday morning ritual of the 'Telegraph' crossword..bemused by my antics.
At the 11th hour.. The Ragged Roses Family turned the corner and there began the friendship that had been confined to emails and blog comments for the last six months.
Within seconds of nervous 'hellos' and garbled introductions on my part.. we were walking along chatting and laughing and it was all so easy and effortless.
I knew that dear Kim was just as anxious about our meeting as I was and for all the same reasons.. the fear of disappointment. I didn't want her to feel betrayed by the reality of meeting me in person. We had shared an empathic and warm friendship via the ether, up to this point in time and I suppose my biggest fear was that I would be an anti-climax.. a Wizard of Oz..!
In hindsight I feel most foolish at my unnecessary fears and doubts..

Kim and her delightful family.. graciously gave up their time to welcome us to Brighton and escort us around the various 'Open House' venues where we were introduced to another blog friend ..the talented Emma who was exhibiting her lovely crafts.

Kim also managed to quickly dispel my fears about my participating in the December 2008 Open House events. It was a real treat to see the huge variety of arts and crafts on display in these beautiful homes and to feel that I would be part of it one day. A real privilege.

We came away after a whistle stop tour of Brighton's Open Houses with a firm belief that we had met up with 'old' friends and were richer for the brief time we shared in each other's company. My only regret was that we couldn't stop the clock and spend more time with Kim and her charming family.

When I stepped onto the threshold of Blogdom last October, never did I imagine that I would inherit such a wealth of friendship from my virtual/real friends.. and such is the nature of blogging that it is easy to forget sometimes that there are real people with hearts and souls behind each blog facade not mythical beings.

The next leg of our adventure takes me back to a very special place in my heart.. a place that I visited regularly as a child and have not returned to for some 40 years...

To be continued..
Here is just a sneak preview..


Ragged Roses said...

Hello Michele
You are no Wizard of Oz, more like a charming, lovely Dorothy (which makes Pickles Toto!). I am so so glad we finally got to "meet" and share some time together. It was a joy to meet you both, the icing on the cake as far as I'm concerned (and it would have to be a triple chocolate, double cream piled high with fresh sweet strawberries kind of cake at that!). Looking forward to Part Two of your awfully big adventure
PS I'm still playing house with all my treasures

LiLi M. said...

Hi Michèle,
I have enjoyed your adventure meeting Kim and after reading her comments, I am sure she has done so too. I always read everybody's comments, sometimes you are getting to know other delightful blogs.

It's so much fun this blogging world. I never would have thought that it would be something for me. Now I notice that if any one is having critics on how much time I spend here, I am inclined to think that 'others' just don't understand. They are judging, but they really don't know what they are talking about.

Enjoy! Have a nice day!

amy said...

what a lovely story. glad you had a good time!

Emma Herian said...

Michele, I know exactly how you felt, my nerves were jumping and flying all over the place. I hope you got to have some of the cakes on your adventures at the Open Houses. I was so flustered at the meeting I completely forgot to give you a blogging little gift! Send me you address.
Cant wait to see part 2.......


I have been eagerly awaiting this post Michele! It was so handy on your journey to stop and retrace childhood steps, but how sad for you not to see your old family home. The home and farm I was born on, and lived for 17 years of my life, was demolished to make way for a golf course and a luxury abode for the owner. I am very sentimental and it makes me feel sad, but I guess this is what they call progress? Please let me know the date of your Open House in December, I would love to come along and meet you Michele. Can’t wait for the next instalment. Hopefully you are going to show us pictures of another part of West Sussex, a part which I may well know? x

Cathy said...

How lovely to meet a fellow blogger. Sounds like you had a lovely day. My Aunt, Uncle and 5 female cousins used to live in Crowthorne - it's a small world!! How sad that your house wasn't there anymore. My parents still live in the house I was born in and I can't imagine it not being there. Looking forward to the next instalment of your weekend!
Cathy X

Gill at Lucy Locket said...

I can imagine how scary it was to meet a blog friend for real,it's a big step out of your comfort zone but I've no doubt Kim is as lovely as she sounds in her blog...what a fab trip, now you've broken the ice I'm sure there'll be other trips in the future. Looking forward to reading more about your road trip!
Gill x

Sal said...

Lovely,Michele! Glad you were able to meet up with the 'Ragged Roses'.
I know exactly where you are taking us next... as I stood at that spot many a time, when I lived in that county. ;-)

thevintagemagpie said...

Hi Michele,

How lovely that you two got to meet each other. And in Brighton too, how magical! x

Rosie said...

Michele, that was lovely to read, so glad you had a great time with the Ragged Roses. I love Brighton but have never spent enough time there to really get to know it.

So sorry to hear about your childhood home, that must have been a bit of a shock.
Nice to have you back.
Rosie x

Garden girl said...

Crowthorne is so lovely, I grew up in Wokingham (amongst other places) and I love that part of the world. Glad you and the lovely Kim had such a great time despite your nerves!x

Country Cottage Chic said...

So that's where you've been! Looking forward to more of your adventures & yes, I'd love to meet up again soon to do some catching up again!


Vintage Amethyst said...

Aahhh so lovely, and so nice to hear it from your view point too.
As I said to Kim I would be exactly the same meeting a blogging friend, frighened I may disapoint, isn't it silly though.
I am so glad you had a lovely day, but so sorry to hear about your childhood home.
Love Alison x

BeachysCapeCodCupboard said...

How thrilling! I had heard of this lovely news from reading Kim's blog. Now it's fun to continue the story! =)

Dana Jones said...

I love the look of those fabric balls. Are they truly balls of scrap fabric or did you cover a ball form with fabric? They are so perfectly round.