The Road is Calling – And Following I Go
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
– J.R.R. Tolkien
Everytime in my life since I was eleven years old, when I am about to travel, I think of these words of Tolkien’s.
Perhaps “think” is not quite the right word here. Unusual adjectives come to my mind as I search for the one most fitting. I “ache” these words. I “yearn” these words. I breathe them, sleep them, eat them, ooze them from every clammy, sweaty, eager little pore. Since I first found them, when I was gifted Lord of the Rings, all those years ago these words have hummed in my blood. The humming was already there. I just didn’t know what the words were until Tolkien gave them to me.
And so I’m sitting here alone in our Yggdrasil, aka Iggy the Hymer, aka home, with my head and bones and blood all humming Tolkien’s tune as the hours slowly count down to our departure on Friday morning.
It seems only moments since we found Iggy and became modern Nomads. And yet, already, this is our fourth tour in Europe. Being a clever sod, and a great thinker, I came up the most amazing name for this fourth trip away. “Tour Four”. Genius eh? It’s okay, I know. You’ve either got it or you haven’t. And clearly it’s oodling all out of me in creative puddles everywhere I go. Tour Four will be as clearly marked as though Iggy and I were giant, oozy, slimey, snails of creative wonder laying a silver trail for all to follow.
What’s that Jay? Shut up and get on with it? Well I… Oh okay then. Where was I?
In Iggy of course. Wednesday 21st August, at a wee house in the Scottish countryside, saying some farewells and getting ready for the off on Friday. The wind is rocking the van, and lashing it with rain. Typical as I only washed it a couple of hours ago! And Jay and Marley are in our friends’ house, probably drinking beer, while I get on with the Blog stuff.
It’s been a busy few weeks as we’ve prepared to hit the road South again. Iggy has had new windows, a gas service, a full engine service, and a brand new, custom built, stainless steel exhaust after his old one was found to have grown a few holes at his MOT.
The guys at Stainless Creations were total lifesavers with this exhaust. We had ten days to get a new one made and fitted and the MOT test passed before we couldn’t drive the van anymore until it was done. We’d never met the guys before, I literally pulled them from Google Maps as they had good reviews and were near where we were at the time (Falkirk in Scotland) Despite a full MOT list for their ramps they squeezed us in for a look, made the exhaust and fitted it all in plenty of time. It’s guaranteed for the life of the vehicle and we think that’s a bargain at £700 all in. What’s more they’re a great crack, did a brilliant job, and are now our new workshop of choice for our service and MOT work.
Next on the agenda was getting the decals off Iggy’s side ready for his Tree of Life being painted on by graffiti artist Luke Brabants this coming Monday and Tuesday.
We’d been putting off, and putting off trying to do it. Internet searches made it sound like a bit of a nightmare if the decals were old. As Iggy was 17 last month we figured this wasn’t going to be easy. I had images of completely destroying the side of the van, and the decals still being there at the end of it. Only scratched and torn and raggedy and horrid. Like that two year old label on the bottom of a favourite cup that just, won’t, come all the way off!
We took turns and after we got into the hang of it then it wasn’t anywhere near as difficult as we were expecting. Though the job was helped by the fact that we didn’t have to worry about scratching the paint work as Iggy is getting painted anyway.
It was round about now that Tolkien’s Road Poem started humming around between my ears. The butterflies that were vanishing with the summer’s end were taking up residence in my stomach. I could feel, from the inside, how my eyes had that far away stare in them. Watching horizons roll past, no matter what they were looking at in the here and now.
I’ve been waiting three years, since even before we bought Iggy, to start this “Our Tree” project. And now that it was really here I felt as though everything was, somehow, only just beginning. The new website was nearly done. Our new name “Travel Malarkey” felt like it had always been waiting in the wings for us to just turn around notice, and bring it on in. This may be Tour Four, and nearly two and a half years of being Nomads… and yet my stomach told me, my heart told me, that everything before had just been the practice run. One big getting ready for today.
Today is a van being gutted and cleaned. Refixing curtains, sweeping out lockers, taking off bike racks, doing the laundry. Gutting out cupboards, throwing out gnawed down bones, buying in new ones.
Today has been cleaning the last of the Decal glue off. Washing the van down, washing the windows, getting on fine and then SPLASH comes the rain down.
Today has been non stop and still not quite made it, and sheets in the dryer, and muddy dogs on the clean floors. And never quite shaking that head scratching feeling there’s something… Something… Something terribly important that I’ve completely forgotten to do.
And tomorrow? Tomorrow will be playing with my grandaughter. And absolutely, nothing, else.
By Friday the road will be calling so loudly I shall feel as though we have merged, that old, cracked road and I. The last goodbyes will be said. The butterflies in my stomach will flap their wings so hard I’ll fear my ribs will burst, wide open from my chest.
And then we’ll follow. Follow the summer that is fleeing these Northern hills and glens. Follow the swallows that crowded these fields just two weeks since. Follow the road, the call that is always there. Whispering in my veins. Where it has always been, for all of my ken.