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  • Writer's pictureOne Girl and a Van

Stuck in Devon with a broken heart

After nearly 6 months on the road exploring Northumberland, the Lake District and a good deal of beautiful Scotland, I returned to Devon for a brief interlude, but 6 months later I'm still here.

Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE DEVON, it is one of the most spectacular counties in England, yet after spending a good percentage of my life 'down south', I was really excited that the boys and I would be getting back on the road to explore some new places in Buttercup. The plan was to work part of the winter to fill the coffers, and then in February head to climates new. But alas, a journey to France and Austria for snow bound adventures was not meant to be.

The little 'c' and 'b' (that's Covid and Brexit) raised their ugly heads again causing issues and queries over where, when and how you could travel to Europe, and after much toing and froing it seemed sensible to just stay put; which is what I did. I continued working for the company I keep leaving (they're very good to me!) and set up home outside the offices in Buttercup. I was busy at work, the boys and I were out adventuring whenever we could and George and Max moved in to our little house on wheels too. We spent the start of the year enjoying muddy mountain bike rides, long hikes, wild swims in very cold rivers, seeing friends (including a lush wedding) and generally enjoying exploring local.

And then a few months down the line things started to go from good to unbearable, as my beloved Spikey was diagnosed with an incurable brain condition and had to be put to sleep. I've been through some pretty tough times in my life but this was excruciatingly painful and I was riddled with guilt for months after his death worrying whether I'd done all I could for him and if I'd given him the best life I could. I know he had a fabulous life as I sit and recall all the adventures we've had together over the past few years since I adopted him, but the guilt never goes away.

A month later, as I was driving Buttercup to Paignton to go mountain biking with the gang, she stopped dead on the A380... soon the lovely police officers were with me to block off the lane of the busy dual carriageway, and a tow truck was on route. 5 hours later Buttercup was back at her favourite garage awaiting diagnosis. It wasn't good news as it transpired she needed a new heart (engine) and so the long 6 weeks of heart transplant surgery commenced and my little house on wheels became a static home at the garage.

Only days later I was hit with more heartache as Oliver collapsed at work and was rushed to the vets. He had a tumour of the spleen which had suddenly erupted and he died shortly after arriving at the vets. As I held him in my arms and cried, I felt as if my life was falling apart around me and I was loosing total control. I sunk in to a state of depression but my friends and family rallied and lifted me from the black hole I've struggled with for so long.

Life moved on and I kept myself busy with lots of riding and wild swimming, some days overwhelmed by the loss of both of my boys and other days feeling guilty that I was enjoying the peace and quiet without them. I suspect life will continue this way for a while but looking back at the memories we've shared, I know they definitely both had amazing lives.

The 6 weeks passed and Buttercup was well enough to adventure out and about again; so we set off to Exeter, on our way to a mountain biking course, only to find ourselves back at the garage after a few hours as she needed a blood transfusion (more oil!); a few days later though we were heading to beautiful North Devon with my family for a mini break at Coombe Martin.

We stayed at a little site, only a few minutes from the beach, and enjoyed long days paddle boarding, swimming, searching for sea glass and eating yummy food. The evenings were filled with BBQs, bingo, cards and laughter around a fire pit; and we all enjoyed our little holiday in the sun. However, as we drove back, Buttercup was not too happy and off to the garage we headed once more... This time she needed a new valve (ok, she needed a pump!) and she was up and running after a short garage stay. I finished my job again and said goodbye to the team once more, as George and I headed off to say cheerio to all the family before we headed east for the summer.

We made it to Tiverton!

And now, another 3 weeks on, the garage is where we remain whilst Buttercup undergoes another heart transplant. The garage have been AMAZING (totally not their fault all this has happened - iffy supplied engine) and done everything they can to make us comfy in our static home (that's Buttercup without an engine!). In fact, we've actually rather enjoyed being still, and after a few days of utter anxiety and depression at the unknown, we've been making the most of being stuck in this part of Devon.

With Dartmoor literally 10minutes walk away, there has been riding, walking, wild swims and camping a plenty; not to mention far too many yummy meals out and about after long adventure days!

So, despite the severe heartache, uncertainty and sheer crappiness of the past 4 months, life is ok, and there's always happiness and light to be found amongst the sad darkness. I'll always have a hole in my heart left by the boys, but deep down I know they are no longer in pain and are living new lives over that doggy rainbow bridge. As for Buttercup, well let's hope this transplant goes well and she's her happy reliable self again soon and we can continue our adventures in her for a very long time to come.


Thank you to all my amazing friends and fabulous family, for your love, support, hugs (both virtual and in person) and just for always being there for me. Love you all xx

And thank you dear reader for your continued support and warm wishes over the past months too; it really means so much to me.

Finally to finish this little blog; a few pictures of some of the happy adventures with my boys, just living their best lives...

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