And so it came to pass that after what seemed like months of legal delays, missing paperwork, breakdowns in communication and all the general teeth-grinding frustrations that crop up at these times, we finally moved to our own particular version of paradise. Although we previously lived on a very gorgeous part of the South Coast, the (relative) wilderness called loud and long, as did the need for our own space and especially a garden, so we’re now enjoying life in a little town that has no superstores or retail parks, and no major chain coffee shops or ‘lounges’ or restaurants. Oh and the quickest way to reach it is by chain ferry. Yes indeedy. Swanage is a little town with a massive heart that it opened up to us the very first day we arrived.
The experience of moving was itself traumatic of course, but it gained a certain edge due to me slicing my heel open on the tape gun two days before The Big Day – pretty messy, as you can no doubt imagine (never realised so much blood got pumped through your heel) – then the actual Day Before The Big Day Stephen sliced open his finger from top to bottom on a glass that decided to break in the washing up water. Oh yay. A LOT more blood. Of course I’d already packed the First Aid kit (oh come on, you have to pack it at some point – not everything can be left out until the last minute) as I thought two mature adults should be pretty safe just chucking stuff in boxes. Apparently not. Fortunately for us our lovely neighbour Rose came calmly to the rescue not once, but twice, and along with a lightning visit to the nurse at our local surgery and a whole lot of Steristrip, we made it to our new home exhausted, but reasonably intact.
By the time the removal van had driven away and we’d made some headway into locating exactly where we’d lobbed stuff, Stephen’s pristine and ‘make sure you keep it clean’ dressing was absolutely black and the steristrips were falling out the bottom; not a good thing with an open wound, so after a brief consultation at the local pharmacy we made our inaugural trip to the cottage hospital. Who has a cottage hospital anymore? It’s a totally gorgeous place with lovely staff who sorted Stephen out with a cheery ‘Welcome to Swanage’ and some clean dressings, and so towards the end of a very long day, we finally made our way to the local pub for some much needed refreshment. All hail to The Black Swan for a fabulous meal. We will be back. A lot.
For the first week or so we really were in heaven. The summer has arrived in glorious Technicolor, and we at last have the sea views we’ve longed for. The sun rises over the sea, which is visible from our lounge window, and it sets over the gorgeous and historic Purbeck Hills, sending a deep pink glow into our kitchen and the other end of the lounge. We have foxes, badgers and a deer that pops in regularly, the birdsong is astounding, and the garden is full of butterflies, bees and every insect imaginable. We felt truly blessed. And we do still feel blessed but there is now an aching, fluffy, black and white shaped hole in our hearts, because our beautiful Rowan has gone missing. I’m no stranger to the poignancy of grief, but it is odd to be in the presence of such natural beauty and perfection and to feel sad inside.
We did all the right things with the cats, kept them in until they were clearly ready to go out, stayed close with them outside while they explored, then on the 3rd June, after several days of appearing relaxed and totally chilled, Rowan just didn’t come back after her evening wander. With the amount of wildlife here we’re thinking that maybe she ran away from something and can’t find her way home as she doesn’t know the area well enough yet. If she’s trying to get back to our old place that presents a lot of difficulties as there’s a big chunk of water between here and there.
It’s hard to find a silver lining in something like this – and you know I’m not a ‘sky is blue, the birds are singing, it’s all perfect’ kind of person – but if there is a silver lining, it is that in losing Rowan we have got to know literally LOADS of people who have really, really taken us to their hearts. When I originally moved down to the South Coast my sons were still small, so there were plenty of toddler and pre-school groups to join and meeting people was easy. Somewhere very quietly inside, and I definitely didn’t say this out loud, I was wondering how easy it would be to know people over here. With my history of thinking such things I should have known better. I needn’t have worried. We have been busily putting leaflets through doors, leaving them in shops, attaching them to lamp posts and giving them to anyone who even makes eye contact with us. I’ve posted on every possible Facebook page and joined closed local groups so that I can spread the word, and even the lovely people from the dance class I’ve just joined have happily taken a leaflet and promised to help in the search. The goodwill and support we’re receiving from people we’ve only just met is astounding.
After a week of frenzied activity we asked Susannah Rafelle, the animal communicator I wrote about in Blog #80, to try and contact her. At that point it seemed Rowan was alive and well but couldn’t get home and described an area that could have been allotments, with a lot of low buildings. Sheds maybe? There are literally loads of those around here. I read about someone who dowsed for lost cats, and unable to contact them directly set about doing it myself, dividing a map into quadrants until the crystal quite definitely indicated a row of mobile homes in the holiday park next door to us. We set off a-hunting for her and discovered that it’s a beautiful site with stunning sea views, and an absolute idyll for wildlife as it’s at the bottom of a nature reserve. There were plenty of places for her to hide, and as the crystal led us to a very quiet and secluded part of it I could imagine she felt reasonably safe, if indeed she was there. This is where the whole cats-being-the-opposite-of-dogs bit really kicks in, because if a dog is lost and its owner appears there would usually be a massive and very sloppy reunion. But with a cat it’s whole different game, and if she was/is there, she wasn’t coming out, despite us calling for her, sitting quietly, rattling crunchies, not rattling crunchies, and – oh yes – talking to more people.
So the searching and talking and lighting a candle and visualising her coming home and posting continues and we very definitely haven’t given up hope, but you know what, Rowan? Stephen and I feel we’ve had a fabulous, nay, overwhelming introduction to the good people of Swanage, thank you very much, and your Big Adventure has very much served its purpose. If you would come home now, or present yourself to someone who can read your microchip and bring you back to us, that would be totally cool and we would all appreciate it very much. Please. Even Titan misses you, and I really didn’t ever think I’d write those words. Here’s the good lady herself. Any help you could give in guiding her back to us would be very welcome.
Wishing you good health and happiness,