Celebrating Matt's birthday on the Isle of Wight, 2013

I didn't know it then, but 11 July 2013 was the last birthday I would celebrate with Matt.  He turned 42 years old.

We wanted to celebrate but we couldn't plan too much as we never knew how Matt would be feeling one day to the next.  Matt loved to travel but flying was out of the question because of his DVT.  We also had Syra so I started investigating road trips.  Matt kept talking about his year around Europe in a camper van. As the sole driver, I didn't feel confident driving a full sized camper so found the most gorgeous retro VW combi van for hire on the Isle of Wight.  

Ermintrude the VW camper
I was so excited about Ermintrude, our VW van however within minutes of driving her out of the hire place, a love hate relationship started.  The hire place was on a hill and as she coasted downhill I realised two things.  There was absolutely no power steering and her breaks were near enough non existent.  We pulled in for petrol and I stupidly took the keys out the ignition.  All filled up and ready to set off I sat for 10 mins trying all the keys on the keyring multiple times before one finally fit the ignition.  She then refused to start.  Much to my embarrassment, someone from the hire company had to come to our rescue and informed me that I'd flooded the engine.  

Matt's birthday lunchI decided then and there that we would be making the most of our campsite so I could limit any further embarrassment Ermintrude wanted to ensue on me.  My plans were thwarted as the next day was Matt's birthday.  We headed out for a pub lunch.  As we had Syra with us, we decided to go for a walk on the beach after lunch.  I left Matt with Syra at the picnic table and went back to put my bag in Ermintrude.  I wasn't gone a minute when a fellow diner came running, Matt had fallen over the wall by the picnic table.  By the time I got there, Matt was sitting on the picnic bench again.  He'd stood up, lost his balance and fallen over, managing to crack his ribs on the wall by the picnic table in the process.  I was just thankful he hadn't hit his head.  He was embarrassed as he thought people thought he was drunk and that's why he fell over and to add insult to injury, with his aphasia, he couldn't explain anything.  The walk was forgotten and we headed back to the campsite so Matt could rest.

Stubborn bugger that he was, he refused to go to a doctor, refused to let me book us in to a B&B so he could sleep in a proper bed and refused to let us head home early so he could relax properly.  Somehow he managed two more nights on a hard wooden bed in a van that he was too tall to stand up in.  His determination not to give in dumbfounded me.  He was both infuriating and inspirational.  

Today we continue to celebrate your birthday, we have our annual pilgrimage to the Malvern Hills.  COVID-19 won't keep me away - you've given me your stubborn determination not to let anything hold you back.

Matt & Syra at the campsite


  1. I think it is great how you go back to the Malvern Hills Kris. You are very welcome back in Shropshire on our farm. Back to the place you guys first met.

    1. Thanks :) Just love Shropshire, so many good memories and it reminds me of NZ. x


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