Love found, forty years later.
I watched as the two women divided up the groceries. They went through the till receipt, and Lorna passed over some money before taking her things and going, calling to the two children as she went.
The woman looked at me, "You still here?" she asked. I started to reply, but she interrupted, "You don't look too good. I'll give you a glass of water, then you can go." She opened a refrigerator, and took out a 2 litre cola bottle full of water, some of which she poured into a couple of glasses. I thanked her, as she passed one to me, and I surreptitiously looked around me as I sipped the water. "She saw me doing this, and asked, "Want the guided tour, do you?" I apologized again, and finished the water. Unbidden, she poured me another glass. "Drink that. You still need it. Then you can tell all your fancy friends in the village that we aren't all bad."
"I never said you were bad. And thank you for the water. What I would like to know, though, is why you choose to live here like this? I don't have a problem with it, but if you could explain it me, I might be able to explain it to the local Tories in the village."
"I could explain, but I haven't got the time. I do, believe it or not, have a job to go to. If you really do want to know, though, you can come round later. Even better, bring a Chinese takeaway and some wine. That'll save me having to cook"
Surprised at this sudden opening up, I agreed, and after we had arranged that I would be there at 8, I left her to get ready to go to her part time job in a small office in town.
At 8 o'clock, I found myself back at the site as the sun was going down, in one hand a plastic bag full of Chinese food, and in the other another bag holding a couple of bottles wine. As I passed her bus, I could hear Lorna's voice as she read her children a bedtime story. My acquaintance of that morning was sitting in a folding chair outside her bus, nursing a glass of wine. She had changed back out her work clothes, and was wearing a cool summer outfit of a sort of smock, over a loose cotton sarong. As I approached, she got up, went in to the bus, and came back out with another folding chair and table. One more trip inside, as I set up the table, and she emerged with plates, forks, plastic glasses and a corkscrew. As we divided the food, poured the wine and began to eat, without either of us having spoken I realized I didn't know her name. "I'm sorry, I don't know your name. I'm Phil, if that helps to get the conversation started." She took a sip of wine, looked at me, said, "I expect you're expecting something all hippy and exotic like Moonflower, but it's Judy."
"Well, Judy, what brings you here to the depths of Somerset? I can't quite place your accent, but I know it isn't local. Judy smiled. "Far from it. I'm from New Zealand." I must have looked surprised because for the first time, she actually laughed. "Most people think it's South African, but it isn't. I finished my degree last summer, and I came over to Europe for a year before getting into the boring routine of job, marriage, kids, old age senility and death. I wanted to live little. I got a rail pass, and spent most of last summer backpacking round Europe, then spent the winter working in London, saving a bit of cash. I bought this bus through someone I met in New Zealand House, and now I'm spending the summer relaxing. I met up with Lorna at Easter, and we've followed each other round ever since." She went on to explain that her bus had needed some repairs, and that a contact had told her about this site. The two of them were staying there for a few days whilst Judy worked in the garage office, sorting out the accounting system to pay for the repairs. She had finished the task that day.
I asked about Lorna's story, but Judy shook her head.