A few blog posts ago it was the end of February. We’d just left our rental house in Portugal where we’d spent four months. It was a much needed prolonged break from travel. A time to have a complete change, feel part of a community again and try on a different country and culture for an extended period. I wrote, then, about how our four months had been a success but:
‘We’re happy to be back on the road and eager to see where life takes us next’.
At that time, I think it’s fair to say that we could never have foreseen how drastically our ‘loose’ travel plan of visiting Sardinia and Corsica would change in such a short space of time. However, I also wrote at the end of that blogpost:
‘We also like change. Change is good for us. Change challenges us. Gets us outside our comfort zones’.
And that is one of the things I love about this lifestyle. Nothing is set in stone. We can change our plans or adapt them if we want to or our plans can change due to things outside our control. Fortunately, most of the time we are in control.
Living full-time in a van is an alternative lifestyle that will throw up the usual challenges like where to get post sent, specialist insurance, registering with a doctor, visiting a dentist, what to do with all your stuff, prolonged confinement in poor weather etc etc . But sometimes other challenges arise that are outside our control.
This came to the forefront of our minds when the UK government ‘strongly advised’ UK nationals to return home during this pandemic. Normally returning to the UK for an extended period of time for whatever reason wouldn’t be a problem as we could stay on a campsite. Unfortunately, when tougher measures were introduced to contain the virus all the campsites closed, including the small Certified Sites and Certified Locations affiliated to the Camping and Caravanning Club and Caravan and Motorhome Club.
We are a big fan of these privately owned little sites that allow just five vans and they are always our preferred sites when in the UK. However, being affiliated to the ‘big’ clubs the same rules have been applied to them during this pandemic. They had to close. There is one just a mile and a half from where my parents live which we absolutely love and would have been an ideal place to self isolate for the first two weeks. Then we could have been on hand to be active in the community there.
Many full-timers are on the driveways of family or friends or other kind hearted people who have offered a space for those in need of it. It’s a shame as I’m sure many CL and CS sites would have been happy to accept just one full-timing van onto their site providing a bit of income for them in these strange times.
We would have found a solution but fortunately we have landed firmly on our feet in coming back to the chateau. It’s a bit surreal in a way as we can be oblivious to the outside world here if we choose to be. We have the freedom to walk the grounds. We have peace and quiet. Wifi. Satisfying work to do. It makes me feel a bit guilty really when so many other people are suffering right now.
This weekend the chateau should have been full of wedding guests. It doesn’t look like there will be any weddings anytime soon. There’s still work to be done though. We’ve made the most of the spring weather getting out in the grounds. The vegetable patch has been dug over, paths and flower beds have been weeded, herb gardens planted, grass mowed and seeds sowed.
I never used to like gardening. I always found it a chore. That was in the days before podcasts though. Now I can get an education whilst weeding, planting, mowing and sowing. I’ve just got to work on my concentration. Never a podcast goes by without my mind wandering off all over the place.
For the first week we weren’t really feeling like we were in confinement. Then the food supplies dwindled. The snacks ran out after three days. What can I say? I’m an all or nothing kind of person. Budgeting chocolate or crisps just doesn’t work for me. We’d done a last shop at Lidl on the day we left Spain as we knew we had to self isolate here for the first two weeks. The owners and the two other volunteers did offer to shop for us but we’re resourceful. We’d survive. Odd combinations of food make a nice change I think. By the end of last week we were down to the tin of haggis.
Our friends Sam and Chris gave us the tinned haggis to try when we visited them in the Highlands in May 2018. Sorry Sam but it was still in the cupboard at the back of the van. But, needs must when the devil drives so the tin of haggis got eaten. Even if it was a few months out of date. It did taste better than it looked.
It’s the last day of our confinement now so we’ll be able to stock up on supplies again.
We have our ‘attestation’ forms at the ready if we are stopped on the way to the nearby Super U.
It’s going to feel so different to the last time we were there though.
Stay safe everyone.
À la prochaine!