It’s all gone……………….. .

We hired a van on Good Friday to transport all our stuff the 10 miles out to our storage container.  We picked up the van on Thursday evening and got it loaded up so we would be ready to go early on Friday morning.  It only took about an hour as everything except the bed was already downstairs.

Loading up!

Fortunately, Friday was a beautiful dry sunny day and we had an early start, arriving at the container at 7am to start unloading.  With the first vanful unloaded in 40 minutes we set off back home for the rest.

The first load.

Getting the settee out through the front door proved an impossible task.  After taking the feet off it we still couldn’t get it through so opted to take it out through the patio doors in the kitchen and then via the lean-to which meant two more doors but we got it out no problem that way. So with everything else packed in to the second load we headed back out to off load it.  The whole job was done by 11.30am.

Storage container.JPG
Just need a lie down before the last bits go in!
Goodbye old life!

We then went up to the RSPCA cats and dogs home at Claverton Down in Bath to donate two binliners of dog bedding, leads, collars, toys, towels etc which I’d been hanging on to for the last couple of years after the last of our beloved dogs went to the big kennel in the sky.   Letting that go was harder than any of the other stuff we have got rid of over the last few years of simplifying our life but I keep telling myself it’s better to be used for needy dogs rather than sitting in a storage container being no use to anyone.  In truth though, I haven’t thought about it since it has gone.

So that was it, half a day to close up our old life and make a start on the new one!  We are both relieved and happy that it’s all gone from the house now as we have been a bit tetchy with each other over the last few weeks living in a mess!  Tim has been going to bed at 7pm to read rather than sit in the thick of it all downstairs as he can’t stand it!  Finally clearing out the house has felt like we are over the last hurdle on our mission (or hump as Julie and Jason call it on their blog) and all the sorting, planning and organising is now behind us and we can start looking ahead to our new adventures.

11 days to go:)


Painting, primping and packing…………………………….. .

This last weekend has seen us packing up the final things in the house.  Everything except the bed is now downstairs either in the sitting room or the kitchen.  It still looks like a lot of stuff but I suppose it’s not really when you compare it to the average contents of a three bed house.  The storage container finally arrived this week in Corsham.  It was supposed to arrive three weeks ago but they have had problems with their supplier and eventually changed the supplier in order to get one for us.  It was touch and go with much toing and froing of phone calls.  If it hadn’t arrived this week we would have needed to find an alternative.  That, in itself, would not have been a problem but the 20’ x 8’ container we are having is about £220 per year cheaper than its rivals which does make a difference (especially to Tim who is averse to spending money……………..unless on a useless gadget that is!).

Ready to go to storage
Everything packed up and ready to go into storage.

So that’s the house done.  We are hiring a van which we pick up on Thursday evening this week and everything goes to the storage container on Friday.  We will then have 10 days left ‘camping out’ in the house until our departure date.  We have already brought the contents of the van kitchen into the house and we will bring in the camping table and chairs and the mattress from the van!  It will be like going back to when we first moved in together and didn’t have much.  At least we have central heating and carpets now though and I know how to cook! Ah, happy days!

Going into storage
Ooooh look at that lino – 25 years old and still going strong!

We packed and repacked and repacked and repacked the van yesterday.  Everything is where we ‘think’ it will go but that will no doubt change when we are on the road (or it’ll be flung out on the M1!).  We obviously have a bit more stuff for this trip than our usual trips so finding space for all those extra books, clothes, SHOES (yes Tim you know I’m getting at you here!) and jackets etc etc.  On the shoe note I wish Tim’s feet were a size 4 instead of a size 11 – it would make life sooo much easier.  Just how many pairs of shoes does a man need??!!

The pack and re-pack and re-pack of ‘Ollie’!
Loading thee Van March 16.JPG
Final bits going in.

Today I painted the garden fence ready for the season and Tim painted ‘his’ shed last week.  Talking of sheds, Tim sorted out the ‘man cave’ at the weekend.  He spent an inordinate amount of time in there doing who knows what but I was pleased to see that when he emerged he had organised it all ready for storage and hadn’t done the usual thing of taking everything out just to put it back in again with no obvious improvements!

Shed Prep March 2016.JPG
Tim painting his ‘man cave’!
Last paint of the fence March 16.JPG
Primping the fence!

So that’s it 16 days to go! Yay!





Today we said goodbye to our trusty steed………

Car March 2016.JPG
Our trusty steed no longer!

Today we said goodbye to our car, a Citroen Picasso, we have had for the last 8 years.  Tim has sold her to someone he works with for a bargain price. I have to be honest I wasn’t really very fond of her but she was a good workhorse and has served us well over the years. She was especially useful when we were doing some work on the house and she was exactly the right shape to use as a skip!

Even though I wasn’t feeling the love for the Picasso Tim loved this car initially.  Not long after we first had her we went on a road trip to South West Ireland for a long weekend with our friends Di and Chris.  We were going to the Cahersiveen Music Festival.  We were catching the overnight ferry from Pembroke to Rosslare and had some time to kill before we set sail so went to a local pub.  As nominated driver Tim was drinking coke.  Three hours later we were eventually kicked out of the pub and got in the queue for the ferry.  Di, Chris and I had been drinking ‘loony soup’ real ale and were by now very merry and starving hungry.  We broke out the cheese and biscuits and, unbeknown to us three at the time, we made a complete mess in the car with several types of cheese and crackers ground into the carpet and all over the seats.  We were completely oblivious and were having a great time.  Tim just had to grin and bear watching his new car get trashed.  He stills gets a nervous tic now whenever that episode is mentioned!

Ireland Sept 2009.JPG
Cahersiveen Music Festival 2009.

Things got worse though and the final nail in the coffin on Tim’s love for the Picasso arrived whilst watching an episode of Gavin and Stacey (BBC Sitcom).  ‘Uncle Bryn’ went on a road trip with the family to Gavin’s family in Billericay in his trusty Picasso! Tim never saw the car in the same light after that!

‘Uncle Bryn’ in his Picasso on the way to Billericay!

After his love affair with the car waned Tim wouldn’t spend any money on it unless he absolutely had to.  He hit a badger on the way to work early one morning which damaged the bumper.  The quote we had for fixing it was in the region of £350 so instead of paying up Tim ‘repaired’ the bumper with cable ties which looked like stitches!  They have lasted at least six years now and are still going strong.

Car Stitches Mar 16.JPG
The car with its stitches!

So eight years and 100000 miles later she has now gone to a new home.  To be fair she has cost us next to nothing to run throughout the last eight years so we can’t complain.  Tim will be catching the train to work until he finishes on 31st March 2016.  I cycle the couple of miles to work anyway so no change for me.  What it does mean though is we are now doing our weekly shop, and any other errands, on the bikes!

Car sold Aldi March 2016.JPG
Ready for the cycle home from the weekly shop on our Bromptons!



Our second house and pet sit.

This last weekend Tim and I had another adventure in Bradford On Avon looking after two very sweet Collies.  We thought they were going to be pretty high maintenance but they turned out to be two very lovely boys who just wanted to chase balls in the garden for hours on end.  The only flaw in the ‘game’ was that neither of them returned the balls!  I spent many hours blazing a trail to the bottom of the garden retrieving wet muddy balls to throw again!  I did have the aid of a tennis racquet to launch said balls which did save my arm somewhat.  Both pups did finally settle down and sleep after we had lit  the fire and  hidden all the tennis balls.

The owners did warn us that both dogs usually get up at about 6.30am and sure enough the ‘alarm bark’ went off at 6.23am!  More ball chasing was called for before breakfast.  The dogs breakfast included dog biscuits and fresh chicken.  Tim was a bit gutted as he thought the chicken would have been much better utilised in a sandwich for him rather than given to the dogs!  He did make the comment that the dogs were better fed than him.

Tim with the very sweet Zeb having a bit of a ‘man to man’ chat!

All in all we had a very pleasant time with the boys and can’t wait for our next assignment which is in Norfolk in May for four wire fox terriers (aka terrors).  That ‘should’ be our dream pet sit as they are one of our all time favourite breed of dog but……………four of them……………..i think we need our heads seeing to!


Visiting the Devon contingent of friends before the off………..

This last weekend we traveled down to deepest, darkest Devon to catch up with, and say our goodbyes to, some family and friends.  We popped in to see Tim’s sister in Plymouth and caught up with all her news.  She is also, very kindly, going to store some photo’s and memento’s for us (including Tim’s Good Readers Shield from 1970)!  Thank you Gloria:)

We then stayed the night with Avril and Andrew in South Brent.  We went out for a meal with Avril, Andrew, Nicola, Phil, Sarah and Neil.  Nicola, Sarah and Avril have been my friends since we first met at the Unemployment Benefit Office (aka dole office) in 1987.  We all worked there, we weren’t ‘signing on’!

Devon Friends 2016.JPG
All looking a ‘bit’ older than when we first met!

As usual, all the old stories and photo’s were chewed over and rehashed!  It was lovely to catch up with everyone as it’s a nightmare trying to arrange a date when everyone if free.  Thanks to A & A for putting us up in the ‘South Wing’ and for providing a slap up breakfast.

Devon Friends Feb 2016.JPG

Cheers guys, we will miss you!


Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show, Birmingham NEC.

We decided to take a trip to the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome show at Birmingham NEC yesterday.  It was really just for a day out as we aren’t in the market for a new van!  As usual we gravitated towards the murvi stand as we just lurve their vans.  We owned a Murvi Morello for four years and just loved the spacious simplicity of it.  Unfortunately, it had to go as we knew we would be needing extra space for an extended trip in the future which is why we have the van we have today.  I’m sure we will return to a Murvi van at some point in the future though.

We found the britstops stand and bought the 2016 book.   As we will no longer be staying very much in the UK we have cancelled our membership to the Caravan Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club.  Britstops could be the answer for us for the few weeks we will be back in the UK when we need to sort out the MOT/Service and visit family and friends etc.

We also paid a visit to Sophie and Adam at motorhome wifi as we will need reliable internet access whilst we are away in order to keep all you lovely people updated on our progress!  Sophie and Adam did a year touring Europe in 2011 and have a fabulous website resource here.  We have perused their blog extensively and have found it really useful, especially the info on how much the trip cost.  There are several bloggers out there who have given really detailed info on their budgets whilst travelling which really helped shape our thinking and gave us the confidence to know it really isn’t that expensive to tour Europe for an extended period.

We, after much discussion, and me putting my foot down with a firm hand settled on a 4G Roof Antenna & E5577 MiFi to keep us connected on the road.  The antenna will be permanently mounted on the roof of the van and out of the way with the Mifi secreted in a cupboard. Nice and tidy!  Tim wanted to go for the cheaper option of the 3G/4G Mimo Window Mount Antenna but with my OCD tendencies I just freaked out at the thought of Tim constantly fiddling with a roving antenna sticking it to different windows everyday.  I brought out my well used mantra – ‘you buy cheap, you buy twice’ which did the trick in the end!  We now have to get the Antenna fitted to the roof of the van at more expense but hey ho anything to keep the missus happy!  Tim ‘could’ fit it but doesn’t fancy drilling a hole in the roof of the van so will leave it to the experts at Webbs who have been excellent and have fitted an inverter, shelves in the wardrobe, solar panel and a heating element in the water tank with no problems.

So, the van is almost ready to go and I’ve been gathering maps and books together for Spain, France and Portugal for our first year on the road.  Almost there………!


The ‘pack up’ begins…………..

Our agent has confirmed our new tenants will be moving into our house on 8th April 2016.  This gives us six weeks in which to sort all our stuff out.  Even though we have been living a pretty sparse, minimalist life style at home for the last couple of years we still seem to have quite a lot of ‘stuff’.  We haven’t bought anything new for the last two years unless it is something that was going with us on ‘the trip’  but deciding what to keep, sell, donate or ditch is a pretty taxing task!  As we have no idea how this lifestyle is going to evolve we don’t know if we will need any of this stuff in the near future and whether it is worth paying to store it all or going totally hardcore and getting shot of the lot?!?

Packing Feb 2016.JPG
Packing up begins………….

These are the sorts of conversations we have had over the last few months/weeks:

Jane: Right what are we going to do about the kitchen table and chairs?

Tim: I don’t think we should just give it away it should be worth at least £200.

Jane: £200?  You must be joking nobody will pay that for it. You’d be lucky to get £50.

Tim: Yeah but we paid loads for it when we bought it.

Jane: Yes but that was 20 years ago and we have had 20 years of service out of it!

Tim: Well I’d rather keep it then.

Jane: It will take up too much room in storage and if we wanted a similar table and chairs in the future we could buy secondhand for next to nothing.  And it will be easier getting rid of it now than in a years time from a storage container in a muddy field.

Tim: What about selling it on Gumtree or Facebook?

Jane: We’ll need to photograph it and have the hassle of timewasters and hagglers though.

Tim:  Well i don’t just want to give it away to some freeloader!

Jane:  OK, what about donating it to Dorothy House?

Tim:  Mmm, I’d be much happier with that.

Jane: Right, decision made, conversation closed, off it goes to Dorothy House.  Right, what about the bookcases…………………………………………….!

Packing Feb 2016 (2).JPG
The last remaining books – all the others have been given to friends or donated to Dorothy House.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!  Many, many discussions have gone round in circles like this.  I think we feel aggrieved that  we have paid a certain amount for something which would now sell for next to nothing.  What is particularly ridiculous is the fact that I have had no qualms about giving away all my books (in which case we don’t need the bookcases Tim as we won’t have anything to put on them!).  Equally, we have taken a digital photograph of our old photo’s and thrown out the originals.  We have just kept about 10% of the originals in a few albums but the rest have gone…………for ever.  And we didn’t feel in the least bit flaky about it either.  So, why are we wasting so much mental energy on household possessions that can be replaced at any time?  Bizarre!

Bare Book Case Feb 2016.JPG
Do we really need to keep that bookcase now we have nothing to put on it?!

All I can say is kudos to all of you who keep nothing and get shot of ALL your possessions before you embark on a life change like this.  You are totally more badass hardcore than we are!


Our first assignment!

Well our globetrotting house and pet sitting adventure began this weekend.  We are registered here. We have been looking after two very sweet cocker spaniels and a vocal Burmese cat in BOA not too far away from our soon to be rented out home.  It has been a great first experience for us as the three girls have been an absolute pleasure to look after in very comfortable surroundings.  We had views right across BOA towards Westbury White Horse, underfloor heating and sunshine streaming in through the bi-fold doors.  Tilly, the younger dog, had Tim pinned to the settee for most of Saturday whilst I was at work – his excuse for not moving from the same spot for several hours!  We have had some pleasant walks in and around the local area and along the canal and seen some parts of the town we never knew existed.  There are so many alleyways concealing tucked away houses with pretty little gardens and great views.

First House Sit Feb 2016
Tim with his very affectionate charge!

We went out last night to the Castle, a flatcappers pub, for a couple of real ales and some food.  I have to say mine was the best pint I have had since I was last in Yorkshire probably a year ago!  I forget what it was though! Doh! This was the first time we’d been able to go out in BOA and not have to get a train, taxi or bus home (or walk or cycle!). It made for a very pleasant evening with much chat about our future plans (or lack of them!) with then just a 5 minute stroll ‘home’ and a rapturous welcome from our 3 charges. Purrfect!

First House Sit Feb 2016 (2)
It’s a tough job!

Coming home tonight has been a wrench as we have fallen in love with all three of ‘the girls’!

Rosie Feb 2016
How can you resist that little face?

As an aside:

Whilst we were on our first pet sitting assignment we had a message from another house sit we had applied for in BOA for 5th March 2016.  The couple wanted to meet us in person and it just happened that their house was just a few minutes walk away.  On arriving we were welcomed by Tusker (I forget which breed of dog he is but it’s posh and French!) who happens to belong to a friend of a friend who was doing a landscaping project for the owners.  Small world!  We met the two boisterous collies and the owners are happy for us to look after their collies and cat for the night on 5th March.  So that will be assignment numero deux.  I think the younger collie could be a bit high maintenance but we’ll see!