Final day at home and first day on the road……. .

Wednesday saw my final day at work as a postie with Royal Mail.  Whilst only there for a short while from November last year I have really enjoyed having a physical, outdoor job and lost 10 pounds in the process!  Getting paid to exercise – what’s not to like??!!  Tim did his final gig with the DS Big Band at The Farmhouse which was a good night.

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Poor quality picture but you get the idea!

We had a fair few friends turn out to see him off including Sam and Chris who came all the way from Inverness – in truth they were down seeing family in Swindon but we like to think they like us that much to travel all that way!  So that’s the end of an era for Tim after 16 years with the band.

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Go Tim!

Thursday morning was busy with the final clear out and clean up of the house before handing the keys into the agent for our tenants.  One final trip to the charity shop and a last scoot out to the storage container to drop a few bits and pieces off and we were on the road.  It all felt a bit surreal but we felt relieved, excited and pleased to finally be on our way.

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On the road at last!

We were due to be at our first Helpx near Leicester on Friday morning so we drove up through the Cotswolds making a pitstop at Lidl in Cirencester for some provisions.  That will be the first of many Lidl stops in the coming months!

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First Lidl stop of the trip!

We had lunch in Bourton on the Water – in the van, parked up on a side street to avoid parking fees naturally!  Our first night was spent at a Britstop behind a pub near Rugby.  The landlord came out to welcome us and moved his car so that we could park up adjacent to the canal.

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Our first Britstop next to the canal.

We had a stroll along the canal and local quarry.

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Pleasant stroll around the disused quarry, now a nature reserve.

We then availed ourselves of the free wifi in the pub accompanied by a couple of pints of real ale and some food.  Not a bad way to spend our first night on the road.  After a quiet nights sleep it was up for a leisurely cup of tea and breakfast before setting off for two weeks of volunteering with a Helpx Host.

The map of Europe arrives…………… .

When we travelled to Normandy two years ago we were parked up next to a Dutch van which had a map of Europe transfer stuck on the side of it.  It’s an outline of Europe with all the countries on it that you can ‘fill in’ as you visit each country.  We said at the time that we would definitely try to get one before we left for our trip.  So after a little Googling I managed to source one from Germany from here and, what with the wonders of Google translate, I ordered one which duly arrived 5 days later!  That t’internet is just amazing!!

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Look at that concentration trying to get the transfer on without any any bubbles!

Getting the transfer onto the van proved to be a bit tedious.  Tim, very kindly, tried to help and all was going really well until half of it was on and he decided to run off and get the camera to take a few pictures.  Well, that just interrupted my concentration and the lower half of it ended up with several air bubbles in it.  A minor domestic then ensued with Tim shushing me hoping the neighbours wouldn’t hear my language and me telling him ‘don’t you *&%$£* shush me’!  We then had to carefully rip it off and try again.  The second attempt wasn’t much better and I had to resign myself to imperfection and pass the bubbles off as mountainous regions in those countries!  It’s not too bad if you don’t look too closely and it gives the idea I suppose.

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Those pesky bubbles just wouldn’t come out!
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Before we added the countries we have already visited in the van.
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After – Mmm we’ve not been far!

We have been to a few other countries but not in ‘the van’ so they don’t count.  Hopefully after a couple of years it will be a bit more colourful if it stays stuck on!

I did have some more photos but I had to pick out the ones where I didn’t look ‘evil’!

 

Another farewell to friends…………. .

I said another farewell this last weekend to my good friends Christine (aka Sharms), Suz and Jo.  Suz is getting married in July and we all went down to Dorset for a weekend ‘hen do’.  We stayed at Longthorns Farm which is near Wool and right next door to Monkey World.  We’d hired a Shepherds Hut for the weekend complete with woodburner and fire pit.

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Shepherd’s Huts at Longthorns Farm.

The campsite and hut had everything we needed and was just fab although the composting toilets didn’t go down too well with the others!  I thought they were fine but then I’m used to roughing it!

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The weather was absolutely superb although it was cloudy in the evening so Sharms was a bit put out (an under statement!) that she couldn’t use her telescope that she had lugged all the way from home.

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Inside the Shepherd’s Hut.
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Check out that lovely little woodburner.

The woodburner in the hut was fantastic and kept it roasting hot inside.  We roasted marshmallows on the firepit – Sharms brought along the mother of all marsh mallows which were just huge.  If you want to get some they sell them at B&M for about £1.20 for a big bag and they are the size of tennis balls – well almost!

The big excitement for the Saturday morning was walking with the resident Alpacas!  The farm have about 25 Alapca’s and we were able to do a short walk with some of the Cria’s (bambino Alpaca’s) who are just getting used to being handled and wearing a lead.  They are just so lush and it was a privelege to be able to handle them. Mind you we didn’t get very far with them as they wanted to get back to their mates in the field!

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Sharms with her Cria 🙂

 

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Feeding time!

In the afternoon we went down to Durdle Door and had a picnic on the beach.

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The infamous Durdle Door.
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Jo, Sharms and Suz.

We rounded off the weekend with a visit to Monkey World on the Sunday.

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Monkey World.

So it wasn’t really your typical ‘Hen Weekend’ – what with Jo listening to a play on Radio 4, Suz enjoying some quiet time and me asking if it was time for bed yet at 7.20pm on the Saturday evening! We are so rock n roll!

Thank you all for a top weekend and best of luck to Suz for her upcoming wedding to Nick 🙂

Tim’s final day at work……….. .

It was Tim’s last day at work on 31st March 2016 and his countdown clock finally displayed less than 24 hours to go!  It was a date he thought he would never get to but it finally arrived.

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Tim’s countdown clock finally gets to his last day at work!

So, without further ado I have left it up to Tim to do a ‘guest’ post and talk you through his last day at work.  Over to you Tim (queue drum roll) ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Well wasn’t that interesting!  He always was a man of few words!  Ah well, nobody really does know what Tim did in his 34 years at work so I don’t think we are about to be enlightened now.  It will forever remain a mystery.

I am still at work until Wednesday next week so I will make sure Tim has a list to work from in his ‘down time’!

 

The joys of living ‘in limbo’…. .

So all our stuff is now in storage and we are living in the van on the drive during the day and retiring to sleep in the house at night on the mattress that’s been dragged out of the van.  I’m not sure what the neighbours think but I don’t really care!  I started work at 7.30am on Saturday (for the last 4 months since resigning from my job with the DWP I’ve been a Post woman) and I left Tim doing a few chores at home.  I was expecting to be back by 3pm but I phoned Tim to say I was delayed and wouldn’t be home until about 4.30pm.  Now what has been really nice about these last four months of working on a Saturday is that Tim has cooked me a slap up meal for when I get home after my round.  This is what I was expecting when I walked through the door after trudging in hideous wind and rain for 6 hours delivering post.  I’d had nothing to eat or drink since 7.00am (my fault, I know) and what was I greeted with when I got home?? This:

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Oh well, the oven’s gone – so much for my slap up meal today!

Yep, a gaping hole where the oven had been!  Aaarrrggghh, Tim gave the oven away to a guy we’d met at the storage place who had just moved house and didn’t have any white goods!  The guy stopped by on Saturday morning and collected the oven and a few other things from us and will be back next Sunday to collect the washing machine!  So much for my dreams of a roast dinner! Doh!

To be fair Tim got the BBQ out and cooked something on that so all was well in the end. At least he had the foresight to keep the washing machine for another week as I had planned on having everything up to date on the washing front, including some jackets, before we leave next week.

I washed our down jackets yesterday and I cycled off on a mercy mission to our friends Di and Chris to use their tumble dryer, as it’s the only decent way to get them dry, and we’ve never had one!  Thank you for the lend of it!  I did tell Tim that they’d fed me a slap up roast dinner whilst I was there waiting for the jackets to dry but I’m not sure he believed me!

I was up bright and early this morning leaving Tim to a lie in and i went out, in my dressing gown, to the van to update the blog and catch up on emails as the internet works reliably from there.  What I did forget was that when I emerged from the van a couple of hours later it was now light and I was still in my dressing gown.  I had to hang onto it in the gale force winds as I’m not sure it would have been quite the Marilyn Monroe moment should it have blown up on the way from the van into the house.  More like Bet Lynch after a late night out I expect!  Ah well, more for the neighbours to speculate about!

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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Just need a lie down before the last bits go in!
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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!).

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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!

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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??!!

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The pack and re-pack and re-pack of ‘Ollie’!
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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!

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Tim painting his ‘man cave’!
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Primping the fence!

So that’s it 16 days to go! Yay!