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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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!
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??!!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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’!
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.
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………!