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?!?

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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…………………………………………….!

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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!