Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Summer in England

Sorry about lack of photos - or non-existence - I've only got a small slot to post this and as I'm very much behind I thought I'd just get on with it - actually I'm supposed to be in the shower, getting ready to move on again.

Stratford-on-Avon Motorhome Show.

We only decided to go there because it was the right weekend for us and because it meant a few cheap nights. We could have gone all week but the van was due for an MOT so we only went for the weekend. We hadn’t been for a few years and then it was just as day visitors as it is only about 30 miles from where we lived. This year, however, the show itself was quite disappointing with not that many stands. We were quite interested in the side stands with accessories and all sorts of bits and stuff that we wanted to acquire whilst in England, but they were quite disappointing. What did surprise me though was the number of motorhomes stopping over. There must have been about 2000 on site. When you think of the value of the vans at something like 50K average each, that’s an awful lot of money!!!!!!!! It’s about time the councils in the UK stopped thinking of us as little more than gypsies and realise that offering organised overnight stopovers might actually bring them in some income.

Sunset over the Stratford-on-Avon Motorhome show

The weather was very kind to us though and on the Saturday we walked into Stratford. It’s about 2 miles from the site and we didn’t go until about 3.30pm which for me was such a shame. When we got close to the town centre we discovered that this was the day of the annual rowing regatta. Now as an ex-rower myself I could have happily wiled away the day on the river bank, sipping pimms and watching the racing. I loved my time when I raced on the Thames and just regretted starting so late at 37 which meant that I was competing against women half my age for a seat in the boat. I only did it for 2 years but they were a fantastic 2 years. Here’s a picture of a quad which I think were probably novices looking at the splishy splashy going on. One to remember next year though it’s probably always the same weekend as the motorhome show.

Splishy splashy - obviously novices

Visiting Friends

On Monday we moved just 2 miles down the road to a very pleasant little campsite to avail ourselves of the facilities for a couple of days before moving on to visit friends fairly nearby.
We left on Wednesday to visit Sue and Jon, Sue is a friend from Netball whom I met over 30 years ago when we both played for the BAI . She and Jon live in an idyllic country house somewhere in the Warwickshire countryside.

Great Campsite this!!!!

Chocolate box cottage - actually farm house

Dogs tail could be seen donw by the trees on the left - where nasty Mr Badger lives

We were to spend two nights with them and coincidentally they were going away that weekend so we were able to stay on to look after their cats for them, which did everyone a favour and it gave me an opportunity to get all my washing done. We had a lovely time with them and it’s a pretty good campsite although the entrance is a little narrow. The dog loved the garden and we’re always vigilant to make sure we pick up all of the dogs little parcels and watch her like a hawk. That reminds me of a sign we saw on a Spanish campsite – “Please pick up your dog remains!” However, one time she wandered off down the garden. This gives us three problems; would we see any deposits; will she get into the pond and will she find the badger holes. The garden slopes away from you at the bottom and as I walked towards the bottom of the garden I could see just her bottom and her tail sticking up like a white flag. Yes, she’d found the badger sets and had her head stuck down a hole. Luckily I was able to get her back before the badgers noticed. I really didn’t want to have a dog with it’s nose shredded by the nasty Mr Badger. Another time I was walking down the garden with her and she spotted the pond and before I had a chance to stop her she was in there splashing around like a puppy – in the mud!!!! Nice!!!! Sometimes I really wonder why we love our dog so much!
I did mention that we were to look after the cats, the only problem was that the moment Sue and Jon left, so did one of the cats. I did a couple of sweeps of the garden to make sure that he wasn’t lying dead under a hedge somewhere but there was just no sign of him. We never saw him again. Before we left I wrote a note to Sue about the cat and asked her to call me if he returned. Apparently the moment they got home the cat appeared coming down the stairs – they are just so sneaky, cats!
Moving on, we visited Brian and Barbara who had recently moved to somewhere in the Worcestershire countryside.

Careful Brian, you might just do yourself an injury

During window fittings - I love work, I could watch it all day

 I don’t know why it is but my friends seem to like living out in the sticks. It was a bit hairy getting the van on their drive as their road is quite narrow but yet again I managed it. Lovely house, lovely garden and lovely to meet up again with old friends. Barbara I met in the late ‘70’s when we worked together in Margate. I subsequently moved to the midlands and when she visited me for a party in the mid ‘80’s, I introduced her to Brian (a friend of Sue’s) and they have been married now for nearly 30 years. I managed to do something right. B&B have a caravan although we have only been away together once when we went to a CL at Weston-Super-Mare Football Club, which I don’t really think was Barb’s cup of tea, also it was during the winter so we had to sit outside to socialise. That was our one and only attempt at going away with other people. Now we just say where we are going and they can join us if they like.
Moving on, we took the relatively short journey to the village where our mortar home belongs, about 30 miles away.

We've now come full circle

Our first full-timing adventure is over. We’re back in Fillongley, where we started last November.
20th November 2013 to 20th July 2014 - 8 months, approx 6,000 miles, 39 destinations, and what a time we had. That’s not it though, this is only a 3 week stay and then we’re off again at the beginning of August.
Glynn at the Weavers Arms very kindly allowed us to stay in the pub car park. We had planned to stay less than 2 weeks as Glynn had a music day planned and we thought he would need the space, however he was happy for us to stay a bit longer so that meant we didn't have to find somewhere else to stay while we were there. He even gave EHU and let me use the washing machine. What a result. Thanks Glynn. Iain repaid him by spending copious amounts of money on Old Speckled Hen and by painting his outdoor tables and bar for him in readiness for the music day. I absolutely loved it, staying at the pub. We also commandeered our old mini from my brother, which we hadn't planned to do, so we had transport for the time we were there. It was great to catch up with friends.
It was useful to have the car as we had a chance to catch up with my lovely friend Louise in Birmingham who is recovering from a liver transplant. I know Louise reads my blog and as she says “follows our travels vicariously”. Louise you looked sooooo much better, we hope everything goes well for you and you are able to get away later in the year.
We went to see Ruby in her school end of year performance of The Little Shop of Horrors which was very very good, and also went to the village school to see the year 6 performance of The Tempest. It was lovely to see the kids performing, especially as they were the first ones I used to look after as Reception children when I started at school as a dinner lady (actually it's Midday Supervisor but everyone still calls it dinner lady). I met up with old colleagues at school and a special mention for Sharon who gave me a great big hug.
We saw locals that we used to drink with, Milly and Ray (who got a special pass to come out our first night back), Don and Lorraine, Paul and Pearl, and had lots of visitors; my brother, Neil; Neil's son James with Kerrie and their baby Spencer; Jenni and Ed with their daughter Rebecca and their new baby Martha whom we hadn't met before; Paul and Nikki with some of their brood and yet another new baby Thoryn; Danny and Caroline (old neighbours); Alan (another neighbour) who was exercising his new hip; Marie and Theo with Ruby; and of course Iain's work colleagues, Phil and Oli, with Oli's girlfriend Danina and one of her work colleagues, the latter three all being German we managed to boost Glynn's coffers by inviting them over the night that Germany won the semi-final of the World Cup, you know the 7-1 night. The following evening Glynn asked us what time all our Dutch friends were arriving.
We went to the Manor music day and saw more old friends from the village and the day at the Weavers music day brought us in touch with more old friends, including another new baby. We only lived in Fillongley for 9 years but I think it is the friendliest place I've ever lived.
We obviously did a check of the house while we were there and there's some work that we need to get done – well when a house is over 400 years old there is always some upkeep to be done. This was an opportunity to leave some things behind in storage and also to pick up MORE!!!! Of course these were the things that I just must have for our next adventure.

Out went:-

  • The BBQ – we hadn't used it at all and it is brand new. The problem was that we didn't really have anywhere to store it so it had been under the bed and that meant that once it was used we would have to find somewhere else to store it. We decided that we'd make do with disposable ones if we need them. I also had other ideas for the storage space that we would save – see later.
  • The pressure cooker – we hadn't used that either – there's no need for quick cooking on gas when you have all day and don't want to use any more gas than's necessary, especially when you are already paying for electricity.
  • The two boxes of old family photos that I never got around to scanning.
  • Broom (see later)
  • Rubbish window cleaner bought in Spain.
  • Iain's smart shoes
  • Both pairs of walking boots, Iain has decent walking shoes and I picked up an old pair of winter boots. We didn't do any walking that necessitated “proper” walking boots all winter so as long as I've got something to put on my feet in the rain (what rain?) that will suffice.
  • As many old clothes as we could get rid of.

In came:-

  • A roll of green wind deflector netting - to be used as a Benidorm carpet next year. We already had it so decided that it will probably make a good awning mat and also be used to screen our pitch to give the dog a clear boundary.
  • A hammer to put down the Benidorm carpet.
  • More crafting stuff (Iain calls it my toys) – namely all my jewellery making stuff and beads. I'm determined not to spend my time in bars this winter, I'm going to do stuff. I might even ask if the campsite might make available to me a crafting room where I can demonstrate stuff and do classes. I drew the line at my polymer clay supplies and iris folding templates and cards. I am allowed to bring what I like as long as it fits in one cupboard, but secretly I've got stuff under the settee and under the bed.
  • Motorhome cleaning brush which doubles as a broom.
  • Winter boots for me,
  • One pair of high heeled sandals – the only pair of heels I have.
  • A load of fabrics and sewing stuff – see later – I said I had other plans for the BBQ space.

New Stuff -

The other thing was that since we have been in England is that we haven't stopped spending, all essentials of course:-
  • Clothing from Go Outdoors - fleeces and zip offs for Iain - which should last us until we get back next year.
  • two pairs of new walking sandals each;
  • new pair of “smarter” deck shoes for Iain;
  • a new SatNav (Garmin);
  • a very sexy looking electric coffee percolator;
  • a slow cooker (so that when we meet friends in the bar our dinner isn't ruined);
  • a pool cue for Iain for when we get back to Spain (did we agree this was essential?);
  • a sewing machine for me so that I can recover the motorhome seats (absolutely essential);
  • an empty cow (a full hide for the seats);
  • a 12v to 110v inverter to run our tv when no hookup (only it doesn't work);
  • 1200 poo bags – they are difficult to find in Spain
  • flag pole, wind sock and Cross of St George flag (really essential things)
  • Loom bands – yes I'm a big kid.
  • New electric toothbrush.
  • New table for indoors which is a better height to eat off and can be used outdoors
  • Aires book for Belgium, Holland and Luxerbourg. I bought this at the Stratford show so that it didn't have to be sent and then promptly left it on the stand. Thank you to the man from Brit Stops who sent it on for me – doh!
  • New stacking wine glasses – with two spares for when we have visitors.
  • Full series 1 to 6 of BENIDORM – we have dipped into this now and again but having been there we thought we'd have something to watch when we have no TV. I'm not allowed to watch it yet.
  • Prescription sunglasses for me!!!!! Unfortunately we seem to be chasing these around the country at the moment and having gone to Tesco in Dover to pick them up yesterday I found that they had made clear glasses, when they should have been sunglasses. So I've now arranged for the to be sent to our Folkestone address and then to be forwarded to a campsite in Holland which is the only address we have for sure over the next month.

And of course there are the things that we needed to spend on the van.

  • MOT
  • Service
  • NEW TYRES – all six of them. But at least they should last us until we are in our '60's.
  • Fridge fix – it was the thermostat as we thought.
  • 12v circuit sorted at the back.
  • Suicidal light-bulb over the sink which decided to jump out one day when we were going along and smashed spectacularly in the sink.
  • Waste tank – so that when we are a long time on one site we can dump our tanks without moving the van. Now this is currently stored in the shower or sometimes down my side of the bed – but ONLY until it has been used!!!!!!! Then we will have to attach it somehow to the bike rack.
I am sure that we have now blown our annual budget considerably but at least we don't spend like this all year round.
Before we leave we've now got to sort out the house insurance – another expense.