Yes, we are now down to just 9 weeks before we start our new life and what an interesting week it has been ! Wednesday saw the end of the school term, but for Shazza, the end of her teaching career, and with it a time for farewells. I knew that this would be an emotional day for her with lots of goodbye’s to friends and colleagues. Knowing that she can get quite emotional I anticipated that she would
walk ‘march’ to her car in the car park, a lump in her throat and with her fighting back the tears, the final wave, as for the very last time she drove out of the school gates. Well, let me tell you this, if I ever had any ambitions of being a successful author of romantic and emotional novels in the future, then I may as well stop now !!
Sharon arrived home a little earlier than I had expected, I was upstairs in my office working when I heard the front door open, but no sounds of footsteps followed so I went to the top of the landing and looked down the stairs, Shazza made several trips to and from her car, each time she returned laden with an armful of what were obviously gifts. I was ready to give her a cuddle and offer words of comfort. She bounded ! up the stairs towards me, and I do mean bounded, disrobing of her school attire as she did so, like an excited schoolgirl wearing a massive grin on her face, which was about the only thing she was wearing at that point !! (don’t worry, ‘Jeeves’ will tidy up after ‘Madame’) she announced ‘I am going out !’. As she entered her shower she instructed ‘Jeeves the chauffer’ to bring the car around as she required immediate transportation to a local hostelry (Pub) where she was meeting colleagues for a ‘
Piss Up‘, few lemonades !
At this point, I would just like to say a BIG THANK YOU to Shazza’s friends and colleagues for all the cards, many of the comments and sentiments even brought a tear to my eyes and I don’t even know most of you ! Your very generous gifts are very much appreciated ! Some were of a ‘tasty’ variety and other’s where it was obvious that a great deal of thought had gone into the selection of them with a view to our future lifestyle and were extremely practical (or was it the yellow ‘Post-Its’ that Shazza had thoughtfully left pinned on Staff Room noticeboards ?) but whatever (or whoever) it was that prompted the purchase of such very practical items, and all of the other very generous gifts, a very sincere thank you from the both of us. Please forgive me, I am not going to attempt to mention everyone by name or even all the gifts received because I would be certain to forget someone or something and that would be devastating. However, I do just have to tell you something, those that know Sharon will probably be familiar with her sometimes ‘hard faced’ exterior or probably hearing her quite ‘unique renditions’ of “Oh ! Happy Day” over the past few weeks, well let me just tell you, whatever she may have said or even implied, I know for a fact, that she is going to miss you lot !!
I have been working quite hard on weaning Shazza off her “little problem”, which I am too much of a gentleman to mention yet again (Clink, Clink !). Let’s just say that she will only join the Motoring organisation know as the ‘RAC’ because she get’s cold sweats when anyone mentions ‘AA’ !! So I was somewhat pleased to see that nobody had given her any bottles of ‘Relaxation Juice’ as part of her farewell gifts. Although she was quite insistent in requesting that I put a ‘First Aid Kit’ into the van for her, a special ‘First Aid Kit’ just for her ? I didn’t really give this too much thought as although we already had quite a comprehensive kit ‘on board’, you can never really have too many bandages, plasters etc can you ? It was quite a handy-sized little kit, which came in a nice plastic box, ideal for sticking in a backpack when going out Kayaking or Hiking.
This is a photo of the handy little item, even comes in a nice waterproof container, perfect !! So, whilst Shazza was out with her colleagues, enjoying a few social lemonades, I thought that I would put the First Aid Kit away in the van. I was expecting this to be quite light in weight but was shocked to discover that it was actually quite heavy. “What could be in a First Aid Kit that would make it weigh this much? I had no choice, my curiosity was raised, I had to take a look !………………..
“Booze Aid Kit” !!!!
But, whoever you are, you are forgiven, as this was obviously intended as a ‘joint‘ gift as it contained two bottles of Jack Daniels, my favourite tipple………. (Purely for medicinal purposes you understand !!).
It had been very quiet on the house sale front. It had been twelve days since the Survey, I had checked my Legal team’s web site a couple of times during the week for updates and had found no further information. So I was quite relieved when on Friday afternoon I received a ‘text message’ simply stating that the buyer’s Solicitor had completed all their ‘searches‘ and my team were now waiting for any questions from them in relation to those ‘searches‘. What questions could they possibly have ? The initial questionnaire that I had completed was very comprehensive, it covered the usual stuff, Building Guarantees, Planning Permissions, Rights of Way, Adopted Roads & Utilities, Shared Ownership etc. etc. so what else could they possibly want to ask ? Perhaps it was just their jargon for stretching the work out and the hours to justify their costs, but then again perhaps I am just being cynical ?
I had been responding to some comments sent in from readers of my ‘
ramblings‘ blog, something which I try to do with all of them as I feel that if you (the readers) have taken the time to comment then I should reciprocate the compliment. Some of my blog readers are also members of the same Motorhome forum as myself, and although I have not met the majority of the forum member’s, Shazza and I were extremely pleased when it was suggested by one of them that “If” we had the time before we departed across the channel, we could meet up. So we are now in the process of agreeing dates and booking a local CL and we are really looking forward to it !!
Shazza and I have not really had that much time recently to actually think about our actual forthcoming maiden journey, other than a general discussion as to eventually reaching Southern Spain. We both would like to turn ‘right’ (looking Southwards) as we disembark at Santander and travel first through Northern Spain, drop down into Portugal and then cross into Southern Spain. However, the weather conditions could play a big part in whether we are able to do that or whether we need to turn ‘Left’ and make our way along the East Coast of Spain and then down to the warmer winter climate of the South. Either way doesn’t really matter as it will ‘all’ be new to us and so part of the ‘Big Adventure’ and let’s face it we are going to have plenty of other opportunities to do ‘other’ Countries over the next 1……3……5……7…….10 years or so ! Another good thing is that one of our travelling companions, ‘Snoopy’, comes pre-loaded with some extremely useful software, ACSI Campsites throughout Europe, Camperstop Europe and BORD Atlas, the latter two provide a list of ‘Aires’ throughout the whole of Europe and the ACSI and Camperstop programmes provide pictures of the locations. Whilst I have already plotted most of the ‘Camperstop Aires’ throughout France onto an AutoRoute Map, as doing this makes it a little easier for route planning when ‘on the road’, but I had not got around to doing any other plotting for any other countries ! So we sat on Friday evening looking at some of the potential ‘stops’ if we took the Northern Spain/Portugal option.
For those readers who are not familiar with Motorhome ‘Aires’ you may imagine that these are nothing more than lay-bys or waste ground (and some of them are !). However, the majority are locations that provide places for Motorhomes to park up and most provide a variety of essential facilities. These are not Campsites so no Fences, Receptions, Swimming Pools, Washroom facilities etc (although some do offer Toilets and Showers). Some also have restrictions on how long you can stay but many have no such restrictions so you could in theory stay as long as you wanted !! Generally, they offer the basic facilities of, a tap to obtain Fresh Water and places to discard your ‘Grey’ and ‘Black’ waste from your on-board holding tanks. Black being the contents of the ‘toilet’ and Grey being water used for washing either the pots ‘n’ pans or what you use for personal hygiene. Generally if their is a ‘charge’ it is for the Fresh Water rather than the ‘waste’. Now, the locations, these ‘Aires’ are everywhere, in remote Countryside, on Beaches, at Lakes, Rivers and Canals, at large Supermarkets or Fuel stations, and they can be in villages, towns and cities in fact there are absolutely thousands of them throughout Europe. The best bit though is that a vast amount of them are ‘FREE’ and you could plot your route so that you do not actually pay a penny (or Euro) on overnight stops or facilities, and to think that in my former Motorhoming life I was willing to pay up to €40 a night on a campsite, or as one of my forum colleagues calls them, ‘Prison Camps’ !! Those days are now long gone believe me ! There is one downside to using ‘Aires’ though and that is they cannot be pre-booked, so you arrive not knowing whether there is actually going to be any space for you. The good bit is that there are so many that if their is “No room at the Inn” you move on a few Kilometres to the next one. Anyway, we spent an hour or so just going through the list of Aires and when we came to one’s with pictures we both said in unison to everyone of them without exception, “That’ll do for me” !! As well as a vast number of ‘FREE’ ones we also found half a dozen or so that charged no more than €2 per night, inclusive of Electric Hook Up (EHU) and even WiFi connection, bonus !!
“Dave already made himself at home and here he is acquainting himself with ‘Snoopy’ who will be one of his travelling companions. Dave became a bit confused when he asked ‘Snoopy’ what he liked to eat for breakfast and Snoopy replied “Turn around and go in the other direction” (To me that sounds like a polite way of telling Dave to F*** Off !!!)
The evening temperatures have dropped considerably making for a restful nights sleep, so much so that my eyelids first opened at 7am, Shazza was already awake and asked if I wanted a coffee, silly question really, I would be stupid not to take advantage of the rare occasions when ‘Mrs Jeeves’ offers to make it !! However, missed opportunity or what ? I do not recall her placing it on my bedside locker, but it was definitely there, and stone cold, when my eyelids one again re-opened at 9am !!!
So another Saturday arrived and what shall I do today ? Perhaps put my feet up and read a book ? watch the Saturday morning cooking programmes with Shazza ? listen to some of my music ? decisions, decisions……….. Yeah right, I wish !!!! Today was dedicated to washing the Motorhome roof, followed by waxing the solar panels (as advised by the very nice people who fitted my extra solar panel at the Exeter show), then cleaning the Heki skylights inside and out as well as the washroom and the shower skylights. All this before the forecasted storm showers later this afternoon !! Well I managed to finish just as the first raindrop fell, not the torrential rain that had been forecast, but sufficient to have made trying to polish off wax a never ending task. I had just put the last of the cleaning kit away when a thought entered my head, “when are you going to load the car with all the
tat (Cherished possessions) ready for the car boot sale tomorrow ” ? I went inside to contemplate this conundrum over a much overdue but very welcome hot mug of coffee and a very nice Clotted Cream Scone with Strawberry Jam. The cream and the jam had been purchased, not that my beloved couldn’t make them you understand, just that she has been very busy recently with more pressing matters (social lemonade drinking to name but one !). However, she had made the scones, and these had not been baked in the oven as was normal, No! these scones had been the very first ‘trialled’ item baked in our new ‘Remoska’ cooker (Thank you again to Shazza’s school friends and colleagues, one of those very practical gifts I mentioned earlier) and I have to say they were absolutely delicious. How on earth can you bake scones and cakes in something that looks like a deep frying pan with a lid ? I don’t know but you certainly can !! The rain took a brief respite and I took the opportunity to load the car ready for the mornings early start and then after a very welcoming shower ‘collapsed’ without any ceremony at all into my favourite leather recliner !!