The Adventure Begins !!

As expected, neither of us could sleep on Wednesday night and with thoughts of the following day’s activities filling our heads we had it all mapped out. Our contract did state that we would have to vacate the property by 13:00 hours on the day of completion and so we anticipated that we would not get the phone call informing us that the funds had been transferred until late morning or even after lunch. Shazza went for her hair appointment at 09:00am although she doesn’t do No.2’s !! That left me time to record the Electricity, Gas and Water meter readings, do the final check of the house for the umpteenth time ! then stow the non-essentials ready for travel mode. Mike and Sue, our neighbours, came across with a card and to wish us farewell, a big thanks to them (stay in touch and keep us updated with all the street gossip !!). But then it all went downhill……….. I had taken the Electric and Gas meter readings but on lifting the cover in the pavement where the water meter should have been, I discovered that there was no meter !! At this point Shazza returned from her hair appointment and I asked her if it had been ‘shut’, she didn’t appreciate my attempt at humour. Anyway, I told her that I could not find the water meter and so we went on a ‘meter hunt’ lifting all the hatches in the pavement along our street, but no meter could we find ? However, after spending a considerable amount of time on this futile hint I suggested to Shazza that I didn’t think that if it did exist that our meter would be located outside the ‘Tesco’ supermarket some fifteen minutes from our actual house !! The very nice lady on the other end of the phone at Thames Water HQ could not understand it either, especially as they had recently requested that we go to ‘paperless’ billing, which involved reading our own meters and providing the readings on-line ? She checked her paperwork and confirmed that the ‘cover’ in the pavement outside our house ‘was’ the recorded location for our meter but that it was obviously one of those that needed a hand-held ‘gismo’ to electronically take the reading. She suggested that as she already had a history of our meter readings she was able to calculate our average usage and would that be acceptable ? We both agreed on what appeared to be a realistic, and favourable, figure and I was able to pay the final bill their and then. I did question what would happen if that figure was not correct and she told me not to worry about it, so I didn’t and I won’t !! So that problem now resolved we could make our way to the local McDonalds to utilise their ‘free’ WiFi to submit our on-line meter readings or that had been the plan until my mobile phone rang. It was our Solicitor advising us that we had now ‘completed’ on the sale of the house, the funds had been transferred and that she had advised the Estate Agent that they could release the keys to the ‘buyers’. GULP !! well they could if they didn’t happen to still be in my coat pocket !! So panic stations, we still hadn’t disconnected the Electric hook-up or done the last minute shopping we had planned. A bit of a rush ensued but after confirming that the funds were indeed in our bank account (thank goodness for 3G Mobile technology), we gave the house the last once over, disconnected and stowed the hook-up cable and then made our way to the Estate Agent to hand over the keys to the house and still managed to get our last bit of shopping done. And so at 11:30am on Thursday 26th September 2013 as we drove away from the street where we had lived for the last six and a half years, we were now both officially homeless and ‘Fulltimers’. Strange though it may seem, we did not look at each other with big grins on our faces, we did not do cartwheels down the aisles in fact we both sat silently, it was a surreal sort of feeling……

Swindon – Chapel Lane CC Site (74 Miles)

By the time we had reached the first stretch of Motorway we had relaxed into the realisation that the dream was actually a reality and we were now living it. However, for me it just felt as if we were leaving to go on one of our Motorhome holidays like we had done so many times in the past. The only real difference is that there was no rush to get to our first overnight location. When we had just two or three weeks holiday we just wanted to get to our first campsite as quickly as possible so as not to lose any valuable time. But things were now different, there was absolutely no need to rush to the Chapel Lane Caravan Club Site, just outside of Birmingham, our overnight campsite, we had all the time in the world and so the Cruise Control was set at 58mph and we sat in the inside lane with the ‘truckers’. Upon arrival at the site and one of the advantages of it being the ‘low season’ was that we were able to select our own hard-standing pitch, a pitch with Electric Hook-Up and more than capable of accommodating a forty foot American RV !!

Our spacious pitch !!

Our spacious pitch !!

With money in the bank and debts to clear it was time to start making a few phone calls. We had not had the opportunity to take advantage of Mr McDonald’s ‘free’ WiFi so first up was to clear the final Electricity and Gas bills and close the account. That was followed by phone calls to the finance companies and shortly afterwards all debt was cleared, ‘Big Momma’ was now our’s and my goodness did it feel good to be completely free of debt !!

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More ‘Pressing’ matters to deal with !!

So now we could sit back, relax, crack open the bubbly stuff and enjoy the canapés and start enjoying the good life Right ?…….. Wrong !! Shazza got out the travel iron and proceeded to iron the clothes she had washed the previous evening, then she prepared the evening meal (in the Ramoska, of course) and then after we had washed amd dried the pots she set about making some more of her home-made Carrot & Ginger soup. As for me ? well I had the financial account spreadsheets to update and I still had a few amendments to make to my ‘To Do’ lists, well some old habits will take a bit more time to break………………. ?

Friday 27th September – Chapel Lane CC Site to ‘Wild Camping’ rendezvous with ‘Bugsy’ (101 miles)

Another change to some previous habitual behaviours was that of the ‘early’ departure from a campsite. Although the majority of sites asked you to vacate your pitch on the day of departure by ‘Noon’, we had always got up, showered, drank coffee on the move stowing kit for travel, disconnected the electric and then ‘on the road’ and all by 10:00am at the latest !! Today however was a new regime, we awoke, turned on the kettle, I kick started my lungs, made the coffee and went back to the warmth of the duvet to start enjoying this thing called ‘Retirement’. Then it was time for a leisurely shower, dressed and before departure we had an opportunity for a stroll around the site with ‘Dave’

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Back to the van with everything ready to roll and just one more job before we departed. We were going to spend the next two days at a Wild Camping location, this meant that we would have to be self-sufficient, so we needed to empty the ‘Grey’ waste, the ‘Black’ waste and to fill the ‘Fresh’ water tank. This would also serve as our first real test of the solar panels and leisure batteries as these would be our only means of power. The LPG would take care of our cooking, heating (water and habitation) and cooling (Fridge/Freezer) and it would be interesting to see how much it would use.

It is hard to believe, judging by the seasonally good weather, that it was the end of September, it was a lovely sunny and warm day and after doing the essentials with the van we were soon on our journey ‘North’. ‘Snoopy’ indicated that our jaunt today would take us little short of two and a half hours and we were already in our ‘No Worries, We’re Happy’ mode. The Cruise Control was again set for 58mph and we sat back to let ‘Big Momma’ take us effortlessly to our rendezvous with ‘Bugsy’, Paul and Debs. That was until we came to a grinding halt in a queue of traffic on the M6 Motorway, a queue that we were to discover would last for miles !! Now don’t ask me what magical force comes into play when I am stuck in traffic in ‘Big Momma’, whether on UK or European roads, but I just don’t get stressed. Perhaps it’s because the van is wider than a car, or perhaps it’s the extremely comfortable high back leather ‘Captain’ seats with their armrests, or perhaps it is the overhang at the front and sides of the cab that prevent us from being baked in the heat of the sun through the large glazed windows, or perhaps it’s just being in a nice elevated position that allows us to look over the cars in front or perhaps it is a combination of all of the above. Whatever it is, it was just sit back and inch forward with the other traffic and occasionally give the ‘customary’ wave to fellow Motorhomers as they sped past on the opposite side of the carriageway on their own journey’s to who knows where. Eventually we discovered the cause of our lengthy hold up, a burnt out shell of a bus on the Southbound carriageway ! Well actually that was not the cause of ‘our’ delay, that was created by all the ‘rubber neckers’ on the Northbound carriageway !! Once we had passed the scene of the incident we soon got back to our controlled 58mph and it was our turn to wave back at our fellow Motorhomers who now, on the other side of the motorway were static in lengthy queues on their now delayed journey’s to who knows where ? We eventually pulled off the rather boring three lane motorway and headed East into the Derbyshire Peak District. These roads were now single lane, very narrow and twisting and turning and so the comfort and convenience of the ‘Cruise Control’ was disengaged and ‘Big Momma’ was no longer under her own control but the control of my ‘Right’ foot.

This original short journey had unexpectedly become quite a lengthy journey and although we were still in no hurry there was one thing that I had become accustomed to with Shazza. She needs to be fed and watered at regular intervals otherwise her normal cheerful demeanour disappears at a rapid rate of knots. We had gone way beyond that point and so at the earliest opportunity I found a convenient place to park up. After a bowl of Shazza’s pre-prepared Carrot & Ginger soup, heated up on the gas hob, with a nice crispy baguette, Shazza was soon back to her normal self, “Onward Jeeves” she commanded with gusto and as always ‘Jeeves’ obeyed.

We were only an hour later than anticipated at our rendezvous with ‘Bugsy’, but were met with a cheery smile from our friends Paul and Debs. Paul had pre-positioned a ‘bollard’ to ensure that no-one else would park in ‘my’ spot. Hot mugs of coffee were placed in our hands, we sat down and the ‘catch-up’ conversations commenced. It is hard to believe but it had been 11 months since we had last camped together. Although this ‘rendezvous’ had been planned many weeks ago, unfortunately, due to a small breakdown in communication for which Debs, Shazza or myself will apportion any blame, Debs had to return home later in the evening as she had made arrangements to visit her mother ‘down south’ and this required her to catch a train at the ‘crack of sparrows’ in the morning. However, ‘Bugsy and Paul’ would be remaining to spend the majority of the following day with us and providing a guided tour of one of the many local walks in this beautiful ‘hidden’ location. Before then, we all went on an early evening walk, the girls in front chatting away, with Paul and I following not too closely behind and making our own conversation.

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IMG_0047 A Pleasant Autumnal Evening Stroll before Dinner

As the Photographs reflect from the wonderful backgrounds, this idyllic place is a walker’s paradise ranging from easy strolls, like the early evening one that we took, to more demanding and then one’s not for the fainthearted !! Whichever one was chosen the thing that remained the same was the breath taking scenery no matter which direction you looked.

Now that is what I call a Wild Camping location !!

Now if this what a Wild Camping location looks like then I can see us doing a lot more of it. There are no words that could accurately describe what it is like to wake up in a morning to views like this !!

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Now who says that Homeless ‘Fulltimers’ cannot do ‘Fine Dining’ ? This is the life eh ?

Unfortunately, because Debs was driving home later that same evening she was only able to ‘imbibe’ just the one small glass of ‘Relaxation Juice’. So being the good friends that we were, we took any temptation out of her way and between the three of us we ‘quaffed’ the remaining 3 Litres !! What a tremendous evening, excellent company, food, conversation and location and one that I hope we get to share again in the not so distant future.

The three of us waved Debs off and then Paul retired to Bugsy and Shazza and myself to ‘Big Momma’ as we were all pretty well done in. Whether it was the drive, the pre-dinner walk or the hearty meal or perhaps just an equal combination of them all I do not really know but I do know that I slept extremely well. I am sure that the copious quantity of wine that we had drunk had nothing whatsoever to do with aiding our undisturbed slumber !

When I awoke the following morning Shazza was already awake. Nothing had woken us up and in fact we both felt very refreshed (with no hangovers !), I looked at the clock and was amazed to find that it was only 05:00am and looking out of the window it was apparent that the Dawn had just woken up as well. It was far too early to get up, or to have a coffee or to kick start my lungs so although it was not particularly cold, no need for any heating, I elected to get back under the still warm duvet and perhaps I may just doze until a more sociable hour ! Instead of the doze we spent the next hour talking about what a good evening it had been and how sad we were that Debs had to leave so soon. We had so far had a good introduction to our new life on the road and if this is what the future had in store then we couldn’t wait to see what today and tomorrow would bring. By 06:00am it was time to have that first cigarette followed by the first coffee, back under the duvet of course (the coffee not the cigarette !). Is this what our new lives would be like we mused, active days doing things we enjoyed, lots of fresh air, early nights and early mornings ?

We were both up, washed, dressed and on our second coffees before we heard life next door in ‘Bugsy’. When Paul appeared he already had a mug of coffee in hand as well as being dressed I should add ! He joined us in ‘Big Momma’ and Shazza served up very welcome hot bacon and egg ‘butties’, well we would need sustenance before commencing our guided walk, one which we were promised would be a little more demanding than yesterday’s mere stroll !! The discovery we made this morning was that we had no mobile phone coverage (O2Network) but it appeared that Paul had no such problem (3 Network). Now this would ordinarily not be an issue but I had received a text message from another Motorhoming colleague and soon to be fellow ‘Fulltimer’ but I was unable to reply ? How does that work then ? I can receive a text message with no signal but I cannot send a reply ? Beyond my comprehension that one I’m afraid !!

We donned our boots and although not cold it was looking a little overcast so we donned our rain jackets as well. Armed with our trusty spring assisted walking poles we set off immediately ‘uphill’. As we ascended higher the low cloud descended until we met and with it came some very strong winds that had a bite which nibbled at our ears. Paul, our trusty guide, was a little disappointed as he had been extolling the wondrous views that we would have had as we climbed higher and higher. Unfortunately those wondrous views were shrouded in the low cloud so we continued walking to ‘our’ summit, there were higher summits to conquer but we decided to leave something for another day, nothing to do with us not yet being quite fit enough to face such challenges you understand !!

The plan had been to arrive at, what Paul informed us, was a quite notorious Public House at our half way point at around lunchtime where we would have a well deserved rest over a morsel or two of their very finest fare. Our timings had gone askew due primarily to the forces of nature, had we have been able to stop and take in the breath taking beauty of our surroundings then we would have not have arrived until the allotted hour, oh well, that is the nature of the weather and it does just what it wants when it wants.  I have to state at this point that whilst you may have been wondering why I havn’t disclosed our location, well we were under pain of death if we disclosed this in print to the world. However, Paul did consent to allowing me to make my own name up for the ‘pub’ that we were to visit. So we shall refer to it as the ‘Fart and Piddle’ which does have relevance to anyone who has a Motorhome or indeed the owners of small boats, especially where the subject of ‘onboard toilet arrangements’ are concerned. There are some who prefer to only use their ‘on board’ facilities for emptying one’s bladder but not the contents of one’s bowels, or as some commonly refer to these quite personal bodily functions as, No. 1’s and No. 2’s !! So, one tends to avail themselves of alternate facilities as and when the opportunities arise, these may be Public Conveniences, Cafes, Fast Food establishments or in our case the ‘Fart and Piddle’ Public House !!  This particular establishment was a popular ‘bikers’ watering hole, both the pedal powered variety as well as the more effortless mechanical monsters and even though the sun was still nowhere near being over the yard arm, the bikers were already quenching their thirst from all the dust and gravel they had been eating. We could have availed ourselves of a very nice looking ‘Full English’, served from 08:00am. If only we had known when we awoke this morning then we could have set off and been here in time for breakfast !! As it was we settled for some liquid refreshment and availed ourselves of their ‘facilities’, it would have been rude not to ? We sat in lovely red leather couches, the old fashioned one’s that curled themselves around you as you sunk into them, and close to a roaring log burner stove that took no time in defrosting one’s ear lobes. It was hard to willingly dislodge ourselves from what were very comfortable surroundings but dislodge we did. We put our rain jackets back on, zipped right up to the neck ready for the onslaught once we ventured back outside and we bid our very hospitable hosts farewell. Emerging from the sanctuary of the ‘Fart and Piddle’ we discovered that the wind had eased and the low cloud had been chased away by the sunshine. We hastily unzipped our jackets before we suffered from over heating. Where, other than this country, can you be close to hypothermia and suffering from frost bite one minute and then heat exhaustion the next ?

Paul assured us that we had done the hard bit and then with a smile on his face stated “What goes up must also go down” so a somewhat less arduous return journey sounded good, not just as it was going to be less physical effort but it would also give me an opportunity to have a cigarette which, without the gale force wind, would last slightly longer than 5 seconds that an earlier attempt had lasted ! Paul proved to be a very knowledgeable guide and whilst it would have been shorter to have followed a ‘metalled’ road all the way back to the vans ,instead he took us along other wooded footpaths with even more exhilarating scenery.

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Three and a half hours and 6.12 miles after setting off on our exhilarating walk we arrived back at the vans. I have to confess that I had been a ‘little’ nervous about leaving what was literally our home which contained ‘all’ our worldly possessions  in an isolates place. My nervousness had been put to the back of my mind but as we now approached the final stages the nervousness returned. Seeing the van from a distance gave me some re-assurance but was it still in tact !! I had no reason to have worried as ‘Big Momma’ was exactly as we had left her, no doors or windows broken and no signs of any attempt at a forced entry, inwardly I sighed a big sigh of relief. I knew that if this was to be the adventure we had anticipated then leaving ‘Big Momma’ would be something that we would have to do on a regular basis. There was no way that the only views we would have on our travels would be restricted to those that we could see from the windows of the van. I knew that we could not take everything out of the van every time we left it and I also knew that no matter how well we thought we had ‘hidden’ the ‘Valuable and Attractive’ items, any determined thieves could get in and given time would eventually discover our ‘hidey holes’, but this apprehension would be something we would have to overcome if we were to enjoy our new lives ‘on the road’.

So back at the van, walking gear removed, Shazza prepared us a quick lunch before it was Paul and ‘Bugsy’s’ turn to leave us to our own devices for an evening and a night alone. Before departing he did suggest another short walk that we could take that evening if we were up to it ! So we waved him off and suddenly we were alone in this beautiful tranquil location. Having been awake since 05:00am I was feeling quite tired and decided that a short ‘power nap’ would be in order. I awoke after an hour and with it still being only late afternoon we had a coffee and then decided to take Paul’s suggested short walk. The sunshine was still with us and it made the walk through the forest glade quite a relaxing experience. There were still one or two people emerging from their day walks and picnics but for the majority of our walk we were alone. We made our way to what was now just foundations of rock where once stood what must have been quite an impressive building, a ‘Hall’ belonging to the local landowner. We were a little disappointed that there was no information plaque which would have told us a little more about this place and why it had become to be in this derelict condition. Grass now grew where once would have been thick stone floors, the Rhodedendrum  bushes and undergrowth had encroached right up to the foundations but still somehow it held a kind of bare magnificence. We walked back to the van hand in hand and talked about how lucky we were to be here, relaxing, enjoying our surroundings and enjoying just having some real quality time together and nothing and no-one could, at that moment, take off the very big grins that we both had on our faces.

Back to reality ! part of this initial adventure before crossing the water to foreign shores was to finalise the finances but also to test out fulltime living in the van. Was everything working as it should ? Did we really know how everything worked ? had we brought everything we needed ? It was not very long before our first encounter with a ‘DIY’ necessity ! I had removed my outdoor shoes before entering the van so was wearing just my socks when I felt a wet feeling seep through them from the lounge carpet. However, when I mentioned this to Shazza she immediately informed me that she thought that she knew what had caused it ? She confessed that whilst storing kitchen essentials in the cupboard underneath the sink and drainer unit that she ‘may’ have been a little ‘robust’ in the packing of said items and may have had to move the pipework a little bit to get everything in !! After a quick inspection I discovered that her ‘move of the pipework’ had in fact meant that she had dislodged the drainage pipe from the sink outlet, so instead of ‘Grey Water’ flowing down into the waste water holding tank it had deposited itself in the cupboards, down the shelves and out the bottom of the cupboard door. Fortunately, this robust packing had only taken place as we departed the Caravan Club Site and as we had eaten in ‘Bugsy’ the previous evening there had been no requirement to do any washing up in our van. In order to conserve our precious water supply we had decided that any  pots, pans and dishes used during the day would be washed up in the evening so there had been very little water deposited down the sink other than a quick rinse of our coffee mugs. The outlet pipe was re-secured into it’s housing and secured via some trusty ‘duck’ tape so that it would not come adrift again. As luck would have it, and we all need some of that occasionally, the wet part of the carpet just happened to be situated right by one of the ‘blown air heating ducts’ so a quick blast of the heating and we had a dry carpet once again.

We ate dinner and watched as the sun went down on another wonderful day. Dusk became Night and we were all alone for our very first wild camping experience. The wind had got up to almost gale force and the noise on the roof of the van was not the sound of rain but that of leaves that were being ripped from their branches and thrown violently to the ground. Their was a noise that did not quite fit into this maelstrom of sound and it took me a while to work out what it was. On the back of the van we had two bicycles secured to a bicycle rack and protected by a ‘plastic’ cover which housed a square aluminium warning plate. The noise was a combination of flapping plastic and the tapping of the aluminium plate against the frame of the bicycle rack, once I had become familiar with the sound all I could do was trust that I had secured the plastic cover well enough, otherwise I may end up in the morning having to do a search for it amongst the branches of the trees !

Sunday 29th September – Wild Camping location to Barton via Doncaster (115 miles)

It took a little while to fall asleep with all the commotion going on outside but eventually the physical excerstion of the day combined with tiredness overcame us. When we awoke in the morning at around 07:00am there was nothing but a mere breeze blowing through the trees and all was calm again. Although in no great hurry we were aware that before heading for our next overnight stop at Barton-upon-Humber in Lincolnshire we first had to go via Shazza’s mum’s just outside Doncaster to collect the car. We were going to be parted from ‘Big Momma’  for a few days whilst she went into the Auto Trail factory to have some interior cosmetic surgery to a worktop on one of the cupboards. I was also aware that we had a very long and steep hill to climb to get out of our idyllic location. A road that was single track and few pull-in places should we meet vehicles coming in the opposite direction. I turned on the kettle and the water heater and allowed both to heat up whilst I had the customary first cigarette of the day. I made us a mug of coffee and then washed and dressed. We then proceeded to get stuck into what had become our routine individual tasks for preparing ‘Big Momma’ for travel mode. I checked to ensure that we were not minus one plastic bicycle cover and as we had no Electric hook-up to disconnect or facilities to empty the ‘Black Waste’ we were soon on our way. I had hoped that the early departure would have given us a clear run up the very long and steep hill, no such luck, damn those early morning dog walkers !! Several of the much smaller oncoming vehicles were courteous enough to pull over and let us pass but there is always one isn’t there, and it always appears to be someone who drives one of those large 4×4 jeep style monsters, the one’s that as well as having these monsters also have the large conceited attitudes that go with driving them. There was no way that this vehicle was going to pull over to let me keep up my head of steam, all 20mph of it !! so  had no option other than to put my brakes on and pull over and let it pass, either that or risk damaging ‘Big Momma’. I kept my cool, no outward expression of ‘road rage’, although the unspoken words going through my mind would be unrepeatable. Once the ‘brute’ had passed, without any attempt at a wave of acknowledgement, I pressed down on the accelerator and just heard the sickening sound of a spinning wheel and no forward traction. I prayed that the tyre had not dug itself into a deep rut, checked that there was nothing behind me, released the handbrake and slowly let ‘Big Momma’ roll backwards until the front wheel was again on the hard surface of the road. Handbrake applied, foot gently depressing the accelerator until I felt forward motion and then we were away again. This time I gave her a bit more ‘gas’ and we sailed up the hill, all 5 tonnes of her, and I had no intention of stopping again until I reached the top, fortunately we encountered only one other more ‘courteous’ driver and we both smiled and waved as we passed. ‘Snoopy’ was programmed and the route looked quite straightforward, and it would have been had it not been that the road we needed to take had been closed. There had been no Alert flagged up by ‘Snoopy’ so this closure must have just happened !! We had no option but to start driving in the opposite direction that we required until we could find a suitable place in which to safely pull our thirty-foot vehicle to one side and stop. We resorted to consulting the trusty paper ‘Road Map’ and worked out a diversionary route. Once ‘Snoopy’ had figured out that we were not going to comply with it’s repetitive requests to turn around and go in the other direction, back to the road closure, it gave up and eventually agreed to follow our ‘suggested’ route.

We had not eaten breakfast before departure and I was now feeling the need of a ‘bacon buttie’ and so suggested to Shazza that perhaps if we were to happen across one of those mobile catering vans that one often see’s in a lay-by, that we should pull in and purchase a couple of the tasty morsels. However, Shazza appears to be taking this fulltiming lark and associated budgetry constraints rather seriously and was quick to remind me that we already had our own supply of Bacon, Sausages, Eggs, Mushrooms and Baked Beans and agreed that should we find a convenient place we could stop but that she would cook me a ‘Full English’. There were no other traffic hold up’s or diversions and we sailed past several, what would have been ‘convenient locations’ and before we knew it we had arrived at Sonia’s bungalow (Shazza’s mums). But true to her word, once inside the house she did cook me the most wonderful ‘Full English’ !!

Having had no mobile signal or WiFi access for a couple of days we availed ourselves of Sonia’s generosity and used her WiFi connection to check Email’s, her electricity to re-charge our iPhones and iPads and drank several mugs of tea !! The thing with all this technology is that they keeping sending updates and then updates to the updates. We had very recently updated our iPhones and iPads with new IOS 7 software but we now had messages saying that there was an update to this. These updates took a while to download and install so we departed for our next overnight location a little later than anticipated. It seemed really strange not having Shazza sat in the ‘co-pilots’ seat, she was following behind in ‘our’ car. It was a relatively short and uneventful journey and we were soon pulling in to the small 5 van Camping & Caravanning Club, ‘Ranchers’, Certified Site. This was just what we required as it was close to the Auto Trail factory and the ‘Big Momma’ was booked to be there for 08:30am. We had a hard standing area on which to park, electric hook-up, access to fresh water and a chemical toilet disposal point all for £10. From the windows of the van we had an excellent view of the ‘Humber Estuary’ and the ‘Humber Bridge’ which, had we been staying longer we could have cycled to. The small town of Barton was a reasonable walking distance from the site and their were bus stops for local transport not far from the site entrance, so this is a very good site for longer stays if required in the future. We had dinner and with the luxury of having both an electric hook-up and a TV Signal we were able to watch some TV, strange but we had not missed not having any TV over the last couple of days. We then prepared our bags with some  clothing that we would need to take with us as well as all our technology, laptops, iPhones, iPads, Kindles and iPods and then retired to bed and enjoyed a quiet and peaceful night.

Monday 30th September – Barton to Auto Trail Factory (21 miles)

By the time we had transferred things that we were taken with us to Shazza’s mum’s from ‘Big Momma’ to the car, emptied the toilet cassette and un-hooked the electric we were running slightly later than anticipated. It was not a long trip to the factory and we we arrived at 09:00am. Mark the Service Manager met us at the van and I showed him the work top that required to be replaced. Then I showed him another couple of jobs that needed to be done, the splashguard at the side of the cooker had been damaged by a hot frying pan, this had initially only caused a small area to be affected but had got worse over the last few days. As we had already purchased the replacement material for the other work surface area, of which there was lots, and the splashguard was of the same stuff it seemed logical to get this replaced at the same time. Mark advised me that they no longer use the same material for the splashguard but now use heatproof glass and he enquired as to whether we would like to have that. My first question was “How much is that likely to cost” ? and to my surprise he told me that he would do it as ‘Goodwill’ !! I then pointed out another couple of minor jobs that I had intended to do myself when ‘on the road’ but thought I may as well ask. Mark smiled as the list of jobs had gone from one to four but he said that he would get his lads to do them whilst they had the van but he would like to keep the van for a few more days and so we have agreed to collect it on Friday morning…………..

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20 Responses to The Adventure Begins !!

  1. Steve&Lys says:

    Let’s hope its ready Fri morning !!!!!!!!! We all know it will be , don’t we ???
    PS 22 deg in Santander :0)

  2. Debs says:

    Well i am here on my Day off reading what you two are up to and feeling very Jealous lol…….. What a wonderful time your both having and what beautiful Scenery on your Wild camping.. It must be wonderful just having the time too see all these wonderful places.. I am glad its going well for you so far……..apart from Shazzas little cupboard incident…. perhaps she just wanted to wash your feet for you after your long walks lol.
    Look forward to reading more 🙂

  3. mike says:

    Wow! Life on the road eh? Have to agree about the other drivers, I get it in my van which is a bit shorter in length to The Fluffy Duster in some of the places I have to deliver! And I’m always looking ” possible wild camping spot there……or there……”
    Sounds like you’ve had a leisurely start to a leisurely retirement, and good to see Dave settling in and getting involved!
    See you Friday!

  4. Aikidoamigo says:

    Great to have spent the time together buddy.. Love to you both and safe travelling

  5. TangoGypsy says:

    Hi there you two, I’ve just found and read your blog right from the beginning! And WOW! What a good read. Well done to you both. I seem to recognise the Splat and Widdle mentioned, memories of a far off misspent youth!!! Can’t wait to get my own adventure on the road. Meanwhile …… enjoy every minute of yours!

    • Thank you, glad you are enjoying the blog. Currently hold up in Bricks and Mortar until Friday when we collect ‘Big Momma’ and can re-commence the journey. I try to publish something at least once a week so you can either keep checking in or alternatively sign up to ‘follow by Email’ and you will receive an Email whenever the blog is updated :0) I still look in at the forum occasionally just to check that the ‘boys’ are behaving themselves :0)

  6. Wandering star says:

    Nice one folks! Now you’re getting into it! Glad everything is working out fine for you! Happy travels!

  7. Mel Potter says:

    I’ve been reading your posts from the beginning and just got to here. My wife and I are on a similar journey but we’re planning to retire in July and fully hit the road in October / November. All the posts about planning and selling possessions seem eerily familiar although we haven’t got to the car boot stage yet but we have bought a ‘new to us’ 26 foot touring caravan and our current cherished VanRoyce is finishing her auction in 3 hours! I’d love to visit some of these wild camping sites you are alluding to. We are also very familiar with what I’ve always called ‘taking the poo for a walk’ too!

    • Hi Mel, I am sure you will be able to relate to many parts of the early stages of our big adventure. I am curious as to your future plans e.g. Touring locations ? Certainly doing it in Europe in a Motorhome is quite easy with all the ‘Aires’ but there are not too many that will accept caravans !! What are your plans ?

      • Mel Potter says:

        We’re initially planning for two years worth of site fees up front. First year will be in Cornwall. We love Cornwall, even though we currently live in Staffordshire and are from Stoke and the Black Country respectively originally we have been holidaying in Cornwall two or three times a year every year all the time we’ve been together (since 2000) and we got married in Penzance and held our reception in St Ives. Kim wants to see every season in Cornwall. After that who knows? There’s a lot of England, Scotland and Ireland we haven’t seen. We like the idea of France and have driven from home to the south of France but don’t really speak the language!

        We’re renting out our house so will have some income on top of our pensions but still a mortgage to pay (not old enough for state pensions yet)

        • Sounds like you have thought it all through :0) the main thing is to live your own dream the way you want to, good luck to the both of you and happy travels. If I can be of any help or just a sounding board, please feel free to get in touch :0)

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