We should know better by now shouldn’t we ? meteorology is not a ‘exact Science’, as the forecasters keep telling us, especially every time they get it wrong !! So we have decided to return to the good old-fashioned system of each morning looking out of the windows so then we can make our own mind up on what we are going to do that day !
On Saturday morning, whilst conducting the ‘routine’ morning ritual, I observed this strange orange looking ball slowly rising in the sky from an Easterly direction. Could this be that rare UK phenomenon known as ‘sunshine‘ ? Although it was still relatively early, this orange ball was radiating a very pleasant level of warmth. Isn’t it amazing how good just a little bit of sunshine can make you feel, especially when accompanied with a larger proportion of blue sky to white cloud ? Today would also see the return of another phenomenon, the ‘Shazza Expedition’ !!
With ‘Nene Park’ on the doorstep it was not hard to guess where we would be going on our expeditions whilst we were here ! However, there was certainly no rush this morning and so plenty of time to enjoy a couple off slices of bacon in between two slices of Shazza’s lovely home-made bread, well I do need to keep my stamina up for all this walking, and it wasn’t as if all those calories were not going to be more than burnt off again is it ? Although the sun was shining there was still a stiff breeze blowing so it was the full weatherproof gear again today. Even with all the protection the cold still managed to bite at my nose, my cheeks and my ears, with rosy red cheeks and a red nose I really was turning into an elf, all I needed now was my green uniform !!!!!
Nene park is vast, but it isn’t just a matter of acres of wide open green space or footpaths which lead off in all directions, enough of those to keep Shazza in Expeditions for a good few days ! No, there were also playground areas for the youngsters, wildlife hides, picnic areas, a water sports centre and just a few wood carvings………….
The end of our first Shazza Expedition, a mere stroll at just a little over five miles today !! Mind you, it was good to be back out in the fresh air and with these park facilities just on the doorstep it would be a shame not to make the most of them. We have been back in the UK for sixteen days and the weather had been miserable for the majority of that time, although I guess we should count ourselves lucky as it appears that it has been like this here since Christmas !!
It had been a pleasant day out but by late afternoon the sun was already losing any heat that it had and you could feel the temperature dropping, so back to the warmth of ‘Big Momma’. Flushed with her success with making bread loaves, Shazza now decided that she would have a go at making some Bread Rolls ! How hard can that be, A thought that I quite wisely kept to myself, but surely bread rolls are just miniature versions of a bread loaf ? But what do I know, I am only a man after all !!
As the evening turned to-night, the wind turned itself up a good few notches and was giving us a bit of a battering !! However, with the blinds closed and the electric heating on, we were nice and cosy inside and we settled down for a Saturday night in front of the TV.
We both had a bit of a restless night due to the wind, I blame it on the bacon myself !! However, when I opened the blinds I was once again greeted by lovely warm sunshine and the wind had died back down to no more than a breeze. It actually felt warmer today so it was certainly going to be another chance to get out and about. With another baking success with the bread rolls yesterday I had suggested that perhaps now Shazza could get back to making me one of her nice cakes ! She was pretty good at baking cakes but hadn’t made one for some time, there is nothing better than on an evening sitting with a nice cuppa and a slice of home-made cake. So, she asked if I had any preferences, which I didn’t, so after a quick look inside her ‘baking cupboard’ she announced that today she would make me an iced cherry & walnut cake, Mmmmmmmm !!
There was also a bit of ‘sorting’ out to be done in the van, when we initially departed on our adventures, last September, we were literally packed to the ‘gunnels’ and so when we were ‘on the road’ there was no space for things to move around or even rattle. However, after five months we have now used a large quantity of our pre-stocked supplies and there are now spaces and gaps developing in overhead cupboards and the under-seat storage lockers. It didn’t take too long to re-organise and it also gave us the opportunity to re-locate some ‘things’ to more practical locations. This is another good thing about our first ‘extended’ trip, initially we were just happy to have managed to have got everything stowed securely, but once you are living in the van for a continuous period there are some items that you need more often so ideally they need to be somewhere that is easily to hand, this is all part of the learning process and whilst advice on such matters can be provided by the more ‘experienced’ on forums, in books or blogs it really will depend on an individuals Motorhome size, layout and internal and external storage space.
Whilst Shazza got on with making ‘my’ cake I had some ‘man jobs’ to do on the van, good jobs like emptying the loo !! I also went to see the site Wardens about extending our stay, no problems, and it worked out even cheaper for these extra five nights as we got a midweek discount, this meant which that the daily cost for our accommodation stops was now under our allocated daily budget !! The weekend ralliers were also making a mass exodus, a mixture of forty Caravans and Motorhomes had arrived on Friday evening but I guess some of them have to be back at work tomorrow ! I don’t know what they did, they certainly didn’t make any noise so they must have conducted their ‘rally’ activities off site, at least the weather stayed fine for them. Even after this mass exodus on the Sunday morning, the site was still pretty well occupied with Caravans and Motorhomes of all shapes and sizes. Of course I had taken the opportunity during the last few days to practice my inter-personal skills, yes a goo old natter with some of my fellow campers. I don’t know why but I was quite surprised to discover that many were like us and ‘fulltiming’ but I was probably more ‘gobsmacked‘ to discover just how many of them actually spend ‘all’ their time in this country !! Whilst I too like ke this country, there are lots of places to see and things to do but ‘Winter’ in UK or the warmth of Southern Europe ? No contest, in my book at least, but as we always say, it’s each to their own !!
So, what did the Shazza Expeditions have in store for me ? Some of them involved travelling a little bit further than others. On one we started with a bit of walking but the main part of the journey was by train, not just any train, but on the ‘Nene Valley Railway Steam Train‘, which, if I haven’t happened to mention it before, was no more than five minutes walk from the site. What’s more, on production of ones Caravan Club Members Card we were also entitled to a 50% discount !! The train runs between ‘Peterborough‘ and ‘Wansford‘, unfortunately, whilst we could have taken it to ‘Wansford’, it was the last train of the day and so no return trip, which is a shame as that is where the ‘Railway Museum’ was located which, although I am not really a ‘train enthusiast’, would have been a pleasant way to have spent some time. Never mind, we were able to take the round trip to Peterborough. I didn’t get off that lightly though as before our ‘Steam Train’ experience Shazza informed me that we still had enough time for a walk in the park, deep joy !!
Just one of the very many questions that I had when I was still in the dreaming stage of wanting to be a Fulltimers was, what do Fulltimers do each day ? Surely they cannot be doing ‘things’ all the time ? At one point I even dared to pose the question to ‘Fulltimers’ on whether they ever got bored, I received the response “There is no such word as ‘bored‘, but there may occasionally ‘loose moments‘”. We are now actually discovering for ourselves that most days are filled with some sort of activity, sometimes though it depends on where you are and the all important ‘weather’. Whilst in Spain and Portugal we did spend much of our time sightseeing, playing in the surf on lots of different beaches and ‘occasionally’ we were confined to barracks due to inclement weather as contrary to popular misconception it does rain in Spain (and Portugal). However, in the relatively short time that we have been back in the UK we have had lots of ‘stuff’ to keep us busy, not just the ‘Caravan Club’ business but some ‘Admin’ as well. It is only now that we have got some of the ‘priority’ jobs completed that we can now find the time for more leisurely pursuits. It should be said though, that much like living within conventional ‘Bricks and Mortar’ there are still the ‘routine’ domestic tasks to be done, keeping the van clean, inside and out, laundry, shopping, preparing and cooking meals, pot washing, emptying and filling on-board task etc. but thankfully these just become part of the daily or weekly routines and unlike trying to maintain our former four-bedroom house with three separate bits of garden and an additional two cars to wash, the Motorhome domestics do not take as long to complete !!
We do try to get out for a walk and a bit of fresh air each day, and as I have said previously, there are just so many different footpaths to take, a riverside walk along the ‘River Nene’ where I enjoyed looking at some of the Narrowboats moored up for Winter, a walk across the River Bridge and alongside the local Golf Course, a walk through ‘Bluebell Wood’ or just the numerous intertwining footpaths around the two large lakes. We also have to do the ‘grocery’ runs and we have a choice of at least three separate locations, a forty-minute bus ride into Peterborough or either a local ‘Londis’ mini-market or local ‘Tesco Express’ both of which are a pleasant fifteen minute walk away. Whilst we spend all of our time together and enjoy being in each other’s company we do also have our own independent hobbies or interests. Shazza enjoys surfing the net or reading cookbooks to find different things to make either as ‘main meals’ or recipes for baking, she reads quite a lot and although we both have ‘Kindles’ she also still likes to read ‘real’ physical books, we both have iPads and she enjoys playing some of the ‘puzzle’ type games on hers, we also both have iPods and enjoy listening to music, Shazza also enjoys watching TV when it is available and she is now also teaching herself ‘French’ and ‘Spanish’.
I of course have this blog which I can combine with my other interest ‘photography’, I really enjoy my music and so whilst Shazza watches her TV programmes I will put on my headphones and listen to a wide variety of musical ‘genres’. I am not an ‘avid’ book reader but I will occasionally use my ‘Kindle’ or even my ‘iPad’ to read ‘non-fiction’ like Fulltime Liveaboards on Barges and Narrowboats, I still read Motorhoming Blogs and Narrowboating Blogs, I manage all our Financial accounts and I am teaching myself ‘German’ and ‘Italian’. I would like to learn how to fish, freshwater and Coastal, but I need to get onto a site with fishing lakes so that I can spend some time with a few ‘anglers’ and get some advice and tips before I, ‘splash out’ (nearly funny that one !), on purchasing the essential fishing gear and licence(s). So, lots of things to keep us occupied already and a few more things under consideration. The important thing with this type of ‘lifestyle’ is that you can choose to do as much or as little as you want. And just as a footnote, there has always got to be an element of planning to be conducted, where are going to travel to ? what campsites/CL/CS/Wildcamping are available (within budget and with appropriate facilities including Hardstanding in soggy weather) ? Not all are ‘Open All Year’. Whilst ‘Diesel’ is not an issue, here or in Europe, LPG may need a little more planning !! In my personal opinion it is a lot easier, and more economical, to fulltime in Europe than it is in the UK but it really does depend on each individual’s circumstances.
The ‘Adventure’ continues………………………..