What is ‘the dream’ ? Up until 2 years ago it was to retire, earlier than state pension age if possible, perhaps downsize to a smaller property as the kids were no longer at home and there were no grandchildren on the scene (Yet !). We could then turn short touring holidays in the Motorhome to ‘extended’ tours, have a freedom to go not just where we wanted or for as long as we wanted but more importantly ‘when’ we wanted. That was the only problem with Shazza being a teacher, holidays always had to be at the busiest and most expensive times of the year. So our dream was a simple one, retire early whilst we still had our health, tour wherever we wanted, when we wanted and for as long as we wanted with the bonus of having a nicely furnished homebase to return to between trips.
Prior to the purchase of ‘Big Momma’ we had a 2004 Swift Kontiki 665, a very nice van which I had owned from new, it would have probably lasted us throughout our retirement as with only being able to take 7 weeks annual holiday the mileage on it was pretty low. But as with all vans, unless you build your own, they are never quite perfect in one way or another and so you have to make some compromises and as long as you can tick most of the ‘Essential’ boxes on your wish list and perhaps a few of the ‘Desirable’ ones as well then you have to settle for as close to perfection as you can get. One of Shazzas ‘Desirables’, which was a box that didn’t get ticked at the time, was to have an ‘Island Bed’, space on each side with a bedside locker and somewhere to put a book and coffee mug. So it was in 2008 that we decided to look around for our ‘retirement van’, and this one would need to tick ‘all’ the boxes ‘Essential and Desirable’. We looked and looked and looked, burnt up lots of tyre rubber on road miles and wore out lots of shoe leather until we conceded that there was nothing on offer that could match anything that we already had, well at least not within our price range anyway. If they had the Island Bed then they compromised the layout or space of other areas such as the Galley or Lounge, so we decided to stay with what we had. A couple of years later we were on a local ‘bolt hole’ site for a weekend, we had walked into the local town for a look around and whilst there I had bought a couple of the popular monthly motorhome magazines to read back in the van. You know what they are like, tear off the cellophane wrapper and then a whole host of junk flyers fall out from between the pages. Well you could say that our new retirement van literally fell into my lap because amongst that pile of flyers was the new brochure from Auto Trail introducing the new ‘Frontier’ range of which there in front of our eyes was the ‘Comanche’ and it ticked every single one of our boxes, ‘Essential’ and ‘Desirable’. The rest as they say is history but how often do you spend an age looking for things with no luck and then when you are not looking you find it, there are some who may say that this was ‘fate’? they may well be right !
We started to make our retirement plans, 6 years would take me to 60 years old and I could claim my pension without penalty, with that and another pension from my military career and some savings that would provide a nice little income to enjoy our ‘extended touring’ trips. I had not really bothered with Motorhome Forums on the Internet, occasionally I would dip in and out. That was until I came across www.motorhome365.com a website and forum for ‘Fulltimers’. The terminology ‘Fulltimer’ and ‘Blog’ were never in my vocabulary, of course I knew about Romany Gypsies and New Age Travellers and not wishing to offend anyone, in my view these were not folk like myself and Shazza, you know, the stereotypical people who lived in a conventional world, leaving school at 16 years old, get a job for life, get married, buy a house, have children, spend a couple of weeks every year on the family package holiday, pay off the mortgage, retire after 50 years, do all the jobs in the mortgage free house that you never quite got around to doing when you were working, grow the tomatoes and other salad stuffs in the greenhouse, tend the lawns and flower beds, babysit the grandchildren and then………………………………………………….. the children inherit the proceeds from your 50 years of working and paying off the mortgage ?