Monday, 25 November 2013

Then the fun began - or did it?

THEN THE FUN BEGAN – along with our new life.   
2.30pm - Jan the Van was now packed full to the gunnels – having emptied all our worldly belongings into him all the cupboards were jam packed with supplies – for some reason we seem to have stocked up on 800 poo bags.  Now I know that the  dog is a real sausage maker but 800?  We will find shops on our travels you know.

Jan hadn’t been anywhere for about 4 weeks so it was hope against hope that he would start. No worries he has an emergency start off the leisure batteries if he’s not playing. 

So positioned in the driver’s seat I turned the key and after a bit of a cough and a splutter – eureka -  he fired into action.  Now the sound of a 6.8litre V10 engine starting up is a sound to behold.

Then I had to manoeuver getting off the drive – and the last thing you want to do is to crunch the van just as you are beginning your new adventure - we did that once with Vanessa just as we were leaving for a 2 week holiday.  It was raining and very overcast so getting darker and very difficult to see in the mirrors and so they needed to be wiped. 

Then just as I was pulling away……………….  WAIT – came the cry from Mr A Right. What’s wrong I cried - I had already checked that we were not still hooked up -  to find that  the step had not retracted.
1.       I wouldn’t have much space to get through the gates.

2.       You can’t drive around with the step out –it’s a real hazard - we had to do something.

Well what we used to do with Vanessa when the step got stuck was to give it a good kick!!!! So with a lot of brute force Mr Right connected boot on step and …………………….. nothing, not a twitch.  A few more tries and …………….. still nothing.

Time was getting on – the darkness was soon to be upon us and it was still raining. Funnily enough Mr Right always seems to be the one outside when it's raining.

Then we tried the internal lights and they didn’t work either – a sudden realisation dawned – the leisure batteries were flat and must be dud because we’d been on hookup.  

Thank goodness:-
1.       We weren’t planning to go wild camping tonight
2.       We were having the van serviced tomorrow
3.       It happened now and not in 4 weeks time.

Mr Right, who might be a pen-pusher but is actually quite practical, scratched his head and then decided to put the generator on – now that’s something that we don’t do very often.  So again a bit of a cough and a splutter and the generator kicked into life. At least that gave us enough power to retract the step and get on our way.  Phew!!!!! All was not lost and we didn't have to find somewhere local to stay for the night.

Just over an hour later we arrived at Briarfields campsite and “hooked up”.

As we sat down we both looked at each other and said “Well we’ve done it now!!!!” We thought of cracking open a bottle of Champagne that we had brought with us to celebrate the first night of our new lives and then suddenly realised that that might be a bit dangerous as we’d just shaken it up for 60 miles.
So we settled on a bottle of red wine instead.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

We've really gone and done it now!!!

I’ve been quiet recently as everything has been happening soooo fast that  I didn’t have time to spend “playing” with the computer (as Mr A Right says) – and it’s been a bit of an emotional roller coaster.

Our tenants were staying in a hotel and were keen to get in as soon as possible.  The complication was that we had already planned a week’s visiting and had the van booked in for a service in Cheltenham on 21st.  There was no point in asking our tenants to wait another two weeks to move in when we were going to be away for a week anyway, so we decided to bite the bullet and get out by Wednesday, which was only one week after the lease was signed. The problem was that I had said all along that I needed (and was ready to get out) two weeks after the lease was signed.

On Monday, “L” (I’m not going to publish names here) our new tenant came to call.  She hadn’t actually seen the house before so it wasn’t surprising that she couldn’t wait until Wednesday.  I opened the back door to her (everyone comes to the back door) and said “Welcome to your new home” and at that point I almost burst into tears (and I’m feeling very teary again just writing this).

I did manage to hold it together (just) and after the two and sixpenny tour, we sat chatting for a while. 
I was glad and relieved to see that she liked the house and that “D” had chosen well for her – just as well as he’d already signed up.

The house still looked like a bomb had hit it.  I was trying to migrate everything to the kitchen so we were “gathering”.  At least there wasn’t much left in any cupboards now but with only two days to go I was getting a bit stressed – eek.

Always being the stubborn one and insisting that “I can manage” I finally realised that it was time to call on some help.  So Tuesday afternoon, Caroline came over and started dusting and cleaning windows.  Then Marie and Ruby arrived and started on the hoovering. By 6pm we had done all of upstairs (except bathrooms) and just the dining room and kitchen left to do.   Thank you to Marie and Ruby for your help.

Then we were off to Danny and Caroline (a different Caroline) for some dinner , for which we were very grateful at not having to cook.  Thank you so much Danny and Caroline – something that we didn’t have to worry about.

Iain in the meantime had become ruthless – everything was being thrown away!!!!! Oh no – that’s enough to get me into panic mode.  The worst thing was that I actually went to the bin to throw some stuff away and was shocked to see something that was already in there.  I really had to work hard to resist the temptation to recover it from the bin and instead just resolve to throw it away anyway.  He’d emptied so many jars that the recycling was already nearly full.

In Iain’s clearing he had filled up the food recycling bin and being helpful I went out to empty it.  As I poured the contents of the bag into the bin (you can’t actually put the plastic into it), I disappeared into a cloud of dust consisting of curry and chilli powder.  We must have the most mouth-watering food recycling bin in the world.

So Wednesday morning came – early for me – I got out of bed at 3 am and started to clean the kitchen.  I opened one of the cupboards and horror of horrors – it hadn’t been cleared – so I had to do that – no!!!! More throwing away.

After a couple of hours I had to go back to bed and get a bit more sleep so that I would be able to get through the day.

By 8.30 I had started again.  Caroline, bless her turned up around 9.30 and cleaned the bathrooms for me and then started on the rest of downstairs.  We still had a pile of “stuff” in the kitchen and this was getting down to the nitty gritty now.

L arrived at about 11.00 for the handover and we still had loads to do. Luckily L was going to do some shopping anyway so she headed off to Tesco and the Ricoh and that bought me another couple of hours ---------------------------------------  no still not enough – I was trying to convince myself  that “We’re getting there” but there still didn’t seem much change in the kitchen and now it was 1.30.

Caroline kept on cleaning around my panicking and Iain returned from work to chivvy me up.
I took L around the house (in the vague hope that when I got back to the kitchen it would be all cleaned up) and then found that it was now 2.15 and we really needed to be away by 3.00 at the very latest as I didn’t want to drive the van in the dark.

L, bless her after putting her shopping in the fridge, firmly ensconced herself in the lounge and kept out of our way.

With a last push, we basically dumped everything left in the studio (for sorting later) and a load of stuff in my handbag and departed in a great hurry, leaving L to get unpacked and enjoy her new home. Another thank you here, to L for her great patience for the delay. Our apologies also to D and L for filling up all your bins before you have even moved in.

Did I cry - absolutely not - I was totally knackered and didn't have time to think about being emotional at leaving my lovely house and going of into the sunset - well the rain clouds - in a home that was actually smaller than my bedroom in the house.

THEN THE FUN BEGAN - well it should have  – along with our new life.              

Friday, 15 November 2013

Only 5 more sleeps to go!!!!

Just like the kids in school, we're now counting things in number of sleeps - a bit like they always know how many sleeps until Christmas but don't know how many days.

It's all happening a bit fast for me!!! 5 more sleeps to go and the house still looks like a bomb has hit it.  Mr A Right keeps saying that I'll get there but I'm not so sure. 

A bit of a result, our tenant is returning to England after several years working abroad as so we're letting it furnished and in fact almost completely equipped.  So we haven't had to clear everything out. 

I love my house and I have loved living here in the house and also in Fillongley so although I do want to go off into the sunset in a stonking great motorhome it will be with some considerable regret, not to mention stress. I've never been emotionally attached to a house before but this one I'm struggling with.  We both feel privileged to have been able to live in such a piece of history - it's now over 400 years old and is a prominent feature in the centre of the village. We have been planning this for 7 years and although we always knew we were going to move on, we have become quite settled in the village - not to mention the 7 extra years of tat that we have accumulated.

Every year we have said to the family - "Come to us this Christmas - this might be our last Christmas in this house" and we have had a fairly large and consistent family gathering.  It did make me laugh when we told some family members that we were finally off on our travels that they actually said "What are we going to do at Christmas?"

Getting back to moving  - we had already planned to go away next week to visit Mr Right's children and as our tenant wanted the house immediately we decided that we would pack everything up and get out sooner rather than later. A week away would have just pushed the date out further and our tenant was eager to move.

By next Wednesday evening we will be in Cheltenham at Briarfields Campsite (a well used and loved campsite) and we will have our van serviced on the Thursday at Motorhome Medics while we take the car and go to Cheddar to visit Mr Right's son. So Jan the Van will be having his bits checked over ready for our big adventure down South.

We're then back a week later as Mr Right still has the onerous duty of going to work until 20th December and we're eyeing up campsites near to where we currently live.  Luckily as we are moving out very quickly our tenant has agreed that we can keep the studio for a couple more weeks so that I can get all the tat cherished possessions shifted when we come back. My brother and his girlfriend have had the pick of our stuff and I must say the best stuff which we could sell, but we haven't seen any promised dosh yet and neither have they collected much.  I'm going to have to chivvy them up a bit and if they don't get their act together then their "stuff" will be going out to the car booters. So for now its sort out - what's staying, what's going with us, what's going in to storage and what's tat.

Yesterday I was going through all my "toys" (which is what Mr Right calls all my crafting stuff) to decide what was coming with us as I'm terrified that I'm going to get bored. Not only when we finally go south, but also in the three weeks that we will be camping locally while Mr Right goes off to work. I selected a couple of "pretty" boxes and decided that my "toys" have to fit in there, once they are full then if I want anything else, something will have to be removed.  I've also got a box for haberdashery items such as needles, cottons, elastic, a few fabric pieces, Velcro (both stitch on and stick on) and some very useful parachute cord - well I said "you never know when you need a strong piece of cord, I can make a dog lead out of that if necessary" - but I can't class these things as "toys" these are essentials of course.  The surprising thing though is that I haven't yet managed to fill my two boxes - does that mean that I can take yet another hobby with me?

Actually yes, I've decided that I'm going to become a domestic goddess when we leave and I'm going to bake cakes and decorate them. It must be cheaper than buying and will give me something to do.  I have never been much of a one for baking but I have heard a rumour that you can knock up a pretty good sponge in a Remoska. I did have a go the other day at fairy cakes and they were a complete failure, they didn't even get iced but were eaten almost immediately - unfortunately mainly by me though - but hey, Rome wasn't built in a day. I've decided that if I'm going to take up a new hobby then at least if it's edible then we won't have a lot of tat gathering around the van - I can eat all the evidence!!!!!!  Think there's potential for me to make a lot of mess though and I'm sure there will be a lot of icing sugar around.

Every time I take anything out to Jan I do make the effort to put it away and not just leave it in a pile to sort out later.  This is to make sure that when the day comes I don't find that there is no space for all our stuff.  Actually although our van doesn't have much in the way of "big" storage areas there is quite a bit of space in it.  What I am concerned about is all the tins and jars in the kitchen cupboards, it seems a shame to throw away food and I'm wondering if there's a food bank around.  Mr Right did point out that we didn't need to carry very much as that tin of emergency Corned Beef had indeed already been to France - three times and Germany twice.

We also must have forgotten how much there is to do when you move, just with the change of address and stuff - it seems to be a never-ending list. 

One shock we had this week though - I contacted our motorhome insurers and advised them that we would be Full Timing and they advised us that it was an EXTRA £300 for just 60 days until our policy ran out.  WHAT!!!!! I exclaimed. Then she advised that it will be about £1,900 a year to insure the van.

We were expecting about £1,000 so that's blown our budget just a bit, it's almost double.  HOW CAN THIS BE?  When are these insurance companies going to get real to the idea of Full-timing. Just because we want to sleep in our motorhome every night, they believe it is at more risk than being parked on our drive (empty)  and they hike up our insurance from £750 per year to £1,900.  Where is the sense in that? I suppose they just sting you because they are jealous that they have to work when we can "swan" about all over Europe!! I suppose when you put it like that I do feel sorry for them.

Anyone recommend a cheaper insurance company? This is through Aviva.

Friday, 8 November 2013

I don't like to count my chickens .... but .....

Well I've been a bit quiet for a while - in my last post I said that we had a viewing on Thursday - when was that, over two weeks ago now?  Anyway the guy didn't turn up so that was a bit of a damp squib.

So nothing since then and then yesterday we had another viewing!!!!!!  Well as I said, I don't like to count my chickens.... but ..... he's made an offer and wants the house immediately -eeekkkk. We haven't actually agreed the price yet but we're not too far away.  Now I've really got to get to grips with the fact that we are actually giving up our house and moving into our motorhome.

I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed in the hope that this time it happens and the lease actually gets signed - but that's where we were last time. 

So I don't know whether the anxiety is excitement that we might be moving or fear that we might not.  But anyway I know that the more time I've got to do something the longer it takes so I may just have 10 days to finish clearing the house and getting rid of everything - that should focus the mind.

Well I'd better get on with it then - I'll be back later.