Follow by Email

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The saga of the Licencia de Pesca

We have evolved a flexible routine based around shopping, cycling, swimming, washing and socialising, pretty much like back in the UK but rather warmer :) Visited some old friends in the Almafra brotherhood (and sisterhood!) for lunch on Sunday. Great to see everyone again, talk rubbish, eat and laugh just like old times.

Mr H would like to go fishing as there are Carp and Barbel in the rivers and lakes so he's on a quest to get a fishing license (licencia de pesca). There is no national fishing license in Spain and for the Costa Blanca there is a regional license but it's taking some getting. Four weeks so far with no success. Following various sources he's tried Tourist info, tackle shops, police (as apparantly there is a hefty fine if you don't have one), the port office, sailing club, several branches of the Caja Rural (building society) and the local town hall. He has spoken to a different person each time and gets conflicting advice each time. Communication is difficult as not many speak any English and Mr H's grasp of Spanish is still limited to ordering cervezas and patatas fritas. Still, he is persistent and has enlisted the help of our good neighbour big Nige and together they are determined to crack this one.

Nigel spoke to a receptionist whose cousin goes fishing and following some phone calls and to'ing and fro'ing he managed to get the right forms filled in and letters signed (as we're not residents) and the address of the right department to go to in Alicante.

http://www.gva.es/portal/page/portal/inicio/procedimientos?id_proc=681

Armed with all this Mr H and I set off on the train into the big smoke. We found streets not identified on our map and became rather lost. No fear, we visited the large hotel we had passed several times during our ever-widening circuits to ask for directions. Even when pointed in the right direction by a very nice english-speaking gentleman we managed to arrive at the building ten minutes after it closed for the day, bugger!!!!

We then got lost for another hour trying to find our way back to the train station! Thank the lord for an emergency stop at Burgerking then home again. Mr H has gritted his teeth and vowed to see this quest to it's bitter end. I feel it would be easier to acquire the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy Grail than a chuffin fishing license. Mr H and Nigel have held a strategy meeting and intend to go again next week armed with an array of forms, euros and true British grit.

On Monday Mr H and Nigel set off bright and early to Alicante by train. This time the office was open and after obtaining a ticket from the machine and a short wait they sat face to face with the guardian of the licenses!!! Handed over the forms, letter and passport and the official filled in another form in triplicate (modelo 046 SARA). So close! They then had to take these forms to the CAM bank and pay the fee. 25 euros for 3 years. Initially they got in the wrong queue at the bank but recovered swiftly and handed over the cash with the forms to be stamped. Returned to the local office and they received a 3 year licencia de pesca, result!!!!!!

We all celebrated their fruitful campaign with a house specialty and a beer back at base camp. Well done lads, so proud.
Just need to find some fish now :))

Feliz Navidad One and all XXX

Monday, 5 December 2011

Sunshine and Sprinkles

Settling down to life on the site now




it's a fair way to the beach at Guardamar but we take the occasional expedition there;



and to Elche


Have been sampling the local chinese buffet along with our neighbours which is all you can eat for 10 euros. This is no ordinary chinese buffet, you order from an extensive choice of starters and main courses and your food is freshly cooked and served in a modern restaurant by very pleasant staff. The evening evolved into a co-ordinated sampling of nearly every dish on the menu by us all and every dish was excellent.

I joined the line dancing with the fabulous instructer Angie in charge. I must say I managed to pull off some spectacular moves  but most of them bore no resemblence to what the rest of the class were doing and were performed in the opposite direction. My fellow class mates and the instructor were very tolerant and have invited me back again next week, I must be the in-house entertainment. Mr H agreed to have a go at dance lessons this week unfortunately for us it was salsa. We paid attention and diligently attempted the steps. I was trying to lead and Mr H was sweating like a bull chanting in my ear one, two, three, hip! By the end of the hour we had changed the instructions to one, two, three, dislocated me hip. Decided it's not natural to see Mr H mincing like a pro and am more than happy with his northern soul influenced shuffle on the dancefloor.

The past week has been a hive of activity in between the heavy downpours (which we understand are untypical). It's a good job Mr H applied his engineering skills to construct some wooden supports for the levelling jacks before the rain, some pitches are unusable as vehicles have sunk up to the axles. The staff here spring into co-ordinated action and arrive equipped with tow-rope, dumper/tow truck, wooden boards, rakes, sand and plenty of muscle. No lives have been lost and all vehicles sucessfully rescued and relocated.

Between the occasional spells of rain which according to the local forecast are known as 'sprinkles' we get plenty of sun and it was rather surreal to be sunbathing whilst Christmas carols were being piped over the tannoy!! We then had the swimming pool and spa to ourselves which was 'esplendido' but again surreal as music from the 'King and I' was playing in the background.


Mr H has installed an 'extend-a-stay' joint to the gas tank and had the RV certificated so we can now run our appliances off the refillable propane bottles. The gas engineer spoke no English but was very efficient and expertly produced hand drawn plans of our gas system in triplicate as per certification requirements. Mr H never ceases to suprise me in his endless pottering, today I found him prostrate under the RV with a reel of TV aerial wire and was greeted by "can you see it yet? I'm shoving it through the hole". Now I was able to ascertain that he was re-routing the TV aerial direct from the external plug but god only knows what the neighbours thought. As I write this blog he is lounging in his chair poised with his beloved fly swatter planning to suprise our resident fly. The fly does not appear threatened as it has just buzzed around the RV in slow motion then landed on the fly swatter. Mr H's killer reflexes kicked in (must be the hot blooded salsa session) and with a celebration like he scored the winning goal at Wembley the fly is no more. Life as we now know it! 

Monday, 21 November 2011

Marjal Costa Blanca

Well, we've been here a week now. The site is enormous, the largest in Europe we think and we like the amount of space generally and of our pitch in particular.




Such a treat to have brand new ultra modern facilities at hand and the option of an activities programme including archery, painting, dance classes, poker, boules, tennis, golf, walking, bike-riding, swimming and cribbage to name a few! We have agreed that the first mention of basket-weaving and we are gone. A few hiccups with the wi-fi and pool heating but the site have delivered thus far.

Because we are staying until the end of March we have a very good deal on the rates and because we're guinea pigs we currently have wi-fi, electricity and access to the spa & fitness club included gratis!!

The camp is buzzing and a continuous stream of motor homes, caravans and campers keeps Mr H busy with his self-appointed role as arrivals and departure monitor. No badge or hat required just the ability to angle your lounger, sunglasses and foot rest to the best vantage points.
  
We threw ourselves into the opening weekend celebrations by joining hundreds of people in the sunshine at an outdoor paella feast. As we waited in line (a very very long line) in typical british fashion, we chatted to fellow campers and the sites website facilitator while Mr H acquired numerous free beers for us. Many in the line arrived with an array of large receptacles for the paella including washing up bowls and huge cook pots which were duly filled by the caterers without question as we were handed ours on paper plates. Mr H managed to eat most of his but the chicken skin complete with feathers and animal vertabrae was rather off-putting for me. I must be in the minority because all seemed to relish the dish and many were heating it up the following day for lunch.


We have sampled a 3 course meal in the restaurant at 9 euros per head and it was excellent, the staff on site are numerous and friendly. Mr H has made friends with the hard-working, ever-present, ever-pleasant gent who manages the camp supermarket and they practise their language skills at every opportunity.  It has to be said that the prices in the shop are comparable to Lidl (other supermarkets are available) and the local supermarkets.

One downside to this fabulous new site is the rural location so you really need transport to get out and about. Catral is not too far to walk to and we have visited the Saturday market at Almoradi; excellent fruit, veg, cheeses, olives and leather goods and well attended by the local spanish community, always a good sign. We now have our hire car so finding our way around the local towns, villages and markets. Have been to Alicante, Elche, Crevillente and Guardamar so far. Even with the aid of a current spanish ordnance survey map we find ourselves driving around various roundabouts several times and occasionally still manage to miss our exit. Mr H says it all adds to the fun and I agree. 

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Bye Bye Benidorm

The wind and rain has been with us for a few days but the sun is now glorious. Officially the gun powder plot is not celebrated here so the locals just pick a fiesta, any fiesta will do and set off very elaborate, noisy, expensive and above all spectaclier fireworks.

Just to be sociable Mr H and I ventured to the bar for the Friday night live entertainment and beer at a euro a pint as you do! The singer was a very talented man, with a Liverpool twang, who entertained us for a good half hour before his set with, one-two one-two, ooonnneee tttwwwoo and "where's the bloody echo button Billy?" Eventually, he drove off somewhere to get his own echo gadget before singing some great songs interspersed by cheeky banter while downing a bottle of vodka, a great night by any standards.

We take the number 10 bus down to Benidorm or venture out on our bikes. Mr H maintains his cool in the manic traffic as we cycle along the N332 but I am close to tears as I dither and sweat just waiting at the lights to turn left! Benidorm is a great mixture of old and new, love the old town's movie style beach vistas, shady alleys and funky shops but have to say some of the newer parts are equally 'interesting'. 





Mr H and I bit the bullet and borrowed a car and members card to visit the ex-Pat's cash and carry. We were becoming anxious as we needed the vital supplies of Fairy wash liquid (non-bio), branston baked beans, marrowfat peas and Pukka Pies.

We cycled to Albir beach today, 24 degrees and a gentle breeze made for a lovely, chilled, sunbathing day. The sunbeds and brolly cost so much Mr H thought we had bought them and was devising a system of strapping them to his cross bar to get them back to the site. Following a jaunt across the road to a cafe bar for lunch we were nicely settled back on our sunbeds when a star of 'Benidorm' (no names but he was without his wig and roller boots) turned up on the next sunbed and proceeded to flick through his lines :)



The crowd around us here on site are brilliant, seasoned 'f**king abouters' with the same daft sense of humour, oh how we will miss them when we move out on Friday. Thanks to Noel & Sharon, Geoff & Pam, Fred & Linda, Peter & Jean, Richard & Judith for their help, afternoon tea and cakes and very good company :))

We're heading 80 miles South to a brand new site at http://www.marjalcostablanca.com/en/ for a while. They've really cracked on with this development which is opening a month ahead of schedule. Looks great but we'll see!!! Will report again soon.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Hola from Spain

We're going to http://www.campingalmafra.es/index.php near Benidorm. The English version of the web-site was unavailable so Mr H had to complete the booking by translating each section.

Thursday was a bit of a nightmare. Mr H has developed a gammy leg, we were late setting off and we took a wrong turning which delayed us even further. Eventually reached the toll roads and headed South towards Toulouse (NB the toll booths here are exceptionally tight!!). From Toulouse onwards the rain was torrential and horizontal, as darkness fell I retreated to the rear and left Mr H to it until we made it through to Perpignan (rain, dark and RV headlights are not a good combination). We managed to find an Aire for the night at Collieure and took a well-earned rest.


By Friday the weather had improved so we made an early start and travelled across the border into Spain, breathing in whilst looking down into deep ravines (Ice Road Trucker style). Followed the main Toll roads down the Mediterranean Coast which were busy due to it being a holiday weekend and allowing an hours break for lunch we had a relatively trouble-free journey down to Benidorm. Once there we entertained ourselves by driving up and down the main road for an hour or so looking for the camp site!


We eventually found it and negotiated camp reception protocols before heading for our pitch in the dark. This was were things picked up considerably thanks to a cheerful welcoming committee of fellow Brits who guided Mr H and our bus seamlessly onto our pitch. Nothing was too much trouble, fresh tea and sympathy was very therapeutic after the trauma of zero visibility and two scratched wing mirrors at the tolls! We were made to feel at home immediately and were able to settle in for the night. Mr H's gammy leg persists so a rest and recovery day was in order as the weather was wet although very warm.

Brilliant sunshine now and Mr H has been inducted into the 'Brotherhood of Almafra', a secret masonic order dedicated to eating out, f**king about in lockers and supporting the local economy through extensive shopping in a local chinese euro shop and the purchase of dodgy club watches;


bartering the price down from an extortionate 5 euros to 3! I have laughed till I choked at Mr H and the brotherhood's childish antics, they are like ten-year-olds let out to play.

Halloween here is a public holiday and a big festival so we have been invaded by fellow spanish campers in full costumes trick or treating. The language barrier was no problem for the children as they called upon us wearing some very elaborate costumes and make-up. Luckily we had stocked up with sweets and lollipops for all. We have settled into no particular routine here and have had the luxury of being chauffeur-driven by a fellow club member in his stunningly beautiful, one-off, mother of a Harley Davidson V10 truck



to the local supermarket and restaurants. We compare notes on how to find the freshest fruit, veg and bread and cheapest alcohol whilst planning a strategy to deter the bike-riding children from spoiling our community water feature (corner puddle!!!)  

Sorting out our TV reception and accessing the internet has involved endless cable exchanges, trips to the euro shop and committee meetings but the lads seem happy with this for some reason - it's a man thing. Mr H is once again fully mobile so we intend to explore the old town in Benidorm further as our club visit for a full Sunday dinner highlighted how lovely this area is.    

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Bargains, Boules and Byes

We've had the use of a hire car this week, a new Clio (va va voom), so we have been out and about sight-seeing and researching larger supermarches. Obtained two new pillows, been looking for the right ones for ever... result! Discovered an english food section in another supermarket complete with Marmite, Heinz baked beans and sandwich spread..... result! and Mr H bought another fly-swat as a spare... double result!!

Passed through Les Tourettes the other day and I jumped out of my skin as Mr H shouted "ARSE" (Father Ted style), not very original but very funny :))


We were invited to join the Parc Verger gang in a game of boules on a breezy but sunny Sunday afternoon. Alcohol, nibbles and a flexible interpretation of the rules set the scene for a giggle or two. Mr H and his boules partner June managed to win the championship of Parc Verger and the world as we know it. So that's the All-blacks and our champs earning the right to be a little self-chuffed! 


Places recommended and discovered this week were Limoges, St Junien (good for shopping), Rochechouart, Brantome (an attractive town on the river Dronne known as the Venice of Perigord);



St Mathieu


and Lac St Mathieu (a large lake with artificial beach, swimming, fishing and scenic walks);


and Oradour-sur-Glane, known as the martyr village (google it), a humbling experience.


France in the autum is spectacular, a riot of colour and around every corner a suprise and potential adventure I feel.


Colder evenings and an occasional frosty morning has prompted the first muttering of "weather has turned back-endish" from Mr H so we're heading south for the winter, taking our lead from the intelligent birds. We would like to bid a fond farewell to all at Parc Verger; Bob and Di are terrific hosts and we can definitely recommend their homely site. Everyone here is very friendly, helpful and welcoming, particularly David and Rita who are terrific neighbours and we can definitely recommend pitching next to them :) The tap-tapping on stone in an afternoon along with the tinkling of red wine bottles and knitting needles is accompanied by jolly banter and good humour ;)

I can see that Mr H has his strategic planning face on, that twinkle in his eye is all about locker-sorting and preparation for the open road! Bye for now.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Cidre et Cochonnailles

Sun still shining, we're finding our way around and mingling with the locals. On a recent outing into the nearby village, Mr H had a deep and meaningful conversation with one lady after which he was unsure whether he'd agreed to buy her house or meet her for dinner later!

We met up with fellow RV'ers and made it to the local bar just in time to see France beat Wales in the Rugby World Cup although they did have to survive a few scary moments, handshakes and victorious shrugs all round. 

We attended the annual Cidre (industrially squeezed apple juice) et Cochonnailles (assorted pork dishes) fete on Sunday. The cidre was dispensed in plastic cups and I have to say it was rather wonderful, no preservatives and prepared with gay abandon by a hardworking skilled gang.  If you like pork then this is the place to be! Lost count of the number of courses we tried and I'm sure every part of the pig was eventually served up. Wine, food and rather loud off-key singing provided a wonderful atmosphere and a great day was had by all.




Skyped the grand-children afterwards, lovely to see them on screen and catch up but still getting used to the time delays in conversation. The poor beloved labrador (juicy Lucy) became rather confused upon hearing our voices as we were not to be found in the room. Lucy promptly jumped up on the dining table and stared into the screen, ears pricked but none the wiser, how I miss them all but it was the dog that made me cry on this occassion!

Quiet day to recover on Monday so Mr H re-arranged his lockers yet again, the technical term for this activity is f***ing about and he is now proficient in it. Sunbathing followed by a lovely lamb casserole prepared by Annette and shared with excelllent company took us through to a stunning tri-coloured sunset to end another day. Giggles and a glass of wine or two, magic! 

Said farewell to some friends who are setting off for Portugal today. Bon Voyage Dave, Annette & Charlie in their Damon Intruder and Merv & Sandra in their Winnebago Journey DL (other RV's are available). Great hosts, great company and a good laugh :)))) Hope to meet up again in the new year.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Lost in France...

Beautiful place, autumn colours, sweet chestnuts by the lorryload and the sun is shining every afternoon. We go out 'sur les bicyclettes' every morning, alternating between Chalus one way;




and Oradour Sur Vayres the other, along a lovely old railway line that has been covered in tarmac. The route is known as the Voie Vert and is well used by locals and visitors, below is a picture of Mr H travelling through rush hour traffic. Today a machine was clearing the fallen leaves and sweet chestnut husks from the path for us, very civilised.  



On one visit to Chalus Mr H decided to post our mail through the letterbox of a bank!! This meant he had to explain what he'd done to the bank manager, retrieve them and re-post them in a mail box. He claims to have done this on purpose as he needed to practice his conversational French :))

The french air and culture have affected Mr H in many other ways. I just managed to prevent him from buying a beret and he has developed a convincing gallic shrug. He can carry our daily baguette under his arm like a pro, he closes down between 12 and 3pm for a beer and has no fear of his backside visibly bobbing up and down in the bathroom doorway when applying sun screen to his legs in continental fashion (I giggled until I cried at this antic, just love him). 

The pace of life here is much slower than the UK and we're adjusting to it well. People come and go at Parc Verger just like any other site but many have visited before, lived here for a while or have returned while travelling through France to Spain and back. Planning to hire a car soon to broaden our exploration of this lovely region of France. Bonsoir for now!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Bonjour et bienvenue...

Had a brilliant time in Brighton, what a great place, so many lovely buildings and very posh, well worth re-visiting. Caught up with some friends we met in Wolverhampton and they provided us with a fabulous dinner at their house. Much appreciated Doug and Angie :)

Made the Dover to Dunkirk ferry on time, cheap crossing but I suppose we end up paying more to travel through France. Made our way from Dunkirk to Le Mans via toll roads (50 euros !!!!) and two motorhome aires one at Le Crotoy and the second at Montbizot. Weather overcast and because it's weekend there is not a lot open but fresh croissants and pain de chocolat make up for it.

On Sunday decided to set off early, avoid the toll roads and drive 250 miles straight to http://www.parcverger.com/ near Limoges where we are staying for four weeks or so. On setting off, Mr H was told by the sat nav to "bear left", which he promptly did, much to the concern of the oncoming locals!!! Managed to recover the situation and got away with no more than a few 'gallic shrugs' but decided to veto the sat nav from now on. It works really well in the main but occassionally throws in a red herring to test us. Furious map reading (not a skill of mine) is required as a back up as no idea how much google maps usage for the full day will cost me.

Much better way to travel, able to see more of France although it does take longer and driving through some of the towns can be quite a challenge! Seen many locals during our travels today ambling along with freshly baked baguettes tucked under their arms (yes lots of patisseries open on a Sunday here).

Arrived late afternoon and what a brilliant site, nice level pitch, fully serviced, immaculate showers and toilets. Can still get satellite reception here and good wi-fi. Fresh bread delivered each morning, newly laid eggs and champagne for sale from the neighbours!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Sandy Balls - and not a beach in sight!

Have done well for weather over the past week, sunshine all the way.

Made it out of Cornwall and headed through Devon, Dorset and into Hampshire.  Couldn't resist this site http://sandyballs.co.uk/welcome completely the other end of the spectrum to last place, very commercial, full of people, kids and things to do. Apparantly Sandy Balls are sandy outcrops not a dated comedian!

Leaving for Brighton tomorrow, highly recommended site   http://www.caravanclub.co.uk/caravanclubapps/applications/uk%20sites/Site%20Details.aspx?csid=21975 then we catch the ferry at Dover on Friday.

Practicing our French phrases for this weekend, here are our top 3 which must be pronounced with a broad Yorkshire twang!

Est-il un probleme officier?
Pouvez-vous enlever votre ane de mon pare-chocs?
Descendez ma terre vous salaud!

Til' next time  peeps:)

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Farewell to Cornwall

Preparing to leave Old Karrow Farm on Friday and heading to the New Forest for a few days. In the meantime we continue to visit the local attractions. Pentire is great with a ferry crossing to Crantock beach where we have spent several days when the weather allows. 



Truro is an excellent place to visit but not sure what they've done to St Austell town centre it's a bit of a dump!

 

Fowey is very pretty and we had the best Sunday lunch ever (apart from one of mine) at the Ship Inn (seems to be a Ship Inn every place we go, along with a chippie and post office).


Weather not been great, rest of the country seems to be sunny and we've got rain most days. This chap seems to live in this phone box and someone should bleach out that bath, it's bad when even the fungus tries to escape.. tut tut!!!

 



Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A spanking good time in Cornwall

Have been in Cornwall for a week and a bit now and no major dramas! Went looking for the 'Lost gardens of Heligan' but couldn't find them so visited Mevagissey museum which was free admission, unfortunately they charged us £50 to get out lol.


Headed for the beach at Pentewan and poked around in a few pools before heading back to base to test drive our new recliners. They worked very well so piloted them on local beaches.


Par beach was next, one lady I spoke to described it as the 'most industrialised beach in Cornwall' but free parking, good access, nice sand, plenty of room. I must have an honest face as while relaxing in the sun behind the windscreen I was approached by a dog walker who asked me to look after his shoes while he went down to the water! His dog promptly peed on the windscreen before running off leaving a cloud of sand just for us. Two seriously attired for trekking ladies also walked right through our marked out claim to the beach within inches of my recliner and climbed the rocks behind up to the top. They appeared unconcerned about the sand and dried seaweed landing on us below. Despite a rapid incoming tide Mr H practised his casting skills and catching some very tricky seaweed in the lovely evening sun and warm winds.... magic.


Fistral beach was great but a tad windy (hence the windbreak), full of surfers and dog walkers although plenty of room. The activities of the lifeguard and various surfing schools on the beach provide some insight into how popular surfing is here. Many people arrived after their working day and could be seen changing from office suits into wet suits in the car park. We continue to support the local community by paying inflated prices for parking, coffee and light meals, Mr H diligently compares the vastly differing price he is charged for his favorite chewing gum. Most expensive so far is 90p for one packet, he nearly fainted at the checkout.  

Monday, 12 September 2011

And they're off........

Managed to get away from Wolverhampton, was starting to turn in to a re-run of 'The Prisoner' :) Last few days were spent 'snagging' the new RV and transferring our belongings over, the guys at Signature were very tolerant of our endless questions and some late electrical pimping, a girl needs to have the kettle and toaster plugged in just the the right spot.  Loved the old RV and left her sparkling clean and fresh for her new owners but this one is something else!



Made our way to http://www.bwml.co.uk/marinas/bath_marina_and_caravan_park/facilities#3
for one night. Nice quiet site next to the river Avon with lots of trees and people, quite a novelty after two weeks of forecourt life. Travelled down to Cornwall the next day, sat nav went a bit wappy so ended up going in a circle on the M5 at Exeter services but on the positive side managed to find a Tesco garage to fill up with petrol.

After a long journey we arrived late at http://www.oldkerrowfarmholidaypark.co.uk/ the approach road was a bit tight but we made it to the RV pitches at the rear. It's a good job we've got levelling jacks as our pitch is a bit steep! Beautiful surroundings, facilities are a bit 'tired' although we've got the site to ourselves and I guess it is the end of the season. We are surrounded by wildlife here, manic rabbits, a mummy and baby deer were grazing just in front of our RV yesterday, the first jays we've ever seen and Mr H believes he was attacked by an eagle while biking out of the site!

We're withstanding the wind and rain well (very snug) and when the sun does appear it is still very warm.  We have once again re-organised the lockers and internal storage, this is now a recognised ritual of ours when changing location. Planning the collection of our hire car has been problematic due to the limitations of public transport and when we asked for the car to be delivered to us the computer said "naaaaa!".  I'm sure it would be easier to buy a rocket launcher or illegal substances. However, we plan to collect it tomorrow with the help of a rather fabulous relative who has re-organised his working day to drive us there. We intend to visit the beaches and countryside of Cornwall come what may even if this means donning Winter gear.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Forecourt squatting.......

So here we are camped out on the forecourt sorting endless paperwork and specification details while all around us RV's and their owners come and go. We are more than happy in our gulfstream, she keeps us warm and copes with an erratic water supply and the construction of emergency washing lines on her outside mirrors after the staff have gone home.



We diligently abide by the unspoken rule that nightwear is never to be worn in communal areas. We try to keep a low profile by making trips into town, going for a swim and steam, hiding in the bus and never using the forecourt bathroom facilities while the lads are working. We apply the British stiff upper lip approach to our current situation and the mantra that every problem is an opportunity in work clothes! (and to think I was known for this phrase in my working days, bullshit really but entertaining bullshit).  

We've sampled all the modes of transport available to us; bikes, taxis, buses, trams, a merc, a mitsubishi colt and most recently the 'van'. Mr H was negotiating the ring road when it got stuck in 3rd gear. As the air turned blue he struggled to avoid the locals and negotiate a safe passage to Sainsbury's. After stocking up with supplies we pushed the van backwards out of the parking bay (no reverse gear) and started her up in 3rd arriving back at camp safely.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Wolverhampton ... Gateway to the South

Settling down to life in a yard surrounded by RVs http://www.signaturemotorhomes.com/.

Here is a link for our new RV http://www.acemotorhome.com/overview.php ours is the graphite version with stoney island interior!

We're quite impressed with Wolverhampton so far. Ventured into the city centre yesterday where everyone seems to be very amiable. Whilst waiting on a bench outside BHS Mr H made a new friend who offered to share his can of special brew with him :) Queued for ever for an egg sandwich and a nice 'kipper tie' in the M&S cafe but after the long wait we were not as disappointed as the couple in front of us when they found that the 'Dine in for 2 for £10' offer was not available!

Finding our way around, have discovered the local swimming pool where we have been granted a free 7-day pass and so are able to scrub our bits in relative comfort. About to go on a Slade trek to discover the birthplace of Noddy & co, he-he thanks Mike.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Oh bugger! We need to utilise plan B....

Well, we finally set off from York after furious locker-packing activity, having to dismantle a soaking wet gazebo, chairs and various cushions in the gentle but persistant rain. Mr H stubbornly working in his pj's refusing to shower and dress until all tasks were completed to his exacting standards. What am I doing? Well after dressing, I'm applying make-up and straightening my hair. I throw a few towels into the cupboards to stop things rattling about and smile!  We transported the soaking stuff  in the shower cubicle onboard as wet items are not permitted in the sacred lockers! Ironically, we eventually set off in glorious sunshine for Cornwall, via Wolverhampton and Bath as per plan A. Mr H determined to complete the trip in one go whereas I like to stop every hour on the hour for a fag, coffee and lavvy. We compromise and stop every hour lol.

You may recall we were calling in to Signature Motorhomes for them to investigate a 'knocking' sound in the rear wheel. As we trundled down to Wolverhampton via the A38 the 'knocking' got decidedly worse. Mr H needed reassurance at times but we arrived safely albeit noisily. The lads from Signature swarmed around the bus, bending and listening while trotting alongside as she was driven at a snail pace in the forecourt. They boarded and drove her out of the yard. I watched her bumping and rolling away with her rear mud skirt swinging, driven by someone else and I was aware of a sudden lump in my throat. On their return we were told 'it's the diff', the diagnosis delivered like a death sentence (heads shaking and the dreaded sharp intake of breath). Not sure what it is but dam sure it will be expensive and no mechanic available for 2 weeks!

As you can imagine this knocked us back a bit because we were booked in to a site in Cornwall from Saturday. We wandered aimlessly around the yard for a while mulling things over when we stumbled across a shiny new RV. Mmmm... basically, one test-drive later we decided to treat ourselves and part-exchanged our injured RV for a 29' Thor ACE! To be fair we had been considering this one for a while and 'the diff' going was the clincher. I guess problems are going to crop up along the way, shit happens as they say, just didn't expect it this early. So as we come to terms with the loss of our first RV (she has already been sold to someone in Switzerland who was sent 20 plus photos of her!) and as a mark of respect to her we try not to display the excitement and smattering of smugness we feel about our brand spanking new RV complete with slide-out and electric awning in which we can travel with confidence.

Following some negotiations, handshakes and instructions re pitching in the yard Mr H and I retire to the local pub for a meal and a beer. We discuss the bizarre and at times stressfull events of our day, checking we have done the right thing for us both and laughing at the series of events, ending up agreeing that men are from mars and women are most definately from venus! We diligently plan/list all the phone calls/emails we need to action in the morning to re arrange our booked pitches, hire car and expectant relatives! What a day, followed by very little sleep I relive the highs and lows, it beats working for living any day.  

So a few coppers lighter we're now taking an unanticipated break in sunny Wolverhampton for a couple of weeks. The guys at Signature have been great, letting us pitch up in their yard in the old RV whilst the new one is prepared and everyone else has been very accommodating re postponing our arrangements. Update to follow :)

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Ablutions and day trips..........

We continue to say our farewells to family and friends but I think the time to move on is fast approaching. Why you may ask? Well, Mr H and I are starting to develop some bizarre habits and routines. Let's get this over with and talk bodily functions. Showering is best done by stealth under cover of darkness, avoiding the minor obstacles of ducks, low level shrubbery, the pond on the left and the ground works for the new shower block on the right. Like many motor home owners we have agreed our toilet is for decoration purposes only (we have discussed and agreed an emergency policy but hope never to implement this) so we use the communal facilities which are cleaned each morning by a most pleasant young chap who wears his headphones at all times and greets you with a cheery "g'day".  Timing is of the essence as there are only 2 gender-specific cubicles available for the whole site, so we try and avoid the cleaner and peak times by adopting a rigorous monitoring schedule of our fellow campers. However, this poses a significant challenge as the buggers keep leaving to be replaced by others on site every few days.

You may find this hard to believe but occasionally we need a diversion from this absorbing pastime so sometimes we don lycra leggings, fluorescent jackets and coordinating helmets to bike into town or if we feel like being tourists we take the bus and join the throng enjoying the local attractions, coffee shops and of course a pub or two. 

Within the RV, Mr H and I have slipped into a form of telepathic manoeuvring to avoid collisions and acknowledge rights of way rather like the wonderful breakfast routine of Morecambe and Wise, utilising low voltage appliances of course.

So the car goes to the dealers on Tuesday and we're on our way Thursday!!!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Au revoirs and moonlight manoeuvres ....

So we continue to prepare mentally and physically for our big adventure when we leave our pitch and head south to Cornwall in two weeks time. This will be the furthest we've travelled away from family and friends so I'll feel we've actually started, a tiny bit scared but excited as well. Yesterday I found myself saying "no dramas" just like the advert to my eldest daughter as we hugged. I choked back the tears as did she and we will hug again when we visit at Christmas. So how does Mr H cope on our return to the RV at 9'ish on a clear moonlight night? No deep and meaningful exploration of emotions here just the construction of a gazebo with perfect angles and optimal guy-rope tension to boot. We light the candles and sit under the canopy to admire his handiwork when we are visited by a charming couple from Newcastle returning from the pub who were very keen to hear of our plans and suggested a couple places to stay in France. However we can't remember either of these so if by chance they remember our blog address can they please remind us? :)

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The transition to full timers continues....

I am convinced (hints of paranoia) that everyone on this site thinks we are nutters and look upon us as the odd couple to be avoided at all cost. So why do I think this, maybe it's because this morning Mr H eagerly collects his fishing gear from various lockers and vacates the RV while I clean the inside of the bus, happily shake the mats, peg out washing (yes I have a rotary washing line) and vacuum the interior while all around us chill, chat and sit watching me do my chores. Mr H and I witness the comings and goings of all manner of people who are here for a few days holiday whereas we are ensconced on our semi-permanent pitch with our windbreak and wheel covers proudly in place! I have now become accustomed to people stopping outside to stare at the RV and us eating at our dining table when they walk their dog. I can only presume it is in admiration as one such person said to Mr H this morning " It's smashing that, ai'nt it lovely" and I received a comment of "I am so jealous" as I sat outside enjoying the late evening sun. So on reflection I feel that I need to stand back occasionally, appreciate our beautiful bus and stop worrying about how we look to others. Some of the best features of our new lifestyle are about enjoying each day as it comes and embracing the culture we find ourselves in.

Monday, 1 August 2011

A new chapter

We've gone and done it. House and possessions (at least most of them) sold! It's scary letting go of years worth of stuff, 23 pairs of shoes, endless clothes that don't fit or see the light of day and several tons of cutlery! If we don't wear it or use it, it goes. Surprising how we hang on to things that gather dust. Mr H summed it up perfectly as I became tearful in the mayhem of emptying our home of loved possessions, quote " the only thing that really matters in this house is you". So 30+ boxes given to family and the RV getting the cream of the crop, we're done. 

We are pitched on a site near York. http://www.yorkcaravanpark.com/ adults only, temporary showers (although they are good) and on-site fishing. I have managed to clean the RV roof, god knows what our fellow campers thought as I climbed onto the roof in swimwear with Mr H up his stepladders, topless with hosepipe ready to spray off the foam and me! I have become more at ease in the 'suicide seat', that's the one on the right in the cabin who's role is to look right and say "clear now GO GO GO" then "NO NO NO" when the nutters wearing hats while driving come out of nowhere straight towards me. I am duty rattle adjustment coordinator and Mr H has developed a new set of habits over the past few months including repetitive locker sorting, windbreak and gazebo erection to order (subject to wind conditions) and drainage pipe adjustment.

Spending time with family and friends now before we embark on the next phase of our journey.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

The story so far......

OK.... setting the scene is harder than I thought but the starting place has to be why we are doing this. We all have dreams, some achievable and some not. 'We' being Mr H and I. We met and married whilst young, became young grandparents and have been fortunate enough to retire at an early age. We have always taken bold decisions, shit or bust but always having a plan B. We have designed and built a beautiful home whilst working full-time, studying at university and supporting each other, family and friends through life's trials, joys and grief, so this should be a walk in the park. Life throws you a curve ball sometimes and the catalyst for our adventure was experiencing the loss of both a loved parent and a life long close friend before he could enjoy his retirement. The caricature on my profile is a piece of art work created by this friend to mark the retirement of Mr H's father in the 80's. The word peregrination was the last crossword puzzle answer Mr H senior was able to complete with Mr H, it means a long journey and it is very poignant and personal to us. For many years we had thought about travelling through Europe in a motor home when the time was right and now seems as good a time as any. So we are selling our cherished home and possessions and have convinced ourselves we are not leaving family and friends but are just travelling about for a few years.

In November 2010 we found, bought and fell in love with our 15 year old American RV. 33 feet of left-hand drive loveliness.







We stored it through the worst winter in decades but when the snow melted we found the inside was soaked meaning the roof needed replacing and as we were going to be living in it for some time we bit the bullet and decided to have it pimped! In February we had our first overnight stay on board at http://www.marstoncaravanpark.co.uk/ before we delivered her (note the love developing, it has become her) to Signature Motorhomes in Wolverhampton the American RV specialists  to be overhauled inside and out. Bear in mind that Mr H had never driven such a large vehicle before and it was a very windy day, we bounced and rocked along the motorway much to the delight of fellow travellers! We'll call it a sphincter-twitching episode. The next morning we lost our way and at one point in our yelling I was evicted from the RV in a lay-by while Mr H found a route to the workshop. We eventually arrived and left her in Signature's capable hands with a long list of things to be done, picking her up again in April after parting with a hefty wad.

Later that month we had our first three night stay at Ripley Caravan park http://www.ripleycaravanpark.com/ in our pimped and buffed RV. The family visited us to see our RV for the first time and were deployed to help sort the satellite, hook-up and drainage. City water and black/grey waste were still mysteries to us. The site was full of play-areas, children and ducks, but we were far to busy repeatedly sorting storage lockers, trying to remember not to put toilet roll down the toilet (fluids only permitted) and checking the plumbing to sit outside in the sun on this trip, we felt like the virgin RV'rs we were.

In May we visited a posh site in Lincolnshire http://www.donamottparks.com/lakeside-park.aspx for three nights as more seasoned RV'rs. We enjoyed some cycling, fishing, swimming and even went in the steam room, very acceptable!

Our next trip in June was our first RV rally at Belvoir Castle http://www.belvoircastle.com/, beautiful surroundings but no electric hook up or drainage here. However, well-seasoned RV'rs are not fazed by this so I was brave and used the communal toilets and showers with a weak smile and never sat down without covering the whole toilet seat with alcohol gel and tissues. The first two days were not too bad then thousands of people descended on the rally and the toilet and shower blocks would not have looked out of place at Glastonbury. All the waste was on view behind the facilities as too many people were using the disposal units without replacing the covers. Why do children find shit floating in a neon blue effluence so fascinating? As much as I love Mr H and want to throw myself into this venture wholeheartedly the volume of people, rain, and experiencing an ice cold shower that turned my lips and the air blue meant we came home a day early, disappointed but by no means defeated. For a girl used to space, molton brown products and privacy this was a step too far for me. We came to realise we are more than happy on our own in our wonderful RV just pratting about moving things around and organising who has right of way inside the bus!.