Homeless for a Year!

 

Today is Bank Holiday Monday  28th August 2017 and it marks the first anniversary of Angie and I moving out of our lovely home closing the door and walking away from 30 years of owning a mortgage. We can’t believe that it has been a year already and that we voluntarily made ourselves homeless. Well one year on and we are still living and loving our dream although the winter and spring was a little less exciting than we were hoping for as our travels through Spain were cut short.

So how has it been?  – Well initially it was exciting and scary at the same time. Having sold up, we threw ourselves into the moment with an educated guess that we would get work somehow in the summer to pay for the winter. With that glimmer of optimism we started our first tour and headed for France. We had six amazing weeks in France (all our adventures are logged further back in this blog) and it was a superb taster of the life to come. Having travelled back to London for and induction day with the Camping and Caravaning Club we then returned to France and on to Spain expecting to spend at least Four months there.

When we were called back to do a months work in Theobalds in January for the club the “exciting and scary” became “relieved and intrigued”. Relieved that we had an income for the summer and intrigued on learning the job.

February and March saw us wandering the U.K for 7 weeks and we became “pleased and relaxed”. Pleased that we had made the right decision to return in January securing our summer placement and relaxed, touring the UK and seeing some lovely places that we had never been to before, catching up with lost and old friends and having a mini ( if you can call seven weeks mini – it’s nearly twice what most folk get all year) Holiday before we started  seven months of work.

From the end of March until now and right up to the end of October we have moved to “content and grateful” We love the job as it’s not really a job. It’s more of a way of life and we get paid to do what many people pay to do, i.e spend time in the countryside in their motorhome or caravan living life outdoors. We have an amazing pitch, a pretty garden and spend our time working, talking to and mixing with nice people who share our attitude on life and love of camping. We have made new friends, some of whome are holiday site assistants and managers and others who are campers on the site. We have had more trips away for weekends since doing this job than we ever had in the last 10 years or so put together, and we have seen parts of the U.K that were previously a mystery to us. What’s more without the trappings of mortgages and household bills etc we save more money each month than we have ever done when we lived on BIG salaries but also had big outgoings and this is despite us now being on the minimum wage. We have money in the bank so now, for the first time in 30 plus years if we want something we buy it, where as before we had to really think hard and either save up or put it on tick. We need to keep in mind that we will want to eventually settle down when we are too decrepit to continue as we are, so we keep a check on what we buy. As there are no trappings of “better this or newer that” for the home to consider we find that there is very little that we want now and we have already done the big purchases to get us up and running for our transient lifestyle. Things such as motorhome, awning, furniture for awning,smart car, V’Dub and drive away awning etc were all expensive but one offs that need not be repeated for a good few years to come

The summer had been kind to us with wall to wall sunshine until mid July only turning typically British for the 6 weeks of school holidays so I suppose we have been sort of  lucky it that respect and we have already booked the ferry on 8th November and 5 camp sites in southern Portugal Spain for the Winter so are itching to get away

So with all that said and done did the ” GAMBLE ” pay off?  Well for us – YES INDEEDY!  So far so good, we are loving it and with tans as proof and so far we haven’t Experienced the five month Spanish or Southern Europe winter escape! Don’t get us wrong there are still days where it’s not all rosy and we have had our challenges and upsets but even on those days its STILL BETTER! We couldn’t imagine going back to our old life where we hade less personal time, money, weekends away,  holidays, lazy mornings or afternoons sitting in the garden, sundrenched lunchtimes and a relaxed working day and a whole lot more commuting, traffic jams, pressure, long hours,targets, stress and worry.

FOR US ITS THE BEST DECISION WE EVER MADE?

As I’ve typed this I have realised that I may have come across a little bit braggy and I don’t want it to be. This life style is definitely not for everybody and we have given up a lot to do this, potentially risking a very comfortable old age but we are great believers “managed fate”  And living life for the NOW –  Life change can be amazing if you are willing to just give it a go. It would have been very easy for us to have carried on as we were but we are so glad we didn’t. So a year on and we are happy to be homeless when our home is where we park it and at the moment it looks like this.

 

….And we have memories like this…

 

Roll on November 8th when we return to France Spain and Portugal. 

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A Trip Down Memory lane

 

 

After 2 weeks where we have not gone away we needed to getaway from the site so decided to pop down to Dorset and to visit The Verwood Camping and Caravaning Club Site, the place that we did our shadowing weekend before we joined the club and the first expedition out in Catori.

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Richard and Angela the site managers had always made us feel extremely welcome and it was exactly the same this time. We instantly agreed to eat out with them and spent a lovely evening exchanging stories catching up on gossip and getting a wealth of knowledge and experience about the club from them. The next day we decided to visit the gorgeous village of Corfe Castle. We visited the castle ramparts and grounds before eating  yummy pasties and ice creams in the sunshine. A visit to stundland bay was an imperative as we used to visit the area regularly when we were courting ( wow that’s an old expression) 30 years ago. Then we braved the naturalist beach with our young firm and trim figures but this time we decided to just have a semi clad hour or so In the sun at the shell beech and I enjoyed the first swim in the sea for at least a year. The car ferry to sandbanks and Bournemouth finished the day with memories of years gone past.
On our virtual Sunday we decided to split the journey back with a stop over at Windsor mainly to try to avoid the guaranteed log jam on the M25 – it failed – but we did enjoy Windsor and the walk down the great park to the front of Windsor castle. A quick beer at the local pub and a return walk back finished the day and the virtual weekend only to end in M25 hell but we suppose that is what is expected when we reside a few hundred yards north of 12 o’clock on the M25! Maybe next year we will have a site away from motorway misery.

“The Wild West ” – Runton

 

Our “weekend” is here one again and we were able to shoot of a bit early for a two and a half hours drive to the North Norfolk coast.

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This was the area that we first ventured to for our first week away last September and was designed to get to know Catori  the Comanche and relax and unwind after the stresses of selling up and moving out.

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This time different reasons called us back. No 1 – was why not? It was within our 2.5 hr travel time distance that we had set for our weekends away and what’s more it is by the coast. No 2 – we had also selected this site as one of our five possibles for next year so we thought we should at least have a look at where we had asked to go, not that you get where you ask for mind. No 3 – Our Regional support Manager John Brown runs the site and gave us a glowing report of it and openly invited us to visit it at some point.
So here we are at the Camping and Caravaning Club site in West Runton.
Last night started well with a great little spot allowing us to soak up the last of the rays until about 8.30. Before partaking in the wine and cheese I took Molly for a quick wander. A small gate from the site takes you straight out onto the Heath with the gorse in purple cobweb like full bloom and an elevated 180 degree view over the sea, the village of West Runton and the town of Cromer. Looking down to the sea over the golf course with the villages in the background it felt like we were in North Devon. Molly loved her evening walk before settling down for the night. And WHAT A NIGHT!!!! thunderstorm after thunderstorm and lightning flashes all around however we felt safe and secure in the Dub with is rubber tyres proving one of the safest places to be in a storm.


When we woke this morning the site looked as though it had a real battering one of the shower facilities had to be closed due to standing water. It was amazing however how quickly a miserable wild morning turned into a stunner. Out came the sun and with it the heat. We decided to take the Dub into Cromer and on to Overstrand as the beach had been recommended to us. We pulled into the small car park and descended the very Steep path to the beach which was a lovely sandy beech with waves crashing onto the shore. Teenagers were jumping the white horses and a few people were sunbathing making the most of their day in the sun. The beach was only mared by the necessary sea defences that resembled the WWII coastal defences but not to deter would be invaders but to try to halt or al least slow down the massive erosion of the sandy sea cliffs. Molly swam and I paddled as I was not in swim wear and we spent a lovely hour walking the beech.


Hunger tapped on our tummies and we decided to drive along the coastal road towards Hunstanton, a route that we did on the Granny bus ( we were the only ones not using a bus pass) in September but this time we had the ability to stop off and see all the things that passed by the windows of the bus back then. First stop a pub. The Dun Cow at Salthouse looked lovely with a great beer garden overlooking the sea but the menu was a bit posh for a lunch time snack with a price tag to match and as we only wanted a snack we decided to just have a drink and elected to venture on in search of another watering hole.

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Passing through a couple of hamlets and one that lay claim to having the winner of the Norfolk Pub of the year for 2016 (which we only saw on the return drive back to the site) we headed relentlessly towards Hunstanton and a diversion off of the road made me look down a side road to see The Kings Arms banner displayed in all its glory. We decided to explore turned the Dub round and stumbled on a quayside of summer activity. A quick Crab baguette for me and tuna sandwich for Angie plus a bowl  of chips on the side put a stop to the hunger and we walked down to the quayside of Blakeney to investigate why it was so popular.
Swarms of children huddled by the water with line and bait and a bucket of salt water filled with differing levels of crabs desperately trying to claw their way out. Small pleasure boats putted past and canoe and dinghy alike were being rowed with gusto. Coloured bunting was strung between the lampposts and a car par that sloped to the gravel beach side was crammed with cars. People were walking in every direction and the queues for the ice cream shop was five deep. We too joined the throngs just milling about in the sun and it was very pleasant and relaxing. Apart from the picturesque location we did not know why it was so busy but it certainly had a feel good factor and some pretty massive flood markings up the walls. The most recent and nearly the highest was in 2014 and a good 8ft above the road we stood on.


We returned back to the campsite and said a thank you to John and his wife for the invite.  Would we like to work on this site in 2018?  – yes we think so, a great site full of holiday makers in a nice spot with some amazing walks and scenery around. On Thursday we return to Theobalds but before we do that we needed to enjoy our last day away.

Now I’m not a Steam freak by any means but as the weather looked inclement we decided that we would drive to Sheringham and take the North Norfolk line to Holt for a spot of lunch and then back again. A very very slow diesel took us to our destination only to find that the station was 1.5 miles from the town centre. We were in shorts and t shirts as expected the town to be ‘AT’ the station. We missed the bus by a minute so decided to walk. It started to rain en-route and we were very pleased to find a pub just as we got to the town. After a late lunch we had a quick but damp look around the town before jumping on the bus back to the station and a steam train ride back to the Dub. The sun came out and very pleasant it was too. I have made a decision though-  that the station is the best part of the experience. The actual train ride could be on any train. It did however while away an afternoon and rounded off our visit to the North Norfolk coast.

Sizzling in St Neots.

We are in the delightfull riverside site and town of St Neots in Huntingdonshire (I didn’t even realise there was such a shire) Angie has not seen her cousin,Auntie and Uncle for 15 years and one of the delights of this transient lifestyle we lead is being able to be closer to people that we haven’t seen for a while get in touch to say hello and catch up. We had a greed to meet them for lunch on the Wednesday.
The first bit of catching up however was needed with Andy and Lorraine who were at the site in Verwood where we did our work experience to see if the job would fit us and Vica verca.
We got on we’ll then and have kept in touch via Facebook. They are now the holiday site assistants at St Neots and their Managers Simon and Keith are a great couple of guys who could not have made us more welcome.
The site is stunning as its right on the banks of the the river with pleasure craft and canal boats going past plus loads of waterfowl to keep you fascinated for hours. The facilities are, as always spotlessly clean but now very dated however the site is due for a major refit this winter with new roads and toilet/shower blocks planned so next year it should be amazing In every way.

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A riverside path runs through the site and in one direction there is a lock, weir and gorgeous waterside pub ( formerly a mill) in the other St Neots town with more lovely waterside pubs and parks. All of them are less than a mile walk and we partook in a few beverages from both.

Wednesday lunch was spent with the long lost rellies and after a false start at a recommended but not too good pub (no garden for the dogs) we ended up a the Old mill and spent a lovely couple of hours catching up on old times and walking along the canal side path and over the weir and lock. Molly swam at least six times to keep cool. After enough chatting to keep the girls happily ensconced in memory lane Good byes were said along with a vow to not leave it as long next time and we headed back to the site for some sun cheese and biscuits finally retiring indoors at 9pm to watch one of my favourite tv personalities Joanna Lumley extolling the sites and customs of India.

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Thursday we wandered into St Neots town centre, the Market and treated ourselves to a second lunch out in as many days. A very hot walk ( with the essential Molly swim) back to the site and Dub meant that a cold Doombar beer for me and G&T over ice for Angie was definitely in order. We needed to pack up and head back later so just the one Beer was allowed but we delight in the little allowances made for fellow assistants i.e no 12pm vacate pitch rule.

Two full days and two nights in stunning weather and on one of The nicest sites we have seen so far on the circuit. Definitely one for a return visit. As for the little drive away awning well it’s not perfect but it does the job. A bugger to saddle up to easily and get the position exactly right but then again things don’t have to be perfect to be good do they!

Gorgeous Graffham or otherwise known as “The Marmite site”

Monty Python said “And now for something completely different” and Love it or Loathe it, the camping and Caravaning club site at Graffham is completely different from any camping, Caravaning, tenting or holiday site I have ever been on and that is a lot.

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Personally we loved it. Definitely not for those who like soaking up the sun or who want a manicured plot with perfect grass, raked handstand and top of the range toilet facilities and definitely not easy for pushchair or wheelchair access but it is stunning camping at its most rural. 100 secluded individual plots for anything from a tent to the largest of caravans or motorhome are hidden away in a sun dappled and leaf covered woodland with twisty gravel roads creating a maze like feel surrounding a large wooded roundel hill and it’s easy to get lost. You feel that you have walked out of the site and are in the middle of the woods and up pops another plot with a caravan tucked away in it. Grass is not on the agenda and the peaty sandy soil does get everywhere but you really feel that you are truly camping as you should. The spotlessly clean and slightly dated toilet and shower blocks are warm and inviting despite needing to have a refit.

The Managers Sean and Mandy and the HSA’s were very welcoming and have really added their own touch with funky signs and personality everywhere you look and it’s a site that we will definitely go back to at some point.

We didn’t however just go to visit the site, Angie had always wanted to go to the stunning West Wittering beech if we ever got a V- Dub. Well now we have one so TICK – done. Angie text her previous work friend Karen who also has Wednesday off and she joined us on the grass just back from the sandy beach. On went the BBQ and burgers plus hot dogs were served up pretty pronto. A long windy walk along the sandy beach to work of the calories meant that Molly was able to run around like a banchie and as she loves to swim in the sea she was in her element. Thelate afternoon and evening allowed us to catch up with my Mum and Dad and spent the time educating them on the delights of Take away curry which was one of the best we have had for a while.

Thursday – we decided to pay a quick visit to Petworth which apart from lot and lots of antique shops a few tea rooms didn’t have much to offer unless you wished to visit the house and grounds that we had previously done a few years ago so we decided that one was enough and we made a leisurely return to Theobalds.

 

Canterbury Tales

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SATURDAY (sorry Wednesday. I keep forgetting that Wednesday is now our Saturday and Thursday is our Sunday)

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After a 1.5 hour drive we are now in Canterbury. A historical city famed for pilgrimage for over 900 years and of course the centre piece of Chaucer’s collection of 24 stories written between 1387 and 1400. The camping an Caravanning site is a cracker of a site

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with two toilet blocks 9 staff and is set over a number of separate fields and grassy enclaves separated by mature hedges and trees and is only a 1 mile downhill walk to the city centre which we decided to do today as the weather looked a bit drab.

Apart from the obvious draw of the Cathedral which (at £36 for the two of us to visit and with limitations due to Molly being with us) we decided to ignore but there is a wealth of history and bundles of interesting buildings lining the now predestined centre. I took a few snaps mindful that I did not want to replicate the Chinese tourists that constantly get in the way and photograph anything and everything.

All the big shopping names are here as well as a myriad of smaller independent and one off shops and boutiques making this city a shoppers and sight seers delight. It certainly was throbbing for a Wednesday afternoon.
We found a suitable watering hole ‘The Millers Arms’ and I enjoyed a pint of local Kent ale and there was a tonic water for Angie who was feeling especially abstinent. We had a sandwich and chips each.
A short walk along the crystal clear river with near Florissant green under water plants. Punts full of Chinese blissfully not understanding a word that the punter punting was saying glided quietly on the surface.

 

It took us to the commercial heart of Canterbury and after wandering the pretty allies and cobbled streets and still slightly disappointed that the exorbitant charge to just go in the grounds of the cathedral had precluded that part of our pilgrimage we decided to walk back (uphill all the way now!) to the site which turned out to not be as strenuous or arduous as we were expecting and certainly a lot easier than those of the historical pilgrims that walked hundreds of miles bare foot to show their devotion to everything Holly. Our devotion (or lack of it) stoped at a two mile return walk and 32 quid.
The sun was out on our return and we felt that we had thoroughly earnt a drink so with Beer and Gin to the ready I sit here happily in the sun tapping away before we decide what to eat this evening.
option 1 BBQ
option 2 Cheese and biscuits
option 3 The Tipsy option, More Beer and some peanuts!

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As for the V-dub well after the last trip away we realised that Micro living in a camper had its issues – namely that everything you need is in the cupboards that you can’t get to when you are in bed. Answer a bit of Gids DIY and the roller wardrobe now has four shelves in it and a central divider so all the clothes are not just piled on top of each other but semi organised and the kitchen area has had as a stainless steel organiser added so everything is close to hand perfect for the early morning cuppa and in my opinion I think it looks pretty dam good too – and it doesn’t even rattle on the road we have even swapped the telly for the better one in the Autotrail so some quality  viewing is in order for later.

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Now what to do tomorrow?

Sunday (Thursday)

We decided to “go find the sea” and ended up heading to a Whitstable a beach side fishing port just north of Hearn Bay.  A walk along the promenade looking at the beech huts and taking in an ice cream abateing our longing to head to the sea. After this short tonic we headed back to Theobalds for another week.

 

Scorching Cambridge ~Beer festival

Our first trip away in the V-Dub takes us to Cambridge and catching up with Jim and Judy who we worked with for a few weeks in January and who we clicked with immediately.

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They are holiday site assistants here and Steve and Dawn who interviewed us are their managers. We started with no real plans but Jim (who loves a drink) was off to the beer festival and it would have been “rude” to not go with him wouldn’t it? Unfortunately my partaking of the beer was severely restricted due to the drunken evening before with them where we sat outside their van and exchanged stories until after midnight with a whiskey bottle far to close to hand. . (How we walked the 20 meters to the dub and managed to get the rock and roll bed down and the bedding on it I do not know.)

 

Cambridge is a lovely city and we saw most of its historic colleges in glorious sunshine on foot thanks to Jim’s excellent directions (NOT) on how to join him at the festival. Google maps to the rescue and we finally joined him in the last two hours of the afternoon event. Angie and Judy wanted to partake of the GIN and real ale festival in a nearby pub. I was parched and still nursing a hangover that had been brought back to life by the last pint of real ale earlier so I awkwardly asked for a cold lager ( we were amongst the hardened real ale folks who had converged on the same pub to while away the two hour gap before the evening festival started) the barman said “lager?” three times and the pub fell quiet. We found a table, sat and had a shouted conversion over the hubub of the place for an hour or so. To finish the day – another pub on route home, two ciders over ice and a pizza for me wine and soda and burger for Angie.

Yesterday was a more gentle affair with a walk to Grantchester for a cold larger shandy and lunch in a beer garden followed by a lovely wander along the Granchester meadows and river and walk back. We really know how mix it up. A fair well BBQ was cooked by Jim and Judy and at 7.30 we headed back to Theobalds Arrington back just before 9pm. All in all a very relaxing sunny and enjoyable break. We look forward to the next where we will be even more organised. No where shall we go?

Angie & Gids get trendy?

After a four hour drive to Leeds yesterday and an even longer return trip back we have finally added a ‘v-dubber’ to our fleet of life enhancing motors.

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We were happy that if it was not right, to turn tail and return back to Theobalds empty handed but the pictures on the web and the conversation with Steve over the phone paid off and we have landed ourselves a beauty.

Here she is …

Far to trendy for a pair of old gits like us I’m sure.

She now sits adjacent to our compound awaiting our first days off next Wednesday and Thursday and we have yet to decide where to take her on her maiden weekend away ( we call Wednesday and Thursday our weekends). Anywhere within a few hours drive is on the possibility list and because of our location just north of London that includes a lot of central and southern England.

The trip back from Leeds was wet but uneventful until 20 miles from Theobalds when I fiddled with the windscreen wipers only to find that they just stopped working. This wasn’t very handy on the A10 with it chucking it down. Hazards on and after 5 mins poking and prodding around in the fuses, and fearing being rear ended at speed from a truck we  slowly made our way to a quieter commercial park and tested all of the fuses. Each of them was not blown. We considered waiting for the rain to stop and sleep there the night – it is a fully functional camper van after all but no loo on board and no food or sleeping bags. Not the best way to spend our first night in the van. We could leave it there and come back the next morning, but I was only driving on a third party insurance basis as the number plate needs to be changed and I was not going to risk our new purchase being stollen, so we had no other option than to pay the hugely inflated RAC premium and get a call out.

I dispatched Angie off home in the smart car saying there was no need for both of us to wait and I would follow. Two hours later the RAC man turned up to check all the fuses and agreed that they were all ok. He then checked them again with his multi meter before organising a tow only to find that there was a fault with one of them – Bingo wipers work. £145 for a fuse – not the cheapest fuse I have ever purchased.

I got home 10 minutes after Angie whos sat nav had chosen a different route and got stuck in the traffic jam from hell.

Apart from that the dub is a gem. Totally loved inside and out buy the previous owner who had a “no expense spared” attitude and who did the conversion himself over seven months with great skill and attention to detail adding extras rarely found on a standard conversion or indeed some of the factory built models. Solar panels, two leisure batteries, 60 ltr on board water tank 45 ltr on board waste water tank, lights every where, fridge, cooker, sink, heating, T.V, dab radio, Audi head lights, 20″ Range Rover alloys, air con, cruse control the list goes on. He was really sad to see it go and we were really glad to relieve him of it. Wipers aside she is a stunner.

All three of our motors now provide an extra quality to our existence, Catori the Autotrail for the life and long distance travels she alows us to do. The smart car for the ability to pop in & out any where and we tow her behind us wherever we go,and now the v-dub for giving us U.K adventures whilst we are working and a sence of weekends away. The dub also provides transit van like transportation at the end and beginning of our work seasons for us to get all our “stuff” to and from our work location and storage garage.

We wouldnt do without any of them now – oh and they all colour match (silver black and white) as if it was planned which it definitely was not.

Just need to get some chattels and sleeping bags and we are itchy to ‘go explore’.

Dub luv

Well we have given up the 9-5 life and so far are totally loving it. It’s funny how life changes as does your attitude to it. After my last mail where I said we would probably not do another post until November, we have decided to buy a cheap (ish) “Dub” otherwise known as a Volkswagen camper van.

We have settled in well to our new job, location and working lifestyle and the previous photos of our garden and awning/ conservatory show that we could settle in for six months staying where we are on our days off and relaxing in the ‘garden’. We however feel the need to escape from the site to just get away from our place of work and home for a couple of days and it will therefore allow us to visit parts of the country each week on our days off. A two hour drive each long weekend ( Tuesday 4.30 till Friday 12.30 one week and just Wednesday and Thursday the next) will give us at least two full days to explore and see the delights off the U.K.. This summer we will sample the area around us here in Hertfordshire. Next year who knows where we will be based, Scotland Cornwall, The Lake District or anywhere else in the country! What we do know is that we have a stunning county and we need to see as much of it as we can while we can and a camper van will give us that ability. It will also allow us to travel to see friends and family without the need for a two way trip on the same day. We will now post our travel adventures in the U.K too now which I hope will be enjoyed by all but especially our overseas followers. So our fleet of two  vehicles becomes three and we will soon add a funky new dub to the clan.

Its been a big decision to spend quite a chunk of our savings but with the money from the sale of the house sitting in the bank earning us exactly 0%  per year and not enough to buy another U.K home and our plans for a future home at least 15 years away we have decided to invest in “life” yet again rather than keep it safely tucked away in a bank. We hope that the enjoyment that we get will out way the loss in security. We think however that it is the best way that we can become 12 month travelers who need to earn a wage for six or seven of those months to pay for it. We loved our Caravaning weekends years ago so what’s not to love in a Dub.

After hours of searching the websites and a few inspections we think that we have now found the best available in our budget and set off on a three hour drive to Leeds today to check this one out. Wish us luck.

What a difference a year makes.

So it’s the 6th April 2017. Why is that important ? Well exactly one year ago today we decided to change our lifestyle and to recognise our first anniversary of that life changing decision I thought I should sum up how it’s been. The ups and downs, the good and bad bits, warts and all. So here goes….

Firstly the bad bits and what we miss.

Well surprisingly very little but sometimes it’s the small things that count. The Convenience having a washing machine on tap 24/7, water that just comes out of the tap without having to fill it up every three days, a W.C that doesn’t need emptying every other day, the ability to leave things messy, our garden, our house. Angie misses ‘home’, Would any of the above change our decision. Not a jot!

More importantly our family, our friends and our son. Because of our forced absence we probably make more of an effort to catch up and see everyone when we return back to our home area. They also make an effort to come and see us. When we meet there is a real interest in catching up with each other’s news and a small sadness that it will be another few months until we see them again but in a way this actually makes the friendship stronger. My dancing friends make a real fuss of me on my return after two or three months away and all of this makes us feel loved valued and missed.

We also strangely sort of miss the routine of the 9-5 where you don’t have to think what day of the week it is or what you should do that day because it is already pre planned for you wether you like it or not (most of the times not). We have yet to complete a tour of duty for the club so are expecting this feeling to dissipate. We certainly do not miss the traffic jams or the daily commute the alarm clock or the daily grind. Neither of us miss work in the slightest but do miss our work colleagues although still see most of them when we can.

Selling the house was the biggest decision to make but one that needed to be done to make this happen. We were and still are nervous about being off of the property ladder but it is also quite liberating. No bills, no maintenance, no upkeep and all of our free time (which is a lot at the moment) is our free time. Having now met so many unconventional people that have also given up homeownership to live a free lifestyle we realise that you don’t necessarily need bricks and mortar even in your old age and there are so many other options open to us than having to own a house or flat albeit that may still be an option. We were unaware of just how many thousands of people live in caravans or a motorhome all year with no intention of ever buying another property and are so fit and healthy because of it.

Ryan- Probably our biggest concern. We effectively forced his hand and made him move out into a position where he now has to devote half his salary to the art of living.  He is 21 and six months on, he is a better young man for it. We support him emotionally and help out financially when needed. In all honesty if we had carried on the way we were he would still be living at home drinking his salary away down the pub and relying on his mum and dad for basically everything and probably be doing that for the next five years. As it is he is now renting a two bedroom house which he calls home has a steady girlfriend who stays with him some nights a cat called Kier and a much more responsible outlook on life. We have seen him flourish in his new responsibilities and so far so good. Would he want to move back to his old life – Nope!

So on to the good bits

Well firstly it’s 2.37pm on a Thursday afternoon. Normally I would be sitting in the office with another four and a half hours to go before I leave to go home and I would get home at about 7.30pm. Instead I sit here doing the last edit to this blog post in full sunshine wearing nothing else than a pair of jean shorts and topping up the tan. Enough said?

What we have done. There is no denying that if we had carried on with our old life since September when we picked up Catori the motorhome we would have done nothing much other than work, have Christmas to excess and may now have been looking forward to a weeks holiday in the next month or so. What we have actually done is

Purchase and collect Catori the motorhome.

Uk Tour in  Catori – Verwood, Oxford, North Norfolk, Fareham, Bosham, found carefree (which we now feel is home).

Buy Smart Car

Set off for our first tour in France:-Pevensey, Dover U.K, Calais, Le Crotoy, Le Manns, Orléans, Château de Chambord, ChâteauDe Villandry, La Rochelle, La Tremblade, Les Mathes, Meschers-sur-Gironde, Bordeaux, Bizet-sur-Baïse, Condom, Midi-Pyrénés, Gruissan, La Grande-Motte Languedoc, Nîmes, Pont-du-Gard, Claremont-Ferrand, Thiepval memorial and back to Calais.

Came back to U.K  Chertsey, (for induction day) Lincoln,(tow bar and tow car fitted) Fareham.

Set off for Spain:- Portsmouth, Caen, Mouzillon, Montguyon, Castebon Pyrénéés, Zaragoza Spain, Benicarló, Peñíscola, Vinaròs, Pineda de Mar Catalonia, Castillion, Donzenac, Mont-Saint-Michel, Caen.

Came back to U.K for a month working in Theobalds Park.

Mini U.K Tour :-Kingsbury water park Birmingham, for N.E.C to buy awning. Cotswolds, Broadway, Chipping Campden, Burford and the Slaughters, Bibury, Bouton-on-the-water, Morton-in-marsh, Stow-on-the-wold, Castle Combe, Devises, Kennet and Avon Canal, Tavistock, Dartmoor National Park and finally back to Fareham (Carefree) before starting our first seven months at Theobalds park.

Slightly more interesting than the 9-5? Yep. What we have seen is parts of the UK that we had previously not seen and we have not even scratched the surface of UK touring! As for Europe well although we feel that we have seen a lot it we have not. To provide an analogy what we have done so far is not even as much as getting the screwdriver out of the tool box to take the lid off of the first tin of paint to start painting the forth road bridge. A Minuscule amount of traveling and so much more to see.

After being given 5 days to get set up mostly in the sun wearing shorts and a sports vest. The van is set up in its dog escape-proofed compound. Molly now has the run of the van the awning and the compound and grass under her feet. She is loving it. We have a sunny spot with a relatively private corner for our bistro table and chairs for breakfasts lunch and evening meals in the sun and  and a fourty hour a week contract for 30 weeks which by my calculations should give us enough savings throughout the summer to pay for five months of play time in the Spanish sunshine or similar.

I walk or run Molly most mornings and evenings along the new river and in the distance I can see the M25 and A10 which are gridlocked, I listen to the radio and the reports of the M27 junction 9 being slow or closed due to an accident and I truly feel very lucky that we have decided to change how we live life. Although we have seven months of ‘work’ ahead of us, mowing the grass on a tractor in shorts and t’ shirt in the sun , helping people on to their pitch or booking a weeks stay for a holiday maker over the phone isn’t actually work is it?

I am acutely aware that not everyone is as fortunate as we are to be able to make a huge change like this but I am also conscious that we nearly didn’t because it is/ was a risk we are aware that there are many many people who absolutely could do something similar but are not brave enough to do so. If you are one of those who may be reading this ….

LIFE IS NOT ABOUT THE NUMBER OF BREATHS THAT YOU TAKE IT IS ABOUT THE NUMBER OF TIMES THAT YOUR BREATH IS TAKEN AWAY.

GO CONFIDENTLY IN THE DIRECTION OF YOUR DREAMS. LIVE THE LIFE YOU HAVE IMAGINED!

The easiest decision to make is to not make a decision!

Would we go back? – NO – 100% NO. 

Would we encourage others to do something similar if they could and willing to take the gamble ?  100% YES!

We have so many photos and memories but here are just a few that give a snap shot of our last six months.

As for the next seven months? Well if our first 10 days of work returning to the site are anything to go on we are going to love it. It is so relaxed, we wake with the sun and if we are on five days of lates have a leisurely breakfast in the awning or in our garden as we don’t start till 12.30 and finish at 6pm with an hour for lunch. We remain on duty till 8pm but from the enjoyable surroundings of our sunny garden with a cup of tea in hand.The next week is five days of Earlies with a quick toilet check at 7am and then effectively 9- 4.30 with an hour for lunch. We have Wednesday and Thursdays off each week.

We move a few vans, mow some grass, do a bit of office work and if on earlies a toilet clean, chat to the guests and generally do our best to make the site as pleasant and friendly as possible –  job Done!

As this blog is to follow our travels and how we have been able to change our lives – (definitely for the better! ) there will not be too much to post over the next seven months so there will be very few posts.  We never can tell however, so if you wish to follow us without needing to keep checking our blog click on the ‘follow us’ tab at the bottom of this page and you will be e-mailed every time we do a post ( which may not be till October). But for now we will be signing off and we hope to catch up with you all again as we escape the cold of the British winter to see another small slice of Europe. If you wish to contact us then you can do by leaving a comment or e-mailing us direct.

Have a great summer everyone

Gids & Angie