Saturday, 31 May 2008

Plans afoot

Today is a new day, we have plans afoot.

After discussion over the last few days we realise that we have way too many vehicles and possessions to be truly mobile which as fulltimers is our ultimate aim. As we have not moved very far in the last year we have built up on everything and it is just too much. So, as a starting point for operation ‘new life’ we have decided to slim down.

Within the next couple of months we will be selling all of our vehicles and half of our leisure toys, eek!

This month we have decided to start with the 1971 Beetle that we have owned and loved for about 10 years (very tough decision), my Kawasaki ZX 656 motorbike, our 2 inflatable stupidly expensive Sevylor kayaks, 7’ 2” mini mal surfboard and the Sony PSP. A Smart car will then be purchased, allowing us to sell our 1999 BMW and then Yamaha Tieo’s, 125 cc scooter.

Does this sound decisive? I hope so!

I am currently monitoring the flight arrivals at Sydney airport … friends land in Sydney in 2 hours 18 minutes with over 26 hours travel behind them. New life beckons ......

Friday, 30 May 2008

Sad today.

That is it, they have gone.

Went to say good bye this morning before work and just wept for the following hour. I am not entirely sure why, I mean, they are happy, healthy, heading for a new life so I should be wishing them well (and I did). I just cannot help being sad though. I will miss them dreadfully. Does this make me selfish?

On another note. Managed to flood the van yesterday. Shower drain failed. First the shower would not empty then I noticed a trail of water heading for the front footwell - about 6 feet from the bathroom. This meant travelling under the bathroom, under the battery charger, under the fresh water tank, under the fuse box, under the drivers seat and engine battery before finally arriving at its destination.

I bailed the shower out with an espresso cup (only thing small enough to fit into the grooves at the edge of the shower tray - took ages) and then stuck towels down and went to work. Sod it, decided it would wait till the weekend, I have had enough this week ... I feel a wee bit down. :(

Monday, 26 May 2008

Plans going awry and emigrating friends

I don't like planning. I am more of a take it as it comes and fly by the seat of my pants kind of person. Whenever I do make plans they always seem to go awry.

This weekend we had several plans.

1 Remove lots of crap from the garage
2 Recover photographs from storage
3 Have lunch at the local pub with friends who are emigrating to Australia this week (sob!)
4 Have lunch cooked for me by another friend who I haven't seen in over a month and am missing dreadfully
5 Go see British Superbikes at Donington
6 Relax

Aims achieved - I found my photographs and the pub lunch turned into a whole afternoon/evening session.

Everything else has gone by the by due to the usual lousy British weather and washing machine mechanics. Mam's washing machine has finally given up and I have been hunting for another likely suspect to take over the chinese laundry duties on a temporary basis :) I had a generous offer from a friend at work but she is about to become the youngest grandma on the block (any second now) and turning up with a laundry bag just didn't seem appropriate during childbirth!

We nearly made BSB at Donington but when we woke up this morning, the strong winds and dark skies gave us second thoughts. The racing very likely went ahead but the enjoyment goes out of watching when you have an ice-cream headache from the wind and you are trying to keep your brolly the right way out!

I think that the overriding thought for me this weekend has been that there is something horrible about counting down to saying goodbye to your best friends. Going from seeing them 2/3 times a week to seeing them once a year if we go out for a holiday is going to be hard. They have been constant fixtures in my life for nearly 20 years. Ok, it will be great to visit and we can combine it with a visit to New Zealand to visit our other friend who emigrated 3 years ago but it is hard to say goodbye with only skype to look forward to!

I think this has given me more pause for thought than anything else that has happened recently. I now realise that we need to make a loose plan for our future rather than just drifting as we have been. Currently we are working towards getting an RV, this involves having a house for a few months whilst we sell our current van and import a Safari Trek from the USA but what do we want to be doing in 5 years? Travelling, working, have a house, have a motorhome, be in this country, emigrate, have own business?

We don't know ... it feels like a huge blank canvas with an undefined point in the distance that we are hurtling towards ... clarity is definitely required .... along with a bit of sunshine! :)

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Getting happy clappy in London :(

I need to grumble.

I work for a company whose head office is in London. Twice a year they send out an employee survey and then hound you for a couple of months to fill it in. From the last survey they appear to have decided that we are an unsatisfied bunch and have 'invited' (not actually allowed to refuse the invite!) us to participate in a 'team building' exercise. The last one coincided with a change in bonus allocation - no wonder everyone was peeved.

At our Christmas do, a restaurant was hired in London, a seating plan was arranged so that no one actually sat with anyone they knew, liked, or would ever see again (except at enforced do's like this) - just to ensure you felt really comfortable. Nothing like eating a christmas dinner with 9 strangers whilst stone cold sober to start your christmas with a bang.

This new team building exercise involves all the regional staff travelling to a London venue (240 mile round trip from our office) to hang with the London staff, having lunch and then being forced to particpate in tasks for the remainer of the day - it is going to be painful.

When watching the London staff interact with each other it all appears rather 'stepford' ... strained happy faces and an odd sort of desperation in the air. Throw in the regional office staff who are altogether more laid back and completely pissed at having to travel so far for this and it just becomes plain horrendous.

I just can't wait to sing 'kum by ya' around the boardroom table with people I have absolutely no dealings with and who just happen to work for the same company.

To cap it off, today I found out that this part of the event does not finish till 5.30pm - great. Not only am I going against my will, I have to travel during rush hour and won't get home till 7.30pm which is well into my own time as I usually finish work at 4.30pm. If I want to stay for the optional part of the event (bowling) I will be lucky to be home by midnight - woo hoo - not.

Whatever happened to paintballing as a team exercise? At least you got to shoot people you didn't like.

Friday, 16 May 2008

The bathroom is back :)

Result .... the shower is back where it should be. :)

Last friday Mr P came home grinning from ear to ear with the shower tray wedged in the back of the car. If you have ever been without a bathroom for over a month you will understand the excitement of that moment.

Shower tray mark II is truly an object of beauty ... no holes (except the plugholes) no cracks, no scale, no yellowing and it is so smooth. A lot tougher than the old one too. This is made of fibreglass whereas the old one was like a thick plastic type material. Ok, i'll stop now, I am well aware how odd this may sound to those not shower deprived!

On saturday, the excitement was no less but the enthusiasm for installing it waned a little as the thermometer in the van crept up to 28 degrees. It was not a job to be tackled on a rare day of british sunshine. So we chilled and lapped up the rays ... maƱana, maƱana being the general consensus.

Unfortunately this cunning plan was ruined when sunday dawned hot and sunny too - damn and blast! There was nothing else for it but to knuckle down and get on with the installation.

First we set about emptying the bathroom. We had to take one of the fuses out to remove power to the thetford and turn off the water so we could remove the sink. The sink was originally duck taped to the window sill but it fell down so many times in the middle of the night that in the end we just stuck it upright in the middle of the floor and danced around it when we needed a wee!

It took quite a while to get the shower tray in place as we don't think it was designed to be removed once in situ. The reach on the waste pipes was so short that the tray had to be virtually in place to get the jubilee clips onto the waste hoses and plug holes.

Luckily Mr P managed to reach in through the thetford door to connect one of the plugs or we would have been really schtuck!

It was just after this point that things started going a little wrong.

As we lowered the shower tray into position, there was a loud crack as the shower plug snapped underneath - 4 years of continuous use had made it brittle.

A swift dash to the local caravan shop ensued and the last 2 remaining plugs they had in stock were purchased. The floor was raised again, new plugs inserted, sink plumbed in, thetford installed and rewired then we realised that the shower drain pipe and the sink drain pipe were the wrong way round and the pipe would not reach the underside of the sink - arrrrgghhhh!

The last hours work was undone again, pipes were swapped and it was all put back together again. This time all was good!

The shower walls were installed, all screwed back into place then that was it for the night. We had started early afternoon and it was now about 8pm ... and felt like midnight.

Monday evening saw the beginning of the sealing, tuesday evening saw more sealing, wednesday evening would have been first shower but the stench of the sealant and tiredness proved too much and it was delayed till thursday morning.

The verdict .. bliss .... absolute bliss .... :)

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Feels like summer

It has been a beautiful bank holiday weekend with 4 very warm days of sunshine, we couldn't have asked for better weather.

The motorhome really comes into its own in the summer. The windows are thrown open and everything gets aired, the porch awning gets put away and the fiamma awning gets wound out. Relaxing chairs are exposed to the sun and everything seems to slow down a pace. Unlike the winter when we batten down the hatches and hibernate.

We had our first bbq of the year yesterday, it was only a wee disposable jobbie but it tasted and smelt wonderful. Just can't beat corn on the cob from the barbie ... mmmmmm. I was considering breaking out the cadac grill for the rest of the week but I need to get a new gas bottle for it before I make the effort to dig it out of storage under the floor in the garage.

Tonight we are having a onepot dinner of pinachelty (absolutely no idea how to spell it!). It is known as onepot as it only takes onepot to cook it in. We have a whole range of these recipes as cooking on a 3 ring hob makes it necessary! Pinachelty is like a corned beef stew and I have seen loads of different versions of it on the internet but my version just involves throwing all the spare veg and potatoes you have in a pot with a stock cube and some boiling water - cut them up quite small to cook quicker and save gas. Simmer till soft, and add a small can of lean corned beef - broken into small pieces - and some marrowfat processed peas. Leave this to simmer for a few minutes then add a wee bit of gravy powder and stir in for another couple of minutes. Ta - daaa .. tastes lovely. Ok, it is not summery food but it sure is easy!

Thursday, 1 May 2008

The week has flown by ..

Ooops, I nearly neglected the blog again, one week in and I almost stopped posting. It is funny how time seems to slip by.

Saturday was really busy. We went to collect the Bug - guy didn't show. NOT HAPPY! Then went to the motorhome show for a few hours. Isn't it funny how much crap they sell at these shows. By crap I mean non-motorhome related items. Items that wouldn't even fit in a motorhome. Who takes garden ornaments on holiday or water features?

We were after bits for the van like roof vents, window catches, cooker grommets etc. We couldn't find many stalls selling this type of thing and the odd ones there were didn't have the bits we needed. We came away having bought a 'dinner in a yorkshire pud' and an ice cream, oh and some shoelaces. Cheap day really :) This could be a good business opportunity for someone though, have a motorhome replacement parts related stall at a motorhome show - now why hasn't someone thought of that before?

Anyway, did see a couple of Safari Trek RV's that we are interested in and have got a general idea of trade in values for our van versus selling it privately. Either way, it is happening this summer, we need more space now that Reef is on board. After 4 years, it is probably about time too. Not sure what we'll do with more space, probably get separation anxiety and start living in the bathroom to be closer to each other ... ha ha.

Talking of bathrooms, we still do not have one. Should be this weekend though. I'm really bored of the 14 mile round trip just to have a wash. If it was warm I would just stand under the hosepipe.

Anyway, back to saturday. We also spent some time trying to find people from the www.motorhomefacts.com and www.motorhomefun.co.uk forums although many were actually looking round the show when we popped round. (Security wouldn't let me back in when I tried later in the day - my name wasn't down so I wasn't getting in!) We had a long chat with Artona and had a viewing of his new RV - so much more space, it has given us incentive to get everything sorted with our current van and just go for it. We can't wait to get ours now. Artona has a daily blog on www.fulltiming.co.uk.

Sunday does not warrant a mention, I didn't get up till the evening due to an excess of birthday celebrations at a wedding party the night before. I haven't felt that ill in years and that is all I am going to say on the subject! The Brides dress was stunning though - handmade locally by Susannah Ross - check out her website if you are considering getting married and are in the market for a one off.

We finally managed to get the Bug back on monday, with a knock down price of £532 - which although not cheap is still £400 less than we were originally quoted. We were fierce. Glad that is over, it is always a worry when things like that are hanging over you.

The rest of the week has gone by in a haze. Working, working and more working. Happily, I now have tomorrow off .... unfortunately I am going to spend half of it in the xray dept of the local hospital. I have tremors in my right hand and they are going to xray my neck to check it out. Go figure!

Roll on the weekend, the weather prediction for Saturday is getting better every time I look. We may even get the hammock out in between showers. :)