Monday to Wednesday

Monday

After  a night of very heavy rain, Monday arrived with more of the same. It was teeming down. Not a great day to go and look at a motorhome. 

When we arrived at Twigworth, Andy had the van under cover in a barn for us and had it running and heating up. Not that you’d know, the engine was very quiet. Things were looking a little dim as the leisure batteries were on their last legs – Andy said that new ones were being procured at that very moment.

It is a nice looking vehicle, very smart indeed. Not in your face as Hank is; far more discreet in fact. It’s a van-type, with rear opening doors. It has Driver and  Front Passenger doors and a Rear Passenger door too. That’s… five doors. Hope they don’t turn out to be draughty.

Good stuff: 

  • One previous owner from new, good maintenance record.
  • Lovely worktop area, with sliding cover for the gas burners that extends for use when cooking.
  • Additional worktop space under the counter top
  • Lots of warm materials used, with loads of squishy insulation
  • Comfortable leather front seats
  • TWO grab handles on the passenger side!
  • Being a van, there’s a proper rear view for the driver
  • Lighter, shorter in height and length and also narrower than Hank – we can go more places with greater ease
  • More than twice as many mpg
  • Two fresh water tanks, one internal for safe use in the winter. 
  • Internal water tank fitted with filter for drinking use.

Less good stuff:

  • Two wardrobes fewer than the current complement
  • Far less external storage
  • Far less internal storage
  • Smaller ‘fridge, with tiny ice box
  • Rather tight showering arrangements
  • Smaller tanks for fresh, grey and black water, smaller domestic LPG tank – all add up to shorter periods in the wild.
  • Sofa bed made from rear bench seat is more of a jigsaw than we might wish
  • No gas oven
  • Combi oven is very small

It was with very few misgivings that we agreed the deal and I find myself more excited than anything else. I like the van’s womb-like qualities and am looking forward to being cosy. I can imagine myself curled up on the bed area on an evening with a good book and a glass of wine. It is also exciting to think of being able to go out “wild” at whim. I am even sanguine at the knowledge that we shall need to shop more frequently – at least we can take the vehicle out to the shops if needed! 

We shall need a new mindset but I am confident that we shall take the changes in our stride.

Andy has six vans to prep so was unable to say when we can pick up the new vehicle. We have booked further nights at Briarfields though may have to go elsewhere on Friday due to a weekend caravan rally moving in and filling up the site.

Tuesday

Mr Snail caught a bus to town and brought home some vacuum storage bags. I meanwhile did the laundry. Later we braved the continuing rain, grabbed some of the retirement vouchers and went to TGI Friday’s… a new experience for us.  

Wednesday

We saw the sun today – hurrah! Spent all morning emptying lockers, evaluating Stuff and sorting it into keep to use, post to homethrowaway, giveaway and charity shop piles. Discovered condensation issues in the wardrobes and took clothes across for tumble drying, congratulated selves on having made the proper choice regarding Hank.

A visit this afternoon from a friend who lives relatively locally and who very kindly took away the charity shop pile for us.

After that we went up the road to visit B&Q with further retirement vouchers in hand, coming home with ratchet straps, bungees and string!

I think we have probably gone as far as we can without having the new van at hand to evaluate the actual space available. More Stuff must go, I believe… sadly, I fear that my camera gear must be in that pile. There is a London Camera Exchange just down the road but I do not have my receipts with me, so they may not wish to take my gear. I could Courier my gear home but then I would not have a camera with me. Exchanging the DSLR and lenses for a compact mirrorless job would be the preferred option I think. I love my 6D. I will miss it if it goes.

Here we go again

We are on the road again. Tonight we are at Briarfields caravan park at Cheltenham. Sound familiar? Well that may be because we were here in the Spring, when we travelled down in brunhilde to see if we wanted to buy an RV. We went home with Hank. 

We have returned because we finally reached the decision that Hank is not the one for us. 

I shall cut a long story short but it went somewhat like this:

Oh, noooo, the slideout is broken.

Whatever shall we do? We must ask Andy at Freedom Motorhomes for advice, he is certain to have an idea who can fix it and at what cost.

Mr Snail looks up website for phone number…mentioning to Mrs Snail that there are some new vans available.

Mrs Snail takes a look at website out of simple curiosity, mentions in passing that there is a van there that she really likes to look of. 

Mr Snail said that he had seen one that he liked too. Then admitted that Hank really is too big for us.

Ensuing discussion revealed that both liked the same van.

An appointment was made, outline financial deal discussed and we set off on Friday afternoon.

And so you find us here, back in Cheltenham.

Now… I know that I have yet to catch up on the trip down to Kippford. I also know that I had plans to do posts comparing Hank and  Brunhilde and posts about cooking on the road but… I’m launching straight into a brief summary of this trip, if you will forgive me.

There is not much to tell and few photographs; it has not really been a leisure trip. The original plan was to leave on Saturday morning, stop halfway down for the night and arrive here today. I gave the plan some thought and it seemed silly to sit around for a day just waiting to leave. I suggested we set off from Kippford on Friday afternoon, and  just get as far as Metal Bridge. That would leave us poised to join the M6 and get a good start on Saturday morning. The forecast was for icy roads – being 50 miles on already would allow us time to wait for the sun to come up and the ice to ease.

It was an interesting drive. The sky was stormy and dark, with heavy white snow clouds dropping their load in the distance, the whole side-lit by the sun setting in the west. Quite spectacular. At Metal bridge we parked up at the Inn, by the side of the river.  It is not an ideal spot, with the noise of heavy M6 traffic clunking over the bridge, and the West Coast main line railway on the other side  of the van. We ate at the pub. It was okay. My pudding was better than  okay though.

On Saturday morning we got off just as soon as the van was warmed up and de-misted. We were aiming to be at Chelford by around 4pm. There was heavy weather along much of the route. We hit the snow line just below Shap summit and the scene as we came over the top was pretty stunning. Stopping at Westmoreland services to raid the farm shop and stocking up there on good bread and nice cheese for lunch, which we ate whilst attempting to rejig our night’s destination, we also bought steak pie for later dinner (though have still not eaten that!) Coffee was at Forton and we arrived at the Egerton Arms a little earlier than scheduled. 144 miles.

Again, not the best stop for us – we spent the night parked beside a busy A road but there was ample compensation in the form of well-kept real ale and a wonderful dinner.

This morning we wanted to get a good start as Briarfields had asked us to arrive before 4pm. We were on the road before 9am, (and before breakfast!) meaning I had no chance to shop at the Inn’s deli, which does not open until 10 am.

Despite heavy sleet at one point and seemingly unending roadworks, we were here in time for lunch, stopping only once for coffee. 120 miles.

Breakfast never happened. We were both still full from last night’s excellent dining.

Tomorrow morning we go to see the van that we both like. I have no idea whether we shall buy it or not. There are some issues regarding storage space, which may be insufficient, and the bed, which is not a fixed one.

I’ll let you know tomorrow.

oh-oh

Images of slideout damage for Mr Snail to share

img_20161115_123659 img_20161115_123708

Delayed Service

Oh, I know. I know. I am so very much behind.  I will catch up, I promise. It’s just that since we landed, we have been busy, busy, busy. Things are beginning to ease off now and I promise I will fill in the gaps soon.

It is not simply the journey down that requires completion, I also have ideas for a few projects or themes around here that I really would like to get stuck into. One of these that I have planned is a series of posts or articles about cooking in the van; the facilities, what equipment we have, storage, and what can we actually cook in our little space. I am reminded of this particularly strongly today as we are currently trying out a boxed meal delivery service: Gousto.

We made our first Gousto meal last night and I have written it up at Woolgathering. I’ll be back here soon, to write about why we are considering such a service and why we believe it will support van life well.