Leaving Pocklington quite early as we had a long way to go, we set off for Cheltenham. Mr Snail had decided to eschew the fast roads and to go via the Foss Way. It proved not to be the relatively straight and easy road of his memory and the going was slow.
There was little time to stop and rest and no time for cameras. It was, plainly put, a bit of a slog.
Briarfields, the camp site where we had booked in to is right on the edge of Cheltenham. The GPS sent us through the town. In evening rush hour. It was not a great experience. We were rather later in our arrival than we had anticipated.
As we hit the roundabout just by our destination, we spotted an RV at the junction to our right. Mr Snail was very excited - "Oh, look, an RV!" he exclaimed. "I think it is ours," I replied. And it was.
Briarfields turned out to be a very pleasant site and surprisingly busy for the time of year. We had some concern about being so close to such busy roads but we both slept well after sampling the delights of the Thai restaurant that is but a short stroll down the road, heading away from town.
Wednesday 23rd March
Our appointment was for 10:00 am so we were up and at 'em smartish. When we arrived at Freedom Motorhomes, Hank was there, ready and waiting for viewing.
We agreed the sale. We had been forewarned that it might take up to a week to turn the RV around and make it ours but they had pushed the boat out and Hank was all ready and waiting. We had been correct in surmising the vehicle we had seen last night was this one, it was being brought back from being made ready.
However, there was the small matter of making the up front payment. Naive as we are, we had not considered the need for proof of payment before departing with our new vehicle. We needed to go away and find some cash or a way of transferring funds quickly with confirmation.
Luckily, Briarfields, though busy, was able to let us have an extra night on the pitch that we had vacated that very morning. We returned and set about moving some money out of our bank account. This proved very easy to do, despite the size of the sum required and we soon found ourselves with time on our hands.
We went shopping.
We were expecting to meet up with an online friend and her partner at some point on the coming days. Having only two coffee mugs in the van it seemed only polite to source some more china. We also stocked up the fridge with supplies to see us through some time in the Forest of Dean, where we planned to go for the next couple of nights or so.
Then we set about packing our goods and chattels ready to empty Brunhilde and fill up Hank.
Thursday 24th March
We were given an instructional session on Hank's systems and then Mr L had a practice drive under supervision. When he returned, we began the process of moving our belongings over.
If I had thought Brunhilde to be sizeable, Hank is considerably larger in every dimension. It seemed odd then that there appeared to be no more cupboard space inside than Brunhilde had. I was having trouble finding a home for everything. I began to realise just how cleverly designed the Tabbert was. As we worked on and as my back began to ache,I also began to realise just how much stuff we had with us! Well, in my defence, we had come away for three weeks.
Once the job was done we simply drove off.
It had come to our attention that we were facing a Bank Holiday weekend. It was Easter. We were in a strange part of the world on roads unknown to us and in a very cumbersome left-hand drive vehicle that the driver was unfamiliar with. We decided to head for the Forest and perhaps sit the holiday out.
If we had known the state of the roads between Cheltenham and the Forest of Dean, we might not have gone. The journey was "interesting".
We found a car park without height bars or locking gate and pulled in there. With great delight, Mr Snail put down the automatic levellers and we settled in.
Nell was ecstatic, after so much constraint in the past few days she finally had a place in which to run and run and run.
Friday 25th March
Good Friday dawned with the arrival of cars. Cars and more cars. People and dogs and children. That was one busy car park! We tried very hard not to be embarrassed about Hank. He was taking up a deal of space.
We enjoyed some good walking in bright sunshine, marvelling at the stained glass panels hanging in the trees. Now, they would never survive in Orkney!
We walked around a lake, where we finally found a signal for both the phone and the wi-fi and were able to conduct some necessary business. There were many frogs...
and not a few twitchers.
I did not get a shot of the Great Grey Shrike that they were after seeing but a group of birders invited us to view the Shrike through their telescope. An honour.
Hank had his first visitors! An online friend, Michele, who lives in Gloucester, had kindly made me a mascot for the van, a beautiful wee jointed Dragon hand crafted from antique velvet - a real beauty, whom I have named Ceridwen. Michele and I had been chatting on and off for some years online and we decided to take this proximity as a prompt for a f2f meeting and dragon-delivery. As a former nomad herself, she was interested to see our new home on wheels.
We stayed where we were overnight. Then we became brave and emerged into the world and headed for Wales.