TWO SNAILS (plus a dog and a dragon)

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Catching up with Brunhilde

A quick scan of my Scattered Thoughts shows that simply copying the early Brunhilde posts to here is not viable. I am opting for a quick summary post, with suitable excerpts.

August 17th, 2014

We have just bought a campervan! We didn’t expect to. You know how it is, you see these things on eBay and bid, never expecting to actually win – especially when the bid is well under value. This time we got lucky.

On Wednesday morning, the car is booked on the ferry for Mr L to take it in to the garage. He was planning on coming home on the midday boat but will now continue, by bus, to the Pentland Ferry and go to collect the van from its present owner, who is bringing it to Gill’s Bay for us. Mr L and van will return to Orkney via Scrabster and the Northlink ferry, staying overnight on the big island and returning to Sanday on Thursday morning.

I shall spend my free time putting together the basics of a camping kit and must confess to the fact that I am really looking forward to that. We shall peruse the weather predictions and take off with the dogs for a night or two during the vacation break. I

cannot begin to tell how excited I am to be going somewhere new with my camera! My spinning wheel will be coming along too. My knitting won’t be left behind either.

Mr L’s Cumulus users are going to have to get used to a new regime and learn to do without intensive user support until such time as we can fund some mobile data access. Me, I think a period of peace and quiet will be just the thing. We’ll take the Cribbage board with us, I reckon.

August 18th, 2014

First day of the holiday and I woke reasonably early but Mr L was already up and at ‘em. He informed me that the payment for the van had cleared, the insurance had been sourced and paid for and ferry tickets booked for bringing the van home. All this and he had already put the rubbish out!

So far so good. I set about sorting out some things for the overnight trip. I attempted to remove one half of our double sleeping bag so that it could be aired out – it has not been used since the week that we moved in here, almost exactly eight years ago. I struggled. Mr L struggled too. Then we googled. Eventually light dawned. It’s a double sleeping bag and not two singles zipped together to make a double. It’s permanently a double.

August 19th, 2014

I have had words with the old man again to see if he might like to get behind a camera lens a little more. Now that we have a camper van and will be seeing new pastures, I shall want to hang around a lot with my camera. This could be boring for him – all those churches and graveyards and gardens – unless he develops his enthusiasm for the lens too. He’s up for it! I don’t think it’s just words because he has already suggested joining the NTS to save money on entry fees to interesting places. It’s fortunate that Mr L is already a garden enthusiast. He’s never been one for actual gardening but he does enjoy a wander around somebody else’s hard work and will actually stop to smell the roses.

August 20th/21st, 2014

Mr Snail set off bright and early, in good time for the morning boat to Kirkwall. As the car is running one one spring, he thought it best to drive slowly and carefully, so allowed extra time to get to Loth. The car went in to the garage and we have yet to hear how it has fared. 

Mr Snail caught his bus to St Margaret’s Hope and the ferry to Gill’s Bay, where he collected the camper van and went on a tour of Caithness… 

This morning I was up in good time to make an attempt at having things straight before Mr Snail was due back at about 09:30. He arrived on time and insisted that I immediately have a tour of the van. It’s not at all bad and probably represents very good value for what we paid. It’s showing it’s age, being over 20 years old but it’s good enough for us to try out on short trips for a year or two before we decide if we want an upgrade for the retirement years and more ambitious trips. We could easily stay away for a week or more as it stands. 

The best news is that there are no funny odours! Nor any suspicious stains. A win. I don’t care much for the front passenger seat. 

The seats in the living space are fitted with seat belts so I imagine I’ll wish to travel in the back with my knitting. Overall there are some differences to the expected model – it’s only four berths, not six, with the cab section being fitted with overhead lockers instead of a bed. This is probably a plus point for us. Also, it’s not as high-end as Mr Snail had suggested and the real wood veneers that he promised are in fact Formica. Given my congenital lack of housekeeping genes, it’s probably also a plus point.

August 22nd, 2014 

A write up of my first outing in Brunhilde, up the island as far as Lopness, the previous afternoon.

I am busying myself with stocking the van and making lists of things we may wish to buy.

One of the first things that we need is a sparker for lighting the stove. When we finished our walk yesterday and went back to the van for a brew we found that the stove does not have an auto ignition. We had our picnic at home. 

We did at least have a good walk in the sunshine and the dogs had a great time. Nell travelled on the fixed bed, staying put for the whole journey in both directions. I think she liked both the comfort and the fact that she could see so much through the windows. I had Suzie at my feet, keeping her on a leash to ensure she didn’t get mixed up with the driver’s feet. 

 Mr Snail is clearly still a little nervous with the handling and the size on our narrow roads, but a couple more outings should soon sort that out. The van needs some attention to its electrics and we need to brush up our German reading skills in order to absorb details from the manual but overall I think we got good value. It’s dry and cosy and does not smell, which is probably more than we might have expected at the price. I am far happier with my co-pilot seat than I was at first, though I doubt I’ll enjoy the position on a long flight. 


August 23rd/24th, 2014

The plan today was to fit the window in our bedroom but the weather forecast was a little off-putting, being for showers and wind from the NW. We opted instead to “potter” around the camper van, checking things and putting it into order. As with most little projects, this one grew and became ever more problematical. It has taken all day and we are still not ready to roll. 
We do now finally have the water and waste systems functioning. We have hot and cold running, a working shower, a flushing toilet and a (leaking) waste system. The gas cylinders have been weighed and the contents estimated. English translations of German instructions of most of the systems have been obtained one way or another. 
 Overall, our understanding is growing. We do know that we need a new leisure battery – this will set us back by a three-figure sum. What we do not know is whether the leisure battery is charging or not and if the electrical system needs attention. Diagnosis will wait until we fit a new battery on Monday. 
 I’ve stocked up the van with reading material, games and cleaning stuff. The sleeping bag is in, and so is my walking gear. Our picnic set will serve as crockery and cutlery for the time being. I still need to arrange some cooking pans but I have washed and dried a doggie duvet. Priorities must be observed. 
 Double glazing DIY is on hold until more tools arrive, so we hope to shoot off on the early ferry on Monday and go try the van out on mainland Orkney whilst less frivolous matters are stymied. First stop: Orkney Factors, for the battery. Thence to Wisebuys for kitchen paraphernalia and onward to Tesco or Lidl for food. The van should be well stocked by the end of the day. 
One thing that I really have to sort out before long is my knitting. I cannot possibly go without my knitting! I need to wind a couple of skeins into balls before we go. I’m not sure that I shall take any spinning on this trip. I also need to choose my camera kit and make sure my battery is charged. 

More of the same today, still chasing bugs and understanding systems. We found that the water pump is leaking quite badly and confirmed that the leisure battery is not charging nor will the inverter work with it. More stuff has been packed in and we are more or less ready to set off. 
Unfortunately we are both very tired. We have come up with a plan that involves little actual planning nor much need to be organised. We will get up quite late, ignoring breakfast and other niceties in favour of half an hour longer in bed. Bacon butties on the boat. Take dogs for a run as soon as we get off the boat. Shopping in town, followed by Fish and Chip lunch and shopping in Hatston before we set off for Skaill Bay. 
At Skaill we shall do nothing. Absolutely nothing but put our feet up, admire the view and learn to cohabit in a small space. The tide will be out about tea-time so we can have a late afternoon walk with the dogs on the beach. Tea will be bread and cheese and wine, so no need even to cook. Early night to conserve what little battery power we have. 
 Tuesday – visit to Skara Brae and Skaill House, plus the little restored church of St Peter. Further playing on the beach. We will either move on or stay put for a second night, according to whim and/or the way that the van is behaving. 
 Wednesday, potentially Brough of Birsay if we haven’t already been on Tuesday afternoon. Overall we plan to keep our activities to the West Mainland, more or less. We’ll do the south islands next time. 

Topic: Lopness August 2014

Categories: History, Trips

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Shell Acquisition

This article first appeared elsewhere on August 17th, 2014. What was true then may not be true today when I reposted it here.

As I write this post, Mr Snail is making payment on the van. He hopes to pick it up on Wednesday and should be home with it on Thursday morning if all goes according to plan -- though much depends on ferry bookings. He will sleep in the van on mainland Orkney on Wednesday night. Quite the adventure.

 The van is a Tabbert FFB Classic 660 on a Fiat chassis - all of that may be disordered, I do not have a clue really but all the essential naming components are there in some order or other. It is a 1992 model and has had three owners, the last two of which were non-smoking. 

 We hope to make our first trip in the coming two weeks - just a short jaunt, spending one or two nights on the big island - just finding our feet. 

 Over the next couple of years we hope to have long weekends in Orkney and Sutherland and perhaps a couple of longer trips to go further Sooth. By the time that full retirement comes around we should have our van suitably furnished and stocked and our routines sorted out and be ready to go off for a month or more at a time. 

 We need passports for ourselves and for Nell the dog. I doubt we'll be going far afield any time before Suzie leaves us. 

 I am going to begin a page on which to keep a bucket list of Places to Go, Things to Do, People to See.

Comment: The Bucket List already has a few ticks against it. Coming soon will be reports on trips to West and East Mainland Orkney, copied from Woolgathering. Fresh material will begin here when I write up our forthcoming trip to Sutherland.

Categories: History, Pre-history

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Hello, Hello - is there anybody there?

This article first appeared elsewhere on August 17th, 2014. What was true then imay not be true today when I reposted it here.

So, this thing still works then?


 It has been a while, has it not? 

 I have a confession to make. Mr and Mrs Snail learned to accept that their idea was misguided and let their plan wither on the vine. Time marched on. It was agreed that they could not bear to part with their home on the peedie island. It was also agreed that poor Mr Snail could not long continue a life shackled to his employer’s desk. This is the main reason for the protracted period of quiet. It took a lot of hard thinking and some serious manipulation of numbers but the whole process was greatly aided by the continued low interest rate. 

 To bring us right bang up to date – Mr Snail begins his two years on his company’s pre-retirement plan at the beginning of September. Between now and then he is on leave. When he returns to work, he will be working 4 days a week for 12 months and then 3 days a week for the next 12 months thereafter. The mortgage will be paid off during this period and we hope to keep the house as a home base for as long as possible. 

 Mrs Snail, being Mr Snail’s “older woman” has now formally received both her bus pass and employer’s pension, if not yet the State pension. The lump sum is providing some refurbishment to the house and left a little over, so… 

 …when Mr Snail spotted the listing for a very nice camper van in Caithness on eBay a couple of days ago, he lost his heart to it entirely. An experimental bid in the final two seconds resulted in our sudden and almost entirely unexpected purchase of a fully-winterised 6 berth 21 footer. Sight unseen. Whoops. 

 So – a 4 day week implies a 3 day weekend. Every week. And now we have a home on wheels with which to make the most of our new free time. 

 We are going places. 

 In all frankness, I need a bit of a lie down.

Comment: So, this then is where it all really actually begins. We have had a couple of trips over to the big Orkney island and I have been blogging at my main Woolgathering blog, under a Category of Brunhilde. I will copy all the relevant material to this site and then we are ready to carry on with new adventures. I'll gather such posts together under a new category such that the Two Snails Wordpress material is under Pre-history and newer Woolgathering/Scattered Thoughts posts are simply History.

Categories: History, Pre-history

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