Leaving Home

Bathgate no more

Leaving this time was a whole new experience. As we drove away from our house we knew we would never be back – it was empty and clean, all ready for its new owners and we were setting off for a different kind of adventure. Before we left we sold our car, leaving us with only our motorhome to call home and our worldly goods in a 20 x 8 ft storage container. It felt momentous. Our neighbours bid us fond farewells and we swallowed the lumps in our throats and put on a brave face. Endings are not easy.

Empty but full of happy memories
The storage started off neatly packed but by the end it was like this …

We plan to buy another house on our return so we are not going completely nomadic but we decided that six months without the responsibility seemed like a grand idea. Friends, neighbours and family have all asked at some point what our plans are and the only answer we have is that we will cross the channel and look at the weather forecast. Most people congratulate us on being adventurous. I suspect they also think we’re just a little bit nuts.

So we set off on Thursday 28th September and drove 25 miles to park outside Adrian and Rachel’s house and have some last minute cuddles with granddaughter Cara. She is six and will be seven by the time we get back. Six months of her life, at the rate she is growing and maturing, will seem the longest of all. Another lump in the throat as I walked her to school the next morning and she talked to me in a very grown up way about how she will read this blog and send me emails and talk on Skype.

The longest journey starts with a single step – or 25 miles

Back at the van Adrian whisked the bikes off the back and gave them a look over, pumped up tyres, fixed a squeak here and there and put some new extensions on Shirley’s handlebars. She and I have swapped bikes as hers was too big and mine a bit small. I got the better deal as hers is a better bike but that’s no comfort if your legs are too short to step through the step through. Swinging her leg over the seat was becoming a tad difficult so she is pleased to be able to get on and off the smaller model with not much difficulty. We set off with yet another lump in the throat, waving to Adrian as he stood watching us go with just a hint of envy.

First stop was Whittingham and Goosnargh Social Club near Preston. They have a slightly rough and ready camping field and access to all necessary facilities, including real ale in the club. We found ourselves too tired to go in and buy a drink and fell into bed just after nine, exhausted from the effort of emptying the house. If you’re looking for a pleasant and cheap overnight stopover near to the M6 motorway, we can recommend it.

On Saturday we headed for a farm camp site in Warwickshire where we indulged in electric hook up, a long hot shower and another early night. We really know how to live! Harbury Fields Caravan Site is a delightful place with superb facilities and a great dog walk. Poppy and Boo gave it the thumbs up as we trudged through the wet grass and into a downpour. The newly upholstered van now smells of wet dog.

Poppy’s wet dog bag. You can see it’s not her favourite place

Our final stop on our way to the Newhaven Ferry Port and the crossing to France is Crowborough Camping and Caravan Club site. We are here to meet up with Jann and Pat, our friends from California who we met when they looked after our dogs and house when we were on one of our trips. They are great buddies and we share a love of playing games amongst many other things. We’re looking forward to a few hours of catching up with them before we hit the channel and head south.

Crowborough and Autumn is here

Getting your Cap Stuck

Nothing is ever working perfectly in a motorhome. It’s a fact of life. I read loads of forums and motorhomers Facebook pages and there’s always something going wrong. We hadn’t even left Bathgate when the first problem emerged. We drove into our local Morrison’s to fill up with diesel (ouch by the way – prices have really gone up) and also LPG. We have a Gaslow system fitted and we love it – usually. This day we simply couldn’t get the filler cap off. It was stuck fast. I had a vague memory of it coming to pieces in my hand on the last trip and deciding that my hasty attempt at putting it back together was preferable to paying more than £20 for a new one. That old Yorkshire frugality seems to be alive and well and as useless as ever. We approached a bus driver who was parked next to the filling station and asked if he could help us. He was Eastern European and completely bewildered by our slightly random request for help. After a few minutes observing us grunting and wrestling (with the cap, not each other, you understand) he came over and tried a bit of wrestling himself. No use! The damned thing was stuck fast. We filled up with diesel and decided that Adrian would know what to do about the LPG. He did! He took out the offending cap and told us to buy another one, for goodness’ sake. This meant ordering online and having it delivered to the Crowborough campsite as by now it was too late to get one delivered to us in Scotland. The moral of this story? If it’s buxxered, replace it. We now have a new filler cap and as soon as we opened it I saw that a huge bit of the old one was missing. I hope its not in the LPG tank.

Boo’s Beef

When we get ready to drive off, the two dogs are put in their harnesses and clipped to the rear seat belts where they snooze through the drive to the next stop. Their individual personalities are clearly seen at the moment we cover the seats and call them over to get up. Poppy jumps up eagerly and places herself in the pole position right next to the window, waiting patiently for us to clip her in. Boo saunters over to the other end of the van and refuses to move. We have discovered that a small tasty treat is enough to persuade him to get up into his seat – until yesterday. I’ll let him tell the story himself.

I am outraged! The usual reward for getting into my travel position is a nice chewy treat, a little bit more special than the usual tiny, plain biscuits we get on walks. Yesterday Margaret tried to fob me off with a plain walky type treat and I was having none of it. I fixed her firmly in the eye and demanded a more tasty morsel before I would hop up into the seat. A little negotiation – a bit of give and take – it was all I asked. I simply could not believe it when she gave my treat to Poppy, the sook, who was sitting there all goody four feet and then picked me up and unceremoniously plonked me into the seat, clipping me in before I could make my objection clear. I tried to ask for another treat – even a plain one, but all I got for my trouble was the sight of her getting into the front seat, ignoring my pitiful complaints.  It’s a dog’s life.

“Love conkers all” says Shirley



41 thoughts on “Leaving Home

  1. It was a nice, comfortable home! Now, “moving” on – exciting times. Very happy for you! Guessing your plans aren’t involving anything “North,” so see you the next time around. Take good care of the wee ones.

  2. Good luck on your travels – look forward to reading all about your adventures. Linnhe agrees with Boo and would tell a tale of being stuck right at the back of the car the other day – with a sideboard where she normally sits! Getting a Cockerpoo to stay whilst the boot slowly shuts was an interesting task!

  3. You guys are inspiring…… Love the blog and will follow with interest… Safe travels xx you are very welcome to park up in our drive in Arboleas….. We’ve just heard that our offer on an apartment in mojacar has been accepted too so another option !! Keep in touch much love xxxx

  4. And the journey begins. Happy and safe travels. I’m just imagining poor Boo staring at you hoping for a tastier more like ?
    Greetings from a warm Ibiza. It’s definitely better this side of the Channel. Make the most of it. X

  5. Wow off in your adventures! Hope you both ( and the dogs) have a great time and look forward to reading all about it! X

  6. I was JUST about to contact you to ask if you’d like to sing/play in our newest venture … TAPPTheatre … at Xmas. I hesitated, wondering to myself … “I wonder if they’ve set off?” … opened Facebook … and there you are! Or rather, there you were … and now you’re not! I hope this next part of your journey is wonderful. Always thinking of you and holding you in my prayers in my new Hermitage! xx

  7. great the blog is back!! good luck ladies, and dogs (I’ve heard they do wonderful doggy treats in France!) have a fab time and stay safe xx

  8. Good luck on your travels. Life should always be a big adventure, every day! We are hoping to set off in the next month for six months of sunny Portugal so if you see a great big American RV with two humans two black labs, who think they’re human, come and say hello. Julie, Nick, Ruby and Bonnie

  9. Girls (and furry friends), so strange to see the place we also called home for a short while lying empty. Have yourselves some absolutely fantastic adventures over the next 6 mths. My dad always used to say you’re a long time deid, life your life. No one could ever accuse you ladies of not doing that! Take care. Lots of love & luck from all the Paul’s xxxxx

  10. We hope to sail on the 20th October heading to Santander then to Portugal for a short tour heading to Marjal for several months we hope.Hope your trip goes well with not too many mishaps.love following the blog keep it up please . Best wishes Joyce Archie and Poppy ?

  11. Good luck on your travels. Told you both, life’s too short, so go ahead and make the most of it!! Look forward to reading all about it.
    Best wishes Alison,Arla & Iona aka the girls!xx

  12. I think what u 2 ladies r doing is fab. Stay safe + enjoy every minute of it. I simply can’t wait to read all ur blogs. Happy safe journey ladies

  13. Hi ladies

    We live in our motorhome and also have a large storage unit – yours looks tidy compared to ours! I notice you are using Newhaven ferry port. We used the Newhaven – Dieppe ferry in June this year. Its probably too late now but you can park overnight for free at the Newhaven port, might be useful for next time. Also you can get a nice 20% discount on the ferry if you book by phone and are aged 60 or over – won’t apply to you two for many years yet of course.

    Looking forward to reading about your adventures.


    1. Hi Paul, Thanks for the tips. Yes we got the 20% discount without having to lie about our ages 😉
      Great to know we can stay at the port. We might just do that – at least we’ll be sure to be on time to check in.
      Happy travels!

  14. Well done and good luck both of you. Bon voyage. Have great fun exploring, take your time, be safe, enjoy best wishes Sandy

  15. Thank you to all you lovely encouraging people for sending us messages and watching our backs as we meander onwards. We love hearing from you! Mags and Shirl x x x

  16. It felt momentous Well, probably because it IS momentous ? but also incredible and wonderful and enabling and exactly what you should both be doing right now.

    Safe travels to two-paws and four-paws. Look forward to your updates.

  17. Have a wonderful trip ladies. Will miss our wee conversations through the fence and shrubs. Looking forward to reading about your travels.

  18. Ahhh no! We missed you again!! We arrived home yesterday after a very rough crossing from Amsterdam to Newcastle! During the last week or two we kept on the lookout for you both! I kept saying to Colin ” wouldn’t it be lovely if we bumped into Margaret and Shirley again” as I thought you would be on your travels soon! You were quick getting sold up and packed up! We found out today that our buyers want to be in by the end of the month, so it’s “happy packing” for us too! There will also be some lump in the throat experiences for us as we’ve been here for 33 years! So sorry we missed you! Looking forward to reading your blog, keep safe and enjoy your travels! X

    1. Hi Rachel, We missed you by a whisker. We arrived in Dieppe yesterday after a rough crossing too. Good luck with the house clearing. We are mightily relieved ours is over! x x

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