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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.