We have spent the last four weeks in a state of suspended animation while our house has been on the market. Living in a house that looks like no-one lives in it is no fun at all. We have been so tidy that we couldn’t find a single thing. By the end of the second week we had stopped asking “where is the …” because we knew there was no point. We had no idea. Wiping up every small mark, cleaning windows so often that you would be forgiven for thinking we had OCD and keeping a steady supply of matching towels ready to put in the bathrooms began to feel normal. Thank goodness it didn’t last long. Life is for living after all. Presenting our house as though it was a show home paid off however with a very nice offer after four weeks on the market.
I imagined that when the moment came we would spring around the room shouting “Woo Hoo!” or words to that effect and then crack open a bottle of bubbly. In fact we quietly slipped into a state of shock when reality stared us in the face. We have deliberately put ourselves in a position where home will be the motorhome for at least a few months. We’re not attempting to buy a new place until we are certain it’s right for us. I know of at least one couple who did this and are still travelling ten years later. I don’t think it will take ten years but we’re not in a hurry.
The good news is that the shock of the house sale didn’t last long. We’ve been home since March for goodness’ sake. It’s time to get those wheels turning.
The Simpler Life
All these weeks that we’ve been silent on the blog front haven’t been wasted – oh no, not at all. We’ve been indulging in a game called “extreme declutter”. This is the third time in a year that we’ve done it, so our belongings have taken a serious hit. We now only own clothes that fit us and that we like – except perhaps our padded cycling shorts and exercise gear that we neither like nor look good in – but they’re essentials so they don’t count. If you prune your wardrobe with those two rules in mind you might be amazed how much stuff can go to the charity shop. I tried very hard not to feel embarrassed about the stuff that I’d bought that looked ok in the fitting room but not in the real world. Someone, somewhere will enjoy it. Owners of shops, I have a question for you. How can the mirrors in your fitting rooms simultaneously horrify you by showing off your worst bits from every angle when in your underwear yet lie to you by making you look good in stuff that is obviously not right the next time you wear it? It’s one of life’s mysteries. The declutter has gone much further than clothes. We have given away most of our books, quite a lot of kitchen stuff and some furniture. By the time we leave we will have given away even more. It’s very liberating and I can recommend it as a therapy, especially if you have a house full of ‘stuff’. The remainder of our things will go into storage locally or to family if they can use it. An old friend recently remarked that we spend the first two thirds of our lives accumulating stuff and the last third trying to get rid of it. How true is that?
Another outcome of this brutal cull of the things we own, is raised self awareness. I have been faced with the reality of my gadget spending habits. Of course I’ve always known that I liked new gadgets but I had found a pleasant name for it. Someone told me I was an “early adopter”. Not for me the wails of discontent when new technology appeared. I was in there trying it out and loving it. I once tore a strip off a couple of web designers when I was nearing the end of my career who dared to suggest I might not know how to use a mouse. “Use a mouse?” I cried, “I was using a PC before you were born!” So, with a certain amount of pride, I enjoyed being someone who could use new technology comfortably…. except I admit for using a DVD recorder to record TV, I still needed a five year old boy to help me with that until a new wave of technology came along and saved me the bother of learning. Anyway, I digress. I have been faced with the harsh reality of my spending habits. Marketing people will tell you that the latest thing is the best yet. Here’s the sorry truth – they will keep making new things as long as there are people daft enough to buy them when the old ones are working fine. I am now the proud owner of a four year old Apple Iphone 5s and it does everything I want it to. Am I cured? I hope so. In the meantime I am faced with hundreds of yards of plugs and wires for gadgets that are no longer with us and a few trips to the charity shop with stuff that no self respecting gadget junkie would want.
Our long trip last year taught us a lot about what is important to us and particularly that there are very few things that you really miss when you don’t have them. The next trip and the stuff we take with us will be informed by our experience of the last one … and we can barely wait to get going.
Getting the Premier Treatment
Regular followers of this blog will know that we sold the house with the idea of downsizing our home and upgrading our van. As the process went along we were absolutely sure we wanted a smaller house but not so confident that we wanted to change the van just yet. We’ve spent quite a lot on Holly, getting her in tip top working order and it seems a waste to sell her, only to buy someone else’s potential problems. It’s true that we could do with a bit more payload and a bit more space but wait a minute – what did I just say about living more simply? The declutter needs to extend to the under bed storage in the motorhome. One thing we were very aware of on our long trip was Holly’s dark and worn out state of upholstery. It’s depressing and dark and the seats are uncomfortable. So we came to a decision – Holly the motorhome was booked into Premier Furnishings in Ilkeston, Derbyshire to have a major spruce up.
What an experience this jaunt turned out to be! It is quite a long run from our home in Central Scotland to Ilkeston so we left on Tuesday afternoon with the plan to stop over somewhere on the way and arrive by noon the next day at Premier. We knew that we could stay overnight in their car park with electric hook up and water provided and that they very kindly provide a courtesy car to explore the area while they get on with the work. Our stopover on the way turned out to be a less than happy experience when we somehow managed to incur the wrath of a Club site warden for no reason that we could think of.
It was extra cheering the next day to be met by the lovely warm and friendly Emma at Premier who made us a coffee, and talked us through the process of completely changing all the soft furnishing in the van. We had already chosen and ordered the pale grey leather and blue piping for the seats but we still had to choose fabric for the tacking boards (see I learned a new word!) and the curtains. This was far from easy, trying to imagine what it would all look like when assembled but we finally bit the bullet and made our choice from the wide selection on offer. Jemma, the Sales Manager came into the van to make the final check that everything would be as we requested. By 4 p.m. we were sitting in Morrison’s café having a late lunch/ early dinner and beginning to relax. We were absolutely confident that we were in excellent hands. Jemma had explained to us that we would see very little happening in the van until Friday morning when the “Big Reveal” would take place. This was because the foam and cushions would be completely replaced and the old ones left in position until the last couple of hours of work. Our excitement mounted as we explored the local area in their courtesy car, met up with Debs, a fellow motorhomer, for coffee and a lot of chat and laughs and paid a visit to Ikea and Decathlon. By lunchtime on Friday we were finally allowed to enter our totally transformed van. I admit I shed a few tears when I saw it. The results were stunning!
The team at Premier are a real delight. Every single person we met was friendly, helpful and kind. We asked for an extra piece of fabric to be made to cover our skylight over the cab because the blind has given up the ghost and can’t be replaced. They made a beautifully fitted cover that will look smart and keep out the light and worked out a way to fit it – it’s these little extra touches that make this company really special. Thank you Jemma, Emma and the whole team. We have fallen in love with our motorhome all over again thanks to your hard work and wonderful customer service.