Farewell 2018

Too chilly for golf

I suppose this is cheating as I’m writing a blog post from our living room rather than from our motorhome but it seems appropriate somehow to mark the end of another year of adventures. It’s been another great year in our half-way world between long term touring in a motorhome and living in our cosy wee home in the Scottish Borders.

View from our dog walk

This year we have lived in the motorhome for eight months and four months in residence in our home. We have just had Christmas at home with family for the first time in three years and we find ourselves at the end of four years of wondering how we would find a way to balance our love of travel with our need to have a home. We knew we wanted a safe haven to return to each time our itchy feet stopped itching and when we started longing for a bit of comfort and the company of friends and family. At the start we thought we couldn’t have both but good fortune in finding buyers for our house that was too big for us and finding a lovely apartment in the beautiful Scottish Borders has given us the freedom we needed.

Things we learned in 2018

Travelling teaches you a lot and so does staying at home. Here are our top learning points from 2018:

France is still our favourite

France is the motorhomer’s dream with so many and varied places to park overnight for little or no cost and stacks of interesting things to see. People watcher’s delight, it is a land of such variety of characters and attitudes that just sitting in a pavement café and watching the world go by is enough to keep us happy for hours. The food, the wine and the generosity of the place calls us back year on year. Despite the horrific cost of diesel after Monsieur Macron hiked the tax it is still possible to live there for weeks or months and spend less than you do at home.

Portugal is so much more than the Algarve

The Algarve fills up with motorhomers in the coldest part of each year. If like us you enjoy a bit of peace and quiet this can be a bit trying. Our advice to you is to spend some time a little bit away from the coast and enjoy the truly lovely nature of the real Portugal then go back and join in the fun if you wish. You can dip in and out and find some lovely places to visit. I know I said France was our favourite but just writing this makes me want to go back to Portugal. Sigh …

This is where we were one year ago

Eating oranges in Spain & Portugal ruins you for ever

We eat lots of oranges when we’re in southern Europe. We don our oldest t-shirts, gather a heap of kitchen paper and settle in for a wonderful messy feast of nature’s finest. They are so sweet and juicy that we can’t resist them. Then we travel north and discover that oranges in northern France and the UK are a different breed altogether. It’s enough to bring tears to your eyes, so if you ever want to enjoy oranges in the UK again don’t even go there. You will be spoiled for life.

Take your time

If you’re touring Europe in a motorhome, our advice is to take your time. Go slowly, travel short distances and enjoy the moment. We like to live simply, to discover the local area and to enjoy whatever comes along. On our convoy tour in the autumn with our pal Mary we deliberately took a long route in a relatively short time so that we could show her the delights of the different parts of France and Northern Spain. It was a great trip and we all had fun but the bits we liked best were the slow times when we were parked up in a lovely place and we could be in the moment. Touring can all too easily become a series of stops when all you think about is where you’re going next. We’re learning to resist this urge and just let life happen around us.

If you’re thinking of getting an electric bike …

We bought two fine electric bikes this year. They are absolute beauties if a little on the heavy side. When we first got them we had a few practice rides around town. One Sunday evening we spun around Melrose, setting off downhill and then turning towards Newstead where we encountered a small incline. To my surprise I had to keep braking to avoid cycling in to Shirley’s back wheel. Overtaking her I distinctly heard her grunting and then, after losing sight of her, I decided to stop and wait. Thinking that I knew what had gone wrong I was ready with some helpful suggestions when she shot past me yelling “It wasn’t switched on…” before disappearing in a cloud of dust. Boy do those babies go, but only when they’re on. It took me several minutes to catch up with her.

So what’s next?

People ask us often what plans we have made for 2019 and the answer is simple. We haven’t. Not that we don’t intend to travel – of course we do – but one of the things we love most about motorhoming is the freedom to just get up and go. I don’t want to mention the B word but the uncertainty about our future relationship with Europe is on our minds a bit. There are particular issues about taking dogs to Europe in the future and these can’t be resolved at the moment. Trust me, I’m resisting the urge to say how I really feel about the whole thing and I won’t. I am trying to graciously acknowledge that opinions on this issue are varied and I want to keep this blog a happy place. We are seriously considering the house sitter option for the dogs and may well be looking for suitable candidates to develop a regular and longish term love affair with a pair of small pooches and a beautiful town in the Borders. We’ve had house sitters before and they’ve been great – if you’re wondering about how it works have a look here. 

Beautiful River Tweed

In the meantime we are thinking fondly of the many places we would like to visit in 2019. We know that the list will have to be trimmed but our current wish list contains the following – Shetland and Orkney and a return to the Hebrides, Eire, Italy, Germany and of course we must pass through France for our yearly fix.

Home is where more than half our heart is …

Scotland is our home and the place we feel we belong. This year, as in many others, we played with the idea of buying a home in France but in the end Scotland always calls us home. Shirley is a true Scot born and bred whereas I’m a Yorkshire lass, yet I’ve become an adopted Scot and every year that goes by I love it more. I read something the other day about a person who asked a Scottish person how you become Scottish. The answer was “You just turn up”. This is a place of welcome and I’m proud to be part of it. At a time when so many people are distrusting anyone who comes from a foreign land, Scotland has stepped up to the mark and announced it’s welcome to all. Take a look at this and if you want even more of a reason to come and visit you might enjoy this.

A Very Happy New Year to all our pals out there.

20 thoughts on “Farewell 2018

  1. Wow. This has just lifted my heart. I so miss your blog when you are not traveling. Happy New Year to both of you. I so hope one day our paths will cross again. Xx

  2. What a gorgeous post, so much wonderful advice which I hope, one day, to be able to enjoy for real rather than vicariously as at present.

    Blessings to both your houses (the fixed one and the four-wheeled one) and hugs for a wonderful 2019 filled with love, laughter, health and happiness.

  3. If you live in Scotland and want to do Eire, the easiest way would be Cairnryan to N. Ireland. Don’t rule out a tour around Northern Ireland first. We are motorhome friendly, have some awesome places to visit and FRIENDLY in general. Just like the Scottish 🙂

    We lived in Spain for 3 years and were moving home to Northern Ireland with 2 dogs just before the pet passport rules were eased. But just to clarify, it was the UK who insisted in having the more stringent rules for pet transport against the wishes of the EU. The UK battled the EU for years to keep them stringent, when the EU wanted them to relax the rules for many many years. So if they revert to the old system, then it will be the UK who impose them and nothing to do with the B word. Many of the scare stories going around will be because the UK want to tighten rules unilaterally and not because we will be forced to do so.

  4. Sat reading this in Houston, Texas, where we are visiting our youngest daughter and her 3 boys under 8 so it brought a bit of Summer back into my life remembering all you travels this year.
    So it’s Happy New Year from me.

  5. Happy New Year to you both. Just travelled through France via Lyon can still get fuel for €1.30 on the Nationals and at supermarkets, the motorway is horrendous €1.65 in some places. Spent first night, New Year’s Eve, in Spain at Villafranca the last of fireworks went off at 5am we were up with girls it was no bother, the fuel here ranges from €1.17 down to €1.01. The dogs, well we have our darling girls with us and many years ago when we first brought our beloved Pippa we had to have blood test for rabies a long wait before we could come out or inand a vet check so I’m thinking not too much has changed we’ve just gone backwards! It will be fine. Hope you have some wonderful trips in 2019 with many new memories made and new and old friends well met. Julie Nick Ruby and Bonnie

  6. Happy New Year to you both, may you have good health to create many more great memories and continue to write blogs about them, they always make interesting reading.???

  7. Great to have your news and views. Delighted you are so happy and content – the good life has found you! Happy 2019. Catherine & Shaughan

  8. I enjoy your posts so much,,,,,,informative,chatty and addictive ! Wishing you a wonderful 2019 with all the trips you desire.Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  9. Thank you everyone for all the responses and all the lovely positive support. We’ve missed writing the blog and it’s great to hear from you and know you’re still there. We might just pop up again time to time with some other random thoughts. A bientot!

  10. Oh how lovely to read your news!! We too have had had Christmas and New year with the family! We’ve probably appreciated it much more this year as it’s been a bit of a rough one! Best wishes for 2019! An good health to enjoy it!! X

  11. Thank you for your blogs. I’ve really enjoyed reading them. Wishing you both very happy adventures this new year.

  12. Lovely blog Margaret best wishes too you two and the dogs for 2019 we are in Spain are the moment enjoying the sun

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