However things have changed. Around the time that my chemo was ending my elderly uncle suddenly died (peacefully and painlessly) and I learned that some money was coming my way. Now in recent years we have been noticing motorhomes more and more on our travels and thinking that would be a rather useful way to holiday. We have always had touring types of holidays together and as we take everything but the kitchen sink with us (picnic gear, travel kettle, lots of books - bird ID, where to go to find said birds and guide books etc etc, not to mention photography equipment) it has been a tiring pain in the you know what with all the loading and unloading of the car at hotels and motels. OK buying a motorhome for the occasional holiday is very expensive but the idea of being able to take off for a couple of days here and there and exploring more of our local patch i.e. Brittany and the other regions around us, particularly out of the holiday season here, sounds divine. And so it was that I announced that I was going to buy a motorhome out of the money I was getting from my Uncle (reasoning that K couldn't complain cos it was my money!). I have been researching the subject for months - however there were two problems. We couldn't keep the van at home due to our steep sloping drive (and nowhere to park it anyway), and even if we found somewhere to keep it there was the small matter of the chickens and cats. Now this was a part of the reason for thinking about moving house because we could have found somewhere with large enough hard standing/parking and we wouldn't have carried on keeping poultry.
Those who read my post a few weeks back know that we decided to stay here after all and that decision was made partly after having a chat with our English neighbours about ways we could help each other out when we (each) went away. For us we will always get in housesitters when we are away for a couple of weeks, but it's the 1-3 nighters that we would like to do regularly that would have been the problem. My lovely neighbour has said she is happy to pop round and see to the chickens (and cats) as she rather likes them and that it is no problem (and if you are reading this there will be plenty of free eggs coming your way!). We also need a place to park the van the night before setting off somewhere - we can park outside our gates for loading and unloading but it's a bit big to leave there overnight so they don't mind us parking it in their flat parking area then.
And so we went shopping. By this time my OH was starting to get cold feet because of the cost, which isn't helped by the fact that there are lots of optional extras which all cost loads more money - the cheeky manufacturers charge huge amounts for certain things, many of which you can get yourself elsewhere (like TVs!) for a fraction of the cost. But many things need to be fitted into or onto the van and some of those things need to be done in the factory whilst the van is being built, although some can be done afterwards by the dealer if they have a workshop.
Finding a van to suit two tall people especially one who is 195cm tall when some of the vans have a ceiling height of just that isn't easy. But those with a height of 198cm turned out to be fine. So we looked at various models including the 'gin palace on wheels' (his words) which I really, really liked but was 'rather' expensive. Finally the lady showing us around took us inside to show us a van which was on special offer as it was last year's model, and they were trying to sell it to make space for this year's new models. It was perfect for us and had quite a hefty discount and even without that was actually cheaper than the ones I'd been looking at originally, but I had discounted that range because the website wrongly stated that the ceiling height was 195cms! K was happier seeing the price of this one and so we went back for him to test drive it and to look at it again and make our decision. He was happy with it, the seats are comfy, the beds (it's a twin bed model so no climbing over the other one to get to the loo in the middle of the night) are really comfy and long enough, it has a great big garage area in the back to fit tables, chairs, BBQ etc and loads of storage space inside. Plus the payload is high enough so we should be able to carry all those items without worrying about being overloaded. So we have siged on the dotted line, have ordered some extras that can be fitted in their workshop like a sun awning and we'll pick it up at the end of the month.
We were also dead lucky as we found a lock up garage to keep it in only 20 mins away at a place where people can keep their caravans, motorhomes, boats etc under cover when they can't keep these large vehicles at home. We got the only garage free out of 87 of them!! So that's sorted then.
I know I waffle a lot but I find it difficult to say things in few words but if you will bear with me just a little bit longer I wanted to also explain just WHY I decided to throw caution to the wind and splurge on such an expensive item. Yes I know it will devalue as soon as we buy it (although being a 2015 model possibly less so than a 2016 model?); we also have to pay for insurance, the garaging, the cost of kitting it out (but that's mostly a one off) and as we won't be touring for weeks on end regularly or setting off to the sun in Spain for 3 months during winter we won't be really getting our money's worth out of it that way. (That's mostly due to having cats).
It's because of having had a brush with death - it makes you look at life in a different light. I want to live for and enjoy NOW. The worst thing in the world that could happen would be if my cancer were to return and all I had done in the intervening years was the same old same old. So I don't care about the money, I don't care if this costs us loads in running costs or if we lose money over it. I don't care about saving for my old age right now. I just want to have some fun and get to GO places after more than 18 months of being mostly stuck at home.* And I feel that with a camping car it's a bit more suited to being less than fit. We can park up, go for a walk then come back, have somewhere comfy to sit and put the kettle on. Then drive off to explore other new places. And camping is a whole new world for me and will be fun and different, albeit in a slightly more comfortable way than the average 'camping'. My only experience is a two man tent sleeping on hard ground in the Australian outback in winter, absolutely freezing because I hadn't realised that the desert would be hot during the day and really cold at night! And I've slept in a static caravan on holiday when I was about 10 which was full of spiders which absolutely terrified me.... I've changed a lot, haven't I? Hahaha!
* K does feel the same way - this is not me being entirely selfish. At least I hope not.
The following is a photo from the Burstner website of the kitchen - it will take some getting used to preparing meals in such a small space with so little work surface! Of course the vans are somewhat smaller inside than the glossy website photos would have you believe.
In other news we have finished lopping off branches and raising the canopy on some of the trees to let in more light, or to generally get past without having to duck.
|Here we were removing some branches as my little Liquidambar was starting to |
reach over towards the light a bit - it's the tree on the right.
Spring is happening much too early and I had my first daffodils starting to open at the beginning of the month which is about a month earlier than what I'd consider the average here. But most strange is my rhododendron starting to flower! I've checked back over several other years' photos and it is definitely April when it blooms normally.
|There are more flowers out on it now than when I took this photo last week!|
|Small flowered narcissus.|
|Pulmonaria, which does flower early.|
|And of last year's flowers.... |
the Calendulas are still alive and starting to flower again
although this specimen looks a bit soggy!
|There are many more buds waiting to open up on the plant.|
|Hallie caught asleep with my phone camera.|
|Harry was asleep with his leg sticking out like this |
but I woke him without meaning to so he gave me a filthy look....
|...then tucked his leg in and went back to sleep again. |
Suffice to say these baskets are in front of the wood burner!
That's it for now - blogging may be intermittent due to many things needing doing re both kitting out the new motorhome and tons more research, so that we don't look like complete and utter idiots when we first get the show on the road. :-)