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Published: March 5th 2014
58 days and counting. 8 weeks and the odd day before we head off for our first continental trip of 2014. It has felt a long time coming. Since we moved into our new home at the beginning of December trips have gone on hold and we have concentrated on putting in a new bathroom and are in the middle of completing a new kitchen. Whilst we have wanted to go out for trips to pass the time away the house has taken over and the trips unless essential put on the back burner. How sad is that? Suzy has been standing forlorn in the back garden. Somehow she doesnt feel in our face any more as she no longer sits on our front drive right under our lounge window. Instead she is up on the top garden on her own little patch of hardstanding protected by a high laurel hedge. More of the hedge had to be taken out to get her off easily and a few more slabs put in on the driveway to ease her access out. It is still work in progress as each time we take her out we find it doesnt quite work out as
Crowded as always
we hope it should.
The end of February marks the point where we picked up Suzy two years ago and its time to pay Her Majesties Government our road tax for the year . £220 and the start of the slow dribble of cash needed to keep her on the road. Insurance paid a little under £400 for the year - slightly less this year as we are not going to Bosnia but keeping to mainland EU countries. Her habitation check fell due. This is the yearly check of her bodywork and her gas and electrics. Needed to maintain her warranty and to make sure that we are safe using her. This year we took her to Don Amotts World of Leisure in Derby. Cheaper by a country mile than Lowdhams who we bought her from. We didnt want to take her to Lowdhams anyway as they had yet again promised to send us the edging for the cupboard trim and twice it did not appear. After almost a year we find out that we need a complete door rather than just the edging. The time went slowly waiting for her. Sitting in the showroom we looked at all
On the way to Derby
And this is why we would prefer to be in France or Spain or Italy or Croatia - anywhere but here
the new models of motorhomes each one more expensive than the last. The only regret we have is that Swift have modified the cookers and we would prefer the new one and have put in a better shower which would suit staying on aires more. Two cups of coffee, a pot of tea and a bacon sandwich later and we found ourselves in the shop discussing the virtues of buying an blow up awning. The latest types are no longer rigid poles which need putting together like a jigsaw puzzle but are blow up tubes. Quicker to assemble, lighter to carry they dont damage the bodywork of the van if blown off in the wind. At £438 they seem a good buy if you over winter in sunnier climes and need extra room to lounge around in. For us at the moment they would be a luxury probably not used. So dream on full retirement and full time motorhoming and this is the way to go.
The habitation check went Ok as far as they go. No problems with cooker, fridge or heater but a touch of damp showing up on the back panel. According to the tester a
and its the birthday boy
Which one shall I eat first Woolly ?
lot of people are having problems with damp this winter due to the excessive rain and we are not unusual. Nothing to worry about they charged us £160 for the report and asked us to take Suzy back in three months for a retest. Not sure if this is free or if they will charge £40 to put the meter back on. If it shows damp then it will need some remedial work.
The second job of the week was to take her to the local Fiat garage for a service . She has covered 20K in the two years we have had her and we expected a short service however when we picked her up the garage had undertaken the 30K service saying that it was needed as she was two years old. £307 lighter we left the garage. They fixed the second cigarette lighter - a faulty fuse found at the third attempt so now we can plug in Sat Nav to one socket and tracker to the other one rather than have wires all over the place in the cab. Suzy has been washed and polished and now needs a shakedown trip to make sure things
are working and to remind ourselves about life in a motorhome. Everything needs to come out and be refilled and put back again. EVerything from toilet rolls to toilet cleaners, washing powders to tea towels and towels. From soap and shampoos to food and drinks , from clothes to maps and books. Its a never ending task with the first important one being to wash and dry the Duvalay covers which have not been washed since May and probably are very dusty under the bed.
We have made a plan - Plan A - to travel early to the tunnel and hopefully get to Neufchatel en Bray twinned with Whitchurch in Shropshire for our first night. There is a restaurant albeit a small one on site or we may walk in to the town at night for a meal. I wonder what we will find in France this year as it is 100 years since the start of the Great War. Perhaps I need to look for a war cemetery in or around Neufchatel for us to pay our respects to the millions who died in the conflict . We have been watching programmes on the war and it seems as if many more will be aired over the next few months. Its been a time to remember our relatives - my grandfather who was a platelayer on the railways serving the battle fields of Northern France and Belgium , Glenns grandfather serving the gunners with ammunition. He still has his horse spurs. Many of our family escaped the war as they were Bevan Boys serving the war effort in the mines but we still try to visit a commonwealth war grave site whenever we can.
From Neufchatel to Limoges and then to Colliures on the Med - our first sight of the sea. Over the border to Spain to Teruel to see the tombs of the lovers of Teruel. We are such romantics that we couldnt miss this for all the world. Tickets are booked for Granada and the Alhambra palace . Luck was on our side here as we knew that the site got extremely busy during the season and that tickets needed to be booked in advance. I read we could buy them in Spain using the CAIXA machines which I think are something to do with a bank or we could queue and hope for the best . However getting all that far and hoping to chance that we would get tickets didnt seem quite the right thing to do. After some homework we found that we could order the tickets three months in advance from Ticketmaster Spain and pick them up on the day of the visit. Good idea but which day are we going to be there. It was a bit eeny meeny mini mo pick any day and hope we got there at the right time. When I came to book them I was horrified to see that all tickets were sold out of the entire months of February, March and April and for May when we would be there only a few were available . We snapped up two - one at 13 euros 50 for me the non pensioner and the second at 9 euros 50 for an EU pensioner. We pick them up for a 2 pm visit to the main palace . This means we can get there early and have a look around the town and then see what we want to of the palace. We may need two days depending on what we see and how we feel. Sion gets in free and is keen to see the Courtyard of the Lions. I had an old atlas when I was about 7 with pictures of it and I have been feeding him information. Strange how as a child I always wanted to go there to see the lions on the fountains, the islamic gardens and the tiling.
We have been trying to find campsites close to Gibraltar. We would like to visit to see that part of Britain in the Med. I visited in 1966 and guess it will have changed much over the intervening years. The plan is to park the van outside and catch a bus to La Linea and walk in. This should be quicker and easier than trying to battle with the Spanish frontier and being refused entry.
And what else - Africa maybe?
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