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Published: October 25th 2018
Regular Ruff Readers may be wondering why we've not travelled further than the English Coast in our RV, after all long stays in the wilderness is what these beasties are designed for. Well the answer is simple, and two fold. Firstly the plan is to travel around Europe, while we still can, and take our time doing it too. In order to do that we've spent hours testing and refining kit and systems while adding some nice little luxuries for those not so warm and sunny days. Secondly, who would want to go anywhere else than around the UK when we've just had the most spectacular summer ever. It's been fabulous and we've seen place's we've never been and met some lovely like-minded folk along the way. However, we have discovered there's one last bit of kit that we needed in order to be able to stay 'Off Grid' indefinitely. Solar Power, the key to being able to watch the telly, play music and leave all the lights on without worrying about draining the batteries. So on to this little trip, first stop was an overnight at the Chequers, Weston on the Green, Oxford. A good excuse to stay over so
I could get the RV to the folk used to fit the Solars. We were a bit late arriving due to a whole bunch of Cows who decided they'd had enough of their field and so went for a wander on the A40 into Oxford. It was a bit of fun watching Thames Valley's finest, blues a flashing, ushering the Sunday Lunches along one of the busiest Dual Carriageways in the country. Eventually they moooooooved them on and the seemingly entire population of Oxford was able to get home from work.
Early start the next day, dropped the RV off and took the dogs for hike around the Oxfordshire Countryside. The RV had to stay over to make sure all the seals were set before we drove it so we had a very pleasant night with friends in Sutton Courtenay while we waited. Next morning was an exciting time; freedom had landed on our roof. After a quick explanation, Solars ain't rocket science; we were off on what would be our longest trip to date. Even though it was over cast, we could see the batteries being charged, brilliant, only water fills every four days would hold
us back now and we know we can cope with that so let's go...
What's that noise on the roof?, well now this is a first, rain, rain, rain and even more rain, hang on let's just check, wow, panels still charging. Ok time to forget them now and let them do their thing, we need to find a stop for the night. We fired up some streaming Apple Tunes, a bit of Miami Chill Out Sounds and headed forrrrrrr, Willersey and a lovely wee pub called The New Inn. We received a very warm welcome from the owners and were introduced to Chickens, Rabbits and the cutest little pony I've ever seen. Bonus was, it's Thirsty Thursday and we'd arrived back just in time for Happy Hour, just what the doctor ordered. Well we couldn't visit such a lovely area without exploring so it was an early start, breakfast in the RV while Purdie kept watch on the Rabbits, then it was all out on foot for a couple of hours wandering the village and hills around Willersey, beautiful.
We had a bit of route planning meeting over a coffee and decided we'd like to
visit Stratford on Avon so that was it, we were off to Shakespeare Country. The problem with parking a 33ft RV in towns is actually being able to get parked in the town. Not here, big up for Stratford District Council for a forward thinking and most considerate approach to touring folk, yep, that'll be folk like us. They had set aside a whole section of the towns leisure centre car park, just for Motorhomes, and as a bonus, we only had to pay for one space. That's really good because we take up three and can't really park within the lines, all things that would ordinarily land us a fine. But not here, we joined ten or so others of all shapes and sizes, parked up and made off to explore the town.
Ah what a beautiful town this is, Tudor Buildings complimented by a modern, locked marina full of colourful long boats and equally colourful and oh so friendly people. That's why we like waterside stop overs; boat people are lovely and always like a chat. Once they hear what we’re doing they really open up and accept us into their community as like-minded travellers. You can't
have boats without a river and this without doubt a beautiful town section of the River Avon. Parks, Locks and Shakespears Church and final resting place, not forgetting of course the all-important Theatre. Time was getting on so it was back to the RV for some supper and watch a bit of telly. Yep let’s leave the lights on too and see how the solars cope the next day. Night Night...
It was a bright start to the day, so we set off for a walk around the old part of town and give the Sun time to get acquainted with our new roof toys. After a spot of lunch it was back and on the road again. Ah I nearly forgot, yep fully charged by lunch time, brilliant we really have it nailed now, but where to next? Actually, just up the road and a stopover in the car park of Warwick Race Course.
I visited Warwick as a child and now can't imagine why I've never been back. It's well worth the trip, the town is lovely although if want to visit the castle you'd best get here early. It was a lovely walk
around the racecourse too which is open to the public just don't let your poop on the course... Lyd was particularly interested din Lord Leicester’s Hospital, a wonderful old yet still working establishment. Ok so it's now been four days away from home and we've been so wrapped up in the freedom of the Solars, we made a massive School Boy error. The worse thing ever, when you half soaped in the shower and you hear the unmistakable sound of an empty water pump. Yep Day Four is water fill day, and we hadn't. Soapy wasn't the worst of it, if we didn't do something we'd not be able to have a cuppa in the morning, things were looking desperate. Normally we fill up at pubs or on the HGV stand at petrol stations but we just didn't really want to move just for that. Across the car park I noticed the lights on in what looked like some kind of social club, that'll do I thought. Armed with my bright red watering can, an emergency lesson from an earlier trip, I wandered over and knocked politely on the door. I was greeted by an elderly, slightly tipsy chap with
a pool cue in his hand. I explained our plight and with the usual interest in our oversized accommodation, he invited me in. It was a old time club, women in one room playing Bingo and the men in another playing pool and watching the footie. My new friend grabbed my can and hurried behind the bar with it. "I'll have ice and lemon in that please" I called, which raised a titter. Back he came with a full can asking me to promise not to tell the secretary as it was against health and hygiene. I promised and left very grateful for their help. So now we have 7.5 litres, less some spillage, to last till morning, I didn't want to bother the club for another can so that would have to do. At first light, well kind of, Lyd was up and out to give the Dogs a run round the race track. Whilst I was keen to see how they got on over the sticks, I needed to sort the water shortage. As luck would have it a builder arrived to do some work on an old storage unit, he opened a flap on a stand pipe
right in the corner of the car park. This was great news, he let me pull right next to it so I connected our hose and brimmed the tanks before Lyd finished the Final Furlong. "Use it any time you're here mate" he said. People are just so friendly and helpful, more so the further north we travel.
Carry on for the next installment of the Solar Test Trip...
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