Wednesday, 28 July 2010

We're travelling - relatively.

It really feels like we’re on a journey now. We’ve handed over the keys to our last car so now it’s just us and a van bimbling round the country. Actually “Bimbling” doesn’t quite describe the meticulously planned and precisely executed military operation that we’ve undertaken in the last week.
From Yorkshire we went to Glen and Steve’s near Wisbech for a couple of nights so that Ann-Marie could go to her last practice with Pig Dyke and we could pick the car up. On Tuesday, with Dave in the Kon-Tiki and Ann-Marie in the Berlingo we carried on down to Hoddesden via a timber yard, to see Frankie & Harry and have a look at the house that they’re buying.
 It’s a smashing two bed maisonette with a car port and a roof garden. It’ll be perfect for them and it’s only a 10 minute walk from the Lea & Stort navigation, so we can visit!
We left there on Wednesday and went to Ann-Marie’s sister’s house in Mytchett to drop the car off along with a load of timber we’d been carrying around for the porch that Dave will be building for Karen when we return. We stayed on Ann-Marie’s parent’s driveway in Fleet till Friday. (Two wash loads and an Anniversary meal out. Thank you Carole & Pete, it was lovely!) Then on to Ross on Wye to see John & Camilla, stopping at a spray shop in Stroud to pick up a bike frame for Dave’s sister Kate. We had a walk through Ross and a couple of pints in a very nice pub alongside the river before settling down to a relaxing evening round the BBQ.
On Saturday we joined the rest of the country on the M5, eventually arriving at a beautiful campsite near Bude in Cornwall, where around 40 of Dave’s relatives have gathered from all over the world to celebrate Aunty Margot’s 80th birthday.
We’re having a fantastic time here; able to spend time chatting to people we normally only get to see fleetingly. We’ll be here till Saturday morning when we carry on down Cornwall to Penzance with Anne & Ben and Anne’s bike on board.

Next week it’s Sidmouth folk festival, but at least we’re at the right end of the country for a change.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Steaming around Yorkshire

Ann-Marie finished work last Friday; she's been there for six years and made some very good friends that we'll both miss. It was a day of mixed emotions; she's loved working for the family and  farm but it's the final cord that attached us to "normal" life". We're now both jobless & homeless and we don't know how we ever had time to go to work.
We had a terrific time in Keighley with David, Katie, Emma & Matt and their georgeous children. We went on a steam train on the Keighley Worth Valley Railway and walked up the main street (The Hovis Hill).
On Saturday evening we were treated to one of Katie's amazing dinners. We've arranged to meet Katie & David in France and we're really looking forward to it. Thank you guys for everything.
We're now back in Lincolnshire for a couple of days before heading down to see Ann-Marie's sister in Surrey.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

9th Wedding Anniversary

Apparently we’re financially inactive. We don’t know who came up with that one.

Last weekend we were in Ely, one of our favourite places.
Not just because of the folk festival, although that was brilliant, but because we feel at home there. Ely manages to mix the grandeur of a Cathedral City with the homeliness of a busy market town and then chucks in an idyllic waterfront for good measure. We had a fantastic time at the festival, all our favourites were there; Harvey Andrews, Les Barker, Colvin Quarmby, The Oysterband and The Woodshed Band. We were surrounded by our bestest friends all weekend and they made us feel really special.

We took Ann-Marie’s car with us to Ely; the chap who was buying it came up from Kent on the train and we did the deal in Tesco’s car park.  Don’t tell them; they’ll want commission.
We went to have a chat with the bank about investments on Monday morning; thank you Kevin, you understood what we wanted and were most helpful. We took the laptop into town and had a go at getting connected in Starbucks. After a couple of false starts we got it sorted so we know we’ll be online a couple of times a week at the very least. We had a wander down to the river and got our narrowboat fix then came back to the camp site in the afternoon. On the way home we stopped at Salter’s Lode to have a look at the lock.
This is where the Middle Level joins the tidal Great Ouse, half a mile upstream is Denver Sluice where the Great Ouse becomes non-tidal. We’ll be going through here to get from the canals to Ely, Cambridge and Bedford when we come this way again.

When we got back we had dinner and Ann-Marie went off to a Pig Dyke practice in the evening.  Inactive? We don’t think so.

Last night we went to say goodbye to our friend Keef, tonight we’re off to our last Bourne Borderers do, tomorrow night is Ann-Marie’s leaving party from work, then on Friday we pull pins and head off up to Yorkshire for the weekend before… well, we’ll tell you all about it as we go.

Inactive? Hardly.

Lists. Well, we’d still like to paint the mirror arms, but that’s about…oh, and the cupboard doors all want new handles and vents, but otherwise….. oh, and we want to turn the hob round and put some edging round the floor, but apart from that….

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

To Wales in a van and don't forget your Nan.

It’ll come as no surprise to learn that it’s been an odd week since we moved out; we’re living in the van so it feels like we should be on holiday, but we’re still working, all-be-it for a short while. Very strange.

It’s been a good week though, Richard and Jill’s wedding was fantastic.
We started off in Wrexham Registry Office and ended up upstairs at the Bridge Inn at Llangollen. In keeping with the Wood party tradition it was very friendly, very loud and very informal, and it had all the usual “Doesn’t he look like…” and “last time I saw you, you… had hair / were this high / were drunk / made a pass at me". There were lots of Ausies there too; including two of Dave’s cousins that he’s never met before. We told them we’ll be coming over in November, so they’ll probably change all the locks when they get back. The entertainment for the evening was provided by ‘Sound of the Sirens’ (Guitar & vocals - 2nd cousin Hannah Wood, Manager & sound mixer - cousin John Wood,). They were stunning, naturally. It was great to see everyone at such a happy occasion and we’re really excited about our visit down under.

We took Dave’s sister Anne and her son Ben with us and they stayed in the west wing (ie. the make up bed at the back of the van) over night while we were parked outside cousin Phillipa’s house. We all piled into the house for breakfast and then made our way back to Lincolnshire via Chesterfield.

Moving house is supposed to be one of the most stressful and traumatic things you can do. We wouldn’t know, we’ve never really done it properly. When we moved into number three we had a month’s overlap from the cottage we were renting and when we moved out we sold or gave away 90% of our stuff and drove off. We’ve quite enjoyed the whole thing. We particularly enjoyed Sunday night; we went out for an Indian with our neighbours (ex neighbours), John, Jenny, Adam, Jim & Cathy, and their new neighbours Pete, Michelle & Joe.
 It was a smashing farewell do and it confirmed what we’ve know all along; we sold No3 to the right people. Thank you guys for everything and we hope you have as happy a time together as we had.

There are still 5 ½ things on the last list, but Dave’s new hobby seems to be ‘reading a book on a sun-lounger’. Hmmm.

Friday, 2 July 2010

The End Of An Era

On Wednesday morning Dave walked into the estate agent and handed over the keys to No3. We are now officially homeless. We spent our first night as travellers four miles down the road on a very peaceful and quiet camp site. We’re going to be here until the 16th which is when Ann-Marie finishes work. Then we begin our travels for real.
That’s not to say the next two weeks are going to be stationary, oh no; this weekend we’re off to llangollelloggogogg to join in the celebrations surrounding Dave’s cousin Richard’s wedding to the lovely Jill. We’ve been looking forward to it for ages, it’s going to be a brilliant do. Plus we’ll get to catch up with all the Woods, and hopefully get to have a chat with Uncle Michael from Australia about the best way to see as much of Aus as possible in two months.

The weekend after that we’re going to the Ely Folk Festival. This will be our third year at what we reckon is the best festival of the lot. It’s just big enough to have a good atmosphere without feeling like a cattle drive. We’d like to celebrate our wedding anniversary there every year and, as Ely has a river running through it, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t.

Although we are obviously listless as far as the house is concerned (and yes, we crossed it all off), we’ve now got a new one; Things That Need Doing in the Van. There are 9 things on it and Dave has got 11 days before we set off from here.
Can we do it? We’ll have to wait and see!

Thank you to all the people who sent us messages of encouragement, we'll try and get back to all of you individualy when life becomes a little less manic.

Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. Stourbridge Canal. BCN. Grand Union Canal. Kinver to Kixley Wharf

There are 25 locks from Hyde Corner to Merry Hill, but we had a fabulous day working up through them all. The Stourton and ...