Showing posts from December, 2010

Parties and Packing

We have had a fabulous Christmas. On the day we were at Frankie and Harry’s lovely new home in Hoddesden with Janice & Paul, Frankie’s other parents. On Christmas morning, one of the presents under the tree for Frankie was an engagement ring! There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. We walked/slid/skated to The Rye House on the Lea & Stort Navigation for a celebratory drink with Harry’s family, (and a quick narrowboat fix for us, it’ll be a long time before we see another one!) then Dave and Paul did a cheffing double act in the kitchen and we all sat down to a perfect Beef Wellington with all the trimmings.

On Boxing Day we drove up to Stamford where Bourne Borderers were performing. If we thought we would only be spectating we were very much mistaken. Mikey turned up with all our kit and despite not having practiced for months we threw ourselves in with gusto. Ann-Marie slipped effortlessly into her role and remembered what to do, Dave demonstrated how senility and time don'…

Welcome Home

Our first taste of England after 3 months was a bit of a let-down to be honest. After a rather dreary drive from Dover in the drizzle we arrived at Karen’s with hardly a glimpse of the snow that everyone’s been making such a fuss about. We’ve seen newsreels with reporters standing knee deep beside abandoned cars, but to us it looked like any wet winter Thursday. Once we got to Mytchett it all got a lot better; Ann-Marie’s Mum and Dad came over for the evening and we had proper fish & chips. It’s good to be back.

We started our tour of friends and relations on Friday. First stop Portsmouth for two nights with Fran & Sean. Rather than carting a load of stuff into people’s houses, we’re parking the van outside their houses and sleeping in it. The snugness of our little home was proved on Friday night; we woke up to find that it wasn’t a conspiracy after all; a good four inches had come down overnight and we were as warm as toast.
After a snowball fight and with Harry and Phoebe we…

Driving our home for Christmas.

It’s Ann-Marie’s Birthday, we’re sitting at the front of the ferry and we can’t see out of the window for the spray that’s being thrown all over it.
Ken did us proud and blasted his way up through France, the only hiccup being one of his windscreen wipers getting a case of brewer’s droop on the last leg towards Calais. On the driver’s side. In the rain. In the dark. On a dual carriageway.

We’ve not heard a weather forecast for 3 or 4 days, but we’re quite prepared for it to be horrible. We’re staying at Karen’s near Basingstoke tonight so as long as the southern motorways are clear enough we should be OK.

We’ll put some statistics together when we get a chance. You know, lists of things.

Heading for the Channel

We've said goodbye to what has been our most permanent residence since we sold our house. Over the last six months we’ve spent 3 ½ weeks in this spot in southern France.
On Saturday morning our mates got back from the UK with tales of house-high snow piles and pack ice on the roads. It sounds hideous; we can't wait to get back. On Monday afternoon we put all our clutter back in Ken (The van has finally got a name; Kenwood - as in Chef. We think he looks like one.) and after hugs, tears and promises of boating holidays next year, we set off, all-be-it slowly towards Calais.

This trip has been amazing in ways that we could never have dreamed of, but we miss England.

Since we left work and set off on this adventure every new day has given us chance to wonder at the diversity of what we’ve found around us. We’ve tried to make the most of every opportunity and we don’t regret a single minute of any of it. It has been a journey of extremes; from the joy of seeing dozens of beautiful …

Deep and Crisp and Even.

At the beginning of December, Britain was hit by winter weather conditions so severe that the whole country ground to a halt. Temperatures as low as -21deg were recorded, along with several feet of snow cutting off whole communities and stranding millions of people. Thousands of abandoned cars, closed airports and cancelled trains and buses wreaked havoc among the travelling public.

We were dog-sitting at our friends house while they went to visit their children; they didn’t get back for six days.

It was Hell.

Last Sunday we all went in Jacqui & Al’s green and white 2CV Dolly over the department border to Gers and the village of St Clair. There was a Christmas market and the Citroen 2CV Club from that area were holding their Christmas meeting as well. The turnout was very impressive, dozens of cars and a big hall with lots of new and second-hand spare parts.
The market was good as well, there were lots of festive stalls and we managed to find a couple of Christmas presents.

In …

Time Out,

We've been watching Sky news and thanking our lucky stars we aren't living in our van in England. You guys have had it rough! We hope our reader is coping and managing to get where you need to be. We’re thinking of you. It was Dave's birthday yesterday, he got a new pen-knife. The UK got 3' of snow. We got back at Jacqui & Al's place in France without anything going bang or grinding to a halt; in the past two days Dave and Al have had the van’s gearbox out and back in, they’ve taken the clutch to bits, greased the mechanism and re-assembled it, they’ve taken a drive-shaft to bits and fitted a new gaiter, they’ve tightened the alternator belt and put a fresh dose of antifreeze in the radiator . The water tanks are all drained so they don’t freeze, Ann-Marie’s written all our Christmas cards and sorted our clothes into piles for taking and leaving and we’re getting ready to head back to Calais. We’ve got everything crossed that the weather in England will improve…