One year on ....

Saturday 26/7/2104

A year ago today we were in Greece spending the weekend parked up alongside shipwreck beach near Gythio. We were planning our route back to the UK and wondering what 'direction' we would be heading in next.

Link to post about Shipwreck beach

Much as we would have loved to carry on traveling the money was running out and we needed to get earning again. Once back in the UK Dave began working for Queen Mary Sailing Club teaching dinghy, windsurf and power-boating again. I started temping for an estate agents - a two week contract that lasted two months. Over the winter we both worked for Sail & Ski - a small independent shop in Shrewsbury, Dave on the shop floor selling and me in the back office dealing with internet orders. It was an interesting few months!!

In the new year we broke all ties with our campervan life when we sold the van and bought an MG sports car - talk about going from one extreme to the other! We put the van on Ebay with a 'Best Offer' and within 36 hours it was sold and being driven away by a lovely couple who were upgrading from an older Autoroller model. They were delighted with it and had plans to take it abroad - although we gathered France was as far as they were venturing. When we have saved up enough for our next trip we'll buy another van but in the meantime we couldn't have chosen a better car for the fantastic weather we're enjoying in the UK this year....

We have been living a bit of a nomadic life since moving down to London, spending part of it with Sue and Will in Surbiton and part of it looking after some friends house in Laleham, overlooking the Thames. I've lost count of the number of BBQ's we've had out in the garden watching the world float by in all manner of craft. Next month we re-join the rat-race and start renting a flat in Weybridge, Owen will be living with us as he starts a short term intern placement within a Graphic Design studio in central London.

Jobs-wise I spent some time working for Surrey Council in a temporary role and am now at Kingston Hospital on a fixed term contract for 1 year. In September I want to enrol on a Level 3 NVQ Patisserie and Confectionery course in Richmond College which will hopefully enable me to head off in another career direction. It's something I've always wanted to do and maybe take my hobby/passion to another level. I've always enjoyed cake decorating and earlier this year I made one for some friends in the shape of their VW campervan!
Link to Kath's cake blog - VW cake post
So as you see there's no getting away from campervans, you see them everywhere - out on the roads heading off on adventures or parked up on driveways, and part of me wishes we were still on the beach in Greece without a care in the world!

Every picture tells a story

Sunday 17 November 2013

I mentioned in a previous post about photographs not seeing the light of day in the modern digital world and I am really pleased I invested in a photobook of our journey. Twice over the last couple of months I have had reason to search through two huge boxes crammed full of photographs from the early 60's when I was little up to the mid 90's when our children were young. Now the majority of our photographs are stored digitally and searching through them isn't half as much fun.

Parked up near a Liteace van in Greece in July 2013
Whilst sorting through the boxes I came across some photographs of  'campervans' we have owned or used on previous trips and took the opportunity to scan them for this blog post. Our current van looks huge in comparison - we haven't sold it yet, it is stored for the winter and may become our London 'home' as it looks as though that is where we will be working next year!

So here they are........ first the Toyota Liteace van we bought in Sydney in 1990 and travelled about 7000 miles up the east coast of Australia and back down through the Outback before selling it for a slight profit. We 'kitted' it out on a real budget and slept on a thin piece of foam - we were young then!!

On the same trip in 1990 we hired a van for a couple of weeks in New Zealand and clocked up as many miles as we could in the short time we had visiting both the North and South Islands. The scenery was absolutely stunning - snow capped mountains, amazing glaciers, deep gorges, huge waterfalls, thermal springs........

A few years later, in the mid 90's back in the UK, when the lads were young we bought an ex-British Rail maintenance van which was partly fitted out for the 'crew' to live in. Dave fitted extra seats with 3-point belts and more storage cupboards so the 4 of us could enjoy touring in the UK. The lads loved it - our neighbours weren't so keen!!

Happy memories!  

The cost of living (the dream) - £13 a day!

Wednesday 21 August 2013

In hindsight I should have kept better records of our spending like other motorhomers have done. It would have made the task of working out the cost of our trip a bit easier. So it took a little time to trawl through bank statements, my FairFX prepaid card payments and my daily diary to come up with a rough 'ball park' figure of what our 265 days and 14,000 miles adventure cost us - and that figure is £7000.

Having picked myself up off the floor I worked out that it equates to just over £13 a day each or 25p each per mile. That includes fuel, ferries, food, attractions and our overnight stops which sounds a lot more reasonable - doesn't it?

Before leaving we followed 'Europebycamper' a young couples blog and their daily costs for 324 days on the road worked out at £14.41 each a day. The 'OurTour' couple whose blog we also followed have been on the road for a whopping 680 days and have kept amazingly detailed records of their trip which (if I've worked it out right) has cost them an average of £19.70 each a day.

On top of the money we spent on the trip there were a few expenses to shell out for before we left including insurance for the van (and us) as well as the costs of running our little home in the UK (council tax, telephone, internet, power etc) while we were away.

Worth every penny for views and days like this....

So the bank account is empty, my Premium Bonds haven't come up whilst we were away and the girlies and I didn't win the lottery in May. Whilst spring/summer cleaning the house on our return I hoovered under the sofa cushions and only found 7p which isn't going to go far. So what next, where next.......that's what we need to work out and pretty damn quick! I'm toying with the idea of keeping a blog on settling back into life in the UK, the options we are faced with, searching for work and turning 50 - it may or may not make interesting reading! I hope to put up one final post on this particular blog with the best of the photographs from our trip so excuse me while I start trawling through 7500 photographs......

"Everyone has a book inside them"

........ and in my case it is a Jessops Photobook!

I'm really pleased with the result and, instead of our photos remaining on a hard drive for ever with only a select few being printed off and gathering dust in frames, we now have a beautiful glossy hardback book with 34 colourful pages as a permanent reminder of our 15000 mile journey.

It's my own personal coffee-table book. When the UK weather, boredom of 9 - 5 or frustration at spiralling living costs are getting me down I can pick it up, remember our fantastic trip and start dreaming about the next one. Family and friends can flip through it if they are interested.

I  spent the best part of two weeks sifting through all 7500 of our photographs picking the best dozen or so from each country we visited. The software is easy to download from the Jessops website and each page can be formatted differently with as few or as many photographs as you want. Information can be added with text boxes and there are numerous background styles as well as the facility to use a photograph as a background.There are a number of options on the book size, cover choices and quality of the pages. I chose a hardback A4 landscape with 34 pages of premium photographic paper.

Taking advantage of a £10 introductory offer the final cost (including delivery) was £41. It wasn't cheap and I have to admit to having been quite anxious pressing the 'Submit and order' button wondering what the finished product would look like. It was back within a week and I needn't have worried - the quality is fantastic and everyone that has looked at it has been really impressed.

The full quote by the late Christopher Hitchens is actually ....'Everyone has a book inside them, which is exactly where I think it should, in most cases, remain' ........ I have no intention of writing a book of our travels - this is as close as I'll get to publishing anything!