Friday 26 June 2015

Time at Home

England, January to April 2015

After arriving home at the end of January because of Matt’s PhD commitments, our plan was to spend a few weeks with family whilst Matt finished his work, and then get the van sorted and be on the road again around the beginning of March.  However, the timescale for getting his PhD responsibilities sorted took longer than anticipated as well as making the time
for various other tasks and jobs that needed taking care of whilst we were home, so for February, March and part of April, we were in the UK.

We didn’t keep track of the majority of our expenditure during this time as it wasn’t technically part of our trip, unless it was something directly travel related (e.g. van maintenance, filling up on LPG, restocking food etc.).

During this time we made the following fixes and changes to our van and load:

  • We had an auto electrician check out a problem with the van rear lighting – thankfully this was an easy fix at around £40.  We also had to take the van to Carlisle to fix a glow plug that had corroded, which was giving us problems starting the engine in the cold.
  • We got an MOT done in the last week so that we wouldn’t have to worry about having to come back to the country to have it done while we were away (as this would have been due in August).
  • We emptied everything out of the van to get the vehicle base weight from a weighbridge.  It turns out the vehicle was heavier than expected, so every item we put back inside the van was weighed and recorded in a spreadsheet to make sure we were under 3.5 tonnes.
  • Matt ditched the roof box we were using to store his windsurf masts in and replaced it with a pipe tube bought on eBay and fitted it right before we left, to aid in aerodynamics to increase our MPG and to gain another 12kg or so for our payload.  We also swapped his windsurf board for a smaller, lighter second hand board.
  • We replaced the 7kg gas bottle for the Cadac with smaller gas canisters, gaining several more kg of payload.
  • We swapped our old bikes for some lighter, aluminium second hand bikes purchased via eBay, gaining 7kg of payload.  Well overdue in my case, as I was still using was the same bike I had when I was ten years old…
  • We replaced the falling apart camping chairs with some better quality ones, as well as making a few other purchases of items we didn’t have the first time around that would make our lives significantly easier whilst away (e.g. a clothes airer, more hose fittings, a WiFi signal booster, atlas, maps & travel guides, LHD headlights)

Whilst we needed to visit Carlisle we made a trip out of it and had a couple of nights in the Lake District. We had a nice days walking near Ullswater and freecamped at a couple of spots I’d found online before we left (see blog post 009a A Detour to the Lakes for more info on this).

When Matt’s work was finally finished and the motorhome was ready to go, we booked our ferry for a couple of days later, finished our remaining tasks and then filled up our cupboards with some supplies that we knew we wouldn’t be able to find as easily abroad, including baked beans, squash, various herbs and spices, British sausages, and that oh-so-important parting block of cheddar cheese.

Parking at Dover Esplanade
En route to Dover we called to see Matt’s school friends, Ollie and Helen who’d just had a new baby, although unfortunately missed Ollie as he’d just gone back to work that day. After an evening spent relaxing in the car park that is known as the M25 on a Friday, we arrived in Dover around dinner time and spent our final night parked up on Dover Esplanade (GPS N 51.12019, E 1.31302) next to a French camper, assumedly also waiting for the morning ferry.  It may have taken us significantly longer than planned to get out of the country, but we were finally ready to be on our way again, with no real idea when the next time would be that our van saw British soil.

And so it begins (again).
- Jo

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