Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

199809 England

Tuesday 1 September 1998  Rain in the night and a damp drizzly morning.  Begin to tackle the list of jobs but the washing has to be ignored.  I walk down town to make a start on the "business" jobs and manage to make some progress although none of the jobs I set out to do can be completed.  It starts to pour with rain and the bus stop I am heading for has had the shelter destroyed so I decided to carry on walking and spend the bus fare on a fresh cream coffee meringue.  Arrive back like a drowned rat but appreciate being able to have a hot bath at Sandra’s.  Sandra, Richard and Sharon with their daughter Lauren and new baby Kieran join us in the van for a meal in the evening.
Wednesday 2 September  Our social calendar is filling up, most evenings are now booked and we have something to do each day.  How did we ever find time to work?  We both walk down town and split up to try and get more jobs done.  Steve meets David outside the Bank but unfortunately nothing has changed and he needs money again and doesn’t like being refused.  After our meeting with the Bank Manager we walk back to Sandra’s together.  We are shocked to see David inside the van and can’t understand how he has got in but soon see he has broken in.  We are furious and phone the Police which angers David.  He runs into the road and gets hit by a car but gets up and nearly gets hit by a lorry before running off into the fields.  The Police and Ambulance arrive and a Police search is set up with dogs and a Helicopter.  It is just awful and probably one of the worst moments of our lives.  He has been drinking in the van and thrown a drawer at the front windscreen and cracked it.  Claire and Daz were coming to tea so have to be told but Claire comes over anyway.  They eventually catch him, his injuries don’t need hospital treatment but he has blood from the broken glass of the van door and barbed wire in the fields. We spend the rest of the evening making statements, having forensic in the van and just feeling totally distraught.   After 10pm the Police phone to say David has pleaded guilty and been released on bail to appear in court in about 3 months.
Thursday 3 September   Spend half the night talking and the rest not sleeping and wandering what to do.  We don’t feel it is fair to stay on Sandra’s drive as we have already caused her a lot of  trouble.  Get up early to asses the damage now that we have calmed down.  Into Keighley where the glass firm say they can cut us a piece of glass to fit the door window and it will be ready this evening.  The door frame can be bent back into shape and one of the two locks still work but we have problems trying to get the other one mended and have to leave it for now.  Autoglass need us to go to Bradford to get the windscreen measured.  Claire and Daniel come with us , the little fellow is getting more used to us.  We will have to return next week for the windscreen and we can’t get a new lock anywhere.   Drop Claire off and then drive up at Newsholme Manor CL near Oakworth.  Steve goes out to bowling and at 10.30pm Sandra calls for me.  We join the bowling lads for a Balti and don’t return until after 1.00am.  Think we must be jinxed as the Balti has given us both upset stomachs and we have another sleepless night.
Friday 4 September  Steve has an appointment at the Bradford hospital to get his broken finger seen to.  He has  borrowed Claire’s car but has to take her to work first.  Our friend Ray comes to Newsholme to jack the van up as we are having the brake discs skimmed today.  The land is too soft so I have to drive to the garage.  Charlie is jacked up and when Ray sees the size of the disc he thinks it is too big for the engineers machine.  Steve arrives back and says the hospital appointment was not for his finger but for a rash on his face and to get it put right he will need treatment over a 1 year period – no chance.   Steve takes the disc but comes back with it as it can’t be done at that particular place.   Another firm may be able to do it but we have to call back later.  Back down town to try and sort out more business problems but without success.  Over to Bingley to collect Claire from work then back to Keighley.  No joy with the other Keighley firm and whilst we were out someone noticed that one of the brake shoes is cracked and we need to replace them also.  Find a company in Bradford who can help so drop Claire off and drive to Bradford to drop of the disc to be skimmed tomorrow and collect new brake shoes and pads.  We feel like we don’t know if we are coming or going.  The van is on jacks so we are homeless.  Sandra has arranged for us to go for a BBQ in the evening and she very kindly offers to accommodate us as well – what a little treasure.
Saturday 5 September  Up and out early to collect Claire and take her to work.  The discs are ready in Bradford and by mid afternoon we are mobile once again but our bank balance has taken a hammering.  Investigate another CL nearer to Claire’s before collecting her from work.  Steve and Daz go down to the pub to watch the football on the big screen.  Rod and Nancy have invited us to their house in Wilsden for a meal so we drive over and park outside.  Traditional Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding goes down a treat.
Sunday 6 September  Nancy spoils us with a full cooked breakfast before we head out to Ash Grove farm on Lees Moor.  Superb views over Cullingworth and we are the only campers on the field that we share with Chickens and Peacocks surrounded by fields of sheep and horses.    Steve enjoys ploughing through the Sunday Times whilst I catch up on letter writing etc.  Claire, Daz and Daniel join us for a BBQ in the evening.  Daniel is fascinated by the animals expecially the horse in the adjoining field.  The chickens become a nuiscence when we are eating and Daz throws them some scraps.  We are eating chicken wings but they seem only too pleased to knaw on the bones!  Better collect the bones after or the farmer will think something has killed one of his brood.
Monday 7 September  Claire drops Daniel at nursery and calls for us. We drop her off at work and return to "house sit" whilst the central heating is installed.  We have volunteered to do a few odd jobs so I get cracking putting tiles above the kitchen worktops and Steve paints the ceiling.  In the evening  Joan and Keith whom we met last year in Hungry come to visit us.  The are going to spend winter at El Portus naturist site in Spain and then plan to fly to American and buy a motorhome there.
Tuesday 8 September  Damp drizzly morning.  Drive up to Claire’s and then Steve takes her to work and then drives on to Autoglass.  The van is too high to fit inside the garage and it is raining too much for them to fit the new windscreen outside.    He returns to Claires to help with more decorating.  Brighter in the afternoon so back to Bradford for the windscreen to be fitted.  David phones in the afternoon and Steve meets him in Keighley.  His problems are still the same but he apoligises to us and Steve agrees to meet him tomorrow outside the job centre.
Wednesday 9 September  Up to Claires to continue decorating whilst Steve takes her to work and then meets David.   He returns at lunch time having secured David a job starting Friday and made a bit of headway on our other tasks but very little is completely finished.  We need to sort out our banking and tax affairs before leaving for America but the Bank, Solicitor, Tax Office, Accountant and our financial adviser Barry in Turkey cannot seem to co-ordinate efforts and reach an agreement on our status.  We keep chasing our tales from one to another as if we don’t follow things up time slips by with nothing being done.  The new seat cushions for the van are at least ready and actually fit although Steve is not convinced that the £50 we have paid for them is worth it, instead of being so soft that you could feel the hard board underneath they are now so firm that they feel hard!      Claire and Daz return from work and take Daniel up to Nanna Sheilas so that we can crack on with the work.  Claire wanted to take us out for a meal for our Wedding Anniversary and Steve’s Birthday but we are pushed for time and enjoy a Chinese take away instead.  Steve is Glossing, Claire painting the lounge ceiling, me the lounge walls and Daz and his brother plastering the holes left where the gas appliances have been removed.  We knock off just after 10.00pm exhausted.
Thursday 10 September  Leave Steve putting the second coat on the lounge ceiling whilst I go with Claire to look after Daniel whilst she has an interview in Bradford.  Daniel has just got used to us and we have fun singing songs  and playing together.  He is so cute we will really miss him.  Back for lunch and then while Claire takes Daniel swimming Steve finishes Glossing up the stairs and I paint the walls.  By 4.00pm everything is looking much better and we feel like we have re lived the nighmare of decorating Salters Hall to a deadline – never again.  Head over to Preston to park up at Peters ready for work on the van tomorrow. 
 Friday 11 September   Peter gets cracking on the van and the 30,000 mile service causes no problems.  The rest of the odd jobs get done so at last we feel we are making progress.  Peter and Heather  are going to a 60’s, 70’s and 80’s disco in the evening and they invite us along.  The village hall setting takes us back a few years (do all village halls look the same?) and we enjoy a buffet and some dancing.  It’s nice to recognise and enjoy the music as we have not re tuned ourselves to the new stuff on the radio.
Saturday 12 September  Call at Sainsbury’s to use the Nat West ATM and get some diesel.  The machine is broken but apparently for each purchase on Switch I can get £50 cash back.  The sign showing cans of Pepsi reduced from £1.99 to 99p inspires me – the till shows £1.99.  I show the poster to the supervisor who says the offer is finished and the poster shouldn’t be there however if I go to customer services they will do a voucher and refund the £1 overcharge.  Half  an hour later we set off down the M6 to the accompaniment of hail stones bouncing on the roof.  Westcroft Motorhomes in Wolverhampton have a second hand working door lock to replace our broken one so we call to collect it.  There are two key holes in the part but only one key so it is absolutely useless!  Over to Telford where we easily locate Netty and Alan’s new home in Horsehay and park on the Foresters car park.  Stacey is just off to a friends for a sleep over and Stuart arrives later.  Spend the afternoon at their house chatting and move to the pub in the evening.  Lisa and Mick join us for a good evening of reminiscing.  Once again we are taken back a few years when Lauren comes into the pub with boyfriend in tow – and leaves later than us!
Sunday 13 September  Our 23rd Wedding Anniversary (Netty and David’s 18th) , doesn’t time fly.  A cooked breakfast at Netty’s gets us off to a good start.  Over to Market Drayton to the Spooners.  Steve goes to Bridgnorth with David and the lads for the Tigers football match.  In the afternoon Netty has arranged a family get together with a BBQ but didn’t realise that our BBQ is only really for 2 people or 4 at a push and not for 24!   It goes down well with Netty cooking some of the food in the oven.
Monday 14 September  Over to our usual spot on the Swimming Bath’s car park.  Walk up town with Mum and get a few odd jobs done.  Mum and John  join us for an evening meal.  Steve decides to contact one of his ex bosses who lives in Drayton and we end up going round to see Mike and Jan.  Memory Lane time again as both Steve and Mike fish out names and incidents going back over 25 years!
Tuesday 15 September  The planned Doctor day (Doolittle) doesn’t look like happening.  Steve tries to speak to people to sort out the van door lock and I attack Mum’s cellar.   We have finally decided to be a bit more ruthless in clearing out our old clothes which already look dated.  A locksmith calls but he is not happy about making a hole in the van door to fit another lock.  He suggests we go back to Westcroft to pick up the other complete fitting so that he can cut a key to fit!  Claire phones with the good news that our American visa has arrived and is dated to 2008.  One hurdle down but many more to go.  In  the evening Steve joins David Spooner watching football whilst I go to Brenda’s for a "Weekender" party.  I  think I have been stitched up when upon arrival I am nominated to be the "model" – well at least not many people know me.  Great mix and match crease free clothes.  The demo shows a small bag full of clothes for someone going on a weekend break but they have a lot to learn as I could have gone away for 3 weeks on that lot!
Wednesday 16 September  Netty Keen comes over and we go into town to look round the market.   Following lunch at Mum’s we drive to Telford to park up by Mavis & Trevor’s.  Speak to the Bank and find out that we cannot proceed any further with the new account until Barry gets back from his internal Turkish holiday a week on Friday.  Start the next stage of our USA tour plans by phoning up to get insurance quotes.  Bad news, the insurance premium is directly related to the state in which you take your test.  (That is not to say state as in drunken but American county)  We must have a contact address in that particular State and not all RV insurance companies insure for every state.  We now have to 1) Find out which East coast states are cheapest for insurance and easiest for taking a driving test   2) Establish a contact in that State  3) Find an RV insurance company to take us on.  Yet another example of how easy life on the road is – not.  After dinner we enjoy a very pleasant evening playing cribbage, drinking and chatting.
Thursday 17 September  Steve spends the morning on the phone and I go shopping with Mavis.  Steve manages to get more contacts for US insurance so we will have an evening with Mick using the E-mail to try and get some rapid responses.  After dinner it’s back to Westcroft to collect the door lock then on to Walsall to visit Jo & Han.  We first met them in Greece last February and as fellow motorhome travellers in their 6th year we have a lot in common.  They are now intending to buy a property in France as a base and do less travelling.  Chat about our plans and they produce an envelope full of information for shipping to America having looked into it themselves.  A magazine article confirms that we must take an American test and warns that the rules change not only in each State but also by the person on the desk at the test centre!  They shipped from Amsterdam (more food for thought) and found insurance fairly easily once there and having passed the test.
Friday 18 September     Not a good night for sleeping.  Milk float 4.00am, Bin men 6.00am.  8.30 am shout in our ear holes "Zoe – get your ass over here now"  in broad and loud Brummie!  Well what should we expect when parked on a Walsall side street.  Yet another cooked breakfast, this time by Han.  We certainly get well fed when we are visiting people in England.  Early afternoon to Lisa and Mick’s at Dawley.  I offer to cook tea and the infamous Chilli Pasta goes down well.  The computer search comes up with quite a few possible insurers but the E-mails are unlikely to be replied to until Monday.   I also make further enquiries of other companies who ship from Holland.  So far the crossing from Southampton to Charleston or Jacksonville is looking favourite but of course things change rapidly in our planning world.  The good thing is that at this time of year you don’t need to pre book a passage and usually sail within a week.  We will fly out immediately to give us the shipping duration to hire a car, take a test and set up insurance before Charlie arrives.
Saturday 19 September  Steve’s 44th Birthday and we hang the Birthday cards over the van windows .  Pop in to see Lisa, Mick and Sian and pick up two negative E-mail replies.  Call at ATS tyres in Oakengates to get the wheels balanced as we have a bit of steering wheel wobble.  £10 + VAT per tyre is a bit of a shock but what is worse is that the problem is not better.  They investigate and think the discs were put back on the wrong side after they were skimmed but we must go back to Ray in Keighley to get that checked out.  We feel like we are jinxed as for every two steps forward we go one back and fork out a lot of money in the process.  Drive to Plough farm nurseries in Newport where we have seen caravans and a motorhome in the car park.  The friendly owners  say it is no problem for us to park there overnight.  Pack our bags for staying at Pete and Carol’s overnight and set off through the adjoining housing estate.  Come to a halt at a fence and double back, the path to the canal is also blocked so we try to find a road out which is not a cul de sac.  Eventually make it onto the Forton Road but then it starts to rain.  It’s Steve’s fault for wearing shorts today.  Pete picks us up after we phone for a lift.  We have a table booked for 8.00pm at "Pete’s" where we have a super meal of Peppered steak and all the trimmings.  Retire on the air bed in the front room where at least we won’t have traffic driving past!
Sunday 20 September  Claire phones to let us know David phoned her last night having been attacked by 3 lads.  There is nothing we can do as we don’t know how bad it was or where he is.  The weather looks good so we opt for a visit to Telford Naturist Club to try and relax and take our minds off things.  Claire calls us at the club to say David is in hospital.  Call the hospital and he speaks to Steve and says he has bruised kidneys but is basically OK.  We arrange to visit him on Tuesday and in a way it is a relief to know he is in good hands at the moment.  Make arrangements to see the locksmith but he can’t fit us in until Tuesday mid morning so we will have to stay in this area tomorrow night as well.  Manage to enjoy a bit of sunbathing until late afternoon when it clouds over.  Steve spends a lot of time watching the Commonwealth games on TV.
Monday 21 September  A dull hazy morning which will hopefully burn off as we had planned to be here until late afternoon.  Make a start giving Charlie a thorough clean and polish with "Mer".  We have to be sure the van is clean when we ship or we get billed for steam cleaning at the other end.  Hopefully by doing a good clean and wax now we can save ourselves a bit of time before we ship and just give it a quick wash over.  Manage to catch a bit of sun during out nude car wash but not where near as good as yesterday.  Spend the evening at Mavis and Trevor’s and speak to David in hospital.  He doesn’t sound too bad at all and is probably enjoying the break.
Tuesday 22 September  Call to check on the cottage in Newport.  Things are looking a bit neglected but we are assured it is just because the Handyman is off sick.  Apparently he has burned himself which doesn’t sound like a very handy thing to do.  The locksmith comes to Market Drayton baths car park but can’t cut a key to fit the lock so we have wasted more time and money and made no progress.  Dinner at Mum’s then up to Yorkshire.  Problems parking at Airedale so I stay in the van whilst Steve goes in.  the car park attendant sympathises with us and says he will try and find us a good spot and that for £2.50 we can stay for 7 days and nights and sleep over in the van.  We have to return in 1 hour after David has had his X-rays.  Upon returning we feel like the Boswells as a space has been coned off for us.  David looks like something out of the mad house with a green hospital gown and slippers and long tartan boxer shorts underneath.  He has died his hair ginger and roams round the hospital gardens smoking!  An X-ray confirms no internal damage and he can leave hospital as soon as he stops passing blood.  His face looks fine but his nose is a bit bumpy.  Claire comes to visit us in the evening and David also joins us in the van.
Wednesday 23 September  The doctor doesn’t do his rounds until afternoon and David is unlikely to be leaving today.  Drive into Keighley to do some shopping and odd jobs and arrange for Claire and Daz to come for tea.  Back to Airedale where David has stopped passing blood and is "let out".  We take him home and then return to park up as it is easier than making other arrangements.  Claire and Daz arrive in separate cars as Daz has just traded his bike in for a Nova.  We have a strange meal using the odds and ends from the freezer as I want to defrost it.  Daniel is good fun and keeps pointing to things and saying "what’s that?"
Thursday 24 September  Drive over to Claire’s early morning as we have volunteered to look after Daniel as Claire is working.  He is as good as gold and keeps Steve entertained whilst I do some odd jobs.  A good opportunity to wash the curtains and bedding from the van.  I speak to Mentors (the agency who are renting Saltershall Cottage), and they apologise for the state it is in and assure me that before they leave they will ask us exactly how we want it decorated, the colour of carpets required etc as they want to leave it perfect.  Can’t say fairer than that.  Barry in Turkey is back and can’t understand why our account problem hasn’t been sorted but assures us it will be today – Steve doesn’t hold out much hope.  In the evening we drive to Rod and Nancy’s at Wilsden.  I stay and chat with Nancy whilst Steve goes to bowling with Rod.  We don’t feel too bad parking outside their house as their neighbour parks two ice cream vans outside his.
Friday 25 September    Back to Keighley to alternate between the various supermarket car parks where you can only park for 2 hours on each.  I try to find another way of sorting the bank problem out but don’t get too far, what a surprise.  Claire and Daniel join us for lunch.  Steve has finally found a solicitor who understands company law and comes back to tell me we have an appointment at 4.00.  I meet the solicitor and she thinks she can help but charges £120 + VAT per hour and it will probably take 2 hours to sort out.   Are we throwing good money after bad or what?  Park outside Claire’s for the night and treat them to Chilli pasta.  I bet Karen and John wish they had patented the recipe.
Saturday 26 September   A dull misty cold morning.  Daz is working so I leave Steve in bed whilst I look after Daniel.  Claire goes out to do a work out at the gym.  Steve finally gets up at dinner time and we decided to "treat" ourselves to a couple of nights on a campsite with hook up etc.  Bingley site is very nice and we set up stall only to find a couple of hours later that we have no TV reception.  Having travelled for 18 months without it we are a bit annoyed to find that having planned a weekend of festering watching Telly and taping films we can’t do it.  Move on to Brown Bank caravan park at Silsden.  There are quite a few other people staying but they have all come for the final heat of the British mountain bike championships.  It is to be held near here tomorrow morning so we may take a look.  A miserable day followed by a very cold night for which we are grateful to have the electric for the heater.
Sunday 27 September  The poor people in their tents look frozen this morning, scuttling around packing everything away.  A man comes round the site in a car tooting his horn.  Steve buys the Times and plans a day of reading.  He is disappointed shortly after to find half the paper and magazines missing.  Claire, Daz and Daniel roll up later and we all go to watch the bikers.  More skilful than riveting as they seem to use their bikes like pogo sticks to jump around the course.  Daniel doesn’t have his pushchair and takes great delight in hurling himself down the slopes.  Enjoy an evening watching TV and taping films on video. 
Monday 28 September  I give myself a very rude awakening in the early hours, climbing down the ladder (to get out of bed) it starts to slip and falls into the cab.  I slither down ungracefully catching my hip on the back of the seat and landing in a heap.  Steve thinks I have fallen out of bed and is most concerned.  Apart from shock and bruises no major problems but we must find a better way to secure the ladder.  Leave the site mid morning and go to Morrisons car park so that we can tackle a few jobs.  The solicitor has had no response from the Bahamas so we must play the waiting game again.  Steve is still belly aching that the foam in the cushions is no good and as bad as the stuff we had in before.  I speak to the woman at the Market.  It seems we have been supplied with yellow foam whereas I ordered the top quality one which is blue.  the problem is that it was her Mum who took the order and the price she quoted me was for the yellow foam and the blue is twice the price.  I explain that I wouldn’t have ordered the blue if I had known it was nearly £100 and ask for a refund.  She reluctantly agrees but says we will have to come back on Wednesday to get it.  Drive out to another CL opposite Newsholme Manor which is £2 a night as opposed to £3.50 over the road.  Steve takes a walk around the golf course whilst I cook tea.
Tuesday 29 September  My  hair is looking exceedingly drab due to the lack of sun so I take to the bottle.  Steve drops me at the hairdressers for a trim and takes the van to Rays to get the brakes checked and it seems the steering wheel wobble is just the new brakes and pads bedding in !?!  Off towards Bradford for some LPG but we stop in Shipley to get some Fish and Chips from Richard’s.  I sample the battered Mars Bar which is superb.  Just like a Mars Bar sauce with crispy batter.  Richard talks Steve into a game or two of snooker so I pop around the shops in Shipley.  Too late to get the LPG so we head up to Wilsden.  It’s Nancy’s Birthday today and they have invited us to join them to go to the Chinese for a meal.  We arrive early at their house and I get some more messages sent to the States by E-mail.  I also get a phone call from Eddie Palin where we bought the Inverter and they will refund our money except that the refund has to go on Netty’s credit card as that is how it was purchased.  In the evening Angela, Martin and Charlotte join us along with Rod and Nancy’s children Jenny and Michelle and a German exchange student called Marie.  We have an excellent meal and are gob smacked when Rod is most insistent that it is their treat and we are not allowed to pay even for the drinks.  What lovely people, will have to think of another way to repay them.
Wednesday 30 September  Rain through the night but not quite so cold.  Into Bradford for the LPG and then to a locksmith who thinks he may be able to cut a key for the second hand lock.  Back to the Keighley Solicitors.  On the positive side we do manage to get the refund for the foam but now have to sit on bare boards until we collect the original stuff from Mum’s cellar.  The rain is very heavy now accompanied by a lot of wind which doesn’t make for good motorhoming.  Park outside Claire’s overnight.

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