Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200012 England

Friday 1 December 2000  Land on time in Manchester ENGLAND at 4.00am.  Claire arrives at 7.30am and along with Natasha, Daniel and the luggage we wedge ourselves into her tiny Fiesta for the ride to Preston to pick up our motorhome (and Steve thought the plane was cramped). We were fully expecting to have to give the van a clean inside but not prepared for the scene which we find.  When the New Zealand couple returned it in August they left a side window open which went unnoticed.  With the heavy rain we have ended up with a sodden sofa bed and a big damp problem.  Claire is dashing back to the Midlands so as quickly as possible we do what we can and set off with the "grandies" in tow.  Head to Keighley where we are going to park at Sandra’s but first call into town for some essentials including a MacDonalds happy meal for Daniel.  The kids are gorgeous.  Daniel seems quite grown up and very clever for his age.  Natasha’s just beautiful and looks so cute waddling around with her copper hair up in pigtails however we are quite relieved when Daz picks them up and we can relax.  Appreciate the use of Sandra’s guest room even more than ever as our van is not habitable.  Get full value out of the bed with a 7.30pm start.
Saturday 2 December  After an initial good sleep we are both awake with 101 things buzzing round in our heads.  At 1.00am I begin wheezing with asthma probably brought on by me cleaning away the mould in the van.  Give up on the bed at 5.00am and start on some paperwork.  Daz drops the kids off at 7.30am – as they say "no rest for the wicked".  Visit Steve’s sister Lisa in Leeds where Sian is very happy sharing her toys with Daniel and Natasha.  Return for Daz to collect the kids at 2.00pm and for us to start the big clean up although just where to start is a problem in itself with damp or mouldy bedding, a ruined bed mattress and problems outside as well.  Get stuck in and find ourselves shattered and in need of an early bath.
Sunday 3 December  An unexpectedly bright dry and sunny day.  Whilst Steve helps erecting Sandra’s new shed I make a start on the mountain of washing in the hope of salvaging some of the bedding.  Steve later joins me and we make reasonable progress inside and out.  Fellow motorhomer friends Les & Margaret call round and inspire us with their plans for an overland track to China.  They also mention they are off to collect a diesel operated heating system which we have looked into but at over 500.00 for the unit we were unsure.  At 150.00 for a second hand reconditioned one I make a quick decision and they return a few hours later with one for us also.  This should help in countries like Spain and Morocco where it can be a problem running our LPG heating due to the lack of LPG supplies. 
Monday 4 December  We’re both not sleeping well, a combination of jet lag, stress, over work and worry all of which we are just not used to.  The up side is that my belly is already starting to disappear and I can see now why I gain so much weight in our sedentary lifestyle. Invest a considerable sum at the laundrette and increase the coffers of many shops around Keighley.  It seems that when we are in England we spend the greatest amount of money and largely on the least pleasurable things whereas on the road we can spend very little and have a ball.  Round off the day by going out for a spot of line dancing with Sandra.
Tuesday 5 December  My 44th Birthday and for my present I get a new bed mattress.  The motorhome is drying out and starting to smell fresher and look more homely.  All thanks to the use of  Sandra’s drive where we have power, water and use of her washing machine. Take Sandra, Rod & Nancy out for a Balti meal in the evening.
Wednesday 6 December  Move on starting with a visit to Huddersfield for some van parts and minor repairs.  Drive on over Saddleworth Moor which is very scenic and makes us realise what we have been missing in England.  In Prestwich we pick up David who is coming with us to visit Claire.  Next stop in Leyland where despite a lot of effort the specialist garage still can’t find the reason for our "ABS" and "Check Engine" warning lights.  Arrive in Market Drayton late afternoon and for the first time ever we sleep under one roof with both our children and grandchildren.   
Thursday 7 December  Our nephew Nic is off school sick and we are looking after him.  The "bus" sets off with Steve driving, Natasha in the front seat and David, Claire, Daniel, Nic and myself in the back.  Invade Mom & Dad’s at Telford where it is good to see how well Dad is after his stroke.  Steve’s sister Netty also pops round and Mom does a great job feeding us all.  At the shopping centre I buy Daniel and Natasha new shoes and trousers for Christmas, a car seat for Natasha’s birthday and a few things for ourselves.  When we finally fill up with diesel the girl has to phone the credit card company to check up as it has been used excessively, tell me about it! 
Friday 8 December  Drop David in Stoke to catch the bus back to Prestwich.  Call on a company who will be able to fit our new heating system next week.  Back to Drayton to begin the mammoth task of clearing out our stuff from Mum’s cellar.  Mum needs the space and  having made the decision the stick with this lifestyle there seems little point in keeping much but it is still a hard task sifting through.
Saturday 9 December  Claire goes to work and leaves us baby-sitting which is much easier with the children in their own home. Steve dips out when Bobby phones up asking him to go and watch him play rugby for Adams Grammar School. 
Sunday 10 December  Round to the Spooners for lunch and a session on the computer.
Monday 11 December  Continue clearing our things in Mum’s cellar then baby sit in the evening.
Tuesday 12 December  Steve heads off to Stoke to get our new diesel powered heater fitted.  I complete the tidying in Mum’s cellar then join Claire, Daniel and Natasha for the Christmas pram service.  End up with a 235.00 bill for fitting the heater instead of the estimated 180.00, so much for our bargain buy.   Baby sitting in the evening which is very easy as both of them go to bed with no problems by 7.30pm.
Wednesday 13 December  Round to Mum’s for a business day where we can spread the paperwork out and make use of the telephone.  Once again we baby-sit in the evening so Claire can fit in a few hours work.
Thursday 14 December  A fine day with only occasional rain so Steve tackles sealing the roof whilst I make a start on the new curtains only to be foiled by the machine breaking down. 
Friday 15 December  It’s Natasha’s first birthday and we call round then join them to watch Daniel at the playschool nativity play.  He’s playing the part of a king but as soon as we walk in he downs tools and walks off the job.  Back to Netty & Dave’s for the evening where Netty puts me onto Mary who can run up my curtains.  Bobby & Nic join us in the van overnight.
Saturday 16 December  We have to wake the lads up and turf them out in order to get round to Mums in time to meet Netty & Alan with the removal van.  Their daughter Lauren is moving into a new house soon and they have inherited our clearance lines from Mums cellar.  Two trips later the garage is empty and we relocate to Pete & Carols in Newport.  Paul & Elaine join us in the evening for a take away.
Sunday 17 December  Call for a look at Paul & Elaine’s new house on the way to Telford.  Manage to buy a few more things on our never ending list, it seems that as fast as we buy something we think of something else to add on. The town centre is full of people begrudgingly buying presents with little thought to the recipiants needs.  Reckon the whole thing has got out of hand now but I do still appreciate the infrequent letter contact with friends which Christmas induces.   Arrive at Mom & Dad’s just in time to hitch a lift with them first to Kevin & Sandra’s then Netty & Alan’s.   Round off the evening with games of Crib and Scrabble before crashing out on the air bed.
Monday 18 December  Rather surprisingly we both enjoy a good nights sleep which is very unusual at the moment.  We are making some progress on our "to do/problem" list but with no permanent phone contact it is difficult so we much appreciate the loan of Trevors mobile.  We have unearthed a few insurance problems, firstly with the motorhome we can no longer go away for stretches of over 12 months as our insurance policy is invalid without us having tax and MOT.  Unable to cope with the British winters in a motorhome we plan to return early May for a visit.  We can then catch up with everyone, get our van taxed and MOT’d and just maybe do a bit of touring of the British Isles – weather permitting.  A problem has also emerged on our buildings insurance for Parkwood Street in that we currently have DSS tenants which invalidates our policy.  We now have to cancel the existing policy and find another company who can cover us which we know will be more expensive.  Another problem is the ABS and Check Engine warning lights on the van would cause it to fail the MOT.  Travelworld (where we bought the van) are not returning our calls so we drive over to ask them to locate the diagnostic socket.  They manage to do this leaving is just enough time to get back to Drayton to baby-sit.
Tuesday 19 December  Steve drives back to Leyland to get the van warning lights checked on the diagnostic machine.  He returns 50.00 lighter but with only the Check Engine light cleared. 
Wednesday 20 December  Collect the curtains but as we come to fit them we have problems.  Firstly the curtain rails are very difficult to fit and then we notice that the curtain lining is hanging down on two, one has been sewn upside down, the slots for the rails are too narrow and one set are missing the slots completely. The spare materiel is in small pieces and not the long strips I need for the finishing touches and to cap it all the overall effect doesn’t meet my expectations. 
Thursday 21 December  Netty drops Bobby & Nic off at 8.30am for us to baby-sit.  We move onto the car park at Towers Lawn and play cards and Yahtzee.  Claire spots us on our shopping trip and Daniel is added to my baby-sitting roster and then Claire and Natasha join us at lunch time for fish and chips in the van.  Round to the Spooners where I put on a buffet tea in the van. 
Friday 22 December  Mind Daniel and Natasha for a brief spell whilst Daz and Claire go to the solicitors to sign the sale contract on their house with completion set for 8th January.  Over to Newport to settle onto the caravan park, 6.50 with power but without the expected showers.  Spend an excellent evening at Lilleshall for the Squash Club Christmas do.  Good company, good food and good music to dance to.
Saturday 23 December  Leave the caravan park after lunch to drive to Stafford to visit Shirley & John.  Parked on the flat hard surface near their house and hooked up to power we have all our needs completed with the offer of a bath.   The evening is spent reminiscing about our motorhome trips and especially Australia where they spent last Christmas.
Sunday 24 December  After tucking into Johns rather splendid cooked breakfast we eventually return to Market Drayton via Newport for a short spell with Pete & Carol.  Claire and family are off to Yorkshire for Christmas leaving us to house sit – bliss, although we will miss watching Daniel & Natasha opening their presents.
Monday 25 December  We are woken at 8.45 by a Merry Christmas phone call from David.  Pick the Spooners up in the van to drive up to Tern Hill Hall for Christmas dinner.  We have a lovely meal which takes up most of the afternoon then return to Nettys for a few drinks.  By 6.30pm we are back at Claires falling asleep on the sofa bed whilst watching the Titanic after a strange but most enjoyable Christmas.
Tuesday 26 December  A quiet day at Claire’s with me catching up on our mountain of washing. Claire & Daz return at 9.00pm with 2 tired children and we retreat to the van.
Wednesday 27 December  I go with Netty to Newcastle for the sales and make sure I don’t let the side down by investing in a few bargains. At Claires I cook a roast beef dinner for us all which we follow up with a funny "Know Your Partner" game which Mum bought us for Christmas. 
Thursday 28 December  Wake up in the early hours to find snow falling.  By the time I get  up at 8.30 there is quite a covering and I revel in how pretty everything looks as I walk to town.  Claire tries to build a snowman for Daniel but the snow is too soft.  It’s Daz’s birthday and we baby-sit in the evening so that they can go to the pictures.
Friday 29 December   It’s very cold with lows of -15C recorded in nearby Lilleshall, the coldest since 1981 when we shivered in -25C but that was in a house not a motorhome so it feels much the same. Outside my fringe turns to icicles and reminds me of our time in China.  After Steve returns from a visit to Telford with Claire we relocate to Nettys to begin our farewell tour.
Saturday 30 December  Back to Claire’s for one last Good-bye to Daniel and Natasha who we will especially miss as they are changing so fast.  Up to Telford in time for lunch with Mavis & Trevor where we also stay overnight.
Sunday 31 December  Leave straight after dinner as it starts to snow and with the wind becomes a mini blizzard.  Once we reach Newport the snow turns to rain and the temperature is noticeably warmer.  Park at Pete & Carols and in the evening we all go to Paul & Elaine’s to celebrate New Year with a meal and some games. So that’s the end of our fourth year on the road and one in which we visited only 4 countries – New Zealand, Australia, Sri Lanka and England, will try to do better next year!

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