Sunday, 5 June 2011
Yes, people, I am still here! It has been 2 weeks since I last blogged and what a hectic 2 weeks it has been. Thanks to a last big push on the van, we finally got away and started the drive up through France to Le Havre. We hadn't had the chance to test Sadie out properly before we left and there were still a number of jobs that would need our attention, but the lino was rolled up and stowed in a bed box, a box of tools likewise and off we headed regardless. We made it up to Chartres before finding a quiet spot on the outskirts of a village where we pulled over for the night.
We had a bite to eat before setting up the oh so comfy king size bed in which we both quickly fell into an exhausted slumber, enjoying the best night's sleep either of us had enjoyed for quite some time. I was going to enjoy sleeping in Sadie!
We caught the superfast Norman Arrow from Le Havre to Portsmouth and rocked up at mum's in time for dinner on Friday. So so good to see my laddy and mum again - it had been 9 months since my last visit which is just too long. We had 3 full days there during which time Andy fitted the Thetford cassette toilet and carried out other work which he had not had time to do before we left France. We seemed to do an incredible amount of shopping for stuff that we needed for the van and soon it was time to head up to the Peak District where we hoped to catch up with friends and do some running and biking. The weather was glorious and we stumbled across the Shillito Woods parking area at which turned out to be a perfect overnight (unofficially) spot between Baslow and Sheffield with fantastic moorland, tracks and paths on the doorstep.
However, before we could relax, we had to tackle a leak from the shower mixer tap fittings which involved far too much time being spent in the B&Q car park in Chesterfield. It had been a nightmare finding the right French fittings to fit the different hot and cold plastic pipes that Andy had bought in the UK, but fortunately he was eventually able to find a solution and eventually we were able to use the shower for the first time - hurrah! We celebrated by having a late afternoon trot round a short 8km circuit from Shillito Woods. 2 weeks without stretching however meant that my legs were tight and aching but it was fantastic to be back on the wonderfully dry Peak District trails again, albeit briefly.
Our next overnighter was at Redmires Reservoir just outside of Sheffield - a lovely spot, despite the late night comings and goings of the city's chavs in their souped up cars which I found quite disconcerting. Fortunately, once they realised that there was a motorhome parked up for the night, they quickly turned around and retreated and we were left to enjoy the peace and quiet
I decided I had to try to loosen up my legs if I was going to enjoy any running while we are away. Past experience has shown that biking does that very job. So, before leaving the Peak, we had a quick 2 hour/25km blast on the mountain bikes in the Ladybower reservoir area which included some tricky riding up on to Rushup Edge. It was stunningly beautiful, the weather was warm and sunny and the ride sorted my legs out wonderfully!
Unfortunately, I just wasn't able to coordinate myself sufficiently to meet up with people that I wanted to see, but hopefully we will have a couple of days back in the Peak on our return trip when it will be a different story.
As far as living in the van is concerned, we are learning very much 'on the hoof'. Amongst other things, we have learnt, by running out of water, just how far a full tank of fresh water will go and therefore how frugal we need to be in our water usage. We have learnt roughly how frequently the toilet cassette needs emptying and that, if there is the opportunity to empty it we should take it, before the red light comes on! And we have learnt that solar panels are the business for keeping the leisure batteries sufficiently charged for us to run our various electrical apparel without any problem whatsoever!
We had a wild and windy night, parked up on the moors above Skipton last night which didn't make for the most restful night's sleep
But we are now parked up at a mate's house near Skipton before heading up to the Lake District on Tuesday. The adventure continues!