We are just ten days into an adventure we hope will last for many years. We are already losing track of time. Yesterday we had to check our iPhones to determine the day. We have nothing to do but relax and enjoy our travels, but every day is full.
On Wednesday morning after yet another surprisingly restful night at a motorway service station, this time near Ghent in Belgium, I drove for five hours along mile after tedious mile of motorway. Cynthia was waiting for me with Florence-the-Fat, a recent addition to our gypsy family. Florence is a shadow of her former self. At her heaviest, when she was used for breeding in a Pennsylvania kennels weighed an unhealthy 105lb. She had dropped to 95lb by the time Cynthia collected her on 10th August. Today, after many vigorous walks and a strict diet, she is a comparatively svelte 64lb. With her stumpy little legs, she still rolls onto her back every time she lifts a paw, but we love her.
At approximately 1805 on Wednesday 12 October (6:05pm for you English persons!) I started down the drive (at my temporary home ? for the last two months) and was met by my Beautiful Husband Paul and our elder Basset, Tasha. What a sight for sore eyes!
As much as I enjoyed my Netherlands stay, and immersing myself in the Wonderful World of biking as my means of transportation, I was more than massively elated to finally come to the end of my summer sojourn.
I have moved eight times since 30 May and I had had enough of being separated from my beloved family.
That’s it then. I’ve gone and sold my boat.
I moved on board on Friday 2nd April 2010. I spent my last night on board on Saturday 8th October 2016. For 2,383 days I’ve lived aboard a 62’ long, 6’10” wide narrowboat on the English inland waterways.
I had to adapt from living in a fairly large detached family home to a boat with just three hundred square feet of living space. Now I have to adapt again, this time to less than two hundred feet. I won’t be on my own either. I’ll share this tiny space with Cynthia and bassets Tasha and Florence. Fortunately Cynthia has had fatty Florence on a diet since she collected her just over two months ago. She’s not exactly skinny now, but there’s much less of her than to 105lb tub of lard Cynthia picked up from the kennels where she (Florence not Cynthia) had been used for breeding for the first four years of her life.
It has been just over three months of travel (Spain, Provence, Belgium–briefly–the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Vermont, Massachusetts and finally the Netherlands once again—-), and eight places of residence since departing the UK at the end of May–before I was booted out due to my visa status.
It has all been an adventure and an exciting one at that! The Very BEST part of it all was my marriage to Paul. Even though we had less than two weeks to plan it, it came out perfectly thanks to my beloved friends and merciful weather gods! We both enjoyed our simple ceremony and our blissful five days together in Vermont which culminated in a sail on a Friendship sloop owned by a dear friend of mine on Lake Champlain.
My hearing isn’t great at the best of times, but I was pretty sure that the Spanish lady at American Airline’s check in desk was asking me if I had brought Esther with me. I don’t know anyone by that name, so I was thoroughly confused. Why was Esther in charge of my travel arrangements?
The frustrated official wrote a web address on a scrap piece of paper and waved vaguely towards the rear of the cavernous departures terminal at Birmingham airport.
Fortunately I had my MacBook with me, so I typed in the address and all became clear. I needed an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) permit before the check in desk could process me.
After collecting Cynthia from Calais nine days ago, we’ve had a hugely enjoyable if rather tiring trek across France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. We’re now in Denmark, parked next to a tranquil freshwater lake half a mile from the coast.
After hauling Cynthia and her luggage on board nine days ago, we drove out of France and through Belgium in the blink of an eye before stopping for the night in a campsite in the beautiful seaside town of Sluis. We are very much looking forward to exploring unknown areas of Europe in a much more leisurely fashion, but the limited time available for our current trip has dictated a fairly swift passage.
I am snuggled up here on the settee with Tasha curled up next to me keeping me warm. I have now lived within the perimeter of this motorhome for nearly two weeks now. I thought I would go stir crazy, but I have not. I owe this to the fact that we have been able to stay at some breathtaking venues, and the view is fantastic and ever changing.
Coming down with this dreaded flu which overtook my body with aches, fever and a cough, has been the worst illness experience I have had in more years than I can count. I could have avoided it had I taken Oscillococcinum by Boiron when it first started. I swear by this homeopathic remedy (you can buy it online and in many drug stores/chemists) and best of all it has no side effects. For those of you out there who are wont to recommend a flu shot I suggest you do some homework around this. Even the circular that comes with the popular flu vaccination by GlaxoSmithKline tells you it hasn’t been proven to be efficacious. Plus the shot contains the deadly highly toxic metal, mercury, one of the LAST things you want injected into your body.
Last Sunday we stayed overnight at the Hereford Camping and Caravan Club site. I can see the appeal of staying on campsites regularly. Life is so much easier than wild camping. For a start, you know that you aren’t going to hear a knock on the door late at night asking you to move on. You also don’t need to conserve your water or electricity or carefully monitor your toilet cassette capacity.
On Monday we did the usual waste out, water in housekeeping ready for a couple of days off grid, then showered at the site to minimise the use of our tiny water tank. Without a goal other than to head south west, we headed back towards the M5 at Gloucester where we stopped at a Sainsbury store and then drove slowly down to Bridgewater and then rather nervously joined the sometimes impossibly narrow and hilly A39.
Well, sorry to say this weeks contribution won’t be a lengthy one due to the fact that I (actually both of us) am still trying to cope with getting the flu. It certainly caught us by surprise. Neither of us has been sick like this for years! I have been reprimanding myself for not having stocked my first-aid/natural remedies arsenal with the highly effective Oscillococcinum by Boiron. Oh well, I won’t make that mistake again soon!
We spent a good four hours toting our things from the boat to the motorhome—I did the packing on the boat interspersed by cleaning and Paul did the running back and forth and unpacking on the motorhome. We made a good team, and were proud of ourselves when after we set off we discovered there were no rattling sounds! After my many years of living on sailboats along with working on airplanes I have learned how to pack securely.
I didn’t write a newsletter last week because of our workload as we prepared to collect our Hymer B754 motorhome. Because our life at the moment is more roads than rivers, I created a survey asking newsletter subscribers to let me know if they would be interested in reading accounts of our motorhome travels. The answer was a very positive and resounding “Yes please!”.
I know that there are many differences between motorhome and narrowboat lifestyles, but there are probably even more similarities. Both require you to live in harmony with your significant other in a very small space. Both require you to take a far more hands on approach to managing your utilities, and both necessitate embracing a simpler life much closer to nature than you would in a bricks and mortar home.