Monday 28 March 2011

The Van is Loaded

Well, almost!
DH has spent ALL day carefully packing it- which is awful as when we have to leave a campsite by 10 am, we can't carefully arrange every box just right. The van is Very Full- and we still have yet another few boxes and random items to find places for. Dh reckons we'll have a trailer within 2 weeks :-)

He has done a FABULOUS job of it, even demonstrating how quick the tent is to pack up. I was talking to a friend on the phone for about 10 minutes, starting with the tent still being up, and by the end of the conversation Big One said 'Daddy's bringing the tent down  now'- meaning it all packed and into the van, not just taking the poles out!

Little One is poorly- a clingy day which has included 2 long naps and normal bedtime- I can only hope this is the worst of it and she'll be better tomorrow- please everyone have your fingers crossed for us xx
Big One has been wonderful fun, helping out and getting some playing done.

My parents house is hopefully clean and tidy enough- its not up to 'retired couple' standard, but its much cleaner and tidier than its been for the last couple of weeks- shhhh!
Speaking of parents, its time for me to go get them from the airport.

Our first port of call has no mobile reception, so I expect we'll be offline for at least a week now- thanks for following us this far.

Sunday 27 March 2011

Tent warming and Farewell Days

It was the coldest day for ages, but that's when we had out Tent Warming. Icy wind, no sunshine but we found out tent can take about 4 families, or about 7 adults and a gaggle of children (they were moving so fast most of the time, it was hard to count!) when I counted up who was in one time I popped in to see!
Apart from a now standing joke (DH can almost see the humour) regarding lack of tea and coffee with lots of freezing adults, it went fairly well. It was too cold to sit in the shelter outside, but the soup went down well. I didn't see hardly anyone get any- apart from Big One who suddenly was ravenous and came back for Fourths- but the pan was nearly empty by the end of the day. We'd asked friends to bring some nibbles or bits to share, and we had a bountiful tableful of cakes, crisps and dips,snacks, juice and pop, and it was lovely that so many people could make time to come to see us on our way.

For the record regarding the tea and coffee 'issue', DH repacked the tea and coffee into a different box, so when I searched high and low for a pink box containing them, they were actually in a box I had been asked to move....He found them eventually, and then we realised I'd not remembered to find the box of mugs we packed away ages ago :-) I suspect we'll have lots of moments like this over the next few weeks!!

Most importantly,our tent was warm and snug, various seating tried out, jumped on by many children -the grown up was more rolling than jumping ;-)  and has all survived intact. We're ready for the off!
I also found the positive comments really helpful- I don't feel very organised, and worry about the lack of a huge 'to do' list on paper, but having friends who sounded genuinely happy for us, regretful they aren't doing this, and/or enjoying the tent- well, its gone a long way for helping me feel reasssured and capable. Thank you all!

Today we had a much smaller family farewell- DH's family all travelled to visit us, see us set up before we go, and have a good natter. Great Grandma is ( I think) 3 years off being 100 and managed up the garden to have a good look at the tent and stove  and -seeing as I was anticipating the cold wind of the day before and had space in the house for us- we all sat out in the sunshine with hardly any breeze. We only just got the stove in the tent going late in the afternoon to reassure Grandma we wouldn't be too cold. Soup versions 2 and 3 needed more salt, but still went down ok. Grandma enjoys baking, so we had lovely chocolate cake that disappeared very quickly, as well as some other baking she brought, and a few left overs from the day before- fabulous.

Packing has gone well today- the neighbouring children in this row of cottages have met the girls today, and they've been playing up and along between all the gardens most of the afternoon. This house is down a lane, so no traffic or passing strangers, and the girls have been happy to roam a little -though not near the barking dogs. After tea Little One found a dressing up mask left behind, so I thought she'd taken it into our house for safekeeping. When I went into the house a few minutes later, DH told me she'd gone round to the neighbours to return it  and sure enough I turned around to see her trotting back happily, having been given a lollypop for her trouble ( and one for Big Sis). She'd walked around, knocked on the door, spoken to neighbour and come back- all on her own and she's not yet 3. I am glad she talked to DH before going though.

Around our farewells, we've been sorting and packing the last few boxes, with just a few more to deal with tomorrow. Tomorrow is the final pack- the tent comes down and we'll 'camp' overnight in the house before heading off.  Fingers crossed it all fits into the van..... and a lot of positive thoughts please!

Finally- I need to remember to go to the dentists. With everything else,  I completely forgot to go on Friday, but thankfully they can fit me in tomorrow-lets hope I remember...
So, last practice night in the tent- after this its for real. So far so good!

Friday 25 March 2011

Getting ready for the last few 'home' days

My last day at work was yesterday. This week has been up and down, but in the end it was nice saying good bye and knowing I’ve got a good break from it all. I feel ready for a holiday, so I think it’ll take a while to sink in I’m not going back in a fortnight.

So now it just home stress to work through. I’m looking forward to just ‘being’ and ‘doing’ rather than planning. We’ve been talking about and planning this trip for over a year, and I hardly know what else we did last year- its disappeared and that doesn’t feel right.

I was out in the tent, Little One had a nap this morning ( 5.45 am was obviously too early for her today, she’s our early riser) so I tried out the dongle attempting to email potential hosts for Up North for the end of our trip. 11 emails out, 3 potential hosts out of the running aready and one that sounds utterly fabulous so just fingers crossed about dates working out.

We need to make some final decisions about our holiday weeks Down South, and then we’ll just follow the diary each week to where we need to go next- lovely.

One thing I’m regretting- we got a paper membership to WWOOF so we didn’t have to do all the planning with a computer on, and we have something to refer to when we’re without internet connection. However, that means ( as our year isn’t up yet) I’m still working from something published Winter 2009. I can’t help wondering if that is why some places haven’t got back to us at all- though several have very kindly forwarded our email to the new contact person if relevant, but a few places have stopped being hosts in the meantime.

We have our farewell ‘Tent Warming’ gathering tomorrow, so by then we need to sort the garage out, find our box of mugs and get the tent more organised.

We’ve got a few boxes left lying around the house that we need to decide what is happening, and on top of that my parents return on Monday, so the house needs to be just how they left it (without all our belongings strewn everywhere!). I've been moving all the final boxes to sort out to the garage, giving us pressure to get that done before friends arrive tomorrow afternoon- the forecast isn't fabulous so we might just need somewhere to shelter from Yorkshire Weather. There's a road nearby called Weatherhill- I can vouch for the fog and snow always being worse up here than everywhere else, and horizontal rain just isn't fun.

Its funny to think we'll be looking out for laundrettes and using other folks washers if they'll let us (with two little ones, especially Little One,  I'm getting a little worried about the washing) from next week. I'm looking forward to the journey, but the last minute nerves and getting through this final sorting out an  know we can hand wash, but I haven't made that mental step yet. I remember spending ages looking out for a hand powered washer I'd seen once- that'd be great for this journey and my peace of mind.
I've read a few books about journeys, and what stands out to me right now is how they mention the few months preparation in a line or two- just this week seems like forever to live,  and this blog feels very repetitive at the moment.

 I'll be glad when we're on our way at last.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Still Working....

We're still plodding on- 1 week and a day left for me to work- yippee! But until then I feel I need each day to have 48 hours to fit it all in.

I've had a nice conversation with EDF Energy tonight- after waiting for 15 minutes for one of their very busy people to get around to answering the phone- and thankfully got a helpful person who sounds to be sorting things out. We've nicely overpaid on our accounts for both houses, so we're just making sure we get our money back.

That'll go to help fund the new tires DH had fitted today- £650 and we hope we can handle damp grass better than the tiny amount of snow we were skating in last month! They look the part, but I also hope we don't need to test them out any time soon.
More electrical bits for the van arrived, ready for Tony to fit on Friday, and DH must remember to go get the extra leisure battery tomorrow, before his trip to the dentists ( important to get sorted before we go!).

I've had fun on ebay getting a stack of plastic-backed picnic blankets which are starting to arrive- our tent flooring- we already have 4 but that isn't enough!
I also have to figure out that bloomin stick-on velcro. Its doesn't stick to things that bend, so it hasn't worked with the foam sleeping mats. I had a go at stitching a short 20 cm length last night.  At 2 hours I had got far enough, I figure a couple of inches only sewed along one edge will have to do. the glue sticks to the needle and thread, needing rubbing off every couple of stitches, the velcro is tough so I broke a needle- it is not a fun job. I'm not doing any tonight, so I'll have to do double tomorrow to keep going.

We have some socialising planned this weekend, so I just hope we can fit enough work around it. We've accidentally managed to arrange to see a family who inspired us to give this a go.
Our 'tipi' family didn't get far in distance with their journey, but have shown us how they enjoy living in tents, and given us the inspiration to get on and Do It ourselves. We haven't seen them for over a year, but talking to someone at work this week- who's son plays with theirs- means we can catch up with them before we go.
We're also catching up with some home-ed friends, and hope to call in at 'lenten moon/spring equinox thing' if we possibly can on Saturday.
I'd better go get some sleep while I can!

Friday 11 March 2011

Another Start

I hardly know where to start! We've had such a busy time recently.
Last Friday we moved out of our rented house, got tenants into our own house, and moved in with my parents.
If you say it quickly, it doesn't sound too bad :-)

But its been busy. We left far too much to the last minute, so Friday was far too busy moving out and cleaning, and not really having space to move our (unfortunately still far too much) stuff into my parents. We've been filling their garage ( after boarding out some attic space in it and filling that) but on Friday we had a van full, boxes all through the house, the garage full and even a some shelves and boxes in the greenhouse for a few days.

So, we have some clues about what we need to do- sorting through and thinning out on the 'stuff' front.
Actually, I think as we move into the tent ( no, we're not there yet) physically moving stuff up the garden will hopefully bring some realism into this. One place we're going to isn't sure the van will get along their access-moving our tent by hand any serious distance will be hard work, let alone 'home comforts'!
I'm still working almost full time, with the added interest this week of a commute. I've been leaving home at my normal getting up time, but getting home surpisingly early. A bus lane on the journey home by shuttle bus makes a huge difference, so much so I'm not sure I'll borrow the car I'm access to from next week.
I've been limited in my ability to fulfill plans this week- my back ( technically my SI joints, but no need to be picky) wasn't up to Fridays frantic moving. I've been having a few niggles fror the weeks since I stopped yoga ( and not managing to make the time to practice on my own) but Friday really finished me off. I was unable to move Saturday morning, gradually getting more mobile through the day but then really struggled with work on Monday.

Thankfully my wonderful chiropractor Debbie was able to fit me in that evening, and since then I've really felt on the mend. I even managed to walk around Ikea tonight ( wasn't great, but I managed it!) which is fab as standing and walking are the worst things, apart from work, I can do.

Today DH got the tent up with very little help from me, so we're starting to get things ready to go in there.
The stove (ours is called Louis) is in place, and our sleep mats. I've had a disappointing time today with the mats. I've spent hours hand and machine sewing covers on the final mats over the last few months, and planned to velcro them together. I couldn't face sewing all the metres of velcro on, so bought some heavy-duty stuck on stuff. Alas, it is not intended for use on fabrics and is also not suitable for machine sewing. I decided to give it a go anyway and the rotten stuff hardly stuck.

Stop press- I just tried the sample piece I brought into the house to check on, and there does seem to be some sticking activity happening, yippee! I hope it might just do the trick. the fabric I'm using it on is wipe clean plasticky stuff, so not 'fluffy' fabric at all, so all might not be lost to hours of hand-sewing...fingers crossed.

I've been a little apprehensive about sharing living space with my parents, not least that when I last permanently lived here as a teenager things were a little 'tense'.
My parents are not keen on autonomous home educating- I think if it was structured they might be more agreeable to it, but that isn't us. The first few days there was a daily 'comment' regarding 'what we're doing to that wonderful child' (with the speaker not willing to listen to any discussion about it at that time) but thankfully that didn't continue- I think we'd be struggling if it had. We did manage a good two-way conversation with a grandparent a couple of days in, which I hope might reassure them just a little bit.

Other than that, I've found sharing living space with them really great- the girls love being with their grandparents, and the feeling is generally mutual. DH and I have had several uninterrupted conversations, and even had an afternoon out together with friends at Portland Works on Sunday. I had expected stress levels to rise sharing in someone else's house- but so far ( admittedly I've been the one out at work all day) I've found it to be less stressful. I wonder how much we're irritating our hosts, but they do keep assuring us, apart from the boxes in the way, its not too bad for them. Of course, they are going on holiday in a couple of days- living with upset for a few days is different to the prospect of 3 weeks. Their trip is to Egypt, so recent events had us wondering if we would all be sharing for the full three weeks, which doesn't seem so daunting now we've managed one week. However when we were planning things three weeks sounded a long time to share!

Also today ( do you get the idea today has been busy?) our friend Tony ( who does a fab job keeps our van running) has been to investigate our electrics in the van. He's found things we had planned to buy hidden in there, and I've even heard mutterings of a space heater in there. I'm sorry to say I haven't got my head around electrics, so I'm reassured Tony reckons the wiring in the van has been done as he would have done (it was previously a company van, so when we got it it had racking in the back, complete with weekly maintenance schedule for chainsaws) and we've got a good starting place for our plans. We have a little fridge coming with us, so we want to keep that running and be able to charge up various laptops, mobile phones, camera batteries, etc. DH is definately doing the brain work regarding getting the van ready.

I mentioned a trip to Ikea this evening, which has been ( hopefully) the source of our 'camp kitchen'. I had been planning a wonderful homemade chuck box, but DH only properly looked at the plans 5 days ago and it would need some alteration to suit us, and serious work for it to materialise. We both realise we haven't enough hours left to make it (and learn the appropriate skills!) so have been looking for something to adapt to move our kitchen equipment, spices, etc. We expect to be self-catering the majority of the time we're volunteering- I think our kitchen will be important! We've worked through several variations, and thought we sort of had a plan- and went to have a look around Ikea. On our shopping trip DH managed to find something we think will work with very little work on our part  and I can't find it online to share. Its a little metal wire chest of drawers from the home office section called 'Lennart'. Its something like this, well, sort of.

I think that's a fair round up of the last couple of weeks- so I'm sure I've forgotten something major!