Saturday, 30 June 2012

Decision Time!

We have sort of come to a cross roads!

To bring you up to date, and for the benefit of any new readers who have tagged along for our journey through life. We are a mid 40's couple who have no dependents, just "China" dog.

We sold up in August 2010 and bought an all singing and dancing Lunar Lexon 640 twin axle caravan with a fixed island bed.

With a full size awning, two 4x4's and both working full time, we live in our caravan, moving from site to site in the New Forest area of Southern England.

Back at the start of the year I took my bus/coach driving test and started driving buses for a living. We wanted to be nearer "M"s family so moved down to the Lymington and New Milton area.

I then got a transfer (which goes ahead later in July) to Lymington, this then cuts out a 60 mile round trip to work every day for me! Instead I will have a 10 minute journey. Not only that but with moving to this new company it gives me a minimum extra £100.00 a week pay rise, so a good deal all round.

Now the dilemma we have, is that on one of the sites that we have been staying at we have been offered a static caravan  for rent, which actually costs us less than our site fee's!

The static caravan is on it's on, secluded and over looks a field and the camp site. Its a few years old, so not in the best of condition, but it appears solid enough, with electric on a meter and gas via propane bottles with a hot water on demand boiler.

It's a one bedroom caravan, with a kitchen dining area, sitting room and bathroom with shower. The outside has a decked area and some rather overgrown shrubs!

We have worked out the figures and with having to pay for electricity, budgeted well above what we would use and gas usage it all works out about even. But to be honest you never really know the true cost till you start using it! Up till that point it's pure guess work.

So, do we curtail our nomadic existence for the present time and become rooted or do we continue as we are in our caravan?

After all this is the area we want to be in for the next few years. 

Pro's and Con's

For moving into the static caravan

We would have more room!
Running water/flush loo/shower.
Not have to keep moving on.
No maintenance
It has a secluded decking area.
We would not have to worry each time it gets windy that the awning will collapse!
Being able to go away at weekends.
Less wear and tear on our caravan.

For staying as we are

Loss of lifestyle
Feeling as if we have taken an easy option if we do move in.
The kitchen requires a bit of work.

We will not be selling the caravan, that will remain on site. At the moment we have not had a weekend away for months. The problem being once you are all set up with the large awning it is a bit of a bugger to pack it all up for a couple of days away. We even said recently that it might be a good idea to buy a really cheap 2 berth caravan for weekends!

If the caravan is sat there ready to hook up, I'm sure we would get away even for just a night!

We have to remind ourselves why we started this in the first place, it wasn't some romantic idea to drop out of society and go green. It was purely financial.

Now, after working out the figures and taking everything into account, it does suggest that moving into the static caravan seems a good idea.

Personally, I'm warming to the idea, not having to worry about the weather is one of the biggest things for me. If we did not have the awning up I wouldn't worry at all, but with our monster awning then it does become a problem.

As I write, it's the middle of summer, and the wind is battering our awning, and this is the summer! What the heck is winter going to be like, and it is only just around the corner! Living only a couple of miles from the coast, the wind was one thing I did not consider when we moved here.

From a financial point of view, it works out around even, I would even say that it comes in just under what we are currently paying.

All this suggests that it is a good idea. We have both said, "Why not try it" "What have we got to loose"? if we hate it, we just go back to the caravan!

So with that in mind, we are off to speak to the owner later on and see if we can do a deal.

I would be interested to hear what you have to say though, the more opinions the better so don't hold back!

Till later........................

Monday, 25 June 2012

All Quiet On Site

I think that the Great British Summer has put people off camping. Our current site is empty!

I would of thought that there would of been a couple of folk in over the weekend but it was just us, which did mean that on Saturday evening the music was rather loud!

I also managed to set my car alarm off this morning so just as well it was just us on site.

I am now also the proud owner of two new pairs of glasses! I thought after wearing the same pair since 1998 (my prescription has not changed) I picked them up this evening but only after a bit of a cock up!

I received not only a text but a phone call today to say that they were ready, so imagine my dismay when I turned up at the opticians in Tesco's to find them closed due to staff shortages!

Off I trot to customer services who appologise an offer me a £5.00 voucher, well just as she was about to give the the voucher, in walks the optician who I collar and off we trot to get my glasses. Bugger, 30 seconds longer and I would of had a fiver!

So I'm fitted up and just leaving when the customer services girl comes and gives me the voucher! So all in all I cant really complain!

Well, it's bubble and squeak for tea, a pint of cider and Paul Jones on Radio 2 (blues show) so I'm off!

Till later...................................

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Weekly Catchup

Another week has passed us by, the time slips through our fingers all too quickly!

This week we have had yet again high winds and heavy rain on and off all week. The awning has stood up well to the task and has stayed attached to the caravan. Only had to retighten one pole up. The good thing about this site and pitch is that no matter how hard it rains the floor of our awning has remained dry and not one single puddle has formed!

I ended up working my rest day this week (friday) and was working all day yesterday (saturday) so today is my only day off this week.

Had a few beers last night so we were not up at the crack of dawn, but instead slowly got ourselves together and took a trip down into Lymington.

They had a French market  with the main street closed to traffic. It was busy and had some very tempting food on display, but the one thing that does put me off is that when the French market came to Shaftesbury a few years back a friend of mine who was in Tesco's as soon as it opened on the Sunday morning saw the French Bread Man buying all the French loaves, baguettes and croissants! Not very French!

We then took a walk out around Lymington Marina.

On our way back we spotted a garage for rent, right in the heart of Lymington, there was a number on the door so we gave them a bell. Now hope your sitting down, they wanted £150.00 a month for a bog standard garage! I knew Lymington was expensive but that is silly money.

Back at the caravan now, we are having roast pork this evening, wine is chilling so the rest of the day will be spent relaxing. The only thing I have to do is empty the loo!

Till later...........................

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Awning Up

We decided after checking the weather forecast to put our large awning up on Sunday.

It all went up ok even though it was a bit windy, thankfully we managed to get it all pegged down and secured with the storm straps without any mishaps.

As we hadn't had time to go to the launderettes out came the twin tub and I set about doing some essentials. My white shirts came out so much cleaner than they normally do!

Who ever says that these camping twin tubs don't work well must be doing something wrong!

Yesterday we had to replace the batteries on the Pajero. It has twin batteries and both were completely knackered.

We had them checked and they should of been producing 70 amps, but their output was only 6 amps!

I'm fairly sure we got a good deal as they only cost us £144.00 fitted for the pair.

We have had the Pajero for a year now and that's the first thing we have had to replace, it sailed through it's MOT with no problems at all.

It's the longest day today, it doesn't feel like the middle of the year at all.

Well, tea consumed, China dog will be having a brief run around outside and as I've been up since 0500hrs it's time for me to crash out.

Till later...............

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Moved In Record Time

Our 28 days on our current site were up today, (Saturday) so with a quick check with the weather forecast we decided that as the awning was dry we would move on Friday evening.

I got back to our site at 1830, we packed all our gear from the awning, took it down, moved and set up the caravan at our new site by 2030!

A record time for us! OK, the inside of the van does look like a bomb has gone off, but all of that can be easily sorted (my task for the this morning).

With high winds expected again, I'm glad we got the awning down and in one piece. Having such a large awning does have it's disadvantages!

We have no awning up at the moment, depending on the weather it will probably go up one evening next week.

Till then both 4x4's are full of gear! We certainly have no room for passengers as the Pajero is full to the roof, and the Freelander is full of awning and poles.

We certainly did a quick move which was due to two main reasons, the first was the weather, the second, was we were off to see a band called "Shoestring Blues" Blues orientated with some cracking bass and lead guitar and some pretty fine drumming. A good evening was had by all and we ended up having a chicken kebab looking out over the sea towards the Isle of Wight.

So today the plan will be for me to stow away unwanted/unused gear this morning. "M" is working till lunch time then we are off to the opticians for eye sight checks and new glasses.

My current glasses have been wedged onto my nose for a number of years now. I worked out that I have had them since at least 1998! I have worn contacts during this time, but they have lasted well. I saw no reason to change them as my eyesight had not changed in all this time.

I paid a lot of money for the frames, if I recall correctly well over £400.00 which was strong money in 1998! But, they are Hugo Boss frames, I had the lenses coated so they would not scratch and the lenses thinned. So I reckon I have had some good use out of them.

As I said, I have worn contacts, which are great, but I suffer from watery eyes,most people who wear contacts suffer from dry eyes. I'm the opposite, the trouble being that on windy days, my eyes would water and quite simply my lenses would often blow out of my eyes!

We are off to Tesco's and in the in store opticians. The other day I lost the screw holding in my lens, so after trying to repair them myself and failing, we thought we would go and see about new glasses.

They repaired them free of charge, not only that but they replaced a previous repair of mine and gave them a good clean, so felt obliged to book an eye sight test.

I wonder if my new glasses will last as long!

Till later.......................

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

What Are Crab Sticks Made Of?

Well, it really should be of no surprise that crab sticks are not made of crab!

I quite like them, well I did till I took at glance at the contents of one of these little things.

Amongst other things the main ingredients is Surimi. So what is Surimi, well click on the word to find out! It's Chinese translation is Fish Puree or Slurry!

I then wanted to know how they make the tops of the stick the bright colour that they are?

It says no artificial colours so I was a little intrigued.

So good old wiki helped me out as the ingredients states that Carmine is used.

Carmine, is produced by boiling certain types of insects in ammonia! Yes I did just say insects. In fact it is a cochineal scale.

Not only that but I went on to read that this process and colourant is also used in yogurt and certain fruit juices!

Not too sure that I will be eating many more of these from now on, hope I haven't put anyone off!

Till later................ 

Sunday, 10 June 2012

How Much Does It Cost To Live In A Caravan

I  have been asked on more than one occasion exactly how much does it cost to live in our caravan on a full time basis.

This is just a rough guide to what you could expect to pay living the same way we do, which is 100% legal and complying with all rules and regulations that we are aware of.

At this point I would like to state that the purchase cost of the caravan is not included or any associated equipment.

Site Fees: These vary from site to site depending on the level of facilities that you require.

We always go for the small 5 site only pitches, these tend to have less facilities but that is the way we like it. Our budget for site fee's this year is £14.00 per night which would include electric hookup.

Our current site is in the heart of the New Forest and it has a shower and a loo and we are paying £13.00 per night. No extras for dogs, cars or awnings!

Considering our location this is a good price, we also know of another site really close that only charges £10.00 per night including electric but it has no shower or loo's.

So these sites are around, you just have to do a bit of research.

We use on average one 6kg bottle of propane every 30 days at a rough price of £24.00

Insurance for our caravan is roughly £300.00 a year.

That my fellow tin can tuggers is about it!

So you don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out the savings.

Living in bricks and mortar (we were renting) including all bills associated with the house was costing us £1200.00 plus per month.

I make it that our running costs this month have been £439.00 a saving of over £761.00 !!

Now if you still think we are mad then you had better have a reality check yourself!

I will be totally honest, the way that 2011 went for us financially, we would not of been able to afford to live in our old house. We would of had to of been evicted to gain any sort of housing help.

This way we have still kept our dignity, and had a reasonable standard of living as well.

Living in a caravan is no chore at all, well not for us. Everyone is different, it will work for some and not for others.

But before you dismiss the idea as barking mad, take a good look at your surroundings and where you live. Are you 100% happy?

Would you like to wake up and here bird song, live in a totally relaxing atmosphere, have a lawn that requires no mowing by yourself? The variety of living in different area's and the fun of finding out new places to eat, drink and visit. If you don't like your neighbors, you have two choices, you can move yourself or be safe in the knowledge that they will be gone in 2 weeks of less!

These are just some of the many benefits to living the way we do.

Of course, if you have read this blog from the beginning you will of seen that it is not all plain sailing, but of course nor is living in a house!

I hope that helps, but if you have any questions, no matter how daft please feel free to email me and I will try my best to get back to you as soon as I can.

Till later.........................

Friday, 8 June 2012

So What's The Plan?

So far it's been a year of change, many things have happened and are happening as we speak.

I guess the biggest thing that has happened has been for me to pass my PSV test which enables me to drive a bus or coach. One of the buses that I drive below! You have to be careful when you pull into this stop as the camber on the road is severe, a normal bus is fine, but with a double decker your wheels can be 6" from the curb but the roof due to the lean is hanging 2ft over the curb! The same thing has to be considered when driving along country roads with trees, telegraph poles and buildings.

For any bus spotters it's an Optare Spectra. A low floor 75 seater.

I took this photo of the bus I was driving in Blandford Forum.

Photo: Today I will be mostly driving a red bus! 
I started working for a company which is part of a large group and am now waiting for a transfer date to a depot closer to where we want to be for the foreseeable future.

With all these changes to our working week it has been impossible to do any of the vintage rallies that we enjoy so much. We have not exhibited at one yet! 

We are not even sure when we can next do one due to me changing depot's and starting a new shift rota.

So things are a little bit up in the air, which is about right considering the weather we are having at the moment!

The site we are on is almost full, a family packed their tent up last night and escaped home, which was probably a wise move, just one other large family tent on site which remained up even with 60mph gusts of wind!

We are now currently located half way between Lymington and New Milton, which is great for trips to the coast (10 mins) or the forest (5 mins).

Last night we took a trip to Milford on Sea and had a bag of chips and watched the waves for a bit. Splendid!

Hurst castle is what you can see if you follow the coast line and to the right is the Isle Of Wight.

Photo: Chips by the sea! Gale force winds & plenty of surf!

I can't see us moving from this area for a while, it has everything you could possibly want.

With our future mapped out for us we can finally start to long term plan and save, as we will know what our combined incomes will be (I will even be having a pay rise due to the company change)!

So a lot to look forward to, just a shame that it may take us the rest of the year to get things straight!

Till later......................

Thursday, 7 June 2012

High Wind

I spent today driving a colander! I had water coming up through the floor, the dashboard and through the roof!

The weather is terrible, the rain has stopped but that's been replaced by high wind.

This evening as a precaution we have parked both 4x4s directly infront of the awning to try and deflect some of the wind. It's not working that well but as we have no other options it's all we can do.

The caravan is taking a real battering, I think it's going to be a long night. So another check on the storm straps and settle down for some kip.

Till later...... P.S. Written from my phone!


Survived the night, had to set my alarm for every 1 1/2 hours to check on awning, no further damage, just one pole down which came down after 0530hrs. 

Still windy on site, so staying put today, thankfully I've got the day off as I'm working tomorrow.

Till later............

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

God Save The Queen

This weekend we celebrate 60 glorious years of our Queen's reign. I for one am tremendously proud of our heritage and our Royal family.

It's been great these last few days driving around and seeing all the bunting up and flags flying.

We are probably the only country in the world that could hold such a public display of celebration for it's sovereign. Of course there are certain countries who round their people up to celebrate whether they like it or not.

But here in this fabulous country of ours, where not everything always runs as we wish, we can celebrate at will, and long may that continue.

After watching the various ceremonies on the TV, I myself have been moved to tears on more than one occasion.

The sense of pageantry, history and the spectacle of what has happened over the last few days has simply been mind blowing.

Today, watching on tv the procession, I really do believe that the Great is back in Great Britain!

Our caravan has been decked out with Union Jacks this weekend, and we have had the pleasure of Mr Gulliver and his young son who stayed a couple of nights.

Photo: Flags flying, sun shining, beer cracked open - God Save The Queen!

A fantastic weekend, that not even the weather could spoil.

With only one more thing to say I hope you all had a Royally great weekend.

God Save The Queen!

Till later............... 

Saturday, 2 June 2012

How To Pick A Camp Site For Fulltiming

We are often asked how we go about looking or picking a site suitable for full timing.

To start with, we drive to the site and have a look around it, we do literally drive into the site.

This does a couple of things, firstly we see how tight it would be to get our caravan onto site in the first place. Back when we started we made the mistake of not doing this and had a bit of a problem getting out once we were in. So always worth checking out!

Whilst we are talking about getting in and out, how many gates do we have to go through, and how easy are they to open/close. Whilst on holiday it doesn't matter if the gates creak or are heavy, but when you are leaving the site early in the morning, the last thing you want is rusty creaking gates to open.

Once on site you get to see the layout, how close the pitches are, where the water etc is all located, and above all, how maintained it is.

We only stay on small 5 pitch sites, we just cant be doing with the bigger sites. The site we are currently on is only small, with a gate to open, a loo and a shower (which is free and has loads of hot water)!

When we book into a site for the first time after we have checked it out for suitability we never say we are full timers. Why should we? We book in for 2 or 3 weeks, then once we have spoken to the owners a few times, then if we feel it is right we tell them what we do.

This has always worked for us. On our current site we did this and now have a great relationship with the owner. We plan on staying here for a while, abiding by the 28 day rule of course.

The owner likes it, it is guaranteed  money for them, we are happy as we have a lovely pitch, so all are happy!

In fact we like it that much in our current location, that I have put in for a transfer and got it, so I will shortly be based at Lymington. This will be so much better for us as I currently have a 60 mile round trip to work everyday. My new base will mean only a 6 mile round trip! Not only that but my new company pays a lot better as well, so quids in!

I'm just waiting for a transfer date, which I'm hoping will be sooner rather than later.

Till later.............