Back into the UK After 10 Months Away

Zagan the motorhome’s in storage. His water system’s been drained down to avoid freezing, and he’s stood surrounded by hundreds of caravans and vans at a farm about a mile from where we live, in stasis. Although we spend long periods away, we opted to pay the £365 a year to keep the storage space so we could just drop in and out of the UK without worrying about where we could leave the van. There’s a parking space at our house but (a) the tenants have it as part of the deal and (b) the van wouldn’t fit in it anyway!

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What’s changed? Ten months away’s not long in the big scheme of things. The lady at the passport office in Harwich thought otherwise and was astonished we’d been roaming about for so long, but from our eyes much looks the same. The traffic driving home was fine, and I managed to persuade my brain not to drift back to the right. Arriving home we unloaded our clothes, food and the like from Zagan into the Cooler, said hello to the tenants who handed us a massive box of post, and hugged my parents who’d got the fridge and heating going for us. Ju’s been on a wash-a-thon since then, and Zagan’s been in for an MOT and service – more about the results of that, and the other things we’ve needed to do to get back on the road, in a later post.

And just like that we’re back. Apart from the novelty of just plugging gadgets in without checking the battery condition then clicking on the inverter, and just using water willy-nilly, and being able to fire up our wood-burner, and not needing to flick the fridge between 12V and gas, life’s just continuing. I guess the biggest thing I notice about being back is how I become more used (not completely used) to not working. During the week daytime we’ve been getting lots of stuff done. There are no queues, no traffic, no rush, most folks are at work. Whenever I used to have a day off I’d feel bad about being seen in the street between 9am and 5pm, but no more. In fact it’s almost a shock folks have to be at work so much. I know, I know, it’s crazy, but it really drives home to me the financial situation we’ve worked ourselves into.

That said, as we drove home we chatted about the possibility of ‘bigger’ travel projects in the future. North America, Australia and New Zealand are probably the first ‘non-Europe/north Africa’ targets, maybe after Asian Turkey. These may well end up costing more than our£15k a year budget allows (or they may not, we need to do the research) and, if we want to do them before age 55, we’d either have to eat into our capital or, ahem, do some work. The latter was always an option in our minds, but we’re not looking for work just yet…

We’re just off out now to catch up with Ju’s family in Nottingham. As it’s Bonfire Night here in the UK Charlie’s being dog-sat at my parents (thanks folks), because he’s scared silly of the KABOOMs of fireworks which go off all night (one went off at 7am this morning). Tomorrow we’re having a Buckley family get-together and then on Monday, wait for it, we’re in a HOTEL! Yeah baby! We’ve booked a hotel in Nottingham for the night, which has a, wait for it again, a BATH! Oooh yeah, we’ve not seen a bath for I don’t know how long, at least a year (we’ve had a few showers of course).

Right-o, better go, cheers, Jay

13 Comments

  1. Great to hear that you got back to UK safely, and even better to discover you are thinking about your next big trip. We have just embarked on a year-long journey, visiting every country in the EU, and your website is a great resource for us, so we just wanted to say thanks. And keep writing. All the best. Susan and Nigel.

  2. Can’t wait for the Morocco posts! We spent 8 weeks in New Zealand on (I think!) a £50 a day budget. We went in July and August which is their mid-winter so campervan hire from Queenstown up to Auckland was dirt cheap and you can stay in cheap or free DoC campsites. Weather was beautiful and mostly mild above Wanaka. You can definitely do it on a budget. Australia was more expensive! Are you finding the drop in the pound is making it more difficult to budget in Europe at the moment?

  3. Wonder how many times you will habitually reach for the toilet vane lever? But it’s great to be able to stand to pee! We too occasianally book a hotel room, just for the bath, for Angie, not me. I do hope Zagan’s not going to cost you too much, but whatever it cost, it will be worth it, it’s a great unit. Have a fesh pulled pint of the ‘Real Stuff’ for me mate. Kindest…Wayne.

    • Haha, only reached for it a few times! Zagan won’t be cheap but our garage does a solid job. Already had a few (too many) fresh pints, but just for you, I’ll have a few more. Cheers, enjoy the southern end of Europe, Jay

    • Hi Nelson I wish that was a fridge freezer! It’s our wardrobe – half each. Had to downsize massively on clothes, but soon you realise you don’t wear about 80% of what you own! We have a small fridge near the sofa, but as we live a 5 minute walk from a supermarket, we let them keep everything cold and frozen for us until we need it.

  4. good to hear your back, would be interested to know all about Charlie’s sides of things to please, we are dog slaves as well and he takes the biggest chunk of concerns, how are you planning to do Morocco with Charlie by the way is it on the dog passport scheme

    • Hi Peter! The pet passport scheme is worldwide now, so you can bring a dog back into the UK from anywhere. You can’t always take a dog into other non EU countries though (even some EU countries have special requirements, namely UK and some of Scandinavia need a worming treatment before entry), so you need to do research. We’ve been to Morocco before with Charlie, leaving from and returning to Spain. He’s had a pet passport for years, and we’ve always been able to bring him into the EU and UK without issues. If you talk to your vet they should know the scheme requirements, though some aren’t fully up to date so we double checked with Defra. For Morocco and Southern Europe, as well as the Pet Passport and his usual yearly vaccines, worming tablets and flea/tick treatments, we use a sandfly treatment to help protect against Leishmaniasis, and we keep an eye out for processional caterpillars. Last up, I carry a stick to keep wild dogs away – never needed to actually hit one, they see the stick and stay away. Ah, it’s also worth being aware of the local view of dogs, some North Africans love Charlie, others (including grown men) are terrified of him. We keep him well under control as a result. It all sounds daunting writing it down, but it wasn’t really, we just did our preparation and everything worked out. Cheers, Jay

  5. Hi. Enjoyed reading your back home blog. I hope you haven’t got the ‘no flip flops, I want to be on the road again,blues’ yet. When we get back home I always look at the house and think- crikey, why do we need all that stuff! Then we spent days moving things from one place to another and that feels daft because when in the van, everything has it’s place ( even if you sometimes forget where that place is…) Gearing up for a snowfall here after a no van trip to Devon sunshine so had to nip up to check the van was okay…..and just sit in it for a minute….

  6. Hi Jason and Julie,
    We are long time readers of your blog – you’ve given us invaluable advice for our own year-long trip which is now underway. We’ve just finished 6 weeks in Spain and Portugal in our 26-year old T25 VW campervan and we will be heading to Morocco soon (we’ve a blog about it on http://www.campervanmatters.com). Is there any chance our paths will cross in Morocco? We will be there until just after Christmas when we will be heading back through Spain and on to Greece, ending up in Iceland.
    Cheers,
    Helen and Stuart

    • Hey guys! Sounds like a cracking tour – we’re heading for Morocco in the new year but may see you in Spain – would be great to catch up if our paths can be made to cross. Cheers, have fun, Jay

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