Is it me, or have things changed? 20 days since return

Cricket Trent Bridge
English cider, cricket and storm clouds - the English summer we came home to enjoy
Cricket Trent Bridge
English cider, cricket and storm clouds – the English summer we came home to enjoy

We’ve been back home for around 20 days now, and things are slowly becoming normal again. Which is why I felt compelled to write this blog post now, before I forget the odd little things that have struck me since we got back to the UK. Apart from a short return in November 2016, during which we were so busy catching up with family and friends, doctors, dentists and getting an MOT done that we didn’t really notice anything, we’ve been on the road since January 2016 – 18 months.

Whenever we get back we ask folks what’s new? What have we missed? What have they been up to? And usually the answer to all of these questions is ‘nothing much’.

Hot peas at Nottngham's Riverside Festival
You don’t get these abroad!

I guess it’s a bit like a parent not noticing their child grow because they see them each day, only to find that their school trousers are two inches too short after the summer holidays. So, from my point of view, what has changed in those 18 months? Well, here goes:

  • Fidget Spinners – When we returned after our two year trip in 2013 the new thing was e-cigs and vaping stuff, this time it’s fidget spinners, they are everywhere. As far as I can tell they have no use, and unlike e-cigs I assume they are for children. Are they the modern version of bubble wrap popping? Our friend’s 8 year old son very proudly told us he has three, when I pointed out he only has two hands and asked why he needed three, he simply launched into a demonstration of their different coloured lights. I am still none the wiser.
  • Deliveroo – “Deliverwhat?” I asked as several chaps cycled past me at the bus stop. If you haven’t seen them yet, they all sport a square box about the size of a small fridge on their backs. Once on the bus a quick search on the internet (WiFi on our busses was here before we went away, but is still great) and it seems that box is the opposite of a small fridge as they were delivering takeaways.
  • Cars for only £135 – Now Zagan the van is in storage we were on the look out for a car, so how tempted was I when I spotted a lovely new car on a TV advert for only £135, prices have dropped massively since we’ve been away. Ah, hang on, what’s that, it’s £135 per month. And what’s that in the small print? A massive deposit, interest rate to make you weep and a huge end payment too. Err, no thanks. Since when did it become the norm to buy a car on finance?  Businesses have been leasing cars for years, but I’ve never known cars to be sold at a monthly price, I guess it does a good job of hiding the actual price. Personally this goes against everything I was taught about money growing up as a child. Save up until you can afford what you want, not the other way around.
  • Fast pace but getting nowhere – As soon as we rolled off the ferry at Dover we noticed a shift in drivers behaviour, everyone is in such a rush. Not only that but the odd few are willing to pull stupid stunts to save a precious few seconds, or to get one over on their fellow drivers and get ahead of them in the queue. I admit I used to do it too, but I think the stress of swapping lanes shaved more time off my life than I saved, so I won’t be doing it any more. The country seems to be one continual traffic jam (it took us 7 hours to drive 215 miles on motorway home from Dover, averaging just over 30 miles per hour). Perhaps this problem is all related to how cheap cars are these days (only £135) which leads to more on the road.
  • Things have got expensive – Not everything has, I can still get a tin of baked beans for 25p (if I buy a pack of 4, shop’s own brand), but little amounts have crept up on most stuff. A granary loaf used to be £1.35 and is now £1.50. I needed a new mascara and nearly dropped my basket when I saw the cheapest in the supermarket was £5 (needless to say I nipped to Wilkos and picked one up for £2 which does the same job). Diesel is now pretty much the same price as petrol, which is good for us in our diesel supping motorhome, but around 10p a litre more than when we left.
  • Micropubs – Often with standing room only, or just a couple of tables these little places are great. We’ve had one pop up in our town since we left and it’s doing a roaring trade. Of course we’ve nipped in to check it out and found it to be very welcoming and cheaper than a lot of the established pubs. The town next door now has several, so it looks like we are set for a few great nights out testing these new establishments.
  • Negativity – This may be me who has changed, but people seem so down on everything. Sitting on the bus all I hear are folks complaining about other folks, complaining about the bus journey or complaining about what was on TV last night. It also seems that the things they complain about aren’t their fault, it is always the fault of someone else. Maybe it is because I can once again understand what people are saying, but I do like to think that the sing-song voices I heard across Spain were discussing something far more interesting and positive. I think I may need to invest in some headphones to help keep my spirits up!

I suspect there are loads of other little things that have passed us by as we race headlong back into ‘normal’ life. Jay is contracting so spends most of his days in an office. At first it was a bit odd to be apart during the days again and we thought we would have loads more to talk about having not both seen and done the same thing all day, but strangely that’s not the case. Last night we ran out of things to say, a first in a very long time.

White room painting
Painting a white room white, can be a little confusing!

The tenants moved out of one of our rental properties last week after being in there for six years. So we’ve taken the opportunity to redecorate the house during the couple of weeks that it is vacant. This has meant much more work than we had planned, especially with Jay working full time, and finds us me physically tired at night while Jay is more mentally tired from the tsunami of information that is currently being thrown at him. Hopefully by this weekend the house will be finished and we’ll be able to relax again and enjoy being home for a little while.

Ju x

Dog arthritis medication
Charlie’s breakfast is more pills than pooch food at the moment as we try to sort out his arthritis
Dog wanting sandwiches
He hasn’t lost his appetite though!



  1. Good to hear you are settling in again! Wish you all the best. Success to Jay in his job and to you in whatever chores you do. I understand what you mean about new things, even on short term: I don’t often go into the city and always discover new shops, restaurants, bars etc… Never enter though, steer away from them as prefer to save up for … well the near future ;-)
    Hug to Charlie!

  2. Can’t wait to get on the road like you guys did. Right now I’m in the opposite position, stuck in the working world rutt. Saving hard now to hopefully hit the road next April or May. Hope ye settle back in without too much longing for the road again.

  3. Poor Charlie. Have you tried Yumove for his joints? My daughter works at PDSA and told us about them for our elderly spaniel who is full of lumps and bumps and arthritis. They made a real difference to her – she even started running again! You can give them in addition to Metacam. (I have no connection to Yumove, just been impressed with them and how they’ve helped our old girl’s mobility)

    • Thanks for getting in touch Gail. He takes Seraquin which I understand is very similar to Yumove. He’s at the vets again on Friday so I will ask them what the difference is. Sadly they think his problems are mainly neurological now, and as he is an old dog we’re just doing what we can to keep him happy – hence the tramadol tablets!

  4. £4 a pint!! It wasn’t £4 a pint when we left home, but it’s FOUR BLOODY POUNDS a pint now – that’s what’s changed!
    Disgusted of the Cotswolds

    • That’s what you get for living in a posh place. Max £3.50 here and a suitable stash brought back from France – have you drunk all of yours already?

      • Hard to stump up even £3.50 when a bottle Santa Rita Red can be got at a reduced price at Tesco. More and goes a much longer way.

  5. Definitely get the headphones and don’t watch the news. Don’t pay any attention to the weather forecasts, think sunny and it will happen. Enjoy your time at home and catching up with friend and family.

  6. Hi there both, totally agree with Ju – we were back in the uk June/July to see family, mot for van and us. Every year we come back we notice the changes, everything more expensive. We had our generator nicked by pikeys at West Bay. Now glad to be back on the road again, in France (making use of the free Aires) heading back to Portugal where we can live a good life that we can afford. Enjoy your time with family and we look forward with anticipation to you next travels. Our Charlie is suffering as well from arthritis on tablets. Keep on trucking. Sylv, Paul and Charlie – we met Jason at Alvor, we were the old fogies in naughty corner.

  7. Welcome back to pre Brexit England. People really should be careful what they wish for. The £ has lost massively against the Euro.
    I’m over 70 and am thankful that peace in Europe has reigned during my life time. Being in the EU has not been a coincidence.
    WE have had two elections in the last two years or so. Both, total cock-ups. They say that after the General election, the sea level in the channel rose by 50mm. A result of every one in Europe pi**ing themselves laughing.

  8. When we returned to the UK in July, at Eurotunnel Folkestone, the first thing that struck us was the abysmal road surfaces everywhere. Even the Motorway had big pot-holes. It’s frankly embarrassing that this is the first impression of the UK for many foreign visitors.
    The second thing was the sheer volume of traffic. There truly wasn’t anywhere we could use cruise-control. I know I’m part of the problem when I’m in a vehicle but we don’t seem far off total grid-lock.
    As a cyclist don’t even get me started on the condition of the smaller roads and lanes, it’s getting positively 3rd World out there.

    As for fidget-spinners, well I had “Clackers” as a child which broke fingers and wrists so I can’t criticise.

    The whole Pub/Beer culture in the UK has improved immeasurably over the last 5 years. I’m part of a Pub Cycling club (well it’s a cycling club but we end up in pubs all over the place). It used to be the same 3 or 4 Beers, from the big Brewers, in all the pubs. Local micro-breweries have broken the stranglehold and there are some fabulous pints in most pubs now (several Landlords are able to point at the micro-brewery across the road). Wonderful change for the better.

    We’re still counting the days until we can be back on the beautiful French tarmac, with not another vehicle in sight.

    Lee at

  9. @ Lee Hargreaves. Have to agree about road surfaces. We were told the roads in Portugal would be terible. Any we travelled on were like billiard tables compared to the M20 out of Dover which is a complete disgrace. Coming from Northern Ireland we always thought the roads in England would be an improvement – how wrong we were. We have been amazed at the poor quality roads we have travelled on.

    @Disgusted. Don’t order any Peroni, San Miguel or even Guinness in the Cotswolds or you will be nearer to £5 a pint than £4! We spent 2 months in the Cotswolds before moving to the Lake District and everything cost a fortune there.

  10. Hi Guys
    We are about to set off on our first ever 6 month adventure in our McLouis. The van is geared up for extended travel and wild camping, Gaslow, Solar Panel, twin leisure batteries etc, etc. Given your long trips in your van, if there was one tip for a 6 month trip what would it be?
    Your Blog has been followed for some time and an inspiration for setting up ours too and I would welcome being added to your list of Blogs. Thanks in advance.
    Angus & Mary
    PS We lived in East Leake for 16 years and bought our trusty McLouis from Don Amott at Hilton!

    • You’re very well set up, happy days! Best six months tip? Hmmm. Unless you have a hard deadline to be back, I suspect you’ll be out longer! That aside, I’d say to enjoy the freedom, relax but also push your boundaries, go places which people (who have never been themselves) might advise you not to. It’s a very beautiful world out there, the news fails utterly to do it justice. Have fun folks, Jay

      P.S. Just added you to the Fellow Travellers page, thanks for sending your blog!

  11. Travelling for an extended time always gives you a new sense of perspective when you get back to your home country!

    I’ve only really done it once before but it does make you really appreciate some things a lot more (e.g. the ridiculous amount of convenience we enjoy here in the UK), whilst showing up some other things you probably didn’t even notice before as a big negative about where you call home, such as the moaning and rushing around you noticed.
    Even driving in France for a couple of weeks last year, I noticed that last one in fact!
    Great idea to get all these thoughts down before you slip too far back into the groove to even notice! :)

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