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Saturday, 7th January 2017 – Planning Our Holidays.

The holiday planning starts! We have got five weeks' holiday this year. A week at Easter, two weeks at the end of May/beginning of June and two weeks at the end of August/beginning of September.

For Easter we have booked a holiday let in Merazion, Cornwall with views across to St Michael’s Mount. This was booked last year before we had taken delivery of Quasi, so that’s why we are not caravanning at Easter. In fact the little apartment is so cheap, especially given it is Easter, that it would not seem to make a lot of sense towing the caravan all the way to Cornwall.

Our two weeks in May/June will be caravanning and we have decided to make it a “two centre” holiday. We have, today booked up a Caravan Club Certificated Location just outside Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire. CLs are very small sites – maximum five pitches for CC members only. Little Nook Farm is an adults only site and has terrific views across the South Pennines and is midway between Bradford and Halifax so should be a really interesting location. For our second week we are thinking of somewhere round Llangollen/Wrexham in North Wales.

August/September, the plan is to take the trailer tent to France – the Auvergne. It will be quite a long drive and with the weather probably quite hot, we figure the trailer tent will still have a part to play. We will see!

Wednesday, 11th January 2017 – Holiday Planning Update.

After what was beginning to seem like an impossible task, it appears that Wendy has cracked it and found a suitable location for our second week in the caravan! Every site we looked at was either too big, too small, too isolated, too commercialised, too noisy, not easily accessible – you name it, but the deed has now been done and we are booked for 7 nights on a smallish campsite on the edges of Carrog, backing onto the heritage steam railway station, 500 m from a pub. Oh, and there are good walks directly from the site.

Having “travelled” some of the journey on Google Maps, Wendy has now also sanctioned the purchase of a caravan-specific SatNav system. Some of the roads that Google Maps expected us to use upon leaving Hebden Bridge would be a bit hairy in a car, let alone towing the van. We are off to the Caravan Show at the NEC in a few weeks and will see what we can pick up there. Anything that makes our lives easier and less stressful when travelling will add to the enjoyment.

Sunday, 15th January 2017 – Has Emjaytoo Sold?

Kim was supposed to be going to the London Boat Show on Friday, but Thursday night we had some severe weather – high winds, freezing temperatures and snow! Friday was not really a good day to be going anywhere so it was very fortunate that Kim didn’t have to go to work.

So, you might think that on Saturday, when the weather had improved, Kim would have been on the train up to London. Wendy, of course thought the whole idea of going to a boat show, when we have now moved on from boating, was a complete waste of time and money. What Kim thought was not quite clear, except, he didn’t go!

What did happen was that on Friday, we got an e-mail from the brokerage at Delta Marina to say that there was some serious interest in Emjaytoo. Some offer and counter offers were made and on Saturday we got an e-mail to say the potential buyer was happy with the price, subject to a viewing. Since he is in Hungary, he will now fly to the Netherlands to view Emjaytoo. So fingers crossed! It would be nice to sell her before the insurance is up for renewal (May).

Next Saturday is Kim’s 60th Birthday! Whilst Wendy’s 60th passed without any “fanfare” (well, it was Boxing Day and Kim was in bed, ill the whole day), for Kim’s we are planning a weekend away in Quasi (the caravan). It is all subject to the weather, but we have found a site over at Horsham that not only is open, but has a restaurant and has live music on the Saturday night. Just hope we haven’t left it too late to book. On the other hand, we could be dashing over to Delta Marina to sign the paperwork on Emjaytoo! If she sells this month, it will be ironic that ten years ago we were at the boat show putting down our deposit!

Obviously the prospect of selling Emjaytoo is a good thing - given that that is why we put her up for sale after all - but somehow it put a damper on the whole weekend. We both know that it is the right and sensible thing to do, yet we are both heartbroken. Hopefully next weekend in the caravan will be a success and remind us that there is life after Emjaytoo.

Sunday, 22nd January 2017 – 60th Birthday And A Bittersweet Birthday Present.

So, Saturday was Kim's 60th birthday and we had planned a weekend away in the caravan to celebrate. Having found a suitable site near Horsham, we held off booking it until Tuesday as Wendy was a bit apprehensive about the weather (forecast to be very cold) and also we wondered if we might have to dash over to Delta to sign paperwork.

By the middle of last week it was agreed with the broker that we wouldn't have to go to Delta to sign the contract so we went ahead and booked the site and the restaurant for Saturday evening.

We picked the van up from the storage yard on Friday morning and after a problem with the mover refusing to work, headed off round the M25, arriving at the site around 14:00hrs. Kim found the towing a lot more comfortable than the last time, so presumably the more he does it the more confidence he gains. Wendy is also (slowly!) gaining confidence as a passenger!

We had booked a lakeside plot and although daytime temperatures were barely above freezing, the weather was fabulous for the time of year.

We have very high atmospheric pressure at the moment, so that means clear blue skies, brilliant sunshine, cold in the day and freezing overnight. After setting up, we drove to the outskirts of Horsham to a big Tesco's and got a “two dine in for a tenner” meal deal and went back to the van. With the heating on full, we were soon as warm as toast and with the telly on, the curtains drawn and a can of beer each it was all very gezellig!

Although we didn't see it until Saturday morning, on Friday afternoon Ad sent an e-mail to confirm that the Hungarian had liked Emjaytoo and the sale is therefore going ahead. He also enclosed the contract for us to sign and return, so it is sadly all very real now.

Saturday lunchtime we went into Horsham for a wander around and called in to see Marion, Wendy's ex-sister-in-law who has a local produce shop/cafe in Horsham. We spent a very enjoyable half an hour, had a coffee and chatted with Marion and “PJ” before heading back to the van for a late lunch and walk around the site.

The site is based on a collection of fishing ponds/lakes

and has caravan pitches plus lodges and various types of “glamping pods”. It was surprising how busy it is. There are plenty of woodland walks within the site complex and again the weather was very crisp and cold, with very thick ice on all the water.

In the evening we went over to the restaurant called Café By the lake. The evening was basically brilliant, but spoilt by little glitches! Firstly, we arrived at about 19:30 to be told, when Wendy ordered a burger that they had just run out of burgers. She then decided to go for their special, braised steak and creamy mash. They then ran out of mash! In the end we both settled for the chicken & mushroom pie which was excellent. In fact all the food was excellent, the service was prompt, but you shouldn’t run out of core menu items at the beginning of a Saturday evening. Whilst the service was prompt, the waitresses often looked lost, not knowing which dishes/drinks were for which tables. The big disappointment for Wendy was when our deserts arrived. Wendy had specifically gone over to the restaurant earlier that morning to request some “special birthday” treatment for Kim’s dessert – sparklers or candles, something to mark the “momentous” occasion! The staff had carefully made notes and told Wendy that it would no problem, then completely forgot!

The live performer, Hollie Rogers, was really good. We were seated a good distance back, close enough to see and hear, but not so close as to be deafened.

Kim was so impressed that he bought both her CD albums that she was selling in the interval.

The final glitch on the evening was the staff not paying enough attention to the big log burners which, given the freezing conditions outside and the fact that we were actually sat in a large tent, were essential. In the end we had to ask them to put more logs on the fire as it was starting to get really cold.

Having said all that, it was a really great evening and very reasonably priced, especially when they knocked a bit off for their dessert faux pas!

Back at the van we cranked the heating up and after a coffee, settled in to bed. The converted front seating makes a very comfortable double

and we were not the slightest bit cold, even with the roof vent open like at home.

In the morning, after our customary cuppa in bed, the water stopped working. Kim had been over to the site showers, but Wendy wanted to have a wash on board. The fact that she then had to traipse across to the showers in the freezing cold left her very grumpy! We first thought that the water had frozen up, but by the time Wendy had returned from a “less than satisfactory” shower, Kim had sorted out the problem. As the water level had dropped in the water butt, the submersible pump had risen up and out of the water. A bit of jiggling and it was sorted. He then set about trouble-shooting the mover. The chap at the storage yard had said that it might have a reset button. In fact it turned out to have a thermal cut out switch that had automatically reset itself. So Kim actually didn’t have to do anything to it! You might ask why the thermal switch had cut out. Hmm, well, when we were trying to hitch the van to the car at the yard Kim was trying to move the van with the hand brake on! He didn’t try for that long, but when he realised and let the hand brake off the mover refused to work. It was all quite a relief that two potential problems – the water and the mover, turned out to be learning curve lessons. We’ll get there!

The journey back to the yard was fairly uneventful, except for Kim not paying enough attention to our route and thus we ended up having to go through Reigate and up Reigate Hill, but it all adds to his experience of towing the caravan. It was also a reminder to Wendy to pay more attention and double check our route as a wrong turn up an inappropriate road could be quite problematic to get out of.

So, all in all, a very successful weekend, Kim thoroughly enjoyed his birthday

and we have sold Emjaytoo.

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