‘On an Adventure before Dementia’

Further to my recent post and our change of emphasis for our lives, Irene and I thought we would go back to Caravanning, something we had been quite keen on when we first got together, when we had many happy ‘rallies’, holidays and trips together in the ‘van’. Recently we purchased a caravan locally that was really good value and when we got it home we were very pleased with it.  However, we soon realised it wasn’t going to be big enough to take us and four dogs away, so we parked it in our yard as extra ‘accommodation’ for visitors.  We then had to move it and realised we were not as young as we once were, and the thought of struggling to put up an awning as well filled is with foreboding!

As luck would have it we managed to sell the Caravan again quite quickly and started looking for something more suitable. Irene had her eye on a twin wheel caravan to start with but, after our struggle to move the smaller one, we had second thoughts about a caravan at all.  Getting set up on site was always a ‘bit of a fag’ and we were not sure we just wanted to stay in one place for any length of time now.  The fact we had seen hardly any of Wales in the 13 years we had been here, it seemed more appropriate to be able to move on quickly, and a caravan is not the ideal solution for that.

We started looking at Motorhomes and soon realised that a new one was well out of our budget.  We had also heard horror stories of Motorhomes not being able to get through small villages etc, being expensive to run, not ideal for going shopping in and you could lose your pitch whilst you were away from it.  Not very promising!  We started researching on the internet and Facebook and soon realised that these reservations could be overcome quite easily.  There are many Facebook groups for Motorhomers and Campervans with some people using their ‘vans’ full time.  Our interest was piqued.  Gary had recently received an ‘underpayment’ on his pension, which wasn’t a fortune, but was probably enough to get us started so we decided we would ‘invest’ the money in a used motorhome rather than sticking it in the savings account.  After all, we weren’t getting any younger.

We started looking more intently when one day Irene came to me and said ‘Take a look at this’.  She had found a large motorhome for sale locally that was within our budget which, considering it was 20 years old, was in very good condition with ‘only’ 52,000 miles on the clock.  Being a very sceptical ex-copper I wasn’t too sure of its pedigree but, as with all things, you cannot judge a book by its cover.

Having spoken to the current owners and arranged a viewing we were informed that they had owned it for 6 years and were reluctantly parting with it (I love a good sob story!) due to moving to Wales and having lots of work to do on their house (That sounded familiar) When we met them to view the van we soon realised they were a genuine couple and were very sad to see her go, but the last thing they wanted was for it to stand on their driveway for a couple of years and slowly rust away.  We were given a full tour of the van which to us, bearing in mind we had done very little research, looked perfect for our needs.  I guess our experience of buying and owning caravans stood us in good stead as the only difference was that this ‘van’ was on a vehicle chassis and had an engine!  The couple were very enthusiastic showing us around and the man then came out with a yellow box file of papers with all the servicing paperwork, repair receipts, m.o.t’s etc over the years they had owned it.  They still had the original owners manual from 1998 and all the instructions for the internal appliances and equipment.  To cap it all they were willing to let all their ‘extras’ go with it so that for us it was pretty much ready to go.  She had obviously been well looked after.

We secured a price and arranged to come back a couple of days later to be shown how everything worked.  The couple were very kind and helpful and they also answered all of our questions and our reservations and it was obvious that ‘Bessie’ as we now called her had given them many years of pleasure.

When asking them about the issue of ‘losing your pitch’ they advised us that they towed a small car behind the motorhome which they used once on site for shopping, sight seeing etc. ‘What sort of car?’ I said, ‘That sort’ pointing out a little Toyota Aygo just over the way. ‘Is that for sale too’ I said and they replied ‘We are sure we can reach a deal’.  We negotiated a price, gave them a substantial deposit and left to gather the cash to pay for it all, with our heads spinning wondering if we had made the right decision.  A few days later after completing a bank transfer we became the proud owners of a 1998 Bessacar AutoCruise Impala on a Fiat Ducato Al-Ko chassis with a 2.5 tdi engine and a ’61 plate Toyota Aygo Ice.  When we collected the van, complete with hooked up Aygo in tow, the couple kindly accompanied us home with the outfit to allay our fears, which incidentally proved groundless, and on arrival at home we spent a pleasant hour chatting and drinking coffee and showing them around our smallholding.

This was a monumentous decision on our part and made on the spur of the moment, but sometimes you have to go with your gut feelings and just ‘do it’.  We are glad we did.

We have now owned ‘Bessie’ for just over a month and we have been ‘away’ in her every weekend so far, sometimes just staying for the day near a beach for the dogs, and a couple of overnighters.  We have already started to make it our own and Sam, the former lady owner of the couple, has been to visit us twice and commented on the ‘posh’ hubcaps we had purchased.  She seemed pleased that we had already started to make her our own.

Have we made the right decision?  Right now that’s a yes, but time will tell.  It is plenty big enough for us with our four dogs and the freedom it gives us to just up sticks and go is quite liberating.  We cannot go too far just yet as we still have animals at home that cannot be left for extended periods, but as time moves on I can see us making more and more use of our ‘house on wheels’

As the title says, we are now ‘On and Adventure before Dementia’ and we are going to make the most of it.

More to come!

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