Monday, 10 October 2011

Pick yourself up and try again!

Hello again, laptop is back... well it never left really, but packing and phoning and sorting isn't very interesting in the first place, far less writing about it as well.

One week today and Archie and I move to France. The van resolutely stays here! He reinvented himself as a storage shed, inconsiderate @^£$! Remember the very expensive key/fob thingy? Well it decided it didn't like talking to the immobiliser after all, that along with all the other iffy bits made me decide to forget it, I cant trust it to even start, far less go 1200 miles. Its not easy giving in but sometimes its best.

Lessons learnt:
1. vans that cost £300 are shit.
2. positive thinking does not apply to mechanics.
3. when things go pear shaped, just wait a wee while and generally all problems are surmountable.

So, I am hiring a van to get me, Archie and my stuff to France. The delightful Adrian is allowing my shed to stay on his driveway for the time being and is even making the trip with me to return the hire van. 17 hour drive, a few days sussing out how stuff works in France, then Adrian makes the return 17 hour journey, and I'm alone in France with Archie. Its not quite the dream I had, but life's like that. I don't get my solo drive into the sunset, I don't get my meandering 3 to 4 week journey through the country, visiting friends and relatives, showing off my newly build lovely van, I don't get my £20K profit from the house to play with... but I do get to go to somewhere..... for now, that will do.

I am saving hard to buy another van, as soon as I possibly can (I'm homeless once the work in France dries up). Hopefully before the end of the year I will be back to playing with bits of wood, losing pencils and swearing at pipes.  Target is £1000 for the base van and I'm recruiting my brother into selecting it this time (hindsight is such an arrogant git!).  Hopefully I can get another Renault Master ambulance, I really like the interior and the parts and fittings I already have can be easily used again. I hate selling stuff, its such a hassle, photographing, advertising, posting etc... There are heaps of good bits on my shed, it would make life much simpler if I could re-use them myself.

Oh, I bought a bike, £10 from the recycling place! Will I ever learn? No, I'm broke....if I want something, it has to be cheap or I just have to keep wanting it.  Unfortunately, the bracket and basket required for Archie will cost me £60... I might just buy the bracket (£18) and rig something else up for the basket. The nearest shop, from my abode in France is about 6 miles away, on the other side of a forest.  I have the use of a land rover discovery in France but with a 4 litre engine, I would be silly to waste money on bombing about in it, besides I'm not entirely confident about driving on the wrong side of the road!  Why the basket? have you tried cycling through the streets of a strange town with a very agile little dog running beside you? I thought not, or you wouldn't have asked.

Am I excited? no, not really... I'm getting all sorts of weird vibes from family and friends about leaving. Of course this may just be my guilt at abandoning everyone or more likely my complete ineptitude at learning French, but its weird none the less.  I've been talking about this for over a decade, I think they all thought I was waffling (not a poor conclusion, I have been known to waffle occasionally) now I'm actually going, it doesn't seem that big a deal to me. Its only France, you can get a train to France, and I will no doubt be back very soon.  It is nice that folk will miss me, but please stop being sad, its scary enough as it is!

Monday, 22 August 2011

The End of the Blog, as we know it....

This blog is going to die, not least because I have far to much to do and am really struggling to find time and motivation to continue writing it.... (on the off chance that anyone other than I actually reads it)

The project is continuing, but my laptop is going to start college next week with my daughter, so my internet access is going, and Im not keen enough to try and write a blog from my mobile.

Good luck to you all X

Friday, 29 July 2011

And now we can pee (but only if we really really have to!)

As I don't have a fridge yet and I am unlikely to do better than a coolbox in the near future, I decided to put the shower/loo box thingy in the fridge space, I think it fits rather nicely there and doesn't eat into much floor space.  It makes a rather handy little bench too, perfect height for putting your feet up!  Also it is in an ideal location to soak your feet in while sat on the sofa.... I can't finish it yet, i.e. seal it, as the gas pipe will run behind it somewhere, but its only a box screwed to the woodwork either side, so its easy to move for now.

Table/seat.. (table top yet to be added)

My utterly sophisticated emergency loo (yes its a bucket!)

Shower tray

It needs sanded, sealed and tidied but Im pleased with it. I will put some hinged worktop over the lid to hide its real function...and drill a hole in the floor for the drain....talking of worktop, we went to the dump yesterday and found (I love freebies!!)...

4 large-ish sheets of 18mm ply and a lovely wee folding table, I'm a happy girl, worktop can be fitted next week without costing a penny!  I had planned on buying a length of worktop from Ikea at £60 which would give the van a smarter finish, but the buzz of getting something free over rules!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Reassess and rewrite plan.

The last month has been boring, frustrating and humbling.... But as ever there are plenty of silver linings around, so not all is lost... :)  Bare in mind, my main plan of 'taking off and seeing what happens'... well this is how its happening, for good and bad.

I'm in the process of becoming insolvent, which isn't quite as bad as it sounds... The house is not selling and every month brings me closer to disaster, so I've surrendered...kind of. The longer the house is on the market, the more I have to eat into any collateral therein, and I'm rapidly reaching the point where I'll still be in debt once it does sell. I have therefore started insolvency proceedings, which should be formalised next week..Square 1, isn't a bad place to be.  This leaves me, I think, with a van and a dog and no money....I've been in worse situations!

But what I also have is work and accommodation waiting for me in France (for an unspecified time).  I have been offered a house sitting/gardening/project manager/labourer post in Brittany, which suits me down to the ground (literally). All I have to do is get there, around 1100 miles.

As it is doubtful whether the van will pass another MOT, it makes sense to get the van to France before the end of November. This time scale changes the level of finishing quite considerably. The van and interior are now only required to provide adequate accommodation and transport for a few weeks.  I plan on leaving here mid September (arriving in France early October), so I have 6 weeks to get the van running, safe and taxed along with somehow providing cooking and washing facilities (albeit minimal).  Everything must be done on the very very cheap; the diesel costs alone are a struggle (AA reckon £300), far less ferry (£100) and food etc.. I should really get breakdown cover too.

Anyway, I'll return to the van in a later blog (once I've reassessed what really has to be done) My shifts at work have changed and Ive spent the last month clearing and sorting the house ready to vacate, so the van is my main priority now...(well besides a million other things, like learn French! Eeeeek!)...

Any advise will be appreciated on cheapness and easiness, so don't be afraid to tell me I'm doing something daft....the clock is ticking to my long awaited drive down the A9 away from life as I know it, and I am so excited (and a little scared!)

Monday, 20 June 2011

And stop!

Van is on hold at the moment and for the next couple of months, need to spend time sorting other stuff...

Friday, 10 June 2011

Fatal Flaw, realised at 3am!

The shower can't go behind the sliding door.... The shower head will reach but I won't be able to reach the tap to control the temperature (assuming at some point, I will have temperature to control)..... grrrr

Back to the drawing board....again :)

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Decision made.

The shower box is going behind the sliding door, the tap reaches over.... pics to explain...

As a tap.
As a shower.

The tap, I liked this tap, its a bit on the large side but its dual function amuses me somewhat... And as it reaches happily from the Kitchen area across the van, I can easily site the shower behind the sliding door... leaving the heater free and giving access to the cab and kitchen cupboards.  Just need to work out what kind of unobtrusive hook/bracket/support to use to hold the shower head in place when required....Im thinking velcro strap for easiness, will think more on this.

The position of the shower box.

Tomorrow I'll turn this blue plastic thing into a seat, I think... or upholster the sofa arms (which I didn't do today, but I did rope my sister into advising.... and leaving with fabric and measurements for some blinds....thanks Susan)

Most of my time today was spent designing the storage bags over the bed, its so easy to get carried away with planning forgetting that actually executing these ideas is an entirely different thing.

One more pic....Archie helping!