So we did it….we sold, donated and threw away much of what we’ve accumulated over 14 years of marriage, used the minimal funds to purchase a 2003, Bailey Senator touring caravan and set off from our beautiful Portugal in search of cold, hard cash back in England to fund our round the world volunteer tour.
By no means was this an easy move….the decision sure- Warren and I are both very impulsive people, not adverse to taking risks. Some may say irresponsible or naive at times but for us that’s just life and that’s the way we have chosen to live it. So the decision was a piece of cake…our business in Portugal didn’t work out, we wanted to continue travelling but with 3 kids, 2 dogs and 2 cats we would need cash. The solution sell everything and move back to the UK for 18 months. But having a garage sale at your home and having people offer ludicrous amounts for your prized possessions, rummaging through items that are worth their weight in sentimental gold (50 cents for The Sneetches?! But we read that book to the kids every night for over a year-no, it’s not for sale!)…it was hard! I found myself in tears on numerous occasions that morning but by day two, the cash started coming in, I reevaluated and I was ready to move forward. Afterall the memories were still there and what we have planned is so much bigger than all of our possessions-I was ready to let go.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, Warren was back in the UK (this was an almost monthly occurrence while we lived in Portugal), he purchased a caravan which he sited on a little field in St.Albans. We bought a 2001 Vauxhall Zafira with UK plates from an English couple in Midões for €800, booked our ferry crossing Santander-Plymouth, tied up affairs in Portugal, said goodbye to family and friends and before we knew it it was time to leave.
But as with most things in our life it wasn’t smooth sailing…Due to the fact that we were moving into a caravan we decided that it wouldn’t be fair to take our puppy of 3 months, Layla, along with us….I use the word puppy lightly as in 3 months she probably tripled in size and was more of a little Shetland pony than a puppy but she was used to lots of space and freedom and luckily the new tenants in our home were happy to keep her. So picture it, the Zafira is absolutely crammed, roof box is fighting hard against the straps that are its restraints…the only thing keeping the lid from bursting open and sending the last of our worldly possessions hurtling across the motorway. Engines running, we are bidding our friends Paula and Stu goodbye…last thing to do is load Stuey and Tilly (our cats), Alfie our dog and strap the 3 kids in for the 6 hour journey to Santander. But alas, Tilly the more timid of the 2 cats and the one who is never a problem to get in the car gets spooked, she manages to wriggle out of Warren’s grasp (taking a good amount of flesh with her in exchange for a short tirade of verbal abuse) and seeks refuge in a water pipe at the back of the garden. An hour and a half later at 11:30 (we planned to leave at 10)…we find ourselves handing Paula Tilly’s pet passport with the promise that she will catch her and send her back to the UK along with the 3m cubed of possessions we couldn’t sell, trying desperately to console 3 inconsolable children who have now unexpectedly had to say goodbye to not one but TWO of their beloved pets. To say it was a rough start would be an understatement of note.
Well the crying eventually died down and we were probably about 45mins into our drive when I noticed the temperature gauge on the car increasing…I kept an eye on it for about 10 mins hoping it wouldn’t increase further before mentioning it to Warren but the words had barely left my mouth when a yellow warning light appeared..REALLY?! ‘You’re having a laff’ as my English friends would say…no, this is our reality! I manage to dislodge the handbook from the tray under my seat, turn to the page describing all the warning lights and to my absolute relief it says ‘Cooling system not operating as it should, emergency cooling enabled, take to a Vauxhall dealer, not necessary to stop driving’…so for the next 5 and a half hours, unbeknownst to the kids, we drove along watching that gauge go up as we ascended mountains, with it’s full load in 32 degree heat and slowly going back down as we descended on the other side…it came close to going into ‘the red’ at times but luckily for us good ol’ Duncan got us to the ferry on time!
So right now I sit typing in a dimly lit caravan whilst the kids are soundly asleep, we dropped Warren at work almost 2 hrs ago and we are on our way to making our dream a reality. As first time caravaners there is a lot to be learnt and right now I’m off to empty the cassette loo.
Till next time….
PS. They found Tilly and she will be on her way to Blighty shortly 😸
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