1 Week To Go!

Are we excited? Actually, we’re too busy to be excited. And, to be honest, a bit stressed. 8 months in a motorhome, it’s going to be great fun, but the amount of preparation, organisation and odd spanners in the works is certainly being felt by both of us.

I’ve still got the solar panel to fit. It shouldn’t be too hard, but it’s a bit scary drilling a hole through something you’ve just spent thousands of pounds on.

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No More Baths :-(

Being away from home and living in a small space there’s bound to be some sacrifices to be made. So what will I miss the most?

My laptop and limitless internet. I must confess that I spend a lot of time on the internet. I love it, it’s a giant library with endless resources. Don’t for a minute think that I’ll be going cold turkey, no way, I’ll be taking a tablet and a mi-fi device. But the tablet is not quite as convenient, especially for typing, and when you have to pay for the data used then you really start to think about cutting down on internet usage.

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Losing Weight

If you’re thinking of going off in a motorhome it’s worth considering the weight of stuff (the payload) you can carry. I knew this was important but I’d only really thought about how much cheese and wine we could bring back with us!
Being sensible, well mostly, we decided it was a good idea to get the motorhome weighed before we go. Hence the pile of jars, we’ll save a good few kilos by bagging up our spices. Yes we really are taking that many, and a few more, actually!

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Do we really need to take these?

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The list is getting smaller.

Typing this on a wet and windy morning, with an early start for work, I’m quite glad it’s less than three weeks until we go.

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Yesterday was the first day where we both felt we we’re getting towards completing the list of things to do. Making it smaller rather than bigger! It’s surprising the amount of organisation that’s needed to go away for a few (okay, 8) months, especially considering we didn’t even decide to go until last month.
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Bog Standard

You arrive at a good looking site, pay your money, find a nice pitch – great. Then you go and check out the facilities only to find the toilets leave a lot to be desired. It’s not very pleasant and would certainly make me want to move to another site.

This is how every toilet should be. This is at the Golden Grove in Essex. It’s clean, has a heater, hot running water, cartoons on the wall and a selection of magazines to read. What more could you ask for?

Back to Essex

Back to Essex…again. Trying to get the issues with the motorhome sorted. It’s on going, but that’s another story. We’ve now spent 4 days here in the last week, more than I’ve spent here in my whole life. Growing up in 80’s the image I always had of Essex was lads with their pimped up cars along with their girlfriends in white stilettos, hardly a pretty image.

But actually Essex is quite a beautiful county with many pretty towns and villages. Last week we found Coggeshall and Dedham, and yesterday we visited Saffron Walden and Thaxted.

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The Old Sun Inn – Saffron Walden

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More spending…

With just over 3 weeks to go the pace of preperation is picking up! Yesterday we had the Fiamma bike rack and Gaslow fitted.

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There’s mi-fi and a solar panel now waiting to be put in place. Also some bits for the bikes, storage boxes, a mini hoover and, er… a sew machine!? Yes, that’s really coming with us. Bought specially in fact. Lisa is looking forward to setting it up under a shady tree in some warm part of Spain. I can almost hear the leaves rustling. And the cursing as the fabric blows away in the wind. Maybe she should make a kite?

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Laab – Spicy meat salad

Many years ago I was ordering a Thai takeaway, one of the items (number 22, maybe), was called Laab. I had no idea what it was, but that was why I ordered it. A random selection.

It was amazing, like nothing I’d eaten before. But blimey, did it blow my head off!!! I’m someone that sweats at the thought of a chilli, let alone eating one. Just picture my face when I once ate a curry full of green beans… they weren’t green beans! Anyway, despite every mouthful of the laab blowing my head off I ate the lot. However, it was so hot I had to eat it slowly over the course of an evening. The flavours were amazing! So now I’ll share this recipe. Please try it. Adjust it to your taste. Every time I make it it’s different. Often because I’m sure I remember the recipe but still forget some of ingredients when shopping… Doh! Traditionally it’s served with raw pork or beef mince, but please don’t do this unless you want to get ill! 

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Ingredients for Laab

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Braintree, Coggeshall & Dedham

Yesterday was another sunny day and temperatures almost hit double figures so it was perfect for a little tour around the corner of Essex we were in.

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Sunrise at Great Saling

First on the agenda was a visit to Braintree, for the shops that is. We love to browse the charity shops looking for a bargain, and who doesn’t? At the moment we’re stocking up on books to take away, we both prefer proper paper books to reading on a Kindle and came away with a bag full. Then we thought we’d check out the Freeport Designer Outlet Shops to see if there were any bargains to be had. The Bose shop was tempting but Hi-Fi is not what we need, and we decided that we also didn’t need to spend £150 on a Le Creuset pot for cooking on a fire. We did buy a couple of bargain non-stick pans for the motorhome. Our old camping pans have deteriorated badly, and apparently Teflon isn’t very good for you…

With our shopping needs fulfilled we headed east to Coggeshall, a pretty little village that’s worth a stop if you’re passing.

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Paycocke’s House, Coggeshall

We then headed further east to Dedham, although half way there Lisa got distracted by a large sign for a camping and caravanning shop. We drove past but missed our next turning so as we had to turn around we decided to stop and have a look. We were glad we did. The shop was Camperite Leisure. You’ll find it just off the A12, a few miles west of Colchester. We spent a happy hour browsing various goodies, like kids in a sweet shop. So many new things we could buy, some we needed, some we didn’t. We did come away with a brush to clean the motorhome, the cleaning fluid, some LED bulbs and a warning board to go on the bike rack. All were good value, and if it wasn’t for the friendly and helpful owner we may well have ended up with the wrong warning board for Spain. We were advised that in Spain the boards must be reflective and made from metal. The advice we were given was appreciated. A great shop. Definitely worth a visit.

We arrived at Dedham and found the car park that was just outside the town, and it was free for 1 hour, bonus! We found a great butcher there and bought a few goodies. There’s also an Arts and Craft Centre that’s worth going to. Housed in a converted church it’s home to many independent shops and stalls. I spotted a nice antique set of scales I liked, but they really weren’t going to be practical for the trip away!

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Do I really need these?

There was one building in particular that I noticed and had to research. It was not only a fine building, but curiously it had many names scratched into the brickwork. Hundreds, some with dates from the 1700’s. It transpires it was once a school and it is presumed, although not confirmed, that these names were all previous pupils. I wonder how many people have walked past this building and never noticed.

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Sherman’s Hall

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Graffiti on Sherman’s Hall

After Dedham it was back to Great Saling for the evening, and as it was Valentine’s Day we treated ourselves to a couple of nice bottles of wine.

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Golden Grove Caravan Park

The sun is shining and it feels just a little warmer than it has done recently, only just a little bit though! And we’ve found a great place for our second trip in the motorhome. We’re at Golden Grove Caravan Park, just west of Braintree in Essex.

We were planning to go to Dorset for a few days, but as we have various issues with the motorhome that need sorting we’re staying near the dealer we bought it from.

Lisa found Golden Grove on the ukcampsite website. There are just 9 pitches in 6 acres with hook-up and water for £15 per night, it sounded great. When it came to paying on the first evening we were made to feel very welcome.

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