Friday, 8 September 2017

It's only taken 21 years

Remember I said that making BIG decisions is something which Management and I tend to sail through (deciding within a week to retire a year earlier than originally planned being a case in point!)  Smaller decisions like painting the bathroom a new colour can fester for YEARS before we actually go and buy a can of Dulux ...


But there is one big decision which has taken us over two decades to get to the end of, and that is the purchase of a 'proper' motorhome-like campervan.  When Ollie came to live with us in January 2005 we still owned our little canal boat but we had already worked out that we were not using it as much as we felt we should in order to justify the not insignificant costs of ownership, and bringing into our family a canine who thought he was part-otter sealed the deal.   Getting Ollie on the boat was EASY.  Keeping him on it - not so much.  Our darling boy would happily spend all day in the water if he possibly could, which is fine if you're at a nearby lake:



but not so fine if you are trying to make progress up the Kennet and Avon Canal.



After our little boat went to a new home we then spent months visiting every motorhome dealer in the south of England but we never found a vehicle which seemed to have the right configuration for us.  So life moved on, and a Hampshire sized mortgage meant there wasn't any spare cash for such frivolity anyway.

Fast forward to September 2014 and we clearly still had the 'itch', just hadn't found the right twig to scratch it with.



Now both retired we are absolutely determined to enjoy the next few years before physical or mental infirmity gets in the way of doing what we want.  A couple of Management's relatives have medical conditions which severely limit their quality of life, and in my own case we have seen how much impact a "little thing" like a damaged shoulder can have.  Whilst it is possible that both of us will stride into our 90's in the way that our dear friend Danny did (and wouldn't that just be a gift?) it is sadly just as possible that we might not.



So after MUCH debating, spreadsheet fettling, "should we" conversations, "can we" discussions and endless "ought we" moments, we got to the "shrug shoulders and oh hell, let's just do it" of committing to another "RV" as my American friend calls them!

Hours and hours of online research and a few long days out visiting motorhome dealers left us not able to afford what we knew we really wanted, and not particularly enamoured with what we could get within our budget.  And then by chance I stumbled across a small manufacturer who are only two hours from us (which is fairly local when you live in West Cumbria!)   Quoting from their website, we found the perfect combination of quality and affordability:

Many people like to achieve the impossible - and having a new motorhome for the price of a used one is a familiar aspiration when we speak to buyers.

Devon Conversions has the solution carefully selecting used vans on which to install brand new conversions. These vehicles come with our own warranty and you can be sure construction is to the same high standards as new vehicles. The only place we lower our sights is on the price we have to charge buyers - the new conversion / used van combination offers significant savings on list prices.

And so it was that after numerous trips to various dealers and clambering in and out of secondhand campervans, earlier this week we found a new/second hand combination that looks like it ticks all the boxes.

A second visit today gave us the fabulous opportunity to see an unconverted/empty shell of a van, and also a part-finished one; having previously toured a caravan factory I was delighted to have the chance to look around here๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š



Together with a couple of already completed vehicles,  Management was able to go round all of them in great detail.  We made a decision on which we felt was in the best condition (bodywork wise) and it happened to be the vehicle with the lowest mileage as well; only half converted it could also be fitted with the underslung LPG tank we wanted.   Management went off for a test drive in a very similar van whilst Daisy and I sat in the car and I decided I really did not need a test drive in a built up area I wasn't familiar with.  If anything went wrong it would have put me off before we even take delivery of ("insert name to be decided here"!)  Seeing as I went off a couple of years back, collected a caravan single-handed and brought it home safely up the M6 I suspect I will be quite capable of driving a white panel van when the time comes!  I did have a go at reversing it around the factory carpark - easy peasy compared to reversing a 7 metre long caravan๐Ÿ˜Š














We've decided to have the factory fit a solar panel and reversing camera whilst the build is underway and fingers crossed we will have a new addition to the Bag End fleet in a couple of weeks!

All companies in this industry are working flat out to get ready for the huge caravan & motorhome show at the NEC in October. It is possible that preparations for the NEC might delay the build of our vehicle, but we're aware of that possibility - having waited 21 years another couple of weeks is neither here nor there.


Oh, and on the way home we found the most stunning wildflower meadow I think I have ever seen - in the middle of a roundabout on the A688, dear Management drove around it twice so I could have a good look!  





Tired from a long day
Excited
Terrified
Slightly in shock that we've actually made a commitment and put down a deposit .....




17 comments:

  1. No regrets, dear girl. You and Mgmt will love it. The entire European continent will be your backyard now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sue, although we have a lot of the UK to tour before we think about heading overseas!

      More seriously, I remember you moved a couple of years ago - are you and your family safe from whatever Hurricane Irma brings in the next few hours?

      Delete
    2. Jayne, we'll likely get some wind and rain but hopefully nothing over 30 mph or so here in north Georgia. We keep a close eye on the forecasts. I do have family still down in Florida but unless the path changes a lot, they should get no more than perhaps some wind and rain too. You never take these things for granted, though. Thanks for thinking of us.

      Delete
    3. I've been watching CNN on and off today and things are not looking good for anywhere in the area. I will check in with your blog over the coming days and hope you can post the odd update to let us know how things are.

      Delete
  2. Ooh, another big change. Do hope all goes to plan & you enjoy travelling the length & breadth of Britain. Maybe you'll get to some of the places we've seen & you say you've not. Lots of photos with your photography skills could end up on the "photo hunts"? That roundabout is stunning & I'll admit to envying English wildflower meadows. I'd love to show you Oz one day, but know that overseas is off your radar & if it is a long time before thinking of Europe is an answer, then not 'on you nellie' is more likely to here. Hope Sue above is OK with all that horrendous weather. Have a good weekend & take care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Susan :-). I would love to take you up on your invitation and tour Australia with you but until such time as I have the the time, money and technology to travel by Star Trek teleport it is not going to happen. You know how much I hate flying, and I'm not much of a fan of boats either ..... makes getting around the planet a bit tricky!

      Delete
  3. Hope that you enjoy it. Our cars have reversing cameras and they are great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sue, yes, reversing cameras are a super invention but I still use mirrors as well :)

      Delete
  4. Wow! Sounds like you're about to start a new and exciting chapter in the Bag End book of life :) I love the idea of the used van/new conversion combination, it certainly sounds like an affordable option when completely new is out of reach - I look forward to having a grand tour in photos when you finally get it :)

    The wildflower meadow on the roundabout is stunning, and what a brilliant idea :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers Eunice, I knew you would understand! Don't want to jinx ourselves by posting lots of photos until we actually have the keys and the V5 :)

      Delete
  5. How exciting. So many more adventures ahead for you. We are hoping to get something similar sometime in the future. X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you get something sooner rather than later, what fun for Lily!

      Delete
  6. Green with envy here :) Having looked at smaller sized new motorhomes recently we know they are unaffordable for us too. What you have found sounds ideal, the used van with a new conversion so you get exactly what suits you. We have the same reasoning that we want to enjoy the next few years although we are already restricted somewhat with husband's medical and physical problems. I also had a frozen shoulder following a fall not long after purchasing a bike post retirement, which is how things seem to go for me, so I understand how ailments restrict activities. Life's short so well done you for taking the plunge and I hope you have many years of enjoyment travelling in your new van. I look forward to seeing your completed van and following your adventures on your blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Eileen, I am sorry to affect your colouring :-(. Managment did ask if I would start a new blog for the 'recreational vehicles' but honestly, I have enough trouble keeping one blog straight, any more would be a disaster. You never know, we might even get to your part of the world one day, I am sure Annie and Daisy would get on fine!

      Delete
  7. That has been my dream for more years than I can remember, but I think I'm running out of time now; it can only happen with a big Lottery win very soon. I'm not getting any younger.
    So in a day or two, I shall be heading to the north coast of Cornwall with my tent - and Benji dog. Of course, the weather forecast is dire - wind and rain for the whole week, so Benji with his aversion to getting wet will not be a happy dog. Oh well!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder what Benji would make of a little mobile home on wheels? Has he been away in the tent with you yet - fingers crossed for some better weather, I have been wondering what will arrive on our shores when Hurricane Irma has done its worst over Florida and heads out across the Atlantic?

      Delete
    2. I'm sure he would LOVE a mobile home, same as me, because it would be dry and warm. He has never been away in the tent, so I hope he behaves; don't want a yappy dog especially at night or we'll get chucked off the site. :( He isn't normally a yappy dog, but strange noises in the night might set him off. He does object to being left alone, so going to the loo and washroom might be 'interesting'.

      Delete

So there I am, chuntering on to myself, but it would be lovely to hear from you.

Thanks to all who take the time to comment - it makes my day ๐Ÿ˜Š

and I always delete spam - my blog, my rules :-}