This is mostly going to be dull, so I suggest you just look at the photos. I’m going to focus on money and power. But not necessarily in a macro sense.
First let’s talk budget. For those of you who have been reading this drivel for a while know that C and I work on a budget of £50 a day. That’s £10 for diesel and £40 for everything else including overnight stops. When were aboard we use the same figures but change the currency. That means, with the current exchange rate, we are saving about £15 a day before we start. Hurrah!
Whilst noting that we save elsewhere for major expenses which include: insurances (including travel, full timing insurance for Doris, and European breakdown); Doris’s tax, MoT and some money to cover other mechanical issues such as new tyres etc; my life insurance etc, we have never been over budget month-on-month.
It is true to say that, leaving aside exchange rates, we spend more money in the UK than we do aboard. That’s because when we’re on our own in Europe we knuckle down – and C doesn’t take me out for coffee. In the UK we are often with other people and, and this is not a bad thing, we end up spending more. But, still, month on month we have never overspent.
And this includes diesel – just. As at today I am on budget with diesel (which includes ferries). Okay so it’s taken me seventeen months to balance the budget, but I have finally got there. The first twelve months which included three return ferry journeys (Dover/Calais; Italy/Sicily; Italy/Greece) and driving over most of Europe hit us hard. Since August we have slowed right down. Hence less fuel.
So how much would it cost to do what we’re doing? Once you’ve brought your motorhome, you could easily get away with £20k a year – that’s everything including insurances. If you wanted to be tighter the budget could dip to £15k a year. Up to you.
Let’s move onto power. We’ve been off grid for nine days and in that time have only driven eighty miles. We have been lucky with Mrs Sun, but during the lean months our 80W solar panel probably gives us a return of 2 Amps an hour, making the total about 15 AH a day. Our battery is a Banner 105AH, the best you can buy – but even that is only £100. I reckon we use somewhere between 15 and 25 AHs a day, mostly depending how much TV we watch, which is easily the greatest drain. And whilst we have LED lights, they’re not free. Winter = dark early and so the lights go on for longer periods.
And we have to charge phones, laptops iPads etc. All of those add to the drain.
So what? Well we have a snazzy battery management system that closes everything down before the battery bottoms. With this battery, even after nine days, that hasn’t happened. But the dials show that we’re close. So, yesterday, we drove over the ‘pay for’ electricity and for €2 got an hour’s top up and water. Mrs Sun is doing her best and everything now seems much more in ‘green’. Which was critical as we needed to watch Strictly last night.
The thing is, we do like to be completely independent. And having considered all of the options, including a second battery (no room), another solar panel (no room on the roof and it only works when Mrs Sun is with us), a methanol fuel cell (great idea and the smallest solution. However price = £1600), we have plumped for a briefcase generator. You can get a decent one for £500 and, whilst you have to be careful about noise, it is a lifetime purchase and would give us a supply of 4AH whenever we needed it.
So that’s my Christmas present!
What else? We’ve run, cycled, walked and even started swim walking, where you put your wetsuit on and trudge through the water. I found it very therapeutic – you can do it with your eyes closed knowing that if you fall over the worst that can happen is you get wet.
And I’m now at 97,000 words, with the second ‘book’ written. The novel is titled ‘Fuelling the Fire’, something that C thought of. It’s in three books: Cock Up; Conspiracy; and Conflagration. I’m starting the third book, which is much shorter than the other two today. First draft should be finished by Christmas. Hurrah!
We’re heading north tomorrow. Meeting some friends in northern France at the beginning of the next week, and then over the channel. I feel some Christmas decorating coming on.
Have a great week.