Mrs Sun, welcome back

Well, how about that then? Mrs Sun has decided to pay us all a visit at the same time that we are not working. Blow me down. Whatever next? I don’t want to count my poultry, but I understand this may be the way it is for a couple of days.

And we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the upturn in weather with some good friends. First, on Friday night Kenn and Mikki popped over for supper. They were the first of our friends who have crossed the threshold of our very small bolthole and we think she handled it rather well. On the menu, other than something C knocked up, was discussion concerning a trip in 2021 along the Silk Road. Kenn and Mikki are all for it, and so are we. We all agreed that there were a number of obstacles – such as family commitments etc, but you only get one go at this, and C and I are certainly not getting any younger.

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IN terms of a vehicle, whilst I was thinking along the lines of a 15 year old Toyota Landcruiser, which is the aid agencies’ vehicle of choice. Kenn was thinking smaller. Like a Suzuki Jimny, or a Toyota Rav 4. Whatever, we’d look to put a tent on the roof and beef up bits and pieces. It all sounds like a great deal of fun, and, if you’re happy to find £6k or so, we reckon we could give it a real go over about 4 months. We’ll see.

Then, yesterday, we popped southwest to see James and Sheron. They live in deepest, darkest Devon – but it’s well worth the effort. They have an old, traditional thatched Devon long house with a couple of paddocks. James (inspiringly to me) has built a barn, a shed-cum-bar and a enclosed and windowed wooden gazeebo. The weather forced us to eat outside and we had a fab time talking about the same old stuff we always talk about when we meet up with old pals (James and I have known each other since we were 16). This morning we walked with the dogs, popped to the pub for a drink and then grabbed a wrap that Sheron had knocked up before heading northeast…

…where we picked up Doris from the doctors. The awning looks well and truly sorted (fingers crossed), but, and I could have guessed this, the company had not put any diesel in her – even though the MD had agreed to do so (I’m not sure that I should be paying for the privilege of taking her to south Somerset and back). The guy who handed over the keys told me that the bowser was empty, so having handed her over with 2/3rds of a tank, I picked her up with just a 1/4 of tank of fuel left. Now I know it’s not a great deal of money, but you know what? I think they should try a bit harder. I really do.

Back home we stripped her down inside completely as the next job is to give her a thorough Spring clean. I’m going to remove all of the internal panels and look for any leaks or issues whilst C gets her rubber gloves on. She’ll be just like new when we finish.

However, first I’m keen to get started on knocking down a 4-brick high wall in the garden and refashion it so we can have a decked area at the back of our huge garden (sarcasm doesn’t travel well on a blog, does it?). I need to knock some of it down to understand the size of the problem. That’ll be fun – and that’ll be tomorrow’s job. Hurrah!

Trike!

So, it’s D+2. And, I hear you ask, how’s the trike? Well – I’ve only put her down twice. Which is quite something considering she’s got 3 wheels. In my defence she does weigh 230 kg and with me and C on it she’s quite top heavy. Both of them, I hasten to add, were static drops. One, however, was when C was on the back. What we must have looked like, goodness only knows. But no damage apart from a dent in our pride.

The madness is she has a spoke locking device where the front spokes lock so you can actually sit on the bike without putting your feet down. For me it’s one too many operations for my ageing brain to manage. Having ridden a moped for three years, day-in, day-out, it was always a simple ‘foot-down’. But with all of us on it, that’s not quite enough – sometimes. Anyhow, I’m learning. I’ve been out on her every evening and on Monday we did manage to cycle all the way to Jen’s and back (a round trip of 70 miles). It was cold but workable. It will be (will be) fabulous once we’re abroad.

Which raises the next question. How are we going to carry her? She’s too heavy for the garage (max of 150 kg), so we’ll have to tow her. Then there’s the choice of a standard motorcycle trailer (which is long – on an already long vehicle). Or we could go for a side-entry trailer – which is shorter, but still a naff to reverse with. Finally there’s a trailer called an ‘easy lift’. This secures ‘fixed’ to the tow bar (we haven’t got one of those yet), and mechanically drops to the floor. You push the bike on and then pump it up, sticking on a pair of castor wheels to take the weight. This then becomes a rigid box on the back with twisty wheels. It’s v short and the twisty wheels means that, to all intents and purposes, all you’ve done is extend the length of the van – there is no danger of jack-knifing. In terms of cost all options (new) come in just over a grand (deep breath). We are, as they say, considering all options.

I would hope we could have something sorted before we go to Spain in October. We’ll see. As you can see from the photos, she looks fab. And that is the case…

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this was taken when we were upright…

Work continues. I’m managing. And we’re all learning something in my classes, even if I am frazzled at the end of the day. Ten weeks to go. Part of me wants, at that point, to pack up Doris, rent out the house and go back to being a nomad. Proper work does that to me – you know? I think it’s about being in an institution all my life. Bounded by rules and expectations. Our 3.5 years in Doris’s 1 and 2 (3.5 years – that’s a long time!) was hugely liberating. I miss them. But, I’m pretty confident that we’ll keep the middle ground – bolt-hole and a van. Oh, and a trike. Mmmmm – could be fun.

We have a busy couple of days coming up. Pals of ours Kenn and Mikki are coming for supper on Friday. He’s my Army pal who just took a bike from London to Freetown (I bet he didn’t put it down…and his has only got two wheels).  We’re going to discuss driving the Silk Road (Venice to Mongolia) in two 4x4s, possibly in 2020. Now, that’s something to look forward to!

And then on Saturday we’re off to Devon to see James and Sheron (more Army friends). Back via the motorhome people to pick up Doris – they tell me they’ve fixed the awning. I hope so…

That’s all from me. I hope you make it to the end of the week intact.