Dawn is just breaking as I write this (I don’t sleep well) and it’s thick fog outside. That means only one thing – Autumn is coming and it’s time to get away to sunnier climes.
So what have we been doing with ourselves over the summer?
A lot has been done to the house. At least coming back to live in the house we have had the opportunity to get it up to scratch again for letting, but things were slow. We got back into the house on about 21st May and had no viewings. May had gone by, June had gone by – and of course we’ve got to find the mortgage and the council tax and bills from our savings. Plus we had to spend quite a bit on decorating, preparing etc. The biggest job was to have the parking area repaired and new tarmac put down. So to save some pennies we didn’t go out very often, nor did we go away in the van very often.
Of course the obligatory MOT was due and we organised this for mid June. So a couple of nights stay at our favourite campsite in Cheltenham (Briarfields) and as we had use of our/my brother’s car it meant that we could put in a visit to Iain’s son near Cheddar whom we hadn’t seen since early last August. For those of you who don’t know, Connor is severely disabled and the visit is really just to check that he is ok and being looked after well, which we have to report a positive on both counts . Connor doesn’t really know that we haven’t been for nearly a year. We used to visit every 4 to 6 weeks when we were in the UK and now we are his only visitors as his mum and sister have both passed away in the last three years so we do like to visit whenever we can. Connor goes to the Atmospherics Trust http://www.atmosphericstrust.co.uk/ in Wells every week for a therapy session and as we pay for this, Iain asked if we could go along to a session to see what it was all about. Well it was a bit holistic for Iain. We met with the group in Wells and Iain went into the session while I took the dog for a walk. There’s a fantastic reclamation yard next to the place and I had a wander around there. If you are ever in Wells then it’s “Wells worth the visit!!!” Sorry for the pun. Massive “The Thinker” statues; an old Russian tank (not for sale); life-size deer, bears, dogs; a life-sized horse made from saws and other tools and loads of other stuff. Then I went back to Atmospherics and joined in the second half of the session.
I was escorted onto a blow up bed on the floor in a darkened room of about 20 beds, while relaxing music was played. I then (under instruction) covered my face with a coloured silk voile and waited. From the ceiling there were silk voiles hanging in rows and two women walked up and down the room wafting the hanging voiles around to emulate waves that would gently lap onto your face – got the picture? There were overhead projectors around the room and these showed lovely relaxing patterns which projected onto the hanging voiles. It was actually very relaxing, however I couldn’t resist thinking how I would do it differently – I’d have stitched those voiles together, I’d have this running off a computer so that the patterns could be easily changed. So I didn’t really feel the full benefit (if indeed there was one). Anyway, Iain wasn’t having any of this and sat in a chair during the whole process. However I did hear some “yabby yabby yabby” coming from Connor, so I knew that Dad would be sold on the idea. Actually the people running it couldn’t have made us more welcome. We were treated like royalty. I know some of the Clients (that’s what they are called) at the home Connor lives in don’t have many visitors, so I don’t suppose Atmospherics have many parents come to see what it’s all about. Whatever we thought it was clear that the group got quite a lot out of it and it is something for them to do each week. After the session we met Iain’s dad for lunch in a pub in Wells, he had driven up from Devon to see us. Back to Cheltenham and Motorhome Maniacs (aka Motorhome Medics), some banter from the guys there, MOT and service all sorted, another night in Cheltenham and we headed back to Fillongley.
In early July, we had a few viewings, one being the new Coventry City Football manager, Tony Mowbray. We didn’t really think it would be a good house for him, being in the middle of a village with a social club next door that has a football team. However at least the natives would be friendly – that is of course as long as Coventry City did well, if not it could be eggs on the windows. We also thought that as The Sky Blues had had 13 managers in 12 seasons that this might not be a long-term let so not a good tenant for us.
At last a couple came to view the house with two small children and then came back for a second viewing. Great – we’d got a tenant – I was getting excited - a bit under the asking price but hey, that’s ok, however they didn’t want the house until the middle of August as they were going on holiday. Everything was going swimmingly and they were going to come around on the Saturday before their holiday and we could discuss what furniture they wanted us to remove. I asked the agent for their names and expecting only their first names they gave us surnames as well. So me, being me, got onto Google. I found out a bit on her from facebook pictures etc and nothing on him. So I googled them both together and WOW!!! Things were not looking good. I won’t go into detail, but Iain called them “Snake oil Salesmen”. Of course, me liking to speculate and Iain refusing to do any such thing (as he always deals with something when it happens and absolutely refuses to concern himself with a plan B until plan A actually fails) I really was wondering if these people were the sort we would like to rent our house to. If they were prepared to shaft their customers and staff in the way I had been reading on the internet then they might also shaft us.
Finally the agents came back with the referencing checks and they were very sorry but they could not recommend them as suitable tenants. I think the agent was quite shocked when I said I wasn’t surprised.
So it was now the end of July and back to square one and me getting fed up because without a tenant I couldn’t make a plan.
We just had to get away in the van.
1st August was Joy’s birthday and we had all agreed in Spain that as Joy was the only one of the six of us who had a birthday in the summer that we would use it as an excuse and meet up somewhere. We were keen to entertain our friends at the house (just because we could) so we wanted it to be close to us. Not knowing if we would still be in the house for 1st August it was difficult to arrange something until quite close to the date, so by the time we could do so, The Village Hall was booked, Corley Village Hall had a function on, so there I was putting out an SOS on Facebook for a bit of land for us to use. We had also asked as a surprise for Joy, Mick and Shirley from Alnwick and Paul and Ruth from Swindon. These were also people that we had met in Albir. I managed to find a field, which just happened to be next to the pub where we stay in our van so it was quite handy for us.
Waiting for Joy, Nick and Matthew to arrive
Friday all arrived – much to Joy’s surprise and delight to see 8 people waiting for them, not just the 4 she expected and we had a quick tea at camp. The weather was very kind to us and we were able to stay out in the evening (blankets required) and somehow the whole thing just degenerated into some silly game which somehow involved wearing Nick’s hat wrapped with a string of fairy lights. Bizarre………….
On the Saturday morning, we had a very unfortunate incident with the two male dogs which required a visit to the vet, so it was a good job that we had a car available, no lasting harm done though which was a relief.
In the early afternoon we all trundled off to our house where some went for a walk, some to the pub and some of us prepared and cooked dinner. It gave us a nice chance to have a chat around the kitchen table. Thank you so much to Ruth, Jo and Shirley for all their help in preparing all those veggies.
Joy, The Birthday Girl Waiting for dinner (we sold our patio furniture some years ago) Feeding time at the zoo for 11 – beats squashing into one awning.
After dinner, those that could, walked the mile or so uphill, back to camp with the dogs and those that couldn’t got a taxi, including Paddy who was a bit dopey from the drugs after the earlier incident.
The following morning, the boys went off to Jacksons of Arley, the big camping shop at Arley which seems to be the camping capital of the Midlands and just happens to be our neighbouring village, while the girls (and Matt, Joy’s son) relaxed.
Just had to include these pictures of Bree, Joy and Nick’s new dog relaxing in the sunshine. It was a bit warm for the other dogs, but Bree lapped up the sunshine and didn’t feel the heat as she was born in Australia. I don’t know why she likes to relax with her foot in her mouth but apparently that’s “just what she does”.
We said goodbye to Ruth and Paul who were returning home but couldn’t resist a photo before they left.
Until we all meet again – hopefully in Albir.
Sunday we took advantage of the hospitality at the local hostelry with lunch and then all chilled out for the remainder of the afternoon and evening, I think a little jaded from the night before. Monday morning we all went our respective ways. A fantastic weekend was had by all and we’re already planning to repeat it next year.