Pecuniary Pandemonium; the Subconscious Rejection of a Conventional Lifestyle & STOPtober…
We arrived home to a harsh dose of reality. Having no income, we do our best to save the odd Euro here and there, but we came home to a Holy Trinity of pecuniary pandemonium;
- A speeding fine from just before we left, 3 months ago; now transmuted into a Court Summons because, being abroad, we had neither received nor responded to it;
- A fine for deducting our tax allowance from our tax return, when we should have left THAT to HMRC and;
- A fine for our vehicle tax running out. To be truthful, we had been naïve enough to think that we didn’t need to renew our UK tax while the van was out of the country…
We felt like Bonnie and Clyde – mindful that notorious criminal Al Capone was ultimately brought to justice on a charge of tax evasion.
Still, Mark cut his own hair with the dog scissors. That’s £15 saved!
4th October – If we had anything controversial to do, today was the day to do it. It seems that all our luck had been thrown into a basket; all the bad luck came out over the last couple of weeks and all the good luck had come out this morning…
We stepped out of the caravan to find that the hole for the Alko wheel lock had come to rest lined up perfectly! Then Mark took Big Blue to the van doctor; the diagnosis – she is WELL! Her clutch is worn, but doesn’t need replacing. She had just been working very hard. We were told “The clutch should last 100,000 miles but might have a slightly shortened life because of towing and carrying weight.” I was delighted! Particularly after all the fines, I wasn’t looking forward to the number of noughts we might find on the end of that bill!
I went shopping and attracted more than a few funny looks. Not least because it was a cool autumn day – I had seen my own breath this morning – yet I was dressed in shorts and flip flops. Having been in 35C heat until recently, I had not yet found my cool weather gear! The looks may also have been something to do with the cream colour of my outfit, which sported quite a number of black paw prints from darling little Lani, who had seen fit to trample all over me in the van.
The cost of produce in France was exorbitant. Even in areas where they are grown locally, a melon cost double the price in the UK and unlike in the UK, we found the French markets to be more expensive than supermarkets. I actually enjoyed doing a shop in Sainsbury’s and getting a basket full of lovely, fresh fruit that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Plus Dorset Cereal (which isn’t insanely sweet muesli full of choc chips) and Melton Mowbray pies!
I don’t really like Melton Mowbray pies but experienced a sudden, inexplicable craving for them when we were in the Drôme! Luckily we discovered Pâté en Croute, which was similar enough to sate the craving. However there is nothing like the real thing. I also bought a whole chicken for WAY less than €17 and two fine pieces of Sirloin. Hurrah!!! Meat, meat, meat, meat. At French prices, our budget has afforded us only a few lardons and occasional charcuterie. At last. MEAT!
I also got some Tetley Tea, which was going to prove very costly. Mark asked me “What did you get that for?!” I replied that I had managed to procure some in France when we ran out of tea and we had been quite enjoying it. He ridiculed me and said that we haven’t had Tetley Tea at any time that he could remember. I bet him £1m that it was Tetley’s and told him that I had a photo of it as proof. Unfortunately, my gambling debts regarding the lead actor in The Silence of the Lambs, the wager about the height of Munroes in Unlucky Allevard and some other absolute certainty of mine that I can’t remember now amount to £4m.
I rang my Dad and he asked me if I had remembered to say ‘rabbit’ on the first of the month. I said that I had forgotten. Maybe this is the reason for our recent run of bad luck and my massive gambling debt!
We had two weeks of hectic socialising, appointments and trips around the country catching up with friends and family. We had to get up before 8am for several days on the trot. It was exhausting!
We visited the Motorhome and Caravan Show at the NEC and, even after living with Kismet full-time for five months, agreed that she would still be our caravan of choice.
Then, it was time to move Back in the Brick to add a little class to our abode and make it ready for the next tenant.
It is always stressful moving house, but this time the stress was of our own making.
Is it eccentric to sit in your caravan on your own drive drinking cups of tea because the Estate Agent has forgotten to tell you that the tenant checkout was completed yesterday, so you are actually free to enter your own home?
Then, we had been back ‘In the Brick’ for less than an hour and I had locked us out and the dogs in. And I have always claimed that it is Mark who is irresponsible with keys.
Really, I think it reflects a subconscious rejection of conventional lifestyle…
There are not many things in life that I regret, but when dear friends have driven for 90 minutes to come and welcome you home, then not only can you not invite them in for a coffee (because you have locked yourself out) but you can’t spend time with them before they leave as you have to shoot off immediately to get a spare set of keys from the Estate Agent to free your incarcerated puppies…
One thing I that am going to do now that we’re ‘Back in the Brick’. I am going to partake of the only thing that I have missed while living full-time in a caravan… I’m going to have a bath EVERY SINGLE DAY!
17th October – We made it 17 days into Stoptober (plus a couple of days extra in Stoptember) until Rosie led us astray.
With what was about to come our way, it was probably for the best…
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