“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher Hershey
Well, we arrived last Friday. The Answer: “Wednesday!”
11th November – We are camped at the beautiful Setthorns in the midst of the New Forest and have decided to go off-grid. This saves us around 50% on site fees. We have purchased a Safefill refillable gas bottle and opted for a simple life; our energy needs will be met solely by gas, a leisure battery and a solar panel.
The Question: we asked on Friday was – “We wonder how long the battery will last..!”
By Wednesday evening, the caravan was completely dead. We were crawling around in freezing temperatures, warmed only by dogs and the gas hob; illuminated by a torch! Our schoolboy error had been to leave the 24 hour thermostat active on the heating. Although the heating runs from gas, the pump, it would appear, uses rather a lot of electricity, especially in the chill hours of darkness. You know, when your solar panel can’t recharge the battery…!
Although we did save some fuel by switching off everything and going away for a night, we had unfortunately forgotten that the fridge needed gas and so, once again, me pancetta and peas had defrosted…
So we spent all the money that we had saved on electricity in the pub, which wasn’t the worst possible outcome! We treated ourselves to heat and light plus a steak and heart pudding at The Three Tuns in Bransgore, one of my favourite pubs in the world. I think we made an odd couple, sitting on the sofas, festooned with dogs, while Mark availed himself of the much-missed internet and I wrote my Christmas cards early – the aim being to inform everyone not to send us a card, since we are of no fixed abode.
Earlier today, I had tried on a T Shirt in a shop and noticed in the mirror that my trousers had mud spattered up the back and were covered in muddy paw prints. I apologised to the assistant; “It looks like a designer pattern!” she quipped generously…
Nevertheless, I am beginning to feel that I am no longer fit to be unleashed on polite society!
Like Mary Ann Radmacher Hershey “I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” I know it was just France this time, but I used to feel similarly out of place when I returned from life-changing experiences in wonderful, exotic places like Nepal, South America and Africa – and then had to slot straight back into the humdrum life of work : eat : sleep : repeat.
Thursday – We went to get the van MOT and replace her shocks. It was delightful to be caught out by a really heavy shower as we walked the dogs back from the beach to the garage. My trousers were so wet that I had waterfalls cascading into my boots! Thankfully, Big Blue was ready sooner than we thought, which gave us the chance to move the caravan to an electric pitch. It was such a pleasant experience, relocating the caravan in cold, wet trousers. At least we haven’t been subjected to the tornadoes experienced today in the Midlands and Wales!
It was wonderful to have heat and light restored. I would like to proffer a suggestion that in hindsight, it was rather ill-advised to attempt to go off-grid in a dim forest during the short days of a UK November. (Like a 3* kayak course that we booked in Wales one February, what POSSESSED US?!) Off-grid is something that we might try again next year, perhaps in the long, balmy days and searing sun of a hot, European summer!
My other Top Tip of the Day is that silica gel kitty litter in a pop sock stuffed into your soaking wet boots dries them out a treat overnight!
Leicestershire; Lincolnshire; Lancashire
Our progression continued North up to Leicestershire. It was FREEZING and went dark a lot earlier than in the South. Mark got everything set up really quickly – then found that he hadn’t fitted the Alko wheel lock. While he sorted it out, I walked the dogs in my woolly hat and buff against the searingly cold wind. When I came back, the farmer was wandering around in a T Shirt. They breed ’em tough ‘Up North’. I have become soft. Clearly, I have been in the South too long!
Saturday – There was frost on the ground when Mark walked the dogs – in his shorts. It is a momentous day. Our Endless Summer is officially over. Mark has finally conceded to make the move into long trousers.
The purpose of our visit to Leicestershire was to visit a top, doggy sports shop called Inner Wolf. We wanted to try on snow coats for the dogs in preparation for our ski trip in January. There were no padded jackets, but we plumped for slush suits, which seem to do the trick. They certainly came in very useful when walking the dogs in the soggy fields around Wistow church. Unfortunately, Lani’s slush suit is on back order, so she was not wearing any protection when she decided to roll in a dead rat.
We decided that boots were expensive and probably unnecessary, but I really wish that I had taken a video of Lani trying out boots – she was high-stepping like a dressage horse!
Join us next time to find out why our shopping trip around Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Lancashire turned into what shall be known henceforth as Black Monday!
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