One more week to go of work -well, the charade that currently goes under the name of ‘work’.
I’ve now got a train ticket for next Saturday, Welwyn Garden City to Oban (changing at Stevenage, Edinburgh and Glasgow) for £52 (including card fee and insurance!). My bike has got tickets too – at least for Stevenage to Edinburgh and Glasgow to Oban: for the two shorter legs there’s no reservations you just have to take pot luck! I shall stay overnight at the Oban Backpacker’s hostel, then on the afternoon ferry to Barra and South Uist. I’m really so excited about it, it’s hard to believe that I’m simply going home. It really does feel like an adventure – setting out into a new life. Which I suppose I am, because I – Denise and I – will no longer be dependent on civil engineering for our living.
During the week, Denise posted some poultry feed bags to me. I’ve now packed up four feedbags of all sorts – clothes, toiletries, kitchenware, books, food, bedding -varying between 10kg and 16kg and costing a total of £53. There’s probably two or maybe three more to send yet during the week. In the opposite direction I’ve got to send to Donna and Paul the bed cushions for the luton: that’s going to cost almost £100 because of the length.
Beautiful day today – very sunny but also very cold. I had intended to make a second trip to St Alban’s, but as you can see I’m doing this instead, and to be honest I really don’t want to risk it being a disappointment compared to that lovely day I spent there back in September.
I just now need to fix up my campsite for the last few days here, as it’s half term and they were fully booked: I’m hoping for a cancellation, most likely if the weather is bad. So I’m hoping most for bad weather!
Today I sold our motorhome. A few weeks ago, as I was walking up to the van, someone stopped me to ask if I was thinking of selling it, as he’d noticed it a few times and thought it would suit him and his family. At the time I was so surprised all I could say was that as I would no longer really need it from end of October, I’d let him know, and took his contact details. Back at home a fortnight ago Denise and I talked it over and agreed we would not really have a need for the van; it would just sit outside rusting away and we needed the cash more. So a few days ago I got in touch with Paul and his wife Donna, and yes they were still interested, and this morning I gave it the most thorough clean it’s had for at least a year. This afternoon they came round to look and a test drive. And yes they loved it and we agreed a price, and a hand-over on Saturday morning 30th October – less than a fortnight away. I’ve now got to fix up my journey home, and in particular the problem of getting all my goods and chattels over to Uist!
A few days ago I checked out prices for other Autosleeper Clubmans – £12k-£14k. That’s from a dealer, in average condition and mileage for age, and our van has done 85000 miles not 55000, and has quite a lot of rust spots on the cab and other blemishes, and a few defects – none too serious or too expensive to put right – inside. So the price agreed was, shalll we say, very substantially less than that average! But considering that for the past couple couple of years Denise and I have reconciled ourselves to the likelihood that we’d end up having to scrap the van, and possibly even having to pay for it to be taken away, we feel ourselves well off indeed.I really liked the people who are buying it: it’s nice to feel the van will be making a real difference in their lives, just as it has for Denise and I over the past nine years.
The photo here was actually taken in 2003 when I first started using the van for working on the mainland. If we’d never bought the van, back in October 2001, I would never have volunteered for that secondment to work in Scotland (loads of overtime to help pay for it!); I would never have seen the Outer Hebrides for the first time from Skye; we would never have gone to the islands for an extended holiday; and – having moved to the islands – we could never have afforded the costs of accommodation when working away from home. What a god-send it’s been!
Jonathan: Parked at Morrison’s supermarket car park in Welwyn Garden City. There’s something calming and reassuring about being settled amongst the comings and goings of so many people. After a walk around the pleasant leafy suburbs of Panhanger, I settled down to read some short stories (Katherine Mansfield – The Dolls House; Susan Glaspell – A Jury of Her Peers), drank a glass, of wine with some cheese and biscuits, and a little nap. It’s turned decidedly cold and blustry. To save money I’m ‘camping wild’ for a couple of nights – hereabouts that means car parks of 24/7 supermarkets or nearby where the delivery trucks park up.