Sunday, 29 March 2020

The End of this Chapter in our Story!!

Sunday 29th March 2020
Parked at Butterley Bank Certified Site (for the foreseeable future!)
Parking Co-ordinates 53.06426, -1.39653

If you read our last post you'll know that after our 136 day winter tour we arrived back in England from France (much earlier than planned) on 17th March 2020, and if anyone had told us prior to our departure what things would be like when we got back I don't think we would ever have believed them!

Our original return date was yesterday (28th March) but at the beginning of the month Covid 19 was just starting to rear it's head in Spain, and some of the cases were only 30 miles away from us in Barcelona!   Therefore, although we weren't overly worried at that point we decided to start making our way home, and thus we changed our ferry date from the 28th to the 17th of March.  However, there was also another influencing factor in this equation, and that was our decision to sell our beloved motorhome ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ, and to buy a car and caravan so that we could continue our nomadic lifestyle with just a bit more comfort and mobility๐Ÿ˜€!

We left Vilanova (Spain) on 4th March, and to start with we only dawdled on our way towards the north coast of France (see previous post), but as we went the news re Covid 19 got rapidly worse, and by the time we arrived at Cabourg our main topic of conversation was around the need to bring our ferry crossing forward and get back onto English soil as quickly as possible.  However, despite numerous attempts this proved to be impossible because Brittany Ferries weren't contactable, so other than just risking arriving at the Caen Port and hoping for the best, we had no option other than to stay where we were and wait for our pre-booked slot.

The days dragged by and each one brought more unprecedented dire news as to what was happening around the world and in France itself, and on Monday 16th March it was announced that France would go into 'lock down' at mid-day on Tuesday!  Therefore, as you can imagine, we were hugely relieved that we'd managed to escape from France's shores before that happened (our ferry was at 8.30am that morning)!  Later we also learnt that the Brittany Ferry that we'd sailed on was one of the very last before all other crossings with that company from both Spain and France were cancelled, thus the only route back after that was via Calais!

Once back in England we mistakenly breathed a huge sigh of relief thinking things would settle down, and we decided to stay south in Somerset for a few days while we looked for a Caravan.  After visiting several outlets we found just what we wanted at Highbridge Caravans, and as they were prepared to give us an excellent price for a part exchange on our van we signed on the dotted line!

At that time the company reassured us that they had no intention of stopping trading, and that even if they did our deal would be honoured once things got back to normal. Additionally, they also arranged to do a few modifications to the van and booked a very quick handover date, but that was dependent upon us obtaining a tow car!

So after the deal was done (Friday 20th) we toddled back to our campsite to enjoy the weekend (observing social distancing rules) prior to heading home on the following Monday!  However, life as we know it was still deteriorating, and on Sunday we were suddenly asked to leave the site as they were closing completely at 6pm.

Therefore, we had little choice but to head 'home' where we set up camp in our usual spot at Butterley Bank Camping and Caravan Certified Site, where luckily the owner is our friend.  Once settled in we thought we'd be safe and able to stay for the duration of this terrible time, but by Monday evening the owner had been informed by the Club that she had to ask guests to leave and that she must close the site completely.  This was very upsetting because John and I live full-time in our van and we don't have a house, and as all other campsites were closing we had nowhere else to go!  Happily in the end, common sense prevailed, and as we're the only guests on this site, and as the owner is more than happy for us to stay, the Club agreed and thus we have somewhere to call 'home' for the foreseeable future.

So once that trauma was sorted we set about looking for the tow car we'd need to be able to fetch our caravan, and we found the perfect one on-line with a firm called Cazoo!  It's a Hyundai Santa Fe, and once again we were quite 'jammy' because the price was excellent and it's got a very low mileage.  Also, we just managed to sneak our delivery in before they stopped any further deliveries until at least 12th April!

A very happy 'boy' with a new 'toy'

However, it's not all good news because unsurprisingly our caravan collection date has been cancelled, initially for 4 weeks but in reality we're sure that it will be for much longer!

But we're really not complaining because at the moment all our family and both of us are well and healthy!  We have somewhere to stay, and although it's a bit basic (no facilites or electric) it's very pretty and far from any madding crowds!  Additionally we've lived in our van for nearly 5 years now so a while longer isn't going to make much difference, and other than it being a bit cold at times we're managing very well.   Therefore, we're counting our blessings, but if there's one thing we could wish for, after all that time we've been away from our family, it would be that we'd got back with a little window in time where we could have seen them and hugged them prior to  all these awful consequences of Covid 19.

At this point I'm not sure if I'll continue to write this blog, and I definitely wont while we're captured here with nothing much to say! But who knows - when brighter times dawn and our freedom is reinstated my fingers may well run over the keyboard again.

Take care and stay well
All our best, Lin and John ๐Ÿ˜—๐Ÿ˜—