Our first trip in 'the Duchess'. To England, to complete the process of importing her, to try her out and show her off. We left the Netherlands, where we bought her, on Sunday 19th January and headed down the familiar track through Belgium to Calais and the train.
She rides well and has plenty of power but we drove a bit slower than we are used to. Rather more sedate than my Mondeo. More right hand lane, less outside lane. Overtaking needs more planning and less rapid acceleration.
As usual we stopped for a break in Belgium to change drivers. But we didn't need to pay motorway prices for our coffee (input or output!). A brew-up on the gas hob and our own private facilities. Small pleasures. Capital cost - lots. Saving - tiny, but very satisfying.
Same train; different section. No more two level wagons. A slightly different process but essentially the same. We were delighted to be complimented on our 'nice vehicle' by the check-in lady. We think so. I declared that the van was being imported but border controls not bothered in the slightest. I'm glad I managed to get it all done before the Brexit axe falls at the end of the month. Who knows what horrors lie ahead.
Lunch at at our own table. I'm sure the novelty will wear off but it feels great to be able to do this. So much more relaxing than travelling in the car. Though actually driving it is (at least for now) more nerve wracking and needs more focused concentration.
We got safely to Tring and managed to park safely. She is too big for the parking at Regal Court. There was a temptation to sleep in the Duchess but (on the coldest night yet this winter?) sense prevailed and we stayed at the flat for two nights. An opportunity to show her off to Pippa, Laura and Lizi. I confirmed that she (The Duchess) would not be available for Glastonbury or other festivals this year, or next year.
There is so much to learn about her. Important things for January like how the heating works.
We moved on Tuesday to Marlborough in Wiltshire and found a tiny campsite on a farm at Mildenhall, as shown below. Which is, apparently, closing at the end of this month. Which is a shame. Simple and quiet, just us and one caravan.
There was still enough afternoon for a walk into Marlborough itself. Crossing, as in so many places, an abandoned railway line. It is an attractive town with a wide high street. Unlike so many places this high street seems to be still thriving.
A quick Wadworth's at the Green Dragon while we were waiting for the last bus at 18.05! Not really a viable option for someone living there to rely on. Lucky for us though. The walk back would have been a bit cold and very dark.
Mildenhall village retains a village pub, the Horseshoe, where we ate. The only people in the restaurant. Really friendly service and well cooked straightforward pub food. A real contrast to the tired meal Lizi and I had at the Old Mill in Berkhamsted on Monday evening.
Then back to our van. As we stepped in it was lovely and warm. The heating works. The blinds all close. We read for a bit and did some Duolingo - testing out our seating area - then off to bed. Our first night in the van. A cold January night yet sometime in the middle we both felt it was too hot!!! It heats too well.
The next night was at Hilary and Anthony's (thank you as always for your hospitality). Then off again, via the tunnel, to Calais for our second overnight stop. A dedicated and secure motorhome parking place. Not a campsite, just a place for 'campers' to park up and empty multiple classes of waste. We could have driven back to Rotterdam if we had needed to - but now we don't. And it is still a novelty.
The trip ended with trip to the dealer to start fixing the little teething problems that ad come to light. Just like a new house we have a snagging list. Which needs fixing before we embark on bigger trips to warm places.
David, 25 January 2020