Saturday, May 27, 2017

First nights in the Motorhome

Wow, this has been the start of a STEEP learning curve! We thought we knew about RV'ing based on our US experiences but we were in for a big surprise!

Nothing is the same except for the campers, who are, like their US cousins, pretty friendly and welcoming.

Immediately we found we'd been very spoiled in the US. The fact that we bought an RV which came completely equipped had us unprepared for one that came with nothing at all! We really appreciate how Mike and Lynne our Aussie friends felt when they bought their rig in Florida, even more so when we realized we had no tow vehicle so every time we wanted to go some where we had to take the whole thing with us. We seemed to be constantly going out to some local supermarket for bits and pieces. Still it was useful for getting me used to the size of the vehicle and the manual transmission.

One of the bad things we've found is that this rig has black water hookups like our US rig. The bad news is that campgrounds aren't set up for this and it may be impossible to use our toilet! Who knew!

Grey water here is just dump it into a drain, but you can't do that with the black water. Luckily the site we picked has a really nice bath house and we're parked feet from it so we can get by.

Of course this rig is TINY compared to our Rexhall. In fact I think this one would just about fit into the living room of the Rexhall. Every time one of us wants to move, the other one has to sit down to make room! The bed is a cab over type and climbing up the ladder is interesting, but nowhere near as interesting as getting down again!! Luckily the bed seems really comfortable and we have had no problems sleeping.

The campground is different too. Everyone tells us how nice this one is, and it IS nice, but there is NOTHING here except the bath house!! That and the nearest place to eat is a 1 mile walk away, there is no public transport nearby and the supermarket is 9 miles away, means a lot of sitting around the campground or a drive in the motorhome to find something.

Lucky the weather has been superb so far with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70's. Very unusual for May we're told, and people have started complaining about the heat!! Roll on 95 and 80% humidity in Florida!!

The motorhome (which I call the van) is small enough to fit in car sized parking spaces over here but hangs out a couple of feet on the end. So far we've been able to get where want to. Everywhere you stop you have to pay for parking including the supermarkets! If you buy more than $15 they will validate your parking. (All prices will be converted to US Dollars because my computer doesn't have the key for English Pounds or Euros!).

It is also a diesel. A turbo diesel yet! All 2000cc's of it. It has a 5 speed manual transmission which at times has me cursing like a sailor when I can't find 3rd or 5th. I am slowly getting the feel for it, but it's a little unusual as the gear shift sticks out of the dashboard. 

Being a manual (Stick Shift to our US friends) I have to remember my hill start techniques from when I drove over here 40 years back, For the non stick shift drivers, that entails finding the clutch bite point and using that to hold the vehicle as the parking brake is released. Rolling back a couple of feet as is the norm in the US is NOT the way here, The car behind will come right up to you bumper when you're stopped and there is no room for error.

And the gear shift is on the left, but on this van the parking brake is on the right!

We picked up the van on a Thursday and had reservations at the "Dulhorn Farm Holiday Park" about 20 miles South of where we picked it up. We picked the park based on it's closeness to the dealer and to the fact that we'd have to drive thru the major town of Weston Super Mare on the way, so we could go to the shops there and get the basics.

Luckily we knew the names of some UK stores that have sold camping gear since we were kids. Millets are nationwide here and we scouted out things like sleeping bags, pocket knives (which you can only buy in camping stores apparently), camping chairs etc. ASDA are the big supermarket chain and associated with Walmart apparently, so food, pots and pans, bedding came from there. We had to buy a gas bottle and electric cords, water hoses Sleeping bags, chairs and a few other things at an RV dealer along the way. (Called a Caravan Centre here) (No that's how center is spelled in Europe).

Eventually we had enough for the first couple of days while we "Shook Down" the rig and the rest of our gear.

Although the van was several hundred pounds heavier when we finished, our wallets were many thousands of pounds lighter, after we paid for the van, taxes, insurance and all the other stuff. I suppose that pun wouldn't have worked if the weight was in kilo's and the money in Euro's!!

So now we are staying in this park for 5 nights as this weekend is a long weekend for "Spring Bank Holiday" which is notorious for bad traffic. Sally our daughter called and said she'd like to meet up with us next week as the Grand Kids are off school for a week. We decided we'd move closer to them (they live about 200 miles North of here). We've joined the "Camping and Caravanning Club which gets us into their club campgrounds at discount rates and a campground book like Good Sam gives you. In fact thinking about it there are many similarities between the two.

I'd throw in some pictures to keep you all amused but the campground WiFi is too slow to let me do that!

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