Boxes were stacking higher and the house was looking emptier, the decluttering and downsizing was relentless and the local tip and charity shops were begging us not to bring them any more. Slowly we were getting the house cleared and with it so many memories as we came across items from our own and our childrens childhoods which interrupted the packing as we stopped to reminice. Countless boxes are now in storage of items we can’t bear to be parted from with strict instructions to our children that they must be kept for all eternity. One day surely there might just be something worth taking to an Antiques Roadshow and we’ll be millionaires!
A last minute opportunity arose at New Year for us to grab a couple of days away in the caravan. We booked in at Chester Fairoaks as it a) actually had space and b) is an easy tow from home, with the intention of not moving much once we arrived there. Set up on a pitch it was a nice feeling to be on the other side of the fence and be able to watch the world go by at leisure without having to empty a bin or clean a loo! We hadn’t had any holiday time in the Bailey since taking ownership more than a year earlier due to lock downs. We walked across the road to Cheshire Oaks retail outlet, slept alot, read alot and had a very relaxed time that was about it.
In between house sales and holidays we had also made the decision to get Vinny the Van professionally converted into a camper. Back in summer 2020 we had partially done a day van conversion ourselves which although we were very pleased with and proud of, we now wanted something a little more. After looking at layouts we decided we didn’t want the conventional cooker/sink option as we still needed to use the vehicle as a mode of transporting all our worldly goods around with us (even more so now we haven’t got a house) so the “mountain bike” layout was decided upon. Vinny went away for 3 weeks and came back with a pop top roof, full electrics, rear door tinted windows, side bench seat/pull out bed, fully carpet lined and insulated, altro sparkly flooring, swivel seat, table and a pull out canopy awning. This will now enable us to embrace camper life even more as we can escape on our time off to visit other sites and enjoy the areas we are working in to the max. Big shout out and thanks to The Conversion Shed for carrying out the work so expertly and fitting us in on such a tight schedule. The professionalism, thoughtfulness and communication by Lee was second to none. We haven’t got around to taking any inside photos yet as it’s mostly been stacked to the roof with boxes, so here’s an external one parked up at Start Point overlooking the South Devon coastline.
Way back before Covid, before Mitch and Chloe were buying their own house and before we knew we would be selling ours, we had booked a cruise to Northern Europe for mid February. Suddenly amidst all the ongoing upheaval the date was rapidly approaching. Some of the Covid restrictions were being eased thankfully in time for our travel then a week before we were informed of an itinerary change. No more Hamburg, it was Le Havre instead. Then the day before – no more Northern Europe at all, it was now Portugal and Spain. OK, not what we planned but on the plus side it would be warmer. Predicted storms were dictating the schedule and as it turned out we only got a day in Lisbon and one in Vigo then had to sail full steam ahead to get infront of the weather and make it back near to Southampton. The ship took refuge in a Bay off Northern France for 2 days instead, on which we ate, drank and were entertained 24/7, so not really a hardship at all! It was a lovely break and much needed downtime off packing and it will probably be our last overseas travel for a good while unless we figure out how best to take Belle to foreign climes.
Back home and we had 5 days to go before leaving for Start Bay. Days off packing the house turned into packing the caravan and van instead. Initially trying to think what was needed for 8 months then remembering that this was now going to be our full time life going forward, so then also trying to decide what we might want for the foreseeable ‘forever’. Difficult decisions for some items, time will tell if we pine for certain things or quickly forget all about them. Keeping an eye on the weather forecast for both locations prompted us to delay the journey by a day so that blue skies and sunshine was on order for both departure from Staffordshire and arrival in Devon on Friday 25th February. We set off at 7am and as expected it took 5.5 hours to site. Motorway all the way to the last 15 or so miles then following the site recommended route rather than the satnav version. Having an 8ft wide caravan we had hoped to time our arrival to avoid the possibility of meeting the oncoming bus between Torcross and Kingsbridge, but as is often the case it didn’t work out that way! The lanes around Start Bay site are more suited to a horse and cart in places so us meeting the bus was ‘challenging’ to say the least. After holding our breath for a few hair-raising minutes we were soon pulling in through the site gates and viewing our new home, the grass was lush green, daffodils nodded their yellow heads, the pitches were bathed in sunshine and the sea beyond the treetops was deep blue, a perfect sight to greet us. Bus? What bus? Oh that bus? Yeah no problem, so soon forgotten.
Continuing with a prequel to the history lesson of the area from the previous blog; The area around Slapton was commandeered by the War Cabinet in November 1943 when over 3000 people in the surrounding villages were given 6 weeks notice to evacuate their homes, farms, pubs and shops leaving nothing but ghost towns behind. Most had never previously left their own villages before but were now destined never to return. Over 30,000 acres of farmland was cleared making way for 15,000 American troops to arrive in the spring of 1944 to begin practice landings for the DDay invasions. As per the previous blog it turned into a tragic event that was kept secret for more than 30 years, until in 1969 a local man by the name of Ken Small started to find unusual items washing up on the beach and began the quest to uncover the truth about that fateful night.
Catch up with us in the next blog as we bring the history lesson up to present day, settle back into ‘wardenlife’ open the site to visitors and get out and about in South Devon.