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Wednesday, 26 March 2008

At last

So here are the pictures of the Van! We would like you all to actually visit it but that is impossible to arrange. More images will appear from time to time.

  • The first is John and me in Vanomobil.
  • Next John finding out how the second bed works.
  • Then the Van in Wevelgem.
  • John the driver.
  • And last the Laika logo.
John and I were very lucky - Dick, accompanied by Doug, generously drove us all the way to Vanomobil in Wevelgem in Belgium where necessary financial exchanges had been made and Christian was busy seeing that all was was in order!
We set off home in convoy before sunset and hadn't gone too far before we discovered that a fuse had blown and the heating was off on the passenger side. It was a very cold journey but it was exciting and felt great to have the Van back home and the be able to start the real work!!

Lost and Gone!

We are cut off and adrift! Our BT phone has been stopped too soon and many hours later, many phone calls later on very expensive mobiles have failed to get our phoneline and internet access reinstated. Apologies to all of you who wait anxiously for news of us on our blog - we are still here! We haven't given up and disappeared. We need to say heartfelt thanks to D and D who so kindly helped us collect our Vanomobil.
As soon as pos - we be back blogging!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

What a Weak.........

"It's for your own good, dear" That must be the thinking behind minds of the admirers of Indiana Jones who are the devisers of computer software. They must think that there is some sort of virtue gained in overcoming the traps they set for you in trying to perform the simplest action. Only the latest of these traps was when I started writing this post what seems like hours ago and I typed the first "W" in the title. Instantly the internet vanished (why is this now in italics?) and I was left with only a blank Word document on the screen.

This has come at the end of a long week when we have collected the motorhome (this week's preferred term is campervan, keep up) and are packing up the accumulation of possessions, which are being divided into a triage of Taking, Storing and Chucking with the seconds ticking away until the packers turn up on Tuesday morning and squirrel away our most vitally needed documents, addresses, clothing etc. into a place beyond recall so that our meticulously constructed playing card edifice crashes around our ears as soon as we reach the continental mainland and find that we have zero means of communicating with anyone and all our bank accounts have been closed.

On top of this I have been delivered of a handsome new wireless laptop, the software of which bears no resemblance to what had been having enough frustrations with anyway and whose keyboard has, if not a mind of its own, at least a residue of the minds who created it, which has outwitted mine. Am I rambling? Yes I am. To the pub.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

The (Motor)home is Home!

We collected the motorhome from Belgium on 19th. March. More soon.......

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

I am dog!

I have just listened to and enjoyed 'Two Caravans' by Marina Lewycka. It is read by Sian Thomas and she voices the character of the Dog really well. That partly explains my last post as the Dog character refers to the caravans as a Wheelythings. I was amused by the connections especially as John and I had just watched Lasse Hallestrom's film 'My life as a Dog' set in 1957 Sweden at the time of Laika the Space Dog.

'Two Caravans' was the choice of my village Book Club which has given me real pleasure over the last two years.

I asked them to recommend some books for us to take in the Campervan - sorry in the Laika - so why don't you recommend something too? We have weight and space limitations obviously.

I have decided to read poetry as poetry books all seem to be small and light. We will have the Bible, the Koran, and Shakespeare of course . . .

We have to have guide books and motorhome manuals and I am sneaking in a cookbook or two.

The recommendations from the Book Club centred on books about the Balkans - or maybe that is what we are quite interested in anyway. John has visited Roumania - my visit to Bulgaria took place in 1968 - a long time ago!

What is it?

Is it a campervan, motorhome, mobilehome, living machine, wheelyhouse, or what?
Will we just call it the 'Van'!
What do you think?
John has made it clear that no engine-driven machine should ever have a pet name.
The idea is the very opposite of amusing.
And there we are - or will be - in a vehicle named after Laika the Space Dog with the Registration K9. This is Sirius - I mean serious!
Poor Laika! Sent off into space in a tin box with no possibility of returning ever and only enough food for six months . . .
What are two pensioners doing setting off into the sunset for a whole year in a tin box with only a bag of rice and several boxes of chopped tomatoes? Or is our tin car in fact a tin Canis Major?
Relax - our orbit will bring us back to base in about 6 months - starving no doubt..
If anyone wants to give us a nodding dog in a goldfish bowl as a dashboard mascot - please don't - but thanks for the thought!
Laika a mongrel bitch, was sent into orbit in Sputnik 2 on 03.11.1957. Laika means 'Barker'.She was also called Kudryavka - little Curly and dubbed Muttnik. See

Saturday, 8 March 2008

John's mispent youth.

That is a calumny in all probility but it is said just to introduce a photo of John's backpack. Perhaps he will tell you about his first travels in Europe in his next rant - sorry - blog!

Travelling Genes

Setting off to travel round Europe after John's retirement seems ordinary in the 21st century but it set off a train of thought.

I remembered my grandmother, Emma Burton's epic Round the World trip on her retirement at 60 sometime in the late 1950's I think.

Emma was born to poor 1840 German immigrants to South Africa. My mother said they were of peasant stock. She had to leave school at 14 and spent most of her childhood barefoot outside her parents' trading store where they sold African green maize beer from a 44 gallon drum. By the time she was 60 she had been separated and widowed for about 20 years. She sold ladies gloves and haberdashery at Meikles Department Store in Fort Victoria, Rhodesia. (Now Masvingo, Zimbabwe) and saved up money to realise her dream of travelling around the world. To my shame I remember very little of her stories about the trip - I was at boarding school I believe. I know she visited the black Forest in Germany, crossed Canada on the Great Pacific Railway and sailed to Australia. The whole trip took her about 6 months and she made friends and continued to correspond with them for many years. Most of her travelling would have been boat and train I guess. I thought I would add this story to our blog so anyone in my family who knows about Emma's trip might be kind enough to tell me? I have added some pictures too. One of Emma's wedding to Benjamin Burton, one of her with her first two children, and one of her in her eighties I think. She was obviously a courageous woman.