Tuesday 27 July 2021

Where I spent most of last week

We have just returned from an amazing week away at Westward Ho! in Devon. We returned to the same apartment that we stayed in this week last year as we loved it so much, and this time we couldn't believe how lucky we were with the weather. It was hot and sunny every single day, not a drop of rain and barely a cloud, and warm enough to walk around in shorts and T-shirts late into the evening. 

Even though it was a little busier than last year it still felt incredibly safe. It's a small town but there are plenty of takeaway venues so we were able to either collect food or have it delivered almost every evening and enjoy it sitting on the balcony in the early evening sunshine. When the tide is out there is masses of space for everyone on the beach.

And the balcony in the apartment was where I spent most of the week. 

The balcony looked out over a wide promenade with the rocks and sea beyond, and over to one side is the enormous beach that disappears almost completely at high tide. I spent hours at a time just sitting there watching the sea, the sky, and all the people walking past. I had my books with me but I couldn't concentrate on them, what was in front of me was far more interesting.

Westward Ho! beach from a balcony

We watched the sunset from the balcony every single evening and were lucky enough to be treated to clear skies each night. On our final night a few clouds just made the sunset even more spectacular. As the sky turned orange the rockpools reflected pink. 

Westward Ho! beach sunset

We've only been back a couple of days and I'm really missing my balcony! Please enjoy the timelapse video that I made one afternoon - here is two hours condensed into thirty seconds as the tide comes in on a sunny afternoon.

Monday 26 July 2021

Taking the First Trip with Your New Campervan

Whether you’ve started from scratch and renovated the entire thing yourself (bravo!) or you’ve just bought yourself a new campervan, taking it out on its first trip is an adventure full of excitement and possibilities. You get to test out all its features, see if anything needs tweaking, and then you are ready to set off whenever and wherever your heart desires. Soon enough, you will be living the dream. But before you set off, here are a few things to consider when planning that first, long awaited outing. 

The Basics

Before you go anywhere, you need to make sure that you and your campervan are road legal. These are all the technical and boring, but essential, bits and bobs. Make sure that your driving licence covers the size and weight of your van. Your MOT needs to be up to date, and you need to have paid the road tax and got the correct insurance. So that you can spend your time doing more exciting activities, use a simple comparison sites to compare insurance prices from different companies all in one place. Comparison sites do what they say. They provide an unbiased comparison of all types of campervan insurance, from self builds to VWs and under 25s. This means you can get the best deal on insurance that is perfect for you and your van in a quick, easy and secure way.

Where to Go?

For your first ever trip, it’s usually a safer bet to stay fairly close to home just in case anything happens. Of course, you still want that authentic van life experience, but choosing somewhere that isn’t totally off grid would be sensible, for now. It’s easy to find a campsite or caravan park that hosts campervans, since there are several apps and websites where you can check the facilities available to you. In the UK, it’s rare and expensive to find sites with pitches that have fresh water and waste services but there will be at least some to choose from. Now you just need to decide what sort of landscape you wish to have your first campervan experience in. Do you want to be close to the sea for a daily swim, or up in the hills and mountains so you can go out hiking every day? The freedom of the campervan gives you the freedom of choice!

Campervan on road with flowers
Photo credit S├ębastien Goldberg via Unsplash

Packing Essentials

You will need the usual camping essentials: a first aid kit, pots and pans, a washing line, and toilet roll. But there are a few other items that you will probably need at some point when travelling or holidaying in a campervan, like levelling ramps, a water hose and an extension lead. But do not fret, the point of this first trip is to find out what you do and don’t need. Start a list to note down all the things that you’re missing on this trip, so you can get them ready for the next one. Of course, plastic wine glasses should definitely be added onto that list.

By following this guide, your first trip in the campervan will be as smooth as possible. Expect the small hiccups, since it is only the first time, but take them in your stride and have the best time.

This is a collaborative post.

Wednesday 7 July 2021

My goals for July

I'm a little bit late committing my goals for this month to blog post, but I made it in the end! This month things are a bit more mixed up, we have the countdown to the end of term, hopefully we'll be spending a few days away, and then we have a few social activities too. So instead of lots of things that I want to do every day, there are a few tasks that I want to make the effort to work on and complete.

* Sort out and delete old e-mails. I have been using the same e-mail address for a long time now and I have e-mails going back years. I'd like to have a bit of a clear out and come up with a better filing system for the e-mails that I want to keep.

* Update my household notebook. I started my household notebook when I learned about the FlyLady system years ago (she calls it a control journal), but I've been very bad at keeping it updated. I;d like to have some current notes about the children for potential babysitters, important contact numbers and so on, and there are also some new pages that I want to add. 

* Type up and laminate my recipes. Last month I challenged myself to sort through all the recipes that I'd cut from magazines, try out some and cull the rest. Now I want to take the ones that I will actually make again, type them up and laminate them to fit in to my recipe box. 

* Write a summer bucket list of things to do with the children over the long summer holiday.

* Take part in our village garage sale trail and find a way to dispose of everything that doesn't sell. I will be having an enormous 'free' pile outside our house!

* Swim in the sea pool that is in walking distance of our holiday AirBnB. I saw it last year and regretted not having my swimming costume, so I promised myself that if we made it back then next time I would swim in it (or at least get in, and jump out very quickly afterwards!).

* Work on my cross stitch map. My cross stitch map is a very long term project. It's a cross stitch canvas with a map printed on, and the idea is that you stitch in the countries that you've visited. But even if you are pretty well travelled, there is still quite a lot of white left over. So I'm intending to fill the entire canvas with little pictures that represent my travels, then fill in the other areas with different shades of blue. This month I want to add as much blue as I can, so that it starts to look a bit more finished!

Cross stitch map project in progress

Monday 5 July 2021

End of term anxiety

It's finally the last week of term, after a very strange year. But one thing the same is how anxious I am finding myself feeling as the school year draws to a close. It's heightened this year by the fact that school bubbles across the country are closing left right and centre - fingers crossed that we can actually make it to the end of the week!

I always find this week stressful because the usual routines have come to an end and there are extra activities and events taking place. Admittedly not so many this year, but we have a summer 'bubble' fair, transition days and a themed day, as well as a half day on the final Friday. There are lots of things to remember each day and probably some school run juggling to make sure I'm in the right place at the right time.

Then there are the teacher gifts and thank you cards to worry about, I never know what to get and usually just go with a gift card (although I have upped the value since covid hit, I think they deserve it!). 

It's also my last chance to get hold of any second hand uniform directly from the school, which has already been trickier than usual due to the lack of the proper second hand uniform sale. I've managed to get most things but I still really need a bigger blazer for Harry, he has taken me aback this year with how much he's grown!

Finally there's the panic about trying to fit in everything I want and need to do at home before I have everyone at home again for eight weeks. I do some transcription work which is only limited by the amount of time that I can spend on it, and with everyone at home that time really does become limited! 

I will have such a sense of relief come Friday lunchtime when I can pull the car onto the driveway, get the final school uniform washing load on and pack away the schoolbags and lunchboxes ready for the summer! 

School things and apple
Image credit Element5 Digital