Part four 4/2/16 The buying of the Beast and the Norwich town house.
Well we finally did it after 9 months of planning and waiting. The chain worked out and all six families moved on February 1st into six new houses. Moving from a roomy six bedroom Victorian into a three bedroom town 70s terrace was quite a squeeze and if it wasn't for the integral garage that we shoehorned everything into - it simply would not have worked. It reminded us of when we came back from the States 12 years ago with all our American oversized furniture to a tiny Mundesley cottage and had to lay out our furniture in the garden and hope it wouldn't rain. The family had to line up outside the kitchen to file through to get round our beloved ex library table.
This table also was left in the front garden at the next house as the 3 furniture men gave up getting it in.
Anyone who knows Martin knows that he never gives up. We left him alone with it one Saturday morning and came back to find he had managed single handedly to get it into the kitchen. He had sawn off a few inches of one leg and stuck it back on again once he got it in the kitchen. How he even lifted it - quite apart from manoeuvring it -seemed to defy belief. He adored that table and wasn't going to give it up without a fight. (Sadly it had to go when I turned childminder as the little kids couldn't get their legs under it on booster chairs.)
The neighbours must've wondered who was moving in here as the first day was dominated by the dog barking and the cat crying locked in the bathroom (not together) and the removal men making a lot of loud hilarity as they shoved squeezed and forced everything into a tiny garage. (One neighbour drew her curtains and refused to answer the door when I went round to introduce myself and apologise - not a happy start I fear...)
At least the movers didn't say: 'In all my years I've never had a job like this' which they usually do. Our first night was spent eating stupidly expensive Dominos pizza. No one told us about the coupon system. Never again. At least we had 3G.
However, the next morning dawned calm and chilly and the howling wind had abated. It was time for us to introduce Lenny Henry the Hymer into our lives.
Satnav went disappointingly bananas in our little car as it tried to urge us the opposite way while dropping off Poppy at college in rush hour. Martin said it was his first traffic jam for years and he sat enjoying the ancient road names such as Rampant Horse road and Flower in Hand yard.
Finally she was dropped and we managed to park our little car in the city centre to find the bank where we were given first class treatment for transferring such a large cash sum. Nice lush couch and water fountain.
Next stop - the Three shop to make sense of the Mifi we had bought ('Internet on legs') so we could create our own little hotspot wherever we had 3G on our travels. She showed us where to find the minuscule password that was advertised as being on the 'back' of the device (the ''back' turned out to be the inside of the casing!) and we had to admire how hard someone had worked to make it that difficult. It wasn't even called a password but an SSID number. Ho hum.
However that was swiftly sorted and we retired to Pret a Manger for a celebratory flat white (also new to Martin who does not get out much)
He was feeling immensely proud of not only owning his own house (not sharing it with the morgage lenders any more) his own motorhome but mainly owning his own wifi. A man of means indeed! We also congratulated ourselves as being able to keep up in the rapidly changing and cut throat world of tech challenges. However Martin still refuses to get a smart phone.
There was nothing for it but to drive to North norfolk and take possession of the monster.
We got to the campsite early and checked out the faculties excitedly and briefly considered having a shower just because we could. We had a hot chocolate at reception instead and I got more and more nervous waiting. We'd brought baguettes but I could only manage half of mine. If only I felt nervous like this all the time the weight would fly off!
He finally arrived and we walked round and round Lenny in awe - although we were supposed to be checking for bumps and bruises. Lenny seemed in a munificent mood and I didn't get bad vibes from him which was a better start than with our new neighbour at least.
Finally we thought we should go inside if for no other reason than it was freezing outside
It all looked lovely and sparkling and we again marvelled that we were going to camp in something this glamorous after all our experiences of soggy fields in limp tents.
We did some paperwork hand overs and had some more tips and 'how to' advice that could literally have gone on for ever as not only is there a lot to be told but we kept forgetting stuff he'd told us last session. Our vendor was very patient and reassuring and it's wonderful to know he'll always be there to help us on the end of a phone or in cyber space.
I burst out after 40 minutes of orientation chat 'Can we just start driving as I am so nervous and I don't want to get information overload before I do it'
He thought this was very amusing and seemed to think I'd be 'absolutely fine'. I gave him a long critical look that implied 'you do not know what you're dealing with here.' I feel very comfortable behind a wheel after 40 years of driving but I worry about my impulsive nature.
However, no time to waste, we leapt into the cab seats and he was all for me going onto the road straight away but I had noticed the campsite went in a circle and insisted on doing that a few times first. The first suprise was easing off the clutch into first. You need no throttle whatsoever as the torque is so powerful. You get a jerk if you don't (and look like one too - which I'm sure will happen a lot.)
However forewarned, I eased off gently and started to amble around the outside like a big slow friendly giant. The gear changes were all fluid and easy compared to that dreadful tractor engine we'd had on our hire-a-Hymer van back in June when we cheered after every gear change.
After a few rounds he felt we could venture out and Martin noticed we'd been driving the wrong way round the campsite but the owner didn't seem to mind watching us from reception. We'd had a good chat about my nerves over my hot chocolate earlier and he probably didn't want to startle me by waving his arms about and shouting.
To get on the road I had to turn left and needed a nice big sweep around. That's the bit I need to get used to. That and hugging the white line on the left so I stay well over. You have to get over way more than you think and watching the white line in the side mirror tip was really handy. There was a fast road at the top which we bottled out of so we did my first reverse which took way more distance than I would have guessed (going further forward before reversing). It all worked fine in the end although our long suffering vendor Steve was beginning to sound a bit more shrill now. Back down the road and into the campsite again for another circuit.
This time steve wanted us on the fast road so he talked me through it and it was fine. Nice and slow and measured. Once in the fast road with cars overtaking he insisted on foot down and changing up the gears into fifth and I had to go faster than I wanted to but it was still not over 45mph. I actually relaxed then and really enjoyed it. We reached a roundabout and I hogged it all round in a full circle and headed back. Giving everything a wide berth is the biggest challenge - that and staying right over on your side of the road. With martin in the passenger seat on the right in the future - no doubt he will be squeaking and shrieking to remind me as cars threaten him full on sitting as it were in the middle of the road.
We went to the garage where we learned how to fuel it and put LPG gas in the cylinders. I wasn't prepared for the blow back little pop when you disconnect which sounded like an explosion which was the scariest part of the afternoon. Back to the camp site and filled up with water and we had our first gazer hanging about. We'd been warned that people will stand and stare at you in the van. In any van apparently but ours is somewhat unusual to van gazers apparently as it's a limited anniversary edition from Hymer.(Legend 654)
This gazer finally came around to chat - he had been round the world in his van which was parked up here. First of many interesting chats I'm sure which I will greatly enjoy.
So then it was wrap up time and goodbye. Steve told me I'd done 'really well' and to take my time and enjoy it.
It felt sad leaving Lenny on the campsite in the darkening gloom alone but we'll be back in two days to pick him up.
We now have all the jigsaw pieces assembled for our new life
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