Going Nationwide

One of the downsides of living in the van is not being able to collect post easily. Before we embarked on this epic trip we set up a mail redirection with Royal Mail from our old home address to Hannah’s flat in London to mop up anything that may still be physically posted to us. Naturally we’ve gone paperless as much as possible and cancelled as much other stuff as we could to avoid mountains of post accumulating in her postbox, but nevertheless some things still need to be actually, physically sent by good old-fashioned mail. 

Like bank cards. 

We’ve been considering a change of bank for a while now and, whilst the sensible approach would have been to do it when we had a house, because we spent so much time preparing the house for rent (and we’re not sensible) we just never got round to it. Until now. 

Several friends and family members have recommended the Nationwide Building Society to us so after extensive online research to confirm their suitability we finally booked an appointment with a young lady called Jasmin at the “local” Winchester branch. 

Winchester is a lovely historic city with plenty of fine old buildings including a not too shabby cathedral but the driving and parking facilities are more suited to horse and cart rather than motorhomes. Parking was a nightmare and resulted in us being late for the appointment – annoying when we actually got up early (8am!!) to get there in plenty of time. 

Anyway, the appointment went very well – Jasmin was fantastically efficient and went through the various stages of initiating the switch of all our accounts over from Lloyd’s. All was looking good until we realised that the new bank cards would have to be posted to us – and subsequently redirected to Hannah. To make matters worse, we could only realistically collect the cards at a weekend and for the next two weekends after the transfer completes Hannah won’t be there!

So we’re currently in the slightly worrying position of seeing several thousand pounds of our money disappear from our Lloyd’s accounts without actually being able to see it in our new Nationwide accounts! 

We sincerely hope that once we collect the cards and can actually access the new accounts the money’s all sitting there waiting and we’re not ringing up Nationwide to have them say “Jasmin? Jasmin who? Sorry, we’ve nobody working here called Jasmin…”!

So in the meantime what else could we do, given that it’s autumn and the weather’s still glorious, but head to one of our favourite places – namely the New Forest where we spent several days enjoying walking and cycling from our pitch among the trees at the Setthorns campsite in the heart of the forest. 

Who needs money when you’ve got times like these?!

Campsite in the trees
The view from the door. Bit of a wild back garden!
The bracken was looking splendidly autumnal…
…and covered large areas of the forest…
…but the trees still had a way to go
On the way to Sway…
Us, on our bikes, with Jack.



And so to Kent…

From London, in pouring rain and under filthy skies, we left Abbey Wood and headed to Kent – the so-called “Garden of England” – which was to be our next destination for the following three days.

The campsite we’d booked was the Caravan & Motorhome Club’s Broomfield Farm which, although being a main Club site, had no facilities i.e. no toilets or showers. Not a problem as we have both in the van and the benefit is cheaper prices: £14 per night rather than the usual £22-28 for a normal, full-facility site. When we have to pay for every night these fees really add up, so keeping the cost down helps us to save money to spend on other, more fun things. Like food. And, of course, wine!

In the end we actually stayed for ten nights as there was so much to see and do around the area. First up was meeting Annie’s sister and brother in law for lunch on Monday at the excellent local King’s Head pub in East Hoathly – just a short bike ride away. 

(As a complete aside – pub names always amuse me. It’s always things like “the King’s Head” or “The Forester’s Arms” etc. Why not other body parts? How about “the Queen’s Elbow” or “the Cricketer’s Kneecap” or maybe even “the Dustman’s Scrotum”?)

Anyway… other activities included several walks and bike rides around the area using the various footpaths, bridleways and quiet lanes surrounding the site. Jack has quite got the hang of trotting alongside the bikes as we ride along, albeit at his pace (slow!) rather than at a normal cycle speed, but at least we get to use the bikes.

No trip to this part of the county would be complete without a visit to the home of the Daily Mail’s Mr Angry: Royal Tunbridge Wells, and of course the octogenarian paradise of Eastbourne – both of which we spent a very happy few hours mooching around on a couple of gloriously sunny days. 

Here’s a few pictures to tell the rest of the story – first up, Tunbridge Wells:

Some flowers on a building
The Pantiles – a famous and exclusive area of RTW
A sunny day in the park

And now.. Eastbourne:

Beach huts. On the beach.
Apparently, the windows are bi-focal
Eastbourne still boasts a lovely pier
The Promenade along the seafront
The art-deco style Eastbourne Bandstand – the busiest bandstand in the UK apparently!

Special mention must go the fabulous Eastbourne Bandstand which proclaims to be the UK’s busiest, and looking at the calendar of events I’d have to agree. The stunning outdoor venue hosts an eclectic array of performances – including Queen, Abba and Bon Jovi tribute acts, firework concerts throughout the summer months as well as traditional afternoon concerts most summer Sundays. Great, so long as it doesn’t rain…

Finally, back to the site:

A traditional Kent oast house – now converted into part of a home

And finally, on our last night at Broomfield Farm, a stunning sunset:

End of another gorgeous day
The sky was on fire!