As that time of year has inexorably returned again, we find ourselves spending Christmas in an unusual way; not at home spending hours preparing for and eating a gargantuan feast before spending the rest of the day searching in vain for something vaguely enjoyable to watch on the TV that doesn’t involve Munchkins or so-called celebrities that nobody’s actually heard of trying their hapless hands at something that’s way out of their comfort, or indeed, capability zone; no, this year we will be having a simpler Christmas with the only concession to the season being a few mince pies, Baileys cream, a couple of bottles of champagne, maybe a few more bottles of wine than usual, a bottle of Southern Comfort, several dozen pigs in blankets (of course!) a good selection of savoury snacky bits (tv advertising does work, apparently) and a string of fairy lights. Oh, and our new van – our Christmas present to each other.
However you are spending this festive period we wish you all a very happy Christmas and hope you have a wonderful new year.
Thank you so much for following our adventures this year and we hope to share many more with you in 2019
The observant ones amongst you may have noticed that Wilma has had a bit of a facelift, grown a little and even changed colour. So what happened? Well, Wilma is no more… welcome to our new addition, Sally!
Why the change? Well, having actually lived in Wilma – through sun, rain and wind – for the last 10 months, we found that there just wasn’t enough space for us, Jack and all of our respective kit (Jack packed so much!) It wasn’t too bad during the summer months when we predominantly lived outside the van but on rainy days, or during these long autumn and winter nights, poor Wilma just didn’t offer enough room to live in any degree of comfort.
We started to come to this conclusion a while ago and in fact back in October, when we were in the New Forest enjoying the glorious autumn, we thought that we’d “nip up” to the NEC to the Motorhome & Caravan Show just to get an idea of what sort of van layout would suit. A bonus for attending the show was to buy some new awning pegs as our existing ones were either missing or bent.
Living in a space for some time – any space, whether on wheels or static – gives you a good idea of what works and what doesn’t, so we had a good list of “must-haves” for a new van, the main one being space – both to move around and to store everything away in cupboards, drawers etc. rather than just dumping stuff in the footwells or on the bed which of course necessitated moving said items when we needed to drive anywhere or go to bed!
Wilma was 6 metres long and just over 2 metres wide and there’s only so much you can pack into such a relatively small space. When we ordered her the biggest consideration of all was that she had to fit on the drive (by the way vans, like boats, are generally regarded as being female, hence the “she” and “her” references) and therefore 6 metres was absolutely as big as we could go. Now though, without having to worry about fitting on a drive, size wasn’t so much of an issue, within reason of course.
It was a busy and exhausting day at the NEC but, having looked at several models (we’d already made a shortlist) the one that stood out, hands down, above all others was the Adria Coral Plus 670 SL – a “proper” motorhome (rather than a van conversion) whose dimensions of 7.5 metres long and 2.3 metres wide gave a vast amount of additional internal space.
A great place to buy a motorhome is from a show because there are some great deals to be had and before we knew it we were in discussions over tea and battenburg cake about part-exchanging Wilma and buying the Coral!
Hours of discussions and a fairly sleepless night later we decided the following morning to accept the deal and go ahead with changing vans. At the time, we were told that the delivery time would be 2-3 weeks, which would be ideal as we still had some things to do “down south.” In the event it turned out to be nearly 8 weeks which was a bit frustrating but finally we were able to collect our new home-on-wheels from The Motorhome Depot in Redditch and start the amazingly arduous task of finding where to put everything!
Over the last few days we’ve gradually grown into her and got used (nearly) to where everything is. Staggeringly, we’ve got the same amount of stuff that we had in Wilma and now can’t believe how we managed to fit so much into such a small space! The key difference is that we can now get at everything very easily whereas before, things were packed in boxes on top of other boxes behind bags… with the result that most of the time we just didn’t bother going there. In fact, when we were moving out of Wilma I found clothes I didn’t even remember packing!
Our memories of Wilma will always be incredibly fond. We’ve had some amazing adventures with her and been to some wonderful places. She was a brilliant van and still remains a top choice for short to medium term touring but to live in for an extended period she was just too cramped, for us at least (I know of one couple who long-termed in a VW campervan – now that is brave beyond belief!)
So why name our new van Sally? In the past we’ve always used names that were acronyms: “TILLY” (Two Idiots Living Life Youthfully); “WILMA” (Wandering Idiots Living Many Adventures) but “SALLY” is actually just a name – inspired by Wilson Pickett’s song Mustang Sally (or as Annie says “Must ‘ave Sally” incorporating the lyric “Ride around Sally…” which is what we certainly intend to do!
And we never did get the new awning pegs when we went to the NEC!