May 2017. England.

When we left Dover we went to stay with Darren’s parents in Surrey for a few days, it was so lovely to see them again.  We also met up with his sister and spent time getting to know our little great niece who had, naturally grown considerably during the time we’d been away.

It was actually very nice to sleep in a large bed and wash in a power shower for a change.

From Surrey we took the van down to West Sussex to visit my Mum and Bri, my sister had flown over from South Africa.  When she’d booked her flight originally it had been with the intention of visiting our Dad but sadly he had died earlier in the year so now she was going to help me with the emotional task of clearing his belongings from his home.

We stayed overnight in our van at Charmill Cottage Campsite CL in West Sussex, the field was nestled at the bottom of the South Downs, it was a beautiful, quiet spot. Unfortunately we did have a bit of an expensive mishap as we were leaving.  Before we’d gone to bed Darren had changed the toilet cassette and because it was dark outside and we were parked on the opposite side of the field to the elsen unbeknown to me he’d popped it under the van so no one would trip over it in the dark.

In the morning we did all our checks and Darren started to drive off, we were surprised at how bumpy it was until it suddenly dawned on Darren that we’d just driven over the cassette!  Yuk!  Poor Darren had to scrape up the mess the best he could and take it over to the elsen to clean everything up.  That was bad enough but knowing we’d have to buy a replacement was rather galling!

My family did have a good old laugh at our expense when we arrived for breakfast and related the story to them (the perfect story to tell at the breakfast table!)

We popped to Littlehampton to see our Aunty as well, I couldn’t believe the colour of the water in the harbour, it looked like the glacial water we’d seen in the fjords.  Midweek we drove over to my step mother’s house to begin the awful task of disposing of our Dad’s belongings.  The only nice thing about that was that my sister seemed to have forgotten the horrors she’d experienced when she’d stayed with us in the van BEFORE we’d gone on our tour and she’d foolishly agreed to stay with us again.  We were lucky to be able to stay at The Llama Park.  The food there is gorgeous, their cakes in particular are irresistible.  We had stayed there at the beginning of our tour as we made our way to Dover, that was when we discovered the scrumptious cakes.

The following week we returned to stay at The Llama Park and to finish off clearing our Dad’s belongings and in the evening were able to meet up with a couple of my sister’s lovely friends Paula and Chris whom she’s know since her school days.   They both had to travel a long way to meet up with us, Paula had a 3 hour round trip, that’s the sign of good friends.  The following day, on our way back to our parents house we suddenly had a desire to go and visit Battle so we headed to what turned out to be a very nice Brit Stop, unfortunately it was pouring with rain when we arrived, stopping long enough for us to have a little look around and as we settled in for the night we suddenly realised that we’d run out of gas!  There was no way we were going to be able to cope without a cup of tea during the evening so off we went in search of somewhere to refill our tanks.

We were at Pevensey, so close to Battle, by the time we found a Service Station that sold gas that we decided to book into a nearby CL. It was a nice little CL, very peaceful.

Early the next morning we set off for Battle and then the fun began, we were a bit concerned about where we would park the van, we tried the station but that had a height barrier and after Darren had done a 90 point turn and managed to get us out of that tiny little road we drove to the Abbey where we saw a sign for a car park but didn’t want to be in the same pickle again.  My sister jumped out and ran down the lane to see if we could get in the car park and Darren sent me into the Abbey to ask there!  The staff at the Abbey were very helpful and after a bit of chat they decided that we probably wouldn’t get our van in there, however by the time I’d got out to where the van had been my sister had made the executive decision that it would be fine.  When Darren got down to the entrance he realised that my sister wasn’t really aware of how large the van was but he was committed by that time and miraculously he somehow managed to squeeze the van through the barrier.  I had to laugh because I’d noticed the staff watching the CCTV which showed the car park, no doubt they were placing bets as to whether we’d make it or get completely stuck!

We took our time going to the Abbey, we popped into the Tea Shop opposite first in the hope that when we went into the Abbey they wouldn’t remember that I’d asked for their advice and then completely ignored it!  Luckily another member of staff was on the till when we got there!

We had a very nice time wandering around the grounds of the Abbey.  Darren and I had been there many years before for what turned out to be a lightning tour.  We’d been building a house in Battle which was a 2 hour car journey from our home at that time.  We’d been promising our little boys that we would take them into Battle Abbey every time we’d driven down there and this particular time was the last time we were going to be driving that way.  Unfortunately Darren’s parents were with us and they didn’t fancy walking round the Abbey so we left them reading the newspaper in the car and rushed in with our 3 children, I’m not sure how much our children got out of that visit but about 30 minutes after we’d got in there Gethan pooped his nappy and I discovered in our rush to do the tour I’d left the clean nappies in the car so there ended our visit to the Abbey with our children!

After Darren, Debs and I had made our way back to the motorhome we suddenly realised that there was no way the van would go through the barrier if we went the correct way round the One Way System in the car park, we would have to be law breakers and go out the wrong way, however that turned out to be the least of our worries, we had parked down in a dip and the rain had made the ground VERY slippery!  For a while it was touch and go as to whether we’d actually get enough traction to reach the main car park, we were extremely relieved when the tyres suddenly got a grip and Darren kept the van moving slowly until we’d reached flat ground with all 4 wheels!  Phew!

We were very lucky while we were with our parents, we had been looking for somewhere to rent and found a little house on a small estate near 2 of my friends at home.  In fact it was equi-distance between their houses.  My wonderful step father insisted we book a viewing and that he would drive us up to see it, which is exactly what he did.  Two properties were vacant, we chose one and it turns out we chose the best one, the one that had a very nice neighbour, as we were to discover.

We stayed with my parents for the 2 weeks that my sister was with them, it was very sad to say goodbye to her but we did have a great time during her stay.

From West Sussex we drove up to Derby to see our youngest son Gethan, it was great to see him, we hadn’t seen him since my Dad’s funeral in February, I’m not so sure he was that happy to see us because it meant returning my car was imminent!  However for us it was good to see him in happier circumstances, we had last visited him in Derby as we were leaving the UK ‘9th May 2016.  Melchbourne, Bedfordshire to Derby, Derbyshire’.  A week later Gethan drove to see us at Darren’s parents house and then came with us to help clean the new house before we moved in.