Our home for the last few months has been a lovely guesthouse on the seafront in West Sussex that we have been looking after whilst it’s owners are sunning themselves in warm and toasty Australia – quite ironic!! It’s been a lovely respite from the vigor’s of living on the road with the oven receiving a thorough workout with Jen cooking many roasts and rediscovering her culinary cake baking skills. Digby, the resident Miniature Schnauzer in our care, has also been the recipient of many home baked doggy biscuits, not to mention his very own 7th Birthday Party with many of his doggy friends!
The novelty of a nice hot shower on demand with no setup required has seen a dramatic improvement in our personal grooming! Makes life on the road sound a little less appealing when I read back that last paragraph but it couldn’t be further from the truth!
We’ve been relaxing through the cold months of winter and whilst enjoying some lovely sunny days from our balcony overlooking the sea, you are soon reminded of just how far north you are when as you leave the house, you’re smacked in the face with the freezing breath of the northern winter.
Due to our location just south of the range of hills known as the South Downs, we are protected from the worst of the Northern Winter with our own little micro-climate* and despite news reports suggesting that the whole of the UK has been blanketed in thick snow, we have only received one day (well more like a few hours!) of snow and, whilst only a light coating, there was enough for a little snowman and I can loosely claim a white Christmas (albeit a month late!) Frosty mornings are common and the frozen beach sand was a novelty!!
(*Info provided by the locals we meet during our dog walking duties)
Hence our location has proven fortunate, as we’ve not found the winter to be oppressive in any way and have enjoyed numerous day trips around our local area taking in the history and scenery that is southern England!
Mind you, not having to exit a warm bed in the dark and transit to a workplace followed by returning in the frozen darkness probably gives us a false reality of life through a British winter. Our primary concern has been the amusement of a small canine with his primary concern being food!!! Visit’s to the local High Street shops, dog walking and grocery shopping round out our days!
Whilst on our temporary hiatus, Jen has also been beavering away furiously on family tree research and, with thanks to our friend Karen back in Australia, has traced both our families back to around 1500! Amongst things discovered are an ancestor’s headstone dated 1666, which is amongst the oldest in Britain, a boot maker that stole a pair of boots resulting in his passage to Australia being one of my ancestors and Jen having a couple of convicts that were transported to the colonies on the second and third fleets!
So with Christmas looming, we received a lovely invitation to join our second family in Kent for the traditional British Christmas Dinner so with Digby packed into the Volvo (included with looking after the house!) we headed for Broadstairs and our first Christmas outside of Aus! After a couple of nights spent in serious pursuit of over eating and drinking and now feeling quite at home here in England, we said our goodbyes and headed back to Littlehampton.
I can’t resist making an observation at this point….
Back when we first entered the UK, we stayed in a small RV park in Ramsgate, which is around 200km east of us here in Littlehampton. I asked the RV park owner if he could recommend any parks near Brighton en route to Littlehampton and he replied that he’d never been to Brighton! Moving on, Jen mentioned to a fellow dog walker that we were heading “up the road” to Broadstairs for a few days over Christmas and was met with the comment – “I love you Aussie’s, a 100miles and you think nothing of it!” I could go on and on but I’ll finish this little observation with the latest comment. Whilst once again trotting Digby along the seafront, Jen spoke to a regular dog walker and mentioned our forward plans for Cornwall, the Lakes District and Scotland – the gentleman’s response was to confess that in his 65 years he’s never been to any of them!
So it seems we Aussie’s do think of distance in a very different way to many other peoples of the world, however I’ve also met English with extensive travel resumes and very well used passports. It’s just interesting meeting people who have lived somewhere their whole life and never been further afield than 100kms
Life in this quiet little hamlet is not always what it seems and we have had some memorable moments whilst living here. Inevitably, when you sit still long enough, you begin to notice all the little facets of life that generally go unnoticed when you are always on the move!
To date we’ve had 3 helicopters land on the park opposite the guesthouse, each with it’s own reason for doing so, but one story is a stand out so here it goes!
The scene – about 9:30pm and with few glasses of red consumed, we hear the sound of a nearby helicopter! A look out of the window and we see it landing across the road! Now earlier that evening, we’d noticed a few boys in blue and an ambulance make their way past but hadn’t thought a lot about it since.
With a helicopter in the mix, the bait was too strong, so grabbing Digby we wandered out into the cold blackness and strolled west a couple of streets to where emergency services lights were glinting!
After asking some other interested locals, we weren’t really left much the wiser and had to wait until the next morning to catch up on the gossip! So, not too far from us (in our 4 star guesthouse overlooking the sea) there is a half way house for ex-cons as it turns out! Seems the English have a similar ideology to Australian’s, which is, if you mix people up from all walks of life they will inevitably get on!!!! Bit of sarcasm there in case you missed it!
Anyway during his stint in the local half way house, one of the newly re-entering society residents decided life was easier back inside and devised a crafty scheme to achieve his desired goal!
He set fire to his top floor apartment, climbed out onto the roof and started throwing roof tiles at locals and the subsequently arriving fire and emergency services!
Anyway he eventually retreated to street level; well actually he fell through the burning roof and was chauffeured to his new accommodation by heavily armed riot police. Oh, he did also receive a band-aid for a cut!
Result – 11 cars damaged, one person injured with a minor graze to his stomach after being hit with a flying roof tile and one burnt apartment.
So a very expensive helicopter along with a few ambulances, 2 large riot police vans, a few pursuit cars and several fire trucks! Not sure if that’s overkill for one tile wielding bandit but I guess it’s lucky he fell through the roof before the SAS were activated.
After all of that excitement, we had our own little introduction to life in suburban England.
The following morning we were greeted by the first malicious damage to our Patrol so far! We had our vehicle parked on the street within view of our accommodation, as does nearly everyone else in Britain. The old saying – “a rolling stone gathers no moss.” Once you park up for a while you are noticed.
So with a nice 8mm bullet hole through the now shattered passenger’s window we decided it was time to move the Patrol into secure parking where it still is!
The window remained in place thanks to the window tinting and fortunately no one had broken into the cab. Jen called the local Plod and they suggested it was most likely a BB gun or air rifle received as a Christmas present – you’re able to have .19 caliber air rifles here unlicensed!
The Police were rather embarrassed when we enlightened them to the fact that we’d just traversed 1000km along the Afghanistan border along with travels through nearly every other of the Stan countries and hadn’t been the recipients of anything other than waves thrown at us! (left out the rifle shots in the Wakhan valley as I didn’t want to take the edge off my story!)
Luckily a replacement window was found at a wrecker so £50 and a couple of hours and all was back as it should be!
Sadly we missed the Russian heavy bombers flying down the English Channel!!!
I don’t wish to put a grey shadow over our stay here. These sort of random incidents can occur anywhere! We’ve met so many lovely people here who could not have made us feel more welcome and we have had an outstanding time. It’s easy to settle in and I love the English sense of humor. Maybe all of those generations of my family that had their roots here have somehow crossed over at a cellular level!
And we found the StarGate….
The Patrol has just received a full service and a thorough clean of the camper so we are ready to hit the road again soon and start filling our posts with fresh stories.
We aren’t really sure how this year will pan out! At this stage it’s a lap of the UK and Scotland before heading back to Holland and then Norway. After that, we’ll head towards Turkey and around the Mediterranean before crossing to Morocco. It will then be back to the UK for Christmas.
Our original plans have changed quite a bit and we don’t feel we’ve quite quenched our desire to see Europe primarily due to the Schengen visa restrictions so intend on a little further investigation. We were going to cross to Egypt and head for Cape Town at some stage this year, however there are some difficulties in the current environment with regard to getting the Patrol to Egypt.
There are quite a few vehicles still making the crossing and it is possible but shipping appears a little hit and miss at the moment. One of the biggest factors, however, in our change of plans is that if we cross to Africa we have around 10 to 15000 km to Cape Town and the end of our journey and we aren’t quite ready to consider an end date at the moment.
So we hope to finish this year back here in the UK and then head for Canada, maybe Alaska and then make the big run to Ushuaia in South America. Well that‘s the rough new plan and should the budget hold out that little bit longer we may still be able to offload in South Africa on our way back to the best country I’ve visited so far – Australia.
It’s a rough guide and as usual it comes with a caveat – plans are very fluid!
I will, however, miss English TV:
To Fat To Work – Benefits
17 Kids – Benefits
Cant Work, Won’t Work – Benefits
Can’t Pay – We’ll take it away
The list goes on! hahaha…
On that note, we are excited, energized and can’t wait to get back into it, all the best to you all and thanks to the wonderful people of Littlehampton for making us feel part of their community!!
Cheers for now