“The Lady in a Van” 6 months on

 

July 8th 2016, 6 months on and amazed at how the time has flown as I am sure it has for you all. A sign of maturing years so I am told!.

We have since April covered many miles or kilometres (I’m still not sure which one to work in and even less now we are non EU- but let’s not bring that one up!) We haven’t due to the very poor spring in Spain followed an absolute route that we thought we might have before we left home and have ‘ducked and dived’ a bit following the weather if we have had too.  Rain in a motorhome on a continual basis is painful, not uncomfortable at all but just constricting and neither of us are just sit around people, we like to get out and about, do some exercise etc so the continual rain in May tested us quite a bit. During that time we were mainly based on campsites as we needed electricity and amenities to keep us occupied and everything charged up to enable to do some different things to the norm tourist stuff.  Again over the last 3 months we have probably majored more on camp sites than not, but have also stayed on some wonderful Aires as well– Alberca, Medinicela to name but two.  How do we decide, still not really sure to be honest having just attempted to do some further planning – not sure if it’s location, location, location or park, park, park. Generally we decide on the area and then see what parking/overnighting options there are starting mainly with campsites and then Aires and work from that. Generally there will be one option and then it’s a case of can we work/cycle/bus to the site in question. I have so say that over the last 3 months we have become better cyclists or at least go further now and use less electric- I still wobble terribly and nearly took out 4 tourists in one hit in Segovia when the electric kicked in without me realising it was on- but all ended well as they nimbly jumped out of the way.  As the weather is now warm campsites are a much better option than Aires as you can have the awning and chairs out, BBQ etc plus they generally have better shade options and more facilities like swimming pools. Some sites do amaze us though with their entrances and access areas and really can test your driving skills and we have had some interesting moments getting in and out of sites. As in previous 3 months on – I still leave this very much to David for all the reasons than mentioned then!

Driving our lovely Elddis Encore remains a delight, it’s an absolute easy drive –comfortable, easy and responsive.  Obviously based on that review I’m not up for the Top Gear vacancy, but I do love driving it and peoples reaction when they see me driving. I still go cold when we see signs for ‘ciudad’ historic’ but as of the last 3 months we seem to have got better in our advance planning of places, although I did have to do a 3 point turn in a very small space the other day. Staying calm like with most things is the way forward and you really do have to manage that and remember you are way bigger than most other vehicles, let them do the work if necessary. Plus of course never entirely trust the Satnav, useful they are but absolutely correct not. Use all aspects for navigation, maps, road signs, satnav and above all else common sense-you can’t beat the last one. Mechanically, there have been no issues which you might expect from a new van but as we all know that’s not always the case with new vehicles. Body wise again thankfully we had had no incidents or does there appear to be any scratches and certainly at this moment no dents and that is luck more than judgement when you see the state of most Spanish cars where a dent is the norm on every corner (sorry Spain!)

Thankfully again security has not been an issue for us and as I am writing this I am alone on an Aire in the city of Valladolid with all the windows and the door open at 10pm. We are always cautious and summer is an issue as you have to have the doors and windows open, which on a camp site isn’t really a problem, There does seem to be a ‘code of conduct’ among campers and motorhomers, but that said why ever put temptation in peoples way. Don’t leave valuables out or in sight if you’re not around.  We haven’t been gassed nor have we had any motorway scams, have we just been lucky maybe but again we haven’t actually heard any other fellow travellers say any different. We never leave the side or roof windows open when we away from the van for any length of time and yes it can make for a very hot van when we return, but better that than our valuables missing or worse NiKi gone. We did the other day have an issue which you might have read on our blog when we threw the keys in a rubbish bin. It could have been a big problem but thankfully we did find them just in the nick of time. We do have a spare set but of course they are in the van, we have thought about trying to hide the spare on the outside but that’s just not practical. A lot of motorhomes do have a keypad style look on the cabin door and that does seem to be a good option plus another level of security. The MagLite torch remains by my side of the bed as our internal security option and a whack with that over the head should knock some sense out of any intruders, but again thankfully the most use it has had is when it falls on my foot when I make up the bed.

Our living space is much the same as 3 months ago, we haven’t reorganised anything. We have looked a couple of times at the kitchen and food storage but again decided the way we have it works for us. The cooker, grill and microwave are still used as storage and it takes moments just to lift the stuff out when we need to use any of the items.  The storage under the bed that lifts up in this Elddis Encore 254 model is brilliant but the downside is that we tend to ‘throw’ anything and everything under there. This unfortunately means we can’t then find stuff and plus the weight is building up at the back which you don’t want as the back is heavy enough as it is. Our storage space is gradually disappearing with our obsession with Decathlon, Corte Ingles and Chinese hypermarkets- there always seems to be something in them that we must have. However we were fortunate to be able of offload some stuff back to the UK when friends came over recently and that helped balance out the new purchases and also the van as we went through a lot of our belongings and organised them so that more goodies went under the living area chairs thus giving the van better balance. We have now made a ‘pact’ that we need nothing more other than day to day food, drink etc.

Wear and tear wise inside there have been a couple of nuts and bolts perhaps that have come off but have either been re-fixed or haven’t been problematical. The fly screen blinds which are brilliant are taking a little bit of a bashing – from stupid flies who literally just bang into them or us chasing and walloping the flies and either missing or getting them on the blinds, no damage just the concertina part needs realigning and that can be done in a moment of real boredom went fly season is over. Otherwise I can honestly say that the inside still looks as good as when we drove it out of the factory 6 months ago.

Logistic wise as you would imagine we have now more or less got this off pat, toilet waste still not a pleasant job but just one of those jobs that has to be done. We are amazed no matter what we do just by the odour from grey waste and would welcome any ideas on how to manage this. We make sure we empty waste and fill up with fresh water whenever we leave anywhere even if going to another site as in our experience it’s just good practice. We have found the Safefill refillable gas cylinders to be a much cheaper and easier option than than trying to get Spanish cylinders and have had no problem in Spain getting them refilled. As the weather has hotter up we have learnt to park in the shade now as much as possible and keep the fridge away from the sun. We are also better at levelling the van, but again we are not obsessive about it like some other dare I say nationalities.

Budget wise, well we are more or less on target. Our budget being the monies we get from the rental of our house. We have travelled a few more miles as of late so diesel has been a hefty cost and of course we do eat out more than most so again we could and can cut back when we have to. For us this is a journey and experience, it’s not our way of life forever and we will return to work so therefore it’s easier for us to bend the spending a bit with savings, but of course those savings also have to assist us when we do return and begin the job search, so we do have to be mindful to a degree. Country wise again personal choice, but we are both still glad that we opted for a one country experience and we will eventually master a few more sentences!

Therefore, summary from this Lady in a Van after 6 months on the road in Spain in NiKi our Elddis Encore 254 loving it!!. Loving life on the road, loving the van and all it offers and loving Spain.

Why not join us and take a motorhome holiday- you won’t regret it

 

 

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