Travel at a Natural Pace; Enjoy the Journey

Mandale Liberté, near Shelford, Nottingham

The arrival of spring was timely as we started to prepare the motorhome for a new season of travelling. This year we will be spending much more time on the road. We already have plans for nearly ten weeks of travel over the  spring and early summer, family issues permitting: more than we did in the previous two years.

As we have mentioned before we tend to use stopovers that do not have electric hook-up but we have been overly reliant on battery power. We made the mistake of agreeing to an all-electric (mains and 12volt) compressor refrigerator. Unfortunately it drained even our big (210Ah) leisure battery in two or three days. Driving for 2-3 hours each day was not enough to replace the previous days usage so we had to find hook-up every few days. It meant we had to move even when we had found a nice location where we wanted to spend several days. The motorhome was determining our pace of travel and where we stayed; not at all what we wanted or in tune with our vision for The Winding Way. We have had to make changes.

Over the winter  2013-14 we considered solar panels but decided it was marginal whether they would meet our needs. Last year we struggled through another season with the electric fridge, but the worry about losing power to the fridge took the edge off our pleasure. This last winter we have had a three way (gas, 12v and mains) fridge installed. It was not cheap, but means that we should be completely independent for as long as we like. We estimate we should only need to refill the gas tank every 6-8 weeks. Our battery usage will be modest as all the lighting is LED, and apart from the water pump and occasionally the heater fan our 12volt usage should be modest. Initial usage suggests that we will only need to drive for around an hour every few days to top up the battery.

It does mean we have lost our cutlery drawer but the bigger fridge gives us more room to store the wonderful local produce which is the main reason we switched to travelling by motorhome. In the past we travelled by car and used hotels and pensions. We saw wonderful produce on French markets but could do nothing with it, apart from an occasional, cold, picnic lunch. With the motorhome we can buy and cook it ourselves. We have a full kitchen and have even used it as field kitchen at the last two Christmases to cook a large (5kg) joint of beef when we did not have room in the house oven. It works well.

We are getting smarter with our storage. Each time we go away for a trip we take less and less. We leave at home most of the just-in-case clothes and other things which has freed up space. Over the summer at least, we have also started to keep the bed made up as we tend to eat outside. We gain all the space under it for storage. Most importantly, it is where the wine goes on the journey home from France! Before our long summer trip we intend to make even more efficient use of space by making some custom storage racks especially for glasses and crockery, hopefully in the process reducing rattles.

The vehicle has been serviced for the first time. We will flush the water tanks (fresh and waste) and prepare the toilet. The water system will be sterilised by using the 'van as runaround for a day or two with water and Milton sterilising fluid in the freshwater tank. This will then be  pumped through to the waste tank to clean the system before filling up with fresh water for our first trip.

The final job will be fill up with diesel and gas; we can do both at the same time as we have a fixed under chassis tank for LPG. We use Autogas from a petrol station at a fraction of the cost of filled gas bottles, confirming the gas powered refrigerator as the sensible option.

So readers can look forward to regular updates on travelling The Winding Way. We will share any lessons we learn, places, food and people we find and our thoughts on slow travel and slow food. We will be living  a rich life, a value added life even (more on that another time).
Mandale Liberté, near Shelford, Nottingham


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Paul (not verified) on 27 September, 2016 - 08:12

Hi Martin,
Was nice chatting with you and your sweet wife while waiting for the ferry in Dunkirk.
Just wanted to say "hi" and that I enjoy your blog. Thanks for all the good tips on mobile living, it brings to mind the 2-3 years I was living in a caravan before going to Asia - I loved it!
Cheers, Paul

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Martin P Wilson on 15 October, 2016 - 18:02

Hi Paul


It was good to meet you too. It was a great way to while away the wait for the ferry.


Which country are you in this week? :)



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