July 2022, South Yorkshire Technology Corridor. Heatwave. Ending the school year on 40° with wildfires on the edge of the village. One of my ex-students left homeless after the blaze.
Packing the van was an extreme sport. Although ventilation in Big Red is way more advanced than in the T6, internal temperature was close on 50° at times, so much so that the oven fan kicked in. Shades were deployed:
I even went so far as to dig out the 12v travelling fans in an attempt to make the roasting air move about a bit. Quality improvisation:
We added this monstrosity to legally leave these shores
Knowing that payload was potentially an issue in the Solaris with less than 400kg to play with we had been investigating getting it up-rated.
Having had a great recommendation from James at Maple we set the ball rolling using Van Weight Engineering (find them on Facebook ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️) but with the timescale, and knowing we would need to carry a shedload of documentation in the age of Brexit we had to defer part of the process, but the trip to the weighbridge was enlightening nonetheless.
Fully laden except for the fridge, with full water, 3/4 tank of fuel and all 4 passengers we were just within tolerance of the 3500kg limit. No brainer that by taking some photos, filling in some forms and paying 180 quid we could have almost another ton.
However, 4 weeks dragged until take off. 4 months since collection, rodent issues notwithstanding mileage was measly:
Being a recent convert to Google travel, I had geeked out over details of the journeys about to take place. Also having taken inspiration from my latest Instagram van life gurus I had taken the view that every stop is an opportunity to make yourself at home I planned not just where to end up but where to rest en route, how long it would take, all the details. The British leg still involved motorway services mind, we were on a deadline!
The other thorny question to resolve before departure was the on-board wifi scenario. I tried once and failed, so the Saturday before leaving we decamped to the Parish Oven and tried again. Maybe it was the addition of gin, but we cracked it.
The galling thing, (Brexit again) is the whole roaming palaver. Pay for 15GB a month, entitled to use 12 abroad 😤 with 2 small people streaming YouTube constantly it was a constant balancing act of how much to use. Luckily the grown ups phones also were allowed to use 12GB so keeping in touch, using sat nav and streaming music was still possible. But, the ferry was waiting!
Side note: Holiday manicures:
Ferry was a double postponement from 2020, price steadily upped by Brittany Ferries, disguised with a “here have a 3 course dinner and brekkie on us!” New boat Galicia and prompt dockside manoeuvres
Leaving Portsmouth in the evening sunshine with a child’s portion of lager beer was most satisfactory. Some illustrations:
Advice on the poop deck
All was peachy. We were on us way, hence smiles
We looked out over the manche, straining to see if there would be a chop on
The first night aboard was smooth and we found comfy spacious seating in an area we liked to call Hedge TV, due to the visual delights on offer:
First night was long. Awful. No sleep. Disturbed. Morning brought a top sunrise tho.
By breakfast time the swell was building and me and H had to adjourn to the upper deck for some much needed air and space, forgoing the all inclusive continental spread.
KB, sterling boy scout that he is, repurposed a sac de mal de mer into a doggy bag and brought us rolls, breton butter and strawberry jam, which an hour later were devoured in double quick time.
Queasy morning views:
As the day progressed the swell settled and we made friends with some aquatic beasts
The second night aboard was smoother, and by the time we arrived en España no shoes had been lost overboard
We docked at 8.00 MMT in Bilbao but there was a long day ahead to get to Galicia.
Felt so good to be abroad again, driving the North Coast was a treat. But this post has been long enough and my glass is empty. Come back for the next one!