Goodbye to Lotte

We are no longer caravan owners. The decision to sell Lotte, once taken, felt instantly right and was swiftly acted on. One of the principal reasons behind our Spring sojourn in Belgium was to empty the caravan of all our carefully chosen and stored goods and chattels, prepare her for sale, and take her back to the UK. She’d spent quite a cosy winter under a roof in the ‘alley’ at the batiment, snug in her own cover, (a very good move, as it turned out, as this was not only protecting her from the cold, the dust and the unusual April heat, but also from the emanations from a couple of swallow nests directly overhead). So we removed and dusted the cover, cleared the way out of the alley, and on Monday morning we hitched her up (slight delay when the vet arrived for a consultation with Reynols) and towed her to Campirama in Kortrijk where she underwent her annual damp test (10 mins, €60). We left her there overnight – we were, rightly as it turned out, uneasy about the logistics of doing the whole hitch up-say goodbyes-drive away-damp test-channel crossing thing in one day) and returned on Tuesday to fetch her, drive to Calais, manoeuvre on and off the Eurotunnel train, and on to a motorway service station near Folkestone where we had a rendez-vous with a dealer with whom we exchanged her for money in the bank.

We have no regrets whatsoever. We took no farewell pictures and didn’t look back. We drove away up the motorway to London with a huge sigh of relief and a palpable sense of freedom of movement in so many ways:

  • physical – we are not constricted to such a tiny living space
  • mechanical – so much easier to move a car when it’s not towing a van
  • geographical – having to find suitable campsites in appropriate locations
  • social – not having to have yet another banal conversation with another (male, small, portly, dog-walking) caravanner about the size of our living area, quality of our hitch lock, effectiveness of our motor mover….
  • psychological – I felt a sharp pain in my left index finger that was entirely psychosomatic every time I heard the caravan door close, and for most of the last day we towed her north and across the Channel
  • financial – we’ve got a holiday fund we can spend how and where we choose 🙂

awning.jpg If being caravan owners for less than a year is the worst mistake we ever make then it’s not been too drastic. It was all a bit of an achievement, some of it was even quite fun, and we learned a great many useful lessons along the way.

Towing a caravan makes you a much more careful driver, more aware of distances and gaps, used to reversing round corners using only wing-mirrors, more conscious of the likely behaviour of other road users, and more forgiving of other towers (unless they are themselves behaving irresponsibly, snaking about in the fast lane, jack-knifing round bends…)

lotte.JPG Living in a small space makes you much more aware of what you need. We are now absolutely resolute that our new (fixed) abode will only include objects for which we have a specific need. This includes personal preference and things we feel we would not want to live without, but excludes stuff that we might otherwise hang on to for the following reasons:

  • rainy day – we do not need a cupboard full of out-of-date chocolates, biscuits, jams, honeys, nuts and other sundry delights that we have put out of sight because they are too ‘special’ to be consumed
  • baggage – we do not want to reserve a lot of space in our flat for things we do not use but the removal of which might upset other people, or awaken latent feelings of guilt in us
  • anticipating need – we are not going to buy anything significant (an awning for example) without being absolutely sure that we will make use of it for a particular purpose/set of circumstances
  • good intentions – we will not hold on to things (hobby boxes, games, books, musical instruments…) on the pretext that we might get round to doing something about it some day, if we are fairly certain in our heart of honest hearts that with the best will in the world we are highly unlikely to act on these intentions.

After a couple of days in London (one was mainly shopping, the other was actually for paid work) we are now back in Glasgow. Mum and Rebecca have looked after Bob and Aggie very well indeed in our absence, but we like to think they were still pleased to see us back (oh how we anthropomorphise our pets). Reynols, by the way, had a second operation on his jaw, has lost hearing in one ear, but sees fine, hears fine, eats and drinks fine and by all accounts (thanks to Wilf and Gelise for regular text bulletins) seems to be getting stronger every day. Chapeau to the vet in Lessines and the post-operative care team at the batiment.

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