Its amazing how much I have learned about motorhomes in the past twenty five weeks or so. From never having even glanced at one that passed me on the road to excitedly awaiting the delivery of Thebus has been a steep learning curve
Luckily for me I passed my test before 1997 which apparently gives me grandfather rights (not sure why grandmother's don't get a look in, but as I am neither I am not going to quibble) This means that I am allowed to drive a vehicle of up to 7.5 tons fully laden weight plus quite a few kilos extra for anything on tow. Had I passed my test after the law was changed in 1997 I would only be able to drive up to 3.5 tons on my normal driving licence and to drive anything heavier would mean taking a further driving test.
When my own Grandmother applied for her licence back in the early part of last century there was no such thing as a driving test, you just went in a paid for a driving licence, which she did. My Grandfather only ever let her drive once, then said - Never again! But after he died some sixty years later she still had her licence and just went out and bought herself an automatic mini.
The first time she took it out of the garage she started by running forwards into the freezer, then going backwards she demolished first one of the brick gate pillars, then the other and finally ended up in the middle of the front lawn and a neighbour had come and put it back in the garage for her. When I called round a while later and asked what had happened to the gate pillars she cheerfully said “Oh the frost must have got into them so I had them taken down”
Having got the brand new car repaired and back on the road she decided lessons might be a good idea, and this will give you some idea of her tenacity. The day her first lesson was booked it snowed. Now all normal septuagenarians confronted with snow on the day of their very first driving lesson would have probably cried off – not a bit of it – not my Gran. Apparently when she and the (probably terrified) driving instructor had finally made it up the hill outside Grandma's house the instructor got her to get out and look back at the tyre tracks made in the snow as they had snaked their way up the slope with Grandma making full use of the entire breath of the road, and suggested she tried to steer a straighter line in future and also whenever possible keep to the left hand side of the road. I suppose going out on a snowy day was good in a way as there were so few other brave souls out and about on the road that might have been coming in the opposite direction.
But she didn't give in and within a few months was driving me up the M5 in the fog at nearly 80 mph, when I suggested she should slow down a bit and that it was always best to keep your eye on the speedometer and switch the wipers on in the fog, she cheerfully said. “Oh I can't look down once I have started – if I want to do anything like that I have to pull over.”
I hope there is a bit of her daredevil spirit in me also, though perhaps tempered by today's obsession with Elf'n'Safely.
Anyway back to the present. Thebus was built in America with a total road weight of 8.2 tons, though on being imported he was downgraded on paper to comply with the EU regulations and his paperwork now allows him up to 7.5 tons and with my grandfather / grandmother driving rights that gives me about 750 kilos spare from his unladen weight. But of course out of that comes a 60 kilo plus Great Dane, the weight of the scooter and its hydraulic platform plus any little bits and pieces I want to add on, which at the end of the day basically leaves not a lot to play with.
I have decided to weigh everything before I put it onboard so I don't overload, and also I have been carefully decanting anything which comes in a glass container into some kind of plastic substitute. It will be interesting to learn how to live on the road. I presume everything will need to be fastened down in some sort of way, but I will let you know about that in the future.
I have sent off for a very light kettle to go on the gas, and am considering whether to use my own heavy based cooking pans or get some of the lightweight non stick type.
How much will I want to cook anyway? Mum, who had been living with me for nearly twenty years liked a proper cooked breakfast, something for lunch like soup made from my home-grown vegetables and home-made bread, and another proper cooked meal in the evening. When she first moved in she took on her fair share of this mammoth food production task, and she made all our own bread as well as cakes, jams and pickles, whilst I milked the cow; made the butter; grew the vegetables and fruit; and kept the various animals – black welsh mountain sheep, poultry of every description, a Jersey house cow and sucklers, and a couple of weaner pigs every other year for pork and home made bacon ham and sausages. Did I mention I ran my own antiques business, and single-handedly........... Looking back I really don't see how I managed it all.
But a little less access to all that good and very tasty food might well have a beneficial effect on my waistline and also be one more step along the path of travelling light......