It’s been a busy couple of weeks since we left St Valery sur Somme. We caught the Eurotunnel and arrived back to a windy and rainy England with a brief stop overnight in Windsor before heading up to Derbyshire to a large village called Melbourne which is just near Donnington Park racecourse.
We booked the CL (Dovesite, £11 per night GPS n. 52.816825 w. 1.451407) on its proximity to the storage place where we were due to go and look at Hattie on the Monday morning… but what chance, as despite the heavy rain and it blowing a gale it is a stunning location and a great little site. The CL was a field at the top end of a small campsite and as the entrance to the CL field was a muddy slope I called the owner and asked if she would mind if we took one of the hard standing pitches on the campsite instead of churning up her beautiful field … to which she was of course happy to oblige!
After parking up we set off to stretch the legs and were quite surprised to find that Melbourne is quite a ‘well to do’ village with a few pubs, butchers, bakers, deli, a couple of restaurants and cafes and a Sainsbury’s local… pretty much everything you could want surrounded by hills, reservoirs and national trust property. All topped off by the campsite being about a mile outside Melbourne itself, surrounded by walks … pretty much perfect for us!
So, after a windy and sleepless night (due to apprehension regarding the new motorhome) we got up, I went for a morning run up into Calke abbey (I got a little lost) and then we set off to the storage place to size up the possible new motorhome…… Hattie
As much as we both love Mika and have enjoyed the last four and a half years with her, we both agreed that Hattie has the right configuration for us for our next chapter and hopefully the next five years or more therefore it was time to cut loose and move on. Apart from her tyres needing to be replaced she is in excellent condition for her seven years, so after a full check over by a very friendly independent motorhome chap and a little bit of negotiation we shook hands and did the deal.
It took another few days to move into Hattie as she needed new shoes before we moved her however, with Seven new shoes fitted (one was a spare), we spent Friday moving everything from Mika into Hattie, arriving back to the campsite shattered and glad that we were on hard standing and not the field! Hattie, as you can see from the photos is slightly larger than Mika, weighing in at 5.4 tonnes and 8.13m in length….just under 2 tonnes heavier and 1.2m longer than Mika but she is a beauty.
We were lucky enough to meet some great people at the storage place (of whom two of incidentally are living at the campsite where we are staying) and therefore we arranged for Mika to have a full valet to prep her for being sold and also for the outside of Hattie to be washed and waxed next time we were up to help provide a good layer of protection going forwards.
With the swapover done, we were blessed with amazing weather over bank holiday weekend, so while we cleaned and sorted things out we did also manage to enjoy a few gin and tonics outside as well as get some walks in. We also caught up with both my brother and family who were on there way up to Manchester on Saturday, as well as James and Jack who came over to visit us for lunch on Monday. The only downside that we found in the first couple of days is that the BBQ point for the gas has a different connector so we weren’t able to cook outside …..we did however manage to get some Bacon, Egg and Black Pudding butties in for lunch on Sunday…. lovely local produce!
Thinking that we were going to switch motorhomes, we had run the freezer down on the journey back from Spain. Therefore we have taken advantage of trying everything out in Hattie cooking up a storm over the last week or so – Chicken Cassoulet, Chilli Con Carne, Quiche …. a little burnt at the top of the pastry (my fault for talking on the phone too long), rolls, Fajitas (home made of course), Mushroom and Spinach Risotto, Kedgeree, Lasagne, Apricot Crumble, Lentil Chilli… the list goes on! Needless to say we can confirm that everything works really well.
The oven is hotter than the previous one so we just need to be careful with the temperature …. but it cooks well. The oven is also slightly narrower than the last one so cooking 8 rolls at a time was a little cosy the first time round and they came out like one large loaf. We have now found a new tray with holes in the bottom removing the need to turn them over for the last three minutes which appears to do an excellent bake!
We have both driven Hattie a couple of times and although she is very different to drive than Mika (Automatic vs Manual), she does drive well. We just need to get used to leaving a little more time for braking and acceleration, going slower round corners and holding on tight when passing a large truck as she is that much taller as well so you do notice the wind quite a bit.
After a fantastic weekend we left Melbourne last Tuesday to go back to the farm in Windsor to catch up with family. Keith met the new cows getting a good licking each time he went to clean out the waste but thankfully we didn’t sink into the field.
We took advantage of having the car and did a big shop and filled up some of our storage areas …. the wine potential is amazing! Now all we need to do is find a weigh bridge as it would be good to know how much we weigh laden before we have any additional work done.
We spent five nights at the farm without any electricity which pushed us to the limits on the current batteries, if we had been watching TV or spending more time in the motorhome we possibly would have only lasted four which does restrict us currently. We don’t have solar panels at the moment so are currently a little less self sufficient than we would like but have booked Hattie in to get Solar panels added (along with some other bits) in the middle of June… so we have a little while to get used to her and play around – but so far, ten nights in and we are very happy.
Yesterday however, was a very sad day as we said good bye to Mika who we hope will go to a lovely new home and that the new owners will enjoy spending time in her as much as we have but it gives us a fresh start to begin the next chapter of our lives with Hattie.