Upgrade Mark 2

So Molly started out life as a commercial vehicle. @VanscapeLtd found her for us, stripped the insides, and built a basic fit-out. This was done from afar and constituted her first upgrade. We chose Vanscape mainly because their fit-out has a full sized double bed option which could potentially be a game changer for me. Believe me, this is a rare thing in the camping world, and they did an amazing job. I elected to have some of the doors not fitted, as my bed will be an almost permanent set up and I won’t be able to open them with the bedding on.

We collected her on Wednesday, then on Friday drove to good friend Nigel’s for a few days of R&R and upgrade round two.

I would have preferred no window here behind the driver side, as it’s not really needed and the alternative for me would have been a kitchen wall. But I didn’t have a choice, this was the right van to get, and it came with a window here. So, as soon as we got to Nigel’s, I locked it shut, put up its thermal blinds, and asked Nigel for his thoughts on a backing board.

Low and behold, he produced a gorgeous piece of blonde plywood from the corner of his amazing garage, and over a good many hours of very careful work, we (mostly Nigel actually) produced this:

I’d arrived prepared with some basic fittings from IKEA, and the kitchen really started to take shape on day two, despite the rather stressful night in between!

Nigel’s such a patient man! But also a truth speaker like myself, so he very kindly worked with me and my ideas but said NO when they got out of hand somewhat, …and lovingly suggested alternatives which produced these gorgeous copper “towel racks” on the high cupboards:

I’ve still got a long way to go to finish Molly’s fit out, but in the meantime, I’m very happy with the progress so far!

There’s a fine line between the kitchen on the left and my “Office”/bed on the right, but I’m trying to keep them a little bit distinctive. More photos to come as we tweak again…

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 17.04.59

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve offered to support and keep asking where and how! I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

Main email group:
Team Tortoise:
Team Hare:
The Editing Team:

Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

YouTube |Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith

STOP! THIEF!!

That’s not quite what I thought I’d shout if I caught someone stealing, especially 6 inches from my toes, on the other side of the glass, but I like to think I’d scream something! But nope, at 1am when I awoke to a couple of cartoon type cat burglars trying to steal Hitch from the back of Molly, I just angrily bashed my knuckles on the window!!

Thankfully, both criminals, dressed completely in black (were those beanies or balaclavas?), got such a fright they ran! I watched them run all the way down the road and around the bend, as fast as their legs could carry them!!

I took this photo only about 8hrs before the incident, just as the sun was setting, as the men did their thing and admired both Hitch and his perch (super strong bike rack that cost a bomb from Thule; “Look how clever this bit is”, “check this fancy doo-dad”, “ooo I love that feature…” and so on…

I wasn’t entirely convinced. It looked too simple to me. I worried over the last few days that someone would take a liking to Hitch and either steal him or damage him trying to.

He’s no ordinary bike you see, he’s the result of years of love and dreams and plans and experiments. He’s very, very special to him, and while I roll my eyes, I also know the importance of this relationship.

He’s not happy I’ve named his bike, and I didn’t mean to, but once we picked up Molly, named her, and the bike was firmly attached to the back, that was it! Every view of or from the back window has Hitch in it:

savingpng-28

He’s hitched a ride on each of the seven international or cross-continental flights we’ve taken over the last 10 weeks. He’s a pain in the butt like you can’t believe! The bag is huge, fragile, uses up a good chunk (if not all) his baggage weight allowance and the helmet, shoes etc eat into much of mine. We’re one of those rare couples where the wife gets the leftover baggage space and the husband uses up most of it.

I rarely see my own bags loaded on or off a plane but so often we see the bike bag because it has to be loaded separately.

Here are Hitch and his bike bag from the plane both in Rome and London in the past couple of weeks.

So many times the poor wheelchair pusher sits & waits with me as he frantically searches (in a panic usually) for this monster of a bag when everything else is unloaded and it’s nowhere to be seen.

When someone hitches a ride… well, it’s such a pain. So Molly and Hitch are now the team, our wheels for the coming 6-week journey from Devon to Malta through Spain, France and Italy, and now we nearly lost Hitch because he brags, he thinks he’s special and stands out just a little bit.

I haven’t even taken a proper photo of Hitch on the back of Molly yet. Last night was night 4 in the UK and therefore Molly, and night two at our dear friend’s home. The guys had don’t all the fancy checks of the new Thule bike rack that was supposed to be super safe. This is the top part of the bike rack which has a lock and huge grip and nothing can be broken. It’s the secure part. It bolts to the middle of the frame of the bike.

savingpng-29

Then just to keep it from falling off, each wheel sits on the railing across the bottom of the rack and is held in place with a simple yet strong rubber tie. At the bottom of this picture, you can see the buckle. It has no lock.

At about 1am I awoke with a fright at a metal on metal sound not unlike bolt cutters cutting through bike spokes or a lock. Before I was awake I flew to the foot of the bed and pulled back the blinds. Hitch was there as always and there was no one to be seen. But I had a really bad feeling and my heart was racing. I felt hot too, so I stood on the bed and opened the side window in the raised roof. He lay sleeping beside me and didn’t even flinch as I bothered and moved about.

I lay down and eventually I must have drifted off to sleep because the next thing I knew, the exact same thing happened; I flew out of bed to the bottom of the bed and pulled back the blinds, convinced someone was stealing Hitch.

But this time I saw two men, completely dressed in black, pulling and cutting away at the bike. Stupidly, I didn’t say a word, I just panicked and bashed on the window. Thankfully, that they ran, and the way the road unwinds down the hill, allowed me to see them all the way to the bottom and far away. I grabbed the sleeping body beside and shouted “They’re trying to steal your bike!!

I had visions of all kinds of damage, and in the drunken stupor of panic at being awoken from the dead, he fumbled for clothes and shoes and keys and whatnot and raced outside. We were seconds away from losing Hitch. The unbreakable Thule lock was off completely, and of the two straps at the bottom, one was completely hacked off, and the other was about halfway there.

The irony of it all is, once they’d beaten the “bulletproof” top bit, all they had to do was open the buckles (yellow arrow) at the bottom of each wheel in 2 seconds, and the bike would’ve been theirs. But stupidly, and ever so thankfully, they’d spent anywhere up to twenty minutes hacking through the straps (green) instead, and it was this snipping and twisting and pulling which alerted me to their presence!

 

He gathered up the bits and put Hitch safely in the garage, but our hearts were pounding and we really were too afraid to simply roll over and go to sleep again! Are you kidding? So he locked up the garage while our fabulous guests slept, made us each a cup of tea, and we sat in bed with the blinds open, watching for the bad guys to return.

It seems silly in daylight but in the dark of night, our hearts racing, we couldn’t think straight.

“Are we in danger?”

“Are they coming back?”

In the end, we realised the Police were the best option for all kinds of reasons. This is a dead end street and we already watched a car drive slowly by… were they watching and waiting for us to go back to sleep? Police would show we are serious and that there’s a presence around. So we called 999, gave all our details to the operator, and two of Britain’s finest showed up thirty minutes later.

They were really supportive and kind. We’re pretty sure the bad guys won’t get caught. I was awake for about 3 hours, today I’m absolutely exhausted and my knuckles are bruised, swollen and very, very sore.

In the light of morning, I kid you not, all there was no evidence other than the broken bike rack, but the cat had left these perfect cat prints…. It’s been sunny all day and as we head for bed again, they’re still there….

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve offered to support and keep asking where and how! I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

Main email group:
Team Tortoise:
Team Hare:
The Editing Team:

Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

YouTube |Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith