Monday, 27 June 2011

Back to Life – Back to Reality

True to form for our general rate of travel it took a week for us to get from Dover to Leicester. That’s the trouble with being away for 346 nights – getting back involves a great deal of socialising, which didn’t stop once we reached Leicester on the evening of Tuesday 26th April.

At first it felt very odd to be back in our home. We had read so many horror stories about tenants leaving with everything, including not only the kitchen sink, but the whole damn kitchen, that we were dreading what we might find, but the house was in very good condition after almost a year of being rented out. Our tenant had left some strange things behind, including a single Karen Millen stiletto in scarlet satin. We’re sure it has a story to tell!

The garden was in need of a considerable amount of work, unless a comfrey and perennial geranium lawn suddenly proves a popular feature. It was lovely to have a bath and our shower is fantastic, so in many ways the change from a smallish van to a largish Victorian house was surprisingly easy.

However, we have thought for a few years that the house is too large for us, with at least three rooms we barely ever enter, and a garden which has become a chore to manage. Oh, how we rattled about about the place after the van! So, once the round of dinners with family and friends was over we looked around, took stock and decided that without jobs in the area we had few ties in Leicester, and within a week of being home we promptly put the house on the market. I think it was looking at all our packed boxes in the study and the shed that did it for us - spend ages unpacking, or leave it all and move? It was a no brainer!

That was two months ago. We have accepted an offer on our house at the asking price, but a couple of trips to view properties between Cambridge and Bishop’s Stortford has brought it home to us that we will be downsizing considerably in our move down south. Believe it or not, even with this recession, property seems to be shifting fairly quickly and anything we have liked has been snapped up before we can get a look in, or is well out of our price range. Still, we always have the van!

Friday, 17 June 2011

The big trip 2010-2011 - some facts and figures

We know that some people - us included* - like lists and numbers, so here are some for our big journey from 9th May 2010 to 20th April 2011.
*Actually, make that just Rob, but I'm impressed with all this! - Lesley

The far corners

Our furthest North          N 70° 13’ 39”, at Nyvoll (Norway) on 10/8/2010
Our furthest South          N 36° 24’ 07”, at Cape Ténaro (Greece) on 10/1/2011
Our furthest East            E 29° 59’ 13”, at the Finnish-Russian border (Finnish side),
                                    on the Kajaani-Kostomuksha road on 19/8/2010
Our furthest West           E 01° 36’ 32”  near Berck (France) on 20/4/2011

Counting the days (and stays)

Number of nights away (Calais to Calais)     346
Number of nights sleeping in van                332
Number of places we stayed                      229
Number of places we stayed in van             227

Number of places we stayed
-      1 night                  171
-      3 or more nights       24       
-      5 or more nights        5         

Longest stay in one place                    17 days at Yíthio (Gytheio/Gytheion) in
                                                           Greece, over Christmas and New Year

Average length of stay                        1.5 days

Number of nights wild camping*                144, or 42%
Countries with most % wild camping*        (1)   Switzerland – 71% or 5 days out of 7
                                                          (2)   Norway       - 64%, or 25 days out of 39
                                                          (3)   Greece        - 59%, or 37 days out of 63
*Wild camping defined as : in a place not designated for overnighting, and without obtaining specific permission.

Number of nights on proper campsites         99

Number of free overnight stops*               188, or 54%
*Not always the same as wild camping – some designated sites are free, in other places we paid to park on an ordinary street or carpark and slept ‘unofficially’ inside.

Counting the countries

Number of countries we visited           21      (multiple visits to a country not counted)

Countries we stayed longest              Greece         63 nights
                                                    Italy            60 nights
                                                    Norway        39 nights

Countries we stayed least time           San Marino    1 night
                                                    Netherlands   3 nights
                                                    Luxemburg     4 nights

Distances and diesel

Distance Calais to Calais                    16329 miles or 26279 kilometres

Furthest driven in a day                     251 miles or 404 km, 29/5/10, from Barr in
                                                          Alsace to Vincelottes near Auxerre, France  

Number of days over 100 miles           44
Number of days under 30 miles           35    (not counting days when we didn’t drive)
Average distance per day                  66    (not counting days when we didn’t drive)
Number of days we didn’t drive at all   99

Amount of diesel used, Calais to Calais   approximately 2560 litres or 563 gallons
Average miles per gallon of diesel          29 ; up to 30 on long, fast(ish) drive ; rather less on the windy little hill roads that we so like

Money and costs

Money spent while away
total*                                      £15750, or about £45.52 per day
excluding exceptional items**      £14000 (approx) or about £40.46 per day

*total : this includes major repairs (van, bike) and replacements (camera), and renewal of insurance and road tax.

**excluding exceptional items, ie. mainly those listed above. This gives a better idea of day-to-day living costs.

Our cheapest countries – we often spent under £220 per week
from Estonia down to Bulgaria     – low prices generally
Southern Greece                      – lowish prices, but mainly as we stayed put
and didn’t use much diesel

Our most expensive countries – sometimes £330 a week or more
Norway, Sweden and Switzerland – so no surprises there.

Cost of overnight stops :

Average of all paid-for nights    £10.65
Most expensive night              £36.67, renting a holiday cabin in Finland when we had family out to visit us
Most expensive night camping   £27.69, on a campsite at Vitznau in Switzerland

Most expensive countries for (paid) accommodation :
                                                          Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway

Cheapest countries for (paid) accommodation :
                                                          Romania, Germany, Bulgaria, Denmark