Downsizing: motorhome to campervan?

When we were on our long trip this year we discussed the idea of getting a smaller van. Although the Winnie suits us in terms of being wonderfully comfortable and livable, it is also rather a big ‘thing’ to drive and needs to be stored away from home because of its size. At this stage it is still worth quite a bit of money, but every long trip adds to the lowering of value because of mileage. Our thoughts were that having a smaller vehicle might mean we could revert to just having one vehicle. Because we gave up having a second car a few years ago it really hurts to being paying licence and insurance on two vehicles.

I’ve been doing some research: buying a second hand van and having it converted by Dove Campers, buying a used one, and, of course, buying a brand new van. Jayco have just come out with a 19′ campervan that is more than $20,000 cheaper than their normal campervans, yet has almost all of the features we have on the Winnie. The only thing missing is the heater and an inverter. The inverter is important for running our Apple TV and charging devices. Wee have found that the good quality pure sine wave inverter of 150 watts which we installed in the Winnie works well and the downside of anything bigger is that they use more battery power. The vans are diesel and a heater could be installed if we find that we need it. My bottom line is to have a cassette toilet and going too small to have a little ensuite is not an option at this stage.

This campervan is so new that they don’t yet have one in the showroom. It is being shipped to WA, literally by ship as they find rail results in very dusty vehicles which are hard to clean out thoroughly, and may be available to view by Tuesday next week.

We picked up the Winnie from Marie and Geoff’s place yesterday and having it sitting on the verge at the front of our units. It is booked in with Ken Peachy for Thursday and we want to see if the house batteries can cope for a few days of not being charged up or plugged into shore power whilst running our large 12v fridge/freezer. Being a compressor fridge it isn’t on all of the time and it’s not a true test since we are not using 12v power for lights or charing devices, however it should give us a guide as to whether we need new house batteries or not. I’m amazed they are doing so well as we have flattened them a couple of times, accidentally, and they are not supposed to be able to recover. However, we have noticed that they will still charge up to the maximum, which is heartening.

Our Working Voices choir dilemna is still around, coming to hit us in the face on our return. We have enjoyed the choir very much over the years, but our present choir director spends too much time trying to teach us songs that we are probably not capable of learning and have little interest in, and not enough time on what we regard as our core repertoire. We are not good enough to be singing at concerts, but rousing songs at rallys and events to do with the union movement go over well. Some of us went to her house warming on Sunday evening and it makes it too difficult to fire her. Nevertheless, paying her $200 per rehearsal and some of her costs when we go away for festivals when she doesn’t actually do what we ask of her is basically silly.

Attendance is low for a great part of the year and numbers are gradually dropping, with only one new member in the past couple of years. Whether it is because of the nature of rehearsals (too much note bashing, not enough fun) or because people are tired of the whole thing isn’t entirely clear, perhaps a combination of both. Stephen is working on looking at choir finances for the past year. The union movement have been a source of income this year which may partly offset what would be an huge funding deficit for the financial year.

Matthew has set as one of his goals to meet up with me for coffee once a month. I’m happy to do this, though it seems to set it as a goal without involving me seems quite odd. Whatever! We met yesterday with the woman who takes him out on Mondays and Fridays. She has two people in wheelchairs on these outings, which run from 9.00 to 4.00 p.m. The other person needs to be able to drive their own wheelchair and to some extendt manage their own food and drink as Matt needs full support. We went to Antz at the other end of Victoria Park (actually East Vic Park) and it worked out well as I walked there and they gave me a lift back. The staff at the cafe coped well and the space is large enough for two powered wheelchairs to not get in the way. Matt seemed happy enough, though a bit confused as to whether to have his support worker or myself help him with his drink and cake.

Stephen and I are having difficulty with our homecoming. Stephne says that he thinks our difficulties with sleeping have to do with grieving now that we are home. Although we like being home again, the adventure is over and even the activities we like and look forward to, such as having Matt home to tea and seeing our families don’t offset the downsides enough. Stephen is back into the WASO chorus and preparing for a couple of concerts before the end of the year. He was sleepy all day on Sunday and Monday, whilst not sleeping well at night. I’ve just slept through the night for only the second time since we’ve been home. Checking with Stephen I found that he also had a good nights sleep. Perhaps we’ved turned a corner.

We have an appointment for Mum at the Breast Clinic this afternoon. I will go to the nursing home and travel in the ambulance with her and Marie and Robyne will come by train. We hope that by spoiling her we can all help to ease her through the discomfort and inconvenience of the appointment. It wouldn’t be her choice to go.

It seems that those of us who still have parents living are seeing the same pattern of gradual loss of independence and health, with no compensating factors for them. We do have a friend who is slightly older than Mum who is lives fairly independently in a retirement village, but it is quite rare for someone of her age. Really, what is the point of outliving one’s enjoyment of life. My mother is still enough herself to know what her situation is. She doesn’t want treatment for her cancer and there is a health directive in place that she won’t have antibiotics in case of infection or be resusitated if she has a stroke or heart attack, but she has a very strong body with only gradual deterioration.

I suppose the only thing is that unless someday I am in her sitz im leben I won’t really know what it is like and whether I would want to still go on living. Comparing my life with my son’s, I always feel extremely lucky to have been as active and healthy for so long. I might still feel lucky if I only have to cope with the normal infirmities of being really old.

Matt and me




The weekend so far

On Saturday morning we went to an exhibition at the Art Gallery, basically botanical drawings, but also some related works. We went on a free tour and our guide had great enthusiasm for her subject and it was interesting. Many of the,paintings were beautiful and I also found a book of photographs of Western Australian wildflowers which had some of the flowers I have photographed, but much better than mine. We are thinking of going back again as it was hard to take everything in.

We felt tired after an hour and were glad to take a rest in the cafe.

In the evening Matt came to tea and we had a small celebration of my birthday, with a Coles chocolate mud cake and brand new candles. It was all about making it a nice evening for him (and us of course).

We had one candle of each colour on the cake

Cards and some gifts in the bag and flowers from the Pooleys
Thoughtful man

This morning we went to Gwelup for a walk with Eversley and friends around the lake with a visit to the cafe in the middle. A chance to catch up with people we know from Working Voices. Even if we see them at choir we don’t have much time for conversation.

Eversley has done a blog post with some of her thoughts from our time in England. It’s something I would like to do as well, though in a trip with many different components it’s not something I can easily summarise.

Things are happening

But we are still feeling strange and have sleeping problems. Either waking up early or not able to sleep during the night.

We had the Subaru serviced yesterday and I had my chipped front tooth repaired on Thursday. Thank goodness for HBF which pays half my dental bills, even for something largely cosmetic. The car is in good health apparently, with a slight wearing of suspension which may need repair in the future. And I can smile without feeling self conscious. However, my philosophy was that probably other people didn’t notice.

We had our first time back at choir Thursday night. It was an unusually large turnout, about 10 people. The choir is still struggling with Solid Rock, never mind, we can just blend in with Voice Male when we are singing together. I don’t know why our choir director still thinks we can learn stuff like this. A committee meeting is being planned for next week and I will put forward that we no longer perform at concerts, just at events where our unique repertoire is important, such as the Harold Pedan Lecture which is coming up. For that, of course, we don’t need a choir director.

Still, I am looking forward to the Dunsborough Song Fest, just not to actually singing.

I haven’t taken any photos in the past couple of days and have been looking back at my photos of deer. The aura in this photo was created by the camera, I’m not sure how.

Still feeling the effects of jet lag

bus stop - 1

I posted photos of a couple of the new bus shelters on my last post. This is yet another one, on Albany Highway, apparently having a shopping trolley inside or nearby is a prerequisite, as the other bus shelters also had shopping trolleys. Maybe Coles will have to get the technology to lock the wheels to stop people taking them.

Yestereday we went into town to sort out a new SIM card for Stephen and get him onto a better phone plan. We like the new Telstra month to month plans for the flexibility. It took time in a very noisy shop. Stephen thought that the young people working there would find it OK, but I think even they would find it stressful. They are very busy solving people’s problems all day and have a notice up about zero tolerance of bad behaviour by customers, which suggests this is a problem. Perhaps some carpets and soothing music would work better.

After that, we checked out an exhibition at the Art Gallery, which we will take in at a later state. A couple of school groups of little kids made the gallery very noisy as well.

I had ordered the mattress pad for the Winnie, which was due to arrive somewhere between 1.00 and 7.00 p.m. and we needed to be back at the house to receive it. It comes rolled up and I’m excited to have the Winnie here next week so we can unroll it try it out.

mattress pad - 1

We had rests, then went shopping at about 6.00 p.m. If Pete is reading this, please note that I have bought some of the cashews from Coles that he mentioned, but have yet to try them out.

I went to bed at about 10.30 last night, but still had an early awake of around 4.30 a.m. Stephen was also awake, and we held on until 6.00 a.m. before having cups of tea. The early awakes mean we get tired during the day, but sleeping during the day leads to less rest at night, and so it goes. I’m wondering if the sheer length of time of our overseas stay has contributed to the difficulty of adjusting back to Perth time.

Stephen had one of his ‘spells’ yesterday in the late afternoon. His vision becomes wonky and he feels unwell. It lasted about half an hour and he didn’t tell me until later. He has had them in the past and his GP has told him to go to Emergency. However, he knows that he recovers and it’s non specific. His concern is arriving there, waiting for hours, and nothing being found. He didn’t have any of these spells whilst we were away, despite the stresses inherent in travel. However, getting back into things is even more ferocious in his case than mine because he wants to do everything musically that he did last year, without perhaps taking enough time to adjust. My commitments revolve mainly around family and are less demanding.



Getting back into things

Today has been interesting. Seeing Mum after 3.5 months I notice that her face is a little more shrunken and her hair more sparse. She was making little noises at first, though stopped once she was talking and she seemed to be able to hold a conversation when it was initiated by others. Marie made it about my birthday, with tiny cupcakes, flowers for us both and a gift. Fortunately I had gifts for them, little scarves bought in Haworth. This was a good way to keep her entertained.

The staff had not been told that Mum’s clinic appointment has been put off until next week, so we were able to let her Audrey know.

I followed Marie home to switch off the fridge in the Winnie and put the vehicle battery on charge, the latter with Geoff”s help. He will monitor progress and switch off when it is full.

Stephen had been out to a coffee morning with colleagues from his former workplace. He said he found them all quite predictable from his past experience.

We rested, then he got ready to go to WASO chorus rehearsal. I walked out with him to the bus stop, then down to the park to take photos of the changes to the park and shopping centre. There is a new picnic area, a basketball net, and new toilets. The shopping centre has new shops, as well as old ones, with outdoor seating areas.

Last night I had my first normal sleep, going to bed at 10:30 pm and waking up to the alarm at 7:00 am,this morning. I still needed a sleep in the afternoon, but set the timer for 40 minutes. I felt groggy on waking up, but feel quite lively now.

Now some photos, heavily processed in the IPadOS app Snapseed.

The new units behind our house are still being finished off. This is the view from the intersection of Albany Highway and Miller Street. There will be a pub and an area that can be booked (for free) by community groups. This was the sweetener that was promised to the council,in return for allowing the units to be six stories high instead of the normal four stories.

We have new bus shelters on both sides of Kent Street for our high frequency 960 bus service.

This path is new. It means there is a path on both sides of the park.

This little basketball net would have pleased Tony, our Chinese friend when he and Della were staying with us. He loved being able to practice on a net, if not actually join a game.

I had an affogatto at the icrecream cafe, then fish tacos at a new shop called Fish Boss. It was quite lively there and an opportunity to enjoy sitting outside enjoying food and the atmosphere of couples and families. It was almost dark when I walked home, but I feel fairly safe in our neighbourhood early in the evening. There are lots of people strolling about looking for a place to have a meal.

It’s too much!

Technology that is. We are still waking up way too early and this morning at about 4:00 am I decided to check the time on my Apple Watch. When I picked it up I’ll swear I saw balloons float up the watch face. I didn’t have my glasses on, so it wasn’t totally clear, but really! It’s my birthday, so I suppose that’s what is was about.

We went to see Marie and Geoff on Saturday. It was a bit difficult getting away because although the car started up on Thursday evening when I tested it, the battery was too flat to start. We got the RAC out to get us going, but he said to put the battery on charge to get it up full again. We have a battery charger for the Winnie, so we picked it up and put the car on charge Saturday night. It took pretty much 24 hours to fully charge.

It was lovely to catch up with the family, the kids were there, a little shy as they usually are with us, but still friendly. Glenn is doing a big jigsaw puzzle on the dining table, but we were able to use one end for eating our lunch. Stephen and I had toasted sandwiches that I made whilst we were waiting for the RAC, Marie and Geoff had their own lunch.

I felt quite ill Saturday evening and went to bed early. I got up at about 3:00 am to read when I couldn’t sleep, then slept until 10:00 am Sunday morning and woke up with a bad headache. Stephen went to the shops to get food for our dinner with Matt. By the time Matt arrived I was actually feeling quite well and we enjoyed being parents to our little boy. He was a bit emotional when he first got home, but seemed to settle in as we went through our normal routine. He worked outside with Stephen for about an hour (Stephen was pretty exhausted afterwards), then helped me finish off in the kitchen. He had gifts for us, some of his artwork, and we had little gifts for him that we had bought or found on our travels.

This morning (Monday) we have again had a very early morning wake up, having our first cups of tea at 5:00 a.m. Stephen says we should be back to normal in a couple more days.

We’ve done a bit more unpacking and settling into our house. I’m really glad to be home again this time. It will be busy from now on until just after Christmas. My thought is that I can get my study sorted out and set up for sewing when we start getting really hot weather and we start our summer ‘hibernation’ phase. Our summers have been mild enough for a couple of years, but this year it is predicted to be very hot. We shall see. At the moment the weather is coolish most days.

Jet lag recovery day one

When we were arriving home in the taxi from the airport we were struck with the view of the new apartment block behind our house. The scaffolding has gone and there appears to be vegetation on a couple of balconies. We thought it meant that the building was finished. When we walked out later to buy a takeaway meal we were surprised to see there was still scaffolding on the road side of the building and it was very noisy today with builders at work. So, sadly, it is finished yet. The wall, which looked beige when we left appears to have gone grey, but we hope it’s just an it’s an optical illusion next to the cream of the other fence.

Today we woke at about 4.00 am and had our first cups of tea at 5.00. We’ve done just a little sorting out today, plus some essential food shopping. This includes freshly roasted coffee beans, of course. Although the car is operational we thought it best to walk to the shops and that meant we could take in some work done on our local park. It gets our approval as the new paths, toilets and picnic tables enhance it, without cutting down any of the beautiful old trees.

We couldn’t resist sleeping this afternoon. The weather is sunny and cool today, after a night that was cool and dry, just great for sleeping.

Home again

Our last day in Croydon was spent packing up and cleaning the house. We took time out for a free concert at Fairfield Halls. It was very well attended with organisers getting out lots of extra chairs. The price of free was that the singer, a soprano, sang the sorts of music that she would need to sing as part of music studies. Some songs were old favourites, others more obscure. She had a great pianist accompanying her.

Then, it was back to work after some last minute shopping.

Yesterday we still had things to finish off in the way of packing and cleaning, but still managed to get away with what we thought was lots of time. A few long queues later we were pretty much just in time for our flight.

Stephen had been longing for an apple and rhubarb crumble. He almost realised his dream as one of the deserts on our first flight was a strawberry rhubarb crumble.

The flight has been a long process. We had two security checks of our bags in Dubai, one very thorough, one fairly brief. We are wondering if there is a current raised security threat because of the release of prisoners in Syria. That was after a fairly thorough security check in England.

Stephen and I had seats near the front of the plane with a little corridor behind on both legs of the journey. It meant that we felt less hemmed in by people. We were fortunate that we didn’t have too much noise from babies and children, and there were a lot of kids on the Dubai to Perth leg.

We had nothing to declare at customs, so sailed through the process of electronic checkin, getting our bags, straight through customs and straight out to the taxi rank. Our driver was a young refugee from Afghanistan. He was friendly and kept up a conversation with Stephen on the journey. He learned English after arriving here and says there has been good support for himself and his family since they arrived here in Australia.

The house feels strange and things are in odd places around the house, but we are glad to be home and we should have it sorted out in a few days.

And Boris has a new Brexit deal with the EU to take to his government for approval, or not.

Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral, London

We had a bit of drama yesterday as the newly installed replacement window in our bedroom refused to close. We tried taping it with masking tape, but it couldn’t hold against the wind. We’ve contacted the relevant people and hope very much that something is done today. We secured the window as best we could using an ironing board and low cupboard and a chair.

However, it doesn’t work perfectly to prevent rain and wind coming in. Fortunately, we like having a bit of fresh air, but it’s worrying for the owner if woodwork, carpets and curtains are getting wet.

In the late afternoon we caught a train which took us near to St Paul’s. We enjoyed the evensong, though the reverberations were pretty strong, which means the sound is not as clear as it could be. Although we gave a donation it was still a cheaper way to see inside than paying an entrance fee during the day.

Afterwards we found a diner with inexpensive meals. It is the first time we have eaten non-British food since we have been here, but suited our appetites. It was a little early to be really hungry.