Category Archives: Leaving England

Getting away – or not!

    Escaping is not that easy…

The expect feeling of sorrow at leaving the family home at Sowood for the last time didn’t really materialise for either of us! What we actually felt was relief that all the care and maintenance was no longer our concern or expense. Beyond that, we just wanted to settle somewhere and rest.
We actually didn’t go so far. Just 20 miles or so to Bardsey, North Leeds. This was partly because we still had stuff to take to Leeds & Bradford. Mostly it was because it became apparent that we had been the victims of the SOS-Ticketmaster scam by buying tickets for the kids to go to Leeds Festival. It was clear that we were not going see the tickets from that source. Bardsey is a very nice clean site just two miles from the festival site at Bramhall Park.
This enabled us to do a reccy and discover that there would be a box office from midday on Wednesday where we might be able to buy tickets.
We made a trip to a pub car park in Derby to have the dish put on the roof. This turned out to be a long but efficient job performed ably by Brian of CarFi. It required us to stay a second night to give the glue a chance to set properly since that is all that keeps the dish in place!
It was interesting to discover that we now have access to six satellites. Five deliver about 2,000 tv channels. Some are in English. Some are not shopping or porn. Actually, Astra2 seems to have all the familiar UK stations. Liz was very interested in Russia Today’s version of events as they invaded/rescued Georgia.
The all important broadband access is via Hellasat over Greece. We eventually sorted out why the modem went off when we turned a tap on and the Zendher digibox reset when we turned on the bathroom light. Initially, we had a lot of difficulty in getting locked on to the satellite and got a number of “Bad Gateway” error messages. These were resolved when Mark from Roadpro got IPCopter (the German IP) to tweek their end so that we are treated as a Marine installation.
Since then the signal has been good and solid even in quite high winds. Talking of which, we decided to pay an extra £250 to have a wind speed anonometer fitted so that the dish will automatically fold itself away if the wind reaches threatening levels. Seemed expensive but the peace of mind is certainly worth it! They give you 40 days free usage when you start. This may or may not be long enough to sort out the very wide choice of usage contracts which are not currently understood by either us or, it seems, Roadpro… We are now officially a mobile “Earth Station”.

The dish is big but not that big...

The dish is big but not that big...


Liz at work in her "connected" office

Liz at work in her connected office

    Essential Computing for Motorhomers

We also took delivery of our new desktop computer after Liz’s managed to fall out with its boot disk. The decision to go with a desktop was because we wanted a good fast machine with lots of RAM for picture rendering. A laptop could have done the job with less power but the difficulty in finding one with the same sort of power proved very, very expensive. For £1250 we now have a machine with quad processors running at 2.8MHz, 8Gb of Ram; all the ports you could wish for and a top of the range video card and sound card. It is awsome. Sadly, it meant the move to Vista 64 and that has left me lost when it comes to getting the Wireless-N access point running for two machines since both the modem and the access point want to be in charge. Hopefully, the nice man at PC Warehouse will sort that out for me on Wednesday.

Handy for mobile use with Autoroute, my eBooks and bedtime listening to the BBC

Handy for mobile use with Autoroute, my eBooks and bedtime listening to the BBC


My laptop has been dying for some years so bearing in mind that I want to use it for controlling a camera in the field, we have bought a Sony Vaio UX1 Ultra Mobile PC from eBay. It is about the size of a large PDA but runs a standard XP operating system with a 30Gb hard disk and 512Mb of RAM.
This has allowed me to achieve a long standing ambition. When I go to bed, I can buy and read ebooks and also listen to anything I want from the last seven days of BBC Radio 4. Now that is what I call modern luxury!
Banks & ?ankers
We have been trying to open a Euro account with HSBC for about three weeks. Apparently, we need to open a current account in the Isle of Man or Jersey and then they will open another account in Malta or France that will give us a debit card that we can use in Europe without paying either ATM or currency exchange charges. Sounded just what we needed and they are the only bank offering such a service. Well actually Citibank do but they have only one branch in the UK and very few in Europe.
Sadly, they have lost our application forms, decided they were the wrong forms, forgotten to send us yet other forms and generally speaking have shown themselves incapable of running a bank. After hours and hours of calls to the Isle of Man, we have decided to think it all out again. Any ideas, anyone?

    The Buggy


Our buggy is expected to be ready for collection on Wednesday so we are looking forward to getting it. I went and visited Great Northern Cars in Keighley on Thursday to see what was to be done. There is some concern about the size of the coupling to hitch it on to the tow ball. Current legislation has meant that they have become very large and heavy but we don’t have much choice. They are fitting a quick release boss so that we can take the steering wheel off when we park. A windscreen seemed a nice optional extra to have and we are putting a tow ball on the back so that we can use it to launch a boat when we have one… The all-up weight when towed still comes in at less than 300Kg albeit with a nose weight of around 80Kg. However, we believe that it will be 100% legal. It seems that although it is light enough to be classed as an unbraked trailer, because it is a car with brakes, they must be operational by mechanical means when towed. This is where towing the Smart car on an A-frame would have been illegal despite the number of people who do it and the alternative of putting the Smart on a trailer would have added 1200Kg to our train weight. Legal but a bit much for the 1.9 litre engine. Even without the towing, we struggle to get above 55mph!

    Ok, lets get going…


One thing we have learned already is that moving on from wherever we happen to be is a matter of determination. It is so easy just to stay put. We expected to move about 50 miles per week. On present showing, we would be unlikely to do more than 50 miles in three weeks. At that rate we won’t be in Sicily for Christmas – unless it is 2010! Never mind, we are very happy not to have a house with all that maintenance and cleaning to do. We could clean this van outside and in thoroughly in less than three hours. Not that we have done any such thing, yet.

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