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  • FIRST POST
    • *Robin*
    • By *Robin* 16th Jul 16, 8:03 PM
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    *Robin*
    Blowing in the Winds of Change
    • #1
    • 16th Jul 16, 8:03 PM
    Blowing in the Winds of Change 16th Jul 16 at 8:03 PM
    A brace of raptors soaring in the breeze over the Nest just after dawn on Solstice morning gifted me the title of this, my reprise into MSE's Diary-world.

    I'd had little sleep. Partly because, well, Solstice is a special day and the night had been filled with memories of happier years, and partly because it seemed that my faithful companion was rushing towards The Light, her paws galloping in the air as she dreamed contentedly beside me.
    I was exhausted. Fear of what might come to pass if my dear girl's last, eternal bed had not been prepared before she was ready to cross Rainbow Bridge loaned me energy I could not afford; each day a single bucket of stony earth was added to a pile beside the chosen resting place.
    Dear Vet had nothing more to offer beyond comforting words and her promise to attend should the need arise, any time day or night.

    DS1 rescued me. He called to offer salutations not long after sunrise; apparently I was making no sense at all on the 'phone which led to a prompt visit - tools in hand - and the job was completed before the day's end.
    Bless him.

    Although resigned to the inevitable at that point, Clever Dog was not in pain so I decided to delay departure from the Nest until she had no more need of my staying. Her behaviour in the van suggested she would not welcome another long distance adventure and obviously, I did not wish to cause her any distress during her last days in this realm.** Despite Divo Four and Dear Relative's increasingly urgent requests for my presence at homehome, the weeks passed and each day the mercury in the thermometer rose higher.

    Meanwhile I have not been paying attention to financial matters since giving up m' previous diary: A bank card expired so I could no longer check that account. The gizmo for signing into another stopped working, but CD and I have been living comfortably on our £400 per month allowance - half of it spent on her medications and the best diet, another £50 on storage for the camper-van, and the rest - well I can't really remember, but there always seemed to be funds left in our 'daily' account when it came time to turn another page on the calendar.

    There's nothing praise-worthy about that though; it's easy to rack up NSDs when one has no energy to go out except on essential missions, and there's a plentiful supply of veg in the garden (mostly planted for me by a couple of winter visitors).
    "Garden" is perhaps no longer the right description for the wilderness which surrounds the Nest; I have not had the strength to undo Ex-Gardener's neglect (I forgave him, vastly overpaid him, but he lied and then stole from me so there was no choice but to terminate his employment, alas. I still feel very sad about that ending).

    Eventually DS4 lost patience. He 'phoned with two pieces of wonderful news: A double-first [justifying his decision to rack up a relatively modest student loan], and notification of his imminent arrival!

    We brushed the spiders gently out of camper-van, and went for a trial night away locally. CD amazed me; apparently quite happy to travel and potter about when we stopped. Maybe her vocal objections to being in the other van [**] were due to the fact that most of her trips out this year have ended at DV's clinic, being prodded, poked and stabbed (for blood tests)?

    Plumber put on his Mechanic's hat to check camper-van's travel worthiness, resulting in a trip to the garage for a little preventative maintenance and a service - which wiped out all the cash saved by living parsimoniously over the last six months. Plumber was incandescent at the size of the bill when he saw they'd replaced some good parts while failing to fix the actual fault; must say communication between the booking-in chap and mechanic was appalling, especially given that this was at the regional main dealer.
    <sigh> Not very MSE but I just wanted to get out of there so paid up (after they replaced the faulty bearing!). Oh well.

    The thought of driving all the way to the Chunnel filled me with trepidation - just don't have enough strength for such sustained effort these days, and DS4 hasn't held a full licence for long enough to be covered by insurance abroad.
    So I called the ferry company. Usually, pet-friendly cabins are booked up half a year in advance, but CD is still remembered (it's partly due to her Houdini behaviour in bygone days that pet-friendly cabins were introduced).
    Result: They found us a cabin on next week's boat!

    Now I am [supposed to be] packing. Camper-van is parked in the village; CD and I slept there last night, and I started this diary to help m' poor-ol' brain-fogged mind keep track.
    The acquaintance who outed me at the beginning of the year has not been in touch since, although half a dozen RL mates around the World did express their regret that I'd given up my first MSE diary. So much for anonymity - have decided I really don't care, because the support of all you MSEers is of inestimable value..
    Last edited by *Robin*; 29-07-2016 at 1:20 PM.
Page 14
    • *Robin*
    • By *Robin* 18th Jun 17, 11:07 AM
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    *Robin*
    Good morning MSEers,

    Breakfast stop; now about 120 miles South of Madrid. Found some shade and a breeze. 31'C inside the van. Dug out CD's cool-coat for Musketeer. He wasn't sure about it at first; stood with legs braced, head down and ears flat out sideways. I laughed (couldn't resist ). After a couple of minutes M decided wearing a wet jacket is a good idea and had a snuffle around our current location. He does seem to be enjoying exploring the changing scenery every time we stop - am so glad about that.

    Chev - hope you don't mind, but I'll respond to your very valid comments later when we stop for siesta. Don't want this break to be too long - better get a bit further up the road before the worst of today's heat hits.

    Stepup - the Northern route will be cheapest on fuel, and fastest so long as nothing catastrophic goes wrong (touch wood).
    It's a good job I managed to get through to the council. The call was recorded so if it all goes Pete Tong later, there is proof that I wasn't allowed to pay the bill.

    Maddie - slept very well thank you - until 0700 when a nearby cat-fight sent M into a frenzy. He had managed to squeeze onto the bed sometime during the night; woke me by planting four sharp claws on m' boob as he shot towards the closest window in full attack-mode!

    Yesterday's spends:
    Parking bill - £25
    Gardener's wages - £100
    Dog food - £10
    Groceries and stuff for the van (loo roll etc) - £37
    Fuel - £45

    Forgot to buy vino and olive oil. The hotel we're parked next to has a shop selling both - but at tourist prices so didn't succumb.
    • *Robin*
    • By *Robin* 18th Jun 17, 11:38 AM
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    *Robin*
    Just seen this:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-40316934

    If I'd chosen the Western route we'd have driven straight into that!
    ..Those poor people; I weep for their terror at such an ending, and again for the many souls lost in Grenfell Tower.
    • please-let-me-be-lucky
    • By please-let-me-be-lucky 18th Jun 17, 7:20 PM
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    please-let-me-be-lucky
    Thank goodness you didn't choose (were guided against??) that route. RIP to the poor souls caught up in it Xx
    Debts @ LBM £23,729.31. Debts @ 08/04/2016 £0

    NSDs achieved in July - 2/5
    • *Robin*
    • By *Robin* 18th Jun 17, 10:33 PM
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    *Robin*
    Thank you Lucky.. Needed a reminder that I too am lucky today.. Checked the route-planner against Portuguese news, and yes I'd have taken that road through the forest to get to the motorway, and we would have been there last night.

    So our trials on the Northern route are back in perspective. Aircon coped until temp hit 40'C; it kept rising so at 41.5'C Musketeer and I stopped and found an overgrown, abandoned shady garden to wait out the worst of it. The forecast reckoned it would be slightly cooler today but my thermometer got to 47.5'C while we were hiding under what must once have been a lovely kids' tree-house.

    Back on the road the van has felt odd for the last hundred miles; too bouncy, like a Renault.. Am having dark thoughts about the engine mounts which were not changed when I bought it (one was replaced). Also the habitation water pump seems to have packed up - no shower tonight - fortunately decided to bring all the bottles I could find filled with beautiful spring water from the Nest's well; with any luck it'll last until we get somewhere cool enough to contemplate getting out the spanners..
    As for the query on engine mounts.. Think I might change direction if I can, and go for the shortest drive possible. Do have recovery insurance but would prefer to get back to Blighty under me own steam!

    Not sure where we are now; overlooking a lake somewhere North of Madrid. Got a nasty headache from setting sun shining in my eyes - parked up next to a couple of cement trucks and a broken-down car, behind a garage. Going to bed rather than take pills; hope garage owner won't mind, and broken car owner's baby stops howling (poor little thing!).

    Chev - not forgotten my promise, but will try again tomorrow. Not thinking straight now.

    Nitenite all. xx
    • Bubblesmum
    • By Bubblesmum 19th Jun 17, 12:12 PM
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    Bubblesmum
    Dearest Robin

    Sorry, been only dropping in occasionally to MSE, trying to concentrate on RL responsibilities.

    Firstly, going back to your post long ago about, muscles becoming frozen and unable to move, no I have not experienced that, with cerebral palsy you get muscle weakness and spasming, for me in the form of twitching. I echo the words of Chev. This summer have an MOT on you....

    CHEV does make very valid comments, I often think that you take more care of all things, human, canine and motorised than yourself....

    Praying you have a safe and healthy journey...

    PS Ear Rubs for M and to claws on boobs

    PPS to the council and so much automation and lack of human practical support and common sense
    Mrs B Debt £1857 @ 13/06/2017, £1790 16/06/2017
    • Dansmam
    • By Dansmam 20th Jun 17, 7:29 AM
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    Dansmam
    Dear Robin
    Well, what a lot is going on on here��. Just back from the rainy Hebrides so heat has not been the issue it's being for you and dear Musketeer. Many rabbits so Lurcher lad had a literal field day! Another one here who thinks there was a guiding hand taking you north not west x
    Hope your journey will become more fun as you travel northwards.
    I'll not hijack your thread on the topic of councils except to say it's been my life and I do get pretty �� when we all get lumped into the incompetent and deliberately unhelpful category. I have found many other organisations - banks for example, much more unreasonable myself ��. Bless helpful man - that's how I try to be and I'm not alone x
    Good thoughts for the health of van - and it's occupants. And cooling thoughts for you all too x
    What's your eta back home?
    • *Robin*
    • By *Robin* 21st Jun 17, 3:20 PM
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    *Robin*
    Chev was right; putting the interests of others first has landed me in a steaming great pile of poo today!
    ..Would welcome any positive vibes going spare for the next hour - will explain later when I know whether or not it has been possible to find a solution.
    • maddiemay
    • By maddiemay 21st Jun 17, 3:29 PM
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    maddiemay
    Oh Robin, everything possible crossed for you and M.

    MM
    • Dansmam
    • By Dansmam 21st Jun 17, 7:46 PM
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    Dansmam
    Sending all the positive thoughts vibes and loads of luck. Hope they get through and do the trick - nil desperandum, all will come good for you and quickly I hope x
    • please-let-me-be-lucky
    • By please-let-me-be-lucky 21st Jun 17, 8:20 PM
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    please-let-me-be-lucky
    Hope you are ok Xx
    Debts @ LBM £23,729.31. Debts @ 08/04/2016 £0

    NSDs achieved in July - 2/5
    • Bubblesmum
    • By Bubblesmum 22nd Jun 17, 11:19 AM
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    Bubblesmum
    Echo hope you are both OK and a solution has been found, thoughts and prayers x
    Mrs B Debt £1857 @ 13/06/2017, £1790 16/06/2017
    • *Robin*
    • By *Robin* 24th Jun 17, 10:45 AM
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    *Robin*
    Good morning and thank you to everyone who sent positive thoughts in our general direction - they were successful!

    It was a problem of timing, coupled with differing regulations between Andalusia and Catalonia. Because GrandPup stayed with me for so long, Musketeer's operation and inoculations had to be delayed - and that meant the Catalonian official did not see the dates she wanted on M's passport.
    At that point I had already paid a fearsome sum for our ferry ticket - which would not have been refundable on the day of sailing if we couldn't sort out the discrepancy.

    It took six hours of angst; faxes flying between two vets, two Spanish government departments and DEFRA - but eventually the port vet was given permission to amend M's passport so that it confirms compliance with Catalonian and UK Law.
    ..Then finally we were allowed to join the queue for boarding - half an hour before the ferry was due to set sail!
    Phew!

    I had a huge, well appointed cabin - the only one available - much posher than I'd normally choose as I've no interest in hobbing with the nobs nor paying the price for that privilege.. Must say though, there was absolutely no sensation of being at sea as is usual in the less exalted accommodation, even during a calm crossing.
    Dogs' club was fun; bar a couple of aggressive GSDs all the mutts were friendly as were their owners, so M and I spent a lot of time in the exercise area with like-minded folk and their pets.
    I gave Musketeer CD's sheepskin to lie on in his kennel, but the first time I returned he was chest deep in wool - he had completely destroyed it, presumably in objection to having been locked in a cage..

    PEM* had well and truly set in [after all the effort and worry] by the time we were disgorged from the boat, but luckily a friend lives close by so now we are parked at his farm. Yesterday I couldn't stay awake for longer than a couple of hours at a time, and missed dinner after exhausting m'self walking M through the fields, but no matter; we're out of the searing heat and have knocked about 1500 miles off our journey.
    Hopefully the engine mount will last until we get homehome - think am right about that as it is fine while cold, but gets bouncy when the motor warms up.
    Fuel consumption has been pretty good so far; topped up the tank before getting on the ferry but reckon it cost less than £80 to drive right across Spain - not bad at all for a van of it's size, cruising at 70mph.
    (*PEM = Post Exertional Malaise).

    Am grateful to have arrived safely in the UK, for Musketeer being allowed to come with me, and the more temperate weather (never have I been so happy to see grey clouds in the sky!).

    Spends:
    Fuel - £75
    Ferry ticket - £805
    Sorting out M's passport - £60
    Meal on the boat - £15
    Last edited by *Robin*; 24-06-2017 at 10:48 AM.
    • Dansmam
    • By Dansmam 24th Jun 17, 1:18 PM
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    Dansmam
    Yay! Well done Robin, battling through all that would be absolutely exhausting even for those of us previously on top form (the GSDs alone would have had me weeping - lurcher lad is not keen at the best of times -Musketeer encounters in small spaces must have been tricky). Smiled at dear Musketeer and his cage strop - if only they could speak ��
    Hope you can take time now to rest up in the cool ��
    Great mileage news - may DD forgive you but I'll be limiting my (birthday gift) contribution to her current Portuguese fuel consumption based on yours!
    Sending supportive thoughts in the direction of the engine mount x
    • stepuptothepl8
    • By stepuptothepl8 24th Jun 17, 1:42 PM
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    stepuptothepl8
    I'm so pleased to hear you've made it, engine mounts and all. Hope M is finding his trip less stressful now, and that you are finally being looked after, rather than being the one doing all the caring x
    LBM 1st Feb 2015 £8852 to go
    my diary: time to step up to the plate. SPC#503
    2017 challenges:
    March - Bath Half Marathon DONE!!
    July - trailwalker 100km walk for Oxfam & the Ghurka trust
    • please-let-me-be-lucky
    • By please-let-me-be-lucky 25th Jun 17, 8:37 PM
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    please-let-me-be-lucky
    Welcome back to the UK Xx
    Debts @ LBM £23,729.31. Debts @ 08/04/2016 £0

    NSDs achieved in July - 2/5
    • Sun Addict
    • By Sun Addict 25th Jun 17, 9:54 PM
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    Sun Addict
    Welcome back from me too, if you'd arrived last week the weather would've been rather less temperate - we had a heatwave 34 degrees. Much better "doing" weather now, although I love hot weather I don't like working in it.
    Virtual Sealed Pot £424.05
    Weight loss 0/7lbs
    Mr SA finally in remission December 2013
    • *Robin*
    • By *Robin* 27th Jun 17, 11:05 AM
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    *Robin*
    Drat - just lost today's long post responding to all your kind comments, because I forgot about the "token expired" rubbish!

    Need to get back on the road again so will just thank everyone for now, and say that after three days' rest Musketeer and I progressed another 150 miles before exhaustion set in again. Just about made it to m' next "safe haven" where M has met cattle for the first time and I've had a chance to recharge both spiritual and physical batteries.

    may DD forgive you but I'll be limiting my (birthday gift) contribution to her current Portuguese fuel consumption based on yours!
    Originally posted by Dansmam
    Must reply to your post though Dansmam (in case you are about to send DD her birthday gift ).
    I have many years experience in driving economically; Advanced Drivers' techniques are second nature, and our journey through Spain was almost all on good, fast roads. In Portugal both terrain and road quality will cut down DD's mileage per gallon, as will the fact that it really isn't very long since she passed her test!
    Also, unless DD's Transit is fitted with the Eco-Banana engine she hasn't got a chance of matching my camper-van's economy, even if driving the same route. ..So please be a little more generous than you were thinking of - if you can afford it, of course - am certain DD will be very grateful!

    Today, I am grateful for a cloudy sky - perfect for driving. Also for having been able to work out why the water-pump wasn't delivering anything out of camper-van's taps, and fixing it.
    But most of all am grateful that an unexpected herd of cattle in the field M and I were about to walk through, came over the hill to see what he was barking at [nosy passers-by who were trying to peer into camper-van's windows while I was having a wash ] before we went through the gate (they were the most dangerous combination for anyone with a dog; cows, calves and a large bull! ).

    Spends:
    A "thank you" take-away meal for our first hosts - £30
    Last edited by *Robin*; 27-06-2017 at 11:13 AM.
    • stepuptothepl8
    • By stepuptothepl8 28th Jun 17, 8:59 PM
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    stepuptothepl8
    Robin, I don't know where you are heading, or where home, home is, but if you need a base in Herefordshire, you'd be very welcome to come and park in our little corner of it x
    LBM 1st Feb 2015 £8852 to go
    my diary: time to step up to the plate. SPC#503
    2017 challenges:
    March - Bath Half Marathon DONE!!
    July - trailwalker 100km walk for Oxfam & the Ghurka trust
    • *Robin*
    • By *Robin* 10th Jul 17, 11:49 AM
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    *Robin*
    Hello MSE World,

    Well, we eventually made it back to New House. The final 150 miles had to be completed in three 50 mile bursts for safety's sake, but luckily there were service areas in just the right places (thank you for your kind offer, Stepup, but as we were heading East from Wiltshire when you posted, I thought it better to keep going). Just as well actually, because Divo Four and I had time-sensitive business to deal with requiring both our autographs, before he went off to his annual yoga festival.

    New House has had a lot of the essential works completed during my absence; DS4 did well. It still needs new windows and better insulation in the main extension, but hopefully is no longer at risk of sinking into the fens!
    ..The structural engineers discovered that when another new property was put up nearby, it's builders blocked a main drainage pipe which caused some cracks to appear in NH's front wall - happily our insurance company are pursuing said builders for repayment of the hefty repair bill.

    After about a week at NH recovering from the journey, during which nothing much happened except riverside dog-walking and exhausted sleep, Musketeer and self set out again for Oxford, where we have spent the weekend celebrating Divo Three's birthday. Musketeer and GrandPup were delighted to be reunited and we've had a couple of wonderful long walks in an ancient forest. GrandPup is now the same weight as Musketeer although he's not yet as tall, but am very glad indeed to have seen him again as there's a problem with his man-bits which needs dealing with soon, if he's to have a long and healthy life. DS3 and GGF were hoping to wait until they return to Spain before neutering GrandPup - because of the cost - but I don't think that's a good idea so made a contribution which helped persuade GGF to arrange GrandPup's op this week.

    Camper-van is still running on Spanish fuel (quarter of a tank left). I was intending to carry on travelling West to visit friends near Bristol, but am becoming annoyed by the limitations of the van's current solar set-up which has trouble holding enough oomph to charge laptop and 'phone for more than three days without being plugged into mains power. So perhaps a trip to consult a friendly solar engineer would be a better use of my time until DS4 returns and my presence will be required at homehome?

    Am grateful to DS3 & GGF's kind and generous boss for letting me park at their workplace, for the wonderful weekend we've all just spent together, and the obvious pleasure Musketeer and GrandPup have shown on being reunited.

    Spends:
    Groceries & dog food - £31
    Parking charge - £2.50
    DS3's birthday meal - £75
    Towards GrandPup's op - £80
    Last edited by *Robin*; 10-07-2017 at 12:00 PM.
    • please-let-me-be-lucky
    • By please-let-me-be-lucky 10th Jul 17, 1:46 PM
    • 8,031 Posts
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    please-let-me-be-lucky
    So pleased you've had a lovely time recently Xx
    Debts @ LBM £23,729.31. Debts @ 08/04/2016 £0

    NSDs achieved in July - 2/5
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