Saturday, 31 March 2012

Move Day Today

Our 28 days are up today, so it was time to shuffle along to our next site.

We took our big awning down last night, which took less than an hour, and loaded up the 4x4's as much as we could.

This morning we woke up at 0800hrs got up and had a brew, showered then leisurely stowed everything away safely.

We hooked up, and checked lights etc and moved to the top end of the site before I went through the gates. I was there a few minutes waiting for "M" to sort out the Freelander, and as it was only around 1000hrs I turned the engine off. 

"M" drove through the gate and I went to start the engine and it was dead! The batteries (I've got two linked) on the Pajero were flat! I'm not sure how this had happened over such a short period of time. Could it of been due to having the caravan hooked up and running the 12v system?

Not sure what the problem was, but a set of jump leads are now on order! Luckily I managed to borrow a pair from a guy who had a workshop next to the camp site so it didn't take long to get us going again.

5 minutes down the road was our next site, we pulled in and our site was reserved by a little chalk board with our name on it.

A lovely flat site, open and a good space between units. Its a no frills site, just water, hookup and a place to empty your loo. Just how we like it!

We set up the large awning, unloaded and we were all done and dusted by 1145hrs. Not bad going.

This is the site we will be meeting up with "JE" later on in the month. Where a good few German beers will be sunk and many an old tale told! Looking forward to it!

As "JE" will be joined by his Dad who was also ex Royal Signals, "M" has made the probably wise decision to go to her friends for the evening as listening to us three talking total Bo**ocks would do her head in!

I've now completed my first week of driving buses and coaches! I'm pleased to say that I haven't hit anything and all wing mirrors are still intact! Which considering some of the roads I have had to drive down is a major miracle!

Next week I am route learning, and will be driving a double decker! It's not a nice new shiny one its an old one where the brakes are either on or off, and the suspension is non existent. I'm looking forward to driving it as it's a new challenge! Just got to watch out for low bridges and over hanging branches!

Till later.............

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Day 3 - Driving A Bus!

Things seem to change at an alarming rate, when I left the depot last night I was given my run for the next day, when I got in this morning as I was walking across the yard, a car pulled up and out popped the head of one of the office wallers, who said, all change you are now doing another route.

OK, but when I got into the office I was then told it had changed again! 

Now, either I am a soft touch and they feel that they can land anything on me and do routes I've never driven before or the place is badly run!

I went out on a route today, where I knew roughly where I was going, but I did have back up of 7 and 8 year olds who shouted loudly whenever I needed to turn left or right!

As I had never done the route before, what more could I do?

Back on site this evening we were sat waiting for our food to cook (angus beef burgers) on the cadac, and we were wondering what others on site think of us?

It would be interesting to know what others views are of us living the way we do.

We are no different and talk about the other campers, wondering what they are up to and what they do. I guess I am not alone? At the moment on site, even in all this hot weather there is a couple who have not sat outside once, but stayed couped up in their caravan!

Caravanners seem to come from all walks of life, rich, poor and everything in between. This is probably why it is so popular.

The site we are currently on has had a steady stream of folk coming and going, only 3 of us on site tonight but I'm sure that will change shortly.

Well, as "M" is washing up I'd better get the drying up done.

Till later.....................

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Out Of The Mouth Of Babes!

Day 2 of driving a coach and all is well.

Mind you driving a 40ft tin can down a lane which is in fact not as wide as the coach is a little daunting, negotiating 17th Century Church walls with less than and inch clearance either side all take a bit of getting used to!

This afternoon I had to pick up a load of primary school kids from school and do the school run. Firstly, nothing can prepare you for 40 plus 5, 6 and 7 year olds all shouting, screaming and generally making a racket. I thought the windows of my coach were about to imploud!

Once the teachers got off the bus, a couple of them started talking about the saying "C" "U" "N"ext "T"uesday. If you take those four letters you come up with a word which sort of sums up the vast majority of politicians, but I digress!

So there they all were talking about it, and none of them thankfully could work out what it meant. One bright spark said take the first letters and that makes up a rude word. Oh dear I thought, they could get close to this.

Then one of them asked me "Driver - do you know what "C" "U" "N"ext "T"uesday means?" NO, I said, rather too loudly! A wicked streak did come over me and I thought about saying, why don't you ask your teachers tomorrow! But thought better of it and shut up!

Anyway, they set about trying to work out what the first letters were, 1st letter "S" for Sea! 2nd Letter "Y" for You, "N" for Next and "T" for Tuesday! SYNT - Driver, whats a SYNT?!

Now keeping the coach on the tarmac is difficult enough, and even more so when you are trying not to wet yourself with silent laughter!

So thank goodness for innocence and the English language!

We now have a new swear word, which is unique and very few people will suss what you are really calling them. So feel free to use the word "SYNT" and remember it was made by a group of 6 and 7 year olds whilst on my coach!

Till later...................

Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Sun Is Shining! Happy Days!

It's happy days here on site. The sun is shining and it's lovely and warm, but as soon as the sun drops the chill air creeps in and it's a wee bit nippy!

But, important news! I passed my PSV (manual - bus/coach) driving test which I am mighty relieved about.

I really thought I had blown it though, so was amazed when he said I had passed. The relief was nearly overwhelming. I had to deal with a fire engine coming at me from behind with no where for me to go, loads of road works, and cars driven by people that had left their brains at home. I was willing the test to end, it was the longest 1hr 20mins of my life.

So Monday I start at the depot, not sure what I will be doing, will find out then.

Friday evening as a way of celebrating myself and "M" met up with Vinnie "M"s son down at the pub for a pint, it was also his birthday. We had a couple of beers and a bite to eat and came home. I think it was the relief of it all and the fact that I've been up since 0430hrs every morning that I was so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open!

Saturday, we got up fairly early, nipped into the local farm shop, and bought enough for breakfast, cooked up on the cadac it all tasted wonderful.

Now farm shops can be a bit expensive, but we go to Danebury Farm Shop and they are very reasonable, infact we made a point of noting down prices and for some items they were actually cheaper than tesco's and of course it is off extremely high quality.

They butcher on site, and make their own sausages.

As Mr Gulliver came over and stayed the night with young Thomas we went back again later and bought some meat for the BBQ. Wild Boar sausages, and Oriental Duck sausages, both of which were amazing! Along with some massive pork chops marinated in maple syrup and some rib eye steak which we could choose how thick we wanted as we saw it chopped off the joint!

So from around 1530 yesterday we sat around and ate and drank till the small hours.

A good nights kip, and yet again we were awake early, got the place sorted out as we have more guests arriving later today in the shape of "M"s daughter Jodi and husband Jack, along with Vinnie later on.

A few beers and a bite to eat whilst enjoying this glorious weather.

I'm currently sat outside typing away, this is really the life. The site has 5 units on it, not sure how long any of them are staying, no signs of them packing up yet, so guess they are here for a few days longer.

Our 28 days are up next weekend, so we are off to a new site. We have done a recce on it and booked in and all looks good. It's only up the road, so travelling time will be less than 5 mins!

I like watching everyone pack up, with their long faces as I sit here with a smug look on my face knowing that this is us for some considerable time to come.

We have both said that we cannot see why things should change, especially completing two full winters with no major drama's. Summer fast approaching it really is the life.

Even with the long drive that I must do everyday, I still believe that we are living in a wonderful part of the world, right in the heart of the New Forest with the coast no more than 8 minutes drive away!

People pay to come on holiday here, and we are living here. So I count myself very lucky indeed.

Last week, every morning I managed to see deer, as I drove through the forest and then up over the Cranborne Chase and through the Chalk Valley. It's a great drive, with amazing views.

I only spend around 10 mins of the entire 1hr 15min journey on major roads, the rest are B roads and lanes. Hence the length of time it takes to get from point A to B. Would I change it, well, not at the moment. The only annoying thing is the cost of fuel! But as we live a cost effective way, then spending a few pounds extra on fuel to live in such a wonderful area is money well spent.

We said we would see the summer out in this area, then maybe think about returning to a more central area for work for the winter. We are not making any decisions at the moment.

Windows on the caravan are all open and fly screens deployed, but you still end up with bugs in the caravan. Might have to get one of those blue light zapper type thingamehoojers  hanging things.

Well, off to enjoy the sun, if your reading this sat indoors, what's wrong with you, get out and enjoy the fresh air!!!!

Till later.............

Thursday, 22 March 2012

For Any Of You Out There Who Are Ex-Military

Things to consider whilst adjusting to Civvy street:

1. Speech: 
•Time should never begin with a zero or end in a hundred; it is not 0530 or 1400. It is 5:30am or 2 in the afternoon.
•Words like "pit", and "PT" will get you weird looks; use bed, workout, get used to it.
•"F**k" cannot be used to replace whatever word you can't think of right now. Try "um" instead.
•It's a phone, not a radio, conversations on a phone do not end in "Roger That" or "Out"
•People will not know what you are talking about if you tell them you are coming from Dalton Bks with the CP platoon or that you spent a deployment with the RN.... no more acronyms

2. Style:
•Do not put creases in your jeans.
•Do not put creases on the front of your dress shirts.
•Do not refer to your suits numerically; your best jacket and trousers are not your number 1's
•Wearing a hat indoors does not make you a wren; it makes you like the rest of the world.

3. Women:
•Being divorced twice by the time you are 23 is not normal. Neither are 6 month marriages, even if it is your first.
•Marrying a girl so that you can move out of the barracks does not make "financial sense". It makes you a retard.

4. Personal accomplishments:
•In the real world, being able to do lots of press-ups will not lead to automatic promotion or help your career in any way.
•Most people will be slightly disturbed by you if you tell them about people you have killed or seen die.
•How much pain you can take is not a personal accomplishment.

5. Drinking:
•NATO is an organisation, not the way you want your tea made
•In the real world, being drunk before 5pm will get you a written warning (or sacked), not a pat on the back from your boss.
•Shouting "Naked Bar" at your works Christmas party will have no effect.
•That time you drank a bottle of Absinth and shat in your pals suitcase is not a conversation starter.
•That time you went to the combat life saver school and practiced giving vodka iv's will probably not impress a civilian.

6. Bodily functions:
•Farting on your co-workers and then laughing hysterically while you walk away may be viewed as "unprofessional".
•The size of the dump you took yesterday will not be funny regardless of how big it was, how much it burned, how much it smelled..... or how clear the photo is.
•You can't make fun of someone for their disability, no matter how funny the ailment is.
•VD will also not be funny.

The human body:
•Most people will not want to hear about or see your genitalia. Odd as that may seem, it's true.
•If your arse is sore, don’t ask your colleague on the next desk if he can see what’s wrong with it.

7. Spending habits:
•One day, you will have to pay for the things that keep you alive; heat, light, shelter, food, doctor, etc, etc
•Buying a £30,000 car on a £16,000 a year salary is a really, really stupid idea.
•Spending money on video games instead of on nappies makes you look an idiot.

8. Interacting with civilians:
•Making fun of your neighbour to his face for being fat will not make you popular in the neighbourhood.

9. Real jobs:
•They really can fire you. On the flip side you really can quit.
•Screaming at the people that work for you will not be normal. Remember they really can quit too. You can't tell your secretary to "follow it down" if she drops her pen. And taking naps at work will not be acceptable.
•Sport is no longer part of your working week. Wednesday afternoons are for work, just like every other afternoon

10. The Law:
•Your civvy boss, unlike your CO, can't save you and probably won't. In fact most likely you will be fired about 5 minutes after he finds out you've been arrested.
•Even McDonalds do background checks, and "conviction" isn't going to help you get the job
•Fighting is not a normal thing and will get you really arrested and/or fired, not yelled at Monday on morning before being asked if you won.

11. General knowledge:
•You can in fact really say what you think about the Queen in public.
•Pain is not weakness leaving the body. It's just pain.
•They won't wear anything shiny that tells you they are more important then you are. Be polite.
•You no longer have to go to the POL point; just go to the BP garage like everyone else

12. Read the contracts before you sign them - remember what happened the first time...!!!

Thanks to Jim for sending this to me!!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Our Caravan And Equipment

I thought it about time that I actually wrote a bit about caravans!

I do have a tendency to wander off on odd topics, so will start today by recapping on our caravan and some of our basic equipment.

We live full time in a Lunar Lexon 640 with a fixed island bed, it has a separate shower and toilet, a full sized cooker with 4 gas rings, grill and oven and a fridge.

We also use a slow cooker and a 2 tier steamer which are both brilliant.

We also have a CADAC, this is an all singing and dancing gas bbq which we simply could not do with out!

Our front lounge can sit 6 people, and we have cooked for 6 a full blown roast dinner on numerous occasions!

We use melamine plates and bowls, but all cups are china and glasses are glass! I still use my 101 year old King George V coronation china mug! It has traveled every where with us and doesn't even have a chip!

We use a wok, a massive saucepan, a saucepan with two steamer tops, and two small saucepans along with an egg poacher and an omelet pan. We use a hob kettle.

We have a full size awning that is massive. We put this up if we are going to be staying in one place for a week or more. We also have a small porch awning that we use for short stays.

In our awning we have 3 large comfortable Vango chairs, and 2 cheap and cheerful fold up chairs. The large table from inside the caravan is left up in the awning, along with a slightly smaller camping table.

On some sites we lay down an awning carpet, but as the weather is getting better we haven't bothered. We do notice that it does kill off the grass rather easily and this is a breathable carpet!

We also have a camping twin tub washing machine and also our tumble dryer!

For lighting outside we use a clamp on type light along with outdoor fairy lights and numerous solar lights placed around the three storm strap pegs and other places.

We use 2 x 29 litre aqua rolls and a waste hog.

I also cart around a set of heavy duty sack trucks, these are used to carry the loo cassette.

We have 2 power cables, 1 is 25m the other 10m.

I use a cordless drill for winding the legs up and down and I use a combination of screw in pegs and hammer in pegs on our awning.

We use propane gas (red ones) this has a lower freezing point than butane (blue ones), we have 2 x 6kg bottles and we get through 1 bottle approx every 30 days. If you are going full time you will need to have propane, or you wont have any gas during the winter!

That really is about it! OK there is probably plenty of little things that I have left out, but you get the  jist of it!

We use a Mitsubishi Pajero 2.8 Diesel Long Wheel Base to tow the caravan, and I run a Landrover Freelander 1.8 Petrol.

The Pajero is just an amazing beast, you don't even know that the caravan is on the back it tows it that well! Pound for Pound there is nothing that comes close.

Living in a caravan can be as complicated or as simple as you like. Nothing needs to cost the earth, and you don't need to buy brand new either!

So if you are thinking

Full Timing With Children?

I've been asked by someone who is about to go full timing very soon complete with kids if there are any others out there doing the same?

If so please get in touch with us here and we can forward you their email address, as they would like some advice on how your coping.

As we don't have any kids with us, just "China" dog then I'm afraid we are of little use, other than being a notice board!

So if you are full timing with kids, then please get in touch with us.

Till later.....................

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Things That Have Been Thrown At Me!

A comment from an ex Glaswegian taxi driver made me think about some of the things that have been thrown or at least aimed in my general direction.

Having lived in and around Glasgow for 5 years 2000 - 2005 I can say with some authority that during this period I had more items aimed at me than at any other time of my life!

However, before this period of my life I spent a number of years serving Queen and Country and during this period had only been spat on! Mind you the Libyan in question had just had his country, possibly his family bombed by our allies across the pond during the period of 85/86. So all in all, he was probably justified. All though why I was the unlucky recipient I do not know!

Mind you the lead up to it was fairly comical.

We knocked off around 1630 and at 1700 the cook house opened up for our tea. What delights awaited us? The chefs, no, cooks, no slop jockeys would be the first to admit that even making a pot noodle was beyond them on more than one occasion due to the amount of Brandy that was consumed.

On this particular day we were all sat down, trying to work out exactly what we were eating when the Orderly Sergeant came rushing in shouting get down the guard room now, we are under attack! This was met by the unanimous chorus of "F**k Off"! Seriously we are under attack, so armed with nothing more than bread rolls, which bearing in mind were a few days old and in the right hands could do some considerable damage we headed to the Guardroom.

We were confronted with a rag tag band of demonstrators all pushing against our metal gates that were shut at this point.  The US had just bombed Libya. As there was no terrorist threat at this point, none of the guard had weapons, and all we had available I kid you not was two brushes and a mop! Oh and bread rolls!

So armed with a small assortment of utility tools, bread rolls and bad language we defended our camp until they got tired and went home, which was around 20 minutes later! I think I was the only one who took a direct hit of phlegm to the face!

It must of been the only time in military history that bread rolls helped hold off an attack!

I have found myself in a number of bars where fights have taken place and it's been like a scene from a wild west movie, with bottles, people, chairs and screaming women diving for cover as various objects flew through the air. One of these objects happened to be my mate Diggers, I remember lying on the floor after being almost knocked out by a massive Irish Ranger that Diggers looked quite funny as he flew above me and landed in the next booth, even funnier when he was then picked up and flew in the other direction above me yet again!

He came back off of leave once with several broken ribs, I asked him how he had managed to do that and he said quite simply, he was thrown off of Margate Pier, unfortunately for Diggers the tied was out at the time!

Anyway I digress!

When I lived in Glasgow, I had a number of jobs before I became a driving instructor, one was a debt collector, the other was a freelance courier. My time as a debt collector was heart stopping on numerous occasions. But, I will keep it only to having things thrown at me.

I've had bottles, bricks, bolts, tiles, glasses, dog shite, and car tyres all aimed at me. The build up to the 5th of November was like nothing on earth! Everyday you would run gauntlets of rockets being fired at you. I had many scorch marks on my white van from rocket impacts! It wasn't only rockets though, all manner of fire works would be lit then hurled into the path of vehicles. I've seen transit vans with ladders on their roofs with their very own mobile firework displays from their roofs after the "NED's" have thrown fireworks onto them!

Beanz Meanz Heinz!

One day I was just walking back to my van when I heard a thump on the ground, I couldn't work out what it was, then another, closely followed by two more, looked down and my feet were covered in baked beans! Some lunatic was throwing tins of Heinz Baked Beans out of a 20 story block of flats right at me. I managed to dive into my car, and get out the way, where by I phoned the police.

They didn't believe me when I told them what had happened, as they said the people who live in the flats couldn't afford Heinz Beans! Not that this was really the point! The flats in question for those of you who know Glasgow were the high rises just up from the pub "The Dry Dock" in Plean Street, Scotstoun! I remember the name of the street, well, you would when your nearly killed by a tin of bloody baked beans!

I also had my van window broken on this street as well! That was another event! Oh and was a witness to a deranged man smashing up a car with a hammer - same street! Must of been something in the water!

A long bolt approx 2cm in diameter and around 50cm long was once aimed at my car from some high rises, where by it struck the left hand wing and went through it!

A snow/ice ball took out the windscreen of my Suzuki SJ, I drove back to Strathaven after kicking the screen out in the freezing cold, don't even think I came to a complete stop either. I nearly got frost bite driving home. There was no way I was going to stop and wait for a tow truck in Easterhouse! I think I took three days to thaw out, the windscreen wasn't even laminated so had plenty of cuts as well as wind burn!

Now all these incidents happened whilst I was up in Glasgow, but only last Thursday we were driving through New Milton near tesco's when there is a thud on the windscreen, I look to my left and a group of young lads dived into bushes, I swung the Pajero around and stopped.

One lad ran off, but two others picked themselves up. I sort of went into a bit of a rant whilst "M" called the old bill, but the thing was, these were lads from the local Army Cadet Force in uniform which really wound me up. But, the thing that really got me was they were wearing hi viz vests over their combat uniform. If they had not been wearing the hi viz vests I would never of seen them. I was angry at them for throwing bags of dog shite at us, but even more so for not paying attention to concealment! Are they not taught fieldcraft any more!

Anyway, I gave them the fright of their life, with a bit of ranting and raving, the old bill didn't do anything, by the time they had got to the scene, we were home and the kids probably were as well if they had any sense!

Apart from various accusations from Ex wives No 1 and No 2, I cant think of anything else that's been thrown at me, but if I do I will let you know!

Till later..............

Monday, 19 March 2012

Carry On - On The Buses!

You couldn't make it up!

As I said in Friday's post a rather large rock was thrown up from a passing vehicle and hit my windscreen.

On returning to the depot, all of 10 minutes away a call was made to the window replacement guys who said they would be there within a couple of hours.

We took another bus out, just to keep us out on the road. However, this bus all though perfectly road legal, has a 2 second time delay on releasing the air brake (parking brake) which makes the timing of busy junctions interesting, and the gear box is like stirring a bucket of porridge! The gates are knackered and it's pot luck if you get 2nd or reverse!

So this bus was a definite no for taking on test.

The weekend comes and goes and we go to pull into where our training bus is, expecting to see a new windscreen in it. But, no, it hasn't been done!

Our instructor makes a few phone calls and rattles some heads, and the bottom line is, they haven't been able to source a windscreen!

As it is now Monday and my test is Tuesday things are not looking good.

Plan B: Remove the windscreen from replacement bus and put into training bus - simples. Thing is they do this and break the bloody windscreen on removal!

As a result - test cancelled!

Now, as you can imagine, I am not best pleased with this for a number of reasons. Firstly the size of the company is massive, and to not be able to sort a replacement bus out for us that is mechanically up to test standard is poor to say the least.

The second thing is, I am bonded for two years, what this means is that I pay nothing for my training but if I leave within a two year period I have to pay back £2000 on a sliding scale.

If I was paying for this training up front, I would certainly be wanting a percentage of my money back as cancelling a test with less than 24 hrs notice is not professional and certainly not what you would expect from a large organisation!

So another week will go by. On the plus side I get more training, but to get mentally ready for this the process has to start all over again. I have all ready spent this weekend having it going through my head constantly.

To make matters worse I have just looked at the company website, they state that they have close to nearly 4000 buses on it's fleet! With that many you would of thought they could of sorted something out don't you?!

Till later...............

Saturday, 17 March 2012

It's The Weekend - Sun Shining - NOT!

At last the weekend is here, by 0700 hrs I had had my 2 1/2 extra hours in bed and felt ready to get up!

"M" is working today, back just after lunch time. The weather after being dry all week has changed for the worse, rain forecast all day and the same for tomorrow! How boring is that, but as we do not dissolve once wet, we may still go for a walk later on today once we have done the chores of a quick trip to the launderette.

Friday morning had me driving the bus through Salisbury and just as we were approaching Ringwood, a rock flew up from a passing lorry and smashed into the windscreen. Thankfully I was slowing down at the time as I was just about to pull over so only doing around 25mph. I dread to think what would of happened if I was doing 50mph.

The central white bit is the size of a grapefruit with the cracks radiating out around 2 to 3 feet.

It made me jump when it hit, even though I saw it coming!


So that really put paid to our driving for the day, as it was unsafe to carry on in this coach, we limped back to Salisbury where it took us a bit of time to find a replacement coach. We ended up with a rather rough old dog, which I actually enjoyed driving, the gear box was like stirring a bucket of wall paper paste, but at least it had a bit of get up and go when you put your foot down.

I've got my test again next week, fingers crossed once more!

I'm sure you will of all seen and heard about the tragic coach crash with the Belgian kids on board. I know that this easily makes the news, and rightly so, but to then suggest that coach travel is unsafe and that parents are thinking about not letting their kids travel on a coach is a bit much in my opinion. 

I wonder how many are seriously injured or die when taken to school in their parents cars everyday across the whole of Europe. I expect that those stats are a little higher than the coach crashes you tend to hear about. But, of course that doesn't make a good news story for prime time TV!

I've been in touch with a few people recently which is always great, I hope all your plans for full timing are shaping up and for those that have just started are enjoying the experience so far.

Don't forget that we are happy to answer any questions you may have on what we do and how we do it. No matter how daft you think your question is, just ask.

It's strange to think that we have been full timing for a year and a half now! Where does the time go? We have done a lot over this time and learnt an awful lot about how simple and easy it is to live like we are. It really isn't difficult at all. So for any of you thinking about it, stop thinking and start doing!

Till later.....................

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Things Happen!

Things happen, here on site, when we first got here it was full - all 5 pitches being used, then it emptied out, and we were left nice and quiet with just us here for a couple of days. Yesterday two large caravans turned up. So we are back up to three now.

The sun has been shining longer on our caravan, not that I have had any benefit from it, as I leave at the crack of dawn, and back by just around 4 ish. The heat of the sun at the moment not strong enough to make it comfortable to sit out in. But it wont be long!

I had my PSV (bus/coach) driving test on Monday morning. I'm sad to say I failed it! How annoyed was I? Bloody raging!

As I approached a roundabout there were two lanes, I was taking the 2nd exit road ahead. Left hand lane, got onto the roundabout ok, but what I should of done was to close down/block the other lane off stopping anything from getting up along side me. I thought that I would be kind and not stop the flow of traffic. However, as I was tight into the left as I got half way around I had to steer right which took me across just a little to the right.

Now, when I was teaching, I always said, that if you see a large bus/coach/lorry on a roundabout give them plenty of room, and what ever you do, do NOT dive into a space next to them due to the fact that if it opens up quick it could just as easy close as quick! Make sure you have enough room to get past completely before you attempt to get by. 

So that's exactly what the driver of an Audi A3 did, dived at speed right into a gap that he had no chance of getting out of. So I had to hit the brakes or we would of hit. In doing so he did as well, and if you make someone slow down or change direction as a result of your driving that is your test blown!

By being kind and allowing the traffic to flow I cocked it up. So next time you see a bus/coach or lorry taking up two lanes and curse them for slowing you down, it's done for a good reason! I will be from now on taking up as much space as I need and if I slow you down - tough!

The thing is if he just held back slightly I would of got round fine and so would he! Just lack of thought on his part.

My next test is booked for next week, let's hope I don't meet Audi A3 man again!

Every day I have been travelling to the depot and meeting up with the instructor. There are several ways to get there, but I have finally got it down to a round trip of 72 miles a day. A bit of a drain on time and fuel, but so be it. I hate being late, so I set off at 0500hrs to be there for 0700hrs. Now 2 hours to do 36 miles seems a tad excessive? But, apart from 10 mins of national speed limit road, the rest is either through the New Forest at either 40mph or 30mph limit or through narrow country lanes.

The other morning when it was very foggy I only had 10 minutes left spare! Personally I would rather be 30 mins early than 5 mins late, guess that's what being in the Army does for you. You are only ever late once!

Which reminds me of a little story about being late, not that it was our fault they left without us!

Back when I was stationed in Osnabruck, myself and PB were sent for a fortnight's exercise with our vehicle to another Regiment. Now back in those days, we did things slightly different. So the night before myself and several others including PB had a good night out, not a sociable drink, but a full on, cant remember a thing type of night out. Not really the sort of thing that professional's should do! But hey ho!

We managed, not sure how, to get ourselves and our vehicle to Lippstadt by the skin of our teeth, having had less than 2 hours sleep and still to be honest slightly worse for wear! There must of been almost 100 vehicles all lined up on the parade square, a full deployment of men and machines. It was still dark, all the engines were running, diesel fumes choking you, shouts and banter from all the guys. We were told to go and park up near the back, which we did.

We were told that someone would shout for us to join a convoy when the time came. So, being as we had had very little sleep, and let's be honest - still slightly pissed, we promptly crashed out!

We woke several hours later to sun light, bird song and not a bloody soul around! The place was deserted! They had left us behind!

PB being the senior and therefore in charge went off to try and find out where we were supposed to go, a little later he returned with directions. We set off on what we thought was a non tactical exercise. Now a non tactical exercise is basically a chance to test equipment, you don't look like a walking hedge and you don't carry weapons. How wrong could we be. It was a full tactical exercise!

Our first meeting point was I think in Holland (PB correct me) where we parked up, and then discovered we were close to a Dutch army bar, with nothing else to do we locked up and headed straight there, got lashed up and still to this day, not completely sure how,  sold the uniform I was stood up in! I then had to spend the rest of the two week exercise, dodging all those in authority as whilst everyone else looked like walking hedges, I was in a tracksuit! (not even sure who's tracksuit)!

It took us a couple of days to catch up and get to our correct location of where we should of been. We were only two days late, not bad!

At one stage the Squadron Sergeant Major wanted to know where I was, PB made an excuse, I was actually hiding up on the roof of the wagon, trying to keep out of site! All I can say is, it was a good job it was the summer as I spent a lot of time up on that roof!

Thankfully being in the Signals, once we were in the backs of our vehicles, we were not really bothered, and even if we were, you could keep the door on a chain, or look through the spy hole and if you didn't like the look of, them simply refuse them entry! I did the night shift, and didn't open the door to any one!

Well, enough waffle,  till later....................

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Moving From One Pitch To Another!

When we moved onto our current site, there were not too many options as to where to pitch up. However, now that the site is all but empty, with the last caravan due to leave very soon, we have decided to move pitches.

Where we currently are we loose the sun by about 4pm, where as the rest of the site gets it till sunset, so we are going to move down approx 150 feet!

Sounds like a bit of a hassle to move down, but apart from the awning coming down and then back up it isn't too bad! At least we don't have to bolt everything down for such a short move.

So it's a waiting game now, as soon as they pull out, we will be moving pitches! I'm just going to empty the awning out to one side, and carry it all down.

Best get on, I want to be done and dusted and enjoy the sunshine! "M" typically has gone out! So down to muggins to pack up!

Till later.............

Friday, 9 March 2012

Another Week Done

Where did that week go!

Last week we moved to our new site just out side of Lymington in Hampshire, we have had some very strong winds to contend with, but thankfully the awning has survived, with the help of three storm straps.

I've completed week two of my driver training and I have my test on Monday! I feel confident, as long as I don't do anything stupid or I react badly so others stupidity I should be ok! Fingers crossed.

This site is a little bit busier than what we have become accustom to. Four caravans on site this evening!  Plenty of room between us all, but our last site was a secluded site, with lots of hedges, bushes etc. This is an open field.

Nothing planned for this weekend, after getting up at 0430 every morning I don't really want to do a great deal other than sleep! "M" is working tomorrow morning so I intend to catch up on those ZZZZ's then!

Oh, make that a full house and 5 caravans, another one has just turned up! Another bonus, not a young kid in sight to scream and shout and make a noise early in the morning!

The cadac will be getting fired up later this evening, we haven't used it these last few months as often as we should of, so we will be making amends over the next few weeks!

So who knows what next week will bring. I will be either starting a new life driving a coach or bus or back training! We will find out soon enough.

Hope you all have a great weekend, and if your not out in your caravans or motorhomes, why not? Tents, well you do have a bit of an excuse!

Till later.................

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Views From The Bus

As some of you are aware, I am currently learning how to drive a bus or coach depending on how you want to look at it.

There is a difference, between the two, a bus is used by the general public and the driver has to handle money and issue tickets etc. The bus itself is fairly utility in it's looks and functions. A coach on the other hand is more luxurious and tends to be taken on tours and outings and hired out complete with a driver. They are also used for long distance travel.

So, I have been learning to drive a coach, all though the principles are exactly the same.

I've been driving a coach now for almost two weeks, and I have to say that there are some really inconsiderate people about, not only that but there are some lunatics out there as well, I've been overtaken on corners, with traffic coming towards us and on roads that there is only just room for our coach, let alone a woman in her BMW X5 so desperate to get past she put herself in the hedge!

We need room and we go slow - FACT!   Do yourselves a favour next time you see a bus/coach, give them some space it will be really appreciated! Not only that but keep back, when you get right up close, I cannot see you at all in my mirrors! I sometimes have to swing out wide to get around tight bends, so don't try and get up the inside of me either!

I have seen some dreadful driving, and all of it by middle aged or older people who with a life time of driving should know better!

I had to sit a number of tests the other day, theory, hazard perception and the first part of my CPC case study questions. I passed all three on the same day, 98% for theory (pass mark 85, 87 out of 100 for the hazard perception (pass mark 67) and 45 out of 50 (pass mark 40) for the CPC case study questions. So I was happy with those scores.

My practical test is booked for next week, and I'm looking forward to it. Fingers crossed that all goes well, I'm sure I will be fine as long as I don't do anything daft or that a lunatic causes me a problem!

It has been good riding around on the coach, you can see so much more from up there! Over hedges, into peoples gardens and even in to their houses! There are some very untidy people around! So if you live on a bus route, either draw your curtains or tidy up - we can see you!

Once I've passed my test I'm not sure what I will be doing, I'm happy to do either bus or coach work. At the moment I would like to do a bit of bus work, as you are out and about all day, as the coach guys appear to spend most of their days sitting around doing bugger all! Sounds cushy, but boring as hell, I think it would drive me mad over time!

But, at the end of the day as long as they are paying me I don't really care!

Finally we have just hit officially 100 followers here on this blog, how many more just dip in and out is anyone's guess but 100 is a fairly major milestone. Thank you, you all must be barking mad to read this!

It's been a really windy day today, we have three storm straps on the awning, which is just as well, as I really was unsure if it would still be standing on my return today. But, it was, the centre pole had dropped off the caravan, but that was it. Phew! The wind is supposed to drop this evening which is happening as I write this, so a quiet night without being shook about.

Getting up early everyday at 0430 is knackering, so it's another early night for me.

Till later.......................

Monday, 5 March 2012

We Are At A New Site!

We moved on Friday!

It's been a little while since we have moved, in fact it's been 3 months. We took advantage of the 28 day rule to the max, and left our caravan on site, but was off site for the minimum 48hrs. Doing this twice saved us all the hassle of packing up and moving.

However, we wanted to be closer to "M"s kids so earlier in the year we took a look at a few sites and picked a select handful, which met our criteria, which is basically, cheap and clean!

We are now not far from either New Milton or Lymington, with both being about the same distance away.

The move went well, and as we were in no rush before we left our old site we gave our caravan a full scrub down with a hose and bobby dazzler. She looks lovely and clean now!

The trip down gave us no problems apart from an idiot overtaking us with traffic coming towards us. I think he got a bit of a shock when he realised exactly how long we are when hooked up!

You may think that this sort of road incident was by a novice driver with too much testosterone and not enough horse power, but it was actually a guy in his late fifties with grey hair!

Well, we pulled up on site, and met the owner, a nice chap who  "M" had spoken to on the phone, we paid for a week, as we wanted to keep our option's open as it's a new site. We may not like it here!

Settled in we set up, including the big awning which was a bit of a struggle as it was windy, the other thing was the caravan is on the level but the awning slopes up. So not the best situation to be in.

This site has two toilets and a shower, so once all was done I went off to suss out the shower. As some of you may know, these showers seem to have a life of their own. So armed with a couple of 20p bits I headed off in my dressing gown, flap flips, towel and wash gear. 

I must point out at this stage that it was now dark outside. The shower cubicle had a door that led directly from outside to a cubicle, so once in it was complete darkness. I pulled what I thought was the light cord, nothing! Open the door, check around, no other switches to be found. Ok, shower in the dark then! 20p in the slot and "Let There Be Light" the light comes on!

So we now have light, but I can see that there is a count down timer and its reading 2m 45s - Ive lost 15 seconds of valuable hot water. Next suss the shower as I can now see what I'm doing, temperature set, checked and it's ok, 2m 10s remaining! Ive still got my robe on, so by the time Ive hung up my robe I'm down to 1m 48s.

But at least the light is bright and the water is hot. At this point I decided to find the other 20p bit out and insert it in, yes, a full 3 mins of hot water.

Once I had scrubbed all necessary parts, the time was getting on, I was interested to see what exactly happened at the end of the 3 mins. My guess was that it would just gradually go cold.

Was I in for a surprise! 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - The first thing that happened was that I went from a blinding bright light to being plunged into complete and utter darkness, closely followed by the water turning from scalding hot, to freezing cold in the time it takes to say, "What The F***"! Trying to turn a freezing cold shower off in the pitch dark whilst being stood underneath it is not good for the soul! The only thing the shower cubicle didn't do was throw me out stark bollock naked! I nearly spent another 20p just to so I could see what I was doing!

Being the tight git that I am I didn't, instead I fumbled around in the dark, dried myself off, and marched back to the caravan feeling rather refreshed. All though I will try and get a shower before it get's dark in future, which is exactly what I'm off to do now!

Till later...........................