Tuesday 23 April 2024: Meet Peggy

picture © Diane Wordsworth

We had such a busy weekend, which wasn’t helped by the fact that Monkey Dust had a gig on Sunday at teatime. Some people like to go to gigs on a Sunday afternoon, some because, they say, there’s nothing else to do. Well, we always seem to have more to do on a gig-Sunday than we do on any other Sunday!

Friday teatime we went off to look at a camper van. We’ve been looking for a van for a year…

When my dad’s estate was released, upon the death of my mother this time last year, I inherited a small amount of money. I used some of it to clear the last of our debts, I used some of it to pay for the dog’s wheels and his vet bills, I used some of it to buy us a new bed, and I put some away to buy a panel van. The rest was locked away for our retirement.

My mom and dad always wanted a camper van or a motor home. They went from tents to a caravan, and the next step was the camper van. They got right to the point of buying one, but in the time it took for them to get from the house to the dealership, following their final confirmation phone call, the Sherpa van they were chopping their Rover car in for had increased by around 25%.

My dad threw his hands in the air, told them to stick their Sherpa van, and drove back home. And so ended their dream.

The poet has always wanted a camper van, and he was particularly keen on doing a conversion. The money I’d put away would have covered a modest panel van, and he was going to pay for the conversion itself. But after a phone conversation with my insurance broker, we were strongly advised against doing it that way and perhaps look for a van that’s already been converted and re-registered.

So we changed tack, made a list of our must-haves and our like-to-haves and I increased the fund using another small annuity. Monkey Dust money went into the pot as well as anything else the poet dibbed in too.

But could we find what we wanted? Could we heck. So we went upmarket a little more, added a bit more to the fund via a bonus the poet received from work, and we decided to just get one that was almost what we wanted, but clean and tidy, and live with it for a bit, see if it was okay or if we’d then be able to make any changes.

A few weeks ago, a van popped up on Ebay in Wakefield. We’d seen one in Worksop, we’d seen one in Newcastle that turned out to be a scam, and we’d seen quite a few in far-flung places, like Ireland. So when this one popped up in Wakey, we decided to go for it. Only the seller kept putting us off and putting us off until eventually he just stopped responding to the poet’s messages.

On Friday morning, just before the poet went into a Teams meeting, he spotted another van that was nicer than the Wakey van. And this one was in Barnsley. You know, where we used to live, just across the motorway. “Send him a message!” said I. “He’s listed his phone number,” said the poet. “Then call him!”

He called him, and though the seller was also at work, we arranged to go and see his van at 5:30pm. We got there and decided straight away that we were having it. We didn’t even have to discuss it. We just looked at each other and nodded. Without even having to leave a deposit, we shook hands with the seller and went home to arrange short-term insurance so we could drive it home with a clear conscience.

Unfortunately, the seller couldn’t see us on Saturday so we arranged to go back on Sunday at midday. This meant we could go and do shopping on Saturday, which started with us going to the butcher before he ran out of what we wanted. Then we were off to Meadowhall, because I’d finally agreed to replace some of my clothes.

When I buy clothes, I expect them to last. I don’t buy rubbish that goes into landfill after just one wear, and I don’t buy fashion that goes to the charity shop at the end of the season. Even when I was skint. I buy good, classic clothes that will last me much longer. Lots of my t-shirts, for example, are 20 years old. I just got rid of a sweatshirt that I’d had since 1996. And I keep shoes until they’re literally falling off my feet.

But on Saturday I agreed to go and get some staples, like t-shirts, jeans, underwear, and new trainers. After a couple of hours I’d had enough. I hate shopping for clothes, which is why I built up such a huge debt on catalogues back in the day. The plan was to go home, pick up the dog, go and visit the mother-in-law, and do the grocery shopping later in the evening.

We decided instead to get the grocery shopping out of the way, put it away, then collect the dog and go visiting. But when we drove past the house we could see that she already had company so we decided to go back in the morning instead.

Sunday morning loomed. We got up really early and went to see her first. We made a small diversion to post some letters. Then we went to the pet shop, to get dog food and bird food. When we reached Barnsley, we got stuck in traffic, but we made it about 15 minutes after we’d said we would, and the poet texted him to let him know.

While the poet and the seller crawled all over the van, with the seller showing him what does what, I had a phone conversation with my bank who had noticed some strange activity. I had to say out loud several times that yes, I did want to pay this person this money, yes I did trust him, no he hadn’t forced me to do anything against my will, blah blah blah.

Of course, I’d far rather my bank be diligent and be wrong than not be diligent and be wrong, but it did stretch our visit out much longer than we needed it to. The poet had to be back at ours by 3:10pm as the band wagon was picking him up. By the time we got home, it was gone 2pm, and we had to eat as well.

He made a few attempts to get the van on the drive, but eventually conceded that I’d been right, and he wasn’t yet experienced nor confident enough to do it. It can be done, but I knew he’d struggle. Especially when he was in a rush to get ready to go out as well. So we contacted a local haulage company who we know store vans, expecting to speak to an answerphone.

No answerphone, so the poet resigned himself to having another go at getting it on the drive, when his phone went. It was the haulage company calling him back! She said that, actually, there was quite a waiting list for van storage there, but when he told her that we lived close by, she said she’d go and have a look and call him back. Ten minutes later she said she could squeeze us in, and off we pootled.

The upshot is we’ve decided it’s probably more secure there anyway, especially when there have been prowlers in the village recently. It’s also cheaper than anywhere they’ve ever stored the band wagon. And how great of them to take it in on such short notice – on a Sunday too.

picture © Diane Wordsworth

But… we have a camper van. At last! And very soon we’ll be going on our maiden voyage.

Why did we name it ‘Peggy’? Because that’s what my dad used to call my mom, and as he’d pretty much bought the thing for us, we thought he’d probably like it a lot – both that we bought a camper van, which was his own dream at one point, and that we named it after my mom.

This is now the start of our next adventure, so look out for Travels with Peggy in the near future!

Anyway, back to work. The poet was ready in time for the band wagon to pick him up. I followed a couple of hours later. A group of our friends had gone along to see them, and we had a good evening. We just would have far rather been playing at Wendy house in our new van, though.

I had a rough night on Sunday, both with a spot of indigestion (eating late) and my back, which has been hurting since our mammoth shopping trip on Saturday. The dog woke me early too. The poet managed to get up on time and go off on another 2-day stint, but I really, really struggled and ended up having a lie in. By the time I got up, had seen to the dog and the birds, had my breakfast, got dressed, etc, it was already afternoon.

I wrote up today’s blog thus far, then went to have something to eat before having to go to the dentist to see the hygienist for my second appointment with her. She was very happy with me as my gums have made almost 30% progress, even with an extraction in between my last visit and this visit. I changed an appointment for the poet while I was there, and headed home.

Before doing anything else, I emptied the bins and took the wheelie bin out, and I supervised the dog in the front garden. He loves it in the front garden, I think I’ve mentioned before, and if it means he’s exercising his legs, which he is, then he’s welcome to it.

Back at my desk, with a cup of tea, I finally got started with some work. Fortunately it was just a writing day, and I’d already taken into account the trip in the middle of it. But I took my books and pens into the living room and worked on story planning there.

Today, I’d like to shift a load of that editing.

4 thoughts on “Tuesday 23 April 2024: Meet Peggy

  1. Congratulations on getting Peggy! We have an unconverted Mazda Bongo (1997) and we love it. We use it just to make up a bed in the back and use the awning for anything else. Enjoy your adventures x

    1. Thank you! We also considered just chucking a mattress in the back of a van but taking our tent to ‘live’ in, but we knew we wanted a camper van so at least tried for that first.

      My sister has a Berlingo that she’s converted to a micro camper. There must be something in our blood.


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