we both agreed to put our house in England on the market before we even got back to Newcastle airport - the decision had been made. All I could say for the following few weeks was "big project mind!" my way of trying to contemplate what we were about to do. The deposit was placed in May 2004 to secure the cave (we used Moneycorp - which were excellent) and after that it was all systems go..
House sale.... what an absolute nightmare, everything depended on the house sale, fortunatly for us we caught the property market just at its peak as it approached the north. The house was sold for alot more than we bought it for even after one year, but the process and the agents we dealt with....the whole thing was a shambles - agents will remain nameless!
Meanwhile, buying and selling was the top priority for us, £18k was to be cleared off the house -not a lot you might say but enough for us... daft? maybe! and thats all we had after the deposit was paid so every £ counted. First to go was my pride and joy, my audi 80 turbo se, sacrificed for a old tired estate to transport boxes tools and the german sheperd! Then it was furniture, cd,s, dvd,s etc all sold on Ebay - which I do recommend we made £700+ just selling daft stuff and when every penny counts its a good way of making some money. Everything went apart from the the table and six chairs which went to charity (my better half has never forgiven me but they wouldnt fit in the boot!)
Buying wise, well, if you saw the cave as it was in 2004 "un-inhabitable" seemed somewhat appropriate to say the least and with us not having the funds to rent or even b&b or hostel a caravan seemed the best option...this way we could be on site to oversee any building work and be on the doorstep to carry out any works ourselves. Buying a caravan in the UK though is not as simple as it may seem. Firstly we needed a caravan with a shower- this was essential as the cave had no water or electric but all the vans we saw had everything but, and all around the £1600 mark - too expensive!!!! Eventualy after 2 days viewing every caravan retailer between Stockton and Berwick we stumbled across a caravan retailer selling statics and motorhomes...nothing under £30k so we just about left immediatly until a lowly old caravan caught my eye in the background. It had no price in the window, was obviously old and then the sales feller came over....... the conversation went like this:
interested in this van then?
yes mate, how much?
£400 take it away NOW -p/ex we dont want.
(at this point me and my friend jumped in the caravan and nearly tipped it because the stablisers wernt down only to find 3 beds, fridge,2 ring hob, gas heater,radio, and shower...)
£350 you said?
If your going to be silly its £450...
So £380 was flashed in front of him and the caravan was ours.
Around the 16th (ish) of July we finaly had a completion date on the house so we began to provisionaly cancel utilities like gas/elec/phone etc (if your with british gas tape the call!!!!) All was set both the cars were taxed, MOT,D, full of petrol and had had the mother of all services (my other pride and joy was coming too, a classic ford) so we were ready to go. I wont bore you with things like how the electrics went 12 hrs before setting off or how the ford needed new rear springs because of the weight- we all got to deal with things like that!
Thursday came and we set off at 18.30pm in the evening waving our fantastic neighbours goodbye (we loved em honest!). Now the way the uk system works house sale completion is normally on Fridays which meant we were 30km south of Paris before we got conformation that the money was in the bank (daft? yeah probably- but judge it for yourself at the time)
next........2 cars, escaped dogs in France, bewildered mothers, religious petrol stations and much more ( and thats before we get to were we are going)