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We did it!  We jumped on the Stena from Belfast to Cairnryan back at the start of May 2018 - and we've been persons of no fixed abode (except for Hans the Motorhome - but he isn't fixed) ever since!

Hiya! I'm Chris and she's Susan.

Over the past ten years we've founded an Honesty Box Cafe (honestly!) in Belfast and a Wee Tram to take people on wee tours around Titanic's shipyard.  An incredible, unforgettable adventure - but also hectic, stressful and exhausting.  We were ready to take a breath.  We needed a break.

Twenty years ago, starry-eyed and newly-married, we set off for a three-month honeymoon driving from John O'Groats to Lands End in our home-converted rusty Renault.

When we returned from that epic 3-month trip, we always said that when we were really old (like, in our 40s or something), we would take a year out to go travelling, to see more of this beautiful world, and meet more of the amazing people who inhabit it.

Then, for many years, there were always reasons not to do it.  Life gets in the way.  We kept promising ourselves that next year would be the year – only to postpone again and again as responsibilities piled up and the right moment never seemed to come.

Well, you can’t keep putting these things off forever – so in 2018 we drew a line in the sand and set a date.  We booked the ferry.  We packed our bags.  We managed to find a tenant for our house and a room (thanks Aunty Anne!) to store our stuff.

These days the campervan is a Hymer - distinctly more luxurious than the old Renault – though in typical style, to Susan’s patient despair, I slightly sort of took it apart and put it back together again (y’know, vastly improved) before we left.

And then we hit the road.

For the whole of our first month, we listened to the wise advice that many people gave us and stayed close to home in the UK.  Setting off on the journey, much as it was the fulfilment of a 20-year dream, was also one of the most emotional things we’ve ever done, and we needed some space and time to breathe before worrying about different languages, currencies, or driving on the wrong side of the road. 

We went North first, travelling alongside Loch Lomond to Glencoe and then on to Fortwilliam, before cutting back across to Edinburgh and down towards the border.


Scotland was a stupendously good place to start.  We’d forgotten just how breathtaking it is - Europe was going to have its work cut out matching the wonder of Glencoe, still with snow glistening on top of the mountains. 



Other Scottish highlights: catching a matinee of War Horse in Edinburgh (followed by one of the all-time top-three meals of my entire life), walking alongside the Firth of Forth at North Berwick, cooked breakfasts with haggis patties, and meeting some fellow Hymer Exsis owners (we are a proud and slightly fanatical race) at the Glencoe campsite.

Once we crossed the border we made our meandering way towards Dover via Alnwick, Whitby, Harrogate, Castleton, Nottingham, North Norfolk, Bury St Edmunds, London and Canterbury.  England felt a lot fuller and busier after the space of Scotland, but we started trusting the directions of Ali, our new SatNav (named after her favourite command when approaching a small lane leading to a campsite: “Take The Alley!”) 

This gave us just one moment of adventure: en route to a campsite on the outskirts of London, the road abruptly stopped at the edge of the River Thames.  Did you know there’s a free ferry across the Thames at Woolwich? 

(Ali did, but had forgotten to let us know in advance)


English highlights: climbing Mam Tor in the Peak District on a sweltering Sunday afternoon, riding on an actual vintage tram at Crich Tramway Museum, Barter Books in Alnwick (Susan’s idea of paradise), Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the choir at St Edmondsbury Cathedral in Bury, watching a thunderstorm pass over the London skyline from the new viewing deck at the Tate Modern.

We started alternating staying at campsites with BritStops - a database of pubs and visitor attractions (and the occasional far-sighted town council) who are happy to let motorhomes stay for one or two nights in their car park (with the trusting expectation that you’ll spend some money in their pub/museum/town/whatever - almost an Honesty Box idea, you might say).

The Europeans have been leading the way with this concept for years - France has a network of overnight stops called Aires, in Germany they’re called Stellplatz - so it was time to head on over to see what other good ideas were cooking...