The last few months or so have been a whirlwind. I initially arrived back in the UK from Southeast Asia at the beginning of April. April in the UK can offer all sorts of weather. Only five years ago March in Bristol was 20C plus and sunny for much of the month with April being warmer still. This was not the case in 2018!
I came back just before the Easter holidays with the intention of buying a campervan. I landed at Heathrow airport on a miserable day and picked up a rental van for the week. It was a complete shock to be back in such unwelcoming weather.
I had never driven a van before and although it was small, the difference with a car is very noticable. I decided to head towards Suffolk and visit my mother. In the week that followed I only viewed one van and ended up staying put at my mum’s place. The weather and Easter holiday period was not idea for van hunting so I decided to come back to the UK in May and try again.
I took a flight over to Spain and spent some time in the north before working my way to Lisbon via Madrid. The weather only improved once I got to Portugal. I decided that a good use of my three weeks would be to start the ball rolling with Portuguese residency.
While I was in Lisbon I obtained a NIF number which is like a tax or fiscal number. You need this to buy property, open a bank account and obtain residency papers. It took a good part of the day but I managed to walk out with the NIF. I walked straight into Activobank and within 30 minutes had a Portuguese bank account with online banking and a debit card!
I walked part of the Portuguese camino last year. Back then I made it to the Spanish border before giving up. I was considering doing the whole thing from Lisbon to Santiago and even walked for two days but I didn’t really want to spend another month hiking.
Instead I took a train back to the Spanish border where I finished last year. It was only 120 km to Santiago and I walked it in five days. It was nice to finish off something that I had started! I seem to have a history of not seeing things through. Of course I’d never admit this in a job interview!
I arrived back in the UK and seemingly brought with me the better weather. It was now late April and the search for a campervan resumed. I based myself down in the Bournemouth area. This was for two reasons. Firstly, there seemed to be a lot of campervans on the market in the Dorset area. Secondly, hotel rooms are very cheap out of season and I never paid more than GBP 25 a night.
I viewed a few vans that week but they all had issues, mainly rust. I decided that I wanted a VW T4. When narrowing down my search things became easier and less overwhelming. I had a rental car for one week and had to drop it off at Gatwick. I was becoming desperate and contemplating getting another car. It’s really difficult to look around at vehicles if you don’t have one yourself!
I felt that I had failed as I was driving back to the Hertz depot at Gatwick. I dropped the car off and was sitting in the airport with all my stuff. I had a look online to see where I could fly to even though I didn’t want to go anywhere!
There was a van down in Devon that looked good so I called them and said I would be there in the evening to view it and please don’t sell it in the next few hours as I was coming from Gatwick especially. I bought a train ticket and arrived in Totnes, Devon some hours later.
The chap picked me up from the station and we went back to his place to look over the van. I pretty much decided there and then to buy it and made an offer. He agreed and the next day the paperwork was sorted out and I finally had a van and somewhere to sleep! The next chapter could finally begin.