Long Drive North Back to Durham - Hire Car Fun, More Family Visits, Rabbits & Late Night A1 Diversions!

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Wednesday 6 April 2016

Long Drive North Back to Durham - Hire Car Fun, More Family Visits, Rabbits & Late Night A1 Diversions!

So after being back in the UK a fortnight already, it was time to finally get ourselves back up to Durham.  This time in a hire car!  It really was a day down memory lane and jam packed with visits - setting of from my parents house in Stone, we met up once again with the lovely couple who'd recently bought our motorhome, stopped to visit Dan's family in Nottingham, got to see our beautiful bunny Missy again near Wakefield and after taking in a very scenic route through County Durham, which passed all the old sites due to road closures, finally got back to our flat close to midnight.  Arriving back at our flat, almost exactly 2 years since we last lived there, was in itself was a very strange experience as it was pretty much exactly as we'd left it!  "Home Sweet Home" as the doormat says!  Can't get too comfy though....  The sale of our flat is taking longer than expected but we can't complain too much about missing paperwork and annoying delays because otherwise we'd not have a place to base ourselves whilst we were back up in Durham!  Another lesson to remind us there's a bright side to everything!
On Friday morning, we woke up naturally and early which allowed us time for our regular morning meditation practice, despite knowing there was a long day ahead -  over 250 miles to drive and many planned stops along the way.  After this we packed the last few things into the hire car, stripped our bedsheets and hoovered round after ourselves.  I went with Dad on his early morning walk with Sam and we sat and had a small fruit breakfast together before saying our final goodbyes just after 9.30am.

We had originally only planned to stay one or two nights at Stone when we were planning our return but as we were driving away I felt really grateful for this unexpectedly opportunity to spend some relaxed ('normal') time with Dad.  In the last 10 years living in Durham, when we have visited my parents, either in Stone or in Holland, it has always been for an 'event' or a quick visit squeezed in between work commitments when we were in the area.  Our times together have always been lovely but always very busy as we all try and make the most of the precious time together and very different to if we were just living round the corner and could pop by from time-to-time.  This visit allowed us all to get on with our own things during the day and yet come together around mealtimes, dog walks or sit with a cup of tea catching up at the end of the day.  It was sad that my mum wasn't here too and we all missed her but it was nice to think, and also receive pictures via email, of her and Oma (grandma) spending some quality time together too.

So as we waved goodbye to Dad, it felt really strange to be leaving in a hire car, packed full with what had been until a week earlier the contents of our motorhome not really knowing what was to come next!  It was also very strange not just because we were in a car and not a motorhome but because it was also the first time either Dan or I had driven an automatic car and one with a push button handbrake. Actually it had been quite funny - the difficulty we had trying to drive off from the rental companies forecourt causing quite a queue - what must the people in the office been thinking!  We soon got the hang of it though, put on some music and settled into the first leg of the drive.

So first stop was Leicester Forest East services - yes very glamorous!  Here we had arranged to meet the lovely couple who had bought Homer to drop off some of Homer's accessories which had been stored in Nottingham and so hadn't been with us when the motorhome was collected - extra curtains, decorative arm rests, cushions etc which we had elected to leave behind when we set off in 2014.  It was lovely to hear how they were getting on, still as excited about Homer as when they had collected her and looking forward to their first trip away.  It really made us so happy to see them again and confirmed that we had done the right thing selling Homer.  After 12 months of searching for their first motorhome, they were so excited to start their adventures in her and it really reminded us of how we had felt back in early 2014.  For us it was time for new adventures of our own and whilst still a wonderful motorhome, our travel preferences and style has evolving so we know it was the right thing to have let Homer go.... even if it had been a little unnerving just how quick it had all happened!

So onwards to our next stop..... Nottingham, to once again stop by and visit Dan's family.  First stop Nana and Grandad for a catch up whilst we had some lunch (soup I'd made whilst in Spain using split peas I'd bought in France but that I'd frozen so were now eating in Britain - very strange!).  Dan's Uncle unexpectedly popped by to visit his mum and dad so we got to see him again (having seen him last week at the wedding).  

After stocking up on goods and organic veggies to take up to Durham from 'Out of This World', a really well stocked organic supermarket in Beeston, we passed by Dan's grandparent's to say goodbye and dropped in on Dan's Dad to have a quick catch up before getting back on the M1 for the next part of the journey.

Sadly by this time, because of the time of day, the traffic had built up and it reminded us that traffic jams were a bit more fun in a motorhome! But eventually we made it to near Wakefield and took the small detour to find ourselves outside the home of a wonderful lady, Kath, who has this year adopted our beautiful bunny Missy.

We weren't keeping our blog updated so much over summer when it all happened and I've always intended to write a bit more about it but haven't yet.  When we left so quickly in 2014 and expected to come back after 8-10 months, a fantastic and very kind-hearted person (I say person but through meeting her via the bunnies I feel very fortunate to now call her a friend), Erica, came forward to foster two of our houserabbits, Thumper and Missy.  We are so very grateful to Erica and her family and also Trish and her family, who fostered our other pair of bunnies Wish and Alfie, that when we needed to get away following Dan's health scare they came forward to provide such wonderful loving foster homes, giving us peace of mind and allowing us to go off on our journey.

The actual events are a little more involved, and maybe I will write about it sometime as it was a very difficult consideration and decision to formally have our pets adopted when we decided to continue our travels, but for now I will keep to the short version.  When Thumper, over 8 years old, sadly died, Missy needed a new permanent home and also a new bunny friend.  Missy's profile and story, which we'd posted on rabbitrehome.org.uk, touched Kath as her boy bunny Bertie had recently lost his female partner.  After several emails, phone calls with us and Kath going to meet Missy at Erica's parents house, Missy moved to Kath's and the bunny bonding / courting began.  It wasn't smooth at first but with help and support from the wonderful founder of the Yorkshire Rabbit Retreat, a few weeks later Missy and Bertie had fallen in bunny love.  (Two things to say here - bonding two bunnies can be surprisingly more difficult than you might think and secondly many people actually don't know just how many rabbits are abandoned each year, in excess of 33,000 are taken to rescues according to official figures and plenty more just let go).

So it was just wonderful to finally meet Kath in person and see Missy all set up in her new home with her beautiful new husbun, Bertie.  After a few hours and plenty of cuddles and nose rubs, sadly it was time to start the last leg of our journey.

So back onto the A1(M) and home within 90 mins so we could be in bed by 11pm, or so we thought.  Sadly there was a massive late night diversion which had us going cross country, over tiny bridges and down country lanes, seeing all the sights of County Durham, or so it felt like at that time of night!  Finally we rolled into Durham, reached our flat, took in just what we need, made up the bed - strangely we've picked the smaller spare room (maybe because we're just to used to being in a small space after 2 years of motorhome living?!?) and could barely keep our eyes open.  It just felt very strange, almost surreal to be back in the flat.  We were very grateful that it had been left so clean and tidy by the outgoing tenants and everything was almost exactly the same as we'd left it 2 years ago!

So a long post - different and unexpected for me - not very motorhome or adventure related but a big day for us down memory lane for many reasons as you can see .......  


  1. Glad you made it home safely! Must be strange.... Yes, I can imagine. Still lots more adventures to come up and lots more posts, is what I hope for. Always very interesting to read even if it's not a motorhome adventure. Being so open on the subjects you write about, it feels like reading a friend's post! All the best!

    1. It really means a lot to receive your comment this morning. Thank you.


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