|Dear Old Blighty.... A Fray Bentos lorry!|
What this means is that the cost of our particular style of motorhoming has risen by 13% in the past year and since our first extended trip in 2014 costs have increased by 25%. Of course it is difficult to identify the precise the reasons for this because costs and inflation rates differ from country to country, fuel prices fluctuate due to the vagaries of the global commodities markets and our own behaviour differs from trip to trip - sometimes we eat out more, sometimes we use more free spots to overnight in. Two things however are irrefutable - weakening sterling due to Brexit and the fact that our Teachers Pensions - our sole income - have only risen by 2.2% over the past three years. After our first big trip we worked out that it was actually cheaper to drive around southern Europe during the winter months than it was living at home, even factoring the fuel cost, ferry fares and campsite fees. This is probably not quite the case anymore. Prices have risen both at home and abroad and our income is not keeping place. It will not reduce our enthusiasm for travel - if you are going to feel skint then on the grounds of health benefits alone it has to be preferable to feel the pinch somewhere warm and sunny.
Which brings me to the question of 'where next'? In the medium term there's an easy answer to that - on February 2nd we head off to New Zealand for six week with a stopover in Singapore on the outward leg and Shanghai when we fly back. All very exciting - we will be travelling by car and staying in motels rather than hiring a camper; we figured that a car was more flexible given we are mixing city visits with more remote areas and flying into Auckland and out from Christchurch.
Beyond that the question of where next becomes a more profound one as we are determined to move house during 2018 - most likely to Shrewsbury. After thoroughly exploring North Devon and Sussex last summer and settling on the idea of living near Ipswich or Felixstowe we had a day out in Shrewsbury and had a 'Yes!' moment - it just felt like somewhere we would feel at home in.
We discussed with the estate agent we had around in September to value our house how important it was for the place to be occupied while it was on the market. With remarkable candour he explained that he preferred taking people around while the owners were out as they had a tendency to point out the faults! So no problem with us heading off during the sales period. Once the house is sold we can concentrate on finding a new home in Shrewsbury; if there are none to our liking we could always rent for a couple of months.
So, May and June we are thinking Denmark and the south of Sweden for six weeks or so. After then I guess we will have to concentrate on the house move. Roll on 2018; this year has been difficult, maybe next will be a little less fraught.