- July - tell family and friends about the idea - get their feedback, revel slightly in new novelty status of 'nutters we know', take on board all of their concerns, questions, ideas and suggestions (except ones like 'stop being so bloody stupid,of course you can't go off for a year doing a mad thing like that!' which we just ignored). Join WWOOF and start looking at potential hosts, reading out all of the ones who accept children and drawing up a short list of ones to contact.
- August - Start Operation Crap Clear and being building up Campervan Fund. Plot hosts from shortlist onto a map and work out a provisional route for the year.
- September - continue Operation Crap Clear, begin contacting first round of hosts in Zone one and start booking WWOOFing matches for March, April and May. Give notice on allotment.
- October -begin contacting Zone two hosts for theoretical bookings in June, July and August with dates to be firmed up nearer the time. Further Crap Clearing including getting rid of summer clothes now the season has changed. Begin finding homes for chickens and ducks. Look into notice periods for sky tv, BT phoneline, broadband supplier, mobile phone contracts etc.
- November get my car MOT'd (it's due in December but you can get 13 month tickets). Try to sell car and buy campervan with raised funds, saved money from frugal lifestyle over last few months. Finish Operation Crap clear so house is empty save for essentials.
- December Get used to life without car, finish all kids 'afterschool' activities, decorate house and get rental agents in to view it, choose one or more and let them start marketing house for rent.
- January give notice at work, contact hosts to firm up bookings for Zone one, contact Zone three hosts for theoretical booking of dates, rehome animals, secure tenant for house. Give notice to all monthly paying things which won't continue while we're away. Do final CrapClear so all remaining is being stored or coming with us. Organise insurances for house and campervan.
- February MOT campervan, box up things for storage and move to parents house, host goodbye party, leave jobs, pack up van, wave goodbye to house and head off for year of adventure and enlightenment on March 1st!
We decided to research some campervans to get our heads round how much space is inside one, what it might feel like to be in the driving seat of one, what sort of designs are around and what our favoured make and model might be. We were anticipating a budget of between £2000 and £3500 with £1000 coming from the sale of my car, £1000 coming from money we'd saved, £500 from things we'd sold and a possible loan from my Dad which I'd not asked him about yet to top up if needed. We've been looking on ebay and other internet sites and this seemed a realisic budget for something suitable although we had reservations about buying off ebay unless we were close enough to go and view it first. So we headed over to a localish caravan and campervan dealer to look at the 50 or so vans on his forecourt. They ranged in price from £80,000 down to £8000 and from gorgeous luxury to one I wouldn't have wanted to be drive somewhere in let alone put my head down and sleep in. We concluded that we wanted as compact as possible design-wise, with an over-the-cab bed for the kids, a toilet is a necessity and a rear windscreen with a rear view mirror would make a far less scary driving prospect for me.
A friend had pointed out a couple of vans for sale in the local free ad paper the day before but as we only had the first £750 in the fund (from savings and carboot sales and ebay) we were not at all ready to be looking. On the way home from looking at the dealer though we decided on the spur of the moment to ring one of the free ad sellers. The ad was a bit rubbish, there was a typo in the model (Bedford cf instead of Bedford CS) and it didn't say what berth the van was. I rang to check and was told it was four berth so arranged to go round and look at it the following day in a ruse to get the address and go and sneakily check it out. To be honest we just wanted to see what a van within our budget (advertised for £2500) looked like having been quite horrified at the vans for £8000 on the dealers forecourt which had damp, scruffy, smelly interiors with stained carpet, skanky curtains and the odour of cigarette smoke and wet dog. We were both dealing with slightly sinking hearts at the realisation it might all be not quite as feasible as we'd hoped.
The seller lives not far from us and on first glance the van looked great, so much so that we rang on the doorbell and introduced ourselves, blowing our cover of sneaking round for a peek and had a look inside. The sellers were lovely, an older couple who have traded up to a caravan having had the camper for a year and taken their grandchildren off on holiday in it. The woman showed D and S round, letting them climb the ladder to the bunk that would be their bed and encouraging them to open all the cupboards and look at everything while A and I looked round the exterior and had a sit in the cab. We promised to ring with a decision one way or the other the following day and then came home to agonise.
On the plus side we had fallen for the van, the kids loved it, it ticked every single one of the boxes we'd drawn up earlier that day about design, was clean and tidy inside and out and a five minute drive from home. On the downside we had less than a third of the money and it was not scheduled for another three months!
Come payday on Friday we'd have the rest of the money to make up to £1000 so I talked to my parents about subbing us another £1000 until I sold my car and planned to make an offer of £2000 for the van. My parents came over with me for a second look, the sellers accepted £2000 and I paid them a deposit and arranged to go and drive the van away on Friday.
So, we're well ahead of schedule on getting the van, we're well under budget on buying the van and one of the biggest steps along the way, getting the transport and home for the year is already sorted.
Now, off to re-jiggle that schedule...