Monday, 6 October 2014

Ways and means

I'm now making my way back to Sussex, and I've stopped for three nights at Coombe Bissett, near Salisbury. If I moved to North Devon, I would want to visit the South East regularly, every month or so at the beginning, and the two farms I like to visit - Pennings Farm at Coombe Bissett (here), and Curlew Farm at Lyme Regis - both open all year - would be used as places to break my journey for a night or two on the way over to Sussex, or when coming back. This is a most pleasant prospect. At the Sussex end, I could stay on one of several sites convenient to Brighton, or South West London, or the nearer parts of Kent. I don't want to abandon friends and family. I want to have my cake and eat it.

This requires personal effort, of course. Not everyone would like to yo-yo constantly between North Devon and Sussex, which are 250 miles apart, each visit needing a minimum of 500 miles' towing, for naturally I'd be using my caravan. But I am well used to caravan trips, and it would be possible to make the outward or return leg part of a longer holiday tour, and not just a routine journey. So a North Devon-Sussex-Cotswolds-North Devon circuit, with a host of variations, might become the norm. This is all quite apart from forays into Wales, Eastern England, Northern England, and Scotland, which will all be an easier proposition from North Devon. And I don't see how this is very different from, say, a Londoner driving off to a Peak District cottage each weekend, and enjoying a social life in two places at once.

Touring is a wonderful stimulation for me. I want to do it assiduously for at least ten more years. After that, I may scale it down. That depends on my health and energy levels. All I can say for sure on those things is that caravanning keeps you active; and that home-making in North Devon would energise me, with additionally the obvious scope for fine coastal and moorland walks in the area. And I'd have a bus pass. The local bus services in my target area are very frequent and very useful - quite different from the sparse services in my Sussex village. These things might encourage me to drive less, and use my legs more. I'd still drive to Plymouth or Taunton; but a day out in Exeter, or Torquay, or Exmouth, could easily be a bus-and-train affair, with plenty of footwork involved.

Would I have enough money? Those routine there-and-back trips to Sussex would cost me £300 each, taking into account fuel, site fees for a week away, extra motoring while there, and social expenditure. Offset by what I'd spend anyway on my ordinary social and travel expenditure at home. So say £250 net. And I've just thought of another thing that would help cover a big chunk of the cost.

After setting up my North Devon home, I might have sufficient left over to buy extra State Pension. I'll have to check, but I think I will be able to buy an extra £25 a week (call it £100 a month) for £23,350. That might be worth doing.

Odd, isn't it. Yesterday I was excited but daunted by the notion of moving. Now I am looking for ways to make it all come true. Perhaps I needed a big project like this. I have pretty well completed the vitally important series of personal changes that began in 2008. It's time to build on that, time for a different challenge.

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