Getting trip fit for 2015

The countdown to a trip usually begins for us at three months to go…

In this time we need to check all of Bertha’s systems – motor wise and habitation wise – book and carry out repairs and replacements, test out all new fittings, fully clean her inside and out, dry clean all removable livery, replace or restock all accessories and plan our packing. It’s all about the payload, the maximum permitted weight that we can add to her when travelling to ensure she is safe and we travel economically.

Spring at Beachy Head
Spring at Beachy Head

Payload also applies to us. It means we must improve our own personal fitness and lose some of our own weight…

An Easter break at Beachy Head meant we could re-commission Bertha’s gas, electricity and water systems over a weekend of long hikes and the occasional pint in a pub.

Beachy Head is a strange place to visit. The cliff walks are spectacular but you feel haunted by the sadness of those for whom it’s a place to leave this life. One wild windy night walking back from the pub in the sea mist we encountered something strange and inhuman. We were grateful for the passing chaplains who taxied us back to our campsite and questioned us intently about our experience.

The weekend tested our nerves and our hiking legs which just about made the grade but Bertha needed new leisure batteries. Bertha is a little like ‘trigger’s broom’ in that she has so far had several replacement leisure batteries, water pumps, wheels, new exhuast, steering rack, a new refillable ‘gaslow’ system, new bike rack a host of new accessories inside.

River Arun walks
Spring walks up and down the River Arun

Passing by Ford Marina every day on the train meant the opportunity to spend a couple of visits camping at the Ship and Anchor pub and using the local railway station for the commute to work. Ford is perfectly placed for walks to Arundel and the South Downs to the north, and to Littlehampton and along the coast for the south. We marched ourselves along the River Arun to build up fitness whilst testing again all of Bertha’s habitation systems and newly-fitted batteries.

A week in France staying on aires along the Normandy coast gave us the chance to return to favourite stops and put some miles down with the new steering rack. Thankfully none of the old problems recurred so we declared Bertha to be officially ‘trip fit’ and marked the day of our departure on our kitchen calendar for Saturday 1 August…

Now we need to book a ferry.