Very sadly Mary passed away on 23rd May 2020.
She had been diagnosed with throat cancer the previous June, undergone a difficult Radiotherapy treatment which had reduced but not eliminated the tumour. We were told in February there was no further treatment.
Unfortunately the Coronavirus lockdown made enjoying the later months of her life difficult – not being able to meet family was the hardest for her. She did become very good at video calling though but it’s really not the same.
So this blog is now just about me and what I do now just for myself but always with her in mind.
The Original Story
We met in 2002 – both of us with two previous marriages behind us. It wasn’t long before we realised we were meant for each other.
I had always been a stay at home kind of person – just days out to the seaside etc when the kids were small but nothing adventurous.
Mary had for many years been holidaying in Corfu with her second husband John.
Together we have tried to take annual holidays over the years to places like Cyprus, various Greek islands, Spain and Portugal. Our sense of adventure was peeked and the idea of exploring more of these places by Motorhome or caravan started to grow.
In 2008 Mary retired from her job in a local Esso garage as her body was not allowing her to work in the way their new work practices required and anyway she had ‘done enough’.
In 2010 we both gave up smoking and with the money we saved we bought a Mobility scooter from Mary’s Dad and our first WAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle) from Ebay. This was the start. Harrison (we name all our vehicles) took us to lots of places and we started to explore much more than we had ever been able to before. Mary on her scooter and me walking beside her using the wheelchair when required (shops and restaurants etc). This was great for a while until my knees started to give out and walking became more and more uncomfortable. We came up with some innovative solutions. A trailer we attached to Mary’s scooter worked well for exploring during the day and a metal T connector to tow the wheelchair with me in it. The later was good for when going to eat in the evening. Use the wheelchair (behind scooter) to get to the restaurant then Mary used it inside.
So our UK holidays became more frequent, staying in Premier Inns and exploring the local attractions. We did still try and take a foreign break each year taking the wheelchair with us but the airport issues we experienced could only be endured for so long.
In early 2014 we bought a 10 year old LDV panel van again through Ebay and kitted it out inside to our requirements. Lilly (Lilly Day Van) had the front half as a dinette and the rear as a large garage. It contained the 2 Mobility Scooters, wheelchair, clean and grey water tanks and LPG bottle as well as all the electrics for charging the scooters and powering accessories (water pump, reversing camera’s etc). With Lilly we have explored even more – still using Premier Inns but latterly staying in Holiday caravans for short breaks as well.
Mary had a bit of a health scare in September 2015 so after getting her fixed I decided that it was time to get things moving on the retirement front. I had never intended to work to state retirement age (66 in my case) but I was going to go for a bit longer just to pay off a few outstanding things and do it gradually. I started paying off big time and managed to retire at the end of September 2016. The Brexit vote also helped me as the change in value of my investments meant I had a nice surprise when cashing in my Pension AVC’s as a lump sum. We would be able to spend a bit more on the Motorhome as well as getting a newer WAV and a box trailer for the scooters etc.
So that is where we are as I write this. I am gradually kitting out the trailer (Black Betty) with solar panels – 1 additional leisure battery (with allocated room for a second). I have configured the panels so they can either charge the 12v Leisure battery or the 24v batteries of the two scooters. There is a 2.8Kw petrol generator as a backup for wild camping – hopefully not to be used very often as it’s not a cheap option.
Black Betty Update
I have removed the generator which was bigger and heavier than I at first thought, especially when full of 20 litres of fuel. We have found that most UK camp sites don’t allow their use anyway.
This allowed for easier loading of the wheelchair as well as stowage of a couple of leisure chairs and a sun parasol.
The addition of a Motor Mover to help manoeuvre her around has meant some additional steel work at the front which has added a little to the hitch weight but we are still under the maximum stated on the tow bar.
I have configured the mains electrics to run through Betty on the way to Voyager so that when we are onsite with hook-up we can recharge the scooters overnight. When not we will have to use the solar panels for some time during the day. Using the rest of the available daylight for the leisure batteries (1 in Betty & 1 in Voyager).