AND WE'RE OFF...
We finally managed to find a van that fitted our requirement; affordable. And it does go, but not always at the first turn of the key, which we discovered to our peril. It cost us £800 so we really just want it to get us as far as the south of France and then anything from there on we will see as a providential bonus.
Over the final days at the farm we packed up the van trying to squeeze everything we can in along with just enough health and safety to remain responsible parents and celebrated Ira's first Birthday. We didn't expect to still be in Somerset but it was a beautiful place to be and, too stressed to start baking amongst the chaos, we set a candle on top a pile of raspberries and strawberries from my Mum's polytunnel. Despite the pressure to start the renovation (so by the time the cold weather comes biting we are no longer in the tent) I tried to accept what is beyond our control and enjoy the unexpected prolonged stay in England and Ira's Birthday tea on the lawn with family was something to treasure.
We left early on the Saturday morning to fit in a quick trip to Bournemouth to see some of our most beloved friends before catching the ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg. There was a lot of tension in the air as we hoped fervently that the van would in fact drive and despite the weight of all our tools and other essentials in the back manage to climb hills. Which it did and we were happy.
After a perfect morning with our friends, leaving the beach in Bournemouth the van decided not to start. No apparent reason, just turning over nicely but not starting. Half an hour of repeatedly turning the key (I think we were too stressed to think of anything else to do) it finally fired up and we were away. We caught the ferry with barely minutes to spare. I think the adrenaline of the previous hour pushed aside any feelings of sadness as we watched the south coast recede behind us. The sheer relief of not having to spend more money on anything else associated with a vehicle overshadowed any other feelings. It felt like we had overcome the impossible by catching the ferry and we celebrated by sitting down.