Warning: it's a long one so maybe grab a cup of tea or a glass of wine and settle down for a good read!
How has another year simply flown by and, even more shocking, how is it two years since I had that first mammogram that resulted in my brush with breast cancer. Talking of which, don't let routine check ups slide for whatever bits and bobs you might have - that includes the chaps too!
So, what have we been up to this year? Well, we haven't traveled extensively unfortunately but it just seems super hard to find the time to get away for an extended period these days. Tabitha is enjoying regular activities that she is committed to and that makes it hard to just hit the road.
It's been an exciting year even so, we waved farewell to faithful old Eileen in the spring. It was hard to see her go but she just wasn't getting the action and adventure she was made for. Luckily we were able keep it in the Karmann family and acquire a very cool Karmann Karuso orginally named Karl and now re-named Kiki. In my all time favourite colour green she has all of Eileen's home comforts in a much reduced footprint. We've enjoyed a few trips including Snowdonia and Anglesey where we recreated an iconic shot:
We were invited to speak at the 10th Anniversary meeting of Chester Globetrotters in November - not only a great honour but a great opportunity to catch up with friends on Anglesey and re-create the classic Llanfair shot!
Our other moving home, NB Midnight Blue gave us a fright back in February when the engine over ran on a routine visit to the service point. With great gouts of black smoke billowing up from beneath my feet and the engine revving like crazy we slammed into the bank at high speed in reverse. I desperately hit the kill switch and turned the ignition key to no avail. Turned out the fuel injector pump had been leaking and subsequently diluting the oil with diesel, eventually filling the sump which then ignited. It's called an 'over run' and can result in major engine damage.
It's been on ongoing saga but there have been some great positives and the short story is, we have a replacement engine which is still being tweaked but the whole sorry drama brought us to a new home mooring.
We are now a day's cruise further north, which is approximately 15 minutes by car, in a marina next to a brilliant pub and with a fabulous community. I've even started working in the shop a couple of days a week which I am enjoying tremendously!
And now we are settling in for winter in both the warmth of a fab community and a fab stove - which Dixy certainly appreciates!
We've both kept ourselves busy with new activities this year which have included getting back into a Dragon Boat for me.
The Paddlers for Life initiative was born from research that showed the benefits of paddling in breast cancer patients and earlier this year Oxford Paddlers for Life came into being. It was mid summer before Tabitha and I could get in a boat but once we did we were hooked!
Tabitha is a natural born paddler, which isn't really surprising given she has grown up with paddling and paddlers all around her. I am so proud of her and I am so grateful to this club of wonderful people all having been affected by cancer in some form - be it breast cancer or another form or as a relative or friend of someone affected.
The community and friendship we have found here is incredible. I am also learning to helm and absolutely loving the experience! Unfortunately we haven't been on the water for ages due to the crazy flooding!
New skills and hobbies for Tabitha have included dying her hair and teaching herself to play bass amongst other things!
We've had a couple of fabulous trips this year albeit not in the camper. Way back in Feb, what seems like a lifetime ago we flew out to Krabi in Thailand and had an amazing week with my awesome sister. Beach bars, beers, boats and a cooking class - absolutely fantastic! In the summer we made it to the top of Snowdon up Pyg Track with a group of old and wonderful friends.
Tabitha's home ed journey continues and she's now head down and studying for three iGCSEs; Biology, English Language and Environmental Management. We are lucky to have a great home ed community and Tabitha enjoys group learning so she's joined study groups for each topic. An IGCSE is an International GCSE and differs slightly from the standard GCSE. Tabitha has to sit as an independent candidate at an exam centre. It's a bit complex, slightly tricky and of course it costs for both tuition, exam papers, exam centre fees and admin fees. Home ed is NOT the cheap or easy option believe me!
However, it is the option that allows my daughter to follow her interests, discover her passions and discover the world and who she is with freedom. Her independence and maturity grow hand in hand, she enjoys solo trips to the V&A when I am at meetings on London. Recently she had 'the best night of her life' at a gig at Brixton Academy - nowhere I'd have had the courage to go to when I was 14. I hasten to add she was with a friend and I was just around the corner!!
Despite deliberately choosing to live a smaller footprint lifestyle we can't survive without some form of income - especially when engines blow up!
As for me, I have been continuing to develop those portfolio income streams in the form of web design/build, social media stuff and a bit of consultancy work.
However the BIG news here is that I acquired the Mohobo brand earlier this year. It's an online shop of fun and quirky motorhome and campervan related gifts and accessories. Originally an idea brought to life by another travelling family, I did some social media marketing for the brand a year ago and loved it.
So it's been a huge year of learning all about e-commerce. I have built a new website Mohobo, Tabitha and I did our first trade show, I've learned a great deal about SEO and I've introduced new lines.
Currently Mohobo products are flying out the door in the Christmas rush - if you'd like to order a t-shirt I'm closing my order book on 12th December to make sure delivery in time for Xmas. Other items such as mugs, cushions and bags that I have in stock can still be ordered up to 17th December though.
I'd be delighted if you had a look at the website, liked the Facebook Page and I'd be absolutely thrilled if you found something you'd like to buy! Sign up to the newsletter and you'll get a discount on your first order too.
I am so enjoying this experience and truly hope Mohobo will be a huge success!
So, as the 2019 slides away and I reflect on so many lovely memories and acknowledge that there has been times of darkness and challenge too. There is so much more that happened this year that I haven't mentioned but I feel I've waffled on quite long enough!
Thanks for getting this far, thanks for following our adventures and supporting our endeavours - we get a huge kick out of knowing people are enjoying the tales we tell!
Wishing you all a very much love and a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!
ps: I've also produced the outline for a book I intend to write in 2020