Dismiss Notice
MONTHLY PHOTO COMPS ARE BACK!

Get your camera out, take the best shots of your life and submit them to the photo competition!

Please Click Here!

Changing gear/lifestyle...

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussion' started by Fat Controller, Sep 6, 2021.

  1. Fat Controller

    Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2012
    Messages:
    22,596
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Public Transport
    Location:
    At me 'puter, GCHQ Ashford Office, Middlesex
    Ratings:
    +42,381
    Rather than clutter up @Upsydaisy's thread, I thought it best to start a separate thread regarding what has been milling around and building in my head for quite some time.... get a cuppa or skip to the next post, but for those that want the background, read on...

    As most of you know, in 2018 I had what was probably the closest call with the big man upstairs that anyone could have, and that started a change in my life really. Up until that time, probably for a good 18 years or more I was working full time plus; most weeks I would be dong 70 or 80 hours without fail. The work varied from doing my day job (management) through to coordinating and running event services and even driving buses/coaches when the need arose. 2018 saw that come to an abrupt halt.

    I returned to work officially in October 2018, however I still had a whole load of holiday to take so in reality I did not return properly until January 2019. At the time I keeled over I had the threat of redundancy hanging over me and that hadn't actually gone away by the time I went back - there was a lot of work to be done, but a lack of clarity as to who was responsible so it was a case of roll the sleeves up and get on with it. Over the course of the following seven months, a fellow manager essentially had a bit of a breakdown so he went off sick and one of the other senior staff got himself into that spiral where he was less and less happy.... then a new guy was brought in on one of the other management roles that this senior guy thought should be his... implosion soon followed and he tendered his resignation. This chucked up a lot of problems (now August/September 2019 when I returned from my annual leave) not least because many of the systems and processes in place in the department were designed by him and were in his head.

    The new guy was not interested in learning any of the existing processes (in his head he wanted things his way, but hadn't a clue how to get things that way) and we were about to fall into a massive problem. I persuaded the senior guy to postpone his leaving and at least pass on his knowledge to me. He did so, thankfully, finally leaving mid-December.

    The work we do is remarkably complex (writing bus schedules, controlling duty rosters and data that feeds payroll, tendering for and operating contracts that run into the millions) - if there is a change such as seasonal changes, it is down to us to create and implement it. Christmas 2019 was 'fun' to say the least as I still very much had my L-plates on, and it took many evenings and even weekends to get us through. I breathed a bit of a sigh of relief in January 2020 and I set about getting things a bit more organised and trying to learn a bit more about the software I had been left with (designed in the 70's, brought into use in the early 80's, so old...)

    Then, in February 2020 the world went slowly mad. I was banished to work at home, and we then discovered that the software we had would simply not do the changes that we needed to do to accommodate the contractual requests flying at us each week. I dug in and went down to working with the bare comma delimited files and did it manually. 16 hours per day, 6 or 7 days per week. I gave up keeping track when I got to 400 hours over my contracted hours as I knew I wasn't going to get paid for it.

    Christmas 2020 was predictably messy as we were at that point straddling two software systems (slowly changing over) so still working a lot of hours over every week.

    Then the keel over happened on May 13th and stopped me again.

    Speaking to a consultant week before last, he showed me the CT scans that they took whilst I was in hospital. There was a remarkable amount of clots in both pulmonary arteries. In short, I was lucky that the blockage that took me down was still letting a little bit by and stayed relatively still - - if it or one of its cousins decided to move, it would have been curtains. My lungs are fairly comprehensively knackered - they are better than they were in as much that I am breathing better, but they will never be 'normal' again. As you can imagine, this was a bit of a kick up the backside.
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 7
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • Fat Controller

      Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

      Joined:
      May 5, 2012
      Messages:
      22,596
      Gender:
      Male
      Occupation:
      Public Transport
      Location:
      At me 'puter, GCHQ Ashford Office, Middlesex
      Ratings:
      +42,381
      So, with all of the above taken into consideration, we then attempted to have some leisure time during our three weeks annual leave... with a budget of zero.

      We did manage some nice days away (Birling Gap/Seven Sisters, Bournemouth and Wales being the main ones) but yet again it was another year where we didn't do much and what we did do loaded me up with driving as I am the only driver in the family. It was difficult to find places that would accept Fletch, and at the same time be accessible for me still being 'not the best' on my feet. Wales was a day of 470 miles and 12 hours driving (13½ hours in the car all in) with Bournemouth being the very next day.

      To say I was knackered is an understatement.

      We haven't had a holiday in 16 years and have never had a holiday abroad, nor will we realistically be able to go abroad because we have Fletch - in fairness, we would be happy to have a holiday in the UK but even the cost of that is absolutely insane at times... especially this year. Bluntly, I am tired - actually, I would even go as far as to say I am burnt out. I need leisure time, but away from the same four walls if that makes sense?

      So, my thoughts have turned to what I can do about this situation. Up front, I am quite heavily in debt so that poses some problems; part of that is the car which is a PCP deal. However, the car is essentially a commuter-mobile for 97% of its life. We do need a car, absolutely, but do we need that car.... don't get me wrong, it is a 4 year old car with 30,000 on the clock and has absolutely nothing wrong with it. It is cheap as chips to run in terms of fuel consumption, but it costs a lot each month.

      If I can sort things out a bit, I am pretty hell-bent on getting a motorhome, simply because it would allow us to have a holiday in this country at relatively low cost (most sites are less than £20 per night which includes hook up and facilities) and mean that I don't have to drive across country and then back in one day whilst we can still accommodate Fletch.

      A caravan is not completely out of consideration, but I have nowhere to store a caravan. I have a driveway that I have had a minibus parked on some time ago, so I could (just) squeeze a campervan. I suppose there are places that will rent space to store a caravan, but that is added cost. Plus, I have no towbar on the car and truthfully I don't think it is ideally suited to towing.

      We are being as realistic as we can be too - we realise that we are going to have to settle for something that is a bit of a project as motorhomes are strong money (especially with covid tax) but there are some that you could do something with, without much trouble. I saw one today that although old is in good shape interior wise; it has damage to the rear corner (fibreglass repair needed from what I can gather) and it needs a bonnet as well as a bit of recommissioning; basically, it is a winter project whilst it is SORN'ed. I reckon it could be bought for £2500 or less. Sadly, I am not in a position to do anything about it currently but that gives an indication of where I am thinking.

      I'd be interested to hear from any of you have have had campervans or caravans, the upsides and the downsides.

      I'll get onto relocation thoughts a bit later on...
       
      • Friendly Friendly x 4
      • Like Like x 1
      • ricky101

        ricky101 Total Gardener

        Joined:
        Jun 15, 2016
        Messages:
        2,308
        Gender:
        Male
        Location:
        Sheffield
        Ratings:
        +3,010
        Hi @Fat Controller

        A lot to consider there, but two things cross our minds, first how old are you, and second do you have any options for early retirement or voluntary redundancy with a liveable pension value before the state pension ?
         
        • Friendly Friendly x 2
        • Fat Controller

          Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

          Joined:
          May 5, 2012
          Messages:
          22,596
          Gender:
          Male
          Occupation:
          Public Transport
          Location:
          At me 'puter, GCHQ Ashford Office, Middlesex
          Ratings:
          +42,381
          Sadly not - I am 45, no pension value to speak of. By the time I retire in 22 years time, my additional pension pot is estimated to be only worth taking as a lump sum, but that is then. Currently, I will definitely need to stay working, and now that I had to let my PCV licence lapse because of my health, I don't have that fallback as a different job either, so I really wouldn't want redundancy now.

          In all of this is the thoughts of moving away from where we are too - much longer term of course, but we would like to get away from this M25/city sort of area. How achievable that is remains to be seen.

          More than anything at the moment, I am looking to try and get at least something out of our annual leave time - not wanting anything fancy to be fair, just to stop somewhere nice and quiet and have a beer under the stars... I did consider a tent, but I am not really built for camping nowadays, hence my thinking toward a campervan. Again, this is not going to happen next week or anything as I simply don't have the funds to do so - but, I have that in my mind and if I could sort things out and get even a fixer-upper to some degree, I would.
           
          • Friendly Friendly x 1
          • gks

            gks Gardener

            Joined:
            Feb 28, 2021
            Messages:
            418
            Gender:
            Male
            Occupation:
            Production Manager
            Location:
            Cumbria
            Ratings:
            +1,367
            I have no experience of campers or caravans but if you need to get away for a break and on a budget, then have you checked out Airbnb for accommodation

            For example, checking in at Pembrokeshire end of October for 1 week you could get a Seaview holiday home that sleeps 5 people for £288 for 7 nights. Or a 1 Bedroom holiday lodge in St- Austell.
            One Bedroomed Holiday Lodge near St Austell - Cabins for Rent in St Austell, England, United Kingdom (airbnb.co.uk)

            I always use this platform when I go to Thailand and Vietnam. I just use the filters, stating when and where plus my budget, then you can see all the properties within in your budget. Might be worth looking into.
             
          • Fat Controller

            Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

            Joined:
            May 5, 2012
            Messages:
            22,596
            Gender:
            Male
            Occupation:
            Public Transport
            Location:
            At me 'puter, GCHQ Ashford Office, Middlesex
            Ratings:
            +42,381
            Possibly - however, there would be two flies in the ointment there, the first being the dog as many places simply will not accommodate a dog. The other is some of the family members - not wishing to disclose too much, but there are some social anxieties to work with, so even things like B&B would be out as it is someone else's house.

            This isn't for this year by the way, I am more seeking to change the future if that makes sense.
             
          • CanadianLori

            CanadianLori Total Gardener

            Joined:
            Sep 20, 2015
            Messages:
            7,204
            Occupation:
            Battle Axe
            Location:
            Oakville, Ontario, Canada Zone 5A
            Ratings:
            +21,662
            I had a tow along trailer many years ago. I never towed it anywhere but had it sited at a camp ground. My sons and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a different experience. Being compact, if you leave a coffee mug on the counter, the whole place looks cluttered. Okay, that's an exaggeration but you must be prepared for tight spaces. Not good for wheelchairs or walkers but probably just dandy for always having a sturdy surface to grasp for aiding unsteady mobility.

            It was a great place for the boys to run from sunrise to sunset, only returning for food. There were so many forests or shorelines to explore being out of the city. :)

            And calming. And you and Fletch will get lots of fresh air!
             
            • Like Like x 1
            • Friendly Friendly x 1
            • Fat Controller

              Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

              Joined:
              May 5, 2012
              Messages:
              22,596
              Gender:
              Male
              Occupation:
              Public Transport
              Location:
              At me 'puter, GCHQ Ashford Office, Middlesex
              Ratings:
              +42,381
              I did live in a caravan for a while when I was a youngster - freezing cold in the winter, I can tell you that. You are spot on about cramped spaces, so there would have to be some adjusting done by all of us in that respect, but then again you'd only be taking with you what you need rather than having cupboards full like home. Thankfully, no wheelchair now for quite a while - I am OK with my walking stick outdoors and can manage indoors without.

              I'm not wholly against towing a caravan, however the storage of one concerns me as I have zero space here, so I would have to rent somewhere for it. The upside of them is that they can be had for even less money, or to put it another way you can get quite a decent one for the same money as a dog rough camper - they are also better space wise too. I saw one yesterday that was absolutely stunning inside, but it was a big old trailer that would definitely force me into changing to a much bigger car.

              I suppose I have some hard choices to make really...

              Current car:
              Keep it and sit things out for another few years....

              Pros - only just about to turn 5 years old, low mileage, excellent condition, beautiful car, no faults, cheap to run, reliable, ULEZ compliant, could maybe tow something?
              Cons - high PCP payments, high VED payments for another year or so, towing ability questionable, balloon payment at the end of the PCP if I wanted to keep the car, diesel so potentially one of the next to be vilified by the powers that be and therefore be liable to ULEZ charges (currently around £15 per day)

              Get rid of the current car and get a cheaper car...

              Pros - drop in outgoings each month
              Cons - finding the funding up front to buy a cheaper car, prices of used cars being very high currently severely limits availability, potential to buy something that is wanting the spanners lifted every week as it would be a daily runner, potential damage to credit rating and potential payments required to pay off liability for this car (could be thousands depending on when it is done)


              Campervan:
              Pros - compact, should just about squeeze onto driveway, a fixer-upper could be worked on in the driveway with access to power for light/heat etc, choice of car is completely unlinked (exept perhaps for money)
              Cons - prices stay stubbornly high, good ones are not plentiful (may change with seasons), less space inside but some have awnings etc, another cost in terms of insurance, VED, MOT, repairs

              Caravan:
              Pros - bit more space than a campervan, more available at a lower price, no costs such as VED, MOT etc, although wise to have inspected regularly from a safety point of view.
              Cons - could force or be linked to a change of car for towing ability, storage, not quite so easy to use from a 'get in and go' point of view as there is more work to get going, towing is a bit more involved especially when you get out in the countryside which in turn makes you about as popular as a fart in a lift with other road users, harder to work on if they are in a fixer-upper state if not parked at home.

              Home:
              This is another strand that I will have to tug on at some stage - we need to stay where we are for now for Little C to at least finish college, but thereafter we could potentially go wherever we wanted. I may potentially have to commute into work a couple of days a week (or come in and overnight in a travel lodge (or camper!) maybe but for the most part I can work from home.
              On this one, I would welcome suggestions as to what parts of the country we should be considering.
               
            • shiney

              shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

              Joined:
              Jul 3, 2006
              Messages:
              51,990
              Gender:
              Male
              Occupation:
              Retired - Last Century!!!
              Location:
              Herts/Essex border. Zone 8b
              Ratings:
              +96,103
              Unfortunately I have no suggestions but we wish you all the best. :blue thumb:
               
              • Friendly Friendly x 2
              • Upsydaisy

                Upsydaisy Total Gardener

                Joined:
                Apr 26, 2017
                Messages:
                9,248
                Gender:
                Female
                Occupation:
                Taking time out to smell the flowers.
                Location:
                Hampshire. Zone 8b
                Ratings:
                +27,475
                I wish you all the best in the world FC, and really hope you find your ideal way to enjoy some very much needed leisure time with your family.

                I would absolutely love a campervan, a few of our friends have them and are always off somewhere. Hubs is not keen and, although I have passed my test I haven't driven now for many years, as the driver I respect his choice of any of our vehicles.

                We still have our caravan ( mainly used for storage now:heehee: ) ,and have many, many happy memories of holidays with our brood in it. It was always kept fully kitted out ...even with some basic tinned food to allow for a quick getaway should a weekend looked suddenly very promising!!
                We always used a big awning and this had a room divider section that was hubs and my bedroom , the 3 boys slept inside the van,( which can be made up with either 4 single beds or 2 double ...or a combination of the two) it also has a bathroom and obviously fully fitted kitchen ( albeit it small!!)
                Loved our holiday adventures!!
                We never went abroad with it , we use to rent mobile homes then.
                We are fortunate in that we have the storage space in our garden for it, but we have friends who don't and they have to use a storage provider.
                Hubs main concern with having a campervan ( and I can see his point) is that it would be our only means of transport once we had reached our destination...shopping and exploring etc. Years ago we would all use our bikes ..but not now . Hubs last bike experience landed him in hospital for a few days due to his heart issues and as it stands at the moment with my current problems I can't even jump on my exercise bike.

                So that may be something to take into account for you too!

                We have also been camping in France with our brood where everything was set up for you. We had a 3 bedroomed tent, all with proper beds!!! Not bad at all!!:)

                I hope you reach a decision that fits with all you family requirements and that many great holidays are on the horizon for you.xx
                 
                • Informative Informative x 1
                • Friendly Friendly x 1
                • Michael Hewett

                  Michael Hewett Total Gardener

                  Joined:
                  Mar 13, 2016
                  Messages:
                  1,572
                  Gender:
                  Male
                  Occupation:
                  Retired
                  Location:
                  Carmarthenshire Wales
                  Ratings:
                  +6,813
                  I don't know anything about camper vans, but it seems to me you are in the wrong job. Have you thought about a career change ? That job sob sounds horrendous and you need something less stressful. A holiday won't be any good if you have to return to that stress after it. The trouble with holidays is that they end and then you're back to square one.

                  (I haven't had a holiday since 1994 and have only been abroad once - never again!) ... You need to sort out what causes the stress in the first place because until you do that any benefit you get from a holiday will be undone as soon as you return.
                   
                  • Agree Agree x 4
                  • Like Like x 1
                  • Friendly Friendly x 1
                  • Upsydaisy

                    Upsydaisy Total Gardener

                    Joined:
                    Apr 26, 2017
                    Messages:
                    9,248
                    Gender:
                    Female
                    Occupation:
                    Taking time out to smell the flowers.
                    Location:
                    Hampshire. Zone 8b
                    Ratings:
                    +27,475
                    Have go agree with Michael somewhat, but I know it's very daunting to make a career/ job change when you have family to support. Hubs was made redundant back in the 90s when the whole place was closed down, we were in throws of major house renovations and had a very young brood too, he became very stressed but thankfully found good job that matched his qualifications 7mths.
                    later ....but what a 7 months!!

                    But on the plus side it would open up opportunities for lots of mini breaks/ weekend aways.....I now prefer these to an actual 2week holiday.:)
                     
                    • Agree Agree x 2
                    • Like Like x 1
                    • Friendly Friendly x 1
                      Last edited: Sep 7, 2021
                    • Fat Controller

                      Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

                      Joined:
                      May 5, 2012
                      Messages:
                      22,596
                      Gender:
                      Male
                      Occupation:
                      Public Transport
                      Location:
                      At me 'puter, GCHQ Ashford Office, Middlesex
                      Ratings:
                      +42,381
                      That is actually a really good point about the camper being the only source of transport at any destination - it would make any exploring a lot more challenging, whereas I suppose with a caravan you would just leave that on site and then use your car for sightseeing etc. Hmmmm... really good point that.

                      I admit, with the social anxiety issues to take into account, a caravan would be better in as much that some of them even have a separate bedroom - and I am not talking brand new ones either, these are caravans £2-£3k; whilst that is a lot of money, in terms of a holiday nowadays, it really isn't. I looked at even hiring campervans and they were around £150 per day, plus insurance waiver, plus anything between £500 and £1000 security deposit. For that sort of money, you can buy something second hand.... and that is where I have arrived at.

                      I am popping in on a short break from work, so will come back later work wise...
                       
                      • Like Like x 1
                      • Jiffy

                        Jiffy The Match is on Fire

                        Joined:
                        Aug 25, 2011
                        Messages:
                        9,376
                        Occupation:
                        Pyro
                        Location:
                        Retired Next To The Bonfire in UK
                        Ratings:
                        +22,428
                        If your boss give's you a £1000 more per month will it make the job any easyer? the answer is no but it will help just a little
                         
                        • Friendly Friendly x 1
                        • Sandy Ground

                          Sandy Ground Total Gardener

                          Joined:
                          Jun 10, 2015
                          Messages:
                          2,213
                          Gender:
                          Male
                          Occupation:
                          Retd. D&D Engineer
                          Location:
                          Scania, Sweden
                          Ratings:
                          +5,207
                          Speaking as someone that has owned a Motorhome for years, its not actually a good point at all. Its a misconception. Theres a little trick that can be done on a lot of sites, and something that I do on a regular basis. Make an online booking, and prepay before you leave. Make sure you get a pitch number. If the site does not have this possibility, dont use it. Its that simple. When arriving at the site, check in at reception. On the odd occasion, they may change the chosen pitch, but it is still yours to use as one wishes.

                          Also, many campsites have things to do within a short distance. @Fat Controller I'm not sure how far you can walk, but one we were on a couple of weeks ago had plenty to do within a couple of hundred yards. Museums, Paddle Steamer trips, things like that. Generally, we will deliberately look for such sites.

                          @Fat Controller you've helped not only me, but others on here more times than I care to remember. If you wish to ask questions, feel free to do so, either on this thread or by pm. I'd be more than willing to give advice/opinions on any related matter, even if some might disagree with them.
                           
                          • Like Like x 1
                          Loading...

                          Share This Page

                          1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
                            By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
                            Dismiss Notice