Jim and Karen are almost ready to embark on their second OE – forty years after their first one! Here Jim outlines the plan of attack, which involves some canal boating in the UK and getting hold of a motorhome. 

The basic plan is underway.

As with most things in life, a little planning is required if any trip is to be relaxing, worthwhile and stress free. In our case we are not planning everything to the nth degree, but we do have some of the “big rocks” our trip is based around in place and that is what will set the overall direction for us.

First some canal boating in the UK

So when we land at Manchester next week we head straight to pick up the canal boat we have booked for our first nine weeks. The canals were always another “bucket list” item for us following a short stint on one 40 years ago, and after watching Tim and Prunella sale around on the British canals and handle the locks I am guessing we should be able to handle then as well. I have to admit a large part of the appeal is some of the riverside pubs – I hope they have some large parking spaces outside for our 60ft monster.

An aqueduct awaits

Once on the water we will make a left turn and away we go essentially in a huge circle, with a side trip to a large Welsh aqueduct at some point. Navigation will be interesting as turning the sucker around might be a tad tricky if we miss a turnoff. I will be intrigued to see if the canals and rivers have direction signs, as I would hate to cruise over the top of a weir. Something like that could be the Instagram moment from hell.

A flower show and car racing

Somewhere along the journey we will park the boat up for a few days and head to London to attend the Chelsea flower show. Not sure where that stop will be at this stage – whether it’s a lock up and leave situation on the side of the canal or if we have to find the canal equivalent of a park and ride, i.e. a marina.

The good part for me is there is a quid pro quo for the days at the flower show as we have set by a few days at the Silverstone race track for a bit of classic car racing in July. Fair’s fair – if I have to look at flowering gerberas then Karen can watch the jags duelling on the racetrack.

Then time to get a motorhome

While all this is going on we also have a mobile home to buy. The UK allows an overseas national to purchase a vehicle and register it to a friend’s address in the UK. European countries don’t allow this; you have to be a national with a residential address to register any vehicle purchase. Hence why it’s easier to purchase in the UK. So I have been trawling the dealers websites in recent months looking at vehicles that meet our chosen layout. If what we want is available secondhand so be it. If not we might be forced to purchase new. Either way we will hopefully have something sorted before the end of June to continue our travels in once we leave the canal boat.

Once on the road we are heading to Scandinavia for a couple of months. The intention there is to drive all the way up Finland then back down the other side through Norway and Sweden. We are meeting Mike and Sandy who are hiring a camper late September and together we will drive through Denmark, eventually heading back to the UK for a spot of house sitting over November.

Time to begin the adventure

So that’s the general plan for the first six to eight months or so. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds and whether we are still talking to each other after nine weeks of locks on the canals to manhandle. My investigations indicate that we have in the region of 358 locks to go through along our chosen route. I must admit the number sounds a little daunting. At the least we will probably be a bit fitter.

Next stop Manchester as quite literally the bags are packed, and we are ready to go.

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