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Brighton Revisited?

OK, it’s a poor play on the title “Brideshead Revisited”, although the plot is nothing like the story..

We’d booked tickets to see a concert at the Brighton Dome. Brighton is about a 2 hour

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drive for us, so we thought it would be a good idea to make a week of it. The concert is on Wednesday evening. Maybe a bit excessive, but as I work in South London, I could easily commute from Brighton on the train.

This isn’t the first time I’d commuted from the Caravan.  A few years back, we were looking to move house, so we sold our house first to make it easier to buy, that was the plan anyway. We spent some time living with family but then decided we might as well live in the caravan for a while. I was again working in London, so we stayed at Welwyn Garden City’s Caravan and Motorhome Club site and I commuted from there. It was fun, it was in the summer and life carried on pretty much as it always did, except we were living in the caravan. We’d almost sorted out buying another house before we moved to the caravan. Everything went in storage and we were just waiting for a move date, which mean we stopped at the site for 3 weeks. The maximum you can stay is 21 nights from memory.

Come and Have a Go if You Think You’re Hard Enough

Just One Last Whack!

So, we went to Brighton CAMC site on the Saturday and had a beautiful weekend, considering it was the middle of October. Something I’ve always noticed about the Brighton site is that the hardstanding pitches are THE most difficult one’s on the planet to get your awning pegs in. I have special hard pegs that are made of the hardest metal known to man (I might have made that up) and still I manage to bend 5!. I even tried the screw in types using my electric drill on hammer setting, I bent 2 of the screw in one’s as well. Of course, I go to twitter to moan about it, and as always, a member of our marvellous commuting comes up with an answer. Pour water on the patch that you’re trying to bang or drill your peg into. At the moment I have about 6 pegs in plus the straps in. I’ve not had the mental strength to attack them again and use the water soaking method. Honestly, the sun was out I was enjoying myself and I might have been a little full of cider to try again. I will file that and use it on our next visit..

As we’ve been to Brighton before and I’ve created a video previously about the site, I’ve not done much vlogging activity, which is a bit weird. I don’t always video, I don’t always take my camera with me, but as it’s a hobby, rather than a job, it’s something I like to do. Rather than feel I HAVE to do. I like to take photos to go with any blog entry such as this. It makes it more interesting for me and hopefully the reader.

Old Habits Die Hard

It always amazes me what a creature of habit I am, and I have to say I don’t like it. I like to think I’m easy going and don’t really get stressed too much. This is true if everything is as it always is, but add some change and I’m a gibbering wreck, well, almost. I see myself turning into Victor Meldrew. Or at least have empathy with poor old Victor’s plight.
On the Monday morning, the plan is that I go into the office in London and Mandy stays “on holiday” in Brighton, which is great, it’s exciting, it’s different. As I alluded to earlier much to my disgust I don’t do different. I’m sure I used to, but now, I’m not so keen. Different it difficult, but also exciting and stressful…
Sunday night I hardly sleep a wink. “What if my alarm doesn’t go off and I miss the taxi?”, “Have I timed the station journey right? “What it I get to the station too late and miss the train?”, “How do I buy a ticket?”. Of course, all ridiculous things to “worry” about. I’ve used my alarm for many years (my phone). I’ve travelled on a train into London for at least 20 years. I know how it all works. Relax. I don’t relax. I’m up early but still have to run to make the taxi on time, how does that happen? Not only this, but the wind seemed to be picking up. So during the night I’m lying there thinking the awning is about to depart in a southerly direction at about 40 miles per hour. As it happens it wasn’t really that windy, it was made worse because we were parked under trees….
Of course I get to the station with plenty of time to spare, but then can’t find the ticket office and actually can’t remember what the ticket office is called 🙂 it’s been so long since I used one. No really, I couldn’t remember. There are ticket machines, but these are prepaid only (later found out the tickets machines are around the other side!). Why didn’t I prepay?! Idiot..

Tickets Please

Relax, just talk to someone. I see someone and he directs me to the ticket office. Actually he seems to say “Buy those paper things over their you loser and by the way it’s over the other side of the station so you’ll miss your train”. He didn’t actually say this but it was over the other side of the station. I AM  going to miss the train! No I’m not just RUN! I run. Luckily when I arrive at the ticket office, which isn’t called the ticket office, however the name escapes me, the name is more like a crossword puzzle clue giving you a hint at what it is. There’s no queue. Great.
“Morning, return to East Croydon Please”
“Will you be using Southern Trains or just Thameslink?”
I had no idea. “I just want a return to East Croydon, actually make it for today an tomorrow please.”
“Only if you’re just using ThamesLink it’s cheaper.”
Why would I not want the cheapest ticket? I look at my watch. “Really, I just want the one where I don’t have to change trains,”
“Well, that would be the Thameslink service Sir. You don’t need to change and it’s cheaper. Southern’s service would cost you £39.50 and you’d have to change at Haywards Heath.”
“Yes, quite, well I don’t want to change, so I’ll take the Thameslink.” Wasn’t life easier when it was just British Rail? Well, maybe, but the trains wouldn’t be on time!
“Would you be travelling the same time tomorrow Sir?”
Now I’m confused. “What do you mean, I’m travelling now a ticket for now”
“Yes Sir, quite right, you said tomorrow as well.”
I’d forgotten. I confirmed this to be true.
“£51 please Sir”
I part with my hard earned cash, grab my tickets, I thank the man (being late is no excuse for rudeness) and start running for the train. At the same time I’m fiddling with the tickets finding the “OUT” ticket for today.
I’m now sitting on the train getting my breath back with my tickets in hand all 4 of them. I’ve not had to buy a physical ticket in years, TFL (Transport For London) is contactless.  Also, the journey costs me twice my normal commute. Bloody hell, I’ve worked with a few people who have lived in Brighton and worked in London. £25.50 a day? Really! On average I’d work 21 days a month, that’s over £500 per month. Holy crap Batman.
It’s costing more than I thought it would, yes, I should have worked it all out, I know this. It’s £18 for the taxi to the station (both ways), £25.50 for the train. £43.50 a day, I’ll have to sell the house. I would have taken the time off as annual leave, but I’m self employed, so “no worky, no payee” 🙁
One good thing is that the commute takes less time, I save 30 minutes. Lucky me, hurrah.
The journey back day one had delays, not bad, just 20 minutes.

Day Two

Day two and Mandy has dropped me at the station, it saves us £9 but does mean she has to get up earlier, which of course makes me feel guilty. Anyway, I jump out of the car and completely forget about my laptop bag. I use my laptop much as a a carpenter might use his tools. If I turned up on site without my laptop I couldn’t do any work. Fortunately Mandy spotted my mistake and called me back. You see, that’s what I mean about having a routine, it’s ridiculous. I’m such a dope!
As it’s not my normal commute, I don’t sleep on the train. Although I know the train will take 54 minutes, I don’t want to miss my stop. Normally I can snooze, as I think subconsciously I know the stations, so even though I’m half asleep I know what station the train is at. I guess if I did the trip more often I’d get to know the routine.
At least I did have time for breakfast today. I went for the health(ier) option Almond Croissant, even though I don’t like Almonds..?
Wednesday I had a day off from work, so no need to commute into London. It was another bight, warm day, I consider 18 degrees warm for the end of October, warm enough to sit outside anyway, It’s probably typical of me, the one day I have off, I wake with a headache. Nothing to do with alcohol I’ll have you know, I just woke up with it and it nagged away at me nearly all day.
When I think back, the previous day in the office there was a lot of chocolate around. You know someone’s birthday, a project had been completed, someone leaving – typical office stuff, but everyone buys chocolate and for some reason people seem to think I’m a chocoholic. I do like chocolate, but I wouldn’t say I was dependent on it. Maybe it’s because I tell people I like it, so every time someone has chocolate; “Oh you like chocolate Graham” I never so no. Anyway, the point I’m making is that I think I over did it on sugar, giving me a headache the next day. I’m rather prone to headaches. Something which is a little odd as my Dad never had a headache. I know this because in his later life he complained to me he had a headache, and then told me he’d never had a headache before. I’m not sure if he was being completely truthful, I took it that he rarely had headaches, and I have them reasonably regularly.

Brighton Dome

But, enough about aches of the head. I managed to shift it by taking tablets, having a snooze and eating something. The day had been somewhat ruined though. The important

Brighton Dome

thing is that I felt good by the time the concert came that evening.

We were off to the Brighton Dome to see, now I don’t know how you’d describe them “80’s pop legends”, “bass slapping funk masters”, “hit makers”. What do I know, I’m no DJ, but it was Level 42. A band I’ve “followed” since my teens, yes I really am that old. In fact Mark King turns 60 this year.
Brighton Dome is a great concert venue. Not too big, seats have enough leg room. On looking around the hall I commented to Mandy how many balding and grey haired people there were. This was followed immediately be the thought that these people were the same age as me (well, us) Hmm.
Mark King of Level 42

Growing up I can distinctly remember a friends Dad saying (he was 60) “I look in the mirror and see an old man, but I still feel like I’m 18”. Well, I don’t look in the mirror and see an “old man” yet, at time of writing I’m 54. I don’t actually still feel 18 either, so maybe I’m meeting him half way. But I get what he meant, life and time do catch up with all of us. Rather than bemoan the fact that I’m a middle aged man listening to a “has been” pop group, watched by grey balding men play “air bass” I should embrace it. NO I did NOT play “air bass”, “air guitar” or “air drums”. Well, actually I did when I was in the loo, but there was no one else around…

If you’re into that kind of music Level 42 are definitely still at the top of their game, Brilliant night out and would certainly go and see them again. As for the the Brighton Dome, it’s now on our radar. Oh as a PS to this section, Level 42 were supported by a band called “The Blow Monkeys” I had to Google them but was aware of 2 of their songs from the 80s. They were really, really good. Sometimes they’re the best concerts, I had no idea about them and they were fantastic. Relaxed, confident and humble musicians still plying their trade after 36 years.
Thursday I’m back in the office, the commute is getting easier, I know where to go and at what time to be there. However, today I’m tired. The concert finished at 22:45 we got home (back to the caravan) at about 23:30. Car park was very busy and with all those people exiting at the same time you just have to wait your turn in exiting the car park. By the time I got to sleep it was after 00:30 and I was up at 06:00, that’s simply not enough sleep 🙂

Missing Out

There have been some amazing sunsets this week on the south coast. I’ve missed them all as we’re facing the wrong way and the trees behind us block our view west. We could, of course, go out and drive somewhere to take a look, but it’s been so warm in the caravan with the Alde heating that we’ve not ventured out much after 6pm. Now there’s another sign that we’re getting old, Level 42, then doesn’t go out after 6PM to see a sunset…We’re doomed!
On a brighter note, the clocks go back this weekend and that means I’ll get an extra hour in bed. Marvellous.

And Finally

Just one more day commuting from Brighton to London, then we’re off home Saturday morning. It’s been an odd week, the whole purpose of this blog was to give you a feel what it’s like commuting into work from the caravan. It’s been a bit weird, I don’t feel like I’m either at work, or on holiday. Mandy has been in the caravan during the week on her own and, well, we’re not used to doing things alone. On the one day I was off with her in the caravan I felt a bit under the weather, so I wasn’t much fun.
I’m not sure I’d do it again, I mean live in the caravan during the week and commute to work. I initially thought it would be like being on holiday whilst going to work, but it ended up feeling more like work was getting in the way of a holiday. We didn’t have the “holiday vibe” which is so important when being on holiday. I think I could live in the caravan, it’s comfortable enough, warm enough and there’s enough space, but I’d have to do it whilst not working. I could in theory work from the caravan, and I have done so in the past, but when all is said and done a caravan suits me better as a holiday place.

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Experienced caravanners that are still learning!Our first caravan was a Knaus which we bought from Germany in 2006. After this we bought a Autotrail Motorhome, but sold that to build a house. Once that was done we went back to a caravan, a Sterling Eccles, which we recently part-ex'd for a Bailey Unicorn.
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