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OurTour Motorhome Essentials Packing List

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Updated – April 2018

When I originally wrote a packing list of everything in Dave, our motorhome, on a rainy day back in 2012 I had no idea how useful it would still be some six years later. We no longer have Dave, who took us on an adventure around Europe for two years, but I used it to pack his successor, Zagan, when we first bough him. I now use it when repacking Zagan after a stop back in the UK. Realising that what we have in the van has evolved over the past six years, I’ve taken this opportunity to update our list with things we’ve added and things we’ve taken out (and why). I hope you’ll find it as helpful as us for kitting out your van and ensuring you don’t forget the potato masher, again!

Apart from the links in the ‘Documentation’ section and those where I’ve stated where they link to, all other links will take you through to Amazon.co.uk, to either a specific item if we use it, or search results displaying a range of options. Find out more about Amazon affiliation.

ess policeLegal bits

There are things that you are legally required to carry in some countries that we don’t have to carry in the UK. It’s best to check the AA website for an up to date list of what you need for the countries you’re going to, we’ve also written an article on the subject too.

ess documentsDocumentation

I know it’s boring, but there are some documents you’ll need to take with you and others it will be handy to have in case of a problem.

  • V5C (your motorhome’s ‘log book’)
  • Motorhome Insurance (make sure it covers where you are going for entire duration of your trip – more information on our cover is here)
  • EHIC Cards (if going abroad you’ll need your European Health Insurance Card – you can get one free from here)
  • Travel Insurance (for you in case of accident or illness – more details of our cover here)
  • Driving Licence
  • Passports
  • Photocopies of all documentation (kept somewhere safe; we scanned ours and emailed them to a web based email (hotmail) so we can acess them anywhere)
  • Motorhome Instructions (always handy for the trouble-shooting sections as stuff inevitably packs up while you’re away!)
  • Breakdown Cover (we use ADAC who cover us in Europe and the UK, but sadly they’re no longer taking UK-based customers)
  • Mobile Phone contract details if in contract (if going abroad for a long period these are handy to have for bill queries and renewing)
  • ASCI Discount CampingCard (gives you discounted stay at campsites out of season across Europe, not to be confused with the ACSI campsite guides)
  • EU Pet Passport (if your four legged friend is going abroad with you)
  • Spending Book (if you’re on a budget a small book to track all your spending is a big help)

ess serviceDaily Servicing

Once you’re out on the road you’ll need a few essential items to keep you in supplies that you’d normally take for granted in a house such as water, electricity and gas. You can find our motorhome guides to all things to do with daily servicing here.

  • Hose Pipe (we used to have a triple core one as you don’t need to unravel it to use it, but any hose will do the job as long as it hasn’t and won’t be used for anything else)
  • Hose Pipe Connector (we have the standard UK one and have been picking others locally at hardware stores, different countries have a wide range of different tap connections)
  • Collapsible Water Carrier or Watering Can (sometimes you can’t connect to or get near enough to the tap to use your hose. When this happens we use a carrier as we don’t have the space for a watering can)
  • Funnel (you’ll probably need one to get the water into your tank if you use a water carrier rather than a watering can. We fashioned a flat, fold-around one from the lid of an ice-cream tub which works very well, allowing an almost full flow of water into the tank)
  • Antibacterial Wipes (for wiping the water supply before you use it)
  • Bucket (Many uses, but great for emptying grey waste)
  • Power Hook Up Cable (buy the longest one you can – we have two that we connect together as the hook-up boxes are sometimes a long way from a good pitch)
  • Hook up cable 2 pin adaptor (loads of campsites and aires still use the 2 pin plug as opposed to the European 3 pin that is likely already on your cable
  • Electric Halogen Heater (save your gas and heat with electric when on hook-up, this type of heater is silent so suitable for leaving on overnight. Note that neither this nor the next heater will protect your cupboards or water tanks in very cold weather – you’ll have to use your blown-air heating/grey tank water heater for this)
  • Electric Fan Heater (we use this type of heater when we are awake and it’s really cold as it’s noisy but quickly heats up the van and keeps it nice and hot)
  • LPG Connection Adapters (we have an onboard LPG/GPL/Autogas Gas-It system, when filling up abroad we use adapters, mainly the dish and bayonette type. If you have standard gas bottles you might not be able to refill them when abroad as they use different systems and regulators – best to double check before you go)
  • Grey/Waste Water Tank Fresh (trust me, when it gets hot the grey tank can stink. We’ve used this stuff, but now tend to dissolve dishwasher tablets and pop them in it overnight – not as effective, but much cheaper)
  • Fresh Water Tank Cleaner and Purifier (you need to do everything you can to keep your fresh water tank clean, either that or drink bottled water while travelling)
  • Spirit Level (perfect for ensuring your is van level and to work out which way round to sleep in the bed – there’s nothing worse than sleeping with your head lower than your feet!)
  • Levelling Chocks (as car parks nearly always slope when you want to sleep in them! Note, it’s worth measuring how high your front bumper is from the ground, we had some big, sturdy chocks but they hit our bumper and damaged it.

ess mapsNavigation and Finding Places to Sleep

Below are the tools we use for navigation and finding places to sleep, the ones marked with * we personally use, the rest we’ve see others use and cribbed notes from. We’ve also written this article which will give you more information about how we find places to sleep.

  • SatNav* (love or hate them, without a satnav driving just isn’t as easy. We have a TomTom like the one linked to, we ensured it had lifetime European map updates as updated cost about the same as a new satnav these days. We load it with various Points of Interest such as Lidl stores, aires and campsites etc)
  • Paper Maps* (don’t ever fully trust your sat nav as they love short cuts, great for cars but not motorhomes! We always have a paper map for the country too)
  • Highlighter Pen* (track your progress on the map and create a great reminder of your trip)
  • Phrase Books* (so you can always ask for directions!)
  • Maps.me* (free app useful for navigation if satnav issues, or when out walking away from the van)
  • Compass (it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it’s handy for working out which way the sun will come up and set for when you’re parking your van and setting up your satellite dish if its manual)
  • Apps for overnight stays – we use Park4Night and CamperContact both of which we have paid for the offline version so we can use them without internet access.
  • Camperstop Europe Book* (Thousands of free and cheap stopovers across 27 European countries)
  • Previously we’ve used the below to find places to stop, but now we tend to use the apps, camperstop and the ASCI discount card mentioned above.
    • Offline copy of the Camping Car Info Database* – link to our review of it (a French website which you can download. Includes loads of information on free aires, service points and campsites)
    • All the Aires Books* – (these guide books, in English, are great for locating Aires/Sostas/Stellplatz but cover a limited range of countries)
    • Wohnmobil Books* (German language guidebooks each taking a route around a country/part of a country and offering details accounts of things to see and places to stop – we no longer use these)
    • Bordatlas Guide (another great German language guide to motorhome stopovers across Europe

D42 002 Dave check up at LlanesTools and things for fixing stuff

Dave is old, bless him. So we’ve needed to do quite a few repairs as we’ve travelled. But even if your van is new, it’s always good to have a few tools and bits to fix to stuff with (and preferably a ‘Jay’ who’ll know what to do with them!)

  • Ratchet Socket Set
  • Multi Tool
  • Hammer
  • WD-40 Lubricant
  • Assorted Cable Ties
  • Gaffer Tape (also called Duct Tape or Gorilla Tape, we use the silver one Dave’s ailing front grill and a clear tape on Zagan’s front bumper)
  • Super Glue (either lots of little tubes or a decent resealable bottle)
  • Epoxy Adhesive (for repairs that need to be a bit stronger, like repairing the bathroom sink plughole)
  • Spare Car Fuses
  • Wheel Brace (your van should have one but best to check now before you get a flat tyre!)
  • Bottle Jack (we find these easier to pump up than a normal jack, but remember to check the weight of you van, and whether it will lift your van high enough to fit a spare if the tyre is flat)
  • Axle Stand (we only found out we needed one of these when our tyre blew out on the A9 in Spain – again make sure it will take your vans weight)
  • Precision Screwdriver Set
  • Standard Screwdriver Set
  • Spanner Set (or work out which ones you need for your van and carry just those to save weight)
  • Power Pack and Compressor (we’ve used ours for emergency power, pumping up our air suspension and in case we need a jump start)
  • Torch (any sort will do, but LED ones last for ages – I’m amazed at how dark it is in some places we park!)
  • Tow Rope (The Italian coast guard were very pleased we had one of these when we towed them off a beach!)
  • Traction mats (we don’t have any of these but a couple of times we’ve used our cheap door mats when stuck in sand and they did the job – not tested them in snow yet though)
  • Spare Engine Oil
  • Disposable gloves (as they keep your pinkies clean while doing the repairs!

Outdoors, another room to your motorhome

Motorhomes aren’t huge, but once parked up on a campsite the outdoors becomes an extra room for you – you just need to furnish it accordingly.

  • Camping Chairs
  • Camping Table
  • Foldaway BBQCadac Gas BBQ or Gas Stove (we’ve used all three over the years, we’re currently using a camping gas stove as we can take it anywhere)
  • BBQ Tools
  • Picnic Rug
  • ‘Moroccan’ Mat (large plastic woven mat like a ground sheet that we use outside for sitting on)
  • Sunglasses / Prescription Sunglasses
  • Insect Repellent (we discovered Off in Finland, home of monster mozzies, it worked a treat)
  • Mosquito net (used over our dropdown bed – fixed with bulldog clips and cable ties)
  • Citronella Candles (help keep the mozzies away and nice to light up at an evening BBQ)
  • Fly Swat (for the middle of the night mosquito cull)
  • Umbrellas (I won’t lie to you, it’s not always sunny when you’re motorhoming – we have a large golf umbrella and a couple of fold up small ones)

DSC_0148Kitchen Essentials

We’ve stocked both Dave and Zagan with a lot of items from the kitchen of our house. But there are a few items we’ve bought especially for the trip and a few things we forgot and had to pick up as we travelled – thank goodness they have shops abroad! 🙂

  • Melamine Plates and Bowls (they rattle a lot less when you’re driving and don’t break, we bought ours in the sales at the end of summer)
  • Mugs (any sort, but the more stable the better)
  • Wine Glasses (we didn’t bring any – big mistake, cheap wine tastes so much better from a glass, the sturdier the better!)
  • Plastic Glasses (for drinks other than wine, less glass means less noise and breakages on bumpy roads)
  • Small Glass Pitcher/Jug (we picked one up in France and decant our wine from its Lidl box into it when we want to feel posh or have guests!)
  • Double Skillet  (links to Double Skillet Company site – this is a great invention, especially if you don’t have an oven like us. We use ours for all our hob cooking along with a saucepan and small omelette pan)
  • Remoska (another great alternative if you don’t have an oven in your van, uses electric so would need to be on hook up)
  • Frying Pan (before we got our double skillet we used to use a large frying pan, but measure the width of cupboard it’s going in, and the dimension of the pan across the top, not the base. We didn’t and because it curves outwards it was slightly too big for the cupboard – doh!)
  • Saucepan(s)
  • Pan Protectors (we use bits of non-slip matting cut to fit so the pans don’t scratch each other when stacked)
  • Oven Proof Dishes (we don’t have an oven, but if you do you’ll need some!)
  • Oven Gloves (even if you don’t have an oven sometimes you have to pick up hot stuff)
  • Place Mats / Trivet (for putting hot stuff on)
  • Gas Hob Kettle (for when you aren’t hooked up to electricity) 
  • Low Wattage Kettle (for when you are hooked up to electricity)
  • Cafetiere (a little luxury for coffee lovers as you’ll get fed up with instant)
  • Espresso Maker (Jay loves his coffee, so we picked up one of these in Italy. It sits on the gas hob and makes a strong little brew)
  • Chopping Boards (it’s worth having a couple)
  • Cheese Grater
  • Measuring Jug (decent size, plastic or acrylic)
  • Compact Weighing Scales
  • Cutlery (solid metal is best as handles don’t fall off and be sure you have plenty of teaspoons – they always seem to vanish)
  • Scissors (at least a couple of pairs)
  • Quality Tin Opener (we forgot ours and bought a cheap one, it’s faulty, it wouldn’t open tins!)
  • Vegetable Peeler (also handy for shaving Parmesan cheese!)
  • Juicer
  • Bottle Opener/Cork Screw (hmm, perhaps this should be at the top of the list!)
  • Bread Knife (we forgot ours and bought one as un-sliced loaves are cheaper and last longer)
  • Sharp Cutting Knife (invest in a decent one and it’ll stay sharp for your entire trip)
  • Wooden Spoons
  • Spatula
  • Serving Spoon
  • Wooden Skewers (good for marshmallow toasting, making kebabs and poking at/fixing stuff stuff)
  • Potato Masher (if you forget yours be warned they don’t sell them anywhere in Italy – trust us, we looked!)
  • Plastic Storage Boxes (collect as many as you can, we use large upright ones for cereal, rice, pasta etc, oils and jars sit in them in cupboards to catch leaks, veg separated into them and food for the fridge needs sealing sometimes)
  • Cigarette Lighter/Matches (for lighting the hob if the ignition fails, or a BBQ)
  • Cleaning Sponges
  • Cleaning Wipes (we use antibacterial wipes for cleaning the van as well as the taps and hoses at water points)
  • Microfibre Cloths (great for cleaning around the van and quick drying – get different coloured ones so you know which is for the bathroom, windows, kitchen etc)
  • Cleaning Scourers
  • Washing Up Liquid 
  • Washing Up Bowl (handy for taking your pots to the campsite sink)
  • Universal Sink Plug (as every campsite sink has a different sized plug hole)
  • Tea Towels
  • Dustpan and Brush
  • 12v Vacuum Cleaner (so you can clean even when not hooked u to the electricity)
  • Antibacterial Hand Cleaner (you’ll want it when you’ve emptied the loo!)
  • Kitchen Roll
  • Tin Foil
  • Cling Film
  • Freezer Bags
  • Ice Cube Bags or Tray (for those long hot summer days!)
  • Bottle Holders (the free cardboard ones from the supermarket are ideal to avoid clinking)
  • Oil Burner with essential oils and tealights or Joss Sticks (not strictly kitchen, but good for taking away all the cooking smells)

ess teabagsStore cupboard food items

While we’re in the kitchen it’s worth thinking about having a few items always in your van to save you from having to buy them when away, and so you can have a cuppa at any time! I’m not going to list loads of things, as each person has different tastes, but a few tins (soup, beans?) along with some teabags, coffee, stock cubes, gravy granules (we can’t find these anywhere abroad), UHT milk, a bottle of water, a bottle or two of wine, salt and pepper, vinegar, ketchup and chocolate would never go to waste in our van!

DSC_0147Bathroom

  • Microfibre Towels (we love these as they feel like normal towels but dry really fast so less damp towels hanging up around the van)
  • Suction Hooks (create handy extra drying space in the bathroom)
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • First Aid Kit (including pain killers, cold and flu stuff etc)
  • Toiletries
  • Soap
  • Toilet Rolls (you can get special motorhome ones like these, but we use the cheapest ones we can find)
  • Chemical Toilet Fluids
  • Air Freshener (with the loo so close to the living area, it helps!)
  • Medications
  • Contact lenses
  • Shaving Kit
  • Sunscreen / Aftersun
  • Nailbrush
  • Shower Head Holder (some vans don’t have these and expect you to hold the shower head while showering, it’s the same at some campsites too)
  • Bag For Life (in campsite showers 9 times out of 10 don’t have enough hooks to hang up all your clothes. I used a large supermarket bag for life – one of the thicker plastic ones with fabric handles – and hang that on the hook, keeping all my clothes and towels dry)

memory foamBedroom & Soft Furnishings

  • Pillows
  • Duvet (we have a summer tog duvet with an unzipped sleeping bag on top of it, then a blanket on top of that, so we can use whatever combination we need to keep warm/cool)
  • Memory Foam Mattress Topper (beds made from the chair cushions are comfortable with one of these on them, you can imaging how lovely our pull down bed is with one on it – sleep heaven)
  • Bed Sheet (preferably a Brushed Cotton one if it’s going to be cold where you’re going)
  • Spare Set of Bedding (as it’s not always possible to have a set washed and dried in a day)
  • Sleeping Bags (unzip and use over your duvet, or so you can camp outside)
  • Blankets (great for curling up under when the weather isn’t so warm)
  • Cushions (add a bit of comfort and colour to your van on one go – you can also stuff them with clothes as extra storage)
  • Sofa Throws (we use these on the seat parts of the sofa and dinette seats as they’re easy to wash and clean – especially with a pooch in the van who doesn’t wipe his paws!)
  • Hot Water Bottle
  • Ear Plugs (even the best campsite can be noisy and free camping places can be very noisy!)

DSC07266-1024x768Clothing and laundry

This was obviously a tricky one for us as we would be travelling through most types of weather. We have one shelf each in the wardrobe, one hook each and a cupboard each – in it we have to squeeze everything from ski jackets and thermals to swim wear and Jay’s wetsuit (to be fair Jay doesn’t have half as many clothes as me so his wetsuit easily fits in his cupboard).

We’ve found ‘technical’ clothing to be really good as it’s quick drying, and doesn’t need ironing. Check out the camping and hiking sections in shops or online and you’ll be amazed at what is out there – I even found a shirt impregnated with mosquito repellent! I’ve listed what is in my cupboards, but of course what you take will depend on when and where you’re going.

Don’t forget all those bits and pieces you need to keep your clothes clean if you’re going away for a while.

  • Laundry Bag / Sack
  • Washing Liquid/Powder
  • Fabric Softener
  • Coins for the Machines (save as many pound / one euro coins as you can)
  • Pegs (you can never have too many of them, you’ll be amazed!)
  • Clothes Line (we’ve used this pegless type of line, normal lines and loads of bits of string)
  • Pant Chandelier / Socktopus (officially a Folding Sock Dryer which hangs off the bike rack, wing mirror or in the bathroom if the weather is bad)
  • Folding Clothes Over Door Airer (We hang one of these out of the window or off the bike rack)

DSC01833Entertainment, Leisure and Tech (boys toys!)

  • Books (the link takes you to our books page with a selection of titles, and of course don’t forget to pack one of our books!)
  • Kindle / eReader (we have a Kindle as we could never carry this many physical books in our motorhome – it’s great!)
  • Board Games (we play Scrabble if you do too, bring a dictionary or download one to your kindle to settle any arguments!)
  • Chess Set
  • Playing Cards
  • Travel Journal (notes of your adventures make a brilliant keepsake)
  • Pens and Pencil
  • Paper Pads (you’ll be surprised at how much you scribble notes or lists)
  • Sewing Kit
  • Music (CD’s or MP3’s as the local radio stations are generally pants, unless you like the 80’s)
  • 12v TV (we bought a Cello TV as it runs off 12v so we don’t need to be hooked up,and it has a built in decoder for a satellite system and plays DVDs)
  • DVD’s (films or series box sets – perfect for wet weather days, we pick ours up at charity shops)
  • Headphones (so you can watch the TV without disturbing others in the van)
  • Laptop or Tablet/iPad
  • Laptop Mouse (we thought we wouldn’t need one so left ours at home, mistake had to buy one)
  • External Hard Drive (to back up all your photos, we also carry with us a small hard drive with essential info  backed up on it in case the van gets broken into and the laptop stolen)
  • Personal WiFi Hotspot and optional 4G antenna (we got all our kit from MotorhomeWiFi.com – the link takes you to their website – if you contact Adam he’ll sort you out with the best solution for your needs)
  • Mobile Broadband Data SIM (for use in the personal wifi hotspot. As most networks limit how long you can use your SIM abroad, we don’t sign up for contracts, instead we take several pay as you go SIMs)
  • WiFi Booster Aerial (also from MotorhomeWiFi.com link to their site)
  • Mobile Phone (we have a smart phone so we can pick up the internet using free wifi at cafes)
  • Handheld Games System (we have a Nintendo DS on which I play puzzles and games)
  • Camera (we love our Sony bridge camera, but it’s not available to buy these days, so the link tkaes you to it’s younger brothers)
  • Go Pro (great for action shots, time lapse and underwater)
  • Mini Tripod (fits both camera and Go Pro)
  • USB Memory Sticks/SD Cards (for storing and sharing photos and files)
  • Chargers for Everything – 12v if possible for convenience (but check they are compatible with your equipment)
  • Alarm Clock (we thought we wouldn’t need one, but we ended up sleeping later and later each day – ours tells us the temperature too!)
  • Spare Batteries
  • Binoculars
  • Walking Stick(s) (the hiking type, or we have one for keeping wild dogs away from Charlie – just wave it and they keep their distance)
  • Fishing Gear (our telescopic fishing line kept us fed in Norway, land of expensive food!)
  • Crab Line (just for fun, not for food)
  • Snorkelling Kit
  • Wetsuit
  • Inflatable Kayak and Foot Pump (we saw one of these for sale in Lidl and regretted not buying it for years, then we bought one and managed to break after a few trips out, so go for a decent one if you are buying)
  • Sledge (and ski gear if heading for the slopes)
  • Bicycle or Electric Bike (as you can’t always park close to what you want to see)
  • Cycle Helmet (obligatory in some countries)
  • Bicycle Pump
  • Puncture Repair Kit
  • Christmas Lights and Decorations (if you’re going to be away over the festive period)
  • Bunting/National Flag (for special occasions!)

Charlie's new sleeping bag, fashioned from an old quilt and a dressing gown!Pampered Pooch

Charlie the pampered pooch rules the van usually finding the most inconvenient place to stretch out. He has his own cupboard for his toys, treats and medication.

  • Bed
  • Blankets
  • Non Spill Water Bowl
  • Food Bowl
  • Travel Water Bowl
  • Sleeping Bag (when it got really cold we’d pop Charlie in his sleeping bag to keep him warm, now he’s an old fella we leave the heating on overnight for him instead. The one on Amazon is an example since I made one for Charlie – see photo above) 
  • Dry Food (we buy the cheapest stuff in the supermarkets, less additives and he loves it, and somehow swapping between foods seems to have no affect on him)
  • Tinned Food (again super cheap and super tasty – we haven’t found any that he doesn’t love)
  • Medication (enough to last the trip unless you know for certain that you can get what you need where you are going)
  • Tick and Flea Treatment (check with your vet or a local vet in the area you are visiting to ensure your pet is on the best medication for where you are – Charlie uses Advantix or a Scalibor collar when away as they repel ticks, fleas, mosquitoes and importantly protects against leishmaniasis, which is prevalent in southern Europe)
  • Tick Removers (even though his treatment repels them, he still gets the odd tick so we need these to remove them with leaving the horrid head parts in him)
  • Worming Tablets (again check with your vet, and make sure you stock up with enough for your trip – we struggled to get worming treatment in Italy as they only treat worms if the dog has them, unlike in the UK where we give the medication to prevent them getting worms)
  • Claw Clippers (there isn’t always a dog groomer on hand, so we do him ourselves)
  • Fur clippers (as above)
  • Comb / Brush
  • Ear Cleaner
  • Shampoo
  • Dog Towel (microfibre for quick drying – trust me you don’t want you pooch borrowing your towel after a day on the beach, and some old towels that you can throw away after any accidents)
  • Lead and Spare Lead
  • Collar or Harness (Charlie’s has a harness as it enables us to pick him up easily when his legs give way)
  • Identity Disc (ensure it has the UK dialling code before your phone number if you’re going abroad)
  • Muzzle (in some places larger dogs will need one when in public places or on public transport, for smaller dogs the rules are often ignored)
  • Coat (pampered pooch never likes being cold)
  • Toys (even though he’s a pampered pooch he doesn’t have too many toys as he mainly chases sticks and stones)
  • Treats
  • Travel Carrier (we don’t have one, but in many countries you need to restrain your dog while you are driving, you may also need one to take them on public transport)
  • Bike Trailer (Charlie hated his, but then it wasn’t a proper doggie one and he could escape from it – we’ve seen loads of happy pooches whizzing along behind their owner’s bikes in one of these)
  • Poo Bags (never underestimate how many of these you’ll get through on a trip! Some of the more affluent countries do provide them for free in parks and cities so keep your eyes peeled)

DSC_00661Enhancements to your van

You can add numerous things to your motorhome to make life more comfortable on the road. The ones marked with * show what we’re using, the others we’ve seen people with and while they are not for us, they might be right for you.

  • Non-Slip Matting* (for every cupboard)
  • Blackout Thermal Curtain Linings* (our curtains are thin so lining them with this helps keep the sunlight out in the morning and the temperature warmer/cooler)
  • 300w Pure Sine Power Inverter* (for charging all your gadgets that don’t have a 12v charger, running clippers and the like – do your research to ensure you get the correct specification for your needs)
  • Windscreen Thermal Screens* (the least insulated part of your van so internal or external screens  help keep your van warm or cool, we have external ones which work well for us)
  • Solar Panel and Charge Controller* (for topping up your leisure battery on sunny days)
  • Leisure Battery(ies) (an alternative to adding solar panels is another leisure battery. We have two leisure batteries in our current van and solar, but in the past have managed with solar and one battery, which was actually a starter battery)
  • Habitation Door Fly Screen* (we had a net type on our previous van, the current van has one built in, if we needed to buy again we’d get a chenille one as they don’t get as damaged when trapped in the door)
  • Power Extension Cable* (for when you need to power something not in your van – we used ours to power stuff in a nearby tent)
  • Power Plug Adapters* (both of our vans have the odd two pin socket so we have one of these permanently plugged in and a spare in case we need to plug in while out and about)
  • Refillable LPG System* (link to our blog post of Jay installing our system. Refillable tanks which take LPG/GPL/Autogas are a big help on a multi-country trip as there is little gas bottle standardisation across Europe. We’ve met people with several bottles in their vans having had to buy a new one in each country.)
  • Satellite Dish and Decoder (when we bought Zagan he had a system already in place. We manually have to locate the satellites, but it works OK for how little we watch TV)

Finally, as your reward for working your way through this long list (I never realised we had so much stuff packed in our van, and I suspect we’ve still missed a few things) below is a link where you can download a PDF packing check list. It lists all the things above with a box to tick when you’ve packed it for your trip. There is also a space for comments and a sheet to add your own essentials. Simply right click on the link and choose the save option so you can store it on your own PC and print it off whenever you need it!

Have a great trip, wherever you go!

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Brexit Considerations for a European Motorhome Tour

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motorhome on the channel tunnel How cool is this?

Ju and I are planning to start a six month(ish) motorhome tour of Europe in January 2019 (yeah baby!), which means we’ll be out of the country on 29 March 2019, when the UK leaves the EU. Hmmm. We need to think about what this might mean…

What impact will that have on our travel plans? We dunno. Until the details of Brexit are made known and ratified by parliament, we won’t know, but this post outlines the areas we’re starting to consider, just in case. At this very point in time we’re watching and waiting to see what happens in November and early December, but if you plan to travel with a pet, you may need to take immediate action. Read on folks.

Motorhome on Channel TunnelJu’s booked us on the Chunnel in January, so no fear of sea sickness!

Please don’t treat this post as anything but our thoughts on what may or may not need to be done. We’re not experts in any of the areas mentioned and we may well have misunderstood or missed some key aspects. If the UK agrees a deal with the EU, then it’s entirely possible none of the points below will change from the current pre-Brexit scenario. 

If you spot anything inaccurate or missing below, feel free to tell us using the comments section, that would be very helpful.  Please don’t go political on us though. Comments we deem to be political won’t be approved as we’re just trying to keep stuff simple, and make sure none of us fall foul of the law in April next year.

OK, let’s go.

Motorhome Insurance and Green Cards

Best case here will be that our insurance continues to let us travel in the EEA countries plus Serbia, Switzerland and Andorra, without needing to present a Green Card document to the authorities. If we travel outside of these countries (like Morocco or Turkey for example), we currently have to get a Green Card from our insurer in advance (you physically need the piece of green paper, so it is posted to you, this makes it tricky to arrange once you are on the road). For some countries, like Ukraine and Bosnia & Herzegovina, our insurer will not issue a Green Card and we have to buy third party insurance at the border, known as frontier insurance.

Brexit won’t change the need for frontier insurance, but could force us to get a Green Card for the countries which don’t currently need one. Whether this is necessary or not remains an open point until any deal is agreed with the EU. We’re in touch with Safeguard (our insurer) to get their view on the situation and will update this section when we have a response.

Breakdown Insurance

Our motorhome insurance policy includes European AA breakdown cover. We also have a separate breakdown policy with the ‘German version’ of the AA, called ADAC (this option is no longer available non-German applicants, nothing to do with Brexit). Our expectation is that these policies will remain valid after Brexit, as we’ve not been advised otherwise.

Travel Insurance

We buy travel insurance for our tours abroad. The main reason for this is to avoid potentially very high medical costs for emergency repatriation to the UK, or for emergency private treatment abroad. We don’t see this need changing post Brexit, and will continue to ensure we’re covered but will check the wording more carefully if the EHIC becomes invalid (see below).

Internet and Mobile Roaming Costs

At the moment mobile phone call charges and Internet data roaming costs are capped in Europe. This might not be the case at some point post-Brexit, but then again it might stay exactly as-is (here’s the government’s official line on it). According to the BBC if there is a deal: “All EU rules and regulations, including on mobile roaming anywhere in the EU, will continue to apply until the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.”  This wouldn’t apply if there is no deal, but the same BBC article states: “Three has “committed to maintain the availability of roaming in the EU at no additional cost following Brexit”. Vodafone, EE and O2 made similar statements.

We use 1p Mobile (www.1pmobile.com) for our phone SIMs (for voice calls and text messages), and Three (three.co.uk) Internet with Legs (mobile Internet data SIMs). So it looks like we don’t need to worry about the Internet, but may need to change provider for our voice and text SIMs. We’ll keep a close eye on what happens and switch providers if needs be (or consider buying SIMs abroad).

The PETS Pet Passport Travel Scheme

We’re no longer travelling with a dog, after Charlie passed away earlier this year. Our understanding is that even if you have a Pet Passport, it might not be valid after Brexit, depending on whether a rabies inoculation test was done when it was issued.

If you plan to travel in the EU post Brexit with a pet, we’d strongly recommend you contact your vet ASAP to check whether your passport is valid, as you may need to allow up to four months to travel after Brexit in a worse-case scenario. You may also need to obtain a health certificate in advance of any trip, another point to discuss with your vet. The reasons for all this are complex, and explained here.

Customs Controls

It’s possible customs controls will come back into force, so we won’t be able to import large quantities of wine from France back into the UK, say. This is one area we’ll just keep an eye on, and act according to whatever the law says when we cross international borders after Brexit. Needless to say we brought back a considerable amount of wine when we returned from our last trip, just in case!

Driving Licenses and International Driving Permits (IDPs)

At the moment we can use our UK driving license in any EU country. This may or may not continue after Brexit. If it doesn’t continue, we’ll need to buy two International Driving Permits (IDPs) each (to ensure we can travel to all EU countries – France and Spain use different IDPs for example). The IDPs will be available from Post Offices and cost £5.50 each, last a year, and we’d need four of ’em (two each). For more on IDPs and Brexit, read the government’s notice here.

The EHIC Card and Health Insurance 

At the moment we both carry free European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC), which entitle us to access state-provided health care in EEA countries plus Switzerland (read about the cards on the NHS website here). It’s possible the EHIC system will continue after Brexit. In the worse case scenario where the EHIC scheme is discontinued, we’ll need to spend more time checking exactly what our travel insurance will cover before buying it, and possibly budgeting more for medical treatment abroad.

Visas

At the moment, as UK citizens, we can visit most of Europe without applying for a visa (Turkey and Russia being obvious exceptions). It’s not yet clear whether this will continue post Brexit and we can only watch and wait to see what any new requirements will be.

Passport Validity

The UK foreign office has already stated that passports need a minimum of 6 months validity before travelling to the EU. Our passports both have a few years validity on them.

I **think** that’s it. Please feel free to pop any (non-political remember!) thoughts in the comments section below.

Cheers, Jay

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Dog

An Obituary for Charlie, Snore Loudly our Little Man

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How we remember him, a happy bunny of a fella. Big eyes, button nose and a floppy ham tongue! How we remember him, a happy bunny of a fella. Big eyes, button nose and a floppy ham tongue!

On 28 June 2018, our beloved dog Charlie passed away. He was 11 years old, chasing 12, but his heart rapidly weakened in the past few months of his life, causing him breathing difficulties, which in the final days we could no longer ignore. It was clear he was suffering, and when an aged, experienced vet in Bourg-Saint-Maurice in the French Alps calmly told us he’d only days to live, with a sense of deep dread we asked for him to be put down. At 12:15pm, with bright sunlight shining from a blue sky on the steep wooded hillsides and cliffs around us, he died in our arms.

Rest up well Charlie, snore loudly wherever you are.Rest up well Charlie, snore loudly wherever you are.

That was three days ago now, and the raw grief we’ve felt is slowly, gradually easing, bursting upwards like a newly tapped oil well from time to time, unannounced, intense. Our ears still listen for his snores and barks, we expect his smiling face at the door to the motorhome when we come back in, and eating without at least one of his beady eyes watching each mouthful is a sad experience. When I opened the curtains to our motorhome yesterday in a valley near Mont Blanc, the beauty of the place hit me: this was a place I’ve love to sit with Charlie and enjoy life, but I couldn’t, ever again, he’s gone from us. Ju’s dreamed of a voice telling us to look for him in the high Alpine passes and the snowy valleys. Oh god, we loved that dog with all of our hearts!

Ju and I on a walk with Charlie in 2010Ju and I on a walk with Charlie in 2010

Charlie first came into our lives over a decade ago. I’ve always wanted a dog, but couldn’t as both Ju and I worked full time. We were not long married when my parents both finally retired and a possibility arose for a kind of ‘dog sharing’ arrangement. We’d own the pooch, but Mum and Dad would look after him during weekdays. We started a short search, with Ju finding an advert for a dog on the company internal website. On a nervous evening visit, we stood in the lounge as the owner explained her son was allergic to her dog, so she had to let him go, before opening the kitchen and out poured joy! All eyes and smiles, a tiny Charlie flew out, unable to stop on the shining floor and crashed into Ju. Our fates were sealed in an instant, we fell in love and picked him up a day later, the start of a wonderful ten year journey.

Charlie's first day with us, 9 Feb 2008Charlie’s first day with us, 9 Feb 2008

For the next three years we settled into a rhythm. Ju and I would drop Charlie off with Mum and Dad about 7:30am, head to work and then pick him up that evening about 5:30pm. Every morning the little fella would know when we were getting close to their house, and fill the car with excited barking. Somehow this developed sense of being close to his destination spilled over into his later travelling life too, and he seemed to know when we were a mile away from our stopping point almost before we did! Mum and Dad loved the little chap too, easy to love as he was, and would regale us with stories of the day’s happenings each evening.

Charlie with me, Mum, Dad, my sister Amanda and brother-in-law Andy in 2010Charlie with me, Mum, Dad, my sister Amanda, Dillon the pup and brother-in-law Andy in 2010

Our working lives were full of the usual stress and speed, and playing with Charlie, walking him in the nearby fields and woods, just stroking him or having him sleep by our feet was a hugely comforting thing. Our memories from back then are of him standing by the pond, pawing floating fish food back to the edge for him to eat (and once falling in, requiring rescue by Ju), of ‘bark-ball’ where he’d leap high in the air trying to bite a football three times the size of his head (we still have the remains of it!), of being a very reluctant early morning walker (leading to the life-long designation of dog walks as ‘dog drags’) and of fetching sticks too wide for the front door (leading to some veeeerrryyy long stand-offs between dog and house door). Some evenings, around 7pm, the joy of life would burst forth in the wee man and he’d peg it around the house and garden at top speed, ears and tongue flapping wildly, an episode Mum called his ‘mad half hour’.

Off out for a walk. I'd hide in the long grass while Ju held him facing the other way, and he'd sniff me out, licking my ears when he found me.Off out for a walk. I’d hide in the long grass while Ju held him facing the other way, and he’d sniff me out, licking my ears when he found me.

A few months later Charlie joined us in our campervan for a two week jaunt around Scotland. Harvey took us all up the rainy-sunny West Coast, over to Mull and Skye. Charlie slept in our beds, taking up far too much room for his diminutive size, giving us back ache as we tried to get comfortable on the remaining 2/3 of a bed. We’ll never forget him hogging the halogen heater one cold evening, then going nuts barking at it the following day as we travelled, perhaps because it was switched off? Looking back, the mode of travel we settled into later on, as well as a thousand other aspects of our lives, were heavily influenced by Mogwai, one of Charlie’s many nicknames, including Huffle Puffle, Herr Poochalot, Muttski, The Beast (which Mum hated), Doggle Boggle, Shmoo, Little Man, Wee Beasty and the epic Hairy-o-Furry-o-Savage-o-Canine-o-Ex-Static-o-In-a-Bag-Beast-Alot (with obscure later references to his fur becoming charged in the dry deserts of Morocco, to his wolf-like nature appearing when he had a bone, and a failed attempt to sneak him onto a bus to Barcelona in a bag).

Ju and I with the Mogwai in May 2008Ju and I with the Mogwai in May 2008 Having sleepies in Harvey the RVHaving sleepies on his new soft bed in Harvey the RV Checking the table for treats on the Isle of MullChecking the table for treats on the Isle of Mull

After three years, now in 2011, we cut the cord from work, bought Dave (our original Hymer B544), started this blog and set sail for Europe. It must have been a wrench for my parents to see him go, they invested so much time and love in looking after him for us, sometimes even for a week at a time, but they hid it well. This blog tells the tale of what happened next: two simply amazing years of travel with out little man with us 24-7. He was always there, fused into our daily routines and plans, still a young man enjoying legging it around on a hundred beaches, sniffing new air in high mountains, barking at the lapping of waves and ‘rescuing’ a million stones from the seas of Europe. This latter habit, along with me throwing stones from him to chase, wore his front teeth down to stumps. This caused everyone worry, but in the end he showed no sign of pain, ate with abandon (he loved his food!) and we’re glad we let him carry on in his endless rescue quests.

Switzerland, 2012Switzerland, 2012 Ernest stone rescue attempts in southern ItalyErnest stone rescue attempts in southern Italy Getting wet was sure to kick off a mad half hour! This was in the desert at Ksar Ghilane in Tunisia, where he brought 15Kg of sand into the van!Getting wet was sure to kick off a mad half hour! This was in the desert at Ksar Ghilane in Tunisia, where he brought 15Kg of sand into the van! Trying his luck with a Lidl Lobster in Sicily. Of course he got a bit later on.Trying his luck with a Lidl Lobster in Sicily. Of course he got a bit later on.

Like this article I’m writing now, the blog serves as Ju and I’s collective memory. It means so much to us to have folks write and say they’ve found something useful about it, but it has this second, hugely important purpose to us: it reminds us just how good a life we’ve all had, how we felt as we moved through the world, and what joy and fears we had. It also serves as a connection with like-minded folks out in the world, when we sometimes would otherwise feel isolated out on the road. Let me take a moment to thank each and every one of you who’ve passed on a message of condolence – it eases our pain – we thank you, we thank you.

Ju took this photo from the tower in Sienna, ItalyJu took this photo from the tower in Sienna, Italy

Those first Dave tours lasted two years before the money ran out and we were forced home. He’d been to the Sahara twice, in Morocco and Tunisia, to the edges of Greece and even across Bosnia and a corner of Ukraine. The memories are so extensive, I wouldn’t know where to start, but thankfully this blog will do the job for me to a great extent. One of a million incidents comes to mind: we were travelling back from Tunisia when we found the ferry had no pet-friendly cabins, none of the returning boats did. Our plan to sneak him into the cabin was scuppered, and he had to go into a cage on the deck. His whimpering was too much for us, and I curled up in there with him, ready for a cold and uncomfortable night. Ju managed to persuade the staff  to turn a blind eye in the end, but I’d had happily stayed all night with Charlie to keep him free from fear of being alone out there in the dark.

Oh, and how I can not mention his flirts with death: that guard dog in Morocco which narrowly missed him, the fishing line he ate which turned out be hook-less, the rat poison in Sicily, something he sniffed up in Slovenia which had had an allergic reaction to and the many skanky, rotting things he managed to grab before we could stop him. We called him a ‘cat like dog’ in his early years as he’d clean his own paws and scare us by balancing high on the back of the sofa, and later on we realised he really did have nine lives.

Greece, 2013Greece, 2013 Begging for BBQ fish in 2013. Oh my lord, he was a master and getting food out of me in particular, I was soooo soft with him!Begging for BBQ fish in 2013. Oh my lord, he was a master and getting food out of me in particular, I was soooo soft with him!

Back him in Nottingham, Mum and Dad again took on the role of pooch Grand Parents as we headed back into the world of work, taking us away from our beloved wee man. Later on Auntie Amanda took on the dog-sitting role for us, and I can’t find the words to say how grateful I am to her and my Mum and Dad for enabling us to keep Charlie, and for him to stay within our trusted and loving family. He never stayed in kennels, this means everything to me.

We rented a house for a few months, which Charlie took to with ease, one of his many homes. After so long so close to us in the van, he’d no longer accept sleeping downstairs and would bound up alongside us at night, although Ju was careful to ensure he didn’t sleep in the bed, our would-be-twisted backs couldn’t take it! My state of mind at coming home was initially poor, until we got our teeth into our ‘freedom plan’. Ju’s my life-long love, best friend and soulmate, and along with her support and guidance, Charlie’s carefree presence helped keep my chin up.

Choosing a birthday treat at Pets at HomeChoosing a birthday treat at Pets at Home

Another season, another home, as we bought the butchers the summer of 2014 and moved in, renovating it room by room. Charlie, now aged seven (49 in human years) found himself in a new town, not far from the old one, and leapt into the lives and hearts of new people around us. He was still a fit fella, and I can recall him pegging it up hills we had to scramble up, and walking with us through the woods and fields of a new place, more new sniffs, more places to wee on! Age was starting to creep up on him a little, and we took to carrying him up and down the steep stairs, especially when they were carpet-less, so he could snore alongside us at night or watch us as we worked on the renovation. Not that he couldn’t make it up there alone – one evening around bonfire night we came back home to find he’d disappeared from his bed in the lounge, tracking him down to the back of an upstairs wardrobe, his big eyes wide in fear.

He enjoyed the fire, if not the hat, in our newly-renovated lounge in 2014He enjoyed the fire, if not the hat, in our newly-renovated lounge in 2014

This fear thing by the way… He was afraid of so many things, we learned how to tell people in the easier languages that we were carrying him as he was afraid. In French, we picked up “Il a peur de son ombre” – he’s afraid of his own shadow! The little fella was terrified of bridges, walkways with gaps, heights (except Vesuvius, where he seemed happy to flirt with death on the edge of the crater), cats, any water deeper than his poochy-man-bits (referred to as his ‘bad boy’), the dark (LEDs freaked him out), crowds and loud noises (especially fireworks, which we had to make dens for him to hide in the back of).

In the autumn of 2015 we realised a new dream as we freed ourselves from the need to work, bought another motorhome, Zagan, which I’m currently sat in. We popped Charlie in him and set off out into the world once more. In these final years of his life he set paws on the white sands of the Arctic beaches, crunched his way through the tails of freshly-caught mackerel (he’d eat anything, except lettuce!), sniffed around for fallen dates in the palmeries of Morocco, watched amused at the antics of bounding reindeer and lead his own dog pack at a house sit in Andalusia. At one point in Croatia we met up with a lovely couple with a Winnebago, who offered to cook us a chicken dinner. Charlie had never managed the two steps up into Zagan, but with the whiff of chuck in his nostrils he amazed us all by leaping up the five steps into the RV to his prize of chicken bits!

Capbreton, south-west France in 2015Capbreton, south-west France in 2015 Half dog, half bag, 2016 food snafflingHalf dog, half dog food bag, 2016 food snaffling At the Carlsberg Brewery with the best dog in the world, probablyAt the Carlsberg Brewery with the best dog in the world, probably

By the time 2017 rolled around the Little Man was knocking on ten years old, 70 in human years, and age was catching up with him. He was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a toy breed bred for beauty and companionship, a wonderful breed but beset with in-bred health problems. First arthritis slowed him down, bending his tail which no longer wagged, and making him even more reluctant to walk. Later on syringomyelia (a relatively mild case, thankfully) messed with the signals from brain to paws, leading to a heart-breaking ‘knuckling’ and stumbling when he walked, which we had to harden ourselves to otherwise we’d be in continual tears. Finally his heart developed Mitral Valve Disease, and over the course of perhaps four months grew larger and weaker. Medication could only ease the symptoms of all of these, and we opted to avoid surgery at this late stage in his life, which might kill him or at least cause his significant pain. His body started to retained more and more liquid, leading to one final nickname ‘The Pot-Bellied Shmoo’.

Staithes, Feb 2018Staithes, Feb 2018 Unimpressed with his last snowfall in March 2018, Kimberley, NottsUnimpressed with his last snowfall in March 2018, Kimberley, Notts

After a nine month break from travel, we set out again in April 2018 on a three month ‘Charlie Time’ trip. We knew inside his time was short, although we never expected to bury the fella out here ‘at sea’. Our last weeks with him were gentle ones. We’d keep travel time short, as the diuretics made him need to wee frequently. We stayed in calmer spots, where we could just sit with him and stroke the little chap. We tried (and failed) to keep him cool as he panted away lay under the van with a wet towel on him, or being wafted with a fan like the prince he was to us. A sense of growing dread rose up in us, and life became focused on nursing our Mogwai, carrying him outside for the loo or sniffs, and bringing him food and water which he’d lap at, take a breather, and lap at again until he’d tell us us we satiated with a cool lick to the hand.

Folks who’d also lost pets told us we’d know when the time was right to make that final trip to the vets, but we never did. We looked for a sign which didn’t come and agonised every day on what we should do, terrified of what lay before us. The time finally came after we’d been in the mountains for a week. We’d no idea his heart was so weak, it couldn’t cope with being in the thin air up above 1500m, and after a few days his coughing and laboured breathing became worse. When we finally twigged, we dropped down below 1000m and visited a vets as soon as we could. They scanned him and confirmed his body was a mass of liquid, and gave him and injection and more diuretics.

He was all used up come June 2018, tired from a full, free and loved life.He was all used up come June 2018, tired from a full, free and loved life.

The relief was short-lived as he continued to suffer breathing difficulties at night, gasping for air until he was eventually exhausted. In those final days we’d each of us silently pleaded for the moment he’d fall asleep each night, no longer in discomfort for the day, and although we’re deeply ashamed to say it, had prayed he’d die in his sleep. On Wednesday night he gasped for three hours, and I lost my mind in pain and grief, anger and fear. The following morning Charlie was refusing to eat, perhaps that final, final sign as he always ate, always, he was a wee pig of a dog! Ju went to reception to extend our stay, and the young lady there explained of the two vets in the town, she, a fellow dog owner, thought that the other one was better, if ‘a little strange’, but he spoke no English. She booked us in, and offered to come and translate. Thankfully the appointment was in 30 minutes, so we’d no time to dwell on it.

The vet we met had clearly seen it all. Having been to umpteen vets across Europe, we’ve gotten used to the language gap, but this appointment was different and the time taken for the translation to go back and forth was a torture in itself. After a thorough exam, the vet suggested another type of diuretic, before letting us know that any more altitude would kill him, and even staying low he had only days to live. The mountains, he said, had knocked a few days from his life, but his heart was the problem. The only cure was a new heart, an impossible thing, and in dreadful tears we made the decision to put him down and end his suffering.

As the vet prepared, we hugged and stroked our little boy, giving him gravy bones which he managed to chew, and saying goodbye over and again. Small patches on his front two legs were shaved, and we both pocked the precious bit of fur that came off him. Two injections were carefully administered as he lay there quietly, the first in his back seemed to paralyse him, the second in his front leg killed him in a second. I had may hands on his back, Ju had hers on his heart, and felt it stop. His death was quiet, fast, and with dignity. As he lay there we stood in shock and I asked the vet “Il est mort?“, “Oui, il est mort“, yes, he is dead. Ju lifted his lifeless body onto the soft bag which would carry him to be cremated, we held his paw and kissed his head one last time, paid and cried our way out the door.

And that was the last time we saw him. Over ten years he’s been with us, integrated into our lives, binding us together, giving us joy and (on more than one occasion) a bit of frustration! He was, to a great extent, a guide in our lives, keeping us grounded, reminding us what’s important and what is not. For anyone reading this far who has a dog, cherish them, their time is shorter than ours. We regret nothing about our life with Charlie. We grieve deeply for him, and talk of the many memories we have of him. His suffering is over, he’ll never leave the Alps, but our suffering has just started, and we have to move on.

How we remember him, a happy bunny of a fella. Big eyes, button nose and a floppy ham tongue!How we remember him, a happy bunny of a fella. Big eyes, button nose and a floppy ham tongue!

Rest well, our beautiful little man. Snore loudly, save those stones, beg for chicken and snaffle whatever cack you like now our friend. Nothing can harm you.

Jay, Beaufort, French Alps, 1 July 2018

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Dog

Rest in Peace Charlie – You Were The Best.

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Charlie saves another stone from the sea

Our hearts are broken. Today at 12.15pm we said goodbye to our best friend.

Charlie’s condition had got a lot worse and he was suffering, so it was time for the ultimate act of love.

He died peacefully with us by his side at the local vets. His tummy was full of gravy bones and he will stay here in amongst the snowy peaks of the Alps forever.

Goodbye little man, you will always be in our hearts. We love you.

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