From Hostess to Mostess
Perhaps it was getting turned down as an air hostess for BA at 18 that made me determined to travel as often and as far as I could – and perhaps that’s why now – at almost 60 – my husband and I are buying our first motorhome!
Let’s turn back the clock a little – the alternative career option was a shorthand typist in Canterbury Prison…..no thanks! In the late 70’s early 80’s the glamorous world of travel (unless you were an air hostess) was to be a “travel rep or courier” as we called it then. Bring on the first camping experience as a campsite rep in Bénodet in Brittany – Camping de la Plage – for those of you who have been there! I aspired to the Caribbean but ended up in Bénodet! Fast forward through 5 summers in a tent and 5 winters in the ski hotels of Austria and my career was well – static but fun!
At the same time, my future and yet unknown husband was on United Nations peace-keeping operations in Zimbabwe/ Rhodesia, Namibia and Cambodia as an officer in the Australian Army. He was craving travel too, however to less dangerous places! Returning to the UK in 1992, the travel bug bit again and in a fit of pique, I joined the UN’s training department and headed for Zagreb during the Bosnian conflict at the end of ’93. In the queue to check-in at Heathrow T3 was David, a now retired army officer also off to join the UN as Chief Engineer for Bosnia Herzegovina in Sarajevo. I was to be based in Zagreb – and a fairly long distance romance ensued and as they say – the rest is history!
We had a dream
No kids and “mainstream” careers continued in the UK – I travelled the world regularly with work as a medical congress organiser – David was more restrained by his daily commute from Windsor to Waterloo to work in facilities management – mmm! What sustained us through those long dreary winters in the UK was the dream of “something else”! One day we would ……
- move to France
- own a B&B
- buy a canal boat
- work as “mature aged” ski bums
- travel around Europe as “resort reps” (they’re definitely not called couriers anymore!)
- house swap
- teach English in China
- and buy a motorhome and tour Europe and ski out of it in the winter ….
In fact do anything that took us somewhere else! And it did……12 years on… an opportunity for David to go back to Canberra for three years allowed me to retrain as a chef at 50 years old!
A life full of adventure
We DID move to France; we have worked as Chalet Chef and Host in the French Alps for five winters; we toured the UK as Samsung Ambassadors on the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay; we worked as very immature(!) resort reps for Tui in Majorca and Turkey; and went to Africa 3 times.
Whilst we haven’t bought a canal boat or taught English in China yet, we do run a cooking school and a gîte on an old wine Domaine on the banks of the Canal du Midi called Cooking by the Canal du Midi where we run intimate classes for our international clients creating beautiful food from our local suppliers! And in July we will own our first motorhome!
Have Motorhome will travel
Having followed The Motoroamers for a while – their life on the road in their Pilote Scoobie, their “First Step Starter Kit“ and videos have been inspirational for us – we had another serendipitous moment when we discovered them house-sitting for our friends just five minutes up the road! Having toured the dealers in Toulouse and Narbonne, we had settled on a Rapido and were about to sign on the dotted line. However, a first-hand tour of Scoobie, plus their brilliant advice over lunch and a few wines, has convinced us of the joy that is a well-insulated Pilote 740C with an island bed not a French one – David is 6’4″ so a lucky escape we feel!
The decision itself has been a journey – new or second-hand; profile or A class; French or island bed; buy in the UK or France; Bailey, Hymer, Rapido or Pilote; to Gas bottle or Gaslow; alarms; payloads; and wild camping or sites etc – what an absolute minefield it all is! So thank goodness for you motorhome folk out there with your blogs, your forums and your questions and answers, advice and comments, we salute you all!
And our Number 1 lesson? TBYB
So the answer……. after a 3 night try before you buy (we are very spur of the moment people as you can guess) we bought the next day at TPL Narbonne in France. We are still deciding on our extras! We won’t get custody of our new baby until July, which is good as we have our one day classic French cooking classes to run throughout the summer and we need to stay focused (a bit)! We have made great new friends, learned loads and expect to learn a whole lot more over the coming years – and to hopefully meet many of you on the road! And if you are looking for good impartial advice, you can’t do better than Karen and Myles!
Merci et à bientôt
How wonderful! Wish uou all the best on the roads of Europe. And maybe one day we can meet up as we are beginning to make longer trips as well…
And yes the motoroamers are inspirational!
Thanks for your good wishes, we are beyond excited and hope to see you out there!
Thanks Chris and Peter, lovely of you to say. Kxx
Great posting , were getting ready for our 3 months holiday in benicarlo Spain followed by 2 months helping on an English owned campsite nr cahors France
Enjoy your Spanish trip Chris and the work at Cahors sounds marvellous. Such an amazing part of the world. Kx
Thank you for this Instagram inspirational read. We are at midlife change point !! I think crisis is to harsh these days !! We are lucky enough to have a wonderful Hymer motorhome and we are now planning our ‘ escape’ to live in France. We have been thinking of in one vehicles and house sitting being one of them, vegan cuisine another.
Karen, Miles and yourselves continue to allow us to believe our dreams are achievable 😀 happy motorhoming xxxxxx
Hi Sharon – I love that – mid-life change point. How wonderful that you have such great plans for living in France. All sounds so exciting. Here’s to living your dreams too. Karen x
I’ve learnt so much about you both from this article!!
I simply love your zest for life and determination to following your dreams. So looking forward to reading all about the adventures to come in your motor home.
Enjoy. Enjoy. And enjoy. Loads of advice out there so listen/read and adapt. Do blog so we can follow your adventures. X
Hi Heather (and of course David!), your continuing retirement journey endorses my own belief that where our working lives end real life begins, but you guys do it with knobs on!
Sorry I still haven’t made it down to cook by your canal but I never say never! Enjoy your future experiences!
Hi Linda, I will pass on your comments to David and Heather. Karen x
Wow, I’m exhausted just from reading their life story! But in a good way, lol.
Well done them for following through with their wish list. Thanks, Karen for sharing Jo x
Hi Jo, they are an inspiration aren’t they? We love their spirits. Kx