Where were we? Oh yes, going to the Thai restaurant. I truly memorable meal but give me two ticks while I try to remember it. Hmm. I can't remember it.

I spent the next day driving around seeing people who had replied to my advert to sell the van. I saw 4 people. All said that they liked it, they thought the price was good, and they would have bought it except......

And then they gave reasons. Duh! One couple said, they would have bought it, except they really wanted a 4x4 and they were seeing one the next day. Another said he couldn't get a parking permit because it was registered in West Australia. Duh! In the ad I said it was WA registered. Why did he waste my time?

Next day I finished the repairs to the drawers. I mentioned a while back the fabric sides of the pop top got soaked when the wind blew and the rain poured down. I know now I should have 'unpopped' the top, and pulled it down, but that's life.

With all the damp, water had dripped off the sides, and on to the top of the drawers. The drawers were made of chipboard, and with all the moisture the sides expanded, and jammed. So I bought plywood, and replaced the sides which made them better than new, and of course, they worked again.

Then I went to the backpackers car market and checked in. I went there for the next 3 days too. Boring. Really boring.

There were some nice people selling cars, but it was on one level of a multi storey car park, not a great ambience. There were not many people looking to buy vehicles, some of those were OK some were plonkers. Like the 3 French guys, who went over the van with a toothcomb, one of them was a mechanic, they talked me down to a silly price, said they would be back next day at lunch time to buy, and never reappeared, and didn't even phone.

But even after 3 days in the car park I didn't sell the van.

In the evenings after the horrid days at the car park I had some pleasant evenings with Eleanor, sometimes with friends.

I found out that a better time to sell the van would be November, the start of the Australian summer but just now, more backpackers were leaving than arriving.

I found out though, that I had not needed to have worried so much about registering the van. If only the girls had told me. Since I was not a resident of Australia, and travelling, I could have retained the WA registration without problem. Although I have still not received the registration documents from WA.

Right towards the end of the trip I'd been hearing occasional grating noises when I operated the clutch. The mechanic from the French guys heard it too, said it was the clutch. I was due to leave on the Thursday afternoon, I booked it into a garage first thing in the morning to get clutch replaced so that when Eleanor was selling it there would - should - be no problems. (Automotive Services, 187 Bronte Rd, 0403 022 454 - great job. $600, a fair price.) We called on the way to the airport for me to catch my plane home and found that they had just finished. So we picked it up, parked it near Eleanor's and continued to the airport.

Now what did I forget? Here's a photo of one of those snazzy Holden pickups.

I forgot to say, that once again, I forgot to bring the cable to connect my camera to the computer, and had to buy yet another. I'll soon have lots of these cables.

I lost my favourite kitchen knife somewhere. I bought it in Mexico for a silly price, 50 cents or something like that, and I'd taken it with me since it was so useful. I hadn't realised I would be buying a van full of everything I might need. Nor, of course, did I realise that I might lose it...........

You might be interested in more information about the van. My sales advert is attached to this email, one of the photos shows the pop top popped. I never got around to taking a photo of the van like this, and this photo, together with that of the interior, and much of the text, came from the advert that I responded to when I bought the van. I also attach an info sheet - van secrets - that I wrote for the next owner.

I left the van with Eleanor in the hope that she could sell it. She had been telling me it would be no problem.......

On my return I recovered much faster from the time difference, it was in fact no big deal. Just as though someone had told her I was coming back Pica - my cat (actually Eleanor's cat living with me) - was lying at the front of my garden waiting for me.

A couple of days after I left Eleanor went to check the van and found that the battery was flat. The garage came out, said the battery was dead, and fitted a new one, $220. I was rather surprised, it had seemed in excellent condition to me, during the evening when travelling I was used to having the interior light on for 4 or 5 hours (It was dark about 6 pm) and also had the computer on charge during this time, and hadn't had any problem. However, it now had a new battery. I amended the advert.

Eleanor had enough on her plate that day. Not only did she have to hang around with the garage while they were checking why the van would not start, but the charging socket on her computer was bust and she had a major presentation to make at university in a couple of days. The computer shop estimated $800 and a few weeks to fix the charging socket, a horrendous price for what should be a simple job, so she bought another computer, running Linux, for $600. Actually that was exactly the same problem that caused me to buy a new laptop when I was in Slovenia last year, but my laptop was already on it's last legs, you may remember. But because of Linux, Eleanor had to get used to a whole host of new programs as well as setting up a new computer.

Things could only improve. And they did. After a minor hiccup.

A man had come down from Queensland to look at the van, Eleanor went to start it, to warm it up. It doesn't go well when cold. The battery was flat, again. The garage came out, again, while the man from Queensland looked at the van. The garage found a minor problem which they fixed and didn't charge anything, presumably because they were a touch embarrassed by finding out that it hadn't needed the new battery they had fitted before.

But now to the good news. The man from Queensland bought the van! For $3,500. Yippee! So I had paid $2,900, spent $800, and used it for a month. Financially not a bad deal. But with all the hassle and worry it would have been better to have rented a van, for say $1500, maybe up to $2000. Hindsight is great, 20/20 accurate. A month travelling is too short a time to buy and sell a van. Also Eleanor was now getting the hang of Linux, and finding that everything was running much as it did under Windows. It's working so well, and quickly, that I think I'll ditch that slow as a snail Vista from my own lap top and install Linux. (I've said it before but it will bear repetition. I HATE Vista)

Well, that's about it. What did I think about the trip? It's a long way to go. I met a lot of nice people. I saw some interesting places. There's nowhere else to go where you can see a kangaroo in the wild. (But what a crazy way to move. Just try hopping across the room.)

I don't think I'll go again to Australia. The people, yes, special. The beaches, great. Some interesting places and nice views.

But it's the other end of the world. More than 20 hours on an airplane, more than 20,000 km flown, more than 40 hours total travel time, each way. It's too far.

Maybe also I'm just getting tired of travelling so much by campervan, I've seen so many places, I've actually spent around 800 days travelling this way. I'm thinking that maybe I'll take shorter trips in future, maybe a week or so at a time, taking a better look at France, Spain, Portugal, or Italy. I might, just might, take a short trip to the US next year. My RV is still parked at Micki's in Texas, last I heard, it was still OK, Tony was starting it up every now and again.

So I've reached the end of this journey. Thank you for joining me on the trip. I hope you have enjoyed reading my accounts, I have enjoyed your emails, and having you along. I hope to see you all again, somewhere. If you're in France, please call by, I'll be glad to see you.

Best regards

David Barker
Mirande, France

If you've still time to spare visit my neighbour http://foiesgras.lahille.pagespro-orange.fr

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