Just 7 days until we embark on the summer 2010 house swap! Not that I’m panicking
So, exactly how much effort does it take to plan a marathon house swap and then to get ready for it? At this stage of the game, I’m pleased to say the major stuff has been organised;
1. After at least 89 emails starting February 2010, I just signed the last of four contracts for this summer’s swaps last weekend – phew! The contracts are a great way to set out the exact dates/times/contacts for the trip – and also, to provide an agreement about what’s expected of each other. We print them off and keep them with our travel info folder, for easy access on the road.
2. For this trip, we’ve organised 4 house swaps, 1 outward ferry, 1 overnight stop with family, 1 organic farm viewing, 1 meetup & stayover with prospective swappers for 2011, 1 meetup with more prospective swappers for 2010/11, 1 stayover with previous house swap friends, 1 get together with other previous house swapping friends, 1 catch up visit with newly married French friends and 1 stayover with old British friends.
We’ve still got a few overnight stays to arrange in between the 1st and 2nd swaps and the return ferry, but that can wait until we’re on our way… it’s always good to have some flexibility after all!
2. The Organikal Home Exchange Manual has been updated with this year’s information, including a re-write of the personal introduction to our home and area. We’ve been collecting tourist information for months, and it took me about 4 hours to re-compile the folder with that and to re-write the household instructions/welcome pack last weekend:
3. I’ve finally managed to organise the gifts we leave for our home exchange partners. We opted for Scottish wine from Cairn o’ Mohr and my personal favourite Hebridean oatcakes. I also made a double batch of chilli jam to add in. The jam takes a couple of hours from beginning to end, but the wine and oatcakes were by mail order and veg box delivery respectively, so I can’t really claim much time for them.
I did spend some time choosing the tartan ribbon to tie off the wine. Us Scots folk may have a dislike for tartan, but for our foreign visitors, it’s quintessentially Scottish, so I opted for my family tartan “Anderson” to add a personal touch:
4. We haven’t combined camping with our house swaps before, and we’ve really no idea how we’re going to fit it all the extra stuff in. We’ve started gathering it all here, where it way stay until the weekend when there is talk of perhaps having a trial run to see if the space can accommodate everything:
This pile will just keep growing over the next week. My idea of camping and boys’ idea of camping isn’t the same, so I’m hoping lack of space will justify alternative arrangements
This probably takes most of our time, as you’d expect. Because we’re mostly location independent, we can usually just carry on as normal whilst travelling and during the swaps. This year we’re going a bit radical and have planned to take at least a week’s holiday. There’s no permanent WiFi until house exchange no 3, either. Talk about a shake up!
6. And the Grand Adventure master plan with all the little details? Yes, that’s covered by a whiteboard, too. I’m always pleased to see more ticks than not, but even as I look at today’s version I know there’s stuff that isn’t on the board that still needs to be tackled;
7. Entertainment. We’ve discovered we don’t need a lot of it, however books are such an essential part of our lives, that we’ve previously found ourselves packing 2 large bags of them to take with us. It’s mainly down to Ruaridh. He can tackle a single book in one sitting! So, in combination with our audio books and ebooks, full of motivation and inspiration, we usually assemble a large selection of ‘holiday reads’.
I managed to grab four books for £2 at Suzanne’s fund-raising tea party (I was especially pleased with the Spanish dictionary) and Martin bought a few more from the charity shop for £2 each (the Baldacci, Connelly and Crichton selection obviously his – I’m sure he’s read them before, but who can tell?). We do have an order ready to go on Amazon (it’s tough to find books I like on the charity shop shelves) and we bought a load from Waterstones for Ruaridh, but we know there will just never be enough space for all of the ones we’d like to take.
T-7. Crikey, I’d better get on …
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