I don't know exactly how it came about but I suspect one Sunday after dinner, which generally features a shared bottle of wine a conversation like this took place.

"So we want to go to Wirral Sea Shanty festival at the end of March"

"Yes, and the Small Motor Home Forum meet in June"

"We could tag a trip to Orkney on to one of them"

"Which one, might be a bit cold in March and the midges will be out in June"

"Oh, I don't know"

"Oh, I don't know either"

[Short silence]

"Stupid idea - why don't we just stay out from March to June and go to Orkney in the middle?"

"What, stay out, what is it, nearly 12 weeks, that's ridiculous"

[Long silence]

"You know, it's not such a stupid idea, it could work"

"We'd have to be careful not to murder each other being in the van that long"

So the idea to spend nearly 12 weeks together crammed into a space smaller than most folk's wardrobe came about. Of course, planning was essential but the trip also needed to be spontaneous. I used Furkot to at least outline the trip to make sure that it started straight after the Sea Shanty Festival and had us back in England in time for the Forum Meet. It had campsites and landmarks to see pencilled in but it was really just a guide to see when approximately we would be where approximately.

Once that was done we could search for local events: Orkney Folk Festival - nope doesn't fit. Islay Whisky Festival - would fit if we reverse the entire trip and go that way last - but means the risk of midges as we'll be on the W Coast of Scotland in Jun. Ah, but if we reverse the trip we can fit the Kingdom Of Fife Beer Festival in. Complete replan with a couple of hard stops!

Not just the itinerary but what to take. How many week's worth of clothes - too many and the van space will be consumed, too few and we'll spend much of the holiday in laundrettes. We settle on about 3 weeks and making sure everything can be used as a layer so as to work as the seasons change.

No luxuries - we'll take Liz's laptop mainly to backup photos, no amateur radio except for a small handheld, no TV. Will we miss TV not having it for almost 12 weeks? Can we pare down what is in the van to maximise space. We need to leave a reasonable amount of empty space for in-trip purchases - I'm sure there will be visits to distilleries and wee might want souvenirs!

What about the practicalities? We won't be able to open the door after 12 weeks mail has piled on our doorstep. Do we need to cancel magazines - the Radio Times being a good candidate. I speak with a friend and in exchange for him having 11 weeks' worth of RT he will collect them weekly and in doing so move the mail away from the door. A suddent thought - our house insurance is invalid if it is unoccupied for a period of greater than 60 days. Rats, we'll have to sweet-talk one of the girls to pop over for a night or too. Then we get a phone-call from Liz's sister - could they leave the car on our drive whilst they go on a cruise. They plan to come down a day or two before and spend a couple of nights in Southampton an an hotel. Now, there's a win-win - they can stay at ours saving them hotel bills and my children a special trip. The garden? Well it is spring, April showers and all that, everything ought have a reasonable change of survival without sorting out water timers.

Doctors appointments, dentist, hairdresser, window-cleaner all re-arranged or cancelled.

Let's do it!