The Blog

Weeks 10 to 13 - The End of a So Called Summer

Weeks 10 - 12
Sunday 27th September 2015

We were off again today, we are going to Cornwall for a few weeks but have detoured to Hayling Island for a few days to wave Rosemary and Frank off when they travel home tomorrow. Regular readers will know we have spent a considerable time with R & F over the past months, they are very good company and we will be sorry to see them go.

Monday 28th September 2015
Well R & F left this morning to catch the ferry to Spain and from there drive the 1000 km to their home. I hope they felt better than I do, we had a bit of a party last night - nuff said!

Tuesday 30th - Wednesday 31st September 2015
We have spent the last couple of days looking around Hayling Island, Sue hasn’t been here for many years and I don’t think I’ve ever been. It is a very touristy place, rather flat but with some superb beaches - like a posh Canvey Island.

Thursday 1st October 2015
Moving day. We will eventually get to Cornwall but first plan to go to Lyme Regis in Dorset (although right on the Dorset/Devon border). We have come to Carnbrae CL a small site on the route to where we used to stay when caravanning here in the late 80’s. We would have gone back on a sentimental journey but the site we used to use still has no electric hook-ups and while we could, we have no desire to “rough it” by going off grid.

We have been down to a fishmonger in town and bought a crab for our tea - fabulous.

Friday 2nd - Tuesday 6th October 2015
We have had a very pleasant few days re-exploring Lyme Regis and the surrounding area, although it turned expensive as around the corner from the site was clothing manufacturer, Country Covers who specialise in huntin’, fishin’ an’ shootin’ as well as police and army kit where we managed to buy not one, not two but three super dooper jackets.

Wednesday 7th October 2015
Another day another move, a long way this time, well not far really, less than five miles in fact. We would be happy to stay where we were but Sue’s brother, sister-in-law and dog-in-law are visiting for the weekend and the facilities (none) are not suitable for that sized group so here we are at Wood Farm a big commercial site just off the A35. Since buying our first caravan in 1983 this is (almost) the only time (in the UK) we have stayed on a commercial site. Previously all our sites had been Camping and Caravan Club or Caravan Club CS or CL sites with the occasional visit to one of the actual club sites. These sites while giving a good standard of facility are rather regimented and rule heavy, for example, when we went to Spain last winter we went by ferry from Plymouth so spent one night at the CC Exeter Racecourse Site. We were staying less than 12 hours and, as the site was virtually empty, was the only unit in several rows of pitches. On a Camping Club site you are required to park the rear offside corner of the van by a short wooden peg and I had driven on from the back of the pitch and managed to get the peg on the nearside corner - you would have thought I had destabilised the world and unless corrected this little error was going to cause the end of civilisation - we were the only unit in the middle of a big empty field. Add to ever-increasing regulation the ever-increasing prices and you have a powerful reason to generally use the small farm sites. We had called in at the Camping and Caravan Club Site less than a mile from where we now are and after telling us what we could not do we were left in no doubt that a look around would be tolerated but certainly not welcomed and that the price would be a very hefty (for this time of year at least) £25.00 per night plus extra for Paul, Carol Beka (the dog) and the car, putting it in the £30.00 a night area.

The contrast at Wood Farm could not have been more different, the site was affiliated to both Caravan Club and Camping and Caravan Club and a discount was available to members of both organisations. The receptionist suggested we have a walk or drive around, perhaps have a coffee (or something stronger) in the restaurant/bar then call back at reception with any queries. A quick drive round confirmed this was where we wanted to spend the weekend and, while waiting for the receptionist to finish with another customer noticed an ACSI sign. ACSI cards were accepted at a cost of €16.00 (£12.00) per night this included car, caravan, two persons, dog, electricity, etc., and if you stayed for seven nights, as we did, you paid for just six making the ACSI fee a paltry £10.28 per night. There was a fee of £5.00 per additional adult making the three nights our visitors stayed just £20.28 cheaper than the C&CC fees for just two of us. OK rant over, hobby horse unsaddled and stabled.

Thursday 8th - Sunday 11th October 2015
We’ve had a super weekend, had lots of not too strenuous walks, plenty of good food, including another super crab salad meal (pity we did not realise that Carol hated salad) created from two local fresh cooked crabs that we cleaned and dressed ourselves and a bottle or two of very acceptable wine. We had just one outing to Forde Abbey and Gardens, entrance to the house is cheap but the entrance to the garden expensive yet I found the house far more interesting the the rather ordinary garden, even if it did boast that at a maximum height of 160ft it has the highest powered fountain in England - notice the word “powered” it is there because Stanway House in Gloucestershire has one with a maximum height of 300ft which it claimed is the highest single jet fountain in the world, but theirs is gravity fed!

Tuesday 12th October 2015
Moving day. We are now at long last going to go Cornwall having set off over two weeks ago. We have travelled to Wooda Farm at Bude. It is another commercial site and it too accepts ACSI cards we could again stay here for just £12.00 per night but feeling in a bone idle mood when we booked in we elected to have a fully serviced pitch at an extra £4.00 per day, a lot of money but it’s still cheaper than a Caravan Club or Camping and Caravanning Club.

Wednesday 13th - Monday 19th October 2015
We have had a very pleasant stay here in Cornwall, a county we have visited may times since spending our honeymoon here in 1971 with some particular highlights. On the food front a very high high was on a visit to Padstow we bought some crab cakes at Rick Steins wet fish shop, without doubt they were the very best crab cakes we have ever eaten, they were superb and made even better by being sold at half price as their sell by date was the day after we bought them. Still on the food front the very lowest of the low also involved crab, it was crab sandwiches purchased from Boscastle Fishing Company the most overpriced, poorest excuse for a sandwich it has ever been my misfortune to experience. Two small, thin slices of (very) stale bread with a crab filling, the filling was admittedly good, but £6.00 for two slices of bread and a spoonful of crab!!!!!!!!!! When we got back to the caravan I looked them up on trip advisor and was not surprised to find the reviews slated it and indicated views similar to mine, imagine the surprise when I went back to Trip Advisor when writing this to find there are thirty three reviews, twenty six are five star “excellents" and four are four star “very goods” when I looked them up on there was, as far as I remember, no five star reviews yet some predate my 15th October research. I was always skeptical as to the value of Trip Advisor reviews and now . . . 

A visit to the Tavistock Goose Fair was a fairly strange experience. We were expecting a large farmers type market with lots of fresh produce (including Geese) being sold. It was indeed the biggest street market we have ever seen but, other than fast food, not a fresh item on sale anywhere - it was like an outdoor “ideal home accessory” exhibition. We bought new pillows, a milk frother and some other items we hadn’t realised we could not live without. On the bus back to the Park and Ride car park we heard someone else bemoaning the same, they were told that there was a very large farmers type market but it was at the other end of the town from where we had been. There were no signs and for a fair that has been running for over 800 years it lacked signage.

Tuesday 20th - Thursday 22nd October 2015
We are on our way back home now, well back to little Henham which we call home while we are in the UK but via Cardiff, our TV has gone wrong AGAIN! A small TV can be bought for around £100 but wanting something a bit more rugged we paid a small fortune for a 12volt caravan specific jobbie, an Avtex. It has been back to the manufacturer twice already, hopefully this will be “three times lucky” We dropped it at the service office around 4.30 Tuesday afternoon and had a phone call from them at 10.00am Wednesday saying it was repaired within an hour of receipt and had been on test since. With a new motherboard and various other bits it was almost a new TV. Not, perhaps the best TV’s but certainly the best after sales service - by far.

Wednesday 23rd October 2015
Well, we are back in Little Henham. We plan to stay here, visiting relatives and in-between doing some boring stuff like car servicing, etc until it’s time to get going again after


Weeks 7 to 9 - Big Do’s And Little Do’s

Sunday 30th August 2015.
We must have been looking tired when we reached Bardsea Leisure Park this afternoon as when we arrived at reception Terry, the “guvnor”, said “it’s tight up there, as we are so busy, so unhitch and I’ll pull your van up and put it on the pitch with a tractor”. Using one of their mini tractors Terry whisked the caravan to the pitch and reversed it in, hardly pausing for breath. He was certainly right about it being full we had the very last empty pitch.

Wednesday 2nd September 2015.
Up early this morning we had to deposit the caravan keys at the workshop by 9.00am. Fortunately we did not have to take the van down there, they collect it, serviced it and put it back on the pitch.

Now we had offloaded the caravan for the day we headed to Booths Supermarket for a top notch breakfast, not as cheap as Tesco but far better quality ingredients.

We always (try) to visit pals Carol and David when we are in this area so after our brekky we set of for Millom where we spent the day in their beautiful home overlooking the Dudden Estuary. That evening we went to a restaurant so new it has yet to get its alcohol license. It was superb. Unfortunately, despite not drinking (I was designated driver), I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the restaurant or where it was - it’s an age thing, now what was I talking about??.

Thursday 3rd - Sunday 6th September 2015.
We’ve gone west to just outside Halifax, where Sue’s niece and family live to visit for a few days. We walked, we visited the Keighley Agricultural Show, we ate at the local pub. A very pleasant visit and a pleasant site

Monday 7th - Sunday 27th September 2015
We are back in Little Henham Hall Farm CS visiting relatives, getting the car MOT’d and doing the many other things that need doing before heading off to spend six months or so in the sun.

One of the major items was beefing up the rear suspension, last year the car failed it’s very  first MOT at just 2.1/2 years old with shot rear springs, a consequence, I assume, of dragging 1.8 tonnes of caravan around Europe they were replaced and this year they passed the MOT. After considerable research I settled on MAD-Suspension Progressive units which fit inside the existing units making little or no difference but helping when the suspension comes under load. These were purchased for just £132.46 and fitted by the garage that did the MOT for £60.00. It seemed a lot initially as there seemed to be no change to the drive at all, that is until the caravan was hitched up. From the outset the caravan has always towed nose down while the car has always dipped its rear end a little it was now totally level. Twin axle caravans are noted for their stability and ours was no exception - except when overtaken by white van man, a huge articulated lorry or a double decker bus had no effect but a transit van had it skittering all over the road. Since the MAD-Suspension units were fitted it is as steady as a rock, nothing moves it and as an added bonus the car seems less stressed when towing, our cruising speed when towing has gone up from 55 mph to 60 mph although I cannot yet say whether it has had any effect on fuel consumption.

Week 5 & 6 - Alone Again

Week 5

Sunday 16th August 2015.
Well that shows what sort of week we had last week as I managed to finish it on Saturday not Sunday - Oh well.

Just found out that R & F will head south tomorrow. Their daughter has got a job in Dubai and rather than a start in a few months as originally thought it is in just a few  weeks so their whole family is heading for York for a get together and a big family party.

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So what will we do now??

We have spent a lot of time with R & F since Christmas so it will seem quite strange to be on our own again so to get used to the idea we are going to stay here for a couple of days then travel west to a site we have long fancied a little south east of Loch Lomond then south stopping in the border country on the way.

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Thursday 20th August 2015.
After lazy (but still wet) days we have now gone, not quite south, but south west to a CS (Certified Site) with a fabulous view over Loch Lomond and - shock horror - the sun is shining.

Week 6

Tuesday 25th August 2015
We have had five very pleasant days here. The sun didn’t shine for very long but at least it has not been constantly raining.

While getting ready to move on I started chatting to another happy camper, also getting ready to move and our immediate neighbour joined in the chat. Turns out he was a caravan engineer who noticed our battery, the super Rolls we bought last Christmas. “If your caravan is still under guarantee” he said “you ought to replace that battery before it goes in for its next service.” I asked why and he explained that the battery was of a much later technology than the chargers used in UK caravans and motorhomes which cannot keep up with the demands of the battery. Apparently using this type of battery voids the aforementioned guarantee as sooner or latter it will cause charger problems. Our van is in for service in just eight days - oh bugger!!

We have moved to a part of Scotland we have not visited before, The Borders, and have camped at Newark Farm, a Caravan Club awarded certificated location. It is a very pleasant site just outside the small Dumfries and Galloway town of Sanquhar.

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Saturday 29th August 2015
We have spent a very pleasant few days around Sanquhar. The town is close enough to walk to and although we spent the first day trying, unsuccessfully, to locate a “Banner” or “Numax” leisure battery (hurrah for t’interweb and next day delivery) we have determined to return and spend a greater time in the area. As well as many walks around the immediate area we have visited a local lead mine, local to which are the two oldest lending libraries in the world. They came about because the original mine owners were Quakers and required every employee and his family, men, women and even children, to learn to read and write. While at the mine you can have a go at panning for gold, and one lucky chap panned a nugget worth ten thousand quid when he had a go in July this year. Linked to the lead mining industry was a narrow gauge railway that local enthusiasts have restored and with engines owned by individual members - big boys toys!!! - how good is that?

Sunday 30th August 2015
Moving day, not particularly far. We are off to Ulverstone in Cumbria where the caravan will be serviced by our supplier Bardsea Leisure, and no, they will not see a Rolls battery on board they will find a Banner.

Weeks 3 & 4 - Rain, Rain and more Bl**dy Rain.

Weeks 3

Monday 27th July 2015
Moving day, we aren’t going very far, just 89 miles up the road to West Mains CL, a little south of Edinburgh where we will stay for our visit to the Edinburgh Fringe. It was quite strange as we left West Brightenflatt CL we turned right and R&F turned left. Mr Tom Tom and Mr Garmin obviously had different ideas as how to get to the next site. As it turned out they were both right as we were both directed to the A74M. Normally when we are off to a new site I Google street view the entrance so that, firstly, we know there is room to access the site as we have been to several where the access road is too narrow to allow us to turn into the site and, secondly, we can recognise it as we approach and go in the right gate. On this occasion I had not quite got round to it but we had the post code and it was on the main A702 road into Edinburgh so what could possibly go wrong. Approaching where the sat-nav said was the turning into the farm, we saw dustbins at the end of a narrow farm track and although no Caravan Club sign was in evidence we turned left and went a half mile up the track before deciding we were in the wrong place. So now we had to get not one but two 12 m (40 foot plus) rigs turned round and out again. We had failed to take into account that a navigator will take you to the centre of a post code which generally covers around six dwellings/businesses, in town this is generally a small area in a single street but in a rural environment can cover a very large area. We were told by a couple of builders in a van (almost) patiently waiting for us both to turn round that where we wanted was the next farm entrance around 300 metres further up the road. 

So far the trip is going so well - not.

This week, although Rosemary and Sue have spent many hours rummaging through the Fringe Festival programme, sorting a programme for our stay and getting tickets, the main bulk of the week has been spent trying, and failing, to fend off illness. Frank has had a serious chest infection that needed a visit to the doctor. Sue has spent three days without leaving the van and one of those without leaving her bed fighting an horrendous cold. Rosemary is also fighting a cold which at the middle of the week looked as if she was winning but now at the end of the week she definitely looks as if she is loosing.

I have irritated all three to distraction by remaining stubbornly healthy.

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We had just one trip out this week, to the Falkirk Wheel. Sue and I have been several times but for Rosemary and Frank it was a first and both were impressed although Frank was not impressed enough to join us for a trip to the top and back. What was (almost) new to us were the nearby Kelpies, 30-metre high horse-head sculptures, designed by sculptor Andy Scott and were completed in October 2013. I say almost because they are adjacent the M9 and we did pass that way during their building.

We had the sad news this week that Sue’s last aunt on her fathers side had died. We don’t yet know when the funeral is but we do plan to attend.

Week 4

Sunday 2nd August - Wednesday 5th August 2015
While Rosemary and Frank were fighting their illness Sue and I did a foray into Edinburgh to try out the Park and Ride and to visit one of the Edfringe Ticket Offices. On our last visit to the Fringe in 2013 we stayed on the Caravan Club’s Edinburgh site, a good site but from where it was such a pain to get into the city centre that we finished up resorting to taxis. From the site we are in now it’s an easy twenty minute drive to the Park and Ride and a half hour bus ride straight into the heart of Fringe land.

One of the pains of this lifestyle is that the normal tasks of life i.e. laundry, still have to be carried out. Although I say “normal tasks” people in this part of Scotland do not seem to use laundrettes. There are one or two around the university in Edinburgh city centre but unless you can get the washing there without using your car they are a no no. We finished up travelling a long way to find one, and we will have to visit again before we move.

Thursday 6th August 2015
Our first day at The Fringe. We got off to a great start with a one man show “... and this is my friend Mr Laurel” from Jeffery Holland, it was superb and such a contrast to the other stuff (Spike - Hi De Hi, James Twelvetrees - You Rang M’Lord) that we have seen this actor in. That was followed by three more events some like that from Jeffery Holland were superb others well…….perhaps not so good. On the bus back to the Park & Ride we went on a mystery tour when the bus driver had a senior moment and took a wrong turn necessitating a considerable detour before managing to get back on his route without missing any stops. Presumably he had forgotten what number bus he was on.

Friday 7th August 2015
Another day another play, well several actually and like yesterday some good and some not so good and finishing with a burlesque show which was very entertaining.


Saturday 8th August 2015
Up at break of sparrow f**t this morning, off to Edinburgh airport where we got a plane to Stansted so we can attend a surprise birthday party for Bro-in -Law Peter. I have often sworn never to fly Ryanair again and this time I mean it. When they started loosing market share MD O’Leary said “. . . . we will no longer unnecessarily p**s off paying customers  . . .” he lied. I was number 81 to board the plane and all customers from number 80 had to put their bags in the hold. We travelled with half empty overhead lockers and had to wait over 30 minutes to get our bag back. Well O’Leary I am well, truly and, totally unnecessarily, p****d off. Thank goodness we are going back Easyjet.

It was a great party and good to catch up with everyone. Big sister Pam managed, with support, to climb 21 steps up to and 21 steps down from the party venue. Since her stroke over Christmas 2013 she has progressed slowly but steadily.

Week 4

Monday 10th August 2015
We were due to return on Sunday but we stayed in Essex for Margie's funeral. We would have attended anyway but it was made easier by already being in Essex.

Sadly our flight time did not allow us to go back to “the house” after the funeral as we would have wished but we were at the funeral itself and that was important to us.

After rushing to Stansted airport and getting there with a reasonable time allowance to get through the dreaded security we were surprised that the boarding gate was not listed. When the gate number was finally listed we toddled down there only to find the plane had been grounded by a fault and another was being flown in from Luton. To be fair the lady on the departure gate did come out and tell us what was going on but looked so terrified I asked her what the problem was and she said that many passengers were very rude and abusive when told of a flight delay - weird, after all she is not to blame. Despite the delay the pilot managed to pull quite a bit of time back and we were just 45 minutes behind schedule.

Tuesday 11th August 2015
Our last day at the Edfringe today, we saw four items sadly, unlike on previous days there was more bad than good still you cant win them all.

Wednesday 12th August 2015
No Fringe events today to allow us to recover from the recent rushing about days and to prepare for moving on tomorrow.

Thursday 13th August 2015
We have enjoyed our EdFringe immensely and would have liked to stay longer but we can hear the call of the north so today we start on that section of our stay. We have moved north to Blairgowrie, not that far just 75 miles, we intend to use this as a stepping off place with the next stop Inverness and the one after John O’Groats. Although we did not get (very) wet while at the Fringe today is the first day with sunshine and no rain since we arrived in Carlisle. Hopefully a taste of things to come.

Friday 14th August 2015
We had hoped that we had turned the corner weather wise but the campsite owner tells us that the forecast for today, tomorrow and the foreseeable future is for rain,rain and even more rain, just what we wanted - not!!

The main industry in this area is fruit farming, mainly of the “soft” variety - strawberries, raspberries, black and redcurrant etc, Sue had found a leaflet detailing farm fruit stalls so she and I went for a drive to get some. We returned with enough soft fruits to feed an army.

Saturday 15th August 2015
It is still raining. We have all just about had enough of it. R & F have cheered themselves up by booking a ferry to Spain, which will get them home to Portugal around a month earlier than planned and we have all agreed another plan, one where we do go not go right to the north, but to the Western Highlands before giving up and going south.

Week 2 - A Great Deal of Nothing Very Much

Well it’s been a funny old week. A bit of a nothing week. We have tiddled about in the caravan doing a great deal of nothing very much. We have been to Gretna Green famous for marriages with around 5,000 couples tying the knot there every year and to Gretna town. Historically it was to Gretna Green that young English runaway couples eloped so that they could be married ‘over the anvil’ from the age of 16 without parental consent.

Gretna Green’s Famous Blacksmiths Shop, where couples have come to marry since 1754, is still there, although to describe it simply as touristy is a considerable understatement.

The town of Gretna was built during the First World War to provide homes for 30,000 employees of a munitions factory that was the biggest in the world at nine miles long - incredible!

There is a large factory shopping outlet - Gretna Gateway -  on the outskirts where we managed to get replacements for both our kitchen and our bathroom towels. The shop chain, Mountain Warehouse, was bringing in a new range of towels to replace the old so the last of the old stock had first been reduced by 50% to clear most of it and then the last few reduced by a further 50% and if you believe that . . . . . . ! still they were a very good price and we did finish up with nine.

There is a distinct shortage of Lidl stores around these parts so we have been struggling to get our second favourite muesli for our brekkie, so while we were at the Gateway we got some ingredients to make our absolute favourite - our own mix. We have made our own on and off for some time but because it has so many ingredients which a) generally come in largish, expensive quantities and b) quite a number of those ingredients are very difficult to source in mainland Europe we have over the last year or two defaulted to second favourite - Lidl’s own. Our recipe is on the food page here.

I didn’t realise quite how many remote controls we now carry - goodness only knows how many “normal” people (those who live in houses) have. On the average evening we use five, I kid you not - five. One to control the outside lights (turn them on and change the colour etc.), one to control the TV, one to control the speaker system, one to control the Minix box and the fifth to control the free-sat box. Everything is getting more complicated even our toothbrush “talks” via Bluetooth © to a little gizmo that tells us how well we are/have brushed our teeth and for how long. Being a grumpy old man I would, of course, say that there is simply more to go wrong, but I expect the ever optimistic youngsters of this world would say it all gives us more control over our lives - yea!! 😀

Talkin Tarn

We first came to this area in 2009 for a week when Sue was doing a course at the University of Cumbria. We had just returned to caravanning after a two or three year break with a new to us caravan and a brand new porch awning. I was still working, driving between Carlisle and Preston, and had gone to work for my first ever night shift. During that night a storm blew up Sue rushed outside as the brand new awning thrashed itself to death, she grabbed it whereupon it lifted her off her feet and threw her backwards onto and old pole in the adjacent hedge. The scars are still visible. Still it was not all bad, we used to walk Bert, our lurcher, around Talkin Tarn just a mile or two from where we are now camped. It was a super walk with a very good ice cream at the end of it. They say you should never go back but we went back to Talkin Tarn this week it is sill a great walk and the ice cream is just as good. 

Week 1 - Getting The Caravan Moving

Week 1

Sunday/Monday 13th July 2015

Well, we is off, we is back on the road.

I did say I would not talk about the actual journeys in this years blog but having just completed the trip from Little Henham to Exmouth (on our way to Scotland!!) I felt I have to mention the crowding on the M25 (aka England’s largest free carpark), the M3 with roadworks for its entire length - yes you did read it right - the entire length, and the A303 going from two lanes to one lane and back again so often the traffic was at a virtual standstill, and the bit going past Stonehenge was absolutely abysmal. I can remember my father complaining about the A303 back in the 1950’s, so in 65 years, no change there. Still when we arrived we found a very pleasant pitch on a CL (certified location) - Pound Lane Site -  in a very picturesque village, the rain had stopped and we spent a very pleasant evening.

Monday saw us first at “Outdoor Bits” the company who were to fit the SOG system. When they looked at the caravan they declared the correct SOG for our toilet would in no way fit in the space available.

Great. Had we just driven 250 miles in the wrong direction for that information?

The man from Outdoor Bits scratched his head and suggested we look at putting a “remote” in. A “remote”, as the name suggests, is where all the gubbins are installed separately to the toilet and connected with a hose. We found the ideal place for the installation in the bottom of the fitted laundry basket and three hours later we were starting our journey to Scotland with the new SOG Type 2 system installed and functioning.

We travelled less than 100 miles to our night stopover Hortham Farm a CL just outside Bristol.

Tuesday 14th July 2015.

Despite having a super-dooper new Garmin Camper 760LMT-D sat-nav (one of my new toys bought from Aldi while “on special” at £199.00) we took the wrong direction not once but twice. The second time we managed to turn off the M5 onto the M4, no problem off and back at the next junction, but the first, less than a mile from the campsite, took us into a new housing estate - I had to do a three point turn to get out.

It was a long and tedious journey to Blackpool, as are all journeys that take you over two hundred miles up the motorway, but we reached our night-spot in time to drop/pick-up kit at the lock-up and do shopping ready for a sharp start tomorrow. We had picked this particular CL as it was at the back of a pub - Birley Hotel - with what was, the last time we visited, a good restaurant. It was still pretty good we had roasted Sea-bass linguine - delicious.

Wednesday 15th July 2015

Another day, same motorway, still going north but at least the motorway scenery is better once Preston is south of you. For those motorway services fans among you we stopped at Tebay Services. It has to be the best motorway services out there, most of it is, of course, like every other services but it has a unique fast food outlet, unique in that it sells superb pies with proper chips, and a superb farm shop that sells the most delicious fayre. If you visit make sure you give yourself plenty of time to look around.

We arrived on the outskirts of Carlisle to a CL - West Brightenflatt - where R&F have been ensconced since the end of June.

No cooking tonight Rosemary has cooked her Yummie Curry for us.

Thursday 16th July 2015

Last year Frank installed a string of led’s under his van. Not only did they look - like, really really blow your mind, cool man!!, but are a boon when trotting to the facilities in darkness hours. We, and by that I mean Frank, with me in a watching and trying to look intelligent role (you failed - Ed.), installed a similar system to our van today. It looks great.

Friday 17th July 2015

It’s been a windy old day, it started cloudy and wet but finished very windy with the trees behind us chucking lumps of tree at us - the worrying part is the forecast says it’s going to be worse tomorrow with winds up to 55mph.

Saturday 18th July 2015

The forecasters were not wrong about the wind. It’s been blowing a hoolie all night with rain landing like bullets. Twice we received a bang on the roof that frightened the life out of us when we thought one of the large trees behind us had blown down and landed on us but on both occasions it turned out to be quite small pieces of tree that had landed on the roof, albeit with some force. I’m glad we were not towing today - or I should say planning to tow cos’ there is no way I would have been prepared to move with that weight of wind around.

Getting Ready To Get Going


This, hopefully, will be the tale of our fifth adventure which will be detailed on the same web address and which this year will be (surprise, surprise) more or less the same as previous years. The main difference will be The Journey page introduced last year will disappear, blogs can often be boring enough to read without blow by blow details of a trip from Southend to Basildon or where-ever to wade through, and more to the point it was boring and tedious to produce. I am of course willing to witter on at great length about any any road or journey that I can remember so if you want information about a road trip we have done just ask.

So - Where are we going? and What will we do and see?

Well, we have a number of appointments and meetings we cannot miss (or get out of) throughout the summer so must stay in UK till the autumn. There is one place we have been to several times but still has large areas we have yet to explore and that is Scotland. So Scotland it is.

We have arranged to meet good friends Frank and Rosemary just south of Edinburgh and plan to spend some time at the “Fringe” other than that nothing is planned.

For the coming winter we will, almost certainly, finish up in Spain and Portugal again. We would love to try southern Italy or Greece but everyone we speak to, and I do mean people who have been there and tried it (not those that have a cousin whose next door neighbour’s brothers, heard that ……….) say that of all of the European countries only Portugal and Spain are set up to take advantage of the winter “pension pound”. We have met several people who have enjoyed spending the winter months in Sicily, but it’s a very small island with few campsites open year round. Still lots to do before we need worry about winter.

Since we have been back I have had a rush of buying new toys and as you are probably aware there is little difference between men and boys simply the size and cost of their toys. The new toys have to be installed and played with which may take some time as several are quite complicated (particularly for men of a certain age - like me) computer types.

Several years ago we bought a SOG toilet kit - a what? - I hear you say, well it is a gizmo that when installed in the caravan keeps the loo clear of the nasty whiffs of stored erm!! lets just say unwanted materials and makes the use of chemical breakdown agents unnecessary. We were unable to fit the SOG because of space issues, that’s posh technical talk for could not get the bloody great thing in the tiny space available, so it has resided in the lock-up for the last four years until we gave it to R&F. Frank is one of those people that can manage to fit anything. He fitted it to his caravan and declared it well worth it so we have arranged for one to be fitted - expensive but a good chemical weight saving and those chemicals do cost so, in two or three life times we may be into profit.

Until January 2014 our Oyster 85 satellite dish gave sterling service locking on to the UK Freesat signal everywhere in Europe we tried it. Sadly UK changed the satellite footprint in January 2014 after which (outside UK where we spend around 75% of our time) the Oyster 85 - cost a fortune, auto find, satellite system -  became a 20 kg waste of payload so I have had it taken off the caravan roof (already sold at a giveaway price) and dug out the old 1 metre dish and all the cables etc and gone back to the old “set it up by hand and bleepy meter ” system which if all goes well will enable us to get a reasonable number of UK TV channels when in Southern Spain and Portugal. I can’t tell you how as it is sort of . . . technically . . . . erm . . . . illegal.

To part fund the new toys I have sold some of the old ones on “fleabay" - never again!!! I was inundated with stupid questions like that from the moron who complained that he could not get a lid for his Cadac BBQ from anywhere so would I sell him the lid only from mine, and the guy who asked if I would accept a “buy it now” price of £20.00 for an item that had an auction start price of £40.00, I said the minimum price I would accept was £39.99 and if that was too high he should try negotiating with Amazon who had the same item for sale at £99.99. Perhaps they would let him have it for £20.00.

We are in Holland as I write this, we popped over to see Dirkje and return to her the items we brought back from Spain for her. I’m going to miss the coffee maker, in fact I may be forced to buy one.

Talking of visiting Holland we used to enjoy going for trips on ferries, we always seemed to board quickly and easily and, more importantly leave quickly. The last two trips have though been less than perfect in the disembarking department. Arriving back from Spain a few weeks ago we were among the last four vehicles to leave the boat, we waited so long that when we arrived at the customs office the officer looked at us and said “blimey we nearly missed you we thought every one was off ages ago” and on this latest trip to Holland we were (without the caravan) directed to an upper deck that was hydraulically moveable so we had to wait until all other vehicles were unloaded before the roadway could be lowered into position and we could disembark.

Well we are sitting on the MV Stena Hollandica waiting to return to UK after a trip to see Dirkje. The ferry owned and operated by Stena Line is billed as “  . . . the largest combined freight and passenger ferry in the world. . .” It may be the biggest but is not the most punctual, it should have left at 14.15, it is now 14.45 and yet to move an inch.

Last update - Thursday 3rd December 2015.                                  © S W Ghost 2015