My Radiotherapy – Week 4

Monday 16th September 2019

While I had the weekend off I spent most of it asleep. I guess this is what the Radiotherapy does. They did tell me it would be like this but I thought I could fight it.

I have been taking the Antibiotics all weekend and because it is liquid I can’t avoid the horrible taste. They don’t seem to have done much as it’s still weeping although Nigel says it’s getting smaller.

At least week four is starting so after today I will have less to do than I have already done. I’m rather hoping that I don’t get to feel worse than I already am – we will see.

At treatment today I was more comfortable under the mask I had a new nurse and it took a bit longer to get me all lined up – trouble is I kept thinking would I be able to get out of the mask myself if I needed too (scary).

The team are still a bit concerned about my lump weeping and even bleeding a bit. I’m also running short of some of my pain killers (they only give me enough Paracetamol for six days at a time) but Fiona wasn’t available today so we had to leave without seeing her.

Tuesday 17th September 2019

I had a good night’s sleep and felt a lot better this morning. I took pain killers at bed time and didn’t need more until breakfast – I’ll try and do this again, it may help.

As I felt good I was up for cooking breakfast for Nigel – my way of saying thank you for all he does looking after me. I had my usual Ready Brek, but didn’t eat it all – hope it was enough to stop me loosing too much weight.

Slimming World weigh in – we have to go to the 9.30 session so we can get to the hospital in time for treatment –just a quick in and out – I’m missing staying to group and having a good chat with my SW family. Lost 5½ lbs this week – not surprised but mustn’t loose much more or I could get too small for the mask.

Parking was a challenge today – it’s a good job we always give ourselves enough time or we could have problems.

Treatment went well – the mask is fitting much better – I’m hoping this is just because it’s still early in the week and not the weight loss.

We collected the pills I wanted from the Pharmacy and fleetingly saw Fiona – she didn’t stop to chat – guess they must be very busy.

We had lunch at Togg Hill again and were joined by our friends Tim & Deb – we had a really lovely time laughing and catching up, remembering the things we did together in the past. It’s been quite a while since we met up and we really enjoyed it – won’t leave it so long before doing it again.

Wednesday 18th September 2019

Had a reasonable night although my wound was weeping a lot with some blood too. I put a dressing on it and used some tape to hold it. When I took it off it the tape pulled and made it very sore – won’t do that again.

Bad time at treatment today. When we went in the nurse said they would be examining the skin around my wound today – I thought this would be by eye but I was wrong. We went through the usual mask fitting routine, they all left as usual and I heard the usual bleeps and motion of the machine. When this stops they normally come and get me out but they didn’t come and I started to get worried – then I got scared that they were talking and leaving me in there so I started to wave my hand but they didn’t come so then I went into real panic mode and started to shout for help.  They came and let me out – I asked if they had finished but they hadn’t so after I calmed down I again had the mask fitted and let the treatment go on.

If they had told me they were going to do a scan and then look at it I may not have panicked so much but as it was I got very emotional and when I did eventually get off the table I was shaking like a leaf.

Thursday 19th September 2019

After yesterday I was a bit worried about going under the mask but we arrived a bit early (as we usually do) and we were called in before Nigel had a chance to sit down or me to worry too much. It was our usual team and they know by now not to leave me too long once they have done their bit. Apart from the mask feeling a bit tighter it was fine – which was a great relief.

We had a bit of a wait to see the Doctor but it wasn’t as long as the last time. She didn’t say a lot (she never does) but she had a look at my neck and said that while they were killing the centre of the cancer it can get inflamed and the weeping was my body’s way of getting rid of it. Apparently the swab they took when it started did not ‘grow anything’ in the lab which is a good thing I guess. Carol was there as well and she said I was looking a heck of a lot better than when she saw me last week. The pain killers are helping with that – and not overdoing things as well.

All in all a good day.

Friday 20th September 2019

I had a reasonable night but my wound did itch quite a bit.

Last day of week 4 – I really can’t believe I have done this much already – it has been a bit dramatic this week – let’s hope next week isn’t so bad.

Treatment wasn’t too bad – Adam had me in and out really quickly. The mask was really tight on my neck – I can’t believe my face has swollen up so much overnight.

The weather has been wonderful all week – warm and sunny with clear blue skies – it seems a shame we have to be doing this instead of being away in Voyager.

Still that’s week 4 done – only 2 more to go.

Week 3 Radiotherapy

Monday 9th September 2019

My appointments this week are all around lunchtime so today we are going to have lunch later – after doing a bit of shopping on our way home.

I have noticed my gums are getting very sore making it hard to chew and I’ve been a bit worried about how sore and blistery my lump has become over the weekend. I mentioned it to the nurses – they did seem a bit concerned and were very gentle putting the mask on.

I think the treatment was a bit longer – well it seemed that way to me.

Afterward they asked us to wait so Fiona could have a look at my lump. She told me that some soreness is expected but she thought there may be an infection in mine.  She took my blood pressure, heart rate and temperature which were all fine.

Her opinion was that we just keep an eye on it for a few days.

Tuesday 10th September 2019

I had a reasonable night with the pain killers.

This morning my lump is painful to touch, red and has been weeping a bit – I do hope it is not infected.

lump 1109

Slimming World weigh in today and as I’m increasingly having to eat more soft food due to my sore gums and throat I reckoned a loss was on the cards – turned out to be ½ lb but happy with that.

Treatment went OK – they put Clingfilm over my neck to help prevent it sticking to the mask. They also took a swab of the discharge so they can see what it is. Just have to wait for the answer and the plan.

Wednesday 11th September 2019

A good night’s sleep – my lump was weeping a bit but the pain relief I took in the early hours really helped. It doesn’t feel as sore or tender which is better for putting the cream on.

Treatment today was a bit easier – not sure why – maybe because my lump isn’t as sore or could be I’m getting more used to it.

The mask was tight but not so unbearable as it has been – I’m wondering if it’s an abscess in my lump which has been giving me pain not only in my neck but in the back of my head which made it hurt on the headrest. Now it has gone down a bit there is less pressure which helps.

Thursday 12th September 2019

After such a good day yesterday today has been very different – I’m so tired and my neck is still tender.

Another early appointment – no problems getting there but very busy in the Car Park – managed to find a space on the double yellows – OK with my Blue Badge.

Treatment went well – no dramas – they again had a good look at my neck and used Clingfilm – no answer from the lab yet though.

We saw Carol afterwards and she too was concerned about how red, angry and hot it is. She thinks I should have some anti-biotics and maybe some steroid cream. She will let us know tomorrow and will chase up the results of the swab they took.

She also gave me another mouthwash to help with the dryness I’m feeling more now (a bit like a sticky gloopy saliva feeling).

Friday 13th September 2019

I had a good night’s sleep despite my lump weeping quite a bit.

Today is day 15 which means I’m halfway through. I have to say it has gone by so quickly, much faster than I thought when it started.

Our friends Tim and Debs have read last week’s Blog and messaged me – we are going to meet them for lunch early next week – just like we used to do. We’re looking forward to a lovely catch up.

Today the mask was very tight – even with both shims removed – but I managed to get through it even though it felt like it was choking me. After treatment we saw Carol again and a Doctor who had a good look at my lump. She said that it was best to let the abscess weep (better out than in) and prescribed a course of antibiotics (for 2 weeks) although she wasn’t sure if they would work.

When we collected this from the Pharmacy I was told to stop taking my daily statin until after the course is complete.

Back home and after lunch I slept most of the afternoon – they were right at the beginning when they said I would get tired very quickly – but I get the weekend off – two days to relax.

Motoring Nostalgia Rally

Friday 6th September 2019

After a couple of days with my Radiotherapy sessions in the late afternoon today it was earlier at 12.45 so we were able to get home by two o’clock. We had already got pretty much everything we needed for a weekend away packed into Voyager and Betty. Just a quick lunch before we set off to our chosen Rally.

Nigel had booked just after we got the schedule for my treatments and wasn’t sure if I was going to be fit enough to go – but I was – and I’m really glad we did.

It was a local C&MH Rally located, as the crow flies, only 6.5 miles from home – but by road double that – even so we arrived at the rally field of the Atwell-Wilson Motor Museum, Calne by 3.30.

We pitched up on the edge of the nicely mown field and although it was on rather a slope Nigel did his thing with the levelling rams and very quickly Voyager was, like her Star Trek namesake, flying high.

Voy 3Voy 2

This became a bit of a discussion point around the camp – the general opinion being that most liked them but not their price. Beats having to use those wedge things anyway.

We do have a lovely view of the Cherhill White Horse and the Lansdowne Monument (known in my family as the Yatesbury Rocket – don’t know why).

 

After setup Nigel went to the Rally Caravan and paid our £23 dues for two nights and brought back our Rally pack. Info about the local area and social stuff and another quiz – this time appropriately about car manufacturers.

Our meal was a simple BBQ chicken rice dish – quickly assembled although it wasn’t as easy to swallow as I had hoped.

We made a start on the quiz – doing the ones we knew from memory first before watching a little TV before bed.

Saturday 7th September 2019

Today we awoke to a fine day – a bit of mist and a bit chilly but it looked good out the window – the hot air balloon in the mist made for a nice photo.

View b

We had a leisurely breakfast and did the chores before setting off on the 2G’s for a trundle into Calne Town. You may remember we had motor issues with Gordon on our visit to Devizes – Nigel did a strip down clean-up of his motor and it appeared to work OK on a quick wiz around our village. However on a longer trundle over the Bank Holiday weekend he again failed (the motor got very hot and eventually seized up completely). The only answer was to buy a new one – expensive but for the miles we do on our scooters definitely worth it.

hs clk
On the way into Town a sign of the people that live in Calne.

We were both surprised at how much we didn’t know about Calne (especially as Nigel had lived in the town for a couple of years in the early 90’s) but found the Heritage Quarter notice boards very helpful.

Green Pano
The Green as a Panorama

Industrially it began as a Wool town progressing on and now remembered most for the Harris’s Bacon Factory which produced pork products up until the 1980’s. I’m not sure I would have liked to live there then with the constant smell of bacon in the air.

There was a branch off the Wilts and Berks Canal from Chippenham which helped with the distribution and although it is un-navigable now a short section has been restored. The end lock has been fitted with an information area looking like a Narrowboat. They couldn’t restore it completely as a large pipe was laid across it to help with flood prevention.

A little higher, back from the tow path, we found that Calne had a Castle – not a big imposing one but enough to protect the little town perched as it was on the highest point. There is nothing left above ground but an archaeological dig back in 2010 found the foundations as well as many small items that are now displayed in Devizes Museum. This gleaned from another of the very useful notice boards.

Since the demolition of the factory the centre has been gradually rebuilt with a very modern bright Library and retail units as well as the usual coffee and Charity shops. A very nice community area by the river looked inviting and well maintained.

These new areas didn’t look out of place with the old Town Hall and the even older Lansdowne Strand Hotel just over the road.

We enjoyed our morning trundle about the town but we also like to stick to our SW friendly eating regime – having managed to resist all of the offerings at the Food Festival in Phelps Parade we set off back to Voyager for lunch. We did pop into the News Agent on London Road for a little tub of Marshfield Farms ice-cream – only a little ‘sinny’ and in my case ‘medicinal’ (helps with my throat).

After the washing up we went and explored the Atwell-Wilson Motor Museum at a discounted price for us ralleyers. It’s small and has a quirky but friendly feel.

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Had a good look around – trying to find the answers to more of the quiz questions – not totally successfully unfortunately.

Then back to Voyager – me for my siesta and Nigel for more online research for the damnable quiz.

After our meal – a pesto mince pasta concoction lovingly created by Nigel – we joined a few of our neighbours in the Museum Tea Room for a social chat. It was the normal ‘bring your own’ evening of stories and banter which we are really enjoying. As this is now our third Rally with this group we are starting to feel at home with them.

Sunday 8th September 2019

During breakfast we were still pondering over the 4 or 5 answers we hadn’t found – quiz sheets had to be handed in by 10.00 so we made a few guesses and Nigel headed to the Rally Van with it. He came back with some raffle tickets – well we have to be lucky sometime.

Flag was at 11.00 so I went up on Grace with our mugs the sweeteners and some water. Nigel brought his chair. He went and made our coffee while I chatted.

We were brought to order by our Chairman Mark using his PA system and he did the usual Thankyou’s etc.

John our Marshal and quiz setter spoke without the aid of amplifier and told us the winner – it wasn’t us (no surprise) but when we got our sheet back we were only 1 point short of the winner which made us feel a lot better.

We did manage to win a couple of things in the raffle which was welcome (a bottle of red always is) and ‘Chip Buckets’ may come in useful.

Formalities completed we chatted for a bit longer before returning to Voyager. As others started the packing up process I had a snooze while Nigel loaded all the video and photos we have taken onto the laptop.

We didn’t rush – the official end time was 3.00pm so a leisurely lunch and a slow packing away of the outside stuff for Nigel – the same for me on the inside stuff.

The last thing was getting the levelling rams up before setting off for home at just after 2.30pm. The journey was fine and we were back before 3.00pm.

Not too much washing for a weekend so just chucked it in the laundry basket – bit slovenly but hey ho.

Radiotherapy – Second Week

Week 2

Monday 2nd September 2019

The weekend has gone by so fast – having two days off sounded so good on Friday but they just flew.

I was full of trepidation about going today – Friday had been bad. They told me the swelling of my face would go down over the weekend but I couldn’t see any difference so was afraid it would hurt again under the mask.

My lump was very tender to touch – just putting the cream on was painful but the paracetamol did help.

Nigel had a strong word about bringing him back to help me to the changing room – I’m not sure the male assistant (no names) liked it much but tough luck.

Treatment wasn’t quite as bad as I expected – the mask hurt but not unbearably – and the zapping seemed to be over quicker than usual.

They did bring Nigel back – hopefully they have got the message.

Tuesday 3rd September 2019

Tuesday is always going to be the busiest day of the week. Slimming World first – didn’t do so well gained 2lb but not surprised really.

We left after group – I had made some sandwiches earlier so we decided to stop at Togg Hill picnic area. A lovely view and good memories of times we spent with our friends Tim & Deb when we used to meet them there.

Then on to the hospital – I was feeling a bit better about it today. I hadn’t slept well because of the pain so have taken to thinking ‘let’s just get this over with’.

We had a bit of a wait today – there seemed to be more people waiting and when we finally got in it was the other zapper machine (first time on LA3) with a different team. But I had Nigel with me so just gritted my teeth – they were very good and it was over quickly again. I thought it may have me just thinking that but Nigel confirmed that I wasn’t in there as long.

Wednesday 4th September 2019

Today started out badly – I didn’t sleep well last night (paracetamol not cutting it now – and I took a few more than I should have too).

I think my lump is protruding more – before treatment started I couldn’t see it, now I can. It frightens me – feeling that I will always have a big lump on the side of my neck.

The treatment was fine today and I didn’t have as much pain in the back of my neck which was a relief.

We were only meant to wait about ten minutes to see the doctor but it turned out to be more like an hour. When we did eventually see her I didn’t get to learn much about how it’s going. She said that Radiotherapy was a slow process and what they are seeing on the scans shows they are zapping the entire growth and progress is as they expected it to be. Mostly we discussed pain management – she was surprised it is as painful as it is at this stage. As swallowing is getting harder they have given me some dissolvable stronger tablets (Co-Codamol, Paracetamol and Ibuprofen). They said that if/when it gets worse I can get some Oramorph too so it won’t hurt any more (might I become a junky?)

Corridor
I’m not dreading being pushed along this corridor so much now.

Thursday 5th September 2019

I had a much better night’s sleep as the new pain killers are much better.

Being in the mask wasn’t as comfortable as yesterday but I did complete the treatment. I was very tempted though to wave my hand to get out but I persevered – so relieved to get through it.

I had a chat with the neck nurse afterwards – tried to explain how I was feeling, how disappointed I was yesterday not to be told that things were improving but at the end of the day I do feel better in myself now that the pain has stopped.

Friday 6th September 2019

A second good pain free night so I slept very well. We are away for the weekend at a C&MH Club Rally so we were busy getting things packed into Voyager – it kept my mind occupied instead of worrying about today’s treatment.

I had a 12.45 session today – It went well – they removed a shim which helped with the tightness of the mask – it will never be good I don’t think but at least it’s manageable. I am not in there too long and if I manage to lose a couple of pound without telling them it might be even better.

I must be getting more used to having 5-10 minute treatments as I don’t mind coming again next week – much better than last Monday I really didn’t want to come back.

My lump is becoming sore and the skin around it has become very red. I keep putting the cream on and gargling with the mouth wash and of course the pain killers are amazing – most of the time I’m in no pain.

So second week done and a nice weekend away – feeling good.

 

My Radiotherapy

Monday 26th August 2019

Today I began my Radiotherapy treatment on the cancerous lump in my neck. I found it in early July and since then I have been poked and prodded MRI, Ultrasound and CT scanned along with having a biopsy extracted from it. All to find out what it was and whether it had spread – luckily it hasn’t but over the weeks it has grown in size.

I have been through all the emotions you can get – shock, fear, anger as well as the why me feeling. I have shed a few tears as well along the way although I’m trying not to – being very British with the stiff upper lip thing is just not me.

A couple of weeks ago I had a mask made for my head and shoulders – to make sure I am in exactly the same place for each treatment and unable to move during it. I have to say it wasn’t a pleasant experience. As one of the nurses said ‘Nobody would volunteer to have one made unless it was really necessary’.

mask

So today is the first of my daily sessions for the next six weeks – only week days though – I’m looking forward to the weekends already.

It was much as I suspected – scary and horrible. We had a chat beforehand about the likely side effects – sore throat and skin irritation being the first. To help I have been given a supply of mouth wash some moisturising cream and a big box of paracetamol. Later I may find it difficult to swallow and lose my appetite. They don’t want me to lose much weight though as this could affect the fit of the mask.

I did have a bit of a panic attack when they first fitted the mask – luckily Nigel was there and they took it off until I calmed down. Second time it was better – still scary feeling restrained – everyone left – I was all alone, and that was scary too. They told me they would be watching me on CCTV and if I needed out to raise my hand.

In my head I started to talk to my mum – I’m sure she was there holding my hand – it reassured me. I was grateful when I again felt Nigel’s hand and for today it was all over.

Tuesday 27th August 2019

Not feeling as bad as I did yesterday but still not feeling good about it. My neck aches all the time but the paracetamol takes the edge off.

I now have a new routine – mouth wash and moisturising cream four times a day.

Slimmimg world was good – I got presented my ‘Women of the Year’ sash & certificate and also lost 4.5lb- I’m now a pound less than when I had the mask made which I’m sure won’t make any difference to the fit. I mustn’t lose too much more though.

SW sash

I thought it would have been easier today but having the mask fitted is still scary – and they managed to pinch my skin (on my shoulder) as they fitted it – they had to take it off and reposition me a bit. The setting up after I was secured didn’t take as long but the treatment itself felt longer than yesterday but that might have been my imagination.

I did find out why I can’t use a hair drier (mentioned in one of the many leaflets) – the nurse said it’s because the heat can make the skin irritation worse. She also said I might lose a bit of my hair at the back of my neck – I thought that only happened with chemo.

Wednesday 28th August 2019

I had a bad night – my neck and head hurt and I couldn’t find a comfortable position – I got up at 4.30 and took more paracetamol which helped.

I’m feeling a little more anxious than yesterday – what if I’m going through all this and it doesn’t work? It didn’t help that I had a bad dream which was very vivid – I was pushing Nigel away – thinking he would be better off if he didn’t have me to look after. Scary.

It was still a bit daunting having the mask placed over me – it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Nigel took a photo of me on the bed before the treatment began.

on zapper

buckled in

They did a few adjustments and did a scan before they zapped me from a different angle – there were a few bright flashing lights I could see even with my eyes closed. My vision was really blurred afterwards and I felt a bit dizzy but Nigel was there to help me back to the changing room and my wheelchair.

Redressed and on our way home – we were only there for 45 minutes so not long really – it just feels that way.

Thursday 29th August 2019

It’s a later session today – plenty of time for a refreshing shower and a leisurely breakfast and lunch.

Not feeling so good – a bit lethargic and emotional – I seem to be feeling scared all the time and my neck aches nearly all the time now. Nigel is so good – he keeps hugging me and telling me it will be fine (my brick).

It was a busy day at the hospital – cars running around the car park trying to find a space – we were lucky – one pulled out in front of us.

I had to have a blood test (as a base line the nurse said) – I’m assuming I will be having these done regularly throughout my six weeks treatment.

After I was zapped (about the same as yesterday) they didn’t bring Nigel back but one of the nurses helped me back to the changing room.

Then we had a catch-up chat with Carol (one of the Head & Neck Clinical Nurse Specialists) – I did ask if my face would swell up. She said it would which explains why the mask hurts my nose and chin – adding that I should mention it to the team as they can tweak it a bit. Apart from that she said that everyone says I’m doing well.

Facial imprint
Me in the changing room after my treatment – You can see the impression of the mask and why it hurts my nose.

 

Friday 30th August 2019

Another not good night but the paracetamol are still working but need them every four hours or so.

I’m feeling tired but it’s the last session of the week so I just needed to get it done.

We got there a bit early so we could change some times on the days when I have to see the doctor as well as get zapped. Originally there would have been over three hours wait between them. Luckily there was no issue getting them adjusted – now the longest time between them is 10 minutes – result.

I was a bit emotional today at treatment time – I tried to tell them that the mask is hurting me too much and they did take a small bit of plastic away but it was lying on the hard plastic headrest that also hurts the back of my head.

Again they didn’t bring Nigel back after my treatment and this time I had to walk back to the changing room on my own – I felt dizzy and had to hold the wall – something must be said on Monday.

Devizes and Bust

Friday 2nd August 2019

Today has been long and tiring.

We had been looking forward to the ‘Cream Tea at the Locks’ C&MH rally since we booked it. Doing the last minute packing in the morning and then a leisurely drive the 15 miles or so to arrive about 3.00pm. It would have been a relaxing start to the weekend.

We should have known better.

We have spent most of today at the Royal United Hospital in Bath. Appointments with my Clinical Oncologist- getting the low down on what is involved with the Radio Therapy I will be undergoing and the effect it will have on me. Then a pre-op assessment with an ECG and blood for many tests (must have been half an arm full). Then a bit of a wait to see an Anaesthetist to see if there would be a problem with having a quite a long operation – luckily that was very positive – he suggested they might want to give me an Echo Cardiogram before but that would only be as a check. So when all the results are in all the teams can have a discussion and decide the best course of action to recommend. I’m still waiting for that – but it should be soon.

We came away just before 4.00pm feeling more positive than before – so it was worth it.

Back home – then couple up Voyager and Betty and we were off to our Rally.

We arrived just before 6.00pm to find a nice flat, well mown field with a good selection of Caravans and Motorhomes already sited.

 

Ralst 3

Quick chat with the Marshals, manoeuvred to where they wanted us and then the bit of work getting setup.

Nigel did the outside stuff – getting the levelling rams down – although we were all but level they do add stability and stop any rocking! Then the silver screen. I had ignited the oven and when it was up to temp put the dinner in. While it was cooking we strolled over and did the financial stuff & got our Rally pack – quite expensive (relatively) at £30 for 2 nights but worth it for the location.

After our meal (homemade cottage pie – prepared yesterday) we put up the gazebo (Nigel didn’t try to put it up inside out this time – he’s learning). Then the awning. We have changed to orientation this time – the gazebo next to Betty with the door facing forward – I can look out at people not just a hedge – much better.

Ralst Voy

We met Helen walking her dogs past us – there with hubby Keith, they are from South Wales and had a Swift RIO Motorhome. We took a stroll to see it a little later – different with a flip up back – for more ventilation?

Then feet up, bit of TV and bed.

Saturday 3rd August 2019

A rather cloudy morning with a little mist but still warm. Nigel got out the pole and windsock – he couldn’t get the lights to work though (something to keep him busy when we get home) – while I made our packed lunch.

So with the 2G’s prepped and packed we set of for our trundle into the town by way of the tow path.

TP up2

It was good to see the locks being used – with many narrowboats going down and a few going up the long flight.

DEv mrng

Some with many helpers and others just a couple – it is wonderful to watch but you need to be pretty fit to do it – we are well past that.

We have been to Devizes many times before but not with Voyager – she is too big for the small car parks – so it was good to check out the shops together doing all the little side alleys as we trundled through.

It made a change to see so many independent shops although like most towns these days the Coffee chains and Charity shops seem to be spreading everywhere. There were a few traders set up in the Market Place – I bought a scented candle at one and Nigel was intrigued by a vendor selling smoked things – he bought a pack of smoked walnuts. We tried them later – very odd taste we decided (half went in the bin – still you never know unless you try).

On through the shopping area using Little Brittox, The Brittox, Maryport street and Sidmouth street (love these names) – where a street singer was giving a lovely performance.

Dev hndnsDev sngr 2

We had lunch by the ‘Crammer’, people watching and chatting, before a quick trip to Morrisons for a pressure break (Pee) and to buy a few things we needed.

Then on our way back we checked out the indoor market – I found some lovely fabric stalls – bought a few yards to add to my stash.

Dev indmkt

We made one more stop at the Wharf and checked out the museum and gift shop – very interesting

Dev whf

– couldn’t get a Devizes fridge magnet though (all sold out) but did buy a few postcards. I will add it to the list of magnets Nigel has promised to make.

Then all along the tow path back to Voyager.

On the last 200yds of the trip, as we were ascending the rise to the road bridge, Gordon lost power and to cut a few awkward minutes short Nigel had to knock him into neutral so I could push him back with Grace.

We only just made it for the 3.00pm ‘Cream Tea’ social. We took chairs, table, plates, knife and cups – Jenny gave us a pack of 4 scones with small tubs of jam and clotted cream. The ern was steaming away with coffee, sugar and tea-bags next to it – so it was self-assembly which all added to the fun. We sat with Helen and Keith and while I made up a scone each for us, Nigel made our coffee’s. We thought that two halves of scone with jam and cream would be enough – but it’s been so long since we’ve had any that the others couldn’t be left. Oh dear – I fear the ‘Walk of Shame’ at Slimming World next week.

After we had eaten there was the ‘Picture Quiz’ – the four of us decided to act as a team. However even working collectively we only got 22.5 out of 32 – the winner managed 26.5.

We went back to Voyager, me for a little siesta and Nigel to check what was wrong with Gordon. He had a pretty good idea – while servicing him a couple of months ago he found one of the motor brushes to be very worn. After much searching on the internet he couldn’t find the manufacturer original replacements but did find what looked like good generic ones on Ebay. This replacement had completely disintegrated – but having bought a few he replaced it with another which got him going again – but not for long. He managed two circuits of the van, a trip to the Elsan point and half a trip to the hedge to dump the grey water – when it failed again he pushed it back.

He fitted yet another brush but only so he could get him back into Betty.

So Gordon is Bust – the moral of the story being – Don’t buy inferior Motor Brushes from Ebay!

Later after our steak meal we spent the evening back with a smaller group having a few drinks and a good chat.

Evn cht

I found them all very friendly and happy to listen to me (some groups don’t) which made for a really good night. I enjoyed it a lot – I think we will be doing many more Rallies with this group!

Then off to bed.

Sunday 4th August 2019

Breakfast and a bit of a tidy up before Flag at 11.00.

Ral com2

All the usual thankyou’s etc. – then the raffle (we had bought four strips) – our usual luck was with us – so no prize again!

Rall crmt

The official Rally end time was 3.00pm so we relaxed in the Gazebo for a bit, waving our goodbyes to our fellow campers as they left. We are so close to home and the weather so good that staying to the end was our plan.

In fact we didn’t start dismantling and packing away the outside equipment until after our Tapas lunch. Our only concession today was Nigel having a non-alcoholic lager instead of his usual 5% one.

All packed up we were the last to leave (apart from the Marshals) at about 2.30 but we were still home by 3.00.

And so the washing began.

Since getting back I have received the schedule for my Radio Therapy –it starts on Bank Holiday Monday (26th August) with sessions every weekday for six weeks. Nigel hopes we can fit in a close to home Rally on one of the first few weekends. After that I will likely be too weak, tired and poorly.

We will be back sometime after that – with a bit of luck!

You might get a techy Blog in there sometime giving updates on the few jobs around the Motorhome and Trailer that need doing.

Hermanfest, a party, & a Cathedral

Friday 19th July 2019

Our journey was OK – we stuck to the major roads, which although quite a bit longer is definitely quicker. The weather was not as good with frequent showers on route but hey hoe that’s England for you in mid-July.

We arrived at the Camping in the Forest Roundhill site near Brockenhurst about 1.30 and were directed to Church Field, where the Hermanfest Rally was being held.

There were only a few other Motorhomes there and as we positioned ourselves next to a Hymer we presumed it was going to be a small intimate gathering like the inaugural meeting last year (7 units). How wrong we were – by the time everyone had arrived the field was packed with twentyone Motorhomes and one caravan.

Now I should explain that this was not our usual type of Rally but one organised by a YouTube video producer. Adam (Ads), along with his partner Zoe, star in and post video’s relating to their travels on their channel ‘Hermans RV Holidays’. We have been watching them more or less since we got Voyager – and jumped at the chance last year to meet them and a few other subscribers.

Ads video of the rally is here .

This time five of the originals attended with a lot more. So we got to see some old friends and meet a lot of new ones.

Nigel set up the Gazebo with assistance from a couple of others – but only after I had reminded him which bit to pull on first – he keeps trying to erect it inside out which just doesn’t work. We now have 2 sidewall covers and a ground sheet which also got fitted. It did leave one side open but that was toward Voyager so we thought it would be OK. During the process another YouTuber Bob Earnshaw (another of the originals) filmed the process – it is included in his video of the weekend – Bobs Hermanfest Video.

As the afternoon progressed the rain that had been showery started to set in properly – so after our meal we moved into the gazebo with Alison and Michael (from last year) and our direct neighbour Sue. We all had a smashing evening with a few drinks and lots of laughter and good stories.

The rain didn’t ease up all night but we both slept very well.

Saturday 20th July 2019

We thought we were in for a cloudy day – which after yesterday would have been welcomed – but no – the sun came out with mostly blue sky. We did get a very quick shower – though it only lasted for three minutes.

So nice and warm we got the 2G’s out and did a bit of a tour of the corral (we seemed to be arranged in a big circle with just a couple in the middle). We had a brief chat with several of the group – particularly Darren and Wendy who it turned out live only about ten miles from us. They also subscribe to and have appeared in another of our YouTube favourites ‘Kiwis on the go’.

Ads and Zoe had embarked on a walk around the campsite (which is very large – more than 500 pitches) with a few others some giving their dogs a good exercise as well. We had missed their departure but caught up with them near reception and chatted with them as we took a circular route back to the corral.

After our light lunch I was just checking the inside of my eyelids when Nigel startled me asking if I would like an ice-cream. Well when a mobile ice-cream van arrives on your campsite it would be impolite not too – so a nice big whippy tub for me.

HF icrm

Not long after that it was a congregation of chairs and tables – out with the cakes – and drinks,

a bit of a thank you for coming chat from Ads followed by a Quiz that we did badly at and much laughter and storytelling all around. People drifted away and back at times but it went on until about 11pm which was lovely.

Slept well again.

Sunday 21st July 2019

Another lovely day – the sun making regular appearances.

Today was the official last day of the rally and like last year we had booked an extra night – and would have spent it with Bill & Jill – but my sister Lyn had arranged a 50th Birthday Tea party for her husband Steve, with a lot of family attending. We couldn’t miss that.

As the forecast is looking good for a few days we have booked (by phone) a CL site nearby for tonight and when we have a good phone data signal we will book a few nights in Salisbury as well.

So after breakfast I did the inside chores while Nigel did the outside ones. Then we did the dismantling of the Gazebo along with all the goodbyes – it did take a while.

We arrived at the Memorial Hall in Wincanton at about 3.15, having stopped for our lunch in a lay by on route.

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It was good to see the family again – we get together so rarely these days – and have a good chin wag. I took the opportunity to pass on my not so good news quietly to them all so they now all know of my health problem. For those of you that don’t know the big ‘C’ is back – now in my neck – I am trying to stay busy so I don’t think about it too much. My Oncologist says it is very treatable – so fingers crossed.

We left about 6pm and drove on to the Three Oaks Farm CL site at Zeals – it only took twenty minutes or so. We pitched up on the edge of the paddock and did all the levelling before we were greeted by the owner’s wife. It’s the first time we’ve been offered a cup of coffee on arrival – which we accepted (a little dumbfounded).

When the coffee arrived the owner himself turned up too

zls

dressed in his Pearly King outfit –first time for that as well! We paid our £13.50, had a good chat until they left us to it.

A light meal, booked 3 nights in Salisbury CCC site, a bit of TV then bed.

Monday 22nd July 2019

Usual morning procedures completed we left Zeals about 11.30am made good progress to Salisbury – arriving just after 1pm.

It’s a lovely site but our grass pitch had a bit of a slope – love our rams – we are level but flying within minutes. Nigel did need the steps to put on the silver screen though.

sal voy1

We put up the gazebo and the rollout awning and then went for our exploratory trundle checking out the ice-creams available at reception (nothing exceptional).

Included in our site info leaflet was details of an accessible route into the town centre so we checked out the first part of it, just to the footpath itself. Also checked the opening hours of the Stratford Social Club next to the site – it has a big sign saying Campers Welcome.

Back to Voyager for our meal then on with our glad rags and back to the Club for a couple of very cheap drinks.

Slow trundle back, it was still very warm so we sat in the gazebo for a while,

sal voy 2

sal ss 2
Not a bad sunset

then a bit of TV and bed.

Tuesday 23rd July 2019

Nigel had planned our day – Salisbury was the local town for his teenage years – so after morning duties we set off. Now today had been hyped by the media as possibly the hottest in England ever – so as well as our sunhats and a good covering of factor 20 we made sure the emergency ponchos were with us.

We followed the route we had been given (it was fully accessible)

sal pth 1

and quickly got into town.

A very pretty well kept central area with a mix of old and new, all the usual high street shops and a few independents. There are some well-placed designated pedestrian areas – it’s well worth a visit.

sal st 1

I could see the High Street Gate ahead of us and thought we would be going through it to the Cathedral

cath gat

but no Nigel steered us to the right – up Crane Street, over the bridge and on through Queen Elizabeth Gardens by the river.

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What a lovely park area – well-kept with flower beds and seating all around. I’d have missed it all together without the local knowledge of my hubby.

We continued on, using the Town Path across Harnham Water Meadows where we saw an artist painting his view

Harn wm 2

maybe he was trying to emulate Constable’s  ‘Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows’ of 1831 although the modern view is somewhat different. We continued to the village of Harnham itself – which at this point has a few old buildings and a good green recreational area by the River Nadder.

We used the pavement next to the main A road until we could turn off again onto the Old Harnham Road passing thatched cottages and the Rose & Crown pub

Harn 1Harn 2

over the river again (via what was originally a Toll Bridge)

 

and along the quaintly named De Vaux Place.

sal gt

Under an old City gate and on a little further until we entered the Cathedral close from the South.

We had our packed lunch in the shade of a large tree with a view of the west side of the Cathedral – idyllic.

sal pth 1a

I wondered whether we would be able to get into the Cathedral with the 2G’s but it turned out to be no problem. Lovely wide aisles and ramps everywhere they were needed. I do so love the architecture and structure of old churches

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– the skills of the masons and woodworkers always amazes me. We spent a good hour plus exploring it all.

The afternoon was passing quickly (as it does when you are enjoying yourself) so as I was still trying to find a nice short sleeved cardigan I nipped into M&S on the way back.

There’s always something isn’t there – just browsing and my phone rings – it’s the hospital – they want to bring my Friday appointment forward to tomorrow!

So back to Voyager – we did have a nice whippy ice-cream on the way (I deserved it!) and we got everything packed away again.

It’s disappointing to have to cut our break short but my health is more important than a holiday isn’t it?

We have one more weekend Rally booked which hopefully we won’t need to cancel – but after that I think there will be a bit of a gap in our trips away. We will keep you informed.

Winchester Hat Fair

Friday 5th July 2019

We picked this C&MH Rally because of its location – less than a mile from Winchester town centre. We had intended to arrive mid-afternoon but were delayed by a last minute Hospital appointment in Chippenham.

We didn’t encounter any holdups on our journey and arrived at the Rugby Club field at 7.30pm. Nigel had phoned earlier to check this would be OK.

We were welcomed by Audrey who showed us to our pitch marker and checked we were happy. After getting setup Nigel went to the Rally Marshall’s caravan to do the financial bit and get our Rally pack while I prepared our meal. Included were the usual tourist info, the itinerary and a quiz sheet.

After eating we went for our traditional exploratory trundle of the local area – found the path to the town centre –

path riv

and, of course, we ended up at the Rugby Clubhouse, just for a quick one you understand. We met a few of our fellow campers there so had a bit of a chat.

Now you may remember me saying that my brother Roy was thinking about getting a motorhome well he is now the proud owner of a 2010 Elddis Autoquest 130. I mention this because since buying it we have been getting the odd phone call asking questions about issues he’s had – my favourite being his first – while in a car park on Paignton seafront he enquired why his electric kettle wouldn’t boil. Everything else was fine, lights, fridge – he’d even checked all the fuses and trips. I did laugh – I don’t remember us ever being that naive, but maybe we were in other ways.

Saturday 6th July 2019

After a leisurely breakfast and the usual chores we set forth on our planned trundle into the town centre. I had made up a packed lunch as it’s so difficult to stay on SW plan when out, with all the street food available at events like the Hat Fair.

It was a lovely sunny warm day and we enjoyed making our way, along with a lot of other people, into town.

We found among the old streets many acts doing their thing – musicians, dancers, mime artists even small groups performing comic skits, all vying for the change in the pockets of the watching crowds to be put in their hats (hence the name).

As usual we couldn’t see too much as being low on our scooters, and apparently invisible, even if we found a good vantage point it was not long before a group of people would stand in front of us.

Anyway we found other things to see – the Abbey Gardens then around by the Cathedral

past Cheyney Court

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through Kingsgate

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past Winchester College and into the park by the old town wall

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and weirs on the River Itchen.

We couldn’t visit Wolvesey Castle as a play was being performed in it at the time – we had to come back later – which we did.

A lovely English Heritage maintained ruin, worth seeing.

We had our picnic lunch in the shade of an old oak tree looking over the well-kept gardens by the weir, very peaceful, apart from all the people passing by looking at us and I’m sure envying us for thinking ahead and not relying on very overpriced food from the many stalls around.

After our extravagance of a traditional Italian ice-cream handcrafted into a cone like a soft one from a machine – great to see that skill demonstrated – we made our way slowly back to Voyager.

We stopped briefly to watch a few balls of two separate cricket matches being played on the pitches adjacent to the Rugby club but the call to siesta was too strong to stay for long.

Meal, a bit of TV and bed rounded off a very good day.

Sunday 7th July 2019

It was a bit cloudy first thing but things started to brighten up after breakfast as I looked from my dinette seat at some hunky shirtless Rugby players having a training session just over the field. Forty years ago I may well have been offering to give them a rub down afterwards. Ah, fantasy.

Unusually Flag was at 11.00 where all the usual thanks were expressed. Unusual because the rally didn’t end until the Monday but several campers had to leave today to get home for work. I remember those days. The results of the quiz surprised us – as we’d won – but only a small tin of biscuits.

Another packed lunch made while Nigel did the outside chores then we are off again. Today it’s a trundle to Hockley Viaduct – another of those lovely old railway lines changed into a cycleway which we love.

First back into town where we found the start of the Viaduct Way just down the road from Wolvesey Castle. It is about 2.5 miles long, mostly flat with some great views

and lovely flowers along it.

The viaduct itself is pretty impressive as well.

 

viad 3

After taking many photos we returned to town using St Cross road for a chance to see the old Hospital (now care home) as well as old cottages.

stcrs hosp

Through Kingsgate from the other side.

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We had our lunch at the gardens again

wall gdn 1

Roman wl

(and another Italian ice-cream) before heading back to Voyager.

I was seduced by the aroma of a German sausage and couldn’t resist so Nigel & I shared a hot dog – shouldn’t have but it doesn’t hurt sometimes to be a bit naughty.

We didn’t have an evening meal (because of the sausage) as we both felt full.

sunset
Lovely sunset over the Rugby field

So a quiet evening both of us, I suspect, thinking of things to come in the next couple of weeks – Nigel being positive and me feeling a bit low – thinking the worst.

Monday 8th July 2019

A leisurely breakfast then the chores and pack up. We left about 11.00 and were home for lunch, and so the washing begins.

On the mat was a new Hospital appointment. They are not hanging about.

SOC Lacock

Wednesday 26th June 2019

Today we are going to our first Rally with the Swift Owners Club. It’s not far from home at Lacock – chosen because visiting Lacock with Voyager and Betty is not easy and we wanted to have a good look at the Abbey and gardens. That and we wanted to check out what the SOC was like – we could always run home if we didn’t like the way they did things.

David had phoned Nigel earlier in the morning to let us know about a road closure near the site – that was a good sign we felt.

When we arrived at the Rally field of Kilima Farm we were greeted by David and directed to our pitch – well pitch marker where we set up. Even in a field you have to stick to the 6m rule.

Everybody seems very friendly and as its one of the smaller clubs we have joined we hope it lives up to its blurb.

Our Rally pack was delivered to us (in exchange for the fees) – now that’s a first, normally we have to go to the Reception table/van. Included in the pack were local attraction leaflets with maps (all available in Tourist Information places) as well as our Rally plaque, which was nice. The best bit about it was the cost – we have never stayed anywhere for four nights for £28 before. Admittedly there was a £2.50 social fee and £5 Rally fee (refunded for first rally) on top of that but even so it was great value. It also contained a sheet with Names, Reg Numbers and home town on it –very useful for folks like us that forget names after a few seconds.

Had a lovely time chatting with a few other members – who we were either introduced to or introduced themselves to us. The weather got warmer during the afternoon but turned chilly again by tea time – at least there was no rain though.

In the evening (about 7pm) we all met up in the gazebos (3 fixed together) for coffee and more chatting, after a brief intro by David.

We got back to Voyager about 9.30 and relaxed with a bit of TV – we have found about 3 hours of TV is fine when we are off-grid and at this time of the year on a good day the leisure batteries are back to 100% by lunchtime.

Thursday 27th June 2019

The weather was gorgeous today if a little windy (but at least it’s a warm wind). So after breakfast and the daily chores we set off for Lacock village.

Hill view
View from the lane to Lacock

It’s only a couple of miles – down a steep hill on the way there (and up again on the way back). Luckily on the way we only met one van on the narrow lane and there was a good verge for us to get on while he passed.

We had a good wander around the village had a small tub of ice cream made by the Lacock Dairy (Nigel’s treat while getting a couple of post cards in the village shop) which was remarkably good (and the only vendor we have found with a good tangy Lemon Sorbet).

We met a couple of people from the rally who admired our setup (Bluetooth headsets etc) – they were surprised we had trundled down the main road – we are a bit blazay about that now.

Onward stopping briefly for a jar of local homemade chutney at the wall before checking out the Church and the Ford. The tythe barn wasn’t open today but we have seen it before so that was fine.

Vllg wall shpVllg ch 1Vllg ch in 1Vllg frd 2

We eat our packed lunch in the Recreation ground behind the pub – with a few others doing the same before venturing on to the Abbey.

As I am a National Trust member we got in free (did buy a few things from the shop though) and had a really good look around both the Abbey and the grounds taking loads of pictures.

Abby 3

The 2G’s tackled the hill well on the way back (which was a relief!) although we did take a few minutes rest half way up to snap St Anne’s Church

but we got back to Voyager in good time.

Tonight the social event was described in the itinerary as a Communal BBQ – now as we don’t do BBQ we were just going to skip it but we got it wrong. It turned out that everyone takes a table and chairs – puts them in a long line and eats food they have prepared by a method of their choice in a banquet fashion. Unfortunately we had prepared and were eating our chicken rice dish by the time we were told this.

Just to be sociable we did the table and chair bit, I had a yogurt and Nigel started a bottle of wine.

BBQ tab

This while folks around us ate their food and chatted – we’ll know next time and get it right. We did skip the coffee in the gazebo later – by which time the bottle of wine had evaporated (Nigel regretted it in the morning though).

Friday 28th June 2019

As yesterday was busy we thought a short trundle was in order today. First though Nigel decided to erect our new Quest Pop Up Gazebo.

It went up remarkably well (after I had reminded him which bit to pull on first) and was secured with a lot of tent pegs as there was still a bit of a breeze blowing.

We decided that we will buy a ground sheet and a couple of side sheets to cover the fly screens as they let a lot of the wind through. It does provide shade well though.

After lunch we went for a tour of Sandy Lane (only about a mile away). It’s a quaint village with many old houses and thatched cottages – from a bygone age.

The road through it was very busy though but there is a good pavement for most of it – just crossing it was a bit hairy. Its claim to fame is the only wooden thatched Church in England.

The small Church of St Mary & Nicholas is very pretty. It was paid for by monies collected from locals – and still in use for services, baptisms and weddings. We had a good look around and took more photos.

trund 1

Back at Voyager we relaxed for a while, had our meal and then joined the others in the Gazebos to celebrate Val & John’s 35th wedding anniversary with a glass of punch. This was followed by a quiz that proved very entertaining – not that we do very well with quizzes.

A little TV and another restful night.

Saturday 29th June 2019

Today was warm (hottest this year so far apparently) – long may it last.

We had a really lovely chill out day – it is nice not to have to rush at anything – the sun is hot, 28deg or more. So we sat in the shade of the Gazebo for part of the day and then a nice cooling breeze developed so after our Tapas lunch we moved the chairs into the open, reclined them and had a snooze – happy days.

There was a cream tea social later which we skipped as we really shouldn’t be eating scones with jam and cream – I must have put on a couple of pounds at least already.

We did attend the celebration for Pat & Pete’s 250th Rally – with cheese and wine, not that we ate or drank much. We did have a good go at the quiz and managed to get a few right, but not enough to win.

Another very nice evening.

Sunday 30th June 2019

Home today but first there’s flag – and the drawing of the raffle. We had bought four strips of tickets and there were a lot of prizes so we were hopeful of winning something – but our usual luck prevailed and all the big, good ones disappeared as we waited. We did win something in the end – a Chinese embroidered glasses case – very, um, nice.

The clouds had returned although it didn’t rain so our journey home was short and uneventful.

More washing.

 

Minehead

Tuesday 18th June 2019

Now wouldn’t you just believe it – I had been looking forward to spending time with the family since we arranged this little holiday way back. It eventually got here and the rain came too – typical!

So today was an enforced chill day – well a bored chill day – I couldn’t raise any enthusiasm at all – in fact if Nigel hadn’t done the cooking we probably wouldn’t have eaten.

Wednesday 19th June 2019

The weather was not the best this morning but nowhere near as bad as yesterday. They forecast an improving outlook so with fingers crossed (and emergency ponchos in our backpacks) we set off. We met my brother Roy, his girls Michelle & Sophie with her boys Jake & Harry at the Butlin’s main gate.

butlins

They are staying in a private holiday caravan on the edge of the site but we still have to pay Butlin’s guest day rate to visit them – so we can go on all the free rides if we like. Like that was going to happen.

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We did enjoy watching (and filming) all of them having fun on the Go Carts (which they had to pay extra for)

cart win

before we trundled through the park

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to their very nice van. Had a coffee and a good catch up chat.

van

We then took them to explore Minehead town – well the seafront bit anyway

– nipped into the indoor market for some tourist tat – as you do – and then on to ‘The Hairy Dog’ pub for which we had seen a big billboard advert. We checked the facilities and had a couple of drinks as we planned our next days itinerary.

As the afternoon progressed on toward the evening we parted company – the young ones returning to their caravan and us to Voyager to relax (via the Fish & Chip shop – so I have now sated my desire with a well-cooked cod and chips – not SW friendly).

It was a very good day but the energy of young people had worn us both out.

Thursday 20th June 2019

We woke late. I’m glad we had arranged to meet the others later in the day giving them time to enjoy the attractions of Butlin’s while we enjoyed a day in the slow lane.

The weather was going to brighten up today according to Nigel (ever the optimist) so after all the usual chores were sorted we set off for a more in depth explore of the town and harbour.

estate

The clouds cleared as we trundled through the housing estate route we elected to follow with only the occasional dark one passing quickly over. We found the tide was out – seems to be out all day this visit – but the harbour afforded some good views of the area as well as hinting at the history of the place.

Then on through the very well-kept Blenheim Gardens

to explore the town – some old architecture and interesting statues as well.

stat

We returned to Voyager for a rather large Tapas style lunch followed by a siesta before getting the call from Roy about 3.00 – we were to meet the gang at The Hairy Dog at 5.00.

Another of Roy’s offspring had joined them for the day – Daniel with his wife Angela and their children. The kids were all enjoying the adventure playground at the rear of the pub. They didn’t have anything like that in my youth.

The adults sitting and enjoying a drink and chat on one of the tables.

We had a few drinks and a great time – getting back to Voyager about 10.30 – late for us these days.

Had a very peaceful night and slept well.

Friday 21st June 2019

The last day of this break so we get all packed up again and set off for our drive home.

Of course the weather is wonderful – warm, full sun with not a cloud in the sky.

It always leaves me a little sad having to say goodbye to the family – we see them so rarely these days – but Roy is talking about getting a Motorhome so hopefully that will change.