Museums Day

Wednesday 31st October 2018

Our plans for today changed at the last minute. It was to be a visit to the seaside but I was let down – my food mixer sale fell through.

So as we had everything ready for a day out we decided to visit some local attractions that we hadn’t yet got around to. In fact as we were checking opening hours on the interweb we came across another TripAdvisor recommendation.

We set forth with Voyager but without Betty (just taking the wheelchair today) – first stop Tesco for fuel (cheapest in the area) then on a few miles to the REME Museum at RAF Lyneham. It only opened to the public in June 2017.

It turned out to be quite a find – lots of exhibits to check out and ponder over. My dad was in the REME for his National Service – spending time in Korea – but all I know is that he drove a truck. He would never talk about his time there. Years later I saw a scar on his leg and asked him about it – a shrapnel wound he said, but would not elaborate.

So our visit to the Museum brought memories of my father – we lost him in May last year – I’m sure he would have enjoyed a visit though.

After spending a couple of hours we returned to Voyager – their car park has 3 spaces large enough for Motorhomes.

It was still early so we decided to go to Lydiard Park in Swindon. We had our lunch when we arrived watching dog walkers and a few young families enjoying the fresh air as we sat in warm comfort looking through the windows.

After we had tidied up we went out for a look at the autumn colours as the trees lost their leaves.

We have visited the park several times over the years but never been into the house/Museum. Now was the time to put that right.

We spent a lovely hour or so looking around – another well maintained museum detailing the history of the house and St John family who lived there for 500 years.

The rooms are kept in their Georgian design with many Portraits of family through the year and some stunning plasterwork and fireplaces.

Library slf

Entry to the walled garden is included in the price but we left that for warmer weather – what we had seen had made for a lovely enjoyable day – which made up for the bad start.

Forest Glade

Saturday 20th October 2018

We awoke again to another lovely day. A couple of the vans that came in yesterday left early this morning, guess they were just on a stopover.

We are on the move today but before setting off we both had showers in the van. Normally we use the site facilities but here although they have a disabled shower room it is unheated and I’m a delicate flower don’t you know. It didn’t take too long and works surprisingly well – see an early blog for details of how we setup the bathroom to our requirements.

So on our way just before 11 o’clock – first stop Exeter for some top up shopping. We were going to go to Morrison’s but the traffic was bad almost as soon as we got off the dual carriageway so we opted for Sainsbury’s instead as it was much closer.

All done and put away we moved on and stopped in a lay bye on the way to Honiton. A quick sandwich and then as Forest Glade’s book in time was not until 2.30 I had an hours nap – lovely in our warm van with the sun coming through the windows.

Our booking email had provided directions and a map – with explicit instructions not to use Sat Nav – so we didn’t. We followed the recommended route deciding when about half way that if this was the good way we were very glad we didn’t try the other way because this was a bit hairy at times with narrow lanes and only occasional passing places.

When we got there the site itself was lovely with lots of things to do including an indoor swimming pool. We got pitched up with no issues and then went for our customary exploration trundle just to check things out.

We did find that most of the recommended walks were too muddy for us.  I collected a few windfall things from the ground as we toured about and did a little Facebook collage of them when we got back.

Collage 2

After our meal we just chilled for the evening.

Sunday 21st October 2018

A lovely sunrise today although a bit chilly this morning. Nigel did all the outdoor chores as usual while I did the washing up after breakfast.

We went for a bit of a trundle before lunch along the lanes – not too far as there are no close villages or things to see so mainly for a breath of fresh air.

This afternoon we just chilled – we do need to have a relaxing day to recharge now and again – in fact I do more and sleep better when we are on ‘holiday’ than most of the time we are at home – which just goes to prove that more trips are needed.

Monday 22nd October 2018

Time to return home – the weather is looking OK although we did have a shower overnight and although not too damp it is definitely chilly in the mornings.

We left Forest Glade just before 11 o’clock and even after Nigel chatted with Reception were not sure which way to go. So we thought we would try to retrace our route – but unfortunately we went wrong

somewhere and ended up using lanes that got narrower and then muddier

even finding what appeared to be a cutting through a rock which showed evidence of many scrapes from other vehicles.

Lanes 2
Not a road for a 5 tonne Motorhome!!

Lanes c

We eventually made it to a two lane road at a point which we found on the map later was less than 2 miles from where we started. We had done 6 miles of lanes to get there. We’ve noted not to use this campsite again – nice though it is.

A few miles further and we were on the M5 heading North. It was still early and we had no reason to hurry home so decided to make a little detour and check out Burnham-On-Sea as it was the start of another railway featured in episode 5 of ‘Walking Britain’s Lost Railways’ which we enjoyed last Friday.

We have skirted around its edge when visiting Brean over many years but never stopped – so today we went right to the esplanade and found a very Motorhome friendly car park with space enough for us.

Voyager Burnham

We take up 2 entire parking spaces and usually have to pay for both even with my blue badge but here ‘Disabled’ are free so we parked up got out the 2G’s and had a good trundle onto the jetty where train passengers could alight and join waiting ships.

Burnham bch jetty 1

Then along the prom past the Pier around St Andrews Church

and back through the crowded shopping streets to Voyager. We did buy a fridge magnet and new windmill for Grace but couldn’t find a postcard of Burnham (Sold out – end of season etc).

A warming soup for lunch then we set off again this time completing our journey home with no issues on the motorway.

So that is the end of our scheduled holidays this year – until we think of another one of course.

Addendum

Since we have been home the Motorhome insurance renewal has arrived and Nigel has upgraded us to include Breakdown Recovery in Europe from mid-November so now that we will be fully covered I think a bit of winter sun may be called for. Especially with all the berries we’ve seen on bushes this week (from my childhood I remember that means a bad winter) it’s got to be warmer in Spain or Portugal in January February hasn’t it?

Lydford and Okehampton

Thursday 18th October 2018

Today the sun has returned but not the temperatures we had a few weeks back (high of 18deg) so after breakfast and the chores we set of again on the cycleway but in the opposite direction to yesterday.

Path 6

The trundle this way is more open with some wonderful views,

 

and after a mile or two we found Lake Viaduct this one is made with stone again in 1874 and is very high –

LViad up

a bit scary looking over the edge.

LViad dn

We continued on and eventually got to Lydford – a small village with mostly old houses and in the oldest part a Castle and a Church. The Castle is maintained by English Heritage and is a typical Norman Keep built in 1195.

Lydford C1

Unfortunately the gate was not wide enough for our scooters but we were able to get some good photos from nearby in the Churchyard next door.

This 13th century church has some good stained glass and some very useful booklets and postcards with an honesty box for payment.

Nigel picked up a selection and took some photos for me to see later while I chatted with a couple we had as neighbours on the site last night and who had coincidently decided to visit Lydford as well.

It was just after 1 o’clock and as we had not brought a picnic lunch today we decided to try the Castle Inn just up the road.

Cas Inn 3

We parked the scooters outside and walked the few yards into their restaurant. A lovely old feel English Pub with a good selection on the menu.

Cas Inn 2

We decided to have the home made wild mushroom soup.

Cas Inn soup

We have been let down before with ‘home made’ food but this was indeed the real deal and probably the best mushroom soup I have ever had, really tasty and well-seasoned.

After our break we set forth following the signs to Lydford Gorge where there is an impressive waterfall. It is a National Trust site and for non-members the entrance fee is over £10 – as members we could get in for free had it not been for the fact that there is no ramped access – all steps in fact – some of which we could see from the road bridge we crossed.

Lyford Gorge 4

It’s a shame but I suppose in a Gorge you will have steep sides that need steps – we will have to wait a bit longer to find a good waterfall that can be seen from our scooters.

We returned to the cycle way and made our way back to Voyager as by now it was getting much cooler in the shade and the six or so miles would take us about an hour to do.

With the hills we have done today Nigel’s scooter was starting to get low on battery power but we made it back OK. It looks like 2 years or so is what we can expect from our scooter batteries for the way we use them.

Voyager was warm and welcoming when we got back so while I prepared our meal Nigel cleaned and put the scooters away and onto charge ready for our next good trundle tomorrow.

Meal then TV and relax before bed.

Friday 19th October 2018

Yet another sunny day so after breakfast and chores we were off on the 2G’s heading into Oakhampton, again using the cycleway over the Meldon Viaduct but this time continuing on past the station and quarry.

Following the heritage railway line and meeting more walkers and riders today – must be the sun encouraging people to venture out. On our way we saw a hawk in a tree – we stopped and got a photo

Hawk

but he was too quick when he flew off so didn’t manage to snap another – he was big though and graceful as he flew to a tree further down the path.

We had to use a tunnel under the Okehampton by-pass (A30) which seems to be very busy all of the time. On we went and as we neared the town we found a bench by the path so stopped and admired the view of part of Okehampton Castle – taking a few photos.

Oke castl 1

The town itself is quite small and built in the valley between the rolling hills around it. We followed the signs to the centre where we found a few charity shops and independents with at least two supermarkets. We did a bit of shopping for fresh bread and fruit we were running short of before having a quick look at the Museum Courtyard and taking some pics of the Town Hall area.

We had brought a picnic with us today so followed the signs to Simmons Park which we found to be a lovely little wooded area with good pathways alongside a fast running small river way.

We found a spot in the sun where we ate our sandwiches while watching young men erect a travelling funfair just over a bridge on what looked like a car park.

Simmons pk selfie

Then a further explore of the rest of the park – again the plants have started to go over but it would have been lovely a few weeks back.

Knowing that it would soon start to cool down we decided not to hang about but head back to Voyager. Up the steep hill to the start of the cycleway by Okehampton railway station which also has a museum which we left for our next visit.

On our way through one of the cuttings we saw movement in the ferns beside us and watched a fox climb the steep side only to disappear when it reached the top – it’s lovely to see the wild life so close while we trundle slowly along – you miss so much even if only cycling.

When we got back to the site we found a lot more Motorhomes and Caravans had pitched up while we were out and a few more arrived while we were sorting ourselves out and having our meal – the fine weather has encouraged them I’m sure.

Old Railway Line in Devon

Tuesday 16th October 2018

We are off on our travels again – this time we have found a campsite near Okehampton, Devon called Bundu. An unusual name but in just the right location for us to access a part of the path featured in episode 3 of Walking Britain’s Old Railways with Rob Bell.

We had no problems on our journey – stopped for lunch on the M5 at Sedgemore Services

Voyager servs

and arrived on site about 4 o’clock. We got pitched with no issues and Nigel went for a quick explore of the site to check the amenities.

Voyager Bundu

He told me that they were a bit basic but all that we needed – and that access to the cycleway would be very easy. The only downside is that we are pretty close to the A30 and the traffic noise can be a bit load at times.

We settled in – it doesn’t take us long to get our van homely and warm.

Dinner was sweet chilli chicken (using a ready cooked chicken we bought earlier) instead of our usual prawns – just for a change.

Wednesday 17th October 2018

After a leisurely start we were out on the 2G’s heading along the cycle way NCN27 toward Okehampton.

Until the Beeching cuts of the sixties it was part of the Okehampton to Plymouth railway line – but now it is a tarmacked pathway which is used by cyclists and walkers as well as us on our scooters.

It was looking terrific on this fine autumn morning – the leaves in varying colours are starting to fall and mingle with the ferns on the ground. There are rocky out crops in the cuttings with water filtering down to little pools at the side of the path. In places it looks positively prehistoric.

We met others on our way – everyone friendly and responding warmly to our cheery hellos – as we made our way to Meldon Reservoir. This was a bit of a scenic detour from the cycleway over a quite steep hill.

Resv 3

The reservoir was created by damming the West Okement River in 1972 (the last dam built on Dartmoor apparently).

It is a lovely spot – the water put me in mind of the lochs in Scotland. We trundled across the dam taking some good photos of the water and the valley beyond the dam – in the distance we could see the Meldon Viaduct – a magnificent Victorian engineering achievement.

There is no circular route so we pushed back the way we came, past the large class of school children on bicycles who had stopped on the edge of the dam for what appeared to be a snack break. Back on the ‘27’ we continued to the viaduct itself.

MViaduct 9

MVd v 1

Dam 5

The views from it were fantastic and a few steps down at the end allowing a close up view of the workmanship of this 1874 creation.

MViaduct 5

Past the Buffet Car café (closed) and the old Meldon station – there is still track here and a notice board says trains run to Okehampton and sometimes beyond during summer weekends – a diesel heritage railway.

Buffet CarQuarry Stn 1

On a little further to see the remains of the quarry which supplied much of the hardcore used on the railway lines in southern England.

We had considered a picnic lunch but the weather had closed in – the low cloud clipping the hilltops and a light drizzle in the air so we opted to cut our trundle short, return to Voyager and have a warming bowl of soup with our sandwiches.

After a bit of a siesta Nigel got all the pics off the camera and phones – some pretty good ones if I do say so myself.

I had forgotten to get anything out of the freezer again so we decided it would be meatballs (pretty quick defrosting) in my home made tomato sauce with pasta for our meal – very nice.

Bit of research on the laptop for tomorrow and an evening of TV completed the first complete day of this break.

Our ‘Indian Summer’

Wednesday 10th October 2018

The forecast for today was being hailed as our Indian Summer ‘day’ – so Nigel and I decided not to waste it – a Day Trip to Weston-Super-Mare.

Now we know some residents of W-S-M are enjoying themselves further south – like Benidorm, Spain – but for today at least it looks like the weather is pretty similar.

I packed up a bit of lunch in the hopefully now repaired Fridge (today is its test run on gas) and we set off about 10.30.

A quick stop for fuel, then onto the motorway. The M5 southbound was a bit slow at times but at least it was moving today. We made it to our usual car park at noon. In fact the car park on the Beach is the only one which will accommodate us with Betty. We are too long for anywhere else. Today there was a sign saying that due to a high tide we must leave by 6pm and they had reduced by half the size of the parking area. We didn’t have any trouble finding a space big enough for us though.

Car Park

Now a lot of people (including us in the past) have commented on the price of parking in seaside resorts. If you only want to stop for half an hour to look at the sea or get an ice cream then parking on the front looks expensive because its minimum is for 4 hours. With my Blue Badge I get an extra hour so for us now we are happy to pay £6 for 5 hours on a nice day.

Nigel got our ticket from the machine and then got the 2G’s out – he has that down to a fine art now.

So sun hats on we set off for a trundle to the Pier. Preparations for this year’s Hydrogarden Beach Race were underway (weekend of 19-21 October) – big sand moving machines and the construction of the temporary officials building was well under way. From the preview video on Youtube it looks like a lot of fun and I would have loved to have ago myself – if only I was forty years younger.

We headed back to Voyager for lunch. They were right about the weather (temp in the low 20’s) so we sat on our scooters on the beach, trays on the front and tucked into our olives and sandwiches. Nigel had an alcohol free lager while I had my special ‘lemonade’ – very civilized. We got a few glances but that’s OK – when you get to our age we put it down to others ‘jealousy’ even if it isn’t.

We had spotted a sign to Clarence Park earlier so as we went and checked it out.

ClarencePk

It wasn’t hard to find – it is more green space than flower beds but there is a massive hanging basket display (past its best now but it would have been beautiful a few weeks back).

Park 5

There were good paths, a childs play area, a fountain and pond.

 

 

 

An old Victorian looking café – tempting but we had just eaten. There is a park lodge at one corner (now boarded up) upon which a Heron was perched looking down at the fish

 

 

 

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in the pond – waiting for all the humans to move away so he could get his dinner no doubt.

We proceeded into town on side roads we had never used before – you never know what you will find – often nothing special but today I found a plaque on a house commemorating Arthur Eddington

Plaq

(Wikipedia describe him as ‘an English astronomer, physicist, and mathematician of the early 20th century who did his greatest work in astrophysics.). I’m not sure how long that will stick in my brain but it peeked my interest for a while – hopefully things like this will hold off any slow slide into senility for a bit longer.

On through to the town from a different direction – found some street art we’d not seen before

 

 

 

– and a Costa we had seen before but our different approach raised the question of what it was before it became a coffee shop – very art deco in design.

Costa

Nigel did have a quick google about it but couldn’t find anything. Anyone know?

Further on, back onto the prom to our favourite ice cream parlour – a vanilla strawberry mix whippy tub each – up to our expected standard – yummy.

Moving on we did notice that a team of young men were demolishing the sand sculptures – shame but we did get to see a few without having to pay. I did wonder if one of the lads was Alfie Two-Buckets but quickly realised he was too young – maybe his grandson? (You need to be a fan of Jean and Lionel to get that one!)

 

 

 

I suggested we go back to Voyager by way of the beach, but we weren’t sure so stayed on the prom for a bit. Then we saw a guy on a mobility scooter on the sand with no problems – so we got on at the next ramp.

This gave us a different view of the Tropicana

Beach pano

– it looks more like a fortress from the sea side, and a lovely view back to the pier as we trundled on the compacted sand. We got a big wave from the builders as we past them – I think they were quite surprised to see two old fogies trundling on the beach – we smiled and waved back.

Back at Voyager it was all too soon time to make tracks – we’d had a lovely day but were both tired out by the time we got home.

Oh and the fridge ran fine on gas for the few hours we were there so Nigel is going to complete its refit ready for our next little expedition – to Devon for a few days next week.

 

OOh Betty – Castles and Gardens

Friday 28th September 2018

Another fine day, a bit more cloud – but that just made it a bit warmer overnight. After the usual chores and breakfast Nigel started to tackle the bearing.

Bearing Repair 4

He made good progress to start with but found the inside race was seized onto the stub axle. He didn’t have tools man enough to shift it, just a screwdriver and claw hammer.

Bearing Repair 5
Nigel’s tool is not big enough!!

We needed a mobile Mechanic.

A quick visit to Reception – I cannot praise them highly enough – they recommended Simon and gave us his card. We gave him a ring at 11.30 and he said he would be able to come about 5 o’clock – and I was expecting days (maybe even having to extend our stay).

We decided not to go out today (in case he was early) as the wind has got up and it feels very chilly. I did a bit of sewing, Nigel finished off the outside jobs and then had a bit of a read for a while.

After lunch we were getting a bit stir crazy so thought we would get some air and go over to the beach and along to our local Martello Tower – one that has been done up. Took a few photos, as you do.

Local Martell Twr

Simon came at 5 o’clock and got right to it. Didn’t take him long to get that pesky race off mind you he did have a good chisel and a big lump hammer.

Bearing Repair 6

He fitted the new hub and as we had bought a set we got him to do the other one as well (although it looked OK it’s better to be safe I think – we’ll keep the old one for any future emergencies).

Bearing Repair 8

Nigel is going to check how may miles we have done and make sure we change the hubs routinely to avoid it happening again (well as much as you can).

The Fish & Chip van was around tonight, and I was tempted but resisted and we had gammon and chips (SW style of course) for our meal. The ice-cream van did a tour of the site but we resisted that as well – well we had had a little tub from the site shop earlier.

There have been a lot of campers arriving for the weekend all of the hardstanding pitches around us are full and a lot of the grass ones as well – not too many children though thankfully.

We settled down for the night – watched a bit of TV did a bit of Blog work.

Saturday 29th September 2018

We awoke today to find the sun shining again – not a cloud free sky but pretty good and the wind has dropped so it feels a lot warmer. The usual chores and breakfast sorted I made another picnic lunch as we are off again for the day.

A couple of miles away in Pevensey village is an English Heritage site ‘Pevensey Castle’. As we thought (from looking at Google maps) there is a good footpath all the way there and it’s easy to find as the village is not large.

Pevensey Castle 1

The Roman Walls of the castle were huge (high and thick) built about AD 290.

Pevensey Castle a

In 1066 the ruins where refortified by William the Conqueror and a castle built within them about a third of the size.

Pevensey Castle 2

The towers within this Norman Castle were used for billets and a machine gun post during the Second World War.

After looking around the Castle and having our picnic lunch within the Roman enclosure we continued on to the next village of Westham. Nigel had seen what looked like an unusual weather vane on top of the church he wanted a closer look at.

Westham sign

We found a pretty little village with a wedding taking place in the church. We watched as the bride and a good group of bridesmaids and flower girls arranged themselves on the path before proceeding down the aisle.

A couple of old Tudor buildings added to the interest so we took a few photo’s before retracing our steps back into Pevensey for a look at its church (St Nicolas – built 1216).

Nigel took photo’s outside and in while I checked out the gravestones.

st Nicolas pic
In the Church artwork showing the shoreline upto 16th Century

There is also a Museum in the village but its entrance is on the first floor – so we didn’t bother.

By 3.30 at this time of year it starts to get cooler, even on a nice day like today, so we headed back to Voyager which took about 45 minutes.

A warming cup of coffee hit the spot. Then food cooking which really warmed us up.

Nice sunset tonight.

Sunset Thur 2

Usual TV and relax before another good night.

Sunday 30th September 2018

We have decided to go out in Voyager today to give Betty’s bearings a little test run before we head home tomorrow.

Exploring TripAdvisor we settled on Michelham Priory, House and Gardens. Its only about 10 miles from the campsite so we set off about 10.30 – stopping briefly at ASDA for some fresh fruit and bread.

The Priory is a really lovely place to visit with a large car park (and Coach Park which we used) and easy access to all of the grounds with ramps placed where required.

Michel hs

It is, in fact, the only house we have been to that I managed to tour the entire ground floor on Grace – only one door way was a bit tight.

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Loads to see – I loved the kitchen where I had a good chat with one of the guides about how some of the kitchen gadgets worked. Great the way the spit was turned by a falling stone!

The gardens are extensive and still had a fair amount of colour (mostly roses and dahlias) but I suspect that July would have the best displays.

But with more things dyeing back the sculpture has come more to the fore.

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And when you find a big wooden chair what else can you do!

We had lunch in Voyager before going back to complete our exploration, finding the Bronze Age Roundhouse (circa 2016) – but well-made and a good example of how it was done.

The Forge, Great Barn and the Mill were the last things to visit.

Unfortunately the mill is under repair – the teeth of the pit wheel need to be replaced (the 1997 ones having worn out) and are being made of English oak – costing £25 each. They need 84. When they have them each will take 1.5hrs to fit and adjust. The miller hopes all will be done by next March. We wish them luck.

All in all a very enjoyable day.

The journey back was uneventful – Betty’s new bearings working perfectly.

Pitched up 2

Pitched up again there was time for a little rest before cooking our roast chicken dinner. Followed by a naughty little ice cream tub, nice though.

Monday 1st October 2019

Home today – using the A27 to Southampton then north to Newbury and onto the M4 – we didn’t like the long lumpy concrete section of the M25 when coming. Nigel thinks it may have weakened the bearing that failed on us.

As it was it only added six miles to our journey – took a bit longer but the scenery was much better. I think we will be staying somewhere closer to Chichester maybe Arundel on a future trip. There are some lovely looking Castles and Churches that need visiting – I’ll start planning.

Well that’s the end of planned trips – but we will be off again before long and will keep you updated on plans and how the fridge repair goes.

Eastbourne and Bust

Tuesday 25th September 2018

After our experience last week in North Wales our next adventure will be to the south coast – a much better chance of some late season sun and warmth.

We got Voyager loaded with all the necessary yesterday, with the last minute stuff this morning. So after attending Slimming World for a quick weighing and chat we set forth at about 1 o’clock.

The weather was glorious – the sun shining so the going was good. We decided to go between the M4 and M3 via Bracknell so we could stop for a bite of lunch in a lay bye. This all went well and we made good progress on the M25, M23, A23 and were happily going around Brighton on the A27 when suddenly a van past us tooting at us and pointing at Betty – a quick look in the rear view camera showed she had a bit of a wobble (understatement) so we pulled over to the side of the road (luckily there were a few chevrons so avoided blocking a lane). On with the Hi Viz and venture out to find the problem.

Betty’s offside wheel bearing had collapsed leaving it precariously balanced metal to metal.

Betty wheel

We had thought the bad weather last week was our third bit of bad luck – apparently not – This was definitely it.

What to do? We couldn’t stay where we had stopped for very long and luckily there was an off ramp about 200m ahead. So we proceeded at 20mph, got off the dual carriageway took the first exit off the roundabout and stopped in a lay bye after 100m.

Brken Down1

There was a sign saying waiting was restricted to 5 mins. We ignored that one. We were just outside the campus of the University of Sussex.

Out with the laptop – get the detail for the Breakdown Recovery – phone them up. They were extremely helpful (and I was extremely grateful I had specifically added trailer cover) so they arranged for a local Recovery firm to load Betty on the back of a Lorry and take her to our Campsite.

Recovery 2

We had less than 25 miles to follow the truck.

We had called the Norman’s Bay CCC site while we were waiting for the lorry so they were aware we would be late – they were very understanding – and helped by letting us skip the usual booking in process when we eventually got there at 7.15.

Betty was unloaded off the lorry straight onto our pitch (exactly as Nigel would have positioned her had she not had a problem), Voyager next to her, levelled and electric connected all within half an hour.

What a relief – I rustled up some food – you guessed it ‘sweet chilli prawns’ – we are here for six nights so time enough to get Betty repaired.

So we started our relaxing break watching the TV and talking about what to do tomorrow.

Wednesday 26th September 2018

Surprisingly we both had a good night’s sleep so it was a bit of a late start. The weather is as forecast, blue sky, sunny and warming nicely.

Nigel went off to explore the site and do the full booking in process with Reception while I made breakfast.

Then it was down to phone calls to find some wheel bearings for Betty. This turned out to be easier than we imagined. A call to Tickners Trailers provided a phone number for Rob at ‘1 Stop Trailers’ who could send us a complete hub set (both wheels) by next day courier.

So after the other chores we trundled off to look at the sea from the top of the shingle bank

Pitched from dune

and then on to explore the local village of Pevensey Bay. Quite small with just a few shops, takeaways and pubs – I drooled over the motorcycle I will be buying when we win the lottery.

Dream Machine

We returned after a couple of hours for lunch before venturing out in the other direction to a recommended pub to investigate if it was worth going there for a meal. Unfortunately it was a meal deal place with mostly pies and burgers – not our thing at all so we decided not to have that – instead returning to Voyager for a nap before our home produced evening meal. Trouble is I’m too good a cook – maybe if I fluff a few meals it will encourage Nigel to look harder for a nice restaurant to take me out to.

TV and relax before bed.

Thursday 27th September 2018

The forecast said that today will be the warmest of our trip (a nice 22deg with only a light breeze) so despite the bearings being delivered today we didn’t want to hang around waiting. We thought it was best to have a word with the Wardens – check they were OK to accept delivery for us – but as it turned out when Nigel popped into Reception to chat with them the package had already arrived. We quickly put them away in Voyager and then set off for Eastbourne.

Its nearly 6 miles to the Pier but there is pavement or cycle way for the entire length so it was a lovely little trundle (all flat too).

 

We spent a lovely day by the sea,

Pier

 

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there were still a lot of people around looking at the sights and resting on the many benches – that’s one benefit of the 2G’s, we don’t have to look for seats we have our own. Another is we don’t have to pay the inflated café prices for lunch

Posh Cafe
Lovely setting – not cheap though

– I had prepared our picnic earlier and had it all packed in a cool bag within my back pack.

Eastbourne pstcrd

We ate it on a boardwalk in the exact place that the Bandstand was (per old photo on a postcard shows).

 

Watching the folks on the shingle beach, some throwing pebbles into the sea, others laughing and chatting and a few brave ones sunbathing as we ate our olives, sandwiches and fruit with yoghurt, washed down by our special ‘lemonade’ (small sherry).

Vw wst frm Pier ls

We trundled about on the promenade and had a nice whippy ice cream before slowly making our way back via Martello Tower #66 – couldn’t get too close due to construction work but did get a good photo.

 

Mar Twr 66

It was a really lovely day – exactly what we had been hoping for when we booked this little trip.

We picked up a menu from one of the Chinese takeaways in Pevensey Bay. They did free delivery to our site so we phoned our order through when we got back and the food was there within half an hour. Nice not to have to cook and not too off plan (saved syns should cover it).

Relaxing evening – with a few photos of the sunset – bit of TV and blog writing.

Well thats the end of part one – join us soon for the continueing story of Betty’s Bearings and more exciting things we got up to!

 

If it can go wrong it will!

Tuesday 18th September 2018

We are off on our adventures again, this time to North Wales. A place called Shell Island (just south of Porthmadog). As it’s quite a drive from home and we couldn’t leave until after lunch we decided to do the journey in two hops having a stopover in Hereford tonight.

The weather was cloudy but dry and mild when we left and stayed that way until we reached the CCC site at Little Tarrington.

A lovely quiet site with an adjoining fishing lake surrounded by trees – idyllic but as its only overnight we didn’t get to see much. We also had to use the Freeview TV channels as the satellite signal was blocked by trees near our pitch.

Overnight the wind started to blow but it did stay dry.

Wednesday 19th September 2018

After breakfast and battening down the hatches we left Hereford. It was about 10.30 – the wind was not too bad but worse was forecast for later. We made good progress (tractors permitting)

tractor

and stopped near Welshpool for lunch about one o’clock in a lay bye beside the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway line – no trains today though.

lunch

After our break we were back on our way, the wind getting progressively stronger, and the scenery getting more spectacular.

distant hills

Large hills (mountain like),

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very steep with water cascading down in fast moving streams beside us as we climbed the edge to reach the highest pass in Wales,

near top

and then down the other side

coming down 1

using the engine and gears as well as gentle breaking so as not to go too fast.

Then down on the relative flat to Barmouth.

We arrived at the Shell Island site just after 3 o’clock and while Nigel did all the usual booking in stuff I text our friend Aileen that we had made it. She replied with directions to find her on the very large site. On the road to her we could see the sea with much white water being churned up by the wind.

Shell Island view 2

There are no marked pitches on the island just a 6m rule between vans so we selected our spot and unhitched Betty. We had a good chin wag with Aileen and then went for a bit of a tour of the whole site in Voyager (too windy and cold to use the 2G’s). If the weather was better, like earlier in the summer it would have been superb. We got back levelled up and unpacked ready for a nice quiet evening.

We then thought we would try a short walk to see the view around, only intending to be out a few minutes so left everything in the van and didn’t bother locking it as there was nobody else around.

Shell Island pano

Voyager decided to lock herself – with all our keys inside her along with wallet and cards etc we had a bit of a problem.

Our 10 minute walk turned out to be over an hour but luckily Aileen was able to assist with some tools which Nigel used to get in – and I’m not going to tell you how – but I was more than a little worried I can tell you.

Back to normal we ate and watched TV as the wind blow and the rain poured. Then to bed.

Thursday 20th September 2018

After a rather disturbed night where the fridge kept cutting out (flashing an error light). We reset it a couple of times but after a while it gave up all together.

In the morning Nigel had a good look at it and cleaned the flue – thinking maybe the wind had dislodged some soot and blocked the burner. His efforts were in vane however so more investigation is needed and in the mean time we have a defrosting load of frozen food.

We went and had a coffee with Aileen and her friend Dawn in the site cafeteria – using the 2G’s to get there. While there the rain came in heavy again so we had to use our ‘emergency poncho’s’ for the return trundle. It was only a ten minute trip but we were well soaked by the time we made it back and got the scooters away into Betty.

On checking the forecast it looked like more rain and wind for the rest of the time we were booked to stay on the island. The tail end of Hurricane Helenathen Storm Ali’ and Storm Bronagh‘ were all going to hitting North Wales and points further North.

All in all we reckoned that was enough to send us home early.

We packed up and set forth driving over the high pass in the pouring rain and the twists and turns going down the other side even in a low gear was a bit hair raising, but I’m getting braver – a few years ago I would have demanded Nigel stop so I could get out.

We drove all the way home (with a short stop for a quick sandwich) – it took about four and a half hours. So we were very tired when we got back – had a takeaway meal and an early night.

Friday 21st September 2018

After our early departure we were feeling a bit deflated so had a good chat and looked for a nice camp site on the south coast. We had a good look at the 10 day forecast which looked good for next week so booked six nights away on the CCC Normans Bay site at Eastbourne.

But we hadn’t taken into account that bad things happen in threes.

Getting Locked out.

Fridge failure.

We thought the bad weather would be the third.

We were wrong!!  

NFOL Weekend

Wednesday 22nd August 2018

We are off on our travels again today but first it was a visit to Boots the Optician for an eye test. That took longer than we had thought so we were somewhat later setting off than we had planned.

We have booked four nights at the National Feast of Lanterns – a Camping and Caravanning Club annual event this year being held in Cheshire.

It is a bit of a long journey for one day and because we can we decided to spend a night on a small campsite about half way. One that has no facilities except water and a chemical toilet disposal point. Dayhouse Farm & Fishery site turned out to be a field. It was all we needed though so we picked a side that was pretty flat and settled in for the night. We got out the 2G’s and went for a bit of an explore – thought we might be able to find someone to pay – no one about anywhere but some lovely views though.

Dayhouse view

 

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Back at Voyager (who is now sporting some new decals)

I set about making our meal of meatballs with SW friendly tomato sauce – while doing this a neighbouring camper came over for a chat – told me about his day. I think I have one of those faces that people want to confide in as within a few seconds he was telling me that his sister had just died – she was only 67.

A few minutes later the farmer arrived in his 4X4 and Nigel handed over the £7 fee for the night.

After tea we just watched TV and played on our computers – it got very dark tonight (no site lights at all) it was just a shame that the clouds prevented seeing any stars.

Thursday 23rd August 2018

We left Dayhouse just after ten finding little traffic on the few miles back to the M5 but more on the motorway itself. There were no bad delays it was just slow in places where roadworks had 50 or for one section 30 mph restrictions. Apparently the upgrading to a ‘Smart Motorway’ is a long winded process as one yellow sign suggested there would be delays until autumn 2023.

We arrived at the NFOL site about noon and were directed across one field to another labelled ‘Hyperspace’ and on to our pitch.

 

NFOL plan a
Pitched on Hyperspace – marked by the V

It was on a bit of a slope which meant that even with a couple of extra blocks we couldn’t quite get level. We accepted it as ‘good enough’ though and made a mental note to add a few more blocks for future use.

After a bit of lunch we headed off to the Admin tent to register and collect our goody bag – which was mostly adverts but did have the program of events for the weekend. Then back to Voyager to shelter from the first of many showers.

Later, when the showers had passed, we had a trundle around more of the site – finding where to dump rubbish & the CDP for the loo. They weren’t very well marked but we found them.

Back again to Voyager for our meal of Sweet chilli prawns – didn’t get anything out of the freezer again!

Later we trundled off again – In the main area there was a large marquee well set out with chairs in front of a large stage upon which there would be several live acts during our stay. One side was set aside with no chairs – we parked ourselves in there and watched the comedienne and a solo singer for a while. After a few minutes they took a break – so we checked out the other marquee. This one was smaller – one end had a bar – the middle had benches with seats along – the other end had a small slightly raised stage area. When we arrived a brass band was just starting up. There appeared to be an entrance by the stage but Security informed us that this was an exit only – we watched through the opening until our view was blocked by people standing in front of us. The bar area was packed with others, queing for the bar or just standing and drinking – we couldn’t get in. So we moved on – had a look around the food area (burger vans of different varieties) and then on through the trade area – most of which was shut.

We decided to call it a night – but on the way back to Voyager we tried the last marquee – away from the rest and described as the ‘Quiet Bar’. It was too about a dozen people and a small bar

– we had a couple of drinks but it started to get colder and Voyager is warm.

There has been quite a bit of rain in the last few days and I’m worried about getting stuck in the field.

Friday 24th August 2018

Another day of mostly showers a little bit of sunshine – basically a washout.

Nigel did put out the awning and fit our new fairy lights (part of the ‘lanterns’ thing is to decorate the vans – so everyone was doing the same) but even with the guy ropes tying it down the wind was still getting under it and making it flap.

We became increasingly concerned that it would tear and that would be expensive to put right – so in a dry spell it was wound back in and the fairy lights wrapped around Betty instead.

We did go out in the early evening for a look around but nothing much was happening so we just came back and continued to laze around.

Saturday 25th August 2018

We had decided that if the weather was as forecast we would get out and explore beyond the camp site – so after breakfast and the usual chores we set forth to Arley Hall and Gardens – there was a brief shower on route but we sheltered under a big oak tree until it passed.

Arley clk twr

The entrance is through the small gift shop – but the doorway was too narrow for our scooters. Nigel walked in and chatted with the staff. They were very helpful as they said they could let us in another way and provided a map of the gardens – and they do not charge mobility scooter users so that saved us straight away. The house itself was not open today – but we could only access a small part of it anyway so we wouldn’t have bothered even if it was.

We had a look at around the house (took a few pics)

before heading into the gardens just as the sky was turning blue and the sun making an appearance.

They were lovely – the late summer flowers still going strong – wonderful colours in the long borders.

Arley Gdn lng brdr

Quiet hidden places for a tête-à-tête and even an 18th century tea cottage were all explored. There were a few steps here and there but not enough to spoil the couple of hours we spent.

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It was cooler under the trees of the wooded area but there were a number of sculptures hidden around corners to keep your interest.

 

We even had a look inside the Chapel which had some beautiful stained glass windows.

 

All in all well worth a visit.

 

Back at Voyager we had a warming lunch of soup with ham sandwich for dunking.

We went up to the Arena to see the Sci-Fi themed Mardi Gras parade – but as usual we couldn’t see much as it was four deep all around the barriers. So we just had a quick look around and then back to Voyager.

The forecast for tomorrow was for a lot of heavy rain – so we have decided not to stay – the further risk of getting stuck in a muddy field and the fact that we have both been disappointed in the lack of thought with regard to disabled people’s needs.

So we packed the lights away and prepped for the off.

After our meal of Turkey steaks we went to see the Lantern parade – but it looked like they started early and we missed all but the very end. We did have a look around the themed decorated units about the site though – a lot of effort by some folks I must admit.

I bought a balloon with pretty lights on it – which complimented the whirling LED lights we mounted on the front of the 2G’s

Mary lights

– some seemed to like our efforts as they were taking photos of us. We had a trundle around the marquees – the bar was as full as ever and there was no other entertainment scheduled for the evening so we made our way back to Voyager and watched TV until bedtime.

Sunday 26th August 2018

As predicted the rain arrived in the early hours and got progressively heavier so a quick breakfast – then finish the packing away inside while Nigel got Betty positioned for a quick hook-up and un-levelled us.

The field proved hard enough on the unused parts but the main tracks were getting very soft and muddy even at just after ten when we left – so glad we decided not to stay the extra night.

First stop was a visit to the Anderton Boat Lift about 5 miles from the site but nearer 10 as we have to take roads wide enough for us.

We found a large car park and very easy to park as it was almost empty. Even though the rain was still hammering down we decided to get the 2G’s out and give our wet weather gear the first real test. So as well as my coat I put on the cape which covers the scooter tiller to keep the electrics dry.

Nigel got out the scooters covering them with emergency poncho’s until we were ready to go. Everything seemed to work well so we set off to the visitors centre – well laid out on two floors – the top one has the café and gift shop and is where you pay your entrance fee – then a lift to the ground floor which has a large and detailed exhibition about the lift. Our scooters were too big for the lift though but we were directed to the staff entrance outside which one of the staff unlocked for us. It’s really nice when that little extra effort is made to accommodate our needs – so even though the rain continued to poor down we went down to the viewing area and watched the Boat Lift doing its thing – amazing bit of engineering and lovely that it has been restored.

Boat lift

Nigel went into the exhibition area while I sheltered out of the rain – decided I would get more from reading the guide book later. So back up to the gift shop for postcards, fridge magnet and said guide book.

By the time we had got everything packed away and changed into dry cloths (wet gear only protects the top half – both our jeans got a good soaking around the knees) it was gone noon.

We thought about having an early lunch but as it’s a long journey home opted instead to stop at the first sevices on the M5 so as to break up the driving.

The traffic southbound was pretty good – glad we weren’t going north as we passed many long stationary ques as we sped happily onward. Even so it was gone five before we eventually got home.

Well that’s another trip done – plans are being talked about though – North Wales for a while in mid-September and then France for a few weeks when the weather gets colder sometime in October probably.

Long term plan is for a couple of months in Spain and Portugal but that’s for January, February time 2019.

Oxford

Sunday 5th August 2018

Today we are off to Oxford – Nigel was up early getting things ready – he made a video of him cleaning the windscreen using time lapse on the GoPro. He had done that and was in the process of editing it before I even woke up as I had another bad night.

We arrived at the campsite a little after one o‘clock as we had stopped for lunch in a lay bye as usual. We were offered the choice of a few pitches and chose 29 as it was mid-way between the Reception and the Facilities block.

voyager pitched

The site isn’t large but it is well situated and there were lots of Motorhomes, Caravans and tents making the most of this glorious weather. Mostly English but a few Dutch and Germans as well.

It didn’t take us long to get pitched (we mostly have it down to a fine art now) so out came the 2G’s and we were off to explore. We found the Cycle Route sign post just outside the entrance and so headed toward the Town Centre.

We didn’t intend to go far – just enough to get our bearings really. Found Hinksey Park after a few hundred yards which was very nice –

Lakelake mary

it had a large lake which looked very peaceful – except for the group of youngsters playing in it (all good fun though). There was also an outdoor swimming pool and water play area for the younger ones – I might have been tempted but you can have too much of a good thing and I wanted to remember the times I had swimming with the family recently as special so we just looked at the families enjoying themselves.

So onward on the National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 5 – and just around the corner near another entrance to the same park was a red ice cream van. Well we had to try one (vanilla whippy tub) and very nice it was to.

Then on further across a ramped bridge over the River Thames

Thames town

through a housing estate and we found ourselves at the Westgate Shopping Mall (good time to visit as it was just after 4pm on a Sunday). A little bit of window shopping and checking out a bit of the art work and history of the place by way of notices about the walls.

westgt art

The recently built Mall was built on the original site of a Franciscan Abbey where the well-known? Philosopher Roger Bacon did a lot of his experiments and planned a scheme to drain Oxford. Its surprising what we learn in the back streets of a town.

We didn’t go further but made our way back to Voyager because as usual we hadn’t got anything out of the freezer – but just for a change (because it was so warm) we had a prawn salad for our meal. Eaten al fresco in the evening sunshine with a cool glass of spritzer for me and a lager for Nigel. We sat outside until the sun went down chatting about what we wanted to see tomorrow and generally putting the world to rights.

voyager sunset

Monday 6th August 2018

Another bright sunny warm day and we are off to explore Oxford and to see some of the things we missed the last time we were here but of course chores to be done before we go and breakfast to be had.

Took the NCN trail to town again and did the tourist thing – photo taking, buying a postcard and fridge magnet (avoiding being ripped off by the souvenir shopkeeper – insisting on only paying the displayed price) well at £1 for a postcard we were being ripped off anyway.

Oxford is on the world tourist map so there were coach loads of American Spanish and Japanese tourists but even more Chinese all chatting and standing about blocking the pavements with many guided tours in many different languages.

We made slow progress but did get through them and having decided to go to Christchurch Meadow for our lunch we made our way there. Getting in proved harder than we thought – a kissing gate by the Botanical Garden entrance – a steep step at the gate in Merton Street. Finally we asked a porter at the Cathedral who directed us to the main gate in St Aldate’s . We trundled passed the Medieval Dining Hall with its long line of tourists queuing to take a look at it and on

medw selfie

to a shady part near the river where we sat for our picnic while watching people punting, paddling and rowing along.

The most funny was the guy who got his pole stuck on a tree branch and had to paddle back to get it – I have to admit I fell about laughing but I did clap when he eventually retrieved it (he bowed).

We had another trundle around the town,

sighs selfie

found the Castle (and Prison) but thought we would leave the exploring of that for another day so we worked our way back retracing our route on the cycle way. Checked out a fig tree (some overhanging the pavement but not ripe yet) and a mellor as well – (very unusual) while we progressed back to Voyager.

Mellor

We decided on chicken salad for our meal (way too hot to cook much) – al fresco again and another evening sitting outside until late – isn’t it nice to be able to do this in good old England.

Tuesday 7th August 2018

Another beautiful day and both of us up with the lark. Had a big fry up today (SW style of course) because I think it may be a heavy day.

First a quick trip to ‘Go Outdoors’ which is only 50yards from Reception – we needed a bucket and  a collapsible bowl. Then we are off down the Thames Path to Iffley Lock – a lovely trip and the lock was smashing – a stone bridge that didn’t want to go anywhere,

iffley brg

old lock keepers cottage with well tended flower garden.

iffley lock

Getting over the lock gates was ‘interesting’ – the lock keeper fitted the necessary ramps for us –

iff lk ramp

getting on was fine but because of the angles getting off on the other side we really needed a ramp 2 inches wider. We managed it – just sort of slid down the ramp – we are used to taking the odd risk but almost scared the lock keeper to death bless her.

Anyway on we went through Iffley village

iffley vill

to Doddington and then back onto the Thames path to Oxford town – a lovely route with lots of activity on the river with Kayaks, skulls, row boats and one of those enormous  trip boats (again lots of Chinese faces).

thames cruiser

We progressed through the main tourist routes

observ area

and on to Jerrico (as featured in many an Inspector Morse episode). Had a good look at the eateries in Little Clarendon Street – Italian, French and Spanish almost next door to each other as well as more English Cafes make for somewhere for everyone.

I had hoped that we would be able to get to see the canal which is on the edge of Jerico but alas it all appeared to be blocked off – shame as we had thought it would be a good place to have our picnic lunch. Oh well we settled for our second choice by returning to the Castle court yard in town and spent a lovely hour there eating and drinking my special ‘lemonade’.

prison

Suitably refreshed we set forth toward TOAD. That’s ‘The Oxford Artisan Distillery’ where we spent half an hour sampling a couple of their Gins (Nigel enjoys – I don’t – bad experience),

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buying a bottle of Ashmolean which is best enjoyed with a slice Jara Lemon (from Bangladeshi shops apparently). Also a couple of TOAD shot classes.

They do tours of the distillery but we were a bit late for that so just had a quick peep at the stills and a good chat with the workers about the place and the setup.

toad still

We set off back to Voyager through South Park (large open park on a hill with trees and open areas) then onward through the town. We had gotten to the High St when Grace started to feel lumpy – looked down and the nearside rear tyre was flat – what do you do when you get a puncture on a mobility scooter.

To start with we swapped scooters and Nigel walked beside Grace – the idea being to find a garage or tyre place – maybe it just needed a bit of air we thought.

After a couple of hundred yards Nigel’s knees were starting to give out so he decided to try riding side saddle – keeping as much weight as possible on the good tyre. This seemed to work and so we made good progress along Abingdon Rd – we knew we had to stop at Tesco and get a few things – and just before we got to the shop we saw a National Tyres place on the right. They pumped some air in and we set off – flat again within a minute or so.

We did the shopping and then continued with the side saddle procedure until we got back to Voyager.

Then it was out with the tools and Nigel removed the wheel,

punct 1

got a bowl of water and did the old look for bubbles thing – there were loads. So the wheel was dismantled the inner tube removed and the bubble test done again.

punct 2

A pin prick size hole was the source.

Quick trip to Go Outdoors for a puncture repair kit – they were out of stock. Nigel thought he would check at Reception (thinking they may know where else he could try) and they had a kit – lucky or what?

The instructions where in Polish? but Nigel remembered how it used to be done in the old days (he reckons it was probably 50 years since he last fixed one) so went with that and had it patched, tested and reassembled in half an hour or so.

punt fx

Another chicken salad tonight and again we sat out until it got dark and a bit chilly before turning in.

Wednesday 8th August 2018

After a good night’s sleep I had a shower using the site facilities. No disabled wet room on this site so had to manage on my own while Nigel waited outside. Had to have a couple of sprays to help but managed it OK. Nigel used the van shower – he’s got it off to a fine art quick spray then soap then rinse off – I doubt if the water is running for more than 45 seconds in total.

A quiet morning with me doing my cross stitch while Nigel did the van clean – whizzing round with the Flash and the Dyson. Looks great – sparkling.

We are eating lunch out today so I don’t need to make a picnic.  After yesterday we had narrowed the choice down to Italian, French or Spanish. We set off taking a jumper each in case it gets colder (not as warm at all today) and made good time to the food area (not as many tourists today).

I didn’t really fancy the Italian (too much pasta) and the French Restaurant seemed to be more heavy meals so Spanish it would be.

Al-Andalus Tapas Bar had only a couple of steps and loads of tables so in we went.

tap br 1

We had the lunch time Tapas special (2 dishes each with bread).

tap br 2

The only real disappointment was the Croquettes – said to be chicken and ham but hardly any taste at all. The others were fine and we did enjoy Dates wrapped with bacon and filled with blue cheese – something I would not have even considered a few years ago but now my palette has changed (and my experience) and I’ll try more exotic things.

After lunch we thought we would just go back to Voyager – we had seen all we wanted for this visit and it was definitely getting cooler with the clouds filling in. Had to have one last ice cream a flavoured one (scoop type) – I had Hazelnut Nigel Tiramisu – asked for large tubs – that’s about 5 good scoops (a lot) not cheap at £9 the pair but value for money (remember to ask for small tub next time).

As we neared the site we started to feel a few spits of rain – so we put the scooters in Betty straight away and Nigel sat under the awning doing a bit of blog work while I had a little siesta – this holiday lark sure can take it out of you.

The threatening rain came about half an hour later – heavens opened for about five minutes then it petered out – few more odd spits but the tarmac was starting to look dry before we had our ham, egg and chips meal (salads are off until it warms up again).

The first evening we have spent inside this trip. Bit of TV – and Nigel is still typing – only with 2 fingers though.

Thursday 9th August 2018

Time to go home – so while I slave over making breakfast and getting everything inside stowed away Nigel does all the outside stuff and finishes off the Blog.