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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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– 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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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,

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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)

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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.

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

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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

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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

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

 

and along the quaintly named De Vaux Place.

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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.

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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 –

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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.

 

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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.

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Through Kingsgate from the other side.

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We had our lunch at the gardens again

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(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.

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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.

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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.

Brassknocker Basin

Friday 14th June 2019

We were in two minds about actually going to the Caravan and Motorhome (Wiltshire Centre) Rally this weekend. The rain overnight had worried us a bit – parking our five tonne unit on a soggy field has that effect.

We had chosen this Rally for its location near Bath and because there is easy access to a Canal towpath as well as a cycleway, but as it’s not far from home we decided to check it out beforehand. A quick visit in the car and a walk around the field may appear to be over the top but after our experience in Bakewell we felt it was the right thing to do.

We agreed to risk it so after a quick lunch we set forth in Voyager. When we arrived at the site we found a nice gathering of both Caravans and Motorhomes all nicely pitched up. The marshal’s gave us several options for where to pitch up. We chose one near the hardcore path at the side of the field – just in case there was more rain to come.

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We got set up then after doing the financial stuff had a bit of a trundle around the field finding the water and Elsan points then checked the route to the canal tow path. All the people we met were very friendly and welcoming so we had great hopes for a good weekend.

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One told us that there would be a steam train passing on the line next to the Rally field on Sunday morning. We do love steam trains. Only diesels today though.

brasskn 1

Saturday 15th June 2019

We met a nice couple last evening and joined them at the social Brunch at 11.00. Four gazebos had been setup together to give some shelter but the rain held off – in fact there were a few lengthy sunny periods. We had a lovely time chatting and laughing and the food was OK as well (only SW stuff for us though).

After getting things together we went for a trundle – our first thought was to explore the Two Tunnels Greenway (NCN244) but we encountered a path which was too narrow for us on NCN24. A shame but maybe next time we will find a way around it (a later explore of Google maps suggested there might be a detour available) but for today we opted to head to the Canal and explore the tow path toward Bath.

We explored the Dundas Aqueduct and watched a group of novice boaters dressed as pirates make a spectacularly inept attempt to steer around the corner. Good job narrowboats are resilient and not easily dented.

Dundas aq 2

Dundas aq 4

We crossed over a couple of bridges

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and carried on the path for a couple of miles,

enjoying the sun as we passed many moored boats. Some were well maintained but quite a few looked more like storage areas for assorted collectables (junk).

We saw a sign for Claverton Pumping Station saying it was open today – so detoured and spent a good hour getting a tour of it.

Pumphs 1

We had a lovely man tell us how it worked along with all the technical stuff about it – most went over my head but it was very impressive watching the water powered wheel moving the big beam pump. I must say that those engineers in the early 1800’s got in early with the environmentally friendly design – using the power of the river Avon to pump water from it up nearly 50ft to the Kennet and Avon Canal. Using no fuel and making no waste.

Later, after returning to Voyager and having some food we had another social event in the gazebos – a quiz night with Bingo. It turned out to be lovely – games and more chatting along with a little drink (bring your own) and cheese toasties as well – this is more like what we are looking for in a Rally.

Back to Voyager about 10.00 (just as the rain started hammering down).

Sunday 16th June 2019

Well the steam train did pass by this morning but I missed it. I didn’t get a lot of sleep mostly because starting about 1AM a team of rail workers were doing their night shift track maintenance on the bit next to our field – banging, shouting and laughing all illuminated by floodlights went on until 5.30. Nigel (who could sleep on a washing line) tossed and turned a bit but mostly slept through it.

Today is the last of the Rally so we attended the final meeting (called Flag) – the Chairman thanked the Marshals and we were welcomed (officially) and announcements about upcoming events etc. Then it was back to Voyager, get all packed up and set forth to our overnight stop.

A layby on the way for our lunch then on to Cheddar Mendip Heights C&CC site.

So electric hook up to fully recharge the 2G’s and a disabled shower facility as well.

 

Monday 17th June 2019

Moving on today – but first a good shower and clean of the van. Then we are off. A stop on route at Morrisons Bridgewater to top up the fridge and pantry.

A layby on the A39 was our chosen venue for a little tapas. It was lovely to sit in the warm and eat lunch.

We arrived at the Minehead Caravan & Motorhome Club site about three. It is slightly unusual with no one way system. Nigel managed to overshoot our turning and had to reverse about 50 yards on the narrow road (he is getting better at it though). When we eventually found our pitch we did the basics (positioning Betty and levelling Voyager). While Nigel did the outside stuff I tried to get a little snooze – should have known better really – the doors opening and closing as Nigel fitted the silver screen etc. and then he thought he would get his book for a quiet read. Trouble was when he opened the cupboard it was in other things fell out – onto my head.

So we went into town – finding a route on Google maps – before getting the call from my Brother saying the family had arrived at Butlins. We planned to meet them there later, but didn’t realise that visitors can only get in between 10am & 6pm and as it was 5.30 we decided it was best that they meet us at the gate and we had a short catch up and stroll on the prom.

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We agreed to make a day of it tomorrow and after a bit of a chin wag we headed back to Voyager.

I made a lovely dinner of fillet steak, homemade chips (SW way) with mushrooms – I’ve mastered the cooking in the limited kitchen a little too well as I’m not getting taken out enough now.

Exmouth & Budleigh Salterton

Thursday 30th May 2019

Well today we are venturing off to Devon for a long weekend. Last week the weather forecast said these four days would all be sunny and warm – but by the time we left they had amended it to mostly cloudy with some showers. I think we will rename them the ‘Works of Fiction’ (as another blogger we follow – thanks Eric).

Exmouth is the place we selected – on a campsite a little way out of town with the slightly odd name of Prattshayes –   it was a very friendly old farm. We booked a large touring pitch with electric which turned out to have water as well. The main attraction for us was not only the location but that the large barn is now a bar/club house (called the ‘Cow Shed’) where we could socialise with some of our neighbours.

There are a good couple of fields with a mixture of Motorhomes, Campervans and Caravans as well as many tents of varying sizes. The facilities are reasonable (going to be refurbished this season apparently) and the wardens are very friendly and helpful.

After getting pitched up we set forth on the 2Gs to the nearby village of Littleham where we found a couple of Pubs and the pretty Tythe Cottage Restaurant – lovely looking with a thatched roof.

LHam rest

I’ve been promised a meal out this trip and so far this looked favourite.

We trundled on to the Sandy Bay Haven Holiday Park which has a public footpath running through it which joins the South West Coast Path. We explored a small section of it and took some lovely pics of the cliffs below.

We did consider going a bit further but had been advised there were a couple of kissing gates (a showstopper for us) so returned to site using the pavements and lanes.

LHam boat

After our meal we spent a lovely evening in the Cow Shed having a drink and watching the kids running around having fun.

cowshed slf

Friday 31st May 2019

It rained a bit overnight and stayed very cloudy this morning with a very chilly wind – not what we were hoping for – but you have to go with what you get so after breakfast we set off for a trundle to Exmouth town.

After about a mile we were by the beach on Queens Drive and there were a few hardy souls braving it on the sand.

We progressed toward the town proper diverting off the prom following signs to Manor Gardens – it’s good to see some flowers. It turned out to be a pretty small park but worth a few minutes.

exmth twn 1exmth twn 3

On to the centre where we found the usual stores as well a few independents but nothing exceptional. We explored a few of the back streets looking for any interesting architecture – a nice church but nothing else jumped out.

exmth twn 2

After an hour or so we decided to call it a day – may have been better had we not been so cold. So we just trundled back the way we came – got back to a nice warm Voyager. Had a nice lunch and a short siesta.

About three o’clock we noticed the clouds were clearing and the sun streaming in but it was still windy – we decided just to chill out.

Saturday 1st June 2019

Sunshine with just a few wispy clouds – now that’s more like it. I made a packed lunch while Nigel did the outside chores then we were off.

site v slf 2
Our friendly neighbour took a snap of us – and a floating Voyager

Goggle maps had shown a section of NCN 2 between North Littleham and the edge of Budleigh Salterton and we love cycle ways (especially old train lines because they are pretty flat). The path itself was mostly tarmac and had occasional views through the trees as well as some lovely flowers and bushes.

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Some old bridges and odd brickwork where the only remnants from the line that closed in March 1967 (Beeching again).

RW ln 3

At the end of the line we had another mile to get into town along good pavements. We had a look at the shops and then followed the signs to the beach.

We found an empty spot where we stopped and had our lunch with a lovely sea view an almost cloudless sky and the sun beating down on us – lovely.

Then a further exploration along the prom

before going back along the High Street, getting a few things in the Co-Op and a rather overpriced ice-cream before heading back to Voyager.

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View from opposite the start of the cycleway – back to the coast

We had a little rest then it was into my posh frock, Nigel his suit and off for a too rare night out. We had decided on the thatched restaurant and trundled off down the lane.

I’ve been so looking forward to a meal I didn’t have to cook myself but thought I’d play safe and just have fish and chips – Nigel opted for the Steak & Ale pie. Freshly cooked to order the menu said but we were both disappointed with what we received – freshly cooked oven chips and fish you get in a box from the freezer. Any ale in the pie had evaporated with no hint it was ever there. I think we will be finding a good Fish & Chip shop on our next trip.

We stopped in at the Cow Shed bar on the way back to Voyager – a couple of spritzer’s took the edge off my disappointment.

 

Sunday 2nd June 2019

A restful start to the day today – due to the heavy showers. Typical British weather one nice day several bad.

After lunch we decided to just go for it so set off to Exmouth town. It was dry but still very windy and as we descended the hill to sea level we could see that the kite surfers where making good use of it. It was good to see but I don’t think I would have been brave enough to try it even when I was young and fit.

We progressed and found a convenience store where we bought ready meals for our evening meal (I was still feeling disappointed by yesterday’s fiasco and didn’t feel like cooking!)

We checked out a few things we had missed the other day before starting the return journey. On the way the heavens opened and even though we had put on our emergency ponchos we both got absolutely soaked. Back at Voyager we hung our coats in the bathroom and put our jeans around the heater (our airing cupboard). In warm dry cloths with the heating turned up we just chilled for the rest of the day.

Monday 3rd June 2019

Homeward bound today and guess what – the weather is glorious – Typical!

Bakewell 0 – Castleton 1

Sunday 5th May 2019

Bakewell was our 2nd C&CC rally and we have found the social aspect of both to be non-existent – it may be some time before we try another. So today we made the decision to move on.

We tried but couldn’t find a site that wasn’t fully booked (Bank Holiday I guess) so I had resigned myself to staying on the boggy show ground field for another night but my clever husband rang our next site at Castleton to see if we could arrive a day early. They said they had only one narrow pitch available – we jumped at it.

As we had been using our LPG for heating, cooking and running the fridge freezer for the last couple of days we checked our levels and decided we needed to top up on the way. This meant a rather big detour to a Shell garage near Derby but better to be safe than sorry we thought. It’s a good job we did as it turned out – we put in 36ltrs of gas (42ltr tank) so were pretty near empty.

We had a late lunch in a lay by and arrived at the C&MC Castleton site at about 4.00. They were very friendly and we found that (due to someone breaking down) a full sized pitch had become available for our now 4 night stay, so we wouldn’t have to move when pitched.

We did a quick trundle around the site picking up a few things in the Information Room before I let Nigel loose on our evening meal.

He does a pretty good job on a one-pot-wonder and after the washing up we just chilled and watched TV (happy to be on hookup again) before settling in for a good night’s sleep.

Monday 6th May 2019 (Bank Holiday)

The weather forecast warned of sharp showers from lunchtime so another early start (leaving the outside chores until our return later).

We trundled the half mile or so into the village of Castleton, stopped briefly at the little general store for a few postcards –the local pork sausages looked so good Nigel couldn’t resist –so that’s tomorrows breakfast sorted.

Onwards on the rather narrow pavement passed old cottages and a couple of pubs and Hotels. There were a lot of walkers/ramblers all with stout walking shoes and some with sticks heading in various directions – some toward the Castle others to Mam Tor –

we could see both but even though the Castle is maintained by English Heritage it’s only accessible on foot and you’re pretty fit. It was a struggle on the 2G’s to even get to the Visitors Centre but Nigel did – just to get a fridge magnet.

We explored the rest of the village finding the ‘Emporium’ (Antiques / junk) in what was originally the Rope Makers cottage and workshop.

Various other artisan shops for Jewellery and silk goods as well as the ‘Best Fish & Chip Shop’ – all were closed – for the Bank Holiday presumably.

There is a lovely brook running through the village which afforded some nice pics.

All too soon the clouds started to build and the cold started getting to us as well. We opted to get some fresh bread and return to Voyager for a warming bowl of soup – which we ate to the sound of drumming rain and hail on the roof.

Between showers Nigel emptied the grey and refilled the fresh tanks and dealt with the Toilet cassette. Now some Bloggers and You-Tubers seem to get away with emptying their cassettes twice a week – it must be all the medications we take that means we have to empty daily. That and Nigel refusing to pee in a bottle – unless he’s in hospital he says.

The rest of the day was relaxing – TV reading etc.

Tuesday 7th May 2019

The weather has improved (doesn’t it always seem to after a Bank Holiday) so today we are off to visit Chatsworth House and Garden. On the way we did another shop at Morrisons in Chesterfield – it took a bit longer than normal as we were not familiar with the layout.

Then as we left their car park Nigel noticed a warning light on the dash board. It was orange and in the shape of a bulb. We pulled over & Nigel jumped out to check the exterior lights were all working. They seemed to be so we pushed on. When we were parked up in Chatsworth Car Park (no cost for Blue Badge users – bonus) Nigel got out the laptop & looked up the lights meaning in the Fiat manual – basically an exterior light –  so we checked again and still couldn’t find any failure.

I sorted a quick sandwich for lunch while Nigel got the 2G’s out and ready for our exploration of the gardens.

We headed to the house first (not sure how much we would be able to see) and were met at the ornate gate by a couple of volunteers. We parked up our scooters behind their hut and borrowed a wheelchair for the house. Nigel pushed me up the fair incline to the entrance and in to the pay desk. No reduction for disabled or carer here – but we were quickly told that with use of the lift we could see the entire house (all 4 floors) the same as able bodied people so paying full price seems fair.

All the rooms and collections are very impressive and the guides in each of them are more than happy to pass on addition odd facts – I won’t spoil it for you but if you visit pay particular attention to the violin in the music room.

After the house we did the gardens (quick return of the wheelchair & pickup of the 2G’s first)  – very large with

a gravity fed cascade as well as statues,

Selfie 1

flowers,

trees,

a maze

maze 1

and a rockery bigger than most houses with a wonderful waterfall feature.

rockery 1rockery 2

There is something of interest around every corner – truly amazingly breath-taking.

A wonderful day – and loads of photos and video taken.

Back to Voyager – drive back to site – get pitched up again – outside chores for Nigel while I sorted our meal.

Unload all the cameras to the laptops – and a quick scroll through the pics we took – looks good for a nice video on our YouTube channel as well as here.

TV & bed.

Wednesday 8th May 2019

Rain all day – so a total chill day with diary stuff for me and a bit of video work for Nigel – well a start anyway.

Thursday 9th May 2019

Our data expired on the 3 network SIM in the MiFi – Nigel thought we had another somewhere but we couldn’t find it anywhere. So just mobile data on our phones until we get another one.

That’s OK as its return home today – my next Dental appointment looms – as well as a pile of washing, then ironing and a bit of sewing on the fitted bedsheets so they fit better.

Oh and Nigel’s little grey cells had been pondering on our warning light issue and suddenly realised that he hadn’t checked the number plate lights –  and one of them was out. Now both replaced with LED ones from EBAY.