1099-1047: The Length Of Britain … Almost

 Over the last 2 months we’ve been very busy … met lots of friends on travels and spent time with family.  We’ve travelled a fair bit:

  • North Devon – twice
  • The Lakes
  • Inverness
  • Farnham, our home from home
  • Bristol
  • Urchfont, Wiltshire

Bristol:  10th – 18th June 2018

We had intended to take a few days wilding, but after loading and cleaning as we left the Aged P’s we felt a bit shattered … we came onto Bristol and got in early than booked at Newhouse Farm CL in Aust that we’ve used before – £12 pn.  Gentle views over the S Gloucester countryside, close to the Severn Bridge that J likes to run over (it was his lunch time run when working at the bridges), good dog walking and close to friends.

Supper in Bristol with friends from our erstwhile wine appreciation society – a group of ‘old socks’ – sorry, ‘old soaks’ wearing old socks!  K met with Thelma – ex-colleague from Cotham School……Stephen and Kay came to lunch at Newhouse Farm CL.

A trip to Bristol Caravans, who have picked up the warranty work after our supplying dealer went broke, to check out the hab door and a small area of floor vinyl de-lamination.

We woke this morning to strong winds. The awning is pitched on very HARD hardstanding, so the pegs were not fully home.  We looked out of the hab door this morning only to discover the awning had largely walked 2 foot to the left.  Clothes on double quick, mallet in hand and storm guys deployed. Fortunately the rain in the night has softened the ground a little so the pegs went in … hope they stay in.

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Storm straps on.

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Our view.

Our little buggers have been exiting the awning under the van … well Oscar … he comes out  to find K.  We’d bought a caravan skirt and fixed it to the van using a Kampa Limpit system.  However, the Limpits don’t stay on.  The question was posed on the wild camping.co.uk forum, and one suggestion was a cheap airbed.  This worked initially keeping them from exiting under the van, but Oscar has now taught Corrie to escape through the sides where the awning has a flappy return to the side.  Currently the pilates mats are ineffectively blocking this exit point.  Suggestions?   The little buggers also managed to switch on the radio (again) and the hazard warning lights when we were out last night.  Oh, and they found their way into the spare sack of dog food this morning … I had to come back for more poo bags on the early walk!

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The air bed barrage. Now being head butted out of the way!

 
We walked on the Prostate Cancer march at Blaise Castle – thanks to all our friends and family, we raised a shedload of ‘smakaroonies’. It affects 1 in 8 men in the UK (official figures – many more unrecorded). 
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Exmoor:  19th – 21st June -2018
 
To Exmoor – meeting with Lin and Bo – Lin gave us generous and invaluable advice whilst we journeyed in Greece and Crete … K had an oft repeated refrain “Lin says ..” – many thanks for that and supper!  Next day we moved a short distance to a farm CL – we were the only occupiers!  Walking lots and instantly fell in love with this gorgeous area – potential home purchase? more anon….. 
 
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Views of a walk down the valley from Exmoor to Porlock.
 
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 Coming into Porlock. 

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Walk along sea marshes to Porlock Weir followed by a pub lunch.

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Farnham:  22nd-  June 2018:  Back at Coxbridge Farm in Farnham
 
Between various eye, ear and sundry appointments, we managed a few meals with family and some friends … even managed to get camping adverse Caroline overnighting in our drop down bed … result.
 
Our Palace … and we still haven’t sorted the Hoodini dogs!  

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J purchased new back up running shoes.   They are getting some serious use with all running he is now doing. It’ll be matching lycra next!

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 Naming no names … someone had a pootiful flushing time at work – a sh***y story! 

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Two of my siblings, Michael and Amelia flew from Dublin to dine with us at Danniellie’s Sicilian restaurant – with Sinead and Shane!  A proper family affair!   Just a shame their flight was 2.5 hrs late … K who was doing the airport run was OK as she went back to the car to read … they spent a large chunk of it in the plane and on the runway!  Air Ryan!!!  

Just on siblings, did you know the word for nieces and nephews is nibblings?

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J ran into Farnham the next morning for a quick hello and goodbye with Amelia.

 Ambleside:  30th June – 5th July – 2018

‘Jezzed’ up to Cumbria (favourite place in England – but north Devon is catching up). Camping and Caravan Club walking meet – about 40 motorhomes and caravans.   This C&CC special interest group is called MAS Mountain Activity Section; we have been assured that is actually a walking and cycling group, no crampons required.    
 
I managed one 7-miler with the walking group, with assistance from ice cream! We did shorter walks another couple of days.  In total 4 walks and 3 different lake swims.  And once you got on a walk you lost the crowds who seem to congregate in and near the towns.  Now K doesn’t like shopping unless it is for camping or outdoor clothes and the sales were on.  I rested in a bar whilst K speed shopped.  We both came away with tops and shirts and a walking skirt (for K!).

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Amazing wild flowers near Windermere.

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The MAS group allowing the cool breeze to dry us out after a steep and long hill climb.  Either that or doing an Angel of the North impression.

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View from the top.  The rugby club, our campsite, is down there.

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Half the stones were washed away a few years ago.

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Elopement anyone?  The only elopement we know of was Delia, one of J’s sisters, who married Liam in Gretna Green. Not because the family would have objected to her choice in man, but she doesn’t like fuss.

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Rydal Water one of our shorter walks.  A swim followed by lunch and a nap.

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Doggy run up only at the C&CC temporary site.  Right next to the posts!

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Overlooking Thirlmere Lake.  Same formula … walk, swim, eat and sleep. 

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Bus into Keswick.  A first for Corrie.

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Walking part way around Derwent Water.  No swim today.

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Goodness knows how Corrie found mud with all this dry weather.

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Wonder what it’s worth?  Although probably many of the coins are now out of circulation.

Stunning Scotland Meeting Friends:  6th – 10th June 2018
 
Cumbria to Scotland – we’re getting around!  Met Dan ‘the man’ on the shores of Loch Lomond for food and chats……  Thanks, Dan for the advice on visiting Sardinia – sometime…
 
On northwards to Brin near Inverness for the next motorhome meet – hosted by lovely Margaret and Angus. Old friends and new – lots of good food and vino. And another loch swim for K.  Saturday night – Emma played the Scottish Harp beautifully. New arrival Jim produced his guitar and said he hadn’t played for years…  He subsequently played like Bob Dylan!  I strummed some background chords….   We all had some sharpshooting practice…..in my youth, my father took my air gun away after neighbours complained that their chimney pots were mysteriously disappearing……. (This was in Hazel Hill Amelia.)  
 
South to see Margaret and Shirley’s new apartment in Melrose – luxury – and huge spaciousness……they gave us a lovely supper too despite only just being moved in – thanks, ladies…
 
Journey from hell to get down to Farnham on 10th June.  90 min delay on M6 so a detour via Leeds to the M1.  Having been so wowed by Margaret and Shirley’s new apartment and mellow Melrose, we could have considered the Borders as a potential house purchase.  10 hours driving was no joke.

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Short Stay in Farnham:  11th-13th July  2018
 
Simon came to visit for the day – we drove to Ash Vale and he and I ran 4 miles along the Basingstoke canal – when did we last run together – xx years ago – maybe Swindon cross-country when he was 13??   Wow!  He’s running well and I’m fitter than I have been for 2+ years….. Lunch at Jez and Simon returned to London by train. He and Ai  are off to Hungary for a dragon boat racing international.
 
The following day, we had a “Persian Bbq with the Baker gang, 9 of us in the awning!  Quite a hoot with the teens and 20’s bringing us up to speed with what ‘doing bits’ means.
 
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House Hunting in N Devon:  14th – 18th July 2018
 
Having sold Acer Crescent, we’re on the trail of a home in north Devon, having fallen in love with the area!  12 houses to view in 3 days – quite a schedule…  after a second viewing in Coombe Martin – no contest – Tithe Barn House it will be – offer accepted – Yippee!!!  The main house dates back to 1500s – time of Marlowe, his employee Shakespeare and good Queen Bess…. 
 
While I rested my bones, K walked along Woolacombe and Westward Ho beaches.  We both walked up around Ilfracombe, and fell into a bar until we realised the car park ticket was about to expire!  OK, the sun is shining beautifully, but even in winter the place will be gorgeous – family and friends are welcome – youze can dress in Elizabethan style if you wish – I will dust off my codpiece!  EBay for a chastity belt for K? 

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Walk from Ilfracombe.

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Looking down to Ilfracombe.

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Resting whilst listening to a band.

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View from the bar!

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Woolacombe beach goes on and on.

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Our New House!

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Ours in the far part of the semi.

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OSCAR and CORRIE’S DIARY

Oscar here, fellow campers!  How about this, then?  I have owned my pets for 2 golden years!  They are still a work in progress but coming along nicely…..  I remember the day they came to fetch me in Solihull (August 2016).  Since then, I’ve dragged them around Europe – including Greece – where Corrie found us in Ancient Corinth. Now, I have 3 pets to train – but I’m Spaniel enough for that!  Mind you, Corrie almost threw a Spaniel in the works – James and Katherine always said there would only be 1 dog in the family!  But she’s really ok and well-mannered – she even follows me when I bash my way out of the awning (regularly) – they don’t call me Oscar Houdini for nothing…  Here’s to the next 20 years – James is lasting well for a bloke in his eighth decade!  K is a young posh potty, anyway….   Corrie is only a little ‘chiseler’……

Corrie here, pets….. the above whippersnapper thinks he’s a gifted Lothario in charge of everything….  He doesn’t even get a sniff – well, maybe a quick bumsniff – nothing else – I’m saving my self for Mr Right……perhaps Mr Geek, no, Greek.  Now, I need to do some training – otherwise things get a bit sloppy around here!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1068-1098: Where Time Gone?

 We are both doing the Prostate UK March on Sunday 17th June in Bristol.  If you have a few spare pennies, please do sponsor one of us.

https://tinyurl.com/jamesprostatefundraising

https://tinyurl.com/katherineprostatefundraising

There is just a small amount of rivraly as to whom will raise the most!

Thank you.


1068-1074 – Wednesday 10th – Wednesday 16th May 2018:  A Mini Trip to Scotland

Drive to Scotland.  Overnight near Moffat at National Trust Grey Mere’s Tail car park.  A little damp so no stars.  Scenic walk up the stream to the lake the next day and J watched ospreys in a nest through the ranger’s telescope.  Joined the SNT, as cheaper than England and as we will be in the UK for a bit …

We spent the night on the coast west of Edinburgh by Blackness Castle.  In the morning, just as I was getting dressed we heard the fish van arrive.  A scramble into clothes, hair awry, and fish cakes, trout and sea bass purchased.

We spent 5 nights in a lovely campsite in Roslin, famous for the chapel that features in the the Da Vinci Code.  Very good friends Margaret, Shirley and pooches were on the neighbouring CL, so we walked lots and dined with them several times.  We also got to meet two sons and wives; lovely to see Chris and Mary who’d we had such frolics with two Christmases ago in Lagos.

Coincidentally my very good friend Kerstin the Kraut (actually she is a Professor Frau Doctor Doctor – you know how the Germans love titles!) flew into Edinburgh on their way to Plockton, so she and her mother came to supper.  She is completely mad … I’ve agreed to do a  Rhein swim with her in November!!!  That makes me mad too.  And she is spend 3 weeks this summer cramped up in a boat sailing from the Azores to Norway with strangers and having to work … and she is paying for the privilege!

It was a social time as Meg, from whom we bought the awning popped in too.  We had managed to get it up, after some head scratching and a few expletives …. I reckon myself to be an expert tent erector!  A founding member of the Girlie Camping Errection Committee!  Finally worked our that the side adjacent to the van should be higher!

We stayed an extra night here, as the weather was so good, the site so chilled and quiet and the walking from the site excellent.  Each day we managed to do a different off road walk.  We’d not explored this area of the Borders before, although I lived in Edinburgh for a 6 months ages ago, but we really liked it.

We found a lay-by just west of Birmingham for our overnight and wandered into the local pub.  A real locals pub with old fashioned pub fare.  I asked what red was available and was offered a tasting, YUK.  So I tried the other red, double YUK.  The locals were all on ale.  J managed to drink the least offensive of the two, I managed 3 large gins!  One of which was Gordon’s summer Pink Gin with strawberry and raspberry … pleasant but more suited to a summers lunchtime.  Pink gin to me is with angostura bitters … but I am a publican’s granddaughter!

We nipped into a caravan supplies place just south of Birmingham to purchase some more bits for our new-to-us awning, such as connecting to van bits, a hanging shelving unit, pegs, shorter EHU cable etc.  We have certainly spent more on awning equipment than on the actual awning, but we loved the extra space, especially for entertaining.  Three of the sides unzip, so we get a breeze but the dogs are contained.

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Grey Mere’s Tail overnight car park.

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The Grey Mere’s Tail waterfall.

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The lake at the top.

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Blackness Castle.

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Great view of the Forth Bridges.

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Oscar wisely getting out of the way.  Neither Margaret, Shirley or I attempted this. 

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One of the walks from the campsite was along the river that had formally been the home of a large gunpowder factory.

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Post walk snuggle.

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Roslin Castle.

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And we hit bluebell time, just lovely.

 

1075-1098 Thursday 17th May – Saturday 9th June:  Sorting Out Stuff

Back at Coxbridge Farm CL and awning up until 3rd June.  This site really is our home from home.  We chat to people coming to nurture their horses and some of the other regulars.  During this time we did a little socialising but mostly sorting … inside all the van cupboards and the Aged P’s attic.

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Our pitch at Coxbridge …

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… with extra space … 

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… that the dogs think is their play room!!!

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New nick knacks and shoe hanging.

I did a trip overnight to Brighton with Maddy … loaded with cleaning fluids and my rubber gloves.  She and Kitty, the flat mate and friend, had a flat inspection.  Kitty had a university paper to finish, so Maddy and I set to.  Maddy eventually declared that she was not really designed for cleaning, so I set to!  We passed with flying colours!  By the time I’d paid for a couple of meals, the cleaning stuffs, a belated B’day jacket and was persuaded to buy a new handbag and trousers, it was a rather expensive, as well as tiring weekend.

I headed off solo the following weekend too.  For over 30 years we’ve had Girlie Camping weekends. However, Gill doesn’t ‘do’ canvas and all my kit is in store (was offered loans, but feeling soft), so Gill found a stunning barn conversion near Winchester.  We raised a glass to Nicky, whose birthday it would have been on the Friday we met.  We nattered and hooted.  Walk and pub lunch.  Ate royally … Greek, Turkish, Persian and good old English for a breaky.  Gill introduced me to Negroni … equal parts of Campari, Gin and Sweet Martini … I managed 3!  I missed it, but the rather sexy host entertained Gill and Bron, by walking outside wrapped in nothing but a towel, apparently the house shower was broken and there was one in another barn.  

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Bron, Gill and Al in Winchester.

For both my trips, J stayed at home.  One of his daughter’s and partner popped over for a BBQ, but I left him at home with the dogs to walk and more cleaning stuffs! 

Medical news.  James had had two scans to judge if the prostate cancer had spread … we saw the consultant on the 18th.  Really good news … it has spread but is contained to the prostate and the consultant said twice that he was going for a cure.  James has been on hormone tablets since   and will be on injections as of tomorrow.  So far the only side effect has been deep seated fatigue, but we expect more side effects with the injections.  We attended a Prostate local superb talk about how hormones can increase fat around organs and reduce muscles … we are already on a mostly Mediterranean diet :), James has upped his running, resistance bands purchased and the 2nd pilates mat out of attic.  

We’ve also both had dental check ups, sorted out online repeat prescriptions and the car passed its MOT.  The dogs have been to my say-it-how-it-is vet and got a clean bill of health. I even got my first ever GOOD on the state of their teeth!  

Just a word of warning for dog owners.  The UK mandates that rabies jabs should be every 3 years, the rest of Europe is annually.  Whilst in Crete both dogs had bloods sent off to the national laboratory for their Titer Test.  Corrie has the requisite antibodies.  Oscar did not!  His UK rabies jab is valid until 2019, but actually with no antibodies, so I guess he is not protected.    This may only affect anyone wanting to take their pets to High Rabies countries.

A little socialising ….  James bumped into Caroline and Terry at the running club … later I joined Caroline with two old school friends mums of Maddys, that I used to know quite well … 12 years ago.  We trained up to London to see J’s eldest who was in London form Doha for a few days.  Whilst walking on the South Bank, two extremely handsome young ladies fell on Corrie … they were Greek and recognised her instantly as a Greek dog.  A BBQ with my sister, cooked by her 18 year old son … one of his life skills sorted!

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Corrie’s first trip to the old smoke.  Oscar had been as far as Ealing before.

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Simon.  Family resemblance?

We’ve had some issues with Jez.  On our return trip from Greece the indicators were flashing fast.  On our decent from Scotland they stopped working altogether.  We drove to Fiat Southampton … they worked for them so nothing to fix, and fortunately Fiat did not charge us.  We took in a National Trust property on the way home and then … the indicators stopped working again!  We booked Jez in again.  In the meantime, a mechanic on the Farm where we stay called in his auto electrician.  £60 diagnosis that the indicator relay was not working …. but not able to fix it!  Fiat disagreed with the diagnosis, it was something in the EMU … fixed.  Here we go again then …. they stopped 5 mins from home.  Fiat wanted the van for up to a week … if it was the computer, and worst case, if it had to come from Italy, it would take a week on the slow boat via China!  Mum, Dad …can we stay with you?   

We stayed in Eastbourne for two nights to attend a very dear family friend’s funeral on Monday 4th June.  Gladys was 95 and ready to go; the lunch after was pleasant with her long term cleaner and two cousins.  At 95, and having been unmarried, there were not many friends left.  On the Tuesday we dropped the van into Southampton and then moved in with Aged P’s.  We’d already emptied the freezer and fridge, plus dropped off car loads of stuff … we weren’t sure how long Fiat would keep Jez. We went to the cinema, I went to RHS Wisley with Mum.  Far too much booze with suppers, but we did manage one dry night!

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Beautiful sunny Eastbourne afternoon.

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The funeral suit came down from the Aged P’s attic … first time in a tie for over 3.5 years.  There’s a wedding suit up there too … any takers?

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RHS Wisley.

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J collected the van on Friday.  All sorted – poorly positioned wires under the chasis during Adria build which had eroded and caused short circuiting.  Adria agreed to cover the cost instantly … I had thought we may have to pay Fiat for the investigation labour and then move Jez to an Adria service centre.

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The broken wires.

So Saturday 9th June saw us back on the road again in Jez.  Very happy to be so.  It is good to have the comfort of a house, but we kept loosing things as it is too big and far too much to clean!

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 Kongs all lined up, waiting to be filled with dog food and frozen.

 

 

 

1055-1067: The BIG Drive Home

1055 – Thursday 26th April 2018:  Birthday 2 and  Still Rear Air Suspension

We spent the night outside the Adria Athens compound, as the fearsome Rottweiler roamed inside at night.  We had an electric cable thrown over the wall, but the Austrians waiting to have some work done weren’t offered that … were we receiving special treatment?.  It took the best part of this second day to complete the work.    As it was J’s birthday, he had wine in the local cafe.  We also caught the tail end of the local market where I bought a huge plastic washing up bowl for EUR1.50 and lots of olive oil to bring home.

In the afternoon we drove to just west of Patras – Diakopto on the harbour side.  We walked to a restaurant … not as smart as I’d hoped for a birthday, one of those where you’re taken into the kitchen to choose your meal from trays.  Tasty but no starters other than baked cheese.

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Birthday wine for one … all of EUR1.5 🙂

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Marco, our lovely mechanic who was rather taken with Oscar.

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Birthday boy in a birthdays T-shirt.

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Great spot in Diakopto.

1056 – Friday 27th April:  Back to Italy

We had a leisurely start and then to Patras for our overnight crossing to Ancona in Italy.  We did do a small detour to a winery to pick up a case of MavroDaphne … not for drinking, of course, but used in a pork and prunes dish.

We’d been warned to expect serious security checks leaving Greece … but they checked the inside of the van with a cursory glance.  There were a LOT of security guards all around the car parks before entering the port, and there were about 20 or so youths who were lurking in the hope of being stowaways.  We did watch one lad being chased by 3 security cars as he tried to leg it, having climbed the fence. Sad.

It is a small world, we bumped into a German couple who we’d met on the campsite when we first arrived in Crete.  They were amazed how much Corrie had grown … we knew she had a bit, but not really clocked it until they said.  She’s obviously younger than we thought.  Wonder how much more growing she has to do?!

The dogs got to poop the poop deck again … eventually.  For some reason they are quite hesitant about not doing their business on earth.

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Cabin japes!

1057 – Saturday 28th April:  Driving

A calm, if long crossing … 18 hours.  I stocked up on some Italian food, and mostly booze items, at the big Auchan and then it was on the road.  Overnight was a quiet aire in Forlimpopoli … it may be an interesting place, but we arrived late and set off early … I just like the name.

1058 – Sunday 29th April:  Big Drive to Tende

A very long day behind the wheel, especially as were were avoiding toll roads.  But we made it across to France.  Just over the border we stopped at a place called Tende.  I recognised it and realised we had caught a train up here on a Nice visit.  We wandered the town of lovely narrow streets, but I don’t remember this part … I think it was so cold when we were here before we fell into a bar.

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Tende.

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This isn’t, but it could be Corrie.  Not quite like the English Setters, but this pic is from a Greek breeder.  OK, so now we know Corrie is a large part Setter.

1059 – Monday 30th April:  Over the Hill to Biot

The drive down the mountain was ‘interesting’.  Fine for us in our big motorhome, except for all the other buggers!  We encountered the following, all coming up the pass, but on our side of the road … bikes, lorries, BMW group and Porsche convoy … throw in tight bends and being really low on fuel!  Coming down hills, I was free wheeling to conserve the diesel.  At a town, a local told us where to refill … thank goodness I asked, as it was not quite on our route and would have missed it.

We got parked up at the campsite we’ve used before, Parc des Maurettes and showered.  We met Sarah, Jade, Cian and S’s mum-in-law, Eileen in the nearby park … lovely for dog walking and hide and seek.  Later J and I cycled, towing CO2, up to Biot for supper and Jade was allowed to stay up for the BIG SURPRISE.  Such a big surprise, that she’d told James about his birthday cake at least 3 times … ssh, it’s a surprise!

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1060-1063 – Tuesday 1st May – Friday 4th May:  Up Through France

Farewell to Sarah & Co at the campsite … she had to pop over to pick up some of Cian’s clothes that were in my washing loads… what’s the point of having family, it you don’t abuse their machines!

Just 3 big driving days with stops in Chirens and Chamouilley … again we saw very little of either town, other than dog walks…. Chamouilley was a super pitch right beside a canal.  Wednesday evening saw us back at Bergues … an aire with no services that we’ve used a few times.

Having done the drive from the south of France in 3 days, we had a day in hand before our tunnel crossing.  So it was a late start, a run and a lunch out.

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Chamouilley.

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1064-1067 – Saturday 5th to Tuesday 9th May:  Back to Blighty

For once the sun shone on the M25 and there were only a few minor hold ups.  We are always struck by how congested, inhabited and just plain busy the S of England is.  Another thing we’ve found is that the consideration of other drivers is no better than France or Greece … Italy is another matter!  It doesn’t seem to matter if we are in the van or the car, other road users drive far too close and overtake when really they shouldn’t!  And I do not drive that slowly … honest!

Maddy popped over for supper on Saturday.

On Sunday, Sinead joined us for soup and a dog walk.  I watched the end of neice Zozo’s cricket match … for her to bowled out in minutes with 1 run … but they won by that very single run.  As an aside … cricket really IS dull to watch.  Then roast chicken supper with the Aged Ps, Zozo and Louis.

Monday saw us at sister Clare’s for a BBQ.  And in between, we’ve been making good use the Aged P’s washing machine, attic and shed!

On the medical front, J had scans 1 and 2 (MRI and CT).  With results and the consultant appointment not until 18th May, we decided to do a mini trip up to Scotland.

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Zozo modelling her prom dress …. wow!

1048-1054: Munchkin Visit and a Change of Direction

1048 – Thursday 19th April: Munchkin Arrives

We set off for Iraklio at 8.30, what an early start for us.  The hire car process was extremely simple … hand over EUR30, no hard sell or any sell for additional insurances and no walk around to note dents and scratches.  I didn’t worry about additional insurance as we have an annual hire car policy.  For that we had a 4 door Nissan Micra 52,000km on clock and suspension on the way out … but perfect for a day for us.

Being in a car, I was able to park in the airport carpark, see James to Departures (he was off back to Blighty for 2 nights) on the plane that brought Maddy Munchkin out to me.  We stopped for a late lunch in Sives, and then had and ice cream in Kalamaki, making good use of the car.  We deposited the car and ate again in the town.  This was a recommendation by one of the cave men, Jeremy, we’d met … he offered us a tour of his cave, but it felt a bit voyeuristic … anyway, the restaurant was un-prepossesing, but the food super.

1049 – Friday 20th April:  A Beach Day

Being a working girl, Maddy wanted a beach day … so we did.  Jeremy came to find us on the campsite and volunteered to join us for supper … we went back to the same place. And I paid 🤨

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1050 – Saturday 21st April:  James Returns

We had planned another beach day, but the wind was up.  Seriously up, every time we went near the beach, we were shot blasted, making it very uncomfortable.  We tidied up and left our free campsite in Matala.  With time on our hands we went to a ‘fake’ Cretan village which was really a hotel and then up to a small seaside village for coffees … not up to much.  Maddy had said she would like to stand in an olive grove … anyone that knows Crete, or Greece will know the landscape is predominantly olive groves!  I chucked and pointed out a few olive trees!  As J’s flight was due after 11.00 p.m., we headed out to supper.  Took a recommendation from a pharmacist and it was really good … Maddy raved about the pork belly.

 

1051-1052 – Sunday 22nd to Monday 23rd April: Chania/Hania

We had forgotten how the Greeks really do got out en famille en masse on Sunday … no chance of getting parked in Hania, so we headed for a campsite just west of the town, by a couple of sandy beaches.  The afternoon saw us basking again!

If you are ever in Crete, avoid Camping Hania!  It was built in the days of small tents only, so they planted lots of low olive trees for shade.  Great in principle, but hopeless for getting caravans or motorhomes in.  A few smaller vehicles managed to swing into a couple of pitches, but no way could we.  So we ended up parked up on the central road.  One water point only, right by the reception which meant we blocked the entrance.    And don’t expect a good night’s sleep … not one, but at least two cockerels from about 4.00 a.m.  I was not happy to pay EUR36 for the 3 of us per night anyway … and certainly not with rubbish sleep.  Decision to leave … We had to reverse all the way out :(, brushing the olive branches.  The owner was somewhat elderly … as I followed him into the reception to pay, he let rip a minor parp …. surely not?  Yes, it was as it was followed by a major long one!  He couldn’t get the card machine to work either!

We parked up by one of the beaches and slept, dozed … late p.m. M showered and we headed into Hania.  Our first choice carpark was unobtainable as two cars had had an ‘incident’ and were not moving their cars, as I guess they were waiting for the police.  We re-routed to choice number 2, but one of the access roads looked a little narrow, so choice Number 3 … a fee paying carpark, which was perfect, as no crowing cockerels overnight and walking distance into the old town and harbour.

Hania definitely has the wow factor.  Pretty narrow streets, a massive waterfront with restaurants and a harbour.  We had coffee, wine and supper … oooh and a super ice cream.  Seems strange to have a pizza on the last night in Crete, but that’s what M and J both wanted, and it was yummy, as was my chicken soup.

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Maddy seems to think that Corrie is hers!!  She became known as the accessory dog when M was wearing black and white.

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And no, she does NOT look like me … M takes after her father.

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1053 – Tuesday 24th:  All Aboard

Maddy caught her lunchtime flight back to Gatwick and we headed for the beach (again) for dog walking and demanding the van.  Our overnight Anek ferry left at 9.20 p.m. and the dogs got to poop in the poop deck again. Comfortable beds and a good strong and hot shower in our cabin. But all too early up, as it arrived at 6.00 a.m.

1054 – Wednesday 25th:  Birthday 1 and Rear Air Suspension

Happy Birthday Maddy Munchkin.  I am no longer the mother of a teen!

Off the ferry and into West Athens … back to Adria Athens to fit the rear air suspension … their second attempt … but we’ve booked the ferry from Patras to Ancona for Friday afternoon, just in case!

*** There is change of plan, cutting short this extended trip.  James needs to be back in the UK for tests and treatment.  We will keep blogging our trip home and when we do anything of interest whilst in the UK.

1041-1048: Oozing along the South East Coast

 1041 – Tuesday 10th April 2018:  Ierapetra

Vet needed for Corrie’s booster injections and rabies blood tests – so straight to Lerapetra to vet Michael and his team…..3.5 hours later all done and the vet missed his lunch, for the first time ever apparently!  But such a thorough examination: ears, teeth, paws skin etc.  Huge thanks to Michael and his team. 

We were starving by now – so where to go?  The answer was obvious – right across the street – “G-spot bar” with ‘playzone’!!! Not a “G spot” in sight and the plays were cards and board games ……  

An evening wander – buzzing town – and wild parking on a town street with a not noisy fairground nearby. 

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Ierapetra.

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Any Greek coastal town of any import has one of these …  A Venetian Fort.

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Napoleon spent one night here … according to the map and vague direction of the rusting sign … this is it!

1042 – Wednesday 11th April: Mirtos

Morning – I ran on a real running track for the first time in 2 years. Repetitions x6 – a 250 metre short track. If I put my fast laps together – it would be 4 minutes for a kilometre!  Quickest for several years…..  K shopped – lamb and sea bass – and wine from a shop/local vineyard.  K:  I had to send for reinforcements to carry it all back to Jez .. J deployed the trusty shopping trolley.

We kept meeting a ‘interesting’ Dutch/Norwegian lady whose Greek finance had died – she seemed very concerned that he’d died in the street with one show off.  She’d seen the police photos  She’s buying a house in nearby Mithi, uphill from here.

 

 

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Pyrgos Ancient mini site looking down to Mirtos.

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Mirtos:  very pretty but too twee.

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 Gourmet supper:  Parchment backed sea bass, with spinach drizzled with oil and garlic and Fava (a puree of split peas).

1043 – Thursday 12th April: Sarakinas Gorge & Gortys

In the afternoon, we drove to the Sarakinas Gorge for our overnight – completely secluded…… Early-ish morning, we set off to walk the Gorge – but after 20 minutes the way became too difficult for our doggos so we aborted. But we had a real flavour of the steep sides – a bit like the Syq in Petra…..

En route to our next destination (monuments to WW2 fallen), we encountered a small mountain town. The streets were narrow – ok, we’ve done this before – easily….the got more narrow – and cars blocked our way, completely. To make matters worse, 2 cars came towards us – more blockages. We had mistakenly drive the wrong way into a one-way street!  (K: to be fair, when I was shown the no entry sign it was flat against the wall so fairly invisible!) We scraped one side of Jez on foliage … hearing the nails on black board sound as we passed – and on the other side we broke a cars wing mirror!  Guess who was driving?  Moi!  K leaped out to spot – the people didn’t speak any English – and one man shouted at her – unusual in Crete….. others were very helpful.  20 minutes later, the 2 cars reversed – which they could have done much earlier and saved a lot of bother.  We scraped through and out of the town – huge sighs of relief – this was Castelbellissimo in Sicilia all over but just as stressful!!!  The joys of motor homing, indeed.

Quiet afternoon (K walked) and overnight parking in the car park of an ancient site at Gortys……much needed relaxing glass of vino or two …    

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Windscreen passenger.

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Start of Sarakinas Gorge walk.  Only possible when little or no rain.

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Really impressive high and narrow gorge.

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This is where we aborted as we’ve not taught the dogs to climb steps.  Oscar had already been scrabbling to get this far.

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A monument to one of the villages where men and boys were killed by the Germans in September 1943 as reprisals for resistance activities.  

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This monument was just outside Ano Viannos.  A huge number of names.  Very moving.

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Gortys:  A 1600 year old Olive tree; surreal as growing around Roman pillars.

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Gortys:  The Roman Temple of Apollo.  A lot of the rambling site is fenced but easy to wander around for free.  Gortys was a major city by 8BC and later co-operate with the invading Romans, so the city was not destroyed, but developed.  At one point it had a population of 300,000 and the provincial capital.

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My walk … The neighbouring village is Ayii Dheka, which means Holy Ten.  Ten Christians were martyred here in AD250, this is the tomb of 6 of them underneath a much newer church.  Christianity first reached Crete at Gortys.

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Ayii Dheka is really authentic … slightly tumble down with odd Roman pillars and stones lying around or having been used in more recent buildings.  The church is where the martyrs met their fate … sadly it was closed, so I could see the actual stone where they were decapitated with their knee imprints.

 

1044 – Friday 13th April:  Blimey It’s Hot … Sea Breeze Needed

We both ran in the morning 2k and 6k – excellent…  K visited the Gortys ancient site, while I cogitated.

It was so hot that we decided to head for the sea and shoot the breeze – at Matala. An unmanned and unmaintained campsite, but with electric, toilets and water – free!!!  A regular hippy colony with many pony tails – K suggested I grow one. Well, I remember 1968, flower power and Haight Ashbury – “If you’re going to San Francisco….wear some flowers in your hair”, etc. 

We were not the only Brits … We met Diane and John – fellow motorhomers from Nottingham. What happens when motorhomers meet?  Drinkypoos, of course! They’d come to Matala for 2 nights … 6 weeks ago!  This is something like their 18th trip to Greece.

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Flowers along K’s running route.

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Some fine Roman statues …

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Gortys ancient site – Ayios Titos Church 6AC: fenced off, but still remarkable.  It was Crete’s main church.

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The Odeion: the structure at the back houses the law code, dating from around 500BC.  

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The Law Code is an ancient Doric Cretan dialect and is written left to right and then right to left, so eyes can continuously follow the script.  The code is a series of rulings on specific cases.  For instance 5 witnesses were needed to convince a free man, but only one to sentence a slave.  The law covered rape, trade, children of mixed marriages and property & inheritance rights … giving historians a clear insight into the Gortys society.  

1044-1046 – Saturday 14th to Monday 16th April: 

K walked to Red Beach – whilst watching nakedbuttocksbathing – a nuddy beach!   K:  I was chatting to the parents of an ex-student in the cafe, when I suspended my train of thought … pert buttocks do that to one!   The campsite bins overflowing due to some campers being silly?  Solution?  A complete site community project to sort it!!!   We supplied the rubber gloves.  Diane and John admired our twin tub, so K Diane went into full laundrification mode… Meal in Jez – and first swim of the year – sans K9s… 

Matala was a hippy town, but the caves on one side have all been fenced off and people are charged to wander around them.  However, there are still occupied caves around the other side, plus a number camped pretty permanently with us.  One such cave dweller is Jeremy … adopted from the USA, public school educated, agricultural collage, chef trained etc etc … he has an opinion on EVERYTHING, but is well informed.

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Looking down onto Matala.  Many caves in the rock.

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Red beach.

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Matala is nothing but a tourist resort with tat shops and restaurants.  Great beach though. 

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John and Jeremy, who just happened to pass as we were hitting the gin.  He stayed to supper.  No prizes for which is the cave resident.

1047 – Tuesday 17th April: The Bikes Came Out

Running again…  Then for Corrie’s first bike ride – a total success – but we decided not to harness them in the Os-car OscarCorrie buggy as Corrie nearly strangled herself!   Kommos beach walk and lunch nearby – ice cream and more vino in Kalamaki… 

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Kommos:  we parked the bikes and walked the beach with the dogs.  Surprisingly busy given none of the 3 tavernas were open.

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Lunch in Pitsidhia:  Supposed to be a dry day! 

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Fine bone china coffee cups 🙂

 

1048 – Wednesday 18th April: Bike Ride Number 2

Cycle to Ayia Triadha and Festos. Entrances were free saving €18 – worth a good lunch – lamb for moi and chicken for K –  ‘nostimo’ – delicious in Greek.  Rental car booked as Maddy will arrive tomorrow – and I will depart on her Squeezyjetplane…..  Maddy will love Matala – shops, beach, restaurants – and Hippydom…..

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Ayia Triadha:  some of the best finds were vases, now in the Iraklio museum.  Another site where you could wander at will.

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Festos:  Busier and larger than Ayia Triadha.  The original palace was used as a foundation for a later one.  The central court had amazing views.

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