1681-1692: Sunshine Camping in Crete … Mostly

12th to 23rd October 2020

Woohooo … we made it to our happy place.  This is seriously the only place we’ve come back to in our 5+ years of travelling.  And this is our 3rd trip.  And very happy to be here with the expectations of further lockdowns.

Having set off over a week earlier than planned, we knew the landlady would be in residence of the house we’ve rented for 6 months.  In the event, it was longer than anticipated.  They left on Saturday 24th and we moved in the same evening!  So we had 12 nights to find a bed …. we looked at AirBnB, but they were proving more expensive than we wanted to pay … the weather was great, so the tent on a campsite it was.  We thought about moving site mid stay, but we had such a fabulous pitch and felt too lazy to strike camp only to erect the tent again, so we stayed put.

Since we were going to based in the north of Crete for the Winter, we chose to base ourselves in the South.  There were 3 campsites we could have chosen from, one in Agia Gallini and two in Paleochora … we opted for the latter, as the last time we were there our exploring had been limited by extreme weather, which saw us moving the van twice in in one night.  Camping Paleochora was small, but walking distance to the town, BUT you couldn’t park your car next to your tent.  Camping Grammeno had replied to emails and given us a good price … a super site.  Large and spacious, beach front, hot showers and a shared fridge freezer.  Charming Chris, from England, is the Winter guardian.  He has been resident there for 7 years … his motorhome is never going to be driven away … it is held captive by a wrap around decking, steel roof canopy and fencing to contain his 6 dogs and numerous cats!  He was super helpful, loaning us a hookup adapter and suggested we go on a metre for power … we paid about EUR5 for the whole stay, compared to the flat rate of EUR4 per day!  Pretty good given all our cooking is on electric (hob, instant pot, remoska and the Dometic camping fridge).  We also followed up on his restaurant recommendations … although we were about 5 km from Paleochora, there were 2 good restaurants within walking distance.

Chris did warn us that our pitch could become a mini lake in extreme weather … and it did drop copious amounts of the wet stuff on us for a few days.  J drew a line in the sand to measure the rising water level behind us.  The water came close,  but we did  not have to evacuate.  The tent has now had the best (worst!) that Derbyshire and Crete can throw at it … pleased with our purchase. 

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When we arrived the beach was covered in Sea Daffodils.

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Beachside tent pitch = Beachside office  yay.

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And Beachside knicker line! 

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Many fabulous sunsets  we weren’t up in time for the sunrises!

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It was warm enough for Oscar to need a fur prune.

Generally the weather was full on sun … so we did a bit of walking and recommenced running.  The road to Paleochora was undergoing long term (i.e. taking a long time!) renovation, so was closed from 9.00-1.00, then 2.00-4.00, so unless we wanted to get up with the crows, it rather limited where we went. 

We had two attempts on the Anidri Gorge which we had climbed some of last winter.  Once from the bottom and then from the top … so we have effectively done the whole of it now … and it really aint that long … the lower part does involve a fair amount of clambering, bottom shuffling and hoisting of CO2.

Gillian and Steve from one of the FaceBook motorhome forums joined us for a few days and gloated about having not had to run through hoops for their beige Residency Permit.  We hoped ours would prove as easy … we have come with just about every document we could think they may need.

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Paleochora from the castle  we ventured in here several time for coffee, ice cream, shopping and .

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. a veggie meal.  Absolutely delicious.  These starters were corn crips, avocado with a beetroot confit.  The other was sweet potato with a cashew paste and caponata.  

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Walking up the Anidri (Anidhri) Gorge, which we started last winter until rain made it too slippery … this time it was super hot, so we still didn’t complete it.  Corrie had to be on the lead for most of it … she would like to chase the mountain goats … and yes, she would be able to climb up there.

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Anidri George:  James and I are not mountain goats .. a bottom slide was employed here.

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Corrie off lead and wondering if she should leg it off after goats that MUST be around.

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It definitely was not flip flop walking … don’t know how long these have rested here.  Not our size!

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The Grammeno Peninsula was perfect from walking CO2 from the campsite and even better with a full rainbow.

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Last winter James had bought (expensive) hearing aids and they had stopped working soon after we left Crete.  Then with lockdown, getting them sorted was delayed.  He tried in Hungary, but was told there was a glued in connection between the battery and hearing aid so they couldn’t fix them.  Specsavers in the UK had also had a look at them ….  So we had 2 trips to Chania to the hearing aid shop.  No great hardship as it is a stunning 1.5 hrs route over the mountains.  On visit number 1, Vera (stunning and slim hearing aid lady) kept the hearing aids and then on visit 2, she had replaced the cable and they now worked … for a while!  Slight issue where one kept falling out.  

Whilst on the north of the island we also went over to Drapanos to meet our landlady and see the house. Carole has bent over backwards to assist us with doing a proper rental agreement, which we will need for the residency permit application.  We met her on our 2nd trip to Chania to sign the residency agreement, which the accountant then processed / ratified.

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We drove twice up to Chania to the hearing aid shop.

1663-1681: A Quick Flit!

1663-1681: Packing Up and Goodbye to Jez

Thursday 24th September –  12th October 2020

Back at Coxbridge Farm we proceeded to completely empty Jez … he was going back to his factory of birth in Slovenia.  We had always had issues with opening and shutting the habitation door … sometimes even having to take our boot to it.  This had never been correctly repaired whilst under warranty:  incorrect parts or non-delivery of parts, .  With the constant slamming shut, we had consequential damage to the side wall … a crease!  Adria agreed to repair this … actually not a repair, but a whole new side wall.  But who could be trusted to do this major surgery?  Don’t worry … they will collect the motorhome and take it back to the factory in Slovenia.  Having been warned that we would be without our home for at least 6 weeks, we had formed a plan!

To be fair, we already had a plan to spend the winter in Crete … wanting to be in our Happy Place for another expected Covid lockdown.  We had agreed to rent a house just east of Chania from a friend of a friend.  With no van, we would drive the car over.  It would also mean we would save the expense of hiring a car whilst there.

Once Jez was empty … again abusing my Aged P’s goodwill, attic, garage and shed, we drove down to N Devon, via an over night on a friend’s driveway in Bristol.  Jez was left with a motorhome dealer there and within a week was collected on a closed lorry to be transported back to Slovenia.  We were able to track his progress on the Tracker.  Part of the planning was again to buy and wrap all our Christmas gifts … Mum was unimpressed the first year of our travels when I left all the wrapping for her to do!

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Costa iced caramel latte … my go to packing drink!  Not sure how many I managed.

The packing the car was a challenge.  We planned to camp en route, so had the tent and kit we had trialled in Derbyshire.  Summer-ish and winter clothes, dogs and their kit, cooking kit, Christmas gifts from family etc etc … all to fit into the car.  The day before departure, it was all at the front of the house ready to be packed … in the persistent rain!  Bear in mind, I may not have many skills, but packing is one of them … taught by Dad on our family camping holidays … Mum and Clare sorted bedding, Tim sat in the car reading and I passed dad things to pack or helped erect the tent.   It was quickly obvious it would not all fit.  Maddy and I did an emergency trip to Halfords to buy roof legs, bars and the biggest roof box they had … a snip at >£600 NOT!.  And slightly annoying as we already have legs and bars that fit the car in the shed in N Devon, but hey ho … after a few tricky attempts to close the roof box, we got it all in.

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CO2 lying on top of pilates mats, duvet, pillows etc.  A bit of a leap up!

We are really lucky people.  We had brought our departure forward by 8 days, concerned that borders would start closing again.  Just before we left, Switzerland closed to Brits (that was OK, we planned to go via Austria anyway) and the day after we arrived, Italy also closed.  Although in reality, we heard of folk crossing between countries with no checks.  Another major piece of luck was that the DVLA returned James’ C1 (to drive over 3.5 tons post 70 years old) application form wanting further information and a new photo.  This was a major piece of good fortune, as without a physical licence, James would not have been able to drive abroad.  If stopped by police and unable to produce the licence, they would have deemed the vehicle uninsured!  Quick as flash, J said, right, we will keep it and post it all back from Greece so he could share the driving.  It expired on 12.10.20 … the day we arrived in Patras, mainland Greece.   It would have been a real struggle for me to drive that distance for 5 days solidly.

With poor weather initially and then tiredness, we abandoned the camping idea and about 4.00 o’clock each day, I messaged AirBnB owners to get a good price for an overnight.  I had tried a campsite cabin initially, but it was more expensive than an apartment, and thankfully there were quite a few that allowed dogs.  Out of the 5 AirBnB that we used, all were <£65 (cheapest was £19!) and all, bar one, were very comfortable.  

So our route was 1180 miles from home to Ancona.  Overnights in Belgium, with Kerstin in Reutlingen, Verona and close to Ancona.  An 18 hour ferry from Ancona to Patras, an overnight near Patras and then another overnight ferry to Chania, Crete.  The journey took us exactly 7 days with only a 30 minute difference door to door (Ash Vale to Chania).

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A very quiet Tunnel. 

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Our first AirBnB was a stones throw from a free aire … missing Jez!

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First overnight apartment.  I was expecting really uncomfortable beds, but they were all OK … gone is the day of lumpy rental mattresses.

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Leaving, after packing the car, in teaming rain.

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We really cannot get lost … ancient Garmin, Co-Pilot, Dash Cam and old iPhone for audio.  Console of the Enterprise?

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£10 for 3 giant bars … just had to.

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Overnight stop, walk and supper, with my old mucker Kerstin in Reutlingen, Germany.

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Similar to the chicken parmesan I ate in the NE … this was equally delicious … chicken in a paprika cheese sauce.

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A lucky rainbow.

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Rain eased as we crossed from Austria to Italy over the Brenner Pass … and scenery got interesting.

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 The grotty Italian AirBnB – something out of the 1950’s.  And by no means the cheapest.

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Yes, we cruised to Love in Italy, where else!

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Spotted near Ancona … the future of cruise ships?

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Time for and Italian lunch before Ferry No.1.

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I know my dinner is up there, surely it IS time for it NOW?

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Dog walk near Patras after the long (18hrs) crossing … they have to poop the poop deck on board and Corrie is Miss reluctant.

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Time for first lunch in Greece; shared Dukos and Shrimp Saganaki … nostimos.

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Waiting dockside to load for Ferry No. 2 … we had to turn around on board … so much easier in a car.

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Coming into Chania, Crete port in the morning … somewhere there is Kalives, not far from our rental house, which is more up in the hills.

 

 

 




1647-1662: Scotland and some Wierd Pronounciations

1647-1648:  Busy with Electrics & Admin

 Monday 7th to Wednesday 9th September 2020

David the electrician magician worked some wizardry on our electrics … we are now plumbed in for power through all our van sockets running off the inverter.  At the moment, the fridge, hot water and heating CAN all run off the inverter.  But with this weather, we are not getting enough juice back in … so we are monitoring how it goes.  I did managed to kill the investor on night 1 by using both Instant Pot and Remoska with leisure batteries not full.  So we booked onto a CS with EHU nearby.

This also gave us the opportunity to do some much needed admin … we are now insured, car and us, for our trip to Crete (Covid excepted when we travel to a Gov non essential travel country, as Crete currently is).  Laundry, using the socket that David wired through to the garage and showers too.

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Whilst David worked his magic, we walked along the River Tweed … fishing is a big thing in these parts.  Can’s see the attraction of standing in cold water for something to happen.

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Coldingham, where we spent 1 night was a fabulous sandy beach, with beach huts.

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Start of the walk to St Abbs overlooking Coldingham beach.

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St Abbs: coffee and tray bake and a conversation with other motorhomers at the next table.  Is it mean, but I really didn’t want to rave too much about Greece … we hear so many motorhomers thinking about it …

 

1649-1650:  Hawick and the Devil’s Porridge

Thursday 10th – Friday 11th September

We swung by David, who worked out how to re-set the inverter.  Not just a case of an on / off switch, but actually removing the cable.  But we know now!  We stayed the night in Hawick (pronounced Hoik!).  I walked the park by the river and then we settled in the free carpark at the other end to all the heavy works vehicles, who are shoring up the river bank.

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No chance of this hotel re-opening in the near future.

In the morning, we wandered into town.  A lovely coffee and cake – taking shelter from the rain of course!  We looked at some of the cashmere shops, for which Hawick is renowned … but the prices or the styles put me off a purchase.

We then took up Meg’s suggestions for a tour … and drove off to our pm booking at the Devil’s Porridge Museum in Eastriggs.  At the start of WW1, ammunition was in short supply, so a cordite factory was built.  I spread 9 miles east of Gretna.  Spread with miles of pipe work out due to the hazard.  Thousands of girls, most of them domestic servants were housed in brick buildings that are now well constructed bungalows, and all the entertainment and day to day infrastructure was built.  Sadly the museum was housed in a new building as the local council didn’t grant perimssion for the use of a WW1 building.  But it was super interesting with committed staff.  

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The museum also had a display on the worst rail disaster.

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Oscar had a go at pre-washing a yogurt pot!

1651:  Caerlaverock Castle & a Non Rugby Game

Saturday 12th September

We spent the previous night a donations aire in the Caerlaverock Castle estate.  It used to be a 5 pitch site, but opening it up to all and sundry for donations probably required less work.  It had services so I did a mini wash, using the twin tub whilst keeping it in the garage … just ‘cos I could.  Our neighbour was much interested.  We walked through the woods to the Caerlaverock Castle.  On arrival, a steward (I noticed she was impervious to the cold and had bare arms!!!) told us that unless we had a ticket, we were to stay on the path.  Given we could see a lot of the castle from said path, we stayed on it and didn’t buy a ticket.  Covid Times:  I bought 2 postcards for £1.60 and had to pay by credit card!

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Site of the original castle (free to roam here).  The owners moved as it kept getting flooded.

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So they built this.  Photo taken from the path!

A rugby night so we headed into Dumfries … basically the nearest car park to a Sky Sports pub that said on the phone they would put the game on one of their screens for us.  Ahead of time we arrived to get a prime seat … pub pretty empty.  No FOOD!  But happy for take in, so I went and queued at the Chinese.  Game about to start, but NO!  despite both us reading that the game would start at 7.30 BST, it had been on at 6.35 BST.  Probably best missed as Leinster had a massive fail … as did we!

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Would that be your glum face James?  The pub said they would show the rugby, but no food, so take out / in Chinese  but no game  the internet had lied about the time.

1652:  Sweetheart Abbey and Kircudbright

Sunday 13th September

We had no ambitions to wander Dumfries despite the delights the guide book offered of various museums and churches, so headed down the coast to … Sweetheart Abbey.  With a name like that, it is a must.  

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Sweetheart Abbey  the widow of john Balliol, of Oxford Uni, was so distraught at loosing him, she had his heart embalmed and carried it with her!  She founded the Abbey.

We had a lovely circular walk along the coast and then back slightly higher.  Of particular interest were the stones and pieces of wood placed outside a house … the judicious adding of eyes, made them very real.

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A lovely stretch of coastline.

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 We drove onto Kirkcudbrigh, pronounced Ker coo bri.  Hadn’t planned to stay, but I spotted a dress in a shop window and a wool shop.  

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We overnighted a little out of town but on the river, but in the industrial estate.  I managed to buy the top I’d seen and one other  that was successful, but the wool shop was pretty rubbish.

 

1653:  Via Wigtown and the Isle of Whithorn

Monday 14th September

After my purchases and a good breakfast, we stopped off at Wigtown, the book town of Scotland.  A quick walk around, but no purchases made.  A walk to the point at the Isle of Whithorn gave CO2 a good stretch.  We saw motorhomes parked up, but we headed on a round to the Mull of Galloway, the most southerly point of Scotland.

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The largest 2nd hand book shop in Scotland  we saw the largest in England in Alnwick.

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Whitehorn.

 

1654: Mull & Forest of Galloway

Tuesday 15th September

The cafe at the Mull, obligingly gave us breakfast …. rather heavy on meat and lacking veggies such as mushrooms and tomatoes, but we managed.  Wanting to take advantage of the Scottish Forestry Commission aire trial, we headed up to their Clatteringshaw Visitor Centre.  A new chemical toilet emptying, but the only water had to be carried from the cafe.  Limited walking … just along a path to a stone.  Felt it was a missed opportunity not to have put a path around the lake.

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Mull of Galloway parking and cafe.  Not for a windy night! 

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Apparently Robert the Bruce rested against this rock, which of course makes it super significant!!

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Oscar amused the other walkers, once they’d leapt out of the way!

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But lovely views over the lake. 

1655: A Decent Wool Shop and Near Melrose

Wednesday 16th September

After a leisurely start we headed back east to Galashiels.  Not on our tourist route, but it had a wool shop where’d I’d made my 30 min appointment on line.  It proved to be a gem … the young and enthusiastic lady gave me her full attention and I came away with wool for an extra top I’d not planned, as well as all the items on my list.  Margaret and Shirley, who live not far away, agreed she is marvellous … it was one of those encounters that really lifts you and gives you a fire in your belly.  I knitted most days after.  

We were headed to a motorhome meet in Kelso, so stopped in a car park near a monument to William Wallace.  I did a great walk to the monument and then down to a temple of the muses … passing some very smart houses.  One of the things we’ve remarked on about this area is how many lovely houses there are.  Meg later explained that the old land owning families own huge tracts of land and their tenant farmers are also well off … hence the abundance of smart property.

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Our peaceful over night stop.

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The statue is 9.4m high.

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Temple of the Muses (and CO2) over looking the River Tweed.

 

1656-1660: Kelso Meet

Thursday 17th to Monday 21st September

Despite being much further north than the Hereford meet at the end of August, this meet actually saw some sunshine.  I even dispensed with my thermal vest and we were able to eat outside a few times.  With better weather, we were not all huddled in our vans, so able to catch up with more folk.  The new Covid measures in place in Scotland, meant we could only mix with one other household at a time and, if the household was from a high Covid are, only outside.  Dan, who we met first in Sicily, cooked us an amazing shepherd’s pie.  We had a fab walk with Meg and then Sunday lunch sitting outside the van … the wine flowed and the cheese was nibbled … and we froze … multiple layers.  We established that my nephew has a fishing shop in town, so we had a chat with him … some years since we’d met.  Floors castle was not open, but the grounds were.  And CO2 were even allowed into the formal gardens.

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Kelso Abbey.

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Floors Castle with it’s turrets.

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Giant veg at Floors.

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The longer than planned walk with Meg.

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Which brought us back along the River Teviot.

1661-62: Another Chicken Parmesan!

Tuesday 22nd to Wednesday 23rd September

Lisa and Danny (from Turkey lockdown) had sold their Defender with the tent atop, and bought a van to self build.  Danny had managed to get the bed in, so we agreed to camp at Omotherley … a really pretty village with a good pub, where I sampled my second chicken parmesan (breaded chicken, béchamel and cheese baked.  Just as well we don’t live there … yummy.

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Incorrect spelling though … but a lovely pub.

It tipped down all next day … a wet walk not far away … who ever thought having dogs is a good idea???  Then back to Danny and Lisa’s flat car park … a few chores and trips to the supermarket to buy supper and my introduction to the Tool Warehouse to buy a proper bottle jack for Jez.  

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Jesus, the Romanian rescue dog that was sent home to Lisa’s parents, at home in the van.

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And no messing with his first frozen kong.

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I overdid the elements of the cooked breakfast, as I included everything from hash browns to black pudding … the dogs did well.

 

We have never had a bad trip to Scotland, even if the weather (even in summer) means I reach for thermals, fleeces and brushed cotton pjs.  Having driven through the Borders, Dunfries and Galloway previously it was good to take some time and explore there.  Recommended.

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1635-1645- : Heading North and Rain

Screenshot 20200914 123657 Samsung InternetWe’ve been listening to Wind in the Willows.


1635-1638:  Hereford Motorhome Meet

Thursday 27th – Sunday 30th August

A lovely town to wander and, in theory, some great walking and cycling from here … but it had been raining and it pretty much continued cold and damp.  So much so, that we had to be pushed off the grass and spent a couple of nights in the car park.  We left the muddy hand prints on the bonnet for a few days … not really a badge of honour!  With the weather and Covid, there was much less socialising than normal, but we did spend some lovely time with Ben and Lyn, who we first met a meet in Holland.  

A good chunk of time, was spent putting stuff into bags … habitation service due …  Oh, and we identified the leak in the garage, fortunately not a door seal, just a loose connection from the pump.  With this having been dripping and causing mould under our bed (yuk!) and the broken bottle of dish washer liquid in the garage … everything was frothing and needed a good amount of cleaning up and drying out (when the rain ceased!).

1639-1642:  Derbyshire Work and Walking

Monday 31st August – Thursday 3rd September 

Early up and off … to Derbyshire.  Jez the van had been booked into Geoff Cox Adria dealer for over a year … we had waited on parts to repair the damaged bumper (Cosica low loader damage early Summer 2019), but had to leave in September to meet the Aged P’s in Crete before they all arrived.  I was slightly concerned that the parts (the bumper costing £2400 alone) would have been damaged or worse, lost whilst in storage … but I am my mother’s daughter … a worrier.  A great moho dealer with lovely people who seem to really know their stuff. Habitation service complete, MOT passed (despite my worrying that the headlamps are aligned for the continent), bed frame fixed and a basic engine service done … bumper all new … just need to NOT drive into anything to keep it that way!

On arrival a a C&CC CS (5 pitch farm), we went into major erection mode.  I grew up being ‘dragged’ all over Europe as a child under canvas and so quite enjoyed being in a tent.  What we did not like was the odd leak (new tent!) and the cold in the evenings … no heating.  What heating, in August, I know!!!  As we had what we needed in bags and the cutlery drawers, living and cooking was slightly more complicated than it would be if we had just set off for a week’s camping trip … now which bag was the rice in???

We had use of a loan Os-car Ford Ka so were able to do some sightseeing …. limited walking as it, guess what, rained a lot.  We had Jez back on Thursday afternoon … just enough time to get most bags and boxes back into Jez and get the awning down.  Lovely to be back in our own bed in Jez, after only 3 nights in the tent.  It was a good practice run though, as we plan to use the tent on the drive to Crete.  I discovered that I should have bought a 220 – 12 volt adaptor for the fridge, and it wasn’t till we took the tent down, I spotted the electric cable entry point.  But it worked well.  

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You can never go too big!

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Our encampment.

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 An old tradition of Girlie Camping trips is the erection beer, but we refrained until the  driveway awnings up for the van contents and tent up for us to live in.  So this is a post erection wine!

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So it rained and CO2 went into body bags.

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It kept raining, so a chilly J used one of my shawls …

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And then the shawl was re-deployed to a chilly bedtime Corrie.

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A walk in between rain fall.

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Walk to Tissington: No pub, would you believe, so coffee and roll only.

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Sign in the park at Matlock … who’d have thought ducks like grapes, but they have to be seedless mind!

 

1643:  Heading North 

Friday 4th September 

The tent came down on Friday morning and we used the most immaculate facilities we’ve ever used to shower and do the services before we left.  An overnight stop along the Bridgewater canal.

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Good lay-by stop and view from our door.

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 Friendly live aboard canal boaters, one of which ran a dog walking business with this car reg!

1644:  Stockton-on-Tees Stopover

Saturday 5th September 

A stopover at the Darlington Railway museum.  Small but interesting.

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George Stephenson first engine on this line. 

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Travel Buddies.

We met Lisa and Danny and their Romanian dog (named Jesus ‘cos of it’s white cross marking and shipped home to parents, who have appropriated it) at her parents house.  They live on the edge of a large graveyard … Lisa recounted how her 18th birthday bash had been reported in the national press as ‘The Rave from the Grave’!  After a walk, we inched Jez through the graveyard, managing not to drive over or churn up any gravestones and thence to their new flat (and the washing machine!).  Danny managed to leave work to join us for supper.  

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My first ever chicken parmesan!  Breaded chicken with béchamel sauce and cheddar cheese.  Local delicacy.


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With Danny and Lisa:  Turkish lockdown buddies. 

1645:  And further North

 Sunday 6th September 

Continuing North, we stopped off for lunch at the Angel of the North and then Alnwick, pronounced Annick.  

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 Like or loathe, it is certainly striking.   And BIG. Eight reinforced concrete and steel pillars go down 33m to withstand wind.

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Waiting buddies.

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Alnwick.

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Claims to have the largest 2nd hand book shop in England.  Housed in an old railway station.  Did I really need more cookery books?

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But really famous for the castle aka Hogwarts.

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Attractive main Alnwick square.

We almost made it to Scotland, but not quite … Battle of Flodden site and monument.  Knew the name, but following the battlefield walk, I discovered that James V and most of the Scottish nobles had died here … for once English battle tactics had prevailed, despite a smaller force.  However, it was also significant due to the death toll … 10,000 Scots and 4,000 English.  And all over within hours.  Up there with First World War battles for loss of life.

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Battle of Flodden monument.

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Overnight Parking.

Scotland tomorrow.

 


1618-1634 : Chop Chop Busy Busy Work Work Bang Bang

1618-1634:  Work – Chores and Busy with Friends and Family

Monday 10th – Wednesday 26th August 2020

Do you remember the BT advert with penguins?  Chop chop work work busy busy bang bang .  That’s how it’s been with us since we landed back in the UK.  It was all so busy, I had to set up a 3 column spreadsheet so I could keep track!  And now catching up with the blog.

With a stupid o’clock crossing, we parked up for the rest of the night close to Folkestone and then drove round the M25 to the Aged Ps in Ash Vale.  Maddy and I (and the laundry) alighted from Jez and I picked up the car … leaving the laundry in the machine, dropped Maddy at her home and drove around to join J at Coxbridge Farm, the CL (5 pitch site) we regularly use.

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A bit squished!

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Obligatory pic of M25 traffic, at least it wasn’t as bad as normal and the sun was shining.  A stop at Cobham Services was a reality Covid check after a more relaxed France.

Here for a few days only and the weather was glorious. And I spent it in the stuffy and even hotter attic … I’d been warned not to add to the volume of our stuff there and as we will be emptying the van into the attic, garage and shed, pruning was needed!  Over the 5 years of on the road, we have swelled the contents … items we’ve picked up as they seemed like a good idea and others that we have carried around and not sufficiently used … they all made it into the attic.  As soon as I descended from the stuffy and sweaty roof, the weather turned …. it seemed to move into Autumn pretty rapidly.

During this period we did some socialising and chores. Our Fiat airbag warning light was resolved (new innards!), and we combined this with 2 nights on Frances and Edward’s driveway.  Niece Zozo had an 18th birthday family Garden Party and we combined this with a side trip to see Ian, Jimmy, Mel and Ruth and Brian in Rustington.  Michelle and Craig joined us outside the van, for an American supper … I’ve done their prawn and smoked salmon starter for others as it was so good.  An overnight to a soulless Club site in Bladon, Oxford, to see ancient Uni friends for supper.  Met up with another old Uni friend, just as ancient, for supper in Lydney.  A very boozy lunch with Caroline – isn’t it great when off spring can act as chauffeur?!  E Bikes are serviced … Maddy drove me to collect them one by one and I cycled them back to Ash Vale.  The car has had the air con fixed, as we will need this with taking the car to Crete.  Maddy also dragged me a number of times to her gym … we did legs, arms and cardio over 4 days, so every part of me ached.

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New labelled bottles formal my sauces … thanks David and Karen for the link.

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Our Coxbridge view … and the new ex-racehorse.

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Always love a pic of one of the Severn Bridges where J worked, whilst we had 2 nights in Aust.

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Oscar is often ambitious when it comes to sticks.

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Lydney Harbour where we overnighted after meeting Sarah, ex Uni.

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Getting comfy on a trip … we’re using trellis to keep them off now!

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Our view of Southampton – the Solent … overnighting here before the trip to Fiat.

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Our first British breakfast whilst Jez in with Fiat – It may have been with plastic cutlery and on polystyrene trays, but yummy.

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Walking in the New Forest before going to Frances and Edward.

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We saw lots of the wild New Forest Ponies …

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… and CO2 got mucky!

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Corrie nesting in Frances and Edward’s flower bed …

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… and she ousted Bevan from his bed at Bron’s.

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Weather OK one night for BBQ with Maddy.  It was supposed to be confit duck, but we couldn’t open the tin …  a quick trip to Waitrose for provisions. 

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A walk before Zozo’s 18th birthday party with views of Arundel castle.

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And Oscar found another big stick … or log.

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Birthday girl.

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Corrie and Doris hoping for cake!

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Walk on Climping Beach after the party.  New tradition to each collect a shell each beach walk for Clare and Chris’ new house.

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Ian had passed a load of Nicky’s photos to Ruth … she’d sorted some out … this was the truck Nicky and I hitched a lift back from S Spain in … we had to stow away on the freighter!

On the medical front, J has had another blood test … PSA still effectively 0.  Specsavers have lifted a chunk of £s for new glasses.  And I have had a hip Xray … not significantly showing signs of arthritis, which is good, but an old injury may be causing problems … will have to wait for a clinic appointment … initial telephone consult just as we cross over to Europe …  may need to get this looked at in Crete.  J also paid the GP to do the medical form for his post 70 C1 license … despite the government announcing that all expired licenses are valid for additional months, we don’t believe that this covers overseas … and currently think that I will have to do all the driving to and in Crete … ho hum.  Of course, no way of getting any idea of when the license may (or even further medical test) arrive.