478-495: Chardonnay Returns and into Devon

K starts blogging … finally, after a bit of a gap

478-482 – Friday 16th – Tuesday 20th September 2016:  Passing Time

It’s horrible.  I know it really is not a major disaster in the grand scheme of things, but …  We’ve still no Chardonnay …we have pretty much lived in her for 18 months and all of a sudden she and every thing she stands for is on hold.  We are not free to come and go as we please or to change our plans at will.  We are just thankful to have the use of the Aged P’s house … we could have nowhere to go and thus be in a very small, wet and cold tent or spending hundreds on a dodgy hotel room!  J has much better equilibrium than I … I am decidedly down about the whole thing.  Kick up arse and get on with something!!!

Over the next few days we walk a fair bit.  A super walk around Polesden Lacey, a National Trust house, and along the Basingstoke Canal. When the red flags are down to indicate no firing, we get up and high on the military ranges.  We manage to squeeze in a few spring cleaning jobs in the house too.

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Fleet Pond, very close to where I used to live. Oscar experimenting with a paddle!

One chore that actually provided a good result was doing my Tax Return.  As my sole income is some of the house rental, I earn very little and can gift J 10% of my allowance and HMRC actually owes me!

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Not enough to dine out on through!

Trying to do J’s Tax Return has proved anything but straight forward.  As he has an Irish passport, he has to go through gov.verify – we tried the Post Office … it crashed at the end.  Another said insufficient data held and finally it worked with the third … we’re in … No, we’re not.  Need his UTR number … a 30 min wait on the phone to HMRC and finally we’re in …. yes we really are!  Just need to finish it now!

Chardonnay update … fuse box corrosion … they think.  Fiat Technical also think!  Replaced it … Fiat took her for a road test and had to carry her back on another low loader!  The replacement fuse box was faulty … need to wait for another!

 

483 – Wednesday 21st September 2016:  Homeless!

K collected the Aged P’s from Heathrow, whilst J did some last minute cleaning up after ourselves.  After a coffee, we were off heading down to Bristol.  Would we?  Wouldn’t we get Chard back?  We’d stressed to Fiat that we were now homeless (I know we could have stayed on with the Aged P’s, but they’d just flown in from the States and really needed to be in their own home … alone … know how we’d have felt).  No, not to be … Fiat Technical want Fiat Bristol to do more tests tomorrow.  So we visited Chardonnay in the Fiat workshop.  Patted her bonnet, delivered grapes and lashings of sympathy … and dropped off stuff we did not need and collected a small tent, bedding etc!

We spent the night at a super quiet campsite near Weston Super Mere.  It poured down during the night … the fly sheet stuck to the inner … and our pillows and duvet got wet!  This is why we have a thousands of pounds motorhome … Oh no we don’t!  

 

484 – Thursday 22nd September 2016:  Mooching around Western

The sun came out for breaky and to dry the tent off.  Oscar had slept in the car.  Whilst he kept dry he was not happy and was shaking when J let him out.  He really is ‘special’!

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Fiat told us not to come in till the afternoon … they would call us … think we may have worn their patience thin with how often we rang for an update!  We walked the length of Weston sea front and had a light (semi liquid)  lunch in an Italian.  Finally Fiat said we could come and collect Chardonnay late afternoon … they are 100% convinced she is now fully engine functional!  Traffic was horrendous through Bristol – It was touch and go whether we would make it before they shut up for the night … we had visions on another wet canvas night!  By the time we finally had Chard back, it was gone 6.00 p.m. …. Tired and not up to thinking about wild camping, we rang Hortham Farm, the CL we had to leave early when Chard died … the owner very generously gave us a freebie.  I picked up a £10 meal deal so it was a very relaxed and easy evening.  We pottered and put things away and just enjoyed being back home!

 

J picks it up …

485 – Friday 23rd September 2016: Ilfracombe Area

We drove Chardonnay and Merc to North Devon which has captivated us (where has not captivated us on our travels?) and a lovely farm CL.  Not being 100% confident in Chardonnay’s repair ourselves, despite the 100% thumbs up from Fiat, we drove both vehicles down.  It also meant we had a car to navigate some of the small Devon lanes.

Nice easy BBQ and chilling… back in our travelhome – not Travelodge but definitely a Premier Innlodgings!  

Only one other van in a large and slightly muddy field – we had parked at the bottom end to give our neighbours maximum space…  It rained, so we heeded the farmers’s advice and moved up the slope … closer to the other resident.  Next morning – a visit from the farmer .. could we move forward as we were blocking access to the water.  No problem, of course … I waved at the chap having moved and he did the ‘sod off and go away’ wave … what a sod(!) … he could have experienced some damp sods too if he’d been lower down the field.

 

486 – Saturday 24th September 2016:  Blowing a Gale

A late start, thankfully – and a (rare for now) run – quite short but just the right distance…

We walked from Combe Martin on a very up and down route – towards the two Hangman Peaks (why Hangman?) I can confirm that Oscar and I had hangdog faces on some of the climbs!  But of course not K – she doesn’t do hanglady looks… only when young Oscar trips her up and he gets the teacherly Oscarhung visage… there’s an anagram lurking here somewhere…

Now then – pray pay attention reader – and those who are fans of “Strictly” – does this mean we have more than one reader? We can reveal exclusively that we have the likely 2016 Champion of the show!  His name is – long pause for maximum effect…..Oscar!!!  We tried to entice him to chase (and retrieve) a stick – it was working quite well… until it went into the heather. Our Chimp – sorry Champ galloped in pursuit – and then stopped dead in dogpuzzlement – or pugdozzlement?  This heather stuff didn’t quite suit his delicate feet – so he minced/danced his way very gingery and slowly out of the heathery stuff!  The new dance is called the “Torntangledevontango” – will we see this in all the clubs?  He is already a multiple hits star on Facebook – please send requests for autographs to us (with money of course – his/our food/drinks are very expensive, especially as he (?) we quite like Wicked Wolf gin…. more about that libation later…

 

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487 – Sunday 25th September 2016:  Food Market in Lynton

Food market in Lynton – what can we say – it drew us like flies to a pile of chips!  Maybe not quite the semaphore, sorry metaphor you expected… Cheeses, sausages, pates, bread, other foodgoodies – and – gin!  As we may have elucidated earlier, we discovered “Dancing Cow” gin in the New Forest – we blame everything on Frances and Edward – they always lead us astray!  Lynmouth has “Wicked Wolf” gin – regrettably, we cannot blame F&E for this – the bottle sort of flew off the shelf and smacked us in the gob!  A gobful was sufficient to persuade K&J that further research was essential – in the purest interests of science… we are hopeful of being nominated for the Noble (not Nobel!) Prize for ginresearchfullness! …. we haven’t touched a drop yet – promise….  Back to sobriety, it’s obvious that boutique gin distilleries are the ‘in/gin’ thing at the moment… 

We met a delightful couple who have just bought a Mazda Bongo – we have amazing memories of our Bongo – pre-Chardonnay…

We zigzagged our way down to Lynmouth ‘gin’gerly…oh dear, it’s that ‘ginthing’ again… we do quite like water also…

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Looking down to Lynmouth from Lynton … yes, a steepish descent.

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Idyllic – children paddling whatever the cold.

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Check out my new hat … I knitted it!

488 – Monday 26th September 2016:  Back to Brizzle and Friends

Despite our higher up pitch, we struggled to get out of the farm cleanly … with all the rain the ground was very soft and Chard had a nice smattering of mud all up her sides and inside where the windows were open!  Note to selves:  hard standing in the UK in Autumn (and some summers!).

Foodadmin early – K supermarket shopping and meal prepping… as Kay and Stephen coming over for supper to us back at Hortham Farm… a skip and a jump from the houses we let out.  En route we stopped to look at Rapido new vans – low payload and insufficient kitchen space.  

It was K&S’ first meeting with Oscar.  They have two gorgeous border collies; Kay does agility with them and has been on training courses with a dog guru / whisperer … she’s picked up a lot as she literally had Oscar eating our of her hand.  Too much detail coming … I said I was unhappy that Oscar’s food was not right for him as he excretes too often and it is soft.  She’s moved over to an 80/20 diet (80% meat, 20% vegetables and no grains … Oscar has now been gradually moved over to this and I won’t go graphic on you, but consistency and frequency are much improved!!! 


489 – Tuesday 27th September 2016:  More Repairs

Back to Family Travel Centre in Bristol – fresh water leak to be investigated and the habitation door central locking was acting up, since Fiat had been through every inch of wiring.  Our friends at FLT are also the local Adria dealer …we had seen an A class previously … salesman showed us some normal vans … smaller and less payload … on to look at the top of the range model …. he will cost it out for us whilst we walk and the Chard repairs are done.  We decided to buy it after doing our own numbers!!!  

Deal done on a coin flip – the sales director almost fell off his chair – the idea of customers deciding a £xxx van purchase on a coin toss!  Could have ready for 21st Oct – Pyrenees for 24th October to meet the Aged Ps’

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Meet Jez … Adria Sonic Supreme … Sonic the Hedgehog … hedgehog in Slovenian is JEZ

490 – Wednesday 28th September 2016: Back to Devon

Late start as eventually fell into a patchy sleep.  K Collected new carpets in the car so they can be dropped shortly in the Aged P’s attic, or they would’ve ended up living in the garage for 6 months.  Then onto  a CL with hard standing … no issues with getting out after the rain again.

 

491 – Thursday 29th September 2016:  Laundry Day and a Limp

Water supplies on the CL and the twin tub was wheeled out for mega laundry – the wind would have dried a forest of clothes… 

We walked Oscar and he had fun with his favourite ball – his ball skills might get him into the Wales football team – but only if they make him Captain – and manager!  He developed a limp – the first health concern we have had about him… he will see the vet next Monday – it’s not a bad limp though, fortunately.  Due to said limp, we had a short walk around Ilfracombe – he still managed to tweak my back when he pulled hard – nothing wrong with his muscles!  Ilfracombe was very windy…

 

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We set off to walk around this head …

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… J hanging onto a lamp post to avoid being blown away.

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The great view around the corner. 

492 – Friday 30th September 2016: Woody Bay

We started the day in our (K’s) Merc driving towards Woody Bay to have a walk – via a toll road. Just as well we were not in Chardonnay – the road got more and more narrow until we decided to turn the car around and abort – back to a previously spotted car park!

Woody Bay is where K’s Mum Diane and Dad Grahame and visited years ago with Nanny – the photo shows how it got it’s name… a steep descent to the beach (almost) as the last section was very slippery.  Thankfully, no sign of his nib’s limp…  

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Hunters Inn provided our luncheon break – ‘luncheon’ is such a nice and slightly archaic term – as our reader will appreciate… I tried the Stoweford Press cider – scrumptious drink from Cornwall. We chatted (in between the Oscar Appreciation Society – OAS – not OAPs) to a lovely couple who have sadly given up full-time motor homing due to health issues, but they still go away a lot in a caravan and just need to plan a route to the nearest hospital should the need arise.

The nearby National Trust shop was the next stop for anti-Oscar rugs – to prevent him jumping up on the Jez seats and drooling all over them – we will do our own drooling over all of Jez. It will take some time getting used to calling our van Jez after 5 years of ‘Chardonnaying’ our way around Europe…

 

493 – Saturday 1st October 2016: Separate Drives up to Farnham

A six hour drive in separate vehicles saw us back to Coxbridge Farm in Surrey – this feels very much like home – our 4th (?) visit… I listened to the replayed All Ireland football final on RTE radio – you get magical pictures on the radio… my team Dublin won by 1 point in extra time – but we feel hugely sorry for Mayo who have waited 65 years for this trophy… Next year maybe? 

 

494 – Sunday 2nd October 2016:  Alice Holt Walk and Dinner with Family

Family time – the best of times!  A woggydalk in Alice Holt parkland – we have never seen so many young children on bikes with parents who looked totally stressed! As we have both been there (a combination of 5 children between us), we have definitely got the tee-shirts. Our manchild Oscar was impeccably behaved even without his bike – well a metaphorical bike. On a digressive note, years ago when I was a young frog, no – sprog, there was a bike repair shop in Dublin near Amiens St Station – also near the infamous “Monto” – you will know about this Amelia… the shop was called “Cyclelogical” – genius or what? 

The Aged Ps hosted dinner and Clare and Chris and Louis and Zozo joined in with us. During the meal, K (who was driving me to and from Coxbridge Farm) heard Diane say “why don’t you stay the night?” Beds are always made in anticipation, or just in case…  K’s next G&T was despatched like a ferret up a drainpipe!  Have you ever seen a ferret racing up a drainpipe with a G&T in it’s gob?  No, you cry!  We despatched the most excellent food…again.  Chicken with prunes and olives, two puds and cheese from their recent trip to France … 

 

495 – Monday 3rd October 2016:  Oscar’s Passport … and Jimmy & Ian

Aldershot supervet Sarah gave Oscar his final pet passport jab and examined his paw – no obvious problems as he quivered under the chair… Thinking of paws, as we paws for thought – absolutely dreadful pun, James… Winston Churchill once famously said – “Paw paw is better than War war!”.  Actually, he said “Jaw jaw is better than War war” – but Oscar prefers the “Paw paw” version. – not that he will ever go to war – unless it is food wars!   We finally left the Merc at the Aged P’s and were able to drive together and share the driving.

Since we started our full time motor homing, our last/first stay on leaving and entering the UK is the wonderful home of Jimmy, Ian (and Nicky) Read in Runderful Rustington by the sea. The great neighbours move their vehicles onto the road so we can straddle both drives.  Jimmy and Oscar posed for photos and Ruth and Brain joined us for supper (Nicky’s parents). We managed (without too much difficulty) to quaff (another wonderful word) some x bottles of ‘vino somnoque’.

We are fast approaching 500 days on the road, reader…. stick with us as we approach the next milestone!  

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 Oscar told to sit and wait for the photo … and so did Jimmy 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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