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.

 

 

 




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!

855-860: Passing to a New-Union & a Re-Union

855 – Wednesday 4th October 2017:  Passing on Good Wine!

We arrived quite late to the aire at Cornas, so the designated 5 van spaces were taken – we parked separately not blocking anyone.  Grahame and Diane had suggested trying the local vino – but no!  Out of our price range…..  we walked young Oscar between the vines – and rested our bones…

856 – Thursday 5th October:  Passing through the Luberon!

Driving through the beautiful Luberon National Park, we decided to return – explore more fully and investigate property prices. Stopped at Les Mees for the stunning rock formations…

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Stunning cliffs at Les Mees.

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Stayed at Dignes Les Bains – headed for Castellane but getting late and spotted an aire sign – not the one we’d stayed at before but closer to the town centre and along the river.  We walked along the river and it’s outdoor leisure complex of a boating lake, climbing wall etc.  One young lad was exercising his dog by being towed along on a skateboard – he then got the dog to dive into the lake off a pier …  the dog was suspended mid air for a nano second with all limbs out wide.

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The path along the river has a leisure activities; this is the boating lake.  And all with great mountain views. 

857 – Friday 6th October:  The New-Union … Meeting Cian

A.M. – K ran along the river with trusty O (not towed!).  I rested and brekkied, got Jez ready to sail – a quote from “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” seems appropriate here….

“The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast – and southward aye we fled”

(not sure whose blast roared loudest – Oscar!!!)

Southward brought us swiftly to Les Maurettes campsite where we had stayed last March/April – to see Sarah, Gareth and Jade and the new addition to the family – Cian.  Lovely site but office closed until 2:00 pm – a French/German couple were quite upset at their wait for a pitch where they could get a good TV signal – he wanted French and she was German, so they were loyal to their national TV stations.  They’d spent all morning moving the van and testing out pitches!  Much easier to not have a TV on board, like us.

The site was very busy. We got our pitch OK – the choice of one!  We seemed to be the sole GB van. A lot of French and Germans with the off smattering of Scandinavians.  Over our 4 night stay, there was relatively little movement off the pitches … the weather is still warm here – low 20s and obviously people are happy to stay for a longer time on the Cote d’Azur … understandable.

Sarah and Gareth brought 12-day old Cian to meet us – my new grandson – good Irish name (Cian Healy, front row for Ireland) a perfect baby for the perfect Grandpa Pig (?).  

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Proud Grandpa Pig.

858 – Saturday 7th October:  The Re-Union … 30 Years On

K here:  As well as heading back to Antibes to meet J’s new grandson, I also had an overnight flight booked to Gatwick.  A Thames Polytechnic (Greenwich Uni, depending on whom you talk to!) Business and International Marketing reunion.  Gill lives in Twickenham and I’d reserved a bed there and used her address for some very important post.  About 2 years ago, I frugally bought an iPhone 5c with only 8GB and have regretted it ever since.  Not being able to store more than 4 photos and virtually no apps has been a real pain.  When we were home in Bristol, Kay mentioned she was thinking of replacing her iPhone 6 …. she and Stephen both like their tech and frog leap each other with the latest.  So I purchased Kay’s phone and she posted it to Gill’s.  A quick cuppa with Gill and Gordon and I was off into town to buy a protective case for it … and thence soon after I’d swapped over and downloaded apps I wanted, with still loads of space left.  Oh joy!  Other things I notice are how sensitive the keyboard is and the screen is really clear.  Loving it.

The appointed drinks time was 5.00 and we managed a couple of Aperol Spritz before catching the train into St James’ for the reunion.  Gill and Bron (sadly Al was poorly and did not make it) are ‘me old muckers’, but I’ve not seen any of the others for 30 years.  Most were instantly identifiable … but wow, the girls really have aged well.  Not even approaching middle age … any of us.  Some had brought pix and the 80’s clothes and hair styles were very Bananarama!  It was a pretty alcofrolic evening with lots of laughs … Gill and I lost track of the time and had to do a 400m sprint across the concourse at Waterloo to catch the 0046.  

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A couple of Aperol Spritz before we set off.

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And none of us have changed at all!

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Gill and Bronwen.

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Not changed … Much!

 859 – Sunday 8th October: A Return to Nice is Nice

The next morning we giggled and exclaimed our way through Gill’s photo albums.  It was wonderful to catch up with people I’ve not seen for such a long time, but reunions are pretty much about curiosity and mine has been satisfied.

My 2.00 flight was delayed an hour due to a faulty laptop … seems mad that it took an hour to replace / repair something that is essentially disposable and not part of the plane’s infrastructure.  Polite announcements from the Pilot about our patience with the delay … as if we the choice!  Lovely to arrive back just in time to see the blue skies again.  Great time, but very great to be back with my boys.  

And guess who are so glad to see you back – the Boyzzz!

 

860 – Monday 9th October:  Jobs and Antibes

We both ran down into the local park.  J managed to get lost and had to ‘ring a friend’.  K found him on the Find a Friend app and navigated him back to base.

K started to ‘laundrify’ with the onsite facility – clothes line from tree to tree, jobs done including finalising my tax return/amount owed to HMRC – not too much… then out with the e-bikes for a jaunt to Antibes.  Oscar barked a bit to begin – then the Kay-suggested covering the Os-car solution kicked in – almost silence, again.  And not a bark on the return leg.  He’s learning :).  A visit to the e-cig shop to remedy a minor issue.  Ice creams (as always) although our favourite shop was closed. 

Tomorrow – “to fresh fields and pastures new…”

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Playing with my ‘new’ iPhone 6 – loving the camera definition.

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836-848: The Longest Separation and a LOT of Charging About

836-848  – Friday 15th – Wednesday 27th September 2017:  The Longest Separation and a LOT of Charging About

I crossed back to Blighty on the 15th.  Although I’ve done it before, I was still slightly nervous about Oscar’s pet passport being in order.  I checked and rechecked the vet’s entries comparing to the previous vet’s.  No issues at all and we sailed through the process quickly.

On returning and leaving England, it is normal tradition for us to stop over to see Ian, young Jimmy and Nicky’s parents in Rustington.  However, Ruth and Brian were in Brittany visiting their other daughter, Tracy, and Ian was up in town, so not this trip.  The up side was that I booked an extra night in the Brighton campsite and spent an extra evening with Maddy, who has just moved here.  I got to see her great 2 bed flat (she’s sharing with a good friend who is at Uni there) and to wander around and SPEND in Brighton.  The flat is walking distance from the centre, so we did not have far to carry a chalk board and mirror (which I promptly smashed), as well as M’s new pre-loved clothes and my new frock and costume jewellery.  If you’ve not been to Brighton, it is buzzing place.  Drug addicts, students and Barbour jackets all rub shoulders together … it is very real.  The break a mirror and bad luck happens adage happened … all electronic.  Th sat nav lost all its maps.  The sat pad (iPad with Co-Pilot) died altogether and wanted re-initialising and the radio died.  The first two have been resolved and the radio binned.

Before J joined me I moved between Farnham (close to parents and sister), Bristol for dentist, John Lewis and e bike shop and Shropshire to drop off Christmas presents at my brother’s.

  • Teeth:  X ray and all fine – good to know as will be away, if all goes to plan, for a year.
  • John Lewis:  Purchased a few last Christmas gifts … all my Christmas shopping is done and wrapped!!!!  A chap on the escalator was moaning that it is too soon for Xmas cards and wrapping paper …I gleefully told him that some of us are all wrapped, cards written and stamped as we are off travelling.  And I pre-bought and am using my birthday / Christmas gift from the Aged P’s and a little bit from James – a GPS sports watch.  One of the really good things about it is that the time digits are really large … I no longer have to squint or reach for glasses to read the time!
  • E-Bikes:  this was phase 2 of the get Oscar about with us.  We bought the Os-car doggy trailer in Holland, but I could not get up hills towing the combined 35kgs+ of Oscar and Os-car.  Also, we want to travel a bit further when parked up.  We do not want to tow a car; a scooter is no good unless we had a side car for Oscar … and we’d both want to drive anyway … so e-bikes it is.  I’d done some research and looked at lots of forums, ordering the bikes from a shop in Bristol, who had stock and gave a decent discount.  We’ve gone for Kalkhoff Agattu …. both in matt black as no stock of the white, and I have a bigger battery to compensate for the towing.  We found time to test them for all of about 15 mins before we left for France and they really do make a difference, especially up hill when you switch to high power mode.  Setting off is assisted too.  I was a bit reluctant about cheating and loss of exercise, but everyone we’ve spoken to loves their e-bike and I think we will too.
  • I’d not seen brother Tim and Sarah for about 2.5 years, so it was good to catch him between his house parties … think modern day Downton Abbey and you have their lifestyle!  They were off to a shooting party in Yorkshire and I was given a bag of veggies from the walled kitchen garden.  They are planning a trip to the Balkans somewhere in Spring, so I hope we can meet up then.

James left Antibes on the 20th; his flight left 30 mins after his ex-wife landed … so Sarah really was not alone long should the baby have decided to make an appearance.  This is the longest by far we’ve ever been apart – 9 nights.  Boy, was it good to be back together.  However, little time to enjoy being together as more jobs to be done!  Including:

  • J’s eco cardiagram for the DVLA.  Yes, his birthday was in April, but the doctor’s two errors on the form were picked up separately and because he was identified with a heart murmur, they then wanted his heart checked out.  Anyway, the consultant said she could hardly identify the murmur and they he would have no problems with his license …. I should think not, when he is a runner!  But good to know, all the same.  Now that we are back in France, we just need to work out where to get his license posted to …. Kerstin, are you reading this???
  • Jez had his engine and habitation service – all good.
  • Fiat in Guidlford …. thrice! They’d not ordered the replacement part for the dashboard (under warranty) when it was booked in over 2 months ago, so we had to go back the morning we caught the tunnel to France … I put the crossing back a few hours and it was just as well I had, as the mechanic had out the radio back in up side down, so we had to go back again.
  • Vet for kennel cough and to stock up with a year’s supply of drugs!
  • Washing, more washing and cleaning
  • Sorting ‘stuff’ in the Aged P’s attic as a) we’ve had notice not to add to the expanding pile in case the roof comes down! and b) we wanted some of the stuff, such as Balkans guide books and winter clothes. We’re spreading our love (as one of my pilates videos says) … no, I mean, our stuff.  Our normal bikes are in Clare & Chris’ garage.
  • Weigh bridge … we need to drink the glass bottled beer and wine, eat the two massive sacks of dog food and stop stock piling tins and toothpaste!

We managed to catch up with a few people, but really only a few people.  Stephen and Kay, our old next door neighbours cooked and always delicious.  Frances and Edward to belatedly celebrate E’s special birthday, which we missed as we were on baby watch in Antibes.  And I had a great Sunday afternoon with the girls – my old muckers, and Ian and Jimmy in Twickenham.  Just not enough time.

We crossed back at 1416hrs on 27th – the next adventure begins 🙂

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Maddy tucking into a Full English (she justified it by going to the gym before) …

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… whilst I froze and wo-manfully smiled whilst she ate!  I did nick a piece of bacon.

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Moreton Corbet Castle, an extended castle and Elizabethan House which was owned by the same family who own Tim’s house … his is in slightly better nick!

 

And announcing the safe arrival of Cian Ash Weston on Sunday 24th September.

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