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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762-778: Meetings Up and Sortings Out

762 – Thursday 29th June 2017:  Dan the Man

Tesco in Perth – we stocked up on the essentials….. gin and tonix, etc.

Dan the man greeted us at a wilding site on the shores of Lochwinnoch – excellent wine and food – classic rock and soul music….. another lovely evening with Dan. He showed off his new Rapido.  The  Kwalking was very wet, but that’s Scotland the Brave for you…  

 

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763 – Friday 30th June:  Driving, Driving and more Driving

Down to just S of Birmingham to a National Trust wood carpark after a detour to avoid slow M6 traffic  … why detour to avoid holdups always seem to take longer than seeing it through?

Stop at Cranston’s Food hall just off M6 in Lakes…  I used to order online … amazing meat and deli.

It was a semi peaceful night as boom boxes and kids in cars, but harmless.

764-766 – Saturday 1st to Monday 3rd July:  Bristol Blessings

We are using a new to us Camping and Motorhome Club CL at Aust …  recommended by fellow motorhome bloggers … https://thewanderlings2013.wordpress.com.  Roland is published author – if you like thrillers, check out his books.

A fair amount of socialising for the next couple of days … We attended a Saturday afternoon rock theme garden party in Bradley Stoke.  Had a Sunday pm supper at pub with S&K, followed by interesting cheese, including Gouda with pesto and Pine nuts and Goats cheese Brie from Cranston’s. Then on Monday we were Double Dating … K lunch with Thelma and J lunch with Sylvie and then onto repairs in FLT … moving onto Alison’s for a yummy roast chicken dinner.  Slept kerbside outside her house.

767-771 – Tuesday 4th to Saturday 8th July :  Farnham Frolics

Tuesday:  slight detour to fetch J’s hat from Stephen’s car, then up to Coxbridge Farm, our usual CL in Farnham, Surrey.  

Independence day BBQ:  Aged P’s delivered car and eBay 4th July paper plates and table cloth – my £8 festivity spend, compared to Brad’s tales of what people spend to decorate interiors of marquees … his holiday job is erecting and dismantling massive marquees.   Mutt finished my Harvey’s Bristol Cream and Clare the Number 43 …

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Bradi (Brad and Madi) wearing matching shoes … so well suited!

Wednesday:  Hinton Ampner Aged P’s picnic … left overs from BBQ so very easy.  Mature planing and harmonious house as last owner removed his father’s Victorian decor and reinstated the Georgian.  Supper was left overs too – cheese and salad.

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Hinton Ampner National Trust.

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Mature Planting …Oh No, that’s another photo!

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This is Mature planting!

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A perfect picnic spot – under a tree. 

Thursday:  K took Bradi (Madi and Brad) to Gatwick .. Naples.  Just on M23 and a call to say she’d left all the docs in my car!  A 20 min turn aorund to reach a motorway junction.  She apparently left them in a taxi too when changing hotels!  Bear in mind this is the girl who took charge when we did a fleeting trip to Spain a few years ago and I put the passports down in the airport!  J’s driving license application has been returned for the second time …. another doctor error!  So J delivered the papers to the surgery in the hope of collecting them this afternoon … not to be, they will be ready tomorrow.

Friday:  J drove Jez back to Bristol to the dealer, as they wanted the auto electrician to check the wiring to make sure the reason the rear view camera blows a fuse was nothing to do with the post build motorhome wiring.  So Jez was there for all of 10 mins, before he turned around and came back to Farnham.  I grabbed the opportunity to go to RHS Wisley with Mum, who is a member.  Wisley is the reason I am often left disappointed with other Botanical Gardens … it is just vast, varied and stunning.  Knowing it so well, Mutt guided me around her favourite areas for this time of year.   A couple of morning phone calls to chase up the DVLA medical form … the office staff were very helpful in that they kept nudging the Doctor … it was ready to pick up at 2.30 and was in the post back to the DVLA by 3.00!  But now we have another 2-3 weeks for the DVLA medical team to scan the form onto the system before they even start analysing it!  Ho hum.

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RHS Wisley:  3 of the Famous Five.

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Young planting – The Bowes Lyon Rose Garden.

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A small part of the best rockery, I’ve ever seen.

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Saturday:  Train up to London for lunch with Simon and Ai in a dog friendly pub.  any likeness between father and son? Not sure….

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772-776 – Sunday 9th to Thursday 13th July: Cotswold Capers

“Adventure before Dementia” is Frances and Edward’s van logo – excellent.  We met at a CS site near Moreton -in- Marsh – the only vans there – really quiet – we supped well and dined with BBQ and haute cuisine.  We toured Batsford Arboretum and the local market – Frances and K were drawn to the local gin stall – and cheese. Any changes here?

The brewery tour was the best we’ve had – all original machinery and an excellent guide.  Lunch –  massive sandwiches with Hook Norton beer at a pub where the original dray cart and horses were making a delivery.

A short four days before we parted – to meet again in September, hopefully.  

 

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The Brewery still has the the steam engine (powered by oil and now electric) machinery in place and working.

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This is where the rye is ground.

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777-778 – Friday 14th July to Saturday 15th July:  Maddy Munchkin Moments

Bradi over Friday and invited themselves to our BBQ on Saturday.  Ty for Limoncello from Sorento.  Odd jobs, including a wild abuse of the Aged P’s washing machine, they’re in France (again) so we do not have to book machine time with them!  A few more items in and out of the attic.  And a shopping trip to Guildford … new pillow £60!  

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It was half price!

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Oscar was given all these treats … not to be consumed all at once!

Jez was delivered at 7.00 (we were earlier than the rush hour traffic!) to Guildford’s Fiat Professional to have the wiring issue for the rear view camera sorted.  When they plumbed in the diagnostic computer, they identified that we’d missed a few recalls, which they sorted.  Wiring not down to Fiat after all, but thankfully the motorhome dealer agreed to pay Fiat to do a bypass fix so that our camera works.  Impressed with Fiat Guildford and again with Family Travel Centre.

Jez’s V5 has arrived with the new reg; we put the private plate on Jez which has been on retention since we changed motorhome … as we’d bought Jez on one day and travelled to France the next day, we’d had no time to sort this.  But the good news is …. we can travel to France on Monday 17th …  won’t have to delay our departure whilst we wait for it to turn up … if only J’s driving license were as quick!

 

Oscar’s Diary.

Here I am again, then (Panto line?).  Now England is like Scotland – but with too many people – probably the correct number of K9s, though.  My owners are progressing quite well with their training – I give them treats to encourage the little blighters – gin always works!   I went along with the Arboretum, market and brewery fandangos (guess who gets to stay in the van – moi!!!).  I suppose if I went out galivanting and they stayed – they would get up to no good – I know when they have that ’certain’ look in their eyes… but that’s for after the watershed – I know young folk read my diary.  

Well, before you could say “Nuclefuchen” (more of that later – and it’s not a swear word), we were in La Belle France…. after the usual GB motorway madness.

To my intimate surprise, Kensie was waiting for me – oh and Robin too…  Well, Missie was in fine form – inviting me in for a snog – but ‘Great Balls of Fire’ – I discovered ‘earwigging’ was just the ticket!!!  No, I was not snogging Robin’s ears!   Kensie and I  got along fine.. – she doesn’t have ear wax – unlike James…

The “Nuclefuchen” is a word we saw on a German caravenette (old fashioned for motorhome). It means “I want to snog your knuckle” – strange habits in Deutschland.  I’ll stick with Kensiearsnogsland. (En route from Ecosse – I’m well into the old Franglais now – we passed “Eclefeckin” which is Gallic for snogyerecclecakes, I think.

Me brain is steaming – I’m off to whisper in James’ ear – “aves vous mon dejeuner, sil vous plait, Monsieur Jacques”

Adieu, mon amis, for now…..

Whew…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

679-693: Travelling North and the First Birthday Party

A very late post …. lost our internet 10 days short of returning to the UK and then, somehow, we’ve been amazingly busy!

679 – Wednesday 5th April 2017:  Driving Day

We hadn’t driven all day – since we flitted from Portugal to Nice…. 8 hours travelling – and a nice aire in Cusiance – near where we had stayed before on our way home, this time last year.  Met a motorhome neighbour….  Now, when a young lady meets a nice Swedish man – what does she say, eh?  Obviously – in fluent Swedish – “I’m drunk and I love you”!!!  K seemed taken aback when his hands suddenly became more tactile…. and her Swedish wasn’t that fluent, either… I wasn’t impressed.  Perhaps, that’s the direct line Oscar should try with Kensey?  K’s excuse was that she learned it from some sailors?  I wanted a Harry Potter wand – to turn the Swedish man into – a tartcitron with extra mushypeas – deepfried!  

A quiet night…..

680 – Thursday 6th April:  Langres

Driving for a few hours, we stopped for lunch at an aire in Langres…  A Dutch van parked alongside us (a bit close) – they appeared tone a bit taciturn….  However, quite understandably so – when we saw they unloaded a completely shredded rear tyre – and the chap closely inspected their spare which he had fitted. We picked up some of the local cheese – orange skin  and the lady in the shop gave me some paper bags so it could breathe … nice.

We walked the walls around the town and thought it a pleasant town.  We drove on a France Passion vineyard … with views over fields, including one with Llamas, one sheep and one goat!  Peaceful and on an Oscar walk, I discovered that the town housed the country retreat and museum to Charles de Gaulle.

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With M. Didier – something to do with encyclopedias.

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All that remains of the funicular, as Langres is built on a rocky promontory.

681 – Friday 7th April:  Vet Day

We contemplated visiting the de Gaulle museum etc, but at EUR16 and with limited time to us, we declined.  Met Robyn and Kensey in a car park very close to the centre of Troyes.  We wandered and imbibed several glasses of Chablis with Robyn.  Oscar had his first visit with a non-English vet.  A thorough examination and prescribed the worming tablets required for the pet passport.  My vet had said that he should not have a certain type as they contained a medicine already in his Advantix or Advocate …. I tried to get the vet to give him Droncit, which I knew was OK, but no go.  Fortunately he gave me the tablets to give to Oscar with food later that evening.  Completely against the rules, but I was able to ring my UK vet practice and verify if this particular tablet was OK for him to take.

Robyn had identified a Sport Centre parking just on the outside of Troyes, which was a lot quieter than the city centre car park would have been on a party night.

 

682-683 – Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th:  Moving North – Another Shangri-La 

Robyn, again identified another superb aire at Mareuil le Port.  Not on most of the apps, just as well or it would have been over run!  A park next to the river.  The motorhome bays had their own water and concrtete patio area.  As well as electric for those of us that parked where it worked.  So lovely we decided to stay two nights – Robyn longer.  Robyn started hand washing, so I got the old twin tub out and was guilted into doing a load of ours too.  Perfect sunshine and a gentle breeze for drying the washing and us being outside pretty much all the time.  J lost a bet over when the Sicilian earthquake devastated the SE corner … 1693 is now engrained on his memory!  Consequece for J was to get the ladder out and clean the road kill on the from to Robyn’s van!  We had a ‘slight’ incident where I slammed j’s hand in Jez’s door.  Bearing in mind we have to really REALLY slam it, I was convinced all the bones in his fingers were crushed to a powder.  The neighbouring French motorhomers shot out with some magic Arnica cream and J did not have bruising or swelling.  I’ve bought some now, for the next time I try to damage him!  BBQ both nights.

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Foot care! 

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Amazing Pitches.

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Kensey basking in the sun.  Oscar finds the shade … they are so incompatible!

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Pilates class … who is absent?  That would be the photographer!  Oscar tied up or he would try to join in ….

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… he seemed to derive much enjoyment just watching … little perv!

684 – Monday 10th: Bergues for an Overnight

A longish drive up north and we overnighted at Bergues, just 35 mins from the Tunnel.  Far enough away from trouble and really quiet.  I took Oscar for a walk around the Vauban fort and walls and then into the town centre.  Being British, I was all bagged up to poop scoop by one of the outer paths, to be told, most insistently, by locals that it really was not necessary to pick up not in towns.  J struck up a conversation with our Belgian neighbour who told him that he had fought in the war and was on his way Normandy in his motorhome to meet up with some surviving members of his regiment.  Just how old would this have made him?  Almost 90 at least!

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Bergues.

685 – Tuesday 11th:  Back to Blighty and with the Reads

Early for our tunnel crossing as slightly anxious about how long the Pet Reception area would take.  In the event, it was super quick and we caught an earlier train.  We did not experience the sinking feeling we had this time last year … the sun shone and the M25 behaved!!!!  We parked up straddling Ian and his neighbour’s drive (they kindly move out and we pay motorhome parking rent in the form of a bottle of whence became).  A great evening, only marred by the fact that Nicky’s father really was not well.  Got to watch Robot Wars with Jimmy …. forgot how much I used to enjoy it.  

686 – Wednesday 12th:  Sinead and Shane

Ian and Jimmy were off to Barcelona the next day, so we took Jimmy for a blowy walk along the sea shore and for a muffin and hot chocolate in Rusty … Ian could pack and still deal with work (he works from home).  We then legged it to Farnham to Coxbridge Farm, where we stay near my family home.  We collected the car from the Aged P’s on the way and then battled our way up the M3, M25 and cut across W London to Ealing.  It all felt incredibly built up and busy.  just where do all these people come from?  Our destination was to dine with J’s baby daughter and partner, Shane in their new flat.  

687 – Thursday 13th:  Supper with the Aged P’s

We sorted out the rest of the garage and lugged a LOT of stuff back over to the Aged P’s for storage in their attic.  We now have room for the bikes 🙂  It will be interesting to see how oscar copes with us on bikes!  The former Welshie, Will, knew to avoid wheels and when I called him to heel, would run around the back of my bike and trot along bedside my left foot.  Somehow, I am in no doubt, that Oscar is not going to be so bike friendly.

I cooked at Rothbury for the Aged P’s and since we were sampling the Portuguese Moscatel that I’d squirrelled away (had buried it deep in the garage so we were not tempted to drink it when our own supplies ran out) and the Rasteau from the France Passion Cotes de Rhone vineyard we’d stayed on, we stayed the night.

688 – Friday 14th:  Supper with Caroline and Terry

Another boozy night with food away!   It started with a bottle of proper Champagne to celebrate J’s forthcoming BIG birthday.  We started the night here too!

Their No. 1 Daughter is Maddy’s bestie and they had news of the intimidation and bullying that goes on for freshers on the Uni Hockey Tour to Croatia.  She had been forced to eat and drink all sorts of obnoxious concoctions, including the pee of one of the lads …. Just horrid.  Given how much anti bullying education goes on in school, it is just incredible that they are all too intimidated to speak up.

689 – Saturday 15th:  Meeting the NEW Boyfriend

Maddy (she now spells her name Madi) and Brad came to supper.  Their friends have dubbed them Bradi!  We really liked him.  They’ve known each other a few years and he seems to have the measure of how she will wind him up when she’s bored!

690 – Sunday 16th:  Cooking and a Turkey Easter Supper

I spent most of the day food prepping at the Aged P’s.  So that I could use her kitchen, Mutt moved her food prep to Clare and Chris’ house.  Cx2 have, for the second Easter running, been tow path support crew for Louis who was competing in the Devizes to Westminster rowing race.  The competitors have to camp and prepare their own food in the evening.  The support crews, literally wedge food in them as they pass by, but it means very early starts and a lot of driving.  Hence Mutt cooking an Easter meal at Clare’s.  J and I have not had a proper turkey dinner for 2.5 years … just scummy.

691 – Monday 17th:  BIG Party No.1

We had a great evening with some England based friends for the first of J’s 70th birthday parties.  The raffle, where you can steal what someone else has was fun … with people hunting down the whisky, port and the camper van mug.  The BBQ sauce bottle nearly ended up with Clare – she did keep offering it around.  Madly, so busy I forgot to take any pix. 😦

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Besties Maddy and Dayna – besties and their youthful mothers!

Frances and Edward gave J two hedgehogs … we named the Van Jez, which is Slovenian for Hedgehog (so named after it’s brand Adria Sonic Supreme – Sonic the hedgehog.  We’ve named these two Jez and Belle … Jezebel.

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Jezebel.

692 – Tuesday 18th: Cleaning

Thank goodness for dishwashers!  And I had forgotten (put it from my mind) how long it takes to clean a proper house, and we only cleaned a few rooms!  Think we’ll stick with a motorhome.  No garden either!!!

693 – Wednesday 19th:  Warranty Work

Our list of Jez faults, included a dodgy step, no hob ignition, a leaking kitchen sink, no rear view / reversing camera and some smaller items such as bits of trim falling off.  An early start and down to Family Tavel Centre in Bristol for the repairs.  Nearly all completed and at no charge :).  Having walked Oscar in Stoke Park for the best part of 2 hours, we left him in the car whilst we shopped till J dropped!  I then carried on – buying something pretty much from each floor in John Lewis!

Then over to Stephen and Kay for a lovely tapas / grazing supper.  They are really pleased with their new motorhome – an 8m AutoTrail …. I have storage envy!  

We had booked to stay in Bristol for a few days, but the doctor had rearranged J’s over 70 DVLA for tomorrow and I was off on a TRIP!  Barcelona with Maddy – Ola!

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Stoke Park with the Dower House in the distance … we lived next to it for 3 months.

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Pleased to be back in time for the bluebells.

 

 

 

 

 

505-512: Jez – The New Motorhome

505-509 – Friday 14th to Tuesday 18th October 2016:  Friends on the South Coast

Not a lot to report, other than we heard that some friends were in the area, so we met up with them for a meal on Saturday and a coffee on Sunday.  As you can image, it was pretty boozy, and fortunately Oscar was allowed in their hotel bar and restaurant, the staff having taken a bit of a shine to him.  

We’d started to plan (well, think about) moving all our stuff into the new motorhome, so we’d booked a few nights at Coxbridge Farm near Farnham.  This is near my Aged P’s house, or more precisely, their attic!  They weren’t in residence again … being on holiday!  We sorted a LOAD of stuff that we really did not need and shifted it in … we tidied up the attic a little so it does not look like we’ve added to it  … much!

510:  Wednesday 19th October 2016:  Chepstow and Dentist

J had booked a dental checkup so we drove across one of the Bridges he used to run (he still dreams about work sometimes.  I was less concerned about part of the latest dream where a woman took his desk wearing a pin stripe suit, and more concerned about the other colleague who wore nothing but a pair of red knickers!!!).  J’s pearly whites had a check up and polish … by a female Dentist (no idea as to the colour of her knickers!), I took Oscar for a walk … and came back laden with large storage boxes.  Fortunately someone took pity on me carrying this large and heavy load and being simultaneously towed by Oscar and took the boxes for the last leg .. they refused to be hauled along by Oscar!

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Chepstow Castle – Leaves here just starting to turn.

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511 – Thursday 20th October 2016:  Packing Up

We put just about everything into bags to lift easily into the new van or into the large storage boxes to go in the garage.  We were not sure how much storage space Jez has compared to Chardonnay … but most of it is in the garage and we have just about filled every spare inch in Chard over the 4.5 years we’ve had her.  Will it all fit?

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Don’t quite know what the other people on the site thought was going on … lots more still inside!

J had a brainwave.  He rang the motorhome dealer and asked it we could gain access to the garage towards the end of the day, so we could load up the boxes, twin tub, BBQs etc.  We had a bit of a wait whilst the cleaning was finished off … but it did mean I should have been able to sleep.  I’d been having the odd ‘unsettled’ night worrying about where AND IF all our stuff would go in.   We filled the garage .. a few inches to spare.  really lovely to have a good poke over our new home.  Then Stephen and Kay fed us … I was just delighted not to have to cook as a tad weary, but S is an amazing cook and always gets St Agur in for me …. my fav.  Don’t know if it was the wine, cheese or excitement, but I snored and was then awake from 2.00 … head spinning despite the garage being loaded.

512 – Friday 21st October 2016:  JEZ Day

We arrived before the dealer opened … all keen and eager.  The hand over complete we spent another couple of hours trying to stuff our belongings into unfamiliar places … I moved houses 5 times in 5 years at one point, so became a past master, but this was different.  We had to get on the road to meet Maddy in Canterbury – her father was driving her home for the weekend at 6.00, if not before.  We ended up just throwing bags and kit on the bed and the the floor.  We couldn’t tell if the rattles were the van or our stuff.  

Stephen and Kay came to have a look at Jez at the dealer and brought a soft dog crate for us.  I’d been trying to buy one from shops as we were too short of time to have one delivered … Thank you.

We met up with Maddy for all of 30 mins at Cobham services as we travelled in opposite directions … at least I got a squidge with her, as I shan’t see her now until December.  The most excellent Canterbury aire was our overnight stop.  For tomorrow we cross to France … only a month and a half later than originally envisaged … a new dog and motorhome having delayed us … but worth it.

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The old and new … Chard served us well.

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The proud new owners.  TY Kay for the pic.

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Flowers from the dealer, along with a lovely bottle of Fizz.  Improvised vase … I was a Girl Guide until I was chucked out!

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Kay, this one’s for you … so J can get outside at night to water the trees, we lower the table and Oscar hops up into his new bed.  He took to it really quickly, although we’ve not shut him in it at this point.


For the Motorhomers amongst you, or those just interested …. reflections of our Adrian Sonic Supreme I 170 SBC

PLUSSES:

  • Jez is a totally different beast to Chardonnay.  He is an A Class, which means he is built totally as a motorhome, not on the back of a Fiat van.  
  • He is fully winterised … with a double floor, which acts as good insulation.  Even the garage is heated.  The heating is pretty much the same as Chardonnay Alde radiators, but we now have underfloor heating too. Lovely under the tootsies and Oscar seems to find the best spots.
  • He is a little wider (Jez, not Oscar!), and we notice it particularly inside, as we have more room to pass each other, but possibly less fun as we got accustomed to a pat on the bum. 
  • Driving is a much more stable ride with much fewer rattles.  The engine is a 3ltr Fiat Iveco; a truck engine, so it should have fewer issues than a Fiat Euro 5 and is is chain driven so no expensive cam belt changes.  
  • There is one can door for the passenger and the habitation door is on the European side.  
  • Our insurers insisted on both an alarm (with motion sensor, which can be disabled) and a tracker.   
  • No microwave, but I only ever used to use it for storage.  Toilet, hob and F/F are Dometic, which is better quality than Thetford.  
  • The control panel tells you everything:  inside and outside temperature, voltage and % charge of both leisure batteries and engine, fresh and grey water %.  And huge LPG bottles.
  • 140 ltr of fresh water.  So far we’ve used it for 6 days, and only filled then as we were on a site.  So good to be able to dispense with bottles and containers to supplement our supplies in Chardonnay.
  • Driver and passenger seat are a LOT more comfortable … with a lot more adjustments. I don’t climb out of the cab and spend 5 mins trying to walk normally.  They even have weight sensors to work out how much damping they need to do.
  • We have a large double island bed at the back, and a drop down bed over the cab.  When this is down, the table and bench seat are still usable.  Kerstin, who tested the over cab bed said it is firm but comfortable … she managed to stay there till 9.00 ish most mornings.
  • The bottom half of the main bed lifts electronically and lifts a hanging rail.  It also gives access to a large well for all our shoes and boots.
  • The table moves out, up / down and swivels (not sure why the last is needed, but, we may find a reason for it).
  • Sitting at the table is a lot more comfortable, as it is closer to you, so we’ve ben able to dispose (the Aged P’s attic again) of some cushions we used to use to prop ourselves up to prevent back ache and tennis elbow flare ups.
  • Extractor fan
  • We’ve had a whopping solar panel put on, along with a 1400 watt sine wave invertor and two Gel batteries (slow to charge but slow to go and no acid burns should we crash!)
  • 4 holes in the floor for additional storage, some are quite large.  If we’d not put the carpets in the Attic, they would have been concealed, but then what a lot of inaccessible space. 
  • The bathroom can be shut off from the living area and the bedroom, so a guest can reach it without having to walk past us (Chard had a rear bathroom).
  • Kitchen drawers, including a pan drawer and another deep one for tins / herbs etc.  Much better than the revolving stand, I had before, where things fell off the back.  Oh, and they are all soft close.
  • LOTS of LED lights, so much brighter at night.
  • And of course the really solid build quality. 

THINGS WE MIGHT CHANGE / IMPROVE:

  • The bedside and under bed wardrobes are not full length so long skirts, dresses and trousers get a bit scrunched.
  • The hab door needs a really hard slam to shut it.
  • The BIG one is that we’d wanted a bike rack on the rear wall.  Adria designed the van with the intention that the garage is used for this, so built a ‘floating’ wall, which is not compatible with a bike rack.  As we have filled the garage, we had to leave the bikes in my sister’s garage and the bike helmets and kit in … the Aged P’s attic.
  • Would have liked more kitchen work space … but then this is a common complaint unless you go for a really looong motorhome.  And our draining board has to sit over the closed hob, whereas there was room for it in Chadonnay with the hob in use.
  • Getting use to the changes of floor level from the washroom to the bedroom.
  • There is a lot of white / off white faux leather … which is unlikely to stay its original colour.  Despite the throws over all the seats, we already have ‘christened’ them with red wine!  The table is white and high gloss … Oscar’s crate is here overnight, so we’ve covered this too.
  • The lounge area over window lockers are pretty big up … at almost 5’8”, I can just reach in most, otherwise I have to stand on the seat.  And before you remind me Mum, I know I’d shrunk half a cm last time Dad measured me!
  • Most of the light topologies work from a switch by the door … the parallel rows in the living area are only touch sensitive.  There are 6 of them, which is a bit of a pain to have to ‘touch’ them off individually.
  • As the bed is high, it is closer to the wall cupboards and there is insufficient room to sit up in bed to read with a morning cuppa.

It’s in Danish, but this YouTube the same model as Jez…