Scotland and some Wierd Pronounciations

1647-1648:  Busy with Electrics & Admin

 Monday 7th to Wednesday 9th September 2020

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

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

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

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

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Start of the walk to St Abbs overlooking Coldingham beach.

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


1649-1650:  Hawick and the Devil’s Porridge

Thursday 10th – Friday 11th September

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

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

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

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

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

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

1651:  Caerlaverock Castle & a Non Rugby Game

Saturday 12th September

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

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

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So they built this.  Photo taken from the path!

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

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

1652:  Sweetheart Abbey and Kircudbright

Sunday 13th September

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

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

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

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A lovely stretch of coastline.

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

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

 

1653:  Via Wigtown and the Isle of Whithorn

Monday 14th September

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

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

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Whitehorn.


1654: Mull & Forest of Galloway

Tuesday 15th September

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

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

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

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

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But lovely views over the lake. 

1655: A Decent Wool Shop and Near Melrose

Wednesday 16th September

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

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

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Our peaceful over night stop.

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The statue is 9.4m high.

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

 

 

1656-1660: Kelso Meet

Thursday 17th to Monday 21st September

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

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Kelso Abbey.

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Floors Castle with it’s turrets.

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Giant veg at Floors.

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The longer than planned walk with Meg.

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Which brought us back along the River Teviot.

1661-62: Another Chicken Parmesan!

Tuesday 22nd to Wednesday 23rd September

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

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Incorrect spelling though … but a lovely pub.

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

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

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And no messing with his first frozen kong.

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


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




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

757-761 : Orkney Part 2

We have got so far behind with our posting … Blame it on the Boogie!

757 – Saturday 24th June 2017:  Trying to Shelter from the Wind

Fond farewell to our lovely friends at the Ness Meet – “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but….”

The wind was – Scottish islands quality….. robust – which means rather strong!  We manoeuvred Jez for a better angle, and slept. The wind had abated during the night and we set sail towards Loons Hide. We didn’t see lots but plenty of birds and waders – we managed to catch one in flight – a seabird/Common Gull?  The remarkable thing is – several pairs of expensive binoculars on the desk – not chained down and an open door. Could that happen in the south of England – no. But I’m being hard – there are many more millions of people down south…and it is our ‘home, generally. 

Warwick Head was even more robust in the wind so – walking aborted after J blown against the barbed wire fence and we all risked a sudden decent over the cliff edge.  Nanny naps much needed after the recent festivities….

Overnight at the Sands of Alikeness overlooking the Isle of Rousay – lovely…

 

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Loons Hide:  Others had told us they’d seen otters … we just saw common birds, like gulls, ducks and coots …. but it was very windy.  The hide was furnished with not only bird and flower books, but a couple of binoculars, which were not even chained down.  What a different world we live in up here.

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Marwick Head:  the pic does NOT show how windy it was.  We were OK until we started up the cliffs at the far end of the bay … J was blown onto barbed wire and my flared jeans acted like sails so I had no idea where each foot would land.  We aborted a fair way up. The dot on the hill top is the Kitchener Monument.  Despite high seas, Kitchener and hundreds of sailors set sail with a hold full of gold bullion to bribe the Russians to stay in the war.  The ship founded here and Kitchener and 600+ men died.  The gold was not recovered (!).  Although Kitchener was popular with the masses, he was a bit of a sod … he created concentration camps in the Boer War and was harsh in Ireland following the 1916 Uprising.  Local Orkadians put up this monument.

758 – Sunday 25th June 2017:  Geo Birdsong

A slow morning start – Mull Head walk – rain/sun – amazing echoing birdsong and steep gorges.

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The Gloop:  a sea cave that caved in … pix does not show how long it is.

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More sea stacks and a great coastline on our often very wet walk.

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We hoovered over this geo (natural chasm in the cliff) as it was sheltered from the wind and the sound of the nesting birds echoed up to us.  Quite magical.

759 – Monday 26th June 2017:  Sitting Pretty

We had planned to sail to Hoy for one day but – our spot was so pretty and sun shining that – we stayed put for a whole day – what luxury….

The “K” factor produced fresh fish for supper… her dog walking explored some Viking remains – real human bones – she resisted giving Oscar some bones to chew on!!! 

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I got to sit and knit as we’ve been too busy … and the sun came out to I even divested one of my many layers.

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I blagged a cod and small haddock from a fisherman, he refused to take any payment, but seemed surprised I was happy to gut myself.

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Guess the body part.  A local dog walker told us that there was Viking mound, remains of a monastery with its cemetery slipping into the sea at the other end of the beach.  I was going to bring a fibia (Ithink) back to James but Oscar seemed to think it was a stick for him … seemed wrong somehow to allow Oscar to play with a person’s bones, so I left it behind.  Think J was relieved.

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Northern Lighthouse staff had commissioned this boat to take them out to and island to service the lighthouse.  The boat’s alternator failed and they had to get a tow back to the mainland from a passing leisure craft.  Whilst they tied to get the motor going they did not notice the tide going out … there was no way they could get the boat up onto the trailer and the van’s real wheels were just spinning.  About 6 hours later the tide was back in enough for the boat to float and the poor chaps got off … we did offer them a drink.P1140536

Whilst the stranded boat waited, we BBQ’d.

760 – Tuesday 27th June 2017:  In Search of Wool and Washing

St Margarets Hope village is pretty but the wool K wanted was too expensive. Campsite back at Stronmess again – oven baked cod, washing and cleaning. 

761 – Wednesday 28th June 2017:  Starting the Journey South

Huge sadness at leaving the Islands but – “haste ye back”… and we definitely will return… and do some island hopping.

Arrived at the ferry to find that our booking was for tomorrow – ooops! (K:  And I pride myself on my organisation!)  But they were not busy, fortunately.  When our friends left on Monday the 1.5 hour trip took 3.5 gale force hours!  Pancake flat for us 🙂

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Sromness with Hoy in the background.

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The Point of Ness Campsite.

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The ferry passed the Old Man of Hoy.  We will definitely do some island hopping when we have more time.

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Huge hand dived scallops with the small haddock …

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… served with Stornaway black pudding, bacon, onion & cabbage mash and a sherry sauce.  Neither if us managed to finish ours … such a shame.

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Margaret and Shirley – do you recognise this?  We stayed at the RSPB Loch of the Lowes.  There was a beaver talk and apparently an obliging beaver swam past the group.  

 

746-751: Lewis, Harris and onto Brin

746 – Sunday 11th June 2017:  Dead ‘Ard in Uig 

Aird Uig campsite – managed by Finn – we conversed in a mixture of Gallic and Gaeilge ! We also talked about 1960s music – Bob Dylan et al – top man – he only charged us £10 per night instead of £15!!!  (K:  Being of a certain vintage and Irish has some benefits!)  Walked to Gallan Head – cafe unmanned – with honesty box… we are truly in God’s country…

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Over 200 service men stationed here during WWII.  The RAF left in the 1960’s and some of the buildings have now been bought and turned into small houses.  The Head was recently bought by the community who want to preserve it and make it more accessible.

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746 – Monday 12th June:  Valtos and Reef Beaches

Slightly later start to Monday – a good brisk walk to Valtos village and Reef Beach – showers in Jez and BBQ – a good life (again) ?

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Reef beach – the campsite is in the dunes just off to the right.  Completely made up of shells and Oscar and I collected some, including some unusual small bright pink ones.

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Valtos beach – all white sand here.

747 – Tuesday 13th June:  Back into Harris and Distillery

Why do ginstilleries draw us inexorably? Harris gin distillery visit in Tarbert – tours all booked up but a nice tasting and appropriate purchase, of course…. Seaweed is used as a botanical but K used a pink grapefruit instead.  Jez was pointed to a nice small overnight beach spot near the Sealam Museum Centre – another quiet evening…

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Our overnight at the edge of a slipway … busy with people collecting rope and wood, presumably to decorate their gardens.  K had a good chat with a local artist, wife and two small girls.  They try to grow their own food as much as possible but the winter winds kill their crops and they’re thinking about home ed. for the girls.  

748 – Wednesday 14th June:  Inclement in St Clemments

Sealam Centre – lots of information about families who emigrated to Canada, USA and Australia the – dreaded ‘clearances’. The town of Leverburgh brought rain and we considered a pub lunch but not at £15 per head, just for J’s scampi! It hd been recommended to us, but must have been an ‘ on-budget’ day!

Coming up to the east coast of Harris, called the Bays, the scenery changed to rocky and barren – not unlike Connemara – evidence of more ‘clearances’ people forced off their land to here to make way for landlords with large profitable sheep farms – fishing was an extra income option but it was barely subsistence living – and then the potato blight arrived to force more emigration – so Ireland wasn’t  the only country to suffer…  

Full wet weather gear on to give O a quick walk and visit St Clement’s Church in Rodel – 1520’s

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Stairs up so far in the tower, but the final level is only accused by a step ladder, which was missing.  Not that the views would’ve been much in the rain.

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Lots of tombs to the MacLeod clan.

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 St Clement’s church graveyard contained a headstone marking the last resting place of Mary MacLeod who asked to be buried face down – ’to stop her lying mouth’ – why?   And only aged 16!

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Unfertile rocky land where families tried to scratch a living.  This side of S Harris is now more notably home to artists and craftsmen.

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748 – Thursday 15th June:  Back to the Mainland

Back to Skye across the Kyle of Lochaish Bridge – CL on the west bank of Loch Ness – services complete before a Wildcamping meet near inverness. Excellent morning run to a waterfall…. 

 

749-751 – Friday 16th-Sunday 18th June:  Brin Motorhome Meet

Shopping in Inverness and then to Brin motorhome meet – lots of old friends including Shirley, Margaret, Poppy and Boo…. Escoffier evening – top food – campfire late into the evening/early morning – K managed to stay late-ish……

Weekend pilates for K and both Margarets – and running.  A group of us walked uphill (a lot) to meet our group from the other direction at the halfway point.  Evening saw food and music – harpist and Adrian from Holland playing Scottish bagpipes – and the combo of moi, Shirley and Margaret singing along to some old classics – my chords were OK after a 50 year absence form the guitar!  Another ‘late’ night…. (K:  Funnily enough, J seemed to slope off before me!)

Lunch at the Dore’s Inn – Scampi and chips for me and soup for K, followed by most excellent puds.  K and Shirley walked to Flichty House to check out brother Tim’s garden – impressive.  A lovely meet with some top people and over £800 raised for the Neil MacKenzie Trust.

As we faced a 4.5 hour drive tomorrow, west off at 5:00 pm to make most of the journey tonight – Lybster Harbour welcomed us for the night – peacefully, as always….. zzzzzs 

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Walk … clever mini bus manoevering … drop one lot of walkers at the start and the second lot at the end.  We weren’t sure if we’d been given all the uphill!

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Still going uphill as we passed the other party and remembered to hand over the mini bus keys.

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Great Views at the top and then it was finally downhill :).

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Celtic Harp came to entertain us.

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A Dutch Scottish bagpiper.

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And our very own James, Margaret and Shirley.

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Our overnight at Lybster Harbour.