1889-1943: Move and Medical

Catch Up Continued .

1899 – Saturday 8th May onward:  Out of Quarantine 

Saturday 8th May

We both quite enjoyed being in the Combe Martin House despite quarantine.  Surrounded by our things and keeping busy organising, sorting and buying ‘necessary’ items online!  But it was good, really good to be heading to Rothbury, my home since aged nearly 6, but not for much longer.  

We stopped off for coffee in Taunton with fellow motorhomer Robyn.  She has re-joined the corporate world.  We spent a couple of nights with the Aged P’s as Jez was still in storage with Abacus in Andover.  Maddy cooked for us all one night; she’s turned into quite a competent cook.

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Unpacking some of my deliveries!

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Maddy bought me a Peanut Kit Kat Chunky … Mum started it, then we shared this between 4 … we ate slowly!

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I wasn’t aware Corrie needed reading glasses!

Re-acquianited with Jez – Temporarily?

We collected Jez from Abacus … he’d been cleaned and buffed.  Engine service, hab service, lots of minor repairs.  We paid, collected the keys and walked up to him.  Sense of awe at how big, particularly tall he is.  Climbed inside and thought how fab he looks.  I bombed down the motorway, enjoying driving him.  But not for long …. we’d made the decision during quarantine to sell him  Reluctantly.  Our issue is timing.  As new Greek residents, we have to be in Greece for 6 months every year.  Under Brexit, we cannot take a UK registered vehicle into the EU for more than 6 months out of 12.  The sums just didn’t compute in our favour.  No way could we import him … about 29% of purchase price AND we would never sell him in Greece as right hadn’t drive and over 3.5 ton.  Logically it made sense to sell in the UK whilst prices are buoyant.  No stock in Greece due to a luxury tax that killed the Greek motorhome market, so import from Germany.  Under 3.5 ton so J could drive and left hand drive.

Before we reloaded Jez with all our stuff on pallets in the Aged P’s garage, we took empty photos and stuck them on AutoTrader and FaceBook Marketplace.  I even did a YouTube video extolling his virtues and his few flaws!  There was some interest, but a LOT of time wasters.  We dropped the price and a chance mutual acquaintance introduced us to a lovely couple who even had a second viewing.  I know we were pitching the price high, but he carries a serious amount of equipment for off grid, security etc etc.   In the meantime, I started doing more research on costs and what we could import from Germany.  With import duties around EUR5-6k, paying an import agent, costs of visiting Germany (if possible) or buying sight unseen, then properly equipping it for off grid.  Oh, and worries about what we could carry … we’ve over 1200 tons of payload in Jez so carry serious cooking kit, 2 huge e-bikes, a doggy trailer and the twin tub.  Lin and Bo have just bought a stunning new Hymer, but won’t be able to drive with all tanks full and it will be a choice between bikes or spare wheel …. could I (me particularly) manage without all my stuff?  So with the prospect of dropping the asking price again and only being able to buy a bag of potential expensive trouble, we were starting to have doubts about selling.  Our critical time for having a motorhome is whilst we are in the UK for our normal summer UK,  Ireland and Scotland summer tour.  We have a large tent and camping kit in Crete and AirBnB do good deals out of season for touring within Greece.   So thank you Dawn and Greg for NOT buying Jez.  A huge sense of relief once we made the decision NOT to sell.  

We will have to find Gold standard storage in the UK when we return to Greece.  The insurance for both UK vehicles has also gone up as we’ve had to take out ex-Pat policies.  Very few specialist brokers.  Jez has gone from around £550 with 365 days in EU to £980 with only 6 months in EU … and they didn’t even charge me the 10% premium for sole driver!

I have to just say we feel very blest with our friends.  Lin and Bo offered us longterm storage fo our van stuff until we could return with the new van to collect it.  And Robyn offered us the use of her A class Florian to bridge the gap between selling Jez and retuning to Crete.

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A couple of the marketing pix.

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The BIG Move

The Aged P’s had been seriously drasticreducing clutter for their downsizing.  “It’s a lovely house but no storage” is now going on Mum’s gravestone!  Everytme Clare and I asked about an item, oh I sold that, or it was thrown out.  I got on the FB Marketplace game too and sold a driveway awning, Jormax panels, airbeds etc.  Clare and Chris continued their good work with sale and purchase negotiations, dump runs etc.   The Aged P’s were pleased when we took the last of our stuff down to Lin and Bo’s barn in Exmoor.

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Stuff we didn’t plan to take back to Crete when we thought we would sell Jez.

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Lin and Bo were away so we set up camp in the farm yard.

The new build house in Chichester had not been signed off and the Aged P’s couldn’t even exchange on it.  The end of June, with the stamp duty concessions, was approaching and the buyers for Rothbury would have pulled out.  So … the Aged P’s became homeless for about 10 days … could it become a family trend?  Even when they had exchanged and completed on 25th June, they couldn’t move in until the removal company had a slot to deliver the furniture.  So what do homeless folk do …. go on holiday of course!  A night in a posh hotel and then off to Northumberland.  They stayed with Clare and Chris and got the trades in to do quotes for blinds, bedroom furniture etc.  It is a lovely house and the lack of storage is being sorted!  Not enough for us to keep more than a wash kit each!  And our UK car in the ‘car barn’ … But the spare bedroom is dubbed my room and the new bed coming is referred to as mine!  So I’ve not been completely cast off!!!

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Rothbury looking rather bare.


We’ve been double jabbed and have the NHS certs to prove it.  Just got to work out how to get the UK vaccinations recognised onto the Greek health system, but that’s a problem for another time.

I had my slightly overdue woman bits checks.  Smear was all clear.  Mammogram was a call back.  I was not unduly worried as I had a call back last time for a small cyst which was syringed out.  However, this time there were small calcifications like grains of salt.  These are normally benign, BUT can be the start of cancer.  Given my best friend died at 49 from breast cancer and another bestie is going through treatment, it was a relatively tense time waiting from the biopsy result.  But it was all clear.  I am now left with a metal marker in my boob and a small scar at the site of the biopsy, but no need for extra screening.  I am very lucky.

James had another super low (perfect) PSA blood test … his prostate cancer is not showing any signs of returning and long may it remain so.  

Friends and Falling for the UK Countryside

The weather remained horrid … it affected both of us.  James never used to be affected by rain but has become more acclimatised to better climes.   Walking was a pain as CO2 had to spend a lot of time in their body bags and we felt we were constantly trying to dry clothes.  Bearing in mind, we’d left Crete thinking that we were coming to a UK summer and left most of our boots, warm and wet weather gear back in Crete!

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Grey and wet view from Jez at our usual Coxbridge Farm, Farnham site.

We found solace from the weather by eating lots … a meal out for a another belated James’ birthday celebration, dinner with Caroline and Terry, partial Girls (Al and Gill) and Mum and I fed each other a good number of times.

Whilst waiting for the BIG Move, we headed off to meet up with friends and joined a couple motorhomer.com meets.  And the weather did mostly perk up …. 

1915-1919 – Thursday 17th May to Tuesday 21st May:  Bron @ Blenheim & Littleborough

In convoy we set off for a motorhomer (aka Wildcaming.co.uk) meet in Littleborough.  En route we stopped off to see Bron, the missing ‘Girl’ who’d not joined us a week back.  We did a sneaky left the van in the free Blenheim Palace car par.  As I hopped into the Merc for the short trip to see Bron, J declared that the Merc was still playing up.  It had lost power a few days before and a local garage had cleaned a filter (£50 for cash) and assured us all was well.  It obviously wasn’t and we didn’t have faith that it would make it up to Littleborough and onward.  So we left it at local family garage patronised by Bron.  

Littleborough was great … lovely location, although busy around the lake with folk from Rochdale over the weekend.  We met up with old faces and relaxed after all our business.

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Looking back to the meet.  No rugby on but there was a cricket match.

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Hollingworth Lake.  We ran around it before the weekend crowds arrived.

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Did a couple of walks and not a lot else!

1919 – Tuesday 21st May to Thursday 3rd June:  Pately Bridge

Tuesday we shifted not too far to Pately Bridge; a Club Temporary Holiday Site.  Margaret and Shirley shifted further, down from Melrose, Scotland, via the dealer they’d just bought their big new-to-them Hymer … a couple of issues … We had 2 nights with them before they had to return to the dealer with a nasty water leak.  We ambled around, taking the dogs for walks, ate and chatted.  Just wonderful to ooze with them.  It was their wedding anniversary, so we picked up some tasty morsels from the fish shop, butcher and grocer.  A  rare good weather day had inspired us to BBQ.

We stayed on an extra night and revisited a cafe for amazing smoked salmon and cream cheese pancakes and to die for rhubarb ice cream.  We both agreed that we could have happily stayed on and explored more of the area … gentle lush scenery.  Judging by the number of walkers, good walking country too.

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Corrie,  tight rope walker, navigated the length of the wall.  Oscar would have fallen!


1922-1924 – Friday 4th to Sunday 6th June:  Overlander Show,  Surprise for Danny and an Annual Haircut

Where does all the traffic come from?  We’d thought congestion was the province of major cities and the south.  Cars and trucks everywhere, even on what should be quiet roads.  We set off for the motorhomer.com (wild camping.co.uk) area at the Overlander Show in Stratford upon Avon.  A huge number and variety of visitors staying over in their mortohomes, overlanders, conversions, converted ambulances, horse boxes etc.  We’d arranged to meet with Lisa and Danny, part of our Turkish family.  Danny had no idea we were to be there and Lisa kept him in a pub nearby until we managed to get parked up first.  We then walked back along the queuing traffic to leap out in front of their van!  They were parked up one side of us and Pat and Jim, who we met in Orkney, were the other side.  3 good nights of sharing food and wine.  

And Danny had the joy of cutting my hair … he’d cut it last in Hungary in July so it was due!  Again, a man’s optimistic view of what 6” looks like! 


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1936-1939 – 18th to 21st June:  Wet Wiltshire with More Turkish Family  David and Karen

We stayed on a 5 pitch site not far from Glastonbury … and it pretty much rained the whole time, so long walks were out of the question.  We did 3 cities in 3 days …. Glastonbury, Wells and Bath.  And frequented numerous coffee shops and pubs / restaurants.  Oh and Clarkes Shopping Outlet village.  A new pair of walking shoes for J as his existing pair were leaking, which had to be rectified given this English summer.  New tops for me and bedding for Jez.  Having made the decision to keep him, we are (or rather I am) changing the colour scheme!

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Quirky graffiti in Glastonbury.

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Glastonbury Tor.

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Well Cathedral, we didn’t go in due to the dogs … David and Karen suffered the queues.

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Vicar’s Close in Wells.

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Wells again … no pix of Bath as I think it was probably too wet to get the camera out!

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Corrie being spoilt again chez thegreygappers.com aka David and Karen aka the dog parents.

1940-1943 – 22nd to 25th June:  Burton Bradstock beach and walking

We moved south to the Dorset coast and the sun actually made brief appearances; at least the rain mostly held off.  

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Burton Bradstock beach.

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A bit up and down on the cliff walk to Bridport.  I did it alone with CO2 but when J and I walked it, we came back along the beach … but not too close to the cliff as you can see the landslip of parts of the Jurassic coast.

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Jurassic Coast.

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Camping and Caravan Club Temporary Holiday Site … plenty of space.  Jez is in the middle row left, with the car and dog beds airing on his bonnet.

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Someone on a FB group suggested a fab walk from Lyme Regis … we started with an ice cream!

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Four candles!

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We’d planned to have a cheap couple of days, but after the fabulous walk we found ourselves in one of the Burton Bradstock pubs … I had the lemon sole!

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1878-1888 You’re Evicted, Come and Get Your Stuff!

Tuesday 27th April – Saturday 8th May 2021

OK, so Im STILL playing Blog Catch Up, in a big way!

They’d discussed it, considered it and discounted it before.  So we thought leaving our stuff at the Aged P’s house was OK.  Then we got that phone call.  We’re selling and down sizing.  Please come and get your ‘stuff’.  Research and a really useful FaceBook called Group Road Trip: UK to Greece & Back and we were fairly confident on what paperwork, tests etc we needed.  Right to transit is a very powerful travel card.

On another FaceBook group someone asked about getting a dog from Crete to UK, on behalf of an elderly friend.  We offered if the dog was not too big.  It turned out to be not one but two LARGE dogs.  The owners had been on Crete for 16 happy years, but infirmity meant they could no longer cope and were relocating back to their family farm in Kent.  We agreed to transport them!  Mad!!!   So our road trip became a Canine Odyssey! 

Departure Date was booked on 27th April, so we could enjoy James’ birthday on 26th.  Just before this Karl cooked a memorable birthday meal with his signature work of art cheese board and short rib beef which was unctuous.  We officially didn’t need PCR tests as transmitting Italy, but Minoan said we did, so we had them done at 8.00 that morning.  Results back at 2.00 – first hurdle cleared.  We collected our 2 guest dogs so all 4 could get used to each other before we crammed them into Zorba the Greek car.

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Rex was a nervous dog and took a while before he’d come into the house.

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Car seats came out, giving us a flat space for the 4 dogs.  All our SCANT luggage was tied vertically to the head rests to give the dogs lying sown space.

The Route

Day 1 – 27th April:  Departure onovernight ferry from Chania to the Pireaus on Greek mainland.  

Day 2:  Driving up to Igouminitsa for a longer overnight ferry to Ancona, Italy.  

Day 3:  Arrived in Italy late afternoon so drove for a couple of hours after curfew (had a form in case we were stopped) to a pre-booked dog friendly hotel.

Day 4:  Antigen tests in Reggio Emilia and drove to another dog friendly hotel near Nancy France.

Day 5:  Up through Belgium mostly to a hotel outside Calais. Constantly checking if Antigen tests were uploaded by the lab … considered going via an airport … moved crossing and booked an extra night in Calais.  As well as being the weekend, it was also a bank holiday across most of Europe … so everywhere shut!

Day 6:  Should have caught a morning train, but antigen tests were still not available online!  Sunday … wandering the delights of Calais!

Day 7 – 3rd May:  Free and fast antigen tests and late morning train.  Dropped Millie and Rex in Kent.  Collected UK car from Aged P’s and drove both cars onto our house in N. Devon for our quarantine.


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 Day 1:  A sunny spot on the Chania ferry before we set sail.  The cabin was very stuffy and smelly … with 6 bodies …. dog breath and flatulence!!

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View of the Drapanos Hill and Almyrida.  Gillian messaged me to tell she was on the Kalives beach and waving at our ferry, , so we waved back … not that we could see each other!!!

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The evening was spent completing all the transit during curfew and Passenger Locator Forms we needed for each country.  Fun!  A whole new level of admin and stress!  It was good we had, as there were a number of road block in Greece and one chap wanted to see the ferry to Italy form … think he was miffed he couldn’t fine us for breaking the out of prefecture rules.

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The ferry stopped at Heraklion before crossing overnight to Pireas.

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Day 2:  Early morning off the ferry and straight to a beach for a dog walk.

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We were in plenty of time for out evening sailing from Igouminista, so lots of dog walking and a really good gyros for supper.  We’d seen this old tub sail into port, but couldn’t quite believe that it was our boat.  But it was and it did make it to Italy.  Trucks but very few passengers.

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Day 3:  We didn’t arrive in Ancona until late afternoon.  So plenty of time to sample the extortionate EUR4 coffee, but it was an Pukka Italian espresso.  

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View of Ancona port.

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Early evening walk as soon as we found a beach once off the ferry.  Despite lots of coaxing, only 2 of the dogs pooped the poop deck.  Can you imagine holding a wee for 18 hours????  Cabin marginally less hot and stinky than the previous crossing.

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Milly, that’s Oscar’s bed!

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Settled in their own beds after lots of bed hopping!  Fabulous hotel with no charge for dogs and large room.

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Day 5  Whilst J was driving, I was checking for tests, investigating if anywhere was open for new tests, changing the Tunnel and booking an extra night in the calais hotel.  We couldn’t find anything open other than a few small service station shops, so breakfast and lunch were chocolate.  Supper was an emergency tin of COLD cassoulet I’d bought en route.  A tough day in many ways.

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Day 6: Tourists in Calais!  Think we’d done most of the sights by lunchtime!  Only 6000 steps seeing the Town Hall, Vauban citadel and lots of municipal gardens … one style of planting …. only 2/3 flower varieties and straight lines.

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Being Sunday , Covid and a BH weekend, we couldn’t find anywhere for a coffee and only found 1 restaurant open in all our walking around Calais town.  We ordered a takeaway … chicken and fish pie.  But again it was COLD, as the restaurant assumed we’d heat it up at home … hotel foyer microwave broken!  We were making good headway into our Greek wine stocks by this time!  Since Brexit, we are limited to 18 litres of wine per person, so we crossed with just under that!

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Day 7: Free antigen tests done, with print outs form the lab.  Dogs in the Tunnel French pet area … tiny and boring compared to UK side … national attitude towards pets?


Quarantine in our house in North Devon was OK.  We did pay for test to release, but lost a day due to when the weekend fell.  On the 2 days we had to post the test results we took the long way round to the post box.  And our neighbours walked CO2 a couple of times.  They would have taken them out more often, but the weather was dire.  Felt cold.  We cleaned both cars.  Did admin.  Still felt cold.  Sorted stuff in the shed.  Did some exercises.  And watched far too much TV!   Still really cold.  And thank you to all the Crete folk sending us pix of the warm weather there!  Mum had knitted me 3 garments, the first to be sewn together was a super chunky jumper, which I then lived in!

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We got through a lot of logs!

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Great excitement … a McDonalds McFlurry on release day!

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Tide out at Combe Martin.

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We ate well once released … this was the take outs for putting together at home from Thomas Carr Michelln *  and Lin and Bo, over in Exmoor fed and watered us! well.

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Mackerel and scallop tortellini.