450 – 458: The Lakes

450 – Wednesday 17th August 2016:  Up to the Lakes – Eventually

I took Oscar to the vet for his Rabies jab … he gave a non-manly, wimpy yelp.  Then the plan was for me to leave the car on the Aged P’s drive and James to pick us up in the van, as it is not easy to get it in and out of my parent’s drive … too many overhanging branches and an oak tree half way up, which I know only too well!  Many moons ago I reversed up the drive with the driver’s door open … it did not stay attached to the car!

However, J had managed to get hold of the right person at Viscount Motorhomes near Southampton, as we wanted the leak from the fresh water tank sorted … they would squeeze us in if we brought the van straight down.  So about turn and, not knowing how long they would keep the van, we took the car down too.  As it happened, Chris saw us straight away and, despite his suit trousers, crawled underneath and managed a sort of Heath Robinson fix.  And all for £20 cash.  Highly recommend Viscount!   The overflow pipe had come unattached and a proper fix would mean dropping the water tank.  He thinks that this will hold, but as we are heading off to Spain and Portugal for the Winter, we’ll get Family Leisure Travel in Bristol just to check it out in September when Chard makes a visit to them.  

We then drove back up to Ash Vale to finally drop the car … it was gone 3.00 p.m. by now.   Choices, do we drive till about 6.00 and stop or push on through and get to near Alderley Edge in Cheshire as was the original plan?  We hit rush hour traffic approaching Birmingham, so we made good use of the 2hr motorway services free parking time limit.  We cooked supper, washed up and had a nanny nap.  By the time we set off again with 5 mins to spare before incurring a ‘you’ve outstayed your welcome’ massive fine, the traffic had all cleared and we felt refreshed.  We drove on to about 12 km from Alderley Edge to an off road lay-by listed by wild camping.co.uk …. we drove in and straight out.  5 solitary men all waiting for a female to arrive, and it weren’t gonna be me!!!!  Fortunately there was another off road lay-by half a mile away.  This one was frequented by a couple of trucks, who were settled for the night without fee paying company!  Much more peaceful!


451 – Thursday 18th August 2016:  Alderley Edge (WORK) Walk

A short drive, passing the East Cheshire Hospice in Macclesfield, where a fellow motorhome blogger’s (manlyferry.com) wife was with cancer.  He blogged later that she passed away the next day.  

We parked up in the Alderley Edge National Trust car park and followed a walk I’d found on the internet … it took in a real mix of scenery:  the Edge and its rock formations, fields and some of the most expensive real estate I’ve ever seen … footballer territory.  Some serious renovations / extensions going on.  A Porsche next to a Range Rover, both with 16 plates was not uncommon!   Lovely rolling views across the Cheshire scenery.   

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Alderley Edge: we did not add our own names to the graffiti.

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A very classic Jag, followed by a Porche – no point us checking out price houses here!


A random bunch of flowers on a bench … has to be a story here.

Soup in the van and then we did a couple of hours work!  Yes, really WORK!  That dreaded word that J retired and I fled from.  J had been approached by a former business contact … would he be the critical friend on their bid to manage the transfer of the Severn Bridges back to the Government?  At a rather day good rate!  J read through the bid documents … he’d even written most of the bid spec!  I wrote his CV and Pen Portrait for the bid document … amazing how much he’d done that sounds really REALLY good in his career.  If anyone else is interested in using him as a ‘critical friend’ … in his specialist areas of construction, PFI, bridges, concession agreements, Gaelic Football and, of course, red wine … let me know and I’ll send you his most impressive CV!

There was an ice cream van in the car park and for once, it was not a Mr Whippy, but proper scoop flavours … we deserved it after doing WORK!

We packed up and headed on up fairly close to the Lakes.  We stopped along a pretty valley in the Trough of Bowland … never heard of it before.  Very rural and a lot of sheep.  In for a really quiet night … we thought.  We watched a tractor towing a box on wheels with a couple of youths in it.  20 mins later it returned overflowing with youths.  We twigged …. A Level Results night + a few tents in the field next to us + drunken youngsters DOES NOT = a quiet night.  So we washed up and drove a mile up the road, where it was quiet.  We made the observation that both Maddy and her friends were ALL hitting the night clubs, but here in the country they camped around a bonfire … know what I’d rather do!


452 – Friday 19th August 2016:  Ravenglass for a Week

Wet, wet wet!  And not a boy band!  Grr!  I needed to return a 12 volt light strip to the eBay seller as I’d actually ordered a 12 volt fan … they would send me the fan free of charge, if I returned the light strip.  We stopped in Ulvertson, put on all our waterproofs and I printed the return label in the Library.  I am now the proud owner of a Cumbrian Library Card … I had to join as a member to be able to use the computer for all of 3 mins to print the label!  Being wet and miserable, there was nothing for it but to repair to a Trip Advisor recommended hostelry for lunch!  A new experience for us … we had to sit outside with the smokers due to the dog.  

We’d booked a 2 bed with en suites cottage for a week with the Aged P’s.  We originally had planned to travel to France on 15th September when the Aged P’s were to be in the States (again!), so this was an opportunity for us to spend some time together.  Little did they realise at the time that we’d end up seeing quite a bit of us!   A really comfortable cottage on a working farm.  The owner had fingers in lots of pies … beef calf raising, firewood deliveries, holiday cottages, and bed sits … his family were just about to move out of dairy … farmers receive 13 pence per litre, but it costs 23 pence to produce.  Only downside of the cottage was the kitchen which lacked essentials so half the contents of Chardonnay’s kitchen ended up inside.  2 km walk down to the estuary and then across to Ravenglass.  A handy location just off the main A595.


453-458 – Saturday 20th – Friday 26th:  Aged P’s First Lakes

Given my parents travelled all my life.  I know no-one else who has been to all the States in the USA (bar Hawii, which they don’t fancy).  They have now hit the 100 counties visited.  Yet, they had not been to the Lakes!  J lived and worked up here for a while and we’ve visited together about 4 times and love it … we really wanted them to love it too.  But the start of the week was not propitious to generate a similar feeling in them.  It rained.  And rained some more.

On Saturday, we took delivery of our week’s food … Tesco delivery from 27 miles away … what good service.  Mum and I knitted!  And then she unpicked what I’d done!  A few days ago,I’d discovered she’d nearly finished her own jumper so I’d taken her to the local wool shop … she’s knitting me a thick jumper with a pattern and what are little hernias or nipples, depending in where they land!  I’m being supervised on a very simple poncho, where I still manage to fail to count 8 stitches accurately.  

In between downpours I walked to Ravenglass and then the Aged P’s ventured out.  We all got caught and came back drenched, down to our knickers!  J had bolted back to the house at the first hint of a raindrop, but stayed dry!!!

On Sunday, it was still raining.  J and I pulled out the trusty wet weather gear and packed a picnic.  The plan was to catch the ‘Lil Ol Ratty’ steam train up and walk the 9 miles back.  But the train had suffered a rain induced land slip and was not running.  In fact there had been so much flash flooding that a number of stations and roads were also closed.  We went to coffee and cake whilst we considered walking halfway up the Eskdale Trail and then back again.  We bumped into the Aged P’s who’d driven round to Ravenglass …. their boots were still wet from yesterday despite newspaper being stuffed in them and the heater and hairdryer from the van, and they did not fancy another drenching.  They put us onto the right path and off we set … stripping layers as the weather improved.  We turned back as I sunk up to my knee in mud and bog where a tree had blown over.  


The rain did clear but it largely remained misty.


Our spirits were not dampened!


Soggy Doggy!


This path is impassable!


A very high tide covering the path back from Ravenglass.  J sporting his multipurpose sun / rain hat.

Monday saw us go to Hilltop, the National Trust home of Beatrice Potter.  This was her home before she married the local solicitor.  She kept the house as her work studio.  She purchased a lot of land and farms and being passionate about farming and left it all to the National Trust, some of it in her lifetime.  


Beatrice did all the drawings; she had a Scientist’s eye.


‘Satisfactory in every way’ – Quite a warm commendation for a Victorian!


Peter Rabbit must be around the corner.

Tuesday boded changeable for the weather so we headed up to Cockermouth to see Wordsworth’s birth house.  Another new dog experience as J and I had to take turns to go in.  We had a picnic on a thoughtfully supplied table and benches along the river.  A local explained how the diggers were there to dredge the river as part of the flood prevention measures, but it had been too wet to put them into action.  She’d lost most of her possessions in flooding two years ago. 

“I wandered lonely as a cloud 

that flies on high o’er hills and dales

when oft upon my couch I lie

in vacant or in pensive mood”


Childrens’ poetry amongst the apples in Wordsworth’s birth house.

 On the way home we directed Dad (who did all the driving, as we’d never have got Chard down some of the lanes) along Wast Water to Wasdale Head.  This is J’s favourite lake which he introduced me to … the deepest in England and a good starting point for a climb up Scafell.  Although Mum and I had designated today a dry day … there was pub and the sun happened to come out so we sat on a bench admiring the bucolic scenery (water, hills and sheep) consuming a drink followed by an ice-cream for us and chocolate for them.  Lovely … so pleased to show them this area.


The sheep on the other bank were being rounded up at speed. 

Wednesday was due to be fair so we directed Dad up Hardknott Pass and Wrynose.  The wheels did scrabble on a couple of hairpins.  We tend to think of the fells rather than the lakes. And this is the Lakes at its best.  A number of hairy passing ‘situations’ including a blonde in a BMW jeepy thing who did not know her edges and very nearly took the wheel arch off the Aged’s car, totally ignoring my instructions.  The motorcyclist, held up by her incompetence, had a few words to say about idiots in cars too big for them!  

James had been threatening to get me to run up Hardknott and a few months ago, I would have given it my best shot, but I’d had a nasty touch of food poisoning recently and not been running … that’s my excuse anyway!  James, what’s yours?  


Up at Hardknott – it would have been a killer run.  Whoever thought I’d be grateful to food poisoning!





We picnicked at the south of Grassmere water … very pretty and again a generously provided bench.  Grassmere is the burial place of Wordsworth so we viewed the grave and consumed an ice cream … Mum didn’t you consume most of a bag of fudge???  I managed to consume two pairs of shorts and a pair of walking trousers in the Mountain Warehouse epic sale for £28!  The trousers alone should have been £50.  Love a bargain!  Can justify the spend with a bargain!!


Mum and I walked from our picnic spot to the southern point of Grassmere Water.


Thursday: Dad had been doing all the driving and tomorrow would be the long drive home, so today we decided would be a no drive day … other than we cadged a lift to Ravenglass to catch the steam train up.  Actually being the first train of the day, (yes we were up and at ‘em in time for the 9.25 am departure) it was diesel and we got 10% off :).  A pretty ride up and we managed to prevent Oscar from leaping from the moving doorless carriage!  Coffee and cake at the top.  The Aged P’s had a walk and caught a train back down.  J and I headed off to do the complete Eskdale Trail.  The place where I’d sunk on Sunday had largely dried up.  An excellent walk and really well signposted.


On the narrow gauge railway.



Other than the amendment to our EuroTunnel booking … this is Oscar’s first ticket.





We stopped to chat to a local near the house at the end of the walk … an exhausted Oscar found a soft spot of verge and went to sleep!

Being the Bank Holiday weekend, we all decided to leave really early on Friday to avoid the holiday congestion.  The Aged P’s left about 7.00 and we were 30 mins behind them as we had to try to de-fluff the house a bit … we keep seeing white fur balls from Oscar!  Seeing accidents is always unsettling, and sadly we saw a 7 car nudge up and then later a more serious rolled car … not a good start to the Bank Holiday.  We’d decided to stay at the Aged P’s as it is really handy for the station and J was catching the train on Saturday up to London to see his two daughters and granddaughter.







437-449: Settling Oscar

437 – Thursday 4th August:  Oscar Collection Day

A good run around the resevoir and we set of to collect Oscar.  He is indeed a handsome beastie, but somewhat scarred and very scabby from his most recent hammer and tongs fight with the other dog in the house last Saturday.  Apparently the battles commenced as soon as Oscar hit two years old and his testosterone started raging!  He has sores on his snout as well from where he was muzzled.  So he came from a loving home, but needed to be in a single dog household.  Another bonus … he’s used to travelling in a motorhome as the previous owner showed all her dogs.  Win win!

Only 5 mins away was Pets At Home …. £251 lighter, we came away with leads, bed, food etc!

We could have descended on my ever accommodating parents, but as we spend most of our time living in Chardonnay, we felt it wisest to book onto a caravan Club CL so we could be still and get Oscar used to us and being in the ‘van.  I’d booked 13 nights at Coxbridge Farm, caravan Club CL  in Farnham, which is:  

  1. very near the Aged P’s, my sister & family and a lot of friends 
  2. where J and I got married 5 years ago … was it really so long ago?  The time has flown by 🙂
  3. where I grew up, so I know the area really well.  

I was delighted to find that my old very pragmatic vet (Sarah who’d ‘vetted’ my previous 3 dogs … and put two of them down!) was still in Aldershot – appointment booked 🙂

IMG 0912 Maddy meeting Oscar. 

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Handsome boy.

438-449 – Friday 5th August to Wednesday 16th August: Settling Oscar

We’ve walked a lot and soon discovered that we can let Oscar off the lead … he does not stray far.  We are working on his recall, and unsurprisingly he can be a bit deaf, so we are careful where we let him off.  Strangely he has been discouraged from swimming … a Springer not like water … unheard off!  We are sort of encouraging him in, but on second thoughts could this be another Oscar bonus as do we really want a wet dog in our motorhome?!?  Training is going well as he is seriously greedy.  

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Not sure about this wet stuff!

The vet suggested we delay his series of jabs (normal jabs & booster as the previous owner did not believe in them, rabies for the pet passport and kennel cough as we don’t know the dogs he will be meeting) … a series of 4 appointments, each about 2 weeks apart.  Ho hum … we’ll have to put back our departure to France to the start of October.  Fortunately we are not inconveniencing Kay and Stephen who were going to travel out with their two collies with us, as their Taz is lame and needs to be kept quiet.  

We’ve also been catching up with a lot of friends and I’ve been able to see a lot of Maddy and the Aged P’s.  Maddy made the mistake of running at Oscar so he’s now nervous of her.  The Aged P’s are very dog friendly – they’ve dog sat all my previous Springers – numerous times.  For some reason Oscar is terrified of Dad and avoids Mum … can only think it is because we’ve been at their house a lot and he thinks we may leave him there.  Dad blowing raspberries at him may not have helped!!!

It feels like Oscar been part of our lives for ever already.  We are tripping over him a bit in the van, but his bead is under the table and we are training him to respond to “in yer bed” when we move around.  We also lifted the carpets, which to be fair were pretty stained and these have gone to that free and large repository, called the Aged P’s attic!

A great decision to ring the Welshie rescue organiser … we’ve landed a gem. 

We took the van to Southampton Fiat Professional to check out the diesel particulate filter and loss of power … all good, but the sensor is faulty … a known Ducato issue, but the part is in back order … at least we know we’re fine to drive Chardonnay.  We also managed to get a slot in Viscount Motorhomes in Southampton to look at our on board water leak.  It turns out the overflow pipe had come out of the tank … £20 cash for a 10 min turn around and what he hopes will be a permanent heath robinson fix.

432-436: Last Days in Donegal

432 – Saturday 30th July 2016:  A very Important Game

We filled our water containers and emptied the toilet in the very convenient public toilets and wandered up the road the the regular Saturday local market int he village hall.  A bit of knitting, some local slate products, a stall of local fruit and veg and a lot of cakes.  I picked up red onions and a lettuce … J picked up a carrot cake!  The healthy and unhealthy!  But we will share :).

J was keen to watch the Donegal and West Meath GAA Gaelic Football  All Ireland quarter final, so we were looking for a pub.  We headed into Dungloe, which had its Mary of Dungloe festival – they select a local lass to be the Mary (a bit of a beauty pageant) and lots of bands in bars.  Limited parking, so we ended up adjacent to the fun fair … concerned that we might get a bit stuck there come 2.00 p.m. when the fair opened.  A quick wander into the town and then, it not grabbing us, we left and headed for the hills.

We had a pub in mind, but the small village was host to a cycling event so the pub wasn’t showing the football.  We did drive along the finish line with crowds either side of us … slightly embarrassed to be there, but tempted to give a few royal bows and waves, we extracted ourselves.  We continued into the Glenveagh National Park – some stark hills making the scenery interesting – at the visitor centre I was told about The Lagoon, back out of the Park, but it would definitely be showing the game.  So back we went.  A large pub with a lounge and local’s snug; we went into the snug.  Since the barman said we could park overnight in the car park, we forced down a couple of ciders.  Back to the van for a J nanny nap and then back into the pub for supper.  Very traditional pub menu – so much deep fat fried that one set of foreign tourists arrived, read the menu and left. However, the fish and chips and spicy deep fried chicken fillets were all well cooked.  An elderly couple had a quick chat … in very strong local accents … he was 80+ and had missed the game as he had been at work – labouring!!  A couple of bottles of the quaffable single choice of red wine (i.e. no choice at all … red or white) and we slept really well!


433 – Sunday 31st July 2016: Erigol the Terigol

We thanked the pub and I asked where I could find a post box in the neighbouring shop, which sold everything from ice creams to grass seed and tins of beans to fertiliser.  Post box a few miles up the road, but the shop owner offered to post my postcards with his post tomorrow … nice people in this neck of the woods.

Back into Glenveagh National Park and we parked by the already full car park by Mount Eribol.  On paper, it does not sound like a difficult climb – being only 751 m high and the 76th tallest in Ireland.  Erigol the Terigol gets its name due the the initial clamber across and in muddy wet bog.  The steep ascent is then over scree to the top – some hands and knees.  Nearing the top, the heavens opened and the mists descended so we could only see about 2ft in front.  Fortunately, we’d seen some of the views of the other peaks and the coast on the way up.  I was relieved to have my walking poles for the descent, supporting my dodgy knee and giving me some balance as we slid down the screes … J went down 3 times, and we watched a couple where he went down, then she did, and then they did synchronised bog diving!  A ‘cool’ mum was making her 9th climb up Erigol and her young son’s 5th.  Another chap at the summit, had climbed the highest peak in 30 of the 32 Provinces of all of Ireland in 2.5 years.


The on road car parking got busier every time we looked back … this is definitely on the way up as my poles are in the back pack and J does not yet have a soggy bottom!


It might not look much, but it was possibly the steepest climb we’ve ever done.


Some of the views before the rain and mist came in.


You can just make out the coast.


The summit.

When we got back to the van and changed, we had a slight issue with Chardonnay.  She sort of started and then fizzled … no power at all though.  OK, so we have European motor insurance.  Oops – no phone signal.  J got a lift down towards the next town where he could ring the insurers and then a local garage rang him back – about an hour and half before they could attend to us.  J then had to walk the 2 miles back up the road to me, as I’d stayed in Chard … no-one hitches or picks up hitchers now :(.  A chap arrived from the garage where J had rung from … doing a favour for a mate further away.  He got us going – I had to drive in second gear, revving at 3000 rpm back down to his garage in order to clear the diesel particulate filter.  A common problem with these Fiat Duacto motorhomes … they engines are designed for white van man gunning the engine, which clears the filter.  We’d been nursing the engine for improved fuel consumption and only been doing easy slow short hops.  We now know that we need to regularly do 30 mins + where we get the engine hot.

We drove a short distance back to the coast to near Rinnageeragh and found a fabulous car park amongst the dunes over looking another white sandy beach … oh yay!  A quick walk on it and we read the plaque about 4 young girls having be drowned here in ’72.  A local confirmed that the beach here is treacherous due the the undertow, but that it was a good walk along the coast to several small bays and a long sandy beach … these were OK for swimming.  That’s tomorrow’s plan then!




434 – Monday 1st August 2016:  Walk, Bays and Beach BBQ … Phone Call!

Having slow start, as we planned to stay a second night, I did pilates amongst the dunes.  We walked along coast trying to identify the little used path, which was quite fun, passing lovely white sand bays and beaches.  We made is as far as the Carrickfinn Beach, busy with life guards.  It got even busier when about a thousand teenagers arrived from one of the summer Gaelic language schools with their tannoy!  We wandered back the way we’d come, stopping at one of the bays for some still cool beers and a swim (minus wetsuit) for K.


A bit of a clamber up from the beach to get around the headland.


Mountain Goat – made it!


Mount Erigol in the background – looking pretty tame, but we know better!

I’d previously checked with a life guard – it is allowed to have BBQs on the beaches … so that’s what we did.  We carried down the BBQ, table and chairs, as well as all the necessary.  A fab location and one of those memorable events.  It became even more memorable when I took a call from the London and Surrey Welsh Springer Rescue organiser.  We’d discounted having a dog as it would be inconvenient, expensive and would limit what we could do and where we could go.  But we’ve seen a LOT of motorhomers with their faithful hounds, some really quite large dogs in not so large vans.  It felt like a gap in our lives.  So I’d just picked up the phone and rung the rescue organiser before I could rationalise against doing so – only about 3 days ago.  The conversation had gone along the lines:  There is a massive waiting list for them.  

  • I know, I’ve had one before.  
  • Where did the previous dog come from?  
  • Tina Smith. 
  • I know her and she’s really strict about who can have her dogs.  Y
  • es, my last was one of her not so good gun dogs … I did a bit of training with him with Julie Reville.  
  • Yes, she’s retired now.  

This call was to say that there was a 2.5 year old dog in Solihull – could we pick him up from there?  Of course!  The West Mids organiser would ring us tomorrow morning!  Somehow the Tcall had ticked all the boxes and `i’d pretty much gone to the top of the UK waiting list!

We opened another bottle by way of celebration and stuck a fire log on.  What a simply fabulous day!

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435 – Tuesday 2nd August 2016: Decision Made – Head for Home

Several phone calls later … we’d changed our return crossing from Belfast to Cairryan to …. tomorrow.  Whilst the current owner would have kept Oscar until the 18th, when we would’ve picked him up, she had two male dogs who’d were going at each other hammer and tongs and we just wanted to get him!  We packed up and flitted across to Belfast.  We will just have to come back to this part of Ireland to finish off the coast next year.  I put our Stendhal Festival music tickets up for first come first serve on the Motorhome Craic forum and even managed to get them posted that night.  We overnighted at a free motorhome aire in Bentra Grill, as the Carrickfergus service point was faulty.  A really quiet night too.  


436 – Wednesday 3rd August 2016:  Belfast – Cairnryan – Solihull

Up with the lark for a 7.30 crossing.  Nothing to report other than we drove all day and made it to a great free parking by a reservoir near Solihull – dog pick up destination!

426-428: Water, Water Everywhere

426 – Sunday 24th July 2016:  Benbulbin – a Must See

We drove on around Lough Gill to Glencar Waterfall, which is on Glencar Lough (funnily enough) … water everywhere around here!  To be honest the waterfall, which is part of the Yeats drive was disappointing … set up as a massive tourist venue with block paving, a horse drawn carriage to hire and ice cream van.  We did not stay long, but we did manage a Mr Whippy.  The ice cream vans only seem to do these, no choice of ices on sticks 😦


Glencar Waterfall.

James had been going on about Benbulbin mountain, the most notable in Sligo.  I did not know what to expect … we’d googled about walking up it, but received wisdom was that if was not safe, but J had found a walk just north of it.  So we headed there and the heavens opened … water water everywhere!  We lunched, rested and in a reprieve of rain set off … only for the heavens to open again!  It did dry up a bit and we could see the clouds and mists beetling across the top of Benbulbin revealing the most amazing wide vertical riven rock face.  A seriously memorable mountain.

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Benbulbin:  poor weather meant we really did not have the best view of it.

We fancied a coastal overnight, so headed to Streedagh Beach … an amazing spot and the sun actually made a fleeting appearance.  K spoke to a chap who’d swam … he does so every day of the year.  Cripes!  The water’s lovely, he said, so in I went.  But with wet suit … and it really was silky.  J had to stay on shore to photograph the evidence … again!




Taken when the sun finally came out from Streedagh Beach.

We’d planned to stay the night here.  We knew the beach parking sometimes flooded at high tide, so I checked with the life guards … we should be OK.  J was just washing up from dinner and a guardian angel knocked on the door …. the tide was creeping up close and she’d seen lots of motorhomes and cars destroyed … even though I’d checked, the tide still had an hour to go till high tide, but it was close enough.  We very promptly packed up.  Fortunately today was a new all time record in the Clune household … ever!  it was our third dry night in a week since we met over 10 years ago!  Our really lovely guardian angel suggested we drive south to Raghly Point – the the small fishing harbour.  She said … views of Benbulbin and across to Downpatrick mountains – fabulous.  And water!  Although now nearly 9.30, we filled up all our bottles and on board tank … with the view to showering in the morning.  A real gem of an overnight.

J here:  Now then… Our gallant readers will know a little about our PeePeePot.  Yesterday, as I was going about my ‘business’ – I thought about how we might classify our ‘emissions’ ?  How about a wine classification?  Demi-sec?  The container is a sort of demijohn.  Well, see have been dry for a few days – hang about – we are very ‘sec’ indeed – too much information?  Ok – you can ‘sec off’!


427 – Monday 25th July 2016:  

A run around the peninsula and then a massive spring clean in the van … and then we showered.  Clean sheets, clean van and clean us.  Joy.  Then we filled up again with water … and had chats with the local fishermen … lobster no good at the mo, as the weather too poor, so they are catching crab, but the price is low.  

We’d now a big Ikea bag of laundry, including the bedding, so I’d googled laundrettes nearby … but by the time we got to Bundoran it was gone 3.00 and the laundrette lass said it would not be ready till tomorrow.  We contemplated staying in the aire next door … EUR15, including showers and electric … but ever budget conscious me (unless it is something I want!) said no, EUR15 is EUR15 and we don’t need to spend it!  But we’d also googled that it was going to cost EUR1 to dispose of card and plastics and EUR4 for a bag of household waste (no free bins and all waste except glass and tin cans are chargeable …. BUT very few recycling / disposal centres and they have very restrictive opening hours … do not get me started on this!!!).  HOWEVER, there was a Lidl next door and J checked … the aire had bins … soooo we could claim the aire was only actually going to cost us EUR10, by the time we’d paid for waste disposal elsewhere, when we’d found one that was open!  And we’d about 4 days of waste starting to smell and be tripped over … in our now pristine Chardonnay.  J rang the contact number and PJ came and opened the barrier and gave us a tour of the newish facilities.  

We shopped and then took a wee dander around Bundoran.  I was not expecting a lot, as it is a well known (in Ireland) seaside resort.  But once you get past the amusement arcades and mini fun fare, it had really pretty beaches, good for surfing … too far for me to walk in my wet suit!

We made the most of our EUR15 … all waste disposed, free electric so the slow cooker made an Italian veggie soffritto and slow cooked a whole chicken, charged devices, toilet emptied and all water replenished.  And I showered … quite necessarily, but because I could!

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Bundoran: one of the small beaches.

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Beaches and rock pools.


 428 – Tuesday 26th July 2016:  Belleek Pottery

We both ran through the town and along the beach front … nice.  And I then Pilates’d on the grass.  J cooked a one pot bacon bits, onion and mushroom scrambled egg thing on the bench outside, just before the drizzle started.   We collected the washing – even the knickers were neatly folded!  

We drove onto Belleek.  Now this is one of my favourite potteries … I don’t like the stuff with the painted Shamrock, but Mutt inherited some basket weave Belleek from Great Aunty Mary, which I really do like.  Mum, I’m sending you a  postcard of how to date it … and whilst you’re at it, please put a sticker on the bottom that I will inherit these pieces … sorry Clare, hope that is OK with you!?  Did I mention that I resist spending unnecessary money … well, my new ear rings were really necessary and so was lunch!


The moulds are only good for 400 pieces and then they loose definition.


The porcelain mixture is poured in and and then out of the moulds, leaving a residue to harden up.  When it is removed, the staff remove imperfections and rough edges.


They also cut off unwanted bits, such as the castellations on this one.


To make the distinctive weave, the base is made and allowed to harden, then the spaghetti strips are moistened and laid over a form.


Unfired.  All the flowers etc are made by hand.  This one would retail at about £150, which is not dear for the hours of hand labour.


After firing, glazing and firing again, any paintwork is done by hand.  Then the third and final firing.

Neither of us fancied doing much more sightseeing, so we researched and headed inland to Lower Lough Erne to a wild parking.  Can anyone explain why Lower Lough Erne is above the Upper one?  We are currently parked up a the chain ferry car park that takes vehicles to Lusty Beg Island … yep … that’s the real name.  And guess what … it is tipping it down … please I’d like to see some blue skies!  The Aged P’s have been in Cx2 (Clare and Chris’) place near Bordeaux .. too hot to sit out.  

423-425: Neo Classical Cave Cavan Cavorting

423 – Thursday 21st July 2016:  Coole in Enniskillen

A short drive to Castle Coole, just south of Enniskillen.  As we arrived, it dawned on us that we were back in N. Ireland … the Sterling wallet with the Italian National Trust cards had to be retrieved from its hiding place!  You have to book onto a house tour and no photos allowed inside, as the furniture etc. still belongs to the current Earl who has a wing of the house and the farm on the estate.  

One of the Earls was married 3 times.  Wife Number 1 died, so in his 40s he married an English 17 year old; she could not bear him or living in damp Ireland so they separated … unusually she was allowed to keep her daughter with her in London until the child was 5, when she had to return to be brought up in the family home.  It took 13 years and an Act of Parliament for the Divorce.  18 months later he married the neighbouring money and estate … sorry, I mean, his third wife.

Another story was that King George IV was touring Ireland and expected to stay … we saw the plush unused State Bedroom.  George had previously had an affair with ??? who now lived in Sligo – their passion was rekindled and he never got further than her House and it is said that this is why the road between Dublin and Sligo is so straight!

It is funny how you can have empathy with your fellow tourists … we were all aghast at one family who had the MOST obnoxious child … she kept sitting on the chairs, touching everything, running around and barging past people.  The parent’s made no attempt to restrain her.  I don’t know how the guide didn’t evict her … I know if I’d ever had to teach her, she have spent a lot of time outside the classroom and catching up work in detention with me!


Castle Coole – another neo classical edifice built by one of the ‘Plantation’ Lords  The Earl of Belmore owned a ship and barges, so he imported Portland Stone from Dorset!  The cost nearly bankrupt the first Earl, but not to worry … they all just married more money!

From here we travelled to Asda in Enniskillen and its free large carpark … very important to stock up on alcohol free beer …. it really has improved a lot since it first came out.  The TIC was very helpful and walked around the town, in between sunshine and really heavy downpours.  Enniskillen is actually surrounded by water, making it an island.  It is mostly known for the IRA bomb killing 11 people in 1987, but we did not go looking for any memorials … there must be something in recognition though.  We had read that both Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett both went to school here.  There should have been a Beckett Festival on at the moment, but the main sponsor had pulled out.  A lovely high street with lots of independent shops.

The castle was mostly being refurbished, but has a central Keep with the Inniskilling (old spelling) Regimental Museum.  Enniskillen had formerly two Regiments – all subsumed into the Ulster Rifles … now based in … wait for it …. England!


Tomorrow we planned to visit both Florence Court House and the Marble Arch Caves … we politely asked both receptionists if we could park overnight there …. not allowed, but the charming girl in the Caves told us about a carpark 13 mins down the road in Belcoo … where she came from.  A great pitch with a toilet and a park … we watched a group of ladies slogging their way around it whilst we consumed wine … not an alcohol free night!!!


424 – Friday 22nd July 2016:  Marble Arch Caves and Florence Court

A short run around the park … J in front stopped on lap 2 and that was no encouragement for me to carry on … all his fault!  So I did some punishing Pilates!  

The Marble Arch Caves were only investigated in 1895, but not open to the public until 1985.  We’ve ‘done’ caves before, the most notable being the Predjama Caves in Slovenia, but these were bit different.  It was really evident where the river had excavated its path through the limestone – we followed its path.  The tours includes a boat ride, a lot of head ducking and walking through a walled walkway with water waist height on either side.  Some unusual formations.  Unexpected flooding of the caves in the 1990s was due to mechanised peat cutting on the nearby bog … the peat retains the water: remove the peat and flood the caves.   As a result the whole area was designated a UNESCO Geopark in 2001.



 The colour is due to the peat minerals.


Not animal scales, but the effect of eddies of water.


A boulder had been washed away after the calcium had formed a canopy over it.


A salad lunch prepped in Chard and eaten on benches at the Caves centre and then back up the road to Florence Court House – another National Trust.  Yep, we are making excellent use of our Italian FAI cards :).  Yet again, we had to book onto a tour and no interior pix allowed … not explanation this time as to why!  Another Neo Classical Palladian house with perfect symmetry.  This one was really only notable for its plasterwork ceilings – really remarkable.  The house was passed to the National Trust in 1953 and fortunately they upped the insurance from £8 to £25 million as the central part of the house burnt down in 1955!  Most of the plasterwork has been recreated, but it does not detract from its effect … one room had pheasants looming down from the ceiling.  


Again, perfect symmetry, but a not particularly large house with only 9 bedrooms!


A lovely rose garden and walled garden.

We’d picked up a really useful booklet on the Geopark at the Caves and the helpful lass who’d directed us to our last night’s parking recommended one of the walks.  We drove up the Cavan Burren carpark, but the gates would be locked at 9.00.  Back down the hill then to a carpark outside a Church a few miles away.

J had volunteered to cook.  Now this may not sound remarkable, but it is … in all the many years I’ve know him, he has cooked me one cooked breaky and one evening meal.  The deal normally is that I cook and he washes up.  Fair enough.  As I write the blog, I have been giving some back seat driving instructions … just helpful hints, you know, and I do think he appreciated it.  I have just got involved though, as I could smell burning.  You did put water in the bottom of the steamer?  Yes, I definitely did.  I’m coming over to have a look …. the base of the steamer did have water in it … and all the veg, but it was sitting on top of the top part of the steamer … whoops!  But it was delicious.


He’s now volunteered to cook once a week … yay!  And I did the washing up, although he offered … nope – you cooked.  Fair enough! 


 425 – Cavorting in Cavan Burren and in Search of Innisfree

J here …

We had overnighted outside the most plain church – with free WC facilities!  K ran and I sort of dawdled but actually I did some tidying and readying the van for our graceful departure.  (K: he’s turning into a domestic Goddess!)   

A lovely relaxing walk at Cavan Burren – strangely unpublicised in the guide books? But it all quite new – 2014 – and huge expenditure and beautifully sign posted with info boards all the way round – Dolmen / tombs from 6,000 BC!!!  



Farming gave way to forestry in the 1950’s and this is the remains of an abode with the ancient Dolmen in the back being adapted for livestock shelter.


This hole in the ground is actually aline kiln from the C19.  We had not idea of all the multiple uses of lime: spreading on alkaline fields, white washing walls, building mortar when mixed with sand, fine plaster work, as a mild fungicide to keep buildings clean and as a slug deterrent.  We should all have them in our gardens!


To the hill of Dooney via Sligo town – John Joe, Fr Tom and Mammy all called this their home at Ardsoran on the Sligo/Roscommon border.   Since I was a small child, I have been spellbound by Yeats’ poetry and the magical Lake Isle of Innisfree – raised your parents on the lyrical words… “and peace comes dropping slow…” Such magical word music.

“I will arise and go now

and go to Inishfrre

and a small cabin build there 

of clay and wattles made

and peace comes dropping slow”

…  Peace? Yes!

The weather was not good and we could easily have passed on to other locations…we would have greatly regretted it… We will stay here for the night at the car park for Innisfree – quiet and very peaceful – have we used the word ‘peaceful’ a lot recently? With good cause… We are both a little fatigued – I’m knackered after my guest appearance on Celebrity Faster Chef – I did not say ‘Farter Chef’ although our blog may silently record otherwise…?  I really enjoyed cooking and since K has done 100% of our culinary masterpieces, it is time.. and ‘time and tides wait for no man’… There may be a minor out burst of poetry here…

Having spent another tasty night of zero alcohol-free beer – extremely tasty – we will permit ourselves a modicum of wine tonight…


Lough Gill and the sun is trying to make a brief appearance!


We came in search of Innisfree … J has been reciting verses of The Lake Isle of Innisfree to me since we met.



The right hand humps are the Sleeping Giant.