2022.01: Unplanned UK Winter

Update …

Sept 21 to Jan 2022

A long time since the last post.  Whilst few significant things occurred we seem to have been busy!

 

James’ Heart

The bypass was scheduled for early October.  J was in the hospital, had ordered his dinner and was then told that it was to be postponed.  Too many staff off sick from the Covid booster.  By this time, I was at the Aged Ps and about to have dinner.  The hospital was a good hour away and more with rush hour traffic.  So J ate his hospital pasta and I had my meal before I fetched him … was that so wrong of me?!  As visitors are not allowed, I’d booked myself busy for 5 days whilst he was supposedly in hospital.  So James came with me … a few nights at Stonehenge wild camping with the motorhome having a few more repairs.  And then overnight up in Twickenham helping a friend clear the attic prior to moving house.

In the end the surgery was 26th October just over 2 weeks later.  He was under a good surgeon, but he had to leave so the substitute was an even better bet.  The top Prof, who rang me himself early evening.  He’s big, as in top man, in beating heart surgery.  Yes, that is a thing.  I had to google it as the consultant had not mentioned it and neither of us was keen to know the specifics of the actual surgery.  I subsequently read about beating heart and skipped over the video that started with the incision into the skin, and would have gone onto the whole procedure … too much info for a sensitive me!  In essence, the heart and lungs are not put onto a pump but are able to operate as normal.  Suction holds the part of the heart still where the surgeon is working.  Pump / normal open heart surgery around been since the 1950’s.  Beating heart since 1995, so still relatively new … not all all open heart surgery suitable for beating heart.  The surgeon told me his recovery would be much quicker and so it proved.  

James surpassed all the milestones and was walking a few miles within a week and a half  Very little pain from his chest unless he sneezed!  Paracetamol was sufficient and that was for his upper back discomfort.  The nurse explained this pain is due to the position they put you in to prise open your chest.  He’s itching to get running, even short distances, but that’s a few weeks off. And then we’ll be back into the hills of Crete!

The cardiac nurse team are amazing.  They respond quickly to emails and calls and we’ve had one assessment meeting with them.  He’s been given exercises to do 3x a week and we’ve been walking a lot building distance and speed.  The Rolex is off … replaced by a Fitbit so he can ensure his heart rate doesn’t go above 106!  I was slightly envious, of his new Versa 3, which includes built in GPS and its olive green … my colour and mine’s only a Versa 2!!!

 

Family and Friends

Lots of getting togethers … mostly lunches!  Our theory was that we’d eat out once a week, but fine dining.  We could afford to do this is we dispensed with ordinary lunches and coffee & cakes.  Using the Michelin app, we booked into a number of local Michellin plate restaurants for set lunches.  All well and good, but we still seemed to have the odd pub lunch and those coffees!   I discovered the Bognor Fishermen’s Association fresh fish stall … so we’ve eaten skate, a whole brill and Dover sole … yum.  Bonus of Bognor is a wonderful homemade open all year ice cream parlour!

And Christmas  … a proper family Christmas.  Our last was 2018.  Again Clare and Chris hosted and we all took bits …but C did the bulk of the work.  It was truly brilliant. Party games, cards etc.  And Boxing Day 3 meats and salads.  All yum!  And Maddy and Jordan came down on Christmas afternoon and stayed Boxing Day until Jordan had to return home to watch Chelsea with his family!  He’s a lovely chap, but sadly he’s into that round ball game instead of rugby!

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All our van Christmas decorations were in Crete, so I raided Poundland …. our tree!  If you can call it that!  Supposed to light up … wasn’t worth taking back for a refund!! 

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Every year the Aged Ps purchase Christmas stocking gifts whilst on their travels.  There was a lot from the UK this year! 

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Arundel.  Wed been for a Michellin plate lunch and walk and then booked a city walking tour for a few days later when Frances and Edward visited us.

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Arundel castle.

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Whole brill cooked with hassleback potatoes in the motorhome with Michelle and Craig.

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Misty Stonehenge.

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Maddy’s graduation.  Did I mention she gained a 1st?!!

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Kalives is the nearest town to us in Crete … found this boat at Chichester marina.  No owner around to ask why it is so named.

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Mum repeated oft that there is NO STORAGE at their new house.  All our stuff was cleared out and under duress they will store a bulky coat and wash kit.  Then they took pity on us … I was offered space to put a storage box in the car barn!  I put it together too.  Needless to say, it is now FULL.

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We’ve really come to like the area around Chichester.  It may be flat, but lots of inlets and wiggly coastline.


Campsites

Whilst the weather was good we stayed at Connor House and mostly Woodlands Farm 5 pitch site.  Lovely couple run Woodlands … very basic but woods with deer.  However, the lack of sunshine meant the solars were just not harvesting sufficient juice to run all our gadgets and heating.  I was also concerned that post surgery J would need to be kept warm and whilst our gas is super efficient (radiators and under floor heating), I did not want to keep moving the van for gas refills.  So we needed EHU.  And with impending bad weather … hard standing.   Being nearly 5 ton we have a tendency to sink!  We moved to one site, intending to stay there, but the owners were a bit off.  Told me off for putting on the awning light when I took CO2 for their night time pee, would not let us move to the sunny side, even though we planned to stay till January.  So we voted with our wheels and moved to another site.  We were really happy here until the owner doubled the price (we had been using a lot of power at one point as there was a severe cold snap) and the field we were in became very muddy.  I got serious pee’d off with soggy doggies and mud splatters … despite doggy dry bags.  After New Year we moved to another site with proper concrete hard standing … woken every morning at 6.00 am but the tractor … lovely walking there though.  Finally we ended up at Concierge Camping.  Famed for being on a motorhome TV programme where one chappie in his posh van declared he liked it here, as it was expensive enough that he knew he would only meet people like him.  Well, I dont think he can of been there when we were … as with all our accumulated mud (van, CO2 and us) we definitely lowered the tone.  To be honest, it is worth every penny, as the facilities are fab – even a free ice making machine and dog shower.  And at the weekend there is quality Thai street food for sale.  

I think we’ve experienced most of the suitable sites now in and around Chichester … if you need a recommendation?

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Deer at Woodlands Farm. They come down from the Downs in winter and the noise they make at night and during rutting is somewhat unnerving.

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The cold snap at Sunnyside.


Tythe Barn House

Having not been to our Devon house that is used as holiday lets for over a year, we’ve used it a lot this year.  Quarantine back in May. A quickie when the Aged Ps and Clare & Chris used it in May.  November for 2 weeks as it was between guests … the thought of J recuperating with more space was attractive.  And he normally does the washing up but was excused chores, and it has a dishwasher!  Nothing selfish on my part!!!  Then we’ve had some damp work done so we stayed whilst the plaster was drying and then for 2 weeks in January.  We probably won’t get back down there till 2023!  Lovely to be able to share it with family and friends.

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The kitchen had been mostly packed away for the damp work … the housekeeper seemed to know which kitchen kit was most important to us!!

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The main Combe Martin beach with the tide out. 

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The other beach at Combe Martin … with the tide out!

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After a storm at Woolacombe beach.

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Regular walking / running route around Whistlandpound reservoir, especially after some of the humungous downpours we had as the track is mostly firm.

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Walk along to Hebdon Mouth

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Hebdon Mouth

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A Devon road … a motorhome is a no go!

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Baggy Point walk.

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Nothing Baggy about this man!

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Baggy Point looking across to the 2 miles of Woolacombe beach … we did sample the Thai fishcakes at the cafe this end.

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Hang dog – Kelsey is not used to sharing the comfy spot!

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Clovelly is a private estate with gardens and a village.  The ticket was valid for a week, so we went with Lisa and Danny and then with Robyn.

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Fab walk with rushing water and mossy boulders at Watersmeet with Robyn. 

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It was David’s birthday when the Turkish Lockdown family stayed  Lisa did decorations and I did a meal.

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I did warn them that Devon is the wet test country … non stop rain!  Sunny the day after they left, of course!  This pic was taken at the Rocks near Lynmouth.

Mini Tour of North Kent

Loved it.  We intended starting at Gravesend and following the coast around.  But we had to return to Chichester earlier than planned as we (J specifically) had to isolate prior to surgery, and we found so much of interest that we didnt move as fast as we thought we would.  And of course, he was still getting very tired, so we were mostly active in the mornings.  Definitely unfinished business.

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Gravesend Temple.  A wedding was going on but the guests were happy to chat.  Had a free tour and were offered free food. Classes, older person clubs, sports gourds etc … money here but used for the community.

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Guess where this wedding guest made his money!

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Also in Gravesned a WW2 festival.

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We also visited Rochester, but we really liked Chatham Dockyard.  So much to do and the ticket was valid for a year so we went back a second day and still did not see it all.  This is one of the massive old dry dock coverings.

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The Ropery is one of the longest brick built buildings in Europe.  Length determined by the metres required for an anchor rope.  And this is still in use.

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Bikes are used by staff to get from one end to another.  The building would not meet current work regulations … all the windows gaped.  On our tour of the Ropery, I got to have a go at twining rope and came away with a sample. 


 

 

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2011-2027: Zorba Repatriation And Unexpected Events

2011-12-: Preparation and Planning

Thursday 2nd & Friday 3rd September 2021

Another early start to drop Jez back into Abacus for more work to be done … we coffee’d and walked locally into an Andover Park as we didn’t have the car.  Late afternoon arrival back at our usual 5 pitch C&CC site, Woodlands Farm.  

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Replacement rear view and reversing camera …  the last one had fogged over.  Driving a nearly 5 ton vehicle with no rear view is not ideal!

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Lots of resident deer at the farm … mostly Roe and a few Fallow.

The background to this trip is that cars can only remain in the UK for 6 months or they have to be imported.  6 months would be up at the end of October and we also had a load of belongings to take across to the house in Crete.  J’s consultant had not argued about us going to Ireland for J’s daughter’s wedding, but had said no to him travelling to Greece.  So he was going to stay home (in Jez) with CO2, whilst I took Zorba and stuff to Crete.

Zorba the Greek car was collected from the Aged P’s.  Well, eventually.  He didn’t want to start.  A new battery in May, so not that.  Jump started off the Merc.  No power steering.  Googled and apparently it is usual for electronics to go haywire on jump starting.  Switched off and jump started again … power steering worked this time.  Back at the Farm, he was then emptied and all the boxes re-sorted to reflect the fact that James’ heart surgery would mean us staying in the UK IN WINTER.  Then reloaded.  All the PLF and transit rules done and understood.  Route plotted.

Maddy, my daughter co-driver was put on the insurance.   Plan well and truly sorted …. Maddy and I would catch the late afternoon overnight ferry on 6th Sept from Ancona to Patras.  4 hours to do a 2 hour drive to catch the next overnight ferry to Crete, arriving early on 8th. Maddy’s boyfriend, Jordan, flying in on 10th.  All to fly back on 17th.  Friends rate my planning.  They’ve not met my mother or sister, who are scary when it comes to planning, but what could possibly go wrong?!

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Fully laden … no room for you Oscar!

2013: Refusual at the First Hurdle

Saturday 4th September 2021

Final check of all paperwork and in the afternoon I set off to collect Maddy from Farnborough.  Zorba wouldn’t start again, so another jump start and I took the jump leads with me!  I got quite adept at accosting men in car parks to allow me to jump start from their cars! … Tesco as I collected a prescription for J and then Halfords to buy a lithium jump starter pack.  This will be fine, really, honestly, I told myself.  We can just jump start our way across Europe!  Then once there, I’ll take Zorba into the garage to have starter motor and alternator checked.  

Maddy drove back down to Chichester to get used to a left hand drive manual car on the wrong side of the road and parked nose out so we could jump start it again!  We had supper at the Aged P’s as our Tunnel crossing not until 0230.  We thought they’d probably put us on the next available train if we arrived early, so we got in the car to set off …. awful grinding and whining noise.  Then deathly silence.  A similar noise to the last time Zorba had to be low loadered to the garage for new injectors.  Zorba really wasn’t going anywhere.  The whole point of the trip was get Zorba back to Greece and was refusing!  I was on the verge of aborting, until I looked at Maddy’s face … she and Jordan were really looking forward to a holiday.  Decision … a fast decision.  I’d take the Merc.  At least our stuff would get over to Greece and I could bring back some winter clothes, not that we have many!

If you’ve never tried emptying a roof box, removing it … fixing it to another car and reloading it in PITCH DARK …. don’t!  It really isn’t the easiest thing to do.  But we managed it and it did stay on!  The Merc’s seats down, the inside was filled to the gunwales.  Interestingly it is less capacious that the Skoda Roomster – aptly named.  Excess boxes and bags were relocated to the Aged P’s garage … despite their downsizing house move and being told they didnt have room to store our stuff!  Ooops!

Slightly frazzled we made it to the Tunnel in plenty of time and did catch and earlier train at 12.45 p.m.

2014: Tyre Pressure but not Tired

Sunday 5th September 2021

One of the benefits of travelling across the EU on Sunday is that most countries ban trucks unless they are refrigerated goods, so the roads are relatively empty.  Our route was toll free through Belgium and Luxemberg, re fill with cheap diesel, and then toll free through France to Basel.  Bought a vignette for Switzerland and used the free Gotthard tunnel during Sunday night.  As Maddy had not been put on the insurance for the Merc, I was driving overnight.  Once offices opened, we tried to get her on my insurance … no, my ex pat insurance will not cover anyone under 25.  No go with her insurance either as they won’t cover 3rd party on other vehicles if under 25.  We ended up paying for expensive day insurance that ran for 24 hours so she did a couple of good stints behind the wheel.

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 It got warmer as we moved south … layers were peeled off….

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… and hair tied back … the air con doesn’t work, so windows had to be opened.  I found another use for a mask to keep my hair from blowing in my face.

A few weeks ago we’d had a tyre warning light come on … nail … tyre repaired.  However, having inflated the tyres for a heavy load, the warning light came on again.  Every time we stopped, I was having to check and re-inflate.  Could anything else go wrong?

Having made good time with only a few nanny naps, we stopped in Como and had a proper restaurant supper.  Well deserved.  We had made such good time we had some big nanny nap stops that later that night.

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Maddy had pizza, but my swordfish with caponata was lovely.

2015-2116: Killing Time and Missing the Next Ferry

Monday 6th & Tuesday 7th September 2021

We had made such good time, having allowed for holdups …. but we even managed to get past Milan before the rush hour and so arrived in Ancona at 9.00 a.m.  We parked up at a Motorhome stop that J and I have used a number of times … formerly Auchan, but a few other shops and cafes.  Breakfast and lunch … Maddy clothes shopped, of course!

We drove down to the port mid afternoon.  Paid for our tickets … only to be told the online office had incorrectly used previously bought tickets, but it did mean we paid less than we thought.

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The ship was late in … they didnt send the the text offering me alternative dates until after we had sailed!

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All these trucks did eventually make it on board….

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… meanwhile, I consumed a few of these.  It was Cretan wine, after all.

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We treated ourselves to serviced dining … if you can call it that!  Linen table napery, but rubbish food and service and very expensive.  J and I have never eaten on board before as we’ve the dogs, but never again.  And the cabin stank of ammonia … obviously the toilet tanks needed cleaning out!  The food was almost enough to make you gag, but the cabin stink certainly was!

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Fortunately we’d brough our own brunch.

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With time to kill on the 22 hour crossing, we dyed our eyebrows!

The ship was 4 hours late into Patras so no hope of catching the next overnight ferry.  Oops … my carefully laid plan!  Before we docked, Maddy was onto a booking site and found us a beach hotel for about £50.  We had a lovely supper at a neighbouring restaurant.  A fraction of the price compared to onboard too.  Before we left the port, we found the Minoan office and rebooked our Pireas – Chania ferry for the following evening.

2017: Tourist Day

Wednesday 8th September 2021

The ferry from Pireas was less than 2 hours away and didn’t depart until evening, so we had all day to kill.  We thought about sunbathing …. but it was grey with showers.  Tourists, it was to be.  We drove up the mountains to Kalavryta to a holocaust museum.  I’d been before with J and the Aged P’s but had found it very moving.

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Video recordings of some of the now grown up survivors and girls told of their first hand experiences, making it very real.  Descriptions of how the women and children tried to identify their family and then dig graves with bare hands in the frozen soil, as all the tools had been destroyed when the Germans burnt the all the houses.  Just as moving as the first visit.

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View from the hill were the men and boys were mown down and now where many still lay.

 Maddy is rather fond of Corrie (Oscar too sometimes!) and wanted to see where we had found her.  I think she rather hoped we would see a close relative of Corrie that she could adopt … don’t know who she thought would look after it with her about to go off to Kings to do her Masters!  Fortunately, this time, Accorinth was bare of strays.

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James and I have stayed here twice later in the year so never seen it so dry.  It was about to close, so we only had a quick wander.

This ferry left on time AND the cabin did not stink.  And we’d taken our own picnic, so altogether a better and shorter crossing.

2018: Cleaning Day

Thursday 9th September 2021

We were up in plenty of time to have a coffee on deck and watch the approach into Chania port.  And with no more set backs, we were straight off and within 20 minutes we parked by our house.  Before we unpacked the car, we had to clean.  It had been empty since end April, but unwelcome residents had moved in!  Yep, stink worms and cockroaches again, especially in the basement where Maddy was to sleep.  So debugging and bleaching started at 0630!  Once Maddy’s bed was made, she climbed into it and I continued the clean moving up the house … she gave me a hand for the last bit and then we unloaded the car and roof box.

With the house pretty much in order, we had supper Almyrida with Gillian … lovely to try a restaurant that has been shut whilst we have been in residence during the winter.

2019-2024: A Holiday

Thursday 9th – Thursday16th September 2021

Jordan arrived the next day, so he and Maddy spent a few days sunbathing.  He is very fair (strawberry blond!) and used more than a tube of factor 50.  We went into Chania, I collected a ring a jeweller friend of a friend had replaced the stone.  I hired a car for Maddy for 2 days and they had an overnight in Rethmyno and visited Knossos Palace.  We ate out a lot … with friends, including a Sunday tea party in aid of animal charities: we ate our body weight in cake!  I also spent some time visiting car dealerships … after a summer forking our thousands on cars, we had decided we really do need a reliable car.  It needs to be Greek as we will be in Greece for more than 6 months each year and big enough to transport us and CO2 to and fro to the UK.  Short list of a Hyundai Kona and Suzuki Vitara … need to test drive and J to look at them in the UK.

On his own in the UK, J dog walked and waded through a pile of admin and jobs.  He had use of my sister’s car for a week and ate in a few pubs and at my parents … just as well as he’s a can’t cook won’t cook man.  I’d left him a few frozen soups and casseroles …. honest!

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 Almyrida with all the sun umbrellas out. 

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I got to walk and run one of our favourite local walks … Plaka head.

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On the way to one of my favourite restaurants, we stopped for a sundowner overlooking Almyrida.

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Chania.

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One of our meals in Eleanora’s.

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Maddy and Jordan flew out lunchtime on Thursday.  Think they had a good time, as they spent most of the previous day trying to work out how they could stay!  Having cleaned their room, I dined back up the hill with friends …. it really was fabulous to see friends after 5 months.

2025: The Return Journey Commences

Friday 17th September 2021

With the ‘children gone I completed the cleaning and got all my paperwork in order.  Rather hoping for an incident free trip as I was doing the return leg solo.

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I treated myself to a good late lunch in Chania at Salis restaurant which has been recommended by Ann … wonderful fish followed by two flavours of ice cream  Didn’t realise each was an entire pudding … I was offered two spoons lol!  Dill ice cream with strawberry jam and watermelon with pickled rind … both delicious.

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To save a little money, I’d booked an airplane reclining chair instead of a cabin … only an overnight crossing … medicine to help me sleep!

2026: Patras Tourism

Saturday 18th September 2021

Arrival in Pireas early morning and I drove to Corinth … I’d booked an antigen test there at 10.00.  I had a walk and beachside coffee beforehand.  Test was only EUR10, so a bargain compared the Kalives ones that Maddy and Jordan had had at EUR25 each.

Still with lots of time to kill, I drove to Patras.  Despite sailing in and out, we’ve never actually gone into the town centre.  I walked up a massive flight of steps to Patras castle … arriving as a sweaty puddle.  The first thing I did once on board was shower!  Fortunately I’d a cabin for this 22 hour crossing to Ancona.  Very few tourists, no British again and mostly truck drivers.  At Pireas the lorry loads were being clambered all over by a private security firm looking for immigrants.  I’d had to open the rear doors and boot.

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Patras Castle steps were right at the end of this boulevard.

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View from Patras Castle. 

2027: Mostly Bored On-Board

Sunday 19th September 2021

Straight off the boat in Ancona and I’d not had to show my double tax cert or even my passport.  More docs had to be presented from Crete to the mainland.  Being Sunday afternoon, I knew to expect traffic heading up to Milan and Como, but there were quite a few road works too.  I got my head down for a bit and then it was plain sailing back through the Gotthard Tunnel at just after midnight and Switzerland.

 

2028: A Good Run and a 3rd Ferry

Monday 20th September 2021

A pretty straight run up to Calais, with another cheap fuel stop in Luxemberg.  On one morning stop, I booked my day 2 Covid test, did the Gov PLF and booked the ferry.  Not used a Channel ferry in years as a) I remember lots of times where I felt sea sick (funnily enough don’t on the Greek ferries), and b) you have to leave the dogs in the car.  This time, I booked DFDS as it was a lot cheaper than the Tunnel at short notice and with a Flexi ticket I could turn up 72 hours either side of my booked crossing and be put on the next available ferry.

I arrived a day earlier than I’d booked and caught the 5.30 ferry. Again largely empty other than trucks.  The hour and a half passed really quickly as part of the Flexi ticket bonus is that I had a meal voucher.

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DFDS chicken curry free … as part of my ticket.  OK it was too … better than Minoan / Grimaldi!

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A meal with a view.

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Before I knew it, Dover in sight.

I got hauled over in Dover … why and where had I been.  Was this my car? etc.  I handed over V5, passport, Greek residency, Greek Tax number, Greek rental agreement and explained why and where I’d been.  He conferred with colleagues and checked my boot and I was allowed to leave.  

Back home to James and CO2 by 9.00 UK time.

So this return drive was just over 3 days door to door, with 3 ferries, 2 of which were overnight.  1125 miles door to door.  963 miles in 24 hours including nanny naps from Ancona to Calais.

Was it hard?  No, not really.  Audio books kill the journey.  More fun coming out with Maddy.

Would I do it again?  Yes, if need be.

Maddy and Jordan got a holiday.

We got most of our ‘stuff’ from the Aged P’s old house to Crete.

I saw some friends.

Failed on getting Zorba out of the UK  … Since our return the garage has established that the diesel pump must be disintegrating to cause the new injectors to fail and the battery was also not being charged …. so he is definitely for the scrap heap.  Not one of our better buys.

1977-1995 : Is that Stonehenge?

Catch Up Continued .


1977-1981: Strawberry Fields, not The Beetles

29th July – 2nd August

As members of wild camping.co.uk we are also members of motorhomes.com, the less wild party sounding arm that arranges meets.  Over the years we have got to know a few folk that attend these and there is always someone to natter to, or ignore should you so wish.  We’d failed to find a suitably mutual date with Sue and Mick (we’d met them in the Peloponnese and have previously stayed on the drive of their eco house), so they booked onto the same meet for a few nights.  Sadly the weather was pretty rubbish which limited our sitting out late opportunities.

With the Merc in dry dock and Zorba packed to the gunwhales with our stuff to go back to Greece, we didn’t bring a car to mooch around in.  The campsite was on a busy road and not that close to anywhere, we deployed the bikes and doggy ride trailer.  Its been a long time since we were in the saddle and a long time for CO2 since they’ve been in the Os-car (trailer), but they certainly remembered that they got biscuits for climbing in!  Our derrières were OK for us to do two consecutive days of cycling.  We got very wet BOTH days, so the phones didnt make it out of waterproof bags for photos!

The Lymington market was on, so we cycled to that … the sky looked heavy, so we headed into a very dog friendly pub and had lunch … good timing as it downpoured.  The next day we cycled whilst Sue and Mick drove into Brockenhurst … a light lunch outside … than goodness for the large table umbrella. We aborted the village walk after about 30 mins … the paper map was turning to papier mache.    On the third day, with rain forecast, I put the bikes away … we chilled and did some chores….  Not Laundry … as we left here for two days back in Chichester and abused Mum’s machine again.

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But I did manage to get one shot of some New Forest ponies.

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On the last evening there was a gathering … both Chris and Linda the blanket hoodies … but not as Pat Butcher as mine!  Looking cool girls!


1984-1987: Holbeach, The Wash

5th-8th July

We headed up to Lincolnshire for 4 nights for another motorhomer.com meet.  Not their usual sort of venue as we were jammed in on the rally field attached to a crowded campsite.  Not our cup of tea … a lot of children.  There was a pub and small pool on site.  The night we arrived we drove off to a neighbouring village and had a supper.  This time we had the Merc with us and we were very pleased to have it as we escaped for two days.

The first outing was excellent … we’d seen signs  along the road for the rearranged wood work show merged with a craft and food show at Sandringham Palace.  And only a few showers!  Crafts included wood, jewellery, glass etc.  A food demo tent and falconry.  We got chatting to a lady minding the birds and she gave me a couple of the feathers off one of her own birds.  Ever since I got one of the rooster tail feathers from our Turky lockdown camp site, interesting feathers now get stuck into one of the two knitted hedgehogs on the dashboard.  We thought we’d be there an hour, but spent 3 hours.

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Think there must have been a chainsaw competition as a number had all been given a similar sized huge lump of wood which they were working.

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After the show, I took CO2 for a walk along the Great Ouse on the opposite bank to King’s Lyn.  It doesn’t look big from here but sprawls …

I’d never been up to Norfolk Lavender when I had a holiday home in Norfolk, so was keen to visit.  I was really disappointed.  I’d expected to see fields and fields of lavender, like the Dutch bulb fields, but just a small area of different  varieties.  Brunch and a good ice cream … but not worth the drive.

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I had read that Hunstanton had an amazing beach and cliffs so headed there to walk CO2 … got a bit of a shock when we arrived … have not seen so many amusement arcades in a good many years.

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The beach was amazing with a long promenade / sea defence wall.  Some interesting houses and then caravan park.  Two fun beach hut names … Sandy Bottom and

May (contains Nuts)

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We contemplated driving out on the third day, but hadn’t really read of anywhere we fancied going … so did a jobs day.  In the evening we watched the Barbarians game in the pub.  Since we were there we ordered food … it was burger night, so I ordered my chicken naked.  It truly was … not even a side salad until I asked. And not cutlery, so I asked again! Virtually indigestible.  I used a lot of mayo to get it down!


1988-1989: Jez Repairs and Stonehenge

9th-10th July

On the Monday we drove down to Andover and parked up in the forecourt of Abacus Motorhomes.  They are expanding fast: car and motorhome hire and motorhome servicing, with a huge new complex just off the A303.  H, the mechanic, is a van lifer and had supper with us with her gorgeous new Westie/Poo pup who’d not yet had her jabs.

Whilst Jez was being worked on, we drove the car to Stockbridge and had a walk along the Test Way.  I think we must have chosen to walk the most boring part of it.  An old railway track, dead straight through bushes.  Lunch at a waterside pub was much better.

We were asked if we could bring Jez in again the next morning to finish off … so we spent the night at the well used lane right next to Stonehenge.  As well as all the permanent and travelling vans, there were also two cars being slept in and one pop up tent … this contained a couple who asked me if these large stones over there were Stonehenge!!!

More parts to be ordered for Jez so we will back to Stonehenge and hopefully it won’t be misty and I’ll get a sunrise shot!

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So close, I even set the alarm for 5.30 a.m. and put the zoom lens on my camera to get an early sunrise shot … went straight back to bed … a blanket of mist!

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It hardly seems worth paying to get in, except you would be funding the 24/7 security guards.  Apparently they don’t have any shelter and are not allowed to sit in cars to keep warm even in the depths of winter!


1990-1995: Chichester

11th-16th July

We tried another Chichester Campsite called Sunnyside not far from Bognor.  It had hook up but the hard standing was some compacted gravel and we’d have to drive over the grass to get to it in winter … so not sure this is our Autumn / Winter home.  Some OK walking from there … although the first night I was out with CO2 I suddenly found myself flat on my back.  Oscar had galloped up as he was out of his comfort distance from me and careered into my leg.

Maddy come down once for a walk and supper and then we met her in Parham Park for a walk and picnic.  You pay (unless you’re and National Trust member) to use the car park … a very reasonable £3 for all day.  But God forbid you should want to use the visitor facilities such as the toilet or the cafe … we were told no … we’d have to buy a ticket for the house!  We couldn’t have minded paying a fee to pee … but al fresco it had to be!

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Looking back to Parham Park.

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Oscar does love a stick, better than chasing deer.

Goodwood is very close to the Aged P’s so we went to lunch at the hotel restaurant … it was very good … well Dad didn’t make the best starter or pud choices, but the rest of us did.

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White chocolate coated strawberry shortcake parfait.

Monday 16th was a super busy day.  We saw J’s consultant in the morning in Southampton, who said he could travel to Ireland for his daughter’s wedding, but not OK for him to go to Greece.  In the afternoon, I attended my ex-father-in-law’s funeral in Aldershot and then we bought J a new suit, shirt and tie … the tie almost cost as much as the shirt!  We had booked flexi tickets  for the stupid o’clock ferry for the night of Tuesday, and now booked a campsite near the wedding venue.  

In case we could go to the wedding, we’d previously sorted out CO2 for travel too … we had eventually found a vet who after much negotiation would administer working tablets and sign their EU Pet passports.  Vets are in short supply apparently … many leaving the profession as so many practices are now owned by big corporates and expect staff to work 60 hour weeks.  Compounded with no supply of young vets from Romania or the Australia.   If we had needed an Animal Health Cert, CO2 would definitely not have been able to come, as most vets seemed to be booking these in 8-10 weeks hence.  They nearly didn’t come as it was … I mistakenly went to one of the satellite vet offices and rang James crying … they’re shut!  What do we do with CO2?  J was checking their pet passports for kennel cough and about to look at kennels … when I realised my mistake and the correct office agreed to see me!  Phew!!!  Getting dogs into Ireland is harder than France … as well as worming tablets administered by the vet, you also need to send their animal agency an advance notice form and the animals are checked on arrival.

So I’m just about all caught up and the next blog will be from Ireland and the wedding.



1954-1976: Mostly Dorset and Chichester

Catch Up Continued .


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Should’ve been in the last post … ignominious!

 

1954-1958: Corsham then Chideock, Dorset with Frances and Edward

6th -10th July

On leaving Snowdon we spent 2 nights in Corsham and Alison came to supper on night 2.  We really have done pretty well with catching up with folk on our travels.

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Gift from Alison.  Perhaps I should start a small portable garden.  Got herbs now.

Frances and Edward arrived ahead of us at the C&CC Temporary Holiday Site in Chideock, Dorset and in proper motorhomer style had set up well away from everyone else!  I discovered that another Alison and her family were camping at Eype where we used to hold our annual Girlie Camping May trip … well they weren’t actually camping.  In the wind they managed to snap 4 out of 5 tent poles and were in an emergency static caravan.  On our Girlie Camping weekends we were under canvas.  The only time we used a caravan was when one of us was pregnant … Alison assured me it was not the Caravan of Confinement but of Convenience!  It hadn’t even crossed our minds that guests would not be allowed to sit outside for a drink … major events were allowing crowds … but the Camping Club have not caught up so as we asked to make it quick.  So it was a quick drink and then they went off for a pub supper.  We managed to eat pretty well too, with us hosting one night and then Frances cooked the second.

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Being close to Golden Cap, we went for it. … we came from back there.

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James and Edward at the top.

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Oscar and I to prove we were there too.  Last time we were up here was during my 50th house party in the February before we set off on our travels.  

With the weather not being brilliant we took the car and drove to a village Frances had visited before … Moreton.  On the way we stopped off at Poundsbury for coffee and cake.  This is a massive new village on the outskirts of Dorchester … brain child of HRH Charles … him who dislikes bad architecture!  What we saw was lots of modern replica old style properties but completely crammed in next to each other … very few open spaces and high density of population.  Not at all a desirable location.  We nearly lost both James and Edward … navigating the garden centre amongst the spades and pot plants on the circuitous route to the toilets!

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  Moreton church:  Pretty unprepossessing on the outside …

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All windows had been blown during the war and Lawrence Whistler (brother of the more famous artist James) had engraved all the replacements.  Stunning.

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We wandered through the local gardens, which pretty much were going to seed … obviously insufficient volunteers.  If only she’d’had her trowel; Frances was itching to sort it out.

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T E Lawrence’s grave is also in Moreton.

1959: Sunday Lunch in Farnham

11th July

Leaving Dorset, we one last reason to stay over in our usual site … Coxbridge Farm in Farnham.  A much rearranged (down to my piss poor planning) Sunday lunch with my old school friend Michelle, Craig and their daughter…  and we managed to catch the end of the Wimbledon Men’s final between courses.  

And on the next morning we had our second vaccination in Basingstoke.


1960- 1976: Chichester

12th July

We are trying out a number of 5 pitch sites in Chichester as we will be here a lot longer than planned .. certainly into winter. James has discovered a medical issue and we are waiting for surgery … he really is high maintenance man!  So we split our time between Woodlands with more space, woods and lots of deer at £8 p.n. and Cobnor House with less space, but fabulous walking around the Chichester Harbour at £12 p.n.  We really cannot work out which we prefer, but neither have hard standing or EHU … which we will need when there is less sunlight to harvest from our solar panels. Further local camping options to investigate.

Brian and Zoa were already installed when we arrived … glad he was first as he had to be towed off the boggy ground, so we knew to park on the track!  And I got another night off cooking as Brian cooked one night and I the other.

We did quite a number of day trips out with the Aged Ps, including Bosham, Haling Island … not as full of caravan parks as we had expected and a mini tour of information boards about the WW2 army presence followed by … another good lunch!  We also walked from the Aged P’s new house down the Cirencester Way (no idea why it is so named) into town and tried a veggie cafe, food was good by no alcohol was less so!

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Woodlands with lots of space.


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Handsome pooches.   

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We’ve managed to eat out a fair bit … on our own and with the Aged P’s.  Several ice creams, coffees and cakes on day trips out with them.

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Part of the set menu in Purchases in Chichester … went with the Aged Ps and liked it so much we went back with Maddy to celebrate her getting a FIRST in her Business degree with Surrey University … fast tracked in two years!  

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The BEST chocolate fondant ever. 

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The espresso martini was lacking something compared to when I make it … enough alcohol!

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Maddy and Jordan came to Fishborne Roman Palace.  Interesting but when you’ve seen the mosaics in Sicily and Greece ….

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Emsworth is really pretty.  Another eating out venue for J and I and then we came back with Maddy and Jordan.

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Hake and alioli on a crab risotto with seafood bisque … yummy.

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Emsworth with its protective harbour wall / walkway.

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It wasn’t my decision to get CO2 a doggy ice cream each, but I did end up paying for them!

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Evening walk around Cobnor.  I said what a good climbing tree … Maddy had have a go.

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Competitive Jordan went further and Maddy’s imperious arm of “Get down NOW, you’ve gone far enough!”

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Looking over to Bosham.  Interesting pronunciation … Drop the H and say it like bosom!

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.


Medical

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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Bridport.