1121-1124: Gorgeous Gouda

1121-1124: Gorgeous Gouda

Monday 31st – Thursday 4th April 2019

Gouda is famous for its cheese and during the tourist season, its Thursday cheese market.  We had planned to come here two summers ago, but responded to a Kerstin’s plea for decorating help in Germany.  Gouda and the market were definitely on our to do list this trip.  Having read that the motorhome aire gets VERY busy on Wednesday, for the Thursday market, AND having had problems finding campsites that will take two dogs … we got here mega early.  Monday, in fact.  We went from 14 vans to 44 on Wedsnday night and back to 7 on Thursday night.  At EUR8 for 24 hours and as we were so early, we got free electric hookup, it was a bargain.

We had planned to stay only 3 nights, but with such a good parking place and so close to a lovely town, we stayed 4.  We managed an ice cream each day … I had two days of some ache and shiver bug (weird), so did little on those days, but still managed a walk into town for a white chocolate and hazelnut, or coffee and pistachio …. purely medicinal.

Gouda really is lovely to wander around, but the high light is definitely the C16 stained glass windows in the Church of St John.  I also visited the Gouda Museum, which had a good mix of furniture, art, porcelain and I learned about the pipe making in Gouda.

The cheese market was disappointing … a fairly ordinary small market with only about 4 cheese stalls.  There was a sort of display and demonstration, which we missed.  Lots of photo opportunities for a pic with a buxom blond lass in costume, which we also missed!  We aborted the market in favour of a glass of vino on the edge of the square and people watched.  I did managed to come away with enough veggies bought to make a caponata and asparagus soup … slow cooker, Remoska and electric hob all in use whilst whilst we have electric!

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Sint-Janskerk:  Images depicted various Battles.  This was the battle of Leiden where the town was besieged and the citizens were starving.  The Mayor offered up his own body to feed the people … they declined, but it gave them new heart.  Their rescuers brought bread and herring, which they still consume at an annual celebration.

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King Phillip II from Spain thought so much of himself, he had his image included in the Last Supper tableau.

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A biblical tale, where the town was saved by a Judith chopping off the head of the attacker whilst he slept.

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And from 2015, evil around the outside and good, hope, joy etc inside. 

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These are Stolperstein.  We’d have not necessarily noticed them if Mike and Carol did not seek them out on their travels and blog about them.  They are outside houses to show where Jewish people lived before being slaughtered by the Germans in WW2.

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Gouda Museum was formerly the hospital and had its own pharmacy.

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Gouda had quite an industry in pottery… they adopted the Majolica method of glazing tin to achieve colours.  Most of the colours and styles followed current fashion.

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This is one of the museum’s treasures.  Miachel Sweerts’ The Spinner 1656.  He was noted for his use of light, particularly on the head scarf.  A lot of Dutch painters were influenced by Caravaggio.  Feel I should have taken more notice of him when we spent 6 months in Italy.

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Not hat pins!  But pipe cleaners …

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 Long barrels to cool the smoke.  Gouda was a major production centre, then lost out to French designs and coped the shorter, double walled pipes.

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This was the only piece of porcelain I would have happily ‘borrowed’ from the museum.

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Just love the very Dutch decorative style.

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From 14 to 44 vans the night before the Thursday cheese market.

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A cheeky little donut with raisins.

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The cheeses laid out in front of the Town Hall for the tourists.

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The small cheeses are the young ones as they don’t have time to develop a thick skin.  To add flavour they are infused with herbs, garlic, beer, pistachio … you name it.  We bought a slab of the much tastier 2 year old.

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He’s sliced off a bit of Sponge Bob Square Pants!!!!  The Cheese Master hosting the demonstration and explanations for the tourists.

1118-1120: Biking around Dordrecht and Rotterdam

1118: Dordrecht

Friday 29th March 2019

Yesterday arrived in Holland at Dordrecht.  With wild camping being illegal, and not wanting a fine, we are using marinas, aires and campsites.  This marina here was EUR14.50 with electric, showers, toilets and a waterfront location.  Very secure and peaceful.  We manoeuvred into a waterside pitch.

We deployed the bikes and the Os-car for the dogs and then wandered around Dordrecht.  Dordrecht looks out over the busiest peice of water in Europe: it is where the Rhein and Meuse exit.  A light lunch in town.

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A cow on top of a chimney?  A dutch BBQ?  Although we suspect a more erudite meaning (Apollo and Europa – some of Stephen Fry’s Mythos audio book sunk in!), as this was over the library.

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Dordrecht had been the major shipping city, before Rotterdam. In fact, the first Dutch city to be granted a city charter.  All goods had to be stored here and pay taxes.  The locals are known as Sheep’s heads, as a cunning farmer dressed a sheep in human clothing, walked it between two people through the city gates to avoid a tax … unfortunately it baaa’d just then and they are caught!

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We didn’t go in, but this is the Hof, court of justice, where the States of Holland first convened.

 

1119: Biesbosch National Park

Saturday 30th March

So peaceful a spot, we decided to stay another day, so I climbed the tower to the Marina control to hand over another EUR14.50.  Whilst there, we established from the timetable that the ferry across to the Biesbosch National Park wasn’t running yet.  Ho hum, the bikes were ready.  We were ready.  And CO2 were ready, so we’d just do a shorter bike ride.  As we got to the ferry crossing, one was just coming in.  What luck.  We jumped on and had a bike ride around the National Park.  No pix as it was as flat as a pancake.  A lot of geese!  You are still very conscious of industry … power pylons, wind sails and the odd factory chimney in the distance.  Give that the Netherlands is the third most densely populated country in Europe after Monaco and Malta, this is not surprising.

 

 

1120: Rotterdam

Sunday 31st March

Another visit to the marina master’s ivory tower to pay for a 4th night!  We cycled to Dordrecht again and caught the hour long water bus (with dogs, bikes and Os-car, the dog trailer) to Rotterdam.  Our bums are just getting used to the bike saddles after an absence of about a year!  After a beautiful day yesterday it was blistering cold today. We were just on the point of ditching the bikes thinking it would be warmer walking – fast, when the sun finally came out.  Biking around such a major city was a synch.  Clearly defined cycle paths and we got to see more of the city that we would have otherwise.

I’d cleverly ordered the Holland Pass … museum card and we tried to redeem this at the Euromast (high tower with a lift) but no, I was told to go to the Central Station.  No, you used to be able to collect it there, but no longer.  There are ONLY only in 5 points in Amsterdam!  Telecon and email correspondence with Holland Pass and hope we get a refund.  Note to self … read the small print!!!

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Some interesting modern architecture … post war Rotterdam was the one place they allowed modern architecture to flourish and it still is.  P&O Britannia was in for two days.  A couple told us it was a short cruise … Rotterdam and then Guernsey.  

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Witte Hus – this Art Deco 1898 sky scraper was one of the tallest in Europe for a long time at 148ft.   Constructed form iron and steel, it has two thick interior walls.  It survived WW2 bombing.

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Kubuswoningen, Cube Houses, the cube is tilted 45deg, and rests on a hexagonal pylon.  There are 38 apartments, whilst they 100square metres, 25% is unusable due to the walls and the angled ceilings.

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 The Markthal has 228 apartments as well as office space, with a huge daily food market in the middle.  The outward facing apartments had balconies, and seemed much more desirable than the cube houses.  Opened in 2014 it has a stupendous painted roof depicting fruit and vegetables.

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James nibbled the samples all the way round the market!

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We cycled onto Delftshaven, which was also fairly unscathed from WW2.  Ancient warehouses are now restaurants antique and bookshops.  We stopped outside the church where the Dutch Pilgrim Fathers set off for the new world.  The leaky Speedwell boat barely made it to Britain, where they transferred to the Mayflower.

1102-1112: Friends and France

 1102- 1103: Leaving Home – Slowly

Wednesday 13th March – Thursday 14th March 2019

We both virtually killed ourselves cleaning and getting our stuff out of the house.  On our knees.  We left on the Wednesday and the first holiday visitors arrived on Saturday, so it had to be VERY clean.  James left in the van, and all I had to do was clean the kitchen floor, have a shower and then clean the shower.  And then follow in the loaded car.  Cleverly I stuck the clothes I was wearing in the washing machine, only to discover I’d not tightened the seal enough when I’d cleaned the filter.  Result … a bit of flood in the utility room.  At this point I realised that my clean clothes, I’d planned to wear were actually in the van with James … it was chilly naked kitchen floor clean and then I had to wait till my clothes were just dry enough to put back on!  Afterwards, I remembered I could’ve wrapped a towel around me!!  Told you I was tired … not thinking!  

Whilst parked up for 2 nights at the Fox and Goose pub in Greywell, we sorted out the van …. disposing stuff at the Aged P’s house … fortunately they were in South Africa and would have barred the door at how much we brought back to the house.  So I kindly sent them photos of each stage of loading boxes in and, mostly, up to the attic!

As we were staying in a pub car park, it would have been rude not to eat there … first night with sister Clare and Chris, and second night with Maddy. 

As well as a dentist for me, I lost 1.5 hours of my life in the vets, trying to get a form completed for the health cert that will replace the Pet Passport when / if there is no deal … only to discover the vet had the wrong form … the correct form would not be released by DEFRA for a few days!  As we moved along the south coast visiting friends, we rang various vets whether knew nothing, or did not have the right sort of vet in the practice.  A phone call to DEFRA established that the form would not be sent to vets until 20.03 … our Tunnel crossing was booked for early on 21st, and they could not tell me what time of day it would arrive.  Ho hum.  My DEFRA contact did go and check, when I asked, and confirmed that we could get the form done by any EU vet.  Nothing about this on their web site … or what people already in Eurozone are supposed to do.  No surprises there then!

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The Aged Ps were delighted that we took the twin tub from their shed  but not so pleased, we left an awning, dog run and shopping trolley (mistake!) in its place!

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Not to mention, what we left in the attic.  Dad had only recently remarked how spacey the attic had seemed after we’d emptied it!  They are not allowed to move house.

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Sarah and Mac … this one is for you … we stayed at the Fox and Goose and had to have a Butterscotch sundae – yummy.

 

1104-1109:Sleeping on Driveways!

Friday 15th March – Wednesday 20th March

With Jez the motorhome ready to roll, we set off for Eastbourne.  We met up for dinner both Friday and Saturday with friends staying in a hotel, whilst we wild camped in a street back from the coast.  It was a 1.4km walk each way but along the front, so perfect for the dogs.  Gale Eric was not so perfect, but we got blown one way and fought our way back.  

Sunday night saw us parked up in Rustington, straddling the drives of Ian and Jimmy and their most lovely neighbours, Ted and Marj.  We had a fishy lunch with a couple of my old muckers (Gill, Gordon and Al), who came down from London, Maddy, who came from Brighton, Mel and boys, Ian’s parents and Nicky’s parents Ruth and Brian.  Really lovely to see them all.  Not so lovely was my sense of being poisoned the next day … I blame Mel, who kept us drinking … a sea front run sorted that out though!  For us anyway … not saying who might have had a late start the next morning!

We took refuge on a campsite for a DRY night, and then spent a night on Sue and Mick’s driveway.  We met them in Greece and had another good night with them.  A slow start and off to the Canterbury aire.  Where I trawled ALL the opticians trying to find one that would sell me 4 months worth of 1.5 contact lenses!  I should specify +1.5 contact lenses.  Being new to using them, I’d ordered -1.5 (OK!  I thought the – was not a negative but a dash!) … I soon found my error on applying one to my left eye and my vision being so compromised to be dangerous!  A quick text to Lin and Bo, who we’d be seeing in a few days and they could be delivered to their home before they left!  Phew!

 

1110-1115: Arras and WW1 Sights

Thursday 21st – Tuesday 26th March 

We have never seen the Canterbury aire or Eurotunnel so quiet!  And really quiet!  So many people just haven’t travelled due to Brexit uncertainty.  Just hope we have remembered to cover all the documentation we need!

Meg had ferried from Hull to Rotterdam and we’d liaised that if the weather was OK, she’d delay her journey south and meet us in Arras.  We had such a lovely time, having coffee in the squares, at the market, doing the tourist sights and eating together in the evening … we all stayed 4 nights!  Arras is really close to Calais and is definitely worth a few days trip.  Blanche is a Papillon, the same breed that just won Crufts. She might be small and fluffy, but she doesn’t take any nonsense from CO2!

Meg left to head down through the Rhone valley, in the vague direction of Slovenia or Croatia, and we moved a short distance down the coast to Peronne and a campsite for 2 nights.  After 12 days away, we desperately needed a free and voluminous water supply to do some laundry … the twin tub was deployed all afternoon!  And the weather Gods smiled on us and send a good drying wind!

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Our home for 4 nights on the banks of a canal in Arras.  Great for running and dog walking.  And a short walk or hop onto the free electric noddy bus.

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Re-built as 80% of the city was flattened, in the original Flemish Baroque styles.  Several such squares.  Meg and I climbed the belfry … in a lift, and we all visited the Boves (caves) underneath, dug out for the chalk as a building material.

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I think it was 214 men who were executed here for their resistance work.  Their names line the walls. 

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The British cemetery.

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Meg and I visited the Wellington caves.  Also dug out for the chalk stone, but joined up and enlarged by 500 New Zealand engineers and British miners, so they could hold 20,000 Allies soldiers for a week before the Battle of Arras in April 9th 1917.  They were dug out by hand so as not to alert the German forces.They were homed here in secret and some of the tunnels went up to the front line.    The push gained the Allies 11 km at a cost of 4000 casualties on the first day.  Total deaths were 160,000 British Third and First Army and the Germans lost 125,000.  

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Having got all excited and dragged Meg into the town on Friday, as I’d not listened to both Meg and James that I was a day adrift, we finally caught the market on Saturday!  Huge market and I filled the fridge with veg, as well as half a rabbit (yummy).  We ended up buying a shopping trolley…. madness really as this was an item we’d left in the Aged P’s shed!  Spot Blanche.

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I toured the WW1 museum in Peronne.  It gave equal weight to the Allies and Germany and presented artefacts in a different way.  Really worth a visit too.  This is a British Officer’s tea making facilities for the trenches … for all as if going on a family picnic.  

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Rather than display uniforms and artillery in display cases, they were in ‘graves’ on the floor.  I hadn’t known that due the mechanisation, they had re-armour troops.  each country had its own styles of steel helmet, largely styled on native peasant hats.

1116-1117: Contact Lens Delivery!

Wednesday 27th – Thursday 28th March 2019

Electric cable and twin tub stowed away, we drove for less than an hour to Marcoing.  We had an assignation with my contact lens couriers!  We managed to throw in a meal and some wine, except Bo, who was the only one who showed restraint on the 0% lager!  Amazing Lin and I did not suffer a bad head, but both just felt shaky … needless to say the menfolk drove late morning when we eventually set off!  Lin and Bo (& Maud the cat) are heading in a leisurely way to Crete.  Tempting to join them, but we are headed to the Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands and then to S Germany for Kerstin’s 50th; possibly Poland in between.  Who knows!

Oscar and Corrie’s Diary

Bon Jours mes enfants! Ici deux chiens – Corrie et Oscar et moi est Corrie – Le TopDog….. Alors – Oscar est ok-ish…  Nous avant en La Belle France, perchance.  My command of Franglais even surprises moi!  We are in France because our pets K and J say so.  As for the language skills, please don’t alert L’Acadamie Francais!  We’ve been to Arras, Peronne and Macoing – Lo and Bin and Maud we met – they’re good salty dogs (and cat). They imbibe a little but then – who doesn’t? K and J don’t know we steal out the gin when they’ve gone a bedding…. we clean our teeth to disguise the aroma. It’s all ‘mist to the grill’… I quite like ‘Trever Fee’ tonic. They say we’re going to someplace called ‘Neverthenlands’ – all water and canals filled with bicycles – a little boy stuck his pecker in a dyke to save people – it must been a big’un!  Oscar could do that, I think…  Well, we’ve moved on to Gouda – cheeses! Not the ones with holes in – that’s a place where the cheese is made by the little boys pecker!  Tonight J dragged us out in a thunderstorm!  Made my eyes water and my makeup ran… but I can borrow K’s makeup bag (later).

Ok – tot zien (Dutch) and watch out for stray peckers! 

Yours in treats, songs and sardines – its a good life….

Corrie and Oscar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Home & Treatment

So we are now back on the road, but just a quickish up date since our last travels in September … how the time flies.

Medical

James’ radiotherapy for prostate cancer started on 26.09.18 and continued for 7.5 weeks.  During this time we stayed on our much frequented CL in Farnham.  The treatment necessitated early starts for beat the Guildford traffic, J had a bacon roll and got to know the hospital cafe staff pretty well. He got a hug on his last day! I walked the dogs nearby and got back to the hospital as his treatment usually finished.  Side effects have been increased hot flushes – worse than mine were, but he now has tablets which have dealt with that.  He also gets tired which necessitates regular nanny naps.

About 3 weeks ago J had another PSA test (prostate problems blood test indicator) and a meeting with his rather glamorous (young, blonde, bright) oncologist.  As both she and the urologist had said previously  … all good and she doesn’t want to see him for 6 months.  The hormone therapy continues.  But we are super delighted and we really do know how lucky we are.

 

Houses

We have been thinking for some years about buying a property abroad, but J’s medical issues, made us feel more confident about staying in the UK where we both fully understand what is said to us.  Not to mention Brexit uncertainty!  So, France, Greece and Portugal all lost out!  Our tenants moved out on 12th September 2018 and we moved our motorhome onto the driveway and lived in it whilst we sorted out furniture etc. 

Our furniture that was in storage got delivered into the lounge.  One jam packed garage was disgorged and sorted into the other garage, with numerous extraneous items offered for free on the local facebook page, such as a bread oven, tables, sofa bed …

I was able to go to Guildford hospital for James’ first radiotherapy session, then we had a staff lunch with the Aged P’s (they do car care and admin for us when we are away) and then I drove back to Bristol.  The removals company had been in and loaded, so I slept in the floor and cleaned the house.  The next day the property completion took place and we (or I) took possession of our new North Devon home in Combe Martin. I played the cancer card with the removals chaps …. please move that wardrobe 6 inches to the left!   I did several full loads in the car to empty the Aged P’s attic of our stuff … full to the brim with barely breathing space for the dogs … and one trip I had a hight speed blow out on the M5.  And where was the spare?  Under a mountain of stuff, of course.

So what have we bought … a Devon long House in Combe Martin, North Devon, dating from late 1600s.   Three double bedrooms, lots of downstairs space and no grass to cut … just flower beds and two patios!  You can look at it here …   We’ve bought it with a view to letting for holiday lets and when we (eventually) want to reduce or stop our roving life, we will live in it.    So, in the meantime, if you fancy the N Devon coast for a break, you know where to book.

Whilst we were there, we had a new shower room installed, decorated one bedroom, widened the driveway, fenced the perimeter to make it dog safe, painted two lots of pine bed bedroom furniture and made 12 cushion covers, added plumbing to the utility room ….  busy busy work work chop chop bang bang.  Have come away for a rest!

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Sorting garages and furniture that arrived down from the storage unit at the house we sold.  Looks like a load of old rubbish!
 

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Tythe Barn House used to be a B&B and this is an old postcard we were given.  The porch and windows have since been updated.


North Devon Life

We commuted from Farnham weekends until mid-November, leaving the motorhome on site.  We both strongly feel attached to the village, even in the short time we lived there … until mid March.  It is a thriving village with a pulse … butcher, 4 all year pubs (we came second last a couple of times in the pub quiz!), library and doctors surgery.  Lots of good local walks etc.  Love it.  

We had a lot of visitors too … great to spend time with so many folk, but we still didn’t manage to see everyone we would have liked to.  James had a trip to Antibes to see one daughter and small grandkids and I had a week in Cuba with Maddy.

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Damien Hurst’s controversial Verity (Truth and Justice statue in Ilfracombe.

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Making paper mâché hats / lids for James and my New Year fancy dress costumes ….

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In the local pub as Salt and Pepper pots!

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We joined the RHS as Rosemoor Gardens is not far.  Their pre Christmas Night Glow was magical.

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 More art and craft … what a creative mother I am!!!!

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Lots of fudge making in the slow cooker … too tempting!

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Combe Martin bay with the tide out.

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Dog whisperer.

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Body bags … best ever purchase.

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Combe Martin Rememberance Service

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Woolacombe Beach.

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Christmas and Boxing Day with my Aged P’s and Clare, Chris etc.

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Maddy, Niecey, Louis and Zozo used to put on plays for the family, and an old programme was dug out … the blonde wig make several appearances – think Louis may still have it!

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Birthday running jacket.  Oscar asking when we’re off!

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Christmas full set of thermals … gotta remember that this is our first UK winter in 4 years, thank goodness it was a mild one!

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A rather special Niecey’s 21st.

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It had to be climbed!  We invested in a set of gaiters each as it is sooo muddy everywhere!

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Worried our little Greek dog would feel the cold … a hand knitted jacket … she didn’t go out in it though!

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Me, Mum, Clare, Tim and Dad!



Our Ladies in Havana

Maddy will soon be 21, so her birthday gift was a trip to Cuba for a week.  Actually it is the Christmas and birthday presents for the next 10 years.  3 nights in a room with an en suite in old town Havana and 4 nights in an all incl. resort.

No apologies, we were total tourists.

I have warned James that I spotted 3 hired motorhomes …. one day when we are dog free.

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The Capitol, copied from the States, of all places!  We timed it wrong to go inside, but apparently it houses one of the worlds largest indoor statues.

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We estimated that every 6th car in the city was an old American 1050’s.  A lot of Lada too from the post revolution close ties with the USSR.

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It is true … you are told to walk down the centre to avoid balconies falling on your head.

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Colour everywhere.  Most bars had live bands.

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I jumped halfway to Jamaica when this chap moved.

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More local colour.

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Cars waiting for the visitors off the cruise massive ship, which was moored up for the whole of our stay.

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Our 1950’s 2.5 hour car ride.  We’d booked seats, but as no-one else had booked, we had the driver and guide to ourselves.  The young female guide and Maddy bonded … she really liked M’s eyebrow makeup!  She told us that in Cuba you could only get the State branded makeup, which was rubbish, so you needed a friend to bring other brands in for you.  She had wanted to share a house with 3 other female friends whilst at Uni.  3 of the mothers forbade it, as the community would gossip and assume they were all gay!

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Revolution Square where major events still take place.  Our guide said that here really was NOT the place to criticise the government, as you wouldn’t be seen again.

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John Lennon in Lennon Park, not that the Beetles ever went to Cuba.

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Such a strong Dacquiri, the Mama had to help out!

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Open top tour bus; we both suffered sun burn despite, the sun lotion (unused) in my bag!

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A huge, and I mean vast, cemetery.

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View from the top of the Hotel d’Ingles, where we couldn’t get the blinking waiter to serve us, so we went elsewhere.  The super posh hotel on the left exchanged some money later on and they were super pleasant and efficient.

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At the Cuban Rum Museum, they had a model of a sugar planation.  The guide explained how rum was a by product of sugar, but most of the raw mush is now brought in, as the sugar plantations have mostly gone.

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The older run is matured in whisky barrels, so neither M nor I liked it.  Later on I won a half bottle of 10 year old, but it is still at Maddy’s!  And she doesn’t even like it!

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At Hemmingway’s fav Daiquiri bar El Floridita.  You can just spot the big man himself behind the 2 bods, who would not move!

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I managed to run a few times along the sea front, dodging the water crashing over.

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And dodging the drops straight into the sea underneath where man holes were missing.  Most of the infrastructure was needing attention.

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I told you to wear comfy shoes, and now we’ve had to swap.

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Strawberry Daiquiri, just to ring the changes.  We did manage a fair few Mohoitos too.

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 Our balcony view from our hotel in Varadero.  Included in our stay was one night in the a la carte waiter served restaurant.  They had really made an effort, by covering the chairs with fabric and bows and giving us a welcome glass of fizz … think sparkling apple juice … Oh that would be cider then.  But the food was not good.  Italian night, Maddy had mushroom risotto as the starter … long grain rice with cheese sprinkled on top and few tinned mushrooms!  A number of people left their food and headed back to the buffet with its massive choice.