1618-1634 : Chop Chop Busy Busy Work Work Bang Bang

1618-1634:  Work – Chores and Busy with Friends and Family

Monday 10th – Wednesday 26th August 2020

Do you remember the BT advert with penguins?  Chop chop work work busy busy bang bang .  That’s how it’s been with us since we landed back in the UK.  It was all so busy, I had to set up a 3 column spreadsheet so I could keep track!  And now catching up with the blog.

With a stupid o’clock crossing, we parked up for the rest of the night close to Folkestone and then drove round the M25 to the Aged Ps in Ash Vale.  Maddy and I (and the laundry) alighted from Jez and I picked up the car … leaving the laundry in the machine, dropped Maddy at her home and drove around to join J at Coxbridge Farm, the CL (5 pitch site) we regularly use.

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A bit squished!

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Obligatory pic of M25 traffic, at least it wasn’t as bad as normal and the sun was shining.  A stop at Cobham Services was a reality Covid check after a more relaxed France.

Here for a few days only and the weather was glorious. And I spent it in the stuffy and even hotter attic … I’d been warned not to add to the volume of our stuff there and as we will be emptying the van into the attic, garage and shed, pruning was needed!  Over the 5 years of on the road, we have swelled the contents … items we’ve picked up as they seemed like a good idea and others that we have carried around and not sufficiently used … they all made it into the attic.  As soon as I descended from the stuffy and sweaty roof, the weather turned …. it seemed to move into Autumn pretty rapidly.

During this period we did some socialising and chores. Our Fiat airbag warning light was resolved (new innards!), and we combined this with 2 nights on Frances and Edward’s driveway.  Niece Zozo had an 18th birthday family Garden Party and we combined this with a side trip to see Ian, Jimmy, Mel and Ruth and Brian in Rustington.  Michelle and Craig joined us outside the van, for an American supper … I’ve done their prawn and smoked salmon starter for others as it was so good.  An overnight to a soulless Club site in Bladon, Oxford, to see ancient Uni friends for supper.  Met up with another old Uni friend, just as ancient, for supper in Lydney.  A very boozy lunch with Caroline – isn’t it great when off spring can act as chauffeur?!  E Bikes are serviced … Maddy drove me to collect them one by one and I cycled them back to Ash Vale.  The car has had the air con fixed, as we will need this with taking the car to Crete.  Maddy also dragged me a number of times to her gym … we did legs, arms and cardio over 4 days, so every part of me ached.

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New labelled bottles formal my sauces … thanks David and Karen for the link.

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Our Coxbridge view … and the new ex-racehorse.

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Always love a pic of one of the Severn Bridges where J worked, whilst we had 2 nights in Aust.

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Oscar is often ambitious when it comes to sticks.

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Lydney Harbour where we overnighted after meeting Sarah, ex Uni.

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Getting comfy on a trip … we’re using trellis to keep them off now!

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Our view of Southampton – the Solent … overnighting here before the trip to Fiat.

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Our first British breakfast whilst Jez in with Fiat – It may have been with plastic cutlery and on polystyrene trays, but yummy.

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Walking in the New Forest before going to Frances and Edward.

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We saw lots of the wild New Forest Ponies …

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… and CO2 got mucky!

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Corrie nesting in Frances and Edward’s flower bed …

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… and she ousted Bevan from his bed at Bron’s.

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Weather OK one night for BBQ with Maddy.  It was supposed to be confit duck, but we couldn’t open the tin …  a quick trip to Waitrose for provisions. 

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A walk before Zozo’s 18th birthday party with views of Arundel castle.

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And Oscar found another big stick … or log.

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Birthday girl.

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Corrie and Doris hoping for cake!

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Walk on Climping Beach after the party.  New tradition to each collect a shell each beach walk for Clare and Chris’ new house.

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Ian had passed a load of Nicky’s photos to Ruth … she’d sorted some out … this was the truck Nicky and I hitched a lift back from S Spain in … we had to stow away on the freighter!

On the medical front, J has had another blood test … PSA still effectively 0.  Specsavers have lifted a chunk of £s for new glasses.  And I have had a hip Xray … not significantly showing signs of arthritis, which is good, but an old injury may be causing problems … will have to wait for a clinic appointment … initial telephone consult just as we cross over to Europe …  may need to get this looked at in Crete.  J also paid the GP to do the medical form for his post 70 C1 license … despite the government announcing that all expired licenses are valid for additional months, we don’t believe that this covers overseas … and currently think that I will have to do all the driving to and in Crete … ho hum.  Of course, no way of getting any idea of when the license may (or even further medical test) arrive. 



 


 





 


1260: Family, Friends and UK Trips Part 2

1260-1261:  Yorkshire with the Margaret and Shirley

Saturday 17th – Sunday 18th August 2019

So good to say goodbye to the Aged P’s knowing we will see them again soon.  They headed south and we headed a short distance NE to meet Margaret and Shirley (not forgetting Poppy and Boo. It was touch and go whether we met them … they’d had to be towed out of a muddy long grassed field and could easily have headed to home to clean up …  They were not be be persuaded to do Greece and East with us this winter .. it’ll be a while till we see them again.

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On the way we stumbled on Nidd Hall hotel, where I had my my honeymoon with (practice) husband No.1.  Should’ve known it was doomed, as we arrived and he promptly stuck the F1 on … all about priorities!

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 They’d found a stunning CL in Lingerfield, near Knaresborough.  Dog walking in the fields by the site and Shirley was tickled by Oscar’s ears and caught them in full upward motion! 

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Margaret grew up not far way and was our guide on Sunday around Knaresborough.

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Smiling after bacon rolls and amazing brownie for me.

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1262-1264:  Heading South

Monday 19th – Wednesday 21st

A CLs and a free night night on our way South towards Hereford.

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Clavering CL.  Down lots of winding narrow lanes so not for the feint hearted.  But so peaceful with the dog walking field at the back, so we stayed two nights and had an admin day.

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Then the most amazing wilding spot at Clee Hill Quary.  It was a quarry on and off since Bronze age days, had its own railway and industrial buildings are evident.   It is an amazing mound in the middle of lower rolling landscape.  https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/titterstone-clee-hill

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Radar station on top. 

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360 views all the way round, but a little windy … and another funny ear movement. 

1265-1269:  Hereford Meet

Thursday 22nd – Monday 26th August

Another wildcamping.co.uk meet with some ‘old’ and new friends.  We managed to get a riverfront pitch.

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We spent some quality time and meals with Pat and Jim, who we’d shared our Orkney adventures with.  We went to the Bulmer’s cider factory … they expanded and then over extended and much of where the factory was is now a Sainsburys.

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Generous tastings at the end.

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We attempted a sculpture bike ride around Hereford, but there were so many twists and turns, we aborted and had lunch in the pub!  This statue was erected by someone who survived one of the plagues, don’t know what the benefactor would have made of it being in the middle of a roundabout.

We also watched England thrashing Ireland at Twickenham in a pub … pure magic!!!  Says I!!!  And I did some knitting and chatting with the ladies.  I had an eye check up … contact lens in left eye to avoid reading glasses, working well, so I ordered a year’s supply.  And the sun came out … I think my shorts made it out for about an hour before I got chilly.

1270-1273:  Back Home and Multi-Medicals

Thursday 22nd – Friday 20th August

En route back home, we dropped the e-bikes into the centre of Bristol for their annual check up (service) … free servicing for life from the store we purchased them.  Apparently, they’ve tightened both chains to stop them slipping.  We shall see … not been on them since.

J’s oncologist still very happy with the way his prostate treatment is going … seems she is from near Palermo, Sicily and holidays every year in Sardinia, where we’ve just been.  So good to go.

With Jez on Clare and Chris’s drive, we emptied him most thoroughly and cleaned all the interiors of cupboards, footwells etc.  Stuff stacked up in the Aged P’s garage now, as well as the shed, attic and our bedroom.  They were away again, so had no control how much stuff came over!  Jez was soon to be dropped at Bristol Caravans for his medical – MOT (first and a little early), both services, electric check and very outstanding warranty work.  We packed our bags for what we wanted whilst in our house in N Devon for two weeks.

On Friday we collected the e-bikes and had supper chez Stephen and Kay, our old neighbours … we sold that house last September.

1274-1286:  Home in Combe Martin

Saturday 30th August to 13th September

Loading our shopping bags and boxes of stuff (being van dwellers, we don’t have suitcases or holdalls!) in the the car, we left Jez and the long list of works with Bristol Caravans, Tackled the M5 south and across to Combe Martin to the house we bought last September.  We have had an amazing first season of holiday lettings …. just as well we’d booked ourselves in for the two weeks, or it would have been back to back house guests.

We managed just a few house guests of our own, Sinead and Shane Lin and Bo, Maddy and Robyn.  And a coffee and and wine fuelled evening with locals Debbie, Brian and Annette.  Annette is the sculpture talent behind Cornish Creatures … mostly seagulls and puffins with attitude … check them out here …https://www.facebook.com/rockyandcliff  but she’s just started branching out into more serious works.  I’m lusting after her nose to nose at the finish line racing greyhounds in bronze.

We managed to better our 2nd from last score at the pub quiz, by coming last!  Our team name was Brain Fog!

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It felt like slipping on a comfy dressing gown being back in the house.  Corrie settled right back in under the TV.

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The new Cool Garden at RHS Rosemoor … I went twice … with Maddy and then James.  Making the most of my membership card for this last year. 

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I’m fascinated but the rhythm of the glass blowing process at Dartington.  And being a resident with an EX postcode, I and a guest get in free.

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Lots of beach walks … this is Hebdon Mouth.

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And Saunton Sands.

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A favorite – Woolacombe.

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And our own Newberry’s Beach in Combe Martin which is dog friendly.

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And the main beach, which is NOT dog friendly until 1st October.

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Sunset over Combe Martin.  Sadly the second week saw some torrential rain … our plumber who was supposed to replace the utility room roof, ended up repairing the sky light leaks in his own motorhome!  So the roof will have to be done another time.

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Exhausted wet, but happy dogs!

Bristol Caravans managed to do the hab and engine services, the MOT and the electrical test, which had thrown up some unusual and dangerous wiring, but failed to complete a single other task.  They ran out of time, so these were outstanding:

  • Fit a fuel cut off switch
  • Clean the air suspension filters
  • Warranty work on front blind (Adria had sent the wrong one … again!)
  • Warranty work on the bubbling decals (Adria had sent some vinyl, but not the back, so they couldn’t complete this)
  • Warranty work on the hab door … Adria had not sent all the parts, so Bristol Caravans managed to source a breaker’s yard door and cannibalise some of the parts for a temporary fix.  HOWEVER, it transpires that the door and frame have warped … and we have a resulting crack in the side wall.  All the warranty work has been going on well over a year now … completely rubbish service.  Luckily for us, one of the Adria UK staff was nearby and took a look at our hab door damage and the result is that we need a full new door, door frame …. and a side wall!!!  Thankfully, after a few emails, Adria has agreed that as it is consequential damage, we will not have to pay.  But based on the service so far … it is anyone’s guess as to when and where!  Just hope the temporary fix to the door holds for this trip!
  • Oh, and whilst there we had 4 new tyres fitted.

Slightly irritated that not everything we’d asked to be done was done, we contacted Mulacott Caravans in Ilfracombe.  Yes, they could fit us in next week, so we picked up the van early on the middle Saturday and took it straight into them.  They are brilliant!

  • They fitted a battery monitor, so I now have a % charge on our lithiums on my phone (the lithiums don’t work with the on board control panel)
  • As one of the two UK approved Goldschmidt air suspension installers, they corrected the install we had done in Greece …. moved part of the system so that it was no longer 1mm from a rear tyre … dont’ know how we didn’t have a blow out …!  And protected the wiring with conduit.
  • Cleaned the lpg gas filters
  • Fitted fridge fans
  • Moved the sine wave inverter from right next to the lithiums, where its heat would not do them any good, to under the driver’s seat.
  • Re-attached some battery wiring (a bit loose from Bristol C!) and up graded some to low spec wires.
  • Installed a fuel cut off switch.
And all in a week … when it hadn’t been booked in.
If anyone fancies renting a holiday home in N Devon, do check us our first!  Tythe Barn House, Combe Martin

1287-1299:  Limbo in Ash Vale

Saturday 14th – Wednesday 25th September

We had to vacate the house by 10.00 as Clair the housekeeper had to come in and clean up after us for the next set of house guests!

 

In convoy we drove back to drop Jez to Clare and Chris’ driveway whist we installed ourselves (again) with the Aged P’s.  Stuff from attic, bedroom, shed and garage all scrutinised with regard to whether it deserved a place back in Jez.  Once almost fully loaded we took Jez to a weigh bridge … a chalk quarry, so guess what colour the footprints in the van were!  An interesting old chap did the weighing … he’d been granted French citizenship … I surprised him by asking if he was Foreign Legion.  He claimed to have been ‘attached’ to them, but saw active service in many French ‘empire’ battles, such as Chad.  Bet he had some tales.  Anyway, Jez came in at 4.2 tons, rear axle not over laden 🙂  Happy bunnies.  Really pleased we up plated last year from 4250 to 4850kgs.
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CO2 trying to be invisible at the vet sorting out their pet Health Certs, just in case …
 
We completed so much admin whilst at home … van insurances, breakdown (we now have ADAC but they only cover 4 months trips, Fiat Assist, but they only cover EU, so we also now also have RAC for Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, and Starling Insurance who will cover Turkey!!!), travel / health insurance. Updated software etc etc.  We were hoping that the bumper repair (low loader damage whilst in Corsica) would be done on Friday 27th, so had put our tunnel crossing back to Tuesday 1st October.  But on hearing one part is still outstanding (Adria!), we gave up the wait and brought the crossing forward.  Had we wanted to pay an additional £94, we could have travelled the same day, but we can do much better good with that kind of money, so we crossed at 0123 hrs on Thursday 26th.  And onto our next adventure … Greece and East!

289 – Feeding Frenzy

May 30th 206 – 12th June …. Repairs and Seeing People

Bristol for Chardonnay’s visit to the motorhome surgeon

From the Wildcamping.co.uk Rutland meet we stayed on Bristol Marina for 2 nights, courtesy of a friend.  Great location, right on the harbourside.  Dentist for K (just a filling), picked up my car from Mercedes, who had kindly agreed to do a bumper paint job FOC, and we dropped Chardonnay in for her repairs.  These were jobs that Family Leisure Travel in Brislington (Bristol) had not had time to do in April, had not been able to get hold of the parts and to deal with the dreaded damp they had found on her habitation service.  We did manage to catch up with quite a few friends in one sitting and had a great meal out.  

On one of our morning runs, J spotted a cyclist that had been knocked off her bike at a roundabout … he checked she was OK, whilst I got to control the traffic flow around the roundabout …. oh the power.  I was quite disappointed when the Policeman thanked me and told me he could take over!  But if I ever need a job, it fair beats teaching!

 

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Surprised to spot this advert!  And on a newish truck.


Ash Vale – Home!

Having left Chard in Bristol, we were now homeless.  So we moved into our ‘official’ residence.  Post comes here.  The car and Chard are registered here. Our Brexit Postal Vote came here.  We have occupied half the attic with a lot of our stuff.  We keep a wash kit here.  K’s parents are very long suffering!  Whilst here for a week, we managed to catch up with a few people and had a few days out with the Aged P’s.

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Al & Mark, Bron & Dave and Gill & Gordon in Kingston

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Aged P’s impression of the stone Eagle at The Vyne, National Trust

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Maddy Munchkin – this is apple juice, honest.

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Lunch out – “Was I sharing the Black Sambucca? Better have one of my own!!!”

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A Basingstoke Canalside run … this poor swan had 9 cygnets.  Could have been all hers or perhaps it was a cygnet Play Date.

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More canal wildlife, which gave me an excuse to pause in my running!

We also managed to squeeze in a tea, and thanks for the homemade scones, with Sharon and Katharine and K had a great fish BBQ with Bev, Mike and Lottie, whilst James met up with his youngest daughter and eldest son in London.  The week past in such a blur and we did not manage to do everything we’d planned.  I think there may have been 11 loads through the washing machine!

We collected Chard on the Friday …. all repairs completed 🙂 and drove back to Surrey … I followed J in the car and received a phone all from an unknown number – Candida, an ex colleague, had recognised my car as she overtook me on the M4 …. great to have a catchup.

We park Chard at my sister’s house as she has room on the drive.  They also fed us and we fed the fire pit!  A bit of a later night than planned, but after a long day, we deserved a bevy.

I don’t know how, but we filled the car removing our sacks of washing etc from the Aged P’s house to take over to Chardonnay.  Dad came with us to take the car back to its official residence.  We arrived at Clare’s and the gate code would not work.  Clare, Chris and family all out!  Bugger – I’d got frozen foods that needed urgently to go into the freezer.  My hero came to the rescue … we lobbed James over the fence (his crown jewels took a bit of a beating whilst he balanced on the top) and he drove Chard down the drive to activate the gates … we then nipped through whilst he reversed several bendy hundred feet. 

 

Feeding Non-stop in the New Forest (Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th June)

We’d originally planned to meet Penny, a motorhomer we’d met in Italy and kept in touch with, but she had to work. So J had got in touch with Geoff and Carole, who gave us tea, cucumber sarnies and scones!  They are both petrol heads who are celebrating their Ruby Wedding next weekend …. between them they have 3 MGs and two other cars … we both fell in love with this 1993 V8, which was Carole’s new toy …

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The pic does not do it justice … it really is a thing of beauty and given their wedding anniversary and the colour, it’s name …. Ruby!

We arrived in New Milton to be fed a BBQ by Frances and Edward … this is the amazing couple we met twice in Sicily and then again in Naples … they, like us, like food, travel and can knock back a glass or two …. no wonder we get on so well!  Not only had they offered us their driveway for two nights, but the electric hook up cable was ready and waiting for us.    The Sunday plan was to picnic at the town Queen’s Birthday celebration with another couple, but as you know plans do not always get stuck to.  We started on the sherry at 11.45.  Lunch was leisurely.  So leisurely that we did not finish until 10.00 pm …. I think this must have been the longest lunch record for us all!  The closest we got to the Queen’s festivities was the program of events that Edward printed off!  We did raise a glass to her Majesty.  

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Would that be the bottle of Benedictine we’re battling through?!  Was I posing for the photo, or can’t I sit up straight?

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Inspired by Frances and Edward, I too wore red, white and blue.  Being Irish, J was absolved.


289 – Monday 13th June:  Back on the Road again

The feeding did not stop … we were breakfasted on smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, followed by a choice of three homemade marmalades!   I would declare that we will stop this feeding frenzy and get back onto a carefully controlled diet (well for me), but I can’t quite see the end of it yet.  We have driven up from the New Forest to Scotland – just over the border to a wild camping next to Gretna.  Tomorrow we will visit a good friend of J’s from when he worked in Jordan … I suspect that more good food is to come our way … I have managed to remain tee total tonight.

Whilst it is absolutely brilliant to spend time with friends and family (and I am missing Maddy and the Aged P’s especially), we are both very happy to be back on the road heading for places, scenery and adventures we don’t yet know.  

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Our nosey neighbours on our overnight pitch.