1048-1087: Enjoying Extracts of England

 1048 -1051:  MAS Walking from Urchfont

Thursday 19th to Sunday 22nd July 2018

We left N Devon to join the MAS Wessex (Mountain Activity Section of the Camping and Caravan Club) in Urchfont Wiltshire.  Our good friends Frances and Edward were stewarding the meet.  The other walkers and non walkers were a lovely bunch of people, all getting together mid afternoon for coffee and cakes.  Many of which were home baked … one of our donations was Fondant Fancies baked by hand by Mr Kippling … remember those?  I can and do cook, but I am not a baker, I leave that to my sister who is a Baker by marriage.  I did 3 walks, 2 of which were on the Ridgeway.  Last time I walked the Ridgeway some years ago with James and our former Welsh Springer Spaniel, Will the Wuss, J took a photo of me peeing en plain air on the Ridgeway!  Pretty rolling country, nothing too challenging with lots of thatch cottages.  A very good pub lunch on Sunday, with left overs from my plate to make a casserole the following supper.

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Real hay bales.

1052 -1056:  Drawn Back to Devon

Monday 23rd to Thursday 26th July

We had a window before we were due back to Farnham so we left the walking group a day early and bolted back to N Devon.  A Caravan and Motorhome Club CL farm, near Bideford this time. Bikes out along Tarka Trail twice.

We pushed the boat out, or peddled the wheels out, with lunches, one in Bideford – Thai then supper after a few glasses back in Instow.  It was a bit of a gastro trip, as we sampled a lot of the locally produced ice creams too.

We really liked Instow and its view across to Appledore.  Bideford is worth a wander around too.

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Supper made with left over roast chicken from yeterday’s Sunday lunch.  Awning and dog run up.

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Instow across to Appledore.

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J’s flashing dangly balls.

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Just chilling before we decided supper here would be in order too.  And that is a glass of water, as well as the wine!

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Along the Torridge River on the Tarka Trail.

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1057 -1064:  Farnham

Friday 27th July to Friday 3rd August

Friday – arrived, our Palace erected at our usual CL in Farnham.  Maddy rang – bored and can she come over?  We fed her and then tried to watch Mama Mia 1 until Corrie launched herself at M and knocked a glass of wine over the MacBook.  Upended, dried and left to dry out.  Miraculously it worked 2 days later. 

Sunday – cinema with Maddy – Mama Mia – Here We Come Again.  We enjoyed it, but it did lack the zest and spontaneous feel of the first one.  We missed the real Donna and would have liked more of her.  Lunch was roast chicken in the slow cooker – M’s request.  She brought cake, which J finished the next day.  She’s no baker either … Betty Crocker.

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We finally met the oncologist.  She was, I guess most untypical of any medic.  Slim, youngish, blond and charming … altogether a stunner.  Even I wouldn’t have minded her tending to me.  She reiterated what we’ve been told before that J will have a cure and said that she was now putting him forward for the radiotherapy.  All good news and again we know how lucky we are.

The Aged P’s came to supper … they just been burying Gladys’s urn in her parents grave on the Wirral.  They chatted to her in the car on the way up.  Before the trip, she had been sat on their mantle piece.  

Lynn and Ian, who we met 3 yrs ago in Slovenia, also came to supper.  We’ve kept in touch all this time, but our paths had not yet crossed.  

A day trip to Polesden Lacey National Trust.  Home of the society hostess Mrs Greville.  She was the heiress to the McKewan fortune and married nobility.  A social climber who people loved or hated, but she hosted all, from  royalty, to politicians, writers and artists etc. The Queen Mum had part of her honeymoon here.  She left her fabulous jewellery collection to the Royal Family and it is still worn on special occasions.  Camila often wears one of the tiaras; this is somewhat ironic as it was her grandmother Alice Kepple, mistress to the Prince Regent, who was a regular guest of Mrs Greville.

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1065 -1066:  Flying Visit to Our New House

Saturday 4th to Sunday 5th August

The local estate agent rang us to say the owners of the house we are buying were in residence there and had offered to do a tour to explain how things worked.  Too good an offer to refuse.  Our actual destination was to slowly wend our way to a meet in Northumberland, but N Devon was now our not insignificant detour!

We left car in Rothbury and drove the loooong slow drive through Bristol back to Combe Martin.  We’ve decided that where we can, we need to do this drive either very early in the day or late at night during holiday periods … the M5 just S of Bristol and the alternative of the A303 by Stonehenge are to be avoided.  We had booked a CL farm nearest our new house.  Discovered when we paid, the the CL owner is a builder – does work for National Trust … not saying our new house is special, but it was built a long time ago!

With no car, we free wheeled down to the the new house.  We met the owners, who were very generous with coffee, their time and information. The house is a C16 Devon long house with a Victorian extension.  We walked a bit along the coastal path and then fell into a pub for a late lunch.  An Anglo/Dutch couple supplied us with live music and the pub owner supplied CO2 with a massive plate of left over turkey.  We liked this pub a lot … can see it becoming a local.  Thank goodness for batteries … we were in full ‘pleasure mode’ to climb the hill back to our pitch.

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Our CL just out of Combe Martin.

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Looking down onto Combe Martin from the coastal path.

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1067 -1069:  Carsington Water

Monday 6th to Wednesday 8th August

Drove to a small £7 water and chemical toilet only site overlooking Carsington Water.  We had planned to stay on a C&CC Temporary Holiday site, but accidentally pulled into the normal camping field.  Given it was cheaper, less busy and with better views, we stayed put.  

We had an easy day, blogging, and chilling.  In fact, I only got off the camp ground to walk the dogs and grab an ice cream!  

I’ve always had a fancy to have a go a Stand Up Paddle boarding.  So we did.  We tried to book a lesson, but all the instructors were doing other things, and to be honest, there is very little to it.  Well, I can say that as I watched YouTube videos the night before and mastered the ‘skill’ straight away.  Not saying, I didn’t come off, I did.  The videos had not told me how to turn and I soon discovered, it is not the same way as in canoe … the SUP went sharply one way and I dived the other!  Now, J should have watched the videos with me … he managed to stand up for an instant, but then back to kneeling.  When he came off, he up ended the board and had to be rescued Hawii 5 O style by a family of 5!  I think that this is the only time I have EVER been better than J at a sport!  I think my core is stronger due to Pilates.  Loved it, but quickly worked out that we can not carry a standard board in the van and inflatables seem to be really expensive.  

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The YouTube expert!

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1070 -1075:  WildCamping Meet Druridge Bay

Thursday 9th to Tuesday 14th August

The meet was held in a Country Park next to the coast.  A lovely long sandy beach, when the tide was out, and adjacent to a lake.  We knew a few bods from previous meets and I got to play crib with Oldish Hippy (Barrie) and we did a lovely cycle ride with Meg, who we bought the awning from.  We cycled through Amble to Warkworth, where there is a massive medieval castle once the home of the Percy family, Earl of Northumberland and Harry Hotspur.  We also walked along the river to the Hermitage, carved out of the local soft stone.  At lunch we were entertained by the squealing pack of young ladies who had an aversion to wasps!  Pudding was an ice cream stop in Amble, where we bought fish and local cheese.  We had a wet day and didn’t move much.  The awning stopped being a living space as it was too cold to sit out an became a garage for the bikes and the Os-car.  Our final full day was also looking damp and grey, so we drove to the National Mining Museum.  This was fascinating as it explained about mining conditions, pit accidents and showed some old footage of the 80’s mining strike … Scargill and Thatcher both standing firm for their beliefs.

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Park Run around the lake … not his best time, but he was full of the head cold I’d shared!

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 Wickworth and castle, surrounded by water on 3 sides.

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James, Meg and Blanche entering the Hermitage.  Meg stuffs Blanche into her back pack for cycling … secured with the draw string.  Blanche is quite happy looking this way and that!  And the odd yawn … much to the amusement and amazement of people who spot her.  At one point we were walking in single file with a dog each … me and Oscar, J and Corrie and finally Meg and Blanche.  A young lad, coming the opposite way, announced ‘Cute, Cute and Cuter!”  CO2 you’ve been upstaged!

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Inside the Hermitage … several rooms all carved out.

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On the small boat to cross to the Hermitage.  Corrie really not happy to come aboard and had to be carried.

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Wickworth Castle.

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Ashington Mining Museum.

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It was superstition not to wash your back as dirt made you stronger!

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Some of the miners were coached in modern art by a chap from the University and most of the paintings depict life in mining Northumberland.  The Pitmen Painters were celebrated in the play Billy Elliot.

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Watching for our return 🙂

1076 -1084:  Farnham Again

Wednesday 15th August to Thursday 23rd August

Back ‘home again’.  We had to do the journey down from Northumberland in one day as J had another hormone injection on 15th  It was a fairly quiet time with lots of admin jobs completed, not the Blog though!  This is being caught up with in Ireland!  

I went to see Incredibles 2 with Maddy. She stated she’d had to wait 13 years since the 1st one, and it was worth the wait … good fun.  We caught up with Michelle and Craig.  Simon, one of J’s sons, was back in London for a few days so he joined us for lunch … it was cold enough for us to move out of the awning and into Jez with the heating on!  My best nephew, Louis did really well in his A levels and has his place as an IT Management apprentice with Deloittes.  Niece Zozo did well with her GCSEs too and we surprised her at her celebration breakfast in Farnham with the Aged P’s.  Mum said afterwards that both J and I were wrapped up for winter … how will we cope?  

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We spotted a small poster advertising the Farnham VE day celebration and as we had time, we sat and listened to a fab Glen Miller band.  One of those unexpected moments in time.

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Aah … snuggle time.

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I had a great meal out with the Girls … mothers and daughters.  Well, the company was great, the food was not!  Having raised various issues with the manager, who was having to sort out issues with most tables, we got a bottle of wine free, 10% off etc.  Maddy and Dayna are besties since age 4 and D has been on quite a few camping trips with us.

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J had two trips to the radiotherapy unit in Guildford … not sure why radiotherapy is an Experience.  Isn’t that something that is considered fun?  Anyway, he is now tattooed already for radiotherapy on 26th September.


1085 -1086:  Henley-in-Arden Wildcamping Meet

Friday 24th August to Monday 27th August

Having had such a good time in Druridge Bay with the wildcamping crowd we made a quick decision to join them in Henley-in-Arden.  Only a few hours up the M40 and we could get there between hospital appointments on the Friday and the Tuesday … literally, as we left after one and arrived back in time for the other!  We met up with a couple who live in Mychett, the next village to my parents and where I grew up and played Splodge, a fun version of contract whist.  I did an 8+ km walk with Hippy – registered disabled and on crutches … I could watch as he hoiked himself over high styles … nearly over balancing as Corrie shot between his legs!  Not sure how much morphine he had to take after … A curry night.  And J was delighted to listen to a Stones tribute band.  Really good to meet more people, who I only knew as avatars.  


1087: Farnham Overnight

Tuesday 28th August

We had one night back in Farnham to turn ourselves around … washing at Rothbury, collecting fridge and bags of food I’d shopped for before Henley and left there.  Hospital appointment, a small shop and cooked supper for Maddy.  Busy Then! 

Tomorrow … off to Ireland.


A few bonus pix

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J’s grandchildren Jade and Cian … just how gorgeous are they!  Scrummy.

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I sent this pic to Maddy with the suggestion I revise my funeral plan.  Her response was “I refuse to have to water you”.

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478-495: Chardonnay Returns and into Devon

K starts blogging … finally, after a bit of a gap

478-482 – Friday 16th – Tuesday 20th September 2016:  Passing Time

It’s horrible.  I know it really is not a major disaster in the grand scheme of things, but …  We’ve still no Chardonnay …we have pretty much lived in her for 18 months and all of a sudden she and every thing she stands for is on hold.  We are not free to come and go as we please or to change our plans at will.  We are just thankful to have the use of the Aged P’s house … we could have nowhere to go and thus be in a very small, wet and cold tent or spending hundreds on a dodgy hotel room!  J has much better equilibrium than I … I am decidedly down about the whole thing.  Kick up arse and get on with something!!!

Over the next few days we walk a fair bit.  A super walk around Polesden Lacey, a National Trust house, and along the Basingstoke Canal. When the red flags are down to indicate no firing, we get up and high on the military ranges.  We manage to squeeze in a few spring cleaning jobs in the house too.

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Fleet Pond, very close to where I used to live. Oscar experimenting with a paddle!

One chore that actually provided a good result was doing my Tax Return.  As my sole income is some of the house rental, I earn very little and can gift J 10% of my allowance and HMRC actually owes me!

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Not enough to dine out on through!

Trying to do J’s Tax Return has proved anything but straight forward.  As he has an Irish passport, he has to go through gov.verify – we tried the Post Office … it crashed at the end.  Another said insufficient data held and finally it worked with the third … we’re in … No, we’re not.  Need his UTR number … a 30 min wait on the phone to HMRC and finally we’re in …. yes we really are!  Just need to finish it now!

Chardonnay update … fuse box corrosion … they think.  Fiat Technical also think!  Replaced it … Fiat took her for a road test and had to carry her back on another low loader!  The replacement fuse box was faulty … need to wait for another!

 

483 – Wednesday 21st September 2016:  Homeless!

K collected the Aged P’s from Heathrow, whilst J did some last minute cleaning up after ourselves.  After a coffee, we were off heading down to Bristol.  Would we?  Wouldn’t we get Chard back?  We’d stressed to Fiat that we were now homeless (I know we could have stayed on with the Aged P’s, but they’d just flown in from the States and really needed to be in their own home … alone … know how we’d have felt).  No, not to be … Fiat Technical want Fiat Bristol to do more tests tomorrow.  So we visited Chardonnay in the Fiat workshop.  Patted her bonnet, delivered grapes and lashings of sympathy … and dropped off stuff we did not need and collected a small tent, bedding etc!

We spent the night at a super quiet campsite near Weston Super Mere.  It poured down during the night … the fly sheet stuck to the inner … and our pillows and duvet got wet!  This is why we have a thousands of pounds motorhome … Oh no we don’t!  

 

484 – Thursday 22nd September 2016:  Mooching around Western

The sun came out for breaky and to dry the tent off.  Oscar had slept in the car.  Whilst he kept dry he was not happy and was shaking when J let him out.  He really is ‘special’!

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Fiat told us not to come in till the afternoon … they would call us … think we may have worn their patience thin with how often we rang for an update!  We walked the length of Weston sea front and had a light (semi liquid)  lunch in an Italian.  Finally Fiat said we could come and collect Chardonnay late afternoon … they are 100% convinced she is now fully engine functional!  Traffic was horrendous through Bristol – It was touch and go whether we would make it before they shut up for the night … we had visions on another wet canvas night!  By the time we finally had Chard back, it was gone 6.00 p.m. …. Tired and not up to thinking about wild camping, we rang Hortham Farm, the CL we had to leave early when Chard died … the owner very generously gave us a freebie.  I picked up a £10 meal deal so it was a very relaxed and easy evening.  We pottered and put things away and just enjoyed being back home!

 

J picks it up …

485 – Friday 23rd September 2016: Ilfracombe Area

We drove Chardonnay and Merc to North Devon which has captivated us (where has not captivated us on our travels?) and a lovely farm CL.  Not being 100% confident in Chardonnay’s repair ourselves, despite the 100% thumbs up from Fiat, we drove both vehicles down.  It also meant we had a car to navigate some of the small Devon lanes.

Nice easy BBQ and chilling… back in our travelhome – not Travelodge but definitely a Premier Innlodgings!  

Only one other van in a large and slightly muddy field – we had parked at the bottom end to give our neighbours maximum space…  It rained, so we heeded the farmers’s advice and moved up the slope … closer to the other resident.  Next morning – a visit from the farmer .. could we move forward as we were blocking access to the water.  No problem, of course … I waved at the chap having moved and he did the ‘sod off and go away’ wave … what a sod(!) … he could have experienced some damp sods too if he’d been lower down the field.

 

486 – Saturday 24th September 2016:  Blowing a Gale

A late start, thankfully – and a (rare for now) run – quite short but just the right distance…

We walked from Combe Martin on a very up and down route – towards the two Hangman Peaks (why Hangman?) I can confirm that Oscar and I had hangdog faces on some of the climbs!  But of course not K – she doesn’t do hanglady looks… only when young Oscar trips her up and he gets the teacherly Oscarhung visage… there’s an anagram lurking here somewhere…

Now then – pray pay attention reader – and those who are fans of “Strictly” – does this mean we have more than one reader? We can reveal exclusively that we have the likely 2016 Champion of the show!  His name is – long pause for maximum effect…..Oscar!!!  We tried to entice him to chase (and retrieve) a stick – it was working quite well… until it went into the heather. Our Chimp – sorry Champ galloped in pursuit – and then stopped dead in dogpuzzlement – or pugdozzlement?  This heather stuff didn’t quite suit his delicate feet – so he minced/danced his way very gingery and slowly out of the heathery stuff!  The new dance is called the “Torntangledevontango” – will we see this in all the clubs?  He is already a multiple hits star on Facebook – please send requests for autographs to us (with money of course – his/our food/drinks are very expensive, especially as he (?) we quite like Wicked Wolf gin…. more about that libation later…

 

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487 – Sunday 25th September 2016:  Food Market in Lynton

Food market in Lynton – what can we say – it drew us like flies to a pile of chips!  Maybe not quite the semaphore, sorry metaphor you expected… Cheeses, sausages, pates, bread, other foodgoodies – and – gin!  As we may have elucidated earlier, we discovered “Dancing Cow” gin in the New Forest – we blame everything on Frances and Edward – they always lead us astray!  Lynmouth has “Wicked Wolf” gin – regrettably, we cannot blame F&E for this – the bottle sort of flew off the shelf and smacked us in the gob!  A gobful was sufficient to persuade K&J that further research was essential – in the purest interests of science… we are hopeful of being nominated for the Noble (not Nobel!) Prize for ginresearchfullness! …. we haven’t touched a drop yet – promise….  Back to sobriety, it’s obvious that boutique gin distilleries are the ‘in/gin’ thing at the moment… 

We met a delightful couple who have just bought a Mazda Bongo – we have amazing memories of our Bongo – pre-Chardonnay…

We zigzagged our way down to Lynmouth ‘gin’gerly…oh dear, it’s that ‘ginthing’ again… we do quite like water also…

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Looking down to Lynmouth from Lynton … yes, a steepish descent.

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Idyllic – children paddling whatever the cold.

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Check out my new hat … I knitted it!

488 – Monday 26th September 2016:  Back to Brizzle and Friends

Despite our higher up pitch, we struggled to get out of the farm cleanly … with all the rain the ground was very soft and Chard had a nice smattering of mud all up her sides and inside where the windows were open!  Note to selves:  hard standing in the UK in Autumn (and some summers!).

Foodadmin early – K supermarket shopping and meal prepping… as Kay and Stephen coming over for supper to us back at Hortham Farm… a skip and a jump from the houses we let out.  En route we stopped to look at Rapido new vans – low payload and insufficient kitchen space.  

It was K&S’ first meeting with Oscar.  They have two gorgeous border collies; Kay does agility with them and has been on training courses with a dog guru / whisperer … she’s picked up a lot as she literally had Oscar eating our of her hand.  Too much detail coming … I said I was unhappy that Oscar’s food was not right for him as he excretes too often and it is soft.  She’s moved over to an 80/20 diet (80% meat, 20% vegetables and no grains … Oscar has now been gradually moved over to this and I won’t go graphic on you, but consistency and frequency are much improved!!! 


489 – Tuesday 27th September 2016:  More Repairs

Back to Family Travel Centre in Bristol – fresh water leak to be investigated and the habitation door central locking was acting up, since Fiat had been through every inch of wiring.  Our friends at FLT are also the local Adria dealer …we had seen an A class previously … salesman showed us some normal vans … smaller and less payload … on to look at the top of the range model …. he will cost it out for us whilst we walk and the Chard repairs are done.  We decided to buy it after doing our own numbers!!!  

Deal done on a coin flip – the sales director almost fell off his chair – the idea of customers deciding a £xxx van purchase on a coin toss!  Could have ready for 21st Oct – Pyrenees for 24th October to meet the Aged Ps’

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Meet Jez … Adria Sonic Supreme … Sonic the Hedgehog … hedgehog in Slovenian is JEZ

490 – Wednesday 28th September 2016: Back to Devon

Late start as eventually fell into a patchy sleep.  K Collected new carpets in the car so they can be dropped shortly in the Aged P’s attic, or they would’ve ended up living in the garage for 6 months.  Then onto  a CL with hard standing … no issues with getting out after the rain again.

 

491 – Thursday 29th September 2016:  Laundry Day and a Limp

Water supplies on the CL and the twin tub was wheeled out for mega laundry – the wind would have dried a forest of clothes… 

We walked Oscar and he had fun with his favourite ball – his ball skills might get him into the Wales football team – but only if they make him Captain – and manager!  He developed a limp – the first health concern we have had about him… he will see the vet next Monday – it’s not a bad limp though, fortunately.  Due to said limp, we had a short walk around Ilfracombe – he still managed to tweak my back when he pulled hard – nothing wrong with his muscles!  Ilfracombe was very windy…

 

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We set off to walk around this head …

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… J hanging onto a lamp post to avoid being blown away.

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The great view around the corner. 

492 – Friday 30th September 2016: Woody Bay

We started the day in our (K’s) Merc driving towards Woody Bay to have a walk – via a toll road. Just as well we were not in Chardonnay – the road got more and more narrow until we decided to turn the car around and abort – back to a previously spotted car park!

Woody Bay is where K’s Mum Diane and Dad Grahame and visited years ago with Nanny – the photo shows how it got it’s name… a steep descent to the beach (almost) as the last section was very slippery.  Thankfully, no sign of his nib’s limp…  

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Hunters Inn provided our luncheon break – ‘luncheon’ is such a nice and slightly archaic term – as our reader will appreciate… I tried the Stoweford Press cider – scrumptious drink from Cornwall. We chatted (in between the Oscar Appreciation Society – OAS – not OAPs) to a lovely couple who have sadly given up full-time motor homing due to health issues, but they still go away a lot in a caravan and just need to plan a route to the nearest hospital should the need arise.

The nearby National Trust shop was the next stop for anti-Oscar rugs – to prevent him jumping up on the Jez seats and drooling all over them – we will do our own drooling over all of Jez. It will take some time getting used to calling our van Jez after 5 years of ‘Chardonnaying’ our way around Europe…

 

493 – Saturday 1st October 2016: Separate Drives up to Farnham

A six hour drive in separate vehicles saw us back to Coxbridge Farm in Surrey – this feels very much like home – our 4th (?) visit… I listened to the replayed All Ireland football final on RTE radio – you get magical pictures on the radio… my team Dublin won by 1 point in extra time – but we feel hugely sorry for Mayo who have waited 65 years for this trophy… Next year maybe? 

 

494 – Sunday 2nd October 2016:  Alice Holt Walk and Dinner with Family

Family time – the best of times!  A woggydalk in Alice Holt parkland – we have never seen so many young children on bikes with parents who looked totally stressed! As we have both been there (a combination of 5 children between us), we have definitely got the tee-shirts. Our manchild Oscar was impeccably behaved even without his bike – well a metaphorical bike. On a digressive note, years ago when I was a young frog, no – sprog, there was a bike repair shop in Dublin near Amiens St Station – also near the infamous “Monto” – you will know about this Amelia… the shop was called “Cyclelogical” – genius or what? 

The Aged Ps hosted dinner and Clare and Chris and Louis and Zozo joined in with us. During the meal, K (who was driving me to and from Coxbridge Farm) heard Diane say “why don’t you stay the night?” Beds are always made in anticipation, or just in case…  K’s next G&T was despatched like a ferret up a drainpipe!  Have you ever seen a ferret racing up a drainpipe with a G&T in it’s gob?  No, you cry!  We despatched the most excellent food…again.  Chicken with prunes and olives, two puds and cheese from their recent trip to France … 

 

495 – Monday 3rd October 2016:  Oscar’s Passport … and Jimmy & Ian

Aldershot supervet Sarah gave Oscar his final pet passport jab and examined his paw – no obvious problems as he quivered under the chair… Thinking of paws, as we paws for thought – absolutely dreadful pun, James… Winston Churchill once famously said – “Paw paw is better than War war!”.  Actually, he said “Jaw jaw is better than War war” – but Oscar prefers the “Paw paw” version. – not that he will ever go to war – unless it is food wars!   We finally left the Merc at the Aged P’s and were able to drive together and share the driving.

Since we started our full time motor homing, our last/first stay on leaving and entering the UK is the wonderful home of Jimmy, Ian (and Nicky) Read in Runderful Rustington by the sea. The great neighbours move their vehicles onto the road so we can straddle both drives.  Jimmy and Oscar posed for photos and Ruth and Brain joined us for supper (Nicky’s parents). We managed (without too much difficulty) to quaff (another wonderful word) some x bottles of ‘vino somnoque’.

We are fast approaching 500 days on the road, reader…. stick with us as we approach the next milestone!  

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 Oscar told to sit and wait for the photo … and so did Jimmy 🙂