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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1068-1098: Where Time Gone?

 We are both doing the Prostate UK March on Sunday 17th June in Bristol.  If you have a few spare pennies, please do sponsor one of us.

https://tinyurl.com/jamesprostatefundraising

https://tinyurl.com/katherineprostatefundraising

There is just a small amount of rivraly as to whom will raise the most!

Thank you.


1068-1074 – Wednesday 10th – Wednesday 16th May 2018:  A Mini Trip to Scotland

Drive to Scotland.  Overnight near Moffat at National Trust Grey Mere’s Tail car park.  A little damp so no stars.  Scenic walk up the stream to the lake the next day and J watched ospreys in a nest through the ranger’s telescope.  Joined the SNT, as cheaper than England and as we will be in the UK for a bit …

We spent the night on the coast west of Edinburgh by Blackness Castle.  In the morning, just as I was getting dressed we heard the fish van arrive.  A scramble into clothes, hair awry, and fish cakes, trout and sea bass purchased.

We spent 5 nights in a lovely campsite in Roslin, famous for the chapel that features in the the Da Vinci Code.  Very good friends Margaret, Shirley and pooches were on the neighbouring CL, so we walked lots and dined with them several times.  We also got to meet two sons and wives; lovely to see Chris and Mary who’d we had such frolics with two Christmases ago in Lagos.

Coincidentally my very good friend Kerstin the Kraut (actually she is a Professor Frau Doctor Doctor – you know how the Germans love titles!) flew into Edinburgh on their way to Plockton, so she and her mother came to supper.  She is completely mad … I’ve agreed to do a  Rhein swim with her in November!!!  That makes me mad too.  And she is spend 3 weeks this summer cramped up in a boat sailing from the Azores to Norway with strangers and having to work … and she is paying for the privilege!

It was a social time as Meg, from whom we bought the awning popped in too.  We had managed to get it up, after some head scratching and a few expletives …. I reckon myself to be an expert tent erector!  A founding member of the Girlie Camping Errection Committee!  Finally worked our that the side adjacent to the van should be higher!

We stayed an extra night here, as the weather was so good, the site so chilled and quiet and the walking from the site excellent.  Each day we managed to do a different off road walk.  We’d not explored this area of the Borders before, although I lived in Edinburgh for a 6 months ages ago, but we really liked it.

We found a lay-by just west of Birmingham for our overnight and wandered into the local pub.  A real locals pub with old fashioned pub fare.  I asked what red was available and was offered a tasting, YUK.  So I tried the other red, double YUK.  The locals were all on ale.  J managed to drink the least offensive of the two, I managed 3 large gins!  One of which was Gordon’s summer Pink Gin with strawberry and raspberry … pleasant but more suited to a summers lunchtime.  Pink gin to me is with angostura bitters … but I am a publican’s granddaughter!

We nipped into a caravan supplies place just south of Birmingham to purchase some more bits for our new-to-us awning, such as connecting to van bits, a hanging shelving unit, pegs, shorter EHU cable etc.  We have certainly spent more on awning equipment than on the actual awning, but we loved the extra space, especially for entertaining.  Three of the sides unzip, so we get a breeze but the dogs are contained.

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Grey Mere’s Tail overnight car park.

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The Grey Mere’s Tail waterfall.

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The lake at the top.

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Blackness Castle.

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Great view of the Forth Bridges.

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Oscar wisely getting out of the way.  Neither Margaret, Shirley or I attempted this. 

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One of the walks from the campsite was along the river that had formally been the home of a large gunpowder factory.

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Post walk snuggle.

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Roslin Castle.

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And we hit bluebell time, just lovely.

 

1075-1098 Thursday 17th May – Saturday 9th June:  Sorting Out Stuff

Back at Coxbridge Farm CL and awning up until 3rd June.  This site really is our home from home.  We chat to people coming to nurture their horses and some of the other regulars.  During this time we did a little socialising but mostly sorting … inside all the van cupboards and the Aged P’s attic.

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Our pitch at Coxbridge …

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… with extra space … 

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… that the dogs think is their play room!!!

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New nick knacks and shoe hanging.

I did a trip overnight to Brighton with Maddy … loaded with cleaning fluids and my rubber gloves.  She and Kitty, the flat mate and friend, had a flat inspection.  Kitty had a university paper to finish, so Maddy and I set to.  Maddy eventually declared that she was not really designed for cleaning, so I set to!  We passed with flying colours!  By the time I’d paid for a couple of meals, the cleaning stuffs, a belated B’day jacket and was persuaded to buy a new handbag and trousers, it was a rather expensive, as well as tiring weekend.

I headed off solo the following weekend too.  For over 30 years we’ve had Girlie Camping weekends. However, Gill doesn’t ‘do’ canvas and all my kit is in store (was offered loans, but feeling soft), so Gill found a stunning barn conversion near Winchester.  We raised a glass to Nicky, whose birthday it would have been on the Friday we met.  We nattered and hooted.  Walk and pub lunch.  Ate royally … Greek, Turkish, Persian and good old English for a breaky.  Gill introduced me to Negroni … equal parts of Campari, Gin and Sweet Martini … I managed 3!  I missed it, but the rather sexy host entertained Gill and Bron, by walking outside wrapped in nothing but a towel, apparently the house shower was broken and there was one in another barn.  

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Bron, Gill and Al in Winchester.

For both my trips, J stayed at home.  One of his daughter’s and partner popped over for a BBQ, but I left him at home with the dogs to walk and more cleaning stuffs! 

Medical news.  James had had two scans to judge if the prostate cancer had spread … we saw the consultant on the 18th.  Really good news … it has spread but is contained to the prostate and the consultant said twice that he was going for a cure.  James has been on hormone tablets since   and will be on injections as of tomorrow.  So far the only side effect has been deep seated fatigue, but we expect more side effects with the injections.  We attended a Prostate local superb talk about how hormones can increase fat around organs and reduce muscles … we are already on a mostly Mediterranean diet :), James has upped his running, resistance bands purchased and the 2nd pilates mat out of attic.  

We’ve also both had dental check ups, sorted out online repeat prescriptions and the car passed its MOT.  The dogs have been to my say-it-how-it-is vet and got a clean bill of health. I even got my first ever GOOD on the state of their teeth!  

Just a word of warning for dog owners.  The UK mandates that rabies jabs should be every 3 years, the rest of Europe is annually.  Whilst in Crete both dogs had bloods sent off to the national laboratory for their Titer Test.  Corrie has the requisite antibodies.  Oscar did not!  His UK rabies jab is valid until 2019, but actually with no antibodies, so I guess he is not protected.    This may only affect anyone wanting to take their pets to High Rabies countries.

A little socialising ….  James bumped into Caroline and Terry at the running club … later I joined Caroline with two old school friends mums of Maddys, that I used to know quite well … 12 years ago.  We trained up to London to see J’s eldest who was in London form Doha for a few days.  Whilst walking on the South Bank, two extremely handsome young ladies fell on Corrie … they were Greek and recognised her instantly as a Greek dog.  A BBQ with my sister, cooked by her 18 year old son … one of his life skills sorted!

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Corrie’s first trip to the old smoke.  Oscar had been as far as Ealing before.

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Simon.  Family resemblance?

We’ve had some issues with Jez.  On our return trip from Greece the indicators were flashing fast.  On our decent from Scotland they stopped working altogether.  We drove to Fiat Southampton … they worked for them so nothing to fix, and fortunately Fiat did not charge us.  We took in a National Trust property on the way home and then … the indicators stopped working again!  We booked Jez in again.  In the meantime, a mechanic on the Farm where we stay called in his auto electrician.  £60 diagnosis that the indicator relay was not working …. but not able to fix it!  Fiat disagreed with the diagnosis, it was something in the EMU … fixed.  Here we go again then …. they stopped 5 mins from home.  Fiat wanted the van for up to a week … if it was the computer, and worst case, if it had to come from Italy, it would take a week on the slow boat via China!  Mum, Dad …can we stay with you?   

We stayed in Eastbourne for two nights to attend a very dear family friend’s funeral on Monday 4th June.  Gladys was 95 and ready to go; the lunch after was pleasant with her long term cleaner and two cousins.  At 95, and having been unmarried, there were not many friends left.  On the Tuesday we dropped the van into Southampton and then moved in with Aged P’s.  We’d already emptied the freezer and fridge, plus dropped off car loads of stuff … we weren’t sure how long Fiat would keep Jez. We went to the cinema, I went to RHS Wisley with Mum.  Far too much booze with suppers, but we did manage one dry night!

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Beautiful sunny Eastbourne afternoon.

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The funeral suit came down from the Aged P’s attic … first time in a tie for over 3.5 years.  There’s a wedding suit up there too … any takers?

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RHS Wisley.

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J collected the van on Friday.  All sorted – poorly positioned wires under the chasis during Adria build which had eroded and caused short circuiting.  Adria agreed to cover the cost instantly … I had thought we may have to pay Fiat for the investigation labour and then move Jez to an Adria service centre.

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The broken wires.

So Saturday 9th June saw us back on the road again in Jez.  Very happy to be so.  It is good to have the comfort of a house, but we kept loosing things as it is too big and far too much to clean!

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 Kongs all lined up, waiting to be filled with dog food and frozen.