1234-1259: Family, Friends and UK Trips Part 1

1234:  Antibes and J’s Family 

Monday 22nd July 2019

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Harbourside at crack-o-dawn in Bastia, Corsica watching this car transporter be loaded quickly and driven away … by a very petite lady.

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On our crossing from Bastia to Nice, we had a cabin.  Daytime, and we couldn’t sleep all morning.  What was one supposed to do … make use of the shower for a hair dye of course!

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We know Nice pretty well, but not this from the sea view of it.

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On arrival in Nice we went straight to our usual campsite so we could meet up with three of J’s 4 children for an afternoon in the nearby park.  

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And with their kids … full house on grandchildren.

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Baseball was the main game … Corrie confused …

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…. Oscar knew exactly what to do with the balls! 

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And water pistols to play with.

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Did I mention, it was still hot!


1235-41:  Charente and K’s Family 

Tuesday 23rd – Monday 29th July 2019

A driving day with loads, and I mean loads of Deviations and road works.  We paid for the motorway to get west along the south coast but not to head up NW to Charente region to see my family at Clare and Chris’ house.  We arrived mid afternoon on Wednesday and went straight in the pool!  Fab to relax with the Aged P’s (not that it was long since we’d seen them, but with Clare and youngest Zozo, and then Chris, Louis and Abbie arrived.  We took one day out to stay on a EUR9/night munipal campsite nearby to spend time with Bev and Mike who have a house let out as a Gite nearby.

IMG 3616Aubeterre.  Would that be another lunch out?  

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Cocktails pool side.

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Oops … would that be a red wine incident??? 

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The beach near Sangatte aire.  Had to remind myself that these sea defences were German. Coming back from this walk, I got a phone call from a woeful James … He’d dropped my sharp knife vertically onto the knuckle of his foot.  Blood everywhere!  That was the second of the carpets to head for the bin … Corrie had pooped on the other!


1242-1249:  Back to Blighty

Tuesday 30th July – Tuesday 6th August

We crossed back to Folkestone and wended our way to Rustington to meet up with Ian, Mel and little (he’s grown again) Jimmy.  Would that have been another big wine night?  I have no idea.  I don’t remember!  Maddy had joined us but left at a sensible hour before it got messy!

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Where’s the sun gone.  A very windy walk on the Sussex coast.

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As ever, Mr Competitive Ian won the Puket tournament.

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Then the M25.  Why does it always rain and have traffic jams on the way back?  I could recycle the same pic.

For most of this part of our stay in the UK, we left Jez on Clare and Chris’ driveway and moved in with Mum and Dad.  I seem to remember Dad giving a speech at my first wedding, along the lines of, love her, and love it when she leaves but then she comes back!  And I’m still coming back and filling the attic!

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As we’d extended this trip by going to Corsica and Sardinia, we would not have time to do our normal Ireland and Scotland tour.  So James flew to Dublin for the weekend to see 3 of his 5 siblings.  

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Michelle and Craig became van dwellers for 2 nights in the New Forrest with me whilst J away.  Oh, and their 2 Springers … so that made 4 mid sized dogs and 3 adults in Jez.  It worked fine!  And the sun came out!!  Good walking … flat!

We spent a few nights at our usual CL Coxbridge Farm, and Caroline and Terry came to supper.  Trying to persuade them to visit us in the Caucuses.  And we fitted in dentist and doctors etc. We also started the job of emptying Jez.

1250-1254:  Uffington White Horse and Abingdon Meet

Wednesday 7th – Sunday 11th August 

Wilding isn’t always possible in the UK – after an abortive 3 car parks with height barriers and no overnighting signs, we ended up in a small farm site.  Great location as it was right on the Ridgeway and close to Uffington Iron Age Fort and the White Horse.

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 I did one walk solo with great views of the rolling hills.  Amazed to still see ears of corn as all the harvesting had long since been done in Europe.

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Oh dear! 

We joined a wildcamping.co.uk meet near Abingdon.  Caught up with some old (!) friends and made some new.  Relaxed and big fires most nights.  

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We watched this heron shake this huge fish down its narrow neck.

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One wet grey and windy day we caught the bus into Oxford with one of the ladies on the motorhome meet.  Her great uncle had been a Master at Pembroke College and had some Halls of Residence named after him.  He had been largely instrumental in the independence of Persia (I think!).  I was tour guide around the main city sights until, cold and hungry we took sanctuary in a pub.  Whilst half the menu items were off the menu, we had no choice but to stay as finding somewhere for 3 dogs had been challenging.


1255-1259:  Yorkshire with the Aged P’s

Monday 12th to Friday 16th August

We spent 5 nights up in Yorkshire with the Aged P’s.  This trip came about as Mum fancied visiting RHS Harlow Carr Gardens, and I’d taken out membership for a year.  They were in a small family hotel and we were on their CS (5 pitches site) next door.  The family were originally sheep farmers and still kept rare breeds, but had diversified.  The vegetarian daughter doubled up as restaurant waitress, front of house and sheep farmer … she had lots of ‘old girls’ as she could bear to part with them.

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Our View.

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The Aged P’s joined us for drinks and supper in the van.  Although we did eat in the hotel restaurant (the only dinners!) twice.  An ordinary menu, but superbly cooked.

RHS Harlow Carr on the one day that the forecasters suggested might not rain! On arrival we had coffee and cakes in Betty’s. Yummy.

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The next day was forecast to rain.  And it did.  But we booked the Rover ticket for the Keithly and Worth Valley Steam Railway, so were ‘ moistly’ dry.  https://kwvr.co.uk  Built by the textile mill owners to get their worsted cloth to the main railway line. A short railway with several stops, including museums, a vintage bus side shoot and The Railway Children film station.  An excellent day.  Lunch, eventually, was a quirky little cafe about to shut up.  I spotted some Lewis Chessmen high on a shelf, to be told no one else had recognised them … the owner’s father was having a late lunch too … he got them off the shelf … he’d carved them from a picture in book.  Some talented people.

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Hadn’t realised the UK operated on different time zones until the railways forced a single time zone.

Bronte Parsonage, Haworth https://www.bronte.org.uk  Small but fascinating.  Quite a lot about the family members who, even individually, were interesting to learn about.




A teenagers’ bedroom … no brother Branwell’s room.  An intellectual and talented portrait painter who could find love or a career and descended into self pity and narcotics.

The Bradford Industrial Museum is housed in an old mill and run by the council, but free.  https://www.bradfordmuseums.org/venues/bradford-industrial-museum  A hotch patch of collections from cars, to engines, printing, mill worker houses through the ages etc. … but don’t expect a cafe, just a vending machine

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We also discovered Skipton, and Mum and I went back one afternoon to do some Christmas shopping!  I know mad isn’t it … it’s still supposed to be summer!

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416-422 : Dublin Days

416 – Thursday 14th July 2016:  Fionnualla and Family

A good run around the site.  We left the campsite having explored nothing of Tollymore Park, but every now and again you need a down day.  OK sized pitches with hard standing and a shower block.  Chemical toilet and taps along the road sides for water, but no grey waste outlet!  Knowing we were headed to the Republic of Ireland, we swapped wallets back to the Euro one … fortunately nearly 200 in it … worth more than when we got them!

We did a food shop, first Lidl and then Tesco, for the bits not available in Lidl – it does mean shopping takes a lot longer, but worth it on the purse!  I had offered to cook for Fionnualla and Shaun – we last saw them February 2015 and Fionnualla cooked for us.  Having purchased all the ingredients I then started prepping … in the Tesco Carpark!  We checked to make sure we could not see a time limit on how long we stayed there, as we did not want another ‘outstaying your welcome’ fine as we did at Aldi in Bakewell!  Choc mousse setting in fridge, mash done, mushrooms stuffed and chicken cacciatore done … means we can relax when we arrive.

We were a little later arriving than planned … I was driving and started to question where we were when I saw a sign to Dublin Docks and I knew that Malahide was further north!  J caught navigational napping … in his home town!!!  The rush hour and stop start to get back out meant that it was MOST DEFINITELY drink o’clock when we arrived.

Really lovely to spend time with the family, especially Fionnualla, who is a childhood friend of J’s … she is one of those special people.

417 – Friday 15th July 2016:  And onto Camac Valley Campsite

No early start and no run … feeling too full of food and wine excesses from last night!  Still managed to tuck into the breads, hams and cheeses that Fionnualla gave us for breaky.  Brown soda bread .. yum yum.  Daren’t buy any!  She also directed us to a massive Tesco so I could buy a cake tin.  I know, what on earth do I want with a cake tin in a motorhome, and I’m not really over fond of cake anyway (more a sticky sickly out or copious amounts of cheese person).  Delia (J’s sister) and Liam were holding their annual family BBQ on Saturday and for once we were able to come … and I’d offered to bring some puds and …. toffee vodka.  Fortunately, J had ground up the hard toffees and mixed them with the vodka whilst i’d down food prep yesterday … as there was none of bottle 1 left after Fionnualla and I had finished it off last night!

We attempted to visit Kilmainham Jail on the way to the campsite.  But no chance … apparently you have to book ages in advance.  No Plan B and J not feeling too good so we headed straight to Camc Valley Campsite.  We’ve stayed here a number of times before … EUR 27, but this includes a fully serviced large pitch – love having water on tap … every time Chard did a ‘I’m empty’ gurgle, so easy just to put the hoze in and switch on the tap.  We normally conserve water as music as we can … we got very liberal with it here!

418 – Saturday 16th July 2016:  Family BBQ

How annoying … I was short cream for the ‘Passion Fruit and Marshmallow Sensation’ … the recipe book’s name not mine!  So J, with his navigational skills back on form, cycled off to the nearest town 🙂

We had so much to carry … wine, toffee vodka, two puds and coats … so the trusty shopping trolley came in handy.  The journey was NOT so handy!  Bus 69 from the site into town:  15 mins late and then took an hour.  Bus 145 out to Cabinteely … another hour.  All told, door to door 2 hrs and 45 mins!

It was brilliant seeing all the family as the last time K saw them in Montecatini, Tuscany last August … J had flown home in October briefly for Jade’s christening and seen some bods then.  Not able to face the nearly 3 hr repeat bus ride back, we splashed out and took a cab!

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419 – Sunday 17th July 2016:  Up the Dubs

Time to run and do pilates …  been seriously slacking!  Being Sunday, we had the choice of ONE bus, as they only travelled every 2 hours!  The 1.15 it was.  Someone should have told the driver though, as he did not arrive until 1.42!  Once into town we followed the blue shirts up to Croke Park.

The game went as predicted – The Dubs won by a healthy score – but Westmeath gave a really good showing – they will win major trophies very soon – all the best of luck to them – more competition is needed in Leinster…   The game was enlivened by a streaker – male and a fine figure of a man!  Liam was absent from his seat when the streaker hit the pitch and on his return was greeted with:  You got your clothes back on quick!

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Handbags at dawn … I had no idea that Gaellic Football descended so often into fisticuffs! 

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420 – Monday 18th July 2016:  Dr in Bray

J:  Monday we decided to have my regular health check – Delia kindly arranged for us to see her doctor in Bray. Everything is working as expected and reassuringly so… The beach looked inviting – we thought about a swim but the Irish Sea produced a windy reminder and we sailed back to Camac Valley.  Very hot – the BBQ lighting apprentice – Mr James C recommenced his in-dentures by lighting the fire with his teeth – not to be recommended for small children or anybody! The Nicky, Jimmy and Ian magic dust again lit the evening air and I managed to not fire up the endangers dentures!

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BBQ followed by firelog … not cold but comforting!


421 – Tuesday 19th July 2016:  Grand Canal to Phoenix Park

J:  Pilates of the Camac pirates…..I did my first real session!  Very good and I immediately felt the benefits on my back and shoulder.  We took the bikes down for the first time in weeks and Maps.Me guided us alone the Grand Canal to the city, where we picnicked in the Phoenix Park – the biggest City Park in Europe. We watched some boys and girls swimming in the canal but very sadly, some youths drowned there a few years ago.

Evening saw a BBQ – again!  Chicken, Halloumi (always think of Mike, as he introduced us to this on the BBQ) and veg – loving aubergine on the BBQ too at the mo.   Wine was partaken of but we realise again that we must cut down; its been a heavy booze week or so – tomorrow we will be teetotal – and I will try alcohol-free lager for the first time ever.

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With the abundance of easily available water, warm drying weather and two perfectly positioned trees for a washing line, I’ve been hand washing most days … leaving just a couple of items that needed ironing!  This does NOT happen often!

422 – Tuesday 20th July:  Back into Northern Ireland

An early run – 3k at sensible slow speed – during the run, Amelia phoned and said she and Thomas and Holly would like to join us for some time on our travels!  Beautiful! Amelia – you can have the van spare bed – it will be our treat and lovely to see youze all!!!

Craic in Irelands wild camping App was the fast track to Co Fermanagh via motorways that are not very exciting but at Euro 2.80 for a 50 mile trip – very acceptable indeed!

Quiet as in there’s only us by the shores of Lough Erne and OK views of the lakeside… but lots of lorries and traffic noise till the evening.  The bridge just ahead of us is single track and there has been a squealing of HGV brakes as the driver did not slow before realising there was already a vehicle on the bridge!  No running possibilities here as the road is just far too busy.

Settling down for the evening with alcohol-free beer that tastes absolutely like alcohol beer!!   Helps to have lime cordial in it!  Can I get a hangover from alcohol-free beer – no way!

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And finally, a pic I pinched off Facebook of Maddy at her school’s leavers dinner.

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.


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.