795-797: Making the Most of our Dutch Museum Card

795 – Tuesday 1st August 2017: Edam and Vollendam

At 0930 hrs, we moved Jez to a free car park in Vollendam, as our free parking at the cheese and clog place likes the car park clear to attract the coaches and we oblige.  Os-car-trailer deployed – some barking resumed – horrendous crowds in Volendam and everything too expensive…there were ferryboat to Markham which we’d not cared for either – but quite pretty in a non-natural, catch the tourist kind of way.  We cycled to Edam which we did like – are we fussy? Yes.  And on our cheeses, not particularly!  Amazing merchant’s house with floating floor to compensate for the rises and falls of the water table. …  Our Dutch Museum card is saving us shed loads of Euros already. 

Our Amsterdam campsite was full to the ‘gunnels and pitches are very cosy – you need to be friendly with neighbours… nice German families on both sides.  BBQ and Zzzzs.

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Now the whole family imbibes Advocaat at Christmas … so when I saw a bottle in Lidl, I had to buy one.  Not the same as Warniks, that we get a home … so I read the label.  It may be 14%, but it is to be consumed with ice cream or used in cakes …. so I did … lovely with ice-cream 🙂  And only 14% – but still allowed on one of our dry days!

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Pretty Edam.

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Long beards was obviously a one time fashion statement … J’s comes off long before this.

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I’m in the floating cellar.  There are few still in existence in the Netherlands, but this is the only one open to the public.  To be expected, it moves as you move.  

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Short beds as people slept sitting up on pillows … they thought lying down too close to death.

795 – Wednesday 2nd August:  Amsterdam 1 – Walking Tour, 3 Churches and the Royal Palace

Our O-barkingK9 took us to the ferry “Across the Mersey” (Jerry and the Pacemakers 1962 – thought you oldies would know that one – Amelia, you’re too young!).   Across the ij river;  Amstel is further over – the Amstel beer is excellent – reminds me of ‘Hashing’ days in Amman – the “Hash House Harriers” – the worldwide drinking club with a running problem…

We did a walking tour with one other – an Italian girl, currently on an internship in Amsterdam – she was missing the art and splendour of Italy and of course, the food.  having spend 6 months in Italy, we could empathise.  Our guide was Leonard (History student) and he was full of fun anecdotes…  but a little disjointed in his delivery and a little short on depth.

The Red Light District was – hmmmm – interesting!   I tried to avert my gaze (partially successfully) from the ladies in the windows wearing ‘funderwear’ – but the industry is safe and well regulated – and no pimps!  The average time spent inside – for ‘business’ is 7-12 minutes!!!  It takes me that long to unfurl my umbrella (not speaking from experience!).  In holy Catholic Ireland in the ‘60s, we thought a condom was a salt and pepper ’thingy’…  Or was it a ‘fonduement, fun-damentally, lamentably or scandulously… we move on.  

The Museum Card again saved us money – the Neue Kerk, Oude Kerk, Royal Palace and the Attic Catholic Church… The post-Reformation liberal Dutch allowed catholics to practice their religion only in private homes – hence the ‘Attic Chapel’.  King Henry VIII would not have approved… 

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Can tell we are entering the red light district.  Wearing of comdoms is obligatory.

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Pavement art, but not much of a caress!

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Narrow tall buildings as land was expensive … a single flight of stairs is economical … a double flight indicated wealth.  The other main symbol of wealth were Tulip Bulbs – imported and traded at great expense until the market collapsed

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must’ve been difficult buying furniture for this window wide one!

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Former house name signs, until Napoleon decreed that all houses had to have numbers and street names.  Napoleon also forced people to adopt an official family name.  Many went for a word to describe with job, such as Farmer, but some reluctantly chose silly names such as NakedatBirth, which have endured until today!

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Wonder if his name is NakedatBirth … he did not drum up much custom … wonder if the unauthentic Calvin Kleins had anything to do with it?

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We went into the Beguinnes complex (Ghent had three such complexes), where single women and widows lived together and did good, mostly nursing, works.  In one of the chapels was this relic – the vomit of bread from a dying man that had not burned overnight when cleared up by one of the Beguines and thrown on the fire.

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The Royal Palace was formerly the Town Hall.  When Napoleon stuck his brother on the throne, Louis cast about for a suitable palace and had the rooms converted quickly into the palace.  The Empire furniture is the largest collection outside France.

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And the chandeliers were stunning.

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The Old Church was mostly used to bless ships and over 10,000 bodies are buried underneath.  Another Napoleon edict was to bury bodies outside the church.  Stunning organ.

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Slightly surreal art – gold blankets are often used to to shroud refuges after a sea crossing and they protect the tomb stones.

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Our Lord in the Attic.  Catholicism was officially banned but since 40% of the population were catholic, the authorities ignored what the eye can’t see.  Churches in houses were created, along with a confessional and accommodation for the Priest. Here the church spans three houses, the floor and roof raters cut away and iron rods inserted to pull it all together.  

796 – Thursday 3rd August:  Amsterdam Art Museums

K:  I’m taking over the text from here, as J is busy upstairs … stripping … wall paper … we are very behind with our blogging as we’ve had no time!  More anon.

Parking the bikes again, we crossed on the free ferry … a simple system where you walk to the front and then off the other end when it docks.  People, bikes and mopeds and we even saw a small car. Very efficient.

We caught the tram down to the museum quarter and took turns in the Van Gogh Museum.  It was very good at explaining Van Gogh’s influences and how his art developed, as well as including some of his peer’s work.  His brother funded Van Gogh and his brother’s widow then promoted Van Gogh’s work, as he had not been well known in his lifetime.  During our picnic lunch, I asked J if he had his museum card safe … oops we both turned our all his pockets.  Back in the Van Gogh Museum, J left his email address in case they found it.  So I only wandered into the Rijks Museum.  This again told the story of Dutch art, including more Van Gogh.  I saw Rembrandt’s The Night Watchman (not too keen), and some Vermeer (which I did like).  And some Delft, which seemed to be heavily influenced by Chinese design.

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The Rijks Meusum – very busy but more people seemed to be interested in having their pic taken on top of the large letters of I Heart Amsterdam.

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The Museum’s reference library – good to see it being used.

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In the evening we wandered back into town to watch a Gay Pride concert.  Most of the performers were notable for being drag artists rather than their singing skills, but there was a cracking 3 girl band who finally got the audience going a bit … we did not stay long after them.

797 – Friday 4th August:  Amsterdam – The Last Day

Amazing – James checked his email and the Van Gogh Museum had found his Museum card … we elected to take the bikes across the water and brave the Amsterdam city centre so we could get to pick up J’s card and then across to the Rembrandt House Museum.  Cycling was interesting … Oscar barking pretty much most of the time, trying to avoid other cyclists, pedestrians, trams and other vehicles.  Amazing we did not see, let alone participate in, any accidents, but they do travel quite slowly.  I managed to jam my wheel in a tram line and did a slow motion decent the the pavement … fortunately the Os-car is hinged to stay upright.  Just a minor scratch to my knee and more damage to my pride.

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Rembrandt used still life and a lot of artefacts to practice line drawing and then painting on.  He made his students also practice for years.

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At this time, artists had a palate of 12 colours, all from natural sources … the red and blues were very expensive.

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On my tour, I was lucky enough to watch a paint mixing demo – and have a go mixing on the big stone … the minerals were mixed with linseed oil and sometimes stored in pigs’ bladders.

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Part of the still life collection.

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View from the bench where we took turns – no hardship with this view.

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Gassan Diamonds was nearby, so again we took turns. The different carat, colour, clarity and cut were explained and we were shown some samples and stones set in rings … as we could handle them, I have my doubts that they were real.  The Gasson 121 cut has more cuts than the standard Brilliants … but knowing nothing about diamonds, lost on me …. I just liked the sparkle.

We then attempted to get into the top Amsterdam attraction – the Ann Frank House.  Whilst our Museum Card enabled us to queue jump in the other museums, no chance of it here.  On being told the queue was already over 2 hours, we cut our losses and cycled back to the ferry and the campsite.

We liked Amsterdam a lot and would happily come back and spend more time wandering the streets and some of the other museums, but not in the summer … far too busy!  

Our plans to explore a bit more of the Netherlands changed … we wanted some sun so we planned to head south.  My good friend Kerstin has just managed to evict some tenants, who had trashed the house … we offered our decorating services … so off to Engers, near Koblenz we shall go tomorrow.


Oscar’s Diary

Yes, it’s me, readers… how about a good old ‘whinge’ then…  Now my owners (bless their cotton sox) are quite ok – ‘gutenfolx’ in pigeon Dutch (another of my considerable lingua skills).  They bought this contraception – sorry (it’s that darn Led Right Mistrict) contraption – for me.  Did I ask them? No.  Did they consult me – No!  A fecking baby trailer, for ***** sake. Pardon my Dutch. They hooked it up to K’s bra – sorry, bike – and enticed me to go inside – with treats..  Ok, inside, they string me up by a harness and cycle off with me bouncing around trying to protect my ‘crown jewels’…  So, I bark – and get ignored!!!  

Back at home – shaken but not stirred – I have applied to join the French Foreign Legion – as a Welsh “Condomerie” – that’s a sort of ‘Colonel’ with sticky bits…  I can do the ‘Entente Condomriale’ with any little Klady… 

You haven’t heard the last of this ‘double Kentendre’, owners….

Dank U (Dutch, you see…)

Oscar

xx 


789-794: Os-Car goes Mobile

789 – Wednesday 26th July 2017:  Doggy Ride

Oscar’s new bike trailer!  K did some research and for good quality and mid price dog bike trailer.  We do not tow a car or have a moped … just bikes or our legs.  In some countries dogs are not allowed on public transport, so getting around can be quite limiting if we park some distance from a site or don’t want to move Jez.  We are thinking about buying E- Bikes to extend our range, but at £1500+ each, we need to be absolutely sure that Oscar is happy in a trailer.  Anyway – DoggyRide came out tops.  We made contact with the European office in Holland – the owner is Dutch but lives in the States.  We went for a Novel 10 – it is aluminium so weighs in at 15kgs with the extras:  soft memory foam cushion (only the best for O), a kickstand and cargo rack.  The choice was also influence a little by the orange colour to match his fur, lead and collar!  

What can we say?  Well, he will have a lot to say – not all good, though…. Euro400 is worth it – and he slept happily there on day 1 – but…. on the road, his barking is – well – loud and incessant!!!  Any motion and he’s off again … it does stop after about an hour.  More anon – we will travel (as always) hopefully – in Oscardillacville.   Every time we return to the bikes and Os-car he bounds right up to rear and happily hops in to be rewarded by a treat … he is a real greedy boy.  Wish he could understand that his options are limited … stay home alone or come with us and travel in the Os-car along roads.

BBQ in the evening…  Wonderful cycle tracks – great for running.

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Stage 1 of becoming accustomed going well.  He was happy to sleep in it to.

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790 – Thursday 27th July 2017:  Houten

Houten is a large and modern.  We reckon every building was under 20 years old.  However, as we cycled in we spotted a small market.  K managed to NOT buy some of the wool … she has enough for about 4 projects stored!  We did buy a few cycle items … a high pressure pump, a rear view mirror and a kick stand for K’s bike  … Oscar – the bills associate with you are mounting up!

A small lunch out and local beer, again!  And we followed the signs to the old town … we think we found it, but is only amounted to a small square.  With so many cycle tracks, we managed an involuntary detour the long way home!  At least it was flat.

 

791 – Friday 28th July 2017:  Waterlinie Museum and Bunnik

As we said, the Os-car is a work in barkness (not darkness).  We cycled and O ran most of the way as it was off road to the fort which houses the Waterlinie Museum.  This is one of the most unusual and best we’ve visited. Interactive, informative about how Holland used water to defend the country for a few hundred years, successfully until WW2.  We took turns in the museum or had a coffee in the newly opened bar.  Lovely chap with the student running it; interestingly he’s studying security and safety in the contact to urban planning.  Couldn’t do enough to be helpful, free crisps and offered to top up coffee.  Another nice experience.

We bought some more cycle bits in the main town – I cannot remember the context but K used the word “cycle logical” for one bike bit!!!   

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Newish interactive museum inside a Water Line fort … yep we go through that crack.

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The enemy are attacking.  Which polders will you flood?

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The threat of the flooding also preserved the Netherlands neutrality in WW1 – A report from a few years before stated that once the water line was flooded, the rich west was impenetrable.

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These different characters told their side of the water line story using projected faces.  The easterners were not allowed to relocate to the west but their lands were flooded, even in practice.

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The best bit – you were flown up over the landscape and shown it in its agricultural state and then flooded.  Loved it.

792 – Saturday 29th July 2017:  Huizen

Free Aire.  We walked along front – all suburbia and completely devoid of people – at a weekend in summer!  Alan – a lovely man we met (American and converted Dutchman) said they’re all in Espana, chasing the sun … which is where we should be!   We gave up trying to find a town centre.  Not somewhere to put on your must visit list!

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The boats are here, but WHERE is everyone and the town centre?

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Nothing for it, but the obligatory drink stop.  A baby shower going on behind us. 

793 – Sunday 30th July 2017:  Naarden

Sunday – we both ran early – I managed to get my distance up to 7K – best since the Severn Bridge a month ago – improving… 

We loaded up the Os-car and cycled towards Naarden. Sunny to start – then the heavens opened with almost ‘Gibraltar-esque’ heavy rain (24hr stair rods). We were quickly soaked through and sought refuge in a restaurant – much to the amusement of staff and patrons!  K gave me her nice girly t-shirt and I posed suitably…  (K:  Bless, didn’t want my man catching a chill!).  A light lunch turned into two courses, as we spotted the dessert served at another table:  J just had to try hot apple pie, cinnamon with ice cream and cream … K did a taste test.  And we dried off mostly… Back on the trail and – warm sun emerged! 

We purchased the Museum Card, which gives us free access to about 400 museums in the Netherlands for EUR60 for a year.  K had done a costing and with Amsterdam coming up in a few days, it will be worth it.  The fort museum was a bit uninteresting and all in Dutch – and we would have voted it not worth the money at EUR 9pp, but somehow with the museum card it counts as free!  This was another case of where the card reader will not take anything but a Dutch debit or credit card.  So far our cards have been rejected at a campsite, restaurants, the Doggyy Ride place and now a national museum.  We are having to use an ATM every few days, making us more conscious of our spending!  The fort goats were quite  interested in Oscar, who was allowed in.  The town centre very pleasant – and with a few people here although mostly tourists.  And a beer stop… The main church in town has a fascinating timber roof and the Town Hall is worth a look.

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Suits you!  All J needed was a medallion!  Or boobs!

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Naarden fort. 

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It is star shaped and surrounded by a twin layer of moat and canal.

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Hey you orange dog.  You looking at me? …

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…You still interested?  Got me mates to back me up!

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The Town hall

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The great church had a super painted nave.

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Funny little green men.  We’ve seen a lot of these … even families have them outside their homes for when the children are playing.  Good idea. 

794 – Monday 31th July 2017:  Markham

A very late start as K read till 2.30 a.m.!  We drove to Markham – too touristy and prices to match (EUR7 for 2 hours parking!).  Pretty wooden houses and surrounded by water and connected to the mainland by a long causeway.  A quick visit and Oscarwalk, then off again.

Our overnight stay – in the car park of a local “Clog and Cheese” emporium near … Edam – lovely!  A quick tour explained how the cheese was made, lots of gifts to buy and a cheese tasting.  See K as buxom Dutch lady! (K:  I wish … buxom that is!).  So many clogs – and so much cheese – edible purchases, naturally!  10 van as of 7:00 pm – and still squeezing in… early evening sunshine, too.

J took O for an early evening walk and he came back green!  Oscar that is.  O had either assumed that he could walk on water or that the green on top of a drainage ditch was grass!  Oops.  Apparently J had to help pull him out as he was in shock!  He got a good rubbing down before he was allowed back in the van. 

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Markham:  Seriously busy and touristy.  Car park EUR3 per hour!!!

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Mark:  Clog Tree.  Outside a clog shop – selling clogs at EUR60-70 – we saw them later for EUR35.

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Markham:  Pretty wooden houses.  Though so squeaky and immaculate they could be UPVC rather than wood.

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Gosh, I’ve put on a few lbs here!   The cheese and clog maker allows Motorhomes to park overnight in his car park, so here we are!

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Cheeses are left to mature at room temperature.  We tasted a fair few and came away with an Edam (I know!!!, but it tastes so much better than what you buy at home … Edam is a style of cheese not a geographic area) and a cumin Gouda.

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Clog City.

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Not my size!  Tried some on and found them quite hard to walk in.

757-761 : Orkney Part 2

We have got so far behind with our posting … Blame it on the Boogie!

757 – Saturday 24th June 2017:  Trying to Shelter from the Wind

Fond farewell to our lovely friends at the Ness Meet – “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but….”

The wind was – Scottish islands quality….. robust – which means rather strong!  We manoeuvred Jez for a better angle, and slept. The wind had abated during the night and we set sail towards Loons Hide. We didn’t see lots but plenty of birds and waders – we managed to catch one in flight – a seabird/Common Gull?  The remarkable thing is – several pairs of expensive binoculars on the desk – not chained down and an open door. Could that happen in the south of England – no. But I’m being hard – there are many more millions of people down south…and it is our ‘home, generally. 

Warwick Head was even more robust in the wind so – walking aborted after J blown against the barbed wire fence and we all risked a sudden decent over the cliff edge.  Nanny naps much needed after the recent festivities….

Overnight at the Sands of Alikeness overlooking the Isle of Rousay – lovely…

 

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Loons Hide:  Others had told us they’d seen otters … we just saw common birds, like gulls, ducks and coots …. but it was very windy.  The hide was furnished with not only bird and flower books, but a couple of binoculars, which were not even chained down.  What a different world we live in up here.

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Marwick Head:  the pic does NOT show how windy it was.  We were OK until we started up the cliffs at the far end of the bay … J was blown onto barbed wire and my flared jeans acted like sails so I had no idea where each foot would land.  We aborted a fair way up. The dot on the hill top is the Kitchener Monument.  Despite high seas, Kitchener and hundreds of sailors set sail with a hold full of gold bullion to bribe the Russians to stay in the war.  The ship founded here and Kitchener and 600+ men died.  The gold was not recovered (!).  Although Kitchener was popular with the masses, he was a bit of a sod … he created concentration camps in the Boer War and was harsh in Ireland following the 1916 Uprising.  Local Orkadians put up this monument.

758 – Sunday 25th June 2017:  Geo Birdsong

A slow morning start – Mull Head walk – rain/sun – amazing echoing birdsong and steep gorges.

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The Gloop:  a sea cave that caved in … pix does not show how long it is.

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More sea stacks and a great coastline on our often very wet walk.

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We hoovered over this geo (natural chasm in the cliff) as it was sheltered from the wind and the sound of the nesting birds echoed up to us.  Quite magical.

759 – Monday 26th June 2017:  Sitting Pretty

We had planned to sail to Hoy for one day but – our spot was so pretty and sun shining that – we stayed put for a whole day – what luxury….

The “K” factor produced fresh fish for supper… her dog walking explored some Viking remains – real human bones – she resisted giving Oscar some bones to chew on!!! 

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I got to sit and knit as we’ve been too busy … and the sun came out to I even divested one of my many layers.

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I blagged a cod and small haddock from a fisherman, he refused to take any payment, but seemed surprised I was happy to gut myself.

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Guess the body part.  A local dog walker told us that there was Viking mound, remains of a monastery with its cemetery slipping into the sea at the other end of the beach.  I was going to bring a fibia (Ithink) back to James but Oscar seemed to think it was a stick for him … seemed wrong somehow to allow Oscar to play with a person’s bones, so I left it behind.  Think J was relieved.

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Northern Lighthouse staff had commissioned this boat to take them out to and island to service the lighthouse.  The boat’s alternator failed and they had to get a tow back to the mainland from a passing leisure craft.  Whilst they tied to get the motor going they did not notice the tide going out … there was no way they could get the boat up onto the trailer and the van’s real wheels were just spinning.  About 6 hours later the tide was back in enough for the boat to float and the poor chaps got off … we did offer them a drink.P1140536

Whilst the stranded boat waited, we BBQ’d.

760 – Tuesday 27th June 2017:  In Search of Wool and Washing

St Margarets Hope village is pretty but the wool K wanted was too expensive. Campsite back at Stronmess again – oven baked cod, washing and cleaning. 

761 – Wednesday 28th June 2017:  Starting the Journey South

Huge sadness at leaving the Islands but – “haste ye back”… and we definitely will return… and do some island hopping.

Arrived at the ferry to find that our booking was for tomorrow – ooops! (K:  And I pride myself on my organisation!)  But they were not busy, fortunately.  When our friends left on Monday the 1.5 hour trip took 3.5 gale force hours!  Pancake flat for us 🙂

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Sromness with Hoy in the background.

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The Point of Ness Campsite.

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The ferry passed the Old Man of Hoy.  We will definitely do some island hopping when we have more time.

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Huge hand dived scallops with the small haddock …

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… served with Stornaway black pudding, bacon, onion & cabbage mash and a sherry sauce.  Neither if us managed to finish ours … such a shame.

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Margaret and Shirley – do you recognise this?  We stayed at the RSPB Loch of the Lowes.  There was a beaver talk and apparently an obliging beaver swam past the group.  

 

382-288: Rutlandish

382 – Tuesday 24th May 2016:  John Smedley and that’s NOT a Beer!

Last night when we arrived at our CL site, we were relatively late, after 5.00.  Down a longish, up and down lane, fortunately signed with the Caravan Club all the way to a five bar gate.  A note attached with our names on it.  Take Pitch 1, welcome, oh and by the way, rubbish reception here so if you have a TV here’s a cable into our system.  Spot on – no internet, phone or text and we were here 3 nights – GRR!  Peaceful though.

Today we both ran.  Sun is out and it is warm.  Table and chairs made an appearance from under the bed and we decided on a leisurely soak up the rays day.  By late afternoon this was beginning to pall on us and clouds had appeared, so we wandered down the lane to the factory.  It had been whirring last night and was in full whirring mode now.  John Smedley, fine knits since 1794 and some of the buildings definitely dated from then.  We perused the factory shop just before closing and K came away with two long sleeved cotton jumpers.  My excuse for the wanton expenditure … they were only a tenner each and I am soooo feeling the cold and have insufficient long sleeved tops!  Conversation about Brexit with the 40 yr old shop assistant – cotton comes from New Zealand via Italy where it is cleaned and dyed.  Japan, Germany and Italy are their major markets.  He had not travelled much but firmly believed we had a lot to learn from other European cultures, especially when it comes to looking after and being involved with family.  Enough excitement for one day so we returned to our pitch.

 

383 – Wednesday 25th May 2016:  Remembering and Trams

I dreamt of Nicky again last night – I do about once a week.  But more often at the moment as today would have been her 51st birthday.  

Weather windier and cloudy so we decided to drive to Crich Tramway Village, the National Tram Museum.  A short drive, but it meant we could connect to the wifi as the signal on our site was non-existent.  After the internet and phone jobs we paid the pricey sum of £28 for our annual tickets which included J’s senior discount.  The enthusiasts started collecting trams back in the 50’s just as they were being decommissioned across the country.  Mostly British, but some overseas and all in pristine condition.  Most of them have been restored to running order and on our visit 3 trams were running.  We handed over our 2d coins (given to us with the entry tickets) and were given a day ticket to freely ride aboard the trams.  The main exhibition was quite interesting as it explained how trams developed from horse drawn, steam tractor drawn and finally to electric.  Their demise was partly due to the war but mostly due to introduction of cheaper to build and run motor busses.  Including lunch, we were actually only in the museum for just over 2 hours, so not really worth the money unless you can visit several times in the year with small children.

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Seriously layered up for the wind and cold

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No, don’t reckon Dr Who ran this on electric!

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The restoration of each tram was flawless.  Hours of work.

 

384 – Thursday 26th May 2016:  Wildcamping Meet in Rutland

A leisurely start as we only had to drive 1.5 hrs to Rutland Water.  Rutland is the smallest county in England and only really had anything to offer visitors after the valley was flooded in the 1970’s and the reservoir generated an outdoor leisure industry .  K camped here (under canvas) about 9 years ago with Maddy and Kerstin – we managed to persuade Maddy to go on the back of a very heavy hired tandem to cycle around the Water … it was hard work as I’m not sure how much cycling M actually did!  The purpose for our trip is to join a Wildcamping.co.uk meet … a chance to meet like minded motorhomers and pick their brains on places to go and tips.

 

385 – Friday 27th May 2016:  Exercised Out

We ran, K did pilates and then we cycled around the Water, with a detour to Oakham to buy some beers.  One would think cycling around a reservoir would be flat, but no … lots of smallish ups and downs.  We nearly aborted the full circuit, but a chap at the information centre assured us we had completed the most difficult part.  Scenery OK, but not a patch on Derbyshire.  Once back at the site, we commenced consuming the slightly warm and shaken beers!

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Normanton Church:  preserved from flooding by a retaining wall.  Now a small museum and a wedding venue.

 

386:  Saturday 28th May 2016:  Race Day!

J had identified a 5 km Park Run along part of the Water.  We’ve since since discovered that this is a 9.00 a.m. free timed event held in multiple locations up and down the country.  Knowing how bumpy the ride along the shore was, we elected to drive to the start … Chardonnay also gave us all our facilities to change in after.  We arrived in good time and walked to the start … no one there!  They started to arrive with 10 mins to go …. no registration at the event; you have to register online and print a bar code.  We’d done neither, to we would get a place and time, but not with our name next to it.  A really easy flat run, the only difficulty was to avoid some of the sheep deposits!  For a man who watches his feet and not scenery when he runs, J managed to pick up a lot of poo!  138 runners and we both improved on our times and positions from 2 weeks ago:  J 35th with 1.25 minutes faster and K 100th and 2.25 mins faster with a final sprint to ’take’ someone.  We shall be on the look out for more races.

An easy afternoon chatting to our lovely neighbours Roy and Doreen.  The only ‘event’ laid on was a cream tea which was a serious overload in sugar, but we also met a couple who will be at the Inverness meet in June, which we will also attend.  

 

287:  Sunday 29th May 2016:  A Couple of Changes of Plan

We planned to go to the Burghley House Game and Country Fair, via Tescos and buying some diesel.  By the time we’d got up, K had done Pilates and we’d done our shopping, our ETA was 1.45, so it seemed sensible to go to Plan B.  A quick look at the National Trust App and we selected the Priest’s House in Easton on the Hill.  

The Priest’s House is only small and entry is by knocking on designated key holder’s doors.  We tried the nearest and spoke the key holder’s parents who told us that everyone was at the village Gala. OK, Plan C.  We went to the village Gala.  Only small, but they served beer & cider and burgers & hog roast.  A few stalls, singers and bands of very mixed musical talent and the best of all … maypole dancing.  Yes, there was a little tangle at one point and the instructor had to get involved, but lovely.

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The Priest’s House.  Where is everyone?

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 Never thought of specialising in mole removal as a career!


288 – Burghley House Game and Country Fare

We set the alarm for 7.00 and fell asleep till gone 9.00.  Oops – we really are not accustomed to early starts!  Never mind – straight to Burghley Park and being a motorhome we were parked right by the entrance.  Result – normally motorhomes are parked in the furthest out of the way point.  Three arenas with different non stop displays.  Lots of crafts and shops – conscious that we need to buy Christmas gifts before Sept, unless I ask Mutt to wrap them again (she’s already warned me off that), we embarked on a minor spending spree.  A really lovely event – we both really enjoyed the displays.

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How to dress a crab in the Food Kitchen.

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Would that be a rare species of chef crab?

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Falconary with a difference … with a ferret and dog.

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Sheepdog …

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… Duckdog!  Seriously stunning how well trained all these animals are … can’t begin to imagine how many hours.

1100791Horse-boarding – a new one on us, but fun to watch, especially when they took a corner too fast or died on the jump!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

376-381: Bristol Rugby, Exploring and National Trust in Cheshire.

376 – Wednesday 18th 2016:  Bristol Rugby v Doncaster Knights … VICTORIOUS

Doncaster in 2016 will now be famous for – giving Bristol Rugby half a leg up into the Premiership!  We met Tracey and John as arranged – and had a couple of beers before the game… the first half was inconsequential – but Brizzle opened up after half time and got clear by 15 points at the end.  These points will be carried forward to the second leg on Wednesday 25th in Bristol – we must find a pub to watch the return to top flight rugby – after 7 years of waiting…  But, many a slip betwixt cup and lips….

Before the game, we caught the 81/82 bus into the city centre.  The terminus was at the modern shopping centre; you could have been anywhere in the country!  Doncaster does not feature in any of the guidebooks, but google had revealed that there are some fine Georgian buildings, a Mansion House and a Museum.  The visit to the TIC revealed that they were all … shut today!  Ho hum.  There are the well renowned markets to see … but again, today mostly shut.  Obviously the RFU, Sky and Doncaster city did not liaise about what visitors might be able to see.

 

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Doncaster has been the victim or poor urban planning, but the historic markets are renowned for their fresh foods … just not fully operational today.

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The Minster was burned down in 1853 and rebuilt in gothic revival style. The architect was the prolofic George Gilbert Scott; amongst his works are Westminster Abbey and the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park.

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The Edmund Schulze organ was installed in 1862.  I KNOW we’ve seen another Schulze somewhere, but can’t for the life of me remember where and can’t find it on the web either.  

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What a nerve racking first half.  

 

377 – Thursday 19th May 2016:  Three Reservoir Bike Ride

Good parking near the Ladybower reservoir – and we set off with our silent bikes (we are missing the dragging hum of J’s rear brake that has followed us around Europe for a year … he’s not missing the extra effort of the constantly on brake though!)  – for an estimated 18-mile tour of the waters.  How can you have inclines, declines and reclines around flat water?  But, it was mostly flatclines to be fair.  An early stop for coffee and a cake – consumed, despite the attentions of the entire Mallard family!   Good easy cycling – and a lunch stop at the Slippery Stones – I managed a huge cheese and ham bap that was more like a cake!   Apparently they are called cobs up here.  Back at Chard, we calculated that our trip was more 20+ miles than 18 – good training…..

 

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Lady bower was completed during WW2, despite materials scarcity as the need for water was great.  The three reservoirs supply most of Derbyshire and Sheffield.

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The Derwent Rexevoir Dam, began in 2902.  Some was quarried in Grindleford and a specially built train line brought the stone up.

During WW2, Squadron 617 – The Dam Busters – practised low flying manoeuvres here with the bouncing bomb.

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At the head of Howden Reservoir – Slippery Stones, our lunch spot.

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378 – Friday 20th May 2016:  Hope and Castleton Walk Broken By A Pub Lunch

That good old British (and Clune family) tradition of the Pub Lunch had to feature sometime this week…..a perambulation to Castleford – and the welcoming arms – of the first pub we encountered. Wine, crab cakes, soup and cheese board (a bit steep at £43 pounds) – set us up for the return leg – across gently rolling fields – see the convenient stone steps instead of a stile. Hope village – and rest…..  Casterton though has little to recommend it.  We were ‘nicely’ accosted by some students conducting a survey: “Did we feel that Castelton’s economy relied on Tourism?”  A resounding YES.

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Clouds playing across the hills.

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This tin hut is one of the few remaining workers’ huts of which there were thousands, used to house the workers on the Reservoirs we cycled round yesterday. 


379 – Saturday 21st May 2016:  Shopping and Drive to Knutsford

I love Aldi!  A full trolley, including meat (lots) and booze (some) and the bill …. £114.  Remaining ingredients from Waitress – 1 bag …. £65.  Message to self … menu plan ONLY what can be bought at Lidl and Aldi!

We have left the rolling hills of Derbyshire and entered Cheshire.  It seems very flat and more built up.  Well, it is close to Manchester.  We are here for two nights as Kerstin and her mother are flying out of Manchester on Monday, but coming to supper with us on our CL on Sunday evening.  Our CL seemed to be on the flight path into Manchester Airport…. but it does not bother the numerous rabbits that are grazing near us.  The CL had a short fixed hose, so we could not fill our 95ltr tank.  It also had recycling bins, but no general waste.  A fellow camper told us we had to sort everything …. GRR what to do with composite materials and things that don’t quite fit into Plastic, Glass, Paper, Card or food waste?  We did what we could and resolved to find a normal bin on the morrow.

 

380 – Sunday 22nd May 2016:  Tatton Park

Prior to greeting Kerstin and her Mum, we thought – why not Tatton Park?  National Trust – free to us via our Italian FAI membership – and parking with the coaches.  Although owned by the NT, it is run and financed by the local council, so we had to cough up £6.00 just to enter the hallowed grounds.  More coffee and ice cream awaiting the 1:00 pm house opening time. The house is nice but not spectacular – neoclassical style.  But the gardens are quite something – Mr Joseph Paxton’s influence again…


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Minton masquerading as Sevres, with the family initials.  A lot of great porcelain on view.

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The last Baron had to build a massive hall to house all his hunting and collecting trips … animals like this right the way around the Tenants Hall.

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We preferred the gardens … wacky topiary.

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Rhododendrons and Azaleas were amazing.

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The Japanese Garden is considered one of the finest in the UK … but then it did actually have Japanese workers create it.

We had a lovely evening – with lots of stories from Scotland where Kerstin and her Mum had just been – and tales of our adventures.  They had been in Scotland in search of puffins.  The puffins had been absent, but we were able to inform them that we’d see hundreds, nay – thousands, nay – hundreds of thousands of them off the Northumberland coast near Seahouses.   


381 – Monday 23rd May 2016:  Quarry Bank Mill

We expected a nice museum with used engine bits and bobs……  What we saw – was a working mill!  Amazingly friendly staff – demonstrations of spinning and weaving taking you through from the cottagers to about 1920 machines.  Most of the machines were fully restored and about half were demonstrated for visitors today … a heating issue meant some were not running.  Really easy to see how the small children worked underneath the big machines cleaning the fallen materials and re-fixing broken threads … all in 5 seconds before the boom moved back again.  We saw the spot where one child had been crushed and were told of another who wrenched himself free, leaving behind his ear and half the skin on his face.  The workers suffered from the incredible noise of the machines, bone deformities from the constant crouching over them, throat cancer and bulbous eyes from the lint in the air.  

Yet on a tour of the Apprentice house we were told they were well cared for by their kindly employer compared to other mills.  The first factory doctor ever was employed here, they had plenty of food and only two to a bed!  Punishments were never beatings, but having to work overtime, or in severe cases isolation.  The Gregg family believed that the healthy workforce should  also be educated.  The question is … were they cynically looking after the workforce to get more labour out of them or was it true philanthropy?  We did not see it but the Channel 4 series ‘The Mill’ is loosely based on characters from here.   The working water wheel was majestic.  This is one of the best museums we have seen anywhere!  Top marks to all involved. 

After leaving here, we’ve headed back to Derbyshire.  We are on a site just south of Matlock and very near where we’ve cycled and walked before.

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There is actually a Steeplejack up on the chimney.  The heating in the mill was off so some of the machines were not running … they only like it warm.  We know two other people, who are still in layers, coats and scarves … whilst so many people have gone to T-shirts.  Is it because we did not experience the really cold British winter?

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Cottage Industry – Carding the cotton.  Usually performed by children.

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One of the multiple bobbin spinners … I think it was a spinning Jenny.

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As you walked through the mill, the industrial revolution developed and some of the machines were just huge.

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90 apprentices were indentured at any one time.  They arrived from Workhouses and were ‘enslaved’ / owned by the mill owner until they were 21.  This mantra was in the Apprentice House – my grandmother had this written into her school leaver’s book – guess it must have been from about 1920.  I’ve not seen it elsewhere and it really reminded me of Nanny.

373-375: White to Dark Peaks and Come On Bristol Rugby!

373 – Sunday 16th May 2016:  Foolow (not low) to Eyam Walk

Trundling our way through Foolow, we inclined steeply to a ridge – with a wing and a prayer – the prayer was answered at the top – a PH!  Resting on our laurels briefly – a glass of cold lager for J – and ginger wine for K. Fortified, we inclined a bit more and then declined to Eyam village via the well. The museum taught us lots about fleas, flies, rats and the Bubonic plague – Eyam sacrificed 280 of it’s 800+ inhabitants so that the rest of Derbyshire could survive – “no greater sacrifice than this…”. Lunch included chips – and a modicum of wine. We inclined back to our CL – and rested…..

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We’re heading up to that ridge…

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… fabulous rolling views from the top …

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… now that’s a good view …

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… ginger wine for me 🙂

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The heather clad moors looking north.

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Eyam is known as the plague village due to their self imposed quarantine when a bale of cloth brought the bubonic plague with it.  Neighbours would leave food and supplies by the well.

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Would that be Mr C with a glass of red whilst waiting for chips (which we shared!)

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Tractor procession as we left the pub.

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Eyam Hall is let to the National Trust.  The poor owners can no longer afford to live in it as it needs too much work and they only inherited in 1990!  The line died so the inheritance line went back to 1731!!!  It’s on a 20 lease to the NT, but the NT will not take it on fully without a £1m behest!

 

374 – Monday 16th May 2016:  Monsal Trail Bike Ride

Parking in Bakewell for Chard proved impossible – we just found a space at Hatton Station. Bikes readied cyclelogically, pedal power commenced. But – there was a clear and present problem!   My bike was silent!  Neither the brakes nor gears would speak to me!  Young Nigel in Matlock had silenced the blighters!  Smooth or what?  I was ready to be indeclined – up or down… It was brass monkey weather – arctic wind and it just seemed like freezing – we had all our layers on including my wooly hat – a long way from Punta Braccetto,  Dan…  If it was cold in the open – the 6 tunnels were littered with deceased brass monkeys!   But, after about 5 miles, a sight for cold eyes – not a PH – a “Tuck Shop”!  Hot coffee, a scone and flapjack of the chocolate variety…  The indeclines were flattened and the brass monkeys danced around the tunnels – we Charded back to Eyam CL – and rested…..

 

 

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View across the Wye Valley

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K:  Why shouldn’t we touch the sides?

J:  Because you’d fall off!

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End of trail coffee and cake stop.  So cold, J sporting a hat under his helmet.

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Litton Mill where Ellis Needham infamously ‘indentured’ (enslaved) children from the overflowing London workhouses until they were 21.  Conditions were truly appalling and some campaigners stated that there was opposition to the black slave trade, but little was done for the English slaves.

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Young Jade – almost 1 year old…..


 375 – Tuesday 17th May 2016:  Longshaw Estate and Padley Gorge to Grindlesham Walk

More full car parks – lots of Derbyshireans looking for Paddy Gorge…. But we succeeded at the Longshaw House – free for us as National Trust members. The walk declineated steeply passing Paddy G and lots of twitchers – some with very big ones!  Lenses – for those with doubting minds… At the bottom – The Cafe – highly recommended by a ‘Bongo’ owner we had met yesterday at Hatton Station. For the uninitiated, a Bongo is a VW-sized camper van – grey import from Japan – we had one for 2 years and loved it!   It led us ultimately – to Chard.  Sausage, bacon, hash browns, beans, chips – and tea fuelled us for the last incline of the day. A lovely shorter walk – and we journeyed to Hope village for our CL overnighter.  Thanks to K’s brilliant idea, we will travel to Doncaster tomorrow to see Bristol Rugby hopefully complete leg 1 of the Final – and return to the top table of English rugby – go Brizzle !  

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Amazing views across the National Trust Longshaw Estate.  This is now the Dark Peaks – moorland and rockier.

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Yes that is a cuppa tea.  Lunch was bacon, sausage, hash browns and the biggest place of chips ever!  Why is it the chips up here are so good?!?

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The National Trust do a lot for children here. I wonder who lives here?

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So excited … just need to find somewhere to park our 8m+ van!  have checked with the farm owners, they don’t mind us arriving back late.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

366 – 372: Poetry in the Peak District

 366 – Sunday 8th May 2016:  A Peak District Pastoral Scene

UK weather is so good at the moment – 25 C has been achieved – it makes everywhere look definitely Summer-ish – bluebells are still in evidence…  En route to our next CL some 20 miles away, we drove to Bakewell.  You cannot visit Derbyshire without getting a Bakewell tart!  Well, actually a Pudding as they are here.  The first car park was crammed – but a helpful attendant gave us directions to another near a large car boot sale. Loads of room there – and we lunched al fresco.  It was absolutely steaming hot and Bakewell was teeming with people – all good for business but not so good for navigating the little streets – thankfully pedestrianised.  Why is it that as soon as the sun comes out, the English strip off virtually all they can and then burn?  We saw very interesting sock and T-Shirt red marks.  Forays into Boots and a little craft market yielded some goodies – and K sent Maddy a Bakewell tart (pudding) by post!

We motored on to a CL farm – in the most picturesque setting. Our pitch looked out over an uninterrupted view across rolling fields and pastures. Our booking was for 3 nights and we immediately asked if we could stay for longer – yes was the answer.  The cattle were being herded in for the evening and we looked out over the setting sun. Our year-long journey has seen some spectacular sights – but the English countryside in Spring and nice weather does take some beating. Bucolic ?

 

“The curfew tolls the knell of parting day

The lowing herd winds slowly o’er the lea

The ploughman homeward winds his weary way

And leaves the the world to darkness and to me”

 

Perfect for our scene – Thomas Gray – 1745-ish.

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From the bridge into Bakewell:  hordes of people!

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More hordes and several ‘The Original” Bakewell Pudding shops!

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Our Certificated Location near Fridem.  Immaculate….

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… with rolling views. 

367 – Monday 9th May 2016:  Tissington Trail Bike Ride

Another stunning day greeted us in the a.m.  The plan was to take to the bicycles for the first time since Rome. There is a series of cycle paths in the area based on disused railway tracks – thanks to Dr Beeching in the 60s. The Tissington Trail looked promising – and not too hilly. I undertook some bike maintenance – tyre pumping, lubricating gears and chains, etc.  I donned cycling leggings complete with nappy (padding) – proposed distance was about 20 odd miles after all…and my saddle could take part in a BDSM fashion show!  Now James – there may be young people reading… Mummy – “What’s BDSM?”   “Well dear – it’s short for “Bedroom Display of Social Maintenance” – a sort of restful activity for husbands and wives…”  

Back to cycling… the track was flat and well gravelled – lots of fellow wheelers out and about – we had the perception that we were travelling slightly downhill… A pee stop at Hartington and on towards Tissington, gently.   (I will find a cycling poem, later maybe…).  Now, Tissington is famous for ‘Welldressing’. hen K told me – I thought I would be quite disgracefully underdressed – especially in my nappy leggings…  A series of water wells in the village are decorated at this time of year as an ancient ritual to pray for water.  They commemorate various events – war memories, religious themes, etc.  Unusual and quite attractive though.  Lunch in the sun sitting against a stone wall – excellent K-made soup as always. A pint and crisps in the local pub completed our repast – and we saddled up for the slightly uphill return.

A very gentle uphill cycle homeward – accompanied by a bracing crosswind – and meeting the cyclists whom we saw on the downward trip earlier.   A super supper awaited – slow cooked whilst we meandered our ways… we finished the evening watching the rest of “The spy who came in from the cold” – and thence to the nuptial bed…..

 

“The curfew rolls the bell of parting wheels

The blowing bard winds slowly o’er the lea

The wheelers homeward weave their weary way

And leave the path to Katherine and to me” 

 

James Clune – circa 2016 – apologies to Thomas Gray – and to our reader !

 

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The dressing can take a week to complete.  Clay has to be kept wet so petals, stones etc can be inserted.  The frames are then moved to the wells.

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The Tissington well dressing was this week so a sign pronounced ‘Tissington is Open for Business’.  Temporary car parks, cafes and the coach loads were shipped in.  A super day out for the Womens’ Institute … J and I felt very young!  This cafe was doing a bumper trade in tea and lunches … no pub in the village!  We had to cycle to of the village to find a pub with ‘tourist’ prices :(.

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The thing about the Peak District is that is just rolls on and on … dry stone walls, fields with cattle or sheep and a sheer sense of space.  You can certainly breathe up here.

 

368 – Tuesday 10th May 2016:  A ‘Down’ (Pour) Day

Weather has done an about turn:  Cloudy to start and the it has just rained and rained, and rained some more.  One of the joys of not having to cram everything in on a two week holiday is that you can be guided by the weather.  Today we were … a late start … first opportunity for a serious lie in since arriving in the UK.  A few leisurely jobs:

  • Organised CL sites to stay on whilst in the Peak District.  
  • We are all sorted to meet up with Kerstin and her mother for a night near Knutsford.
  • Booked onto some Wildcamping.co.uk meets:  Rutland and the Highlands.
  • Organised our trip back to Bristol to drop Chardonnay for more works.
  • Booked into the ever accommodating Aged P’s
  • Booked to see motorhome friends, Frances and Edward, who we just kept meeting up with in Italy
  • And to have lunch with another motorhomer, Penny.
  • And, and booked … and several CL sites in between.  We have not taken the plunge and wild camped yet in the UK and have been conscious that a lot of the CLs seem to get booked up now, especially around the weekends.
  • Chardonnay is now sparkly clean on the inside too … a good day’s work.

What did I just say about allowing weather to dictate our activities?  I think it just did!   And K’s not set a foot outside!


The Storm by Christopher Bunton  

A Storm rolled across the field,
Flashing lightning and thunder pealed.
The rain came crashing down,
and I almost nearly drown,
cause the top of my tent was not sealed.  

                           Fortunately, Chardonnay is snug and water tight! 

 

369 – Wednesday 11th May 2016: Quintessentially England Walk

A Walk (again) in Middle England……we parked in Ashbourne neatly overhanging the grass and taking up only one space.  Part of the Tissington Trail – lots of ups and downs – plenty of bluebells and wild garlic – and nearing (sensing?) the end of our tour – a PH ! – yes – a Public House, the Okeover Arms – for some post picnic lunchtime sustenance.

 

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Ashborne:  once the confluence of 6 major couching routes, which generate a pub plethora … if there is such a thing! This is the rare scaffold sign of the Green Man & Black Head Inn.  Too early to stop!

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Sorry tickled me …of course fold don’t business hours when they die.

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The village of Thorpe kindly provided benches for our lunch stop and this was our quintessential English view.

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Tour Leader.

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The River Dove.  Or is it the River of Love?  Loving the area.

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We have been reminded how so much of England is mixed tree varieties.

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The Tour Leader spots a detour by way of the Okeover Arms PH.

 

370 – Thursday 12th May 2016:  Cycling the High Peak Trail

Creaking brakes, dodgy gears – didn’t prevent me from launching on to the High Peaks Trail… K’s bike is fine though – mine needs some professional TLC soon. We appreciated the major engineering and construction works that were necessary to build these railways – good old British engineering, again.  Fresh air lunch overlooking the village of Cromford and beyond to Matlock – this is England in the Spring!  And it can’t possibly get any better.

 

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 The Hight Peak Trail, once a railway track needed serval steam powered engine houses to haul the trains up steep inclines.  This one at Middleton Top houses a restored working beam engine.  We had an ice cream!

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Lunch view looking down onto Cromford.  The large house in the middle was built by Arkwright but he died before it was completed.  Top left and hazy is Matlock.

371: Friday 13th May 2016:  Derwent Valley and Cromford Canal Walk

AM – short run along part of the High Peak Trail and then we dropped J’s bike off in Matlock for repair.  Having driven through Matlock and Matlock Spa, we don’t feel the need to return.  We then motored to Cromford and walked – uphill steeply!  Pretty fields and houses – and everything seemed uphill – to the Black Rocks – near our lunchtime spot of yesterday. We declined to walk a very steep downhill section – question – if uphill is an ‘incline’ – why is downhill not a ‘decline’?  I was declining uphill all day, somehow…  In the PM, I reclined for a while, dreaming of inclines. Was I inclined to decline any more inclines? Never !  

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The STEEP climb back up to the Black Rocks and passed the outside privy … hope there is a window the other side for the view! 

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Water was pumped from the River Derwent by the Leawood Pump House into the Cranford canal

372: Saturday 14th May:  A Move a Little Further North & Eurovision

We had to leave our amazing CL site, as it was fully booked.  Plan A:  We planned to walk from Ilam Park to Dovedale, but the place was heaving.  Really dense with bodies.  The campsite managers told me there must be some serious walking event on as the National Trust car park was full by 7.00am.  We could have attempted to park on rough ground up the hill, but decided to abort as there were just so many people.  We drove to our next CL at Eyam via Buxton … to buy a cheap radio so we could listen to Eurovision.  Buxton also had no appeal, (it had not appealed to J when he visited years ago either) so we did not linger.  

This site is also on a working farm and there is the constant baying of the cattle and the bird song … and another lovely view … rolling away from us.   We decided (actually J did!) that we would not walk from here as Plan B.  So Plan C evolved …. slowly.  A leisurely afternoon pottering.  We did not want to exhaust ourselves with the up coming excitement of Eurovision!  We attempted a score sheet, but it soon became irrelevant as J gave all performers a minus number, until challenged and then they received a big fat Zero.  All nonsense and rigged, but still very good fun.  We understand that America would like to join in.  We suspect they would take it seriously.  

Late in the evening, as K rediclined horizontally in the NB (nuptial bed), I threw in the Eurovision towel as Australia batted to an exciting victory – only to discover in the am – that Ukraine had bowled them out in the final innings!  UK had trailed in – not quite last – Ireland had not even qualified!!