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…

 

IMG 8650

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.

IMG 8672

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.

P1140513

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

P1140516

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

P1140519

P1140525

P1140529

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!!! 

IMG 8679

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.

IMG 8689

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.

Screen Shot 2017 07 03 at 16 59 33

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.

P1140539

P1140534

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 🙂

P1140548

Sromness with Hoy in the background.

P1140550

The Point of Ness Campsite.

P1140576

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

P1140585

Huge hand dived scallops with the small haddock …

P1140586

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

IMG 8702

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.

IMG 5429

IMG 5423

Seriously layered up for the wind and cold

IMG 5419

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

IMG 5401

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!

IMG 0789

IMG 3141

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.

1100747

The Priest’s House.  Where is everyone?

1100773

1100746

 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.

1100797

How to dress a crab in the Food Kitchen.

1100795

Would that be a rare species of chef crab?

1100799

Falconary with a difference … with a ferret and dog.

1100807

Sheepdog …

1100817

… 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.

 

IMG 0778

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

IMG 0780

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.

IMG 0781

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.  

IMG 0782

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…..

 

IMG 3109

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.

IMG 3112

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.

IMG 3117

IMG 3119

IMG 3124

IMG 3128

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

IMG 3139 Nowt so beautiful as nature.


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.

IMG 0783

Clouds playing across the hills.

IMG 0786

IMG 0787

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…


IMG 5278

IMG 5282

IMG 5298

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

IMG 5311

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.

IMG 5316

We preferred the gardens … wacky topiary.

IMG 5324

Rhododendrons and Azaleas were amazing.

IMG 5327

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.

IMG 5333

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?

IMG 5341

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

IMG 5346

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

IMG 5355

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

IMG 5366

IMG 5367

IMG 5361

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…..

IMG 5226

We’re heading up to that ridge…

IMG 5228

… fabulous rolling views from the top …

IMG 5229

… now that’s a good view …

IMG 5232

… ginger wine for me 🙂

IMG 5235

The heather clad moors looking north.

IMG 5237

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.

IMG 5239

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

IMG 5247

Tractor procession as we left the pub.

IMG 5252

IMG 5262

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…..

 

 

IMG 3102

View across the Wye Valley

IMG 3103

K:  Why shouldn’t we touch the sides?

J:  Because you’d fall off!

IMG 3104

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

IMG 3106

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.

IMG 0775

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 !  

1100719

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

1100720

1100727

1100729

1100731

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?!?

1100737

1100739

1100745

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

IMG 0777

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.

IMG 5206

From the bridge into Bakewell:  hordes of people!

IMG 5207

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

IMG 0758

Our Certificated Location near Fridem.  Immaculate….

P1100650

… 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 !

 

IMG 0747

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.

IMG 0748

IMG 0749

IMG 0751

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 :(.

IMG 0756

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.

 

P1100651

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!

P1100652

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

P1100665

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

P1100661

Tour Leader.

1100673

1100684

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

1100690

1100692

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

1100693

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.

 

1100698

 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!

1100706

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 !  

IMG 5212

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! 

IMG 5223

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!!   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

342 – 343: Cinque Terre: 5 Towns and More than 500 Steps

342 – Sunday 27th March 2016:   £evantoomuch at Levanto

We motorwayed from the Siena parking – picking up some breakfast along the way and refreshing our services en route…. some 3 hours later, we arrived at the campsite that K had picked out. The road in/up to the site looked very narrow – I did a recce and spoke to the site team – some doubt expressed about an 8 metre van negotiating their twisting lane…. then with myself and a chap from the site guiding K as driver, we made it up the hill – to the most expensive campsite on planet Earth (or in Italy) – Euro 36 per night!   Reluctantly, we parked – the area is a tourist trap – and it’s Easter…..  About 50/50 Italians and Germans … they can afford these site fees!

Under a greying sky, a tour of the town was de rigeur and off we went – the campsite didn’t charge us for walking on their road!  Nice enough seafront promenade – possible running route for the morrow.   Then, a little moment – a procession and marching band in medieval costumes – lovely.  K captured this angelic chappie swirling his flag – he looks a bit serious – does he know those are the colours of my local football team in Dublin?  We’ll recognise him in 20 years time – when he will be centre forward for Italy (James – you’re showing your age – what’s a centre forward ?)  

The rain came – and we retreated to our £ucsious campsite – with fairly decent £oos… this could go on and on… £ots of vans parked c£everly very c£ose together – enough !

IMG 0726

343 – Monday 28th March 2016:  Cinque Cento Terre – More than 500 Steps!

There is a saying in Italy – “persona qui pedant 500 pedes – descende on arse!”  It’s a recent saying – from today, actually…more later on that.  We Trenitaia’d from £evanto to Consiglia to start the Cinque Terre walk – 3-4 hours estimated by the Tourist Office – quite accurate in our case.  The photos give a good idea of the climbing – the paths were ok-ish in places – however, it must be said that in UK these paths would have been condemned on health and safety grounds. Which is better? Open a path that is narrow and steep with sheer edges – and trust people to be sensible – or close anything that hints of danger? We know the answer – perhaps Italy is not yet wildly litigious on h&s issues…? There was one sign we spotted at the end of the walk “Walking in the park is not recommended during bad weather”.  Oops – it had rained all night and half the morning!  And was very slippery … justification for what happened anon?!

Including a climb of 600 feet (sounds more impressive than 200 metres), we reached Vernazza – jam packed with tourists (it is a public holiday, after all) – and found a spot on the harbour wall to eat lunch – K’s pasta dish and fruit – plenty.  Second leg of trip – more ascending and ascending… spectacular views – some (not just me) quite mature folk walking the route. We had to remark on the wide range of unsuitable footwear on display – everything from flimsy plimsolls (another old word, James) to shoes with heels and suede boots!  Narrower paths – folk being polite in showing passing decorum (isn’t decorum a lovely word?  Decorous decorum decorated decadent descending dallies!)   The path was often so narrow that one waited to allow people to pass.  K asked J what the most common word spoken was .. “Feck” was the answer … No, said K … “Grazie” in a plethora of Italian and very non Italian accents.  

On one section, it was necessary (I swear it) to become quite intimate with passing members of the opposite gender – purely in the interests of – yes, decorum!  A bit like pressing flowers – or, as the Roman might have said – “intimosa floribundance”!  Then came the ‘floribumdance’!  I was blocked by a group of young folk who were not displaying decorum – so I sidestepped and walked on a more slippy side of the path – the ground came up to meet my nether regions – two body bounces and a couple of scratches as a result of the descendarse method… K called for the air ambulance – I was winched up and shot off to the local arsepedale…actually, we nonchalarsely kept on walking – stiff upper lip – and bottom!

Down some very steep steps, and Monterosso reached out to us – with red wine and ice cream!

An excellent walk – stirring views – another superb day – sadly, amongst the last of our present stay in Italy…

IMG 3000

The initial steps up from the train station at Corniglia, along with the masses.

IMG 3012

We came from here…

IMG 3015

Nets in situ to ready for the olive harvest.  

IMG 3018

Euphorbia and Irises – lots of Spring blossoms and flowers.

IMG 3021

Picnic spot at Vernazza in sight.

IMG 3026

IMG 3030

Nearly all American tourists … a lot of gelato being consumed (not connected!).

IMG 3047

Looking back at Vernazzo as we embark on stage 2 of the walk.

IMG 3048

No question as to why the Cinque Terre is such a draw for so many tourists.

IMG 3051

A cat sanctuary en route … with a notice asking people to feed the cats with the food provided in a bin.

IMG 3052

 And we came from here too … but you can see how steep the cliffs are.

IMG 3057

Monterosso and the train station in sight.  As well as olives, the cliffs also nurture vines … the farmers use mono rails to get up and down the slopes.

256-262 : All the S’s … Seccagrande, Sciacca, Selinunte and Sitting Still

256 – Friday 1st January 2016:  Start of the New Year

How about this for a New Year’s thought … this will be my first full calendar year with no work or meetings and it is James’ second such.  And we have been travelling in Europe for 256 days now … just wonderful.

We had a leisurely start, given how much booze and food we had consumed last night, we felt remarkably well!  We said good bye to Frances and Edward, having roped in a passing young lad to take a pix of us all, who then shook us each by the hand and wished us Buon Anno.  We will definitely meet up with F & E again at some point.

IMG 4398

Frances and Edward – our booze partners of the previous two evenings!

IMG 4397

Chardonnay and Frances & Edward’s van in the Porto Empedocles free parking.

We did not plan to travel far and nor did we.  Parked in Siculiana and had a quick walk, but decided it was a bit rough looking so we did not even stop for a coffee!  There is a castle there, but since we had no intention of going round, even had it been open …..  We also decided against stopping at Eraclea Minoa.  Apparently it is in a lovely setting, but again it would not have been open and the Valley of the Temples yesterday had given us enough ruin viewing for a few days.

Dan had told us about a wild camp spot in a car park right on the beach at Seccagrande … 4 Italian vans who were just there during daylight and over night it was us and a German.  We basked in the afternoon sun and read … very peaceful with lovely views along the coast.

IMG 4399

 

 

257 – Saturday 2nd January 2016:  Sciacca and Pronunciation!

K ran along the beach road and we half breakfasted outside watching two scuba divers.  K made a bacon, vegetable and puy lentil soup for lunch … I love the pressure cooker.  And then we did a clean and hoover.  We passed over EUR5 to the nearby campsite to use the services and drove to Sciacca.  I got the pronunciation all wrong until James helped, with … it rhymes with SHAG HER!  This I can remember!  So the phonetic spelling is Shaka.

We have parked up at the harbour here.  Frances and Edward said there were 11 vans when they were here a few days ago … we are one of 14 and all Italian.  It is so large a parking, that we have been able to park facing some boats and not wedged in by other vans.  

IMG 4405

Again a lovely view.

We wandered around the town with no fixed plan and found lots of steep alleys (of course), churches, a market packing up, the town wall with several gates and lots of Palazzos.  It has an Arab influence which is evident in the architecture.  

IMG 4407

IMG 4409

Stairs up ….

IMG 4412

 … up and up!

IMG 4419

Another quirky Christmas Tree … lot of fun in emptying the bottles!

IMG 4422

One of the old town gates with amazingly huge and old wooden doors.

IMG 4425

Yes really??? Cars are coming through this gap!  We still suffer palpitations from us wedging Chardonnay in too tight corners.

IMG 4428

We’d missed a market.  The rubbish they left was stupendous and horrendous …no effort to clear up after themselves …

IMG 4426

… but it looks like Bono of U2 is moonlighting as a street cleaner.

IMG 4434

The Arab influence is strong in this town.

IMG 4438

Part of the town wall.  What you can’t see is the modern blocks of flats built on top of the wall.

We so like the town and our parking (although we have yet to experience how quiet it is at night … I have read about noise from gnats [gormlous noisy adolescent turds] on mopeds on forums), there is a supermarket within 3 mins walk, so we plan to stay here tomorrow too.

 

258 – Sunday 3rd January 2016:  Sciacca Again

K ran and pilates’d in front of the van until she noticed her audience of local fishermen!  We wandered up to the old town for another walk and an ice-cream.  We both did lots of admin jobs and J started on the dreaded tax return!  Why is is you never quite have all the information you need on the first go.

IMG 0344

IMG 0347

Have you ever seen thorns this size?

 

259 – Monday 4th January 2016: And Again!

J attempted a run only to realise his calf had done no healing … it is going to be a stay still day with ice and heat treatments.  Tax return for J continued.  Rain heavy on and off.  An admin jobs day.   K did a little walk and J joined her for a short walk for some air and a coffee.

 

260 – Tuesday 5th January 2016:  And off again … Selinunte

We made use of the supermarket and stocked up for the next few days with fruit and veg.  We failed to buy an electric heater for when we are on sites, as our on board heating always trips the site electric.  We did buy a basic set of weighing scales as K has been eating like a horse since the run up to Christmas and needs to scare herself with seeing the kilos pile on … so far the theory is, however, not working!  

Having free camped for 3 days at Sciacca, our black and grey water were pretty full.  Laundry bag full.  K’s hair needed a wash.  Motorhome service areas are pretty thin on the ground so we headed for a campsite near Selinunte.  We booked in for one night, but the washing machine took such a long time to complete a cycle it was night fall before both loads were done.  It rained in the night too, so we had to retrieve all the wet washing and bring it in :(.

BBQ for supper though 🙂

 

261 – Wednesday 6th January 2016:  Sitting still in Selinunte

Awning out and the two loads of wet laundry dangling under it …. too much to dry off the bike rack and/or in the van, so we were set put for another day.

Rain on and off so we rested J’s leg, did more admin and planning.  Including booking K’s flight back to the UK to see her Munchkin in February half Term :).  We walked to the town in the afternoon for a coffee.  Pretty chilly so the BBQ chicken became chicken cacciatore!

 

262 – Thursday 7th January 2016:  Selinunte Ruins and Tre Fontane

Packed up and put away nearly all the now dry laundry.  Drove the very short distance to the ruins at Selinunte.  It is a large site with a lot of walking, so K explored alone whilst J rested his calf.  OK, so the Greek Temples in Paestum were the best.  The Valley of Temples was also fairly impressive, but a bit reconstructed and touristy.  But I really liked Selinunte.  It is barely restored, just a couple of semi restored temples. Most of the stones are still on the ground where they have fallen when the city was attacked by Carthage on 409BC or as a result of earth quakes.  This city was not pulled apart, nor stone recycled, for subsequent Roman rulers.  It was a city and a vast city.  As I walked around I could really get the sense of the scale and the importance of it, and in a lovely coastal setting.  As well as the temples, there are the huge fortifications, admin and residential areas.

P1080990

Temple E 490-480BC: pure Doric style with 68 columns

P1080999

Temple C 580-550BC:  the oldest and largest in this section

P1090009

View across to the Acropolis 

P1090026

View back to Temple E.  Odd stones stick up and a lot of the area is still to be excavated.

P1090028

P1090037

P1090038

P1090042

A couple of main roads with arterial roads off

P1090060

Part of the fortification area at the North Gate

P1090063

An artist’s impression of what the fortifications would have looked like … three floors for the army to shoot out of. 

The whole of the acropolis was built on a massive reinforced stone plinth

P1090070

We lunched on pea and mint soup in the car park and then drove the short distance to Tre Fontane.  A small seaside town with a long sandy beach; our Swedish neighbours had told us about the free overnight parking here.  The town is pretty deserted, but we found two open cafes.  We are not going to enjoy the beach other than the view (and the pinky grey sunset, as I type) as it is pretty blowy with the odd shower.  We are parked facing the sea and into the wind. I wonder if we will be rocked much in the night?