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 !  


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





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?!?




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….


… 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.



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!


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


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


Tour Leader.



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



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


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.



 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!


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!!   
































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 !

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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…

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

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We came from here…

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Nets in situ to ready for the olive harvest.  

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Euphorbia and Irises – lots of Spring blossoms and flowers.

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Picnic spot at Vernazza in sight.

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.  

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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.  

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Stairs up ….

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 … up and up!

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

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

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

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

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

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The Arab influence is strong in this town.

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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.

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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.


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


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


View across to the Acropolis 


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





A couple of main roads with arterial roads off


Part of the fortification area at the North Gate


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


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?