1604- : Covid Changes and Heading Home!

1604:  Quiet in Quinson

Monday 27th July 2020

A run with CO2 in the park and then off to Lidl to stock up for the next few days whilst we had use of Sarah’s car.  Then James returned the car … lunch on site with a late check out.  Really helpful site, Les Treilles, the owner ran the hose for a good while so we would have fresh water in our tank. Although with these temperatures, it doesn’t stay fresh long!

2.00 pm saw us at Feu Vert … a chain of tyre stores … front tyre looking a little soft.  Lovely young lady assisted us with the machine, as it defeated us.  And so up into the hills to Quinson … a lovely free parking recommended by Lin and Bo, with a toilet block.  On a lake with a pretty small town.  I did walk along to the prehistoric site, but it was a unremarkable two hut recreation.  We did manage an ice cream in the town, of course!

Maddy, my daughter, was reading about risks of the UK government re-imposing quarantine with France and was really worried bout her flight being cancelled on 2nd August.  This was to be her only trip this summer … so we bought another flight for her from Stansted to Toulouse … well Carcassonne really, with Ryan Air.  For tomorrow!   And guess who paid?!?  A bit of a change of plan; the tourist planning I’d done was now null and void.  And we went into van cleaning and bedding airing mode. 

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1605:  Tyre and Airport

Tuesday 28th July  

We planned to leave about 10.00 to give ourselves plenty of time for the 4.30 hr drive to Carcassonne.  Whilst we were breakfasting, others on the parking altered us to a flat tyre.  The one that’d had a resuscitation of air yesterday.  Completely pancaked.  Decided which of the 2 choices of breakdown recovery policy to use and rang RAC.  Yes, would typically have someone with us within an hour.  It was nearer 2 hrs!  When he did arrive, it was in a battered old car with no kit, but the ever important mega jack in the boot.  Repair to tyre will have to wait till tomorrow … we’re off to the airport.  Only 2 hours later than planned.  Maddy had to wait about an hour as we were late and her plane was early.  

We parked up in the authorised motorhome parking in Carcassonne  … free till end July as a gift from the council and retailers.  A walk around the citadel area, but quite busy and then across the river in the newer part.  A glass of wine on the way and then the time got away from us (too late for me to cook!), so we ate out … nice.

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Our pukka grease monkey.  One being asked if I could take his, pix, he smiled for me.

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The culprit … a whopping nail.


The Medieval part of Carcassonne is simply stunning.  A massive citadel around narrow streets.  But even in Covid Times, it was busy.  And the carparks were empty, so heaven help anyone who comes in a normal summer.


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The ‘new’ Carcassonne is not to be ignored either.

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This is not the first time, I’ve warned M that we will be walking and then her shoes rub up a blister, so we swap! 

1606:  Carcassonne

Wednesday 29th July  

We exercised … leg workout, never again!  And wandered into Carcassonne for breakfast / brunch.  It was even busier than last night, so we didn’t stay long.  Perhaps the best time to visit is Spring / Autumn.

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Maddy rigged for iPhone charging and a fan.  Corrie attempting to join her!


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Maddy led the leg workout.  What you can’t see are the resistance bands around our thighs.  I felt muscle pain for about 3 days.  Funnily enough, I refused to do it again!

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Carcassonne again.


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Busy, busy, Busy.  We don’t like crowds at the bust of times and especially not in Covid Times.

We found another Feu Vert tyre place …. they could fix the tyre but we would have to wait an hour.  All the garage was emptied onto the tarmac and we sat and waited our turn.

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Maddy to the opportunity to soak up some rays … bemusing the odd shopper!

Determined to do the tourist thing, I dragged M, J and CO2 around a book town, Montolieu, the French version of Hay-on-Wye.  Would have been great for buying all sorts of second hand books, had we been fluent in French!

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Book shops spilling out into the narrow streets.

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CO2 flaked out after a ball game in our overnight aire.

1607-9:  Millau Sheltering and Sweltering

Thursday 30th to Saturday 1st August 

I had planned lots of places to visit … not to happen!  We ended up avoiding the heat by booking into a campsite for 3 days.  It had a pool for Maddy, shade for for all of us.  And other than a walk into the market, we didn’t do a lot!  A couple of BBQs and a bit of swimming, laundry and admin.  Even the water adverse CO2 had a couple of enforced dunkings in the River Tarn.  We were up early mornings, so it was cool enough to exercise, but NOT that leg workout!

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Marinated thighs with satay sauce … yummy.

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Greek night in France: fava, aubergine salad, beetroot with garlic and slow cooked beans.  With my first attempt at flat breads.  Nostimos!  

1610:  Bridge Views and Roquefort

Sunday 2nd  August 

Leaving the campsite we headed to a bridge information centre under the bridge.  Maps.Me is infallible, I’d spotted it here … obviously long since closed but it gave a sense of perspective of the hight of the bridge legs.

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You catch the odd view of the bridge from all angles.

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We attempted to follow the sat nav, set up for our weight and size, to the correct information centre for the bridge.  It took us down the valley and across to Peyre … one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France and a village perche.  After narrow road and cars coming in the opposite direction, we lunched in the car park and then aborted our quest for the bridge information centre.

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Peyre, super pretty, but the mediaeval and troglodyte caves to be explored another trip.

We arrived in Roquefort – the AOC village where fluorine air from the caves gives the cheese it’s distinctive flavour.  Super helpful last in the Tourist Centre but the free aire.  She told me about a walking app, which I duly downloaded.  Maddy and I took CO2 on a short walk.  Little did we realise it was down, down and down to the river, then up, up and up back to the parking. This, with a run in the morning, meant we both achieved more than our target steps.

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The walk was called the Sentier de Mehir … this store which apparently has very little in common with a menhir!  But CO2 got to cool off.

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Interesting canoe tent!

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View from the free parking with free services.  Thank you Roquefort.

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1611:  An Active Day: Tasting and Cycling (of sorts!)

Monday 3rd August 

A pre-booked, but free tour of Roquefort Papilion.  Tour in French but I followed most of it, aided by the booklet in English.  Sadly, my French has been letting me down … whether it is the face masks making it harder for me to translate and / or my ear is just not in, but I’ve had the humiliating experience of French people on hearing my French, offering to speak English to me.  Much to Maddy’s glee!  I am not amused! 

OK, a few cheeses facts:

  • Only 7 producers have Roquefort AOC accreditation.
  • The fungi is grown and harvested from rye bread
  • A local left rye bread and cheese in a cave, came back later and … liked the mould!
  • Production is seasonal …you’d have thought the sheep could be more accommodating and spread out their milk / lamb yield.
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Maddy and I did a self guided tour or another marque, having first sampled their ewe’s milk ice cream!  After lunch, we went back in and bought a cheese for a third producer.  All set up for a Roquefort tasting with our friends Bev and Mike who we are seeing soon.

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And Maddy doesn’t even like mouldy cheese!

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A rare sign of affection!

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Cheese loaves maturing … fake at this time of year.

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A flock of steel sheep on the roundabout at Roquefort.

Late afternoon we shifted to Saint Eulalie de Cernon.  We had booked a 5.00 pm velo (bike) ride … think The Railway Children film … pedaloes on a disused railway.  Across viaducts and through tunnels.  Great fun and the 8KM were over too quickly.  A train took us back to the start.

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Two people pedal and up to 3 can take it easy in the back. To be honest is was mostly downhill, so as much breaking as cycling.

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Pedalling selfie.

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Over night we were in a private aire by the medieval town of Saint Eulalie de Cernon.  It even had showers and toilets.  


1612:  Les Hospitaliers and the Bridge Proper

Tuesday 4th August 

With access to water, a laundry session was in order.  The aire owner pressed leaflets into my hand … even for the velo ride, despite my saying we’d done that last night … perhaps my French let me down again!  Maddy didn’t fancy going into the Knights Hopsitaliers medieval building, so James and I took a gander.  No pix as my camera SD card died.  

After lunch, we set off for the correct / current Millau Viaduct visitor centre.  Tours on the build would have greatly interested J, being a bridge man, but we’d not booked.  However the information centre was pretty good and had a viewing area.

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With hot weather forecast and M needing to top up her tan, we headed for water … Lac de Pareloup.  A massive ex-municipal campsite turned camperstop was rammed.  But fortune smiled on us … after by passing a lake side site that wanted EUR42 plus 3rd adults plus dogs … we found a farm site about 700m from the lake … EUR18 inclusive.  Pretty basic but roomy and we had shade late afternoon.  

Mum rang.  She’s due a minor op and doesn’t want to risk it being postponed should quarantine arriving from France be introduced.  They brought their return forward and we would not be now staying with them at my sister’s house in Charante.

1613:  Lazy Lake Swim

Wednesday 5th August 

Exercise again in the morning .. I found a run off road … J complemented me on finding so many hills! More laundry … cos I could and it mounts up quickly when there are 3 of you (and one changes her clothes every day!).   M and I did a session on the beach by the lake.  

Maddy NEEDED to wear her posh dress out, so we booked a table at the restaurant.  Lovely food with a choice of menus.

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J had salmon tartare with a beetroot sorbet.

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Charcuterie for M with pickled mushrooms.

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Foie Gras and another sorbet ? for me.  And lots of edible petals for us all!

Main courses were also excellent … then the cheese course … 

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We filled our boots and then I did a homemade doggy bag … the remainder into a doggy poo bag.  The lovely waitress gently told me that it was for us to take and return what we didn’t want.  Oops, I’ve just taken it.  “I saw!” was her wry reply!   My justification was that on hygiene grounds they couldn’t re-serve the cheese to others, surely!  Anyway, they got a good tip, as I felt guilty and we enjoyed the leftovers for lunch!

1614:  Rodez Shopping 

Thursday 6th August 

Leaving the campsite we set off for Rodez.  Maddy had not had time for proper retail therapy and Rodez had a Sephora … makeup store!  We parked slightly outside and let CO2 tow us uphill to the centre.  A bit of shopping and a cafe frappe.  Given the heat, we headed for Belcastel, another Beaux Villages, but we were one side of the river and the campsite was the other … just a small packhorse bridge between the two which was quite unsuitable for Jez …. narrow roads the other way …. abort.

A quick perusal of Park4Night and the next village on our tourist trail was Figeac, but temperatures predicted to be up in low 40s, so we stopped just before at another ex-municipal site, now a camping car aire.  Barrier with multi-lingual instructions and we gained entry for 2 nights and we now have a card for the Camping Cars Sites.  For EUR11.92, it was a great site:  EHU with good amps, hedged pitches, hot showers and river front on the Lot.  The site had the Lot!

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Rodez cathedral.

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1615:  Return Change

Friday 7th August 

The Times newspaper, so it had to be believed, reported that the Government was seriously considering imposing quarantine on arrival from France.  We have a LOT organised for our return and it would be awkward to impose on anyone for 14 days (I know Lin and Bo have kindly offered us their yard) … so as soon as the lines opened, I held on for 25 mins to bring our tunnel crossing forward.  The earliest we could take was 0123 on 10th.  This stupid o’clock time also incurred an additional fee of £34 … prices just keep going up with demand.  But a small price to pay compared to 14 days incarceration … and I do appreciate that most folk have done this for months.  

We cancelled seeing Bev and Mike … but will catch up with them in the UK … wonder if we will be able to keep off consuming the varieties of Roquefort for the tasting we’d planned!?  A local vet could see CO2 at 4.30.  I cycled the 1.5km with CO2 in the Os-car … far too hot for them to walk.  In the event I was a sweating puddle as soon as I felt the vet’s air con.  I had rivers running down my arms and legs …. if anyone had looked closely as me, they would have assumed I was incontinent.  Result with the vet … as I provided the worming tablets, he only charged a consultation fee … EUR30.  Sure this is the cheapest i’ve ever paid.

1616:  Return Change

Saturday 8th August

Up at 6.00, showered, water filled and we were off by 7.15.  A long driving day.  Maddy would love to get behind the wheel and take a turn … but NO!

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The rear sleeping seat for the non driver!

We arrived at Nonancourt, a municipal aire with free services, that we’ve used before.  Dog walk, dinner and bed.

1617:  Last Day

Sunday 9th August 

With half day closing, we shopped at Evreaux …. a super huge Carrefour.  Maddy slightly irritated that I chose to walk every aisle … she was hungry.

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Car park croissant.

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Just as well we are planning a lot of dry days or this would not last until we come out again in October!

We parked up at the Sangatte aire.  Walked the dogs, ate and walked the dogs again.  And blogged whilst waiting for our 0123 train.  

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And another plug for the FaceBook group … Campaign for real aires … CAMpRA.  do check it out.




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

1234:  Antibes and J’s Family 

Monday 22nd July 2019

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

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

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

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

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And with their kids … full house on grandchildren.

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Baseball was the main game … Corrie confused …

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

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And water pistols to play with.

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Did I mention, it was still hot!


1235-41:  Charente and K’s Family 

Tuesday 23rd – Monday 29th July 2019

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

IMG 3616Aubeterre.  Would that be another lunch out?  

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Cocktails pool side.

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

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


1242-1249:  Back to Blighty

Tuesday 30th July – Tuesday 6th August

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

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

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As ever, Mr Competitive Ian won the Puket tournament.

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

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

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

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

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

1250-1254:  Uffington White Horse and Abingdon Meet

Wednesday 7th – Sunday 11th August 

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

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

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Oh dear! 

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

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

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


1255-1259:  Yorkshire with the Aged P’s

Monday 12th to Friday 16th August

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

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Our View.

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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