293 – 295: Highland Motorhome Meet

293 – Friday 17th June 2016:  Inverness and Highland Gathering

Stripey cushions transformed our budoir into a more cosy nest at a royal cost of? very “liddle”! 

Highland gathering of the Clans Clune, MacKenzie, MacMargaret, MacShirley and MacOthers – sorry, MacOthers!  Drinkies and no-meat repasta – a late night for some – weaving across the grass at someoclock am!  Nuff said, K. 

A truly neighbourly mix of esoteric and eccentric folk…


A ‘quick’ stop at a discount store to replace the Toblerone I’d eaten on the way up to the Meet (I’d stepped up and eaten the lot – solo!), and ended up with a lovely bed cover and new cushions.  Getting homey in the motorhome!  


What sort of gatherings?  These are NOT spliffs!  I’m assured burning rolls of kitchen roll keeps the midges away!  But whose to know?!

294 – Saturday 18th June 2016:  Burning stuff


A slow start in the Clune Camp – K out of necessity waiting for the Neurofen to kick in and J nobly keeping her company!  Breakfast – full (English, Irish) Scottish – they all taste the same, although the Stornaway black pudding is so addictive – cooked outside.

Angus, our host, said the mountain walk was ‘easy!  He hadn’t been up for some time!  Somebody had grown the mountain into a Himalayan precipice – with bits of Scafell, Nevis and imprecipitous precipitability thrown in!!  The Mission Impossible motley crew crawled up the heather – K, J, Tina, Karen, Oscar and Holly shot (?) up the hill… the photos speak for themselves. Tina dived headfirst into the bog – the mountain rescue crew winched her out feet first in to the helicopter, with Holly hanging onto her painted toenails!  Do I have a shade of exaggeration here?  Just a large bit, James!


Saturday BBQ was meat-ful – the German sausages by Tina (who had recovered from her ‘rescue’ by an all male ‘Chippendale’ crew) – she didn’t want to leave the heli copter – were amazing. 


George gave out dodgy sweeties with pure alcohol inside – a sort of ‘alcosweedgly’ bite!   But we now know how to make toffee vodka and mint vodka … just need to stock up on Werthers Originals and Murray Mints!  Plenty of empty bottles to brew it in!


Warmed our bits before the huge campfire – magic dust appeared magically turning the flames blue – thanks, Nicky.  Another one-o’clock bedtime for some – is it becoming a habit?


Yep, we, two lasses and their miniature pooches are headed up here.


Fab views and we’re only halfway up.


OK – we’re about to leave the path and head off across the heather and bogs!


Our final summit – although not the real one!


Knee high heather.  Ankle high dog … we took turns to carry Oscar – the real reason we did not make it quite to the top!


The hill climbing posse – Karen, James, Moi and Tine.  The monstrous peak in the back.  Incident free other than Tine landing thigh deep in the bog.


Best bit – burning stuff.  K finally warmed up.


People had been asked to bring instruments.  Margaret had spent 7 weeks learning how to play the whistle and we’d heard her impressive practice in the morning (I was still in bed!) and Gordon on the Guitar.  I had a bit of a moment when they played ‘Will you go lassie go’ as it is one of the songs that Nicky used to play and sing.  She’d have loved the fire and music.


295 – Sunday 19th June 2016:  Fort Augustus Lunch

“Sunday, Sunday” – Mamas and Papas? It’s Papas Day in Fort Papa and everywhere… K sent Papagreetings to Grahame “Grumps” PapaLeslie in Moldovashire!  A run and Pilates for K – much overdue!

We were driven to Fort Augusta for lunch – past spectacular Papaviews (oh Dear, James) – which included fish and chips for some Papas – and a modicum of wine.  Travelled back with Papa Angus and Margaret – we rested on our laurels an easy evening.   We reflected that the 15 vans were piloted by a motel crew of individuals from all walks of life, but we all had a few things in common:  a love of independence, value of scenery & quality of life and friendliness.  No wonder we had such a good time.



The old military road to Fort Augustus is stunning – we stopped for a photo opportunity.

382-288: Rutlandish

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

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

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


383 – Wednesday 25th May 2016:  Remembering and Trams

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

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

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Seriously layered up for the wind and cold

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

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


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

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


385 – Friday 27th May 2016:  Exercised Out

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

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


386:  Saturday 28th May 2016:  Race Day!

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

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


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

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

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


The Priest’s House.  Where is everyone?



 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.


How to dress a crab in the Food Kitchen.


Would that be a rare species of chef crab?


Falconary with a difference … with a ferret and dog.


Sheepdog …


… 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!