Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Even further down the country

Is it time to go now?
After the first night in Ludlow (without a nice meal) we decided to head on further down the country to Devon.  We booked into a great site - Stowford Caravan Park - near Ilfracombe.
The facilities were fantastic and so well organised yet half the price of Ludlow so we booked for two nights. We arrived late on Saturday and we were 6 miles from Ilfracombe so we stayed around the site and did some chores on Kevin.  The site had 3 bars, an accessory shop and a farm shop selling local produce.  We had Sunday lunch at the on-site Carvery....
That was Sunday Lunch!
 and had a long walk in the afternoon to walk it off.  Sunday night was the night of the eclipse and there was a fantastic sunset..
but unfortunately the picture is rubbish..
Next morning (Monday) we decided to head off to our next destination, Padstow in Cornwall.  I wanted to have some Fish and Chips in Rick Stien's cafĂ© just to see if they were as good as his reputation.  On route, I decided to do some driving (Gulp).  GJ agreed but for some reason asked if I had packed any vallium tablets.  He thinks I drive too fast but you have to get there as soon as possible don't you?  It was great to just pull over and make a cup of coffee - simple things!
Little town en-route in a sheltered cove
Kevin stops for coffee
Mileage so far : 314 to Ilfracombe
GJ, H & Bracken

Sunday, 27 September 2015

At last we have Kevin.

After we had spent a few days in Aberystwyth visiting brother no. 2, we checked to see if our Kevin parts had arrived.  In the country but not yet at the dealers.  We decided to go back to Cheshire and stay with best friends Paul and Anne again as they were closer to the dealership.
Bracken plays hide and seek for the last time with Millie
We stayed in Cheshire for 3 nights and to kill a bit of time, visited Delamere Forest. Had a lovely long walk and rounded it off with lunch at the visitor centre.  One thing I will say is that we are experiencing all sorts of different coffee.
"You will have an adventure"
On Thursday, we were told we could collect Kevin at 4 o'clock so we meandered down to Market Drayton to pick him up and leave my Mazda for the Insurance salvage squad.  The next part of the logistics involved yet another stay with Paul & Anne so we could load Kevin up with our stuff that was sitting in GJs car.  This vehicle is spending some time staying with P & A until we come back to Blighty to pick it up.  Thank goodness for good friends with lotsa land!  Cor!, this has taken some organising but at least we haven't had to waste time selling the Mazda.
On Friday we finally started off our journey down the country at about 12.30 which meant we had to stop half way down at Ludlow (the Midlands foodie capital)!  We found a lovely site, very well organised, with electric hook-up and Wifi.  We decided that we might stay for two nights so that GJ could do a bit of work on Kevin and I could catch up with the blog etc.  That night (as I wasn't very organised with food) we decided to walk into Ludlow which was advertised as being "close".  The walk took about 40 minutes and as you can imagine, at quite a pace with a promise of a beer at the end of it.  Unfortunately, Ludlow seems to be quite a Conservative town and all the eateries seemed to be restaurants with no admission for dogs.  We did however find a fish and chip shop and we sat (well, actually stood) by the river and devoured them before tramping the 40 mins. back to camp.  Fortunately we had some wine (but then, when do we not!) to come back to and had a right giggle when we tried to make up the large bed from the U shaped lounge area in Kevin.  Needless to say we decided not to stay another night at Ludlow because I was still on a promise for a meal out.
After our first night's sleep - or not!
Slight problem with the sleeping arrangements,  there isn't really any room for Bracken to sleep in the body of the van very comfortably so we have broken one of our rules and allowed him to bunk up with us.  This, in theory wouldn't be a problem because the bed makes up to a super super king size so there is plenty of room for us all, but unfortunately Bracken thought that it would be great to just stretch out completely and force me into a corner - once he is asleep, wild horses couldn't move him.  Then the other problem was that because our bedding is only king size, there was a strip down my side of the bed that was uncovered as a consequence of Bracken's contentedness.  Brrrr....
Anyway onward and upward (or downward to Devon & Cornwall).
H, GJ & Bracken - Mileage so far 100 miles.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

We're still waiting....

We still have no news of Kevin.  His clutch is now in the country but we are awaiting distribution to the company we have bought him from.  The bonus to all this is that it has allowed us to visit yet more family by car and not have to worry about parking.
We have spent the last two days in Aberystwyth visiting No. 2 brother and family.  We had the obligatory meal out..
Excellent meal cooked by my nephew who is head chef
At least (or at last) we managed to tire the dogs out.  Bracken remembered Millie even though it had been a long time since they had met.  She was quite the brazen hussy with him at first until she got very excited and noisy on the way out to her favourite swimming grounds, Bracken got a bit fed up with her and wouldn't let her back into the car for the journey back.  They were like two tired children.
 Being very polite and walking together on Aberystwyth Prom
 Woof woof, & whine - I want it now!
Snooty indifference!
We are now back in Chester with Paul and Anne as we are closer to Kevin, ready to pounce when we get good news.  I think a walk in Delamere forest is in order.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Kevin gets sorted....

Well it seems that Kevin has an alien clutch that was fitted not long ago.  Those nice people at Lazy Days in Market Drayton (plug over)  have agreed to seek out the correct parts and fit them all included in the price but means we have to wait until they get the parts from Italy.  Hopefully  we get him on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Until then we have decided to visit family and friends for the last time.  We emptied out containers of all Kevin's stuff and trundled down the M6 in a two car convoy to Cheshire to catch up with our best friends Paul & Anne and their offspring Anna Louise &  Tom.  Had more nice food at The Boot,  Willington with a table booked for tomorrow night at the Slowboat (to china) in Chester.   Many years ago,  an old haunt of ours!
Anne & Anna Louise
Belly pork Mmmmm...
He wasn't being grumpy really

Off today to catch up with brother no. 1 and family, and GJs Auntie Rose.   This retirement lark is extremely busy!

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Wander round Stratford upon Avon

I seem to be a bit out of sync with the days (comes with retirement and old age!) so I am now reporting on our walk into Stratford last Sunday. 
It doesn't seem to be much different to when we first came some 30 years ago.  Perhaps a bit busier but then, where isn't?  Shakespeare's birthplace is the same but older, Morris dancers still give a show at the weekend and the Avon trips by boat still tout for business.
 Mostly pedestrianised now
 The Avon
 The Avon
Shakespeare's birthplace
So we wandered around as you do, until lunchtime and then decided we would like a Sunday lunch not prepared by myself for a change.
Roast Beef with all the trimmings.

Day trip to Stow on the Wold

We are still waiting for the service/MOT/tax disc etc. to be sorted on Kevin (the Kon Tiki) so while we were in Stratford we thought we would catch up with one of GJs old school friends who lives in Stow on the Wold.  Something in my mind made me think that it would be a quaint little village with thatched cottages, a village green/pub and possible a post office.  In reality it is quite a big town (bigger than Windermere but smaller than Kendal for those who live where I used to), which has a thriving tourist trade and lots of coaches.  Pretty tho' the centre may be, within a stones throw is a big Tesco which somewhat brings you back to reality.

Our friend Nigel took us for a look round the village/town and right in the centre was the church with an unusual doorway..
Were the trees or church here first?
After we returned to our cottage and ablutions done, we ventured into Stratford to a restaurant that had been recommended by the cottage owner.  Loxley's.  We had booked which was just as well because even though Stratford is full of eateries, they all seemed to be bouncing even on a Tuesday night.  We had a Tapas sharing platter to start which even though it sounds Spanish, contained the following: Hot spicy chorizo (Spanish), Salt and pepper squid (Chinese!), Olives (Spanish, Italian or Greek), Aioli (Spanish), Almonds (from anywhere), Sun blushed tomatoes (Italy) and Pitta bread strips (Greek).  Very nice though.  Next I had lamb done two ways (rack & braised belly) with dauphinoise potatoes & veg whilst GJ had rib eye steak with peppercorn sauce and skinny fries.

All washed down with a decent Shiraz
Having not been out for this type of meal for a long time, it was an eye opener to see the prices (old lady speak) nevertheless, we did enjoy it.  We got a taxi back and GJ enjoyed talking to the polish taxi driver who had the same moans and groans that he experienced at Windermere.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Anne Hatherway's Hamlet

Because we thought we would be better placed to buy a motor home in the Midlands, we decided to book a cottage in Stratford upon Avon.  Last visited in our courting days some 30 years ago.  Not much has changed down here, the town looks very like both Chester and Windermere (both places where we have spent many years) with the same old touristy shops, restaurants and cafes.  The cottage is fantastic - truly 16th century with a thatched roof and beams all over the place strategically placed for you to crack your head on.
 View from the enclosed back garden
 The tiny lounge with WIFI, part of a dog and GJ
 The lovely little kitchen
 Bedroom 1
Bedroom 2
Can't you just tell that I have been trying to sell my own house for 4 years!  I will miss this Quintessential Britishness but who knows what sort of habitat we will have in the future.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Well that was a different day....

As we were down in the Midlands, we thought we would visit my uncle (Dad's brother) and his wife in Bristol.  All was going to plan until we stopped for lunch at a service station.  We parked some way away from the station but when I came out from having the call of nature, the heavens opened - drowned rat syndrome.   Never mind says I (in my south west accent) - that's what retirement does for you.  You tend to say never mind when you used to say for f***s sake.
We carried on towards Bristol and the gizmo on the dashboard told me that we were only 4 minutes from our destination.  Great I thought - "straight ahead at the roundabout" I told my driver (GJ), then OMG what was that!?  There were two cars in the lanes behind us that had obviously had an altercation which had resulted in one of them bumping into us. Huh!

Imagine the traffic - considering we are used to minor roads in the Lakes that don't have either major roundabouts or traffic lights, there we were, Bracken and I, sat in our poorly car right on a roundabout with traffic all about us whilst my driver (GJ) was exchanging details with a guy who was indifferent and girl who was nearly hysterical.
Now I don't think the chap who we bought the motor home from is going to want to move on a car that, clean would only be worth about £800 and now will need more that £1000 spending on it to put it right.  Oh well, at least nobody was hurt (except the other two cars both un-drivable) and we live to fight another day......
More visiting tomorrow (15th) lets see what damage we can do then!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

At last we've started....

Well, we finally gave up the jobs and the house and now we are tying up loose ends in readiness to start the journey.  The move to our storage unit (taken over the last few months) was successful but in order for us to get under way, we had to sell my car, our trusty trailer and organise a sleeping area for Graham's car to reside until we come back to retrieve it.  This meant a stay in a holiday cottage for a week whilst we organised things but it being the last week before the children go back to school, we had Hobson's Choice and the cottage that we ended up with unfortunately had intermittent if non existent WiFi.  Problem solved by parking up in supermarket car parks, cafes etc. but hard to do research without getting funny looks!
Cars finally all serviced and ready to go, we are all serviced and ready to go (Doctors, Dentists, Opticians, Vets etc.) but the most important thing was to buy a motorhome.  Enter Kevin the Kon Tiki.....

We found Kevin after much research but had to wait for his service, new MOT and more importantly his V5 to come back to us before we could move on with our journey.  This meant another weeks stay in a cottage which is down in Stratford upon Avon because it is nice and central and closer to where we eventually found Kevin.  This cottage is beautiful with a thatched roof in a little hamlet and it has WiFi.  We now have time to kill until we pick up Kevin and the nice man in the garage is also trying to move my car on for me - hopefully another box ticked.  Watch this space for the next episode....