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Travelogue

1st January 2015 - 20th April 2015

The first 4 months of 2015, getting organised for our trip to Canada.
Cofton Holiday Park, Devon.
Cofton Holiday Park, Devon.

Cofton Holiday Park, near Dawlish
A Very Happy New Year to You All

Friday 2nd January 2015
A quiet day Jenny’s niece Joyce and her husband Tom and Jenny’s great-niece Sharon and husband Steve left for the Midlands today, This afternoon we went to “Go Outdoors” with Jenny’s niece Brenda and husband Steve, confused, me too!

Saturday 3rd January 2015 – Monday 5th January 2015
Quiet Days.

Tuesday 6th January 2015
Another visit to Exeter today, we went on the “B” bus that stopped near Screwfix on the Trading Estate. Last January we bought a tube of sealant from them which we have never used, we thought it a good idea to see if we could get a refund, rather cheeky we know having had it almost 12 months, however they didn’t seem to mind and we came out of the store £5.99 better off! We decided to walk to the main road to re-catch a bus; passing “Go Outdoors” again we had another look at their walking shoes for me; however I didn’t see any that I liked. We arrived in Exeter city centre at lunch time and before we did any shopping we went to Burger King for a simple lunch (a Whopper, fries and a cup of tea), much better this time than last Monday, the place was almost empty today. After lunch we collected my sandal strap from Timpsons and managed to find some walking shoes in Field and Trek before a further browse along the high street to the “B” bus stop, waiting just 10 minutes for the bus back to Cofton. A great meal tonight, Jenny made a French onion soup with San Francisco style Sour Dough bread, absolutely delicious, followed by bread and butter pudding also delicious.

Wednesday 7th January 2015
Reflections, Cofton Pools.
Reflections, Cofton Pools.

A quiet day.

Thursday 8th January 2015
Back to Exeter to exchange my walking shoes, I purchased the size 8 and then after wearing them in the motorhome yesterday I decided they were a tiny bit tight and decided that I needed the 8.5. We also took back to Wilkinson’s a pack of storage bags (those that suck the air out of everything), there should have been three in the pack, there were only two! When we were in Exeter on Tuesday we went into London Camera Exchange to see if they had a “Spudz” (a cleaning cloth that clips to the camera strap), no success, we have tried so many camera shops to try and get one, we think we will have to purchase one off the internet, although returning to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales where we purchased the last one might be a better idea. Anyway, back to LCE, whilst we were there I spotted a Nikon D3000 for a sale price of £140 which I thought was a good price, to cut a long story short, we bought it, a good camera for Jenny to use and a back-up for our D300. We then used bus ticket vouchers at McDonalds for a “Big Mac” before we caught the “B” bus back to the campsite we were only away about 3 hours.

Friday 9th January 2015
I really thought we had a spare SD card in the motorhome used for extra storage for our old Garmin Satnav, that we could use for the “new” camera, we couldn’t find it. We decided to have a quick bus ride to the Curry’s store on the Exeter Retail Park to purchase one, however they didn’t have “Sandisk” the make I prefer, luckily Staples did so we bought one from there, then caught the first bus back to Cofton.

Saturday 10th January 2015
Still having our “voucher” for a free meal at Amelia’s Kitchen (for the pitch we booked that we didn’t have), we decided to have lunch there today and use it. Jenny had sirloin steak and I had rump steak, both were delicious, grilled like we ordered (medium) with chips and a salad, we only paid for a pot of tea, so their mistake cost them £35.45. Tomorrow we leave Cofton, stopping at Van Bitz at Taunton to have a “Battery Master” fitted, more about that later.

Note: I am changing the co-ordinates of our stays back to N and W, I will know then which way I am facing!!!

Cornish Park Holiday Park, Somerset.
Cornish Park Holiday Park, Somerset.

Sunday 11th January 2015
Cornish Farm Holiday Park, near Taunton, N 50.99162, W 3.09224 (45 Miles).
A second night of very windy weather, however still not as bad as our stay in Devon last year and no mention of the railway falling into the sea. We left Cofton mid-morning our first stop being the large Tesco supermarket at Exeter, nice easy parking and also on the main road to the motorway not more than a few hundred yards out of our way. Jenny having already made a “largish” list on her iPhone of groceries, it didn’t take us long to do our shopping and we were soon on the road again. We had already put the location of Cornish Farm in the Satnav on Friday, but we didn’t trust them, for some reason she was taking us miles out of our way along the A30 towards Honiton, We used instead the directions on the Vanbitz web site that I had written down and my trusty navigator did the rest. We arrived early afternoon at the camp site and it was very impressive, owned by Vanbitz whose premises are next door, great hard standing pitches and a very nice amenities building.

Monday 12th January 2015
Blackmore Camping and Caravan Club Site, Hanley Swan, near Malvern, N 52.097287, W 2.275157, (50 Miles (102 Miles)
9:00 am was our appointment time this morning, off the drive of the camp site and into the car park of Vanbitz, we were on time! David who I rang last week gave me the extra information we required and then we made ourselves comfortable in the customer lounge whilst they fitted the “Battery Master”. In very simple terms the battery master will allow the “van” battery to share the “leisure” charge when on electric power and the solar power when not, essential for the amount of time the vehicle will be in storage later this year to prevent the van battery going flat. It was fitted in just over an hour (£120) and we continued on our way to Blackmore arriving at about 1:00 pm where we managed to get our “favourite” pitch No16.

Tuesday 13th January 2015
A bus ride to Worcester today visit the “Hopmarket” wool shop and Marks and Spencer for some new underwear for both of us, no success with the wool Jenny wanted, but we both got our knickers! After a further browse around some of the other shops we had a “Big Mac” in the newly opened McCafe, don’t know why they say “coffee-house-style food”, other than the décor it still looked like a McDonald’s. We didn’t make the same mistake as last time and assume there would be a bus at every 5 minutes past the hour (the 3:05 pm goes missing), instead we caught the 2:05 pm and within thirty minutes we were back at the camp site, the friendly bus driver stopping at the bottom of the camp site drive for us (and 3 others).

Wednesday 14th January 2015 – Thursday 15th January 2015
We have now got some definitive dates for Rhiain, Ian and Kura’s holiday so I have started planning for a visit to Yellowstone National Park and Great Teton National Park. Should be fun!

Friday 16th January 2015
A little bus ride to Upton on Severn late morning for some ciabatta bread rolls for the home-made mushroom soup that Jenny is making for lunch. We just wish that “First” bus company had not changed the bus stop, bus times and direction! We walked the 500 metres to the bus stop (instead of it being right outside the entrance) and then when we arrived at Upton on Severn instead of the bus going into the village which we expected it to do, it turned up the road to Tewkesbury. Jenny pressed the bell immediately and the bus driver stopped the bus over the other side of the river bridge to allow us off. We will know next time. We walked back over swollen River Severn and into the village, stopping first at the “Map Shop”. We wanted to purchase maps of British Columbia, Alberta and Yellowstone National Park, they had exactly what we wanted, however, the cost of them was ridiculous, and all they had done was change the Canadian and American dollars price to pounds sterling, effectively more than doubling the price of them. We will buy them when we get there instead. After purchasing the bread rolls we wanted at the Co-operative store, we crossed the road to “Cooks Bakery”; I love the large brick size slices of bread pudding for 90 pence. A short walk then back through the village to the bus stop near the river bridge and talking to a lady there complaining about the bus service, not the first since they changed everything in September.

Saturday 17th January 2015
Kingsbury Water Park Camping and Caravan Club Site, Kingsbury, N 52.56799, W 01.70349, (53 Miles)
After filling with fresh water (easier at Blackmore), a drive late morning to Kingsbury, arriving at 12:45 am. We were soon organised pitched on our normal No 4 and having lunch and relaxing for the rest of the day.

Sunday 18th January 2015
A relaxed day.

Monday 19th January 2015

* * * A Very Happy Birthday to my Wonderful Wife Jenny xx * * *

No breakfast this morning, instead a brisk walk on a very cold and frosty morning over the water park to Kingsbury to have our “fasting” blood tests at Lichfield. The No116 bus was late, we weren’t, and instead we caught the earlier No 115 which was so late arriving at Kingsbury we got on it, although it should have departed 20 minutes before we even got to the bus stop! Arriving at Tamworth bus station we didn’t wait too long before the Slooooow bus to Lichfield arrived, we decided to get on that one instead of waiting for the “Xpress55”, on the assumption it would be warmer on the bus instead of waiting in the cold for the fast one and it only makes a difference of about 15 minutes on the journey time. Actually our idea didn’t really work, the bus interior was cold. We arrived at the Health Centre in plenty of time and sat reading until we were called in, unlike with Emma we decided to go in separately, Jenny the nurse just wouldn’t cope with us both being in the room together. Leaving the health centre we walked to the Causeway Café continuing our ritual of many years of having our fasting blood tests and then going to the café in Dam Street for a “Big Breakfast”. We had arranged to meet our son Michael on the way and we all walked down together to enjoy our breakfasts, me with extra tomato and Jenny with extra mushrooms, Michael doesn’t like either. After our delicious breakfast and chat, Michael left us and we continued to do the rest of our shopping, (prescriptions to Boots, trousers to dry cleaners) before arriving back at Lichfield bus station just as the last passengers were getting on the “Xpress55”, perfect timing and within 20 minutes we were back in Tamworth and waited just 10 minutes for the No116 bus back to Kingsbury and our 25 minute walk back across the water park.

Tuesday 20th January 2015 – Thursday 22nd January 2015
Quiet days, well not quite, Jenny did all the washing and some baking; I worked on the itineraries for Canada and Yellowstone!

Friday 23rd January 2015
Another bus trip today to Tamworth to look at suitcases for our trip catching the “shoppers” No16 bus which travels via Ventura Retail Park, although we decided to get off at the bus station and look at what the Tamworth Co-operative had to offer, but after the walk to Kingsbury, the ride on the bus and the further walk to the store, we wanted to make ourselves “comfortable” before we looked at them. We found the toilets on the second floor but there was a key code on the door, Jenny asked at the café as instructed on the door for the code “we couldn’t have the code without buying something”, we walked out, their loss! We looked at some we had seen a few weeks ago in the Ankerside Shopping Centre. We “think” we saw exactly what we required, however we wanted to have a look at what Marks & Spencer and Asda had to offer so we walked to Ventura Park, (Marks & Spencer were far too dear, Asda didn’t have much of a selection). It was lunchtime so we decided to have something to eat at KFC before walking back to the town, a “bucket” of chicken and fries more than satisfied us, in fact we had a “doggy” bag with fries in to take away to go with the fish we bought from Asda for to-nights tea.

Saturday 24th January 2015

* * * A Very Happy Birthday to the Best Person in the World (next to Jenny) . . . ME! * * *


Sunday 25th January 2015
A relaxed day.

Monday 26th January 2015
Another trip today over to Lichfield for our annual reviews with our doctor after our blood tests, etc. last week. With the buses punctual we were in Lichfield with plenty of time to spare before our appointments, in fact with enough time to browse around Debenhams for suitcases, waste of time they didn’t sell them. No real concerns with our reviews and we left the health centre just before lunch, perfect timing to walk once more to Dam Street and have a meal at the Causeway Café. I had the steak pie and Jenny the turkey dinner both very nice and good value, we resisted having puddings! After our delicious meal we walked back to the centre to collect some dry-cleaning, stopping on the way to talk to a couple of people we know. We then walked back up to the bus station and once again there was a bus (“Xpress55) almost ready to depart, even the bus driver (who we have seen several times on this route), commented, “You timed that just right”. When we arrived at Tamworth we decided to have another look at the suitcases at “Bag Magic” in Ankerside Shopping Centre and decided to purchase 2 large suitcases and a “carry-on”. That was fun, taking them on the bus, with no luggage carrier and then having to walk across the water park with them, surprising how “heavy” the empty suitcases were, not looking forward to when they’re full. However we will be able to wheel them, which we didn’t want to do across the rough paths across the park.

Tuesday 27th January 2015 – Thursday 29th January 2015
Quiet, relaxed days. Renewed our camera insurance an increase from £81 to £155 because we are taking the photography equipment “worldwide” this year! Tuesday evening we spent a lovely time at the Dog and Doublet with Brian my brother and his wife Linda, enjoying a variety of different meals and puddings.

Friday 30th January 2015
Requiring a few items for one of Jenny’s home-made soups we decided to walk across the water park to the Co-operative store this morning. Then we changed our minds at the last minute and decided to catch the No16 bus to the Asda Superstore at Ventura Retail Park. Time was going to be tight, too tight, we missed it by about 2 minutes, and I watched it pull away from the White Swan bus stop, just as we reached the top of the steps near the churchyard. Back to “plan A”, the Co-operative store!

Saturday 31st January 2015 – 1st February 2015.
Two more relaxed days. As we have been unable to see Michael, Sharon and Charlie (Michael and Charlie have Chicken Pox), we have decided to stay an extra 14 days at Kingsbury Water Park.

Monday 2nd February 2015
Just a quick trip into Tamworth today, catching the No16 bus at 10:50 am and getting off at Ventura Park to purchase a few items from Asda. But first of all buying some new sandals from “Sports Direct” I was going to buy the same ones as I already had (Columbia), however, I preferred the Slazenger ones and they were only £12.99, (saved a £1)! Finishing the little shopping we needed to do, we walked to the KFC and bought a “bucket” of chicken and fries, buying a big bucket and taking what we didn’t eat back for our evening meal tomorrow. There not being a return No16 at lunchtime we then walked back to the town centre and caught the No115 back to Kingsbury, a shorter walk today, the ground being dry and frozen we were able to cut across the water meadow instead of having to walk the longer way around the gravel path.

Tuesday 3rd February 2015 - Wednesday 4th February 2015
Relaxed days.

Thursday 5th February 2015
Pam and Keith a couple who “full time” at Kingsbury and whom we have become friends with over the last 3 years, kindly offered to take us shopping to Asda with them today. I decided to stay at the camp site and do some “work” on the Canada/USA itinerary’s, luckily Jenny had already done a food shopping list yesterday so was nicely organised to obtain all our requirements whilst there.

Friday 6th February 2015
Another relaxed day

Saturday 7th February 2015
A bus journey this morning to Fradley to see our son Michael, partner Sharon and Grandson Charlie, Michael and Charlie having recovered from the Chicken Pox, “big spot” and “little spot” are now better! All the bus connections were favourable and it took us a lot shorter time to reach Fradley than last time. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay long as the return buses back are more difficult and we didn’t want to walk back across Kingsbury Water Park in total darkness like we did last month. We had a lovely chat and “play” in the short time we were able to stay and whilst we were there we collected the post and our new camera lens (more on the lens at a later date).

Sunday 8th February 2015 – Tuesday 10th February 2015
Days spent organising again for our Canada/USA trip, relaxing, reading and Jenny doing our washing, plus some knitting.

Wednesday 11th February 2015
Another trip over to Lichfield today to collect our medical prescriptions from the health centre, we are “attempting” to get enough medication to post 3 months to Canada just before we leave and take 3 months with us. We have been so lucky choosing our days to walk over the water park, once more it was dry and we were able to take the short cut over the water meadow, impossible if it’s wet as it gets so muddy. We were soon in Lichfield and collected our prescriptions before walking down to the town (city) to meet Michael and Sharon for a late breakfast (yes, our second one) at the Causeway Café. We then collected a reserved book from the library and loaned another three travel guides for New England, before doing a bit more shopping and collecting a further prescription from the health centre (they had forgotten one item). Buses back to Kingsbury worked out great, we managed to catch the Xpress55 and then a No 16, we were the only ones left on the latter, so “Dave” dropped us at the Swan Inn bus stop where we normally get on and which is the start place for the No16, it saved us walking across the road and down the lane.

Thursday 12th February 2015
We decided this morning to drive over to Tamworth to buy our groceries at Asda, collect a few items from the storage unit and get the tyre pressures checked on the motorhome. We leave Sunday for Broadway and the Aston Villa v Leicester cup match starts at 12:15 pm, as we thought time would be tight that morning we thought it a better idea to get our groceries today, instead of stopping at Solihull. Everything worked out perfectly, although we had to return to Kwik-fit after driving to the unit as they were busy when we first called. We also called in at Canwell Caravans for some toilet fluid on the way to the camp site and we were still back early afternoon and able to relax for the rest of the day.

Friday 13th February 2015
Just a walk today over the water park to Kingsbury to take the medical prescription we collected later in the day at Lichfield on Wednesday. Cold, but very pleasant and we took the opportunity to walk back the longer way past the other large lakes to the camp site.

Saturday 14th February 2015
A quiet day, this afternoon we went over to have a coffee with Keith and Pam and had a nice couple of hours chat with them, the last chance to see them until we return for a couple of days in March.

Sunday 15th February 2015
Broadway Caravan Club Site, Broadway, 52.0402 N, -1.8742 W, (70 Miles).
We left just after 10:00am for the drive to Worcestershire stopping just once at the BP station near Junction 9 of the M5 to top up with LPG, just £8.13 worth since 21st November and we have used the gas heating more of late, very pleased with that, especially as it included using the oven a lot over Christmas and the New Year. We arrived at the camp site at 11:55 am and not surprisingly the camp site was
almost full. however we found a perfect pitch, facing the small nature reserve and not far from the amenities. We were so organised we were sitting down watching the match “preamble” at 12:20 pm, and what a great result too, in the quarter finals of the FA Cup, (Monday update: against WBA).
Broadway Caravan Club Site.
Broadway Caravan Club Site.



Monday 16th February 2015
A lovely sunny albeit frosty morning and an ideal day to walk into Broadway village which is about 15 minutes away from the Caravan Club site. A Cotswold village I cannot remember visiting, although I am sure I would have when a “pup”, as Mum and Dad used to like visiting this area, Jenny also has been here when much younger, it was one of her Mum’s favourite places to visit. Speaking to a man whilst washing up this morning, he told me about the walk up to “Broadway Tower” which is situated on a hill above the village; we decided to walk there. However the “Cotswold Way” path was much muddier than we thought it would be across the fields and very slippery, we arrived at a seat about half-way up the hill, rested their for about 15 minutes and decided to walk back down. We will try again a little later in the next 14 days and be better equipped with our walking poles and some refreshment, still by the time we arrived back at the camp site we had walked 4.95 mile, not a trivial distance, especially as we have not done any serious walking for some time.
Broadway Village.
Broadway Village.
Worcestershire.
Worcestershire.



Tuesday 17th February 2015
A few little jobs around the motorhome today, Jenny did all our washing, I did some cleaning inside, the outside badly needs a wash and polish a job I need to do thoroughly before we put it into storage.

Wednesday 18th February 2015
A wet day, I did more planning of our “holiday”, Jenny did some baking and we watched a plethora of quiz programmes, it keeps our minds “ticking” and we are very competitive against each other, just wish Jenny wasn’t such a “know all” on English Kings and Queens!

Thursday 19th February 2015
A short walk today to the village for some fresh bread and milk.

Friday 20th February 2015 – Sunday 22nd February 2015
Relaxed days.

Monday 23rd February 2015
We were going to Evesham today, however it is very cold and windy and we changed our minds, stayed in the comfort of the motorhome instead.

Tuesday 24th February 2015
Well not so windy today and the sun was shining we decided to go to Evesham catching the “Rural Four” bus just outside the camp site at 10:50 am. It was about a 20 minute journey to the town, it would have been much less if the route had been over the first river bridge crossing instead over the second! We alighted in the High Street and walked down a pedestrianised street towards the River Avon being rather “under-whelmed” by the amount of empty shops even in the indoor shopping precinct where we purchased our “breakfast sprinkles” from Holland and Barrett, although we did find a greeting card shop to buy birthday cards for the 8 months of birthdays (when we are away in Canada) The early morning sun had disappeared and it had gone much colder so we didn’t linger too long when we arrived at the river bridge overlooking a swollen and brown muddy Avon, instead we found a nearby Costa Coffee and enjoyed a latte and muffin there. After our refreshments we continued walking around the shopping centre and with the sun once again shining we strolled back towards the river through the old abbey ruins (very ruined, there’s hardly anything to see) and park, which I vaguely remember from my childhood visits here, before walking back to the high street to catch the 14:20 pm bus back to the camp site. We must admit of all the towns we have been to in the last few years, Evesham has been the most disappointing, we arrived back both agreeing we hadn’t enjoyed the short time we spent there.

Wednesday 25th February 2015
A much better day, dry warm and sunny, we even had the motorhome door open for a short time this morning. Before lunch we walked up to Broadway to post a couple of birthday cards and buy some bread for sandwiches from Budgen’s, couldn’t resist a pack of hot-cross buns whilst we were there!

Thursday 26th February 2015
A quiet day, spent time on POI’s for our Yellowstone trip with Rhiain, Ian and Kura in June. I also had a walk this afternoon to the other amenity building which is on the higher level of the camp site. A very unusual amenity building, it is the old Broadway Railway Goods Shed, (the old line ran at the back of the camp site), owned initially by Great Western the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway owned it and controversially it now belongs to the Caravan Club. The building houses “The Wanderer” the first caravan built in 1885 to be made purely for the pleasure of travel, very opulent it is to for its age.
Goods Shed at Bromyard Caravan Club Site.
Goods Shed at Bromyard Caravan Club Site.
The Wanderer.
The Wanderer.



Friday 27th February 2015
Having “window shopped” at Russell’s of Broadway “a restaurant with rooms” we decided to have lunch there today, not at the restaurant however, but at their Fish and Chip restaurant in the side annex. We ordered the Haddock & Chips, with mushy peas, the meal was excellent in really nice comfortable surroundings and we both thoroughly enjoyed it and at only £9.50 each, Great batter, proper chips and home-made tartar sauce and nicely served.


Saturday 28th February

* * * A Very Happy Birthday to our Son Michael * * *


Sunday 1st March 2015
Blackmore Camping and Caravan Club Site, Lat: 52.0972, Long: -2.2749, (31 Miles).
We were up early this morning (unintentionally) so we had a good start to organising ourselves to leave for Blackmore, in fact we had emptied the grey waste, filled with fresh water and we were on our way to . . . Shropshire at 10:15 am. Shropshire??? Well that’s what Jenny had in the Satnav! She had used it to see how far a camp site we are going to later in the month was and had forgotten to alter it, good job I know where Worcestershire is and ignored the instructions. When Betty (the Satnav) wanted to turn right on the A44, I insisted we turned left (well the sign said Worcester) and we duly arrived at the Tesco we normally stop at whilst in the area. Shopping list already done we didn’t take long to purchase our needs, extras were two magazines our daughter had requested to take to Canada for her, looking at the illustration of the chocolate cake on the front of the “Delicious” magazine it might be second-hand by the time she gets it. We arrived at Blackmore early . . . 4 days early, we had originally booked to arrive on Thursday as we are having the motorhome habitation service done on Friday and wanted to make sure there was space (we got “caught out” once when there was a show on at the Three Counties Showground), it wouldn’t have mattered if we had arrived today and it was full, we could have made alternative arrangements. However, there was ample room and we are on our favoured pitch No16, flat, a nice view of the Malvern Hills and close to the amenities and within a short time we were organised and having lunch and relaxing for the rest of the day.

Monday 2nd March 2015
A very windy day with some heavy showers, no plans for today so we just tidied the motorhome and Jenny did all our washing. I started downloads of apps by GyPSy “The Driving App That’s Like Having a Tour Guide in Your Car”. So impressed with the free ones, I downloaded the complete series for the Rockies, take a look, www.gypsyguide.com.

Tuesday 3rd March 2015
A relaxing day.

Wednesday 4th March 2015
A pleasant day so we decided to go to Worcester today for a look around and purchase a few items. Jenny wanted to go to the Hop Market wool shop so that was our first destination when we arrived although we didn’t manage to get what she wanted. Then a visit to various stores to get our other requirements including my National Fishing Licence for our stay at Ryton Farm at the beginning of April from the Post Office, (in W H Smith whilst Jenny queued for it I browsed the photography books). Having a voucher for a “Big Mac” from MacDonald’s on the back of our bus tickets, we “dined out” there before we caught the bus back to the camp site.

Thursday 5th March 2015
Another relaxed day, just a walk around the camp site perimeter this afternoon to “stretch” our legs.

Friday 6th March 2015
Gazavan arrived at 9:30 am to do the habitation check and fit two new heating elements to the Trauma boiler. He did the elements first, which necessitated the heating system being removed from under the front bench seat, disconnecting the electrics, gas and water in the process. It was a pretty straight forward job, the hardest part, withdrawing the elements through the heater unit, evidently the old elements can “weld” to the inside of the boiler, luckily with a bit of effort, me holding the unit while Gary levered them, they came out fairly easily. It was then a matter of Gary reassembling the heater unit and refitting it. It was the habitation service next, the gas, 12 volt and 240 volt electrics and water systems all being checked and the motorhome checked with a damp meter, there were no problems and we are now “sorted” for another 12 months, only the MOT next Wednesday to have done now.

Saturday 7th March 2015
Another trip to Worcester today for some food items, yes, we could have got them from the village shop, but we do like the city of Worcester. Jenny had had a re-think on wool she required so we made another visit to the Hop Market wool shop and this time bought the wool she required for her “coat”. We then had a browse around the shops, purchasing a few items before we made use again of the voucher on the back of the bus ticket and had lunch again at MacDonald’s.

Sunday 8th March 2015
Kingsbury Water Park Camping and Caravan Club Site, Lat: 52.5678, Long: -1.7035, (54 Miles).
Not wanting to arrive at Kingsbury too early, to allow the “Crufts” visitors time to leave, we left Blackmore at 11:30 am stopping at the Tesco at Worcester (St Peters) to purchase some groceries for the next week on the way. Surprisingly there was more room at the camp site than we anticipated and we were able to use pitch 5, we normally stay on 3 or 4 while we are here, this time we have an extra 6 metres to walk to the amenity building!

Monday 9th March 2015 - Tuesday 10th March 2015
Just a bit of tidying and cleaning and a walk along the entrance road to the canal bridge and a casual walk back along the tow path to the camp site.

Wednesday 11th March 2015
Up early this morning to be at Sutton Coldfield for 8:50 am for the MOT test to be done at Bassetts Pole Service Station, (nowhere near Bassetts Pole but that’s where Malcolm used to have his premises). Dave my old work mate from all our joint years at the Ford Dealer in Sutton Coldfield was there to arrange the check for us. Jenny left to walk to the town, her new walking shoes from “Hotter” were faulty (a lace stud had broken) and we had arranged via the Worcester store for her to collect a new pair from them, the Worcester store not having them in stock. She was then catching the train to Lichfield for an arranged blood check at the health centre. I in the meantime had a great “catch up” with Dave over a cup of coffee, whilst a MOT mechanic did the test. No problems, the motorhome passed and I left the garage a little after 9:40 am and drove back to the camp site. We were considering staying in the Peak District for the next 14 days, before returning to Kingsbury for Jenny’s routine eye consultation at Good Hope Hospital, however neither of the Camping and Caravan Club Sites we wanted to use are open (until the 26th March) so we have decided to stay at Kingsbury instead. Jenny rang at 12:23 pm to say she had arrived in Tamworth and was waiting for the No115 bus to Kingsbury to depart. I then walked over the water park to meet her, excellent timing, she had just got off the bus when I arrived at the top of the steps near Kingsbury Church and we walked back to the motorhome together.

Thursday 12th March 2015
Started one part of our major spring clean this morning, the rear roof sky-light in the bedroom, the easiest one to do as I could stand on the bed with pastry brush and vacuum nozzle in hand and clean the small intricate parts of the sliding and tilting roof mechanism. Bit cold and windy with my body stuck out the top, but at least I could feel the warmth from the motorhome heating emanating up to me and I listened to some decent music whilst I did it. Jenny in the meantime cleaned out some of the lockers including the large one above the cab.

Friday 13th March 2015
A relaxed day, the intention was to do the front roof sky-light today, however it has rained for most of it, so it will wait for another day.

Saturday 14th March 2015
Three bus rides over to Fradley today to see our son Michael, partner Sharon and grandson Charlie. The buses times worked out very well in both directions and we didn’t wait long in Tamworth, Lichfield or Fradley for the connections. We did on this occasion have to take the long route over the water-park; very heavy overnight rain prevented us taking the short-cut over the water meadow. Must mention the great result from my football team, 0-4 win against Sunderland, may the change in form continue.

Sunday 15th March 2015
At last! The 2015 F1 Grand Prix season has started and we watched the highlights at lunch time, just hope it isn’t a one manufactures season and Mercedes win all the races.

Monday 16th March 2015
Motorhome Insurance renewal today, so with the habitation check done, the MOT passed and the insurance sorted that’s less to worry about for the next twelve months. Just our Canada trip to concentrate on now, booked another motel today, the Best Western at Chilliwack (great name), £54 per night, excellent value, with a pool and hot tub, take a look. We had a walk this afternoon to Broome Pool to feed the ducks (and Canadian Geese, Coots, Black-headed Gulls and a large cob Swan). We had help . . .Kura was on Facetime on Jenny’s iPhone, she was most amused when the swan was taking bread out of “silly” granddad’s fingers and he was trying to avoid being nipped!!!

Tuesday 17th March 2015
A quiet day

Wednesday 18th March 2015
We decided today to take a camera lens to Lehmann Camera Repairs in Stoke-on-Trent for repair. The lens actually belongs my daughter I had given her mine of the same type before she went to Canada when hers became “sticky” as I had another one I could use. The intention was to get it serviced as a “spare” but I had never got it done. As we are going to Canada we thought it a good time to have it repaired and serviced before we go. The buses needed planning before we left, a 115/116 to Tamworth, Expres55/X60 or 765 to Lichfield, Lichfield to Stafford on a No 825, 101 to Stoke-on-Trent, then a 21a/b/c to the shop. It (almost) worked perfectly, the No116 left Kingsbury at 9:25 am and for the first time we have known it was on time! The downside was because it was before 9:30 am we had to pay £1.80 each to take us “over the border” into Staffordshire (from Warwickshire) where our travel passes have no time restriction. A plus however when we got to Lichfield, we didn’t realise there was a “fast” bus to Stafford, we waited a further 10 minutes for a X25 instead of using the 825 and arrived at Stafford 15 minutes sooner. We were confused when we got off at Stafford, we couldn’t find the No 101 bus stop, then found out the bus station was for “Arriva” buses and we were getting on a “First”, stupid, the 101 does stop there but there is nothing which told us, only when we spotted the Stafford council bus information board did we know we were in the right place. Bit of luck when we were approaching Stoke-on-T, I had downloaded the Stoke-o-T bus maps for the 101 and 21 (the lady I had phoned at Lehmanns told us which one we needed) and I could see where the 2 routes crossed, I asked the driver and “hey presto” he dropped us at a bus stop outside Stoke-on-T and told us to quickly “flag down” the 21 that was at the back of him. We did, the bus stopped and within 10 minutes we were standing outside the camera shop, it saved us going all the way into the Hanley bus station (Stoke on-T) and back out again. We left the camera lens at the shop (it will be posted back) and having enquired of the lady assistant where we could get a cup of tea we walked over the road to a brand new retirement complex and enjoyed a cup of tea in their café. We were very impressed with the set-up, might live there when we are 105! No problems at all on our reverse journey, we knew where all the bus stops were, we had a 45 minute wait at Stafford so we went to McDonalds (still got vouchers off our bus tickets), Millets for 2 new fleece sweaters and M & S for a pack of socks and eventually arrived back at the camp site (with pie and chips from the Atlantic fish and chip shop) at 6:15 pm. A fun day out, 10 buses altogether and our connections to each worked very well, full marks to the bus companies.

Thursday 19th March 2015 – Sunday 22nd March 2015
Four quiet and relaxed days, doing a few preliminary cleaning jobs before a big clean at Ryton Farm and spending computer time on our itinerary for New Hampshire, plus our “road trip” across Manitoba and Ontario.

Monday 23rd March 2015
Having finished with the travel books for New England we took them back to Lichfield Library today. We were going to catch the bus from Kingsbury, however Pam and Keith our friends on the site were going to their apartment at Tamworth so kindly offered to drop us off on the way. It saved us a walk across the park and we caught the Expres55 on the Lichfield road waiting just 15 minutes for it to arrive and we were soon on our way to the city. We didn’t stop, just dropped the books off, did a small amount of shopping and caught the buses back to Kingsbury. Nice and dry still so we were able to cut across the water meadow instead of taking the long path around.

Tuesday 24th March 2015
Now we’ve got a itinerary in our minds, today I concentrated on checking out hotels en-route. Very expensive some of them because it is peak season in New England for “leaf peeping” ie. visiting the area spectacular region’s fall leaf colours, the exact reason of course for us also wanting to be there.

Wednesday 25th March 2015
Taxi this morning at 8:30 to take us to Good Hope Hospital for Jenny’s review with the consultant at the eye clinic, everything OK and they don’t want to see her for another 9 months. We left at 11:30 and caught a bus for the short ride into Sutton Town centre. We both needed a cup of tea so British Home Stores was our choice, the sausage and egg bap wasn’t bad either! After a bit of window shopping plus Jenny purchasing a couple of T shirts we caught the 13:06 No 110 “Sapphire” bus to Tamworth, very posh, even got electric sockets for laptops, phones, etc and we knew exactly where to get off (Ventura Park) the television screen told us. We got off at Ventura Park to visit the large Marks and Spencer store there, Jenny wanted a new swim suite, however she didn’t find what she wanted so after collecting a few bits from Asda we caught the local No6 bus into the town. We were hoping to be in time to catch the No 115, but the traffic lights at the road works in the town centre were against us, if ours had been green instead of red we could have walked across the road and caught it, instead we were in the traffic queue when the No 115 went the opposite way. It didn’t matter we caught “Daves” bus the No 16 instead to Kingsbury and we had another pleasant walk across the water park.

Thursday 26th March 2015
A relaxed day, Jenny did the washing before we leave tomorrow for Shropshire and neither camp site we are staying as laundry facilities.

Friday 27th March 2015
Southview Caravan Park, near Church Stretton, Lat: 52.5283, Long: -02.7449, (82 Miles).
We left at 9:50 am, first stop the Tesco at Lichfield for fuel unusually we didn’t want to “fill to the brim” because it would only be sitting in the fuel tank for months, so we have hopefully judged the amount for our drive to Shropshire and our return to Worcestershire next month. I certainly guessed correctly when to fill up, the fuel warning light came on within 200 yards of Tesco! Our son Michael’s was the next stop shortly afterwards to collect the post and the camera lens which had been returned from the repair last week at Lehmann’s in Stoke-on-Trent. We didn’t stop, he’s got “man” flu so just Jenny went to the door and he pushed the bag out with a disinfected broom handle. The intention then was to go to the Tesco at Shrewsbury, (it’s impossible to park a motorhome at the Lichfield store), however, I noticed as we were driving along the M54 a “typical” Tesco steeple near the junction 6 exit. Jenny wondered where we were going when I decided to exit the motorway, she hadn’t seen the Tesco, I drove off and there was “The Wrekin Shopping Centre” and we were able to park easily and do our grocery shopping to hopefully last for the next 2 weeks. It shortened our journey by at least 6 miles on our original planned shopping stop, just can’t understand why I/we haven’t noticed the Wrekin store before. We arrived at Southview Caravan Site at lunchtime our first visit to the CS (Certificated Site) and were immediately impressed; we found an ideal pitch in the corner of the field with a picturesque view of the surrounding countryside with “Wenlock Edge” close by and “The Wrekin” in the distance. The site as a small immaculate amenity building plus a washing up area, although at 20p per minute we will use our own shower, however the pitch fee is only £12.00 per night so we are more than happy with that.
Southview Caravan Site.
Southview Caravan Site.
Wenlock Edge.
Wenlock Edge.



Saturday 28th March 2015
We have a water tap at the rear of the pitch here, so the intention was to start the washing and cleaning of the exterior of the motorhome with the water point being so convenient. However, the wind is so strong and the first task was to get up on the roof and clean that first, we have abandoned that for today. Pointless doing the rest of it until I have cleaned the roof, the dirt from the roof would just soil it. The windy weather looks to continue so we are going to be patient. One “task” I did finish today was my “Year of Codewords”, a code word for each day of the year, I started it January 2014!

Sunday 29th March 2015
Up early this morning to watch the Malaysian Grand Prix, a great race, nice to see another manufacturer being competitive. We relaxed for the day, no internet here so I can’t do anything on our itinerary or web site, having the repaired lens back I did want to try it, but once again today it is far too wet and windy.

Monday 30th March 2015
A much better weather forecast for this morning at least, so I took the opportunity to clean the roof of the motorhome. It wasn’t quite as bad as I thought although there was some algae in places, especially under the solar panel where the light (ironically) never gets. At least with the pitch having its own water supply I was able to wash the dirt off once loosened fairly easily, Jenny then washed the dirt off the side panel, whilst I dried the roof and then I washed the rest of it. It took us four hours to clean it, but we were more than pleased with the result and all that I need to do now is to wax polish the fibre glass part over the cab and clean the Perspex roof lights.
Southview Caravan Site.
Southview Caravan Site.



Tuesday 31st March 2015
Recovering from yesterday, my knees and back are killing me!!!


Shropshire
Wednesday 1st April 2015
Condover Park Caravan Site, Ryton, near Shrewsbury, Lat: 52.6335, Long: -2.7455, (11 Miles).
Not far to drive today and because the camp site only opens today for the season we were able to arrive at any time. We actually reached the site at 10:00 am and were surprised to find a motorhome already there (talking to the couple later, they had arrived about 30 minutes before us). Our favoured pitch No 6 was obviously free and we were soon organised and walking down to the farm complex. Great to see John (the owner) his wife Ann and the rest of the family again and we spent some time there chatting before walking back to the camp site. Too windy this afternoon to put the awning up as we intended, watching another man attempt to put his caravan awning was enough to dissuade us, although his wife wasn’t much help.
Ryton Farm CL.
Ryton Farm CL.



Thursday 2nd April 2015
Much calmer today and the first thing we did after breakfast was put the awning up. Bit more difficult as my knees were still very sore after kneeling on them too much on Monday, but with Jenny’s help and the aid of 2 rubber mats and a cushion we succeeded, good job we were putting the pegs into soft ground I would not have managed on a hardstanding pitch, (hence the reason we didn’t use the awning last year and in fact we are considering selling it.) We then washed the rear of the motorhome before putting wax polish on it. We then spent the rest of the day relaxing; I had a walk around all the pools, surprised just how wet the ground was the wettest (and muddiest) I have seen it in five years, so glad I wore my wellingtons.

Friday 3rd April 2015

* * * A Very Happy Birthday to our Daughter Rhiain * * *



The turn of the front of the motorhome to be cleaned this morning, it took me longer than I thought, but then I was talking to the couple in the other motorhome for about an hour! Jenny in the meantime cleaned the inside roof and lights, she would have been quicker too if she hadn’t come out to chat as well.


Saturday 4th April 2015
Yes, more cleaning today, the doors and the front sky light and Jenny doing the kitchen and bathroom then we both had a walk around the pools. The weather is gradually improving if we manage more cleaning tomorrow I may have time to do some fishing.

Sunday 5th April 2015
A relaxed day, reading, listening to music and strolling around the lakes.
Duggie's Pool, Ryton Farm CL.
Duggie's Pool, Ryton Farm CL.
Sunset at  Ryton Farm Certificated Location.
Sunset at Ryton Farm Certificated Location.



Monday 6th April 2015
Fishing today and I chose to fish the largest of the pools, Hughes, the pool which holds the largest carp in and a good mix of other species. My “usual” spot was vacant (in fact there was only two other people fishing) and although rather muddy and very wet I decided to fish there and was successful in catching seven carp the largest being 10½ pounds, between 1:00 pm and 5:45 pm.

Tuesday 7th April 2015
We decided to visit Shrewsbury this morning and walked up to the cross roads with Pat and Mel the only other couple still on the camp site who were going in the opposite direction to Church Stretton (the buses depart from Ryton at a similar time). Our No 435 bus came first at 11:15 am and within 30 minutes we were “window shopping” in Shrewsbury. After making a few purchases we walked down the High Street with the intention of having Cornish Pasties for lunch, wrong, the shop was no longer there, well the shop was, but not selling pasties, selling instead Pork Baps. We thought they would be a good alternative especially filled with stuffing, apple sauce and with a piece of crackling as well and we sat on a seat, well actually a cold flat boulder, in the square to enjoy them. After a bit more shopping (and trying on swimsuits, Jenny not me), we caught the bus back to the crossroads near Ryton and walked back to the campsite.

Wednesday 8th April.
Another section of the motorhome cleaning done this morning, both inside front doors and all of the cab, including the seats and frames. This afternoon I fished “Duggies” pool, which is at the rear of the motorhome which was originally the stock pool. Successful again, almost too successful the fishing was “too easy” plenty of carp and I was feeding them with bread right at the edge of the bank, much to the amusement of our granddaughter Kura. Who was watching on “Facetime” in Canada.

Thursday 9th April 2015
Disappointed today, my brother Brian and nephew Ian were hoping to come over for the day for Ian to do some fishing but unfortunately they were unable to come due to unforeseen circumstances. Nevertheless I did some fishing this morning and caught a nice mix of different species. After lunch we took the opportunity in the dry weather to take down the awning and before putting it away we took everything out of the “garage” cleaned it, tidied it, before relaxing for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

West Midlands
Friday 10th April 2015
Kingsbury Water Park Camping and Caravan Club Site, Kingsbury, Lat: 52.5678, Long: -1.7035 (71 Miles).
Leaving Ryton mid-morning after walking down to the farm to return the EHU key and say our good-byes to John and his daughter Kate we drove directly to Kingsbury. Plenty of room when we arrived, despite it being the end of the school holidays and we managed to get on one of the pitches we normally use. We had booked a hire car for 4:00 pm, they finally arrived at 4:55 pm, and it was a good job we hadn’t got any appointments booked! After returning from their offices in Sutton Coldfield we filled the car with some of the items we want to put in the storage unit.

Saturday 11th April 2015
More cleaning of the motorhome this morning (some of the inside locker panels) before watching the Grand Prix F1 qualifying from China. Then a drive to “Go Outdoors” this afternoon for suitcase padlocks and a pair of walking trousers, (got the trousers, didn’t like the padlocks). Then a bit of food shopping at Tesco, New Oscott, before spending the evening with my brother Brian and Sister-in-Law Linda, in Great Barr.

Sunday 12th April 2015
A lovely afternoon with Michael, Sharon and Charlie at Lichfield.

Monday 13th April 2015
A busy day driving firstly to Tamworth to attempt to find a swim suit for Jenny, (successful this time) and then to the storage unit to take most of my fishing tackle which I won’t be using for some months. Then a short drive to Lichfield to collect our medical prescriptions from the health centre before walking to the city centre to post three months of medication to Canada (the other three months we are taking with us). A visit to Fradley was next to say goodbye to Sharon and Charlie (Michael was at work) before returning the hire car back to Sutton Coldfield.

Worcestershire
Tuesday 14th April 2015
Blackmore Camping and Caravan Club Site, near Great Malvern, Lat: 52.1023, Long: -2.3064 (54 Miles).

First stop this morning was Powick about 5 miles from the Blackmore site where we are storing the motorhome for 6 months. Nick one of the managers met us and showed us the pitch which has been allocated to us, great it will have sunlight for most of the day (should it shine) so the solar panel should hopefully keep both the vehicle and habitation batteries fully charged for the duration. After paying the storage cost and collecting the security key fob we drove to Blackmore our “normal” pitch wasn’t available so we chose a pitch near the amenities, useful for getting copious amounts of hot water to finish cleaning the motorhome, the priority in the next few days.
Blackmore Camping and Caravan Club Site.
Blackmore Camping and Caravan Club Site.



Wednesday 15th April 2015
A bus ride to Worcester this morning to purchase a few items i.e. suitcase padlocks, we didn’t stay long and we caught the 13:05 pm No 373 back, 15 minutes late leaving Worcester the bus had faulty doors and they had to swop it, the bus not the doors! We then relaxed for the rest of the afternoon and evening, although I did do some wax polishing of the nearside of the motorhome whilst it was in shadow from the sun.

Thursday 16th April 2015
Just the most difficult part of the motorhome to finish cleaning today, the top of the cab, Jenny had the boring job, holding the steps firm whilst I leaned over on the top step to wash, apply wax polish and then buff off. I then went up on the roof to finish off what I couldn’t reach and clean all four skylights and the solar panel with glass cleaner. I then did my good deed for the day, Monica a lady who we have met several times at Blackmore and is on the next pitch asked if she could borrow the steps to clean her skylight on her caravan, I did it for her. After lunch we had a stroll to the post office in Hanley Swan to post a book to Charlie, we would have loved a glass of Cider at “The Swan”, it was closed for refurbishment, had to make do with lemon water from the post office/store! Last cleaning job this afternoon, clean the windows and the wheels and tyres, it seems to have taken an age to complete but at least it’s spotless before being stored.

Friday 17th April 2015
A deserved relaxed day!

Saturday 18th April 2015
Another relaxed day watched the Grand Prix F1 Practice 3 and qualifying from Bahrain and had a stroll around the camp site, stopping to chat with John and Elaine a couple we have met several times at Blackmore.

Sunday 19th April 2015
A very pleasing day, Lewis Hamilton winning the Bahrain Grand Prix and Aston Villa won the FA cup semi-final against Liverpool.

Monday 20th April 2015
A frost this morning, however the weather forecast is for “wall to wall” sunshine all day (and for the next two). We were up early . . . earlier than anticipated, I asked Jenny the time, “5 to 7” she replied, I said let me know when you want a cup of tea, a few minutes later she said she did. I got up, switched the kettle on, opened the front screen blinds and looked at the dashboard clock, 6:19 am, I said, “I’m going to slap your bare axxx” she just grinned!!! More organising our last day in the motorhome until October, We emptied the fridge of the little food we had left, Jenny has been working on menu’s for the past two weeks, so there was very little remaining. I washed all the shelves, etc., whilst Jenny cleaned and defrosted it. After a busy morning we spent the afternoon relaxing outside in the lovely warm sunshine. Tomorrow will be fun.