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4th November 2012 - 31st December 2012
Midlands, Devon and back to the Midlands
Sunday 4th November 2012
Kingsbury Camping & Caravan Club Site, Kingsbury, 52 34 09 N, 01 42 21 W, (201 Miles).
We actually departed Low Manesty earlier than we planned at 8:15 am, we had organised ourselves last night and had minimum to do this morning and didn’t bother with having breakfast. We didn’t get far before we needed to stop as every few minutes something was “bleeping” in the back, we couldn’t work out what was making the noise and then Jenny realised what it was, the smoke alarm, the battery had obviously gone flat, why it didn’t do it before we left we don’t know we had only gone about 2 miles. We found a straight piece of road and stopped, fortuitous, as there was a great view of the mountains over the lake for the first time in a few days, with a clear blue sky, Jenny sorted out the smoke alarm, I went and took some photographs. There was also a stunning view of the complete Lake District mountain range with the snow on the summits as we were driving along the M6. Our first stop was for breakfast at Killington lake Services a motorway services we have stopped at several times before when travelling down from the north as sitting in the restaurant there is a nice view over the lake and the Yorkshire Moors (also with snow on the higher ground). With the cruise control set to 56mph we had an easy journey to Junction 15 at Stoke where we stopped for fuel at a Tesco just 3 mile from the motorway, we paid £1.41 per litre at Tesco, BP at Killington Lake was £1.54 per litre and we bought 70 litres, I’ll let you do the maths! We had timed our journey to perfection, we arrived in the large lay-by near Monkey Forest at Trentham at 12:15, I only missed 5 minutes of the Grand Prix coverage and the actual start wasn’t until 1:00 pm an exciting race it was too, we were pleased we stopped en-route to watch it. We arrived at Kingsbury at 4:50 pm a little later then we intended, Jackie the manager was just going to ring us, not to see where we were, but to ask if we required a Daily Mail newspaper ordering for tomorrow, Richy was in the office and I was explaining that we had stopped to watch the Grand Prix, he panicked, he had recorded it to watch later and thought I would tell him the result, I didn’t!
Monday 5th November 2012
James arrived from Enterprise at 9:54 am to take us to the Sutton Coldfield office to collect the hire car, he hadn’t been before and lost his way, luckily Jackie one of the site managers was driving along the lane and put him right. By the time we had done the necessary paperwork it was almost time for Jenny’s appointment at Good Hope Hospital, it was a good job we left plenty of time it was as usual a nightmare to find a parking space. Good news though it looks like Jenny will have her first cataract operation in the next couple of months, just one more appointment for measurements before then. It was another long wait whilst we were there as Jenny had to see three different people, when we left at lunchtime I suggested we stop at the Dog and Doublet on the canal side near the camp site for lunch, Jenny readily agreed and we both enjoyed our meals, Cajun Chicken for me, Yorkshire Pudding filled with Beef for Jenny and Bailey’s profiterole Gateau for pudding was. . . Mmmm!
Tuesday 6th November 2012
Jenny’s niece Kathy came over this morning, she managed to find us OK, she only phoned twice, that’s good for Kathy, she normally gets lost before she reverses out of her drive! We had a lovely chat to her before it was time for my afternoon appointment with June my physiotherapist at Samuel Johnson Hospital in Lichfield. Before my appointment however, we drove into Lichfield City centre to take my spectacles into Specsavers as my new lenses are now in stock, We parked at the back of the store and I stayed in the car whilst Jenny walked round to the shop to take them in, she could have saved herself a walk if she had come out of the staff exit at the back, she didn’t think of that, nor did I. We then drove up to the Tesco supermarket and parked there and walked up to the hospital, more good news, June was very pleased with my progress, (I am sure the amount of walking we have done in the last few weeks has helped) and I haven’t got to go back again for 4-6 weeks, we are keeping the appointment date open so hopefully it will coincide with Jenny’s next one at Good Hope. The health centre was next to collect our repeat prescriptions, sad to learn that Lynda Rose one of the nurses we have known for many years had passed away. Back to Specsavers to collect my spectacles before walking to Tesco to do a “big shop” , having been in the Lake district for three weeks our larder was looking distinctly empty, finally arriving back at Kingsbury at 6:00pm.
Wednesday 7th November 2012
A lazy day!
Thursday 8th November 2012
A few places to drive to today, the first being to Canwell Caravans to purchase toilet fluid, toilet cleaner and grey waste fluid, that was a wasted journey, they had closed the showroom and shop for refurbishment (not before time). Our next stop was at our storage unit to drop off my fishing tackle, gone are the days when I would fish with ice preventing the line running through the runners of my fishing rod, fair weather fisherman these days and I will wait for next spring before fishing again. “Supercuts” was our next destination in Tamworth and wanting to exercise my leg we parked in the castle leisure grounds and walked into the town. I haven’t cut Jenny’s hair for some time now and she felt that a “cut” at a hairdressers would re-shape it, (or she doesn’t trust me anymore, but perhaps the 2 surgical stitches in her ear didn’t help, just joking), I went to Jessup’s, conveniently next door and perused the camera equipment while she had it done. After making a few purchases at Boots the Chemist including a “meal deal” comprising, a sandwich, crisps and a drink which we sat and ate in the castle car park, before driving over to Great Barr to visit my brother Brian, judging our arrival perfectly he was driving up “his” road behind us. He had to show us his train set (which I call a model railway) which he has just starting constructing in his back garden; it will be very impressive when he finishes it in 20??. Brian’s wife Linda arrived from work whilst we were there, very welcome in her own home she was too, and she brought some jam doughnuts in with her! Lichfield was next and we parked near the library, (didn’t pay, a lady gave us her parking ticket with time still on it), We returned our books to the library first, Jenny has made a note of the Bernie Ecclestone book (and page number) she was reading as she as not finished it, hopefully we will be able to borrow it again when we return before Christmas. Specsavers was next as I wanted an adjustment to my spectacles, Helena soon sorted me out, 2 minute adjustment then as the shop was quiet a half hour chat. Michael rang to say he had finished work so we drove over to Fradley to spend some time with Michael, Sharon and our Grandson Charlie. Michael and I had been talking about the amount of accidents and hold ups on the A38 near them, I had heard about them on traffic bulletins on the radio, Murphy’s Law, when we left Fradley and wanting to join the A38 South there was a massive traffic queue and as we passed over on the bridge I could see blue lights flashing in the distance. A swift decision was made and we diverted along the narrow lane I had not used for many years and I forgotten where it would lead to, luckily we could see the tall TV transmitter’s red lights at Hints, we just “aimed” for them and eventually came to Whittington and continued through Tamworth to Two Gates where we going to stop for Fish & Chips. . . but we didn’t, the shop was shut, oh well, we enjoyed our fried egg sandwiches back at the motorhome.
Friday 9th November 2012
A drive over to Jackson’s of Old Arley this afternoon to get the items we wanted yesterday from Canwell, stopping at the post office in Kingsbury for some parcel tape and customs forms to send two parcels to Canada, Jenny forgot the forms! We couldn’t get what we wanted from Jackson’s, we have always used Elsan toilet products in the motorhome and we are used to them, Jackson’s only sell Thetford and their own brands. Because we are getting low we have bought Thetford, you never know, we might prefer it. Whilst we were there we asked if there was a local post office and were directed just about a mile away to New Arley, I don’t know the difference between Old Arley and New Arley other than the villages being about 3 mile apart, they look the same age to me. Disappointed last night not having our fish & chips we drove to Kingsbury this evening and bought back Doner Kebab and chips (does that make sense)?
Saturday 10th November 2012-Sunday 11th November 2012
Monday 12th November 2012
Blackmore Camping and Caravan Club Site, Near Great Malvern, 52 05 76 N, 02 16 53 W (55 Miles).
“We better get a move on” I said at breakfast, “Why?” Jenny replied, “To get the hire car back to Enterprise before 10”, I answered, “Gosh, I had forgotten we needed to do that” Jenny replied. Nuff said! Asda at Minworth was our first stop to top the hire car up with fuel before we returned it to Sutton Coldfield and after completing the required paperwork James took us back to Kingsbury. We left the camp site mid-morning and after a stop at Tesco in Worcester for groceries for the next 6 days we continued to Blackmore, to be warmly greeted by Jo and Alan the site managers, who were surprised to see us as we hadn’t booked our stay this time. There was plenty of space on the hardstanding, the grass pitches being unusable because of the very wet ground and we pitched on pitch 16, which is level, off the main “road” and gives us a view out of the front of the Malvern Hills, plus, its quite close to the amenity building. We phoned West Country Motorhomes this afternoon, since the power went off at Low Manesty on the 2nd November we don’t think that the warm air heating on the higher setting is working (both the RCD on the electric hook up and the one in the motorhome “tripped”), they are going to look at it the 6th December which may cause us to alter some of our plans. However we are going to contact a local caravan engineer that has been recommended to us tomorrow.
Tuesday 13th November 2012
A relaxed day. “Gaza” the caravan engineer is coming to see us tomorrow; hopefully he can sort the heating problem out.
Wednesday 14th November 2012
Gaza came at lunchtime and the heating problem is a bit of a puzzle, we had thought that the higher heat element had broken, however Gaza seems to think that the lower heat element would have failed first but that isn’t the case, he has suggested it may be the thermostat, but without trying one we will not know, he has suggested we remove it (an easy task) and situate it higher up the motorhome before we purchase a new one or expensive elements. A great guy, who was reluctant to take any money off us for his time although he was with us for at least 45 minutes, we did however give him money for fuel.
Thursday 15th November 2012
When we were in Lichfield last week Jenny was unable to find the colour Aran wool she wanted for a jumper she wants to knit so late morning we caught the bus to Worcester. The wool shop in the Hop Market was our destination, a wool shop we had been to before and luckily they had the colour she wanted. We also had delicious baked potatoes with salad at the Quinn’s Coffee House for lunch, I had the coleslaw filling and Jenny cottage cheese and pineapple and with two pots of tea the bill came to £14.80, which considering what we had was good value for money. After purchasing a few more items at various shops we made our way back to the bus station to catch the 14:50 pm back to the camp site, the bus driver was rather over enthusiastic with his right foot as we approached the site entrance, he overshot the bus stop and there wasn’t just us alighting there were another 3 couples wanting to get off, silly sod!
Friday 16th November 2012
Tried moving the heating thermostat this morning, it didn’t work we will have to get West Country Motorhomes to sort it out, we won’t go cold we can use the little fan heater that we have for the awning if necessary and the motorhome is usually warm enough on the lower heat setting anyway, unless the outside temperature goes very cold. We have altered our plans slightly, instead of spending a few days travelling to Brixham we are travelling directly there on Sunday, before returning to WCM in Somerset on the 6th December.
Saturday 17th November 2012
I have always wanted to visit “The Map shop” in Upton-on-Severn but for whatever reason despite going to the village several times I never have. Wanting a map/atlas of Canada we decided this morning to go there and post Christmas cards to Canada at the same time. Jenny went to reception to get the timetable while I washed the breakfast dishes, we already had the Monday to Friday timetable but thought the Saturday one was different, it wasn’t for the time we were going. Very handy the bus stop in Upton, its right opposite the Post Office so that was our first “port of call”, we came out of the Post Office and Jenny said “Do you want, I said “Shall we” both at exactly the same time. We didn’t need to finish. . . we just crossed the road again to purchase four mixed bread rolls at the Co-operative supermarket, after 43 years of marriage we just read each others minds! We had a good peruse of the maps in the Map Shop, they had every conceivable map under the sun (literally they have astro maps as well), plus the complete range of Lonely Planet’s travel books, what they didn’t have was a Canadian road atlas unless we bought one which included the USA and Mexico. We just had time to visit the bakery before the bus back to Blackmore, I chose a fresh cream apple turnover and Jenny a chocolate flapjack, then when we were leaving the shop Jenny pointed out that they also sold lardy cake, my favourite and I hadn’t noticed, she wouldn’t let me return my cake for an exchange! We stood waiting at the bus stop when Jenny recognised a couple from the campsite, she was helping them this morning when they were emptying the toilet canister, explaining what fluids they would need and where to purchase them from, evidently they had bought their motorhome this weekend and it was the first time they had used it, the guy they bought the motorhome off, HAD’NT emptied the toilet before selling it!!! They had been to “Caravan Stuffs 4U” and done some shopping in Upton, they kindly offered to take us back to the campsite, an offer we accepted and we were back at the camp site within 10 minutes. Fish and Chips tonight from “Henry Avery” the mobile “chippy”, they were awful, the batter was very greasy, the fish watery and the chips tasteless, the last time we will buy them here!
Sunday 18th November 2012
Hillhead Caravan Club Site, Brixham, 50 22 23 N, 03 32 53 W, (160 Miles).
We left Blackmore at 10:10 am for the drive to Devon, not Somerset that I put on the front page, Brixham not having moved counties to my knowledge. We had an easy run as far as our first stop at Exeter, the cruise control was switched on and we did a constant 56 mph for most of the way, only needing to reduce our speed through the road works at Bristol. The Tesco superstore at Exeter is only about a mile from Junction 30 of the M5 so it was the ideal place to purchase groceries for our stay at Hillhead and with Jenny already having “fed” our shopping list into the Tesco app on her iPhone for the Exeter store we soon finished our shop. We also topped up with diesel, having 10 pence per litre voucher for our purchase of “dairy products” a saving of £4.80 on the cost. We arrived at Hillhead at 13:57 pm and because the site is quiet at present we were able to walk around to choose a pitch, No 24 was great, shielded on both sides by neatly trimmed spruce hedges and a natural hedge at the rear, with a stunning view of the sea at the front and not too far from the amenities building. The site also has a restaurant and bar but they only open Friday and Saturday at this time of the year, it even boasts an outside heated swimming pool which is open from May until September. Brixham is less than 2 mile away, we will probably have a walk to the town while we are here and come back (uphill) on the bus, the bus stop is just outside the camp site entrance.
Monday 19th November 2012
Well the wonderful view to the sea didn’t last long, late last night the sky was clear and we could see a lighthouse flashing, and the twinkling of fishing boat lights in the bay. This morning there was a glimmer of sun, then the weather went downhill, by 10:00 am the wind had risen and it started to rain and our view disappeared in the gloom. Jenny was busy at the laundry room this morning catching up with the our washing, in the mean time I “studied” “The Photographer's Ephemeris” which is a program I have downloaded to the laptop to assist the planning of my outdoor photography, typically the times of sunrise/sunset or twilight, or alternatively when the moon is in a particular place in a particular phase. I have experimented with it in the past, by putting a “marker” on our exact location i.e. our pitch, I can then find out the exact position in which the sunset /sunrise is, plus the time, it’s a fantastic “tool” and its free for the laptop. (Note: Brian in NZ, you’ve got to try it). We spent the afternoon relaxing, reading and listening to music, Jenny did some knitting.
Tuesday 20th November 2012
Wow, that was a wild night and we were woken several times with the rain thundering on the roof and the wind rocking the van. The terrible weather lasted until lunchtime and I then took the opportunity while the motorhome was wet to wash it down, I think it is the dirtiest that it has been for a long time due to the wet weather when we drove to Great Malvern from Kingsbury and the amount of spray on the motorway. We had intended for “Pablo” a valeter that is well recommended by people at Blackmore to valet the outside for us as I am unable to clean the roof at present, but he was unavailable at the time. Hopefully the weather will improve tomorrow and we will be able to explore the area, although we are quite happy to relax in the motorhome.
Wednesday 21st November 2012
I went to the information room this morning and brought back the timetable for the bus to Brixham and we were pleasantly surprised to find the “town bus” runs every 30 minutes we decided to get the 12:06 pm. We certainly didn’t have far to walk and it came 3 minutes early, well actually it didn’t. . . I think the driver of the No 120 bus was rather annoyed that I had “flagged” him down and was even more annoyed when he found out that we didn’t want to go to Paignton, and our bus (the No 24) arrived 3 minutes later, I don’t think they should have buses arriving so close to one another! Just as well the first bus a “double-decker” didn’t go to Brixham it would never have got down to the town (at the road junction there was a sign “heavy vehicles” prohibited), hats off to our driver negotiating the narrow streets and parked vehicles. Arriving at Brixham we walked to the harbour side and strolled along the quay in the surprisingly warm sunshine between the fishing port and marina, sitting for a short time watching the fishermen working on their boats and nets. It was lunchtime and we could not be in such an important fishing industry town without eating fish and chips and we were spoilt for choice with the amount of cafés and restaurants that had Brixham cod on the menu, in the end we chose “Tides Restaurant” and we were not disappointed. Suitably nourished we made our way to Fore Street the pedestrian shopping centre and browsed the shops before catching the bus back to Hillhead.
Thursday 22nd November 2012
A very wet and miserable day and for most of the day we couldn’t see the sea from our pitch. In between the heavy showers and fierce wind I did manage to fill a bucket with car shampoo and water and use the brush on the motorhome to remove move of the road dirt that has accumulated over the past couple of weeks, unfortunately I am still unable to climb on the roof to wash that. This afternoon didn’t go well, firstly I wanted to print some of our photos, I didn’t realise one of the black ink tanks was almost empty so I had to abandon that. More worryingly, I was attempting to load the photographs that I took at Brixham onto the laptop and the camera was “dead”, yesterday when I was walking back to the motorhome I fell over (damned knee “gave way”), I was perfectly OK, however the camera was in our rucksack on my shoulder and it obviously must have taken a knock. I will now have to take it for repair when we return to the Midlands; luckily we do have camera insurance.
Friday 23rd November 2012
Last F1 Grand Prix of the season from San Paulo in Brazil this weekend so we couldn’t possible miss practice 1 & 2 today, needing milk and bread as soon as first practice had finished this morning we caught the No 24 bus to Brixham. We alighted the bus before the town centre this time as Jenny had seen a Canon dealer and we were hoping that we may be able to get a set of ink cartridges for the printer, however it was only a camera shop (albeit a very good one) and they didn’t sell them, so we continued to the Tesco Express in the shopping centre for our groceries. We also wanted a Ordnance Survey map of the area as hopefully when the weather improves we want to do some walking around the coast near the campsite, but although there are plenty of cafés and restaurants in the town there is a sad lack of newsagents, although we did eventually find a bookshop selling them on the “The Quay”. We then visited Fullers the Cornish pasty shop, we had bought 2 Cornish Pasties (and a piece of bread pudding for me) for tea tonight earlier and the staff were so nice, cheerful and pleasant we returned for a coffee, staying until it was time for the bus back to the campsite and arriving back only having missed 25 minutes of practice 2.
Saturday 24th November 2012-Sunday 25th November 2012
Battened down the hatches and watched the Grand Prix, read and listened to music, while the motorhome shook with the high wind and the rain pounded on the roof!
Monday 26th November 2012
At last the winds have eased and the rain stopped it has certainly been a rough couple of days and we have hardly ventured out of the motorhome. Requiring a few groceries we decided that today we would go to Dartmouth a town we have not visited for many years and we waited for the No 24 bus outside the camp site entrance, what bus came first? The 120! Not that it mattered this time as this one was going to Kingswear, the small village on the East bank of the tidal River Dart. I had swopped the lens from the “dud” Nikon D300 onto the D70s and while I was at the campsite I was getting “strange” error messages on the camera, it wasn’t until we had arrived at Kingswear and I was taking a photo of Dartmouth and the river that I found that the bayonet connection was loose and investigating further we noticed a broken part on the lenses, another result of my fall on Tuesday. Photography abandoned, we made our way to the ferry terminal for our “voyage” across the river to Dartmouth and we had a choice of ferries, the passenger ferry at £1.50 each or the car ferry which accepts pedestrians at £1.10, we chose the cheapest option, a rather crude affair, basically a little tug boat with a raft at the side, which carried about 8 vehicles, Jenny and an infinite number of other passengers, it reminded me of the Jardine River ferry in upper Queensland, although the skipper wasn’t a twenty stone Aborigine.
Arriving at Dartmouth we walked along the embankment as far as the railway station (now a restaurant), which is strange as no railway has ever run to Dartmouth, evidently the railway line was originally planned to run to Dartmouth across a bridge and into the town. Opposition from local seamen and merchants saw the route diverted to Kingswear on the opposite side of the river, but this occurred after the station had been built, cart before the horse springs to mind! We purchased some of our requirements from Boots, including a new electric toothbrush (can’t blame that on my fall), before wandering the many quaint streets, if we needed a delicatessen then we wouldn’t have been disappointed there were so many of them, in fact we stopped at one for a light lunch, a bowl of vegetable soup with a basket of bread, it was delicious, the offered free samples of chocolate-coated nuts weren’t bad either. After our lunch we explored once more the streets down to the ferry, stopping at the small Co-operative supermarket for bread and milk on the way before embarking on the ferry across the river for the walk to the bus terminus called for some reason the Kingswear Banjo and our bus back up the hill to Hillhead.
Tuesday 27th November 2012
A relaxed day.
Wednesday 28th November 2012
We decided yesterday that we would need to purchase a camera lens to “carry us over” until I got the broken one repaired, Murphy’s Law that I have “lent” my spare lens to Rhiain as the one she uses needs repairing and I have not yet taken it to the repairer in Weston-super-Mare, which was the intention when we passed there on the 18th November. I had looked on the web yesterday at Mifsuds the camera shop in Brixham that we visited last Friday and noticed they sold second-hand lenses and I was particularly interested in a Nikon prime 35mm lens at £149 for sale. We caught the 12:06 No 24 and alighted almost outside the shop and to cut a long story short, purchased the exact same lens as I already had the Nikon 18-70mm zoom lens, deciding that it would be more versatile than purchasing a prime lens, at least I will have a spare when I get both lenses repaired. Leaving the camera shop, which must be one of the best in the country we walked down to the quay to take some photographs, similar to what I took last week with the other camera which at present I can’t download off the memory card as the card is formatted differently to the D70s.
We also wanted some milk, etc., so we visited the small Tesco Express before returning to the campsite, on the excellent bus service.
Thursday 29th November 2012
I got excited this morning when I was walking back from a shower, I thought I saw a Wren in the bushes close to the motorhome and then “it” sat on the fence, it was a Goldcrest (UK’s smallest bird) and other than in our garden when we lived in Lichfield only the second time I have seen one and I had a great view of it, pity I hadn’t the camera with me, but then I wouldn’t normally take a camera with me to the shower’s! Haircut for me today and it was warm enough to sit outside to be operated on, it didn’t take long, I don’t like my hair too short in the winter, but I do like it tidy. Jenny also did the laundry today, whilst I had a walk around the campsite, I didn’t realise how big it is, with only about 10 units on the site it looked very spacious, it's certainly a nice site, however I think it would be too busy for us during the summer. We have now decided to cancel our visit to West Country Motor Homes to have the heating system looked at, we don’t really use the high setting that much and we have the fan heater if required and when it gets really cold we can always use the gas. We will get it fixed when we have the habitation and vehicle service in March, in the meantime we will now stop here an extra few days and possibly leave Sunday 9th December, which is the maximum 21 days that we are allowed to stay.
Friday 30th November 2012
We decided that because the weather forecast for today is good (dry) we would walk to Kingswear and return on the bus. The walk right from the start was much more difficult than we both thought, having left the campsite we took the signposted bridal way towards Man Sands and because of the heavy rain last week all the fallen leaves had been swept to the edges of the path leaving a steep downhill slippery narrow channel in the centre, so it took us a long time to reach the tarmac lane at the bottom near National Trust car park at Woodhuish Farm. The (what we thought) difficult stretch over, we continued along the lane to the link path to the “South West Coast Path, however sighting the very steep hill we would have to climb up we opted to continue along the lane and turn towards the coast path further along, passing and photographing on the headland at Froward Point the 25 metre hollow stone day marker tower (a listed building) built in 1864 as an aid to shipping.
We finally reached the cliff top at the Brownstone Battery a complex built in 1942 as a defence against German naval attack and a part of which is used by the National Coastwatch a voluntary organisation keeping visual watches along the UK coastline, we stopped for a nice long chat there with one of the volunteers, he also informed us that to reach Kingswear along the coastal path entailed a descent down 98 steps and a climb up 99 steps! Knowing that my leg at present doesn’t “do” stairs/steps we abandoned our plan to walk along the coastal path and instead decided to return to the lane and take the public footpath, big mistake! We went through the gate at the start of the public footpath with a wall on one side and a hedge on the other, what we didn’t realise was that with the amount of rain the path was a stream and with the amount of algae which covered the Dartmouth slate the path looks as though it is a stream for most of the year! We had to be extremely careful as we walked down the steep path to miss the deeper parts of the torrent and avoid falling, however we reached the bottom safely and arrived at the private road (pedestrian’s allowed), we had a great view here of the Dart estuary, Mill Bay Cove (strange name surely it should be either, not both) and Kingswear Castle.
Note: Added 2nd December, I have since found out that the “castle” was actually a disused limekiln converted into a watermill and boathouse in the form of a sham castle. The castle is a bit further around the bay and could not be seen from where I took the photograph, still a nice photograph though (above). Finally we reached Kingswear and as we walked past the ferry jetty, we were “honked” and waved at, who do we know down here? It was the Coastwatch officer in his car; I bet he wondered why it had taken us so long to arrive there. Even if the walk had been easier we still had no intention of walking back from Kingswear, it’s all up hill and we caught the bus back to Hillhead and back to the motorhome for a well-deserved cup of tea and a sausage sandwich!!!
Saturday 1st December 2012
After our exertions of yesterday we had a lazy day, nevertheless we did need some groceries so we caught the bus to Brixham. It was mid-morning so we stopped at Tiffany’s (no, not for breakfast) for a cup of coffee, couldn’t resist the Jamaican Lime Cheesecake Crumble though, but I did share with Jenny, I ate the cheesecake and Jenny the crumble! We then went to Fullers again for Cornish pasties for our tea; just as well I had the cheesecake earlier they had sold out of the delicious homemade bread pudding they were selling last week. A quick stop at the Tesco express and we were on our way back to Hillhead to spend the rest of the day . . . doing nothing.
Sunday 2nd December 2012
I was rewarded this morning when I got up before 8:00 am with a “half” decent sunrise over the sea, so despite it being rather cold I spent some time at the bottom of the campsite taking a number of photographs, before crawling back into a nice warm bed, with my human water bottle to drink my morning “cuppa”. We have decided to stay until next Sunday before driving back towards the Midlands so our first job this morning was to book for the next 7 days, we shall probably stop at Blackmore again before continuing to Kingsbury where we are spending Christmas and the New Year. I spent some of the day editing photographs, Jenny baked, knitted and read, I also downloaded a “app” to Jenny’s iPhone “Ship Finder” shows the shipping movements all over the world, it’s great to look out to the channel and spot a ship and know what type it is, where it belongs and its destination, etc., I have just finished a book on Somali pirates and it mentioned the information that can be obtained from the internet to help them in there illegal activities, I can believe it.
Monday 3rd December 2012
For a change today instead of going to Brixham for groceries and needing fresh fruit and vegetables we decided to go to Paignton, which we know has a larger Tesco. This time I did “flag down” the correct bus and like a pair of school kids we went upstairs on the double-decker bus, then wished we hadn’t as there was a little friendly Staffordshire bull terrier on the top deck with wind! Arriving at Paignton bus station we walked along the road towards the sea-front, it hasn’t changed mostly amusement arcades and tacky souvenir and gift shops, disappointed though that the “Igloo” wasn’t there any more, the ice-cream parlour shaped like an igloo, that was a stop off almost every day when my brother and I came here with Mum and Dad when we were in short trousers. The nice sea front grassed area that I remember we “picnicked” on had also changed it was now dominated by a “mini” children’s theme park. After a short walk along the esplanade we returned to the pedestrianised town centre and did our necessary shopping before walking back to the bus station and as the bus to Brixham was almost ready to depart we decided to go there for lunch at the Tide restaurant (great fish & chips) instead of the catching the direct bus back to Hillhead. We timed our departure back from Brixham to perfection, we finished lunch, walked back to the bus stop and the lady bus driver had just started the engine and within 15 minutes we were back at the motorhome. Timing again, I had just opened the motorhome door and it started to rain heavy another few minutes and we would have got extremely wet. We soon had the kettle on and a nice cup of tea in hand, plus a massive slab of bread-pudding for me and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Tuesday 4th December 2012
Well we were going out today, but, having got up late then the weather changing to very heavy showers we decided to stay in the motorhome and just relax for the day. I am sure that some readers may wonder what we do to relax in such a small space, Jenny knits, reads, plays Sudoku on the DS, Zuma or Bejewelled on the laptop, listens to either Radio 2, Smooth or Magic on the radio or watches the occasional television (usually a “who done it”) in the afternoon. I relax doing similar things, obviously I don’t knit and won’t watch “who done it’s”, but I spend time on the laptop editing photographs, keeping “up to date” with several Motorhome Forums we subscribe to and of course update our web site.
Wednesday 5th December 2012
A pleasant if not cold morning and Torquay was our choice of destination today and we decided to change buses at Paignton rather than Brixham. We didn’t go all the way into the town centre at Torquay but alighted along the esplanade and walked along the front (and sand) to the harbour and marina to have a look around.
We couldn’t decide what we wanted for lunch, however, a KFC was the first place along the pedestrianised High Street we spotted so that was what we opted for and enjoyed 3 pieces of chicken each a “bag” of fries and a cup of tea. One thing we wanted to purchase whilst we were here was Canon ink cartridges and WH Smith had them, cost us a fortune, but at least on some of them we got “second one half price” We then went into Waterstones to buy a map of Canada , only we didn’t. . . we had walked into HMV, why BOTH of us thought we were in Waterstones we don’t know, we could only think because there was a Costa coffee bar in there and the Waterstones in various towns we have been in have “Costas” that’s what it was, so we didn’t get our map and didn’t buy a CD either! After a browse around more shops we caught the bus back from the shopping centre, this time we went on the No 12 which goes directly to Brixham, which meant that we had an easier link for the Kingswear bus to Hillhead and we only had to wait 15 minutes for one to arrive.
Thursday 6th December 2012
Another nice sunrise this morning, I only put my “flip flops” on my feet they were freezing when I arrived back.
Concentrated today on putting some of our many photographs into print, we had it organised, I chose the photo, Jenny fed the printer, took the photo’s out laid them out to dry before putting them into the punched pockets, after we had completed them I then put them into the order I wanted them in which is the same order as on the photo album on the laptop, sounds easy but it was actually quite tiring.
Friday 7th December 2012
A relaxed day, we did catch the bus into Brixham for a quick visit to Tesco for Bread & Milk we were back within an hour.
Saturday 8th December 2012
I had a choice today, either help Jenny clean the motorhome or go for a walk, I soon found my walking boots, I have wanted to visit Mansands & Berry Head near Brixham so they were my destinations. I started by following the green lane we had so much difficulty walking down last week because it was so wet and reaching the car park near Woodhuish Farm I continued to Mansands, stopping at the new bird hide near the beach to observe any interesting birds (there wasn’t). Reaching Mansands I very carefully avoided getting my feet wet crossing the stream which fed into the sea and walked along the beach taking a few photographs on the way.
Looking at the contour lines on the ordnance survey map I knew that the next part towards Southdown Beach was going to be the hardest climb and the map didn’t lie and I had several stops on the way up, including a stop to take my coat, hat and “buff” off as despite the cold day I was getting too hot. The coastal path finally leveled (sort of) as I made my way towards Sharkham Point where I found a seat to rest on in the afternoon sun and have a chat to Jenny on the mobile. Skirting St Mary’s Bay I eventually reached the Berry Head National Nature Reserve and made my way to the point where the lighthouse is. The lighthouse is rather disappointing as it is only five metres tall, but 58 metres above mean sea level.and is reputedly the shortest lighthouse in Great Britain. The sun was just disappearing over the hills as I arrived so I did manage to get some photos of the late afternoon colours before the light vanished.
Wanting to reach Brixham (or at least close to) before dark I re-traced my steps through the reserve, noting on my way a building and some sort of ventilation structure with a notice “Cold War Bunker”, are we still needing them? Walking through a wood onto a tarmac road at Shoatstone Point, I made my way back to the town centre, just in time to catch the 17:06 bus back to the campsite and a nice cup of tea, knackered, aching, but happy, especially with the home-made Steak pie that was ready for tea.
Sunday 9th December 2012
Blackmore Camping and Caravan Club site, Near Great Malvern, 52 05 76 N, 02 16 53 W (159 Miles).
An enjoyable stay at Hillhead and repeating myself again another camp site we will visit again, although it would only be in the low seasons, it would be too busy at other times for the type of camp site we like. Our first and only stop today was at the Tesco just a short distance from Junction 30 on the M5, to purchase enough food for the next few days at Blackmore, we did buy our first Christmas drink, a bottle of Mateus Rose wine, big mistake we drank it this evening! We arrived at the camp site 2:45 pm after a diversion through Tewkesbury town centre as the M50 was closed for road works, actually it seemed quicker and we did 3 mile in total less. As usual we spent the rest of the day relaxing something we will do now for the rest of our stay here, certainly with the forecasted weather being for extreme cold in the next few days our intention is to just remain in the motorhome.
Monday 10th December 2012-Wednesday 12th December 2012
Thursday 13th December 2012
Gazavan arrived this morning with our elements for the Truma heating system, however the job of fitting them is difficult and requires the heating unit to be removed and the elements fitted whilst the unit is on a bench. Gaz has therefore recommended that we have them fitted by a workshop near Stafford, so we will have to arrange that with them in the near future. We spent the wet and cold day in the motorhome, hopefully the weather may be better tomorrow.
Friday 14th December 2012
We were hoping that we would have a clear night to watch the Geminid meteor shower which reaches its peak early this morning, unfortunately there was far too much cloud cover, we will have to try again tomorrow. Well at least it’s warmer but the rain is more persistent this morning and we need some bread and milk, looks like we will have to get wet. We decided to go to Worcester and we were at the bus stop before the timed arrival at 12:11 pm, pity it didn’t arrive until 10 minutes later and the large stone wall outside the camp site wasn’t much protection, we both were rather damp before the bus arrived. Jenny also wanted some wool so the little shop in the Hopmarket was our first destination and I, yes I, completely lost my sense of direction and we had to retrace our steps along Foregate Street, good job Jenny was with me I could have ended up in Timbuctoo, still if she wasn’t then we would not have been going to the wool shop anyway. When we arrived at the shop it was closed, however, the lady had put a notice on the door “back in 3 minutes”, I timed her, she was 7 seconds late. After a bit of Christmas shopping the intention was to have lunch at Quinns the restaurant near the bus station, but after a quick shop at Iceland (cheapest Warburtons “Toastie” and milk) a bus was almost due so we decided “skip” lunch and catch the bus back to Blackmore and have a sandwich when we arrived back.
Saturday 15th December 2012
Success! I woke up just before 6:00 am and looking through the roof skylight I could see stars. I made myself comfortable with my pillows and the duvet (until Jenny moaned and I had to give her half back), and within 20 minutes I saw 4 meteors shooting across the sky, I got that excited I woke Jenny up and she also watched for a time and also managed to see a couple, before the clouds once again obstructed the view. I had another success this morning when I went for a walk along the dog path through the woods which surround 2 sides of the camp site. I took my binoculars with me and spotted a Treecreeper and a pair of Nuthatch’s, ironically while the woods were rather quiet I saw them both at the nearest point to our motorhome.
Sunday 16th December 2012
A lazy day.
Monday 17th December 2012
Up a bit earlier this morning as we need to drive the motorhome to the Motorhome service point as Pablo of PCR Valeting was arriving at 9:00 am to valet it. I went to reception for the newspaper at nine and Pablo had just arrived to “book in” so my timing was excellent and he was ready by the time I had walked back and driven around to the area where he could get both water and access to power. A great job of it he did to, he spent about 2½ hours on it, removed all the accumulated algae and dirt off the roof and charged £40 which we were very happy with. Chose the right day for having it done as well, as it stayed dry during the morning.
Tuesday 18th December 2012
At least when we were waiting for the bus to Worcester this morning we didn’t get wet, it was still a few minutes late though! We only wanted Bread, Milk and a TV magazine, “What’s on TV” must be the most popular magazine they had run out of the Christmas edition at WH Smith a little newsagent nearby had one though and only charged us 80p when it clearly said 90p on the front. We also wanted to drop a prescription into Boots the chemist, we walked in . . . and the lights went out, we waited for a short time and then walked out . . . and the lights came on again, strange. We went back in again and alarms went off, we ignored them and went to the prescriptions counter at the back of the store then . . . we were told we must evacuate, we went out of the doors into the precinct at the back of the store, but customers were still going in. We walked towards the “Game” store the roller shutter started to go down, was it just us that wasn’t wanted? We gave up in the precinct and went to Iceland near the bus station and spent £2 on bread and milk and as we had plenty of time today before a bus back to the camp site we enjoyed Baked potatoes in Quinns restaurant at the top of the escalator at the bus station, except the escalator wasn’t working and we had to use the stairs!!! Managed to make arrangements this morning to have the electric elements fitted although it won’t be until the 18th January 2013, in the meantime we will continue to use the fan heater and supplement it with a blast of gas heating if it should get very cold. We also had a visitor today, see above!
Wednesday 19th December 2012
A relaxed day, although we have had a good clean of the inside of the motorhome, Jenny did the woodwork, plastic trimmings and upholstery and I cleaned the windows. Tomorrow is our move to Kingsbury for Christmas, If you are near Kingsbury Water Park come and have a cup of tea with us.
Thursday 20th December 2012
Kingsbury Water Park Camping & Caravan club Site, Kingsbury, 52 34 09 N, 01 42 21 W, (56 Miles).
Decided to fill up with fresh water at Blackmore before leaving as it is easier than at Kingsbury, especially as it has stopped raining for a time and we believe that the extra weight over the short distance will have little consequence to the fuel usage. Perfect timing our arrival at Kingsbury at just after 12:00 pm and Enterprise rang to say they were on their way to collect us while we were booking in. We just had time to pitch and get ourselves organised before James arrived to take us to the depot at Sutton Coldfield. We had our afternoon planned, we drove over to Lichfield to take the “deceased” camera and lens in for repair at Jessup’s, walked to “The Damn Fine Café for a pork lunch, that was a waste of time, they had run out of the pork, the second time in succession we had visited and there was no Pork (it was only 2:15 pm), at least this time we didn’t sit down, I asked as we went in. We decided instead to go to Café Nero for a Latte and Panini, which for some reason we didn’t really enjoy, having been visiting there since it first opened in 2006 we do think the standards have slipped on our recent visits. Specsavers was our next destination, Jenny wanted the arms of her older (but less worn) of her spectacles changed to the ones she is using at the moment (we have now a date of the 24th January for her next appointment at Good Hope Hospital for optical measurements prior to her cataract operation), we had a nice chat to Helena while we waited for them to be done. Then to Tesco for our Christmas shopping, I walked over to the Health Centre for our prescriptions whilst Jenny started it, suffice to say we were glad when we finished it and drove back to Kingsbury to enjoy a “Tesco Chinese Meal for two” which at £7.45 are great value for money.
Friday 21st December 2012
Asda was our first destination this morning for some final bits of Christmas shopping before driving to our storage unit to collect a few items we think we may need in the next couple of months, including the fan heater which we normally use when we have the awning erected, this time we think it may be better used in the motorhome until we have the new heating elements fitted. Canwell Caravans was the final destination for Elsan Toilet Fluid which we seem to be only able to purchase there (they were closed for refurbishment on our last visit and had to have Thetford's), disturbed there Works Christmas party, but they didn’t mind, didn’t offer us a mince pie and glass of sherry though despite us “hinting”!
Saturday 22nd December 2012
A drive over to Lichfield this morning to take Christmas presents to Michael, Sharon and Charlie; we stopped at McDonalds on the way back at Bassetts Pole for a “Christmas Winter Warmer”, very tasty it was too!
Sunday 23rd December 2012
A preparation, baking and cooking day for Jenny, washing up for me! We had a pleasant evening in the campsite reception eating mince pies and drinking mulled wine and chatting to Jackie and Richie the site managers and Jackie and Graham their assistants and some of the other people who are staying for Christmas. Graham was showing us some photos of a Muntjac deer (Barking Deer) that was wandering around the campsite in the last few days, said to be on the most wanted list of foreign invaders wreaking havoc on our country side, devouring our native woodland plants at a terrifying rate, I must get the camera at the ready.
Monday 24th December 2012
We certainly didn’t want to be in the mayhem of Christmas shoppers today, we just went to the small Co-operative in Kingsbury village for milk, bread rolls and a newspaper. Can’t believe how much rain we have had in the last few days, several of the hard standing pitches are under water and at present unusable, we are pleased we came early and had the pick of pitches and the one we prefer (No 3) only as standing water on the back edge of it that won’t affect us.
Tuesday 25th December 2012
26th December 2012
A very pleasant lunch and afternoon at Michael and Sharon’s and a play with our Grandsons Charlie’s Christmas presents, his bike was too small for me to ride on it though!
Thursday 27th December 2012
A lazy day!
Friday 28th December 2012
A sort out this morning of the photography files on the laptop, every so often I need to “re-visit” them and delete and change where they “sit” in the photo file, somehow I have also “lost” the photographs taken in the last 2 years in Herefordshire, luckily the are backed up on an external drive, I will have to look at a later date. Mid-afternoon we drove over to Lichfield for my doctor’s appointment, which resulted in the need for an x-ray appointment on my knees, I think they need a “squib” of WD40. We then went to Great Barr for tea with my brother Brian and wife Linda, thank you to both we had a great evening.
Saturday 29th December 2012
A wild night the wind was rocking the van worse than when we were sitting “on the cliff top” at Hillside earlier this month. I got up at 5:30 am to rescue the outside mats and washing up bowl, I also tied up the electric cover as it was rattling against the side of the motorhome. We got up this morning to find the marque that had been erected for the New Year’s Eve party had disappeared, evidently it “flew off” about 3:15 am! Once again the pitches opposite us are underwater, hopefully there are enough dry(ish) ones for the people arriving in the next few days to be accommodated. Jenny’s niece Kathy and her husband John came for a visit at lunchtime and we spent a nice couple hours or so having a nice chat. We then did a quick run over to Lichfield to collect my “surgical” stockings from Boots, I prefer to call them travel socks, however if they improve my leg problem I don’t really care, unless I have to wear suspenders!
Sunday 30th December 2012
A drive this morning over to look at a small “5van” campsite the other side of Rugeley which also has fishing pools, it looked very neat a tidy and will certainly be worth looking at for the future. We then continued to Tixall near Stafford, this is where we need to take the motorhome in January for the heating elements to be fitted, we are glad we had a “dry run” as the premises in a farm complex were not easy to find, at least now we will drive straight to it next month. Chorley pools were our next destination, another “5van” camp site with fishing pools, unfortunately despite having visited before we couldn’t find it (we hadn’t taken the handbook with us) and we turned back when we drove down a very narrow lane that was flooded, deciding that we would not risk driving through the water of unknown depth.
Monday 31st December 2012
A lazy day, we had intended to go to the News Years Party this evening but decided instead to just have a quiet night to ourselves.