Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Chinese Whispers!

Today a bus broke down in the next town, and I was asked to take a spare bus to cover the trip.

Understandably I was around 20 minutes late getting to where the bus had broken down.

After transferring the passengers onto my bus I set off, and got to my next stop right in the centre of town.

A que of elderly folk were all eagerly waiting to get on, so as I do, I pull up and open the doors and wait for the barrage of daft questions to start.

Not a hello or good morning, it was like a rugby scrum as 20 or so old folk all scrambled to be the first on the bus with shopping trolleys, walking sticks and an assortment of carrier bags flying in all directions!

Why are you so late! was bellowed in my ear to which I replied, I'm very sorry madam the other bus broke down and I am the spare bus.

This I thought was an adequate description of what had happened, I also thought that I had spoken clearly and concisely  - Obviously not!.

The old girl turned around to everyone waiting outside and shouted out "This bus has broken down and there is no spare bus"!

How I contained myself is a miracle! The uncharitable thought of, you won't be needing a bus you will be needing an ambulance if you say anything else like that as I sat on my hands trying to stop them from reaching her neck!

I then had to pacify the remaining travellers that in fact the bus had not broken down and it was ok to get on.

Old folk, don't you just love them!

Till later.....................

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Outside Our Home

When we first moved in to our mobile home, the garden was completely overgrown.

The bushes and tree's had not been touched for a long time and everything was trying to compete for light, this made for some very odd shaped plants!

We cut everything back and grubbed out a lot of the bushes as they had outgrown the place they had been planted in.

There was also decking laid, but walking on it was like trying to walk on ice due to the amount of slime and general crap that had built up on it.

A good blast with a pressure washer soon got it back to it's original colour!

You can see the difference it has made, it was black with grime!

What we also discovered was a gravel path had been laid at some point, and that in the middle of the clump of bushes was a rather splendid Magnolia tree.

We also discovered that all the borders were edged from the path with old railway sleepers.

We cut everything out accept the Magnolia tree, and even this did not escape getting a good pruning. Funny thing was as soon as we did this it came into bud and flowered!

The plan was for a 9ft x 8ft shiplapped shed to go behind the tree and the very back of the garden to be used as storage.

It had to be raised on a plinth higher than normal which brought it up level with the sleepers as it's footprint was just bigger than the ground space available. This not being a bad thing at all, at least the base won't rot through!

The people that we bought the shed from also put it up for us, so all in all a good deal and it saved me cursing and getting splinters in my fingers!

So all we have to do now is put wood chip around the magnolia tree and it's done.

Till later...............

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Our Mini Adventure - The Story

Well, before I start I would like to suggest you get a cuppa and get comfy, this could be a long post!

Ready? Then I shall begin.

Sunday afternoon and we set about loading and packing our Long Wheel Base Mitsubishi Pajero.

The double set of rear seats fold flat to form a double bed. With our sun lounger/reclining chair seat covers laid over the top it makes for a comfortable bed.

Parked up at Brixham having a cuppa

In went the duvets, a couple of bags of clothes, brew kit, bottled water, frying pan, small saucepan and our trusty single ring gas cooker we were more or less packed.

We had no real plans of where we were going, other than  South West.

The idea was to Stealth Camp, which basically means parking up somewhere where you can camp for free!

Monday morning and before we set off we decided to get a full English breakfast inside us, so we could then spend the day getting some miles under our belts.

This achieved we set off around 1000 hrs. We headed through Bournemouth, Poole and Wareham and headed for the coast road which took us through Weymouth and then along the coast to Bridport.

Still keeping on the coast we headed down through Lyme Regis and onto Seaton where we stopped for a coffee. In Seaton they still have an electric tram!

Photo: Seaton tram station

From Seaton we headed around the outskirts of Exeter and then back along the coast to Teignmouth, Paignton and Torquay.

Paignton and Torquay is supposed to be the English Riviera, but in my opinion it looked run down and squalid! We did not hang around, all though we did manage to get lost in Torquay and we found ourselves in the centre of town, trying to negotiate some rather tight and narrow roads.

On to Brixham, now I had read that this was rather a good place to spend our first night, so I we went in search of the road we had been given, we found it with no problem and also found another 5 camper vans all parked up for the night!

We drove back into town and had a good walk around and decided to dine in the Blue Anchor Pub. The food was very good indeed.

Back up to our spot on the hill and make camp for the night!

It took a bit of setting up, being our first night, but once in we were comfy and very warm, so the windows had to be vented.

I had strung out bungys all around the grab handles of the roof, which we hung our towels over which blocked out the light, a small blanket was over the back window and the same stretched between the front seats. We do have blacked out limo glass tints on the back windows but this was just to make sure!

China dog had her bed on the front seat as there was not enough for her with us!

Tuesday we woke fairly early and made our way back to the car park by the sea and brewed up.

China had a walk on the beach then back into town for breakfast at "J's Cafe" 

After consulting the map we decided to head up towards Dartmoor. Our first stop was Buckfast Abbey. I wouldn't of minded seeing where they made the famous Mead, but all they had was a selection in their shop which was full of the usual tourist over priced tat!

As it was raining monsoon style we didn't take a walk to the Abbey but decided to press on. The good thing about this place was the parking was free, and the loo's were new and clean. The only down side was they do not allow dogs at all within the grounds so China couldn't even get out for a quick pee!

Up on to Dartmoor and we headed for Princetown, this is where the Dartmoor Prison is located and what a bleak, remote and desolate spot it is! The mist was down so visibility was very poor, so our view was extremely restricted.

We spent an hour here walking the moor with China, but the weather really was poor so we retreated to the nearest cafe for refreshment.

China dog not impressed after sinking upto her chest in Dartmoor's finest peat bog!

Another look at the map and we decided to try and circle the moor in a clockwise direction so headed North and through the lanes eventually ending up at Bovey Tracey.

As we had spent a 1/3 of the day peering through mist with visibility being down to less than 100 feet we made the decision to speed on and head for Bodmin.

We had heard so much about the Jamaica Inn and it's hauntings that we decided to pay it a visit.

Before our trip I had gone on line and looked at it, and the price of a nights stay was £105.00 a bit steep, but if you had the chance of being woken by a ghost then I guess not too bad.

Mind you, we are so glad we did not stay there! Talk about cashing in on the tourist trade, the pub had no character with its fast food cafe style dining system! Imagine a Tesco's cafe put in an 18th Century coaching inn. Just wrong!

We did want to eat there that evening but decided against it and set off in search of a pub then somewhere to pull over for the evening.

We spotted a good couple of layby's which were right off the beaten track which we decided would be the spot for the night, so our next job was to find a pub with food!

We were on real narrow country lanes with very few passing places, so there was no chance of us ever getting our caravan down here, which is when we came across a camp site. Being nosey we decided to pull in and take a look.

What a hidden gem! Trenant Caravan Park is small 5 pitch site with hook up, loo's and showers. It is absolutely spot on! It's approx 2 miles from St Neot

As you can see we had the place all to ourselves

Parked up next to the showers and loos

A covered area for the BBQ

And our very own haunted graveyard attached to the campsite!

If you have a big unit I would suggest you go somewhere else as getting to it is very tight from all directions, but if you tow light or camp then this is a must stop site with a babbling brook and a graveyard right next door!

We spoke with the owners, who said we could stay the night, use the showers/loo's etc and all for £5.00 so a deal was struck! Well, it beats staying in a layby.

About 2 miles up the road is The London Inn at St Neot, we had a fantastic meal and was made to feel very welcome by the Landlords Keith and Jeannette who even offered a lend of a hair dryer to "M" who after her shower still had wet hair!

It was quiz night at the pub, so we decided that we should enter, well it made up the numbers as including us the number of teams were four!

We could of predicted the result, we came last! However we did win two bottles of cider for having the best team name which was "Lost From Lymington"!

The winners were not local either but a couple from Windsor, so the locals lost out all together!

Wednesday we were up bright and early and after a cuppa and a shower we were off again.

Heading back towards Helston and straight down to the Lizard. Here we stopped for a brew after walking down to the shore by the old life boat station.

The Lizard

After walking down to the shore and back again a hot chocolate was required

A word of warning, as you approach the Lizard at the top there is a short stay car park, best to pull in and use it, as the next carpark down is just a pull in where car's park all over the place. We had to reverse all the way back up a narrow lane with no passing places as it was full!

From here we made contact with Sharon and Thomas who were putting us up for the night.

After being given wrong directions from Sharon we found them, sorted ourselves out and then headed out in their camper to Porthleven where we went to The Ship for a bite to eat and a pint. The food was very good although my taste buds were on the way out as I was suffering from a cold! Well to be precise Man Flu!

An enjoyable evening as it was good to catch up with old friends.

The next day, Thursday, Thomas took time out of his hectic schedule to show us around. We went to Lamorna Cove, this place is right off the beaten track, the sort of place which only locals or well connected people know of.

The previous night it absolutely lashed down with rain making the rivers and streams heading into the sea very swollen.

We went through Penzance and a host of other small villages till we ended up at St Ives where we met up with Sharon and had lunch in the Sloop Inn. Once more the food was very good. A quick look around the shops and then we said our farewells and off we went again!

Now heading up the West Coast it was a good few degrees cooler and the wind had picked up considerably. We kept on till we hit Tintagel, pulled into a large car park next to a pub and found that we could park there for £3.00 for the night.

The first pub we tried was called "Ye Olde Malthouse Inn" looked good from outside but as welcoming as leprosy once inside! There was even a notice behind the bar that stated that drinks may only be consumed seated!? What is all that about. No standing at the bar then?

So we moved swiftly to the King Arthur's Arms Inn for a pint. We didn't eat here but the food looked good, instead we caught the chippy just before they closed for a bag of chips.

Another night in the Pajero, and we have now got it all sussed and we both had a good nights kip.

Friday, once up and after a brew we heading back to the pub for breakfast, which wasn't brilliant but wasn't bad either.

One of the things I can never fathom out about an English Breakfast is the quality of the sausages used. Now I would say that for around 90% of the time the cheapest sausages are dished up. Whats wrong with a good quality sausage? Not as if there is a shortage of them!

The other thing that annoys me is when a cheap tomato or brown sauce is used. You know the kind that is thin and vinegary! Or worse still it comes in a sachet! Just use a decent sauce and stop skimping and annoying me. I could have the best breakfast in the world, but use a naff sauce and I get upset!
Now this is what I'm talking about!

We headed up the Atlantic Highway to Exmoor where we crossed through it and then headed South to Tiverton. The heavens had opened and many parts of the road through the Exe Valley was flooded.

Thankfully having the Pajero and loads of ground clearance we didn't have a problem, I certainly wouldn't of wanted to do it in a normal car!

A quick brew in Tiverton and then we decided that as it was only lunch time and we had covered everywhere we had wanted to go we decided to head for home.

We got back home around 1800hrs after travelling 840 miles in 5 days.

A good break, we sussed out what worked and what didn't in the Pajero regarding sleeping and living for a short period.

The Pajero behaved as it always does, that's without fault and the fuel consumption was not outrageous either.

Now for our next mini adventure and more stealth camping!

Till later................

Sunday, 7 October 2012

A Mini Adventure

Once again I find that I just run out of hours in the days!

So a quick recap on what has been happening on site and what we are doing.

Firstly "M"s op went well, and as expected it wasn't the op that caused the problem but the anesthetic. They kept here in over night just to make sure every thing was ok!

 We ended up buying a 8" x 6" shiplap shed which has now solved our storage problem, and it is in our garden which has been scrubbed out, cleared and made to look half decent (photo's to follow).

We ended up throwing a lot of things away, two reasons for this. Rats had got into the barn and decided to nest in amongst our gear! Then we decided that if we hadn't used any of the things we had stored in 2 years what was the point in keeping them.

So we now have a massive load of gear to go to a car boot sale and hopefully make a couple of quid and free up some more storage space!

I'm not sure what was going through our heads when we packed up the house, but why any one wants to keep hold of battered old frying pans is beyond me. It probably was me who decided to keep it as I'm terrible for throwing anything away. You just never know when that frying pan may come in handy!

Work, is good, still doing lots of hours, making for long days, especially as the nights are getting darker earlier and earlier!

But the main thing is I'm still enjoying it. Although it has it's moments. The amount of complaints you get is unreal. I wouldn't mind so much if they were genuine complaints, but to complain because the floor of the bus was wet after we had driven through a monsoon rain storm and flooded out roads is a bit much!

I asked the gent if he had dissolvable feet, to which he answered no, my reply was, thats ok then so if you would like to take a seat we can move off! That shut him up!

I'm sure people just like to moan because if they didn't they wouldn't have anything to talk about!

Now on to our Mini Adventure:-

We have a week off, starting as of today (Sunday)

Do we take the caravan and head in any direction, well that would be an idea, but we wanted to travel light and tour around, so today we are kitting out the Pajero for a week of wild camping!

We have the long wheel base version of the Mitsubishi Pajero (Shogun) 7 seater. Both sets of rear seats fold down flat to make a double bed.

With our recliner garden chair cushions placed on top, covered with a duvet makes a very comfortable bed!

A one ring gas burner, frying pan (see told you it would come in useful)! kettle and various odds and ends we are set to go, well, we will be once we are packed!

We are heading South West, no main roads or at least we are trying to avoid them. But the general plan is to head down the coast till we get to Paignton then turn right and spend a couple of days around Dartmoor.

Then down the coast again till we hit Bodmin Moor, we have friends in Cornwall (Sharron and Thomas) so we will probably pop in to see them. (Sharron you always said you only needed 3hrs notice of our arrival, lets see if you read this in time)!

Once fed and watered by the best host in the world, we will heading back up the Cornish and Devon coast to Exmoor. 

A long old slog around a wonderful part of our world. We are both really looking forward to going and trying out wild camping. With no fixed plans and not staying on sites it will certainly be a bit of an adventure.

"China" dog is of course coming with us, she will be in her element, as her bed is at the bottom of ours!

We have only ever done one night at a time in the Pajero, so a full week will be interesting.

If it all goes well, next year we may end up going to Ireland to see "M"s brother as it's his 50th birthday, and her other brother is getting married in France and I feel a road trip to the other side of Nice coming on!

Flying would be the no hassle, easy option, but when have we ever done that?!

Anyway off to start organising and pack my gear,  - socks, pants, shirts, packed and ready - hurry up "M"!

Till later................................