Adjustments

Neither K nor the Smart One are good at change so I shall be staying at the new, cheaper, much larger (no more car park sleeping for me!) Langport home for a few months and R0X1 will be spending a while in dry dock  (SORN’d – Statutory Off Road Notice i.e off road and paying no vehicle tax – for six months) parked up on our new drive awaiting MOT, minor damage repairs, servicing etc. and then, after a fantastic four years and 34,874 miles together, I shall be downsizing her. It’s going to be a wrench but I’m more than ready to adjust my nomadic ways a bit.

Towards the end of my 2017/18 eight month trip I was aware that I wasn’t enjoying myself as much as when I started motorhoming. First I blamed all the unfortunate incidents and associated expenses that occurred last trip, next I blamed the inclement weather. The Bezzie pointed out that I didn’t allowed myself time to recover physically  and emotionally from all the hospital tests and procedures of August and September last year before setting out. I was tired and stressed and more than ready to head home a month earlier than planned.

So, after a period of reflection I have made the following observations and recommendations to myself;

  • I miss my family and close friends too much to spend so much time away from them. In future I shall not be away longer than 10-12 weeks
  • I’ve had the best time dashing thither and yon, fulfilling a goodly part of my photography bucket list but continuing at such a pace is giving me quantity of experience over quality, and exhausting me. I shall slow down rate of travel
  • Much as I love Spain it’s so far away, that many miles travelling alone for so many months is not fun any more. I shall still visit Spain but France and Northern Europe will get more of my attention
  • Our move to a bigger house means I won’t have to carry all my worldly goods with me therefore I don’t need such a large motorhome. A smaller Moho means I’ll be able to park more easily in the small towns I love to visit but currently find parking space in difficult

I’m getting my mojo back …

K has decided she would like more of my photos as art work on the walls of our new home, the theme in the hall stairs and landing, unsurprisingly for a family from Torbay, will be the beach. Here are a few of the 50 odd under consideration …

🙂 🙂 🙂

A little bit of the Oxford.

It was a much shorter cruise on the cut than originally planned because of the imminent house move, but a lovely five days nonetheless. I joined BB at Heyford and we meandered up to Banbury. With only 4 locks per day and making early starts, we managed to avoid over-exerting ourselves during the hottest parts of the day.

 

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It was too early for this farm shop and café to be open when we sailed past; shame as those sofas look quite comfy.

The Oxford canal, along with the rest of the system, is not being looked after very well with CART having put profit well before the horse, badly neglecting the towpath which alternates being downright dangerous and on the point of collapse and almost completely overgrown. In other places the banks are so far encroaching into the canal that navigation is down to single file. CART are busy spending money;  just not on maintenance to banks, falling apart lock gates or jammed paddles. The only work we saw being done was licence checking, equipment painting and the application of their brand new logo to anything canal-side that didn’t move. Never thought I’d say this but bring back British Waterways, the Canals and Rivers Trust is even worse.

 

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Linseed crop

It really is a Great British summer this year. The super weather showing the countryside off to it’s best. It’s a bumper year for insects with plentiful butterflies, large numbers of fat damsel and dragon flies and most of the ducks, moorhens and coots on their second broods. The quiet of the cut disturbed only by birdsong and buzzing, with he odd libation of wine or gin to the weather gods, made a great breather before I start the packing …

 

Views from the Cut

Thanks BB.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Destination Zumerzet

The winds of change blew at hurricane force this week.

Last week I drove K to Somerset to visit a few primary schools that she was considering, she applied and obtained interviews at the two she favoured. The interviews took place this week, one Tuesday and the other on Wednesday; she was offered and accepted her favourite on Wednesday.

We’d been keeping an eye online for suitable housing, a search which mainly revolved around locations with a decent secondary school for The Smart One, commutable distance for K from her place of work, 3 double bedrooms and space to park R0X1, in that order of importance. Hush Episcopi Academy, Langport has a good secondary school which was recommended by the Head of one of the primary schools K. interviewed at. Recommended as the Head’s son, another high functioning autie currently in year 9 the year The Smart one is going into in September. He is doing very well there and receiving great SEN support and pastoral care. Having spotted what looked like the ideal house, within that school’s catchment area, we drove down to Zumerzet (again) today.

We looked around the small town; independent shops, butchers, artisan bakers, fortnightly market and monthly craft market, riverside walks, decent pub grub (well we had to have lunch), pet shop, vet, library post office and Drs surgery all nicely wrapped up in westcountry olde worldiness with a free ATM in an old red telephone box in the market square!

We looked round the house; as of 31st July our address will be Garden City, Huish Episcopi, Langport.

🙂 🙂 🙂

P.S. Too busy for photos but I’m about to have a cheeky little cruise with BB so next time …

Winds of Change

I’m still “enjoying” lots of face ache. It turns out that it’s entirely possible to have toothache concurrently with sinusitis. I’ve cured the toothache part of it by having the offending molar removed yesterday. It remains unfortunate that the sinusitis has settled into the opposite side from the offending tooth socket so both sides of my face remain sore – thank Waitrose for fish crumble and mashed veg last night, and mashed bananas and strawberries with yogurt for breakfast this morning.

Last week was half term and we took the Smart One to one of his favourite haunts, Didcot Railway Centre. We always go by train as the centre is on the old marshalling yards adjacent to Didcot station. We picked an “in steam” day but surprisingly the place was the least crowded we’ve ever seen it. This year there is an ongoing exhibition covering the part the railways, in particular the Great Western Railway, played in the first world war, in commemoration of the centenary of it’s end. I found the inclusion of two of the GWR locos and a couple of the coaches used as ambulance trains during that war particularly interesting. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to provide treatment to the wounded whilst in a moving train.

The GWR ambulance train

 

In the field.

These days the Smart One is allowed to roam the large site unsupervised, he had a hoot availing himself of several free rides on both “in steam” trains.

 

The two “in steamers” for the day

 

A few days later and totally unconnected to our day out, following a long family discussion, K handed in her notice at her current school and sent out her first applications for posts advertised in Somerset. Rents in Berkshire are horrendously high and becoming unaffordable for a single-parent teacher’s salary. In the area we are looking at we will be able to get a 3 double-bedroomed house for less than the rent on the current 2 bedroom flat. Apart from the rent issue there are other advantages to the move. We shall be closer to J&B, who are delighted that they will only have a 45 min drive to visit and to quite a few old friends of mine and K’s, including my Bezzies. We know and love the whole of the south west and for K and I it will be going home. The Smart One is a little apprehensive but there are several “outstanding” secondary schools in the area, he will be closer to his Uncle and to his maternal Grandfather and only an hour and a half’s train journey from his Dad. He’s delighted that we shall be close to the West Somerset railway, a heritage line which ends at Minehead beach (!), and is already putting forward towns and villages with stations on the line as potential areas for me to house hunt! K will be doing the hard bit, applications (two already sent) and interviews and I’ll be doing the fun bit – finding us somewhere to live.

Watch this space …

🙂 🙂 🙂

The weasel-eyed hamster is home

As I was feeling so crappy I wasn’t able to travel quite as fast as I wanted up to Dieppe  but that meant I managed to appreciate some rather nice stops.

First was a very peaceful aire at Rignac, it would be hard to find a quieter one, for an overnight.

 

Second was a site at St-Germain-les-Belles by a lake at the edge of a very sleepy and pleasant village. I swear the site’s friendly, funny and quite mad Dutch owners only bought it to have enough room to display all their hoards of junk very eclectic mix of collectibles. I stayed two nights.

 

 

Third was the aire at Mennetous-sur-Cher, picked for it’s convenient halfway-point placement between the previous night’s stop and my final overnight destination in France. I had no preconceptions it was just a place to put my weary and aching head down. It was a lovely treat to find an intact medieval village centre that has not been over-restored or over-touristified and is still thriving. The boulangerie there sold the most divine croissants I’ve ever eaten and M. Bun the Boulanger was to be seen busy baking his bread in the background (apologies if that’s just too much alliteration for your taste).

 

Fourth and final was the aire at Giverny as I couldn’t resist the urge to visit Monet’s gaffe again to see the gardens in spring.

 

La Manche was a millpond, the drive to the car park was easy and by doing my favourite shortcut via Ascot I missed all the M25/4 early evening congestion. My lovely daughter was sitting in her car awaiting my arrival and guarding my parking space in the corner. I got the tea, hugs and sympathy I needed.

My GP agreed that four or five weeks of sinusitis deserves a good helping of antibiotics. Hopefully I’ll stop looking like a weasel-eyed hamster very soon …

🙂 🙂 🙂

A mixed bag

Having parted from Paul and Meriam, them travelling south and me north, Daize and I had an overnight at a lovely aire in the Elbre delta amongst the rice fields and wetlands wildlife.

Delta d’Ebre

It was a longish drive to Figueres where we visited the castle. Daize was her usual patient self; she is so good at standing still as soon as the camera comes up to my eye!

 

The fort at Figueres

I had planned to stay overnight on the aire beside the castle and visit the Dali museum but having both read the reviews and sussed the place out, I decided against. Ignoring the sat nag’s repeated orders to the contrary I left Figueres for France via the coastal route. And what a spectacular drive it is; I only wish there had been miradors big enough for R0X1 so that I could have taken some pictures but, hey ho, one can’t have everything I suppose. Suffice to say it’s one of the grinniest roads of my travels so far, very twisty-windy-uppy-downy (and scarily narrow in places) with the most beautiful views of the Med, the coastline and cliffs, and gorgeous little harbours and marinas. I stopped at the aire just over the border in Collioure, judged it okay and a quiet night ensued. The Adria dealer in Perpignan didn’t have a replacement grey water pipe so I continued on to Mirepoix, with a plan to head east to Provence via the non-coast route, having noted no water leaks from R0X at all.

By this time I was feeling really rough; all my top teeth had been hurting, and getting worse, for well over a week. So when, with great relief, I parked up at the aire in one of my favourite places I decided to stay put for a few days. The temperature was high, the sun was shining, it had to be good … or not.

Overnight the temperature plummeted from 26℃ to 6, the wind had risen to gale force and some rather heavy precipitation had commenced. As soon as I put my head outside, the cold wind hit my face and I was in agony; and that was when I finally realised that my teeth are fine but my sinuses aren’t! I went to the nearest pharmacy and after a conversation with the pharmacist in French (and I needn’t have googled hypertension and sinuses; same words, different pronunciation!) I left with a nasal spray which contains camphor and has just about reduced the pain back down to manageable levels but my glands are still well up.

 

An LWD walk along the old railway track near Mirepoix

So I’m heading home sooner rather that later. I need tea, hugs and sympathy … and possibly some antibiotics.

🙂 🙂 🙂

The Arrogant Macho Peacock.

So, Señor Boss (Pandemonium on the A7)was an arrogant, macho peacock who was deluded about the extent of my nous. He’d got the head shaking, shrugging and teeth sucking down to a fine art and a great deal of it went on as he examined the remains of the defunct tyre and the opposite rear tyre. I think he thought he was on to a winner when I immediately agreed to replace both tyres (What idiot would replace only one tyre?) but I was way in front of him, having already swallowed hard, acknowledging I had to replace both. Then there was the introduction of tutting as he mentioned how difficult it was going to be to get 2 new tyres – and tomorrow’s Saturday. (A lot of hand signing and French, with the junior Señor, was being used by now). He must’ve been disappointed in my lack of interest in the day of the week. If he hadn’t been so determined to siesta and had just taken me to the nearby, but not in sight, tyre centre I could’ve been on my way in only an hour or so. As it was his “garage” was only a lock up – not a wheel balancing machine in sight!

I had to play it somewhat carefully as I was in a very vulnerable position; I couldn’t go anywhere without his co-operation.

When he arrived the next morning to put on the tyre, he started again with the head shaking, shrugging and teeth sucking, adding in a low whistle for good measure. He pointed out that the wheel border had a couple of tiny (and bash-outable dents) and started to talk about a new wheel … out came my phone, and google translate informed him that he could put the tyre on as a temporary measure. Suddenly the dents were not a problem. He capitulated and stomped off taking wheel and one new tyre, bunged them in the boot of his car, and shot off. Back within 15 minutes of departure, he put the wheel, minus any dents, back on. He then put the other new tyre in the hab. area and decided he was driving R0X1 to the tyre centre where the other tyre was changed, I was allowed to accompany him and consequently learnt of the proximity of the tyre centre!

When we got back to his lock up further head shaking, shrugging and teeth sucking occurred when he found out I didn’t carry loads of €s in my purse and that the transaction would be via my debit card. He glared, obviously annoyed the Spanish taxman would get to know about this particular bit of business. By this time my simmering anger was about to head into steam … I couldn’t take much more of his arrogance.

Then my card wouldn’t work, he tried again and again reducing the amount each time obviously concluding that I didn’t have the funds. He looked at me almost triumphant, thinking he’d be adding R0X1 to the collection of many vehicles stored in his lock-up I imagine. I rang my bank and they helpfully informed me that the arrogant macho peacock was trying to put it through on contactless payment and the bill being rather more than €30, the machine was having none of it. For the first time I had the upper hand and I couldn’t resist a smile as I informed him that the card needed to go in the slot and payment rapidly ensued.

You’d be wrong if you thought this was the end of my tyre saga …

Last night having spent a few more fun days in P&M’s company we were due to part company in the morning. I decided to empty my grey water into a bucket as the campsite didn’t have a drain point. I bent down to turn on the tap only to find nothing there. Further investigation showed that the back end of the waste pipe had been destroyed by low flying tyre – I’m not worried about that at the moment as I can put a bucket underneath the new “end” of the pipe. What does worry me is the two slow leaks of water slowly dripping underneath as well. I shall be in Perpignan tomorrow at an Adria dealer to find out where the leaks are coming from. I’m going to France as;  A) I speak more of the language; and B) given my recent dealings (or not in some cases) with Spanish garages (or rather lock-ups in one case) I don’t trust the Spanish – shame really.

I’ll leave you with pictures from Altomira as a reward if you’ve got this far into this overly long blog!

🙂 🙂 🙂