It’s a dog’s life on the Levels.

So we (LWD and I) continue to investigate our new surrounding in terms of finding suitable off lead dog walking, and I have to report that we are a little overawed by the amount of choice. We have trekked several routes along or near the banks of the R. Parrett, we’ve found a route into town by going around it, and a route on the disused rail line to Yeovil, not that we’ve gone quite that far yet, we stopped at the medieval abbey at Muchelney.

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We’ve discovered The Hanging Chapel in Langport, a 15th century chapel built on top of a 13th century archway at the eastern entrance to the old town. It was a fairly common practice in the middle ages to have a chapel at the entrance of a town so that merchants and other travellers could give thanks for a safe arrival or pray for a safe journey on leaving. It is a Grade 1 listed building and a scheduled ancient monument. The chapel is still in use today as a Masonic lodge.

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East view

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West view

Today we climbed the steep banks of the highest hill in this neck of the woods.

Burrow Mump is a 79 ft high tor standing near the confluence of the River Tone and the old course of the River Cary, joining the River Parrett at Burrowbridge, surrounded by the low lying land, maximum 25ft above sea level, of the South Somerset Levels. Thought by some to have been used by King Alfred, he who according to legend let the cakes burn whilst on watch for Danish marauders, as a lookout point across the levels. Today the views from the top are 360° of drained farmland, in Alfred’s time the views would have been of swampy marshes. A medieval church was built on the hill in the 15th century. The current ruined church on top of the hill was built in 1793. The land and ruin were donated to the National Trust in 1946 as a war memorial to the men of Somerset.

 

All that and I haven’t even had to unpack the wellies – yet …

🙂 🙂 🙂

Where the river ends …

(My regular reader will have noticed my penchant for alphabetising frequently used names; Huish Episcopi being a long-to-type place name will forthwith be added to that list.)

So, we are celebrating our one month anniversary in HE, and what a busy month it has been. I have unpacked and flat-packed, tip runned and charity-shop runned, curtain hung and picture hung, shopped and dropped and finally have come nearly to the end of the list. It has been (mainly) great fun.

We welcomed our first visitors last week J & B came for a couple of nights and gave their seal of approval to the new house and area. Their journey to see us takes half the time it used to.

So with the moving and settling in over with and K and The Smart One about to start at their respective new schools, I can start to explore my new surroundings and decide future plans. At long last I have the new rear corner panel and grey water pipe so that R0X can be repaired. Once that is done she will have a service and MoT,  deep clean and de-personalise and be advertised for sale. Hopefully I shall be able to sell her privately, don’t see why a dealer should make a mint out of me just because I’m downsizing. I’ve had a very brief look in one motorhome centre and quite am taken with the Autosleeper Duetto so far, we shall see. Long conversations to be had with The Bezzies methinks, after all they’re the experts on all things campervan.

I’d like to think that I can be back on the road early next year for a quick trip to Spain and then Holland, Germany and Denmark in June.

Meanwhile here are a few more Somerset views …

Where the river ends

This sign near the river in Langport reads “The River ends at the Sea with mud flats – which can swallow you up!”; a humorous reminder that where the R. Parrett flows into Bridgwater Bay there are 4 miles of mud flats with the second largest tidal height change in the world. Unfortunately there have been drownings with the unwary being caught out on the flats when the tide comes in. The bay itself has much more ominous and serious warning signs.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Nightmare to Sweet Dreams

Had I asked the presenters/researchers from TV’s Escape to the Country to search for us, we could not have found a better property. Our house is fairly standard 1950s local authority architecture but with a few quirks, and my regular reader is well aware of my penchant for quirk. We’re in a cul-de-sac so no passing traffic and as we are no longer under the flight path into Heathrow we’re appreciating the quiet round here. We have a tiny patio garden, triangular in shape but which is going to look great when all the rubbish for the tip is gone and I’ve arranged the pots and other bits and pieces. Then it will take minimal maintenance, which even K will be able to manage when I’m travelling!

The unpacking and arranging of our goods and chattels is almost complete and the rooms are beginning to look like home. One of the advantages of moving house is that seeing your possessions in different surroundings makes you look at them afresh and certainly I am enjoying noticing  and appreciating all our pictures and ornaments in a new perspective.

This morning, early to beat the heat, LWD and I went exploring our wider world and after chatting with other dog walkers and local cyclists I already know we have loads of walks to choose from; riverside and disused railway track.

Learning to paddle

R. Parrett

Nightmare move?

Only sweet dreams round here!

🙂 🙂 🙂

I’m no beginner … (a long rant)

… when it comes to moving house and after making 18 of them personally and having helped my kids on several more, I can with a lot of experience say that this one has been an absolute pig’s ear.

It was an inauspicious beginning, and continued downhill, with the van and two muppets turning up two and a half hours late. I’d already had to leave in R0X1 with the zoo (grandson, dog and cat) to meet estate agent on time leaving K to oversee the loading of furniture and boxes (already packed by us). A quick re-assessment of timing and I was expecting K in Huish Episcopi around 14.30 and van about an hour later. Nah …

Around 13.00 Kate phoned to say the van was already full with only 2/3 of our stuff loaded. Phone calls to firm’s HO ensued – K was accused of adding stuff that wasn’t on the inventory. K insisted she hadn’t and could prove it with her copy of the inventory. Conversations in a non-English language ensued between HO and the muppets culminating in an offer to get another van to move the remainder, magnanimously at no extra cost to us … !!! K arranged to overnight with a friend, and the first van-load arrived here at 18.00 without one complete bed aboard. The Smart One spent the night in R0X1 with the cat and I on a mattress on the floor on the house with LWD.

Despite all boxes being marked with their destination rooms marked on them a lot ended up in random rooms which had nothing to do with box contents. To and injury to insult boxes were all stacked 5 high, regardless of some being marked fragile contents; these guys were obviously not amongst those who consider me vertically or age challenged, and whilst I wholeheartedly disagree with discrimination this once I would have jettisoned my principles!

Having been told a van to move the remainder of our possessions would arrive at 14.00 the following day K spent a pleasant afternoon next door with our now ex- neighbours. The different van and 2 different muppets made a timely appearance at 18.30, loaded up and duly arrived here at 23.00. I refused to hand over any money before they unloaded as the previous day’s chaps hadn’t finished all they were supposed to, if they moved things where they should be, including K’s bed base from the conservatory upstairs to her bedroom I would pay them and then they could bring the rest in. This request necessitated several calls in a foreign language to HO, on speaking to the manager I was left with the impression that although human error had occurred on their part it wasn’t their fault as such and I should shut up, put up and pay up. The legs for K’s bed base were on the van, they would not unload them. I after the previous day’s experience of muppets clearing off without doing their full job would not give way I wanted beds made up before paying.

Stand off; eventually the bed legs only were removed from van; the van was locked closed whilst the bed was made; I paid; they emptied the van and sped away into the after midnight hours without bothering to give me a receipt.

We’re in … and still alive to tell the tale; just!

😊😊😊

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 …