Saturday, 23 December 2017

It's that Special Season again.....

No it's not a rave it's Eva in Seasonal Mode....
I know the above image breaks every photographic rule known to man but I rather like the effect.....
My daughter tells me that it looks like a rave but I can assure you all that is not what it is...

It is Eva the Eriba decked out in her seasonal finery...

***Wishing Everyone A Very Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year*** 


Monday, 18 December 2017

Disappointed.....

When I was undergoing treatment for cancer back in 2009/10 one of the things that gave me strength was the Lance Armstrong story.... (This of course was before the truth of his doping 
was confirmed.....)

I had read a couple of books about him and seen him ride and wanted to believe that he was riding clean... 
I wanted to believe the story of how after being diagnosed with cancer and suffering through all the treatment he went back to cycling even stronger and won the Tour de France multiple times....

As my own treatment progressed the Lance Armstrong story kept me going and helped me to see myself continue to ride when my own treatment finished..... 
I came up with some riding objectives to aim for and following treatment went on to do some great long distance rides....

When the truth about his doping finally came out I felt really badly let down....
I was really disappointed..... 

I know all the signs of possible doping had been there but as I have said I wanted to believe his story and with hindsight I am glad that I did because I gained a lot from it at a difficult personal time... 
But I was still very disappointed when the truth came out.....

As time moved along I was impressed by what Bradley Wiggins achieved on track and road.....
There then followed an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing at British Cycling and Team Sky...

It was alleged that a package delivered to Bradley Wiggins at the Criterium du Dauphine in 2011 contained a banned substance. The doctor involved, Dr Richard Freeman, said that it was the legal decongestant Fluimucil. 

It appears that due to a 'lack of accurate medical records' held by British Cycling the contents of the package could not be proved and the case was dropped.

There has also been a lot of discussion regarding the fact that Bradley Wiggins had sought therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) to use the banned anti-inflammatory drug triamcinocione for allergies and respiratory issues before the 2011 and 2012 Tour de France and also the 2013 Giro d'Italia...
All of this was enough to create doubt in my mind and again I felt disappointed.

I have followed Chris Froome's career with great interest and have admired both his achievements and his cycling style. 
Watching him ride in this years Vuelta really blew me away... I was so impressed by his riding and I enjoyed that race even more that the TDF this year. 
But now news has broken that he had returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for salbutamol at the 2017 Vuelta a Espana.

The UCI has referred the case to the Legal Anti Doping Services....
Team Sky will need to explain (if they can) the reason for the elevated levels.... If they can't do that Chris Froome could face a 12 month ban and could possibly lose his Vuelta title for 2017.... 

.........and me....

I again feel disappointed !!!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Christmas Trees Galore......

Well it has certainly turned into winter now....
Most mornings over this past week we have woken up to find the car well covered in a very heavy frost.....
Most mornings covered in ice.

 Although as yet we have only had a light dusting of snow the possibility of icy conditions on the local lanes and roads is enough to send me back to the turbo....
A week ago I set Tiffany the Tifosi up on the turbo and for the next 2-3 months most of my riding will be carried out on this set up......
Back on the Turbo again...
 The risk of coming off in icy conditions is too much of a risk for me to take.....
When you are younger you can 'bounce' a bit better than you do at my age.... I have experienced hitting the tarmac in the past and it is not something that I wish to repeat so static cycling in a nice warm awning listening to music is a far better option.....

With the arrival of the wintry weather Anne and I have been filling our time with either walks on the moor or things that we find to do under cover.....

One thing that we did the other day was to visit the Tavistock Christmas Tree Festival which was held at the church of St Eustachius..

This is the ninth year that the festival has been held and over that time they have had over 450 trees displayed decorated by over 200 different local organisations.....
The Festivals have attracted over 70,000 visitors and raised lots of money.....

During the festival they have a programme of music in the church and the amount of work that goes into arranging the festival and decorating all the trees is quite something......

Interior view of Church....

Church interior with some of the Trees on display..

Tree Decorated by the Tavistock Physically Challenged Group
 One of my favourite trees was the one in the image above---it was decorated by members of the Tavistock Physically Challenged Group.....
Another of my favourites was the tree shown below... this one was decorated by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Group....
One of my favourite trees....
 After our time spent looking around all the lovely decorated trees in the church we really felt that we were getting into the Christmas spirit.... 
This past weekend most of the country seems to have been covered with at least some snow so everything is getting to look more and more like a scene from a Christmas Card......
A Wall of Trees in the Church....

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Bus to Bude.... a Pool... and the SWCP

A few weeks ago just before the weather started to turn more wintry Anne and I took a bus to Bude on the North Devon Coast.....
I hadn't been to Bude for a number of years...the last time was when I was backpacking along the South West Coast Path (SWCP) and that must be more than ten years ago....

Luckily Anne and I had some nice weather for our little day trip which meant that I was seeing it again in similar weather to my last visit.....

I like Bude.... 
It has some nice little independent shops and the town and the approach roads all seem to be kept neat and tidy as do the little parks and gardens and open areas.....
It doesn't have the tired and worn out look of so many of our small seaside towns and it seems a nice place to base yourself if you are keen on watersports or walking along the coast line and cliffs......

Talking about walking along the coast path.... I remember that when I completed the SWCP I always felt that most people missed the best and most dramatic scenery of the North Devon coast..... 
As I would approach a town like Bude I would meet day walkers about a mile or two from the town and again when I left the town day walkers would be around for a mile or two but then as the coastline became more dramatic and scenic I would find that I was in the most part walking on my own with just the occasional multi day walker or backpacker coming the other way.....

This always struck me as a great pity as I felt that the majority of people seemed to miss the best scenery that the coast had to offer......

Anyway...back to our little day trip to Bude....

We had decided to take the bus because it enables us both to enjoy the views as we travel through the countryside especially from the top deck.... It also makes life easier due to not having to find a parking space although I must say that would not be a problem in Bude as there appears to be lots of parking available....
Beach Huts at Bude..

Bude Coast and Beach...
 One of the things that has always attracted my interest at Bude is the Sea Pool.... 
This is a partially man-made tidal swimming pool or lido in the rocks at Summerleaze Beach....
It provides a haven for free and safe bathing and other water based activities and was built in 1930...
Although it costs over £40,000 every year to keep it open it remains free of any admission charge...... Over the course of a year over 60,000 people visit the pool and it seems to be a major visitor attraction for the town....

It is open every day, 24hrs a day although it is best to swim at low tide....
The pool is about 91m long and 45m wide and was created under the curve of the cliffs in a conservation area...
It provides the experience of being in or on the sea, close to the full force and ferocity of the Atlantic Ocean, but sheltered from it's extreme effects.....

There are a number of similar pools around the UK coast and I just love them...
On the left side of the image of the pool below you can just see a lone swimmer enjoying the experience.....
The Bude Sea Poole

A view along the coast path at Bude..
If you have never been to Bude it is certainly a nice little place to visit, but if you can, do it the proper way and make it one of the small towns that you drop into whilst walking the entire SWCP....

The full walk is 630 miles in total length and runs from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset which is the direction that I walked it as I was living near Poole at the time so it was 'just' walking back home for me...
It took me five weeks to complete it (avg 18 miles per day) so you will need to take a big chunk of your annual holiday allowance or be retired to have the time to give it a go in it's entirety......

It is not to be underestimated though....some of that glorious scenery along the north coast can be incredibly tough to walk with a backpack containing all your kit so ultralight is the way to travel...

The path keeps dropping from the top of the cliffs down to sea level and back up to the top of the cliffs continuously.....

Apparently the total elevation you will climb is 114,031ft (35,031m) and I know from first hand experience that your leg muscles will be reminding you of that fact  along every single mile....

Sunday, 26 November 2017

First Signs of Winter.....

Over the past few days we have had the first signs of winter.......

Turning White on the Tops of the Moor
The tops of the moor have been turning white..... mainly sleet but snow will probably not be far behind......
One of the joys of a winter spent around the Dartmoor area is seeing and enjoying the change from one season to another in a quite dramatic way.....

What was just an energetic walk on the moor a week or two ago suddenly becomes a bit more serious and a lot more of an adventure.....

Yesterday the caravan and awning were covered in a huge sheet of ice and as for the car..well it took me 20mins to clear the thick ice from the windscreen and windows and make it safe to set off on a visit to Anne's sisters house which is a few miles from Hatherleigh north of Okehampton....

Today it's been different again...still very cold but wet for most of the day....

All the weather forecasters are telling us that we are going to have a very hard and cold winter and the moorland around us here can be transformed from tough walking country into very..very tough walking country and not for the faint hearted.... 
All I can say is.."bring it on- we are ready and waiting".


Saturday, 18 November 2017

One of those days.....

Yesterday was one of those days..... One of those days when everything seemed to come together to make a perfect day for getting out on the bike and experiencing the joys of two wheeled non motorized travel.....
The winds were very light at about 4 to 6 mph..... The sky was perfect without a cloud in the sky and although it was chilly first thing - by 1100hrs it was warm enough for me to not have to wear full winter cycling gear.... I am still wearing cycling fingerless mitts and not having to wear full cycling gloves yet...

It was one of those days that reminds me of some of the reasons why this is the third time we have decided to spend the winter down here on Dartmoor....
Yes the weather can be harsh on the moor sometimes but then that can make for a bit of a wild walking trip which both Anne and I really enjoy....
However on other days it can all come together to make perfect cycling weather and yesterday was one of those days....
You can see how good the weather was in the image below.......

Perfect weather for a bike ride....
I have always been interested in standing stones and crosses and Dartmoor has more than it's fair share of these.....
When I was posting images on a regular basis on my photo blog 'Aura of Past Shadows' (AOPS) standing stones and crosses were a regular subject but over the past few years I have not been so active in taking serious shots just relying on snaps (although NO dreaded selfies) for the Purpletraveller blog.....

I have been considering getting back to doing some more serious B&W photography and again start regular posts on the AOPS....
My problem is finding the time with everything else that seems to fill up my retirement :-) but if I do decide to re-start AOPS and dig out my Fuji X-Pro1 I will let you know,,,,,,

Anyway... In the meantime a bit of information about the cross in the above image....

This cross can be located at Grid Reference SX/530/711 or 
-4.07504/50.52190 (approx) Longitude/Latitude(+/-)

It is at the junction on the north west corner of Huckworthy Common...
The cross is a Waymarker to the church at Sampford Spiney.
It stands at 6 feet 3 inches (1.90 metres) tall and 1 foot 7 inches (0.50 metres) across the cross arms....

It would seem that in times gone by Travellers from Plympton Priory on route to Tavistock Abbey would pass this cross if they wished to stop off at Sampford Spiney.
The Manor of Sampford Spiney formed part of the lands that belonged to Plympton Priory and would therefore need to be visited from time to time by the monks of the Priory...

This basic and solid cross is still in fairly good condition although there is some slight damage to the North Eastern face of the arms. Both arms have had pieces knocked off which has the effect of shortening the already short arms even more....




Saturday, 11 November 2017

The 'Dark Side' of the caravan world......

The non-working fridge situation turned into a bit of a saga and still hasn't been totally resolved....
I called in a local mobile caravan service guy and it was confirmed that it was the fridge's 230v heating element at fault.... To fit a new one required the fridge to be removed from it's cabinet surround...... Try as he did Mr local caravan service was unable to move the fridge an inch and after about an hour he declared defeat....

It would appear that Eriba caravans belong to the 'dark side' of the caravan world with all sorts of 'how to' secrets surrounding them that only an official Eriba dealer is privy to....

After I had handed over the £40 call out charge he left the camp site muttering that he hated to be beaten and it was the first time it had ever happened to him etc..etc... I thought that he was going to burst into tears.... He left a beaten man.........
Still at least he was slightly better off in the financial sense than I was.... I on the other hand was now £40 worse off and still had a non-working fridge....

'Dave the dog' (don't ask) who is a regular summer and winter fulltimer and is camped the other side of the hedge came round to see if things had been sorted......
Now Dave is a bit of a campsite wizard and although he couldn't offer a solution to the stuck fridge he came up with some alternative offerings.....

First he had a full propane gas cylinder in his awning that was surplus to his requirements. This is now installed in my gas locker.

The fridge works on gas ok and it is obvious that it will be useful if we ever have a power outage. It will give us an alternative for our heating and cooking as well as the fridge so it makes sense to have it as a back-up. 

Because we pay for the electric hook up anyway it is not my intention to run anything on gas full time.... However, Dave had a solution for that as well.....

It turned out that as well as having a gas cylinder just sitting around in his awning he also had a domestic larder fridge that was almost unused ....
He has loaned it to me for our five month stay here and it is now installed in my awning keeping my beer nice and cold.

The fridge will be returned to Dave when we leave here in the spring and for a couple of weeks after that I will power the caravan fridge with the gas until the caravan goes into the Eriba dealer for it's annual service at the end of April......

Dave's spare fridge in our awning.....






Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Back on our Winter Pitch.....

We are now settled back on to our winter pitch.....
This will be the third winter that we have spent here on Dartmoor and it is good to catch up again with the regular winter campers who we have got to know over the past couple of years....

The day we arrived it was pouring with rain even though when we left the Barley Meadow site just 26 miles away it was glorious sunshine... Dartmoor does seem to have it's own special micro climate....

The following day it was very misty with drizzle in the air but it proved to be a good day to clean the caravan in readiness for the forthcoming winter....
We used Fenwicks caravan shampoo followed with a good rinse with Fenwicks 'Bobby Dazzler' which is a hydrophobic product which gives the van a nice shiny finish and helps to keep it clean over the winter.....

We usually clean the caravan at the start of the winter and again in the spring when we prepare the van for our seven months of touring over the summer season...... 

At the end of the day Anne's son Brian who lives not far from the site brought over our winter awning and took away our summer awning for storage in his loft over the winter.....

The day after cleaning the caravan we awoke to a lovely warm and sunny day which enabled us to erect the awning and get it all fastened down in readiness for the winter storms that we usually get during our winter stay......
Erecting the Winter Awning...
I have already managed to get out on the bike and I plan on another ride tomorrow..... The weather at the moment seems to have settled down again so it is a case of making the most of it while we have it.....

One thing that happened yesterday was that our fridge decided to stop working... It works on the absorption principle unlike a normal domestic fridge which usually works with a compressor.... Absorption fridges have no moving parts so there is not too much to go wrong....
After doing a few checks I have a feeling that the problem is with the fridge heating element so a call to a local mobile caravan engineer will have to be made.....

At least it stopped working at this time of the year and not in the middle of summer when we would have missed it more...this time of the year things like milk etc can be left outside overnight and manage to keep pretty cool anyway....

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Last Move of the Year........

Since we have been here on the northern edge of Dartmoor we have had some pretty rough weather.....
I have not managed to get out on the bike around the lanes north of the National Park as much as I would have liked..... 
On one ride I picked up what a lot of people think of as the boring section of the Two Moors Way that connects Dartmoor to Exmoor along country lanes.....

When I walked the Two Moors Way I personally didn't find this section of the route boring at all..... I walked the route with a couple of soldiers who were completing the Two Moors Way and I caught them up just as we started on the 'boring' country lane section....
Having companions to walk with made the section pass quite quickly as we were exchanging stories and jokes as we made our way along so for me it turned out to be one of the highlights 
of the walk......

On my recent ride along these lanes it brought back all the memories of the walk which I enjoyed a lot....
The picture below shows 'Tiffany' my winter season bike (Fiona the Felt has now been packed away at my daughter's for the winter) at the very point on the Two Moors Way where I caught up with the two soldiers when I walked the route......
On the Two Moors Way
Since we have been back down in Devon we have had two storms....first was Ophelia and as I write this the last winds of storm Brian are blowing themselves out......

One of the problems we have had was choosing the right time to pack away our summer inflatable awning...... 
When we get to Tavistock we will be using our winter awning so it was important that we packed away the summer awning nice and dry.... 
Normally between sites I wouldn't worry about  packing the awning slightly damp as we would be using it again within two or three days but this time because it will be packed away for five months it had to be properly dry.....

As luck would have it there was a window of dry weather last Friday just before storm Brian hit us.... that window of dry weather enabled us to pack it away nice and dry.

I would have liked to have cleaned and reproofed the awning as well but we just have not had a long enough period of dry weather to allow us to do that.... Still at least we packed it away dry and our plan is that we will clean and reproof it when we set up that awning again in the spring.... hopefully the weather will be a bit kinder to us then.

One thing that happened at this site that didn't make me very happy was some minor damage to my car.....
The site owner was mowing the grass near my caravan and car and as he drove the sit on mower along the stony site road past my car he flung up a load of stones chipping the paintwork and causing a couple of small dents in both the front and rear nearside doors..... Luckily Eva the Eriba seems to have survived unscathed....

Careless mower driving by the owner...however he has said that if I send him the bill for the repair he will pay it but obviously I would have rather that it hadn't happened.... 

Oh well I will have to contact my friendly Paintless Dent Removal (PDR) man when we get to our winter seasonal pitch....

That is where we head off to tomorrow.. 
Our last move of the year is back to Tavistock and our pitch for the winter season....... 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Cold Feet Hopefully Getting Warmer.....

Some years ago when I was walking the Southern Upland Way I used a number of bothies as an alternative to my tent.....
It made a nice change when I found a bothy to sleep under a proper roof ...a bit of a highlight along the route.....
One thing that I seemed to suffer with though was cold feet.... walking on the solid floors of the bothy certainly didn't help and even though I wore a couple of thick pairs of walking socks cold feet persisted.....

These days winter riding on the bike can give me the same problem..... Makes no difference what I cover my feet with...waterproof socks..neoprene cycling shoe bootees.... I still seem to end up with cold feet.....

As we approach our third winter in Eva the Eriba I am not going to take any chances not that I suffer with cold feet in the van though..... No what I want is to make sure that my feet warm up again nice and quickly after a ride....

That's where these little beauties come in.......
North Face Nuptse Tent Mule 111
As my tent slippers needed replacing my recent visit to Exeter had the purpose of acquiring some new in caravan/awning/tent slippers or bothy boots.....
I ended up buying a pair of North Face Nuptse Tent Mule 111s.....

I have to say that these were the style that I had in the back of my mind when I went looking to buy some replacements....and as it was these were the only ones that seemed to be available in the various outdoors shops in Exeter.....

I realise that there are lots of various makes and styles available on the internet but one of the things that you have to learn to live with when fulltiming is that buying from the internet is not really possible.

The reason for this is a lack of a permanent address..... Yes I could have them delivered to my daughters address in Dorset but then I would have to wait till next spring before I could collect them and I wanted them now.... I wanted to warm my feet up this winter not next......

The North Face blurb tells me:-
Don't let the low profile and plush finish fool you..... The Nuptse Tent Mule 111 from the North Face is a hardy slip-on slipper offering incredible warmth and comfort and boasting a toughened upper made from recycled bottles....( I hope that means Cola Bottles as I have always thought that the best thing you could do with a bottle of Cola was to throw the contents away and recycle the bottle :-) )

The main features of these are :-

The uppers are made from 100% recycled PET with ripstop finish.
The sole is a nylon mesh base with rubber fine-mould traction lugs.
Insulation is Primaloft Thermoball (equivalent to 600 fill down)
Durable and water-resistant.
Die-cut EVA sockliner.
Slip on slipper.
Weight 220g
Note the Rubber Fine-Mould Traction Lugs.
I can't say how good these slippers are..... only time will tell. 
This post is not a recommendation it is just a report on what I have purchased......
If they live up to the North Face product description then I should have nice warm feet throughout the winter.... if I don't then you will certainly hear about it!!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Back in Devon..

A week ago we rolled out of Verwood in Dorset and are now back in Devon....
Before we left Dorset we said goodbye to family and friends again and on the Monday morning just before we left the site Richard the manager popped over to say goodbye as did Andy and his wife Jayne the site assistants....

Next year Andy and Jayne will be at the Veryan site in Cornwall ....Richard and his wife Angela will be staying at Verwood for another year and my old walking buddy Gideon and his partner Angie will be joining them for the season from spring to autumn at Verwood....

This is where we are now:-
 This was the very first site that we pitched up at when we set out on this fulltiming caper two and a half years ago....
We thought that it was time that we made a return visit and it is also just a short drive from where Anne's mother lives....

It had been my plan to drive out this past week and meet up with Howard a friend from the Backpackers club who was leading a three night backpack up on the moor.... 
On one of the nights they were planning on camping at Princetown and I was hoping to catch up with them at the pub..... 

However, as is often the case with a good idea the day after we arrived here I was struck with a really bad cold and had to spend a few days in bed.... It was a great pity because I haven't seen him for over two years and I hate the thought of losing touch....
Entrance to the Site (our unit can be seen 2nd on the left)
 We have another couple of weeks here and then we will re-locate again to our winter seasonal pitch at Tavistock....
Tavistock is only 26 miles away from here so it really is just a short hop to get there......

While we are here we will have a few walks along the Two Moors Way (TMW) as it passes the site just a couple of hundred yards up the road..... There is a nice pub at Drewsteignton which is on the TMW route..... 

I am also hoping to get a few rides in as there is a nice road route that appears to be popular with a lot of local road riders....

I think that we are planning on a day in Exeter tomorrow.....
Evening view from Eva the Eriba.....
When we pack up the inflatable awning prior to leaving here we are hoping for some nice weather as it will be packed away for the winter so we need it to be nice and dry for winter storage.....
When we are at Tavistock we will be using our poled winter awning again......

Monday, 25 September 2017

A Ride with a Bike Mis-Match...

On Friday I met up with another old work mate and cycling buddy John Donoghue known to his friends as JD..... 
JD has ridden with me on numerous long distance cycle trips and it is always a lot of fun to go out on a ride together..... You never know what to expect when you are in the company of JD...

Having acquired a new touring bike in the last six months he was keen to use the new bike on our planned ride together as I had not seen it in the metal yet.....

In theory it seemed a great idea but the reality meant that the two bikes were a bit of a mismatch for a ride.... We had to laugh when we saw our two bikes together as they really were at opposite ends of the cycling spectrum.... 
Two very good bikes but built for vastly different disciplines.....

Check for yourself below......
A Bit of a Mis-Match for a Ride.....
My Felt was basically built for speed....it's full carbon frame and top end components and wheels reflect that....

John's bike is built for comfort and rough stuff touring .... But it's weight even makes my Revolution Tourer feel like a racer... 
It's a Thorn Mercury and built up to his specifications...it is a great bit of kit... It sports hub gears...a rear disc brake... built in dynamo for his fitted lights.... Good solid mudguards....Racks fore and aft... etc..etc... and most importantly JD has always wanted one and now he has one.... that makes him happy......

I won't go into blow by blow details of our ride together....you can probably imagine what it was like.......  it must have seemed as if I was floating up the hills compared to JD but all credit must go to him as he guided his sure footed HGV of a bike up the hills....slow ...but always confident that he would get there in the end......

It was a most unusual choice of bikes to ride but that's what made it a very interesting ride out together.... Riding the new bike obviously gives JD a lot of pleasure.. however I won't be trading in my own touring bike for one anytime soon...

One thing that we did both agree on was that next time we have a ride together (unless we are touring) JD will ride his Specialized Road Bike......

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Three C's....

After my last post when I was complaining about not having been out on the bike for about three weeks due to both dodgy weather and commitments..... since then I have managed a couple of tough days on the bike....

Yesterday I think that I must have pushed it a bit too far as on the last hill on my return to the campsite I 'bonked' in massive style almost grinding to a complete stop.
Thinking it through when I got back I came to the conclusion that after a three week break with no riding at all I was expecting too much to go out on the bike for two long and hilly rides on successive days... 

Unless I am in tip top form I normally like to give myself a recovery day between rides and this is something that on this occasion I didn't do...
The reason for this was because I wanted to make the most of the good weather..... at my age and with my cycling experience you would have thought that I would have known that it would be a ride too far..

The older I get I notice how much more important recovery is than when I was younger.....

Here is a picture of Eva the Eriba with a Felt bike in front..... The sharp eyed will notice that it is not in fact my Felt..... no this bike belongs to my old friend Jason Boynton-Lee who cycled over to the site for a coffee and a chat.....


Eva and Felt
 I had hoped to get out on a ride with Jason but following yesterday's 'big bonk' and bearing in mind that I have another ride planned at the end of the week common sense stepped in and we settled for just the coffee and cake.....

Talking about coffee and cake....when Jason was here we discussed the route that he would take on his way back home and I happened to mention a garden centre where in the past I have both camped and also stopped at when I have been out on cycle rides.... 

The attraction on the cycle rides was the garden centre's small cafe.... I knew that it would be too much of a temptation for Jason and about an hour after he left here he sent me this image....
Classic Bike Lean Image incl Coffee..cake..sunglasses and phone...
The message that Jason sent with the image was "Can highly recommend this chocolate and apricot flapjack!"

Cycling...coffee and cake......The three C's.... Classic...

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Autumn Weather..

Since we have been back in Dorset the weather seems to have turned dramatically into full blown Autumn......
When we were at the Theobalds Park site just two weeks ago we were sitting outside the caravan sunbathing.... we then travelled down here to Dorset and the weather changed overnight......
For most of the two weeks we have been here the view from our awning has been like this....


Autumn Weather..
So far our time here has been spent having the car serviced..... attending medical appointments..... sorting out kit for the winter..... shopping and best of all catching up with my daughter and her family......

The day after we arrived here Anne had to shoot off down to Devon to attend a funeral and also to visit her mother who has had a bad fall and been hospitalised.
Anne got back here last weekend but on Friday had to go back down to her mothers again...... I couldn't go due to commitments here in Dorset. I am not expecting Anne back here till next weekend.

We are intending staying here in Dorset for another couple of weeks but due to the situation with Anne's mother we will then relocate to another site at the northern edge of Dartmoor for three weeks before heading on to our winter seasonal pitch at Tavistock... 

In the past we have spent September and most of October in Dorset but we feel that it would be more sensible to get back into Devon earlier this year for the reasons I've mentioned...

Hopefully over the next couple of weeks I will be able to link up with some of my friends who are based here in Dorset....

With everything that's been going on plus the weather I haven't managed to get out for a bike ride for about three weeks.....
Looking at the forecast for this coming week it seems that there could be some nice days for bike riding and I have already been in touch with my old cycling mate JD to sort out a ride together later in the week.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Four Days at Theobalds......

After our quick visit to St Neots the next on our list was Theobalds Park at Enfield and just a few hundred yards from the M25...
Now those of you who know me well will also know that I try to keep away from London but this was a special visit to meet up with my old friends Gideon and Angie who this season have been HSA's (Holiday Site Assistants) based at the site.....

Both Anne and myself were pleasantly surprised with the site....although very close to the 'road to hell' (M25) the site itself has a very rural feel to it and as per C&CC standards everything is kept very neat and tidy and the toilet facility block is first class....

During our visit as you would expect we shared a couple of evenings with Gideon and Angie sampling a few beers and other drinks and sharing tales of camp life and the various people we have met and places we have visited.

One of the places that Anne and I found less than a mile from the site was Myddleton House Gardens. This was a real gem of a find made all the sweeter by the fact that entry was free.
Anne and I enjoyed a nice lunch here followed by a few hours wandering around the very attractive gardens.....

Here are some images of just a little of what we saw....
Free Entry- Always a bonus.


Years ago this was the Market Cross in Enfield but has been moved to the gardens.

Lot's of Lovely Pears....

A view of the house.





 We really enjoyed our four nights stay at Theobalds Park and it was great to meet up with Gideon and Angie again.
They finish their seasons contract at the end of October and in early November they will be off to Spain and Portugal for the winter...

We won't see them again until next April when they will be based at the Verwood site in Dorset for the 2018 season which is where we have now re-located to for the next four weeks....

Monday morning saw us pulling out of the campsite and heading on to the M25 and then the M3 for our journey down to Dorset.....



Thursday, 31 August 2017

It was a quick visit.....

Yes it was a quick visit to St Neots...just two nights which for us is just the blink of an eye.
We managed a couple of walks...a couple of pub visits....a visit to a superstore....and a walk around the town.

The day we arrived the weather was very warm and sunny.... the second day however was a day of gloomy skys and rain however that didn't hinder our enjoyment of  the short time we had there...

One of the things that we saw in the superstore car park was this VW Beetle...
Lowered VW Beetle
 Now I've seen many lowered vehicles over the years but never one quite like this.... Look at the running board...there is hardly a gap between that and the road. 
No, this wasn't an abandoned car I saw it arrive in the car park and watched as the driver parked it...I asked the driver if he minded me taking a picture and he laughed and said go ahead....
I wouldn't mind betting that it is a pig to drive with no handling at all and as for driving over speed bumps...well I shouldn't think that goes too well.......

In the towns market square these bollards attracted my attention.....so much more interesting than the normal bollards that you see.

Unusual Bollards in St Neots
 Finally here is a view of the river (The Great Ouse) from a bridge overlooking the terrace of one of the pubs we managed to visit......
Pub Terrace overlooking the Great Ouse
So yes it was a bit of a flying visit but enjoyable just the same and the C&CC site at St Neots is one that we will probably visit again so that we can do the area justice....... 

We have now re-located to the C&CC site at Theobalds Park near Waltham Cross..... The site is just about 200 yards north of the M25 so that puts us approx 15 miles from the centre of London.
We are here to meet up with friends Gideon & Angie who are site assistants on the site and also Anne can get into London and meet up with her son and granddaughter who live there.....

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Heading South.....

We are now heading south...
This morning we left the Wodhall Spa C&CC site and this afternoon we pulled into the St Neots C&CC site....

Our first impression of the site is very favourable with lush grass kept to a very high standard and a river running along one side of the campsite..... Two of the assistants working here we first met last year when we stayed at the Verwood location..
We will only be staying here for two nights as for us our visit is purely as a transit site. Mind you we have already managed a walk along the riverside path and a visit to a very nice pub for a drink and a meal......

Before we left Woodhall Spa we visited Tattershall Castle... 
This is a superb 15th century red brick castle... It is one of the earliest and finest surviving examples of English medieval brickwork. 

Anne and I went up through each of the floors and found our visit really interesting although Anne wouldn't go up to the upper roof area as heights are not really her thing.....
Having said that I have to be honest and admit that the older I get I don't have the same confidence with heights as I used to have when I was younger.... The upper roof area of the castle made me feel very uncomfortable....
Tattershall Castle
While we were staying at Woodhall Spa we were entertained each day by the ducks that were resident at the site.... Their home was centered around a small pond in the wooded area of the camp.... 
However each day they would go on walkabout around the caravans and tents hoping to get some food.....
Duck food was available to buy at the camp reception/shop and Anne loved feeding the little blighters as they came round and visited our caravan..... 
By the end of our stay which was around four weeks they would sit outside our van in the morning waiting for Anne to feed them...
The photo below shows them waiting outside our awning one morning a few days ago.......
Anne's little duck friends waiting for more food......


Wednesday, 23 August 2017

A visit to Lincoln.....

One of the places that was on our list to visit was of course Lincoln....
We used the park and ride which seemed to be pretty efficient and saved any hassles with finding a suitable parking place in the city itself....
Judging by the number of people waiting at the park and ride bus stop it seems to be a popular way to travel into the centre of the city.....

We alighted from the bus at the bus station at the bottom of the hill.... there is a new shopping precinct close by and our plan was to look around the shops there before walking along the main high street and then heading up 'Steep Hill' (which as the name suggests IS steep) up to the castle and the cathedral at the top of the hill.
From there we would then catch the park and ride bus back to the car....

The plan worked well allowing us to see a good number of Lincolns attractions as we made our way through the city..... The weather was good which is always a bonus if you are having a 'tourist' type of day.....


One of the many interesting buidings to be seen
There were lots of very interesting buildings to be seen and the history of the city was to be seen everywhere.....
Lincoln Stonebow and Guildhall
Halfway up the high street is the Stonebow and Guildhall.
The name 'Stonebow' is of Scandinavian origin meaning a stone arch. The east wing of the Stonebow used to house the city gaol but these days it houses the Guildhall Treasury...
The present Tudor Arch was completed by city freemason William Spencer in 1520
Steep hill...and it is!!
As you carry on up the high street you eventually arrive at Steep Hill..... The gradient appears to be similar to Gold Hill at Shaftesbury in Dorset.
There are lots of vintage, antique and retro stores on Steep Hill as well as tea shops, pubs and restaurants. 
Anne and I rewarded our ascent of Steep Hill with a meal and a drink at one of the pubs we found near the top of the hill...  
View towards the Cathedral at the top of Steep Hill
Upon arrival at the top of the hill to our right was the view towards the Cathedral.........
View of the Castle entrance....
and to our left was the castle entrance as shown in the above photograph.....
West Front of Lincoln Cathedral
Anne and I were really impressed with Lincoln Cathedral. We found that the Cathedral's West front to be absolutely stunning and it appeared to be massive dwarfing everything around. 

John Ruskin the eminent Victorian writer wrote "I have always held.... that the cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles and roughly speaking worth any two other cathedrals we have."

No description I can write could describe Lincoln cathedral better than that....so I won't try..!


Interior view of Lincoln cathedral....
Anne and I really enjoyed our visit to Lincoln and were most impressed with the magnificent historic buildings.
If you have never visited the city and enjoy a bit of history then I can recommend that you visit Lincoln.....

Cabin Fever .......

 Sorry for this week's posting being three days late but like the rest of the UK last weekend saw the arrival of storm Ciara and our in...