Out for a run

No I have not turned into a fitness freak or lynford Christie. When I say out for a run I mean we are taking the camper out for a run. We have been on site for a month now, how time flies. We have settled in nicely and doing a variety of jobs. I have done a small bit in the office and Nikki has done a bit outside. Evidence below.

I think she looks good on the John Deere’s and she did really well at a bit of reversing also. The weather has been fantastic until the last week when the temperature dropped a few degrees and there was even a flurry of snow. We were asked to go and help out at another site because they were struggling. The site at Morton in marsh was a nice site. We drove there and back everyday. About 26 miles each way and only took about 3/4 of an hour. We did it for four days.

On one of our days of we walked into Cirencester to have a spot of lunch and sample a pub or two. The first pub we went in was a bit too much like a cafe, the second one just never felt right. Third time lucky, a proper pub, with open fire, wooden floors, wooden beams. Good beer and good food. A nice afternoon followed.

Every three weeks we get a long weekend of, so this weekend we decided to give the camper a run and get of site. We decided to go to a campsite in Stanlake, near Whitney. We have been there before when we had the Winnebago. It’s only about an hour away so not far. A nice pub at the end of the road which we went to last night. Today we decided to go for a walk through the fields and round the lakes about two miles each way to another pub by the river at Newbridge. Really nice walk and the pub was ok as well. The path to the pub.

New job one week on

Well where did that week go. We have now been in our new job for one week. We arrived on the site on Tuesday. The wardens were out but We were greeted by other wardens and shown to our pitch. We set up and wandered down to the reception later to meet the wardens who are running the site. You know when you get that feeling that everything is good. Well that’s how we felt. A real great bunch of peaple and the site is so nice.

We were not starting work until the Friday so the next day we drove down the supermarket to get some food and to find our way about. Got to make sure you know where to get food and wine/ beer supply’s from. Thursday we walked into Cirencester through the park. The campsite is situated in the Bathurst estate. The grounds or the park as it’s known are huge. You can walk from the campsite through the park into the town, it takes about 15 minutes. The town is great, lots of nice old buildings, lots of nice looking pubs etc. I must admit I am a beach bum or country boy and towns are out my comfort zone, but Cirencester is such a nice town. Nikki loves it. I think for me it helps that I can walk for hours in the park if I need to and talk to the trees etc. At the entrance to the park is a huge Yew hedge. The tallest in the world apparently and when it has its annual trim it takes two blokes two weeks to trim, using cherry pickers and various machines.

The Yew hedge, I will get better photos.

We walked around the town and had a coffee and a hot chocolate in one of the many cafes. Nikki loves charity shops so we had to visit one or two. She knew she was in a posh area because of the quality of cloths in the charity shops. I also pointed out they don’t smell of wee, like a lot of charity shops do. I loved this writing on the entrance to one of the pubs.

This is part of the walk into the town, I aim to take the same picture but at different times of the year just to compare. if we are still here autumn should be nice.

As I said we have been at work for a week now and they have not sacked us, made us stand in the naughty corner etc so we feel we’re doing ok. There are some food vans that come on site, fish and chips, pizza, breakfast van, steak van all on different days. The deal is that they are allowed on site which is nice for the customers but the best part is the staff get free food. Yum yum. Nikki has been in reception all week which is her strength. We also clean the shower block, and I have been outside doing the bin run, painting, clearing up, driving the John deers tractor etc. There is so much to do but we are both enjoying it. We work a three week shift pattern so every week is different but every third week we get a long weekend off which is nice. We never work more than four days without time off. Today we finished at 5.30pm and go back to work on Tuesday at 8.45am. The rugby is on tomorrow so I will be watching that and then Sunday or Monday we are going into Cirencester to visit a pub or two and have lunch. Just for research of course so we can recommend them to the peaple staying on site. The things we have to do.

This time next week

This time next week, Friday the 8th of March we will be nearly finishing our first day in our new jobs. We are both really looking forward to it and so is the bank balance. We have enjoyed our two weeks here in south Molton on a campsite we used to stay on a few years ago. There are a lot of changes gone on. My friend Chris who keeps his caravan here and loves his wildlife, not the party all night and drink all night wildlife but the wildlife as in nature. He has put a hide up in the woods here and gave me a key to use after he went back home last weekend because I also like the wildlife. There is a kingfisher that visits the pond and Chris has got some great photos. Unfortunately I have not managed to get a photo of the kingfisher and have only seen it twice. I have always wanted to get a good photo of a kingfisher but on this occasion it’s not going to happen.

The hide where I have spent some hours watching and waiting.

I have seen deer in the woods and a variety of birds including, blue tits, coal tits, long tailed tits, nuthatches, goldcrests, heron, song thrush and a robin came and sung to me.

Also the frogs starting to spawn right in front the hide. You have to look closely amongst the weed and then you see little eyes looking back at you.

We have caught up with some friends while back in Devon but not had time to catch up with everyone. Nikki has caught up on her washing, well and mine so we have some cloths to wear. I have had the camper remapped so it’s better for towing. When we leave here on Tuesday to head for Cirencester we will have the car on tow.

We have a full days training on Monday at Paignton. Machine training so Nikki will be a tractor driver after that. We then leave on Tuesday for Cirencester, get set up on Tuesday and have a couple of days to look around the area before start day Friday. That’s us up to date. Will let you know how we get on. One last photo just because I liked it.

Back in Devon

After leaving Poolsbrook we drove, or I drove to Haughton to see some friends. They have a very nice bungalow and a lot of land. They have turned part of the land into a CL. A CL is a certified location which you are allowed to have five campers or caravans stay on. They are all over the UK. Maurice has done a great job. We were the only ones there that day.

It was good to catch up with Maurice and Judy and to see his American car, an Edsel which sounded so nice.

We left there on Saturday morning and headed for slimbridge to a campsite right by the canal. The slimbridge wildfowl trust is about a twenty minute walk down the lane. We never went there but we will return to go there as I like birds and it’s one of the best places to see a huge variety. Just outside the campsite is a pub, the Tudor arms which is actually only 95 steps from the pitch we were on. Funny how coming back from the pub it was 153 steps. We met friends in the pub who only live about twenty minutes away. They use to come down to Devon and stay on the site we were working on. Sunday we went for a walk down the canal to blow the cobwebs out. I do like canal boats and the peaple who own them always seem to be so friendly. Waving as they tootle past at walking pace. I liked the chimney decorations on a couple of them.

Before leaving slimbridge yesterday I went back over to the pub at 7.30 am for a nice big breakfast, and just to check on the number of steps to get there and back. It was 95 steps each way so the 153 coming back that night after seeing friends for a drink or two, I can only think someone must have spiked my drink.

Got back down to Devon and went and picked the car up. Flat battery but no problem when you have a small starter pack. Fired up straight away and with Nikki following me we headed for a campsite in south molton which we have stayed on before when we had our big Winnebago. The site has changed a lot since we were here, all for the better. Joe the owner was his usual self and we went and had a pint with him and a good laugh. We will be here for a week or so, got things to do, peaple to see, places to go to. So since getting of the ferry we have done a further 792 miles to get us back to Devon. No I never got lost that was all the running around we done. Since leaving Devon after finishing work for our winter trip and now getting back to Devon we have travelled 3551 miles. Now all we have to do is start work next month for the summer so we can go away again in November.

Up North

We left Brighton in glorious sunshine and headed for John cross motorhomes at robertsbridge to get our awning fixed. All fixed, just need some sun now so we can use it again. It’s only been broke a year. We left there and headed for Bicester to a campsite we used a few years ago in the RV. Nice and quiet this time of year. Set up on the pitch and a chicken came to greet us and some weird ducks had a look in also. This stop was just to break the journey up on our way to Poolsbrook in the Peak District.

The next morning we said goodbye to the chickens and weird ducks, they are so ugly but nice at the same time. Heading out on the highway for Poolsbrook. Up north. Nice campsite beside some lakes and right next to the trans peninsula way, a collection of paths that go from east to west or west to east of the Uk. The reason for coming this far up north was we needed to get a new screen cover made for the camper. From this site the company were only half an hours drive away. Bright and early next morning we were sat outside the unit on a industrial site at 8.30 waiting for them to open. Nikki loved getting up early and packing everything away.

The company that we’re making the screen cover have a good reputation and get good reviews. So when we arrived at a small shabby looking unit that was on a dodgy looking estate with cars abandoned we wondered if we had the right place. The owner arrived and we chatted about what I wanted to change from the old screen cover. Had a look round inside the unit to see how things are made etc. Two hours later we were driving away with our new screen cover. Not on the camper though, that would be silly and dangerous. A great company and a great product. Don’t be fooled by first impressions. The camper with it’s nice new screen cover.

Today we went for a walk along some of the paths to Staveley, a small village/town only about a mile or so away. A walk around, luckily no bloody shoe shops this time. Saw some loverly old buildings including the old cinema, long closed down. Found this row of old cottages which had been bought back to life with what looks like reclaimed bricks etc. The back of the cottages were still old original stone. I think they look really nice and make a nice photo.

The peaple up north often joke about the southern softies, but I will tell you something. I never saw anyone wearing shorts up here only me, and it was a glorious day up north. Tomorrow we start heading south.

Hotel living.

After our snowy arrival back in the UK, thank you British weather. We left Wareham Forest tourist park in sunshine to head for another campsite right next to Gatwick airport. The reason for this we were booked in a hotel for our training for our new jobs at Lingfield. The Gatwick site is only about half an hour away so we would arrive fresh and ready for school.

As soon as we booked in on the campsite I asked if I could wash the camper because it was so dirty after driving up through spain and France and all the snowy roads in UK. I hate my camper being dirty. The lady on reception was very good and pointed me in the direction of the wash area. A lot of campsites don’t allow you to wash your campers or caravans. Camper washed and pitched up, lunch time. If you were a plane spotter you would love the campsite. Not my cup of tea but we were only there to make it easier for us the next day. We didn’t realise so many planes take off and land so often. We would hear them and then see them soaring over the trees at the end of the campsite. You could still see the one that had just taken off and another would be going up. Bloody noisy too. They started early in the morning also.

We left the campsite and headed for Lingfield Marriott country club and race course which is where we were booked in for five nights to do our training. Parked the camper up in the hotel carpark taking up four spaces. Not my fault they don’t have bays for campers. There were another three campers there. Off to the meet and great session and get our info for the coming week. Name tags and uniform for the coming season etc. Listen to the big boss do his chat. There were about 90 of us on the training course split into four groups. Me and Nikki were in different groups. Checked in to the hotel room and then down for dinner. We don’t do hotels as we have our own hotel on wheels so it’s all different especially for me. Nikki has done a few hotels in the past when she used to go on her conferences. So she knew how to get in the room with a little plastic card. I must say we were looked after very well throughout our stay. We got paid mileage, hotel for five nights, three meals a day and we even got paid for being there. The training was from 9-5 with two half hour T breaks and an hour for lunch. A lot of topics were covered. A bit of information overload but it was an insight into everything we will be doing.

On the last night there was a dinner dance, I don’t dance because I would have to do a risk Assessment but Nikki was up on the dance floor reliving her disco days. Met some great peaple and had a great laugh. I must admit I did go out to the camper every morning to make sure it was ok. We still have one more day doing machine training at the beginning of March and then onto our site which now we are going to Cirencester. Supposed to be a nice site but we are still going to be covering other sites if needed.

We left the hotel this morning after one last big breakfast and headed for Brighton. Very windy journey and lots of rain. Tomorrow hopefully the rain will ease so we can get out and about for some fresh air.

Arrive in snow again.

We left Le Mans heading for Portbail on the west coast about an hour from Cherbourg ferry terminal. Friends are house sitting there and she makes beaded bracelets etc. I made the mistake of showing Nikki pictures of the stuff she makes. Mandy and Nick have stopped at the house for the last five winters. They don’t have access to the house they just park up on the driveway, use the electric and water. It suits them as it’s a cheap winter break. The driveway is huge, you could get twenty campers the size of ours on it.

Just after leaving Le Mans we got onto the motorway and within half an hour the cars and lorries coming the other way were all covered in snow and the sky ahead was not looking good. Sure enough it started to snow and boy did it snow. I have never seen snow like it, let alone drove in it. The snowflakes were like tennis balls. Well maybe not that big, but they were big and it was snowing very hard. The lorry in front of us was about 100 metres away and the tracks he made were filling in with snow before we got on them. Everyone was slowing down and we just hoped no one stopped otherwise we would have been stuck on the motorway.

After about half an hour it was easing off and we had got through the worst. All the fields for the next 75 km were still covered in snow but the roads were clear and the sun even made an appearance. We pulled into the driveway of our friends and set up. Mandy was cooking chilli that night and we washed it down with some French red wine. Very nice it was to. And yes Nikki bought some bracelets, luckily before she started on the wine.

The next morning was a really hard frost, so we waited until about 11 30am before heading out on the last lap to the ferry. There was a threat of snow but we got to the ferry port with out any snow. It started snowing about an hour before we got on the ferry. We had been looking at the weather because when we get off the ferry we were booked on a campsite in wareham. We normally go to another site but that is not open yet. We are a month early in coming back this year. The weather reports were all saying of loads of snow in Devon, Cornwall and all along the south coast. Just what we wanted to hear….NOT when we get off the ferry we can sleep on the dockside if it was really bad.

Off the ferry at 10pm and all looks ok. We could see it had been snowing but not as much as last year when we got off, so we headed out on the highway towards the campsite. About a mile down the road it started to snow heavy again. I don’t like driving at night, it plays tricks with my eyes and then with the snow coming down fast and being tired I was so glad when we pulled into the campsite and parked up. Again being late we made the the tyre tracks in the snow. Getting a bit of a habit this. Engine off and into bed. Awoke this morning at 7 .30 to everything white. Looks nice but we need it gone because the forecast is for -2 and tomorrow we have to go to Gatwick. As I type this it is melting but not quick enough.

So that’s us back in the UK. We have had a great winter but all that sun seems a long way off now and the tans are fading fast. Some facts of our trip.

We have covered 2759 miles from leaving Devon to getting here at Wareham.

We have spent £518 on fuel. We still have half a tank good for a few more miles yet.

We have stayed on six Aires, two in France, and four in spain. + one driveway.

We have stayed on six campsites. Four in France and two in spain.

We have spent £280 on tolls. Not doing that next year. But it’s easy and better to get from A to B faster, especially in the snow.

Other costs are weekly shopping, about €45_€50

Eating out and shoes and bracelets.

Wine and beer. Undisclosed amount.

We still have a lot of running around to do before starting our new jobs so will keep the blog going. Thanks for reading it and hope you have enjoyed it. Soon be November and we will be off again.

48 hr LeMans

After the snow that descended upon us while at camping de Montreal, so I could take some loverly pictures, we wanted to move on north so we planned to leave on the Friday after checking the weather forecast etc. Thursday was a beautiful day with sunshine but with a brisk wind and all the snow had gone. Friday morning we woke to find another load of snow dumped in the area and not only that it had rained and froze also. We are not going anywhere. The campsite is at the bottom of a hill in a valley and the only way out is uphill. We waited until 11 o’clock and thought let’s go as we really wanted to spend some time up at tours. We got out the campsite but as soon as we got on the uphill road we were going nowhere. Hazard lights on and roll backwards and reverse into campsite road. A couple of other cars also came by us and got stuck.

By this time Hans the owner of the campsite had come up to us to make sure everything was ok. We said we would be staying another night. No problem he says have a free night on me. So back onto our pitch we went. Later that day we went for a walk up into the village and the roads were a lot better by then but to late for us to leave. Manana !

By the time we got up on Saturday the snow had all gone. Only the molehills had snow on them which looked really weird. Why did that bit not melt.

The campsite at Tours we were heading for is right by the river Loire and a cycle path runs for miles in both directions which is why we chose to go there. The weather was not being kind to us again, lots of rain and wind. The campsite opens at 3 pm. As we’re getting towards the area we can see there’s a huge traveller community in the area. The campsite has a huge big Gate at the entrance, I wonder why. Booked in by a French guy who spoke very good English he assures us it’s safe on site. We get parked up and set up. Then the electric keeps tripping. I wander over to reception and tell the man. He comes out and looks at it, discovers one of the big fuses is hot and has burnt out wire connecting it. So he plugs me into the one next to it and wiggles the wire in the burnt out one until it breaks and that is it, he has fixed it.

We left there this morning heading for a site just by Le Mans for two days, 48 hrs with good electric. We came here last year on our way home. The sun is shining at the moment but rain is forecast for tomorrow.

Room with a view

We left the farm stay the next day in the rain and headed out on the motorway for Grisolles. Another aire for the night which is a leisure centre carpark we have used before. As we came off the motorway just north of Toulouse we saw our first yellow vests stood on a roundabout with their shelters etc. We gave them a toot and a wave. We also saw speed cameras all covered up with bin bags and some were burnt out. And at one of the tolls the barriers were ripped off. We got to the aire just in time, just after we got there the carpark filled up because there was something going on in the leisure centre. By the look of the peaple going in, youngest being about 90 it was not going to be a late night. My worry was all those peaple getting in their cars after a sherry or two. And as sure as eggs are eggs about 8pm they started to leave and bang, crash, a shout of WOW and a lot of French shouting. A coach coming to pick up the sherry drinking fossils had hit a car.

On the road the next morning heading for the A20 which would take us to the campsite we were heading for, camping De Montréal at St Germain les belles. Run by a Dutch couple it’s a great site in a real oldie French village. The site has loads of old bits and pieces everywhere you look. We had a choice of pitches and chose one with a view.

It was cold outside and snow forecast for the next day, but we are warm inside. The next morning it was about -2 that’s what the weather app said. There was no frost but the ground was all crunchy. And then it started to snow lightly. We don’t like to be cooped up inside all day so decided to go for a small walk round the village in the snow. As we walked up past the school there was a load of kids all shouting and waving out the windows. You would think they have never seen a bloke in shorts in the snow before. What sheltered lives they must live. We also saw a snow plough going out which wasn’t a good sign. Back to the warmth of the camper for lunch and then the snow started to really come down. 24 hours after the first picture this is what it looked like. And there is more forecast for today. We like it here which is a good job because we won’t be able to get out the village today. We are at the bottom of a hill and the road to get back on the main road is up and down and very winding. We have some days to play with before the ferry so no problem. …….hopefully.

Down at the farm

We left Benicarlo this morning after a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon on toast. In bright sunshine we were heading for an aire just outside Girona. Not too much traffic about even getting around Barcelona was easy, although I would have hated to take a wrong turn and ended up in the city itself.

We got to the aire in good time. Sat nav doing a great job. I must say this new sat nav has been fantastic. The aire is on a working farm a stones throw from a village called Salitja just south of Girona. As the crow flys not far from the airport. The farm has been in the same family since 1909. When they first started they had four cows and now have 1150, I counted them all. The manure from the cows produces electricity through a biogas plant which runs the farm. So basically I am sat here in my camper, a cow is stood over the road from me, the cow shits, the farmer picks it up, puts it in a machine so I can turn a light on in my camper. What a wonderful world we live in.

The aire is free, but it’s nice to buy something from the farm shop. I really like this idea so we went and bought some eggs, yoghurt, and steak. The steak never came from the cow that supplied me with my electric. There is also a museum at the farm full of old farm machinery, old tools etc which would all have been used on the farm over the years. This is also free to look around.

Tomorrow we leave here and cross the border into France, not looking forward to that because it’s going to be cold. I looked at the forecast for the next few days of where we are heading and it looks like our run of sunny days is going to end, as there is some snow forecast and rain. Hope we don’t get too much snow, not fun driving in the snow when you’re 9 metres long and five ton in weight. Another thing we have to dodge is the yellow vest brigade who are still demonstrating on the roads over the fuel prices. We filled up today in spain as it’s cheaper so should keep us going for a while into France. Our yellow vests will be on the dashboard and will hoot as we pass to show we agree with them, which I do. The cost of fuel in France has gone up so much and they are doing something about it. I don’t agree with all the violence but do agree with if you don’t like something do something about it.