Damn squirrels

The jacks on the motorhome need refurbing, I know I have mentioned it before and it was booked in on more than one occasion to get them done but the company let me down so I told them to forget it. Or words to that effect.

The guy that looks after the camper MOT and servicing etc is now going to do them when we are back down in Devon. I thought it a good idea to send him some photos so I was crawling about under the camper, like you do when you have nothing better to do taking some photos of the jacks and just having a look under there. When to my horror I noticed some wires that had been chewed. Not by me while I was under there although it was near lunch time. But by squirrels I think. It would not have been a mouse because of the way the wires were hanging down.

We do have squirrels around here and a lot of other sites we have been on have them and rabbits which like to go under the camper so it could have happened while here or at another site. So that was another job to do not on my list but had to be done. I also noticed the brackets that my extra alarm speakers are on were very rusty so I had to do a temporary repair on them while I was under there. The speakers will have to be replaced but at least they are not going to fall off now. I believe in the saying everything happens for a reason and in this case if I had not crawled under the camper I would not have noticed the chewed wires or the rusty brackets and something could have happened while out on the road.

The chewed wires and a cobweb

Another day in my life last week I spent five hours cleaning the car, only the outside. I know what you’re thinking …..it must be a bloody big car. It is an estate car. When we bought the car it was supposed to have a paintwork treatment done on it. I was not happy with the way they had done it, or not done it so I contacted the firm. They were very good and sent me out some free products, about forty five pounds worth. As it happens the products are ones I use anyway and have done for years so I was happy. But they sent them to our home address 300 miles from where we are now. Another email to them and they say sorry and post out another forty five pounds worth of products to where we are.

Weather conditions ok, water temp ok plenty of time on my hands so I start the deep clean process. Stage one. This involves washing the car, drying the car. Stage two. spray affected areas with product leave to soak wash off and dry car. Stage three rub a tar remover over affected areas, wash off and dry. Stage three. Wash the whole of the car and towel dry. Stage four polish whole car and buff off. Stage five wax the whole car and buff off. Stage six. Stand back and admire all my hard work. Luckily I actually like looking after my vehicles. Stage Seven wipe the bit of bird shit of the roof from the bird that was sitting up in the tree waiting for me to finish.

The end result

I have mentioned the bird feeder in the last post. The feeder is about a metre away from the window of the camper where I sit so I have a great view and they are used to me staring at them. I am sure sometimes they stick their tongue out at me. There are all sorts of characters. The tit family consist of Hoppy tit. Because he only has one leg but he does a good job of hanging on the feeder. Tatty tit named because he looks like he has been on the beer as well as the peanuts and flown through a hedge backwards. Freaky tit, he is weird, something wrong with him he is all puffed up and sits around trying to breath, the other birds pick on him. Think he should have self isolated. Tiny tit because he is so small, he is not getting enough nuts.

The welsh have bought out new rules for exercise, now if you go out on your bike you are only allowed to go as far as a reasonable walk would be. The route I take through the woods and around the lake is twelve miles but includes about a mile of that is on the road. So I have stopped doing that one now. Don’t want to upset the locals even though I never see anybody on that route. I will still do the woods and lake bit but just not go out onto the road. I very rarely see anyone and if I do it’s always at distance.

My bug house is nearly finished and should be in place next week. I built it all from what materials I had laying about. Bugs don’t do new and shiny. When we moved into this compound the whole of the gates were like fort knox covered in wood on both sides, the previous peaple had dogs so didn’t want them getting out. To be honest I don’t think Houdini could have got out. And you had to have arms like Popeye to open the gates. So I took off about 75% of the wood, kept all the screws and that is what my bird house is built from. I am no carpenter but the bug house is supposed to be rustic, that’s my excuse anyway. The bottom part is like a shed which is for hedgehogs to sleep in and hibernate through the winter. There are hedgehogs on site so will be nice if they use it. The size of the bug house is 45 inches high, 15 inches deep and 26 inches wide. It has different compartments with various materials in. Cones, bamboo,slate, twigs and hay etc so it caters for all sorts of creepy crawlys. I will post pictures when it’s in place. I have put a coming soon sign on the location so the bugs are informed and seem to be getting a lot of interest.

Getting there

Penthouse cones

We have heard a cuckoo around us the last week or so that’s a good sign. And my garden is coming along nicely. One area on site has a great swathe of bluebells which look so nice amongst the trees. That’s us up to date and we only have two months to go before the site opens on 1st July, that’s if the government let us. We will see. And remember that if you have a little argument with your wife, kids, partners because your all together all of a sudden because the way the world is at the moment. It’s not their fault. Stay safe.

Bluebells in the wood

The big day aproaching

I bet you’re all thinking, what big day, is the lockdown going to be lifted, is the world going to end, will they have a cure for Covid. Well it’s none of those although it would be nice if it was all over. Not the world ending.

The big day is my birthday and yes it’s a big one. The big 60 only a month away now. How the hell I have got this far nobody knows but I have. I still have my own teeth my own hair although not a lot at the moment as I decided to get the clippers out and cut it all off in this hot weather. It will grow again. It was Nikki that actually cut it all off, I think she felt obliged to because I said if she didn’t want to do it I would. The last time that happened I ended up looking like someone with alapeacha. I also don’t take any medication, again perhaps I should but then life would not be the same. I would have been working on my birthday thinking what a day to have a big birthday but then it is just another day. This one will be remembered for other reasons.

Life on the campsite is the same although it’s empty and we are not working I still seem to be doing stuff everyday. How would I have managed to do all these jobs if we were working I ask myself. My bird feeder outside the camper window is supplying the birds with some extra food. They can come and go to the feeder as they wish, no queuing or rations.

A pair of blue tits

In the compound I have now built a small patio from some old slabs that were hanging about. Not the best of patios but I did the best with what I had. We had to try it out with a BBQ and some beer and wine when I had finished. It works really well.

Our dining room

The flowers on the campsite are looking good and more are appearing each day. One of my favourites is this Tulip it looks like it’s on fire. Others I don’t know the names of, some are weeds but they are all nice.

The Tulip on fire

Today we booked up some sites for the winter. It will be another winter in the U.K. We need to make sure Mi Mi is all well and because we are furloughed our wages are short for three months and could be even longer depending what’s going to happen with this damn virus. We may even not be able to move around the U.K. only time will tell.

Me and Nikki went for a short walk the other day and on our way back stood and watched some lambs playing and dancing around. They really make me laugh just leaping about and all the time mums got her eye on them

The dancing lambs

So that’s us up to date. The last photo is another favourite of mine. A seeded dandelion head. I remember as a kid (last week) you had to blow them and make a wish. Stay safe out there and go on blow and make a wish. Just don’t spit all over your computer.

Blow and make a wish

Am I in Spain

Sometimes when I am out and about on my bike, looking at the mountain views, the big lake I cycle around, lack of traffic on the small roads, blue skies and sunshine (and they said it always rains in Wales!) added to that all the road signs are in two languages and then if you hear the locals speaking they talk in another language. It is just like being in Spain.

The weather has been fantastic the last couple of weeks, add to that the fact we are not working all adds up to being pretty damn good. The BBQ has been out on more than one occasion with a nice cold beer and glass of wine just to wash the food down. The camper is all washed and polished and nowhere to go. I did start it up the other day and let it get up to temperature, I even caught Nikki in the driving seat looking in the mirrors etc. Dream on girl, it ain’t going to happen.

All the trees are greening up, it’s almost like it happens overnight, flowers are springing up all over the site. My Snowdon garden is really coming into life. The birds are nesting and the dawn chorus at about 5am is fantastic. You will have to believe me on that one unless you’re an early bird like me. Some of the flowers on site below.

Went out on the bike the other day, a different way to which I normally go but still with some very nice views across to the mountains. The picture with the pipe in goes for a couple of miles at least and comes from the big lake I cycle round to a small power plant and the water is used for cooling.

Mountain views on bike ride
Water pipe

Today me and Nikki went for a walk up to the dam. She had not been up there before so I persuaded her to come with me this time. It’s a five mile walk but she did well and really enjoyed it. On the way through the woods I am always looking for photo opportunities and really like the one below. Taken under the trees looking up, makes a great shot I think.

My list of jobs is not getting much shorter because I keep finding other jobs to do which are not on the list but it keeps me busy. Sometimes I just have a nothing day and even two sometimes because I didn’t finish my nothing day on the first one. So that’s up to date. I hope you are all well and keeping safe and not getting too bored.

One of the locals saying hello

Easter but no bunnies

This weekend the campsite would have been fully booked. The arrival of motor homes and caravans trickling through the gates, all the different peaple from all over the uk. The laughter from most and sour faces from others, yes we get them all. You would think that as they’re coming away on holiday they would be happy, the smell of BBQ’s firing up and the ching of beer and wine glasses calling of cheers. We always join in on that one. Just to be sociable you understand.

But all that is not happening this year at Easter, instead we are looking after an empty site and it all feels really strange to be honest. Yes it’s nice having the time off because we like our free time but we actually like working in this job also. Apart from the sour faces. They can self isolate every year.

We went shopping the other day. Nikki normally goes on her own but I said I would drive her there and wait in the car. It’s a ten mile drive each way to Porthmadog and it feels like your in a war zone almost. The streets are empty of peaple, the shops all closed up and you don’t see many peaple walking the streets. Some you do see have masks on and there not burglars. Well they might be but I should imagine all the real burglars are pretty fed up because everyone is at home now so they can’t go breaking into empty houses. Just proves there is good and bad in all things. We parked up at Tesco and Nikki joined the queue which looked like it was a mile long but it actually moved along quickly. The queue looked long because of keeping your distance rules. I sat in the car listening to the radio and peaple watching. Saw some peaple arrive look at the queue and get back in their car and go, obviously not needing anything desperately. I saw a lady, before getting out the car, put her gloves on, mask and hood up. It’s a strange world at the moment.

Luckily we are in a wonderful spot and are able to get out for exercise. Apart from having the whole campsite to wander around we are in the edge of a little village with plenty of footpaths, woods, and a huge big lake to walk or bike around. My Snowdonia garden is looking good. This flower below is on its own but looks so nice. It’s called a snakes head fritillary.

Another part of the site is a dog walk. It has a bench seat in for the dog owners to rest their legs while the dogs tire themselves out. I often walk round the site and often just sit on this bench to chill out. It’s so peaceful with just the birdsong and sheep in the nearby fields making a noise. A nice noise. I watch as birds gather nesting material and fly off to build their nests thinking they are hidden but I know where they are. It’s surprising how much you see when you just sit somewhere really quiet and watch and listen.

My Chill-out bench

Another part of the site I found this tree fungi, ugly to some but at the same time beautiful just hanging on the side of the tree looking like it was built there from wood and now the paint is starting to peel off and crack in the sun.

I went for a walk the other morning from the site, through the fields and then up through the wood towards the lake and the dam. The short stretch of single lane road I saw one car. The rest of the time I was out which was about two hours and I walked five and a half miles I didn’t see a single person. Come to think about it I didn’t see a married person either. The sun was shining, only a small breeze, the birds were singing. I had a big grin on my face. (Not a sour face). Life’s good. I saw this big bull in a nearby field. He looked happy, but then in the next field were five cows with newborn calves. That’s why he looked happy.

What you looking at, keep your distance

As you come out the top of the wood and head down the overgrown track you see the lake spread out in front of you. The view is so nice. I think you will agree. We do feel very lucky even if we can’t get out to other places at the moment.

The view as you come out the wood.

So that’s us up to date. Stay safe everybody and hopefully soon we will be back to normal. My last picture today is a weed, the good old dandelion. But to me it looks like the sun. We all need some sunshine in our lives so I am sending you all some sunshine. It even goes out to the sour faces in hope they might cheer up.

Jobs to do

As from April 1st we have been furloughed for the months of April and May. Depending what’s happening in the country after that is anyone’s guess. This means that the government will be paying 80% of our wages, so at least we can still eat and have a beer or wine as long as we can get them in the shops. We can also stay on site and if we wish do some work on site, cutting grass etc. We are not obliged to but if the mood takes me I will be out there, on the nice sunny days sat in the ride on mower cutting the grass. I also have a ever growing list of other things to do on the camper and in our compound etc. So we will not get bored. If I get bored and want to get away for a couple of nights I can start up the camper and drive round the site and have the choice of 90 pitches to stop on. Another thing I suggested to the other wardens was we put a beer and wine on certain pitches and then go to each pitch in turn and drink the beer and wine. That way we have our own pub crawl.

On part of the site is a small area which is called Snowdonia garden. This was started in May 2015 by clearing the area of brambles etc and moving some large stones to form a rockery. They were then in consultation with the north wales wildlife trust to create a topological plan to include the forests of Snowdonia. Trees already in place at the back of the garden, the rocks were to replicate the mountains of Snowdonia. The lighter more open areas to the front were planted with bee and butterfly flowers. The stone walls already there have a long standing history with the area and play an important part in accommodating wildlife and their food. These walls are all over Wales. I love them. The hurdle type fencing to the garden has been constructed from coppiced wood on site demonstrating the ancient craft, historically used to keep the sheep in.

Snowdonia garden

I really like this area and it is now my job to keep it up together and any ideas I have to put them into it. This was my choice and I am very happy about it. Treating as my own little project and doing something for the wildlife in the area and hopefully when the peaple return they will appreciate it. They better do. I spent a whole day clearing it up of all the dead plants etc. I don’t think a lot has been done to it the last Couple of years. I will continue to do bits and pieces throughout the season and watch as it changes over the months.

It’s already starting to look nice.

Some of the plants already coming out and starting to look good.

Another thing I am going to build is a bug house or bug hotel. This will be a wooden construction which will have different sections in to attract different bugs. There is one here already but I want to build another which will be better of course. Mine will be five star. It will include dead wood for wood lice and centipedes, Holes for solitary bees straw and hay for invertebrates to burrow in, loose bark and old slate etc to make other homes. The bottom of it will be an area for hedgehogs to hibernate in. Will post pics when I have built it. I can’t get hold of the planning department at the moment because they’re all working from home. I will probably just go ahead and make it and face them later.

A loverly piece of rotting wood for a home.
More rotting wood and moss covered walls

I will keep you posted on the progress as the season unfolds and let you know who has moved in. My friend the tree peeper keeps watch when I am not there.

How things change.

Towards the end of last season we got the news we were to go to Snowdonia for the season. To say we were excited is a understatement. All through the winter we counted down the days, looking at maps, google earth, websites etc. The excitement grew and grew. Go to Snowdonia Mike they said. Fantastic. I can hike up Snowdon and have a hot chocolate in the cafe at the top, I can go to the mountain bike centre and blast around the tracks and downhills and have another hot chocolate in the cafe afterwards, I can go and surf at surf Snowdonia the wave pool in a lagoon and have yet another hot chocolate after to warm up, I can walk across to the pub from the site and have a beer with the locals or a hot chocolate, I can go on the steam railways and admire the views before returning for a hot chocolate, I can fly down the zip wire at over 100 MPH and then have another hot chocolate, not before.

And now here we are on a campsite with nobody to talk to and all the cafes, pubs, and attractions or playgrounds for me as I like to call them all closed. And now today we learn we can not go anywhere unless essential which is fair enough. Luckily we went shopping yesterday, although Nikki nearly broke down in tears at the checkout. Not at the price of our shopping but she was told she can only buy three bottles of wine instead of the six she had in the basket. My beer was ok as I had multi packs and by law your not allowed to split them. So three multipacks of beer with four beers in each. Don’t call me stupid.

So for now we will be keeping the site tidy, cutting grass etc and biking round an empty site to exercise, although the tracks from here are empty so I will go out on them sometimes because i am allowed to exercise and it’s so remote there is no chance of seeing anybody and even if you do you can avoid them. Stay safe everybody. Here are a couple of pictures. This is what I have to put up with.

A view of the times

We are lucky to be in North Wales this season, big open spaces, lack of crowds etc. The unlucky part is working on the campsite. It’s been very quiet, a lot of cancellations. And now as from yesterday we are closed until the 30th June. There were only five units on site but all told to leave. We do not know what is going to happen about our job, or pay yet but will hopefully find out more this week.

The country is in a real mess with a lot of peaple panic buying and still ignoring advice not to go out unless they really have to. Ok to go out if your not going to see anybody or keep your distance. I feel sorry for Philip schofield he has only just came out and is now being told to stay in. The closing of pubs is going to cause more panic buying in the supermarkets down the beer and wine aisle. The only thing that will be left on the shelves will be Corona lager. I never really liked that beer anyway. We have never experienced anything like this before so can only listen to advice and all get through it and come out smiling. At least all the talk about Brexit has stopped.

On a positive note yesterday we had a day off, the plan was to go out for a drive to Snowdon to get some pics. We cancelled that plan. A real shame the other hundreds and hundreds of peaple didn’t. I decided to go out on my bike up around lake Trawsfyndd where the power station is. The route was all country lanes and off road. Through woodland and over the dam. I saw two peaple, one sat in his car beside the tarmac piece of track and a dog walker who was at least a hundred metres away from me. The only other living things were sheep and birds. The sun was shining and the scenery was fantastic. The whole bike ride was 12 miles. Some pictures below of the ride.

The dam wall at the end of the lake.

The dam was built in 1992. Because the power station I mentioned in my last post used the water from the reservoir for cooling. The lake water temperature rose and now the power station is closed water temperatures are back to normal.

I never get tired of these views.
Up above the lake.

The scenery is fantastic, reminds me of places we go in Spain. When I stopped pedalling my bike all you could hear were birds singing and me panting from pedalling up the hill of course. The downhill parts were nice though.

Some of the sheep’s winter clothing left behind.

Further around the lake was a very long footbridge which was built for the landowners to cross because when the dam was built and flooded the land they had to go the long way round so the bridge was built to the village of Trawsfynydd. I expect they used to heard their sheep across it also.

The long footbridge.
It’s a long way across.

When I got back to site Nikki told me the news of the site closing. The rest of the day was spent pottering about. We have to go out today to get some shopping. We won’t be panic buying.

Is there anybody out there.

We have been busy getting the site ready for all the members to flood through the gates. The opening day arrived, I opened the gates wide and five units came in on that day. We have had new bookings and we have had cancellations. But we are open and who knows what will happen as the days go on.

There is a small holding opposite the campsite entrance, a few old tractors, trailers and farm machinery. And of course the chickens and ducks. The chickens are proper free range and come across the road into the site and even wander around our compound. I doubt if they will come around when I have the BBQ going.

We love it round here, the narrow roads with the moss covered stone walls built years ago to keep the sheep in. It brings back so many memories of when I was very young and used to visit my gran and grandads farm. The tractors going past the gate instead of cars roaring past. The spring lambs are in the fields now.

The road outside the site.
View On my walk this afternoon

Not far from the site is a huge big building. From a distance it looks like it should be in Russia, I can’t explain why I think that but it just looks like it should. Probably because of what it is. It’s the Trawsfyndd nuclear power station. It was the only one in the UK to be built inland taking water from the Trawsfyndd reservoir for the cooling. It was built in the late fifties early sixties and was operational in 1965 and supplied all the electric for the whole of north wales.

The power station was closed down in 1991. The decommissioning of it started at the beginning of 1993. The highly radioactive spent fuel rods were removed and sent to Sellafield. Other contaminated materials are stored in a specially designed building on site. This will be removed for deep burial in the 2040’s Final clearance of site will begin in 2071. By 2083 the area is expected to be restored to its pre nuclear state. 124 years after construction started and 92 years after it closed. They don’t work fast around here.

Trawsfyndd nuclear power station.

The lake the power station used to get its cooling water from is called the Trawsfyndd lake. It’s 2.73 miles long and at its widest is 1.4 miles wide. I plan to walk all the way around it while we are here. It will be a long day and there is no pub on the walk so a packed lunch will be the order of the day. Nikki has already told me I will be doing it on my own.

Part of my walk today

We have a couple of days off next week so hoping for some nice weather to get out and about exploring. Coast roads and a view of Snowdon are top of the list. All weather depending of course.

The only thing I talked to on my walk today apart from myself.

The Train now standing

Our journey from Chirk to Gellilydan was in sunshine. The week before when we had gone over to see the site the journey was all overcast and the mountains were topped with cloud. Now we could see some of them had snow on. I caught a glimpse of Snowdon in the distance which had a good thick covering of snow on top. The river levels had gone down, they were still high but not overflowing into the fields anymore. The scenery was fantastic. We are going to love being in this area for the season. It was strange not having Nikki in the camper with me because she was following behind in the new car. It all worked out well.

We got to site and parked up on a pitch. The compound we were going in needed some work first. Moving slabs etc and working out the best way to get in. We had a cup of tea with Debbie and Jerry our new wardens and then I just had to set about working on the compound. Got it to the stage where I could get the camper in. It was tight but it’s in there. Once in we still have plenty of room for the car and a large area to sit out in the sun while sipping our cold drinks. We also have a pod in there which is a bathroom with our own toilet and shower in. Nikki is making that all nice. And we also have a garage which has a washing machine and a tumble dryer, fridge freezer and plenty of room for our bikes etc.

Our compound

Today was our last day of freedom before starting work tomorrow getting the site ready to open on Friday 13th, let the fun begin. I had a day off from doing the compound today, I can finish the other jobs in work time as and when.

So we had a day out in Porthmadog. Nikki needed to get some bathroom stuff and I needed to get bird feeders etc. There is also the welsh and highland railway there. Something I wanted to go on at some stage. Today was my lucky day because as we were coming past the station I could see the steam coming from one of the steam engines. We parked up and went back to the station to get some photos. I love the old steam trains.

The train now standing on platform one.
All fired up and ready to roll.

The steam built up and a blow on the whistle and the train started rolling out the station in a cloud of steam which surrounded the carriages, just like in a old movie.

And away it went heading towards the mountains. We will come back and go for a train ride and there are lots of others in the area including one that goes up snowdon.

Heading for the mountains. Full steam ahead.

Some facts and figures from our winter trip. This is for the last four months holiday.

We have travelled 1435 miles. We have put £495 worth of fuel in the camper but it is now topped right up. We put £128 worth of fuel in the little Toyota for getting about. We spent £360 on campsites. Our food bill was £1616. Out and about expenses were £785 this is lunches in cafes and pubs, nights out and site seeing etc. So all in all our winter trip cost us about £3500. That’s if you don’t take into account the new car, bike rack for the car, tow ball for the car etc. But we are working again now ready to spend it all again next winter. Who knows where we will be. U.K. or Europe or some far flung island. Will keep you posted wherever we end up and of course I will keep you updated on our season here in Snowdonia.

Another Aqueduct

Only about Severn miles from Chirk where we are staying is a small town called Pontcysyllte. Try saying that after a few beers or even worse try spelling it. Pontcysyllte has aqueduct and I just had to go and see this one as it’s so close. The name means the bridge that connects. It has eighteen arches and carries the Llangollen canal. It’s used by narrow boats daily. It’s stone and cast iron construction was built and designed by Thomas Telford. The same guy that built the Chirk aqueduct. This one took ten years to design and build. Finished in 1805 and stands 38 metres high. Yes it’s high when your stood on top.

It’s a long way to cross.
A moody shot from below.
Side in the sun.

Just by the start of the aqueduct is a boatyard full of narrow boats ready for hire. I should imagine in the summer most of them are out on hire, but today there were plenty there. I would think if you had never been on a narrow boat before, to get on one here and then go straight across the aqueduct being 38 metres up in the clouds with nothing on one side of you must be quiet daunting.

The yard full of narrow boats ready for hire.

All this walking from end to end and back down the road to get a better photo, up and down the boatyard made me hungry. It just so happens there was a really nice old chapel building that had been converted into a cafe. I love the fact that old building are being reused as such.

Pontcysyllte chapel cafe.

We only have one more week before we start work. This winter has gone by so fast and we seem to have done a fair bit. I will work out all our facts and figures when we get to our next site where we will be for eight months of work. We will stay here at Chirk until Monday and then drive over there to get set up etc. So my next post will be from Snowdonia.

My Hot chocolate in the cafe.