Hollywood

We were due to leave Brighton and head for Henley on Thames on the Saturday but decided to extend our stay there an extra couple of day’s. The route from there was all motorway M23, M25, M4 so a boring journey. It’s an easy journey with our outfit but so boring and I hate the M25.

The six nations rugby also started on the Saturday which I always like to watch, although this year was not a good start for England, but we won’t talk about that.

We got to Henley on the Monday again in glorious sunshine. I must say the weather has been ok this winter for us. Mild and some loverly sunny days, although the temperature is not as warm as Spain or Portugal. And the beer is certainly not as cheap here. Tuesday Nikki’s eldest son came over with one of the grandchildren so we went down to Wetherspoons and had lunch. Wetherspoons never fails really, you know what your going to get, cheap beer and pub grub.

This truck conversion was also on site. Not to everyone’s cup of tea, it I love it. I could just see us down in Morocco in that parked up by the beach. Me surfing and Nikki sipping her wine under the sunshade and reading her book. That truck would get me to places other motor homes could only dream of.

I really needed a hair cut so the next day we walked back into Henley, I went into the barbers and Nikki walked right up the other end of town to a wool shop. I told her to wait until we get to wales where there will be plenty of sheep to get some wool from but she went anyway. After my haircut and her wool shopping we met up and decided to have lunch out again, spoil ourselves because our holiday time is running out. There is a pub in Henley called the Bull which we have been to before and really liked it there. So the decision was made, lunch at the Bull. And very nice it was. I loved this writing on one of the walls.

So today we hitched up headed for a campsite called chapel lane, just south of Birmingham. Not far from a small town called Hollywood, and you all thought we had got on a plane to go and see the stars. Loverly old Abby building near the entrance to the site.

And the blue sky is real. A ten minute walk away from the site is a farm shop and we had to go and check it out. We could have spent a lot of money in there but resisted. Only just though. They have a cafe which I am not going to be able to resist because they do a loverly full English breakfast. We are here until Monday when we hitch up again and head for Chester. I need to get the levelling jacks serviced and that’s about half an hours drive from that site. More expense but it has to be done.

This is where We would like to be sat right now, a nice pint of real ale, a large glass of Merlot for Nikki and let the day drift away.

The only way is up………North

After leaving Devon we went back to Wareham just to break the journey up to Brighton. I don’t really like big drives and we still have time on our side, so why rush, life is to short as it is. A chilled out two days at Wareham and on to Brighton.

The journey was good apart from the fourteen miles of roadworks on the M27 which seemed like forty miles. Arriving at Brighton in sunshine was nice and we got a pitch on part of the site we like so that was good. Another couple of days of chilling out and then a trip to Eastbourne to see Nikki’s cousin Caroline and her husband David who had said about coming over for Sunday lunch. Now when home made Sunday lunch was mentioned I was all ears. We don’t have Sunday lunch, I know a lot of peaple do but we are not one for tradition so we eat what we want when we want. But and it’s a big but I put my hand up to loving a good home made roast dinner. So my little brain was working overtime at the thought of a home made Sunday lunch. I think at one stage I even started dribbling at the thought of it. I kept saying to Nikki, I wonder if it will be beef, or chicken. Nikki said it will be roast chicken. I was secretly hoping it was going to be beef and roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings and must have gravy. Are you getting hungry now. I am having to move my iPad away from me while I type this because I am starting to dribble again. Anyway we drove to Eastbourne, found their house and on entering you could smell the dinner cooking. Something smells good I said. That’s the roast beef cooking David said. Result I thought. Really nice to see them and the dinner was spot on. We even had rhubarb crumble for afters. Yum yum.

The next day was a beautiful sunny day again so we went for a walk down to see the sea. Blue skies and sea are always good in my book. This seagul knew which way to go for his dinner.

And this guy I think has waited long enough for someone to rescue. David hassolfoff eat your heart out.

I walked right to the far end of the marina to see if any surfers were catching any waves. There were a few in, the surf was rubbish, just some wind swell, but when you live and work in Brighton it’s all you’ve got so you make the most of what’s on offer. The fishing boats were all in the marina waiting for the wind to pass before they ventured back out again.

Yesterday we went to Worthing to see my dad and Jane. Always good to catch up with them. On the menu this time was a Thai meal in a restaurant about 15 minutes walk away. Again we don’t go out much so to go out with them was really nice. I even put trousers on for the evening but you will have to believe me as no photos were taken. I did feel overdressed though. The meal was fantastic and the loverly waitress looked beautiful in traditional Thai dress. We left Worthing this morning to come back to Brighton and back to our camper.

So that’s our week in Brighton nearly over. Tomorrow is our last day here before hitching up and starting our journey northwards. Next stop Henley on Thames again to visit more friends and family. The search for another car is still ongoing but I have narrowed it down to six models now and of course we still need to sell our little tow car. We only have another five weeks of freedom left before we start back at work.

Time to leave Devon

We have been back in Devon now for just over two weeks making sure Nikki’s mum is ok. It’s been a tough two weeks because both me and Nikki also came down with bugs, properly caught from the hospital. Mine was worse than Nikki’s of course as it left me aching all over so much so that even my beard ached, that’s how bad it was. So the whole two weeks has been spent driving backwards and forwards to the hospital. We have had no time to see friends while being down here. We have not even been out for a beer. That proves how mad it’s been.

Then the good news Mi Mi was coming home, although we were not convinced she was ready for that just yet. Our thought were proven right as on the first night home she slipped off the bed and could not get back up, so at 11pm we got a call from her neighbour saying she can not get her up. A dash through the night to her flat and to pick her up from the floor. We then stayed the night sleeping on the floor to make sure she was ok. We did manage to get up off the floor in the morning. Carers are now coming in four times a day so she is in good hands. She still has a way to go but is heading in the right direction. (Be strong MiMi).

Another thing we have been thinking is we need a bigger car. Doing the job we do we have so much more stuff to carry about with us and we are really not set up for this. Our little tow car has been great, it’s tows great and is nice to have when we get somewhere so we can get about easier for shopping etc. It’s not really a long distance car and my surfboard and mountain bike are impossible to carry on it, making it a real pain. But changing the car brings its own problems. It means when we travel to the next site we will be in separate vehicles. Not really a problem as this will only happen at the start of the season and at the end of season. Some of the boxes can travel in the car, because we are carrying to much weight in the camper. Having the small car limits us so much.

When we travel like this and get somewhere I have to take all this out to get my bike out, go for a bike ride then pack it all in again, it’s like a military operation. And if it’s raining it’s a pain.

At least the weather has been great this last week, really frosty mornings but nice clear blue sky’s in the day. The car may be frosty but inside the camper is toastie.

The sunrise this morning was fantastic. I don’t mind these sort of days and if we got them all the time we would spend more time in the uk in the winter. Well maybe.

So tomorrow we head out on the road again. We have to move on and MiMi is in good hands, although it is still hard to leave. We are heading for Dorset tomorrow and then on to Brighton before we start heading north to start work. We have to head north from Brighton obviously as we will be on the south coast there. My calendar looks a right mess because we had all the sites and dates planned before we had to come back to Devon. One of the reasons i don’t like planning to much, because you never know what’s round the corner. And all the best layed plans can be changed so quickly. Just hope the weather stays good.

Back in Devon

We left Pembrey in glorious sunshine but with a cloud over us wondering how Mi Mi (Nikki’s mum) was going to be. She got her name MiMi because every time she rings up she says it’s Me, so we started calling her MiMi a long time ago and still do. The journey is virtually all motorway but it’s a long one, from Pembrey you go towards Bristol via the severn bridge and then head south on the M5 to Junction 27 Tiverton and then on the A361. It’s the Bristol Chanel that gets in the way. I suppose I could have got my surfboard out and paddled across the Chanel.

After getting to south molton where the campsite is I set everything up and Nikki went off to see her mum. MiMi had taken a fall and now has an infection on her lungs etc. She has good days and bad days. We are seeing her every day but it’s so sad to see her so weak and frail. Get well soon MI Mi.

While on the campsite I have been up the woods for walks and by the small river that runs through the site looking for photo opportunities The flowing river with a long exposure, almost looks like ice.

Yesterday I left Nikki up the hospital on her own while I went out and did a few things I had to do. Chores done I headed for the beach at Woolacombe for my lunch. Not in a pub, or a cafe, or some friends house. I had the best seat in the house as they say. Sat on this bench in the sunshine with my little packed lunch I had made earlier. Cheese and ham sandwich and a pork pie if your interested and water to wash it down with. Not as good as a nice big steak and a pint of Guinness but the location is good. I have sat on this bench many times gazing out to see, checking the surf out, thinking about life. What’s happened, what’s going to happen. The waves keep rolling in regardless of what’s happening, which is how life is I think. You have to just get on with life regardless of what’s going on. There will be hurdles along the way but you have to get over them.

About turn

The weather has been pretty kind to us at Pembrey and the time we have had here is not enough. I could easily spend a month here. I went out on my bike a couple of days ago, leaving Nikki still recovering from her fall at home. I went all along the coast path to Llanelli and beyond. About 16 miles in total. The only reason I never stayed out longer was it was colder than I thought when I set off being next to the sea, and my muscles were getting cold. Maybe I should put some long trousers on.

There’s light At the end of the tunnel.

The next day was rest day and Nikki wanted to go into Llanelli to have a mooch about. For such a big town I was surprised how run down it was. Most shops Nikki goes in I stand out side watching the world go by and looking around, above shopfront height, the paint was peeling, green alge streaks, running down the walls, and the gutters were growing their own roof gardens. The indoor market was nice but a lot of stalls closed up. By lunch time we had seen enough the rain was starting.

Looks like reindeer.

So tomorrow we set off again, this time heading for North Devon which is an about turn, we were supposed to be heading for Henley on Thames. But how things change. Nikki’s mum was taken into hospital last night after a fall. (Get well Mi Mi) so we are going to Devon to see her and make sure she is ok to go home etc. Hopefully she will be home soon and our uk tour will be back on track , it just means we will be going a different way and have to change all the dates of seeing friends and family.

Today has been a sunny day and very mild. Had time to wash the bike off and pack everything up ready for travel tomorrow. And of course one last walk down the beach to smell, listen and watch the sea.

Some fungi in the forest.

Always look on the bright side of life.

After our Christmas Day pint on the beach. Ok I admit it was two drinks, you have to have a balanced diet and one is an odd number. That’s my excuse anyway. Boxing Day was a miserable day weather wise so we just had a chill out day inside.

Staying in is not good for me as I get cabin fever and so it’s not good for Nikki because I get on her nerves and tend to wind her up. We wanted to go out on the bikes so I said whatever the weather tomorrow I am going out on my bike, are you coming. Yes she says. Nikki has not been on her bike for a year, the last time being in Spain and the weather this day was not like being in Spain. But she got wrapped up and off we went along the coast path which would have been really nice if we could see anything through the misty drizzle. We biked to Burry Port, the next small town along from Pembrey. On the way back Nikki took a corner wrong and the front wheel went down a pothole in the grass and yes, she was off, lying on the floor groaning. I stopped and asked her what she was doing down there and to stop doing all these tricks. Joking aside she did hurt herself and think she has cracked a rib or badly bruised it and hurt her knee.

The next day we went to Carmarthen to visit some friends. A couple we met on the campsite in Cirencester. When they knew we were going to be at Pembrey they said we must come to visit. Really nice to catch up with them and the home made soup they made for lunch was loverly.

The next day we went to Gowerton to visit some more friends. They are also wardens and we met them when we were working at Tredegar. They are babysitting a site. Was nice to see them. It’s hard work this four months off you know. Going here going there.

Yesterday I went out on my bike, on my own all around the forest tracks. Only a short ride around but managed to do fourteen miles. (Without falling off). Nikki stayed at home. Then when I got back she said she was going to go for a walk down the beach. I can’t stay away from the beach for long so I went with here and walked another four miles.

Pit stop on the forest tracks

And the one that Nikki didn’t falloff thank god.

Today we went to Kidwelly to visit the castle. The castle is right on the banks of the river Gwendraeth. And this very castle was used in the opening scene of Monty Pythons film the Holy grail. Now you know where the blog title comes from. I love old buildings and castles etc. Kidwelly is only a ten minute drive away. Another small town. We got there early so no one else was in the castle. It amazes me how they built these castles all those years ago. Wales is home to so many castles. Some are just outside walls that are left but this one was looking good seeing how long it has been stood there, and all the things that have happened to it through it’s life.

Can you imagine what life was like peering out a window this size and seeing the enemy coming towards you. Today you look out at the church.

We were there about an hour wondering around, I went up as high as I could climbing a spiral stone staircase which was dark and damp and as low as I could climbing down into the bottom of the castle which would have been where the prisoners were kept. Some great views from the top.

After we got back from the castle and had lunch I was off out again to Burry port. I wanted to get my hair cut and had spotted a barbers while we were there the other day. WARNING do not get your hair cut in Burry port. The lad that cut my hair looked like he had just got off his paper round and found some scissors, or got some for Christmas and decided to play with them. Luckily I came out of there with my ears still attached to my head. I think I would have been better off going up into the Welsh hills and finding a sheep farmer with a pair of shears. Hope he finds another job soon.

So that’s us for another year. The last two months since we finished work have flown by. We still have another two months off before we start work. And more places to go and more peaple to see. So we wish you a happy new year and a prosperous 2020.

The king of the castle.

Yule log

We left Tredegar in glorious sunshine and headed west along the M4 towards Pembrey. You’re on the motorway for about an hour, passing the built up area of port Talbot with its huge industrial area of the steel works belching out smoke and steam. The steel works employs about 4000 peaple so most of the houses in that area must have someone who works there.

When you come of the motorway you head for Llanelli which is the biggest town in Wales. Can someone please tell them they need a relief road to take all the traffic out of the town. We hit the traffic and it was stop start stop start all the way through the town. I always know it’s going to be a challenge when I see signs that say town centre and the sat nav is sending us that way. This was no exception, multiple lanes, small roundabouts, buses and lorry’s, one of which very kindly tucked his mirrors in other wise we would have had a big scratch all along the side of the camper. But we got through.

We arrived at site, checked in and parked up. Nikki made a quick sandwich. I was busting to get down the beach, just to breath in the sea air and hear the waves crashing on the beach. So she left all the sorting out and off we went to the beach. It’s about a mile away, a ten to fifteen minute walk, and we could hear the sea from the site.

When peaple asked us what we were doing for Xmas, we told them we were going to be near the beach and on Xmas day we would be going down the beach and having a drink on the beach. We got to the beach and took a deep breath of salty air. I spotted a washed up log ( Yule log ) and decided that was to be our seat on Xmas day.

After a quick walk up and down part of the beach we returned to the camper to get settled. The next day Xmas eve the weather had changed and it was showers but we still went out for a small drive along the coast to Burry Port. Burry Port is a tiny little town, a bit run down but has a train station and a marina. I expect in the summer it’s bustling but the same as a lot of seaside towns in the winter goes dead.

Christmas morning we got up and Nikki cooked a big breakfast consisting of eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding (only for me) beans , mushrooms, fried potatoes. Can you feel your arteries closing up. We don’t do this every day I must add. This was going to see us through the day, well most of it. The weather was fantastic, the wind had dropped, the sun was out and the sky was blue. Breakfast done, washing up done, by me I will add and as said before I don’t do that everyday.

Rucksack loaded ( survival rations) and off we go to the beach hoping that my Yule log has not been taken away by the tide.

It was still there so happy days. There were a few other people, about ten I think I counted on the beach but we knew they would be going home soon to their turkey dinner. It was midday at this point. As we poured our drinks and sat on our Yule log grinning like Cheshire cats and sipping our drinks we realised how lucky we are to able to do stuff like this which costs nothing and gives so much pleasure. When so many families, couples, singles, kids etc are doing stuff on this day they don’t really want to but feel they have to. I think we have got it right. We got some funny looks from passing peaple, but then that normally happens with us. I think it’s Nikki. So I would just like to wish you all Happy Holidays. Cheers or as we are in Wales Yaki Da

Memories

After our day, well not a whole day but four or five hours in Cardiff we had a chill out day. A man can only walk around so many shops.

Another thing on my to do list while in this part of Wales was to visit Taff’s well, a small town just north of Cardiff. Taff’s well was where my dads parents lived after moving out of the farm they worked up in the hills. I used to go there as a kid to visit them and still have memories of the house and my gran and grandad living there. I remember my gran making welsh cakes and my grandad letting me do toast on the open fire by putting the bread on a long fork and holding it near the fire, it tasted so good. They are long gone now but memories still live on. I think the last time I was there was in 1977, I have a old photo somewhere of me and my car, a 1966 VW beetle parked outside the house. It’s only about a 25 minute drive from where we are staying so off we went. No problem finding it because I had looked on google street view beforehand.

The town of Taff’s well had got a lot busier than I remember with new layouts on the road etc. But the house was still standing and looked exactly the same from the outside as it had all them years ago.

The front door which behind have so many nice memories.

Our next trip out from Tredegar was to go and visit friends in Porthcawl further along the coast. Friends we met through the VW scene. Ant and kath and there two kids who are now 13 and 9. The eldest Elliot was only three or four when he used to come to the VW shows with mum and dad and I always used to buy him Haribo sweets. Aimee was just a bump In mums tum at one of the meets and Ant was worried she was going to give birth and the baby would be English, but he managed to get back across the bridge before Aimee was born a couple of days later. We found there house easy enough and presented Elliot and Aimee with a selection box of Haribos each. Made them smile. Was really good to catch up with them after not seeing them for about ten years. How time flys.

We left them after a couple of hours as it’s a busy time for them. We drove along the coast road and had lunch in a new cafe overlooking the sea at rest bay.

Tomorrow we will have a chill out day as it’s our last day here before moving on Monday to Pembrey further along the coast where we will be over Christmas and new year, and only a five minute walk to the beach.

At the end of a rainbow they say there’s a pot of gold. This rainbow seemed to miss us. Maybe next time.

Cardiff

We left Cheddar in sunshine, travelled up the M5 and across the Severn bridge into Wales and it was still sunny. Booked in at Tredegar house campsite. Again one we have been to before but the last time we were here we were working. Not this time. Pitched up and it’s still sunny. All is looking good here in Wales.

While here we wanted to go into Cardiff , round the shopping arcades, castle, Cardiff bay etc. Now the big decision, how do we get there. Bus, takes an hour and costs £9 each, park and ride, your almost there when you drive to get the bus so we thought we will drive in to the city. Check out the carpark prices on line. (Remember Brighton) Well we got a surprise. St David’s shopping centre has a multi story carpark which is reasonably priced. So that was our choice. We left early yesterday morning, well about 9am, it’s only a half hour drive. All parked up in the city of Cardiff by 9.45am. Get the lift to ground floor and that was fun. The lift door opens we squeeze in, there’s about 15 peaple in there. We end up stood next to a dad holding a young lad who stares at me, so in loud voice I announce to him I am not farther Xmas. ( I do have a grey beard for those that don’t know me). Nikki goes bright red with embarrassment and everyone else in the lift roars with laughter. It’s a good start to the day.

We had no interest in the modern St David’s shopping centre, well when I say we I should have said me, although Nikki wanted to see the old arcades so that’s where we headed. The oldest arcade the royal arcade built in 1858. Some of the shops still have the original shop fronts although the things they sell have changed. Most of the arcades are a mix of Victorian and Edwardian buildings which is really nice. Some loverly places to eat as below.

The weather was due to rain in the afternoon and I wanted to walk down to Cardiff bay and mermaid quay so after a couple of arcades Nikki suggested we walk down there while it was fine. She has some good ideas sometimes. Off we go towards the bay. Poor Nikki did not realise how far it was but she stuck with it and we got there. It was a bit chilly with a cool breeze. From the start of the walk you could see the top of the Millennium centre, it got closer the colder Nikki got. Worth the walk though just to see what a great building it is.

Being winter time a lot the cafes are closed and there is a lack of peaple about which is nice. I wanted to get more photos so walked across to mermaid quay. I love the Peirhead building which was built in 1897 often called little Big Ben. Just the colour and the placing of it are great.

Inside is a museum. By this time Nikki was getting cold and had spotted a Wetherspoons so the decision was made to go for a coffee in the warm. I carried on taking some more photos while she went to get the drinks and find a seat.

Normally the whole of this area would be buzzing with peaple and the pub would have been packed but not today. After our coffee and hot chocolate we started the long walk back into the city. By this time we were getting hungry so we’re looking for somewhere to have some lunch. When I get hungry I get moody so it normally doesn’t take us long to find somewhere to eat. Nikki knows the sign after all these years. We found this really quirky looking cafe so went in. We asked the two girls behind the counter if they do food, yes was the answer menus are on the tables. They managed to say this without even taking there eyes off their phones, amazing really. We sat down, again only one other couple in there. We sat there, we waited and we waited some more. My belly is now rumbling very loudly. What shall we do says Nikki. I am leaving and stand up put my coat on and leave closely followed by Nikki. I don’t think the two girls even realised we had gone. I expect they would have when there phone battery run out.

We very quickly found another small cafe. Run by a Romanian family and what a difference, happy smiley faces greeted us and nothing was to much trouble. Bellys full so off to see the rest of the arcades, there was also a big Xmas market on. Loads of different stalls. I know we don’t do Xmas but when you spot a stall selling the most chocolatey cakes you have ever seen you have to join in for five minutes. Five hours in a city is enough for me and the dark clouds were gathering overhead so we decided it was time to go home. £7 to park which I thought was not bad really. We had a good day, had a nice lunch and walked about six miles in total and as always had a good laugh. Play it again Sam.

Cheddar….not the cheese

We arrived at Cheddar in glorious sunshine. Booked in and pitched up. Again it’s a campsite we have used before so know the area and the pubs, which we said we were staying out of this time. When we checked in the wardens remembered us and were saying about the nice pub down the road. The Bath arms is a loverly pub, a bit expensive but very nice. The last time we were in cheddar we went there with friends. Never say things you don’t mean. So another town another bar was the order of the day. Just sometimes a little voice in my head says, you know you want a pint down the pub, go on, you know you want to. I suggest it to Nikki and before I have got the words out of my mouth she has her coat on and is waiting at the door. So off to the Bath arms we went. Got to admit it was nice being back in there, sat by the window watching the world go by. Everyone rushing about doing their Xmas shopping or going home from work.

While here I planned to walk up cheddar gorge cliff walk. But the next day the weather was so bad with storm Atiyah hitting the UK I cancelled that plan. I don’t like just sitting in the camper staring out the window. After a while I start to lick them. Now and again is fine when you just want a nothing day. But more than that I start to go stir crazy.

What are we going to do today says Nikki. We wanted to go to Glastonbury but neither of us wanted to just go there, roam about in the rain and then come home. What about Clark’s shopping village she says. Oh great roaming around shops, I can’t wait. NOT At least it’s gets us out for the day. A whole day around shops I say, I would rather sit here and lick the windows.

So off we go in the car to Clark’s shopping village. We park up and pay. The shopping village is just a load of shops. A lot of them are discounted and factory shops. The first shop I see is Tog 24 and it reminds me I need a new waterproof coat so in we go. Now me and shopping are not two things you put together. I tried on, not one but three coats, different sizes, different colours and still could not make my mind up and walked out with nothing. We browsed the other shops and had lunch. Nikki got some shoes. On the way back to the car we stopped in Tog 24 again and again we come out with nothing. Back at the car Nikki says you should have got that coat it was nice and looked good on you and you need one. Shall I go back in and get it. Yes. So I go back to the shop, I pick up the one I had decided on, try it on, put it down, pick up the other one try it on put it down, this goes on for another 15 minutes and in the end I buy the most expensive one, not the one I went back for. I waited until we were driving away from the shops to tell Nikki that and there was no way I was going back. It is a nice coat though and yes I did need it.

The next day was windy but dry with the odd shower so we went for walk up into cheddar, I wanted to get some photos. The gorge is fantastic from every angle and the town itself has some great old shops. This time of year is very quiet so not a lot of peaple about.

There was plenty of water around due to all the rain we had over the last couple of days. This cafe looked very inviting with the bike outside. Makes a great photo.

We walked past all the shops into the gorge. I wanted to get some photos so I walked on a bit further while Nikki strolled back down towards the shops. Most of which were closed thankfully. There were some sunny spells and the sunlight lit up the gorge in places and cast shadows on others.

Just up the road from the campsite is a huge big farm that has a market/ boot sale on every Sunday and also includes some antique stores. It’s all indoors so weather not a problem. It’s our last day here today so we decided to go there for a look around. The usual boot sale stuff was of no interest but some of the antique stalls and collectables were really nice to look around.

Tomorrow we leave cheddar and head for Tredegar, in Newport South Wales. Another site we have been to before but last time we were working there. This time we can stare out the windows and watch others working. But no window licking, but I must say the windows do look clean.