Busy Busy Busy

So much to do so little time. Do you know that feeling. Work certainly gets in the way of life. But it’s something we have to do, well we do. We had a very busy bank holiday on the site at Easter and the May bank holidays also. The electrics all went down on part of the site, on a Friday so we were trying to sort that at 9pm and trying again in the morning. Some peaple are ok with it, others you would have thought the world had ended because they had no electric. The funny thing is though most of them still have power in their caravan or motorhome because they have a leisure battery. All sorted in the end and no one was killed or seriously injured, nearly does not count. A couple of days later I got stung by a wasp in the night, that was more serious, I woke in the night and felt something crawling on my arm so I brushed it off….OUCH!!! The wasp had stung me, not been stung by a wasp for years. I jumped out of bed, Nikki woke up. We saw the wasp and hunted him down and destroyed him. Meanwhile my hand was throbbing like mad. Put some magic cream on the wound and watched my hand swell by the minute. Could not sleep then, the pain was really bad and I felt sick. Next morning my hand was twice it’s normal size and all up my arm. It took about four days until all was normal again.

We went away on our weekend off. We went down to the campsite near Sidmouth in south Devon, Putts corner, which is where we did our work experience. We have kept in touch with the wardens there, so was good to catch up with them. They laid on a BBQ and we walked to a nearby pub the next day. Our next weekend off we are staying around here and just going out for the days. The following one we are going back to Devon to get the camper serviced and mot done and the car at the same time.

Yesterday we had a day off and had arranged to see Nikki’s eldest boy and the grandchildren in Aylesbury where they live. They are members of the national trust so we opted to go to Waddesdon manor about twenty minutes drive from them. I was expecting a dusty carpark with about twenty cars in when we got there and a Manor House of course. Forgetting it was half term, the carpark was a huge carpark the size of two football fields and all tarmac and lined out and it was busy.

A bit of history for you on Waddesdon manor. Baron Ferdinand Rothschild wanted an estate where he could escape London in the summer months. The vale of Aylesbury, known as Rothschildshire for the number of houses owned by the family in the area was chosen. When he came into his inheritance in 1874 he purchased a bare agricultural estate. The foundation stone was laid in 1877. At that time to have an aviary was the thing to do and so an aviary was built in 1889 and was all restored a few years ago.

The whole thing amazes me, to think how they built such a fine house all those years ago and at what expense and no modern machinery. If you go on the website of Waddesdon manor you will see more info. We never went into the house. Will do that next time. Just the grounds was enough for us to do with the grandkids. I think this was the first national trust property we have visited but I think we may be doing some more, when we get time.

Big boys toys

Here we are into our seventh week of work. Who ever thought we would last this long. We have had two pay days which is really scary as we only get eight before our contract is over. We are really enjoying the job, well most of it. In my last post I told you about Nikki going out on the John Deere tractor and posted a picture of her looking all comfortable in the driving seat. She has done really well. Not to be outdone on the outside duties, I got another toy out the garage. As you can see it’s another John Deere, but it’s bigger. Big toys for big boys. Cor did I have fun cutting the big grass areas on that.

Ok that’s enough of work talk. What else have we been up to. We had a visit from some friends we met in spain. Bill and Heather, they are keen walkers and Bill used to come out biking with me. He was the really fit one but could not keep up with me on the hills because I have my E bike. He has now bought an E bike so I’ve got no chance of keeping up with him now. Really nice to see them both.

We wandered into Cirencester town last Thursday, I was desperate to get a haircut and Nikki wanted to have a browse around. Plenty of barbers in the town so I just took the easy route and went for the first one we came across. Good haircut but what a boring barber, no conversation whatsoever. I almost started to talk to my reflection in the mirror but then realised if I did that I would not get a sensible answer. After the haircut it was time for a hot chocolate and chocolate brownie. Yum yum. The weather has been fantastic especially as it was bank holiday Easter so we had a couple of BBQ’s. Can’t beat cooking outside and sipping a nice cold beer or wine in the sun.

Yesterday was our day off and we went to look at the Cirencester Amphitheatre, it’s a short walk from the site. The earthwork remains are one of the largest Roman Amphitheatres in Britain. Built in the 2nd century when Cirencester was called Corinium and was second only to London in size and importance with a population of over ten thousand. The Amphitheatre would hold about eight thousand spectators. As we walked into the arena I could hear the Romans shouting and cheering. Now you know why I never talked to my reflection in the barbers mirror. The picture below shows Nikki stood in the arena to give you an idea of the size. It would have had seating made from stone and wood and tiered up the banks and an entry and exit.

On our way back we walked into the Bathurst estate because I wanted to get some photos of the colourful dandelions. I know they are weeds, but I think a weed is only a weed if you don’t like it. I think they look spectacular and make great photos in this instance.

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.