Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Patience Patience

We really enjoy time away in the caravan, it does not have to be far away, just away from home.

For a weekend, if your intention is just to laze around the van, take in the surroundings and blow the frosh off a couple of cold ones, I really see no point in towing for miles and miles after work on a Friday.

With the start of 'The Season Proper' still over a month away the hard bit is going to be resisting sneaking in a cheeky weekend away.  This is difficult though, as it's getting close to 'The business end' of Jnr#2's rugby season, and Sundays are match days.

So I think it best to come to terms with the fact that we will not get away until Easter, where Pembrey CC site is our destination, not far but what with people's work committments and the reason given above, it doesn't really matter.

Later in April, herself and I would have been married for 20 years.  In 1992 we honeymooned in Cornwall, so that is where we are going back to for a few nights.  We are heading to Trewethet Farm CC site on the north coast near Tingadel.  A long way to tow for 3 nights, but heyho!

Mayday bank holiday weekend is taken up with a rugby festival at Usk showground near Abergavenny, where the intention is to stay from Friday to Monday on their camping field.

For the late May bank holiday a trip down to St Davids in West Wales is planned.  Pembrokeshire is a lovely part of the world.

Destination for the Summer holidays is undecided.  We can't have time off at the same time as caravanning friends, so we may just not book anything and wing it when the time comes.

August bank holiday and we are back at Pembrey for the weekend and late October a week at Longleat CC site is planned.

If we manage to fit in a few cheeky weekends amongst that lot, we will have quite a busy season.

So as the title say .......... Patience Patience...........

Monday, 20 February 2012

Bitter taste

In a previous post I mentioned we took a trip out to Lake Vyrnwy on Friday.  It is a lovely place, but a plaque fixed to a wall near the dam left a bitter taste and took the shine off the visit for me.

It said simply .... Thanks from the Liverpool Corporation.

Lake Vyrnwy was created during the 1880s in order to provide a storage reservoir of safe water for the city of Liverpool. The river Vyrnwy was blocked up by a huge masonry dam, the first of its kind to be built in Britain. As the water built up behind the dam, the valley and the village of Llanwddyn were flooded. The dam measures 26 metres (84 feet) from the bed of the lake to the sill for the overflow, it is 357 metres (1172 feet) high and the base is 36.5 metres (120 feet) wide. The water left the lake along an aqueduct or pipeline at the start of its journey to Liverpool, some 70 miles away. These photographs show the construction of the dam and aqueduct between 1881 and 1889.

Above is a picture of the village before it was drowned, just so the English can drink.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Daisy bank and Harry Tuffins Roadkill

Well, what a tow that was!  All was going well until we passed Llandrindod Wells.  Despite the fact that Mandy the Mondeo has 1.5 tonnes of caravan fastened to her arse, tomtom decides to have some fun with us, and we arrived at Daisy Bank after a rather interesting tow through and over the Marches.

Mandy copes quite well though, actually a lot better than herself and I.

After setting up yesterday we didn't stray too far, just down the road to the brilliant Harry Tuffins supermarket in Churchstoke.  They sell anything and everything in that place.

After a lamb chop dinner we settled down for a rather pleasant evening in the van.

Herself and I actually had a conversation or two....... which was nice!

Woke up this morning with the sun doing it's best to peak through the clouds. A trip out to Llangollen and over the Horseshoe pass is planned.  If Mandy was hoping for an easy day after yesterday's events, she's in for a bit of a let down.

Our set up and the view from it at Daisy Bank

And the view from our window.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Grand day out

Herself is having a bit of trouble with her ankle, and extended walks are out of the question today, so like a pair of pensioners, flask of tea made, we set off on a jolly for the day.

Heading north through some fantastic countryside we make our way to Llangollen.  It strikes us that not many poor people live in these parts, the roads are awash with BMW X5s and Range Rover Sports, and the average property price must be upwards of 300k.

Llangollen is very picturesque and we are treated to the sight of 'Thomas The Tank' steam locomotive leaving the station.  We head up onto the Horseshoe pass, climbing quite steeply to the summit.  Herself is rather reluctant to get out of Mandy, and at 1368ft, it was a bloody coat colder exposed to the elements, and I can't really blame her as she only has a 'Town Coat' with us.

The Penderosa Cafe sits on the Summit and was doing a roaring trade, but playing at being pensioners we has come armed with a flask!  I walk the dogs whilst herself gets a brew on for us in Mandy.

The Horseshoe pass is a great piece of road, and I secretly wish I was 20 years younger, with a bit more bottle to have a good go at it.

Some flowers strapped to a tree on one of the bends brings me back to my senses and I ease off the gas and herself starts to relax a bit more.

Back in Llangollen it's shorts and tee shirts weather  compared to up on the top, and lunch is provided by the local Co-op in the shape of egg sarnies and crisps, as we head south in search of a picnic spot.

Can I find one? Not for the bloody life of me.  This area seriously lacks picnic spots.

Herself can tell I'm getting agitated and offers me s sandwich to eat while driving.  I bite her head off and we carry on until I stumble across a picnic site at somewhere invitingly called 'Oswestry Old Racetrack'. In reality, although very scenic, it id just somewhere that the good people of Oswestry take their dogs to shit!

Ours get to stretch their legs again before we head back to the site, stopping off at 'Harry's' for provisions.

I like a good spin out I do, sussed out a few caravan sites for future reference as well.

Spent the evening happily cwtched up in the van with some Cobra beer for company.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Flags and Road Kill

After a lazy morning doing nothing much at all except have a lie in and scoff bacon and egg rolls, we decided to head off out for the rest of the day.

With no particular destination in mind I looked at a leaflet handed out by the site that promises a farmer's market no less in Ludlow.  So off we set, only we get to Ludlow, and it's a quaint enough place with roads going through houses and everything, but could we find the bloody market?

From there we make our way back to Bishops Castle where we park up and have a little mooch.  Just craft shops and stuff, herself is not very impressed, but we do buy some stuff in a pet shop.

Now there's two things that have struck us about this area.

  1. Flags.  They are everywhere.  All the roads criss cross the border, and it seems that the locals are fiercely proud of which side they live.  It seems that every other property is either flying Y Ddraig Goch or The Coss of St George.
  2. Road kill, there is lots of it, rabbits, foxes, grouse......... One lady was even pulling into the petrol station with a grouse tangled in her front grill!
Anyway, we are on our way to Montgomery to have a mooch around there, and we add to the roadkill total as a bunny wabbit runs straight out under Mandy.  Herself is upset.  I thought it best not to ask if it would be ok to go back and pick it up for the stew pot!

Sorry, my mistake, there are three things that have struck us about the area. The third being Castles, and lots of them.  Not proper tidy ones like Pembroke or Kidwelly, but lots of little dwtty ones, or big country houses pretending to be castles.

We arrive in Montgomery and I am starting to get that sinking feeling again.  My only previous experience of this town is its frequent mentions on BBC Wales Today News or BBC Wales documentaries with Derek the Weatherman bumping his gums about the place.  Well, sorry Derek, but it's a shithole, and I'll stick to watching it on BBC thank you very much!  Oh, and it's castles don't allow dogs in the grounds either.

Never mind, newly bought AA road atlas tells me that Powis Castle is not too far, so off we go.  We get as far as the entrance gates, and the welcome sign is not very welcoming.  No dogs allowed, says the sign in  big bloody letter at the entrance to the estate!

Are you starting to get a feel for our day out yet?

Things are now getting a little fraught in Mandy, herself and I have words, but a local nature reserve comes to the rescue, and we spend a pleasant half hour strolling around ( we even did a bit of twitching), albeit with the dogs not allowed off their leads.

I start to feel guilty and want to buy herself a decent outdoor coat cos hers is Ok for in town and stuff, but no good in the Great Outdoors.  I remember that we passed a mountain warehouse shop yesterday on the way North.  Can I find it again though? Can I *#*#! and after some miles I just give up.

Not a very good success rate today is it?

I spot a brown tourist sign for Lake Vyrnwy, so with the dogs desparate for a stretch we head off in that direction. Ten miles and numerous brown signs later we come accross another sign that tells us the lake is 16 miles further.

Call me picky, but if you see a brown tourist sign for an attraction, and that attraction is 26 miles away, the sign should bloody well warn you it's that far.

You've seen Chevvy Chase in National Lampoons going to Wally World?  Well that is now me at the wheel hurtling though the Welsh hills!  We are now on a mission, and we will see the lake.

After some driving that Gwyndaff Evans would have been proud of, we arrive (Hooray!!!) , and it's a stunning place.  We drive over the dam wall and head up the southern shore looking for somewhere suitable to stop off.

We walk along the shore, the dogs take a dip in the icy water, and we see some of the biggest picnic tables ever.

Time to head back to site, via Harry's for provisions of course.  The awning is now down and packed away ready for the off in the morning, settling in with a nice chilli and a few bottles of Perroni to wash it down.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Missing The Shogun

Woke this morning to a howling wind and the threat of rain.  Any ideas of a leasurly breakfast were quickly dispersed with, and we got on with the task of packing up to head off.

Just as we finished, herself takes the dogs off for a walk and the heavens opened.

Back in the car, hitched up and ready to go, my newly purchased AA road atlas gets consulted.  Tom Tom wants to take us back towards Bishops Castle and then the A488 through Knighton to Llandrindod Wells.  Don't let the 'A' classification fool you with this road, it makes for a rather interesting tow indeed (as we found out on Wednesday).

At 111 miles it's 16 miles longer than Tom Tom's preferred route, but the plan is to head for Newtown, Llanurig, then the A470 to Newbridge on Wye and then Llandovery and Home.  A much easier road to tow on.

Ah yes, The Shogun and missing it.

I was lucky enough to tow with big 4x4s from 2007 onwards, and since 2008 we had The Shogun.  The beast was a great towing machine, but this summer I was finding it increasingly difficult to justify to myself the huge ammounts of money it was costing just to put fuel in her.  So we changed to Mandy.

Stability at speed isn't an issue, because the caravan is fitted with Alko's Trailer stabilty device, but today whilst driving home, it rained and it rained and it rained.  real proper Welsh heavy rain too, leaving inches of standind water on the roads, and at times Mandy was scrabbling for traction.

Anyway, home safe, van emptied and put away.  Now where to go next?

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

All aired and ready to go

Just been out to the van and it's toasty warm.  Looking nice and cosey for our trip to Daisy Bank.

Trips to London over the New Year aside (which is different because the van only gets used as a bedroom, what with being out in the city for long hours), we usually don't caravan from end of October until Easter because generally it's too cold and wet. I know the van is well insulated and cosy, but it was still a trapse in the cold to the shower block.

Well people, I am hoping that this new van will change all that.  It has a full size fixed double bed, so no more battling with the slats every night, but the very bestest of all is the separate washroom at the rear. It has a separate walk in shower cubicle that is more than big enough for me to get my very generous arse into and have a good shower.  Loads of elbow room on bog too, so this one gets the dubious pleasure of being used for both number ones and twos.

Both herself and I are itching to get away in her, and with Feb half term looming, the temptation was too good to resist.  Now the only problem with this time of year is that many sites are closed, and the ones that are open are fully booked.  Finding a site was proving difficult, then I had a brainwave.  As the boys were not coming with us the new world of Adults Only sites opened up to us, and unlike sites open to kids, these would not be enjoying the half term rush of other sites.
Some googling and UKCS research saw a front runner emerge, and on Wednesday we are off to .

It's a fully serviced pitch for the bargain price of £50 for 3 nights.  That means no fetching water or emptying the waste.

So, with the forecast checked (no below zero temperatures forecast) the heating has been on in the van for a few days to ensure the bed is aired out, and we are ready to roll.