Friday, 17 May 2013

Miranda has new boots

It's been a very traumatic day for me today.  I am not the world's greatest when it comes to parting with wads of £20 notes.

When I bough Miranda she came with a full Mercedes Benz service history.  No one other than Mercedes main dealerships had laid a finger on her.  It's 12 months since her last proper service. The place we bought her from had put a stamp in the book for an oil change, but I've no idea if they actually did the work, or just topped her up.

One quick glance at her last service bill from Sinclair had my eyes watering and it was very quickly decided that as she was no longer strutting her stuff around our fine country's capital city, her "aires and graces" would have to be kicked into touch and she would have to aclimatise herself to earning her living on the streets of Carmarthenshire - which is directly adjacent to Cardiganshire, and we all know how tight they are.

Miranda is no longer a city slicker and has to earn her living hauling our caravan around the UK, so with the longer hauls of the summer holidays looming she was booked into PC for him to feel her bumps and oil bits that needed oiling.  I trust the man and his mechanics implicitly, and he knows he has an open book with me - if it needs doing he does it.

With a full service carried out I was told that she is mechanically sound, the brakes are in good order, and the auto box is a sealed for life unit so in theory does not need servicing.  Happy days, I thought to myself.

Then came the but.  Quite a significant but as it happens.  With a glint in his eye, one of PC's finest announces that Miranda needs new tyres.  "How many?", I ask with than sinking feeling.  "Just the four!", he says before returning to the dark shadows of the workshop.

Now, there is no hiding from the fact that Miranda has big feet.  Boots for big feet are expensive.

The tyres were ordered in, and I returned this morning for them to be fitted.  Open wallet surgery followed, and I am still somewhat distraught.  A full service AND 4 new tyres in one go. Mun!!!!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Bird Shit & Wonderful People

Friday 3 May

We were supposed to be off to Freshwater East this weekend, but a bit of a misunderstanding resulted in Mrs Shag booking a pitch there until Sunday only.  Some brief research revealed that the Caravan Club site at St Davids has loads of space, so bookings were altered post haste accordingly.  @derektheweather has promised a glorious Bank Holiday weekend, so it was with some excitement that I inched the van out of it's hidey hole with the mover and coupled it to Miranda for the tow to the tip of West Wales.

The tow was easy, and I'm liking having a beast again to tow with.  The rig is rock solid, but I note that Miranda is having a few flushes when having to haul the caravan up the hill.  Nothing too bad, but she's running a little warmer than usual.

One for PC to check out next time he feels her bumps!

It's not a huge tow down there, just 74 miles from home, but the roads after St Clears are none too clever.  We arrived on site some 1hr 45 mins later in hazy sunshine and were happy to note that one field was completely empty.  We choose a pitch in here because we don't know what time tonight Mr & Mrs Shag will roll up and we have more chance of saving a pitch fro them than in the more crowded parts of the site.

We are only here for 3 nights, but we've not yet had chance to try out our new full size awning that we purchased last September.  It fits a treat, but the inside is a bit cavernous in comparison to the various porches we have used over the last few years.

We can't be arsed to cook, so it's off to find a chippy via Ck's to pick up a few odds and ends.  Why do we always pick the checkout where the 'Care in the Community' bloke is working?

Mr & Mrs Shag rock up after work at about 7pm and our part of the site is still empty so there is loads of room.

It's all hand to the pumps to get them pitched and set up before it gets dark and the site goes quiet.  Well, quite except for the the occupants on the Rookery over our heads.  Little wonder we have this part of the site top ourselves!

Saturday 4 May

We rise and the promised sunshine as not arrived in West Wales.  I tweet @derektheweather to voice my disapproval, but he tells me that Monday will be the best day.  Some bloody good that will be.  We'll be packing up to go home by then.

The Rooks overhead have been busy overnight.  I go outside and Miranda is in a sorry state.  She looks like a plasterer's radio!

I take the dogs for a walk leaving Herself in bed.  Now usually Herself is spot on in the mornings and there is normally a steaming mug of tea and a bacon butty waiting for me on my return.  Something was not right.

Slightly concerned, I approached the caravan, which was not emitting it's usual early morning aroma of sizzling bacon.  I darted into the van only to find Herself drying off her hair after having taken a shower.  At this point I'd like to say that I was brave enough to take up the issue with her there and then, but I did what every one does these days ........ moaned about it on facebook!

Herself gets out the straighteners and I realise I am in for a long wait so go about knocking up some bacon and egg rolls myself.

The skies clear after breakfast but there is a cold wind.  Windbreaks are erected and herself spends a nice few hours catching some rays and singing along to her headphones.

Roids has a game today, so after breakfast we head back towards Carmarthen to watch him play.  It didn't go too well.  He came off injured in the second half just as his side started to disintegrate before taking a lesson in rugby off a far bigger, faster and stronger team.  To be honest they did well to stay in contention for as long as they did.

The sun is out when we get back and we spend a lovely evening BBQing our tea and sinking a few beers.  The rooks are noisy, and I note that our new awning now also looks like a plasterer's radio!

We clean up after tea and settle down to an evening of chat and drink and chat before calling it a night just after midnight.  But not before Mr & Mrs Shag had done their very best to drop me in the shit by telling her in minute detail about what I had and hadn't put onto facebook that morning!

Sunday 5 May

We wake to broken cloud, but the wind is still quite cold.  Facebook tells me it's a glorious sunny morning everywhere else in the UK except the western most part of Pembrokeshire.  Which is where we are.

I get back from walking the dogs, and as I pass reception I notice that the caravan blinds are up.  Whats more I smell hot lard and bacon fumes.  Is there a smell to rival that  in the morning?  I don't think so.  I kick my shoes off in the awning and find that Herself is on a mission with a point to prove after yesterday.

I really love herself sometimes, and this is one of those times.  I climb the steps into the caravan and am greeted by a sight that brought tears of joy to my eyes.

Yes, a full breakfast, complete with a steaming mug of tea and a glass of orange juice.

I am full as a gyppo's handbag, and spot Mr Shag returning from having 'tipped the skip' having not yet even lit his Grill to Go to start cooking his breakfast.  I make the most of rubbing my full belly and grinning.  My efforts receive a two fingered salute in return.  How rude!!

Breakfast done it's time for a spin out.  I'd only ever been to Dale once before, and that was in the early 1980s.  Back then it was mildly famous for being the location of a UFO sighting.  I had a rough idea of where it was, but with the lack of a map in the car to cross reference to I programmed Miranda's on board command nav to guide us home.

It's a new system to be, and I've yet to master the user interface.  Gertrude announces that we have reached our destination some 30 mins after we left the site, and it's immediately clear  to all that we are not in Dale, in fact we are nowhere near it.

Mr Shag is using some sort of sign language at me.  The last time I saw someone shake their lightly closed hand up and down like that it was Gareth Hunt in the Nescafe advert!  Mr Shag must be thirsty after all that salty bacon he ate for breakfast!

Anyway, we turn round and off he goes to lead the way.  I'm struggling to keep up through the lanes and only just manage to contain myself as he overshoots a junction and I take the lead again.

When we arrive at Dale it immediately becomes apparent why the aliens didn't hang around back in the 1980s.  As pretty as it is, there is bugger all there!

We let the dogs off for a run and a swim on the beach but Herself can feel lots of eyes on us.  We usually attract a bit of attention where ever we go with the dogs, as we have two and Mr & Mrs Shag now have three, and they are not quiet!

Herself is uneasy and takes a walk over to the slipway and clocks the dog ban sign.  Arms are waved and warnings are shouted.  I am deaf so ignore her.  Tali decides to empty his bowels before herself arrives on the scene to remonstrate with me, and clean up after the mutt.

Suitable embarrassed and with leaded dogs we head for the cafe that has outdoor seating.  The weather is very close, and although not overly sunny, my folically challenged head is suffering somewhat!

Refreshed, and with nothing else to see in Dale we depart to find a beach for the dogs to have a good run out.  We pass through Little Haven and Nolten Haven before stopping at Broad Haven to spend some time on the beach.

All Havened out we make our way back to site, timing our arrival perfectly at 'Beer O Clock' and the sun breaking through the cloud cover.  BBQ for tea accompanied by much drinking and barking dogs.

I'm not really a nature lover, but was touched by something that I witnessed this evening.  One of the younger birds must have been taken ill or had a fall and was sat on the grass unable to move.  Over the space of about 3 hours we watched as another bird repeatedly returned to the youngster with bugs and worms for it to eat and encouraged it to once again get mobile.  The youngster did recover, so that's another one in a position to shit on my awning later tonight!

Sat in the awning after tea, with the site going quiet, the rooks started to get brave and were helping themselves to the left over food in the dog's bowls.  We spent a good hour watching as they fought and squabbled over a bowl of Purina's finest.

At one time there must have been 15 to 20 of them.  I'm telling you, Alfred Hitchcock has nothing on us.

Monday 6 May

Pack up day, and thankfully and unusually for us, it is not raining.  Actually it's sunny, so @derektheweather was spot on.  We were all packed and hitched up for the off in 2 hrs, which I consider to be good going with a full sized awning to pack away, even allowing 20 mins to wash all the bird shit from the awning roof!

Caravanners are wonderful people, and have a habit of restoring your faith in human nature.  As we were pulling off site herself made me aware that quite a few were watching us.  I put it down to the fact that I gave Miranda a little too much welly pulling off the soft grass.  As we exited the site gates I spotted a woman running after us waving and flapping.

When we stopped she told us they had seen our jockey wheel drop to the floor on the speed bump.  I cannot thank the lady enough, because if I had continued it would have wrecked the jockey wheel and probably taken the A frame with it.

Apart from that the journey home was uneventful.  Miranda behaved herself and I found that the climbs were much easier if I briefly switched over to tip-tronic mode to hold the gears manually.