Sunday, 21 June 2015

Senior moments at Costa del Pont y Cob .... with a view of the marsh

The beauty of caravanning is the freedom it gives you. You just can't put a price on the ability to get up and go at a moments notice.  Herself had decided on our way home from Devon that she didn't really fancy going home yet, so a cheeky little trip away was on the cards.

Friday 19 June

We pull up outside our house and empty Miranda straight into the caravan before inching  her out of her cwtch onto the road.  Once that was done I get my fingers working on my ipad looking for a pitch for the weekend.  The CC at Pembrey and Golden Coast are quickly ruled out as they are fully booked due to the Welsh Game Fair this weekend but I manage to bag a pitch at the CC site at Gowerton - Costa de Pont y Cob.

The van is in a sorry state and is covered in streaks of bird shit, I am of the opinion that Nelson's column is in a better state, so we detour to Morrisons at Trostre to give her the good news with the jet wash for 10 mins before heading to site.

In our haste to leave I had totally forgot to fit my towing mirrors, this made the last few hundred meters to site along the marsh road and over the narrow humped back bridge a little interesting to say the least. I was concentrating that much that I almost missed Rugby Ref and his better half making their way in the opposite direction towards their static at Broughton.

The warden informs Herself that we were lucky as we booked the last available pitch for the weekend.  I reverse onto a pitch in our usual space, where there is a gap in the treeline that affords a view over the marshes, and we are set up in  no time at all.

Before we could complete the setting up procedure, Herself informs me that she is under orders to return to reception STRAIGHT AWAY to inform Heir in Charge what pitch we have taken.  She's gone and is returning flanked by the two male wardens as they march back to out pitch.  My mind is working overtime as they approach, racing to work out what rule we have broken.  We are on pitch 116, but Herself had read the number on the peg upside down and told Heir in Charge that we were on 119.  The sarcastic dressing down that ensued was unnecessary, but I join in just for good measure.

A brief trip out to Asda for beer and a curry is as far as we went and we return to site to set up our chairs at the back of the van to make the most of the evening sun shine, guzzling beer with a view to the west, looking over to the promised land as the sun sets.

Saturday 20 June

I'm up quite early and take the dogs out for a walk.  It's not sunny but it's quite warm, and a couple of laps ensures that my forehead is like Niagra falls and my tee shirt sticking to me.  I'm a right mess by the time we head back to the van and bump into Herself's cousin who is also staying on site.

The site is coming to life and smells of frying bacon   I look out of the window and the magpies are fighting over food left in dog bowls and an aging hippy stopping in an aging hippy lorry does her early morning stretching exercises alfresco.

We skip breakfast, pile into Miranda and head west towards the game fair being held at Pembrey.  It's a big event and very popular, so it's always best to get there early before the throngs.

We hand over the (extortionate) £12.50 each and are directed to the car park.  The next few hours are spent looking at guns, knives, more green and waxed clothing than is good for you, chickens, hounds and 4x4 vehicles.

Having already been ripped off for £10 for two burgers there was no way I was going to part with another £12 for two pints, so we both decided that we'd seen enough and headed for home.

Well not quite, we stopped at the Sandpiper in Pwll for a pint in the beer garden (once we'd found the dog friendly way in, which involved leaving the car park, finding a path and taking a walk along the lake side until the steps to the beer garden comes into view).

Herself had suggested nibbles, some nuts or crisps or something, and was none too impressed when I came back our empty handed.  the atmosphere at our table was a little frosty until this arrived and harmony restored once more.  A platter to share ..... Herself was allowed the lemon and celery whilst I devoured the rest.

Back on site we set up the chairs once more at the back on the van, I pour us a few pints of scrumpy that Coupons had bought us in Devon and we settle down for a few hours of "Personal Contemplation" as the sun sets on a long day.

I wake with a start as I swallow a fly and almost topple off my reclined chair.  In my frantic flapping about I also wake Herself, who is torn between giving me disapproving looks and laughing uncontrollably.

The sun goes in behind some rather thick clouds and it's threatening to rain.  We spend the rest of the evening relaxing in the van and people watching.  Despite it being 7pm and the sun has decided not to come out and play anymore today, the ginger family on the pitch opposite us are slapping on the factor 50!

We are also amused by a young family next door who have parents staying in a van opposite.  Grandad has cooked tea on his Cadac outside his spanking new Unicorn.  The Grand kids are obviously not allowed in the brand new van and food is carried across our paddock for them all to squeeze into the families much smaller and older Ranger.

Sunday 21 June

No choice today as we both have work tomorrow, we have to go home.  I am up by 7am and faff about on my ipad while Herself catches some extended zzzz.

She stirs at 9am and we set about breaking camp.  She sorts the inside of the van while I do all the outside stuff.  The canopy comes down and is packed away dry, rubbish taken to the bins, bog and waste emptied, fridge vents closed, antenna down, electric unplugged and coiled up with just the legs to wind up ready for the off.

This is where my morning goes slightly awry.  You see, I've been doing rather a lot of DIY of late in the garden, and the drill I usually keep in the van for the job has been pressed into other service, and due to our unplanned departure on Friday was in an uncharged state.  This necessitated the rather unpleasant task of winding the steadies by hand.

I'd brought the drill with me and put the battery onto charge ready for departure day and stashed the drill in the front locker (*please read disclaimer below).  Well, I opened the locker to get out the drill, but could i find it?  My fault I suppose as when we are on site I rarely lock up the locker.  I emptied it twice just to be sure, but no it wasn't there.

Herself insisted she hadn't touched it, so that left only one conclusion in my mind. It had been stolen!  I look around our close accusingly, and top of my suspicion list is the shifty looking geezer opposite with a for sale sign on his van.  I also take the opportunity to warn every passer by that there is a thief on site, and to watch their stuff.

I speak to the warden, but he's uncooperative in my request that he lock the site down and we get the rozzers in to search every outfit on site, until the culprit is nailed.  Herself is losing the will to live and proceeds to wind up the legs by hand herself and hitch up the van.

Anyways, we are out of the gate and on the road by 9.30 am and pulling up at home by 9.45 am.  I've moaned all the way home so Herself dives straight into the van to conduct a search, emerging just 2 minutes later waving some sort of orange hand tool in the air.  I swear she knew where it was all along!

*I can now remember separating the drill from it's battery pack, putting the thing to charge and stashing the drill on a shelf in the wardrobe until it was ready to be re-coupled with it's power pack and stashed in the front locker.  I never got as far as step 3!

And why someone would go to the trouble of stealing a drill without a battery is beyond me!

Until next time ..... da bo.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Moor View .......... but without the view of the moor

Another trip and another blog, only this time sans caravan.  Herself and I occasionally take a break away with the olds (in the shape of Nanna Creaky, Grandpa Grumbles and Nanna Coupons).

Monday 15 June

Herself has her treatment today at HMP Prince Phillip, so the plan is for the olds to start ahead of us and we would catch them up when they've sorted out her release papers. The savage is travelling with us and by 11am I'm pulling into PPH to collect herself.  She's not looking too well, and her being sat outside on a bench waiting to be collected has obviously involved a fair bit of fib telling to the nurses.

Never the less, we join the M4 at J48 and Miranda's cruise control is set to hunt down the olds like a pack of dogs. We pull into Magor services.  The olds are nearly finished but Herself needs some food to try and ease the nausea.

It is mental here and it would appear that every school from the west coutry is on their school trip to Wales.  We witness some poor kid who's been sent on a school trip with no packed lunch and no spending money.  The teachers were chipping in to buy him a McDonalds!

The chase resumes and we hunt them down at Taunton Dean services, where Creaky has insisted they stop for yet another caffeine shot!

We are pulling off the Devon Expressway and into Moor View Lodges at just before 3pm.  Checking in was uncomplicated and we are directed to the lodge.  It's lovely and has 3 bedroom, two of which are ensuite. Ash Lodge is set among the trees with a large private garden, but those trees ensure a view of the moor it has not.

As we're unloading I clock Herself looking down at the floor near to Grumbles and shaking her head in dis belief.  It would appear that he is wearing odd shoes, and these are the only two shoes that he has with him.  Of course, it is my fault.  I called on them this morning while he was putting them on and distracted him.

We settle in, leave Grumbles, Creaky and the savage to it while we head off to Kingsbridge and their new Tesco to get in some booze and food.

After a BBQ evening meal we just chill for the rest of the evening pouring over a few maps planning tomorrow's excursion.

Tuesday 16 June

After a good night's sleep on the very soft beds I get up at 7am and Grumbles has already been out with the savage for a walk.  Everyone else is up by 9am and by some sort of miracle (or divine intervention) we are all full with a cooked breakfast, showered and dressed, and loaded up into Miranda for a day out.

We did have a bit of an incident though.  Herself had been worried about Grumbles' feet, but he said not to worry because he had sandles.  Now, I know that old men and socks and sandles go together, and am willing to accept that ..... just ......... but when the socks are black with shocking pink toes and heels ..........  Herself raids my sock stash and he is ordered to change post haste.

A brochure in our welcome pack promises a market today in Dartmouth. We cruise into town, do  lap trying to find a free space, do a few circuits of the car park and then do another lap of the town where we are luck enough to bag free parking for 2 hours on the quay side.

Creaky missed out on a coffee after breakfast (even though she'd had 2 since she got up) and was spitting venom at Herself and Grumbles for their collective failure.  A refreshments stall in the park beckons and I ask Herself to get me something cold to drink.  I am presented with a plastic cup containing some squash.  I've not had a cup of squash in public since I was about 7.

Coupons thinks it's her birthday as we stumble across a table top sale in the park.  The ladies don't know what's hit them with her, as she's a black belt third dan in boot / table top sales!  She strikes lucky on the £1 bottle stall - all bottles are wrapped in brown paper and they either contain wine or water.  Four bottles she bought and out of those only 1 was water, the others being a bottle of Hardys red, a mulled wine as well as the star prize in the shape of a bottle of Prosecco.

We browse for a bit before heading back to Miranda. A sea gull drops a load on Creaky's head and Herself glares at me daring me not to laugh.  I take myself off to sort myself out.

Next we join the queue for the ferry to take us over the River Dart.

Brixham is heaving, and with the sun out, is like an oven.  Again we do some browsing of the tat shops before stopping at a pavement cafe for more coffee and a bite for lunch.  With the sun belting down on us Brixham feels quite Mediterranean.  I enter into the spirit of it by ordering some Hummus with flat bread and a bowl of olives.

Next up we do a bit of coast hopping along Torbay.  Miranda fights her way through the sea of chavs in Paignton before we skirt Torquay and drop down into Babacombe bay.  It's idyllic down there as we grab a beach side table, order some ice cream from the cafe and just sit enjoying watching others enjoying watching others.

I've got my pervert's glasses out and we spot a section of cliff that's collapsed over the other side of the bay.  We think we can see the remnants of a green house strewn down the scree slope, but the cafe owner relished in telling us that the debris we can see is the remains of a 4 bed detached house.

Apparently it was an insurance write off due to it's proximity to the cliff.  Some high flyers from London bought it at auction for cash, thinking it was a bargain being so close to the sea.  Within 3 months it was in the sea!!!

It really was a delightful way to end a day out, and reluctantly we piled into Miranda to make tracks home.  The climb back up out of Babacombe is fearsome, and I have regaled my past exploits on the hill in previous blogs.  Such antics are however out of the question with the cargo I have perched on the back seat, so low range is engaged and we crawl back up to civilization at a snail's pace.

Bloody Sat Nav!!!!  "You have arrived at your destination." -------- 7.5 miles in the wrong direction we were mind!!!

Back at the ranch we take some drinks out on the veranda while our chicken gets cremated on the BBQ and we skype Roids who is currently on a jolly to Las Vegas and Ronnie who is sat in A&E at WWG.

It's been a long day, and I'm on my chin straps here, but I have 6 cans of Bow left, so struggle on I'll have to.

Wednesday 17 June

Another good night's sleep, but no sun streaming through the blinds this morning.  It's decidedly overcast out there.

We're out of the door before 11am and heading for the moor.  I've no idea how many miles we'll do today and Miranda needs a drink. I usually don't use the independents, preferring to clock up the club card points, but out here I have little choice.

I'm over the moon when I see that diesel is at just 117p a litre (BP) and pull in.  I'm even happier when I see a leaflet pinned to the pump offering 5p off a litre if I invested in some chewing gum and a can of coke. Neither will go to waste, so I brim her tank before going into pay.  I am accosted at the entrance by a nice lady giving away M&S bags for life.  Now these cost over a quid at home and my freebie was not un noticed by both Creaky and Coupons.  Grumbles is dispatched to the shop for no other reason than to bag a free bag.  In fairness to him he did make a show of doing a circuit of the shop, but that's as far as it went.

We roll into The World of Marbles at Bovey Tracey, and start on the pallaver of getting everyone out of Miranda while trying to stop the whining savage from joining us.  Herself pushes Creaky away quickly beckoning Grumbles to follow quickly ...... that way they can't hear him pining for them and calling the visit short.

I push Creaky around with Coupons and  Herself takes Grumbles in the other direction to look at trains and stuff. I tried to avoid it, I really did, but in no time at all Creaky's nostrils have the scent of a coffee shop.  We go in and take a seat, the others joining us after they've viewed the glass blowing blokes.

Next we head up onto the moor, with the intention of calling on Uncle Tom Cobley. Widecombe is quite busy, and a bus load of Froggy school kids have just rocked up.  Very polite they were too, and many of the UK's schools could take note on how their pupils should behave on a school trip.  And I'm not talking about inner city comps here, I'm am talking about private schools like Millfield!!

Grumbles is dismayed as I take over the pushing duties, as he knows I will take the effort to push Creaky into the accessible shops, instead of whizzing straight past them. She spends a fortune and he's having palpitations.

It's lunch time, and just as luck would have it the last shop is next door to a pub.  The Old Inn has a lovely beer garden, but with a difference, their free range chickens, ducks and geese run free among their customers.

We have a lovely lunch under one of their Gazebos and take the opportunity to purchase a dozen eggs.

Refreshed, we press on, climbing higher onto the moor into the mist before dropping down into Tavistock for a mooch.  We park up and head for the lift in the car park.  My heart sinks as I clock the out of order sign.  Never the less, Creaky thinks she's in Alton Towers as I race down the ramps with her trying to beat the others who took the stairs.

It's getting on though, and at 4.45pm most of the shops are shut or shutting, as is the pannier market.  We buy some lovely looking pork chops for supper before making tracks back to base camp and settling in for the night after a long day out.

Thursday 18 June

The sun is back today, so the plan is to spend much of it close to the sea.  We're on the road by 10.30 and heading for Torcross and Slapton.  Very nice it is too, but it's too soon to stop as Creaky is still on her oxygen after the effort of walking from the lodge to Miranda and climbing in.

I'd planned to stop at Blackpool sands where they have a cafe over looking the beach, however a very unwelcoming "no dogs at all" sign pissed on those chips.  We press on and roll into Dartmouth again, only this time at the upper ferry where we take an outside table and watch all the river traffic.

Herself was in charge of refreshments, and although it was only just 11am, I am presented with an ice cold pint of Perroni.

While guzzling I note that this ferry charges £5.20 to cross whilst the lower ferry is just £4.50.  Every penny's a prisoner and all that.

We cross the Dart and head over to Torbay, where we fail miserably in our attempt to park up in Paignton ......... again!  We carry on to Torquay where we park and do a circuit of the harbor and its shops.  We eat lunch alfresco at Shiraz while the world and his brother passes by.

We make our way to Babacombe, only this time stopping up on the cliff to enjoy some ice creams with a view of the English Channel.

We make our way back a little earlier today, as we want to eat out tonight.  Back at the lodge we enjoy a few hours doing very little in the sunshine before heading back out for an evening meal at The Sportsman's Arms near Totnes.  The food was superb, even if we did have to wait a while for it.

Friday 19 June

Going home day today, and we're packed, loaded and rolling by 9.30am.  By 10.45am we're waving to the wicker man near Bridgewater.

The Olds stop for a coffee near Bristol but we press on home.  We reach Bridgend and Herself plants a seed.  By Port Talbot that seed has germinated and as we pass Jacksville a plan is coming together.

As we arrive home, instead of our usual putting the van away, we are dragging it out of it's cwtch for a weekend away together.