Sunday, 26 July 2015

Hastily Arranged Hillhead ........ Part 2 (Meeting The Meeks)

That's part one of the week over with, and with the kids gone home we await the arrival of Herself's parents.  We were supposed to be packing up here today, but we like it here and the thought of packing up and pitching somewhere up country again was just too much.  Plans were changed and we are staying put.  I love the flexibility of caravanning sometimes.

Tuesday 21st July

We wake to blue skies and sunshine.  The dogs get a long walk before breakfast.  Herself's parents are on their way down to stop with us for a few nights, so we need to go shopping again.

Ronnie and Roids had been over to theirs this morning to set his satnav and help load up the car before they set off at 10am.  We were expecting them at 2.30 pm so at 2.15pm we made our way up to the bar on site for a pint.  No scrumpy today as I'll be driving later on.

No sooner that we'd sat down but Creaky rings to announce their arrival.  Herself asks where they are and is informed that they are by a no entry sign.  This has us puzzled as we cannot remember one!  We neck our pints and go to find them.  They come round the corner and it's immediately obvious that all is not well.

The savage gets rather excited whenever their car slows down and makes horrible whining noises.  This had irritated Grumbles, who lost concentration and turned into the staff car park and service yard.  With the savage still making a din he did not hear his rear parking warning beeper going off and reversed into another car!

We get them booked in and unpacked.  It took a while, but Creaky does not travel light, what with her oxygen making machine and other assorted shite!

Once unpacked Grumbles wastes no time at all in getting into holiday mode.

Chicken off the Weber for tea is wolfed down before we pile into Miranda heading for the bright lights of Paignton, only this time I don't think we'll be going to the fair.

We cruise along the front and take the turn for the car park.  It's closed, but none the matter, there is this youngish lad there directing traffic to park on the green in neat rows.  He ushers us forward and tells me when to stop before turning his attention to the next car.

I'm starting to get us unloaded when this older bloke comes over and announces that we'll be clamped if we park here.  I explain that we'd been directed there but he is insistent.  I go over to speak to the bloke who'd directed us and he denies having anything to do with it!

The red mist is starting to descend now and I recount of how he waved us forward and raised his hand for us to stop before waving forward the next car so that we were all parked in a neat row.

He puffs out his chest and I am informed to get out of his face and go back to where I came from!  Now I'm usually quite tolerant, and have been in just one fight since my teens, but this bloke was really getting under my skin with his jinks and following attitude.

Dickhead!!!!  He retreated before Herself had to step in and physically restrain me.

With adrenaline still pumping we found our way to the multi storey and walked down the main drag towards the sea front.  the fair has grown over the last few days and it's a very pleasant stroll along the prom to the pier.

Grumbles and Herself are in their elements and spend a few hours pouring 2p pieces into the machines.  Creaky has had enough after 10 mins and I take her off to the cafe for a hot chocolate.

It's gone 9pm by the time we are reunited, and armed with arm fulls of more soft toys we make our way back to the car park, after spending far too much time arguing over the shortest route.  My heart sinks as I clock the security meshing that's pulled over the entrance to the stairwell in an effort to keep the glue sniffers and junkies out.

My mind is racing and I suggest Grumbles catching a taxi back to the site to collect his wheels and come back to pick us us.  They all look at me as if I've two heads. In unison they all shout at me "What about the dogs?" who are all locked in Miranda in the locked multi.


I keep my mouth shut as we walk the perimeter in search of an opening.  My rear end is making buttons as we arrive at each locked stairwell until we reach the main entrance which has not yet been closed up.  There's no way I'm pushing Creaky up 7 or 8 ramps so I leave them as I go to retrieve the car.

We take the scenic route back to site having a nose around the marina at Paigntion on the way.

Back on site Herself goes about making up the front bed for Grumbles, Creaky will be on the fixed bed at the back right next to the shower room while Herself and I will be pretending to be real campers in the sleeping annex out in the awning.  I'm in my late 40s and have not been looking forward to this.  I've not slept on an airbed on the floor in 15 years and don't rate my chances of getting off it without a crane in the morning.  And what about middle of the night expeditions?

I am pleasantly surprised how comfortable and cosy it is as I lower my bulky frame onto the mattress and look up enviously at the van.  Mind you we have enough bedding in here to set up another migrant camp at Calais.

Wednesday 22nd July

We slept well, really well, and managed to get up vertical without the help of mechanical aids!  First job of the morning was top walk the dogs, not an easy task with three of them on a leash!

I'm normally quite observant and quite like wandering around the site noting the outfits .. a swift with a RR Sport, an A6 towing a Bailey, a black Vivaro van towing a Bailey Explorer with a Vango blow up awning ....... hang on, that looks familiar.  It takes me a few moments for the pieces to fit together, but I have my suspicions that the unit belongs to The Meek Family.

Mrs Meek emerges and I'm cheeky enough to ask.  We have a conversation about their travels before I follow the smell of cooking bacon back to our van.

What lovely people.  You can follow their travels on the Caravan Club's "Club Together" section of the web site or just type in their name on Google for information on their now year long adventure in their caravan.

Credit to The Guardian for the picture.

I followed the smell of bacon down through the site, into our cul de sac and all the way to the adjacent pitch.  It turns out that Herself has decided that we shall breakfast on crumpets this morning.

A plan is hatched for an outing for the day and we will head east along the cost towards Dawlish warren.  We pile into Miranda and I made the mistake of thinking I knew the way without looking at a map.  We got there, but it took an age and was about 25 miles longer than the direct route.

As we're dropping down the hill to the warren through the static caravan parks I swing a right into a field that's housing an open air market today.  It's nice and warm as we brows the stalls.  I pick up a wire brush to clean the Weber, some strawberry jam and a few pairs of shorts before we take a seat for some drinks.  I got done.  I was drawn in by the Coffee £1 daubed in huge writing on the board and ordered a coffee for Creaky and bottles of pop for the rest of us.

When asked to part with £7 I asked the young girl if she was sure.  She replied affirmative and looked at me as if I had two heads, before pointing to the minute sign above her head and in the back corner of the trailer behind assorted takeaway cartons offering cold drinks at £2 each!

We jump back into Miranda for the short trip further down the hill into Dawlish Warren itself.  After parking up we lead the dogs and walk under the railway and past the attractions.  I take a seat with the dogs while the others look around the shops.

I don't mind sitting outside, and really enjoy people watching.  as the world passes by, and sat here on bench in Dawlish I get the feeling that I'm observing an outdoor fashion show put on by Sports Direct.

Once they've done the shops we take our first table on the deck of The Boathouse with views out to sea.  I say first table because after we'd got Creaky out of her chair and seated, tethered the dogs to the table, got them some water and sat down ourselves. Creaky decided she didn't like that table as there was no shade for her.  So with a rather large audience we relocated to a table that was adjacent to a parasol.  Once that show was over myself and grumbles went inside to place our order for lunch and ask for the parasol to be erected.  Turns out it can't as it's broken.  Grumbles turns into a quivering wreck at the though of having to tell Creaky that she will have to dine under the blazing sun.

Lunch was nice, but there again you can't really go wrong with sausages or scampi and chips in a basket!  With full bellies we retreat to Miranda and take the more direct, and much more scenic route back to site along the coast through Dawlish, Teignmouth and Torquay.

Back on site we sit outside for a while taking in some fresh air, but I'm on my chin straps and rather fancy a nap.  I crawl into the sleeping pod and snuggle down for some personal contemplation time.  I'm just dropping off and Herself shakes me.  I am informed that we have to go out and get some food because if we leave it any later it'll be too late for Creaky to eat.

Making a show of yawning, I climb into the driver's seat and we trundle two miles down the hill into Brixham to collect a few fish suppers to be eaten back at the van.

After food, Herself and the olds settle down to some TV time.  I retreat with a few bottles of beer and my laptop to the awning with the intention of using the £10 wifi voucher I had purchased earlier on in the week.

All evening I tried to connect, and I was half a case of beer down before I had ANY SORT OF SUCCESS!!!!

Thursday 23rd July

After another good night's kip on the floor we wake to overcast skies, but it's not raining.  I take the 3 dogs up to the dog walk and get delayed talking again to The Meek Family on the way back.  They are packing up today and heading further along the coast towards Dorset.

After breakfast I point Miranda's nose towards Newton Abbot and it's nearby Trago Mills.  After exiting the roundabout it's immediately obvious that this place is huge and is a large attraction.  We park up under the trees and head off into the simply mahoosive discount store.  Once done in there I go to get the dogs while the others find a table to have a coffee among the wandering peacocks.

The savage is not as well behaved as our two, and leading three dogs and having to lift one out of the car takes some organising.  He continually tries to jump out of the boot, despite being told firmly to stay, and gets a clip for his troubles.

While I was lifting Cerys out he makes a break for it and spends the next 2 mins causing chaos as all traffic comes to a halt as he runs in front of car after car.  How on earth am I going to break the news to Creaky and Grumbles that i have managed to get their dog killed?

After much huffing and puffing I manage to catch up with him.  I look back towards the car and both Cerys and Tali are sat in the boot shaking their heads at him as if to say "you're not supposed to be doing that",  I get him out of sight and we have a serious "man to dog talk" before we all set off to find the others.

I didn't see them among the throng, but they saw us, and Herself had remarked to the olds that one of the dogs must have had a hiding!  her logic for this was that they were all behaving and walking tidy for me! Little did they know.

By the way, the coffee was disgusting and got thrown in the hedge!

This place is weird though, the massive discount store has many independent shops and cafes outside, but it also has it's very own theme park.  We take a wander until we happen across a model railway.  I'm no train buff but am persuaded to go keep Grumbles company while he takes a look.  He spends a while looking at the free small exhibition outside, but is too tight to pay to go inside and take a look at the main exhibition.

I treat him and fork out the extortionate £1 each to go in and he dutifully follows.  He's in his element and remarks how he once had a load of this kit himself, but obviously not on this scale. I have to admit though that the size of the set up is impressive.

We stop for a rest at the exit and take a table for Creaky to have a Coffee.  I've just sat down and herself remarks that she liked the look of some spuds for sale some 100m back into the site.  I do not take the hint and think I've got away with it, but am told directly to go back and buy her a bag!

I'm returning and can see Grumbles up and agitated.  turns out they've finished their drinks and are ready to leave and are wondering where I am.  Without a chance to sit down I guzzle my bottle of Pepsi on the way back to the car.

I decide to take a different route back that will take us through Totnes, hoping to avoid the nightmare rush hour traffic on the ring road.  We stop off at a superb garden centre at Ipplepen and pick up some superb Lamb for tea from the attached butcher shop after Creaky has fleeced Grumbles of far too much money for odds and ends inside.

With tea dishes cleared out of the way, I'm just settling down with a few beers and my iPad.  However Herself has other plans for me.  Turns out that Herself and Creaky have planned a card school for this evening!  I'm no fan of cards, but spend a few hours being parted of all my loose change in a game of Newmarket.  Grumbles will need bigger pockets for his journey home tomorrow.

Friday 24th July

We are still sleeping in the annex and it's really cosy.  I wake at 4am to the pitter patter of rain on the fabric with my bladder screaming at me, but go straight back to sleep and think nothing of it.  Herself and I are cwtched up at 9am when Cerys starts pawing at Herself frantically.  We assume it's just her playing up in the morning as usual, but Grumbles then sticks his head out of the stable door and alerts us to a problem.  The awning roof is sagging and is holding enough water to fill our hot tub at home.  Not only that buy the awning carpets are under 3/4 inch or water.

We jump up out of bed and squelch our way to the van.  Grumbles realises we have problems to deal with, and that we could sort them with them out of the way, so any thoughts he had of stopping around for the day are dispatched.  they have a quick breakfast, and we load them up and they are off on their way by 10.30am.

The awning roof is sorted easily, so I put on a jacket and my Mongo hat and set about removing the annex before zipping in and tensioning the third side.  There is nothing we can do about the awning floor as the water is coming up from the ground, so rather than sit there and worry about it we head off out for a spin.

It is still hammering down as we leave site and make our way down the hill to the lower ferry at Kingswear.  The upper ferry is bigger and more stable, but the lower ferry is £1 cheaper for the crossing.  As we descend the ramp onto the barge Herself starts calling me names that cannot be repeated on here as we rock on the swell.

We've made that crossing in better weather and on calmer waters, but grounding on the landing ramp was a relief.  It's still hammering down so we didn't stop in Dartmouth and continued up towards Totnes and Steamer Quay.  It's still hammering down so we continue through the lanes aimlessly until we arrive in the hamlet of Avon.  We are drawn towards the Avon arms where we decide it's time for lunch.

Sometimes the best meals are those that are unplanned, and this was one of those times.  We only had burgers, but they were superb and the landlord very friendly, taking the time to come over and have a chat.

We run across the car park in pouring rain and make our way back to Dartmouth.  Once we get back herself has no plans to go outside again so I am dispatched to grab some pasties for our supper.  I got very wet!

Back on site I tried in vain again to connect to the site wifi (there will be refund request submitted when I get home) while Herself embarked on a few hours of personal contemplation.  I was still hammering down when we got the call from creaky to say they had arrived home after a nightmare 6 1/2 hour journey home.  Ronnie also sent us a text to say that it had taken him 8hrs to drive to Derbyshire!

With the rain still hammering on the roof we retreated to our fixed double bed for only the second time during this break.  How can it rain so hard and for so long?  Much more and I'd be expecting Morgan Freeman to rock up on his Avon inflatable!

Saturday 25th July

We wake at 8.15am and note that bit has stopped raining and the sun is shining.  Today marks the end of our break so we have little time to relax.  We have to break camp, but as it didn't stop raining until gone 11pm everything is still wet.

We're pulling off site at 10.30am and spend the next hour in nose to tail traffic until we clear the extensive road works at newton Abbot.

Once onto the open space of the A38 our minds turn to getting some fuel for Miranda.  All the garages seem to be full.  We spot signs for a service station at the bottom of Telegraph Hill and pull off.  While we are queueing at the pumps it dawns on me that there is only one way out of this place, and that's onto the A38 in the wrong direction .......... and up Telegraph Hill before we can turn around!

I've a plan brewing and dispatch Herself into pay.  As soon as she's in the door I slam on the hazards and proceed to reverse out of the pumps and straight across the direct access off the A38, before pointing the rig in the direction of the way we came so  as to avoid having to climb that bloody hill from a standing start.

Herself informs me that the attendants stopped what they were doing to watch my manoeuvre on CCTV with mouths wide open.  I fully expect to be on one of those programs on Sky TV in the near future.

Herself had picked up a few meal deals from the garage, what it cost her I didn't like to ask, but was grateful of the sustenance as we cruised along the relatively empty A38 towards Exeter.  The M5 was busy, but at least it was moving, so progress was good save a few short hold ups as we skirted Taunton.

Now I know caravanners have a bad reputation around these parts and many delays are blamed (unfairly) on us, but there are many others who need to take a good hard look at their driving styles - including the plank driving this lorry who stayed put in the middle lane for a full 15 miles north of Bridgewater.

On open roads we crossed the Severn Bridge and then had to queue at the tolls to pay for the privilege of re entering our own country!!

All in it took us 4 1/2 hours to tow just short of 200 miles from site to home, that's not bad going considering it took Grumbles 6 1/2 to do the same journey yesterday.

So that's it.  Our main summer holidays over with.  It was not what we had planned, and was under very difficult circumstances, but I am most grateful to Herself for being brave enough to make the decision to go away so soon after such a tragic turn of events.

So until next time ....... Da Bo.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Hastily Arranged Hillhead ....... Part 1

With the trauma of the funeral done and dusted, but with Herself still in pieces a decision has to be made.  Do we go on holiday or not?

After much agonising Herself agrees that we will go away only after I suggest that Creaky and Grumbles join us in e few days when Ronnie, Roids and their significant others have left for home.

We go over to have a chat and both Creaky and Grumbles are insistent on us going away, but are overjoyed with the invite to join us next week.

Just as soon as I'm given the go ahead I start racking my brains for somewhere to go.  We need somewhere lively enough with stuff to do close by for the first part of the week and then somewhere quieter for the remainder.  A plan is hatched and pitches booked at the club sites at Hillhead and Illminster.

Thursday 16th July

Having not made the decision to come away until gone 10.30pm last night we had nothing ready to go.  I was up at 7am sorting the van and car out, and Herself not long after sorting out some clothes.

She spent the morning with Creaky and Grumbles, before we set off at around 1pm.  The kids are joining us later, but giving us a head start whilst they go for breakfast and then spend some time with Coupons, Creaky and Grumbles.

The journey down was sombre.  Not only was Herself holding back the tears, but she was aslo worried about work.  They are making cutbacks and 4 people at her level are to lose their jobs.  She was forced to interview for her own job just a few days after losing her sister!!!

We pull into Taunton Dean as usual to give the dogs a stretch and I head on in to McDs to grab some lunch.  As i return to the bench Herself's phone goes off.  It's her boss, so she takes off to a quiet spot to receive the news.  What seemed like an eternity later she returns, still talking, but giving me the thumbs up.  At least that's one thing that's off her mind.

Traffic was reasonably light until we reached Newton Abbot and the ring road.  What a nightmare!! Nose to tail and crawling for the last 15 miles to site.

Our arrival was delayed even further as Herself decided that my satnav was wrong and we should take the first left off the mini roundabout!!  This necessitated turning round the outfit in a cul de sac with an audience of waiting cars.

I didn't curse, honestly.

We pull in to a rather misty site and receive a great reception from the onsite wardens at the CC site at Hillhead.  They remembered me from when they were wardens at Trewethett Farm when we stopped there for just 4 nights back in 2012! On informing them that we would have guests, and a second car we were directed to pitch 80, half way down the site.  It's massive and accommodates the van, awning, annex and two cars easily.

I instantly regret booking a two site break as I am reminded how much hard work it is to erect a full size awning complete with sleeping annex!

Ronnie, Roids and their significant others rock up and Herself and I slip out to get in some provisions.  It's been a rather stressful few weeks and we are both on our chin straps, so after an evening meal cooked on the BBQ we just chill in the awning while the young ones head off up to the onsite club house and games room.

We're up on a hill here and the place is shrouded in fog, but people opposite say they've been down in Torbay and have got sunburnt!

After taking the dogs out for a late night walk, we turn in absolutely drained as my thoughts turn to another change of plan..

Friday 17th July

We wake to clear skies after some rain overnight rain.  And after some abortive finger swiping on the ipad I head up to the onsite dog walk with Tali and Cerys, and now the fog has lifted it's immediately evident how high up we are, but with it cleared we have a magnificent view down over Torbay.

Dogs walked I take a hike up to reception armed with my ipad, wallet and membership card.  Online there is no availability showing for Wednesday, but I'm hoping that the wardens will be able to extend our stay on their system.I explain our situation and after some frantic key tapping and scratching of heads they confirm it can be done, I have to cancel my booking for Illminster first on the ipad though.

 We breakfast on bacon rolls before heading down to Paignton, where we bag two parking spots on the sea front before walking the length of the pier.

The walk along the pier didn't exactly go to plan though.  You can't get to the end unless you walk through the arcade.  I cleared it with one of the young girls about walking the dogs through, and set off with the easily spooked Tali on a short leash.

We're no more than 5m in, and 2 young lads on a flight simulator take off from a flight deck and start firing missiles with gay abandon.  Tali's head went straight away and there was nothing I could do to stop him.  Hanging onto him for grim death we both sprinted through the arcade, spraying chairs and fellow customers in our wake!  Those that know me will appreciate that I'm no athlete, but I'm pretty sure I'd have given Lynford Christie a run for his money over that 75m.

We took in some sea air until the others stopped laughing and I was brave enough to run the gauntlet with Tali again.  I waited outside while the others wasted a few fist fulls of 2p pieces.

Next up we brave the sea of Chavs and take a wander up Paignton's main tourist drag.  Chip shop, arcade, another chip shop, tat shop, another arcade .......... you get the picture.  I get lured into a shop selling knock off phone cases and invest in a rather smart brushed aluminium one for my S5 mini.

The kids head further up into town whist Herself and I retreat to Murphy's Sports Bar on the sea front, and invest some of our pennies in a few pints of cider.  Herself confesses to fancying my new phone case, so when the kids return and with Herself's word of "Don't get me one of those jewelled ones!!" ringing in my ears, Roids walks back to the shop with me.  He gets one of those Rambo type cases that you can drive over or tie to a submarine, but I'm out of luck with an aluminium case for Herself's S3 mini.  Not wanting to go back empty handed I pick out a rather fetching case with flowers on it.

The sea gulls round here are clever.  The pub has invested a huge amount of readies in hanging a net over the beer garden as well as installing devices to frighten them off.  We laughed as one cheeky little bugger ignored all that to feast on what a family had left behind as they departed in a hurry.

Before finishing our drinks I present Herself with her new phone case.  She was overjoyed with it, she was, and I quote directly the flowing verse of thanks that fell off her lips.  "What the FFFF have you bought me that for.  It's FFFFing hideous.  What did I say before you left?"

I stashed it away in my daysack.  Maybe she'll warm to it.

We pile into the car and make tracks to Babacombe.  Parked up we climb down the steps onto the shingle and pebble beach where Cerys has a dip and Tali looks on bewildered (he doesn't do water).  I find a steel ring on the shore and pick it up.  I've not a clue what I want it for, but am convinced that it'll come in handy for something ......... one day.

Ice creams are the order of the day and I hand over a King's ransom for a fist full of them as we take a table on the promenade over looking the beach and breakwater to devour them.

A gay couple are sat on the pebbles and start stripping off.  They get down to their Y fronts before putting their shoes back on and striding off into the sea for a swim!

Back to site we head and the Weber gets pressed into action to prepare tea for the six of us.

It's been a lovely day, nice and warm, and we round it off superbly with a bit of a party.

Saturday 18th July

We wake to nice clear skies.  Today is no ordinary day though, as today is the anniversary of Ronnie's birth.  And at 22 years of age you'd think he'd remember to bring along his birthday cards that he'd collected at home before leaving!

As it was he just has a card off me and his mam, a card off his brother and one off his significant other to be getting along with.

The youngsters have plans for today, they are going to the water park at Goodrington for the day.

After they left I delved into the depths of my daysack and retreived the stunning phone cover that I'd so thoughtfully purchased for Herself yesterday.  She took one look at it and told me to put it up for sale on E Bay, as most certainly wasn't going anywhere near her phone.  I stashed it back in the pocket, may be she'll warm to it.

We hop into Miranda and head off out.  I ask Herself where she wants to go, and I'm told anywhere!  Great help!!

We cruise down the lanes to nearby Stoke Gabriel, I swing into the car park and as the yellow vested bandit was making his way over to me Herself blurts out "Why have you brought me here again?" and I suddenly remember coming down these roads last October .... she didn't like it then either!  So spraying gravel in the general direction of the yellow vest we sped away leaving him trying to roll back up his reel of tickets.

Herself still hasn't let me know of anywhere she'd like to go so I am cruising the roads of Torbay aimlessly until I spot a national trust sign for a castle.  I follow the signs diligently through the lanes, but as we draw near my heart sinks as I clock the locked gates.  A sign tells me that it only opens 3 days a week, and today is not one of them.

I park up and switch the engine off.  I turn to Herself and insist that she gives me some direction as I'm not moving until she does.

She looks surprised and utters "I thought we were going to look for new camping chairs."  I say nothing and fire up my Samsung which tells me there's a large camping supplies place in the vicinity called Outdoor World.

We head that way stopping off for a pub lunch in Newton Abbot.  With my wallet nearly £90 down we head back to site ... complete with 2 new chairs ..... that's 4 chairs I've had to buy this year .... crying inside I am, crying.

We get a text off Roids to say they are eating out before coming back as they are hungry after a day on the slides.  We stopped off at ASDA for supplies and he fired up the Weber to warm up ready.

Desert this evening is Ronnie's birthday cake, and very splendid it looked too, complete with sparklers and a firework poked into it.

How wise it was to fire up this lot in the confines of the awning was debatable, but at least we avoided having to call out Fireman Sam and his mates.

In passing we've seen a funfair setting up on the green in Paignton, so that is the destination of choice tonight.

We park up on the sea front and make a bee line for the fun fair.  It's not cheap and Roids is holding back.  Tighter than cram that boy, so Herself helps herself to a few notes from my wallet and gives them to the kids.

They have a go on a few white knuckle death traps until my money runs out, and then attention is diverted to the stalls, where myself, Ronnie and Roids are pressured into spending a small fortune in trying to win cuddly toys for our significant others.

Having put enough cash in the general direction of the gyppos on the fair we stroll over to the pier to spend some time getting ripped off in the arcade.

I hate arcades, as they cost too much money to spend any length of time in them, so left the others to it and retreated to the car to take the dogs for a walk.

It wasn't too long before Herself joined me, and we had one of those moments that you can neither buy or plan for.  We sat on the sea wall in the darkness, far enough away from the hustle and bustle to only hear the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, looking over to the lit up pier and the reflection of it's lights on the water .......... really special it was.

Back at the van we supper on bacon rolls before hitting the hay, absolutely knackered.

Sunday 19th July

We wake to clear skies and bright sunshine.  Breakfast is taken in the awning looking out at a clear blue sky.

The kids are heading over to Woodlands Adventure Park today, but we have no intention to move.  The sun is out and it's hot, so a day chilling by the van is called for.  I smother myself in used chip fat, recline my chair, and settle in for a few hours of personal contemplation.

Herself prods me and informs me that it's 3pm.  I say "So what!" and am informed that it is Sunday, we have no food in, and the shops close at 4pm.

She then reclines her chair and embarks on a little personal contemplation.  From these actions I can only conclude that my trip to Asda will be solo.

I'm checking out and my Samsung is ringing, it's Herself, and she's spooked and wants me back on site ASAP.  I race back and she's sitting in the van, turns out some bloke has pulled in next to us and his mannerism made her really uneasy.  I play it down but with 10 mins I've been talking to him and she's right.  To put it bluntly, I wouldn't trust him around kids.

We put away the shopping and Herself suggests we take a walk up to the club for an afternoon drinkies.  After some considerable arm twisting I agree and we spend a pleasant few hours chucking back a few pints of Thatchers scrumpy and listening to some know it all spread his knowledge of every Caravan Club site in the UK to anyone within a 20m radius of him.

By the time the kids return from Woodlands and come to find us, we are rather worse for wear and are not making much sense.  the Weber is again pressed into action for tea before we have a great evening in the awning playing cards and getting even drunker.

Monday 20th July

We wake with thick heads and it's also raining.  The kids are heading home today, but not until this evening.

After breakfast the weather breaks and they head down to Brixham for a look around.  Cerys has not been too well for the last 24 hrs, and at some points we've been left wondering if she'd be coming home with us.  Herself then found a tic on her head this morning, and as neither of us has a scooby of how to remove it we must find a vet.

Pets at Home in Torquay comes to the rescue, but cannot see her until 3.30 pm.  We leave site as it's clearing up at 12 and find a parking spot on the marina.  I'm on a mission.  I need a Sports Direct, not that I've an urgent need to stock the caravan wardrobe with Umbro 3/4 trousers and Everlast vest tops or anything.  You see the box that I keep all the gubbins in for the motor mover has deteriorated beyond repair and Herself has suggested a tog bag for the purpose.

I leave Herself outside with the dogs and use the escalator to enter the store.  I'm about to fight my way through the racks and racks of Umbro 3/4 trousers and Everlast vest tops when my eyes are distracted bu a pile of boxes containing Karrimore sandals, reduced from £59.99 to £15.99 (yeah right!).  I pick up a size 10 before wading through the quagmire of cheap clothing in search of a tog bag.  Why do they make it so difficult to pay for stuff in these places?  10 mins I spent trying to find the tills, I even arrived at the exit 3 times, and if it were not for the alarms and CCTV I would have been tempted.

I return to Herself.  She remarked on how long I'd been and how big the tog bag appeared to be!  With still more time to kill we huddled under a parasol to give us some shade from the burning sun (scratch that ..... the pouring rain) and lunched alfresco at one of the numerous harbour side restaurants plying for trade.

In no time at all it was time to head for the vet.  We lead the dogs and make our way to the vet at the rear of the store.  We are greeted by "Trigger" at reception who appears to be having some difficulty operating the computer!  The nurse comes out and beckons Herself and Cerys in to be treated while Trigger gets to grips with his abacus.

Cerys had her tick removed and a quick check over while I sat and watched as Trigger clicked the mouse a few times and peered at the contents of the screen in front of him.

Now came the trickier part.  Time to pay.  It was only £15, but Trigger was still having trouble getting to grips with technology.  A full ten mins we stood there like lemons while he frantically tapped some keys, peered some more at the screen, squinted his eyes and peered at the screen.  I was losing the will to live and ready to walk when the vet walked passed, pressed a key and walked off shaking his head.

The printer spewed out a receipt and we were free to leave.

We arrived back at site.  the Juke was parked adjacent to the caravan but no one was about.  All the towels had gone though so Sherlock summised that they must have gone up to the pool for a splash around.

We walked up to the complex for a drink and to meet them coming out.  After they had showered and been fed we helped them pack and load up before waving them off at around 6pm as they head home back to Wales.  We would have liked them to stay longer as much as they would have liked to, but Roids starts work with The Scarlets tomorrow on placement treating the rugby players with bumps and bruises and Ronnie has a quad biking expedition planned.

Their exhaust has not had time to warm up before Herself and I go about tidying up, de cluttering and cleaning the van and awning.  It didn't take long and within an hour we are sat in Miranda's boot enjoying a fish supper as we looked out over Brixham marina.  What a perfect way to round off a day.

Back on site I crack open a beer and take a seat.  All of a sudden it hits me how empty and quiet it is.  There have been six of us sat in here all week and now I'm Billy no Mates sat there getting corned beef legs off the halogen.

To be continued ...........

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Difficult Circumstances at Llanmadoc


We had to think long and hard about taking this little break.  We were supposed to be our 2 week holiday in Norfolk but rather tragic events close to home necessitated a cancellation.

You see, rather tragically, at the age of just 44, Herself's sister passed away last week.  Herself was understandably in bits and a holiday the last thing on her mind.

With work leave arrangements fixed, and still a week until the funeral, Herself agreed that a few nights in the van may be OK, just so long as we were close enough so that she could see Creaky and Grumbles every day.

Friday 10 July

Today was Herself's birthday, but understandably there were no celebrations.  Finding a site close by was no easy task as there is a steam fair on at Pembrey and the Swansea Bay air show is also taking place this weekend.

Some frantic finger swiping on the iPad and a few phone calls later has us a booking at Phillistone Farm on the tip of the Gower. It's a site we've been to before and know it'll be very quiet.

We spend the morning  with Creaky and Grumbles before hitching up tearfully, promising to see them tomorrow.

The roads onto the peninsular are quiet and the views spectacular.  Herself wells up as we cruise along an open stretch and she looks out over the estuary towards the development at Machynys where her sister's house sits next to the golf course.

Due to what I can only put down to a senior moment I shot straight past the turning to take us over Kennexstone moor.  This necessitated turning the outfit around here whilst a sizable queue of traffic grew either side of us.

I managed it ....... just ........ but was sweating like a peado in a creche by the time we were done!

We pull onto the site after negotiating a few miles of single track lanes, but thankfully met nothing coming the other way, and are set up in no time with delightful views over Broughton Bay.

The outfit next to us looks strangely familiar and I think it's the people that were pitched here last July when we stopped for two nights.  30 mins later all is confirmed as Bob the border collie comes bounding into site and introduces himself to our two.

We back track as far as CKs for some provisions and get mugged for the pleasure.  Ronnie and FG meet us there and follow us back to site where they are to stop with us for a few days.

Saturday 11 July, Sunday 12 July, Monday 13 July

The next few days are a bit of a blur really.  The olds came over every day to visit and be fed, we sat around a lot, taking in the surroundings, but mainly just being together in very tranquil surroundings.

The only places visited were CKs in Penclawdd and Asda in Gorseinon for provisions.

Some walks on the fantastic beach eased the pain briefly for Herself, but it would be fair to say that a box of Kleenex was not far away at all for the duration of our stay.

I've had a weekend of breaking stuff.  Firstly I broke the plastic hinges on the freezer door trying to get some ice out of it, I've done a repair job with some super glue, but given that they are under tension I don't have any faith in the repair lasting very long, and I also lost my balance when cleaning the floor and broke the top cover of the room heater!

Tuesday 14 July

Having dropped the awning last night after it had dried out, breaking camp this morning took no time at all.  We were pulling up outside home by 10.30am and Herself went straight over to sit with creaky and Grumbles while I inched teh van back into her hidey hole before shooting up to Ennis Caravans in search of some spares.

I thought long and hard about writing and indeed publishing this blog, but in the end decided to do so.  When I started out writing it, it was just intended to be a holiday diary for me to refer back to over time.  Sorry if it's not up to the usual standard, but this time that is just how it is.  We went away but did not do much.

Dreading tomorrow and what that is going to bring.