Friday, 22 June 2018

Motorhome life - Warminster to Arbroath

First meal in our motorhome
We’ve settled in at the Housesit in Arbroath, with Angus, Oscar and new cat on the block Hector, but what a lot has happened in the last five days....

A lovely evening out at the Chinese with Abi, on Sunday night was followed by a bad nights sleep and a relatively early start to head to Webb’s of Warminster (location: 51 12 '49.2N, 11' 36.1W). Despite it being an easy journey we were all peckish so lunch at 11.30 and unload the car, dumping everything into the garage, so Abi could drive home and we could start the induction into the motorhome fraternity. 
First night in Longleat
Tom handed us over to Dan who had been warned that we were complete novices, so not only did we need the intricacies of our specific van explaining but also basic things like toilet emptying ...... Three hours later our heads were spinning, and Dan was hoarse and hungry. We went into the shop to buy the last few things, though the most important one, a hosepipe, had been crossed off the list as there was an integral one fitted, just as well we’d found hosepipes too difficult then!
Longleat Caravan Park

As part of our negotiations to buy we’d included a night at a nearby campsite, so they’d booked us into the caravan and motorhome club site at Longleat (location: 51 11' 28.7N, 0 16' 35.4W). With full gas, empty grey and black waste and half full fresh water off we went. Having only driven on the bypass, even turning out of the showroom was a first!

Longleat house
We followed the satnav, specifically programmed with our height, length, width and weight, on a long route to the campsite, but better safe than sorry, arrived at reception, third in the check in queue, and suddenly we were both back in NZ, the friendly welcome and offers of help should we need it brought back one of the reasons why we’d both enjoyed the mobile life.
Wallabies and goats at Longleat

From then on, for the next hour or so, we wondered what on earth we’d done. The mains hook up didn’t work, have we bought a duff cable? We’ll move so we can try our short cable. Before we managed to do that, and more importantly we couldn’t get the 12v working. It did work briefly, I heard the ignition click as we tried turning the fridge on, only the fridge didn’t light. Check the gas, nothing on the hob, perhaps it’s off? Yes it was, ok, that’s easy. Right back to the 12v. Press that, and it says 12v off, Press again, panel lights up, but nothing says 12v on, and my test of listening for ignition clicks on the fridge was silent. Can you ring Webbs? No, no cell, so off he wondered to reception, returning with a very willing and helpful, but not necessarily knowledgeable man. 
The children's area at Longleat
He sorted out the mains problem you have to turn the blue plug to engage, ok, that was easy. Back to the 12v, see, the fridge still isn’t igniting, “but why do you want it to? You are plugged into the mains?” 17.15 B back to reception to use their phone to ring Webb’s before they all went home. He spoke to Dan, who said press the panel twice, but not much more! By the time B got back I’d prodded around in the fuse board, was that one slightly out? Maybe. Turned the fridge off and on, and with the panel just on, tried lighting the fridge, hurrah, so although it doesn’t say 12v on, because it doesn’t say 12v off...... loads of stress, but actually no real problems!
Its OK, it's not real!

Ok, back to testing everything, or our memories anyway. Cook dinner, using the one electric ring, and one of the three gas rings, good, that’s all ok. Open the fizz we need to celebrate! 

Once fed and watered we could both have gone to sleep, but it was only 20.30 so we’d better go for a little walk around the site. We met a lovely couple, with a sweet dog, that didn’t mind me taking some calming stroke therapy from it. Have you been into the park? They said, didn’t know we could, so off we went. It did sort of say no entry, to dogs, but it was only a little car barrier so in we walked, saying hello to wallabies, ostrich and donkeys! We avoided going too close to the house as our ‘friends’ had said you may get warned off through a loudspeaker if they see you on the cctv! Somebody saw us though, as we were walking out through the car park a vehicle swooped down on me (he was behind, taking his picture of the house) “what are you doing?” “Just having a little look around, we’ve walked in from the campsite.....” I apologised for having taken him away from the football and off we went! Not as good as being evicted from the tip, Abi, but still a claim to fame!
Behind the wheel

I expected to sleep well, but sadly not to be, particularly with B climbing over me to go to the toilet, ho hum, just as well he doesn’t do that often. Shower, breakfast, washing up, packing up, and water dump (not necessary, but just to practice) and back to Webb’s to get a cheque for our nights accommodation, I drove, so some wiggly lanes for me too. We also had to put some water in as our super attached hose didn’t have the right attachment for the campsite tap! Up the motorway to mum’s, stopping en route to collect the mountain bikes from where they have been stored for the last six years, yep, we’ve got to get them in the garage, as well as the mountain of stuff waiting for us.
Night number 2 at Hill Farm, Alvechurch. Nice view!

Five hours of carrying stuff downstairs and trying to decide where to put it later we headed off to a local small site, a CL, certified location, of the caravan and motorhome club, £10.00 for up to 5 vans with electric hook up (EHU) and a toilet, no flash facilities here, but all we needed (location: 52 20' 39.62N, 0 54' 38.4W). I had planned to cook, but the chippy spoke as we drove passed, so, as we were expecting guests in an hour and a half, sense prevailed.
Misty the cat

Our first campsite cat, Misty, an old boy with funny teeth came to visit, hurrah, and then our real guests, The Monday Club boys Tim, Bill and Mark (and Fiona). I know it was Tuesday, but they’d made an exception! They said all the right things, looked in every locker, asked lots of questions, and proved that we can seat 5 comfortably. The sixth was a little less so, but I don’t suppose that’ll happen often!

Campsite number 3 at Cumbernauld
A better nights sleep and we set off for Scotland, what is that banging? I checked every cupboard, jamming things together. “It doesn’t sound like anything breaking” he said carrying onto the motorway. There it goes again, at which point I yell stop. One of the outside lockers, the one with the mains cable in, is flapping wide in the wind! He doesn’t want to stop on the hard shoulder, so off and round the roundabout, into the services. “What should be in that locker?” Fortunately everything that should be there is there. He’d carefully locked the lock but without actually turning it shut first! Won’t do that again! Anyway lots of roadworks and 5 hours became 6. In the future it will be more as the fuel economy was rubbish, though it was very windy too which won’t have helped (19.7mpg average - yikes!!)

Jackie setting up the outdoor bbq
Another CL, just off the motorway, just passed Glasgow (location: 55 55' 41.4N, 0 4' 28.9W), three people here already, but we have booked. Can’t raise the farmer so we’ll just park up. I was expecting to open the wine and crisps, but he wanted a cup of tea first. The man opposite made the mistake of coming over and saying “If a wee cat comes in throw it out.” To which I obviously replied “No chance!” I had to go and have a chat, they were in a caravan with three dogs and two cats. The dogs are on leads but the cats just do their own thing. Amazing, the little one was under two and a real pocket rocket, it got a bird and a mouse to my certain knowledge, came in and checked out the van, before dashing off to do more cat things! Didn’t expect cats on every camp site, long may it last!
Cooking mackerel while stroking Indie cat

First dump of the toilet cassette, and grey water again, so we arrive at the Housesit empty, and on our way, filling up with fuel. Pay at the pump, he thought would be quicker £99 maximum, wasn’t enough! Ouch! Another £25 on top! A gentle two hours with the van saying the fuel economy was better and we arrived at the golf course where the house is situated (approx location: 56 35' 58N, 0 36' 22W). We’d arranged to park up before walking to the house to assess the route in and wait for the three cars to move off the drive. We’d been dreading this bit, there is a perfect space beside the house, but is the drive big enough to turn the van round, or will we have to reverse the 160m down the last lane? Turned out, easy peasy, but still glad we won’t have to do it often as we have the use of a car while we are here, we have to get Angus to the beach and woods for his walks.....!
A photo of Jackie taking a photo of Indie cat in our van

Lovely to be back, Colin was much more relaxed than the last time, Anders and Anneka are so grown up. Angus and Oscar are just the same, though Oscar has just been professionally trimmed so I won’t have to chase him around with a pair of scissors, and just as I write, Hector has finally come out from behind the sofa, and straight to my lap for a cuddle. We are going to have a lovely time!

Here's her photo
Saying 'hello' to the cows at the Cumbernauld campsite
At Colin & Louise's house in Arbroath where we are housesitting two cats and a dog for three weeks
Hector cat decides Jackie can stroke him

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Slightly windy Wales then back to Brum

Giant badger at the Welsh wildlife centre
Thursday dawned windy and slightly damp, so heading away from the coast seemed to make sense. We hadn’t been north either, so up to the Welsh wildlife centre in Cardigan we went (Welsh wildlife centre). Lots of interesting walks in a variety of habitats, with the opportunity to see many birds, otters and water buffalo! As it was, we did see lots of birds, some we could identify, some not, but no kingfisher and no otter (but that’s not really a surprise!), except as carved wood. Water buffalo we did see, which was a bit unusual, apparently they had been imported as they will eat pretty much everything, so are not as picky as horses and cows, and they are used to rice paddy fields so don’t get foot rot. It would appear they are doing a grand job of maintaining the plant variety, despite not being ‘local’!
View from the Mallard Hide. Don't look much like ducks
Ron. This was actually in the Heron Hide 

We had a lie in on Friday as we had to ring about the boat trip at 11.00, sadly it was still too windy, so puffins were off, a real shame, but no one really wanted to be out if it was too rough! Newport Beach then, a little more of the coastal path where we saved the life of a toad, it was being writhed about by a snake which slithered off as we tried and failed to get phones out to take pictures! Lunch on the rocks watching surfing/life saving lessons for a class of school kids, P.E. Was never like that when I was at school, before walking on the beach, the tide was finally out enough, but it was still windy, my ears can confirm....
In the Bara Brith cafe for tea and...bara brith

Tea and cake at the cafe/art gallery recommended to us on day one. Very pleasant, and the first proper stop for tea and cake all week, surprisingly! Last night, and I was allowed a night off as the club house at the cottage was open. It was good to pop in and see the locals, have a pint of local beer and an unpretentious dinner! With that it was all over, we’d walked miles with amazing views, eaten well, drunk a few glasses of wine, done a jigsaw, played scrabble and completed a few crosswords. What mores is holidaying about?
Walking on Newport beach

The journey home wasn’t as good as the journey there, apart from anything else it was raining, reminding us how luck we’d been, a week in Wales and only rain on one overnight?!

Today we have spent ‘sorting’! What to take to the mobilehome for the first night, this all has to go in the car, to Abi’s, into her car and down to Warminster. So not too much, but we do want to put the van through its paces, cooking, showering, etc, so testing the quality of the handover, and the quality of our memories! Tomorrow is going to be a very steep learning curve, with general stuff like emptying the toilet to specific stuff about power supplied from the solar panel! That’s not to mention actually driving and manoeuvring it!

We will then drive back to mothers to try to fit everything else we want in on Tuesday, staying locally, before heading up to Scotland on Wednesday.

It’s all very exciting!
The toad we rescued after the attacking snake slithered off. There's a bit of blood by his front right foot
Dinas Head is the rising land to the right, our first walk last Monday. That ominous looking cloud didn't bring any rain, but it looked like it might
That little lump of rock in the sea was marked on the map as 'Cat Rock'. We made a special walk along the coastal path to see it. Doesn't look much like a cat to us, the wind had picked up, is was fairly cold and late afternoon, time for tea and cake!
Art! It was an old slate quarry on one of the walks in the Welsh wildlife park