It’s that dreaded time of the year

Here in the UK, once a year, all vehicles over three years old are put through quite a strict Ministry Of Transport test to check their roadworthiness, and each year it appears to get stricter and stricter. Granted some of the items checked are major, but others I will admit to finding quite petty.

A full list of failure items are listed here for anyone who wants some bedtime reading.

If you have taken the time to read the list, you will understand why, most folk sit in the test station biting their fingers for forty minutes, remerging into the daylight either jumping up and down and waving a piece of paper in their hand or……head bowed, sinking into a deep depression with ££££ signs flashing in their eyes.

Well yesterday was Happy camper’s (still not been given a proper name) day of reckoning.

It had been hibernating under its dark green cover since November, circumstances had prevented us trundling off to the few campsites that weren’t under water.

Our plan was to take it for a drive to make sure all moving parts were….err moving, and that nothing had seized up anywhere.

T unveiled it, pulling the cover off as a motor manufacturer would unveil a new model, the cover proved to be worth every penny, as there in the dull grey light stood our shiny pride and joy 🙂

Last year before we collected Happy Camper, we had re-aranged the front garden by putting a couple of tons of chippings down so we could keep it at home. This had proved a bit of a disaster, what with the weight of the Motorhome and the downward slope to the house, we had found it impossible to drive off the chippings, even with paving slabs under the wheels, so Dougal had been brought into action every time. A bit of a pain, yes, but as T has pointed out……..it is an excellent anti theft device

Yesterday was no different.

Dougal to the rescue

T hooking up the tow rope.

Ready steady....pullDougal at the ready.

Good old Dougal

A couple of seconds later and T is rolloing up the tow rope…..

On the road

…..and we are on the road and ready to set off.

Tyres

………first stop was the local Tesco to check the tyres, which amazingly had only lost one pound each.

It was wonderful to be travelling in it again, and it wasn’t long before we started reminiscing about last years wonderful holidays, and where our plans would take us this year.

We did a round trip, Evesham, Tewkesbury, Upton on Severn, Worcester and home.

Lost in conversation, though still with camera in hand, I’m afraid I only managed a pic of Evesham

EveshamThe main street through the old market town of Evesham, the Town hall is the old building in the centre of the photo. Turn left in front of the Town Hall the pedestrianised Bridge Street, takes you down to the River Avon, which has flooded many times.

Happy Camper ran perfectly, so once home, T took it for the dreaded MOT.

MOT

To be honest, we hadn’t expected any problems, but we were both elated to be presented with our piece of paper, stating it’s roadworthiness for another year.

A week in Whitby – day seven

SATURDAY 26th MAY

I woke up feeling quite sad, this was the last full day of what had been a truly fantastic week.

What more could anyone have wished for. Earlier this year, we had purchased our motorhome, which for me had been a long standing dream. We were in Yorkshire, for obvious reasons one of my favourite places in the UK, and after almost six weeks of more or less of continual rain, we’d had a week of totally stunning weather.

I could hear the seagulls outside. On the mornings of the sea frets, there had been an eerie silence, so I was hoping this was a good sign, as I reached up and unclipped the blind of the rear window.

I couldn’t have wished for a better sight…………

I unfastened the window and opened it as wide as it would go, reached for my camera to record what my eyes were seeing……….the start of another beautiful day!!!

Much on the same lines as yesterday, we sat outside for breakfast then discussed how we’d spend the final day. We both agreed there was no point in driving anywhere as we had all we wanted on the site.

T had called into a pub in Whitby earlier in the week, and found they would be screening a rugby match he wanted to watch, so his plans for the afternoon were sorted.

Firstly though, Sal and Jasp needed a walk, so we set off along the Cleveland Way in the direction of Robin Hoods Bay. I had viewed this section of the walk through my binoculars the previous evening, and although it wasn’t a proper footpath, it still looked OK for Jasper to cope with.

More a track than a footpath, the various fields were separated by swing gates to walk through, everything was going well, until we came across a flight of wooden steps straddling a ditch, they were far too steep for Jasp to manage, and without a slope at the side, reluctantly we had to turn back, probably a good job anyway, as it was getting quite warm by the time we got back to the van, and both dogs were quite happy to lie in the shade, while T and I sat soaking up the suns rays.

T was quite happy to stay where he was, as he’d be walking the mile into Whitby later,  but I wanted one final walk in the local bay, and as the tide was out, it was a perfect opportunity. Jasp wouldn’t have managed it, but I thought  Sal would enjoy a run on the beach, so grabbing my camera, we set off.

Sal ran almost the full length of the slope down to the beach, leaping off the three foot drop at the bottom, where we’d struggled with Jasp earlier in the week.

I walked out to the rock, which is just visible from this photo and Sal posed for her photo. The campsite is just visible to the top left of this pic.

We spent about an hour wandering around the beach and rocks, then went back up the slope to the site, I can’t believe how steep it was, unlike the other day when we were taking a couple of strides and stopping for Jasp, I had no excuse this time, Sal was already at the top, waiting for me and wagging her tail, by the time I, puffing like I’d just smoked about fifty fags (not that I’ve ever smoked) caught up with her.

Walking back through the campsite site entrance, I got back to the van just in time, as T was waiting to set off into Whitby. “I’ll be back in about two or three hours” he shouted back to me as he walked away.

Both dogs asleep, I’m sat in the sun, watching the world go by, with a bottle of Peroni in my hand………does life get any better?

Suddenly my phone rang…………it’s T……..”Vic, you won’t believe this” he carries on to tell me,  he’d got to the pub, just in time for the start of the game, walked into the lounge, to find a local derby of two Yorkshire football teams on the TV. Being in Yorkshire, with two Yorkshire teams on the TV, he didn’t think it a good idea to ask if he could watch the rugby instead. So he was going for a wander around the town.

After about an hour, thinking he’d probably be on his way back, I decided I’d take the dogs along the coast path to meet him. Half way there, I thought I’d better phone him to tell him what I was doing, just incase he’d decided to find a bus back. It was a good job I did, he was just leaving and his plan was to walk back along the beach. So, change of plan, he set off up Donkey Road to the cliff top path. Sal and Jasp were a picture, they couldn’t believe who they saw walking towards them, and charged up to greet him.

That evening, T had the mixed remains of yesterdays curry, I had beans on toast again, and we finished another bottle of red.

Looking out of the window later in the evening, I saw the beginning of a what I thought would be a beautiful sunset, so grabbing my camera, for the last time this holiday, I set off along the clifftop towards Whitby (again) for my finale photo.

SUNDAY 27th MAY

We had to be off site by 10am, so no leisurely wake up, breakfast etc. it was all hands on deck preparing the van for the off.

Calling to visit my mum in Harrogate on the way back to the midlands, we arrived home at 8pm, exhausted, but happy.

WHAT A FANTASTIC HOLIDAY THAT WAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A week in Whitby – day five

THURSDAY 24th MAY

This holiday week was going far too quick for me!

Thursday morning, I’m lying in bed wondering what the weather will be like when I open the blinds today. The cab area only has curtains around the screen, so we are not in total darkness, but the chinks of light coming in don’t give any indication of what to expect.

Sitting up, and with the excitement of a child opening a present, I unclip the rear window blind and lower it down………….

“Oh no!! The ancient mariners are back” I announced to a very puzzled T

“Huh!, what are you going on about”

Now bearing in mind he’s never seen ‘The Fog’ and I hadn’t explained how my imagination had gone into overload yesterday, I guess it must have seemed a very odd thing to say.

Five minutes of trying to explain who the ancient mariners were, and him with a ‘jeez, she’s away with the fairies’ look on his face, I gave up, and said “we’ve got a sea fret again”

We followed the routine of the previous days, bedding away, dogs fed, then over breakfast we discussed the plans for the day. It looked like another inland trip, so we prepared the motorhome to move off again.

Driving through the swirling mist on the campsite, we joined the road heading towards the Abbey, rounded a bend to see….

The Abbey bathed in sunshine with blue skies all around. Looking back in the wing mirrors, the campsite was still shrouded in the grey mist.

Today we’d decided we’d visit Grosmont, a small village in the Esk Valley, situated on the North Yorkshire Moors railway line.

Driving into the bustling village and over the railway crossing, we followed the signs to the car park and paid our fee. Checking the angle of the sun, that by this time was getting quite hot, we found a sheltered place to park up under the trees.

First thing first, the dogs needed at bit of a walk, so heading off into the surrounding wooded area, we followed the narrow tracks, hoping one of them might lead down to the nearby River Esk.

No such luck, the nearest we got to the river was a fenced off footpath, with a fifteen foot drop.

We did come across this bridge though, which looked like it might have carried some old rail track at some time or other.

Heading back to the van, we grabbed a bite to eat, watered the dogs, and decided to wander up into the town and have a look at the old rail station.

What an interesting history this station has. In 1839, the line between Whitby and Grosmont ran the first railway excursion in the world, a plaque at the station, tells a brief history, more detailed information can be read here.

Looking down the platform at Grosmont station, a very picturesque view towards the moors in the distance.

Just over the rail lines, was a very inviting looking pub, where we decided refreshments were required. The Station Tavern, perfectly positioned to watch any passing steam engines, we plonked our bodies down, to watch the world go by.

It wasn’t long before we were rewarded with The Green Knight passing by, and my mind drifted to how this scene must have looked over a hundred years ago, and how many people had sat in this very spot where I was.

Just opposite where we were sitting, was a sign ‘to the engine sheds’, so suitably refreshed, we crossed over to have a look.

Walking down the footpath, it led to Grosmont Tunnel, which was built as part of George Stephenson’s horse-drawn railway. Another possible first? The sign at the entrance suggested, Britains’ first railway tunnel, as well as the worlds first passenger tunnel. Continuing through the tunnel, there was free entry to view the engine sheds and although dogs were not permitted, there was a special shaded area to tie them up, with water bowls. I decided against leaving Sal and Jasp alone, so waited outside, while T went to have a look.

Heading back towards the rail crossing, down through the town, and past the car park, we went in search of the river again, staying on the road this time.

We found a ford, with extremely slippery cobbles and at almost a foot deep, not something we’d have wanted to drive through with the motorhome (if only I had my land rover). S&J enjoyed another cooling drink.

Driving back to the site, we both agreed, this had been another excellent day.

Dinner that night? Lasagne for T, and I was looking forward to my tortellini I thought I’d bought the day before, but I couldn’t find anywhere in the motorhome. After searching the whole van, I was getting really annoyed, that we’d paid for it, and left it at the supermarket, until I found the receipt for that days’ shopping, NO tortellini 😦 so it was beans on toast for me.

Sal enjoyed some toast too.

I later wandered along the cliff path to get some shots of Whitby abbey, as the mist started to come down again. Then the shower block, and back to my ready made bed 🙂

A week in Whitby – day four

WEDNESDAY 23rd MAY

Waking up, bright and early, listening to the sea through the half open roof vents, yeah! life’s good 🙂

‘The sun has got his hat on….hip, hip, hip, hurray………

This tune started humming through my mind, as I opened the blinds to greet the morning.

Huh! Oh no he hasn’t!……..

I peered out, through the rear window at nothing, a grey swirling mass of nothing. Opening the side blinds, I could just about make out one or two shapes of the nearby caravans.

Funnily enough, my mind suddenly stopped singing sunny songs, and I had flashbacks to a film I had seen on the TV a few years previous.

The Fog – It tells the story of a strange, glowing fog that sweeps in over a small coastal town, bringing with it the vengeful ghosts of mariners who were killed in a shipwreck there exactly 100 years earlier.

Luckily, this was just a sea fret, well known on the North East coast, that usually burns off later in the day, though the Whitby area is notoriously stubborn for not doing so.

Never mind, our plan for the day was to go onto the nearby moors, so hopefully we’d escape it anyway.

After a breakfast of cereals, T decided he was going to cook himself a bacon sandwich as well, so I wandered outside into the swirling mass with Sal & Jasp.

Walking round the site, I didn’t see a soul, I was half expecting those ancient mariners to materialise from the eerie atmosphere.

I hurried back, to find T had eaten, washed up and was preparing the van for the short journey inland.

The sea fret had lived up to it’s name, no sooner had we driven up out of Whitby, there was blue sky everywhere, not a cloud in sight.

We knew exactly where we were going…………..well sort of.
Somewhere on the North Yorks moors, between Goathland and Pickering, is a ford, not just any ford, but the one that had an old series Land Rover driving through it, in the opening credits of the Yorkshire TV program Heartbeat.

Me, being the very ‘sad’ person I am, decided a few years ago I wanted to drive my Land Rover through this ford too, so, much to T’s total bewilderment at this odd need I had, we made a few enquiries in Goathland (Aidensfield to Heartbeat fans) and went in search of ‘the ford’.

We found it, in fact two years later in 2008, we found it again, so I could do it for a second time 😳

So, here we were again, driving through Goathland, which incidentally was heaving with sightseers, trying to remember which of the many moorland roads was the one we needed. All moorland roads look the same, plenty of heather and sheep, but not much in the way of landmarks.

I’m sure T has some sort of sat nav programmed into his brain, he tells me it comes from years of driving trucks, but I was totally gobsmacked when after many lefts and rights at various unmarked crossroads, we arrived at ‘my ford’

No, we didn’t drive through it, it hasn’t quite got the same effect with the motorhome, so we parked it up, got the dogs out, and set off for a walk.

The dogs welcomed a cooling drink, in fact, Sal who doesn’t drink much water at all, couldn’t get enough of it.

This was a totally stunning place to walk, the photos I took, just don’t do it justice. There was total silence apart from the stream running over the stones, and the twittering birds.

Hello Mrs sheep and baby lambkin, you certainly live in a beautiful place.

The ford, OK, I know it doesn’t look much. We later found out the area is called Wheeldale, so I guess it’s Wheeldale ford.

We ambled back to the van, put the kettle on, and made ourselves a cuppa, then sat down outside and listened to…………nothing. The sound of silence, wonderful!!

T had also got a request, this was to go to a little place called Beck Hole, where we’d called in after our second ‘ford’ visit. There was a quaint little pub there, and he wanted to re-visit.

So, back into Goathland, which was still heaving with visitors, turn left and half a mile down a steep hill, we were back in Beck Hole.

We parked on the side of the road and walked over the bridge to the Birch Hall Inn.

What an amazing little pub this is, walking in from the road, was like walking into the past. Stone flags on the floor, wooden church pew style seating, and a serving hatch to order the drinks from.

We’d left Sal and Jasp in the van, mainly because Jasps legs had almost seized up, but found they’d have been more than welcome there. Every dog visitor gets a dog biscuit, served with their owners drinks.

T insisted I took his photo, so he could show his mates where he’d been.

After a most refreshing drink, we slowly wandered back to the motorhome, I grabbed a quick pic from under the bridge, looking back towards the pub on the other side.

A short drive back to the site, and we were soon settled, ready for our free delivery of fish & chips from one of the local Whitby chippies.

We later watched the sun go down over Whitby Abbey. A very odd occurrence. Here we are sat on the North East coast, watching the sun set over the sea. 😮

Day four, and we have the evening bed making plan working to a T (literally), as I popped down to have a shower. 😉

The end to another fantastic day!!

A week in Whitby – day three

TUESDAY 22nd MAY

Wow, was this weather really happening for us. I’d just opened the blinds, to be confronted by totally BLUE skies.

The day started very much on the same lines as yesterday, feed the dogs, put the bedding away, though this time T joined me with cereals for breakfast, before we took S & J  for their morning constitutional.

We thought we’d go and check out the local Saltwick Bay, which was two minutes walk from where we were parked, down the winding, well trodden path.

Halfway down we were confronted with steps again, not proper steps, but about twenty, dug into the cliff face and held into shape by planks of wood. Oh decisions, decisions, do we continue down, so the dogs can have a walk on the beach, or do we go back up again.

We decided to continue down, in places Jasper could walk on the grass at the side, and he was moving well, especially after yesterdays step disaster.

Slowly we edged our way to the bottom of the cliff……….. yeah, nearly there……..hmmm, perhaps not!! the final few yards meant either walking over five massive boulders, or a three foot drop. The boulders were definitely out, so we edged over to the drop. T jumped down, I held onto J to stop him trying the same.

We’re going to have to ‘float’ him down. ‘Float’ is my word for getting him out of the back of the discovery, whereby I hold him by his harness and under his belly, and telling him to ‘float’ as I lift him out, he then floats to the ground with the help of gravity.

Now he’s never floated from anything higher than the back of the motor, so this was a challenge. There’s T, waiting, arms outstretched holding onto J’s harness and rear end, as I position him on the edge…….ready, steady, f..l..o..a..t. and 34kg of dog is now standing on the sand, Yeah!!!, were down.

All the time this is going on, Sal had found a playmate on the beach, and was having a whale of a time.

We spent about an hour down there, wandering along the waters edge, sitting on the rocks, and basically enjoying the whole experience.

We’d been putting off getting back up, but it had to be done, so we went back to the drop, I stood on the edge, while T lifted Jasp up enough for me to grab his harness and hoist him up, then it was a slow climb back to the top. Jasp is so tolerant of all this manhandling, and just takes it in his stride.

It was then back to the motorhome for a well earned rest and a cuppa.

We decided we’d go to Robin Hoods Bay in the afternoon.

Now I’d have liked nothing more than to walk it, but five miles along the Cleveland way cliff top walk, was way over anything I’d expect J to do, so we unhooked the motorhome, tidied a few things away, and drove there.

Anyone who has ever visited this bay, will know that vehicles are nor permitted down the road to the bottom, so parking at the top, we set off down another steep descent.

View from the top, across the bay.

Walking down the narrow winding streets, re-ignited many childhood memories, of walking down with my parents. I remember being fascinated by all the mice that had been carved on the wooden gates and doors that lined the street, the signature of a local wood carver Robert Thompson, known as the Mouseman of Kilburn. Sadly there weren’t any mice to be seen anymore, but I expect he died many years ago, taking his craft with him.

At the bottom, T, S & J, heading for the seats outside The Bay Hotel, where we spent almost two hours watching the world go by.


This photo was taken from almost the same place as the one above, but just turning to my right for the view over the bay.

Oh, such happy memories of childhood innocence, when my dad and I would go rock pooling over those rocks.

Suitably rested, we were ready for the long climb back to the top, which Jasper coped with admirably.

A plaque at the top, which had gone un-noticed on our way down, tells of an amazing rescue performed by Whitby lifeboat.

Returning to the motorhome, it was a short trip back to the site.


We ordered a curry take away for free delivery, and later sat finishing off another bottle of red, watching the sun go down.

The bed for tonight?, yes T wanted to make up the double again, so I left him to it and went down to the immaculate shower block, returning to find my bed waiting for me to flop into.

This seemed a far more ciivilised idea to me 🙂

A week in Whitby – day two

MONDAY 21st MAY

After a really good nights sleep, we woke to the sound of tapping on the roof, oh no!, it can’t be rain surely, on opening the blinds, I realised it was seagulls dancing on the roof, obviously pay back time for denying them our scraps last night.

Jasp was still spark out, blocking the bathroom door, and a bleary eyed Little Sal was peering at us from between the front seats in the cab. Not for long mind, for as soon as T got up and put the kettle on (kettle in Sals mind means breakfast), she leapt up, tried to jump over the sleeping Jasp and landed on him,  Poor Jasp, wondering where he is and what the hell is happening, struggled to his feet while Sal is going into hyper mode.

Eventually calm reigns, the dogs having eaten were lying outside, the bedding was stored away (a darn sight faster than we got it out I might add), T had gone down to the site cafe for breakfast, I just sat and absorbed the peace and the stunning view of the sea.

The Cleveland Way footpath, runs through the campsite. This National Trail is approx 110 miles long, between Hemsley and Filey taking in the North Yorkshire moors and the North Yorkshire coast. This view is looking south towards Robin Hoods Bay.

Once T had come back from the cafe, we decided to do our bit of the Cleveland way. As it was just one mile along the cliff top to Whitby, it would be a good level walk for the dogs (poor Jasp can’t cope with much more these days), we could have a wander around the town, then amble back.

Heading towards Whitby Abbey on the Cleveland Way, the dogs loved it.

What we hadn’t accounted for was the steep descent from the Abbey into the town, part of which must have been 45 degrees. The further down we went, the more concerned I was as to how we’d get Jasp back up again, but always the optimist, T said we’ll find some way.

We had a lovely wander around the town, which hasn’t changed much from how I remember it from my childhood.

Waiting outside one of the many chippies was this rather well fed seagull.

After a few hours of wandering, we decided we’d better make a move back to the campsite. Before leaving home I’d researched the local buses, and found dogs travelled free, as we both had our bus passes with us, T went in search of a bus that would go past the site.

Sal Jasp and I waited patiently for his return.

He came back shaking his head, “I can’t find which bus we need, looks like we’ll have to walk back” So we set off in search of a different route back up to the Abbey.

After checking a town map, we decided we’d try a route called Caedmon’s Trod. This was an even bigger disaster, it was all steps, and quite deep ones too, Jasp collapsed on the second set of steps, when his back legs gave way, after getting him onto his feet, we then had to help him back down to the bottom.

We made our way back to the steep Donkey Road, ready for the slow climb up, not before Jasp became a film star though, when a chap with a posh SLR camera asked if he could take his photograph. Several poses later, we started the climb, and after stopping many times, we eventually reached the top for the level cliff top walk back.

That evening, after a meal of pizza, salad and a bottle of red wine, we proceeded to make the bed. Yes, T was having his choice of the massive double, king or whatever you want to call it. Now believe me, this is not a feat easily accomplished, when half the motorhome is bed, it is almost impossible for two people to make the bed up, as there is nowhere to stand, especially when the other half is taken up by two dogs, one of which insists that he is sleeping in front of the bathroom door again. At least with two singles I had some spare floor, so I left T to it, and sat in the cab until it was done………….hmmmm, I could get used to this 🙂

10 miles for a cuppa

Today was (is) my birthday, I’d forgotten until yesterday, but as the counter ticks up, you sort of do that anyway.

My life in the last few weeks has been one long birthday, I mean, realising a longtime ambition sort of outshines anything else, and what is a birthday anyway, it’s just a number, and I certainly don’t feel as old as my number tells me I should.

No bus pass, or cheap rail travel, we pushed the boat motorhome out today and went 10 miles down the road to Bidford on Avon. Bidford is a beautiful little village on the River Avon, I guess the name gives that away though 😉

It was our first trip out in the motorhome, Sal & Jasp settled themselves into the lounge area and off we went. Parking up on the banks of the river, I removed our old camping chairs from the storage locker, setting them up on the grass beside the motohome, T switched the gas on, filled the kettle ready for a nice cuppa.

We sat there like an old retired (oops we are) couple, sipping our tea and watching the world go by. Later we took the dogs for a walk along the river bank, seagulls were squawking above, we could have been miles away in some coastal holiday resort, instead of a few miles from home.

We had a wander over the old bridge, apparently built in the 15th century by monks, before returning to the motohome for the short journey home.

Sal & Jasp, already enjoying the new found freedom, while T waits for the kettle to boil.

Camera on self timer and balanced on the step, I just had to record this ‘1st cuppa’ moment. Not sure what T is doing, suntanning the soles of his feet by the look of it.

The old bridge over the river, very picturesque on a day like today.

Sal & Jasp travelled very well not moving at all, though I do need to sort out some sort of restraint for them, just in case.

This evening, Debs came round for a birthday dinner of Jacket potatoes, beans (the blue can variety, sorry K), cheese and green leaves, and of course, a Peroni or two.

T & Deb then did a birthday dance for me.

A dream come true

For anyone reading this, who doesn’t know, a while back on 2nd March we’d been trundling around the Midlands looking for something to benefit our retirement.

It’s been a dream of mine for many years, in fact more years than I can remember, and I’d been saving hard for a long time, T was never really that interested, so I assumed my purchase would be a very old one, and it would be for just me and the dogs to escape in, but about 18 months ago, he announced that WE were going to get one, but not until I retired. Those months dragged, but eventually I retired last December and we started looking.

Well we’ve finally got it this week!!  and at last we can escape the rat race, the crowds and venture off the beaten track, and in comfort too as the old bones aren’t what they used to be.

IMG_2750

It is a 2005 Autocruise Starspirit, made in Yorkshire, which can’t be bad 😉  One previous owner, who had kept it emaculate. Lots of little extras, an awning on the side, a solar panel on the roof to charge the leisure battery, a well hidden safe (took us a while to find it and we knew it had one), a bike rack, and a gas sensor alarm. I’ve read horrific stories of folk parking up at night, waking up the next morning, finding the van ransacked after having had sleeping gas pumped into the van, hopefully we’ll never find ourselves in that situation, but the added security of that sensor is quite reassuring. It’s even got an external shower, though doubt that’ll get used in this country, except by Sal & Jasp. 😀

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a few images of the interior.

The adventure starts now!!