Monday, 14 December 2015

Local Loveliness

As Hugo sat atop the ancient stone altar, I contemplated whether I should sacrifice him to the gods of excrement or let him live. He had just rolled in his third fox poo of the morning and I was not relishing the idea of washing him in Dickie's shower cubicle. Sense prevailed and Hugo is still with us despite putting up a bit of a fight as he was cleansed in the waters of our van.

We are normally somewhere in Europe at this time of year but, due to family commitments, we have decided to make the most of what the UK has to offer and do some small trips in the local area. West Cornwall beckoned and we spent a night at Gurnards Head, a lovely pub with great food, just near Zennor. Graham has a book coming out early next year so we combined our trip with a drop off of the final proofs to his book's publishers, Troy Books, who are located near Penzance.

If you eat in the restaurant you can park your van overnight and there is a fabulous, if somewhat muddy and foxy, coast walk just minutes away. This is where we discovered the remnants of an ancient chapel with only its altar remaining. The rocky cliffs lead down to stunning beaches, only accessible by dangling precariously from a rope by the look of things. As tempting as it was to fling ourselves down for a walk on the sand, we desisted and stuck to the coast path.

The rain started so we headed off to the Ayr Campsite in St Ives. We've stayed there several times before as it's superbly located within walking distance of the town and it has great views over the sea. We had to do the touristy thing and ate fish and chips in view of the ever-present seagulls by the main beach. The rain came in so we spent the rest of the afternoon in Dickie just enjoying being away from home and pretending we were in France or Spain.

The murmurations of the starlings on Bodmin Moor were calling so we finished off our Cornish odyssey with a trip out to Roughtor near Camelford. The birds did not disappoint and millions of them came in to nest around 430pm, entertaining all who had come to watch. We can't get away too far this winter but it's great to think there is so much to see and do so close to home.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Return

Mr Fluffy's outbursts of 'You're acting like a 12 year old', 'you're being daft', and even 'you need a psychiatrist!' are not helpful. All this because I refused to drive Dickie over the Severn Bridge. Last time I almost had a full blown panic attack so did not want this happening again.
I know I'm a total wimp and don't feel confident driving our large Dickie so I suggested we look at a few van conversions on the way home. We popped in to Highbridge Motorhomes near Bristol and had a look. Our first Dickie was a transit Duetto which we loved but, after looking at the vans yesterday, we realised that once you've had a Hymer it's difficult to go back to a smaller van. The build quality and space available are perfect for us and the only reason we would change is my mental block on driving it.

So I bit the bullet and did actually drive from Wells to Boscastle, even doing the seven point turn required to park on our front driveway. Perhaps I don't need a psychiatrist after all.

Friday, 23 October 2015

A Winding Road Through Some Fluff and a Phallus

Lindisfarne boaty cabins
As we head slowly back to Cornwall we’ve agreed that we will definitely be travelling back to Scotland in Dickie again. After the Outer Hebrides and a night stop at a gorgeous beach in Ardmair, just outside Ullapool, we drove across to Braemar. The forests around there are similar to how it would have looked just after the Ice Age with thousands of birch trees and juniper bushes interspersed with heath land. We were lucky enough to be caught in a mini-gale and were rained upon by a flurry of tiny birch leaves which freaked Hugo out totally.
The Autumn Leaves

We’re now heading down through Yorkshire having spent a couple of nights wildcamping in Northumberland. We were a little disconcerted to come out of the Elk’s Head pub in Whitfield the other night to the sight of a chap whipping his shotgun out of his car boot. Luckily we’d been informed there was a hunt on the next day or we’d have picturing ourselves on the next episode of Crimestoppers. Lindisfarne was a surprise as we were expecting a calm spiritual vibe but we actually found a penis made of rocks at the base of the castle - who'd have thought!
Lindisfarne Phallus - no I did not make this

Crossing the sea to Lindisfarne in Dickie

Lindisfarne Castle

Stone statues on the beach

It looks like we’re following the route of the Yorkshire Tour de France as there are many yellow bikes along the way. Last night was a stopover at The Swan Pub in Addingham which, Graham informs me, did a great pint of beer. Unfortunately it was not serving food so we ate at the very popular Craven Heifer which, although not very cheap, served very good food with great service.
Mr Fluffy gets a bit more fluff than he bargained for

Having driven through the slightly less bucolic outskirts of Bradford (along the excitingly named Godwin Road) we were pleased to arrive in the spa town of Buxton. The campsite is within walking distance to the town through a lovely wood. It looks like snow out there so we’re hunkered down in Dickie awaiting a turn in the weather. 
The Lovely Godwin Road
Tomorrow Dovedale - if the weather holds out.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Sail Away to Stornaway

Near Marbhig
“It’s always good to have someone at each end.” The men holding the doors for me on the upper and lower decks both visibly reddened and chortled at the unintended double entendre. Scampering off with Mr Fluffy’s tray of smoked duck salad, I wondered how I can often manage to sound a teeny bit filthy without intending to.
The Fluffster and Hugo sat on the upper deck of the Stornaway - Ullapool ferry trying not to get seasick; hence my servant status. Luckily it was the calmest sailing Graham has had. The last time he did this crossing it was the 80s and he spent the majority of the trip draped over a toilet empty the contents of his stomach as the ferry was flung around by gigantic waves.
One of our favorite Callanish stones

We’ve had amazing weather and we were lucky enough to park overnight at the Standing Stones of Callanish (with permission I might add). I’ve been wanting to get to Callanish for years so it was fantastic to be able to spend more than a few hours there. There are three separate sites within easy walking distance of the visitors’ centre, through rather muddy fields, but the slush is worth it. Next day we headed up to the northernmost point of Lewis to the Point of Ness where, every August, the local men head out to one of the islands to hunt gannets which are a delicacy in the area. The beach there is strikingly beautiful and it’s easy to see how it could get more than a little hairy in bad weather.
And another favorite

There is an area called the South Lochs which is a bit of a hidden gem according to the tourist literature. It is certainly extremely lovely and surprisingly free of tourists. The very helpful woman in the Ravenspoint Visitors’ Centre (An interesting museum and shop) suggested a gorgeous spot to overnight in Dickie. It was by a small loch near the village of Marbhig and to say it was idyllic would be an understatement. There were rarely any cars passing and all we could hear was the gentle lapping of the water and a few birds tweeting their happiness at living in such a fabulous place. There are sea eagles around there but we didn’t manage to see any unfortunately.
Callanish II stone

Near Ullapool there is a bay at a village called Ardmair which is also amazing. We parked here on our way to Lewis and on the night we returned as it was so lovely. We will definitely be back to this area of Scotland. The people are friendly and the scenery is to die for. I think next time we’ll head down to Harris and pick up a tweed or two.
An ancient Black Village

And now we are back to reality sitting in a caravan park near Inverness having just done all our washing, filled and emptied every Dickie receptacle as needed, and hoovered the seeming kilos of Hugo’s fur off the furniture. Wildcamping is great but it’s nice to get to a washing machine occasionally.
More Callanish Stones

Tomorrow we head to Findhorn and the east. Looking forward to what happens next.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Stunning Scotland

I think Scotland is the most beautiful place I have ever been - with the one exception of Norway which is marginally more breathtaking due to the icy blue of the fjords.
Castlerigg stone circle

We've made our way up from Lancaster to stay in a very pleasant campsite in Balloch on the shores of Loch Lomond. It's a great spot to get a first taste of the lochs and, despite the rain, we had a stunning walk along the lochside and got a spot of Chinese takeaway from 5 minutes up the road. That's the last campsite we stayed in and since then we've wildcamped up through the stone circles of the valley around Kilmartin, and the beaches of the Ardnamurchan peninsula. Here are a few pictures to show the fabulousness of the areas we've visited.
Rock art on way to Kilmartin
Standing Stones near Kilmartin

The boys get in on the stoney act

Temple Wood burial chamber

Close up of Temple Wood
We had a particularly fabulous meal at The Whitehouse in Lochaline following a walk along the loch to an ancient castle.
One of our many seaside views

Hugo enjoying the silica sand of Lochaline

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Tongues, Buns, and Lovely Lochs

When did I suddenly start wearing old lady's shoes? Well in the last 3 weeks actually. On a shopping day with my friend Jill we searched through dozens of loafers until I found a pair for about £25. 'Result!' I thought, until a few days later I saw an eighty year old woman wearing exactly the same pair. Worse was to come as I need to wear innersoles to make them fit. 'What have you done to your feet?' Graham chortled as he pointed to my offending appendages. I had inadvertently slipped my delicate tootsie underneath the innersole so it was poking out the top of the loafer like a dirty brown tongue. Very attractive indeed.  

And my buttocks have not been spared the aging process as I became a parody of the elderly Patsy in Ab Fab when my 'No VPL' undies swiveled their way to my ankles after a tense walk home from dinner in Wells. I felt they were a little loose, not due to my svelte snake hips I might add, but more due to the slippery fabric and lack of elastic. The walk back to Dickie involved repeated hitchings-up of the aforementioned undergarment until I got sick of it and merely grabbed the front section and let my buttocks swing, unencumbered by fabric, down the back of my thighs. As I stepped into Dickie I finally gave up and the undies fell to the floor in a a Patsy-esque heap. Much chortling ensued as Hugo grabbed them and whizzed around the van with them hanging from his mouth.

All this on the start of our trip to Scotland. Merriment should be the order of the day if it continues like this. After stopping off in Lancaster to visit friends Kath and Dave, who managed to cook us a great Thai meal followed by dairy free crumble while building an extension to their house, we've made our way up to the shores of Loch Lomond. The sun is shining and Graham is desperately trying to get the satellite to work so I can watch the final of Bake Off. Fingers crossed we'll get to see some British buns tonight - not like the ones dangling freely under my frock I hasten to add.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Scotland Here We Come

Various things have been conspiring against us in our quest to get away in Dickie again but it seems that we will be off some time next week. It won't be for as long as hoped but we should get a few weeks in. I'll be posting pics and, hopefully, amusing stories along the way. Och Aye the noo away we'll goooo!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Walking on Sunshine...NOT!

'Is that a chough or a crow wearing lipstick?' Mr Fluffy was never great at ornithology.

Day one was sunny and bright but it went downhill after that. Having walked 50 miles of the 150 mile South West Coast Path, the rain finally beat the two chaps and they called it a day at Coverack. As Donna and I drove down west through the thick mist and driving rain we wondered what sort of drowned rats would be awaiting us. The boots were off. Soggy socks draped over backpacks, hats drooping under the watery strain, and the wan smiles forced on their two faces told us all we needed to know. It was time to call it a day and wait for a more, shall we say, clement bit of weather to complete the trek.

For photos of the adventurers and a map of their walk click here. 

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Driving Mr Dickie

'It's only a twenty minute walk to Mevagissey'. 

The warden on the desk at Heligan Wood campsite is in desperate need of a map and a watch. An hour after leaving the site we arrived at aforementioned town cursing the woman and dreading the uphill walk back to Dickie. 

Having just completed my first ever Dickie drive without Mr Fluffy I needed something more akin to a gin and tonic as opposed to a massive walk but I'm hoping my buttocks are the perter for it. We arrived unscathed apart from a rather distressed steering wheel which now has a permanent imprint of my sweaty palms. 
Gripping to excess

The geographically challenged warden was forgiven when we realised it was only a two minute walk to Heligan Gardens to see the Kneehigh production of Michael Morpurgo's 946. David's friend Lez Brotherston designed the show and suggested we come and see it. It was well worth the drive down. Kneehigh always put on a fab show and we were lucky enough to go the the cast party afterwards for a few small beverages. As we had only a teeny walk back to Dickie I could indulge in a red wine or two.
What a massive frock - with Lez and David - oh and Hugo
If anyone is interested in seeing a show or visiting the gardens at Heligan in Cornwall I can recommend a stay at Heligan Woods Campsite. Just be wary of their directions.

After a successful drive back to Boscastle the next morning we relaxed with Mr Fluffy on the kayaks. Much less stressful and we even caught our dinner.
What lovely feet I have

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

First Drive Fluffyless

The panic is starting to set in as I realise it's less than 24 hours before I take Dickie out on my own - well I have a friend with me but he is a Dickie novice. Yes Mr Fluffy has agreed that I can take the van down to Heligan to see the Michael Morgpurgo play, 946,for a night without him. 
I'm not a complete novice. I drove all the way to Hay On Wye recently and was fabulous until I had a virtual panic attack whilst driving across the Severn Bridge on the way back. The Fluffster's cries of 'Don't be daft woman!' and 'You're being ridiculous!' did NOT help at all. The steering wheel has only just recovered from the excessive sweat and tight grip that I subjected it to as I drove across the terrifying bridge. I can only imagine what I would be like if I had to be behind the wheel when crossing that hideous bridge on the outskirts of Honfleur.
Anyway there should be no horrendous bridge action on the way to Heligan tomorrow, only skinny roads and awful traffic. There will be reports of how I get on. Eeeeek.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Travels on Footie Not Dickie

After six months driving around in Dickie Graham felt the urge for a change of pace so he chose to undertake long walk. After a bit of research he decided to trot across the Two Moors Way - a mere 120 mile stroll. He roped in good friend Anthony to accompany him on the walk, and weirdly enough, they both seem to have enjoyed it. Or could it be that they enjoyed the break from us women for 8 days? 

It took them just over a week to complete their pootle from Wembury near Plymouth to the town of Lynmouth (famous for its flood which was very similar to Boscastle's) across Dartmoor and Exmoor. 

Graham has a Garmin record of their adventure including photos which can be seen by clicking on this link  Graham and Anthony's Lovely Adventure .

Monday, 6 July 2015

Oh Hay! On Wye

The carpark looked large and strangely inviting. We'd heard of this strange and wonderful place that allows motorhomers to park overnight and even sleep in their vans but we didn't really think it could be true! But yes it is true and how very forward thinking of the Hay on Wye council to allow people to stay and make the most of the local shops and restaurants.

And what a charming town it is with a good pub - The Blue Boar I think - a very good tapas restaurant and lots of interesting shops relating to books, clothes and antiques. I made the most of the shopping while Mr Fluffy took poor Hugo off for a 13 mile walk along Offers Dyke then the Wye Way. Hugo passed out on his return but was keen to go off on another ramble the next morning.

Mr F regaled me with tales of how lovely the walk had been, especially the standing stones he'd come across, but neglected to take any photos at all so the best I can do is Dickie in the carpark.
Thrilling 'Spot the Dickie' shot
On the way up we stayed at the Wells Holiday Park which is a lovely site within walking distance of town. We always stay here when we visit Graham's mum Betty. Hugo was not impressed when he met the cathedral cat outside the ASK restaurant. The ginger tom took great pleasure in sitting just out of Hugo's reach while playing the cello with a superior expression on its face.
Betty and Graham doing pizza at ASK
Mr Fluffy has now set off on a 100 mile walk across Dartmoor and Exmoor starting from Wembury and ending up at Lynmouth. I'm hoping he'll at least have a few pics from this trip - Dickieless though it will be.
Missing Dickie already - Wembury starting point

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The Call of Dickie

Sun setting over Western Blackapits
Boscastle is spectacular at all times of the year but especially in summer when the sun shines and the tiny orchids peep out on the cliffs overlooking the harbour. Graham has been out for a few trips on the kayak and we're off fishing this afternoon. Hugo is loving the local cow poo (that's for Simon and Deborah) but has been attacked once by a small terrier which made him a little scared of dogs for a few days. Happily he has now recovered his composure and is back to jumping all over German Shepherds and barking at the postman.
Common or Roman Orchid - not sure which

Pyramid Orchid

Despite the loveliness of Boscastle the pull of Dickie is ever present. We're heading to Shropshire for a few days and Graham will be navigating as I need to get some driving practice in before a week away in July. This could get terrifying for Graham but I shall endeavour to keep all of us on the road.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Boscastle Bound

Weather in Deal slightly less fabulous than Spain and Portugal
Suzi and Scottie from The Dining Club
Hugo's shivering and 'freaked out' expression showed that he was not a massive fan of the Eurotunnel but once we arrived in Deal, a short drive from Folkestone, all was well. His new pal, Welly the Westie, graciously welcomed him into his house (thankfully) and they enjoyed many sniffs, I mean walks, along the seafront. It's exceptionally wonderful to have friends who are not only great fun people but also the owners/chef of Deal's 'number one on Tripadvisor' restaurant, The Dining Club. Loving a bit of fine dining at the end of a six month stint on the continent.
Welly hogging the camera

If ever there was a bleak, windswept yet atmospheric place to wildcamp it's Dungeness. Graham has been keen to stay here ever since we visited last year on our way to Scandinavia so we headed over after Deal and parked up. The signs instructing people what to do in case of a nuclear disaster were a little offputting (there is a large nuclear plant there), especially when I woke up in the morning to the sound of an alarm which,I was pleased to discover, was a fog horn alerting ships to the fact that you could not see your hand in front of your face. Despite the fog and threat of nuclear fallout it's a great place to stay - we asked the local policemen who drove past every half hour if it was ok to stay and they said it was no problem - good fish and chips at The Britannia Inn as well.
Derek Jarman's house at Dungeness

That is not a fat stomach - I have something in my pocket
just because he looks cute
I say this is a big one!
'They're weird looking dogs'
Minster woods
Sanding is pants
It was not much of a struggle to leave the fog and rain of Dungeness in the morning and we headed to one of our favorite places, Avebury (via Tichborne) to meet up with our friends Anthony and Donna who are heading to Scotland in their Hymer Helga. Hugo and his new friend Louie enjoyed sniffing the stones and meeting sheep.
Now we're back in Boscastle which is no hardship as it's such a beautiful place. As soon as we returned the sun came out (obviously happy to see us). Hugo is loving the walks in the woods although he has been attacked (nothing serious) by a couple of nasty dogs which is making him a little nervous. The most exciting thing I'm doing at the moment is preparing a table for painting while Mr Fluffy goes off in his kayak - hmmm.