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.