Week 131

Friday 4th September 2020 to Thursday 10th September 2020

A grind of a week. The excitement never starts as I get stuck into cleaning the van…

This is what nearly a year of parking under pine trees does to a roof

I broke the rooflight on Nelly trying to open it so I could clean it 🙁  If I could ever find a replacement it would cost an absolute arm and a leg so I have to fix the old one and it’s going to involve bending perspex.

Donating blood is actually far more fun than washing a motorhome…

It only takes me 10 mins to fill a bag and afterwards I get to eat as many bags of crisps & biscuits as I want 😀

One bright note I finally found a garage to put two new tyres on Nelly

WTF is so difficult about that Halfords?

I’m bored now; bored of being at home and bored of this fuckin’ virus.

I can’t believe the absolute nonsense that comes out of this government on a daily basis, they truly are a ship of fools.

While Boris is head buffoon he is closely followed by Matt Hancock who looks more and more out of his depth with his every gibbering utterance.  I think he’d struggle as an Assistant Manager at a small B&Q store. If we ever do have a COVID inquiry one of the first questions that needs to be answered is why Hancock wasn’t sacked in April.

As for Boris’ new Rule of 6 it’s just complete and utter bollocks; most of these new infections are either young people up north or Muslims; young people have never socially distanced and they never will as they know they’e unlikely to ever actually get ill with it and a lot of Muslims don’t seem to give a shit.

Why we don’t just shield the vulnerable and let this virus rip is beyond me; go for Herd Immunity and be done with it. Otherwise we’ll be stuck in this ridiculous limbo for years and years.

I just hope France doesn’t bar travellers from the UK before we set off back to Portugal next month.

I cant wait!

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Week 130

Friday 28th August 2020 to Thursday 3rd September 2020

The week started off bloody freezing…

well it is August bank holiday

The van was booked in to a Halfords service centre for two new  front tyres but they shit themselves when they saw the size of Nelly. Nelly is plated at 1.850kg on the front axle; I had a look on the Halfords website and every trolley jack they sell could easily have done the job.

Friday is Pieday! I had  another breakfast pie for lunch then a pizza pie for tea.

Tomatoes, mozzarella, char-grilled courgettes, peppers & mushrooms, some pesto, capers and chillies,  delish!

Getting a bit bored of being in Reigate; have half a trip to Shropshire planned for before we set off for Portugal but we really need some good weather.

Had a few walks

Found a stunned baby squirrel who had fallen out of a tree…

Cfor would love to play with this little chap

Did some gardening…

did some work on the van 😀

 

 

 

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Week 129

Friday 21st August 2020 to Thursday 27th August 2020

A breezy start to the week so out for a good walk

The Hills in Surrey are more molehills after Scotland

Another week of appointments, Cfor went to the vets to get his booster jabs and his pet passport updated

What an earth did they inject him with!

My new toy arrived…

A new era in British cuisine dawns

First up was a Breakfast pie…

Mushrooms on the bottom, the sides lined with slices of veggie sausage then loaded with baked beans and topped with an egg, delish  😀 😀

I could eat pies every day but there are 600 calories just in the pastry and I’m already 13st 8lb 🙁

 

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Week 128

Friday 14th August 2020 to Thursday 20th August 2020

the very first carrot off the allotment! 😀

I have a week of appointments, first up a gastropathy for my Barrett’s oesophagus which is where the oesophagus, the pipe all your food goes down, doesn’t get properly closed off by the diaphragm causing cells in the gullet to change as they are washed over by stomach acid. It’s an unpleasant inspection with something the size of a double barrelled shotgun pushed down your throat. Fortunately they give you the option of being knocked out.

Turns out I now also have a Hiatus Hernia down there which may cause bad breath & burping. Really? I think I must have had that for a while 😀

A mural has sprung up near Reigate train station…

Teachers!!! Exactly what have they done in this pandemic except sit at home refusing to work?

Wednesday, it’s absolutely pissing down. This time last week it was so humid we were prying for rain now everywhere is waterlogged. Pity any poor fuckers on a staycations.

Next up an MOT for Nelly. I’ve only done 5,000 miles so there really shouldn’t be any problems…

Brilliant, it failed on uneven front brakes and a blown headlight bulb. The brake caliper was seized, a replacement one was £400 so they spent a couple of hours un-seizing it and rebuilding it. The failed headlamp was actually a rotten wiring harness. The total bill was £366 including a new set of pads & the MOT itself so I got off lightly.

Cfor making himself at home

Finally to the dentist where after my abscess I thought they’d want to do some route canal work but surprise surprise they tell me they can’t use the high speed drill or the low speed drill without donning a spacesuit and then once they’ve finished the treatment evacuating the room for an hour while all the aerosol generated settles down. They can still use their card machine though; £115 for checkup, a couple x-rays and a 10 minute scrape. In and out in under 25 minutes.

 

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Week 127

Friday 7th August 2020 to Thursday 13th August 2020

It’s me burfday! We hopped on Zippy and travelled the 20 miles from Whitby down to Scarborough.

Scarboro’ is a nice little town, far less commercialised than Whitby and all the better for it in my opinion.

You have the north bay which has next to no shops and is very quiet…

and the south bay which is the town itself and where they have tat on sale but no where near as much as Whitby

the beach at Scarborough

We had a leisurely stroll along the beach and on the front, a ride on a funicular, a spot of lunch then a quick trip to see the castle.

Scarborough castle

as an added bonus they had Anne Brontë’s grave in a corner of a car park

The cultural bit done it was back to Whitby for some chips & curry sauce along with a couple of buttered barms and a can of ice cold lager; the perfect burfday treat 😀

Next stop was Harrogate. We were due to meet a friend in Betty’s tea shop but no sooner had we landed than Cfor was out of the door and into a hedge. Then vans started arriving and dogs started barking and children were shouting…

the little fucker was hiding away in there for 4½ hours!

I missed Betty’s waiting for the little swine to return…

Julie enjoyed herself

that doesn’t look much like tea!

Sunday and we were going to make an early start heading home via Walsall but wouldn’t you know it His Lordship went back to his hedge for another 3 hours.

M25/M3 junction virtually traffic free so it’s clear so the economy is still tits up.

Back home Cfor needed a rest after all his adventures

The heat in Reigate is deeply unpleasant, we’re just sat around sticking to everything waiting for some thunderstorms; what I’d give for some Scottish smirr!

At long last! I can’t make my mind up if this is stair rods or cats & dogs

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Week 126

Friday 31st July 2020 to Thursday 6th August 2020

Woke up in Brora, it was actually dry.

a Highland Coo on the golf course at Brora

a Highland cutie

We travelled further south to Aviemore staying in a pine forest. The woman at reception warned us against letting Cfor out as there were Pine Martins about and they will kill and eat a cat. We compromised and just let him out while it was light.

The weather wan’t too bad

We were looking forward to visiting the Reindeer centre but unbelievably they had no sodding reindeer there. You had to pay £17.50 and walk up a big hill to visit and feed them. Luckily we’d missed their meal time so we went to the natural beach at Loch Morlich.

100s of gingers all getting burnt

Does your average Scotsman really need reminding when the pubs are open?

Saturday we travelled to Edinburgh on the way we stopped at the Kelpies near Falkirk.

impressive

After settling into the camp at Edinburgh I memorised the route into the city centre and set off on Zippy; big mistake. They’ve closed dozens of road because of COVID and I got hopelessly lost. On top of that the roads were shockingly bad, they made Italian roads look good! Sunday we got the bus into town.

We got off the bus on Princess Street and walked to the Royal Mile where they sell a considerable amount of Scottish themed tat.

after a few weeks in Scotland I’m suffering from a bad case of tartan overload.

Edinburgh is a very grey city and it was a very grey day.

Julie wanted to see the statue of Greyfriars Bobby

is that good luck?

Just a stone’s throw away is an eatery…

I wonder if they do a Korean kebab with extra hot woof-woof sauce

We trekked out to Holyrood to see the Scottish Parliament.

It turns out to be a bit of a shithouse architecturally speaking

Edinburgh has some beautiful buildings so it’s hard to imagine anyone ever though this was a good way to spend £414m. Mind you I suppose most of those pound notes were English.

Nicola wasn’t in so I left her a message from all the Daily Mail readers 😀

Joking aside I think Scotland should be an independent country.  It’s amazing to me they passed up on the chance.

Monday we hopped on Zippy and went to see the royal yacht Britannia. Sadly there was no Sunshine on Leith so it was bloody freezing.

We had a tour around the boat/ship/yacht…

Julie sat in the Admiral’s chair

Can you imagine?

The state dining table apparently took 3 hours to set

the state drawing room

We had lunch in the royal deck tea room

Julie had the smoked salmon sandwiches, she was in her element.

10/10 for the paprika sprinkled chips 😀

Back at camp Cfor kept disappearing into the hedge behind our van; God knows what feral things go on in there…

the boy is in there somewhere

Tuesday we headed back into England stopping just across the water from the Holy Island of Lindisfarne..

The view from the causeway to Holy Island; yes it really was this grey.

The island was packed with tourists, I struggled to get away from them…

The cross on St. Cuthbert’s Isle

 

The ruined Priory; at £7.90 was cheaper than Castle Urquhart but still ridiculous price to wander around a pile of old stones.

Lindisfarne Castle; owned by the National Trust & closed for COVID.

Thursday we set off for Whitby stopping off at the Angel of the North

It was a lot lot smaller than I’d imagined

Whitby turned out to be a massive disappointment; the town itself was tacky…

but I suspect that’s how most of the visitors like it

even though it was a Thursday it was overrun with tattooed pie eaters.

Whitby Abbey, supposedly an inspiration for Dracula

Tomorrow’s me burfday, I won’t be spending it in Whitby.

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Week 125

Friday 24th July 2020 to Thursday 30th July 2020

We travelled north to Drumnadrochit, a small village by Castle Urquhart on the banks of Lock Ness.

Loch Ness

It was a lovely sunny afternoon when we arrived so we went to visit Castle Urquhart. Luckily it was closed so I climbed over the fence to have a gander. If it’d been open it would have cost me £12!

Honestly, how can anyone justify charging £12 to look around a ruined old castle.

Mind you when I enquired in the village about a boat trip on the loch I was told I could hire a boat for £125 an hour!!!!!

The good weather didn’t last long and it hammered down all night and it was wet the next morning. We chanced a trip into the village for lunch but predictably wet got a little wet.

Alfresco eating in Scotland

Cfor likes the site at Drumnadrochit, plenty of long grass for him to chew

Sunday we travelled to Dornoch on the east coast. As we travelled along the banks of Loch Ness Julie thought she saw the monster! About 10 miles further on she though she saw the monster again! How many people can say they have seen the monster twice in a day?

It was dreadful weather on the road…

but it brightened up after lunch and we had a walk around the town.

Dornoch is a pretty little town

Great 4g too

I had a yomp through the dunes to the beach

the beach at Dornoch

Monday we travelled to Thurso. I sneezed all the way 🙁

Cfor is loving being back on the road

Monday night the wind really got up and we woke up Tuesday to the van rocking in 50mph winds. It was bloody freezing, you’d never guess it was very nearly August.

Thurso Bay, bracing in July

The wind kept up all day but had abated by Wednesday morning and we headed out to John o’Groats; we’d read mixed reviews of the place…

but it’s a fucking sign post, what do you expect?

I’ll tell you what I wasn’t expecting…

The worst tray of chips in Scotland!

Chips thrown away we headed out to the most northerly point on the UK’s mainland, Dunnet Head.

That crumbly looking bit of rock jutting out is the most northerly point of the UK mainland

Cfor rightly wasn’t too impressed.

Thursday we started the journey south. First stop was a lovely site at Brora

The beach at Brora

Earlier this week Boris Johnson was on the news saying he wants people to lose a bit of weight. I might actually have to join him because the other day Julie said I had a body like the other Boris…

No more breakfasts for me 🙁 !

 

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Week 124

Friday 17th July 2020 to Thursday 23rd July 2020

Being on the west coast of Scotland the weather around Fort William is very changeable; it’s usually either wet, very wet or extremely wet. When the wind gets up it drives the rain down the glen and it is extra extra miserable. And this is all at about 20m above seal level, I imagine up on Ben Nevis at 1345m it’ll be like being in a fucking washing machine.

Ben Nevis is somewhere in that cloud

Very occasionally the sun does come out but never for too long then it’s back to the wet

Meanwhile Reigate basks in beautiful sunshine…

On Friday afternoon, amazingly, the weather did brighten up  so we jumped on Zippy and headed down the glen to see the Steall waterfall. The short ride down the glen was absolutely beautiful and we stopped off at the Lower Falls.

The Lower Falls

At the end of the single track we had to park up and yomp the rest of the way. The path started out friendly enough…

Common Spotted Orchid

but it soon became a little challenging in places.

wet too

We came across numerous waterfalls

and eventually made it to Steall waterfall.

Scotland’s second-highest waterfall, with a single drop of 120 metre

On Saturday the weather was very poor but the car park of the start of the Mountain Trail up Ben Nevis was full to overflowing. From where Nelly is parked we can see a little of the start of the mountain trail, we can see the people trudging along; sitting in Nelly listening to the rain hammer down I wondered how many people on the trail were actually enjoying their walk up the Ben Nevis today; poor bastards.

More of the same on Sunday, we managed a short walk but it did rain. We are eating up box sets.

Spear Thistle

the end of the rainbow

Monday was forecast to be a dry day but it still rained a lot and I still got wet riding Zippy into town.

Monday; still no sign of the top

I knew from past experience that the west coast of Scotland can be very wet so I booked in here for 9 nights here hoping that we’d get at least one decent day but I was quite prepared to leave without going up Ben Nevis if we didn’t get a dry day; going up a mountain in the wet is not my idea of fun.

Since we’ve been here the weather forecast for Tuesday has varied between wet and sunny, it turns out to be dry so after waiting around for 6 days I can finally get to go up Ben Nevis 😀

The start of the mountain trail by the Ben Nevis visitor centre

The Mountain Trail used to be called the Tourist Trail but so many people got in trouble by thinking it was easy or by looking for something a bit more challenging that they changed the name to emphasise this is not path to be messed with.

The trail has 4 distinct parts: the lower zig-zags to the tarn, the path from the tarn to the upper zig-zags, the upper zig-zags themselves and then the plateau.

The first zig-zags are largely paved to stop the soil being worn away, they aren’t great for walking on.

The first zig-zags are quite steep. I’d necked a  couple of energy gels at the start of the trail and after about 15 minutes walking I had buzzing in both my ears; I wondered if this was the precursor to a stroke but pressed on anyway, like you do.

Plenty of Eyebrights on the lower slopes

It took the 80 minutes walking up to the tarn for my legs to properly get going

Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe, the tarn, is known as the halfway point but at just 570m it’s more 3/8ths up

From the tarn the path changes to a more gravelly surface, much much better for walking on

As the morning wore on the cloud began to lift to give a good view of the tarn

 

On the upper zig-zags the path turned to lumpy scree which was painful to walk on.

a Snow Bunting hopped around

The higher it got the worse it got…

the scree path became farcical. This was fucking awful to climb over.

Eventually I made it to the plateau which was much easier on the feet, ankles & knees

It’s been a while since I saw any snow

I made it to the top in about 3½ hours. No stops apart from taking some pix and taking off layers.

the moonscape of rock at the foggy top

I was going to have a pie barm at the top to celebrate but a cracked another couple of energy gels at the start of the really rocky scree and I just couldn’t face any food.

This is the edge people fall over, naturally some people wanted a good look; not me.

The last of the Three Peaks done I set off back down the mountain. I found walking down the upper zig-zag scree a real twat but some people found it annoyingly easy and bounced past me at twice my speed.

On the way down the cloud lifted further and there were some great view but the camera on a smart phone can’t quite do them justice

out across the highlands

When I was about to go on the pavement of the lower zig-zag something, a muscle or a ligament, on the outside of my left knee began to complain and I couldn’t bend it without being in pain. A little later my right hip joined in the chorus of complaints and it took me nearly 3 hours to come down from the tarn; more than twice the time it took me to walk up it!

So it took me 3½ hours to walk up Ben Nevis and 4½ hours to walk down. For an old git that’s not too shabby. Apart from the knee and my hip my legs felt okay too. Would I go up it again? Absolutely no way 😀

FYI, there is an annual race up to the top of Ben Nevis and back down called The Ben; the winner usually does it in a time of under 2 hours, the record is 1 hour 25 minutes 34 seconds! I have absolutely no idea how they do that.

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Week 123

Friday 10th July 2020 to Thursday 16th July 2020

A sombre start to the week with my neighbour Ian’s funeral but then if was off to Walsall for Julie’s mum’s 90th birthday celebrations.

M25 at Heathrow 6:30pm om a Friday! No wonder Boris is worried about the economy.

Parked up at Walsall Cfor soon made himself at home

With all the social distancing rules Barbra’s 90th birthday party was a picnic in the garden.

Julie did the catering

and it was very nice too but a bit of a disaster for the environment

Everyone brought a cake!

Picnic over we headed to St Annes.

St Annes has some beautiful Marram covered dunes

Julie on the beach at St Annes with the Blackpool skyline in the far distance

After a Sunday at my Auntie Tricia’s in Stalmine we hit the road to Morecambe.

Fancy having a town named after you

You cant get more Northern than ferrets on the beach!

It was miserable weather Monday morning as we headed to the Lakes.

Hillcroft Park In Pooley Bridge is a fabulous campsite, well looked after with good size level pitches

and with a toilet & shower block second to none

Pooley bridge is a great place to stop-off on the way to Scotland but truth be told there’s not a lot to do there so we had a trip on the Ullswater steamer to Glenridding for lunch.

With the social distancing rules we were assigned seats on the bow and the wind made it a bloody freezing trip

There’s not a lot to do in Glenridding either

Cfor liked Hillcroft Park, he loved all the feral stuff going on in this hedge

Wednesday it was all aboard for Scotland!

Julie has never been before

It was an uneventful journey apart from the stretch of the A82 along the shore of Loch Lomond where the road is only just wide enough for Nelly and lorries to cross paths. Nelly being a left hand drive Julie had the best view of the close encounters of a HGV kind 😀 her nerves were jangling by the time we arrived in Glen Nevis.

On a sunny day Loch Lomond must be fabulous

Ben Nevis from our pitch at Glen Nevis campsite

I’m not walking up Ben Nevis in the rain, that’d be an utterly miserable experience. The weather forecast for this part of Scotland changes from hour to hour. Supposedly next Tuesday will be dry with sunny intervals and a light breeze. I’ll have to twiddle my thumbs till then.

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Week 122

Friday 3rd July 2020 to Thursday 9th July 2020

Spent the week slowly getting the van ready for the trip to Scotland.

There was a bit of excitement in town as they put a temporary cycle lane down the High St. Of course within hours the 4×4 lobby had blown their fruit and our tosspot of an MP Crispin Blunt had arrived on the scene to demand its immediate removal!

Cycling is a bit too vegan for the locals

Of course it didn’t take much for Surrey county council to fold and the whole thing was ripped out on the Monday. Such is British politics where those who shout loudest always get their way as our spineless politicians invariably seek short term popularity over long term benefits.

As you were.

My left ankle has been stiff for over a week and now my right knee is complaining; the weather forecast for Fort William is wet wet wet so it’s not looking good for going up Ben Nevis next week 🙁

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