Week 30

Day 204 – Friday 28th September 2018

Overcast start to the day and it was cold on Zippy as we headed into Amsterdam. Good job we are starting the journey down to sunny Portugal next week 🙂

To Micropia.

a Tardigrade

Micropia is part of Amsterdam’s zoo and is a science exhibition given over to the things we don’t normally see, microorganisms. They claim the founding father of microbiology was Antoni van Leeuwenhoek a Dutchman who had a microscope and a curious mind.

The exhibition uses a lot of interactive microscopes which are hooked up to video screens in a darkened room.

It’s fascinating stuff how microbes, bacteria and fungi work away to keep us alive and sometimes work away to kill us but there a few too many latin words and it’s too fact heavy a subject for a my blog. This is a diary not a degree course. A few highlights…

They reckon a remote control is as dirty as a toilet door handle

A day later

After three days. The yellow fungus indicates the user must have scratched his balls. I guess the same goes for keyboards

Of course microbes play an important role in breaking down food in any digestive system so they had a poo display

Yes that is a complete pickled human digestive system on the right.

They had a lot of rotten food on display, some of which you could smell if you were that way inclined. I prefered to watch fungi destroy this hamburger via a TV screen.

Now, wondering if I should carry on eating Roquefort, we hit the gift shop.

Some gift shop; they didn’t have a single fridge magnet. I complained of course.

To the Albert Cuyp market

They sell everything here from cannabis to underpants

A stroopwafel is a criminally addictive caramel biscuit, they make giant ones here

Fancy finding a chip stall in a Dutch market

Wow, delicious chips with a fabulous piccallil 5/5

Day 205 – Saturday 29th September 2018

To the Brouwerij ‘t IJ brewery for a tour

The bar/brewery is the building to the right of the windmill

There are only 3 public tours in English a week. One on a Friday, a Saturday & a Sunday and then there are only 20 places per tour. You have to get there before the place opens at 2pm to secure a place.

By the time the tour started the place was rammed.

We were given a most entertaining talk about the history bier brewing in Amsterdam by the barman/guide Daniel who’s English wasn’t perfect but who made up for that with his enthusiasm for Amsterdam, love of bier and his liberal swearing.

It’s a brewery, nothing to photograph other than stainless steel tanks and pipes

Daniel back to serving beer

The bier was very drinkable.

This is Julie’s, mine was gone before she could get her camera out 🙂

Heron

Day 206 – Sunday 30th September 2018

A sunny morning and as it’s our last day in Amsterdam we thought we’d go for a walk in the Western Canal area.

On our way there we came across a chippy whose fries were voted No.1 in Holland.

Mannekenpis are they Belgian?

Lovely and a generous portion but no Picallil 4/5

These chips are popular because the are not French fries or Belgian fries they are British style chips, fat, crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. No wonder there is a permanent queue.

I bought a grow your own tulip in a ring pull can for Julie’s mum.

The Western Canal area is still busy but it’s not as touristy as the Old Town.

This bridge is on a lot of postcards and Julie has been looking for it all week to get a snap of it. Bad luck someone’s parked a lorry on it 😀

Yellow

We came across someone from the Team Corbyn.

I think ducks are going to become the new Fridge Magnets

As it’s our last day in Amsterdam I wanted to buy some cannabis. As neither of us smoke I though a brownie would be the best bet but I was suspicious of all the tubes of Space Cake on sale in the tourist shops. So I went to a proper Head shop. They only sold magic truffles (mushrooms are banned in the Netherlands) but they kindly directed me to the Green Place where I was told they don’t charge tourist prices.

Some serious smoking going on in there

Day 207 – Monday 1st October 2018

Rainy morning in Amsterdam, so a good day to be travelling.

Nowt to stop the wind round here so it was pretty blowy too.

It took us about 4 hours to get to the Snail farm just outside Comines which is a pretty little French town right on the border with Belgium.

The snail season is over!

Snail eggs

The farm has all next year’s snails as eggs in a cold room and they will be hatching in January and May. They only go out into the field in June, July & August when it’s too hot for them in polytunnels.

I have to say looking at the big new farmhouse there seems to be some brass in the snail business.

Back at the van and at a loose end I remembered Zippy was nearly empty. Google Maps said there was a gas station about 5 miles away back in Belgium.

Brilliant Google!

Eventually I found an open station but I must have made it there on fumes.

It being super rural round here we let Cfor out for an explore

The little swine has worked out how to get out of his harness

and he’s getting super adventurous

Day 208 – Tuesday 2nd October 2018

Awful day. Had a gruelling 7½ to just north of Renne

Pont de Normandie in the pissing rain

Day 209 – Wednesday 3rd October 2018

Nice dry weather this morning. Set out in the direction of Bordeaux. Wasn’t sure how far we’d get after yesterday’s experience but weather stayed good and the roads were okay so made it all the way to Vignobles Pestoury in Yvrac just outside Bordeaux.

A classic French driveway

We’ve covered a lot of miles since Amsterdam on Monday morning so if the weather stays good I think we will stay here a couple of days here.

Cfor likes it here too!

Day 210 – Thursday 4th October 2018

A beautiful day in Yvrac. We motored Bordeaux on Zippy.

Pont de Pierre, Bordeaux

It really was a lovely day for October

Bordeaux’s Palace de la Bourse and its reflection in the Miroir d’eau

The miroir d’eau for the kids

Later in the evening, back at the site, we had a wine tasting. The owners have 38 hectors of grapes and they make 200,000 bottles of wine a year. Some years though they lose a lot due to wet weather or hail stones.

Isabelle told us quite firmly that wine is pleasure!

They don’t hand pick grapes any longer, they one of these.

Before

After

Vignobles Pestoury has been a cracking stop. Tomorrow it’s on to the coast and a stroll down to Spain.

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Week 29

Day 197 – Friday 21st September 2018

Cfor met some dogs today, he wasn’t particularly impressed.

The van was a rockin’ this morning as storm Bronagh lashed Northern France. No problems though driving from Calais to Knokke (pronounced Cur-knocka).

It was still an extremely blowy day when we motored into town on Zippy.

We’re here because I saw this place described as the St Tropez of Belgium and that intrigued me. Even though you could spit on The Netherlands from here they speak French rather than Flemish or Walloon.

The gale blowing in off the North Sea meant the beach was deserted.

The truth is Knokke is absolutely nothing like St Tropez. It is more like Cannes – restaurants filling the beeches and the town itself full of expensive clothing shops.

Apparently Frank Sinatra used to holiday here; was he banned from the real St Tropez?

It’s true café prices in the town are as high as St Tropez but you could say that for the whole of Belgium; this is not a country to be peckish in. You’re unlikely to get a coffee & a slice of cake for a tenner.

As well as lots expensive clothes shops Knokke has lots of expensive food shops, Watermelon Oil, absolutely lovely!

Day 198 – Saturday 22nd September 2018

Grey start to the day.

It started to piss down on the way to The Hague

The campsite in The Hague is okay but they don’t allow any animals so….

Cfor is in hiding for the weekend

When the rain eased off I took Zippy into the seaside resort of Scheveningen. Big mistake, I got absolutely piss-wet through.

I had to take shelter…

any chip shop in a storm

These weren’t great chips and mayonnaise is a poor substitute for curry sauce. 2/5 and I’m being generous

It continued to bucket it down so I had a nose around the pier. I last visited the town in about 1973ish and at the end of the pier then there was a giant helter-skelter.

Times change. I wonder if Julie wants a go seen as she is so bloody good at sky diving 😉

Scheveningen from the pier

The rain refused to stop so in the end I got even wetter getting back to the van.

To make matters worse the BBC weather app says today was just rain; tomorrow it’s going to be heavy rain. Deep fuckin’ joy.

Day 199 – Sunday 23rd September 2018

The route into Scheveningen and The Hague by road is a bit torturous and involves a few one way streets while the cycle track is straight forward.

Little 25cc mopeds are allowed on Dutch cycle tracks but if I get caught on one on Zippy I am liable to get a ticket and The Hague being the capital I thought they’d be plenty of police knocking about so I decided we’d hire some bikes and cycle into town!

The bikes

When Julie tried to ride her bike it was too big for her so she swapped it…

… for a child’s bike. Does this make me a paedophile?

The rain was awful and I’ve decided that from now on Northern Europe is a no no from the start of September to the end of May.

Cfor is still in hiding.

Day 200 – Monday 24th September 2018

Up and off to Amsterdam today. The weather forecast is for sunny intervals and a light breeze. Idea sightseeing weather.

The drive to Amsterdam was no problem.

This is the motorway to Amsterdam and Schiphol airport on a Monday morning. That’s right it is a 6 lanes wide and almost empty. The M25 & M4 are log jammed every weekday morning. Beginning to think we need to put the Dutch in charge of our transport policy.

The trip into Amsterdam from our campsite is just a 10 minute ride on Zippy so we nipped into town to get the lay of the land.

Boats and bikes, the classic Amsterdam

The old town is very touristy and they have supermarkets that seem to sell little but bongs, large Rizla papers and space cake.

Fridge Magnet Centraal

We took a turn off a main drag and found ourselves in the Red Light district. Julie was shocked the women were stood in the windows in their underwear.

These are the glass doors the women pose behind.

Personally I can’t think of anything sadder.

An appalling misuse of an apostrophe

Quite a few of these in town

They were okay but at €4.74 with chilli sauce a little expensive 3/5.

We wandered around for the rest of the afternoon while Julie took photos…

Like Venice the old houses are built on wooden piles and they lean a lot.

Julie had to buy another Hard Rock Cafe tee shirt

Hard Rock Cafe tee shirts aside yellow is Julie’s new obsession!

Day 201 – Tuesday 25th September 2018

Lovely morning, we motored into town for our walking tour.

We were the only Brits on the tour, the rest were Germans, but our guide Marcella did the tour in her near perfect English.

Marcella explained that the Dutch had always been a tolerant people especially when money was involved. We started off at the Old Church where we were told the Catholic Church used to sell forgiveness to the sailors who frequented the city’s prostitutes. Just at the back of the church was a street known as Big Mama Alley and true enough the girls in the windows were on the chunky side. There was also a large kindergarten on Big Mama Alley.

It is considered rude to photograph the girls and your phone might end up in a canal.

Apparently up until recently the city had over 500 working windows but that has been reduced to 280. The girls hire the windows for a shift and they will typically have 15 customers a shift. Each encounter entails a suck and a fuck, costs on average €50 and lasts on average 8 minutes. Marcella certainly knew her stuff!

Marcella warned us there are transgender sex workers working in the town. There’s something for everyone in Amsterdam

These little cars seem to be allowed on cycle paths too

Walking around Amsterdam can be dangerous. There are 1.2 million bikes in the city and most of them are used daily. There must be well over 100 bikes for every car. They ring their little bells to warn you to get out of the way but being Brits we are not used to diving for cover at the sound of a bicycle bell 🙁

The Bells!

This is how they do the school run in The Netherlands although I can’t see the mums of Surrey giving up their status symbols Range Rovers

Marcella touched on the drugy side of the town. People can carry up to 5g of weed and everyone in The Netherlands can grow up to 3 cannabis plants but she said it was no big deal and most people didn’t bother with the stuff.

Shops are full of Space Cake though.

Never seen this stuff on GBBO

Day 202 – Wednesday 26th September 2018

Beautiful if chilly morning, autumn is well on its way. Off into Amsterdam to visit the van Gogh museum.

The museum itself

They don’t allow photography in the van Gogh Museum – The Sea at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

Oi, shift!

My fave, Wheatfield with Crows

van Gogh was only an Artist for 10 years. Before that he worked for his art dealer uncle in The Hague, London and Paris

When he started he liked to paint peasants – The Potato Eaters

He ended up living in Arles, just at the top of the Camargue where he had a little Yellow House.

Bedroom in Arles

It was here he had his mental health issues that resulted in him cutting off his ear after a row with his best mate. He died aged just 37 from a self inflicted gunshot wound.

Of course no visit to a museum is complete without a visit to the gift shop

It doesn’t matter how revered an artist is no museum gift shop is complete without fridge magnets

Van Gogh being so popular they have really gone to town with the merchandising

A van Gogh Rubik’s cube anyone?

Well, he was Dutch

Out of the gift shop, with her new yellow van Gogh sunflower glasses, Julie bumped into some fashion friends from Beijing

We had a pleasant lunch in the Rijksmuseum garden

Afterwards we visited Coster Diamonds where they tried to flog us some very expensive stones.

A diamond being cut, surprisingly low tech

We rounded off the day by visiting the Banksy exhibition at the Moco Museum.

They don’t mind you taking photos in the Banksy exhibition and I’m not surprised

While the odd thing is witty…

… most of it ain’t

there’s also a lot of repetition

And it’s not very technical, it’s the artistic equivalent of drawing a Hitler moustache on a photo of Margaret Thatcher. I reckon van Gogh would easily have Banksy in a paint-off.

The audio commentary of the exhibition said Banksy sees graffiti artists, such as himself as rats, hated by authorities but impossible to eradicate from the cities. Really??

Get your Banksy fridge magnets here!

It strikes me Banksy isn’t as ‘street’ as he likes to make out. With all the merchandising and the celebrity friends he’s more than likely a bit of a champagne socialist.

On the way out of the Moco there was a pleasant surprise.

A 3D mock up of van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles by Roy Lichtenstein

 Day 203 – Thursday 27th September 2018

Beautiful day. Once we’d sorted the van we popped into town for a boat tour on the canals.

The good ship Sunshine, Where’s Wally?

Amsterdam has changed a lot since I last visited. It’s much more touristy and they city has cleaned itself up, a little.

They only have 2,500 houseboats in Amsterdam now. You buy a berth and put whatever you want on it.

The Sea Palace Chinese restaurant used to be the other side of Centraal Station.

The girl mixing the drinks said the canal water was perfectly drinkable, she wanted a volunteer…

Julie wouldn’t risk it for the camera but there was no stopping this gobby Swede.

An old boat in the historic dock

The Walter Suskindbrug bridge

Trip over we had a walk to the Nemo building and Julie had a coffee on the roof terrace.

Amsterdam from the Nemo building roof terrace

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Week 28

Day 190 – Friday 14th September 2018

It’s hard work being a cat

My tenants are back in Poland for a week so as I have time on my hands I took their dog Meggie out for a walk. I’ve yet to properly recover from walking down Snowdon so I was knackered when I got back. That’s old age for you.

Meggie; she may be small but she makes an extraordinary amount of noise.

Day 191 – Saturday 15th September 2018

To Denbies at Box Hill.

The grapes were very sweet and juicy but the skin was uneatable.

They had a food festival on.

We watched Dhruv Baker, the Masterchef champion from 2010, cook up some grub.

There was a fair turnout.

With another couple of days in Manchester ahead of me i thought it best if I ignored the van selling chips and had some lovely Lebanese food.

Julie couldn’t resist

Day 192 – Sunday 16th September 2018

Today is the Reigate half marathon

They had 5k and 10k races too

I think he’s checking his watch to see if the pie shop is still open

The winner of the half marathon. I didn’t bother hanging about to take a photo of the loser who came second

The winner of the women’s half marathon.

Day 193 – Monday 17th September 2018

Up early and to off to Manchester. It took 5¾ hours

Fuckin’ M6

When we did eventually arrive in Manchester we hotfooted it over to iFLY 😀

It’s a giant wind tunnel turned on its side

I don’t like flying and if I ever did find myself in an aeroplane I certainly wouldn’t be rushing to jump out of it but I reckon I can handle this.

Worryingly they appeared to be fixing the machine when we arrived.

There were some pesky kids in our group and a couple of 8 or 9 year old girls were annoyingly good.

Julie was a bit of a natural too!

Even though I’d lashed out an extra fiver for a superman costume I wasn’t very good but it was great fun 😀

Day 194 – Tuesday 18th September 2018

The day of my Dad’s funeral.

The buffet was at the Masonic Hall.

There was a good turn out. I’d ordered the food and by Christ there was a lot of it.

I knew they’d be a few vegetarians there so I ordered enough for 5 but there was easily enough for 15.

My brothers Carl, & David and me. While we were posing my Aunty Trisha suggested Carl pull his belly in 😀

Aunty Trisha, she’s cheeky and is great fun

As was my Dad

Day 195 – Wednesday 19th September 2018

Back to Surrey via Walsall

My eldest has suggest I have a new segment on the blog… ChipAdvisor

I like a good chippy

Regular chips and curry sauce, £3

They are not stingy at the Broadway Chippy in Walsall. Chips were slightly greasy but the curry sauce was great. I think 3/5

Day 196 – Thursday 20th September 2018

Up early and off to Dover to get a ferry to France.

Hopefully we won’t be back until July

After a difficult two weeks it’s great to be back on the continent.

Julie has listened to far too much My Dad Wrote A Porno

Tomorrow we head for Knokke in Belgium then on to The Hague and Amsterdam. High Times 😀

 

 

 

 

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Week 27

Day 183 – Friday 7th September 2018

My name is Tom and I’m an addict…

… a curry and chips addict.

When Julie suggested we go to Whitiker’s for lunch again today I couldn’t believe My luck. This is the 3rd lot of curry & chips I’ve had in 4 days.

Apart from eating chips it was another day of sorting out my Dad’s flat and affairs.

Julie loves a good sausage. I think she may well have an addiction of her own!

Day 184 – Saturday 8th September 2018

Off to Llanberis in Snowdonia. Absolutely filthy weather enroute.

The Welsh language makes me smile.

Everywhere the Roman alphabet is used the word taxi is spelt the same – taxi. Not in Wales, in Welsh taxi is spelt tacsi.

I’m in the principality because I bought myself a Three Peaks tee shirt a year or so ago and to wear it I still have to walk up Snowdon and Ben Nevis.

After eating a Pete’s Eats, more chips, we checked out the start of the footpath to Snowdon’s summit. I spoke to a girl who’d just been at the top and she told me no waterproofs could keep you dry up there.

It’s going to be wet but it’s going to be done.

Day 185 – Sunday 9th September 2018

A pleasant enough morning in Llanberis.

No rain but the hills were shrouded in cloud.

There are 31 welsh flags flying on the main drag through Llanberis. If there were 31 flags of St George flying in Reigate High Street I expect the Guardian would be asking the question; is Reigate the most racist town in England?

Me at the start of the Llanberis path to the top of Snowdon and it looks like my butt plug is already chaffing

It wasn’t long before it started to get wet.

and it wasn’t long before I was in cloud.

After the Halfway House the walk became a grind and I occupied my mind wondering if the cafe at the top sold chips.

Halfway House, tea but no chips

To make matters worse the wind started to howl

At the top – it was absolutely filthy weather

but if Marvin can make it to the top of Snowdon then anyone can.

Inside the station café it was standing room only.

Julie had made me a packed lunch but my hands were far too wet and cold to hold a sandwich so I warmed them on a lovely cheese and onion slice. Sadly the cafe didn’t do chips.

The girl at the start of the trail yesterday was right, the clothes under my waterproofs were absolutely soaking wet and it was good job I had a spare dry set.

I was just nosing around the gift shop when they announced over the tannoy that due to strong winds they would be stopping the trains, evacuating all the staff and closing the station. That’ll be fun for the people still on their way up.

The trip down through the cloud was a bit miserable but all of a sudden the cloud cleared and I could see a fabulous sunny day in Llanberis. I went t get my camera out but by the time I’d retrieved it from my pocket the cloud was back!

It costs £22 to get the train back to Llanberis. I think a call to the Mountain Rescue is the VFM option.

Miss Wales 2016

Eventually I was out of the cloud and I could enjoy some of the welsh scenery.

Wales

By halfway down the outside of my left knee was complaining loudly about going down hill and I was very grateful to reach Llanberis at the bottom.

Tom Jones was in town!

Day 186 – Monday 10th September 2018

Turns out my bowel cancer check result was unclear so I have to complete another test when I get back to Reigate then wait two weeks for that result. If that result is not clear then I will have to have further tests. Brilliant.

Might have to rethink the plans to go down to Spain after my Dad’s funeral. Might be best to carry on with our original plans and go to Belgium, Holland & Denmark while we await the results. Then if I get the all clear head south.

Traveled back to Surrey via Walsall

Day 187 – Tuesday 11th September 2018

Twiddling my thumbs in Reigate. At least it’s not raining

Day 188 – Wednesday 12th September 2018

Twiddling my thumbs in Reigate. It’s raining.

Day 189 – Thursday 13th September 2018

A Beautiful day in Reigate. Had a ride on Zippy and booked a ferry for Calais on the 20th 😀

Sitting around is doing my head in, I can’t wait to get back on the road.

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Week 26

Day 176 – Friday 31st August 2018

A bit of a chilly morning in Gent. Into town early to take a look around St Bavo’s cathedral before our free walking tour starts.

Like most cathedrals St Bavo’s has a shedload of stunning sculptures and paintings and you have to wonder who carved all the sculptures and who painted all the paintings.

The things you can achieve when you don’t have TV or the internet to distract you.

The most famous thing in St Bavo’s Cathedral is something called the Gent Altarpiece which is a series of paintings and is considered a masterpiece. It is also apparently Europe’s most nicked painting. The most famous part of the altarpiece is the Adoration of the Mystic lamb. No, I’ve never heard of it either.

Adoration of the Mystic lamb by Hubert & Jan van Eyck,

To view the Adoration of the Mystic lamb you have to pay €4 to go into a special chapel where you are not allowed to talk. If you want to discuss the finer points of this masterpiece you must take your ticket to another chapel at the back of the cathedral where they have a copy and where you can talk.

Later our walking tour guide told us the original Adoration of the Mystic lamb was currently in a museum being restored. So people were paying €4 to see two copies!

On to the tour; interesting facts about Gent…

Gent was once Europe’s second biggest town after Paris. It was so successful because of high quality cloth they made in Flanders. Once woven the cloth was put into a large vat containing a mixture of dyes, hot water, fuller’s earth and urine. A ‘fuller’ would then stamp on the cloth in this noxious emulsion for three days – or even longer. After this treatment it was like felt and could be cut without fraying. It couldn’t have been much fun being a fuller though.

The Castle of the Counts

The medieval Castle of the Counts was last invaded in 1949 by students protesting at a rise in the tax on beer.

The students still celebrate the invasion by getting well aled-up at Sint Veerleplein every 19th November.

Three lamp posts at Sint Veerleplein are wired up to the local maternity hospitals and when a baby is born the parents get to press a button and the lights come on for a minute.

Jacob van Artevelde is a local hero in Gent as he re-established trading links with England during the 100 Years War, his arm points towards England and his palm is open in friendship. I wonder what he would have thought about Brexit.

After the walking tour it was lunchtime.

A truly serious dollop of mayonnaise on today’s frites!

All in all I’m pretty impressed with Gent, it’s a good mixture of the old and the new and it is beautifully looked after.

We’d had a tough day walking round the cobbled streets of Gent.

Our fave bar in Gent.

They do a Belgian version of a yard of ale

We were a little less ambitious, a bottle of Kriek, a beer flavoured with cherries. Lovely!

Day 177 – Saturday 1st September 2018

Beautiful morning in Gent and we made the short journey to Camping Memling at Brugge. Once hooked up we wasted no time getting into Brugge town centre on Zippy.

Brugge is far more touristy than Gent.

It was difficult to find fridge magnets and tee shirts in Gent here in Brugge you are tripping over them.

We booked ourselves on a free walking tour and were given a quick history lesson then shown the sites of the city.

Apparently Brugge was a very important and wealthy trading town in the 12th & 13th centuries but the people rebelled against their ruler Maxililian I. They locked him up for a few months and killed his best mate. In revenge he banned all foreign trade in the town and Brugge quickly fell into ruin.

It stayed that way until a book called Bruges-la-Morte was published in 1892. The Victorians loved the sketches of the dilapidated medieval town included in the book and Brugge quickly became a tourist hotspot. All its wealth now stems from tourism which the town is completely given over to.

They know people come to Brugge for its medieval architecture so that’s how they like to keep it.

The main square in Brugge

Brugge Belfry

Of course Belgium is famous for its chocolate…

I think Johnny has rather overdone it on the truffles!

its waffles…

Waffles; the tour guide told us only to buy waffles that we could see being made as the fresher the waffle better they’d be. I think she was right.

and its beer

This brewery makes Brugges most famous beer, Brugse Zotten, Fools of Bruge as Maximilian I like to refer to the drunken townsfolk

and it has five 3.25km pipelines to its bottling plant. The pipes are obviously buried quite deep.

Speaking of beer when we were in Aix I had a gorgeous Belgian beer. I had forgotten its name but Julie tracked it down and we bought some today along with a glass.

All beers in Belgium have their unique glass.

Tripel Karmeliet. It’s brewed from wheat, oats & barley to a 1679 recipe from the Karmeliet convent. It is quite simply fuckin’ gorgeous.

 

Back at the van Julie hadn’t drunk any water all day and asked if she could slate her thirst with some Tripel Karmeliet. She liked it and wanted another with her dinner. She didn’t realise it is 8.4% strong until it took effect 😀

Day 178 – Sunday 2nd September 2018

Lovely morning, after a bit of a laze around we went back into Brugge town centre. Today we wanted to go up the Belfry and wander the streets.

It took about 50 minutes of queueing to get into the Belfry then 366 steps up to the top. From the top you can see out across the city.

The Belfry was originally a watch tower and different bells used to signal different events be that being under attack or simply the start of the working day or knock off for lunch.

Markt square from the Belfry.

Down from the tower we had a wander around the streets.

The inside of the Basilica of the Holy Blood.

In the Basilica of the Holy Blood they have what they claim to be a veil of Christ’s blood. I wonder if they had its DNA analysed, I’d put money on there being a bit of viking DNA in there and if Jesus did have some Viking DNA maybe they could modify the 10 Commandments to reflect his Viking heritage, Thou shall rape and pillage! Might make the church more popular.

Julie’s favourite view in Brugge

I didn’t realise Timmy Mallet was so famous in Brugge.

€7 to get in! I could get two large frits and mayo for that.

Seriously what on earth could I learn in a Friet Museum? Friets were first fried in Brugge in 1585, mayonnaise and friets became popular in 1847, tomato ketchup began to be served with friets in 1908, curry sauce was introduced in 1987?

I am pleased to say I didn’t spot this appalling piece of chocolate.

They have a triennial arts event in Brugge, this is one of 2018’s exhibits.

Our guide yesterday said all road rules favoured cyclists and they do behave appallingly. They ring their little bells and expect everyone to jump out of the way.

The Lac d’Amour.

Julie and I on a bridge a over the Lac d’Amour

Day 179 – Monday 3rd September 2018

My Dad has been in hospital since Friday night with pneumonia, it’s not the first time. Last night my elder brother told me he had developed sepsis so we motored to Calais, got a morning ferry back to Dover and arrived at the Manchester Royal Infirmary just before 8pm my Dad died a few minutes later.

Day 180 – Tuesday 4th September 2018

Spent the day with my brothers and Julie sorting out my Dad’s flat. I wouldn’t say my Dad was a hoarder but once something was in a draw or cupboard I don’t think it ever came out.

Day 181 – Wednesday 5th September 2018

Picked up my Dad’s Death Certificate today so that means we can get started on sorting out his affairs. Luckily my younger brother already had lasting Power of Attorney over his financial affairs so we had a good starting point.

Managed to get into my Dad’s Kindle Fire which had his email account. Turns out the day after he died he won on the National Health Lottery!

Day 182 – Thursday 6th September 2018

The house is now cleared and we now have a handle on all my Dad’s affairs. Just need to sort out somewhere for a buffet after the funeral.

Treated Julie and myself to a curry at MyLahore in Rusholme. I asked for hot and got it 😀

The funeral isn’t for 12 days. That means we will be too late to travel up to the north of Scandi to see the northern lights. We have decided to head down to Spain next. In the meantime  I booked 3 nights in Llanberis to see if we can walk up Snowdon.

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Week 25

Day 169 – Friday 24th August 2018

Woke up to a nice morning in Brighton.

Being August bank holiday weekend not only can we expect the weather to get bad but Brighton seafront will be full of mods.

Some are already here.

After a bit of shopping we set off for lunch at Peacehaven.

Julie at Meridian Point in Peacehaven

The weather was extremely blowy on the way back to Brighton and later it started to rain.

Yep, it’s August bank holiday alright!

We had dinner at my favourite Brighton restaurant, foodilic.

foodilic

While it’s not a wholly vegetarian restaurant it is a great place for a vegetarian to eat. It’s a buffet and they used to weigh your plate but now you can eat all you want for £7.50 which is great VFM for in my book.

Day 170 – Saturday 25th August 2018

Beautiful morning, we went to the western end of Brighton…

i360

… then walked back along the western parade before having a gander at all the scooters by the Volks bar,

There’s a bit of Lambretta v Vespa snobbery in the Mod world

They do like a spotlight & mirror or two!

Nice touch.

Brings back some memories

This was a contender for most ridiculous…

… but this was the clear winner. The owner told me he spent 14 months building it and he said on the way down from Wakefield it did 85mph on the motorway. Must be off his bloody rocker!

After lunch we headed further west towards Hove…

Julie in Hove

These were from Marrocco’s in Hove and they were top notch, best ice creams this year

then on to Shoreham.

Shoreham

After dinner I went to Concorde2, bar just down from where we were parked up.

Concorde2

Someone had given me a flyer for a Who tribute band who were going to play the whole Quadrophenia album and I thought I’d pop along for a pint.

The band was already in full flight when I arrived but the bloke on the door wanted £20! That’s a bit much for a pint and I told him I’d seen The ‘actual’ Who for less!

Back at the van I Googled it and I had only paid £8 to see The Who back in 1979.

Those were the days

 

With ACDC & The Stranglers as the support!

Day 171 – Sunday 26th August 2018

An overcast start to the day but the weather forecast is for rain. I had planned to stay till lunchtime but it’d cost £11 to park on Madeira Drive for 3 hours so off back to Reigate to carry on getting ready for Thursday.

Real bank holiday weather.

Day 172 – Monday 27th August 2018

Worked on the family tree, had a little sort through the van. I can’t wait till Thursday to get back on the road so I booked the ferry for Wednesday.

Took the girls and Julie out for dinner

Day 173 – Tuesday 28th August 2018

I should have booked the ferry for today.

Reigate is a nice enough town but I’ve lived here long enough. I can see why people end up going back to work a few months after retiring out of sheer boredom.

Cfor enjoys himself wherever he is.

Day 174 – Wednesday 29th August 2018

Very wet morning, Julie locked up her flat. I gave the remainder of my English  money to Lily and we were off.

Filthy drive to Dover.

The Grey Cliffs of Dover

Great to be back abroad, Belgium and The Netherlands for the next two weeks then on to Scandi 🙂

Parked up at Cite d’Europe for the night.

Gent in Belgium tomorrow

Day 175 – Thursday 30th August 2018

Beautiful dry morning. Made it to the campsite by noon.

Once hooked up and settled in we took Zippy into Gent town centre for a gander. A mixture of tramlines, potholes, trams, people, cars and worst of all thousands of cyclists make riding a scooter round Gent town centre a bloody nightmare.

We had some Belgium frites and mayonnaise on arrival. we had to, it’s the law.

It’s safe to say they are bike mad in Gent.

Gent’s historic town centre is very pretty and the town is obviously well loved.

Gent’s historic town centre.

We took a boat ride…

Fuck ’em 🙂

This beer house has 150 different Belgian beers

Nestor, Gent’s answer to the Manneken Pis in Brussels. The boat driver said Nestor was lucky because he had two girlfriends. Personally I think that’d be a bit of a nightmare.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a caption competition

Going of a walking tour of Gent tomorrow.

 

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Week 24

Day 162 – Friday 17th August 2018

Not so blowy today, having a walk to Bull Point.

No bulls here just sheep,

a lighthouse,

some scenery

and of course some dogshit bags along the way.

What is it with these dog owners? It’s the countryside not the park. Foxes shit here, cows shit here, sheep shit here. Everything shits here; nature takes care of it in a week or two. Why the need to bag up your dog’s shit then dump it so it’s there forever?

I walked into Mortehoe

There was a wedding on

I joined in the celebrations with a cone of chips!

I imagine this is how Tom Daley and his husband dress

Day 163 – Saturday 18th August 2018

A very overcast morning, up early and off to Ilfracombe to catch the ferry to Lundy.

I love the smell of pasty in the morning

The M.S. Oldenberg

The boat trip to Lundy takes about 2 hours so we only had 3¾ hours on the island.

Once off the MS Oldenberg there was a long walk uphill to the village.

Just in case you’ve absolutely no idea which island you have just landed on

The village consists of a Tavern, an information centre in a garage and a general store.

The Marisco Tavern

More bagged poo

After Julie bought some postcards with Lundy stamps and posted them in the blue letterbox we headed north.

They have a thing about letterboxes on Lundy

The Old Light. That’s me at the top.

There’s a lot of granite on Lundy – Dead Cow Point

By this time of year the Puffins have all left the island, all that remains now are their empty burrows up by Jenny’s Cove.

Suddenly the cloud came in and with the howling wind things got very wet.

The Old Light in cloud

We headed back to the tavern in the village.

a lot of people hiding from the wind and cloud here

On the way back to the boat we saw some seals!

Our departure was delayed by over half an hour when some numpties who had been staying on the island at a place called Tibbetts didn’t show up for the boat and they sent a Landrover to go and bring them back.

Never learnt tell the time?

I think a few of days on Lundy with good weather in May or June with the Puffins nesting and young seals about would wonderful. 3¾ hours on a foggy day with a howling wind is not so wonderful.

Day 164 – Sunday 19th August 2018

A foggy day in damage Barton

Cards and backgammon. Treated myself to a pizza but it was the worst campsite pizza I’ve had so far this year.

Day 165 – Monday 20th August 2018 

Up early and back to Reigate. Ignored Doris and went all the way to the M5 via A361. Absolutely fine, no hold ups.

Somewhere on the M5 I heard a funny noise from the kerb side of the van. Nothing looked out of place in the wing mirror.

When I got out to fuel the van…

If I ever manage to source a replacement that could be an expensive piece of trim

Day 166 – Tuesday 21st August 2018

A 60th birthday present from the NHS – bowel cancer screening kit.

My phone battery only lasts two hours now so got it replaced today, phone’s completely dead now.

Day 167 – Wednesday 22nd August 2018

Busy morning getting everything loaded and working on my new phone. I don’t think I could have done it without Google remembering everything.

Tidied up van and set off to Berwick to get the exhaust adjusted. At the mo there’s only 92mm of ground clearance.

Got stuck in a logjam just by Gatwick north terminal. The problem is cars can’t get off the roundabout to get to the terminal. No wonder Gatwick has such a terrible reputation these days.

20 minutes later I neared the M23. The exit slipway on the right is completely snarled up. People are walking up it with cases. What a start to their holidays. WTF is wrong with British airports?

Day 168 – Thursday 23rd August 2018

While the exhaust clearance issue was being sorted I had to find something to do. Berwick is a one horse town whose horse has died.

It has a service station

a post office

a train station that doesn’t have any info on trains such as a timetable,

and a pub serving breakfasts!

I resisted temptation and went for a walk in the countryside.

I settled down on a bench with a lovely view of the South down and surfed the internet as you do.

It being England and August it wasn’t long before it started to rain.

 I can really recommend breakfast at the Berwick Inn!

We ended the day in Brighton. Just a little break before we head to Scandi next Thursday.

Nelly on Madeira Drive, minus the difficult to locate wheel arch trim.

Right next to the beach 🙂

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Week 23

Day 155 – Friday 10th August 2018

A bit of a wet morning. The farmer and his dog came round on his tractor to say hello collect his money.

Billy

The farmer tells me Garslade farm hosts the Godney Gathering, a single day micro festival for 4,999 people every year.

The rain got worse before it turned into a beautiful if blowy afternoon. We motored into Wells on Zippy.

Wells is a very nice little town, Britain’s smallest city and thankfully absolutely nothing like Glastonbury.

Not Wells Cathedral

The town centre is built around the cathedral and its associated buildings.

Bishop’s Palace

The Bishop’s Palace is a beautiful building with a moat, a croquet lawn  and lovely grounds but at nearly £9 to get in I was looking for the suggestion box – halve the price, throw in a cream team and you might get a few more visitors through the doors.

Get rid of the fridge magnets too.

Wells Cathedral

The Scissor Arch in Wells Cathedral

The Jesse Window, medieval stained glass

The Wells clock, the face is medieval, the knights at the top joust on the quarter hour. Almost as exciting as the clock in Munich’s Marinplatz

The Vicar’s Close, supposed to be Britain’s finest complete medieval street

Fun & Games

Trying to level the van tonight the wedge flipped up and into the front bumper fascia. To get the van free without causing further damage I had to dig a hole. I have an idea it’s going to cost a few quid to repair the fascia. Fuck.

The Premier league starts tonight with United playing Leicester at home. I have grave doubts about United’s ability to finish in the top 4 this season. Too many clubs are improving and, apart from his own players, no one is scared of a José Mourinho attack.

the situation is so grave while in Wells Cathedral I lit a candle for the squad

It grieves me to say it but we must all brace ourselves for the worst  – this season Liverpool may well finish above United. Where is my José Out tee shirt.

Day 156 – Saturday 11th August 2018

Overcast morning. Very pleased United won last night, just wondering if I need to light a candle for them every game?

Yesterday the weather forecast for today was good. Today it is actually crap but we only have today to see Cheddar Gorge so waterproofs on and off we set.

Passed through some beautiful little villages on the way to Cheddar. Sadly Cheddar Gorge is very touristy.

inevitably

Plenty of shops selling cheddar cheese

and of course cider

Unbelievably they wanted £5.50 just to walk up Jacobs Ladder even though the tower at the top is closed for refurbishment.

I popped into the National Trust shop and asked them if there was a way to the top of the gorge without using Jacob’s Ladder. There was, we got the directions and off we trotted.

The free National Trust route, it’s a little bouldery but nothing we couldn’t handle

The rain spoiled the views from the top but we took some photos anyway.

twogether

The yomp down was more treacherous than the walk up.

This woman had to call 999 after spraining her ankle. I bet she wished her partner wasn’t too tight to pay the £5.50 to go up Jacobs Ladder!

Day 157 – Sunday 12th August 2018

Rained all night. Had a lie-in then set off for Damage Barton in North Devon.

The site said it wasn’t advisable to use satnav for the last few miles. We should get to the Mullacott roundabout and then follow their instructions.

I thought Doris could be trusted to get us to this roundabout but no. Instead of just directing us along the A361 she had us all over the place. I lost track of the number of times I had to stop while oncoming vehicles squeezed past.

a lovely campsite about a mile from the sea. Nice wide pitches and 4G internet signal!

Day 158 – Monday 13th August 2018

A walk to Lee Bay and towards Ilfracombe today. Typical British summer weather, we had to take jumpers and waterproofs just in case.

Lee Bay

The thing about walking in Devon is it is hilly. Up and down, up and down, up and f%$*&£’ down.

The now closed and derelict Lee Bay Hotel. It was quite a smart place when we holidayed there in 1971

I doubt more than a handful of locals live at Lee Bay. Everything has been bought up and done up as second homes or holiday lets which is a little sad.

Lee Bay is at the end of ‘the fuchsia valley’

We made it to Torrs Point just above Ilfracombe for lunch.

a fine place to eat a pickled egg sandwich

the view of Ilfracombe

By the time we got back to the site I was knackered.

Later Cfor went exploring the camp, Julie had kittens.

Day 159 – Tuesday 14th August 2018

It was a beautiful start to the day with blue skies and a westerly wind but it soon clouded over. Off for a walk to Mortehoe and Woolacombe.

Mortehoe is a lovely little village

Mortehoe

From Mortehoe to Woolacombe was a little hilly.

the beach at Woolacombe

The beach at Woolacombe is magnificent and so not only is it a magnet for surfers the town is also full of tourists looking for an ice cream and a pastie. We skipped the ice cream but did have pasties for lunch. Lovely.

the revellers on Woolacombe beach

This is what I think let’s English seaside towns down. Of course you need the shops selling buckets & spades and the shops selling ice cream and pasties but no one really needs slot machines for children.

While in Woolacombe we heard the terrible news from Genoa about a bridge on the A10 collapsing.  When we used the A10 way back in Week 2  I said the involvement of the Mafia its construction was a worry.

The general the state of the roads in Italy is shocking. On a motorbike, unless you know the roads like a local, you have to tiptoe around because you never know just what you are going to come across. Italy is supposedly the EU’s 4th largest economy, not far behind France and that they can’t maintain their infrastructure like the French can and do is a terrible indictment of the way the country has been run in modern times.

I can’t see me using the A10 again.

Day 160 – Wednesday 15th August 2018

An overcast and very blowy morning, to Ilfracombe on Zippy.

The first problem when visiting any town in Britain is where the fuck are you going to park. In the West Country, even on a motorcycle, you’ll be exceptionally lucky to get away without paying, usually it’s just a question of how much are you going to be stung for.

Today I managed to get exceptionally lucky and found some free motorcycle parking in the harbour! I feel I should write to the local council and thank them!

Ilfracombe became popular in Victorian times and it doesn’t look like too much has changed since then which is pleasing.

Ilfracombe

One thing that is new in Ilfracombe is the Landmark Theatre

It’s known locally as Madonna’s Bra.

Joe Pasquale is playing in Madonna’s bra tonight; not something I’d pay to see but it takes all sorts.

There was a craft fair at the theatre; I’ve developed a bit of a phobia for arts and crafts. I think I’ve seen too many knitted frogs.

The gift shop at the Landmark is not big on fridge magnets…

but they are quite big on thimbles!

In the harbour they were selling all types of boat excursions and I bought us places on the ½ hour historical lifeboat trip.

The Hampshire Rose

It was a blowy old day and while the Captain was nice and snug in the wheel house we were all sat at the front. And while he was wearing a lifejacket he told us ours were under his seat.

Once out of the harbour the front of the boat began to pitch alarmingly up and down on the waves. How the children laughed as they were flung up into the air. I held on for grim death.

very happy to have survived

Back on dry land I decided to treat myself to some well earned chips

The chips from here deserve a Michelin star

this guy eats very well

Damien Hirst has lent some 20m monstrosity called Verity to North Devon Council and it dominates Ilfracombe’s harbour wall.

He should stick to slicing sharks in half.

St Nicholas Chapel on Lantern Hill, said to be the oldest lighthouse in Britain

Ilfracombe is famous for it’s tunnels which were cut out in Victorian times to ladies and gentlemen to their separate beaches to bathe

The Ladies Pool & beach

It has to be said that the beaches at Ilfracombe are a bit shitty. Why the Victorians didn’t just build a few more miles of railway to Woolacombe is mystery to me.

We booked a trip to Lundy on Saturday, let’s hope the wind subsides by then.

Day 161 – Thursday 16th August 2018

There was a bit of a storm during the night but it’s all dry this morning.. To Croyde on Zippy, I love riding on the lanes round here. We went down a ½ mile hill that had a gradient of 23% today, my brakes must have been just a little hot at the bottom.

Croyde is a lovely little village.

Like Woolacombe Croyde has a big beautiful beach and there are a lot of surfers there.

the revellers on Croyde beach

We got free parking in the National Trust car park and had lunch on a bench overlooking the sea.

We yomped along the coast to Baggy Point.

I don’t know why this pole is here but I decided to join in and climb it

Back in Croyde we had cream teas…

a lovely way to end the week

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Week 22

Day 148 – Friday 3rd August 2018

Up early and rucksack packed for my Rivington Pike & Winter Hill walk. The weather was overcast, just right for walking up some hills.

Closed

When I got to the Lower House car park there were notices saying all footpaths on Rivington Moor including Winter Hill are closed until the middle of August because of the risk of fire. Fuck.

Never mind I bought my Dad a smart phone and while I’ve been setting it up for him I’ve been using it as a camera and have just dropped it and cracked the screen so a trip into Chorley is urgently needed.

Bloody thing is like a bar of wet soap

Chorley is one of those Lancashire moor towns that anyone with half a brain leaves the moment they can, usually to Manchester. If you ever meet anyone from Darwin, Burnley, Blackburn, Wigan etc and ask them if they’d ever go back they’ll fix you with a steely stare and very firmly say NO.

They have a lot of chip shops in Chorley

Consequently the gene pool is pretty shallow here and walking around town you get to see the effects of generations of inbreeding. I kid you not; you could hire the entire cast for the League of Gentlemen in about 15 minutes on Chorley High Street.

Along with the inbreds they have a lot of Asians who fix phones so  I got my Dad’s phone fixed quite easily but I paid a premium because they could tell I wasn’t a local because I don’t ‘appen at the beginning and end of every sentence.

Chorley in the rain

It pissed down while we were in Chorley, some chance the moors burning today.

 Day 149 – Saturday 4th August 2018

I was reading this morning that the reason Rivington Moor is closed is because they had a big fire a few weeks ago and the peat under the surface is still burning and if you stepped on it and disturbed it the moor itself might reignite.

Anyway it is my Dad’s 85th birthday today so off to Manchester.

Of course he was in his underpants when I arrived. He was trying to find a lead for his walkman.

My Dad has about 5 of these knocking around his house.

My Dad, 85 today

Day 150 – Sunday 5th August 2018

Up earlyish and away back down south. We stopped off in Walsall to see Julie’s Mum

Julie’s Mum

Church Road, Reigate

Blisteringly hot day and I was glad to finally park up in the shade at Reigate.

I’d like a couple of weeks in Devon and Cornwall but the van has an MOT in the morning so can’t make too many plans.

Also my eldest Lily arrives back from Hanoi tonight.

Day 151 – Monday 6th August 2018

Up early and off to Redhill to get an MOT for Nelly.

Nelly waiting for her MOT at SES

While I waited I treated myself to a Sainsbury’s vegetarian breakfast

Lovely

Nelly failed on 4 points!

Fortunately they were all minor and SES fixed them all for nothing! Result.

I can feel a holiday in Cornwall coming on!.

Day 152 – Tuesday 7th August 2018

Today is my 60th birthday. Julie cooked me a special birthday breakfast…

… I think this is my last ever breakfast

After my birthday breakfast I booked an emergency holiday in the West Country. We start in Somerset then on to North Devon then probably North Cornwall. It’s going to be so fab.

In the evening we all went to Wagamamas

Me and my two angels.

Day 153 – Wednesday 8th August 2018

Good to get all that birthday nonsense out of the way. The heatwave is over so I had a walk up Reigate Hill.

The view from Colley Hill

Spent the rest of the day doing odds and sods getting ready to set off on Thursday. Although I’ve only been home 4 days but I’m really looking forward to getting away again.

Day 154 – Thursday 9th August 2018

Up early and off to Glastonbury. The weather and the traffic was awful on the M25. Why do they all insist on driving up each other’s arses?

The weather and the traffic improved and the sun even came out as we approached stonehenge.

If you pay to visit they won’t let you near the stones, think it’s best to arrive unannounced at dawn.

The caravan site owners had warned us not to use the Sat Nav, the road wasn’t as bad as I expected.

The lane to Garslade Farm, 1½ miles of freshly laid loose grit; that’s going to be fun on Zippy!

Once hooked up I had Zippy off the back and it was off to Glastonbury Tor.

We managed to park Zippy right at the base

view from the west

It attracts quite a lot of visitors and hippies

St Michael’s Tower © J Riches

You get great views of the Somerset Levels

After the Tor we popped into Glastonbury itself. Hippyville.

half the shops on the High Street sell hippy and new age crap

I didn’t go looking for fridge magnets ’cause I can’t stand the smell of joss sticks or patchouli oil

These crusties had been on something a little stronger than patchouli oil and it hadn’t done much for their yang

It’s great to be back on the road again, Wells or the Cheddar Gorge tomorrow.

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Week 21

Day 141 – Friday 27th July 2018

Today is supposed to be Furnace Friday but we have plenty of cloud in Santon Bridge so everything is just fine here. After walking up Scafell Pike on Wednesday for some reason my legs ache more today than they did yesterday.

We took Zippy out for a ride around the countryside and came across The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway.

That’s not smoke coming out of the engine it’s ivy!

After lunch we went to Ravenglass itself.

The Irt Estuary from Ravenglass

The charming old part of Ravenglass

Ravenglass is of course the home of the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway and it has a really boring railway museum. It was free with a suggested donation of £1 so it was free.

Is there anything more boring than a steam railway museum?

this must pass for humour in the world of the railway enthusiast

The one redeeming feature of the Ravenglass station and museum… they made excellent chips in the cafe.

Day 142 – Saturday 28th July 2018

It didn’t half rain last night and it’s overcast and windy this morning. Packed up early and set off for Borrowdale which is a few miles south of Keswick; not too far from here as the crow flies but an hour and a half by road.

Had some fun and games getting to the site. The campsite is down a narrow lane

The road sign says the bridge is 6’6″wide but it’s more like 10ft. Why do they do that?

I think in the BMW owners’ manual it says that in any situation BMW drivers always have right of way so this one really didn’t want to reverse…

in the end might is right

While he was dithering a van and a bus appeared behind him.

The bus turning up made me smile and I thought I might have to get my lunch out.

Almost the moment we arrived at the site it started to rain. Brilliant.

The good thing is on our pitch we have a bird table a couple of feet from the windscreen. It’s fabulous watching birds so close up.

a Jay

Julie is struggling to get a great photo of the little birds with her Samsung J5. They are very nervous feeders; land, grab a seed and fly straight off into the bushes to eat it.

Day 143 – Sunday 29th July 2018

Rained all day until 5pm so I spent the day reading, playing Free Cell and snacking. The Lake District is a fuckin’ miserable place when it rains. When the rain stopped I went out for a walk to Derwent Water. I found a lovely bench to sit at and contemplate the world.

A grey day in the Lake District, looking towards Keswick.

The forecast is for the rain to start again at 9am tomorrow.

Cfor handles the rainy days surprisingly well

Day 144 – Monday 30th July 2018

Up early and after putting some seed out for the birds I set off to explore the valley. My legs have recovered from Scafell Pike which is good because I want to go up Catbells tomorrow.

It was a lovely early morning walk.

I came across these delinquents

The River Derwent

The rain duly came about 10am but it was sporadic and only light so we jumped on Zippy and headed for Keswick.

Julie’s fetishes are really getting out of hand

The first thing to greet us when we got off Zippy in Keswick town was two armed police officers with machine guns! I asked them why the need for such weaponry in Keswick… a Christian convention apparently.

What has this country come to when we need armed police to protect a few vicars

Keswick is the focal point round here for walkers and it is stuffed with outdoor clothing shops and cafes and places to carb up.

a Greggs and a chip shop side by side… a heavenly collision of cholesterol

Lunch over with we had a walk around town and I  bought a new pair of walking shoes for Catbells.

This week’s caption competition

Derwent Water at Keswick

After dinner the skies were clear blue so Julie and I went for a stroll down to Derwent Water.

© Julie Riches

a little more colourful from the bench today

I have a new app

Day 145 – Tuesday 31st July 2018

Beautiful dry morning so once we’d made our butties we set off for Catbells.

Julie has this thing, she thinks she can’t walk up hill. She gets all breathless. The doctors have told her there is nothing wrong with her. I have told her it is all psychosomatic and that all she needs to do is forget about it. Today we will see.

The start

The sign may say only 1 mile and that might sound easy but Catbells involves some scrambling.

a nice paved section to start with

We took it easy and stopped every couple of minutes, letting people pass. A very large lady and a couple with a 3½ boy passed us; we had our pacemakers!

The views soon became beautiful

Derwent Water with Keswick in the background

a little beach

Just about keeping up with the 3½ year old. That summit up there is not Catbells, it’s Skelgill Bank.

That’s Catbells

Causey Pike from Skelgill Bank

Julie was doing okay, no sign of breathlessness.

Not too far to go now

She doesn’t know what’s just ahead

This is where Julie lost her shit.

You have to cling on to rocks while you navigate some narrow steps. Julie made the mistake of looking down. The 3½ year old’s Dad carried him over this section; I thought I was going to have to do the same with Julie.

Made it

it were blowing a blooming gale at top

Once we’d eaten our butties it was time to go down.

Going down is never as much fun as going up.

safely down

Well done Julie!

 

Day 146 – Wednesday 1st August 2018

Up early and everything packed away.

It was goodbye to the bird table. We are both going to miss watching the birds up close.

We are headed to Lytham St Annes via my Auntie Trica and Uncle Peter’s place in Stalmine. My Auntie Tricia could talk for England and she did. They also drink more tea than A watch. We had a great time and were well fed with cherry scones and fancy biscuits from Booths.

My Uncle Peter suggested we parked up on the front at Cleveleys but there are newly erected no overnight camping signs there. Technically if you have nothing outside the van you are parked not camping but the last thing you need is some over zealous copper knocking on your door at 1 am telling you to move on so we headed for Lytham.

We had to travel via the front at Blackpool and it is pretty grim viewing.

The tower from north of the North Pier

Central Blackpool

Chavistic transport

South Beach and the funfair

By the time we made it to Lytham the council aire was full so we had to park on the promenade right by the pier. I had greasy chips and curry for me tea, fabulous.

Nelly on the Prom at Lytham

Day 147 – Thursday 2nd August 2018

Today is supposed to be the hottest day ever in Europe

cold & wet on the Fylde Coast though

We are headed to Wilcoxs Farm Caravan Park near Rivington today because I have seen Rivington Pike hundreds of times from the M6 but never been up it. It was an uneventful journey and we easily handled the narrow roads on the West Pennine Moors.

Wilcox Farm is a nice little site.

you can see Blackpool tower from it (just above the central sheep’s head)

Once settled in we went for a ride around the locality and I visited Liverpool Castle…

… it’s a folly built by Lord Leverhulme based on the original Liverpool Castle in Liverpool and was never meant to be finished. All the kids ignore the Do Not Climb signs.

Rivington Reservoir

Winter Hill TV mast. This can be seen from the Lake District, South Manchester and North Wales

Sunset over Preston

Tomorrow it’s Rivington Pike then Winter Hill via Two Lads. I might need my waterproofs.

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