Following on from where we left off…
2020 – The Autumn Tour – Week 3 is the final week of a three week break in Bessie. If you missed the last gripping episode you can catch up HERE. Before we get going with this weeks blog I would like to apologise for the delay in posting it, but, as Harold MacMillan is alleged to have once said, “Events, dear boy, events.”
My excuse for not finishing off this episode sooner is that events got in the way of me completing it and it is only now, just over three weeks after returning home, that I have managed to find the time to finish it off.
Just before we left on the trip we had a new kitchen fitted. Now, most women would have been delighted that their dream of nine years since we moved here would had been finally achieved, but apparently the kitchen now had to be repainted and I had to do it!
As you will know I conceived Fyne Editions during the first lockdown, initially as a hobby to keep me occupied but it very quickly took off and constantly needs fed with new titles. So, that’s what I’ve been doing, configuring and designing new journals and notebooks to keep sales going onwards and upwards. I learned so much about this project from watching YouTube videos and the experts, or ‘gurus’ were all saying that sales would rocket in quarter 4 in the run up to Christmas, especially as more people than ever would be shopping online, so I had to get ready for it.
The ‘gurus’ were also indicating that it would be wise to diversify and create other products based on the niche you were aiming at, in my case mostly motorhome, camper van and caravan owners for journals, and a new series of ‘Born & Bred In…’ notebooks. So, another load of YouTube videos later my latest venture is just about ready to go live and is already getting orders as its being tested. Using and adapting the artwork for the journals already on sale on Amazon, I have created a store on Etsy to sell motorhome, camper van and caravan merchandise (initially T Shirts and Mugs) and hopefully it will be fully live on the 1st of December so come back to ManVanNoPlan as there will be a link to the new Etsy shop soon.
EVENT No 4
This event did not take up any of my time really but it was a major event in our lives and I will let you read the blog to see what it was…
Back to the blog and week 3 of our Autumn tour. You pick it up after we have left Bessie at Lowdhams and we are staying in a hotel in Kegworth for a couple of nights…
Wednesday 21st of October – OYO Hotel, Kegworth
No need for breakfast as we were still full from last nights Chinese.
This morning was going to consist of more retail therapy for The Navigator so we headed up the M1 to the IKEA at the Giltbrook Retail Park and the consolation of not having breakfast was the prospect of lunch there and feasting on their Swedish meatballs!
We were at the retail park until early afternoon before heading back to the hotel. Before we left we decided to have a cuppa at the Starbucks and sat at a table outside. I went in to get the drinks, not realising I went in the exit door and had dismissive looks from the staff as I had to clamber past the obstacle course of tables and chairs they had tried (in vain) to use as a barrier to prevent any idiot trying to circumvent their one way system, but this idiot prevailed in the end!
You will know that in Starbucks they ask you your name to write on the cup to make sure you get the correct drink and true to form that’s what happened.
“Eh, what was that again?”
As I was the only customer at this point I assume the cup I got with “Andy” written on it was indeed mine and I hadn’t been give a drink destined for an invisible Andy!
Back to the hotel and another evening of indulgence with another Chinese takeaway!
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Thursday 22nd of October – Lowdhams, Gunthorpe
It was a stormy night last night and it was good to be in a hotel room without the rain battering down a couple of feet above our heads in the van, however the car was covered in leaves which had to be cleared before departing.
Thursday 22nd of October – Lowdhams, Gunthorpe
Again, no breakfast as last nights Chinese was filling. Before heading back to Lowdhams to be reunited with Bessie at 11am we nipped into Gaslow in Loughborough to get a fitting for the van. On the campsite in El Campello the electricity connection is quite expensive and so we run the fridge, cooker and barbecue from our refillable Gaslow gas tanks. The problem with this arrangement is the gas tanks last about 6 weeks so we have to take the van off site to fill the tanks at a Repsol garage a few miles away. The pitch we are on is not easy to get in and out because of trees and the length of Bessie so this situation is not ideal, hence the need to get a fitting to connect our van to an external gas tank that we can hire from the site which means we don’t have to move for the duration of our stay.
We were reunited with Bessie at lunchtime and after transferring our belongings from the SsangYong, which I was just getting to grips with after two days, we serviced the van and settled down in the rally field for another rainy night at Lowdhams.
Friday 23rd of October 2020 – Onneley nr Newcastle Under Lyme – Details HERE
Today we were heading west over to the other side of the country for three nights at another CL as we were meeting up with Alan and Helen for dinner tonight. When I was looking for a CL in their area and suggested this site at Onneley Cricket Club, Alan said one of his mates was the manager at the pub just across the road from the CL and it served good food so it was an easy decision to make.
After a pitstop at a Lidl in Utoxoter, we made it to Onneley just after lunchtime. There is a campsite in Onneley but the CL just behind the cricket club was all we needed as it had hook up and all the basic facilities.
Friday 23rd of October 2020 – Onneley nr Newcastle Under Lyme – Details HERE
The Wheatsheaf Inn has been on this site since 1769 and has been refurbished to a very high standard with a bar, restaurant and nine bedrooms and we had a great night. Alan and Helen are great company and very compatible as Helen and The Navigator drink red wine and Alan and I share the white wine between us! As you can see from this picture and the 4 empty glasses this picture was taken towards the end of the evening!
Saturday 24th of October 2020 – Onneley nr Newcastle Under Lyme – Details HERE
To be honest not a lot happened today, it was wet and miserable for most of the day so we did not venture outside until the evening when we went over to the Wheatsheaf Inn again for more drinks and nibbles with Alan and Helen in the evening.
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Sunday 25th of October 2020 – Onneley nr Newcastle Under Lyme – Details HERE
Today was our last full day here and as the rain relented, we had a bit of a walk around the village as far as we could anyway but had to retreat from our chosen route as the path we were on was flooded and too mucky to continue. Onneley is a very small village but it does boast a well maintained cricket ground and directly opposite it on the other side of the road is a very busy golf club, so busy that the cricket club car park was used as an overflow car park this morning as it was so busy at the golf club.
In the afternoon Alan and Helen picked us up and we were taken to Dagfields Craft and Antique Centre near Nantwich which is an interesting place, the type you see on Bargain Hunt where the teams have to try and find a bargain in the many stalls and shops there. It was surprisingly busy given the current situation and after a good rummage about we had a cuppa and a large portion of cake each.
When we got back to Onneley, just as it was getting dark, a final farewell drink(s) was had in the Wheatsheaf Inn. As we went our respective ways we commented that it would not be long until we were reunited in Spain in January, but as I write this events have overtaken us and that will not be possible now – more on our 2021 plans at the end.
Monday 26th of October 2020 – Beecraigs Country Park, nr Linlithgow – Details HERE
Our time south of the border was at an end and we were heading north today and going straight to Beecraigs Country Park where we started this trip three weeks ago. The Navigator was meeting her sister on Wednesday and this was a convenient place to stop over until then.
It was only the second day in three weeks that we had set an alarm but we had a long drive so made an earlyish start. Lunch was in the car park in the services at Gretna before stopping in Bathgate for some shopping to tide us over the next few days as we intended to stay at Beecraigs until we left on Wednesday.
Some of the current Covid restrictions are necessary and some are barking mad and Beecraigs has one of the more stupid restrictions. You have to reserve your pitch and pay online which is fair enough but then after that someone phones you to give you a ‘slot’ to arrive. You cannot give a general time like between 3pm and 5pm but it has to be a precise time which is daft as anything could have delayed us on our 264 mile journey. We were told to arrive at 4.20pm and as it happens we arrived about an hour too early so we had to kill an hour before arriving at the site.
As I mentioned in the previous blog, we used to live fairly close to Beecraigs and were frequent visitors to the Country Park. When we were here 3 weeks ago we passed a sign for The Scottish Korean War Memorial which we had never seen before, so, to pass the time we stopped and visited it. The following quotation is from its website and explains how it came to be here…
“The memorial was created by the Lothians and West of Scotland branch of the now defunct British Korean Veterans Association as a tribute to the memory of their fallen comrades. The Memorial is an arboretum of 1,114 native Scottish trees, one for every man who died, and a shrine surrounded by two mounds in the shape of the Ying and Yang on the Korean flag.
The monument is built in the traditional style of a Korean shrine and contains name boards listing all the 1,114 men who died. It is the only memorial in the UK dedicated to the Korean War that does this. The mounds have 110 Korean firs on them; one for every ten men who died.”
We had a walk around it and were impressed with the care that the Council put in to maintain it.
As we left there was a white van parked at the entrance and we thought initially it was a Council van there to do some work but then we saw the guy standing beside the drivers door and it then registered that he had a bird of prey on his arm so we got chatting to him. He was getting ready to fly the bird even though it would be dark soon.
Apologies to my bird watching followers but we can’t remember what he said it was apart from a cross between a European bird and an American bird and it hunted other birds rather than rabbits, mice etc. Unfortunately we couldn’t wait to see its flight as we would have missed our ‘slot’ at Beecraigs!
Tuesday 27th of October 2020 – Beecraigs Country Park
Not a lot to report about today as we hardly left the van due to heavy rain showers so we had a lazy day after the long drive yesterday. As the day progressed though I started sneezing almost constantly for some NON Covid reason!
Wednesday 28th of October 2020 – Home
An early alarm call as we had a few things to do today before driving home, three weeks to the day since we left. First was to lay some flowers at the grave of The Navigator’s parents and see the new headstone inscription following her Mothers passing in May.
Next on our list was to meet The Navigators sister and brother in law but I excused myself and stayed in Bessie as I still had a head cold and didn’t want to pass it on.
After lunch we stopped at the new Lidl store in Dumbarton for a ‘big shop’ then it was time to head over the Rest and be Thankful (still an absolute mess) and arrive home in late afternoon between rain showers. The list of the many many failures of this Scottish Government are far far too long to mention, but their incredible incompetence in the ongoing Rest and Be Thankful saga is high on that list!
EVENT No 4
As I said at the start of this blog I was kind of holding back from finishing off this episode until we had news about our new grandchild and we are delighted to announce that our second granddaughter (as yet unnamed) was born on Friday the 20th in Belfast and both mother and daughter are both very well.
Thanks to the Covid travel restrictions currently in place, we cannot travel to Belfast to see the new arrival and everything is crossed that we can make it to Belfast for a family get together at Christmas.
And to show that not much changes in life, here is Jill with her new baby sister 33 years ago and Eilidh with her new baby sister. 1987 v 2020
We have postponed our trip to Spain and will not be going there in January and have rebooked (thanks to Garry and Carol who are there just now) for mid September for 60 nights with two weeks at either end to travel there and back so we are looking forward to that.
Because of the Brexit agreement we are allowed two 90 day trips and hopefully we can get into the routine of a Spring 90 day touring holiday and a Spanish 90 day soak up the sun trip in the Autumn. This will mean being at home for the first 3 months of the year and a very different climate from El Campello but we have enough firewood, thanks to the old kitchen units, to last us for a good few years!
So, for major trips, 2021 is hopefully looking like…
Spring road trip – France Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Northern Germany maybe…
maybe to and from Croatia as we have never been down that way…
Summer – maybe Northern Ireland…
Autumn – Spain…
A lot of maybes but we will start planning in detail early in the new year. With the success of using the Camping and Motorhome Club CL network on this last trip we will try and use more of these sites in the coming year for short breaks in the UK.
Well, that’s you up to date again, and as this will probably be the final blog of the unforgettable 2020, we would both like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2021.