On the road again…
It seems like forever since I last wrote a blog post describing our travels in Bessie, but here we are again, almost 6 months later on the road again and raring too go, although we had to wait for our Great Leader to lift the lockdown and travel restrictions! To keep this new blog brief I will not comment further on Ms Sturgeon!!
So, what’s been happening with us, I hear you ask?
As I mentioned at the end of the last blog post, we became grandparents for the second time and Callie was born in November but we were not allowed to go over and see her and Eilidh in November or at Christmas. Thanks to video links and pictures we see the girls on a daily basis but it’s not the same as being there to see them in person. Restrictions were to be eased at Christmas so I booked the Ferry to Belfast for our 5 day visit but the person I am not going to comment on came on prime time Saturday night TV to declare she had closed the borders to the outside world. Given our cases were packed and sitting at the front door ready to load in the car the next morning to head for Cairnryan, this was a disappointment to say the least!
I rebooked for the end of February and that ended up being postponed, and to cut a long story short here we are in May and we still haven’t made it to Belfast. Fingers are now crossed for the end of May and hopefully we get to meet Callie before she is walking and talking!!
Regular followers will know I started publishing Journals and Notebooks via Amazon in May and with nothing better to do I kept configuring new titles and from Black Friday through to Christmas, sales were amazing and have continued exceeding expectations since. The latest developments are Word Search Puzzle Books, perfect for those rainy nights in the van (or home!). It would be a great help if you could like or share on Facebook and Twitter (buttons at bottom of this page) to help publicise Fyne Editions, especially if you have friends and relatives who have a motorhome, camper van or caravan. The four Word Search books shown below are the latest but you can check out out other titles HERE. More coming soon…
Bessie had a tough time since she was last used and as we had a grey, cold, frosty few months it resulted in the van battery and the two leisure batteries going flat but as we were in lockdown we could not move it to the house to charge it up again.
That said, it was coming up to Bessie’s third birthday so it needed to have an MOT test. Luckily the MOT garage in Kilmartin, 9 miles away can test a motorhome Bessie’s size so the AA sent out the local Stag garage to start it to allow me to take Bessie up to Kilmartin where she passed the test with flying colours.
If anyone reading this with a large van in or near Argyll, I can recommend the Kilmartin garage for motorhome MOTs.
Both before and after the test I drove Bessie about trying to put a charge in the van but that would prove to be a waste of diesel! The picture below is Bessie at the car park for Carnasserie Castle, just north of Kilmartin on the Oban road.
All things considered, and apart from the battery issue, Bessie came through the harsh winter well and was in ready to go condition.
With the van MOT’d we were ready to go and as soon as the restriction confining us to Argyll was lifted we set off for a trip to the Stirling / Falkirk area for a repair to the fridge and have 5 days plugged in on a CL to charge up the batteries and give the van a good clean, inside and outside.
After getting another jump start from the Stag Garage (AA) that is …
… we headed first to the services on the M9 at Stirling, a run of two and a half hours, where we met Graeme of GP Caravan Repairs who fixed the fridge. With our dealer, Lowdhams near Nottingham closed, Graeme had contacted Dometic for me and obtained the part under warranty. We have used Graeme before on Louis when he fixed the boiler for us. If you need a mobile motorhome, camper van or caravan technician in Central Scotland we can highly recommend Graeme who can be found at https://gpcaravanrepairs.co.uk/
With the engine running for almost three hours I thought that after Graeme completed the work we would be on our merry way but no such luck, the battery was dead so it was obvious we had to get a new van battery and hope the two leisure batteries, which were also flat, would charge once we were hooked up on a site. Graeme recommended Cockburn Auto Electrical Services who were only 6 miles away between Larbert and Camelon. As well as fitting the new battery the brothers Cockburn kept us entertained with their patter and it was actually a bit of a wrench to leave. Again we can vouch for Cockburn Auto Electrical Services and you can check them out at https://www.cockburnautoelectricalservices.co.uk/
By this time it was mid afternoon and we had a very quick visit to friends in Stenhousemuir and The Navigator’s sister in Polmont as we knew we could socially distance in their back gardens. As we were in Polmont, we took the opportunity to take flowers to the grave of The Navigator’s parents as we had not been able to go there for a long time.
Before heading for our overnight stopover we topped up on shopping at Aldi then headed to the campsite, a new one for us and one worthy of a separate blog write up so I will detail our stay in the next blog post.
After a five night stay with glorious weather and the leisure batteries fully charged up again we headed off to our next campsite, the Maragowan Caravan and Motorhome Club site at Killin. We are no strangers to this site and have been coming here on and off for over thirty years. The Caravan Club website describes it as follows…
Maragowan Club Site is a picturesque family holiday location nestled on the bank of the River Lochay in Scotland. The caravan park is within comfortable walking distance of the quaint little holiday town of Killin where you can idle the time away in the various shops and restaurants.
The Maragowan Club Site includes a well-equipped facility for babies and toddlers under 4 years old where parents can tend to the little ones in comfort. It also puts you within easy reach of a wealth of fun outdoor activities. There is a 9-hole golf course and trout fishing is permitted in the river – just see the Site Staff during office hours to obtain a permit. Cycling routes, including the National Cycle Route 7 and the Rob Roy Way, are in close proximity and mountain bikes can be hired in the village of Killin. Kayaking, hill walking and mountaineering can all be undertaken from the caravan site. Walking can be enjoyed by all abilities, with numerous Munros, Corbetts and pleasant hill walks within a few miles of the site. For a step back in time with scenic beauty, visit Loch Katrine and enjoy a Sir Walter Scott steamer cruise. For the more adventurous, there are water sports centres close by at Lochearnhead and Kenmore on Loch Tay, where small boats can be launched into the loch. Scenic drives up the Glens where local wildlife abounds are also not to be missed when visiting this idyllic caravan site. A hotel opposite the site also offers live music on certain nights. A good butcher’s van visits the site on a Tuesday and Friday, please ask the Warden for more details.
Regular readers of this blog may remember I wrote a blog post on the 24th of August 2019 on our last visit when The Navigator and I were helping out at the Tay Fitness Events 5K & 10K runs to help Iona, The Navigator’s niece, and hubby Pete who were the organisers. You can read that blog HERE and see the YouTube videos etc.
Unfortunately due to Covid most of this year’s events have had to be moved or cancelled so if you are into fitness events check out the Tay Fitness Events webpage HERE for their forthcoming events.
After five glorious days at our last location, the weather was not great but we did manage a walk up through Killin to the Falls of Dochart one day and a circular walk down to Loch Tay and back the next day when Iona came to see us.
The falls were not as wild as they can be but in fairness we had just had a week’s worth of dry weather…
Back in the mists of time when I was a Boy Rep we used to come to The Killin Hotel for team meetings for no other reason than to treat ourselves to good food and booze on the company. This was in the days long before mobile phones and probably dates me…
The Maragowan campsite backs on to the River Lochay and there is free fishing from the campsite and in the past I (and Jill) have caught trout here but it was far too cold to try again on this visit.
As I mentioned, Iona came to see us with her youngest daughter Cara and we set off for a bracing walk from the campsite, down to the ruin of Finlarig Castle, along the edge of Loch Tay and back into Killin for a reviving cuppa and “Victorian Cake” as Murron, Iona’s oldest called it.
Although this was the week that everyone with a motorhome, camper van or caravan had spent the winter months thinking about, the site was only about two thirds full and that was surprising as this site is usually full most of the time. Maybe it was the hiked prices or the forecast of really cold conditions but we expected it to be busier than it was. So, on this occasion with the site not functioning properly because of continuing Covid restrictions we gave the site only 3 stars!
We had to head for home as the next day we both had our second Astra Zeneca injections, and again we suffered no adverse reactions.
Our plans for the rest of the year are still not 100% confirmed but our next stay is booked for a site we have never been to before near Loch Lomond. After that Emma is coming up from Leeds to work from our home before we all head for the Cairnryan – Belfast ferry for the 3rd attempt to have a much anticipated visit to all in Belfast!
We might squeeze in another trip away in Bessie in June before the end of the month when everyone is coming to stay with us for a couple of weeks. That will leave half of July and all of August to use Bessie in either Scotland or England, probably both.
When we hurriedly left the El Jardin campsite in Spain in March 2020 we booked to go back in September of that year which was obviously cancelled and we moved the booking on to March of this year and that too was cancelled and so we moved our booking onto September this year which we hope can happen as we have paid for the pitch deposit at El Campello and we also have a voucher for Brittany Ferries to use up as well as they cancelled our return trip last March.
That’s how this year is looking at the moment but if this last year has taught us anything it is that events can overtake anyone’s best laid plans. Harold Macmillan was once asked what the most troubling problem of his Prime Ministership was. ‘Events, my dear boy, events,’ was his alleged reply. How true…
Before I go it would be remiss of me to not plug my little venture, Fyne Editions and a new range of Journals designed initially for Father’s Day (20th June this year) but can also be bought as gifts for Dad / Grandfather’s Christmas or Birthday. Click on any image to buy from Amazon (FREE UK Prime delivery).
Click any image below to see the full range of Motorhome, Camper Van, Caravan or Camping Journals.
CAMPER VAN JOURNALS
COMING UP NEXT…
We visit a great CL near the Falkirk Wheel.
We visit a new (to us) campsite near Loch Lomond.
We head for Belfast (not in the van) for a long overdue visit.