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The ManVanNoPlan Summer 2022 Update…

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By the time you read this we may already be on the continent on our next adventure, a six week tour of Europe. Why not another three month tour I hear you all say as one?

Well, let me update you on what we’ve been doing since the last blog post and all will be revealed…

We came out of the Schengen Zone at the end of May, so, in theory, we could have returned for another three-month adventure from the 1st of September but unfortunately, our plans were on hold due to The Navigator waiting for a minor op, which still hasn’t happened. 

The Navigator is on what was meant to be a twelve-week waiting list for a cataract operation due to take place by the end of September with a follow-up check-up six weeks after the operation, hence a three-month trip was impossible. Not only was she on a waiting list but had opted to be on a cancellation list and was prepared to have the op at a few days’ notice. Frustrated with not hearing anything she phoned to see where she was on the waiting list, a call was made to the hospital in Glasgow only to be told it would be next year before the operation could happen. Bad news, but at least we could now plan a shortened trip and maybe by the end of this blog we will have agreed which of the many route options to take, so keep reading… So, what have we been up to over the last few months since the last blog post?

The Navigator did quite a bit of holiday relief at her old job and I worked to list new products and update covers and interiors of existing titles at Fyne Editions. Sales are increasing month on month and there are over 1,900 titles listed on Amazon now!

Inexpensive Christmas Gift Ideas…

The first week of July saw Jill, Simon, Eilidh and Callie arrive for a two week holiday followed by Emma and Adam a few days later. 


One of the highlights of this time was a trip down to the Machrihanish Caravan Site where we all spent three nights, us in Bessie, Jill and family in a wooden pod and Emma and Adam in their new tent.


In Argyll we didn’t have the same great weather and heatwave that England has enjoyed and erecting the tent for the first time in the blustery conditions was challenging to say the least!

That said we enjoyed one great day on the beach which Eilidh and Callie loved.


We got soaked at the Tarbert Seafood Festival…


…but it stayed dry for a fun day out at Inveraray…


Another July highlight was my birthday treat of lunch at the Tayvallich Inn which was excellent.

Tayvallich Birthday Lunch

One of the other things that happens when the girls visit Argyll is Eilidh gets her hair cut and as this was Callie’s first trim, she had to be bribed with chocolate buttons, but they both sat still for Louise.


The week after everyone had left it was my actual birthday and I was treated to a slap up meal by The Navigator at the Slanj in Tarbet, Loch Lomond. The Slanj is well known as one of the pubs that offers free overnight stopovers for motorhomes, if you purchase a meal so we took Bessie to take advantage of this offer.


As The Navigator was working the next day I headed down towards the Mull of Kintyre for two nights wildcamping at one of my favourite spots on a cliff-top looking out to the islands of Gigha, Islay, Jura and even as far as Rathlin Island which is just off the coast of Northern Ireland.


I returned home on the Friday to pick up The Navigator and we headed down to another favourite wildcamping spot between Cloanaig and Skipness overlooking Arran but the weather wasn’t great so we never actually stepped outside Bessie from the Friday afternoon to Sunday lunchtime when we headed home.


The Navigator was working all the next week so I took myself off for the week in Bessie with the Sunday night wildcamping near Dunoon and the following pic is the view across to Bute and a visiting cruise ship. Usually there are a number of vans wildcamping here but the lashing rain turned the parking area into a little loch so I drove over to the east coast in search of drier weather and had four great days parked on the esplanade lorry park at Kirkcaldy which is another great free location to park up. 


The location at Kirkcaldy could not be better as you look out over the beach and the Forth to East Lothian and the passing ships going up to Edinburgh and Grangemouth. It is also right next to a greasy spoon cafe and a very clean public toilet…


The Navigator worked for the first two weeks of the month and I put Bessie back in storage as I needed to work as well and I didn’t want to push my luck by disappearing off for a fortnight on my own!

Dentist and hairdresser appointments were fitted in as were routine doctors appointments before we had friends George and Betty come up from Falkirk for the last weekend of the month. Back in the mists of time one of the first jobs The Navigator was in an office in Falkirk she and Betty worked together there. We have been friends with them ever since and they are honorary Aunt and Uncle to Jill and Emma.

Sad, if expected news came our way in August when our friend Alan Salt passed away following a long and brave battle with cancer.

We first met Alan and Helen in Spain and it is one of the bonuses of travel that you get to meet such lovely people and our Friday nights in the bars of Playa Muchavista will live with us.

Alan was a lovely bloke who lived an interesting, eventful life, and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Alan & Helen

With no work on the horizon for The Navigator, and a week without any appointments, we packed up Bessie again and headed off for a week on the Fife coast.

Our first stopover was at the Alva Industrial Estate at the bottom of the ‘Hillfoots.’ This location is where we used to stay when we came across to visit The Navigator’s mother in her Sauchie care home. Stopping here broke our journey and gave us the opportunity to have a fantastic Chinese takeaway at the Royal Palace which was pricier than usual, but isn’t everything nowadays!


Next morning we were up and off to Burntisland for two nights parked up at the Leisure Centre car park, yet another great free location. We do like our free overnights but a walk up to the High Street saw us stocking up at Tom Courts Butchers and a nearby bakers shop before beating a hasty retreat back to Bessie just as the heavens opened up and we were confined there all afternoon.

It was no real hardship as I got to watch the Liverpool v Everton derby followed by another exciting stage of the Vuelta.

The views around Burntisland Bay and out across the Forth are excellent but were hampered by low cloud and heavy rain, although we did see two huge cruise ships sailing out to sea from Edinburgh, one going to Kirkwall in Orkney and the other to Le Havre in France.


The old Scottish expression, ‘the nights are fair drawing in’ was apt tonight as it was pitch black at eight o’clock so I had the chance to type this up to date and The Navigator read until she fell fast asleep well before ten o’clock. There is something therapeutic about listening to rain on the roof of a motorhome and it’s a great sleeping aid.

After all the heavy rain during the night, it was a surprise to open the blinds to a lovely sunny morning. There were only a few vans on the car park last night and it was a very peaceful night although one boy racer parked up just after eleven with booming music blaring out before he thankfully got bored after ten minutes and departed.

Yesterday we went into the leisure centre to check out the facilities, which were excellent, and and we resolved to get up early and have a swim and shower to save our water. When push came to shove however, a long lie in somehow seemed more appealing. Can you see Bessie in the next picture?


We did get some exercise later however as we had a walk along the esplanade and returned via a circular route past some impressive Victoria houses which had an excellent view over the bay and out over the Firth of Forth to the East Lothian coast. Their view was only interrupted by the passage of Scotrail trains heading for Kirkcaldy and the longer LNER train heading for Aberdeen.

Back at the van I had a chat with a man I had met a few weeks ago when I was parked up next to him and his wife at Kirkcaldy. He had driven his old Hymer from Spain where they live permanently but had returned to Scotland for a family wedding. I thought he would have headed back to sunnier climes by now but he explained that he was waiting for a part for the van before getting its MOT and his wife said that they were not in a hurry as they were going to meander down though France for a month or so on their way back to Spain.


We spent the afternoon watching an exciting stage of the Vuelta and marvelled at the fitness of the riders cycling up the Sierra Nevada mountains in the extreme temperatures and high altitude.

After dinner we went out for another walk in the opposite direction this time where we had a great view over the Forth to Edinburgh, and although it was a bit hazy the outline of Arthur’s Seat could easily be seen, as could the Bass Rock further down the coast. The evening was topped off sitting on a park bench enjoying a Whippy cone. Sunday night is YouTube night and we caught up with all the people we follow.

The Navigator is forever checking the weather forecast and I was advised tomorrow was going to be a rainy day but, that turned out to be not the case as Monday dawned to a bright and sunny day.

There were only three vans here last night and it was a quiet morning with only a few people parking their cars to walk dogs along the esplanade and on the beach. We had watched one amazing dog last night that ran into the water at one end of the beach and proceeded to swim the entire length wagging its tail as it did so.


Today we drove the twelve minute drive to Kirkcaldy via Pettycur Bay and Kinghorn to spend two nights on the esplanade there. Pettycur Bay, and for any readers not in Scotland, is the famous, or infamous, static caravan park which was featured on TV recently in one of those reality TV shows. We never watched it, and there’s an outside chance it was good, but I somehow doubt it!

As you drive into Kirkcaldy there is a Morrisons on the right and what looks like a new Lidl on the left and we went in there to top up on necessities to see us through the rest of the week. There was a German Camper Van in the car park with the registration letters CUX which is from the area surrounding Cuxhaven, where, if you are a regular reader, you might remember that we celebrated The Navigator’s birthday there back in early April. I mentioned this to the elderly couple but their understanding of English spoken in a Scottish accent was as limited as my few words of German!

We parked up on the large lorry park on the esplanade and watched the waves crashing in as the tide came in. It was breezy, but at least dry and sunny, and so after lunch we set off along the esplanade into the centre of Kirkcaldy, and, which back in the day, was a good shopping destination.

Not now sadly, as it seems to have succumbed to the fate of so many provincial Scottish towns with the likes of Marks and Spencer, C & A, and Woolworths closing and many other smaller shops boarded up or had become charity shops. Sad but inevitable, as the bigger stores have moved out of town and what’s left seem to be populated by pensioners (like us)!

By contrast if you were driving through Kirkcaldy along the front you would think the place was thriving as a lot of money seems to have been spent giving the esplanade a face lift and we enjoyed walking along it. We spent the rest of the evening people watching as they walked, jogged and cycled along the esplanade.


The Navigator’s forecast was right for today and it was raining on and off most of the morning but that didn’t stop her from walking back down to the High Street for a ball of wool as we might not be getting out much as it’s supposed to rain for most of this week. Not being much of a knitter myself, I did some work in the comfort of Bessie.

When The Navigator returned with the wool she then walked to the nearby Lidl for milk then that was the activity for the day over as the occasional showers prevented us from getting the bikes out for a cycle. The afternoon was spent watching the Vuelta and the incredible ending when one of the favourites, Primoz Roglic, crashed within a few yards of the finish line ending his participation in the race.

In the evening The Navigator read and I watched Real Madrid clinically take Celtic apart in the Champions League before we caught up with ‘Only Connect’ where I narrowly triumphed again!

This was our fifth day away and we needed to service Bessie, so after a lazyish morning we headed to Markinch and the Caravan Club Site after lunch. The Balbirnie Site is situated on a 400 acre parkland on the outskirts of Markinch in central Fife.

Considering the rain of yesterday and overnight it was a lovely sunny day so the servicing of the van was completed without getting soaked, however, as forecast, the rain returned about three o’clock so another afternoon was spent knitting, working and watching the Vuelta.

We woke to a sunny day so after breakfast we made use of our pensioner’s bus pass to travel the short distance into Glenrothes, one of Scotland’s ‘New Towns’. As such there was nothing much of interest there so after a walk about the shopping centre we were back on the bus just over an hour later!

Although it was a lovely day the forecast was for more rain just after three o’clock (again) so we had a walk around the parkland which was well maintained. The parkland is the grounds of an impressive Georgian mansion, now a hotel, and is considered ‘posh’ according to a lady on the bus who was looking forward to attending a wedding there in a few weeks.


It did indeed look ‘posh’, too posh for us so we continued walking on, passing the golf clubhouse and the immaculate looking course before heading back through the woods to Bessie. Just as we were enjoying a reviving cuppa the rain started right on cue just after three o’clock.

We watched the Vuelta again before watching Rangers and Liverpool being given a football lesson by Ajax and Napoli respectively before catching up with this week’s episode of ‘Shetland.’

For some reason we both sleep much better in Bessie than we do at home and that was the case again last night.

That said, just after six o’clock this morning we awoke to the heaviest rain we’ve encountered in a long time and it was impossible to sleep on, not helped by the fact that Bessie was parked under a tree which consolidated the raindrops making them bigger and noisier falling on the roof!

Surprisingly in these days of a ‘cost of living crisis’ this site has been full for the last two nights and at £25 a night is about double what we paid on the continental Aires we were on earlier in the year and so it was time to move on again and back to the free wildcamping spot at Kirkcaldy.


Before heading to the Kirkcaldy esplanade we serviced the van again in a momentary respite from the rain before heading off towards Dysart which I visited when I was here on my own a few weeks ago. Nowadays Dysart is a suburb of Kirkcaldy but a few centuries ago it was a small town built around a busy harbour. The principle trade was the export of coal and salt to Europe, and The Netherlands in particular.


Today it is a sleepy little place with little sailing and fishing boats bobbing in the harbour. The nearby historic buildings have been preserved and add to the air of a tranquil place to live and visit. There is a car park beside the harbour looking out to sea and we parked here and had a walk to see the former merchant’s houses and the harbour as the rain had temporarily abated.

We had our lunch here and watched as two tiny boats left the harbour to attend their creels and pots and I hope it was worth their while as the sea conditions were choppy to say the least.


Dysart is at the east end of Kirkcaldy Bay and you can see where we were heading for at the other end of the bay so we decided to go and get parked up for the afternoon before the forecasted heavy rain came on again.

It was a miserable afternoon made worse by the news that the Queen had passed away. It is estimated that 86% of the British population were born in her reign and grew up with her as our much loved head of State.

The rain hammered down all evening and Bessie was rocked about slightly by the wind even though we were sandwiched between two lorries. The noise of the wind and the waves crashing onto the shore just a few yards in front of us was actually quite soothing and I at least had a great night sleep and never even heard our neighbouring lorries drive off early in the morning.


The weather was still terrible but as ever we were warm and comfortable in Bessie but as the day wore on it brightened up and we managed out a walk along the esplanade.


We woke to bright sunshine and the clearest view this week over to the other bank of the Forth with Berwick Law and the Bass Rock clearly visible for a change.

Today was the crucial penultimate stage of the Vuelta so it was up and at ’em this morning. The weather was fantastic with warm sunshine beating down as we set off to walk to Kirkcaldy Harbour and back along the esplanade which was still strewn with seaweed and sand after the high tide combined with Friday’s storm.  The tide was well out and there were lots of people on the beach exercising dogs and picking up what we assumed were some sort of sea shells.

The Navigator had bought a new pair of walking shoes earlier in the week and this was their first outing so for that reason we could not go onto the sand!

As we approached the end of the esplanade there is a checkered design painted on the tarmac denoting the start/end of the ‘Kirkcaldy Mile’. When we are in Bessie we see people walking, jogging and cycling past us a few times and this was the reason, they were exercising on a marked distance of a mile. 


We felt that our particular exertions in the sunshine merited a cuppa so we crossed the road and frequented the Merchants House Cafe which was busy with people having drinks and cake from a superb selection, although we contented ourselves with a pot of tea and sat outside in the sunshine. The Navigator fumed as she watched a woman at the next table blethering on her mobile while eating a delicious looking waffle smothered in fresh fruit while studiously ignoring her partner who looked on miserably!

The Merchant’s House is a distinctive well preserved 16th century house at the end of Kirkcaldy High Street and was built with a long narrow back garden which was designed to provide vegetables and fruit for said merchant, but nowadays still has fruit trees, but is laid out to provide extra seating for the cafe.


We never made it to the harbour, instead returning via the High Street which had more life to it than earlier in the week. I took a picture of 313 High Street to show our neighbour as that was where he was born and raised.

Back at Bessie we had our lunch while The Navigator caught up with all things Royal and I watched the Vuelta. Later I had a chat with the Turkish lorry driver who was parked next to us and he explained the route he had taken to get here and his cargo which was huge bales of cloth.

Our holiday is drawing to a close and this is the last night in Kirkcaldy so we treated ourselves to a Chinese takeaway which was excellent. Just before I shut the blinds we witnessed something neither of us had ever seen before and it was quite spectacular.

I mentioned earlier that it was so clear today that we could easily see Berwick Law on the other side of the Forth. Tonight a massive bright orange rectangle appeared beside it and we were stumped as to what it was . A cupboard had to be hurriedly emptied before the binoculars were found and it turned out that it was the moon rising between the horizon and a band of clouds. It was bright bright orange and probably due to an optical illusion it was many times larger than usual.

We had a relaxed, lazy morning as there is no rush to get to our final destination, one of our favourite CL’s at Longcroft on the banks of the Forth and Clyde Canal, not far from the Falkirk Wheel.

Before we left the parking area at Kirkcaldy we had another chat with the couple who live in Spain but are back home in Scotland for a family wedding. They are a bit like us in that the men would like to sell their bricks and mortar home and live in their van full time but the women are not for having it!

The route we took headed for the M90 and the (new) Forth Bridge and even though it wasn’t noon yet people were congregating on the bridges over the motorway to see the Queen’s cortege pass more than three hours later.

Screenshot (73)
Screenshot (77)

We headed straight to Bonnybridge and settled in at the Underwood CL and it was good to catch up with owner Helen again.


After such a lovely day it started to rain in the late afternoon but we had the last day of the Vuelta and our Sunday YouTube bonanza to keep us entertained.

As we are heading off at the end of the month for six weeks abroad, today I presented The Navigator with four potential routes and I awaited her decision with bated breath…

The overnight rain gave way to a lovely warm morning and we decided to spend most of it looking at potential routes for our next overseas trip with different combinations of departure ports and regions that would be new to us.

Most of our travels in Louis and Bessie have either been coastal or following major rivers like the Rhine, Mosel, and the Loire so there is a lot of inland northern Europe we have still to see. 

Northern Europe

The route we have chosen will take us through five different countries and will be a combination of new destinations and a few where we will be returning after a good few years.

After the route was agreed in principle, I booked our ferry crossing so we will sail on the 3rd of October and return to the UK on the 11th of November on the same route as our outward journey so you can look forward to the next blog post from foreign parts in early October.

After lunch we had a walk along the canal towpath in the direction of Allandale and it was very pleasant and warm. When we returned to Bessie we serviced it ready to leave for home in the morning.

I brought this blog up to date and The Navigator binged on the latest Royals developments before we settled down to watch Only Connect and modesty forbids me from telling you who won!

Time to head for the hills, well at least The Rest And Be Thankful, and on to Ardrishaig. Any time we are away there is always something to be bought and this time it was lengths of beading as I will be replacing the shed window to try and make it waterproof again before the winter monsoon season returns to Argyll.

After booking our return ferry yesterday we arrived back home to find a letter from the Eye Department at Gartnavel Royal Hospital in Glasgow asking The Navigator to come in the following week to measure her eye ahead of the operation. We drove down to Glasgow and kept the appointment but told them the Op would have to be after mid November but I wouldn’t bet against a letter behind the door on our return with an Op date when we were away!

We flew to Belfast for a long weekend which we enjoyed and The Navigator has another few days work on her return and I have a ton of work to upload new titles for a hoped-for busy Quarter 4 for Fyne Editions…

A few days before we were due to head off on our travels again we both got word to head into Lochgilphead with most of the other oldies from our street to get both the 4th Covid jab and the winter flu jab – one in each arm for me…

Bessie was washed and loaded up ready for the off and I applied a new graphic to the back of Bessie and it will be revealed on the next blog in about ten days time. The weather was lovely on Thursday the 28th of September for the work to be done but the next day when we set off it was a horrible day with lashing rain and gale force winds. This seems to be the norm when we head off for our first night at Carlisle…

It’s a busy old life being retired…

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We begin a six week tour taking in five countries and most of it will be to new regions for us so stay tuned and if you are not already SUBSCRIBED sign up to be notified of the new blogs when they go online. 

PS – The Fyne Editions website has had a makeover and tons of new titles have been added in the past few weeks so check it out HERE

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