A light bulb idea from a dull, misty day in the hills of Salop.

18 Jan

inflatable-canoe

We have been doing the usual days out to Antiques shops in Congleton, Wrexham, Oswestry and latterly, Church Stretton in Salop (now Shropshire officially)

On the way to Church Stretton we passed , as usual, over the slow moving River Severn at Shrewsbury. We often comment how nice it would be to be floating down the river towards Upton on Severn and the Red Lion Pub caravan site where we have stayed a few times.

Despite the very atmospheric , rolling mist coming off the Shropshire Hills, it did occur to me that this would be a real possibility. My brother recently bought a top end, inflatable canoe for use in France. He’s not far from the Tarn Gorge , for example. Perfect for canoe or kayak. Canoes can be hired from Pool Quay near Welshpool and the Severn offers around 130 miles of navigable route. One chap, Kevin Brady recently SWAM  220 miles of the Severn.

kevin-brady-celebrates-end-of-220-mile-river-severn-swim

Quite an achievement ! To say the least. With the correct logistics, you could canoe a stretch each day and meet back up with the campervan at pre-arranged campsites near the River.

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Motorised river traffic gets busy as you get further downstream and tidal near Gloucester. Best avoid the Severn Bore in a touring canoe with weak upper body strength!

Before we had the kids, I used to kayak on the local canal , around Stone , Trentham and Stafford but never braved any white water. Fair weather biker, fair weather canoeing.(Not entirely true. I did 1000s of very wet miles on one motorbike trip to France alone. Amazon book coming shortly but that’s another story)

Once, in France, whilst walking along the River Garonne near our camped up Trigano Tribute, we came across a chap struggling to put a canoe back on top of his car. In French, he asked me to help and for a short while we chatted in French. I thought that he had a strange accent. Lot et Garonne dialect , methinks. Then, in English, he said “are you English?”. ” Yes” says I.    ” So am I !”  says he.  Allo Allo !

The campsite there had a rather worrying “Emergency Flood Escape Route” away from the massive Garonne. Gulp ! I’m putting myself off already.

canoe

Desperate to get away for an active break

15 Jan

cae-mawr-1

It’s that time of year. Post Christmas days when it hardly gets light. Dull, damp and dismal. Now into my third week of cold viruses. I think that I have had two in sequence. I wish they would sequence “dance off” to “Strictly”

Remember Jasper Carrot’s song, “When I get my moped back on the road I’m going to ride, ride, ride” ? Well, when I cast off these little weird bits of cellular misery, I am definitely heading off with caravan in tow to somewhere pleasant where good pub food abounds and decent walking is to be had. Likely to be Cornwall or possibly North Wales. Where would you go for your first camping break? Here’s 2 enticing pics:

new-zealand-vw-campingwild-camping

A nice place to eat. Not sure where it is. It just looks …… nice!

cave-dining

The UKcampsite website, as always, has some great suggestions and reviews  see   http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/

but I recently came across this website with campsites listed within on mile of a beach

see  http://beachcampsitesuk.co.uk/   

Like thousands of others , we are currently also trying to cut down and lose weight. I have to look good in my little page boy outfit for that forthcoming wedding. Don’t want to look like a “Cranky” ! Hence, decent length walks during the day to pay for a sensible pub meal or caravan home cooked meal at night. A decent DVD., feet up, heating on and get ready for the next day’s walking. Oh yeah !

Practice what you preach

9 Jan

3rd-gear

Braving the last of man flu symptoms, we took our Puss cat for his MOT test today. He was very nervous in his pet carrier and I slowly drove out of the village. The kids were all pouring out of school and the pavement heaving with eager young people, keen to get home to their broadband, game machines and so on.

So, bearing in mind my recent punishment for loss of focus (speeding in a 30 mph limit) I was using 3rd gear and keeping within the urban speed limit.

A very irate mum, driving a huge and expensive looking 4 x 4 came up behind me, blissfully unaware of the hordes of kids marching home through the rain. Flashing her  headlights made no difference and I stuck to 30mph. As we passed the secondary school, she swung off to the right, cutting the corner and screached to a halt to pick up her own kids!

 

 

 

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Perhaps she would drive more carefully if we put up more Ducks Crossing signs in addition to the one we already have. Kids? What do they matter…………………

A rare trip overseas

8 Jan

cape-cod-duniacape-cod-postcardcape-cod-canal-bike-path

Wherever else we go this year, this one’s a cert. Cape Cod , Massatchusetts  just south of Boston, on the eastern coast of the USA for my son’s wedding to a very pretty American lady!

I have already ridden a half hour’s bike trip alongside the Cape Cod canal using YouTube, my exercise bike and my laptop. I  am looking forward to the real thing! It should be a wonderful and memorable event. I love seafood, which abounds in Cape Cod. The wedding itself will be an introduction to American culture. With family from Irish and Italian stock, it’s going to be fun. We cannot wait.

After the wedding, the plan is now to possibly travel North to Canada, my deceased Father’s homeland, to Nova Scotia. My son in law is keen to hire an RV each to enjoy the peninsula and Islands of this lovely scenic region.

nova-scotia-canadanova-scotia-eastern-canada

My daughter did a fabulous job of 2016’s trip to Scotland and I am hoping that she will again rise to the task and organise 2017’s special trip overseas. An RV will cost around $1000 per week plus fuel etc. What a way to see the best that Nova Scotia has to offer. One of my former Teachers once said that it was the most beautiful place that he had ever seen. It cannot have changed much in all that time can it?

rv-rentaljpg  We were lucky enough to own a 24 ft Minnie Winnie when the kids were small and we ran our own business. Back then these monsters were cheap. 4, yes , 4 US Dollars to one pound sterling ! Have not seen that in a while !These big coachbuilts are easy to drive with light controls and automatic gearbox. very smooth, quiet and surprisingly swift. The V8 engine on ours sounded like a jet engine whirring away deep beneath the front seats. I must have posted before about only achieving 7 mpg though, in very windy, wintery conditions near Locherbie one November’s night whilst RAC Rally watching? Usually it would manage about 14 mpg. Not a big issue when paying North American fuel prices.

I would not be doing my Blog justice if we did not go ahead with this, now, would I?

Yogi Bear

“What’s in the Pic-a-Nic Basket ? Boo Boo”

Whose been a naughty boy then?

6 Jan

speed-detection   Today, I attended a “Speed Awareness Course” run by Staffordshire County Council.

Some time ago, I was driving along a local road, near the edge of town, which I drive almost daily. I always use my Sat Nav sited close to my face to watch my speed, monitor the speed limit (keep it all updated dude……) and check my speed as judged by the satellites. (Usually more accurate than your speedo, I am told.) My speedo seems to read around 2 mph slow at 70 mph.

I honestly, normally adhere rigidly to all speed limits. I am retired and usually don’t have to rush around and would hate to run a child over or hurt anyone. So , I stick to the speed limit. However, I lost focus on the way home from carrying out some house maintenance and was thinking about the next phases of the job (replacing an external staircase to a flat). I did not even see the Speed Camera, NO ! Get it right! The Safety Camera Van until it had picked up my speed at 37 mph. It’s a fair cop gov’., I’ll come quietly!

T’is only the 3 rd speeding offence in over 44 years of driving. On each of the previous two occasions, I had 3 points which were added and then removed from my licence after the prescribed 5 year (?) period.

westport-lake-visitor-centre So, today, still suffering from the final symptoms of a winter cold, I made my way, with plenty of time in hand to Westport Lake Visitor Centre in the Potteries. It’s well worth a look.

westport-lake-landscape    Instead of a £100 fine plus 3 points on my licence for doing 37 mph in a 30 mph limit, I decided to pay an £80 “fee” and attend the Speed Awareness Course offered in it’s place.

There were 20 people attending. One chap turned up beyond the lateness cutoff point and was sent away. Possibly with 3 points and option removed?

The course was punctually run and run well! For me and from the feedback I heard from the others, it was wortbwhile and a good alternative. Four hours of discussion and interesting, amusingly given and non-reprimanding, educational info. If this happens to you, I would urge you to consider the option seriously.

Has the course worked for me?  Yes. I am going to use 3 rd gear in 30 mph zones. I am going to use just my Sat Nav to moniitor the local speed limit and my speed and try to eliminate loss of focus and distraction.I have to stop flicking from the main speedo and the Sat Nav. Quiet, soothing mood music may help  me stay calmer too !

I have also returned “Stewie”, my radar detector, to his place on my dashboard. Honest, officer, it’s not actually in use……………..

To illustrate “Stewie’s” purpose:          A friend asks if my neighbours are honest. “They certainly are” I reply. “Then why the shotgun leaning against your log store?” asks the friend. ” That’s to keep ’em honest!”   says I.

First Posting on New Blog

3 Jan

gypsy-caravan-near-norton

Every cloud has a silver lining so they say. On my 4th or 5th Day of Man Flu and having had  all my friends and neighbours tearing me to shreds with comments to “Man Up !” and my wife’s cold is much worse than your’s and she’s still climbing Everest! This has enabled me to take time out from chopping logs and daily chores to initiate the new Blog.

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The above is shown in a rare moment of political correctness…………

My wife has always maintained that my Preoptic Nucleus was larger than normal. Something that I have always, rather proudly, suspected……………..

This Blog will continue to be updated with our travels but for those seeking new areas of interest please visit my new Blog , in all it’s unpolished infancy at

https://bowtopblog.wordpress.com/      catchy eh? LOL     Thanks!

Happy New Year to all

31 Dec

welcome-2017-image

Currently nursing the start of man flu and apologised for not attending tonight’s neighbours celebrations. A week of close proximity to my toddler grandaughter who had a shocker of a cold and as we all know, kids are not the most hygienic of small mammals. (Only joking if family reading this !). Anyway, I may have caught this virus from a Sainsbury or Aldi trolley handle…………. who knows! (Touch the handle, rub your eye, then you feel that you’re gonna die!)

Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year!  Below are a few photo memories of our travels in 2016 and a personal tribute to a dear friend who passed away on Boxing Day.

london-zoo-tiger       London Zoo.

elddis-pickup-3      Collecting the Elddy.

freedom-about-to-leave

The Microlite about to leave for the last time.

axe-edge-may-2016-1    Axe Edge, Peak District. polesden-lacey-1  Polesden Lacy. SE England.

img_1096    Solo near Newark. img_1107  Vulcan at Newark Air Museum.

We last saw a Vulcan Bomber when we visited the area around Newark for a 90th Birthday Celebration for Her Majesty, the Queen Elizabeth.

vulcan-bomber   A very dear friend , Alan Mawson, moved to Australia to be with his family in the sunshine for his twilight years. We met more than 6 years ago when I was restoring our cottage in the village and he would stroll past to get his newspaper. He disrupted my work for quite a while as we can both talk for hours.!  In his National Service days, Alan was one of a relatively small team working as ground crew on the secretive Vulcan Bomber fleet.

As we got to know each other, it was obvious that he had enjoyed a wonderful family life filled with song birds, keeping chickens and using his financial skills to good effect. But most of all, he was a cheeky rascal of a man. We shared many, boyish, non-PC jokes standing looking over the village pond (which he had a hand in saving from the idiot , past , local politicians decades ago)

As his dementia slowly took hold, we would still share a small whisky together , laughing at his stories of daring do in the RAF. I bought him a die-cast Vulcan to take with him when he emigrated to Australia. A massive, brave move at that time of life. Everyone in the village missed him.

Just a day or so ago, we got the horrid news from his daughter that he had passed away on Boxing Day.

The weather in Brisbane had suited him and extended his quality of life tremendously.

Alan Mawson. Rest in peace.

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Love to Alwyn and all the family. xx