Archive | October, 2016

What draws you back to a favourite place?

30 Oct

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Campervan cleaned today. First time in weeks. Wiped even the bottom of the doors , door openings and nooks and crannies around the fuel filler and so on. Restored my love of my little beauty and got me thinking, “where next?”

My wife and I often speak about “being drawn” back to our favourite places. We don’t always know why and we do not really need to know the reasoning.

(Sorry about the famous photographed finger above. David Bailey?????  I think not!)

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Just for starters, that’s an award winning pic of Newlyn Harbour, Cornwall by Richard Laudy from Surrey, please visit    https://www.corncott.com/blog/we-have-a-winner/

Then a staggering view on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. The still waters of the moat at Beaumaris Castle, Anglesey.

Obviously, we do take into account the time required and the cost of a visit but what a wonderful dilemma.

One things for certain. It will not be long before we get to use the campervan again. You see, we are “drawn”

The World is such a beautiful place.

 

A Deja Vu Day out.

29 Oct

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With an unusual, misty start to the day, we decided on a day trip to Bygone Times at Eccleston near Chorley. It is an antique emporium. On the way we decided to head for the National Trust property, Rufford Old Hall which is just 15 minutes away in Liverpool postcode zone.

Now, I clearly remember posting just such a trip before and I have been concerned , of late, about repeating myself as we “cycle” through the seasons, year by year. Anyway for the time being, I shall continue with the Blog and try to re-invent and get more creative with our visit reports.Variety is the spice of life as they say.

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Rufford Old Hall was the family home of one Lord Hesketh who in 1972 stumped up the cash to start a Formula 3 race team. Later, James Hunt joined the fray and this charismatic chap became houshold name. The Lady in the middle is Suzy Miller or “Hotty” as James called her.

James was a bit of a lad. he smoked, drank and enjoyed the company of young ladies. I think that it was the Daily Mail that printed a story of his involvement with more than 3o British Airways stewardesses. Aided and abetted by one Mr Barry Sheen, allegedly…………… Now that is a lot to think about whilst eating your Lancashire Rarebit.

lancashire-rarebit  Made with local ale and cheese , ’tis a tasty toasty morsel with salad and apple chutney!

ormskirk-lambing-chairIn the entrance hall at Rufford, there is an old chair on sledge type runners. Like this one above, apart from the legs and it had a drawer under the seat to keep new lambs warm and away from the “werewolf” of Ormskirk……… I made that bit up about the werewolf.  BUT, at Bygone Times there was a replica chair  with drawer but on rockers. This was termed a rocking chair with “Bible” drawer. So, make of this, what you will. The rocker was very comfy indeed despite the hard wooden material. The angles of the frame and the ergonomics were very good indeed. Yours for £275……….

bygone-times-eccleston  After a thorough look around we ony bought a couple of candles for the cellar bar and two knitting patterns for gifts for our grandaughter. It was great fun, as ever. On the way home we had a 14 mile stretch of 50 mph limit in roadworks on the M6 so I checked out fuel consumption which has been running at 43mpg overall and got over 60 mpg at an average of 45 mph. Which was nice.

I recently fitted new wiper blades and refilled the Gaslow  cylinder with about 6 litres of LPG from Calor at less than £4.00p. That’s cheap in my book. All ready for cold days out now.

How quick is your van? It’s Wales Rally GB time.

29 Oct

rally-van-mitsubishirally-van-mercedesrally-van-fiat-panda  As it will always be known to me, with it’s memories of the fabulous, now defunct, Group B rallycars, it’s “RAC Rally time”.

We all know about “white van man” but you can now buy uprated “sporty”versions of many vans. Transit, VW and Vauxhall all have versions for the more affluent Tradesmen. All the better to get to the breakfast cafe that much quicker.

With this year’s Wales Rally GB firmly underway, I did a search for Rally/Race Vans and a surprisingly high number of tempting examples emerged from the depths of Google.

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With the “new” Avon tyres fitted and the damping naturally balanced by the extra weight of the campervan conversion, our Nevada handles surprisingly well. Despite it’s somewhat narrow stance and the live rear axle, it is actually fairly easy to drive with vigour. I am sure that the 110ps engine and 6 speed box help. My brother’s work van has also been known to be tested out on the winding roads of the Staffordshire/Leek moorlands. The brakes seem well up to the job too, but like everyone else with these “recently” introduced asbestos free pads, the build up of metallic black dust on the front alloys can be rapid. An initial pre-wax before fitting can help enormously in this respect, making cleaning far easier. Wash wax does seem to keep the protection topped up.

race-rally-van-rebelvanrace-van-vwkampa awning 2  Though, I have to say that this, more restful type of behaviour ( peaceful camping) is much more advisable…….. I have just picked up my first speeding offence in decades. Got done at 37mph in a 30mph zone, I am ashamed to say. It was in a stretch of open rural road but that’s no excuse.  Glad I never splashed out on that massive enhanced intercooler………………..

(On a more serious note. Heavy vans can get out of hand in a big way. You would not want to hurt anyone, would you? Please drive safely.)

Breaking News from Nissan and encouragement to Back Britain

27 Oct

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One of my favourite car maufacturers, Nissan, has announced massive investment in the Sunderland plant to build the X-Trail and Qashqai there in the very near future. One report also said that the Juke will be built there (?) These cars are excellent in reliability, quality of finish and appeal. They can compete, with ease, in the Global market.

Just look at the 2017 Qashqai  above and the X-Trail interior. If you are fortunate enough to be able to buy a new car, when they are released, please consider a British built vehicle in your choices.

I am old enough to remember the “I’m Backing Britain Campaign” in 1968. It should be brought back right now. But this time, let’s make the Tee shirts in the U.K., and NOT in Portugal like they were back then ! The 1968 campaign is now viewed as a failure but politics back then were dominated by warring between management, unions and government.Robert Maxwell also tried to take over the campaign for his own ends. We can move forward and vote with our wallets. We have wonderful food from all over the U.K., and campervan converters in almost every City and Town.The list is endless.

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I recently urged readers of the Blog  to buy British and support the local economy whenever possible. I am now, without apology, again calling on readers to do this and to spread the word to friends and neighbours.

I worked with a large number of people from the North East of England in Coal Mining in the Western Area of the then National Coal Board. Almost without exception, they were hard working and conscientious. Nissan would NOT have committed to re-investment if the plant there was not smack bang up to Global standards in quality and performance. It is a feather in the cap of the people of the North East and they should be applauded.We should also thank Nissan for this vote of confidence.

I know that my NV200 was made in Spain and the engine is from Renault, but that was before the Brexit vote. Now is the time to review what we buy and consider the future for the U.K., Britain and our individual Nations. Lets get those tractors busy, the factories buzzing and workers working. Stuff the bureaucrats and the self serving attitudes.

(Note. The Ford Transit van used to be made in Southampton. Manufacture was moved with European Grants (!) to Turkey when it’s entry into the E.U. was being considered. Otherwise , I could have had a Transit based camper van made by Drivelodge in Yorkshire, with pride.)

I for one would love to see a replacement NV200 made in the U.K., perhaps a second campaign………..

An all electric concept eNV200 Office from Nissan and questions on Whisky answered.

27 Oct

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Joining the all electric camper van , see above, Nissan have introduced the concept Workspace  mobile office on the eNV200 .

“Andy” sent in the link    http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2016/10/nissans-pimped-up-all-electric-office-van-has-everything-but-a-toilet/

With wi-fi, computer and office facilities, I suppose that iy would suit a journalist or anyone conducting business in various locations. Auctioneers, promotional sales and a myriad of others. Certainly eye catching and novel.

People are coming out with new concepts and brands all the time. For example, David Beckham has his own Whiskey. Martin , frequent Scottish correspondent, gave me some superb answers to questions about  Scotch Whisky, prompted by our recent trip.

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I sat, sipping a wee dram of Talisker single malt and being very tight with money (LOL) I began thinking about the then, much cheaper Whisky’s that my late father loved. His favourite was a budget brand, Claymore. I once bought a locally recommended bottle of Cameron Brig, in Fife whilst staying at the Crusoe Hotel. It was from the local corner shop and was then around only a tenner. About £20 odd now. A light, Fife “brew”. A single Grain , highish volume product. It was similar to Claymore and went down well, vanishing quickly at one of dad’s notorious and celebrated BBQs! So, I contacted Martin, asking whether there was any protocol over single Grain whisky and/or budget brands. Having once embarrassed myself by admitting I liked FRIED  rounds of Haggis!  Here is his response (lightly edited for posting)

“George Rainbird, world famous wine critic was asked what is the nicest wine in the world at a top notch wine event….he said…. the one that you enjoy drinkin, causin great embarrassment to the good and the great.

When you consider people like David Beckham have now brought out their own brand whiskey. Whatever it is labelled , what you like is the best…. Libby’s uncle, a posh 85 year old man lives in the flats at the Golf course in Scotland, next to us drinks Irish Jamiesons and says sometimes people look at him at the Clubhouse. Drinkin that…..!!!! He says, “ Martin, its the Lords water and Grain combined, that makes a dram fit for a King ? or a pauper….. beauty is in your own pallet…. sip, ingest, quaff and breath in the Earth’s bounty!!!!”

I’m a Chardonnay man myself and not about to apologise…. sometimes I wonder where I would be had I not met it….. it ALL came from the soil…… some like peat, some like Heather, some like ???….. god bless us all Duncan…… ?”

I loved this answer!  Here’s a tribute to a Chardonnay drinking Scot:

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Perhaps an eNV200 Workspace would be too extravagant just for Blog writing?   CHEERS !

 

The Autumn sun continues to linger.

26 Oct

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The Kampa has been stood outside, unwashed for about 4 weeks now, I am ashamed to say. It is as grubby as the chimney sweep who called this morning to give the log burner a wire brush and “Dettol” procedure. His family have been sweeping chimneys for over a century! He did a great job but we didn’t get a single , Dick Van Dyke song from Mary Poppins. Just a clean, hassle free job done and peace of mind.

We headed for Market Drayton to buy some car wash and groceries and then  a  Market day carvery at the Clive and Coffyn. That reminded me of Clive of India, who it seems was a bit of a naughty lad who lived in Market Drayton in the 1700s. He was linked with Powys Castle near Welshpool and the weather was sooooooo good, we decided to pop over for another look around whilst the Indian Summer prevailed. He was , after all , “Clive of India.” He did seem to “commandeer” a large collection of valuables from India at the time……..

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Here are today’s pictures. The car park was packed solid and there were a few motorhomes in attendance. Also half term and some lovely kids were playing hide and seek on the main terraces. It was fun just listening to them calling the old familiar shouts and counting down before the seeking began.”One hundred! Coming, ready or not!”

We were a little late getting there, so we made sure we entered the museum before the 3.30pm deadline.There was a large Indian musket, so big, it would be like shouldering a Chieftain Tank barrel and pulling the trigger. 

We still managed to hear a bit of a gruesome talk by Lady dressed in WW I nurse’s outfit. After six week’s training, 18 hour days in field hospitals with pretty basic kit became the norm. I wonder how many found sweethearts amongst the chaos and how many got back to Blighty for a wedding. Chilling, even after 100 years.

Welshpool seemed to be a fine small town. Old style, shops and a butchers selling local Welsh lamb. There does seem to be a real sense of Welsh pride, just over Offa’s dyke. I admire that. We saw it in Scotland too. Skye folk are proud of Skye. Personally I would like to see a bit more English pride too, even if I am part Canadian………   LOL

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The childrens’ chanting of decades old outdoor games, got me thinking of an old saying. “Red and Green, seldom seen, only on a fool !”   But here above, these colours sit together so very well on these Ancient walls of Powys Castle. Not Daft at all.   I hope you agree.

Whilst I am rambling on , a bit, in Scotland we also saw a description of the word “Daft”. In old Scots parlance, apparently it means “unreasonably happy.” Which would mean that we were “Daft” in Scotland for a full 14 days!

Bugger ! Should have called my earlier posts, “Five go Daft in Scotland.”

Autumn planning for a big trip in the Nevada Campervan.

24 Oct

nc500-map       The NC 500 is a 516 miles scenic route around the North Coast of Scotland, starting at Inverness Castle.

Inverness Castle is a not insignificant 404 miles from Chateau Dinkum and Google suggests just under 7 hours drive time plus any stops. Driving all the way in one go with just three planned comfort breaks would be a realistic 9 hours , say. Personally, I would break the trip up to the start by taking an over night stop at about the halfway mark.

tob-kampa-side-on   Pistonheads actually have an itinerary to complete the NC500, preferably by fast, sharp handling car, in 24 hours. Not sure how that equates to safe driving on , often, single track roads with passing places. For me, by campervan, at present, I think that a loosely timed tour would be more in keeping. This would allow time to pull over and admire the scenery. Having recently returned from Skye, there is more than enough to see.

drone-delivery   I got quite excited this morning when my NC500 club pack arrived. It didn’t arrive by drone, like this Australian trial delivery, but it came with a super route map, a drive on the left windscreen reminder sticker for the Europian and other travellers and an NC500 Club sticker for the campervan. The map includes campsites, fuel stops, distilleries and other vital information. Membership, for one year costs £15 and allows access to the discussion board on the NC500 website plus discount offers on a forthcoming variety of purchases.

tigga-pretending-to-be-stuck  In anticipation of a lengthy time away, we would travel solo with the campervan, leaving the caravan at home. We would take puss cat with us and he is completing training with his safety harness and cage for long distance travel. This way, there is no pressure to complete the entire trip in a given time. If it takes 10 days, then so be it. The whole purpose is to enjoy the essence of Scotland. So, there is loads to digest even before we can put any detail plan together.

Scotland is ideal for campervans. The NC500 beckons harder. Just make sure that your pop top is weatherproof. Perhaps even take tie down ground screws in case of very high winds , especially in Winter, although we would probably try to avoid the worst weather, perhaps outside the midge season? I will post more as planning progresses. If you have done the NC500 or part of it, or have any recommendations or must see places, then please comment. Thank you !

 

 

More pictures taken on Skye and finally, Glencoe

22 Oct

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Not visited in our campervan, but posted to show what can be seen in Scotland. Still on Skye, we got to Glen Brittle early in the morning. At the top of the car park, which is used to access the Fairy Pools and the mountains beyond, a VW stealth campervan was coming to life. We could see a mattress inside. Not photographed, to retain our fellow campers’ privacy.

With toddler in her rucksack carrier, we made the walk across the Glen to reach the wonderful Fairy Pools. A young man from Glasgow was taking video with a £30 odd Drone which at 720p quality had pleased him with it’s results. He landed it very skillfully on a small rock jutting out alongside one of the waterfalls. I want one!

Later, coming back down from the lower slopes, we could not believe our eyes. A young Lady had stripped to a  see through, chiffon dress and wearing only her pants underneath, was climbing, barefoot across the rock wall of the stream below , obviously for “glamour” photographs from a very professional looking telephoto equipped cameraman. Wow ! a Real “Fairy” at Fairy Pools. With the good weather continuing and now this, I do lead a charmed life………..  She did slip and fall, feet first into the shallow , cold water at one point, revealing far more than intended when her skimpy dress caught on the rocks. Here she is

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Next , we visited Dunvegan Castle and then the Coral Beach. Also on Skye.

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coral-beach-skye-from-abovecoral-beach-from-above-skyecoral-beach-on-skye  A fairly long walk in the sun had the layers coming off. The very light coloured beach contrasted hugely from the volcanic darkness of the pebbles and sand at Talisker beach. The currents must be just right to deposit this “coral” debris just here.

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Another day, we made our way to Quiraing for a ramble to this awesome mountain walk. Historically it is said that the “Table” , on the right above, was used to hide livestock from Viking invaders. Goodness knows how they got highland cattle up there! Some mountain bikers appear to also use the main path. I only got partway. The shear drops were just too much for my fragile mentality and, embarrassingly, I had to return to the car for an early bath. Disgraced rugby player fashion. (I do have genuine reason for being fearful, at heights, having worked at 1000 feet , in harness as a young man but losing what little nerve I then had in horrendous fashion.)

Finally on Skye, apart from several , local walks around Portree we went on a wildlife boat trip and saw Sea Eagles, Seals and glorious marine scenery. Portree harbour has great restaurants too, with quality local fish directly off the boats.

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portree-lifeboat  Sadly, our time on Skye was running out and reluctantly we made our way back to Armadale for the ferry to Mallaig and then onwards to Glencoe for another overnighter before Glasgow and the train South.

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We saw the first light rain in a fortnight as we left Glencoe for Glasgow. There were several , mostly German, adventure trail bikes around and with my Dachsund style legs, I looked at these tall in the saddle “magic carpets” with envy. How do you go on if you drop one on oneself in a remote ford? How would you pick it up? LOL.

If you go to Skye (and you should!) dont miss the Stein Inn, Skyeskins and Skye beers, especially Skye Black.

 

Stealth camping or Free Camping using motor vehicle in Scotland

18 Oct

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Please Note: These pics just show vans, camper vans and motorhomes we spotted whilst in Scotland. I am NOT implying that any of those shown were involved in any “stealth” or free camping activities. If one of these is yours and you want the picture removed, just let me know via the comments option below.

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We did witness several “camping vehicles” obviously in use as overnight stopovers in locations including Glen Brittle (Fairy Pools carpark) , the headland below the Clan Mcleod tribute land at Portree and on laybyes throughout the Isle of Skye. Vehicles ranged from totally unmarked vans, through partially converted campervans, of various base vehicles, to Motorhomes of all ages and values. One was certainly in the £50k to £60k bracket. NONE of those seen are shown here. Some were almost literally next door to official campsites. We saw no anti-social activities , litter or infringement of the Land Access Laws.

see  https://wildaboutscotland.com/2014/11/30/wild-camping-in-scotland-camper-vans-and-motorhomes/

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In my opinion, wild camping is not about money, although some must enjoy the campsite fee savings, which can be significant. When you have a self contained support unit , (your “camper”) why tie yourself to convention or the “grid”. Solar power is frequently seen in use now. I find nothing wrong with wild camping as long as you affect nobody else. Stick to the guide lines , aimed at non vehicular land access and yu should be unlucky to attract attention.

I have joined the NC500 “club” with a view to making the full tour of the Route when possible.

The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile scenic route around the north coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness Castle

Although there are official camping sites available , there are significant gaps in the route where wild camping could be the most practical option and I would not rule it out. Our NV200 is fully 12v with a long self sufficient period between elctrical hook up. We have LPG on board for several days heating and cooking , even in very cold weather. We can fill up with LPG at many garages.

for more about the NC500 route see   http://www.northcoast500.com/

All comments welcomed below. I have heard from lots of self converters. Please use the Blog to offer your views. Thanks.

Ferry to Armadale, Skye .Then Portree. Home for 8 nights.

18 Oct

seafield-hse-skyeseafield-house-portree-from-loch

We had arrived in Armadale on the 4pm Ferry from Mallaig. The sky on Skye was cloudless. Immediately, we were struck by the awesome natural beauty all around us. The drive to Portree gave a tantalising taste of things to come. We passed an isolated pub on the main road. (Isolated was to take on a new meaning as the week progressed!)

Opposite the pub, in view of the Black Cuillin Range, was a campsite where motorhomes and a few caravans were pitched in ideallic scenery.

PIC OF THE DAY.   Cuillin hills, Skye.   June 2007.  Pic by Donna Murray.

Our new home for the week ahead, Seafield House, Portree was found fairly quickly at the termination of a lane leading down to the very edge of the sea at Portree. This massive house, sleeps ten , has three bathrooms and oodles of character. We did a quick explore of all the rooms, like children at Christmas, then nipped out to buy logs from the local garage. We did not need the warmth. It was just a decorative flickering flame in the family sized lounge.

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Next morning, energised by the surroundings, we strolled into Portree town where we stocked up with local produce, wherever possible, then explored the place on foot. We could see  Seafield House from the area around the two youth hostels. You cannot miss them, they are brightly painted and compete with each other for attention. One was being repainted, obviously due to the weather being so kind, dry, sunny and warm. After a lunch back at the house, we headed across to Talisker Beach and hopefully the distillery if we had time.

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The one mile walk from where we had to park at the junction of two farm tracks, quickly turned from rural to marine environment. We were greeted at the car park by noisy cattle and a friendly, stocky , black cat. He seemed to have quite a bit of feral cat in his background but was calm and gentle enough to be fussed by our toddler! Cattle gave way to sheep, then rabbits and playful crows and unidentified birds of prey. This place is a must visit destination. Emotionally stirring and too beautiful to describe here.

There is at least one waterfall from those headland cliffs seen above. They fall directly into the sea. The beach has a dark volcanic element to it with a ridge of pebbles running down into the greyish sands to the water.

talisker-beach-pebbles           Somewhat reluctantly , we made the slight climb back through the farm buildings, watching the rabbits avoiding the hawks but obviously enjoying the warm sun. Back in the car we skirted around the curious cows and drove back to Portree. The Loch at Talisker, yet again, shocked with it’s fresh beauty and tranquility. Everywhere we looked, we had new vistas to gasp at. We took so many photographs, I even learned to hide my finger from the lens! The distillery had to wait for another day.

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Talisker Distillery makes, unsurprisingly, Talisker Malt Whiskies. Skye’s Whiskies. One is a hefty 57 ABV. We could not wait to take the tour as the timing clashed with our toddler’s regime. Small children are not allowed in the industrial areas either. We had a good look around the display area and I bought a bottle of  “Port Ruighe”. A single malt, finished in Port Casks, this beefy 45.8% example lacks the burnt match edge of other Taliskers. (Subsequently tasted at home, it is a definite “keeper” for special friends and occasions.” Recommended.”) We now had six different malts for my chums to try out. They had better remember my next birthday!

Click on the pics above for better closeups. Two lovely VWs adorned the car park. Who said that the scenery could not be improved?

In the distance, you will find an adventure camper , later obscured when we left by a modern motorhome. The clouds were only temporary.