High on a hill

At last we were travelling again after a long lay off. The Malvern Hills in Worcestershire being our weekend destination.

Campsites that are open this time of year are few and far between, so we opted for the Camping and Caravan Club site at Blackmore.

We arrived on the Friday afternoon and settled in. Club sites can be a little regimented, but this one has a lot of grass pitches that make it seem more natural. Ruby was treated to a good walk on the campsite dog walk and we spent the afternoon reading and listening to the radio then settled down for a quiet night in the campervan. The meatballs made an appearance for our evening meal along with my customary Bacardi & coke.

I know it seems like we eat nothing but meatballs in a homemade tomato sauce, but we only have them on our first camping night because it is a easy meal that can be prepared at home to make life easy. There can be weeks or months between our trips, so it was 2 months ago when we last dined on meatballs.

Saturday morning started slowly with a full English breakfast then we set off to Great Malvern and parked in Waitrose to take advantage of 2 hours free car parking. After a wander around the town taking in the farmers market we returned to Waitrose and purchased goodies for our evening meal.

p1120795Farmers Market Great Malvern

 

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The Extreme Knitter having a meaningful  discussion with some geezer called Elgar who wrote a few tunes

We drove towards British Camp situated at the southern end of the Malvern Hills where we had sandwiches for lunch whilst parked in the visitors car park.

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Suitably fuelled we tackled the long steep pathways up to British Camp that are the remaining earthworks of an Iron Age fort built about the 2nd Century BC.

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Getting nearer to the top of British Camp

The walks around Malvern are hilly and it had an impact on us all. The three of us had chicken for the evening meal and promptly collapsed for the night totally shattered.

Sunday morning and we were leaving the campsite heading for home. We decided to take the pretty way home firstly calling into Upton on Severn.

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The Dog poo Fairy

These vintage wreckers have stood for sometime at this garage in Upton.

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Pershore was our final stop off before we finally headed home.

 

 

Adrenaline Knitters

Today was the extreme knitter’s birthday and for a short period of time I have become her toy boy again.

In amongst her presents this year was a set of Cath Kidson racing knitting needles. Sleek, colour coded, lightweight anodised aluminium needles built for the more demanding speed knitter.

These are the equivalent of go faster stripes on the family saloon car.

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When the extreme knitter gets into a comfortable knitting rhythm the needles become a flailing blur and the rapid clickity click is no more than white noise.

Life can be tiring living with an adrenaline seeking knitter.

 

I hear the sound of breaking glass

Don’t you hate that heart wrenching moment when you hear the crack of breaking glass and the thought of an expensive repair?

I bent down to pick something up off the floor and my phone slipped out of my shirt pocket onto the hard tiled floor. It dropped about half a metre and landed screen down on a hard tiled floor. The cracking sound made me wince.

The result of the fall

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Luckily because of my work, my phone is protected by a silicone skin and has a tempered glass screen protector. I carefully removed the screen protector to reveal an unbroken phone screen

 

The relief

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The tempered glass screen protector cracked.

This screen saver cost £2.99  from e bay and has saved me from having to replace my phone.

With the cost of phones and tablets they are worth fitting and they don’t affect the touch operation of the screen.

As you can see. Its been an uneventful month, work and commitments stopping us getting away.

Puffin past her MOT test without any advisories. We are road taxed and have renewed the insurance, so we are legal and ready to travel.

I did mange to successfully reseal the leaking roof vent, but in all the excitement I forgot to take loads of photos.

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The hole in the roof after I had cleaned the old sealant away.

I took Puffin to the local weighbridge and she weighs in at a lightweight 2150 kg which gives us a useful 500kg payload allowance.

I can highly recommend anyone in the Warwickshire/Worcestershire area to use the Public weighbridge at Simon & Deans Ltd in Brickyard Lane, Studley B80 7EE. cost £3.50

Bath Christmas Market

When we bought our campervan we said that we would try to never visit the same place twice, so that we would always find new horizons.

Here we are travelling to Bath Christmas market again and using the same campsite for the third time. So much for our earlier statement.

We last visited Bath Christmas market in 2014. We didn’t go last year as we were cabin bound because the extreme knitter had a procedure on her foot.

We’ve been determined to make use of puffin all year round, so decided to book a pitch at Bath Marina Campsite to coincide with the Christmas market. By pure luck I phoned the site on the 29th September 2016 and managed to book the last pitch available. The site is so popular because of its close location opposite the Newbridge Park & Ride.

The lady I spoke to said she was taking booking for December 2017.

We set off on Friday lunchtime arriving at the campsite mid afternoon and spent the rest of the day on the campsite. In the evening we read, knitted and of course the meatballs in a homemade tomato sauce with pasta made an appearance for supper and as I wasn’t driving for the next few days and purely to get into the Christmas spirit the Bacardi made an appearance.

The site has installed free Wifi since our last visit and it gave a strong signal right across the site.

With the dark December nights upon us we settled down to a relaxing evening in Puffin with the television. Each pitch on the site has a TV aerial socket and the dark night makes you want to close the curtains and snuggle down. The battery operated Christmas lights were switched on to create the scene.

This was another dog less trip as it was going to be all shopping, so yet again Ruby was handed over to our feral daughter for a couple of days.

We woke up late on the Saturday morning and after a full English breakfast we walked over the road to the Newbridge Park & Ride to catch the bus into Bath city centre

The Park & Ride has been totally refurbished since our last visit, with toilets and a rental bicycle scheme, but it still had height restriction barriers, so parking a camper or motor home there wasn’t allowed.

It cost me £3 for the return 2 mile trip into the city, but the Extreme knitter travelled free using her bus pass for the first time. We arrived at Westgate Buildings at lunchtime.

As on previous visits to Bath we needed to pace our selves or we wouldn’t be able to last the day. The Christmas market opens at 10.00am, but it is best experienced in the dark to see it fully lit up in the nightime.

We wandered around, taking in the sights and architecture. We needed a late lunch, so headed for the a little Deli/coffee shop we had visited on our last trip.

As the darkness set in we headed for the market situated around the Abbey. It seemed larger than previous visits taking up more side streets. It is mainly local crafts and businesses selling a wide variety of Christmas goodies and speciality foods.

We carried on shopping and sightseeing until we could take no more. The day was only slightly marred by the rain showers

Totally exhausted we caught the 5.30pm bus back to the Park and Ride and then walked to the campsite (I’m glad I took a torch) I’m getting to old for these mammoth retail experiences. We settled in for a relaxing evening in Puffin, but

that was short lived as I noticed a drip of water from the roof light.

Closer inspection showed that the there was a slight leak through the seal. No problem I thought, I’ll just clean it up and put gaffer tape around the edge as a temporary solution.

Every campervan over 20 years old carries a toolbox (I think it’s the law). Open the toolbox and no gaffer tape, so I bodged up a ropey seal with insulating tape.

It looks like I’ll have to remove the roof light and reseal the whole frame. After twenty years the original sealing lasted quite well all things considered.

Sunday morning and we were due to leave the campsite. We had bacon baps for breakfast and we leisurely packed everything away.

After a tiring, but totally enjoyable three days we made our way home.

 

Well I’ll be a bananas uncle

I’m sharing this recipe from a blog that I follow, so all credit to them.

https://familyoffthemap.com/2016/10/31/plantains-and-sausage/

When I read their post I had never heard of Plantains, so my curiosity got the better of me. I started searching the UK for them in shops and supermarkets, but the only ones I could find were sold on line with a hefty price tag.

I had all but given up of ever tasting this elusive vegetable/fruit when by chance we visited the local Morrison’s store in Redditch and there they were a great big pile of the banana look a likes, green as green could be. Now, you know I like to push the boat out sometimes, so without any thought of cost I purchased two Plantains for the princely sum of 84 pence. I do like living on the edge.

It now appears that everyone I speak to has heard of Plantains, so it seems it was just me that was off sick from school when that little nugget of information was given out

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/plantain

The plantains were green and my research told me that they are better left until they ripen; in fact they would be just right when turning yellow / black.

I panicked a little because one was ripening faster than the other.

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One plantain was ready, ripening after two weeks sitting on the window ledge

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I cuts some chicken breasts  into thin strips.

I fried the plantains in a little vegetable oil, the pineapple chunks were added to the mix a little later. The strips of chicken were put in the pan and everything browned off nicely.

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The plantains gained a caramelised coating and the results were delicious.

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The combination of the individual ingredients complimented each other and the plantains didn’t taste like banana, more of a sweet potato type of thing.

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One plantain left ripening. I might try this again, but with some smokey bacon bits added.

The pressures on

We use a large 8 litre capacity pressure cooker at home that is great for large quanities of stew or soup to freeze. Large meat joints are so succulent when cooked this way. 8 litres is big and also a bit of a hassle when you only want to cook a small amount.

We started looking at small pressure cookers that would serve as a useful everyday size for the kitchen at home and double up as a utensil for the campervan.

The advantages of using a pressure cooker are low running cost with a vast reduction in the gas used and the food retains its flavour in the enclosed pot as it is steamed rather that boiled.

Research highlighted the Indian manufactured Hawkins range and I started to look for a 2 litre capacity Hawkins original cooker as made by the company since 1959.

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Luckily, the guys from the Betty Bus Blog told me about their Hawkins Futura model and that’s what I purchased.

https://bettybus.wordpress.com/

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http://www.hawkinscookers.com/1.1.8.hawkinsSS.asp

Although a 3 litre would have been a good size for home use unfortunately it wouldn’t fit in the campervan.

The quality is exceptional, with its hard anodised finish and clever mounting of the pressure weight. It’s flowing modern design has earned it the accolade of being the only pressure cooker in the world to have been displayed by The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

We use it on a daily basis at home as it’s ideal for two people, so it will be ideal for our campervan trips.

Monnow Bridge

Sunday lunchtime saw us headed off down the M50, destination Monmouth.

We were trying out a small site beside the River Monnow in the town.

The entrance to Monnow Bridge caravan site is odd because it’s between two houses and would be quite tight for caravans and larger motor homes.

The appeal of this site is its location, being very close to the town centre. After parking up on the camp site we walked the short distance to Monmouth town centre via the Monnow Bridge with its Gate house dating back to the 14th century.

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As we wandered around the town in the late afternoon with most of the shops shut the extreme knitter was making mental notes of the shops she wanted to visit the following day. The days are short and darkness started to fall, so we walked the short distance back to the campsite. The campervan was wrapped up for the evening with its insulating blinds on the windows and because we had an electric hook-up we were able fire up the fan heater and save on our gas supply.

Of course we ate our traditional first night meal of meatballs in a tomato sauce and pasta with a chunk of crusty bread. A small Bacardi and coke helped keep the chilly evening at bay

The outside temperature dropped, but we had a cosy night in the camper.

Our morning started with a full English breakfast. Even though we were in Wales the ingredients had been purchased in England.

Then we hit Monmouth’s main street.

Ruby and I stood outside various shops waiting patiently for the E knitter to appear with her spoils.

Eventually as the day progressed we needed to warm up and have some food. We found the White Swan Café in a small courtyard that welcomed dogs, so in we went. We had Tuna sandwiches with a pot of tea while ruby sat quietly under the table. It always seems odd being able to take our dog into a cafe when most places ban them

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I found some ordnance survey maps in a charity shop for a pound each, so I bought some Scottish ones to add to my collection.

Amazingly the Extreme knitter didn’t any wool.

After another toasty night in the campervan and a bacon sandwich for breakfast the next day, we drove home discussing where to go for our next trip away.