About Escape Route

Engineer, Plays the Ukulele badly,

North Devon

Every now and then the Extreme knitter yearns to be beside the seaside. To pacify her salty sea dog desire, we travelled south towards the North Devon coast taking the long detour on the A361 to avoid the notorious Porlock hill situated west of Minehead.

A road famed for destroying gearboxes, burning clutches and boiling radiators on the way up. Overheating the brakes on the way down.

We stayed at the Camping and Caravan Club camp site at Lynton. With our age concession it cost us £16 per night for a pitch with electric hook up, awning and dog. It was a bargain compared to the site I was looking at just down the road that wanted £35 per night for the same facilities. The site was an oasis in the middle of nowhere with excellent facilities and friendly site managers. During our stay they chatted to campers around the site and were busy with the site up keep.

 

Monday. The sun was shining as we headed down to Lynmouth and after spending what seemed an age searching for a parking spot we were able wander along the quayside to the Lynmouth Cliff railway. The world’s highest & steepest fully water powered cliff railway transported us up to the town of Lynton. Lynton just happened to have a wool shop (I don’t know how she finds them)

http://www.cliffrailwaylynton.co.uk/history/

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The day was turning into a rail extravaganza as I pulled into the Woody Bay train station. The Lynton – Barnstable Railway runs steam engines along a one mile stretch of narrow gauge track to Killington Lane

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http://www.lynton-rail.co.uk/page/visitor-information

 

Tuesday, it rained and rained, so we set off for drive around north Devon. First port of call was the Atlantic village shopping centre near Biddeford as it had a roof, but we hadn’t planned for the exclusions of dogs. Ruby and I stopped in the campervan whilst the E/Knitter braved the shops.

We were gutted that we missed out on a walk around the shops and were forced to take a nap. The E/Knitter woke us up on her return to tell us about all the bargains she had bought. Ruby and I watched bleary eyed as she modelled various tops and items of clothing.

We left the shopping centre and drove north towards Ilfracombe. It was raining when we rolled into the near empty Quay side car park. We only stayed a short time then returned to the campsite. We had seen a lot of Devon through the campervan windows, but decided that Ilfracombe needed to be seen on a dry day.

 

Wednesday, The rain had cleared and the sun was trying to break through the clouds. We were breaking camp to return home, but as the morning started to warm up we decided to pack and then go back to revisit Ilfracombe in the sunshine. The Quay side car park was certainly busier than yesterday. We found a spot by Verity, the intriguing statue by Damien Hirst. It’s large, highly detailed and a bit of a jaw dropper.

http://www.damienhirst.com/verity

Verity on Tuesday in the rain

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Verity on Wednesday in the sunshine

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We hadn’t had any breakfast, so we had an early lunch in a restaurant that allowed dogs in. (it was noticeable the amount of eating establishments in Devon that allowed dogs).

Fish and chips always taste better when eaten near the sea.

After wandering around Ilfracombe for a couple of hours time was getting on and unfortunately we needed to make tracks towards home. We were driving up the M5 motorway and  getting peckish, so we pulled into a Subway sandwich bar, bought a sub and headed of towards Weston Super mare.

The promenade was empty, so we parked up on the sea front and ate our Subway evening meal. The calories needed to be burnt off and a walk up the prom to the town helped reduce them.

Weston humour

bare grills

As usual Ruby and I sat on a bench outside Marks and Spencer waiting while the E/Knitter searched for more bargains. I tend to meet a varied cross section of people when I’m hanging around with Ruby. Complete strangers will approach me and talk when I’ve got Ruby. On this occasion a young man came up to tell me about his Yorkie/Poodle cross. He had pictures on his phone and although I didn’t say it to him, it looked like a sheep with a Yorkies head attached, sort of a cloning experiment gone wrong.

Next passerby was an obviously gay man who walk by several times eyeing up Ruby or probably me, wondering if I was of the same persuasion. I must look a bit camp with a small Yorkshire terrier on a lead. I need a sign that says “I’m holding this dog for my wife”

My last visitor was an elderly gentleman who was confused and just wanted to chat about his collie puppy that had died and the local bus service.

No young ladies or even old ladies billing and cooing over Ruby.

We walked back to the campervan along the beach to give Ruby the chance to have a run around. I said to the E/knitter that I thought a man was taking our photo. Don’t be silly she said he’s taking a photo of the pier.

It wasn’t until we left the beach that we spotted a sign saying no dogs on the beach between May and September, punishable with a £75 fine. By now I expect our mug shots are posted around the town as Weston Super Mares most wanted.  Omg!! We are now hunted criminals.

The Scene of the crime

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We all turned our collars up and drove out of town as fast as we could.

 

 

 

 

45 years and we still don’t know each other

Our kitchen sink has a draining board and on that draining board sits one of those draining trays that you can stack the cups, cutlery and dishes to dry off. We’ve had several replacements over our married life.

Today I plucked up the courage to ask the extreme knitter why we had one.

She said “because you wanted one”.

I said “I never wanted one, I hate the dam thing”

She said “I hate it as well”.

45 years of married bliss and all this time I thought the E/knitter wanted it and she thought I wanted it. Lack of communication I think, but we are still getting to know each other.

The dish tray is now in the dustbin and all is well in the household.

 

Ham Burger

Following on from the last post about Faggots, I remembered that it used to be rumoured that the Ham burger was originally invented in the Black Country. The story went like this.

The History of the Ham Burger

In 1925 on a cobblestone street in Dudley, butchers boy “Billy King” rode his delivery bike. His cargo of freshly made Black Country faggots sat proudly in the bicycles wicker basket.

His bicycle ran over a discarded horseshoe. Hiss!! His front tyre sprung a leak.

He placed the faggots on a nearby wall, removed the tyre and repaired the puncture in double quick time. Unfortunately a gang of grubby urchins from the Priory came along and set about him.

They called him a Wimp. in fact he was such a weakling that his nickname at school was “Wimpy King”. They pushed him backwards against the wall and he landed on the faggots and squashed them flat.

Disaster! What should he do, he decided to ride on to his destination or he would have been in great trouble back at the Butchers shop.

He finally arrived at Mrs McDonalds house and presented her with the tray of squashed faggots.

She stared at the tray in disbelief.

The faggots were for a special evening supper party she was holding in her garden for the orphans of Dudley.

“What shall I do” she exclaimed.

“I know I’ll put them in a bread roll and call them? O bugger what can I call them” she said.

“That’s it, I’ll call them buggers, Ham buggers,” she cried in her strong Scottish accent

She clipped the butcher’s boy around the ear and sent him packing, then proceeded to cook the squashed faggots on an open fire in the garden.

The Orphans enjoyed the Buggers so much that it became a regular trip to Mrs McDonalds every Saturday to saviour the tasty delights.

She felt a sense of pride as she watched the skinny orphans start to put a bit of meat on their bones.

Mrs McDonald would sometimes give away a toy with her Ham buggers, perhaps a spinning top or a hoop & a stick.

Her Ham buggers became famous through out the Black Country and indeed all the land.

Her nephew Ronald was travelling on a World tour with the circus as a clown and so it was that her Ham buggers reached the shores of America in his packed lunch.

The Ham buggers became an overnight success with the Americans and Ronald set up restaurants through out the USA selling McDonalds Ham Buggers, although he was a successful businessman, Ronald couldn’t forget his true vocation and still dressed every day as a clown.

Because the Americans couldn’t speak proper English or Scottish for that matter they pronounced Bugger as Burger.

Back in the Black Country “Billy King” the butcher’s boy who sat on the faggots was now a Butchery tycoon owning a chain of butchers shop through out Great Britain.

Being the entrepreneur, he set up a chain of Ham Bugger restaurants in England and called them Wimpy’s.

Alas the Wimpy restaurant chain hit hard times and he had to sack all his employees and close it down.

The disgruntled employees decided to set up a new restaurant chain and because they hated Billy King so much they called it “Bugger King”.

And what became of the orphans? They grew into extremely large pillars of Black Country society, know as “The Buggers of Dudley”

V Southall ©

Pie or Parcel

As I have a follower from America I need to explain from the onset that here in the UK a Faggot is basically a large meat ball made from Pork and offal. Their origins date back through the ages and was a poor mans meal. Fast forward to 2017 and a Faggot is now a foodie’s delicacy.

However, back in the sixties with the advent of frozen food, Mr Brains started producing frozen faggots. These became part of a staple diet for us kids.

http://mrbrains.co.uk/home/

I’ve sampled faggots from various butchers around the country all adding their own twist on the recipe, but just like Beanz Meanz Heinz  there is always going to be Mr Brains faggots. Although as kids we were teased that they actually contained brains (I don’t think they do), hey when you’re hungry you will eat anything.

Mr Herbert Hill Brain

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Pubs in the Black Country used to have Faggots and peas nights, now it seems to be Curry nights.

(Again for my American reader). The Black Country is an area in the West Midlands where the industrial revolution started. It was called the Black Country because of the soot, smog and grime from the steel and coal industries. Black country dwellers speak a totally different language to the rest of the UK. Queen Victoria hated the area.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Country

This language difference can be awkward. I’m not even going to mention that the word Trump in the UK is another word for Fart.

When we were away in Scotland I had a couple of light bulb inspiration moments, one of them was a Faggot pie. Not just any old faggot pie, but a Mr Brains Faggot pie.

After a lot of pleading and cajoling, I convinced the E/Knitter that this was the ultimate pie and she needed to make one or perhaps two.

I present you with Faggot pie or parcel

Obviously you start with a pack of Mr Brains frozen faggots that are packed precooked in a foil tray ready to reheat. These were allowed to defrost at room temperature.

The pastry of choice was puff.

Now you could prep your puff pastry using up valuable eating time or like us buy frozen prepared puff pastry.

After a lot of debate, the E /knitter convinced me that it would be easier to place the faggot in a pastry parcel and tie the top like a sack. Ok it’s technically not a pie because it doesn’t have a lid on top, but it’s going to taste the same.

A large circle was cut from the pastry.

The faggot was placed in the centre and the pastry was gathered at the top.

faggot parcel (2)

An off cut of pastry was rolled into a long worm and used to tie the top.

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On to a baking tray and placed in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes at gas mark 7 or until the pastry is golden brown.

faggot parcel (13)

Ideally they should be served hot straight from the oven with any of the excess sauce that was left over.

I thinking sauteed potatoes, marrow fat peas and faggot parcels.

The results exceeded even my expectations. The faggots have a rich taste thanks to the West Country sauce and combine that with puff pastry it becomes food for the gods.

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If Mr Brains wants to contact me with a royalty payment offer, I’ll gladly let him use my idea.

There was some puff pastry left over from the pie making event, so I suggested to the E/knitter that she might like to make some sausage rolls with added sage and apple stuffing. The results didn’t last long enough to be photographed. mmmmm!!!

Oh and the second light bulb inspiration moment is being worked on as we speak.

All I can say is forget fidget spinners, this one is destined to become the next world wide craze, but the E/ knitter isn’t so convinced and I need her expertise to create it.

Watch this space.

 

A new proposal

gretna shops

The Extreme knitter wanted to visit the Gretna Gateway Outlet Village as we started out for our last night in Scotland. After the knitting problems the previous day I wasn’t going to argue with her.

The complex was a small designer type setup with some well known shops. Totally out of the blue I was treated to a Craghopper fleece gillet and I splashed out on a Subway meal.

While the E/knitter wandered around the shops I nipped into one of those “Olde worlde” sweet shops and made a special purchase that would be revealed later.

Suitable over shopped and over fed we returned to the campervan and I phoned what would be our next and last campsite.

I managed to bag the last pitch available.

Next stop was the Blacksmiths shop in Gretna Green famous for performing wedding ceremonies for eloping couples from England.

gretna black

It was here that I produced a pair of wedding rings crafted by Haribo confectionary that I had bought in the sweet shop earlier and we renewed our wedding vows to each other as we exchanged the rings. 45 years in July, we are starting to get the hang of this marriage thing. I’m going for the endurance award.

Haribo Rings

new rings

With our marriage now extended, we headed north on the A74 towards Moffat.

The Camping and Caravan Club 181 pitch site at Moffat is a really a staging post for visitors travelling to and from Scotland to break the long trek. It is always busy.

The welcome was very pleasant and efficient. The site wardens obviously had the site running like clockwork and considering they had spent the day showing hundreds of campers to their pitches, still had time for a bit of good humoured banter.

Moffat Camping and Caravan Club Site

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Once we were settled I sent the feral daughter a text message to say I had just married her mother, which came as a bit of a shock to her.

Then she was upset because she missed out on the wedding do. Our evening wedding supper started with a fine beef soup produced especially for us by Mr Heinz and that was it, nothing else. What did you expect? The two Haribo wedding rings used up my budget.

A short walk from the campsite led us to Moffat High Street. At that time in the evening the shops were closed, O dear, what a shame.

Moffats claim to fame is Sheep, lots of them.

The Ram Statue in Moffat

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We had only just returned to the campervan when the heavens opened up and gave us the first rain we had experienced during our trip.

We woke the next day to find the pitch slightly waterlogged, but at least the rain had stopped.

The trip home is always the same, driving back down the motorway feeling slightly melancholy after an enjoyable trip.

Until the next one.

 

Expedition Base Camp

We rolled up at Glentrool camping site about 5pm and settled in. I felt immediately comfortable here. By 5,55pm I had popped into the reception and booked another night. This site was taken over in 2014 and totally revamped with a lot of thought and planning put into the design and layout.

The hard standing pitches are massive, able to take the largest motor homes. The tent pitches don’t have vehicular access which makes for a safe camping area

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The toilet facilities are first class

Fran and Jen the enthusiastic owners have invested a lot of work and effort into the site. It makes for an extremely pleasant stop over.

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It gained the nickname Expedition Base Camp due to it location in the Forest area, being ideal for trips out to explore.

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We were by standing water and the forest, so it wasn’t long before the Scottish midge made an appearance as dusk fell. Luckily it was early in the season, so the numbers weren’t great, but enough to cut short Rubies evening sniff around the dog walking area.

Next morning we set off towards Newton Stewart again as the E/knitter needed another ball of wool for my hat (I must have a big head).

I believe there had been a technical problem with the project the day before and there had been a lot of muttering under the breath as it had to be unravelled for the second time. I have learnt over the years not to ask and keep very quiet during these times of knitters stress.

With sufficient supplies of wool to last the trip we continued down through Creetown where I was forced to stop at a Tesco store, much to my disgust, as we needed food supplies.

Back on to the A75 were we turned off towards Brighouse Bay. We stopped at a small car park with access to the beach, had lunch and ambled along the sand with Ruby making friends with every dog in sight.

brigport

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Later back on the road, the sign for Castle Douglas came into view, so we made a detour to drive through the small town, then onwards to our campsite at Glentrool for our last night there.

The morning starts were getting lazy and slow. Having lost track of the days we realised that it was Friday and we needed to start travelling in a homeward direction.

 

Dubs in the Middle

This trip is out of sync with my other posts as it happened today. Normal service will be resumed.

They never tell you when you’re a teenager that when you become, shall we say “more mature” that although your body is sagging and aching, inside your head there is still an eighteen year old trying to get out.

Well they probably did tell us, but when your eighteen you never think your going to grow old.

We decided to release our younger selves and go party. Saturday morning and we drove Puffin up to the posh end of town pulling up outside the house we affectionately know as the “Crazy Shack”. We were picking up our feral daughter and our equally feral granddaughter.

The sounds were blasting from the camper stereo as we started our family road trip. Fifteen minutes later we pulled in to our destination.

http://dubsinthemiddle.co.uk/

Yes, we were getting down with the kids at our first ever VW festival and virtually on our doorstep. This was a day visit to break us in to festival life gently.

The Dubs in the Middle VW Festival at Evesham

We took the posse of younger people with us just in case we were turned away at the gate for being too old.

My first wrist band

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The vast array of VW vehicles kept me busy while the rest of the gang bought various items of clothing from the trade stands.

Toyota engined Doka Bay

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Toyota Engine

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Splitty with barn side doors

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Immaculate Beetle engine

bug engine

There was a Foam pit, but sadly only for the little ones.

Live bands were playing in the two Marquees.

One of the advantages of taking a campervan to a festival is being able to have a cup of tea, a piece of homemade cake and an afternoon nap to rest our weary bones before we party on with the kids later.

Unfortunately, early evening and our energy levels started to wane and we took the unanimous decision to head home.

Sadly the Extreme knitter and I would have to miss one thing we wanted to experience as it didn’t start until 11pm. “The Silent Disco”

I found the concept of the silent disco fascinating. I presume my younger reader will know all about it, but for the more elderly reader I will explain. You walk into a marquee with a mass of writhing bodies, strutting their stuff on the dance floor and the DJ is spinning his sounds, but the room is silent. Everyone is wearing a pair headphones that connect them via Bluetooth to the sound system. Not only that there are three separate channels, so you could be dancing to Abba, your partner might be jiving to Buddy Holly and your drunken mate would be head banging to AC/DC. How weird is that.

If this technology had existed back in the fifties it could have caused problems. Imagine asking your date for the evening to step up onto the Tower dance floor at Blackpool. Headphones on and your date selects the tango and you select the waltz.

I think the gang enjoyed the day

feral kids and e knitter

We all highly recommended The Dubs in the Middle Festival. We could have rolled up at the 8am start and stopped until midnight all for £5 with loads of entertainment, food, shopping and loads of cool VWs to swoon over.