Dubs in the Middle 2018

This was our second visit to Dubs in the middle. Our feral family consisting of me, the extreme knitter, our feral daughter, equally feral granddaughter, Ruby the Yorky and Elsie the Cockapoo were loaded into the campervan and we sped off to Evesham.  This years show seemed busier than last year, helped by a break in the wet weather that provided us with plenty of sunshine. We highly recommend this show. The camping area was massive and there was a good turnout of day visitors. With the entrance fee only £5 each and children free it made a cheap day out. There were plenty of trade stands and live music

Puffin holding her own in the car park

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VW Crafter conversion

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Crafter Interior featured Copper piping and reclaimed wood

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VW T4 cab interior

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VW Golf engine bay

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Rat look

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VW T3 Gypsy motorhome

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Adventure Overland Show 2018

Sunday morning and I was off to visit the Adventure Overland Show at Stratford on Avon Racecourse. The Extreme knitter decided to opt out of this one.

The show had suffered from heavy rain on the previous days leaving the walkways claggy with mud. But being a hardy bunch, people just carried on regardless. The show was due to end at 4pm, although some stall holders were packing up early. That is understandable if they have a long way to travel home, but when traders and campers start leaving at 12.30pm and the show only opened its gates at 10am we weren’t getting value for money.

This was the first time the show was staged in April and there weren’t as many stands as the main show held in September which is usually well attended.

There were some interesting vehicles there so as usual I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Adventure Overland Show April 2018 (7)

Adventure Overland Show April 2018 (6)

Adventure Overland Show April 2018 (5)

Adventure Overland Show April 2018 (3)

Adventure Overland Show April 2018 (2)

Adventure Overland Show April 2018 (1)

 

The Cheeky Monkey and a Toad in the Hole

Our latest cooking gadget is a Toasted sandwich maker or Pie iron made by TF Gear, but more commonly know as a “Ridge Monkey”.

The TF Gear iron is identical to the Ridge Monkey, so we have nicknamed ours “The Cheeky Monkey”.

TF-Gear-Sandwich-Toaster

I was hoping that this would be the camping nirvana after all the good reviews I had read. We don’t have an oven in the campervan, so it limits our possible menu.

I tried the Omnia oven, but I couldn’t get on with it and it was a little oversize for our campervan hob.

Omnia Oven

We have a similar sandwich toaster called “The Diablo” that toasts sandwiches, but they were small and you had towaste a lot of bread cutting it to fit the round shape. The TF Gear is a square shaped pie iron that makes toasted sandwiches using a gas hob, open fire or barbeque. It is very popular with fishermen who cook breakfast on the river side. So far I have cooked Bacon, Burgers, Eggs and a small Pizza, well warmed one up. As the cooking process is enclosed, the top gets a chance of being cooked.

A Chicago pie pizza approximately 3 “diameter fits nicely. I heated one side of the iron until hot then turned it over and placed the defrosted pizza on the unheated side. The theory being that as the pizza base was directly on the bottom of the iron, preheating the top would give the cooking of the pizza top a head start before the base burnt. It actually worked. I did turn it over once just to brown the top. I shall be asking the extreme knitter to make some homemade pizzas that fit the Cheeky Monkeys shape and size. If they are thinner they might cook quicker and more thoroughly.

I’ve tried McCann’s frozen oven fries as they were thin. These cooked perfectly. I think the trick with frozen food is to thaw it out first, so that your cooking time isn’t taking up having to defrost first.

The next try out was Toad in the Hole, an easy to make quaint English recipe that is basically sausages cooked in a dish of batter mix using a very hot oven. The batter would normally rise in an oven enveloping the sausage in a crispy Yorkshire pudding. Cooking it in the Cheeky monkey was going to be a challenge.

 

Start by cooking 3 or 4 sausages in the Cheeky Monkey. I like to butterfly mine to make sure they are thoroughly cooked.

 Monkey toad in the hole (2)

While the sausages are cooking make your batter mix

1 cup of plain flour

A pinch of salt

300mls of milk

Whisk these ingredients until you’ve got a smooth liquid (without any lumps)

This will make approximately 450mls.

Boil some water.

When the sausages are cooked take them out and pour a good glug of veg oil in the Cheeky monkey and heat until smoking hot.

Pour a small layer of the batter mix into the hot oil that will seal the underside, them place the sausages in and pour some more batter mix over them. I used about 250mls. If the mix is too deep it will burn before the middle is cooked. I cooked it on a low flame for 20 minutes turning the Cheeky Monkey over regularly to stop the mix from burning.

 Monkey toad in the hole (5)

Monkey toad in the hole (6)

Monkey toad in the hole (7)

Make a small amount of gravy using gravy granules and the water that you boiled earlier. (yes, I know, but we are camping so short cuts are allowed).

 Monkey toad in the hole (9)

Much to my amazement it worked out and tasted good. I didn’t rise as it would in an oven, but because it was thinner it cooked all the way through.

The batter mix could be made at home before setting off on your camping trip to save time.

If you’ve been paying attention you’ll be asking what about the 200mls of batter mix that I had left?

Well that’s for pudding, three Pancakes to be precise. Even though it was Sunday I like a Fat Tuesday

These can be made in the Cheeky monkey by pouring in a small amount of veg oil and pouring a third of the mix on top. They can be made sweeter by slicing some bananas into the mix or possibly pineapple chunks. The beauty of the monkey is that you just turn it over to cook the other side.

Monkey toad in the hole (12)

The experimenting goes on.

 

 

 

Adventure Overland show 2017

 

 

The end of September again means only one thing for me. My annual visit to the Adventure Overland Show held on Stratford upon Avon racecourse. This year I visited on my own some. The Extreme Knitter had other commitments.

The show gets better each year with many varied trade stands, displays and so many interesting vehicle in the camping and parking area.

As always, I will just leave a few of the photos for you to digest.

Landrover 1963 Series 2A forward control camper

This beauty was a work in progress. It just oozes classic Landy.

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Just a little electrical work that needs tiding up. One of those five minute jobs

wiring

Nice Arse end

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Xplora Overland were showing their new Ford Transit conversion. If only I had the money.

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I’m trying to convince the Extreme Knitter that we need to tow one of these buggies behind our campervan.

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VW  T5s LTs T4s

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Ex Military Trucks were well represented

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Series One Landrovers

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Our Old Series One Landrover

I do regret selling our Series one Landrover. The beauty of hindsight.

Landrover series 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.

 

A brief return to civilisation

Back on the road again following our overnight stop in the forest.

http://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/forest-parks/galloway-forest-park/raiders-road-forest-drive

We stopped at the Glen bar view point then travelled to Newton Stewart. By now we were peckish. We came across a small Italian café that allowed dogs, so in we went and devoured soup and steak rolls.

The Extreme knitter was showing signs of lack of wool fatigue, so Ruby and I returned to the campervan and had a short nap while the E/knitter found a wool shop and passed away an hour or two in woollen heaven. Low and behold she returned with a bag of wool to knit me a hat.

Yes!!!! Me, a hat.

I know. I couldn’t believe it either especially as this was the hottest day yet.

We were able to access mobile phone and wifi signals in the car park for the first time this trip.

After a quick phone call I managed to get a pitch on the Balloch O’Dee campsite not far from Newton Stewart. Following the long single track road, we arrived at the campsite. First impressions were rustic and comfortable with ponies and chickens roaming around. No printed rules and camp fires welcome.

http://www.ballochodee.com/home/4553037475

We had spent the last three nights with limited facilities and we needed to clean up, so the hot showers were a welcome treat.

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It was strange camping on a busy site again after our solitary three days. This site is popular with people returning time and time again and we could see why. Some sites may have superior facilities, but this one feels right. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it has something magical about it.

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We all enjoyed staying here, even Ruby who was desperate to make friends with the pony.

Every September they hold  a music festival on site.

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Like a night in the Forest

After leaving Castle corner caravan site we headed into the Galloway forest area on the A712. Along this road are various stop offs, like the deer park, the goat park, Bruces stone and the visitors centre.

The Goat Park

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I eventually turned off the A712 on to a dirt track. Two miles along the track is the payment machine and after paying our £2 fee we were driving “The Raiders road”, basically 10 miles of forestry track.

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Halfway along the track is Otters Pool with a toilet and parking area. This was to be our overnight stop for the night, but it was teeming with day visitors who departed about 5pm, leaving behind the remains of their picnics, litter and broken chairs. There was a group of lads who were camping out in a tent with a large fire. It was obvious that they were there to party the night away, so we decided to move on further along the Raiders road and found a car park at the end of Stroan Loch.

Otters Pool

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It’s a shame that Otters Pool is so neglected and the main culprits are the locals. It will eventually lead to camping restrictions like the ones being enforced in the Loch Lomond area. (sorry, rant over)

The Otter statue and Ruby

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We were alone in the parking area at Stroan Loch and the sun was setting  across the Loch. The forest area is a designated dark skies area and as night fell I scanned the sky, but unfortunately the clouds blocked my view of any stars or galaxies.

The sunset over the Loch

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Sunset on Loch Stroan

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We woke to find an eerie mist sitting on the water. All was quiet as the road doesn’t open for visitors until 9am. Two red kites circled above the Loch and a couple of walkers stopped to have a chat. Life doesn’t get any better than this.

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It’s good that we are comfortable to rock up in a pitch black forest, miles from anywhere without any radio, TV, internet or phone signal and have a peaceful nights sleep. We have an agreement that if either of us feels uncomfortable with an overnight stop, we will move on to find somewhere else.

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Puffin covered in dust from the track

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We seem to have fallen into the habit of having a lazy start to our days, just being, without any pressing commitments. It was getting near midday when we pulled on to the forest track to continue our journey, so it came as a surprise that I had to brake hard to avoid an owl that swooped down in front of the campervan.

The forest area is amazing and well worth a visit despite the minority of inconsiderate visitors.