We hit the Wall

Morrisons at Hawick was our first port of call in the morning to use their facilities yet again. I like to think of Morrisons as our version of Walmart in the USA, although they don’t let us stop over in their car parks as Walmart do.

I had a plan. not a good one, but a plan all the same.

We needed to be beside the seaside and on our way we stumbled across Hadrians Wall.

Hadrians Wall

A section of Hadrians wall at Cawfield

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Apparently Hadrians wall took six years to build. I imagined that after 2 years Mrs Hadrian was losing her patience with him taking so long on his DIY project

“Hadrian”.  “you had better get that back wall finished before my mother visits”.

I set the Sat nav for a seaside destination and followed the back roads that she suggested. (yes, I do call my Sat nav a “she”) which isn’t normally a good thing, but this time she surprised us with a fabulous trip. It was obvious we weren’t going to reach the seaside before nightfall, so we scouted around for somewhere to pull over for the evening. After inspecting many places that neither of us could agree on, we eventually found a large parking area at one of the highest point of the North Pennines called Killhope Cross on the A689

Killhope Cross

We parked up just as the sun was setting. The beauty of places like this is the dark sky. As night fell it was pitch black and the cloud less sky was awash with stars.

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The only thing the extreme knitter was concerned about was that the strong wind might blow us over.

About 10 pm the gas ran out, so in the pitch black with the rain and wind lashing down on me, I ventured outside the camper van to swop over to the spare gas bottle.

Why doesn’t the Gas ever run out during the daytime.

 

 

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Hawick and Kielder Forest

We had a very quiet night in the Hawick car park. 

Hawick Aire

The following morning after bacon butties, we visited Morrisons to use their facilities again before we set off for Kielder Water arriving at the start of the forest drive, a 12 mile long gravel road through Kielder forest.

I had read all the warnings that the forest road was only suitable in a 4×4 vehicle , but I worked on the basis that if the track became impassable we could turn around. The track was a toll road with a payment machine costing £3 and a notice warning about the need for 4 x 4.

I really enjoy driving these forest tracks

Kielder Forest Drive

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A stop over at the six mile point for food and beverages

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The 12 miles of track came to an end near a main road, so we turned around and went back along the track to travel another 12 miles doing the return trip.

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As can be seen from photos the road is a fairly level gravel surface with some steady gradients that you could drive along in your Granny’s Fiat 500 without any bother. Not as challenging as I would have liked, but certainly an enjoyable drive.

It was starting to get late, so somewhere to overnight was a priority before it got dark. There was a pub that allowed motor homes to over night in their car park if you had a drink and a meal in the pub, but It didn’t appeal to us.

I had heard that overnighting around Kielder water including the forestry drive was banned and checked by the forestry agents. All the parking areas had barriers across the access.

We gave up after driving around aimlessly and decided to head back to Hawick car park for another night.

You’ll note that this was the third night we had stayed off grid

The Lakes

After all the excitement over the last couple of days and having wild camped in a carpark for two nights. We decided (well the Extreme knitter decided ) that a rest up on a camp site would be required. Northwards again with the Lake District as the next destination, we turned of the M6 towards Keswick.

We were heading for the Waterside caravan park situated beside Ullswater, but by mistake saw a sign for the Waterfoot caravan park and turned in. It wasn’t until I had paid for a nights camping that I realised we were on the wrong site. However the silver lining was that this site was cheaper and the facilities were excellent, so I paid to stay for a further two nights. The luxury of massive shower rooms in a spotless heated facilities block was compelling after two nights spent in a hotel car park and it gave us a chance to explore a small part of the Lake District.

The Waterfoot park

After a hearty breakfast and taking Elsie for a walk, a drive to Keswick was our first port of call. Keswick must be the outdoor equipment centre of the world, every shop seemed to be selling expensive clothing and hiking boots. I realised that everybody in the town was dressed in outdoor gear including us and the last time we visited probably 20years ago everybody either had a Labrador or a Golden Retriever on a lead. Now it appears that the popular dog is the Cockapoo. I’ve never seen so many in one place, so Elsie fitted right in with the “in crowd”.

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The following day saw us heading South towards Windermere and the lakeside area known as Bowness on Windermere.

The drive from Ullswater to Windermere took us over Kirkstone pass with it’s rugged tight twists and turns. The steep inclines meant puffins gearbox was used to her full extent.

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What can I say about Windermere. Well, It is what you would expect it to be on a Saturday. Busy, very busy and picturesque in the sunshine

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Maths, Munch and a School Day

My day started with me getting ready for school. I quickly left the house at 8.50am as I wasn’t going to be late for the maths and munch session. Our  seven year old granddaughter, Vicky had invited me to attend a Parents meeting to hear how her school were changing the way they taught maths and they used the promise of a bacon buttie as a lure . It was explained that they had researched the way maths was taught around the world and they came to the conclusion that Shanghai produced the best results. The first part involved us being told that the children were going to be taught and tested on their times table as though this was some amazing method they had just discovered. Anyone reading this of a certain age will remember the Friday mental maths tests we endured saying our times table as a rhyme. Then we were shown the pictorial examples of tuition that had many of us looking confused. Eventually it sank in and we were all there happily laying out counters and drinking straws, creating shapes and graphs that were remarkably similar to an abacus ( remember Shanghai) .

An hour and a half later I was busy loading the camper van with supplies and the extreme knitters vast array of clothes and shoes. All these years and she still hasn’t taken on board the travel light concept .

Ruby stayed with the feral daughter at the crazy shack and Elsie came with us for her longest road trip so far.

It’s now becoming a foregone conclusion that we will always revisit Scotland. So there we were winding our merry way to the Scottish border like a couple of geriatric gypsies, but we were going to go a long way around.

A change of plan to break the trip down into shorter chunks had us heading towards Wales instead, Betws-y-coed, Snowdonia to be precise.

When the Extreme knitter asked where we were staying that night I said “At the Swallow Falls Hotel darling” and she seemed impressed by my choice.

I knew that the Swallow falls hotel offered overnight camping in their car park, so that’s where we went, arriving at 5pm to settle in for the evening. Not quite the en suite hotel room with spa that the E/Knitter was expecting.

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In the Swallow Falls Hotel car park we spotted an unusual tree that we found out much later was in fact a disguised mobile phone mast

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Out second day started as any other as you do when you’ve woken up in a Hotel car park. We ate bacon butties and wandered over the road to look at the Swallow falls. Paying our two pound entrance fee we walked down the many flights of steps . The roar was deafening and the air was saturated with water spray. The recent rain meant the waterfall was in full flow and turbulent.

Swallow Falls

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I suggested that we visit the Zip World forest just to have a look, as you do. I think the extreme knitter could see through my ploy as she’s got used to my sneaky ways .

Zip World

The forest coaster is a fast down hill ride that twists and turns sharply down through the steep forest on a track. She even agreed to go first while I gallantly held Elsie. The first of her three rides was a gentle amble down the track with the brakes on. However the adrenaline kicked for the second and third rides, she let it go full speed and enjoyed it.

Now I’m not one to be beaten by a girl, so I had to man up and just let it go as fast as I could. Wow!!! the rush you get is exhilarating.

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The Extreme Knitter going at full pelt and obviously petrified. This was one of the official photos as all the ones I took turned in to blurred images at that speed.

coaster

 

 

We headed back to the Hotel car park for a second evening stop over after a very pleasant wander around Betws-y-coed. We couldn’t be bothered to cook for the evening so drove back down to a pizza shop in Betws-y-coed .  The extreme knitter went in and ordered a ham and pineapple pizza.

” Sorry we don’t put pineapple on pizza, but if you supply your own pineapple we will cook it and charge you a 15 pence fee” said the guy behind the counter. In a state of shock she accepted the ham pizza and departed. Why no pineapple? I don’t know.

Before we set off for this trip our Grandson Sam and his partner Lauren gave us the news that we were going to become Great Grandparents as they were expecting a baby girl in November. We couldn’t more proud of them and thank them for the wonderful gift they are giving us. As you can imagine The Extreme knitters skills were going to be used to the “extreme”, providing far more baby clothes than any child can possibly wear.

 

 

Overland Wild Party

Come to our Wild Party, the Face book post said, so we did. We weren’t sure what to expect, but we are open to something different.

The Wild Party/Festival was being held at a farm in Ailsworth, Peterborough which is the headquarters of Nene Overland, the suppliers of all things cool and adventurous.

Nene Overland

Nene Overland had organised the event to Coincide with the Land Rover show at the Peterborough show ground.

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The long drive on Friday afternoon to Nene Overland led to the campsite in a field beside their offices and workshop.

We were the first to arrive and had the choice of pitches in the vast camping field. A Big top marquee hosted the entertainment along with the obligatory beer tent and Kids zone tent which I was barred from as I was rubbish at colouring in.

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In the evening we dined on our usual Meat balls in home made tomatoes sauce then tottered over to the beer tent to sample the beverages on offer, well it would have been rude not to.

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Saturday was the main festival day with food, drink served all day and entertainment in the evening. We had a very chilled out day just lazing about reading and eating. Elsie had a massive field to run around , so she was in her element. We had a wander around the Nene Overland displays and their 1st Class workshop facilities predominantly catering for the Land rover owner. The Land rover sales pitch was full of stunning vehicles and the showroom displayed their range of overlanding equipment. The list of vehicles that I would have happily driven home in was vast, but I particularly wished for the Ex Army ambulance as they make an excellent off road camper. Sadly it had the sold sign on it. One day perhaps.

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Sunday morning and most of the campers headed off to visit the Land Rover show. We had leisurely drive home.

This was the first time the festival had been staged and it’s pretty obvious that the future ones will be a popular venue once the word is out there. We are certainly looking forward to next year’s event.

I will probably meet up with them again next weekend as Nene Overland will be attending the Adventure Overland show at Stratford on Avon racecourse on the 22nd & 23rd September 2018.

Adventure Overland Show

 

Dogs for good, The rematch

The Feral family were on the move again and our destination was Stoneleigh Agricultural Show Centre, Kenilworth.

The event was the Dogs for Good fun day

Dogs For Good

It’s always a very laid back affair, Yeah right !!!

The extreme knitter put her girls names down for two show categories  Ruby was entered in  the waggiest tail contest which she took second place two years ago, so she had a reputation riding on this result.

The One with the Waggly Tail

Elsie was entered in the cutest under 12 months puppy contest. This was her first show experience. The competition was fierce with some really cute 1 month old furry bundles that had the arrrh factor and with Elsie being 7 months old and having had her coat cut short for the expected heat wave, she had lost some of her cute appeal. 

Elsie patiently waiting her turn to audition

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Elsie being judged

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Alas Elsie didn’t get a prize, but she gained an experience. How could they resist this face.

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Ruby took third place in the waggiest tail contest. Of course I still believe she was robbed.

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Here’s Ruby bobbing her tongue out at the competition because she was the one that had her photo taken for the local newspaper, The Leamington Observer.

The Leamington Observer

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Joking apart it is always an enjoyable show

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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