My Cherie Amour

Back in 1969, as a pimply teenager, I used to run a disco on a Thursday night in the village community centre. I was dating the Extreme Knitter at the time, but because she lived 16 miles away and it was a school night, she wasn’t able to come over, so at 10pm every Thursday night I always played our song for her.

Stevie Wonders “My Cherie Amour”.

We celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary this year and I’m going through my mid life crisis (Yes, I plan to live to 126 years old). I started to realise that there is so much we haven’t done or experienced.

I decide I didn’t want to die without having a tattoo. Anyone that knows me will be shocked, because all my life I have been anti tattoo and I could never understand why people would disfigure themselves.

I took a giant risk and didn’t tell the Extreme knitter that I was having one. With help from my Grandson the deed was done.

Here is the result on my upper arm.

 my cherie amour

“Are you still together” I hear you ask.

Hell yes.

After the initial shock at the unveiling and needing to have sit down, she loved it.

I don’t know what I would have done if she didn’t.

Onward to the next adventure.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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.

Sunday Lunch under pressure

Camping cook books always seem to be one pot dishes like stew, curry or chilli. I have been known to like my food and I must admit to being a meat and two veg man. Cooking a meal that was equivalent to a Sunday roast lunch in a campervan with only two gas burners and a grill was going be a challenge.

Stepping forward to save the day is our trusty Hawkins pressure cooker.

We have used the 2 litre capacity cooker for sometime now and it has proved to be invaluable.

https://escaperoutetales.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/the-pressures-on/

The evening meal we were preparing was Beef Brisket, Minted potatoes, mixed vegetables with a rich beef/onion gravy.

The small brisket joint (800grams was about the maximum size that could fit in the pressure cooker) that I bought from Morrisons was seared and browned in the Boaty frying pan.

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Looking and smelling suitably ready the joint was placed in the pressure cooker with onions, stock cube and water. It was cooked for 40 minutes on a very low flame, then allowed to depressurise in its own time.

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It was removed and left to rest.

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The new potatoes were cooked in the pressure cooker taking 5 minutes on a low flame while the vegetables were cooked in a small saucepan. The potatoes were coated in butter with mint sauce and the beef stock made gorgeous rich gravy. The Brisket was so tasty and succulent it just pulled apart. I had the last of the Bacardi & coke that I had saved especially for this meal.

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The down side was that it produced a lot of washing up with three pans to clean, but as there was a pot wash area on site it wasn’t a problem.

You don’t have to rough it in a campervan.

North Rhinnes

With Balloch O Dee camp site behind us we continued our travels heading towards Stranraer using the pretty route taking in as much of the scenery as we could. The road sign for Wigtown loomed into view. We couldn’t pass by Scotland’s equivalent to Hay on Wye without wandering around the second hand book shops and a very pleasant town it is.

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I spotted a sign for the harbour and off we went.

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The harbour was a large parking area with a launching ramp and several boat moorings. This would have made a good place for an overnight stopover, but we hadn’t long left our previous night camp.

The coastal road took us through many small villages and towns. Our propane gas bottle had run out the night before, so we stopped at Whithorn on the way for a refill. The ladies in the shop suggested lots of places to see and various camp sites. They told me that a famous actor was being filmed at Port Patrick for a Hollywood movie. Gerard Butler or somebody, I have no idea.

We were soon entering Stranraer and the sign for my favourite supermarket appeared.

I    heart-29328_960_720  Morrisons.

We refuelled with several litres of Morrison’s finest diesel and stocked up the depleted fridge and food cupboards. I purchased a small joint of Beef brisket for our evening meal.

We had a joint of brisket in the freezer at home especially to bring with us, but I forgot it. Never mind I had £25 worth of Morrisons vouchers, so the £36 shopping bill only cost £11 in hard cash. I love a bargain me.

We gained a phone signal and wifi in the car park, so I called to book a camping pitch for the night.

We were lucky with the weather and the campsites that we picked. North Rhinns camp site in Leswalt is a small site that takes many tents and a maximum of three campervans below 6 metres long.

http://www.northrhinnscamping.co.uk/

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The excellent facilities are housed in a building beside the gate, consisting of two toilets, one large shower room and pot washing sinks.

The site has individual tent pitches and Camping pods that are surrounded by trees and bushes giving each one some privacy.

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Quite a unique site and highly recommended.

We cooked our experimental Sunday lunch even though it was Tuesday evening. (I’ll do a separate post on the results).

Port Logan breakwater

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A lazy start to the day and toast for breakfast we were hitting the open road again.   Port Logan and Port Patrick bound this time as the E/knitter wanted to see the Hollywood Film star. Unfortunately the filming had long gone leaving just a few fishermen. Never mind, onward to Stranraer for some retail therapy to pacify her disappointment.

I was last here 25 years ago taking a lorry load of machinery on the ferry to Belfast then on to Londonderry. It didn’t make much of an impression at the time, but the ferry has stopped using the port and Stranraer in the sunshine appeared to be a busy and thriving town.

Whilst I had a phone signal in Stranraer, I phoned the next camp site on my list of possibles and I booked a pitch at Glentrool campsite back up in to the Galloway forest.

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The drive up to Glen Trool took us past The Cocoa Bean chocolate company at Twynholm. The E/Knitter volunteered to investigate while Ruby and I sat outside dreaming of chocolate. A few minutes later she returned empty handed. Apparently a single Chocolate was £3 . I’m known to be quite flipant when it comes to parting with money, but I can buy a pack of four Mars bars from Morrisons for £1.