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.

 

 

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.

 

Castle Corner Campsite

The campervan wheels are rolling again. After our visit last year to Arran we said we would give Scotland a miss this year as we always seem to be returning year on year.

We set off northwards towards the Scottish border. Obviously that memo wasn’t read.

Dumfries and Galloway Forest was our destination which is only just in Scotland.

Last year we passed through here on our way to catch the ferry to the Isle of Arran. After a little research it was apparent that we had missed so much that the area could give.

Our first night was spent at Castle Corner campsite, Caerlaverock. We stayed here last year as an overnight stop before catching the ferry to Arran.

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It is a five pitch site used by the Motor caravan club, but open to non-members. It is a gem of a hide away, situated beside the nature reserve and within a short walk to Caerlaverock castle.

http://castlecorner.wixsite.com/castle-corner

Based on the popular German Stellplatz design, the pitches are spacious, each provided with a picnic table. The fresh water, waste water and chemical toilet disposal point is situated near the gateway. A single toilet/wash basin is provided in a log cabin, which is kept clean and inspected on a regular basis.

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Once we had settled in we decided to walk through the nature reserve to the nearby 13th century Caerlaverock castle.

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The castle is triangular in shape surround by a moat and run by Historic Scotland.

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Library Photo

After the long drive to get here and the walk to the castle we were exhausted, so we returned to the campervan for our evening meal.

We like to live dangerously and tackle change head on. Our first night meal of the usual meatballs and pasta in a homemade tomato sauce was replaced with a healthy option of chicken salad with minted Jersey potatoes. Like a walk on the wild side.

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Castle Corner has calming, lay back effect, so we booked an extra night and took time to recover from the road trip to get here.

A full English breakfast started the day. After a leisurely tidy up and taking ruby for a short walk we drove to Dumfries for a wander around the town. As usual Ruby and I stood outside many shops chatting to Ruby’s many admirers. Dumfries is a bustling town with many well looked after Parks.

Robert Burns in Dumfries

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Next stop was Morrison’s, where we bought a cooked pork hock joint and some crusty bread rolls, restocked the fridge and food cupboard with goodies.

We drove down to the car park beside the River Nith and had our lunch while watching the world go by.

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We headed back to the campsite after having a drive around the surrounding area.

We had a lazy start to the Sunday morning and packed our gear away.

Sad to leave such a peaceful campsite were we are guaranteed a warm welcome, but we will be back again. Definitely recommended as a must visit campsite when in the area.

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Having a crafty Peak

We snatched a couple of days off and on Sunday morning headed North to Derbyshire and the Peak District. Our camp site for the trip was Ilam hall the National Trust property.

Ilam Park Caravan site is a beautiful green oasis nestled in the grounds of Ilam Hall, about 5 miles from Ashbourne in the southern end of the Peak District National Park.

The hall was built in 1827 and was destined for demolition in 1930. Three quarters of the hall had been demolished before Sir Robert McDougal (the flour magnet) bought it for the National trust to be used as a youth hostel.

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Ilam Hall

I found it rather grand sleeping in the grounds of a Victorian hall, but of course the Extreme knitter being a Lady herself takes it in her stride.

https://escaperoutetales.wordpress.com/2015/12/27/lady-extreme-knitter/

We took the drive away awning with us, but the strong winds meant we couldn’t put it up.

We spent the afternoon wandering around the extensive park land admiring the hall and the river.

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Yes, we had meat balls in homemade tomato sauce again, but we have decided to alter our first evening meal for future trips. Just need to decide what to have instead.

Ruby came with us on this trip although she had some dental work carried out in the week. Yorkies are prone to having dental problems, so she had a clean and descale at the Vets. Unfortunately she had to have three teeth removed, one being a baby tooth that hadn’t popped out in her youth. We were concerned that she wouldn’t be up for this trip after the anaesthetic, but she was back to her normal self the following day.

This campsite is stunning and fairly basic in a good way, it’s a bargain at £16 per night with electric hook-up.

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Our Morning View

The facilities are housed in an annex of the hall which a fair trek from the camp pitches, so a trip to the toilet has to be preplanned. It’s no good waiting until your bursting.

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Ye oldie toilet block

This slight inconvenience (see what I did there) is a small price to pay for the privilege of using this site. There is however a well sited fresh water, waste water, chemical toilet disposal point and refuse bins situated bang in the centre of the site.

During a late night trek to the toilets I could hear footsteps following me, so I stopped and looked around, but there was no one there.

I carried on and the footsteps started following me again. At this point I was having visions of a mad axe man/woman ready to murder me. After looking around and finding nobody, I finally realized that I was hearing my own footsteps being amplified through my new hearing aids.

Monday morning and Ruby woke me up to go for a wee. The rain was torrential at this point and she didn’t hang about outside for long. We eventually dragged ourselves out of bed and cooked a full English breakfast to set us up for the day.

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Our Corner Pitch

Calamity!!! The electric power supply tripped. A quick reccie showed that rain water had entered the supply socket and tripped the circuit breaker. No problem, the site rangers were sorting it out later for us as we were going out and we didn’t need it until we returned.

Unfortunately, I disconnected our supply cable then I promptly slid down a muddy embankment on my back.

I was covered in mud and feeling embarrassed I quickly got up as if nothing had happened, as you do. I changed my clothes while the Extreme knitter hosed the mud of my rain coat and we finally set off for Bakewell.

Following the sat nav directions, is always a risk, but we got to see some beautiful countryside whilst travelling down some narrow country roads.

We have visited Bakewell before on a previous trip and experienced the Bakewell tart/pudding wars.

https://escaperoutetales.wordpress.com/category/derby/

Well, because I couldn’t decide which was the best back then I just had to have a rematch. Funnily enough even after a tasting session I still couldn’t decide, but I must say the lemon/coconut version of the Bakewell tart was scoring a 10 out of 10, but technically it wasn’t the original recipe so it didn’t count.

Parking in the farmer’s livestock market car park was a little muddy and I had to walk very carefully as I didn’t have another change of clean clothes if I decided to slip over.

The walk in to the town took us across the footbridge covered in padlocks.

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Padlock Bridge

We drove back to the campsite via Matlock Bath which has gained a reputation for being a landlocked seaside resort. The river creates the focus for the visitors to promenade up and down and during the autumn they have the river and road illuminated similar to Blackpool.

Tuesday came around quickly meaning we were heading home. This campsite is run by National Trust and staffed by volunteers. We couldn’t have wished for a better pair of site rangers as Colin and Jenny. In fact in all the years we have been camping we have never met such a pleasant and helpful couple. We will return.

Of course our trip home would be incomplete without a visit to a wool or sewing shop and as always, the extreme knitter had located two shops in the same street in Darley Dale.

I will say that she is a dab hand at sewing/knitting etc.

Many years ago I asked for a pair of trousers legs to be turned up. “Put them on the sewing pile” she said. A few years later I found my trousers still at the bottom of the pile. I tried them on and found I had grown in to them.

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 party tunes. 

Ag a do & the Birdy song I think.

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.