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.

Extreme Felting

The Extreme Knitter has now added Extreme Felter to her list of nicknames. I treated her to a one day felting workshop for her birthday as she has always wanted to try it.

The course was held at a cottage studio in Hatton, Warwick with six other beginners.

When I collected her she was pleased as punch with her felted figure of Ruby. I was amazed at the likeness and at her first attempt. I’m really proud of her because she seems to be able to turn her hand to anything.

She wants to book another workshop that will hone her detailing skills.

The course is run by Sophie Wheatley from “All things felt and beautiful”  07706279252

e mail :  sophie@feltandbeautiful.co.uk

All things felt and beautiful

I was told that not only was the course inspiring and enjoyable, but it was complemented by a magnificent meal and desert. You would have thought I’d have had a doggy bag.

Unfortunately this photo doesn’t do justice to the texture of the figure that can be seen in real life.

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Hearing the Sound of Smell

I’m getting to point in my life when getting up in the morning takes on a routine of consuming various life enhancing tablets and adding bits of technology before the day could start.

My latest add on is a pair of hearing aids that I’m gradually getting used to.

I was listening to a lady on the radio when we were away in Malvern last weekend extolling the amazing benefits of hearing aids and how she could hear all the different bird songs since she started wearing them.

It is correct that using them opens up a whole vista of sounds that you didn’t realise had faded away from your life.

I had a similar revelation to the lady on the radio, but mine was not hearing the sweet bird song.

I put my hearing aids in today and heard Ruby Fart for the first time. I had known that she has Farted all the five years she has been with us, because she used to sit on my lap look up at me and then move away to another seat leaving me with the telltale stink.

I have never heard her before and just presumed that she did SBDs (silent but deadly).

The wonders of modern technology.

ruby pillow

 

 

A night by the stones

The last few weeks have been challenging and we needed to escape again even if it was for one night.

The school holidays were over and weekday travel was less of a hassle. A fairly late start for us saw Puffin hurtling down the M5 motorway towards Bristol. We turned off at junction 19 for the Gordano services and drove towards the Clifton suspension bridge that crosses the River Avon Gorge. The extreme knitter likes to be surprised and I always try to include a fear factor if I can as it keeps the blood pumping. I excelled myself this time as I’m not good with heights and as we had never driven over the suspension bridge before I felt it had to be done. Crikey it’s high, Bum cheek clenchingly high and to pick up the road to our next destination we had to turn around and go back over it.

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Safely back on a lower ground level we drove towards Cheddar Gorge where we stopped in one of the lay-bys in the gorge for lunch.

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Next destination was Wells for a little sightseeing and retail therapy for the extreme knitter.

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Wells is a small city with an amazing Cathedral and lots of nooks and crannies to explore.

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Back on the road again and we joined the east bound A303. The signs for the Stonehenge visitor centre appeared at a roundabout, but I wasn’t going there. A little further along the A303 we turned left into a bye way called the Drove. It is just a dirt track that runs up beside the famous Stonehenge. The drove is used by campers from all walks of life to wild camp with a view of the stones across the field. New age travellers, Hippies, Over Landers and Motor home owners and now us.

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The look on the extreme knitters face was priceless when I announced that this was our campsite for the night, but as always she’s a game girl and embraced the madness.

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Stonehenge has become a major tourist attraction that can only be visited by paying substantial amount to the English Heritage. They had the roads around closed and blocked off to stop the common people sneaking a crafty look, but the Drove has survived for now. It’s a Bye way running close by with a public right of way. I’ve been wanting to stopover here for sometime and I thought that if we didn’t do it soon the powers that be will eventually close it and our chance would pass.

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The Autumn Solstice occurred on Friday 23rd September, so it could have been a mistake visiting so soon after the mass visit by hundreds of Druids on Friday. I expected it to be messy and littered after so many people had visited, but it was a pleasant surprise to find it litter free. There weren’t many campers and it was easy to find a fairly level place to park with a good view of the stones.

The paying visitors arrive by bus from the visitor centre having paid to park, then coughing up £18 a head to wander around the circumference of the stones, never getting close enough to touch them.

The meatballs in tomato sauce made another appearance, but sadly no Bacardi just in case we needed to drive off in the middle of the night.

It was suggested that I should dance naked in the middle of the stones at sunrise, but sadly I cancelled the dance as the sun didn’t rise in the morning. Well I suppose it must have risen, but I couldn’t see it for the rain and mist.

We had a peaceful, quiet and safe night. The extreme knitter was at ease there, which is a good sign because if she’s not comfortable with an overnight stay she will say so.

Bacon sandwiches for a late breakfast. We then wandered down the drove to the point where the visitor buses stop. This entrance was guarded and gated off. After walking on a little further we found a public footpath that appeared to lead to the stones.

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Not only did it lead to the stones, we were only about 15 metres further away than the paying punters and only separated by a wooden fence.

We had briefly passed through Marlborough when we had previously visited our Grandson at his Larkhill barracks and said we must visit when we had time to explore. We did try to park there on the way back, but failed.

On the trip back, just north of Tidworth we saw a tank coming down the road towards us with a squaddie under driving instruction. The extreme knitter suddenly waved to them out of the blue. I dread to think what the instructor said to the Squaddie.

 

Adventure Overland Show 2016

It’s late September and here we are again driving Puffin to the Adventure and Overland show at the Stratford on Avon racecourse.

On the way we had called into the local clinic for our Flu jabs and returned some clothes to Marks & Spencer’s.

I like to be productive. I did think about dropping a load of rubbish at the local tip as we passed by, but they have height barriers.

I look forward to this show every year. It fuels my dreams, makes me want to travel more and perhaps push some boundaries.

The stands selling natural products made from leather and wood always draw me in.

I can wander the tools and parts stalls all day, trying to stop myself from buying that must have set of spanners.

Obviously the vehicles are the stars here and the mix is so varied.

I will just let the photos tell the tale.

The French made Gazell demount caught my eye. It’s being sold in the UK by SBS

SBS Adventure Campers

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There was a good turn out of Ex army conversions

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beetle

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This Unimog is Mowgli as seen on the blog

http://mowgli-adventures.com/meet-our-unimog-camper-named-mowgli/

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Cooking was high on my agenda. I was hoping to find the Hawkins pressure cooker. A simple, but effective cooker made in India since 1959. The small 2 litre capacity cooker would be ideal for our campervan allowing us the cook fresh local produce in a greatly reduced time. If there was one there, I didn’t find it.

Hawkins Pressure Cookers

I was also looking for a silicone mould for our Omnia oven, but it seems that Omnia don’t have any in stock in Sweden, let alone the UK.

 

 

 

 

I am a Cider drinker

This holiday post is a little late. We actually went away on 13th August. Better late than never.

The camp site had been booked months in advance because of the school holidays. Ruby was sleeping over at The feral daughters house.

The camper was packed to its limits with stuff that probably would not be used or required.

The reason for all this extra stuff was? We were going to Chard in Somerset taking our Granddaughter along for a week long camping trip. It’s been two years since she last went away with us and eleven year old girls need lots of stuff, or so I’m told. We will see.

Heading south on the M5 on Saturday morning is never going to be a pleasant affair and the usual travel time of 2 hrs 15 minutes turned into 4 hrs 30 minutes.

We had opted for a well tried and tested campsite. Alpine Grove is an excellent camp site set amongst the trees that we have visited many times before with our grandchildren and it has never failed to keep them active and happy

Alpine Grove

The first day always means a lot of fettling and resetting as I tweak the awning to get it just right. I’ve noticed that I’m not the only man on campsites that does this. The male species are builders of camps and if we were given the go ahead by our wives the next step would be hunting for our dinner. Luckily for the local wildlife we brought our own food.

Yes, the first night specialility made an appearance. Meatballs in a home made tomato sauce.

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Being the gentleman that I am, I let the girls have the comfort of the camper and I rediscovered my wild man roots and kipped in the awning. My back could regret that decision later.

I lay in the awning on the first night listening to a concert in the park blasting out from nearby Chard. The main group for the night were the Wurzels who played into the night. They had three encores and in each one they played “I’ve got a combine harvester” and “I am a cider drinker. Luckily, probably because of their age the concert ended at 11pm. I expect their beds were calling and before anyone calls me ageist, I’m about the same age and my bed had already called me.

The Wurzels

The week was spent relaxing whilst our granddaughter spent most of her time either in the swimming pool or making friends in the play area.

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We did some day trips out, but it soon became apparent that the parking facilities along the Devon and Dorset coast had changed since our last visit. Virtually all the car parks in the various towns banned any motor home/ campervan parking day or night. Our first visit to Lyme Regis was aborted as we couldn’t find any parking. I later searched the internet and eventually found a temporality park and ride for Lyme Regis on the Charmouth Road, which proved to be an excellent service for a later revisit.

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Six nights sleeping on an air bed in the awning was taking its toll on my aging bones and the weather forecast was for heavy rain on the Friday. We decided to leave the camp site one day early to avoid the rain and the Saturday morning traffic.

The rain arrived earlier than forecast and we had to break camp in the rain with a soaking awning.

After a fairly uneventful drive we arrived home and emptied all the stuff that we took with us and didn’t use.

 

Top Gear Cancelled

We were leaving today.

After using the last of our bacon supplies to make sandwiches for breakfast, we broke camp. It’s amazing how after only two days you forget how the awning was folded to get back into its bag. It’s at this point that you consider just wrapping the damp fabric into a big ball and hope to dry it at home.

No I didn’t. I folded it neatly into its bag, only to have to get it out again at home to dry it.

After all the arduous work repacking and two nights camping we perhaps should have invested 20 pence each in a shower or even shared a shower for 20 pence.

Oo!! Ere missus.

 

Puffin fired up first time with gusto using her new battery and it was time to see if my gear linkage bodge had worked.

Ha ha. First gear selected easily and we were rolling. Out the campsite gate and on to the open road. Second gear slipped in silently, then third and fourth. Unfortunately fifth gear was unobtainable. You can’t have every thing and it’s a lot easier driving without fifth gear, just a little slower, as 50 mph was the comfortable limit for the fourth gear.

O the joys of running a twenty year old campervan. If everything went exactly as planned where would the adventure be.