Busy week

Saturday 7th May

What a stunning house, or more precisely an old farm house built by zzzzzzzz in aaaa just outside the village of Lympsham, North Somerset.   Fair do’s to Jane and Dave working their way up the housing ladder to get here, mind Covid helped allowing Dave to change his office from London to the West Country.  

Hope Farm

Today there was great celebrations here.  Firstly all three holiday cottages were booked and secondly to a couple getting married and leaving here in an “iconic” classic old Land Rover  and for good measure the skies were blue, in fact shorts were the order of the day.  Apart from some food shopping and a tour around the “farm”, Saturday was a quiet day.

Hope Farm Cottages
Hope Farm Cottages

During the house move from Essex, somewhere along the way the “Littlejohn’s managed to acquire a new house pet, a very black Bunny Rabbit named “Truffles”.   He has a cage but has the freedom to roam the downstairs of the house at will, fortunately she knows where to do her “doings” so no mess!!!!!   The funny thing is, Truffles wants to be friends with Oreo (the dog) but every time Truffle enters the room, Oreo leaves it, quite funny😂😂😂.   

Truffles

Today we had arranged to view a couple of houses, 1-in the village of Mark and the second was in Burnham-on-Sea.   At the pre-arranged time we met up with “Rob” outside the “jungle” which surrounded the Mark bungalow and when we “scythed” our way to the front door, we weren’t disappointed, the place was a “bit-of-a-tip”, right up our street!!!  Apart from a big cleanup, to really improve the layout a few walls need to be removed and an extension to the side would be good.   It was a rather large corner plot with endless possibilities😂😂.  Our second visit in Burnham wasn’t so inspiring, a smaller bungalow and plot. The only thing going for it was a 4-car garage!!!   

Needs a bit of work, just up our street!

Having stopped our sale to the Germans, we have had to postpone our house hunting for the time ‘till we get new buyers; there’s no rush, we can wait.

Lovely!!!

Our evening was taken up playing Marjon.

Sunday 8th May

A busy morning, today was the day earmarked for clearing out the store room behind the kitchen.   We were aware of the previous owners clientele demographics, but clearing out the storeroom were surprised to find numerous pieces of disability equipment; they had sufficient of “everything”, and I mean “everything”, that would be needed for all three cottages!!!!   Anyway Jane has found a home for the majority of the equipment so nothing wasted.    By our reckoning this room was constantly “topped up”, over many years, but never emptied!   It took the four of us to empty, sort, do numerous tip runs, re-organise and put back the essentials.  We not only stored the essentials but also added Dave’s climbing equipment and their camping equipment and there is still room to move about and get something without having to move stuff.   We were so engrossed in this activity we all forgot breakfast🤭🤭🤭🤭

Prior to leaving Spain we had a bad-b-q, Bill and Jenny had brought a boneless leg of lamb that Bill cooked and it was delicious.  Whilst out yesterday, we acquired a boneless leg of lamb so marinated over night and this was going to be our Sunday Lunch but because of other “things” lunch didn’t happen until around 1800hrs, also part of the delay was the Bar-b-q, it was charcoal and as I’m used to gas, well you know the rest!!!!!  Yesterday Dave was on his new “toy” a tractor mower so with the newly mown lawn, and whilst I was cooking, Dave got out his Croquet and set the hoops around the garden.   

Dave cutting the lawn

As with the bar-b-q in Spain, we also thoroughly enjoyed the one here, so thank you Bill and Jenny for introducing us to boneless lamb done this way.   Being rather a large “slab” of meat, we assumed there would be enough for “cold” another day; “Wrong”, we devoured the whole joint it was so good, in spite of my poor cooking skills using charcoal.

After dinner we played Croquet, and the spirit of this game was certainly exemplified by all players, balls were knocked all around the “park”; still we were all friends afterwards😄😄.  The front lawn here is so big probably anything can be played on it!!!  The nice thing about this evening is we could all stay outside, the weather was kind to us.

Croquet on the lawn

Monday 9th May.

Monday morning we headed straight to Bristol.   I used to work in Bristol for a year before leaving Somerset; coming back after 55-years, I thought I was on another planet; everything has changed, roads, buildings, countryside and so on but thankfully Waze knew the way into the Broadmead car park, if it called that these days!!!!

Our mission was to sort Christine’s i Phone 13 out once and for all.  She bought it last December but couldn’t “fire” it up whilst in Spain, anyway a trip to the Apple Store followed by a visit to the O2 shop sorted it.   With most of the day taken up we eventually headed back toHope Farm.

Tuesday 10th May

Another nice sunny, warm day pottering around Hope Farm and doing various shopping trips etc.   Our time had been set aside to search for houses but with that now on hold we have a few spare days before we set off around the country, but tomorrow we will drive around the area to get an appreciation of the various villages etc,

I miss this countryside!

This early evening we went with Jane and Mia, plus their horses to a local ménage for some practice.  Mia confidently cantered round and round on “Shone” whilst Christine and I set up a jump for her, meanwhile Jane was schooling her new 17-HH horse “Jet”, preparing him for future competitions.   Once we had the jump up Mia kept jumping and we kept raising the bar: today was all about getting Mia’s confidence up following a fall sometime ago.  

Jane & Mia on their horses

Wednesday 11th May

Of all the days to rain, this was the one and also the one when we are driving around the county😩😩, so after breakfast and the school run, we dug out our anoraks and headed out, it was rather like being back in Spain, it was a “Gotta Fria”, most unexpected though believe it or not, they need the rain; the ground is so hard.

Lovely views spoilt by the rain

We headed into the Mendips driving through various villages before stopping at a pub for lunch including a decent pint of ale🥰🥰🥰, then on around the Blagdon and Chew Valley lakes before heading back to base.   Naturally as we were heading back, the rain stopped and the sun came out🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔.  Just as  we arrived back it was back into the car to follow the horse trailer once again, this time to watch Mia enter a competition arena and ride a competition course in preparation for Sunday’s event; hopefully the last couple of practice sessions will pay dividends.

Mia doing her first jumping class

Thursday 12th May

After the school run we went to look at apartments on the sea front in Weston-s-Mare, very nice and spacious but no garden, so a big no no, Christine does like her garden,  after we had a couple of errands to run after which we drove to Cheddar and up the Gorge onto the top of the mendips before returning through Burlington Combe, a smaller version of Cheddar Gorge.  Fortunately today is much brighter with the sun shining.

Cheddar Gorge

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Our journey to U.K.

Thursday 5th May

After another comfortable night in our 4-poster bed we headed out to Santander to catch the overnight ferry to Plymouth.   It has been many years since I regularly did this route, but the first time for Christine so a new experience driving up from that part of the world.

Before carrying on, we would just like to say a big thank you to Christine’s niece for telling us about Laguardia and recommending a visit; we thoroughly enjoyed our time here.  Apparently Marian came here whilst cycling through Spain and we struggle to believe anybody would cycle up and down all these mountains for pleasure; a big “well done” to Marian for this achievement.

Restaurant

The breakfasts at our hotel were very interesting.  Upon arrival into the restaurant we were served with a very attractive platter of food which included an assortment of continental meats, cheese, croissants and a variety of fresh fruits.  This was accompanied by toast and tomato “Frito”, Spanish style.  But if this was not enough, freshly cooked eggs were offered, cooked how we fancied them.; a feast indeed!!!

After “waddling” out of the restaurant we cleared our room, checked out and walked out of the town to collect our car, and headed out.

Laguardia, Vista aerea

With time on our hands we avoided all toll roads; a good decision.   The first part of our journey to Santander followed the “Wine Route”, winding our way around the various vineyards passing numerous “bodegas” and driving through small villages along the way all geared-up for growing and maintaining grape vines.

Fabulous scenery

Leaving the wine growing region we headed into the foothills of the Pyrenees, very different topography, winding “old fashioned” roads with numerous “hairpin bends”, following a stream of traffic including many HGV’s and nowhere to pass anyone; fortunately WAZE took these slow roads into her calculations so no pressure on time.

Once we arrived onto the east-west main road that by-passes Bilbao, the heavy traffic was more like a race track, but progress was rather stifled by speed cameras, they were every kilometre or so causing stop/go driving.  Still we arrived at the seafront where the Santander ferry port is but first we had to fill up, especially important after hearing the horror stories of fuel prices in the U.K., mind you, in reality they are heading that way in Spain.   Today was the first time “ever” we broke the 100€ milestone; the pump read 112€ something but thanks to the Government’s tax re-bate we settled on 98€ something: the “cents” mean little these days!!!!

Stunning

Checking in was a breeze followed by a cursory inspection of the car and we were queued and waiting.    The interesting thing was we had to hand over our passports well as the TIEs, we had been “told” our TIEs were all that was needed to leave or enter Spain: more fake news!!!   Apparently the TIEs are only to prevent the U.K. residents passports being stamped.

Boarding took place in the usual orderly manner but being first in the waiting lane made no difference, our lane was the last to drive-on and because of this we were right at the end at the top of the ramp so presumably we will be last off😩😩.

The ship, Brittany Ferries “Pont Aven” looks modern and the cabin appears comfortable and in Christine’s eyes, very good as there is a kettle with tea bags supplied, wow!!!  The other good news is all the restaurants are now working at pre-covid levels.

Leaving port we sheltered from the wind at the stern and enjoyed the sun before heading in to book a table.  The forecast was for a smooth crossing so all was good as we wandered around the ship to get our bearings.

Bubble man

After an excellent French meal in the restaurant we headed to the entertainment area and watched a remarkable act; a man blowing bubbles.  He blew big ones, small ones, bubblers within bubbles, bubbles with smoke and he even put a couple of audience participants into bubbles, it was a fascinating act and we enjoyed watching it.

Arriving in Plymouth

Friday 6th May

By the morning the anticipated position was just north-west of the Brittany coast,  but at 0830hrs we were well into the English Channel, helped no doubt by the exceptionally calm waters of the Bay of Biscay, anyway at this point the ship slowed down so as not to arrive too early!!!

Diss-embarking was fairly simple but slow due to Border control checking every passport carefully and though we we were stopped by customs, again😢, they didn’t search us.😀.  Once out of the dockyard we headed to North Somerset but en-route we stopped off at Geoff and Rowena’s in Exeter for a “cuppa”, though once we arrived, our “cuppa” turned out to be a light lunch, and very nice it was too.

Hope Farm

Next it was “hot-foot” up the M5 to Lympsham arriving at a respectable time around 1600hrs and was immediately taken on the tour of their new home .

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Laguardia

Wednesday, our day to explore began after a remarkably comfortable night in this weird room with the four poster bed, but it was very quiet, not too many guests me-thinks, so after a leisurely morning we ventured out into an overcast sky and wandered around the town.  

lovely narrow streets

Unfortunately with the overcast sky and low-level clouds, our vantage point wasn’t as expected and the Pyrenees were shrouded in cloud.   Still not perturbed we strolled through every street, nook and cranny and checked out each entrance gate into the walled town.

sculpture of bags and shoes in churchyard for the travellers

The thing that surprised us was the number of Bodegas here.  Around every corner was a Bodega and they all had their caves underneath, no wonder there are no vehicles allowed into the town: in fact we came across the commercial parking spaces for delivery vehicles and we saw delivery drivers with their barrows making deliveries!   I wonder how they manage with a load of building materials.  Still, whilst on our explorations we enjoyed coffee and cakes in one place (no Soberano👹👹), and a couple of local wines in another before venturing into a bodega for a first-class Menu del Dia. 

Laguardia ( Guardia in Basque ) is a Spanish municipality in the province of Álava , in the Basque Country, and is part of the Rioja Alavesa region .

It is located on a hill with commanding views and is surrounded by a wall built by a King Sancho el Fuerte de Navarra . Five access gates called Mercadal, Carnicerías, Páganos, San Juan and Santa Engracia are still preserved and Its streets and corners retain a great medieval flavour. The Laguardia economy and the area around is based on the wine industry, with its own production and numerous wineries.  Its extensive heritage has allowed it to belong to the association The most beautiful villages in Spain, and is the only town in the Basque Country to be in that association.

fabulous views from this point

This town is worth a visit but we were disappointed that it was so quiet, probably due to lack of parking facilities but hey, we thoroughly enjoyed our day here and tomorrow we head to Santander to catch the afternoon ferry, arriving in Plymouth in the morning.

Wow, miles and miles of grape vines
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The Trip Begins

Our long awaited trip to the U.K. was planned to start at 0800hrs this bright Tuesday morning, 3rd May but strangely we were out of the house and on the road by 0745; must have been excited.   

Firstly we had to drop Rosie at the motorhome dealer in Murcia, she had been booked in to have a generator and other useful bits of kit to make her fully “self-sufficient”, fitted.   So off we went in convoy and heading along the A7 suddenly Christine pulled in front and stopped me.   “What’s wrong I asked” we have forgotten our COVID certificates: “Don’t worry” I replied, “we have them on our ‘phones; so off we headed and halfway to Murcia I suddenly wondered if Christine had the passports as she normally looks after them so I stopped and asked the question; “xxx”, “xxx”, “xxx” was the expletive answer!! Followed by “NO”👹👹👹👹.    I “quietly” drove on towards the destination while Christine turned back to Campoverde to collect said items!!!

Our appointment was 0900hrs but I arrived at 0845, the 15-minutes we had gained earlier in the morning, unfortunately to no avail!!!!!   But fortunately Christine broke the sound barrier and we eventually headed on our way, passports and hard copies of our Covid certificates, “just in case” in hand.  Once out of Murcia we stopped for breakfast, then “bish, bosh, bash” we blasted our way to, then round Madrid before stopping for a Menu del Dia, goodness knows, where but it was very acceptable.

More vineyards

Mile after mile of tedious motorway is boring, but once clear of Madrid and away from duel carriageways we drove through some rather pretty, mountainous countryside, firstly with fields of oilseed rape then mile after mile of vineyards.   It would appear it is a rather large “Rioja”producing region, this is also born out by the number of Bodegas we saw.  Every village had 3 or 4 and most had magnificent buildings; obviously we all drink too much wine and the proprietors make so much they don’t know what to spend it on!!!

Laguardia, Vista aerea

Our destination for two nights is the Hospederia de los Parajes in Laguardia, apparently this is a very old building in the heart of the old medieval town and the only access to it is by foot.  We have to do a 5-minute walk from where one parks the car🥵🥵, still I have no doubt it will be worth it.

Inside Laguadia

Arriving outside the walls of the old medieval town we understood why we had to walk. The gateways were pretty narrow so managed to find a car parking spot and off we trundled.  Our guide was “WAZE”, so followed the route but WAZE is only geared up for cars, not pedestrians and soon realised there had to be a shorter route, so asked a local.   We immediately arrived at our lodgings, a beautiful building, right in the centre of the town.

our bedroom for the two nights

Our room, complete with 4-poster bed was unusual; we had cherubs each side of the bed, angled beamed ceiling, and unusual decorations with a partition for the dressing room and shower room; fortunately the toilet was separate!!!!!

Down in the underground cellars

Whilst completing the usual formalities we were given two tickets for a complementary wine taster in their caves which were situated 2-floors below ground level.  Upon arrival down in the bowls of the building we were quite amazed.   We were in caves, literally below our accommodation, there were passageways going deep into the caves, very unusual and the temperature of was a constant cold, just right for storage of wines.   It was here we appreciated how important wine producing is to this area and how most of the medieval town is built on top of ancient caves hence no vehicles, as it was told to us, too much weight could demolish the town as it fell into the caves below.

After our “taster” we headed out and blow me, we found another entrance into the town right in front of the hotel and you could see our parked car!!!! Not 5-minutes away, more like 2-minutes away😀😀

A quick drink accompanied with some Tapas followed by an early night was all we could handle tonight, but tomorrow we will have a good poke about

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The Great Escape

Thursday 6th January

Our day has arrived!  We had started the packing last night so this morning we only had the last few things, including the fridge etc.    Once complete we started to pack the car but It was very cold and snow was forecasted for around midday, so needed to get a move on.    Unfortunately the snow started earlier than forecasted so the last few things went in rather quicker bthan they should!!!h

Just as we were leaving the snow started

We had planned to do a “de-tour” to Wythall (nr. Birmingham) to view another motorhome, one we had seen on the internet so headed out, with heavy snow falling now.  Driving to Ashbourne was interesting, no salt, Virgin snow, and a fair amount of traffic made driving very un-pleasant and rather slow.   Once in Ashbourne we stopped again at M & S for a coffee whilst watching the snow still falling through the window.  At this point I ‘phoned the dealer and cancelled our appointment; a good job as it was also snowing there!!! When we were here the other day we noted M&S were selling off their surplus Xmas stocks, including Mince Pies at 18-pence for a box of 6 so today we bought 8-boxes thinking they would go down a treat at Dave and Jane.

Roads very slippery

Heading out of Ashbourne and arriving at the bottom of a “not-too-steep-a-hill”, there was a queue of traffic with a couple of HGV’s stuck up ahead and another turning round.   As he was coming down the hill we stopped the driver to find out the problem.  Apparently a car had skidded and the two lorries stopped, the car then carried on but the two HGV’s couldn’t get traction so we’re stuck!!!   Anyway most of the cars turned around but the AWD car in front of us, and the AWD car behind, just headed straight up and away!!!!!  Once on the A50 the snow turned to sleet and once heading south on the M1 it was raining.

We arrived at Janes mid afternoon, de-camped the car and set up the two settees as beds; no water bed for us!!!!!   As per Boris’ plan B, Dave was working from home but soon finished so we had a very jovial evening, firstly playing “Snakes-n-Ladders” with Mia, and after bedtime the four of us played “Marjon” followed by bed for us.

Friday 7th January

After a reasonably comfortable night on the sofas and breakfast we headed out to Romford,  Christine has her new iPhone 13 but it’s not completely set up so needs to go to an O2 shop to get the e SIM working.   I wanted to visit a Curry PC world store, time to update my iPad, but before all that I wanted to find a coffee shop; we only had decaf instant coffee at Jane’s. Oh yes, another visit to Tesco as we’re cooking tonight and tomorrow.

Unfortunately The stores in Romford are rather spread out, not within walking distance of each other so headed to O2 to sort the ‘phone.   Sat Nav took us to the shop with no problem, but it was their back door and unloading bay!!!!   We eventually found the relevant car park attached to the shopping precinct and walked into the shop.   It was immediately apparent the assistant was going to struggle, she knew about the e SIM but that was it!   I realised this was going to take some time so left and found a “Costa” shop around the corner.

Minding my own business and enjoying a coffee I saw Christine heading my way and when at the table said the O2 shop couldn’t help as the contract she had wasn’t straight forward, she needed to go to the original shop where the contract was taken out.   Returning to the car we stopped by several other places to “top-up” with a few things before heading to Curry PC World but once in the car with time running out we changed our minds; Tesco here we come.

Mia enjoying Jenga

Returning to the house after Tesco we decided “that’s it”, we’re not going out again ‘till we leave on Sunday.  When Mia returned we played “ Jenga and Ludo”, we’ve not played this for “donkey’s years”.   After dinner and Mia had gone to bed the four of us played “Mahjong”, again!!!

Saturday 8th January

A day of lounging for us and the other three went out for a bike ride in the cold and damp!!!  But during most of the afternoon we were entertained by Mia and Mason, (Mia’s friend), with their dancing and singing “performances”.

Mia and Mason

After a “full-on” roast lamb dinner, and clearing up was complete, we played Mahjong for the last time.   It is a sad thing, they only play when with us and we’re the same.   We both need to introduce others to the game!!!   The two little ones spent the evening engrossed with their games and we didn’t get a peep out of them.   Though they are only six, their instinct is to keep the noise down so the adults let them stay up!!!   When they eventually went to bed, they were immediately asleep.

Mia and Mason

Sunday 9th January

Today we head south,  but first we have to complete the bureaucratic forms the Spanish government wants to allow us back into the country and Dave has a printer!!

By late morning most of the paperwork was and printed off but the all important QR code wasn’t available ‘till the Monday, so after saying our good byes we headed towards Portsmouth.  Our plan was to enjoy a double bacon baguette at our normal place, “Oakham Bites” but upon arrival, the place was heaving; everyman and his dog was there, parking was a nightmare and the queue to get served stretched a long way so after a visit to the conveniences, we gave up and headed on our way, but very disappointed.  We knew it was a dog walkers paradise amongst the woods and common but wrongly assumed most people would have gone home for lunch; how wrong we were 🥵🥵🥵

Arriving back at Bill and Jenny’s we unloaded as much of the car as needed, including our well used and trusty duvet and decided in place of our bacon baguettes we would go for a curry.   The local Indian restaurant “Mela” in Horndean opened at 1700hrs and having been there before, knew it was good so didn’t have to wait too long.

After a pleasant meal it was good to get back into a “real bed” again; though the sofas were reasonably comfortable, they’d were no substitute for the real thing!!!

Monday 10th January

Our last day before the escape but we had a couple of particular jobs to do.  I needed to visit the Phillips site in Tangmere for a new face mask, and Christine has to go to her mobile phone contract provider to sort out her new ‘phone, their offices are in Fareham. But first, as we were now in the “window”, we could complete the Spanish Entry forms and get the QR codes.

Ok, bureaucracy satisfied and printed off we were on our way.  We arrived at the Phillips premises only to find them empty and all shut down; Christine had said she though the last time we went, several years ago, it would be the last time as they were moving; oops I should have listened; wasted journey and no new mask!!!  We now turned around and headed to Fareham but not wishing to waste our time rang to see if they were working.  What a good job we did as her ”regular” contact was working from home but the lady who answered the said she could help over the ‘phone, so I pulled into the first place I could to park whilst Christine sorted things over the phone; so far so good.   The lady advised us the changes could take up to 24-hrs to be implemented.

Farmers Inn

Midday and both tasks though not completed, has been undertaken so where to now, ah yes how about lunch.   We decided to go to the Farmers Inn, just up the road from where we were staying but after arriving and parking the car read the notice on the door;  closed, “reserved for a funeral party”, oh dear not our day, so decided to go to the “Bat and Ball” in Hambledon; fingers crossed they’re open!!!

Bat and Ball

As we walked in we were warmly greeted by “mine host” and presumably his wife but were spoilt for choice, unexpectedly the place was quite empty but it was late by now. Rather than go into the restaurant we stayed in the bar area, it was warmer!!!   After an excellent lunch with several pints of rather enjoyable “London Pride” we headed back home.   London Pride is a sponsor of the “British and Irish Lions” and their pint glasses have this on them so after a chat with the Landlord, I came away with one to add to my collection.

Bat and Ball

Tomorrow is an early start so got everything as ready as we could to save time in the morning.

Tuesday 11th January

The day of escape has arrived; up at 0600hrs, a quick breakfast then headed down to the ferry terminal in the “fog”; why not, we’ve endured every other sort of weather the U.K. can throw at us!!!

One of the two carriers that were in port

We arrived at the entrance to the terminal along with what seemed half of England, cars, motorhomes and trucks everywhere all escaping!!!    We produced all our paperwork with baited breath, you never know as the rules keep changing from day to day, but we’re relieved when it was returned with two cabin keys; we’re heading home, yeah.  This time we were waved past the customs house and as luck would have it we were one of the first cars to be loaded, this was great but the down side we’ll be one of the last to be unloaded.

Galicia

Today we are on one of Brittney Ferries newest ships, the “Galicia” and very comfortable it was.  The cabin had a TV, and the public areas were spacious and though the ship was full, it was only when one went to the restaurant did one realise there were so many people aboard.   The rest of our day was about playing crib and watching a couple of films.  When we booked we were horrified at the cost of this ferry but assumed due to covid and the reduced number of ferries running etc., it is what it is but to our surprise it included a 3-course evening meal and a continental breakfast in the morning; not all bad then!!!!!

Wednesday 12th January

After a very comfortable night, and bearing in mind the “Bay of Biscay” in the winter can be a diabolical place to be, it was like a mill pond, we were very lucky.   Yesterday we left Portsmouth in thick fog, this morning we woke up to blue skies, marvellous.   After a leisurely breakfast and a browse around the duty-free shop we cleared up our cabin and waited for the call to return to the car deck.

Sunshine yeah!

Another requirement which we hadn’t know about was that once in our cars and waiting, the crew came around and took all our temperatures, anyway another hurdle cleared, only immigration and customs left now.    

When we left in November and caught the ferry, the French border control official reminded us produce our Spanish Residencies upon returning, to ensure we don’t get our passports stamped.

We were convinced we would be one of the last cars to leave the ferry but through good fortune, our lane of cars had to go early to unlock all the rest; what luck!!   Through border control and no stamps in our passports,  and then sailed by customs and we were out of the Port of Santander and headed south.

SatNav told us the journey would take 8-hours and allowing for a couple of stops would get home about 0030hrs, so “pedal-to-the-metal” and off we went.

On long drives we each do a 2-hour stint and with a couple of short breaks the journey flew by and arrived back in Campoverde as planned, half past midnight.   It has been  7-weeks since we left and it felt good to be back.

                                              “Now we need to start planning our next trip” 

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Isolation part 2

Saturday, 1st January 2022

Not quite the new year celebrations we are accustomed to but that’s covid isolation for you, still what has to be done, has to be done!!!

I did my usual test, negative of course, Christine also did one hoping she would be negative but no, too early, it was positive so a not too disappointed Christine who is now feeling more like her old self, did a load of washing.

Nothing else apart from the usual, crib etc.

Sunday 2nd January

Again my test was negative and I was now beginning to think I might escape, though I don’t know why!!! Otherwise another similar day though glad to say Christine is improving by the day though sleeping is another story.    The legacy of her covid appears to be terrible catarrh and a nagging cough causing “sleep deprivation”, so last night she piled up cushions behind her pillows and slept upright, and I am pleased to say this worked for the majority of the night.

Of course during the course of the day we got snippets of information regarding Stonfield Castle from Leisha and David, it all sounded good and naturally we were “hissed off”, Still I’m glad they enjoyed themselves, just jealous as hell!!!

Ever since we sold our motorhome back in 2014, we have returned to the subject of owning one again on numerous occasions, only this time it had to be a smaller and mor powerful one.   The other consideration we had to take into account is that as we’re both over 70, we are restricted to a maximum GVW of 3500kgs.  With so much time on our hands, we scoured the country to try and find a suitable secondhand one for sale.   Our requirement apart from weight was it had to be a “left-hooker” and be “automatic”; rather like looking for hen’s teeth but we persevered.  Eventually Christine found one at a dealer in Newport, (Shropshire) and sent off an email.   Because of Covid, “staycation” seems to be the “buzz-word” and motorhomes are selling like “hot-cakes” but worst of all, it has jacked up all the prices!!!

Monday 3rd January

Hooray, Christine joined me with her first negative lateral flow test, a great relief, though I’m am still rather concerned I may catch it, but what will be will be!!  Marian has had two negatives, 24-hrs apart and has escaped today leaving Martin and Russell to isolate.   Of course the rules state there has to be 24-hrs between the two tests but I virtually had to sit on Christine as she was so excited to be through it, she wanted to escape!!!

This morning we had a ‘phone call from the motorhomes dealer, giving us additional information and asking if we were interested.   I explained our situation but assured him once clear we would be along.   

The rest of the day followed the same pattern other than we met up with Martin mid morning for a coffee and a brandy, yes I still had a bottle of Soberano left!!!!  Other than that, it was Crib, TV, some housework etc though Christine did take time to walk around the grounds and get fresh air though we had had quite a bit.  Every morning we flung open all the windows and doors to blow anything away that could be infectious.

Tuesday 4th January

A great ceremony took place this morning, we both did our tests hoping for two negative results and I’m pleased to say we they were, great rejoicing took place including a cooked breakfast!!!j

Yesterday Russell volunteered to clean our car, for a donation of course!!!, anyway after some tough negotiations he agreed to do both inside and out but oh dear what a day.   There was a heavy overnight frost and this morning it was bitterly cold so we did suggest he left it, but no.  “Fair do’s”  to him, he was outside, hose, bucket, hoover etc., and he got on with it and what a thorough job he did of it.  The last time it was this clean was probably the day it left the showroom; thank you very much Russell.  Today was also the first negative test he had after contracting covid.

Due to our negative results I was also able to commit to going to the motorhomes dealership, so phoned and made an appointment for Wednesday 5th.

By now the covid “tally” at Rockfield House was:- Marian and Christine two negative tests, Russell one Negative test, Martin still with a faint positive line and goodness knows why; haven’t caught it!!!!!

We both went to bed very happy though we did have to set an alarm for tomorrow!!!

Wednesday 5th January 

Our first day away from the house for what seemed an eternity and Marian joined us for our trip to Newport.   This morning Russell had had his second negative lateral flow test so had also escaped and gone to work whilst Martin had his first negative test, but still had to isolate,; oh yes, I was also negative!!!

Our plan was to get to the motorhome dealer and view the left-hooker with the automatic gearbox and hopefully, if satisfactory, do a deal.  On the way home we were going to stop at “Pasta du Piazza”, an  Italian restaurant we like in Stone (Staffordshire) as a thank you to Marian for offering us one of her holiday cottages to isolate in.

We hit the road around 0930hrs but the going was slow as there had been a little snow and a heavy frost, so slippery roads until we left the Peak District.   The rest of the journey to Newport was generally slow as we seemed to be going “cross country”, no major roads to use, and there was quite a lot of traffic all throwing up “muck” from the surface, onto our nice clean shiny car that Russell had put so much time and effort into cleaning it.

We arrived and immediately went to look at the vehicle we had been interested in but alas, it didn’t match our expectations.    Whilst there we looked at several others but two of them had possibilities, both different but with pluses, so it was time for a coffee at the adjacent garden centre to “mull-over”  the pros and cons.

One was a small traditional motorhome with a fixed bed etc., the other was more like a camper van, much more like a car to drive but therefore far less inside space, though it did have that all important piece of equipment, a compact shower and loo.   Our conclusion was the traditional one: though it was 15-years old it had only done 8500 miles since new, and looking underneath it was apparent; an unmarked chassis, in fact it was most probably kept in a warm/dry barn or similar.  The inside also in excellent condition and though it was old, it carried a premium price tag and no matter what we said, the dealer wouldn’t budge on price.  We already knew “staycation” was the new preferred holidaying arrangements and because of this, there is a shortage of nice motorhomes for sale.

After having another good poke about and chat with the salesman, we were very keen mainly due to its excellent condition, we’d even accepted it’s right a hand drive with a manual gearbox!  We left muttering about the price telling him we would be in touch.

We now headed back to Stone for our Italian meal.  We knew they closed at 1500hrs and we were later than planned, but with a fair wind and a heavy right foot we would make it.  1430hrs and we arrived at the Restaurants’s back door, so Christine jumped out whilst Marian and I parked the car by the canal car park only to see a “for-lawn” Christine walking over, the restaurant was closed today, oops!!!!   We drove around Stone looking for somewhere but no, nothing open or available so a re-think was necessary.

The Manner’s Restaurant

We came up with our plan B; we’d head back towards Flagg but stop en-route for a cuppa and a bun.  The chosen place to stop was the café in Marks and Spencer, Ashbourne, and whilst there came up with plan “B+1” we would head to the “Manners”, a pub with a very good restaurant and it opened at 1700hrs; just right.     We all enjoyed a very good meal before heading back to Rockfield house.

Back at the house Martin and Russell joined us for a coffee and a couple of “covid busting” drinks; I am convinced Soberano has been the key to my success in avoiding covid!!!    

Tomorrow we escape our very nice prison; Marian and Martins holiday cottage has been our salvation and a better place to isolate I cannot think of; thank you both again.

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