Archives for the month of: October, 2013

We drove another couple of hours to Rowsley in the Peak District where we overnighted in a mediocre camping site.
In the morning we went into Bakewell (yes the pies), a quaint little village before driving a few kilometres to explore Chatsworth House and gardens (where parts of Pride and Prejudice was filmed). It is a spectacular property.  The house was stunning and the garden – all 105acres of it was beautiful with undulating hills, fountains and a maze.  The sculptures in the grounds which were on display for six weeks were also very interesting. The whole property was well worth seeing for the 14pounds entry fee.
We spent a good few hours exploring the house and wandering around the beautiful gardens.
We then went via Nottingham to a wonderful (adults only) delux camping site called “Eye Kettleby Lakes”.  The facilities were as good as a 5star hotel.  A pity it rained from the time we got there until the time we left the next morning back to Hitchin to see our friend Barry before heading to Wokingham and Clapham to see friends later in theh week.

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We found our way back to Hitchin on Saturday 12th October where our campervan was bought 6months ago.
The owner and staff are most obliging. We had a couple of minor fix ups to be done in the van.
On Sunday we met up with our friends from Perth, Colin and Kandy at their friend’s place in Dunstable.
It was a rainy and cold day so it was nice to spend the afternoon with them after they kindly treated us to a very good Indian meal at a local restaurant.
Chris a most obliging person living  at the caravan place took us down to the train on the Monday where we caught the train into London 35pounds return for the two of us which took about 40minutes. We made our way to the Indian Visa office to lodge our applications where a computer problem caused us to wait 2hours longer than our appointed 1pm time. There were also about a hundred other people in a stuffy large room.
We should/hope get our passport with visas back in about 2weeks.
We took the tube to Victoria where we met up with Maria Eivers for drinks at the Goring hotel (a very posh hotel which the Middletons booked out for the night before Kate married Prince William)
From there we went to a great Thai restaurant called the Mango Tree before saying goodbye to Maria and catching the tube back to Kings Cross and then the train back to Hitchin.
On Tuesday while our van was having minor adjustments Maurice and I walked into Hitchin old town which took about 45minutes where we did some shopping and had lunch.
The old town of Hitchin is very interesting with many very old buildings and also lovely cafes and quirky restaurants.
We took Chris and his wife Maureen to the Hermitage  for dinner. They have been so helpful to us while at Hitchin caravans.
Things here in England are also supposed to be tough with many small businesses having closed their doors but like all over Europe the cafes and restaurants are bursting with people.
We set off for Whitby in the north on wednesday via Newark, Lincoln and the Humber Bridge and then onto Scarborough. It was a cold 9 degrees and raining which didn’t let up for the whole day. Scarborough has a large number of amusement parlours on it’s waterfront with a lot of flashing lights. Not very appealing.  The sea was very rough.

We drove on to Whitby and had fish and chips which were recommended at a place called Hadleys. Everyone we talked
to said that we had to have fish and chips in Whitby but we were disappointed by the very greasy battered fish and refried
chips. We did complain and they took something off the bill which showed that they thought they weren’t up to scratch either! We arrived at the “Sandfield house farm” caravan park in the dark about 6.30pm. It is a lovely site overlooking the cliffs and the sea. Our campervan shook all night with violent gusts of wind and lots of rain.
Right opposite the caravan park is the Whitby gold club which is overlooking the sea and a wonderful position.  I should imagine the wind would make for very interesting games!
We awoke the next day to brilliant sunshine and 16degrees which over the course of the day went up to 19degrees with Maurice even taking his jumper off. We first set off to the Cafe at the garden centre which overlooks the town in the distance.
I had last been in Whitby with mother nearly 20years ago and the old town looked the same with the old ruins of Whitby Abbey on the south side with spectacular views of the north part of town and the coastline.
The weather was so nice that we wandered around for over 3hours. I bought a pair of fur lined skeechers (like ugg boots) to keep my tootsies warm and we came across the Whitby fish shop where we bought a container of fresh white meat crab for 3.85pounds. We made up a sandwich and enjoyed the very fresh tasty crab.
Some houses on coast look like something out of a Jane Eyre novel.
We walked on the south side around Whitby Abbey and then to the north side to Captain Cook’s memorial and around the hilly streets.

I met Captain Cook there who was advertising a local restaurant.
We made the most of the weather and drove to Saltburn another lovely coastal town and Sandsend where the sea was pretty rough and lashing up over the road.

We were back tucked up in our campervan by 6pm as the temperature had dropped after sundown.  Friday was a cloudy and cold day so we spent it doing the housework – cleaning the van and washing clothes at the caravan park.

On Saturday we left Whitby and drove down through the desolate and very foggy in places Yorkshire moors to Rillington about an hour away to see Gillian the wife of my mother’s first cousin Gerry (deceased) whom I last visited with mother 18years ago. She is a very young 80 and had just returned from a week driving around Turkey. She cooked us a lovely lunch and we spoke about travel for the next few hours as
she has travelled to many places we want to visit like Russia and Uzbekistan.

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On Friday the 11th October We drove towards Dorset from Devon and through Dorchester on our way through to Poole.  There is a vast new housing development on the way to the old town which must have cost the earth but is very much in keeping with the style of the old town.  It was unusual to see in this day and age.

From Dorchester we made our way to “Clouds Hill” the home of T.E Lawrence after his Arabian adventures. It is a lovely little cottage and there is much information about his life and times and very informative guides in the tiny cottage and garage.  It had started sprinkling as we arrived at the caravan park near Poole so we kept dry and snug with our heating on.   We had our fresh fish and zucchini for dinner and listened to the rain and wind.

In the morning the weather had cleared and we drove in bright sunshine into Poole for a coffee and saw the small inner harbour with it’s multi million dollar boats and then the vast outer harbour with hundreds of sail boats.  Sandbanks on the other side of the harbour reminded us of Perth with very similar large coastal houses.  We continued on to the “Rufus Stone” in the “New Forest” a vast forest and open grassy meadows with a lot of squirrels, donkeys and horses dotted around the the very large forest.  It is a beautiful area.

We went on to Winchester to see the Cathedral and the Great Hall and the historic old town which was bustling with locals and tourists.  It was still warmish (with our coats on) and we sat in the sunshine and had another coffee and shared a good Cornish pasty.

We left Winchester and headed north to Hitchin for a couple of days rest at the caravan sales office and to catch up with Kandy and Colin from Perth on Sunday in Dunstable.

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The drive down to Torquay from Holyhead in brilliant sunshine after a very smooth crossing on the Stena ship was very relaxing on the Sunday apart from an hour’s holdup in the motorway. The rest of the drive down to Devon was very picturesque.  We booked into the Beverley Caravan Park in Paignton (a 10minute drive from Torquay) and Michael and Ruth picked us up and took us to the “Berry Head hotel” for dinner.  It is a beautiful old Georgian building on the tip of the bay, high up on the cliffs with a spectacular view back to Torquay.

Day 2 To Dartmouth over the Dart river and down to Slapton sands or Ley which was the site of practice for the D day landings.  Weather near the Darmoor national park foggy but not a cold day.  Went to a quaint little cafe on the water in Torquay and dinner at the Osborne hotel where Michael and Ruth have their timeshare .  A good meal.

On Tuesday the 8th October Michael and Ruth picked us up and we drove to Brixham, a picturesque fishing village about 20minutes from Torquay. We were staying in Paignton in a wonderful caravan
park which was more like a resort. We wandered through the town and along the pier. The day started off very sunny and warm but it soon got fairly cloudy but not cold. Brixham is a very well looked
after town with many volunteers who have worked over the last eight years in and around the town and gardens. We bought two enormous crabs to have later for dinner which fed four of us amply.
We then drove over to Cockington – a lovely old village, some of it dating from Norman times where we walked around the gardens and looked at the beautiful little church in the vast grounds.
We had some lunch sitting outside as it was a very mild day.
The evening was spent eating fresh crab and salad followed by fresh raspberries. Very delicious.
Maurice and I have been making the effort to walk in the mornings the last few days and we have done a lot of walking around the lovely grand Georgian houses and vast gardens.
We went over to Torquay on Wednesday and transferred to the range rover for the drive to Coleton Fishacre, the D’Oyly Cart’s house and gardens in South Devon. The large house is decorated in art deco style and it looks as though someone still lives there with everything in it’s place.  Even the magnificent AGA cooker was alight and warmed the whole kitchen. It has been well tended by the National Trust. The house overlooks the sea and the vast gardens which wind down to the sea have an amazing array of well established foreign trees and plants, some sourced from Australia, South Africa, South America and Asia.
This small area has a micro climate which is very mild.

In the 1920s Rupert and Lady Dorothy D’Oyly Carte were sailing along the South Devon coast looking for a country retreat.  They were inspired to make this beautiful valley running down to the sea the site for an elegant home. Here they could entertain in style and indulge their passion for the outdoors.  Rupert was the son of Richard D’Oyly Carte, the impresario behind the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan. He developed the business empire he inherited, including the Savoy Hotel and Claridges in London.
Another beautiful house and garden is “Greenway” Agatha Christie’s holiday home overlooking the Dart river. It was built in 1792 for George the 3rd and the original Georgian house was extended at both ends.  That houses an enormous array of porcelain, paintings and first editions of Agatha Christie’s books as well as recordings of her interviews.  In the garden is one of the many gorillas of the “Great Gorilla Trail”.  Great Gorillas is a celebration of 90 years of conservation at Paignton Zoo aimed at engaging communities with a mass exhibition of public art to raise awareness and funds to help the Cross River gorillas of Nigeria, the world’s most endangered species of gorilla and in danger of extinction.  These gorilla sculptures are dotted all around Devon and will be auctioned at the end of the exhibition.
We can tell Autumn is here by the cool breeze on Wednesday and the changing colour of the trees and plants.

We had dinner at “Old Vienna” on the Wednesday and the owner and chef Werner Roth was a real character and cooked us all wonderful meals of Venison, chicken, pork and an authentic apple strudel
for dessert.
The coastal towns here in Devon are just beautiful – pity about the temperatures now – and the countryside is also a beautiful patchwork of red and green. The soil is very red.

Exmouth where we drove the next day has some of the few sandy beaches in England and a few small dunes as well. This is where
Queen Victoria used to holiday. The day was lovely and sunny but 10degrees only with a freezing wind from the Arctic so we left out the beach walk and headed for to the lovely village of Sidmouth
on the coast where we had lunch. The red cliffs there were quite spectacular and it is sad to see the cliffs starting to recede into the sea.  After lunch we were so cold we decided to go back to Torquay
where there was less wind and the sun was shining. Maurice and I did some retail therapy at our favourite shop – TK MAX
and then had a coffee in Hoopers where we had a wonderful view of Torquay harbour.
We watched the “Hairy Biker’s baking tour of Europe” back at the Osborne and we all ate downstairs before heading back to Paignton.
The locals in Devon have a very strong accent and sound like pirates. “AAr me auld hearty”.
We got up ealy on Friday 11th October to a cold biting wind but sunny day again and after doing some housekeeping and washing of clothes set off for Poole.
We went via Axminster where we stocked up on some fresh fish – “Pollock – similar to Hake or Cod” and vegetables at wonderful Miller’s farm shop which had an amazing array of goods from French cheeses to Swedish crispbread and everything in between.
Devon has a wonderful selection of fish and shellfish from enormous crabs to mussels, oyster, cockles, scallops, rollmops and welks.

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We arrived in Wexford to drizzly weather but it didn’t matter as we were inside most of the time catching up with our friends Fritz and Vincent at the Friary where I cooked them all  Wiener schnitzel and Brat Kartoffel.  We stayed a couple of nights with Barry and Louise and their two delightful daughters Sarah-Kate and Leila so had a lovely few days in Wexford despite the weather.  Barry and Louise are very busy preparing for the 11day shows in the Spiegel tent starting on the 23rd October in Wexford.

Leaving Wexford we got the news that Peter my teacher friend of over 30years and Maurice’s friend died suddenly on the 1st October.  He emailed me the day before he died so it was a big shock.  A sad and lonely end  after dedicating his entire life to helping so many young people with their education and employing people and looking after them financially over his 30 odd years in Indonesia.  He was unable to keep his teaching position as he had turned 71 and had to move back to Bali at the same time.

Back in Dubiln the weather was the same but again it didn’t matter as we were not sightseeing.  We had a lovely meal with Brigid  O’Brien (another of Maurice’s cousins) before heading for Ballivor and Mary again to prepare for the 30th birthday party for her twins.  We got stuck into the preparation and cooking of 2 hams,6 kilos of beef bourguignon, 7 layered salad, pumpkin salad, loaves of garlic bread, trifles, lemon cheesecake and a birthday cake.  Three of us managed it all and Mary very kindly treated me to a pedicure which I even had time for the day of the party.  Maurice was a bit out of action (no washing up or cutting up of vegetables) after taking the very top off his middle finger with a mandolin cutting potatoes.  We bandaged it up as best we could and  an examination by Jennifer (a nurse) the next day and quick trip to the pharmacy where the chemist was pleased with the wound, a new dressing was administered and Maurice was told to stay away from the spuds!    The party was a great success and it was lovely to be with a big family – Mary, her six children and their partners, her granddaughter Beatrice and other family and friends.  I stayed up chatting with Mary and her daughter Jennifer until after 2am.

Saturday 5th October was a beautiful warm sunny day and we drove back to Dublin in the late afternoon and stayed in Dalkey again (Caroline and Barney were in Nice) and left Ireland at 8.20am on the Stena line to Holyhead in Wales and for  the 5hour drive down to Torquay to be with Michael and Ruth who have a timeshare down there.

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