Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200105 England France

Tuesday 1 May 2001  Join Claire to take Daniel to school.  At the moment he only goes mornings but will full time in September.  Take Natasha into Keighley for a Keighley News "Bonny Baby" competition photo.  Nati spends most of her time toddling around smiling but the minute she is sat down in front of the camera the smile disappears not to be replaced until we give up.  A repeat evening baby sitting.
Wednesday 2 May  Down to Keighley after lunch to make a start on a few business matters. Luckily the library still offer free use of the Internet which sorts some problems and produces others.  Park up at Sandra’s where she has given us a key to her conservatory where we can plug into the electric and use the washing machine.  With a water hose outside and a bus stop opposite it’s a great set up for us.  Tonight Sandra is taking us out for a Mexican meal in Skipton.  This is instead of the meal she was going to take us for in Morocco but couldn’t as she had an upset stomach. She phones from work to say there may be a problem tonight and I reply "Oh yes, and what’s your excuse this time, make it a good one".  Talk about going in feet first.  Sandra’s Mum went to hospital this morning for a check up but was immediately admitted with high blood pressure.  Sandra wants to visit her after work and is also concerned about her imminent holiday.  At 6.00am tomorrow she sets off for Miami to pick up a 2 week cruise to San Diego.  The news from the hospital is good and although they are keeping her Mum in to stabilise and then reduce her blood pressure it is not life threatening and everyone says Sandra must go on her holiday.  Settle for a Balti take away in Sandra’s house whilst we hurriedly catch up on our news.
Thursday 3 May  Call in for an MOT and Steve’s told you have to book in advance and the earliest spot is May 17th.  At Drivelodge motorhomes they think they can fit the sun roof but the heavens opening up puts paid to it being done today as we are too big to fit in their garage.  Back to the MOT station where I exercise my feminine wiles and persuade them to fit us in for next Tuesday.  Well the guy obviously wasn’t gay as Steve got nowhere.  Pass a few more hours nibbling away at tasks on the phone and in Keighley.  At 3.30pm drive to Riddlesden where Richard and Sharon have moved.  Lauren and Kieren have grown a lot but Lauren still remembers us.  Stop for tea and also a welcome soak in the bath (our first this year). After returning to Sandra’s Richard picks Steve up in the car to go to bowling whilst I get on with more washing.
Friday 4 May   Make good use of the facilities available at Sandra’s and do a bit more business in town in the afternoon
Saturday 5 May  Pick up Claire, Daniel and Natasha to take them with us to the Motorhome and US RV Show at Harrogate showground.  £30 admission means we can camp until Tuesday, go into the show as many times as we want and watch the entertainment provided in the evenings.  Steve’s sister Lisa, husband Mick and daughter Sian are camping nearby and meet up with us in the showground.  The show itself is poor with only about 1/4 of the stalls there were last weekend and nothing to entertain children.  Retreat to the van where we use Mick’s new windbreak to fence off a "playpen" on our Moroccan mat.  The BBQ comes out and we pass the afternoon drinking, chatting and eating.  We have a good view when the stunt plane flies over and Daniel enjoys watching the tractor towing vans off the field.  The kids are tired and both asleep early so Claire and I go out alone to check out the evening entertainment.  All we can find is a bar type area but no sign of entertainment so we return and watch the 9.30pm fireworks display from the warmth and comfort of the van
Sunday 6 May  Up and at it by 6.00am with Natasha putting out the early morning wake up call.  We’ve had rain in the night which has dripped through the air conditioning unit so Claire has a wet bed and it takes us a bit to sort ourselves out.  After a quick return visit to the show we catch the free sightseeing bus at 11.00am.  Daniel is sound asleep on my knee before we reach Fountains Abbey so Steve, Claire and Natasha get off to explore but there’s still time for me to look around after Daniel wakes up.  It’s only a 1 hour stop so not worth paying the fee to go to the abbey but there’s time to look at the display room.  Back on the bus it’s Natasha’s turn to fall asleep on me leaving Steve, Claire and Daniel to get out at Ripley Castle but with strict instructions to bring me back one of the recommended ice creams.  Back at 2.30pm we set up our 2 new windbreaks to completely enclose our 6m mat.  Unfortunately it’s too cold to spend long outside.  Ask Daniel if he wants to go home but he says he has come on holiday for 2 sleeps and won’t go home until he’s had them.  We all set out to find the evening entertainment and tonight there are signs directing us through the bar we went to last night and along a corridor to a hall.  A brass band are playing and Daniel loves it especially swaying his arms to "Land of Hope and Glory".  Natasha is also good and has a bit of a dance on my knee and claps at the end of each song.  Daniel’s shattered and falls asleep going back in the push chair whilst Natasha nods off on Claire’s shoulder.
Monday 7 May  Don’t know how Natasha manages to be so bright and bouncy at 6.00am but the rest of us aren’t.  It’s a cold start again and having exhausted all possible things to amuse the kids we pack up and take them back to Haworth.  Back to Sandra’s and a chance to get the weekend bedding washed and dried as it is a sunny day but with a cold wind.  Reckon Sandra’s neighbour must think I’m taking in laundry.  Invite Ray & Margaret to join us for a BBQ late afternoon.  They bring their Aussie photos and videos which makes us very Aussie home sick.  We crack up watching the video as Ray borrowed the camera from a friend and most of the first hour is "footage" of his feet walking along paths and Ray humming.  By the end he has improved greatly and even zooms in and out and fades the picture.  Get a phone call from David to say he is splitting up with his girlfriend and when he comes to visit us on Saturday he will be homeless and jobless.  Having just made headway helping Claire with problems this is all we need.  Oh the joys of parenthood.  Brings to mind the advert saying "a dog is for life not just for Christmas", well replace dog with child and that’s a bit more like it. 
Tuesday 8 May  Awake at 6.00am but today I turn over and go back to sleep until 7.30am.  Back to Drivelodge to try and get the bathroom sun roof fitted whilst it is not raining. Steve’s just finishing removing the old roof when he remembers the new sun roof is in Sandra’s garage stored there when we cleared the van out to make room for the kids at the weekend – bugger.  After picking it up and a good hours labour later progress is made and the sun roof in situ for a reasonable £30.  There’s a tyre place nearby and we just ask him to glance at ours to make sure they are OK for the MOT.  He thinks a front one may fail so replaces it with the brand new spare and orders a matching one for the other front wheel to be collected on Thursday when we return to this industrial estate for the van service.  With little time to spare it’s round to the MOT testing station.  Having handed over the £34 fee we are issued with a clipboard holding a long list of checks to be completed.  The inspector comes over and we start the assault course.  It’s like being put through an exam yourself as we progress through the garage and proceed from simple checks like the lights to brake checks on a rolling road.  Cringe as he has us revving up and braking far more severely than we ever do.  The inspector scowls and asks for a number of tests to be re done especially when we keep being thrown off the rolling road.  He finally asks us to move out of the garage and park in a spot ominously marked "repairs" before meeting him in the office.  Feeling rung out we plod over to the office.  Without cracking his face he begins to write out the pass certificate at which point we both heave a sigh of relief.  We quiz him and he says we have a good strong van and it’s fine.  The test results chart shows we passed all the tests that have a percentage pass very easily and he also says he didn’t see anything that might cause us any problems within the next year – great.  Just arriving back in Keighley the brakes start to make a grinding noise and judder.  Nip to Ray’s garage where he says he thinks the brake pad has gone and needs immediate attention.  Although he says the MOT couldn’t have caused it we think the hard brake testing finally polished the shoes off.   Well this is about par for the course as it seems for every two jobs we get done one more emerges.
Wednesday 9 March  At 8.00am Steve drops me off to hang around for my 9.15am doctors appointment whilst he drives to David Copperwaites.  We were booked in for a major service tomorrow but he is kindly squeezing us in today in order to deal with the brakes as well.  I kill time before walking to the doctors where as usual Doctor Wilson is more keen to talk about our travels than get on with issuing me with a prescription for a years stock of medicine.  He lived in New Zealand 20 years ago and is going back this year to do a motorhome tour.  He asks where we are staying and if he can visit us to chat even more.  After doing a bit of shopping I catch the bus to Bradford £1.  The city hall is a magnificent building and now the site of the Tourist Information Office.  Bradford has come on in leaps and bounds and wonderful for tourists with lots of museums, interesting buildings and many leaflets of themed walks.  Bogged down with my heavy shopping I take a short stroll then head into the library to check my E-mail.  They have 2 computers on each floor and you have to check them all individually for availability.  On the 2nd floor a young Asian girl stops me and asks if I can spare 5 minutes to be on video for her college project.  I’m killing time anyway so agree but feel very strange when left in a large room alone with a camera.  She says I can either sit on the chair in front of the camera and talk to it or just do anything.  Make a note of the time and begin by inspecting the room with fine views over the city.  Eventually sit down and declare that if this is a Jeremy Beadle it’s a good one and I hope if anyone is watching in another room they are having a good laugh but to make sure I tell a joke.  Sit and mooch a bit more then sit and tell the camera a little about myself and contemplate doing a moony but resist.  Notice well over 5 minutes have passed so try to leave but the door I entered by and 3 others appear locked.  Tell the camera I’ve had enough and want to leave but nothing happens.  At this point Steve phones and asks where I am -oh boy do I feel stupid telling him.  He reports Copperwaites are making steady progress on Charlie but have had to send out for new brake pads and to get the shoes skimmed. He suggests I start hammering on the door and shouting to get myself out.  I try asking the camera again just in case it is being monitored from outside.  Having tried all the doors again I begin banging and shouting "Hello" at the one I came in by.  Shortly after the girl opens the door.  I tell her that I didn’t reckon much to being locked in the room for 10 minutes and why didn’t she come back.  She says the door wasn’t locked but just heavy and sticking and that she told me to leave after 5 minutes anyway.  I quiz her a bit more about what she is doing but can’t make head nor tail of it but understand the tape could end up being shown around universities and possibly on TV.  After my Internet session I call in to reception to report that I think a lot of people would be intimidated by the camera project and she agrees with me and says she will speak to the girl.  She comments that I am only the second person of the day to agree to it – good to know there are only a few fools around.  It’s a bit of a walk to the Pennine breast screening clinic where I have an appointment for an annual mammogram having joined the programme for checking women in their early 40’s.  Emerge in a gown to wait next to a buxom lady who is complaining the gown won’t reach around her.  Glance down and notice mine wraps around me twice.  Still she won’t have my disadvantage of small boobs when they have a problem finding enough to fill the x-ray plate.  From the clinic I enjoy the walk in the warm sun to the university where Nancy is giving me a lift home.  Rod and Nancy are coming to tea so we pick up Rod on the way to Keighley.  I’m cooking beef so that leaves loads of time for pre dinner drinks and chatting.  Round off the evening with yet another hilarious game of "Know your partner"
Thursday 10 May    
Re stock my aromatherapy oils from the outlet in East Morton before heading to Claire’s.  Daniel and Natasha’s bedrooms have velux roof windows and the light is waking them up early in the morning. I set abut making blinds with black out materiel.  It’s another glorious day and we take it in turns to sit outside and mind the kids.  Nancy suggested we girls also go ten pin bowling so when the lads go off for pre bowling snooker we go with Sharon for a pre bowling drink.  Re group at bowling and whilst the league is in progress Steve, Andy, Sharon, Nancy & I bowl on the other lanes but achieve scores too appalling to report.  Reckon we had both consumed too much alcohol and were having too much of a laugh to concentrate.
Friday 11 May   Steve pops back to Copperwaites to have the new tyre fitted and settle the bill.  The total for the new tyre, service plus brakes is only just short £500.  To think we could live for 10 weeks on that in Morocco.  Spend the rest of the day sunbathing in Sandra’s garden with a brief visit from Doctor Wilson or Neil as he now asks us to call him.  Wonder if it’s being booked down as a house call.
Saturday 12 May  Off down town early for rendezvous with both Claire and David.  Now this is where the mobile phones do come in handy.  Having met up with Claire we park for Daniel and Natasha to do some painting and things at a festival being held in the square.  David phones and shortly after meets us there.  Daniel gets very confused as David is just like Steve in looks and mannerisms.  Claire and the kids come back to Sandra’s until Daz picks them up dropping Steve back down town to meet David to watch the Liverpool match in the pub and leaving me alone to spend a lovely quiet afternoon sunbathing.  Liverpool beat Arsenal in the FA Cup final 2-1 which pleases the lads.  In the evening we put on a simple sausage sizzle for Claire, Daz and the kids, Andy, Richard, Sharon, Lauren and Kieren.
Sunday 13 May   David is joining us for lunch so I get up late at 8.30am.  It’s a bit of a surprise to find David roll up and even worse to see him with a busted lip.  At the night-club last night he went to the toilets and burst in on a fight taking place.  It was one of the blokes he used to work with who accidentally hit David.  His lip is a bit of a mess so Steve gets up and we drive over to Airedale hospital to find that there is a 4 to 5 hour wait in casualty.  David reckons he will be better off getting himself back to Prestwich and going to hospital there so we drop him at the bus stop.  Have used almost all our tank full of diesel so we reluctantly buy some at 75.4p a litre, the most expensive in Europe.  Richard and Sharon put on a BBQ in the afternoon and it’s lovely to be outside enjoying the sunshine.  Speak to David to find he got seen quickly at hospital and they put a couple of stitches in his lip.
Monday 14 May   Rain in the night reveals a leak in the new bathroom roof, that’s all we need.  Back to winter with a cool miserable rainy day.  Claire drops Natasha with us whilst Daniel goes swimming.
Tuesday 15 May  More rain so maybe time for us to be heading south.  Make it as far as Claire’s to be enlisted for baby sitting in the evening.
Wednesday 16 May  At last the rain has stopped and after saying our Good-byes we head to the Midlands.  Typically rain starts again around Manchester.  Call to say Hi to Mum then round to the Spooners for tea and for Steve to enjoy watching Liverpool win the UEFA Cup 5-4.
Thursday 17 May  Return to the swimming baths car park with the mountain of paperwork collected from Netty’s.  Do a few jobs around town and enjoy lunch at Mums where it is good to see her looking well and ready for her trip to Canada.  Unfortunately Auntie Joan has had a fall which needed a plate put in her hip but she is making a good recovery and should be home by the time Mum arrives.  By sheer coincidence one of Mum’s new singing pupils works at Mentors which is the company who rents our cottage.  Pop over to meet Ann and discuss a few things.  Mum & John join us for a meal in the van in the evening.
Friday 18 May  After more odd jobbing we return to Netty’s for Bobby and Nic to spend the night in the van with us.
Saturday 19 May  Get up late after our late night.  Make use of the hose pipe to give the van a good clean outside.  Join Netty & Bobby for a visit to Telford town centre but don’t manage to get the things we need.  Steve stays behind to watch Liverpool beat Charlton to guarantee third place in the league and entry into the champions league.  Back at the swimming baths car park Pete & Carol and Paul & Elaine join us for an evening BBQ accompanied by the usual good conversation and lots of laughs.
Sunday 20 May  Round to the Spooners for lunch then back to the car park for an evening BBQ with the Spooners.
Monday 21 May 
A nice morning.  Head to Travelworld in Wolverhampton where they agree there is some sort of problem with the van chassis.  Leave it for them to set up a conference telephone call with the motorhome and the chassis manufacturers.  Call in to Mentors in Dawley.  They are the people who rent Saltershall Cottage and it is good to have confirmation that there are no problems with the cottage and they want to rent it from us for the foreseeable future.  Eventually make our way through the maze of roundabouts to get to Netty’s in Leegomery.  Our niece Lauren and boyfriend Maca are going out to Rhodes next week to work in a bar and everyone else is well.
Tuesday 22 May  A glorious start to the day with clear blue skies.  Head off to WALES stopping in Welshpool to use the free Internet at the library.  Spot a sign for a public weighbridge and pull into the slate mine to get Charlie weighed.  They charge £5 and clock us at 5370 KG overall with 1780 KG front axle weight and 3550 KG rear.  Travelworld want these figures to pass on to Gulfstream and although they mean little to us we note from the van plate we are 5 kg over at the rear but well under with the others.  Arrive at Twin Rivers Caravan Park in Foel at lunch time.  Mavis is out enjoying the sunshine and Trevor sets too cooking us a roast chicken dinner which we eat outside.  Even manage to eat tea outside and although not the hottest day since we’ve been back it’s definitely better than we have had.
Wednesday 23 May  A hot day again so we make the most of starting with breakfast outside.  After a BBQ lunch we cool off in the river.
Thursday 24 May  With another hot day forecast we have planned to go to the coast.  Drop Mom & Dad in Barmouth.  Using their car we continue to Dyffryn where the naturist beach we used to visit many years ago has now been made official.  There must be almost a hundred people in the naturist section and it’s even hot enough for us to venture into the sea which is amazing as we can’t even remember the last time we went in the sea in Britain.   There’s a military airfield behind the dunes and we get a free ringside seat for the air show as they practice take off and landings in the jets.  Reluctantly leave the beach mid afternoon to rendezvous with Mom & Dad in Barmouth at 3.30pm. 
Friday 25 May   Off to south Wales through the Brecon Beacons National Park where all the footpaths are still closed because of the foot and mouth problem. 4 hours later we arrive in the Cardiff area.  Our motorhome friends Mick and Shirley spend summer in a mobile caravan site opposite Sully Island and with views over the Bristol chanel to England on a fine day.  They take us out for a tour of the area which includes the now sad looking remains of Butlins on Barry Island which is also looking a bit neglected.  It’s warm enough late afternoon to sit out and enjoy a BBQ.
Saturday 26 May  Re tax the van at the Post Office (£160 for year) so we now have no need to return to the UK before next May.  Into Cardiff in Mick and Shirley’s motorhome where we have trouble parking because Blackpool are playing Leyton Orient at the new Millennium stadium.  The campsite owner allows us to park on his site at the edge of Sophia Gardens.  Walk through the gardens and along the banks of the River Taff.  The stadium looks impressive with it’s riverside location and there’s quite a number of fans around from both sides.  It’s a pleasant warm afternoon for a stroll around.  The old jail has been converted into an indoor market and there are lots of impressive old buildings with the best being the castle. 
Sunday 27 May  A dull miserable morning.  Our friends from Turkey Barry & Cicek are flying out of Cardiff airport tonight so we meet up to spend the day with them and take in a pub lunch.  Much reminiscing takes place and reminds us of how much we enjoyed our time in Turkey.  Push on late afternoon over the bridge into ENGLAND to visit Karen & John who live between Bristol & Bath.  Settle down for a relaxing evening chatting.
Monday 28 May  Into Bath where the fringe festival is taking place and the fine weather has drawn the crowds. Although we have been to Bath many times we still enjoy admiring the lovely buildings and soaking up the busy tourist atmosphere.   After lunch we go through Cheddar Gorge to Cheddar where John’s friend Ross has a second hand computer for sale.  It seems to suit my needs and as a colour 486 is better than the black & white 286 and 386 I have previously had.  He offers it for £200 and says he will get me a new battery in that price but I opt for paying £175 and taking a chance on the old battery as I usually run the computer through the inverter anyway.  Back at John’s I get chance to try out my new toy which seems to be just the job.
Tuesday 29 May  Think we are both coming down with flu as we ache and have sore throats.  As it is not just me with the sore throat at least it can’t be put down to my over talking!   Yesterday we purchased the Lonely Planet guide to the Canary Islands but immediately establish that it will cost almost £500 each way for the ferry crossing and we may be too high to use the inter island ferries.  This means yet another revision of plans but in the interim we shall head for France and seek inspiration later.  Book our ferry crossing from Portsmouth to Le Havre for 2.45pm on Thursday.  Have to pay £150 one way instead of the £132 we were quoted last week as a special price but all the other crossings we wanted were fully booked.  This is a huge increase over the £142 return fare we got in January for Dover – Calais.  Karen is working in London today so John joins us for a meal in the van in the evening.
Wednesday 30 May  Hover at Karen & John’s tying up as many lose ends as possible.  Karen cooks a lovely meal which we walk off with a pleasant stroll along the canal and to a pretty area by the river which they are developing to educate children.
Thursday 31 May   An early start gets us through Bath with no traffic hold ups. Our route takes us through Wilton where I used to live.  Time for a stop in Salisbury to get a refund on the Canary Islands book and do some last minute shopping.  Steve has never been to Salisbury before and rather likes it so it’s a shame we don’t have time to stay longer.  Arrive in Portsmouth lunch time and drive down to the historic docks for a glimpse of the old ship HMS Warrior.  Check in at the ferry port and board the Pride of Portsmouth for our crossing.  We leave a little late at 3.15pm and appreciate the sights as we head out of the docks past the historic area with HMS Victory and then past the esplanade with beaches and funfair.  It’s quite a large ship so we stroll around and get our bearings before heading to the bar where there is a quiz.  Give up after first being given a sheet with photos of TV and films stars and then trying to guess theme tunes of TV programmes.  Feel like we have been living on another planet as everyone else quickly writes the answers.  Enjoy a sauna and a dip in the pool before heading to the Brassiere for a nice leisurely evening meal with a sea view.  Dock in FRANCE at Le Havre around 10.00pm 1 hour ahead of British Summer Time.  They ask us to leave any dairy or meat products on board to be returned to England but we don’t hear that announcement.  Disembarking we have to drive through a deep pool of disinfectant and then get out of the vehicle and wipe our feet on a special mat.  All well and good but what about the other footwear we have in the van which has been worn in England?  Follow the other motorhomes to a parking area just by the docks to settle down for the night.

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