Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200205 England

Wednesday 1 May 2002  Typical day, me to town for odd jobs and appointments, Steve lazing in the van and the weather horrible.
Thursday 2 May At last a brighter day (comparatively speaking).  Haircut for me in the afternoon then Steve out to bowling in the evening.
Friday 3 May  At last Autoglass are ready to fit the new windscreen which they start just after 11.00am whilst it is dry (we are too big to fit inside their garage) and finish 3 1/2 hours and one downpour later.  Next we find someone who can mend the microwave, £50 for a new part.  Up to Claire’s in preparation for our early departure tomorrow.
Saturday 4 May  Just after 8.00am we’re off with Claire, Daniel and Natasha joining us for a weekend break.  In Prestwich we pick up David who brings Donna’s daughter Chelsea (10) as well.  It’s a beautiful day and there is not much traffic as we head into Wales.  Presthaven Sands is our destination, a typical British holiday camp where we have booked a basic pitch for our motorhome.  Within minutes of our arrival Claire and the kids are off on the Noddy train which goes up and down the site which is very long with entertainment facilities in the centre. Hundreds of static caravans fill most of the area with the touring vans right on the outer edge.   Having paid £13 night for the pitch most of the entertainment is free including the swimming.  It’s a long walk to the pool but we all have fun especially Daniel and Natasha.  In the same complex is an indoor play area with a huge soft foam type obstacle course and outside a big playground so plenty to keep the kids amused.  Tea time BBQ then Claire, David and Chelsea head off to check out the shows whilst we baby-sit.  Claire and Chelsea arrive back around 10.30pm.  Just settling down to sleep when we hear a siren.  A car comes racing through the site making a lot of noise as it bounces over the speed bumps followed closely by the Police car.  Shortly after two helicopters converge on the site with spot lights.  Eventually they seem to give up and all goes quiet – until David rolls home in the early hours.
Sunday 5 May  After a cold start we have another glorious day.  Swimming in the morning then the afternoon sat out by the van where the kids play in a nearby sand pit.  Early BBQ so we can all go up to the club house.  The place is heaving with kids enjoying the Tiger Club entertainment which Daniel and Natasha love.  Can’t keep Natasha off the stage when Rory the tiger has people queuing up to hug him.  She has had a busy day and starts falling asleep before 8.00pm so Steve and I carry her back.  Think everyone is exhausted as by 9.00pm we’re all home with the kids asleep and us watching "Auf Wiedersehen Pet".
Monday 6 May  A bit of rain in the night leaves us with a cloudy day.  As out last day on site we are allowed to use the facilities all day but must move the van off the pitch by noon.  Park near the entertainment complex.  The kids have now discovered the joys of the Paws Club for 1 – 5 years and the Tiger Club for 5 – 9 years.  Start with Paws Club where Rory the tiger tells a story. Steve, David, Chelsea, Natasha and I then go swimming whilst Claire takes Daniel off to the Tiger Club.  He does very well and comes second in the colouring competition.  Just time for lunch before the Paws Picture session then straight over for another Tiger Club where once again Natasha loves hugging Rory and also Bradley Bear.  Set off mid afternoon and explore the beach at Talacre where we think we may be able to free camp – until the man in the ice cream van tells us the car park is underwater at high tide!  A big tail back where we want to join the motorway so we cut across country through Chester.  Drop David and Chelsea off.  It’s the first time we have met Chelsea and she seemed to enjoy the break and was very polite and helpful.  Call into McDonalds in Huddersfield for Daniel and Natasha to get a Happy Meal.  Arrive back just after 7.00pm. Despite me being a bit of a stress head at times it all went well especially considering it is the first time we have had 7 sleeping in the van.  
Tuesday 7 May  Pop down to see Claire and the kids before setting off to Huddersfield to get the gas service done and a few other things sorted.   3 1/2 hours and over £200 lighter we set off to Halifax for someone to look at the roof problem.  Dave seems to agree that we now have the leak under control but should the problem re appear he can strip the rubber roof off, replace the wood and put new rubber on for about £1000 but the figure could go much higher depending on how much wood rot they found when they got inside.  He cheerfully tells us that on his motorhome they ended up completely replacing one of the side panels as well.  Think he’s a bit of a Jobe’s comforter!  Head up to Baildon Moor to visit Mavis & Trevor.  Lisa is there helping Trevor to put the fencing up around the new decking so Steve joins and helps out.  Sian is off school with a cold and lying on the sofa looking quite poorly.  It’s Mick’s birthday and he arrives after work so we decided to have a curry take away and for Mavis and Trevor fish and chips. 
Wednesday 8 May Having started with a sore throat yesterday Steve has deteriorated through the night whilst I got little sleep with him snoring regardless how he was lying.  He’d offered to help his Dad with the fence this morning so I explain to him that in the real world you still have to go to work when you are feeling a bit sick.  Steve has had the very occasional idea that he might just want to do a bit of work now and then so I think that by encouraging him to work whilst he is unwell it will make him realise that it’s not a good idea at all.  I go off to Keighley with Mavis and return to find my plan has worked.  Return to Keighley where Claire picks me up to do a brief baby sit whilst they make arrangements for Daniel and Natasha’s christening.  We are to be godparents to both children with David god father to Daniel and Daz’s brother David for Natasha. They want a quiet christening with just themselves, Daniel and Natasha and the god parents present and book it for Sunday 9th June
Thursday 9 May  Back in the old routine, washing, walk to town for me – Steve dosing then bowling in the evening.
Friday 10 May  A nicer day for my walk to town.  Mow Sandra’s lawn in the afternoon whilst Steve struggles with a sore throat and cold but manages to move from bed to the sofa and operate the TV remote control.  Nancy and Rod join us for a meal in the evening but despite them leaving after midnight we still have lots to talk about so arrange to go out with them next Wednesday.
Saturday 11 May  Claire calls round with Daniel and Natasha and we leave Steve in bed and go down into Keighley.  By the time we get back Steve is up and dressed but still prostrate on the TV clutching the remote control.   Spend the rest of the day trying to organise our next big trip.  Evening walk round to Ray & Margarets for a meal. Get confirmation from Pat in Texas that our exchange can go ahead.  It’s been on and off for sometime since she found out her driving licence didn’t cover her to drive our van.  She is now agreeing to the exchange but to use our smaller camper in Australia next year (which we intend buying when we arrive in September).  For 3 months we get to use her truck and articulated 5th wheel which we will pick up in Dallas.
Sunday 12 May  Nice morning and we sit out with Sandra and Keith enjoying wine and nibbles.  Sandra’s Mum and Dad arrive for lunch and shortly after Claire arrives to pick us up. It’s a 1940’s weekend in Haworth and the place is heaving with tourists and people dressed up in clothing from that era and war uniforms. A lot of the shops have taken up the theme and signs point you to air raid shelters, old cars are parked up and a band plays as it walks down the main cobbled street.  Daniel has stayed at home to play with a friend but Natasha just loves it.  She keeps wandering off ahead of us then turning to the nearest person with her most endearing smile and saying "Hello".  Steve has been dying for roast beef and Yorkshire pudding so we return to Claire’s where I cook the whole works.  The beef is cooked to a turn and goes down a treat. 
Monday 13 May  A miserable rainy day so I catch the bus to town.  Gather information for our flights and find that it’s £420 for a return flight to Texas and a minimum of £499 for a flight to Australia.  However instead of returning to England between trips we could take the British Airways and Quantas 1 year usage 29,000 mile World Discovery Pass which has just been reduced.  It normally costs over £1000 but I shop and telephone around and get it for £770 + taxes.  Using this we can fly to Dallas and stay for 3 months then from Dallas via Los Angeles to Brisbane.  When we leave Australia we fly from Melbourne to New Zealand for a month to visit friends and go to Malcolm and Barbara’s wedding on 8th March.  Leave New Zealand early April with a stop for about 10 days in Bangkok.  Keith and Sandra join us for an evening meal in the van.
Tuesday 14 May  An even rainier day than yesterday.  Had my hair cut 2 weeks ago but had forgotten how frizzy it gets in England so I return to have it cut much shorter.  Confirm our flight details with a company called Advantage.  They are brilliant and don’t charge any extra for credit cards.  They advertise on Teletext, return phone calls when asked and have a web site where your our personal travel itinerary can be viewed.  Plan to leave on Saturday 15th June at 0635 from Manchester. 
Wednesday 15 May  Straight over to Steeton for the MOT. Despite a few hiccups we pass and immediately book our next years test to avoid the difficulty we had getting in this year.  A new problem emerges as we find the fuel station no longer carries the adapters for the LPG. Try others but to no avail.  Drive up to Wilsden to Rod & Nancy’s and spend the afternoon with Rod.  Find the web site and have great fun reading about our old school mates.  Pick Nancy up from work to go for an Italian meal in Bradford.
Thursday 16 May  Lovely sunny day so we head straight to the Midlands and visit Mum.  She’s lost a bit more weight having recently been ill with bronchitis but all things considered she’s doing fine.  Sit out for lunch then Mum & John join us for an evening BBQ.
Friday 17 May  Nice morning. Walk up to town with Mum.  Sit out quite a bit and join Mum for lunch then she and John join us for tea except the weather is poor and we have to eat inside.  It’s the last day of term for some of the local scholars.  To celebrate they begin to arrive at the picnic area laden with booze.  The field is full of people grouped together and some even arrive with tents.  Late in the evening heavy rain stops play and we have a quiet night.
Saturday 18 May  Walk up town early but find the library and travel agents closed until 9.30am.  Travelbag have phoned us up and said the air fare has now been reduced and also we can have an extra stop over in Vietnam.  In the end we pay at grand total of £1630 for both of us (including taxes).  This gets us 10 flights and 6 stops around the world – amazing value.  Netty calls down and I go up town with her whilst Nic stays with Steve.  All round to Netty’s for lunch and to stay for the afternoon. David had an accident and cut his hand a few weeks ago but it seems to be heeling well.  Bobby is out and Netty has become a full time chauffeur and is waiting to be summoned to collect him. To Newport for an evening visit to Paul & Elaine.  Paul’s family are going to be on Family Fortunes tonight so as soon as we have finished tea we sit down in anticipation.  Paul is gutted to find they are showing a different episode and knowing he will have to go through all the build up again next Saturday. 
Sunday 19 May  Inspired by friends reunited Steve phones his old friend Dave Heath and we call to visit him in Muxton.  Our half hour stop becomes 4 hours as we are also joined by Dave & Zena’s friends Susan Day and Tim Tranter who we also know.  Old school photos complete the memory lane experience.  In Leegomery we park outside Kevin & Sandras where we have tea and stay parked up for the night.
Monday 20 May  Up to Dawley to call on Mentors the company who rent the cottage.  It needs re wiring and there are a few other matters to be sorted all of which cost money.  On the up side they confirm that they want to continue renting for at least 3 more years.  A quick visit to Telford town centre to look at travel guide books.  We shall be making our own way from Saigon – Vietnam through Cambodia to Thailand so need to check on the visa and inoculation situation.  We need both.  Just outside Newport we meet Paul & Elaine and Pete & Carol at the Three Fishes for an evening meal.  
Tuesday 21 May  Pop in to thank the landlord for letting us park overnight.  He’s not there but the girl on duty is very interested in our lifestyle and insists we stay for a coffee and chat.  Park up en route to Stafford and make inroads into the paperwork etc..  As always lots of travel chat with John & Shirley who are biding their time until daughter Daniella goes in the RAF in a few years.  Having whetted their appetite with a year out motorhoming they have itchy feet.  In the interim they are looking at buying a house in Cyprus as an investment. 
Wednesday 22 May  Heading into Stafford centre we pass the main Land Rover dealer who sells LPG and has the right adapter for us.  Pass time parked up a side road before visiting Jan & Dave Gough whom we haven’t seen for 5 years.  Lots to catch up on in very little time as we only have 3 hours together.  Back to Drayton for the night.
Thursday 23 May  Mum has found one or two more jobs for us to do so Steve gets on with laying bark in the garden whilst I clean the outside of the conservatory.  Mum treats us to lunch at the Crown which is excellent.  John & Mum come round for a drink in the evening and a chat about the possibility of them visiting whilst we are in New Zealand next year.
Friday 24 May  Lunch at Mums.  Memory lane time watching some old videos which we store in the cellar.  Claire arrives at 8.30pm with Daniel and Natasha.  After a quick visit to Mums we all settle down for the night in the van. 
Saturday 25 May  Off to Telford in Claire’s car.  Wonderland is a park based around nursery rhymes so whilst Steve and Claire sunbathe outside I take Daniel and Natasha round. £2.95 adults, £1.95 children, under 4 free.  They love it and I get a lot of pleasure from watching them.  Had we brought a picnic with us I reckon they would have stayed all day.  Re join Steve and Claire just before a downpour.  Cutting across Telford Town Park to the shopping centre is slow going as there are lots of childrens play areas.  Sort out new shoes for Natasha and a voucher for Daniel to have some later, McDonalds happy meal for the kids lunch then away. Brief visit to Paul & Elaine’s to say our proper Good-bye’s then an hour at Pete & Carols for the same.  Move "Charlie" round to Netty’s.  I take first shift in the van settling Daniel to sleep then Steve comes in with Natasha.  This works very well and leaves Claire and I in the house chatting with the Spooners.  At bedtime we swap Claire with Nic.  She sleeps in his bed and he joins us in the van. 
Sunday 26 May  Peaceful night with Natasha sleeping until 1/4 to 7.  Breakfast goes down well with me cooking toast fingers.  They each have a piece of kitchen paper and keep tally on it of how many they have eaten.  Nic scoffs 26, Daniel 24 and Natasha 7.  Don’t think any of them have eaten such a big breakfast before. Spend time in the house once everyone is up.  Back to the swimming baths where Claire, Daniel, Natasha and I go in for a swim.  Over to Mums after lunch for us all to say Good-bye.  Claire heads off back to Howarth and we cut across country to Grimsby arriving around 6pm.  First met Jools & Oz in their motorhome Hermione in Italy then again in Greece.  They reluctantly sold her this afternoon (having only had her for a 1 year trip) and I think having our van on the driveway makes them feel a bit less motorhome sick.  Oz’s daughter Fern (7) is visiting and we all sit down to a lovely Sunday roast dinner with lamb and chicken.  Oz takes Fern home and then we chat and drink.  Surprised to see that it is after midnight when we return to the van.
Monday 27 May  Jools has gone back to work but lets me into the house before she leaves.  It’s a lovely morning but there’s only me to enjoy it.  Oz puts Steve to shame in the sleeping stakes so I leave them both to it and make good use of the computer, washing machine and bathroom. Just after 10am Steve emerges.  Jools Mum & Dad call round a bit later and this means Oz gets up considerably earlier than normal.  (Once when we were travelling with them he didn’t get up until 5.15pm!).  He and Steve settle down to watch daytime TV and play backgammon.  Siesta after lunch then a chance to sit out and sunbathe.  Whilst Jools and Oz play badminton at Cleethorpes leisure centre Steve and I walk along the coast towards Thorpe Park.  It a very pleasant walk and we feel like we are on holiday.  Pass the paddling pool, sandpit, meridian line, discovery centre, fairground, theme park and eventually arriving at Thorpe Park. This is a Haven site and the biggest caravan site in England.  Back to the leisure centre then into Cleethorpes to Steels restaurant for a superb meal of fish & chips.
Tuesday 28 May   Oz takes us into Cleethorpes then we meet Jools in Grimsby for lunch at Witherspoons.  Lazy afternoon then evening watching "Kevin and Perry".  Lovely long soak in the bath.
Wednesday 29 May  Late start.  Drop Oz in Grimsby then continue to Broughton.  Through Friends Reunited Steve has been contacted by a friend from Junior school Dave Boxx and we have arranged to visit him.  Park on the Dog & Rat car park then check out where Dave lives.  His wife Mo is at home but busy tidying up so we return to the car park. Mo calls round a bit later to say there is a problem, their black labrador "Sam" has escaped.  Offer to help but Mo insists we stay put and meet at the house around 6.00pm.  Dave calls round and although Steve hasn’t seen him since he was 11 he does half recognise him.  Join Dave & Mo for a meal.  Their daughter Sarah 11 is very worried about Sam so we all go out in the cars on a hunt but with no success.  Spend most of  the evening listening to Steve and Dave reminisce, making posters for the lost dog and generally having a good time as we all get on very well. Surprised to find it is 1.30am when we get back to the van.
Thursday 30 May  Dave calls round to introduce us to Sam who he has just collected from the dog sanctuary.  Call at Morrisons on the way to Brandy Wharf which Dave has recommended.  It’s one of only 3 cider centres in the country and situated on the banks of the River Ancholme where we find a nice parking spot.  Call in for a couple of drinks at lunchtime.  Afternoon siesta is disturbed by a thunder and lightening storm.  In the evening Steve & I have had a meal in the pub then Dave & Mo arrive to join us.  Sarah stays in our van as it is a no children, no smoking pub which is right up our street.  Steve gets into the swing of things checking out some of the many varieties of cider. 
Friday 31 May  Over the Humber Bridge £2.50 then through Hull and out to the Yorkshire Sun Society grounds.  Maureen lets us in and we join her and John for a cuppa.  We last saw them in Spain January 2001 and as fellow motorhomers we have lots to discuss.  Haven’t been to YSS for over 3 years but learn that we know quite of few of the people who are coming for the weekend.  Not only is it the Queens Golden Jubilee weekend but also the 70th Birthday of the club so lots of events are planned. Camping and club visit £8 per unit per night.  Steve is soon up at the bar watching the first match in the World cup where Senegal surprisingly beat France 1-0.  7.30pm sauna £1 with cooling dips in the pool.  There used to be an outdoor above ground pool here but now it is covered with a plastic dome supported by a fan, the water is heated and it can be used all year round.  In the bar we are joined by our old friends Steve, Donna & Luke, Sally & Stewart and Kate & Gordon so lots of catching up to be done

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