Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200405 England

SATURDAY 1 MAY 2004 – Mum is after an old singing book so I drive her over to Hay-on-Wye.  Many years ago Richard Brown went to America and imported thousands of cheap old books.   As a dying town he bought the old cinema cheaply and turned it into a bookshop.  Ironically it was Americans who flocked to the town to buy the old books.  Onto a good thing Richard repeated the process many times importing millions of books and buying more shops.  The town now has over 40 bookshops and has become a tourist destination because of this.  None of the bookshops catalogue the books so it’s a slow process going through the music sections.  We don’t find the exact book Mum wants but she does get a couple of other interesting titles. Get back to find it has been a lovely day in Drayton and Steve has sat out sunbathing.  We’ve invited Netty and Graeme around for the evening and I cook us all a roast dinner.



SUNDAY 2 MAY – Another pleasant day.  Do a few more jobs round at Mum’s and chat to David Earle when he calls round.  Paul & Elaine arrive at lunchtime and we go for a meal at the Four Alls.  It’s nice enough to sit out by the van when we get back before returning to spend the evening at Mums.



MONDAY 3 MAY – Typical bank holiday weather with rain.  Both Netty’s call round.  Netty Spooner leaves then Netty Keen, Mum, Steve and I go to the Four Alls for lunch.  After doing a last few jobs at Mum’s we head to Stafford to visit John & Shirley.  Fellow travellers they also have loads of ideas of what they might like to do so it’s fun picking each other’s brains.



TUESDAY 4 MAY – Get up early to drive to Cannock where V.M.T.P. are going to look at the gearbox.  We get there for 8am and hang around for a bit before finding that their diagnostic equipment does not fit.  They say that another garage nearby have the right connections, can do the job for £25 + VAT but open later. Needless to say we eventually find out that their equipment doesn’t fit either.  They tell is of a garage near Wolverhampton where they can do it for £35 + VAT but after much discussion we decide we will wait and return to Preston where we know they definitely have the correct system.  Unfortunately they cannot fit us in until next Monday so we drive via Birmingham to Moseley where Judy & Stan live.  Since last seeing them they have done back packing trips in Central America, South Africa, South America and Laos.  After reading their trip reports and looking at photographs we move South Africa higher up our mental list of countries to visit and add all the others. 



WEDNESDAY 5 MAY – Judy & I walk to nearby Sparkhill to do some shopping.  It’s an Asian area and we spot very few white people.  The shops have huge displays of fruit and veg at bargain prices including bananas at 10p lb and tomatoes at 19p.  I buy quite a lot of Asian food and get tempted in many of the other shops where everything seems cheap.  In the evening we are joined by Derek & Sue who live in France.  They are back for Sue to have an operation.  After a delicious Mexican meal we retire to the lounge to chat.  Conversation centres on declining standards in Britain, buying houses and living in France, Australia where Derrick and Sue have visited relatives and Judy & Stan’s back packing trips.



THURSDAY 6 MAY – Judy & Stan head off to Leeds to visit their daughter and we turn south for Cheltenham.  Malcolm & Claire are there visiting Malcolm’s Mum Brenda.  It’s been over 3 years since we saw them so again we have lots of catching up to do.  I manage to fit in a phone call to the hospital and am delighted to find out I have an appointment to have my nasal operation done on 1st June.  After a lovely dinner cooked by Brenda, Malcolm & Claire walk us down to Cheltenham and give us a really good guided tour. 



FRIDAY 7 MAY – We pile into Malcolm & Claire’s motorhome for a tour of the Cotswolds.  We first drive through Lower and Upper Swell where magnificent mansions abound.  We should be able to park easily in Lower Slaughter but a visiting art group have taken all the parking in the village so we have to park beyond it and walk back.  It’s a lovely village with the Windrush River passing through crossed by numerous pretty footbridges.  A local tells us it’s only 1 mile to walk to Bourton on the Water so we head off and soon decide that she was talking of a country mile.  Anyway the exercise does us good and we follow the river then walk through fields to get to Bourton.  Much more touristy than Lower Slaughter it is extremely pretty again with the river and lots of footbridges.  Lunch is fish & chips sat by the river followed by local home made ice cream then a drink from the pub.  We are no doubt seeing Bourton at is best on a weekday out of high tourist season and in beautiful sunshine.  After walking back to the van we proceed to Stow on the Wold with the oldest Inn in England dating back to an incredible 947AD.  After passing through other pretty villages we end up in Cirencester but are too late to visit the cathedral.  Our last stop is Seven Springs back near Cheltenham, claimed to be the source of the Thames.



SATURDAY 8 MAY – Today’s tour is to Gloucester and mainly the cathedral.  We are lucky to get a good guide who combines history with facts about the cathedral.  Scenes from Harry Potter were filmed in the cloisters and with the fan vaulted ceiling they are easy to recognise.  As a bonus we see the Antony Gormley display of miniature clay figures known as “Field for the British Isles” in one arm of the cloisters.  There’s a dock in Gloucester and like many others it has been revamped and looks quite nice.  Get back to another dinner cooked by Brenda.  Whilst visiting we have been spoilt with home made apple pie, scones, fruitcake and toad in the hole.  Malcolm’s younger brother Wayne visits along with wife Sarah and their baby. 



SUNDAY 9 MAY – We’re up at 6.30am for our drive north to Charnock Richard.  We’re meeting Claire and family there to take them to Camelot theme park (£15 per person or £50 for a family of four).  Steve’s really tired so I go in with them.  Daniel & Natasha really love it and we soon get used to hearing the phrase “can I go on again please” after each ride. The jousting show is particularly funny.  With a brief stop for lunch in the van we return to coax Daniel back onto some of the white-knuckle rides.  The park closes at 5pm and after tea with us in the van Claire, Daz, Daniel & Natasha set off for home.  We remain on the car park for the night. 



MONDAY 10 MAY – Back again to the gearbox place in Preston.  They spend 2 hours messing around with the diagnostic machine and clear the fault on the computer but that’s about all.  They want the van back for a couple of days so that they can take it out for a long run with a gearbox over ride machine attached to it to induce the fault code.  Again they are very busy and can’t do this until next Monday.  We set off towards Thornton to visit Auntie Barbara.  We’re not expected until late afternoon so just before we get there we turn off down a side road for lunch and a snooze.  Just pulling in to the lay-by when we hear a rattle under the engine.  Steve looks under the bonnet and finds the drive belt has broken.  Luckily when we bought the motorhome we invested £70 in a spare knowing how rare they were.  It’s a huge thing and Steve soon realises he won’t be able to fit it himself.  Fortunately we are in the RAC and less than an hour after our initial phone call, Fylde Motor Company arrive.  Barry has a go at fitting the belt but eventually concedes that the one we have is 1” too short.  He phones his garage to send a tow truck to take us in.  Although the truck is big enough to take our 5-ton motorhome the loading platform is too steep for us to drive on without grounding.  They try blocks and at one stage have the 4 back wheels spinning until smoke comes out but with no success.  We retire to the lay-by and Barry goes off in search of a drive belt, the only alternative being for us to get one sent up from an American dealer.  We are in luck as he returns with one the correct length but marginally narrower and this does the trick.  Well the afternoon has passed us by and it’s now time for us to drive the last couple of miles to see Auntie Barbara.  Uncle Ken died in January this year and we haven’t seen her since.  She’s very pleased to see us and particularly enjoys coming to Charlie’s restaurant – we’ve parked the motorhome in her drive way and I cook us all a meal inside. 



TUESDAY 11 MAY – Auntie Barbara is keen for us to stay so we take on board a few jobs for her.  Between us we clear the weeds from the paths and unblock the drains.  In the afternoon she goes out to her choir and I finally get my much-needed afternoon snooze.  Auntie Barbara joins us for another meal in the van in the evening.



WEDNESDAY 12 MAY – Abandon our plans to walk to Thornton as it is raining.  Instead we drive Auntie Barbara down to the village in the afternoon then on to Fleetwood for us all to do shopping at Aldi.  Afternoon tea is taken on the seafront by the lake in pleasant sunshine although the wind is rather chilly.  David phones up in the evening with the exciting news that he and Donna are getting married in either August or June. 



THURSDAY 13 MAY – Manage a trip down to the shops with Auntie Barbara on her disabled scooter named “The Blue Streak” by Mum.  She does very well but the scooter seems underpowered and not really sturdy enough for the journey.  We contact the manufacturers and find that the type she has is for taking in the car and just using around supermarkets, a sturdier and faster 4-wheel version is recommended.  We hear from David that he and Donna want a quiet wedding so have booked the registry office in Bury on 26 June.  This falls in well with our revised plans to stay in England until 3 July when Bev & Norm arrive.  It’s a pleasant day and Steve works hard cleaning and polishing Charlie. 



FRIDAY 14 MAY – Auntie Barbara convinces us to stay until Sunday morning.  After doing my washing I take Auntie Barbara and “The Blue Streak” out for another run.  A much nicer day and we spend some time sat out in the sun during the afternoon. 



SATURDAY 15 MAY – Steve & I walk into Thornton and use the Internet at the library.  On return Auntie Barbara finds a few more jobs for me to do before I sit out and sunbathe in the afternoon hot sun. 



SUNDAY 16 MAY – Auntie Barbara is sorry to see us leave but we want to get together with David, Donna and her parents.  We meet up at the Welcome Inn in Prestwich where the wedding reception is to be held.  John & Maureen seem very nice and we find plenty to chat about.  Late afternoon we drive back to Preston and park by the marina and catch the last couple of hours of sunshine.



MONDAY 17 MAY – Steve & I go into the garage to talk to the two mechanics about the gearbox problem.  The latest line of thought is that the problem could be either mechanical or electrical and the only way they know of establishing this is to do work on one or the other.  The alternative is to connect a special machine to the van and drive around in it until the intermittent fault makes itself known and this could be extremely costly.  We’ve already driven over 100 miles without the fault showing up.  Compromise by paying their bill to date £304 and agreeing to keep a log of when the fault reoccurs to try and build up a picture.  Leave it at that but we are not very happy.  We recently had a phone call from a Brian Forde who now owns our original motorhome “The Solifer”.  By chance he lives in Preston and wants to meet us.  He’s an Irish man and took early retirement from the university.  He’s a real character and proudly shows us inside the van, it’s held up very well but looks gloomy and small compared to Charlie.  He’d sit and chat to us all day but we eventually take our leave and set off for Keighley.  6 miles down the road the warning light comes on, we phone the garage and they say to come back.  Once we get back they seem to have changed their minds and tell us to disconnect the battery to make the warning light go off and to carry on doing this whilst building up a fault log.  We translate this to mean that they are as sick of seeing us at the garage as we are of having to go there.  Return to Haworth via Keighley and have Daniel and Natasha up for tea. 



TUESDAY 18 MAY – In between taking and collecting Daniel and Natasha from school we make a number of phone calls trying to find someone else to deal with the gearbox.  End up with it booked in for middle of June down in Northampton.  Mum phones up in the evening after having her cataract operation.  It went well although the specialist wants her back on Friday to check on the focusing.



WEDNESDAY 19 MAY – Spend the day at Claire’s after having being alerted to a possible problem with Natasha.  She has woken up with quite a few open spots on her body and it may be chicken pox.  Manage to make and print out invitations for David’s wedding using Claire’s computer but it takes me absolutely hours.  Natasha has a few more spots after school but is well enough to go for her swimming lesson.



THURSDAY 20 MAY – We are summoned down to help as Natasha has lots more spots.  A phone call to nursery reveals that chicken pox is doing the rounds.  Steve takes Daniel to school and picks up some calamine lotion on the way back.  With Natasha stripped off and stood in daylight I manage to find 187 spots to dab it on.  Apart from having an afternoon snooze she doesn’t seem to be affected in any way other than having spots.  After tea we return to Keighley to park up at Sandra’s whilst Steve goes to bowling.



FRIDAY 21 MAY – We have a lie in until 10am.  Once the rain has stopped I take a walk down town to do a few jobs then catch the bus back (90p). 



SATURDAY 22 MAY – I cadge a life down town with Keith and do a bit more shopping for my van makeover, cream bath mats and towels.  Steve spends the day watching various sports on TV.  Keith & Sandra join us in the van for an evening meal.  We retire to the house to follow up with more drinks, coffees and lots of laughs.



SUNDAY 23 MAY – I make the most of the fine sunny weather by doing a bit of a spring clean on the van and lots of washing.  Steve sunbathes in between watching the Monaco Grand Prix. 



MONDAY 24 MAY – Sandra is having a new bathroom fitted and the plumbers are arriving today so we move off the drive.  There’s a Caravan Club CL at Prospect House on the hills above Bingley and we head there, £3 night.  It’s in a shaded dip with superb views down the valley but there’s a very cold wind howling round. 



TUESDAY 25 MAY – It’s a bit less windy so after lunch I take a short walk onto nearby Ilkley Moor.  Spend the rest of the day transcribing old diaries and doing a bit of sewing.



WEDNESDAY 26 MAY – After lunch we drive over to Wilsden to visit Rod & Nancy.  After Nancy gets back from work we do a short walk before returning to enjoy a Chinese take away.



THURSDAY 27 MAY – On her way to work Nancy drops me off at Bradford Royal Infirmary.  I have a 9am appointment for a pre operation assessment.  The first nurse asks me loads of medical history questions, checks my height, weight and blood pressure and takes blood samples.  She then shows me round the ward and explains the hospital routine.  Next I see a more senior nurse who asks even more detailed questions, does a peak flow check for my asthma and discuss my polipectomy and sinus washing operation, scheduled for next Tuesday.  Finally I am sent to the cardiology department to be put on a heart monitor and do breathing tests on a machine.  Much more thorough than they were prior to my operation at Keighley hospital last year.  It takes me about 1 ¼ to walk the 4.2 miles back to Wilsden where I arrive just in time to cook lunch.  Nancy and Rod join us for an evening meal after which they take Steve down to bowling.



FRIDAY 28 MAY – Leave Rod’s early morning to drive to Mavis & Trevor’s.  Fit in a walk around site in the afternoon before it rains.



SATURDAY 29 MAY – Heavy rain in the morning.  Pop down to Shipley with Mavis to shop at Aldi.  Keep working transcribing the diaries and sorting photos on the computer.  Cook up a prawn korma curry for dinner and much to their surprise Mom & Dad both really like it.



SUNDAY 30 MAY – Daz has gone off to play golf so Claire brings Daniel & Natasha over to see us all at Baildon.  After dinner we go for a drive to Bradford to do a bit of shopping.



MONDAY 31 MAY – The sun is shining first thing so we dash out to sit in it before the clouds roll in.  Over to Claire’s by lunchtime.  Whilst she and Daz go out shopping for a bookcase I get on with glossing the hall.  They return with the bookcase and have decided to paint the lounge as well so I make a start on that.



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