Monday, 30 August 2010

12 New Forest

Wed 18th Aug  Hertford.  We decide, having searched the net, to purchase another porch type tent to fit on the side of the MH. We were getting fed up with having to take the awning and its associated walling down evertime the wind got above a puff. We were shit scared of waking up one morning and finding it flipped over the roof of the MH. We drove to a camping shop near Royston and bought one. It is a 3m square semi dome affair that attaches to the side of the awning when stowed against the side of the MH. I was initially sceptical as there is a large gap either side where it meets the MH, but, it is growing on me. I will think of something later to deal with this. 
Chilled out Leon.

We also spend hours trying to book a campsite over the bank holiday weekend. Stupidly, we should have done this much earlier as most places were booked up. We eventually managed to get one for 5 days in the Southern side of the New Forest and then another for a further 5 days in the North. 

Thu 19th Aug  Hertford   I finally got the bikes sorted out for human use. We are not sure which version of monkey Halfords set their bikes up for but they have very little DNA similarities to humans. A quick burst of shopping and we find that the new panniers are huge and consume a full (smaller) shopping trolley of goods. That night Ray popped over to Bishops Storford to visit Naomi and Rosie.

Fri 20th Aug We had a very lazy day and sat in the MH all day watching telly and generally milling about, that evening, I went to fisit the other two older offspring, Zoe and Trula, at Zoe's house. Trula had been given a driving lesson my Zoe and went to Bishops Storford to collect Naomi too. A scary experience for Zoe by all accounts. Rosie was by now at the V festival  busy losing her phone again. Karen spent the evening getting fleeced in the local Hertford wine bars with some of her old friends from work, Zelma, Marrietta and Laura.  

Sat 21st Aug   We strike camp (?) and set off towards Eagle Heights (more on that later) and on the wasy decide to pop ion to Hoddesdon to visit our old favorite pub, the Rye House. We call Peter, out previous next door neighbour and have a pleasant chat over a pint. At about 4pm we again set off and after the M11 on the M25 we are halted for an hour or so by a car on fire about 500m in front of us. Deep joy.
Eagle Heights is a bird of prey centre with many other animals on display including 2 tame cheetas. The  place is run by Alan Ames who had arranged a meet up for old friends. On arrival at Eagle heights we park up and walk the mile from the center to the local village where I think they will be drinking, following a tour of the pubs, a quick phone call reveals that they are partying in the centre that we have just walked from. Another walk back up the mile long hill (Karen was, unsurprisingly, not very happy with my organisational skills). A good night was had by all with plenty of loonies talking bollocks all night long. Two old mates, Yan and Jim spent the night camped up in our MH.

Sun 22nd Aug. The next day we popped over to see another old friend, Robert and his wife Terry, who live neat Caterham. There house was undergoing renovation so we popped to the local pub for dinner and a beer with Terrys son Will. Robert, I regard as my best friend, we rarely see each other but have had  a special relationship for over 25 years.We then drove back to Eagle Heights and I went to the pub (again !) with Alan.

Mon 23rd Aug Today we intended to drive straight to the New Forest but decided to delay till the evening and have a proper (i.e. sober) look around Eagle Heights. It was brilliant, aside from being a normal mini zoo the displays were fantastic we saw two run buy John Ames, the owners son, who firstly gave a very good bird of prey display with birds wings hitting the public (including us) in the face and head. The second sisplay was with one of the cheetah's that John had hand reared, chasing a dead rabbit on a lure, that was doing about 50mph) and the cat doing 60-70 mph to catch it. The cat then chomped in to the rabbit and when about halfway through, they relesed the vultures who skillfully stole the dead remains from the cheetah. Amazing and real close.
Who is on first watch..
This is a Caracra bird from the Falkland Islands. It has no enemies so walks most of the time and is extremely clever. It did the three cup - swap around trick - with ease. When in the Falklands, they started setting off land mines ( Argeninian ones) on the beach. They then decided that was not a good idea, stopped it and waited for the penguins to do it and then eat them. It will steal food from anywhere and had a go at someones lunch box.
Bad picture of a rescued porcupine "Fred" (its parner is Wilma - go fugure). When told to, it calmly walked back into its box.
Sea Eagle swooping for chicken in a small sea (OK a pond).

The cheetah "Max" catching the rabbit - it was very fast and fortunately tethered to an overhead wire.
Dinner time, until these guys turned up.....
...and pinched the entrails etc. It was gory but interesting.
John Ames and his pet cat !

We then drove to a noisey campsite with some truly unruly kids causing mayhem....

Tue 24th Aug. With the weather being OK, went decided to go for a cycle ride. We came across a bunch of pikeys camped in the forest in one of those old style Gypsy caravans. As is expected, we got chased by their dog. They pathetically tried to call off the completely untrained mutt without success and gave me a hard time when I fended it off with my large boots. Anyway "D'ya like daags".
Looking for punctures

Oi, Shergar, you cant just lay down, you have to hide behind a bush.

Wed 25th Aug  The next day was raining fairly hard so walking was out of the question. We decided to ride over to Southampton to see an old friend, Yan, who is both a psychiatrist and a power boat racer (oh and completely nuts). He was prepping his friends boat for a race at Cowes on Sunday. He showed us around his and another of his competitors boats. If you are a petrol head, you will like this.
The boat Yan uses.
Unfortunately onre of its engines was still on the boatyard  floor !

A competitors boat belonging to "Vee" who I think is a Turkish guy..
With both engines where they should be.
How sexy does that rear end look !
 By midday it has stopped raining and was absoulutely pouring stair rods so we decided to go to the National Motor Museum at Beuleiu. We saw two cars that Karen and I learned to drive in, hers was a Ford Anglia and mine a Hillman Imp.
The Ford Anglia. Karens first car, and fond memories for her. For some reason the camera did not focus. This car brings back bad memories for me, I was ran over by one when aged 11, I broke my femur and nearly bled out on the road.
The Hillman Imp. My first car that my Dad got for me, I learned to drive it on my own (illegally of course). We eventually took this car all over Europe.
The Honda CB750, my first big bike.
Karen in front of the "Top Gear" Cool/Un-cool board.
"Top Gear" have a display at Beulieu and they have all their (salvaged) modified vehicles on disply, like the car-boats, the streched Fiat Panda Limo, the "reasonably priced car" crushed by the chimney.

We then braved the apaulling weather and rode back to the campsite. It took ages to dry out despite the bike gear performing admirably.

Thu 26th Aug   Another rainy day - not as bad as the previous day but we decided to chill out in the comfort of the MH.
Fri 27th Aug   In the afternoon, Karen wanted to do some shop browsing in Lyndhurst so that what we did. It did not live up to its expectations so after a couple of hours we beat a hasty retreat and on the way home decided to go for a walk just South of Lyndhurst. It was a beautifull place.

 After our walk we deserved a drink so rode to a nice pub in Burley and after a beer or two we went home.

Sat 28th Aug. We struck camp and drove to the northern campsite of the new forest. Once in place and level we jumped on the Wallace and rode to Southampton to a large camping shop and bought some essentials.

Sun 29th Aug We decided to go for Long walk through the forest. We had a good walk and saw some wild deer and I found a willy mushroom (as you do). Not the generic name, but good enough never the less.
Karen says "I wish", Ray says "me too".

My map rerading skills took a bit of a battering. It had nothing to do with the ability to navigate, more to do with the fact that I had forgotten my glasses and could not see the tracks on the map. Not good in a forest.

I can only see the orange lines and large green bits !

Karen was particularly unimpressed with my map reading. Using comments like, "you may be clever but you have'nt got the common sense to remember your glasses". "You silly old fart" etc..

I thought you said you could map read.
I did however redeem myself by finding 2 pubs on the way back. The second pub was in a lovely village called "Nomansland". Whilst supping we tried to think up a name for our motorhome. We eventually decided on "QE3" (Queen Elizabeth the 3rd), "Lizzy" for short. We decided this as it is the size of a ship and it is very patriotic, oh, and we like it.
Once home, it was, sat dish up, telly on, watch the  bike racing, get drunk. Luverly.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

11 Still down South...

Saturday (14 Aug) we popped into Worthing and boutght 2 new (again) helmets from a bike shop, the old ones turned out to be cheap and nasty. We then parked Wallace near the beach and went to watch the Worthing Bird Man competition. This is basically where lunatics make wings and other psuedo flight assisting objects up and then throw themselves off a high scaffold platform built on the end of the pier. Today was unfortunately not the best day to watch due to the wind being in the wrong direction and all the contestants droppling straight into the sea. We did however see Eddie the Eagle (remember him - he was the [only ?] British olympic ski-jumper of many years ago). He skied off the platform....
Eddie the Eagle - the plonker in the yellow cape wearing skis for a birdman competition !!!

  It started to rain and we reverted to our fall back position and found a bar for a swift half before the quick blat back to the MH.
Sunday (15Aug) was almost more exiting. We visited Brighton and started out in an American diner and then went for a stroll along the pier. We shot hundreds of aliens in the arcade and paired up on the bike racing simulator for a few laps.
Then came the highlight of the day. We bought a crepe (crap !) each and whils chewing through the rubbery substance, Karen had hers stolen by a prolific offending seagul. To be fair it was a godsend so Ray decided to give his up before being robbed also.
Ray willingly surrendering his crap crepe to the robbing seagulls.
 This was actually the highlight of Brighton so we popped into another bar (do you see a pattern forming here) and then we went home. To be honest, we are fully fed up with shingle beach.
Monday (16 Aug) we struck camp and drove back to Hertford where we knew there was a good campsite and we would be able to do some admin and see the family and friends.
Tuesday, (17 Aug) was an admin day. Ray drove to his motorcycle dealer and collected the final parts for Wallace (some side windshields). We also finally set out pushbikes up, having not used them since setting off on the 20th May following their theft replacement.
A picture of a slightly dirty Wallace with all its bits on ready to tour the globe.

If you look closely, there is a damp patch on the front wheel.(at the 3 o'clock position). This is from Leon peeing up against it. for some reason he feels compelled to do this. He does it whenever we return home from somewhere. Its not so bad on the wheel, when its on the exhaust it stinks when started up.

Friday, 13 August 2010

10 The South Coast

Saturday morning ( 31st Jul) after another rainy night we decided to see if we could get a camp site nearer Silverstone so that we could go to the racing and get some sunshine.  Bearing in mind that it is the summer holidays we weren’t too sure if we would, but as luck would have it we were able to get one on the riverside, called the Riverside in a little town called Tiddington, just outside of Stratford on Avon. We drove down on Saturday afternoon and had set up camp by early evening.  There was even some sun.
The following morning we set off on Wallace to Silverstone for the World Superbikes.  What a fantastic birthday present for Ray, I’m sure he enjoyed it as much as me........

On Monday (1st Aug) we walked into Stratford on Avon, strolled about a bit and saw Shakespeare’s birth place.  We spent some time down at the river and had to get a permit to allow us to use our canoe on the river.  So that is what we will be doing tomorrow.  Wednesday we are going to visit Warwick Castle. 
One thing that I have been rather lax about is we are travelling with our cat Leon.  For a 14 year old cat, he has adapted to the nomadic life really well.  He is used to being in Scotland, but in Wales he was surrounded by about 44 dogs, and he took it all in his stride, however we are going to nickname him Houdini as at any chance he gets, he leaps out of the motor home and has a run round and checks out the area. 
Chilled out cat

He is becoming quite famous around our various stop offs.   He hasn’t mastered the bike or the boat yet, but there is still plenty of time.
Once you start a blog, you realise just how difficult it is , a) to make it interesting and b) does anyone out there really care when they can make up their own adventures, so I decided you can always switch off. 
We got our boat licence, it cost us two pounds and we never used it.  We decided to scout out the area and as is Ray’s want we start off gently and then end up on some mega hike which is what happened.  We set off on a wee walk along the river and then ended up climbing styles, fighting off bulls, barbed wire, pissed off looking sheep, and me wearing my little sandals and short pants, which didn’t do well with the nettles and stinging thistles and other poisonous plants and beasties that wanted my blood.  You may have sussed out I like my wild life, so seeing a beautiful Kingfisher in its  own habitat did help.
By the time we got back to our M/H the wind had picked up. Once again I missed the moment,  Ray was outside trying to release the pegs for the awning and all I heard was “Ouch” and giggling, being the caring  wife that I am I thought  “yeah get on with it” . He came in with a cut to his eyebrow and a bruise on his eye, the peg had come out quickly, knocking him over and then the actual peg landed on his eyebrow causing the injury.  I didn’t laugh much, and I did offer to take him for a stitch, once I’d got rid of mine......being Ray he just ignored me and got on with his boy stuff.
Scary pose of an old fart with a black eye and a cut brow - plonker

Warwick Castle was something I had to drag Ray to.  However the first people we spoke to were two German Guys who had rented Triumph bikes. (Go figure)  Boys do boys things and I made sure I was ready to fight the last surviving soldiers of William The Conqueror.  There was so much to do we ended up there for hours and had a brilliant time.  If you do get the chance you must try to visit it.
Castle in the background, archery and crossbow lessons between tents
Not sure what is going on here, age is such a cruel thing

Ray was very impressed with Warwick Castle, it’s the first time history has been interesting, especially when they fired the big wooden catapult and hurled a 40kg fireball about a 100m.

Big boys toys. The actors made the visit, one depicting the plague where a woman dressed as a cook was conducting a post mortem on the local doctor. She ripped the intestines and stomach out of a lifelike dummy spraying wet stuff all over the small audience. Luverly.
Jousting compertion with the big slingshot thing at the back.

This is what happens to naughty children - I wish

Friday 6th August
We chose a site down on the coast, Pevensey Bay to be exact and our dear friend, Mac, and her grown up children, Damien and Rebecca, came down to stay.  
Learning curve for all of us, poor   Damien was meant to sleep in a small tent with the dog, his first night, he spent  awake, the dog, the lovely Milly didn’t like being without Mac and tried to break out of the tent all night. He ended up asleep in the car with the dog. The next night the dog (and Damien) slept in the MH much to the annoyance of the cat.
In the morning, after breakfast we went for a long walk along the beach and then went out in the car to Hastings  and Rye.  Hastings had a carnival on, but we didn’t actually get to see it as it turned bitterly cold and windy there.  Rye was lovely with lots of little knick knack shops. Very oldie worldie , then back home for BBQ.  The following morning they all left, remains to be seen if they are brave enough to come back.
We left there on Wednesday (11 Aug) ourselves and camped up at a little farm called, Buncton Manor, nothing fancy, but we have electric and wasp nests.   Ray managed to sneak a tent peg into their nest without disturbing them at the time, but now they are out for revenge.  However Leon loves it as he has space to run about without coming to much harm, apart from the wasps, but I don’t think they’ve sussed out he is with us yet.
Wednesday late afternoon  we took a trip into Worthing on the coast and wandered around the town and along the pier. There was a play being advertised as showing that night, called Murdered to Death, and it was. There were a few people in it that we recognised, including the guy who was Pace in Hale and Pace and Sandra Dickson who was once married to a Dr Who. (peter Davidson)  It was described as a murder mystery farce, and it lived up to that description. It was different though.
Thursday (12 Aug) I got my long awaited day by myself, just me the cat and the wasps, whilst Ray went to get the luggage racks for  Wallace, our bike.  Again we went out and toured around a bit and had a meal in a quaint village called Bramber then had a drink in a pub in Washington,(we just missed Obama, apparently he was off  washing his hair).
Friday, (13 Aug)  another working week nearly at an end.......not.
We packed a picnic and set off to Arundle, to the Wetlands Nature Reserve. ( I think I’ve probably mentioned before that bikes and birds.....wildlife, are the things that interest me).

Still in handcuffs, Ray was dragged into the nature reserve, but we have to say, we thoroughly enjoyed it and we saw many new species of birds that we had not seen before. 
Arundel Castle from nature reserve
If you mess with wild animals..... get bitten

We also saw.....wait for it...... a water vole. These things are as rare as rocking horse poo. 

A rare peice of rocking horse poo - AKA - a Water Vole

Apologies for the delay and problems but we have actually managed to book every site, with no phone signal and two dongles later, still no internet connection.  Note to selves, must try harder.
On the way home we stopped at a smashing little pub in the village of Houghton, called the George and Dragon. More beer...more food...great service.... more indulgence....we love retirement.