Wednesday, 13 December 2017

287 Jan to Jun 2015

 In early January 2015, Karen was getting withdrawl symptoms from cats so we decided to fishing for one and came back with these 2 little cuties. They were rescue cats and we strongly suspect that they were feral as they are a pain in the butt to train but we love them never the less.
 Part of the deal was that they would be neutered as soon as we got them so we did this and ended up with 2 seriously pissed off cats. Sadly the operations were both screwed up and both cats ended up with ruptures and had top be operated on again to correct the error. The Spanish vet that did the initial operations was sacked.

 At then end of January 15 we had a trip down to Bill and Sue's place in France. It was a bit cold but incredibly beautiful and a lot of fun.
Just a mile or so from Bills place is a nature reserve and ski area. 

The snow plough operator forgot to turn up for work but Bills 4x4 worked very well and got us anywhere we wanted to go.  
 From here we donned snow shoes and went for a walk. It was knackering. We finished up with an afternoon on skis.

Feb 2015. The cats are over their trauma and are settling down a lot better.

Then it was off for a skiing trip at the end of Feb to Courchevel in France with Andy and Debbie.
 As usual the Alps were completely stunning and the skiing was fantastic.

 Oh, and the girls were on it. This might look innocent but it is laced with rum.

Once back fron skiing, we spent the next couple of moths sorting out getting our house back from the renters and moved back home in early April. It did not take long for the cats to settle in either.

On the 23rd of May, daughter No 2, Trula decided to have a wedding shower prior to her wedding, 6 weeks hence. I could not really figure out the purpose of the shower except an excuse for the bride and her maids to dress up and get drunk.

Daughter No 1, Zoe, grinning at her sisters impending doom.
 And the bride to be getting drunk.

Around mid June 2015 we went on a prearranged river boat trip to Venice with Bruce, Lyn, Bill and Sue. The boat was huge and even the lock keepers were agog at the size of this battleship on their canals. Sadly this idiot did not get one photo of it. Doh! It even had bow thrusters as it was too big to manourvre wiyh just the rudder.

Bruce managed to run us aground and I broke the bow thrusters. A good trip never the less.

This was Bill and my brother Bruce acting like they just escaped from the loony bin.

A better picture of the tribe about to go and eat. I cannot say what they served here!

Once on dry land we stopped in a cafe and Lyn asked for an ice cream sundae. This monster turned up. 

Karen (and I) having a wander around the old city of Venice.

Once back from Venice, Rosie bought Charlie along for a day at the fair that had set up across the road from home.

Rosie is just so good with Charlie and makes a perfect auntie for him. She has developed into a fine young woman.


This is what happens when you squeeze a fat boy into a small car. It hurts when you have a head on with Rosie and your knees are up against the dash.

In the final days of June, Karen took Mum to Tobermory on the Isle of Skye, for a short break.

The village of Tobetrmory, realy is straight out of a story book.

 The scenery on the Isle of Skye is stunning.

Karen arranged for Mum and her to go on a nature watch tour.

 They saw a huge Golden Eagle.

And something I have never seen, an Adder.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

286 Recap Oct to Dec 2014. Caravan sale and Berlin.

Oct 2014. It was now time to sell the caravan. We put it up for sale after filling in all the holes in the bodywork and it still sold immediately to the first customer. We were sorry to see it go as it had looked after us for a long time.

Nov 2014. Then it was time to take on the next project. The build of a campervan that we could use to travel in, sleep in and also take to the shops and park in a normal bay. This narrowed the field down somewhat and pointed to a medium wheelbase, medium height (so us oldies can stand up in it) Fiat/Renault/Peugot van. We found a fiat with hight mileage but the body was in good condition and it was only 5 years old so we bought it for £4500.

At around the same time I had to do some work on Wallace's engine. I needed to change the timing chain and its adjuster. Sadly, without realising it, when I adjusted the valves, some dirt had got onto the valve heads and screwed up the adjustment.  A pig of a job and 3 days later all was fixed and Wallace was back on full song and running a lot quieter. However, the valve problem made Wallace run very lumpy at tickover and I had to do it all again. I wished I had looked at this photo, that I took when taking it apart initially, instead of when it was all back together - Doh!

Dec 2014. We wecided to go and visit the Christmas markets in Berlin and took John & Tim with us. We drove there in the Passat and it just ate the miles up. 

We started out at Charlottenberg, where Karen and John lived as kids.
The tree stooges on the beer.
 We then moved to a more central location where the Berlin wall was still evident, now as a tourist/historical attraction as opposed to a border.

Then it was time to pay homage to the holy grail of German snacks, the Currywurt Museum. It does not get any better than this. 

No trip to Berlin would be complete without a trip to the Branderberg gate.
 ...and not too far in front of it was the Golden Angel, or the Berlin Victory Column.
 Then it was a quick visit to where Mun used to work, the NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institute). A Place for overseas soldiers etc can buy British goods that they are used to. They also have a NAAFI bar in most British barracks.
 Then it's back to the Christmas markets for some final alcoholic beverages.

Once home, it was up to Mums in Scotland for Chrismas that included a trip to Calaverock wildlife reserve.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

285 July and August 2014

Sunday 22nd June 2014
A long dash up to Dumfries to see Karen, Margo and Sandy.

We had a great time and did some local exploring and whilst in Dalbeattie we spotted this Red Kite out on the hunt.

 Karen had fun playing with the dogs....

 For a while anyway !!!

Tuesday 1st July 2014
We all decided to take a run out to John and \Tims place near Appleby. We decided to drive there via the Lake district. The views were wonderful.

 Then came the obligatory family photo...
Tim, Enid, Margo, Ray, Phillipa, Karen and John.

A Eurasian Jay at the garden feeder.
Wednesday 2nd July 2014
On the way down from Scotland we popped in to See Bruce and Lyn. Of their many dogs (currently about 45 - mailnly Siberian Huskies) they have a Manchester Terrier. It is completrely mental.For some reason it shows it's affection by trying to suffocate it's friends (victims).

'Widget' the Manchester Terrier.
We stayed a few days in our old caravan that we took up there about 18 months ago. We noticed a bird disapearing into the place on an old car where the headlight used to be. On closer inspection we saw this.
Pied Wagtail nest.

Monday 7th July 2014
Once back in Roydon we decided to go and visit the 'Tour De France' which had started in Yorkshire and was now on its way through Essex, with Liz and Benjamin. We spent best part of the day waiting to watch about 30 seconds worth of bicycles woosh past. Having said that it was a fantastic atmosphere.

The front runners.

...and the pack.

Tha walk home - no cars were allowed near the route.

Gromit, our trusty Land Rover was now finally ready and this is one of the sales pitch photos. Gromit will be a sad loss but nothing lasts for ever. We will miss her, and have many happy memories.
Gromit ready for sale - and no stickers.

Sunday 20th July 2014
Today was British Super Bikes at Brands Hatch so we just had to go....

One of Karen's hero riders is a guy named Shane Byrne, commonly called 'Shakey'. He is a cheeky cockney lad and has a irrepressable sense of humour and smile to match. He is one of the oldest riders in BSB and one of the most successful.
Shakey in giggle mode.

And here he is leading from the front #67.

Thursday 24th July 2014
Today is my (Ray) birthday and it is also James Kingsbury's. So the Kingsburys went Go-Karting. We decided to join them.  Despite offers we declined to have a go. These are proper race karts and the track is at Rye House, just down from our house and where Lewis Hamilton learned how to drive.

Matt Kingsbury

James Kingsbury, the birthday boy (one of them anyway)
Sunday 27th August 2014
Our friend Liz  had organised a diving trip for us in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt. We needed a refresher course and she had organised that too. Thanks Liz.
We attended Bishops Stortford dive centre, sat a diving exam wich we both passed fairly easily. The only problem we had was with new proceedured regarding dive computers. The books we had been cramming on for the past 2 weeks were a bitout of date and did not cover that aspect.
Then it was in the pool and practice about 10 different skills. We were finished by 2pm and then drove to Bob ab Liz's for a barbecue.

Sunday 3rd August 2014
Another Kingsbury and another birthday. This time it's Phillip's and it's barbecue time. Again.... Wohoo...

We spotted this pretty little critter on our bird table before pandemonium broke out and half of the Western World turned up.

A Gold Finch grabbing some lunch before mayhem took over.
The Barby was a lot of fun and we met some more of the massive Kingsbury family. They are all very amiable and friendly people.

They hired a bouncy castle from one of their friends and it was the centre piece of madness.

Matt and Karen (another one) acting like 10 year olds.

Evelyn, Robert, Barbera and Peter.

Matt beating up his Dad.

Phillip, Anne and the kids, Jordan and Thomas.

Steve and Barbera.

Matt, beating up his Mother this time.

There's always and idiot waiting in the wings....

Thursday 7th to 21st August 2014
The diving holiday Liz had organised to Sharm el Sheikh was upon us. We had stayed overnight with Bob and Liz and we made our way to the airport for our flight.  We have had some very lovely weather in Britain up until now, but it didn't prepare us for the temperatures in Sharm.
It was very hot. Day time temperature were 35 to 40 deg C in the shade.

We spent a few days unsuccessfully trying to aclimatise. On the Saturday we went to the dive centre to sort our kit out in preperation for diving on Monday. The dive centre wis in the middle of Sharm so we went for a wander around. It had clearly seen better days and one shopkeeper shouted to us "please visit my shop, the worst junk in town". He was right.

Ben in the main street of Sharm el Sheikh

I assume (hope) this place is better at night.

Whilst waiting for the mini bus back to our hotel we stopped for a beer. Horribly expensive but it was imported European beer so it is understandable. The hats were mandatory!!!!
Our hotel was first class. Liz had managed to get us rooms directly facing and closest to the sea. She is a magician - thanks again. The only critisicm of the hotel was the food and drink that whist being adequate, did not compare with what we were used to. Having said that, we were in the desert, in Egypt so all in all we could not complain. It certainly did not spoil the holiday.

What did try to spoil it though was that both Karen and I had "the runs" (google it if you need to) but we soldiered on and it did not, in the end stop uis from diving. I cannot say the same for anyone in our wake but lets not go there.

Monday came and there we were, ready for our first 20m dive in as many years. Aside from one shallow dive that Karen and I did in Tenriffe in 2007, I have not dived for 20 years. We were both a little nervous but our fears were unfounded and we settled straight into it.

In for a penny....

Karen exiting a small cave.

The boat photographer reading a magazine.

A Blue Spotted Stingray.

Ras Mohammed. One of the worlds best dive locations.

Surrounded by a shoal of Fusilier fish.

A Moray Eel with cleaner fish in its mouth.

Clown fish and baby. The parents really do come out to defend their young.

A green Turtle. It was about 5' long.

A puffer fish.

What !!!

Liz, Ben and Bob

Liz photographing a shoal.

A Crocodile fish.

A Lion fish.

A clam. About 12"across.

An accidental photo but a pretty one.

The diving was amazing and we really enjoyed the holiday.  Our last dive actually ended up being a drift dive and it was great being swept along by the current.  We also passed over a ship wreck  with a cargo of bathrooms, handy for Ray and me with our tummy troubles.