Thursday, 25 May 2017

All Windows on Eva Wide Open.......

Well we have now been here at Chipping Norton for three nights and three full days and the weather has been stunning from the moment that we arrived...
The weather has been so hot that Eva's windows have been opened all round and all the roof vents have been unzipped in an attempt to keep the caravan interior as cool as possible.....

I was out on the bike yesterday for a 40 mile spin around the countryside passing through some very interesting villages...
What I will say is that most of the roads locally are in a terrible state.... Potholes seem to be all over the place many of them 4 to 6 inches deep. Not the sort of thing that you want to hit at any sort of speed.
After the effort of cycling up a hill going down the hill was spoiled by having to use the brakes more than I would have liked in an attempt to avoid hitting one of the potholes..... Having already been injured in the past by hitting one hard I was not prepared to throw caution to the wind and careful descent was the order of the day....

On my return route I did come across a nice B road of about 10 miles in length that will make a good 'time trial' road... My plan tomorrow is to go out on the bike again and go back to that section of road and do a few runs in each direction... It's a good surface...undulating and no heavy traffic....
I will let you know how I get on........

Eva the Eriba with all windows open......

Saturday, 20 May 2017

A Day of Morris.....

We leave Sells Green on Monday and are heading up to a site in the Cotswolds....
Today we went over to Bradford on Avon for a Festival of Morris Dance... It was a great day out and the perfect way to finish off our stay in this area...

Bradford on Avon is a very attractive place and is often called 'The Jewel of Wiltshire'. The packhorse bridge in the town was initially built in the 13th century . There is a small building on the bridge that was used as the town lock up. On top this building is a weather vane in the shape of a small fish and if you were locked up locals would say that you were 'under the fish and over the water'

The town is an architectural treasure chest and made the perfect setting for the festival....
I have always been a great fan of Morris dancing but don't exactly know why....
A lot of people think that the Morris dance was a Victorian invention but in actual fact it's earliest mention is from 1458.....

There are many forms of Morris dance.... Border Morris....Traditional Cotswold Morris.....Modern Cotswold Morris....Molly.....NW Clog/step...Rapper Sword dances etc..

My favourite types have always been Border Morris and Molly....
Border hails from Herefordshire,Worcestershire and Shropshire while Molly comes from East Anglia/East Midlands.

Border Morris dates back to the 17th century. Dancers would blacken their faces with soot to provide anonymity from both employers and the church. They would generally wear black with masses of highly colourful rag ribbons and elaborate headresses, often featuring tall pheasant feathers....
It's a vigorous form of Morris with plenty of crashing of sticks and wild dances and I really enjoy it...
As I said it was a great way for Anne and I to end our stay in the area....

Tomorrow is our packing up day ready for our travel day on Monday...

I was hoping to have posted an assortment of picures that I took during our visit to the festival...
Unfortunately for some reason I seem unable to access any of today's pictures in my photoalbum from blogger even though all previous images are visible....

If I manage to sort the problem I will post them at a later date.....
In the meantime I have posted a couple of images to show that since we have been here I have managed to get out on the bike a few times....






Monday, 15 May 2017

Towpath..The other direction....

This past weekend Peter Calcutt one of my walking buddies who I met through our joint association with the Backpackers Club came and camped for a couple of nights with us.....

It's always a pleasure to see Peter and so far this year he has managed to visit us on four occasions. Once when we were down on Dartmoor... twice at Verwood and now here at Sells Green...

As usual we spent a lot of time talking about some of the many backpacking trips that we have done together over the years as well as spending many an hour in conversation trying to put the world to rights.....

We did manage to fit a short walk into the weekend as well though....
We decided to go for a walk along the towpath but in the opposite direction to the Barge Inn that I mentioned in my last post....

Our plan was to walk to the top of the Caen Hill Locks and stop for a break at the cafe which is situated at the top of the flight before returning to the campsite via the same route...

For those of you who don't know... the Caen Hill Locks are a flight of locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal between Rowde & Devizes.
There are 29 locks in total and they have a rise of 237 feet in two miles or to put it another way a 1 in 44 gradient. 

The locks come in three main groups...
The lower seven from Foxhangers Wharf Lock to Foxhangers Bridge Lock cover three quarters of a mile.
The next sixteen locks form a steep flight in a straight line which goes up the hillside. These are designated as a scheduled monument apparently....
A final six locks continue into Devizes....

Our walk would take us past the first 23 locks. The cafe is situated at the top of the main flight of sixteen locks and you can sit outside with a coffee and watch the narrow boats slowly navigate their way to the top of the hill...
It takes 5 - 6 hrs to traverse the locks in a boat so our walk was far quicker.....
Below are some images that I took during our walk...

The entrance to Foxhangers Marina

One of the locks on the lower section

Lock gates

Narrow boats traversing one of the locks

Another boat in a lock..

Always lots going on along the towpath

The 16 locks of the main flight...

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Tow Path to the Pub....

In my last post I mentioned that we were heading to the Barge Inn for a spot of lunch and a pint.......
Well that is exactly what we did.......plus a few times more since......

It makes a great walk along the tow path because there is always lots to see.... wildlife...boats on the move.....locks etc.....

A few years ago I walked the Grand Union Canal from Central London to Gas Street Basin in Birmingham. 
Before I left on the trip a lot of people suggested that it might be a pretty boring trip following a tow path for over a hundred miles but that was not what I found.....

The activity along the canal tow path kept me interested in the walk for it's entire length and that is exactly what we have found here along the Kennet & Avon Canal....

Below are a few images that I took along along the path to the pub......

One of the many locks on the canal..

The Barge Inn

A view from our table at the Barge Inn...

Friday, 5 May 2017

Bluebell Woods...

We have now left Dorset and are currently pitched at the C&CC site near Sells Green between Melksham and Devizes in Wiltshire....

This is our third visit to this site as we like the position of the site right next to the Kennet & Avon Canal which makes it ideal for a stroll along the towpath to the 'Barge Inn' for a pint and something to eat which is what we did today....
It's also good from the cycling point of view as I have a great 35 mile loop which I like to ride.... It goes through some lovely scenery and for the most part tends to be pretty much traffic free....

While we were at our last site we managed to get out for a number of walks but one of our favourites was through the Bluebell Woods on the Edmondsham Estate.....
These are proper English Bluebell Woods with proper English Bluebells none of those imported varieties here..... 
I have posted some images below that I took in the woods but in no way do these pictures actually do the scenes that we saw any justice and neither can they bring you the wonderful scent of the bluebells that just hung in the air......










Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Living The Dream......

At the end of last week Eva the Eriba was booked in for her annual service and water ingress test....
This meant that we needed to pack the awning away and all of our kit (so much easier with the inflatable awning) which we did the day before....

An early start was called for but not as early as last year......Last year we left so early that we arrived at Automotive Leisure (the Main Dealers) about 15mins before they opened...
This time we arrived right on time..... Not bad considering we are pitched about 13 miles from  AL and it is always a bit difficult to judge the morning rush traffic....

After dropping Eva off... Anne and I treated ourselves to a nice cooked breakfast to get over the early start. Early starts are not something that we have to do much these days although since we have been here this was our second early start as just over a week ago I had an 0800hrs appt at the hospital for a routine scan... (All OK)

After the full english breakfast we spent the day in Poole and while we were there we visited the Quay and looked across at the SunSeeker Boat building units.....
One of the boats that appeared to have just been finished and fitted out was this.........
Sunseeker boat called 'Living The Dream'
 This fantastic boat was much larger than it appears in this picture but the thing that I spotted was the name on the side which read 'Living The Dream'......

This got me thinking..... Great and very expensive as it obviously is it has never been my Dream...... However most people have a dream that they would love to live....
For some it is to sail around the Med in a multi million pound yacht such as this.....
For others it's to travel hotel to hotel around the world and for other people it could be living on a remote island somewhere.....Etc..Etc...

As I touched on in my two previous posts.... for Anne and I the dream was doing what we are currently doing and we are glad that we were able to start this great way of life.....
What is the dream that you would like to live?
General View of SunSeekers...

The Custom House in Poole
The above image is of 'The Custom House' which is situated in the oldest part of Poole quay....
This is a very handsome Grade 11 listed Georgian building.
During the nineteenth century the Custom House was used for collecting extra taxes for boats entering Poole Harbour....
HM Treasury closed the Custom House in 1883 and in recent years it has been used as a restaurant...
This too has now closed and the future use of the building is currently uncertain.....

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Living in a Small Space...(Part Two)

So...... How has it been over the two years that we have been fulltiming in the Eriba ?.....
I will tell you..... The good and the bad........

Well it certainly hasn't disappointed.......
Our choice of caravan has proved to be right for us.... It's a caravan for people that don't want to follow the trend...people that want to be a bit different.....people that don't want to be tugging a giant white box around the country....
In bicycle terms it's for people that would buy a Tifosi instead of a Giant or Trek.....
It's for people that are a bit individualistic....which is what fulltiming is all about anyway....


Living outdoors throughout the year has put us more in touch with nature...wildlife  and the changes of the seasons.... The weather has become a really important part of our lives as it can affect when we put up or take down our awning or indeed when we choose to move on to another site.....

The whole way of life is very relaxing with very little stress....after all people choose to do this for their two or three week annual holiday and we are doing it every day.
As I've said before "Every day is a holiday".
No house maintenance... No commuting......No bills..... Just a very relaxing lifestyle....

We can choose to get up whenever we want and plan our own days free from many of the restraints that so called 'normal' living can place on us..... Yes it is an almost stress free way of life... If we don't like a location or have had enough of that particular area we can simply move on.........
Taking in a sunset on site....very relaxing..

So in short...We love it....
We don't regret the decision to try it and we would recommend it to any one who would like to try a slightly more adventurous way of life instead of conforming to what is expected. 
Most importantly we have no plans to stop doing what we are doing anytime soon....
I just wish that we could have done it years ago like my old walking buddy Gideon has done.....

Now for some of the downsides......

Doctor and hospital appointments.... 
You have to get things well organised so that regular things like appointments etc can all be completed during a stay at your home base campsite.
The same applies to caravan and car service...MOT etc. 
This is why we always touch base with the Bournemouth area twice a year...spring and autumn.
It's not really a downside as such only a slight restriction on the freedom that we now enjoy and as such more noticeable to us than when we were living a 'normal' existence....

Multiple Children.....
You can always tell when the school holidays are on us because the toilet areas on site look like a bomb has hit it.... Toilet paper left all over the floor...toilets not being flushed.... showers left in a state of flood.....etc....This makes a lot of extra work for campsite staff.....

Although there is a 5mph speed limit on most sites this does not seem to apply to children who race their bikes and scooters around the sites like bats out of hell and then leave them lying around for some unsuspecting pensioner to trip over them.....

As for ball games.... most sites have areas for children to play and often ban ball games around the caravans themselves but that doesn't stop parents and their children ignoring the so called site rules which are for the benefit of everyone...
Kids will be kids and I probably did the same when I was their age but as I'm not anymore I want things to be a bit more peaceful....

Solution....
We now mark on our yearly planner when the school holidays are and on those dates make a point of booking in at an 'Adults Only' site or a site that has an Adults Only area away from the mayhem that is the school holidays.. :-)

Multiple Dogs.....
As with the children  one or two are not a problem.... but some people will turn up with multiple dogs.... I have seen up to seven quite large dogs in one caravan.... When one 'pack' meets another group of dogs the barking can drive you mad... Why some people feel the need to have such a large number of dogs in a confined space like a caravan or motorhome I will never know. The owners seem to think everyone loves having dogs jump up at them and enjoy hearing the sound of a dog barking at eleven at night or six in the morning.... Funny thing is that the owners themselves don't seem to notice them barking.... 
Don't get me wrong...this is NOT a constant problem as it just happens occasionally but no less annoying when it does happen....

Solution.....
I haven't found one yet..... We have not come across any 'Dog Free' campsites and I doubt that I would want to stay on one as I actually like dogs. I suppose what I don't like are rubbish dog owners who fail to keep their dogs under proper control.....

Friends and Relatives....
I miss being able to see friends and family on tap....
When we come back to the Bournemouth area I am able to catch up with friends and also my daughter and family and when in Devon Anne can catch up with her family.

It is an odd thing with friends as some of them keep in touch when we are travelling and with some I don't hear a thing until we next meet up but such is the way of friendships I suppose.
The other day I had a bike ride with my old mate JD who I hadn't seen for about eighteen months but we just picked up and carried on as if we had seen each other a week ago....as I say such is the way of friendships....  

These are the only downsides we have found whilst we have been wandering around with Eva the Eriba....

We love it.....We don't want to change it and we don't have to suffer that feeling of deflation that most people have at the end of their holiday.....because every day for us IS a holiday...