Saturday, 18 November 2017

One of those days.....

Yesterday was one of those days..... One of those days when everything seemed to come together to make a perfect day for getting out on the bike and experiencing the joys of two wheeled non motorized travel.....
The winds were very light at about 4 to 6 mph..... The sky was perfect without a cloud in the sky and although it was chilly first thing - by 1100hrs it was warm enough for me to not have to wear full winter cycling gear.... I am still wearing cycling fingerless mitts and not having to wear full cycling gloves yet...

It was one of those days that reminds me of some of the reasons why this is the third time we have decided to spend the winter down here on Dartmoor....
Yes the weather can be harsh on the moor sometimes but then that can make for a bit of a wild walking trip which both Anne and I really enjoy....
However on other days it can all come together to make perfect cycling weather and yesterday was one of those days....
You can see how good the weather was in the image below.......

Perfect weather for a bike ride....
I have always been interested in standing stones and crosses and Dartmoor has more than it's fair share of these.....
When I was posting images on a regular basis on my photo blog 'Aura of Past Shadows' (AOPS) standing stones and crosses were a regular subject but over the past few years I have not been so active in taking serious shots just relying on snaps (although NO dreaded selfies) for the Purpletraveller blog.....

I have been considering getting back to doing some more serious B&W photography and again start regular posts on the AOPS....
My problem is finding the time with everything else that seems to fill up my retirement :-) but if I do decide to re-start AOPS and dig out my Fuji X-Pro1 I will let you know,,,,,,

Anyway... In the meantime a bit of information about the cross in the above image....

This cross can be located at Grid Reference SX/530/711 or 
-4.07504/50.52190 (approx) Longitude/Latitude(+/-)

It is at the junction on the north west corner of Huckworthy Common...
The cross is a Waymarker to the church at Sampford Spiney.
It stands at 6 feet 3 inches (1.90 metres) tall and 1 foot 7 inches (0.50 metres) across the cross arms....

It would seem that in times gone by Travellers from Plympton Priory on route to Tavistock Abbey would pass this cross if they wished to stop off at Sampford Spiney.
The Manor of Sampford Spiney formed part of the lands that belonged to Plympton Priory and would therefore need to be visited from time to time by the monks of the Priory...

This basic and solid cross is still in fairly good condition although there is some slight damage to the North Eastern face of the arms. Both arms have had pieces knocked off which has the effect of shortening the already short arms even more....




Saturday, 11 November 2017

The 'Dark Side' of the caravan world......

The non-working fridge situation turned into a bit of a saga and still hasn't been totally resolved....
I called in a local mobile caravan service guy and it was confirmed that it was the fridge's 230v heating element at fault.... To fit a new one required the fridge to be removed from it's cabinet surround...... Try as he did Mr local caravan service was unable to move the fridge an inch and after about an hour he declared defeat....

It would appear that Eriba caravans belong to the 'dark side' of the caravan world with all sorts of 'how to' secrets surrounding them that only an official Eriba dealer is privy to....

After I had handed over the £40 call out charge he left the camp site muttering that he hated to be beaten and it was the first time it had ever happened to him etc..etc... I thought that he was going to burst into tears.... He left a beaten man.........
Still at least he was slightly better off in the financial sense than I was.... I on the other hand was now £40 worse off and still had a non-working fridge....

'Dave the dog' (don't ask) who is a regular summer and winter fulltimer and is camped the other side of the hedge came round to see if things had been sorted......
Now Dave is a bit of a campsite wizard and although he couldn't offer a solution to the stuck fridge he came up with some alternative offerings.....

First he had a full propane gas cylinder in his awning that was surplus to his requirements. This is now installed in my gas locker.

The fridge works on gas ok and it is obvious that it will be useful if we ever have a power outage. It will give us an alternative for our heating and cooking as well as the fridge so it makes sense to have it as a back-up. 

Because we pay for the electric hook up anyway it is not my intention to run anything on gas full time.... However, Dave had a solution for that as well.....

It turned out that as well as having a gas cylinder just sitting around in his awning he also had a domestic larder fridge that was almost unused ....
He has loaned it to me for our five month stay here and it is now installed in my awning keeping my beer nice and cold.

The fridge will be returned to Dave when we leave here in the spring and for a couple of weeks after that I will power the caravan fridge with the gas until the caravan goes into the Eriba dealer for it's annual service at the end of April......

Dave's spare fridge in our awning.....






Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Back on our Winter Pitch.....

We are now settled back on to our winter pitch.....
This will be the third winter that we have spent here on Dartmoor and it is good to catch up again with the regular winter campers who we have got to know over the past couple of years....

The day we arrived it was pouring with rain even though when we left the Barley Meadow site just 26 miles away it was glorious sunshine... Dartmoor does seem to have it's own special micro climate....

The following day it was very misty with drizzle in the air but it proved to be a good day to clean the caravan in readiness for the forthcoming winter....
We used Fenwicks caravan shampoo followed with a good rinse with Fenwicks 'Bobby Dazzler' which is a hydrophobic product which gives the van a nice shiny finish and helps to keep it clean over the winter.....

We usually clean the caravan at the start of the winter and again in the spring when we prepare the van for our seven months of touring over the summer season...... 

At the end of the day Anne's son Brian who lives not far from the site brought over our winter awning and took away our summer awning for storage in his loft over the winter.....

The day after cleaning the caravan we awoke to a lovely warm and sunny day which enabled us to erect the awning and get it all fastened down in readiness for the winter storms that we usually get during our winter stay......
Erecting the Winter Awning...
I have already managed to get out on the bike and I plan on another ride tomorrow..... The weather at the moment seems to have settled down again so it is a case of making the most of it while we have it.....

One thing that happened yesterday was that our fridge decided to stop working... It works on the absorption principle unlike a normal domestic fridge which usually works with a compressor.... Absorption fridges have no moving parts so there is not too much to go wrong....
After doing a few checks I have a feeling that the problem is with the fridge heating element so a call to a local mobile caravan engineer will have to be made.....

At least it stopped working at this time of the year and not in the middle of summer when we would have missed it more...this time of the year things like milk etc can be left outside overnight and manage to keep pretty cool anyway....

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Last Move of the Year........

Since we have been here on the northern edge of Dartmoor we have had some pretty rough weather.....
I have not managed to get out on the bike around the lanes north of the National Park as much as I would have liked..... 
On one ride I picked up what a lot of people think of as the boring section of the Two Moors Way that connects Dartmoor to Exmoor along country lanes.....

When I walked the Two Moors Way I personally didn't find this section of the route boring at all..... I walked the route with a couple of soldiers who were completing the Two Moors Way and I caught them up just as we started on the 'boring' country lane section....
Having companions to walk with made the section pass quite quickly as we were exchanging stories and jokes as we made our way along so for me it turned out to be one of the highlights 
of the walk......

On my recent ride along these lanes it brought back all the memories of the walk which I enjoyed a lot....
The picture below shows 'Tiffany' my winter season bike (Fiona the Felt has now been packed away at my daughter's for the winter) at the very point on the Two Moors Way where I caught up with the two soldiers when I walked the route......
On the Two Moors Way
Since we have been back down in Devon we have had two storms....first was Ophelia and as I write this the last winds of storm Brian are blowing themselves out......

One of the problems we have had was choosing the right time to pack away our summer inflatable awning...... 
When we get to Tavistock we will be using our winter awning so it was important that we packed away the summer awning nice and dry.... 
Normally between sites I wouldn't worry about  packing the awning slightly damp as we would be using it again within two or three days but this time because it will be packed away for five months it had to be properly dry.....

As luck would have it there was a window of dry weather last Friday just before storm Brian hit us.... that window of dry weather enabled us to pack it away nice and dry.

I would have liked to have cleaned and reproofed the awning as well but we just have not had a long enough period of dry weather to allow us to do that.... Still at least we packed it away dry and our plan is that we will clean and reproof it when we set up that awning again in the spring.... hopefully the weather will be a bit kinder to us then.

One thing that happened at this site that didn't make me very happy was some minor damage to my car.....
The site owner was mowing the grass near my caravan and car and as he drove the sit on mower along the stony site road past my car he flung up a load of stones chipping the paintwork and causing a couple of small dents in both the front and rear nearside doors..... Luckily Eva the Eriba seems to have survived unscathed....

Careless mower driving by the owner...however he has said that if I send him the bill for the repair he will pay it but obviously I would have rather that it hadn't happened.... 

Oh well I will have to contact my friendly Paintless Dent Removal (PDR) man when we get to our winter seasonal pitch....

That is where we head off to tomorrow.. 
Our last move of the year is back to Tavistock and our pitch for the winter season....... 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Cold Feet Hopefully Getting Warmer.....

Some years ago when I was walking the Southern Upland Way I used a number of bothies as an alternative to my tent.....
It made a nice change when I found a bothy to sleep under a proper roof ...a bit of a highlight along the route.....
One thing that I seemed to suffer with though was cold feet.... walking on the solid floors of the bothy certainly didn't help and even though I wore a couple of thick pairs of walking socks cold feet persisted.....

These days winter riding on the bike can give me the same problem..... Makes no difference what I cover my feet with...waterproof socks..neoprene cycling shoe bootees.... I still seem to end up with cold feet.....

As we approach our third winter in Eva the Eriba I am not going to take any chances not that I suffer with cold feet in the van though..... No what I want is to make sure that my feet warm up again nice and quickly after a ride....

That's where these little beauties come in.......
North Face Nuptse Tent Mule 111
As my tent slippers needed replacing my recent visit to Exeter had the purpose of acquiring some new in caravan/awning/tent slippers or bothy boots.....
I ended up buying a pair of North Face Nuptse Tent Mule 111s.....

I have to say that these were the style that I had in the back of my mind when I went looking to buy some replacements....and as it was these were the only ones that seemed to be available in the various outdoors shops in Exeter.....

I realise that there are lots of various makes and styles available on the internet but one of the things that you have to learn to live with when fulltiming is that buying from the internet is not really possible.

The reason for this is a lack of a permanent address..... Yes I could have them delivered to my daughters address in Dorset but then I would have to wait till next spring before I could collect them and I wanted them now.... I wanted to warm my feet up this winter not next......

The North Face blurb tells me:-
Don't let the low profile and plush finish fool you..... The Nuptse Tent Mule 111 from the North Face is a hardy slip-on slipper offering incredible warmth and comfort and boasting a toughened upper made from recycled bottles....( I hope that means Cola Bottles as I have always thought that the best thing you could do with a bottle of Cola was to throw the contents away and recycle the bottle :-) )

The main features of these are :-

The uppers are made from 100% recycled PET with ripstop finish.
The sole is a nylon mesh base with rubber fine-mould traction lugs.
Insulation is Primaloft Thermoball (equivalent to 600 fill down)
Durable and water-resistant.
Die-cut EVA sockliner.
Slip on slipper.
Weight 220g
Note the Rubber Fine-Mould Traction Lugs.
I can't say how good these slippers are..... only time will tell. 
This post is not a recommendation it is just a report on what I have purchased......
If they live up to the North Face product description then I should have nice warm feet throughout the winter.... if I don't then you will certainly hear about it!!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Back in Devon..

A week ago we rolled out of Verwood in Dorset and are now back in Devon....
Before we left Dorset we said goodbye to family and friends again and on the Monday morning just before we left the site Richard the manager popped over to say goodbye as did Andy and his wife Jayne the site assistants....

Next year Andy and Jayne will be at the Veryan site in Cornwall ....Richard and his wife Angela will be staying at Verwood for another year and my old walking buddy Gideon and his partner Angie will be joining them for the season from spring to autumn at Verwood....

This is where we are now:-
 This was the very first site that we pitched up at when we set out on this fulltiming caper two and a half years ago....
We thought that it was time that we made a return visit and it is also just a short drive from where Anne's mother lives....

It had been my plan to drive out this past week and meet up with Howard a friend from the Backpackers club who was leading a three night backpack up on the moor.... 
On one of the nights they were planning on camping at Princetown and I was hoping to catch up with them at the pub..... 

However, as is often the case with a good idea the day after we arrived here I was struck with a really bad cold and had to spend a few days in bed.... It was a great pity because I haven't seen him for over two years and I hate the thought of losing touch....
Entrance to the Site (our unit can be seen 2nd on the left)
 We have another couple of weeks here and then we will re-locate again to our winter seasonal pitch at Tavistock....
Tavistock is only 26 miles away from here so it really is just a short hop to get there......

While we are here we will have a few walks along the Two Moors Way (TMW) as it passes the site just a couple of hundred yards up the road..... There is a nice pub at Drewsteignton which is on the TMW route..... 

I am also hoping to get a few rides in as there is a nice road route that appears to be popular with a lot of local road riders....

I think that we are planning on a day in Exeter tomorrow.....
Evening view from Eva the Eriba.....
When we pack up the inflatable awning prior to leaving here we are hoping for some nice weather as it will be packed away for the winter so we need it to be nice and dry for winter storage.....
When we are at Tavistock we will be using our poled winter awning again......

Monday, 25 September 2017

A Ride with a Bike Mis-Match...

On Friday I met up with another old work mate and cycling buddy John Donoghue known to his friends as JD..... 
JD has ridden with me on numerous long distance cycle trips and it is always a lot of fun to go out on a ride together..... You never know what to expect when you are in the company of JD...

Having acquired a new touring bike in the last six months he was keen to use the new bike on our planned ride together as I had not seen it in the metal yet.....

In theory it seemed a great idea but the reality meant that the two bikes were a bit of a mismatch for a ride.... We had to laugh when we saw our two bikes together as they really were at opposite ends of the cycling spectrum.... 
Two very good bikes but built for vastly different disciplines.....

Check for yourself below......
A Bit of a Mis-Match for a Ride.....
My Felt was basically built for speed....it's full carbon frame and top end components and wheels reflect that....

John's bike is built for comfort and rough stuff touring .... But it's weight even makes my Revolution Tourer feel like a racer... 
It's a Thorn Mercury and built up to his specifications...it is a great bit of kit... It sports hub gears...a rear disc brake... built in dynamo for his fitted lights.... Good solid mudguards....Racks fore and aft... etc..etc... and most importantly JD has always wanted one and now he has one.... that makes him happy......

I won't go into blow by blow details of our ride together....you can probably imagine what it was like.......  it must have seemed as if I was floating up the hills compared to JD but all credit must go to him as he guided his sure footed HGV of a bike up the hills....slow ...but always confident that he would get there in the end......

It was a most unusual choice of bikes to ride but that's what made it a very interesting ride out together.... Riding the new bike obviously gives JD a lot of pleasure.. however I won't be trading in my own touring bike for one anytime soon...

One thing that we did both agree on was that next time we have a ride together (unless we are touring) JD will ride his Specialized Road Bike......