First Timer – Let’s get started

This is the post excerpt.

Today I updated my Facebook status:-

Sat here with a glass of cider, in the beautiful sunshine getting excited, and ready, for our upcoming trip – might start work on the blog tonight…!”

So I thought I’d better make a start.

The main reason for starting a blog is our year off travelling around the UK (mostly) in our motorhome in 2017.  Before that (30th May 2016 to be precise) we’re off to France for 5 1/2 weeks.

So I thought I’d get a bit of practice in before next year (bearing in mind I have no idea what I’m doing…)

Currently we’re making sure that everything is in place before we leave.  We’ve spend the past couple of months starting every weekend agreeing that we must get some ‘stuff’ done.  So, here we are with just over 3 weeks to go, and we’ve finally got started!

Okay, so we’ve done a few bits and pieces.  Mainly buying in extra provisions – such as rice and high juice.  Yes, I KNOW they have shops in France but last time we were there we found that it was impossible to find certain items, or when we did they were insanely expensive (for instance, I got a hankering for chocolate spread – no, I don’t know why either – and although we found it, it cost about £4)

Today, Calvin has made a space in the back cupboard to hang a couple of storage containers in – we can keep shoes, loo rolls and other provisions in there.  He’s also modified the bike rack so that we can fit our new bikes on without scratching them.  He really is very useful!

Oh yes, of course, we bought new bikes a few weeks back.  Electric bikes… meaning we can go a little further on them (rather than me always wanting to turn back before Calvin does).  I’d taken a couple of months to finally make the decision to buy.  Calvin decided in 2 minutes flat while I was making a final decision on which bike to buy.  So, we’re looking forward to making good use of them on all those cycle paths & routes in France (particularly in the Pyrenees).

So far we love them (went out for a short 6 mile ride this morning actually before coming over to the van).

Tomorrow we’ll carry on emptying out the cupboards and getting rid of anything that really isn’t needed.  I’ve already filled up 1 cupboard with books, and another with DVDs.

Next week we’ll give the van a good clean, and finalise the modifications to the bike rack.  We will also check if we can get the NOW TV box to work as long as we’ve got WIFI – if anyone knows if this is likely please feel free to share 🙂

Finally I have just 3 weeks left to lose all that weight that I promised I would lose some months ago.  I’ve failed miserably so far, so must try harder!

In my next post I’ll share our route through France.





Return to the Dales with a trip to Malham

That’s me.  Sitting on the very edge of the Malham pavement looking back down the valley towards the village….

No it’s not!  Well it is me (of course), but I’m not actually sitting on the very edge.  I’m not that brave (or stupid..)

If you’ve not heard of it the Malham Pavement is made up of a series of ‘Clints’ (blocks of limestone) and ‘Grykes’ (the gaps in between the blocks) and covers a large area at the top of the cliff at Malham Cove.  Interestingly, both the Cove and the pavement are featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (only interesting, granted, if you are into Harry Potter.  If you are look for my post on Goathland, whose train station doubles as Hogwarts).

Malham itself sits in the south-west of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales.  At the end of our trip around the UK we already knew that we would return to this area, but in the end chose to do so as a daytrip from the perfect little campsite that we had found in Knott End, just north of Blackpool (Bluebell Cottage – click for more details).  It is about 50 miles away but the roads are good and it doesn’t actually take too long to drive it.  We visited The Ribblehead Viaduct on our way home as well.

So, first stop Malham  itself, a pretty little village popular with walkers and tourists, Continue reading “Return to the Dales with a trip to Malham”


Cycle ride to Portchester Castle

This is the 1st time we have actually cycled to Portchester Castle (despite the fact that we only live a couple of miles away…)

And what a beautiful day we chose to do it!  We headed off down the hill and took the road towards the water.  We first visited Wicor Marine from where you can access the Salt Café, sitting directly on the shores of Fareham Creek and well worth a visit for a cuppa and a slice of cake (or perhaps even a glass of wine 🙂 ).

(There is actually a lovely walk around Fareham Creek that can be started from the café (or the castle itself), that takes you around the golf course at Cams Hall (covering much of the Fareham park run route).  Click here for details.

Having stopped by Calv’s sister’s for a cuppa and some oil for Calv’s bike chain we took the path along the shoreline as far as Hospital Lane where we emerged into the heart of old Portchester.  The path was good (although there is a bit with steep drops on either side, 1 down to the shingle beach, the other a grassy ditch, so if you’re not very confident on your bike you would probably get off and walk here!)  The views are just lovely, particularly on a beautiful sunny day (which we are experiencing so many of at the moment 🙂 )


View from our ride along the shore of Fareham Creek towards Portchester Castle

At the end of the path you can continue straight to the castle along the shore – although a short section is on the beach so it’s not really suitable for cycling.  Therefore when you get to the end of the fence separating the shore from the lane down to Turret House, turn left to go up Hospital Lane, where you will found a couple of lovely old houses.  The view of Castle Street when you get to the top is lovely 🙂  (I didn’t take a picture as on a sunny Sunday afternoon the cars have sort of taken over!)

From here it’s just a short hop to the castle (about 20 seconds on bikes, maybe 2 mins if you’re on foot.  Continue reading “Cycle ride to Portchester Castle”

What we learned about the UK in 2017 – Part 2

A much shorter post to mop up the things that I forgot to put in my 1st!

  • In East Sussex in April we found that the birds sang all through the night – bizarre!
  • There are numerous red kites – we saw them everywhere 🙂
  • Most beaches along the East Coast (once you’re in East Anglia and beyond) are sandy.
    • And most of them are absolutely spectacular
  • Some people are incredibly – shall we say daft?  Watching parents standing right on the edge of cliffs with their young children…. just so they can get a selfie, was quite distressing
  • We learned more about the civil war of the 17th Century, and Oliver Cromwell; mainly through our visit to Ely where we found a house that Cromwell and his family had lived in for some time.
  • We learned that Hull is definitely worth a visit; as is Newcastle
  • We found numerous cliff railways and funiculars, including one that is still powered by water at Saltburn by the Sea.  Scarborough had 5, 2 of which are still in operation

  • There are so many heritage railways in operation – mostly operated by volunteers.  Even the prices don’t put people off riding them… The North Yorks Moors steam railway is really rather expensive, but all the trains we saw were packed.  This may have something to do with the fact that Goathland, the 2nd stop on the line, is otherwise known as Hogwarts Station, or even Aidensfield 🙂
  • Attractions are well visited.  People are definitely getting out and about enjoying what this country has to offer
  • It seems that it’s never too early to get your kids starting to trek up mountains; when we went up to Roseberry Topping we encountered a couple with a 1 year old in a back pack!
  • If you look up when encountering sheer hills or mountainsides it’s possible you’ll see a few specks up there – climbers!
  • The Angel of the North is huge.  And really rather impressive
  • Angel of the North 22.9 (12)
  • There were very few towns that we were disappointed to have wasted our time visiting, but there were dozens that we absolutely loved and several that we will definitely return to.  I will deal with all of this in a separate ‘favourites’ post.
  • There are some amazing unsung heroes from recent history who saved much of interest for the public, or simply created areas, buildings or follies that are still of interest today – John Clayton who ensured that Hadrian’s Wall was not dismantled any further; William Armstrong who was an prolific inventor, who built Cragside in Northumberland, the 1st house in the country to be powered by hydro-electricity; ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller who built the Brightling Follies and also bought Bodiam Castle to save it from destruction.
  • Seals bark like dogs – we discovered this when visiting Lindisfarne.  We could hear the noise and found out it was a colony of seals on the other side of an offshore islet
  • The weather at home (on the South Coast) is generally better than what is being experienced further north…
    • However, this doesn’t actually mean that the weather further north is unpleasant.  We had some really lovely days.  It was just generally at least 5 degrees (centigrade) warmer at home!!
  • It is possible to camp at a reasonable price just a short train ride from the centre of London (Kelseys, Sidcup)
  • The coastline is constantly changing.  Various towns are disappearing at varying rates and Spurn Head changes yearly – the road here has been pretty much given up on!
  • And finally, we discovered how much we love travelling and that we will, at some point, pick up where we left off in the UK – with everything else we want to do though this trip may be a few years away 🙂

What we learnt about the UK in 2017 – Part 1

We spent less time travelling around the UK than originally expected, and didn’t get anywhere near as far around the country as we thought we would.

We set off at the beginning of April and the weather finally beat us at the end of October.  We arrived home on 23rd October, a few weeks before we were hoping.

Instead of making our way around the whole of the UK and spending a couple of months in Scotland, we explored the east coast fully, and just made it into Scotland (the furthest north we got was Dunbar, just east of Edinburgh) before we started making our way home via the Lake District and Blackpool.  In this time we also had a week in Ibiza for a family wedding (and what a wonderful week it was too!),  and a couple of weeks, in total, staying near home to catch up with family and friends.  Meaning that our actual time on the road in the UK was 25 weeks (including a diversion to Cornwall).

Obviously we already knew rather more about the UK than about France, Spain or Portugal, but we did learn new things on our way around the country 🙂

So here goes! Continue reading “What we learnt about the UK in 2017 – Part 1”

In Praise of Park Run

In my last post about fitness I mentioned that I almost felt ready to have another go at my local park run, Fareham.  (The photo, btw, is my attempt at a selfie with my sister at the end of the run…  It was very sunny and we couldn’t see!)

So this is just an update to confirm that I have actually done this now (2 weeks ago actually), and I did indeed score a massive PB (as hoped).  Only even better than I had hoped as I knocked over 6 minutes off my first time!  Which means that I broke 40 mins instead of just the 42 mins that I was aiming for 🙂  One very happy lady here!

So how did I do it? Continue reading “In Praise of Park Run”

Getting fit at 50

I’ve now been 50 for almost 4 months and I’m fitter than I’ve been for years!

Let’s not pretend that this is an easy thing for many people to achieve; I’m currently in the enviable position of being able to fit in lots of exercise as and when I choose.  Even if I was busier with work I would still be able to fit exercise around what would, largely, be my own working timetable.

However with the luxury of time that I’m currently enjoying I am taking the opportunity to engage in all sorts of different exercise, such as:-

  • Weekly netball (Back to Netball at Fareham Leisure Centre – I’m also thinking of going along to Fareham College on a Tuesday)
  • Twice weekly Sh’bam classes at Fareham Leisure Centre (with Jo Gentles – fitness instructor with masses of personality!)
  • Bodybalance (a mix of yoga, pilates and tai-chi – the hardest class for me as I’m so inflexible..)
  • LBT once or twice a week
  • Interval training on the treadmill in the gym
  • Individual toning workouts in the gym
  • General walking
  • Fitbit challenges to encourage me to keep walking!

I started back at the gym back in November when I concentrated on a training plan (there are dozens available on the EveryoneActive app – free with membership) in the gym.  I also discovered that there was a back to netball session Continue reading “Getting fit at 50”

Mick’s Monster Burgers – First Timer

Today, for the very first time, I have had a Mick’s Monster Burger from the van up on Portsdown Hill.

This famous Portsmouth landmark (famous in Portsmouth anyway) sits in a decent sized car park/viewing point on Portsdown Hill overlooking Portsmouth (fabulous views to be had).  It lies just passed The Churchillian pub (or just before depending on which way you’re travelling of course).  There is also usually an ice-cream van in the car park

Open 24/7 it was even busy today which is dreary and wet – we still had to queue.  Although the queue was never less than 5 people in the time we were there, it did move quickly.  And even today we saw people with an ice cream (that’s usually us to be fair!)

In such an environment there were scores of gulls flying around pouncing on any discarded food!  Sat safely in the car they didn’t bother us at all though 🙂

Most amusing though was when we saw a group of 4 or 5 Japanese tourists turn up; and yes, they were taking photos of the burger van and selfies!  Brilliant 🙂

So the big question, of course, is ‘Did I have an actual monster burger?!’  The answer is no – of course not; the monster burgers contain a 1lb burger together with any extras you choose.  We opted for the small 1/4 pounder – I had cheese and mushroom, Calv cheese and bacon and Sam, a chilli relish.  Sam also ordered small chips, which were more than enough for all 3 of us.

I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy my food so much; the bread was fresh, the burger wasn’t greasy and the chips were cooked fresh to order (and were lush).

I’m not going to say we’ll be rushing back every week, BUT we would if we were regular burger van visitors!

Just as an aside I did used to like to think that the song “What’s that coming over the hill? Is it a Monster” by The Automatic was written about Mick’s Monster Burgers….   It turns out it’s not!  Shame….