Rock Climbing

Our travels were to take us next towards Devon where we booked in for three nights at the Lynton campsite on the North coast.

En route we decided to take a look at Stonehenge because we had never seen it and felt that most people, at least once in their lives, have to consider this mystery from close proximity. We set Daisy’s fridge to manual, removed the chocks and let the throttle bring her up to a nifty sixty five (only dropping to 40 on the hills or to annoy the hell out of the locals).

The good news about Stonehenge is that it costs £20 a head to get in!

Yes, you guessed it. English Heritage allows Historic Scotland renewal members to get in for free.


Particularly smug bastards

Now we spent over £20 on two scoops of mush called Stone Hot Pot for lunch so it wasn’t that big a saving. We also had a rock cake that looked like it had been baked by Neolithic man.


Stonehenge is an enigma apparently. No-one can fathom why it was built.

I can.

More of that later.

When we arrived we noticed there was a small gathering of travellers encamped nearby and two police vans protecting the commercial opportunities this national treasure offers its entrepreneurial owners from them.


Well next Thursday is summer solstice and that is the very best time to sacrifice your youngest daughter, her pet lamb and six chickens from the farm down the road. It is also the case that the fertility of men is increased if they dance naked around the stones – and any child born thereafter will have the power to travel through time.

Or something like that.

I don’t think there’s any real mystery to it.

Imagine for a moment you are part of a thriving farming community in Neolithic times. You tend to your crops diligently and you protect yourself from the elements inside a lovely mud hut with an en suite cow shed.

The most important thing in the world to you is to know when to plant crops, when to harvest them and when to start storing up food for the long hard winter nights. You need a calendar.

Now scholars are not averse to the suggestion that Stonehenge (or any other henge for that matter) is a means of noting the time of the year. They are aligned with the longest and shortest days and, at any given time of the year, you could easily go along at sunrise or sunset and get a cracking good estimate of how long you have left before the weather is going to turn cold and you need to get the heating back on for the winter.

‘Ridiculous!’ they say. ‘What about the fact that it took 400 men 14 days to drag just one massive stone 130 miles from Wales? That can’t just be for a clock!’

Okay, so let’s rewind.

You need a henge for your community to tell the time of year for all the above reasons. The most obvious solution is to use trees or smaller rocks to build a circle that will indicate the seasons just as well as the massive monoliths we see today.

What happens?

Well the neighbouring tribes who wander by see some lovely trimmed wood or well selected stones that would do very well as construction materials for their new homes. To hell with the trouble of cutting down our own in the forest! Let’s just snaffle this lot!

And when the villagers challenge the culprits what do they say?

‘Don’t know what you’re on about, squire. Got these trees/stones from the forest myself. You can’t prove it.’

So how do you stop this happening?

Get really, really BIG stones! And ones from so far away that they cannot possibly be mistaken for local ones.

Tough one to deny now!

‘Where did you get that 24 ton, 30 foot high lump of rock you are using to hold up your washing line mate?’


Non-portable calendar


Is it really so hard to imagine that Neolithic man would not be able to pull together 400 men for a few month to build something that won’t be stolen for the next 2500 years? When it is something so important?

Nowadays we are happy to take years to build a large civic facility. How many people does it take to build a new school?

How long is it taking to dual the A9?

We loved Stonehenge, but only at the price we paid. Not sure it was worth £20 to see.

We then headed to Lynton campsite arriving just around 5 p.m.

Being a particularly stunning location we decided to set up our windbreakers outside so we could sit and take in the view.

Unfortunately my wife forgot to pack the mallet.

‘Hold on!’ you cry. At least the women amongst you do.

Now this goes all the way back to Neolithic times too – and is no mystery! When a man marries a woman he enters into a sacred, mutually beneficial arrangement that cannot be broken and should never be misunderstood.

She gets protection from sabre toothed tigers and marauding Vikings and we never ever have to remember to take anything on a trip ever.

Fortunately the man camped next door showed sympathy and lent me his mallet – which his wife had dutifully packed.

Now Lynton village is not too far to walk – but the campsite is at the top of a hill (and a big hill at that) so it takes about half an hour to get there and the rest of the day to get back.

Now its funny how you can brim with confidence heading downhill early in the day – never giving a thought to the return journey. You don’t mind that the owners of a Christian retreat called Lee Abbey allow you to walk half a mile before telling you that you are not religious enough to use their path to the coast and make you turn back.


They say the meek shall inherit the earth! The sheep in their field must be praying for the day they can crap in their beds.

And we thought nothing of climbing Castle Rock to view the distant Welsh coast alongside the mountain goats of Devon.


Our first day therefore was spent scaling hills and exploring this hilly little village and its neighbour Lynmouth which is accessed by a unique water powered cliff railway. Very exciting!


The tracks of the Lynton and Lynmouth Railway

Now there is no attempt to be funny here. I love trains. It’s my saddest and most geekiest attribute. There is no electricity or fuel involved here. The two trains are counterbalanced so when one is heavier than the other it comes down while the other goes up. And in order to vary its weight it uses water from the river to fill the tanks of both trains. The bottom train now starts spilling out water making it lighter than the top one which then comes down. It is perfectly engineered and is quite a work of art.

You do worry about getting a burst though. I am sure it has brakes.

Now speaking of works of art, the cream tea at a little cafe called Charlie Fridays is the best we have enjoyed bar none. I have to say, passing the little cafe at the top of the railway, we saw an exceptional looking scone too but we had already demolished a dairy by the time we saw it.


Dear Lord!

That was lunch – we couldn’t take any more. We shopped a bit and then made our way up the hill for the next three days and nights before taking on oxygen for the final push back to the campsite. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration. We were home by the evening and fired up the BBQ for some dirty campsite burgers made with almost-out-of-date bargain mince from the local Londis and a side order of Doritos. Best burger of the holiday!


Dirty burger from the campsite

For the next day we planned to take Daisy to the village of Clovelly which so many people have told us is enchanting and a must-see when in Devon. It’s a conservation area, privately owned and (you are not going to believe this) subject to admission fee!

Yes, it costs eight quid to walk into this village which has a single cobbled street winding down to the harbour and a tarmacadam one tucked away in some trees so you don’t know that he locals can get their cars down to the beach.

Now it is lovely!


But not 16 quid worth of lovely.

And the ice cream at the harbour was not three fifty worth of anything,


Oh dear!

So we went for a dip to make up for the disappointment.


Actual live sketch of us heading into the sea by local Clovelly artist.

Now we also visited Ilfracombe today which is a large seaside town with some lovely views. The most intriguing thing I found here was a Damien Hirst statue at the harbour.


On this side of the statue it is a pregnant woman standing on a pile of law books. She is called Verity.

On the side you cannot see it is the woman with her skin stripped off. I could not photograph it as the section of harbour was locked up. You can see a bit on the leg peeled back.

I think it is fascinating. The locals find it hideous apparently but it is anything but. It is revealing – the truth (Verity) is that we are all pretty hideous with our skin pulled back. We have to get used to that or change our perception of what looks beautiful.

What absolutely looks beautiful is my dinner from tonight.


This was at the Exmoor Manor Hotel and Beggars Roost Restaurant. It was pricey by my standards but this belly of pork was marvellous. We had to walk four miles of hills there and back to get it though!

Tomorrow we head into Cornwall for a long awaited appointment with Rick Stein’s fish and chip shop.

Famous Places & Famous People

We travelled South to Oxford and decided to stop for the day in Stratford-Upon-Avon to prepare for the experience by getting some culture into our pleb minds – after all that salt-of-the-earth-nonsense we swallowed in that Liverpool.


Stratford, for those of you who skipped English at school, is the birthplace of William Shakespeare. That’s the poet no-one understands and everyone pretends to like.


It’s a pretty enough place – but it was obvious from the over-inflated prices that we were in tourist-ville. Three quid for a single scoop of ice cream that tasted 90% of ice, 10% of the last ice cream scooped and 0% of cream.

And to see inside Shakespeare’s house? To enjoy the privilege of seeing the writing desk of the man who tortured several billion school children over three or more centuries, you had to part with £20 of the money you earned doing a job that did not involve any requirement for you to say ‘verily I comeft from far lands to unblocketh thy loo’ or ‘I amft afraid, verily, that thy automobile needeth a new carburettor.’

You could say we ‘suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’.

Anyway we got our picture taken in front of the house instead.


Can’t afford this one? Not so smuggeth now….

We then wandered along to the riverside in search of greater inspiration for our culture-hungry minds and were torn between exploring the Royal Shakespeare Theatre archives for his lesser known soliloquies or sitting on our arses in a boat for forty minutes.


So it was a lovely boat ride up and down the Avon looking at houses we will never afford, healing our jealous dignity by assuming them to be drug-dealers or, worse, bankers.

We finished our day with a quick visit to the Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare was interred along with his wife Anne Hathaway and some other relatives that did not star in The Devil Wears Prada.

Being inside a church you did not have to pay to get in – as long as you had the gall to walk past a very large church elder whose quiet voice and reverent smile belied the 20 inch forearms he bore, tattooed with the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse each drinking Guinness from the skull of a Scotsman.

If you couldn’t do that it cost £6.


Totally inappropriate picture of someone’s last resting place.

So having seen the grave we skipped town just before our three hour parking ticket ran out and we headed to Oxford, brimming with culture and theatrical luvvie-ness.

Our campsite in Oxford was just a mile and a half from the city centre, which was great as we could walk in and not pay for any transport. It also allowed us to walk through the lower rent area of the city, where most of the houses had been given over to student lets or abandoned to the homeless. Looking at them you could not tell one from the other.

Now whatever subjects they are teaching at this elite University, I can absolutely assure you that none of them require any knowledge of cleaning dishes, clothes or windows. The sights we saw!


Student motto inside public loo. 

There’s a stark contrast when you get into the city though, the male students are wandering about in dark suits, shirts and ties and sporting roses in their lapels. This is a tradition, we were told. Students on their final exams wear suits and display a different coloured flower depending on what stage they are at.

At first I thought the females students had to wear dangerously low cut dresses and skirts so short you could carry out a cervical exam just by bending down to tie your shoelace. But it seems these young ladies were just the guys’ hookups. The female students were similarly business-attired, they just didn’t parade around the town with underage girls in tow.

Dinner on the first night was at Byron Burger which is far better in England than in Scotland because they are permitted to cook their burgers pink. In Scotland we have to eat them well done because we are NOT English. Yes?

No thanks.


Pink Byron burger.

For lunch next day we went to the Covered Market and ate some very nice flat breads with smoked salmon and cream cheese.


Next we visited the Bodleian Library in Oxford because a) it is a very old library full of culture and stuff, b) it let us have a look inside the University and – most importantly c) it was where Hermione worked out what Fluffy, the three headed dog, was guarding in the first Harry Potter film.

I cannot show you a picture of this library because we were not allowed to take pictures and the beady-eyed librarian had spotted me and my devious ways the second I entered the room. He never took his eyes off me til I left.

Mad-eyed moody!

This was at the entrance though.


Very dull statue outside Bodleian Library where the more interesting stuff is….

And this was just inside before the photo ban kicked in…


 A box

We then wandered over the street to see an exhibition of J.R.R Tolkien’s drawings of Middle Earth including the original of his dust cover for the Hobbit. This was a real thrill because I am a genuine fan of the books.

The films? Nah.

Tolkien was a student and professor at Oxford and the exhibition gave a great insight into what a true geek he was. The original geek I would call him. He spend his life creating Middle Earth including the construction of Elvish languages and detailing the landscape in very technical mapping terms. A mad genius.

And speaking of made up languages.

There are lots of people who come to Oxford I am certain, from all walks of life. But it is fascinating to discover that, while not required to wash anything ever, they are required to learn a new way of conversing with each other in the pub.

The Oxford language has only three letters – A, F, H and W. It’s most common word is


It is so common that the unlearned ear can only ever make this word out, repeated incessantly – fwah fwah fwah fwah fwah fwah fwah.

There is a strong nasal quality to the accent of course and, if you listen long enough you can make several distinctions.

Sometimes, when laughter is called for, they mix up the letter and there is a burst of – HWAF, WAF, WAF, WA. It quickly settles back to fwah fwah though.

There is only one interrogative pronoun – a wha?

They never miss the ‘a’ in front – it is lengthened slightly and the voice pitch rises a little. You can easily tell a joke is being told by an Oxford Student in a pub. It goes:

Joke teller – A wha fwah fwah fwah fwah?

Audience – A wha?

Joke Teller – Fwah fwah fwah fwah ….

Audience – HWAF, WAF, WAF, WA!!

The HWAF section is usually led by the joke teller him (or herself) and it is louder than anything else in the pub – as a rule.

Like some of the ancient languages there are clearly some words that don’t exist and, very occasionally, you can grab a snippet that makes sense. Common words you might recognise are archaeology, pint of cider and apple mac.

We ate dinner at the White Rabbit (C.S. Lewis was also a student at Oxford). This pub is a student and professor filled backstreet pub with amazing pizza. £25 for the two pizzas, two pints (diet coke) and a side salad!


Who pulled that out of the hat?

To finish our Oxford day we saw ‘The Final Curtain’ at the local theatre. This is a new Sherlock Holmes story starring Robert Powell who was Jesus of Nazareth if you are of my generation and was in Casualty for the rest of you; and Liza Goddard who was in Give Us a Clue for those of us who saw the eighties, and also in Casualty for everyone else.

It was not very good.

What was fun was that we got to sit after the show and listen to the actors talk rubbish about all their luvvieness and thespian achievements while we sat lapping up all the stardom in front of us. An after-show chat with the stars!

My wife banned me from asking if Liza Goddard thought she or Una Stubbs was the better captain in Give Us A Clue, so I had to try to think of a better one. Also banned was asking Robert Powell if he was up for a sequel to Jesus and I was not permitted to flirt with Liza Goddard (that woman is as enchanting as ever).

There were some crap questions for others so I am not so sure my ideas were so inappropriate. One guy asked the actor who had clearly had ripped off Dr Dawson from Basil  the Great Mouse Detective for his portrayal of Watson if he had used any other actor for inspiration. No, he lied. It was all his own. Like there was never going to be a member of this Oxford audience who had watched the Disney film! Poor gamble – I saw right through him.

And Robert Powell made more mention of his Shakespearean credits than address the huge plot holes in this current offering. ‘What was going on in the last scene?’ someone asked. ‘Ah yes! We mean’t to cut that out. It doesn’t make sense does it?’

Nope! You should have stopped at ‘the game’s afoot!’

Now I finally worked out a great question to ask. It had lots of insight and would have drawn out some interesting takes on the theme of the play, but the interview wifey called a halt to questions just as I was about to overcome my shyness and blurt it out.

I seethed all the way home.

Una Stubbs was clearly better!


Chinese Puzzles

I am certain you have been anxious to find out if we made it to Liverpool. Did my sheer bloody mindedness, sticking plaster and rusty hose clip see us safely down the M74, M6 and that other road to that Liverpool?

I can certainly say is that staring at a temperature gauge for three hours is a real conversation killer. We didn’t say much other than…

‘How does it look now?’

‘It seems to be fine?’


‘A bit high.’

‘How is it now?’

‘A tad to the right of the little light in the middle?’

‘What does that mean?’

‘A little hotter than I’d like it to be?’

Short period of silence.

‘How is it now?’

‘It’s down below the little light in the middle.’

‘That’s good then?’

‘I guess.’

‘Do you want some water?’

‘For me or Daisy?’



‘Some fruit pastilles?’

Now it’s not that we normally fill our travelling hours with a riveting discourse on the merits of unilateralism as it relates to foreign aid or on the benefits of stringent rules on international monetary policy, but we do usually have a chat about something other than the position of a vehicle temperature needle.

‘No fruit pastilles for me please. They night spoil my concentration.’


So for three hours of tension (like no human has ever had to endure) we pushed on to our campsite in Rainford just outside the land of Scouse.  We had breakfasted on dreadful rations from Harry Ramsden at Abington services and set off just before eight. I had already been through the entire journey in my sleep so it was like a repeat of the whole journey. Daisy arrived water-tight and running like a dream just before eleven.


Oh hang on! We still had to get pitched, find the trains, get to Liverpool and find the World Museum before our one thirty slot.

Now Bridge Farm in Rainford is a bit of a campsite-in-development, but at £15 a night its location for accessing Liverpool cannot be surpassed.  The train station is five minutes from the gate (the Bridge in the title being the Railway Bridge over the station) and there is a regular service from Manchester that takes you to Kikby and with one train swap later you are in Liverpool in 40 minutes.

Okay, Okay! Yes we made it to the museum in time for our slot to see the famous Chinese Terracotta Warriors.


This is no place for tacky selfies!

When I think that the day before we were considering staying in Abington to wait for a professional repair and abandon our day in the city I shudder at the very idea. Daisy is a miracle!


Confucius say ‘man who values silly van more than wife will have no cake’

And the Chinese Terracotta warriors are another blooming miracle. Nothing I can write here can help you appreciate how these ancient treasures affect you. None of the pictures taken will ever give you a sense of how incredible it is to stand in the presence of something that was crafted over 2000 years ago. It’s a terrific exhibition and I was left at the end wondering how a place like Liverpool could have ever attracted such a display.

Well you just need to spend a sunny afternoon in Liverpool to understand. It’s a fabulous place!


Now there are those who know me who might be thinking – no way would he criticise the place anyway. There’s a fiery Scouser of some explosive capability he knows who would destroy him with a glance if he was nasty about this place.

Well that’s true.

But I don’t need to lie. Look at me at the Cavern.

Look at the lovely beach …


.. er well maybe not so much,

We had our lunch in the cafe at the museum and that was forgettable. We had an ice cream by the riverside and that was equally forgettable.

What was NOT forgettable was the city and the positivity of the people. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying but they all seemed really upbeat.


‘Any chance you know how to send a text on this thing?’

Now I like to understand a culture if it speaks to me and I find Liverpool quite fascinating. Like Glasgow the city has strong Northern Irish connections, a ship-building history, an intense football rivalry and a river with more shite in it than fish. There’s a strange kind of pride in the people that is a mystery.

I think I got a flavour of where they are coming from by visiting the Maritime Museum. The exhibition on the Lusitania is very revealing – there is a Glasgow connection here too. A passenger ship built by blood, sweat in tears in Clydeside provided passage to and from the USA from Liverpool and was sunk by a German U-boat in 1915 killing dozens of local people. You get a sense of Liverpool from knowing how there is an underlying bitterness at losing children caught in the crossfire of idiots from the South arguing over who has the biggest …. Uboat.


Propeller from Lusitania.

But with all that difficult history Liverpool is on the rise. The city is developing, there are really cool parts to it and the people are welcoming, friendly and full of character.

Really full of character!


Stop horsing around!

Anyway – enough of this philosophical and sentimental tosh. You want to know what I ate.

We ate at the Junction Pub in Rainford which is a pretty decent inn ten minutes from the campsite. I had a steak cooked (by myself) on a slab of granite straight out of their oven. I could only blame myself if the steak was badly done. It was perfectly done.


My good lady had chicken goujons with the inevitable ‘hand-cut’ chips – as is the new trend. A wee bit of salad on the side and some dressings. Perfectly adequate for £25.  On Monday’s the starters are free so we had some haloumi fries and pate which we mixed and matched.

Today we are heading to Oxford for two nights.

She was hot!

No – the Rolling Stones did not play their 1983 single ‘She was hot’ at the Murrayfield concert we attended on Saturday….

…but that’s not where I am going with this title anyway. Nor is it anything to do with this Carry On Camping moment from the showers at one of our first stops.


Oo-er missus! Is this the gents?

The girl who was ‘hot’ on our first weekend was – of course – Daisy.  More of that later.

First of all I have to mention the troublesome traffic in Perth and my utter contempt for the roadworks planning team who have failed to keep up with my summer itinerary and have placed a mile of cones leading up to and beyond the Broxden roundabout. Not only was this very dull – it stopped me accessing the Broxden Farm Carvery at precisely the right time for my lunch. I had ages to wait for food!

But I was cheered up by the cheesecake!

Sadly I have lost the picture I took of it so here is the online version of it


It is flippin’ enormous. It’s a fiver for a slice, near as dammit, but it feeds the family. Or me.

We also had some soup and a rather excellent Yorkshire pudding rolly-up thing that had roast beef and gravy in it.

That was our lunch. We then set off for Edinburgh probably carrying a bit more weight than usual. Daisy was feeling the heat I guess, sitting bored in traffic for ages, not getting to come in for cake, having to carry us after we ate the cake. She’s a van for heaven’s sake – why do we personify her? It’s not like she has feelings! Or does she?

We then took the bus into the city – leaving Daisy to cool off at daughter number two’s flat in Cramond. There was no real plan here, but we decided at the last minute to go to the castle. We have been Historic Scotland members for many years so the £17.50 entry fee did not worry us!


Smug Bastards!

The shower picture at the top of this blog is actually in the cells of the castle where we visited for the first time. It was an eye opener!

eye eye

After our short visit to the castle we made our way to the Rolling Stones at Murrayfield.

Now when we bought out tickets for the Rolling Stones we did so thinking we’d better do it soon before they collapse and die of old age. Mick Jagger is 74 after all. We really thought it was probably a final chance before they are forced into retirement.

Well I can see them going for ten years yet!

Mick Jagger looks like a twenty year old – at least from the distance we were away from the stage.


He strutted about the stage for over two hours, ran up and down that runway and bounced about like an adolescent on speed. The support act, Richard Ashcroft (the Verve) finished his set with ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’! I’m afraid they blooming well must if the Stones are anything to go by.

Now it wasn’t all plain sailing for these senior rockers. There was a shower of rain before they came on and everyone on the crew had to run off to the changing rooms to get every towel in the stadium so they could dry off the stage. I’m guessing they were worried about slips and trips. You’d have thought Ronnie Wood’s hip would have forewarned them about the bad weather but there you are.

There were also a few towellings in between songs, crew members running all over the stage. If I hadn’t seen the earlier rain shower I’d have thought Jagger was prone to a bit of incontinence they way they were wiping up after him.

Anyway, the Rolling Stone were immensely good and I see little chance of them stopping taking the roof off venues for some time to come. The last time I came to Murrayfield was to see Madonna bomb with her MDNA tour. She had the arrogance to think she could fill a stadium and play nothing but new songs. Twit! The Rolling Stones gave us all the right stuff – from Honky Tonk Women to Satisfaction – it was a blast.


Top class cuisine at the Rolling Stones.

Our food before the gig was the delights on offer from the mobile vendor village (it was situated between the defibrillator village and the zimmer park). The only good thing about this was the fact that I asked for chips only and they thought I wanted cheese on top. I saved £1.50 on that sprinkling of cheddar!

We took the tram back to town and then bussed it to daughter number two’s flat for the night before our long journey south.

Long journey south?


‘F*^&%*&%&G Camper vans*

According to google Abingdon, is a historic market town and civil parish in the ceremonial county of Oxfordshire. There you can see the beautiful Abingdon Abbey, visit the Town Museum and walk for miles along the lovely Thames Path.

Abington in Scotland is a motorway services village just off the M74.

Guess which one we reached?

So Daisy, a little tetchy after we travelled on posh trams, buses and ambled round castles without her, decided to blow her top about three miles short of the lovely little … er …. slip lane to Abington. The temperature was looking a bit high for quite a while and me ignoring it hoping it would go away turned out to be a poor mechanical diagnostic assessment. Out came the AA (this is a repeat of last year isn’t it?) and a short section of rubber pipe popping off appeared to be the culprit.

However, the AA man (lovely and helpful as he was) decided that he could not effect the repair at the roadside and advised the charming nearby village as a suitable stop-over while we waited for the local garage to open in the morning.

But I have tickets for the Chinese Warriors and I want to see Liverpool and I want cake and things!

Abington is not a suitable stop over for any amount of time. The local hotel? Closed. The local campsite? £20 – no wifi unless you buy a coffee at the local cafe – and it closes at five. Other facilities? Nope.

We decided to effect the repair using sheer bloody mindedness and obtained a length of hose that could be cut to size. I wriggled my frame under the chassis of our beloved Daisy and patched her up perfectly (I think).

We ran her to overheating point to check the seal and … she overheated.

No leaks though – she kept the coolant in this time. The damn fan wouldn’t kick in though.

Our dilemma….

Do we abandon our lovely trip into England-shire and get relayed back home and seek a last minute break (don’t worry – you will still be part of that adventure!).

Or do we chance it?

Late update – after some fuse fiddling and switch bypassing – for some odd reason her fan started to kick in. She appears sealed and cooling normally.

I’m on the edge of my seat. What will happen?

Ah yes! Finally. We decided to return from the quaint little village of Abington to the services where we booked into the Days Inn so we could shower, eat something other than tinned soup and prepare for our next push early in the morning. We have a half one appointment with the Chinese Warriors in Liverpool and – with courage, daring, six bottles of water and a spare hose clip – we intend to make a damn good try to get there.




Harry Ramsden at Abingdon … yawn…




Driving Miss Daisy Too!

It’s that time again! Two weeks just me, Daisy and that other lady in my life heading on to the road to find adventure, new experiences and lots and lots of cake.

If you are of a mind to join us I will be posting regular updates over the two weeks. Hopefully you might get some travel tips, become jealous of the food I am eating and have the odd laugh.

Daisy is on the charge as we speak, trembling with excitement on the drive outside. She passed her MOT without studying a single day, I have touched up her paint so she looks pretty for all the Mazda Bongos she might come across, and her tank is filled to the brim.

First stop is Edinburgh tomorrow night. The Rolling Stones play Murrayfield and we have our tickets in hand. Then it’s off to Liverpool!


Bath to Cumbria

This will be the last blog of the holiday. We set off for home tomorrow and the story of that long road through Scotland is not one I will be relating on this occasion.

Much of the last few days have been on the road as we make our way back up the country, sadly saying goodbye to Cornwall’s lovely seaside towns and cream scones.

In deciding on stopovers for the way home we chose a campsite near Bath, as we needed one by this time, and Windermere in the Lake District (in case the bath wasn’t big enough).

Our journey to Bath was carefully planned by me the evening before travel.  Hearing that Bath does not welcome vehicles to the city centre I decided that we would use a park and ride somewhere we would be able to escape easily from during the rush hour.  After considering all of the available information the park and ride on the South side of the city offered the best chance of getting in to the city centre for a reasonable amount of time and allowing us to access the road to the campsite without encountering the city jam at rush hour.

With so much planning what could possibly go wrong.


Yep – my lovely Daisy was a head too tall for the car park.

Of course the two and a half hours of driving in the heat without air conditioning did not have any impact on my reaction to this. I calmly drove down towards Bath to ‘park wherever the $%^&* we can.’

We found a suitable location just a half mile into the city limits just at the side of the road and close to a bus stop. Perfect – we headed into town for the afternoon.

Now Bath is a lovely city, and we only really dipped our toes in (ahem). With more time we could have explored the riverside and the museum. Oh and the shops.


But we had to be selective with so little time (sorry – shops will have to wait). Being a Roman history nut, I wanted to see the Roman Baths.

The Roman Baths are truly terrific, but only if you are really interested. I was not completely knocked unconscious by the ridiculous £17 per person entry fee but would understand why others might be.  So – yes – £34 for the two of us to visit a leisure centre – 2000 years after it closed down.


You would be right in assuming that you are not allowed to do this…

It is something quite amazing to see, though. The functioning of the hot water spring is still complete and the bath is fed in the way it was in Roman times.  And the museum they have built around it takes you carefully through the exhibits in a way that helps your understanding. It’s well done.

Now they must have had well over a thousand visitors on the day we were there. That’s £17 K for.  Based on only 200 good days per year that’s over 3 million. Not bad being invaded by the Romans was it?

But they are good at exploiting legacies in England. Not just ancient ones, very recent ones too.

We saw how a family can make a business because their grandfather decided to build a sign at the farthest point in mainland Britain; we saw how a village can be buzzing with tourist activity just because a successful TV series was filmed there, how a pub can make a killing from being written into a famous book.

Exploiting legacies is disturbingly common in England. I’m not sure we Scots are as good at it. They say we are mean?

Now lunch in Bath was street food from a vendor near the bus station. The wait was a bit long and the staff could have doubled their takings for the day if they knew how to cater for numbers. People were put off by the queue. I persevered and we had chilli and chicken wraps with spiced fries. Very nice they were too.


At the end of the day we returned to Daisy to discover that we were parked nose towards the town in a dual carriageway with no turning point.

So we spent the next hour in Bath’s unwelcoming rush hour traffic. Lovely. Planning is everything.

Our campsite was near Devizes, a canal side location with ‘a charming towpath ideal for walking and cycling along’. What was worrying was the number of canal barges that looked like they housed the West Midlands’ most wanted serial killers. The number of rusted bikes stacked on the top of the barges sent shivers down by spine! The trophies of a psychopathic community of canal prowling murders….?


Now I’m sorry if that is offensive to the good people of the canal who live near Devizes – but I can only say what I saw – and felt – the chill down my spine when a toothless hag looked me up and down, licked her lips and said ‘hello there, you’re a plump one dear  – stranger to these parts are you?’ (adopt voice of green-faced witch from Wizard of Oz for effect).


‘Come, come my pretties! The life on the canal will be full of joy and …. AAAARRRGHHH!!!

We walked a few hundred yards down the canal, saw the blood (or rust) stained bikes stacked high, turned back and ran into our camper van to quiver through the thunder and lightning that (coincidentally) lit up the night sky while we tried to sleep.

In the morning we moved quickly out of the campsite and headed North by half nine.

This was going to be a long and uneventful day.

The hours between Bath and Windermere are considerable. And it’s mostly motorway so ‘Camperaderie’ is very challenging. The other carriageway is just too far to see. Instead we fired up the tunes and tried to determine the best music for hippy camper van types to drive by.

So we went through the Carpenter’s Collection. Not bad – sixties and seventies hippy stuff. Middle of the road (chortle) and we could sway from side to side in perfect unison while merrily making our way.  But it’s a bit tame for my wife and I. We were of the punk era, we moved into New Romantic and Europop during the eighties.  We grew with U2, the Clash and the Smiths backtracking out formative years.

On our USB stick we found Coldplay. Not a big fan but they are quite traditional as a rock band, fairly meaty guitar stuff and plenty whining vocals from ’that guy that married the famous actress.’

Nah! It gets on my nerves.

Next up …

‘Ground control to major Tom …. Ground control to major Tom ….’

It turns out David Bowie is the perfect hippy mix for hours of travel in a van called Daisy.

From just north of Bath to the turn off for Kendal Bowie took us all the way. He was getting a bit shit by the time we arrived – ‘Blue Jean? Under Pressure?’ – but the early stuff saw us through.

Kendal is a nice little town and we strolled among the shops and found some junk shops that my wife loves to raid for … well junk I guess. She got some too.


Nice of them to roll out the banner for us arriving.

Our campsite was just outside Kendal and not really anywhere close to Windermere. Despite this it was called Windermere Campsite – to fool people into thinking it is somewhere close to Lake Windermere.

In fact we had that old classic English mile to contend with in the morning. ‘Yes, it’s four miles to Windermere – so you can probably walk it.’

It’s seven miles to Windermere by the shortest possible walking route. I know because we did walk it this morning.

That said – it was a lovely walk using Dales Way – a public right of way through the Cumbrian countryside.


A wall and scenery and stuff … on mile six of our four mile walk to Windermere.

Now my wife is a bit nervous of large animals. Big dogs she loves – anything bigger than that she can’t cope with. Dales Way passes through numerous farms and space is often shared with sheep and cows.

She was very brave though, in spite of her significant cycling injuries hampering her movements. At one point I turned to see her with a stick in her hand. Not big enough to use as a walking aid, I asked her what she was doing with it.

‘In case the cows attack.’

Is there a recognised defence against maniacal cows that involves the use of a three foot stick? Not that I am aware of.  I assumed she might consider throwing it as a distraction, perhaps hoping that cows and dogs have some common ancestry that would cause it to chase the stick instead of mauling her to death before eating her carcass.

It turns out she intended to ‘poke at it’ if it made an attempt on her life. I begged her to throw it away in case a cow did chance in her direction and she stabbed the poor thing for doing nothing more than spotting a nice bit of grass near her feet. She kept it though – until the stile took us out of harm’s way.


WARNING – if you have cows in your family, make them look away. She is armed.

Silly …..

After our long trek we enjoyed lunch at the Cafe Italia in Windermere. I had a chicken and bacon crepe – very nice – and my bovine battering belle had a brie and bacon toastie thing (it was named something posher than that, but that’s what it was).


That might look crepe! It was very nice.

We then dropped in for a cream tea at a place called Monties and tried an ice cream at ‘The World’s Best Ice Cream’ vendor further down the road. It was all small portions – don’t judge!

In fact the single scoop of ‘world’s best’ ice cream was particularly small. £2? World’s best scam if you ask me. It was nice enough – had better this holiday.


Here’s some free advertising for you.

Our last adventure was to take a boat trip round the North end of Lake Windermere. For a tenner each this seemed (and was) good value. We sat outside enjoying the sunshine and the bracing air as we gawped jealously at all the big houses people somehow have the money to buy around the water’s edge.


I just don’t get it. How can so many people afford these big houses? They must cost over a million each. Are there so many multi-millionaires in this country?

Of course there must be.

I wondered which house belonged to the people who charge you to stand beside the Land’s End sign.

Our final meal of the holiday was mediocre by any standards. The campsite has a pub and we decided to try it out. Mine was a medium rare steak and chips, the cow-assassin had a burger. I could see her relishing the moment her teeth sunk into the meat of her quarry.


Classic 1980s fare for a 1980s couple…

Truthfully –she didn’t finish it. It wasn’t good.

So that is our holiday in Daisy for the year. We may take her out again before winter – perhaps the North 500. Who knows? She has been fantastic – some minor hiccups along the way but definitely a thing of beauty.

I hope you have enjoyed the trip. If you didn’t – I would have written it anyway and will probably do it all again next year.


Note: No cows were hurt in the making of this blog.

Famous Places

Surfing is big in Cornwall.

Now I decided that I would not learn to surf on this holiday as I wanted to dedicate the time to doing other active pursuits – for example eating.

Had I decided to try surfing though, I would have taken care to observe carefully (as I have done from the shore) the habits of the true surfing community.

Some young men (and not so young) appear to have made a few errors by not making such careful observation.  It is clear that a muscular physique is needed but the carefree attitude to displaying it in your underwear is not necessary. It is also not crucial that you remove your wetsuit on the exposed side of the camper van so everyone can see your tanned godliness.  Play fighting with your male buddies whenever a female comes into view does not give you perfect balance on a surf board either.

However it is advantageous to have long, tightly curled hair (blond or jet black) – and a beard can be useful too.

When in the water you should lie on your board for an inordinate amount of time ‘waiting for a good swell’. If you jump too soon and the swell breaks too early you risk looking like an amateur in front of the more experienced surfers (and the women) who will undoubtedly take the very next swell and surf all the way to shore. If you need guidance look for well tanned, muscular men with tightly curled long hair. They are sure to know the right swell to jump on.

In every seaside town in Cornwall there are wetsuits, surf boards and other surf-related items for sale.  It does seem to be a pretty inexpensive activity too, £20 will buy a half-decent wet-suit and a board (play sized) can be obtained for less than a tenner.

The beach is free as long as you do not intend to pass close to any wooden direction signs on the way.

Anyway I am rambling.

Yesterday’s activities took us into Penzance first of all. We were on the lookout for pirates, smugglers and some inexpensive gifts to take back home. Thoughtful but really cheap was the aim.


A real pirate ship (and gift shop) in Penzance.

Why are pirates from Penzance?  They just AAARHHH!

Now Penzance is a decent sized seaside town with all the usual features of seaside towns such as Bournemouth. Enough said? Yep – we gave it an hour and headed for Bodmin.

Although our destination was not really Bodmin. We were heading for a lovely little fishing port on the North side of the peninsula called Port Isaac. Bodmin was the place Sybil decided we should spend half an hour in looking for the exit.

Sybil has been made largely redundant now that I have grown some confidence in my wife’s navigation ability. I say some confidence; I am not a complete fool.

The final straw came when she took us down a way and I chose to ignore her advice. Upset at my damn cheek she gave me a sharp toned ‘please make a U turn at the next opportunity’ warning while I drove on. She then repeated the warning after a minute, then after 30 seconds, and then almost repeatedly. Each time her flipping, posh, Mrs-almighty-know-it-all, condescending voice became increasingly irritating to the point that I snapped.

‘Turn that bloody thing off. You’re in charge from now on!’

Things improved a good deal from that point on.  My wife is now chief navigator.

After getting out of Bodmin we found Trelawney’s Garden Centre Restaurant and decided that the connection to Harry Potter’s divination teacher could not be missed. Of course there was no connection whatsoever, unless my prediction that we would have a good lunch here counts.

We waited an age to get served our Sunday lunch but it was full on gut-busting stuff when we got it.


Where does it all go?   ….  ‘no porta potty!’

We had roast beef and as many vegetables, potatoes and Yorkshire puddings as we could fit on our plates – and a cream scone for the sweet department. With tea it was around £25. We left with plenty energy stored.

Port Isaac was on my list because it is the idyllic Portwenn from Doc Martin, the TV series. I love Doc Martin from the bottom of my heart. If you have followed previous blogs you will know I cannot resist romatic comedy and the relationship ups and downs of Martin Elliot and the utterly enchanting Louisa Glasson are pure gold in my sappy, mushy brain. And Portwenn is the third star of the show.

It’s also a twisty, turny and hilly little village.

So we parked Daisy at the top of the village and walked down into the harbour area where most of the action takes place. We took a series of pictures to match the ‘map’ we bought for £1.50 from an enterprising shop keeper (amazing what an A4 sheet of paper, a nice drawing and a inkjet printer can produce when there’s tourist about).

We walked up and down the street listening to the mocking laughter of teenage girls just like the Doc and we stepped into Mrs Tishell’s pharmacy to buy … eh … some fudge.

Well of course it’s not real is it!


Waiting to see the Doc – slight bout of indigestion.

Port Isaac is a lovely place even without the Doc Martin connection. In the cove we explored caves, watched children fishing for crabs and enjoyed the salty sea air filling our lungs. It WAS idyllic. I could have stayed my two weeks here.


View from my cave.

But that would not give me enough material for this blog would it?

So we pushed on to our campsite near Bude to get some rest for our final day in Cornwall.

This morning we got up and grabbed some flakes. We had a busy day ahead with two more locations we had decided to visit.

If you are aware of Daphne Du Maurier you will know she is famous for books set in Cornwall. She wrote The Birds which Hitchcock made into a film, and My Cousin Rachel which was recently made into a film with Rachel Weiss.

She also wrote a tale of smugglers called Jamaica Inn based at a famous Bodmin stopover. This book  was also made into a film (at least twice). My wife loves these sort of of stories – female meets man she hates at first, then sees his gentler side, she changes him and they love in love. Yeah, yeah. Mush. Doc Martin it ain’t.

But I am a patient fellow and not insensitive to the need of a woman to think a man can be better than he really is. So I go along with it.

Well I am glad I did really. The museum of smuggling was quite interesting for a start (and only £2.95 with our magazine discount voucher) and the inn is a very pleasant olde worlde set up. But, more importantly, the lunch was humongous!


Now I set out to eat sensibly today as I was feeling a bit flat with all the rich food. If I die on this holiday the pathologist will discover clotted cream bubbling out of me when he splits me open. But when I saw the food I had to go for it.

Again we had the ‘eat all the veg you want’ offer – and did. It was reasonably priced too, hot and tasty. Proper pub grub.

Sadly this mean’t that we were destroyed for the rest of the day, and that was  a regret for what came next.

We drove our  Daisy to Wadebridge, a town on the Camel River, and an entry point for the lengthy Camel Trail cycle path.  Wadebridge is very cycle friendly and very car unfriendly. It has sleeping policemen every hundred metres (Daisy goes ‘bounce’ every hundred metres, Porta-potty goes ‘sloosh’ every humdred and one metres – ‘porta potty no like sleepy police people’)

The Camel Trail is a cycle path (disused railway again) that runs from Bodmin to Padstow on the coast, via Wadebridge. We wanted to visit Padstow but felt that 6 miles out and 6 miles back would be enough for the day – hence our starting point at Wadebridge.

The cycle was not uneventful (but some stories I will leave for my wife to tell herself). On arrival in Padstow we remembered that this was Rick Stein country. He has a restaurant on every street corner. In fact the place is a seafood, ice cream, and cake paradise!

Still burping from the feast at Jamaica inn I ordered a single haddock in Rick’s special batter just so I could say on this blog that I had eaten in his restaurant (well chip shop).  That’s dedication for you.


Posh fried fish from Rick Stein – parsley!

But that was me definitely full. I was oozing food from every pore.

Padstow wouldn’t let up though. The smell of cooking fudge followed us down one street, then it was seafood stalls on the front, then tea rooms beckoning us in with sponges the size of pouffe cushions. We were going insane.

We escaped with our lives – and a small tub of whipped ice cream of course.


Ignore the scraped wrist – it will just encourage her….

We returned to Wadebridge and bounced  and slooshed our way out of town (my stomach did both). Back to our campsite we headed.

The evening meal will be meagre. The tins will be coming out again I’m afraid – if anything.


We tried – we wanted to – we just couldn’t …

Being a sad computer geek I put together the whole tour of Potwenn from my guide here…

Land’s End

We set off for Cornwall without any breakfast. We had run out of flakes and milk and decided that we should treat ourselves to a traditional English breakfast.

Where better to go for such a treat than a quality establishment with fine oak tables.




Architecture that is sympathetic to the natural surroundings.

That’s cheap.

Yes, we ate breakfast at Morrisons.


Morrisons low cholesterol vegetarian option (out of shot).


Our next stop was to be Truro and we had a game of Camperaderie on the way to while away ths hours. We got this one badly wrong.

Truro is a pleasant, small city with more or less the same shops as you get in any comparable town. It has some quirky, local stuff going on and a lovely Cathedral which is free to enter (always a bonus) – and it’s interesting to boot. It is actually a Victorian building despite the very classic style of architecture. You would assume it had been there for centuries.


A poor man’s Buckfast if you ask me…

One thing I found particularly interesting was the lack of thumbprint access to the side rooms. It seems the abbey at Buckfast has more secrets to keep – or more money to spend.

Anyway, also of a Victorian era is the wonderful tearoom called Victoria’s Tea Room (what an excellent name for a Victorian tea room!). The nice thing about this place (it is award winning by the way) is that the waiting staff dress in the style of the Victorians, that they serve excellent tea in proper china cups, and that their cakes are the size of Dartmoor


Lemon Meringue Death

After our feast we departed Truro for Sennen Cove on the South West Coast, just a few miles from Land’s End. We took a stop at a camping superstore in Redruth and then got lost in the maze of Cornwall’s B roads trying to find a way back to the main route.

When we got to the campsite we were given an excellent welcome and directed to the coastal path that is ‘just 300 yards from the campsite’ (where have we heard that before?).

Now at this point I should say something of Cornwall’s road network. In fact this probably goes for England generally.

The A-roads are pretty good and drivers are generally well behaved. Some A-roads do end up in the town and villages though in which case they can become quite twisty-turny and extremely hilly. They are often twisty-turny and hilly all at the same time.

The B-roads are all twisty-turny and hilly at the same time. At this time of year they are just as busy as the A-roads.

Now when a local tells you in Cornwall that you can walk down a quiet country lane this generally means you can take your life in your hands and share a narrow path with open top buses, tractors, camper vans, local delivery drivers (particularly dangerous) and frustrated locals who know the corners like the back of their hands (they don’t know what’s round the corners but that is by the by).

And 300 yards of English road is roughly about a mile.

We went to explore the coastal path in the evening and discovered it about two miles away. We arrived at a neighbouring campsite a little dishevelled from all the leaping into the hedgerows. This campsite, it turns out, has the access path to the coastal route and you need to pass through it to get there. It also has better washing and toilet facilities, larger camping spaces, late evening shopping and a restaurant. We should have camped there.

We stopped and ate dinner there.

Diverted by food we decided to do the coastal path to Land’s End (about 4 kilometres apparently) the next morning.

After a comfortable sleep in Daisy we got up sharp to walk to Land’s End from our campsite. The plan was then to get the open-top bus to St Ives and return to campsite late afternoon.

Now the coastal path is absolutely stunning. It takes you through the most beautiful, rugged coastline, looking down on wonderful beaches and into the little town of Sennen Cove. It then rises up and over the hill to Land’s End.




But it is not about 4 kilometres. It’s about 4 miles.

And it is ‘rugged’ coastline – properly rugged coastline.

So it was delightful, but it was four hard miles of delightful.

What was NOT delightful was the revelation at Land’s End.

Now we were told it was a bit commercial these days.  But we were not told (and have never at any time had been given any hint or suggestions) that it cost a tenner to stand beside the Land’s End sign!

It’s a family business! A ‘been in the family for generations’ type family business. They are proud of it!


It’s so quaint and traditional … generations of one family scamming money from tourists.

So in order to get your picture taken beside the Land’s End sign you have to first get there. A lot of people walk, cycle, drive, crawl, wheel their chairs or do some other amazing feat of endurance all the way from John O’Groats to get there. Hopefully they don’t have support vehicles because it costs £4 to park them there. They then have to line up a few yards from the finishing post waiting for the photographer from the family run business to position them by the privately owned sign and take their picture. Oh, and pay £9.95 for the basic package.

Now, as you know, I don’t pay to walk on piers so I certainly don’t pay to stand beside signs.

I walked round behind it and (inside my head) screamed ‘nah, nah, nah, nah, nah – I’m further South than your sign!’


As close as you can get without chucking away a tenner. I may be breaching copyright here.

We had an ice cream at the First and Last House which was excellent. All the Cornish ice cream has been amazing. We then did a little bit of shopping which included the purchase of my first ever pair of flip-flops. These are required, my lady wife tells me, to prevent nasty campsite shower room diseases getting at my toes.


Over-commercialised? What do they mean?

Thereafter we boarded the bus to St Ives.

Naturally the ‘when I was going to St Ives I met a man with seven wives’ poemy thing went through my head as we boarded and (would you believe it) we DID meet a man who must have seven wives.

He was so grumpy!

The bus driver.

In fact let’s face it. All bus drivers are the same aren’t they? They are always confused at anyone who doesn’t know exactly what they are required to pay for their trip, they don’t give advice and they don’t give change. And they don’t ever do any of it with a smile.

The bus drivers of South Cornwall, however, have a perfectly reasonable excuse for this manner. The roads are turny-twisty and hilly at the same time, and they have to stop and start every few yards to let tourists by. Our driver had to reverse his bus into lanes I would never drive forward into. It was a roller coaster ride I would have paid twice the fare for (if I liked high adrenaline roller coasters).

We were lucky enough to get the front seats at the top of the bus so we had the full effect of the madness. It was also a rather disconcerting vantage point for seeing inside the upper windows of the houses lined either side of the narrow streets. I tried not to look but I have to shout out to the owner of the property on Chapel Road, St Just (the house with the blue beanbag in the first floor flat bay window) – that pile of ironing won’t do itself you know!

Now St Ives is the perfect Cornish town. Great harbour, beaches, quaint shopping areas, twisty-turny and hilly streets, funny street names.


It also has the terrific ‘Yellow Canary’ bakery where we had lunch.

We had two lovely crusty sandwiches, hot tea and a fruit Cornish pasty with a bucket of clotted cream dumped on it. Best lunch I have had on this holiday.



My dear lady wife successfully managed to obtain two garments from a little shop in the town. Having the good sense to provide a ‘man seat’ with magazines is an incredibly mature marketing strategy for such a small business. She will go far.

Now we had a slight mishap during the day’s activities that we must put down to the shock of being asked to pay to stand beside a wooden sign. On the bus to St Ives we discovered that my toes were likely to remain under severe threat of infection due to the fact that the flip-flops we bought were not in the bag (dramatic DUM-DUM-DUM music)!

Our dilemma now was that a) we could return to Land’s End to get them and have to walk back by the coastal path (more long, hard delightfulness), or b) we could forget the £4 we paid and just let it go.

Yes, you guessed it.

So we took the roller coaster back to Land’s End (it all seemed so familiar) and steeled ourselves for the long walk along  Cornwall’s rugged coastline.  We mused a little that, with it being that bit later in the day, maybe the family business was closed and we could sneak our picture beside the sign.

After a short scare (the shop had closed but the lady was still doing her accounts in the office) we obtained my toe-saving footwear and strolled round to the Land’s End sign.

The cursed family business was still operating.  Milking every last visitor.

We noted that they had their cast iron sign cover with 24 digit combination ready for closing time and a van load of Dobermans snarling and barking ready for patrolling the six metre perimeter fence. This put us off waiting the remaining hour until they left for the day and set off for the campsite laden with additional shopping.

By the time we got in our feet were in complete tatters. We completed around 14 miles today (mostly rugged coastline). It was delightful, beautiful, stunning even. It truly is a lovely place.

But I needed a hot shower.

And praise the Lord – I had my flip-flops to protect me.



Up with the lark (the late one) at the back of nine, we were keen to get a hearty feed in our bellies after such a drought the day before.

Yes I know we ate most of the day but not that much of it was any good.

We made bacon and egg baps in the traditional camping style, which means we stunk out the van for the rest of the day. With a hot cup of tea we set off, a few scores to settle from being scuppered by the weather yesterday.

Daisy fired up and descended the slope we had parked on (I was wondering why my circulation had gone South). Out of Corfe Castle we headed south to keep a date with Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door.

Now I won’t dwell too long on Lulworth Cove. It’s a lovely little natural bay with clear water and a pleasant little village beside it. In fact I will give you a flavour via dash-cam footage since it is a thatched cottage village and people like that sort of thing.

Now let’s focus on Durdle Door. Say ‘Durdle Door’ without thinking of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets.


Copyright ‘Some Internet Site’

If you were not thinking of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets I now challenge you to say ‘Durdle Door’ without putting on the accent of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets.


Now my wife can say Durdle like it was a normal word, like it didn’t rhyme with girdle. It doesn’t make her snigger or want to put on a Swedish chef accent in any way whatsoever. What is wrong with her?!!

So what is this Durdle Door (singger)? Well it turns out that it comes from an Old English word ‘thirl’ which means to pierce (and that came from the internet so it must be true).  There is this volcanic formation in Dorset’s coast that looks like a rock with a hole in it, a piercing so to speak.  It’s a great thing to see even if you do have to scale a mountain up and down twice to see it. Oh and pay £4 to park.


Putting the scenic beauty aside, wouldn’t it be lovely to bring back this wonderful old English word now that so many piercings take place amongst our young folk? We could be having our ears durdled, our noses durdled and even our belly buttons. How amusing is that!!? ‘I am having my belly button durdled today.’

If we recovered this word from the annals of history we could even enjoy the moment someone caught their girdle on a nail and tore a small hole in it. ‘Oh no I have durdled my girdle!’ It’s British seaside comedy magic!

After the joyous comedic sight of Durdle Door (you can’t help it can you?), we decided to enjoy an ice cream at Lulworth Cove. It was wonderfully creamy and sweet. I was only a little put off by the little wooden spoon they served it with. I prefer plastic as I worry about catching a splinter with wood in my mouth. I could have durdled my tongue!


Look at that silly cow!

Our next destination was Dorchester, a short drive away, to get provisions for our two night stay in Devon. Now I have been in a few supermarkets in my time (way too many in fact), but the Tesco in Dorchester has to have the poshest entrance to any of them. If you know of a better one please prove me wrong. My God, it’s got a fountain and everything.


The poshest Tesco in the UK?

The checkout girl explained that, as Dorchester is in the Duchy of Cornwall there are certain standards to be maintained. It couldn’t be a ‘monstrous carbuncle’ in Charlie’s back yard could it? It was still Tesco though.

As this was such a beautiful setting we ate lunch in the car park – a ham and cheese ciabatta made with Cornish butter, local mature cheddar and … eh … Tesco ham. It was delicious and we could hear the fountains filling the air with Dorset’s clear water, singing ‘whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, ten pence off Dorset Spring Water one day only, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.’

Off to Devon we were bound, Daisy struggling on the hills somewhat (laden with our purchases), and Sybil trying to send us down every single track road in Dartmoor.

The road can be quite dull when the distances are long and we found amusement in the simple game of ‘Camperaderie’. There are several rules to this game and they are highly complex. It is your understanding of the rules that can score you points.

Firstly the main rule is – some campers on the road like to wave to each other.

The important word here is ‘some’. When we first started playing we foolishly thought that ‘all’ campers on the road like to wave. That’s a mistake – do not pass go – go to jail.

The rules get even greyer.

The most reliable wave comes from VW T25 owner to VW T25 owner. But it depends if they are British. Foreign campers tend to ignore the friendly wave.

Older style VW camper van owners tend to keep themselves to themselves. These are the pure blood VW owners (a bit Slytherin if you ask me). They MIGHT wave though, depending on whether or not the driver is an arse. Modern VW owners (like those with T5s with flashy paint jobs) are in a similar club as the classics. They tend to look down a little or are too pissed to notice anyone else.

Fiat Ducato owners often wish they’d bought a VW so they can be a bit stand offish but, in certain circumstances, will wave. Other conversions such as Transits and Mazda Bongos are rarely seen waving.

The really difficult one is the big camper. The motor homes. They are lovely people but they can get a bit confused by all the camperaderie going on. They are often hired of course, so we don’t condemn them.

Finally there are the caravan towers. These poor folks are so stressed with the thought of getting stuck on a tight bend that they can barely keep their eyes off the road to see a wave. Some highly skilled and pleasant owners will, however, respond to a wave.

So those are the rules. The game is simple. Decide to wave or not – if you do wave and you get a wave back, you score one point.  If you don’t wave and you get a wave you lose two points because you are an arse. If you wave and they don’t wave back you feel stupid.

As we travelled towards Plymouth we came across Buckfast Abbey, where all the ‘Buckie’ comes from. We stopped off and took some snaps of all the splendour and wealth that Buckfast has achieved over the years from selling this fortified wine. I had mixed opinions about this place. On the one hand you could think that feeding alcohol to bored and disaffected teenagers and profiting from it is wrong. On the other hand you cannot make these Benedictine monks responsible for what a generation of wayward teenagers choose to be their poison. The wealth is a worry though – they have thumb-print access control to some of the abbey’s doors!


The grand Buckfast Abbey. 

We arrived in Tavistock about half six, pitched up, lit the BBQ and grilled some 20% fat mince. We ate perfect bacon and cheese burgers for tea and christened them Duchy Burgers.


Dirty camper burgers…..

In the morning we took our bikes out for their first turn of the holiday.

Drakes Trail is a path running from Tavistock to Plymouth for cyclists and walkers only. It’s a terrific idea; a disused railway track has been set aside for safe cycling. It’s the only way to be safe on these little roads.


Now the campsite literature told us this route was a mere 300 yards from the entrance to the site. That’s nonsense. Three hundred yards I can walk in five minutes. The trail is over two miles from the campsite.

Perhaps as the crow flies you can walk 300 yards get to a point where you can see the trail in the distance, but 300 yards it aint.

In fact if you are rubbish at map reading it turns out it is more than two miles, it is over four miles! We decided to climb the hill to an entirely different location in the opposite direction of the trail just so that we could overheat, swear disgracefully and slander the good name of the campsite staff at the top.

You should understand that my dear lady wife is not a frequent cyclist. She is a terrific long distance runner and, it turns out, can run faster than she can cycle; a good bit faster.

We rode out to a place called Yelverston on the trail before returning, an 18 miles round trip. The trip involved several miles of undulating track through some beautiful countryside, farm-yard animals including llamas, a hell of a lot of moaning about the undulating countryside and a viaduct that I thought of either jumping off or throwing someone else off.


Don’t look back in anger.

I am being cruel. She was actually outstanding for a first time over this distance.

In Yelverston we ate at The Game Larder, just some Devonshire ice-cream and a pork and pickle pie (yes in that order). Both were great, thankfully because that is the highlight of Yelverston.


When we got back to the campsite we took Daisy out to the local village for some shopping (yawn). We had plenty time so we walked slowly round the local craft market and I ‘oohed and aahed’ when it seemed appropriate. It seemed to work because all we bought was a charity shop shirt to replace the one I sweated half my body weight into today, and a 50p book.

We ate a terrific cream tea and Victoria sandwich at Karen’s Tea Shop in the village and blethered with the couple next to us about politics, expensive train travel and the joys of driving long distance. I paid the bill and it ran to a mere £7.20. I thought she was joking. Two teas, a cream scone and a wedge of Victoria sandwich that would kill an jersey cow if it fell on them – for £7.20?

I tipped generously and still didn’t break a tenner.


Dinner tonight is to be a campervan special. I think I will skip the pictures because you will think less of me if you see the tins.


We stayed one night in the New Forest, walked on the nearby moor (because our bikes were out of action) and then set off for Dorset.

That was quick eh?

The journey to our current campsite was a little more eventful.

Sybil appears hell bent on taking us down the most challenging single track roads possible, regardless of what settings I fiddle with. Worse still, she is one of those satnavs that went on sale at Aldi some time ago and everyone in the country seems to have one. That means we meet everybody in the country coming the other way and they’re all is as frustrated with the damn settings on their satnav as me.

There were horns honking, red faces, foul language and near misses aplenty.

Not that I can blame Garmin for the tractor in Dorset that just about ran me into a field of tatties. Having tyres the height of my camper seems to make the farmers here feel invincible and the road is ‘damn well theirs’. Tourists have no place it seems. Daisy hit the ditch, I wrestled with the steering as we passed through a letter box sized gap, and something caused us to bounce (cartoon-like) into the air (I swear we left the ground by at least a foot!). When we landed we couldn’t believe we had not mashed the farmer’s tatties and ourselves along with them.

Daisy seemed none the worse for the ordeal – but then she is something quite amazing.

I can only imagine Porta-Potty got a bit of a slooshing in his little cupboard. ‘Porta-Potty no like slooshing in cupboard….’ (remember the robot voice for these gems).

After that we made our way into Bournemouth (or Borinmouth I now call it) which was nothing to get too excited about. That’s unfair of course, we didn’t have too much time there, but the time we had was boring. We did have a fantastically sweet New forest ice cream by the beach and we saw lots of … yawn … nah it was boring. Sorry Bournemouth – we moved on.


The highlight of Bournemouth.

Here are some views of Portsmouth which is much nicer.

We decided we would head for a campsite in Corfe Castle right on the South Coast. We took the ferry across to the peninsula and found the campsite close to a lovely little English village. Now this is a great little place. Not at all like Borinmouth.


We were put into a reserve pitch as the campsite was full but it turned to be the best corner of the whole site. Nice and secluded and close to the path to the village. We meandered off into the village and visited the National Trust Norman castle. We also had a fine high tea in the little cafe.

I visited their excellent facilities 😉


‘What a lovely castle! Pity it’s on that big hill – we’ll just have tea instead.’

Now with so much in the area to explore we booked two nights in this lovely setting and decided to do the local bus tour next day. With such lovely weather we looked forward to a little seaside shopping in Swanage, a nice bar meal in the bustling town of Wareham, some great photo shots of the unusual rock formations on the coast and countless cream teas in the shady gardens of Dorset’s charming tea shops.

When we got up it was teeming down with rain.

Undeterred we headed into the village to catch the bus praying they left the open top back at the depot. It made no difference; we were soaked by the time we got to the bus stop.

Swanage is a small version of Borinmouth – but less interesting.  We hunted down a side street bike shop (just to find that they didn’t stock the part I was after) and then we made our way to the harbour to find that we had to pay £1 to go onto the pier. Since I don’t pay to go on to piers that was a waste of time. Borinmouth had the same ‘pier toll’.  A tourist rip off if you ask me.

We were double soaked by this time.


Beautiful architecture in Swanage.  (this is actually a painting on the wall…)

Still undeterred we took the next bus to Wareham, confident a hearty pub lunch and a visit to the local shops would cheer us up. We walked up and down the street passing a few lovely looking pubs all offering some excellent looking grub. We had to choose right so we took our time.

Finally we plumped for the Anglebury House which looked utterly charming.

Pity the waiter wasn’t.

The jakey who spilled out of the public bar and staggered over to our table to tell us the waiter ‘might be a bit slow but he is a good lad’ was charming. The waiter didn’t want to be there.


Anglebury House deceiving us into thinking it is quaint and charming.

We ordered two large diet cokes and were presented with two pints of flat brown water. I asked for a fresh one (perhaps just a tin?) and some ice and got my half drank glass back with a few cube of ice in it. I passed on it and determined not to pay for it at the end. No point in pushing it too far when the staff still have control of what is about to enter my digestive system!

We did get two quite nice meals – a short rib of beef and a chicken and mushroom pie. Now I am being generous – they were fine.  The bill (minus the flat cokes) was £20 and I did, as I always do, tip the guy a quid for turning up for work when he clearly would rather be at home playing World of Warcraft.


We’ve eaten worse.

We then headed out into the pouring rain and walked a few steps before thinking – ‘I’m a bit hungry…’

We tried a couple of tea shops to see if we could cheer up our lunch with a nice cream scone but both offerings in town looked unwelcoming.

We were no longer undeterred.

We were completely deterred in fact.

So the dramatic coastline would have to wait until tomorrow. We headed back to Corfe Castle and returned to the National Trust Corfe Castle team room where we enjoyed an utterly magnificent cream tea. Best I have had so far I would venture. It made the day better but I would have preferred it if we didn’t have to spend £18 on bus tickets just to find the best time was to be had right back where I started.


That’s not the castle again, it’s my scone!

The rest of the day was spent writing this blog while listening to the rain drumming on Daisy’s head, trying to connect to the internet via the mobile phone and reading the books I brought but never intended to read.

The evening came (at around seven pm for us). Tuesdays on the campsite is the day the fish and chip van comes round and the happy campers queue up to sample the traditional fare of the seaside town. We hurried down in the howling gale and pouring rain to join the feast. A cod and chip and a single cod with two English baps for dinner. It was a treat and warmed us up just fine.


We are told the weather is back to unusually hot tomorrow.