Been meaning to write this one up for ages ... our badger trip to a rally at Waldegraves on Mersea island ... organised by Gail of Motorhome fun ... and very well organised it was too. It was our first rally and so we didn't really know what to expect - I won't say we were nervousbut perhaps a little apprehensive.
But then the joy of a motorhome is that if you don't like the heat you can get out of the kitchen so ...
It was back in November, and we arrived to a very soggy field as it had been raining and raining and more was forecast. The site found us a reasonable parking area, on a slight slope so hopefully well drained, with hookup. And we settled ourselves in and wandered over to the meeting area where Gail had got a BBQ started and introduced ourselves to a few people. A glass of wine or two helped keep the chill out and milling around the BBQ helped as well.
Overnight there was torrential rain and high winds - boy did we rock around all night. it was amazing - we hadn't had anything like that even on Orkney ! So it has to be said that we didn't sleep too well to say the least. But the storm blew over and the skies cleared in the morning so we were able to head down to the beach for a brisk walk... it needed to brisk as it was decidedly chilly!
All the Funsters met up durimg the day at the BBQ area and again in the evening in the bar where there was entertainment. Four of us decided it was a bit on the noisy side - we wanted to chat rather than shout, but fotuantely I had put a chicken curry and some dhal into the freezer in Badger, so there was enougth for the four of us and we retreated back to the van for supper with some wine ... well rather a lot of wine actually!
The next night was somewhat calmer (though the wine might have had something to do with that ...) and then after another wander down the to the beach for some fresh air it was time to head home ... only to find we were well and truly stuck in the mud! Ooops !
Luckily Waldegraves are well prepared for these eventualities and a tractor soon turned up with a tow hook and hauled us out and onto the hardcore. And we duly headed home.
All in all very enjoyable and a great introduction to rallies. Thanks Gail !
So we got home safe. But Steve, our lovely next door neighbour who had been looking after our three cats reported that he hadn't seen all three together for at least a week. And there was no sign of one of the Burmese kittens (well, a bit older than kittens but not a lot).
Nimbus and Cirrus are pretty much identical, being litter-twins, and you can only really tell them apart when they are together if you see what I mean. Nimbus is a little bit bigger and a little bit lighter brown round the tail area. Even we had trouble identifying which was the missing one but realised it was little Cirrus. And he was nowhere to be found - we rattled the back door handle, usually a sure way of bringing the cats in for breakfast or supper, but to no avail. And a week later we had pretty much given up hope. There seemed to be several possibilities. 1. he had got pissed off with us being away and gone to live with someone else; 2. that he had met with an accident on the roads (probably unlikely - he is chipped and it would have been reported) 3. being a bit too adventurous and courageous he had had an encounter with a fox or badger ... he is quite small or 4. he was shut in somewhere (because of nosiness)
On Wednesday morning the gas-man arrived at what seemed like oh-mi-god-o'clock to fix the boiler (well actually to fail to fix the boiler, but it's a long story), and I went across to Platform 2 ... we live in a Railway Station you see ... to switch the computer on to start doing some work rather earlier than normal. Nimbus came with me in the hope that I was going to put the heating on, and I saw him disappear into an interesting looking box then heard a cat yelling from the kitchen on Platform 1. It didn't sound like Phercad, our big, black, fluffy Maine Coon so I went across ... and to my intense relief there was little Cirrus - absolutely starving but otherwise in good shape thank goodness. He had some damage on his paws which looked like he had been trying to scrabble out of somewhere and he smelt car-oily, so our best guess is a garage had been housing him for a while. He ate and ate and hasn't left our side since !
So our plans to go off for the weekend were shelved - we felt we didn't want to add to the trauma by going away again so soon, so we contented ourselves with going shopping for Badger this morning and buying him an espresso maker ... we decided that a full blown electric Lavazza machine was probably a bit OTT as it would require a 1200W inverter if we were to use it off hook-up, plus they are, with the best will in the world, a trifle messy. Even if they are capsules. They dribble. Copiously. Trust me on this. They are worth it but they dribble. But we found this gorgeous gadget (picture below). Which seems to work rather well. And now we can enjoy our espresso in the mornings ! And I am sure Badger will appreciate the aroma of good coffee swirling around his habitation area. Just as he likes curry. And Mexican chicken. And things like that.
And we also bought him a potato masher. But failed on the micro-plane grater ... have to go to a bigger town for that I guess. Or order on-line (John Lewis is your friend for such gadgetry, especially if, like me, you have a Waitrose nearby that they deliver it to free of charge).
So there you go - our non-Badger weekend. Oh - by the way, in the previous blog you may remember I referred to the amazing dam at Pitlochry. Well have a look at these pictures! http://www.flickr.com/photos/annadg/8127865677/in/photostream - the river boiling it seems !
and this : http://www.flickr.com/photos/annadg/8127868305/in/photostream
and in the evening, this : http://www.flickr.com/photos/annadg/8127873745/in/photostream
Well we thought. A weekend away to start with we thought. And up to Norfolk we went, to Kessingland and had a lovely time learning our way around Badger. And walking to the beach. And visiting the Zoo. It was great - especially being woken by the lions in the night
Good we thought. Now we will do a "real" trip. And headed for Orkney. First of all via the Lincoln show, where we bought lots of bits we needed, and fell for a silk filled duvet (brilliant!) - do watch out for the guy who sells them at a very good price at the shows. We saw him at Lincoln and again at the NEC.
Through floods (we hit the storm just outside Morpeth) .. camped at the River Breamish site - great site, but the river turned into a torrent overnight and although it wasn't bursting its banks we thought we had better head for our next port of call, Edinburgh. Had a great time there - there is a shuttle from the site to the city, and we had a lovely day wandering in Edinburgh, and visiting the Georgian House (not sure Mark was too impressed but I found the kitchens particularly fascinating), but I love cooking you see.
Next day we took a bus to the Royal Yacht Britannia - if you are in the vicinity make time to go (you will need at least 2 hours if you are going to do it justice) ... it's wonderful. And they do a very nice "soup and a sandwich" lunch which we washed down with a glass of chilled white wine. Lovely
Then we headed on northward over a couple of days and arrived at Scrabster to get the mid-day ferry to Orkney. We know (and love) Orkney so were quite at home there, and had a wonderful time, partly on a campsite, partly on a friend's small holding, and partly wild camping - with the joy of watching the Northern Lights.
Started wandering home mid-October, spending a couple of nights at Pitlochry, in torrential rain, with another river rushing by - but this one is controlled by the dam, which was dramatic watching ! An amazing amount of water going through.
A night in the Lake District at the Low Park Wood Site (highly recommended except for the bird - or maybe squirrel - that spent the night above us and poohed lavishly over the front of Badger) and then onto Birmingham for the NEC show. Great show - learned lots.
And finally home.
We learned so much on the trip - not least that we NEED satellite internet - we work while we are away as we are both self employed and the various "free wifi" or even paid for wifi solutions just don't work. You can spend an hour setting them up, then they are slow and/or unreliable, or don't connect through a VPN or or or. So bullet is to be bitten and the cost will be horrendous, but if we don't do it we can't go away so much. And we want to travel!
More another time ...
OK - time for a change of lifestyle we thought. Can't afford it. Do it anyway. So we did.
We did lots of research. We joined the Camping and Caravanning Club, the Caravan Club, the Motor Caravanners Club and numerous forums and websites. We talked to our friends (who thought it was a great idea), we thought about how we would use it where we would use it and as a result ...
... yesterday we collected Badger, an Auto Trail Tracker RS motorhome. Just big enough for the two of us - only two seat belts, only one bed. So we are going to be self sufficient, self contained and self ish !
The hand-over by the dealer (Elite Motorhomes - great bunch) took nearly four hours, but that was because we are complete newbies to motorhoming and there was a LOT to learn. Then we went (courtesy of Elite) to a lovely local campsite at a nearby golf course and found our pitch for the night (query - why is it still called a pitch when we aren't pitching anything ? Memo to self - think of a new name!). The owner was very welcoming, and after we parked up and put Badger onto hook-up (all this new terminology), we took the briefcase full of manuals over to the club house, and sat outside with a beer to go through them. Not all of them. Just some of them. I repeat - there is a LOT to learn!
Back to Badger and time to cook ... pasta with a home-made sausage & tomato sauce - the sauce was home made, not the sausages !
I had an urgent work email, so we connected up the computer we had with us (can you doubt it) via the mobile phone, logged into the server in Huntingdon, logged back to the file server in Melfod, retrieved the file we needed and emailed it off. Then used the laptop to charge the mobile phone, after which Mark, with great care, removed the charging lead, rolled it up and remarked that we should make a special place for leads etc like that. And put it somewhere. Obviously into a Black Hole because it hasn't been seen since, search we never so diligently.
Badger has a beautiful panormic window over the bed, so we were able to lie in bed and watch the stars which was great. Of course what we SHOULD have done was draw the blind across before we went to sleep. But we didn't. So at 06.30 the sun woke us - a good night's sleep but somewhat shorter than we might have wished. The good thing was that we got up and had a lovely walk down to the fishing lake on a beautiful September morning. Followed by breakfast and a shower and then back to the dealer to get one or two things fixed before heading home. We had found the leak on the loo (just as well ...) though at least it was from the cistern and not from other areas you don't want to think about too much. Sadly the dealer didn't know where our Black Hole is either, but I will report back should we find it.
Then it was time to head home. The new Sat Nav has various choices for the types of route including one called Easy which sounded good to us ... and it was!
About 12.30 ish we started looking for somewhere to stop for lunch and saw a National Trust sign to Wimpole Hall - great we thought. Errr ... no. They had forgotten to put a sign at the next roundabout, so we gave up on that, and ended up having baked beans on toast by the A14 !! Better than a Little Chef though.
Badger fits through our gates (just) and is now resting on the drive awaiting his first real adventure this weekend. Wish us luck and fun