Kin, Cobblestones and Memories Made

Cirencester, never heard of the place and had it not been for visiting family in the Bristol area it may have been some time before discovering it, as it was we decided to combine a few days away seeing some of our nearest and dearest with hopefully doing a little walking or sight seeing.

We’d booked 5 nights at Cirencester Caravan Club site a few months before and as it was November we didn’t really expect any issues or for it to be very busy.

Set off Saturday morning and stopped off at Frankley Services on the way down, we had blue skies and clear roads and were making really good time, so much so we had a little mooch around the shops and Mr.B ended up buying a ¾ length coat for a very reasonable £20.00.

LB took over the drive and we arrived at the site just before 12, perfect timing. Booked in and we were given the map which showed all the free pitches, we then began the slow drive round the site looking for our perfect spot.

We were quite surprised as the site was over ¾ full but we managed to find a great spot which wasn’t overlooked at the front and wasn’t too far from the facilities.

Didn’t take long to set Pod up and after seeking directions we decided to take the walk through the Bathurst Estate, Cirencester Park to the centre of Cirencester itself.

Included in the directions we were informed that the park gate closed at 5pm and if we didn’t make it back before then an alternative route would have to be taken back to the site which would involved a walk along the main road, in essence, round the outside of the park. This wasn’t an issue and if anything else it would afford us another view of the town.

The walk was a peaceful one, down the side of the site, past the cricket and lawn tennis club and onto the main broad footpath through the park and past the old barracks.

It has now become a tradition of ours to find a local pub and if possible sample one or two of a local beer or something as near to that as we could.

On this occasion it was found in The Fleece located not too far from the Parish Church and on the main fairway through the town. Very cosy and bigger than you’d think from the outside, once in, the property extends way into the back and we later found out it’s also a hotel with beautiful rooms above.

A pint of 13 Guns and Hoggit were ordered and they went down extremely well whilst watching the world go by.

They went down so well in fact we ended up staying for dinner and sampling a few more of those specialty ales. People came and went and much to our amusement one of the locals arrived with her two dogs. The dogs were definitely the celebrities and even had a jar of dog biscuits on the bar. It was fun to watch as every new customer who came in would be nudged by the dog, who by now was very comfortable on a bar stool, the nudge would then be directed with a stare to the jar of biscuits and without fail this would result in a biscuit or two being given.

After talking to the bar staff and the owner we discovered this was nearly a daily occurrence and to our wonder it was amazing how the dog, a collie, remained so svelte like.

We eventually left our comfy seats and as it was way past 5pm we took the walk through the town and along the outside of the park, this was easy enough to follow as it was a 7ft high brick wall, more or less all the way to the entrance of the site.

The rain had started and we had warnings concerning Storm Angus blowing through so a few more pegs were driven into the ground securing the awning and we made a dash for the showers, once back we were soon tucked up snug in Pod.

We woke early as we had visiting family on the cards, we discovered temperatures through the night had dropped to 2deg and Storm Angus had blown through, thankfully without disturbing us.

We spent the day in Bristol, driving under the Clifton Suspension Bridge was incredible and we would love to have spent more time around it but today was about family and the bridge would have to wait for another visit.

The highlight of the day was visiting MrBs Grandad, 96 years old and still as independent as ever. Lunch out was great but it was soon time to head back to Pod and leave Mr.B’s G to his long awaited afternoon nap.

The rain continued for the day and it didn’t look like it was gong to let up, after visiting other family members we eventually returned to Pod and scoured the weather reports for any kind of improvement. It didn’t look promising but that wouldn’t stop us from getting out and about the following day.

Monday arrived and the terrible rain remained, people were leaving the site in droves, we presumed they were weekenders and it wasn’t necessarily due to the poor weather.

We stayed snuggled up in bed with large cups of tea watching the weather reports, the decision was made not to venture too far, just walk into Cirencester and attempt to do a little site seeing with a few photos thrown in.

Cirencester beckoned so coats were donned and we took the short walk through the estate into the town. 

 We walked along the narrow stoned roads looking at the wonderful architecture and all the fantastic small local shops that were dotted amongst the bigger retailers, we didn’t see one empty shop which considering the current climate was brilliant to see.

Called into The Fleece for a pint, just the one, and eventually walked back to Pod for steak and stir-fry. Pods little two ring burner worked miracles yet again. Dinner was eaten listening to the church bells ringing, the lack of leaves on the surrounding trees and the prevailing wind made them feel like they were actually nearer than you’d think. Thankfully, those practicing were very proficient, it was rhythmical and very pleasant to listen to.

Following day we woke to more rain and the weather for the day wasn’t looking any better but we decided to spend the day in Bath.

Roughly an hour later we arrived and headed straight for the Abbey, our words will never be enough to describe this incredible building. Slap bang in the middle of Bath, not far from the river Avon which was fast flowing and looked dark and menacing as it sped down under the bridge and away.

Once inside the Abbey the incredible structure came to life, the intricate stain glass windows allowed speckles of colour through casting a warm glow along the stonework. 

LB spent most of her time looking up at the ceiling commenting on and photographing the incredible patterns worked into the surrounding masonry. We wondered if this kind of work will ever be seen again.

Once outside LB noticed the angels climbing up the outer wall and noticed one on its way down. Incredible, a very peaceful place to spend a small amount of time in a very hectic city.

Now, we couldn’t be in Bath without at least casting our eyes over the Roman Baths, as it was nearing lunch time and we were both slightly peckish we decided to catch two birds with one net.. so to speak and headed for the Pump Rooms and afternoon tea.

Once seated we were soon presented with sandwiches, paté, scones, clotted cream and cakes, very enjoyable whilst listening to the pianist playing the odd request.

The Spa water was also sampled, very strange taste on the tongue and warm too. Had to be done though as it cures all ails apparently.

With full bellies it came to leave, we strolled back through the busy shop lined city to the car and we were soon back at Pod looking through our photos of the day and still marvelling at Baths tremendous architecture.

Wednesday arrived and it had actually stopped raining, at this we jumped at the chance to finish a modification we had started a few weeks ago but had been planning on for a while. In short, we planned to secure the awning down the sides (the top is already secured with an awning rail) with a press-stud type fastener.

This was done without too much hassle but couldn’t be fully tested until our next planned outing. Shan’t go into detail on here, but if you’re really interested it can found on our blog page under ‘Modifications and Accessories’ or January’s section, ‘Studs, Poppers and an Epiphany’. That’s enough on that.

Towards the end of this process we were joined by an Airstream to our left and opposite a very large motorhome, ‘twas great to see the variety of mobile homes and caused some comments and discussions amongst the owners.

It was our last day in the area and we felt we still had a lot to see of Cirencester, so off we went on our now familiar walk and decided to find the Museum.

As we wondered round the museum the history of Cirencester unfolded and the beautiful mosaics discovered underground told their own stories. Great place to visit, very educational for young and old.

This was followed by a walk around and into the Parish Church of St. John. It was very festive inside, the pews were lined with Christmas trees in various states of decoration and a volunteer at the church willingly explained the history of the building.

All this sight seeing and stocking up on history was hungry work and called for a visit to Café Nero where a huge hot chocolate and mince pie were devoured before we continued our walking tour of Cirencester.

After a further wander along the rain sodden streets who’s shops were slowly closing we found ourselves looking for a place to dine for the evening. 

 The Fleece was within reach and we knew we would be guaranteed a delicious meal but we wanted to try somewhere different and decided upon The Bear. Looked okay from the outside so in we went.

It wasn’t particularly busy but we decided to order food anyway only to find out what we were after was no longer on offer, not to be put off we selected something else and ate what was delivered, typical pub food, a little disappointed but quashed our hunger.

From here we moved to The Fleece for a final pint, lots of reminiscing of our great visit to the area and the fact we would be back, maybe for Christmas one year. We then began our last walk back to Pod and our very cosy bed.

Thursday morning broke and low and behold it wasn’t raining, this was great as it meant the awning could be dismantled dry and boy believe us, this was fabulous. Nothing worse than putting away a wet awning because once home, at some point it would need drying off.

Goodbyes were said to our fellow caravaners and one in particular who had taken the opportunity to photograph Pod with his drone. For this he was thanked and we awaited the footage with baited breath.. and it was well worth it. Take a peek at the below link and see if you can spot Pod ;).

Posted in Accessories, Architecture, Awning, Caravan, Caravanning, Castles, Church, Glamping, Gloustershire, Modifications, Photography, Sight seeing, Stately home, Travel, Traveling, Uncategorized, Walking | Leave a comment

October Pod Powwow

Ledaig Caravan Park, Scotland and Pod Powwow here we come ! This has been in the planning for the past few months and for those uninitiated followers it’s the first ever get together of Go-Pods. Started as a conversation between ourselves and one other Podder in which we discovered we were both at the same site and the same time, from there we decided to open it up to other Podders and as the invitation was shared on our Facebook anyone who followed us was invited too, we didn’t want to be deemed Caravanist..
Soon we had expressions of interest and as time went on there were quite a few maybes and 3 other confirmed attendees. Perfect for a first event and all baby steps as we didn’t want to be too pushy and had to bare in mind the possibility we wouldn’t get on, God forbid. For ease the format decided upon was for all to meet up, be as sociable as you wanted, no pressure, at all.

Two days before leaving cup cakes were designed and made and the finished articles were both good to look at and palatable, good way to break the ice we thought. They were packed up for the journey up and once everything else was loaded into the car they took pride of place on the back seat of the car.

We set off at 6.30am and as expected at that time the roads were very quiet, we rolled along nicely and reached Gretna Green Services in good time.

The weather was looking good for the next few days and today it appeared to be holding true as we arrived just after 1pm with the sun shining down on us.

Now, as we drove onto the forecourt of the park a feeling of trepidation hit and all those thoughts and feeling came to the top, lots of nervousness and ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’ such as, what if we don’t get along, what if they’re a bunch of weirdos and maybe we’re expecting too much or maybe they are ? All expected motions and decided others may feel the same way.

We were shown to our pitch, perfect for us, first row along the front with a fantastic view of the bay. As we drove along we had our eyes peeled for other Pods and clocked one to our left four pitches along from us and one to our right further down the bank and on the edge of the beach.

Pod was set up as usual and as we finished we saw the third Pod role in and set up slightly to our right but behind us. Waves were exchanged and after a brief greeting we left them to set up. First meeting and all that, we didn’t want to encroach on their time away.

This also allowed us to play with our new wifi system which we had purchased from the Caravan and Motorhome Show and MB had fitted inside Pod. The unit consisted of a router fitted behind the TV and on this occasion took a ‘3’ data 12 month sim and an ariel which sat in the lining of the pop up roof. All is revealed on YouTube

Within an hour our last Podder arrived, very strange to see a car the same as ours pulling a Pod not dissimilar to ours down the road past us and pull up onto a pitch three down from us.

Visits to all were tentatively completed with cup cakes in hand and they seemed to go down well and achieved their aim, between all it was decided to meet at our Pod for drinks, nibbles and a good old chin-wag. This was it now, time to find out what we were all like.

Steak and stir-fry for dinner and preparations were made for our visitors as we made room in the awning for 8 people and 2 very cute dogs.

One by one they arrived with alcohol and nibbles in hand, all were wrapped up as the temperature had dropped but with a little planning and all sitting closer than anyone would normally on an initial visit we sat very comfortably around the inside of awning.

All our worries fell by the wayside as conversation, laughs and discussions around Go-Pods took place and carried on through the next few hours. With a bit of torch sharing to get to the loos and back and an introduction to the Scottish tongue the four hours flew by, we learnt ‘wheesht’ went down ok but add ‘woman’ on the end and you’d better learn to run and there was Oor Wullie, in lots of different forms.

The evening was going so well a tentative decision was made to arrange a meal out the following evening and one by one people drifted back to their Pods, all in the hope they made it back to the right one. The whole evening went extremely well, it couldn’t of gone better and with happy hearts we fell into bed and a well deserved good deep sleep.

We woke to the sun coming up over the hills and clear blue sky above, we weren’t in a rush to go anywhere so tv was put on to catch up on the news as we lazed in bed with a cup of tea and reflected on the previous evenings event.

We eventually got our selves up and out of bed, breakfast was eaten with the awing open looking out over the beautiful bay of Ardmucknish and as people emerged from their Pods we did a bit of a head count as some when leaving the previous night were shall we say.. very happy and relaxed ;).

The weather forecast looked good for the day so we decided that we would get the kayak out and head up the coast towards Benderloch, but before that we spoke with each Pod owner about a fair well dinner, strange to be thinking of it as such as we’d only just met but time was of the essence and we wanted to make sure we could find somewhere suitable at such short notice. Not everywhere would welcome 8 people and 2 dogs.

Names and places were banded about and one owner took the bull by the horns and decided to take on the challenge of finding somewhere not too far away that would cater for us all, with that in very capable hands we began the process of setting up the kayak.

Others went off to spend the day exploring or pottering around the site and we were off to paddle along the coastline, with one of us at each end of the kayak we were soon trotting down the dozen or so steps to the waters edge.

Soon had our usual technique pushing us along the coast, in unison, in and out of the water as we reached Benderloch beach. We carried on round to a small estuary, this was a little choppy and took a little more effort to get through but we made it into the very calm waters of the inlet.

The water was extremely shallow but the kayak floated along with no problems at all, once we’d circled the inlet we turned and began our way back to the open waters of the bay.

In the short time we had been in the estuary the wind and sea had changed and not for the better.

The kayak bounced along as we pushed through the turbulent waters that surrounded us, this wasn’t helped by a sea kayak coming up behind as it cut through the waves like a hot knife through butter. We now new the virtues and benefits of a ridged kayak but we persevered, not that we had any choice and made it back to the caravan park having discovered muscles in places we’d both forgotten.

As we reached the beach it was great to see Pods lining the coastline and knowing we had met some lovely people who for the time being lived inside them.

After a bite of lunch plans were firmed up for the evening, designated drivers were bribed and arrangements were made to meet at the Oyster Inn in Connel.

We all arrived shortly after 7pm and we were shown to our table which turned out to be one of a good size so we all settled down and began the festivities by ordering drinks. The menu was soon opened and the variety was excellent, lots of local produce and at very reasonable prices.

Conversation flowed round the table and continued in much the same vain as the previous evening, no awkward silences and lots of laughs and interesting conversation, it did stray to politics on one occasion.. Brexit ! but that was soon dismissed and it returned to Podding.. what else.

The evening eventually came to a close and it was hard to believe the following day we would be saying goodbye to 3 of our band of 5. Bonds had been formed between like minded people and their company and conversation was going to be missed.

The following morning soon arrived, another dry day ahead but tinged with a hint of sadness as we prepared to say goodbye, but not before ‘Podfather’ corralled us all together for a group photo. Those in the know.. you know who we mean.. those who don’t, you don’t know what you’ve missed.

All were hitched to the back of their cars for the last time and during this process MrB discovered that some had been shown the wrong way to connect the break-away cable. It is a legal requirement and other than causing Pods breaks not to work it could invalidate insurance. The type of cable fitted to Pod didn’t have a carabiner, if it had it could be connected to the tow bar mounting on the car, as they didn’t, the correct way was shown; by wrapping the cable around the tow bar and clipping it back onto the wire itself, forming a large loop, in an emergency the wire would then tighten on itself and apply Pods breaks. Also on YouTube

One by one we waved them off, leaving ourselves and Podfather to reminisce but also to await the arrival of another Podder, one who was fortunate enough to own a Go-Pod II which had a split screen and still had its original fittings inside, this belonged to a local who we’d had the pleasure of meeting last year and we couldn’t wait to introduce him to Podfather, as we knew he would love as we did a good old mooch around an original.

Evening plans were made and after a stroll along the beach Podfather joined us for dinner, he had been warned it was quorn chilli but he was willing to give it ago and we were grateful for his company, over a relaxed meal and a few beers we chatted and discussed life, its many quandaries, the success of the Powwow and of course the mutual fascination with Pods. PF eventually left us and after hot showers we crawled into our snug cozy bed inside Pod.

Woke to another glorious morning, considering the time of year we took each day as it came and so far each day had arrived with a sunrise over land which cast its rays down along the beach and out across the sea to Tralee Bay.

Today herald the arrival of Robin, no definitive time was know so we decided to drive into Oban for a wander round the shops and perhaps purchase a bottle of Scotland’s finest export, its whiskey.

MB had gone to wash the breakfast dishes and a short time later a droning noise could be heard slowly rolling over the bay towards the site. In the seconds it took for the noise to register as a plane with LB the bellowing sound of MB shouting her name was also heard from the other side of the site as she looked up and out of the window, above was a Hercules C130 skimming the tops of the caravans and below it MB running across the field with washing bowl and dishes in hand.

As is usual in these circumstances, when speed and coordination are required to work in unison, neither are apparent, but with a few screeches and fumbling fingers photos of not one but two Hercules was recorded as they roared overhead and in the direction of the airport.

Once composure was recovered we eventually drove the short distance into Oban and a bottle of Bowmore was bought. After a potter around the shops we sat ourselves down on the sea front and tucked into fish, chips and battered haggis, delish!

We didn’t hang round too long as we were eager to see if Robin had landed at the site and were keen to introduce him to PF. As we drove back onto the site we kept our eyes peeled but Robin was not to be found, no sooner had we put the kettle on we spotted him rolling onto the site with his Pod in tow and driving to a pitch not too far from PF.

Kettle was forgotten as we walked over to welcome him to what was left of our little get together. PF was collected on the way and after introductions were made we all began to tour the Go-Pod, discovering and discussing the differences between Mark II and III.

Most were minor differences, alloy wheels, fitted corner rear lights and the internal layout was entirely on the opposite side. Different vents and no drain ridges along the top. The most significant change for us was the loss of the split screen as it added so much character.

Robin was left to set up his home and we returned to Pod knowing PF and he had a lot to discuss and would probably continue into the evening.

The following day brought another dry day but the next few did not look so promising, the day also brought the departure of PF, another of the founding Powwow members.

By lunchtime he was packed and preparing to say his goodbyes but not before the obligatory Pod picture of new and old was taken. With as much enthusiasm as he has shown throughout our joint endeavour his Pod was drawn up besides Robins and the image was captured by all on their various mobile devises and with slightly heavy hearts PF was eventually waved off, leaving ourselves and Robin.

Robin had plans for the day which involved a bike ride up the coast and we made the decision to enjoy the remainder of the day on the site. The sun was hanging in there so a leisurely afternoon was enjoyed along the beach and preparations were made to batten down the hatches for the predicted high winds the following day and possibly the preceding night. This involved checking the awning guy lines and adding a few more to keep it grounded, we had heard of the high winds but as yet had not experienced them on the Scottish coast. Whilst doing this our confidence in our little structure wasn’t strengthened by the fact caravans were leaving the site in large numbers, we were soon one of only three others pitched on the front row, nearest the beach.

Dinner was eaten as the wind began to pick up, we had done all we could, the evening soon turned into night and an early night beckoned as we cuddled up inside Pod whilst falling asleep listening to the sea crashing against the beach and the wind buffering against Pod.

Through the night we were woken as the rain made an appearance, the sound of the sea has also grown in strength but had gained a rhythm that sounded akin to a giant breathing as it lay asleep in the surrounding hills. Perhaps it was a relative of Benandonner, leastways the thought of such a magical being soon had one of us back in the land of nod to be woken only by daylight peeping through the small gap left by the partially closed blinds, of course the rain and wind had turned into strong gusts that always sounded worse whilst sat in the awning.

Today was our last full day and we were yet again saying goodbye to a fellow Podder, Robin. Once breakfast was out of the way we walked up to Robin to see how he had faired through the night and also to help with the awing, the gusts were not conducive to a lone Podder attempting to dismantle a piece of canvas on stilts, which once airborne could have the tendency to cause more problems than was necessary.

Robin had faired well through the night with no issues at all, between the three of us we soon had the awning down and packed away and without further ado Robin pulled his Pod to our pitch for the now required picture.

This would be the third time of doing it and you could say as a group effort we had the positioning and hitching/unhitching down to a fine art. With a wave from us both Robin went on his way and then there was one. One Pod on the site and one lonely caravan centre position of the entire empty front row.

The weather was very changeable and moved from wet and windy to dry and still in a very irregular pattern. It didn’t spoil our fun though and it was fabulous to see the other side of the Scottish weather as all our previous trips had been blessed with warm temperatures and blue skies.

Once we had our wooly jumpers and boots on we set off up the beach to explore and take in the sights, sounds and smells for the last time because the following morning we would be heading home.

The rain stopped by mid evening and dinner was eaten monitoring the weather reports as the all important task of taking down the awning dry in the morning was crucial.

All looked promising so with heads full of wonderful memories we lay in bed recalling the pat weeks activities, new friendships and an ever growing fondness for a beautiful part of our country.

We woke as daylight broke to a dry day and went about our set tasks in an automatic state of mind, within a few hours we were on the road and homeward bound and thankful for this great holiday experience, with a promise to do it all again, after all.. isn’t that what Podding is all about….

Posted in Accessories, Awning, Caravan, Caravanning, Castles, Glamping, Highlands, Kayak, Lochs, Modifications, Mountains, Scotland, Travel, Traveling, Uncategorized, Walking, Whiskey | 2 Comments

MrB’s birthday boating bash 

It’s never easy trying to think of something to do for that special someone’s birthday but fortunately for us having Pod makes it a little easier and the answer is usually a few days away in our bubble but doing it in secret would bring a few challenges.
Normally the blogs are done in the 3rd person but because this evolves around MrB’s birthday its going to have to be done in the 1st, bit different for us so we’ll see how it goes.

Like I said, keeping it secret was another matter, I went into stealth mode, researching, booking and planing the route, there were a few near misses with saved emails but it was done.

So much so on the morning of departure MrB was given only the postcode and it was at that point he sat up straight in the car seat with a surprised look on his face.

On the run up to the day through numerous questions and attempts to steer conversations in a particular way he had assumed we were going to Wales. Not the case, we were off to the Lake District, Lake Windermere and Hill of Oaks Caravan Park.

Now, I’ve never been to this site but I wasn’t 100% sure MrB be hadn’t, the web site offered a great lakeside pitch and promised a wonderful chilled out few days away with direct access to the lake for the kayak, it was worth the risk and it sounded perfect didn’t it ? but it didn’t stop me from being nervous.

The journey up was uneventful, no major holdups and we arrived just after 1. We didn’t need to rush as the pitch was already booked. The roads were narrow and steep, easy for us but a few coaches in front of us seemed to be struggling.

We kept our eyes peeled for the site entrance and we soon began to wind our way down to the site. Reading reviews prior to booking I’d noted comments made around how narrow the road down was and boy they weren’t wrong, not a problem for Pod but could see how it would be for the bigger ‘vans.

As we reached the bottom Lake Windermere opened up to us and we slowly drove past a few excellent looking lakeside pitches and stopped outside the booking office and shop.

I left Mr.B in the car and went to book in and claim our lakeside pitch, fingers were crossed hoping that it was one of the pitches we had just passed.

It was indeed one of those we’d passed and I couldn’t have been more pleased, it was all going to plan. Even the surprise of finding out I needed to leave a £10.00 cash deposit for the toilet block key couldn’t dampen my excitement.

Back in the car I pointed Mr.B in the direction we needed to go and as we stopped on the pitch I watched Mr.Bs face intently and let out a big sigh of relief as he said he thought it was brilliant, perfect in fact.

We pitched Pod sideways which allowed us to have Pod and the awning the full length of the pitch, this meant our first view in the morning out of the window would be the lake and all our meals and last view at night would be too, through the day we would see the ever changing scenery and life along the waters edge, how wonderful was that.

Once settled we went for a walk around the site, we visited the shop and found the toilet/shower block, this wasn’t a great distance away from Pod so it wasn’t an issue but had been told about a nearer facility and we were pleasantly surprised to find a small toilet/sink housed in a little shed about 50m away from us, this would come in very handy during our stay.

Once back at Pod the kayak was soon inflated and we took the 5 steps necessary to get to the waters edge, without any delay we were on the water and paddling along the lake south in the direction of Newby Bridge.

There wasn’t a soul to be seen and as we worked our way along we couldn’t help but be impressed with the houses and grounds that lined the surrounding hillside. One that really caught our eye was one that had a Liverpool Football Club flag fluttering away high on a flagpole situated at the waters edge, after a little research we found out it belonged to David Moores, the former Chairman of the said club.

After half an hour or so of paddling we decided to turn and head back, we had a full day of kayaking planned for the following day and we didn’t want to venture too far in any particular direction as our route hadn’t been decided upon.

It was great fun spotting Pod along the waters edge, gliding onto the shoreline, stepping out and carrying the kayak the few steps that were needed to plonk ourselves down onto our well positioned deck chairs with an alcoholic beverage in hand, in this case a can of beer, bliss.

Now things began to get interesting.. we don’t normally drink out of cans, honestly, its normally poured into one of our shatter proof glasses, safety and all that. But on this occasion we thought to heck with it and the said cans were opened and enjoyed.

Pictures were taken, and we both pottered around a little during which the odd mouthful of liquid nectar was enjoyed, having decided to sit and enjoy the scenery I sat and can in hand took a gob full of its contents at which point my tongue and inside lower lip found something that shouldn’t have been there, a millisecond passed at which point I new without hesitation it was a wasp, but it was too late, I had been stung on the inside of my mouth.

Beer spluttered everywhere whilst I screeched and this brought Mr.B running, through hand signals and one syllable words he got the message. Having never been stung before a small amount of panic set in as I’m sure everyone knows this could go horribly wrong. My lip began to swell at a tremendous rate and the throbbing pain began to hit and of course the tears began to flow, I blame the shock of it , not pleasant at all.

Painkillers were taken and Mr.B scuttled up to the shop to seek any kind of help he could think of. He returned moments later with antihistamines and a huge ice lolly, all were welcome and the lolly was the most welcome of all.

By now my lower lip would of done Mick Jagger proud, that along with the red tear stained face was not a pretty picture and not how I had wanted to start Mr.B’s birthday bash, but over the next few hours the pain subsided and my lip reduced somewhat in size, needless to say all beer had now been transferred to glasses.

Dinner was eventually cooked and whilst I was busy doing the stir-fry and pasta on the two ring burner in Pod, Mr.B plugged in the George Foreman and grilled his steaks to his likeness, not quite still breathing, but not far from it.

All food was transferred to plates and enjoyed whilst sat watching the ever changing landscape as the sun set below the hills on the other side of the lake, once eaten we didn’t move far and sat just outside the awning with feet up on the kayak and watched as the lake seemed to come to life.

Boats of all shapes and sizes began going up and down the lake, a paddle boarder passed by with her little dog stood at her feet and a small wooden dinghy appeared not too far from the pier and it’s male occupant threw out a fishing line and began his attempt to catch the local quarry, what ever that might be. He was soon joined by another fisherman who sat on the edge of the pier and a discussion took place between them which was just out of our earshot. Very picturesque indeed. By 8pm the sun had disappeared and we were left with the shimmering remnants of its rays across the night sky.

From across the other side of the lake we heard the thunderous sound of a speed boat and watched as it slowly coasted in our direction, the pilot giving it a little kick with the engine every now and then to keep it moving along. Now to call it a boat didn’t do it any justice as it was very sleek, glossy in its black and red and extremely streamline with chrome glistening all around it, not a cheap toy.

Just as it reached the pier it glided to a stop and two people jumped from the pier and into the boat, what a fabulous way to get from one side of the lake to the other, or so we thought.

The boat edged its way slowly to the middle and within seconds amid a mighty roar, it was off up the lake leaving a huge wake at its rear.

We presumed that was the end of that but within minutes we heard loud blaring music coming from its direction and along with the music we could hear a boats engine getting nearer and equally as loud.

We watched the lake, which was now in total darkness and neither of us could believe what passed by, the speed boat that had left us moments earlier was now motoring down the lake with huge spot lights on, music blaring, pulling someone on a ski board. Up and down it went, soon to be joined by another.

We envied the people who live along the lake as it seemed to come alive after daytime work hours, this was obviously how they spent their time, from sailing a two man dinghy, little bit of fishing, paddle boarding up and down or water skiing.

We watched for a while not quite knowing what to expect next but the time soon came to pack up, move inside the awning and head for the showers.

Didn’t take long to reach them, along the road and then up a small gravel type path to the block. It was dark and no lighting along the way but we could easily see the well lit building and our eyes had adjusted by the time we reached it.

The unit itself was superb, each toilet had its own sink and electric hand dryer and the showers on first appearance matched. The only thing to let it down was the drainage in the showers, by the time I’d finished the water had worked its way along the corridor and was making a bid for the door.

Shower done and hair dried with a proper hairdryer I left the block and walked towards the top of the gravel path and back down it. Now, this next bit we’d considered leaving out, after all, my troubles were not particularly interesting but this is a blog and we see it as warts and all. So here goes.. 

At this point everything in front of me and below was in total darkness. The external lights from the block did’t stretch to down the path and my eyes hadn’t adjusted to the pitch blackness. I waited a few minutes but it didn’t get any clearer, none of the lodges below were illuminated and I wasn’t wholly convinced I was in the middle of the path so I tentatively edged my way down the path barely putting one foot in front of the other whilst clutching my toilet bag to my chest. Felt a fool but I didn’t particularly want to come a cropper, doing it once on holiday was enough and I didn’t plan on doing it twice, but no, I could just see the road a few paces in front of me, I smiled to myself as if I’d completed some challenge set by the Crystal Maze and promptly went flying landing on my side whilst my head hit the concrete road.

I had no idea what had happened, I hadn’t even had time to break my fall so my body took the full impact, I sat myself up but couldn’t see a darn thing, shock set in and the pain in my shins and head began to register. On hands and knees I checked myself over as best as I could and picked myself and what remained of my toilet bag up off the floor, as I stood up I reached out and at this point I realised I had fallen over a very large boulder that was slap bang in the middle of the entrance to the gravel path.

I had no idea if I’d lost anything but it was impossible to check in the total blackness around me, so again with tears streaming down my face I hobbled down the road to the only glimmer of light coming from a lodge some distance away.

As I reached the shop I saw a torch light bobbing a long and heading in my direction. I did my best to pull myself together as I didn’t want to look more disheveled than I felt and should it be a fellow caravaner I didn’t want to distress them by my appearance as at this point I myself didn’t know what I looked like. I soon realised it was Mr.B and I relayed by tail of woe through tearful eyes and stammered speech as he walked me back to Pod, a hot cup of tea was had whilst giving myself a once over discovering two red shins a tender ear and shoulder and a ripped toilet bag containing a cracked shampoo bottle, we then went to bed safe and snug knowing nothing could happen for the next few hours at least.

My determination to make this a memorable birthday outing was not going as I had planned and my attempts to keep a stiff upper lip were challenged yet again but I began to wonder what else was waiting round the corner as these things come in threes.. right?

Woke to a dry morning and a slightly aching body, no permanent damage done so set about planning our day in the kayak on the lake, it was also Mr.B’s birthday.. yay! And time for cards, carrot cake and candles and of course presents, all this with the additional extra of steak and egg for breakfast.

Before this could take place Mr.B who was still in sensed over the poorly placed boulder and inadequate lighting reported the matter to the reception staff, he also wanted to make a simple suggestion that if the boulder was painted white this wouldn’t have happened and it may prevent some other poor person befalling the same fate.

He returned to tell me one of the assistance was less than understanding and could offer nothing other than the comment of ‘what, no torch’. Yes we had torches but at no point were we told the lighting was non existent and they were recommended, once in the midst of my darkened dilemma there was little I could do but make my way down the path as best as I could. But now wasn’t the time to dwell on this, my legs were a little sore and my shoulder was uncomfortable but I was not going to let my misadventure detract from the purpose of our few days away, Mr.B’s birthday on the lake.

Kayak was still up from the previous day so pressures were checked and no adjustments were needed. Packed lunch made and by 10.30 were were in the kayak and on our way up the lake towards Bowness, we had no idea how far we would get but planned on returning late afternoon.

The steamers were on the move too and passed us in both directions, each causing small wakes which we managed to paddle through, didn’t hit us too hard as we stayed close to the water edge as this had the more interesting views of the landscape and hopefully wildlife.

We found our rhythm and in unison we dipped our paddles in and out of the water and slowly floated along, the sun peeked out from the clouds long enough to warm our backs and disappeared often enough to allow us to cool down a little.

The boat houses we passed on our way went from immense grandeur to the poor member on the block who was in dire need of some restoration, it was at these points we fantasised with what we would do if we ever won the lottery, would help if we did it of course.

The further we travelled up the lake the bigger and more luxurious the boats and yachts became. Some were moored in various little coves and as we paddled between them we imagined the lives the owners of these had.

Soon the ferry came into view and with careful timing we dodged its return to our side and minutes later Bowness on Windermere came into view, the bay was full of people, boats and bird life. Boats of all shapes and sizes were coming and going, the passenger boats were loading and unloading and voices could be heard over the loud speakers directing the next hoard in the direction of the next available tour. Birdlife smothered the bay, ducks, swans, geese and and any other winged life that was in the area, the reason being they were being fed from bags of food held in the hands of numerous people stood on the waterline. To our surprise there were four adult swans being fed by hand which saddened us a little and seemed to spoil my view of an area we saw as an avid supporter of conservation and preservation.

Now, we haven’t had the kayak that long and although we thought we had mastered the art of getting in and out of it there was always the chance one of us could come a cropper, today was not the day for this to happen and as we glided in, between people and wildlife Mr.B was heard to say ‘come on my love, lets get this right, people are watching’.. no pressure then.

We drifted in, the kayak skimmed the stones and we came to a stop. I’m normally first out so trying to look as relaxed as possible, feet and legs came out from under me and I prayed that as I put my feet into the water I didn’t slip on the wet stones. Once stood upright I held the kayak whilst Mr.B did the same. Without looking around we picked the kayak up and marched it out of the water, we did it and no hiccups.

Packed lunch was eaten on one the benches that lined the wall of the bay and after a deliciously creamy ice cream we made the decision to start heading back to Pod.

Back into the kayak we went and reversed out to turn and head back the way we had paddled, the sun was still out as we took the same route back andwe reached Pod just after 4pm. After a full day out on the lake we were both pooped but Mr.B’s birthday had gone accordingly to plan.

Curry and beer for dinner and as the sun went down over the hills we sat and enjoyed it all looking out over the lake and again watched as the locals all came out to play on what was one incredible playground.

Bedtime came round too soon and the showers were again visited but were uneventful, thank goodness.

Rain woke us and following breakfast the usual routine began of putting everything away, except on this occasion the awning was coming down wet. We have been away every month since having Pod and we’ve always managed to dodge this but it got us good style this time. 

Even though I had been the victim of what some may call bad luck we had enjoyed ourselves immensely and Mr.B’s birthday was filled with good memories of a picturesque caravan park, a perfect pitch with lakeside access for Pod and a wonderful calm day spent on Lake Windermere, we will be back and for a little longer too.

Posted in Accessories, Awning, Caravan, Caravanning, Cumbria, Glamping, Kayak, Lake District, Lakes, Travel, Traveling, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coastal Walks and St.Oswald’s Way

Off again on our travels, Pod has so changed our days off, she’s a blessing and when we get where we’re going once she’s set up, chairs out, and kettle on, it’s a deep intake of breath and relax. She provides us with a great release from the daily turmoil of life today. 

This time we were heading to Beadnell Bay, Northumberland for four nights away, the coast is spectacular and one of our favourite places in England. It was roughly a 3 ½ hr drive for us to Beadnell Bay Caravan and Camping Club site and we wouldn’t be allowed on site till after 1pm so we set off at 9.30 in the hope of arriving around that time.

Weather wasn’t great, a little overcast threatening rain and the forecast didn’t look brilliant but we had our fingers crossed for a few days of dry weather, we didn’t expect sunshine, that would be too much, but dry days please. Traffic wasn’t great either, with road works just past Leeds it was moving very slowly and traffic coming in the opposite direction was at a standstill, something to bear in mind for the return journey.

We arrived just before 2pm and we had the choice of 3 pitches, all were near the entrance and facilities so we picked a pitch which backed onto a wall and gave a great view down and over the rest of the site.

Soon had Pod set up and just in time because the sky darkened and the heavens opened as promised, always get that right don’t they, never get the promised sun but always guaranteed the rain. Watching the sky we waited for a brighter spot and grabbed the moment for a walk along the beach, we could smell the sea air and seaweed from the site and the draw was too much, we couldn’t wait to get onto the sand.

On the way out of the of the site we saw a cute little car in the main carpark, couldn’t resist taking a picture as we passed but across the road we went and were soon through the two gates and onto the beach, there were a few people pottering about and a small group were intent on putting up a gazebo. Considering the looming weather forecast of a heavy downpour and high winds we admired their positivity and determination.

Don’t know what it is about being up a mountain or walking along a coastline but within minutes of starting either of these the weight of the world ‘so to speak’ just drops off, hand in hand we slowed our pace and took in deep long breathes of glorious fresh air as we walked in the direction of Beadnell Village. The sea was on its way in so we didn’t have long but we didn’t hurry with our pre dinner stroll, we passed curlews at the waters edge and seagulls in flight making themselves known with their intermittent screeching.

It started to rain but we carried on a little further and passed a row of houses, the backs of which looked out onto the beach and at the rear of one of these we saw the strangest looking scarecrow, or in this case ‘scaregull’, eerie looking thing and not something you’d want to discover on an moonlight walk.

The rain quickened its tempo as did we on our walk back, we passed those with the gazebo who by now were huddled together and sat around a small campfire, we wished them luck and we made it back to Pod before the heavens opened.

Pod came into her own as usual, keeping us warm and dry whilst dinner cooked, the wind was picking up but the awning remained where we’d secured it and we soon sat down to steak, stir-fry and a nicely chilled beer, after which we caught up on the days Olympic events at which we were doing extremely well. Tiredness began to fall on us and the showers soon beckoned, they and the utility block didn’t disappoint, clean and tidy with hot and very welcoming showers.

Woke Saturday morning to glorious sunshine, rain had passed us through the night and the wind had dropped, it looked like a promise of a good day ahead but the weather forecast said different so a decision was made to drive into Alnwick and try and find MrB some light weight walking shoes, you know, those for pottering around sightseeing, not that pottering around is something we do a great deal of, we try it but a short walk usually turns into a bit of a trek.

Market day was on but we managed to find a free car park tucked away on one of the side streets and after checking out a few of the outdoor shops we found ourselves in Granets who had a sale on, brilliant. Their range wasn’t extensive but fortune would have it a particular pair of Merells caught MrB’s eye and they had his size in, they were tried on and the fit was perfect, obviously meant to be weren’t they so they were bought and worn from that moment on.

Tummies were rumbling and a location for lunch was now sought, we passed a few cafés and pubs but we found ourselves outside a café we had visited last year, food had been good then so we walked in to give it another go this year.

Caffe Tirreno is a small Italian restaurant, calling it a café doesn’t do it justice, it has roughly 12 tables and is decorated as most places of this nature are but the food is incredible. Reasonable priced and good sized portions, all cooked fresh so we expected to wait and this was explained to us. Calzone, chips and Bruschetta ai Funghi were ordered and it all went down very well, we’re a little wary of making recommendations but this place is excellent and when in the area it is in danger of becoming a regular haunt of ours.

We had a wonder round the local shops and eventually made our way back to the car and drove the short distance back to Pod, the rain held off so we couldn’t resist another stroll along the beach, we had plans to meet friends in Seahouses for dinner so we needed something to work off lunch and start an appetite for later.

The tide was on its way out so we set off up the beach towards Seahouses and the golf course. For a Saturday the beach wasn’t too busy, lots of people, including locals were out with their dogs for their afternoon constitutional, living here is definitely the life for dogs, never mind their human owners.

The weather was changing again, large dark clouds were moving in our direction and the wind was picking up, we made it back to Pod just before the heavens opened. Weather forecast looked awful and we were slap bang in the middle of it.

Torrential rain pounded down on Pod and the wind howled attempting to pull the awning away from Pod but the temperature didn’t change, it was very mild so we expected thunderstorms too. We were buffeted around by the wind but Pod and the awning stayed exactly were we had pegged them.

People and their holidays homes were still arriving, the weather was not the best for setting up and we watched as two people arrived on a motorbike with a very wet tent secured to the back, after checking in one rode to the pitch whilst the other trudged on slowly behind, we can only imagine how demoralising it must have felt.

Time came to make our way to Seahouses as we’d arranged to meet friends at Bamburgh Castle Hotel, we’d eaten there before, good food and atmosphere and with the right people we were in for a good night.

Parked in the main carpark on the front, paid £2 for up to four hours of parking and walked the short distance to the pub, we were the first there so bought drinks which were a little expensive, large glass of Coke and a pint of San Miguel £7.00.

The reserved table was pointed out to us and we sat looking out of the window down onto the pier and waited for the others to arrive, the sea was extremely choppy and the lighthouse off in the distance could just about be seen as the white water leaped around it as if dancing with arms outstretched attempting to envelope it with every move.

Didn’t have to wait long and they arrived with a variety of dogs in tow, once everyone was settled, including the dogs the evening began. Food was great, steak and ale pie for Mr.B and Mushroom linguine for LB, the company was of course the absolute best.

The following morning brought blue skies and a breeze that barely raised the site flag from its position against the pole. The sun was coming up over the beach and after breakfast we decided to get the map out and see what walks were on offer.

Decision was made to kit up with our rucksacks and walk from the site southwards along the beach in the direction of Dustanburgh Castle, the plan wasn’t to reach the castle but walk in its direction and take in the sights along the way, if we did reach it, it would be an added bonus, but it wasn’t the aim, it’s a beautiful coastline so we knew it wouldn’t disappoint. Weather looked really promising so a picnic was packed as we new along the way we’d find somewhere perfect to pitch.

Breakfast dishes washed and put away when a passing Motorhomer called by, a discussion took place around the weather we’d had and she commented on how our awning had stayed put throughout as she had the same awning and hers hadn’t. We ushered her into the awning and soon had her stood on Pods step examining our handy work around the sewn on beading and provided her with the details she needed to do the same. She seemed pleased enough but we’re sure as she stepped into the awning she must of thought.. can I trust these two? Needless to say she survived and we may have even converted her to a Pod way of life, who knows.

Lunch made, we soon hit the road and started our walk along the Northumberland coastal Path, also known as St. Oswald’s Way. 103 kilometres long but even we knew this wasn’t a one day thing, even for us and our ‘short walks’.

The walk started along the road and led us to Beadnell Bay beach and its carpark which was 2/3rds full and as we walked along the path through the dunes the beach and the sea opened up and greeted us, along with families and groups of all shapes and sizes, dogs and the odd boat too, the sun is an incredible thing, as soon as it made an appearance it brought everyone out in their droves. Yesterday it had been quiet on the beach, hardly a soul to be seen, today, deckchairs, windbreakers, laughter and games, brilliant. Only question we had was where had they all been hiding.

Off in the distance we could see Dunstanburgh Castle, it’s ruins looked black against the skyline, almost metallic and twisted. Eventually we left the beach and took a path over a wooden bridge and along the dunes, this brought us to Low-Newton-by-the-sea, very picturesque tiny village on the shoreline of the beach, all the properties looked onto a perfectly manicured lawn and within the row of cottages was The Ship Inn which appeared to be very popular in deed.

We continued along the beach and maybe it was the sight of people sat outside the pub enjoying their lunch but we decided to seek out a spot on the dunes offering the best view of the coastline and tuck into our sandwiches.

The dunes protected us from the breeze, the only reminder of its presence were the tall thin reeds swaying around us as we lay in the warm soft sand, the sun too added to the warmth and if we had laid there much longer we could easily of dozed off.

Few deep breaths and we picked ourselves up, packed our bags and carried on in the direction of the castle.

The sea was on its way in as we passed dog walkers and people running from their beach lodges with surf boards and the odd dinghy, determined to grab the last few minutes on the sea before it swallowed the beach and it’s easy access points through the rocks..

The castle itself was getting nearer but was still some distance away, we weren’t sure what distance we had covered but we knew we had at least another hour in front of us if we wanted to reach the castle. Time and tide wasn’t on our side so we decided to turn and head back to Pod, this wouldn’t be our last visit to this side of the English coast and the castle would get a visit, one day.

Our path took us the same route back, we walked by people we’d seen earlier, some flaked out on beach towels, others hidden in their little section of sand cordoned off by their windbreakers, all winding down and not quite so full of energy as when we first passed.

We eventually reached the site and Pod and after de-kitting we discovered we’d covered a round trip of 10 miles, it’s always a surprise to find out how far we’ve walked but the aching muscles the following day never are.

Dinner was eaten with the awning open and whilst watching the sun go down people passing by would tentatively side step in our direction, they’d offer a variety of greetings but it would always end with a peek in Pod. We never minded, people are curious about what’s inside and are always surprised to find out how well kitted out she and we are.

Bed soon beckoned and we soon fell asleep thinking about what the following day held.

Monday arrived and as we weren’t in any particular rush we lazed in bed with a cup of tea catching up with the news and weather forecast on the TV. Looked like a clear day ahead and one of our Facebook followers had suggested a boat trip to the Farne Isles, today seemed the perfect day for it so off we went to Seahouses to investigate.

Parking paid for we scoured the various huts that lined the side of the pier offering boat trips to and around the Farne Isles, all much the same but with slightly different wording so it took us a while to find what we were looking for.

We eventually settled on Golden Gate Boat Trips as they stated they were the only boat licensed by Trinity House to land on Longstone and tour inside Grace Darling’s Lighthouse, this seemed to be the case after reading all the other information boards so it was a done deal for £13.00 each and £2.00 to go inside the lighthouse.

We had a little time to spare before the boat went out so as it was lunchtime we went to The Bunker for local fish and chips, they were amazing, huge fish and delicious chips, batter wasn’t too thick and melted in your mouth, as did the chips once bitten through the crunchy outer layer.

Quick trawl round the gift shops and it was time to head to the boat, we waited at the end of the pier not sure what we had let ourselves in for as out at sea just beyond the entrance to the harbour were 3 boats, we did our best to read their names but we had to wait until they took their turn to come into the harbour, we weren’t disappointed, she was called Golden Gate as the literature stated and looked more than capable of handling the trip, have to say we were glad it wasn’t raining as she was open from bow to stern.

On we all poured and we sat on the right, starboard ( get us with the lingo 😉 ), didn’t count everyone on but there were at least 30 of us and we weren’t crammed in.

Out to sea we went, wasn’t choppy, the sun was out and we soon had sight of the islands. George the pilot was very knowledgeable and provided us with all the relevant information, he covered the seal and bird population, the local communities who no longer live on the islands and of course Grace Darling and her family.

Seals were spectacular, lazing around on the waters edge, every now and then waking long enough to look in our direction or popping up from the water not too far from the boat, this inevitably had the majority of people jumping up from their seats in an attempt to catch that elusive close up picture. As you can see LB got a little carried away but they were incredible.. can you spot the bird photo bombing 😉

The spectacular image of the lighthouse soon came into view, sat on the rocks edge in calm waters and blue skies really didn’t do it justice, saying that we didn’t want to be out there under any other conditions.

The boat coasted towards the landing deck and once moored up we were soon all out and walking along the stone path towards the lighthouse. We paid our £2.00 and once through the wooden gate turned right into the building itself. Considering the external size and height of the building it was surprising how small the interior was. The circular rooms on each floor accessed by the narrow steep stairwell that wound its way from top to bottom was easy enough going up but coming down heads and feet had to be watched as one false move could have resulted in an injury or embarrassing tumble.

After half an hour we were guided back to the boat and once all onboard the trip back to Seahouses harbour began, we said goodbye to the seals and before we knew it we were pulling into the harbour to disembark. It had been a thoroughly enjoyable few hours and would recommend it, weather dependant of course.

The glorious weather stayed with us and dinner was eaten with the back of the awning open watching the sun go down on a great few days away. Weather hadn’t been at its best but we never let that stop us from getting out and about too much.

Time had come for our last walk along the beach, so peaceful and quiet, our batteries sufficiently recharged until our next adventure we slowly walked back to Pod and settled into her for our last night.

Following morning we woke to a blue sky and our usual routine began, after breakfast everything was washed, wiped over or cleaned then checked before stacking into Pod for the journey home.

This was our second visit to this part of the east coast and we will be back as there is still so much more to see, next time round a little further down the coast we think, but that’s another story.


Posted in Accessories, Awning, Caravan, Caravanning, Castles, Farne Islands, Glamping, Modifications, Northumberland, Travel, Traveling, Uncategorized, Walking | Leave a comment

Corbett conquering and Woodland wandering 

Thursday morning arrived and we woke to glorious sunshine at Bunree Caravan Club site it looked like a beautiful day lay ahead, the loch was so still, reflecting the hills around it like a mirror and canoeists were already out on the water, pity it couldn’t be us because after breakfast we would be packing up and moving off to Braemar.

Soon had everything packed away, said our goodbyes to our fellow caravaners and were on the road for 9am, it was a pretty uneventful 3hr drive and the sun shone all the way although we did go up and down some steep and narrow roads but it wasn’t a problem for the car or Pod, we know the satnav finds the shortest route but sometimes we were convinced it was plotting against us.

The drive took us past the empty ski slopes and their silent lifts suspended motionless in the air, very odd to see the runs without snow and we really had to use our imagination to see what they would look like covered in a wonderful thick layer of pure white snow. Once we’d passed these we began to drive down the winding road and soon passed through the snow gates and turned left into the site entrance, we had arrived at Braemar Caravan site.

Easy enough to book in and as we’d done it on line we had chosen a pitch we hoped would give us a lovely sunset, weather permitting. Pod was set up in no time and it was as if we hadn’t been anywhere else. Love it, the ease of it all is brilliant, so stress free.

The weather was so good we took the opportunity to walk the short distance into the village, all quiet with a few small shop open. We made a bee-line for Braemar Mountain Sports and could quite easily have bought the shop out. Don’t normally say that about outdoor shops as they are much the same but this one was great, all good quality gear and some great bargains to be had. Managed to control ourselves though, nearly bought a bigger rucksack or ‘bergen’ depending on your view, but sanity returned just in time and we put it back. 

Continued our walk through the village and it brought us to Invercauld Arms, looked great from the outside and once in we found the small bar decked out in various colours of tartan and the high walls surrounded by every conceivable whiskey box. All LB could think was she’d hate to have to take them down and dust them all.

We always look for a local ale but on this occasion they didn’t have anything on draft so we lumped for a couple of bottles of Macbeth pale ale, very nice, so much so we had another and dinner too. Pulled pork for one and good old fish and chips for the other, nice portions and good value for money.

After a slow walk back to Pod and hot showers we sat in the awning watching the sun go down over the hill, we had picked the right pitch after all.

Friday morning we woke to low cloud and rain but we were determined to find a local walk even if something a little more adventurous was off limits.

Our lovely followers never let us down and came up with a few ideas, one being a walk up Creag Conninch (538m). Just situated in the village and it seemed a nice little walk to tide us over with the hope of finding a nice picnic spot to watch the village below us carrying on with its daily life.

Table in the awning was laid for breakfast and the awning was opened to take in the view across the green, no sooner had the zip gone up when the funniest sight seen in ages came waddling at full speed across the grass, ducks, a whole army of them. What made us laugh was the fact they can fly but choose to waddle, almost run, quacking at full volume as they did, you could almost see them pushing through with their shoulders like people caught up in a sale, determined to get to that bargain before anyone else, in this case food. There were signs up saying not to feed them but this behaviour was not of ducks who weren’t in the habit of grabbing the odd morsel or two.

Rucksacks packed and off we walked following the directions given by our Facebook friend, in conjunction with the map we soon found the wooden gate and the entrance to Creag Conninch.

Quite steep to start but because of the tall pine trees covering the hill it was very still and silent, almost like a blanket, muffling and preventing sound from breaking through. Our legs had recovered from Ben Nevis and we soon got into a rhythm stopping occasionally to take in the scenery always in the hope of catching sight of deer or a red squirrel.

Within half an hour we’d reached the top and the rain was waiting for us too, great views all around from the village to castle and beyond, only problem now was what to do next?

On the way up we’d passed a path that veered off to the left, the sign said Lions Face so we decided to head off in that direction and see where it took us.

Once back below the trees the only sound to be heard was the rustle of our waterproofs and the crunch of the bracken as we walked over it on he path. We tried our best to make as little noise as possible as we so wanted to catch sight of deer.

The path wound round the base of the hill and after about half an hour we walked through an enclosed area of smaller trees, as we did something caught our eye and on looking further we discovered a tree tucked away from all the others decorated with Christmas tinsel, baubles and little sentimental personal gifts, it was touching to see and seemed to mean a great deal to those who had through time decorated the tree. Just to the left tucked under the bows of another tree was a small wooden bench, the perfect place to have our picnic.

Batteries recharged rucksacks were donned and off we went again, the rain continued, nothing heavy just annoying. Not another soul was seen as we moved through the wood and as it opened up below us luck worked in our direction and a solitary deer could be seen grazing. It didn’t stay for long and soon moved off deeper into the wood.

The path eventually brought us to Lions Face, wish we’d researched this before because the sign below the cliff edge said it was best viewed from across the river as the cliff face and the way it had worn was that of a Lions Face. One to look out for over the next few days if we happened to be in the area again.

Still not another person to be seen as we came full circle and back to the wooden gate. Our short local walk had been local, but not short which seems to be usual for us, 3 ½ hours covering 9.21km.

Back at Pod we dried off quite quickly and once dinner was eaten we planned our next day’s walking, weather looked better, dryer and although a few Munros could have been on the cards we decided on a Corbett which was sat behind the site, this one was called Morrone and 859m.

Opening the blind on Saturday morning we were pleased to see a lighter sky, not clear blue but definitely much brighter and no sign of rain. Breakfast was eaten again with ducks for company and the route on the map decided upon.

The walk took us through the village and past the local pond, the path went through fields of heather and was easy enough to follow. As we climbed upwards the hill opened up to huge areas of flat land bursting with more heather and once past a certain point in the distance the mountain rescue relay mast came into view. 

It didn’t seem that far away but never seemed to get any nearer, just like all those other peaks we have climbed, teasing us, saying .. come on, you’re nearly there, just a little further..

Eventually the mast became nearer and clearer and blue skies surrounded us as if to applaud our arrival at the summit but along with the blue sky came the most ferocious wind, so strong we hid behind the stone wall surrounding the mast to eat lunch wrapped in our woollens and waterproofs.

We like to do circular routes when we can and this walk lent itself to it perfectly, the path downwards was like walking into a wind tunnel, MrB had hold of LB as the wind did its utmost to turn her into Mary Poppins.

Once further down and out of the wind the view out in front of us was spectacular, the hills rolled away and because of the organised heather fires the flashes of various shades of green made it look like those Scottish giants had exchanged their kilts for combat trousers and were out on manoeuvres.

At the bottom of the path we reached a road known as the Military Road, it was in deed very military like, straight as a ram rod and went right through the middle of the local golf course.

We passed red squirrels chasing each other up and around trees and a tiny mole who was desperately trying to get itself off the road, with a helping hand it was shoved in the direction of the grass verge and safely out of the way of oncoming traffic.

Back at Pod we discovered we’d covered 12.7km and for our last evening before heading to Leaplish Waterside Park we had spaghetti bolognese for dinner, after hot showers and a game of scrabble we clambered into bed having planned our 4 hour drive to Kielder Forest.

Woke Sunday morning to have our last breakfast with our ducks and as Mr.B walked off to do breakfast dishes he was duly followed by his loyal entourage.

All gear put away again, like clockwork now and we were soon ready for our four hour drive. We were on the road for 8am as we wanted to make the most of our time at Leaplish, we were only there for two nights so it was important to make every second count. 

The drive took us through some beautiful countryside and within no time at all the lake appeared on our left, it looked fantastic, surrounded by trees and it seemed to go on for ever. Turning into the park we drove down a small road under the long green branches fanning out from the tall pine trees and as we’d booked a woodland pitch it looked very promising.   

The office was easy to find, set in a clearing which seemed to have pitches on it too, from this pine trees stretched out in all directions, we were hopeful of a secluded pitch hidden within the woodland, once booked in we made our way to our allocated pitch, we didn’t have to go far as it was no more than 25m from the office and on the clearing, we were gutted to say the least. From where we were the site did look busy and presumed it was full so begrudgingly went about getting Pod settled in, the pitch was very uneven so our home made levelling blocks came into play, 6 pieces of timber 1’ x 6’’ made for a fiver and when stacked into a ramp worked perfectly, Pod was soon sat on 3 pieces of timber, perfectly level and wasn’t going anywhere. 

Once Pod and awning was set up we took a breath and looked around where we were, we seemed to have been sited on the family pitch as we were surrounded by families with young children, we’ve nothing against children but this was not what we had paid for and were feeling a little flat at this point as this was our last stop before heading home. We’d specifically asked for a woodland pitch and this was most definitely not the case. Deciding to put this behind us we walked down towards the lake, this took us past the toilet block and believe it or not past some empty but beautiful woodland pitches, they were ideal and would have suited us down to the ground, off the main track and tucked away under the spreading canopy of the pine trees, we considered complaining but had we got our way it would have meant packing the awning and Pod up again and as we were only there two nights we decided to suck it up and put up with it.

The jetty, shop and pub area looked great and the Osprey view point was brilliant, lenses were set up to take you to the other side of the lake where you could see mother and chicks in the nest, how they stayed up there in the high winds was beyond us.

As we had the kayak with us we planned to spend the next day our last full day pootling around on the lake, so we decided to check with the office if any launch point could be used and here came our second bomb shell. We weren’t allowed to use it, we were informed we needed extensive insurance and a competency certificate but what really put the nail in and sunk the whole idea was the kayak had to have a solid bottom, ours is ridged but inflatable through-out, we were double gutted. The last leg of our trip wasn’t going according to plan but we were determined to stay up beat, we had a map of the area and decided to pull that out of the bag and go over it in the evening to devise a plan of action.

Dinner was eaten in the Boat House Pub and after working our way through a playing field full of children instead of knee high grass and woodland flowers we returned to Pod to open a lovely bottle of red and a game of scrabble, and after hot showers we ended the evening watching a chick flick, not something we have ever done before but hey, first time for everything. For those that are curious it was The Notebook, someone cried, couldn’t possibly say who it was.

Monday morning, our last day before heading back to civilisation and reality, the sun was making the odd appearance so the OS map came out and we found a circular route of the lake, Lakeside Way, there was no way we could walk the entire route but it would make a brilliant cycle route. Breakfast was eaten with the awning open and because of how we had positioned Pod we had the illusion of looking out into woodland.

Walking boots on and rucksack packed with our picnic lunch we set of along the circular route, not sure how far we would go but the sun was out and it was dry, it looked like a good day ahead. We passed the odd cyclist and the lake itself was very quiet, all in all it was very peaceful, at some points the lake disappeared from view and we were surrounded by incredibly tall and deep woodland.

We passed a cycle route that looked more challenging than the circular route and it looked like something we’d consider in the future, the circular path continued and took us across a small iron bridge which below it had a silver curved metal statue sitting in the water, it gave the impression that a ripple of water had been frozen in time but left the rest of the river running into the lake unhindered. The path continued on the other side of the bridge and it brought us to the Mirage, an incredible wooden structure that gave an amazing view the length of the lake, this was the perfect place for our lunch.

After lunch our walk continued to the weir and a strange looking statue, at this point we discovered the area had been chosen for local artists to display work, some seemed very well hidden and we only hoped all would receive the passing attention they deserved.

At this point we made the decision to turn back and once back at Pod dinner was eaten in the awning, we had company on this occasion though, the midges.. we covered ourselves in spray and pulled down the net divider in the hope we didn’t get bitten too badly.

Dinner eaten and the midges were out in huge numbers, we put this down to warm temperature and no wind, it wasn’t safe to sit outside so we remained in the awning for safety and relived our wonderful tour of Scotland, we did not want our last night to turn into a midge fest.

Our last morning arrived and the sun was out with hardly a cloud in the sky, once up we discovered we had been a midnight feast for midges who by hook or crook and wheedled their way into Pod, one of us looked like we had a bad case of chicken pox, not a pretty sight at all.

Once we checked that the coast was clear we opened the awning for breakfast and soon after we began to pack up for our return road trip home, it all went away in its usual place and we were soon on the road, before we knew it our 3 hour journey had brought us home.

Pod was washed, polished and put away ready for her next trip, we said our thanks for keeping us warm and safe and closed the gate on her knowing she would be out again within a few weeks for another trip up to Northumberland, how lucky are we.

Posted in Accessories, Awning, Caravan, Caravanning, Glamping, Kayak, Lakes, Northumberland, Travel, Traveling, Uncategorized, Walking | Leave a comment

One Mountain, two people and a Loch

Scotland.. here we come again, glorious 11 nights away stopping at three sites, Fort William for 5 nights, Braemar in the Cairngorms for 3 nights and Kielder Forest, Northumberland for 2, we’ve been so looking forward to this break and planned on making every day count.

Past few days have been great and have been spent cleaning Pod, shopping for a few days’ worth of supplies and planning our days out around walking, kayaking and hopefully coming across a few of the local sites, love the build-up and can never get tired of planning our little adventures. The main aim of this trip though was to reach the summit of Ben Nevis aka ‘The Ben’..

Early start for us, up at 5am and out of the door for 6. Really do have it down to a fine art now, so much so we hover near the front door before leaving, convinced we have forgotten something. Also a new car for this trip, a Dacia Duster, only took delivery the day before so bit of a new experience driving it, never mind towing something with it too, even if it is little old Pod.

Traffic was extremely light and we were making good time, we stopped at Gretna services for a leg stretch and a quick bite to eat, nothing exciting, just sandwiches made the night before. The weather wasn’t brilliant, very overcast and it insisted on raining on and off on the way up, by this point Pod was filthy due to all the splash back, all that hard work washing, buffing, polishing.. gone.

Arrived on site just after 1pm and as we approached the main entrance we were met by a narrow road and a single set of traffic lights, once they had changed to green and we began the drive towards the site office we were grateful for the lights as there was absolutely no way two vehicles would have passed each other, it would have been a very long and interesting reversing task.

Booking in was easy, we tried to wangle a sea view pitch as the awning on Pod is at the rear, but they weren’t for budging, any awning, no front sea view pitch. Didn’t expect any different but everyone loves a trier. We drove around the site and on the first circuit we found one facing the loch and because of the positioning of the pitches we had a clear view of the loch, hills, sunset and beyond.

The rain had died away and Pod was soon up with the kettle on, you can never beat a nice hot cup of tea once everything is in its place and you can put your feet up to relax, this we did for the next hour or so, just sat, taking it all in, the hills stretching out beyond and around with the loch between us, so still bar a lone canoeist making his way along the shore.

Dinner was eaten, bit of ritual now it seems, our first night on site we treat ourselves to something we don’t eat a lot of at home and on this occasion it was steak. Two small venison steaks on the griddle along with pasta in sauce and a stir fry, very welcome and all cooked on the two ring burner in Pod.

That stuff called rain made a return visit and on this occasion it didn’t appear to be in a hurry to leave, this of course meant we had to rethink our walking of Ben Nevis, we had other things in the pipeline but so hoped at least one of our four days would be good enough to give ‘The Ben’ a bash.

The rain let up for a short while and we took an evening stroll along the beach, we walked through the site and eventually found a small path down to the pebble and boulder covered beach. Cloud had descended, this left no chance of the sunset breaking through and the tide was coming in so the millpond of earlier was not to be seen.

Fabulously welcoming hot showers were had and once back at Pod the weather reports were checked, Ben Nevis was a definite No. So a decision was made to have a lazy morning and head into Fort William for a good mooch round. Least we had our waterproofs with us so all should be good.

Sunday arrived and it just so happened to be the Men’s final at Wimbledon, as we were in Scotland what could be better than to watch one of their favourite sons Andy Murray, hopefully win his 2nd Wimbledon Final, so as walking wasn’t on the cards we decided as part of our mission into Fort William we would hunt down Strawberries and Cream and settle in for the afternoon to watch what we knew would be a great match.

Drove into town and parked in an all day spot for £2, very reasonable. A walk round the town didn’t reveal much as most of the shops were closed, it was Sunday but expected some to be open as it was the holiday season. We nipped in and out of a few specialty shops, one of the best being one for whiskey, as soon as we walked in we were hit with the heady aroma of malt whiskey, all peaty and fire, wonderful. Most made locally and some out for tasting, couldn’t say no, at least LB couldn’t as she wasn’t driving.

We called into the local food shop and there on display were strawberries, cream and meringue, it was meant to be, wasn’t it.. so two huge tubs of strawberries, large container of double cream and deliciously crisp meringues were bought.

Rain continued on and off so after a walk along the sea front we headed back to Pod, just in time to get the chairs and TV positioned, strawberries and cream dished up and the beer opened. Let the tennis begin.. and did it begin. Edge of the seat stuff at times but a brilliant game and worthy win for Mr. Murray, well deserved, the man even brought tears to someone’s eyes.

Dinner consisted of Quorn Chilli and a few beers followed by a walk along the beach, so peaceful and still, all that could be heard were passing sea birds who stopped momentarily on the rocks before moving on over the loch, it sounded almost lonely as they disappeared from view.

Once back at Pod weather checks were done and all looked good for Ben Nevis in the morning, we voiced our plan on our Facebook page and from our followers we received much welcome advice on conditions and the appropriate gear to wear, someone had even gone to the extent of finding the weather chart specifically for ‘The Ben’, how thoughtful is that.

Hot showers were had and once all our gear was checked the alarm was set for 5am and we went to bed hopeful of a good day on Ben Nevis.

We woke with the alarm and automatically looked out of the window, sun was on its way up but it was raining, we’d been promised dry weather so hoped this was just for the first few hours. Decision was made to head to Glen Nevis visitors centre and reassess once there.

Once breakfast was eaten we drove the short distance to the centre and were surprised to see that the car park was empty apart from a motorhome which had parked there over night.

It had stopped raining so paid to park for the day and began getting ourselves ready. Now, we have walked many places, done Snowden and Scafell Pike and we have always dressed appropriately and changed accordingly as we went. For some unknown reason, perhaps a little apprehensive because of the stories we have read, we put nearly every piece of clothing we had with us on, including full waterproofs, we were wrapped up like Christmas Turkeys. Needless to say after stopping every few kilometres to take something off by halfway point we were in t-shirts and trousers.

We were still below the cloud as we crossed a small river using a very nice wooden bridge and as we did so we both wondered how on earth anyone had done this without the bridge, slightly perilous to say the least as it was quite a drop below.

Once over we continued and the higher we walked the near the cloud got, needless to say by the time we reached the waterfall the visibility around us was very poor, little drizzle had also appeared but not enough to warrant more clothing.

The paths were very well made and on our journey up we were amazed at the work that had been done, huge grey bags containing boulders had been dropped off at various points to ease the process but even so we did wonder how anyone managed to move the sizeable rocks into place. It was awe inspiring and a credit to all those involved.

With no scenery to take in and the light rain to spoil our fun we trudged on upwards, it was very much like climbing a never ending set of unmatched stairs, great work out for the thighs and other areas.

After 2/3rds of the way we had passed a few people but nothing like what we had expected and we put this down to our early start. The only thing that really spoilt it for us was the lack of respect shown by other walkers, we say other walkers because we can’t think of anyone else who could be responsible for it.. litter. Attempts made to hide plastic bottle and sandwich wrappers were unbelievable, unsightly pieces of humanity spoiling the highest peak in the UK. Looked up the definition of ‘humane’ :showing evidence of moral and intellectual advancement, sadly it wasn’t present today.

 We had passed the zig zags and the rain began to get heavier, we knew we weren’t that far from the top and the temperature began to drop, so we thought it prudent to start putting layers on, including waterproofs.

The cloud became thicker and the cairns began to disappear in front of us, luckily we had a map and managed to navigate to the next few. Low and behold as we reached the peak snow could still be seen, we attempted to put our hands in to leave our prints but no amount of pressure would leave a mark, it was rock hard, on this occasion a little reminder of our presence was not going to be left.

Small boulders were everywhere and we stumbled over them in the direction of the trig point, the temperature had dropped considerably and visibility was approximately 5 metres, great shame to have reached the top of the highest peak in the UK but couldn’t admire the view, that said though we were extremely chuffed with ourselves to have made it in four hours.

This time every piece of clothing went on, just before the gloves were donned the obligatory picture was taken and we then found a little niche to sit in and have a quick bite to eat. We were soon joined by a solo walker and a group of three, we could feel their sense achievement as all had big grins slapped across their faces. Cloud was closing in, becoming thicker so none of us hung around too long and in our own time all started to make their way back down again.

We hadn’t passed the first few cairns when we began to see people making the journey up, the number gradually increased and by the halfway point we had passed quite a few, all asking ‘how far to go’ and ‘is the weather any better’? Without wanting to dampen spirits that already looked sodden we jeered them upwards with words of encouragement but didn’t even attempt to fill them with too much hope concerning the view, we were honest but hoped it would clear for them.

The rain increased and some people on the way up were inadequately dressed, there was no getting away from it. Tried to make sense of it, even excuses but there wasn’t any, especially when we passed a young man in chinos and shirt sleeves, jacked slung over his arm as if out for a Sunday stroll shortly after followed by a man in shorts and crocks with an umbrella and young girls in trainers wearing 99p festival ponchos.

Journey down was hard on the knees but we were still on a high with our achievement, once we cleared the cloud we had the spectacular view down the valley to walk towards, within a few hours we were back at the car park and once de-kitted flopped into the car to drive the short journey back to Pod.
On the way back, couldn’t resist one last picture of The Ben, but her summit remained hidden in the clouds, teasing us.

Those showers were never more welcome and once we’d eaten we didn’t last much longer before collapsing into bed, extremely pleased with ourselves and already planning our next adventure.

Tuesday arrived and neither of us were in a rush to get out of bed, aching bodies and stiff joints prevented any sudden movements and breakfast was eaten re-living our conquering of ‘The Ben’.

Weather looked promising so decision was made to do laundry in the morning and if the weather held take the kayak for a paddle on a nearby loch, laundry consisted of two washers and dryers and we seemed to time it right so with a few return visits to change machines and top up the timer with money it was all done quite quickly.

While this was going on we sat outside and spent the morning chatting with passing people, Pod always get plenty of attention and the thing we have learnt is that you can’t be shy if you own a Pod, people can’t resist talking about or asking for a peek inside. We don’t mind at all so a few days never went by without someone having a look inside, good job it’s easy enough to keep tidy and we are always willing to try and answer any questions they may have, we’ve yet to see another Pod on site so we are more than willing to help with a Podding revolution.
We were even joined on the site by another pod so to speak, it’s big brother you might say. Pictures were exchanged and the pros and cons discussed but obviously we wouldn’t swap Pod for anything, way too versatile and easy to tow, a perfect LSV.

Lunch eaten and laundry put away we were soon on our way to Loch Lochy, the wind had picked up and when we arrived it looked quite choppy, doable but not what we were after today, after yesterday’s monumental event we wanted a more sedate activity.

Drove on a little further and soon came to Loch Oich, surrounded by tall trees it was much calmer and with the sun breaking through the clouds casting shadows on the loch it looked perfect. We pulled into a car park and before unpacking the kayak we checked for a decent launch point, once found within a few minutes we had the kayak inflated, loaded up with the gear and we were paddling up the loch with no particular destination in mind.

As we moved along at a leisurely pace the only noise to be heard was the rhythmic sound of our paddles entering the water as we glided along the shore passing boats sat silently on the water’s edge. They ranged from extremely expensive, smart and pristine to abandoned and half submerged, slowly decaying in the water, much like the old ruined buildings to be seen on the edge of the Loch.

Continuing up the Loch we heard a low but deep rumbling noise coming up behind us, we looked and were amazed to see a C130 Hercules plane heading in our direction, directly along the length of the Loch. As it soared overhead LB fumbled for her camera, doing her best to be quick but also aware one slip and the camera could be dropped and lost for ever in the loch, pictures were taken and it soon disappeared into the distance.

The journey up the loch continued, we were passed by a few yachts and further down the loch someone was attempting to waterski. Heading in our direction were two canoes and as they came within greeting distance they gave out a shout and laughed, they had thought Podding was real. Made us laugh as many seem to think he’s real, even when dangling from LB’s rucksack on the way down a mountain.

Eventually it came time to turn and head in the direction of the car, we checked for traffic and paddled across the loch to slowly wind our way back to our launch point, the water skier seemed to be having great fun even though they were spending more time in the water than on the board. We too had loved our time on the lake, extremely peaceful and very picturesque.

Once back at the car the kayak was deflated, given a quick wipe over and put back in the car, we were soon on our way back to Pod, the kayak is a great piece of kit and absolutely perfect for our needs.

Sun was still out so dinner was eaten with the awning open facing the loch, we’d been lucky with the midges so we were able to enjoy the sunset without any worries of being eaten alive. We had one day left before moving onto Braemar so plans were made to visit the Ben Nevis Distillery just outside Fort William, reviews weren’t brilliant but you surely can’t go wrong with a distillery where the nectar left behind by the angles remained.

Woke to find low cloud which threatened to off load whatever it was hanging onto, after breakfast it brightened a little and we set off to the distillery. It was easy enough to find as it was set back off one of the main roads out of town, the carpark was of a fair size and there were plenty of spaces available.

Once inside we found the reception and two tickets for £5 each were bought, we were also provided with two £5 vouchers which could be used to buy a bottle of our choice from the shop. We were then shown into a small room which accommodated approximately 30 people, already seated were around 6 and all were facing the front waiting for a large to screen to kick into life.

As we waited we were joined by about another half dozen people and at this point a young lady dressed in tartan announced the itinerary for the next hour or so, the tv sprung into action and began to tell us the tale of Ben Nevis whiskey. It was very entertaining told through the eyes of a Scottish giant, educational and informative.

Once the show was over the young lady appeared again and the tour of the distillery began, she lead us through the various departments and stopped at each section to provide us with all the relevant information, she provided it all with a clear voice and a huge smile. She was very knowledgeable and handled all questions well with a little humour thrown in, even a few low ballers shall we say.

Once the tour was over we had the pleasure of sampling a triple blended whiskey, not usually a fan of blends but it was a fiery mix on the tongue, after perusing the shelves a bottle of Ben Nevis single malt was bought using one of the vouchers, any discount is always welcome.

We left the distillery and drove the short distance to the local supermarket, supplies were bought, hopefully enough to see us through our next two caravan sites. Once back at Pod dinner was eaten and we set about planning our departure in the morning, checking travel times we gave ourselves 3hrs driving so as long as we left before 9am we would arrive at Braemar not long after midday. 

After a short stroll along the beach we spent our last evening at Bunree looking out over the loch and chatting about our adventure so far; climbing a mountain, paddling in a loch and plenty of sight seeing, it was going by far too fast but over the next few days we had another adventure or two planned ..


Posted in Accessories, Awning, Caravan, Caravanning, Castles, Glamping, Highlands, Kayak, Lakes, Lochs, Modifications, Mountains, Scotland, Travel, Traveling, Uncategorized, Walking, Whiskey | Leave a comment

Coniston Water in a Kayak

We love our walking and many of our little jaunts have taken us round some beautiful UK coastal waters and lakes. On a couple of these walks our eyes have looked longingly at those cruising along, whether they be in small power boats churning their way through the water or canoes, motored by those with the muscle power capable of gliding over the surface without any effort at all.

We saw ourselves as the latter, our mental image may never meet what we’d end up like but we were up for the challenge, so after a few days of intense research off we went to Decathlon and bought ourselves an inflatable kayak, a Savylor Willemette.

Once home of course we had to inflate it in the conservatory, the fun we were having so far we doubted we would ever actually grow up. Only thing that would prevent us from remaining teenagers for ever would be our failing memory and ageing body parts. Suppose the image of two people struggling to get into a kayak, ultimately falling into it and then paddling aimlessly up and down a lake having forgotten where they were going and originally started from would be entertaining for us and those observing.

But, we digress..

Buoyancy aides bought, foot pump, repair kit and water proof bags also purchased, all we could do now was countdown the days to our next trip away. This had originally been booked for two nights away in Buxton, as lakes, or any other water feature bigger than the local pond weren’t available we had to look elsewhere for our maiden voyage to take place.

Coniston Park Coppice was at the top of our list, mainly because our trip in April was still fresh in our minds and our visit there still held the image of a beautiful sunny day with two people paddling down the lake laughing and chatting as they went over the still, glass like surface of the water. We wanted that to be us, desperately, so Buxton was changed for Coniston. Sorry Buxton.

The day came of our departure and we woke to torrential rain beating against the bedroom window, we only hoped this wasn’t a taster for the next few days.

Following our now well planned routine and check list Pod was soon packed up and ready for the off. With the addition of the kayak and all its additional bits the check list had grown somewhat, so it took a little longer to decide what went where for the journey.

As we set off the heavy rain had changed to drizzle but we paid no mind to it as we were still quite giddy with our heads full of sunshine, floating boats and laughter.

We arrived at Park Coppice a few minutes after 12, the rain had stopped and the sun broke through the clouds to provide us with a small promise of a dry day ahead, as we stopped in front of the site office we were greeted with waving hands and smiling faces, they had remembered us from our visit in April, we say ‘us’, but we mean Pod of course.

Once through the gate we drove down the winding road towards the lake, passing the large wooded terraces on either side we saw more vans than we expected for a mid-week break.

We chose a spot not too far from the toilet block and set about making Pod our home for the next few days. Everything was all but done when MB noticed Pod wasn’t running off the mains, switches in the consumer unit were turned on and off, checked at the mains, double checked and checked again but still wouldn’t connect. Only thing it could be was the site bollard must have tripped. Either by those along side us using the same bollard or previous occupiers of the pitch. 

 The wardens were contacted and within a few minutes they arrived and confirmed the bollard had tripped and more than likely by the pitches previous occupants. One flick of a switch we were up and running again. We did have images of having to move everything to another pitch but thankfully all was well.

Next was the kayak which didn’t take long to inflate, with waterproof bags containing dry clothing and the requisite buoyancy jackets we headed down to the lake, we had the whole afternoon ahead of us and the clouds were breaking up to provide that idyllic image we were so looking for.

Now, bearing in mind neither of us has been canoeing since child hood getting into the kayak may prove to be a challenge, never mind actually paddling in unison in a straight line, so our ‘boarding’ point was chosen with care, well out of the sight of a group of canoeists and round the bend from a group of people sat enjoying the view. If we were going to fall in neither of us wanted to be reminded of it over the next few days.

To our surprise the water was warm, tepid even and it all went like a dream, MrB in first taking the back seat, then LB to the front, we reversed out and with our paddles, Canadian style, we were soon gliding along Coniston Water like a pair of old pros with grins from ear to ear.

Taking our time we discovered our strong and weak sides and slowly worked southwards in the direction of Torver jetty no one else was to be seen as the scenery went by and the only sounds to be heard were our paddles in and out of the water.

Around 3/4hr later we turned and paddled back up passing the caravan site and up towards Coniston Pier with the intention of gliding in gracefully, alighting and going on a search for an ice cream.

The shoreline came into view and the only people in sight were the odd walker and a young man in a wet suit about to attempt an open swim, we later found out he was in training for a triathlon.

Once out of the kayak MrB called into Bluebird Café and returned with two huge 99s which we devoured whilst watching a group of children practicing their rowing technique in open canoes.

Back into the kayak we went, same routine as before and paddled our way past the bay where all the boats and yachts were moored and people swimming along the shore who gave us a wave as we passed by, we eventually reached the shoreline which would take us back to the caravan park.

On dry land we de-kitted and carried the kayak back up to the site and Pod. We were extremely pleased with our maiden voyage and it couldn’t have gone better, we only hoped the following day’s weather was as good for our planned full day of adventure on the lake.

Following day arrived and the weather forecast looked promising, not much sun. It was going to be dry. The kayak was ready to go so after a catch up with the news on the TV with a cup of hot tea in bed we were soon up and after breakfast we trudged down to the lakeside, we were soon floating down the lake, the plan being to find Peel Island and have a little picnic lunch.

We appeared to be the only ones out on the lake, floating southwards to the sound of birds echoing down the valley and the noise of the ripples caused by the kayak gliding through the water. It was so peaceful.

After about half an hour we began to see rainfall hit the lake around us, droplets, nothing to worry about, after all the weather forecast said no rain. Didn’t it..

We looked behind us and we could see a grey mist travelling down the lake in our direction, the rain was getting heavier but nothing to worry about, just a shower, so we headed inland and took refuge under the trees.

Waterproofs on and kayak on its side, we waited for the rain to pass which it did within 10 minutes or so. Looking up the lake the clouds were slowly moving in our direction but we decided to keep moving and hope the rain would go across the lake and not down it.

How wrong we were.. Once back on the lake we paddled with a little more gusto, occasionally looking over our shoulders to see the dark clouds looming and the surface of the lake changing colour from the band of rain hitting the surface as it moved quickly towards us.

We stopped twice more, the last time we again took refuge under trees on the shoreline as a torrential down poor covered us with the odd rumble of thunder thrown in. Weather forecast ! how wrong it was but we couldn’t help but laugh, it didn’t dampen our spirit whilst we tucked into our rain sodden sandwiches.

After 45 minutes the rain began to fade away, we were discussing what to do next when we heard an almighty splash coming from down the shoreline. We looked to see two young women clad in bikinis having a fine old time along the bank of the lake.

The contrast between us and them couldn’t have been more different. Us stood head to toe in waterproofs starting to feel the cold. Them having a fine old time swimming around in a circle in the tepid water of the lake.

Decision was made to head back towards the caravan site but not before we decided to paddle past the caravan site, some strange little stone statues and called into the Bluebird Café for another ice cream.

The rain stopped for our return journey which caused us to regret our hasty return, this regret didn’t last long though because our journey from the café to the caravan sites shoreline was again dominated by a torrential downpour. We clambered out of the kayak and all our attempts to reman dry during the day had been wasted.

Even though we were soaked we still didn’t want to leave the lake, as we picked the kayak up to walk back to Pod we looked back at the lake feeling slightly forlorn.

On our return the rain stopped, we hoped this would work in our favour and remain dry overnight, thus enabling us to pack the awning away dry. Were we being too optimistic, only time would tell.

Woke to find birds singing and the sun peeking through low level clouds. It looked promising so without any delay we began packing Pod up. Much to our surprise the awning was dry, after all the rain from the past 24hrs we couldn’t believe our luck. The kayak came first, still wet obviously but we soon wiped it down and packed it away in its bag. The awning was next and it too went away quickly.

Within an a short space of time we had packed Pod up and drove away from the pitch leaving nothing but tyre marks. Strange really, looking back our memories come with us and the pitch would soon be inhabited by someone else who would undoubtedly make memories of their own.

This visit to Park Coppice had been different for us, most of our adventures have involved mountain and countryside walks, the kayak has given us a new string to our bow, widening the scope of our travels and introducing us to new experiences.

Yes, the weather hadn’t been perfect but we’d been surrounded by the most beautiful scenery on an excellent site, this in I self made it perfect for us.

We had a ball and can’t wait for our next trip away, 3 weeks and then bonny Scotland.

Posted in Accessories, Awning, Caravan, Caravanning, Cumbria, Glamping, Kayak, Lake District, Lakes, Modifications, Mountains, Travel, Traveling, Uncategorized, Walking | 4 Comments