Sunday 29 May 2016

Weston Park

We are staying in the beautiful Weston Park that was designed by the famous landscape architect Capability Brown. I can't imagine what he would think of the sight of hundreds of caravans parked on his glorious rolling acres, but it looks rather lovely to me.
We found a bit of time today to look around the Park, and in particular the woodland rhododendron walk. The flowers were at their best and very large.
We also checked out the activities at the Caravan Club and I wanted to take a donkey ride but I was both too heavy and too old.
The Punch and Judy show was a surprise as I didn't know that they still existed, but it did seem a bit rubbish.
I also had a good chat with two competitors from the television programme called 'Caravanner of the Year' . I don't know their names but it was a guy and his mum who were very friendly. They were knocked out in the first week, but turned up anyway for the final, just in case anyone had to drop out. Unfortunately for them, no one did.

Saturday 28 May 2016

Caravan Club National

We were unsure what to do for the bank holiday weekend, but then Darren heard about the Caravan Club National annual rally. It turns out that Adria are the sponsors and as we are members of the Adria Owners Club, then they kindly gave us free entry to this extravaganza.
We arrived last night, picked up our schedule for the weekend, and noticed that the first event scheduled for today was mobility scooter agility.
We watched the first competitor negotiate dozens of cones, but unfortunately it wasn't a race, so there was no wheelies or dangerous driving so we soon wandered off instead to check out the other attractions.
The falconry stall was exciting and was teamed up with a whippet racing event. The dogs were asleep very close to an aggressive vulture that was desperate to bag himself an enormous meal.
The cyclists, as you may guess, were not members of the Caravan Club, but professional stuntmen who provided the excitement that was sadly lacking from the mobility scooter event.
They were followed by a marching band who were either a few members short or they had too many instruments. Most of them managed to bang their drum with one hand whilst also playing the bugle. I think that the sound quality suffered a little as they also had concentrate on marching in complicated patterns around the parade ground.
There was so many things to see that we missed out on loads, including the Take That tribute band tonight as it was sold out.
Can't wait to see what's going on tomorrow.

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Sunset over the Wirral

Our campsite was right by the estuary and there was beautiful views just a few steps from our campervan.
On the other side of the water is Wales and when the tide is out it looks almost as if you can just walk straight across.
The sunset was gorgeous and you can see the huge wind farms out on the ocean.
We had to move on though, and yesterday we had a nice drive, almost all on motorways down to London.

Sunday 22 May 2016

Ferry across the Mersey

We are at a campsite on The Wirral, which cleverly happens to be across the Mersey from Liverpool. We have been to Liverpool a few times in the past and it had a always rained really heavily, but we decided to give it a go again today.
We set off on our bicycles in bright sunshine and wearing teeshirts. Unfortunately, I forgot to take the map, so we got lost a few times and had to really sprint for the last couple of miles to get our ferry. During that final charge the skies darkened and the rain started coming down.
We were the last people on to the extremely crowded ferry and we ended up crushed in at the back. We only stayed on for a few minutes as it made a second stop on the Wirral side.
We got off and headed straight for the cafe to try and warm up, and then we spent an interesting half hour looking around a museum that contained a real German U boat.
Back on board an hour later we were pleased to see that this ferry was much quieter, and that it was the Dazzle Ferry.
This ferry, called Snowdrop, is a moving artwork that shows how ships were painted in the second world war to confuse the U boats. Apparently the brightly coloured geometric designs confused the eye and made it difficult to work our how close, how big or even in what direction the ship was heading.
However, we knew that the Dazzle Ferry was heading for Liverpool, and that if we got off it would mean spending an hour in the pouring rain and cold having a miserable time. We looked at the view of the seafront and the Liver Building and sensibly decided to stay on board, and instead listened to the commentary and Gerry and the Pacemakers singing their famous song.
Mysteriously, by the time we got back to The Wirral the rain was already subsiding, and back at the campsite we are enjoying a beautiful sunny evening.

Saturday 21 May 2016


It's been a week since we spent a dodgy night on the Belfast docks and I haven't done a single blog in that time. We have had a traumatic few days, but this really isn't good enough.
We now know that nothing is going to be normal for the rest of this year, but the least I can do is put a brave face on, breathe deeply and carry on.
So here I am cuddling a giant sealion on the waterfront in Belfast.
We went on an outing and followed various signposts towards an art trail, a Titanic trail, a Cathedral quarter trail and who knows what else.
Probably the most famous thing about Belfast is that the Titanic was built in the docks here.  She was launched on the 10th April 1912 and sunk only five days later by an iceberg.  There is a huge museum dedicated to all things Titanic, see middle of picture two, although we didn't get round to visiting.
We did manage to spend some time in a trendy white loft style coffee bar in the Cathedral Quarter. It had a book of poetry by local poets on each table. I don't think that I have ever really read any poetry in my life before, but the author was also a part time dentist and I particularly enjoyed a surprising poem about her patients and their teething problems. I read portions of it out loud to Daz, and then our waitress brought us free pieces of ginger and lemon drizzle cake. No idea why she did this, but it was very nice of her, probably didn't do our own teeth much good though.
We also saw the giant Harland and Wolf cranes, called Samson and Goliath and a large ceramic fish.

Sunday 15 May 2016

Final day in the Isle of Man

Last night we parked at the end of the seafront in Douglas, the capital of the Isle of Man. We awoke this morning to a beautiful view of the seafront and Daz went for a 5k run to the harbour and back.
Right behind us was the tram station with both horse drawn and electric versions,and the cute horses trotted loudly past our van. We bought tickets to the top of the Snaefell mountain on the electric tram.
It was a lovely journey along the coast and then up to the highest point on the island. On a clear day it is possible to see England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from the top, but although it was sunny, the haze stopped us from seeing any of them.
After that we caught the tram down to Laxey seafront where I ate the biggest portion of bread and butter pudding in the world.
We rounded the day off with a trip round Douglas town including a view of the castle in the bay, and then caught the late ferry to Belfast.
We didn't arrive until 2am as the ship's landing gear broke so we couldn't get off until it was mended. Not sure as to what to do at such a late hour, we managed to find a car park on the docks where we spent the night.

Friday 13 May 2016

Laxey waterwheel

I have just re-read my TT blog and realised that you probably thought that we were still in Malta!
Sorry, I should have said that we left Malta last Saturday, then on Tuesday we got in our campervan and drove through the rain to Liverpool. From there we caught a ferry to Douglas on the Isle of Man, and have been exploring it since then.
Sizewise, Malta and the Isle of Man are pretty similar, and the Isle of Man is about 31miles long and 13 wide. Surprisingly, the temperature has also been similar on both islands, as Malta was unseasonally cold and Douglas rather warm.
Today we visited the Laxey Waterwheel to see the world's largest working waterwheel. She is called the Lady Isabella and is absolutely gorgeous.
She was built to extract water from the local zinc mines, although these closed in 1929. The wheel is enormous and we climbed to the top of the structure to see the beautiful views from the top.

Cycling the Isle of Man TT course

'Experience the thrill of the challenging 37 and three quarter mile mountain course packed full of famous turns.' said the guidebook.
Unfortunately, we didn't have access to a motorbike, so we went for it on our bicycles.
We set off from the little seaside town of Ramsey and then straight up the Hairpin, climbing for six miles up the Mountain Road.
Once at the top there was beautiful views all around us and an incredibly strong tailwind that blew us all the way to Douglas. It was one of my best rides ever as we freewheeled down the smooth tarmaced road reaching speeds of nearly 38 miles per hour.
It felt really fast and dangerous, but was put into perspective when we reached the official start line and saw a big poster that said that the motorbikers reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.
We carried on round the route and soon met up with the wind again, this time straight into our faces making the return section really hard work.
We also didn't find any coffee stops so took a couple of breaks in bus shelters to eat our emergency rations of sultanas, chocolate and shortbread. I also discovered that if you shove everything in your mouth at once it makes a delicious gourmet style treat.
We made it back home in three hours.

Friday 6 May 2016

Valetta Harbour

My travelling companions have very different ideas on what to wear on a pleasure cruise around Valetta Harbour. I am firmly with my mother in law on this one, but I haven't included a shot of me wrapped up in a flowery blanket - although a fellow cruiser is modelling an identical one in the background of pic two.
It was definitely very nippy in the wind, but I then encountered another unexpected problem. We were sat on the left hand side of the boat, but the captain only mentioned the sights on view on the right hand side.
After about 30 frustrating minutes I went over to ask him if he could include anything for us to see. Big mistake!!!
He got very annoyed and said that it was a right handed cruise, so everything was on the right of the boat. He even said that under maritime law he couldn't mention the left hand view, as there was the worry that if he did people would rush across to look and the boat might tip over.
Fortunately we didn't capsize and we enjoyed the beautiful views, although not in sync with the commentary.

Thursday 5 May 2016

Gozo and Comino

Recently Darren's mum celebrated a special birthday, so we have come away with her for a few days. We are staying on the island of Malta in a very nice hotel.
After a couple of days of gale force winds the weather has calmed down and today we went out on a boat trip to the nearby islands of Gozo and Comino.
First stop was the beautiful Blue Lagoon on Comino. We had never heard of this tiny island, and it only has four full time residents. It also has one hotel and an incredibly sheltered lagoon.
I spent my time sitting on the rocks enjoying the view, while Darren and his mum went on a speed boat trip with Crazy Tony and his four dogs.
After all of the excitement we crossed over to Gozo which has a population of 29,996 more than Comino. It is known for its amazing churches and they tower over every other building on the island.
Our final stop was a rock known as the blue window, which is quite really self explanatory.