Sunday 28 May 2023

Heading north then west

Our trip is certainly even less than a once over lightly of the areas we are traversing. There are others who travel and record far more comprehensively than we do: Ian and Irene, Bernice and Roy Vannini, Robin and Jenny Benton. For better descriptive detail and more comprehensive info, please check out their blogs: Free Spirit, The Vanninis' Manoeuvres, and Romany Rambler.

Whitby Abbey was pretty stunning. You can read about it here.

MB almost dwarfing the abbey - yeah right ...

Stick firmly in hand 😏
You can still see the intricacy of the stone work even after all the weathering of the last 5 centuries.

Whitby Bay
Now that looks spooky ...


That night, after a day of heading towards the west, we stayed at a Britstop site - in the carpark behind the Dyvels Inn at Corbridge. Once we had parked up in the far corner of the pub carpark, we had a walk around before dinner.

One of those lovely bridges with angled pieces originally for pedestrians to get out of the way of coaches, I think.
I was impressed that, even though the stones underneath had been removed, the top of the wall remained intact!

In the dining room of the pub was this photo
And beside it was this 👍👏💚

Custard must not be wasted! We had shared a piece of ginger cake with the custard served in a jug - I could not possibly leave any custard in it!

Housesteads is a Roman fort built straddling Hadrian's Wall. You can read about it here When we lived in Church Enstone we made a couple of visits to Chedworth, the site of a Roman villa. Some of the information was common to both sites, but the fort was far more extensive. Definitely worth a visit.

It's about half a mile from the parking area. We had fortified ourselves with breakfast in the cafe first. David had soup, I had a scone with raspberry jam and clotted cream. We got a cauliflower and chickpea pasty for later. David said the soup was the best 'not made at home' he'd ever had. High praise indeed!

Northumbria has beautiful expansive views

The fort's well

Who are these people? They keep showing up!

Hadrian's Wall stretching into the distance from the north east corner of the fort. This is not the full height of the wall - apparently both the fort and the wall had stone blocks removed for local building - stone walls, buildings etc.

An outer wall of the fort. It was built on a fairly substantial slope, and had expansive views - the full 360 deg.

I was interested that the pillars at the fort appeared to be built of large cylinders of stone whereas those at Whitby Abbey were of smaller circular blocks - different stone, different geological areas.

Pediments in situ


Overall the Housesteads Roman Fort is a very impressive place to be and it has been really well curated by English Heritage. There were a couple of school groups there at the same time as us, and their guide (dressed as a Roam legionary) impressed them by showing them the latrines - and having them stand on the toilet surrounds without telling them what they were first ... 👍😜

Saturday 27 May 2023

Towards the east coast

Travelling by road in the UK is easier than people think it will be. The network of dual carriage A roads is a real boon and it does appear that they have been sympathetically planted so that you can see the views and it also goes some way  to protecting local residents from the road noise; although probably not far enough, if our experience of the caravan park at Cromwell is anything to go by.

All this is to explain that getting from one place to another that is quite far away is reasonably straightforward. So our journey from Cromwell to Robin Hood's Bay was simple - apart from when the GPS took us through some very narrow roads that it had deemed were shorter/faster than A roads. And of course the descent into the top of the bluff that the main town/village of Robin Hood's Bay sits on - aaarrrggghhh!!! 

Very steep, very narrow, very winding therefore very nerve-wracking given it's a tourist destination with potential for lots of traffic of the big kind: motorhomes, caravans. We were safe from lots of traffic because we are not yet in the high season ...

We found the Middlewood Caravan Park courtesy of said GPS - and then proceeded to faff about finding a site that was level. The first one we were directed to was most unlevel and covered with large gravel which was too skid-inducing to be able to get up on to the levellers. So we moved to a grass site. A good move as it transpired because on the former we would have lost the sun by about 6pm instead of keeping it until it eventually set at about 9.45pm. And we had full sun all day from early morning. Result!

I made a curry for dinner - David says it was from nothing, i.e. I performed magic. But no I didn't. I just used what was available: some of Irene's spices, a can of coconut milk, tomato paste, tomatoes, onion, potatoes, capsicum, peas - whose bag had to be prised carefully off the bottom of the freezer compartment after thawing and refreezing down at Eastaway Manor when the fridge was on gas in the sunshine ... Still and all it was yummy with enough left over for David's dinner the next night (I had breakfast for dinner instead...)

After brunch (beans and egg on toast plus a very naughty but yummy slice of bacon for me) the next morning we set off to walk to the beach. 

Out through the back of the caravan site and then along a former railway track, out to the road and then along to the steep bit.

Bucolic scene, two of these are small draft horses.
Business owners and rich people's houses at the top of the hill.
The North Sea!!


The south part of the bay from the end of the old rail track walk

It was the quintessential village at the bottom of the cliff - all the workers' tiny cottages cheek by jowl down the hill and the business owners in spacious homes up the top on the flat. Robin Hood's Bay was a fishing village and a smugglers' haven.

Approaching the end of the upper level of the village - David still has his stick...

If we thought the road to the campsite was steep and narrow, this revised our opinion. I could have got the motorhome down and I could have turned around at the bottom (3 point turn) but why!

At the top of the steep descent
If the buildings aren't connected, there are ginnels between them, and all buildings are built on the slope. Steps and the street are available for walking - I found the slope easier both down and up.

A gargoyle above a garage door - nowhere near wide enough for a car, but probably fitted a cart years ago.

Low tide at the beach which definitely doesn't look like a beach. But the icecream van is there...


A superfluity of photos of David and me follows...

David had finished his icecream - did he have his stick in hand?

Apparently the tide covers all of this right up to where David and I were standing for the photos.

Cliff erosion is a real thing here - although we had thought it wouldn't be for some reason. The walls here are being reconstructed and reinforced. Where David is standing is within 5 feet of the back of a house.

Part of the reconstruction zone. I wonder how the diggers get off the beach as the tide comes in? Do they come along to the bottom of the street, or is there a specially created digger path up the cliff higher up the hill?

He didn't have 50p to move the binoculars. Does he have his stick?

On the way back, we explored an alternative path off the rail track. It took us into the village, so we decided to find the shop - it's through this ford and up the hill. Cool little shop where we bought what Marta and Olek tell us are the best brand of ready made pizza - strictly by accident of course ...

Now it is a tourist destination and well worth a visit and an explore. Many people stay a week there in B&Bs or holiday cottages. A few pubs to visit and quite a lot of interesting history and sights close by: walking, biking, driving.

However we have decided we are very poor tourists so a week would be 5 days too long for us. 

But we did want to see Whitby Abbey, so as we left Robin Hood's Bay, that's where we headed - with a slight detour back closer to RHB town so David could go and see if he could find the walking pole that he left behind somewhere the day before...

Success - he'd left it in the shop where he'd surreptitiously gone to pay for a sweatshirt that I bought. So the on line purchase of another matching pair the evening before was accomplished but unnecessary ...😆😜

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Scones and boating friends

 We called in to Debdale and stayed overnight on the boat so we could collect the things we needed to take up to Scotland for Marta and the boys.

While we had been away Wal, on the Debdale team, had unblocked the outlet pipe on the pump out toilet tank, and refitted the hose that fed the toilet flush system - it had been removed over the last couple of years to limit the frequency of pump outs. Wal informed us that the blockage was easy to sort. I take some credit for that because I poured hot water and toilet blue down the pipe - that helped soften the paper blocking it... TMI, I know, but it does pay to keep yourselves informed, OK?

Because the team are so helpful, I made cheese scones in the morning and took them over at morning tea time. I could only make a 3 cup of cheese mix as that was all the cheese we had left! But fear not, there were enough for David and me to have scones for a late brekkie. 👍👍

One of the things we are taking to Scotland is a large suitcase with Marta's photos in it. We brought them over from NZ with us as they have been in our keeping since Tim, Marta and the boys left for the UK back in 2011. Now we have moved into the villa at Parkwood, there just isn't space for them.

The suitcase is wedged between the seats/beds in the motorhome and we are pretty good at stepping over it to get to the cab. I also use it as a table for my cups of tea in the morning.

We have a big bag of the boys toys that have been left on board, some when we were here between 2014 and 2019, and some while Tim was living on board.

And I have 3 pots, each with a rose cutting, taken from our Caitlin's memorial rose at Rata Street and carefully nurtured by Shona, packed with Clinton's help and transported across the world. The three pots are wedged in a bucket and have taken up residence in the shower cubicle for travelling northwards.

Looking very healthy!

Once again, we packed in sunshine and as we got into the motorhome, it started to rain. The forecast had said thundery showers, but they certainly weren't that at Debdale at that point. However as we approached Market Harborough it had clearly been hosing down.

A first stop was at Waitrose  (I parked the motorhome in the Sainsbury/Homebase carpark as there is more space for manoeuvering in there... I had forgotten that one is meant to Pay and Display though. So it added insult to injury that I parked but didn't shop there and that I didn't pay - how crass!

The second stop was in Titchmarsh - we were heading off to stay overnight outside Jan and David's place. They are former boating friends who we met on the K&A back in 2002, I think. We first saw them when we were stopped (not moored) waiting for Melita and Mark to join us at a non-existent wharf mooring... We came across them the following night at the pub in Wootton where we both were having dinner. There was a couple of NZers there from whom we were pleased to escape and distance ourselves from - they were on a crop circle investigation trip and were absolutely sure crop circles were the work of aliens ... So we gladly stopped by David and Jan's table and joined them in conversation. We went back to their boat for hot chocolate (not coffee) and the friendship was born.

When we bought Waka Huia, Jan and David came with us for the first few days to help us as nervous new owners. Experienced with hire boats we may have been, but owned boats are more complex and less intuitive. For example, this boat has 12v, 24v and 240v. Most of the hire boats we were on had one cigarette lighter plug for a shaver and we were growled at once for charging a phone with the socket. The laptop had to be charged at pubs - how things have changed...

So a catch up with D&J was overdue, and it was fun. We had dinner at their local, the Wheatsheaf. Yummy food. Lots of laughter. 


Before we went for dinner - they haven't changed a bit!

On our way back from dinner - sunset over the church. We have fond memories of attending the church fete there one June with the flying teddy bears parachuting down from the tower ...

We had breakfast together in the morning, David filled our water tank and I washed the windscreen - lots of kamikazed insects which I am sure have superglue innards - the little buggers stick fast once they've splatted...

Then we were off. We needed to find a place to swap a gas bottle as the previous day, one of the bottles had been emptied. Jan suggested Oundle Marina which was nearby. I phoned, they had a 6kg bottle in stock, so off we went.

And it was a chandlers, so of course we bought other things we were in need of on the boat:

  • a 15 metre centre rope
  • a stool for me to stand on for steering and to assist me in hoisting myself on to the stern structure so I don't have to stand all the time
  • 3 buffers - ours seem to have done a disappearing trick...
  • a life jacket for me - one without back straps because I find them dangerous. Each time I have worn one, the straps catch on the tiller. To me that seems more dangerous than not wearing one at all.

We were happy shoppers and I think the chandlery owner was probably happy too!

Then we were off to visit Laughing John at his mooring at Tansor. He met us at the gate and led us down to his daughter's lovely piece of land on the river, where she and her partner live on their boat and John lives on his. The dogs, the ducks and the chooks and the housing for them all, plus a couple of sheds and woods complete an idyllic setting.

It was so cool to see John again - we've had a couple of convoy/flotilla trips with him and Mick and Julia. He is always great company and a very appreciative eater of ciabatta...

Lovely to meet his daughter Elena too. She is under instruction to keep giving him a hard time. She assured me she would do so with great pleasure... Lucky John!


Elena and Lloyd's liveaboard boat - no engine so it goes nowhere. Apparently the licence is much cheaper without the means of travel!



Guess which one is Laughing John ...

One of Elena's very cute chickens

Nelson - thinks he's in charge apparently ...

When we left them we decided we wouldn't travel far, just enough to get us on our way north east on the A1. We got to near Newark, stopped for diesel (Have I told you how expensive it is here? Between £1.45 and £1.55 a litre!! No complaining about the prices in NZ, please, NZers) and decided we would find a nearby spot to stay overnight even though it wasn't late. 

David is cunningly using a combination of the OS maps which show campsites and the campsite apps. He found one in Cromwell and phoned them to book a site. The place was fine but quite noisy with the A1 quite close... But it didn't matter. With the windows closed we could hardly hear it, but we weren't up for sitting outside like many others were. It reminded me a bit of fishermen who sit just 50 metres away from the M1 on a length of the canal near Buckby - I wear earplugs travelling that section, as well as the section alongside the A38... Different expectations about a peaceful environment, I guess.

David had discovered that there was a takeaway curry place not far from the site, so he went off to buy his dinner (half dhal and half saag and paneer - paneer, he doesn't eat paneer! Oh yes he does, now! I am thrilled with the additions to our diet since we arrived! Aubergine, zucchini, paneer ...). I had breakfast for dinner: fruit (plums, strawberries, blueberries) with yoghurt and a nut mix.

Then an early night - again! It's become a habit!