Seasons greetings from ManVanNoPlan

Hi all,

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours when it comes. We are in Belfast just now to enjoy and share in Eilidh’s first Christmas.

I thought it was about time to update you on what we have been up to this Autumn and our plans for a three month trip in 2019, but more of that later.

Since the last blog post at the end of the Tour de France trip we have been fairly busy which has prevented getting away in Bessie too often. First task after returning from France was to turn the blog posts into a Kindle eBook with loads more motorhome specific tips and tricks for taking your van to see this amazing spectacle. You can read it for FREE with KindleUnlimited or buy for only £1.99 HERE.

Image posed by a model – NOT The Navigator – couldn’t afford her!

Once that was out of the way it was time to tackle the back garden so that we could go away for extended periods in the future knowing that we would not come back to a jungle. It took almost a fortnight of hard work by a landscaper to rework it, cut down trees, put in new drains, build a retaining wall and lay down pebbles on top of a membrane cover to stop weeds appearing. Delighted with the work – I could never have done it myself, however there are still a few things to finish off when it stops raining around April next year!

At the same time this was happening Eilidh, our granddaughter visited us for the first time and it was great to have all the family here again for the week.

Eilidh’s first picnic near Skipness with Arran in the background…
It may not be that long until this is a reality…

When we visit The Navigator’s mother we often take the van to make a weekend of it and this we did one weekend in September and had three nights away. The first night was spent in Alva at the foot of the Ochil Hills.

Alva wildcamping…

From there, after the visit on the Saturday morning, we headed for Perth, a place we had not visited in years and had a good day there exploring the ‘Fair City,’ known as that since the publication of the story Fair Maid of Perth by Sir Walter Scott in 1828. I had read online somewhere that you could park overnight on the Broxden Park & Ride for free so that is where we ended up. There are two dedicated motorhome parking bays as you can see in the next picture and they are on a slope, but for one free night, it was acceptable.

Perth Broxden Park & Ride

I had also read online that it was £1.50 each, each way by shuttle bus into Perth but it must have been a youngster who posted that as we were able to use our bus passes for free – bit of a free theme to this weekend!

The River Tay in Perth…

But, just in case I am accused of being a skinflint, I can happily report that I lashed out on a slap-up lunch for The Navigator. A steak slice and tomato soup meal deal went down a treat from those purveyors of haute cuisine, Greggs! The weather was kind and we enjoyed the afternoon re-acquainting ourselves with Perth.

Perth…
Perth…

After a quiet night on the Park & Ride and a quick visit to Lidl we headed off along the A85 towards Loch Earn and we stopped for lunch at St Fillans.

Loch Earn at St Fillans…

After a quick visit to The Navigator’s niece and family nearby we headed up the A85 through Crianlarich, Tyndrum and Dalmally before taking A819 towards Inveraray and we stopped for the night in a large lay-by we had stayed in before.

Between Dalmally and Inveraray…

You can just about see a sliver of water in the distance behind Bessie and that is Loch Awe. That was a good weekend, three free overnights, a few family visits and a good day out in Perth.

A few weeks later we were off again, for a week this time for more  visiting plus some time in Edinburgh as I had an appointment at the Lord Lyon’s office to check a few last minute facts for my new book. More on that in a minute.

Long term readers of this blog may remember that The Navigator’s cousin died when we were in Spain last year and were unable to attend his funeral, so, one of the visits we made was to his widow in Dunbar who was bearing up stoically under the circumstances. We have stayed by the harbour at Dunbar before but this time we stayed over on the Park & Ride car park at Newcraighall, near to Portobello and Musselburgh. We had the company of one other van all the way from Spain and they were making use of the train stop which takes you into Waverley Station in the heart of Edinburgh. You can see a train at the station here in the following picture just behind Bessie, but there is a bus stop near the entrance to the Park & Ride which takes you into Edinburgh if you prefer the bus – or have a bus pass!

Newcraighall Park & Ride

After a quiet Saturday night here we headed through to Dunbar and had a good walkabout at the harbour and main street before our visit.

Dunbar Harbour entrance…
Dunbar Harbour with a paddle board class in progress…

We then went through to the Caravan & Motorhome Club site down at Siverknowes in Edinburgh where we stayed for three nights at great cost, well, twenty odd pounds a night and when you are not used to paying anything it seems a bit steep. The one thing you can’t fault with the Club sites are the spotlessly clean, warm facilities and that was the case here. It was fairly stormy but the van was well sheltered behind some high hedges.

I mentioned earlier that I was visiting the Lord Lyon’s office on the Monday morning to check on some facts for my new book which has been ten years in the writing. No, I’m not a slow writer – it just took a long time gathering the facts and arranging them into a coherent story. It is now published on Amazon in either e book or paperback formats  and I commend it as a worthy stocking-filler to those who enjoy biographies.

STOP PRESS – As a seasonal offer, the eBook is half price for a week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve so you can get a 323 page historical biography for ONLY £1.99. This LINK takes you to the Amazon Kindle page if you are so inclined! The paperback is £9.99 but due to the high print costs and Amazon’s cut, it unfortunately can’t be included in the half price offer, but is still great value, although I say it myself!

After spending the day in Edinburgh with a slap-up lunch at Cosmo, the all-you-can-eat buffet at the top of Leith Walk beside the Omni centre – highly recommended – we continued with our visiting before heading to see The Navigator’s mother on her 93rd birthday. She was in good form and is going strong and being well looked after. The following is a picture from back in August on the occasion when Eilidh met her great grandmother for the first time, making this a four generation picture.

Four generations…

The next trip out for Bessie was to take it down to the dealers for a week’s worth of warranty work to remedy some faults that I was not that happy with – nothing major – but they needed fixing before we set off on our next big adventure! This following video clip was shot from the dashcam after I had passed through Inveraray and was coasting towards the traffic lights which I could see were at red. Luckily I had slowed down before this happened…

Almost…

I posted this clip on a Scottish Motorhome page and the drivers’s daughter saw it and got in touch. Apparently the couple were returning from two years in France and he lost concentration on the single track bridge then resumed driving on the right! After this I carried on with the usual overnight stop at Carlisle to break the journey before heading for Lowdhams near Nottingham to stay on their premises and handing it over to them at 8am on the Monday morning. They ran me to Lowdham station for a train to Newark then a change of stations to get a mainline train to Edinburgh then another change to Glasgow where I had a bite to eat with The Navigator who had been in Glasgow for the afternoon. Suitably nourished it was then a two and a half hour bus journey home to get in at 9.30pm – a long day!

We, as in The Navigator came too, went for Bessie the following Monday reversing the journey of the week before. We had a nice lunch in Newark and although it was a quiet Monday it reminded us of the trips we had here when we lived in the East Midlands.

Newark Market Square
Newark Castle

We inspected all the repairs and everything was completed to our satisfaction so we spent the night at Lowdhams before setting off in the morning. I had a notion to visit York but we arrived later than anticipated at the Park & Ride so had lunch at the Designer Outlet and headed cross country to Hawes, another favourite place of ours. The journey was really lovely driving through the Yorkshire countryside and we arrived just as it was getting dark.

Hawes Caravan & Motorhome Club Site

Hawes is a typical Yorkshire hill town with old buildings and some really good individual shops but we couldn’t linger as we had to get up to Scotland and get our monthly shopping, visit The Navigator’s mother again, and head for the rain soaked hills again on the Thursday. On the way we stopped at another favourite little town, Moffat where we had lunch and raided the Moffat Toffee Shop, one of those sweetie shops that has every confection available in a jar including all the sweets you remember from your childhood. A must stopover and just a mile off the A74(M).

Moffat

Back home on the Friday, Bessie was washed had a few minor improvements to the inside then filled with LPG ready for our next trip, which is, depending on when you read this – not long away. New Year’s Eve in fact!

We are heading off for three months and the ultimate destination will be El Campello, near Alicante, where we spent last Christmas and New Year in the middle of our six month trip. This time we are taking root for 60 nights to get the 10Euro a night rate with two weeks to get there through France on a route we have never taken before with a couple of big highlights along the way. Make sure you are subscribed to get the new blogs as they are posted.

The plan is to come back through central Spain, again on a route we have never been on before. However, the two weeks before and after El Campello are weather dependent and we may have to alter the plans too avoid snow etc. Hopefully the sunshine of El Campello will provide more moments like this…

Eating outdoors in December...
Eating outdoors in December 2017 at El Campello…

Before that however we are off to Belfast to spend the Festive period with our family including being with Eilidh for her first Christmas. She has already met a rather authentic looking Santa…

and has been out and about in the Christmas Pudding hat Granny knitted her…

So that’s you up to date again.

This blog is being posted on Christmas Day and we hope you are all having a lovely day. The next blog will probably be in mid January once we are settled into life at El Campello…


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One thought on “Seasons greetings from ManVanNoPlan

  • 25th December 2018 at 9:42 pm
    Permalink

    What a lovely surprise at the end of Christmas day to find your blog another Christmas present to
    enjoy whichI have just done. Best of all to see a picture of Eilidh enjoying her first Christmas with
    you both. I am sure you will have had a lovely day with the family. Now look forward to the next
    blog in Mid January. All the best for 2019.

    Reply

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