We nearly didn’t make it to Bala at the beginning of May.
It had been booked for a while, but I had the world’s worst toothache and was on antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and painkillers.
We should have gone Friday morning, but by the Friday afternoon I decided that the pills were starting to work and it would be a shame to lose a day if I woke up the following morning and felt like going.
So we packed the car and headed off at about 3pm, arriving at our destination at about 6pm – we didn’t do too badly at all, traffic-wise.
The site we’d chosen was another from the Camping & Caravanning Club. We only joined this year and are making sure we get our money’s-worth. We were lucky, though. The Bala site is beautiful and one we’ll definitely go back to.
When we arrived, the site personnel fell instantly in love with the dog, and good old Rufus netted us a different pitch as a result – a nice big corner pitch away from the main site buildings.
Our first night was freezing cold. They’d had several snow showers during the day and there was more during the night.
Fortunately, we’d booked an electric hook-up this time and had a fan heater with us. We also had the gas fire as back-up – and we definitely needed it.
For our first day we had an orientation drive around Bala, where we stopped for lunch and to buy provisions.
I was in the sandwich shop, placing my order, explaining how I couldn’t really manage a “doorstep” of bread, when the abscess I was suffering from burst. I hoped I didn’t start dribbling …
We also drove to Lake Vyrnwy, but we didn’t stop, other than to take photographs. The weather had improved, but was still a little overcast and cool.
On the Sunday we headed north to Llandudno. It’s usually so peaceful and pretty there, we were very surprised when we arrived to see they were having their busiest day of the year! A transport festival was there, and we struggled to park. In the end we went to a B&Q where we bought 2 mats for the tent to qualify us for 2 hours parking!
We had sausage baps and chips for lunch, and ice creams.
On Bank Holiday Monday we headed west, to Barmouth. We didn’t stay, but we did enjoy the drive as we passed through Harlech and the surrounding countryside. It was so beautiful there we’ve pretty much decided to see if we can find a campsite there, if we can, next time.
What we were looking for in the Barmouth area (before going up to Harlech) was RSPB Mawddach. We didn’t find the RSPB place, but we did find the Mawddach Trail, which I think was on the other side of the estuary.
As I’d thought we were going birdwatching, I admit to feeling just a tad disappointed that we didn’t see many, if any, birds. Although, to be fair, we did see shellducks. However, if we’d managed to find the right place, then I might have been much less disappointed!
The weather had warmed up nicely, and we were actually starting to feel comfortable. We’re hoping that next time we go camping we might not need the gas fire.
The next day was glorious, apart from the one time we needed it to be dry while we folded and packed the tent. Then there were the day’s only 2 showers! But we got everything packed away and headed back home.
Within hours of getting back, the poet booked our next one … for the late May bank holiday weekend, in Eskdale …
One of my daily chores, every weekday, is “daily competitions”. I do them as part of a daily warm-up, instead of playing games or scrolling through Facebook. I’ve won a few things – money, DVDs, tickets, goodie bags, etc – and back in April (yes, I’m still catching up), I won 2 tickets to see the Harlem Globetrotters in Sheffield.
I’ve seen the Harlem Globetrotters before, over 20 years ago, but I can’t remember who I went with (the Globetrotters were clearly more memorable than my companion). The poet’s never seen them before, so he was definitely up for it. And I just love them – I used to watch the cartoon when I was a kid.
We started off at a KFC, which I didn’t really enjoy because the meat was a bit tough (I did mention it to the staff, politely). And then we carried on to the arena, where we were stung for parking – about £7, but as the tickets were free, we didn’t complain too loudly.
It was very much a family show with lots of kids there, excited to see their favourite players.
Some of the fun and games have changed – for example, they don’t sing “We know where you’re going!” when someone’s on their way to the toilet, and they no longer empty the contents of a woman’s handbag onto the floor (or they didn’t in Sheffield in April).
Instead they make a fuss about their sole female player and they have a few mascots who come on and dance and clown around. They also hand out a few gifts and let members of the audience join in with some of the game.
We enjoyed the evening, it was in 4 easy-to-digest bursts, with lots of entertainment, funniness and, of course, a game of basketball (the Globetrotters won, surprisingly …), and with an early finish. We were back home by about 9:30pm.
Because I’ve been so lax with the blog posts just lately, you’re getting a bit of a double whammy this time. Nothing huge, though. We weren’t at either place for very long and it wasn’t really photographing weather.
Back on 8 April, we ventured back to Bempton Cliffs because we’d heard the puffins had arrived. We didn’t plan to spend too long. The poet wanted to try and take some pictures through his spotting scope, but it was so windy the tripod simply wasn’t substantial enough to support the extra weight of the camera.
We didn’t really see many puffins either. We saw 4 in flight, 1 on the water, and 2 in a cliff cave – but they kept bobbing in and out of view.
Meanwhile, a few days later, he picked himself up a right little bargain as he walked through the market. He saw a sturdy tripod on one of the second-hand stalls, and he told himself if it cost 20 quid, he’d buy it …
Well, it was £2! So he snapped it up and was delighted to see that it even came with a box.
So now we can go back again as soon as the weather is right and we have the time …
… possibly this weekend, actually, thinking about it (though if he reads this before I mention it, it may be a bit of a surprise to him).
A couple of weeks later, on 17 April, we paid a visit to Langold Lake, one of the poet’s old fishing haunts when he was a kid.
He was surprised to see that it had been given “country park” status, but it was much as he remembered it – apart from the diving boards on the lake no longer being there (health & safety, we presume).
He enjoyed the trip down memory land and was proud to show me the spot where he caught his first fish there, and told me how he had to go to the pay phone down the road to ring his dad and ask him to come and take a picture of him with said fish.
(I think it was the first fish he caught there, not the first fish he ever caught, but I daresay he’ll happily correct me later.)
He pointed out where he used to jump in the lake and swim … and I pointed out the dead, diseased fish floating in the reeds … not very healthy water. No wonder they took the boards down.
And finally, before we left, we enjoyed an ice cream beside the lake. It was a bit cool and blustery, but we were able to warm up in the car.
No MapMyWalk this time – we forgot to set it at Bempton, and only remembered at Langold halfway around.
Short and sweet!
We’ve been having a bit of a roller-coaster of a ride for the past 2 or 3 months, but finally I feel able to share at least some of what’s been happening.
Aside from a few family things, the poet has been looking for a new job since early March and this has taken up quite a lot of our spare time.
At almost the same time we received notice on our lovely house due to the owner wanting to sell – and we didn’t want to buy (it needs too much doing to it but is listed, so that restricts what you can actually do …). But that meant even more precious time was taken up house-hunting.
Admittedly, where we live does depend a lot on where the poet works, which is why we’re currently renting. But we could have done without it at this time. It would have been much nicer if it happened once he was settled.
During this time, we did manage 2 short camping trips and we still went on a couple of walks, including another to Bempton Cliffs to see the puffins (we saw 4, so will be going again just as soon as we can).
Some good news, though … tomorrow (Wednesday) the poet starts his new job, and today we went in and applied for what will hopefully be our next home. It looks like we’ll be exchanging cows for peacocks, ducks and sheep. And, of course, we have another camping trip booked for the late May bank holiday weekend.
So hopefully, all the planets are aligning again and things will start to settle again. We want to run the 2 properties in tandem so that the next house is as ready as we can make it before we officially move in. And as that house is bigger than this house, that means new furniture to buy!
It’s been a long while since I had chance to update anything on the blog, and I have a little bit of catching up to do. So I’m going to start with our very brief sojourn into Kingsbury at Easter, when we tried out our lovely new blow-up tent.
We were going to buy a trailer tent, and that’s what we were researching when we saw our first blow-up tent … and we were smitten, and the poet didn’t want anything else. So we started to save up and we bought a Vango Airbeam Capri 500XL.
Easter was our first chance to try it out and with things going on back home in Birmingham and us wanting to be not too far away, we decided to go along to the Camping & Caravanning Club site at Kingsbury Water Park in the Midlands. We’d discovered the site on a walk here earlier in the year, and decided it was so lovely, it was as good a place as any to start. And while we were there, we joined.
We arrived quite late on the Friday afternoon (Good Friday), having dropped off on the way to visit the poet’s parents in Doncaster. So we let my dad know we’d arrived and we took advantage of a chip wagon that visited the site at 6pm … I don’t know, our first camp of the year and we had fish and chips for tea on the very first night!
The tent comes with its own pump, which has “inflate” and “deflate” valves on. Because it inflates/deflates all the time, whether you pull the pump up or push it down, the tent was up in no time. The poet used it on our deluxe model double air-bed too. It was harder work but did the job nicely.
The first night we were absolutely frozen. Bad weather had been forecast for the entire weekend, along with very high winds. In fact, the day before we travelled, my dad rang up and asked if we really wanted to do it this particular weekend. But we knew that if we didn’t, then the first time would have to be another time anyway.
The next day we went to visit my parents, and my dad came back to see the new tent. He loved it and wished he could still do it. After we dropped Dad off home again, we headed back to the site via our new favourite shop – Go Outdoors. I’d located a branch on the Kingsbury Road, so it was ideal for us.
There we bought some gas canisters and a gas fire, which operates on just one canister at a time. These canisters click in really easily and are nothing like the old gas bottles you had to fiddle with when I was a kid. We also bought a brand new pantry as the table we’ve had for a while was getting a bit cluttered.
Saturday night was considerably warmer, but only because (a) the wind had dropped temporarily, and (b) we left our thermals on. But more bad weather was on its way, and we’d even heard a whisper of snow.
Sunday morning dawned a little brighter than previously, and we managed to fit in a short walk to the water park. We’d already seen most of it on our previous walk, but we wanted to go back to the hides, see the birds, use the poet’s spotting scope and take a few more pictures.
It looks nice and sunny, but that white sky reveals how cold it really was.
The walk to the bird hides goes along the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, so the poet took a few more pictures there, including the one above that was used for the new cover of Twee Tales.
With snow forecast, though, we decided to de-camp a day early and head home. We’d had a great time and could hardly wait until the next …
I’ve been a bit absent without leave just lately, mostly because we’ve been very, very busy (as ever), but also because we haven’t really done a lot in recent weeks. We’ve not managed any long walks. We’ve not manage many days out. And we’ve not had much chance to do much around the house.
We have been on a few short days out, though, including a short walk at Bempton Cliffs to see the puffins (we saw about 4 but the tripod wasn’t really stable enough to take pictures through the spotting scope), and a short walk around a local lake that has been recently renamed a county park – something the poet found amusing, as he remembers what it was like when he was a kid. While at Bempton we joined the RSPB.
Over on Words Worth Writing you can see what I’ve managed to do for work, including the publication of at least 2 new books. And as the new books have slowly been republished, the old books have been taken out of the shops – electronic and hard copy.
I won some tickets to see the Harlem Globetrotters and we’ll be going there in a couple of weeks, so there may be pictures to share. And I’ve been trialling some products that I’m sworn to secrecy about, so I can’t blog about those yet. It’s been interesting, though.
In the office I’ve rebooted Outlook on the computer to keep me on track, help me stick to hour-long work sessions and remind me to take a break from staring at the computer. I’ve also been using the Pomodoro tomato technique again to get me though a few editing jobs.
Rufus celebrated his fifth birthday on Friday, so we had a biscuit hunt. I dropped down into the next stone zone on the scales, and then crept up again – but it’s still hovering around there. And the poet has lost an impressive 22lb, dropping into the next stone zone twice! He’s looking very good.😉
And I think that’s just about all the news I can share at the moment.
What have you been up to?
We’ve not had a lot of time to ourselves for a few weeks and have been dashing all over the place visiting various family members in various places. But I did have a brand new pair of walking boots for my birthday, I did want to at least start to break them in, and we did want to try at least a little walk where we can.
So, not this weekend just gone but last Sunday, we went to Kinver Edge near Stourbridge. Actually, we started off by going to the Lickey Hills Country Park, but couldn’t park in the very busy car park. Then we tried the Clent Hills, but couldn’t find anywhere to park. Then we grabbed a quick lunch and then I took us on a magical mystery tour. And we ended up at the rock houses at Kinver.
I’ve wanted to see these houses ever since I found out they existed, but I’d tried to find them before sat-nav and got hopelessly lost. This time I was able to plug the post code into my mobile phone and just tell the poet which way to drive.
At first we thought we’d struggle to park here too, as the first car park you come to was already packed. But we drove on up the hill a little way and found another, bigger, emptier car park. It seems this was the car park used by regulars and locals too, as there were lots preparing to walk their dogs or coming back from walking their dogs.
The signpost said that the houses were only 500m away, or we could divert upwards towards a viewpoint. As I was dying for the loo, we said we’d visit the houses first, use the facilities, and walk up to the viewpoint after. But we had a perfectly adequate view from the rock houses, so decided in the end not to carry on upwards.
The houses, managed by the National Trust, are on 3 levels. The 1st level has 3 restored houses; the 2nd level is closed to the public; and the 3rd level has the café and toilets plus a couple of caves you can walk inside. There is a piped soundtrack in the bottom houses, and they felt quite cool. Apparently, however, they were supposed to keep cool in the summer but warm in the winter once the fires were lit.
I’ve always wanted to see them ever since my dad mentioned he used to know someone who lived there in the 1930s. The houses were, in fact, lived in right up to the 1960s, but had to be abandoned due to lack of sanitation.
On the footpath back to the car park is a small adventure area and the dog climbed up a stair of logs where the poet could take his picture at the top. They both did very well!😉
The boots held up, didn’t even give a hint of rubbing or pinching, and were very comfortable.
We only walked 1.04 miles this time and only burned 225 calories. But there’s plenty more for visitors to see and do.