Camping: Bala – May Day weekend 2016

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Bala (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

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.

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Lake Bala (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

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.

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Bala (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

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.

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Lake Vyrnwy (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

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.

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Llandudno and Llandudno Lifeboat (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

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!

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Mawddach (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

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 …


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Primroses at Rievaulx (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

It was another heavy weekend.

Much of Friday was spent completing the electronic edits on one client book, sending that back to the author for checking, and invoicing the client (hurrah!). In between, I also managed my first 1-mile dog-walk from the doorstep and back.

Friday teatime was a mad dash. We finished some savoury mince the poet had cooked a couple of days earlier, with a baked potato each, and then it was off to Doncaster for a private party his band were playing at.

On Saturday we did a bit of fishing shopping (he wanted some new line for his reel) and we replaced one of the hosepipes I managed to break while filling the bird bath. I’d pulled it, thinking the hosepipe was unreeled, but it wasn’t and the water supply feed thingy snapped and it was cheaper to replace the whole thing than it was to replace the little gadget-thing that snapped. After my complaint to B&Q a few weeks ago, we were sent a gift card, so we used that to help pay for the new kit.

When we got back, and he’d done what he does with his reel line, Rufus and I showed him the walk we’d been on the previous day. We went a bit further, disturbed a roosting little owl, spotted a kestrel on a fence post, and generally explored just one of our many footpaths cross-country, and we clocked up just under 2 miles. Then it was another dash to have tea and get ready for another gig over in Doncaster. We finally turned in at 3am Sunday morning …

… but had to be up again as we were visiting both lots of parents. First we were back in Doncaster, to see the poet’s parents, then we headed to Birmingham to see my parents, via Morrison’s in Sheldon where we bought them some cakes. We got home at 7:30pm, had a takeaway, watched some telly, and had an early night.

And then it was another new week again. We were both still very tired this morning.

This morning’s pre-breakfast chores included filling and starting the dishwasher, and feeding the pets and the garden birds. I’ve done a little gig list admin (1st job ticked), this blog post will be my 2nd job ticked, then I’m definitely spending a couple of hours on writing work. I’m a bit behind on the wordcount this month so far, mostly due to editing deadlines, but I start another new client book this afternoon, when I’ve done today’s dog-walk.

It’s a full week at work this week, even my replacement hair appointment from 2 weeks ago is after hours. But we do have a totally empty weekend looming, apart from a birthday party we’ll probably show our faces at. I foresee someone keeping half an eye on the weather forecast …

I’ve run out of pictures again. I know there are some on the camera, but the weather was quite bad when those were taken and I’ve not had time to transfer them over to the pc and look at them full-sized. So I’ve nicked one from an earlier jaunt this year, and flipped and cropped it (so it fits nicely). We need a few more jaunts out.

Oh, oh, but one exciting thing is, at the weekend we booked a short camping holiday for later this month. It coincides with the Evesham fishing festival, so we can fit a bit of that in with a bit of sightseeing. That’s a nice little break to look forward to as Evesham is beautiful and we enjoyed the short time we spent at the festival last year.

Another exciting thing is that we spent much of the driving time on Sunday discussing what to do with the garden over the winter. We’re planning a proper little kitchen garden with raised beds and crop rotation and fruit and vegetables and rhubarb patches and everything. But we’re keeping everything quite low-growing so we don’t spoil our gorgeous view. I’d love fruit trees, and I had a right old brain murmur on Friday when I remembered an old eighties novelty, the stepover fruit tree. We can still get those, so they’re being incorporated too.

Because, of course, we’re not already busy enough … 😉


Time management works

Tobermory (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The weekend was hectic.

On Friday I spent much of the day completing electronic edits for a client job. I finished at about 6pm, sent it off, and by 7:45pm he’d paid me. This is excellent. After a busy week, though, I was quite tired, but at least I’d accomplished everything I’d set out to. Or almost everything.

Because I wanted to get that in before the deadline (Saturday), it meant I’d sacrificed my writing time. So first chance on Saturday I caught up a little on that, while the poet continued with a painting he’s started. I don’t often work at the weekends, but this was an exception.

I finally managed an hour of yoga, and B&Q called (for the third time), closing the complaint and offering to send us a gift card.

We also had a mad tidy-up session, which included changing the spare bed and clearing all the clutter from the spare room, as we were off to collect son #1 + g/f at 4pm. On the way home from collecting them, we stopped off at Yo Yo Noodle for tea, which is one of my favourite places but one they’d not even heard of.

When we got home and they’d settled in, we went for a walk up to the lake and back. Then off we went to the Gonzo Comedy Club in Holmfirth. This was our second time, but the first time they’d really been to a comedy show. We had a nice time, but one of the acts had a bit of a stumble from a not-very-well-highlighted step in the darkened room. Our table was right on this step and we’d already struggled to get in on that side. But in the dark, the poor chap didn’t see it, and he fell through the audience, taking 2 drinks with him, before landing heavily on the stage area.

I have to say he rescued the situation very well and turned the crowd right around, but it was at the sacrifice of his usual routine. So now we’d like to see him again to see what he should have done. We were very impressed with his attitude, but the club might like to address that hidden step issue.

By the time we’d got back and had a chat with a few drinks it was very, very late. But son #2 was up bright and early Sunday morning and walking the dog to the Co-op. Rufus, of course, had to shout to everyone that he was going for a walk, but he apparently calmed down by the time they reached the main road. The poet made us all a cooked breakfast, and then we took them home again. It was nice to have them with us and to meet his girlfriend for the first time.

Sunday afternoon we stopped off on the way home to buy a coffee table for the living room (aka an “occasional” table), and then we chilled for the rest of the day, even going to bed very, very early.

This morning I decided on my “one job I want to do today” thing and was at my desk at 9:30am again. First job was gig list work (after first “housework” chores of “empty dishwasher” and “fill washing machine”), and as the gig list didn’t take very long, I was able to start “daily competitions” earlier. Another time management tip I’m adopting is “start the next job as soon as you’ve finished the previous one”, rather than wait until the allocated time.

Then, because I also completed that job relatively early (despite catching up after the weekend), I was able to respond to a client query that came in over the weekend regarding the work I sent back to him on Friday. This was the one job I wanted to complete that wasn’t already on the list. But another was to stick to the list, which I seem to be doing.

My next job started bang on time, at 11am (“blog” 😉 ), and as it’s shorter than I thought it would be, I can see me having a cup of tea at 11:30am before starting the next job, “writing time (2 hours)” – hurrah! Then this afternoon I start the next client job – another 2 hours.

I have to say, the tips I’m reading in GET EVERYTHING DONE by Mark Forster are certainly working. And I’m trying to squeeze in either a whole chapter or at least half of one every day.

Right, there’s another job jobbed early. 😀 I can see I might be revisiting the schedule again once I’ve worked with it for a while.

How was your weekend?

B&Q Update

The CEO office called on Monday and again this morning. The customer service department also emailed yesterday. The CEO office will be calling again on Saturday.

The Cortonwood store that wouldn’t allow the dog, after previously allowing him for the past 4 years, has admitted dogs aren’t allowed but that there are NO signs anywhere that say “guide dogs only”, despite “Sharon” arguing the toss that there *are* signs. I guess she won’t be doing that again in a hurry.

The CEO office has been absolutely brilliant and kept us in touch throughout their investigation.

No wonder they’re closing stores … (*** rant alert ***)

So we had another busy weekend, with a trip planned to Birmingham and to Doncaster on Saturday. On our way we stopped at Tesco for petrol and B&Q for a barbecue and a parasol (our other one has disintegrated) (the parasol not the bbq …).

We were in a bit of a hurry but we couldn’t see anywhere on the parasol the diameter of the pole, and we couldn’t see anywhere on the parasol base any minimum or maximum pole size. So, as you do, we asked.

The person on garden furniture was so busy he really didn’t have time to talk to us, but we insisted – after all, we’re customers. And so he very hurriedly said: “Oh yes, all of those bases are universal.” I also asked if the parasol needed a table with a hole in to hold it up, but he insisted the base would be sufficient.

So, aside from being brushed off very quickly by quite a rude floorperson, we were then tapped on the shoulder and told we couldn’t have the dog in the store and would I kindly leave the premises.

Now then, I’ve been taking Rufus into that store ever since he was a puppy. He used to ride in the trolleys and everyone used to fuss him. Even on Saturday morning, a lot of the staff had fussed him too. And, as it’s a building and garden centre and not a food hall, why would he suddenly be not allowed? There weren’t any signs on the door, which I pointed out to her.

“Oh yes there are,” she argued.

“Erm, I think you’ll find there aren’t,” I replied.

“Oh yes there is,” she insisted. “It clearly says ‘guide dogs only’.”

“Show me,” I smiled.

And when she showed me … and saw that there wasn’t any such sign on the door, she said: “Oh, it must be new policy. We’re having a staff meeting this afternoon, I’ll make sure there’s a sign on the door.”

“Okay,” I said, “but we’re going now anyway,” and we started to head for the tills.

“No,” she said, “you have to go out through this door. I can’t let you walk through the store.

“We’ve been in the store for half an hour,” I pointed out. But she still tried to manhandle me from the store, which – I believe – is assault.

But anyway, off we tootled with our purchases in the car, and we visited the parents. When we got home, the poet assembled the parasol base … and the parasol didn’t fit. So that meant on Sunday morning we had to take time out of one of our very rare days off to take the parasol and base back.

When we got there, I waited in the car with the dog. But the poet checked the door and there were still no “no dogs” signs anywhere. He went to see customer services to return the parasol base, and when the most senior person there “owned” the mistake, saying it was probably she who had told us the base was universal, he disagreed and indicated the person actually responsible.

The person actually responsible (PAR) came over and started to treat the poet in a derogatory manner, saying the bases were all universal and all we had to do was tighten the screw. When the poet pointed out that there was no tightening screw, the PAR argued the toss until the poet said, like me, “Show me.” So off he toddled to get another box, in case the box we had was missing the crucial part, and very arrogantly and patronisingly indeed started to “show him”.

Only there wasn’t one there. Just like we said. His response? To say how rubbish the parasol base manufacturing company was.

The only alternative they could offer the poet was either a more expensive umbrella that would fit the base, or a more expensive base that did, indeed, have the tightening screw we needed. And when he asked who was going to pay for our petrol, time and inconvenience, they did in fact meet him half way on the difference in price.

While the poet was in the queue, there were 3 other customers returning goods to the store that staff had mis-sold them. And while I was in the car with the dog, the dog barked at 2 little Pomeranian terriers waiting outside the store, and THREE LITTLE WEST HIGHLAND TERRIERS (aka DOGS) coming OUT of the store.

We are so disappointed in this store that we very much doubt we’ll ever go back. But you would think that when a store chain is in so much trouble and stores are at risk of closure, they’d try a little harder to stay open and retain loyal customers.

As advised, I’ve written to the CEO of the parent company regarding both of these complaints. I doubt they’ll do anything about it but will let you know.

It’s my understanding that if a dog is not allowed, then there should be a sign up. It’s also my understanding that if dogs are not allowed, then that should include all dogs and not just on the whim of whoever’s in charge that day. If hygiene is a concern, then we’ve seen dirtier children. The company’s slant should be clearly visible to customers. If it was a food establishment, then I wouldn’t take him in anyway. But a building/gardening centre? Ideas above their station, perhaps.

What are your thoughts?