The last few days of the tour

I am sitting in Katy on a lovely sunny day in Hayfield, at the edge of the High Peak as I write this. This is my last day camping, and it has flown so fast. I am having a quiet afternoon after a busy morning sorting, and drying an awning, as yesterday was the first really wet weather of the whole 3 months here in the UK for the summer 2022 tour.

I have written a post on van life in general so this one is just about my beloved Peak District and the glorious views on my walks here. I keep saying I will have to not come back here again, and explore other parts of the UK next year but it is so lovely I might well be back!

Hayfield is where the Kinder Mass trespass started from in April 1932. I mentioned this last summer as my first stop on my 2021 UK tour was at Edale, which is just the other side of the hill. So it is a fitting end to my trip to be here again.

It was that trespass that led to legislation that gives the right to roam over all of these wonderful places and I am so grateful to be able to do this. Most of all grateful for the continued improvement in my health. I only walk for 2 to 3 hours a day but am so happy to be able to do that and explore.

My walks have taken me all around Kinder, including the now very dry reservoir. This campsite has so many brilliant footpaths from it so I have only driven once this week, to visit a textile museum that I will write about in another post.

There have been many babbling streams, old bridges, moss covered walls, friendly sheep, blue skies and amazing clouds.

I am off to my sister’s tomorrow and sorting out Katy to leave her there for the next few months. I will be at Ellen’s for a few days helping her with some decorating then back to Spain next weekend! The time has flown by and I have loved it. Now to get on with planning the winter adventures and booking sites for next summer πŸ˜‰

The next post will be all about how van life has been so until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

The War of the Roses

Having lived in Yorkshire for 35 years I feel that I know it well, I have visited, worked in and holidayed around much of the county. However I have not spent as much time in Lancashire and it has been lovely to spend more time in this part of the country.

We used to joke in Marsden, which was the last village before the border with Greater Manchester and the Lancashire area, that the War of the Roses was still remembered 400 odd years later. That war, which we re-enact one of the battles of at the Tewkesbury event, was between the house of York and the house of Lancaster for control of the throne.

Of course the borders have moved many times so parts of my current trip were once in Yorkshire anyway. It was amusing to be driving in and out of Yorkshire and Lancashire as I travelled around.

I have been staying in Clitheroe at a lovely quiet site just next to the River Ribble. The town has a castle and is very near one of my favourite National Trust houses, Gawthorpe Hall, with its amazing textile collection. It wad very hard to resist a 4th visit πŸ˜‰

Since I have been on the road for about 9 weeks now I have decided to have a quiet few days here. A walk by the river on a sunny Sunday was just what was needed, time to stop and look at the berries and the acorns, no squirrels to be seen though.

I did actually go back into North Yorkshire on my second day here as the route I was planning was very fog bound and though I am OK with country lanes it is nice to see where you are going when you really don’t know where you are going!

I headed for Settle and was rewarded with beautiful scenery and very friendly cows for a walk around Austwick, where Jacky and I stayed nearly 3 years ago on our first Dales trip.

I have spent the evenings stitching and have now got a nice collection of Christmas ornaments finished. I may make a couple more just for my tiny tree then need to move on to some knitting.

There are 6 of these ones in the picture above, which are for the Huddersfield friends. The ones below are for the rest of the family. All of the designs come from the JBW book I bought last Christmas.

I have also been enjoying sitting in my little reading nook in Katy, I need to try and get through as many of these books as I can in the next 3 weeks!

I have visited a little museum which was very interesting from a heritage management aspect so I shall be back soon with more pictures from that trip. As for the War of the Roses I think both the red and the white rose counties are equally lovely, though my heart will always belong to Yorkshire ! Until next time have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Big girl pants needed!

As I mentioned in my last post I have been doing a lot of driving around the Lake District and there have been some quite challenging roads. Everywhere there are small winding, narrow roads so it has been great practise for me.

The biggest challenge was driving to Ullswater via the Kingstone Pass, the highest road pass in the Lake District at around 1500 feet above sea level. I don’t have any pictures as just needed to keep going! It winds up and up with amazing views then you have to drive all the way down again.

I am very proud of myself for achieving this, I am really enjoying the driving and van life generally. Even after all this time I get a huge thrill sitting in my cosy little Katy on an evening with my wine and stitching watching even more van life videos!

The drive was rewarded by the stunning views of Ullswater, the second largest lake. I wanted to see the Aira Force waterfall but the car park was full. Luckily there was another National Trust car park a couple of miles away and I had a beautiful walk along the Ullswater Path to the waterfall and back.

I have been making good use of my Trust membership again here and visited a fantastic house which I will tell you about in the next post.

I also met up for coffee with another solo female van owner who I got in contact with through a Facebook group I am a member of. She saw the post about my drive through Kirkstone and got in touch as she was in the area.

It was brilliant to meet up with someone else who shared my passion. She has a beautiful van, acquired in May and is off to Ireland next. The group does organise camping meet ups so hopefully I can join one of those next year.

I had a fascinating walk around the hills of Coniston after we met and discovered a copper mine that has been preserved as a heritage site. You can event rent cottages and have weddings there. It was a wonderful insight into life in the Lakes.

There were also so many waterfalls on the trail.

Next stop is Lancashire, a county I lived next to for 35 years but never explored much so I have a few days there before our next re-enactment event.

Hope you are a having a lovely autumn, or spring wherever you are. It has been wonderful to sit and watch the squirrels hiding nuts and see the leaves turn. I have always considered autumn as a time of new beginnings, comes from 35 years of teaching and am excited to return to Spain in a few weeks.

The rabbits have still been very active and have come really close to the van in the evenings.

Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

‘I wandered lonely as a cloud…’

One of the most famous people connected with the Lake District is Wordsworth, who wrote the poem about daffodils that starts with the above line. I have been doing lots of wandering this week, not lonely but solitary, looking at the beauty of a Lake District preparing for autumn rather than spring.

The campsite is set in a very rural area just outside Windermere, perfect for walks with stunning views. I have a new mapping app so used that to find footpaths in the local area. I love the old footpath signs and the stone stiles here.

The first day’s walk had brilliant views across to the fells and I met some very cute Herdwick sheep. The Lakeland walls are so beautiful, especially when covered in moss.

The second day was a woodland walk, and I came across the best little den I have seen in a forest. It had clearly been there for ages by the moss on it.

The autumn foliage was wonderful, there were so many berries. I could have made the best blackberry crumbles if only I had an oven in the van!

The site is full of rabbits who are so tame, they are just hopping around the tents eating grass and fallen leaves.

Day 3 was a drive to Windermere and then after a walk along the shore I did a bit of practise at driving down all the little country lanes on the way back. I am loving all the exploration that I am able to do now that I have Katy.

This is such a lovely place to be and I was very glad to have 8 nights here as that gave me lots of chance to explore. I will tell you more about the rest of the week in the next post. Until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Another island at the edge

Anglesey, where I spent last week, is also an island at the edge of the UK. We have visited the most northerly town and village in Wales, and been staying very near to one of the ferry ports over to Ireland. That is a trip I wish to make one day very soon.

We have had a wonderful week staying near Holyhead in a gorgeous barn conversion. It is huge, 5 double bedrooms large kitchen and cosy sofas in the sizeable lounge. It has been so different to my previous 8 weeks of campervans and very luxurious.

I am here with 3 of my old colleagues from the University, there should have been 5 of us but sadly a broken ankle stopped play for my lovely friend Nicola so she had to stay at home.

It has been a very restful week and we have done lots of catching up, sightseeing, eating gorgeous food and relaxing in the hot tub. Apart from the first day when we had a little rain the weather has been glorious. We had a visit to South Stack Lighthouse where there were dramatic views.

It is a hard life and made even better by the fact that 2 of us are retired now and never have to return to work and the other two are retiring soon. We have tried our best to be beacons of good practice in terms of the joys of retirement and I think we have managed that πŸ˜‰

We have driven the length and breadth of the islands visiting lighthouses, beaches and cute villages.

We also had two heritage days out to Plas Newydd, a National Trust house that I have visited twice before, and Beaumaris to see the castle.

The gardens at Plas Newydd were beautiful, that is what you appreciate more as you get older I think, a lovely garden display.

I also got to see what is probably my favourite painting in the world, the Rex Whistler mural there. Just stunning.

Beaumaris Castle looked a lot better than last time I visited in the rain about 24 years ago. The views across the bay to mainland Wales are also stunning.

On my return to Yorkshire I picked up Katy and had a brilliant drive through the Yorkshire Dales to the Lake District. I am very happily back in my favourite reading corner watching rabbits play on the grass and looking at the wonderful fells.

I am have visited Windermere and Ullswater this week and done lots of reading and some finishing of the Christmas ornaments. Hope you all have a great weekend ahead see you all again soon. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Messing about on the water

I am writing this blog post from the shores of Loch Lomond on the most beautiful sunny day. It is still about 24 degrees even though it is 4.30pm so most of today has been water related fun. It is the most amazing location.

In fact most of the last week has involved water related activities as it has been gorgeous sunny weather. We left Blackpool on Monday morning and headed to the Lake District. We were camped at one of the most stunning sites I have ever been to, Castlerigg Farm, just outside Keswick.

The site is on a hill and so has 360 degree views over Derwentwater and all the surrounding hills such as Siddaw and Catbells. It was so amazing and the photos do not do it justice at all.

We arrived mid afternoon in time for a little walk down to the lake, we got a little lost and the 25 minutes turned into 45 but it was lovely once we got there and we had a little paddle. It was a very steep climb back up but well worth it for the views.

The following day we decided to have a quiet trip out on the lake on a little cruise and stopped off at the other end of the lake to visit a waterfall.

The scenery is just incredible, I could stare at the hills all day. I think Derwentwater is one of my favourite of the lakes as it is so dramatic.

It was a hot journey up to the site in Loch Lomond but so worth it, we are pitched right opposite the lake so we have these amazing views. We are at the Milarrochy Bay campsite another Camping and Caravan Club one.

I told you that Jacky has altered the van. She has removed the fixed bed and replaced it with bench seats that create a bed. It really opens up the van and gives a lot more space for two people, and for being inside to eat.

So far the weather has been really good and we are going to have our fourth BBQ in a row tonight, but it will be a great layout if the weather is not so good once we get to the islands.

Jacky went out this morning for a paddleboard lesson. I stayed and did some stitching on account of my very dodgy joints but she had a great time and didn’t fall in. This afternoon we have been swimming in the Loch, we also had a large rubber ring to play with.

We set off tomorrow with a stopover at Fort William so should be in Skye on Saturday which will be very exciting. I am so looking forward to finally seeing the places that I have only seen on other people’s travel vlogs.

Thank you so much for all of the comments and the likes on my posts. I will be back with more stunning scenery as soon as I can. In the meantime have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Loving my van life

I have now been on the road for a month, through the thankfully short heatwave of 38 degrees, and back to my old normal of 16 degrees and raining in the Peak District, and I am absolutely loving it.

I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to be driving in Katy, especially on roads that I have previously been driven on by other people. It is now just me and my little van going places!

I had been staying at campsites in the Upper Peak District and in Shropshire for 8 days before meeting up with my sister, and have had some amazing walks.

The Peak District is somewhere that holds many wonderful memories for me, especially of my time living in Marsden. The first campsite at Crowden was only 12 miles from my old house.

The layout of the van is working well, I have had the camping kitchen mainly inside the van for all of these last two camps due to the inclement weather. I have used bungee cords to attach it to the sides of the van for travelling. I do take all the rattly kitchen stuff out before driving though.

The chair bed is folded up during the day so I have a cosy reading nook. I have also sat there in the evenings with the back doors open watching You Tube van life videos on my tablet while watching amazing sunsets and stitching. This really is living my dream and I am so happy.

The second site I stayed at just outside Leek was near some fantastic rock formations known as The Roaches, so Katy and I had a little adventure out there one day and I climbed all the way to the top.

I also had a walk around the local reservoir in a beautiful pine forest.

On my last day there I drove back over the moors to Buxton for an enjoyable afternoon looking at the park and spa buildings which put Buxton on the map in the late 1800s. It is a very pretty place and well worth a visit.

One of the old buildings for taking the waters has been turned into an arcade and there is a small exhibition about the spa in its heyday. You can still see the original tiles and all the treatment rooms which have been turned into little shops.

Jacky and I have been having an excellent time here at Rebellion. Although most of the bands we have seen have been on the outdoor stage, some have been inside the beautiful Winter Gardens, which has some stunning architecture. We spent yesterday afternoon in the Spanish Room which has a stunning panoramic frieze below the ceiling.

We are off on our great adventure to Scotland tomorrow in her campervan, Eva. She has changed the layout again so I will get some photos of that for you as well as it look very different. I will post some of our travels as and when Internet allows!

Whatever you are doing have fun, take care, stay safe and as always thanks for visiting.

Away from the motorway madness

Hello from sunny, indeed this week, very sunny England! You may know that we have been experiencing a heatwave, with temperatures of up to 40 degrees. Of course that is just a normal Tuesday in July in Spain but is a bit hot for here where it is usually only around 24.

And I have been in a tent, which has been a little warm at times. Of course I was supposed to be sleeping in Katy the campervan but as it has been so hot have been using her as a day van and using the tent at night. I spent a few days at Jacky’s sorting her out before setting off on my adventures. This photo shows how she looks in full indoor evening mode.

I chose to stay at two campsites near a couple of motorways that I have travelled down many times before, without really thinking of what was either side of the road. We were always in a hurry to get somewhere, to an event, or visiting family. As I wanted a little bit of practise at motorway driving it was a good opportunity to just go an hour away and explore.

The first campsite was in the Clent Hills, just off the M5, within sight of Birmingham, one of the UK’s largest cities. It was a beautiful site and Katy was soon happily settled in, amongst the larger motorhomes and caravans. I used my brilliant camping kitchen outdoors and it all worked very well.

The site was created in honour of the founder of the Caravan and Camping Club, then called the Cycle Camping Club and there was an informative display about the site. I am so glad people fought for access to beautiful places to stay. I went on three lovely walks in the area, including up to the viewpoint at Four Stones where there were great views over Worcestershire.

The second site was an hour further North, the other side of Birmingham. The place is called Kingsbury Water Park and they are a series of old gravel pits that have been turned into water sports areas and a nature reserve. I stopped off on the way at the National Needle Museum in Redditch which will have a post of its own as it was fascinating.

This campsite was a lovely place to spend the very hot days, sitting in the shade by the ponds reading a book while watching the geese, swans and moorhens. The M42 motorway runs right through the middle of the area so I have passed it many times not realising anything so lovely was there. I managed to be very creative with getting shade thanks to using a throw and my magnetic hooks!

While there I finished the third of the cute little caravan embroideries that I started in lockdown in March 2020. They look very good along with the bunting that I made in Spain. The crocheted rainbow was a present from Ellen.

I then made my way to Ellen’s, going on the third motorway of the trip, the M1. I am very pleased that I have been able to be confident driving, it has been 3 months since I passed my test in which I have not driven at all. I have so enjoyed all the exploring in Katy, it really is a dream come true. We are now in Whitby for the Steampunk event so are going to have a splendid time involving many hats!

I hope that you have all been having a good time, my next campsite is in the Peak District and then I will be heading South to Staffordshire on the way back to Jacky’s. Whatever you are doing have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

La Marina Wildlife

Although I live on what is called an ‘urbanizacion’ it is very rural and not urban at all. The word just means residential development and there are many in this area. To one side we have the mountains, in front of us is the sea, and behind us endless farmland. I have never seen so many artichokes in my life πŸ˜‰ and that is why we have such lovely fresh, and cheap food in our local markets.

I have posted previously about the verdes, the green areas in between the housing blocks, and the lovely gardens that many people create there. Most of the verdes are natural though and they are lovely to walk though. I usually chose that route to my Mum’s house, in the hope that I can spot squirrels who live in the more forested ones.

The squirrels here are very different to those in the UK, they are neither red nor grey in colour but a beautiful brown with cream stomachs, and are very tiny and nimble. Apologies that my pictures are not that clear as I was using zoom but I found this great blog with some clear pictures and lots of information so this close up is from there. They have such cute ears as well!

They are a species of red squirrel but are a lot darker and their coats can appear black. The Spanish word for squirrel is ‘ardilla’ (the double l is pronounced as a y).

The very wet weather in March, (where we actually had rain here for about 3 weeks!), has meant that the more open verdes have been transformed into the most gorgeous wildflower areas.

There are so many lovely yellow and purple flowers that have bloomed here, lots of varieties of what look like daisies and a small purple bell shaped flower which covers large areas. You can see that one on the top left of the above picture.

I love to explore the farmland on my bike, as well as great cycle trails there are also the ‘caminos’ which are the rougher roads into the farmland area. Often these run along the ‘azarbes’ or irrigation channels. There are amazing views out towards the mountains.

This week I came across a wetland area on one of the fields where one of the irrigation channels had pumped water onto the field and flooded it. Whether this was deliberate or not I don’t know but it had created a wonderful habitat for birds.

As well as a large flock of ‘gaviotas’, seagulls, there were also white egrets, which we see often here on the azarbes. There were also a few darker egret type birds with a wonderful dark purple plumage under their wings. I think they might be a glossy ibis from my research, this site has some great close up pictures which is where I got this one from.

We also have little lizards that I encounter on my bike rides or walking around, they are far too quick for me to take pictures of but I love to see them!

A little further away we also have the salinas where the flamingos live. I was very excited the other evening as a whole flock of them flew over my house while I was sitting on the terrace. I have seen a few flying over before but never as many of this and it was an amazing sight. No pictures sadly 😦 as the camera was inside.

I did take these ones of the sun setting over the salinas on the way back from Caceres last year. They always look amazing when there are clouds. They are are often a pinky grey colour in the sunlight which is why the flamingos come as eating the sea creatures there turns them pinker. These salinas are some of the best places to see flamingos in Europe. I love the fact that the Spanish for flamingo is ‘flamenco’ πŸ˜‰

I am really enjoying finding out more about all the birds here, my sister is really into birds and so I have got more used to looking out for unusual ones. Many of the salinas are bird reserves now, as they are no longer used commercially for the salt.

It really is a lovely area to live in, so different from my gorgeous moors and reservoirs of Marsden but still with the same all important access for me to rural areas.

I am looking forward to more nature exploration in the autumn, it will probably too hot in June to go far on the bike so I will be planning lots more cycle routes for when I get back in October. I have also started planning where I will spend January and February next year, nothing confirmed yet but I am very excited!

Meanwhile there are cushions to be finished, the hand stitching is taking a lot longer than I envisaged but I am hoping to done this weekend, so will be able to share that soon. I hope that you have lots of nice things planned for the weekend as well. Do have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Ashmolean treasures

In the summer when we went to Oxford we visited various museums including the Ashmolean and I wanted to share with you some of the wonderful textiles there. There were various exhibition sections and one of my favourites was Mediterranean Threads, showcasing 18th and 19th century Greek embroidery.

The light was understandably not good enough to take many detailed pictures, but they have got a detailed look at the exhibits at this link here. This was one of my favourite pieces, there is so much detail here.

There was also some stunning Japanese silk embroidery, the sheer scale of the pieces and the fine work never ceases to amaze me, I was lucky enough to see an exhibition of this on one of my visits to China and it is incredible work.

I have been really enjoying reading the theses about Bess of Hardwick and the museum had some treasures from that era as well.

The sweet bags I have seen before but the most interesting was this set of wooden serving boards for sweetmeats, that had verses on the back that could then be read aloud.

This set comprised 12 boards in a storage box and dated from 1600. I can imagine that Bess may have had something similar for her table at one of her many houses.

We ate at a stunningly decorated restaurant one evening, Comptoir Libanais, that we found by just walking past. The food was as stunning as the dΓ©cor and you can see more at their Instagram. I can heartily recommend a visit if there is a branch near you. I love the use of colour and tiles everywhere.

Craft wise I am still knitting, am onto another rabbit at the moment, but have plans to do some more cross stitch soon. Last summer I discovered Readly, a fantastic app that gives you access to lots of digital magazines for one small monthly fee, so I have been enjoying looking at lots of embroidery and cross stitch magazines. I used to do mainly cross stitch when the children were young but have not done much for years apart from the Christmas ornaments. I have found some gorgeous little caravan and camper patterns in one of the magazines so am planning to start that soon.

We have spent part of this weekend preparing the campervan as we are off on a little jolly to the Peak District tomorrow. I was looking back at the other post that I did about Oxford earlier and was reminded that was my very first retirement trip, although it took place before had officially finished work for good. This upcoming one will be my seventh adventure, (counting all of the camping ones last summer as one big one), not bad for just over 6 months of retirement! It makes me very, very happy to be able to do the things that I had planned and I am very grateful to be able to do this.

We have various walks planned including one to the Dragon’s Back, near Buxton. I doubt the weather will give us views like this but we are excited to be away and outdoors anyway. Picture and walk details from here.

I hope that you have all had a good week and have not been too battered by storms if you have been in the UK. It was interesting having a driving lesson in high winds yesterday but everything was fine here. Have a good week ahead, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.