Trains and Boats and Planes

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Monday 18th September A.M

Andy was looking for an experienced helmsman to help take his newly-repaired yacht back to its mooring at Ipsos.

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I gave the boat the usual “once over” before taking up the commission ……………..

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There were a few last minute things I wanted fixing  before I was happy to set sail on such a demanding voyage………….

 

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So, confident I could get the yacht back to its home port and moor safely I set sail. At the crack of dawn with the sun just rising over the yardarm we left Corfu town for Ipsos.

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With Ipsos in sight……………..

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…………I stepped out of the way and handed back control to Andy. There was obviously no way was I going to be in charge as we entered the harbour. The boat was berthed with such precision in a gap so small it would of been difficult to park your bike!  Thanks Andy for letting me come along for the ride.

 

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Monday 18th September P.M

After the morning’s expedition, Jane was ready for me to set the compass in the direction of the nearest supermarket to stock up on provisions for the imminent visit of her sisters.  The first stop was the local bakery to get some cakes (really for Kev, but i’m sure we will have some!)

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…………if you look carefully you can see the last two people off of the plane, and of course it had to be Tracy and Kev!

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Tracy entered the country in her normal shy retiring way!………….

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Closely followed by Marisa, Chris and Kev.

 

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Back at the villa, the first thing everyone wanted to do was jump in the pool. Then it was time for a little light refreshments, beer, wine and bacardi followed by a lovely home-cooked meal! After the peace and quiet of the last two weeks, I think we are in for a lively fun-packed 10 days !  ( P.S There were no trains, it was just the way my mind went!)

 

 

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Finding the Durrell’s House

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Friday 15th September

A lazy day was planned. After an early morning watching the mist on the Albanian mountains and waiting for the sun to rise…………

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…….. we sat beside the pool just chilling, reading our books and catching a few rays……..

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……. then to round off an exhausting day Andy came down and cooked a fantastic BBQ, Rachel sipped a glass of wine and offered him some handy hints!

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Saturday 16th September

We are both fans of the T.V. series  “The Durrells” which is filmed on Corfu. We wanted to get a picture of the house featured on the programme, but were told that it was difficult as it was located by an hotel complex and not accessible by the beach.

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So in the best paparazzi style I set off to get the elusive photograph

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After risking life and limb  by wading through uncharted waters……..

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Success! The photo that I was after! It looked beautiful.

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After a morning walking around Gouvia and Kontokali we decided to check out another of Ange’s recommendations, Pelekas. This turned out to be a bit easier said than done. We followed Andy’s instructions and took the first road sign and then we never saw another! So after an unexpected scenic drive, we ended up at our intended destination, the top of a mountain with stunning views from one side of the island to the other!

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If we looked really hard we were sure we could see Age and Ange’s villa! (maybe wishful thinking)

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Sunday 17th September

Today was all about a stroll around Corfu town, seeing the sights and doing a bit of geocaching.

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The caches are situated in some interesting places and you get to see parts of towns you might not ordinarily visit.

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This place, Mon Repos, was situated close to one of the coastal caches. Famous for being the birth place of the Duke of Edinburgh, it too has recently been used as a filming location for the Durrells.

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Spoiler alert!! One cache is hidden behind this bust of Gerald Durrell! It looks like it’s a Greek custom to touch his nose!

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Now, this ancient ruin is situated overlooking the old port, not me you understand, the building that is!

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Life’s a Beach !

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Wednesday 13th September

Today we did a little more research of places to take Tracy, Kev, Marisa and Chris. Although it’s not an arduous job we still have to put a lot of effort checking the views………..

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Checking out the best beaches…….

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Checking out the pebbles on the beach and making sure the water is warm enough!  And that took all day, no rest for the wicked!

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We were both glad to get back to the villa and watch the Albanian mountains turn red as the sun went down (with a glass of wine of course!)

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Thursday 14th September

This is the church of Vlacherna, a lovely building in a stunning location……..

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This is one of Corfu’s most photographed spots, sail boats cruise past and people stroll past gazing in to the crystal clear waters…..

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However, if you turn around and look behind you, there is the main runway of Corfu’s airport right in front of you ……………

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It’s quite fascinating to stand and watch these planes taking off and landing, so close to you that you think you could touch them. And in such a beautiful place too.

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Jane could have stayed all day, but I had more important fish to fry……….. namely another geocache to find……….

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This time the cache was located on top of a hill overlooking the church, with Mouse Island in the distance. Whilst I went hunting, Jane kept an eye out for incoming aircraft !

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Even though Kev and Val aren’t with us on this trip, Kev likes to keep me informed of places that we might like to visit.  He is always reading travel books and planning several trips ahead…………….

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He sent me an email about an out of the way beach called Notos……….

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Seldom very busy………

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And the calm waters over an exceptionally seabed make it ideal for snorkelling………. so we just had to go……

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Just as well the water wasn’t too shallow otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to get my stomach in!!!!!! (must remember to hold it in for photos!)

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And so after a hard afternoon of snorkelling, there is nothing better than to sit back and reflect on the days’ adventures!

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Corfu Town

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Monday 11th September

Jane suggested that today we go in to the main town and do a bit of SHOPPING.  With this in mind I set about my daily exercise routine with extra vigour; I didn’t want to collapse halfway around town whilst looking at hand bags!

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Corfu town is a mixture of lovely well-kept buildings, and quite a few with a faded elegance which gives this place a character all of its own.

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Whilst I was admiring the architecture Jane had spotted something far more interesting. As I was looking for a new pair of swimming trunks I felt that I should join her in her home from home! How disappointing, an M&S on this island, in this heat without any summer wear!

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Anyhow back to the architecture. After a good wander around we both found a few bargains, I got 2 pairs of trunks and a pair of shorts, all half price as it was end of season, and Jane got a dress. I can’t see that its end of season as it is still so hot, however I can’t look a gift horse in the mouth!

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Back at the villa,  Rachel had noticed a few stray leaves in the pool, and after her hard day’s work with the horses she was there like a shot to get them out!

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Jane couldn’t believe that I hadn’t noticed the leaves, I myself think its because she pours my Bacardi and cokes way too strong!

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Tuesday 12th September

After such a hard day’s shopping yesterday we thought that a pool day would be in order today.

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What a beautiful quiet place (if the dogs don’t bark!) to sit, read and relax. I love travelling and staying in our caravan, but sometimes a break from filling up the water barrels and emptying the loo can be very therapeutic .

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At the end of the day, in the cool of the evening, we drove a short way down the road to Dassia for a walk along the beach.

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Time for a sundown geocache, and to watch day turn into night !

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Kassiopi

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Friday 9th September

The weather this morning was definitely looking a bit moody!

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Yep, looks like there’s a storm coming in!

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So we waited in the comfort of the villa, reading, dozing and surfing the internet whilst waiting for the sun to come out. Ange had written down a few suggestions of places to visit so Jane took the time to plan a route. First stop the Durrells house in Kalami, the real house, not the T.V. house ! You can now rent the top floor for holidays and the bottom half is a restaurant.

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The second stop was to find my first Greek geocache, it wasn’t too difficult, as there were  lots of clues!

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To celebrate the find, we drove to a little bay with a view of Albania………………

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We found a little Taverna where we sat and watched the boats coming and going, nothing too taxing you understand !

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Kassiopi was our main destination for the day, and what a lovely place it was. It had a tranquil unhurried feel to it (well it did at 4pm, not sure what it’s like at night!)

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Jane spotted an ice-cream shop, so we wandered around the harbour with a double caramel special in hand admiring the small yachts. (We also had time to track down 2 more geocaches!)

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As we were running a little later than planned, we decided to grab a little snack in Gouvia on the way home, and whilst it was still light, just enough time for one more cache………

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Not so lucky this time, and its getting dark, time to give up and get some tea. Nice to see the historic Venetian arsenal though, built in 1778 with rather large windows, you can see why the Venitians came up with the blind idea!

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At last, a little snack for tea….. a gyro with chips………lovely!

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Saturday 10th September

Well thats not what we were expecting!  A little wet for a game of chess and a little windy for a game of draughts!

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After the rain cleared, we went for a walk up the road from the villa. This is a very quiet area with a few houses and lots of olive trees. We walked for about an hour and didn’t see a soul, we did  however see a lot of shot gun cartridges.  I don’t think I want to get on the wrong side of any of these farmers!

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On the way back we saw this turkey, he didn’t look too happy, I think someone had just told him its not long until Christmas! He wanted to spend the break on the island of Paxos, but the farmer told him to get stuffed !

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Sunday 10th September

Thats better, the sun begins to peak through early this morning and only a little cloud. This is a panoramic view from the bedroom balcony!

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So off to Sidari today. The resort itself was ok, but just on the edge is an area of stunning small inlets and bays. This particular photo is of an area named “Canal d’Amour”.

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A little further along the coast is Cape Drastis, yet another truly beautiful spot, you can see a small boat anchored in the bay in the distance. Just 3 people had the benefit of that secluded beach!

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Further around the coast is Arillas, a little place that we visited the last time we were in Corfu. On that occasion we took time to sit on this bench and contemplate the meaning of life!

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An ideal place to sit and watch the sun go down. Me with an orange juice and lemonade and Jane with a vodka and coke……. oh the joys of driving the little white Ferrari!

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Paleokastritsa and other places

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Tuesday 5th September P.M.

After our wild night out in Gouvia a little chill-out time was required…..

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Wednesday 6th September

A fairly early start, as we were taking Bill and Owen to the airport. What a lovely sunrise this morning!

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Jane had a little visitor this morning, a big grasshopper was enough to make her take a little  jump back in surprise!

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An early morning swim is a great way to start the day, especially if you only have to take 5 steps from the kitchen to the lovely refreshing water.

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Then breakfast with a view……

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Life is not always so easy, and after a stressful morning of reading by the pool we had to drive 30mins to Paleokastritsa to sit on the beach. I first came here about 35 years ago, and to say it has changed  a lot is an understatement! My cousin Adrian recently found a postcard I had sent my Nan and Aunt at the time, and the place looked unrecognisable with all the recent developments.

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However the beach was the same……

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The boat hirers were still there, new jetty though!

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And the sea was as warm and clear as I remembered.

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Thursday 7th September

Before we left, I had booked a Ferrari for the duration of our stay on Corfu.  However the guy at the rental offices assured me that a Peugeot 108 was the better car for the roads on the island, and that it had a similar performance. He was half right, a small car is ideal for the narrow roads, although I would have loved a car that could climb a steep incline without having to change down to 1st gear!

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Jane selected a short walk from the guide book, 1.5 miles was all she said it would be……….

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What she had failed to notice was. it was straight down!……….

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However the scenery was lovely with lots of succulent type plants …..

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…. breathtaking views……..

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…… and crystal clear water.

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Jane was surprised at the unusual cave formations and the large cracks in the rocks!

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The only problem with a long walk down, is that there is a long walk back up again. However the walk back up was not as hard as I had feared, as it seamed to be easier to get a better grip.

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Afionas, the village at the top, was quaint and picturesque with lots of colourful plants in the borders.

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The vantage point at the top offered great views over the many nearby small islands.

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Although the donkey wasn’t that bothered, he was more interested in his lunch!

 

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Corfu

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Monday 4th September

After a trouble-free taxi journey to Heathrow terminal 5, we arrived in good time for our flight to Corfu. We were a little hungry after the early start, so Jane persuaded me to have a low calorie full english breakfast, that really hit the spot and lasted me until the food was served on the plane.

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We arrived at Age and Ange’s villa just as the sun was going down. We were greeted by Bill (Age and Ange’s son) and his friend Owen; they took our bags and offered us a glass of wine for which we were very grateful after the journey.

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The view from the bedroom balcony was as stunning as we remembered. You can see Albania in the distance and we have decided to book a day trip as we have been told great things about it.

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The sun was sinking and the moon was rising, so time to drive off to get some food.

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We arrived at Ipsos and the sun had completely disappeared and the moon cast a golden glow over the sea. We had a very pleasant stroll along the front choosing which of the many establishments we were going to honour with our custom. We decided on the traditional Greek meal of moussaka and chips, which was very tasty!

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The next morning we awoke to a glorious day.

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So first things first, jump in the pool……………..what a way to start the day!

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I got chance of a catch up with Andy (Ange’s brother-in-law) whilst sat on the veranda having my breakfast. He and his other half Racheal live here in Corfu and it is great to benefit from their local knowledge!

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It was Bill and Owens last day, so I suggested a meal out if they could think of a nice restaurant. Bill thought that the local town of Gouvia would have something for everyone, and he was right.  We settled on Melodies restaurant where the food was lovely.  Melodies has a tribute act bar, and that night the Albanian Elvis was on, but the lads had an early flight so we headed back home (actually Jane and I were tired!)

 

 

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But before we left we still had time for dessert!

 

 

 

 

 

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Back over the Bridge

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Friday 25th August

An early start for our journey back to Braishfield to beat the bank holiday traffic. I couldn’t find any way to avoid it so I had to drive over the Severn bridge. I don’t know what I was worried about as it wasn’t as steep  as some we have driven over during the last 7 months!

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We had spent the previous day exploring the old Roman town of Caerleon. This is a great place to look around, the museums are all free and very interesting and informative  without overloading you with too much information .

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Jane found it so exciting that she tried to take a selfie to show the world!

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I enjoyed it so much that I wanted another silly photo of myself.  Jane says I have succeeded again !

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Saturday 26th August

I came downstairs to find out where the melodic sound that was filling the house was coming from, and found the Simon and Garfunkel tribute band in full swing rehearsing for their upcoming tour.

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Sunday 27th August

On a tranquil Sunday morning I sat down to read the papers in the glorious sunshine, only to find that dad got the mower out.  Some people do pick their moments!

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Bank Holiday Monday 28th August

Back in Braishfield I took Jane on a walk down memory lane for me.  Above is a photo of the canal at Romsey, along which I used to walk to school….. all those years ago!

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The road sign I saw every school day for 5 years.  Still the same although the school itself has changed beyond recognition.  Oh well I suppose it was 40 years ago that I left!

 

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This was my mum’s house, 7 Riverside Gardens, many memories here, lots of good ones and a few sad.

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This was one of my mums favourite places, the salmon leap near the memorial park. (If you look carefully in the far archway under the bridge, you can see a calf making a bid for freedom)!

 

 

 

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Tuesday 29th September

Down to Chideock to see our friends Kev and Val. We found Kev hard at work organising the route for our 2019 trip to Budapest. Its a long way off, but I’m getting excited already, its great to have a friend that enjoys and takes time to do such meticulous planning.

Kev said that he had swam in the sea the previous day and that it was warm. He lied! But it certainly was refreshing. I can never seem to walk elegantly on stony beaches!

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Friday 1st September

My first game of golf for 6 months! What a motley crew, apparently they hadn’t missed me, as they said they can now play in peace and quiet.

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My first sausage sandwich in 6 months……..it tasted bloody lovely !

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Haircut ready for our trip to Adrian and Ang’s villa on Corfu.

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Saturday 2nd September

Sally recommended that we take a trip to Gilberts in Sheffield English to see the dahlias. So with any excuse to put our hats on, off we went!

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What a beautiful display. Dad has decided to put in a dahlia border next year, so an order has been placed, now the hard work begins! I’m not sure if dad enjoyed the flowers or the toasted teas cake and coffee more, but it was certainly a lovely afternoon.

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Southern Wales

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Thursday 17th August

I have been very lucky with the weather over the last few months when it come to setting/breaking camp. Unfortunately today I got soaked; this picture was taken by the person who had the inside jobs to do!

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Friday 18th August

The drive south through the middle of wales the previous day was beautiful. The road was fairly windy and steep in places but generally pretty quiet (very quiet in front, not so much behind!)  Our new campsite is run by a lovely couple called Trevor and Jane, they were both very helpful telling us of all the local attractions, and what an important Roman town Caerleon is, more of which later.

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Our pitch is on top of a hill with views over the Celtic Manor golf course, and on our first morning we were treated to a lovely sunrise.

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We had chosen this site as it was situated very close to Chepstow where Jane’s friend Sharon lives. Sharon had organised a weekend of drink, drugs and rock and roll with Jane, Diana and Marisa (Jane’s sister).  Well, I think it might have been a little more sedate than that – the drink was Prosecco, the drugs paracetamol and the rock and roll was Craig Charles playing some soul music. This meant I had a weekend on my own to go wild…………….

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Saturday 19th August

So I did, first off I went to David Lloyds in Cardiff for a swim, then back to the caravan to read the papers, then off for a walk around Celtic Manor followed by a bit of geocaching. I certainly know how to live!!!!

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Monday 21st August

The weather forecast today was rain (unusually!) so we decided to visit The Big Pit near Pontypool. What a great day out! I would throughly recommend it. What an experience to go down a mine to see how coal extraction was done through the years.  I am glad I was a shop keeper, I would have hated that way of life! Mind you I thought Jane looked pretty cool with her hard hat on!

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We were taken down the mine by a shy and retiring ex-miner named Peter. He and his colleagues made the visit the great day out that it was. His knowledge, combined with a terrific sense of humour, made our day truly memorable .

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We had only chosen this place as somewhere to go on a wet day and it turned out to be one of the best of our trip to Wales. And to cap it all the sun came out and we had a lovely trip back through the valleys.

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We stopped off at Usk on the way back to the van. Usk is a lovely little town and was full of flowers, very reminiscent of some of the villages we had travelled through in France.

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Tuesday 22nd August

Today  Jane and I met up with Becky who I used to work with at the Food Barn. She and Lee and her two girls, Keira and Lyla had relocated to Risca which is close to where we were staying. Lee’s daughter Isla was down for a visit so we all decided that we would climb the 2nd highest mountain in Wales (well I’m sure thats what Becky said!) The picture above was taken at the summit  and we had all made it without oxygen, although at times it would have been helpful.

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Even though we had climbed to the top there was someone who wanted to go higher!

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Lee tells me when there aren’t any clouds you can see for miles, but he can’t remember  the last time there weren’t any clouds!

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The steep drive to and from the car park proved a little challenging especially when you come up against someone who is not confident in reversing.

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Lyla managed to pick up a thorn in her hand whilst we were up the mountain, but nurse Becky had some special placebo plasters, and when she had placed 7 on Lyla’s hands the pain was safely abated.

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We both thought that the girls were so well behaved and we had a great day out. Thank you Keira,  Lyla and Isla….. oh and Becky and Lee!

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That evening we had a couple of visitors at the caravan, Pixie was keen to get a sip of Jane’s wine, however she had to settle for a bowl of water!

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Sharon had brought a couple of boxes of treats around, I didn’t get much of a look in there!

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Sharon was amazed at how much caravans had come on since she was a kid, apparently her dad had to tow theirs with a horse!

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Wednesday 23rd August

A visit to St Fagans National Museum of History, another great day out.  Over the years they have relocated buildings here which were in danger of either falling down or being demolished .

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Jane thought I looked at home here!

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She even recognised some of the stock I brought home ……

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At last another evening with some sunshine!

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Having a Wales of a Time

IMG_3430Friday 11th August

The weather forecast for today wasn’t very good so we decided on a day catching up on jobs in and around the caravan. I was running behind with the blog so I got up to date with that, and Jane did the ironing. We visited the Rhug Estate farm shop late in the afternoon and I was amazed at how many different types of pork pies that they had, I was very restrained and settled on a small selection of just 4 varieties !

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Saturday 12th August

We had pre booked train tickets for a trip up Snowdon and as we drove to the station the weather wasn’t looking promising !

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And on on the the journey up the weather showed no signs of improving

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I was amazed at how many people had climbed to the top in the awful weather.

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But the rain did stop long enough for us to take a selfie of the stunning view!

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Don’t look now but the clouds are lifting!

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The clouds did begin to lift on our downward journey.

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And we got a sense of what we had missed. I will be back, and the next time we will get a site nearer to snowdon so we can react far quicker to the weather and I WILL walk up !

 

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We stopped at Swallow falls on the way back

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And although Jane enjoyed the scenery, she was more excited that the town of Betws-y-coed was near and that the prospect of looking around a fine selection of SHOPS, was getting closer!

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Sunday 13th August

A nearby walk was recommended to us, so after only a 10 minute drive,

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We started the torrent walk,

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Which wended its way down a small quiet valley

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full of interesting flora and fauna.

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After such an energetic stroll, and as the weather was improving we bought the Sunday papers and went to the beach to read them.

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And unbelievably when we returned to the caravan  the sun was still shinning !

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Monday 14th August

Llangollen was the destination of today’s walk, which was entitled the Sun Bank walk…..

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it didn’t quite live up to its name…….

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but it was lovely none the less, and quite a tiring 5 mile walk.

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We finished with a visit to horseshoe falls before our exciting trip to Aldi!

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The drive home took up the famous Horse Shoe pass and the views were stunning!

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Tuesday 15th August

The weather at our campsite today was great so we decided to climb the hill behind us..

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The tracks were a bit muddy

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and some a little wet

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but the peace and tranquility near the top was worth it!

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