Happy New Year

Okay, huge apologies for not having blogged for absolutely ages. I started the blog with really good intentions but then the more I went away in Edna the less time I seemed to have to write about it and then I had a bit of a back log. Sorry! So, I will definitely blog more often and try not to feel overwhelmed when we’re out and about lots.

Anyway, hope you’re all well. The first year in Edna has come and gone and it’s been brilliant. We still love her to pieces even though we had to pay a little bit of money to get her through her MOT. We didn’t manage to do all the counties in Wales, though we have done a few and intend to do more this year. We went to Scotland in the Summer which was brilliant and have visited relations in Clacton and Hertfordshire. Last year I talked about the horrible hotel we stayed in visiting relations in Hertfordshire and how it was too hot and itchy. Well, the last camping trip of 2014 was again visiting family but we stayed in Edna at a campsite which was brilliant. We hooked up for the first time and ran a little blow heater which comes on and then off again when it heats up to the correct temperature. It was less noisy than the diesel heater and I wasn’t sure how expensive the diesel heating would be to run all night. The diesel heater is louder in the van and also louder outside as it vents out. It was still colder in the roof than the main part of the van, it always will be, but it was warm enough with some good bedding. We’d do it again. Breakfast was a bit harder because we had to wrap up and get some ventilation in whilst we were cooking. The second morning we went out for breakfast. Well, why not. It was cheaper than the budget hotel and much more fun.

So, next year the plans are more of Wales, more visiting friends and relatives and either more Scotland or possibly a trip further afield to Holland or maybe France. We’re hopefully moving house this year so it depends when that happens. We don’t want to go anywhere warm though as my son still burns if it’s too warm. What are anyone elses plans for this year? Last year was a year of firsts for us so this year we get to worry less and benefit from a tiny bit of experience.

I’ve also got a new SatNav for this year. The SatNav app on my phone has really been playing up and Edna kept parkouring off onto B roads so now we’ve got a shiny new toy which will hopefully behave itself. We’ve only used it once so far and my daughter checked with the map the whole way there and back to make sure it wasn’t leading us a merry dance.

Some A-Z posts for you

Hello, I’m back again. I’ve still been writing A-Z posts and I’ve just caught up with posting a few.  I’ll try and catch up with myself over the next few days.  So here are a few

I is for Izzy   https://lookingforaview.wordpress.com/a-z-blog-challenge/a-z-blog-challenge-i-is-for-izzy/

J is for Josh  https://lookingforaview.wordpress.com/a-z-blog-challenge-j-to/a-z-blogging-challenge-j-is-for-josh/

K is for Katie   https://lookingforaview.wordpress.com/a-z-blog-challenge-j-to/a-z-blogging-challenge-k-is-for-katie/

I’ll write another post when I have a few more links to give you.

Looking for a view

pheasant in garden

Sometimes you don’t have to go very far to have a good view.  This cock pheasant flew into our garden this morning and my husband spotted it out of the window whilst he was washing up.  We have a good garden for bird visitors but this one was a little unexpected.  We don’t live on a farm but in a small town in North Shropshire.  Our house backs onto other houses and we have neighbours on both sides, but for some reason this fellow choose to have a mooch in our garden.  It put a smile on our faces.

The other year we had a pea hen visit and as he flitted from roof top to roof top people came out of their houses to look.  Sometimes there are wonderful things waiting to be discovered right in front of us.

By the way, I should apologise as I haven’t worked out how to put the A-Z posts on the other page.  I will figure it out soon I hope so I have my writing separate from the camping/outdoor posts.  Fingers crossed.

Edna’s First Camping Trip

So did we get away in Edna?  We certainly did.  We arrived back from work and school to find yet more problems with the delivery of sleeping bags, so we packed up all of the old ones plus lots of extra blankets and put these and our bags in the car.  I switched the fridge on and transferred the food which was in a carrier bag in our fridge at home.  I also put some ice packs in to help the fridge come down to a cool temperature quicker which seemed to have done the trick.  Then we were waving good bye to my husband who unfortunately was working and we were off.

We had hoped to get there before it was dark but unfortunately that didn’t happen.  We arrived about 6:30pm having seen all the traffic going in the opposite direction.  Maybe they were all going to Wales.  So we found the place okay and pulled in.  They offered us a choice of pitch and we popped the roof and turned the front seat into what we have nicknamed day mode.  This includes putting the table out.  So I  made some food as the children were quick to tell me how hungry they were and we marvelled at the fact that we were actually camping in our own camper van.  Hooray!!

Edna Delamere Forest 0314

After the washing up we decided to move Edna into night time mode before playing a game of Go Fish (a card game).  I’m glad we did this earlier rather than later because it is the part we have had the least practise with and it probably took the longest.  We had to lift the back seat and reach underneath for all the bedding.  Most of it goes in a big under the bed bag and the two biggest sleeping bags are separate.  Then the seat pulls out into a bed after the head rests are taken off and we had to sort out bedding. I put sheets over both the roof and downstairs beds and then tried to work out a good combination of layers for both the children.  My son was in the roof which was a little cooler, so he had his sleeping bag liner, a mummy shaped summer sleeping bag and a larger rectangular one which was his Dad’s and pretty warm.  He also took another sleeping bag up the top to open up as a large cover over the top and a blanket.  Well, I might have overdone it a bit, but I was just a bit worried he might get cold.  My daughter had a cotton sleeping bag liner, a fleece sleeping bag liner and a sleeping bag, with extra blankets on stand by.  I just had my old sleeping bag and a cotton liner.

Anyway by the time we sorted all this out and got our pyjamas on it was getting late and the little one was flagging so I ruled out Go Fish and suggested bed instead.  My daughter slept really soundly all night waking up once to go to the toilet which she did all on her own, keen to show she knew the code to get into the toilet.  She’s very good with remembering numbers and things.  My son was a little more restless and it was a bit like being in bunk beds and listening to the person in the top.  It probably didn’t help that I kept calling out, “Are you alright?  Are you warm enough?”  I put the heating on before we went to bed and again when people went to the toilet for about 20 minutes each time as the cold air does whoosh in a bit when the side door opens.  It was chilly downstairs but I was fine.  My son needed a few more layers but he was fine too, despite me haranguing him to put even more on all the time.

Morning came and we had a good look at the campsite and decided on square sausages (squasages) in rolls for breakfast.  All had gone well so far, but Saturday didn’t all go according to plan.  I’ll post the next episode in the next day or two.

The edge of the forest next to the campsite

The edge of the forest next to the campsite

Booking a Campsite

Well my plans have gone a bit to pot at the moment.  My son had earache so we couldn’t go away last weekend, so I had planned on going away this weekend.  I found a site in Wrexham, the nearest county to us.  It took a while to find one that was literally not on our door step and we found one.  It was a Caravan Club site so I looked at the details and debated on whether or not to join and decided I would as there seems more Welsh sites than the Caravan and Camping Club.  Then I looked on the availability checker and saw it was booked up for the next three weekends with no spaces.  I would possibly expect that in August, but at the beginning of March.  All those caravanners must book early.  Well, I’m not joining if I can’t book a site.  It put me off a bit.  Sometimes you just want to go away on the hoof and I don’t want to book everything miles in advance.  Back to the drawing board.  I’ll have to look for another site.

On the plus side, it’s great the weather’s made a turn for the better.  We took my mum-in-law to Chasewater near Burntwood/Brownhills last weekend and we managed to go to Lake Vyrnwy the other day. http://www.lake-vyrnwy.com/   I’ve got loads of photos to sort through from Lake Vyrnwy which I’ll post soon.  Meanwhile I need to find a good campsite not too far away ready for this weekend which isn’t booked up.

It’s real – honest!

Wahoo! I’ve just picked up Edna. I’m so excited. Do you ever have those moments when something seems too good to be true and you think maybe something will go wrong?  Well, it didn’t and Edna is on our drive. We had to pick up a gas bottle and I picked up a turquoise blanket/throw at the same time to put across the back seat. I’m hoping it will be multi-purpose and protect the seat from food a bit as well as being useful in the evening.

What happens next depends a lot on the weather. My heart goes out to all those folks in wind and rain battered areas. Let’s hope for some dry weather soon.

Trip Planning

So, the holiday period is over, Christmas and New Year are gone.  The children have gone back to school and along with Cadbury’s Creme Egg adverts starting on the television.  (Well they don’t want us to forget Easter do they?)  The adverts for holidays have also begun.  Every magazine I open is full of leaflets and adverts.  My inbox is busy reminding me of all the wonderful places I could visit.   Then there are the TV adverts.  The horrible weather at the moment makes you want to dream about better weather.  So now’s the time to plan your adventures.  Where are you going to explore this year?  Where would you like to go?  Can you afford that or are you going for the cheaper option?

I’m obviously hoping to get my camper van soon.  I got very excited in the holidays and went to have a look around some of the converters, but sensibly they were all closed.  Then comes the planning.  Last year we visited England, Wales and Scotland and I would like to do the same this year.  I would also like to visit France, but I might run out of holidays.  I’m hoping with the camper van we can squeeze in a few more weekends.

So, do you enjoy the planning, trawling brochures, maps and websites?  Or would you rather someone else did the planning and you just packed a bag the night before?

I like a good map and a guide book.  I also like looking for campsites and places to visit.  There are so many interesting places that you never even knew were there, so this year I’m looking for the interesting places which are close to home as well as those further away.

Looking Back and Looking Forwards

 

Loch Goil

Loch Goil

Some of the best views I have ever seen were in Lochgoilhead, Scotland this year.  We didn’t camp as there wasn’t a campsite.  We stayed in a holiday cottage.

View from the holiday house.

View from the holiday house.

The place was gorgeous.  Taking a deep breath and staring into the distance continuously, gorgeous.  I spent a lot of time sitting on the porch just looking.

Loch Goil

Loch Goil

The other wonderful thing was that it was so peaceful the sound carried and you could hear the chatter of children in canoes or people in sailing boats calling to each other as they pulled in and moored up.

Loch Goil

Loch Goil

It is a tidal loch so the scene changes as the tide comes in and out and the clouds loom and lighten and the light plays on the water.  Absolutely beautiful.

Loch Goil

Loch Goil

So one of my New Years Resolutions is to look for plenty more gorgeous views that feed the soul.

In terms of writing.  I am a sporadic writer fitting it in between other commitments and this year I haven’t written that much.  I managed 22 000 words during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) whereas last year I managed 50 000 words, but I did get to terms with Scrivener which is useful in a lot of ways.  I started quite a lot of short stories but didn’t complete and edit many of them – my big downfall.  So I would like to try and edit and complete things this year including my two half built (NaNoWriMo) novels.  I’m going to make myself report in and say what I have completed every month both with my writing group and here in my blog.  I won’t bore you to pieces but I work better with deadlines so I’m imposing some on myself.  We’ll see how it works.  I have also learnt this year that I prefer writing longer pieces to short stories. 
Of course, I will also be exploring as many places as possible in my camper van.  Watch this space.  Good luck with your hopes and dreams for the New Year.

 

 

 

 

Christmas – A Special Time

I hope you had a great Christmas.  I spent lots of time with my family.  I love Christmas.  It’s a time to make memories.  You close your eyes, breathe it all in and try to remember it all, those feelings around you.

I think that’s why I like camping too.  It’s the memories you make.  I hope that when my children are older they will remember both holidays and Christmases as a family time filled with love and happiness.  I know I do.

Happy New Year

The Darkest Night – 5 Ways to Light up the Night

  1. Lanterns – These come in a variety of forms including gas lanterns which we used when I camped as a teenager.  You need to be careful with the gas and the flame, but they give off a small amount of heat too which is nice.  Then there are battery operated lanterns which come in different sizes and wind up lanterns which can be useful, but they are quite noisy to wind up and obviously you do need to keep winding them up, which can make for a less than relaxing evening (it always happens to me in the good part of a book).  Lanterns are good for general light in a tent but aren’t necessarily the best thing for specific tasks.  They are also good for hands free tasks.
  2. Torches – These are excellent for going to the toilet in the middle of the night.  They are also good for finding things in the dark or checking guy ropes.  They are also campsite friendly as they can be aimed at the ground or what you want to see rather than lighting up everything and disturbing neighbours.  Again they come in wind up or battery operated versions and come in a variety of sizes from key ring ones which you have to hold the button down on or massive ones that can flood light an area.  They are one of the best forms of light to give a child.  They help them to feel safe and hopefully won’t disturb others in the way a lantern might as it lights everything up.
  3. Head torches – Personally I have mixed feelings about these.  They should be great, individualised light directed towards where you are looking.  But, they do have a tendency to slip and make your head itchy.  We also had a bit of an incident where one was dropped down the loo accidentally as it was taken off at the toilets.  There is also a tendency of some people to keep the light on whilst they talk to you, effectively blinding you and making you feel like you’re under interrogation.  So they are good, but they have some drawbacks.
  4. Candles – These make for great ambient light, particularly if you are sitting outside at night.  I would never personally use these inside a tent.  The citronella ones seem to be used the most frequently on campsites as they are supposed to help deter midges.  I’m not sure of the wisdom of this, as I prefer deterrent actually on me and the children, but they do make for great lights, particularly the ones on poles you can stake in the ground.
  5. Glow sticks – These are great for children and adults and are often used on Bonfire night, but can often be picked up cheaply after this.  They can also be made into necklaces and bracelets if you buy a packet with connectors.  Once again they are great for helping children enjoy the dark, but they can leak sometimes and the stuff that leaks from them is very messy.  They also can’t be turned off when they are snapped, so they will continue to glow all night long and might need to be hidden under a jumper – just make sure they aren’t leaking before you do that.

Of course camp fires and barbecues may be some sort of an option.  Then if you forget where you put all the lights when you camp as I did once, ( I found them on the second day in a safe place in the car,) you can always use the light on your Kindle case as a stop gap.  I’ve always found the best thing is to have a combination of things and just remember where you put them when you pack.