A-Z Blog Challenge – D is for Drewe

Drewe sipped his tea and watched the doorway oblivious of the people around him.  He was hoping she would be there this evening.  She was absent last week, though her friend had come and partnered Robin.  There was no sign of either of them.

“Come on we need to find someone to play,” Teddy his partner said.

“Let’s just wait, one moment.  Ah!  They’re here.  Can we play Carol and her partner?”

“Sure, yes, if you want to.  If they want to.”  Teddy looked at Drewe’s flushed cheeks and huge grin.  “You do know she’s married don’t you?  You’re not going to do anything silly are you?”

“Who me?”  Drewe’s already flushed face deepened in colour.  He stared into his lap.  “I…I just like her.  She’s nice.  Good company.”

“Come on then, we better go and speak to them before they start a game with someone else.  Just try not to get your heart broken, lover boy.  We’re all getting a bit long in the tooth for that.”

Drewe followed behind but didn’t say anything.


A-Z Blog Challenge – C is for Carol

Carol plumped the cushions up and arranged them along the back of the sofa.

“Nearly done here Bernard.  Would you like a cup of tea?  I’ve time for a bit of a chat.”

“That would be great Carol.  I think there are some biscuits in the cupboards too.”

“There you go, a nice cup of tea and look what I found, chocolate Hobnobs, my favourite.”

Bernard grinned.  “Well if I can’t buy my little sister her favourite biscuits in return for helping me out then what can I do?  Here, help yourself.”

“Oh it’s nothing Bernard.  I like to help.”  Carol savoured the biscuit.  “Evan likes to have a little moan about me coming over, you know what he’s like.  But I’ve told him, Bernard’s my brother and he’s on his own now.  He needs my help.  We’re family.”

“I appreciate it Carol, I really do.  But what I like most of all Carol is seeing you.  Now how’s everything else?  Do you still go and play Bridge with your friend?”

“Well, I try to go most weeks but sometimes Evan gets a bit funny you know.  He’s very protective.  It’s only because he loves me.”

“Oh Carol, you love playing Bridge.  You know you do.  You’ve always been a bit of a whizz.  And I bet your friend misses you when you don’t go, doesn’t she?”

“Well, yes…”

“Promise me you’ll go.  Promise me!”

“Well, I’ll try Bernard.  I’ll try.  But sometimes I just don’t want to argue.”  Carol got up and moved the cups and the rest of the biscuits into the kitchen.  She washed the cups up and reached for her coat and bag.

Bernard gave her a big hug.  “Take care Carol.  Now, I will see you next week won’t I.  I have a bit of paperwork I need a hand with, something to do with online payments.  I’ll need your help.”

“Of course.  I’ll ring you during the week.  Bye!”

Carol walked briskly home.  Evan would be waiting.


A-Z Blog Challenge – B is for Bernard

Bernard reached down to pick up the home made card from his granddaughter Alice.  It had fallen off the mantelpiece.  He rested it back against the clock and smiled.  The rest of his birthday cards had long gone, but he didn’t have the heart to throw this one away with the picture Alice had drawn of the two of them, complete with big smiles.  There was a big tree behind them and he wondered if it was supposed to be the woods where they liked to go for a walk, though some days it was more of a shuffle for Bernard, to the nearest bench.  Alice was always so patient though.

Bernard made another cup of tea and sat down.  And then he remembered….  It was Carol’s day to come tomorrow, he better get ready.

Bernard glanced around the living room.  It was far too tidy.  He moved the carefully plumped, symmetrical cushions into a heap at one end of the sofa.  He got his newspapers out of the rack and artfully folded them back into various positions placing them around the room.

“Mmmm!  Not too bad.  Now the kitchen.”

Bernard had already washed up after tea and everything had been wiped and put away.  He had always been fairly neat and tidy, even when Betty was alive, and especially towards the end.  It was nice to feel in control of something.

He made another cup of tea and dripped the tea bag over the surfaces and around the sink before sloshing the drink all over the place and then throwing it away.  He got some food out of the cupboard and left it on the side.  He took some clean plates and cutlery and plonked them on the draining board.  He must remember not to wash up the breakfast things in the morning.  Then he stood back to eye up his now dishevelled kitchen.

“Not bad, not bad.”

A-Z Blog Challenge – A is for Alice

Alice stared out of the window as the rain spattered on the pane.  She rested her forehead against the cool glass, brushing her plaits back over her shoulders.  She sighed.

Alice tried hard to ignore the noises from inside.  The sharp bangs and raised voices intruded.  Her finger traced the path of one raindrop coursing downwards.

“No I won’t!” her brother shouted.  His heavy footsteps resonated on the stairs and she waited for the door to bang.  She peered outwards and upwards looking for the sun.

Her parents hushed voices gradually rose from a soothing wash to an irritating buzz.  Alice ground her teeth waiting for what was coming.  The tree outside stood tall and still.

“Alice!  Alice?”  Alice pulled away from the window and whispered “I hope it stops raining soon.”

VW wave

I will be doing an A-Z Blogging Challenge this April.  I will save all of the posts onto a separate tab at the top of my blog.  I will be writing some fiction posts which will hopefully link together.  Don’t worry, I won’t stop blogging about Edna, but I thought it was time to do some writing in this Camping and Writing blog.  I hope you’ll take a peek.  I’m a little nervous about this.

Now I have a VW Camper Van other Camper Vans, particularly VWs will often wave as we go past or sometimes hoot their horn.  This is lovely and the children think it is great too.  We feel like we’re part of a special club.  However, there are some difficulties with this.  There are a lot of VW vans around.  They seem to fall into three categories –  normal vans, often owned by plumbers or small businesses, people carriers with lots of seats and camper vans.  We are quite new to this though and often it is quite difficult to tell whether first of all a van is a VW and then if it’s a camper rather than a people carrier or tradesman.  This is especially true when one is driving towards you on the opposite side of the road.  You have to make a split decision, do I wave or not.  So the past few weeks has had me waving at quite a few random people who after I have passed I have realised weren’t camper vans.  I am getting better at doing this, though I should remember only to do it in the Camper and not when I’m driving the husband’s car.  I tend to look for the roof now, it seems to be the easiest thing to spot from the front, but just in case, if you’re a plumber in a VW van watch out for me.  I’ll be the one waving enthusiastically in a Camper Van called Edna.

Sleeping Bags and the Roof

First of all thanks to the new people who are following me (waves).  And thanks to those who have wished me well.

We got back on the Monday from Edna’s little adventure and the sleeping bags had arrived.  I also ordered a new folding chair and a folding stool with a top so it can be used as a little table.  I’ll let you know if the chair and stool are any good in the future when the weather is good enough to sit out and use them.  The sleeping bags look good.  My son’s looks very warm and cosy it’s a four season mummy shaped one.  I got envelope ones for my daughter and myself and when they arrived I realised they were two versions of the same sleeping bag, one green and one blue except one is the extra large version.  I got that one thinking of myself, as I’m quite tall and some sleeping bags won’t allow me to stretch out fully and still have the sleeping bag up around my ears.  My daughter would have rather had pink or purple but unfortunately they didn’t do them in those colours.  When we actually saw them in the flesh I went immediately for the green one with a tartan inside and a cotton flannelette feeling to it and my daughter preferred the blue with the geometric pattern inside and a slightly more crinkly noisy feel to it.  Guess what?  She’s got the longer one.  We’ll see how we go that way round, maybe we’ll swap in the future.

We definitely chose the right weekend to go.  According to my probably not very accurate weather on my phone we had night temperatures of about 7 degrees when we were away, but it’s been around 1 and 0 since then around here, with a couple of 2 and 3s.  The good news is more camp sites open up towards the end of March and April, but I’m sure that will mean it’ll get busier.  I need to plan busier places for quieter times and head for smaller sites during busy times.

I took the camper van back to where we got her from on the Friday.  I explained about the roof and was really relieved that the problem wasn’t me.  There was a problem with the catch so they replaced it completely.  It works even easier than before now.  They were very quick to remedy the problem and it’s reassuring to know that they would always deal with problems efficiently.  I definitely feel safe in their hands.  Apparently, it’s very unusual to have a problem with the roof like that.  I kind of guessed I might be unusual.

So, Edna is raring to go.  I had a lot of washing to do and I’ve stored some of the lighter sleeping bags for Summer.  Oh, and of course the other big news is that my Dad and his wife have just bought a big motor home and are planning on visiting France and maybe Italy next week.  I think how long they’ll go for will depend on how they find it.  This is a first for them.  My Dad used to camp in France with us as children in a big orange and brown canvas tent, but he’s never had a camper van or motor home.  It’s gold and pretty big and it’s called Les ( Les Cargot).  A very clever name.

I haven’t forgotten the Lake Vyrnwy photos.  I’ll post them soon.

Edna’s First Camping Trip (day 2 and 3)

Delamere Forest 0314

So after our square sausages we set off to explore the woods which led off from the campsite.  We went for a bit of a walk and had a look at the Go Ape course, but then we decided to find the bike hire place in case we ended up walking where we were going to cycle later.  My daughter had been really looking forward to hiring bikes as she hasn’t had much practise riding and her bike is now too small for her.  We found the bike hire place and I found out I had to pay an adult price for my son as he is tall enough for an adult bike now.  We were fitted for bikes and helmets and shown our gears, thumb for easier and finger for harder.  Back brake, front brake, always use your back brake and never your front brake.

So, off we went.  My daughter was a bit wobbily at first and needed a lot of reassurance to keep going.  She gritted her teeth though and kept at it.  She’s very determined when she wants to be.  She struggled a bit with the hills though and had to get off and walk up a fairly big one.  I’ll be honest so did I.  The smaller slopes were okay , but this was a bit steeper.  Anyway, we got to the top and decided to go down the hill and look for a path a bit flatter.

We went in the order we had been in all morning, my son first, then my daughter and me at the rear, so I could see if my daughter was struggling.  I reminded my daughter as I had all morning, “back brake, back brake, use your back brake.”  So we came down the hill using our brakes, and my daughter panicked and used the front brake too and flew off her bike.  There’s that horrible moment when you see something like that happen but you can’t stop it or get there quick enough.  She landed with a right whack on her arm.  A lovely couple with their two small children were nearby and came to see if we were alright.  My little girl was really shaken up and we decided to return the bikes.  She held her arm in a funny way all the way back and the nice lady wheeled her bike for us.  They were staying at the same campsite as us.  She was very pale and still in a lot of pain.  I asked the other lady’s opinion and she said it was better to check it out and I agreed.  She asked the bike hire place if someone could give us a lift back to the campsite and they did.  I then went to reception at the campsite and confirmed the nearest A and E was at the hospital in Chester.

We spent three hours at A and E where they told us that fortunately her arm wasn’t broken and suggested Calpol or Nurofen for the next 24 hours.  Relieved, but hungry, she had hurt her arm at 12:00 and we were told not to let her eat or drink until she had been seen, so at nearly 4:00pm we raided Edna’s fridge in the car park and made our way back to the campsite.  The children were determined that we were going to carry on and not go home.

We got back to the campsite and went to pop Edna’s roof up but it wouldn’t go up.  The left side did but the right side wouldn’t unclick.  I tried several times and by this stage was feeling pretty exhausted and emotional.  I eventually made the decision that it wasn’t going to go up so we had two options, to go home or try to sleep without the bed in the roof.  Did I mention that my kids didn’t want to give up?  So my son cooked pasta for tea with chopped tomatoes and one of those big smoked sausage type things chopped up in it.  My daughter didn’t want to try and sleep across the front seats and I thought her arm might still be hurting her so my son offered to try and sleep across the front seats.  He managed it for a couple of hours and then joined us in the double bed.  It was fairly cosy, but we were all so exhausted that we slept soundly until morning and were pretty warm too.  There was a fair bit of condensation though.

Morning was bacon sandwiches time and after a lot slower morning than the previous day, we were all feeling refreshed after some much needed sleep and ready for a better day.  We left and headed for the Anderton Boat Lift.  http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/Anderton-boat-lift  We had a brilliant day out.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it said the boat trips weren’t running yet on the information leaflet, yet when we got there they were running them early, though we couldn’t go on the actual lift just up and down the River Weaver.  The gentleman who did the commentary was brilliant.  He lived and breathed the local area and was extremely knowledgeable.  The lift has an exhibition and it joins the River Weaver to the Trent and Mersey Canal.  It was originally built to help carry salt from the area and was a hydraulic lift but it became electric later.  It was falling apart and then a short while back they decided that instead of letting it fall apart they would restore it.  It’s a great bit of industrial engineering.  In the area is also a country park and the canal has a marina a short walk along.  There’s plenty to see another time so we have decided to return another day when the lift is open and explore the country park and canal a little bit more.  They also had a nice gift shop with a good assortment of books and gifts which didn’t all cost a small fortune.  We were home by 4:30pm ready to see their Dad and tell him about their weekend.

Anderton Boat Lift

So that was our first camping trip in Edna.  A suspected broken arm and the roof didn’t work.  As my Dad once said to me, “it’s not about the mess you get into, but how you handle it when you’re in it and how you get out of it.”  I think we managed quite well.  I’m glad we went to the hospital because otherwise I would have worried that she had broken her arm and we were a lot warmer without the roof popped up.  It was a memorable first outing.  The best view was of the boat lift.  Would I do it again?  Of course.  Just give me a bit of time to recover but I’m planning the next adventure already.

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

Camping and Forgetting Things

So after some set backs earlier in the week I found another camp site and booked it.  Since then we’ve had these foggy colder mornings, so I’m hoping it’s not going to be too cold.  It’s a bit of the unknown though.  I’m not sure how warm the camper van will be and I keep writing check lists in the hope that I don’t forget anything.  I probably will, but most things you can get around.  I think I’m just a bit worried it won’t be as great as I hoped.  I just have to remember that I loved it when we rented the camper van and I’ve forgotten a lot of things before whilst I’ve been camping but it’s never been a failure because of that. 

I quite often forget night clothes when I go away and have to transform some tracksuit bottoms into pyjamas or a t-shirt into a nightie.  I usually remember to check the children’s though, so it’s only normally me.  We once forgot the tin opener and had to ask some people at another tent to borrow theirs.  They were ever so lovely and actually came past our tent the next morning and asked us if we needed it again for breakfast.  When we first started camping we didn’t have chairs and we just sat on picnic blankets the whole time, and early on I once forgot to pack cups and the children had drinking chocolate out of bowls, very continental.  Have you ever forgotten something really important?

I have never forgotten the tent or the pegs though, or even the sleeping bags or air mattresses/sleeping mats.  I’m just a little bit nervous, but excited too.  Nearly everything is ready and hopefully our new sleeping bags which are a bit thicker will arrive before we go tomorrow.  I ordered them on Monday next day delivery and they didn’t arrive on Tuesday.  So I rang them up on Wednesday and they said they were out of stock on one of the additional items I’d ordered.  I asked if I could have the order without that and they said certainly and told me I would have it the next day, Thursday and promised not to charge me for next day delivery.  Nothing arrived today, but on their website it says my order will arrive tomorrow between 06:30 and 19:00.  Well, we’re hoping to leave by 5:00pm so you never know.  We can still use our older sleeping bags and take some extra blankets and things anyway.

So, work tomorrow and school for the children and then we’ll see how quickly we can get away.  It’ll be a proper test because it does take a while to strike camp in a tent so we’ll see how quickly we can get ready in Edna.  I’ll report back next week with some pictures.

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.