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Ellie and Me – T5 travels

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Ellie and Me – T5 travels

Postby Mary » Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:51 am

Further up ….. to Culzean Castle

I woke to another stunning sunrise, but just couldn't persuade myself to get up and take photos. Dozed off again, to wake at 07.30 to overcast skies – grey and much colder, but got up and walked Ellie along the beach again.

After packing up, I drove off northwards, stopping for a short walk to see the Kirkmadrine Stones. In a glass-fronted porch at the west end of Kirkmadrine Church is a collection of the oldest known Christian monuments in Scotland (outside Whithorn). The earliest of these stones is a pillar dating from the 400s or 500s.

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/s ... inestones/

Heading even further North, along the A77, through Stranraer, Ballantrae and then on to Girvan, I began to feel a small tremor/wobble through the steering wheel, but put it down to the poor quality of the road surface.

At a viewpoint just south of Lendalfoot, I stopped to take photos of Ailsa Craig. This volcanic island, know for the quarrying of blue hone granite for making curling stones, lies 9 miles offshore, and is known as 'Paddy's milestone', being half way between Glasgow and Belfast.
Ailsa Craig, with the Isle of Arran in the background, at right, and the mainland in the background, at left..png
Ailsa Craig, with the Isle of Arran in the background, at right, and the mainland in the background, at left.

Continuing on, we stopped in Girvan and had a bracing walk along the prom. Then a wander into the town itself. Whilst the seafront area is very nice, the town centre is a little run-down and I was disappointed not to be able to find a wet-fish shop.

Wandering around unknown towns can sometimes reveal hidden delights, such as the Knockcushan Gardens. This small, walled garden forms part of what was once the old Town House. It has a small aviary and a beautiful mosaic. I imagine that this is the perfect place to go to at lunchtime for some peace and quiet.
Mosaic in the 'hidden' Knockcushan Gardens..png
Mosaic in the 'hidden' Knockcushan Gardens.

I moved the van from the free parking on the prom into the car park at the harbour (also free), popped the top up and made lunch (soup and sarnie). It's great to be able to just pull over and within a few minutes have the kettle on the go for a cup of something hot :-)

I discovered that I could get Internet access using my 'limpet' – huzzah!

The only down-side here was the cost of using the public lavatories – 30p!!

Ow!, thirty pee
To have a wee -
That really did
Astonish me.

Onwards again, we headed off to Culzean Castle Club Site (The Camping & Caravanning Club (C&CC)).

http://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co ... zeancastle
(The wheel-wobble was getting worse – it kicked in at about 40 mph and I was starting to become a little concerned about it.)

The Culzean Castle campsite is just lovely. It's IN the grounds of the castle (not very well signposted from the road - basically, you have to follow the signs to the entrance to the castle grounds and keep an eye out for the small signs showing the way to the site.)

Most pitches are fairly level with hardstanding and the facilities are great and extremely clean: showers, toilets, washing up area, a children’s play area, laundry facilities, an outdoor drying area and recycling bins (including one for waste food – a first in all of the sites I've visited). Many of the 90 pitches have hook-ups. There are also designated dog walks.

The lady who showed me where to pitch decided against Pitch 1, telling me that, “There's not a very good view from this one”, and instead allocated me Pitch 7, which had a spectacular view out across a recently ploughed field across the Firth of Clyde to the Isle of Arran. Just gorgeous.
The view from Pitch 7 - out to Arran..png
The view from Pitch 7 - out to Arran.

Pre-warned by the site information, I knew that there wouldn't be any mobile/Internet signal here, but by hanging my 'make-your-own Wi-Fi hotspot' device up in a tree, I got signal and contacted my Brilliant Brother to discuss the wheel-wobble. We both came to the same conclusion – it would be prudent to get it checked out the next morning.

Supper: Softened shallot (can you see a pattern emerging here?), cumin, coriander (glad I took herbs and spices with me), smoked garlic, water, udon noddles, then cooled it slightly and added tinned tuna.

Lesson learned: Use any Internet connection as much as possible when you get it.

Seen: Black Grouse, Eider Duck, Rock Pipit.

Culzean Castle.
Up early (again) to bright sunshine (again). Before 07.30, Ellie and I were walking down a lovely forested path towards the castle. There was nobody in the entrance booth, nor did there appear to be a charge for walkers to enter the castle grounds.

Half an hour or so later, we came to Home Farm.
Home Farm.png

Ellie waiting for me outside the impressive entrance to Culzean Castle Home Farm.png
Ellie waiting for me outside the impressive entrance to Culzean Castle Home Farm

Along another footpath, and the castle came into view.
The castle.png

castle 2.png

It was far too early for the first tour of the interior of the castle (and I doubt that Ellie would have been allowed in!), so we wandered around the grounds and then went down to the beach below the castle.
Culzean Castle perched on the cliff-tops. .png
Culzean Castle perched on the cliff-tops. The building at bottom left is the old Gas House.

The mid-19th Century Gas House provided coal gas, then acetylene until 1947, when electric power was installed. It now houses an exhibition on early gas production.

Whilst we were walking on the beach, I noticed sea-glass in amongst the stones and seaweed. Within 10 minutes, I'd collected all of these different colours (Ellie wasn't any help at all, she was far more interested in sniffing out 'dead things', especially in the clumps of weed. Thank the gods that she didn't actually roll in anything horrid!):

Looking down from one of the woodland walks to the Gas House..png
Looking down from one of the woodland walks to the Gas House.

Culzean Castle Viaduct - designed in the 1780's to bridge the ravine as part of the main castle approach in a rather 'fanciful' way. .png
Culzean Castle Viaduct - designed in the 1780's to bridge the ravine as part of the main castle approach in a rather 'fanciful' way.

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Ellie and Me – T5 travels

Postby Mary » Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:16 am

…. and onwards to Largs (via Ayr)
(and a very important 'Lesson learned'!)

After a leisurely stroll back to the van, I got Internet connection again and started looking for somewhere fairly local to get the wheel/s looked at (I'd already looked at all of the side-walls of the tyres, but couldn't see any lumps or anything obviously wrong).

Having found three tyre businesses that might be able to help, I packed up, had a shower and drove off to Ayr.

Note: I only just made it into the shower in time to get clean before one of the Site Managers came in to clean the block. They are shut for an hour and a half each morning. Now, I'm happy about that, because this implies that a lot of deep-cleaning is done. However, I wasn't happy that he arrived early, was grumpy with me and, when he saw that Ellie was with me, he said, “Dogs aren't allowed in the toilet block”. I asked why not. He told me, “It's a hygiene thing”. I was SO tempted to say, “What? Might she catch something nasty in here, then?”. But, of course – I didn't (I don't want to be barred from all C&CC campsites – hahaha). It did annoy me a tad (all of the people that met her in the toilet blocks were happy see her). Her little paws are cleaner than most people's shoes/feet and, as I groom her daily, hair-fall in the area is far more likely to be human than dog (and I've seen plenty of the human kind, which is why I ALWAYS wear something on my feet in the toilets blocks, even in the shower. No offence meant, fellow campers. It's just that I really don't want verrucas, etc!! ;-) ). She's de-flea'd and wormed regularly and, as far as I know, she doesn't have any diseases.

Anyway – off to Ayr at a very 'controlled' speed. Wobble getting even worse. I just kept my fingers crossed (mentally, you understand) that nothing untoward happened before I got to Ayr.

The first place no longer existed - (my first choice was to NOT to go to one of those huge tyre places (having had a bad experience with one of them previously, when I sneaked in to watch what they were doing in the workshop and saw them deliberately let my (then) car drop, on the lift, from about 3 feet up and then stood there, laughing, as they watched it bounce. Needless to say, I confronted the manager of the 'shop' and he got them all to apologise to me and gave me a discount).

So – I DID have to go to a larger franchise. The guys there couldn't have been more helpful. After checking the front near-side (which needed to be re-balanced), the (young) manager removed the front off-side wheel and showed me a fairly substantial 'lump' on the tread. Something had pierced the tread (not deeply enough to actually puncture the tyre) and water had ingressed to just below the rubber. If I'd travelled on it on a motorway, there was a good chance that it would have de-laminated. Oooooh – good decision to get it checked out, but it cost me a fair few (un-budgeted for) pounds (GBP), as I decided that it would be best to get both front tyres replaced in view of the fact that I had many, many more miles to drive.

Recommended: National Tyres, Peebles Street, Ayr. I stood in the workshop and nattered to him whilst he tested, wheel-balanced, jacked the car up, investigated, found the problem and the solution. It took me about 5 minutes to adjust to his accent, but thereafter, he kept me mightily amused with tales of his and his father's motoring exploits. What a star!

Ellie was in the van the whole time. Despite the strange noises in the workshop and the things happening to the van, she was totally chilled, looking out of the window every now and again to check on where I was. Another (little) star!

Set off again – wheel-wobble gone, much to my relief.

For the first time during the Scots section of my travels, it started to rain. And rain. Having 'wasted' a good portion of the late morning getting the van sorted in Ayr, I wasn't too sure where to go next.

Ah well, I needed provisions so the obvious choice was to find somewhere to get them and to fill up with diesel. By chance, I found a Morrisons – good for both.

My original thinking was to head up to Gourock and take the ferry over to Hunter's Quay, then into Argyll and take the long, less-travelled roads up through the peninsular before heading back south to the Borders.

Internet obtained at the supermarket, I discovered that the weather forecast for my planned trip area was NOT good, nor was it likely to be so for a good few days, so I set off randomly and came across a lovely little CL (Certified Location) just outside Largs (£15 pn).

http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/sites/detai ... revid=4270

I arrived and saw a space in the 'tourer' area of the site, so went and knocked on the farmhouse door.

The (elderly) lady who runs the site told me that all of the spaces in the tourer area had been booked. At my crestfallen look, she told me, “Park yourself up in our parking area, next to the cottage, because it's wee bit wet on the grass field”. Oh, the kindness of some people. Electric hook-up included (I just had to reach over a fence to grab a connector ;-) ).

She also told me about a nice walk just down a footpath next to the farm, so Ellie and I set off to do that. It rained (again), but it was warm and some lovely scenery (but, forgot the camera, so, sorry no photos!).

Having re-supplied with provisions, I cooked myself a prawn and mushroom risotto (with fresh coriander). Risotto of this kind is (probably) what I would choose for my 'Last Supper'. Add a glass of (left-over) Chardonnay and it's ALMOST the perfect meal ;-)

Much to my surprise – my mobile rang! It was my cousin. I had no reception for outward calls, but for a few minutes I spoke with her (before the signal disappeared again). She told me a disturbing tale, so I decided to return to Mealsgate/Fletchertwon on my way back to Dent (I'd also found out that the previously mentioned 'exciting thing' was definitely happening, so I needed to be back in Dent village for the weekend of 21/22 May).

Lessons learned: If in doubt about something (especially mechanical/van worries) – get it checked out!
Calor/camping gas is SO much hotter to cook with than what I'm used to at home! I had to use nearly twice as much stock as I normally do for the risotto. Feck the cost in gas – it was yum, yum, yummy!! :-)

Seen: The inside of a National Tyres workshop (for far longer than I wanted to!)

Heard: Loads of funny tales from the mechanic.
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Ellie and Me – T5 travels

Postby Mary » Mon Jul 11, 2016 1:04 pm

Largs to Peebles to Alemoor Loch

Having fallen asleep the previous night to the soporific sound of water droplets drip, drip, dripping from the end of the van onto the rear bumper, I woke to what the Scots would call a 'Smirr' (a fine rain/drizzle). Ellie didn't seem to mind, as we took our pre-breakfast walk – her coat looked fuzzy with the tiny rain droplets and was so soft after I'd dried her off.

Showered, I was doing the washing-up, when the elderly lady owner of the CL came in to clean the showers/toilets etc. We got chatting. Poor lady – she'd been widowed the previous year (after living in the farmhouse with her husband for more than 30 years) and ran sheep, the B&B in her farmhouse, seasonal caravan pitches and the tourer area single-handed (except for a 'wee laddy' who helped her with the sheep). I asked her if she would pack it in and move somewhere else, to which she replied,”Och, it's hard, but I canna imagine living anywhere else!”. Much respect for such a determined lady.
I mentioned that I was going to head off towards the East Coast to Hawick, before heading South into the Borders and thence on to Carlisle. She laughed and said, “Why Hawick?” and proceeded to tell me of a nice route that would eventually get me there. I took her advice.

As we set off, the rain came down in earnest. I'm sure that Lanarkshire has some lovely scenery, but I saw none of it through the lashing downpours and low cloud.

The weather started to clear as we came into Peebles. I couldn't find a parking space in the town itself (there was a function of some sort going on (although I didn't see any banners/signs for it) and the place was bulging with people). I found a huge municipal carpark (free – could probably have stayed overnight if I'd wanted/needed to) and took a walk along the banks of the River Tweed.
Oh – it was a fine walk! It rained again (hissed down, in fact), but there was a whole heap of wildlife to look at/watch and not a soul to be seen on the footpath.

I'm intending to go back to Peebles at some time in the future – I'd like to spend more time there – take a wander around what looks to be a lovely town and there are lots of marked (and unmarked) trails in that area (foot, horse and bike).

After lunch (oh, the joy of taking your kitchen with you ;-) ), we headed off towards Hawick on B roads (B7062, B709 and B711). This is a scenic route that I will highly recommend to you. Single-track, with passing places, some of it reminded me of my favourite road (over Barbon) into one of my most loved places in this country (Dent, Cumbria). I met no other vehicles on the roads, so was able to pootle gently along, looking out at the views of forest, fell, rivers/burns and lochs. Stunning.

Coming to the dog-leg right junction to join the B711, I was confronted by a sign advising that the road would be closed from 08.30 until 16.00 for five days. It was after 4pm, so I set off down it. More jaw-dropping scenery along the way.

At Alemoor Loch (absolutely beautiful, peaceful spot) , I saw a large layby, with one other car in it (with a kayak roof-rack on it). Just beyond that was a narrow bridge with the 'Road Closed' information sign on it, so I decided to wild camp in the layby for the night (and get up bright and breezy the next morning so that I could continue on before the road was closed).

I'd just finished setting up when the sun came out. So off we went for a walk along the banks of the loch.
The Northern portion of Alemoor Loch.png
The Northern portion of Alemoor Loch

I was surprised not to see a sign 'Warning – Crocs!' at the bottom of the photo – hahaha (they belonged to the kayaker, who I saw powering his way up and down the entire length of the loch).
Ellie, sniffing her way along the bank of the Southern part of Alemoor Loch..png
Ellie, sniffing her way along the bank of the Southern part of Alemoor Loch

Looking back to the road bridge over Alemoor Loch.png
Looking back to the road bridge over Alemoor Loch

I could 'feel' the presence of a few midges (and did, indeed, get one bite just under my right eye!), so hastened back to the van. I immediately lit a citronella tea-light and set about making supper.

I really don't like the lingering smell of cooked onions in the van, so had to take a risk and open a couple of the windows. Fortunately, a small breeze was now blowing, which seemed to keep the little 'blighters' away!
As I had just finished browning the sausages for my sausage stew (with fresh cabbage), the kayaker came back to his car. On seeing the van, he decorously changed out of his wetsuit in his car (couldn't help but notice that he had extremely nice legs – hahaha), then, whilst he was hefting the kayak onto the roof-rack I noticed him tilt his head up and sniff the breeze – guess he caught a waft of my lovely stew cooking – hahaha.

Before retiring for the night, I lit another citronella candle, closed the windows and blocked as many of the 'ventilation' holes as I could (with socks!). Didn't get bitten again – thank goodness.

Seen (in Peebles): Thousands and THOUSANDS of mayflies over the River Tweed, fish jumping to catch them and about 20 black-headed gulls, skimming over the surface of the river (also catching them?); many swallows, herons fishing and a pair of Little Grebes.
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Ellie and Me – T5 travels

Postby Mary » Tue Jul 19, 2016 10:18 am

Alemoor Loch to Fletchertown

Awoke (06.30) to find the van completely enveloped/enshrouded/enclosed by thick mist! Calm, peaceful, almost silent. Short of a hurricane, I experienced every type of weather during these 5+-weeks of travel (touch wood – mustn’t tempt fate for future trips).

Conscious of the fact that I had to be ready to go before the road ahead closed at 08.30, I began to pack up, walk Ellie, carry out my ablutions etc. in good time. I was nearly ready to go, with a cuppa in hand, when a vehicle sped past at high speed, coming to a screeching halt just before the bridge. Through the mist, which was thickening and thinning in a weird sort of pulsing rhythm (organic, strange, not exactly scary but 'different') I could see a Highways Maintenance vehicle. A chap jumped out and put up the Road Closed sign. “It's 07.30, NOT 08.30 – what a bar steward”, was my exact thought.

Thus, I was forced to reconsider my onward path. Instead of pushing on further East, I took a careful drive, through the mist, back along the B709 and then turned left onto the A708 road to Grey Mare's Tail falls.

Grey Mare's Tail is a 60-metre 'hanging valley' waterfall (the fifth highest in the UK) near to Moffat in southern Scotland. The fall is produced by the Tail Burn flowing from Loch Skeen cascading into the Moffat Water in the lower valley below.

During a succession of Ice Ages over the past 2 million years, massive ice sheets covered the land. Like giant ice rivers, these glaciers slowly moved and the ground beneath was scraped out and eroded by the rocks they carried. When the last glacier receded back up into the hills, it left deposits of silt, pebbles and boulders, known as moraines. These can be seen, clearly, on the sides of the valley.

As we left the van I heard the distinctive call of a peregrine falcon. It was an unexpected pleasure. I knew that the area was a known breeding ground, but didn't expect to hear one.

Just a short way away from the car park (admission is free, but visitors are encouraged to support the work of National Trust for Scotland (NTS) by joining or making a donation (I did the latter)), you can see the Tail Burn 'fort', an Iron Age earthwork. Although it has long been known as the 'Giant's Grave' it is not a burial mound, and may be defensive or perhaps even a ritual site.

It was drizzling, but we walked part-way up the path to the falls to take some photos.
Grey Mare's Tail falls.png
Grey Mare's Tail falls

Looking out over the valley from the falls.png
Looking out over the valley from the falls

I would have taken the opportunity to walk up to Loch Skeen and White Coomb if the weather had been more clement. Another time.

Heading back down to the van, I frantically began to look for a Ladies' Bush/Stone/hidden hollow, but there were none to be found. Also – there were two Rangers repairing the steep, stone step pathways to the top of the falls, and there was no cover to be seen anywhere. So it was with much regret that I had to pull down the blinds and use the Porta-Potty for the first time on the trip. I had hoped not to have to use it whilst travelling, but needs must when the devil drives. Fortunately, I'd forced myself to 'charge' it before I left home.

Lesson learned/confirmed: Fill the water reservoir of the Porta-Potty (even if you don't think you're going to use it!) and make sure you have the 'necessary' for the bottom cassette. I use a gel sachet of Aldi's bio washing liquid (much less harmful to the environment than the usual 'blue' or 'pink' liquid) and I'm going to look into getting some eco-friendly substance.

Although there were short breaks in the cloud/rain, in the back of my mind was still lurking the horrid situation that my cousin Jan now found herself in, so set the SatNav to go to her house and set off. Gentle pace, no rush, enjoying the scenery as we went.

The traffic was considerate to us and we arrived mid-afternoon. I love visiting Jan and she was obviously happy to see us again!!

During the (all too short) visit, there was another Pork Fest (some 'newbies' to the chef-ing crew, but, again, much chaos and merriment), an amusing morning spent helping Pippa (Jan's sometime lodger) to get all (sorry, most) of her belongings into her newly purchased van (I suggested that it would take 2 hours. She was sceptical. It took just over two hours.) And an absolutely splendid meal at the Royal Outpost Thai & Malaysian Restaurant, Carlisle.

Highly recommended: http://royaloutpost.co.uk/
Royal Outpost, Botchergate, Carlisle.png
Royal Outpost, Botchergate, Carlisle

The décor at the Royal Outpost is an unusual mix of 'medieval' and Eastern. Sounds strange? Actually, I found it sat well on the eye. The staff were very friendly and not overly attentive. The food was pretty darn good. In the party of diners there were several virgin Thai food eaters (all eager to give it a go!). With a little assistance from my good self, everybody really enjoyed their meal. Portions are very fair. Nothing left and nobody leaving still felling hungry or feeling 'stuffed'!
Botchergate is rather a strange road in Carlisle. Oh, the sights! It reminded me of some of the streets in Liverpool (please don't be offended, my Liverpudlian friends!!), with many bars, pubs and clubs. Skirts were short, the drinking was of the 'heavy' variety and the road is closed in the evenings, to prevent vehicles colliding with those who may have 'imbibed' a little too many potent beverages. Having said that, everybody was very friendly and apart from overhearing a couple of 'couples' arguments' it seems to be a lively, happy, outgoing area.

And then …. back to Dent. And a once-in-a-lifetime experience with well-loved friends. But that will be in the next instalment (ooooh, am I getting the hang of this blogging stuff? Is that's what's known as a 'teaser'?) :-D
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Ellie and Me – T5 travels

Postby Mary » Fri Jul 29, 2016 10:21 am

Fletchertown to Dent (again)
And …. an Amazing Opportunity

Having visited my cousin Jan for a few days and being relatively re-assured that she was ok, I drove back to Dent.
Arriving on a Saturday gave me plenty of time to catch up with friends and rehearse.
Now, I play the guitar and sing, but having spent a few years doing the rounds of open-mics, sessions and paid gigs, I rarely play 'out' any more – guess I've just lost my musical 'mojo'.

One of the reasons for returning to Dent was that there was going to be a live broadcast from the Sun Inn for the BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine Show.
Mr. Vine was doing a three-show series 'Village, Town, City', asking local people their opinions on the (then) forthcoming EU Referendum and Dent had been chosen as the 'Village' broadcast.
The local band, 'Out of the Sun', had been asked to perform live to 'play out' the show, along with our good friend Blanty. I'd been invited to add harmonies.
The show was scheduled to be aired on Monday 23rd May, which gave us two days of 'rehearsals' and two evenings of playing music in the pub. Joy! :thunbsup

There were two groups of bikers staying in the village over that weekend (one each at the two main campsites). They were delighted that we would be playing live music both on the Saturday AND Sunday in the Sun. :applause
The biker crowds are always great fun (and lovely gentlemen/ladies) and we were as entertained by them as much as they were by us. A prime example was when three of the bikers gals grabbed the display of copper teapots/kettles from the mantelpiece in the pub and pretended to play them (much to the dis-concern of one of the bar staff, but all was well, it was all done in the best possible taste and no 'instrument was damaged' :thumbsup ). There was a lot of dancing and joining in going on as well. Isn't that the point of playing music in a pub?

Some of the BBC Radio 2 crew were there – maybe checking us out to make SURE that we were good enough to play live?

There is no photographic evidence of the jolly japes on those two evenings, but even though there was a great deal of ale quaffed I can assure you that there was much mirth, everybody had a good time and nobody hurt themselves.

The following morning, I helped Wendy and Mick serve breakfast to some (lots!) of the bikers, who came into the farmhouse kitchen looking a little 'worse for wear' and left looking a heck of a lot better! Tea (the nectar of the gods and universal restorer) and Mick's breakfasts did the trick!
A typical breakfast cooked by the amazing host at Conder Farm, Mick.png
A typical breakfast cooked by the amazing host at Conder Farm, Mick
Credit: Mike Perrett

Whilst I was keeping the teapots full, the bikers were discussing the possibility of printing a book of their exploits (well, they decided that there would be two – one 'clean' and one more honest!).

Of all of the tales they told (all true) this one, in particular, had me in stitches:

A member of the group had managed to purchase a gross (144) of see-though plastic macs (at a very reasonable price), which he generously gave to other members. One evening, he put on his mac, and nothing else, and trundled off to the pub. Approaching the bar, he asked the lady who was serving, “May I have a pint of bitter, please?”. “Sorry, no”, replied the lady. “Why not? Is it the way I'm dressed?”, asked the biker. “Certainly not”, she replied, “it's just that I can see that you don't have any money!” :lol:

So, after two days of mega serious playing (and drinking), Monday arrived. We were asked (by one of the show's Producers (who loved Dent and had suggested it for the Village broadcast)) to play the song, 'Whisky on a Sunday', which we knew but which wasn't a regular in our 'repertoire', but we had a few hours in which to get it right.
Rehearsing in the Sun Inn, Dent (Roger, the fifth member of the band, must have been 'taking a break'!).png
Rehearsing in the Sun Inn, Dent (Roger, the fifth member of the band, must have been 'taking a break'!)
Credit: Shell Sedgwick

The time came. We all (five of us) crowded into the area where Jeremy, his crew, the broadcasting equipment and a couple of locals (who had just been interviewed) were sitting and then … we were silently counted in and were on!!
Just about to go live – yikes! I'm hiding in the left-hand corner, standing as I wasn't playing an instrument so didn't need a seat...png
Just about to go live – yikes! I'm hiding in the left-hand corner, standing as I wasn't playing an instrument so didn't need a seat..
Credit: Shell Sedgwick

I have to say that I was VERY nervous prior to the broadcast (I think we all were, especially Roger, who'd never played the song before), but when we were on air, during the song it was if the rest of the world had just slipped away, distant, of no consequence as our instruments and voices blended - as they always do when we play together.

Wow – we played live to a potential audience of 8 million listeners!! No offers of a recording deal yet, though :wink

The BBC Radio 2 podcast of the programme is no longer available, but the following link might take you to a recording of 'our bit' in the show (Credit: Betty Beckett (thanks for the video and for looking after Ellie whilst I sang!!)). Apologies if the link doesn't work :scratc

https://www.facebook.com/bettybecket/vi ... 096027526/
Note: You won't see me in this video – I'm 'hiding' in the left-hand corner, but I reckon you'll be able to hear me singing, being the only female in the band – hehehe.

Afterwards, we were still 'buzzing', so went out to the pub's beer garden and carried on playing.

What a wonderful bunch of musician friends I have :kiss
I'm taking the photo – hahaha..png
From left to right: Steve (didn't play on the broadcast, but is learning fast!), Blanty (guitar, vocals (also known as the 'Human Jukebox')), Matt (guitar, dobro, vocals), Dusty (mandolin), Roger (guitar). I'm taking the photo – hahaha.

Lesson learned: Accept and enjoy every opportunity that is offered to you as you go through life.

Note: I found myself looking in the corner of the pub where Little Mick used to sit, still expecting him to be there, poring over the crossword, half of Guinness in one hand, crossword puzzle gadget in the other hand.

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Re: Ellie and Me – T5 travels

Postby Mary » Sat Nov 19, 2016 5:48 pm

The last leg(s)

After all of the excitement of the last 4+ weeks, it was time to be thinking about heading homewards. But there was one last side-trip to do.

My parents had rented a holiday cottage near Berrow, in the Malvern Hills. They've stayed at the cottage many times before and the owner, Jim (he also has an honesty based camping area, pitches for campervans/motorhomes and van storage), had kindly said that I could park the van up outside and sleep in it. Result!!

So I bid farewell to all of my lovely friends in Dent and set off for Worcestershire.

My 'fossils' (as I call them) were very happy to see me and after setting up, we went for dinner at the excellent Farmers Arms, Birtsmorton (http://www.farmersarmsbirtsmorton.co.uk/). The food was good, pub grub, the staff are both people- and dog-friendly and the beer is excellent!

The following day, we pottered and paid a visit to Ledbury, via the ruins of Bronsil Castle.
Moat and ruins of Bronsil Castle – not easily found – you have to know where to look (or have a Dad with you who knows where it is!!).png
Moat and ruins of Bronsil Castle – not easily found – you have to know where to look (or have a Dad with you who knows where it is!!)

I'm shocked that I've never been to Ledbury before! It has has a significant number of timber-framed buildings, in particular along Church Lane and High Street.
Looking down Church Lane, Ledbury (there are probably millions of photos of this view  out there!).png
Looking down Church Lane, Ledbury (there are probably millions of photos of this view out there!)

And looking up Church Lane to the steeple of St Michael and All Angels Church, Ledbury.png
And looking up Church Lane to the steeple of St Michael and All Angels Church, Ledbury

St Michael and All Angels Church, Ledbury.png
St Michael and All Angels Church, Ledbury

One of my parents' little 'treats to themselves' when on holiday is a Greggs sausage roll for lunch. As fortune has it, Ledbury has a Greggs, and so we partook:
My parents outside The Market House, Ledbury (at right, looking after Ellie for me) enjoying their sausage rolls..png
My parents outside The Market House, Ledbury (at right, looking after Ellie for me) enjoying their sausage rolls.

A dilemma for me with this photo: get the lines on the Market House horizontal, or get the road/curb horizontal? It would appear that I managed neither :-( BUT – I do rather like the fact that I managed to get the black and white pattern of the building reflected off the car windscreen in the bottom left-hand corner :-)

Evening - and it was time for me to take my Dad for a pint, whilst Mum cooked – great to catch up with him and show him some photos of my travel on my tablet in the pub.

Lesson learned: Don't leave the 'fridge on the highest setting (7 (not 11)) when travelling – it's not good for the salad in there.

Heard: Owls hooting, whilst Dad and I had a 'wee dram' outside the cottage late at night – magic.

I'd decided to travel back home overnight on the Thursday, as the following day was a Bank Holiday Friday and I thought I might avoid the majority of the traffic. There was plenty of time to take Ellie for a nice walk on the local common before we left.
Looking up to the Malvern Hills – green and lovely.png
Looking up to the Malvern Hills – green and lovely

I'm going to skip over the journey back. Far from being easier travelling overnight, I was faced with numerous road closures, long diversions (which ruined my mpg, my anticipated travel time and my temper!) and the increasingly looming prospect of a 'normal life'. Hmmmppphhh.

In conclusion: I arrived home with a huge list of things to do/not to do, to add to/remove from the things I take with me, five loads of washing, an enormous pile of awaiting post (90% of which was junk – thank goodness) and to reflect on all of the wonderful experiences I've had (and to share them with you), but, above all, the desire that – I WANT TO GO AWAY AGAIN NOW!!

There are many good reasons to go on solo adventures – sometimes because you need to, sometimes because there is no option but to go solo – and, with a free mind and basic requirements it can be a fulfilling, almost spiritual, experience. For me, it's a battery re-charger and a way of confirming/advancing me as a person (sorry to go all new-age on you, but for me it's true!!).

Is this the end? Oh no – right now I'm planning my next trip. I'll be leaving soon.

I'll let you know how I get on. Hope you'll 'journey with me' (as one friend put it) in my next bog.

Hugs to you all (and we all need hugs). :kiss

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