Preparing for departure

It might seem like early days yet but we don’t want to be unprepared when the time comes. The passport applications are in the post. Today our EHIC cards arrived.

Mr Snail has been working through the intricacies of what is and is not Law regarding motor vehicles in France. His checklist is looking good – we have Triangle, Fluorescent Jackets, First Aid Kit etc. 

There is much misinformation regarding what is required to travel abroad. For instance, many people will say that a First Aid Kit is a requirement but apparently it is not. As for the Breathalysers… well, we have ordered a set as they appear to be a sensible idea. We still need a GB sticker as we lack Euro-style number plates and we need a bulb set for Vincent. It is not a legal requirement to carry one, as is often suggested, however it is a legal requirement to instantly change a faulty bulb for a good one.

The Awning has finally been tested. It works, though is dirty, tatty in places and doesn’t not fit back in properly after being wound out. It will no doubt do us though as we are not really awning-type people.

The biggest news that we have to report at this stage is that we appear to have buyers for our house. Our pan to go away to France for six months and then to return and prepare the house and put it on the market in the spring of next year is now in need of updating.

We are unsure at this point whether we will fully embrace the full-time lifestyle or if we will buy a new, smaller, house. We are keeping one eye on the property market and have some likely candidates here on the island, in Aberdeenshire and down in the Southern Uplands. At the same time, we are researching the French property market too.

Of course the fact that we might be selling the house means that our departure date is now in question. That is not a problem as the Shuttle tickets can easily be changed. Everything is very much up in the air and all the cards are currently face down. Only time will tell what is what,

Still to do: Nell’s immunisation boosters, Vincent’s MOT, all the things that have not yet been thought of, and French lessons.

A little change here, a tiny tweak there…

You may recall that when we were  down south over the winter there was a slight argument with a large boulder, resulting in damage to  that part of Vincent that I never knew how to name. Well, it turns out that it is called a bumper cover.

We  bought some materials at a B&Q somewhere and eventually a repair was effected after we got home, having driven many miles with the thing held together with waterproof tape.

Unfortunately another wee accident recently not only ripped the original repair apart but did further damage. When research showed that the ugly plastic thing on the front actually hid a perfectly nice chrome bumper beneath, Mr Snail did the only sensible thing and discarded the offending material.

That was just one of the many tasks that he has been engaged in. I doubt that I can remember them all and no doubt he should probably write up this stuff himself in order to have an accurate record but here goes, I’ll do my best:

  • bumper cover removed
  • chrome bumper polished
  • trim from above the bumper removed, rejuvenated and awaiting replacing
  • new rear camera fitted, to work with GPS
  • old radio removed and  
  • new radio fitted
  • new runners fitted to galley drawers
  • replaced broken cupholder with new one
  • issue with table leg resolved
  • bathroom doorknob fixed so it no longer falls off every five minutes
  • replaced broken sink drain
  • waterpump adjusted
  • passenger seat behind driver removed and
  • replaced with a cupboard unit sourced from our bathroom
  • reversing light replaced
  • replaced fiddly wee doorknobs wii’ summat to grab hold of
  • repaired ceiling fan
  • replaced dodgy outdoor locker handle
  • released sticking gas valve
  • repaired leaky air suspension
  • single power socket in glazed top cabinet aboved wardrobe replaced by a double. Cupboard now designated for electronics storage and safe recharging station.
  • moved thermostat to accommodate new cupboard unit
  • removed superfluous seatbelt mountings

The latest job is an attempt to resolve the radio interference caused by installing the solar panel. The manufacturers say that the issue is to do with the connecting cables and suggest shielding them with aluminium foil.

Tasks remaining:

  • Fit new front fog lights, when they arrive
  • Replace ducts on Eberspächer when they are delivered
  • Fit magnetic locks to drawers as required
  • Fit new wipers – awaiting vendor’s reply as they sent a mismatched pair.
  • ?

The bathroom cupboard is providing a no-cost proof of concept. If things do not work out we can simply junk it on the way south. If it works well we may replace it with something a little more attractive and possibly with slightly more volume.

The van’s MOT is due in August but that is a little close to Le Depart so we will probably take Vincent over to Kirkwall a little earlier than necessary and will be booking that in fairly soon now.

Two door cupboard has one dividing shelf inside and a drawer above

So far I am liking the change with the seat out and cupboard in. We have not gained a great deal of space as the storage below the seat has gone and we can no longer access our bottle store in the seat arm. There is however some additional storage space and all of it is more accessible than the previous arrangement. The van feels more spacious too, with more room for manoeuvre on entering the habitation door.

Not exactly sure yet on how we will use the storage but current ideas include housing our toiletries in the top drawer now that they are displaced from what is now the charging cupboard. We may need to fit a few bottles of wine in the bottom… but mainly I think we shall have a shelf each for our clothes, freeing up the rear clockers for some kitchen items, spare bedding and a pair of camp chairs.

There are no excuses

Will I ever get this blog up to date? I doubt it.  There is much to tell and events keep overtaking me.

Let us begin with today, as there is Big News, then I shall backtrack and introduce some recent events in pots to come over the next few days.

Today we exchanged our Tesco vouchers for Shuttle ticket vouchers, which we then immediately spent on our crossing tickets. We now have a booking in September to cross to France, with a return journey booked at the end of March next year.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent in filling in passport forms. We have found somebody to both take our photos and sign them for us and this we will do early next week.

Next up: a post about Vincent and some of the work that has been carried out since we last came home.

Vincent’s Facelift

Vincent is losing his satellite dish today. After all, we don’t use it and would not. We are going to put his roof space to better use and he is therefore getting a solar panel fitted instead.

We will be able to test the installation next weekend when we go over to the Orkney Folk Festival.

I really must write up our journey home from D&G before we go away so that I can be a little more up to speed when I have that trip to do as well.

Today I woke with the intention of finding a way to move the images from my laptop onto the PC to help me do the articles more easily and more quickly. I switched on my PC, which promptly failed to boot. So, here I am, back on the lappie and struggling with Lightroom and WordPress with a small screen, stupid flat keyboard etc.

Looking on the bright side, at least I have access to the right images!

If the PC cannot be fixed I can at least make progress on the project, albeit more slowly than I had intended.

Vincent has had lots of little repairs and improvements since we came home. I shall try to get Mr Snail to write ’em up.

Going Home

We said goodbye to Kippford on Wednesday 29th March. Having packed the van there seemed little point in prolonging the agony. We turned Vincent towards the Galloway Forest Park and went to visit  with the Red Deer. Mother Nature ensured that the weather was absolutely as bad as the last time that we visited, though perhaps a touch warmer this time.

Arran, having cast his antlers

Spike still had his antlers but was allowing Arran to rule the roost anyway

On Thursday we drove over to Glentrool, where Nell and Mr Snail enjoyed the full circular walk around the loch in the rain. I had things to do, so did them and then walked out in the opposite direction to meet the walkers on their return. It was a misty landscape by then, a little less than wet.

Loch Trool

We were due to catch a 7:00 am ferry on Saturday morning at Ardrossan so travelled over to the West coast on Friday with the intention of finding a stopover close to the ferry port.

There was much wincing as we travelled over some extremely poor road surfaces on our way but the rain had finally ceased and the sun was shining for the most part. We drove through Barrhill (where we had once tried to buy a house), played a little in Girvan, and then went into Ayr for a spot of Tesco action so that we would be fully supplied on Arran.

I dislike Ayr. It is not just a dump, there are also personal factors that prevent me from feeling comfortable when in Ayr. I was happy to move on.

Jackdaw at Girvan

Armed with a list of potential wilding spots in both South and North Ayrshire, we headed for the most favoured first and found it barred to us. The next best on our list also had height bars and the situation was repeated. We drove as far as West Kilbride, then headed backwards to look at other potential spots. Height bars were everywhere.

Finally we called in at a hotel in West Kilbride. We had previously emailed the Waterside Hotel with an enquiry but, having had no reply, Mr Snail was sceptical regarding our chances. It turned out that we were made very welcome with no difficulties at all, despite the fact that a wedding was in progress. We ate well from the Light Menu (£15.95 for three courses, £13.95 for two), then returned to the car park sandwiched between the sea and the busy main road.

We managed to sleep okay and were up at 05:30 and away to the ferry queue at Ardrossan, a few minutes back down the road.The ferry crossing was smooth and untroublesome. Being a Saturday the boat was teeming with walkers, cyclists and early season holidaymakers. We berthed at 08:00 and Mr Snail was somewhat taken aback to find that we could not park along the front at Brodick.

Vincent in the car park at Brodick

We had much time to kill until checking in at the campsite so it was fortunate that we found space in the car park behind the Co-op and were able to make  a late breakfast and then walk Nell on the coastal path. Our plan was to exercise our National Trust membership cards at Brodick Castle but we had to wait until 09:30 to do that.

On our walk I found this pretty flower but could not understand why it was flowering so early nor why it had solitary flowers on what appeared to be a raspberry or blackberry plant… 

Salmonberry?

We took a tour of the village and found a couple of good shops.

Well, we had to…

We purchased postcards, sweets, a newspaper and a paint by numbers set from the proper old-fashioned stationers-cum-bookshop and chocolates from the chocolate shop but resisted the prodigious sausage rolls at the bakery.

Goat Fell under low cloud

Goat Fell was looking magnificent under drifting low cloud but that cloud soon brought some rain with it. Luckily it did not  last long and the sun was out again by the time that we were ready to explore the garden at Brodick, where we were the first visitors of the year. The site had only opened for the year just eleven minutes before we walked in.

I took many photographs and many of them were appalling. Also, I found more of the mysterious bramble plants.

Googling has come up with a surprising result on the brambles. I think that these may be a North American species, the Salmonberry. The fact that this escapee from cultivation is also called the Arran Raspberry is, I think, the clincher. First noted in Sannox in the 19th Century but not by me until the 21st!(http://www.nonnativespecies.org/factsheet/factsheet.cfm?speciesId=3058)

Camellia at Brodick Castle

Although the site was only just opened, a tour of the garden showed that many of the Rhododendrons had already been and gone for this season.

Scattered petals

Of course many remained to be enjoyed, along with the Magnolias and Camellias. 

The Bavarian Summerhouse

The shot of the day, for me

The Castle building is closed for this season but we were content to roam the woodland garden and admire the Rhodies.

And now, to the important bit… the Tea Room. Scone for me, Paradise Slice for him. Both declared to be average. The coffee was sub-par.

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Further adventures as soon as we have Internet and EHU again.

 

Farewell to Kippford

It has been decided; we leave Kippford tomorrow. Our ferry to Arran is booked for 07:00 hrs on Saturday and we have two nights booked at the Lochranza caravan site. We will linger in the Galloway Forest Park until Friday and then spend Friday night somewhere close to the ferry terminal.

It occurred to me last night that until now I have failed to post  a photograph of our pitch here at Kippford.

Our home for the past winter

I took this one yesterday just before we took the tent down. It shows clearly why the pod failed to act as the driveaway awning that we intended; Vince is just too tall.

It is a spacious pitch. The EHU and water point is lurking behind the pod. Immediately to the left is the path to the facilities. Beyond that is the yard from which occasional banging noises are emitted. It was far less of an annoyance than we might have expected.

The building behind our pitch houses the groundsmen’s rest room, the cleaner’s closet and the two wet rooms. We didn’t have far to trot to the shower on a morning making it all the more frustrating to have to dress twice each morning.

Behind that building is the roadside perimeter of the site. Traffic noise has not been an issue.

The site clings to the side of a steep hill and is beautifully landscaped and thoughtfully laid out. None of my photos from the top of the hill really show the nature of the slope. I always meant to document a walk up the hill but somehow it never happened.

All the staff here are lovely and so is the site owner, who generally stops to speak when seen. I would not hesitate to recommend the site but unfortunately they are ceasing the touring part of the business.

The pics from yesterday’s tootle:

One last time to the top of the hill but the air was hazy and the views not at their best

The Bellamy Butterfly Bar – the site holds a Bellamy Conservation Award

Pink camelia

White camelia? It wasn’t fragrant, so not a Gardenia I think… but what do I know.

Primroses in abundance

the largest, I think, of many white Pieris around the site. This bsh has been full of bees in the past few days and the buzz is audible from a distance

I can see this Silver Birch from my seat in the van and often st and watch it move in the breeze. There are usually a number f wood pigeons sitting n the top of this tree but when I took this a Chaffinch had the top perch. Click for bigness and you might just spot him

A remnant of 2016

We have had some frosts as this Camelia shows

I had hoped very much that the Magnolias would flower before we left. The buds are just showing colour now but I will certainly not see the blooms.

Magnolias are almost there but not quite just yet

The Azaleas and Rhododendrons haven’t made it in any number yet either. I am disappointed to be missing them but we have plans to visit Inverewe on our way home so maybe I shall see a good show when we get there.

 

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