Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Heading North

We left the Caravan Club at 12.05, the staff were already coming to check why we were 5 mins late leaving!

Just as we left the site we met this horse drawn hearse, now I am 99% sure it was a Pikey funeral as there were a procession of about 20 cars following with their headlights on and hazard warning lights flashing, the car or should I say van of choice was a battered white Ford Transit.

May they RIP whoever they were. 


Tail end Charlie was a stretch Hummer, unfortunately he was struggling to negotiate a high kerb!


Brixton was buzzy.


Another scorcher, with locals cooling off in a London fountain. 


We drove through my old home town of Luton, I hate to say it but it is such a dump, It would be a close call to which would be the crappier town, Luton or Stoke, actually I think Luton wins as the crappiest town in the UK.
We stopped at a large Tesco in Luton for a big shop, we hit a rather strange and disturbing aroma....the stench of BO was overwhelming, there were families of stinking people.

I suppose this is the price you have to pay for a UK heatwave!

We are now moored up in a pub carpark in the little hamlet of Fancott just outside of Luton. We got here at about 17.30 and it was virtually empty, now it is packed with families coming to enjoy a drink in the Garden on this lovely day. 


Another Big Day In London

We walked through the grounds of Crystal Palace to catch the train to Victoria, once again another lovely hot day.

As soon as we were on the train Bombo was asleep on the cool floor.



We were heading towards Paddo basin, but firstly we had to find a phone shop as Elaine's old smartphone was no longer smart and had self destructed. There was a carphone shop right outside Paddo basin. As soon as we entered the shop we were very quickly chucked out because we had dogs with us! We can take them on all the public transport into a lot of pubs etc but not a carphone shop. My take on it is that they employ a lot of Muslims (I have no problem with that) and Muslims are not renowned as dog lovers, I told the chap we are just about to spend a few hundred quid on a new phone, didn't matter get out! 

We met up with the Ray and Leonie from Firefly NZ, they are moored up in the basin.

There was loads of weed in the basin, when we were there last year there was non.

A couple of coots or moorhens I can never remember which is which were swimming around with their young uns.


Elaine took this pic of them behind a barge, of more interest is on the back of the barge he had a generator running, not for too long mind, but what a noisy stinking old air cooled genny it was, how could he have such a huge boat without a below deck genny. It was the noisiest genny I have ever heard, and moored up behind a hospital.


Sammie gave Leonie the hello stranger greeting.


We had a few beers with them, then it was off to the next appointment.


Goodbye Paddo, see you again one day.


We caught the bus to Trafalgar square as we didn't want to take the dogs on the tube in rush hour, it gets a bit hot and cramped, and people tend not to like smelly dog breath on them.  

We passed this Patriotic chap on the way, I think he was Chinese! 


We were meeting Elaine's old friends by the big blue cock at Trafalgar Square, we wern't really we were meeting them outside St Martin in the Field but big blue cock has a better ring to it.


So we met up first going to a gay bar, but they didn't serve food so we ended up in a nice dog friendly bar at Covent Garden and had a late dinner.


We caught the bus back to Crystal Palace from Whitehall, with Big Ben in the background


A quick selfie on the bus, Bombo was sleeping.


Here is our mooring at Crystal Palace, the site is full but as it is a caravan club site there is loads of room between the vans. It is a great spot for seeing London.



We will leave London today to head towards Milton Keynes and pick up my mum then have a few days with my family.

Breaking News........Brother Russ has come to the rescue and has a spare as new Galaxy S2 phone we can have, up yours Carphones! 




Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Catching up With Family and Friends


Our first stop back in the UK was Elaine's sisters place in Maidstone. They took us to some fantastic pubs in the Bearstead area, it was the archetypal English village scene with packed pubs on the green with a game of cricket going on in the middle. Due to my head being in other places at the time, I didn't take any pics. 

We were also visited by Elaines gorgeous niece Leyna and her family.


Elaine's grand nieces Evie and Connie, such lovely little girls, they made Elaine and I loom band bracelets which are wearing proudly.


Sunday we drove up to London and moored up at the Crystal Palace caravan club site, we had an Indian take away Sunday night and my god it was good.

Yesterday we caught the train and tube into London to catch up with  our great boaty friends Dot and Gordon from the Aston Marina Hardcore crew!

Check out the new Routemaster....oh and Dot and Bombo 


After lunch and a few drinks at the pub we headed off to Dot and Gordons boat which was moored up outside the Canal Museum at Kings X

We had a couple more drinks, nibbles and a good catch up, I would have to say it felt really good to walk through a NB again, it felt huge compared to the motorhome!


The weather was also fantastic, so a quick top up of tan was required.  


Sammie suddenly remembered Dot and leapt on her to smother her in licks.


Not sure if  Dot enjoyed the licks.


We left Dot and Gordon about 19.00 to go to our next appointment, the tube was packed and oh so hot.

We caught the tube to Highbury, just outside the tube was this pub, Elaine said how nice of them to name a pub after you, pity they forgot the head after the cock!

We then met up with Elaine's other niece the gorgeous actor/dancer/aerial entertainer Josie-Beth. 


We had a lovely night in a lovely pub


We then caught the overground tube back to Crystal Palace finally arriving home at 12.30am.

Today we will do it all over again.

I would have to say it feels really great to be back in the UK.










































































































































































































Sunday, July 20, 2014

Many Thanks.....

.....For the kind words and phone calls re the loss of Geoffrey and William.

A little background story on why these two cats were so special........

Back in 1994 I was a single chap living and working in Sydney, I lived alone with my two cats.

Amazingly in the space of one week both cats were hit and killed by cars.   I really wanted to get another one but didn't want to risk losing another one.  Aat the same time there was an ad in the local paper for volunteers at the local cat rescue centre ... great, I thought, get a cat fix but no chance of the heartbreak of losing another one.

Two things occurred to me when I went up there.....

1. Cat shit shit x 40 really stinks.
2. All the volunteers except one were women, the other male was gay!

Bonus!   I was a single straight man surrounded by loads of cat loving women, one of those women was a lovely little lady who had just come over from the UK and needed a pet fix, her name was Elaine.....aahhhhhhh.

The old girls that ran the place set me and Elaine up together and the rest is history.

Down the track a cat called Geoffrey was up there ... he was an older cat, approx 3-4 years old, and was adorable in a cage, but as soon as someone was interested in him and he was taken out of his cage he was a little shit and would bite and scratch them so no one would take him.  He was going to be  put down as he had no chance of getting a home.  By then Elaine and I had moved into a flat together so we took him.

He was a horror and would stalk us around the flat, biting and scratching our legs and attacking us when we were in bed.

About the same time a litter was born to a wild cat so we took home a tiny little black and white kitten and we called him William.  The change in Geoffrey's behaviour was instant, he absolutely loved the kitten and never attacked us again and turned into a lovely puss.

They were the best of friends and spent all their awake and sleeping time together, they were inseparable for 20 years right up to the end.

We are going to miss them so much, but are happy that they are still together.

Thanks again, it means so much.
Paul and Elaine xxxx

Back in the UK and a Very Sad Day :-(

We left Calais in the early hours of the morning and headed to the Channel tunnel check-in. We had to check the animals in first.  I was hoping that they would come to the van to check them but no, we had we had to take them to see them. I really didn't want the other people in the office to see the state of Geoffrey with the tumour on his eye looking rather horrendous.  As I thought they all were rather shocked at his appearance.

Animals sorted we went through UK Border Control in France!

There was not much tunnel traffic about ...

It's a pretty ugly train ...

You drive onto the train through a gap between the carriages ...

It is huge inside ...

I wasn't that keen on going through such a long tunnel, but it was great.  Us and all the animals crashed out on the bed in the back of the van, 35 mins later we were off and driving on the wrong correct side of the road again. 


Just over an hour or so later we were at Elaine's sisters house in Maidstone.

Sad Bit ...

We knew that Geoffrey wasn't going to get any better with his tumour all though he still seemed his normal self noticed that the last couple of days he had started to shake his head.  Was the tumour starting to irritate him or give him an headache? 

Elaine's sister and hubby came to the van to give us their thoughts; they said that their vet was lovely and sympathetic and asked if we would we like to go and see her and have a quality of life consultation.  We decided we would and that we would also take William with us as he was really struggling to walk with his arthritis and spindle cell tumour on his front leg.  He was also missing Geoffrey terribly as Geoffrey had started sleeping at the front of the van, and William would wander around crying looking for him.  Geoffrey was 23 and William was 20 and were inseparable for as long as we have had them.

The vet and head nurse were fantastic and suggested that their quality of life was extremely low, so we asked if they could be put to sleep at the same time. 

It was an incredibly sad but peaceful way for them to go, Geoffrey even reached out and touched William with his paw as the sedative was starting to send them to sleep, as if to say 'it's OK mate don't worry'.

And that was it.  A few minutes later it was all over.

Although it was incredibly sad it was such a lovely peaceful way to see them go.

I took this pic of William this morning.

RIP Boys ...


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Calais!

After we had a look around the Australian War Memorial yesterday we motored for about 20 mins untill we came to Doullens. We moored up for the night at a free Aires.  The official part of the Aire was full so we parked in the carpark opposite, where there were a few other 'spillover' vans !

Before we left this morning we had a walk around town, Thursday was also market day ...

Doullens' claim to fame is that in the town hall General Foch was given overall command of the allied forces on the western front ...

The room is laid out as it was nearly 100 years ago.  It was quite strange as there were no guides nor security - nothing!  You just walked around and checked it out ...

It is still the town hall....

But all the business is done downstairs ...

Upstairs is just as it was ...

We couldn't take the boys in so whilst Elaine went in for a sticky (beak) I played with my baguette!

We then headed off for Calais, stopping off to spend the remaining Euros on a few crates of French wine and filling the van with fuel before we return to UK prices.

Elaine took a pic of our Euro route (not presented precisely, she tells me!).  I would love to turn around and do it all again.

Out travels are represented by the blue line ...

The red arrow is our present position right on the harbour front at Calais.  It's another Aire, but it cost 7 Euros for the night ...

There are about 50 vans here, all awaiting ferries and channel tunnel crossings.  Elaine reckons it is just like a big waiting room ...

The beach is 2 mins away, and today it was packed as it is a bit of a scorcher of  day....lovely!

We spent our remaining few Euros on a bucket of Moules-Frites and a couple of beers ...


When we got back to the van I had to remove 20 Romanians from the roof and a couple of Poles tied to the axle.

So as the sun sets over Calais so the sun sets on our Euro mainland adventure ...and what an adventure it has been, absolutely fantastic.


Early tomorrow we are going through the tunnel back to the land of warm beer.  It will be fun to catch up with family and our friends.  As per usual we have no firm plans except Manchester late July and then bonnie Scotland.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lest We Forget

Today we visited The Australian First World War memorial at Villers Bretonneux The Somme.

A very moving visit, I don't think words are necessary, I will let the pictures tell the story.







Second world war damage to the monument