Ellesmere Day 2

I had a good nights sleep, but the partner complained I snored like a trooper all night and kept her awake, I’m sure it was the lambs outside bleating.

We had an issue last night with the water, basically non came out of the tap, the tank had been filled and we could hear the pump whirring, we were too tired to mess at that point and had enough water for coffee etc so we left well alone. This morning whilst Michelle had a shower I uncovered the tank and unscrewed the access hatch, the tank was completely empty! the pump whirred ok when I turned on the tap and blowing down the pipes proved there was no blockage. I refilled the tank and after a peruse of the manual came to the conclusion that the automatic frost valve on the heating boiler had activated, we have had some cold nights this week, upon inspection the valve was open, a quick press of the button and all was ok and we now have hot and cold running water, a new skill learned.

After all that excitement and a second coffee we set off to walk to Ellesmere, firstly across the farmers field and then along the road into town, approx 20 minute walk.We walked around the town in and out of shops and bought a few extra items for the Hymer, some hose pipe tap fittings, a new flat hose, velcro for the curtains and a toothbrush holder. 

We had lunch in a cafe, baguette for me and Welsh rarebit for Michelle, suitably refreshed we continued with our shopping.

We had arranged to meet daughter Steph and partner Will at Tesco’s on the edge of town which sits next to the Shropshire Union canal, 

When they arrived they hadn’t eaten so it was a trip to a different cafe for them to have lunch, plus a coffee and slice of cake for me.
Will drove us back to the campsite where they spent a few hours with us, including tea and doughnuts, plus Steph polished off a bowl of grapes.

Evening meal was a rather hot curry followed by another episode of Peter Kay’s Car Share, viewed on the ipad.

Weem off, tara a bit 1.  ( we are off, see you later)


52degrees 54’6N. 2 degrees54’57 W

Well the day has arrived for us to make our first journey in the Hymer, it’s been a long wait but I’m sure it will be worth it.

It’s been 4 years since we sold the Mazda Bongo along with its drive away awning. We did many splendid journeys in that, visiting amongst other places, Derbyshire, Dorset, East Anglia, Lake District, Scotland and the length of France down to the Med. It was a little cramped, lacked a few facilities ( no bathroom) but gave us a freedom.

We left home at 1.30 pm and arrived at 3.15 pm with a stop to refuel, covering a distance of 60 miles, we didn’t rush and there was a lot of traffic, a combination of Friday afternoon and Bank holiday weekend. It was good to see the habit of the friendly wave continues, we exchanged several on the way here.

We spent a part of the journey in convoy with some old Lambretta scooters laden with camping gear, it bought back fond memories of 50 years ago, when over a few years my friend Phil and I did the same thing on many occasions. During the Summer it was a regular event and we usually headed to Newquay in Wales where we had just as good a social life as back home. Of course we eventually up graded to cars and continued camping for many years, including some caravanning towards the end. Happy days.

The Chief navigator experienced some difficulty on the way, not her fault I hasten to add. The battery on the Sat Nav died after a few minutes use, and of course the map books were packed away. However after 20 mins of charge it leapt back into life. She set to with gusto to set our course, there seemed to be technical difficulties, but give her her due she’s not a quitter, and she set to the task with dogged determination. Eventually success, it burst into life with the statement ” you have arrived at your destination on the left!” It’s a good job I hadn’t forgotten my boy scout training and achieving a tracker badge, knowing that moss grows on the north side of trees, that they grow away from the prevailing wind etc helped me to drive to our destination. It also helped that I’ve been to Ellesmere before.

It’s a lovely quiet site, we have a view over a field of sheep and their lambs and there are hills in the distance. We are a short walk to Ellesmere and we will head there tomorrow.


Tomorrow is our trial run, with three nights booked in Shropshire, so today has been a day of preparation for the event.

There was the need to buy in supplies , well you never know, it may snow and we are one and a half miles from the nearest supermarket, a Tesco.

There was the reading and re reading of the manual to remind us how everything functions, it has been 5 weeks since we had the 15 minute intensive demonstration on how everything worked, backed up with the, don’t worry if you forget, it’s in the manual, such wise words, thankfully there was an English version as well as the German. 

So the water tank is partially full, not too full, remember the weight, if too full the there would have to be a drastic reduction in the clothing/shoe allowance! It is hooked up to the mains here at base camp to ensure all batteries are charged and to check everything is working, the fridge is cooling in readiness for the cheese, oh and beer. We have the camp chairs ready so we may sit outside and take full advantage of the sunny warm weather, thick fleeces are packed as back up. So what could we have forgotten? Don’t know but I expect we will find out within 5 minutes of getting there.

Finally the Chief Navigator is set up with everything we need for the 90 minute journey, leaving nothing to chance.So it’s large book in case we get lost, red book in case we go somewhere else, Sat Nav because she likes the mans voice, binoculars to spot the road signs and a National Trust handbook to make us look cultured when people peer in through the window.

What’s the betting I will wake up in the middle of the night and remember something important and not be able to get back off to sleep!

Weem um. (we are home)

Woke up this morning to grey skies and rain, what’s happening?

Got home about 1 am this morning after a 580 mile journey which went reasonably well, Sundays are a good day to travel in France, it been a great break.

Certainly notice the increase in the amount of road traffic now I’m back in urban living compared to rural life.

We currently spend approx 20% of the year living the rural life, its very enjoyable and great contrast to every day life here, we’re lucky that we have most facilities within 3km of the ranch so not too rural. There are pros and cons; cons are there’s very little entertainment within reach to take advantage of and for some activities fluent French would be necessary, we haven’t access to TV channels and this probably would be a necessity if we are to spend more time there, currently we read a lot and rely on the internet. The pros are finding yourself in tune with the seasons, being surrounded with wildlife, many different insects, butterflies etc all of which are fascinating.

However occasionally the still, quiet, placid airs of the countryside are shattered by the piercing screams of the head gardener, this can mean one of two things, firstly she has impaled herself on one of her thorny plants, known as Spike or Ouch, if that’s the case the scream is followed by a mild expletive. The other screams are caused by the sudden appearance of one of our two hissing Sids that live in the concrete culvert under one of our favourite patios, once emerged they usually head off towards the Head Gardeners main large garden where she entertains herself for hours deep in its undergrowth muttering away to herself.

She demanded action, so I complied!What am I supposed to do with this was the reply upon receiving my gift, she wasn’t all to impressed when I said shake it it makes a rattle and frightens snakes away (actually you sprinkle the granules around the area where they are, it’s quite harmless and just deters them) she demanded protection whilst gardening and as I’m always eager to please I equipped myself accordingly and trained for hours.Strangely we didn’t see them again, they must have been impressed by my prowess!

Do the pros out way the cons, I think so, there’s always something new to marvel at, and it’s wonderful to slow down the pace of life and actually feel as though you have charge in your battery.

So until next time   tara a bit.

Last Day

Sadly today is our last day here at the ranch before tomorrow’s journey home, it has been another glorious day with the temperature in the 20s.

This morning we went shopping in the market in Ste Foy La Grande, an excellent market that wends its way around a few streets. It’s an attractive historic town on the banks of the Dordogne, originally being a trading port for boats coming up river from Bordeaux and downriver from Bergerac.No visit to this market is complete unless we visit the book and DVD stall owned and run by an English woman originally from Norton Canes, amazingly in discussion whilst talking to her we found out that she and Michelle had been at Norton Canes Comprehensive at the same time, small world!

Below is the selection of goodies we splashed our cash on today, note the anti grey squirrel scarer for use in the UK. On the way back from Ste Foy we called in at our vineyard at Fleix and got in supplies for the uk to last us until we return in the summer. It turns out that over the past year I’ve banked enough commission rewards to have a free bottle of wine, I’ve banked it until August.

Peter and Alison had a spare gazebo frame that they had acquired from Gwen, they had already used one so I now have the other.
Since our huge willow tree died and the ash tree had a severe lopping there is very little shade under which to park the car in the extreme hot weather, I’m trying to grow Wisteria over our parking area but it needs lots of support so the gazebo frame was just the job. So this afternoons job was to put it together and put it in place.We are now in the throes of packing the car and tidying up before we sit in the last of the sunshine with a glass of wine enjoying the last evening of our rural idyl.

Soon we will be back in grey England but at least we will have our tans and good memories to keep us going until next time!

A Day Off

It’s the last but one day before we head off home so we decided to reward ourselves with a day off from working.

So after some discussion we decided to head to one of our favourite places in the region, Aubeterre.

We usually make at least one visit there each year, we enjoy it’s scenery, wandering the streets, noticing the changes since we were there last and of course Michelle likes to wonder in and out of the shops. We arrived after 11am to everything a chance to warm up but alas the shops weren’t open, I was devastated. Strangely my favourite shop the pottery was open and Xavier the potter greeted us as always like old friends.
So to overcome the depression we both felt we decided after a walk around the narrow streets to treat ourselves to lunch in the square, Matt won’t be surprised to know I opted for a cheese omelette and Michelle had a french style galette, filled with cheese. After lunch we continued with our walk on the upper levels of the town.This was followed by a lazy afternoon back home and this evening we are off toBeaupoyet for the monthly fish and chip night, we know how to live the good life.

Brushes are us.

Today we carried on from yesterday’s work, whilst Michelle was varnishing some wood in the house I rendered the top of the wall and one of the block pillars leading to the verandah.

Then after lunch I mixed together some left over Dulux county cream, Crown lemon and Wickes’s Sandstone so we could start painting the wall.

Not sure what you could describe the colour as, but it’s fine for a base coat. We worked as a well oiled team, I did the top half and Michelle the bottom( no sizest jokes) she is really becoming proficient at the painting and I’m contemplating promoting her from a half inch brush to a one inch brush next time we paint.The paint ran out halfway down the building but I’m sure if I describe it adequately Band Q will be able to mix me some more.
Our reward was a nice cold beer


Peter and Alison friends we’ve made through Gwen and Jimmy have a modern holiday bungalow here, there are as yet no fully grown trees on their property to provide shade/ shelter for their car. Last year we had a discussion about buying a car porch kit or building one from scratch. This holiday Peter asked if I could give him a hand with the project. We designed it on a piece of paper, a very rough sketch with dimensions that relied on size of wood we could purchase. We took the design to the local builders yard and converted it into an order for wood, roofing sheets and fixings.

Over three half days the structure rose, there was a little redesigning as we went along, but we were pleased with the end project.

Bonfire and Profanities.

With apologies to Tom Wolf for adapting the title of his book/ film for my own means, his being Bonfire of the Vanities.

Usually in the Spring and again in the Autumn we find it necessary to have a bonfire to rid ourselves of hedge trimmings, thin branches from tree lopping and other bulky unwieldy items we don’t want to take to the tip. With regard to the Autumn fires many members of the family have been involved in their making, and there will be clear memories of dragging branches or wheeling the wheelbarrow to the fire.One enduring memory is of dad whose duty it was to keep an eye on the fire, he loved poking at it as it got small enough for him to approach and on several occasions he melted the rubber bung off the end of his walking stick.Todays fire was much smaller and easily kept under control, until that is a large ember shot out of the fire and landed on my sweater and burnt a hole through it scorching the T shirt underneath. That was the first profanity, apart from being a bit bobbly it was a perfectly good jumper, only about 15 years old and with many years of life left in it, it was sacrificed on the fire.Second profanity came about from the result of a new sack of cement splitting open in the boot of the car spilling some of its contents on the floor and when I attempted to unload it much of  the rest ended up on my shorts, converting them from blue to grey!

It’s a good job Michelle loves cleaning and washing.

For the rest of the day we have continued with our pottering, putting extra finishing touches to the kitchen surface and the working on putting up extra fascia board on the rear of the house on the single storey extension. Michelle has done a wonderful job of staining the board and tomorrow I will plaster the gap underneath.

Why is she wearing the hat you may ask? We are not allowed to mention the sunburnt forehead! Thankfully she hasn’t a grand tête and my hat fits.


Since arrival we have both been affected in one way or other by hay fever. The warm dry weather has brought everything into bloom and as a consequence there’s lots of pollen everywhere.This the pollen on our car after just a few days, it is now even thicker and surfaces everywhere are covered in it.Sadly as runny eyes and sneezing have worsened this evening we have for the first time this holiday moved indoors much earlier than normal, it is 8.45 pm and it is still sunny and light outside.Each Spring the field is a riot of colour from the spring flowers, I take care each year to leave different large areas uncut to ensure their survival.