My London weekend

On Saturday morning I hit the Asda in High Wycome early, at 7:30 in the morning parking wasn’t a problem, I got the weekend’s food and then filled up with diesel. This left me with just the right amount of time to meet up with Ed and go run the Wycombe Park run. The weather was great for running, as usual Ed beat me, I didn’t expect to do well as I’ve not been consistently training, never-the-less I managed 22:21 and cam second in my age category. Edward came 6th overall (in a field of 472) how does he do it?

After showing we went for breakfast at Sainsbury’s and then in the afternoon headed to Wyatts Covert Caravan Club Site in Denham. This is close to the airfield and you do get some disturbance from departing and arriving planes, but its not too bad. In the evening Jo and her boyfriend – Daz – came for dinner. Daz lives 10 minutes away from the campsite which was lucky as I had not booked it because of that.

Dinner was pulled pork fajitas, very easy to cook as the pork is cooked in the oven, the tortillas as warmed in the oven, and everything else is served cold. The only issue is the size of the table with 4 people and all that food made it very difficult to eat! After dinner we played poker – which was great fun. Ed stayed in the van with me, in the drop down bed – which he found very comfortable.

Sunday

After breakfast we walked to Denham railway station, a 25 minute walk in the crisp clear sunshine. Archie always enjoys a good train journey. We went to Jo’s flat first, Archie was going to stay there over lunch so he had to meet the cats. The cats were interested in Archie – Archie was interested in the cat food. We popped out for some beers at The Dog House – a local dog friendly pub, then back to drop Archie off to babysit the cats. We were heading to Ping-Pong at St Katherine’s docks as they have an all-you-can eat Sunday menu and we love their dim-sum. Amy Wallace, Ed’s gorgeous girlfriend, joined us for lunch and we ordered and ate as many pork puffs, spring rolls and other yummy things as we could. After lunch I picked Archie up and we headed back to Denham, I dropped Ed off and went back to spend the night before I had to head off back to the Midlands having had a great weekend.

Lay-by layabout

I dropped Lisa off in Northampton as she is now going to Tenerife with her two girls for a sun and spa long weekend in celebration of Barlie’s 30th birthday. I’m heading south to meet up with Jo and Ed for the weekend – looking forward to seeing them for the first time since we started our road trip.

As I’m not due at the campsite in Denham until tomorrow, I decided that I would stay in a lay-by for the first time, just me and Archie. I knew there was a good place in Piddington not far from where we perviously lived, just off the A40 so I headed for there. It would also mean I could run the Wycombe Parkrun the following day with Ed. It was a good place to stop it was quiet, although the A40 can be noisy, and it does not disturb any locals. The only problem we have it that the fridge still does not work on gas.

How wide are we?

From the Peak District we headed down South, we had to pick up Lisa’s youngest daughter Izzy from Heathrow. It took us a lot of research to decide how to do this – there was no way we could get into the pick-up areas as these are now in the multi-storey car parks. The drop-off areas, which we could get the motorhome into, don’t allow dropping off AND they have started issuing big fines based on ANPR – so that was out too.  We asked Izzy to catch the underground and travel a couple of stops to Hounslow West as this station has a good sized car park, and as Izzy was arriving at 8pm I figured it would not be too busy. Although the car park is used for a market on Sunday’s it was not listed as having height barriers. Getting in was not difficult having used Google streetview to scope out the entry and there was plenty of space, so we parked up taking up three bays as usual.

With perfect timing Izzy arrived as soon as we parked up, we brought her on board, switched drivers and then headed for the exit. I had never figured that the exit would be the problem! The car park was divided into two section and to get to the exit we had to go through a width restriction which we could just about manage (the restriction had no markings, they were just two steel girders). It took some doing, much to the amusement of the local taxi drivers – who gave no assistance – but we managed to get through  SLOWLY. Our mirrors stick out, but the steel girders were quite low and didn’t reach the height of the mirrors. We headed to the exit only to find that the exit itself was also width restricted – again no markings. The girders reached higher this time, over and above the mirrors, I tried to retract the mirrors – but they are fixed. Lisa was already out and attempting to guide me through.

I edged forward inch by inch, had to reverse a couple of times to get my position right. We had about an inch either side of the girders, unfortunatley they had decided to mount a sign on the girder, at the height of the mirror, which reduced the width further still. With a queue building behind us of weary workers wanting to get home, I used brute force and used the mirror to push the sign out of the way and we were through finally and out onto the road able to head back. The sign sprang back so no damage was done and the mirror came away unscathed too.

Lessons learnt? Check the exit of car parks as well as the entrance, find out if the mirrors can be retracted, does the width of our vehicle include the mirrors?

We stopped in Ibstone for the night less than five miles from the house we left in September, it was a cold and clear night and we had a wonderful viewing of a barn owl.

 

Hayfield

After picking up some shopping at Tesco in Glossup, we arrived at Hayfield in the late afternoon. Shopping can be tricky as supermarket car parks are not designed for 7.5m motorhomes, when we manage to get in and park we typically have to take up four spaces, so it helps if we shop at less busy times. even then we get some strange looks.

As we came into Hayfield Tthe CoPilot sat nav took us up a very narrow street. Lisa was driving, she always gets the tough gigs, and she was concerned we would hit parked cars, so I got out and walked up the street to guide her through. We were lucky that the street is not busy. Another mile up the road we found the Hayfield Camping and Caravanning Club Site that we were looking for, it was a tight approach around a bend. Turns out that this site only accepts motorhomes, not caravans as its too difficult to get to. The site is set in a valley and is small, but lovely, we parked next to a VW camper van – little and large.

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We took a walked up to the reservoir above the campsite, but after about a mile it started to become too muddy for Archie, so we turned back and went down to the village. Here Lisa found a small beauticians that would do her nails and cut her hair – she has little time left before she heads to the Canaries – so she took the opportunity and had it done there and then, leaving Archie and I to walk back alone.

The High Peak

We spent a few days in the Dark Peak area to round off our short visit to the Peak District. Our first stop was Castleton in the Hope Valley, so called because of the Peveril Castle which sits above the Peak Cavern and high above the village. The village was known for its rope making which was carried out in the Peak Cavern as this was dry and long and hence excellent for making ropes from hemp, the Peak Cavern is a visitor attraction labelled as the Devil’s Arse, we paid £19 for the two of us to have a guided tour, this was after discounts, it was overpriced – should only have been half as much.

The camp site at Castleton is only 10 minutes walk from the village, the village like most in the Peak District is in a valley and at this time of year tends to be dark and murky, as well as damp. The village square at Castleton is however very pretty, we passed this on our short walk up to and around the castle. The weather was damp and broody – but we were ready and prepared, the walk was very wet going up a small valley where a rivulet of water coming down after the previous day’s rain made the going slippy and not very Daschund friendly.

We made it to the top and marvelled at how they had built the castle there and indeed how they would get to it before it fell into disuse in the early 17th century. The way down was also slippy but through a grass field, which was difficult for Lisa’s foot which is still healing from being broken. We headed back and through the village to the campsite for a well deserved late lunch. The following day we were heading for Hayfield, which was not too far away, I decided that I would take the Snake Pass on the A57,  this crosses the Pennines between Glossop and the Ladybower Reservoir. However at the Ladybower Reservoir the road was closed for maintenance, which meant that we had to take a much longer way round, which was not as scenic, but had its moments.