Category Archives: A week in review

A week in review – Croydon, food and beer

Wednesday

London Calling.
Well, it was Croydon Calling because we travelled up from the Kent coast to visit my parents and take them out for lunch.

Chinese Food

I decided to try the Tai Tung restaurant (Tai Tung,
Unit 1 & 1A Wing Yip Centre, 544 Purley Way, Croydon Tel:020 8688 3668) at the Wing Yip centre on the Purley Way in Croydon.

Chinese Food

When we arrived it was busy with diners but we managed to get a table, and one with wheelchair access for my father which was good. The food was o.k.

Chinese Food

My parents started with chicken and sweetcorn soup, which they said was very nice.
Mrs. R and I had hot and sour soup, which was full of prawns, pork, tofu, chillies, and pretty much everything else you can think of, the flavour was seriously good.

Shredded Duck

After our soup we had crispy duck, pancakes, cucumber, spring onions, and hoi sin sauce. Very tasty.
Next came various dishes which covered our table, including sweet and sour chicken, crispy pork, mixed vegetables, and egg fried rice.

Hot and Sour soup

My parents enjoyed all of their lunch. My mother even asked for a doggy bag for the leftovers – we’d ordered too much food. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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Mrs.R and I thoroughly enjoyed our soup, and the crispy duck pancakes, but the rest of the meal was not particularly good.
Tai Tung is not a restaurant I would bother revisiting again. We’d ordered a couple of the set menu meals, the total bill was just over ยฃ80, which I thought was very poor value for money considering the low quality of the food.
After a lacklustre meal I headed into the Wing Yip supermarket to purchase a few items:

Buna Shimeji Mushrooms
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A Chinese Chopper
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Chopsticks
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If I can’t get a decent Chinese/Asian meal, I can at least make one myself for time to time.

Thursday

It was yet another caravan day. We needed rest to recover from yesterday.
Driving up to London and back may not sound too tiring, but it always leaves us both completely knackered.
We spent the day cooking, eating, messing about online, and watching T.V. :)

Friday

Battle of Hastings.
No swords and shields, just a GPS in our Citroen C5 that wanted to take us to the wrong address. In fact, it did not do well on the entire journey from Romney. It decided not to give us any directions at all at several of the roundabouts on the drive.
Thankfully I knew the route anyway, but had wanted to test the in-car satnav to see how good it was. The result? It’s not good. :(
When we arrived in the centre of Hasting, I found a parking space on the seafront, and then we headed off to the First In Last Out pub for a beer.
A beer was all about we managed in Hastings.

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I don’t know where time goes, it seems to vanish in the blink of an eye. Anyway, we’d stopped for a drink, and the next thing we knew it was time to leave, as our parking ticket was about to expire.
On the walk back to the car-park we did stop for a minute, literally, to grab a bag of chips to scoff down as we completed the walk to our car.

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Not all of the chips went down our throats though, we decided to feed some to the seagulls. By we, I mean Laura, because she said she needed them to take some photos.
I thought photos, plural, seemed excessive, not that the crispy golden potatoes weren’t worthy of more than one photo. ๐Ÿ˜‰
And we didn’t not eat all of our shared portion of chips because we were not that keen on them. We left some of the deep fried tubas because they were required for a photo opportunity.
Yep, it was a joint effort, we threw chips high up in the air to entice the large group of seagulls in to flight, so that we could photograph them.
We’d seen the gulls all sitting on a small island in a pond by the seafront. Once we began flinging chips sky high, the seagulls soon took off from their sunbathing. Well, a few of them did, the bulk of them remained relaxing in the sun. I guess they get more then enough chips to eat, and I know we shouldn’t have fed them, but hey-ho………..
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Saturday
Yet again we had a lazy, do-nothing day.
We spent the day doing pretty much what all of our neighbours on the caravan site were doing – absolutely nothing. We cooked, by we, I mean me, we ate, we lazed, we slept, all-in-all it was a much needed and much appreciated day of relaxation.
Our neighbours are on their holidays, so maybe the holiday vibe is contagious?
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Sunday

It was an exciting Sunday.
We drove into Hythe and visited the BP petrol station. Not just to see and admire the beauty of the petrol station, but to see petrochemical capitalism at work. ๐Ÿ˜‰
Whilst at the petrol station we put air into the car tyres. It cost 50p for four minutes. We didn’t out any petrol in the car, after paying 50p for air, we couldn’t afford to. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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Monday

All change! Moving Monday.
We changed accommodation. We checked-out of New Beach Holiday Park at 10am. We were only travelling a few miles along the coast, and could not check-in until 4pm, so we had a lot of time to kill.
If I hadn’t been driving I’d have happily whiled away the hours on a pub crawl. ๐Ÿ˜‰
Unfortunately though, I was driving, so alcohol had to take a backseat.
First stop was Dymchurch. We had a gander at the beach, then popped in to a cafe on the high street for breakfast. I had a typical fry-up. Having said that it wasn’t actually your typical English fry-up. It was small, not particularly tasty, didn’t come with any bread or toast, or tea, or coffee, it had hash-browns, and it was overpriced. Hash browns! They should not be served with a proper English fry-up.
Mrs.R wanted a fried egg sandwich, but by the time the queue at the counter, which only consisted of two women who were together, in front of me, had shrunk and it was my turn to be served, she’d changed her mind and asked for an egg mayonnaise sandwich.
Mrs.R said the sandwich was quite nice, the bread was soft and fresh, it contained egg, which is always a good start with an egg mayo sarnie, but it lacked a decent amount of mayonnaise. This was soon remedied with the addition of a couple of sachets of mayo, and brown sauce. Yep, the Mrs likes a mix of flavours in her food, in fact she’s a condiment queen. ๐Ÿ˜‰
The egg mayo-less sandwich was served with a salad, and crisps. Mrs.R stuffed some of the lettuce, cucumber, mustard cress, and raw red onion in to her sandwich, the rest she ate with her fingers. The crisps were left untouched. We’re not American! We’re not in America! We don’t want, or need crisps with our sandwiches. Thank you!
After our less than impressive breakfast, but we do truly appreciate the fact they we are blessed to afford to buy food (thank you universe!) even if it’s crap, we looked round Dymchurch for a little while. We had brief glimpse at the sea, and a curious look at the people sunbathing in the concrete, a mere few metres from the lovely sandy, obviously quite empty, beach. There’s nowt as strange as folk. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
Then we motored on to New Romney.
Again we had a wander round to kill some time. We visited the graveyard at St. Nicholas Church and snapped a few photos.

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Wandering round graveyards in the wonderfully warm sunshine is thirsty work. We were in serious need of refreshment, so we visited Cinque Ports Arms for a beer.
Time wasted we headed to Marley Farm Holiday Park, our new home for the next two weeks. :)
New Romney, Kent

Tuesday

Feet up in front of the telly, with the occasional visit to the kitchen.
We were exhausted today, not exactly sure why we should be any more tired than usual today. Although Laura said I kept her awake all night snoring, and then when she finally fell asleep, I woke her up again at about 4:30am this morning. I don’t believe it! I never snore. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Laura claims I snore almost every night, and that she rarely gets any decent sleep. I tell her she snores too. So then she replies, that the difference is, my snoring disturbs her and keeps her awake, but her snoring doesn’t disturb my sleep. She’s correct, but hey-hum what can you do? She loves me despite my snoring, or no doubt she’d be on her toes…….
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So, my lovely wife, who very occasionally snores, but doesn’t distrust my sleep, said she felt extra tired today due to lack of sleep last night. What’s my excuse? Well, I’m often tired, it’s just one of the side effects of having ankylosing spondylitis. But today we both felt even more tired than usual. It may well be that we’re both feeling relaxed now that we’ve got a roof over our heads again – at least for the next fortnight. After that, who knows? It’ll be full-on Summer holiday then, the schools will all have broken up, vacancies will be few and far between, and more importantly prices will be double if not treble the rates we’ve been paying recently. Thankfully we bought a large car, so if we have to we’ll sleep in it. That’ll do wonders for my arthritic spine. Hahaha! :/
So today was spent doing what we do best, and what in a perfect World we’d get paid for -~ procrastinating. Living the dream. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I did make some mighty tasty beans as an accompaniment to our lunch. I sautรฉed onions and garlic, added some Chinese five spice, passata, and voila! Homemade beans in a delicious rich tomato sauce.
The only other thing that constitutes activity, if you can call ‘jumping out of your skin’ activity, was when a couple of blokes began making loud thumping noises on the caravan windows. No, they weren’t up to no good, don’t be judgemental ๐Ÿ˜‰ they were window cleaners.
One was slapping soapy water all over the glass with a large sponge, the other wiped the glass clean with a squeegee. Bosh, bash, bosh, job done, all of the caravan windows were done in about a minute. There’s two blokes who are obviously not feeling tired.

A week in review – Food, Beer and Graves

Wednesday

Wednesday was another day of relaxing. The weather was dire so there was no incentive to go out exploring the Kent countryside.
We did go out, but only to a local supermarket to buy a few supplies. The main one being lamb chops for lunch.
On the way we drove past field after field of grazing sheep. The irony was the supermarket only sold New Zealand lamb. You’ve got to love food shopping in England. Baaaaaaa!

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Thursday

We headed into Croydon, picked up my mother and then headed to Wing Yip supermarket (550 Purley Way, Croydon, CRO 4RF Tel: 020 8688 4880 www.wingyipstore.co.uk). My mother was most impressed by the building and the big Chinese Archway. We left her to look round at her leisure while Mrs.R and I headed off shopping. We had gone there with the purpose of buying some coconut oil, but they did not have any.
We did not come away empty handed though. I purchased a new Wok, some chopsticks, salted duck eggs, organic green tea, organic honey, enoki mushrooms, and a few other things.

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Shopping done we headed off to collect my father, and then we took my parents for lunch at Botley Hill.
Lunch went well, which was a pleasant surprise considering they hate my wife. We dropped my folks off and headed back to Romney in Kent.
On the drive back as we sat in traffic in Bickley, a workman shouted through my open window, “Do you wanna gas checker?” We thought it was nice of him to offer, as we are windy people, but we declined.
As the traffic lights turned from red, amber, to green and I pulled away, we realised he’d been shouting at another workman across the road. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Friday

Friday was a stay at home day.
For excitement I tried out my new Wok and rustled use up a stir-fry for lunch.
How jealous are you of my exciting thrill-filled day? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Saturday

Saturday was a glorious day so we went out for a drive in the country.
Well, first it was a drive to the Sainsbury’s in Hythe.
Then we went on a pub crawl. Not really a crawl, more of a slow drive. The first hostelry we went to was the Botolphs Bridge Inn in West Hythe, after which we went to the Shepherd & Crook in Burmarsh. I was the nominated driver, so it was 1/2 a pint of cider in each pub.
It was a jolly jaunt in the country, and aside from visiting a couple of pubs we also popped into the graveyard of All Saints Church where we took a few photos.

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Sunday

We stayed in the van the whole day.
It’s actually really good to not be going out every day, which is what we’ve done for the past two years during our travels.
Sometimes less really is more. :)
I didn’t spend the whole day being totally lazy though, I made sure we were fed. I cooked roast chicken and stir-fried pak choi. Delicious!

Chicken

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Monday

We decided to have a ‘tourist day’ and headed just down the road to Hythe for a gander at St. Leonard’s Church, and a little walk along the high street.
It was a hot day, the weather forecast was correct about Summer finally being here, so we stopped off at The White Hart for a refreshing pint of beer.

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Tuesday

Tuesday was another caravan day. Eating, drinking, and chilling in front of the telly.
It is good to stay in sometimes, and not do too much. We could get used to this much slower pace of life.
We are continuing to recover from our wonderful, but seriously exhausting World travels. We still need lots of rest, and to try and get our bodies back to good health.
So, yes, today was a do nothing, but relax day.
It’s just a shame we have to do it in England.

Suntan lotion

A week in review – House Buying, Rain, and the Fuzz

Wednesday

We checked-out of the guesthouse in Sunderland and drove to Easington Colliery. We stopped at Easington Village along the way and explored the graveyard at St. Mary the Virgin Church.
Tombstone spotting done we carried onto Easington Colliery and visited Eight Estates (11 Seaside Lane, Easington, County Durham, SR8 3PF) the estate agent who is selling the house we had put an offer on.

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We filled in some forms, containing lots of questions, then left the agent to contact the vendor to confirm our offer.
We then headed into Peterlee to make necessary arrangements with a solicitor (TMJ Legal Services 14 Yoden Way,) to handle the conveyancing.
This was all very slow and tiring, so we retired to a pub for a revitalising beer, and to give me time to book some accommodation for us. I decided we should head to Harrogate for a few days.
We left the pub and departed Peterlee, and headed to Harrogate.
Once we arrived in Harrogate, Google Maps freaked out and took us to the wrong destination, so we ended up driving round for a bit before we managed to find the apartment that I had booked on booking.com.
We dumped our stuff in the apartment, then headed into the town centre for a quick look round, and to buy a few food items. We did not linger long in the town centre, and were soon back at the apartment where it was feet up for the rest of the day. :)

Thursday

I had booked three nights in Harrogate, so needless to say the weather started getting worse. We wandered into town stopping for a drink in the Winter Gardens. Then the plan was to do a little sightseeing and take some photos and shoot a bit of video, but the weather had other plans because it started raining, so no photography for us.
We did pop into ‘Farrah’s of Harrogate’ (Camwal Rd, Harrogate Tel: 01423 883000) where I picked up a couple of tins of sweets for my parents.
With the weather winning the battle we retreated back to the Winter Garden for another beer. ๐Ÿ˜‰
Then it was a quick visit to Marks and Spencer’s to purchase a few more food items, before calling it a day and heading back to the apartment.

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Friday

The morning started surreally.
I saw a police van park up outside our apartment, a copper got out and started walking along the street, next he entered the gates to our building, and then he rang our bell. Yikes! I was wondering what had Mrs.R been up to. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
It turned out that the address of our holiday rental apartment had been used in a credit-card fraud. We gave the policeman the owner of the apartments details, and breathed a sigh of relief when he departed.
Even when you have done nothing wrong, you automatically feel guilty when a rozzer knocks on your door uninvited.

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The weather was crap so we gave up on the idea of having a wander round Harrogate, and surprise surprise, we settled instead for a couple of pints in the Winter Garden (Wetherspoon). We stuck to a strict liquid only pop visit, with lunch and dinner back at the apartment much later that day.

OlivesGoats Cheese

Saturday

We departed Harrogate and headed South towards London.
I had already decided I would not drive all the way to Croydon in one go (5.30 hours), so at about 1pm we stopped at a pub near Luton that I had booked a couple of days previously, and called it a day.

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Lunch and a couple of beers was followed by a siesta, and then a couple of beers in the evening, followed by a snack back in our room. The night was rounded off by watching the last episode of the 2nd season of Homeland.

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Sunday

We departed Luton and headed to Croydon. We collected my mother and headed to Coombe Lodge for lunch.
Then it was on to see my father.
Family duties over we then headed down to Folkestone for the night. We were both exhausted but still had the energy to pop into the Samuel Peto for a couple of beers. :)

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Monday

We left Folkestone and headed to towards New Beach Holiday Park in Romney Marsh, but stopped off in Hythe first to do a bit of food shopping.
Then it was onto New Beach Holiday Park, but not before we had a beer in the pub next to the holiday park.
A welcome to Romney pint, well, two, pints of cider.

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Tuesday

We decided on a nothing day, which involved staying in the caravan, eating, and watching television.
Mrs.R made a seriously scrumptious vegetable curry for our lunch. :)
A much needed rest day after the hectic last couple of weeks spent house hunting, and driving all over Northern England.

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A week in review – house hunting, camping and the odd beer

Wednesday

We slept quite late considering we were sleeping in a tent, it was about 8am. Mrs.R wandered off to the kitchen room on the campsite to make us a cup of strong black coffee with honey.
Once the coffee had kicked in we had fun packing our camping gear away. We managed to get the sleeping bags back in to their covers, we even managed to get the tent folded neatly enough to slide back inside its cover, but the air bed refused to return to its box. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ So we scrunched it as much as we could, making it as small as possible and chucked it in to the boot of the car. Then we packed everything on top of it, helping to keep it flat(ish).
Then we hit the road, heading towards Hartlepool to hopefully begin our search for a house.
Once in Hartlepool we popped in to a couple of estate agents, and made some appointments.
Unfortunately our appointments were not until 5pm onwards, which meant we had more or less the whole day to waste.
We popped in to a cafe on the high street for breakfast. Mrs.R had beans on toast, I had a full English. Two cappuccinos and we were good to go. Go where? Anywhere to waste the remaining hours until we met the estate agent.

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I decided to drive along the coast, where we parked up, and we went for a walk. The wind was quite chilly, but this was interspersed with warm sunshine. Hartlepool is not the prettiest coastline we’ve ever seen, there’s quite a lot of industrial stuff going on. Plus there were lots of heavy machinery, and workmen, all busy building up the sea defences. We enjoyed our stroll though, and it did waste some time.

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Then I drove to Hartlepool marina, which was very different to the seafront, and a pleasant surprise. There’s been lots of development, with several large residential blocks, and various cafes, pubs, and restaurants, as well as the boats in the marina. We stopped for a drink, and soaked up some sun, which was pretty hot by this time.

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Finally, after a long day hanging around time wasting, we drove to the first property we were viewing, to meet the estate agent.
Property number one was a decent enough property, with a very good burglar alarm. The alarm was so good it refused to stop ringing. The estate agent tried everything to turn off the alarm, he couldn’t.
We explored the house, as the estate agent nervously looked out of the lounge window, saying he hoped the neighbours didn’t go mad. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ The estate agent made several phone calls hoping someone could help him reset the burglar alarm, but no luck. He said he’d take us to the next property, and sort out the burglar alarm later. As we left the house, locking the door, the alarm stopped. :)
We liked this first house, but were less impressed with the actual street.
The second house was not as nice as the previous property, but the street was much nicer. The property smelt very damp, and was mouldy, there was fungal growth all over the walls and ceilings.
The estate agent said the previous occupants had probably been growing marijuana in the house, which explained everything.
As neither of the two houses we’d viewed felt right for us, we said goodbye to Hartlepool, but with plans to return on Friday to view another property.

After a very long day we drove to our accommodation.
We had wanted to drive to Seaham, where we were planning to house-hunt the following day,
but we stopped before we got to Seaham, not because it was particularly far, but because we couldn’t find any campsites, so we had to book a hotel. The best deal we could find was in a place called Pity Me. Hahaha! Hope that’s not a sign. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
Our accommodation was nice, it would have been even nicer if it was cheaper.
We had a drink in the bar, before dinner in the restaurant, followed by a film, then sleep.

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Thursday

We had breakfast at our hotel, then drove to Seaham hoping to view some properties.
We found parking close to the estate agents, popped in and arranged to view 3 houses at lunchtime.
As we had time to spare before the house viewing we went for a wander round Seaham.
First we walked along the high street. We did a bit of window shopping. We saw a Wetherspoon pub, which is good, as we like Wetherspoons because they do decent enough food, and value good beers. :)
Then we walked to the harbour, looked at the boats, and stopped for a cappuccino in The Lookout cafe. We sat outside on the deck overlooking the sea, which was very pleasant.

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Coffee drank, we then walked back to the car, drove along the seafront, parked up again, and had another wander along the coast.
The lady who’d served us breakfast earlier that morning at our hotel had mentioned Lickety Split Creamery & Juice Bar, but when we walked past neither of us were in the mood for ice-cream. Oh well, I’m sure we’ll visit there again in the future.
Time seemed to be going very slowly, we still had a couple of hours before our first house viewing appointment, so once again we got back in the car and drove further along the coast.
This time we parked opposite St Mary the Virgin church. We crossed the road and walked around the church and its wild graveyard.
St Mary the Virgin church has a late 7th century Anglo Saxon nave, and is regarded as one of the 20 oldest surviving churches in the UK.
We took some photos of the wild flowers and graves in the graveyard, as well as the church building itself.

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Then it was finally time to meet the estate agent at property number one.
We were quite interested in the first house we were shown. Then it was on to the next house. This property required too much work to make it habitable for us, so we went on to house number three. House number three was fine, but we preferred the first house, so we followed the estate agent back to house number one.
We looked round it once again, and decided that we definitely did like what we saw. Food for thought. We said goodbye to the estate agent, and drove back towards our hotel.
We were hungry, so we stopped in Durham for lunch. Curry! Because it’s ‘curry club’ at Wetherspoons on Thursdays. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I had a dragon curry, chicken, and very hot, Mrs.R opted for lamb rogan josh. Both curries were served with pilau rice, naan bread, popadoms, and mango chutney. A couple of pints of Strongbow completed our late lunch. We had Strongbow because it was one of the choices of drinks included in the price of our food. Otherwise we’d have had one of the ciders from their cider festival.
Lunch eaten, we had a brief walk about, before returning to the car and driving back to our hotel in Pity Me.

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Friday

First thing in the morning, after a very unimpressive breakfast at our lodgings, we headed to Hartlepool to view a house. It was a nice little house in a nice street but the big downside for us was the fact that the master bedroom was very small and it would have been hard to squeeze in a king sized bed. This house was so close to what we want, but alas not close enough.
We then set off in the car South towards Lancashire and found a campsite to call home for a couple of nights.

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The Quechua tent was up and pegged in a couple of minutes. Then it was just a matter of inflating the air beds, and chucking the sleeping bags into the tent.
House building done we then drove to Nelson to look at houses. Unfortunately there was nothing decent on offer in our price range.
It was then a quick trip to a local Lidl supermarket for some food supplies, and then back to the campsite.
I fired up the camping stove and rustled us up a meal. I sautรฉed lots of onions and garlic, that Mrs.R had helpfully chopped up, then I added passata, followed by fresh mushrooms. I let the sauce simmer for a good while, and then I cooked some egg tagliatelle. It all tasted pretty good, even if I do say so myself.
Meal eaten we sat in the car, to hide from the bad weather, and watched films on the iPad.

Saturday

We headed to Burnley for some more house-hunting. We managed to find parking, which was not an easy task because all of the short stay car parks had been taken over by the police.
It seemed we had picked a bad day to visit Burnley because there was a march on, and not just any march but one by the far right. Given the number of police we saw, it looked to be a big protest with a lot of potential for trouble.

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We stopped for a coffee and then popped in to a couple of estate agents.
We then drove around a few streets in the budget area of town. There were lots of boarded-up and derelict houses. In fact, street after street, after street of them.
Burnley was not the town for us.
Feeling a little deflated we retreated to The Anchor Inn in Salterforth for lunch and a few beers.

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Sunday

We departed Lancashire and drove to the hotel I’d booked, The George in Piercebridge. On the way we stopped for breakfast, and to visit Richmond and Richmond Castle in North Yorkshire.
There was little else to do with regards to house-hunting because it was a Sunday. A day of rest. :)

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Monday

We departed the hotel in Piercebridge and headed to Seaham, but first we needed to stop at a Halfords in Darlington.
The previous day the oil warning light in the car had flashed on a few times, so I thought it a good idea to top the engine oil up.
Many years ago Laura’s Jaguar XJ ran completely out of oil, and there was a very nasty clonking before it juddered to a halt.
Not wanting to repeat this experience, I erred on the side of caution. It cost ยฃ35 for a bottle of oil, the car took a 1/4, which saw us safely on our way to Seaham.
Once we reached Seaham we headed to the house we had viewed the week before. I went for a walk locally to see the area, and Laura stayed outside the property. By the time I returned to the house Laura had got chatting with a local lady. She then knocked on the door of the house next door to the one we were interested in to ask the occupant what the street is like to live in. The lady who owned the neighbouring house invited us both in, and gave us loads of information about the street, the neighbours, and the area.
Feeling good about the street, and the area, we drove to Reeds and Rains estate agents and put in an offer on the property.
Then it was off to the pub for lunch and a beer. I spent more time finding us a place to stay for the night online then I did over lunch. It seems this area of England is very lacking in hotels, and campsites for that matter. There are some, but all are midrange for price but low-range for comfort etc. In the end I settled on a guesthouse in Sunderland.
We motored to Sunderland, found the guesthouse, parked up and headed into the town centre. I needed to get a mini bank statement for the estate agents to show I had the funds available to purchase the property in Seaham.
Happy days! The money was in my Natwest current account.
Then it was off to the pub for a couple of beers, before heading back to the guesthouse.

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Tuesday

I had seen a property listed on the RightMove website in Easington Collieryย , so I decided to drive down to have a look at it, and the surrounding area. On first impressions I was a little dubious about the street, but after viewing the rear of the property and seeing the extensive regeneration work that had taken place, I was a lot happier. I was even more happy after walking round the area for a while.

We then drove a little way up the road and parked at the coastal walk car park. We went for a little stroll along the coast path at Easington Colliery.
After a very enjoyable walk, and lots of fresh sea air, we went to a local estate agent to book an appointment to view the house in Easington Colliery.
The appointment was for after 4pm. We were hoping for something earlier, but no luck. So, we had lost of time to waste.
First we drove to Crimdon Dene, where we walked in the nature reserve, and then on to the beach. The sky was much less cloudy that it has been recently, the sun even shone on and off. There were quite a few people walking with their dogs, and also a couple of people horse riding on the beach.
Crimdon Dene is absolutely lovely, we thoroughly enjoyed our long refreshing walk, listening to the birds and admiring the scenery.

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We then drove to Peterlee where we had lunch in a Wetherspoon, The Five Quarter.
After lunch we still had some time to waste before the house viewing, so we popped in to Asda to buy some red wine, goats cheese, and mascara.
Not your typical dinner ingredients, but we like to mix things up a little. ๐Ÿ˜‰
Then it was finally time to meet the estate agent at the property in Easington Colliery. He was there when we arrived, so we went straight in to the house. Five minutes later I said I’d buy it. The agent said he’d let the vendor know, and we said goodbye.
So, I’d now put in an offer to purchase a second house in the same week.
By this time we were both knackered because we’d been awake since 5am. I drove us back to our accommodation in Sunderland where we spent the remains of the day relaxing, eating, drinking red wine, watching Foyles War, and catching up with writing blog posts.

A week in review – Road tax, Apple Genius Bar and Camping

Wednesday

We headed up Whiteladies Road in search of a Post Office, eventually finding one hidden away inside a Tesco. ยฃ140 later we had a Road Tax disc for our new car. Driving on the roads in Britain is not a pleasurable experience, the potholes, lack of proper road signs, signs hidden behind trees, raised drain covers, uneven surfaces etc. make sure of that. Having to pay ยฃ140 for the displeasure really is shocking.

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Thursday

We went to the Apple Store.
We met a hipster. :(
I had a problem with my iphone5 because despite purchasing it as an unlocked phone, it was locked-on to the Orange network. I’d bought a new nano sim on the 3 network to replace the Orange SIM card because it offered better a better deal, but it wouldn’t work in my iPhone.
I’d tried all the obvious things to fix my phone; a restart, resetting to factory settings etc. but nothing resolved the problem.

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So we had to go to the Apple Store to get them to sort out my iPhone.
We arrived at the Apple Store just after they’d opened. As we walked in we saw several members of staff standing chatting amongst themselves. One of them, the hipster, stopped talking and greeted us. He asked us how he could help. I told him about my iphone 5 being locked on to the Orange network. He said I had to speak to someone in their customer care department; Apple Genius Bar. But instead of him just phoning upstairs to the on site Genius Bar, or sending us straight up there, he said I had to download an app, and the use the app to book and appointment for the Genius Bar. Whilst I was downloading the app, and going through the booking process, he continued to stand holding his iPad in its red cover, and rambling on about various services and stuff that I had no interest in. He also said that I’d have to come back when an appointment was available, which may be in a couple of days, or a couple of hours. I told him that we didn’t live in Bristol so this was inconvenient. He said that I’d have to go to another Apple Store and make an appointment at their Genius Bar, unless I could get an appointment at the shop I was standing in.

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There were no other customers on the ground floor of the Apple Store, but there were about half a dozen staff, milling about doing nothing. Why they couldn’t help me, I don’t know.
Anyway, the hipster, was still blathering away, patronising us – as in ‘are you sure your iphone is unlocked, you old people you don’t understand technology, have you had your iPhone for long’ etc. I told him that we’d been users of Apple products for many years, and had iPhones for several years too, and that yes of course I was sure my iPhone 5 was unlocked. Honestly!
Eventually he finished his scripted nonsense about various services available at Apple. He glanced at his iPad, with its red cover, and said, “there’s an appointment available for you now, go upstairs and speak to any member of staff holding an iPad with a red cover.
A red covered iPad! Er, like the one he was holding, and the ones all of the staff on the ground floor were holding. Yep, like that.

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It must be tiring being a hipster, I say this because the clearly exhausted guy never once stood up properly during the whole time he was trying to sell us this, that, and the other Apple products and/or services. He was so tired he’d remained slumped against the counter.
Anyway, having been in Apple for what felt like weeks, we walked upstairs where we saw, surprise surprise, several members of staff holding iPads with red covers.
In the far corner of the too floor was the sign ‘Genius Bar’. We walked over to be greeted by a young lady, holding a red covered iPad. We told us to wait. Wait for what I’m not sure, as she wasn’t doing anything. About a minute later she said she was ready to help.
So, having been through everything downstairs with the hipster, the hipster with a serious attitude problem, I had to go through everything again.
Eventually the young lady began the process trying to fix my iPhone 5. She started by asking me if my iPhone was definitely unlocked. Yes, it’s unlocked! She checked the serial number. Then she told me that, yes, your iPhone is unlocked. Der!

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Having established what I already knew, that my iPhone was unlocked, she then began tapping away on my iPhone, and her iPad. During this time she also called a colleague over, to ask his opinion. He asked us what the problem was, despite the girl already having told him. We told him; iPhone 5, unlocked, but locked on to one network. His response? “Wow!” I guess geniuses don’t want to waste their precious brains in conversation. Having said ‘wow’ he then wandered off.
The young lady continued clicking various things in the settings on both my iPhone 5 and her iPad.
Eventually, after what felt like another week, we were told the phone would now work with my 3 network nano SIM card.

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We said that as we’d also purchased another iPhone 5 at the same time as the iPhone she’d just fixed, would that also be locked, despite it also being purchased as an unlocked phone. She said it may be. She then checked the serial number of the other iPhone, and yes, it was also locked. She said both iPhones had locked on to the networks of the first nano SIM cards we’d put in them. This iPhone had a 3 network nano SIM card in it, which is the network we intend to stay with. But we don’t want any problems in the future is we decide to change mobile networks. So the girl said she would make sure this didn’t happen. She said it may take a couple of days, and a message would be sent to that iPhone confirming that it was unlocked.
At the time of writing, 4 days later, no message had been received.

I am a fan of Apple. But this whole experience was ridiculous. It was obvious that I could have, and should have been seen within seconds of entering the Bristol Apple Store. There were no other customers, there were lots of staff doing absolutely nothing, and yet I had to waste my valuable time going though the lengthy appointment making nonsense, listening to the diatribe of the hipster, being patronised and spoken to as if I’m an eejit who knows nothing about technology,
and finally explaining my problem to 3 members of staff. What a joke!

Friday

We caught a taxi from our hotel to the car auction where we collected our new car. Our first trip in our new motor was to a petrol station.

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ยฃ83 later the car was full. Mrs.R was so shocked by the price on the pump, she took a photo of it – much to the amusement of the ladies behind the counter. When I walked in to pay, they were laughing and saying, ‘she’s probably shocked by the price’. I said, yes she’s is that’s why she’s taking a photo. They laughed some more, but probably not as much as the chancellor of the exchequer.
Tank full, of expensive fuel, we pointed the car East and headed towards Reading, Berkshire.

We went to Decathlon where we purchased a tent, a couple of sleeping bags, air bed, pump, gas stove, a couple of foldable chairs, and a few other bits and bobs.
We were going camping!
We didn’t go camping.
The weather had started cloudy, and by the time we’d bought the tent etc. the skies had darkened and it was raining, heavily. So, being the hardy people we are, we decided to book in to a hotel. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ We chose a very nice coaching inn in Ripley, Surrey. Much better than a tent. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Ripley was a nice little village, with a good choice of amenities. The high street had various shops, as well a couple of cafes, and pubs. We went for a beer in one of the pubs, follows by a late lunch in one of the cafes. Mrs.R had a cheese ploughmans, I had a chilli sausage in a baguette. The food was nothing special. The coffee menu sounded impressive, several different coffees from various countries, with detailed descriptions of taste, flavours, brewing dates etc. Unfortunately the coffee menu was far more impressive than the actual coffee which tasted like warm water. Disappointing.
We spent the evening relaxing in our hotel.

Saturday

Early in the morning we drove from Ripley in Surrey to see my parents in Croydon.
After a pleasant visit we headed across London to the M1.
This is when it all went horrible wrong.
We were both tired, and not really with it.
It was the Troop in the Colour. We didn’t know.
We were both tired, and not really with it. ๐Ÿ˜‰
Despite knowing the way from Croydon to the M1, for some unknown reason, I decided to use Google maps on my iPhone 5.
To cut a long story short, we basically drove round in a big circle, spending one extra hour getting to the M1. Eeejits!

Once on the M1 I drove until I felt like stopping, which happened to be in Coventry.
Not wanting to get our brand new tent dirty, we once again booked a hotel for the night. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
Coventry was not our sort of place, which may or may not explain why we drank more beer than was sensible in the Wetherspoon pub in the town centre. The pub was packed, to overflowing, everyone seemed rather squiffy – when in Rome, or Coventry………..
We did have an early night though, which was sensible as we set off early the following morning.

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Sunday

Bright and early we set off from Coventry to Nuneaton to visit Mrs.Rs brother.
Once again we weren’t with it, as we were unaware that this Sunday was Fathers Day.
We arrived in Nuneaton intending to go out for lunch at a country pub.
The first pub I drove us all too was closed down.
The second pub, was fully booked with families celebrating Father’s Day.
The third pub, a Brewers Fayre at the Marina, was also very busy with families out for Father’s Day, but thankfully we managed to find a table.
Well, actually we found 3 different tables. Initially we sat inside by the bar with our drinks. Then we moved outside to the terrace, overlooking the canal boats on the water, and watching the ducks, and a swan with her 4 signets. It was quite chilly sitting outside.
Finally one of the staff found us a table inside, upstairs, in the warm.
We ordered lunch. Mrs.R had lamb with mashed potato and peas, her brother opted for the carvery, his friend ordered vegetarian lasagne, and I had a steak and ale pie. The food was nothing special, but it filled a gap.
After lunch we returned to Mrs.Rs brothers home for the night. We chatted, we drank red wine, we chatted. Mrs.R was very happy to be spending time with her brother after being away travelling for so long.

Monday

We woke quite early but didn’t rush off anywhere. We drank coffee, and chatted some more. Eventually we said goodbye to Mrs.Rs brother and began driving to York, our initial destination.
After a while we felt like stopping for a stretch, drink etc. so I stopped at a motorway services.
The car park was crazily busy. I drove up and down the aisles, eventually finding a free spot.
Mrs.R was hungry, so she popped in to M&S where she bought a few things for us to share, a pack of 3 sandwiches; prawn, BLT, and ham with mustard mayonnaise, a pack of 3 mini sausage rolls, an apple & mango smoothie, and a large bottle of mineral water.
We sat in the car park for ages, not sure why. We were knackered. We sat watching the craziness of the overflowing car park and numerous vehicles driving up and down looking for parking. We soon realised that most of the cars were full of people who’s obviously been to a festival. We later heard on the radio that it had been the Download Festival at Donnington.
We are so put of the loop with what’s going in in Britain. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
After resting for a long time at the services, we planned to rejoin the M1, intending to drive on to York. Mrs.R said I looked exhausted, so we changed our minds about York and decided to stop for the day as soon as possible.
Once again we had intended to camp in our new, and as yet unused tent. But as the cheapest campsite was not cheap, and the cheapest hotel was only a couple of quid dearer, it seemed like a no-brainer. Why stay in a tent, when we could stay in a hotel complete with hot running water, electricity, heating, TV, and no need to blow your own bed up?
I used the Booking.com app to book a night in – no bloody idea, somewhere near Rotherham. We’re too far from the South to have a clue where we are. ๐Ÿ˜‰
So, we didn’t quite make it to York. It seemed mad to continue driving up North for the sake of it. No doubt, it’ll still be there tomorrow.
We checked-in, then had a much needed afternoon nap. Lovely!

Tuesday

We were up early, so we drove to Bridlington, which we really liked, but unfortunately there were no houses for sale in our price range. :(
Then we drove up the coast to Scarborough where we stopped for lunch. We chose a busy little cafe, which seemed popular with the locals. Mrs.R had a vegetarian lasagne, I chose chilli-con-carne.
After lunch we had a little wander round town, took a few photos, and then returned to the car and motored on to Robin Hoods Bay where we spent our first night camping in our new tent.
We’d been to Robin Hoods Bay many years ago, we liked it then, and it hadn’t changed at all. Last time we’d visited in the Winter, and we’d been there very early once morning so there was no one about. This time it’s the Summer (supposedly ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and there were quite a few tourists, and a couple of large groups of children on school trips.
We had a pleasant stroll down along the sea walls and in to the village. There were a few people on the beach, mainly people walking their dogs. We did a little window shopping, and then had a very slow walk back up the winding road to one of the pubs where we sat outside with a drink.
After our drinks we went to our campsite, Hooks Farm. We quickly put the tent up, it took about 10 minutes in total, from erecting it to securing it with pegs and guide ropes. Not bad for a ‘2 second’ tent. :)

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Then we sat admiring the beautiful view down across Robin Hoods Bay and out to sea.
It was a bit too chilly for us to sit outside for long, so we relaxed in the back of the car watching a film on the iPad.
During the intermission, I made dinner. As we weren’t able to purchase anything decent in the local shop, I sautรฉed some onions and garlic with some curry powder, in to which I scrambled some eggs. It was a tasty dinner.
The campsite was fairly busy, with an equal amount of people in tents and caravans.
Just after dark the police turned up. We watched as they ‘knocked’ on one of the tents, receiving no reply, the policeman undid the zip, and then shone his torch inside. There was obviously no one at ‘home’. After chatting to one of the campsite owners the policeman left. They returned the following morning, just as the tent was being dismantled. Not sure what happened.
After we’d eaten dinner, and washed up, we watched some more programmes in the iPad, before retiring for the night.
The campsite was really peaceful, we drifted off to sleep with the sounds of birds singing and sheep being sheep in the neighbouring fields.
And so ended this week.

A week in review – Porthcawl, Bristol and a Citroen

Wednesday

Welsh adventures.
By adventures, I mean a short walk to a pub, but it was in Wales, so it surely that must be a Welsh adventure. The pub in question was called the Globe Inn. While there was nothing special about this boozer, we did meet an interesting customer.
The poor chap had clearly had some sort of accident because his arm was bandaged, and he was obviously super keen for the bandage to stay on because he had secured it at the top and bottom with gaffer/duct tape, directly on his skin.
I’m betting removing the tape will be an injury in itself. Ouch!

Porthcawl, Wales

Thursday

Like pebbles on a beach…….
The sun was out, so what more excuse did we need to visit the beach.
We walked into Porthcawl, and then onto the rocky beach to explore the rock pools etc.
Lots of photos later, we retired to the high street and stopped for a much needed ice cold pint of Strongbow cider in the Rock Inn.

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We’ve gone off cider later, but today with the temperatures pleasantly high, and feeling particularly thirsty, the Strongbow cider seriously hit the spot, perfectly refreshing.
Then it was a quick visit to Home and Colonial Delicatessen (64, John Street) where we perused all of the delicious looking foods, before purchasing some goats cheese, olives, and bread. As we were queuing to pay we nibbled some of the complimentary bite sized pieces of chicken and sweetcorn pie that were on the counter – very nice indeed.
While in the town centre I also snapped a few photos of the locals as they went about their daily lives. It would have been rude to turn down the chance of an in-depth anthropological photo study of the Welsh.

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Homemade pie nibbling, cheese, olive, and bread buying, followed by some photo taking, we then enjoyed a slow walk back to Newton for a late lunch – leftovers from yesterday.

Friday

Another beach day, but this time nowhere exotic like Porthcawl. Instead it was the beach at Newton, only a couple of minutes walk from where we were staying at our friends house. Well, it should have been only a couple of minutes, but Mrs.R was in charge of navigation, so it took a little longer to find the footpath leading to the beach. By took a little longer, I mean after walking back on ourselves several times, we finally saw the sea, about 15 minutes later.
While the beach was fine, the weather was not. It was cloudy and windy (A Welsh Summer), so I only took a couple of photos. I did not even bother getting my camera out. Instead I just shot the pics on my iPhone5.
That was the extent of excitement for the day.

Saturday

The day started and finished with a visit to the Ancient Briton in Newton, Porthcawl. We started off sitting outside at the front of the pub in the sun. We both had a pint of stout, Brains Black, it was pretty good. We began to feel hungry, so we moved inside the pub to eat. Opting to eat the same for lunch, we both ordered one of the daily specials, a Turkey Thai Green Curry. The pub was quite busy by this time, there were lots of people sitting waiting for food. Eventually our curries arrived, but unfortunately they weren’t worth waiting for. A thought the portion of rice and curry was quite generous, the taste was not good. The turkey was in a sauce that can only be described as ‘interesting’. It was so far removed from a Thai Green Curry that it’s difficult to know exactly what it was. It tasted like a meaty gravy, it was grey in colour, and not pleasant. The rice was bright yellow and mushy. The specials only cost ยฃ4.95, which having tasted one of the them, is ยฃ4.94 too much. :(

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Disappointing lunch over, we strolled back to our fiends home, where we spent the rest of the day and evening relaxing, by which I mean don’t absolutely nothing at all. Perfect!

Sunday

Our last full day in Wales. Our amigo had the entire day off of work, so was cooking up a storm in the kitchen.
We didn’t want to get in the way, so we skipped off to the pub, the Jolly Sailor, but the pub decided not to serve us, very possibly because we are English. You may think it was karma because we’d left our friend cooking lunch, but we had helped preparing some of the vegetables, so I’m sure this wasn’t the case. ๐Ÿ˜‰
The rest of the day was a tad strange to say the least, but when in Wales every day is a little strange.
The evening was a little better because we headed to the Globe Inn for a drink, and not only did they not hate the English, they were very friendly. And a big plus was them having decent beer on tap. After a pleasant drink in the pub we had an early night in preparation for the an early start the next day.

Monday

Early Monday morning we headed off to Bristol. First it was a bus to Bridgend, a very expensive bus; it costs ยฃ3.70 each to travel 5 miles. Then a train to Cardiff, and then another train to Bristol.
From Bristol Temple Meads we walked to our hotel in Clifton. A very long walk, it took us about 3 hours, but helped by stopping of in The Berkley pub for a beer to help us on our way. The pub may be where the majority of the 3 hours were spent. ๐Ÿ˜‰
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Tuesday

Going once, going twice…….
We spent the morning at Manheim car auctions. The plan was just to look at the vehicles, and get a feel for the auction.
That plan lasted about 45 minutes. A 2010 Citroen C5 tourer came on the auction floor. It fitted all the criteria. The bidding started at ยฃ4000, I started to bid at ยฃ4500, and I was successful. Ten minutes later I had paid for the car and the buyers premium. I came away just under ยฃ5000 poorer, but with a decent car. :) There was a small problem, because the M.O.T. Certificate was missing so we had to go just up the road to an M.O.T. testing centre to get a new one printed out.

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We were car owners!
We headed into the centre of town for a celebratory beer at V Shed. Then it was back to our hotel. We decided to leave our new car at the auctions for the remaining few days of our stay in Bristol. Drinking and driving is never a good idea.
Back at our hotel I spent the next couple of hours searching online for a decent deal on insurance for the car. Finally I found the best deal I could, and so ended our car purchasing day in Bristol.

A week in review – Ale, trains and Wales

Wednesday

We went to Poulton-le-Fylde. We didn’t do much there, first we popped in to the Old Town Hall pub for a beer. Shocking I know! ๐Ÿ˜‰ The board outside promised many things; a friendly welcome and several interesting beers on tap. Rather disappointingly, the welcome was anything but friendly, in fact the batman was downright unwelcoming and grumpy, and the two beers we asked for were not available, although we did try a rather good one which I have written about in a separate blog post about the Old Town Hallย pub.
When we arrived in Poulton-le-Fylde it was busy, there were quite a few people milling about by the pub. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, but the atmosphere was somber. We soon realised that the majority of people standing about chatting close to the pub were attending a funeral at the church opposite.

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As is often the form for us, we popped in to a second pub whilst in Poulton-le-Fylde, The Bull which was much friendlier, so we decided to eat lunch there. A couple of pints and a couple of chicken curry pies. Good stuff!
We had a little wander round the town and that was about it for our visit.

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“Poulton-le-Fylde is a market town in Lancashire, England, situated on the coastal plain called the Fylde.
There is evidence of human habitation in the area from 12,000 years ago, and several archaeological finds from Roman settlement in England have been found in the area. At the time of the Norman conquest of England Poulton was a small agricultural settlement in the hundred of Amounderness. The church of St Chad was recorded in 1094 when it was endowed to Lancaster Priory. By the post-Medieval period the town had become an important commercial centre for the region with weekly and triannual markets. Goods were imported and exported through two harbours on the River Wyre. In 1837, the town was described as the “metropolis of the Fylde”, but its commercial importance waned from the mid-19th century with the development of the nearby coastal resorts of Fleetwood and Blackpool.
Poulton is approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) from Blackpool town centre. Poulton has a farmers’ market once a month, and since October 2011 there has been a weekly market on Mondays in the centre of the town.”

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Thursday

After venturing away from Blackpool yesterday, to visit Poulton-le-Fylde, we decided to stay local on Thursday. We did our usual routine, in that we don’t have a particular routine, so we just did what we felt like, when we felt like it. This day it didn’t entail much, we went for a nice walk along the coast, took some photos, shot some video, drank some beer. So, all-in-all a pretty good day. :)

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Friday

We had a lazy day yesterday, so today we thought we’d leave the confines of central Blackpool and see what else the area had to offer. Lytham and St. Anne’s. We caught a bus to Lytham which is a lovely little town with a village atmosphere. We were hungry when we arrived so after a brief stroll we started looking for suitable eateries. We chose a cafe called Java, which is also a wine bar, and restaurant. I ordered the full English; it was good, not your typical greasy spoon fry-up, and Mrs.R chose eggs Benedict, which she said was nice.

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After breakfast we walked down to the seafront and strolled along the coast. It was very pleasant, there were people walking their dogs, cycling, playing with children on the green and a few taking photos of Lytham windmill, including us. Snap, snap, snap!

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Breakfast walked off, we caught a bus back towards Blackpool stopping off at St.Annes, where we stopped for a lovely pint at a Wetherspoon pub called, The Trawl Boat Inn, Mrs.R had a deliciously dark pint of Lytham Stout, I had….. cant remember. We sat outside the front of the pub soaking up the sun with all the other serious drinkers. ๐Ÿ˜‰
Drinks drunk we walked to the pier, which was busy, there were a lot of people sitting eating fish and chips at the chippy at the entrance, and more people playing on the amusements on the pier itself. Mrs.R decided to go wild too, she put 2 pence in one of the coin drop pushy shovy thingies. She didn’t win. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
The excitement of the amusements was almost too much for us, and we’d built up quite a thirst, so we went to a pub for a drink. Unusual for us. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We went to The Lord Derby, mainly because it’s right next to the bus stop where we’d be going back to Blackpool from. The Lord Derby was packed, mainly with families sitting outside sweating and burning in the sun. We decided to sit inside, although it wasn’t any cooler, in fact Mrs.R commented that the radiator in the tiny ladies loo was on full blast. Phew! Our drinks did little too cool us, that’s once we finally got them. Despite the bar itself not being busy with customers waiting to be served, I had to wait ages.
The Lord Derby is a horrible pub, it’s stuffy, grotty, grimy, the service is bad, and our glasses were dirty. Mrs.R took one look at her glass, and because it was so dirty she chose to drink her orange juice straight from the bottle.

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We didn’t linger, we knocked our drinks back and left.
We didn’t have to wait long for the bus back to Blackpool, which was good as we were keen to leave the experience of The Lord Derby behind us as soon as possible.

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“Lytham St Annes is a conurbation in the Fylde district of Lancashire, England. The neighbouring towns of Lytham and St-Anne’s-on-the-Sea (nearly always abbreviated to St Annes) have grown together and now form a seaside resort. The towns are situated on the Fylde coast, south of Blackpool at the point where the coastline turns east to form the estuary of the River Ribble leading inland to Preston. St Annes is situated on the northern side of the turning and, like Blackpool, overlooks the Irish Sea, whereas Lytham is on the eastern side and overlooks the Ribble Estuary.
Lytham St Annes is internationally renowned for golf and has four courses and links, the most notable being the Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club, one of the host courses for the Open Championship, also known as the “British Open”, which has been a competition course since first hosting the Open in 1926. Approximately once every ten years, the coming of The Openโ€”a major sporting eventโ€”brings a major influx of visitors, including the world’s media, into a fairly peaceful community. Lytham St Annes is considered to be a wealthy area with residents’ earnings among the highest in Lancashire. It is popular with engineers and scientists from the nearby BAE Systems site in Warton, which provides some highly paid jobs that underpin the local economy.
Lytham was founded around 600 BC. For many centuries the economy of Lytham was dependent on fishing and shrimping, until the advent of tourism and seaside health cures. After the start of the Industrial Revolution, wealthy industrialists moved from the east of the county. Lytham’s tree-lined streets are flanked by small shops, of which many are still family businesses.
Notable Lytham landmarks include the Green, a strip of grass running between the shore and the main road; the recently restored Windmill and Old Lifeboat House Museum are to be found here. One of the sails of the Windmill was replaced in 2012. The Green overlooks the estuary of the River Ribble and the Welsh mountains. The centre of Lytham contains many notable buildings including Lytham public library, railway station, market hall and “The Clifton Arms” Hotel. Also located there are “The County” and “The Ship and Royal” public houses. Some of the oldest buildings are found in Henry Street and Dicconson Terrace. Henry Street is also the location of the Taps public house, which is one of the most popuar real ale establishments on the Fylde and which has won an award every year since the present proprietors arrived in 1991.
Until the middle of the 20th century the Clifton family was the leading family in Lytham and two of the town’s main thoroughfares are named in their honour. Their estate on the outskirts of Lytham and Ansdell originally occupied a huge area. Lytham Hall, the family seat, remained in the family’s ownership until 1979, after which ownership passed to a number of corporate bodies. The grounds of the Hall are occasionally opened to the public for open-air concerts and plays. Several of the ornate gates to the estate and much of the distinctive pebble bricked boundary wall survive. The parish church for Lytham is St Cuthbert’s Church located on Church Road overlooking the Lytham YMCA Football ground and the Ribble Estuary. The town has its own brewery.
St Anne’s-on-the-Sea (also known as St Annes-on-Sea or St Annes) was a 19th-century planned town, officially founded on 31 March 1875 when the cornerstone of the St Anne’s Hotel was laid. The town was mostly laid out according to a plan drawn up by businessman Elijah Hargreaves, who saw the economic benefits of attracting large numbers of visitors from the mill towns to the east. It retains much of its original character today, and is fighting hard to become a stylish town to rival Lytham, its nearby neighbour. It is a traditional quiet Victorian/Edwardian seaside resort with up-market hotels, a sandy beach, donkeys, a small pier and ice cream stalls. Sand dunes fringe the beach and the town has an excellent, but little-known sand dune nature reserve and very good floral displays.
St Annes is the original home of Premium Bonds and their prize-selecting computer ERNIE, which were situated on a site between Shepherd Road and Heyhouses Lane. Premium Bonds operated from there for more than 40 years and then moved to Blackpool. The shopping area declined towards the end of the 20th century and was redeveloped in an attempt to attract more retailers and shoppers. As part of this project a restaurant quarter was established, centred around Wood Street. Work began on a ยฃ2m restoration project in Ashton Gardens, a park situated near the town centre. As this is where many of the activities for St Annes Carnival are held, the 2009 carnival was cancelled and the 2009 carnival queen’s title was extended by one year.
The beach to the north of St Anne’s Pier was an internationally renowned sand yachting location for many years, but sand yachting has been suspended since 2002, when a visitor to the beach died after being hit by a sand yacht. St Annes Beach also hosts a number of kite flying events each year. In 2006 kite enthusiasts raised concerns about the future of these activities following a decision by Fylde Borough Council in 2006 to ban the flying of kites with two or more lines anywhere in the Fylde. Following representations from kite-fliers and completion of a risk assessment, the council rescinded the ban on condition that kite fliers remain at least 50m from the sand dunes. A memorial statue of a lifeboatman looking out to sea was placed on the promenade at St Annes after the Mexico Disaster of 1886. The original lifeboat station was established in 1881 but closed in 1925 due to silting of the channel (a secondary channel of the Ribble that ran past the pier). A lifeboat continued to operate from Lytham, but the main channel of the River Ribble also became silted up, so the lifeboat was moved to a new all-weather RNLI base a few hundred metres south of St Annes pier which opened in 2000. St Annes Library and Information Service is situated just outside of the town centre in an Edwardian, Carnegie-funded building.
There is some confusion, even among residents of the town, about whether the correct name is “St Annes” or “St Anne’s”. The apostrophe has been dropped from the name by many of the residents of the town and has long been absent in many formal uses, such as local newspaper the Lytham St Annes Express, St Annes Parish Church, and Lytham St. Annes High Technology College, although the spelling St. Anne’s is still sometimes used.
On 23 October 2008 a bronze statue by sculptor Graham Ibbeson of comedian Les Dawson, who lived in the town, was unveiled by Dawson’s widow and daughter in the ornamental gardens next to St Annes Pier. Comedian George Formby, Jr. also lived in the town.
The area is known to have been populated during the Bronze Age, and scattered hamlets have existed there ever since, including a village called Kilgrimol or Kilgrimhow, which is believed to have been founded in around 900 AD by Vikings expelled from Dublin. The area including the Fylde was known in Anglo-Saxon and medieval times as Amounderness. Lytham is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Lidun. In 1199 Richard Fitzroger gave his Lytham estates (then known as Lethun) to the Benedictine monks of Durham. The monks established a priory (although it was really too small to be called that as it comprised three or four monks only) on the site of the present Lytham Hall. The Priory existed until 1539; in 1540 the monastery at Durham was dissolved and the Crown became Lord of the Manor.
The manor of Lytham passed through several owners until in 1606 it was sold to Cuthbert Clifton for ยฃ4300. Clifton enlarged the manor house and made it the family seat. The house was replaced in 1757 with the present Lytham Hall, designed by architect John Carr of York.At this time St Annes did not exist, but Lytham was large enough to be called a town, with its own promenade and a reputation as a resort.
Northwards along the coast from Lytham, within the Clifton estates, were mostly sand dunes. The only habitations were the tiny hamlet of Heyhouses and the rural Trawl Boat Inn (a name resurrected in recent times for a public house in Wood Street in St Annes, opened by Wetherspoons). In 1873 the Cliftons built a chapel of ease dedicated to St Anne in this area, to encourage better religious observance, as most inhabitants found the long journey to St Cuthbert’s in Lytham too onerous. This became the parish church of St. Anne’s. At the time it was built the church had no tower. On 14 October 1874 the St Anne’s-on-the-Sea Land and Building Company Ltd was registered, mainly at the instigation of Elijah Hargreaves, a wealthy Lancashire mill owner from Rawtenstall whose intention was to develop the area as a resort. The land of St Annes was leased from the Clifton estate for 999 years, although the lease still gave the Cliftons the right to kill game on the land for this period. Building rapidly commenced with the St Anne’s Hotel (built in 1875, since demolished), the Hydro Terrace, which later became St Annes Square, and the railway station being among the first buildings. A separate company was formed to finance the construction of the pier, which was opened on 15 June 1885. At that time the main channel of the River Ribble ran by the end of the pier, and boats would bring people in from Lytham and Southport. The Ribble Navigation Act of 1883, which came into force in 1889, was intended to stabilise the often silted River Ribble to allow a steady trade into Preston docks. However, this work moved the main channel much further out and left St Annes Pier on flat sandbanks, where no ships could dock. In June 1910 the Floral Hall was opened at the end of the pier. It was a popular attraction and stars including Gracie Fields, Leslie Henson and Claude Hulbert all performed there. In 1974 a major fire seriously damaged the hall. It was restored to some extent, but another fire in July 1982 destroyed it. About half the pier was then demolished to make the beach safe to use.”

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Saturday

First thing in the morning we headed to Blackpool North train station to collect all of the tickets for our future travels. We had tried to get them at several other train stations in the area, but none had ticket machines. Blackpool North only had one machine. It seems a strange way to run a train network, when you are encouraging travellers to purchase their tickets online, and yet making it difficult for them to be able to retrieve their train tickets.
Once we’d collected our many many train tickets we caught the tram to Fleetwood for a look round. The looking started with looking at beer pumps in The Thomas Drummond (Wetherpoon). Wobbly Bob from the Phoenix Brewery was the beer of the day for the both of us.
All was going well, until I stepped into the beer garden for a cigarette. It seemed I’d stepped into a local meeting of the EDL/BNP/National Front. Four guys were sitting at a table spouting racist nonsense. They tried to involve me in their racist rants, but I was not taking the invite or bait. The lead racist moron was a Londoner, his mates were Liverpudlian. It would seem even racist scum go on holiday.
After the pub we took a walk along the Esplanade, before catching the tram back to Blackpool town centre and a beer in The Layton Rakes, another Wetherspoon pub. This time is was a pint of Abbot Reserve for me, and an orange juice for Mrs.R.

Sunday

We dossed round town, popping in to the Pump and Truncheon with the idea of having lunch, but we gave up on that idea because no one else was eating, and the beer was rubbish.
We escaped to a cafe just down the road for lunch. We both had a 3 course meal. To start was a tiny glass of orange juice, followed by roast lamb, followed by double chocolate fudge cake for Mrs.R, and apple pie for me. No frills, basic, good grub, and friendly service.

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Monday

Training days. We departed Blackpool by train at 6.40am. First stop was Manchester Piccadilly, where we had enough time between trains for me to up my nicotine with a couple of fags outside, while Mrs.R went shopping. She bought a sandwich, a couple of smoothies, and a packet of minstrels for us to share on the next leg of our journey southwards.

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Cigarettes smoked, food and drink purchased it was then time for the 8.30am train to Bridgend.
The journey wasn’t too bad, we were both very tired, having hardly slept the night before and having an early start. We tried to sleep, but we couldn’t because there were a couple of very unhappy young children sitting a few seats away, crying and calling mummy every few minutes, for the whole journey. Oh well, such is life, as least we rested our eyes in between looking out of the window as we moved past the lunch green fields full of cows, sheep, horses, and rape seed.
Then the fun started when we reached Bridgend because we headed to the Wyndham Arms for a couple of beers and lunch. The Wyndham Arms is an interesting boozer full of ‘real characters’. The guys at the table next to us were pouring lager down their throats like their stomachs were on fire.
We supped a couple of beers with our lunch, while enjoying the free entertainment. While the clientele may have been a little ‘rough and ready’, they were friendly enough, and we even got chatting to one old chap who recommended a few nice local pubs.

Bullmastiff, Strong Cask Ale

We’d been waiting in The Wyndham Arms for our friend to meet us after work. Drinks, food, and entertainment meant the time went quickly, and before we knew it, it was time to meet our friend. We went supermarket shopping to pick up some grub and booze, before going back to our friends home. The home which is our latest temporary home until we outstay our welcome.
We were in Wales!

Tuesday

Our first proper day in Wales saw us doing what we prefer to do every day – not much. We were both still knackered from a sleepless week in Blackpool and the train journey from there to Wales, so we just mooched about, happy to be still for a while after two years of travelling.

A week in review – Birthday, Beer and Blackpool

Wednesday

It was a surreal day. We travelled up to London to visit my parents. My mother said happy birthday to me. Not having any idea of the date, I assumed she was correct. We then went for a birthday lunch at the Kingswood Arms, which I paid for. Then we went to see my father.
On the way back to my parents house we passed a sign advertising a fair in Ashburton Park, which informed us that my birthday was not until Friday. Actually the sign made no mention of me by name, or my birthday, but it did state that the funfair commenced on Friday the 24th, and so all was clear, I now knew when to celebrate. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
The day continued to be surreal. On the drive back down to New Romney in Kent we caught the tail end of a news story on the radio. It was about a vicious attack, but we had no idea of the location, or the nature of the attack.

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It was only once we had settled down for the evening in front of the news on television that we saw that it was a Jihadist attack on a soldier in Woolwich, London, an area we know well.
My thoughts are with the soldiers loved ones, and anyone else who has suffered loss, irrelevant of their religion, beliefs, nationality etc.
I’m saying no more about this sad news, mainly because I’m too tired to write a book, as that’s what my thoughts about it would result in.

Thursday

We had a houseguest coming, well, a caravan guest, so we headed down to Hythe to do a little food shopping.
We usually eat randomly, at various times, we don’t have a traditional routine, but we figured our guest would probably appreciate a proper meal during his stay.
We pulled into the crazily busy supermarket car park, found a spot, and just as Laura headed over to the Pay and Display machine there was a sudden violent hailstorm. Very bizarre weather for the South of England at the end of May. She rushed back to the car, soggy parking ticket in hand, and then we both made a dash for the supermarket. We were so taken by surprise as the large hailstones pounded and drenched us that neither of us thought to take a photo. We were more concerned with rushing across the car park to the warmth and calm (compared with the hail storm) of the supermarket.
It was as crazily busy inside the supermarket as it was in the small car park, but we whizzed round chucking whatever took our fancy in to the shopping trolley. Grub bought, job done.
Our guest arrived at about 8pm, we all headed to the pub for a couple pints, and then it was back to the caravan for something to eat. A fish pie Laura had spent the afternoon making. It was the first time she’d ever made it, and it was very tasty.
By the end of the night, which was about 3am the following morning, there were a lot of empty beer and wine bottles. We’d drank the caravan dry.

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Friday

A hangover day. There’s not much else to say.

Saturday

Feeling a tad better we took a short drive into Romney Marsh, and stopped for a beer at the Star Inn. Then it was back ‘home’ for lunch. Chicken cooked in cider, served with rice.

Sunday

It was our last day/night in the caravan so we spent most of the day packing our stuff. It only took us all day, on and off, because we’re shirkers by nature, not because we had a lot to pack. We hardly have any belongings at all.
Apart from packing we ate. Weird and wonderful concoctions of what was left of our fresh food. I’d purchased way too much food, probably because I’d been so pleased to be able to cook again, after so long travelling. What we didn’t eat, we boxed up to give to my mother.

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Monday

Just another manic Monday…
We drove up to Croydon from New Romney. It was a pleasant drive. Partly because we left at 6.30am and partly because it was a Bank Holiday Monday.
There was hardly any traffic on the road, so it took less than 90 minutes.
Once we arrived at my parents house we decided to have a look at the car rental booking form, only to discover that the Avis depot we were due to return our hire car to, was closed on the Bank Holiday Monday. After a quick phone call to Avis, we managed to sort out another return location. Victoria. This was a major result for us because we were heading to Victoria anyway. This meant we had one less tram and one less train to catch. Result!
We drove into London and dropped the car off at Victoria Coach Station. The very same station we were departing from.

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We then caught a coach to Blackpool, via Preston.
Yet again it was a replacement service and not the National Express coach we’d booked. Ergo no WiFi, no comfortable leather seats, no air-conditioning, and to top it off, the bus was also uncomfortable and dirty.
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En-route the coach stopped in Birmingham, and Wigan before it reached Preston where we changed coaches.

Birmingham
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Preston
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It wasn’t the most pleasant day of travelling we’ve ever experienced, the bus was hot and stunk of fuel, but we did get chatting to a lot of people. By we, I mean Mrs.R, she enjoyed a good natter with lots of people, some on our coach and others who were waiting for buses at Preston coach station.
After 12 hours of travelling we finally arrived at the guesthouse in Blackpool. We dumped our bags and headed out to get something to eat. We ended up a the Auctioneers (JD Wetherspoon). The beer was good, but the food was terrible. We both ordered the roast of the day. I wanted beef, but they didn’t have it, so I ordered the same as Mrs.R, chicken. The chicken was seriously overlooked, beyond dry, the ‘roast potatoes’ were in fact deep fried, the vegetables were mushy. If we hadn’t have been completely exhausted we would not have eaten it, but we simply did not have the energy to go anywhere else. It was the worst meal we’ve ever eaten in a Wetherspoon pub, and we frequent Wetherspoon pubs a lot. :(
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Tuesday

Our first full day in Blackpool saw us heading into the centre, it was cold, wet, and windy.
We popped in to the tourist information centre to ask about buses and various other things. Whilst waiting to be served we noticed that the group of women milling about outside were wearing sparkly dresses and vertigo indulging heels. Then we saw a few blokes dressed in suits. It was a wedding! Apparently you can get married above the tourist information office, because there’s a registrar office there. It was a surprising scene.

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Anyway, back to our tourist info needs, we asked about public transport, and then as we were leaving the lady said, “I don’t know what your plans for today are, but as the weather is so horrible, you could go in to the Blackpool tower ballroom and watch the dancing, if you go up to the stalls – for free”.

Blackpool Tower Ballroom

Mrs.R was grinning from ear to ear, she loves Strictly Come Dancing, and has wanted to see the glitzy ballroom interior, so how could I refuse? ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s not really my sort of thing, but it was pleasant to get inside out of the cold and rain, and actually it was quite interesting watching the couples trot around the dance floor. There were a couple of professional dancers, two women, who mainly danced with each other, as well as lots of older couples who were clearly enjoying their moment under the spotlights.

Blackpool Tower Ballroom
It was quite busy on the dance floor level, there were people of all ages, although the majority were pensioners. Several people were enjoying a cream tea, others were tucking in to jacket potatoes, whilst some just sat drinking beer. Directly across the dance floor in the stalls facing us, were two couples sitting watching the dancing whilst eating their packed lunches. It was a pretty surreal experience.
After we’d been sitting, shooting photos and video of the dancers, dancing, and the ornate gold interior of the ballroom, Laura took mercy on me and said we didn’t have stay any longer. It had been nice, but I was pleased to leave. There’s only so much loud organ music, and so many sequins twirling that I can take in one day. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A week in review. Geox, Asda, Goji, and a Car Boot Fair

Wednesday

It’s a new day, it’s a new dawn….. But the same old crappy weather. Well, we are staying in a caravan in Kent, so regardless of the month, it’s England, the weather would be dire. I bet if you built a caravan park in the middle of the Sahara Desert it would rain nonstop.
Maybe I’ve figured out how to cure the drought problems in Africa? Build caravan parks in the areas where you need more rain.
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Back in Kent and the real World, it was off to Ashford Designer Outlet (Kimberley Way, Ashford. Tel:01233 895900) to look for a couple of iPad and iPhone cases, and whatever else we happen to see. The iPhone and iPad cases eluded us, but I did get a pair of Geox shoes, so it was not a completely wasted trip.
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Just like normal Mrs.R came away completely empty handed.
After we’d finished shopping at the designer outlet we popped next door to the Asda Superstore to pick up a few bits and bobs. It was an odd place. A good few of the customers looked very unhealthy, with bad complexions. There were also a few sporting a lot of gold jewellery, and they definitely were not L.A. rappers. Ashford may only be few miles from London but wandering round in Asda it felt like being in a different country. I wonder what it is like in the local Lidl or Aldi?

Thursday

Hermit day. We stayed in the caravan and ate roast lamb. Nuff said!
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Friday

We headed into London on family business, but also made a brief side-trip to PC World where we picked up two very nice goji cases for our iPads, for the bargain price of ยฃ10 each. I also purchased a Western Digital 500gb hard-drive to back up the hard-drive on the MacBook. Unfortunately they didn’t have any decent iPhone5 cases, so the hunt continues.
Goji iPad Case
There was good news in the morning post, my replacement photo driving licence had arrived, so we visited the Avis car hire office on the Purley Way, where I was added to the car rental, to give Laura a break from driving, or as she said – a break from not drinking beer. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Saturday
White Horse

Sunday

Bright and early we headed to the Ashford Car Boot Fair. We weren’t looking for anything specifically, although we wanted to get a couple of cheap iPhone5 cases to last us, and protect our phones from being damaged, at least until we can find decent phone cases (probably via online shopping), for which we will need a permanent postal address for delivery. Thankfully we both found an iphone5 case we liked. Unusually for me, as I like rbight colours, I chose a plain black flip-case, Laura opted for a bright pink one, which matches her pink iPad case.
I also picked up a new cigarette rolling-machine, plus several packs of papers, and to celebrate I had a full English breakfast in the onsite cafe. Laura wasn’t hungry so she sat people-watching while I scoffed my fry-up. :)
Full English breakfastAshford MarketIPhone5
It was an interesting experience at the market. Maybe it was because we’ve been away from England for so long on our travels, but there seemed to be a lot of ‘unique people’. Weather-wise it was a cool morning, but there were lots of people wearing shorts and t-shirts. Maybe the flesh exposing clothes were chosen to show off their numerous tattoos?
Luckily I was not intimidated by the inked-army because I was with a badass tattooed lady. Well, I was with Mrs.R, and she’s inked. By inked I mean she’s got a spiritual symbol tattooed on a very visible part of her body. ๐Ÿ˜‰ By which I mean, she has a small Om tattoo on her hand, but not sure if that is badass enough. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
Back ‘home’ I rustled up some flatbreads to have with our lunch. It was first bread-making in nearly two years. The flatbreads came our good, the generous slathering of butter perfected them. Delicious!

Monday

Having spent most of our time doing nothing but relaxing, interspersed with sleeping, and eating we thought it was time we did something touristy, so we headed to Rye Harbour, Rye, and last but not least the Chapel Down Vineyard.
It was a cloudy day but dry until we reached Chapel Down.
Walking round Rye Harbour was surprisingly pleasant considering the dull cold day. We both took quite a few photos, and I even shot a little bit of video. The harbour and surrounding area would obviously have looked nicer had it been bathed in sunshine, but even in the gloom there were interesting textures, shapes, and colours.
There were lots of seagulls, and various other birds busily going about their lives, a few old couples walking hand-in-hand, and sludge, there was lots and lots of sludge. Thankfully there was also quite a lot of clean long grass on which we scraped and wiped our filthy boots before returning to the car. I don’t think Avis would appreciate us returning the hire car to them having used the footwell carpet as a doormat, and I definitely wouldn’t be impressed by the extra cleaning charge. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Tuesday

Yet another day of tourism for us. We headed to Lydd for a look round the village, which mainly consisted of us spending ages in the churchyard photographing the graves, grounds, and exterior of the church, and popping in to the very friendly newsagent to purchase a Euro million lucky dip lottery ticket. After which we headed down to Lydd-on-Sea for a beer at the Pilot Inn. Well, a beer for Mrs.R, and a soft drink for me. I came very close to wetting my whistle with a pint of real ale, but unfortunately not close enough. I parked in the pub car park in front of the pub. As soon as we entered the pub the barmaid greeted us with a smile and asked what we’d like. As we scanned the pumps to see what was on offer, my lovely wife turned to me and said she’d drive if I wanted a beer. Not surprisingly I said, yes! to which my lovely wife said, ‘oh, I don’t really want to drive I was just offering to be thoughtful, as I thought you’d say no.’ The barmaid laughed and said to Mrs.R, I didn’t think that was a genuine offer. I was crushed. That may be a slight exaggeration, but I’d been looking forward to a nice pint, not a glass of something soft. Anyway, I ordered a coke, which at least was a proper glass of Coco-Cola from a can, and not watered down crap from a siphon, or worse still Pepsi. Mrs.R chose a pint of Adnams, which she said was really good, repeatedly. Mrs.R seemed to find it amusing that she was on the beer, and I was on the wagon. I must admit that, thankfully, traumatic pub visits like this happen very rarely. :)
A nice pint of beer may have eluded me on this occasion but I still enjoyed our brief stop at this pub. After we’d finished our drinks, and just as dozens of pensioners arrived for their fish ‘n chip lunch, we left and went for a walk down across the pebbles beach which was directly outside the pub. We strolled right down to the sea, or at least I did, Mrs.R stopped about halfway down saying she wanted to stop and admire the view, take a photo, and enjoy the sea air. She also said it was bloody cold, and she didn’t want to walk down to the sea as walking back up involved a lot of hard work across millions of pebbles. Fair enough! I was happy to paddle in the sea by myself. Ha! Not really, it was bloody freezing, and windy, so we were both keen to get back in the car.
We returned to the caravan, and that was about it for the day, and night.

A week in review. The return to England, RyanAir, iPhones, and Chips

Thursday
This week we returned to England after 659 days of travelling the World. We departed Riga, Latvia with heavy hearts. A quick taxi ride to the airport (10 LVL) and then it was into the hands of RyanAir. We had to queue up to pay a security tax of โ‚ฌ7 each. The queue was very long and hardly seemed to move, then a member of the airport staff went to a machine that looked like an ATM, this caught my interest and that of a few other people who were queuing.
I left Mrs.R in the main long queue for the official counters, and walked over to join the very short queue at the machine, paid with a bank card, and saved lots of time and aggro. Great, a good start to our bucket flight back to Blighty.
We then checked in at the RyanAir desk which was almost empty because the majority of passengers had remianed in the long queue to pay the security tax.
We quickly zipped through the security check, even with us both getting a thorough pat down, and then with a quick flash of our passports we reached airside.
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There was not a lot in the airside section used by RyanAir, just a couple of shops, a cafe, and a moneychangers, but there was a smoking room, which made me happy. Even if there had of been more shops I doubt any of the passengers would have gone on a spending spree because RyanAir impose a very strict ‘one bag only’ allowance.
Boarding the ‘plane was a bit of a ‘free for all’ mainly because RyanAir do no allocate seats, but we got seated together. The ‘plane was almost full, but there were two seats vacant across the aisle from my seat, so after takeoff I changed seats, which meant we both had a decent amount of room. Highly unusual for a RyanAir flight, but most pleasant. The cabin-crew, trolley-dollies, or whatever politically correct name we’re supposed to call them these days were also unusual. Unusual in the fact that they were all very friendly and pleasant, not the normal rude crew we’ve experienced previously on RyanAir, which made a journey we were not looking forward to, because we didn’t particularly want to return to England, all the more bearable.
RyanAir
Once at Stansted airport we spent 40 minutes in yet another ‘free for all’ queue at immigration, passport control. As we stood, the only Brits, in the ‘queue’ with millions of other people, by which I really do mean millions, the ‘Welcome to United Kingdom’ signs loomed large above our downcast heads. It was true, we were back ‘home’.
Ryanair
Needless to say we got on the slowest queue. Eventually it was my turn, followed closely by Mrs.R. We were both scrutinised intently by the stern looking immigration officer. For the sweetest split-second it felt like we were going to be denied entry to Britain, but alas he waved us through. ๐Ÿ˜‰
We walked through arrivals and we purchased a couple of National Express coach tickets to London Victoria (ยฃ10). The bus was meant to have free WiFi onboard, but when it arrived it was a replacement coach from KingsFerry, and there was no WiFi.
That was only the start of the amusement. The driver had a GPS stuck to the windscreen and was using it to navigate into London. We had only been heading down the M11 for about 10 minutes when the GPS told him to take the next exit, which he did, the direction was incorrect, but luckily he figured this out and rejoined the M11 heading South.
For some reason he kept the GPS on all the way to London Victoria coach station, and seemed to enjoy conversing with it. We were sitting in the front seats of the coach directly behind the driver, so Laura engaged the driver in conversation while I looked out of the window at the passing city scape. Although in her defense he did start the conversation, and being a serious chatterbox she was happy to be engaged.
The driver was a typical professional driver, he constantly moaned about black-cab drivers, buses, and more or less everyone on the roads, without any sense of irony that he too was a bus driver, all be it with a posher bus.
Despite us both having distinct London accents, the coach driver obviously thought it was our first time in the city, because he gave us a running commentary on all of the major landmarks; the Gherkin, St.Pauls etc. Laura happened to mention that we hadn’t seen the Shard, to which the driver said, ‘you should have told me, I’d have driven you right past it’. The driver and Laura chatted all the way from Stansted to Victoria which meant the journey went quite quickly, and it didn’t feel long before we arrived at our destination.
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Video of the drive into London

The fun continued at Victoria Coach Station. We stopped at the entrance, unable to drive in to any of the coach bays, because there was a coach in front of us which had broken down. Our driver was not keen to let folks off the coach, (health and safety yadda yadda yadda) even after Laura promised to start a riot. ๐Ÿ˜‰
After a while of sitting on the coach which was half in and half out of the coach station, and with much talk between our driver and various members of staff at the station one of the passengers, a Spanish lady, came to the front of the bus to ask what was going on. The driver told her he couldn’t get in to a parking bay, so therefore he couldn’t let any passengers disembark. The lady didn’t speak any English, the driver didn’t speak Spanish. It was interesting watching and listening as they both yacked away at the same time, neither of them listening or understanding. Eventually the lady returned, unimpressed, to her seat.
Laura then decided that she’d had enough ‘being held captive’ so she stood up and told the driver to open the door. I think he was about to refuse, but saw that Laura was going to open it anyway. She’d seen the door release button on the dashboard, so she was prepared to make her escape. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ The driver opened the door, just as Laura saw that several of the coaches that had by this time backed-up on the main road outside the coach station were starting to offload their passengers directly on to the tarmac. Apparently not all coach drivers adhere to the strict health and safety rules.
So, after what felt like longer than the actual journey from Stansted to Victoria, our waiting came to an end, we were free to breath fresh air. By which I mean we were back in London proper with all the lovely car fumes etc. It actually felt surprisingly good to be back ‘home’.
Having had enough of travel for a while we postponed jumping on a train to Croydon, and instead decided to have a late pub lunch at The Willow Walk Pub opposite Victoria train station.
It felt weird going in to the pub, we’d been there before, when we were last in London, and although that was only two years ago, it felt like a different lifetime.
The pub was busy, not surprising as it’s a Wetherspoon pub, they’re known for their reasonably priced booze and food. We scanned the bar hoping for some interesting dark beer to wet our palates. We are both now fans of black, or dark beer, having drank rather a lot of it during our recent travels.
We were in luck as they had several guest beers on, we ordered a couple of pints, one Market Porter and one Dark Star Porter.

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We found a table and perused the menu. It was Thursday, which meant it was Curry day! We ordered a chicken korma for Laura and a lamb rogan josh for me, both curries were served with pilau rice, naan bread, poppadoms, and mango chutney. The beer was good, the food was decent. We sat, we chatted, and eventually we left the pub to catch the train South.

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We finally made it to Croydon, walked to our hotel which was to be our home for the next three nights, and called it a day. I was sound asleep by 8pm.

Friday
We headed into central Croydon. First off we went to the Post Office to send off my old driving license for renewal, and we then killed a some time doing a little light shopping, with a quick pint in the Weatherspoon pub in George Street. Well a pint of beer for me, but not for poor old Laura was the nominated driver because the next stop was Avis car rental on the Purley Way (Ampere Way) and as my driving licence photocard had expired I was excused from driving duties.
Hire car collected we drove, by we I mean Laura drove, to my parents house for ‘family business’, which occupied us for the rest of the day.

Vauxhall Corsa

Saturday
Shopping madness ensued. We headed over to Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent. First stop was John Lewis to purchase an electric razor for my father. Family commitment out of the way, it was then in to Zara and a new Summer suit for me.
I left Laura in Starbucks not drinking coffee.

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She was happy sipping an apple, pineapple and kiwi fruit smoothie, the colour of which resembled baby poo, no doubt telling herself it was healthy. While Laura relaxed with her fruit drink, I sneaked off to the Apple Store with the excuse I was going to have a cigarette and visit the lavatory, but all the while I was buying us an iPhone5 each, and an iPad 3. The shopping experience in the Apple Store was very interesting. Their computer system was down, so all payments had to be done the old fashioned way, with a carbon slip and a manual swipe machine. It was all very 20th century for a 21st century product.

Iphone 5 and iPad 3

I returned to Starbucks and presented Laura with her with brand new shiny iPhone5. She was her normal enthusiastic self, bursting in to tears. They were not tears of joy at receiving the gift of an iPhone5, which she’s wanted since it was launched. They were tears of I don’t know what. My darling wife is not a fan of surprises. After her tears had stopped streaming down her face, Laura decided a white iPhone5 was not for her, so we both went to the Apple Store to swap one of the white iPhone5’s for a black iPhone5. Mrs.R said she’d told me that she wanted a black iPhone5, but apparently I don’t listen. :)
And that was the end of the days shopping trip.
We headed back to Croydon for more ‘family business’ and then we went for a much needed late lunch/early dinner at Combe Lodge. Our first hot meal in two days.

Sunday
We checked-out of our temporary home at the Kirkdale Hotel, and we were both very happy to leave. It was a grotty dump. It smelt of mould and damp, the bedroom was shabby and small. The included breakfast was put together from very low quality ingredients. We had it only once during our three night stay. The only plus, was the fact that it had free off-road parking.

We motored down to Folkestone for a nights stay at Britannia Grand Burstin Hotel (The Harbour, Folkestone, CT20 1TX – +448456431229). This hotel turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. It was very cheap at only ยฃ23 a night, so I was not expecting much, but we ended up with a large room overlooking the harbour. There was free parking, and breakfast was also included, but we skipped it in favour of a sleep in.
On the way down to Folkestone we stopped for lunch in The Hop Pocket pub in Bossington. Then it was onto Folkestone.

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Our first task was to sort out 2 nano sim cards for the new iPhone 5’s. We got one on Orange (EE) and another one on the 3 network from the Carphone Warehouse. Ideally we would have bought both on the 3 network, because their ‘all you can eat data’ is excellent, but the 3 shop had no prepaid nano sims, and the Carphone Warehouse only had one in stock.

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Then is was off for a couple of beers. First stop was the East Kent Arms, an old school boozer. Sports on the telly, sticky carpet, and crap beer. Harsh but true. Then onto the Samuel Peto for a proper beer. This pub was much nicer than the previous, as was the beer. The Samuel Peto is a Wetherspoon pub which is housed in an old church.

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That’s definitely a religion that works for me. A couple of pints of real later and we were feeling good.
To round the day off we had a fish supper back in our hotel room watching the great sea view. We are classy!
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Photos of Folkestone

Video of an interesting phone box in Folkestone, Kent

Monday
We headed out of Folkestone to our new ‘home’ for the next 2 weeks in Romney Warren at the Marlie Farm Caravan Park. We arrived long before the 4pm check-in, so we did what any right-thinking person would do. We went to the local pub, the Warren Inn.

Warren Inn, Romney Warren

Tuesday
In the evening we went to the bar at the caravan site, there was bingo in play. It was surreal. There wasn’t a real live bingo caller, it was all televised. Not our cup of tea, but it seemed to be pleasing the other customers.
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