Housework, shopping & the bloody M25!


Our last couple of days at Llangennith were ‘stay at home’ days – time for D to do some work, for us to chill out, potter about and get some household chores done. We don’t have many to do, but we do need to remind ourselves to do them sometimes! We had glorious weather and I was able to get a load of washing dry – all washed by hand as there aren’t many laundrettes in the middle of fields.

We had a nice lunch at the pub in the local village, run by the grumpiest landlord I have ever met. Goodness knows how that particular careers chat went – ‘Don’t like people, bit rude, generally fed up with life – you should be a pub landlord’. Good food though – Welsh salt marsh lamb and Glamorgan sausages and great chips which are hard to come by and something that we have a bit of a bee in our bonnet about generally.

We loved the Llangennith site. We booked in for two nights but ended up staying four. Each morning, D would go to the farmhouse to ask if we could stay another night and hand over another £6. The lady who ran the site was lovely and very chatty – we had to plan any visit to the farmhouse to coincide with something important like going out to lunch so we had an excuse to leave. It also had the best toilet-emptying facilities we have seen so far (so I’m told – that is a Julian duty so I don’t have personal experience). These things matter when you live in a motorhome.

We moved on a couple of days ago (Wednesday?) to check out Three Cliffs Bay which had been highly recommended by Louise and the guy who came to fix Mum & Dad’s TV aerial while we were staying there. I’m ashamed to say that we sort of missed the bay.

We had the best intentions and were staying at a campsite overlooking Oxwich Bay, just around the corner. We planned to walk from our campsite down to the beach and round to Three Cliffs. The campsite owner assured us that there was a public footpath just along the road. D was working in the afternoon so we packed a picnic so we could have dinner on our evening walk. Unfortunately, the road that the footpath was just along turned out to be the Gower’s M25 (very busy motorway for all the Antipodeans reading). That might be a slight exaggeration, but it was a narrow winding road with lots of blind corners, no verge to jump onto if you feared for your life and enough traffic to put us off walking more than about quarter of a mile. We didn’t get far enough for the footpath – no matter we thought, we’ll drive down to the carpark we can see on the Ordnance Survey map on our phones (technology is a wonderful thing) on our way out tomorrow. First, we’ll check with the campsite owner about access/carpark size etc. Well, the campsite owner didn’t know diddly-squat. He didn’t know that there was a carpark, let alone how big it was and recommended that we didn’t drive down the tiny roads unless there was nowhere we could park or turnaround. We weren’t brave enough to ignore him, so left the south coast of the Gower with just a brief glimpse of Three Cliffs as we drove past. We will return, but probably to a campsite on the beach side of the M25. Nice views from the one we were staying in though and I liked the fact that they left the nest that swallows were building in the ladies loo, together with a notice from the swallows themselves apologising for the mess they were making!

We spent a small fortune in an awful supermarket on our way off the Gower. It was cheap and nasty, without actually being cheap, if you know what I mean. Waitrose might be expensive but at least the food is half decent.

We have had to return to Surrey for an appointment and, despite promising ourselves that we would avoid motorways on our travels, decided that Wales to Surrey without using the M4 was ridiculous. We had a free night at a pick your own farm/farmshop outside Swindon last night, courtesy of a scheme called BritStops, set up to provide free camping for motorhomes at farms, vineyards, breweries etc. In return, you are encouraged, but not obliged, to sample some of their wares. We are suffering the consequences of our farm’s very garlicky Greek burgers as we speak! Mum & Dad travelled down from Abingdon for a coffee and to bring our post and a couple of parcels that we had had delivered to them. We followed them out of the campsite and laughed at them at the first roundabout as they narrowly missed taking the wrong exit and had to go around twice. We did exactly the same thing at the next roundabout (pixies got us) but we don’t think they saw.

Stupid, stupid, stupid – will we never learn?? We hit the M25 – the real one, not the Gower one – at 3pm on a Friday afternoon and promptly ground to a halt. Fortunately, we now have all the time in the world so can bail out at the next junction and take a detour through the delightful town of Staines.

So, we are now settled into a big campsite on the banks of the Thames in Chertsey – about 5 minutes from where we have lived for the last 5 years. As one of D’s friends said, not exactly a world tour is it? Never mind, it is convenient for our appointment and we will be out of here again on Sunday. The campsite is huge by our standards and has Facilities and Rules and Signs everywhere. As we drove to our pitch this afternoon, the site looked lovely – vans and tents dotted amongst trees. However, the electricity posts with four outlets should have been a clue – the site has now filled up and there are people everywhere. Fortunately, we have the last pitch on ‘the island’ – we back on to the Thames with a view of Chertsey Bridge and are far from the madding crowd.

Thanks to everyone who is reading this – we really appreciate the comments, so please feel free to leave one!

S

Ever felt guilty by using a road? There were parts of the M4 in south Wales that made me wish there was a little less road noise roaring out from Han’s 6 tyres and perhaps a slightly less growly note coming from under the bonnet. Some of the impoverished looking suburbs of the large industrial towns had houses so close to the side of our shiny elevated ribbon of commerce that I’m sure if a gust of wind sent us a couple of metres off-line, our wing mirrors would have collected a street’s worth of satellite dishes! I don’t know if the close proximity is down to poor town planning. The lefty in me says, it was more likely, the Highways Agency drawing a line on the map as “the best route”, presenting it to the government of the day, who then rubber-stamped it because, well what the hell they’re only poor and they work in a mine or a steel works so, why would they care. Perhaps I’m over simplifying things. Maybe they love the road, because it’s the fastest way of getting the English back to where they belong. Maybe they love the M4 because it means they can easily get to all the universities and jobs in England and then get back home again to tell everyone how shit England is. I get the feeling the people who live within a short arms length of the M4, despise it. I would. Imagine doing the dishes looking up at the never ending lorries bound for Belgium (I don’t know why Belgium, it just sounded good), toffs in their BMs, and nouveau-hippy types in their big noisy motorhomes.

With all this philosophical motorway musing, it seemed only right to finish on a toilet related comment. Gravel tracks on the Gower – no problem. Bumpy fields in Wiltshire – no problem. Crash, bang, bump, bump, bump. Welcome to back to posh Surrey, where probably only .05 of a percent of the council’s budget is spent on maintaining roads. I’m not talking about a major mechanical fault or fillings coming loose. No, our toilet roll decided to unravel itself like a crazed auto-bog-paper-dispenser with some anger management issues. Oh, you want paper do you? There you go. Yeah and have some more. And some more…

D

Comments;

AUNTIE PEN
S & D
Fantastic – have at last got down to reading the whole bloody blog in one go – only because we hadn’t received any emails or blog address, however English Mum kindly forwarded it on to us. What a clever invention! Seriously, I have SO enjoyed the journey so far and have laughed out loud at some of the comments (I particularly enjoyed the reference to Anne – I used to love the Famous Five adventures and imagine being fancy free in caravans etc!) Rhossili Bay and the Gower Peninsula have been on my list of must visit places ever since I read a really good book based there and from what you say I still want to go there. Looking forward to the next instalment. XX

ENGLISH MUM AND DAD
I know you won’t believe this, but we didn’t miss the exit on the roundabout. Dad thought you were leaving our route at that point and said he would whizz round to wave you goodbye one last time. By the way, we did see in our rear view mirror that you missed your turning at the next roundabout! Lovely to see you and have a coffee and chat. Look forward to the next time.

KAI
Dear Sarah and David,

Thanks for the blog which – apart from the first day – I now look a bit more intensively. And you get a loooong comment now.

I cannot refrain from making some comments on what I read and – hope you recognise (well, you should as you have been writing that very recently) the greater context from which I copied these passages. Just take it as compassion and an attempt to really follow what you experienced, thus making a little journey myself:

Yes, it is one of the experiences you make: Back to basics when you discover that you have that feeling of success and satisfaction after having got a load of washing dry – all washed by hand! Or think about your comment on “the best toilet-emptying facilities”. Yes, indeed: These things matter when you live in a motorhome. The more you value the achievements of our civilisation “we can see on the Ordnance Survey map on our phones (technology is a wonderful thing)”.

A big smile came to my face when reading “I’m ashamed to say that we sort of missed the bay.” (Sorry, it just sounds funny).

Nice that Sue and Chris brought your post and parcels – what a spoiling service! Nice incident regarding the several rounds around the roundabout, well that’s what they are there for, aren’t they? It is kind of cosy also to experience coming home for this or that meeting.

Nice, too, (my English is getting worse given the many “nice” I use) also realise who of you has written which part, very nice.

Now I just realise and appreciate that experience (didn’t I make a remark on technology?) of not needing a tv though I just wish to make that spontaneous exception and watch the final for the 3rd score Sweden – France. My laptop and German tv stations’ live stream enable me!

Great imagination when reading “if a gust of wind sent us a couple of metres off-line, our wing mirrors would have collected a street’s worth of satellite dishes”.

And I realise the entire next para on the M4 planning and the M4 people is just great fund reading! Congrats David!

And then your poor paper roll! Oh gosh! I am dying of laughter! I am heavily distracted what I did a few minutes ago, but only mention now: turning on my “tv”: Like last time we have been in touch, likely on the men’s soccer world championship, your women did not get too far, well, unfortunately ours were following your bad example this time. It could have been such a party in Germany…

May I suggest that it would be a great relief to have not only the “previous” and “next” buttons, but also an upper level where you can then choose which site of the blog you wish to jump. Naturally the more sites you write, the more you need to click back and forth to get to the day you wish to get. May be it would even be possible.

I can imagine this means some hours of work, but be ensured: It is well invested and all users will appreciate it, at least the less regular ones like me. Hence, do not count on me reading your blog too often or responding to possible replies you may give on your blog on my comments. I am just a very busy guy!

Enjoy your further travel, looking forward to possibly welcoming you one day in Berlin. The earlier I know when you will likely be around, the better I can try to plan you in and the more time I can spent with you.

Warm regards from your friend in Berlin,
Kai

AUSSIE DAD AND JAN
Greetings bloggers. Roundabouts are for going round on aren’t they? Except in Canberra where they are so big that at any one time you appear to be going straight on.
As to motorways – I think it’s very sensible to be on one in rush hour in a motorhome. You can just nip out the back and make a cuppa. You could make a quid on the side by laying in a stock of delectable yummies from a cheap and nasty store in a previous town and sell them to your motorway neighbours. I see your cover has been blown. I know a French bloke who came to Australia incognito calling himself David. Maybe you could call yourself Ulysse. OOps I hope the Immigration is not looking. S, you will have to be Desdemona or something (a character in a different book I once read – not Famous Five).
Happy days and keep on blogging.

ANONYMOUS
Hi it’s me again :o)
sounds like your having a hoot hey please
could you do some pictures of the inside of
your motorhome I’d love to see what it’s like
maybe Mark Sophie & I will do this one day
lots of love and safe travels
xoxo lick lick

ENGLISH MUM AND DAD
You don’t often see “impoverished suburbs” and “a streetful of sattelite dishes” in the same sentence. Think on’t!

NICCI & CO
Lovely to catch up, but an RSS feed would be great as I can’t see how to ‘follow’ you!!!

What we need is a map… with a lovely dotted line… sure that’s possible D!

Hope to catch up with you enroute, sometime this summer.

AUSSIE DAD AND JAN
Here in Australia, “impoverished suburbs” and “satellite dishes” are not mutually exclusive. The type of people known here as “bogans” spend a high proportion of their disposable income on V8 cars and satellite TV with a plasma screen the size of a hockey field while their kids are out mugging old ladies to get some lunch money. And it’s not only here (obviously since it seems to be in Wales as well). I was in American Samoa in the 60s where the local people were living in tumble-down shacks but every shack had a Ford Mustang and a colour TV belting out Mickey Mouse Club. Ah Samoa! The gentle sound of the wind in the palm trees and voices in harmony, crooning to simple guitar melodies — not! Fortunately, we were all in love with Annette Funicello so it didn’t matter.

MYXLZ
Did you rewind it ?
. great trip around the home & I saw the real
bridge with rain falling on the picnic tables.

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