Friday, 30 September 2022


Temporarily on hold.

Surprisingly, unexpectedly, liberating and wonderful.๐Ÿ˜

Thursday, 8 September 2022

Rest in Peace

She swore to serve us for her entire life, and she has been The Queen for my entire life.

I knew it was coming but I am stopped in my tracks - slightly surprised at how shocked, numb and bereft I feel.

We will not see the likes of her again - honour, dignity, grace, integrity - values which don’t seem to count for so much these days.

Amidst all the media coverage and public outpourings it must not be forgotten that her children, her grand-children, and their children too have lost someone very dear.

Rest in Peace, your Majesty.

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Wordsworth House, Cockermouth

I should be upfront and say that (in my rarely humble opinion) unless you are a great fan of Wordsworth's writing then I am not quite sure what the appeal of this particular National Trust property would be. After decades of studying Medieval history my interests have slipped back in time and I am now far more likely to get excited about Mesolithic and Neolithic sites although I will grudgingly make time for Bronze Age studies ๐Ÿ˜, so this place is a few thousand years too modern for my tastes. But I was determined to do "holiday things" this week and as energy levels (or lack of them) discounted big fell-walking days I thought that visiting somewhere almost on my doorstep would be a good move.

After Monday's unexpected closure I went in early yesterday and the very helpful and professional reception staff thanked me for returning and handed over a guidebook, free of charge, to say sorry for the day before. I admit after flicking through the book I quietly popped it back on the counter on my way out - they can sell it to someone who is really interested.

The house is much smaller inside than the street front would imply and I am sure by NT standards it's very well done. I found the kitchen area the most interesting, and was saddened to overhear part of a guides' tour telling visitors that there were no servant quarters, and that the cook/housekeeper who was known to have lived in the house at the same time as Wordsworth had no room of her own and probably slept on a pallet in the kitchen. It seems that 250 years on and not much has changed - it reminded me the dreadful stories of modern slavery which make headlines.

Despite all my grumbling, it was a pleasant hour and I am glad I made the effort but as far as this period of English literature is concerned I am a philistine and the displays were mostly wasted on me.

Tuesday, 6 September 2022

A small win and a small fail

Oh dear, been too fully occupied with ordinary life to go on blog-worthy van trips.

Pacing myself so as not to do too much on any one day and then spend the next two or three completely exhausted is working fairly well but it does mean I do not always get as much done as I would like, although on the upside I am tearing through the big "To Be Read" pile at a fantastic pace!

This week I am meant to be in Scotland. It was all carefully planned with a ferry crossing identified, campsites earmarked, and backup campsites if the first choices were not available. And nothing was booked - I had decided to leave it until 72 hours before my planned departure so I had a reasonable idea of what the weather was going to be doing. Rather glad that despite spending hours making plans I had the courage to pull out and say "not this week, thank you" after seeing a forecast for wind, rain, thunderstorms, followed by more wind and rain.

Instead, I declared I was having a 'holiday at home'. Which began yesterday with a small win and a small fail:

I decided to visit the National Trust place in town (Wordsworth’s house) and arrived to find it closed due to lack of volunteers. I shall try again later this week, a fail but only a small one. I did get to wander around the garden for a little while.

With a spare couple of hours I had a long session with the chaps at our tyre/battery place and have ordered a new leisure battery for the Blue Bus. Due to space limitations and the type of battery required it has been hard to find a replacement. Whilst it should not need changing at just over a year old I suspect it has not been well looked after previously. At the weekend I fitted a monitor to it and have proved what I already “knew” which was that it doesn’t hold a charge properly.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

Too busy and too hot

My dear little van and I have run around together every day this week, but none of it has been "interesting" fell walking / camping / campervan stuff. Just terribly ordinary bits & bobs, but no less lovely for that.

I am nearly the only person I know who does not find this heat too much - but as I am retired I can pace myself, stay out of the sun in the middle of the day, and choose where and when I go out. This heatwave has almost given me permission to sit around and read at times during the day when I would normally be doing something, and I think my long-Covid fatigue is much better as a result. Hmm, there appears to be a lesson here ๐Ÿค” ๐Ÿค” ๐Ÿค”.

Earlier in the year I took up a new sport and to my surprise and delight found I am rather good at it. So much so that I have had competitive matches two days this week followed by a long & hot afternoon of coaching. So that was Blue Bus and I out for three consecutive days.

There has been gardening early in the morning before the sun really gets going, grass cutting and Himself bravely got the brush cutter out and took down one of the wildflower meadows. We have let the 'hay' dry for a few days but this weekend I really must make time to rake it all up. The other patch happily seems to have developed itself into a late flowering meadow so we will leave that for a few more weeks.

There has been laundry, and general housekeeping and grocery shopping, and a trip to the hairdresser yesterday afternoon to be greeted with "it is always lovely to see you but you're 24 hours early". I definitely had it written on my diary for Friday and suspect the mistake is not mine - I never go to the salon at weekends when it is busy and noisy. But this afternoon I will be back for a much-needed trim and a tidy up.

Those small bottles of water go in the fridge and are handed out to all delivery people who are ALWAYS so thankful, it continues to stagger me there are some people around accepting parcels but not offering drinks to the hard working staff who are saving us having to go out. It was the same during lockdown ☹️.

In the midst of all this relatively mundane and normal activity there are no plans to go away in the Blue Bus and add a few more miles to my Coast By Campervan project. But at present that is not a problem - campsites are never my favourite places in the middle of school holidays and with temperatures reaching silly-degrees it would really not be pleasant trying to sleep in a tin can. At lunchtime yesterday my thermostat recorded 28˚ indoors, and that was despite having had all the windows open since getting up and all the blinds pulled to keep the heat at bay. When I went to the 'not-a-hair-appointment' it was even hotter.

(Good grief, that thermostat needs a damn good clean, how embarassing . . .)

I have often quietly mumbled that if I were ever to go missing the best place to start searching would be Portugal. I know of a small place inland in the middle of the country, where tourists seldom venture. Once upon a time I nearly moved there and occasionally I wonder what life would have been like had I not been too afraid to take a leap of faith all those years ago? But now I look at 40˚ heat, drought, wildfires and terrible devastation . . . and perhaps there was a reason I did not move? This week is probably the hottest I have experienced since moving to Cumbria and whilst we have had rain the reservoirs are low and stocks of bottled water in the supermarkets are lower than usual. I think everyone is a little worried (and those who are not and blithely say they are not affected are probably idiots).

Sunday, 7 August 2022

No big trips out but lots of van time

And another week - whoosh. It is strange (in a good way) having a van as my everyday vehicle: the feeling of obligation, that I "ought" to go off somewhere, make use of the vehicle and do something "significant" which I always had with Bill has gently melted away. I had an event to attend on Monday evening and was organised enough to arrive about 40 minutes early. Instead of just sitting around I made a mug of tea, sat in the back of Blue Bus and just relaxed, it was quite, quite lovely.

The main van activity this past week has been cleaning. Semi-obsessive "let's do this properly" cleaning which involved snow-foam, a hand wash, then a degreaser, then a iron/corrosion remover, then another wash, followed by Himself going over the whole van with clay, then a polish, then a carnauba wax. Yep, eight processes which should have been nine but I missed out the paint restorer stage because I didn't think it was needed.

Yes, it is a lot of work but why not? I do not live in a dirty house so why would I want to go out and enjoy myself in a dirty van?

All this insanity has been spread over four days and wasn't nearly as tiring as it sounds.

And talking of tiring: yes, the fatigue and effects of long-Covid are still ever present. I continue to read, research, think, and do my best to look after my body in the hope that being sensible for a few months (or as long as it takes) will give me the best chance of, one day, being fully recovered and back to my previous energy levels. Reading Bruce Campbells' site and learning about pacing, and stopping before you are worn out has been exceptionally helpful. As has the friend whose emails give support and advice - thank you my dear, you know who you are. ๐Ÿฅฐ

I am sure at some point Blue Bus and I will go away on holly-bobs, but in the meantime I am focussing on relaxing and:

Saturday, 30 July 2022

Our first adventure (which was very small and not very adventurous)

A gentle day out, not had one of them for far too long. Lovely drive into the Park after breakfast and a cheeky turn into a road which clearly said it was closed.

Which it was - but a little local knowledge can be a very useful thing and I knew I could still get to a small car park on the far side of the water.

Blue Bus enjoyed a terrific view all day:

When I eventually managed to tear myself away from the van and go for a walk it was rather lovely. In perfect temperatures and sunshine I was able to stroll along the closed road knowing the only vehicle I might encounter was the odd bike. Super views as I wandered along under Helvellyn, near total silence and it was quite, quite lovely. Until I got to the United Utilities version of The Bridge of Khazad-dรปm - You Shall Not Pass. Only you could if you clambered over a small wall and went around a rocky outcrop, which I chose not to do. So just a couple of miles on foot but very enjoyable they were.

I had a plan after that: lunch back at the van, then a walk in the opposite direction. Lunch was great, but I got too comfy, way way too comfy and spent the entire afternoon relaxed in my Blue Bus and read nearly a whole book. I kept thinking "wasn't I meant to be doing something else?" followed by "nah, the walk will still be here next week" The unaccustomed and total rest did me good, I think.

And the cherry on top of a perfectly iced cup-cake sort of day ๐Ÿง? I saw Helen Mirren! No, not that one:

This one:

She was parked outside a rather lovely pub/restaurant and what looked like production crew were getting stuff out of the back, I couldn't stop to take a photo so the dashcam will have to do.

The verdict from my first full day in Blue Bus?  ๐Ÿ’ Absolute Result ๐Ÿ’ . It is a very, very different experience from being in Bill, just about everything has to be done in a different, very intentional way but that's absolutely fine. I admit to having been a teeny bit concerned about how I would find the reduced "living" space (which is about a quarter of what I am used to) but it was lovely. Can't wait to get out next week and do it all over again ☺️ .