Sunday, 29 August 2010

Southern Hospitality

It was a bit blustery so we changed our minds about the hovercraft;
we’ll go back and have a proper holiday on the Isle of Wight at some time, maybe we’ll leave the boat with someone for a week and have a cycling holiday. What we did do was have a couple of very happy days in Portsmouth. Ann-Marie used to live there when she was in college and made some very firm friends through the local 2CV club. So, on Saturday we turned up outside Fran & Sean’s house. We all went for a meal on Hayling Island, then on Sunday Sean took Dave to the Hollycombe steam collection; a fascinating mixture of everything steam driven from fairground rides to threshing machines.
It’s all run by volunteers and Sean has been involved with it for thirty years or so.
Fran, Ann-Marie and the adorable Phoebe had a girly day in the park, singing and dancing in the rain. Thank you both for everything, it was great to see you and be made to feel so welcome.
On Monday we parked up at one end of Portsmouth sea front
and went for a windswept walk along to the other end before driving back up the A3 to see Elaine and Steve. They’ve recently bought a 30 year old folding caravan. It’s in amazing condition and they love it to bits. It was great to see them; we can't stress enough how lucky we feel to have such a wonderfully welcoming bunch of mates.
After tea we set off for Winchester and pulled up on Coops & Carol’s drive amongst a throng of 2CVs, Dyanes and H Vans. This is the advance party for the 32nd 2CVGB National Meeting, this year held in the grounds of Sparsholt College with a Roman theme. We’re helping with the setup; tomorrow morning we all arrive on the site and start putting up fire and water points, marking out roadways and filling goody bags. The weather forecast for the Bank holiday is fairly good but we may have to dodge the showers beforehand.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Frankie's 21st

The gearbox is back in the van and is quieter than it ever was. We really are very lucky; it went wrong when we could stop for two weeks in a place where we had access to tools, a big shed and a bloke called Brian. It was going to go bang at some point and it could have been a total nightmare.
We owe thanks to Ann-Marie’s Aunty Wendy & Uncle Dave for having the van up on blocks in their garden and lending us jacks, to Ann-Marie’s Dad Pete for all his help with the mechanics and moral support and to Ann-Marie’s sister Karen for putting us up (or putting up with us!) for two weeks.

Frankie’s 21st was a blast! The fancy dress theme was “B”; we went as a Butcher and a Baker (the candlestick maker was at the party next door.) We were armed with a basket full of bagels, buns, brownies and bread rolls. Banana Lady won the best costume prize and the Birthday Girl made a stunning entrance as a Beauty Queen.
There was a really good turn out and everyone put a lot of imagination and effort in.

Dave finished Karen’s porch, apart from the painting,
so on Saturday we’re off again. We’re due in Winchester on Tuesday to lend a hand with the set up for the 2CVGB National Meeting over the August bank holiday, so we thought it might be fun to go to Portsmouth for a couple of days and have a jolly over to the Isle of Wight on the hovercraft. Just the two of us.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Entertaining Folk

For one week a year the seaside town of Sidmouth comes alive with buskers, street entertainers and morris dancers everywhere you look and live music sessions in all the pubs. Our first two days at Sidmouth Folk Week were chilled out and relaxed, drinking in the atmosphere and getting to know the town before Ann-Marie’s first dance spots on the programme. Each evening we both managed to join Herbacious Border; a random collection of dancers who get together to dance Border Morris on the seafront at 6pm.

Wednesday & Thursday started early with a Molly workshop, followed by dancing with Pig Dyke in and around town. Friday was a later start which gave our Pig Dyke friends the opportunity to throw us a farewell party on Ann-Marie’s last day of dancing with the side. The festival ended with a torchlight procession along the seafront, Ann-Marie with Pig Dyke and Dave with Herbacious. At the end of the procession all the torches were extinguished in the sea and there was a fabulous firework display.

Saturday morning we were up and away early heading out of Devon, feeling sorry for the holiday-makers queuing up on their way in. We waved to Stonehenge and carried on to meet Ann-Marie’s extended family at the annual BBQ in Wendy & Dave’s lovely garden in Shepperton. Surprisingly, the threat of rain held off and we had a really good day. Between us we’ve seen more aunts, uncles and cousins in the last couple of weeks than we have for years. This travelling lark is definitely a Good Thing.

Things have been a bit busy since then. Dave started work on Karen’s new porch on Sunday and on Wednesday he took the Kon-Tiki over to Wendy & Dave’s to take the gearbox out. Ann-Marie’s Dad has a friend called Brian who’s a wizard mechanic. Brian agreed to rebuild our box, so at midnight on Wednesday, Dave and Pete found themselves in a shed with Brian and a stripped gearbox. The good news is that all the noise was being made by a little cage in one bearing which is replaceable; the rest of it is in good-as-new condition. Brian should have it all back together next week and – fingers crossed - it’ll be back in the van by Thursday or Friday. On Thursday we went mad with a bow saw and secateurs in Karen’s back garden, coppicing the Hazel trees and letting in a lot more light.

This weekend we’re off to Derbyshire for Frankie’s 21st birthday BBQ, another party to look forward to!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Poscard from Cornwall (delayed in the post)

It’s been a while since we updated but we’ve been busy, so here goes.
Our week in Bude was fantastic; it was lovely to get to know Dave’s extended family properly. Ann-Marie’s sister Karen joined us with her family so it made a really good party week. We spent lots of time on the sand and in the surf at Bude and Widemouth beaches.
We did lots of cycling, (Well, it was lots for us, you don’t get 1 in 4 hills in South Lincolnshire!) and a fair bit of walking around local footpaths and the coastal path.
At the beginning of the week there were about 40 of us at the campsite, (as well as our Kon-Tiki the Woods had hired 4 static caravans and there were a couple of tents) so we took the cooking in turns. Thursday was our go; we did mixed kebabs on the BBQ with sweetcorn fritters and roasted cherry tomatoes. That seemed to go down well, but not nearly as well as the chocolate fondue that we did for pudding!
On Friday we rolled up our awning and trundled off with Karen, Andrew, Lauren and Ben to Crackington Haven, where we had a walk along the coast and voted the pasties as the best ever.
Dave and Ben went out to the end of the peninsula across a very scary path that they had to do on hands knees and bums.
We then went for a wander round Port Isaac - an extremely pretty and very Cornish fishing harbour; houses all built on top of each other and narrow, secret looking passages oozing with flower baskets.
We packed up early on Saturday and pulled out of the site at around 8am with Dave’s sister Anne and her bike and son Ben in the guest wing. We drove down to St Mawes on the Roseland peninsula, stopping at a little beach somewhere near Portscatho (we’re not quite sure where, Ben was navigating) There were a lot of Falmouth Working Boats in the water at St Mawes and just after lunch they congregated near the shore for the start of a race. We watched them go out of the bay – such grace and power – these are old wooden boats but the crews don’t hold anything back. What a fabulous sight!
We carried on to Marazion, just outside Penzance. On the way the Kon-Tiki had a go on a ferry in practice for things to come, and parked on the sea road overlooking St Michael’s Mount.
Dave’s sister Kate and Angelo joined us for a birthday cream tea on the sand dunes; unbelievably it was our first cream tea since we crossed the border from England into Cornwall, and was made all the better by the addition of fresh strawberries and raspberries. Happy Birthday (& 1/2) Kate!
It reminded us all of family picnics from our respective childhoods; sand in your food and everyone huddled behind an improvised windbreak. We had a bag of Mini Chedders each though, so it was OK.
We spent the evening at Kate and Angelo’s house then on Sunday morning our house guests, Anne & Ben caught the train home. We waved them off from Penzance then walked back along the seafront to the van before heading off back into Devon. We stopped for the night in Newton Poppleford and had a sunset walk round a lovely little village called Harpford; every house a contender for a jigsaw.
On Monday we drove 4 miles further to the campsite at Sidmouth Folk Week.


On the way down the 1-in-4 into Crackington Haven and – more severely - on the way back out, the Kon-Tiki’s gearbox was not at all happy. It’s now making a distressed rattle in 1st and 2nd.  Luckily Ann-Marie’s Dad knows a mechanic who may be able to rebuild it and replace bearings.  We’re off up there next so fingers crossed.
Lists – unchanged apart from “Fix Gearbox”

Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. Stourbridge Canal. BCN. Grand Union Canal. Kinver to Kixley Wharf

There are 25 locks from Hyde Corner to Merry Hill, but we had a fabulous day working up through them all. The Stourton and ...