Sunday, November 27, 2022

Back to"Normal"

We got to have the grand kids over for a night and a day wandering the Wirral looking for Pokemon places. Grandad is now playing Pokemon too!

Then we looked up and it’s September already!

Wow! Just enough time to get the RV into storage, rent a car so we can visit Sally and the grand kids, my sisters, Barb’s brother, sister and sister in law, old school friends and fellow workers. We ate out for lunches and dinners until we nearly burst!

My middle sister who kindly invited us to stay with her for the last 2 weeks organized a huge family get together with nephews and nieces, which was a complete blast with the family photo albums being passed around. Many family legends and secrets were shared to the delight of all!

The car went back to the rental company, a taxi took us to the rail station in Liverpool for the high speed train to London’s Euston Station followed by a ride across London to a hotel next to Heathrow Airport where we had a quiet day off before the flight back to Phoenix.

10 hours and multiple time zones later we were being picked up at the airport by our good friend Bill Jones who drove us back to Sundance and we stumbled back into #2 tired but happy.

We had arranged for a cleaning service to come in and get the place shipshape before we got back and a great job they did. Staranne had stocked the fridge with enough food etc., to keep us going for a couple of days, thanks again!

All we had to do was try and keep awake until our regular bed time. One of our travel hints is to get back to your regular sleeping times as quickly as possible. This helps recovery from jet lag. We always set our watches to our destination’s time soon as we get on the plane. Then when we get wherever we are going we stay awake rather than taking a nap, napping just extends the jet lag.

We were happy as could be the next day when both cars started on the first try! The tires all needed air after nearly 5 months and the dirt and dust was thick on them, so we hosed it off enough to get to the local car wash.

After catching up with our friends, collecting the little mail that had accumulated since we left (we get most stuff electronically), we had to go back to Yuma to collect the RV from the storage unit there.

More joy when the rig started first try! We hadn’t plugged it in when we left it but we had isolated the batteries. That worked out fine. When I checked the tire pressures they were still good too and before long we had the car hooked up and we drove the 3 hours back to Casa Grande.

While all this was going on the TV company in UK sent us a message with the link to the episode we were in. Unfortunately the link was only good for 1 week so it’s pointless to put it in here.

From the comments we got from our UK friends and family, our little segment worked out well. We thought so too when we saw it and our friends here did also. Now our UK friends have seen our US rig and our US friends the UK one.

My sister was a little disgusted by them showing us dumping the sewage, and our daughter thought it was hilarious when Barbara was showing off the giant shrimp we got in Mexico!

Back to normal” seemed to occur in no time, and there we were back at the Elks Lodge having dinner and catching up with our friends. Seems like everyone has been following our adventures in UK via the blog and it has brought back memories of vacations in UK to lots of people. Everyone wanted to know if we were in UK for the Queens funeral, its amazing how many lives she touched.

My mornings (while it was still cool!) are consumed by flying and fixing the radio controlled airplanes. After 5 months off I was a little rusty, leading to a few hair raising moments. The shed was full of models that required fixing from last winters adventures so the days that were too windy to fly gave time to do a whole bunch of repairs and maintenance on them.

Haircuts, shopping, backing up pictures, time has flown by and now we’ve been back a month already! Darts, potluck dinners, breakfasts and dinners out with friends, we are so busy that we haven’t noticed the time slipping by.

And yet there are more adventures waiting in the wings! An RV Rally in California, another in the spring in Tucson. Lots to look forward to.

It appears that I forgot to post this!! 

So here we are in November, almost Thanksgiving and we are on our way back from that rally in California. Anaheim to be exact, with our old friends the San Diego Shanty Shakers for their pre-Thanksgiving event which included lots of eating!

We also stopped in San Diego to see our very good friends from my days working in the shipyard and had dinner with them too!

Keep on enjoying life, see you out there soon!

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Loch Ness and South


Best of all was getting to spend time with our Daughter and the Grand Kids. We are going to miss them when we leave, but luckily we still have a few weeks to visit them before then.

Glen Coe 
They headed south and we headed north to drive up along the Lochs and the Caledonian Canal which links the North Sea to the Irish Sea and cuts diagonally across Scotland from Fort William on the West coast to Inverness on the East coast.

This is the real Scottish Highlands and the road wound upwards thru the Trossack Mountains into the Ben Nevis Range, (Ben Nevis being the highest mountain in UK).

The Trossacks
We found some nice places to stay especially the pub stops! In case I didn’t already mention them, some pubs let you stay the night in the parking lot if you buy dinner and drinks in the pub. Seems like a no brainer to us!

The Lade Inn in Callander was really nice!

Lade Inn pub stop
We passed thru Glen Coe, a high pass that drops you down into Fort William on Loch Linnhe. The Caledonian Canal starts here and follows North East up thru Loch Lochy (No there really is a Loch Lochy!), Loch Oich and into Loch Ness before leading into the North Sea in the Moray Firth.

Glen Coe and a turf house.
Its all spectacular scenery spoiled only by the innumerable tourists (like us!).

The Ben Nevis range of mountains
Unfortunately once we reached the top of Loch Ness it was time to start heading south again. We have nights out planned back in Birkenhead and we have only 21/2 weeks to get back, get the rig into storage and find our way back to London for the flight back to Arizona, It seems impossible that we have been here 4 months already.

Nice stop along the Lochs
We took some backroads on the way South, not wanting to retrace our steps from the trip North. We travelled thru the Cairngorm Mountains, past Edinburgh and thru Moffat where we stopped at another outstanding pub stop The Old Stables Inn. Good food and excellent draft beer.

The Old Stables, another great pub stop.
The coming weekend is the August Bank Holiday in England and we ran into heavy traffic on the way south, when we attempted to take the side roads to avoid it we found everyone else had the same idea! After a few wrong turns we rediscovered the small towns and villages of Cheshire which we hadn’t seen since we were kids and came out this way on church and scout outings.

Arrowe Hall in Arrowe Park
Pretty soon we were back at Arrowe Brook Farm, which has become home from home lately, and working out dates for get togethers with friends and family. We got to have the grand kids over for a night and a day, wandering the Wirral looking for Pokemon places. Grandad is now playing Pokemon too!

Grand Kids enjoying making some artwork

Niall's Rainbow, he even mixed some colors for it too.

Then we looked up and it’s September already!

Saturday, August 20, 2022


Great meeting everyone, thanks Keith and Carol see you again soon we hope!

Suddenly it’s August!

We decided to head to Wales and specifically South Wales an area we haven’t been to before. North Wales, which is closer to Birkenhead, we have explored since we were kids.

Until you come to Britain you don't realize how many sheep there are there.

Our first stop was Cardiff at a public park in the center of the city. We didn’t explore at all just emptied the black and grey tanks and filled the fresh water up while we charged the house battery up and got showers. All very domestic!

We traveled thru some breathtaking scenery such as the Forest of Dean and on to the awesome Pembrokeshire Coast.

Nice little harbor in Fishguard Wales
After a few stops we stumbled on “Cardigan Island Farm” campground right on Cardigan Bay. It had great views, a cafe, Playground for kids and a Farm Animal area that you could walk around and see the animals in pens. At the end of that trail you were on the clifftop looking across the bay and if you were lucky you could see seals and dolphins. We weren’t lucky!

Nice views from Cardiff Farm Park Campground

All too soon we were back at Arrowebrook Farm on the Wirral, our “Home” near Birkenhead it seems. We a had night out with Ken, Angie, John and Daphne one night and Stuart, Linda, Hillary, Sally, Iain, Nial and Katlynd the next. It was a good job the Irby Mill pub was within walking distance!

While we were there we made reservations for the end of August and the first week in September plus reserved a rental car and a hotel in London because the trip home is approaching fast.

We found a storage facility for the RV nearby too because we have decided that we are coming back next year!

We are having so much fun and the RV is very comfortable, so why not?

Our reason for heading back thru Birkenhead was mainly to get up to date with Sally on our planned joint weeks vacation in Scotland.

She has found a camping resort with both static caravans (Mobile Homes) and sites for Motorhomes so we can all camp there. Its full of stuff for the grandkids to do too. Its in Ayr Scotland, so after a few days we headed North using the old roads that existed before the motorways took over.

These led us to the Lake District an area I think is similar to Lake George New York, and for the first time we were turned away from a couple of campgrounds that were full.

Abbey ruins
The first couple of weeks in August is peak season here, the roads are congested, parking lots full and everywhere has been booked up since the beginning of the year. So after a quick look around we set off North again and stayed in Carlisle right below the Scottish border.

Hadrian's Wall 1900 years old.
Along the border runs Hadrians Wall, built by the Romans almost 2000 years ago to keep the marauding Scots out. It still stands in places and we explored it and some Abbeys and Castles nearby.

The Abbey and Town of New Abbey
Once across the border we decided to head West along the coast of the Solway Firth and we were rewarded with some beautiful scenery, no traffic and some more ruins to explore.

Managed a distillery tour along the way also.
Finally we arrived at Sundrum Castle Holiday Park just outside Ayr and set up in our allotted spot.

Maybe it was fortuitous, maybe not, but the kids playground was “L” shaped and our camp site was in the elbow of the “L”. We got the benefit of all the hyper kids yelling and screaming (and some of those little girls really screamed loud!).

At the same time we got to watch the grandkids while they played and we sat in our lounge chairs!

The weather after being great for the whole summer virtually, now took a turn for the worse, but not a really bad turn and most days let the kids play in the playground or we all took a ride into Ayr for shopping therapy.

Grand Kids

I asked Niall to take 5 pictures for me

He did an amazing job with my phone.
These are unedited.
Wednesday was predicted to be the best day of the whole week and we took the opportunity to travel to Edinburg and explore the castle there.

Edinburg from the castle
Its a great place to visit but you need to buy tickets in advance. In addition the “Military Tattoo” was being held in the courtyard. This traditional exhibition of Military skills and traditions is held every year and it’s very difficult to get tickets.

"MY" grandstands! I designed the top bit the camera gantries and lighting towers.
We didn’t attempt to get tickets but I got to brag about the grandstand because way back in the 1970’s I drew all the structure for the Camera Platforms and Lighting towers when I worked as a contractor for BICC in Liverpool that designed and built this PORTABLE grandstand. Yes portable. Every year it is assembled and afterwards disassembled and stored away offsite. It takes about 2 weeks at each end to do that.

Sally and the kids

Gray Friars Bobby, remember the story??
Best of all was getting to spend time with our Daughter and the Grand Kids. We are going to miss them when we leave, but luckily we still have a few weeks to visit them before then.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Steam Rally Welland

There is both a Titanic Experience and a monument to the Titanic’s Engineers who perished that night.

We headed vaguely North and a little West from Southampton aiming for a little spot named Welland for a Steam Rally. By chance we passed a sign for Highclare House which for all you Downton Abbey fans is the actual place where the TV show was filmed. Unfortunately when we got there they told us to keep moving as all available tour spots were full and only advance reservations made on line would get us in.

Highclare Castle
In another of those chance happenings Barbara posted a picture of Highclare on Facebook and my Cousin John and his wife Claire asked where we were because they lived not far away! We found a really nice pub stop at the Two Watermills Inn, had a great evening in the bar and lunch with John and Claire the next day before we left. Another confirmation that NOT making plans can pay off in wonderful ways!

Some of our neighbors along the way
Welland was next.

Some explanations may be helpful.

For the Facebook haters we have to say “Sorry”. We love Facebook and we have got back in touch with people we have lost touch with otherwise. People we have known since we were teenagers or even before that.

When we posted that we were coming to UK and thinking about buying a Motor Home one of those old friends Keith Arthurs popped up and offered help and advice.

Thanks Kit!

Then he told us about a club he belongs to the “Motorcaravanners Club” who have great rallies. Being rally fans we were interested. When he told us that one of the rallies was at a Steam Rally and it would fit our timetable we were even more interested.

We have been looking forward to this.
Keith fixed us up with membership to the club, even putting up the cost of membership for us when there was a problem with our US debit card and the club website! Good man Kit!

We now got to meet up with him and Carol, Poppy and Daisy (the last 2 being their dogs).

Keith and Carol
The venue was a HUGE farm and took up I would estimate to be seven massive fields. It looked like every RV club in the country had a section for them to camp together. “Our” club, the Severn Valley chapter had over 100 RV’s on site and a wild guess had me thinking there were over 1000 total RV’s camped around the event.

Part of the Motorcaravanners club.
It was a 3 day affair although we arrived a day early and got set up ahead of most people, giving us a chance to explore the place before the big crowds arrived.

Large and busy beer tent

Vendors and fun fair
For the uninitiated a Steam Rally is an event where enthusiasts of antique steam powered farm and industrial equipment can get together and show it operating as it would have when it was new.

A steam powered truck

My favorites the Steam Traction Engines

There were Steam powered traction engines, saw mills, road rollers, trucks, stationary engines, operating scale models of them too and most fascinating of all a STEAM POWERED FUNFAIR!

Yes that's a steam powered carousel

The traction engines provide the electrical power for the rides too.

As if that wasn’t enough there were vintage cars, motorcycles, trucks, tractors, military vehicles, construction and earth moving equipment. Models of all those too including radio controlled construction equipment digging miniature holes and moving the dirt around in RC trucks.


Working steam models

Radio controlled earth moving equipment

Working model steam locomotives

Just in case you got bored there was a market area that sold everything under the sun, a food area and a massive beer tent selling micro brewery beer. Oh and tractor pulling in the evenings!

For the finale on Saturday night they had an ABBA tribute band and a fireworks display.

Antique Motorcycles

Gorgeous cars

What with “Happy Hours” with the club, dinners with Keith and Carol, a club raffle etc., the weekend just flew by and before we knew it it was time to pack up and head off again.

Great meeting everyone, thanks Keith and Carol see you again soon we hope!

Suddenly it’s August!