Easter Holidays day 2, Loch Lomond

Hi all

We’ve arrived at the stunning Loch Lomond. Man, I really adore this place! This is the third year running we’ve stopped off here, we can’t get enough. Every time we get past Glasgow and cross the magnificent bridge we both start getting excited! Today was no exception!

Last night we had a great night courtesy of Brit Stops. We loved the location, the chilled out ness, the lady was friendly, it was perfect. Jazz however struggled to relax, mainly due to our neighbours (in the cow shed). The sounds and smells coming from the shed confused him massively and as a result between the hours of about 0230 and 0400 he was huffing and gruffing (thankfully not loud enough to stop our sleep too much) and fidgeting and generally being a pain in the bum. Eventually he decided whatever it was out there wasn’t trying to get in and even it it were he were too tired to care, so settled, and that was that until the loud cockerels awoke us with their glorious song around 8am.

We went to investigate the ice cream parlour and to say thank you, but unfortunately we were unable to get in to buy some ice cream until 11am, and we were keen to move on as we knew we had a long journey ahead of us. We will however definitely return there, and are already discussing maybe a cheeky week round the Ripon area at the start if the summer hols!

We managed to hit the road for half 8 and had a very pretty journey through the Dales heading towards Asgarth and Hawdraw. Keith was keen to visit Hawdraw falls, apparently the highest waterfall in England, and also one of the places they filmed Kevin Costner dancing around in water for Robin Hood back in the day. It was a nice waterfall, but I wouldn’t say it was one of the finest I’ve seen. There was a nice gauge with some impressive icicles hanging down, and there was a fair amount of snow on the ground, but for me it didn’t have the same energy or charm as some of the others we visited on our travels.

We hit the road towards Sedburgh, it’s such a pretty route though the Dales towards Cumbria. We always stop for a piccie near Gosforth, and today the hill tops were covered in icing sugar and glinting in the sunshine. We soon joined the M6 northwards and before we knew it we were passing Glasgow. We arrived at Loch Lomond at around half 3, tonight we are wild camping in one of Loch Lomond’s deep laybys right on the waters edge. We stayed here last year too- and it was packed! This year, we are the only van here. We have seen a few drive past on the the A82 but they don’t seem to be stopping here.

We walked up to the Inverbeg Hotel, where we had a whiskey sesh last year. I have been looking forward to sampling a Loch Lomond malt here since then, as I loved it. Unfortunately this year they didn’t have any on stock, and after about 15 mins and 3 different bar men dealing with me, I returned to Keith with a local ish malt that I’ve forgotten the name of and a dram of Glen Keith (which I’m not ashamed to admit I picked because of the name!) I was a bit disappointed with the service at this self titled whiskey bar today, I’ve got to be honest. The three bar men who dealt with me obviously had no idea about whiskey, and I’m by no means an expert. There didn’t seem to be as large a choice as last year, and the detailed whiskey menu we got last year had been replaced by a very confusing whiskey bible, half of which they didn’t stock! When I got back to our table (outside as they wouldn’t let Jazz in) I said to Keith I feel like I’ve been trying to have a conversation with 3 blokes about tampons! However, I must say my random choices of whiskey were actually very nice and we made our way merrily back to Bluebell and sat on our private beach with a G+T watching the sun go down.

The weather has been glorious and according to both our phone weather apps this big round yellow thing is due for the next few days, so we’ve crossed Jazz’s paws and will see what Mother Nature has in store for us tomorrow!

Until then

Lx

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Easter Holidays day 1, near Ripon

We’re finally away! After two horrible weeks of the lurgy hitting our household, and one cancelled long weekend, we spent the last few days preparing Bluebell and wavering between whether or not we should even set off! The weather in Britain has been abysmal to say the least, with headlines of snow across the country, with severe weather warnings not just for snow but also flooding. Looking at the weather map there literally wasn’t a county that looked to be ok as we pondered where we could go if we postponed our planned jaunt up to the top of Scotland. So in a fit of tiredness after our end of term concerts and commitments, we decided “sod it- we need a change of scenery, we’re going to attempt to do our planned tour”. Our main motto in life is “fortune favours the brave” and this tour is hopefully going to prove that- either that or we will return, or get stuck somewhere and return to Norfolk with our tails between our legs!

So back to today, poor Keith had to go to school teaching this morning so I stayed put and made all our preparations so that we could set off as soon as he got home. Preparation for these sort of tours is paramount- we needed to make sure we had enough food and drink and gas for the heater in case we did get stuck. We also needed to pack LOADS of woollies! And plenty of booze as we had read that the rural areas of Scotland shut all their shops over the Easter weekend and we didn’t want to run out of the wet stuff! Other things include charging camera, phones and iPad, make a picnic for the journey, sort clothes, decide on what shoes to take (Lydia!) and general bits like that. I also found time to make 2 dozen chocolate cornflake cakes, like you do!! ( well it is Easter, and you never know, they may prove vital if we get stuck…!) Unusually for us, on this tour we haven’t booked a single site (other than let James at Clachtoll know that we are intending on getting there at the weekend) so we have the Mapbook, the Brit Stop guide and the POI on our sat nag for the wild camping spots across Britain.

We set off in the glorious sunshine at 2:30pm with a mixture of excitement and adventure. We have a vague idea of where we want to be and where but we aren’t tied down at all. As long as we are back in 10 days then that’s groovy!

We drove for 4 hours solid- So, where did we end up? Well, I can’t tell you exactly (unless you are in the “club”- number 715!) , because we are staying at a Brit Stop tonight. Brit Stop is a scheme for motorhomes where local businesses, farms, tea shops, pubs etc register to be included in the guide. They basically offer their land and sometimes a facility such as water, or maybe electric, but generally it’s a car park. Motorhomes such as us then register on the scheme for a single payment of£25, receive a guide book with all the locations in and a lovely sticker for our window and are allowed to visit these car parks to stay for free overnight. Motorhomers are asked to say hello and show some interest in the product, but there is no obligation to buy.

What I will tell you is that we drove through the beautiful Ripon, making a mental note to come back and visit one day, and are parked outside a shed of cows and geese with a fabulous view over the dales and the product here is ice cream!! 🙂

So tonight we can see some snow laying on the sides of roads, but it hasn’t interfered yet- tomorrow we are aiming for Loch Lomond, so we will see how that goes. We’ve had tea, I’ve had a couple of gin and tonics, and frankly the world is looking like a rather great place right now!

Enough waffle from me,

More tomorrow! 🙂

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