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Sunday, 24 June 2012


We have continued the search for the sun southwards and are now in La Tranche-sur-Mer, a seaside village on the Atlantic coast of La Vendee in France. It has been sunny since we got off the ferry and although the cloud is picking up this evening and rain is promised, the night is the best time for it. More fine days to follow.
People sunbathe, para-sail, windsurf and paddle about. There are lots of shops and cafes, a market on Saturdays and free entertainment in the square. We are a stone's throw from all of it and having a great time.
I read, knit, walk about, drink great coffee and feast on mussels and other BBQ treats.
We even had visitors last week. DJ's sister and BIL came over from where they were staying further up the coast.
It's amazing what you can fit in a camper, and what you can't is available at SuperU a short walk away. Because everything is so close we haven't needed to disassemble the campsite and drive the van anywhere so it has been very restful.
DJ is reading "Dead Men Risen" about the Welsh Guards in Afghanistan. Excerpts shared with me have made me realise that it would not be my choice of holiday reading, but there again, I have just finished "Death of Kings" by Bernard Cornwell. Quite a lot of blood and guts in that too, but of course it's fiction and I can read through buckets of that.
Time for a wine!
Cheers Gillian

Monday, 18 June 2012


A long drive down motorways southwards has brought us to Mudeford in the south-eastern corner of Dorset. We have parked in my sister's yard and will enjoy her fine facilities for a couple of days. It may be the last time we stay here because they have bought a new place down the road and will move into it as soon as everything is ready.
The place down the road has access to the inlet right here and such wonderful views.
We woke again to sun and this time, although clouds came over for a while, they stayed behind us and we walked to the quayside for lunch and on to Avon Beach for coffee and then back to sit in the garden reading.
You don't realise how burning the sun can be when cool breezes blow. DJ has had need of the after-sun cooling spray.
The quayside at Mudeford has evidence of fresh seafood and shellfish being landed, so crab sandwiches were my choice. I would rate them six out of ten. The best I've ever had were at Bamburgh Castle tea rooms (a real ten out of ten) but that was a few years ago.
People were sitting in the sun fishing. Lots were on the quay, crabbing and even the seagulls were ready.
Hoping for more sun tomorrow, but with hats on!
Cheers Gillian


We packed up Van Persie and took off in search of some sun. Headed south to Derbyshire through rain most of the way. Popped into Caudwell Mill for a look round in the rain. The ducks were ok.
And the water powered mill was powering away, even though they weren't milling that day.
So much water flowing everywhere.

 We arrived in at a campsite in the rain. Parked in the rain. Ran across to the pub in the rain for a great dinner by the roaring fire! in the middle of June. Woke to rain hammering on the van roof in the night and then......morning came.
The views were gorgeous. The cows in the field over the wall ambled about steaming in the sun, The pub looked picturesque and our spirits rose. Anyone wanting to pitch a tent, caravan or campervan near Buxton can't go wrong with this site.
The Duke of York at Pomeroy offered a great welcome, clean toilets and a site in the carpark with electric hook-up and a view all for ten quid. They lit the fire, served up great food and then turned on the sun the next morning.
BUT this is England and so by the time we had breakfasted and pointed the van towards Buxton, the skies had clouded over and rain was brewing. We chose to visit Poole's Cavern because it would be safe from any rain. It was still a bit wet underfoot and quite cool, but we joined the first tour of the day and learnt so much and saw amazing limestone features. Stalagmites (floor) and stalactites(ceiling) and glorious caverns of features. Most of them accessed originally by the Victorians with a stick or two of dynamite. It made walking through much easier for all rather than crawling through small holes at the rear of the caves.
They bear cheerful Victorian names such as the "Flitch of Bacon" and "The Poached Eggs".
And Yes! Dear Reader, when we came out of the caves it was raining.
So we shall head southwards in hope.
Cheers for now Gillian

Friday, 15 June 2012


I've framed a couple of pictures and hung two of them on the wall to see how they go. This is DJ's favourite. It is from a photograph I took a couple of months ago when all the golden blossoms were out so I called it "Golden Spring".   Fields of rapeseed, bushes of gorse, scattered dandelions and daisies and some buttercups. It looks fine from a distance and not too bad close up as well. It can stay there for a while. It is from Brusselton Hill, across the road from us, where we gather raspberries later in the year.
I continue my art classes and enjoy them very much but sadly Darlington's Arts Centre is shutting early next month due to Government/Council cuts. It's a shame because it is a great community centre with theatres, galleries, cafe and bar, and lots of classes in arts, photography, fibre arts, jewellery, writing etc and rehearsal and bookfair spaces as well. Everything has had to find another venue to continue next term and they are all over the town instead of being together. Some will not be able to continue at all.
Our teacher, Paul Dillon, has found a space together with photography and other art teachers in a disused education centre, so I and others can continue our lessons in the autumn.
We shall all miss the grand old buildings of the Arts Centre.

Cheers Gillian

Sunday, 10 June 2012


Quite a few weeks ago I attended an auction at Watsons because I had fallen in love with a statue of a little boy  gazing into a small aquarium or fish tank. It was listed as valued £20-£40 and was with an old leather doctor's bag with original medical stuff in it. I wanted the statue really badly and prepared myself to bid up to £80. This would cost me a total, including costs, of over £100.
On the day, I stopped bidding at £120!!! Someone else wanted it and/or the doctor's bag. They continued to bid and got the "lot" for £125.
If I had continued to bid  I might have got it for £130 or the others might have continued to bid......
I regretted it for weeks. I felt sad at missing out on the statue. There was a really poignant look on the little boy's face and the whole thing was so well posed. I searched  ebay for something like it  and looked in all the shops for another one.

Friends came to stay this weekend and we were stymied by the rain. So we went to Darlo for a look at Watson's "lots" for next week, had lunch at The Imperial, went to Gillow's and bought a raincoat, checked out the big pet shop for a new scratching post for you know who, stopped at Archers for an ice-cream and then went to Barney for a quick saunter round the shops.
We ended up at the bottom of The Bank, in an Antiques Emporium called the Mission Hall.
Guess who was there.........
Yes!!! It was Little boy.
He is now called Frank and guess what else. He has a little aquarium on his knees which I suppose is meant to hold a goldfish or a tadpole or such and is just the right size for all the polished stones that I didn't know what else to do with. Frank is now the guardian of the polished rocks. AND he cost less all up than he would have cost at auction in the first place.
Madame Recamier is not sure where this shoe-less newcomer came from but she is keeping a careful watch on him until he has settled in and he has been allocated a more permanent place in the household.
He seems happier every time I look at him.
Cheers Gillian

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Spinning Along

I had a desire to get the wheel out and spin up some yarn to knit a jumper. I haven't been successful at clothes lately. Because I have put on weight, hand knitted items tend to make me resemble a sack of potatoes and are finished and then put aside. I've done some lovely throws and bags though!
I've spun some plain white and some marled yarn from the white and a bag of special fibre; camel/silk/merino/mohair mixture. The start of the jumper is very encouraging so now I must finish the spinning and the winding of all the wool before the new kitty arrives. As you can see...small kitty, big feet. This one will grow a bit yet.
We have a trip to France before we can pick her up for good and are practising our French over meals.
This is a two sided stand-up book and one person gets the question side and the other gets the answers. So we take it in turns, Some of it might be useful. We also bought a cool bag with a big union jack on the top (everything seems to have a union jack/flag on it somewhere) so we shall be known around the campsite as "Les Anglaises".
C'est la vie
Cheers Gillian

Monday, 4 June 2012

Blists Hill...A Victorian Town!

Blists Hill is a rebuilt Victorian era settlement. The first sigh,t as we entered, were these lovely draught horses and waggon. They aren't as busy as they would have been 150 years ago but they wander around a few times a day so that we can all go up and stroke them and I think they give waggon rides when it's busier. We were lucky to be there on a sunny day with few visitors.
Trevithicks early locomotive chugged up and down and...
other early engines toiled away...
singalongs were held in the pub at lunchtime...
and lovely shops were set in historic streetscapes with people in costume behaving appropriately.
But what I liked best was the originality of the artifacts. The realness of the workings. Some buildings had been shifted and bits rebuilt but for the most part it was all as it was and craftsmen worked in the sheds as tinsmiths, foundrymen, blacksmiths, woodturners, bakers and such.
There is a similar place in County Durham called BEAMISH and I remember well SOVEREIGN HILL in Australia. This ranks up with them.
It also helped that it was a glorious day weatherwise.
The next day was the day that the Olympic Torch Relay went over the ironbridge itself. Again the weather held and thousands turned up.
The main street a few hours before was quite busy but the crowds began to gather from then on.
Clog wearing Morris dancers arrived to entertain us and hit big sticks together....
until the torch bearer appeared over the brow of the bridge.
We had holed up in the Tontine Pub, just in front of the route and were able to come out at the last moment and stand on tiptoe to see it all. We are lucky to be a tall family on occasions such as this. I'll give you a close-up of him.......
As you can see, everyone was keen to get a pic.
After that we all went away and soon after the streets were fairly clear except for the enormous queue waiting for the park and ride buses.We went off to look at Much Wenlock (the town with a name of much innuendo) and the village of Broseley. More later. I need my breakfast.
Cheers Gillian

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Ironbridge and the Industrial Revolution

We have been away for a few days to seek out the source of the Industrial Revolution. My sister found some farm cottages near Ironbridge ( see above) and we set off each day to visit some of the museums that abound.
The manufacture of better quality iron by the Darby's led to advances all over the valley. The valley of the River Severn is a gorge in this area and exposed up the sides of it were layers of limestone, coal, iron ore and clay.
All of these were very useful for an industrial revolution. The clay was used for bricks, pots, fine china (Coalport), and even pipes.
My BIL demonstrates his new pipe.
The coal, iron and limestone were more valuable though.
I am off now to visit the new kitten again. She is due home at the end of the month so I shall tell you more about Ironbridge when I return. I found it all very fascinating.
Cheers Gillian