Lockdown 3 continues…

Nortia in the snow

We’re almost seven weeks into Lockdown 3, and still waiting for an announcement regarding its end. An announcement is due on 22nd February. Restrictions mean we can not travel more than 5 miles without a valid reason, meet up with other households in or outdoors and definitely not stay away from home.

So far, there’s not been much to write about…. We’ve updated our blog site, cleared out the motorhome garage, watched more television than we should, played computer games, and puzzles on paper and still we’re not done! We have a few tasks to carry out, but they’re outdoors tasks and require the air temperature to be above 0°C and dry! But, we’re very fortunate to be safe and well, quietly tucked away in our little parking spot.

This week the weather has turned very cold and snow arrived on Sunday and carried on until Thursday, with some thaw and refreeze inbetween, making some walks a little more hazardous than others! On top of the snow, we met Storm Darcy, with strong cold winds and more snow. The temperatures this week, have been below 0°C continuously, with a wind chill taking it to -11°C one night.

We’ve found various little gems on the dog walks, from wall art to old cars and the first signs of Spring (before the snow)! We use this time to train Reg, although the weather hasn’t been to favourable to do too much. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not southern softies, but the fields have turned from waterlogged mud baths to a frozen wilderness. Reg likes to lick the snow and ice, before completely turning into a looney – we’ve put it down to brain freeze (or ice-cream head)!

On a positive front, we’ve now got over 500 followers, across all platforms – we thank you all for your support. We know we’ve not been to active recently, and our posts have been few and far between. This lockdown, seems to have affected us a bit more and although we’re safe and well, we’re definitely feeling our wings have been clipped and we’re itching to get back on the move. Where and when we’re not able to plan yet, hopefully the Government’s announcement in a week (or so) will enable us to start thinking.

Hopefully, our next post will be more positive, the weather might have got warmer (hopefully without rain but…), we might know when we can leave Lockdown and our parking spot and vaccinations might be on the horizon. Thank you, again for reading and your support. As always we hope you and your families are safe and well and there is some hope on the horizon (fingers crossed). We’ll be back with an update soon….

Almost Eight Weeks into Lockdown 3…

I can’t have a bath, if there’s no towel…!

We’re still in our parking spot, awaiting news from the English Government as to when and how Lockdown 3 will come to an end. We’re not hopeful but better to expect the worst! We have been told our booking for March has been cancelled, so we’ll leave that in the bag as it’s now the fifth amendment from the start of the first Lockdown, almost a year ago. We’ve booked to be away at Easter too, but…

Over the last week, we’ve discovered blue plaques depicting people from the town and their claim to fame, around the local area and the dog walks have been an opportunity to discover more. Some of them are surprising. There are a few more to find, but they are a little too far to walk to and back, we might be able to cycle to them though, in the future, when the weather is a little nicer.

So far, we’ve found plaques for Mark Lemon – the first Editor of the Magazine, Punch; Richard Marsh – Author; John Leech – Illustrator (he actually illustrated the Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens; Richard Brown – Sculptor (along with his sculpture – Family Group); Sir Charles Court – the 21st Premier of Western Australia; Roger Bastable – Author, local historian and founder of the Crawley Festival; Francis Thompson – Poet and Essayist; John Goepel – famous for naming the streets of Crawley; Jim Pitts – Musician, Artist, Sculptor; and Dame Caroline Haslett – Electrical Engineer. There is also a green plaque from the Brewery, Hall and Woodhouse dedicated to the actor Peter Vaughan.

We have also discovered more street art along the way too.

The weather has slowly improved and the snow turned to slush and ice before the sun came out and cleared it all up, now it has started to warm up a bit, we actually had some sunshine yesterday which was more than welcome and we were able to have a proper airing of Nortia. Hopefully, it’s a good omen and we’ll be able to have more good weather soon (although typing this it has now started raining!). We’ve celebrated Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) with Yorkshire Puddings, rather than pancakes and Ric has been lucky enough to have had his first vaccination (I’m still waiting for my turn)! Reg had a bath too (well a shower really), but he did decide he was going to steal the towel first, he’s not as adverse to a shower as Albi was, but it’s only number 2! Time will tell.

Fingers crossed we’ll have good news soon and we’ll be able to get back on the road soon. As always, thank you for reading, we really appreciate your support. Please stay safe and well, Ric, Sarah & Reg

2021 continues: Another two weeks in Lockdown, and no end date yet!

We’re still locked down in our little parking spot. We’re safe and well so we do have that to be thankful for.

Storm Christoph hit the UK, this week. We weren’t too badly hit in the south, but know there is a lot more damage up in the North,almost a year to the day that we hankered down outside Valencia, trying to avoid the fierceness of Storm Gloria.

Reg had his first birthday, this week. It seems like we’ve had him for so long now! Although, he has only had minimal travelling, but has certainly seen a lot of England and a bit of Wales. He has so far spent five months in Lockdown, with us, and we are looking forward to being able to travel freely (and safely).

We haven’t been able to go out and about too much. The local parks and nature sites are too busy with people to be able to safely venture too, when the weather is fine, when the weather is bad (it is January), you don’t want to venture too far. We’re hoping the weather might improve slightly and we’ll be able to get out on the bikes and get Reg back into the trailer.

We are missing our time in the sun, our memories on Facebook, keep reminding us where we were this time last year, but we’re trying to be positive and getting ready for a tour. Where and when are still undecided. We are waiting to get our vaccinations, hopefully we won’t have too long to go (fingers crossed)!

Thankfully, our families are on the mend. The COVID affected are on the mend, still not 100% but back to work and out and about. Fingers crossed the fractured wrist has healed and the plaster will be off in a few days.

As always, thank you for reading. We hope you are safe and well, and surviving Lockdown Part 3. We’ll be back with more news (or no news) soon, stay safe..

2021 and a New National Lockdown – Tier 5

Another Day …. Another Place… A DIfferent Year 2019 – Norway

We had thought there would an extension of the Tier 4 Restrictions until the end of January, but this week the announcement is we are entering a National Lockdown (Tier 5) until at least mid February! More bookings to change!

We feel a bit more positive than in previous lockdowns, perhaps as we’d expected it, we’re not sure, but five days in and we’re surviving. We might have to review at a later date!The weather has been relatively nice (cold but sunny-ish), which might have helped. There had been snow forecasted, but it never arrived.

Not bad for a year of Lockdowns : Countries – Spain, Gibraltar, France (and England & Wales)

We’re settled into our Motorhome and have been purchasing a few items, we know we’ll need when Lockdown ends and we can set off again. Thank you family for our vouchers! We’ve bought Reg a new trailer. This time it’s a proper dog trailer, that hopefully he can’t get out of. It’s only just arrived so we’ve yet to put it together and try it out, but I’m sure you’ll see it here soon!

New Year’s Celebrations (and a wedding Live on YouTube from the USA):

Another of our purchases was a 2021 road map of Europe. Are we being too optimistic? We know what we need to do to take Reg abroad, and our Vet can assist with that – he had his Rabies vaccination at the end of Lockdown 2. Opening the map, was a bit like entering a Sweet Shop for a child, the possibilities are endless. Our plans for 2020 are still in our minds, we had hoped to go to Ireland, Scotland and the Hebrides, possibly even the Shetland and Orkney Islands, so that’s one trip. Another would see us retouring Spain and Portugal, hopefully being able to spend Christmas back in Spain and a third could take us to the Eastern side of Europe – Poland, Hungary, Romania and beyond… Travel after Brexit won’t be as free but keeping an eye on the non-Schengen countries will assist with the amount of time spent on each trip, but we know everything is dependent on being allowed to travel post-COVID.

Reg continues to grow (more mature than size-wise), we’re keeping him active each day, he gets a few walks and training along with playtime, hopefully his recall will progress too. The last session, resulted in him running off across a rugby pitch with a bottle he’d found. He did return but….!

Butter wouldn’t melt!

We’re hoping to be able to take the bikes out soon, the weather has been just too cold (today was -2°C, with a feels like of -4°C) plus our local football team were playing in the FA Cup on the TV, so a must to watch.

General life and chores continue regardless of lockdown, although we’re trying to get food delivered as much as possible to prevent us being exposed to the new strain of the virus. Each time I think about it, it seems like something out of a sci-fi book or film we’ve watched, not real life! We have to stay positive and await our turn for the vaccination.

Dreaming of Travel:

Our families are so close but we’re unable to see them (no doubt as you are too), which is additionally hard with a new granddaughter and one of the sons and his wife testing positive to COVID-19, and having a bad time with their symptoms. We have had to change our bubble already, due to my (Sarah’s) mum’s fractured wrist and having to support her.

As always, thank you for reading, Lockdowns do suck, but they are there to try to keep us all safe. We hope you and your families are safe and well, with as much support as you need. We’ll be back to keep you updated with our news and plans soon…

Good Bye 2020 – Hello 2021

Happy New Year!

We had hoped to be spending Christmas and New Year 2020 in Spain, but Coronavirus put paid to that idea. Instead we’re in our Lockdown Parking Spot, as our home postcode went from Tier 2 to Tier 4, on Boxing Day. We’re not surprised or too down about it, we’re safe and well as are our families too, barring a COVID-19 scare and a fractured wrist!

2020 was not the year we expected! I don’t think it was for anyone. For years we’d planned our travel adventure and nine months in, it was curtailed. We’ve still managed to do a few things this year, regardless.

2020 – in a nutshell:

Having said goodbye to Albi in Spain, in January, we returned to England in March and picked up our new puppy, Reg, It might seem quite a short time between dogs but we realised in the two months on the road, life wasn’t the same without one. Reg is not Albi, despite being the same breed, they are totally different!

Spain and Gibraltar: We loved exploring the coast and mountains. We have got several places we want to return to and hopefully Christmas 2021, can be spent out there.

France: Travelling back along the Canal du Midi up to Bordeaux and on to the most westerly cap, in Brittany before turning right and heading along the English Channel.

Lockdown 1: three months with a new puppy in a car park, was entertaining, but we survived. Reg started puppy training, we took advantage of the good weather and the garden. We went out on our bikes and generally, survived!

July – October: We took advantage of being able to travel and visited much of England and Wales. We avoided hotspot areas and were able to see some places, we’d never been to before.

November – Lockdown 2: We returned to our car park, the prospect of another stay here was daunting, but we knew we could get through it. We had planned to be relatively local, anyway, awaiting the imminent arrival of our first granddaughter (she is actually the sixth grandchild, but the first girl in 30 years!). We are slightly biased, but she is a beauty.

December – a mixed bag! We rescheduled our campsite from November to December, We travelled locally and stayed at some places, we’d usually deem to close to stay at (we could day trip from our old house!). We made arrangements for Christmas and New Year, before changing our plans as the sites we wanted to go to were placed into Tier 4 and closing. Then, the big one on Boxing Day our location and our home address went into Tier 4 too. The campsite was closing, so we had to return home to the car park for the New Year.

We’re hoping 2021, is a better year for us all. There is a hope with the roll out of the vaccination programme. We’re planning our adventure for 2021 and hopefully we’ll be able to see it through, but it’s more important that we stay safe and well. Thank you, as always, for reading, we’ll be back in 2021.

Into another Lockdown, technically just a Tier change but from T2 to T4 – STAY AT HOME!

Waiting for Santa Paws…

Merry Christmas to you all! Hopefully Santa has been kind and you and your families are safe and well. Santa was kind to us and our families are all safe and well. It’s Reg’s first Christmas, so our decorations are limited to prevent an eager puppy getting too excited! We have decided that Christmas (or at least a big family get together), WILL take place when safe to do so, whenever that might be….

Following Boris’ announcement on Saturday, we knew Christmas would be different; that along with the fact that our plans had to change due to mum’s fractured wrist. We are still at the Gatwick Caravan and Motorhome Club Site until Tuesday. Time to catch up on chores and put up some Christmas decorations. It was here, that the Club Site Wardens informed us that the site would be closing from 12:00 on Saturday until (at the moment) January 3rd, 2021. There are a couple of local(ish) sites available as Rescue Sites for those with nowhere else to go. Thinking we wouldn’t be able to get a delicious Pizza from our local store, for a while, we decided to order one. We’ve never had an order delivered with a Police escort before though. The delivery driver, couldn’t find the site and was escorted by the local boys in blue! Special Delivery!

We headed off on Tuesday to our (three times) rebooked Campsite – Sumners Ponds in Barnes Green, Sussex. It’s close to family so had been our site of choice for our original Christmas plans. It was while we were here, that Boris announced to the nation that there would be a lockdown, in March and here again, he announced that our home county (and that of the campsite) would be put into Tier 4 on Boxing Day (26th December) at 00:01, for an undisclosed length of time.

We’ve tried to stay positive and we know we can still have Christmas on the site. We were then informed by the site we had to leave by 12:00 Sunday 27th December, so after Christmas Day we would head back to our parking spot and sit it out, along with the weather forecast, and Storm Bella!

Not a lot has changed in the three weeks since we left, keen to get out and explore, we feel a little like our wings have been clipped again, but we can plan our next trip. As a bonus, there has been a last minute Brexit deal! So far, we are aware our EHIC cards will be valid in Europe from 1st January 2021, and we don’t need to get International Driving Permits (we know it’s not hard to do as we got them all last year, in time for Brexit Day 31/12/2019 – before there was a year long transition! At least now we have time to read the document and see what we need for Reg to travel.

As always, thank you for reading. Stay safe and well. We’ll be back soon with our next update, from our little parking spot….

Hayling Island, Homeward Bound…

Spending Monday at our little Certified Site Location at Stoke Farm, Hayling Island, we waited for the sun to appear (after a lovely rainbow) and headed back along the Hayling Billy Coastal Path, northwards towards the mainland, stopping at the bridge.

Tuesday and a short trip to Barnham, and another Certified Location, Choller Farm and Fisheries. It’s located near to a bridleway and cyclepath, down to the town and up towards the South Downs National Park. It’s almost geographically the centre of three areas, Bognor Regis, Chichester and Arundel. We had a stroll up the road to the village of Walberton and down to the town of Barnham. Barnham has a mainline train station and is a junction. From here, you can head to Littlehampton, Brighton, Portsmouth, London and beyond!

En-route, we popped into Chichester Marina, half hoping to catch-up with my (Sarah’s) mum, as her boat was out of the water having its annual maintenance (slightly later than normal due to the initial national lockdown 1), but in true unplanned style, she wasn’t there!

After a couple of days here, we headed north and on to the familiar Gatwick Site. Areas around us have had their Coronavirus Alert Levels increased to Tier 3 and we knew we couldn’t head there. In addition, Hayling Island is now Tier 3, along with Portsmouth. We’ve changed our New Year plans too, as London where we were heading is also Tier 3.

We like the Gatwick Site as it’s close to family and friends, but the rules are no mixing at this time of Coronavirus. We had a few things to do while we were here, but these changed slightly on Saturday as two things happened!

Firstly, my (Sarah’s) mum fell out distributing Christmas cards at her home and fractured her wrist. I am the only person who can drive her car, currently parked in a public car park. We packed up, as quick as we could, and headed to collect her. A call to 111 and an appointment at the Urgent Care Centre nearby, involving another drive. Ric returned to the campsite with Reg and I headed off to Chichester. A few hours later and a cast wearing mum returned to the car.

Secondly, Boris and the UK government have changed the Coronavirus Tiers and Christmas arrangements. Surrey, which is approximately two miles north of us, is now Tier 4 – the highest level and a brand new tier, similar to the last complete England Lockdown. No travel or staying overnight, so glad we’re in the right place. Christmas is now a one day celebration only. We haven’t yet arranged what we’re going to do, but I’m sure you’ll find out soon!

As always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are safe and well, whichever Tier you are now in. This will pass and we will get back to normal…

Along the South Coast – Littlehampton, Lymington and Hayling Island…

Monday and rain, we know it is December and England but it does get a little depressing. The days are short, the sun rises late and sets early, making dog walking interesting! We’re at the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site in Littlehampton. It’s a short distance to the local shops and a large supermarket. We had a little walk down to the Supermarket and back, mainly to tire the dog!

Tuesday and despite the early fog, the sun came out and we walked down to the sea. It’s a fairly short walk and in the December sunshine without the summer hoards, it was quite a relaxing walk. We’ve never seen the beach so empty, despite a few dog walkers. The sea was calm and beautiful (not inviting enough for us to go in though)! We stopped on the way back at a Fish and Chip Shop for a snack eating them on the Prom (avoiding the seagulls). The prom along the Pier has plaques with fish recipes on.

Wednesday and we’ve headed west to Hampshire and into the New Forest National Park, despite a road closure, not spotted by Ditsy Daisy, but thankfully a Diversion was in place and the road signs indicated the height restrictions so we were safe to continue. We stopped at a Caravan and Motorhome Club Certified Location (CL) Site outside Lymington – Homefield. It’s a small site, just of the main road, with a toilet block, paid shower and laundry.

Over the road is a footpath ideal to walk the dog or so we thought! On further inspection the first field is easy to enter through a kissing gate and well signed and walked, the next is a broken stile so negotiating with a puppy was a little tricky but manageable. The next field – through a gate, no problem then another broken stile and barbed wire, and a polite notice to follow the edge of the field then the signs run out and indicate the way you came… Needless to say, as darkness approached, we headed back.

We headed out for a drive, when the rain finally stopped heading up to Salisbury and Old Sarum. Although we’ve driven past many times we’d never actually been into the city centre. We had a quick drive through (vowing to stay more local and explore thoroughly in the future) and stopped for a dog walk at Old Sarum. Old Sarum is one of the most historically important site in southern England. It combines a castle and cathedral within an Iron Age fortification. Entry is via an online booking, but the car park is free and the lands around are too!

Leaving Lymington, we headed back east to Hayling Island, through the beautiful New Forest and Beaulieu. The site we’d chosen was another Certified Location in Stoke. It is a short walk to the Hayling Billy Coastal Path, running North to South along the western edge of the harbour. We had a walk along part of it, looking over to Portsmouth and the Spinnaker Tower.

We’re here until Tuesday! As always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are safe and well. We’l be back with our next installment soon….

Back on the Road (after a few chores)…

Our last night in Lockdown…Lovely Moon (not so lovely fence view)!

Finally, the week has arrived that we can leave our car park and get out and about, but before we do we have a few things to sort… We are in Tier 2 for Local Restrictions, which allows us to travel a little freely with some limitations on hospitality, but we’re happily self-contained as much as possible!

Reg has been booked in to have his Rabies vaccination, we aren’t getting him a passport at the moment as no-one (including the vet) knows what will happen at the end of the month. We have started the ball rolling for either of our two future options. Besides, with COVID-19 being as it is we’re not ready to go to Europe just yet. Good news though, there is a vaccine which should be ready to be rolled out shortly and depending on our positioning in the tier system, we should be able to receive it by (fingers crossed) Easter.

Nortia needs a service! It is due at 30 000 miles and we are almost there! We’ve found a FIAT dealership locally, who have booked us in for the end of Lockdown (our departure has been delayed by one day, but needs must)! We dropped her off at 09:00 and she was ready to collect at 14:00 – great service.

Thursday, time to head off and in true English style, the rain was pouring. We needed to repack all the larger items we’d stored in the shed for Lockdown 2, including the bikes and the awning. We headed down the road to the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site at Brighton. We filled up the LPG and diesel on the way. Brighton is a familiar site for us as we have lived (Sarah) and worked (both) here. Time to have the postponed haircut too! The site is ideally situated for buses and the Marina. Head up to the seafront and you can walk or cycle to Rottingdean to the East or the City Centre westwards.

We stayed at the Brighton Site until Sunday, when we headed off to the Littlehampton Caravan and Motorhome Club Site. On the way, we managed to catch up with some (slightly mad) family who were sea swimming at Shoreham-by -Sea!

Our trip will continue next week, as always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are safe and well and we’ll be back for an update soon…

Lockdown 2: The last full week.

Where you find the dog, when you leave him to clean the roof!

We’re still tucked up in our little parking spot. We’re thankful that most of our neighbours are still ok about us being here! The days seem to have dragged this week, probably in the run up to the Government’s announcements about Christmas and which Tier we will be in when Lockdown 2 is over.

This week there has been a number of houses getting themselves into the festive mood, with lights and decorations being added and switched on as the week has progressed. We ventured up into the loft and have got ours out ready for the festivities to begin, wherever we may be! We have made arrangements for the Festive Period, but not wanting to get our hopes too high, for fear of them being dashed once again.

We finished cleaning the roof, it was a bit of a chore without scaffolding or a gantry, or even a lot of space to move around, ever wary that we were blocking the roadway as we cleaned, but thankfully we didn’t get in the way (that we know of)! We’ve also taken the opportunity, whilst the sun was out, to clean the carpet – we have a carpet cleaner at the house, not a hands and knees scrubbing exercise!

We can definitely tell we’re heading into the depths of winter, the sun is rising later and setting earlier, the temperature has begun to drop and rain seems to be an almost daily occurrence. This time last year we were preparing to head to Spain for Christmas and saying our goodbyes to our families. At the beginning of this year, it seemed the ideal place to arrange to go back to, little did we know what 2020 had in store for us (all)!

We’ve got a fairly busy week again next week, whilst we prepare to set off on our mini tour. We’ll let you know what we’ve done in our next post… As always thank you for reading. Stay safe and well, wherever you might be.