5 – 25 June 2016: Getting ready & Touring the Welsh countryside – HU Baskerville Hall meet, old Castles, friends and family


Lez and Elaine had the next day off, and planned to spend the day at the house renovations. Me and Stew wanted to make some progress with our Pakistani visa applications and managed to get quite a bit done; some more passport photos at Sainsbury’s, including some of me with a head scarf, photocopying and pdf printing at the library. Then I did some more work on research for the Pakistani visas; accommodation, tours and writing a cover letter to go with our applications. I couldn’t get anywhere with the Bradford – Pakistani visa centre phoning, and in the end decided I’d just have to fill out both sets off forms. We could go over to Bradford, but I wanted all the papers ready IF we could submit with our ozzie passports (and more docs printed out first, back at the library), and then if we couldn’t submit in the UK, I’d have another prepared set of docs, that we could send onto Canberra.

Well, what a saga – we ended up with two trips over to Bradford, and STILL not able to submit the applications, so there was nothing for it but to send everything off to Australia. We were hoping that at the most we’d have to wait no more than 4 weeks for the passports to be returned.

In between we also had a few trips up to Stew’s mum and dads. So lovely to see them again, and we stayed a while, nattering, looking over an old photo album (from Dorothy), having coffee and Cadbury mini-rolls, and another day looking at the family jewelry. We also drove via Birstall one time on the way back from Bradford, so dropped in on Dorothy and John for a coffee, biscuit and natter. So lovely to see them again, looking quite well. Later in the week the house phone went, and it was Frankie – so I ended up chatting with her a while. She had the letters from Lacey for me, and wanted to know if I needed them urgently. I said how much trouble we were having with the visa applications, and we’d be going over to Bradford again the next day, but that when we’d finished there, we’d drive over to Huddersfield to see them all. Jason also dropped by a few evenings when he didn’t have anything on, for a catch up and cuppa. He was telling us he’d got his ‘Press’ status confirmation, for the ITU triathlon event in Leeds for the weekend, so he’d be quite busy with that. He’d have to be in Leeds early Sunday for the start of the event, and so wouldn’t be able to come out for brekkie for granddad’s birthday. And he was asking how we’d gotten on at the TT, so we nattered a while.

One afternoon while I was doing yet MORE visa paperwork Stew nipped out for a bit of food shopping, and set about making liver, onion, mash and cabbage for dinner. Lez and Elaine got home about same time, and relaxed catching up with news and soapys’. Charlie gave us a call, and we arranged to meet then on Saturday late afternoon, to go for a pub carvery meal. I needed to clear my head, spinning with all the visa stuff, so got changed and went out for a half hour jog – Really enjoyed it, even though hard work. In fact, through the time staying in Dewsbury, we both ended up trying to do a bit more exercise, and every couple of days we’d go out in the morning, jogging down to the park and using the gym equipment.

So finally we had everything ready to send the visa applications off in the post. While we were out we managed to pick up a couple of pressies for granddads birthday at the weekend. Then we made our way to the post office; there was quite a crowd outside the townhall – union jack bunting on the forecourt, and someone dressed in regalia; all for the Queens 90th birthday celebrations. There were groups from several primary schools, and they entertained the crowds with music and singing. By the time we got in Jason had txt to say he’d come over around 1.30pm, when he finished work. So we had a lovely afternoon. We headed to Birstall Junction 26, first checking on the cinema. It was Jason’s treat for fathers day (As he wouldn’t be around at the weekend), so we ended up going to see ‘The nice guys’ – Russell Crow and Ryan Gosling, as hapless private investigators trying to find a girl. Set in 1977; so full period mock-up and music. It was pretty cheesy in places. When we got back Caroline had left a message on the phone, so I gave her a call back….so lovely to have a natter. Hopefully we can get together on Sunday afternoon.

The next day I heard the rain intermittently dripping all night, and it was still sopping grey when we woke ~7.30am. The household was quiet, as I got up to make some tea – but had found someone was up earlier, as Babe was in the room, and there was an empty yoghurt plate and coffee mug by the sink. We went over to the house with Lez to help with reno work – and ended up doing emulsion pretty much all upstairs and the staircase. I got phone calls from Victoria and Hazel (Awesome)…so lovely to natter with them both, and looking good for visiting them after the HU travelers meeting next weekend.

We then got washed and changed and headed off for a lovely evening with Charlie and Angie. Elaine said we could use the car, which was great as it was quite a wet soggy night. Dave and Debbie were visiting for the weekend from Newcastle, and Geoff and Eileen joined us too. So many lovely hugs and greetings all round again. We were soon off to the Silver Birch carvery (M606 roundabout) for diner. Charlie treated us all, which was so nice. Geoff and Eileen brought gifts, wine and flowers so nice too. The carvery was lively, busy and really such a good feed. We all headed back to the Old School House, and had such a great evening, nattering away. We didn’t finish up till after 10pm, and hugs and wishes all round as we headed home.

On Sunday morning we got ready to head out on the bike and meet up for Grandads birthday breakfast. I’d wrapped up the DVDs and chocolates we’d got for him too. Elaine gave us a birthday card to take, and as they were going over to Jessica’s later when Lez finished work, I wrote a card for Jessica’s birthday next week, and we put in the last $ AUD, cash we still had for a pressie, as they would be going to Oz in August. The sky was pretty overcast, though not quite raining – so we were hoping we wouldn’t get too wet (though we did have the waterproofs in the backbox just in case). We made it to the WhiteRose centre dry, and had just locked up the helmets and jackets when granddad and grandma arrived. So there were happy birthday wishes and hugs all round. They were telling us Ben had rung to say happy birthday, and they were just leaving home when Andrew and Jane dropped in with a card a pressie too. They couldn’t stay, as they had some work organized for the morning. So we set off walking into the centre just as the doors were opening – then I felt someone walking quite close behind us; it was Andrew and Jane, sneaky surprise – they had come along after all for the birthday breakfast. SO there were more hugs and wishes, as we made our way to the restaurant, and took the same window tables we’d had a couple of weeks before.

We had a lovely morning – breakfast was good, and nattering away catching up with Andrew and Jane too. After we’d finished eating, we got out the cards and pressies, and glad to see granddad did seem to like the movies, and that we’d remembered his favourite chocolates ; Bounty. Then a couple of photos outside before Andrew and Jane had to head off.

Stew had seen there was an old car rally going on at Oakwell Hall today, and granddad had seen it advertised too – and it was still just about dry, so we decided to all go over there together. The paddock in front of the old hall was packed with a right mixture of lovely vehicles, ranging from the 1920’s to the 1990’s (I think), and we strolled around together enjoying the sights. Half an hour later the rain was even more threatening, so it was time to go. More hugs and birthday wishes, and we said we’d come and visit them again, before we headed off to Wales on Thursday.

We managed to get back just about dry, and Stew got the bike back in the shed before the rain really started to come down. That was great, as we were borrowing Lez’s van to drive over to Carolines later. We were just waiting for Lez to get back from work, (~3pm), and nice to relax an hour with a cuppa before heading out again, as they were heading off to Jessica and Anthony’s and staying overnight. We got ourselves ready too, and set off around 3.30pm. Caroline’s was home alone, and making all the preparations for a roast beef and Yorkshire pudding dinner….It was lovely to spend a couple of hours together. It was great to see what they had done in the house since we were last there 5 years ago; the huge conservatory/orangerie was wonderful. We talked so much, catching up, about all that they had been up to since here breast cancer diagnosis – treatment and surgery all going well. And as seems to be a theme this time round with everyone – talks of plans for retirement! And just how much travel holidays they have done the last few years; Rhine cruise, Arabian Nights cruise, the Canaries…and now planning Singapore in October with Laura, a Scandinavian Bus tour and thinking of a China cruise on the Yangtze River next year. We got to have a good look at all their recent travel photos on the laptop (so much better than a smart phone screen). Andrew, Richard and Nedime came in about 6.30pm and we had a really lovely evening, together – reminiscing, and enjoying a really delicious meal. Caroline had even made a sticky date pudding with treacle sauce for afters. Hugs and thanks all round, as we headed back around 10pm.

There were also quite a lot of things to do on the bike too: Stew was having a bit of grief trying to get the gearbox out again, and I ended up having to help, so he could get some better leverage. By now I was looking at the maps, and routes to the HU meeting, and locations of friends and family we could visit on the way back. Stew was having no luck with getting the gearbox flange off at all. The gearbox was out at last, but the strengthened puller didn’t work, and he broke the cheap Chinese one trying that again too!! With the back end out of the bike again, and checking the brake shoes, he decided he wanted to get some new ones too. There was still no sign of the puller we’d ordered from the US on the 30th May arriving by post (over 2 weeks now), even though we waited till after 2pm for any delivery today. It was getting too late, as we needed the bike back together by Wednesday, to get packed up again and set off Thursday morning.

With all the oil leaking the bike was a bit of a mess, so Stew borrowed Elaines car and nipped down to the motospares on Bradford Road, to get some degreaser, and do some cleaning up, which was easier now it was stripped down. By the time we turned round it was already nearly 4pm, the day going really quick. Stew was still working in the shed, with the other Stu who was around, and he’d welded up an even bigger bolt on the extractor for Stew. He was still there an hour later when I went out to check, but HOORAY, the modified extractor had worked, and he had finally been able to remove the flange and get the leaking oil seal out. So that was enough for one day.

The rain kept on all night, dripping through my subconscious right through till daybreak. The dawn chorus were so chirpy, despite it being another very grey day. The days major mission was for Stew to put the bike back together. The gearbox had a new oil seal, but that was as far as he had got yesterday….it was still out of the bike, and so quite a lot of work to get the gearbox, drive shaft, and wheel back together. My main mission of the day – to get through Felix’s theoretical paper draft, which was a delight to read, though it did take me several hours. Just then Stew came in, not looking very happy; he couldn’t find a small bearing off the clutch pushrod – And, he’d been looking at the workshop manual, and thought he now had the new gearbox oil seal in the wrong way round; oh bugger!! I checked out the shed with him for the bearing, and then looked on google for images of the gearbox. Stew was also checking – no sign of the bearing, but the images of the oil seal were a bit confusing. The new one he’d already put in was blue, and didn’t look like the right one for the paralever 1988 bike; the one spare he had was a ceramic. So he checked the motoworks website, and gave them a call. They had the clutch bearing and correct oil seal in stock; he was going to head off on Lez’s 650 TransAlp, but I said I could drive across, and Stew could get on with taking the gearbox back out. So that’s what we did. It was quite grey and rainy, so I dressed in my full riding gear and set off. It took me a couple of hours, but all good – and I managed to pick up the brake shoes we’d ordered a couple of days before. I got back just before the heavy rains started, and asking how Stew was getting on, he couldn’t lie – and admitted he ‘found’ the ‘lost’ bearing, when he took the gearbox out again! Oh well, at least he could put in the new brake shoes now, and after a cuppa went back to working on the bike.

I set about getting everything for a shepherds pie meal. It was good to get everything ready, and the kitchen cleared up, so that it just needed warming up when the workers got home. Jason turned up on his bicycle after work too, which was lovely and he also stayed for some dinner. After I ended up last to bed, as it was quite a lengthy job to work through Felix’s very substantial paper. I finished around 12.30am, and tried to send the documents back, but the internet was pretty slow – so I wasn’t sure if it sent. Once in bed I was soon tucked up and fast asleep.

The next day we headed into Dewsbury and went to the post office; sent off the M/C seat and a small package for the girls. We had a wander round the markets, and remembered we needed to get something to leave for Elaine’s birthday over the weekend. We didn’t see anything on the market, so decided to walk round Wilko’s and decided to buy her some new paint brushes and a stick roller, which would be useful for the house reno!! Stew also picked up some heavy rubber gloves and good pair of plyers he needed to do the electrical work on the house for Lez later in the afternoon. We then headed out to grandma and granddads for a couple of hours, as we wouldn’t see them again for over a week.

Stew and Lez got back late from the reno house, job done; so Lez was happy he could get further with the reno while we’d we away for the next week. And by the time we were all back home, we really didn’t feel like going out for curry. So we decided to get take-away, which I ordered and Elaine went to pick up. We got some mixed starters, and three different curries. Lez also wanted chips, and the chappatis were some of the best we’ve eaten. It was delicious; we were so pogged by the time we’d finished! And there was even a meal size portion for me and Stew to take with us tomorrow. Lez cleared up and did the dishes tonight, and me and Elaine were off to bed first tonight, leaving the guys watching a ‘Bourne’ film.

The next morning we were setting off for the HU meeting in South Wales. We were up before Elaine headed off to work first; hugs and happy birthday wishes, as we wouldn’t see her for at least another week. We were kind of rushing to beat the rain, which we knew was on the way. So were finally packed and togged up by 9.30am – grey skies but not quite raining, so we headed off without our waterproof oversuits. It was quite a challenging days drive – if it wasn’t the HU weekend, and knowing the weather forecast for a weekend camping, I don’t think we’d have even set off!! The UK motorways are awful; we just aren’t used to so much traffic. Then we are caught by torrential downpours before Manchester and Birmingham!! We had to pull in at an emergency layby to don on the waterproofs, and then just before the Birmingham onslaught, we were just in time to pull into a services – not the best kind of ‘fun’ summer biking. Then as we headed off the motorway into Wales we were getting low on petrol, and there were no services stations anywhere in sight! Thankfully we did find a small local garage on the last 20 km into Hay on Wye, filled up and put some in the spare can, and managed to buy a few groceries too (fruit, yoghurt, naan bread, beer and wine) – as we weren’t sure what we’d find once we got there. Baskerville Hall, was just off the A-road and we soon found the right place, registered, and were thankfully setting up the tent in the adjacent field while it was not raining. The ground was soggy, as it had rained a lot in the day, but we were lucky and pitched up dry. The first person we met was Kathy, from Motofreight (who’s tent was only 20 m up from where we were!), so there were greetings all round.

We managed to make one of the late afternoon talks before a nice cosy drink in the bar, and chatting to an interesting older couple who had travelled so many countries in their LandRover in the 1970’s. Getting hungry we headed back to camp, and made our evening meal of warm up curry left overs and naan, which was again delicious and we managed to get cleared away and tucked up in the tent before the rain cam down again. It rained so much through the night; the sounds were quite lulling, given we were cosy and dry, but it didn’t bode well for the morning. It wasn’t too warm either, so there was no rush to get up early. Thankfully even though the sky was leaden, we managed to make a morning brew and some brekkie for Stew, before we headed off to the first 9am talk. So the morning passed in and out of the meeting rooms, some good presentations, and taking a break in the grounds, where Stew got a bacon buttie from the mobile van on site; it was doing quite a trade.

We even bumped into Graham, whom we’d last seen at the Yosemite HU meeting last September! The field was quite a quagmire, and we soon discovered we’d pitched in a pretty decent spot. So many others campers were in much worse conditions. When the afternoon session finished, it was still bucketing down – but we reckoned we could walk to the Texaco garage maybe half a mile up the road, to get in a few supplies. After the early evening talks we actually managed a dry spell between the downpours too cook our evening meal. I had scrambled eggs and beans, while Stew made himself fried eggs. Then it was already after 8pm and we were happy to get snuggled down and read our books before turning in for the night.

And so a very enjoyable weekend went along. We even went to a ‘yoga session for bikers’ on afternoon, which was really good (especially as I’d hurt my back bending down this morning), and following onto the best presentation of the meeting; Dylan Swartarami ‘Across the Darien Gap by raft’. As we emerged into the later afternoon sunshine, we saw Graham again – having his R80 on the ‘Show bike’ display. We didn’t even know it was on, otherwise we’d have put Fritz up there too. We nattered a while catching up on things since we met at the Yosemite HU meeting last September, and headed back to camp for a beer – before the Saturday evening wind up session; presentations, thanks and raffle (we didn’t win anything).

We needed some dinner, but thought the in house food would be so busy tonight, so we decided that take away hot chips from the mobile van would do; and we headed back to camp with a portion each to make chip butties with HP sauce – not bad at all really. We managed to sit out till the sun sank over the western hills; and nattering to some other people wandering by – and so we zipped into the tent to keep cosy, settling to Stew reading and me tapping away for the diary before we turned in for the night.

The whole camp was pretty much up, and packing by the time we’d boiled some water to make tea – but we didn’t feel like rushing. We ended up nattering to some fellow campers: an ozzie from Queensland who had only arrived yesterday afternoon, he’d been waiting for the rain to bait before driving down from Cumbria !!

Then we were off heading back towards Hereford, and onto Ledbury to Haze and Andy’s place – It was an amazing reunion finding our way up to Howlers Heath, and so wonderful to see Haze again. Getting onto the single-track dirt lane and into the woods was much longer and narrower than I remembered from last time. Thankfully the ground wasn’t too wet, as there was a very steep dip and rise to climb out off. Any wetter and we’d have been slipping all over in the mud. We turned into the driveway, and found Haze waiting for us in the front garden, the cottage looking so picturesque in the sunshine. As soon as Stew pulled up to a stop I was off the bike and heading off for a big hug with Haze.


We got parked up, and unloaded the gear. Somehow Stew managed to get Friz unbalanced and he unceremoniously fell over! We had an incredible afternoon, and then met up with Mae (now 14 yrs) and Andy as they got home too. Mae baked a coffee walnut cake for Andy as it was father day…..she was also doing art homework, and nattering away with Haze we found she had so many similar traits to our Sairha, even wanting to go to Uni to study ‘illustrating’. Haze was doing well after her breast cancer surgery 3 years ago, but still had 2 years of medication to get through. Getting on with things, but also frustrated in what she still wasn’t able to do (Tiring easily, and not being able to concentrate for long, so doesn’t drive very far). Ross was off at Uni in Durham, just competing his degree in Geology. Haze made us a really tasty chicken curry dinner, (from preparing a home made marinade adapting a Jamie Oliver recipe) and we continued to talk the night away. We heard of Andy’s 3 year work in Dubai, in one of the properties on the Palm tree sands development; incredible work on all the wrought iron balustrades, domes, doorways and more. We cleared the table and then finished off the evening with some coffee and Mae’s delicious coffee walnut cake. The next day Andy dropped Mae off at School in Ledbury, before going onto the forge. We spent a wonderful day with Haze going into Ledbury, and onto Malvern (where we bought some camping supplies).


Then as we were sat in the Ledbury café having some soup for lunch Hazel’s phone went; it was news from Ross, he got a 1st class result for his geology degrees (YAY), and Haze and Mae were going to his degree ceremony in Durham next week J It was lovely wandering the old towns. They are so quintessential ‘England’; all narrow cobbled lanes, higgledy-piggledy wood and daub buildings, and a lovely old Elizabethan market place.

We picked Mae up from school, and when Andy got in from work had a drink out on the garden and decided we’d go out for dinner.

The Tibbetan place they like was closed, so ended up with lovely pizza at a pub in Ledbury (which Haze and Andy treated us to). I think Mae was enjoying the evening out too. We called in at forge on way back, or rather the larger workshops he’d had to rent to do all the Dubai work (it was so huge). So it was great to see all the tooling again, and their old Ariel motorbike and Watsonian sidecar. Mae was more interested in the Welsh ponies in the field next door, as there were a couple with very young foals. Before we left Andy gave us one of his bronze forged dishes as a pressie (so nice).

It was getting late and even dark in the woods by the time we got back. We ended up following a hare scampering up the track back to the cottage. No one really wanted to head to bed yet so we finished the evening with a last wine night cap, and Hazel recanting a great British history lesson; knowing so much about how England got to be the way it is; with multiple invasions from the Vikings, Saxons and Normans. We were really enjoying it so only managed to get to bed just about midnight.

We slept well and got up around 7.45am just so we could see Andy and Mae, before they headed off – Then had a lovely morning with Hazel. She showed us her family tree one of her cousins had been following back to the 1500’s, and the translation work she has been working on for 3 years with a local Danish resident (>90 years old) – its an ancient classic Danish poem story. We packed up and were ready to head off around 1.30pm. It was sad to be saying goodbye again, but hugs all round and wishing her well, hopefully seeing her back in Oz one of these years. And of course to have a great time together with Mae for Ross’s graduation ceremony and celebrations next week. We climbed on board Fritz and waved as we headed off back down the drive. We didn’t even get to the dip, as I had a gut feeling I’d left something – and I was right, I checked my bag and found I didn’t have my note book (Having just had it out to write in directions for Vic and Colin’s place). So Stew pulled up, and I walked the short way back to the drive, finding Haze already there in the car at the gate; waving my notebook through the window. So chance of another last hug, and we were off again.

It was a lovely drive up through the central Wales country roads, passed Leominster and stopped off in Ludlow, another quaint old town. We parked up in the very quaint market place, complete with castle and cannon (Linked with the Family Herbert, and the magnificent Vicount Clive (Clive of India) – and Powys castle we were to visit the next day). We wandered round a while, before sitting in a café opposite where the bike was parked, so we could keep and eye on it. It was so interesting to watch from a distance, all the passers by stopping and pondering the bike and all its stickers. We must have had 3 different groups actually come across to talk to us, always nice.

Fed and watered, we got back into our riding gear for the last stretch onto Vic and Colin’s new place in Foel – We weren’t sure on directions for the new house, but knew we were on the right road – heading towards the Snowdonia national park. We were looking out for the Mowag parked on the driveway, but never spotted it – so once we reached the next village, we pulled into a layby and thankfully we had phone reception, so I could give Vic a call. We hadn’t gone too far passed, and she said she would now go out and put her old Morris traveler on the roadside, so we could find them. So a quick turn round and 5 mins later we saw Vic waving to us sat on the bonnet of the car.

So amazing to see them again, as we hadn’t been able to get to Manchester on our last visit. There were big hugs for everyone, including Col’s mum – Joan, and all the dogs were going crazy too. It soon became apparent why we hadn’t seen the Mowag, it was hidden behind one of Col’s latest acquisitions – a massive HGV truck !! And walking round a bit is soon became very clear what an awesome place they had got. The old cottage is ~400 years old, (in fact the old village coffin makers), great land and gardens front and rear, including a good stretch of river side, and a separate 1 bed cottage for Colin’s mum, Joan too.

We nattered loads, had a cuppa in the very spacious kitchen. We then took our gear up into the spare bedroom, and looked around more – It was so great to see so many old things from our mum and dads; the chiming wall clocks, mums old sewing machine, mums old bedroom furniture from Reister Strasse in Basel. Lots of tapestry work that Vic had either made herself or bought, and the smaller spare bedroom was being converted into Col’s miniature railway setup.

The time was getting on, as it was quite late in the afternoon when we arrived, so Vic set about making dinner, a nice veggie spag bog with falafel balls. The new super kitchen even had a dishwasher, so we were soon cleared up too, and we chatted the evening away. Vic had asked what we fancied doing for the next day, and mentioned there was a good castle not too far away. We hadn’t done a castle visit at all yet, so it seemed like a nice plan for the day. So we ended up having a great day in Welshpool; Vic and Colin took us out in ‘Sam’, Vic’s 1970 Morris traveler. Powys castle was awesome, so much history in context – we were there for hours. Vic treated us to the entrance, which was so lovely too.

The place was founded in the 1300’s and expanded to its present form in the 1500’s. It had stayed in the family until the last Earl, rattling round the place on his own, gave it over to the National Trust in 1952 – amazing.

We had a nice lunch at the onsite café, and then found our way to the toilets, (with the biggest animal traps I’ve even seen hung on the wall – as well as a rail engine plaque ‘Clive of India’ (Colin was going to look it up later). From there it was upstairs to another library ballroom gallery, and the main museum for ‘Clive of India’.

We then headed around to wander and an afternoon drink in the exquisite gardens. It was so well manicured, and the spring/summer flowers smelled gorgeous. Walking back through the woods we saw a squirrel munching on a picked mushroom, and a Victorian ‘plunge pool’ – maybe 3 x 3 m, dug and lined in stone, now empty and overgrown with moss. It had been filled with spring water, and plunging in the cold waters was said to have been beneficial for health! Tour finished we headed back to the car park, and ‘Sam’ was spluttering in protest, only just getting us to park up in Welshpool. We were stopping off to get a few supplies, as Stew volunteered to cook dinner – potatoe spinach gratin. Col had to get the bonnet up and did a bit of jiggling – something was loose, I think – and ‘Sam’ was back to running on form again. It was already after 6pm when we got back to the house, and Stew set about making dinner. Rolo was his best buddy here, after all the food scraps – sitting nice, and even giving a paw. It all was going well until Rolo, took a turn and drew blood on Stew’s hand!! Drama averted, and dog in the doghouse, we continued on with dinner. The meal went down really well, everyone enjoying the potatoe gratin. Col said he didn’t really like spinach, and was quite surprised how much he enjoyed it, and there were plenty of left overs for tomorrow’s lunch. Another lovely evening of conversation and then off to bed. Sleeping really well again, we woke around 8.15am to sunshine blazing round the blinds, which was a nice change. We were up first, and Stew made us some tea.

We had a nice leisurely few hours, packing up slowly. Colin went off to get his other toy – a full size tractor, Ford County – with a huge winch at the back, pulling an ex-military trailer. Colin had converted the trailer to a small camper, so they could take to shows, as a place for Joan to stay. In fact they were off tomorrow for another weekend away together in Chester, in the Dodge Airstream and trailer, with Colin’s mum too.

Today the main mission was for everyone to do the EU voting…..It will be interesting to see how the results turn out. So finally packed up we had a last cuppa and Welshcakes (like squashed scones), sat out in the garden, before hugs and greetings all round – what a lovely couple of days. Colin had shown us a route to take over the countryside away from the main A-roads. So we were waved off and headed over the hills – to Vymwy lake, and onto Bala. It was a really spectacular drive, on single track road and with amazing views.

We rejoined the main A-road down into Llangollen; it was a great rivers side drive and across the water to the steam train station – we sat had a coffee and a scone on the station café. And we even had a long wait with the cattle crossing the road.


Stew spotted a sign for a moto museum, just 1 mile up road. So we ended up diverting there for an hour. It was a lovely private collection; a bit pricy to get in at £9, as it wasn’t that big, but Stew enjoyed nattering with the guys working at the back of the large shed. We wandered more than half an hour, seeing some really interesting motorbikes and old cars.

From there it was the last 50 km to get to Jessica and Anthony’s. And amazingly the GPS got us to the exact location – which was quite a surprise! We weren’t sure we had the right house, but Stew spotted birthday cards in the window and then Jessica opened the front door to greet is. Anthony wasn’t far behind, and it was so great to see them in their own home – now with roles reversed; us on holiday and them both working ! So we nattered for ages, on what they were up to, and we had a yummy take away curry, and a couple of beers before bed.

Jessica and Anthony were off to work early. Stew had some brekkie too, but I was still very full from last night. While eating Stew put the TV on to check the news; the EU referendum results; quite momentous, with a 72% turnout, and voted OUT of the EU by 52%. And it seemed the GBP £ had taken a dive on the international markets (which should give us a better exchange rate for the AUD $). Cameron the prime minister was announcing that he would be stepping down! Then with a second brew we sat down to get online for a while, Stew browsing the news, and me on email – there was a lovely long message from Lacey; She’d been so full on work and overtime for the past week; BUT our passport package had arrived all good, and Sairha had done all the money order and sent everything onto Canberra on Tuesday (great news). It was 5pm in the afternoon over there, so I pinged and email to see if they were around to Skype – and 20 mins later Lacey was online. She was on her own at the mo, but over the while we nattered Sairha came back home (on the motorbike) from Andrew’s – she had been painting his SupaNova costume all afternoon. So it was great to have a lovely natter and catch up with them both 🙂 Then Soph Smith (and friend Kiera) came in too – Soph and Craig were moving into the flat over the weekend (So more good news).

After being online over an hour, we finally said goodbye and got ready to go walk-about. The day was showery and grey, but we wanted to get out for a while, so we took the raincoats and brolly and walked into Alsager village. It was nice to find some more OpShops, and we even picked up the first ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, book – for Jessica, as we’d been talking about it the night before. Walking further there was a chippy open, so Stew wanted a chip buttie for lunch – and we sat in the little park next door, overlooking quite a big lake.

Between the showers, we managed to do a decent shop in ASDA, getting a few supplies for dinner. Anthony had mentioned ‘toad in the hole’, so we got some Cumberland sausage, new baby potatoes and cabbage, and some Australian wine. We had to dodge the showers; brolly up and down, and we didn’t get back to the house till 3.30pm. When Anthony and Jessica got in, they were quite happy to have a quiet night in, and Anthony was more than happy to make the ‘toad in the hole’. Everyone enjoyed the meal and after I got up and did the dishes, even though Anthony said not to bother. And then we nattered quite a lot through the night, listening to what was happening for them, and what their dreams were, as well as getting onto the property market in the next month. As well as their big holiday to Bali, Perth and Abu Dhabi coming up in 4 weeks! There was a phone call from granddad, to ask if they wanted the nested tables they had rescued – Definitely yes, with their new house. Stew talked to him too, with the sad news that his brother, Joe, had died – we should make it to the funeral on Tuesday!

Anthony was plugged in to the laptop, listening to all the voting results and ramifications, and a half decent (or rather watchable) movie came on ‘The town’ – with Ben Afflick. Stew and Jessica gave up on it and headed off to bed, while me and Anthony watched it through to the end – and conversing. It was so interesting listening to him talking about teaching ‘A’-level chemistry, and all the issues working in the education sector. I headed to bed about midnight, and I’m sure Anthony stayed up an hour longer working before he finally turned in for the night too. The next morning Jessica was last up, after 10.30am drawn by the smell of cooking bacon, as Anthony making bacon butties. We had a lovely morning together; them both seeming to enjoy having visitors. We went off together in Tony’s car for a scout around the local area; seeing the house they were buying in Audley, as well as one they had decided against next to the local church graveyard! They took us to Snugbury’s iceream – and we all enjoyed them sat out in the sun. There was supposed to be a huge haystack dalek, but it had been demolished for the next sculpture.


From there we headed down onto the Nantwich canal basin and walked the towpath, and last stop at the Old Mill pub for a drink (where Jessica had worked for a couple of years). Back at the house, we set about getting Fritz packed up for the road again. We had intended driving to Liverpool to see Laura, but from Jessica on facebook last night, we saw she was away at Glastonbury for the weekend, so we’d just head back to Yorkshire.

Ready for the road, there were hugs and thanks all round, it had been so nice. They said they were planning being in Dewsbury next weekend, so we’d see them again then.

The skies were fickle, mixed grey, so it seemed best just to head up the motorway – and we didn’t do too bad at all with the weather or traffic. We turned off at Huddersfield, to call in at the Frenchie-Newsomes, and had a lovely stop off for coffee and cake. Frankie was off in Europe, but it was so lovely to greet Georgia and James, as well as Josh, Sal and Graham. And they were asking to try arrange a curry night in the next week-ish. It was after 5.30pm before we were back on the bike heading for Dewsbury, and before we’d gone more than 2 km the skies opened up. We just had to stop and put the waterproofs on! It was only another half hour back to Lez’s. We pulled in dripping wet, with Lez having a snigger – but we didn’t do too bad really. Elaine was off for a ‘girls’ weekend, and Lez had been working on the other house reno all day. He had been shopping and even made us jacket potatoes and salad for dinner – so lovely. We chilled out and watched ‘The life of pi’ on the tele, before heading to bed around 10.30pm.

SO we were BACK again after a great week away, and as always still more to do. The next week Stew now had to get the front end off the bike, so he could put in new fork oil seals, and steering head bearings, and there were preparations afoot for Stew’s 65th Birthday……..