9 Jan 2024

2021 - Starting Again From Scratch - 7 Weeks in Scotland

 August 2021, Covid is hopefully over, we have had our inoculations, Ruby has been with us for over a year, we have had a few days here or there in the Motorhome, so its off for our next adventure. It is a long while since we have been to Scotland so off we toddle.

Ruby settled into to life on the road immediately, lying on her mat between the seats (secured by a lead which has a handle halfway up that we secure to the passenger arm rest). She is asleep as soon as we set off, will sit up when we stop at traffic lights but goes back to sleep if we set off again, but once I switch the engine off and apply the hand break, she is up and raring to go, with a bark or a howl if she feels we are not moving quick enough.

We took her bed with us and when we got home bought her a new one so that we could keep this for the motorhome, but in winter it sits under my desk in the office and she often comes up and lies in it when I am working and occasionally sleeps in it if she wants a change.

We start our trip with a pub crawl to Scotland, preferring not to drive more than 3 hours per day if we can help it, it takes 4 days to get to Scotland, having dinner in each one to make life easier. They wouldn't allow Ruby in one, so they delivered our meal through the motorhome window!

On our second night Sarah and Vicky joined us and also slept in their van in the car park.

The plan was to do the East Coast first (as we had never been that way) but as we approached the forecast was poor, but excellent in the West, so we changed plans and headed west, stopping first in Kinlochleven. The site is half way up that lock and we got a spot right on the Lock side, so our one night stop was extended to 3, and when we realised that it was a bank holiday weekend (and the weather was fantastic, so all sites would be full) we extended for a full week (and got 1 night free!).

We finally dragged ourselves away and headed up to Scourie, where we stayed for 3 days, before heading across to Dornoch, where we stayed for 4 days. We then headed along the North East Coast staying in 2 car parks and a pub. before stopping for 4 nights in Portsoy. 

From Portsoy we moved slowly down the coast to just outside Dundee, before a 4 hour drive to the border. From here we struggled to find a site with room, so stopped in another pub carpark and finally found a pitch at a site just north of York, so stayed there 3 nights and then drove straight home.

1,700 miles over 41 days and Ruby was perfect.

Not long after getting into Scotland we see the Kelpies, 30m high, so we have to stop for a visit.

Then we find a Sculpture Park at Crianlarech

We take a trip up the side of Kinlochleven and find this campsite half way up and find a pitch right by the Loch, we decide to stay for 3 nights, then realise it is a bank holiday weekend, the weather is amazing so end up staying nights (with 1 night free!)

I'm ready for a walk when you are!

And there are some excellent walks

The mist rolls in in the afternoon, but rolls right on again afterwards.

Its my turn to drive today!

After Driving up the west coast to Scourie, the weather starts to deteriorate so we drive across to Dornoch (where the forecast is better, where we stay for 4 days at a camp site walking distance from the town

I'm sure you've got a treat in there somewhere!

And we then get some superb weather along the East coast

Slains Castle, near Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire, part of which dates back to the 16th century and apparently the inspiration for Bram Stokers Dracula

A flying visit to The Angel of the North on he way home

4 Jan 2024

And then there were 3

 Meet Ruby, our newest team member, in charge of Security, Fitness and Entertainment

Our first sight of Ruby (then called Alexis) taken in a rescue centre in Cypress, just before coming to the UK. Jenna (daughter) knew who was receiving her and sent us this photo). We met her the day after she arrived with a view of fostering her in order to find her a new home, but we felt that she was so nervous it would not be fair. She came round to us the following day - and the rest is history.

We did not think that Alexis suited her (and she did not answer to it - just a name on her passport) so Chris asked for suggestions on Face Book. Whilst the suggestions were coming through, Chris asked me if I had remembered that it was our anniversary in a couple of weeks, I said I had, but then asked me if I had realised that it was our Ruby anniversary and that I had to buy her a Ruby! So I said I had already bought her one and Ruby's was christened!

From what we believe she was bred as a hunting dog but didn't make the grade (absolutely terrified if a gun goes off, or hears fireworks) so was kicked out and spent some of her first year on the streets. Eventually taken in by a family, but would not eat or come out of her kennel, so they took her to a rescue centre run by an English lady and said that if she couldn't take her they would have to have her put down. They tried to rehome her in Cypress, but she would hide when anyone came to look, so after 12 months they sent her to the UK. One thing that the center did have that she liked was a number of settee's, so would make herself comfortable whenever she had the chance (and still does today).

It took a long time for her to settle in and get used to people. She came with a crate (cage) and advised to let her sleep in there for a few months. And to start with we had to feed her in there, as she was too nervous to eat anywhere else. After about 5 months we swapped the blankets in the crate for a small dog bed and about a month after that took the crate away and left the bed in place, which we soon moved into our bedroom, where she sleeps now. 

In many ways it was fortunate we had her between lockdowns, which gave her plenty of time to get used to us before she being exposed to other people. We live in a Close and when the weather was good, after a message on the 'Close Encounters' WhatsApp group, all the neighbours would sit out at the end of their garden for a socially distanced drink. It didn't take too long for Ruby to be tempted to rove around the other groups, tempted by various biscuits and treats.

But she does have her naughty moments!

This was a large stuffed toy, she had played with for a while, that suddenly became unstuffed!

Generally Ruby is a very clean dog, she can get really muddy when she goes running in the field, but by the time she is home it has all fallen off! Except if she has managed to roll in fox poo! Then she stinks, and its straight in the bath when we get home.

3 Jan 2024

To the Land of Monasteries in the sky - September October 2019

We set off for Greece on the 28th August, a quick dash through Luxembourg, Germany and Austria to Budapest and then a bit more slowly through Romania and Bulgaria arriving in Greece on the 10th of September.


Quick Dip in Kavala Beach

And sit on the beach while I go for a scout round on my bike

Just in front of our camping spot

Until the Sun went down

Then on to Meteora, where the camp site had an excellent pool

Where I left Chris whilst I peddled up amongst the Monasteries.

Many of them built on the top of unscalable cliffs.

If you look carefully, in the dip, you can just see a small cable car.

But zoom right in and you can actually see someone sat in it!!!, Wouldn't fancy that on a windy day!

We also both went up in the camper, and stopped at a couple (where we could get to them without ropes)

And then on to Kato Gazea (Camping Sikia) on the Pelion Peninsular, where the Greek Gods went on holiday! A gorgeous, mountainous area, very quiet at this time of year We stayed here for 10 days, just  above the beach with an excellent restaurant overlooking the beach a bit further along.

I cycled up into the hills, and just as I had given up finding anywhere for lunch

This place appeared in front of me, and it was excellent.

We also came across an old steam train, which chugged up into the hills (more or less where I had cycled too).

We then made our way to Corinth, stopping briefly at the Corinth Canal.

It looks too narrow for ships but is wider than it looks from above. The Canal was completed in 1881, but had been considered in early Roman Times. in fact Nero removed the first basket load of soil with a pickaxe in 67AD, but died shortly afterwards and the project was abandoned (was that HS1?).

And then on to Corinth (where we stayed for a week). 

From Corinth we made our way up to Igoumenitsa, to take a ferry to Ancona (Italy) in order to bypass, Albania, Montenegro and Croatia (partly due to not having insurance and breakdown cover for Albania and Montenegro, but also the time it would have taken). 

On the way we stopped at Diakopto to take another train ride into the mountains to a place called Kalavryta, we just went for the train ride and had no idea what was at the other end.

Whilst wandering round the village we visited a small museum in the old, restored school house and what we found was appalling. In retaliation for 80 German soldiers being killed by the resistance, they rounded up all of the men and teenage boys from the village (500) and gunned them all down, then many of the women, children and elderly were locked in the school house and the school house was burned to the ground along with the rest of the village. The remaining women then collected their dead husbands, dragged them to the cemetery on bed sheets to bury them in the freezing ground, with little in the way of tools. 

Saw this poster on a wall in Igoumenitsa - look at the dog in the middle, and watch this space!

Heading home through Austria


Last photo of Chris on a bike! She gave up cycling when we got home.