Farewell Grigio…hello Merlot …

Merlot… the little pocket rocket


Back online after a big break due to poor internet connection/visits to family and friends and hospital visits to see Dad …….We’ve been staying in Countryside mostly and the internet has been intermittent or non existent. Quite surprised really in this day and age. Anyway…….

So we made our way North on a cold wet and windy morning to an even colder, wetter Newcastle with a brief stop for coffee. First stop was to Mum and Dads for an update on how Dad was. He had undergone hip replacement surgery that morning and with his heart problems, Early Parkinsons onset etc, he was considered high risk…….. growing old is not for wimps. Initial reports good, op successful and resting. We spent the next 5 days popping into hospital with Mum and almost drank our supplies of French wine while parked up on my brothers driveway for 5 nights. Slight headache each morning before a couple of hours in Hospital…………I seriously hate hospitals! Enjoyable nights with my brother Noel and Sister in Law Diedre. Fun nights and a WASHING MACHINE for Amanda to try and wear out and we managed to be there on a Sunday for one of Noels cracking Sunday roasts.

Dad has been progressing fairly well considering and will have a couple of weeks in hospital regaining his strength before returning home, so a good result.

I left the family nest some 40 years ago and took off to Aus and although we’ve returned periodically over the years, it’s been great to spend some quality time with the family. I don’t remember my Dad being particularly stubborn or short tempered………but HE IS now haha…maybe it’s the drugs or being cooped up with his health issues, I hope so and with the pain he has been dealing with for so long now, let’s hope things get a little lighter lol.

Lovely lunch with Mum at The Badgers

Why have we adopted Merlot, a little VW for the duration of our UK leg? Long story very short, I bought the scooter (Grigio) 5 months ago and when we arrived into the UK I thought I’d best run the whole rig over a weigh bridge. Bit late I know but better late than never. Surprise surprise, I am over the legal limit allowed for Pinot….only marginal but enough to warrant being heavily fined. So alas poor Grigio is about to go on the UK market for sale. SO…………….in step the parents. Dad can’t drive for 12 weeks, so they very happily let Amanda and I adopt MERLOT for the duration of this leg!

Another great time spent with Noel and Dee

Peak District in Derbyshire.

Longnor …. our home while in the Peak District and it’s a sleepy little village, with a couple of pubs and very little else. Weather dry so spent the next few days walking and cycling. I decided (after consultation with Amanda of course) that we should ride from our Village through to Bakewell….a mere 16 miles each way, allowing for a couple of detours en route. More on that a little later!

Drove into Bakewell for a nosy and had a great walk along the Monsal trail, which is now a dis used railway track for walkers and cyclists. Great weather and a busy Town known for its famous Bakewell Tarts/Pudding. I can’t believe we didn’t even have one…honest! We did however scoff some really nice pasties and pies.

Nothing quite like a summers evening in an English Pub’s beer garden. Discovered I have a serious like for Theakstons Ale…hand pumped and very tasty. Amanda is still searching ENERGETICALLY and with enthusiasm for her favourite tipple lol


Had a visit to Chatsworth House, one of the locations used for the movie Pride & Prejudice. Unfortunately a lot of the outdoor space was being set up for the annual Pride & Prejudice ball but still lovely wandering around the interior and gardens.

10 pm … just gorgeous

Monsal track .. starting from Bakewell

So getting back to our ride the following day. We have done very little riding over the past month, so really not prepared for much in the way of hills. I looked on the map and thought it would be a nice round trip, so had plenty of water on board and some snacks to keep us going. Bloody hell what a great ride it turned out to be (that’s my version, not Amanda’s) We stopped half way at a cute little cafe which was being swarmed by motorbike and vintage car enthusiasts, all very interesting for me. There wasn’t a table to sit at and a kindly woman who looked like she’d just been dressed by her 3 year old from the contents of an op shop (charity shop)……not shabby chic, just shabby shit really lol. Anyway she and her man said they were just finishing and we could sit there……..she was Saffy from Absolutely Fabulous…our little brush with fame for the morning. 

We were riding in a place called the PEAK DISTRICT so I should have picked up that it was probably the area where you would traverse the odd peak…….on no not me! First little hill was 12 percent and we managed it quite comfortably. We had been riding for only 10 minutes when we past a pub and encountered a long sweeping hill and when I got to the top, Amanda was nowhere to be seen. A few minutes later she arrived red faced and not looking too happy (that’s code for pissed off). Did you not see the bloody sign at the bottom of the hill says she………20 percent climb……..ooops again, thats me back in the dog house. Never mind says I, you were magnificent my little cherub. I calmed her down and we rode on toward Bakewell, through lots on 10 percent and 12 percent hills…….Oh happy days thought I, she going to kill me. The last hill coming back to the site was another 14 percent hill at which point bless her she dismounted, and lost it. Big dummy spit and a few tears. I am so gonna regret this!

Pretty little town of Bakewell

Aww … the Honey Bun Cafe

The cute village of Monyash and our encounter with Saffy Trying to look natural smiling …while gritting my teeth ! You can’t see the road fall away 200 metres behind

I tried to bribe her on the way back and she so deserved every mouthfull !

The chimney tops of Crowdecote

Lovely day in Chester…a City which devotes itself to its Roman past, with Roman soldiers wandering about in leather skirts and bronze helmets with school kids marching behind and having a fat old time. A really enjoyable afternoon out.

Seriously old Cathedral ruinsAfter 5 days around here time to move on.

We drove a few hours up to Lancashire to a little site in Lytham St Annes. Mainly to be close enough for Amanda to catch up with some of her old school pals and recently made friends Pete and June from our visit to Java in Spain and close enough to have a catchup and meal with my brother and Sister in Law Martin and Marje. Nice night but he forgot his bloody wallet again (not much has changed lol).Above is a picture of my old bachelors pad from 38 years ago and where we began our life as newlyweds… Amanda moved in and 6 weeks later we took off for Australia  ( Fairhaven Rd, St Annes)

Manor House … lovely spot for a week. The owner was a great bloke….kinda. Let’s just say he was a little anal about what should and should’t be done on his site. Don’t do this, don’t leave this gate open EVER and don’t let anyone in even if you know them….they must use their own code. Honestly the man would have been better running a bloody prison in Turkey than a park in Lytham. Mind you a few hundred metres away there were a number of Gypsies/Pikies (sorry I mean travellers) around the area…….Horse and carts and wild looking women riding bareback around the countryside. I was very careful not to stare too long haha. 

Lancashire really is a beautiful County with rolling green hills, and villages and of course home to Pete and June aka Hollibobs and their wee doggy Millie (the big Bloody Dulux  dog they spent a small inheritance on to have a haircut in Javea Spain). Pete has retired and is busy lining up various interviews for part time jobs for June. In Australia we call that pimping haha……only kidding mate. We had a great night out with them and will catch up again in Yorkshire.

Lytham is buzzing and a great place for a wee glass or two of vino. The pick below shows a novel way of buying your poison, but a little more expensive than Spain or Portugal and our budget has had to be adjusted up a little lol.

Novel, but not many customers, we still prefer ordering at the bar and getting some service for our hard earned. Are we just getting old lol.

Lovely for the smaller ones amongst us

The Grapes at Wrea Green…another spot with fond memories. We spent many an evening having a pint or two in here some 40 years ago…….ouch, it hurts to write that!

Beacon Fell

Great day at Ingleton Falls… just over the border in the Yorkshire Dales and a lovely 2 hour walk along the river and well worth the drive and the 12 pound parking fee…….and I was only in the wee Merlot!

The tree below is entirely covered in coins, driven into the wood.

How could you not be tempted.. the van alone is so cute.

Caught up with Bob & Jean, long time friends of my Mum and Dads.

Another great catch up for a long lunch with my lovely best friends from school … So much laughter and more reminiscing. Allen decided to wash his hair that day instead haha!

Off to North Yorkshire for a bit of walking and some more Theakstons.

Love to all xx


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  1. Morning Al – Stephen Strelitz here – your travel blog is amazing and very inspiring !! To this end Lisa and I are looking at doing a very similar trip – would like to pick your brains a bit – we are looking at used motorhomes in the UK as we are thinking being English speaking will be easier to deal with and get the initial set up, insurance etc ……..I notice your motorhome has a fixed rear bed – most of the motorhomes don’t have that – they seem to have couches which I assume you make up every night ( I reckon this would be a pain in the ass doing it every night ) so we are looking for one with a fixed bed, ) We are thinking a 6 months trip leaving next March till the end of 2018 – could be a bit longer but up in the air ) I’m thinking we won;’t lose too much on the 6 months buy sell of the motorhome ( your thoughts are appreciated ) – my Europe experiences indicate way down the south Portugal Spain Greece Croatia are MUCH MUCH cheaper to travel in ? Bit more risky also I would assume. As you get north would assume gets much dearer. Any advice of what to expect budget wise would also be appreciated ( I’m assuming $1000 a week AUD would cover most costs ?? ) Keep the blogs coming – we are loving them and living vicariously through your pics !! Hope you are both well and still enjoying the dream ……… regards

    Stephen and Lisa


  2. How much overweight are you?? They do give you a little leeway in the UK and as you have seen in Europe they dont give a shit! Could always get a trailer for the little car? Plus of course you have to factor in the weight of the new awning when and if you are going to fit one. That chap is looking for a motorhome!! The timing could be just right for you, be funny if it went to another Aussie.

    Liked by 1 person

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