Last post we wrote from a caravan park. Over the road was a wee country park – nothing special, just dog-walker territory. But hidden among the trees was this old stack, now a memorial to the servicemen and women who were based on the site during the war; there really is history everywhere!
We had a busy morning getting out of the campsite, trying to upload our blog photos. Pet peeve of mine: data carriers throttling your speeds without warning you they’re about to do it! How am I supposed to know what ‘fair use’ is?! Anyway, so we failed there – but travelled on north to Attingham Park, just below Shrewsbury.
Attingham Park turned out to be one of our favourite National Trust properties. It had everything:
- Delicious soup I slopped all over the table
- A great second hand bookshop, we bought five books
- A beautiful and interesting house with varied history
- Ongoing restoration and explanation
- Free wi-fi so Kate could post all her food blogs.
The house began life as an estate (surprise!) but from the ’40s to the ’70s it was used as an adult education college. So there are lots of random re-use partitions and things; interesting!
We had a lovely relaxed afternoon there, then toddled off to camp at a car park at Wenlock Edge. It’s a scrap of forest along a cliff – nice enough. While Kate prepared dinner, I wandered off into the forest to try to dispel my anxiety. This was our first free camp after the lovely Minehead experience, and it wasn’t the best spot to get back in the saddle! Local people kept coming during the night, the last one left at 12am. I was awake. People just sat in cars smoking and so on, nothing intimidating, but it was just one of those spots people do that.
I get ahead of myself though – on our way to this spot, the van exploded. The engine heat light came on. I pulled over and stupidly opened the radiator cap. Orangey rusty looking water spewed forth! It was pretty heartbreaking, and obviously when your home is the van it has an extra level of horror!
We put water in the radiator, a lot of it, then went off to our park.
In the morning we limped from the park to Much Wenlock, and the local garage there to see what must be done with Dotty. Fortunately they’re a well established, talented and friendly bunch, and set about finding out Dotty’s issues. A special valve set was brought out and fitted to Dotty’s coolant tank. As the engine fired up the valve boiled with air – the mechanic said it all with ‘yep, she’s knackered.’
The owner approached behind, took one look at the bubbles and said ‘knackered.’
‘Bugger’ I said.
So it’s either the head gaskets or a cracked head, and they’ve sent off the head for testing. Fingers crossed it’s OK, because finding a ‘new’ 28-year old engine part that isn’t also buggered might be a struggle!
Our minds quickly moved to formulating plan Bs. Do we get accommodation in Shrewsbury and get a rental car? Do we go back to Somerset?
In the end we went back to Somerset. We don’t know how long the van will take to repair so it seemed the safer option. We took the bus to Shrewsbury then hurried to the train station.
Kate approaches the comely woman at the ticket counter. We had a few options – a two-connection thing through Bristol that’d be leaving in four minutes, or a one-connection thing through Birmingham. The Bristol option cost £84.
“How much would Birmingham cost?” asks Kate.
“Well, fuck that!” says Kate.
The woman physically recoiled, it was quite something.
So we got the cheaper option, and headed off back to Somerset. En route we passed the backside of Stokesay Castle. Nothing says backward movement like zipping past places you’ve been in the wrong direction.
As we completed our public transport adventure, seeing the tower of North Petherton’s church was a mixture of relief and frustration! But we were home, and home we are.
As enjoyable as filling Kate’s folks recycling bin with bottles is, we are still getting out and about. We jumped in the car and headed down to Killerton in Devon. This old manor is renowned for its gardens, and we had a nice wander about after a lunch:
Yesterday we picked up family friends and drove down to Lyme Regis, one of Devon’s holiday hotspots. The seaside village was adorable, but chokka with tourists. We wandered amongst the throngs and found a spot on the beach. The English tradition of taking a windbreak, tent and the kitchen sink to the beach seems to be catching on in New Zealand, but no-one can do it quite like the English can.
Randomly we bumped in to one of Kate’s old friends from Taunton – we’re in Kate’s old stomping ground! We had a nice milkshake at the locals’ spot in Lyme and got the low down. The beach side town, like so many, has been ‘discovered’ and is a hell-on-earth for locals during summer. And house prices are soaring due to demand for rich holiday homes, or for use as high-priced holiday rentals. So the locals are slowly getting edged out, dwindling away. It’s a sad phenomenon that we’re drawn to cute secluded towns and communities precisely because they are cute and secluded; but in our visiting we all do our little bit to destroy it.
We’ve spent recent days doing some gardening around the house, sorting Kate’s old stuff and going for walks. But here’s a bit for the adults only – walks aren’t as appealing as they usually are to me just now. There’s a tree flowering whose bloom smell like semen. Under my teenage bed rancid. It is quite unpleasant! Here’s a great skit about it.
Still no news on the van, though hopefully we will find out soon.