Sunday 27th April
The ‘Lionel Richie‘ moment of the previous night had thankfully not returned for an encore, so we had a relatively peaceful nights sleep. We awoke to a mainly blue sky with just the odd brilliant white fluffy cloud and glorious sunshine, it had the makings of another hot and sunny day, and just how were we going to make the most of this our last day in this wonderful location ? by going in to Fort William and shopping, that’s how, deep joy !! But we were not going anywhere before the morning Cuppa under the duvet followed by the walk to the shower block. Now I think it would be fair to say that I have walked to a lot of shower blocks over the last seven months, but truly, none can compare to this one, for I am surrounded by forested hills on one side and Mountains on the other with the Atlantic Ocean almost lapping at my heels, there cannot be many more spectacular walks to ones morning ablutions to rival this one. Worthy of note at this point, i have not seen one tiger with curlers and no teeth, no penguins smoking cigarettes, no Pandas or any other animal, there is certainly a distinct lack of parading ‘Onesies’ on this site, morning or evening !! By the time I was on my way back, looking a bit more human and certainly less bedraggled, there was already a mass exodus from the site, some I presumed returning to their more permanent homes whilst others were continuing with journeys to alternative locations, their vacant pitches soon to be re-occupied by the ‘noon’ arrivals.
And so it was that we set off to do yet another major re-stock of ‘Big Mommas’ food cupboards, fridge and freezer and the all important wine cellar. We had lost track of what days were what some time ago, the only reminder being my iPad Calender on which I had plotted our travel itinerary so that we knew when we were arriving and departing each location. Today was Sunday but you wouldn’t have known it by the amount of traffic on the road to Fort William and the number of people strolling around the ‘Loch’ front. The supermarket car parks were very busy, although we had no problem finding a space for ‘Wuxly’ in either the ‘Lidl’ or ‘Morrison’s’ parking areas. We had started the first phase of the ‘great shop’ in Lidl, Shazza knew what she wanted from that store, mainly because she knew it was cheaper, however, she couldn’t get everything she needed from their, hence the second phase of the ‘great shop’ in Morrison’s. I generally find grocery shopping pretty dull and boring and today was no different, I coped well enough with the ‘first phase’ but lost interest pretty quickly, before we were even half way around ‘Phase two‘, although my interest perked up briefly when Shazza gave me permission to go and select the wine and beer supplies. ‘Wuxly’s’ boot was already full to overflowing with the contents of the ‘Phase One’ session and so all the bags from ‘Phase two’ had to be piled up on the back seat, god only knows where ‘we’ (Shazza) was going to put all of this ‘stuff’ when we got back to ‘Big Momma’ !! My beloved had a plan and when she spoke those immortal words “Don’t worry we will be alright” I knew straight away that I really didn’t want to know, at least then if we got pulled over for the van being grossly overweight I could try to claim ignorance !!
Once back at ‘Big Momma’ one of the first things we noticed was how quickly the mornings vacated pitches had been re-populated. However, once I had been utilised for all the heavy lifting jobs, shopping bags into van, I then became surplus to requirements and made to feel like an errant child who was getting under ‘mothers’ feet, I was provided with a sandwich and a drink for my lunch then basically told to go away and do some socialising with the new neighbours !! As you may imagine, I was stricken with grief at being cast aside in such a shoddy uncaring manner, not being permitted to assist ones beloved with the mind numbing task of finding spaces to fit bottles, jars, tins and packets of all shapes and sizes but instead, having to wander the campsite aimlessly and socialising and passing pleasantries with total strangers !!
When I was permitted to put a foot back inside ‘Big Momma’ Shazza had packed away what she could, but there were four bags of un-perishables in ‘Wuxlys’ boot and a further three bags stashed by the bed, by my reckoning we shouldn’t need to shop for food for the next four months let alone the two weeks we were supposed to be shopping for !! Now you would have thought that after the ‘Marathon’ shop, followed by the huge logistical task of finding places to stow it all, that my beloved would have wanted to go and have a lay down, but no, she proceeded to bake a Walnut, Cherry & Raisin cake and prepared a home-made Steak & Kidney Pie for this evenings meal !!
It had been a gorgeously hot and sunny day and it remained so well into the evening, on my way back from the shower block I witnessed the first proper sunset since being here, I of course couldn’t miss such a photo opportunity so rushed back to the van to get my camera. I am not sure which of the following photographs was my favourite so I am going to include them all so that ‘you’ can pick your own………
Monday 28th April – Bunree to Morvich (69 miles)
We awoke to yet another beautiful sunny day and enjoyed our usual morning cuppa in bed, however, today our mood was slightly different to normal ‘moving on’ days. It felt a bit like when we used to be in our ‘Old’ lives and went in ‘Big Momma’ on our month-long summer tours and this was the last day of our holiday. Although we didn’t actually start work until Saturday, today we were travelling to what will be our ‘work site’ and so there was a sense of the end of holiday blues tinged with a bit of nervousness and excitement, today we would meet our ‘Wardens’, Terry & Ennyd, these would be our bosses and work colleagues for the next eighteen weeks !! Terry & Ennyd were on a weeks holiday so the site had ‘temporary’ wardens in charge and they would be occupying our ‘Assistants Warden Compound’ until Tuesday morning, when they left and Terry & Ennyd returned to work. So our first night would be spent on a normal ‘pitch’.
First things first though, once we had got ‘Big Momma’ sorted into ‘on the road’ mode we went to say farewell to Bill & Lynda, the site Wardens here at Bunree, they had been so friendly, helpful and had shared lots of useful information with us, so when we handed in our ‘Barrier Fob’ Shazza also gave them half of the cake she had baked to have with their elevenses ! Mike & Pauline, the Assistant Wardens, were on a day off and ‘off site’ so we didn’t get chance to say a personal thank you and goodbye to them, although we would be seeing them again when they drop in to ‘our’ site on their way to sort out the selling of their house on the Isle of Skye.
Although we have previously travelled all the way up the East Coast of Scotland to John O’Groats we have never travelled further North than the ‘Corran Ferry’, a few minutes away from the Bunree site, on the Western Coast so today would be another first for us. We had planned two short stops, as we went through Fort William Shazza would stop at the Morrison’s fuel service station to top up ‘Wuxly’, she had got a fuel voucher when we did the shopping which gave a discount of £0.06p a Litre but it was only valid for one week so we decided to use it even though ‘Wuxly’ didn’t really need re-fuelling. Whilst she did that I carried on to the BP service station just outside the town to top up with LPG, again I didn’t really need any as we had filled up 25 days ago just before arriving at ‘Barnard Castle’. We hadn’t used that much with being on EHU, however, it would be interesting to see how much we had used in that time. For anyone else looking for LPG in that area, do not use the first service station on the right as you leave Fort William on the A82 heading North, they were charing £0.84p per litre !! Carry on, go past the ‘Esso’ service station, again on the right hand side of the road, to the Roundabout, the BP service station is just on that Roundabout on the Left hand side and they charge £0.73p per litre, the access to the LPG pump is easy to get on to !! My gas cylinder only took 4.92 Litres, not bad for 25 days, by the time I had filled and paid, Shazza was waiting so we set off on what was scheduled to be a journey of just under two hours.
It was a lovely drive, the road, although single carriageway all the way, is very good and the views !! Well we raved about the scenery in Spain and Portugal and that was truly spectacular but today’s drive was equally as breathtaking and spectacular, so much so that I had to stop on a couple of occasions to take some photographs, there were quite literally views around every bend in the road, the sun was shining, the sky was blue…………… Sorry, I almost burst into song there !!
I had seen a fantastic view of a Loch and it was just calling out for someone to take a Photograph of it so I indicated to let Shazza, who was following behind, know that I would be pulling in to a lay-by. We had ‘climbed’ up quite a few hills but I didn’t think it was high enough to get altitude sickness !! When I got out of the van I could hear music, Scottish music, bagpipe sort of music, had I come too far North too quickly that I was now hearing things…………..? I was mighty relieved when I went to investigate to discover a lone piper, in full regalia, playing with his pipes………!! You can hold that thought right there !!!
We were soon on our way again, but before departing I did offer him a piece of Shazza’s freshly baked home-made fruit cake but he said something about being on a diet so we gave him a few coins instead !!
I have probably committed an injustice to ‘Snoopy’ over the last few weeks, barely mentioning that she had delivered us to the front door of all our locations and we would certainly be reliant on her today. Our site was off the main road and once you get off the main roads they can soon become just tracks !! Today I was totally reliant on ‘Snoopy’s’ and so I was hoping that her route guidance would be as accurate as it has been for the majority of our trip to date.
Our first day was spent on a normal ‘pitch’ as their were ‘relief wardens’ on site and they were occupying the ‘Assistant Wardens Compound’ that we will be sited on from tomorrow when they leave. It was quite interesting really as a lot of our fellow campers who were also at Bunree are now here !! Once we had got settled on our ‘temporary’ pitch we were invited by Terry and Ennyd, who are our Wardens, Bosses and work colleagues around to their ‘Compound’ for a welcome drink which gave us a chance to get to know each other, they are really nice and I think we will get on very well together.
I can think of a few worse jobs than sitting on a ‘ride on’ mower cutting grass with views like this !! Okay, so One and a half hours a day will be spent on cleaning the ‘Facilities Block’ but even that isn’t every day. Then of course there is other general gardening and groundwork, cutting hedges and the like and of course some socialising with the ‘customers’, somehow I don’t think that will cause me any heartaches !!
Tuesday morning arrived and we went to say farewell to ‘Mike and Francis’ the relief wardens and once they had left we spent the day getting settled into our new ‘Compound’. We have a building within our compound that houses our own Shower, WC and Washbasin and a shed that houses a full size domestic Fridge & Freezer. We have two EHU points, a direct connection from ‘Big Momma’ to a grey drain and a fresh water tap, so a right little home from home. There is enough space within our fenced compound to accommodate ‘Big Momma’ with the awning out, complete with the ‘Wind Blocker’ attached and also space to park ‘Wuxly’ and we have got a perfect signal on the TV satellite system, a bonus considering that we are literally surrounded by mountains !! Parked up right next to the main office we also have an excellent WiFi signal but there is one negative aspect, the mobile phone signal is either very very weak, at best, or ‘No Service’ so phone calls and texts can only be conducted when we are off site in a better signal coverage area. This will not present any problems for Shazza keeping in touch with her Mum and other relatives as they can all use ‘Skype’. However, my parents, although having an iPad have not yet really got to grips with using Skype and so I have relied on the mobile phone and texts to keep in touch.
So, we are now well and truly settled and will spend our last three days of our ‘holiday’ on exploring our local area before donning our ‘Elf & Elfette’ uniforms …………………….