Monday 21st July – Sunday 27th July
Difficult to believe I know, but I guess after writing this blog now for just over a year there had to come a time when there would be little of interest to write about, that time came last week but surely i would have enough to write about after two weeks, to be honest I am struggling !!
I can give you an update to a previous post ‘Trauma With Truma‘, you may remember that after our first wasted one hundred and forty-four mile round trip to ‘Highland Campervans‘, due to them ordering the wrong part, we arranged for a re-visit two weeks later to get the van to them by 08:30am on the 22nd so that they could get us away within a couple of hours. The big day arrived, the day we would travel back to ‘Culloden Caravan Club Campsite’ near Inverness so that we could get the van in early, first things first though we still had the morning to work !! The phone rang early in the office and when I answered it was ‘Highland Campervans’ advising me that due to their ‘technicians‘ being on a ‘Training Course’ they couldn’t start work on my van until 1pm. I expressed my displeasure at the late notification in no uncertain terms, they told me they had left a message on my mobile phone, why tell such stupid lies, even missed calls are logged and voicemail messages are on the phone until they have been listened to, there were no missed calls or voice mails !! They had actually done me a favour, although I wasn’t going to tell them that. It now meant that although we were using up yet more valuable days off to get the water boiler heating element replaced, now we could have a lay-in instead of being up at the crack of sparrows.
We had prepared ‘Big Momma’ from ‘home‘ mode to ‘travel‘ mode on Sunday evening so that when we finished work we could get changed out of our ‘Elf & Elfette’ outfits and hit the road. It was a lovely hot and sunny day and we decided to take a small diversion to the big ASDA Superstore on our way to Culloden. The main purpose was to re-fuel ‘Big Momma’ with cheap diesel but as you have probably already guessed, after filling up with fuel Shazza couldn’t pass up another opportunity of going into a ‘Supermarket’ !! It was an advantageous diversion as I also took the opportunity of picking up a couple of cases of cheap ‘Carlsberg Zest’, well it had to be done. I am not usually a ‘beer’ drinker, although I know lager isn’t considered as beer to the ‘beer’ drinkers, but at the end of a hot working day there is no better feeling than to savour that ice-cold liquid nectar hitting the back of the throat whilst sat on the step of ‘Big Momma’ and looking at the beautiful mountain landscapes that tower above me.
We arrived at Culloden, four shopping bags heavier !! Linda, the Assistant Warden, had allocated us a different pitch to the last time we visited and this one was even better as the habitation door side was facing South West which meant that we had the sunshine all day until it set in the evening.
With the rest of the late afternoon and evening to just ‘chillax’, out came the reclining sun chairs and the cold beers and some quality time to sit in the warmth of the sun contemplating, which as you know is always best done with one’s eyes closed !! I was just beginning to enjoy this period of relaxation, listening to the sounds of the birds chirping away merrily and the mixture of unobtrusive sounds that were emanating from our fellow campers when I heard it. It could have been mistaken for rolling thunder but It was too nice a day for that and besides, I had heard that noise quite frequently before, so knew straight away what it was, yes it was Shazza’s food alarm sounding, it was time to light the BBQ.
After we had eaten our crispy Belly Pork slices, Lamb Kebabs and Sausages we indulged ourselves with a dessert of luscious fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream, it really did feel like summer and then we washed and dried the pots and was just settling down to watch some early evening television when I heard the familiar tunes of a nice cream van. I knew we were close to some residential housing but this tune was so loud it could have been on the campsite. To my utter amazement it appeared, heading around the road on the campsite and in our direction, a ‘Mr Whippy’ ice cream van ! Now I am used to some Caravan Club sites having a mobile Fish & Chip van on site on Friday evenings and at Troutbeck Head site in Cumbria even a Bacon Roll van on Sunday mornings, but this was the first ice cream van that I had ever seen and one that was actually going around the pitches. Well it just had to be done, I know we had just eaten strawberries and ice cream but I haven’t had a ‘Mr Whippy’ 99 cornet for simply ages so I grabbed my wallet and went and got two massive ice cream cornets with a Cadbury’s flake smothered in raspberry flavoured sauce, simply wonderful.
We awoke to another brilliantly sunny day and there was no rush to get up out of bed, there is something very special about being able to just laze under the duvet with a hot mug of coffee just gazing up through the large over bed ‘Heki’ skylight into a brilliantly blue cloudless sky. It made us think of our last Winter trip to Spain and Portugal when we could spend most mornings just doing this, followed by my second coffee of the day doing an external weather check in shorts and tee-shirt, it wouldn’t be long now and we would be doing the same again, a spot of wild camping at some beautiful location, a beach, cliff top or even parked up beside another lighthouse overlooking the Atlantic Ocean breakers as they crashed onto the rocks below, the memories of our last trip still so vivid in my mind that for the briefest of moments I was back there again. This years Winter trip we would re-visit some of our most favourite places again but we wanted to find new places along the Algarve coastline, places that we hadn’t had the time to explore on our previous visit, then of course this time our itinerary would also include Morocco.
We arrived at ‘Highland Campervans’ and was met by the ‘technician’ we had seen on our previous visit and he confirmed he had the correct part this time around. He was pleasant enough and stated that there would be two of them working on the Combi water boiler so as to get us away as soon as possible. Good to his word the job was done within an hour, although as their were two technicians I was charged for two hours labour, to be honest I was just pleased that it was all fixed although I still wanted to test it myself, first on the 900w and then on the 1800w electric settings and then the same on the gas setting, but that would have to wait. We paid the bill and set off on our journey back to Morvich. Our plan was to get to the same place on Loch Clunie where we had stopped for coffee on our last trip back from Inverness and then, as on our last trip, stop at the ‘Clunie Inn’ and treat ourselves to an evening meal. However, our nice little parking stop was busy with other vehicles so there was no room for ‘Big Momma’. We looked to see if their were any other ‘pull ins’ by the Loch but before we knew it we were at the ‘Clunie Inn’ so an earlier than planned meal it was then. It was a beautiful summers evening and we toyed with the idea of not returning to our ‘Compound’ and finding somewhere to Wild Camp but thought better of it. When we returned it was not just a matter of parking up, we would need to get into our compound and the get ‘Big Momma’ on levelling blocks, hook up the electric, re-fit the grey waste pipes and then turn her back into ‘home‘ mode, this would all take time and we didn’t want to have to do all this just before starting work again so we returned to the Campsite, at least we would get a lay-in in the morning.
According to previous years comparisons we had had our busy period and from the beginning of July to the end of the season this site would get quieter and quieter, well someone best tell the Caravanners, Motorhomers and Tenters that ! To be totally honest, we are not exactly full to the gunnels, apart from some days on our tenters field, but we are busier than anticipated and I have to admit to enjoying it when we are busy, it has a nice atmosphere. We have noticed a change in our tent campers, earlier in the season the majority were smallish back packers type tents but now we have couples and families in the larger style tents. Again we have a good International Community on site, Swedish, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Belgian, Korean and Czech Republic as well as those from nearer home. We have some really lovely people on the site and being the kind of person I am, I enjoy stopping and chatting with them as I go around doing my various duties.
After several days of searingly hot weather it finally broke. Even when the weather changes the scenery is beautiful but it is rather magical when on one mountain you have brilliant sunshine and on the other, you can see it shrouded in rain and it’s coming towards you…………
This change of weather has unfortunately stayed with us and the sun, for the past few days, has made only a fleeting appearance so we quite literally have to take a ‘rain check’ on our Kayaking Adventure and trip on the ‘Hogwarts Express’, but we have five weeks still to go so perhaps we may still get the opportunity to tick these last two adventures off the list……