The ten days since we got off the ferry at Portsmouth had just flown by, we had done all the catch-ups with our respective families, caught up with most of our Admin stuff, ‘Wuxly’ had been Serviced, MOT’d and Taxed for another year and we had got our working gear back down from Sonia’s loft. ‘Big Momma’ would still need to have her Annual Service and MOT but that couldn’t be done for at least another two weeks, although it didn’t need to be done until the 1st May so we had six weeks to sort it and there was a FIAT dealership that could handle Motorhomes in Edinburgh, that was quite handy as it was only a one hour drive away, provided they could book me in.
We have certainly felt the cold since being back, although there have been a couple of slightly warmer days, in the main we have been chilled to the bone and to our dismay it doesn’t get any better as we head even further North. We have been keeping an eye on the weather at Berwick-upon-Tweed and it looks like multiple layers for the foreseeable future. However, and I knew I would regret doing it, but I also do comparisons with the weather in Southern Spain where it is, on average, a mere 10 degrees(c) warmer !! But, if I thought that the comparisons on the contrasting weather painted a gloomy picture then I was in for even worse news, yes, you’ve guessed it haven’t you ? Shazza has already been checking out locations for eight months of new ‘Expeditions! !! Although the site doesn’t actually open to the ‘Campers’ until the 20th March, we have to be there a week early to meet our ‘Wardens’, then between us we will get the site and its facilities ready for the opening day of the season.
‘Snoopy’ had had her mapping updated so hopefully there will not be a repeat of some of the ‘brain farts’ this coming year as we had experienced on our recent trip. Our route up was fairly straightforward, basically a three and a half hour drive up the ‘A1’ with a brief stop just before ‘Scotch Corner’ to top up the LPG and Diesel. It was strange being on my own in ‘Big Momma’ without Shazza in the ‘Navigators’ seat, she was following in ‘Wuxly’ which would become our primary mode of transportation for the next eight months. The weather started off grey and overcast but dry, however, it rapidly deteriorated the further North we drove, fog, drizzle and falling temperatures, well there’s always the summer to look forward to !! Lots of road works made progress slow but we had left early so had plenty of time. We made our LPG stop at a ‘Shell’ service station just before ‘Scotch Corner’, quite handy as the LPG pump is set alongside the fuel pumps. The last time we topped up the LPG was in Spain at Los Barrios, we had relied on the gas supply for our Wildcamping at ‘Coria’ on the way up, then we left the gas on during our 24 hour ferry crossing and then whilst at Shazza’s mums, where we spent seven days, we kept the gas on to keep the Fridge and Freezer cold, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it still only took 8 Litres !! I used the opportunity to top up the Diesel as well, although we wouldn’t be using ‘Big Momma’ to travel in over the next eight months there will be a trip to get her Serviced and MOT’d so at least I won’t have to worry about re-fuelling again as Edinburgh is only around 60 miles away. Whilst I don’t anticipate having to top up the LPG in the coming months, as we will be on EHU and so making good use of the Electric Hot Plate on the cooker and the trusty ‘Remoska’, I did notice another service station on the Southbound side of the A1, not far from Berwick, which advertised ‘Autogas’, good as a ‘just in case’ scenario !
We pulled into the site, our ‘New Wardens’, ‘Mentors’ and ‘Work Colleagues’, Dougie and Avril gave us a really warm greeting and after we had finished getting ‘Big Momma’ into our ‘Compound’, and hooked up to the EHU, they made us a very welcome hot ‘Cuppa’ and we spent a bit of time chatting and generally just getting to know each other. So, here we are in our new home until November, the next week will be spent getting the site ready for the ‘Campers’ when we open officially for the season on Friday 20th March.
We spent the rest of Friday afternoon and evening just getting ‘Big Momma’ settled into ‘Lived-In Mode’ and then once the van was nice warm and cosy Shazza cooked us a quick tea of Gammon, Eggs and Baked Beans, lovely !! Although the sea is some distance away, I could hear it as I lay in bed and the sound helped me drift off into a wonderful sleep.
We were awake quite early on Saturday morning, this was our ‘Official’ set-up day, so after the usual duvet coffees we got up and started to get a few things sorted. We had quite a large compound again but the weather wasn’t conducive to getting the awning out and putting up the ‘Wind Blocker’, that will have to wait until the weather warms up a bit, however, there were still a few jobs to do, setting up the electrics to the large shed where we had a Fridge/Freezer and do a temporary running repair to the ‘Fresh Water’ tap in the compound which had sprung a leak. I started to look at what I could do in my spare time (days off) to create some outdoor space for a bit of ‘Al Fresco’ dining once the Winter has gone and the temperatures begin to rise. I had a good supply of paving slabs provided for me to use, they would make a nice ‘patio’ and we had a wooden bench and several hanging baskets so with our ‘Windbreak’ erected and our large Camping Table and the Sun Chairs, we could have a nice ‘private’ garden area for those ‘Summer’ evenings. You can see what I am doing here can’t you, it’s all about ‘PMA’ (Positive Mental Attitude), if I keep talking of Summer, rising Temperatures, Al Fresco dining then it ‘Will’ happen !!
Once we had done as much as we could, which included re-organising some internal cupboards to accommodate the seasons ‘Elf & Elfette’ clothing, we decided to do a bit of local ‘familiarisation’. In Shazza speak that interprets as finding out where all the ‘essentials’ are (Supermarkets and Shops). Outside of the Town there are a good supply of Supermarkets to choose from, all the usual suspects, ASDA, TESCO, M&S, Morrisons and ALDI and a small Retail Park with Homebase, Argos, Halfords, NEXT etc. Compared to last Season when we had to drive 15 miles to the ‘Kyle of Lochalsh’ to the nearest, and the only Supermarket (Co-Op), this was a bit of luxury, well it was for someone !!
We, Shazza, elected to honor the ‘Morrisons’ establishment with our presence on this particular retail expedition, which, I have to say, is impressively large and well stocked, however, for me, it doesn’t make much difference where we shop, my wallet still gets emptied !! After making a ‘sterling’ effort to turn around Morrisons falling profits, we headed back into town to investigate what was on ‘Offer’ there. Actually, whilst it is much like any other town in respect of contains all the usual ‘brand’ name shops, what was nice was the fact that this still has the typical High Street, no ‘pedestrianised zones’ here, a main road runs through the town with shops on either side with lots of little side streets to wander down and explore, but fortunately not all on today’s little ‘recce’ visit. What I didn’t know was that Berwick-upon-Tweed is a ‘Walled Town’, much like our visits to similar towns in Portugal and Spain, you can walk around the ramparts and wander amongst some lovely ‘green areas’. We walked a short distance around the walls but then decided, primarily because we were freezing in the icy bite of the Easterly wind, to leave this for a future ‘Shazza Expedition’. From the ramparts we also identified several other footpaths to be explored and for me, with my love of the sea, a walk out along the harbour wall to the lighthouse at the mouth of the estuary. There are also a couple of beaches to be explored and these, and the ‘other’ walks I have mentioned above, can all be done from the Campsite. Beyond that there are simply ‘oodles’ of places in the local vicinity, beaches, castles and more historic towns, all to be explored, so it looks as if I will be able to keep you entertained over the coming months with reports on where ‘Shazza’ drags me to, but until then there is a little matter of work to do………………………………..