Monday 13th July (Day 123 of 236)
On a personal basis, it has not been the best of months for me and although the last thing I want to do is to write a post that sounds all doom and gloom, I guess this blog is about our everyday lives and not just about our gallivanting up and down the North East and when the opportunity arises, also around Europe !! So, if you have been following these ramblings recently you will know that I have a Cataract which requires removal and a ‘lens‘ replacement, I have an appointment with a Consultant at the end of July. I then had the injury to my elbow and that has recently been documented in previous posts. In between that, I needed a filling in a tooth, no big deal, but two weeks ago I developed another tooth ache, well more accurately, gum ache, in both my upper and lower gums on the right side of my mouth, the previous filling by the way being on the left hand side so not related. I finally got an Emergency appointment and X-Rays revealed an infection in the bone supporting my gum on the top right hand side, quite painful I can tell you !! The bad news, as if that wasn’t enough, was that the Dentist had to remove a perfectly healthy tooth, which broke during the procedure. I am now on a course of antibiotics and have to return to the Dentist in another two weeks to see if the infection has gone.
So why have I chosen to share these rather glum pieces of information with you, perhaps an appeal for sympathy ? Come on, you know me better than that, No ! It is rather a long-winded way of me, hopefully, bringing a smile to your face (Long winded, me !! Whatever can you mean ?).
So Shazza makes one of her routine calls to her Mum and gives her the latest news on my growing list of ailments. I heard Shazza laugh, not a little chuckle you understand, but a loud outburst of laughter, had ‘Sonia’ said “Oh, bless him, give him my love and tell him I hope he gets better soon“, Oh no ! her response to my lists of woes was, “You want to put another shilling on him” !!
Now I have to confess that this is an expression that I have not heard before and so I asked Shazza what it meant. She laughed, again, even louder than the first time, if that was possible, and explained that in years gone by, people could buy ‘Life Insurance’ for a ‘Shilling‘ (for the younger readers of this blog, a shilling was a small denomination of English Money before Decimalisation), the more ‘shillings‘ you paid the bigger the pay out grew !! Bloody charming I thought, I know I may be having a bit of a rough time but I’m not ready for the ‘Knackers Yard‘ just yet !!
Anyway, enough of that, it was Saturday evening, and after a long and busy day at work we readied ourselves for our next extended period of time off. We had booked on to the Club Site at Durham for the Sunday and Monday, not just as a bit of a getaway break but because that was the nearest place to where the ‘Thetford‘ approved dealer was who was going to repair our fridge. I had suspected a ‘faulty or broken’ electrical element in the fridge and that was the replacement ‘part’ that had been ordered. However, although I am far from being an Electrical Specialist, well any kind of specialist if I am being honest, but, just recently on a couple of occasions the fridge, which has an Automatic Energy Source’ detector, has switched back from working on Gas to working on Electric, not for long mind you, but…………. If the electrical element was ‘knackered’, then it wouldn’t work at all, my non-electrical mind deduced, so perhaps, I thought, it may not be the Electrical element at all but a faulty ‘Automatic Energy Source’ detector ? The only problem now is that the dealer may not have a replacement sensor in stock, which will mean having to make another return visit to Durham or, alternatively, paying an additional Eighty Five Pounds for their mobile service to come out to me !! Now I know that there will be a number of persons, from a certain Motorhome Forum, that read this blog, who will probably be thinking, “Serves you right for buying a Plastic Fantastic“, and who knows, they may well be right !! Even I remember the days when vehicles, when they broke down, could be fixed, or a suitable repair conducted, with only a set of Spanners, a Wrench, Screwdrivers and a Lump Hammer. Nowadays, modern vehicles with all their Electronic gadgets need a ‘Diagnostic Machine’ to tell the mechanic what the fault is and even how to fix it !! Yes, these are the joys of purchasing a modern ‘Plastic Fantastic’.
Sunday arrived and we got through our morning at work and then, after a quick change of clothing, we were ready to commence our short 76 mile journey to Durham. It’s amazing, I have lost count the number of times that I have travelled up and down this stretch of the A1 over the years but never knew that the Caravan Club had a site right next to it, literally a couple of minutes drive from Exit 62. It felt good to be back behind the wheel of ‘Big Momma’ and on the open road, it made us both yearn for the end of our season, we talked about our Apartment in Spain and we’re looking forward to getting back to ‘our’ Marina, to sit at one of the numerous bars enjoying a nice chilled bottle of ‘grape juice’. There were some advantages of having these ‘Elf & Elfette’ jobs, not just the financial aspect but the fact that they keep us fit, before taking up these jobs I used to have to buy trousers with a Thirty-Six inch waste, now I am closer to a Thirty-Three inch waist !! I just happened to mention to Shazza that there was a down-side to sitting on a sun bed, lathered in sun cream and drinking ‘Piña Coladas’, all day everyday for three months, to which she swiftly responded, “Yes, but I will still get my intake of five-a-day in my jug of Sangria” !!
It had been a nice drive, the sun was still shining and we were soon set up on our spacious ‘Fully Serviced‘ pitch. It was nice to be pitched up as just a ‘normal’ customer. Steve at TCM couldn’t fit us in until Monday afternoon, however, we would take the van to him mid-morning and as there was no bus Service from the Business Park where his workshop was located, he had offered to drive us to the bus stop in the next village where we could then take the short trip into Durham.
We awoke to rain beating on ‘Big Momma’s’ roof, however, the ‘Work of Fiction’ had forecast that it would stop raining by 11:00am, we hoped that it would be correct as we were going to spend several hours sightseeing in Durham, not very pleasant if you are getting soaking wet !! ‘Snoopy’ guided us straight to the front door of TCM and I explained the issue to Steve about the recent fluctuation from Gas back to Electric, he thought that it could be an issue with the ‘Primary Circuit Board‘ (PCB), but he told me that he would check it out. As promised he drove us to the village of ‘Bowburn‘ to catch the bus, we were grateful as it was quite some distance away, fortunately the rain had stopped.
The bus dropped us off right in the City Centre, Durham is a city because it has a Cathedral, but it is not a large place, however, we were pleasantly surprised as it is still full of old ‘Medieval’ charm and lots of character. We strolled around the few narrow streets, some of them cobbled, before climbing up to take a look at the Cathedral, which, surprisingly, is completely ‘free’ to enter. There was a bit of a link for us as the Shrine of St. Cuthbert is housed inside, that is the St. Cuthbert from ‘Holy Island‘ (Lindisfarne) which we had recently visited.
We spent quite a lot of time wandering around the inside of the Cathedral, I have to say that I was quite impressed by the spectacular array of extremely colourful, and very large, stained glass windows, especially the large central big circular one, unfortunately, the taking of photographs inside the Cathedral is not permitted so you will have to just take my word of it. I am not that easily impressed by Churches, Cathedrals etc and can get bored of wandering around aimlessly but on this occasion it wasn’t too bad. Shazza on the other hand finds such religious buildings quite peaceful and calming so she could have spent a lot longer looking around, fortunately there was a nice Cafe inside so after looking around the
‘Tourist Tat‘ Gift Shop, where I kept my wallet firmly secured in my coat pocket, we went for ‘Coffee and Cake‘. Whilst enjoying our very welcome tasty treat, we just happened to have another one of our regular ‘insignificant’ chats. Shazza obviously still under the influence of the ‘Religious Calming Influence‘, stated, in quite a serious way, “I think I could have been a Nun“, flipping heck, I hadn’t seen that one coming and nearly choked on my Banana, Cherry and Walnut cake !! After regaining my composure, and speedily rescuing a cherry before it sunk into the depths of my ‘cappuccino‘, I looked across at her, “You certainly have some of the right attributes” I said, winking at her, “What on earth do you mean ?” She scowled quizzically back at me. “Well, you do have some ‘Dirty’ Habits” I said, with a mischievous grin on my face, at which point she reached under the table and nearly grabbed me in the ‘Cloisters‘ !!
When we exited the Cathedral it had started to rain again, well drizzle rather than heavy raindrops, so we walked the short distance to the Castle Entrance where we took one look at the cost of entry, took a photograph of the entrance and walked back into the town.
We had arranged to go back to Steve at TCM just before he closed at 5:00pm, to give him chance to both conduct the repair and to also complete the full well overdue annual Service on the Fridge, only four years overdue in our case !! It was only a little after 1:00pm, so we decided to have a walk around the indoor market to keep dry. I like these sort of places as they have numerous little stalls selling everything, sometimes you even find things that until you see them you didn’t actually know that you needed them !! Unfortunately, on this occasion there wasn’t anything that I needed. We walked around the own a little more, on a warm sunny day we could have killed a lot more time wandering down and along the twisting ‘Riverside Walk’, but whilst it was warm it certainly was anything but sunny, so we didn’t bother. We made an executive decision, after having a late breakfast of bacon butties in the van before we departed, neither of us was hungry enough to eat a proper lunch, so we purchased a couple of ‘Steak Bakes’ from ‘Greggs’ and took a taxi back to TCM, at least if the van wasn’t ready we could eat our tasty snack whilst we waited for him to finish. Just as we set off in the taxi Steve rang me to say it was all done and to confirm that the problem had been the ‘Electric Element’. Once we arrived Steve told me that he had tested everything first, he didn’t want to replace the element if that hadn’t been the problem. I asked if he had carried out the Service, which he duly confirmed but stated that it hadn’t really needed doing as it was in pretty good condition. However, as standard with a full service, he doesn’t clean the burner jet he just replaces the whole burner unit. I knew from stories from some fellow travellers in Europe that they had experienced problems with blocked burner jets and badly ‘soothed’ flue’s but Steve told me that whilst their was some ‘soot’ in the flue, it had been minimal and would not have caused any problems. I was content that at least now the fridge was working properly again and had been serviced, it was one of those ‘Peace of Mind’ things.
We were back on site and pitched up by 3:00pm, now we could just relax and enjoy the rest of our day off luxuriating in doing absolutely nothing !! In the morning, it would be time to get ‘Big Momma’ back into ‘On the Road’ mode as we returned to our own site, donned our ‘Elf & Elfette’ outfits once more and re-commenced our duties, until our next period of time off………………………………..