Sunday, 13 May 2018

Tenth Birthday and Good Weather.....

Yesterday was the tenth birthday of this Blog.....
Over the past ten years 'The Original PurpleTraveller' has covered lots of different subjects such as saddle comfort.... favourite tents for backpacking....the pain endured on long distance bike rides against the clock.... caravan life and lots more.....

When it was first started I had thought that it might be a platform for friends to follow what was going on and keep in touch when I was away on some hair brained challenge either on the bike or backpacking or something else......
The truth is that has not really been the case.....

In the main friends don't drop in on the blog all that often but new internet friends have been made and some of those have been regular followers for many years and in turn I have followed their blogs with interest......

I have always made a point of answering any comments left on the blog because I feel that if people have made the effort to read my ramblings and then made the extra effort to leave a comment then the least that I can do is acknowledge that fact.....

How many more years will I continue to make posts on this blog?
That is a difficult one to answer....... 
i suppose I might wake up one morning and decide enough is enough and stop posting entries for good.....

I do go through periods of not having much to say and during those periods obviously make fewer posts and then something happens and I think to myself that I must put that on the blog.....

Anyway..... I would like to say to all those readers out there who drop by on a regular basis "Thanks you are what it is all about"

Since my last post the weather has improved no end and like almost everywhere else in the country we had a stunning Bank Holiday weekend.......

The site was quite busy over the weekend.....
The lower field was the busiest as can be seen in the first picture below.......

The busy lower field...
 By Monday afternoon the lower field was almost empty..... They had come...camped....and gone again!!
Monday afternoon and most campers had gone.....
 So what did we do over the Bank Holiday.......
We kept off the roads.....took the front panel of the awning down and sat around in the sun enjoying all the nice weather....
Good enough weather to take the awnings front panel down....
Oh..! One last thing......
I have now brought Fiona the Felt out of her winter hibernation and am now enjoying the wonders of Full Carbon & Dura-Ace rides.......
Fiona the Felt....My summer ride now out on the road......

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Back to a Favourite......

Last Monday we re-located to one of our regular and favourite sites-Verwood.
Since we have been here the weather has deteriorated again....
The bright sunny weather that we had during part of our 14 night stay at Moreton has changed to dull..wet..and pretty dismal.

All the grass pitches on the site seem to be quite squelchy underfoot however none of the grass pitches are occupied only the hardstandings.....
Tonight strong to gale force winds are forecast.......
Given our dealings with the gale force winds we experienced when we were wintering down in Devon my negative anticipation levels are running high.... I just hope that we are pitched in the right spot to avoid a head on confrontation with the powers of nature.....

Since we have been here we have taken Eva the Eriba over to Automotive Leisure for her annual service and water ingress test... 
Happy to say that she sailed through with no problems.

While she was there for the service they also replaced the shock cord that runs around the middle of the pop top canvas... Over the past three years it had lost some of it's elasticity.
It's important to have a reasonable amount of tension on this so that when you lower the roof  it pulls in the canvas all the way around so it doesn't get caught in either of the scissor hinges at either end or get caught up between the pop top roof and the fixed roof.....

Also while she was being serviced they replaced the 230v element on the refrigerator.
Over the winter we were able to use a domestic fridge in our awning which one of the other caravanners had stored in his own awning.....after the night of the 'Beast from the East' which destroyed everyone's awnings we switched it over to gas which we have continued to use since we left Devon. Now the element has been replaced we have gone back to using the fridge on electric as it works out cheaper than running it on gas plus it is more convenient....

We have also caught up with our friends Gideon and Angie who are working here as Holiday Site Assistants for the season...
We had a great evening on Friday over at their motorhome while we chatted and shared a few beers and a few bottles of wine while demolishing a take away Chinese meal...

They had spent their winter driving around the Iberian Peninsula and had a few tales to tell but both seemed to feel that five months of moving on almost every few days for that length of time was too much and probably longer stays and less travelling over a shorter period would have been a better idea...
It will be interesting though to see what they end up doing next winter.
Like us they are free spirits and can do whatever they fancy..... 

Just touching on our stay at Moreton again.....
While we were their my friend Jon Joynes who was part of the '10in10' cycling team came over for a visit and we enjoyed coffee and 'doorstep' sandwiches at the Moreton Tea Rooms...

Another visitor was my old buddy Peter Calcutt.... He brought one of his bikes with him and we managed to get a ride together over part of the Purbeck area..
He and his wife Allison have recently taken delivery of a caravan of their own so hopefully we will be able to meet up now and again at various sites.....

As promised in my last post below are some images taken in and around Moreton including the Moreton Gardens......






 Now as you probably realise we don't indulge in selfies on the Purpletraveller but we do like the iconic leaning bike shot....
This one taken on my ride with Peter Calcutt.....

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Social Event........

Last Saturday we attended the Annual Social Event put on by Automotive Leisure the suppliers of Eva the Eriba....
It is always good to pop along and meet up with other owners and also see the latest models and gadgets for the Eriba range of touring vans.....


Eriba Owners at the Social Event....

Another view at the Social Event.....
We have attended the last three events in order to keep us up todate with everything Eriba....
This year my main interest was in a prototype of a new inflatable awning that is based on the awning that was destroyed in the recent storms.....

This new awning is made from the same material that our previous awning was made from... this was a material that we really liked as it was easy to keep clean with just a quick wipe over with a damp cloth and it also didn't fade.

Our current summer awning made by Kampa fades really badly and it is also not very easy to keep clean.....
The roof being made from a white material shows every mark .... it looks fine from the outside but from the inside you can see every mark....not really a very sensible colour when you think about it.....

The protoype awning which we viewed at Automotive Leisure seems to tick all the boxes for us and it also seems to have avoided a number of the errors in design that Kampa made with our current awning......

Unfortunately the new awning won't be available until after June this year.....
Our plan is to continue with the Kampa awning for this summer season and then buy one of these new awnings in September/October......
The Grave of T.E.Lawrence
 One interesting thing to be found in the village of Moreton is the grave of T.E.Lawrence known as Lawrence of Arabia......
His cottage 'Clouds Hill' is just a couple of miles away from the village and is well woth a visit if you are ever in the area.....
Lawrence once described Clouds Hill as his 'Earthly Paradise'.
He finished writing his account of the Arab Revolt 'The Seven Pillars of Wisdom'here, and he made friends with Thomas Hardy who was then living at Max Gate in Dorchester......
For all you Post Box fans......
Another thing to be seen in the village is something that will be of interest to all you Post Box enthusiasts out there.....
This post box can be found on the outside of the old post office.....

It has been a while since I have posted an image of a post box so I thought that I would share this one with you....

Something else of interest in the village are the Moreton Gardens.... more or less opposite the Moreton Tea Rooms... but you will have to wait until my next post to see a few images of that......

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

We thought that we had got away with it........

On Monday we left the Tavistock site........
It's always sad at the start of our touring season saying goodbye to all the people that we have spent the last five months with......
Mind you it's not as if we won't catch up with them again either at Tavistock or in a different part of the country as we travel around.......

After all the rain that we have had it was a real bright and sunny morning as we hitched up and slowly drove out of the site......
We thought that we had got away with it...... no rain!!

Things never work out the way that you want them to though.... It stayed nice and dry and sunny until we went past Exeter and then the rain came down....it was heavy rain... raining cats and dogs (what does that mean?) and it continued all the time during our journey only easing as we arrived at our destination.... and this is where we are....

Our current location.

Site entrance...
Yes...we are now at the Moreton C&CC site in Dorset.......
Although we have been back to Dorset a number of times over the past few years this is the first time we have stayed at this site with Eva the Eriba.......

I have stayed here before though although that was a number of years ago...probably ten or more and that was with the Backpackers Club on one of our circular walks around Dorset that we called 'The Dorset Round'.

The main reason we have decided to pitch up here is in order to enable me to ride some of the routes that I used to ride when we lived at Alum Chine in Bournemouth......

Anyway...when we arrived it was too wet to put up the summer awning but on the Tuesday we managed to get it up and our timing was perfect as the moment we had finished the rain started again and yes it was heavy.......

This morning we woke up to bright sunny weather and it was dry.... What should I do..?
No need to think twice..... I prepped the bike and set off on a ride in the Purbecks.... I had a complete route in mind but it would depend on whether the military firing ranges were open as my route would be taking me across a section of the ranges....
Yippee....The ranges were open.....
When I got to the start of the ranges as luck would have it they were open......
My route was to take me to Steeple via Creech Hill.....
For someone who hasn't been able to get out and ride much recently this was a bit of a tall order as the hills are STEEP and I am really out of condition...... But I made it...


Up on the Wareham Ridge at Stonehill Down.....

A slightly different viewing angle......
The route to the top of the ridge is one that I used to train on before the Ten Countries in Ten Days ride..... It has a nice hairpin along it which was useful for preperation for the Swiss/Italian Alps.....

When I got up to the top of the ridge there was a guy in a motorhome parked up and we chatted and enjoyed a coffee together..... He comes from the North East of the country and had wild camped in the little lay-by overnight....

We chatted away for almost 45mins and then I headed back along the same route.....
I have to be honest though that I was struggling a bit during the last eight miles of the return.....
First 'proper' ride of the year and I had been a bit ambitious with the distance and terrain but it was a great ride and I hope to have a few more before we move on ........

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Jam or Cream First......

The other day we went to the Two Bridges Hotel for a cream tea...........
It was a lovely day to go for a walk on the moors and what better way to finish the walk than a traditional Devon cream tea.....

Now I say traditional Devon cream tea but of course Cornwall also has their own traditional Cornish cream tea.....
The difference between them apparently is if the jam is first on the scone or the cream is first...

In Devon it is supposed to be cream first and in Cornwall it is jam first.....or so we are told...
Interestingly Anne and all of her family are Devonians and none of them put the cream on the scone first in fact Anne has told me that it is only in recent years that the discussion about cream or jam first has come up......
She thinks that it is another of these 'tales' that's put out by the local tourist boards to add a bit of extra interest and in turn sell more cream teas......

Whatever the truth of the matter we enjoyed the day and the cream tea and for what it's worth I put the jam on one of my scones first and on the other one I put the cream on first.....
To be honest I found that the jam on first was a lot less messy to eat than putting the cream on first with the jam on last......

Some images below taken in and around the grounds of the Two Bridges Hotel.......










Jam or Cream first..!!
 Oh... the summer awning is back up again now...... Lets hope the weather continues to be good enough th leave it up until we leave the Tavistock site

Monday, 19 March 2018

Repeat Performance.....

Two weeks after the 'Beast from the East' we have been given a repeat performance....this time it was called 'Mini Beast from the East......

The Start of the Mini Beast
Following the big beast a couple of weeks ago we lowered what was left of our awning and disposed of it at the tip....
It was a bit sad really as that awning had been with us from the start and had seen us through two summers and three winters...
All in all it had done pretty well and had fought off many a gale force wind and a good number of storms......

Anyway following the awning disposal trip we collected our summer awning from Anne's son who had been storing it for us over the winter....
As it is an air awning it didn't take long to put it up and for two days we enjoyed having it as a fallback and counted ourselves lucky that we had an extra awning to use.....

On the second night with the summer awning we had another very windy night...... The awning withstood the wind quite well and one of the benefits of having an air awning is that you don't have the banging, crashing and flapping sounds that you do with a normal poled awning....
However after that windy night I checked the forecast and after seeing that the 'mini beast' was
on its way Anne and I took the awning down again....

Other campers must have thought that we were mad taking it down after just a couple of days especially as the weather when we took it down was nice and bright and sunny..... indeed the day before we had enjoyed sitting out in it enjoying the sunshine and afternoon tea.....

What a good decision that was......
When the 'mini beast' hit us this past weekend the winds were almost as bad as last time but the snow it brought with it was even worse and Devon was hit hard.....
It was freezing cold but we were able to look out of Eva the Eriba and enjoy watching it without having to worry about an awning being blown about and being torn to shreds...

Nearly all of the roads in the vicinity became impassable due to either ice or snow drifts....
Anne's son who was trying to get back to Tavistock after watching the rugby at Twickenham the day before got back as far as the Fox & Hounds near Lydford before deciding that it was too dangerous to proceed any further..... He had to spend the night there even though it is only about eight miles away from his home......

We awoke this morning to a very cold morning with caravans and motorhomes having frozen water pipes (not us as we have onboard water supplies) and the site road being very icy first thing......

Even though the police had blocked the road with signs and cones people this morning were ignoring the signs and attempting to drive up pork hill..... 
One 4X4 spent ages with all four wheels spinning trying to climb the hill before his stupidity filtered through his thick skull and he gave up his attempt.....
What is it about the words 'ROAD CLOSED' that some idiots don't seem to understand??

Any way we are warm.....safe...and well fed with all the supplies that we have on board and now enjoying watching the snow slowly start to disappear.

Whichever way you look at it, it is a lot more of an adventure than living in a 'sticks and bricks' over the winter and sitting there with a pipe and slippers even though it can get a bit scary at times.....


Sunday, 4 March 2018

The Worst 48hrs Since We Set Out......

I thought that things had been bad weather wise as I reported in my last post on this blog....
What a fool I was......!!!
More bad weather had been forecast for this past week...

Some wag had called the oncoming bad weather "The Beast from the East"..... 
I really hate those stupid names that seem to be given to everything these days...every storm now has to have a name which is designed to make it sound more like the chap (or his wife) across the road...I prefer details on wind speed...rain fall etc...  
Detailed information is far more useful than knowing that the bad weather aproaching is called the beast from wherever....

Anyway after closing the pop top on the caravan a week ago it stayed shut for the entire week due to the continuous very strong winds.....

As we moved through the week the temperature fell dramatically.... on a couple of mornings the outside of the windows on Eva were just like frosted glass with solid ice over the entire outside of the caravan......

I didn't sleep for 48hrs.... both Wednesday and Thursday nights we had storm force winds tearing down from the moor reaching gusts of up to ninety miles an hour.....This was the worst 48hrs we have experienced since we set out.......
The awning was jumping all over the place and was flapping and banging like nothing we have ever experienced before... scary is too mild a term for what it felt like especially when the caravan was hit by the gusts...

Wednesday night was just wind but on Thursday night the snow arrived as well.....
Our awning was being ripped to pieces as we watched.....
The pegs seemed to be holding due to the frozen ground.....all the tension was on the stitching around the bottom edge..... trouble was that after one section ripped it made it easier for the wind to rip out the next section....

The next parts to go were the side windows..... as it was easy for the wind to now get into the awning due to the damage it had already done it made short work of blowing the windows out and tearing them to shreds.......

With gaping holes everywhere the awning started to fill with snow over everything..... 
A few images below to show what it was like:- ........


I went to the toilet block with no snow...10 mins later this was blowing in.

First snow blasting into the site.

Side window torn to shreds..note the snow starting to drift against the awning.

Interior of awning with snow everywhere...

The other end of the awning....

Front panel with rips along pegging points..note previous attempted temporary repair.

No access up Pork hill from campsite.....on late Friday freezing rain had created black ice everywhere.
On the Friday morning only one awning had survived with just minimal damage..... 
The others..mine included.... were all damaged beyond economical repair..... in other words they were all but destroyed.....

All the water standpipes on the site were frozen solid....and those caravans that were hooked up to a water supply had no water......we have all our water in onboard containers so no frozen tap problems for us.....

From the Friday lunch time the electricity supply kept going on and off and eventually went off and stayed off..... The electricity engineers estimated that the supply would not be restored until 1800hrs...later on this was revised to 0030hrs Saturday morning although they eventually restored it at 1915hrs on Friday evening.
This was all caused to damage to the cables caused by the weight of ice on the cables which was the result of freezing rain and wind....

When the rain started it was managing to wash the snow away but then as it began to freeze the roads were like ice rinks....
The road outside the club site where it starts to ascend Pork hill had been closed during the snow and then it continued to be closed with the black ice (see last image above.) 

All in all we have survived quite well.....We are warm and safe.....
All of the country was hit by this.... some areas had it far worse than us and others had it far better than us..
However this was the first time that a 'Red Alert' has been issued for Devon since the coding system of alerts was started and being in a caravan in those truly distructive winds was really a scary experience and one that I have no wish to repeat..... 
Other long time caravan and motorhome owners on site have told me that they had never experienced anything close to this......

Since Saturday we have all started the big clear up.....
Items that were in the awnings have been soaked first from the snow and then heavy rain blowing in so a lot of discarding of damaged items is under way....
We will be taking down what is left of our awning during the next couple of days..... Some of the other awnings on the site have already been removed......

What a calm stress free and  peaceful life caravanning is..........!!

I will keep you posted on any other developments........