Lundy 2012

The Prologue …

Sunday 13th May
Having hauled our bags and baggage into the car (are those two big bags really only 20kg?!), set off for the South just after 10:00am
Good journey down, by the Eastern Route — M6, M40, A34, M27,A31; mostly at a steady 77mph on the cruise control, with coffee at Cherwell Valley and sandwiches in a lay-by on the A34.

Monday 14th
To Sainsbury’s for final food shopping, then a major reworking of the packing, as Phyl says there’s a maximum weight allowance of 15kg per bag!
Rather late departure for Barnstaple (Topher having some major last-minute Church Warden-ing to complete!), but made reasonable time getting down there. Fish-and-chips at Appledore followed by a comfortable night in the Travelodge.

Act I – The First Week …

Tuesday 15th
To Ilfracombe for the 10:00 boat. Weather not great — dry but windy, with sea state officially declared “rough”; crewman subsequently declared it really “only what we’d call ‘moderate'”, but Topher and I beg to differ!  😦
Landed just before noon, and by the time we had climbed to the Tavern, felt sufficiently recovered to partake of burger and chips, washed down with a couple of pints of Old Light.
Government House was ready in good time and we were soon settled in.
Salmon with asparagus etc, followed by Chatwin’s cream swiss roll

Wednesday 16th
Special event of the day was the Fire Brigade Exercise. JL and I had taken a stroll after lunch: across to Hanmers, on to The Castle, then past Benjamin’s Chair and up behind the Church to the helicopter field, and so to the Tavern, where a swift pint proved irresistible. As we sat there in the sunshine, it became apparent the Lundy Fire Brigade were going to be engaged in some kind of training exercise. In due course, the fire truck, the tractor towing the water bowser, and a Land Rover full of suitably-kitted Lundy-ites  headed off up the Main Road, with us in hot pursuit. They turned off into [????] field and headed for the side-lands, where they presumably planned to extinguish a mythical brush fire. Unsure if it would be permissible/acceptable to follow, we continues up the road to Quarter Wall and crossed over to The Cottages, and so back towards home along the top East-side path. As we came in sight of them again, the exercise was coming to a close, so we watched them recover their hoses, and then headed on home.
Evening meal of  M&S steak-and-kidney puddings, by Phyl, with apricot tart to follow.

Thursday 17th
Pork chops and heavyweight chocolate mousse

Cruise ship
Pub for starters and main — excellent! Mince tart and ice cream for afters

Lazy day; jigsaw.
Curry night; red-fruit salad

Croissants: 18min @ 170deg too little – three more minutes just about OK: next time 22min@170deg
Quarry Beach
Roast lamb; raspberry meringues

Act II – The Second Week …

Bought new rugby shirt
Up the Main Road and across the airfield to the west side, then round the Earthquake to the south side of Jenny’s. Following consultation with a couple of ladies “doing the letter boxes” we located a recommended spot for seeing the puffins — and sure enough there they were: quite a lot of them; certainly our best viewing ever.
Lunch in the shelter of Half-way Wall.
Then on up to Three-Quarter wall and across to the east side. Returned by the Lower Path to Caterpillar Corner, and thence up the Timekeeper’s Slope and home on the upper east side path.
Boiled ham followed by stick toffee pudding.

To the Ugly for morning coffee and to observe the Trinity House boat and the arrival of the Oldenburg; neither of which provided much entertainment.
Lunch at home, after which JL and I had a local stroll.
Largely inactive afternoon, with mist coming and going. Late final walk up to the Rocket Pole and back across to the village, when the mist began to roll in quit seriously.
Topher’s sausages and cauli cheese; followed by extempore pudding of bananas and toffee sauce with ice cream.

Dull most of the day, but not cold.
C&P to Brazen Ward and North End; D&L stayed local (L poorly back)
Scaffolding removed from the Old Light.
Two tiny goslings.
Chili and rhubarb crumble

Mist/fog until lunchtime, then bright sunshine & warm
Oldenburgdelivered 200+ in dense fog
JST tall ship Lord Nelson arrived unseen, but was revealed when mist lifted around lunchtime
Spent most of the afternoon by The Ugly, watching comings and goings in the landing bay
Pub for tea: I enjoyed Lundy Lamb Fillet with orange salad, followed by Lundy Pork Chops (2-off, enormous!); general consensus was not as good as previous Friday, probably because different chef, but still acceptable. Remains of RFS with ice cream and pudding wine.

Sunny all day
Idle morning (?)
Afternoon walked via Ugly, top east side to Quarter Cottages, across airfield to Old Light. Up Light (gratia Derek). Sunbathed out of the wind NW of Light.
Rumours of helicopter due to high winds
Begin Packing
Beer-can Chicken and treacle pud; drink-up

Still windy but helicopter cancelled.
Oldie failed to dock and waited west side till after lunch
Sea fell during afternoon
Very nice sail home.
No f&c!!
Arr. Broadstone 00:30. Bed 01:30

The Epilogue

Sunday 27th May
Up in good time to enjoy breakfast with C&P before duty called them at church. As per normal, shopping at Ringwood Waitrose before setting out for The North. Good travelling, despite moderate traffic. Slightly tense few miles on the M6 Toll, with fuel gauge on zero, but made it to Norton Canes services. Home in Wistaston around 14:30.

Once again, an excellent early summer break, this time enhanced by very good weather. We have already decided to get 2014 booked a.s.a.p. since it will be our 20th anniversary.

Out In The Cold

Spent a very chilly day at Oulton Park on Saturday for the first BRSCC Race Day of the season. (Might not have been so bad if the following day hadn’t been wall-to-wall sunshine!)

Good program of events, but one we only just managed to squeeze in before curfew, and then only by cutting the last race short — they do like to get their money’s worth!

Posted at Cascades, where you can generally count on seeing some action, and sure enough we did get some exercise to warm us up. Rather unusually, most action was on the inside where we collected a Formula Ford in qualifying and a Super Mighty Mini in Race 7. Enjoyable chat with the Mini driver, who was with us for most of the race.

In the second Super Kart race, we collected a kart in the gravel, which was dealt with by lifting the machine bodily and carrying it clear. Those things are seriously mad — the fastest car of the day; imagine lapping the International circuit in around 1:37 (an average speed of just under 100mph) with your bum 3 inches off the tarmac, in a machine that can be lifted by four people!

(picture cribbed from

Another Season Begins

To Oulton Park last Saturday, for the first track meeting of the season (for me, that is — there was an MSVR event on the 17th, but I couldn’t make that one).

BARC March 2011

It was a BARC National Championship meeting featuring NW Sports Saloons, Citroen 2CV, Intersteps, Production Touring Cars, and two classes of Minis. The 2CV’s are fun for the first few laps, but tend to become a bit tedious once they get strung out a bit. Of the rest, there was good racing at some point in most of the races, so generally an enjoyable day.

No hands-on marshalling, though we came a bit close once or twice, and collected several undertray sections from a couple of the Intersteps.

Weather was excellent, given the time of year, so a good start to the season.

Lakes Break 2012

Enjoyed our usual Spring Break in the Lakes, despite less-than-ideal weather. Most of the time it was pretty grey and overcast, but at least we avoided rain until the Friday.

Grasmere lake

Weds 14 March

Off to a bad start when, after leaving home at 8:30 with the expectaion of a Little Chef breakfast in Middlewich, we arrived there to find it has closed down. Consequently had to settle for an underwhelming and over-priced fry-up at the Knutsford Motorway Services.

Pressed on to Windermere, where we had the obligatory browse round the Lakeland store, followed by nice coffee and cake in the restaurant upstairs. Wandered once round the town, where nothing much appears to have changed.

Being too early to go straight to the hotel, decided to make use of our newly resurrected National Trust membership, with a visit to Townend House. Very interesting place. Thence on up into the clouds, to the Kirkstone Inn for a pleasant pint by an open fire.

Down via The Struggle to Ambleside and so to Grasmere, where The Swan was a welcoming and pleasant as ever. I was sure I’d booked the Four Poster room, but we were given 27, another feature room, which seemed quite acceptable.

Strolled down to the village for a look round; no significant change that we noticed. Back to the hotel for a snooze.

Nice meal in the restaurant. For me: haggis neeps & tatties, followed by guine fowl, with lemon cheesecake to finish. For JL: fishcake, then mushroom ravioli, and autumn fruits mess.

Thurs 15th

Walked round the lake in the morning.

Drove to Keswick, taking the road round the west side of Thirlmere. Mooched around the town, having a look in George Fisher, of course. Very sad to find that Cornerwise whisky shop was having a closing down sale: learned from the guy in charge of the sell-off that Mary died of cancer 22nd December — end of an era (30 years, apparently).

Back to Grasmere for afternoon tea at the garden centre.

Another nice meal; restaurant quiet (service too slow, pudding wise).Both had the smoked haddock scotch egg starter, then chicken and ribeye steak, and both finished with the mess.

Friday 16th

Woke to find rain overnight and more in prospect, so abandoned plan to do a walk near Tarn Hows and instead made for Penrith. Weather not too bad by the time we got there, so were able to explore the town. Chief find was an interesting food shop:

James & John Graham, Family Grocers

And so finally back to Garstang, calling in on Sylvia in Kendal for a short visit.

Life’s little ups and downs

Just enjoyed a very pleasant evening  in Rusholme with the Boys from Barclays (now mostly ex-Barclays, it has to be said).

Couple or jars in The Albert and a nice curry in the Dar Bar. Then just when you’re thinking life is pretty good, it all goes pear-shaped.

Left the restaurant in plenty of time; reached the bus stop just as a bus arrived; hopped on the bus without looking too hard at the destination – well, they all go straight up Oxford Road, don’t they? well no, actually they don’t, this one turned left at RNCM, heading for Salford!

So I end up legging it the rest of the way to Picadilly and am just in time to see the 22:35 leaving platform 6.

That’s the last direct train for Crewe; so now I’m on the rail replacement bus service with an ETA of 01:55


Sunshine and Showers in Grizedale

Good day out at the Malcolm Wilson Rally on Saturday, marshalling Special Stage 4 (Grizedale North) in mixed conditions.

Approaching Hawkshead around 9.00, after an easy drive from Garstang in not much over an hour, it seemed a bit early to sign on, so hung around in the car park for a half hour or so, listening to the radio and to the sound of rain drumming on the car roof; at that point it looked as if we were in for a pretty damp day.

Made my way to the stage start for around 9.45 and after a brief wait was assigned to Junction 6 where I found a fellow Oulton marshal already in attendance. Looked like a pretty good position: fairly sharp right-hander in an open spot with good views of the approach. (Wish I’d remembered my camera!) First car was expected around noon, so we had the usual bit of hanging around; some chat with speccies as they began to arrive. Weather began to look a lot more hopeful as the morning wore on.

Zero car came through about 11.50 and the first group began ten minutes later; we were surprised to find it was not the top guys, but the third group, and it seems the running order for the three groups had been reversed. This was a good thing, IMHO, as it means the day gets more interesting as it goes on, but can’t help thinking the fast boys would prefer to have first go, before the surface gets chewed up!

Weather took a turn for the worse just after 1 o’clock, with heavy rain and a cold wind for a while, but eventually brightened up, so we had bright sunshine for best part of an hour later on.

Our only bit of marshal activity came about two thirds of the way through the second section, when a Mk II Escort pulled up with throttle problems. We got him off to the side until the next break and then pushed him back into the junction. Pushing cars is a lot easier on a circuit than a muddy forest track!!

A good day’s rallying was enjoyed, despite the nastier bits of weather. The final bit of interest came when driving out of the stage: we were held up while a recovery team dragged a Corsa back out the forest, where it had dropped off a steep slope after negotiating about 75° of a 90° corner.

Winter Visitor Returns

(Image courtesy RSPB website)


Though hardly a rarity, it’s always nice to see something a bit out-of-the-ordinary in your home location.

Once again, the all-too-seasonal weather has brought us a visit from the fieldfares. Sadly, not actually into the garden, but close enough to be identified (just) in this fuzzy photo.

[Olympus E410 + M42 adapter, Sunagor 400mm f/6.3, Prakticar 2x teleconverter]

La Palma 2012

Day 1 (Friday 20th January)
Good journey out (see previous post)

Day 2 (Saturday 21st)
Spent the day mostly by he pool. There was quite a bit of cloud about, mid-to-late morning, and we would come to learn that this was a recurring pattern; but when the sun was out, in a picture-postcard clear blue sky, it was nicely hot.
In the evening we had our first taste of the buffet meal catering. By and large, this was pretty acceptable — after all, you don’t expect cordon bleu, or even good-restaurant-standard, when you book an all-inclusive deal. (See final comments.)

Day 3 (Sunday 22nd)
Our first outing from the resort. As we might have anticipated, after the drive from the airport on Day One, the roads here provide some interesting driving, as well as some very good scenery and views: lots of bends, ups and downs, and mostly third gear; average speed probably not much above 50kph, maybe less.
Drove north on the LP-2 towards Los Llanos, then down to Tazacorte via LP-126; considered calling in at Puerto Naos, but abandoned the idea part-way — didn’t look as if it would be that interesting. Through Tazacorte and down to the Puerto, where we had a beer at a bar overlooking the black sand beach.
Back up to Los Llanos and, having fought our way through numerous unfriendly traffic lights, on through El Paso to La Caldera de Taburiente visitor centre.  After having a brief look round (and availing ourselves of the comfort facilities), we started to drive to La Cumbrecita, but were met by signs saying “closed”; back at the visitor centre, discovered you need to get a pass to go up there: booked for 1:30 next day.

Day 4 (Monday)
In the morning, had a look around Los Canarios for a half-hour or so. Then set out northward again for our visit to the Caldera
The drive up to La Cumbrecita  from the LP-3 proved our most interesting driving experience so far!
Short trek to  the mirador at Lomo de Las Chozas, enjoying some excellent views into the Caldera. Returned to the car by “the lower path”: a walk of some 2km, which went quite a lot “lower” and consequently involved a bit of stiff uphill gradient to return us to the elevation of the car park.

Day 5 (Tuesay)
Looked like a good day for our outing to Santa Cruz: cool and overcast, so not inspiring for pool-lounging. As it turned out, we didn’t find the town terribly exciting either.
Back home to find things here had improved — sunshine, 20 degrees: pool and beers.

Day 6 (Wednesday)
Short abortive spell by pool – sun disappeared behind a big black cloud within 15 minutes of our getting settled
To the south end, driving through what can only be described as man-made canyons of banana plantations: sadly, I neglected to take pictures! Emerged to drive through volcanic landscape that felt like a cross between a desert and a moonscape. Finally arrived at the  lighthouse(s) on the southern tip of the island: a new modern lighthouse has replaced the original, which has now become a marine reserve visitor centre. Nearby are some salt pans that are still in commercial use.
Continued round bottom end of the island and so back up to Los Canarios, with a short diversion to investigate the Volcan de Teneguia.
Returned to find the hotel still under cloud, so continued a little way northward on the coast road to small bar (sort of beach bar without a beach) where we enjoyed a beer.
Back to poolside for an hour or two at the end of the afternoon, now the cloud had finally gone.

Day 7 (Thursday)
Thought we’d be spending our last day hanging around the resort, but once again the weather did the dirty on us — beautiful start, with blue skies and sun after breakfast, but no sooner establishes ourselves by the pool than cloud began to appear. Stuck it out for half an hour and then decided to abandon the plan and go out instead.
Spent much of the next few hours in the car, but actually had a very good day. Headed north towards Los Llanos and were soon on the sunshine. Via Tazacorte and on up to mirador at El Time: quite spectacular, with good views up towards the Caldera on the way up. On up the LP-1 to Puntagorda: almond blossom much in evidence but perhaps past its best. Continued on, to pick up the LP-4 at Hoya Grande, and so up and up (and up …!) to the observatory at Roque de Los Muchachos: really spectacular location at 2,545 metres, way above the clouds. Completed the round trip via Santa Cruz, and so home for tea.

Day 8 (Friday)
Easy trip home, though rather a long flight due to headwinds. Enjoyed the quietness and generally pleasant experience of Santa Cruz airport (though we probably benefitted from being only the 2nd outbound flight of the day, out of season).
Meet-and-greet car parking service again spot-on at Manchester.
Home by about 7:30 via Sainsburys for a packet Chinese tea.

In Summary …
Another very pleasant vacation; we are indeed fortunate to be able to enjoy our various trips during our retirement.
The island of La Palma was definitely a good choice: interesting and often dramatic scenery; pleasant weather; quiet roads; and an excellent resort/hotel (if only they had built it in a location that was a little more cloud-free!)
Interesting to experience the All-Inclusive package. Would we do that again? — probably not as a matter of first choice; though if a particular holiday package offered it at a reasonable rate, we wouldn’t reject the idea.
The buffet restaurant catering was generally OK, and one or two items were very good — particularly liked the “barbecued pork” (I think they called it), which I believe was roast suckling pig. The main drawback was probably that the food was not always as hot as one would have liked, though it always seemed freshly cooked.
The “house wine” on-tap (literally) was inevitably pretty mediocre, but the local lager, also on-tap, was fine — and the “on-tap” aspect was certainly agreeable! Gin and tonics, whilst obviously a basic brand, were also acceptable. The brandy with which I finished the evening was (of course) Spanish, which is to me preferable to French, and very quaffable.

Pictures here in a Picasa Web Album

Exercise is good for you


A short trek in La Caldera de Taburiente reminded us of leg muscles we had forgotten we had.

But it prepared us nicely for another evening of All-Inclusive indulgence.


You know you’re on holiday when …

.. you’re drinking Jack Daniels at 9.00am, because they insist on doing the drinks trolley before the food trolley, even though it’s an early morning flight.

Anyhow – we’re on our way!

Arrived at MIA ahead of schedule, due to the fact I didn’t consider that would be driving, and not steady Brian the taxi man. Meet-and-greet car parking was super efficient, Fast Lane security likewise, so we were in the departure lounge just after 6 o’clock — could have had another hour in bed!


Hope the rest of the trip goes as well.