The Snail Trail

Musings about wanderings

Macro Photography

Over the lockdown period whenever I was able to get out and about, I was taking photos of the flowers that grew in the area around my house.

As an early Christmas present, I treated myself to a macro lens for my camera and here are a few of the results.

Pitlochry 10-12 JUN 2022

For my third trip away in the van this year, it was off up the A9 to Pitlochry and some hopefully good walking. The weather wasn’t looking promising but that’s not something to stop the camping. And so, it was on to my usual pitstop then off on the 90-minute trip to the campsite. For some reason, right off the sat nav decided to take me a strange route from the bypass onto the M8. I didn’t really need the sat nav as it was a fairly straight road, and I was making good time till the end of the M90 when I got stuck behind a Land Rover pulling a trailer with a cow in it and doing only 30mph on the motorway. Then there was the expected traffic jam at the roundabout where the M90 meets the A9.

The weather so far had been bright sunshine, but it was clouding over and as I passed Birnam, there was a bit of a downpour. Pitlochry itself was dry and I was pitched up just after lunch, the new way of putting up the awning was paying dividends in less hassle.

The afternoon was on and off rain, so a visit to the dam’s visitor centre seemed ideal. It was quite small and seemed to focus more on the conservation efforts of SSE, the dam’s operators, than the operation of the dam itself. It did have a viewing platform that was pretty good for looking out over the river.

Just before dinner there was the amazing sight of two RAF Eurofighters at a very low level passing over the campsite. The noise was deafening.

The rain was heavier in the evening, so I settled down for some TV and reading. My new mini projector is working well as a way to watch TV in the van, the blinds being semi-silvered make a good screen. This weekend it was a bit of Rizzoli and Isles, a favorite cop show. 

Saturday morning was bright with blue skies and looking not too bad for the planned walk. Overlooking Pitlochry is Ben Vrackie which is a popular walk from the town. The weather was not forecast to hold so I made sure I set off with the waterproofs in the backpack.

The first part of the ascent was up to Moulin and on pavement but from there it was onto a well-made path through some woods with wooden bridges added sympathetically to the route.

From the woods it was on to the moorland at the foot of the Ben and here the path was suffering from heavy rain eroding it badly. At one point it was almost like walking a ridge down the middle of the path. Part way across the moorland, the heavens opened, and I had to quickly pull on the waterproofs.

Over the moorland wasn’t too much of a climb and indeed was flat till Loch a’ Choire where the real climb started. It was a well-made path again, more like a staircase leading up the hill. As I climbed, it was getting windier and the summit was clearly being obscured by clouds. Coming up over the edge of the summit, the wind was very strong but was blowing the clouds across so there were moment where the view was impressive.

I didn’t tarry at the top as it was windy enough that I was getting blown about it a bit. So down the hill I went, the weather had improved a bit by now and there were more people heading of the top in more summer clothing. As I reached the woods again, I climbed out of the waterproofs and enjoyed the sun as it came through the trees.

Back at Moulin, there were signs for a ruined castle, Caisteal Dubh Mhaothlinne. This was a 14th century castle that was burned about 1512 due to fear of the plague. Since I was on my way down and had all day, I headed across the field to see the ruin. There wasn’t much left but made an interesting diversion.

From the castle, it was back to the campsite and into a hot shower. The afternoon was spent catching up on some reading and watching the bands of weather roll over the campsite. The evening brought more tv to be watched and fingers crossed that the awning would stay dry.

Sadly, Sunday morning proved that to be a forlorn hope and the awning was soaking wet as I got up and had breakfast. Packing away was quickly done and then it was onto the road home. It was early on Sunday morning, the roads were clear, and it was a quick journey home. There looked to be a classic car convention happening somewhere near Perth as there were quite a few such cars on the M90 heading north.

This trip to Pitlochry was slightly better than the last one where the pitch flooded due to the rain. Weather in that part of the world is a bit hit and miss but with warm and waterproof clothing it doesn’t really matter. What I do need to do now is find a good way of drying the awning. Time for a trip to the DIY store to see if I can come up with a good solution.

Barnard Castle Caravan Club Site 20-22MAY22

Time for the second trip of the year and I was heading a bit further away. Thus, it was up early and on the road by 8am and after the usual supply stop, it was onto the A1 and heading south to Northumberland and Barnard Castle.
Doing some research for this trip, I found out about Locomotion, a sister museum to the National Railway Museum. Locomotion was not far from the campsite at Barnard Castle, so the plan was to stop on the way down and take a look.
The journey down the A1 had a few moments. A burning lorry by the side of the road just south of Alnwick and a crawl through Newcastle, but after 3 hours or so, I was pulling into Shildon.
Locomotion is pretty much a big train shed where they keep some of the larger stuff that can’t be exhibited at York. With the trains the star of the show, there was some pretty cool stuff to see. There was a Deltic, a prototype APT-E, the prototype HST and a loco claiming to be the fastest diesel train in the world.

I wandered around for an hour or so and after exiting via the gift shop, I was in the van and having a spot of lunch as the rain came on. This was to the be only rain in the trip and it was off again after 20mins.
Shildon to Barnard Castle was only about 1/2 an hour but the disadvantage of the way I’d come was that I had to go through Barnard Castle itself. It was pretty busy and there was a sharp turn onto a narrow bridge that the caravan in front of me struggled a bit with.
The campsite was just outside of town and after arriving I was pitched up in no time. I finally found a way of putting the awning up that doesn’t involve me cursing the invention of them. The site was very windy with trees growing at an angle in the wind. More guy-lines than usual were put out for the awning to make sure it was still there in the morning.
For evening entertainment I’d bought myself a new toy. A small projector that I can watch TV on. It worked well with an ok picture. It did seem to struggle a bit with the larger files so individual episodes are the way to go, I think.
I slept well on the Friday evening but was up early and showered and ready for a day’s sightseeing in Barnard Castle. First port of call was the Bowes Museum. Plenty of pictures, ceramics, and furniture to see all set in a fantastic building. Some more unusual exhibits as well with metal work and the highlight of the museum, the 18th century animatronic Silver Swan.

Bowes Museum
Bowes Museum
Silver Swan
Silver Swan

This wasn’t working at the time but I’m sure I’ve seen it somewhere else when it was in operation. Given its age and the fact it wasn’t used during lockdown, the Swan is needing some deep conservation work.
From the Bowes Museum it was onto Barnard Castle, an English Heritage property that gives the town its name. The castle sits in a commanding position overlooking the river Tees crossing. It was a fairly standard ruin, but like all such places, it had a long story to tell.

Barnard Castle
Barnard Castle
Barnard Castle
Barnard Castle

From the castle it was time to get some shopping. I had screwed up the temperature selection in the fridge so was a bit concerned that the chicken I had bought for that night’s dinner was not in the best of condition. So, from a local butcher, I bought the most enormous slab of chicken breast.
That made a satisfying dinner and then some more TV watching with Dr Who’s the Ambassadors of Death on the playlist.
Sunday morning was bit overcast, but the awning was dry and I managed to get it down and packed up without too much trouble. Then it was on the road early taking a different route home. The longer but apparently quicker route was to head along the A66 to Penrith then onto the M6/A74(M). As soon as I got onto the A66 the sky darkened and the rain started and continued all the way home. However, it was a simple and quick journey home.
All in all, a great place to visit. Locomotion was great and have plans to expand and the Bowes Museum was fascinating. Somewhere to go back to in a few years when Locomotion has expanded, and the Silver Swan is back in operation.

Forfar – Lochside Caravan Club Site 15-17APR22

The weather was looking promising for the first trip away of 2022, a weekend jaunt up to the Caravan and Motorhome Club site at Forfar. With the van loaded, at about 11am I set off for my usual pitstop at Sainsburys for supplies and hit the road north. And almost immediately, ran in to traffic. The city bypass was clogged up and for no reason that was discernable. The traffic crawled along and then sped up. No accident or breakdown to be seen.

The was to be something of a pattern for the journey. Onto the M90 it was more and very heavy traffic at the Queensferry crossing and again, no reason for it other than it would seem most of the country heading north for Easter. There was more traffic at Dundee and overall, the trip was a bit slow. But that’s one of the things that camping does to you, it forces you to slow down and live life at a pace you can’t force. I wasn’t too unhappy as the playlist on the stereo was keeping me entertained.

Forfar Lochside Caravan Club Site
Forfar Lochside Caravan Club Site

The site was just outside Forfar center and was small but well kept, the wardens doing a great job keeping the grass cut and the shower block clean. I laid claim to my pitch then drove round to the service point to fill up with water. And hit a problem. The position of the taps meant that my water hose didn’t stretch. After some too-ing and fro-ing, I ended up parking the van across the service point and filling up. Next time I think I’ll fill up before I go.

Back to the pitch and the sun was coming out though still a bit chilly. It having been almost 6 months since the last camping trip, I’d forgotten all the tricks to putting the awning up and had a bit of a struggle. But up it went, and it was time for a wander.

There was a Tesco nearby and more supplies were obtained including a bag of Walkers Salt ‘n’ Shake crisps that seem to have been missing from the shelves for a year or so. Back at the van I put some music on, and it was time to get down to some serious reading. I always try to limit the amount of technology I take with me. Camping is a time to turn off from the electronic world and thus all I had with me was my phone and a Bluetooth speaker. That means plenty of time to read.

After dinner it started to get a little chilly and there was a dampness in the air that threatened rain. The van has an excellent diesel heater that seems to have been designed for the Arctic. Turn it up to more than 4 and you bake. There is also a timer function and, anticipating a cold morning, I set it to come on for waking.

I slept ok on Friday night and woke early with the birds. Before the heater came on so there was time to lie under the covers and listen to the world starting to wake up. Then into the showers ( very hot and clean as per Caravan Club standards ) and off for a walk. As its name suggests, the site is next to Forfar loch and the path round is about 5Km. And the first thing I met on the path was a Parkrun coming the other way.  I should have brought my running gear but didn’t. The loch is quite picturesque though the sky was overcast and a bit misty on Saturday morning. There was a club of model boat enthusiasts sailing from one of the spits of land that project into the loch.

Forfar Loch
Forfar Loch
Forfar Loch
Forfar Loch

Part way round, there was a detour to pick up some coffee from a nearby Starbucks. This was fairly expensive coffee as it was part of the A90 services. Some expensive diesel as well at 179.9p, I was glad I had filled up before heading to Forfar.

Finishing the loop of the loch and the coffee, there was time for more relaxing. And a nap. With nothing to do and no way to do the things that normally pass the time, there is ample practice at the art of doing nothing when camping.

With the awning still dry at this point, I took it down to save it getting wet. I have limited drying space at the moment and wet awnings are a pain.

The weather being good, I got out the grill and cooked a steak for dinner. It seemed like most of the rest of the site was cooking outdoors as well and some mouthwatering smells wafted my way as I eat.  

There was time to visit the loch again as the sun was going down and it was looking very nice.

Forfar Loch
Forfar Loch

I slept poorly that night with, for some reason, all the seagulls in the area deciding to start making noise at 3am. I woke not really having got a good night’s sleep. Sunday was much the same weather wise and after breakfast, I broke camp, hit the service point to drain down the tanks and then off onto the A90 south and home.

All in all, an enjoyable first weekend away. Hopefully as Covid retreats, more travelling will be possible. Plans for more trips have been made. Watch this space.

That was the year that was 2021

So, another year under Covid has passed and it seems we’re no further forward now that on the 31st of December last year. I really hoped that the arrival of vaccines would have made the difference and indeed during the summer it seemed like things were getting better. Even well into autumn, while the numbers in Scotland were higher than we’d have liked, they were not unsustainable. But then Omicron arrived and we’re right back to where we started. The only saving grace is that there seem to be fewer hospitalizations.

But to look back on the positives, I did get away camping three times during the year. The first trip was to Jedburgh. This was slightly disappointing as the main point of the trip was to see the abbey, but this was mostly shut due to the possibility of falling masonry. Also, as we were just coming out of lockdown, the other tourist attractions were shut. So, it was just a trip away to get some reading done.

Next up was a trip to one of my favorite places, Blair Athol. A lovely site and a good base for sightseeing round the area. The weather wasn’t great with several downpours, but I did get one day with sunshine and walked out to see the Falls of Bruar. Absolutely fabulous. I also got to the House of Bruar. I didn’t tarry as it was packed, and I was still concerned about being in enclosed spaces with lots of people.

Last trip was to Pitlochry. Again, something of a soggy weekend with the pitch getting flooded at a couple of points. But once more the weather cleared up briefly for a nice walk that took me to the site of the battle of Killiecrankie and soldier’s leap.

Check out the longer posts on the trips including the photos that were taken.

All that remains is to think of what 2022 will bring. The honest answer is I don’t know and right now I don’t believe that anyone can make any predictions with any kind of certainty. If there is one thing that Covid has taught it is that future is unknowable and that all we can do is live each moment in the moment, taking every opportunity to do the things we love because it could easily be that last opportunity.

Take care one and all and have a happy new year. We shall see what 2022 brings.    

Dangerous Liaisons by Northern Ballet

Cinema Flyer
Cinema Flyer

I took my first trip to the cinema in quite a while last night to see Northern Ballet do their production of Dangerous Liaisons. This was the same setting and story as the 1988 film starring Glen Close and John Malkovich.

I don’t actually think that the showing was live ( more on that in a bit ) but it was broadcast to a large number of cinemas across the country at the same time. So, it was very much a shared event.

This was the first time I’d been to one of these live cinema screenings, I was at the Vue Omni in the unusual screen of number 12. One of the smaller ones which was just as well as there were only about 7 people in the showing in total. Probably people are still a little cautious about going back to cinema, theatre etc.

The action takes place in pre-revolutionary France and represents the intrigue and game playing that the idle rich engaged in. The story is the same as the movie and the plot can be seen here but basically the Marquise de Merteuil attempts revenge on a former lover by having his bride to be seduced and “ruined”. Meanwhile the Vicomte de Valmont has a bet on with the Marquise that he can seduce Madame de Tourvel. This he does but at the expense of falling in love with her. All the game playing comes out and the Marquise is socially outcast for what she has done.

The staging of the ballet was very sparse with just three items of furniture on stage. All the action takes place on the same set. The costume and makeup were very well done however, in particular Abigail Prudames’ Marquise looked cruel as the role requires.

The movement was stunning with every intricacy of the story captured in the dance. Some of it was pretty raw with a sexual assault scene ( in the movie as well ), the showing had a BBFC certificate of 15 for that reason. The camera was in amongst the action at times allowing close-up of the dancers. This is what makes me think that it wasn’t a live showing.

In short, it was a fantastic evening out, virtually at the theatre. Only complaint was that the sound in the cinema was way too loud. That, however, seems to be a feature of the big multiplexes these days with the sound turned up to 11.

I’m going to look for it on DVD but if I get a chance to see it again, I will and I would thoroughly recommend it.

Pitlochry 8-11AUG21

Another trip away in the van and again the weather was not looking promising. But, as they say in Scotland, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing. And anyway, its character building so I’m told.

And thus, it was Sunday, and I was off again up the A9 to Pitlochry. I’ve been once in the past and some research this time showed there are plenty of good walking paths round the town. The journey north was ok, but I was passing through bands of heavy rain which didn’t bode well. But I got to the site and got pitched up in record time as the clouds were closing in.

And then it started raining.

Torrential rain started falling. The noise inside the van from the rain hitting the roof and the awning was incredible. I was trying to listen to music but failing with speaker unable to be heard over the racket.

As the rain continued to fall, it became apparent that the pitch was beginning to flood. The van is high enough off the ground that it wasn’t going to get any water in it, but the awning was sitting in water as was anything in the awning. And the electric cable was under a few centimetres of water. All in all, Sunday was a bit of a write off as there was nothing to do but watch the rain.

Monday dawned a lot brighter with blue skies and the sun warming the ground. The flooding from yesterday had gone and the pitch was looking dry. So, taking a chance that this would continue, I headed out on my walk.

The plan was to walk up to Killiecrankie to see Soldier’s leap. I headed out early and the light was fantastic with Loch Faskally looking very nice in the low light. There were also views over to the hills that were wreathed in mist.

Loch Faskally
Loch Faskally

The walk then took me through the woods, past Clunie power station and over Coronation Bridge. The sun was well out and yesterday’s rain was forgotten as I strode out over the paths.

The entrance to Clunie Power Station

One interesting diversion on the walk was round about Tenandry where I met a guy trying to winch an old car down the slope into a layby. I gave him a hand by doing the steering and we chatted for a few minutes about the restoration of the vehicle he was undertaking.

A couple of hours walking, and I was at Killiecrankie. Crossing the railway and the river I found the visitor centre. It was more of a café with some information about the battle of Killiecrankie but there was time for a sit down and some food in the sun. From there it was on to see the Soldier’s Leap. This is the location where, during the Battle of Killiecrankie, a government soldier leapt over 5m over the river to escape Jacobite pursuers. It looked like he jumped from the higher bank to a lower one so maybe not quite as impressive a straight long jump, but I wouldn’t like to try it as the landing zone was not flat.

Soldier’s Leap

From Killiecrankie, I took a more direct path home down the side of the river. The shade of the woods that I was walking through made the walk back to the van a very pleasant one.

I got back to the van just after lunchtime and a decision was made to break out the grill and cook the steak that I had then rather than risk waiting for teatime and the possibility to rain. This was the third time I’d used the grill and managed to cook the food without cremating it.

Monday had been a good day with blue skies, bright sunshine and almost no rain. Tuesday’s forecast was not so good. But in the morning, I got up late and after much dawdling, I went out to visit the dam and Pitlochry itself.

With all the rain we’ve been getting, it has been good weather for hydroelectricity. The dam was in full generating mode and there was the sight of a huge flow of water from the turbines.

Pitlochry Dam

Sadly, the visitor centre was shut but they had kept the shop open, again no fridge magnets but a nice bookmark was picked up, and the centre has a good view over the dam itself.

Pitlochry Dam

From there was it was down through the town to see what there was and it was the usual collection of gift and outdoor shops that you see in places like this. The rain was threatening at this point so back to the van and lunch.

And the heavens opened again.

More torrential rain and again the pitch began to flood. I’d dried most of what was in the awning out and moved it into the van, so it wasn’t so bad but again it was torrential. The afternoon was spent reading and watching the rain. I was glad I’d gone walking on the Monday, getting caught out in what was now falling would not have been fun. It was even less fun for one of the caravans down the row which had a roll out awning. This seemed to have collapsed under the weight of the water falling.

Wednesday was time to pack up and go home and as might be imagined, the awning was soaking wet. Mercifully, the flooding of the pitch had gone so it was a quick pack up and then on the road south.

I survived what was a very wet few days away and got some good walking in. On balance it was a good trip but next time, I think I’ll try and do it in the better weather. There are some hills to climb roundabout but the tracks can been boggy so best to wait for sun.

Nomadland 17JUL21

Nomadland on Blu-ray

Weekend watching last Saturday was Nomadland, a film based on the non-fiction book of the same name. This film follows Fern, played by Francis McDormand who takes to living in a van after her hometown is emptied out when the only employer shuts down. Although the central characters are played by actors, many of the other people appearing in the film are real life nomads from the non-fiction book playing slightly fictionalised versions of themselves.

The film depicts Fern’s first full year on the road, starting as a seasonal temp at Amazon for the Christmas rush. She then goes to the annual rendezvous of the nomads in the desert. Here she, and through her we, learn more about the way of life. She works then as a camp host, in a fast-food restaurant and at a seasonal harvest of sugar beets. The film goes full circle and ends with her back at Amazon.

The film doesn’t shy away from showing the hardships of life on the road and as a first timer, we see her make some potentially fatal mistakes such as a flat tyre in the middle of the desert with no spare. But the film also goes into the freedom of life on the road with Fern visiting many beautiful locations. There are friends made and lost and we see a camaraderie amongst the nomads. The visual sense of the movie is breathtaking with the director of photography doing a stunning job capturing the beauty and desolation of the landscapes in equal measure.

Fern herself seems to be a very insular person. She stays behind at several locations after the main group has left and while there is a romantic subplot, it is very much two older people dancing around each other. She seems to have taken to the nomadic lifestyle and when offered a permanent home, refuses twice, and moves back into her van.

The film is a profoundly moving one. It is an exploration of a lifestyle very different to the one that most people live, and it shows these people as the inheritors of the pioneers that made the USA. It also provides gentle but damming commentary on the modern capitalist era that folk in the twilight of their lives are forced onto the road and have to do backbreaking work. Many enjoy it but quite a few were forced into it with no other choice.

The most profound moment is at the end, it is in the trailer so no spoilers here, where Bob, leader of the nomad rendezvous says, “There is never a final goodbye, always that I’ll see you down the road”.

Blair Athol 4-7 JUL 21

It was time for a summer holiday and so it was off to one of my favourite places in Scoltand, Blair Atholl. The Blair Castle Caravan Park to be precise. To be honest I wasn’t looking forward that much to this trip as the Met Office were not promising good weather but nevertheless it was good to get away.

After the usual pit stop for food, the road was a straight one up the M90 and onto the A9. There were some road works just past Perth where they are dualling the A9 and that was a 40mph crawl in heavy traffic but at least at that point, the sun was out, and I had some good tunes blasting on the radio.

The trip up had a bit of a detour in it as I was wanting to visit the House of Bruar. I’ve heard about the place many times, including a hilarious monologue from Susan Calman, so this was an opportune moment to visit. Problem was that this being a sunny Sunday, most of central Scotland had also taken the opportunity to visit. The place was rammed, and I had to wait for some time for a parking space. This wasn’t helped by someone deciding to take a large twin axle caravan into the place and then nearly jack-knifing it trying to get it out. I got parked but didn’t tarry long there as with Covid still doing the rounds, it wasn’t good to be in such a crowded place. I did pick up some down slippers though which will be nice when the weather turns even more inclement.

It was a short trip from there to the campsite and they were doing contactless check-in with my details waiting for me outside reception. Got to my pitch and in about 30mins was set up, awning included. The sun was still really shining at this point, and I had to sit in the shade of the awning to avoid burning. But with the weather so good dinner was some steak grilled on my gas grill which was very nice. I managed to cook it without cremating it.

Monday dawned dull and overcast. I just made it to the showers and back before the rain came on. And started coming down in buckets. It basically did not stop for the whole of Monday and at times was torrential. There was a steady stream ( no pun intended ) of people arriving on Monday including a fair few tent campers who must have been soaked trying to get pitched. There was nothing to do but read for most of the day and play asteroids on a Nintendo. I’d brought three books with me. The first is “The Origins of Totalitarianism” by Hannah Arendt. I’d been reading this for a while and it is a fascinating, if somewhat terrifying, book. But a bit of a slog. Next up was “The Walker: On Finding and Losing Yourself in the Modern City” by Matthew Beaumont. This is a fascinating book where he’s looking at the depictions of walkers and their city haunts in literature. Last was “The Cut” by Christopher Brookmyre. I love his books, have since the very first and this one, while a slow start, had become a page turner and I finished it while on holiday. I was not disappointed by the twist at the end, kept me guessing the whole way through.

With Monday given over to reading, Tuesday was promising to be a better day and the forecast was right with the morning dawning overcast but dry. I pulled on the hiking boots and hit the Glen Banvie trail from the campsite. This was a 9-mile circuit, but I was planning a detour to see the Falls of Bruar.

From Old Bridge of Tilt, the trail climbs up by a gorge through some woods to a folly known as The Whim. This is a strange set of arches that overlook the castle. Plenty of time was taken to get some photos from the spot.

The Whim
The Whim
Blair Castle
Blair Castle
Blair Castle from The Whim
Blair Castle from The Whim

From The Whim, the trail climbs up on to some moorland and here, while a little muddy, the going was good, and I was striding out along the track watching as the weather continued to improve.

From the moor, it was down through some forest and onto the detour to see the falls. There wasn’t much to see from the viewpoint itself, it being quite densely wooded but a little further along, there was the most fabulous bridge over the falls themselves and I was able to spend an enjoyable few moments looking down the falls.

Falls of Bruar
Falls of Bruar
Bridge over the Falls of Bruar
Bridge over the Falls of Bruar
Falls of Bruar
Falls of Bruar

From the falls, it was back onto the path and by now the sun was well out and it was t-shirt weather. Up till now I had had the place to myself but as I got closer to the campsite, there were more people out and enjoying the sun.

The Met Office had not promised that the good weather would last and right on cue about 2pm the rain started, not as bad as yesterday but it rained till early evening. I was expecting it and had my feet up in the van and was getting stuck in again to the books.

Wednesday started dry but as packing up began, it was obvious that the awning was soaking wet, and the roof canvas had some water beads on it. Still packing up was achieved in only slightly more time that pitching up and at 8am, it was time to start up, turn left out the site and hit the A9 for the road south and back home.

As mentioned at the top, for some reason, probably the weather, I wasn’t looking forward to this. However, I went, and it was a decent time away. Got some walking done and a few really good photos. Here’s looking forward to the next trip.

Jedburgh Camping and Caravanning Club Site 18-20JUN21

For the first time since lockdown began, it was time to head out in the van. As is my usual practise, I picked a site relatively close to home for the first trip and so it was on a reasonably sunny Friday morning, I set out to go down the A68 to Jedburgh.

First port of call was Sainsburys for some food and since this was the first trip in a long time, other supplies for the van. The supermarket was very busy for a Friday morning, I thought they might be giving the stuff away.

Stocked up, it was time to head off and straight into a traffic jam at Sherriffhall roundabout. Clearing the traffic, I was onto the A68 and the straight road to Jedburgh. First thing I did notice is that several of the towns passed through along the way are now 20mph zones, so part of the journey was a crawl. And there was the inevitable farm traffic to get round. This wasn’t much of a hinderance, and I was soon crossing the bridge into the site.

Jedburgh Camping and Caravanning Club Site

Check in was different from usual in that I stayed in the van and was directed to my pitch, via the motorhome service point. Parked up it was time to pitch up and this involves putting up the awning. There is something about putting up an awning that I really don’t like. Every time I do it, I swear I am going to replace the thing with a toilet tent as that is all I really need. An awning is far too large for my needs. But then again it can be handy, especially in wet weather as a place to dry wet clothes. However, the rain brings its own problems.

Pitching up took about 45mins and then it was time to wander into town and pick up a few supplies that I missed before. Jedburgh is quite small, and the centre of town is about a 20min walk from the site along a lovely waterside walk.

I had planned to get some serious reading done on this trip so once back from town, it was time to settle down with a good book. I’m currently reading my way somewhat slowly through “The Origins Of Totalitarianism” by Hannah Arendt. Away from computers and TVs, the van is an ideal time to get reading done.

Teatime rolled around and it was time to try out the grill I had bought last year. A lovely steak was grilled, though somewhat charred and the dishes were done by boiling a kettle and washing in the van. This is less than ideal due to the space, but it can be done.

Since the weather was not too bad, I settled down that night to sleep in the upper bunk. This involves a bit of a climb but is more comfortable than the main bed downstairs.

Saturday dawned early. A group of crows is known as a murder of crows and murder was going to be done if they didn’t stop cawing at 4am. Still after a bit of a snooze it was time to get up and head into town for the main point of the visit, to see Jedburgh Abbey. I was there for it opening to discover that most of the site was shut. There is a danger of falling masonry in the abbey itself so only the grounds are accessible. A bit of photographing later it was time for another wander round the town.

Jedburgh Abbey
Jedburgh Abbey
Jedburgh Abbey Door
Jedburgh Abbey Door

The other big attraction in Jedburgh is Mary Queen of Scots House. This was shut completely due to Covid but there were some nice flowers in the gardens that were open.

Flowers in Mary Queen of Scots House
Flowers in Mary Queen of Scots House
Flowers in Mary Queen of Scots House
Flowers in Mary Queen of Scots House

Back to the van it was time for more reading and a bit of a nap. The rain had been on and off all day and unfortunately for the couple opposite me, it came on again at teatime just as they were trying to barbeque some sausages. There was then the classic British site of someone hunched over a BBQ with an umbrella trying to keep the food dry.

Sunday was another early one due to the crows and as it was time to head home, packing up was achieved in about 45mins though the awning was soaking wet. Home up the A68 avoiding the lunatics deciding the speed limit was not for them and then the inevitable trying to dry the awning and the mountain of washing.

Not a bad trip, pity the abbey was mostly shut but bodes well for getting out and about again.

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