Our New Additions


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Since I last put a blog post ut on this site, things have changed a bit for me. We settled back slowly into a routine having been living in the Motorhome for three months, we caught up with household stuff and friends, and began to plan our next trip away.

We co-marshalled an owners club rally, which was great fun, and spent time on the South Coast before moving onto Wales and catching up with my brother who was over from Canada. For the first time in ages, all four siblings were in one place at the same time, and a few photographs were taken!

While we were at Shoreham, we kept driving past the Dogs Trust home that is there, in our little two-seater Mazda, and saying to ourselves, shall we pop in and have a look? Each time telling ourselves that our lifestyle so didn’t suit dogs and that we planned to do much more travelling.

Once back home we drew up a list of all the places we wanted to see in the world, and thought about how we  could do it. We threw our ideas at a travel agent specialising in long haul and round the world trips and we got an itinery back and a cost. Gulp. Six months away, a lot of travelling and an awful lot of countries.

Talking to our sons, one said we could only do it if we took him with us, the other said he would miss us and he didn’t really want us to do it. Why not get a dog instead?

I said that as much as I would love to have a dog, I wasn’t going to make the decision about it, that was down to OH.

Fast forward a few months, and we now have two dogs! Not one – TWO! How did that happen?

Both puppies booked into puppy school and a whole new way of life for all of us.

I suspect this blog may turn into the adventures of Tinca (the Cavalier) and Lucky (the rescue) as in the short while we have had them our lives have been turned upside down (in a good way) as they meet things and people and go to places for the first time. Their different characters make for interesting reactions and it is great fun to help them learn about their new lives.

Tinca is now 16 weeks old (4 months) and Lucky is approx 24 weeks (6 months) and both will travel with us in the Motorhome when we go abroad into Europe.


He is Not Missing, He is Here.


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I have just returned from an extended trip abroad. One of the things I wanted to do while in France was to visit WWI battle sites, and Memorials to try and get some sense of the scale of things.


I don’t know much about either War really. When I was at School it wasn’t part of the History I did. To a certain extent in the 60s and early 70s I guess it was still being worked on and history was being researched and written certainly for World War II. After all, when I was born in 1960 that War had only been over for 15 years, a blink really. Our elderly next door neighbour had lost her love in WWI and been a spinster all her life. A whole generation of men wiped out. I have picked up bits and pieces from the TV, from books, even from Remembrance Day programming.

I don’t know if any of my relatives were lost in either War to my shame. I ought to rectify that.

The Cemetaries bear the bodies that were found,  the Memorials bear the names of the missing, as Field Marshall Lord Plumer said at the inauguration of the Menin Gate Memorial – “He is not missing, he is here”. It is soul destroying, numbing, all this, yet it is important. Everywhere I looked I could see Poppies, and Cornflowers (the French symbol of memory and solidarity for veterans and victims of war) and it seemed as if they represented the souls of those soldiers who fought and died. I have extracted some relevant information and thoughts from my letters home to friends, on WWI for this blog post as tomorrow is the Centennial Commemoration of the start of The Battle of The Somme.


Arriving in Albert, the first thing you can see is the Basilica, and flags of all the Allies hanging from the buildings, here we found somewhere to park the MH in a side street and walked back to the Musee of the Somme, paid our 6.50 ea to get in and we watch the video (in English and 3D)  which gave an idea of what could be seen in the surrounding area.  The Museum itself is underground, and weaves under the Basilica. It was an air raid shelter, as Albert was pretty much flattened in the war.  The Museum gave a good indication of what life was like for soldiers both above and underground.  There was also a section of tunnel which endeavoured to give an idea of the noise of being in a trench while a bombardment was going on. No wonder so many suffered from shell shock.
We surfaced again on the other side of the Basilica and across the road!
The Basilica was built originally in the late 1800’s, but was pretty much destroyed by the Battle of the Somme. The Golden statue of an Angel was leaning horribly for pretty much two years, and legend had it that if it fell the war would end. The Angel fell in April 2018.  The Basilica was rebuilt by the son of the original architect to his father’s plans, and it is spectacular.


Lochnagar Crater. The photographs cannot convey the scale of this mine crater. It is huge.  91m across and 21m deep it is a relic of the series of explosions which happened on July 1st 1916 at 7.28am and marked the start of the Battle of the Somme by the British. The crater and surrounding land was purchased by a British man, to preserve and encourage remembrance. Have a look here www.lochnagarcrater.org for more information.


From there we moved on past a couple of Cemetaries at Poziers and towards Thiepval, they told us at the Museum that this could be seen for miles around, and they weren’t wrong! It is huge. It is the memorial to the 72205 missing British and South African soldiers who fell between July 1915 and March 1918 and who have no known grave. Their names are inscribed on the 16 pillars making up the base of the monument under the names of the Battles in which they fell. I found an E.A. Farrow, no idea if he is a relative, but I was shocked to see the name there.  The visitor centre has a very good time line display which helped put things into some kind of order for me.  The Memorial was very busy with parties of students, French military cadets, and Battlefield Tours. They were getting ready for the commemorations for the 1st July, and the vigil on the 29th June, so lots of workmen around, yet it still seemed peaceful. The views were astounding, across the war fields in which these men had died.
Moving on from here, we went to Longueval, and to the New Zealand cemetary, we saw two or three different Cemetaries, they have such odd names, Thistle Down Cemetary is off the main road, appears beautifully maintained, and yet there is an unmade road to access it. We didn’t try to take the MH down it, we stopped at the bigger Caterpillar Valley instead.
Everywhere you look it seems that there are war graves in a little square, or a memorial which if you blink you may miss it. For me, I wonder if these men really are at rest, at peace, do they resent the intrusion of tourists or are they pleased that we remember? The bigger Cemetaries have many visitors, I feel sad for the little ones, the tucked away ones, those who never get visitors, are they any less forgotten or more remembered?

We wanted to go back to find the Memorials for the Welsh at Mametz and also the Newfoundlanders at Beaumont-Hamel. When you put this type of place into the Sat Nag you certainly see more of the countryside. We passed through agricultural land which was sodden. It took very little imagination to realise what conditions must have been like during the battles.
The Memorial at Mametz is tucked away, and although signed, you would have to be looking for it to find it. A Welsh Dragon, with barbed wire in its claws, it’s tail pointing in the direction in which the Soldiers had come over the hill and its face pointing towards the woods they were aiming to clear. They were canon fodder. Over 4000 men were lost, including 600 killed and 600 missing. I have tried to show the height of the hill they would have come down towards the woods, and also the distance to the woods, where the Germans were waiting for them.

We moved on from there to the Canadian Memorial, or more precisely the Newfoundlanders Memorial. The battlefield has been preserved and you are able to get an idea of the scale, the trenches and the ferocity of the battle at Hawthorn Ridge. We were greeted by two young Canadians one of whom offered us a guided tour, but once we had accepted this, she was told that it wasn’t possible, because she would miss lunch and they had school parties coming in! So we took the self guided leaflet and wandered off. Funnily enough, she lived not far from my brother in Canada!


On the way to Saarburg we see a French WW1 cemetery and we stop, I learned that until 1915 soldiers who died were buried together, and Officers had individual graves. This changed after a law was passed.
Further on and we see an enormous WW1 French Cemetery at Saarburg and again we stop.
This time, my flabber is gasted. This is a Cemetery (the only one in France) for all the WW1 French Prisoners of War who died of disease or wounds and who were repatriated after the war 13,389 of them. There are so, so many graves.

We arrived in Verdun to find a town that is holding a massive MH show, and seems to have closed off most of its town centre because of road works. Having tried to drive into the town centre to see what was there and perhaps stop for lunch, we ended up heading out of town, and seeing a sign for the Battlefields. No idea what’s there, let’s go see.

The Forest you drive through is pitted with holes full of water, and it seems everywhere you look there is a memorial of some sort. Andre Maginot had a huge one, there was the Lion of Soulleville, and little and big ones everywhere you looked.
We came across a very impressive memorial / museum which was well worth visiting, as it explained a lot of what we had seen already. The Battle for Verdun had rendered the landscape a mud scape, villages destroyed and off the face of the earth, and so the Government after the war declared it sacred land, and that a forest should be planted there. The trenches, tunnels, fortifications, shell holes were left as reminders, these were the holes we had seen on our way up.
The Museum had many artefacts, films, displays, all in English, French and German, and we could have stayed longer. We moved on though, and stopped at the Douennement Ossarie (spelling?), I took some photos, but we chose not to go in this time. A tour takes about an hour and we were very hot. The French also have a Memorial for the Muslims who fought and fell on their behalf from their Empire, and on the other side, is one to the Israelis.



The Week of The wedding

You may remember that my eldest son was getting married this year. I wrote about it here. So I thought I would update you on the wedding and the week of the run up, which was entirely uneventful as far as the bride and groom were concerned (so far as I know) but in our house? well, not quite so smoothly!

Monday, message from the bride – she has just passed her driving test first time! Clever girl.

Tuesday, a lovely day with future daughter in law getting our nails done and then out to lunch with bride and groom. All going well their end and no nerves.

My phone is going nuts with whatsapp notifications from my sister in law in France.

We are expecting Mr. Nige’s sister and her daughter on the Thursday before the wedding to fly in from France. Whatsapp messages requesting nail appointments and details of dress shops for teen daughter are flying around and appointment made for Saturday as daughter needs to go dress shopping. This then changes. Dress ordered online. Nail appointment changed from Saturday morning to Friday now shopping not required – phew.

Wednesday, my washing machine died. Timing or what? a simple request to Mr Nige to look for a new one online for delivery asap ended up as an hour long discussion on what machine I wanted and comparisons on costs etc. Just get a machine already!! Decision made, machine bought and due for delivery on Friday – between 2pm and 9pm – we are supposed to be at the venue then to assist bride and groom set up. Quick conversation with sister in law, and she will wait in for machine – result! While online a question about confetti – does the venue allow it? Phonecall to venue – yes biodegradeable only. Contact Groom – are they doing confetti for the guests? No. Mr online expert is put on the case, and assures me confetti will arrive on time.

Thursday, Sister in law and niece arrive from France. Niece does NOT like the dress. We all think it looks lovely. I go to get a shawl which will set it off lovely and break a nail.  Disaster!! Facebook message to my fabulous nail lady (at 9pm at night) who messages me straight back and  fits me in Friday afternoon. Which is fab, but mucks up all our plans to go to Leicester for 1pm and pick up Mr N’s Aunty from the railway station. Decision made to go in two cars, and I will follow on. I suddenly realise I haven’t bought a wedding card for the happy couple.

Friday, the weather today is glorious. I hope it holds for tomorrow. I shoot out to Asda to buy a card, and sister in law and niece nip into town to shop before going for nail appointment. I am stood in Asda looking at cards, and inexplicably burst into tears. Pull myself together, buy a card, and sob again at the till – that poor young man on the till really didn’t need to see that. I get out of the shop to find a message from my nail lady to say to come in sooner. I rang Mr N who was starting to get tetchy and that he wanted to leave at 12 to get to Leicester for 1. Got to nail lady and dissolved again. What was wrong with me? Nail repaired, back home, we both left a tad after 12 to get to  Leicester. Trying to navigate to somewhere you don’t know with a tetchy partner is not a recipe for calm.

Aunt collected (eventually) and we made our way to the hotel. It was lovely, a bit of a mix up at the desk where they thought Mr N was married to his Aunt, but all sorted out. Our room was fabulous. Bride and Groom arrived, and the rooms set up as they wanted. We stayed at the hotel that night and met up with other family and friends who were also stopping overnight.

The Wedding Day – was fabulous. The Bride was gorgeous, the Groom handsome, the Best Men did a wonderful job. The hotel staff commented that it was a very relaxed affair and indeed everyone seemed to get on very well. The disco in the evening kept everyone dancing from start to finish. The newly weds tell me that the day was everything they wanted and for that I am grateful. Their hard work and planning all came off.



How To Be Brave – A Book Review


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I was sent this book by the wonderful Karen at Orenda Books because she thought I might like it. She wasn’t wrong.

How To Be Brave

A debut novel and inspired by her own experiences this book made me cry, and not many do that! I cried for the Mum, the Daughter, and the Dad. I cried for the sailors, and I cried because while it was not a happy ending in the true sense of the word there came an acceptance, a growing and an understanding of how fleeting life and chance can be. How we kick ourselves for not recognising things that become blindingly obvious, how we question ourselves as parents, how we don’t always ask the questions of the older generations that perhaps we should and how far on into our lives and their lives the experiences we have shape our character and our attitudes.

It begins with Natalie (the Mother) in the kitchen dealing with her nine year old daughter Rose.  Rose loves her books and as the story unfolds all the signs and symptoms of what is to follow shout at you from the page if you know what they are.  When Rose collapses the parent in you is right there with Natalie in her panic.  Natalie doesn’t know. With her husband a serving soldier away on duty in Afghanistan she is on her own, or is she?

For days Natalie has been haunted by the smell of the sea, draughts in the house, and then the comforting stranger in the hospital who offers to blow out the candle which had been left  burning.

And so begins a beautifully crafted story of persuading a child who doesn’t want to be diabetic and a parent who has to let go enough eventually to ask for help from neighbours, the battles with school, the trials of being a lone service parent who has to balance the need to tell with the need to keep the absent parent from worrying, and finding a way through it all by telling another story. One of endurance, survival.

This book is engrossing on so many levels. I recognise the newly diabetic child and the anxious parent from my time in Scouting, I recognise the fear from my time as a parent. I can imagine the sailors story from my history researches and my own knowledge (and fear) of the sea.  The love of books and reading shared by mother and daughter is one I tried (and failed miserably) to pass on to my sons. Maybe if I had a book corner to snuggle into with fairylights I may have had more success. One to ponder when grandchildren come along perhaps.

As I said, this book made me cry. For the right reasons. A triumph of love and hope over adversity, of knowing that “ we don’t get less scared, we just find it easier to admit it when we have been as brave as we can.”

This was my book of the year in 2015.  I don’t think I read one which evoked more of an emotional reaction while reading it.

Published July 15 2015

ISBN: 9781910633199

Meeting the real Little Mermaid


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When I was a child, one of my favourite films was the Life of Hans Christian Anderson with Danny Kaye, as I grew up I knew that one of the things I wanted to see in real life was the statue of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen.


So, when friends suggested a trip to Copenhagen I was keen to go. We got the flights via Ryan Air ridiculously cheaply, we booked some overnight accommodation in the City Centre and ordered our Krone!

Our flight left London Luton  (how ridiculous, calling Luton Airport “London”) on time, and arrived in Copenhagen at about 10.30 local time.  We used the easy to use ticket machines and got the train into the Central Station, and found it not only ran to time, but that railway worker we asked was keen to assist us and make sure we were on the right train.

Our hotel we knew was only minutes from the station, and as we were stood on the corner orienting ourselves with our map, so we could find said hotel, we were asked by a Danish man if we needed any help, declining politely, we wandered off in the direction of the hotel.

On arrival at the hotel, well before the 3pm check in time, we were greeted courteously and our booking hiccup was sorted out quickly with complimentary tea and coffee while we waited.  Not only that, our rooms were upgraded, one was already free and we could dump our stuff now rather than wait until 3pm – bonus! We stayed at Urban House and I would heartily recommend them!

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We decided to use the Hop On Hop Off bus and again staff were very friendly, it was very close to the hotel, and reasonably priced. It not being peak season only two of the circuits were running, but not a problem. We used this trip to get our bearings and I got my first glimpse of the Little Mermaid. We decided to use this as well as Shank’s Pony (walking) to get around. There is some stunning architecture in Copenhagen, both old and new.

After a very long day, we chose to eat at the Hard Rock cafe (our friends are regulars) and we enjoyed a very happy ‘Happy Hour’ and a lovely meal. Be warned though, alcohol is expensive!

Next day we wanted to see the multicoloured houses, have a proper Danish Pastry and go to the Carlsberg visitor exhibit. We ticked all three things off, but we were disappointed with the Carlsberg visit. A lovely  chatty taxi driver said a good time to visit is in May when the gardens are in flower and the weather is warm. In the height of summer it can get very humid apparently.

Images from the trip can only give a flavour of what was a wonderful City Break, everyone we came across was friendly and welcoming, the City is easy to navigate, bikes are everywhere!

My one disappointment was that the Tivoli gardens weren’t open. They open in April. I guess I will just have to go back!

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