Call it Jam-uary!
Well somehow it’s almost the end of the month already and as much as we were hoping for a quiet yet productive start to the year, it has turned out to be a rather hectic one so we are renaming it jam-uary as we are trying to jam so much in!
It seems like ages ago now that we were in London celebrating New Year, a time of reflection and new beginnings. Louise had bought my parents and I surprise tickets to see Wicked at the theatre in London New Years Eve and we headed up to the capital city on the train early enough to have a spot of dinner at Bills restaurant first.
Bills is located in Cardinal Place, near Victoria station and is on the corner of an undercover shopping area. Large glass windows stretch from bottom to top and the ground floor and first floor seating can be seen from outside. The interior design is one that is light and elegant. The staff were fantastic and once they had asked if there were any food allergies at the table, and there was, our orders could then only be taken by the manager. This would ensure that the responsibility was placed firmly onto one person.
The menu was varied, with favourites such as their burgers (which were so tasty and filling) to pan fried seabass and steaks. They also cater for vegetarians, vegans and gluten frees in their menu and when we were speaking to the manager about the meals we wanted they could list the ingredients by memory to ensure there was nothing that would be an allergen to one of the table.
Fully stuffed, we made our way to the theatre and saw the show. Although we were right up in the gods, it didn’t spoil anything with great views and the sound quality ensured we didn’t miss a thing. We treated ourselves as it was new year to a couple of glasses of prosecco from the bar and enjoyed learning about the back story of the witches in The Wizzard of Oz.
After the show, we took a quick trip on the bus to see the festive Christmas lights before they get packed away again and then headed home before the city got too busy with people celebrating. I don’t particularly like crowds at the best of time but add in alcohol and trains and I get all kind of anxious so I wanted to get gone!
Jam-uary is relentless!
A few days in to Jam-uary we took the train back up to Yorkshire and have to say that the LNER service was fab. We had prebooked our seats in advance and got the fast train which gets us from Yorkshire to London in just over 2 hours with only 5 or 6 stops. It was quicker than driving and half the travel time. Plus we didn’t have to find parking in London for Chewy.
Louise had given me a present for Christmas that had blown me away. I had been given a flying lesson in a helicopter! Crazy I know!!! I can’t parallel park let alone fly a helicopter but WOW! What an experience it will be! It was booked in for the 11th January, a Saturday and we had also arranged to meet up with Georgina and Corrina from 2Born2Travel on the Sunday. Our Jam-uary diaries were filling up.
Between then, we were still working on the van refit. Every Sunday I would drive to my friends farm where he had the space and tools needed for the big jobs such as building the kitchen or putting up the tongue and groove ceiling. During the week Louise and I would be sewing the cushions for the seating areas or painting the insides ready to hit the road.
The weather was rotten on the Saturday morning and the helicopter flight had to be cancelled and re-booked. This is something that we will rearrange when the weather sorts itself out. Sunday morning was no better with the wind howling around the Yorkshire Moors.
2Born2Travel at Tan Hill
2Born2Travel had suggested that we meet up at Tan Hill, Britain’s highest pub. We hadn’t been and it was only an hour and a half from us so we jumped at the chance to spend the night in the van again and meet up for the first time with this pair of nutters!
We packed our van with the essentials that had been taken out during the rebuild. Loo roll, gas bottle, heater and cooker, duvet, blankets, food. We never pack light but we did manage to pack less than normal – and yes it was painful! We drove up the A66 towards Barnard castle and then branched off to the left, across the moors to find the pub.
As soon as you turn off of the main road, you find yourself quickly lost in a land of nothing. I mean nothing at all. Its just hills and streams and a road that seems to go to nowhere. The weather is harsh because it is bleak up there. Not a tree in sight, just low and stubborn gorse that seems to be surviving. The half structures of stone shepherd huts remain like scars on the land where the elements laughed at the attempt to build shelter there. You can quickly understand why so many people can get lost walking out here as there is nothing to use as a reference point.
Something shimmers in the distance. I say to Louise, “is that the pub?” although we are baffled as to why anyone would want to run a pub in the middle of nowhere – other than ‘Because they can’. The roads are recently tarmacked and we have seen 2 or 3 cars on the 5 miles from the A66 to the pub. As we arrive at the pub, we are gobsmacked. 1 because it is beautiful and 2 because even though they have a large car park and roadside parking too, there isn’t anywhere to park! It’s full!
Maybe its Sunday lunch, or maybe it is because the social media strategy run by the pub is fantastic. They are a really active pub with lots going on and it is always party time at Tan Hill! After about half an hour we managed to find a parking spot and check in with Georgina. They were ten minutes away and we excitedly looked for parking spaces for them for when they arrived. Luckily the car next to us pulled off so they managed to squeeze in by us.
We invited them into our van for a brew and also to try a Yorkshire tradition of fruitcake and Wensleydale cheese. Yes together. Strangely it works! Once we were warm and filled with Cheese and cake, we thought about going for a walk together with the dogs, Marley and Max – however the van was rocking like a see saw and the wind was picking up so we sat back down!
The pub is on the top of the hill and is not at all sheltered from the wind. Once the car park had got a little quieter and some of the guests had left after lunch we did manage to move our vans around the side of the pub for some shelter from the wind. Inside the pub, the fire was lit and the low beamed ceiling of the bar were decorated with strings of light bulbs ensuring a warm glow throughout. To the left of the bar was the room they would be showing Vera in later and to the right was another side room where we sat at a large table. We would have looked out of the window at the view but 2 travel bloggers had parked their campervans around the side because of the wind…. Oh yes, that was us!!!
The food at the pub is highly recommended. I will say that when Louise told me they did a sharing roast dinner platter I swore at her for suggesting anyone share their roast dinner, however on reflection it is incredible value and quality. For the price of £23.95 you can have a two course chicken sharing platter. A fresh whole chicken served with coleslaw, chips and pudding. For £29.95 you could have a two course roast of the day platter with steamed veg, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, cauliflower cheese, Yorkshire pudding and a dessert. (There was a choice of 2 out of 3 meats on offer.)
After the meal, the pub was showing the episode of Vera live as it was broadcast. The pub was featured in the episode and the film crews had all been up there filming in and around the pub a little while ago. Vera fancy dress was encouraged and the Tan Hill had issued Vera facemasks for the group photos being taken to celebrate. Later that night, after we had all sat around talking about travelling, blogs, dogs and wild adventures, we all tried to get some sleep in our respective vans.
It was all quite a wild adventure as the vans were rocking wildly in the gales that seemed to swirl around the pub and vans. The flag pole was taking a battering as was the flag flapping with such force it was whipping and cracking like a wild fire. Around 3am we gave up and made a cup of tea. We could see our breath it was so cold and the gas fire tried to set itself on fire before so we decided to not try that one again and just add layers! We were social media-ing from one van, George was social media-ing from her van and none of us had much sleep!
The following morning we all had breakfast as Louise cooked omelette in the Ridge Monkey and we woke up slowly. Georgina and Corrina are exactly like they are in their videos, funny, kind and down to earth. It was so nice to finally meet them and I am sure we will be planning another wild adventure soon with them.
They had to be getting on the road up to Scotland, and the wind was increasing still! Storm Brendon was on its way but hadn’t actually hit yet. Snow was threatened up on Tan Hill later that afternoon so we all decided to head off our separate ways and after some pratting about trying to film each other in our vans we said goodbye and headed home.
Along with going to London, almost flying a helicopter, building the van kitchen, painting the inside of the van, sewing the cushions, battling a storm, meeting Georgina and Corrina Jam-uary has been keeping us busy.
Galgos del Sol
As you may have heard already from our mass emails and social media posts, we are also trying to raise money to help the Galgos in Spain. This is really exciting and something we are desperate to do so looking at all avenues to make it happen. From spending hours emailing companies and radio stations to local vets/groomers/walkers and anyone who will stand still for 2 minutes, we have been trying to engage people with our GoFundMe appeal.
It is very short notice for us to be able to raise the funds needed and although we are giving approx. £14,000 in time, we need the money to feed ourselves and actually get to Spain. If you think we are going there for winter sun, think again! Today the Mayor of Alicante, an hour north of the rescue centre, has issued safety for code red weather warnings. 2 people are already dead due to storm Gloria with ALL outside activity cancelled until the storm passes. Snow has fallen in Andalucía over night. The dogs are scared by the winds and cowering in their kennels looking at the reports coming from the facebook page.
Today we are sorting out a raffle that my hairdresser has offered to run for us, just another way to try and raise the much needed funds to feed ourselves as we will not have an income whilst donating time. My hairdresser has kindly donated a free haircut and we also have around £40 in vouchers to give too. It’s a mad dash trying to get posters designed.
Finishing touches on the van.
We have been working hard getting the van ready and the date of the Spanish volunteering means we only have a few weeks to get the van finished. It isn’t a dry Jam-uary here, we have tried to seal the roof light 3 times now and its still leaking. We did joke about hanging an umbrella upside down to collect the water! The log burner is at a farm, William has sanded it down ready for us to spray and install in the van however the thought of cutting a hole in the roof is scary as is knowing there is another place water could get inside from.
If we are going to be in Spain a while, we need to get the van booked in for an early MOT and service. The electrics still need finishing and we need to finish the kitchen and get the new hob/sink fitted. A curtain is currently proving a toilet door so we would like to get that fitted too at some point. No pressure!
Chewy could do with a wash too. Some helpful sod decided to write looser all over the van, using their finger in the dirt on the side. Yes looser, not loser. Makes you laugh… without wanting to provoke anything more than a finger in dirt, if you want to graffiti the van, spell the insults right!!!
So hopefully, in a month’s time we will be driving to Portsmouth to board the ferry. A 24 hour crossing on what we have been told can be quite rough. Hopefully the weather will be kind to us as we felt sea sick in the van at Tan Hill with the van rocking in the wind! Once we arrive in Spain, we will have an 8 hour drive to complete from Santander to Murcia before we arrive at the centre. Once there we will only have a day or two with the current onsite couple we are replacing to learnt the rope and get our bearings before they head back to England for a short visit before returning to the rescue centre.
In the mean time, we will be trying to raise the funds and ensure we can get to Spain and back. If you are able to donate, please do so here.