Derbyshire 10 - a rainy drive down the M1, a repair to the dish and the start of the 2014 season


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January 28th 2014
Published: February 12th 2014
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Portsmouth Portsmouth Portsmouth

HMS Victory
Suzy has been nestling in her parking spot for the last seven weeks. Huddled up against the laurel trees which have sheltered her from the January rain and winds. The weather has been too unkind to think about taking her out and we have been too busy with house repairs and renovations. So she has been somewhat sadly neglected. I hate this time of year and cannot wait for spring to arrive and to get her on the road again.

The weather has been mixes. Heavy rain which has flooded the Somerset Levels returning many areas to a landscape Alfred the Great would have recognised. Sleet and yet more driving rain falling like stair rods. Wind and unusually a thunderstorm. Not something we would normally expect at this time of year. And last week a flurry of snow coating the pavements with what looked like icing sugar. Luckily it didnt stick and by the next morning was a distant memory.

The street Christmas lights have come down and January is always a sad month. A grey month with little colour. The nights are though starting to get lighter. Now until almost 5 o'clock on a clear dry day. Today
Portsmouth Portsmouth Portsmouth

HMS Victory
it's grim at 4 as the night draws in. At least we can say we have had no snow so far this winter although a few sleet showers have been evident.

Suzy got a clean out - the first since we lived in her whilst we were waiting for our house completion date. The carpets thick with dust and dirt, the fridge smelling musty and with odd splatters of mould which would have been more highly prized in a petrie dish in a laboratory. Her broken grey water pipe repaired with plastic putty filling the holes and the screws redrilled. A touch more of the conifer hedge shaved off to enable us to get her off her parking spot a little easier. It's not so easy getting her out as it was in Wales.

The satelitte dish had been playing up and we had booked her in to RoadPro for the second time to see if they could fix the problem of water ingress. Not their problem it had been fitted by another company who should have done the repair but had gone bankcrupt and ceased trading. They had referred us to RoadPro who tried to repair her
Corwen Corwen Corwen

Owain Glyndwr statue
but it seemed to have failed and we had to take her to another company in Telford who drilled holes in the base plate. Instead of this working it in fact let more water stand in the base. We ended up on the road heading to Daventry. Suzy came off her parking spot but not easily in the dark. A reminder to us both that we really need to take her out the night before we travel and leave her on the road. Road Pro did a lot of looking, a lot of putting some kind of insulation on the wiring and filled in the drilled plate holes. £70 lighter we hope this has fixed the problem.

The journey down was awful and reminded me why I hate the M1, bumper to bumper traffic not going anywhere. We could see the time we were losing on the sat nav as with each mile we lost minutes of time. On the way back fish and chips at the service station near to Nottingham. Not a pleasant journey but hopefully the problem may be now fixed.

Habitation checks sorted out for the end of the month. We had planned to use Lowdhams to do both the Fiat service and the habitation but they wanted twice as much as anyone else so she is booked in now to a company in Derby for the habitation check and the following day to Chesterfield to the Fiat garage. Insurance has been paid for the year . Around £370 for both of us to drive her . And DVLC have sent us the reminder her tax is due £220. Its an expensive time of year for us keeping Suzy on the road. And then there is the melted strip of plastic trimming the edge of the cupboard door. Ordered in June 2013 the wrong part turned up in August. Re-ordered and then silence. It turned up at Christmas and was being sent out to us. As usual it didnt arrive - why would we expect anything any different. Now in February it turns out we may not be able to replace it but need a whole new door!!! Talk about an expensive option.

Holiday plans well under way. We had intended stopping the first night at the Baie de Somme campsite but now plans have changed. We are hoping to get straight on the M1 which is only just up the road , drive the four hours to London and arrive at the tunnel by lunchtime or earlier. It is a Sunday so hopefully the bulk of the traffic will be off the road and we should make good ground. We should save at least an hour and a half not living and travelling from Wales. Hopefully we will arrive and be able to get on the train two hours earlier and be in France earlier which will mean we can travel further the first day. We have no plans to stop in France on our way down so our destination for the night will be either the aire or campsite at Neufchatel en Bray. We know its a good campsite and if full there is always the good aire next door which we checked over last year on our way home from our September holiday.

The journey should take us via Limoges our second stopover and then end up the third day on the Med at Colliures. Colliures has always been on the radar and we have found two campsites in the area both close enough to walk to the beaches and the town. We hope to have a few days of just simple rest and relaxation in the sun enjoying the scenery and doing very little apart from eating and drinking wine.

From there into Spain - and Peniscola with its castle and connection with El Cid. After that we will take in Teruel, Cordoba, Seville and possibly Gibraltar. Africa beckons too. It's only 87 days away and we are counting.

We did encounter rather a shock though. We had planned to get to Granada by mid May and spend a few days seeing the Alhambra (no not the Leeds theatre) but that wonderful piece of Islamic architecture on mainland Spain. We hadnt thought to book although I had checked how to buy tickets and it seemed that you could purchase them at the ticket offices or the Caixa machines dotted around Spanish towns and cities. For some strange reason I had a look at the Ticketmaster Spain site and noticed that you could book up front three months in advance. A quick check on the site and tickets were sold out for the rest of February, all of March and April and for the first two weeks of May. Shock horror just a few left the days we had planned our visit. The site being in Spanish wouldnt translate so some rather hasty guesswork had to take place on how to order the tickets and where to pick them up. We parted with 13 euros 50 for my ticket and 10 euros 50 for a reduced over 65 EU pensioner ticket. An email flew back with our details and we are now booked to see the Nasrid Palace at 2pm on our allotted day. Tickets can be picked up from the office upon production of the credit card used to buy the tickets and confirmation e-mail. Hope it works. It did with the Vatican a few years ago. This should give us time to get from our camp site to the city, pick the tickets up visit the cathedral and Arab baths, have some lunch, visit the palace and then take in the rest of the complex. It has always been a place I have in particular wanted to visit after as a young child I saw a picture in an old atlas of the lion fountain and the water channels within the palace. It stuck deep in the memory banks and having explained to Sion that we would be visiting he decided that he too wanted a bit of the action.

The beauty of this type of holiday is we can still plan and keep planning as we begin to count down the weeks.

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