Sunday 17thAugust 2013
We caught up on some outstanding tasks, bade Sarah farewell, at least until the 30th when we would all meet up again in Florence.
We bought the motorhome from Premier Motorhomes in Birdham near Chichester so we headed in that direction for an overnight stay. We had a drive around the peninsular, one of several that surround Chichester Harbour, and pulled into the car park at the RSPB reserve at Pagham Harbour. The tide was out so a good time to go out to look for some birds. Sadly very few in common with many other areas we have visited.
The RSPB membership fee has been well worth it this year. There was no one about, the reserve office had shut and there was no barrier to lock us in so we made ourselves comfortable an apart from the occasional dog walker no one disturbed us. What we cannot understand is why the car park was not full of campervans. People just do not wild camp in the UK.
Monday 18th August 2013
Early start; although the motorhome garage was only a few miles away we wanted to make sure they got on with the van as soon as we arrived so that if they found anything wrong with it they would have plenty of time to fix it. It was a gorgeous day again so we eschewed the courtesy car offered and chose the bikes. GPS’s attached we set out to explore the area and find a few caches.
Selsey and the surrounding area is one we might consider moving to. We raced around Sidlesham, Highleigh, Earnley an West Itchenor stopping here for a pub lunch near the sea. The two caches in the village found we sauntered back to Birdham, via a circuitous cross country route, to check on progress with the van. It had just come out of the workshop and was awaiting a trip to the MOT station. MOT gained and driver’s door fixed, gas system checked and a bucket full of new oil and grease on her nipples and we needed a new spot for the night.
West along the A259 we dropped down into Chidham, that was OK. Next we tried Thorney Island. Big mistake! Thorney Island seems to be occupied by the military.
Our next objective was a look round Selsey so headed to the south western tip. Our first impressions were gained when, after crossing the bridge, we turned east to North Hayling and then on through Stoke. It was quiet, picturesque an not too busy. We then rejoined the main road to the south and at the end of the road we were horrified to find Blackpool on Selsey with its funfair, fish an chips and kiss me quick hats. We turned west to the golf club. No overnight parking in the public car park so stopped in a layby next to the golf links. “Beware of flying golf balls” it said. It was nearly dark and we assumed that golf balls didn’t fly at night.
Tuesday 19th August 2013
We turned east along the coast road making various diversions amongst the housing estates and did find some decent property, mainly bungalows, but on the whole we were not exactly enamoured by Hayling Island unless we could afford somewhere in the northern half of the island but then it is a bit near the A27. Can’t win.
True to form we had forgotten something so back to Birdham and Premier Motorhomes as we had left our folder with all the van’s documentation in it in their office. Can’t get home without it.
This time on the M27 skipping past Portsmouth and Southampton, south alongside Southampton Water to Hythe. Drove around the town a couple of times looking for somewhere to park up for lunch but it was market day so busy and parking impossible but Jo found a route that would take us to a picnic site overlooking the water. We went for a walk and found a hobby farmer leaning on his gate so we had a chat especially as it allowed Jo to get her goat “fix” and they chatted for five minutes about different varieties. Half an hour walking and that it our exercise “fix” for the day. Not enough? You try keeping up with Jo on the flat or downhill. I am only quicker when the route rises.
Avoiding Fawley and the oil refinery and the power station we drove through Beauliu and then down to Lymington and on to Jo’s spiritual home Keyhaven where we met Jo’s niece Rachel, her husband Rupert and children and their two whippets and Jo’s brother Jeremy who had come over from the Isle of Wight with Tina, Rupert’s mum. Three “fixes” in one day. Jo is a whippet fan having owned a fawn coloured dog many years ago and very similar to Oakley. She lived in the bungalow for four years in her twenties when she taught at Hordle school. Her dog Chunga also went to school and sometimes she would travel to work in her trap towed along by her pony Honey which she tied up on the sports field. Imagine doing that now?
Wednesday 20th August 2013
We had a relaxing day including a sail in a Keyhaven scow. Jo did some painting and we set off on our bikes to do some shopping in Milford on Sea and to see Jo’s eldest brother Jimmy who lives in the village. We had supper with Rupert, Rachel and their friend Emma after the youngsters had gone to bed.
Thursday 21st August 2013
Another sail in the morning. Jo occasionally lets me take the helm if the winds are light. I made four tacks and had not made an inch of progress and as my friends will know I am very impatient so threw Jo the reins and said you get on with it. I can’t do it. It was so tedious. Immediately the wind picked up and we headed straight for Hurst Castle and the geocache. Some people mellow when they get older. I have just become a grumpy old man!
We hauled the boat as far onto the beach as we could knowing that it was not high tide yet. We walked round the castle to do the cache but access was cut off by the tide so we walke all the way round the other side, Hurst Castle is very big. Cache found we waited at the jetty to meet one of Jo’s old friends Harvey Bagnall, who runs the ferry service from Keyhaven out to the castle. We looked across at the scow an saw that the tide was creeping up on her so bade our farewells and walked over to her, wading the last fifty metres or so, the scow about to part company with the beach. Just in time. Another five minutes and we’d have to wait for it to drift across the bay.
After lunch we had some serious shopping to do so we called at Winton, got some cash and some stuff we couldn’t buy in the local shops, called at the Fiat agents in Wallisdown Road for some new wheel discs which they hadn’t got and finally headed to Jo’s friend Mab’s place near Fordingbridge to collect some of our belongings which we ha left there after our first visit about six weeks ago. Something to eat and then a drive home across the New Forest in the dark. Donkeys, horses and cows do not have lights so I needed to be extra vigilant as they have no road sense either.
Friday 22nd August 2013
I had made arrangements to visit my brother and for us to go out on our bikes. I have an advantage over a lot of cyclists as my bike is very light, aluminium and carbon fibre. John’s, on the other hand, is quite heavy. It is a three wheeler recumbent with two small (20 inch) steering wheels at the front and a central 26 inch wheel at the back. John lies down on it in the Formula 1 driving position and his legs stick out at the front and turn the pedals. He has a flag on an eight foot mast so he is easily spotted. True to form the bike hurtles downhill but is hard work going uphill. We travelled along little used lanes to Bucklers Hard but found they wanted money to get near the water so carried on to Beaulieu and had a picnic on the green, John’s bike attracting much attention. We returned via a more direct route going through Lymington town centre which was snarled up. John was in front an I rode a little too close to the gutter, caught my pedal on the kerb, the back end leapt off the tarmac and dumped me unceremoniously on the pavement! No real damage to me but I’ve scratched my bike!
I left John at his house as I wanted to collect some post I have sent to his address and I don’t like to leave him alone, he seems so vulnerable on the road, but I suppose he knows the traffic and how to stay safe. I just prefer two wheels.
Quick shower and change and in a car kindly loaned by Rachel, Jo and I returned to John and Carol’s house an then on to the Red Lion in Boldre for something to eat. John is a bit unsteady on his feet, he has lost his sense of balance an some coordination resulting in him having to give up his driving licence, hence the recumbent bicycle. Some people might have thought he had had one too many glasses of pop but quite the opposite. I have to admire him for his stoicism, his good naturedness in the face of adversity, his unwillingness to accept lifts when it would be so easy to just jump into a neighbour’s car when a lift is offered. He was going to Bristol the next day, on the train. I felt I should pick him up and take him to the station in the van but bearing in mind his refusal of lifts in the past I decided not to. Jo knows of someone with a similar ailment who has just taken to her bed. John, on the other hand pursues his interest in clock making, having just built a milling machine of his own. He produced the drawings and took them to a local engineer who machined all the parts to John’s specifications. John has now assembled it. He has a milling machine for making the brass parts for the clocks, this one is for making the hardened steel parts.
Once John has all the tools to enable him to complete his first clock he will go into mass production, if you can call one clock a year mass production.
Saturday 23rd August 2013
Into Milford for some shopping on our bikes then out in the scow. This time there was a bit more wind. Indeed it was quite squally. We raced off down wind and headed up the narrow channel next to the spit hoping the wind would be lighter. We went aground on the mud bank so I baled out to push but merely sank up to my knees in mud. “Back the way we came, please? “ so we beat back up the main channel avoiding the pleasure cruisers and getting soaked to the skin in the process. Exhilarating? You bet! Much more fun but I’ll grab a waterproof next time, maybe even a lifejacket. I tried to take some photos with my GPS which is waterproof but they do not show the spray coming right over the boat. Jo had to use all her strength and 60 years of experience to keep the boat on course but we got back safely, both of us soaked to the skin.
As we landed we met Jo’s nephew John, down from London for the weekend with wife Hayley, who immediately jumped in the scow for a sail.
A hot shower an supper and then a walk along to the Gun Inn to meet John and Hayley who had eaten there. Jo was reminiscing about her life forty years ago when she lived in the bungalow, called Saltmarsh, and about the fire in 1976 and the floods when she had a phone call to say that Honey was swimming in her paddock and that when Jo found her she was perched on the only bit of high ground and when Jo worked behind the bar at the Gun to supplement her meagre teaching salary.
The clans meet at August bank holiday and the Douglas arm put on a BBQ at the bungalow next door, also built by Joanna’s grandfather. Jo has eighteen cousins, consequently there are masses of nieces and nephews and even more great nieces and nephews whose names I cannot hope to remember but many of whom I have met today an even more will be about tomorrow.