April 9, 2014
People are fascinated by them. The desire to find out what happens next is irresistible. Writers want their audience to be entertained and keep coming back for more. Sometimes they are surprised by the results. The Peatmore Press motorcycle travel ebook, American Road, is selling well in America. Perhaps the reason is many Americans want to reach out and find a new way in which they can explore their own country by reading about the experiences of others. They may be wishing to undertake a similar journey themselves and are seeking clues of where to go and how to travel. Whatever the reason, their motivation is welcome and I hope they get as much out of the ebook as I did in writing it.
American Road for Kindle can be obtained from Amazon UK by clicking or tapping on the jacket cover in the side bar or from Amazon.com in the USA or by following the links to the Peatmore Press website at http://www.peatmore.com. As a reward for reading Peatmore stories and following this blog, I have posted another free short story, The Age Gene, which can again be accessed by via the jacket cover and following the link to the website.
Editor, Peatmore Press.
April 3, 2014
3 April 2014
My journey southward on the evening of 2nd April was again shrouded by thick misty fog which had probably affected the photographs of the Angel. The pictures lacked detail giving him an almost eerie appearance. After three hours of driving Daisy and I arrived at the Conkers Camping and Caravanning Club Site in Swadlincote, Derbyshire. The friendly couple who ran the site found us a vacant lot for the night and we settled down for a well earned rest.
On the morning of 3rd April I awoke from a deep sleep thinking it was 7 am. Daisy’s Fm radio had not been working well all trip so for once I was not keeping up with the news which was a refreshing change. Then I remembered that I had packed a small portable radio in my case. I switched it on and discovered that I had failed to put my watch an hour forward the previous Sunday which was the start of British Summer Time. Daisy and I had been an hour behind everyone else in England and I had not noticed.
The Conkers camping site is in the heart of The National Forest which covers 200 squares miles, embracing some of Staffordshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire. It is a place to enjoy a variety of activities from forest walks and gentle cycling to horse riding and fishing. It also contains numerous attractions from Calke Abbey, the National Brewery Centre and the National Memorial Arboretum. Unfortunately, I did not feel I had enough time to explore. I had to get Daisy back to Knaphill so I could make her presentable for her owners as I was determined to return her in pristine condition by 10 am the next day. She deserved it as she had served me well. She had no power steering and the stick gear leaver meant that you had to gently shift her through the gears otherwise she easily stalled which happened to us on more than one occasion. But, unlike with modern cars, the effort required to drive her made us bond.
Daisy at the Conkers Camping and Caravanning Club Site
My last port of call was at the Oxford Services on the M40 for a much need cool soft drink and a comfort break. Daisy looked resplendent next to the caravans in the motor home section. When I finally got her back to Knaphill we had travelled 1527.4 km (almost 950 miles).
Daisy at the Oxford Services on the M40
April 2, 2014
I spent an enjoyable evening at the Tow Bar watching football on a wide screen TV and dining on their excellent special meaty pizza. The next day I felt the North calling me so I packed up and set off in that direction. My journey was marred by thick misty fog so it was difficult to see where I was going. The Satnav took me to a small housing estate in Gateshead in Tyne and Wear, England. and told me that this was my journey’s end. But it was not what I was looking for so I back tracked and there it was, The Angel of the North.
The Magnificent Angel Of The North
This awesome structure was built by the sculptor Antony Gormley in 1988 to signify three things: first that beneath the site of its construction, coal miners had worked for two centuries; second, to grasp the transition from an industrial to information age, and third, to serve as a focus for our evolving hopes and fears.
Daisy Under The Wing of The Angel
Now I had seen The Angel, it was time to turn round and head southward as Daisy had to be home by 10 am on Friday 4th April.
April 1, 2014
1 April 2014
I chose Scarborough because the Association of Veterinary Teachers and Research Workers (AVTRW) met there annually a week before Easter week and I attended regularly towards the end of my career as a veterinary microbiologist. The town held pleasant memories for me. However, when I got there the campsite I had picked from my guidebook which it said would be open turned out to be closed. Fortunately, I remembered that there were a number of other sites on the coast road between Scarborough and Bridlington. So it was with great relieve that I pulled into Brown’s Caravan Park next to The Tow Bar pub. The people were brilliant and so was the beer so I decided to stay an extra night.
The Tow Bar outside the entrance to Brown’s Caravan Park
The morning of 1st April I forsook Daisy and caught the local bus into Scarborough to revisit my old haunts. Before leaving I checked the AVTRW website as by rights they should be holding their annual meeting about now. However, it appeared that they had abandoned this historic Yorkshire town for a high tech conference centre at Nottingham University. I saw the striking Grand Hotel where I stayed when attending earlier conferences and the Royal Hotel where I stayed in later years. I walked on the beach, watched donkey rides and ate some of the town’s renowned fish and chips.
The striking Grand Hotel overlooking Scarborough Beach
Donkey Rides on Scarborough Beach
Fish and Chips by Scarborough Beach
I visited Bonnets chocolate shop where I used to buy my children some of their homemade Easter eggs with their names inscribed on them. Even though they are now adults, I purchased two more.
Bonnets Chocolate Shop and Café
I was dismayed to find that there was a For Sale sign outside one of the old conference drinking haunts, The Hole In The Wall. I called in for a beer and asked the barmaid what draught ales she had on sale. She told me that as trade was always slack at that time of day it was not worth having any on tap but she had bottled beer. The bottled beer they had could be bought anywhere, even from Supermarkets, so I declined her offer. The landlord told me that the brewery was selling the pub as it no longer paid and they did not care if its future was to be as a pub, offices or dwellings as long as the premises were sold for the best possible price. Saddened by the news I caught the bus back to the Caravan site for an afternoon nap.
The Hole In The Wall
March 31, 2014
31 March 2014
I spent the night of 30th March at a campsite in Kingsbury Water Park at Sutton Coldfield. It is a holiday centre catering mainly for families with young children although there were activities available for older folk such as sailing and boating on the lake.
The following day I was still restless so I packed up and continued my way north on the M42. I had not got far when I spotted signs for the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre. This was the place where Richard III, the last British King to die in battle, met his end. His body was recently found when a car park was dug up in Leicester. Fascinated by this story, I deviated from my course and followed the signs.
It took me a long while to follow the signs but when I arrived at the visitors centre I was not disappointed. There was an interactive exhibition with plenty of information on view and also a chance to walk the battlefield. I declined the walk but was most impressed by the exhibition.
The Battle of Bosworth Memorial Sundial showing Richard III’s crown and Standard
View of Battlefield from Memorial Sundial
There was still a dispute going on about what to do with Richard’s remains. Both the cities of York and Leicester have staked claims to keep them. The receptionist at the centre told me that while the legal battle raged on they were in a cardboard box in Leicester Museum.
I continued my journey northward. The M1 was slowed down by miles and miles of road works so that traffic speed was reduced to fifty miles an hour. After a while I tired of this so once again I diverted from my course to the Yorkshire seaside town of Scarborough as I was sure I could find a campsite there where I could settle in for the night.
March 30, 2014
28, 29 and 30 March 2014
On Friday 28th I felt a strong need to hit the road on my travels again. It turns out that in the village of Chobham, which is next door to my home village of Knaphill in Surrey, England, there is a small company which rents our Volkswagen campervans. I called in on spec and to my delight found that they had one available for hire that very day. I quickly agreed terms and drove the said vehicle called Daisy (their name for her not mine) to my home in preparation for my departure the following day.
Daisy parked up at my home ready for loading
So the next day I packed up and headed North on the M40. My initial destination was to visit my son who was studying at Wolverhampton University. He too was seduced by Daisy’s charms and agreed to join me on the first stage of my journey. We picked a name from the Camping Club book and arrived at Delamere Forest Park, South of Manchester. There we wrestled with the complexities of our new temporary home.
Delamere Forest Park
Daisy’s roof could be raised to allow more living and sleeping space. However, neither of us relished being tucked up at night in the small roof space so we shared the large double bed at the back. Alex had to return to his studies next day, as he is in his final year at University and they are at a crucial stage, which was just as well as being large adult males we both spent an uncomfortable night.
Daisy at Campsite Close To Country Park
The following morning we went for s short walk in the park and then visited the tiny Delamere Railway Station which is right next to the campsite.
Delamere Railway Station
Then I returned Alex to his studies at Wolverhampton, picked another name from the Camping Club Book and headed to Kingsbury Water Park in Sutton Coldfield alone.
January 13, 2014
Since returning from Norway in early December a great deal of interest has been shown in the Northern Lights phenomenon. Last week the BBC produced a fantastic programme, “Stargazing Live,” during which presenters used a plane to fly above the clouds to broadcast some awesome pictures. Travelling below the cloud cover by land or by ship as I did is very much hit and miss as clear skies are needed to see them but it is an adventure none the less.
What I saw was similar to the picture below. I did not see the bright greens, pinks or reds for which the Aurora Borealis is renowned. It was more of a creamy white in appearance.
A View of the Northern Lights
I did see some faint tinges of green and I have heard that the colours come out better when photographed as the long exposures required for them to show up are more sensitive than the human eye. However, I do wish I spent more time admiring them with the naked eye rather than fiddling with the exposure settings on my digital camera as being there underneath them was a great experience in itself.
The BBC and its stargazing programme must be congratulated for showing us how beautiful the universe really is. The excitement of the participants was infectious and is sufficient inspiration to keep me travelling to experience more of the sights, sounds, smells, touches and tastes that surround our world.
Editor, Peatmore Press.