Welcome

Hello to all you fellow motorhomers and welcome.
I hope you get as much fun reading this as I do writing it.







Tuesday, 11 June 2019

House Buiding

Just a few days ago I received this update from CPRE (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England).

It made for grim reading but is VERY important.   PLEASE PLEASE read on.

Do you enjoy the countryside?

Are you an outdoor enthusiast?

If so you need to be worried VERY worried.



If the present situation continues soon in certain parts of the UK there won't be countryside as we know it just parks.  These won't be like the National Parks such as Exmoor or New Forest but more like Hampstead Heath in London. 

Is this what we want?

The CPRE (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England)  not only strongly opposes building on the Green Belt but also offers alternative strategies.  See below

As an individual there is very little you or I can do but together anything is possible so come and join the CPRE and fight to protect the countryside which is amazing.


JOIN THE CPRE  https://www.cpre.org.uk/

Take part in "The Time is Now" Mass Lobby on Wednesday 26th June in London
https://takeaction.cpre.org.uk/page/43002/data/1?ea.tracking.id=home-carousel&_ga=2.154656496.973056202.1560283281-1826634896.1560283281

The CPRE's statement about housebuilding.
  • More and more countryside is under threat (this I know from my research for my book).  The CPRE point out there is enough spce on suitable brownfield land to accommodate 1 million new homes
  • Not enough homes are being built (to me this seems odd)  but I concur with CPRE the vast majority of houses being build are not affordable the the government's own definition.
  • Fewer houses are being built than before 2008 crash (I can't verify this) the government has failed to solve the fallout of the crash
  • Loss of the countryside is accelerating whilst industry profits are skyrocketing  - companies are sitting on land hoping to increase profits.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Read of the Month (May 2019)

It is still May so I can just squeeze in the Read of the Month.

In keeping with the couple of serious posts I have written recently this book is especially pertinent.

Please do not be put off by its size.
It is

  • interesting
  • enlightening 
  • informative
  • revealing
  • instructive

It is The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan.

The format of the book is ingenious and allows the reader to divide the book into manageable chunks.

Each Chapter is "The Road of ............."

It looks at a part of the world that is unfamiliar to most of the Western World, which I would call the near East.  It is the region now occupied by countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan as well as Syria, Iran  and Azerbaij. 
Yes I too restored to an atlas to find the exact location of these countries. 

The book examines the influence this part of the world has had throughout history.

It starts with the ancient civilizations such as the Phoenicians and the birth of Christianity right up to modern times.

I found the first few chapters fascinating. 
Unfortunately I found the last few hugely depressing.
It seems we never learn from history.
The book appears to indicate the driving force of human activity is greed.

Without doubt this book has caused me to        re-evaluate things. 
As a result I am becoming more of an environmental activist. 
Hence my continual refrain to join CPRE www.cpre.org.uk 

I won't say I hope you enjoy this book because it is not really a book you can enjoy.  Instead I would like it to make you look at the world differently "globally".





First Motorhome Show

So here I was at Warner's Southern Motorcaravan Show at Newbury.  This was my first, perhaps only, Motorhome Show.  Only time will tell.

Friday arrived overcast, cold and rather windy.  After breakfast I explored the grounds with Pearl and then did the final preparations of the stall setting up a table, chairs, posters, banner and books,

Soon I was all set to go. 

Watching the other stands scurrying around tweaking their displays was interesting.



Then it all began at 9.30am when the gates opened.  I was surprised to see so many people surging along the path so soon.  They barely hesitated as they passed seemingly looking for something specific. After this initial rush things settled down to a steady trickle.


There was quite a bit of interest in my book and I sold some; 6 in fact..  I found it a difficult day because it was cold; dry but VERY cold.  I kept adding layers throughout the day. The arrival of a friend to help was a most welcome distraction.  I was delighted when the show closed at the end of the day and I could stay in my warm motorhome.

Reflecting on the day I was rather disappointed. It had been a slow seemingly unproductive day. Saturday, we were told, was usually a little better with Sunday similar to Friday. It appeared the show was not going to produce the results I had hoped for.

Another problem suddenly materialized; a high pitch whining which I eventually track down to my solar panel inverter so I turned it off.  As it got dark the lights in my van dimmed and faded completely.  Next I noticed the pump for the tap would not work,  It emerged all the electrics in the van had failed. With no light there was nothing for it but to go to bed.

Saturday morning was easier because preparation was just a repetition of Friday morning.  This time I was all ready for a rush but there was none.   It was a better day however as not only was it warmer but the sky began to clear and the sun shine.  There was a steady stream of people all day many of whom paused as they passed to stop and chat.  There was a great deal of interest and I sold 15 books.  I felt much more optimistic.

My motorhome still had no electric so it was another early night. Tomorrow was the final day.  Now I had no idea how it would go,  The weather forecast was not very good.

Sunday was warmer and drier than expected.  Again there was no rush but a steady flow. It was another good day with many people interested in my book and several people purchasing a copy.  Several of the people I spoke to were looking at motorhomes with a view to purchasing one.  Even so I sold 14 books.

Then at 4.30 pm the show closed and everyone was rushing around packing up.  It did not take us long to take down the gazebo and pack everything in the motohome. It was extremely useful having the van just behind the stand.  Not just for the setting up and packing away but also for the convenience of having everything to hand. 
Shortly I was ready to go home.

Reflecting on the experience I feel it was well worth it and I learnt a great deal should I ever decide to do another one.



Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Busy Busy Busy

This month has been so busy I have not only been unable to do a weekly comment, but I also failed to do the "Read of the Month" and "Photo of the Month".
Things are quieter over the next couple of weeks so I can catch up.



Because things have been so unsettled I felt I needed a shot of "Countryside Calm". and went away for a few days to one of my favourite campsites "Burrowhayes.



The splendour  of the landscape always works its magic
creating an oasis of tranquility.  Also at most campsites wifi and phone signals are variable.  As a consequence all technological interactions are less efficient and time consuming.  I only deal with urgent matters and pick up the slack when I get home

This is the slack.

Book Signing - Bath
Despite my best efforts this was not a success.  I did sell 1 book.  Not only had she come some distance,  she was most complimentary.

Then it was

  • off home.  Getting everything from Smiths to my car required several trips                                    
  • load up the van. Loading the van ALWAYS takes me longer than I anticipate                                        
  • drive to Newbury for the Southern Motorcaravan Show. Driving to the Newbury was the easiest part.  Registering  at the visitors gate and checking out my stand was simple.  Even though I was so late (after 8pm) I found a space behind the stand where I could park up my motohome for the duration of the show.  This made everything so much easier.                            
  • erect the gazebo.  This was a nightmare even though I had done it successfully at home just a few days before and had carefully sorted and tied the various poles.  Every time I tried to add part of a leg the whole roof section crashed down.  There was nobody about to ask for help as it was so late.  It was rapidly getting darker and darker. I really did not want to leave this task for the morning. In desperation I asked a nearby security guard if he knew anyone who could help. He offered his services. Within minutes the gazebo was up and all I had to do was peg it down. By this time it was almost dark. 
  • crash. I set the alarm as I needed to be up early to finalize set up for opening at 9.30 am.
  • up, eat, exercise dog, set up stand.  Fortunately it did not take long to set up the table and chairs and put out the posters, banner and books.  I was ready in plenty of time.

So began my first Motorhome Show experience as an exhibitor.



Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Another Serious Thought

Ever since the local elections on 2nd May the current state of affairs have much occupied my mind.

The issues I discussed in the last post have now become mainstream news with the publication on 6th May of a report from the
UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
which in one sentence says "

Action needs to be taken NOW by EVERYONE ". 

Not only will the warming of the world have catastrophic effect on us humans but also on the diverse eco sytems which support us and as a result many many plants, animals and insects will become extinct.

So what can we do as individuals.
We may not be able to be hugely influential but that does not mean we should shrug our shoulders and do nothing.

We should


1. Be informed about climate change and bio-diversity

2. Join those organizations whose agenda is climate change and bio- diversity; 
make a donation and if possible volunteer. 
Four organizations which fall in this category are
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Greenpeace
  • CPRE Campaign for the Protection of Rural England  (An essential one to join if you enjoy the British countryside)
  • Woodland Trust
3. Use your vote at every election in your area.  If you do not like any of the candidates still go out and vote.  SPOIL THE BALLOT PAPER.  When the returning officer announces the number of votes each candidate received he also informs the public the number of spoiled ballot papers.  It will have more impact if this number is large.  PLEASE GO AND VOTE





Tuesday, 30 April 2019

A Serious Thought

One trundles along in ones own little or big bubble dealing with day to day ups and downs when
suddenly several seemingly small unrelated occurrences cause one to radically rethink

This has very recently happened to me.
I am not sure how to proceed.
Suggestions are most welcome.

Over a period of several days random items of information have come to my attention

It all started with reading the Radio Times.
A review of the programme on Netflix narrated by David Attenborough remarked how distressing the programme was because it kept mentioning how the habitat of various animals which were filmed was disappearing at an alarming rate.

Then I saw a trailer on the TV about a forthcoming programme which shows satellite images of the earth over several years. It was frightening how big many towns and cities had grown across the world and how much light pollution there now was.



Just before Easter I went away in the motorhome for a few days. 


Wherever ones goes new buildings are being erected; usually houses.


Over Easter I visited a friend. On driving back to her house I had a brief glimpse of a partially completed road.  She told me it was part of extensive housing development which was going to demolish the nearby greenhouses.  Not long ago these greenhouses produced 85% of cucumbers consumed by the UK.  Now many of the greenhouses are empty and derelict (not a pretty sight) and cucumbers are now imported from Holland.  When I was told this Brexit immediately came to mind.

When I return home and finally caught up with the news the top story was the demonstrations in London to highlight various environmental issues.  I was pleased to think that so many people were concerned enough about the environment to protest in such a visible way.  However, though it is admirable to protest and bring issues to the attention of those in authority  it is important that a viable alternative solution is offered.

My reservations about the demonstration is the solutions suggested.

It is hypocritical to suggest places around the world like the rain-forests in Asia, the coastal area of Polynesia, the jungles of South America and the plains of Africa are more important than less well areas such as the UK countryside.

What right do we have to build on our countryside yet tell the people of Africa they cannot develop their land.

As an individual we have little influence.  Together we can make a difference as Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Sapiens emphasizes by joining an organization.

So become an environmentalist by protecting our countryside.  


Join CPRE (Campaign for the protection of Rural England)

www.cpre.org.uk

It is only £3.00 a month

Then and only then we can look at the wider issues


Monday, 29 April 2019

Magazines

It astonishes me how often the unexpected can result from unplanned, frequently incidental happenings.
(Maybe there is a lesson in this!)


My food shopping on this particular occasion was much quicker than usual.  As I had arranged to meet my daughter in the shop I decided to pass the time by looking at the vast range of magazines the store stocked.  I slowly moved along the aisle. What a plethora of magazines covering a huge rang of topics.



First I spotted "Practical Caravan" magazine.   As it was not in a cellophane envelope and having been told my book, "Wonderful Walks from Dog-friendly Camspites throughout the UK" had been requested by a caravan magazine as a prize, I decided to have a quick  flick through it.  Imagine my delight when I saw my book featured in it; but not as a prize. I looked around for someone to tell.  I could not find anyone whom I felt I could approach.


I then spotted "Practical Motorhome" and grabbed this to have a quick look.  Yes my book was in there too and the write up in both magazines  were almost identical and not bad.


Looking at the array of magazines I saw MMM (Motorhome Monthly Magazine).  It was encased in a large cellophane envelope and seemingly containing several publications in addition to the magazine.  There was no way I could check this magazine without buying it.

I was so thrilled at featuring in the other 2 magazines I bought both MMM and Practical Motorhome.


On arriving at home, a celebratory cup of tea was required whilst I savoured the moment.  I was browsing through MMM reminiscing about my contributions to the magazine .
(I had a momentary pang of despondency at not still writing for them.  I would have found it very stressful writing regular articles for the magazine and a book.  The book won out).

I was close to the end when again I spotted my book featured.  It was a thrilling moment.

I then read the review.
A good review but not especially clear.
This did not concern me too much.

It is an achievement just to be featured positively in a magazine, let alone three of them.

Whilst I was doing this my daughter was googling the book.  As expected it is on Amazon.

(I'm not a fan of that company because of their business practices and employee working conditions.  As a result I only use them if there is no other choice.
I have to consider them because so many other people do use them).

There is only 1 review on Amazon and it is not very favourable.  On reading the review it is because I did not include any campsites in the counties of Lincolnshire and Norfolk.  So all you people who have bought the book please go to Amazon and write a review.

Google also informed me that the book has been listed as a prize in a Dog Magazine; on checking this out it appears it is an instagram prize. It is difficult to find; this may be due to my ineptitude.

What has happened to the prize in the Caravan Magazine?  I was unable to find any evidence of this.

Googling my book and name definitely makes me feel like an author as both books appear on various sites.

The most prestigious, though not necessarily the most effective, is The Guardian Bookshop where you can find "Wonderful Walks..." book.

Now I just need to sell them in significant numbers.



Wednesday, 24 April 2019

House Bound 2


Though I wrote this on 25th March 2019, somehow I forgot to actually publish it. 


The weather forecast for this coming week promises fine sunny weather.  This is exactly the type of weather I like to go out and about with Pearl in my motorhome.


I seriously thought of going despite the fact that Pearl is in season.


My outing this morning convinced me it was not a good idea.

We were on our customary walk with female doggie friends of Pearl's.

Whilst we were walking around the field we met up with a male doggie friend.  Despite him being being "done" or "firing blanks" he was very interested in Pearl.  More disturbingly Pearl quite enjoyed his attentions.


Such a scenario does not bode well for outings to unfamiliar places, people and dogs even if such outings exhausted her.


Conclusion;

Wait until Pearl's season has finished and hope the weather is still good.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Thwarted

Pearl's season was almost finished so I decided to plan a trip.


No worries about the state of the motorhome.  I had found someone to clean the outside of it.  What a fabulous job he did.


Surely deciding where and when to go would be easy. 

I had a list of the campsites I wanted to visit.  Deciding which one to go to was difficult.  I was unsure how far to travel and how long it would be convenient for me to be away.  Another factor was the proximity of other campsites I wished to visit.


Having finally made a decision, contrary to my usual custom, a few days in advance of my intended stay I phoned to book a pitch.  I was staggered to  be told the campsite was still closed for the winter season and it would more than a week before it opened. 


This rather took the wind out of my sails. 

Then the curse of emails.  I had to attend to some urgent matters regarding the upcoming book signing. (More about this in the next blog).


Finally all was quiet and I could get away.  I eventually decided where to go. I phone the campsite to book a pitch for the next day.  I was told they would have to look and they would phone me back.


I waited and waited not sure quite what to do. Uncertainty is a major de-motivator.  Ultimately I phoned them twice more only to be told they was insufficient space for me.   Now to find somewhere else.  My third choice campsite was much more efficient and accommodating.  Yes they had space for me.

Then the evening before I was due there was a family setback.  As a consequence I decided to delay my departure by 24 hours.

All this shilly-shallying meant I missed the best of the sunny weather.  I just hope all goes well for tomorrow and the next few days are not too cloudy

Monday, 1 April 2019

Read of the Month (April 2019)



So it is the first day of another month. April.

As it is April I was tempted to suggest an "April Fools" book.  
Unfortunately I could not think of an appropriate one.  

I decided instead to review the "Read of the Month" books to date. 
I was surprised to discover that there are 5 "Read of the Month" books and 1 extra.  

They are;-

November 2018 "Read of the Month"

      
The Secret Life of Bletchley Park 
by 
Sinclair McKay


This tells the story of the  secret work which took place during WW2.  It is extremely interesting and thought provoking.  If the opportunity arises do go and visit Bletchely Park. It is an amazing place.


December 2018 "Read of the Month"


23 Things They don't Tell you About Capitalism" 
by 
Ha-Joon Chang


Well it is a commentary upon current political thinking.  I read it long before Brexit and Trump but it seems even more relevant now.


January 2019 "Read of the Month"



Cream Teas, Traffic Jams and Sunburn 
by 
Brian Viner.


An engaging and enjoyable read especially if British.  It is at time very amusing.



February 2019 "Read of the Month"


"Authentic Happiness" 
by 
Martin Seligman

I am generally skeptical of books like this. However if you are scientifically inclined and can overlook the "Self-help" section a very enlightening book.



March 2019 "Read of the Month"


 The Veiled Kingdom 
by 
Carmen Bin Ladin

The book is not especially well written but I found the content so mesmerizing this did not matter unduly.  It gives an insight into a world which I have very little experience of but which occupies many column inches in the Western press.  It made me really thankful that as a woman I live in the "West".



Extra Book


Quiet Heroes 
by 
Rita Cosby.

 It recounts some of my father's experiences during the war. My father came into the book because Rita's father and my father met up in a "hospital" and became buddies doing everything together until peace-time.

If you are thinking of buying any of these books please DO NOT use Amazon.  I do not like their working practices (exploiting the customers; underpaying their workers; failing to pay ethical taxes).  Support bookseller, especially British ones like