Welcome

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







Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Read of the Month (February 2020)

I know it is customary for me to post a Read of the Month at the start of the month but other events and happenings relegated it to half time.

My Read of the Month this month is an amalgam of my trip to Africa and to Poland in 2012.



As you may have gathered my trip to Southern Africa was more than a holiday; it was

  • a challenge;
  • an adventure
  • an experience
My trip to Poland in 2012 was also more than a holiday: it was
Main Square in Zamosc
  • an exploration 
  • an investigation (of my heritage)
  • a quest (I hoped this would be the first of many such trips but researching for my book precluded further expeditions).

Both trips were in different ways thought provoking.

Though both places are now wonderful. Until quite recently (depending how old you are) both have experienced turbulent times.

My Read of the Month illustrates this vividly.
It is


A Path of Hope

an
Autobiography 
of 

Lech Walesa
.


Unfortunately the translation is not very fluid; so occasionally the the account is stilted.

Nevertheless the sterility and hardship  of life in Poland under the Russians (Communism) permeates every chapter.
Also indisputably obvious is the amazing courage of Lech Walesa and his supporters.  
Ordinary people who defied the system.

Quite possibly without them Communism and the Berlin Wall may not have fallen.

This is an autobiography well worth reading.  



Sunday, 9 February 2020

Litter

My recent trip to Africa has had a profound effect in very many ways.
No rubbish here

I suppose because of all the recent media hype about plastic and waste, as I travelled through the different African countries I was more aware of the mounds of litter despoiling places.  Of course on windy days the rubbish was dispersed in all directions.

As expected the National Parks were litter free but as I drove out of the north gate and onto our next campsite the contrast was staggering.

On the left set back some distance off the road was a village; I assume this is where some of the National Park workers lived.   From the Park gates there was a deluge of rubbish stretching along the verge for many miles.  It looked like this was the rubbish tip of the village.

This scenario was replicated in numerous places. In one town I followed a rubbish cart.  They seemed to be very particular about what they picked up often leaving piles of rubbish on the streets.   I noticed them because of the blatant infringements of health a safety regulations.  The men clung onto the back of the moving vehicle.

Witnessing this I was rather smug; we don't have anything like this in England I thought.

Well how wrong I was; I suppose it is what you get use to.

I was driving along the motorways from Sheffield to the South West.  The amount of litter along motorway verges was shameful. A huge blot on the landscape. 

No wonder one of the campaigns of the CPRE is to highlight the issue of litter in the countryside. https://www.cpre.org.uk/what-we-care-about/better-places-to-live/cleaner-countryside/


Local Recreation Field
As the village litter picker over the years I have noticed a change in the rubbish which is left lying about.
In places where people gather, like parks there is less.
BUT
there is more, especially cans and plastic bottles, on the sides of paths and roads.
It seems that when in transit it is ok to casually discard unwanted items.

The only feasible action is to join a litter picking group such as the CPRE.
Make a difference.







Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Special Day

So tomorrow (Wednesday) I am off to London for a meeting with Steve Clark.

And who is he? 

The Commercial Direct of SME London Ltd?

And who are they?

They are the company who organizes the Countryfile Live Shows that run in August.

Have you ever been to one?



I went last August to the show held in the grounds of Blenheim Palace.

I did a post about it
https://www.motorhomemusings.co.uk/2019/08/countryfile-live-2019.html.

It was a huge disappointment. 
So much so that I complained to

  • SME London
  • BBC Countryfile
writing a letter to each and sending it my snail mail on the assumption that it is more difficult to dispose of a hord copy than an email.

Both have replied.

The BBC just sent a generic email.  Not the most customer satisfying reply

SME London on the other hand took months to get back tome but have offered me this meeting with a director. 

The result of this will be determined on Wednesday.
As my daughter assisted at the Countryfile Show so she is coming with me.  I am delighted to have some support.

Watch this space.



Friday, 31 January 2020

All Change

The past few month seem to be a period of change.
My trip to Africa was the biggest divergence from my usual routine;
  • A completely different country. One that I had no knowledge or experience of.
  • A different motorhome; a hire one.
  • Roads that required nerves of steel to traverse.
  • No companion; I had to leave my dog Pearl behind; she might have ended up as a "meal".
  • A hectic travelling itinerary; the opposite of my usual "slow" and tranquil meanderings.
This precipitated other changes
  • A new phone; I still terminate calls instead of answering them.
  • A new camera; it is also a new model (substituted Sony for Canon)  and type (substituted a Bridge camera for DSLR).  It is like a mini computer with so many buttons and levers etc.  I am still trying to get my head around the functioning of it.   The book of instructions I bought is big and sooo thick.
  • As Apple are shortly to retire iTunes I need to find an alternative.  Rather than a TV in my motorhome I listen to podcasts on my iPod. I need to be able to download these as frequently on campsites internet is non-existent or poor making streaming difficult. 
  • My aim this year is to increase the number of blog followers. I thought this could be achieved by moving it to my website. Tried it but could not cope with this change.  So back to the start 

Plenty to do before my motorhome comes back from the garage where it is having its bottom galvanized against rust . Shortly after the camping season will be in full swing Hopefully I will have to start in earnest researching for my second book. I am waiting for a contract.

Friday, 17 January 2020

New Year's Resolution

I know the customary time for making Resolutions is the New Year.
Though I had given some thought to my resolutions it is only recently that I have had the time to  formulated them.

Firstly I was busy preparing my motorhome for the garage.  It is having its "bottom" cleaned and sealed; the underneath is having a special coat to rust proof it.
In order for it to be light enough for the ramp I have had to remove EVERYTHING that is not fixed  to the vehicle. 

I was astounded how much is in the van. 

My next task was to get the motorhome to the garage.  Sounds easy but will it start after such an unusual long lay off.
Answer; YES. 
But once I got it started I did not want to switch it off until I arrived at the garage.
Secondly I had a visit to Sheffield booked for the beginning of January which occupied me.

Now I am back and ready to "start the year".  A bit late I know.

My New Year's Resolution



To persuade a 100 people to join CPRE.


Please will you help me keep my resolution.  Membership is only £3.00 a month.
Click on the link to sign up.
https://www.cpre.org.uk/get-involved/donations-and-membership/become-a-member/

Why should you join?

  1. The countryside is a valuable asset and needs protecting from becoming a concrete jungle.
  2. Nurturing the countryside assists in combating climate change.
  3. Looking after the countryside by default supports wildlife.
  4. Access to the countryside has health benefits.
  5. Once the countryside is gone then it is gone.  We cannot afford to lose any more of this precious commodity.
Please join the CPRE.


If you do join I would be most grateful if you would leave me a message at https://annachelmicka.me/contact-me/


Thank you.



Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Read of the Month (January 2020)

My trip to Africa was such a special experience I was keen to enhance it by increasing my knowledge
and understanding of the continent. 

Reading books is one way to do this. 

Having gained a comprehensive overview of the history of the continent over the past 50 years I decided to broaden my experience by reading a book about an entirely different aspect of Africa.

It is about a topic I have a smidgen of personal involvement and so a greater rapport.

A young man visited Africa on a gap year. 
The experience changed his life. 


Read of the Month (January 2020) recounts his adventures.


Don't Run;   Whatever you Do

by

Peter Allison




It is an easy read.

Each short chapter recounts an interesting happening or incident.
It has a special resonance having been on a safari tour similar to those organized by the author.



Sunday, 29 December 2019

Camera Saga

My normal camera kit is a camera body and just one small zoom lens (17-85mm). 
I decided upon this as being the easiest to carry several miles yet most photographically proficient.

This would not be adequate for my Africa trip. 
I needed to buy a longer zoom lens; at least 200mm long.
As the probability of my using the lens after the trip was unlikely I looked for a secondhand one.
So it was I bought a Canon 75-300mm lens.
Perfect so I thought,

WRONG

I was unable to give it a full work out until I got to Africa. 
Then found to my disappointment that the lens was faulty. 
No matter what I did I could not get it to focus sharply at the high zoom 135mm+

All the good photos were taken with my usual kit.





When I returned home I went back to the shop and informed them the lens was faulty.
By coincidence the Sony representative was there displaying Sony products.
We had a long chat about the Sony RX10 whilst my lens was being examined. 
(As a result of discussion with people on the African trip I thought this model would be a better option than my current one).
Instead of a refund I was told the lens was fixed.
What a disappointment!
I carried out further research and in the process discovered another camera shop.which had a refurbished Sony RX10M4. 
I went to the shop taking my camera to ascertain what deal I could get in part exchange.
This was informative:

  • for my camera I was offered on £125.00 because it was well used.  I could not disagree with that.
  • for my lens nothing was offered as they already had several 
  • for the 75-300 zoom again nothing was offered as it needed a service.  The focus was too slow and soft. 
This gave me food for thought.

I decided to go back and ask for a refund.  This was given without any quibble or hesitation.
I also decided to get a new model as a cash back was offered on new ones.
If I waited until after Christmas I might just get a further discount.
So it transpired

I am the owner of a Sony RX10M4 

There is only a very small instruction manual to help one get started so I have bought a manual from Amazon (the only place I could get it.  For ethical reason I try not to use Amazon).


Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Winter Solstice

It may almost be Christmas but for me the most important day is The Winter Solstice.
This is the shortest day.

Many people celebrate this special occasion by visiting Stonehenge for the sunrise.
I have often thought of doing this but unfortunately dogs are not allowed.

So my usual way of celebrating this occasion is a special dog walk.
Pearl is only too happy to celebrate with me.

Now I can look forward the afternoon dog walk taking place in daylight.-Hooray

Soon going out in my motorhome will be more practicable.. 
The days will be long enough for me to be do long walks at my usual leisurely pace;

  •  exploring my surroundings
  • appreciating the countryside 
  • talking to any and all passers by.
At this time of year there is not enough daylight for me to do this.

The sun does not rise until 8.04am and sets just under eight hours later at 3.45pm.  
In this country there is a long sunrise and sunset which means more hours of daylight.

This was especially noticeable on my recent trip to Africa.  
Once the sun went below the horizon it quickly became dark. 
So there is less difference between the number of hours of sunlight between winter and summer.

Sunrise was seemingly early (about 5am) and sunset was early evening (about 6pm).  Not especially late.  As a consequence of this and because of the hot weather the rhythm of the day is different.

The day starts early because this is a cool time.
so there is much activity.
Afternoons are hot and everything slows.
During the cool of the evening and night activity increases.

This applies to animals as well as people. 




Sunday, 15 December 2019

Photographs

Just about everyone who was on the Southern Africa motorhome tour
I recently completed took many many photographs.


The question which kept popping into my mind was

"What happens to all these photographs"






Despite asking several people, the answers were vague.
I suppose one factor is the quality of the photographs.
But then what if you have 300 fabulous photos.








I didn't take as many photos as I expected because of my faulty lens.

The other lens was not suitable for wildlife unless I was really close.









Even so on closer inspection on returning home I am surprised at how many good photos I have.

(I decided to use this opportunity to exhibit more of my photos.  I hope you like them)







What have I done with them?

I have posted only a few on Facebook;








several on this blog;













compiled a calendar for family and close friends.











What am I going to do with the rest?

I have no idea apart from possibly a photo book of the trip (Like the old fashioned photo albums)






What do you do with your photos?
Any suggestions are welcome.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Africa (Part 4) Scenery

"In for a penny in for a pound" as the saying goes.

Long distance to travel 
If I was going all the way to South Africa I might as well visit neighbouring countries if there was the opportunity.
There was. So I did.

Hence my journey through Botswana,. Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls only) and Namibia.

One of the first thing I noticed was how very large these countries were.

As a consequence of this the distances that needed to be covered were enormous; a lot of driving on all kinds of roads (see Africa (part 2) Roads).

A Sandy Road through a village



Due to the lack of rainfall and the hot sunny weather a monochrome brown cloaked everything including many towns and villages probably as a result of the incessant dust.

Stony Desert





It may have been exceptionally difficult to spot animals, even the big ones unless they were quite close but the scenery was stunning; even the scrubland dotted with the bare branches stabbing the sky, the sandy desert and stony vistas.





Here are a small selection of photos that I took, Which is your favourite?  Do let me know.
Sandy Desert



Much of Namibia is desert;
sandy and stony







Even the vegetation lacks colour












Some Green Places

And wide plains
Top of rocky mountains

A mountain range





A dry river canyon