11. Jun, 2021


FRIDAY 11-06-21

Neither of us slept too well last night. The wind got up yesterday evening and we spent the night bouncing about as the wind rocked the vehicle, it is very easy to sleep through that, but as always we had the skylight in the lounge locked in the half open position and I just lay there wondering if it would cope ok, or whether I should get up and close it.

As a result we were up at 07:00, and when I offered to turn the boiler on for some hot water The Chef said that she too would go over to the toilet & shower block. I was pleased about that as we both need to be on the same page when it comes to our return to 'normality'.

After scrubbing up I went to the laundry room to wash the towels, which normally dry pretty quickly but didn't do so today because we then got some fine drizzle along with the wind. Eventually we reached a point where it was a one step forward and two steps backwards and so I got the electric ceramic fan heater out, placed it in the bathroom where I erected a wooden rail above the shower tray and attempted to dry them that way.

I eventually had to admit defeat as we were getting short of time and needed to hit the road. The loo was empty, the fresh water tank was two thirds full and all we then had to do was  dump our grey water. As usual we had to queue behind a motorhome who's owners had a drainage pipe the size of a gnats willie, from which they stood fascinated as the last half a pint of waste water slowly dribbled out of the tank. Eventually they gave up and got out of our way. Our donkey's dangler-sized water valve and pipe ensured we were soon empty and ready to roll.

Our first stop was a Co-op garage which, following a Google search and phone call established that they have an LPG pump. Our first 11kg tank is getting low. Normally it would last us ages but with so many campsites keeping their shower blocks closed, and the nights still feeling rather cool up here we're using more gas to heat water, provide hot air central heating first thing in the morning, and power the fridge whenever we are stationary, but not hooked up to mains electricity.

Two miles out of town we arrived at the garage and parked on to the 'Autogas' pump. Following the connection instructions for the pump I prepared to fill our cylinders via the exterior filling point. Pressing the pump button I watched the amount discharged rise by pennies to the incredible amount of six pence, then nothing. The Chef went in and paid the amount we owed in order that I could have another crack at it. Having connected up again and pressed the button up in went, four pence, ten pence, sixteen pence - and that was it, nothing else. The air was blue whilst The Chef went in to pay yet again. She came out to tell me that "Yes, some people do have a problem with the pump". I gave up. It was so annoying as I was relying on topping the tanks up to give us the confidence to use as much as we needed whenever we needed it. Oh well our next stop was an out of town shopping complex near Bishop Auckland (NN54.639728° W1.697072°) where we'd buy a few bits and pieces, kill some time and then make our way to our evening accommodation. Once we'd finished at the shopping centre we made our way to a local Morrison's supermarket filling station in the hope that they sold LPG, but no, not this one.

On the way here we passed a castle which looked very impressive, far more so than the pile of rubble back at Barnard Castle. It was called Raby Castle www.raby.co.uk.

So off we went through a very busy Bishop Auckland before arriving here at The Green Tree pub and restaurant (N54.714021° W1.596871°) www.thegreentree.co.uk members of the Britstop scheme www.britsops.com . We are booked in for two nights, and are fortunate enough to be the only motorhome here.

It really is a lovely pub with a nice restaurant which we sampled having booked a table for 18:30. I treated myself to a chicken stir fry whilst The Chef had lambs liver. The food was lovely and their priced are very reasonable. As The Chef observed - this is the best pub we've been to on this trip and it's the cheapest food. As well as the food The Chef had a glass of red wine and I ended up drinking two pints of 'Shipwreck' beer which was most enjoyable.

After our meal we went for a little walk around Tudhoe village, soon coming across a former phone box which was now being used as a village library. Those were the days. Life was a lot simpler then when we weren't all communicating with our own pocket phones, which of course caused the demise of the phone box. When mobile phones were introduced they were the size of a house brick with an extending aerial sticking out of the top, but over the years they've become so much smaller and can do so much more. But now we seem to be going the other way. I bought a new one recently and it's too big to stick comfortably in my pocket, too heavy to clip to my trouser belt without fearing they'll get pulled down with the weight, and more complex than it needs to be. Even the phone's camera has not one but four lenses, so now I have to be careful how I put it down in case I scratch the lenses. At this rate it won't be long before phones are back to being the size of a house brick, though they'll probably do so much more. We'll be able to sit and control drones on the far side of the moon, watch movies on a sixty-inch screen which unfolds from a compartment in the back, and talk live to our Amazon 'Alexa' sat at home spying on us. Who would have believed there would ever be a market for such a thing? So thinking about it, how does Alexa cope with an owner with a stutter, or worse still one suffering from Tourett's Syndrome? Imagine Alexa being bombarded with profanities all day and trying to give answers to them.

Given the number of ways software and hardware can spy on us, even video doorbells are used by the police and Google etc to examine the images, and my phone regularly asks me if I've enjoyed a visit to wherever I've just been. Add to that people willingly sharing personal images and information about themselves via facebook and other social media platforms, I predict somebody will step forward and suggest that society should banish mobile phones and introduce phone boxes in all towns and villages where members of the public can contact each other without fear of being spied on or insulted. This will be lauded as a groundbreaking idea something that had never been thought of before and they'll probably get a knighthood for it.

Wokies will have won their 'Alexa Has Feelings' campaign when police will be gaining access to the homes of those with speech impediments and the Tourett's sufferers and rescuing their Alexa to be sent back to Amazon for reprogramming and therapy.

Imagine then, Geoff Bezos, the multi-billionaire owner of Amazon stranded in space orbiting the earth during an unsuccessful tenth space mission. Semi conscious from a lack of food and water, he remembers he bought an Alexa with him. Saved! "Alexa" he says, "How do we get this spacecraft safely back to earth?"

"SH*T, F*CK, B*GGER" was the reply.

Tomorrow we are out for the day. The Chef is so excited, she just can't wait. We will return here to The Green Tree tomorrow for another evenings hospitality.