On Tour NC 500 – Day 1

“Doris” loaded and ready to go – Liz decided on her own preparation.

OK this is slightly different from my usual blogs because it is about travelling.

Now for those who don’t know – numbering billions – we have a motorhome and when I say motorhome I’m not talking about an over the top USA style RV but a modest two berth version we call Doris.

Why Doris?

Well why not?

Anyway the plan is to travel north and do what is called the Scotland NC 500 starting at Inverness going up the east coast around the top of Scotland and returning down the west coast and across country back to Inverness.

Except of course you have to travel 700 miles from where we live in South Devon to reach the start point which in itself is not as easy as it sounds.

Anyway this morning after after weeks of planning and loading Doris up with all of the essentials, wine, gin, whisky etc we set off.

Now I should say at this point that I’ll be writing this – for want of a better word – travelog – every day for the next four weeks and throughout there will be some digressions which I’m going to announce with A:- that will simply be things that have occurred to me as we travel along.

Please don’t expect them to be earth shatteringly important or even interesting as they will simply be the meanderings of a lost mind.

Anyway this morning Thursday 31 May 2018 with the house and cat sitter all in place and bang on time at 0930 we set off.

The first stop was to be Grassington, Skipton, Yorkshire which is a journey of 285 miles and should have taken just over five and a half hours most of which is motorway driving.

So no start for us travelling through England’s green and pleasant land it was mostly all motorways and road works.

A:- why is it that when you have planned – meticulously I might add – to travel that within 10 miles someone (OK in this case Liz) asks “have we forgotten anything”? 

As if I would remember and if I had I wouldn’t have forgotten it.

This could be a very long month.

Anyway two hours into the journey we arrived Gloucester Services on the M5 – which by today’s standards is quite good for the M5 -.

For those who haven’t stopped at Gloucester I’d recommend it as perhaps the best service station on any of the U.K. motorways.

A:- This is for the kids of those parents whose life size photos are used near roadworks saying such things as “my dad/mum works here please drive safely”.

They are bloody lying to you, they don’t work there in fact in the majority of cases nobody is working on closed off motorway sections.

Kids find out what your parents are really doing for a living because it must be something they are ashamed of such as being a politician, lawyer or perhaps something less shameful like being on the game.

And while I’m on the subject Highways England your maths stink.

I say this with real certainty having passed a sign that said “roadworks for the next five miles time to the end in five minutes”

Now even I know that 60mph equals a mile a minute so how did they work out that five miles at 50mph would take five minutes?

Right back to the main event of travelling to Skipton.

Our journey took us past Birmingham – why would anyone voluntarily want to live in Birmingham with their tortuous road network is beyond me – past Manchester and along the M62 toward as Leeds where we came off the motorway via Burnley towards Skipton.

I can’t help thinking that perhaps we have named our towns and villages with the simple aim of confusing not only foreign visitors to these shores but also anyone who has the temerity to visit from outside of the immediate geographical area.

Let me explain – we passed ‘Rottenstall’ spelled Rawtenstall, past Clithero (which reminded me of listening to Jimmy Clithero in the Clithero kid on a Sunday morning when I was a youngster) and then left Lancashire via Colne (pronounced Cone).

Now I know Lancastrians don’t like people leaving especially if they are going into Yorkshire but whoever designed the traffic system in Colne has surpassed themselves in making it as difficult  – and as slow as possible – to get through the town.

Perhaps I should explain that even though we are on our way from the South West of England to Scotland – which as everyone knows is a different country – what some may not realise – and especially non-UK citizens reading this – is that to do so you have to go through the largest geographical county in England a place called Yorkshire.

Now Yorkshire people are Yorkshire first, English second – there is no third – and in actual fact in many cases the second option is also Yorkshire.

That’s not to say people born and bred in Yorkshire don’t love the rest of the United Kingdom – they do – but mainly because it acts as a barrier and keeps the sea off Yorkshire.

Effectively then Yorkshire would love to be independent which as we left Colne was highlighted by a sign saying “You Are Now Entering the Historic West Riding of Yorkshire”.

None of this new fangled Government imposed against the people’s wishes South or West Yorkshire here – this is and always will be the “West Riding”

And so on past Skipton to the village Grassington and our first stop over en-route and the first mishap of the trip which in reality was my complete and utter cock up.

I took the wrong turning in Grassington and ended up down a narrow lane so being a smart arse I thought I’d reverse into an entrance, turn around and retrace my route.

Except that I got stuck and couldn’t get enough – and how Doris tried – traction to get out of the steep drive and back on to the road.

It was then that an elderly gentleman pulled up behind me who himself was trapped behind Doris.

He would have been entitled to have been angry but no he simply phoned the owner of the Hedgerow Coffee and Souvenir shop in Grassington who turned up with his land rover and proceeded to tow me out on to the road.

What a star and all he asked for when I offered to pay him was that we call and have a coffee at his place.

So clear evidence that the people of the West Riding of Yorkshire are amongst the nicest people you could wish to meet anywhere.

Anyway we are now here on the Wharfedale Caravan and Motorhome site where the dogs who have been caged in the motorhome for three hours – and were going mental – have now recovered having had a long walk and been fed.

We’ve had dinner and as I write this I’m about to have my third gin and tonic so perhaps it’s time to end Day 1.

When it will get published is anyone’s guess because whatever those in positions of power say about technological advances one thing is certain – access to the bloody internet across the UK is worse than rubbish so it may mean two or three being published on the same day.

In the meantime I’m off to catch Liz up in the G and T stakes.