Having returned from the VINCE trip to Spain I had a visit from my brother Chris and also from Georgina, which was followed by a trip to the UK to visit all the family. This post shows a collection of photos from the visits with some notes on the highlights – the mostly cold and wet UK weather not being one of them !
Chris was over for a week with the main objective of doing some trail riding on motorbikes, but we did manage to fit in a bit of DIY as well. As a bonus, we foraged some parasol mushrooms on one trip out which were lovely on toast for lunch.
I had been having recurring problems with my drains becoming blocked and had already dug a few holes trying to find the source of the problem. Each time I unblocked the pipe it seemed to get clogged again after a few weeks which was very frustrating. With Chris’ help we managed to pinpoint the blockage and dig yet another hole to get access to the pipe.
The “root” cause of the problem turned out to be roots from a Virginia Creeper that used to grow on the North end of the house. It seemed that when the pool was installed, and the builders were putting in a trench to get water and electrical supplies from the house, they had fractured the waste pipe and made a bodged repair. The repair was not fully water tight and over the last twenty years the roots had gradually worked their way inside the pipe. We remade the repair and then encased the pipe in concrete for good measure.
Another job I had been putting off until a rainy day was to cut up a load of scrap wood to make kindling – I now have enough to last all winter and probably the next one too.
It wasn’t all work though – we did manage to get out on the bikes most days, usually involving a cafe stop en route.
Georgina came over for a week after Chris’ visit on her way to spend Christmas in Canada and it was her birthday while she was here.
Having taken George back to the airport it was time for me to set off on my long drive to the UK, stopping off at Alexander’s place in Limoges to drop Hebe off for her holiday.
On the way up North I stopped for a break at a services that overlooks the Somme – it seemed very bleak and deserted.
I had an overnight stay in Calais before catching the train the next day and took the opportunity to go for a run along the beach.
I went to an “Au Bureau” for dinner and ordered one of their craft beers which was served in a very odd glass with a special wooden stand.
Arrived at Chris and Corinne’s smallholding near Newcastle to find Chris had been playing with a new toy – a 3D printer. I suggested he could make a cover for the steering wheel lock on my KTM to replace the scrap of duck tape I’m currently using to stop water getting in – and he obliged. Having now got home I can confirm that it fits and does the job perfectly.
The first job on the farm was to empty tons of stones from the big trailer, where they had been dumped since building the extension of the house. Now that the trailer was needed for mucking out the barn they had to be moved. The plan was to use the smaller stones to fill in ruts that had been made by the tractor when taking feed to the animals in the lower fields.
The next job was mucking out the barn ready for calving animals. It had not been done for a while and was a foot deep in places and far too matted and heavy to shift by hand. No problem when you have a tractor with forks.
On my previous visits there seemed to be so much to do we never left the farm to go anywhere else. But this visit coincided with Chris’ birthday and Corinne had arranged to go into Durham for lunch. This was a trip down memory lane as both Chris and I were at University in Durham and have fond memories of the place. We were treated to this view almost daily on the way to and from lectures.
The new barn has a bit of a flooding problem and Chris wanted to install a drainage pipe, which required digging a trench across the floor. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be done with a machine as there is a water pipe running across the floor somewhere and he didn’t want to rupture it and start another flood. This meant we had to dig the trench by hand and the earth floor was so compacted it was like concrete – and we never found the water pipe.
The final job for this visit was knocking in some fence posts. A simple job you would think but some of the posts were massive – made from old telegraph poles. Fortunately Chris had a new attachment for the tractor to play with – a hydraulic post knocker with a 350Kg hammer.
From Newcastle I headed over to Preston to spend some time with sister Sara. While my time with Chris seems to involve manual work, getting together with Sara usually involves lots of running and walking.
Sara’s eldest daughter Zoe had recently given birth to twins (Rowan and Freya) and it’s a full time job looking after them together with Rory so Grandma Sara (known as GaGa) often steps in to help.
We went out for the day with Rory to the seaside at Lytham (where all the rich people retire).
We had a few trips out to Rivington – a moor near Chorley, and spent some time trying to find a memorial of a Wellington bomber crash that happened during the war as well as the usual exploring of the abandoned house and gardens.
I spent a weekend with Felicity and family in Manchester and took the opportunity to help out with a bit of DIY. The main job was to redecorate Peter’s room – new flooring, new bed, repainted and new curtains.
It was now time to head south to visit Lucy and Family in Horsham and pop in to see Nanna. I stopped off at a biker’s cafe near Box Hill in Surrey.
As the cafe was closing one of the staff came out and offered me a hot pastie for free, which I was delighted to accept.
From my hotel in Horsham I was able to get out for a run each morning around Warnham village and deer park.
After a month away it now feels very Autumnal here and a lot colder than I would like – time to plan my winter trip to Portugal and Morocco…