Heidi the motorhome was announced ready for pick up by Cleveland Motorhomes and we drove down to Darlington keen to get a few days away. The pick up wasn’t straightforward. They waved us a cheery goodbye and we drove up the road only to discover a sinister clunking noise every time we changed gear. Back we went and I have to admit that by now I had a head of steam going, ready to tell them what I thought of the repair. Steve the workshop manager made an ill timed joke about us breaking it already – then he saw my face. He took it immediately back to the garage where the repair had been done and within the hour he was back with Heidi in full working order. We had planned to drive on up the Northumberland coast and on to East Lothian for a few days but this was scuppered by a call from the local hospital giving me an appointment for a routine test the very next day. We drove home, only stopping for tea in a lay-by. Once again we were reminded of the beauty of motorhome travel. We had a toilet, a kettle and a pot of chilli ready to heat up on the stove. Despite this, lying in bed that night exhausted, I have to admit to a few moments of doubt about whether motorhoming is still the best option for us. Nothing seemed to be simple and the many complications and restrictions on travel make our easy going touring of previous years seem like a distant memory. I’m happy to report that as I drifted off to sleep I began to remember all the happy times, the extraordinary places and people we’ve found along the way and the sheer luxury of travelling with your own bed and bathroom onboard. By morning I was back to loving it.
In between the occasional moments of doubt I have also been suffering withdrawal symptoms for a while now. These include combing the Search for Sites webpage for interesting places to stop, waking up in the night wondering if any golf courses have big enough car parks for an 8 metre motorhome and whimpering when I walk past Heidi’s parking place. Shirley has patiently endured me interrupting exciting TV dramas with questions like, “Do you think we’ll ever get back to Europe?” and “What do you think about a tour of Ireland? … oh no, you have to get a dog health certificate for Ireland … maybe we could get house sitters … oh buxxer, if we do that we might as well go to Spain.” I think it’s possible that my obsession has proved a challenge for my significant other.
The morning after we got Heidi back we set off for Eyemouth, a lovely seaside town in the Scottish Borders just a few short miles from the English border town of Berwick upon Tweed. There were two reasons for our choice. One was the discovery that Eyemouth Golf Club has a special deal for members of Borders golf clubs and the other was the fact that motorhomes can stay overnight in exchange for buying a meal in the Heathers Restaurant in the club house. I should say here that motorhomers who might want to do this must phone in advance as there is limited space.
We phoned the restaurant before we left and arranged to arrive in time for last orders at 5.45 p.m. Neither of us had visited the golf club before so we weren’t prepared for the wonderful views across the whole bay from the town on our left around the headland and spreading south towards the English border. We sat in the van with our mouths open, looking out to sea through Heidi’s huge wide windscreen. Before long we were upstairs in the clubhouse enjoying the same view and ordering our dinner. All the fish in this restaurant comes directly from the harbour daily. It could not possibly be fresher and the portion sizes are immense. I ordered haddock and chips and I swear it was really a whale. This huge fillet of fish in fresh, crispy batter hung over both sides of the plate. Shirley ordered lightly crumbed plaice and when it arrived it was two fillets. Somehow we made it through these enormous meals and after taking the dogs for their last comfort walk of the evening we fell into bed. The last thing I remember, after discussing our plans to play golf in the morning, was groaning and promising myself to order the smallest thing on the menu the next day.
We were up bright and early and in the pro shop with our filled in membership forms. For us, as members of Melrose golf club, membership at Eyemouth is less than half price. This is an extraordinary deal, given that it’s a massive championship course that runs along the cliff tops with wonderful sea views from every hole. Given its size we decided to rent a golf buggy, having been warned that just the walk around the course is challenging. We shot around the course, Shirley at the wheel singing the Flintstones tune and me squealing and hanging on to the totally inadequate arm rest whilst sliding side to side on the leather seat.
There is a particularly famous hole at Eyemouth. Golfing friends had tried to frighten us with lurid descriptions of its horrors but we thought they were exaggerating. There is, after all, a golfer’s version of the fisherman’s tale where a hole is described like something out of hell just to explain a rotten score. As soon as we approached it we realised that this hole is pure evil and we were appalled when we stood on the tee. You stand on one side of a deep ravine with the sea crashing into the rocks between you and the green on the other side. It’s a par 3 which, in case you’re not a golfer, means that you would expect to get the ball in the hole in 3 shots. Shirley and I watched in horror as one after another our balls sailed through the air and gracefully sank into the sea, missing the fairway by inches. The holes on this golf course have some great names. This one is called “Ah still no ken”, roughly translated as “I still have no idea how to play it”. Later we found another long and complicated hole with lots of water hazards called ‘Pishymere” – well named and deeply frustrating. Someone there has a very cruel sense of humour.
This decision to join a second golf club has come out of our determination to stop sulking about not getting our long European tours in winter. We plan to take trips throughout the winter months in the UK and make the most of it. We might be seen playing golf with icicles hanging from our noses but we’ll warm up in the club house eating fish and chips and developing a wide girth and spots. OK, I admit it, I still haven’t stopped sulking.
Water, water everywhere
Today was the day when we finally decided to disinfect the water system in the motorhome. It’s a tedious job but for the sake of our health we finally bit the bullet. First we ran all the fresh water into the waste tank then emptied the waste one bucket at a time. After that we filled her up with diluted food safe anti bacterial liquid before running it out again through the whole system including the hot water system. After emptying the cleaning fluid out we filled up again with a full tank of fresh water to rinse her out. We did this with the van parked outside our apartment and it involved a lot of walking backwards and forwards with a bucket and using a long hose from an outside tap around the corner. Unfortunately we also managed to fill the car parking area with water not once but twice as we overfilled the tanks. Our neighbours are patient types and no-one has complained (yet) about paddling to their cars.
Completing the Upgrade
When we bought this van we put money aside to get her into tip top condition. She’s an old lady and we knew we would have some work done to get in her the best condition. Hymers have a reputation for longevity so the plan is to have many years of enjoyment, once we get her fully sorted out. Earlier this week we left her in the tender care of Knowepark Motorhomes in Livingstone to have the gas struts on the drop down bed replaced and a new washbasin fitted. Next week she is going to Glasgow to be undersealed and later in the year we will have the seating area refurbished by Premier Furnishing in Ilkeston. After that we’ll live quietly while we nurse our finances back to health.
Autumn is approaching fast here in Scotland and it is a great time to visit this beautiful country. The midges are all but gone, the crowds of families have gone back to work or school and the autumn colours are beginning to appear. We can’t wait to get out and enjoy it.