29. 5 girls, 1 mum and topsy

I'm pleased to report that Topsy didn't breakdown today! Yay... and she also coped with 5 excitable girls, two traffic jams, and me, and got us to Hamsterly Forest where we saw another bay camper!and then up on to the moors for a picnic and some mineral specimen hunting, good fun!


28. Weardale again, and another breakdown

You know the feeling, a glorious sunny friday afternoon, just finished work, and you think to yourself "well lets do it, we'll just throw stuff into the van and be off!". So we did, and ended up at Westgate in Weardale, here in fact, and after a lovely picnic tea ...

we had a lovely few pints at the local pub, sitting right next to the river (saw bats, lots of midgies, trout, dippers, swifts) and it was very very nice!!!. Poor Topsy still doesn't have curtains, since I've hurt me arm I've been unable to finish her off inside, but we managed to stick the old curtains up with gaffa tape, and I had an undisturbed nights sleep. not even Roger getting up to close the sky light for a downpour woke me!!

Then it was off to the moors for breakfast, far too hot to go anywhere but high! (saw no adders but did see lots of rabbits, partridge, grouse chicks, unknown bird of pray, sheep, dragon fly etc)

And then it was time to go down to the river to cool our feet in the water (saw two heron!). Everything was going well at this point, lovely weather, good company, good food, nice cups of tea, what could possibly go wrong?! Well, Topsy, that's what could go wrong, she just didn't start, same symptoms as the time she didn't start a few months ago, in as much as she didn't start. Cue the getting out of the 'complete idiot's guide to vw's' book, going through it step by tedious step, but with no tools apart from a craft knife! We think that the loose battery connection came off in transit, so the battery didn't charge up enough to start Topsy until I'd flattened the damn battery. But in my haste to get away for the weekend I'd left my mobile at home, that would be the mobile with the breakdown folks number in it, , and Roger's phone had very little credit on it... So I eventually got through to my work, and got me boss Carly to go on the internet to find the number for the breakdown folks, she tried but it wasn't there! The only number that was there got through to a recorded message informing me that office hours were monday to friday!!! Arrghh, so now no credit left on Rogers phone, so what else is there to do but walk to the local pub, up a hill, in sweltering temperatures, and panic over a pint and a J20...

we were very hot and very tired but not overly happy!

After a bit of a sit it was inspiration and desperation time, another phone call to work and Carly managed to find Ray's number, he's in the same vw club as me, and I knew that some of the members of that vw club (durham dubbers) are covered for breakdowns by the same company as me, so maybe, just maybe, he could get the number that I so needed... ... after a while he rang the pub back and by some miracle he'd manged to get the number, oh thank goodness!! After a tense phone call to the breakdown folks to see if I was covered, it was a less tense wait for the truck.... The recovery guy, Allan, was fantastic - he got Topsy charged up and running in no time at all, it must be great to be a mechanic!

All in all a lovely weekend, but thanks to Carly, Ray, Nic and Allan, they definitely saved the day!


Then it was straight home and off to the pub, where we discovered it was flying ant day, and watched lots of queen ants then smaller drones take off into the the pale dusk skies, ahh!


27. Belle's birthday (from march)

Well, I've finally found the photo's from Belinda's birthday outing with her four of her mates, first to Billingham to go ice skating - very traumatic for me as two of the four girls needed medical attention from falling over on the ice, I'll think twice before agreeing to that sort outing again! We were meant to go to the forbidden corner again but the snow put me off travelling that far! After ice skating and medics it was off to the seaside for birthday cake and a picnic, the weather was freezing, but the girls still enjoyed playing by the sea!


26. Topsy takes us caving

Well, Topsy has been performing magnificently, a couple of weeks ago she got 5 females to Bradford, even with a rather long detour to avoid the stationary traffic jam on the A1, and we discovered we knew where Lightwater valley is, though the 3 girls in the back were quite devastated when we drove straight past it! Well done to Karen for navigating at short notice, she isn't too keen on reading maps and it must have been a bit shocking for her when I decided the stress of moving a mile an hour was too much for me, so it was B roads all the way!! Still, if you're gonna get stuck in traffic then take the B roads, Topsy is the ideal vehicle to do it in, as she's brimming with books and games to keep bored kids entertained for what turned into a 3 n 3/4 hour journey, there, and two hours back! Then a bit of a rest untill the next adventure!!!

It was that Saturday panic again, the kids off school but the weather lousy, just where could we have a fun day out?? Rog suggested going underground, but we've been in enough mines, so how about going caving instead. No, not with ropes and head torches, diving through icy cold water and scrambling through rabbit size gaps - that kind of caving is for braver less claustrophobic folks than us! We set of to White Scar Caves, not far from the home of Wensleydale cheese (we like that cheese), beneath Ingleborough hill. Topsy couldn't fit through the cave entrance so we had to leave her in the car park whilst we went underground...
It cost a whopping £21 for the four of us to go in, but we all agreed it was actually well worth spending that sort of cash to see the delights inside... Roughly an 80 min walk, the tour is fantastic, with and underground waterfall or two, eerie flow stone and stalactites and stalagmites, all in weird and wonderful shapes. We were lucky as the recent downpours (some of which we drove through) turned the sometimes trickling stream that runs through part of this cave system into a raging torrent, very exciting!
Afterwards we headed back down the road towards Hawes, stopping for a pie and pint (well, Rog had the pint, we had fruit juice!) at the Station Inn next to Ribblehead viaduct, their award winning pork pies got the thumbs up from us. Just next to the pub you can see underwater streams emerging from the limestone and disappearing back in!?! Whilst we were exploring these we watched the rain sweeping towards us from the hills, and only just made it back into Topsy before the squall soaked us. But it gave me enough time to make coffee before we set off again.

The weather on the way home was patchy, sunny one second then huge rain storms the next, but we made it home with no troubles, well done Topsy, who got us out of Aycliffe again!


25. pics of the rear seats

pics of the rear seats which went into Topsy, thanks Mel for all your help!!