‘Where art thou Rosie?’ I hear you ask.

This retirement lark is so busy. I thought that once retirement came I’d have ‘time’. Time for what I hear you ask.

Well, I wanted time for sewing and crafts and I certainly do that, but maybe not as much as I’d like.

I wanted time with my grandchildren and children. I get that but perhaps not as often as I’d like. The one on the right is an honorary grandchild-in-law (that’s probably not a word!)

I wanted to give something back to the community and I do that by volunteering at the community library and the church, but maybe that takes up a bit more time than I’d like.

It’s been a difficult couple of years with family illness and funerals (13 in all). So I’ve made myself some promises and hoping for more Rosie time in the future.

All I want to do is sit by Rosie, our campervan, reading a good book and watch the sun setting over the ocean. That would be heaven.

So to get me started we travelled to Yorkshire parking up on the North Yorkshire Moors at Egton. The site was the Lady Cross Plantation Camping and Caravanning site. It was a quiet, pretty site set amongst a tree plantation and was ideally placed above Grosmont where we were to meet our friend Barbara. Hi Rosie 🤗

Barbara is someone we met in Florida and is a friend of my best friend Pauline who lives out there. Anyways Barbara was over visiting family and friends and then she was doing the coast to coast walk from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire. A total of 192 miles.

What you need to know about Barbara is that she just goes for stuff, real adventure stuff, nothing by halves; sometimes with a friend, but sometimes on her own. She’s a bit of a dare devil in my book and I admire that she can just go off and do this stuff even if she’s just a little mad crazy (and sometimes gets lost) – and I mean that in a sincere heartfelt way. And best of all she makes me smile.

Anyways we met her and her friend Anne when they reached Grosmont with one last stretch to go.

We shared dinner with them at the Geall Gallery where a new cafe has opened and where they were staying. The plan was we’d be their Sherpa van to Robin Hood’s Bay and we would be there to clap them in. As you can see from the map the last few miles were on The Cleveland Way so we walked along there to meet them.

The views were stunning over the bay, and the wild flowers were abundant as was the sunshine.

We were having a glorious walk.

The other thing that was important to Barbara and Anne was that it was the 4 July, so we had a little plan.

They were so excited, firstly to see the sea, then to see us and lastly to hear the Star Spangled Banner playing.

And some of the friends they made along the way also arrived so we took this picture. Happy, proud of themselves and exhausted. And actually we weren’t yet at the end! We all walked on and showed them their B&B where we had left Rosie.

We waited in the van whilst they showered and then we spotted one of Billypops’ heroes, Martin Carthy, helping someone park a car. I said to him go and say hello, but he wouldn’t. So I did. A very nice man, happy to chat and Billypops finally got out of Rosie and said hello in a starstruck (or was that dumbstruck?) sort of way.

After a while we walked with the girls for a well-earned pint at the pub in the bay which has the official sign marking the end of the coast to coast, where you can dip your toe in the water if you wish.

Very pleased girls that we contributed and celebrated your achievement.

And also gave us a taste of what we had missed all these months – Rosie.

Up the swanny without a paddle

Well you know how this all started, with a statement that I don’t do camping.  Obviously with over a year of camping in Rosie under my belt this statement is no longer really true.  However the idea of being under canvas camping still doesn’t fill me with enthusiasm.  Now I never said I wouldn’t, couldn’t or shouldn’t, just that it’s not my preferred accommodation when there are perfectly good alternatives with private bathrooms and a comfortable bed in hotels and motels abound.

So here I am with my best friend Pauline, and then her daughter Jessica invites us to go upstate to the woods to camp for Mother’s Day.  Several things to point out here.  Pauline lives in Florida; Mother’s Day is in May in the US and Jessica has just moved down here so it’s her first Mother’s Day with Pauline in a while; upstate may have less alligators but there are plenty of other critters to sneak into tents.  So what to do…..cheer and go of course.

Well guys, there is camping and there is camping. You have never seen so much gear put in the back of the car, so much so that we nearly had to leave the men at home.image After a couple of hours driving and a stop for breakfast at a Bob Evans, we arrived at our destination Ichetucknee Springs Campground.  This is a beautiful rustic campsite in the heart of Spring country with most of the amenities that you’d need.

So let’s unpick this a bit more.  It is a very beautiful place. With luscious canopies of trees when you look up.image The main lodge has great family facilities in a games room and there are places to sit out.  The toilet and washing facilities however are small and few for a campsite the size it is and I did have a tendency to check around for spiders which I expected to be like most American things large in comparison to anything at home. Think they must have been hiding!

So we pitched the tents in our pitch which had running water and hook up – yes I know we are camping but they are trying their best here to give me home comforts.

imageThe best comfort however was to come when Jessica and Trevor arrived with a queen size air bed which raises two feet off the ground, bought especially for me – the princess!  And it was very thoughtful of you Jess and very comfortable. Thank you.

Whilst waiting for the air bed to arrive we went off site to look for somewhere to eat and found The Gathering Place . Great food and great service.  As we were driving out we realised that we were by the Suwannee River, made a joke by singing ‘Way down on the Swanee River’ then realised that we actually were by the said same river. We were as excited as an alligator in a fish pond.  Wikipedia tells me this was written in 1851 by Stephen Foster and has actually the Florida State Song since 1935 although the original lyrics were censored in 2008.

image imageimageimageAlthough by the look of the sign on the last photo it could be a dangerous place!

After a great sleep on the queen size air bed we were treated by Jess on Mother’s Day to Mimosas and bacon and sausage sandwiches (actually cooked by Jim) and fruit pies.  imageGood job Jess, and Pauline arranged some crafts to keep us amused.

Now one thing you need to know about Dubber aka Billypops is that when he comes to the US he seems to want to become Chevy Chase aka Clark Griswald. I don’t know what the fascination is but well he just has to keep reminding us of the Griswald Vacation movies – very worrying when you think that we are camping and when the Griswalds camped they got in a bind with bears and raccoons and all sorts of beasties. (You promised no bears, Jess).

imageAnyway please see our creation over breakfast…we’re crazy, crazy!

Day 2 of this Griswald adventure sees us going off to Ichetucknee Springs.  imageThe springs are famous for being beautifully clear and absolutely pure and they work really hard to keep them that way so there are strict rules in the State Park on what you can do where.

You can kayak some stretches, swim in deep pools with underwater caves or as our gang did tube.image

Now you’re going to keep getting fed up with me with things I don’t do but I’m not a water babe, although I have tubed before.  What I did need though was exercise so whilst the gang went off tubing, I carried the shoes and went off on a trail on my own.  I imagine myself like Cheryl Strayed walking through the woods on my own, in 90 degree heat, hearing noises in bushes, being adventurous, seeing the wildlife, being brave and so it was, but always 10 feet away from the Tarmac road which takes the little tram from each site of the springs!

Anyways we all survived our adventure whether in land or water.  And the learning points this trip?

 image

1 I do love being outdoors when it’s warm

2 A queen size air bed is do-able when you’re camping

3 Citronella bracelets are effective at keeping the bugs at bay but only from waist height upwards. Note to self investigate citronella ankle bracelets next time.

4 Breakfast is really good cooked outside and served with Mimosas.

5 I can go ‘Wild’ on my own

6 Adventures are best with friends. Thanks Pauline, Jim, Jess and Trevor for a great weekend.