Yatton Hill Common

Yatton Hill and Yarpole

In my last post, I described how, being cheap-skates, we’d avoided paying the £17 entrance fee to Croft Castle in Herefordshire, simply by not going. Our frugality had been rewarded by the discovery of a fossil at Fishpool Valley and a friendly tête-a-tête with some aggressive squirrels. Now, as we battled against time, we found ourselves at the top of Yatton Hill Common, wondering whether it was feasible to grab a pint in The Riverside Inn at the nearby village of Aymestrey and still make it back to our camper van Betsy, pitched at Home Farm Caravan and Campsite, before dark…

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Fishpool Valley, Yarpole

I Found Something at Fishpool Valley

Ruthie was at it again.

She was trying to be discreet but, as I passed by the closed bedroom door on my way downstairs, I could hear the old familiar noises emanating from within.

There were sighs. Occasional gasps.

But it was the sporadic rustle of paper that told me she was looking at maps. I tutted, shook my head, and made my way into the kitchen where a bowl of cereal awaited my attention.

I looked down into the bowl and leered disapprovingly at the contents, like a bipolar tea-leaf reader on a bad day. I tutted again. They still haven’t learnt. Even after the phone call…

Year: 1999

I was on the phone to the Complaints Division at Kellogs.

‘Kellogs Complaints Department?’ the voice said on the end of the phone.

‘Hello, yes, I’d like to make a complaint,’ I said politely.

‘OK, what seems to be the problem?’

‘It’s these Choco Krispies. They do something weird to the milk.’

‘Really? What type of weird?’

He’d hit me with a stumper. ‘Well, you know… it, I mean the Krispies, they -’

‘No I don’t know. Would you care to tell me more?’

Here we go. Following the Complaints Procedure routine without actually listening to what I was saying.

‘What are you saying, exactly?’ the man on the phone asked.

So, the precocious little shit reads minds now does he?

‘These Krispies… They-’

‘What about our Choco Krispies? Have you been sold an out-of-date box?’

‘No, not that. They -’

‘Have you found a foreign object in the box’s contents?’

‘No… ‘ (deep breath), ‘It’s just that -’

‘Did you buy the Choco Krispies from a reputable retailer? Are they genuine? Have you got the barcode and a receipt of purchase? We offer a full money refu-’

‘NO!!! They keep turning my milk … erm … “chocolatey”.’


‘Hello?’ I asked.

‘Oh My God!’ the voice on the other end spewed, ‘That’s fuckin’ genius!’

The line went dead.

A couple months later and Kellogs had changed the name to Coco Pops and the rest is history…

Back to the present…

[Note: To protect myself from a lawsuit, the above conversation did not happen, I never phoned Kellogs, I've made it all up just to get a cheap laugh and to lead into the following...]

Ruthie appeared in the kitchen with a beaming grin. I stirred the contents of my cereal bowl around thoughtfully as the chocolate slid off the “pops” and dissolved into the milk.

‘Do you think if I just bought normal Rice Krispies and put them into a bowl of chocolate milkshake it would taste the same?’ I asked.

‘What!?’ Ruthie barked, perplexed.

I shrugged. ‘Never mind, why the big grin? I thought we were going out in Betsy this weekend?’

‘We are!’ Ruthie boomed, ‘We’re off to The Borders! Load up Betsy, we’re leaving in an hour!’

And so, within the hour, we were off and heading towards Home Farm in the village of Bircher in North Herefordshire. Just south of Shropshire, just east of Wales…

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Ken selling his Wares on the Llangollen Canal Near Marbury

Sticky Willy at Whitchurch

Sometimes you wake up in the morning and wonder what the day will bring. Maybe you’ll find some money, meet a soul mate, kiss a stranger or shake hands with a farmer. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that, a mere four hours beyond my hypnopompic slumber, not only would I have a sticky willy in my hands, but Ruthie would be taking photos and begging to have a go…

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National Bongo Bash 2014 in Stourport

Betsy at The National Bongo Bash 2014

It was time for Betsy to rub shoulders with her sisters, so we spent a fabulous day and night at The National Bongo Bash in Stourport on Severn, an event organised by Bongo Fury for its members to meet up and drool over each other’s campervans and Heath Robinson innovations.

This was the 12th Bash with an expected 150+ Bongos descending on the Lickhill Manor campsite. There was fun and frolics, craft stalls, excellent camping facilities, electric hook-ups and live music. Some even turned up in vans other than Mazda Bongos or Ford Fredas. And with the bustling town centre a mere lazy stroll along the river from the campsite (perhaps half a mile), the event proved too good to miss.

So off we went…

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Matt from Thornfalcon Motors fixes Betsy

Betsy Spits Her Dummy Out in Somerset!

She was beautiful. With skin as black as coal and silky smooth. Young and nubile. Her name was Freda and we loved her.

Betsy didn’t.

Betsy wasn’t impressed that Freda was an X Reg.

Betsy didn’t care that Freda had immaculate bodywork.

Betsy took no notice of Freda’s Thule tow bar mounted bike carrier.

Betsy hates Ford Fredas. She says they’re mere charlatans trying to be Mazda Bongos. Mutton dressed as lamb.

Betsy said nothing as we raced over to Freda to admire her expensive gadgetry. She would have her say when it was time to go home. A woman scornedContinue reading