PHOTOGRAPHS DECEMBER 2007
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I have several places that I stay in Caliburn when I'm up around the Forth and the Tay. One of these is at Culross, on the north bank of the Forth between Dunfermline and Kincardine.
Culross is a medieval town steeped in a rich history due to its wealth in coal and salt. It's now quite a tourist venue, and there are a couple of nice car parks here. This one is right at the western edge of town, right next to the rail line. It's not anything like as busy though as some of the other places I have stayed in the past and you can have a good night's sleep.
There are some public conveniences on site, in the white hut that you can see in the background of the pic. They were clean and tidy in summer, but I've no idea what they are like now, or whether they were even open.
Leaving Alloa after having witnessed Alloa Athletic play Ross County, the heavy rain we had encountered had turned to snow. My plan was to head down south towards Glasgow but the intensity of the snowfall put paid to that. I headed for the M80 and Stirling Services and the internet access while the weather sorted itself out. If it stopped snowing and melted, all well and good and I could move on. If the snow increased in intensity, then at least I'd be somewhere pretty safe and warm.
It stopped snowing a couple of hours later, but the snow was still loitering as you can see. I decided nevertheless to head off southwards and eventually found myself on an ASDA car park at Cumbernauld. There I stayed the night
Between Middleton Stoney and Weston on the Green I came across a useful lay-by. No facilities, but a useful neighbourhood wood. A couple of miles further on is the A34 and about half a mile in the Oxford direction is a Little Chef with nice clean toilets and reasonable coffee.
On the A43 itself between Northampton and the M40 are several similar lay-bys separated from the road and quite popular with truckers. These might be a more useful bet if you are planning on taking the M40 anywhere.
Another task that I was set was to be in Bracknell early one morning. And I'm no good early in the morning so I drove down the night before, and found a nice place to stay right by the M3 exit for Bagshot.
It's not normally the place you would associate with living in a van, but the presence of a scrap car advertising "cash paid for your unwanted vehicle" convinced me. If they can leave that car here, then Caliburn would be fine.
I dunno though - it was the noisiest place I've ever stayed. At least, that was what it sounded like and I had a night of interrupted dozing. I've slept with my head just inches from the roar of onrushing lorries on many occasions and had a good night's sleep, so I suppose I must have been on edge throughout the night, or the acoustics are all wrong.
The baying of the Hounds of the Baskervilles from the kennels next door once dawn broke didn't help much either, but that's the penalty for not looking around before you doze off. But I'll try here again just in case it was me and not the ambience.
No conveniences as you might expect, and this wasn't the kind of place to poke percy out of the sliding door either. Definitely a flower pot stop, this one, with handy rubbish bin at the bus stop close by.
Whenever I'm travelling to the north-east of France or to Belgium from my farm, I travel via Moulins, Nevers and Auxerre. Recently though I've uncovered a newer route that goes via Montlucon, Bourges and Cosne sur Loire.
Of course, there are quite a few interesting things to see along this new route. The famous wine-making town of Sancerre is one of them. There are also a few interesting villages.
When I was planning on moving to Belgium, I had a look round and found a town called Weerde. I was all set to go there, until I found another place called Silly. That had me in two minds, I can tell you. But absolutely no doubt, dispute, or confusion about this village. I'm moving here just as soon as I can.
When I joined the Executive Committee of the Open University Students Association in December 2007, I was asked by a former officer of the Association whether I would be going to meetings armed with a pickaxe handle. Well, badger that for a game of soldiers. Just look at this!
It's a turret from a French armoured car - a Panhard EBR (Engin Blindé de Reconnaissance, or Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle) from the period of the early 1950s to the early 1980s. This one is a later model as it has the 90mm gun as opposed to the good old soixante-quinze of the French Army, as fitted to the earlier models.
Yes, a bit of bodywork when Caliburn goes in for his first service, and this will put a stop to any dissent in the ranks. No-one will argue with me then, that's for sure
So I wandered over to have a look at it and to see how I could get it to fit, and it shouted at me
"Hey, bald **** with the camera! **** off!"
Ahhhh yes. Turrets syndrome!