Lofty, our VW camper, was clearly happy with his new clutch and gave us not a second’s ‘bother’ during our trip to the English Lakes and the north Yorkshire coast.

Lofty, VW camper, on Whitby harbour

Seen from the steps up to Whitby abbey, Lofty waits patiently for us on the harbour below

The weather was wonderful for our first two days in the very beautiful Borrowdale, where we found a new (to us) campsite. Then, with the weather set to change, we beetled (or rather campered) over to the east coast, where the sun was hot and brilliant for the rest of our stay, on our favourite campsite at Robin Hood’s Bay.

The Borrowdale campsite, just past the turn to the village of Stonethwaite on the B5289 from Keswick, is simple with limited facilities – just a couple of showers for men and a couple for women, the same with toilets (with two more undesignated) – but clean and adequate and cheap at £6/person a night (half that for children).

Over to the North Yorkshire coast

As the weather began to change we motored the 120 miles or so over to the Yorkshire coast, managing to find the only LPG station for miles in Penrith so crossed over without having to change to petrol at double the running cost per mile. Whitby greeted us with hot, bright sunshine though rather windy. No cooking after the trip as you shouldn’t visit Whitby without eating fish and chips – not at the ‘famous’ place, but ‘Mister Chips’ just over the bridge, which is the best. Then, after a climb up to the abbey, off to Robin Hood’s Bay to park up with a wonderful view over the bay towards Ravenscar (Hooks House Farm).

Abandoning Lofty the next day we had a bacon and eggs etc al fresco breakfast in the village, overlooking the bay. Then, after a leisurely walk along the beach making it to Boggle Hole before the sea cut us off, back along the cliffs for a pint at the Bay Hotel, known as the end point of the Coast to Coast Walk. A climb up the steep village street back to Lofty. No driving at all that day.

The next day it was a visit to the lovely little fishing village of Staithes with a treat of Staithes cobble cake (apricots, walnuts, cinnamon, filled with apple and served hot with cream), and again a steep climb back to Lofty as there’s no parking in the village. On to the equally appealing but very different Runswick Bay with another pint in the Royal overlooking the shore. Then a lovely run back home over the North Yorks moors.

The picture is Petronela’s. I’ve abandoned the digital camera completely except for work and I didn’t have time to get my films developed before work tomorrow. I hope when I do I’ll have some worth posting on grumpytykepix.

Thanks for the cake suggestions

Thanks for the responses on a suggested cake to make for the village show (previous post). I’ll be posting on that later.

My 1972 VW T2 crossover (‘early’ front, ‘late’ back) Bay camper, Lofty, is running about spritely again. My luck was in on Friday (see previous post) and although some M62 motorway motorists seemed to be a bit put out as my speed gradually dropped to 20mph or less on any upward incline, the badly slipping clutch got me the 85 miles to Chester to have a new unit fitted. To celebrate we wore our Lofty T-shirts today.

VW T2 T-shirts

Welcome to Yorkshire from Lofty at the Cow and Calf on the front of our T-shirts; back to Yorkshire on the backs.

The clutch was in a real mess but I was lucky again: one side of the friction plate, though worn, was intact; the other side was really broken up but this was not the flywheel side – had it been the flywheel side it might have been a long time to back on the road, and very costly.

Might make a little trip next week before it’s back to school/work on 5 September. I’ll let you know.

Lofty, my 1972 ‘crossover’ VW camper (he’s my avatar) finally decided he’d had enough of a ‘dicky’ clutch and threw in the towel altogether  (mixed metaphors is how I feel; I’m supposed to be on holiday).

Tomorrow morning I will do my best to get him to Chester, that’s about 85 miles over the Pennines, without a clutch if necessary.

VW crossover camper between Bolton Abbey and Embsay.

Happier days, Lofty enjoys a picnic between Bolton Abbey and Embsay. on a rare sunny day in 2012

The problem first is to get across Bradford so to minimise stops and starts I’ll be leaving about 6am. Then there are the hills to get up to the motorway. Then there are the hills on the motorway.

First the clutch was slipping so badly I tried to adjust it and it went fine for a few miles but then threw a wobbly and wouldn’t disengage. More crawling about under him and a few washers in front of the adjusting wing nut and now it it engaging, but for how long? If I can get across Bradford it’ll be fine as I’ll just drive without the clutch. Hope it doesn’t slip too much to get up to the Saddleworth turn off the M62, the highest point on the highest motorway in England.

New clutch kit from VW Heritage is in the car. I just have to get there.

Why Chester? Because Steve of Gasure not only knows VW campers very well, he did the conversion to LPG so can put the engine back in so it works, otherwise I’d be driving on petrol at twice the cost per mile.

Wish me luck. If I have it I’ll be back Saturday evening.

This is one of the busiest times of the year for my work as the charity I work for takes part in numerous outside events and I usually have to set them up and take them down at the end of the day. Last Saturday I was at a local school which raises money for us, and Sunday I was at the Dragon Boat Challenge in York, where we had a fundraising stall. So I haven’t had a lot of time for blogging, or reading the many which I follow.

The Optimistic Pessimist's poem on display in Lofty's rear window

The Optimistic Pessimist’s poem on display in Lofty’s rear window

However, I said in my most recent post that Lofty, my VW camper, had not only insisted I reblogged a poem – Campervan – penned by Bradford’s blogger the Optimistic Pessimist, but that I printed it out and displayed it in his window. That I had not had time to do.

So, apart from giving me all sorts of problems changing gear (he needs a new clutch), yesterday on a visit to nearby Bronte land – ie Haworth – he refused to start to bring us home.

I promised that the poem would go in today and, possibly helped by a jump start from the leisure battery, he got us home.

We have a lot of steep hills around here so I really must get the clutch done – I had quite a problem to pull away on a 1 in 3 today – but with no place to do it, not the tools necessary and, more important, getting too long in the tooth to do such things now, it’s a garage job so I have to find a day I can do without him as he’s my daily ride (and travelling B&B!).

He also runs on LPG, half the cost of running on petrol, so I will only trust someone who knows the LPG system to pull the engine (or, more to the point, put it back and get it running correctly again) for the new clutch.

I’ll have to get it done soon; I should be on annual leave for the rest of the month after 7 August so I don’t want to be stranded in the Yorkshire Dales, let alone maybe in the north of Scotland!

Originally posted on The optimistic pessimist:

Box of dreams

Wardrobe to other worlds

Part of the gang

We wave at our own

Like crazy people

Because we know

We share the joy

Perfect joy

Of freedom

On wheels

Where every day is perfect

Every meal the most amazing

Every moment with you

In that perfect little place

To keep us together

Trapped in the same room

Never bored

Always happy

Happy like

You can’t remember

What sad feels like

Just filled to brimming

With joy.

View original

I don’t have a lot of time for blogging at the moment – the weather is superb for walking and photography but unfortunately that means it is also ideal for some much needed ‘tender loving care’ for Lofty, our beloved VW camper. However, having just cooked and eaten the obligatory full English breakfast I thought I’d use the 15 min ‘digestion’ pause to get this off.

The Romanians are almost uniquely able to have a joke on themselves and, being far better generally educated than the majority of people coming out of UK schools, are able to do it with a wit and substance sadly lacking in much of what we see from British commentators. I just love the poster campaign launched by the Romanian paper Gandul (‘The Thought?) in response to that from the Guardian. The posters are in English so English speakers can understand them even if the accompanying text is in Romanian.

So here are some of the Romanian poster words, each of which has a postscript “Why don’t you come over. We may not like Britain but you’ll love Romania”. There are many more gems.

Your weekly rent covers a month here – pub nights included

Our Tube was not designed with sardines in mind – sorry sardines

Our newspapers are hacking celebrities’ privacy, not people’s phones

Our air traffic controllers have seen snow before. They were unimpressed

We don’t have a congestion charge here. We believe congestions are punishment enough.

Our draft beer is less expensive than your bottled water.

And my favourite – almost absolutely true:

Half our women look like Kate. The other half, like her sister.

Most of my followers will know I have a serious love affair with Romania and Romanians and the majority of Romanians coming here so far are very well educated, hard-working and an enormous benefit to our society. But this doesn’t mean my eyes are closed to the problems: corruption is endemic (but worse in Bulgaria) and certainly a large number of Romanians coming here have come to commit crime and will do so in the future (the Romanians would say that they are not Romanians, but gypsies, and while I cannot support this racist statement there is an underlying truth).

So, much as I love Romanians and their country, the concern about freely opening the door to them is well-founded.

But it will be great for Britain to have a boost to the population of people who can actually speak English!

As those of you who read my 1 July post will know, my recent attempt (first for a few decades) at ‘street photography’ ended in disaster but, inspired by

I’m determined to use an imminent trip to Romania (which I know to be a photographer’s dream for almost any genre) to have another go. What is more, away from distractions of work and other things in the UK, I’m aiming to wander further down the path of ‘picture haiku’, trying to create haiku and picture at the same time. I’ll aim to post regularly from Romania though I won’t have the opportunity to develop film so I’ll be using the Lumix for that.

I was excited to receive seven B&W 35mm cassettes in the post yesterday morning. If I could have found my reloadable cassettes (buried in the mounds from a house move a year ago) I’d have loaded up from an unopened 50m reel of Agfa APX. As it is, I bought two rolls of Rollei Retro 400S, which I believe is an equivalent, and five rolls of Kodak 400 Tmax.

For the ‘street photography’ the B&W will go in my Bessa-T, most often fitted with a 35mm Voigtlander Color Skopar. I wish I had a longer lens for some ‘studied’ portraits – there are some wonderful character faces in Romania. (But see below for why I’ve inserted the picture above).

Persuaded by Marie in Sweden to take some of my discontinued Astia

I’m asking myself whether I can carry another film camera for colour. It needs to be as small and light as possible but the Bessa is my only working rangefinder so it’ll have to be an SLR. I’m wishing I’d kept my long gone Olympus OM. But the Contax 139 isn’t so big. If I take that I’m tempted to pack a Zeiss 50mm Planar, either the 1.7 or 1.4, and the Yashica 55mm f2.8 macro and an extension to give me 1:1 (in fact a bit more as I don’t have a 27mm tube, I have a 32mm one).

I’ll be taking the Lumix GF1 anyway and, with 4/3 to C/Y adapter, can use the Zeiss and the Yashica on that, though it will usually have the Pani 14-42 zoom on for snap shots.

Having gone through all that, I just took a break from writing this to look for the Yashica right-angle finder in case I do take the SLR and macro lens. And I came across the Olympus XA, not used for two years as it seemed to have jammed. I knew it had a film inside which had come adrift from a reloadable cassette so, seeing the dark bag also, decided to take the naked film out.

Wonder! The XA is now working. (You may deduce that I sometimes write in ‘real time’, as I did while doing the post on fast food – now a page under the ‘Food’ menu).

Complete rethink. B&W in the XA; with its discrete small size and 35mm Zuiko lens it’s just the job for ‘street photography’. The light seals seem a bit sticky but, with one week to go till I leave, there’s time to renew them.

Now, shall I forget the macro and just take the Bessa, adding one of the only longer rangefinder lenses I have which will work on the Bessa, a Russian 50mm f2 Jupiter or a 52mm f2.8 Fed? The collapsible Industar lenses (which look like the Leitz) will not go to infinity. I can put a cheap C41 film through with the Jupiter and three Feds I have, developed locally in 1 hr, and see how they are. I’ll do the same with the XA to try to ensure it really is working now.

It’s tempting to leave the heavier stuff at home; we’re off to Cornwall in Lofty, the VW camper, for the rest of August when we get back on the 12th. He won’t mind the extra weight and the beach might offer some good macro opportunities.I might change my mind about it all before I leave next Saturday. Any suggestions gratefully received.

As I’ve commented somewhere here before, I’ve never really succeeded with ‘creative’ writing but I do believe myself to be ‘creative’. One way I express this is by cooking, leaving the recipe books (and recipe blogs) aside sometimes and cobbling something together with whatever happens to be in the fridge and the store cupboard.

I think I eat healthily (having reached well over 7 decades, never in hospital, only ‘sick’ days were a bout of Asian ‘flu and shingles, I can still walk 20 miles without a problem and there’s no power steering on my VW camper), but I deplore much of what is promoted as ‘healthy eating’ nowadays. So, eg, margarine, a dreadful chemical concoction only a molecule link or two away from plastic, never enters my home. My staples are olive oil, sunflower oil (margarine without all the chemicals and the large quantities of water) and English or Irish butter (or Welsh), with corn oil for frying fish and chips – you can make it hotter than sunflower. And I deplore the fact it’s now almost impossible to find good sirloin steak (if I could afford it!); it should look like a piece of marble, with fat everywhere – it’s essential for taste and tenderness.

Another excuse for eating pre-prepared junk from the supermarket or fast food outlet is “too busy”. I don’t believe it. Yes, some of the classic recipes take a while to do, but good food can be quick and easy.

So, I’m writing this while I throw together this evening’s meal. I reckon it’ll be take about 20 mins tops – split between now and this evening.

Plate of thrown together food

Here’s the finished dish at 6pm. You might see that at the last minute I decided to add some petit pois. My wife’s verdict – “delicious”.

What did I find in the fridge today? A dozen good-sized mushrooms, a couple of Spring onions (scallions to our USA friends), about a dozen thin slices of Spanish chorizo and half a dozen of Italian pepperoni, half a lemon over from making gin and tonics last night, and half full tubs of double cream and whipping cream over from something. I know there’s half a packet of fresh pasta in the freezer and there’s a basil plant growing on the windowsill.

So, I’ve peeled and sliced the mushrooms (couple of mins) while a dollop of olive oil and a knob of butter get really hot in the frying pan (when the butter foam subsides it’s hot enough). If it’s not hot the mushrooms will boil in their own juice rather than saute.

When the mushrooms are done (5 mins?) I squeeze over the juice of the half lemon, lower the heat and add the sliced Spring onions; cook for another 2 mins.

While that’s happening I stack the chorizo and pepperoni and cut into strips, throw this in the pan.

Cook another couple of minutes while mixing then turn it off till when you want to eat – for me about nine hours in the future.

I wrote the above while doing the cooking to this point – less than 15 mins.

At about 5.45 I’ll put a big pan of salted water on the hob to boil. At around eight minutes before six (we eat around six) when its boiling I’ll tip in the pasta.

At a few minutes to 6pm I’ll heat up the pan with mushrooms, pour in the two creams and stir till it’s hot. Taste and add salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste (all about 2 mins).

Drain the pasta, toss it in a little olive oil, divide onto the warmed pasta bowls (there are two of us), spoon on the mushroom concoction and sprinkle with shredded fresh basil leaves (and I might grate over some parmigiano reggiano, which is in the fridge). Depending on how we feel at the time, there might be a side salad.

I guarantee it’ll taste good and the longest part of the whole thing is waiting for the pasta water to boil. It doesn’t even need a sophisticated kitchen – it’d be just as easy in Lofty, my VW camper.

When it’s done, if I remember, I might take a picture and add it to this post.

No time to think about something ‘interesting’ to say today but I didn’t like the ‘thing’ which came up as my gravatar as I hadn’t myself chosen an image.

So, as I’ve declared my interest in VW T2 campers but not written anything about it yet I chose to put up a picture of my 1972 ‘crossover’ van. His name is ‘Lofty’.

Lofty, my VW crossover camper, enjoys a picnic between Bolton Abbey and Embsay.

Lofty, my 1972 VW crossover camper, enjoys a picnic between Bolton Abbey and Embsay. There has been some sun in 2012!

He’s well used. He’s my everyday ride and since converting to LPG last December he’s pretty economical. He’s also my ‘bed & breakfast’ as I work away a couple of days a week and he’s comfy and costs me nothing.

Difficult this gravatar thing. I don’t think my mugshot is of interest to anyone, and certainly doesn’t say much about me. So, a picture from Yorkshire? Well, I’ve got that in the header of my blog.Then there’s Lofty’s little sister – Mini, born in 1975 – but she is laid up at the moment (dreaded SORN) and needs some TLC so I didn’t think she’d be too happy to be made public. A pic of some of my ‘classic cameras’, which range from a pre-war  Zeiss Super Ikonta (battered!) to an engineering wonder, the Contax AX (with its equally wondrous Zeiss Planars); or the simplicity of the massive Mamiya Press or, almost as simple, the Voigtlander Bessa T (can’t afford a Leica M4) with its wonderful 35mm Color Skopar (the digitals, a Canon 5D and a Lumix GF1 are useful, but not so interesting). On the other hand, I did think of taking a pic of my vinyl collection of the complete works of Beethoven – but that really needs some audio. And, of course, there’s the food – maybe I should have chosen a Yorkshire pudding.  

So, for the moment, Lofty it is. Now the sun’s come out he might actually get a few bandaids on the holes in his non-structural bits, and so get his steps back on. The wrap-around bumper looks a bit sad without them.

and losing pages

Just succeeded to add some menu items, and even a sub-menu, thanks to advice from a member on the forum, but I still cannot get a page I’ve created to show up. It’s on five years volunteering in Romania.

Picked up the Bay (‘Lofty’) from the garage this morning; thought it was a major problem but in fact just the collapse of a tyre wall (but on the inside so I didn’t spot it). Another was on the way out so that was changed too. Bloody expensive these tyres, but at least it wasn’t the major mechanical break I feared. Drives like a dream now.

Just tussling with a private hospital – referral from the GP. When it’s sorted I’ll have something to say about this in my ‘politics’ spot, and letting the Minister know.

Bear with me till I sort the workings of this site out.


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