Tram driving

33I’ve driven a steam train a few years ago so jumped at the advert to drive one of the local electric trams, especially as it was only £25 for about half an hour’s driving and Sally and Mel could join me on the Victorian tram on the Manx Electric Railway in really poor early April weather.


At the controls of Tram 19

There were two of us driving, the other person having driven one before and we took it in turns for a quarter of an hour before changing over and then returning to Laxey.

A reversal towards Douglas and then some instruction and a drive all the way through Laxey station on the route north towards Dhoon, about half way to Ramsey, our turning point.


Comfy seating

The controls of the tram are relatively simple but being a Victorian tram (built in 1899) they are somewhat “Heath Robinson” although they are obviously very effective.

Turing one handle to one of the 7 positions increases the speed to a maximum of 25 mph but stopping the tram requires a complete fast shutdown of the handle to point 5.


The view from the Cab in the poor weather

The weather wasn’t brilliant and on the way back (the tram has a driver’s cab at each end) the windscreen wiper was not working which added to the difficulty.

A couple of goats had strayed onto the track at one point but quickly departed on the sounding of the hooter.

A wonderful experience and well worth it if you see it advertised again.


Jersey again

20180414_115051Friday 6 April

Not quite as early a start as our last adventure but still early and our first crossing this year on the fast ferry, a smooth crossing but lots of traffic, again, on way South.  Stop off at Flic & Gary’s for a brief time with Cody, and then off to Holiday Inn Express at Portsmouth laden with an Asda shop for Sarah & Ali as well as a bike for Harry and our ferry the following day to Jersey.

We leave half an hour late probably due to arrival of a Saga cruise ship and we have 10 hours + on this as the route takes us East of Alderney for a change before we turn Westwards for Guernsey.

A very empty sailing with possibly under 100 people on board, certainly most of them heading for Guernsey, our stop on the way. We, probably along with many others, have a cabin for the day crossing – ours has the benefit of a TV and a shower.

Food good value for money but hot drinks expensive at £2.60 per drink.

Harry in bed by the time we get to Jersey so we don’t get to see him until the following day. Why does travel make you tired, even in the same time zone?

The first day was exceptionally foggy and rainy so not a lot of point going out other than me helping Ali with a dump trip to get rid of fencing panels unburnable in a home fire and sundry other rubbish from their efforts of clearing around the house. It is still cold here and an open fire is very welcome.


Insulation being installed to stop it being so cold

However, the weather did clear up for most of the rest of the week so we were able to get out and about and away from the refurbishment of the house that Sarah is undertaking to make it warmer for next winter.

Harry was pleased with his road bike we bought with us for him although he is a bit small for it at the moment.

During the rest of the week, we managed breakfast at Colleens café at Greve de Lecq (where have you heard that before) a play on the beach for Harry albeit in the cold wind, crazy golf (where I managed to step back onto thin air and fell over rather spectacularly) and a few visits to the newly refurbished Millbrook Park with their sunken trampolines.

Dinner out with Laura & Jim at Somerville, with Sarah, Ali and Harry at the fabulously reasonably priced Roccos and a final lunch with Harry at Pizza Express at St Brelade’s.

Stocking up on food at the local Co-op whilst Harry entertains the staff at Tot Stop is an experience as food is so much more expensive here in Jersey than at home. Carrots for example are double the price, and whilst milk is virtually the same price but for at least 15% less milk.  I reckon that the £70+ we spent would have only cost about £45 in the UK or at home.

Harry did manage to get his road bike out in the field to follow a course as well as building some good tracks on Quadrilla – a Canadian marble game – and some intricate Lego models.


Just a selection of Lego

Sadly it was soon time to go as Harry was back to the school routine but not before we managed to buy some of the rare Jersey Royal potatoes which have not had a good year because of the harsh winter and will be scarce in the shops this year.

Fast ferry back to Poole, overnight in Southampton and a visit to Flic before heading up north (Overnight at Oxford) for our ferry back from Liverpool on the Wednesday.

Not quite sure how I managed to get us up to Liverpool as I had developed a full blown head cold on the last Sunday we were in Jersey and by Wednesday, it was a struggle to keep an eye open.  Unfortunately, Sal caught it from me so the first few days at home were not much fun for her.

Three weeks at home now before some more Babysitting duties in Reading and a rush back for the TT.

Ibiza – March 2018

IMG_610019 March

Why 5am start? Well, to get to Ibiza without changing airports or walking vast distances, it’s the 7am BA flight to London City, with a surprising complimentary breakfast, an hour transfer time and another BA flight to Ibiza with yet another complimentary breakfast.

Unfortunately, with transfers at London City you have to go out and in again, there is no direct transfer which takes time, especially at rush hour, which our arrival is during. We have a problem with a home printed boarding pass so we have to get a new one which involves going back downstairs, visiting the BA desk although we do get fast tracked through security only to sit on the plane at the gate for 50 minutes.

Comfortable flight with plenty of leg room. Arrival at Ibiza and collection of car quite smooth and we set off towards the centre of the island in somewhat overcast conditions.


Agroturismo Can Cosmi Prats

We are staying at Agroturismo Can Cosmi Prats which is not easy to program into our sat nav with the address provided but we get there in the end.

We are met by the owner, Anais, a young woman originally from Valencia, who shows us around the wonderful buildings.



This is her and her partner’s 4th season and today is the opening day of this season and we have the place to ourselves for 3 days before others join us.

Anais so looks like Laura, Flic’s friend, with her long facial features, freckles and dark hair.

Our room is a new one for this year and still has to be painted, so the look inside is rustic both inside and out which is not at all unattractive.


Our bedroom door in the new courtyard

After a tour of the area and a glass of chilled wine, we venture out ending up at Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera, a nearby town that Anais recommends for finding somewhere to eat.


Rustic bedroom

One place recommended is closed for the holidays, opening Wednesday, but the other (Macao) is welcoming even before they open at 7:30 as by now it is raining hard so walking around is not an option.

Excellent food, if a bit pricey and certainly popular for a Monday night.

Having programmed the location of the hotel into the Sat Nav before we left, returning was easy and we made it back there just before heavy rains and thunder & lightning – a rarity in these parts.

It is very cold as well for the time of year so are glad of the heater.

Tuesday 20 March

After a good night’s sleep, we find that the hot water does not work, so no shower today, hopefully it will be fixed by tomorrow.

Breakfast is a wonderful spread of fruit, croissant, fresh orange juice, a cooked dish (to order), and coffee/tea.

None of it was out on a side table, all brought to us from the kitchen area. I don’t want to move after this, possibly one of the best breakfast spreads we have had at a hotel.


Coastline near Sa Canal

Anais suggests going into Ibiza town and then perhaps the salt area by the airport today.

The Sat Nav doesn’t like some of the places around the island and we find ourselves driving through Ibiza town, down very narrow streets as a route has now been pedestrianised since the Sat Nav was configured.

Exit back the way we came and follow signs for Airport and follow map instead to Sa Canal.


Old salt factory engine

For a dead end of a road and only one or two old buildings from the salt factory by the road it was a remarkably busy road but then we discover that behind the beach is a massive car park, virtually empty at this time of year but that is probably where all the cars had gone.

A brief walk along the sandy beach, still too cold to stay out long and we are back in the car and heading off for Cala Moli and Cala Vadella.


Cala Vadella bay

Some nice empty (at this time of year) beaches and bays.

Head out to San Antoni but hit a big traffic jam just outside the town which we therefore give a miss to; returning via a late lunch at Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera and buy some food for a snack later tonight. A stay in sort of a night as it is unseasonably cold.


tree fruit

Although cold, it is now clear so the opportunity was taken for some photographs of the hotel and grounds including their exotic growth from one of their trees (about 20ft tall) as there was no one else around.

I shared some of these with Anais who has used some of them on the hotel’s Facebook page and website; somewhat chuffed about this!


A Terrace at hotel

Wednesday 21 March

Head off north to Port de Sant Miquelon Le Balansat, which like many of the areas has a multitude of beaches, but is still frantically in preparation for the start of the season.

Grab a coffee at the only open restaurant and head off on a very small cross country single track road Eastwards to Portimax and Cindad but again, very little open, only one cafe in Portinax.


Little islands outside Sant Joan de Labritja

Return to Sant Joan de Labritja, a quick walk around and off on the very windy road to Cala de San Vicenc where we stop and stare out to sea.


Cala de San Vicenc

A beautiful sandy beach, at the moment deserted but come the summer will no doubt be heaving, as will be our next stop, Cala Llenya where at least a beach café is open to serve us a drink.

Driving back to the hotel, through Santa Eularia del Rju and the surrounding area, a place we think we should return to.


Artwork at Bar Costa

Time for a sit outside in the sun on our little sheltered terrace before heading off to Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera for a dinner at Bar Costa ( no relation of Costa Coffee in the UK ) with it’s quirky art work inside.

The meal was a sort of a tapas type meal but there was a lot of it allowing us to bring some away with us for tomorrow’s lunch, and all this for €20.70.


Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera church

A good still night for a picture of the local church at Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera.

Thursday 22 March

Cold again, but by lunchtime, cloudless. We are off late today and back to some beaches on the South West including an area obviously being set up for sunset watching, Platja de Comte and some smartly presented housing at Cala Vadella.


Cala Vadella

No chance for a coffee at Platja de Comte so head off for lunch elsewhere.


Platja de Comte

Drive through San Antoni but not overly impressed and again, most places closed for holidays or siesta.

Stop at Lidl for a few snacks including a very nice bottle of Riocha for €3.49! and ground coffee for €0.99 a packet.

A cafe strategically placed at a road junction on the way back entices us in for a drink, my first for about 5 hours, which is not ideal and another sit out in the sun on the terrace.

Try the Lidl coffee, a bit week but put another teaspoonful in and it should be OK.

Dinner tonight is again at Macao café, they recognised us and again, the place was quite full.

Friday 23 March


Ibiza Harbour from the old town

A supposed early start but we get enticed into another good breakfast and by the time we have parked and walked to the centre of Ibiza town it is near enough 11:30.

I go exploring up into the old walled city and Sal reads on a bench in the sun.


Inside the old town walls

Loads of school kids up in the walled town on school visits, all with labels on telling everyone (who can read Spanish that is) where they are from and probably their names. Very noisy.

Climb up further for some more views before returning with a very sore knee to Sal and a welcome drink in a nearby square.



Amble back to car and join in the mass siesta exodus from the town, collecting lunch at Lidl – we know how to enjoy ourselves – before relaxing in the sun by the pool  – still too cold to get in the pool – and on our terrace by our room for the afternoon.

Dinner tonight in La Vela in Cala Llonga, a pizza restaurant that appears to be attached to a locals bar.

The village is, apart from this place and one other, pretty dead. Good quantities of food, Gnochi and Spaghetti Carbonara and two drinks for €26 – not bad and a pleasant owner / server.

No doubt the town will be heaving in a month or two’s time when the tourists arrive and the heat increases.


a bit of sunshine

Saturday 24 March

A dull day following on from yesterday’s good day and we head out to find the Hippy market at Mercadillo Las Dalias just outside San Carlos (eventually) and after a brief stop at Port de Sant Miquel for a coffee although it is too windy to stay outside long.


Hippy Market

Lunch in I Ben Agust at Santa Gertrudis de Fruitera and back for a rest before evening meal at Can Pau where we arrive as the restaurant opens at 8pm and are there on our own for just under an hour before the place begins to fill up – they eat so late in Spain.

As to the meal, well it was Duck that was just with herbs and prunes, nothing else or a whole small chicken with potatoes and no veg.

Somewhat surprisingly, given en it was late March, the music comprised of Christmas music.

Sunday 25 March

We lost an hour as clocks went forward last night so we are even later out from breakfast than we had been the previous few days.


Ibiza “Stonehenge”

Out to find the Stonehenge of Ibiza, a very difficult place to get to, one internet guide says “go to the beach and walk up”.

The Sculpture was commissioned by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte and created by Australian artist Andrew Rogers.

Beware, the road to it is seriously not made up, extremely bumpy and treacherous.

We never made it to the beach, the drive signposted to the beach is only probably suitable for 4×4 vehicles, but I did get eventually get a view from across the bay, never managing to get there.

Coffee in Cala Vadella, possibly one of the better beaches we have come across but double the price for coffee as the one in Ibiza town and Port de San Miquel.

The sun is out so we head back via Lidl ( for lunch & dinner supplies, coffee and chocolate to bring back ) and some sitting out on our terrace in the last of the day’s sun. I think Spring is finally here.


Our terrace at Agrotourismo Can Cosmi Prats

Monday 26 March

A late breakfast, say our goodbyes to Anais and head for the airport via another beach we hadn’t been to Sa Caleta with some interesting sandstone rock that no doubt is being eroded away quickly with storms etc.

A little sheltered here so some brave souls were out sunbathing on the predominantly stoney beach despite the relatively cool temperatures for the time of year.


A few brave sunbathers


Sa Caleta beach

Drop off hire car and sit in lounge to await plane to London City Airport.

Plane late, so at London City Airport we have something like 20 minutes to get from the arriving plane (at Gate 8) to the departing plane, including getting out of the plane, through immigration to land side and then back air side again (through security) which required a very long walk to gate 14.

We made it, as did our luggage, but it was tight and Sal, especially, did not enjoy the long walks in haste at London city Airport. It was just as well the flight home from London City Airport was also a bit late.

Another holiday over and again, a place I would like to go back to but perhaps more in season than out of season. Certainly the stay at Agroturismo Can Cosmi Prats made the stay even more enjoyable, it was definitely one of the best “hotels” we have stayed at.

There were so many different bays and coves that were picturesque, this brief account couldn’t really do justice to the island.

Next stop Jersey again for some grandson sitting.


Beach at Sa Caleta

Snowed in

Friday 23 February

After our ferry crossing, we come across lots of traffic on our journey south specially around M5 south at Birmingham, we are getting used to it now though. Overnight at Winersh after dinner with Flic & Gary.

Saturday 24 February


Give me food

Cody is teething so not good at night; as a result Flic & Gary are not going out so we all have dinner at Prezzos in Woodley after a lunch near Henley.

Never make it into Henley though as too much traffic and parking would have been a nightmare.

Sunday 25 February

Breakfast in Henry Street Garden centre – could have been a bit warmer but still good. Gary & Flic off to house area hunt around Evesham whilst we go south to Andover and a visit to Jose in her new Retirement Home.


Work in progress

Her son, David, has been staying with her for a couple of weeks as she has been unwell recently and had also spent some time with daughter, Linda, in Derbyshire for a couple of weeks beforehand.

She was managing well though if a bit forgetful but did remember that Gary had been finishing off the Steam engine for David’s daughter, Emma. He is having difficulty sourcing a part unfortunately.

Gary does some painting and is, with the help of a friend, setting up a website to showcase the paintings so as I had my main camera with me, I was asked to take a few photos – they are good paintings.

Monday 26 February

A morning looking after Cody whilst Flic goes on a training walk in advance of her walk later in March to get fit and raise funds for the baby unit at Reading hospital who helped her at the time of Cody’s difficult birth.

Boy is it cold as we set off at lunchtime for our house at Clearwell in the Forest of Dean stopping en-route for some replacement crockery as we know what some of what we have there is chipped and we probably don’t have a full set.

Get held up in a traffic queue just the England side of the M48 Severn Crossing Bridge as a car has come off an overpass of the Motorway just after the river bridge and landed on the Motorway.

We were stationary for over an hour before we were let off the Motorway via an access road at the nearby Toll Plaza before we had to retrace our route back to the M5/M4 junction before we again head west on the M4, the time taking the new Bridge towards Wales.

To add to our delay the road through Tintern is closed for roadworks so we head on to Newport and then Monmouth arriving well after 5 – it is nice and warm inside.


A leaning fence

Some winter storm damage to the fence at the back of the house but it is next door’s problem so I better get on to her to fix it.

Nice to see that the side fence has held up – just as well I took some vegetation off it to lessen the strain.

Tuesday 27 February

Off to buy supplies at Cheltenham before visiting Rob and getting on with some fixing jobs around the house – maybe we will sell it.

The weather forecast is not looking good for our return ferry crossing on Thursday.

Wednesday 28 February

At long last we have been able to source a Chimney sweep as the previous one wouldn’t answer messages, maybe he has given up, and take the opportunity to replace the fire resistant bricks so that we now can have a roaring fire.


A fire to keep us warm

Whilst we should have gone out afterwards we had a lazy day especially as we have had to change our ferry back home to Sunday afternoon from Birkenhead as looking at the forecast, there will be no sailings Thursday and Friday and possibly also not on Saturday morning.

Evening meal at the Butcher’s Arms – it is just so nice to be able to go for a meal by walking there instead of having to drive.

Get talking to the owners of the cottage opposite who are cutting short their stay to return home tomorrow in view of the weather.

We have decided to leave on Saturday and stay in a hotel at Warrington – we have guests  arriving on Sunday.

Ferry cancelledThursday 1 March

Yes, our ferry originally booked is cancelled because of the state of the sea (Storm Emma) and as there is now snow forecast, we had better get to the shops for food before the snow settles even more than it is now.

Not surprisingly, the shops are beginning to empty of food.

It is now forecast to be snowing solidly for virtually 30 hours (the Beast from the East) so after we get back to the house we bed down for the day, finish some of the jobs and watch a lot of daytime TV.

Friday 2 March

A snow day is all I can say about today with only me venturing up to the garage to return items used and get out the frozen mop for Rob’s use when we have gone.

The snow is in places over two feet deep but is of course nothing compared with certain places in the South West and in Scotland.


I’m off to the garage

Will we even make it out tomorrow? The hotel only cost just over £50 including breakfast so it is not much to loose if we do fail to get out of Clearwell tomorrow but what will we do for food?

Saturday 3 March

It is warmer and there is no more snow and no wind. By chance I see our opposite neighbour Ken who lends me a snow shovel which was useful as the build up and drifting was well over 2 feet in places by our car before we agree some work he can do for us at the house.


A snowed in car

By midday, the road is quite slushy and after Ken has looked around the house for the complete redecoration we want him to do, set off on what can only be described as the quietest journey “up north”.

In places near Birmingham and Stafford northwards there is virtually no snow and our hotel is soon reached.

A golden wedding anniversary celebration is in for the night so for a meal we are pushed into a conference type room – no atmosphere, and we tell the management so. Food not bad though.

Sunday 4 March

The people going into the house at Clearwell are querying whether they can get into the house in view of the snow. I had sent them an e-mail last night to say it was accessible but to be careful as the area might be slippery. They ultimately decide to cancel but as it is their decision we won’t loose out financially.

Ferry crossing uneventful and relatively smooth with virtually no swell until we get to the outskirts of Douglas harbour and we are indoors at about 6:15, 3 days late!

20180317_141624We missed some really rough seas at home.

It’s cold in Jersey

IMG_5858Thursday 25 January

Flybe served us well today, leaving on time on way to Birmingham for a change of plane for one that is to take us to Jersey via Guernsey except that Birmingham airport don’t seem to recognise that the plane goes on to Jersey from Guernsey as it doesn’t mention Jersey which might cause confusion to non seasoned travellers.

Our first stay at Sarah & Ali’s new house in deepest St Ouen’s; Sarah must have one of the longest commutes on the island, 9 miles!


Welcoming open fire in Jersey Granite

The house is very cold as for some reason it has no wall insulation. The upstairs room for our bedroom is particularly cold with wood floors and no rugs yet but they do have a welcoming open fire.

Friday 26 January

Breakfast, after quite a cold night at Colleen’s at Greve de Lecq, a favourite of ours followed by some food shopping.

Saturday 27 January

Harry’s birthday party at Trinity Parish Hotel; just as well it is indoors as it rains all day.


Party games

All the 5 and 6 year olds played well together with Sarah organising a couple of games as well.


Dinner time

The food went down well of course, although the fruit and veg were not as popular as the biscuits.

We have tonight been invited to a Burns night at Laura & Jim’s with traditional Haggis, neeps and tattys for a main course and other traditional Scottish fare.

Crawl back “figuratively speaking” in very foggy conditions to Sarah & Ali’s

Sunday 28 January

Still foggy in the morning and whilst Sarah and Ali start on some jobs we venture out for some food and a quick walk before the rain sets in and we get our chance to play with Harry.

Monday 29 January


A friendly crapaud trying a bit of breaking and entering.

Wander out locally, past some stables and out in the evening to see where to pick Harry up from tomorrow, see a settee and pick up a dishwasher, as you do.

Tuesday 30 January

A foul day, cold, windy and wet, collect Harry from child minder after school and drop him off at Sarah’s work. This is the only excercise we get today, the weather was so bad.

Wednesday 31 January

It must have been the worst January we have seen, but then, we have been away each January since we retired.

Our excursion outside today is only to the Cinema to see “Post” about the report in USA about the Vietnam war and the prelude to Watergate. A little too much padding but still enjoyable.

An evening meal on Thursday 1 February with Jim & Laura at The Lazin Lizard which was exceptionally crowded and noisy. Food good but a little nuveau quisine. Back across the country roads in the dark and fog, pretty spooky, and we only saw 6 other cars on the roads.


Jersey market

It is pouring with rain on Saturday but Harry doesn’t mind as he is in the water at Haute Vallee for swimming lessons followed by a few more jobs in town and we are back to see that Ali and a couple of his friends are helping with the putting up of the new roll top garage door to replace the up and over metal one that has seen better days.

Sarah & Ali out tonight so we babysit.

Sunday 4 February

It is again bitterly cold today both inside and outside the house, so cold that we don’t go to watch Harry in his bike race, the wind chill factor makes it just too much.

He is the first boy in his race and is a bit chuffed. Ali and I had taken the cut up old garage door to the dump earlier in the day, for some reason it is only open until just before 1pm on a Sunday.

After the bike race, Harry off to a party and Sarah to lifesaving so everyone’s busy whilst we keep the fire going and the heating on.

Monday 5 February

Breakfast at Colleen’s again, the tide being up and the sea a bit rough, so no chance of beach walking today. More food shopping and some wrapping of presents for the birthday boy.

Was thinking of going to see the Harmony Men but as Sarah’s friend Tracy is with us all for dinner, give it a miss this time.


Playing with birthday presents

Tuesday 6 February

Up early for the birthday boy but he is off to School and doesn’t open many presents before he goes. There is snow on the car we are using – very unusual in Jersey. We are off to town for a lunch with Laura & Jim at de Gruchy’s Brasserie – expensive thesedays.


Birthday treat

As a treat for Harry, we get to Pizza Express at St Brelade’s before packing up for early flight tomorrow back home, via Guernsey and Birmingham.

Wednesday 7 February

Off home and bump into Iain Mason from the Harmony Men at Jersey Airport and find at Birmingham that Jayne Bizec from my Coutts Jersey days was on the plane. Unfortunately , not able to speak long with her.

No issues at all with Flybe, all flights were early but the walking and steps involved at Birmingham airport are excessive. Why do we have to go land side and then back through Security when we are just changing planes?

Christmas troubles

Saturday 23 December

Back in April, we spent so many hours trying to find somewhere to stay to be near our daughter, Flic, with her young son and eventually settled on a house in Maidenhead advertised through HomeAway, a company we have rented through before and at a cost of over £1500 were hoping for a good property.


Crappy house

Christmas Property


The two reviews on HomeAway were good albeit a year old and whilst we knew parking could be problematic, we were not prepared at all for what we found when we gained access to the property. The parking was the least of our troubles – in fact we had no issues with the on street parking.

Mismatched furniture, some of it dating from probably the 1950s, three different styles of settees in the living area, one of which has a door underneath the cushion which whilst providing some support, is loose and had to be pulled up to stop the cushions sagging.

This is a potential hazard for fingers, especially those of youngsters. Would question whether two of the settees have fire retardant certificates, I would doubt if a charity shop would accept them.

The property has not been renovated or maintained for many years, the decor is worn and dated, especially in the kitchen

There were many other issues:-

  1. Loose tiles in the dining area by the fireplace, again a potential for injury
  2. One other settee  ( a bed settee ) in the living room has been bolstered by a spare settee cushion
  3. Ill fitting kitchen units dating from probably the 1970s. The whole kitchen is in need of refurbishment. The kitchen units are de-laminating resulting in bits falling into food.
  4. Absolutely filthy cooking pans/dishes and a not particularly clean oven
  5. No washing up bowl and no matching crockery, very thin cutlery and inappropriate cooking utensils which are not suitable for using whilst cooking as they are too thin.
  6. Handwritten Instructions written on the inside of the kitchen cupboards as to where to put crockery and glasses that was overwriting other written instructions is not the sign of a homely environment.
  7. Mismatching drinking glasses, only one egg cup
  8. Cleaning liquids in a cupboard that does not have a child protection lock on it. If unsupervised, it could cause serious illness to children.
  9. Dangerous and loose floorboards on the ground floor especially outside the kitchen, to the extent that shoes need to be worn throughout to prevent trapped toes.
  10. Very steep and thin stairs to the first floor with a loose banister
  11. Dirty carpets on the stairs and landing
  12. No banister on the stairs from the 1st floor to the Attic.
  13. No working radiator in either the Attic bedroom or it’s en-suite bathroom (temperatures 3 degrees C some days!) which has no stand up shower ability, just a shower unit over the bath but no curtain or screen.
  14. Bath waste water leaks on the floor at a join in the pipe behind the sink.
  15. A stained sanitary pad left in a cupboard in the Attic bathroom
  16. Hair left in the bath plug in the Attic bathroom
  17. 3 lights in the Attic not working and no clothes hanging space.
  18. The main “pink” bathroom has two showers over the bath, one of which appears not to function well whilst the other is supposed to be the back up.
  19. The main “pink” bathroom has a translucent door allowing other guests to be able to see you in the bathroom.
  20. The 5 page house instructions provided to us after we had paid the final amount of rent indicated that the house has a car parking space outside the house. This is a joke as all the road is available for anyone to park in, there is no reserved car parking space.  In fact from arrival to 27 December, the same red car was parked Directly outside the house, it didn’t move.
  21. We were supposed to have a food waste recycling bin: nothing was provided and for general waste, just a bucket was provided
  22. The “high chair” provided is an old, wheeled office chair with straps which is totally unsuitable.
  23. We had specifically asked if a Christmas tree would be left for us, we were told “no” so Sarah brought one from Jersey, we brought the decorations from home and: you guessed it; a decorated Christmas tree had been left!
  24. It is only when you pay the final balance are you told that no visitors are allowed: not very Christian like for Christmas!


Anyway, some photos from inside the property wouldn’t go amiss here just so that you can get the feeling of it.


So, understandably we were not impressed and apart from all the family being with us, it spoilt Christmas.

We had sent an immediate message on arrival to say that we were not happy and were later that evening advised that the caretaker would call between 10 & 11 tomorrow morning, in fact it was virtually 11 am when he turned up.

He seemed to appreciate the poor quality of the kitchen cooking pans and the water leak from the bathroom, and got on the phone and went away saying he would be back having also taken with him the sanitary pad left by the previous occupiers.

When he did return, he brought new cooking pans, cleaned the cooker, tried to mend the bathroom leak but could do nothing about the non working radiator in the attic bedroom.

On Christmas Day, the bath still leaked but obviously nothing could be done about that so a message advising the continued leak was only sent late at night.

Somehow, the Christmas meal was cooked (thank you Sarah), served and consumed before the ritual of present giving got under way, toys played with, TV watched before we retired to (for us in the attic) a freezing cold bedroom.

Boxing Day and the rest of the week was spent away as much as we could from this house and we left the following Saturday somewhat pleased that we had left – Sarah, Ali, Harry and Mel having left the previous day to go to Jersey and we had spent Friday with Viv in Fleet.

We were eventually able to extract a payment from the owner for the “inconvenience” but this in no way compensated for such an appalling excuse for a rental property. My review on Trip Advisor was eventually published and, somewhat surprising, the review on Home Away was also eventually published but probably because I said to them that I doubted it would get published in view of the appalling nature of the comments.

However, it has now disappeared (as of mid Feb 2018).  Surprising that (not).

Fortunately, our visits on the way home to John & Dierdre (for New Year) and Sally’s cousin Alan partially made up for it.  Sarah’s crossing home on the ferry was very rough, she was glad of a cabin.

Nothing specific planned for 2018 which is unusual for us, but no doubt our diary will soon fill up.

Santa rides

IMG_5661Friday 15 December

Last year, Flic visited us about this time with her friend, Laura and paid a surprise visit to Mel at the Peel Pantoloons annual Panto. This year, however, a visit to the Panto by Flic could not be arranged due to Gary’s work commitments, so a visit the following week to the Santa Steam trains organised by the Isle of Man Steam Railway was the only option.

After some debate, a ferry crossing from Heysham was the selected mode of transport and, for once in December, the weather was kind.

Saturday 16 December


Morning at The Shed, Laxey

A morning out by the sea – yes the weather is still mild and wind free – and time for a coffee on Laxey sea front with blankets supplied by the wonderful new little cafe, The Shed.  (

An afternoon train ride from Douglas to Santon had been organised and our train on this occasion was double headed by two of the small gauge resident steam engines.

Double heading was unusual especially as it wasn’t a particularly heavy train but more about this later.


Santa’s helpers at Santon

Cody is obviously too young to appreciate the train ride but Gary certainly did especially as he could stand in front of the engine whilst it was being watered when we reached Santon.


Taking on water at Santon

Talking about watering, at Santon we disembarked with some of the train’s passengers going to see Santa first before consuming some well prepared food whilst others in the front of the train did the visiting to Santa after the food and mulled wine.


Who are you?

Cody was absolutely mesmerised by Santa, he just didn’t know what to make of him, again understandable in the circumstances.


Douglas Station, end of the day

The return was behind one engine, the other being used to bring Santa’s grotto back to Douglas later in the day as this was the last Santa ride of the season.

Hopefully next year we can get Sarah, Ali and Harry over for a visit at this time?

Sunday 17 December

A first stage production for Cody as he becomes Baby Jesus for Mel’s Sensations Group at a church service in Peel.


Cody at the Sound

He slept for a lot of the time, woke up for the important part and spent the time looking around, not a murmur.

Lunch at The Sound Cafe

Monday 18 December

Flic, Gary and Cody off for an early ferry and we have to pack as we are following them on the same ferry 24 hours later.


Ferry into the Sunrise

Flic and Gary had a bit of a tortuous journey, Cody being fed up, the journey taking well over 5 hours due to yet another accident on the M6.

Tuesday 19 December

A smooth crossing for us and we head for Liverpool for an Andre Rieu concert, staying at the Crowne Plaza on the dockside.


Liverpool waterfront

An upgrade meant we had access to the club lounge in the hotel which provides snacks at tea time and a continental breakfast as well as a waterfront view.


Exchange Flags

A walk out to the shops revealed a square I had not been to before, Exchange Flags which was also featured in an excellent BBC programme recently, A House through Time.


Getting the Reindeer ready

Wednesday 20 December

Horrible drizzle today so not worth going to anywhere outdoors. The garden centre at Bebbington serves up some very nice snacks for lunch before we return to the hotel to get ready for the concert.

But before that, I couldn’t resist a brief visit to the waterfront fair and the reindeer being prepared for the night’s activities.


Colourful Andre Rieu concert

We have seen an Andre Rieu recording both on TV and at a local cinema but there is nothing like seeing a live concert.

With their flamboyant and colourful costumes, the musicians played, danced, sung and entertained us for nearly 2 and a half hours which included at least half an hour of encores and a festive rendition from a Scottish pipe band from the Wirrall.


Artificial snow

Artificial snow falling on the audience was something special to watch from high up as we were.

Meet up afterwards for drinks with Laura & Jim from Jersey who are also over for the concert, staying with a friend locally.

They got covered in the artificial snow which was very minute plastic particles.


Andre Rieu concert

Thursday 21 December

Drive down to our house in Clearwell just to check all is well and to inspect the new doors.


Making Croissants at The forest Bakehouse

A bit of Christmas food shopping in Gloucester followed by a lovely lunch at The Forest Bakehouse in Longhope (Gloucestershire) which we never knew existed despite us driving past the area for the past 13 years. (

The Forest Bakehouse at Longhope has a small seating area and a thriving orders/collection business judging by the various bags full of various types of bread awaiting collection.

Preparing the croissants for future baking were two members of staff one of whom had cut the dough with an ingenious looking hand held device that created the triangle prior to them being rolled into shape before baking.

Back to Clearwell, visit to Rob, wrap presents for Christmas but we are not here for Christmas this year, our 3rd non Clearwell Christmas in 14 years.

Friday 22 December

Drive to Didcot Railway Centre to meet up with Sarah, Ali & Harry as well as Flic & Cody for another Santa train ride.


Festive hats at Didcot

Santa does get around and is exceptionally busy, so to get to see him twice is quite an achievement!!

Sadly, Gary has to be on call and Mel is to meet up with us later as her flight from the IoM and the trains from Gatwick to Didcot couldn’t get her to us until half an hour before the ride – she makes it though.


Harry with Santa on the Santa train

Before the Santa train ride we amble around the shed with an assortment of vintage steam engines and other railway artefacts all of which are available for touching and some for clambering on, much to the enjoyment of the kids of all ages.


Ali the ticket collector

The Santa ride was not as good as the one in the Isle of Man the previous Saturday according to Flic, especially as the organisers had run out of presents for kids of Cody’s age.  Harry enjoyed his present though.

Meanwhile, our usual haunt for Christmas and the Perrygrove Santa Trains were doing a roaring trade.


Santa trips at Perrygrove (picture from Heritage Railway Magazine)

Sarah, Ali & Harry go off to get some more Christmas food and we go off to find our house for the next week in Maidenhead.

All I shall say about the house we rented for the week in Maidenhead is that it was “interesting” but if I then said we would definitely not recommend it and would not be going again, I hope you get the gist.

My words on this are not going to be minced.