Anglesey September……

Well this has been a long time in coming.  Sadly, haven’t had the time to update it since we got back – I hope I can remember enough to post this! 🙂

To reduce stress, Grant lined up Evil the night before we went, so all we had to do was hook up and go.  Brilliant idea and worked great.  We’d packed up on the Thursday night as well, so all we had to do was get dressed, get in the car and drive to the ferry.  Kushty!  It was all going so well.  Surprisingly well since we rarely travel without at least a *small* bit of drama.

Arrived at the ferry port ontime and after a brief wait, we were loaded on.  It was only when we got out of the car that Grant realised that he’d left his bag behind.  This would be the bag with all his tech equipment – the Archos, the Dell Duo, the chargers…………  Behold!  Drama!!!

Fortunately, we had the car charger for his phone, so he managed to keep himself entertained for the journey, although he was a bit on the pouty side! 😉

I was a little apprehensive after the last trip we had but the school holidays were over and the Stena Plus lounge was populated enough for comfort, but not overcrowded and full of hyperactive children.  We indulged in a leisurely breakfast and settled in to chill out through the journey.

Sky news was on and one of the streaming banners caught my eye.  Apparently, the UK was expecting the tail end of a hurricane.  Where was going to be worst hit?  North Wales.  Situation promptely went from “Chilled” to “Chilling” as I wondered what would be in store for us at Ty Croes – which is right next to the sea!

However, when we landed, the sun was shining and it was a lovely day.  Once again, our poor abused Megane managed to drag our weighty selves, our marshalling gear and our caravan up the big hill.  As per our previous trip, I merrily shouted out “SPEEDBUMP” every time we came up to one.  This was a vain attempt to try and keep the crockery in the crockery cabinet.

Someone from Ty Croes must have read my previous blog though.  The stealth speed bumps going into the circuit were now clearly marked with bright yellow paint.

I still shouted out “SPEEDBUMP” though.  I like to feel I’m contributing.

Once we got to the circuit, we parked up in our usual spot alongside the med centre. After hooking up the power, it was off to Tesco for supplies (no Waitrose this trip – not after the last bill we got! ) Obviously, our main outlay was food.  Not beer.  No no no.  Definitely not beer!  And it’s a complete lie that Evil is still full of cans of Becks.  Lies, I tell you, LIES!

It being somewhat chillier and darker than our last trip, we didn’t do the evening sitting outside Evil – instead we wandered up to the Med Centre for a Father Ted fest! Lucky we were there, since I was the only person who knew how to get the projector working 😉

Back to Evil for a night’s sleep and then up at a very civilised time for sign on!  There are definitely benefits to staying at the circuit, and being able to roll straight out of bed, into your overalls and down to sign on is *right* up there!

During the day’s marshalling, the weather took a turn for the worse.  The wind started getting up and the rain was coming down sideways.  I was getting a bit worried about how we’d dry our gear (although the Oulton Wanderers were quick to offer the shelter of the old Med Centre if needed). There’s really no room in Evil for hanging up drying clothes, and as any marshal will tell you, damp proban smells like wet dog!  A really old wet dog.  With a bladder control issue and poo matted in its fur.  Fortunately, the rain cleared up at around 3 even though the wind was still quite bad, so we air dried!

Given the weather conditions, we decided that cooking inside would be our best option.  It was my first time cooking anything other than breakfast and it’s only when you try that you realise how serious the cooking limitations are when you only have three burners and a grill.  Particularly as you’re trying not to cook anything too strong smelling as you don’t want to have to live with smelling like a chip van or a curry house for as long as you keep your shed on wheels!  Still, 5 minute pasta with a stir in sauce?  How hard could that be….?

Well quite hard actually….. firstly, the stir in sauce turned out to be a warm through sauce.  Normally, I’d just bung it in the microwave, but in this case, I had to actually go hunting for Saucepan number 2.  Saucepan number 2 was rather surprised to be disturbed from its slumber and refused to release the kettle that was sitting in it (I bought one of those lightweight camping sets that has 3 pans and a kettle all stacked together).  While I was struggling to surgically remove the kettle, the pan with the pasta in it boiled over and the tortellini made a break for freedom.

Finally, I managed to wrest the kettle from a now very sulky looking saucepan number 2 and introduced it to its primary function.  Sauce-Pan.  A pan for sauce.  It reluctantly co-operated.  Then I discovered that we didn’t own a wooden spoon – or any spoon of a non-heat conducting kind that was long enough to stir the sauce.  I ended up having to use a metal dessert spoon with a teatowel wrapped around the handle!

Finally though, I had a sauce of a suitable temperature to go with the now rather soggy tortellini.  Time to drain the tortellini.  This is when I discovered that we didn’t have a colander.   Not a problem –  I decided to go old school and use the saucepan lid to cover the pan while the water drained out sideways.  But that meant finding the saucepan lid.  Of course, the saucepan lid in this set is also the frying pan.  The frying pan that was sitting at the back, unwashed, because I was going to fry eggs in it again on Sunday.

In the end, I used a plastic plate.  Managed to get about 2/3rds of the tortellini into the sink, but hey, we got there in the end.  Dinner was served.  Soggy tortellini that tasted vaguely of washing up liquid with an accompanying sauce that had managed to burn onto the bottom of the pan.  As for the garlic bread slices?  Well they had long since cooled and congealed to a texture that would really only have been suitable for chocking up Evil’s wheels.

Fortunately we were so hungry, we ate it anyway!

Then I went to make dessert.  Now, as I think I’ve made clear, the main thing I love about caravans is how they bring me back to my childhood.  This tends to have an effect on my shopping habits and things like Dairylea and orange squash (the old kind that still has sugar in it) sometimes accidentally drop into my shopping basket.

One of the other things that flings itself suicidally  into the groceries, while I’m being very grown up and contemplating Hummous, is Angel Delight.

You remember Angel Delight yes?  A worryingly brighly coloured powder that, when stirred into cold milk, becomes a strangly goopy, chemically flavoured sludge that masquerades as pudding.   It’s wonderful stuff! 🙂

So, feeling slighly smug that I at least had a measuring jug, I carefully measured out 300ml of milk.  Then went to get the whisk.  The whisk.  The whisk we didn’t own.  Uh oh……  Never mind, old school rules again – I decided I could just mix it in with a fork.  Hey, it works for scrambled eggs, why not for Angel Delight?

I’ll tell you why not.  Because Angel Delight, when wet, clogs together in little powdery lumps that defeat the wide spaces between the tines of the fork.  I beat and I beat and I beat.  There were little claggy lumps of Angel Delight flying everywhere with wild abandon.  There was Angel Delight in my hair.  There was Angel Delight on the walls.  There was probably Angel Delight pebbledashing the tent that had set up next door.  But it was all worth it in the end.  For at the end, I had……. pink milk with lumps in.

We ate it anyway.

Grant was totally worn out by the long day’s marshalling and the hard effort he’d put into sitting on the sofa laughing his arse off at me attempting to produce dinner and promptly fell asleep.

Me, being made of sterner stuff, wandered down to the bar just in time to assist with the last few quiz questions for the Marshals’ team!  I could hear the wind getting up again and expressed a little bit of worry to some of my fellow marshals, all seasoned caravaners.  “Not to worry” I was told.  “these things are guaranteed for up to 60mph winds.  Nothing to worry about”.

It was distinctly bad timing that their daughter then joined us, excitedly saying that the news had said that the winds were going to get up to 80mph….

When I was coming back from the bar,  the wind was definitely back.  With a vengeance.  Previously optimistic campers were now vainly chasing their tents around the paddock and our tent next-door neighbours (who presumably hoped Evil would shelter them from the wind) had given up on camping altogether and were loading their sleepy PJ’d children into the back of their transit.  And so it began……….

If the caravan is rocking, don’t come a knocking.  That makes rocking caravans sound like something that is both naughty and enjoyable.  I’m here to tell you, it’s not.  It’s very worrying to be tucked up in bed and find yourself swaying from side to side as the wind howls around the van.  I used to like being in a caravan and listening to the gentle pitter patter of the rain as I was tucked up warm in bed.  It’s less comforting when the rain is coming down sideways driven by 60mph gusts of wind. ……

The following day was dreadful in terms of weather.  Driving wind and rain made the whole day very uncomfortable.  That being said, a good marshalling crew can make all the difference between a good day and a bad day, and despite the conditions, mine was actually pretty good!

So now it’s Sunday night.  The rain has stopped, but the wind is still very much with us.  All our friends have left the circuit and headed off to their nice stable brick domiciles.  We were advised to move Evil down to the scrutiny shed, which would hopefully shelter her from the worst of the wind, rather than staying on the exposed hillside we were camped at.

So we moved down to the now virtually deserted paddock.  It was dark.  It was wild.  The wind sounded like a hoarde of werewolves that hadn’t eaten in a month.  The power lines were making that worrying “whum whum whum” noise that has certain elements of air raid siren.  The lampposts were swaying back and forth and the disturbing shadows this created made it feel like we were in the middle of a 70s schlock horror movie.

Attempts to watch the F1 Highlights were abandoned – our TV reception was so pixilated, it looked like everyone in F1 had turned into an accused paedophile leaving the courtroom!

Have you ever tried to sleep in a caravan that is being subjected to 60mph winds in a deserted motorsport paddock in the dead of night?

Here’s a tip.  You don’t sleep.

Still, it could have been worse.  Up on the hill, where we’d been previously, there was still a tent clinging tenaciously to the hillside.  Everytime I saw it, all I could think of was that old superglue ad where they glued the guy to the board and then hung him from a helicopter.

Great stuff that superglue!

So, not the best night’s sleep we’d ever had.  And now we had to worry about the journey back to the port.  The winds hadn’t died down significantly and the possibility of huge gusts of wind hitting the side of Evil was a serious concern.  We don’t generally go particularly fast while towing, but this journey had to be our slowest ever.  The ever-present threat of a “snake” loomed before us, to the point where it would have been quite possible to overtake us on one wheelie shoe.

Finally, we got back to Holyhead, just in time to get aboard the ferry.

Grant and I don’t generally suffer from seasickness and it had been a long time since the previous night’s fish and chips.  We were also knackered.  So we ordered breakfast.

Despite the stabilisers, the ferry was heaving from side to side in a slightly alarming way – although it wasn’t the worst trip on that route we’d ever had.

We ignored it, stolidly ploughing our way through a full Irish and then drinking lots of coffee.

Here’s a  little known piece of etiquette for you.  When you’re chugging down a fried breakfast in front of a bunch of people who are pea green and madly clutching the arm handles of their chairs for dear life, it’s considered rude to shout out “SPEED BUMP” every time the ferry does another jump in the air…….