Our Camper Van Road Trip

A few years ago, my parents turned our family home into a self catering holiday let. It’s such a pleasure to spend time there and probably my favourite place on earth but that means I hardly get to go visit, not just because I live the other side of the world, but because it is always fully booked whenever I go home! It can be found in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire on the edge of Ellis Reddings Wood, a place where as kids, my brother and I would climb trees and build dens. A world away from our lives in Singapore and Ecuador.

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The beautiful river wye

Given its location, there’s no surprise that when I asked my parents if it was available for us to stay at recently, they delivered the news  that it had back to back bookings all summer. We weren’t going to let that stop us from visiting this beautiful corner of England. Earlier this year, Mum and Dad purchased a VW camper van so we packed it up and off we went!

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We stopped off via the Rebellion Brewery in Marlow to get some supplies for our trip and some early morning beer sampling (just a sip for Dad, our designated driver!). Our next stop and one of my favourite farm markets at Gloucester’s Over Farm where we fed some of their animals and bought a few more supplies for our BBQ later on that day.

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Our final destination was Symonds Yat West, we used to walk along to here from our home when I was a kid and I have so many memories of this place it was great to come back and make some new ones. Just across the river and along slightly are the seven sisters I spoke of a couple of posts ago. We only had time to stay one night so lunchtime the next day, off we went, first stopping at Much Marcle’s famous Westons Cider Mill, we then had a short stop and wander around Burford, a very pretty although slightly overrun with tourists, town in the Cotswolds.

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The main high street in Burford

It was a lot of fun going away in my parents van and we hope to do it again some day in the not so distant future! I hope you enjoy the photos.

Mrs D xoxo

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Burford
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One of over farms pigs
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Cooking some chicken from the butcher at Over Farm on Dad’s Cobb BBQ
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Eeyore!!!!
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Ostriches eating grain at Over Farm
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Beating the chain fairies

I’m currently sat on the only free space on my bed, which is covered in suitcases that contain our essentials for the next 5-6 weeks whilst the remainder of our worldly possessions take their first trip south of the equator for our next big move. I’m becoming a dab hand at this moving malarky now. The first couple of times,  I would have been frantically sorting through my fridge throwing away the last drabs of food and the like which we can’t ship. I am pleased to say that this task was accomplished two days prior to the packing teams arrival today.

I want to share this quick tip with you for when you head off on your next holiday or house move. It is a huge time saver once I come to unpacking my necklaces keeping those chain fairies at bay!

Simply take a straw, I like to use the big wide ones you can get for a few bucks in Ikea, measure it against the length of the chain and cut to size before threading the necklace through the straw and closing the catch. I then gently wrap it in a piece of kitchen paper, making sure it’s completely covered, before placing into a sandwich bag to keep it all together.

 

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Walking the Seven Sisters – The In Laws Revenge!

Having taken my in laws on a trek around the extremely hot and humid Singaporean Rainforest a couple of weeks ago, we could only assume it was revenge they were after when on a relaxing day at theirs, we were taken for a walk along the coast at the Seven Sisters National Park. As a child, our family regularly walked around the Seven Sisters but those Sisters were part of a different family in the Shire of Hereford. The ones we were to discover a couple of weeks ago, located in Sussex, are an equally beautiful natural site but a contrast to the valley gorge I am familiar with.

Since we had the use of two cars, we drove from their home to Eastbourne where we parked one car before proceeding west along the A259 to the Cuckmere Riverside Car Park, Exceat. You could, for an easier yet still tough walk, park one car at the Burling Gap visitor centre to cut the walk almost in half. However, the full walk which we did is approximately 10 miles.
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We commenced near the entrance to the car park by Cuckmere River, not, as we first tried, out the back of the car park along the river. We spotted a couple trying this and having to turn back just as we did so it is evidently a common mistake!

Once we made our way along the trail, I really appreciated seeing some farm animals in the form of sheep and cows, we don’t get to see animals like this in Singapore!
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The path is very much up and down as we took each Sister with gratifying defeat. We were lucky to have a clear day with fantastic views out across the English Channel.

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Stopping off for a coffee and a cake to refuel at the Birling Gap visitor centre, we appreciated the rest before trudging on.  Just next door to the cafe are a small row of coast guard cottages, we learnt that there used to be a few more houses before the cliff edge but these have been eroded over time by crumbling chalk underneath. Upon reaching Burling Gap, we had passed the Seven Sisters but we still had a few more hills to pass before the finish line.

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There is a second rest spot at the Belle Tout Lighthouse, now a B and B slash tea room, the light house was decommissioned over a hundred years ago for many reasons including that ships could not see it in the cliff top position during mist deeming it pretty useless. There is a new lighthouse located at the bottom of the cliffs now which makes for some fantastic photos.

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As we began our final descent, I for one felt a sense of achievement for the walk we had accomplished.

Mrs D xoxo

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The Lion City Bucket List: The HSBC Treetop Trail

A visit from my in laws a few weeks ago gave us the opportunity to knock some more things off our bucket list and show them a side of Singapore they were yet to see. The HSBC Treetop Trail at the MacRitchie Reservoir Park has been on my to do list for a long time and we were looking for a nice walk to take them on so it seemed like a perfect option!
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I quickly googled to find the nearest car park and we headed to Venus Drive, just to the west of Bishan Park. What I didn’t read was that this car park was 2.5km from the start of the treetop trail but luckily we had comfy shoes and plenty of water to keep us going!

As you start along the path located at the far end of the car park, there is plenty of flora and fauna to be seen. We followed along the side of a stream  for a short time before reaching a spot where we spotted a young family of long tailed macaques which inhabit much of Singapore’s rainforest areas. When we glanced into the distance, we noticed there were many more running around the forest floor and in the trees. I managed to get a shot of the family together but I was being careful not to disturb them in their natural habitat. Taking care to avoid any snakes as per the signs(!) we continued on our way up a short road which lead us to the Bukit Kalang Service Reservoir, spotting a couple of lizards sunning themselves on the tarmac, before joining the track again.

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Upon reaching the Ranger Station, we found public toilets and ice cold fountain water to top up our bottles with. It wasn’t much further before we started the treetop trail.

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The trail is one way traffic so make sure you access it from this side! When you look over to the right, you get a fantastic view of the MacRitchie Reservoir. It’s not as long as I thought and we were soon back on solid ground. The next stage is a little challenging although easy under foot with a boardwalk style path and stairs taking you up and down the hilly section of rainforest.  We spotted a little frog under the path and kept our eyes peeled for more of those Macaques swinging in the trees up above us.

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We eventually reached the end of the boardwalk and took a left which lead us around and back up to the ranger station, by now, we were in much need of liquid refreshment! The walk back always seems quicker once you know where you are heading and once we reached the car, a blast of air con was much appreciated!

After our long and sweaty walk, we thought we had earned a treat and headed over to Peperoni in Greenwood where we enjoyed one of their 21 inch pizzas with an ice cold beer! 😉

Note that if you are planning to walk in Bukit tima Nature Reserve, the path is closed from September 2014 until March 2015 with limited access from then until the end of 2016 so if you want to head over there, now is the time!

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Mrs D xoxo

Leaving Singapore, a taxing surprise

Since we received our Australian Visa’s and my husbands start date for his new position down under last month, the wheels are in motion and we’re almost going into auto pilot. Most evenings will now be spent catching up on any news each of us have had on the move, doing research into items on our ever evolving to do list. I have dusted off my ‘Move to Singapore’ notebook and am running through the generic moving country items to add ready for when we need them. Mainly the general list of who to advise of our new address, or, in our case, who to advise that we will be of no fixed address for 8 weeks.

One of the things that truly surprised me was when my husband and I were having a catch up the other night and he informed me that he won’t be getting paid at the end of August. Of course I assumed I had misheard him, although we won’t need to pay rent out of that pay packet and our lease car will have been returned earlier in the month, so only the minor bills like TV, internet etc will need to be paid. It turns out that when you are leaving the country, you must give the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore one months notice of your leave. In that period, they assess our tax situation and whether we owe them any money, until this is complete we can’t leave the country. Having never had this when leaving a country before, it really surprised me. We either get whats left after the tax bill has been deducted, or a bill for any additional monies owed. It seems a very skeptical way to do things but slightly more organised than the Swiss who are yet to pay our overpaid tax from 2012! I guess thats the difference when you are being taxed at source!

 

Mrs D xoxo