Well it started off OK, we managed to get off the very damp field in Maghull without needing a tractor pull. I do try to avoid agreeing when some stranger offers to tug me off! Mind you the van slid the first several yards as evinced by some quite horrible muddy scars in the field. A deft manoeuvre to avoid the worst mud patches going through the gate meant all 4 wheels lost traction and the van headed sideways towards the electric fence. Fortunately the ground there was solid enough for me to regain control significantly to make a sharp turn and sail through the second gate onto the concrete safety of the farm yard. Was scary for a moment though.
The Maghull site was on a working smallholding with a chicken run which our parked van backed on to, so every time we opened the door there would be a rush of chickens looking for food. As we left the farm we picked up a box of very fresh eggs, laid by chickens we had begun to know personally. Nice!
The good fortune continued as we bagged Liz's 57th phone box library in a village just south of Preston. The first time we've had to wait for another library user to make her choice and vacate the box before we could effect an exchange.
Then we got to Kendal and it all went wrong! Firstly Kendal is a gateway to pretty much all of the Lake District and so a huge amount of traffic is funneled through it. Funneled being the operative word as it all has to pass through narrow streets and bridges. Slow and unpleasant driving. Or first port of call was a garage on an industrial estate on the far side of town to fill our LPG bottle. So we battled with the traffic through town and found the garage only to discover that their LPG pump was broken. The friendly (note the description here, I shall be referring to it later) lady suggested Calor Gas on a trading estate nearer to town. So we set the satnav which took us back over the bridge (I.e. back through the traffic) to the wrong trading estate - the one we wanted was back on the other side of the river (I.e. back through the traffic), so off we trundle. The grumpy old git (very soon this description will also be referenced) told us they weren't allowed to refill bottles. Grrrr!!!!
Now if you were counting river crossings you may realise we are the wrong side of the river for Kendal town. So back across the bridge (I.e. through the traffic) to park, choosing Homebase's car park. Nope that's 90 mins only so won't be enough. Need to right turn, into the traffic to the next car park. At last we are parked up!
You may have spotted a lot of driving around in heavy traffic and no real stop since we set out from Maghull. The more empathetic reader may be wondering, this all seems to have taken a long time, they must be hungry and, more importantly have overflowing bladders by now. Indeed, a public toilet was a pressing priority for both of us. We spot a small shopping centre leading onto the bus station, a most likely candidate. Excellent! Even better, the entrance has a map highlighting the facilities, as expected, at the back next to the depot. The map failed to mention the "Closed for maintenance" sign hung over the door, the sign itself also failed to mention a nearby alternative.
Assuming a cross-legged gait, probably reminiscent of some Romanian folk dance we minced down the high street until we found a department store. At last! Apart from the Gents was hidden in such a deep recess that I had to enquire. Remember that I told you to remember my earlier observation on the friendliness, or lack thereof, of native Kendalians. Well the shop assistant as did pretty much every one else we spoke with was pretty much of the grumpy git demeanour. We can only assume the friendly lady in the first LPG garage was not local!
So Kendal wasn't the best town we'd encountered but things must get better, surely? Then it started raining!
Enough, we headed out to find somewhere for the night. A pub in Ulverston sold 6 real ales and was happy for overnight parking. So off we trundled. Only to find the postage stamp car park already filled with 2 motorhomes :-( definitely not our day. A quick phone round, a campsite is found. End of the day.
Actually there were two silver linings. Firstly in Kendal we found a small artisan (if you are not familiar with the word it is synonymous with 'expensive') bakery. The rich dark bread turned out to be wonderful. The other highlight was a farm shop on the way out of Kendal. The usual interesting (and expensive) local produce meant buying burgers, sausages and beer. We did avoid the Kendal Mint Cake liqueur though! However the real highlight was that it sold raw, unpasteurised milk. Now you would have though that something as simple as unpasteurised milk from a farm would be a simple affair. OK not the cotton capped milkmaid astride a 3-legged stool ladling still-warm milk from a pail but something low-tech. Not so, the milk dispenser was a gleaning chrome and steel oversized drinks machine with two parts. Part one took a few coins and dispensed a 1 or 2 litre plastic milk bottle (exactly the same as used in supermarkets) ready for use in part two where another vending mechanism would pour an exact quantity of (one assumes) fresh milk into the recently purchased receptacle. After a couple of dispenses it seemed to steam clean itself to guarantee hygiene. Much higher tech than expected but the milk was delicious.