Even though we are back in England it's still well over 300 miles to home and about 150 to our next destination, the Wirral Folk Festival just outside Ellesmere Port.
An early awakening this morning. About 5:30am there is a rapid tapping noise on the van. This is a worry, has one of our camping neighbours spotted a problem? Have we slept through some disaster?
No, it's not a neighbour but a murmuration of starlings setting up camp on our roof. I get up to suggest an alternate venue and they move on. Not before one of them has made a political statement about the fact that England should embrace Scotland's more liberal Land Reform act by defecating all over my sun roof. So if you were wandering the road near Dalston, Carlisle at 5:30 this morning your eyes were not playing tricks. That really was the top half of a nightshirt attired bloke poking out from his campervan trying desperately to reach bird poo with a sponge tied to the end of a large plastic serving spoon!
Before leaving let's sing the praises of this Carlisle campsite. Location isn't great, although if you are happy to walk a mile down a treacherously fast road the Spinners Arms makes up for it. What the site does have is the best facilities, bar none! It is a Caravan Club certified site so limited to 5 pitches. Each is a huge bay of rolled stone hardstand with its own electric and water and adequate grass for awnings. Overkill for our tiny van of course. But what really makes the site special is the toilet and shower. OK so there is only one of each but they are superb. Well heated they are cosy warn and just like you might expect in an expensive large house. The shower itself is nearly the size of our van, and that's just the wetting bit, the palatial changing room is complete with huge radiator, comfy chair, hairdryer and sink. Luxury I tell you! Certainly better than what we've been used to on the road and even bettered then my own humble facilities back home! Definitely worth the £14 a night!
Back roads for a while until the inevitability of the M6. At least the motorway tedium is alleviated by Bill Bryson reading from his biography of Shakespeare. However LPG would be good and there are a couple of likely candidates in the Kirby Longsdale area so the tedium is broken as we leave the M6 in search of gas. That was easy. A full tank of LPG, the entire trip around Scotland has used just 2.64l of gas, at a replenishment cost of £1.55. I reckon the tank holds about 4.5l so we can defer filling until the dial is firmly in the yellow. At least now we can test running the fridge off LPG and see how much that uses. Will be trying that this weekend.
Onward into Kirby Longsdale but just outside the town centre we stumble upon a Booths supermarket. Oh, frabjous day, callooh callay, out favourite food shop. Imagine the best of Waitrose, M&S and huge well-stocked off licence all in one building. Well, Booths is better!
Some more back roads and then the M6 again. We leave early, close to Warrington because Liz has 4 phonebox libraries earmarked. I'm glad to get off the motorway onto roads with a little shade. It's a glorious sunny day and just a little hot in the van. Air con would help but the real concern is the sun on my bare arms as I drive. Amazingly all 4 of the boxes are easy to find, even more amazingly all are easy to park at too. Mission accomplished as was a short, uninspiring visit to Northwich.
Time is pressing now, we are a little later than hoped (the 45 mins in Booths being the main culprit) and it will be rush hour as we try and negotiate Chester. Still everything seems to be moving well.
Alas! TomTom tells us it is 0.6 miles in this non-moving traffic to the roundabout where we turn left towards Chester. We ask Waze for a second opinion and it confirms that and also adds that at least the next two miles or so towards Chester to connect with the M53 have an average speed of 6mph. Oh bother! Waze has a cunning plan, don't turn left towards our destination but at the roundabout go right, totally the opposite direction. This is double good because everything is going left on the roundabout which means as we approach we can pull out into the oncoming lane and drive up and pull back into the unoccupied right turn lane and almost instantly get around the roundabout. But we are definitely heading away from our destination! Then we are directed into a small back road, just wide enough for two passing cars, then another, then a short stretch of B road, another country lane, a mile of so of A road, another back road and there are signs to Cheshire Oaks, next for to our destination. Now we are back on main roads, well clear of any traffic and almost there. Absolutely fantastic. Bravo Waze!!
It's been a good day today and the evening's sing around as a precursor to the Folk Festival rounds it off nicely. This is a lovely friendly Festival, large enough to mainstream Ralph McTell, The Oyster Band, Eddi Reader et al but small enough for the Folk club to have a packet of biscuits (packet not box) as one of its raffle prizes.
Oh and this is Merseyside, Deeside, everyone is cheerful and friendly and speaks to strangers. My sort of town!