Been a while

ian ball
July 1, 2018

Been a turbulent year due to a few life issues but the dark clouds have moved on and its time to start traveling and having new adventures unhindered.

The first update is that Kitty failed her MOT this year, not on to much track rod ends, O/S/F swivel joint, oil leak engine, yes it fell foul of the new MOT criteria and some wielding, I have had to move house and I don’t have the room to work on Kitty, I’ve had to make a hard choice……she has to go, Kitty will be missed but I have replaced her with a new vehicle Kitty 2 , a Discovery 3 TDV6 HSE , adventures in comfort.

Kitty 1 and the new Kitty 2

Got a few trips planned going to try and visit the places missed on last years calendar challenge ill keep you posted on them and any other adventures, going to add a roof rack so the roof top tent can be used if required but no majors changes.

Sorry its been a while.



National Trust Dyrham Park

ian ball
January 14, 2018

Day Visit to Dyrham Park which is part of the National trust, situated on the A46 north of Bath ,Dyrham house is set in vast undulating grounds and is famous for its Herds of deer.

Arriving at the car park you have two options walk down to the house through the grounds and hopefully see the deer or a shuttle bus service ever 10 mins to and from the house.

Being January its was bitterly cold but we didn’t let this put us off ,approaching the house look for the green head watching you.

The current house was built for William Blathwayt in stages during the 17th and early 18th centuries on the site of a previous manor house, with the final facade being designed by William Talman. It contains art works and furniture from around the world, particularly Holland, and includes a collection of Dutch Masters. The house is linked to the 13th-century church of St Peter, where many of the Blathwayt family are buried. The house is surrounded by 274 acres (111 ha) of formal gardens, and parkland which supports a herd of fallow deer. The grounds, which were originally laid out by George London and later developed by Charles Harcourt Masters, include water features and statuary.

In 1683, Blathwayt obtained by purchase the office of Secretary at War. This was originally merely the role of secretary to the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army but under Blathwayt the remit of the Secretary was greatly expanded to encompass all areas of Army administration. He effectively established the War Office as a department of the government, although he had very little input into the actual conduct of wars. Issues of strategic policy during wartime were managed by the Northern and Southern Departments (the predecessors of today’s Foreign Office and Home Office respectively). He was a witness for the prosecution at the Trial of the Seven Bishops in 1688.

“WILLIAM BLATHWAYT” portrait by Michael Dahl (1656-1743) oil on canvas, in the Great Hall at Dyrham Park.

He became a Whig Member of Parliament for Bath in 1693 (a post which he retained until 1710).

The house is heavily Dutch inspired with a great collection of Delftware Pottery.

this bed was purchased for a Royal Visit that never happened

With the tour of the house over, it was a small tour not sure if more of the house is open in the summer, we headed to the cafe for a coffee and some food.

The last port of call before leaving was the childrens play area and yes this is a nice climb up the side of a hill, with various thing for the kids to do and it also has a compost toilet!!!!!

We had a great couple of hours we saw the Deer being feed, the only negative comment i have is that the tour of the house did not show enough and was a very small part, not sure is this is due to the time off year.


ian ball
January 7, 2018

It been 6 months since I brought the RC1600 portable cooler, so I believe it’s time to give it a quick review.

When the planning started for the summer 2017 trip I a was in need of a silent fridge the 3 way option appealed (12v,mains,gas), this kind of covered all situations that we may encounter and the DOMETIC COMBICOOL RC 1600 was with in the budget I had set myself.

Powerful compression cooling and lightweight thermoelectrics, the Dometic CombiCool RC 1600 EGP gives you a multitude of options. Powered by 12 V supply from a vehicle, 230 V from the mains, or gas power in more remote locations, this cooler offers ultimate flexibility and freedom to travel. The robust cooler also excels with its perfectly silent absorption technology. A spacious cooling option with vertical space for 1.5 and 2 l bottles.

Whilst away on our travels we used it in gas, 12v and mains format with no issues what so ever, I found and this is stated in the instructions manual to start the cooler on mains for a couple of hours before switching to 12 volts it aids in getting the cooler to temperature quicker. When the cooler is in use it has to be level, I didn’ find this a real issue as most of the time you set up camp you need your vehicle level for sleeping, I did purchase some camping level ramps just in case.

Gas was only used when stationary for safety reasons if no mains was available and it did exactly what it said on the tin

12 volts,I have a leisure battery fitted to the LR and I have to admit this cooler can be hungry on Amps but most of the time we used mains power on the campsites we stayed at.

Mains no issues what so ever, currently being used in the home as a extra fridge with no problems.

All I can say is that the cooler will need to be level to work and that I’m 100% satisfied with this product.

RNLI College Poole

ian ball
December 22, 2017

Been a while since the last post, its close to Christmas so a weekend shopping trip to Poole, Dorset was organised not a camping trip to cold but we would be staying at the RNLI College in Poole, its a place I would never of thought of staying at but yes they have a hotel/conference centre its a 10 min walk from the train station and a short walk to the town centre.

Room with a view

We parked Kitty in the secure car park and she instantly made friends with these two chaps, so she was a happy little Defender. The rooms are beautiful with an amazing view, all unpacked off to Poole for a spot of shopping with a couple of cheeky ciders thrown in.




All shopped out and the light fading time to head back for a meal in the hotel restaurant, which I have to say was good, friendly staff good food.

After a goodnights sleep we set off for a day at Swanage with its little nik nak shops and of course the steam railway that was running Santa special’s. Swanage Railway



Next place on the bucket list was Durlston Castle that has a great little coffee shop, refreshed with a coffee and cake we explored the Victorian Castle and set off along the costal path to the light house

With time ticking by we decided to use the Bramble Bay Chain Ferry back to Poole which was cheap as chips.

To finish off it was a great weekend away The RNLI College its a great place to stay and an excellent base camp. Check out the links for more information.

Lake Garda, Sanremo and Home Summer Trip 2017 Part 8

ian ball
November 5, 2017


Our time in Venice had come to an end and it was time to continue our journey into Italy, but where to go.

Italy had been left as a blank canvass after Venice so we could pick somewhere on a whim to visit, after a few ideas we decided Lake Garda would be the next destination.

We left Venice and hit the scenic back roads that passed through Veneto countryside criss-crossed with canals and dykes that drain the land to create arable farmland for the important vineyards. It is very similar to the Fens of East Anglia UK.

Arriving at Lake Garda the campsite was located, EUROCAMPING PACENGO which is a great site, big but it has adequate shower/toilets, supermarket and nice sized swimming pool with bar.

The camp was set up and the evening meal prepared, then a walk down to the Lake finding a bar on the shore we sat and had a night cap…or two then off to bed for a good nights sleep.

The morning sun rose to mother natures choir of feathered friends it was going to be another scorching day we had been blessed on this holiday so far with great weather and we all hoped it would last.

Hitting the Lake after breakfast we pumped up the kayak and set off to the middle of the lake. It is a stunning place and after a couple of days of relaxing and swimming we hit the road for two of our travelers this would be the final Journey and they would be home in Sanremo.

We arrived in Sanremo and this would be base camp for a few days, we stayed at my sister’s house, the top two floors offer holidaying accommodation, “HOUSE WITH VIEW”

Whilst staying in Sanremo we visited Rocchetta Nervina a village with a little gem that runs through it, the river that winds and tumbles over the rocks in this medieval village creating rock pools that are the perfect summer pools to swim in.


The holiday was quickly drawing to a close, myself and Lily had one last adventure to complete the long drive to the Channel Tunnel, which was not without its challenges a burst radiator bottom hose that luckily was modified to get us home to the UK.

We even had a chance to pay our respect to all those that gave up their lives for us all to enjoy a free future. We shall remember them.

This Holiday was a daunting trip, but we all enjoyed it, we visited historical sites and enjoyed the beautiful weather that stuck with us for the entire trip.

I would like to thank all the people of every country we visited for making it a memorable experience that will stay with us for a lifetime.



Happy Halloween

ian ball
October 31, 2017

Venice here we come part 7

ian ball
October 12, 2017

After a good nights sleep, we left Plitvice Lakes and hit the roads to Venice travelling through the countryside that surrounds Plitvice Lakes, nearly every farm has its own small stole outside selling produce mainly honey it is well worth stopping off and stocking up on Pooh bears favourite food.

We soon hit the Croatian coastline and followed it North it is a stunning drive with plenty of little campsites next to the beach many noted for a visit in the future.

As we left Croatia we re-entered Slovenia for the last time before entering Italy which according to Liam is the best country to visit (he does live there) and I have to admit it wasn’t going to let us down.

We chugged on with our sights set on  Camping Rialto , driving in Italy towards Venice is a pleasurable experience with the marsh/swap on the left and vast farmlands to the right.

We arrived and set up camp and decided to catch the bus to Venice, the bus stop is located right outside the campsite and you can buy tickets at the reception.

This was mine and Lily’s first visit to Venice and I have to say wow it’s stunning with plenty to see around every corner, busy but well worth it.

The Republic of Venice was a major financial and maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and a staging area for the Crusades and the Battle of Lepanto, as well as a very important centre of commerce (especially silk, grain, and spice) and art in the 13th century up to the end of the 17th century. The City State of Venice is considered to have been the first real international financial centre which gradually emerged from the 9th century to its peak in the 14th century. This made Venice a wealthy city throughout most of its history.

It is also known for its several important artistic movements, especially the Renaissance period. After the Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna, the Republic was annexed by the Austrian Empire, until it became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866, following a referendum held as a result of the Third Italian War of Independence. Venice has played an important role in the history of symphonic and operatic music, and it is the birthplace of Antonio Vivaldi.Venice has been ranked the most beautiful city in the world as of 2016.The city is facing some major challenges, however, including financial difficulties, erosion, pollution, subsidence and an excessive number of tourists in peak periods.

Venice is built on an archipelago of 118 islands formed by 177 canals in a shallow lagoon, connected by 409 bridges. In the old centre, the canals serve the function of roads, and almost every form of transport is on water or on foot. In the 19th century, a causeway to the mainland brought the Venezia Santa Lucia railway station to Venice, and the Ponte della Libertà road causeway and parking facilities (in Tronchetto island and in piazzale Roma) were built during the 20th century. Beyond the road and rail land entrances at the northern edge of the city, transportation within the city remains (as it was in centuries past) entirely on water or on foot. Venice is Europe’s largest urban car-free area. Venice is unique in Europe, in having remained a sizeable functioning city in the 21st century entirely without motorcars or trucks.

We soon got to our destination after a long walk and there it sat in front of us Piazza San Marco all I could think of was how close the Assassin’s Creed game had depicted it, what a place unbelievable, the beauty is out of this world.

Assassin’s Creed

What can I say about Venice……It’s beautiful but it’s so expensive for example a gondola ride is not far short of a £100 a glass of wine is an eye-watering £12 the saving grace is a dirty Mac’s is the same price all over the world.

Don’t let the cost of this place put you off it is well worth a visit.

It even may start sinking as you take your photos

More of Croatia Summer Trip 2017 Part 6

ian ball
October 1, 2017


With our stay in Split coming to an end we spent our last day at the beach with the temperatures hitting 40 degrees again plenty of suntan lotion was required.

After packing Kitty and saying our goodbyes to our host Rosa the owner of the guest house we hit the road for a drive north to the Plitvice Lakes National Park which  looked awesome, 20km out of Split there was a sudden “Oh No” from the back seat of the truck, “Whats wrong I asked” , Sharon had only left her 2 Ipads in a draw at the Guesthouse, so back we went and got them crisis averted. For a second time, we said goodbye to Split and what a great time we had had some great memories and a place that will be visited again I’m for sure.

We chugged along the country roads(204km), using these rather than the highways so we could indulge ourselves up close with the local communities of Croatia, with all the windows and air vents open it made no difference the heat of the day was blistering it felt like a hair dryer was being held in your face on full heat. In the distance, flames slithered up the hills consuming all vegetation in its path luckily we would not be venturing towards the fires.

We arrived in Plitvice Lakes National Park in good time and the walk began around this gem from Mother Natures crown.


The sixteen lakes are separated into an upper and lower cluster formed by runoff from the mountains, descending from an altitude of 636 to 503 m (2,087 to 1,650 ft) over a distance of some eight km, aligned in a south-north direction. The lakes collectively cover an area of about two square kilometres (0.77 square miles), with the water exiting from the lowest lake forming the Korana River.

The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The colors change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight.

I will just leave you with some photos and a video of this stunning place


Gear 360

Part 7 sees us travel to Venice  Italy




Königssee Lake then On wards to Croatia Part 5 summer trip 2017

ian ball
September 19, 2017


Our last day in the stunning German alps was spent at Königssee Lake, what a beautiful place the water is crystal clear, we were lucky that a traditional Bavarian festival was taking place.

Situated within the Berchtesgaden Alps in the municipality of Schönau am Königsee, just south of Berchtesgaden and the Austrian city of Salzburg, the Königssee is Germany’s third deepest lake. Located at a Jurassic rift, it was formed by glaciers during the last ice age. It stretches about 7.7 km (4.8 mi) in a north-south direction, and is about 1.7 km (1 mi) across at its widest point. Except at its outlet, the Königsseer Ache at the village of Königssee, the lake is similar to a fjord, being surrounded by the steeply-rising flanks of mountains up to 2,700 m (8,900 ft), including the Watzmann massif in the west.


The literal translation of the name, Königssee, appears to be “king’s lake”; however while German: König does indeed mean “king”, there had been no Bavarian kings since the days of Louis the German until Elector Maximilian I Joseph assumed the royal title in 1806. Therefore, the name more probably stems from the first name Kuno of local nobles, who appear in several historical sources referring to the donation of the Berchtesgaden Provostry in the twelfth century; the lake was formerly called Kunigsee.

The Königssee Railway (Königsseebahn) served the lake from 1909 until 1965. Its last tracks were dismantled during 1971, and the former station of the Königssee Railway in Berchtesgaden (Königsseer Bahnhof) was demolished in 2012. The only remaining element of the railway is the Königsee station, which is now a restaurant. The track route is mostly used as a walking path.

In 1944 a sub-camp of the Dachau concentration camp was located near where Heinrich Himmler had a residence built at Schönau for his mistress Hedwig Potthast.


With Kitty all packed again we left Hotel Zum Turken for a mad dash across Austria and Solvenia our destination was Novi Grad in Croatia for a one night stop to rest before the final push to Split.


The closer we got to Croatia the weather became warmer and warmer, all the windows and front flaps open made no difference but we would soon find out that Split would be an oven.


We arrived in Split after a gruelling drive with a small issue that had developed with Kitty, the immobiliser relay on the fuel pump had worked lose thus cutting the engine out momentarily this problem was solved with a hair band to get us on our way.

We would be staying at a guesthouse about a two miles from the centre of Split ,it was early evening so we decided to have a meal and explore Split in the morning, after asking the guesthouse owner the best places to eat, we walked and found a gem of a place that would become our regular restaurant for our stay, Konoba Pizzeria Dalmatino .


The sun rose it had been another hot night 30 degrees thank god we had air-con in the rooms, luckly the bus stop was close by and we travelled to the centre of Split getting off at the vast bazaar, the sun was relentless and the temperature was already 40 degrees.

Diocletian’s Palace  is an ancient palace built for the Roman Emperor Diocletian at the turn of the fourth century AD, that today forms about half the old town of Split, Croatia. While it is referred to as a “palace” because of its intended use as the retirement residence of Diocletian, the term can be misleading as the structure is massive and more resembles a large fortress: about half of it was for Diocletian’s personal use, and the rest housed the military garrison.

Diocletian built the massive palace in preparation for his retirement on 1 May 305 AD. It lies in a bay on the south side of a short peninsula running out from the Dalmatian coast, four miles from Salona, the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia. The terrain slopes gently seaward and is typical karst, consisting of low limestone ridges running east to west with marl in the clefts between them.


After the Romans abandoned the site, the Palace remained empty for several centuries. In the 7th century, nearby residents fled to the walled palace in an effort to escape invading Croats. Since then the palace has been occupied, with residents making their homes and businesses within the palace basement and directly in its walls. Today many restaurants and shops, and some homes, can still be found within the walls.

After the Middle Ages the palace was virtually unknown in the rest of Europe until the Scottish neo-classical architect Robert Adam had the ruins surveyed and, with the aid of French artist and antiquary Charles-Louis Clérisseau and several draughtsmen, published Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia (London, 1764).

Diocletian’s palace was an inspiration for Adam’s new style of Neoclassical architecture and the publication of measured drawings brought it into the design vocabulary of European architecture for the first time. A few decades later, in 1782, the French painter Louis-François Cassas created drawings of the palace, published by Joseph Lavallée in 1802 in the chronicles of his voyages.

This palace is today, with all the most important historical buildings, in the centre of the city of Split. Diocletian’s Palace far transcends local importance because of its degree of preservation. The Palace is one of the most famous and complete architectural and cultural features on the Croatian Adriatic coast. As the world’s most complete remains of a Roman palace, it holds an outstanding place in Mediterranean, European and world heritage.


Diocletian’s Palace is such a beautiful place, the beauty is immense and you cannot help but fall in love with Split.

Split has everything a traveller could want, many restaurants and cafes and those all important gift shops and not forgetting the bazaar.








perfect photo bomb



part 6 to follow more Croatia adventures







Summer trip 2017 Part 4 The Eagles Nest( Kehlsteinhaus)

ian ball
September 3, 2017

We awoke and was pleased that the ghostly SS officers had had better things to do that night which was a great relief to us, we would be heading off to The Eagle’s Nest with just a short 10 min walk from our hotel we purchased our bus tickets as only buses are allowed to travel the road up to the Nest, and I can assure you this is totally understandable.



The Kehlsteinhaus is situated on a ridge atop the Kehlstein, a 1,834 m (6,017 ft) subpeak of the Hoher Göll rising above the town of Berchtesgaden. It was commissioned by Martin Bormann in the summer of 1937 as a 50th birthday gift for Adolf Hitler. Paid for by the Nazi Party, it was completed in 13 months but held until a formal presentation on April 20, 1939. A 4 m (13 ft) wide approach road climbs 800 m (2,600 ft) over 6.5 km (4.0 mi). Costing RM 30 million to build (about 150 million inflation-adjusted euros in 2007), it includes five tunnels but only one hairpin turn.

From a large car park a 124 m (407 ft) entry tunnel leads to an ornate elevator which ascends the final 124 m (407 ft) to the building. The lift interior is surfaced with polished brass, Venetian mirrors, and green leather. Construction of the entire project cost the lives of 12 workers. The building’s main reception room is dominated by a fireplace of red Italian marble presented by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, which was damaged by Allied soldiers chipping off pieces to take home as souvenirs. Much of the furniture was designed by Paul László. The building had a completely electric appliance kitchen, which was unusual in 1937, but was never used to cook meals; instead, meals were prepared in town and taken to the kitchen on the mountain top to be reheated. The building also maintains heated floors, with heating required for at least two days prior in order for the temperature to be comfortable enough for visitors.

The Eagles nest is a place that must be visited it is stunning the views will take your breath away.

little sister




Gear 360 video watch through YouTube