Saturday, April 1, 2017

Eight Years as an Accidental Country Girl!

As it is past 12 midday, you can continue reading without fear of falling into an April Fool's trap!

Other than it being Natalie's birthday, and welcome Natalie to the "Fabulous Fifties Club," today is the day we moved into High Meadow Ranch some eight years ago.

The night before we moved, Mike and I drove up here as we had three cars and needed to drop one at the new house before moving day arrived. This was the first time that I had never been into High Meadow Ranch during evening hours as when the home was in construction, we always visited at the weekends, and always during the day.

I remember driving my little sporty Nissan 350z behind Mike and pulling into the sub-division and recalling with horror of being in total darkness and hearing absolutely nothing. I had never experienced such a thing in my life having always been a City Girl, born and bred. He we were in the middle of nowhere, with no street lights and absolutely NO noise!

Eight very happy years later, and I find it comforting to step out into the garden first thing in the morning and hear the worms wiggling in the ground and the leaves rustling in the breeze. As night falls and darkness descends, I think nothing of the blackness of the night only occasionally broken by some crazy night golfers out there on the course playing with luminous golf balls and howling with laughter as they pass through.

Street lights, car alarms, urbanites weaving their way home after a night on the tiles, police sirens and all other noise makers..............................stay away from High Meadow Ranch as an accidental country girl lives here!

Our lot being cleared for construction.

This is how construction turned out!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

Today is Mother's Day in England!

I have no idea why the UK and the US have different dates for Mother's Day as the date for Father's Day is the same. How confusing is that!

In honour of my Mum, here are some pics of the two of us together:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Elvis makes a guest appearance!

A throwback to nine years ago when Mike and I married in Las Vegas with a guest appearance by Elvis.

Making his blogging debut is our beloved friend "Uncle Mike," the best man, Chris' godfather, our traveling companion and all round good guy.

We had such a fun day and thank you to all those who helped make the memories. A special call out to Mr. Bob, pictured below (far left), who is also making his blogging debut. Mr. Bob, a very, very dear friend tries relentlessly to help keep Mike out of trouble. For nine years Mr. Bob has nudged, coaxed and blatantly reminded Mike of our anniversary date. Today is no exception and thank you Bob for the email!

Bob is pictured here with Manuel and Isa.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day and a special call out to Paddy Hagerty, my Dad, who is Irish!

Here's a selfie of Mum, Dad and me in Eastbourne, East Sussex, England where we were on holiday last September.

Fast forward to modern day Dublin, pictured below, where we visited in December 2015. This is the River Liffy which flows through the centre of Dublin and which has distinct memories for my Dad.

It wouldn't be a proper St. Patrick's Day without a pint of Guinness, and it would have been rude not to visit the Guinness Factory while we were in town, and partake of the local brew! Here's a picture from within the factory which certainly has the visitor tour nailed!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Remember the driving lessons........................................!

I am not sure if you have had time to read the blog titled "driving lessons" but it talks about safety, recognizing hazards, etc.

Here is the evidence that perhaps Mike was not fully present as yesterday's lesson! Mike is driving from Red Bay, Alabama to Marksville, Louisiana and just to scare me senseless, he turns up the music, takes both hands off the steering wheel and does the Mike driving dance.....................OMG!(oh my god)..................there were no other cars anywhere to be seen, but still!

I will book him another lesson!

Driving Lessons

A few weeks ago at the Houston Recreational Vehicle (RV) show, we bump into Bob Tiffin, the owner of Tiffin Motor Homes. We proudly share with him that we have bought one of his vehicles and would like to find someone to give us some driving lessons. As ever, Mr. Tiffin comes to the rescue with the name of the person who taught Tiffin drivers!

Enter Jimmy Johnson and what a wonderful teacher and interesting man Mr. Johnson turns out to be. We book him for a "full" day meaning as many hours as we can take.

Jimmy turns up at 8.30 a.m. and starts with an hour-long introduction to safe, RV driving. He talks us through developing a pre-trip inspection check-list (one of my Darling's pet topics); adjusting the mirrors especially the lower section where you need to be able to see the back tyres to ensure you are able to clear corners; on and off ramps; off tracking and tail swing; and remembering that we are now driving a vehicle that is 60' in length, is 13' 2" tall and weighs around two tonnes!

Mike takes the driver's seat and proceeds to Muscle Shoals in Alabama some 40 miles away from Red Bay. That said, Jimmy takes us on a route that likely we would not have chosen but it is one which can test a driver's skill - two lane road, very hilly, severe drop off on the passenger side, over hanging trees - you name the hazard, the route has it!

We stop for lunch and I begin to seriously drag my feet. I want to drive. Really. I really want to drive but it is just nerve racking and if there is anything I can do to slow the inevitable, I am in the process of doing it!

Finally, Jimmy calls me out and it's my turn behind the wheel. He refuses to listen to my request to stay in the parking lot (car park) where we are and I'm off and driving, albeit very slowly. Jimmy takes no hostages.............................NO hostages whatsoever!

I drive for the next three hours! I drive on a four lane highway, an eight-lane highway, a two-lane highway and just for fun, Jimmy makes me drive into a sub-division (housing estate) and into a cul-de-sac...............can you imagine me turning this baby around in a cul-de-sac without taking out any mail boxes! Oh my, that Jimmy, I am not sure if he is just having fun with me!

All that aside, when I started driving I was simply terrified. Terrified. And, after I took my first corner and Jimmy made me wiggle my fingers to reduce the white knuckle ride as I was fiercely gripping the steering wheel, it became easier the more I drove. It is just about learning how to drive a different sized vehicle. I will need a few more lessons before I am happy to drive this baby on the road without an instructor.

One funny moment.................I was making a right-hand turn. The turn was into a two-lane road and a car was sat at the front of a junction waiting to turn. A guy was sat in the driver's seat and as I began to make the turn his face began to change as to move a motor home around a corner you have to push pretty far over into the 'on-coming lane' before making the turn in order to get around the corner. The guy's eyes just got bigger and bigger as this RV was coming towards him and getting really close he looked up and saw that a women was driving and if only I could have taken a picture, his face was simply priceless!

And finally, if the day thus far is not enough, Jimmy makes me drive to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame which has a very large car park (parking lot) where I do "U" turns ..................can you believe it! And, then comes the real to reverse a motor home! In retrospect, what fun.................."in retrospect"..................what fine words those are!😎

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Roxanne: the rear section!

As you walk from the front section into the rear of the motor home, there are two further rooms.

The first room you enter is the master bedroom. On the left-hand side (with your back to the windscreen) there is a TV and clothes/storage drawers. And, on the right-hand side there is a king size bed where the mattress lifts up to reveal a large storage area in the base. This could also double as an additional sleeping space for husbands who get out of line!😎

Above the bed there are four, deep storage cupboards.

Apologies that the bed isn't dressed with the usual 17 cushions (pillows) but we had to bring all this stuff in the jeep and there was only space for the bare minimal with Miss Poppy sitting on top of it all!

One of my favourite embellishments in the coach is that they have made the Tiffin insignia into an "art deco" branded design that you can just see in the centre of the headboard. Art deco is my most favourite periods of design in history. If you are in London while reading this, or plan on visiting, and have never visited Eltham Palace, it is certainly worth a trip to appreciate the art deco architecture and design!

And, finally, stepping into the last room in the motor home - the master bath! On the left-hand side there is a double vanity unit with some "slim" storage behind the mirrored cupboards, and below in the three pull-out drawers and under each sink; continuing around, there is a stacked washing machine and dryer; the master closet which includes a small, built-in safe; a second toilet; and, the shower.

For "sad" readers who are keen on seeing "what's under the bonnet (hood)" I promise to take some photos when it stops raining!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Roxanne: the front section, right-hand side!

Behind the driver's seat on the right-hand side of the coach, is a settee which pulls out into a queen size bed. Miss Poppy and her dinosaur are currently in the middle of detailed product testing to ensure the motor home is sufficiently comfortable for guests!😎

Next to the settee is the kitchen area. There is a microwave/convection oven, an induction cook top below which is a dishwasher and to the right you can see a three drawer unit which pulls out to provide more worktop space.

Completing the round-up of the front section is the half-bath. When we are traveling and both of the front sides are pulled in the half-bath remains accessible.

Roxanne: the front section, left-hand side!

Imagine standing in the motor home with your back to the windscreen. On the left-hand side of the coach, starting behind the passenger seat you have:

A fireplace, moveable recliner and a TV which lowers into the wall when you are not watching it. Behind the TV is a large window.

Continuing down the left-hand side of the coach, there is the seating area. The table extends out a little further and there are two folding chairs that can be added. The screen you can see in the window is to keep the sun out and on all the windows there are blackout shades that can be pulled down at night.


On and around we go. Next is a full-size fridge with a freezer section below followed by pull-out pantry!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Stand By Your Man!

The town of Red Bay is located in the northwest corner of Alabama on the Mississippi state line and has a population of some 3,500 residents. It is named for the red clay soil and the bay trees which are both found in abundance in the area.

The first lady of country music – Ms. Tammy Wynette – called Red Bay her hometown and during her lifetime held some five benefit concerts for the town. I am no aficionado of country music, but one wonders if two of her most famous songs – Stand By Your Man and D-I-V-O-R-C-E – were penned at different stages of a relationship with the same man!

In Ms. Wynette’s honour, there are several memorials to her: her name features on a building as you come into town; there is a section dedicated to her in the Red Bay museum; and, they have even named a highway after her!

Standing by my man was exactly what I was doing at 7.30 this morning as my beloved decided to test out the external entry keypad system on the motor home! I did wonder if we were going to be outside all day, but fortunately if you press enough buttons, enough times, you usually get the result you want - just don’t try and replicate what you did the last time on the next occasion!