Monday, 4 September 2017

RIAT 2017

So we got home from France on the Saturday and faced a few days of  washing, cleaning the caravan and re-equipping it for an off grid time at the Royal International Air Tattoo on Fairford Air Field.
as usual we were booked into Kempsford Camping, which is the site right next to the air field.

We arrived at noon on the Wednesday, and pitched up next to Robert. Amazingly we seemed to have brought the fine French weather with us, and sure enough it stayed with us until the Monday when we left.

All set up!

We settled down to watch the planes and helicopters arriving over the next few days. We also find time to reproof Roberts Tent.
 On the Friday afternoon I headed for home to collect Izzy and Freddie as they were going to stay with us .
I collected them from home and also hitched up the Toylander, that I had already loaded into the trailer.
We were soon back at the airfield and Izzy and Freddies face was amazing as they watched all the planes arriving and practising over the air field.

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

We got the Toylander out and Izzy was soon off driving with Freddie in the passenger seat.

Izzy enjoying a drive

On the Saturday they got to see the full display, whilst also filling them selves with plenty of food.
They went home when the show finished on the Saturday evening.
Lizzie and I spent the Sunday recovering as  well as watching the displays overhead.

Heading for departure

We cleared up on the Monday morning whilst also watching the planes depart.
Finally leaving the site at noon we were soon home.The caravan was emptied and popped up into storage for a week, whilst Lizzie and I prepared for our next long trip.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Our French Adventure 2017

So with everything packed up we set off for Poole at 4.30pm on Tuesday 16th of May. After an uneventful run down we parked up on the Quay with a handful of other travelers. Supper and bed.

At half past six the following morning we were woken by the Brittany ferry staff, and after winding the legs up we moved forward to the ticket office where passports were checked and then on to the next queue. We were only there a few minutes before we were waved through security! It then started to rain!
At a quarter to eight we were on the ferry, and we made our way upstairs to the cafeteria for breakfast.
Greg the ground grinder and Elsa enjoyed looking out of the ferry window as we left Poole.
The journey to Cherbourg took four and a quarter hours. It was quite foggy and there was a  good swell as we crossed the channel  We were off the ferry and on our way to Villedieu-les Poeles, where we booked into the site, which was looking very good. It was still raining. Dinner was cooked and I went up to the garage to fuel up and to collect some cheese and wine from the supermarket.
Villedieu-les Poeles was looking really wet. Our caravan is the one in the middle.

We were away the following morning, still in the pouring rain,  just before 10 and on our way to Camping Les Noblis at Montreuil Bellay, a distance of 180 miles.  We arrived there four hours later and it was still raining. So it was legs down, cook dinner and then bed.

Our one night stop at Montreuil Bellay

It was still raining in the morning so after breakfast we were on our way just after 10.

Todays run was 150 miles to Camping de Montreal at St Germain Les Belles. after a couple of hours driving, as we approached Limoges the rain stopped and the sun came out.
As we arrived at the site Leone and Hans were there to welcome us. We were soon set up on a lakeside pitch as this was to be our base for 6 nights.

Finally the weather became good!
We ate in the restaurant that night and met up with Sonja and Peter. It was very good to see them again.

We relaxed over the next five days, enjoying the hot sunshine.

I did find time to go to the railway station and managed to get a picture of the local train. Not a very good picture as the station was being rebuilt and was all fenced off!  Passengers were bused to and from another local station and trains were not stopping either.

Train at St Germain Les Belles
On the Thursday morning we left at about 10.30 and set off down the A20, for another 150 mile drive to Camping de Montech, which is a large municipal site just north of Toulouse.
The sun was still out , but as we set up there was some light rain.

As we approached the site there were tractors everywhere.  Not a farmers protest but a tractor parade and rally.

We were away in  the morning again by 10.00am heading for La Floride at Le Barcares, again 150 miles. The journey should have taken us about 4 hours, but unfortunately we met horrific traffic on the Peage as we passed Carcassonne. This slow, stop start traffic was caused by roadworks where the A61 joins the A9 just south of Narbonne, and added over an hour to our journey. The traffic cleared as we joined the A9.  When we arrived at La Floride we booked in and set up on our pitch.
It was really hot and sunny as we set up, so we took our time. We were going to be here for 35 nights so it was important to get everything done properly.

When in France we cook in the awning using our electric hob or Teriyaki  electric hotplate. We also have a Quest expedition fridge that cools to 30 degrees below ambient temperature, an essential when it is so hot in France.

Frittati, prepared in the awning.

Our Boulangerie
We soon settled in to a French way of life. I rode up to the village  for fresh bread and croissants each morning. We enjoyed the sun and most days we went out for coffee or to visit one of the nearby towns for shopping. The Freelander2 had its cover put on and was only used on Wednesdays and Saturdays when we went out to get the heavy shopping, (water and Wine).
We enjoyed the occasional meal at the Camp site restaurant

The best Boulangerie in the village. Unbelievably there were four within 250 yards of each other!

Lizzie had hired a very posh mobility scooter so we often went out together, Lizzie on her scooter and me on my bike.

Lizzie off exploring.

Most days the sun was out and the temperature reached the mid 30's, some days it topped 39.
Unusually this year there was a constant stream of English pitching up round us with their tent, caravan or motor home.

Just along from our caravan a 'Thai Cream' ice cream booth appeared. It only stayed for a week as trade was very slow. The ice cream was good though, albeit very expensive and was too much for one person.

A market is held in Le Barcares on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.We enjoyed visiting that and just browsing. Each Sunday we would get a chicken from the market that had been cooked on a rotisserie, which was then used for dinner that evening.

Market Day!

Our Chicken Man!  He was only at the Market on Sundays

We often went up to Le Barcares for coffee.  We sometimes ventured on to the inviting beach.

Le Barcares beach on a busy day.

We eat out occasionally, finding that the camp bar and restaurant was very good value.

Our 35 nights at Le Barcares soon came to an end, and it was time to clear up. The last few days there saw us have thunder storms, but on our last day it was warm and dry so the awning was packed away in the dry.

Our return journey was a mirror image of our outward journey with one night at Camping De Montech, three nights at Camping de Montreal, one night at Montreuil Bellay and two nights at Villedieu les Poeles where we enjoyed time shopping. I even found a french Barber where I could get my hair cut.

My French Barber!
 Villedieu les Poeles is one of the many pretty French villages we saw.

The Maire, (Town Hall)

On the Friday we drove up to Cherbourg for the 18.30 ferry.  We arrived back in Poole at 21.45, and parked up on the Quay accompanied by several other caravans. We sat outside with our neighbours sharing a few glasses of wine.

At 9.30 the following morning we left for home arriving there at noon after an excellent trip away.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Exmoor House, Dulverton. 2nd May

Well we have been to this site before many times in November/December, so we decided to visit again in late spring.
We had a good run down stopping in Wells for a burger and a mug of tea.  When we reached the site it was very full, but we were able to find a good south facing pitch.  We were soon set up in the very warm sun.

This really is a lovely tidy site, close to the centre of town. It is very clean and is extremely tidy. The new wardens Keith and Debbie are very helpful. We had met them before at Burrs Country Park and also Start Bay.

On the Wednesday after a proper breakfast I went on the 'Heritage walk' round Dulverton. There were 12 of us on the walk, and was really informative.

Dulverton Main Street. 

 Their used to be another row of cottages down the middle of the street.

Their are many cottages built of brick, rather than local stone.

This waterway feeds three mills further down.

We drove over to Minehead on the Thursday. We took the opportunity to visit the West Somerset railway where we had coffee and watched the trains for a while before adjourning to Lidl to do the shopping.

The moor still looks quite forbidding, even with the Gorse in flower.

Just about to depart to Bishops Lydeard
This is the next engine to be restored!

I spent the Friday wandering round Dulverton, browsing the amazing second hand bookshop, before spending time in the Dulverton Heritage centre and their fabulous model railway.  More details of the railway are on the Dulverton Heritage centre website.
As the campsite is only a few minutes walk from the town I went up to collect fish and chips for our supper.

The Lynmouth and Barnstaple railway was our destination for Saturday. This is a narrow gauge railway, and at present is only a mile and a half long.  Plans to expand it to about nine miles are well in hand though. It really was an outstanding railway with everything being very clean, tidy and well presented. We rode down the line and then stopped for a light lunch.

Taking on Water

The turn round at Killington Lane

Looking down the line

We loved the station signs.

The views from the railway over the countryside were outstanding!

I went to church in Dulverton on Sunday morning, and then at lunch time as it was so warm we adjourned to the bridge inn for a lunch time drink.

We went to Woods on Monday!  This is a really outstanding restaurant, and the food certainly lived up to its reputation,

We cleared up on the Tuesday and had a good run home.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Wood Farm, Charmouth. 27th March

Good run down through Shepton Mallet. The journey took us about two hours. We set up on a pitch with the caravan facing east. The actual pitch was a concrete one with a graveled area for the awning.
Everything was soon set up in the very pleasant and very warm sun.
A fish and chip van was expected on site and we were looking forward to supper from there! Then the camp staff said that the Fish and Chip Van would not be coming!  As we had nothing else ready it became Omelette for tea, whilst we looked out over the pleasant countryside!

We spent a very lazy Tuesday as my back was rather sore.  No hardship though as the warm weather was holding very well.

Wednesday was a very cloudy day. We set  off for Dorchester to meet my old colleague Mary for Lunch. The journey along the A35 was not at all peasant as it was extremely foggy. e had a very pleasant lunch.  We set off back, stopping at Morrisons in Bridport to do some shopping. Fortunately the journey back to the site was much easier as the fog had cleared!

The site we were staying on was equidistant from Charmouth and Lyme Regis.
We popped down to Lyme Regis, but because of road works it was impossible to park.  Charmouth however was different as there was a large car park on the beach.  We  went in the Beach cafe for Coffee.  It was a very strange cafe!  They had obviously not heard of cupboards as there were boxes stacked all over the place!  The whole cafe needed a complete reorganisation.
The beach however was good and we spent some time there just watching the world and the sea go by!
Charmouth beach looking East!

Charmouth beach looking West!
It was very pleasant watching the world.  We did not walk as my back was still very sore.

We set off for Seaton for coffee on Friday, but failed to find a convenient one open. Much of the town was very quiet as it was still March. So we drove on to Beer! Absolutely no chance of parking here as they were filming on the beach!  We think it was Broadchurch!

Looking down over Beer!

So it was on to Branscombe where we found a most excellent beach side cafe. Coffee became lunch which was superb.
Branscombe is the beach that a large container ship was wrecked on some 10 years ago.  The containers that came ashore were then looted!  The wreck has long gone, but its anchor is at the top of the beach as a memorial.

The Anchor, left as a memorial.

Branscombe beach looking West.

Branscombe beach looking East.
The story of the wreck.

We drove on to Sidmouth, which was very busy.  The main car park was absolutely stuffed with Film Unit lorries, so parking in the town was difficult, so having been here before we headed back to the caravan.

The weather was far better than we expected on Saturday, so we set off heading east along the coast, making our first stop at Eype, where the car park charge was £4.00.  As there was little to see we did not stop, and drove on to the swannery at Abbotsbury. As the weather was so good we decided to go in.  The pictures tell the story.

A general overview

Nesting. The Swans do not see  to worry.

Safer nesting in the reeds!
It was an amazing place to wander around. Many of the Swans were nesting on the paths, totally unperturbed by people walking past!

On the Sunday we set off for West Bay.  It was extremely busy with a motor cycle rally starting from there.  We watched all the motorcycles set off and then sat on the harbour wall eating pasties and watching the boats in the harbour. I have not been to West Bay for many years, and it really does not seem to have changed at all.

Some of  the motorcycles preparing to depart.

West Bay Harbour

West Bay Harbour

Then it was back to the caravan to do some clearing up ready for our departure the following day.

We left at about 11.00 the following day and had a good run home, via our favourite burger van in Wells.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Henley Four Oaks CMC site

Well this was just a couple of nights away at Henley. We were off up to Henley to see Jade, James, Jack and Josie. As it was a very short trip, only two nights we were traveling light, no awning and all the associated bits and pieces.
A quick run up the M4 and then the outskirts of Reading to Henley. Warning bells rang as we drove the Reading roads! It was the Reading Half Marathon on the Sunday and roads were closed, so we would need a different route home on the Sunday.

Found the site easily, arriving just after the site reopened for the season. Picked ourselves a nice hard standing well away from the main road.
 The site seems OK, although having stayed on Swiss Farm Camp Site next door is probably better as most pitches are serviced and there is a coffee shop on site!
We set up and then left the site to go and visit Jade and her family in Lower Early. They were all fine and Jack was really excited to see us.
We stayed there for a couple of hours and then returned to the caravan.
I popped into Henley and bought fish and chips for our supper and they were very good!  (JK'S Fish and Chips)

The site had filled up quite a lot!

On the Saturday, after a decent Brunch Lizzie and I went into Henley on Thames to have a wander round the shops! Lizzie bought herself a new bag ready for our forthcoming French trip.

Later in the day Jade and family came to join us and we went for an early dinner at The Catherine Wheel in Henley on Thames. Its a Whetherspoons, so relatively good food that is quiet inexpensive.

We started Sunday with a late breakfast, and fed the Bacon rinds to the red Kites! Really spectacular to see them swoop down, but really very difficult to photograph!

We cleared up and set off for home heading towards Oxford before heading down to Swindon where we joined the M4.
The journey down the M4 was heavy going with a very strong head wind!  Our fuel consuption dropped from a normal 29mpg to 21 mpg.

We were soon home and the caravan was back on the drive, ready to be prepared for our next trip in a few days time.