Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The last trip of the year!

Well it is December so it must be Exmoor House Caravan Club Site in Dulverton.

On the Monday we had the Caravan cleaned at Chipping Sodbury Caravans. I clean the caravan regularly, but find the roof difficult to do so they did it properly for us.

Drove down through Somerset, stopping for our customary burger in Wells.  Then we discovered that every farmer in Somerset had decided to go muck spreading, so that when we arrived on site  the caravan was filthy.  We set up on pitch 13. Venison for dinner and then bed!

Pheasant squawking outside the caravan woke us at 6.30 am! One of the advantages of this site is its location right in the middle of town, so I was able to walk in and collect the papers.

Then when Lizzie had roused herself we went into town for coffee and some retail therapy (Christmas shopping)

We then set off to Morrisons in Tiverton. I do love these empty country roads that twist and turn,so it was into sport mode and a good old trash down the lanes!  Back to site and the Christmas tree and lights were put up!  The Caravan was also washed!

On Friday we drove out to Woolacombe and Coombe Martin. The colours over the moor were amazing. Lizzie took lots of pictures on her ipad, so at some point, when I have worked out how I will transfer them to here.

Saturday began very wet, but we were not worried as we were going to Dunster by candle light. We drove into Minehead station car park. We then caught a bus up into Dunster. There were 12 coaches running a shuttle service from Minehead to Dunster. There were also 8 coaches running a shuttle service from The other side of Dunster. As you can imagine it looked very pretty, with the street lit by candles in Ikea lanterns.

 All the shops were open, but there were only four stalls in the street.  It looked very good, but I do not think it was as good as Chipping Sodbury Victorian Evening.It got so very crowded that after a couple of hours we got the shuttle bus back to Minehead and had a pleasant run home before a Fish and Chip supper.


On the Sunday it dawned very cold,and the valley was filled with mist!

Today it was Dulverton by Starlight, so we spent the day writing Christmas cards and then wandered up into Dulverton.  What a contrast to Dunster. All the shops were open. There were lots of stalls and it felt very good. Even the Policeman had entered into the spirit of things.
We spent a very enjoyable few hours just wandering around, sampling a few beers and spending money on the stalls.  This is one event we will aim to return to next year.

See     dulvertonbystarlight.co.uk

Then it was back to the caravan to cook a roast chicken dinner, and to watch the finale to Dulverton by Starlight that was a spectacular firework display from Dulverton Church.
A really super day to start off our Christmas festivities

On the Monday we cleared up in a leisurely way before driving home, stopping again in Wells for a burger and a brew from our favourite burger van The caravan was popped back into storeage until early in January 2104..

So ends our 2013 caravan year. We have been away every month and have had a truly wonderful year!
Hopefully 2014  will see some major changes, but more of that in 2014.

Cirencester Park CC site. 19th to 24th November.

It may seem strange to zoom off for a few days so late in the year, but we really started to miss our caravan, and we are trying to get away each month of the year. All UK based children and grandchildren came up for the usual Tuesday lunch and general mayhem, so after we had eaten Lizzie and I set off. The site is only 40 minutes or so up the road so a very short jaunt for us.

The caravan was terribly cold so the first thing on once we had pitched was the electric heating on full. The pitch we were on was 127, a south facing plot, which we got the full benefit of the sun during the limited hours of daylight.

Then as we were setting up a minor problem! One of the arms of the aqua roll handles had disappeared! It had probably fallen through one of the ventilation slots in the front locker! Fortunately our neighbour let us borrow his so I was able to fill both Aqua rolls ! Dinner went in the oven and was soon served in a now toasty caravan. TV reception was very poor, so tomorrow's job will be to set up the satellite system so we could watch the news from our region.
Slept well, I always do in the caravan.


Wednesday dawned bright and sunny, so after breakfast and having read the papers, Lizzie decided to I take her pills! She realized she had forgotten some rather important ones, so despite the fact that it was now absolutely hammering down I jumped in the Freelander and set of on a rather hazardous journey home. As I was passing Chipping Sodbury caravans I popped into buy a new Aqua roll handle. Pills collected from home I returned to the site, having to wear sunglasses for the return journey!  English weather at its best!
Then it was into Cirencester where we spent time Christmas shopping and updated our emails at Costa coffee! as the Internet on the site was not working properly.

On Thursday we went to Malmsbury, principally to visit the Abbey and it's Christmas shop. We then wandered round Malmsbury, which used to be a lovely town, but is now going down hill rather fast, caused mainly because there are so many empty shops, we drove on to Swindon outlet centre, where yet more Christmas presents were purchased.  Back the to site where Venison was prepared for Dinner.

Friday morning was very frosty, so I took the opportunity to prepare breakfast specials! I watched a chap a few caravans away from us shaking his blue gas bottles as he thought they were empty!  They were not it was just too cold for the gas to vaporise.
We then set off for Gloucester Quays where there was a Victorian market. We enjoyed wandering that for a few hours, watching all the people in Victorian dress and looking at an amazing array of stalls, non of which inspired us to buy anything!
There was a rather good 'folk trio' playing though!

We got back to site and watched the new arrivals pitching up! Which is always an interesting experience! When you pitch up there is a peg on the site, that your rear off side corner of the caravan should be lined up against.   Many caravanners can not reverse, so they just get out and move the peg!  This means many caravans are not correctly positioned as far as fire breaks are concerned and some wardens get a bit miffed!   Why the do not put the pegs in the ground permanently I will never understand!

On the Saturday we drove up to Bourton on the Water for yet mor Christmas retail therapy! Then on to Stow on the wold, wher parking was horrendous! The weather was crisp and clear with bright sunshine so it was lovely drive through the Cotswolds.

There was no frost on Saturday night so on Sunday we cleared up in a leisurely way, even getting a dry awning down.

This is a good site that we enjoyed, although due to its size, 200 plus pitches means it would be very busy in the summer.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Burrs Country Park, Bury. 17th -21st October.

We delayed leaving on this trip as the morning was very, very windy, and towing under those conditions is no fun! The weather forecasters got it right though and the winds subsided by lunch time.
The run up the M5 and M6 was very wet, with lots of spray. 3 hours 50  minutes to the site. We were fortunate to get on to pitch 68 which has an excellent view of the East Lancs Railway.

The reason for this trip was to see Robert, Cathy and the boys, and also to enjoy the steam gala weekend on the railway.

We popped up for a brew with Robert and co, then back to the caravan. We did not put the awning up as it was very windy. Slept well, always sleep better in the caravan than at home.
Woken the following morning by a Steam train. It was Duchess of Sutherland, on a photo special. It steamed past the site, stopped, reversed back and did it again.

This went on for a couple of hours!
We drove over towards Bacup for coffee and to take in the scenery which is really amazing before returning to the site, where the train reappeared for yet more steaming for the photographers.

On the Friday we spent much of the day in Bury Market, where we added a bit to the local economy! Had been looking everywhere for a muffin tin to be able to make our breakfast specials in! Asked at one of the cookware stalls and the lady found us one!  www.burymarket.com

We then spent the evening at the local pub with Robert and Cathy.

On the Saturday morning there was another photo opportunity at 8.00am.
This was a mixed goods train on a photo run!

Not as good as the one on the Thursday though.
I spent much of the day helping Robert cut down Zak's bunk bed and desk to make them fit into the bedroom better. We ended up with a job well done.

On the Sunday we decided to have a day on the railway.eastlancsrailway.org.uk A free vintage bus was running from the caravan site upto Bury station, so we took advantage of that. The bus took me back in time to King Alfred's Motor company in Winchester, back in the late 60's

We did the whole of the line travelling from Bury through Summerseat, Ramsbottom and  Irwell Vale to Rawtenstall.
Ramsbottom Station

  We went past the caravan Club site. Hope that you can spot our caravan!

 Then all the way back to Bury and on to Heywood before returning to Bury. I have to say this was just like travelling in the old days of British Rail. We even had authentic delays.
This is the engine that was pulling our train!

Then it was back to the site using the Vintage bus!  The route back took us via Bury Transport museum which looked very good so we will pay it a proper visit next time we are in Bury.
We then went up to Robert and Cathys for a magnificent Sunday lunch.

Monday dawned very wet, so i got soaked clearing up. Robert called in just as we were about to leave to wish us a safe journey.
The journey home was very wet until we got into Gloucestershire when it dried up!  A good journey that took us 3 hours 40 minutes!

Popped the Caravan back to storeage where it will have to sit until our next trip in November

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Weather looks good so off we went again!

No date yet for Lizzies op, so as the weather looked set fair for the weekend, we decided on a short trip.  Settled on the Cotswolds again, so I rang Greenacres Farm CL to see if they had space, no luck there but their neighbouring CL, Greenacres had room. This site is the other side of the farmhouse and has hard standings, EHU and water on each pitch.
Lizzie had a blood test on Friday morning, so off for that, then into the wine merchants and Lidl for supplies, collect the caravan and we were away!  Zoe was at work so we left her a note to say that we would be back sometime!  As she was working all weekend, we knew the house was OK. Off up the A46, and to a burger van for lunch! Yum Yum!
A rather noisy run up to Bibury, as the steering pump is on its way out on the Freelander2, going to be replaced next week!  More expense!

Found the site easilly and pitched up!  Nice and warm, but too many wasps!  Pleasant evening with salmon done on the cadac.
Our Pitch

Saturday  started beautifully so after Brunch, it was into Cirencester for retail therapy!  Drove into the main street and unbelievably there was an empty parking space!  Parked up and discovered it was limited to one hour, unless you have a blue badge when you can park for three hours.So Lizzie put her blue badge in the window.Sometimes the badge is very useful!  Spent some pleasant time wandering the shops and Lizzie started on Christmas shopping!  Nothing like being organised!

Back for Dinner, prawn cocktail tonight followed by Steak!  Had to eat it inside as the wasps were a total menace. Discovered Mossie spirals in the cupboard, and wonder of wonders the wasps hated them.  When one flew into the awning they just did an immeadiate U turn and were gone.

Sunday was again a cracking day so it was down to Lechlade where the christmas shop was open!  More wonga spent by Lizzie!  I suspect that she thinks that I have personal money tree! I wish!
Decided on the traditional roast for dinner!  It really is quite easy in a caravan oven, just seems to take twice as long!  I don't mind watching things cook if I have a large glass of Pinot in my hand.  Dinner finished cooking and then the oven would not turn off, so I had to head for the main gas tap!   Thankgoodness for long term warranties. we are certainly getting our money's worth!

A couple of views of the site, unfortunately taken in the rain on Monday morning!

Then the weather broke!  It rained so hard on Sunday night!  Breakfast, for the first time ever was cooked on the hob in the caravan rather than on the Cadac or in the oven as it was still raining  Still tasted good though!  Then a gentle clear up, before heading back to storeage.

Would reccomend Greenacres CL and Greenacres Farm CL. Greenacres has nine pitches, although the 5 caravan rule is strictly enforced, so only 5 are in use at any one time.. This enables the owners to keep the site in tip top condition!

Where next?   Well watch this space!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Eastnor Land Rover Show 24th/25th August.

Friday morning dawned bright and clear, so with the caravan on the drive I was able to prepare it ready for or trip to Eastnor, which is less than an hour away from home.  This is a very different trip for us as there is no electric hook up.
Lizzie had a blood test in the morning, so that dealt with I loaded the Freelander2 with all the Landy Town stuff and off we went. Out through Wickwar and onto the M5 heading north. That was a mistake as the motorway was very busy in both directions. Only two junctions to go and we came off at Gloucester.

We soon arrived at Eastnor Castle site.  Last year we were on a very sloping site, this year we were in the next field which was flat. It was also very dry, unlike last year when it was a sea of mud.
The showground with Eastnor Castle in the background

Ian and Tina hda arrived first and we pitched in front of them. We were next to Manckester Land Rover Club, and Robert and Cathy were pitched beside us.

An evening of setting up the club stand and socialising followed.
Our Stand 

The show was open on Saturday and Sunday, and despite an iffy weather forecast everything went wel and it stayed fine.  There were a fair few visitors between 10.00am and 3.00pm. The arena had plenty going on, all Land Rover based, unlike other shows
Denty turned up on the Saturday evening and provided information for all of us.

Here follows a few of my highlights of the show!

Robert takes his Range Rover on the Twist off.

A replica of the original Centre steer Land Rover.
HUE.  One of the most famous Series 1's

Looks like fun to drive!

The show finished on Sunday evening, but we all stayed on until the Monday when we cleared up and left for home.

When we got home we had to totally empty the caravan, ready for it to for service the following morning.
We had intended crossing to France on the Thursday for a month, but with Lizzie having to have some hospital treatment that has had to be delayed for a while.

Salcombe. But this time with a difference!

The three J's, James, Jade and Jack asked me a couple of months ago if they could use the caravan in Salcombe so that they could have a summer holiday!  So after a lot of soul searching I agreed that they could borrow it, on pain of death by a thousand cuts if they damaged it!
So arrangements were made. Jade joined the caravan club, and a pitch was booked at Salcombe!  All was going well, and then they announced that Ami, James's sister and her boyfriend were joining them!
Anyway we agreed.

The J's were all so excited!

Jade started making innumerable lists of what was needed. Then it was agreed that James would go to Reading to collect Ami and Callum, whilst Jade and Jack would stay with us ready for an early start on the Monday morning!
So I was up with lark, as is my norm ready for an early depart.  Unbelievably everybody rose early and we departed at 09.30. As we wanted to get there as soon as possible I headed for the M5 at Cribbs Causeway, instead of driving down through Bristol to join it at Bridgewater.  We had a good run down and arrived on site at 1.30.  Even the drive along the narrow road from Kingsbridge to Slapton proved uneventful.  It is a very narrow road, that proves to be a test for anybody, and with a caravan in tow can be a real challenge!

When we arrived at the site the wardens were very welcoming. I had phoned before to explain what we would be doing and they were more than ok about it.  We had a quick look around the site and spotted that pitch 10 was available. This is possibly one of the largest pitches on the site, and would comfortably take the caravan, awning, pup tent and two vehicles.

So Lizzie and I set everything up, whilst Jade amused Jack.  James and the rest arrived a couple of hours later, having been held up in horrific traffic on the A303 near Stonehenge.

Well we gave them a run down of how everything worked and they went off to explore the site. Later they walked to beach past Slapton Ley.

Dinner was cooked, and then beds made and we all turned in.  Jack was in the caravan with us, whilst everyone else were in the tent.

Jack woke at about 5.00 so Jade let herself into the caravan and curled up with him on the bottom bunk.

Everyone was up and about quite early so I wandered down to the beach to collect the papers. Thenit was back to the caravan, where I cooked a full English breakfast for everybody!

Then after finally checking that they knew how everything worked, Lizzie and I had a final brew and we departed for home leaving our baby at their mercy!

Then next few day we worried. I did not sleep particularly well, but the dily reports from Jade seemed to indicate that all was well and that they were having lots of fun!

Slapton Sands at 6.00am

Roll on a week!

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny and Lizzie and I set off down to retrieve our baby.  As luck would have it we were going to stay in the Caravan for a few days before driving home.

Well we got to the site and they were out, down on the beach.  Well the caravan was till stood up, the awning was there still.  A detailed inspection revealed that the caravan was immaculate. It was clean, tidy, they had swept it ou, and there were no dents, scrapes, scratches or anything broken.  Relief!!!!!

The happy campers returned an hour or so later.  Ok well done I said!   You have proved yourself, where will you be taking the caravan next, Oh and James, when you trade your car in get one that will tow the caravan!

They loaded up James's little car with the essentials, leaving most stuff with us, and they set off for home.

Lizzie and I stayed on the site, for the next few days before setting off for home, and then straight on to Eastnor castle for the Land Rover show.

On the Monday we went into Salcombe for morning coffee.  Excuse me for sharing some of the views.

Whilst we were at Start Bay we went into Kingsbridge on the bus.  An amazing trip on the top deck of the bus.  We even had the front seats so were able to see the skill of the driver as she navigated the narrow lanes.
One tip for anyone using this site is when you leave with the caravan on the back, wait for the bus to go past, and then follow it!  That way you get a clear road!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Royal International Air Tattoo. Fairford

The Vulcan gave an amazing display!

These bi planes 

Well this is something that we have never done before.  We joined Robert at the Kempsford campsite which  is right next to the Airfield. We arrived on the Thursday afternoon and it was burning hot. Camp was soon established. We had booked adjoining pitches, so were able to establish a neat little encampment. Then we sat back to watch the planes arriving, and also the various planes and helicopters practising their displays. Kathy and the boys arrived on the Friday morning!

We spent Friday just sat by the tent watching all the arrivals and practising as well. There is a 'RIAT' radio station that broadcasts all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and is a really detailed commentary of what is going on, so we found that very useful.

Saturday was even hotter, so as we were not going into the show, we just sat by the caravan enjoying watching all the displays. The number of people in the show was absolutely staggering!

On the Sunday we went into the show.  As it was an airfield  I was able to easily push Lizzie around in the wheel chair. We got round and saw so many aircraft, as well as vehicles related to aircraft.
Here follows a selection of some of the planes and helicopters thhat we saw.

Our pitch

I have to say that we had an amazing weekend.  Lovely company, plenty to see and do. Good food and fine wines, and absolutely perfect weather.

Next year we will take a plane spotters guide with us to help identify all that we see

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Bristol and West Land Rover Show 21st-23rd June

Well we arrived back at home in the early hours of Thursday morning.  Washing was done and we cleaned the Caravan. We replenished the gas and food lockers and were ready for the off on Friday lunch time.
It is only a short run down to the Bath and West Showground.
We arrived and it was cold and windy.  Unfortunately it stayed cold and damp all weekend
The show seemed to be well supported, although our stand never got particularly busy!
Tina and Ian, Bob and Karen joined us on the stand, with Mal and Aiden  turning up on the Saturday night.

No photos of this one though

Our French Adventure. 8th May to 20th June

Well we brought the Caravan home on Friday 3rd of May to use it as a spare bedroom as Robert and Kathy were coming to stay. Suddenly realised that the insurance on the Freelander2 would expire whilst we were away. So after some conversing with LV, they cancelled my policy, and immediately started a new one. £30.00 cheaper than the previous year and a refund on the unused part of my policy.  That was brilliant service.
 After the weekend the caravan was taken in for a damp check, which it passed with flying colours.  Whilst it was in Chipping Sodbury Caravans the water pump was replaced as it was found to be faulty.  We then cleaned the caravan and packed it ready for our trip.
We left for Poole at 4.30 on Wednesday. Got to the ferry terminal, steadies down, had tea and played scrabble before turning in.
06.15 on the Thursday we were woken by the Ferry men, and we finally got on to the ferry at 08.30, a bit late.  We were last on! Force 8 on the way to Cherbourg so we arrived late.

First stop was to Les Chevaliers at Villedieu-les-Poeles, for two nights. It was a nice leisurely drive down. We treated ourselves to our first proper French meal in the bar, as the supermarkets were shut as it was a bank holiday! This is the third time we have stayed here as it makes a convienient first stop in France. It also gives us a chance to accustom ourselves to French life and fill up with wine and cheese etc.

On the Saturday we were up early for us, we paid the bill, E32.00 as we were using the ASCI discount card.

Our next stop was to be La Foret, in the Vendee.  This entailed a four hour drive.  Unbelievably we saw no other English vehicles on our journey.  When we arrived at the site we chose our pitch. The Owner asked if we had a mover. As we have not got one, four of the staff unhitched our caravan and pushed and pulled it into our pitch. Now that is service!  I could have reversed it in but it would have taken some time.Weather was hot but a tad windy.
Our Pitch

We spent five nights at this site, and enjoyed relatively good weather. Whilst  we were there we visited St Jean de Monts and Noirmaster as well as lots of other villages.
The entrance to the site

We left on Thursday, moving further down through France to Pons.  A nice site built around an old mill.  This also had the advantage of an excellent bar on site, so we enjoyed sitting outside on the verandah, enjoying the sun.  We also enjoyed one excellent meal in the resteraunt.  Unfortunately we had a few very wet days.
The Terrace!

On Tuesday we moved on to Moissac. This site is on an island in the river, and is entered through a narrow enclosed bridge.  Bit of a bottom clenching moment as you go through it with a caravan following you.

The site was very wet so we took our time finding a decent pitch. Whilst we were on this site Lizzie bought herself a posh Sun Lounger at E'LeClerc, for half the price it would have been in the UK.  We spent time looking round the area, thoroughly enjoying our visits into town people watching.  The Sunday market was particularly good.

On the Monday morning we left the site at 11.30 to drive down towards Toulouse. We were due to meet Kathy, Rob and the boys at an aires, a French rest area beside the motorway, at 1.30.  By this time it was hot, so we pulled onto the aires, and set up our chairs to have lunch and wait for Rob and co.  Slightly
 ahead of time they arrive. We finished lunch, and set of down the peage, toll road, round Toulouse and down the A61.
We then cut off the piage and took a more sceinic route through Limoux and Quillan towards Perpignan. The drive spectacular through the mountains, or rather over them.Some of the roads were cut through the rock.

Also some of the villages we went through were horriffically tight.
Eventually we reached Le Barclaes, and after a bit of Off roading, yes with a caravan behind us, we reached our site for the next nineteen days.  The site is called Camping Club Floride & l'Embouchure. We were on  the Embouchure part which is alongside the Agly river and was less than 100 metres from the beach. Our pitches which were opposite each other had private bathrooms, shower, loo, wash basin on each pitch.  This also became a useful place to store chairs etc overnight.

Add caption

The first few days it was windy but we were well sheltered and were able to enjoy the burning sun. We soon got into a routine of walking along the front to the local village for coffee and to enjoy the market.

After we had been on site for a week we started to explore more than the local villages.

We had a pow wow and decided that Andorra was our aim, so we set off down to Spain and into Andorra.  We climbed mountain passes 3 times higher than Ben Nevis. We drove through snow! Diesel was only E1,12 a litre.

It was so relaxing on the site as we sat and soaked up the sun and watched people. It was most amazing to watch the French arrive in their caravans and unload Fridges, freezers and proper tables and chairs out of  the front windows.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time on this site, but are not sure what it would be like in high summer!

Our 19 days were soon up, so it was with heavy hearts we packed up the 14th of June. Rob and Kathy were leaving at the same time as us, but were aiming to drive straight to Calais.

We were heading for Camping de Montreal.  We found the site easilly after a very long drive. The pitch we chose was on the edge of a lake.
The view from our pitch

 We stopped here for two nights, and yet again enjoyed superb weather. We visited some of the local villages and countryside.

On the Sunday we cleared up and moved on again to Camping Campilo in La Vendee.  This site was very new, and should be superb in a few years time. We were only staying one night here. It was very hot and we sat outside.  That night was marked by a terrific thunderstorm!

On the Monday we moved on again to La Trinite Sur Mer.  Again we were only stopping for one night. Here we were due to meet Martin and Judith. Judith was taking part in a sailing race from the Uk to Portugal, and was due to be in port that night.  They came up and joined us on the Tuesday morning for coffee in the brilliant sun. It was really good to catch up with them.

We then left and drove up to Les Chevaliers at Villedieu-les-Poeles, for our last night in France, before heading for the ferry from Cherbourg home.

So ended a wonderful trip to France.  There is so much more I could have written as we had such a wonderful time.

Just one or two additional comments.
French fuel was cheap. about E1.24 a litre.
French super markets keep fuuny hours. Not opening until 9.00am  Some shut for lunch, and they all shut by 7.30 at night.
My French got better by the day!
Would we do it again? You bet, just watch this space