Sunday, 28 December 2014

Exmoor House CC Site Dulverton. Saturday 6th December to Sunday 14th December 2014

Time for our annual trip to Dulverton. We collected the Caravan straight from storage, taking a route from Wapley, where we keep the caravan, down the ring road and out through Keynsham to Wells, where we broke for lunch at one of our favourite Burger Vans,before heading across the Somerset levels towards the motorway at Bridgewater. What a contrast to last year, as this time the Somerset levels were green, with no signs of floodwater.

We reached the site and the best pitch available,would involve a 50 yard reverse, so we drove in forwards, unhitched, and turned the caravan using the mover, positioning it accurately on the peg!  (for those who do not know, on a Caravan Club site, the rear off side or front near side of the caravan goes against a peg. This maintains the required distance between to adhere to fire regulations)
We were soon set up and the caravan was toasty warm!  I do like this computer controlled heating system!  All you need to remember is to get the caravan up to temperature, when it is very cold, to start up on gas,and then switch to electric.

Sunday was Dulverton by Starlight. This is a Christmas fete,which starts at 2.00pm, and has stalls and live performers. It all culminates with a super firework display from the Church Tower at 7.00pm.  We spent the afternoon there, enjoying the stalls and a few bevvies at one of the local hotels.
We then returned to the caravan where I cooked a dinner of Roast Spatchcock Poussin with all the trimmings.
Just as we had finished eating the fireworks started, so we were able to watch them.

We spent Monday Christmas shopping in Dulverton. This little town has many independent shops that are a pleasure to browse, where we found some very different gifts.

Tuesday was again spent shopping,and we had a light lunch in the Bridge Inn. Excellent beers on tap!
bridge inn

The Wednesday dawned fine and clear so we drove over to Porlock Weir for coffee at 'Millers at the Anchor Hotel'. I have to say it was excellent, and the lounge is something special.
None of the nic nacs were screwed down so they must be a very honest lot in West Somerset!

We then drove a circular route up over Porlock Hill, past the old AA box and back to the caravan!

We dove out to Hartland point on the Friday, as I had never been there.

This is just to the West of Hartland Point

As we were clearing upon the Saturday afternoon I had a phone call to say that I had won a prize in the Dulverton by Starlight raffle.  I walked upto thetown to collect it, expecting it to be a bottle of wine! I was very pleasantly suprised to find it was a voucher for £80.00 for a local posh restaurant!   No time limit so we shall use it on a future visit!

We cleared up on the Sunday, and had a pleasant drive home over the Somerset Levels.

We used the mover to pop the caravan back into storage.  So much less stressful than reversing it in!

So ends our caravan expolits for 2014.  We have travelled thousands of miles, and slept in the caravan for 159 nights.

Greenacres CL 16th to 24th November 2014

We fancied a quiet few days away,sowerang Alan at Greenacres Farm CL.just outside Bibury tosee if he had any room. Fortunately hehad one space so on the Sunday morning we set off up the A46 to the site.
When we arrived we opted for pitch 1, which is really well protected from the prevailing winds by very high hedges.
Having had a motor mover fitted a few days previously this was used to manouvere the caravan into position. We were soon set up, and a full Sunday roast was in the oven.
The weather was relativelygood over the next few days,so we spent time in nearby Cirencester, visiting coffe shops, to catch up on emails, ( there is no internet on this site) and to spend time Christmas shopping.

The rest of the time was spent reading, and watching the abundant wild life that inhabits the site.

On the Wednesday afternoon we left the caravan on site and drove back to Chipping Sodbury,asiI had a Towns Lands Charity meeting that evening.

We drove back to site on Thursday to find thecaravan all safe and sound.

Gloucester Quays was holding its traditional Christmas market on the Friday, so we set off over there. Unfortunately theweather was rather poor, so we only spent a few hours there, before returning to the site, for superb dinner of fresh Trout from the Bibury Trout farm.  Yum yum!

The weather was much better on Saturday, so after a frosty start, we went down to Cirencester, for more Christmas shopping.
The vew from our caravan!

Lechlade was the destination for Sunday, where we visited the Christmas Shop.  This shop is open all year round and sells some truly wonderful Christmas decorations.  
Well worth a visit at any time of year.

On the Moday morning, after a frosty night,we cleared up and set off home. The caravan was put back into storeage, where we were able to use the moover for the purpose we had really bought it.  It made it so easy, with out any stress to put it away.

So that was another seven nights of our life in the caravan!

PS.  More photos will appear when I work out how to transfer them from my ipad

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

East Lancs Railway Steam Gala and Cromer

Well we collected the caravan straight from storage and drove straight to Burrs Country Park CC site in Bury. Made good time up the M5 and M6 arriving on the site at about 3.30. We were able to set up on pitch 67, which meant we had a good view of the East Lancs Railway line.   We were soon entertained by class A4 Union of South Africa, taking part in a photographic run on the line by the campsite.
Robert and Cathy came down to see us after tea.

The following day we went up into the hills and rediscovered an antique  centre and coffee shop that we had found once before.  We drove back through Rochdale and visited Dunelm Mill where we purchased a linen basket for the caravan.

On the Friday we spent many hours wandering round Bury market, buying a few odds and ends for Christmas.  In the evening we went out with Cathy and Rob to the Grey Mare at Belthorn where we enjoyed an excellent meal.

Robert and Cathy joined us for a full English breakfast and on the Saturday, and we watched the early steam trains. Robert and I then went up to Bury station and spent a few hours going up and down the line behind various steam engines. The trains were getting progressively later as the day went on. Just like the old British Rail. Anyway here follows quite a few photographs of the steam gala.

This little industrial engine was built in Bristol

We came back at about 3.00pm, on the vintage bus service.

At 6.00pm all four of us went back to the Railway, armed with a superb picnic dinner prepared by Robert. We boarded the train, double headed by A4's Union of South Africa and Sir Nigel Gresley for an evening ride covering the whole length of the line.  It was a shame that it was too dark for photographs.

On the Sunday we had a relatively quiet day, joining Robert and Cathy for a late Sunday lunch.
  During the morning I had taken the awning down as it had nearly blown inside out in the very strong winds.

We departed for Wagtail Country park near Grantham on Monday morning, arriving there at about 3.00pm after a very windy drive down.We had chosen a route that did not use motorways so we had no problem with the winds.  The site was absolutely lovely, as all the pitches were round a lake.

Next day, as we were clearing up to move on the jockey wheel fell apart as we hitched up!  I just piled the bits in the boot, hoping to get it sorted out when we got to the next site. However as we were tootling along we came across a small caravan dealers, Donnington Caravans Sleaford, so I popped in and they sorted it out for me in just a few minutes.

We soon arrived at Incleboro Fields CC site, just outside Cromer.
We had a good pitch, quite high up overlooking the sea. we delayed putting the awning up as it was blowing a gale.

Next day we popped into Cromer for Coffee and a little shopping then came back and put the awning up.
Cromer pier

Sherringham was our destination the next day for coffee, and to look at the North Norfolk Railway.
Diesel Rail Car, North Norfolk Railway

 We liked Sherringham and decided to come back to visit  again as there were some nice shops for doing some Christmas shopping.
We realised that the battery charger on the caravan was not working, so I rang Tony at Chipping Sodbury Caravans. He explained where it was and how to find it. I went and bought a new one from a caravan dealers just down the road, for which I will be reimbursed, and quickly fitted it!  All returned to normal.

The following day we drove along the coast through Cromer, thoroughly enjoying the scenery. We stopped at a pub for coffee, and sat in the garden where we could look out over the sea.
As we went along we drove through a huge plant where oil and gas were bought ashore. There were loads of Police cars parked up.   On the way back Lizzie took photos of it and unfortunately the Police saw Lizzie doing it. They followed us and Lizzie was asked  to delete the photos as they were worried that we might have been terrorists!

Coastal pictures!
There were plenty of Windmills about.

This was a Radar Station that we passed.

Happisburgh Lighthouse

We decided next day to drive down to Wroxham, called the capital of the Broads. It was a very busy place and virtually every shop was called Roy's.
The view from the bridge in Wroxham

We had a look round and then decided to drive through the Northern Broads.  Unfortunately virtually nowhere did the roads go along the edge of the water.
We cut our losses and drove out to the coast, where we went through one very commercialised place, ( we think it was called Caister on Sea)  and then lots of very pretty places and some superb beaches.

Sunday was a day of rest. the weather was good, so we enjoyed the sea views. We found this super church though when we popped out for coffee.

Beeston Regis Church

On Monday we went back to Sherringham and spent a couple of hours doing some Christmas shopping.
The train from Sherringham to Norfolk. Notice the strange rail joint. This is because the main line links with the Norfolk railway here.

We departed the site on Tuesday at about 11.00am, heading for Ashridge Farm CC , which is near Baldock. This is a really small, site only 40 pitches.  We were only stopping there as we wanted to visit the Imperial War Museum at Duxford.
On the Wednesday we just had a short trip round the area, but there is not much of interest.

Our pitch at Ashfield Farm

We set off for Duxford on the Thursday morning.  When we got there it was very busy with long queues, however we were soon inside.,
We worked our way round the museum, which contains not only planes, but all sorts of vehicles used in Land Warfare. the following pictures show much of what we saw.  I have to say it is a place really worth visiting.

We set off home on the Friday morning, and decided to take a cross country route rather than tackling the M25.
We got near Luton, when I had to stop at some uphill traffic lights. As I pulled away there was an almighty bang and clouds of black smoke. We limped across the junction, and pulled up! Hazards on, warning triangle out and we called Mayday!  We had visions of a ride home on the back of a lorry!

20 minutes later he was there and quickly diagnosed that the turbo hose had come adrift.  It was soon reattached and we were on our way, escorted for a couple of miles by the man from Mayday.    Soon we were through Oxford, and then we cut down to the M4, where we cruised at 60 and were soon home.

When we got home the end of our road was chaos as John and Linda had their caravan at home. So we unhitched, pushed the caravan on the drive and then had to do a lot of double parking!  Upset a few of our neighbours I should think!

Another excellent trip away!

Total nights away this year so far 144.

Monday, 6 October 2014

The Scottish Adventure!

We decided that we would go to Scotland for a few weeks, but before that the Freelander2 needed a service, so it was booked in to M J Fews, and duly delivered to them. This was two days before we were due to depart on the Thursday. On the Wednesday morning I get a phone call to say the service is done, but there is a problem, your transfer box is on its way out!
Finally get the vehicle back at lunchtime on the Thursday, so we collect the caravan and off we go up the M5 and M6 to Burrs Country Park CC site for a few nights. All goes well until we stop at the barrier of the site. The Freelander will not restart.   Quite funny to watch the warden jumping up and down and saying well you have to move it!  Three and a half tons of Freelander and Caravan take some pushing.
Eventually a lot of fellow caravaners come to our aid. The caravan is disconnected and pushed to a pitch.  Then we do the same with the Freelander. Robert comes down with his Hawkeye, and we diagnosed that it was something to do with the airflow and throttle. Anyway it is getting late so we go up to Robert and Cathys for dinner.

In the morning I ring Mayday, and they come and check the Freelander over then we are transported to Strathstones,the main dealer in Bury. Unfortunately they cannot touch it until Monday morning. Fortunately the weather was beautiful so we sat outside reading for the rest of the day, before going up to Robert and Cathys for our evening meal.

A sad sight

On the Saturday we got a taxi into Bury to visit the famous market, where we did a little shopping

Sunday was a super day so we sat around in the warm sunshine.

Strathstones were as good as their word, and phoned at  noon to say everything was fixed. As Robert was on his way home from work, he picked me up and we collected the Freelander. Not only had it been fixed, but it had been valeted inside and out. It had never looked so good.

At lunchtime on Tuesday we departed for Carlisle CC site. This is a very nicely laid out site with pitches in small groups. No Wifi or toilets though. A caravan absolutely identical to ours was on the site.  They were people from Dorchester who had bought from Chipping Sodbury Caravans.

Next morning we set off for a CL at South Whittleburn Farm, just outside Largs on the Scottish West Coast. We found it easilly, and were put in a field with wonderful views. Now CL's are only allowed to have 5 caravans on site, but this one had in excess of 20.  No worries though as it was clean and very tidy, with plenty of space

On Thursday we went into Largs, to visit Megan.  She had known Lizzie for 50 years but they had not met up for the last 40 despite speaking on the phone, and the regular sending of cards to her.  Megan was absolutely lovely, and just kept hugging and holding Lizzie. We stayed for a couple of hours and then went to explore Largs which is a really lovely town.  We did some shopping, and then went back to Megans for the rest of the day.

Friday dawned misty so we drove over the top to Grenock, which was a pretty depressing town. We then drove along the coast to south of Largs before  returning to the caravan.

On the Saturday, we drove north, over the Erskine Bridge, and along the banks of Loch Lomond, where some of the roads were very narrow and very busy. There were also a lot of road works.  Eventually we reached Fort William, and then drove about 12 miles north to Roy Bridge. Here we pitched up for a week at a delightful private site called Bun Roy.

The View

  This is a private site with facilities equally as good as any CC sites.  it was also much cheaper.

Sunday was a hot day, and I mean hot, so we did the washing and then we had an idle rest of the day before I cooked a proper roast dinner.

Monday was abit of a dull day,so we set off up Glen Spean, heading for Inverness. There were some amazing views over the striking mountains as we headed on. Coming through Inverness we turned along the northern bank of Loch Ness. Althoughwe stopped a few times we did not see 'Nessie'.

We continued heading south west along the banks of Loch Oich and Loch Lochy again enjoyng the scenery.

Eventually we came to the Commando Memorial, just outside Spean Bridge.  Really busy with tourists here.

We had intended to do the railway from Fort William to Mallaig on the Tuesday, but it was very misty so we headed to the Glen Coe visitors centre, where we spent several enjoyable hours watching the scenery and enjoying the exhibitions.

From there we came back to the foot of Ben Nevis, on its southern side, where we found rather a poor visitors centre. More like a glorified shop!  there was however a very narrow track that went up into the hills so we drove that until it just got too narrow.
The Ben Nevis Range

We then went to the cafe near the foot of Ben Nevis, that the cable cars run from, so more tea and we sat watching the cable cars.

The right decision was made over our rail trip to Mallaig.  We could not get on the steam train as it was fully booked so we went on the ordinary service train, which was absolutely packed.  What a journey though, over viaducts, through steep valleys and picturesque little stations. The journey, which is about 90 minutes only cost £14.20 each.  If you are in the area you really must make this trip.

A few shots from the Train

Fort William was our destination for Thursday.  Unfortunately this town has many empty shops and looks quite run down.  We drove round to Neptunes Staircase, which is a flight of Locks, at the start of the Caledonian canal. Whilst we were there we were fortunate enough to see a Puffer boat descend them. A puffer boat is a small steamer that used to cruise the coast of Scotland delivering supplies to the coastal towns.
Puffer boat on Neptunes staircase.

Friday was another cracking day, so I spent it photographing trains and doing the washing. We also cleared up ready for an early depart on Saturday morning.

Instead of heading down to Fort William and up Glen Coe as our route home, we went up Glen Spean, and down Glen Garry towards Perth and onto Strathclyde Country Park CC site, for an over night stop. This is a huge site, mainly used for overnight stops and weekend stays, but it served its needs.

Next day we travelled down the Meathrop Fell CC site, just outside Grange over Sands.  Here we were on pitch 77.  This was a really easy tow down the M6, so we were soon on site and set up.  This site is on many different levels and the pitches are in small groups.  Be warned if you stay here the approach road is very bumpy!
The view from Meathrop Fell

Morecambe was the destination for Monday, as it was a place we had never been. I must say I was very impressed with it, and would be happy to live there.  On our way back we went to Grange Over Sand, which is also a nice little town.

On Tuesday we got the train from Haverthwaite to Lakeside, where we then got the Steamer down Windemere to Bowness.  Yet again there were an amazing number of tourists around.  Unfortunately it started to rain, so we returned on the steamer and train.

A few shots of the Train and Windermere

Weather was very good on the Wednesday so we headed over Wrynose and Hardknocker passes.  Scared the daylights out of Lizzie! She loved the views though,when her eyes were actually open!!
Wrynose pass going down

Hardknocker Pass, heading West

We then headed out to the coast and stalked a Ravenglass and Eskdale railway train.

We needed to be on Stratford race course for the Adventure Overland Show, so we set off down the M6.  It was a long tow, but there were no problems and we camped over night on the camp site.

The following morning Robert turned up just before noon, and we went into the show proper to set up.  We were almost in the centre of the show site with traders on each side of us and in front of us.

The show features all methods of overland travel, motor bikes, all sorts of 4 X4 vehicles, as well as all the equipment needed for overland travel. It really is a very good show.
An unusual use for a VW van

The weather over the weekend was absolutely brilliant, and plenty of people attended.  We had a good turn out of Landytowners on the stand and also visiting us.

We finally cleared up on Sunday afternoon an left for home.  We had a leaking tap in the caravan, so we kept the caravan on the drive and then took it into Chipping Sodbury Caravans on the Monday morning, where a new tap was installed.

So far in 2014 we have spent 126 nights in the caravan.


Saturday, 4 October 2014

South Devon!

Well we decided that we had been home for long enough, so we booked in to Start Bay Caravan Club site again! This time though we drove down on the Sunday to Steamer Quay Caravan Club site which is in Totnes. This was just to be a one night stop on our way to Start Bay. We did this so that we could be at Start Bay at noon the following day, so that we could get a decent pitch.
Steamer Quay is right in the centre of Town, next to the river.  It is an unusual Caravan Club site as it has no electricity. No problem for  us as we have solar power as well as the usual gas.
Totnes main street!

We did not bother to unpack as we were moving on in the morning. The evening was very pleasant, so we were able to sit outside enjoying  the sun.
Steamer Quay on the port side!

In the morning we left and had a rather difficult tow from Kingsbridge to Start Bay due to the narrow roads and an amazing amount of traffic. We made it though and arrived on site at noon. Fortunately the wardens had been able to reserve pitch 9 for us. This is a disabled pitch, and is also very large. This meant we had room for Zoe and Mitch's tent as they were joining us later.We spent time pitching up as we were going to be on site for almost two weeks.

On the Tuesday morning, I walked down to Slapton sands to get the paper. Such a lovely quiet beach.

Lots of the beach front houses were still being repaired after the winter storms.

Later, Ami, Tony and the children, came to join us. They were staying in a Static caravan in Paignton. We all went into Salcombe, and visited the Victoria Inn for a lunch to celebrate Freddies and my birthdays. Excellent lunch it was as. well. We then spent the afternoon wandering around Salcombe.

Wednesday was another good day, so we caught the bus into Kingsbridge. Traffic was so heavy, that the bus had a long slow journey into Kingsbridge due to the holiday traffic. We headed for the Meeting room, Wine Cafe on Fore Street for another excellent lunch. The afternoon was then spent trawling round the charity shops buying books. Picked up one by Jack Sheffield, called Teacher, Teacher! An excellent read so I will look out for his others.

We then spent a few lazy days, reading and cleaning the caravan.

On the Saturday we went over to Paignton to see the caravan that Ami and co were staying in. We decided then to go to Brixham, where I think the rest of Devon and beyond had decided to visit, so we gave it a miss and went back to Dartmouth, where we sat on the front for ages, eating pasties and watching the boats plying up and down the river.

Hope Cove was the destination for Sunday, but as we approached the road into Outer Hope it was closed as it was the village fun day, so it was off to South Milton Beach, for coffee and some watching of waves!

Zoe and Mitch were coming down on the Monday. We sat waiting for them, and we waited and waited. Finally we had a phone call from them to say they were lost.  After working out where they were I drove into meet them at Kingsbridge, and they could follow me back.
 They soon had there tent up and were unpacked!  Zoe even had a rubbish bag hanging in their tent! Wonders will never cease!

We had decided that we would show them a bit of the area, and todays plan was to do a circular tour encompassing Dartmouth and Totnes. We parked up easily in both places and had a couple of hours in each town, where we drank tea and coffee and enjoyed the scenery.

Wednesday dawned wet! Very wet! so it was off to show them Salcombe and Hope Cove.  Fortunately it dried up so we were able to walk round each place.

Thursday started wet, but soon dried up, so we spent time fishing in Slapton Sands.  Nothing was caught though!

We had a fishing trip arranged for Friday, but when we got there it had been cancelled due to inclement weather. We took the ferry down to South Sands and it certainly was rough!  Very rough! enjoyed the trip though! I love it when it gets choppy.

On the Saturday the children wanted to come out with us again to Hope Cove, to see it in better weather. Then back to Kingsbridge for some shopping.

Sunday was clear upday, and remarkably we were all up early and it was dry, so we soon cleared up and enroute for home, with Mitch and Zoe following us we set off.  When we got on to the Devon Express way, Mitch disappeared into the distance, and we cruised at a steady 60mph,which is the max you can dowith a caravan in tow. We then got a phone call from Zoe to say a caravan and a J**p had overturned in front of them and the motorway was blocked. Traffic soon  came to a halt and police cars, ambulances and four fire engines flew past us. Soon two breakdown trucks also belted down the hard shoulder. Some 30  or so minutes later we were slowly on our way.  We came to the accident. Fortunately no one had been hurt. We could see  the remains of the caravan and the J**p. They had been travelling far too fast down a long hill and had obviously lost it!

We were soon on our way and came off the motorway at Bridgewater for a cross country journey home. Mitch stayed on the motorway, and arrived home after us!