Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Going east for this trip!

Well we decided that our main Autumn trip would be to the homelands of our youth, namely 'The garden of England',  Kent. Both Lizzie and I spent much of our childhoods in Kent. Lizzie was brought up in Tonbridge, and I spent much time at my Nans in Gillingham, and had summer holidays in Westgate, firstly staying at Mr Porters Guest House in Westgate, and later travelling down daily on the train to Westgate from Gillingham.

Bearstead Cc site in the morning!

 We were booked in at Bearstead CC site,  which is on the A20, just East of Maidstone. The site is 151 miles from home and took us exactly three hours to get to. We were booked in here for 14 nights.
We spent Friday shopping for essential provisions, wine, and a little food! In the evening we went out for dinner with my cousin Lee, who lives in Rainham.  We went to a super pub, who's name and location escapes me but it was only a few miles away from the site in a delightful village!

We were up early for us and set off for Dungness where we we were going to spend the day riding on the narrow gauge Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.  After some difficulties as Dungness station is being rebuilt, we boarded the train and set off north across the Marsh behind Typhoon.  At New Romney the engine was changed and we were hauled by Winston Churchill as we headed north to Hythe.
The journey is not as I expected as for much of it the line runs in a narrow corridor between the ends of gardens. The engine was turned at Hythe and then we travelled back to Dungness.
a great day out, and another railway ticked off.
I must also add that it is a superb railway, well maintained and run. Definitely worth the visit if you are in the area!  www.rhdr.org.uk

Sissinghurst Castle was the place we decided on for our morning coffee on Sunday.   This is a national Trust property with lovely gardens. The weather was so good we were able to sit outside.  the gardens were well worth the visit, and must be really spectacular in late spring / early summer.

Sissinghurst Castle Gardens

As the weather was holding on the Monday we set off for the Isle of Sheppy as neither of us remember having visited there before! Well it  was very much a holiday place, designed originally for East Enders.  Some of it reminded us of Skegness.
We drove back to The Strand in Gillingham, which is the towns coastal park, and is very tidy now compared with my memories of the 50's and 60's when it was rather scruffy. Then it was on to dinner with Lee at her home in Rainham.

After a restful day on Tuesday we had a run down to Folkestone on Wednesday, where we visited the excellent 'Battle of Britain' museum, which is a memorial to the Few! The Museum was only opened this year and compliments the memorial in front of it! A really super place to visit, and make you realise just how close to France we are!  www.battleofbritainmemorial.org

One of the static exhibits

With the weather holding still on Thursday we went to Tenterden, to travel on the Kent and East Sussex Railway.  This is a truly superb railway beautifully kept with excellent engines and rolling stock. We travelled through the beautiful Kent and Sussex countryside to Bodiam. www.kesr.org.uk

Again we had a superb day out and would recommend this as an excellent place to visit.

After a restful day on the Friday with just a little shopping in Sittingbourne, we set off for on the Saturday for the 'Giants of Steam Gala', on the Bluebell line. We parked at Horsted Keynes station, and boarded a train to East Grinstead. Again the line runs through lovely countryside.  The train we boarded was really busy so Lizzie was parked in the Guards van. However when we reached Kingscote we were transferred to a first class compartment next to the guards compartment, and there we stayed. Two gentlemen who were members of the railway were in the compartment as well and they told us lots about the line. As we approached East Grinstead they explained that one of the land owners would not sell the Bluebell railway a strip of land that they needed forcing them to reroute. As soon as they had set up the new route he offered to sell them the land, which they declined leaving him with a useless strip of land.  The approach to East Grinstead is through a railway cutting,which was used as a tip after the line was closed. All the rubbish was taken away on the railway as it was excavated from the cutting.  When the station at East Grinstead opened one of the planning constraints on the railway was that no whistles would be blown!

From East Grinstead we travelled back down the line, again first class, to Sheffield Park, before being transferred to another guards van for our return to Horsted Keynes.
a brilliant day out, which we will repeat on a quieter day.  The Bluebell Railway really is a professional railway that is worth a visit!  www.bluebell-railway.com
On the way back to the caravan we went through Tonbridge to look at the house where Lizzie was brought up.

I had spotted that the Bredegar and Wormshill Light Railway was open on the Sunday and it was only just down the road.  It was very foggy but we popped down there anyway.  This railway is operated by about a dozen men who meet to play trains each week, but it is only open to the public half a doxen times a year. The gauge was 24inches I think.   There were ten steam engines, a variety of diesels running on a short track. As well as the railway there were traction engines, tractors a model railway and a tea room, so plenty to see and do. We did not stay long though as it was rather cold and damp!
Some of the engines

One of themini traction engines

A three wheeled delivery van
Part of the model railway

On the Monday we were booked to cross over to Calais from Dover on the midday ferry.  It was very foggy when we got up, so we left earlier than we intended. Three miles down the road we emerged from the fog into bright sunny weather.  This meant that we arrived at Dover ferry terminal over an hour early.  However we were lucky and were loaded straight on to an earlier ferry.  We enjoyed crossing the Oggin, although the ferry we were on was one of P & O's oldest!  Not a patch on the Brittany Ferries we usually travel on.  We were soon in France and found Carrefour so did some shopping.  We then set off in search of a large Hypermarket, and were directed down the motorway, and after a very short time realised that we were in Belgium. Whilst on the motorway we passed the cam where many of the refugees are living. It is absolutely huge.  Quick about turn and we were back in Calais, and at the Hypermarket. Lots more shopping and we then returned for our homeward bound ferry. We were told it was going to be 45 minutes lateleaving, but we  boarded and were on our way at the correct time.  The cost of our trip was £35.00.  As we bought plent of wine that was soon saved, as a box of Muscadet was only 8 euros compared to the UK where it is about £16.00.  We also filled up with diesel at E1.08.

On the Wednesday Lee called into us for morning coffee.  Then we went off to visit Faversham, Whitstable and Herne Bay.
Herne Bay pier

This was once the end of the pier

 We also visited Reculver Towers, again a place I had never been before.

Reculver Towers

The traffic as we travelled back to Bearstead was absolutely awful

We went to Hempstead Shopping centre on Thursday to get some more new clothes from M & S.  We then set off  back through Chatham and Rochester, where I wanted to see the castle, as it was aplace I remember visiting a lot when I was younger.It had certainly been tidied up since I saw it some 40 plus years ago.

Rochester Castle

We had intended to go Dog Racing at Sittingbourne on Thursday, but the restaurant was closed, so we had an evening out with Lee and some of her friends.  Good fun.  I had been looking forward to the Dog Racing as it is something I have never done before, so when we come to Kent it will be on the list of things to do1

On the Friday morning we set off for home and endured a long stop start journey caused by several accidents on the motorways.  The most frustrating one was just before junction 17 of the M4, which is our exit.  We sat for absolutely ages in view of the junction, before the motorway was reopened.

On our way back we collected Jade and Jack as we were all going to Coral's 50th birthday party the following day.

We got home, parked the caravan on the drive, as we were away again the following morning. This time we were only doing one night at Baltic Wharff CC site in the middle of Bristol so that we could go to the party.
It was considerably cheaper to stay there, and get a taxi the mile up the road than getting a taxi from home.
The party was good with plenty there and Coral was very surprised to see everyone!

Coral, Lizzie and Robyn

Well that takes us to 167 nights this year!

Monday, 16 November 2015

East Lancs Railway Steam Gala

Well it was off to Burrs Court CC site again, this time to visit the Autumn Steam Gala on the East Lancs Railway. We had our quickest run up there ever at just under three hours!
We were soon set up on pitch 68, which gives us a super view of the railway, then it was off for dinner with Kathy, Robert and Dennis the Dog.

On the Thursday it was a good day so we set off through Clitheroe, Gisburn, Long Preston, past the Ribblehead Viaduct and on to Hawes where we visited the Wensleydale Cheese factory and museum.
Here we watched cheese being made, and sampled lots of it.
Proper Lancashire Scenery

Ribblehead Viaduct

The Yorkshire Scenery is superb

From there we went on to Asgarth, over the pass to Grassington, Skipton and home.
an excellent day out where we sawlotsof wonderful scenery.

You do noy see road blocks like this very often!

Friday was market day in Bury, so we spent some time wandering around there.
In the evening we went on the 'Red Ribbon Pullman Dining train' where we had a superb dinner. An expensive trip, but really worthwhile.

Transport to and from Bury Station

I spent Saturday wandering around Bury Station, enjoying looking at all the different engines.


I particularly enjoyed the Automatic train, which has a steam engine in between two coaches.

The Automatic Train

In the afternoon Kathy, Rob and Dennis came down for a barbecue.

We spent Sunday watching trains going upand down the line before adjourning for Sunday Dinner with Kathy and Rob.

Lizzie was in the mood for shopping on the Monday, so we spent time in the Rock shopping centre in Bury, and spent far too much on new clothes for us both.

We left on Tuesday and again were home in less than three and a half hours.

A good trip, even if it was a rather short one!

Monday, 5 October 2015

Travelling up North!

We decided that this September we would go to Scotland so with the Caravan all packed up, and weighed on the local weigh bridge we set off.  First stop was at Burrs Caravan Club site in Bury.  The journey up was horrendous. It is a journey that normally takes just under four hours, but this time it took us just over five and a half hours, due to the amount of traffic on the roads. The M5 was stop start from just north of Worcester, and the M6 was no better.  We met up with our friends Kathy and Robert for dinner!
Kathy, Dennis andRobert.

On the Saturday we went to the Ribble Steam Railway at Preston Docks,along with Kathy, Robert and Dennis the dog!  Rode on the train and then toured the museum and workshops.  Well worth the visit!

On loan from the National Railway Museum

That evening we all went to the Church Inn at Birtle for dinner which was excellent.

At 11.00am on the Sunday we went left,  heading north to Englethwaite Hall CC site  for a one night stop.  This is a very neat site just off the M6 and is used by many on their journey north or south as it is so convenient.  Unfortunately the journey took us much longer than we expected as there was an overturned caravan just north of Blackpool.  There seemed to be no injuries, and remarkably the caravan was, albeit on its side, was still in one piece.

We have never seen this sign before!

The next morning we left at 10.30 and had a very leisurely cross country run up to Largs.   We were staying at Whittleburn CL site.  We were here for two nights as  we had come up to see Megan, a friend of Lizzie's Mum and Lizzie. Largs is a lovely seaside town which really is worth a visit.  The weather was superb and we enjoyed just wandering around the town.

The Bay at Largs

The next stop was to be Stonehaven CC site on the east coast of Scotland, just south of Aberdeen. The journey was excellent as it was just like driving on French roads.  We covered the 164 miles in under 4 hours.  The site is right on the coast  and is only a few years old so it is very smart. Again the weather was brilliant so we were able to tour Stonehaven and also sit out in the sun.
Part of Stonehaven beach

Stonehaven. The Caravan Site is on the Right

No, I did not buy one!

The Royal Deeside Railway was our destination for Saturday, which was a bit damp and overcast. This railway is only just over a mile long, but is well run, and at only £3.00 each for a ride was good value.  We also very much enjoyed the journey across country admiring the scenery.

On the Sunday we headed north again to The Keith and Dufftown Railway.  This is an eleven mile journey linking the Worlds Malt Whisky Capital, Dufftown,to the market town of Keith.

View from the Ccab

When we got there we had an excellent lunch in the station buffet before going for a 12 mile ride on the two car Diesel Multiple Unit.  No steam at all on this line! We sat at the rear of the train facing the direction we had come from.  I even got to sit in the Drivers seat as we we were going along, after being warned not to touch anything.

I really did not touch anything!

One of the Diesel multiple units.

 The ride on the train was excellent with good scenery to look at.
Good Scenery 

On the return journey the driver left the door in to his cab open and chatted away to us as we went along pointing out features of the line.  We stopped at one station and he said that the family that live by the station looked after it for the railway. We really did have an excellent day out!!!!
Looking along the line

Monday started very wet so we did the weeks shopping at the local Lidl!
|The next day showed a marked improvement in the weather so we drove to Dunnotar castle to sit and look out over the coast!
Whilst staying at Stonehaven we had planned to drive North to John O'Groats, until we discovered that it was a six hour journey each way!

Our week at Stonehaven was soon over so on the Wednesday we travelled south to the Edinburgh CC site.  we found the site easily enough and soon set up.  The site was so noisy though, as it was on the flight path to Edinburgh airport. Planes passing over every few minutes from 05.30  am until 11.00pm
We went into Edinburgh and found that extremely busy with traffic and people!
The next day we drove to Queensferry to look at the three Forth bridges! The rail bridge is now a World Heritage site.

World Heritage Site. The Forth Rail Bridge

We followed that with a day exploring the coast east of Edinburgh and discovered some lovely beaches.  Enjoyed coffee in a artist cafe in a place call Portobello.
Whilst in Edinburgh we had intended to travel on the new Borders railway, but in view of the news reports about overcrowding and trains not running we decided to give it a miss!
We had intended to stay here for a week, but in view of the noise we cut our visit short and left, heading for Buxton, after an overnight stop at Englethwaite Hall.
When we left Edinburgh we drove south on the A7, following the route of the Borders Railway, and saw one  train running on it!

I have to say that when we visit Scotland again we will stick to the western side as it is so much more interesting.

We reached Buxton CC site on Monday!  This is a quite spectacular site in an old quarry.
Whilst staying there we visited Buxton, which was quite interesting.
On one of the days we visited Matlock Bath, where almost every building seemed to be a Fish and Chip shop.
Cable cars over Matlock Bath

 We carried on with our Peak district tour, stopping in front of Chatsworth House to eat our lunch.
Whilst in Buxton, we went to 'The Duke'  for evening dinner!  We had a really excellent dinner, both of us having fish. Very impressed with it, and even better it was not expensive. www.thedukebuxton.com

Views over the Southern Peak District

Buxton and the Peak District is an area we will visit again in the future I am sure.

We left the site on Friday, heading south to the Adventure Overland site at Stratford Race Course.  We met up with Robert and other friends and had a very enjoyable time there, as there was plenty to look at, and the weather was warm and dry!

At the Show!

Part of the 'Camel@ display

The weekend was soon over and we headed home.knowing that the following Monday morning we had to completely empty the caravan for it to have the bathroom taken out to sort a leak in the shower.

This trip was 23 nights, so that makes the years total 145 to date!