Our British Adventure Begins…#oneyearlate…Weeks 1 and 2: Canals, Racecourses and the Cotswolds.

Grand Union Canal

Having waited for the green light from Boris, we have been planning a trip around mainland England and hopefully up to Scotland. We planned to head north following some of the waterways that spread across the country.

After catching up with family, we set off, heading north to the Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Site at Wyatts Covert, Denham, Buckinghamshire. https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/south-east-england/buckinghamshire/wyatts-covert-caravan-club-site/

There are several footpaths to walk from here as well as a view of the HS2 rail link groundworks. The Grand Union Canal is also about a 15 minute walk away. From the campsite you can watch small planes and helicopters taking off and landing, or you can watch from the side of the runway about a five minute walk away.

From Denham, we travelled north to Leighton Buzzard and a CMC Certified Location (CL) on the Grand Union Canal at Grove Lock Marina, Bedfordshire. https://grovelockmarina.com/ It also has its own campsite in addition to the CL site. We walked along the canal to Leighton Buzzard (once navigating the narrow lock gates, with a very nervy Reg. You can go up river to the next lock at Church Lock and cross over the bridge if you wanted to cycle along the towpath.

After two nights at Grove Marina, we travelled north to Oxfordshire and another CL at Epwell Grounds Farm, outside Banbury. https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/oxfordshire/banbury/epwell-grounds-farm/ It was a shame the weather wasn’t more favourable, but the campsite is right on the edge of a Bridleway with routes into Epwell, Shutford and Balscote and despite getting very soggy, the views across the countryside were magnificent.

Heading into week two of our adventure we’re spending more time touring the Cotswolds.

Firstly, we arrived at Moreton-in-Marsh and the CMC site https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/cotswolds/gloucestershire/moreton-in-marsh-caravan-club-site/. We stayed here before, last year before the pandemic locked us down, but we were en route to Harrogate and we didn’t have time to explore, but this time we were able to. The town has a market on Tuesdays and it is a very typical Cotswold-style town. From the campsite you can walk to the Batsford Arboretum or right into the middle of the town.

We were reminded of how we assume that everyone who arrives on a campsite knows what they are doing. Our neighbours arrived in a newly bought VW California. They had been given some information by the seller, but not the correct power lead and as they looked puzzled, we asked if they were ok and they showed us the power lead they had but it was a domestic, 240V plug and not a Commando Plug. They were ok, we ran through a few basics with them and charged their mobile phones, before they headed off on their way the following morning.

Next, we headed west to Cheltenham Racecourse CMC site https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/cotswolds/gloucestershire/cheltenham-racecourse-caravan-club-site/. This site was a little confusing on arrival and with a slight level of disappointment we checked in. The campsite is the car park of the Best Mate Enclosure and on first impression, it looks like a big tarmac car park. However, don’t let first impressions fool you! We had a great pitch, with views over the racecourse (and with the torrential rainstorm we had on Sunday, we were grateful to have been on tarmac). The Wardens were so helpful during our pitch selection and throughout our stay. The weather again had its moments, including the rainstorm. The site itself is a short walk from the town centre, there is a park about five minutes walk away and a footpath runs around the edge of the racecourse.

Our tour will take us further into the Cotswolds tomorrow. As always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are well and we’ll be back in touch soon (internet permitting – we’ve been in some of the most wi-fi unfriendly places recently!).

Back on the Road: Weeks 8, 9 and 10 – Kent, Dorset and Sussex…

Another Mileage Milestone 30000 miles – it’s been a while since we’ve managed one!

Apologies for the combination of posts, we have had really poor internet connection over the last couple of weeks and trying to upload anything was a real chore! Instead of bombarding you with loads of posts, we chose to send just one.

We left our base at the Gatwick Caravan and Motorhome Club Site and headed back to Kent and the Camping and Caravanning Club Site at Sevenoaks. We had not stopped at this part of Kent before and were keen to complete our tour of the County. It is fairly close to our home and probably one of the reasons for not stopping here before! The site at Oldbury Hill, is in National Trust land and opposite the site of an old Iron Age Hill Fort. There are plenty of places to walk and once, you’ve negotiated the hill up the walks are particularly flat.

Internet signal was not too great here (nor phone signal), but the views and the site were great. You will need some great chocks though to get level, especially if you’re in the top two rows – we weren’t able to choose a pitch as there had been a lot of recent rain and the ground still drying out. We had a walk to the local Farm Shop at Chart Farm, a short 10 minute walk (or so)!

Thursday, after four nights, we set off again, back to Sussex and one of our favourite sites – Slinfold Caravan and Motorhome Club Site. Although, it has no facilities, the atmosphere, staff and location are just so welcoming. No doubt we will return again, later in the year. From the site, there are several footpaths off the Downs Link and we spent some time wandering along some of the most beautiful. We saw deer in the woods and fields, woodpeckers on the site and a little cheeky squirrel outside the door.

One of the reasons for stopping here, again, was for Sarah to have her second COVID vaccination. Once complete we are both fully vaccinated! We managed to clean half of the very dirty Nortia, before leaving too, (the rest will have to wait).

We left Slinfold and headed back to a little Caravan and Motorhome Club Certified Location, we had stopped at before, last year – Omaha Meadows,https://omahameadows.com/ just outside Bournemouth, in the little town of Verwood. Omaha Meadows is on the edge of the Moors Valley Country Park https://www.moors-valley.co.uk/, plenty of dog walking, golf, trails through the woods, Go Ape, Segway Hire and a Gruffalo Trail, perfect for all the family!

We had two cycle rides and numerous walks through the Park. Note to self – don’t think it’s a short circular walk through the park and around the seemingly short road back (two hours and six and a half hours later – needless to say the dog was tired out for the rest of the day)!

From Omaha Meadows we headed to Sumners Ponds,https://www.sumnersponds.co.uk/ we still have credit for the lockdowns here – it’s our Bogey site, each time we arrive and Boris has an announcement, we are forced into Lockdown. This time though we were lucky and we still have the green light to travel. We spent a birthday afternoon with Sarah’s mum, Ric spent some time fishing on the lakes and in a horrendous rain storm we headed back home for two nights for a family Barbecue, to celebrate Sarah’s Birthday and Father’s Day. This time our stopover wasn’t enforced!

We’re heading off on a proper tour next. Our appointments have been kept and we can head off. Our plans for last year are still in our minds and hopefully we’ll be able to fulfil them this year. Where we are heading and how we get on will be our next set of updates. As always, thank you for reading, stay safe and well and hopefully we’ll all be able to fulfil our dreams…

Back on the Road: Week 7 – A tour of Kent (and back to Sussex)

a Victorian Post Box, Lydden, Kent

We left our campsite at Pluckley and headed to Lydden, just outside Margate. En route we stopped off at Headcorn Aerodrome, where about 30 years ago I did my (Sarah) one (and only) parachute jump! Our little tour of Kent, took us up through Sandwich and along the coast.

Lydden Farm Campsite https://www.lyddenfarm.co.uk/ is one of the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s Certified Locations and it is another gem. £13 a night, maximum of five pitches and a short walk to shops and Margate, however our walk was curtailed by a busy main road and fly-tipping! We chose to have a driving tour around the Isle of Thanet, down to Ramsgate (again a cycle ride away on the Viking Coastal Trail) up to Broadstairs into Margate and on to Herne Bay.

Part of our reason for visiting Margate was to view the Anthony Gormley Statue, Another Place. A word to the wise… Check the tide times! At high tide the statue is completely submerged. We, also, headed past the Amusement Park of Dreamland. We did manage to just see his head, when we came back on Friday, heading off.

From the campsite there were various walking and cycling routes and dog walking for Reg was great. On Wednesday, we were informed that our weekend stop in East Hoathly, was waterlogged and we had been cancelled! What now, it’s a Bank Holiday…

Leaving Lydden and Margate we made our way to Bearsted, Maidstone. We had planned to stop here and complete our laundry after having had no facilities on site for a fortnight! It is a short walk from the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site to Leeds Castle, where we had hoped to see views of the castle from the grounds, where the footpath will take you, but no such luck!

Now, for the Bank Holiday, Bearsted had no availability so we had to move on, but where to? Gatwick Caravan and Motorhome Club Site of course! Why? A curry! and potentially a motorhome wash (no such luck, it was too hot on our arrival day and the next, and the day of departure, everyone had the same idea, so we’re a little dirty, but…

We love a curry from our home town and the Raj Tandoori (Crawley’s oldest) never fails to deliver. Now they are on Just Eat too and will deliver to the campsite. http://www.rajtandooricrawley.co.uk/home/3496265

We also managed to meet one of our Facebook Friends (and follower) Great British Bake Off’s Karen Wright and her husband John. https://www.karenwrightbakes.co.uk/

Karen, her husband John and fellow GBBO Contestant Terry Harthill set off on a European Tour in two Etrusco Motorhomes in 2019. https://www.freedomtogo.co.uk/watch/travel-vlogs/gbbos-karen-terrys-european-motorhome-adventure/

We’re heading off again on Monday, back on our tour.

As always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are safe and well. We’ll be back soon (internet dependent!).

Back on the Road: Week 6 – East Sussex and Kent

Sunset at St Mary in the Marsh

Wow – six weeks already!

We’ve been enjoying our jaunts around the south east of England, areas we have seen on signposts while getting from one place to another or on the M20 signs. Reg is getting back in the swing, settling down behind the driver’s chair and chilling when we’re on the road. He has his seat belt to restrain him and apart from once last year, he hasn’t managed to escape (perhaps he’s a little older, or just a bit fatter in his harness!

Monday and we left our lovely weekend site at Norman’s Bay and headed into the Garden of England, Kent. Driving through Bexhill-on-Sea, and Hastings. Hastings is somewhere Ric and I have both spent time working but we saw some sites we hadn’t before and hope to be able to go back and investigate! Out of nowhere, the heavens opened and a torrential rain shower greeted us. Our first stop of the week was Shingle Hall Farm, St Mary in the Marsh, in the Romney Marshes. https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/kent/hythe/shingle-hall-farm/

What a find and what lovely owners. David and Susan, were so knowledgeable and friendly. We had planned to cycle up to the Old Military Canal and along the seafront to Dungeness, but the weather was not playing ball. Instead we walked to the village, with it’s 12th Century Church and pub. Just down the road is a lovely self-service (vending machine) Farm Shop at Honeycroft Farm. We bought some cheese, asparagus with hollandaise sauce and a couple of home-made Cheese and Bacon Twists, but there is milk, butter, cakes, pies etc – they have a facebook page if you’re planning a visit!

We also walked down the road to Dymchurch. The campsite is just off the National Cycle Route 2 and the Romney Marsh Meander Route 5. Instead of cycling in the rain, we took the opportunity to change the brake pads on them. On the last trip out on them, my brakes were so squeaky it was embarrassing to pull the lever! Not great, when there was a really steep hill on our route.

After four nights, and just as a weather warning was in place for wind, we headed along the seafront to Folkestone and the Battle of Britain Monument. The Battle of Britain Monument is located right on the cliff top overlooking the White Cliffs of Dover along the coast. The monument is free to visit (check the days of opening) and the car park does have a cost – depending on the length of your stay, but, if you’re passing by and monuments are your thing, it’s worth a detour! We headed along the coast stopping at Deal for lunch, before heading inland to the pretty picturesque village of Pluckley. We stopped for the weekend at Watercress Farm https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/kent/ashford/watercress-farm/.

Tony and Penny were another lovely pair of hosts and the site immaculate. It’s a short walk along the road to the village, with its shop and Butcher. We also walked to the local pub (about 15 minutes away) and another Farm Shop, selling lovely local meat and vegetables. Pluckley is in the Guiness Book of Records as being the most haunted village in Britain.

We’re heading off again tomorrow to continue our tour of Kent. Find out where we go and what we find on our way. As always thank you for reading, and we hope you’re safe and well. We’ll be back with more next time….

Back on the Road – Week 5 Sussex: (East and West)

Reg enjoying the sea (again)

Not a lot to write about this week, but we have sorted a variety of things!

We left Slindon Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Site and headed north to Gatwick CMC Site. Gatwick is close to our home and we knew we can get a decent curry here, along with the fact that Reg needed to have his booster vaccination. We can’t believe it’s been a year since he was fully vaccinated and nearly a year since we could start to walk and socialise him! In addition, we have a repair to carry out on the motorhome which, our friendly local mechanic can sort out for us; but true to form, the standard part you can order, is not the one we need, so we’re awaiting news of the part’s delivery!

After Gatwick, we headed south to Brighton CMC Site. A well earned and overdue haircut was on the cards!

Next we headed east to the Norman’s Bay Camping and Caravanning Club Site. What a lovely site! It’s a walk over the road to the beach, which although stone and shingle, has a great walk to the little village of Pevensey Bay, with a few shops,restaurants and the train station. A walk in the opposite direction takes you to the railway station at Norman’s Bay, passed the restored Martello Tower.

Walking Reg each morning was great as it was low tide and he still loves the water, he does go a little more nutty than normal but… He was able to be off lead, as the only restriction on the beach was to be under control – but with no other dogs or people around he was as good as gold (or as good as a 15 month Border Terrier can be!) Our only restriction was as the tide was still going out, the sand was a little quick and the rip looked a bit too strong. I didn’t fancy a cold early morning swim to rescue him!

We’re heading off to Kent, next week for a tour around and hopefully being able to see some sights we couldn’t the last time we wanted to (when the country went into the November Lockdown and the Kent variant of COVID-19 had just been identified. We’ll let you know how we get on and where we get to soon.

As always, thank you for reading. We hope that you and your families are safe and well.

Back on the Road: Week 2 Sussex to Hampshire

Photobombed by Reg!

We left our weekend stop at Northbrook Farm Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, Worthing and headed along the coast to Bognor Regis.

We were surprised to find just up the road, there is a Monument to a Racing Driver we’d never heard of – David Charles Purley, GM. David Purley was the son of the founder of LEC Refrigeration and in our opinion, did not have the best of luck. His parachute failed to open, while training with the Parachute Regiment, but fortunately landed on his Platoon Sergeant’s parachute and both survived the landing. He was awarded the George Medal (GM) for trying to save another racing driver from a crashed car, which was on fire in the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix. He survived a crash in pre-qualifying at the 1977 British Grand Prix. After retiring from racing he took up Aerobatics and died when his plane crashed into the English Channel off Bognor Regis.

We were able to enjoy the sunshine and the heat, sitting outside, reading and relaxing. There are several nice places to walk to from the site, including Bersted Brooks, a nature haven and very popular with dog walkers!

Moving on we headed north-west to Winchester and the Morn Hill, Caravan and Motorhome Club Site. We had a stroll into the city on St George’s Day and were glad to see the Cathedral had the Flag of St George flying. The city was the first capital of England and there is a statue to Alfred the Great, who prevented the country falling to the Danes.

We’ve been very fortunate in our second week on the road to have had great weather and we have both welcomed sitting outside in the sun (after an endless winter in Lockdown)! We had a couple of visitors each evening, a pair of partridges.

Hopefully, next week will continue to be as pleasant as we move on further west. As always, thank you for reading. We hope that you and your families are safe and well and able to plan your journeys out of Lockdown. We’ll be back soon with more updates from our mini tour, while we wait for our second vaccinations and the final two announcements on the route out of Lockdown. We’re planning our great escape but, you’ll have to wait to find out more….

Back on the Road: Out of Lockdown 3 (at last!).

We’re back on the road! We’ve left our Lockdown spot, much to the joy of one neighbour and the disappointment of others! After a weekend of cleaning and preparation (the last two times we left Lockdown, we left it to the morning of our departure and the heavens opened both times), we were ready – this time we awoke to snow!

Incidentally, 13 years ago, this week, we took our first camping trip together to the Lake District. We had a few days to spare and I (Sarah) was between jobs. We were slightly under prepared, we bought decent (but heavy) rucksacks, more for style than practicality, mummy-style sleeping bags, which we’d never tried before and subsequently didn’t allow us to move too warm up on the cold nights and an equally impractical Bivvy tent. Our next trip away camping, we were more prepared and thankfully, as you can tell, it hadn’t put us off!

Heading off we arrived at our first stop, Slinfold Caravan and Motorhome Club Site. We have cycled passed this site, before but knowing it had no facilities, we weren’t able to stay in our last van. We were looking forward to being local and enjoying the location. The site is right on the Downs Link – a 36 mile cycle and walking path, following two disused railways from St. Martha’s Hill (near Guildford), Surrey and Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex. During our stay, we walked up to the Double Bridge – a brick arch bridge with an iron girder bridge on top. The iron girder was added as the original gradient for the railway line was too steep for trains. We also cycled up the track to Cranleigh, passing the old restored station at Baynards.

After a three day stay we headed south to Worthing, and Northbrook Farm Caravan and Motorhome Club Site. We have never been here before either, but again another local-ish site. On the first day a long walk to the beach at Goring, made us realise we had headed slightly in the wrong direction to get there and Gloria Google Maps helped out on our return to the site. We also took a walk up to the South Downs, for a picnic lunch at Highdown Hill, just a short walk from the site, but with amazing views along the coast to Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters and to Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.

It’s been a great week, we’re heading off again tomorrow, along the coast. We’re trying to stay local-ish as we’re waiting for our second COVID-19 vaccinations. We have plans for this year, fingers crossed and Coronavirus permitting, we really hope we can get there!

As always, thank you for reading. We hope you’re all safe and well. We’ll be back to share our trips soon…

100 Days and Still in Lockdown, but, Brighter Days are on the Horizon!

Brighter days on the horizon?

We’ve reached another milestone, today is 100 days since we left our campsite and returned to our parking spot. We won’t lie, it has been hard. We’ve had long dark nights, snow, ice, hail, wind and this week, beautiful sunshine. Our Facebook pages, like to remind us of where we’ve been in years gone by and (with the exception of last year, obviously) we like to go away over the Easter Break, so there are a few reminders of what life used to be like!

We’ve filled our days with puzzles and books, computer games, tv, streaming box sets, trying new skills and dog training. Reg is improving with his obedience and slowly his recall, not enough to be off the lead in a town, but we do have a five metre training lead. Reg has also been meeting lots of new friends. We’ve discovered all but one of the Historic Blue Plaques and several pieces of street art, locally, on our morning walks.

We’re still talking and getting on and we’re contemplating and planning, where we will go next, when we’re allowed to do so.

We’ve both had our first COVID jabs and whilst I have an appointment for my second, Ric is still awaiting his date – we are sure it will arrive the moment we are able to set off, in true accordance with Murphy’s Law!

This week, lockdown has eased slightly. We no longer have to Stay at Home. We can meet with another household, outdoors (or in a group of six). The weather had brightened, but today the wind has a chill and the sun is yet to show up.

On Monday, we will find out whether we can get back on the road the following week, but in anticipation, we’ve cleaned up the garage, and started sprucing up Nortia. We’ve had another clear out and left behind another set of stuff, we haven’t used, since setting off! There are still more things to do

As always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are safe and well. Fingers crossed, Monday’s announcement will give us all the news we want/need! We’ll be back soon with an update…

Almost Eight Weeks into Lockdown 3…

I can’t have a bath, if there’s no towel…!

We’re still in our parking spot, awaiting news from the English Government as to when and how Lockdown 3 will come to an end. We’re not hopeful but better to expect the worst! We have been told our booking for March has been cancelled, so we’ll leave that in the bag as it’s now the fifth amendment from the start of the first Lockdown, almost a year ago. We’ve booked to be away at Easter too, but…

Over the last week, we’ve discovered blue plaques depicting people from the town and their claim to fame, around the local area and the dog walks have been an opportunity to discover more. Some of them are surprising. There are a few more to find, but they are a little too far to walk to and back, we might be able to cycle to them though, in the future, when the weather is a little nicer.

So far, we’ve found plaques for Mark Lemon – the first Editor of the Magazine, Punch; Richard Marsh – Author; John Leech – Illustrator (he actually illustrated the Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens; Richard Brown – Sculptor (along with his sculpture – Family Group); Sir Charles Court – the 21st Premier of Western Australia; Roger Bastable – Author, local historian and founder of the Crawley Festival; Francis Thompson – Poet and Essayist; John Goepel – famous for naming the streets of Crawley; Jim Pitts – Musician, Artist, Sculptor; and Dame Caroline Haslett – Electrical Engineer. There is also a green plaque from the Brewery, Hall and Woodhouse dedicated to the actor Peter Vaughan.

We have also discovered more street art along the way too.

The weather has slowly improved and the snow turned to slush and ice before the sun came out and cleared it all up, now it has started to warm up a bit, we actually had some sunshine yesterday which was more than welcome and we were able to have a proper airing of Nortia. Hopefully, it’s a good omen and we’ll be able to have more good weather soon (although typing this it has now started raining!). We’ve celebrated Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) with Yorkshire Puddings, rather than pancakes and Ric has been lucky enough to have had his first vaccination (I’m still waiting for my turn)! Reg had a bath too (well a shower really), but he did decide he was going to steal the towel first, he’s not as adverse to a shower as Albi was, but it’s only number 2! Time will tell.

Fingers crossed we’ll have good news soon and we’ll be able to get back on the road soon. As always, thank you for reading, we really appreciate your support. Please stay safe and well, Ric, Sarah & Reg

Lockdown 3 continues…

Nortia in the snow

We’re almost seven weeks into Lockdown 3, and still waiting for an announcement regarding its end. An announcement is due on 22nd February. Restrictions mean we can not travel more than 5 miles without a valid reason, meet up with other households in or outdoors and definitely not stay away from home.

So far, there’s not been much to write about…. We’ve updated our blog site, cleared out the motorhome garage, watched more television than we should, played computer games, and puzzles on paper and still we’re not done! We have a few tasks to carry out, but they’re outdoors tasks and require the air temperature to be above 0°C and dry! But, we’re very fortunate to be safe and well, quietly tucked away in our little parking spot.

This week the weather has turned very cold and snow arrived on Sunday and carried on until Thursday, with some thaw and refreeze inbetween, making some walks a little more hazardous than others! On top of the snow, we met Storm Darcy, with strong cold winds and more snow. The temperatures this week, have been below 0°C continuously, with a wind chill taking it to -11°C one night.

We’ve found various little gems on the dog walks, from wall art to old cars and the first signs of Spring (before the snow)! We use this time to train Reg, although the weather hasn’t been to favourable to do too much. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not southern softies, but the fields have turned from waterlogged mud baths to a frozen wilderness. Reg likes to lick the snow and ice, before completely turning into a looney – we’ve put it down to brain freeze (or ice-cream head)!

On a positive front, we’ve now got over 500 followers, across all platforms – we thank you all for your support. We know we’ve not been to active recently, and our posts have been few and far between. This lockdown, seems to have affected us a bit more and although we’re safe and well, we’re definitely feeling our wings have been clipped and we’re itching to get back on the move. Where and when we’re not able to plan yet, hopefully the Government’s announcement in a week (or so) will enable us to start thinking.

Hopefully, our next post will be more positive, the weather might have got warmer (hopefully without rain but…), we might know when we can leave Lockdown and our parking spot and vaccinations might be on the horizon. Thank you, again for reading and your support. As always we hope you and your families are safe and well and there is some hope on the horizon (fingers crossed). We’ll be back with an update soon….