2022 – Back on the Road

Sunset at Southport

We spent the time between Christmas and the New Year at Henley Four Oaks Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Site, which is just off the River Thames and a short walk into the town of Henley-on-Thames. From there we headed off to Chertsey and the Camping and Caravanning Club (CCC) Site, where we saw in the New Year. The Chertsey CCC Site, is also next to the River Thames and a short walk to the town and we had a long overdue meet up with friends and walked along the river to Shepperton.

From Chertsey, we had to head to a FIAT service garage to have the motorhome looked at, following a recall notice. HTC Croydon, looked at and fixed the issue in a matter of minutes, before we were able to be back on the road. After an overnight stop at Gatwick CMC Site. we headed off for a short trip this time we headed to Ashwell and the Ashwell Farm CMC Site;which we picked as we didn’t think we had been before and it was local-ish. On arrival, we have been here before – on our first trip in the lovely Nortia, returning south from Darlington. Ashwell, is a charming English Country Village, with three pubs, a butchers, bakers, village shop and church overlooking the cricket field. There are a lot of footpaths and places to walk from the club site too.

Heading back homewards, we stopped at the CMC Site in Welwyn Garden City, Commons Wood. There are so many lovely places to walk to, the site backs right onto woods. After an appointment with the Doctors and a short catch-up at the Gatwick CMC Site (it was lovely to see / hear so many more planes this time and hope we would be able to travel abroad again soon.

As France had closed its borders to all but essential travel, we had booked to stay in the Lake District, rather than just pop here and there! We stopped over at the Chapel Lane CMC Site, Birmingham, not far from the M6, be aware heading north the lovely Ditsy Daisy Sat Nav, took us through the Clean Air Zone. We have checked and at current our engine is compliant, therefore charge free! Next we stopped at Southport CMC Site.

Neither of us had been to Southport before and the town is a lovely example of a Victorian Seaside Resort, although the sea has receded by several metres over the years and the end of the pier is now not near the sea! We were greeted with a lovely sunset over the bay. Southport is also home to several cycle routes including the Trans-Pennine Route Irish Sea to North Sea.

Back to the Lake District, via Blackpool, which I had never been to before and it was as expected, but surprisingly not as tacky (in our opinion) as Benidorm! We stopped at Meathorp Fell CMC site, with the expectation of walking back into Grange-over-Sands, but the weather didn’t share our optimism and so that was washed out, but we did find a little footpath route from the campsite to let Reg have a good walk instead. Next we stopped at a lovely CMC Certified Location Holmside, outside Seascale, with a lovely village and walks all around, before heading to one of our absolute favourite sites – Keswick Camping and Caravanning Club Site.

Keswick CCC Site was our treat for not having been able to travel to Spain in December. It is a gem, right on the edge of the town, views over Catbells and Skiddaw and Derwent Water and walks all around. We had also hoped to catch up with our friends, John and Sheila, who were heading home from Spain, but despite blustery, stormy weather – Storm Malik hit us that weekend, there were no spaces and for a third time our catch-up was thwarted! Fourth time lucky, fingers crossed!

Heading south, we stopped at Chatsworth Park, CMC Site, right in the grounds of the house, with extensive parkland to walk, and the village on the doorstep. Reg was excited to see so many deer, so close (he was kept on the lead though)! Storm Corrie arrived with avengence here, we’re beginning to feel a little jinxed! Further south and a quick one nighter at Broadway CMC Site- the village is a very short walk and so picturesque, before heading to Bristol and the Baltic Wharf CMC Site.

Baltic Wharf is another of our favourites, and we’ll be sad to see it go, but we were so lucky to have been able to sneak a midweek break in here. We found so much more to do this time including the street art along North Street, Bedminster and the aray of little shops and cafes. We had an excellent lunch at Sandwich Sandwich, Baldwin Street. If you’re going to try a stack, we would recommend not eating before and possibly cancelling any dinner plans! But just so good!

Finally our tour came to an end in Brighton at the CMC site, and a Birthday catch-up with family for my mum’s birthday. We had a few other bits to do but we’re pleased to say we’re off to Spain very soon! We’ll keep you posted and let you know all about our trip, very soon!

As always, thank you for reading, we hope you’ve managed to stay safe and well and you too have plans coming to fruition….

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: Weeks 3 and 4 – Salisbury, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and back to Sussex

Our blog this week will cover two weeks, as we had very poor mobile signal and wifi connection at the start of the week!

Having left Winchester, we headed west to the City of Salisbury. Salisbury Hillside Caravan and Motorhome Club Site is located 8 miles from the city centre and unfortunately not the site I thought it was! Still that site will remain on our list for another trip! Salisbury Hillside is, however, a lovely peaceful place, with a dog walk through the countryside and an ideal place to relax.

The weather was in our favour most of our stay and on the day the rain arrived we took a road trip to Warminster and Westbury.

After five days on site and chores completed (we were going off-grid for our next stop and we’re unlikely to have access to a site laundry for a week or so), we headed along the A303 (at the start of a Bank Holiday weekend – are we nuts?) past Stonehenge and into the Cotswolds.

Our stop for the weekend was a small Caravan and Motorhome Club Certified Location in Slaughterford. Toplands Farm CMC CL is located just outside the villages of Slaughterford, Biddestone and Giddeahall, 5 miles west of Chippenham. We loved it’s rural location and the ponies as our neighbours with the pheasants running around. The weather was kind, despite a weather warning for our departure day. We followed the Biddestone Heritage Trail in two halves, firstly walking to Biddestone and around, and then walking to Slaughterford and Ford. This is definitely a site we’ll be back to, there is so much more we could have done and seen.

In addition, this was our first time off-grid in England and it was also our test to check everything still works! It was not as warm as it was the last time in Spain, and the sun not quite as strong, but we survived. The gas heating and water was a dream, and the battery lasted until we left. We learnt a few lessons and we were pleased with our achievements. For reference, we needed to fill back up with LPG, our first top up since we left on 12th April – 3 weeks earlier, and it cost us £7.00.

After the glorious weekend at Toplands Farm withe the Cotswold countryside, a weather warning had been issued – yellow warning of wind for Monday and part of Tuesday, making the drive to our next stop a little hairy at times, one of the hazards of open countryside in a large metal box!

We arrived at the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site of Bladon Chains, just outside Woodstock, and on the edge of the Blenheim Estate, just before the rain arrived. Bladon Chains, is due to be handed back to the Blenheim Estate in September, so we had wanted to see it before it is turned into a lodge park. Blenheim Palace is the home to the Duke(s) of Marlborough and Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (British Prime Minister 1940 – 1944 and 1954 – 1955.

We walked to the Burial Sites of the Churchill Family and in particular the grave of Winston Churchill. It is located in the graveyard of the Church of Saint Martin, Bladon, Oxfordshire and about a 20 minute walk from the campsite.

The next two days we walked into the town of Woodstock, past the impressive entrance to the Blenheim Estate. The town of Woodstock has a number of historic wall plaques, which we managed to locate all of. Woodstock town dates back to around 1185, founded by King Henry II and expanded in the Eighteenth Century during the building of Blenheim Palace, which replaced the Royal Palace. https://www.oxfordshirecotswolds.org/dbimgs/Walk_WoodstockWallPlaque.pdfhttps://www.oxfordshirecotswolds.org/dbimgs/Walk_WoodstockWallPlaque.pdf

We discovered that although a fee is due to be paid to enter the Blenheim Estate ( the house was still closed when we went due to the pandemic, and several of the outside garden areas do not allow dogs, and £36.00 for the privilege was a little steep!) there is a gateway open and unmanned allowing entry to the Estate grounds, and we had a great look at the landscaped lands.

We headed back to Sussex, and the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site at Slinfold. We were here at the start of this mini-tour and loved it so much, we thought we’d try and stay when we have tasks to do, close to home! Ric had his second COVID jab booked, the motorhome needs a little fix, Reg needs his booster and I need a haircut! We were also able to catch up with family, outside the campsite. We’re heading off again, still local to complete our list of tasks before we begin another mini-tour.

As always thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are safe and well and the Bank Holiday wasn’t too much of a washout. We’ll be back with more soon.

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…