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…

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….

Good Bye 2020 – Hello 2021

Happy New Year!

We had hoped to be spending Christmas and New Year 2020 in Spain, but Coronavirus put paid to that idea. Instead we’re in our Lockdown Parking Spot, as our home postcode went from Tier 2 to Tier 4, on Boxing Day. We’re not surprised or too down about it, we’re safe and well as are our families too, barring a COVID-19 scare and a fractured wrist!

2020 was not the year we expected! I don’t think it was for anyone. For years we’d planned our travel adventure and nine months in, it was curtailed. We’ve still managed to do a few things this year, regardless.

2020 – in a nutshell:

Having said goodbye to Albi in Spain, in January, we returned to England in March and picked up our new puppy, Reg, It might seem quite a short time between dogs but we realised in the two months on the road, life wasn’t the same without one. Reg is not Albi, despite being the same breed, they are totally different!

Spain and Gibraltar: We loved exploring the coast and mountains. We have got several places we want to return to and hopefully Christmas 2021, can be spent out there.

France: Travelling back along the Canal du Midi up to Bordeaux and on to the most westerly cap, in Brittany before turning right and heading along the English Channel.

Lockdown 1: three months with a new puppy in a car park, was entertaining, but we survived. Reg started puppy training, we took advantage of the good weather and the garden. We went out on our bikes and generally, survived!

July – October: We took advantage of being able to travel and visited much of England and Wales. We avoided hotspot areas and were able to see some places, we’d never been to before.

November – Lockdown 2: We returned to our car park, the prospect of another stay here was daunting, but we knew we could get through it. We had planned to be relatively local, anyway, awaiting the imminent arrival of our first granddaughter (she is actually the sixth grandchild, but the first girl in 30 years!). We are slightly biased, but she is a beauty.

December – a mixed bag! We rescheduled our campsite from November to December, We travelled locally and stayed at some places, we’d usually deem to close to stay at (we could day trip from our old house!). We made arrangements for Christmas and New Year, before changing our plans as the sites we wanted to go to were placed into Tier 4 and closing. Then, the big one on Boxing Day our location and our home address went into Tier 4 too. The campsite was closing, so we had to return home to the car park for the New Year.

We’re hoping 2021, is a better year for us all. There is a hope with the roll out of the vaccination programme. We’re planning our adventure for 2021 and hopefully we’ll be able to see it through, but it’s more important that we stay safe and well. Thank you, as always, for reading, we’ll be back in 2021.

Along the South Coast – Littlehampton, Lymington and Hayling Island…

Monday and rain, we know it is December and England but it does get a little depressing. The days are short, the sun rises late and sets early, making dog walking interesting! We’re at the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site in Littlehampton. It’s a short distance to the local shops and a large supermarket. We had a little walk down to the Supermarket and back, mainly to tire the dog!

Tuesday and despite the early fog, the sun came out and we walked down to the sea. It’s a fairly short walk and in the December sunshine without the summer hoards, it was quite a relaxing walk. We’ve never seen the beach so empty, despite a few dog walkers. The sea was calm and beautiful (not inviting enough for us to go in though)! We stopped on the way back at a Fish and Chip Shop for a snack eating them on the Prom (avoiding the seagulls). The prom along the Pier has plaques with fish recipes on.

Wednesday and we’ve headed west to Hampshire and into the New Forest National Park, despite a road closure, not spotted by Ditsy Daisy, but thankfully a Diversion was in place and the road signs indicated the height restrictions so we were safe to continue. We stopped at a Caravan and Motorhome Club Certified Location (CL) Site outside Lymington – Homefield. It’s a small site, just of the main road, with a toilet block, paid shower and laundry.

Over the road is a footpath ideal to walk the dog or so we thought! On further inspection the first field is easy to enter through a kissing gate and well signed and walked, the next is a broken stile so negotiating with a puppy was a little tricky but manageable. The next field – through a gate, no problem then another broken stile and barbed wire, and a polite notice to follow the edge of the field then the signs run out and indicate the way you came… Needless to say, as darkness approached, we headed back.

We headed out for a drive, when the rain finally stopped heading up to Salisbury and Old Sarum. Although we’ve driven past many times we’d never actually been into the city centre. We had a quick drive through (vowing to stay more local and explore thoroughly in the future) and stopped for a dog walk at Old Sarum. Old Sarum is one of the most historically important site in southern England. It combines a castle and cathedral within an Iron Age fortification. Entry is via an online booking, but the car park is free and the lands around are too!

Leaving Lymington, we headed back east to Hayling Island, through the beautiful New Forest and Beaulieu. The site we’d chosen was another Certified Location in Stoke. It is a short walk to the Hayling Billy Coastal Path, running North to South along the western edge of the harbour. We had a walk along part of it, looking over to Portsmouth and the Spinnaker Tower.

We’re here until Tuesday! As always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are safe and well. We’l be back with our next installment soon….

Lockdown 2: The last full week.

Where you find the dog, when you leave him to clean the roof!

We’re still tucked up in our little parking spot. We’re thankful that most of our neighbours are still ok about us being here! The days seem to have dragged this week, probably in the run up to the Government’s announcements about Christmas and which Tier we will be in when Lockdown 2 is over.

This week there has been a number of houses getting themselves into the festive mood, with lights and decorations being added and switched on as the week has progressed. We ventured up into the loft and have got ours out ready for the festivities to begin, wherever we may be! We have made arrangements for the Festive Period, but not wanting to get our hopes too high, for fear of them being dashed once again.

We finished cleaning the roof, it was a bit of a chore without scaffolding or a gantry, or even a lot of space to move around, ever wary that we were blocking the roadway as we cleaned, but thankfully we didn’t get in the way (that we know of)! We’ve also taken the opportunity, whilst the sun was out, to clean the carpet – we have a carpet cleaner at the house, not a hands and knees scrubbing exercise!

We can definitely tell we’re heading into the depths of winter, the sun is rising later and setting earlier, the temperature has begun to drop and rain seems to be an almost daily occurrence. This time last year we were preparing to head to Spain for Christmas and saying our goodbyes to our families. At the beginning of this year, it seemed the ideal place to arrange to go back to, little did we know what 2020 had in store for us (all)!

We’ve got a fairly busy week again next week, whilst we prepare to set off on our mini tour. We’ll let you know what we’ve done in our next post… As always thank you for reading. Stay safe and well, wherever you might be.

Lockdown 2 continues – Days 5 to 17

One of the rainbows this week..

Hello! We’re still here! Some of our neighbours have told us they like us here as it adds another level of security, while we continue to annoy some! We’re just trying to sit out this second Lockdown safely and uneventfully.

We’ve not managed to do a lot this time around. This Lockdown has been a bit harder to get used to and our plans not been as easy to get into. Maybe just because we knew it was a set timescale (fingers crossed) and there is a date to head to or maybe just because the weather has changed the nights seem longer and the time to get things done, therefore shorter. We’re endeavouring to take more photos to add to our posts, but the weather hasn’t been too great recently.

We started to clean Nortia’s roof but were rained off. We’re hoping for at least one more dry-ish day to sort the roof and complete the clean of the carpets and upholstery, before we leave. I (Sarah) managed to have a socially-distances dog walk with my mum. It seemed like so long since we were last able to see each other (July) and even longer since we were able to hug.

We’ve been trying to teach Reg to walk nicely on the lead, but have discovered his new training lead has grazed his chest, so we’re back to his old harness, until it heals. He is great in himself and it doesn’t seem to upset him but… We’re trying to teach him recall too…

Reg and his looky-likey on a card!

We’ve started to think about where we’ll be for Christmas and New Year. Our plan to return to Spain has been postponed until next year, not just due to COVID-19 but also Brexit, we are still trying to find out what arrangements we need for Reg next year. We’ll probably get his Rabies vaccination completed, before we head off after Lockdown 2 and stay in the UK for the time being!! However, that’s not a bad thing as there are so many places we want to visit here.

As always, thank you for reading, hope you and your families are safe and well. We’ll be back soon to let you know what our plans are post-lockdown and where we’re heading, if we’ve decided or know ourselves!

Finishing our stay in Kent, and into Lockdown Part 2…

Our last campsite for a while…

We stayed at our preplanned stop at the Caravan and Motorhome (CMC) Certified Location (CL), Manor Farm, Halling (near Dorchester), Kent, for a further two nights. There are great walks from the site to the village and the River Medway. The campsite itself is on a slightly sloping field (chocks are advised), but due to the weather and our weight, we were allowed to stop on the hardstanding. There are plenty of electric hook-up points, so you’re not short of space or on top of others.

Due to Boris (Johnson)’s announcement the previous Saturday, we cancelled our next two stops, as advised by the CMC, had my haircut rescheduled, arranged for flu jabs with our Doctors and headed back to the parking spot we had left (after Lockdown Part 1). outside our flat. Lockdown Part 2, felt a little more of a disappointment than the first one, but we’re sure we can manage 30 nights here.

We are fortunate to have some great (understanding) neighbours, who although would probably rather we weren’t here, were glad to see us return. Of course, not all are so pleased…

Walking Reg around the town in the run up to Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day, we spotted crocheted poppies on the Memorial Garden fences, giving a feel that people were still carrying on as normal. However, the feel of the town was slightly surreal – normally it is full of shoppers and shops encouraging you to spend for Christmas. The decorations start to get put up and Santa’s arrival is imminent, but the town is relatively quiet, decorations are few and far between and there is no mention of Santa… It may just be that it is too early in Lockdown at the moment. We will continue to monitor on our daily walks!

We have survived the first four days of Lockdown without any real events. Thank you for reading, we’ll try and keep you up to date with how we get on with our lives this time round. We’ve realised we’ve not been too motivated to take too many pictures of our stop, so will endeavour to try and make our posts more pictorial! Please stay safe and well. #handsfacespace

Norfolk and Suffolk, continuing our trip around the East Coast, another Lockdown announcement and we buy Nortia…

Reg in camouflage

Monday again, and we’re heading off again, this time slightly inland to Haddiscoe and a Caravan and Motorhome Club Certified Location site – Oakside. It was a great site, with a couple of farm shops nearby – within walking distance and the town of Beccles, on the edge of the Norfolk Broads. The site is relatively new but offers a great grass field and hardstanding along with The Cabin, available for Campers, with a small kitchen, Barbecue area, seats and a bathroom, with shower. Perfect! We stayed for three nights and although one of the days was a complete wash-out we enjoyed the stay. For reference, there are also two holiday cottages here as well!

Moving on we went to Kessingland on the Suffolk Coast, just below Lowestoft. The Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, White House Beach, is right on the beach – there are two parts of the site, separated by the beach road, one right on the beach and the other just behind. We were a little disappointed not to be able to stop on the beach (the views are amazing – next stop Amsterdam), but as the wind picked up overnight we were quite grateful!

We walked along the beach to the Nature Reserve, allowing Reg to run around freely, before returning to the campsite. The morning sunrises were amazing as was the Fish and Chip lunch from the Beach Fish and Chip Shop – within walking distance and also has a Restaurant.

Returning to the Motorhome, the rain started, just to dampen our mood, luckily we got back with the fish and chips just before! Today is the day BoJo (Boris Johnson) will announce whether we are to go into Lockdown 2 or not. The Press Conference was due to start at 4:00pm, then 5:00pm and finally Boris appeared about 6:15pm, confirming what was expected – Thursday 5th November, we would be back in Lockdown.

We were due to head off on Sunday anyway, as the Campsite was closing for the winter, but before we left, we had a few important tasks to complete. We have bought Nortia, our home for the last 16 months, is now ours. We transferred the vehicle into our name, organised the insurance and tax and were able to head off. Our first trip in our own Motorhome, just as the country has to lockdown!

We headed south to Kent and the CL site of Manor Farm, in Halling, near Rochester. It’s a nice site, just off the M2, and close to the River Medway. You are greeted by the free-range geese, ducks and chickens and a very hospitable owner. The grass field would need levelling chocks, but as it was wet, we were able to stop on the hardstanding – there is not a shortage of Electric points so you can stop where you like, within reason.

Next week will be a strange one, what we get up to and where we go, we’ll let you know. As always, thank you for reading. Stay Safe and Well, we’ll be back soon….

Another Week in Norfolk…

A wet and windswept sandy dog!

Monday and the sun was shining. After a quick breakfast and walk for Reg, we headed out towards Norwich and a Hand Car Wash! Finally, we were able to get Nortia cleaned (outside) for the first time since France in February! We had meant to clean her while in lockdown, but there always seemed to be another day available until we left, then the opportunity hadn’t happened since….

Tuesday and we headed up to the coast and Cromer, famous for dressed crab and the Seacroft Caravan and Motorhome Club Site. It’s a great site, just off the Norfolk coast path. A short stroll and you are on the beach, which is lovely and sandy as the tide goes out. We met a couple with a young dog and Reg and Pippa were soon running around in circles along the shoreline.

Wednesday and in true autumn fashion it rained (again). Reg however, wasn’t unfazed by another trip on the beach and enjoyed playing in the waves.

Thursday, one of the things we’d looked forward to whilst in Cromer was visiting No 1 Cromer. https://www.no1cromer.com/ This is an award winning Fish and Chip Restaurant and Takeaway owned by Galton Blackiston. We’d heard about it so many times watching him on James Martin’s Saturday Morning. This place does not disappoint! This was possibly the best we’d ever had. If you are in Cromer, we would recommend this highly.

We headed down the coast from Cromer to Great Yarmouth and the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site at the Racecourse. This site is another so close to the beach and the town, that it’s great for a stay. There is a monument to Lord Nelson, which is now located in the industrial zone, but commemorates Nelson’s birth in the county of Norfolk.

As always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are safe and well. We’ll have more to share soon. Stay Safe and well…