Week 14: #oneyearlate – Out to Kintyre, a couple of glitches and south to the border…

Leaving Oban we headed south along the A816 towards Lochgilphead, until just outside Kilmartin, there was a serious road accident, which had shut the road, so we headed back to Oban and along A85 and A83 instead. Arriving at the Lochgilphead, we headed up along the Crinan Canal to the sea lock, where we’d seen a motorhome stopover, but on first inspection of the road to the car park, we were put off by a sharp, steep right hand turn and headed back along the canal to a lovely stop near Dundardry Locks. We were parked alongside one other motorhome, but at the next lock down, there were six. Another lovely off-grid stop, with a towpath to walk along up to the sea lock or down towards Lochgilphead.

Leaving the Crinan Canal, we headed onto Kintyre, filling up with LPG at the garage on the way past. On Kintyre there is an Antony Gormley Statue, called GRIP. It was made to be located at Saddell Bay, we travelled around looking for the statue, but a lack of phone signal and internet, meant we missed it, we will be back to find it…. (maybe)! Stopping for lunch overlooking the Isle of Arran, we headed down to Campbelltown and onto our prebooked overnight stop.

Following the directions to the campsite, we had to guess at a couple of road junctions, and then as we headed down a single track road (with passing places) we pulled over to allow a high speeded LPG Lorry, but misjudged a hidden fence post. LPG truck & Fence 1: Nortia 0. We eventually arrived at the CL, it was little more than a high hedged circle of land, which we just made our way around, before catching the underside of the gas locker on a hidden boulder. Kintyre seems to have it out for us, so we decided to leave and stayed instead at the wonderful Lochgilphead Caravan Park. https://www.lochgilpheadcaravanpark.com/ Despite having not booked, they assured us that they have a spillover place, as they know that stopover places are sought after. To make us feel slightly better we found a local curry house, the Raj Tandoori (not quite as good as our favourite but definitely good enough to make you feel better!). TOTAL SCORE: Kintyre 3: Nortia 0

Putting our previous day’s mishaps behind us, we headed back to the central belt, passing up over the mountains, through the aptly named Rest and be Thankful on the A83 (apparently so named by the soldiers who built the old Military Road and engraved into a stone there), before stopping for lunch at Luss. Luss has changed in the 10 or so years since we were last here and is now quite touristy. We carried on our journey, and onto the Motorway and into the city of Glasgow. We’ve been in Scotland for seven weeks and since we left Edinburgh six weeks ago, hadn’t been to either a city of motorway! Our stop for the night was the Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Site – Strathclyde Country Park https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/scotland/glasgow/strathclyde-country-park-caravan-club-site/. It was a lovely open club site, right next door to the Country Club and the Loch. A complete loop of the Loch from the Club Site is approximately 4.5 miles – we did walk it the following morning, and found the Roman Bath ruins, the Rowing Centre and one of the memorials to the Piper Alpha Disaster. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piper_Alpha

Continuing our journey south, we left Strathclyde and headed to Dumfries and wonderful CMC Certified Location (CL) Hemplands Farm https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/scotland/dumfries–galloway/dumfries/hemplands-farm/ Run wonderfully by John and Nessie on their sheep farm, with views over the countryside, we were upset that we hadn’t booked longer – we WILL be back…!

Today, after seven weeks and one day, we crossed back over the border to England and into Northumberland. Stopping at Carlisle for some groceries, we found our first fuel queue (we didn’t need any so we didn’t join it!) #panicbuying Turning left, we followed Hadrian’s Wall into Haltwhistle. Haltwhistle is the middle point of Britain (according to their village sign) and on to our overnight stay at Hexham Racecourse https://hexham-racecourse.co.uk/page/holiday-park/caravan-camping-site, Britain’s most scenic, and the views were amazing!

Our next stop is another CL, Donnewell Farm https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/county-durham/sedgefield/donnewell-farm/ Located just outside the village of Sedgefield – Tony Blair’s constituency and where he took George W. Bush ( in 2003 to the Dun Cow Inn! We walked into the village and followed the Heritage Trail, found out about the pickled Parson and his ghost and discovered that Sedgefield has one of the Shrove Tuesday Ball Games.

We’re continuing our journey south and will be back to let you know our tales (hopefully not as woeful as this week)! As always, thank you for reading, We hope you and your families continue to be healthy and well. Stay Safe…

Week 7: #oneyearlate – Scotland beckons.

Finally Over the Border #oneyearlate

Apologies for the lateness of this update… we’ve been off-grid, not quite in the wilds, but without electricity and the laptop. Although we can update on the tablet, we can’t add in photos, so thought it best to wait…

Leaving the North York Moors, we headed further north to Northumberland and the Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Site at Nunnykirk. Right in the middle of the countryside, but with a couple of towns nearby, but with plenty of footpaths to take advantage of. We stopped for two nights while heading up to the Scottish Border. https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/north-east-england/northumberland/nunnykirk-caravan-club-site/?utm_source=localsearch&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=gmb

Leaving Nunnykirk, we headed up to Berwick-on-Tweed, passing Craigside, which we visited in 2019. Having stopped for something to eat. we crossed the border – Reg’s first time in Scotland and country number three for him! We arrived in North Berwick and the Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Site of Yellowcraig.

Yellowcraig CMC site is close to the beach and woodlands. The John Muir Way passes the site and you can follow it to the pretty town of Dirleton, with it’s castle ruins or back to North Berwick. THe beach is a lovely sandy beach and Reg loved playing in the gentle waves. The lighthouse here, on the Island of Fidra, in the bay was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s book, Treasure Island. After two nights here, we headed slightly inland to the town of Bonnybridge and a CMC Certified Location (CL) Underwood Caravan Park. We later found out that our friends, Sheila and John, who we’d met in Spain had arrived the night before we left…if only we’d known; to be fair the campsite is quite large and in separate areas.

Underwood Caravan Park, is located on the Forth and Clyde Canal, and was only opened in April this year. The site is a lovely well laid-out site, right on the canal path (and about ten minutes from the Motorway). We headed to the Falkirk Wheel on our way there and had a wander around, but you can cycle along the canal to both the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies, with this in mind, we will be back… https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/scotland/stirlingshire/Stirling/underwood-caravan-park/

Our next destination was the Buffalo Farm, Kirkcaldy https://www.thebuffalofarm.co.uk/. We have wanted to visit this since hearing about the Farm on the BBC’s This Farming Life and had never quite been in the right place. Heading over the Forth Bridge (we did aim for it, but it is now closed to general vehicles) so had to head over the new Queensferry Bridge instead. In true Scottish tradition, it started to rain, but arriving at the Buffalo Farm, the sun came out and we were able to enjoy some lunch, al fresco!

Our next stop is the CMC Site at Balbirnie Park. Balbirnie Park Site, is located in the country park of the same name, with a golf course, walled gardens and footpaths. It is also close to the town of Markinch, which is located on the Fife Pilgrim Way. This trail runs from Culross to St. Andrews. St Andrews was one of the main pilgrimage destinations in Medieval Europe. People travelled to be near the bones of St Andrew, one of Jesus’ disciples. This was considered to be the next best thing to being in the Holy Land and walking in the footsteps of Jesus himself. St Andrews joined ranks in terms of importance with the popular disciple destinations of Rome (St Peter) and Santiago de Compostela (St James the Great).https://fifecoastandcountrysidetrust.co.uk/walks/fife-pilgrim-way/

We’re heading further north now along the east coast… Thank you for reading and hopefully you’re enjoying our trip. We hope you and your families are safe and well, we’ll be back soon ;)…

Week 6: #oneyearlate – Heading North – Derbyshire, West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire Moors.

Summer in the Peak District!

Heading north towards Scotland, this week we chose to stop in the Peak District, at a Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Certified Location (CL) New Mills Marina, on the Peak Forest Canal. There are a lot more canals than we had heard of! This one, was built to transport Derbyshire Limestone to Manchester. The site at New Mills Marina, is a lovely location, on the edge of the town with access to the towpath, the Millenium Walkway, and through the Torrs Riverside Park. We walked along the towpath to Furnace Vale Marina (and back). Opposite the site is the Swizzels Factory and the smell of sweets lingers in the air! If you are going to go to this site, and you get the opportunity, book pitch 5, it’s got the best views and a bit of grass. We had to settle for Pitch 4! https://newmillsmarina.com/caravan-park/

Heading further north, we chose to to cross the Peak District on the scenic Woodhead Pass, but just as we got there, the weather changed and we were surrounded by cloud and mizzle. Heading into West Yorkshire and the Minster Town of Dewsbury. On arrival, the town looked scenic and picturesque. We found our CL at Savile Town Wharf, just outside the main town, behind the old industrial part of the town. Located on the Calder and Hebble Navigation, and part of the Marina, with easy access to the towpaths, cycle routes and footpaths. This we’re afraid to say is about as good as it gets. We were glad we’d only booked two nights, the town is unappealing, despite the architecture and promise. Apologies if we’ve offended anyone but this is our view.

After our stay at Savile Wharf Marina, we headed up into the North Yorkshire Moors and the CMC Club Site, the Howard, Rosedale Abbey. Just outside the pretty Market town of Pickering (be aware, Monday is Market Day and the town can be very busy). Rosedale Abbey is a small village with a couple of pubs, a village store and two campsites, but views to die for. There is no phone network coverage or WiFi, here! We arrived following Ditsy Daisy and over the Rosedale Chimney Route, a picturesque route over the moors, but with a 1:3 descent into the village, not for the faint-hearted (our hill assist, decided to send us warnings and the clutch and brakes were definitely glad of a rest on arrival. There are a lot of walks in this area, and although we tried a couple, there were many more…

We’re still heading north and the border is getting closer. As always thank you for reading, we continue to hope you and your families are safe and well. We’ll be back with another update soon…

Weeks 4 and 5: #oneyearlate: Warwickshire, West Midlands, Shropshire and Staffordshire

Being watched – taking photos of the moon. Reg on patrol.

Another day, another racecourse. This one though, is at Stratford-upon-Avon and the birthplace of William Shakespeare. After Warwick we headed back on ourselves to Stratford-upon-Avon (the campsite was full when we had wanted to visit, as it was Race Day!) The Racecourse Campsite, is a short walk away from the centre of town but easily accessed across the course and along a Green Lane, via the River Severn. We had a leisurely stroll into the town and despite the heat and the number of visitors was a pleasant place to be. We walked up to Shakespeare’s Birthplace and back, through the historic streets. Also, close to the Racecourse was Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, so a morning dog walk took us up there too. There is a lot to see and do and we have already planned to return.

Next, our trip took us up to Solihull and the lovely Caravan and Motorhome Club (CAMC) Certified Location (CL) of Blythe Waters. Mainly a set of fishing lakes, there are also five Motorhome / Caravan pitches set in the grounds. Fishing is available with day tickets to be purchased on the day. The fish however weren’t playing ball, as spawning and the weather wasn’t really favourable (it was very hot and the temperature was rising each day). Instead, we walked and cycled along the Grand Union Canal (care does need to be taken, though as in places the towpath is not very wide and speaking to a local, we learnt he had been in the canal a couple of times!) There are also a number of footpaths which pick up with the towpath and make a great circular dog walk. The town of Knowle is about a mile away and can be walked or cycled if you don’t want to take the motorhome out!

Leaving Blythe Waters, we headed north to Blackstone Meadow Holiday Park, Bewdley. Ric had been to Bewdley fishing on several occasions years ago, so while being in this neck of the woods, we thought it rude not to! On arrival at Blackstone Meadow, we were greeted by a herd of Alpacas, feeding in the middle of the campsite (as you do). Reg was a bit unsure, but we’re not sure he’s seen too many in his short life. He did calm down after a while though. The town is a short distance away and can be cycled along the Cycle Route, or walked along the River Severn banks. Bewdley is the birthplace of Sir Stanley Baldwin, one of the British Prime Ministers in the 1920’s and 30’s.

From Bewdley, we headed into Shropshire and the village of Highley, where we were staying at another CAMC CL, Little Netherton. It’s a lovely site, a short walk from the village with great views, but please use caution if you have a long rear overhang 😉 as the driveway is a little steep. We parked up in a neighbours driveway and were guided in by the Owner’s son and out by the owner, John. Unfortunately, we had to leave a little early as we had a poorly Reg.

A couple of days before, as the weather heated up, Reg began to be a little lethargic (well, we all were), but then he had a cut in his mouth, so we contacted a vet and were able to get him an appointment, but it was near our next site, which we were able to check in to early. In true dog fashion, as the weather cooled slightly, we noticed Reg started to perk up, but… it’s better to be safe. We arrived at the Vet in Alsager, Cheshire and he was seen by a lovely lady, who couldn’t see too much wrong. Probably a combination of heat and the stick he likes to chew up. We were advised to keep him on soft food for a couple of days and come back if he didn’t improve. We’re glad to say he’s made a full recovery and is back to being the cheeky pupster!

On the bright side, the reason we had booked the site – another CAMC CL, at Halmer End, Stoke on Trent – The Lodge, was it’s location to an Indian Restaurant, called Latif’s. Latif has a YouTube vlog and Ric follows his recipes online. The Restaurant also does take-away and is located a stones throw from the Vet! The CL is located alongside a bigger campsite, with its own fishing lake, free to fish with your booking. Nearby is Bateswood Nature Reserve and a memorial to the Minnie Pit Disaster, which occurred in 1915, killing 155 men and boys and 1 rescuer. In addition, it is about ten minutes from the M6, so an ideal stopover north or south.

We’re continuing our journey north, tomorrow, with our #oneyear late tour about to begin. Taking our time, has allowed us to head up to Scotland and check the Coronavirus restrictions lifting in each country as we go. We know we’re safe travelling in our motorhome – we don’t mingle too much with people, especially not indoors! But, that’s not really motorhome life anymore in these uncertain times. We can sit outdoors and enjoy the views, and with an extra jumper (or two) we can socialise!

Thank you as always for reading. We continue to hope you and your families are safe and well. We’ll be back soon with more news on our trip to Scotland…

Week 3: #oneyearlate – Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire

Reg at the Saltworkers’ Statue, Droitwich Spa

We’re just catching up on our posts, since leaving Sussex, our WiFi connection has been very slow, so you may be bombarded with updates! We’ve been heading north in a roundabout way through the Cotswolds.

Our first stop of the week was a Caravan and Motorhome Club (CAMC) Certified Location (CL) just outside the village of Newent, Gloucestershire. It’s run by a lovely lady called Michelle and the site has some amazing views. It is close to the Newent Loop cycle route and had the weather been a little better, we would have been out for a ride. There are a lot of footpaths around and we were able to find a new one each day. This is one we’ll come back to.

After Porch House, we headed back to Tewkesbury Abbey CAMC Site, just to recharge and catch up on the laundry! It is such a lovely site that we were happy to return here. We also knew we could get a good curry here – if you’ve followed us for a while you know we like a curry! This site is centrally located in the town and with yet more walks to find but having just under 24 hours here, we knew what we needed to do!

Next, we headed up to Droitwich Spa Marina CAMC CL Site. It’s a little bit behind the Marina, but each time you leave the site, you have a great view of the canal marina and the Droitwich Junction Canal. Droitwich Spa is a place we had never been to before and it seemed to cause some confusion amongst people we mentioned it to as to wear it is exactly, apologies to all locals. Droitwich Spa is located at a junction of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal and there is a towpath you can cycle along to Worcester. We walked along the Droitwich Junction Canal into the town itself and discovered that the town is built on the brine springs and there has been a history of salt extraction since Roman times, when the town was known as Salinae. The shop fronts in the High Street also appear very wonky!

After Droitwich Spa,we headed west to Warwick and the CAMC site at Warwick Racecourse. The Racecourse is on the edge of the town and the Grand Union Canal and we headed off on a walk up to the Stairway to Heaven – Hatton Locks, a flight of 21 locks carrying the canal two miles up a rise of 45 metres (148 feet). Having a walk around the town revealed a couple of Victorian post boxes and loads of historical buildings.

We’ve been enjoying our journey, through the places we normally just see on signposts in a desperate attempt to get to our holiday locations. The weather has been particularly nice (except for a drenching we got in Newent)! It seems like summer is on its way.

We hope you and your families are safe and well, we’ll be back with more updates soon. As always, thank you for reading, it means a lot to us.

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: 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: 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…

Hayling Island, Homeward Bound…

Spending Monday at our little Certified Site Location at Stoke Farm, Hayling Island, we waited for the sun to appear (after a lovely rainbow) and headed back along the Hayling Billy Coastal Path, northwards towards the mainland, stopping at the bridge.

Tuesday and a short trip to Barnham, and another Certified Location, Choller Farm and Fisheries. It’s located near to a bridleway and cyclepath, down to the town and up towards the South Downs National Park. It’s almost geographically the centre of three areas, Bognor Regis, Chichester and Arundel. We had a stroll up the road to the village of Walberton and down to the town of Barnham. Barnham has a mainline train station and is a junction. From here, you can head to Littlehampton, Brighton, Portsmouth, London and beyond!

En-route, we popped into Chichester Marina, half hoping to catch-up with my (Sarah’s) mum, as her boat was out of the water having its annual maintenance (slightly later than normal due to the initial national lockdown 1), but in true unplanned style, she wasn’t there!

After a couple of days here, we headed north and on to the familiar Gatwick Site. Areas around us have had their Coronavirus Alert Levels increased to Tier 3 and we knew we couldn’t head there. In addition, Hayling Island is now Tier 3, along with Portsmouth. We’ve changed our New Year plans too, as London where we were heading is also Tier 3.

We like the Gatwick Site as it’s close to family and friends, but the rules are no mixing at this time of Coronavirus. We had a few things to do while we were here, but these changed slightly on Saturday as two things happened!

Firstly, my (Sarah’s) mum fell out distributing Christmas cards at her home and fractured her wrist. I am the only person who can drive her car, currently parked in a public car park. We packed up, as quick as we could, and headed to collect her. A call to 111 and an appointment at the Urgent Care Centre nearby, involving another drive. Ric returned to the campsite with Reg and I headed off to Chichester. A few hours later and a cast wearing mum returned to the car.

Secondly, Boris and the UK government have changed the Coronavirus Tiers and Christmas arrangements. Surrey, which is approximately two miles north of us, is now Tier 4 – the highest level and a brand new tier, similar to the last complete England Lockdown. No travel or staying overnight, so glad we’re in the right place. Christmas is now a one day celebration only. We haven’t yet arranged what we’re going to do, but I’m sure you’ll find out soon!

As always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are safe and well, whichever Tier you are now in. This will pass and we will get back to normal…