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…

The Lake District, Britain’s Highest Pub (Yorkshire) and south to Leek.

We chose to cycle to Maryport along Hadrian’s Cycle Route, National Cycle Route 72. From the campsite it is almost all off the road on a cycle path and the promenade (there are signs warning not to use the promenade in bad weather – it is so exposed to the sea). Luckily, it wasn’t on the road as in a catastrophic failure, I managed to cycle into the trailer when Ric stopped, landing face down in the grass – it could have been so much worse, though! We do have hand signals warning that we are stopping or slowing, but thinking he’d dropped something he stopped dead!

From Allonby, we headed into the Yorkshire Dales, via Carlisle. We were due to stop the night at the Tan Hill Inn, outside Reeth. It is the highest pub in the British Isles at 1732 feet (528m) above sea level. We had pre-booked and booked a meal in the pub – our first real night out since Sweden! The views are amazing, it is right on the Pennine Way and the footpath leads right down to the village of Keld. We walked up to the top of the path before returning back to Nortia! It was freezing and wet underfoot, but the views were stunning. Motorhome parking at the Tan Hill Inn, is unmarked, so literally, where you can! It was somewhere we’d wanted to stay, but wasn’t the place we’d thought it was!!!

We set off back through the Yorkshire Dales to Kendal, back in the Lake District. Our trip back took us up towards Skipton and back down to Kirkby Lonsdale, the scenery is amazing and we love this part of the world. The campsite in Kendal is about four miles outside the town, although it is possible to walk it, we walked to the Farm Shop at Sizergh, instead!

We set off again, heading south. Our plan was always to move south at this point, but it also coincided with the threat of a new COVID lockdown being placed on the North West. An announcement was due tomorrow.

We arrived at Leek in Staffordshire, a site we have stayed at before, but I didn’t recognise either by name or location, but Ric did – I was adamant we’d never been here before, until the Warden checking us in recognised me! Then the penny dropped! We stayed here in March, on our way to Harrogate. We had arrived in the dark and without a dog to walk around the site, we hadn’t really taken it in. I’ve had a nightmare of a week, hopefully next week will be better!

As always, thank you for reading. Stay Safe. We’ll be back soon…

The Lake District – Coniston, Borrowdale and Allonby.

We’re still in Coniston, near to Coniston Water – the lake where Sir Malcolm Campbell set the World Water Speed Record in 1939, at 141.74 miles per hour, in his Blue Bird K4. His son, Donald, continued the tradition, setting four faster speeds between 1956 and 1959. In 1966, he wanted to exceed 300 mph, but unfortunately, was killed in the process. Incidentally, the lake in our local Park, is named after the Campbell family, who owned some land and tested the floatation devices for the Bluebird K series prototypes.

After a day of rain, where we followed the path along the lake to Torver Jetty and back, we spent a sunny day up on the fells above Coniston (the foothills of the Old Man of Coniston). This was Reg’s first adventure up in the hills. There were plenty of sheep to keep him occupied too. As we headed back towards the campsite, we found an amazing waterfall and lake.

After, Coniston, we headed north-west to the Borrowdale Valley, just outside Keswick. Although, we’ve stayed at the Camping and Caravanning Club Site in Keswick, we’ve never been here before and it was a gem. The Caravan Club Site in Borrowdale, despite having no facilities, is right on the edge of Derwent Water and under Cat Bells. We had hoped to walk up Cat Bells, but the weather had other ideas – we almost managed it once before, but the weather forced us back then, hopefully we’ll be third time lucky! Instead, we walked along the edge of the lake and around to Grange – in – Borrowdale and back to the campsite. We had a cheeky Saturday Walk for breakfast at the Grange Cafe. It was amazing and despite the weather, we were able to sit outside socially distanced.

Reg is definitely a water dog! He loves to chase the waves or ripples, as we found in a stream by the campsite! He’d jump in and try to catch the water as it rippled down over the stones, all fun, but add his wetness to the mud in the field and we had to wash him down before he could come back in the Motorhome!

Leaving Borrowdale, we headed north to the coast at Maryport and up to a Certified Location at Allonby. Old Kiln Farm CL Site https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/cumbria/maryport/old-kiln-farm/ is a small five pitch site, just off the Solway Firth, with views across the sea to Scotland. It is a short walk to the village or a cycle ride to Maryport and Workington.

Reg again showed us his love of the beach, running circles on the sand and attacking the waves, trying to bite the surf!

We’re here for a few more days, so there’ll be more to come. Thank you again for reading. We hope you and your families are well. Stay Safe, we’ll be back soon….

Heading back to England (again)…

What do you call a trio of Etruscos?

We left Gowerton and headed back to England along the motorway, so far this is the third time on this trip we’ve headed back, across the border! We had an appointment for the motorhome in Gloucester on Tuesday, so we’ve opted to return to Tewkesbury Caravan and Motorhome Club Site.

We’ve fallen in love with Tewkesbury and the town is very welcoming. Monday night, Ric’s birthday and we knew there was a very nice looking Indian Restaurant and Take-Away at the end of the lane to the Campsite. This was his choice of meal and I couldn’t have agreed more. The Mezbaan Fine Indian Restaurant: https://mezbaan.uk/ was just as good as their menu looked!

Tuesday and we cleared out some of our gear from Nortia, and headed off to Pearman Briggs Motorhomes for our habitation check. This is supposed to be completed annually as a safety and damp check and something we are keen to have completed prior to purchasing Nortia, from Erwin Hymer. We arrived and also explained that we have concerns over the position of our Gaslow filling cap – we have caught it on a couple of occasions, without serious damage – and they were able to move it for us to a less prominent position. However, with the latest COVID-19 restrictions, our gear needs to be completely removed to carry out the habitation check… We’ve re-booked it, and will be back in Tewkesbury, again!

The weather has got a lot warmer this week and we have decided to purchase a driveaway awning, partially to enjoy life out of the wind and partially in anticipation of our habitation check – we can dump all our gear in it whilst the check is being carried out! We went to Allwoolls Camping in Worcester and purchased a Vango Noosa Driveaway https://www.attwoolls.co.uk/vango-noosa-tall-driveaway-awning-p-2828 We’ve chosen this as it is lighter than an air tent and therefore will not add to much to our payload. Returning to the campsite, we had a quick go at putting it up! We needed to make sure that we had all the bits before driving off and to ensure there was nothing wrong with it! The moment we got it out of the bag the wind picked up and we managed to check it out, before repacking it and stowing it away! Normally, we would pitch a new tent in our garden to ensure we knew what we are doing, before looking like numpties in public! (We have even pitched a brand new tent in the living room, just to check it out)!

We left Tewkesbury and started our trip north. Our next stop is a small Caravan and Motorhome Club Certified Location (CL), just outside the village of Much Wenlock – birthplace of William Penny Brookes, who contributed to the rebirth of the Modern Olympic Games. He apprenticed with his father in Much Wenlock and trained as a physician and surgeon at Guy’s and St. Thomas’s Hospital in London, at the Sorbonne and in Padua, before taking over his father’s practice in Much Wenlock. Here, he was keen to improve the health of the villagers, along with sanitation and hygiene and he set up the Wenlock Olympian Society and campaigned to get Physical Education onto the school curriculum. His annual Wenlock Games, encouraged all villagers to keep fit and compete and not just a privilege of the elite He was visited by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who later set up the Modern International Olympic Committee, based on the Much Wenlock Games held in his honour.

We stayed at the Coates CL for the weekend, and we used it as a base to travel out and about around the local area, travelling to Telford and Ironbridge. The countryside and views are stunning, as is the village of Much Wenlock. Reg also had a field of friends, for his stay!

We’re off again tomorrow, heading north. Thank you as always for reading and we hope that you and your families are safe and well.

The Adventure Continues: Wales, England and back to Wales

Reg meets a cat in Tewkesbury!

We left Newport and headed back across the border to England and the historic market town of Tewkesbury. Neither of us had been here before and the initial sight of the town, with it’s historic battlefield statues, Victor and Vanquished – The Arrivall, commemorating the War of the Roses and the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4th May 1471, on the roundabout as we approached, along with the colourful pennants outside houses and the historic Abbey.

We had a walk around the town and onto the Ham before returning to the campsite and finding a local Indian takeaway in the process (if you’ve read our previous posts, you’ll know we love a curry, or chinese or pizza…..!)

We went for a longer walk the following day over the Ham again and up to the Marina, returning to the campsite via the Abbey. The weather was a little doubtful first thing but slowly the sun came out and the walk was very warm. We returned and carried out a few chores, before planning our onward journey.

We were all packed up the following morning, and Reg walked, just as the rain started and it continued for our whole journey back to Wales. We headed to our stop in Brecon, via Monmouth, where we had planned to stop and have lunch. The traffic and weather gods were against us – Monmouth had road closures and diversions, trying to negotiate the one-way system in Nortia, took away any enjoyment and we carried on to Brecon.

The rain was relentless, full wet weather gear donned and we checked in and sorted out our pitch. Of course the moment we’d finished the rain stopped and we were able to see a bit more of the countryside surrounding us.

On Friday, we walked along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal – the same canal we’d cycled along in Newport! Here though, the canal is navigable and there were holiday boats on the canal, along with paddle boarders and canoeists.

On Saturday, we went for a drive over the Black Mountains, we have been over them before but the scenery is fantastic and well worth a trip.

On Sunday, we headed off again, this time to one of our most favourite places, the city of St David’s in Pembrokeshire. St David’s is the smallest city in the UK (both area and population). We’re looking forward to our week here, so you’ll hear more about our trip in the next blog.

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

The Adventure Continues: Dorset, Somerset and Wales.

Leaving Dartmoor, we headed east and into the most torrential rain we’ve seen for ages. We stopped to stock up as we’d found a little CL (Certified Location) site to stop at in Middlemarsh (just outside Sherbourne), Dorset https://www.cherrycottagecl.com/ The Caravan and Motorhome Club Certified Locations are small independently run campsites with 5 pitches.

The following day the rain stopped and the sun arrived. We went for a walk in the countryside, getting lost once and resulting in a climb over an eight foot high gate! Luckily, there was a wee gap at the side and Reg was able to be sent through – we did try it but it wasn’t wide enough for us!!

Then, more rain – all day on Wednesday. Even walking the dog around the dog field resulted in a soaking, each time we tried to go out in the dry, halfway around the field, the heavens would open! We spent the day catching up on the blog and just chilling. This is one site we are definitely coming back to so there will be plenty of time to explore.

Moving on, we headed north to Minehead, we were here a few weeks ago and knew we liked it, but it was a stopover and an ideal place to catch up with some of the family. We caught up with the washing, did a quick top up of LPG and had a Chinese Takeaway from the local parade.

After a night we were heading off again, it’s getting close to the Bank Holiday and places are getting booked up, we were heading off to Newport, Wales. We’d checked with Ditsy Daisy and Gloria Google Maps, and on the motorway it would take us 58 mins from Bridgwater. We’d arranged to meet some of the family at a lovely cafe, just off the M5, Pyne’s of Somerset https://www.pynethebutcher.co.uk/ it’s so much better than a usual motorway cafe, and worth the drive.

As we set off to the M5, we were stuck in traffic, this queue continued all the way to Newport and two and a half hours or so later, we arrived at Tredegar House. We have stayed here before, but many years ago, in the Campervan. The house was closed (again – it was the last time we were here too), but the gardens are open and an ideal place to walk Reg.

On Saturday, the rain returned, so we had a tour in Nortia. We drove to the Fourteen Locks, but despite having checked the website and finding it had parking for coaches, there was nothing suitable on arrival. We headed off up to Caerphilly, in search of cheese. Despite a good walk around there was no cheese shop to be found, but we did find a statue to Tommy Cooper, who was born in the town. Next, we headed into Cardiff, and the National War Memorial and the Norwegian Church, before heading back to the campsite.

On Sunday, the weather brightened up and we took the bikes out for a trip, along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal aiming to get to the Canal Basin at Pontymoel, along National Cycle Route 4. After 10 miles of derelict and overgrown canal, we decided to head back and a wrong turn later, we arrived at the campsite having completed 26 miles!

Reg has now crossed his first country border. He has a few to go before catching up with Albi, but Albi hadn’t crossed a country border at this age!

We’re heading off again, tomorrow. Thank you again for reading this. We hope you and your families are safe and well.

The Adventure Continues: Week 4 – Dorset to Devon

On the Prom – Paignton

The COVID-19 pandemic is still prevalent and some of the sights we would ordinarily like to do and see are off our list. We are so grateful to be able to be out and about and trying to enjoy our little adventure. We have started spending longer in places and trying to use and see the local resources, walking or cycling, where we can. We are able to travel around and take in the places we’re visiting, rather than our usual rush to a place.

We left Bridport and after a trip for groceries, we set off to Putts Corner, a little village between Honiton and Sidmouth. The countryside and views were amazing.

We arrived at the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, at Putts Corner. A little gem of a campsite with a great dog walk – which also goes to the pub! We took a stroll into the village, its at the bottom of a steep hill, but a typical Devonshire village. The steep walk back was worth it.

We left Putts Corner and headed to Stoke Gabriel, just outside Paignton. We found a lovely grassy spot, completed a few chores and sat out in the sun. The following morning we headed off on the bikes to Paignton Beach, about 5 miles away, down some amazingly tight country roads. On the way, we stopped off at Pets at Home, as Reg has outgrown his puppy collar (sob) – he’s definately growing up!

The beach at Paignton was busy and although most people were socially distanced it didn’t appeal to us, so we cycled back. Reg didn’t get to swim in the sea here!

After Paignton, we moved on to the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site at Modbury. The approach to the campsite is very tight and after a couple of miles from the main town, we arrived. We found one of the only remaining pitches – next to another Etrusco (an I 7400 SB – A Class). This makes our total number of Etruscos seen on the road now 4!

There was not a lot to do around the site, but thankfully the dog walk was great for teaching Reg a few commands! The weather also changed and it got fairly wet, the chocks sank slightly into the grass, but we didn’t get stuck!

We’ll be moving on again next week – thank you for reading. We hope that you and your families are safe and well. Enjoy the good weather and take care. Stay Safe, we’ll give you another update soon.

The Adventure Continues Week 3: Crawley to Dorset

This week, Reg had two firsts – first tunnel, the Shoreham Tunnel, and first ferry the Sandbanks to Studland Ferry. We left Crawley and the site at Gatwick, having managed to have the long awaited dentist appointment for Ric (if you remember one of our December posts, you’ll know the importance)! Next, we headed to Brighton and a long awaited post-lockdown haircut, I (Sarah) am a bit fussy when it comes to having my hair cut and have had the same hairdresser for a long long time, and am always incredibly grateful when I can be fitted in.

Appointments completed, we set off again again and headed to Wimborne, on the edge of the New Forest and a small Caravan and Motorhome Certified Location – Omaha Meadows. It’s a lovely small site, next to the Moors Valley Country Park. Reg had a swim in the river too.

After a couple of days, we left and headed to Sandbanks, outside Bournemouth to take the Chain Ferry to Studland. The weather changed and the glorious views we were hoping for disappeared into the mist and rain. We didn’t spot Harry (Redknapp) either! We had a couple of nights at the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site: Bingham Grange. There wasn’t much change in the weather, so we went for a drive, down to Lyme Regis and up to Axminster before returning to the site.

It’s taken us a while to get back into the travelling mode, but we have learnt to slow down and take in the scenery and activities on offer on our doorstep. We aren’t always the most social of people, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made us a little less so. The Caravan and Motorhome Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club have both done alot to put secure measures into place and we feel very safe on their sites. The relief of being able to be back on the road has done wonders to our wellbeing and we’re also able to train Reg in the basics! The campsite at Bingham Grange has a lovely free to roam dog walk, and we were able to hesitantly let Reg off the lead, but he came back!

As always, thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and able to get out and enjoy the outdoors. We’re heading off again next week and we hope you can follow our trip.

The Adventure Continues – Week 2 Minehead to Crawley

England is still in partial lockdown, but campsites are open (with social distancing) and we’ve continued our journey.

We walked through the town in Minehead and along the promenade to the harbour, passing the marker for the start (or end) of the Southwest Coast Path. When we first set out last year my (Sarah) sister, loaned me a book – The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, it is the memoirs of a couple who set out to walk the Southwest Coast Path, having been made homeless. We hadn’t originally set out to stay in Minehead, but we are so glad we did.

The beach at Minehead is not dog friendly (in the summer), so despite a quick set onto the sand with Reg, we thought we should go somewhere he was welcome and headed up the coast to Burnham-on-Sea, where the campsite is close to the sea at Berrow. It’s a long sandy, dog friendly beach, and Reg was able to run on it (once we’d navigated the sand dunes). He also had his first venture into the sea, but was more amused with trying to eat the seaweed and drinking the sea water!

After a couple of days, we headed up to Bristol. Not too sure what to expect, we arrived at the campsite and were in awe! The campsite backs onto the Floating Harbour at Baltic Wharf and a gate at the rear, allows you to access straight onto the harbourside walk. There were views up towards the Suspension Bridge and towards the S.S. Great Britain (closed at the moment but still iconic).

We walked up the hill to the Cabot Tower (again closed) and along the harbourside. We discovered the Banksy Mural of the Girl with the Earring (complete with face mask) and several other sculptures and statues – including Samuel Plimsoll – the man responsible for the Plimsoll Line on ships, indicating the maximum load for a ship, and John Cabot (an Italian who discovered Newfoundland in 1497, with the backing of the mayor of Bristol and King Henry VII).

The following day after a morning walk around the harbour, we walked up to the Clifton Suspension Bridge, through the Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve and then over the Bridge (take care if you suffer from vertigo – especially at the moment with social distancing in place)! Before walking back down through the Hotwells district of the city.

We headed off again on Saturday to Winchester and the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site at Morn Hill. The campsite is just too far to walk to the city in the rain, but lovely grass pitches and a big-ish dog walk. The A303 as usual was very busy but the views over Stonehenge can’t be faulted.

Sunday, saw us head back to Crawley. We have a couple of appointments we need to attend to, these had been put on hold during Lockdown and a week into our trip, they started to be rebooked, it was too good an opportunity to not return for – especially as one was for the Dentist we had been waiting for since the hospital trip in Spain in December.

As always, thank you for reading, hopefully you and your families are safe and well. Join us next week to see where we get to!

Lockdown Week 14: Solving the Dilemma

Houdini

We’re still in lockdown, parked up in our little spot. The weather has heated up a lot this week and it has been unbearable at times, this week and the thunderstorm that was due never really happened.

Boris has announced some lifting of lockdown measures and we are able to travel away from home and overnight (in England) from 4th July, so planning is beginning.

Our dilemma: did we want to buy Nortia or take her back? In the words of an eighties game show – “Come on down! The Price is Right!” Yes, we’ve agreed a price with Etrusco, just waiting to find out where we need to go to complete the paperwork.

We’re heading off again next week and this week we’ll be sorting out our junk. It’s amazing what you can accrue in 14 weeks of Lockdown and nine months on the road! So far, we’ve sorted out the wardrobes! If it hasn’t been worn since we’ve been out then it’s now in the loft! British weather being what it is, we’ll probably need something! Also, the law of the sod, says “we’ll need something!”

In other news, Reg continues to grow, we’re starting to change his meals to two a day, gradually. We had to buy a cool mat for him as he was too hot in the heat and he loves it. He did give us a scare on our last trip out as he pulled out of his harness and sat down under my feet, in the cab. Maybe, we should have called him Houdini.

As always, thank you for reading, hopefully we’ll have done something interesting in the coming week to be able to share with you. We’re still healthy and well, despite our wings being clipped, and hope you are too.