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.

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

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….

Lockdown Week 15: Light at the end of the Tunnel

Our Lockdown Hideaway – we are thankful to our neighbours for putting up with us, but we need to move on!

Boris has said that campsites can reopen in England on 4th July. We’ve spent the week, preparing. We started to declutter all the extra stuff, we’ve accumulated in the last 15 weeks. Unfortunately, the weather changed and we weren’t able to completely empty the garage, but we have managed to put another seven kilos of clothes in the loft!

We said our goodbyes to family and the friends we’ve made in our lockdown parking space and headed off to a Camping and Caravanning Site in Chichester.

It felt good but strange to be back on the road, almost like we were expecting to be asked, what are we doing / where are we going?

Arriving at the campsite was amazing, we were allocated a pitch and although, no facilities were open, except for waste disposal and washing up, but we were aware of this before we booked and Nortia has an amazing shower and bathroom set up, so this wouldn’t be an issue. We waited until we arrived to fill up with water, just as there was less weight that way, to travel with.

People on site, were all friendly and looked like we felt, so thankful to be able to be out and about. The knowledge that we don’t have to go home at the end of the day, is such a relief. When we arrived, the sun was shining and although a little windy, sitting outside for the evening, brought back lots of happy memories. We hope that Reg will enjoy it too.

Reg, has only ever spent four days on a pitch before, way back when he was eight weeks old, so to be harnessed and tethered was a little strange to him, He also, hasn’t really been on a drive ( we had two lockdown drives, weeks apart. He is used to sleeping in the motorhome, but not the outside experience.

Reg did make some friends during our stay, there were three little girls next door and he loved being made a fuss of by the youngest two.

Tomorrow, we are continuing our adventure. Thank you for reading and we look forward to sharing our adventure with you for next week. Find out where we go and what we do, next!

One year on, Lockdown and a Dilemma.

Handover Day 19/06/2019 Cleveland Motorhomes, Darlington

A year ago today, 19th June 2019, we arrived at Cleveland Motorhomes in Darlington and were handed the keys to Nortia. We started our trip with a little get-to-know-you adventure driving south, slowly before heading to Europe.

We visited Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, France, Monaco, England, Scotland, Wales, Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar. All in covering 25,000 miles in nine months, then Lockdown hit and our plans for the next three months were changed in an evening.

Lockdown began for us in Sussex, when Boris said all unnecessary travel was prohibited and only essential businesses should remain open. The campsite we were on, was closing. We headed off home and parked up outside, plugged into the electric, logged onto the WiFi and filled up with water. Here, we dutifully stayed parked up, until we were allowed to go out for day trips in June. On our first trip, we had to check the tyre pressures and dust off the cobwebs, which were everywhere – wheels, wing mirrors, bike rack. We had been stationary for so long, that driving was a new experience and we actually forgot about the cruise control and sixth gear! We headed to the beach, hoping to show Reg the sea, but so had the rest of the county, so we headed up into the South Downs National Park instead.

Our views, whilst away, have been magnificent, the fjords in Norway, mountains in the Dolomites, the Alps in France, marinas in many countries, sea views and green fields. We’ve stayed in towns and in isolated areas, with many people and on our own. Now our view for the last three months has been a fence and garage doors!

During Lockdown, we’ve managed to stay sane, trained a puppy, been in good health and we’re still talking – there have been moments, but with the three of us in a 7.4 metre long motorhome, you’d expect some fireworks.

Our plans had been to travel up to Wales and over to Ireland (perhaps, to the Isle of Man), on to Scotland and the Hebrides (Inner and Outer), but they are on hold for the time being.

Life is slowly beginning to get back to normal, non-essential shops are allowed to open and campsites are beginning to get ready to open on 4th July, still no word about pubs, restaurants or hotels.

Now our dilemma, Etrusco need to sell our motorhome – our year has come to an end, but we have been offered first refusal, we’re just waiting for a price. We’ve started looking at the market, to see what we can afford but, we need to move on if campsites open.

Our dilemma is two-fold – without a price for the Motorhome, we don’t know where to book!

  • If we have to return Nortia, we need to plan to head north and sort out a plan to return home to start again; or
  • If we can buy Nortia, we can start to book our next trip, into England and see more sights, Wales looks like it might be opening its borders soon so a slow trip west could be on the cards.

As always, thank you for reading. We’ll update you with our plans as soon as we know what we’re doing, Government guidelines depending.

Lockdown: Week 7 – Places we’ve been (Part 1 – England to Denmark)

While we’re unable to travel, we thought we’d have a lookback over the places we’ve been in the last year.

Nortia at Sunset in Norway

Our time travelling has taken us to some amazing places, some unexpected, and some planned. We’ve had some great days and some not so great. We’ve been to some places we’ve been before, but many we hadn’t. We’ve been caught up in some good and bad weather and we’ve met some lovely people, along the way.

We started our tour in England. We collected Nortia from Darlington, County Durham and slowly travelled back to our families in the South, before heading through the Tunnel to Europe.

Our first destination, was changed when we had a leaking basin in the bathroom and were booked in for repairs in Belgium.

Belgium

  • Geel – Dicar Motorhomes. We arrived not knowing exactly what to expect and with limited (unconfident) French, but we were made to feel welcome and the Motorhome was fixed in a couple of hours.
  • De Klinge – we stopped here in the sunshine after our stop at Dicar Motors. There is a statue in the village to the De Loor brothers, one of whom won the Tour of Spain Cycle Race, now called La Veulta.
  • Ypres – we stopped at the campsite just outside the town and walked to the Menin Gate and the historic town.
  • Tyne Cot Cemetery – the largest cemetery for Commonwealth Soldiers in the World (for any war). It was one of the best cemeteries we have been to, so well looked after and maintained. The poignancy of the cemetery was unbelievable.
  • Bredene – on the North Sea Coast, close to the Dutch Border. This is on our list to return to. If you know our love of take-aways, we found a Chinese, almost next door to the campsite too. The beaches here are sandy and the wind was whipping it up a treat.

The Netherlands

  • Ouddorp aan Zee – we stayed in a campsite here, close to the beach and cycled along the promenades, stopping for lunch with a view of the North Sea. We also cycled inland along the polders. This place had a lot of charm and an unbelievable blue North Sea.
  • Utrecht – check whether dogs are allowed before paying and pitching and taking the dog for a stroll! then checking the website after a few strange looks and making a hasty retreat.
  • Abbenes – Camperstop in a beautiful part of the country, surrounded by farmland.
  • Amsterdam – what do we need to say? The campsite was close to cycle routes and the tram to the City Centre. Well worth a two night stop. Amsterdam with its history and sights was a must see and do.
  • Witmarsum – close to the motorway and the dams. A beautiful town with canals and more cycle paths and windmills.

Germany

  • Kollmar – after a series of diversions and a ferry trip, we arrived at a lovely campsite outside the town. The highlight of the campsite was the owner, who raised the English St George Flag for our stay.

Denmark

  • Tønder – just over the border from Germany, The campsite is on the edge of the town, behind the Leisure Centre. It’s a lovely short walk up to the cobbled streets of the village, and bakery. The pavements had roses growing through them and up the walls of the houses.
  • Vesløs – in the middle of the Danish countryside, 11 Kms from the beach and apparently cyclable, but we didn’t get there, partially because the weather started to change and partially, because after 13 miles we hadn’t got there! From here, we went to the Wind Turbine Centre at Osterlid.
  • Skagen – Right at the tip of Denmark. We loved it here! We cycled into the main town and port more than once. It’s a great place to visit. We are definitely coming back here!
  • Aarlborg – a beautiful town on a river, with cycle routes and a variety of takeaways and restaurants.
  • Island of Fyn – Faaberg – Another amazing place and one we’re coming back to.

As always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are well and surviving lockdown, we’re safe and well in our little spot, waiting for the opportunity to continue our journey. Reg continues to grow and his training is ongoing. We’ll be back with another part of our trip, soon, #staysafe #stayhome.

End of the Pre-Adventure Tour a.k.a Getting to know Nortia

Having picked up Nortia, our Etrusco T7400 QBC on what started off as an incredibly wet Wednesday in June, but ended in perfect sunshine we set off to our first overnight stop at the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site Richmond Hargill House, overlooking the North York Moors.

We were greeted by the welcoming wardens and helped to pick a lovely pitch. Time to unload the hire car and see what would go where. First we tried to sort the bed out so we were ready to go – the bed linen we brought was too small – the bed in Nortia is a king size, our duvet fitted but the sheets were way to small. We took a short drive to Catterick and bought what we needed.

Next stop dinner, we bought a quick and simple dinner we could reheat in the oven – Nortia has a Gaslow system fitted which we can refill with LPG. Another stupid error ensued – we hadn’t checked we had gas. So while we sat waiting for the dinner to cook – there had been no heat. It was easily rectified the next day – we had previously downloaded the LPG app – as recommended by Vanda and Andy https://truckingandlooking.blogspot.com/.

After two nights at Richmond we went to the Caravan and Motorhome Club North Yorkshire Moor, we’d been searching for a campsite to go to and it looked lovely. Another error there were no facilities at the site BUT that was no longer a problem we have a shower and toilet on board – both are lovely and big with a walkway between which makes the biggest en-suite we have ever had truth be told we haven’t had an en=suite before!)

From North Yorkshire Moors we spent the weekend at York Rowntree Caravan Club Site. Here we discovered lovely little street with cafes, restaurants and shops just within walking distance. In the other direction the City Centre was about half a mile away. In true tradition we had a curry on Saturday night.

Next stop Maplethope, Lincolnshire a traditional seaside town, with a big sandy beach but no dogs are allowed at this time of year.

From here we went to Thetford Forest Club Site, complete with Desert Rats Memorial and Trail – there is also a Museum open on request.

Heading further south we went to the Ashridge Farm site just outside Ashwell, Hertfordshire. Ashwell is a quintessential English Village, with a butcher and baker (don’t know about candlestick maker) couple of pubs and a village green with cricket pitch. We actually washed Nortia to make her look smart!

Last stop before home was Henley-on-Thames. The sun came out as did the awning and chairs and we relaxed in the sun.

We stopped over at home and collected the belongings we hadn’t had the room to take with us and placed the bikes on the fitted bike rack, before heading further south to the coast – Littlehampton Club Site was the next stop over. We worked out an issue with the fridge – it has a three-way switch over but needed resetting – simple when you read the instructions!

One last stop over at Chichester Marina, before we headed off on the adventure we were planning.

Thank you again for reading to the end.. we’ll update you with more from the Big Adventure soon.

Meet Nortia

Nortia at Thetford Forest CMC Site June 2019

Nortia is the name of an Etruscan goddess whose influences were time, fate, destiny and chance.

Nortia is also our Etrusco T7400QBC Motorhome, very kindly supplied by Erwin Hymer and Etrusco. She has had her payload increased to 3850Kgs and had a few optional extras added – satellite dome, solar panel and awning as well as a gas BBQ point.

She has a rear bedroom with a queen-sized bed and two half size wardrobes which seem to fit way more than you could imagine – we have made one for hanging items and the other for folded items. The bed can be raised and lowered to enable the garage underneath to hold larger items.

There is a separate toilet and shower which with the clever use of doors you can have as an en-suite, separate toilet / shower or a large bathroom and dressing area!

The main living area has two bench seats which can convert to travelling chairs (with seat belts) the captains chairs driving seats are quick and easy to turn around and add to the seating arrangement around a large dining table. The living area is a functional kitchen with an oven / grill, 3 burner hob and wash up sink. There is also a large 3 way fridge freezer.

If we have additional guests to stay there is a large double bed which pulls down from the ceiling in the living area with a lovely skylight for star gazing. It has surrounding curtains and there is a ladder to make access easier.

Albi has made himself at home with his bed in front of one of the bench seats.

The cab has lovely air conditioning fitted, which on days like today (it was 34°C when we set out) was an absolute must.

We can honestly say we cannot fault the Motorhome we’ve been given and continue to count our blessings each day.

Nortia the goddess of time, fate destiny and chance has certainly been looking out for us.

Thank you as always for reading to the end, we’ll be letting you know more about our first adventure soon.