A long weekend in Rural Essex; Oct 2014 part 2

Bluebell the motorhome is safely tucked up at home again after a lovely few days exploring the Essex countryside.

We had a pleasant night at BritStop number 209, and a very quiet nights sleep. With the clocks going back it was nice to enjoy our extra hour in slumberland, however we did find ourselves waking up the hour early! In actual fact, we were pleased we did- it had only just gone 08:00 and we’d just finished our breakfast when we noticed cars arriving onto the field in which we were parked on. Turns out the pub landlord had parked us on the community football pitch and although we did know this – the goalposts that he had directed us to park behind were a give away, it hadn’t occurred to us to double check at the time of parking that the football field would not be in use (neither of us are into football one bit). In our minds why would he, the pub landlord, tell us to park behind some goalposts of an in use football pitch, knowing that the pitch would be home to a football match at 09:00 the next morning and then not to bother to tell us/warn us about said football match. Well- turns out we were wrong, and that was in fact what he had done. The footballers were obviously not impressed to see us there, and rather than take the normal approach and come and ask us to move, they decided the best way way to kick a football full pelt right in the direction of Bluebell, which of course slammed right into the side of us – but amazingly caused no damage whatsoever *phew* Needless to say, we were on the road, albeit with a few ruffled feathers by 08:20 on a Sunday morning (I didn’t realise there was such a thing as pre 10:00 on a Sunday!)

We had found a localish walk that we fancied in our trusty onboard walks box which started at nearby Earls Colne. The walk itself was varied, taking in meadows, a disused railway track, along a riverside and an ancient woodland. Somehow, we managed the entire 6.5 mile walk without taking any photos!!! Not sure how that one happened-sorry!!

After a pleasant picnic lunch, we decided to head back to the tranquility of beautiful Thaxted for our overnight stay. We’ve actually stayed here before – the parish council very broad mindedly encourage visitors in motorhomes into their small town by having designated free parking for up to 48 hours. Perfect. The town itself is gorgeous, with a lovely windmill, guildhall, 14th Century church, lots of historical picture postcard houses and the house where Gustav Holst composed his famous works, The Planets.

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You can read about our previous adventures in Thaxted here

As you can see on the photos above, the weather when we arrived on Sunday was overcast but Monday morning dawned in beautiful sunshine, so again we found ourselves heading out walking at 08:15- this time on a 3 mile walk around the village outskirts.

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I’d been put in charge of the map and GPS ^

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Thaxted Guildhall
We were very lucky, we were just taking in the sign outside the Guldhall when a gentleman asked if we would like a look inside- he was a member of the parish council and was about to open up to give his grandson a special visit, so we were invited up to have a look inside. It was a real treat, it only opens to the public occasionally as it’s still in use as the parish council chambers.

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first floor- the council chambers (sorry for blurry pic)
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top floor, now an art gallery
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out the window of the top floor, looking down the high street. The blue step just above the telephone box on the right is where Gustav Holst used to live
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After a good luck around (thank you kind man) we had a quick cuppa and set off towards Saffron Walden, via the scenic route (suggested on the tourist board outside The Guildhall

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It was a lovely journey round the quant little villages but again we failed on the picture front- this time I blame Keefy as I was driving and he had the camera!! Our favourites were: Thaxted obviously, Finchingfield, Arkesden and Saffron Walden.

Onto Saffron Walden just in time for some lunch, after which we set off on the 3.75 mile (which somehow turned into 5.5miles according to our GPS) World War 2 trail around the town. It was a lovely walk, which took us all the way up to Audley End House (EH)

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Over a bridge that during the war was mined and barricaded to prevent German tanks passing through in the event of a Nazi invasion

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Passed a Pill Box

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And numerous remains of mortar spigot emplacements all around the town.

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It was a very factual trail and we both enjoyed it- although having already done a 3 mile walk that morning we both felt exhausted afterwards! The sunlight was beautiful though throughout

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We decided we would try and get on a site that evening as we were running low on water and desperate on a toilet empty. Having made a couple of phone calls we soon got booked onto the nearby Little Henham Hall Farm Campsite At £12 for the night with electric it was a steal, and we were lucky enough to have the site to ourselves. The view across the field was lovely and we had a wonderfully peaceful night, enjoying the luxury of being on electric hookup, and being able to have a loooooong shower- bliss. Although there was no facilities onsite other than a Chemical loo point, water tap and 5 hookups, it was perfect for us and struck the exact balance of what we need to feel totally relaxed. From now on we are going to try and incorporate more small sites into our holidays. Although we love staying on BritStop sites, and don’t like the larger regimented campsites one bit- we feel these certified back to basic sites may be just what we could do with every third night or thereabouts.

Next morning we were again treated to a phenomenal sunrise right from our bedroom window.

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Eager to enjoy what was forecasted to be the last of the glorious weather, we set off to West Stow Country park, half way between the campsite and home. We enjoyed having a gentle wander around the Country Park before heading home.

Once again we’ve had a brilliant mini break, and have been particularly lucky with the weather. We travelled exactly 200 miles over 5 days- and the total cost was just under £200.

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We are impressed with this as this includes my splash out birthday meal which obviously was more expensive than we would usually perhaps spend *well, I’m worth it!!* 😉

Until next time
Lx

A long weekend in Rural Essex; Oct 2014 part 1

Bluebell the motorhome is currently parked up on a lovely field behind BritStop number 209. We aren’t too far from either Halstead or Braintree and the sun is shining for us all to enjoy.

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Yesterday was my birthday and to celebrate we chose a nice looking Brit Stop to book into for a splash out meal. We chose number 210, a vineyard/restaurant in Essex, and had a pleasant hours journey through the countryside to get there.

The BritStop itself didn’t disappoint one bit- as soon as we arrived we knew we were going to enjoy ourselves!

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Bluebell parked amongst the recently harvested vines

After a quick sandwhich for lunch we took ourselves for a leg stretch down to the very pretty village of Coggeshall. The village itself is quite large and is home to 3 pubs, some nice shops, a couple of nice looking restaurants and tea rooms. Pretty much every single property is listed and we spent a very happy couple of hours doing the well designed Coggeshall town walk (leaflet obtained from the library) which took in all the main sights.

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The very pretty Paycockes NT property- a former wool merchants house

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The colours around the river were breathtaking especially once the sun peeped out.

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Another highlight was a cheeky look into Grange Barn, another NT property in the village. Grange barn is an 800 year old barn, with huge timber roof- in fact it’s the largest and oldest in Europe. I say sneaked as the lady was closing up for the night and let us peep round without charging us! Thank you nice lady.

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After a couple of refreshment stops we tottered back to the van to get in our glad rags ready for our big night out. Keefy had arranged a private wine tasting followed by dinner. He’d even booked the best table in the house ❤

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I cannot put into words how much I LOVED the entire night- many many thanks to our wonderful hosts, we had such a great time. The wine, of which we tried 3 English whites (the one from that vineyard was particularly good), an English rose, an English red (from a Norfolk vineyard down the road- which was superb!) and their own sparking wine which was fantastic. The girl conducting the tasting was knowledgable, friendly and patient and we supped our way through fair amount of wine! A nice touch was the complementary glass of fizz we each received as a birthday treat from the lady afterwards, as an aperitif. Delicious.

We had a lip smackingly great 3 course meal. I had goats cheese, beetroot, pickled Apple and walnut salad to start – a lovely reminder of food we enjoyed in The Dordogne region of France, followed by fish tagine- too good for words, and white chocolate and cappuccino cheesecake. Keefy enjoyed squid to start, homemade chicken schnitzel with hen egg on top and the best sticky toffee pud (with rum sauce) that he’s ever had. We washed the meal down with a bottle of their 2013 white- the whole experience was perfection.

If you love good quality local food and wine you NEED to visit this place ^ Look it up in your Brit Stop book- number 210- and if you aren’t a member then go buy a book www.britstops.co.uk so you can be in on the secret. And if you haven’t been convinced yet……… How’s this for a morning view from bed???

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The morning after the night before…
How do you top an evening like we had? We took full advantage of the Autumn sunshine and hit the road to Braintree, where we joined the Flint Way- a 7.5mile off road, traffic free cycle route along an old disused railway line.

A particular highlight was the station at Rayes which despite being redundant for many years now, still captured the feel of a busy working railway by having a disused carriage set up at the station as a museum and a busy cafe housed within the old station building.

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Further along the line was another old station, this time Bannister Green Holt, which proved to be a nice place for a picnic.

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The scenery along the whole route was lovely and it was a really nice way to burn off some of the cobwebs from last nights tasting!!

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The 15 mile cycle nearly finished us off- so once we arrived at our Brit stop for this evening we had a major chill, and a couple of pints in the pub. We are shattered after our eventful couple of days so an early night is planned with the intention of a nice walk tomorrow.

Until next time
Lx

Cornwall/Devon Summer 2014: Facts and Figures

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Trip Stats
13 nights away
1065 miles
3 Tanks of fuel
7 Britstop overnight stops
6 Community car park overnight stops
0 campsites
1 night on electric
3 fab cycle rides on disused railway lines
Oodles of local food, ale and cider
A few additional scratches down the side
A broken indicator
And here’s the amazing bit:
Total cost ( including fuel from and back to Norfolk and ALL food)

£648

Amazing really to think we enjoyed a 2 week holiday for 2 (heavy eaters/drinkers!) for less than £700.

Until next time
Lx

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Cornwall/ Devon – Summer 2014; Part 6

Friday
Bluebell the motorhome is parked up at The Plume of Feathers pub “campsite” in Princetown, on Dartmoor. Rain stopped play somewhat today- that along with some absolutely moronic drivers on the road – one of which literally seemed intent on forcing us off the road!!

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We had a fantastic meal last night and slept like logs in our castle location (no spooky shenanigans to report!) Our first stop today was to a street in Okehamptom, to look for Keith’s mum’s old house. She grew up in Okehampton and lived here until she moved to London for teacher training, and Keefy has memories of coming to visit his grandparents here in Okehampton.

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After a trip down memory lane, we carried on into the depths of Dartmoor. We took the road to Chagford, a very pretty but small Devonshire town, however seeing as we managed to visit on market day we struggled to negotiate Bluebell through the crowds and the nutty IMPATIENT local drivers- one of which was in such a hurry they couldn’t wait behind us as we waited in a passing place to allow an oncoming driver to pass us on the single track road, so decided to overtake us and nearly ended up in a head on collision right next to us.

Another driver decided as we were exiting the town (and contemplating at how a scooter may be a worthy addition to our gear!) that they’d had enough of us driving cautiously seeing as there were market goers everywhere and decided to overtake us at an alarming speed and once beside us tried to barge us off the road (I’m honestly not making this up!!) Thank god I noticed him in the wing mirror and managed to swerve up on the pavement to avoid a chunk being taken out of our van (god knows what else) but even more of a miracle was that there were no pedestrians on that stretch as my reflex swerve failed to notice pre swerve and I don’t think they would have faired well.

The whole experience shook me up beyond belief and frankly ruined my day , I couldn’t stop shaking and felt physically sick at the thought of what could have been. Keith took over driving duties from therein and after a strong cuppa and cake overlooking the fast disappearing view in a nearby layby we were ready to hot the road again.

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^^ just noticed Jazz hiding under the van in this one! ^^

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Next stop was Postbridge, to see the medieval Clapper Bridge. The weather by this point had well and truly turned but we still enjoyed half an hour wondering around and a trip to the visitor centre.

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By this point unfortunately my mood had reached a new low, so we decided to take refuge at the nearby a Plume of Feathers pub in Princetown. We’d read this was a pub stop where you could park overnight in return for a meal but on enquiring they wanted to charge £6.95 pp pn regardless of us eating in there or not. As the weather was crappy we relented, but decided not to eat- we would have been happy paying £14 had it been a proper campsite, but we were told to park on the carpark. There was however an Elsan point which proved useful and some showers which looked like they’d not been cleaned in a month. We’d have been happier parking on their carpark for free and then spending £50 on a nosh up meal there. Their loss though…

We did however try a pint of Dartmoor brewery’s Jail Ale, named after the Jail that is in town… It was a great pint and definitely made me feel a bit better!

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Saturday
The new day dawned dry thank goodness, and as such my mood was much better. Today was sadly time to go home, but in an effort to avoid getting stuck in traffic, and seeing as the weather was looking good, we decided to try another day on Dartmoor before setting off for the M5 around 4pm.

First stop was to be “Wistman’s Wood” – a weird yet wonderful landscape full of myth and legend. It’s about 1.5 miles walk each way from the small parking area opposite Two Bridges hotel. The trees in this wood are dwarf trees and give the impression of old men bent over as you get closer.

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The views on the walk were lovely down the valley.

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Next stop was to find one of the stone Tors that are so iconic of Dartmoor. We headed towards Coombestone Tor, and was really happy with how Bluebell coped with the dramatic road up. This was a great collection of rocks, and we enjoyed climbed up onto them and posing for silly pictures!

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The good thing about this particular Tor is that you can get there easily in the car/van, so no long walk to get there! 🙂

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It was a good place for a spot of lunch and a cuppa, and I’m fairly sure you could have a very quiet night wild camping up there too.
Next stop was the pretty village of Widdecombe on the Moor- a very picturesque Dartmoor village (and pleased to report ample parking too!)

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Last stop, but by no means least, was the incredible viewpoint at the top of the road out of Widdecombe on the Moor (The B3387 between Haytor and Bovey Tracy)

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We hadn’t intended on going here, but stumbled across it by accident- the view was tremendous as you can see from the pic above, and it was a hive of activity with lots of people climbing the 500 metres or so up to the two Stone Tors away from the road.

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The heather is a gorgeous colour at this time of year and I spent ages trying to picture the lilac and yellow.

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It really was a perfect way to finish our holiday- we’ve had a great time exploring the West Country. Our holiday highlights were Clovelly, Treen/Pothcurno, and Lydford. We left our viewpoint at 4pm and had a marvellous journey back, arriving into our lovely Norfolkshire village at 10:30 on the dot.

Until next time
Lx

Cornwall/ Devon – Summer 2014; Part 5

Wednesday
Bluebell the motorhome is parked up at Brit Stop #008, which is a marvellous farm shop full of delights (well less full than before we arrived, seeing as we’ve shopped til we dropped here!) It’s got a fab view, over the pig fields and across to Bodmin Moor, and is the perfect setting for us to enjoy our sausage and mash (courtesy of the farm shop produce!) and chill after a pretty big day of cycling!

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We weren’t sure what we’d get up to today seeing as the weather forecast looked a bit dodgy, and we had considered buying tickets for Eden Project to occupy us during the rain. We held our patience though, saving ourselves nearly £50 on tickets to the project, and were rewarded with a dry day enabling us to nip up to Bodmin and cycle some of the Camel train. We managed 15 miles on the disused railway, and enjoyed every second. There perhaps isn’t so much to see town wise as on the Tarka trail but the trail itself was prettier, hugging the River Camel the whole way. Lovely!

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Thursday
Bluebell the motorhome is parked up at another fantastic Brit Stop location, #010 and this time a pub (oh no…!!) – but look at our view!!

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We have had a very active day today, once again being very lucky with the weather (thank you weather Gods!) and therefore have worked up rather a large appetite for dinner tonight, which is a good job seeing as we’re eating at the pub later and the menu looks amazing!

We started our day by visiting the spectacular NT Lydford Gorge. Now I was under no doubts that this would be staggeringly beautiful, given how the name of the river that passes through these parts is named after me… The River Lyd 🙂 It cost the pricely sum of £7 pp to get in, but we were promised the largest waterfall in the South West, The Devils Cauldron, over 3 miles of well kept paths to enjoy and amazing gorge scenery. Despite our reservations at paying nearly £15 to visit a natural beauty, (I’m talking about the river and not me here… Haha!!) we absolutely LOVED the visit and would recommend to anyone passing through- I’d even go as far as saying I’d make a special visit to come here. You can see by the pics below- it was great. The paths were excellent, hand rails at all the steep sections, info boards, etc- and we both felt it was money well spent.

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After a brill visit we were left itching for even more excercise so drove the short distance to a carpark on the outskirts of Okehampton, unloaded the bikes, loaded Jazz into his basket and set off along the Granite Trail. Another cracker of an off-road disused railway trail, we cycled over two viaducts and even down across a Dam! All with the spectacular backdrop of Darmoor. Absolutely great fun!

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We’re on the home stretch now sadly, with only one full day and night left on Dartmoor before making the journey back to Norfolk after a days exploring on Saturday.

Until next time
Lx

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Cornwall/ Devon – Summer 2014; Part 4

Monday
Bluebell the motorhome is parked up on a dairy farm, at Brit Stop #001. This isn’t just any old dairy farm though, they make ice cream and fudge to die for here- and we’ve made a good start on sampling it!!

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We awoke in Praa Sands having survived a pretty hefty storm during the night, and as the weather was grim still we opted for a lay in. It’s a lovely spot the car park here- we could near the waves crashing below us, the pitter patter on our roof and wind howling was a joy to listen to whilst curled warm and toasty in bed!

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Around 11 ish and we decided it was time to crack on despite the weather, so we headed onto the main road and made a stop at Portleven- this ended up being a good move as about half an hour into our visit the skies cleared and out came the sun.
Portleven is a picturesque but ancient harbour, with pretty houses and shops lining the very deep harbour walls. The tide was out when we visited so all the boats were resting precariously on the harbour floor.

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One of the pubs caught our eye (naturally!) and seeing as Keith was driving today I suggesting we nip in so I could get my obligatory pint of Doombar. The Ship Inn oozed character and had a great position so we were able to enjoy the view over the harbour whilst soaking up the atmosphere (and the Doombar!)

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Time was pushing on, but seeing as the weather was looking great again, we decided to pop to the Lizard- the most southerly point in the UK. Neither of us had been before and I know we were lucky with the weather but even so, we loved it there and thought it knocked socks off Lands End!

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This stretch of coast is so dramatic, and the light there today was magnificent.

All this sight seeing is hungry work, and seeing as we’ve not yet tried a Pasty whilst down here today seemed the perfect opportunity.

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This called for a swift pint in the most southerly pub in the UK, The Witch Ball, purely seeing as it is a landmark you realise….

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Our Brit Stop for tonight (001) was just down the road so we arrived in time to have a good look around the farm animals here (goats, pigs, ducks, a turkey, quail, cows and calves) and we even got to watch the cows being milked. All the fudge and ice cream is made using this milk. It’s another corker of a stop- well done Brit Stops.

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Tuesday
Bluebell the motorhome is parked at another BritStop (our heroes, thank you!) this time we are at a pub (hic!) #005, just on the outskirts of St Austell.

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We’d envisaged staying at the carpark at Mevagissy tonight, where overnight parking is allowed, however when we arrived and were told £15 we just couldn’t quite face it, as it wasn’t in a picturesque location, and there were no services. Honestly, we aren’t tight, and we did consider it- but we would much rather spend that amount (and more on most occasions!) in a local pub/farm shop and support the local business (and come out with something mouth watering in return!) or a campsite/ carpark that offered some sort of facilities for that price.

We did however pay £4 to park for 2 hours, which gave us just enough time to nip down to the harbour, have a wander- it’s a beautiful town with another lovely harbour, grab some fish and chips, which we enjoyed whilst sat overlooking the harbour, and a pint of Cornish lager, Korev in the 14th Century Smugglers Inn, The Fountains.

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Apparently the weather f/cast is bad for tomorrow so we’re unsure what it may bring for us at the moment, it could be Eden Project, it could be cycling some of the Camel Trail. Either way, we will enjoy, I’m sure!

Until next time
Lx

Cornwall/ Devon – Summer 2014; Part 3

Wednesday
Bluebell the Motorhome is parked up along with several other motorhomes in the village carpark in Tintagel. For £3 we’re allowed to park overnight here, within walking distance (50m!) to the nearest pub, half a mile to the English Heritage castle site and across the road from the National Trust Post Office site.

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you can see Bluebell tucked up on the left

On leaving Barnstaple we visited the most beautiful Heritage Village of http://www.clovelly.co.uk
We paid £6.75 each and headed down through the visitors centre and down to the village. Words can’t describe how pretty the village is so here are my pics so you can see for yourself.

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looking down over the Harbour

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more pretty houses

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the harbour and the hill we’d just walked down

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the hotel on the harbour

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a very picturesque refreshment stop!
After a good couple of hours, we marched back up the hill to the car park: Clovelly is totally traffic free, the locals have to use sledges to transport their gear up and down the hill- once upon a time it was donkeys!
On the way back up, Keith was able to hold and have his picture taken with his favourite animal- A Little Owl

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Next we headed towards Tintagel. We hoped to stop at Boscastle, but it was heaving and we couldn’t even get in the carpark to check for spaces (although I’m fairly sure it was chocka block) so we carried on and found a space in the car park at Tintagel much more easily.

Once we’d got our ticket we walked down the hill to visit the impressive site where it’s believed King Arthur lived. It was a beautiful day to visit and although it was VERY steep (something which freaks me out a little!) we had a great visit

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After a tiring days exploring we naturally found the pub, and tried a few local pints of cider/ale, wobbled back to the van and chilled out for the rest of the evening!

Thursday
Thursday we parked up at Brit Stop #003, a pub near Redruth. We didn’t have the best day to be honest, everywhere we visited we had trouble either parking or exploring due to restrictions made by the council. First stop, Port Issac, saw us turned away from the main car park as we were over 2.5 tons (daytime parking). We then struggled to get back out due to ignorant drivers and got stuck whilst driving up a 1 in 4 single track hill road with hairpin due to an impatient 4×4 who wouldn’t wait and let us pass him. Next stop was Polzeath to relive some of Keith’s old childhood memories of hols down here with his parents. We managed to get parked easily, despite the very heavy no overnight parking signs, but then couldn’t take Jazz our dog on the beach. We left him in the van reluctantly, because we’d already paid for parking (clever that!) but nevertheless we enjoyed a (dog less) walk along the shore

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We carried onto Padstow, hoping to have a fish and chip lunch, but seeing as we got turned away from the park and ride, then got stuck in the middle of Padstow with tourists ten a breast walking in the middle of the road with no awareness of us and the other cars driving down the road, we were frankly relieved, if not slightly hacked off once we got safely out of the town. We rang over 10 campsites trying to find a local one with a last minute cancellations to no avail, so ended up carrying on to Redruth, to a very welcoming Brit Stop pub, where we drank away our troubles of the day!

We did manage a little dog walk around the local area and stumbled (literally!) across an interesting site just down the road, Gwennap Pit, an interesting open air amphitheatre that was originally formed by mining in the area.

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It’s now used (and has been since 1700s) as an open air preaching area and is owned by the Methodist Church. Very interesting place to visit!

On our walk back we also passed an old mining chimney, a stark reminder about the history of tin mining in this area.

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Friday
Bluebell the motorhome is parked overlooking the sea, on the cliffs in the community carpark at Treen.

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We came this way as we are off to the Minack theatre tonight to see Keefy’s brother lead in Monty Pythons’ Spamalot. We also were in desperate need of facilities, and were hoping to get on Treen Farm camspite, which is a short walk away from the theatre. Sadly, by the time we arrived at 09:30, there were already over 50 early birds who had got on the list before us- this campsite offers a no booking policy, so you have to just turn up and hope for the best, hence the early start! In an amazing act of generosity, despite us not getting a pitch, the owners of the campsite allowed us to fill/empty water and loo and pointed us in the direction of the community carpark where we were allowed to park up for £3.50 overnight and £2 all day. The views from here were better than the campsite to be honest, and substantially cheaper, however we spent a lot of money in the campsite shop/farm shop on local ales, ciders, sausages, and even marshmallows!

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We were meeting some of Keith’s old friends at the local pub for what turned into a liquid lunch

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– this Cornish Tribute Ale is lovely!
By mid afternoon we thought it would be wise to check out the coastal path down to Porthcurno and the Minack ready for our trek down that night.

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Porthcurno beach in this weather rivals Greece

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managed a dip or 4 in the sea- it was a bit nippy, unlike Greece!

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Keith’s brother and sister in law and some of the cast

That evening we watched the show at the Minack and it was fab. Definitely recommend a visit. I’ve never been before but Keefy has played in various show bands here before.

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Keith’s brother Neil, playing King Arthur in Spamalot

Saturday
The weather was great but forecasted to change on Sunday, so we decided to stay another night at Treen carpark. We enjoyed a walk to Logan’s Rock, then a massive chill in the sun and a BBQ! Perfect

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the view to the Minack on the left and Portcurno bay from Logan’s Rock

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The Minack on zoom from Logan’s Rock.The chain of people you can see is the next theatre company passing their set down from the carpark to the stage

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IMG_3742.JPGLogan’s Rock
We finished off our Saturday with a mahoosive chill in the sun, then a BBQ- steak and sausages accompanied by a bottle of Pape. Perfect

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We then tucked into the marshmallows for the first time EVER- we’ve clearly missed out. It was amazing!

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As the sun went down the stars came out and what a sky it was- we sat and saw loads of shooting stars. Absolutely cracking day.
Sunday
Bluebell the motorhome is parked up right beside the seaside, at Praa Sands.

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We’ve managed to find another place that welcomes motorhomes by allowing us to stay overnight for £5. We’ve paid £8 and this gives us 24hrs parking.

Cornwall is slightly confusing with its attitudes towards motorhomes, and dogs for that matter. Some carparks seem to be happy allowing us to stay whereas others a mile or so down the road have several ‘campers and motorhomes prohibited” signs per carpark. Some beaches allow dogs, others don’t. Lands End, you pay £6 to get in but then you can take your dog into every shop there. It’s all very confusing, but we’ve been lucky and only had one day of anti motorhome/anti dog stress (so far!)

We nipped up to Lands End today, as Keefy’s been wanting to get a matching sticker to go next to our J O’G one from last year. I have to admit, the £6 parking charge seemed steep initially, but on thinking about it, I suppose it’s not too bad- if we had 4 passengers it’d be a cheap to visit. Also, once the £6 is paid, there is no extra admission charge, although there are plenty of outlets for you spend extra money once inside, including an official picture next to the sign (an extra tenner!)

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We stopped off at the Famous First and Last Inn on our way out, intrigued to check out the camping area we knew about. We could have stayed over for £10 with no services, not even a water tap, in their back field, but frankly we thought that it was a rip off considering our location the previous two nights for less than half of that. If they’d said free for diners, £10 otherwisewe’d have stayed and eaten/drank. We did enjoy a quick drink there though before carrying on to Praa sands.

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Sorry for the lengthy blog this time- a mixture of relaxing offline and lack of signal has results in no updates this week, however you are now up to date 🙂

Our plan for the next week is to Brit Stop along the south coast, hope the weather gets better though as today isn’t great!
Until next time
Lx

Cornwall/ Devon – Summer 2014; Part 1

Bluebell the motorhome is back on the road for our summer holiday- and we’re down in the West Country! Currently Bluebell is resting in a farmyard/carpark surrounded by a couple of turkies, lots of free range hens, a beaut of a cockerel, a pot bellied pig and plenty of sheep and cows! We’re at Brit Stop number 28- which is without a doubt THE best one we’ve stayed at to date (and I’m sure I’ve said that a number of times previously!) its a farm shop/ farm park just off the M5 on the Somerset coast.

We had a quite an eventful trip down here, leaving Norfolk around 06:30, by 08:00 we had managed to trip every single one of the Tesco fuel pumps when filling with fuel, and encounter a suicidal pigeon that decided to take out our entire indicator light and housing on the M11. So perhaps achieved more than average Sunday morning!

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thanks to a suicidal pigeon for taking out our indicator…

After a temporary fix until we find a garage to help (thank goodness for our side and back indicators) we soon found ourselves reaching Bridgewater on the M5, our cue to say goodbye to the motorway for a couple of weeks 😊
20 miles later and we pulled up onto essentially a farmyard / carpark and went off in search of the farm shop. We’ve frequented a good few farm shops in our time, but this one hands down is the best we’ve been too! It’s got the largest selection of local cider/ale, fresh meat, veg, chutneys, jam, pressies- you name it. Naturally we found our way to the most important section….

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Selecting a few ciders and ales to settle ourselves into the Somerset climate….

We also picked up the ingredients to make a full roast dinner, which we’ve now demolished (and very good it was too!)

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Along with some homemade ice cream for pud!
Shopping done we went for a wander around the farm park, enjoying the free entry, however we’d have been happy to pay a couple of quid each and saw a variety of popular farmyard favourites along with a number of more obscure animals!

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Mr Stood the Turkey

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baby meerkats!

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a

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After a mooch, we found the path to the beach, and since then we’ve been chilling, eating, drinking and testing Spotify (thanks Motoehome Wifi and Bt Fon!)

A most perfect day!

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Until next time
Lx

Sunshine on the North Norfolk Coast

Bluebell the motorhome is parked up back at home having whisked us off to the Costa del North Norfolk coast for a sneaky night/couple of days of sunshine, beach time, swimming in the sea, good food and an enjoyable 8 mile walk. It’s been a little while since our last outing due to work commitments- summer term is always a grueller for us with summer concerts, exams, gigs etc, so we were delighted to find ourselves with a gap in the diary this week, that coincided with the weatherman giving the virtual thumbs up on getting some decent weather!

We were planning a trip to Sandringham House and Castle Rising, but after seeing the weather forcast predicting temperatures of 28-30 degrees, a trip to the beach just couldn’t be resisted, so we chucked our beachwear in, loaded the essentials ( Pimms….check, gin…..check, bikes, picnic, etc) grabbed our Brit Stops bible and hit the road. We were to return to a Brit Stop pub/restaurant that we’ve been to twice (read about it here and here) before, number 239, situated right on the North Norfolk Coastal Path, in between Hunstanton and Wells next to Sea.

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Bluebell the motorhome in the car park of BritStop number 239

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The outside of BritStop 239

We arrived just after 12:00, it only took just over an hour to get there from our house- ideal for a one night trip. A quick hello to the staff, confirmation that we had a table booked for dinner that night and Keefy set about dismantling the bikes whilst I packed the picnic bits into the cool bags. All loaded up, we cycled the 3 miles to the nearest beach, Brancaster Beach, which we’d visited back in February and vowed to return to in nicer weather.

20140725-212518-77118020.jpgBrancaster Beach in the summer sun- we could have been in Spain!

We enjoyed our picnic on the beach, several glasses of pimms, and a right good chill (or rather bake!). We even managed a swim in the unusually warm sea, it was like a bath!

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a few beach snaps 🙂

As dinner time fast approached, we packed up our kit, cycled back and had a sneaky nap (well all this sunbathing is tiring!) before getting on our glad rags, and moseying across for our 7:30pm booking.

The pub/hotel (I’m referring to it as number 239 as you have to be a member of BritStops to stay there in your motorhome and Steve and Mandy are working very hard on the scheme, which we fully support and recommend) is quite an upmarket place, but in a nice subtle way. It has all the appeal of a cosy village pub, with roaring log fire, views over the sea and splendid ale, but then its annex is a fairly posh affair, almost mimicking a Michelin Starred restaurant with its table layout.

The menu is amazing, and ranges from fresh local oysters, fish, steaks, traditional pub food- you name it. We both opted for a battered fish and chip dinner and a crisp bottle of white, and it was delicious.

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enjoying my fish and chips

After dinner we nipped Jazz out to walk it off and enjoyed the sunset.

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red sky at night, sailors delight..

After a blissfully quiet nights sleep we awoke and enjoyed a Harling Sausage Bap (The Harling sausage is a sausage made by our village butchers and it is delicious!)
Today’s plan was to do the 8 mile circular walk from Holme Next to Sea through Ringstead and Old Hunstanton. Sadly, we were unable to park at the car park at Holme next to Sea due to a ridiculous height barrier meaning we couldn’t get in! Sorry Holme, you just lost our £3:50 parking charge we would have happily paid and money at the kiosk on cold drinks! We carried on up to Hunstanton and found a suitable spot there, and therefore starting at a different point. The walk was lovely, it took in a stretch of the North Norfolk Coast Path and The Peddars Way, as well as some of the sand dunes along the coast between Hunstanton and Holme- interesting, as you walk right beside and then through the Golf Course!

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walking on the North Norfolk Coast Path, through the dunes, with the sea on one side and the golf course on the other

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walking towards Holme next to sea and looking back to Hunstanton

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walking through Ringstead Downs, a pretty area belonging to Norfolk Wildlife Trust

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a lonely medieval barn ruin

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the pretty school house in Ringstead

We had a great night away and have come home feeling like we’ve been on holiday- good job, as we are now busy with gigs for the next 3 weeks, but are looking forward to our 2 week trip later in August!

Are you off out in your van over the summer? If so, where? Need some serious holiday inspiration as ours feels ages away yet!

Until next time

Lx

France May 2014: Pt 6 D Day and the Normandy beaches

Bluebell the motorhome is parked up in the free aire at Arromanches Les Bains. We’re parked up alongside over 20 hired motorhomes that seem to belong to the BBC however they are unoccupied, infact – nosey pants here had a good look through the window of one (or five!!) earlier and the beds aren’t even made up? We’ve been told by the tourist office that the aire is closed until 10th June, but bearing in mind we’d already driven onto it, parked, had lunch and a wander by the time we found this out, plus there are 3 other non BBC vans here, we’ve decided to be brave and stick it out here. The security van has just done a round and seems happy for us to be here so that’s good enough for us! 20140529-214315-78195771.jpg
There’s not much breathing room in the spaces here, but it is free!

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Our neighbours- 20 odd hired motorhomes belonging to the BBC – although no one seems to be staying in them!!

Today we had a contemplative but pleasant drive along the Normandy coast, passing the pretty Courseuilles sur Mer, Deuville and Trouville. We’ve done this tour before ( read here ) but never made it Site Hillman, so that was our first stop today.

Site Hillman was given the code name HILLMAN by the Allies, and consisted of 18 concrete bunkers buried 4m deep and linked by tunnels. It was surrounded by minefields and barbed wire, and was defended by guns, machine guns, and armoured gun posts. On 6th June, the 1st Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment captured Hillman and the bunkers seem to have been untouched since.

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the entrance to Site Hillman

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It’s free to visit Hillman, and is very interesting, if not eerie! There are info boards dotted about – I’d highly recommend it as a place to visit

After our Hillman visit, we carried on to Arromanches as we were concerned that there are only 19 spaces on the aire there and didn’t want to not get a space! As it happened, we bagged the last space, so celebrated with lunch and a stubby. By this time, I’d noticed all the other motorhomes had BBC signs on the dashboard, and were infact hire vans, but we put it down to prep for all the coverage from here next week. Still not sure why they are in motorhomes and not hotels though!!

We got soaked on our initial walk into town, and had to retreat back to Bluebell for our waterproofs. It was then that we noticed the no access sign blocking the aire. This definitely wasn’t there when we drove in as we wouldn’t have been able to get by it. Still undetered, and suitably dressed in waterproofs, of course the sun came out as we returned into town. Nosey Norris aka me, went I to ask about the aire at the tourist office, where I was told it was closed til 10th June! :-/ I decided to keep quiet that we were infact parked in the aire and we carried on up to Port Winston via the free shuttle train!

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Soldiers patrolling the beach here at Arromanches – one of the anniversary events

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the view of Arromanches from the 360 degree cinema

After a good look around and soak up of the very busy atmosphere, plus a purchase of a couple of new stickers, we opted for crepes and a vin rouge which was delicious and then headed back to Bluebell. We’ve got an excellent internet Fon signal here thanks to motorhome wifi. After dinner we enjoyed an evening stroll into the town, which was more enjoyable as it was far less busy than earlier today. As much as we’ve enjoyed revisiting, the huge crowds were off putting- but seeing as this is one of the key sites of the Landing beaches, a week before D Day it’s hardly surprising.

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Next week, we’ve heard there is lots planned for the D Day anniversary itself- Chris Evans brings his Breakfast show here on Friday morning, there is a big concert and even a Prince William and Kate will be here. So no doubt they are already beginning the preparations and tightening security.

Once the anniversary celebrations are over, be sure to visit Arromanches if you haven’t already- seeing the remains of the landing platforms in the sea is really a humbling sight.

One final thought for tonight…

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Until next time
Lx