Ruby takes a prang

Isn’t it funny how your body copes with shock? Some people lash out, some people cry and sob, some people go numb. I’m guilty of all of those, but last Thursday I experienced a new reaction to a huge shock- absolute disgust and despair then this feeling that I was going to faint!

This was the scene that I was greeted with as I came out of one of my schools after my morning at work there.

Yup.

Did they leave their details?

Nope.

CCTV managed to pick me up arriving with no damage. But apparently I was parked in a blind spot. So the driver of the car had a lucky escape as we have no way of tracking them and the school won’t let me send a picture around the staff email as it’s “not their policy to do so and I was parked at my own risk”.

On the plus side, it’s revealed no rust and we weren’t hurt in an accident. It can be fixed for £300, which it will be once we return from the states.

Our Top 10 Campsites for Walkers

May is National Walking Month and organisations such as British Heart Foundation and Living Streets are promoting the benefits of walking.

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For us as dog owners we walk daily around our local area, the lengths varying depending on our schedule for the day. But when we travel in Ruby the VW Campervan, and Bluebell and Daisy the Motorhome, Ruby’s predecessors, part of the appeal for us is travelling to a new area and trying out new and longer walks. I read somewhere that one of the most popular activities for campers is walking, so it’s no surprise that when it comes to booking a break away we take into account the location of the campsite and whether we can walk from the site without having to drive. We like to try to avoid moving Ruby off the site once pitched up, so campsites that have footpaths directly from the door so to speak are of huge appeal to us.

To celebrate National Walking Month, Keith and I put together our top ten Campsite with Walk combinations.

  1. Walk: Helvellyn and Striding Edge whilst staying at Gillside Caravan and Camping Site

Gillside Campsite could not be better located for the path up to Helvellyn and Striding edge- the path actually runs though the campsite road. It’s right at the foot of the mountain and most importantly has a pub 5 minutes walk which is perfect for post walk celebrations!

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2. Walk: Scafell whilst staying at Wasdale Head Campsite

The Wasdale Head Campsite is a National Trust Campsite and is in a spectacular location. It’s not far to the main Scafell path, and also has the wonderful Wasdale Head Inn close by too. England’s deepest lake, Wastwater, is also a short walk away. This is true walkers country and you easily have a week or more here walking new paths everyday.

3. Walk: Hadrians Wall whilst staying at Herding Hill Farm

Herding Hill Farm is one of the nicest campsites we’ve stayed on (albeit one of the more expensive). Location wise is was fabulous, a short walk to one of the best sections of the impressive wall and also a lovely gorge walk down into nearby Haltwhistle too (where we had the best sausage roll ever!)

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4. Walk: Norfolk’s Coast Path whilst staying at Flint House CL, Walcott

The whole of Norfolk’s Coast Path is just lovely to walk on, but if we had to narrow it down to “best walk from campervan” it would have to be the stretch from Walcott to Happisburgh, where you are greeted by a magnificent colourful lighthouse. We walked to the lighthouse along the cliff top and back to Bluebell the Motorhome on the beach, which was about a 7 mile return walk. There is also a lovely fish and chip shop and pub in Walcott.

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5. Walk: Hole of Horcum whilst staying at Marfit Head Farm

We visited the Yorkshire Moors on our first trip in Bluebell back in 2012 and fell head over heels. I have a confession to make here, we cannot for the life of us remember where we stayed, it was near to Levisham and the Hole of Horcum walk. So, I’ve consulted Google and UKCampsite and listed a campsite which comes up top for that area (and walkable to The Hole of Horcum). Think we are overdue another visit. Another cool walk in this area takes in Brimham Rocks

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6.  Walk: Abereiddy Coast Line through the Blue Lagoon to Porthgain whilst staying at Camping and Caravanning St David’s Club site

 

This walk was a real highlight of our Wales trip last year. As you can see the weather helped. Don’t forget to pack your cossie if you fancy a dip in the famous Blue Lagoon and some change for Pembrokeshire Ice-cream in Porthgain.

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7. Walk: Tintagel whilst staying at King Arthur’s Car Park (Motorhome Stopover)

Whilst this isn’t strictly a campsite, it is a really cool place to stay overnight (and it’s legal!) Some smart minded local has opened up the car park right by the descent to Tintagel castle and allows motorhomes to park overnight for a small reasonable fee.

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8. Walk: South West Coast Path around Porthcurno Beach whilst staying at Treen Farm Campsite

Whilst you are down at Tintagel, you may as well combine it with our next favourite walk from Campsite, the South West Coast Path. We found ourselves in the Treen/Porthcurno area as we were visiting The Minack theatre to watch Keith’s brother and lots of our friends in a production there. Although we didn’t actually stay on Treen Campsite (because it was full) they were amazingly kind and let us empty and refill our waste and water tanks and then told us of an overspill field where we could stay next door. We had an absolutely CRACKING couple of days, with a walk down to Porthcurno Beach (not dog friendly in summer) and to the Minack. There are miles upon miles of coast path to walk on right from your front door and if the weather is good, like it was when we visited, there aren’t too many places I’d rather go to!

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9. Walk: Sandringham and Wolfreton whilst staying at Caravan and Motorhome Sandringham Estate Club site

We’ve actually done this walk a couple of times now, and each time got bowled over by Wolfreton Station – the former Royal Station. It’s a nice walk through our lovely Norfolk Countryside and of course takes in the Queen’s Estate of Sandringham. At the time we were members of the Camping and Caravan Club so stayed on their club site, but if your members of the Caravan and Camping Club then their Club site is near enough next door. Perfect for a weekend retreat, and if you haven’t visited Sandringham House, it’s well worth a visit – you get to see much more than Balmoral!

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10. Walk: Crag y Nos, Brecon Beacons whilst staying at National Showcaves Caravan site

We visited this site in 2011, in our first motorhome, Daisy! Our water pump had just blown so we needed an all singing and dancing campsite so we could carry on our holiday and just sleep and cook in Daisy. We enjoyed some lovely walks in the Brecon Beacon National Park right from our door. We also enjoyed our visit to the National Showcaves of Wales, which is also on site.

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And here’s a little Brucey Bonus – one that we have yet to walk but we are booked to do later this month…….

11. Walk: High Cup Nick whilst staying at Dufton Caravan Park

Here’s a little promo video Julia Bradbury did for her TV programme, Walks with a View, which is what inspired us to add it to our walking Bucket list. Looking forward to walking it ourselves and adding the photos in early June.

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So there we our favourite Campsite walks. But as we all know the UK is a beautiful and varied land, and so we know we’ve missed ones off the list, or have perhaps not done them ourselves. So we ask you, whats your favourite walk from a campsite? Comment below – we’d love to hear from you.

Until Next Time

Lx

Useful items that we take with us:

AA Walk Box

Garmin Memory Map

 

Ruby’s 1st Birthday! Happy Gotcha Day!

They say time flies, and this year certainly has!

We can hardly believe it, but this weekend marks a whole year of us downsizing from motorhome and car to Ruby the Veedub Campervan as our sole vehicle. When we were faced with the decision of having to wave goodbye to many years of motorhoming, we weren’t sure which direction to turn. We decided to give a small VW a whirl, swapping both our trusty Skoda and our beloved Bluebell the motorhome, but it was a snap decision and one we weren’t 100% sure would suit our needs. We are 1 year on now, so what better time to stop and evaluate how downsizing has worked for us so far.

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In short, I think we can fairly safely say that our downsizing project worked out pretty well! Despite Keith being 6 foot 4 and Ruby not having a pop up, we’ve coped well with the much smaller living space and have managed to avoid divorcing each other! In fact, we both enjoy the fact that managing the space once inside makes us feel closer and more together than ever, Keith often says he finds he does more when it comes to meal prep as he’s my right hand man, fetching utensils from all the hidey-holes his side of the van. I like the fact that everything is much more of a team effort these days, rather than what it sometimes was in Bluebell – more of me doing and Keith chilling (once parked up that is!)

We’ve managed 12 trips away in Ruby – ranging from a night just down the road, to a full scale 2.5 week tour of Wales. We’ve taken her across the water to Holland and France and clocked up nearly 10,000 miles of both business and leisure miles. We’ve also used her instead of hotel rooms when attending parties and we’ve wild camping in the middle of winter with no heating! We knocked up some amazing meals on the 2 burner hob and had some barbecues with views literally out of this world.

One main difference is that we’ve been using Ruby not only as a day to day vehicle, and obviously a campervan; but also we’ve been enjoying using her as a day van – cooking up lunches or serving tea and cake after a dog walk in a nearby village before heading home again. Next half term, I’m starting at a new School and Keith will be travelling with me, as we are both at the next school together. So whilst I’m teaching for an hour, Keith will be chilling in Ruby with a brew! So we feel like we really are utilising Ruby to her max potential.

We’re finding our rhythm with the booking of sites with showers for a couple of nights, before maybe a night off grid then another site with showers. Keith is being very brave and has washed away (ahem*) his habit of being Mr 2 showers a day. He’s found baby wipes are his friend and is nowadays happy to miss a shower for 2 days – 1 night! That is something that I never thought I’d write!

So a year on, despite Ruby having cost us a little more than we’d liked in various repairs, we are 100% sure that we’ve made the right decision. We are eagerly counting down the hours now until our next departure – which happily is this weekend; and have plenty of jaunts booked already for this year including our annual pilgrimage to Scotland and a really ambitious 3 week road trip to Southern Spain in August.

Our highlights of Ruby’s first year in the O’Gorman household are:

Utilising Ruby’s sliding door – a real treat after years in a motorhome – give us a view and we’ll knock up a meal and enjoy our very own rolling restaurant. Pic taken at Brancaster Staithe where we cooked up some fresh mussels from the fishmonger in Burnham Market.

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Ruby’s first night of Wild Camping, up in Scotland at the Black Mount viewpoint on the road to Glencoe. We had our most favourite BBQ at our most favourite viewpoint. Can’t wait to get back up to Scotland later this year.

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Taking Ruby to Holland to see the Tulips

Striding Edge and Helvellyn

Arisaig, Scotland

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Until Next Time, which won’t be long – YAY!

Lx

Winter Walks; North Elmham, Norfolk

Hasn’t this January been murky?! It’s no secret that many suffer with the dreaded “January Blues” and although I’m normally a very positive person (most of the time!) there’s been a few family issues that have disrupted my normal positive vibes this year and along with the horrid weather, this January I’ve therefore not been quite my normal self.

We decided this weekend to get out in Ruby just for the day and take advantage of the lovely county that we call home, Norfolk. Happily the weather Gods decided to cut us some slack and we were accompanied by something that’s been lost in action for the last few weeks; the sun ☀️

Keith raided our 30 Walks in Norfolk (AA 30 Walks in) (AA Walking in Series) walks and found an interesting one just down the road beyond Dereham, at North Elmham.

We threw a can of soup, some milk and water into Ruby and off we went.

Free Parking was at the English Heritage Saxon Chapel Site, so we had a little look around the ruins of that first which were excellent (and free).

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5 mile walk took us out of North Elmham and onto an old dismantled Railway Line, which regular readers will know, we enjoy exploring either on bike or on foot.

Whilst this is a bridle way, the path lends itself more to walking as it’s grassy (and in some parts muddy).

It’s not long before you reach a section of the track which has original tracks still in place. This leads to a fascinating, if not pretty eeery abandoned station, the former County School station. It’s complete with a former train, waiting area, and during summer months there is a tea room. It was fantastic and really atmospheric!

County School was built in 1873 but only survived as a school for 21 years, before being turned into a Naval College and then a Barnardos House, before sadly being demolished. You can read more here<<<
walk carried on beyond the station following the old track bed for a mile or so before we came off onto some very small and quiet lanes which we followed back towards North Elmham. The last section was through some vast woodland where we were treated to a great display of early snowdrops and aconites.

These never fail to put a smile on my face, so by the time we were back at Ruby the Campervan, we were feeling refreshed and revitalised. We enjoyed lunch and a cuppa before heading home.

If you are interested in walking, we highly recommend these AA walk boxes. Each walk is printed on a laminated card and has clear directions along with a map. They are a great size to store in the Campervan or motorhome.

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ou wanted to turn this walk into a mini break/ part of a Norfolk trip, nearby campsites are: Bylaugh Caravan Park or Four Acre Caravan and Camping Certified Location<<<
il next time

Lx

Prague Christmas Market 2017

Mid November, and we were having a lazy morning on a campsite in Norfolk. Keith was reading the paper and I was writing the blog. “Have we got any weekends free in December” he asks? “Errr no way” I reply – “what about any free days?” he counteracts. I look up and can almost see the cogs working overtime. “Whhyyyy?” I query.

Half an hour later, and we’ve managed to cram a mini break to Prague in on our only 3 days off in the entire month! He’s on Easyjet, I’m on AirBnB. What spurred this on? An article in the paper about the best Christmas Markets in Europe. Advertising at it’s best!

A few weeks later and we are frantically packing our cabin bags, between Christmas Concerts, Music Exam days, packing Ruby for our trip to Dad and Jenny’s in France for Christmas – leaving 12 hours after our flight from Prague gets in to Stansted. We’re both stressed to the eyeballs, absolutely SHATTERED and wondering, is this one trip too far?

In true Keith and Lydia style though, we manage to get to the bottom of our lists and before we know it we are taxi-ing down the runway at Gatwick. We land in Prague on time, despite some snow on the ground. No disruptions here though, life moves on despite a covering of snow on the ground.

On arrival, we order an UBER cab – so useful to avoid being scammed by local drivers, and half an hour later we are checking into our Prague City Centre Air BnB apartment. The apartment is fabulous, a really cool space, and a steal at only £60 a night. We love the convenience of Air BnB’s for city breaks. If you want to give one a go, use this link for £25 off your first stay.

After a quick shower, we head on down into the city centre, a short walk away.

As we get close to the centre, we start noticing little pop up Markets, all serving Mulled wine and litres of local beer. It would be rude not to try a sample, so just over an hour after touch down, there we are enjoying our first taste of Prague. We noticed a stall selling the most mouth watering pork on a spit – we could not resist a plate of this to go with our drinks.

We wandered down to the main square and got blown away by the level of cute christmas-ness. The Christmas Tree was magnificent. This was where the main market was, so we browsed some of the stalls, intermittently stopping to be refreshed of course!

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As the weather was clear, but it had gone dark, we decided to ascend the town hall tower, for an arial view of the market square. There was an interesting museum to wander round too, and we got to see the insides of the unusual clock figures of the astronomical clock.

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We decided to enjoy a rooftop cocktail just off the square, which felt magical, before having a traditional Czech meal of Beef Goulash, served within the bread roll. That was right up my street!

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After a couple more al fresco drinks and a wander over the picturesque Charlestown bridge, we wandered back to the apartment for an earlyish night.

Day 2, and we woke up early and eager to get on. Our apartment was conveniently located right by the Underground metro, which we hopped onto towards Prague Castle. After our tube journey, we picked up a traditional chimney cake for breakfast as we walked up the long staired alley up to the Castle area. By the way, the chimney cake was AMAZING!

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The first port of call for the Castle area was the Lobkowicz Palace which boasted having some original Mozart manuscript in it’s collection. It was a fantastic museum, and we near enough had it to ourselves, which suited us as we could get up and close and take our time.

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After our visit, we went to the very traditional Golden Lane and I brought some lovely handmade earrings. There were some amazing little boutique shops here.

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We visited all the Castle Complex sites, which were great, before heading back down towards the Bridge again, naturally stopping for a chocolate beer and some handmade Prague chocolates, at Prague Chocolate.

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We had a fabulous (and really cheap!) lunch at U Labuti, and loved the £1.55 beers! The problem with Prague, is that the food and drink is so flipping cheap, that we ended up having 5 main meals! Piggies – we just couldn’t resist ordering off the menu in each pub we went to.

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Our favourite had to be the EXTRAORDINARILY traditional, Golden Tiger. I was the only woman in there, and we were the only non Czech. The only thing to drink were endless pints of lager, which just kept being brought out to you. We adored it – and so did Bill Clinton by the looks of it from his picture on the wall.

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We had one last mooch around the market before a couple more drinks (and some more food!) before returning back to our apartment.

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48 hours in Prague had sadly come to an end, but we had had the most fabulous time. The architecture was just outstanding. Would certainly return and recommend for a cheap European city break.

Try Uber on us – it’s our go to on City Breaks and even further afield. The convenience of getting your driver details and location on your phone is brilliant when you’re in an unfamiliar location.

Until Next Time

Lx

 

 

Winter on the Werryman’s Way – Reedham, Norfolk, Nov 11th 2017

Apolgies this Blog Post is late! I’ve had horrendous computing problems but I’m now back up and running! Yay 😀

A couple of weeks back, Keith and I found ourselves with a completely free weekend! These do not seem to come around a lot these days – so when we saw that the weather forecast was looking good (cold but bright) we wasted no time in zipped off for a cheeky night away in Ruby the Campervan. Ruby was pleased as she hadn’t been used for camping purposes since our jaunt to Pembrokeshire in Aug!

Our chosen site for the night was Reedham Ferry Touring Park, which is an hours drive from us. Our journey took us through Diss, which was very handy as coincidentally “The Flying Scotsman” locomotive was due to be passing through mid morning. My Great Grandfather used to drive the Flying Scotsman for many years, so it was very excited for me to be able to see this glorious engine fully working and looking her best.

Diss Train Station was heaving with people, which was lovely – so many people had come out to see for themselves what a beauty she is.

As she approached the whole platform went quiet in awe! She’s stunning! I suppose I am officially a train spotter now! Here’s a video Keith took, as I got way too emotional – I’m my father’s daughter for sure!

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were lucky as the train was scheduled to stop for water here so we got about 15 minutes to admire her before she choo chooed off on her way to Norwich. Won't forget that day in a hurry.

We carried on up the A140 towards Norwich, stopping at our favourite Farmshop/ Britstop en route to stock up with some treats for our night ahead, before pulling onto the practically empty Reedham Ferry Touring Park (£19pn). First impressions were good, the toilets and showers were clean, warm and modern, pitches spacious and the River Yare just behind us. <<
ter a quick lunch of homemade Leek and Lemon soup we donned our walking boots and set off down the well trodden Wherryman's Way towards the village of Reedham. It wasn't far, and we intended on walked perhaps a little further than we did – but, in the 1 mile downstream (or is it upstream?) we passed a chain ferry, a swing bridge and not one, not two, but THREE dog friendly pubs, all selling the local Humpty Dumpty Brewery Ale (and a local Norwich Gin) and all with delightful river side beer gardens. So – in the interest of sampling the wares, we abandoned the walk, and turned it into a rather lovely pub-crawl! You can thank us later. The verdict on the ale by the way was that Little Sharpie was delicious and so was the Bullards gin!

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e Wherryman Way is a long distance footpath that runs along the River Yare from Norwich to Great Yarmouth. There are a number of circular walks running alongside the Wherryman's way, so its certainly one for us to return to.

The last of the afternoon light was simply spectacular and I don't think I can remember a more pleasant way to spend a Saturday in Norfolk.

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e pubs were The Ship , The Lord Nelson, Reedham and The Reedham Ferry. Watching the sun set over the River Yard with a Norwich gin in my hand was just perfect.

We popped back into the Ferry once the sun had gone down to enjoy the cosy log fire – although we didn’t eat, the food looked lovely and we will will definitely return.

Next morning dawned and the weather looked not so promising. We got up pronto and enjoyed a stall down the river on the Wherryman’s way in both directions. I just love the sound of the wind rustling through the reeds.

https://videos.files.wordpress.com/VpqsqLzx/img_3054.movIt was a lovely way to spend Sunday morning, and we even found some sloes to pick, so my Sloe Gin is currently infusing ready for Christmas.

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e campsite were happy for us to take our time departing as they were empty, so we enjoyed a really leisurely brunch before hitting the road home, feeling thoroughly refreshed.

Until Next Time

Lx

1 day in Niagara Falls, Canada side 🇨🇦

Day 9

Friday arrived and it was a very early start! Alarms went off at 6:30 although mum and Alec were up and sorting their cases from 05:30. We bid farewell to our Air b n b host Debra at 7:30 giving ourselves plenty of time to make the shortish drive to Boston Logan Airport- we had been warned about rush hour traffic!

We made a quick stop at Ocean Drive Salem to look at the house from Hocus Pocus- wow what a gorgeous house it was!

Wouldn’t you just love to be in that lookout tower watching the night sky?

We carried on towards the airport passing though some lovely sea view suburbs of Boston. As predicted the should have been 30 min drive took over an hour due to commuter traffic, but as commuter journeys go, this was a spectacular one.

We arrived at Boston Logan Airport, handed back our rental car, and made our way to the domestic flight terminal- we were catching the 10:20 Jet Blue flight to Buffalo, NY.

Jet Blue are extremely strict on luggage weight – most airlines these days seem to have a collective weight for your party- but not Jet Blue! Keith and I were both over weight (both our cases and our bellies lol!) so cue a mad 20 min reshuffle of cases!

We’d never taken an infernal flight before – and only had Ryan Air and sleazy jet ones to compare it to. Well, Jet Blue do internals very well indeed! Free Wi-fi – free hot drinks and a snack- in an hour and 15 min flight! British companies you should be ashamed.

Before we knew it we were landing at Buffalo airport- about half an hour drive from Niagara Falls. We picked our rental car up and got upgraded for free to this beast 👇 a $90,000 luxury SUV which took us almost half an hour to switch on!

Luckily it had an inbuilt sat nav as for the first time in the trip my copilot didn’t want to play ball. (I think I’d forgotten to download Canada whoops!

Crossing Rainbow Bridge into Canada was exciting- we saw the mist of the Falls for be first time and got a Canada stamp into our passports.

The weather was perfect and we had an hour before we could check in at our Niagara Falls apartment so we went to Niagara Falls Helicopters to see whether they could fit us onto a helicopter ride soonish. As luck would have it, we managed to get on the next ride. I am not a great flier and Alec and Keith had never been on a helicopter before (in fact, I wasn’t even sure Alec would do it, but fair play to him, he did!) so it was a pretty big experience for us all, and at £75 pp we felt not too badly priced.

The helicopter soon arrived and we were ushered on. My God. I’ve NEVER been so terrified in all my life, I actually was hyperventilating at one point, and in floods of tears! BUT – it was INCREDIBLE. the emotion when you see the perfect horseshoe shape of Niagara Falls from above is just beyond words. The view was AMAZING.

Don’t just take my word for it. Look at my mini video here

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nce back on the ground, it took my legs a good hour to stop trembling. We were all high with emotion and we hadn't even got close to the falls yet. We dumped the car and our bags at the apartment and walked the 10 mins down to Rainbow Bridge. It was then a further 20 mins walk along the river, first you saw the American Falls then Horseshoe Falls.

We were surprised how close you can get to the edge actually – everyone had told us that the Canadian side was the best view and I absolutely whole heartedly agree. Keith had a “moment”. We’ve been very lucky with where we have travelled to in the recent years, but I can honestly say Niagara Falls is one of the, if not THE most impressive thing we’ve ever seen. The sheer volume of water that just continually falls is just mind blowing. You HAVE to go!

Soon it was time step aboard The Hornblower (which is the Canadian side version of the famous Maid of The Mist boat) This 20 minute trip (you can’t book but they run trips every 10 mins) was amaaaaazing. We got DRENCHED but I cannot describe to you how incredibly awesome it is to be within that much water! At one point your entire field of vision is the water fall – it is HUGE and has most definitely ruined any future waterfall visits we may encounter!

We were supposed to eat at the Skylon Tower, which offer arial views of the Falls, but by this point we had already seen them via helicopter, viewing platform and by boat quite frankly, we were totally overwhelmed by what we had experienced, so we chose to enjoy a beer at the boat terminal and then wander up into the main strip to find some dinner.

Unfortunately the main town of Niagara is tackville and although we enjoyed a beer or two at the Niagara Brewing Company, our meal wasn’t great that evening. Mum and Al turned in as Mum had a nasty cold and we hadn’t stopped all day, and Keith and I wandered down to see the falls by night. I’ve ran out of words to decry how much we loved the whole experience – I reckon you get my drift!

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Next morning and it was up and out of our apartment BY 8am, back across the bridge into USA and the short drive to Buffalo airport where we caught our flight back to Boston Logan.

We had some time to kill before our evening flight so we caught the water taxi across the bay with all our luggage – which actually caused the small boat to shed water!

Part of the ticket cost meant we could leave our luggage at the Marriot Hotel right by the centre of Boston for free which is amazing as there are no left luggage facilities anywhere in the city otherwise! We had a couple of hours mooching before heading back to the airport for our night flight back to UK. What a fab trip!

For anyone who has not been to Niagara Falls – please go, it really is one of the most amazing places on Earth. And I reckon you could easily go for a long weekend from UK.

Until next time

Lx

2 Days in Marblehead and Salem, MA

Day 7

Wednesday arrived and it was time to wave goodbye to North Conway. It was fun place to base ourselves and it gets very busy during the ski season here. One of it’s other attractions is the shopping village on the outskirts of town, and we decided that seeing as it was pouring with rain still, we would indulge in a hour or so of mooching round the Outlet stores.

An hour later and I was dragging us out before we had to remortgage the house! Keith and I brought a couple of pairs of Levi jeans – K got the bargain of the century – £9 for a pair of Levis I think he paid! Mum and Al got a couple of Levi T Shirts. We then popped across to Tommy Hilfiger and I saw a leather jacket that I fell in love with, and at £65 rather than £150 was a bargain so I had to have that despite worrying about my luggage allowance! Mum found herself a pair of Vans.

We hit the road and carried on towards Massachusetts. Our next location was another Air B n B – this time more of a BnB basis where we had the top floor two bedrooms and the owner lived downstairs and provided breakfast. Before we could check in we had lunch in The Sail Loft in Marblehead which was a great find. We grabbed lunch and by then the rain was beginning to stop, hallelujah, so we enjoyed a little wander around the extraordinarily pretty streets of old Marblehead. The houses were wooden and oozed character, and they all had charming Fall decorations lining their steps and porches. There were some cute little stores and a seafood restaurant on the seafront that caught our eye so we made a reservation for dinner and headed towards our accommodation.

After a quick freshen up we decided to get our glad rags on – I was feeling a bit better so we poshed up and went for a corker of a seafood dinner at The Landing. On our way (I was DES!) we stopped for a drink at a historical tavern where we had a nice chat with some friendly locals, before making our way to the restaurant. Despite it’s prime location right on the seafront the prices were very reasonably priced, and we therefore ended up with a lobster dinner each. It was my first time (and Mum’s) – I have a phobia of shellfish with their antennas on (there must be a better word for that??) so much so that my girlfriends call us The Prawnettes because of it! So for me to have a lobster was a huge event – and my god it was flipping gorgeous.

Day 8

Today was non driving day as Marblehead is just on the outskirts of Salem and therefore a short UBER ride away. We started our days exploration of historic Salem by a tour of the Witches Museum which was very interesting and well presented. We all really enjoyed our visit.

After this we went to the oldest Witch House in Salem, which was fascinating and we event got to see John Proctor’s fork.

The rain was beating down again (boo) so we headed for lunch at the historical Lyceum Hall, which is where Alexander Bell made his first long distance phone call! It is now a seafood place and so we enjoyed a lovely seafood dinner. The clam chowder was gorgeous. Mum and Alec decided to take the trolley tour that afternoon, so Keith and I visited the house of the Seven Gables on our own – wow, that was so interesting. We even got to go and stand up in the gable and see some floorboards that were over 300 years old.

WE also managed to see Alison’s house from Hocus Pocus which was really cool as it’s such a great movie!

I’d read abut a gin distillery in Salem so naturally we had to visit. The walk was a little way out but eventually we found it hidden away, it had a speakeasy bar that is open certain hours, so we got to try some of the spirits in rather delicious cocktails.

There were some locals in there who couldn’t believe we had found the place – I get the impression that its off the beaten track for tourists – so glad we found it though. The gin had a very heavy green cardamom taste, but I loved it so brought a bottle to bring home. Visit Deacon Giles Distillery

We had dinner at the Howling Wolf, which despite being absolutely packed, gave us a very tasty meal at a ridiculously cheap price, before heading back to our air b and b to pack our cases up good and proper as we were heading to the airport for an internal flight tomorrow.

Until Next Time

Lx

New England in the Fall; A 2 day road trip through New Hampshire

Day 5

Monday dawned a typical Autumnal day and we were up and dressed fairly early. The car was loaded up (no mean feat seeing as we had a steep flight of stairs to navigate and HUMUNGOUS bags) As the shopkeeper open the country store, we settled our bill and hit the highway, stopping for some lovely Autumnal pictures along the way.

Our destination for today’s activity was the Mount Washington Cog Railway, the world’s first Mountain Climbing Railway. We were very lucky – the weather was PERFECT, not a cloud in the sky! We arrived early in case we got caught in traffic, so had a little shop in the gift shop and a picnic lunch whilst we waiting for our 1pm train to descend from the top.

Soon it was our turn to board, as we were lucky to be in the first of 3 carriages so we got a great view.

The Railway track was astoundingly steep in places, and the ascent took around 45 mins. You could get up and wander to the front to look out of the front window and the back window also had amazing views as we got higher.

We had just over an hour on the top of Mount Washington to explore the summit, which was about all we needed- it can reach up to 100mph winds up there, and even though the views were amazing it was flipping cold!

The return journey was in places terrifying, it was so steep! And just the brakesman at the front of each individual carriage operating the brakes. Absolutely marvellous engineering, we just loved our visit. Video highlights here.

It was about 45 mins drive to North Conway, a ski resort within the White Mountains, which would be our next base for 2 nights. We had hired another air b n b, this time we had an entire wooden house to ourselves, complete with hot tub! Happy days.

We were soon in there with a beer, before getting our glad rags on and heading for dinner. By the way, in New Hampshire they don’t measure out spirits – I ended up with a pint, yes a pint! of gin! Whooooah!

Day 6 – My Birthday!

Today was a non driving day as it was my birthday! Sadly the weather god’s hadn’t taken a note of this special day and it absolutely hammered down ALL Day. However, it wasn’t the end of the world as we had booked onto The North Conway Scenic Railwroad for a return journey through the very pretty Crawford Notch. After a pancake breakfast, we crossed the road to the train station ready for out 11am departure.

Our accommodation on the train was up in the dome – a raised area with glass roof which I’m sure in better weather would have been spectacular.

Sadly in the rain, it was a bit dismal and we were all a bit rough (ahem) We had waitress service throughout the journey and despite me thinking there would be no alcohol on board, there was, and so we enjoyed a relaxing train journey and a couple of cocktails. Not a bad way to spend my birthday.

The train turned around at Crawford station, and we headed back to North Conway.

Although we enjoyed the train ride, I don’t think it was anywhere near as spectacular as some of the others we’ve done in the past. If we had to choose one we would definitely recommend the Cog Railway over the Scenic Railway. Video highlights here

Unfortunately I was full of a head cold and therefore didn’t fancy venturing too far out for my birthday meal. However there was nice place a couple of doors down from our accommodation and so we enjoyed a meal and a couple of cocktails there before a relatively early night. Not before trying the most delicious bourbon I’ve tasted. Jim Bean MAPLE bourbon. 🥃 am-aaa-zing

< strong>Highlights of New Hampshire<<<<<<<<
hington Cog Railway

The road through Crawford Notch

Jim BeamMaple Bourbon

New England in the Fall; a 2 day Roadtrip through Vermont

Day 3

Keith and I got an Uber from our Boston city apartment to the airport, leaving Mum and Alec to finish their packing and have a quick clean up of our Air BnB. We weren’t abandoning them, we just felt the process of hiring our Rental car would be quicker and easier as a twosome rather than a four – and it also saved us having to lug all our luggage back to the airport.

We hired our Medium sized SUV from Dollarcar and for 6 days with unlimited mileage it came in at around £200. The pick up process was quick and easy and we were left to our own devices to go and pick the vehicle we wanted.

We chose a lovely white Kia Sorento and half an hour later I was making my American driving debut. Initially it was terrifying given that the airport is slap bang in the middle of the city. And the driving in Boston reminded me of the driving in Delhi! OMG. But I soon got used to it- basically no rules, expect the unexpected, and Keefy was a fab co pilot. Talking of Co Pilots – Colin the Co Pilot (my iPhone Map system) worked a treat – I had downloaded the whole of America offline for £19.99 and it was brilliant.

We picked up Mum and Alec from the apartment along with all the luggage – which JUST fit in the back – wow we sure don’t travel lightly! We drove past Harvard University before picking up the Highway, where it didn’t take too long at all before we started seeing some phenomenal Autumnal colours on the roadside trees.

Around 3 hours later we were rolling into Wilmington, which is where we were picking up the Scenic Highway 100. Just before Wilmington there was the most beautiful scenic lay-by, which turned out to be one of my favourite views in Vermont.

We stopped for lunch at the Village Roost in Wilmington, before heading North on the Scenic Highway 100, which offered fabulous views as the road wound up and around various ski resorts. The villages were fairly small and remote really, and the houses just so charming – all wooden with picture perfect porches. You could just imagine kicking off your shoes, jumping in one of the comfy chairs and watching the world go by.

Not too far into our journey on the Scenic Highway, we stopped off at the Vermont Country Store in Weston. This is one of the oldest Country Stores in America and dates from the 1940s. It is huge – and here is a tip – don’t go in hungry (or do if you fancy a free lunch- so many samples available!) Wow, what a place – thank goodness we were flying in and out of America and therefore had to consider weight limits, otherwise my credit card would have had a right battering! It was filled with local meats, cheeses, chutneys, jams, maple based products, local alcoholic beverages, clothes, games, old fashioned sweets, kitchenware – oh the list goes on. We brought some maple syrup and some hot Apple Cider (none alcoholic) and made our escape. Certainly worth a visit though – what a lovely shop!

We carried on to our next Air BnB, which was near to Woodstock, with plenty of picture stops on route.

The apartment was a charming loft conversion above a country store. Another chance to buy tons of local produce!

The owner met us and was very friendly – she said they operated an honesty system, basically leaving the shop open for us overnight and if we fancied midnight munchies we could just go down and help ourselves – make a note of what we had and settle up when we leave. She would also prepare us a breakfast basket each morning and leave it at the bottom of our stairs! How cute!

Once we had got over the fact that we all had to share a room (ahem) we got our glad rags on and went for a meal. Unfortunately the downside was that there was nowhere within walking distance, however I didn’t mind driving.

Day 4

Sunday dawned cooler than what we’d been used to on the previous days but it was still clear. We were up relatively early and on the roady 9am. Today’s destination was the Northern part of Vermont. We had fun driving over the historical covered bridge opposite our accommodation – these are a common sight in Vermont and are really pretty.

We carried on just down the road to Quechee Gorge, which is billed as New England’s answer to the Grand Canyon. It’s a steep gorge with a tree lined river running at the bottom and you get a good view from both the bridge at the top and on the river level at the bottom, after a mile or so hike.

Back to the car and our next location was somewhere which I was very excited about – The Ben and Jerry’s Factory!

It was definitely an indulgence for me this stop, I adore Ben and Jerry’s! As you got out of the car, the air carried the smell of ice cream. Yum. We signed up for the next tour, which was 30 mins long and although nothing too special, it was really cool to be there and you got to see briefly where the magic happens!

Next stop was Stowe, home to the Von Trapp Family Lodge – the place which they escaped to from Austria. It’s in a really pretty area and is a ski resort from end of November. The scenery was gorgeous, although the town was more spread out than we imagined which made it hard to explore on foot.

We had a fabulous meal at Piecasso, which specialise in pizza – of course Keith HAD to have the large (just for himself!) ! Oink! It made a good picture though lol and tasted gorgeous.

Alec was nominated to try the local beer “Heady Toppy” – I’d read about it, apparently its voted the best beer in the world. Well, at 8% it must be one of the strongest! Keith really enjoyed the Von Trapp beer. Mum had a Stowe Cider which she loved. I had wait for it……. a tap water as I was in charge of Kelly the Kia.

We started heading back towards our digs along the Scenic Route 100, but this time North to South. We managed a stop at a local distillery to pick up some Bourbon with Maple and some small batch gin. Both of which are gorgeous! We also stopped at the Cider Mill where we had some fresh apple juice, hot cider and I tried the cider donuts, which were good.

We opted for a chill that night as we had been non stop since arriving. It was nice to catch our breaths for an evening – the boys fell asleep by 9 and Mum and I caught up on Strictly.

Vermont Highlights

  • Wilmington
  • Quechee Gorge
  • Ben and Jerrys Factory
  • Vermont Country Store
  • Stowe- esp Piecassimo Pizza and Von Trapp Beer/Stowe Cider