Adventures in Edinburgh

Thursday

Gandalf the VW has today crossed the Scottish border for the first time in our ownership. We love travelling to Scotland and always look forward to our annual pilgrimage “ooop north”.

Our first stop , and home for the next three nights is Mortonhall Caravan park on the outskirts of Edinburgh, a city which draws us in time and time again.

Following our three nights off grid in Whitby this site seems huge in comparison! We last stayed here 10 years ago and it looks like not much has changed apart from perhaps growing in size and now including glamping options such as shepherds huts etc. It’s a great location for visiting Edinburgh and beyond, but pricey at £35 pn. Having said that our pitch (although not all pitches) is large and fairly private, and we made full use of the hot showers and washing up block today! Endless hot water always is a treat after a few days of using the kettle for showers!

Our journey here was really smooth, helped by the decent weather which again wasn’t forecasted. Taking the A19 as far as Morpeth really cut out the nastiness of the A1 around Newcastle. We even went in the Tyne Tunnel, £1.90 and a first for us!

We stopped for provisions at Asda at Dunbar , confidently located directly on the A1, and our final stop was at a farm Shop at the gates of our campsite; Edinburgh Farm Shop situated in Mortonhall Garden Centre. The farm shop was well stocked and the owner was so knowledgeable about his local cheeses and meats. We stocked up before checking onto our pitch and setting up camp.

Tonight’s dinner was a delicious BBQ, which included the best sausages I’ve ever tasted, a pork and haggis sausage and buffalo beef burgers served with local potatoes and roasted courgettes and tomatoes. We had an after dinner cheese board, courtesy of Highland Fine Cheeses in Tain. These cheeses were exceptional!

We have a feeling it won’t be the quietist of sites here, there’s already been a fair amount of walking across our pitch and we can hear noise and ball games despite it being 9.35pm we shall see! However we are thrilled to be back in Scotland sampling her finest culinary delights.

Friday

Well last night wasn’t the quietist of nights, up until 11pm there was a constant hum of chitter chatter, kids screaming and balls being kicked. We had a number of pitch invaders too- one who got the sharp end of my tongue as they nearly demolished our sun canopy, almost tripping over our guy lines as they ran through across our pitch.

Having said that, it did quieten down after 11 and remained quiet until gone 07:30 this morning, so we did end up getting a decent nights sleep.

We enjoyed a cooked breakfast on the cadac before jumping on the bikes. Today’s plan was to see some hidden Edinburgh gems. We come to Edinburgh quite frequently as Keith’s cousin lives here, but this weekend he’s away cycling around the Hebrides so we’re on our own. This is the first time we’ve had bikes with us so we decided to cycle from Mortonhall to the Royal Observatory to enjoy the fine view over Edinburgh, before picking up the John Muir way, a 192 long distance path that runs from Falkirk to Berwick and through Edinburgh.

The first highlight of the trail for us was the tunnel which runs underneath Holyrood Park; the Innocent Railwaiy tunnel. The Innocent line, was a horse-drawn railway line connecting St Leonard’s and Dalkeith. Completed in 1831, it was Edinburgh’s debut railway, and its tunnel is one of the oldest in the United Kingdom. We really enjoyed our cycle through this!

Next up, the John Muir way exits Edinburgh through the subhurds, on a decent off road path skirting below Arthur’s Seat and out towards Musselburgh. We particularly enjoyed the section alongside Bruntstane Burn.

At Musselburgh, and it’s picturesque harbour, the JMW follows the sea all the way to Prestonpans.

It’s really beautiful and we saw seals along the seafront and beach. The weather was holding off – we’d had some drizzle as we left the Royal Observatory, and it had become a pleasant day.

We continued into Prestonpans, really enjoying the views and the smells of the sea, and paused for a refreshment stop at the Goths at Prestonpans. We shared a 2 course set lunch (we only really wanted a snack) but our haggis Bon bons and grilled local haddock was absolutely stunning- and a steal at just £10.95.

By this point we’d clocked up 15 miles from the campsite (10 from the centre of Edinburgh) so we turned back and retraced our steps until Musselburgh where we then broke away from the John Muir Way and followed quiet B roads back to Mortonhall Campsite. What a cracking day!

(Our route today in purple)

We stopped for a drink at the (almost) on-site Stables Bar which was really very nice and not like a clubhouse at all, before settling in for the evening on site.

You can tell it’s a Friday – lots of new arrivals today, the site is HEAVING. More people brings more noise, and therefore we would NOT recommend this site to anyone who wants some peace and quiet. It’s quite a contrast to where we stayed at the beginning of this trip and I’m itching to return to the tranquility of our beloved CLs (luckily the rest of the trip is made up of solely CLs!)! I’ve never heard a campsite so noisy – Keefy thinks some of the European sites were like this and perhaps he’s right but for UK campsites, this hands down is the most noisiest. Location however is excellent!

Here’s to hopefully silence at 11pm 🤞

Saturday

Saturday dawned damp and drizzly so we enjoyed a lie in, not getting out of bed til gone 10am. The campsite did quieten down around midnight last night but if you’re after peace this one perhaps isn’t for you!

We had a light breakfast before boarding the number 11 bus to Edinburgh City: conveniently situated right outside the gate to the campsite.

The location of Mortonhall campsite really is exceptional- 45 mins later and just £1.90pp each lighter (and dogs free!) we were disembarking in Edinburgh City centre. We’ve been to Edinburgh many times before, in fact I lived here for a month back in 2007 when I came up to play for a fringe show and Keith’s cousin lives here (although he’s currently cycling around the Hebrides) so today wasn’t really a tourist day as we’ve done most of the attractions this wonderful city has to offer. We did however enjoy a walk up Calton Hill for a lovely view of the city, and we also witnessed the daily 1pm canon fire from the castle (purely by fluke might I add!) – a historic event which happens daily to allow the sailors at Leith to synchronise their watches.

We took a leisurely walk to the bottom of the Royal Mile (cannon gate) and enjoyed a beer at Kilderkin and haggis neeps and tattles, which whilst being delicious had to be sent back because they were atone cold in the middle… twice!

We then had a drink at Holyrood 9c which has to be the most dog friendly place we’ve ever been- Jazz even got treats brought out on a silver platter!

We enjoyed a walk up the Mile, although it was much quieter than normal. The Fringe festival will run this year but doesn’t start til next week. The tattoo is cancelled. We felt it was much quieter than this time last summer which surprised us both.

We just love the architecture in central Edinburgh, and our favourite area is around the Grassmarket area in Old Town.

It was around here where we had a very strange experience this afternoon.

We were sat in Bow Bar, a pub in the old town that we’d picked because of its sheer dog friendly ness. Not long after we got our drinks, Jazz had a really funny turn. He usually is absolutely happy as Larry in pubs and will sit for hours either watching the world go by or sleeping under the table. But this afternoon, in this specific pub, he suddenly shot out of the way of the table and then started shaking extremely aggressively and uncontrollably. It was terrifying and no matter what we did to try to calm him he would not stop and kept trying to pull out of the bar.

We both started to panic, worrying he’s been poisoned or something awful, so left drinks and got the heck out of there. As soon as we got outside and off West Row, he calmed down and returned to normal. We were obviously relieved but decided to monitor him so sat elsewhere for sometime and he was absolutely fine. Something had clearly spooked him. A few hours later we were still trying to make sense of it and we learnt that West Row and that specific area that the bar was was once home to Major Tom Wier who was executed there for bestiality. Neither of us are sure what we make if that to be honest but it gave us goosebumps- even more so when hours later Jazz refused to walk back up West Row! Strange or what?!

Despite our strange turn of events we enjoyed our day pottering around Greenmarket – it’s always great to be in Edinburgh and we always like a city break when we can.

We caught the bus back from Princes street around 8pm and spent the rest of the night chilling. Happy to report Jazz is absolutely fine still.

Tomorrow it’s time to move on up north again! We’re always a bit sad to leave Edinburgh l, and whilst this campsite isn’t my favourite of our trips, the location is just superb, so if you are looking for a cheap way to enjoy a city break this is really a very convenient place to stay. Just bring ear plugs in the school holidays!

Adventures on the North Yorkshire coast

Monday

Gandalf the Campervan is parked up on a wonderful “off grid” Caravan and Motorhome club CL, a small 5 van site, with no facilities or hook up (other than loo disposal and tap/bin). We’re perched on the edge of the N York Moors with views of the sea and Whitby Abby; just 4 miles away. Deneside Field is just £7 pn- what a bargain!

Our journey here today was relaxed – we set off around 10:30am and arrived just after 4pm with a couple of comfort stops. The stretch leading up to Whitby from the A1 was stunning!

We’ve got the bikes with us as this is our first stop of a 2.5 week tour of the East Coast, so set up took slightly longer but, we’re here for 3 days so we want to be comfortable on site. The weather is far better than predicted, in fact there’s not a cloud in the sky and the sea looks rather Mediterranean like!

We had a chill at the site tonight, enjoying the views and the peace and quiet- there is only one other Caravan here. Perfection! Dinner was sausage, mash and beans- a simple but tasty supper to enjoy after a long journey north.

View from site: Whitby Abby in the distance and the sea behind

We’re excited about exploring the local area as it’s been a number of years since we were last in Whitby and Robin Hoods Bay.

Tuesday

Tuesday dawned bright and beautiful; a nice surprise as the forecast wasn’t so optimistic! We had a lazy morning, enjoying the views and enjoying bacon sandwiches before prepping the bikes and hitting the road towards Whitby.

One of the draws for us to return to this area was to explore the Cinder Track, a disused railway line that runs from Scarborough to Whitby- a total distance of 21 miles. Our site isn’t directly on the Cinder track so before we could enjoy any of it we had to navigate our way to an appropriate entry point. We consulted Ordanance Survey and found a route which took in a quiet road and a bridleway, which looked appropriate. Well, let me tell you. It was not!! We ended up pushing our bikes nervously for around 1.5 miles on this hardcore mountain bike trail through a forest. The path was not suitable for us one bit, and whilst now, thinking back it seemed an adventure at the time, in reality it was bloody awful! Although it was pretty!

Luckily once we got onto the Cinder Track things dramatically improved, the surface was a dream on our electric bikes and the gradient unnoticeable.

It wasn’t far at all to Whitby but we enjoyed the scenery, a highlight was going over the Larpool Viaduct. They’re were some beautiful bridges to pass under. It had lived up to our exceptions and made the previous hour of horribleness worthwhile!

Whitby was heaving! Properly busy! Too busy to enjoy if I’m honest; although that’s perhaps a bit harsh as we had a lovely day. It’s just we’ve not been around that volume of people for so long- I found it a bit scary! The weather gods were on our side though, we enjoyed blue skies and a gentle breeze.

We had a fish and chip lunch from Papas, not the famous Magpie- although Papas was named the best fish and chips in UK according to a recent BBC competition. (They were goooood!)

We washed the fish and chips down with a couple of drinks over looking the harbour, before tackling the 199 stairs up to the Abby. The Abby is English Heritage and fairly pricey to get in at £13 pp (free for members) instead we enjoyed a Whitby lager at the tap house and brewery opposite which has brilliant views of the Abby. It always makes me laugh on the stairs at Whitby… ALL you can hear is people around you either counting the steps or discussing if it is indeed 199 or is it 197 (or any other number for that matter!)

After an ice cream at the bottom of the steps we collected our bikes – we’d parked them by Papas fish and chip bar- and made our way back to Gandalf. This time we continued to Hawkser on the Cinder Track before exiting and taking a quiet road route back to our campsite- 2.5 miles of hills, some steep, but our E bikes were TREMENDOUS!

Tonight is spent having a chill – enjoying the non rain!

Wednesday

For the first time in what’s seems an age, we slept in until 09:15 this morning! It was a little showery so we decided not to rush about, which was nice not to be working to a timescale for once. We set off from the campsite around 11ish – on the bikes towards Hawsker to pick up the Cinder track once more. We took the road route and as we’re not on hook up, turned our bike batteries off, choosing to save the battery for the homeward journey later. We therefore pedalled our way up down, up down etc to the cinder track- feeling very proud of ourselves when we reached it!

Our recommended route to the Cinder Track from Deneside Field CL

The cinder track to Robin Hoods Bay is only 3 miles and it’s a glorious section, with sea views dominating the majority of the journey. There was a steep cut bank at one point, making it easy to imagine trains travelling along here from 1885 to 1965 when the line was frequented by trains carrying goods and passengers along the Scarborough to Whitby line.

Cinder Track Leaflet

We found bike parking easily in Robin Hoods Bay so made our way by foot down the hill to the sea front. We love Robin Hoods Bay; it’s been a number of years since our last visit, and it was just as nice as we remembered. The quaint fisherman’s cottages line the street and the non tacky shops with just a couple of pubs, tea rooms and b and bs are right up our street.

The weather was behaving beautifully and we enjoyed a drink in front of the Bay Inn- the official end of the Coast to Coast walk, overlooking the cliffs towards Scarborough.

After a crab roll from the local fish shop on the beach, we took emergency cover as a thunderstorm passed over us.

Luckily this coincided with the Smugglers, a 400 year old very atmospheric dog friendly wine bar, opening so we took shelter inside, until the rain stopped and we could make our way back to the bikes and onwards back home.

We retraced our steps following the cinder track back to Hawsker and then gleefully switched on our batteries to get us back to Gandalf – up down, up down etc etc.

Dinner was a delicious chicken curry before a night of relaxation and enjoying the view for one final night

Tomorrow we move on north to Edinburgh. We’ve absolutely loved our time here- especially enjoying being off grid, and relying solely on solar power has felt liberating actually. The site is wonderful, and whilst there is a bit of road noise (mainly farm traffic) it does quieten down after dark. The views towards Whitby and the sea are gorgeous. It’s perhaps not the best places for the Cinder Track, but we’ve managed well. There are a couple of other sites directly on the track which were full when we were making reservations. Having said that we’ve really loved this site, and armed with either a car, or electric bikes you really can enjoy the local area easily, and cheaply- and remember it’s just £7pn!

Until Next Time

Lx

Adventures by the beach; in Bacton, Norfolk

Gandalf the VW is parked up on a gem of a CL (small 5 van site associated with the Caravan and Motorhome club). I’m almost loathed to share this one- it’s a proper gem. But in the spirit of “Sharing is Caring” , here goes!

We’re staying at Buttercup Meadow, a large field with no hook up or facilities, just a tap, loo disposal point and bins. It’s just £11pn, and best of all, Whilst we can’t SEE the sea, we can hear the waves rolling in- just the other side of the raised bank which borders the site, and offers some protection from the sea breeze.

There is a gate which leads down a sandy drive and within 5 mins (less probably!) walk you are greeted with the most gorgeous Sandy dog friendly beach we’ve seen in Norfolk. And we’ve been to most of the East Anglian beaches during our decade + here. It is superb!

We arrived just after 12:30, stopping on route at nearby Happisburgh (pronounced Hazeburg) with its picture perfect red stripy lighthouse and wonderful fishmonger.

We stocked up on fresh fish for dinner, arrived on site, set up, had lunch and then had the rest of the afternoon on the beach, reading, drinking mojitos, larking around in the sea and snoozing. Just what two exhausted music teachers needed!

Dinner was a delicious fish bbq, accompanied by a spectacular sunset and full moon combo!

Sadly this was just a one nighter – we absolutely could have spent a week here- especially given the weather and the fact our solar panel was performing a treat. But- we were up and away very early Friday morning as Lydia had some very special Bridesmaid duties to enjoy at her best friends hen do in Stratford Upon Avon, which is where Gandalf transported her to in the afternoon.

Gandalf’s had a makeover 😉 💕

Stratford was lots of fun and I came home promising to take Keefy and Jazz sometime soon for a mini break.

Until next time- which is VERY SOON!

😉

Lx

Adventures in Eastbridge, Suffolk

Gandalf the VW is parked up on a glorious field in Eastbridge, in the heart of Suffolk and not too far from Minsmere and Dunwich. We’re on a C&CC certified site with no hookup, and just a tap, loo and chemical disposal. At just £9 for the night, we are very happy campers indeed. Eastbridge Farm, Suffolk

Yesterday we finally got our new solar panel fitted to the pop top ; after over a year of uming and ahing- a change of van, and then a long wait for our trusty caravan serviceman, Simon from Thetford Caravan Service- who is FLAT OUT! Yesterday was finally the day!

I’m not going to lie; our hearts were in our mouths as we watched Simon drill into Gandalf’s roof, but he did a marvellous job. We opted for Sunpower 110v flexible solar panels sitting on our pop too and this weekend ended up being the perfect test as we enjoyed the hottest weekend of the year so far.

Saturday dawned hot, and we were very thankful for our air con as we made the hour journey to Eastbridge via Morrison’s. By 1pm we had arrived set up camp. The weather was top notch, and we enjoyed a major chill for the entire afternoon; snoozing, reading and listening to music.

We are two days from breaking up from the summer and officially almost burnt out. The chill in the sun did a very good job at recharging our own batteries, never mind the solar panel charging the leisure battery. We kept checking the solar panel and couldn’t believe that we were drawing 5vs into the leisure battery. Most importantly the Prosecco and beer was ice cold.

Dinner time soon arrived and we bbqed a great big slab of steak with sausages – absolutely delicious; before thinking perhaps we should take a walk, so walked the 5 mins max to the local pub the Eels Foot Inn- an Adnams freehouse.

On our return to camp we set up our new piece of kit, a folding handmade fire pit. A student that we have both taught for over 10 years goes to Uni this summer so we received this immensely thoughtful homemade gift- handmade and designed by her mum. Isn’t it fab!

We slept like logs, and before we knew it Sunday morning had arrived. The cows mooing provided a gentle start to our Sunday morning, and as the sun rose the heat soared! We got out our sun canopy and had a light breakfast before packing up camp and heading to nearby Dunwich Beach.

We were joined here by both our mums, and Keefy treated them to a delicious fish bbq on the beach for lunch. That cadac safari chef 2 is really versatile and perfect for moving it around to find a picturesque cooking spot.

We spent all day on the beach – mum and I drinking mocktails pretending we were in Greece (we were both driving!) Several swims in the sea were enjoyed and before we knew it it was time to make our way home. We may have only been way for just over 24 hours but we feel recharged ready to tackle the last two days of a very unusual year of music education and performance!

We’ve got loads planned for the summer in Galdalf; we can’t wait to take you along with us on the ride.

Lx

Adventures on the Marriott’s Way

Gandalf the VW Campervan is parked at Eves Hill Farm, a C&CC certified site in Norfolk on the outskirts of Reepham. We should have been in Wales this weekend, but two absolutely bonkers weeks at work, along with a middle weekend moving my mum, meant that by the time Thursday came along Keith and I were running on fumes- and I think that’s an overstatement! Sadly we we’re just too tired (and felt quite ill) to make the 5 hour journey each way for just two nights near to Bodnant Gardens, so we had to send our apologies and add the Laburnum archway and stunning gardens that are featured in the newest Secret Garden film onto a list for next year.

Instead we got some well needed rest on Friday and had a regroup. We managed to book a last minute pitch at Eves Hills Farm for the night on Saturday- a mere 40 min drive from home felt much more palatable and we were able to take our new bikes with us to try them out on the nearby Marriott’s Way– a disused railway track now turned into leisure path.

We’ve cycled this a few times before, and it remains a favourite place for us to head off to for just a night.

2019 Marriott’s Way trip

2015 Marriott’s Way

Eves Hill Farm was a perfect base. Just a couple of miles outside of Reepham – which we stopped at before hand to stock up on local sausages and bacon for breakfast from the butchers, and cheese from the deli next door. What more did we need? Homemade burgers from the campsite of course! Luckily for us Eves Farm have their own herd of Hereford cattle and make their own steaks and burgers. Bbq ready for later, and a cheese board for lunch set us up for an afternoon of cycling. The 2 miles back into Reepham were a doddle on our E bikes and we were soon on our way on the Marriott’s Way.

We decided to head south on the trail and stopped for refreshments after around 7 miles at Whitwell Station.

We enjoy stopping here, there is very often some steam train activity to watch.

Video highlights of bike ride

We decided to make our way back to the campsite, we’d noticed a charming looking pub at Reepham which we enjoyed a drink at before arriving back at the campsite totalling up 18 Miles’s – a breeze on these e bikes!

The campsite has a fairly decent shower (along with washing up station with hot water!) so we ditched our diy awning shower in favour of an electric shower before dinner, which was a delicious bbq followed by local strawberry’s and clotted cream. Perfection!

Sunday dawned grey however we had a lazy start and enjoyed a full English breakfast before packing up. The campsite was able to accommodate a late check out so we explored more of the Marriott’s way, this time heading north to Aylsham.

Marriott’s day video day 2

Lovely Daisy’s

We had coffee and cake at Aylsham station, which links with the Bure Valley Way, before taking the back roads to return to the campsite. Aylsham is another good place to watch the steam trains.

Our last trip to Bure Valley Way

The joy of this was when we passed a fantastic French gothic church – Booton church- with its twin towers and phenomenal hammered roof and carved angels.

It’s nickname “the cathedral of the fields” really is accurate. What a fabulous building.

From here we continued past the campsite to Little Witchingham- to another historical church; this one an abandoned church saved from demolition when stunning medieval wall paintings were discovered dating from the 15th century.

The intensity of the paintings was incredible, and the remoteness of the church and its abandonment certainly added to its charm!

We cycled the 2 miles from here back to Eves Hill, clocking up over 21 miles on total.

We are thrilled with our new E Bikes!

Keith held onto his Aldi Vitesse Rush – my Aldi one was faulty so I now have a Pendleton Somerby E bike from Halfords. I’m in love with it!

We’ve got a couple of weeks at home coming up as we have our Mot and then we are having a solar panel fitted to the roof, but on just 3 weeks we’ll be off out on numerous trips. We can’t wait!

Until next time

Lx

Adventures in the South Downs; Part 2- Arundel Castle and Fishbourne Roman Palace

Tuesday arrived bright and sunny, just as the weather forecast predicted and after a delicious smoked haddock and poached eggs we packed away in the blistering heat and made our way the short way to Arundel Castle. We were extremely thankful for Gandalf’s air con!

On arrival at Arundel, we parked in the public car park opposite the castle which is large enough for the biggest of motorhomes, and made our way to the Castle entrance. First impressions were absolutely excellent- Arundel Castle looks like a fairytale castle when you scratch the surface, but delve a little deeper and you realise that it’s a mix of both Medieval and Victorian, with a medieval keep high on a motte and then these wonderful big ramparts and towers.

Inside the castle you can see a fair bit. We were particularly interested in the history of the seat of the Duke of Norfolk – as back in the 1600s in the next village to us, Kenninghall- the duke of Norfolk had a Manor House which got destroyed. There is a fair bit of history regarding this Manor House so when we get home we will set about trying to research this some more.

In the pictures above- the one in the bottom right hand corner is a beautiful decorative table made out of tiny mosaic segments. The library is exquisite.

Outside of the castle, the gardens are terrific; and the irises just looked superb. There is a lovely rose garden along with a water garden. We really enjoyed our time visiting!

After our visit we went for lunch at the Red Lion on the high street which was lovely.

We then moved on to our next location of this surprise trip for Keefy’s birthday. 30 mins beyond Arundel is Chichester- and our home for the next two nights was a very lovely C&MC certified called Fir Trees on the outskirts of Chichester.

We settled into our lovely pitch, this time with EHU , and had an hour or two basking in the sun on our inflatable chairs. The site is a huge grass (but very short grass) field -with impeccable chemical loo point, Keefy tells me!

We had a bbq for dinner – chicken kebabs and swordfish, before having a very early night. I was exhausted and my foot was still playing up!

Wednesday arrived and I broke the news to Keefy where we were going today; Fishbourne Roman Palace which was conveniently just 4 miles down the road and an easy cycle. We made our way onto the Salterns Way- a cycle route up to Chichester and down to West Wittering. We rode north past very pretty harbours and house boats and stopped for an early lunch at the amazingly beautiful Dell Quay. We felt like we were at the Mediterranean!

After lunch of crab burgers, we continued up to Fishbourne Roman Palace. We really enjoyed our visit. It was much bigger than Bignor- the size of this plot was huge and there were lots of mosaic to see. The layout of the visitors centre made it very easy to imagine the scale of the site here. They still don’t know who lived here but given it’s size we felt sure the emperor must have visited if not lived here.

From here we joined the aptly named Centurian Way, a disused railway route now turned into a traffic free cycle path. It gets its name from the Roman Road that it loosely follows and has some interesting sculptures not to mention terrific railway bridges along the way.

The Centurian way runs 6 miles each way from Chichester to West Dean.

We stopped a couple of times to pretend we were Roman drinking red wine from travel cups, before just as we turned back my bike broke! 🤦‍♀️ we’re not entirely sure how it happens but the cog that carries the chain bent at a 45 degree angle. Lucky for us we were near a pub which lent us a mallet and a screwdriver to get me back on the road home.

Had this not have happened, we were intending on following the Saltern way again all the back down to West Wittering, and I’d also hoped to visit Bosham, but we’ll have to save that for another time.

Dinner tonight was ribs, chilli and Mac n cheese – before a big chill. We are moving on again tomorrow and won’t be camping for the actually day of K’s bday. Whilst we both have had an AMAZING week, he has drawn the line at having to deal with chemical loos on his 50th bday. He has no idea where we are going to- but I’ve promised him he won’t have to drop his (or my!) plops 😂

Until next time

Lx

Adventures in the South Downs: Part 1- Bignor Roman Villa

Gandalf the Campervan is parked up on the very pretty North Stoke Farm, a caravan and Motorhome club certified location, in the heart of the South Downs. This is our favourite type of site- absolutely nothing here apart from a chemical loo and water tap and bin. Having no electric means people can space out to their hearts content, and it is oh so peaceful and green. We’re in heaven.

As you may have seen on our previous post, we should be in Madeira. Or actually Peru! Then Madeira when Peru got cancelled. Madeira got cancelled on Thursday and as its Keith’s 50th this week, I’ve planned a week of surprises- the first being a trip to Bignor Roman Villa, which we did today. We arrived at our campsite at 5pm last night and had the most wonderfully peaceful evening and the morning birdsong was tremendous.

Monday dawned slightly overcast but with a promising forecast ahead, we cracked on. Our first mission to test out our new gadgets: his n hers E bikes which we brought recently from Aldi.

Our maiden voyage on our the bikes was just 4.4miles away – a trip which took in rolling hills and beautiful villages and have our pedal assist a good testing!

Bignor Roman Villa was just Amazing. Utterly wonderful and overwhelming considering this is home to the largest mosaic in the UK at 24 metres long. The mosaics were astonishing. How exciting it must have been for those who unearthed it as they ploughed a field 200 years ago. And how lovely it is that the same family run the site. We actually met the 7th generation of the man who found the first mosaic; my pedal fell off a mile from the Villa and the lady kindly called her husband who drove a spanner to us. The staff here were so unbelievably nice. I told them about our reason to be there and not in Peru (K’s bday) and they gave him a bday gift. He (and I) was blown away by the site and I e hospitality. If you have any interest in Roman History at all this is an absolute must.

We enjoyed a cream tea in the sunshine and a local ice cream before making our way back to Gandalf via a farm shop/honesty shed and a section of the South Downs Way. Amberley looked pretty and there were two good pubs here but sadly both closed on a Monday.

We dropped our bikes off – we were thrilled with them by the way- hills… what hills?! And then walked 1.8 miles along a very pretty footpath and over the Gurka Suspension bridge – made by the Gurka engineers, to the Black Rabbit pub in Offham, a picturesque pub on the banks of the river Arun, with terrific views of Arundel Castle; our activity (Keith’s surprise) for tomorrow.

We enjoyed a lovely meal overlooking the castle and a couple of pints of their own lager.

Arundel is only 5 or 6 miles from the campsite so easily explorable from here – but we are moving on to a new location for our site tomorrow evening.

This campsite is one heck of a gem in the C&MC network. At just £10 pn, we will definitely be back as we have fallen head over heels with this area.

Tonight we had a cheese board washed down with red wine, pretending that we are Romans before settling down to another very peaceful night (we hope!) ahead.

Adventures near Newquay; May Half Term Part 3

Wednesday

Gandalf the Vw Campervan is parked down the Cornish coast near Newquay; our home for the next night is The Camping and Caravanning club site at Tregurrian, just a short walk from Watergate Bay.

On arrival, I’m going to be honest, we were a little underwhelmed. I suppose this was always going to happen, we’d had two exceptional locations- anything was going to struggle to compare to Trewethett Farm with those magnificent sea views.

I’d read the site was across the road from beach- which was a stretch of the imagination as it’s actually 0.75 miles downhill on a busy road. The route to the coastal path has been closed so my hopes for a beach day were dashed as we didn’t want to drive there and equally had too much stuff to carry that far.

After our set up and lunch of a local cheese board, we did however walk down with a small bag and the beach is lovely and most importantly for us, dog friendly.

There were lots of surfers and body boarders and we looked out of place with no wetsuit (even though I had mine up at the van) but we did both manage a dip in the sea. I’m sure with kids in tow, this site would tick a lot of boxes for many families, and whilst we enjoyed an afternoon on the beach, we were disappointed with the facilities in Watergate Bay – the bar was away from the beach and had slow service and there were no fish and chips to be found, only pizzas, and posh seafood restaurants which didn’t welcome dogs.

The next day, the weather was not as good as forcasted so we decided to make a move home a day early. Friday had an exceptionally tight schedule for a variety of reasons so we couldn’t afford to get stuck in traffic. We had a nice breakfast, another walk down to the beach and along the bay, before coming back to Gandalf and packing up.

As we departed we stopped at the next bay, Mawgan Porth where we picked up some fish and chips – yay! – and drove a couple of miles up to the National trust car park at Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps, where we enjoyed the most delicious fish and chips with a view that knocked our socks off.

For future reference- if we visited here again, we would catch the bus from near to the site and travel a short journey to Mawgan Porth, as the beach was equally nice but the fish and chips and bar were right on the beach. In our opinion- It had a less pretentious vibe here.

As we were leaving after our fish and chips we got news that unfortunately our holiday to Porto Santo, a small island off Madeira departing on Monday was to be cancelled, due to Portugal moving to Amber. We were heading there to celebrate Keith’s big 5 0! Whilst we were disappointed, we also were a bit relieved as we didn’t want to get stuck out there. We originally were supposed to be in Peru with Great Rail Journeys these two weeks. So our journey back early was now less necessary but as we’d packed up already we decided to continue on home. We honestly had had the best time this week, and we wished we could just stay for another week, but we’d left it too late to book anything and also we had celebrations planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

We then spent the weekend celebrating at home with our mums on Friday, then down in Croydon with friends and family on Saturday and Sunday

We are now making the most of another week off work and good weather by continuing down south for a week of camping in Gandalf- all of which was cobbled together Friday morning FRANTICALLY and each day’s activities is a surprise for Keefy!

Stay tuned for more updates 😉

Our home for the next two nights. Currently near Arundel. Just saying 😉

Adventures In Minehead; May Half Term Part 1

Friday night

Gandalf the VW is having a well deserved rest, settled upon the very picturesque Minehead Caravan and Motorhome Club site following a much longer than hoped for journey west. Granted, it’s Bank Holiday Friday and we should have made more effort to leave earlier that our 8am departure from home, but we’ve worked over 60 hours each in the 4 days and quite frankly we couldn’t bring ourselves to set an alarm!

The journey started well, despite a minor disagreement about which route we should take. Keith was adamant we should take the M25 and then the M4, whereas my sat nav AND phone suggested A14 to Birmingham then M42, M5. I got my own way, and several hours later my decision came back to haunt me as we took an additional 3 hours to get down the car park that was the M4. I kept telling K it would have been as bad his way, but we’ll never really know!

One very amusing thing happened on our journey on the M42/M5. We took the opportunity to call my Dad and stepmum whilst on the road, only to discover that they were heading out on their own adventure to Tiverton and were literally just behind us (less than a junction behind us!)

Soon afterwards we ended up overtaking each other a few times! Very random- considering that we set off from two completely different counties, were travelling to two different destinations, on a day that neither knew the other were travelling…

We stopped at Blackmore Farm shop for supplies once off the motorway and then more supplies at Watchet and finally arrived at our home for the weekend around 4:30pm. Just a bit tired but very pleased to be here!

The pitches here at Minehead are lovely. Really nicely laid out so no one is on top of each other and very beautifully landscaped. We instantly felt the stress of the half term ease away.

After a quick shower we walked the 15 mins walk to the sea front and grabbed dinner at The Quay Inn. We enjoyed a lovely sea bass fish cake each to start and local sausage and mash. It was really very nice!

Following dinner we continued along the sea front to the harbour, which blew us away. It is so pretty, and a perfect little pub sat overlooking the harbour (The Ship Aground) so it would have been rude not to stop for a nightcap. Being a gin enthusiast, I was in for a treat as I learnt this particular pub makes their own gin. I enjoyed a marmalade gin, Keith a lager, whilst we sat and admired the harbour. We couldn’t have felt more relaxed. What a perfect start to the holiday and very appreciated considering our journey here today!