Puffin peeking in Yorkshire

Gandalf the VW is parked up on a fabulous C&MC CL (a small 5 van that members of the Camping and Motorhome Club can stay at) called Carr House, on Lighthouse road, just outside of Flamborough Head. As the street address implies- we’re just under a mile from the beautiful Flamborough Head lighthouse. Our site is the most basic in the network- with literally just a water tap, toilet disposal and a bin.

At just £8 pn, we’ve made the decision to do more of these sites when possible to offset the increasing fuel prices and on reality- at the time of year- it’s a doddle. Our solar panel works a treat, even if it’s just cloudy rather than sunny and our tailgate awning with 12v shower and gas kettle combo is an ideal en suite.

The reason we were making this trip was to ✅ off a long standing bucket list item for me- to see a puffin (or puffins if we’re lucky) – in the wild.

Research online suggesting Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs were a fairly reliable place to aim for during the months of May, June and early July. So here we were!

Our journey up was smooth and we very much enjoyed a rest stop at my dad and step mum’s who house is conveniently just off the A1 nest Newark- an ideal half way point- and we were lucky enough to receive a fabulous breakfast which would rival any posh hotel! Thanks Jenny!

Suitably fuelled we continued North, and then east and arrived on site just after 3.30.

Somehow our set up was the swiftest we’ve ever done- and in less than 10 mins we were enjoying a beer outside.

We had a chill during the afternoon and early evening, retreating inside when the rain fell, and when it had passed we walked down to the the village of Flamborough Head to try a pint in the local.

Friday night’s dinner was a delicious Carbonara homemade back at Gandalf before a glorious silent night on site.

Saturday dawned with bright blue skies and sunshine. We had intended to have a lay in but it seemed rude not to get up and enjoy the weather.

Morning ablutions completed including lovely hot showers in our awning, and another full English cooked lovingly by Keefy on the Cadac- don’t judge us – two in a row- but we’re off to Peru on Weds where we don’t intend on eating full English’s!

Breakfast enjoyed, we donned our walking boots , loaded the cameras and binoculars and put our best foot forward towards Flamborough Head. There is a footpath all the way from the site to the lighthouse.

I think it’s fair to say the atmosphere was tense. I really wanted to see a puffin but of course they are wild and therefore you can’t guarantee that you’ll see one. We were doing a 500 mile round trip to essentially hopefully see a puffin!

Early signs were not looking hopeful- we asked everyone with a big lens- and no one had sighted one for a while here. We decided to follow a lead and take the cliff path toward North Landing. My hopes were plummeting- in my head they would be here in abundance! Turns out we were possibly a week late and the majority were back out at sea!

The coastline here is stunning and we had lovely weather so I tried to console myself. But then- we saw one! Nestled in a tiny crack half way down the cliff below us- we spotted a flash of orange. It really does stand out actually!

I had some tears, Keith took some pics on his super zoom, we watched it for some time through the binoculars. It was fab. We continued further along the path and we saw a couple with a big lense. “Have you seen a puffin” I asked. And they excited showed us one just a few feet from us (below us and opposite) what a cheeky chappy this one was. He posed for us and we enjoyed about half an hour watching him. It was incredible.

We continued on and by now the excitement of the looking for the puffins had taken hold of us! It was addictive! We found a few more towards North Landing and spent hours just on a small section of the cliff path with our eyes scanning the cliffs using binoculars looking for orange flashes. It was relaxing yet exciting and we really enjoyed ourselves! Puffins are nicknamed the “clowns of the sea” and we can see why. They oozed character- even through our binoculars! Be advised though- binoculars are a must! They were virtually impossible to see with our naked eye.

After a few hours we retraced our steps back to the campsite, happy as pigs in mud and me doing a huge tick on my bucket list.

We celebrated with a bbq, before having a game of jenga which was fun and an early night before our journey back to Norfolk the next morning. It was a short and sweet visit but we’d achieved what we set out to do which made us very happy campers indeed!

For information on the puffins in the area click here. We were astounded to learn that they can fly up to 55mph!

Bank Holiday Adventures in Sussex

Gandalf the VW is officially down South, in Sunny Sussex.

We drove down on Friday morning and met up with Keith’s dad and stepmother for lunch and a wander at the National Trust’s ‘Sheffield Park and Gardens’ just off the A22. After a nice lunch we continued our catch up whilst doing a circuit of the spectacular gardens- in full spring bloom right now. The colours were just breathtaking- it really was beautiful. The grounds are vast and I can see us returning in Autumn to enjoy the autumnal displays. Highly recommend a visit.

From here we nipped a mile down the road to the 360 degree brewery, to pick up some carry outs for later, we always like to try the local tipple where we can. Keefy went for the pilsner whilst I had the sour, both were delicious.

Supplies loaded into the fridge, we made the short journey to the campsite- Lone Oak Farm CL- a basic (no electric / facilities etc) field site on the outskirts of Ditching. We decided to pick a no frills or facilities site with the assumption it would be nice and quiet. We got it wrong. The site itself was nice enough, as were the owners. At £12 a night it was perhaps a little pricey considering there was a water tap and a loo disposal and a bin. The field was not the biggest we’ve stayed at but probably in normal circumstances we would have been happy here. The location is very convenient for the Bluebell railway.

However. Unfortunately this weekend, 3 out of the 5 vans on this site were all together. And therefore took over the field, resulting in noise noise and more noise and a not very tranquil experience for the two remaining vans, us being one of those. We tried to grin and bare it, but when Gandalf starting getting hit by rogue footballs, kids (and adults) totally invading our privacy by circling us on bikes, scooters, etc as they played noisily way too close to our van and thus upsetting our dog and my ears- the screaming, screaming and more screaming and shouting and total disregard for the others on the site. The final straw was the 7am wake up call we so happily (not!) received as they played tag around our van! By 8am we decided enough was enough, we were leaving. We spoke to the owner who said they’d have a word, but their words were ‘it is a peak weekend’.

So we left Lone oaks farm around 9am, a little unsure of what to do next. Our plan had been to walk from the site to the Jack and Jill windmills on the outskirts of Hassocks. So we decided to drive there instead, have some breakfast and reevaluate what to do.

The view from the car park of Jack and Jill windmills is tremendous. It does have a height barrier (2.1M) so we managed to squeeze under but anything taller would struggle. I’d have been quite happy to just sit there all day and admire the wonderful scenery of the South Downs, but we hit the phones and managed to find another campsite to head to once we’d finished here. We also enjoyed breakfast here before donning our walking boots and taking a 3m stroll along the South Downs way.

The scenery was breathtaking. We were lucky with the weather and could see for miles.

This is the second time we’ve walked here – the first being possibly 12 years ago, but I remember the effects of that walk were the same. Sheer joy.

The windmills here are over 200 years old. Jack is in private ownership and doesn’t sails on, but Jill is run by a group of volunteers who carefully look after and maintain this beautiful mill.

We were lucky as although not technically open to the public as it was a work day, we were allowed up for a peek inside. The stairs are step, but the views make up for it. It was a real treat to go inside.

We decided to have an early lunch of a pizza cooked on our ridge monkey, enjoying the views for one last time before it was time to hop back across to East Sussex from West.

Our new home for the next two nights was Oakside Farm, Ringmer on the outskirts of Lewis. This was another C&CC certified site with no facilities other than water and emptying point for loo. This site was about 3 times bigger than the previous night, and from the moment we pulled on we relaxed.

Although the site was full, the 3 acre field, and no set pitches as there were no hookup points, meant we could take lots of space away from others. It was glorious. We had an afternoon sunbathing outside whilst reading, and a nice chat with the very friendly owners – who had just flown into the grass airstrip in the next field. This site was only £10pn and felt like great value for money.

The whole time we’re were there we heard not a peep out of anyone. It was the quietest site we’ve ever been on- so going back to the previous site owner saying about it being a peak weekend. Sorry, we don’t buy that.

We enjoyed a nice chilli con carne for dinner, our first al fresco camping dinner of the year. Before settling in for a chilled evening.

Gandalf was coping brilliantly with no electric, the solar panel is working a treat.

Sunday dawned – it was glorious to be woken up by the natures alarm clock, the birds cheeping rather than screams and shouting from outside our van. We took our time in waking up, but eventually cracked on with a cooked breakfast on the cadac. Seeing as we didn’t have to drive we indulged with a glass of fizz to wash down the breakfast too.

After doing some chores – filling and emptying mainly- we walked a mile down the road to the bus stop, and caught a bus to nearby Lewes- pronounced Lewis. The bus also comities to Brighton so this would be a good base of exploration and is dog friendly.

We enjoyed a mooch around some of the historical areas of Lewes, including the castle- although it’s not dog friendly we managed a walk around its perimeter. There are some fabulous nooks and crannies around Lewes, its an interesting place to spend some time wandering.

We admired Virginia Wolfe’s octagonal house, along with Thomas Paine’s home, and a delightful 15th century bookshop.

Keith managed to incorporate a battlefield into the day too. The battle of Lewes was an important one although so important there are barely any signs on their battlefield tour. Something that really hacked me off. We also got tremendously … not lost, but incorrectly diverted 😉 because of the horrendous town map, trying to find the blasted battlefield, so my mood when we did find the field and the housing estate wasn’t the best let me say!

I did however enjoy the ridge walk taking in the main battlefield area once we were on the right but and I’m sure on a clear day the views would be terrific. Of course we found the muck shorter route back to the town so that was better and my mood improved for the rest of the day!

Just before our return bus we went down the brewery end of the town, well we couldn’t come to Lewes and not have a pint of Harvey’s, could we?! We went in the brewery owned pub and enjoyed a Harvey’s pilsner as we’d got a bit hot for an ale.

We re caught the bus from near Aldi before making our way back to Gandalf along Green lane.

The rest of the day was spent chilling – and I made a delicious dinner of Spanish meatball and butter bean stew. Recipe here– it’s a one pot wonder so great for cooler days when not on electric and did a great job in warming us up.

The rest of the evening was spent chilling- I finished my book and Keith finished ozark and before we knew it, Monday morning had arrived and it was time to go home. We’d turned the annoyingness and disappointment of the opening night around and were coming home really rested.

Gandalf went a treat with no electric. We got by by charging our power packs

before leaving home and these allowed us to charge our phones and Keith’s iPad each day.

before leaving home and these allowed us to charge our phones and Keith’s iPad each day.

We showered in our tailgate awning, by filling one kettle up and topping with cool water.

It was a lovey break and we look forward to being out again in a couple of weeks.

Until next time

Lx

Tracks of the Deep South 🇺🇸

Hope you all had a great Easter! We’ve been quiet on this site , and for that I apologise. We didn’t go away in Gandalf over Easter- instead we hopped across the Atlantic and did a road trip around the Southern states of USA. We weren’t in an RV, so I haven’t blogged about it on this page, but we were on wheels, some of which were beautiful wheels…

and therefore if you’d like to have a read about what we’ve been up to for the past fortnight you can check out my blogs on our sister site, http://www.WanderLeefy.com

I’ve linked to the blog posts below.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Fear not, Gandalf hasn’t been relegated for too long- we’re away in him for May bank holiday weekend and I look forward to sharing our adventure with you then!

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside!

Gandalf the VW is having a case of Deja- Vu. Regular followers may recognise our pitch for this weekend- this is our 4th stay here in 18 months.

It is of course, Sandy Gulls at Mundesley, North Norfolk. We are lucky, it’s only an hour away from our house, so ideal for a quick escape without having to remortgage to afford fuel to get there. We RARELY revisit campsites unless they are extra special or in a convenient location (Edinburgh/ London). I think we can all agree the location of this site is more than extra special.

We arrived at lunch time Friday and settled immediately into our chill zone- the sunshine was glorious and despite a chilly wind, we had a couple of hours sat outside enjoying the sea view and breeze! Keith set the cadac going and we enjoyed our first bbq of the year, a delicious fish bbq. Ooph it was GORGEOUS, good job Keefy!

He cooked raw king prawns in chilli and garlic as a starter, then we had cod, sea bass and salmon alongside jacket potatoes cooked in the Remoska and coleslaw. Mouth watering!

Unbelievably (for England haha!!!) we got to the end of the meal and the weather spectacularly turned. The pure blue skies had vanished and instead we got hit with rain, wind.. rain and wind. But we couldn’t have been happier, we’d managed a sea view bbq and we actually secretly wanted to just chill with our books. So we retreated inside, listened to the rain and the sea and spent the afternoon reading and snoozing. Perfect.

Saturday dawned and we were happy to see the return of the blue skies. We had a lazy morning enjoying the view from bed- and after a great shower, the facility block here is incredible- huge wet rooms and bags of hot water- we cooked up a fry up, again outside!

After this we had a leg stretch down the dog friendly beach (which is accessible from the site either by foot (10 mins) or car (1 min).

We walked right along the beach and followed it to Mundesley and a little beyond. We got tempted into one of the most scenic beer gardens in the country, enjoyed a pint each and made our way to Gandalf via the road.

At this point, we’d walked 4 miles, so put two mini pizzas in the Remoska for lunch, and settled into our books for the afternoon.

The next thing it was time for dinner- a Keralan Cod curry.

It was yummy even if I do say so myself. We followed this with chocolate fondue- oh yes we did!! (The first outing of my Christmas present from Keefy- a small porcelain bowl with a tea light below) we enjoyed dipping fresh fruit into the melted chocolate whilst watching a Rom com.. Husband points right there..

Before falling fast asleep with the wonderful sound of waves crashing below our feet.

Sunday came far too quickly and our weekend of rest was almost over. But not before another beach walk and oodles of tea watching the ever changing view.

We didn’t utilise the site for its tremendous location (other than to sit admiring the view!) this time as we were close to burn out and needed a reset. However if you are feeling more energetic than we were this is the most perfect location to base yourself as you have the coast hopper bus (dog friendly) right outside the campsite entrance, which links you with Cromer all the way through to Kings Lynn. You can also get to Norwich and North Walsham from here via bus. If you like cycling there are lots of country lanes. For walkers, you’re Literally ON the Norfolk Coast path and there are a couple of nice circular walks here too (here)

Sandy Gulls have really invested in this site since we first visited in Oct 2020. The website that you use to book onto the site is excellent- you use a map and pick your pitch at the point of booking. Pay a £10 deposit which is fair. They’ve built a road and hard standing pitches right at the front of the site last winter and invested in free decent WiFi this winter too. The facilities are EXCELLENT and although some of the pitches do require you to have levelling chocks, it’s a small price to pay for arguably one of the best sea view sites in the country. One important note- it’s adults only.

If you want to read what we got up to on our previous stays click:

Here

it seems that I’ve only ever blogged about this place once before! Bad blogger alert- to be fair, it’s because we use it as a place to sit and do absolutely toning but admire the sea view!

We’ll be back at some point for stay number 5!

Until next time

Lx

Adventures in The Lake District

Feb 11th

Gandalf the VW is parked up in Keswick, on the highly anticipated C&CC Club site which sits proudly on the banks of Derwentwater in the Lake District. This is our 4th attempt at getting here this trip has been rescheduled time after time since it’s original booking for Easter 2020 thanks to Covid. But even before Covid, we’d tried unsuccessfully to book this club site many times before- it’s Fabulous location means getting a booking during school hols is nigh impossible unless you’re a super duper early bird.

Our journey here was easy and passed relatively quickly thanks to the Tom Allen autobiography that we listened to on Audible (it’s really very good by the way) and before we knew it we were pulling onto our pitch just before 4pm in the dry. Seeing as our welcome from the wardens included a “by the way we’re on flood alert, stay local, be prepared to evacuate” my heart just dropped. Almost three years we’ve waited to stay here and now I can’t fully relax for fear of having to move off site. “Can I have a beer tonight?” I asked them. “Tonight’s fine but tomorrow brings rain, and that is likely to change us up to red alert, which means someone needs to be responsible for your vehicle”. Groan. Not the ideal start to our adventure, and I was cross with myself for not preempting it as I’ve seen enough people online posting about getting evacuated from Keswick over the years.

Still. We were here and had a pass to have some drinks tonight so, that’s what we did. As soon as Gandalf was set up – a record of 12 mins- we made the short walk into Keswick.

Keswick is a really lovely Lakeland town. It has a very large amount of pubs and we enjoyed trying most of them on Friday evening!

Other than pubs, there are a significant amount of walking and outdoor shops and of course lots of very interesting folk to chat to over a pint, which we enjoyed doing in a couple of pubs on Friday. We had considered having dinner out but never got round to it, so made our way back to Gandalf a bit later than probably wise, and despite being a bit merry, managed to rustle up a chilli con carne.

Those who know me (and Keith) know that we have to have a plan at all times, even for trivial stuff. Not that this was trivial but in my mind we needed to prepare for evacuation at any point from when I had sobered up! This meant keeping Gandalf especially ship shape and as such as well as cooking a chilli con carne and rice after 9pm, I still went off for a full wash up afterwards despite being ..somewhat merry thanks to a few pints of old peculiar to finish off my gin sesh!

By the time we made it to bed I truly thought we’d sleep like logs. We normally do on the first night away. Tonight however we got caught up in the middle of gale force winds with our pop top up. We both laid awake from 3am- and because the roof was coping well with the wind didn’t think to lower it. The noise however , and the added height meant we were being rocked and sleep was just impossible. For some reason- I have no idea why- it took until 5:15am for us to muster up the “can we be bothered to move items off the roof shelves to under the bed so we can lower the roof” “yes, let’s lower the roof” . So we did and what a difference that made- we slept like logs til 9am!

Saturday morning brought with it rain, rain and more rain. We were unsure of what to do regarding the info that the site may need to be evacuated. After a duvet morning we had a quick chat with a warden who felt sure today would be ok. So we had a walk into town, a few drinks and lunch. Then made our way back for a big chill.

At about 4pm the eye of the storm brought with it a moment of dry and even a small amount of blue sky. We quickly grabbed Jazz for a a loop of the campsite!

The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent chilling- Keefy enjoying some programmes on his iPad and I demolished a book. To be honest, we’d said all along that we needed to spend some time at the beginning of this trip relaxing so the bad weather had forced our hand on that, and we didn’t mind too much at all.

We enjoyed a fabulous local cheese/deli board along with some local Gins, ales and even a Lakes Whiskey, all of which we’d picked up in town.

We made the decision to drop the roof before bed and as such had a much better nights sleep. Phew!

The rain did not stop so it wasn’t a surprise when at 9 am on Sunday we got a knock on our door to say the campsite was going into the red alert. If we had an awning up it was to come down (we didn’t), we needed to stay in Keswick and prepare to have to move imminently. Me being me had anticipated this since Friday and had prepared a list of our options so sprung into action. We could have stayed / waited but to be honest, would have felt like we were just sat twiddling our thumbs waiting for the inevitable. We had planned a slow cooker stew for dinner and this along with the fact it’s too cold for us to be off electric meant we felt we needed to abandon the site before everyone else HAD to. I’d made a list of options yesterday and so hit the phone to nearby Castlerigg Farm- I then did a jigg when they said yes they have space for us to move up there.

Castlerigg Farm is only 3 miles away from the Keswick club site but the main difference is it’s up high so doesn’t flood. We don’t mind the rain or the wind. Snow, heatwave or whatever. But we can’t stand uncertainty! And I wanted a gin with my lunch!

Decision made, we de camped and shot up the hill to Castlerigg Farm. A warm welcome awaited us and the site is lovely. I’m sure when the rain stops there will be tremendous views. The facilities are modern and clean.

We celebrated with a fry up brunch. And then our one and only heater broke!

Hmm. This wasn’t ideal. We were headed up for a duvet day. It wasn’t to be. We donned our wet weather clothes and walked down the hill 2 miles into Keswick.

The path down to the Keswick from Castlerigg was picturesque as it followed a swelled up stream and brought us into the outskirts of Keswick passing pretty houses and shepherds huts.

THANKFULLY there was a hardware store open and with electric fan heaters in stock- although we paid a premium for it!

We celebrated with a pint in the only pub we hadn’t been in, and a celebratory ice cream by the lake – yes it was still raining- and yes I think we’ve lost our minds before making our way along the lake path a little and then grabbing a taxi back up to the campsite where we resumed our duvet day!