48 hours in Boston, MA

Day 1

We had arrived late (well 8pm – but 1am English time) so after arriving at our Air B n’ B around 9pm we hit the sacks, and therefore woke up very early on Day 1.

Not wanting to waste a second, we showered and were out by 7am having breakfast at Dunkin Donuts, which was near enough next door to our 2 bed flat.

Our Air BnB was located on the outskirts of Charlestown, about 10 mins cab from the airport and about 10 mins taxi to the centre of Downtown Boston. We like the idea of AirBnB as because we are used to motor homing, we really just needed a base, with a shower, bed and coffee making facilities.

Day 1 started with us exploring the Freedom Trail – which is a 2.5 marked trail through the centre of Boston taking in the most famous and historical sites the city has to offer. Before we booked Boston, I had no idea about what a historical city it was.

boston-nps-map

Our plan was to take in half of the freedom trail on day one and half on day two. We began at the Visitor centre on Boston Common so took a Tube from our accommodation to Park Street Station.

We walked through the common admiring the golden leaves and soon found ourselves at the State House.

We followed it though the city centre stopping at the old Burial Ground and the Old State House which is where the Declaration of Independence was read (pictures above).

We popped into Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market – two of the oldest markets in Boston – Faneuil Hall was great to shop for souvenirs and Quincy was a food lovers heaver. Crammed full of food stalls from every cuisine you can imagine, but a recurring theme was seafood of course due to our seaside lication, and lobster and clam chowder featured heavily – as it’s a popular dish here in New England.

Mouth’s set to drooling we popped to the waterside grabbing a beer each at Boston Harbor Cruises ‘The Landing’ – harbor-side bar, before making our way to Quincy Market to pick up a picnic lunch.

I opted for the Lobster Ravioli and boy was it good – Keith went for a Lobster roll, Mum a mac n cheese pie and Alec, a Hot Dog.

After lunch we went back on ourselves back through Boston Common and up Beacon Hill – we stopped for a quick beer in the famous Cheers Bar – slightly disappointing inside, but a must anyway, before exploring the trendy and insanely pretty Beacon Hill district.

All the houses around here had gorgeous fall decorations on their doorsteps and Acorn Street was worth a stop for a picture with its charming cobbled hill.

We went for another wander around Boston Common before requesting an Uber to take us back to our apartment for a freshen up and change for dinner. That was a mistake – traffic in Boston is horrible most of the time. Avoid taxis during peak hours – we called ours at 4pm and it took us over an hour to get 3.5 miles. If we hadn’t have been so tired we could have walked – but the T rail is very good and cheap so if I were there again that’s what I’d do.

Day 1 was our lobster meal night. After many recommendations from Twitter etc, we had pre booked a table at Legal Seafoods in Seaport region. Alec had never had Lobster and it was his dream to eat it in Boston, one of the reasons behind our trip. We had a cocktail on the roof terrace before we made our way to our table by the window – Keith and Alec had the full lobster experience, whilst Mum and I had other lobster alternatives. The meal was fantastic, as was the service and I would wholly recommend this place to try Lobster, our server held Keith and Alec’s had throughout the “cracking the lobster” procedure and actually the meal was very good value -each lobster was under £30 each!

Day 2

Darned Jet lag – we were awake early again, so got up and dressed and went for breakfast at Dunkin Donuts once more. Today was part 2 of the Freedom trail, along with a look around the Naval yard, USS Constitution, the Italian North End and we even squeezed in a boat trip too!

We took our T line train to Haymarket station where we picked up the Freedom trail and followed it all the way around the very charming North End – the “Little Italy” section of town. It’s a lovely place to browse around, perusing menus for later on, taking pictures of the many buildings decorated in lead, and smelling the wonderful aromas of coffee and other Italian delights. The buildings are charming and it was lovely looking around.

Before too long though it was time to head back to Long Wharf for our 10.30am Historical Harbour Cruise. What we didn’t realise when we booked it, was that today was the day the USS Constitution was making it’s first sailing in over 2 years because of restoration works that have taken place. Also – when it’s not being restored, it only sails once a year – so we were beyond thrilled to learn that not only was it sailing but it had just left it’s shipyard and was about to sail RIGHT PAST US! Wow! It truly was the most wonderful sight.

The Harbour Cruise worked as a hop on, hop off, which was perfect as we got to hop off at the Navy Yard, where the USS Constitution usually is based – despite it not being there we could still look around the USS Cassin Young, and also pick up the ending of the Freedom Trail, which led us through the absolutely stunning area of Charlestown and up to Bunker Hill Monument.

We climbed the 492 steps up Bunker Hill Monument and we rewarded with views of the USS Constitution making it’s way back to the yard.

We opted to go for a sandwich lunch at one of the oldest taverns in Boston, which handily was right by the Bunker Hill monument, The Warren Tavern. It served delicious food – mum and I loved our clam chowder, whilst the boys had humungous burgers. The local Downeast Pumpkin cider was one of the best ciders I’ve tasted.

After lunch we walked back to the Navy Yard where we were in time to see the USS Constitution back in dock – what a majestic ship she is. Our Harbour Cruise picked us up at 2pm and we made our way back to Long Wharf.

From here we walked the mile down to the Boston Tea Party Museum and got booked onto the next tour. Whilst this wasn’t my cup of tea (scuse the pun!) – Keith loved it. It was a proper all out American presentation of the history of the Tea Party Massaceur and was very interactive – i.e. the actors all gave us a role to play. There were a couple of moments inside the museum which were pretty impressive (technology based and I won’t spoil it) and also you got to see one of the original tea crates which was  pretty cool.

We made our way back to the apartment for a quick change before heading back into downtown for a couple of local beers in two more historical taverns – The Green Dragon and The Bell in Hand, before wandering into the North End for a delicious Italian meal at  Quattro.

Itinerary Details

Day 1

AM: Freedom Trail  from Visitor Centre Boston Common to Visitor Centre Fencuil Hall.

Lunch: Beer at The Landing (Boston Harbor Cruises) and Lunch at Quincy Market

PM: Beacon Hill District especially taking in Cheers Bar, Acorn Street and Chestnut Street.

Evening: Pre dinner cocktail on the roof terrace then seafood dinner at Legal Harbourside (Floor 1) 

Day 2

AM: 9.00am  Pick up Freedom Trail at Haymarket Station then do the North End Section up to Copps Hill Burying Ground.

10:30 Pre booked Harbour Cruise   $22.99 pp (Hop on Hop Off)

11:00 Disembark Harbour Cruise at Navy Yard, look around then continue up to Bunker Hill on the rear end of the Freedom Trail.

Lunch: Warren Taven – one of the oldest tavern’s in Boston

2pm: Take the Harbor Cruise back to Long Wharf and walk to the Boston Tea Party museum 

Evening: Couple of beers at Green Dragon Tavern and The Bell In Hand – both historical taverns then an Italian meal in the North End – we went to Quattro and it was delicious.

ACCOMODATION

Air B n B – 2 Bed apartment by Sullivan Square transport hub. Total for 3 nights for 4 people – £ 411

Next Up: (Coming Soon)

2 Day Roadtrip in Vermont

2 Day Roadtrip in New Hampshire

24 Hours in Salem, MA

24 Hours at Niagra Falls

Our annual Pilgrimage to Scotland Part 3: A quick stopover at the Lake District 

Ruby the campervan is parked up alongside  Gillside Beck- we arrived here yesterday, Friday, after a fairly longish journey from our Loch Ness Brit Stop. The reason for departing Scotland a day early is stood proudly behind us, and frankly looks scary as hell- perhaps that’s where the name Helvellyn comes from! For a couple of years now, Keith and I have talked about how we’d like to tackle Helvellyn and Striding Edge. For both of us, it’s a personal challenge. Neither of us particularly like hill walking, and I’m terrified of drops, yet I have spent hours marvelling at people’s instagram pics of Striding Edge. I just knew I had to go and give it my best foot forward. Luckily, my husband is also crazy so despite his hatred of walking up hills agreed to attempt it with me, if he weather looked ok on or way home from Scotland. 

So back in February we booked our pitch at Gillside Farm, knowing there was a hefty chance we’d cancel if weather looked bad. We’d been about internet for well over 24 hours and finally picked up 4g as passed through Fort William. Keith as driving and I checked Patterdale – well il be blowed it was only showing full sun for tomorrow. “Off we go then”, I said, feeling the colour draining from my chops! 

Gillside Farm is nestled right at the bottom of the main path from Glenriding up to Helvellyn- so on arrival we decided to check where our oath started, before prepping our rucksacks, making a packed lunch and enjoying a simply cook Murgh Kari curry for tea. The mood in the Ruby was certainly of apprehension! We watched the live election debate before calling it a night. I dreamt that we got stuck on Helvellyn! What a great dream- not! 

Saturday dawned as promised, absolutely glorious. There really is nowhere as beautiful as the Lakes in this weather! Apprehension was again strife! We moved around our daily routine almost in silence- I chucked some venison and a few bits of stray veg into the slow cooker to bubble away ready for our return. Keith packed, double packed and triple checked the rucksacks. By 09:15 we’d had our porridge and cereal bars and were ready to go. I was BRICKING it. 


The first mile is literally uphill. There is no relief from it – it is hard. Really really hard. Loads of people passed us, we were both puffing like a steam train and I was almost ready to chuck the towel in. However-the  views were stunning and that really kept us going. The views to Ullswater were sensational. 

 

After over an hour and exactly a mile- the uphillness became easier! I thought I’d suddenly become super fit but Keith declared “hurray, we are now following the contours rather than crossing them” We were rewarded with great views of Helvellyn and red tarn and actually started enjoying ourselves! 

Before we knew it we were reaching the start of Striding Edge. I gave myself one last talking to and before I know it we were across! Striding Edge if you are not familiar, is a ridge that leads to Helvellyn, England’s 3rd  highest behind Scafell and Sca. It was really, really hard- in fact a man in front of us stopped and turned round- he said he couldn’t cope with it any more- so was going to find the easier path. Keith and I (and jazz!) kept our heads down,took it very slowly and carefully and stopped regularly for photos – AND I DIDNT HAVE A PANIC ATTACK! 

I still can’t believe we walked across that ridge!!!

Getting to the other side my legs were like Jelly. Then we realised we had nasty scramble ahead to get to the summit. It wasn’t a scramble it it literally was rock climbing. Omg. 😳 However the camoradory between all the walkers was fantastic – and as we crossed the last ridge before the summit I had a tear in my eye! We’d done it! Bucket list ticked ✅




After a cheese roll or three we discovered it was as steep if not worse on the way down! Off we set, taking so much care- we even had to carry Jazz over a couple of bits as he refused and dug his claws in! Slowly we descended and 3 hours later we were back at Ruby feeling immensely proud of ourselves! 


We had a swift dram before continuing to the pub for a couple( including a Lake District Gin!!) and returning to Ruby for our venison stew.


Tomorrow we head home (sad face!) we have had a blast and couldn’t have wished for an sweet finish today. We’ve survived 10 whole days in our downsized campervan with no pop top. Ruby is working for us! Hurrah! 

Until next time 

Lx 

Our annual pilgrimage to Scotland, May 2017. Part 2. Wester Ross

Tuesday

 We had such a peaceful night at the foot of the Cuillin Hills and slept like logs! Unfortunately when we woke up it was still not great weather wise, so we wasted no time in packing up and hitting the road. We made a quick stop at the Spar shop in Broadford before taking the Kyle Bridge back over to the mainland. We had a brilliant time shopping in the Spar, it was crammed full of local food and drink- our major weakness! We popped in for some potatoes and some rice, and came out with over £60 worth of goodies, including some local frozen venison, sausages, veg, a bottle of Misty Isle Gin (whoops, that slipped in the basket!) cheeses, chutney, ales etc. Whoops!


Back on mainland and we took the Wester Ross Coastal route, which was beautiful despite the wet weather. We pulled over for some toast and marmalade overlooking Loch Caron, and carried on towards Gairloch. We really enjoyed this route and can’t recall taking it before. We will definitely return to this area, and hope for some better weather next time. Talking of the weather, just as we were pulling up at our home for the next two nights, Gruinard Bay Caravan Park, the rain stopped, hurrah! 
The pitches at Gruinard Bay Caravan Park have a super view, they are right on the beach front. We however managed to be assigned the pitch closest to the neighbouring graveyard… so we decided to park on sidewards so our door was directly facing the sea. Not sure if we were meant to, but no one challenged us, and it wasn’t particularly busy there. Otherwise our door would have been directly facing the graves! It was a nice enough site, but needed a bit of TLC to say the least. Showers were clean, but very small, and actually only one of each sex, and situated in a rickety portacabin. We enjoyed a chill overlooking the sea for the remainder of the afternoon, and a hearty Spag Bol for tea before having an early night. 


Wednesday arrives and still no sign of rain, so we enjoyed a full cooked breakfast outside before driving off pitch 8 miles down the road to visit National Trust for Scotland’s Inverewe Gardens.


 We enjoyed their pinewood trail first with Jazz, then left him to sleep in the van whilst we wandered round the gardens. They are billed to be the best botanical gardens in Europe. We enjoyed our visit although I think we were perhaps a couple of days late to enjoy the best of the rhodedendrums. Still worth a visit. 



On our way back to the campsite we followed signs for “The Food emporium”, which turned out to be a little smokehouse where we picked up some delicious smoked cod and smoked cheddar cheese.


 By now the sun was back out in force so we scuttled back to the campsite and set up base again. Tonight we enjoyed a lovely BBQ, this time on the gas one as it was bit drafty, consisting of our smoked cod and couscous for starter then steak and chips for main. Yum! Keith washed his down with some very local ales from a small craft brewery down the road, one of which he said was the best he’d had! I also managed to get the drone up a couple of times. A happy afternoon and evening. 


Thursday 
We decided to make an earlyish start as we’d got a few miles to cover today. We skipped our morning cuppa and breakfast, choosing to stop at viewpoint further into our journey to enjoy those. 

Somehow, despite a breakfast stop and a top up Tesco shop, we managed to arrived at our Brit Stop location almost an hour before our first eta! We are now at BritStop no. 841, a tea room and farm shop situated on the quiet side of Loch Ness. We’d never taken the B852 road on the other side of Loch Ness before, and Keith tells me the road is called General Waide’s Military Road. It was a lovely alternative to the much busier A82 . After introducing ourselves, we had a quick bite to eat and set off for a little walk down the road to the Falls of Foyer. What we didn’t realise was that Robert Burns based his poem “Waterfall” on these falls, and they are set within a most spectacular gorge. 

It really was a lovely walk, and we worked up a good appetite to enjoy a nice afternoon cream time on arrival back at the tea rooms. 
The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent chilling, tomorrow we have a longer drive towards the Lake District as we have a date with Hellvelln and Striding edge (weather permitting!) on Saturday. Dinner tonight was a very very tasty Simply Cook Haddock risotto. Yum! 

Until next time 

Lx 

To Brit Stop, or Not?

Firstly, before I write this post, I need to make it clear that I have no affiliation with Brit Stops, and pay each year like everyone else for our copy of what we call the Brit Stop Bible. This post comes on the back of 5 years of paid membership, and many, many happy stopovers at Brit Stop locations, but mainly after a discussion that Keefy and I had last night, whilst enjoying our latest Brit Stop evening.

brit-stops-logo

For probably as long as we’ve been members of BritStops, I’ve also been a lurker on many of the Facebook Motorhome and Campervan Discussion pages. Over the last couple of years I’ve noticed more and more people on these pages asking “Is Britstops worth it?”- and watched with interest people sharing their different opinions before sometimes feeling somewhat disappointed in people’s responses. Now don’t get me wrong, I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and actually isn’t that what makes the world wide web a wonderful place to be part of- so please don’t think that this post is intended to suggest that anyone who doesn’t agree with my opinion is wrong. Far from it. But last night, Keith and I experienced such a wonderful evening, that only came about because of our membership into Britstops, it really highlighted to me why we will always choose to be a member. So I thought I would share it.

photo-25-02-2017-12-11-18

Earlier this week, faced with a pretty long week at work, we decided we would nip out in Ruby the camper van on Saturday night for a change of scenery. We faced two choices- a BritStop location or a quiet CL site somewhere. It coincided with our brand new edition of the 2017 BritStop bible arriving, so after a loooooong day teaching on Tuesday, we sat down together for a leaf through to see if anywhere grabbed our fancy. So much these days is web based and online, and so we LOVE the fact that we can sit and flick through a proper book, page by page to see the locations available. This also is rather handy when you’re out and about on a tour and you need to change your plans but you don’t have any internet, like we did here. BritStops: 1 / other online database of pub stops: 0

You’ve got a user-friendly map page so you can see whats available in each area. In the case of us nipping away for a night we tend to say an hour’s journey from home- and we are lucky that this perimeter gives us lots of choice (although I’m sad that some of our favourites on the North Norfolk Coast are gone this year!) What we like about the BritStops book is that each place has a little write up from the owner describing their place. This really helps us to decide what we are in the mood for.

Our personal favourite types of stop are the farm shops and vineyards, of which there are loads in this years edition. I just love cooking, so to be able to buy fresh produce and cook it for our dinner that night is perfect. That or buying  a local wine/beer and drinking it that night on site, knowing you’ve experienced a local taste, local flavour and given something back to the owner in return for a free night’s stopover is just brilliant- and very, very similar to France Passion, which is what Britstops is based upon. The misconception between people who don’t rave about BritStops seems to be that its only pubs and in theory most pubs will let you stay overnight. There are loads of pubs included. But it’s not only pubs, and for that we think it’s worth the £27.50 membership alone.

img_0208
Sunrise amongst the vineyards- the morning after an amazing meal and wine tasting from an English vineyard in 2014.

We stumbled across this inviting advert from BritStop no. 232/2017’s host.

“Completely refurbished in May 2013, this characterful 16th Century pub still offers traditional games. Next to a farm that supplies us with local produce. (Landlord) doesn’t work from a menu, but is more than happy to make most dishes if he has the ingredients in!”

This sounded an unusual, quirky place, and so we wasted no time in giving them a call on the number provided, to book in for Saturday night. After a bit of a chat to the landlord, he asked us what we fancied to eat, gave us a few options and after asking whether we were fish, veggie or meat eaters he said leave it with me, I’ll see you Saturday! I’m not going to lie, we were quite excited! This seemed a novel approach to hospitality and a quick look on trip adviser soon told us people were raving about this place, although we were slightly anxious that we may have signed ourselves up to a private dining experience and therefore may need to remortgage the house on our return as we forgot to check the price!

The rest of the week went in a blur with work, but Saturday soon dawned and it was time to set off on our mini break. We checked the postcode and directions and used the handy key to see if we needed water, would have electric etc. Everything about the book is convenient and you can just tell it has been lovingly assembled by keen motorhomes, Steve and Mandy, who started BritStops in 2011. Since then they have increased the number of stops from 75 to 761!

c5xjeymweaapjwq
Over 700 new stopovers added since 2011. Obviously doing something right!

We stopped for a lovely walk at nearby Clare Country Park- which we found by using our iFootpath app, something we always do when we are heading to a new town/area because we are chasing a BritStop location, and early evening rolled into the car park of BritStop #232, just as the landlord was returning from a food shop. He opened up at 5:45pm and by 6:00pm we were sat at the bar having his last bottle of home brew bitter and having a nice little chat. The home-brew by the way was delicious. Probably just as well he only had the one bottle left though, at 5.5% I think we could have been in for a dangerous night otherwise!

Conversation soon got onto food, and Tony’s enthusiasm and passion for cooking immediately shone through. I can’t ever remember having such a passionate landlord/chef talk through a menu with us like we experienced here, and that includes my 30th where K took me for a Michelin taster menu at Morston Hall. He gave us options that included a curry platter, sausage and mash, linguine or home battered haddock and chips. After ten minutes of umming and ahhing and numerous changes, we decided on curry- Keith opting for a fish curry and me going for a section that included chicken and cauliflower balti, beef tikka, chickpea and sweet potato, homemade naan, basmati rice, popadoms, homemade ago chutney- the list went on. We asked if he could knock up a starter and he asked us if Garlic mushrooms and dough balls sounded ok. It sounded more like perfect.

We spent some time chatting to a friendly local and before we knew it the food was served. Huge portions, piping hot, absolutely gorgeous flavours. We were officially in food heaven. We were asked what we fancied as background music, we had a roaring log fire next to us, and Jazz the pampered pooch was enjoying fist fulls of home cooked ham!

As the evening went on, a couple more tables came in, and we witnessed the same passion and enthusiasm, enabling them to eat exactly what they fancied. It was time to ask for the bill and I’d got my credit card at the ready, with a slight sweat, and not just cos of the curry! You can perhaps imagine my shock when the bill read “Drinks: £21 (well we had had a long walk, and I didn’t have to drive!)… Food…….£28”. £28?! That’s surely per person I whispered to Keith. It wasn’t. £14 each for a completely home cooked to our specific taste meal. I’m not even sure I could cook it at home for that, and I didn’t have to wash up!

There is no way on earth we would have picked this pub, had it not been for BritStops. It’s in a tiny hamlet, in the depths of Suffolk. A little way off the tourist route. Not within walking distance of anything too interesting (although I’m sure given more time we may be proved wrong on this). If we had looked at google maps and tried to “pick a pub and call it” we just never would have found this place. It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But with the help of BritStops, its taken all this information of where we are welcome and puts it into a user friendly format that doesn’t rely on internet connection – for us living on the Norfolk/Suffolk border we do not take this luxury for granted by the way! Mobile date hasn’t reached our village yet and we are not alone!

We look at our BritStop nights away not, as their tag line suggest, as Free Stopovers, but more like finding the real British gems and giving something back to off the beaten track hosts allowing us to spend the night there. Whether its a haggis pizza and a pint of home-brewed ale, some homemade cheese, local wine, or just old fashioned Great British service in a lonely village somewhere, we feel proud to be members and thank Steve and Mandy for their hard work in keeping the book up to date with regular monthly update emails.

It’s worth mentioning that the agreement of those listed in the BritStop guide does state that there is absolutely no obligation to buy anything, you just have to go and introduce yourself etc. However, for us, we couldn’t even entertain this as a thought – if someone is being kind enough to let you stay on their property the least we can do is have a few drinks and a meal. Pubs and small business’ are closing down left right and centre with the increase of larger shops’ and chain pubs- if we can’t help by spending twenty quid or so in their establishment then I’d rather go and stay in a lay-by somewhere. Or stay at home.

Some pictures below of our favourite all time stopovers.

img_3456img_395720140416-211220

So there you go, there’s my two – pennies worth on whether BritStops is worth the £27.50 annual fee.

If you are a member and are in/near to Suffolk and like your food – you NEED to pay #232 a visit. I promise you, you won’t visit anywhere else like it. Keep an eye on the website- he is doing themed food nights – with Italian night, Greek night, Curry night, and even a beer taster night- where you get 5 courses each matched with a different beer.

photo-26-02-2017-10-34-15-1

Until Next Time,

Lx

 

 

 

 

February Half Term ~ Fun and Frolics in Norfolk, Part 2

Bluebell the Motorhome is parked up metres away from the front door of Britstops no. 241 (2015 book), a pub and brewery situated within the Norfolk Broads. As per the Britstops rules, I can’t tell you our exact location as its members only, but if you’re a motorhomer and love your food and drink, then you need to join! It’s a free stopover, but you are encouraged to spend some money within the establishment…. What an utter hardship!! It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to do it…! In return you get a place to park overnight, which is very handy considering all the ale on tap tonight! 🍻 Although some Britstops offer some facilities like water or hook up, there are no facilities here but that’s ok as we filled up/empitied before leaving this morning.

Today has been a lovely day- the weather has been cold but mainly clear- luckily we’ve timed our day so that when the downpours of hail arrived, and we’ve had a few, we’ve not been out and about. We had a fairly lazy morning, partly cos we were waiting for the owner of Deodara to arrive so we could pay him, but he never turned up despite telling us he was coming at 09:30 so we ended up leaving the cash inside the electric hook up box and make our exit around 11:00. Probably wouldn’t rush back to that site if we are honest- nice location, but this business of the clay pigeon shooting every other weekend was a bit off putting not to mention loud, plus Sunday afternoon was spoilt by the neighbourscoming onto our pitch cutting down trees in a tractor whilst we were parked! All these things we’d have liked to fed back to Tim, the owner, but as we never saw him it was difficult!

Moving on, we stopped off at Tescos for a couple of bits and bobs and head towards Ludham, a small village sat on a picturesque broad.

We had a 5 mile walk (courtesy of our AA Walk box) which we enjoyed. About half way through the walk, Keith noticed on his memory map, a detour of about half a mile from Toad Hall, How Hill Centre to the River Ant.

The sun was shining so we went down the track and were rewarded by one of the prettiest spots I’ve seen on the broads.

There were two wind pumps and some decking and picnic tables- in the summer boat trips go from there, but today despite the sun shining, we were the only ones and it was truly wonderful to have half an hour there taking in the world and hearing nothing but reeds rustling in the wind and the water lapping up against the boardwalk. Perfect

The walk took us past a large water tower and back to pretty Ludham.

Our Brit Stop pitch for the night was only a 20 minute drive away and so here we are, parked up outside one of our favourite pubs in the county, faces glowing and bellies rumbling. We’ve already been in to sample a Nog- research of course, needed to check it was on for later! Our table is booked for 7pm and we’re treating ourselves to a slap up dinner. I’ve noticed venison pie on the menu- may have done a little jig at the bar in excitement, I had everything crossed that it would be on..

Until next time

Lx

A Winter’s Escape to The Peak District – Twixmas and New Year, 2015-16 – Part 2

Thursday (NYE)

Today dawned a stark contrast to yesterday, a gorgeous crisp winter’s morning with not a cloud in the sky. Today we were saying a reluctant goodbye to Topley Head Farm, and moving onwards, about 8 miles, to another Caravan Club CL- Flagg Hall. We really liked being at Topley Head Farm and cannot get over its price tag of £10 pn. The pitches were spacious, cracking views and all the facilities that we needed. We are stunned we were the only ones there for 4 days!

Continue reading “A Winter’s Escape to The Peak District – Twixmas and New Year, 2015-16 – Part 2”

American adventures on Amtrak- Part 6 Denver, Colarado

We arrived at Denver Union station almost an hour late, but seeing as it was still 09:00 in the morning no one seemed to mind the extra time in our sleeper cars!

   

  

 We were greeted by a coach and tour guide who gave us a whistle stop tour through the city of Denver before dropping us at our hotel. We were under the impression that we would be able to have an early check in, but sadly this never happened, which did result in quite a bit of waiting around the hotel lobby. John, our tour manager took us on a walk around the city, past the Capitol building with its beautiful golden dome and also the house of  Molly Brown, who was a survivor of the ill fated Titanic.  

 
    
   

   
There was a lovely park which was packed with different food trucks and some interesting sculptures dotted around. Keith and I decided to kill some time by nipping back down to the park and get some food- Keith opted for the Italian beef sandwich and I had a meatball baguette. The sun was shining and we enjoyed a relax in the park, before having a quick look around the Capitol building- we were also allowed up to the observation deck just below the dome. The view towards the Rockies was nice and it was an enjoyable way to spend an hour or so whilst we waited for our room to become available. 

              
Once checked in we grabbed a nap- and woke to an enormous thunder clap! We had a chill whilst the storm passed over and then headed into town. Word on the street was that there was a great place to try out local Bison, Ted’s Montana Grill, so we headed there first. Keith had the Bison fillet steak and I had slow cooked bison ribs, both served with local corn. It was delicious. So good that we ended up going back there the next da        

We stopped for a beer on the way back to the hotel in The Yard House, a bar that had a huge selection of local draft ales and lagers. We got id’ed again and as we didn’t have our passports a local chap said he “would vouch for us”! It’s very confusing the laws re alcohol here- we are now having to carry passports all the time,something we don’t like to do, some places insisting its the law to id everyone, others not bothering at all. Strangely, you can buy pot here legally though and don’t get me started on the gun law.. 

Friday dawned and we were up early- we’d booked onto the optional extra excursion up into The Rocky National Park. Our guide was a lively local lady full of interesting facts and stories and our driver was an Indian Chief… Chief Jim. The tour was absolutely fantastic, we drove to an altitude of 12,000 ft through the most impressive scenery we’ve come across, with plenty of stops for piccies and refreshments. Up at 12,000ft there was the risk of altitude sickness, symptoms which we incurred were light headed ness, shortness of breath, and feeling very “floaty”. During our trip we encountered herds of Elk, (a deer like animal) and we think we saw an eagle soaring above. 

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
 We returned to the hotel shortly before 18:30, and we had a quick freshen up before heading out for dinner, back to Ted’s Grill, via The Tilted Kilt, a bar where the waitresses dressed in short mini skirt kilts and bras! We met up with another couple on the trip and went for dinner with them and had a lovely boozy evening.

Next stop, Grand Junction, which is right in the Wild West! Can’t wait! 

Jimmy’s Sausage and Beer Festival 2015

Bluebell the motorhome is having a little rest back at home. She’s been a festival van this weekend – providing us with a warm and dry bed whilst we enjoyed ourselves at Saturday’s Jimmy’s Festival

We booked the tickets for Saturday back in May, when we saw that Chas and Dave were billed for Saturday night- a bargain at £17.50 each we felt. Sadly the camping tickets had already sold out, so we found the closest Caravan Club CL, Rookery Farm, which was 3.5 miles away and only a mere £6 per night (no electric), booked that, and we’re all set. 

Fast forward to Last week, and we were keeping one eye on the weather. Our original plan was to go to Rookery Farm on Fri, and have a cycle around nearby Alton Water. But the weather gods had other plans… come Thursday, we made the decision to cancel our Friday night booking, and see out the torrential weather warning from the comfort of our sofa, instead traveling down to Ipswich first thing Saturday morning. Taxis were booked (more on those later) and we arrived at Rookery Farm in merry spirits as the rain was clearing, and we were set for sunshine! 

    
 We experienced a minor set back when we were waiting for our pre booked 11:45 cab by the side of the busy A road. It had gone 12:30, several unhelpful and downright rude (not from my end) phone calls to the taxi company and still no sign of our vehicle, so we decided to walk. A mile down the road, we noticed our cab about to whizz by and managed to flag him down. No apology from the cab driver as to why he was over an hour late and he promptly drove us a mile down the road, before arriving in a traffic jam, where he says you may as well get out here, it’s a mile to the entrance and its queuing the whole way. Fine we say, so we agree to jump out, and he attempts to charge us £9! For a mile journey that was over an hour late with no apology…. Er, right. Keith immediately says to taxi man, we are not paying you that, you were significantly late, you haven’t apologised and you haven’t done anywhere near the whole journey! Long story short, we end up paying him a fiver, and finish by saying to him, if you’d have just have apologised for the delay, and kept us updated then we would have payed you the full fare. 

So, we arrive, and it’s fair to say that our spirits aren’t that high. We manage to find the beer tent as a matter of urgency, and our spirits begin to be lifted, the choice of beer was fantastic. Heaps of Adnams, Woodfordes, Aspall not to mention all the craft beer too. Then we start smelling the meat cooking, there are loads of stalls, selling sausages, pulled pork, burgers, you name it. It’s not long before we start to feel less stressed.

   
   
  
We decided to do a circuit of the food stalls, and make our way for the acoustic tent, being kid-i-less we didn’t fancy the C Beebies man on the main stage doing the hokey kokey. 🙂 We listened to Louise Rene whilst having a Suffolk Pasty and a pint. She was great.  

    
 We did a few more circuits of the site before taking our chairs down to the main stage and settling in. We didn’t think much of the first couple of acts on the Main stage (they weren’t our cup of tea), but were happy enough sat chilling, drinking and eating, and by now the sun had come out again!    

    
 We enjoyed listening to local band The Nik Lowe band, but our highlights were Sonya Titus, the fabulous Ben Waters Band, who in our opinion rivalled Jools Holland, and don’t get me started on his 14yr old son, also in the band on sax, who absolutely BLEW ME AWAY, and of course Chas and Dave, who despite some sound issues at the start, were brilliant. 

   

    
    
    
   
We enjoyed what we saw of Toploader, but decided to leave early in the hope we would get our taxi without the headaches for 10,000 people leaving at the same time. To put it bluntly, the taxi situation was a nightmare. All pre booked cabs, including ours, had been cancelled and there was an hour and a half wait for a cab. It was chaos, and the stewards were understandably fuming at the local cab companies. We ended up having to walk back, which was less than ideal- a 3.5 mile walk in the pitch black along a busy A road with no path. Luckily, Keith’s years of watching movies came in handy- he took the role of a Navy Seal and managed to deliver the package (me and Jazz!) safely back to Bluebell the motorhome. 

All in all, a brilliant day though, and I’d definately recommend Jimmy’s festival to those wanting a lower key/family/dog friendly festival. Next year hopefully we can get camping tickets, as for us the local cab companies didn’t, but could have, let the whole thing down. 

   
   
*if you’re ever in Ipswich area AVOID Hawks Express Cabs*

The Lovely Lake District- Part 2

Seeing as we had fulfilled our main objective for the trip on our first day, it was decided that days 2 and 3 would be food/drink based around our bellies! Starting as we meant to go on therefore, after a breakfast fit for kings in the beautiful dining room of our hotel, The Ennerdale Country House Hotel, we gathered our bits and pieces and intend the car in the direction of Cockermouth, our first destination of the day. Cockermouth was circled in our mapbook because it’s where all the magic happens……it’s home to Jennings Brewery 👏

   

We’d been enjoying the Cumberland Ale, and on visiting the brewery, we were able to try some of their other, equally delicious beers in their onsite pub/tea rooms.  

   

You may notice that the glasses have Marstons on- the reason for this is that Marstons have just recently bought out Jennings.. So interesting times ahead. Keith said his favourite was the “Cocky Blonde”…… Now, back to the beer….! He also liked the “Sneck Lifter” but that was a bit strong for pre 12:00 drinkies 🙂  

 We didn’t do the brewery tour as we had Jazz with us, but did stock up on some bottles of Ale to bring home. Looking forward to tucking into those sometime soon! Seeing as we still had 45 mins on our parking ticket, and the weather wasn’t brilliant, we felt it would have been rude not to have a quick look at their flagship pub, The Bush Inn, on Cockermouth’s high street (I must add, I was In charge of the wheels so had soft drinks- made up for it in the evenings though!) The Bush Inn was listed on my dog friendly app and the landlord went out of his way to make us feel welcome. It was a great place to spend half and hour- full of locals and nice to watch the world go by. 

  
Next stop was the picturesque road from Cockermouth down the side of Crummock water and onto Buttermere. We’d done this drive a couple of times before in Bluebell- it’s a lovely drive.  

Another place, another pub- as you can see the weather wasn’t so good, so it was nice to have a leisurely drive. We had a drink at The Bridge hotel, Buttermere, another dog friendly establishment and had a nice chat with another couple with a dog, and eyed up the delicious looking meals being sent out to those that were eating. We’d already made our decision to have our main meal mid afternoon at The Fox and Hounds in Ennerdale Bridge, but the prawn sandwiches and chips looked so good that we vowed to pop in tomorrow for lunch! 
   
Our final stop for the day was  The Fox and Hounds in Ennerdale Bridge. This had made its way onto our list as it was the flagship pub for The Ennderdale Brewery, brewers of the enjoyable Ennerdale Blonde we’d been enjoying at our hotel. It’s a very cosy and traditional community owned and run pub, and the food was exceptional. I had Pork belly soaked in Ennerdale beer and Keith and Cumberland Sausage ring and mash. Its a popular spot for walkers on the Coast to Coast trail, not to mention cyclists, locals and even the Ennerdale brewery  chap was there too. 

   
  

  
A fabulous afternoon was spent there- luckily we (I*) only had 3 miles to drive us back to the hotel where I rolled up the stairs into bed for a 2 hour snooze!! Bizarrely enough the only thing that woke us was the sunshine through the window- another first for The Lake District, and so we had drinks in the hotel gardens before being piggy and devouring yet another gorgeous meal!!  
     

^ a pint of Ennerdale Blonde for Keefy and a beefeaters G&T for me- well it was World Gin Day!

 ^ Lady of the manor!! Haha 
The next morning and the sun was still shining- we enjoyed another lovely breakfast, albeit a somewhat lighter affair after our major pig out yesterday. I had smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and Keith tried the poached haddock in milk.  We got the best seat in the house!

Today’s plan was a picturesque drive from Grasemere to Buttermere via the Honister Pass. We took the scenic Route- The B5289 through Rosthwaite and alongside the stunning Derwentwater. Absolutely beautiful- I’ll let the pics oaint the picture so to speak… 

  
^Grasmere

 ^Looking across to Helvellyn
   
^Derwentwater – totally reminded us of Loch Lomond
   

  

  

 ^Ashness Bridge, looking over Borrowdale

   

  

  

  

  

  ^ Surprise View– looking over Derwentwater and Borrowdale. 

   
  

  

 

^Watendlath Tarn and Hamlet

   
           

^ Bowder Stone– a 30ft free standing erratic stone- fantastic!! It defied gravity!!! 

 ^Pit stop at Scafell Hotel, Rosthwaite 
   
  

           

^Honister Pass 

   

  

  

 ^Buttermere 

   

  

 ^Pit Stop- and mighty fine it was too- we had Toffee apple and Chocolate. Mmmmm🍦 

I got the inspiration for the above car tour Here and we loved it. There was lots to see, and handily located National Trust car parks at each location. We paid £4 for a parking ticket which was transferable between all car parks- a nice touch, although National Trust members can park  for free.  

We couldn’t have asked for a better finish to our short break, despite piling on a few pounds hahaha ( we ate and drank like kings and queens!!)  Keith is still raving about Cumbrian Ale- it has such a delicious creamy taste. Yum. 

So concludes another tour, as much as we enjoyed doing the hotel/car thing we missed the motorhome for sureand  are looking forward to our next proper road trip/mini break- hopefully in a couple of weeks! Just need to fix ourselves up with a couple of new bikes and we will be sorted 🚲

Stay tuned, until next time 

Lx 

The Lovely Lake Distict- Part 1

Blubell the Motorhome is parked up safely at home (although she did hear a whisper that she may be getting a little outing in the next couple of weeks!). Today’s blog entry is about a trip in our other motor, Yoda the Skoda, who is in our garage recovering after a mad dash to the Lake District and back! Why didnt we take the motorhome I hear you mutter? The objective of the weekend- The Hardknott Pass.

It all came about a few months ago- I’d asked Keith what he would like for his birthday, given it was only two weeks after the wedding. His answer- a trip over the Hardknott Pass- something we’d been unable to do on all our previous trips to the Lakes, due to the size of our van. I set about searching for a hotel, and came across The Ennerdale Country House Hotel – what’s more, it was dog friendly! Hotel booked, we popped it in the diary and forgot all about it until the wedding had been and gone!

Things are never simple though, are they- Keith started experiencing severe headaches not long after we returned from Paris, and actually spent the run up to his birthday in bed poorly. In fact, I doubted we would get away. Thankfully he managed to get an emergency appointment and was checked over- nothing serious, thank goodness, and doctors orders were a weekend of rest (and mountain air!) and some massages to relieve tension. You don’t need to tell me twice, an hour later, we were on the road- a day earlier than expected, but with one thing in mind- The Lake District. 

7 hours later, we’d pitched (parked!) up at a dog friendly B and B at Bowness on Windermere, Virginia Cottage, where we had managed to get a last minute room booking for that night. First impressions of the area were great, it did help that the weather was absolutely AMAZING. I’ve been to the Lakes for years and years and never had weather like it there before.   

               We had the most glorious evening at Bowness, and enjoyed a delicious meal at The Royal Oak, washed down by a couple of pints of Jennings’ Cumberland Ale, right next door to our digs.     

   Perfect ❤️

Next morning, we woke feeling fresh as daisy- enjoyed a lovely cooked breakfast courtesy of the guest house- Jazz enjoyed his homemade doggy treats, what a nice touch, and we set off- sun burning down on us- I even had to wear sun cream! Never had to do that before in the Lakes I’m sure! 

First stop- the vehicle ferry that crossed Lake Windermere.  

   
     After a short queue, the ferry arrived, we paid our £4.20 and off we went. It was a lovely calm crossing and a great way to see the lake, especially in the sunshine.  

  
 5 mins after driving off the ferry we found ourselves at our fist stop- NT’s Hill Top- once Beatrix Potter’s house, but also where the famous American Painter Thomas Kinkade painted his famous picture “Julianne’s Cottage”. The house was closed but the gardens were magnificent.    

                 Handily there was a lovely looking watering hole next door, therefore I’m sure you agree, it would have been rude not to have nipped in for a “swift half”! 

   
  

       
Next stop- Tarn Hows, also owned by National Trust, a picturesque accessible tarn- ie, you’re a can drive there and there was a nice circular walk of 1.75 miles around.  
        

           There was also a pretty waterfall to visit there, adding about an extra mile onto our walk.  

   
  

  

         
We managed an ice cream after our walk before heading off for the main reason we were there in the first place.. The Hardknott Pass 
     

  

  

  

     
As I am the worst passenger in the history of passengers, there was no way Keefy was getting his hands on the steering wheel- so I took charge and enjoyed the trip over in wonderful conditions. Keith was in charge of pictures- there was only one bit in which he exclaimed “we’re driving up a cliff!” – I checked the handle on the passenger door afterwards and there were no fingernail marks, so I must have done an alright job!  Having said that, I’ve just noticed there are no pictures of us going up!!

   
  

  

  

  

  

  

                   
On the summit of Hard Knott is a Roman fort, so we stopped to have a look/let the brakes/clutch cool off/ admire the many cyclists attempting/ and watch in amazement as a fellow motorhomer tackled the pass!! (In a conversion- but still same length as Bluebell!) – Hats off to you sir!
             
     
By now it was most definitely lunch time, so we drove double speed down the rest of the pass (only joking!) and disembarked at the nearest eatery- the handily located Woolpack Inn in Boot, where we enjoyed some delicious homemade flatbreads. 

   
 Onwards to the hotel where we checked into our decadent room – a real bargain at £60pn incl breakfast, and there we settled into the bar for a few pints of Ennerdale Brewerie’s FABULOUS “Blonde” before turning in for the night, very happy (and mildly tipsy!) bunnies. 

👍🍻