Adventures in the North East of England- using THS

Tuesday

Gandalf the VW is parked up on a rugby pitch- literally next to the goal post- on the outskirts of York. We’re on a rally field essentially, a Temporary Holiday Site (THS) ran by C&CC like a pop up campsite. There are no loos/ ehu or fancy ness- it’s a field with a tap, non and loo emptying facilities, but at £10 pn it’s a bargain and heaps cheaper than the other options for camping in York.

Our journey here from Burnley was smooth and picturesque as we crossed country via the scenic Yorkshire Dales. We pulled into site at lunchtime- in the middle of a county cricket match and had the surreal experience of driving through the cricket match to get to the rally field (the rugby field!)

Set up was quick and easy, and before we knew it we were taking the river path from the site for 20 mins on foot into the centre of York.

We’ve been to York many times, it’s a city we return regularly too and if you’ve not been it’s well worth a visit. It’s rich in history and has the unique Roman city wall walk which can be enjoyed. The shambles – a medieval street with heaps of character is like something off a pantomime set and the majestic minster is also worth a visit.

Our visit today was organised by Keefy- he was keen to visit the Yorkshire life museum as on display currently is an impressive Roman Horde called the Rydale horde. As we had Jazz with us who couldn’t go into the museum, I dog sat in a nearby bar overlooking the river.

As well as the Rydale horde, Keith enjoyed a collection of Prehistoric, Viking, Anglo Saxon and medieval artefacts, all found in York and surrounding areas. He was particularly impressed with the Anglo Saxon helmet dating from 750, considered to be the best preserved in the world and some Viking shoes. He was really impressed with the whole museum and would definitely recommend it.

Follwing this, and reunited once more, we had a quick wander through the city, doing a couple of errands as we passed through, before meeting our friend Gary for a few drinks in the evening.

Our afternoon and evening in York was brief this time, but enjoyable non the less.

Wednesday

After a quiet night on site, we packed up and hit the road at a reasonable hour. We had a 3hr journey north ahead of us- we were heading to Northumberland. We made a stop at National Trust Cragside on route. Somewhere I’d wanted to visit for some time now and thankfully it was cool enough to leave Jazz in the van whilst we went inside together.

Cragside is considered to be Britain’s first “smart home”. Living in a smart home ourselves- Keith loves his technology- I knew we’d enjoy this visit. Built by Lord Armstrong in the Victorian era, this home was carved into rock in a crag- and boasts wonderful views from every corner. But its the pioneering technology inside that makes it’s particularly interesting. Lord Armstrong developed all sorts of gadgets running inside such as hydraulic “dumb editors” – rotating hydraulic spits over the fire, underfloor and over head heating, hot water taps and the first hydroelectric light bulbs in the world.

The thing that blew me away the most was the 10 ton marble fireplace, installed in the “drawing” room – an additional wing built for a royal visit. Lord Armstrong’s pioneering technology gained interest from the Royal family and as such they paid Cragside a visit in the late 1800s. What was fascinating was the idea that their bedroom here would be more advanced than at their own royal home.

After our visit inside we took Jazz for a wander around the grounds before retrieving Gandalf and enjoying the carriage route around the grounds- a 6 mile scenic loop in the car through the grounds.

From here we made a quick stop at Alnwick, filling the fridge with supplies before arriving at our next home, Beadnell Bay THS.

This large rally field, ran by Teesside DA was another corker. Two large fields this time, right opposite a beautiful beach situated walking distance from both Beadnell village and Seahouses. Again, just £10 pn. We paid our dues for 3 nights, and went to set up.

Dinner that night was a homemade curry from home that had been packed in our freezer. We enjoyed a chill before an early night.

Thursday arrived and the weather was drizzly to begin with. We had a fairly lazy morning waiting for the weather to blow over, which it did- before making our way on foot via the gorgeous and empty beach to Seahouses.

Seahouses is a small little village with a couple of pubs, a couple of fish and chip shops, and some touristy gift shops. It’s got a pretty harbour and is know as being the gateway to the Farne islands. There are plenty of boats trips available (although we’d been organised and pre booked ours with Golden Gate).

We enjoyed a delicious lunch of crab soup- Devine! in the Olde Ship- in their beer garden overlooking the Farne Islands. The sun was shining- life was good!

At 3pm we boarded our (dog friendly) boat trip to the Farne Islands. Our boat is the only one which stops at the Indians of Longstone- with its pretty red and white lighthouse, once home to Grace Darling, which we could visit. (Keith went in- I enjoyed the view outside with Jazz).

The boat then continued around the inner and outer Farne islands where we saw lots of birds and seals. Even a couple of puffins- it’s not puffin season anymore so this was a treat!

We really enjoyed the boat trip. A lovely way to enjoy an afternoon.

Once back on dry land, we enjoyed a beer in the Bamburgh Castle pub before enjoying a fish and chip supper at the harbour (from Neptunes- they were delicious!)

We’d had a cracking day, and once back at Gandalf, we enjoyed the last rays of the day with a drink.

Friday

Today we took the bikes out for a pootle along the coastal route. We nipped down into nearby Beadnall to see the 17th century kilns on the harbour wall, before making our back past the THS to Bamburgh.

Bamburgh is home to the phenomenal Bamburgh Castle, which dominates the coastline for as far as you can see. It’s also linked to Lord Armstrong (from Cragside) as he purchased it and restored it in the late 1800s. So tied nicely in with our visit to Cragside a couple of days ago.

The views of the Farne Islands from the grounds (which are dog friendly by the way) are great and the expanse of white Sandy beach below are just stunning.

We took it in turns to go inside – I finished my book whilst Keith went in, and he had a coffee and cake whislt I went in, and both found the interior really interesting.

It was a great visit and one which we’d not planned as we didn’t think it was dog friendly even in the grounds.

We enjoyed cycling a bit beyond the village, admiring the views constantly. What a marvellous section of coast.

Back at the site and we enjoyed a prawn and avacado cocktail and spag bol for tea.

We’d really enjoyed our time here. The THS site runs from July to mid august each year and I think there is another in September. To find out about the THS’s use this link. (You need to be members of C&CC to attend)

If you’d prefer the luxury of a more formal campsite and perhaps ehu, there is a club site next door.

Gandalf had coped admirably with 4 nights off grid, we’d had a mix of weather so the solar panel didn’t get sun ALL the time. The thing with VW’s is the fridge running of the leisure battery rather than gas which is a shame and makes off grid a bit more of a challenge. Having said that, ours managed – we just ran the fridge and water pump off the solar panel and van leisure battery. We then used this – a new gadget for this trip- to charge phones and run the 12v shower, plus give us light for the evening. It worked a treat.

This area is an ideal base for a few days as there are bus stops outside the site for routes along the coast, to Alnwick or even Newcastle. So plenty to do without moving your van.

What a great time we’d had. But it was time to move on! Where next?!

An escape to the coast- Sea Palling, Norfolk

Gandalf the Campervan is back out on the road again after an extended break of non camping, due to increased work load, rising fuel costs, a trip of a lifetime to Peru and family commitments; but an opportunity came up this weekend for us to nip away for the night for a change of scenery. Providing Gandalf passed his MOT on Friday, which he did, with flying colours once again. Well done Gandalf!

Due to the dreaded scheduled mot, we left it very late to book somewhere, but we were also mindful of not wanting to travel too far or to somewhere too expensive. We’re currently chugging through around £130-£150 a week in diesel for work, so our down time miles are being very carefully planned out! And we’re using our electric bikes much more for non work leisure time.

I’d been thinking for a while about how we should perhaps give a Temporary Holiday Site (THS) a go this summer, so when I saw one happening this weekend near the sea in Norfolk, and the weather looked good, I gave the steward managing bookings a call. I couldn’t believe our luck when she said they had room for us- and even better- just £10 for the night.

THS’s are a cross between a pop up campsite and a rally field. They are part of the Camping and Caravanning club and tend to be large fields, with a water tap and an Elsan emptying point and not much else. Those who attend need to have their own facilities member of C&CC. They tend to last just a couple of weeks to a month and are all over the UK, especially in the summer. You can find a list here

We were a little apprehensive about our first try; we are burnt out from a hectic and stressful half term, and although we are normally fairly sociable people- this weekend we needed to sit and read and have some quiet time. We worried that by attending we would need to join in activities etc, and we just weren’t in the mood for that. Still, we decided to give it a whirl, a decision helped by the fact this particular THS was on the coast at picturesque Sea Palling, Norfolk.

We arrived just before lunch, and were greeted by a really friendly steward who checked us in, took our money and told us we were free to pitch up wherever we liked (as long as we were 10 paces from the next unit). No faffing about lining up to pitch markers. And no signs of groups of people sat round campfires.

We found a suitable corner of the field with a terrific view over the corn fields. The high sand dunes were just to our right and in the distance we could see the iconic red and white stripes of Happisburgh lighthouse, just 1 mile or so down the road or beach.

Set up was quick and we were soon saying cheers with a nice cold beer, feeling the stress if he previous weeks beginning to seep away.

We made our way the short distance to the beach and couldn’t get over our luck as we crossed the sand dune. The glorious Sandy beach was practically empty. The stony breakwaters in the sea ahead reminded us of being in Greece.

We settled on the beach for a couple of hours enjoying the lapping of the waves and a couple of cold drinks and our books.

Soon though our bellies started rumbling so we walked about half a mile along the beach towards the main resort of Sea Palling. A small but active seaside village with a bar, fish and chip shop, beach shop, one small amusement arcade and a donut shop. It was a bit fresh on the beach but glorious sunshine.

We enjoyed eating our fish and chip lunch on the beach, before a spot more people watching and reading before making our way back to Gandalf. Where I promptly fell into a deep nap! Perfect. The site was so quiet. All I could hear was the ripple of the corn in front of us in the breeze. Honestly it was just what we needed.

We grabbed showers using our 12v shower and gas kettle combo (no electric here- the so;at pane; was doing well as it was actually quite hot off the beach). Before cooking up delicious steaks and noddles whilst watching the sunset over the field.

Once the sun had set we went inside to continue reading before falling into a heavy slumber after lots of fresh air. The site still was oh so quiet.

Sunday dawned and we were allowed to ‘not rush off’. So we had a lie in, then a full cooked breakfast on the Cadac, before another hour or so on the now much busier beach.

I think we could have stayed all day but we had things to do at home, plus it was verging on a bit warm for Jazz, even with the slight sea breeze. So around midday we made our sad retreat back to Gandalf to pack away and make the short journey home. My goodness what s difference 24 hours can make. We really needed that escape.

We absolutely loved our THS experience. This particular one is located on a rally field of a certified campsite also part of the C&CC network. It’s called ‘Keith Farm’ and looked lovely. The campsite has electric hook ups too and a couple of hard standings too. But for our needs this weekend the THS was just what we needed.

This TMH can house 70 units over two large fields, but only 40 were on site this weekend.

You can find the list of this years THS’s here– but you do need to be a member to see it in full.

We’ve got two more weeks to work, including two days in school during the heatwave… , a family funeral to attend and then 5 weeks of summer fun ahead of us. Some of which will be spent in Gandalf of course. So we look forward to sharing our adventures with you soon.

Until next time

Lx

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 😉
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A Royal Retreat; Part 1

The trouble with writing a blog post having had some fizz, is it ends up in the wrong place!

So please click on the link for this mornings blog list about our first day on tour yesterday at Hampton Court Palace!

A Royal Retreat; Part 1

Our morning view at Chertsey Camping and Caravan Club site

Adventures in Dorset Part 2

Friday 31st May

After a wonderful stay at Corfe Castle, it was time to move on to our final location on this trip – Charmouth. We took a small detour to go to the back at Studland Bay, where we got the paddleboard out and had a lark around for an hour or so – the sea was like a mill pond and I even managed to get on my feet!

The journey to Charmouth took a couple of hours, but we did a stop at Morrison’s to replenish Ruby’s cupboards. The forecast was looking excellent so we decided to stock up for two more bbqs. I don’t think we’ve ever had so many bbqs by this point of the year – it’s been a fab year of weather on our trips so far.

On arrival at Charmouth C&CC we were shown to our pitch- which was humongous. We set our stall out quickly, and decided to enjoy the sunshine with a chill outside Ruby for the remainder of the day.

Location wise, getting to Charmouth wasn’t as simple as we’d hoped it would be, without using Ruby that is. There were no bus routes and we were about 5 miles downhill (meaning 5 miles uphill on our return) to cycle. We decided to make use of the walking route down to Charmouth – which was about a 3 hour routebut looked quite challenging. That could wait til tomorrow, so after showers in the brand new and rather impressive shower block, which the wardens are extremely proud of, we sparked up the barbie and enjoyed our evening on site.

Saturday dawned sunnier than we could have hoped for. A beach day was definitely on the cards, so we packed a picnic and some drinks, and made our way on the campsite route down to Charmouth. It was mainly downhill, following quiet country lanes, before going onto a footpath which lead over lush grassy paddocks all the way down into Charmouth.

Charmouth is a small but rather traditional seaside resort. The beach area is pretty and has a large car park and cafe, but not much else- not that we required anything else. We spent a good hour or so dozing on the beach and enjoying our picnic -the area on the left of the beach huts is dog friendly.

By this point we felt certain that we wouldn’t walk back – it was mainly up hill – so we decided to carry on along the beach for a couple of miles or so to get to Lyme Regis. The walk from Charmouth to Lyme Regis along the beach needs to be timed with care- don’t get caught out with the tides.

This stretch of beach is extremely popular with fossil hunters – young and old, we were accompanied by the sounds of special hammers tapping the rocks as we watched -everyone eager to find some fossils.

Lyme Regis was absolutely beautiful. I’m so glad we made the effort to carry on. Still traditional but larger in size – we passed the museum and wandered along the promenade, stopping for some ice cream – purbeck ice cream is Devine!

We wandered around the harbour, soaking in the atmosphere and the sunshine, before stopping at the fishmongers for some treats for our final night bbq and having a cheeky beer on one of the beach front beer gardens. Luckily we managed to source a taxi to take us back to Ruby else it would have been a long walk home – we’d clocked up 7 miles by now. But we’d loved it!

Our bbq tonight was amazing – monkfish and chorizo kebabs, halloumi kebabs and sea bass. A wonderful way to close our tour of Dorset. We’d had a blast, eaten and drank some wonderful local food, and enjoyed some fantastic walks.

I think we will be back here again sometime that’s for sure.

Until next time

Lx

A weekend at Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show

Ruby the VW Campervan is parked up on the C&CC site at Cambridge. It’s a quiet site despite being only a couple of miles from the centre of Cambridge, and has the usual high standard of facilities and cleanliness that we have come to enjoy this year, as we’ve stayed mainly on Club Sites.

The reason for our visit – as we are under an hour from home – is the Duxford Battle of Britain airshow. We booked our tickets in February, and booked the campsite at the same time as this event is so popular that it sold out a number of weeks ago. We opted to stay over and get a weekend ticket – which actually was only a couple of pounds more than just a one day ticket, due to reports of terrible traffic chaos last year. Plus we could both enjoy a proper drink. After quite a bit of research, we decided to book this campsite due to it’s close proximity to Trumpington Park and Ride, where there is a free shuttle to and from the airshow.

After a day of gigs and chores, we didn’t actually leave home till after 5pm on Friday and we been had dinner before leaving. It only took us an hour to get to the campsite and it was the quickest set up we’ve ever had! Within 10 minutes, we were having a little walk to the local the pub for a pint. The Hudson’s Ale house was about 15 minutes walk away towards Trumpington Park and Ride and we enjoyed a pint of their Hudson Ale and Lager before heading back to Ruby for a good sleep. I don’t know about you but I always sleep so well in the campervan.

Saturday – a day at the airshow

Saturday morning dawned rather early as we had set an alarm. The gates opened at the air show at 8am, so we decided to have an early shower and bacon and egg bap before walking with our chairs and a picnic down to the park and ride for 9am. We stopped at the Waitrose for a fresh baguette for our cheese and pate picnic.

When we arrived at the Park and Ride there was already a massive queue for the shuttle – but it was early still and so we didn’t mind too much. We waited for over an hour and only one shuttle bus had arrived. About 200 people had joined the queue behind us and there were no members of staff advising the situation – the mood was a bit panicky all round as we all knew the flying started at 12:45 and you could sense people calculating how many buses would need to suddenly appear to get us to Duxford in time. Some people at the front had been there since 7.30am!

By 10.15 I had decided I didn’t want to wait any longer, so arranged for an UBER to pick us up. A couple of ladies behind us heard me sounding off to Keith and said they would come in with us if we didn’t mind and spilt the fare. 10 minutes later our ride arrived – an 8 seater! It seemed silly for us to only fill half of it, and not entirely knowing how much it would be, I shouted out to the Queue – 4 spaces – who wants to join us! Better to split it 8 ways than 2!

Taxi full to capacity and the driver instructed to take the NON motorway route – twitter had informed us the buses and half of the Duxford crowd were stuck on the motorway – and 20 minutes later we had arrived half a mile from the entrance. The driver kindly let us exit before the official entrance rather than sitting in the traffic jam he could turn round and go back the way we came. The fare came to just £14! I chucked on a fiver tip, and we all paid £2.50. Situation taken control of- 8 happy strangers marched the half an mile to Duxford and joined another queue to get in!

Once in, we found a place to set our chairs up and paid and extra fiver to walk the flight line. I’m not sure whether this was worth it or not, we weren’t blown away – however that may because the weather had decided to go awol and start to rain, despite the forecast saying it wouldn’t. I think to be honest the stress of getting there had exhausted us!

We settled down with a couple of pints of Spitfire and awaited the opening of the flying. The opening act was 16 Tiger Moths in formation marking 100 years of the RAF.

The flying went on for 5 full hours and was terrific value for money, it really was. We saw pre WW1, WW1, WW2, Korean, American aircraft – plus modern. Sadly the rain had set in however and we were cold and wet! But we perservered as the forecast for tomorrow was even worse. Photos were impossible as the rain made them unable to focus!

The Red Arrows were an absolute highlight – they were just terrific and lifted the crowd (and our) moods no end. 20,000 people were there and every single person was silent. It was actually eeery! Wonderful stuff.

The finale to the show was a flypast formation of 19 Spitfires in the air – the largest ever to have displayed at an airshow. Despite being cold, wet and tired, it was just phenomenal.

As they started landing after the flypast, they played Nimrod over the speakers and I realised that the water on my cheeks was not rain, I was in fact bawling like a baby! It was utterly emotional and I can’t believe that almost half the crowd had left directly after the Red Arrows and before the finale so missed it.

The airshow finished at 5.45pm and getting back to Trumpngton Park and Ride was a mission. We ended up queuing up for another hour and half and so we didn’t get back to Ruby until 8pm. We were very tired and cold, but the joys of a lovely hot shower was wonderful, and a quick and easy reheat of a spag bol I’d made previously made made for a stress free dinner time. We were in bed snoring by 9.15pm dreaming of the spitfires.

Sunday dawned rainy and then some! It was so wet that we decided to forget about the Park and Ride and have a lay in before getting Ruby as close to Duxford as we could, for a quick walk around the indoor sections of the museum before coming home. We’d written off seeing the flying as we assumed, like most according to Twitter, that there wouldn’t be any due to the abysmal weather.

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings

When will us British learn NOT to trust the weather forecast? We found a great (free) parking spot within a mile of the front gate (I’m not going to name it as it may not be there next year!), and dressed head to toe in waterproofs made for the museum. Today there wasn’t a queue – mind you we were arriving closer to midday than 11am as we did yesterday.

We explored the whole of the main museum hanger, looking at Concorde and the Lancaster up close, amongst others. Duxford Museum is a great day trip by the way, we’ve been before, but it was good to relook around.

The flying schedule was exactly the same at the Saturday, but I requested to Keith that we nipped outside to watch the Typhoon display as I loved that yesterday but didn’t film it as it caught me completely off guard and I was just in awe of it. I just loved the immensity of the noise it made! It was wonderful!

So out of the hanger we emerged – to beautiful blue sky and sunshine! Can you believe it? All the rain had cleared up, so we stayed at the airshow, dressed in our waterproofs which we really could have done with yesterday, and enjoyed seeing all the displays again, this time with blue sky as the backdrop and no raindrops affecting the focus of my cameras.

The new Lightening bomber

Our favourites were the Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane flypast,

The mustangs

the red arrows

and of course the spitfires, although it was too windy for all 19 today.

We had a terrific afternoon- our mood completely lifted by being warm and dry. Our secret parking spot was away from the congestion of everyone leaving, so we were back home by 7.30pm feeling very satisfied from a great weekend.

Would we recommend Duxford Battle of Britain Airshow? Absolutely! However, I think their logistical arrangements sucked. If we were to go again, we would stay at Cambridge campsite and cycle. We couldn’t this time as Keefy was recovering from a minor op on his leg. There are loads of bike parking spaces at Duxford. Or I’d park a mile away (check google earth for back roads with laybys and walk- but get there very very early. And take your waterproof trousers EVEN if its forecast for sunshine all day!

I hope you like my pics of the planes, I really enjoyed snapping away and was stunned at the performance of my hand held Sony Superzoom camera. Lots of people with HUUUUGE lenses on their cameras but I’m pretty chuffed with my pics and it is very portable.

Until next time

Lx

Touring The Thames Valley: Part 1, Chertsey

The Thames Towpath has been on our list of places to visit for quite a while now, but as with all these things, things get bumped up/down, life or sometimes long haul trips get in the way, you know how it goes. We both naturally enjoy being around water and enjoy walking and cycling along Rivers and Canals. For one thing, they are usually dead flat – so no sneaky hills for us to contend with!

This Summer Holiday gave us the ideal opportunity to get cracking on our Thames Towpath walk, and luckily we were able to get booked on to a couple of Club sites in ideal locations for us. So, after a gig on Friday morning, we threw everything we needed into Ruby the VW Campervan and set off south, only getting caught up briefly around Heathrow, which wasn’t bad considering it was the Friday before the last bank holiday and we were travelling in the afternoon.

Our first campsite base was the Camping and Caravan Club site at Chertsey – situated right on the banks of the Thames, overlooking Chertsey Lock and Weir it was an ideal location for us. The Club Site was clean, spacious and tidy and we were very happy with our pitch which had a lovely view of the river.

Last night I made a homemade Chicken Dhansak which I’d portioned up for our dinner tonight – an easy and delicious meal for our first night. Across the road from the club site is a 24 hours Spa and Petrol station so after a quick wander down the Thames and a pint at the local pub, The Kingfisher, we popped in and picked up a samosa to accompany our DIY curry night. The fresh samosas heated up very well in our Ridgemonkey.

As the site is situated close by to Heathrow, you get to watch the planes as they are ascending. We downloaded an app called Flight radar which was amazing as it told us where the flight was going and how long its flight was. We are so nosy and probably a bit geeky but we enjoyed ourselves!

We had a great night sleep and actually didn’t wake up until 10am – which must be a camping first for us! The noise of the planes or the M3 certainly didn’t bother us!

After a quick bacon bap, we made a packed lunch and donned our walking boots – we were heading off onto the Thames Path for a walk towards Shepperton.

The walk was a suggested walk off the C&CC website and took in the section of Thames Towpath between Chertsey and Shepperton, then we crossed the river via a 500 year old passenger ferry, before returning back to Chertsey via Weybridge and the River Wey. It was a lovely walk – and there were some absolutely magnificent riverside houses to admire the entire way round.

We enjoyed a half way beer at The Old Crown in Weybridge which was a quirky and historical little pub with a lovely terrace overlooking the river. The second half of the walk passed by a charming lock-keepers cottage, managed now by the National Trust.

You can view the walk as a PDF here: Chertsey-Shepperton

When we got back to Ruby, I put two jacket potatoes in the slow cooker (see recipe here) and settled in our chairs outside with a cider watching the planes and making the most of the late summer sun. 3 hours later, I reheated up a mexican bean and beef chilli that mum had made us whilst we were away in Cuba (thanks mum!) and we served it along with the jacket spuds and tacos and salad. It was delicious, and just what we needed after a long walk – plus the temperature was just starting to drop – proper comfort food.

Sunday dawned wet, wet, wet!

Well, it wouldn’t be a bank holiday would it without some rain. Actually we didn’t mind it at all – some on the site were packing up and heading home, but we made the most of the enforced rainy day, but staying in bed till almost 2pm and having a massive chill- reading, catching up on crappy tele. All the things you don’t do when its clear and you feel you should make the most of the day!

A break in the rain around 5pm meant a mad dash to the pub (well we had to walk Jazz!) for a swift pint – Keith enjoyed the local Windsor and Eaton Brewery Ale whilst I had a glass of fizz. Dinner on Sunday was a delicious Swartz Slow Cooker mix – chicken in red wine, served with mashed potatoes. It was gorgeous even if I do say so myself!

Bank Holiday Monday arrived and it was time to move to our next site. We’d brought the Kayak and Stand Up Paddleboard with us to try out, as the Chertsey site has a launch point onsite. However because of the rain yesterday, we didnt get chance to launch, so we decided to stop enroute to our next site in Henley on Thames for a go instead. On our walk on Saturday we had spotted somewhere suitable for us to drive to and launch, so shortly after breakfast we waved bye to the Chertsey Club site and drove the short distance to Chertsey Mead B carpark. *This carpark has a height barrier of 2.1m in height

The Aldi Stand Up Paddleboard was fantastic – it took less than 10 mins to roll out and inflate. The Kayak sadly had picked up a hole in its bottom chamber and therefore we couldnt use it. We both had a good go on the SUP and I even managed to STAND UP! (for roughly a minute and a half!) It was exciting and we both felt proud that we’d given it a go and got across the Thames and back without drowning! (we do wear lifejackets!)

After a clean down of both the board and ourselves, we made our way to Runnymead National Trust- the site where the Magna Carta was signed and sealed over 800 years ago! The National Trust Parking is right on the river bank and is the perfect place for a picnic – something which everyone was doing. It was wonderful – I loved having a picnic of pizza (cooked in the ridgemonkey) and cheese, and salami whilst watching the boats going by. If I’d have realised we would have been picnicking here, I would have gone to far more effort – but we will definitely return here.

After lunch, we took a wander down to see the JFK memorial – apt as we will be visiting the site where he was assinated in just a couple of months in Dallas. We also looked at the Magna Carta monument. There were tons of walks that were avaiable and wonderful open meadowland. I really recommend a visit before the summer is out if you’ve not been and have time.