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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time

Lx

Adventures at Trewethett Farm C&MC club site, North Cornwall; May Half Term Part 2

Gandalf the VW is parked with a million dollar view, overlooking the North Cornwall coastline in between Boscastle and Tintagel. We are staying in what has to be the best C&MC Club site on their network; Trewethett Farm Club Site. Despite booking this months and months ago we only managed to book a pitch with no electric for our two night stay, something that’s been on my mind. But as soon as we arrived all worried disappeared. I reckon we’ve bagged the best pitch on the campsite. Look at the view!

As we left Minehead this morning we made a stop to Gallox Bridge in Dunster. This is a medieval double arched park horse bridge which dates from the 15th century and is a rare surviving example.

We then made the 2.5 hour drive towards Boscastle, stopping at a lovely farm shop, Hilltop Farm as we neared Boscastle.

On arrival we couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw our pitch. Absolutely spectacular. Annoyingly as I emptied the boot the entire food box came crashing out and we sacrificed an entire bottle of red wine! Once we cleared up that mess, we continued setting up and had a drink and a quick sandwich.

We then walked the two mile rather undulating but massively spectacular path to Boscastle along the SWCP.

The water looked incredible and the coastline is just stunning. As we descended into Boscastle we stopped for ice creams, before a drink at the Cobweb Inn and a wander around the now quiet (it was 6pm) streets. Bosvastle’s harbour walls date from 1500s and the streets (there aren’t many) are lined with pretty fisherman’s cottages.

We thankfully had a bus, the last of the day, the 95 to bring us all the way to the campsite (it’s a request stop) for a very worthwhile £5 (£2.50pp single)

Dinner was bbq cod served with asparagus and rice and we sat enjoying the sunset, which was delicious. We could have been in the Mediterranean. Absolutely perfect!

Tuesday dawned a bit draughty to say the least! In fact the wind became so bad in the night that around midnight we LITERALLY battened our hatches by dropping the pop top down!

This morning therefore we declared a rest, and had a fairly lazy start to the day; neither could draw our eyes from the wonderful view!

We enjoyed haddock and poached eggs on muffins for breakfast before taking a very slow walk along the coast path towards Tintagel; my injury still playing me up a touch. With no deadlines or plans today we were free to stop and admire the view as much as we liked, which turned out to be every five mins or so!

When we arrived at Tintagel, we lucked out once more as Ye Old Malthouse, a pretty and old pub with outdoor seating, had a table leaving. We took this as a sign and jumped onto the table. One quick look at the lunch menu and we were drawn in, ordering Cornish crab scotch eggs, and Cornish seafood bisque and the mussels to share. The food was exceptional. A real treat!

We spent the rest of the afternoon having a wander around the town of Tintagel. As we’ve visited before it took the pressure off the need for us to be racing around and cramming stuff in, so we enjoyed a more leisurely afternoon. English heritage have built a new suspension bridge leading up to the remains of King Arthur’s castle, but as we hadn’t booked tickets we were unable to try it out.

We caught the number 95 bus back to the campsite before having an hour out in the sun on our banana chairs, enjoying our premium view.

Dinner tonight was seafood kebabs with rice, once again in front of the most wonderful view, which continued all the way until sunset.

We’ve absolutely adored this site and have been very tempted to try to extend our stay here. But rather than do that we’ve decided to continue with our next site which we move to tomorrow and make it a priority to revisit this site, although whether we’ll be as blessed with the weather and pitch again, who knows!

Until next time

Lx

Adventures in London 🇬🇧

Gandalf the Grey is nestled underneath a rather famous landmark on the London Skyline. No, it’s not the Big Ben, or the London Eye; it’s the radio transmitter mast at Crystal Palace!

We’ve had this break booked in for some time, and have been carefully monitoring whether we’d be able to able to travel and actually make the trip for some time too. The reason for the visit was to make use of our historic Royal Palaces membership which we invested in for the coming year: in February.

After a fairly smooth journey to London on Friday morning we had a very quick set up before jumping on the conveniently located number 3 bus which stops near enough outside the campsite and takes you all the way to Westminster. We then made our way west on the District line towards Kensington. We paused for a drink before making our way to Kensington Palace; childhood home to Queen Victoria and many of the young royals over the past few years; including Princess Diana and even now, HRH Prince William and the Duchess Kate.

Kensington Palace turned out to be a highlight of our visit. They focused on 3 different eras of Royals, one of which was Queen Victoria and there were quite a few original items on display that belonged to the young Queen, including an old dress from when she was 12 years old and her Coronation Robe.

Because of a Covid tickets are pre book only and we hit jackpot as we were the only ones there! We had a very happy few hours wandering around taking in every room. Personal highlights for me were seeing a room where court composer Handel played and seeing a dress of Princess Diana’s.

After our visit we took a wander around Kensington Gardens, enjoying the bright Autumn sunshine and the fact that we’d escaped terrible weather in Norfolk!

We popped for a drink at another pub in Kensington before making our way to our previous booked table at a local Thai, which was fabulous! New laws had just come in meaning we needed to wear masks which we were more than happy to do as we entered and exited pubs and restaurants, and the whole system was working well and we felt safe.

Can you believe this was taken at 7.30pm on Friday night in central London.

Saturday dawned bright but chilly and were were up fairly early admiring the Crystal Palace mast through our pop up windows! We took the number 3 bus again, this time alighting at Brixton before jumping on the tube to Borough Market. We had a drink at the historic National Trust pub, The George, a Galleried pub underneath the Shard, before picking up fish and chips at Borough Market.

We then walked along the River Thames to Tower Bridge before crossing it and entering The Tower of London.

Like yesterday it was very quiet, there were no queues for the Crown Jewels, we could take our time and when there were areas that clogged up (the Bloody Tower) we were able to stand back and wait for others to clear out. It was amazing seeing not only the Crown Jewels but all the other coronation equipment such as the 12th Century spoon that is used and even an 11th C chess piece.

We really enjoyed our visit, but there is just so much to take in, I will admit, I got a bit over tired at one point!

From here we walked to another favourite spot of ours, St Katherine Docks.

By now the weather had become a bit chilly and drizzly, but we enjoyed our drink on the gallery at The New Inn.

We decided to walk all the way down the North side of the river for 3 miles towards Embankment and Westminster. We passed an old section of the Roman City wall which was pretty impressive. Everywhere was just so quiet, considering it was a Saturday evening it felt eery.

Part of us liked it, part of us found it a bit weird! Either way we were pleased to have London near enough to ourselves though! We managed to bag the best seat in the house at The Tattershall Caste, a floating barge pub, moored directly opposite the London Eye so had a couple of drinks here before making our back back to Horse Guard Parade for our bus back to Crystal Palace.

We had a great time using our Historic Royal Palaces membership. As a charity they really are struggling right now with the devastating effects of Covid on their finances. I worry that they will struggle to continue looking after these historic venues for much longer, so if you are able please think about booking a visit. They have got such strict covid procedures in place, we felt so safe, and the staff were genuinely overjoyed to see us having had month of no visitors.

Crystal Palace, we’ll be back another time to tick off some more of our ever growing London List!

Until Next Time

Lx

Adventures on the Weavers Way, Norfolk

Seeing as the weather forecast for this weekend was so good, we decided to jump into Ruby again for a cheeky night away on Saturday, two weekends away in a row – how lovely!

Our wheels we once again set towards North Norfolk, this time towards The Weavers Way at North Walsham. The Weavers Way is a 61 mile footpath – parts of which are disused railway lines – and it takes it name from the cloth industry that was once one of the areas major industries.

We were staying at another Caravan and Motorhome club CL site, this time with no facilities other than hook up, tap and disposal facilities. Old Bridge Farm is situated conveniently just off the Weavers Way- perfect for our weekend of walking and enjoying the weather.

After a quick lunch, which we enjoyed in the beautiful sunshine, we actually had a quick nap! Feeling much more rested, we don our boots and head towards Aylsham on the Weavers Way.

Less than a mile from the site we came across one of the most well preserved stations we’ve seen on these disused railways; Felmingham Station. Sadly it’s not in use- it would make a wonderful cafe.

The banks along the Weavers Way are steep in places and full of pretty butterflies. We really enjoyed our 3.5 miles stroll to Aylsham before doing an about turn and making our way back to Ruby.

Once again, Keefy found an appropriate blind spot to take a shower, although the wind was a bit fresher than last week so it was a bit cooler.

We sat for a while, enjoying the peace and quiet before moving inside for dinner- that wind was very fresh!

Dinner was teriyaki salmon, noodles and stir fry. I used the Remoska to cook the salmon and it was delicious.

We ended up going to bed at 8.45pm – what party animals lol! And slept soundly until 7am. Must have needed that! These CLs are wonderfully quiet though – a real place to relax and unwind.

The sunrise was spectacular

As we had woken up so early, and the forecast for later in the day was rain, we got up early and went for a walk in the opposite direction, to North Walsham. It was just over a mile, so we walked about 2.4 miles in total. The light was wonderful.

We really enjoyed our time exploring the Weavers Way and highly recommend this campsite – it’s location and serenity were perfect and at just £12pn, we felt a real bargain.

On the way back we stopped for some local potatoes at a nearby farm and then at a farm shop for some leeks. Leek and potato for lunch!

Until next time

Lx

Adventures on the Marriott’s Way, Norfolk

It’s been a busy couple of weeks back at school, stress levels have been high and I was itching to get away for a night for a change of scenery. We’ve been meaning to revisit the Marriott’s Way, a disused railway line now turned into recreational track, that runs 26 miles from Aylsham to Norwich. Last time we visited we stayed about half a mile off the Marriotts Way, but whilst cycling along spied a quirky little Caravan and Motorhome club certified site (5 van site) in an old station situated right ON the Marriott’s Way. We made a mental note to revisit sometime – it’s only taken us 4 years!

More info about the Marriott’s Way can be found here

We got a last minute pitch at The Station, Attlebridge, and on Saturday morning left ours around 10am, arriving at the campsite at 11am – we’d checked that we could arrive early. This CL has a small toilet, hookup, tap and emptying facilities, so we decided to make use of the solar shower. What we love about CLs is the flexibility to park however we wish, rather than the more regimented club sites. We took advantage of this and parked side-wards on, and within 5 minutes we were enjoying a cuppa and admiring the view.

The Station Campsite is host to the former platform and station buildings and has lovingly resorted signalling box and gates, and even a small stretch of railway line. It’s ever so quirky and it’s big grassy paddock is perfect for a small quiet campsite.

After lunch, we put our best foot forward, this time opting to walk the Marriotts Way.

We walked as far as the Whitwell and Reepham railway, where there is a museum and cafe/bar – a distance of around 4.5miles.

The trouble with walking the Marriotts Way is that it’s linear, so we retraced our steps back to the campsite, clocking up 9 miles in total. We absolutely loved it though – it’s flat and easy walking. There are some old bridges and railway banks to admire, and at this time of year the tree canopies are really pretty.

Back at the campsite and Keith found a blind spot at the back of Ruby for his solar shower, which had heated up nicely in the sun on the roof of Ruby! We enjoyed a couple of (non alcoholic as we are doing sober September) drinks in the late afternoon sunshine, before knocking up a delicious pasta carbonara with some left over gammon. It was great to be able to cook and eat outside- we do love Indian summers.

We sat outside until the last rays of lights dipped behind the trees, reading and keeping an eye out for owls. We heard two but didn’t see them- before turning in for a early night.

Sunday morning dawned as bright as the day before so we enjoyed breakfast al fresco before walking in the opposite direction towards Norwich.

We covered a further 3 miles reaching Drayton before turning back to Ruby and waving bye to our perfect spot to relax for the weekend.

This campsite is perfect location for the Marriotts Way and at just £14 was a bargain.

We may well be back sometime soon!

Until next time

Lx

Adventures in Suffolk – a night away near Orford

Ruby the VW campervan is parked up on the beautiful and idyllic ‘Tumbleweed’; a Camping and Motorhome Club certified location situated 4 miles outside of Orford on the Suffolk coast.

We decided to avoid the club sites during the August holidays this year as even during the May half term they were packed and fairly noisy. We’ve been quite busy doing gigs and a handful of teaching since returning from our Canada and Alaska and fancied some peace and quiet. Tumbleweed (£14 pn) had a space free despite our fairly late booking and even better, it had a shower (£1 for a 10 minute shower) and toilet on site.

We arrived just before 1200 and instantly relaxed. The site, despite only hosting 5 vans, is a relatively large and beautifully landscaped site, nestled just to the side of the owners house. There are a couple of hard standing pitches and the rest are grass. We chose the pitch closest to the small stream that runs alongside the site.

We wasted no time in getting the bikes off the back of Ruby and pointing our wheels in the direction of Orford, just 4.5 miles away along a small quiet lane.

Seeing as we’d arrived at lunchtime, and the pubs on this this stretch of coast weirdly stop serving food at around 2.30 despite it being the height of summer, we decided to have our fish and chips lunch before our walk so we didn’t run the risk of missing out!

Orford is very famous for its Castle, a unique and fantastically preserved polygonal tower keep, which stands proudly above the small village and is seen for miles along the coast on a clear day. It’s looked after now by English Heritage and worth a visit. We visited a few years ago so didn’t go inside today. Dogs are allowed in.

Orford is also famous for its fishing – it’s been a fishing port for years and years and as such you can find the famous Pinney’s of Orford smokehouse shop here. They still fish on two boats from Orford quay and have a large smokehouse just behind. It’s the place to buy your smoked fish from round here.

In the Jolly Sailors, our lunch venue, they were selling a pint of Pinney’s smoked prawns, something we’ve not seen before, so we of course ordered a pint to share followed by two battered fish and chips.

Both were delicious and washed down by the local Adnams lager. It took all my strength not to order the adnams gin which is fab, but I’ve got a bottle at home so resisted.

After lunch, we moved our bikes to the large car park where there was ample bike parking and began our country walking route.

We followed the estuary for a couple of miles following the Suffolk coastal path. And then cut inland before following a good path back to the castle.

We would have had a drink at the other pub in the village but it was closed – I told you, weird opening hours! – so grabbed some Suffolk gold cheese, and cycled back to Ruby. The return journey was a little easier on the legs.

Back at Ruby, we had a quick shower set our stall out and made the most of the sunshine and peace and quiet. We sat out until gone 8pm reading. It was perfection.

Once the sun had gone down, we moved inside and had a simple dinner made up of some leftovers from a Mexican bbq we cooked at the weekend and settled down to watch a film, but we didn’t even make 20 minutes before our eyelids became increasingly heavy, so we called an early night!