An Autumnal visit to Grafham Water, Cambridgeshire

The nights are drawing in and the leaves are turning golden brown. There is the faint smell of smoke lingering in the air and it feels acceptable to draw the curtains, get the Jim jams on and watch strictly back to back. Autumn is here and al out rolled into winter! I feel like I’ve blinked and lost 8 weeks- since returning from our epic Europe adventure, poor Bluebell the motorhome has been having a big rest in storage, whilst we have seemed to be non stop! I couldn’t believe it, 8 weeks since our last adventure in a motorhome, it was most certainly time to go and get Bluebell and hit the road for a few days to catch the last few days of this gorgeous autumn we are having.

Half term began for us at 7pm on Thursday, when we headed north in the car to Newark, where we dropped Jazz off for a weekend with my mum, then caught an early train up to Edinburgh- Keith had treated me to a weekend of non driving, and even so,asked out for first class- not that we will bother with that again, virgin east coast were diabolical and provided a disappointing start to my birthday weekend. We arrived in Edinburgh and had 3 great, booze fuelled nights staying with Simon, Keith’s cousin, in Leith. I set myself a target of trying every gin available in Scotland, and think I probably smashed it! A highlight was our visit to the Royal Britannia Yacht. Well worth a visit if you haven’t been, we loved it.


Monday, and my birthday, came and it was back on the train south to Newark to pick up Jazz and enjoy a birthday meal at Damon’s, famous for its ribs, in Lincoln with Mum and Alec. After a quick lunch with Dad on Tuesday it was back to Norfolk for a meal with friends Annie and Ash, before picking up Bluebell first thing Wednesday. We sure know how to cram things in!

Our destination was only an hour down the road, to Grafham Water, a reservoir near to Cambridge. We had booked onto the Caravan Club club site at Grafham- unusual for us, but given its close proximity to the water and not much other option we went for it, and actually we really enjoyed our stay. At £21.50 a night we thought it was good value for hard standing pitches serviced pitches. The site wasn’t as large as others we’d stayed on and the wardens not too overbearing. Phew. We also were hopeful that we would see Ollie the Owl whilst there, but sadly that wasn’t to be.

After a quick lunch and nap, we wandered the half a mile into the village over fields, visiting the community shop and also stopping at a house on Church Road who sold fresh trout, line caught from Grafham water. We got a massive fillet for £3!

We did several circuits of the site around dusk looking for Ollie, and even had a play on my drone, which was interesting as it highlighted how close we were to the water!


Next morning after a great sleep, I chucked some meat and veg into the slow cooker and Keith got the bikes ready. We were off on our bike ride around Grafham water by 10:30, promising to ourselves we would take it easy with lots of picture stops and even some geocaching.


The ride itself was great, a real mix of terrains, not too steep, but through woodland, waterside, across fields and even through a village, all off road.


If you’re into Geocaching, it’s a cacher’s paradise, I’ve never seen so many caches in one area. We managed 8- and didn’t even scrape the surface – as you can see! We were very lucky with the autumnal light, and we had a lovely day.

That night we tried to find Ollie the owl again,despite hearing him several times, didn’t catch a glimpse. Next time, and there definitely will be a next time.

On route home the next day we decided to have a stop at Wimpole National Trust site, where we were treated to another phenomenal dismay of Autumn leaves.


Sunny Spring Bank Holiday on the East Coast of England

Bank Holiday Saturday  Bluebell the motorhome is feeling like she’s experiencing a case of De-ja-vu, she parked up by the sea and she’s fairly sure she recognises the view! 

View from Flint House CL

She’s right, we have been here before, and unlike anything that we usually do, we’ve decided to come back to Flint House CL in Walcott, Norfolk less than three months after leaving here back in February! 

Flint house

 
As you may (or may not know) we are smack bang in the middle of buying our first house together. Our entire life is stuffed into boxes and we are in that horrible period between offer acceptance and completion. Feeling stressed, tired and fed up of clambering over boxes to get from one side of the room to other, we saw the weather forecast give something other than grey miserable wet and cold weather on Wednesday and not the phone looking for somewhere that could fit us in. Luck was in our side and Flint House had received cancellations so were able to accommodate. £13pn hard standing with electric. A bargain. 

Sunrise Flint House

We arrived at lunchtime and after a quick sarnie we headed out into the glorious sunshine along the coast to Bacton on the Norfolk Coast Path. Last time we were here we had a glorious walk to Happisburgh, and although the views weren’t as spectacular as the journey to Happsibugh as it was a lower stretch of path, the beaches here were glorious. 

Saturday walk along the beach

  

We walked past the Kingfisher Fish Bar (10 mins from the site) and noticed they were selling local ice cream so stopped for a Norfolk ice cream which was yum. We carried on past the Poachers Pocket pub, and onto Bacton before coming off the coastal path and finding a couple of geocaches and having a look at the remains of Bacton Priory, before a quick pint and walk back to Bluebell. That evening I cooked an amazing cod curry, we had stopped at The Fair Maiden Shellfish shop in Happisburgh on our way to the site and bought ourselves some half of a fresh local cod. Fish curry overlooking the sea made for the most pleasant of evenings. All our stresses went out with the tide as we drifted into a 12 hour sleep! 


 

Local fish curry, yum


Bank Holiday Sunday 

 We had a really deep sleep (apart from nipping out to watch sunrise!) and woke feeling refreshed. Waking up and hearing the waves is really something! Jazz had a good run on the beach ( dog friendly all year) and I cooked us a Full English before we packed up and moved on, to a Brit Stops stopover, no. 248 (2016) on the Norfolk Broads. 

 

Sunrise

 

First impressions of Britstop 248

If you haven’t heard of Britstops, it’s a fantastic resource for motorhoming in Britain. You okay £25 for a handy glovebox sized guide which lists over 640 places in Britain that you can stay overnight (generally no facilities) in your van, for free as a guest.The idea is that you take an interest in their produce, and perhaps even spend a bit of money however there is no obligation to do so. We always do, not because we feel we have to, but more because we want to, I mean, we’re at a pub offering local ales, a delicious sounding reasonably priced menu, with a beer garden on the side of one of the Norfolk Broads. And it’s sunny. We’ve parked up for the day/night.. Who wouldn’t want to sample a few drinks, it’s hardly a hardship, and in actual fact, we probably would have gone there for a few drinks if we were staying down the road on the CL anyway! For us, and we hope, the owners of the stopover, it’s win win. Not all of the stopovers are pubs, there are vineyards, farm shops, you name it. 

A chill day at 248

So, I suppose my paragraph above sets the scene of our Sunday. We had a wander the 20 metres or so to the beer garden, found a table in the sun, and had a couple of drinks. Had another small wander to man made beach, watched the paddle boarders and sailors. Wandered back to the beer garden. Had another drink. Had a doze in the sunshine back at the van. Went for dinner at the pub and before we knew it we’d had several pints of Dog Dancer (6.9% local cider) and not only was the dog dancing but the room was spinning and it was time to hit the sack! A real gem of a stop though, we will most certainly return, and we are secretly high giving how lucky we are that its only an hour from our front door! 

Arial view of Norfolk Broads

Arial view from my drone

Can you spot Bluebell hiding amongst the boats

Bank Holiday Monday dawned and thank goodness we had no visit from the hangover fairies. We had a fairly lazy morning before hitting the road back home, where we gave Bluebell a wash and a good clean before taking her back to her new storage yard. 

Sparkling Bluebell after a clean

 

What a lovely relaxing and impromptu weekend!

Until next time, which could be from Scotland at the end of May, it will be depend on house moving dates.. 

Lx 

 

  

February Half Term ~ Fun and Frolics in Norfolk, Part 4

Saturday Morning

Bluebell the motorhome is parked up on a nice small little Certified Location in West Norfolk, near to Kings Lynn, called The Old Appleyard.

 
On Thursday morning we reluctantly packed up Bluebell the motorhome and moved from our sea view pitch at The Flint House, travelling about an hour or so around the coast towards Kings Lynn. The reason for the change of direction was Castle Rising, one of the finest preserved 12C keeps in the country. This site is about 5 miles away, and our plan was to cycle there on Friday.

 On arriving at The Old Appleyard we were greeted by the friendly owner and instructed to keep on the top of the field as the lower ground was still a bit wet. A small little stream runs to the bottom of the Caravan field and there are lovely field views to enjoy right from your pitch. Noticing that the entrance to the field was on a slight slope, and with no rough to grab onto at the entrance , it was with trepidation I attempted to get Bluebell up onto the pitch. After 3 attempts I managed it, but not without causing some damage to their wonderfully neat grass, which I felt pretty bad about, but I suppose if you’re going to open all year round and not have hard standing then it’s to be expected! 😕 Still, I felt bad!  

  
 

We had a chill for the remainder of the day, watching the sun set and re charging our batteries. Keith was busy preparing our walk for tomorrow, realising that a walk we have already done from our AA box of walks was only a mile away from us, so the decision was made to walk from Bluebell to encorporate this walk rather than cycle. We had a tawny owl very close to us, and were sent to sleep hearing it’s call. Lovely.

Luck was on our side on Friday morning, the day dawned beautifully so we got up promptly and had an early start. We were on the walk just before 10am, a rarity for us! The walk took us along a small road from Grimston to Roydon, and luckily there was a footpath alongside the road for the whole walk down to Roydon. We picked up our route at Roydon and the next thing we knew we were at Castle Rising.   

  

  If you’ve not visited Castle Rising, we really recommend it, it’s fantastically preserved by English Heritage and costs only £4 to go in. We decided not to this time, as we’ve visited before and we still had lots of miles to walk. It seemed that actually the start of the walk was a little bit further than we’d anticipated, more like 2.5 miles than the 1.5 that we’d previously thought. This meant an extra 5 miles onto the already 7 mile circular! Gulp! 

After a quick flask of soup we carried on with our best foot forward. Sadly, the rest of the walk was disappointing and not how we’d remembered it, the highlight definitely is Castle Rising, there wasn’t a massive amount to see on the remainder of the walk. Annoyingly, the walk was nearly all on small roads, so in actual fact it would have lent itself better to a cycle. Never mind, we will know for next time.   

 After exactly 12 miles we hobbled back into our Caravan field, feeling very tired, that was more than we had walked for a long time! Nevertheless, despite feeling a bit disappointed with the walk, we were proud we’d managed such a distance, and within 5 hours too. Plenty of time for a nap and a chill for the remainder of day/evening! 

Today (Saturday) and it’s time to head home. Boo! Although the weather has conveniently decided to deteriorate, so we’re leaving feeling chuffed to bits with how much good weather we’ve had!  We’re planning on stopping at nearby Castle Acre for a leg stretch, and that’s all it will be, as we are both aching after yesterday’s near half marathon!!  

(Pics from Castle Acre below)  

   
  
  
 
We had a nice stroll around the castle, which is free to explore, however were left reeling at the fact that there were many children using these walls as a playground, climbing all over them whilst their parents egged them on. We couldn’t believe it, it’s our 3rd visit here and this has happened every single time. We decided to take a wander up to the Priory where we knew English Heritage have a manned reception to mention this. The warden was horrified and came back to the castle, and of course they’d all gone! Hopefully it will get flagged up, as this is one of the best preserved Norman Motte and Bailey castle earthworks in the country, to think of the damage that is being done as people climb them, and not to mention what would happen to the site if someone fell of and got injured. … 

On this visit we popped into the church to see the medieval 14th century wooden Pulpit and screen panels.  Worth a look.

   
So that brings us back up to date, as after our morning at Castle Acre we travelled home, unloaded, washing on, hoovered and cleaned Bluebell etc- we’ve had a brill week, and been especially lucky with the weather. We’ve done only 230 miles, walked 40 miles, and spent less than £200. 

  
We’ve come home to our new copy of our BritStops bible, so are hoping to get away for a mini adventure sometime in March. In April we are nipping to Japan, like you do(!) sans Bluebell obviously, to see the Cherry Blossom festival, but in May we will be out for another adventure in Bluebell, 10 days in Scotland then a month in Germany and Austria in August! All of which we’re looking forward to!

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”

A Winter’s Escape to The Peak District – Twixmas and New Year, 2015-16 Part 1

Monday 28th Dec:
Bluebell the motorhome is all settled into our home for the next three nights, Topley Head CL site (Caravan Club, £10pn w/electric and hard standing), near Buxton, Derbyshire. We arrived here as the sun was setting but our whistle has been wet, and we are looking forward to daylight as the view looks promising!
We had an uneventful journey up to the Peak District, arriving at Eyam just in time for our turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich and sausage roll lunch to be devoured! The weather was dry albeit notably chillier than down in Norfolk, and we set off with Jazz for a wander around this fascinating village- a village in which during the summer of 1665, a parcel of damp cloth from London changed the course of its future, sadly carrying plague infested fleas which spread and went on to kill 260 people in just one small, sleepy village.
It’s such a pretty little place, right in the middle of a valley with hills surrounding and the typical white peak brickwork on all the houses. Most of the houses in the village have a plaque outside depicting who within those walls were killed. Some has as many as 9 family members who died in that one house – whole generations wiped out. Keith noticed that in many families the wife appeared to survive over the men and the children.
 
 and I found the road where I should live, Lydgate 🙂
What was amazing was that all of these properties are now inhabited and are looking very cosy. Bet there are some serious ghost stories told in the pub these days…
There is a national trust property here, Eyam Hall, that was unfortunately closed today, but we are going to try and come back later in the week.
A short drive from Eyam and we found our campsite for the the next 3 days. It’s right on the Monsal Trail, which we hope to cycle on tomorrow. The drive was through Millers Dale and reminded Keith of Lord of The Rings scenery!
We are surprisingly the only ones on this site – amazing as it’s hard standing with electric and only £10 a night! It’s across the road from Beech Croft Farm campsite where we stayed a couple of years ago, a lovely site, but twice the price and looking very full from what we could see from the road!
Tuesday 
Dawned a bright winters day, perfect for a bike ride, so we were up and out by 10am after a lovely brew and some brekkie whilst enjoying this view from our window.
The start of the Monsal trail was found just down the road from the campsite- walkers have access to a steep path at the end of the farm entrance down to the trail, but on the bikes, we opted for half a mile down the A6 to the Wyedale car park (it’s downhill meaning a rather steep incline on our return!)
 
The Monsal trail is an old industrial railway trail that goes from Wye Bridge to Bakewell covering a distance of about 8.5 miles. It cuts through some magnificent countryside, passing serveral interesting sites along the way, including Lime Kilns and mills, through several tunnels and over the impressive Monsal Head Viaduct. It’s a lovely way to spend a day- and it seemed like the whole world was too, it was packed! Nice to see lots of people out and about in the fresh air, but sometimes a challenge navigating around those who thinks its ok to walk 5 a side, leave their bikes mid track etc! Never rang my bell so many times in a day!
 
On arriving at Bakewell we assumed we would find bike parking, and spent a considerable amount of time trying and failing to find somewhere safe and unobstructive to leave them. Bakewell is such a pretty little town, home to the Bakewell pudding AND Bakewell tart, so it seemed rude not to buy two of each for a tasting later! Bakewell was even busier than the Monsal Trail, it was heaving!
We rejoined the Monsal trail and headed back to Bluebell, the return journey was hard work on our unfit legs, but we really enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. I was pleased that I remembered to pack my hip flask – getting back up that hill to the campsite was haaaarrrrrddd!
We’ve battened down the hatches as the wind is picking up and more rain in the name of Storm Frank is on the way, so we’re bracing ourselves for a blustery evening! We are warm and cozy though inside our home on wheels
Wednesday 
Storm Frank passed overnight and during today and although we didn’t get hit badly, in fact we both slept through it (!), a day out during high winds and thrashing down rain was unappealing to us, so it was declared as a motorhome duvet day, where we literally stayed in bed til lunchtime watching Shogun, ate the leftovers in the fridge up, watched crappy tele, watched more Shogun, I read a book, then we went back to bed! We very rarely do this, at home or away, but enjoyed the chill enormously, and felt very rested, which is what holidays are for aren’t they, so will probably try and do more of this on subsequent trips!
Until Next Time
Lx

October Half term (and Lydia’s 30th) Part 2

Monday
Bluebell the motorhome is parked on a working farm in Upper Hambleton, Rutland, where she is enjoying some fine views of Rutland Water. It’s very basic Caravan club CL but has all that we require and at only £13 a night is a bargain.  

My birthday weekend has been fabulous. We had a good chill on Saturday morning before heading to Cley Beach, Norfolk for some sea air. 

We then had a gentle walk around the very pretty village of Cley Next to Sea, enjoying the windmill, a pint in The George and some serious droolage and spending in the fantastic deli in the village. It took all the will power we had not to empty the shop, instead opting for a few bottles of Woodfordes Nog, some homemade lavender bread, local honey and chutney and some handmade fudge!

      

We then headed on round the coast to Blakeney, where we had another mooch and then a chill in harbour car park. Keith bought me a birthday cake complete with candles and we enjoyed watching the tide come in.

  
Around 6pm we moved on the short journey to Morston Hall, where the management had very kindly let us park up in their car park overnight. We both showered and got poshed up before heading inside for 7:30 for my first taste of Michelin Starred fine dining.  

 I was not disappointed, it was without doubt the best meal I have ever eaten- all 9 courses! We met the chef / owner Galton Blackiston as he bought our canapés to the table. The wine flight – an additional experience where they bring you a new wine to match each course (hic!) was right on the mark and the 60 day aged beef and Ox cheek was absolutely breathtakingly delicious.

After a great sleep in their back car park, we woke early and moved on, not wanting to overstay our welcome. We headed the short distance to Morston Quay, where there is a large national trust carpark which was a nice spot for breakfast- the homemade lavender bread and honey from yesterday’s splurge in Cley.

We hit the road at 9am and drove west on the A47 towards Rutland Water arriving at our certified site for midday. We quickly emptied and refilled, and by 12:15 were en route in a taxi towards the Wheatsheaf in Edith Weston, where we were meeting some of my best friends for Sunday lunch. The pub is very dog friendly and the food was lovely. We had a great catch up and got back to Bluebell late afternoon, where we caught up with Strictly before hitting the sack just after 8pm!


Monday dawned bright, despite the weather forecast saying otherwise, therefore after a quick 8 egg frittata for breakfast and getting the beef casserole in the slow cooker, we were on our bikes by 10am ready to tackle the circuit of Rutland Water. Our campsite is located on the peninsular so we ended up cycling the full 24 miles, but there is an option to cut out the peninsular if you don’t fancy that distance. However the route that goes around the peninsular is beautiful and we enjoyed it.


The weather was perfect, and at times we could have been forgiven for thinking we were in the Italian Lakes! The route itself was fairly challenging for us, it’s very up, down, up down etc, and usually we try to avoid hills if we can, so we found it hard, but massively satisfying and very enjoyable. The route took us 5 hours but we stopped for refreshments every hour or so. 



Highlights were Normanton Church and also seeing all the sailing boats on the water. The colours of Autumn were in full abundance and it really was spectacular.

  


Next stop tomorrow, Market Harborough and Foxton Locks
Until then

Lx

October Half Term (and Lydia’s 30th) Part 1

Friday

Bluebell the motorhome is tucked away under the autumn leaves on The Caravan CL The Sheleig, on the outskirts of Cley next to Sea, North Norfolk.  We have a sea view, we have 2 pubs within walking distance and life is feeling rather good. We arrived after a less than smooth journey- making the silly mistake of relying on google maps to get here and ignoring the roadmap. We squeezed down some tiny roads in a “sat nav effort” to save a couple of mins, but seem to have gained a couple of extra wear and tear scratches. We vow to consult the road map next time…!


 The site is nice- on a slight grassy slope however luckily the owner didn’t mind us tearing up his grass to get onto our pitch! We have a slight sea view and it’s wonderfully quiet. After a quick soup lunch (I made a pumpkin soup earlier in the week-yum) we got our walking boots on and set about on a 4.5 6.6 mile walk.






The walk took us mainly on quiet lanes to Glandford and across its impressive ford, across Wiveton Down and into Wiveton where we had our first refreshment stop in The Wiveton Bell in front of the roaring log fire. I managed to polish off most all of the Liquorice Allsorts on the bar tables!




  
We walked across the 13th Century medieval bridge into Newgate on the outskirts of Cley, where there was another inviting pub, The 3 Swallows, it seemed rude not to pop in for “one for the road”. It was a short journey back to the campsite and we surprised to realise we had actually walked 6.5 miles.


  
Since getting back, we’ve given my new DAB radio a whirl, a present for my birthday, and currently are waiting for my homemade chicken and pumpkin pie to finish cooking in the oven. Not a bad way at all to spend the last night of my twenties!!!

Saturday

Its my 30th birthday!!!!!


I’ve had a lovely chill and been thoroughly spoilt!! Keefy’s cooked me a fry up and tonight he’s taking me for my first Michelin star meal, at nearby Morston Hall!

Excited!

Until next time

Lx

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*

Cycling The Bure Valley Way, Norfolk

A few days ago, we found ourselves with a unexpectedly free day, which happened to be sunny- Hurrah! Since our last trip, which saw us cycling along The Marriott’s Way, we’ve been on the hunt for other local traffic free cycle trails to go onto our list of places to go. It wasn’t long before we found The Bure Valley Way, a cycle/foot path that follows the 15 inch Narrow gauge railway that runs 9 miles between Aylsham and Wroxham. A quick Caravan Club search ensued and we were on the phone to Heath Farm CL in Buxton, exactly half way along the Bure Valley. Perfect.

Heath Farm Heath Farm Heath Farm Heath Farm

Buxton is less than an hour from us so we were up and on the road and pitched up by 11:00. The site was really pretty, with fields surrounding it. Be warned- it’s a very basic CL, offering 2 stand alone water pipes, electric, chemical loo point and a toilet and shower (although it was a very basic one, we chose to use our own facilities on board!)- but the price was remarkable – just a mere £9 per night!! What bargain and really, what more does one need?!

Keith’s agenda for the day was to be able to test his new bit of kit, his Memory Map Adventurer 3000 GPS (currently on sale). We’ve had the old version for 5 years now and it has successfully prevented navigational arguments guided us ever since, until someone dropped it *ahem* and the screen COMPLETLY smashed in!!

adv3000_os50_flash

Once set up, it was soon off on the bikes. Heath Farm campsite was only 1 mile outside of Buxton and we used the memory map to guide us down a very tiny back road into the pretty village and onto the Bure Valley Way. There is a small path that follows beside the train line for the whole 9 miles.

Bure Valley Way

We chose to head towards Wroxham first seeing as the sun was only set to be out until lunchtime before it was supposed to cloud over. It was about 5 miles and we were passed by several small steam trains – it was a lovely sight.

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Wroxham is a largish village on the Norfolk Broads and has everything from a supermarket to Kebab shop, tourist info to fishing tackle shop, and most importantly, what we were after… a nice pub with area to sit out overlooking the river.

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After a pint each and a chance to catch our breath, we ate our packed lunch and then, after a quick look round Wroxham Signal Box were back onto our bikes for the return leg – this time to the other end of the line to Aylsham.

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It took us just under an hour to cycle the 9 miles, and we rewarded ourselves with a nice ice cold can of coke from Tescos and some Ben and Jerry’s to take back to Bluebell’s freezer for pudding!

We doubled back on ourselves the 3 miles back to Buxton station where we were to leave the trail and head back to our campsite, passing numerous train spotters that we had seen earlier on! During our cycle, we were passed by probably 10 trains, all in wonderful condition, and with lots of passengers on board. I think there were some visiting engines from another railway also running that day. Hearing them choo chooing along the railway was a lovely experience.

We headed back to Bluebell (*Memory map informed us we had cycled 21 miles!) and enjoyed a really lazy evening and following morning, just what we needed with it being the end of term, we are frankly frazzled. The campsite owner was very easy going, he told us there was no hurry to leave, so we enjoyed a lay in and fry up, before packing up and heading the short journey home. Definitely would return, and do the cycle to Wroxham again – but next time, would leave the packed lunch and enjoy fish and chips instead!!

Until Next time

Lx

The Marvellous Marriott’s Way- cycling in Norfolk 

Bluebell the motorhome is parked up back at home having whisked us away for a sneaky mini break this weekend, up to the other side of Norwich. We stayed on the fantastic Breck Farm Caravan Club Certified Site – a real gem, situated right next to the Marriott’s Way, our adventure for the weekend. The Marriott’s Way is a disused railway line that has been converted into a 26 mile off road path for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. It runs from our home city of Norwich to Aylsham. 

  
We arrived at Breck Farm within 45 mins, and were treated to glorious sunshine so wasted no time and settled onto our pitch which overlooked a paddock, whilst Jazz met the locals… 

 

 
After a quick set up we dismantled the bikes and were on our way. Saturday’s plan was to cycle from our site (1 mile Norwich side of Attlebridge)  to Aylsham and back, a return trip of 30 miles. That’s the longest we’ve done before in one sitting, but it was enjoyable, despite us feeling shattered on our return to Bluebell!!! 

We passed Attlebridge Station, a wonderfully converted old station house which is now a very popular CC certified site (we tried to get on there but it was full- definately one to return to) 

  

 

A few miles further along we found a perfect refreshment stop, Whitwell Sation- another converted station, this one turned into a bar/cafe/museum housing loads of interesting vehicles and locomotions.  

           

A lot of the route was under a fabulous green canopy of trees and shrubs, and we passed through loads of old railway bridges – some had “sound boxes” which you could wind up and hear sounds from the past.  

     

After 5 hours of cycling we returned back to Bluebell, albeit a bit saddlesore! 

  The weather was still being kind, so we wasted no time in getting the ol Barbie out and luckily found a couple of declious rump steaks on our fridge along with corn of the cob, some sausages and lamb kebabs! 

     

We enjoyed a lovely chill, watching the sun go down and turned the Bbq into a fire pit so we could keep warm, and get the marshmallows toasting in time to see the last rays shine.

   
       

 
We slept like logs, certainly helped by the massive bike ride, but before we knew it the sun was up again and it was time to get up and complete the trail. This morning we wanted to cycle to Norwich and back, which would complete the Marriott’s Way. It was a round trip of 12 miles, and had some stunning sections through the forest.

   
  

   

It took us 1hr 15 mins to cycle the 11 miles into Norwich and complete the trail, and only 45 minutes back- I think the driving rain possibly contributed to the fast speed back!!  

Quick refreshment stop at the start point in Norwich

It’s fair to say cycling that amount of miles over 2 days is NOT for us!! We are exhausted and can barely walk!! Haha. Really enjoyed it though, and will definitely return and cycle a tad more leisurely sometime soon! Still, a great test of our new wheels – Jazz enjoyed his new riding position up the back rather than on the handlebars as before. 
On our way home, we managed to find a spot to park Bluebell near to Norwich airport, just in time to see the Vulcan Bomber pass over as part of its final farewell tour. What an INCRREDIBLE sight- it was mere luck, but we managed to stand directly on the flight path, therefore it went right over our heads…. Marvellous. 

   
 

It was a great atmosphere and lovely to see so many people turn out to see it.  


We met a lady with an identical Jazz too!!  

 Seeing double!!!  

Fantastic weekend, can’t wait til our next trip in a couple of weeks. 

Until then x