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?!

Adventures in the Cotswolds – Part 1

Friday

October half term is here at last and we can press pause on work for a few days and recharge. I’m not going to lie; the last week or two have been stressful. Covid has become rife in some of our schools and whilst we’ve been able to carry on (thankfully for the bank balance) emotionally it’s been a rollercoaster to say the least, and quite frankly we’re feeling like, somehow, we’ve successfully dodged the bullet. For now.

Keefy and I worked as a true team over the last few days, we’ve both had very little free time, so with any spare ten mins we had here and there being carefully booked out to pack items and tick off our to do list. As such our clothes have been packed in bags since Monday, the wine and beer and gin have been touring in Gandalf around Norfolk as we’ve gone from school to school, the bikes were loaded on between lessons yesterday and therefore all we needed to do this morning was load the fridge and drive off, which was good as we were both a little bit fragile from some early birthday celebrations with friends last night!

We had a decent journey to the Cotswolds, with a brief stop at Deddington because we passed a deli and butchers and couldn’t drive by! Somehow we ended up with a very modest haul- I blame the hangover, but we managed to get some local sausages , game burgers and a local gin and whiskey miniature.

My beautiful birthday flowers have come on tour with us. Thanks Keefy

We arrived on site, a very lovely C&CC Certified Location on the outskirts of Chipping Norton just after 3pm.

The campsite, Nuhulme, has a shower cubicle and toilet so we made the decision to use these rather than set out our tailgate awning this weekend. When we spoke to the owner we were surprised to learn that we are the only people booked on this weekend. So no worries about noisy neighbours!

Once set up, we settled in for a long chill. Dinner was a pre home made pie which we heated up in the Remoska along with some roasted veg and mash. Delicious! After which we hit the sack – at 8:50pm!

Saturday

We had a great sleep last night and enjoyed a chill again for the first part of the morning. We utilised the on site shower cabin to freshen up – its nice to have this option rather than using the awning and 12v shower at this time of year – before prepping tonight’s dinner, a Cotswold sausage cassoulet in the slow cooker, and enjoying a bacon bap.

Keefy got the bikes off the rack whilst I washed up, and despite a lazy morning we were on our way for an explore by 11:30am.

Our first port of call was the next village along, Salford, where we admired the pretty Cotswold stone masonry,

before we made our way on back roads through Churchill and then Kingham.

Both beautifully quant and unspoilt, Kingham was declared the prettiest village in the UK at one time and has a lovely green which picture perfect cottages, some thatched.

Best of all a pub, two in fact, but so popular they are, we were unable to eat lunch in either with no booking. We did manage a drink outside under the heater at the Plough; Keefy enjoyed his first Hook Norton (the local) ale and I had a Cotswold G&T.

We continued on to Bledington where we succeeded in grabbing a table at the charming Kings Head in front of the fire where we enjoyed a light lunch of open chicken chipotle and slaw sandwich. I tried another gin, this time one from the village distillery before we made our way back via Chipping Norton to the campsite.

Gandalf smelt delicious, the sausages were cooking a treat in the slow cooker. We spent the rest of the afternoon chilling and reading before enjoying dinner and some more chill time.

Today has been a perfect mix of exploring and chilling. Something we need more of!

Sunday – Lydia’s birthday 🎂

After a terrific sleep, we both woke up to glorious blue skies – a treat as it went against all the weather forecasts! Today was a special day in Gandalf, it was my birthday and waking up in a huge open space with absolutely no one else around was the most perfect start to it! (We’re not antisocial, I promise)

The day started with bday cake, presents and tea, before donning our walking boots – I was proudly in my new boots, a welcome and generous present from Dad and Jenny, thank you.

We made our way into Chipping Norton – about a mile or so on footpath,

for breakfast and cocktails at the terrific Bitter and Twisted bar (extremely dog friendly) and enjoyed a scrumptious full English accompanied with a cocktail each.

Following our lazy brunch, we followed the historic town trail around Chipping Norton, admiring the many Cotswold stone buildings along the way, and of course enjoying a few pub stops on our way. Chipping Norton was very dog friendly by the way.

After a good few hours ambling the streets, we walked back to Gandalf for a chill and more cake! I’m reading a gripping book at the moment (The Light between two oceans) and therefore a couple of hours of undisturbed reading time with nice views was a real luxury!

As the sun set, we donned our glad rags and got a taxi back into town, for a delicious evening meal at the Blue Boar, a historic pub with a wonderful game menu. The meal was splendid and I couldn’t believe how busy the pub was for a Sunday night. Thanks goodness Keefy booked! Jazz was spoilt rotten by the bar maids, it’s so great to be in such a dog friendly part of the world.

I was on high alert for celeb spotting; apparently Chipping Norton is a magnet for the, with Jeremy Clarkson, The Beckhams, David Cameron, Amanda Holden and more all residing close by. Jeremy Clarkson’s famous farm and farm shop is also on the outskirts of Chippy – and next to the C&CC club site for those who are interested.

Tomorrow it’s time for us to wave goodbye to what’s felt like our own private retreat. We’re off to Cirencester club site via a bit of a mystery sightseeing tour. We’ve had a great time based here though and it’s been a great place to unwind yet enjoy some bday celebrations in civilisation too.

Thanks Keefy for spoiling me rotten, I’ve had a brilliant weekend ❤️

Until next time

Lx

Adventures on the Marriott’s Way

Gandalf the VW Campervan is parked at Eves Hill Farm, a C&CC certified site in Norfolk on the outskirts of Reepham. We should have been in Wales this weekend, but two absolutely bonkers weeks at work, along with a middle weekend moving my mum, meant that by the time Thursday came along Keith and I were running on fumes- and I think that’s an overstatement! Sadly we we’re just too tired (and felt quite ill) to make the 5 hour journey each way for just two nights near to Bodnant Gardens, so we had to send our apologies and add the Laburnum archway and stunning gardens that are featured in the newest Secret Garden film onto a list for next year.

Instead we got some well needed rest on Friday and had a regroup. We managed to book a last minute pitch at Eves Hills Farm for the night on Saturday- a mere 40 min drive from home felt much more palatable and we were able to take our new bikes with us to try them out on the nearby Marriott’s Way– a disused railway track now turned into leisure path.

We’ve cycled this a few times before, and it remains a favourite place for us to head off to for just a night.

2019 Marriott’s Way trip

2015 Marriott’s Way

Eves Hill Farm was a perfect base. Just a couple of miles outside of Reepham – which we stopped at before hand to stock up on local sausages and bacon for breakfast from the butchers, and cheese from the deli next door. What more did we need? Homemade burgers from the campsite of course! Luckily for us Eves Farm have their own herd of Hereford cattle and make their own steaks and burgers. Bbq ready for later, and a cheese board for lunch set us up for an afternoon of cycling. The 2 miles back into Reepham were a doddle on our E bikes and we were soon on our way on the Marriott’s Way.

We decided to head south on the trail and stopped for refreshments after around 7 miles at Whitwell Station.

We enjoy stopping here, there is very often some steam train activity to watch.

Video highlights of bike ride

We decided to make our way back to the campsite, we’d noticed a charming looking pub at Reepham which we enjoyed a drink at before arriving back at the campsite totalling up 18 Miles’s – a breeze on these e bikes!

The campsite has a fairly decent shower (along with washing up station with hot water!) so we ditched our diy awning shower in favour of an electric shower before dinner, which was a delicious bbq followed by local strawberry’s and clotted cream. Perfection!

Sunday dawned grey however we had a lazy start and enjoyed a full English breakfast before packing up. The campsite was able to accommodate a late check out so we explored more of the Marriott’s way, this time heading north to Aylsham.

Marriott’s day video day 2

Lovely Daisy’s

We had coffee and cake at Aylsham station, which links with the Bure Valley Way, before taking the back roads to return to the campsite. Aylsham is another good place to watch the steam trains.

Our last trip to Bure Valley Way

The joy of this was when we passed a fantastic French gothic church – Booton church- with its twin towers and phenomenal hammered roof and carved angels.

It’s nickname “the cathedral of the fields” really is accurate. What a fabulous building.

From here we continued past the campsite to Little Witchingham- to another historical church; this one an abandoned church saved from demolition when stunning medieval wall paintings were discovered dating from the 15th century.

The intensity of the paintings was incredible, and the remoteness of the church and its abandonment certainly added to its charm!

We cycled the 2 miles from here back to Eves Hill, clocking up over 21 miles on total.

We are thrilled with our new E Bikes!

Keith held onto his Aldi Vitesse Rush – my Aldi one was faulty so I now have a Pendleton Somerby E bike from Halfords. I’m in love with it!

We’ve got a couple of weeks at home coming up as we have our Mot and then we are having a solar panel fitted to the roof, but on just 3 weeks we’ll be off out on numerous trips. We can’t wait!

Until next time

Lx

Adventures in the South Downs: Part 1- Bignor Roman Villa

Gandalf the Campervan is parked up on the very pretty North Stoke Farm, a caravan and Motorhome club certified location, in the heart of the South Downs. This is our favourite type of site- absolutely nothing here apart from a chemical loo and water tap and bin. Having no electric means people can space out to their hearts content, and it is oh so peaceful and green. We’re in heaven.

As you may have seen on our previous post, we should be in Madeira. Or actually Peru! Then Madeira when Peru got cancelled. Madeira got cancelled on Thursday and as its Keith’s 50th this week, I’ve planned a week of surprises- the first being a trip to Bignor Roman Villa, which we did today. We arrived at our campsite at 5pm last night and had the most wonderfully peaceful evening and the morning birdsong was tremendous.

Monday dawned slightly overcast but with a promising forecast ahead, we cracked on. Our first mission to test out our new gadgets: his n hers E bikes which we brought recently from Aldi.