48 hours in Boston, MA

Day 1

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

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

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

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

boston-nps-map

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Itinerary Details

Day 1

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

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

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

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

Day 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

ACCOMODATION

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

Next Up: (Coming Soon)

2 Day Roadtrip in Vermont

2 Day Roadtrip in New Hampshire

24 Hours in Salem, MA

24 Hours at Niagra Falls

Go West for Summer – Part 3

Thursday

It was another wet and wild night last night- we even had some thunder and lightening! Again we had winds ofup to 40mph- needless to say Jazz was on our bed again! Ruby is coping so well with the wild weather – we are toasty inside despite having no heating. The bikes are ok on the back still and it’s doesn’t feel as wobbly as when we were in Bluebell the motorhome – I suppose we are lower.

Despite the weather overnight today dawned a beautiful morning. We went to the farmhouse for some fresh eggs – and they couldn’t have been fresher, the farmer had just picked them out of the nest- they were still warm. They made the wonderful egg and bacon rolls – I’ve never seen such a large yolk.

We walked down to the bus stop at the end of the field and caught the number 349 to Tenby. It was a 20 minute journey and cost £5.50 pp return. Not bad value at all- especially when you can use your ticket for unlimited travel throughout the day.


We walked through the town down to the Harbour and stopped at The National Trust 15th Century Tudor Merchants House. Worth a visit if you’re a member but if not again we thought the £5.75 entry charge a little steep as there wasn’t much to see at all.

Tenby Harbour is absolutely STUNNING. There are loads of cute pastel coloured houses that line the street and the Harbour is full of boats. The beach beyond the Harbour has lovely sand and the bag is full of banana boat rides and pleasure trips. There are tiny little lanes leading away from the Harbour- it was just gorgeous. It knocks socks off places like Southwold. We saw a sign for lifeboat rides and decided this sounded fun – even better than dogs were allowed obviously! So we booked on for 1:45- a bargain at £5 for 20 mins we thought. We spent the time before the ride mooching and shopping- all the shops were dog friendly – there was such a lovely atmosphere here.
1:30 arrived and so we made our way down to the Harbour to board our Lifeboat.



The ride was so much fun and it was really interest riding on an actual lifeboat (now out of service).
All that see air and we worked up quite a thirst! So we found a pub with a sign claiming to have the “most sunniest beer garden in Tenby” – I found a seat whilst Keefy got the beers in- a Tenby beer for him aptly named after a Tenby lifeboat and brewed in the brewery on site, and a Welsh dragon cider for me.

We then went for a delicious fish and chip lunch before another pint at the Lifeboat, which had a really cool bar made out of an old Lifeboat (see pic above), although it didn’t serve any local beers. Before we caught the bus home we stopped at the fishmongers for some locally caught cod and samphire before looking around once more soaking in the atmosphere – it’s a fabulous place to visit and a real highlight of our trip so far. Also EVERY where was dog friendly even the shops! The rest of Thursday night we just chilled and enjoyed a cheese board for supper whilst watching Cracker.

riday
Friday arrived and it was time to pick up the van and move onwards. We had enjoyed our stay at Middle Hill Farm and would recommend it to anyone visiting this area- especially to those who don’t want to drive to explore as the bus route was really good from very close to the site.

After leaving the site we made a stop at Pembroke to see the castle. Pembroke Castle was birthplace to Henry VII and although we didn’t go in we enjoyed a terrific walk around the outskirts which gave great views of the impressive outside .


We drove on to nearby Nayland and followed signs for the Marina. The reason for our visit was Brunel, who lived here for a time and extended his GWR to have a terminus here- aiming to build an ocean terminal for onward travel to New York. Nowadays you can cycle some of this GWR line as part of the Brunel Line which we did and was fab. We did only 5 miles each way but the full line is 9 each way. On the way to Johnson it felt hard- on the way back we realised why- we barely peddled! Brunel was such a genious, building these tracks at an exact angle to not feel steep so the steam trains could manage the incline.

After our cycle we heading onwards to our next stop for 3 nights, the St Davids Camping and Caravanning Club Site.
On arrival it hammered down so we had a quick set up before an early dinner of Pembrokeshire Chowder with the fish we got from Tenby yesterday. Oh wow- don’t like to blow my own trumpet but it was delicious. Recipe here!
(Looks gross- was delicious!)

The rain cleared up after dinner and so we enjoyed a dram outside watching the sun set over the sea from our pitch. Lovely

Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Aug 5th 2017

Ever since Keith and I got together 7 years ago- one (along with many others!) mutual bucket list adventure we wanted to achieve was attending The Royal Military Tattoo in Edinburgh. 10 years ago I spent an entire summer up in Edinburgh playing in a Fringe Show, and Keith's dousing has lived up here for years and years, yet still we've never been able to make it happen. 7 years ago we made a pact that we would and this year is the year it finally was able to happen!

We dropped Jazz with my mum and Alec and boarded our Virgin East coast train on Friday morning. Unsurprisingly, as not only was the Tattoo starting on Friday but so was the Fringe Festival, the train was packed and quite uncomfortable so we settled ourselves in and watched some catch up on the iPads, and actually before we knew it we were rolling into Edinburgh Waverley Station.

Simon couldn't meet us until after work so we had an hour or so to kill- naturally we headed for the pub, one of our favourites the Ensign Ewitt for the first of many gins, beers and drams!

Our very good friend Mark is a sound engineer for the Tattoo and was busy at the castle in his super duper recording van prepping to record that nights show – his job is to record it, edit it and have the official CD on the shelf for Monday's performance. He contacted us and said although he couldn't get away we were welcome to pop up and see his office for the weekend which was exciting, and as always, lovely to see him for ten mins.

It was 4pm and time to meet Simon so we bid Mark a farewell and headed to the Malt Shovel on Cockburn St. The Royal Mile is always a fun place to be at this time of year- lots of people doing publicity for their shows and a really happy, exciting if not slightly nutty vibe all the way!

Once we'd met Simon, Friday night followed in a big catch up, naturally involving a few bars and refreshments! Simon once again showed us some really cool places in Leith and we enjoyed our dinner of Shetland Mussels and beef and Haggis burgers at Nobles.

Saturday dawned brighter than the BBC had indicated, despite a few foggy heads in the O'Gorman/Williams clan! 🤣
Nothing a good sausage and haggis roll, super charged espresso, a pork and Haggis scotch egg and a Bloody Mary, or in Keith's case a Bloody Scotsman (replaced vodka with whiskey!!) can't sort out!

After a lazy morning we took the bus from Leith up to Princes Street where I deposited the boys in John Lewis Gadget section whilst I went off for a shop for an hour. Big mistake- Keith, inspired by Simon's "Smart Flat" has brought a Amazon Echo Dot and subsequently has spent every available minute researching what we can link up to it in our house!
Boys and their toys eh?!

Edinburgh is always such a special place for me, I had a little moment as I dragged myself away from the shops- look at the view from Princes Street- lovely architecture, Arthur's seat- and check out the blue sky!

We opted for lunch at Wagamama's, a treat for me as usually when we go I'm driving- so today I could indulge in my other favourite alcoholic drink, SAKE! KANPAI!

Trying to be sensible (!) we decided to head back to the flat for a nap ready for the excitement of the evening to come.

We made our way back into town 6ish and had a couple of drinks, including one on the mile so we could indulge in some people watching before a delicious curry at Gurkha Restaurant- definitely recommend it there, it's our second visit!

It was now time to head to the castle, I e never seen so many people queuing to get in either! Mark had texted us to make sure we gave ourselves lots of time, he said at the 7:30 showing people were arriving once the show had started. At 9:00 when we were wandering up, we had he previous audience departing and the current audience arriving- so 18000 people and the top end of the mile is rather narrow. Still, the organisation was with military precision, what else would you expect, this is the 68th year!

We were in within 20 mins of he doors opening at 9:45- exceptional!

To show was simply SENSATIONAL. Everything that I hoped it would be and a million times more. The special effects and projectors (all 12 of them according to Mark) casting phenomenal images and patterns onto the castle backdrop, the music obviously, the choreography, THE WEATHER!- everything was just awesome. I will never forget our night there!







We walked all the way home to Leith and to took me about an hour to get to sleep- I had so much adrenaline!
Today has dawned sunny again, hurrah! So we will head back into town. Plans are to try and see the Jacobites exhibition and perhaps see some Jazz.

Then back south tomorrow to see Dad and Jenny, pick up Ruby and Jazz and get some adventures going in our campervan!

Until next time
Lx

A weekend in sunny Suffolk <3

Ruby the Campervan has whisked us away for a little bit of a change of scenery for a couple of days. School is now officially out for Summer (hurrah!) but we can’t go too far afield as we’ve got a few days of private teaching and gigs, plus a holiday course to run before our main holibobs.

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Feeling totally drained having had to battle with not only end of term shenanigans, but also a flooded house (arghhh) we were so tired we couldn’t even decided on where to go! We ended up settling on the Suffolk coast for a night for some sea air and then a night in land, at the gateway to the broads at Beccles. Both locations were near to walks we’ve previously done before should we feel the need to be energetic.

Friday morning arrived, the sun was shining, so off we set, an hour down the road to Dunwich. Dunwich was once the capital of East Anglia and was the third biggest port in England back in Anglo Saxon times. Now, its home to less than 200 according to the 2011 census, because of coastal erosion, the entire village has gone! It’s a lovely wild, pebbly beach, and has a fab Adnams pub, not that we visited this time.

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We parked up in the huge beach carpark at Dunwich and set off on our walk towards Dunwich Heath, a huge National Trust heathland, that at this time of year is the most gorgeous shade of purple.

2017-07-21 12.48.54-2We thoroughly enjoyed the walk, and were surprised we had clocked up 5.5 miles by the time we got back to Ruby. The walk wanted us to carry on further up past Ruby, but we were shattered so grabbed a picnic blanket, our flasks, and had a relax on the beach for a while instead.

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We realised we were nodding off on the beach so moved Ruby the 15 mins dive to our base for the night- Eastridge Farm Camping and Caravan Club CL at Eastbridge (nr to Leiston). This was a basic site, at only £9 there was nothing other than a waste disposal, a tap and a very VERY basic loo. BUT- it was a huge field and was absolutely silent therefore, in our eyes it was perfect- the sun was shining so we got our stuff out, including sun loungers for the first time this year- and had 40 winks.

We got the opportunity to try out our new Milestone Camping Solar Shower – Black, 20 Litres“>Solar Shower that Dad gave us. We filled it at home and it sat on our dashboard whilst we were walking in Dunwich.

2017-07-21 15.06.48The water was really warm, and so we hung it on the sliding door and took it in turns to protect each others modesty whilst we had a quick rinse. We were really impressed with how it works. It has certainly opened the option of us being wild for more than two nights at a time now (perhaps only during summer though!)

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We had a lovely BBQ that evening, the sun shone brightly for us all night! Keith was in his element as he didn’t even have to get out his seat to get another cold beer thanks to his birthday present 12v Electric Coolbox 

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Around 9pm we decided to have a wander to the local pub, The Eel’s Foot, less than 5 mins walk- perfect. A great selection of Adnams beers and a lovely menu (handy for next time) Despite Eastridge being a tiny hamlet the pub was PACKED! Great to see.

We slept so heavily and had a big lay in, whilst the rain eased off, which it did around 9am. We had toast using my RidgeMonkey MK2 Standard Toaster ‘Black’ with FREE Utensil Kit and homemade jam before setting off towards Beccles. I’ve set a summer goal of doing as much Farm shop shopping/cooking as possible, and knew we’d pass at least one farm shop on our journey. We did- so we pulled in, where we had a splurge, and bought some local chicken breasts, local mushrooms, local scones, clotted cream and loads of local raspberries and apricots to make jam with when we are home. On our walk yesterday we had also picked up a courgette from someone’s roadside stall for 20p!

We arrived at our next campsite, Dove Cottage, (£11.50pn incl. electric and with shower) near to Beccles around midday. We picked this site due to it’s close proximity to Beccles, where we had a 7 mile walk in mind, but in reality, despite it being a glorious day, we both just fancied going straight to the campsite and relaxing for the afternoon! So thats what we did. I made us beef and cheese pannini’s in the Ridgemonkey, we had a little explore from the site then we just set our stall out and relaxed away!  Sometimes you just need to stop! The weather was amazing, and we actually got quite tanned 🙂 We dragged ourselves away from the sunbeds for a cream tea mid afternoon.

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Dinner was a delicious Chicken, mushroom and Courgette risotto and as it cooled off we moved inside and began our Cracker boxset. We enjoyed a very local cheeseboard with cheeses we had brought earlier from the farm shop.

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We had a fair amount of rain overnight but luckily it had cleared in time before breakfast. We were due to have a full English, but it turned into a bit of a disaster – first, the gas ran out on the hob in Ruby. So Keith got out our outside portable one. Then the gas on that ran out. So we changed that over. Then our sausages, which were from our local butchers, and are usually amazing, just would not cook! Put it this way, I was cooking them for 1 hour 20 mins and they were still raw inside. So they ended up in the bin, and we had a well done bacon, eggs, beans and mushrooms. This delay meant that the weather was beginning to take a turn for the worse, so rather than our planned 7 mile walk from Beccles we decided to do a much shorter river walk, which was lovely, and got home just as the rain started.

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We had such a lovely mini break, just what the doctor ordered thats for sure. So just a handful of working days left now before we are off for our main summer holidays to South Wales, via Edinburgh (!) for a night at the Tattoo and Bristol for the International Balloon Festival! So excited about both of these!

Links to our new on board gadgets below (click on the pics)

Until next time

Lx

 

Our annual pilgrimage to Scotland, May 2017. Part 1. Norfolk to Skye 

Thursday (into Friday!)

Ruby the campervan is parked up at our favourite Scotland Border crossing, Carter Bar, just before Jedburgh. It’s 00:30 (Friday morning) and we were working until 7pm in Thetford. It’s been a funny ol week, we’ve battled illness, workload and a new (unplanned!) motor for Ruby’s habitation sliding door, but somehow we’ve made it here and in record time! If that doesn’t warrant a beer I don’t know what does. Unlike previous stays here, tonight we have company in the form of two other motorhome. Trying to be as quiet as we could, we set Ruby up for bed and crashed out for a hefty deep sleep. 

Friday 

Friday dawns the most spectacular of day’s. We were up by 07:15 and enjoyed actually seeing the view! Usually it’s misty! Not only is it ☀️- it’s also HOT!!! At 07:30 I’m parading around in shorts and a vest top- with NO FLEECE! We had a quick chat with our neighbours before hitting the road again just after 08:00- destination, Loch Lomond, via New Lanark, a UNESCO heritage site near to Glasgow. We followed the Tweed Valley all the way and it was so beautiful, all these years of coming, it’s always a great treat to discover a new gem and has earnt a place on our “next time” list. 

New Lanark was lovely. It’s now looked after by UNESCO but once was a Georgian Mill village. All the buildings have been kept original, and you can go inside many for a fee. We chose not to as it was such a sunny day it seemed a shame to be inside. Instead we took advantage of the 5km woodland and waterfall trail along the banks of the River Clyde. Parking was free which was a nice touch and there is no entrance fee if you are only wandering the village without going inside. Parts of the walk along the Clyde reminded us of being in Colorado. After our walk, we enjoyed some of the New Lanark ice cream which is made on site. 

After a quick lunch we hit the road again passing through Glasgow and onto Loch Lomond. Always an exciting moment for us getting that first view of Ben Lomond. We stopped at the farm shop near to Luss, stocked up with local cider, cheese, venison- all the essentials! before carrying on to the main car park in Tarbet. Recently wild camping in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs has been banned, however they have introduced a fair system of pre purchasing a permit for the evening at £3 per night. We were keen to support it and duly paid our £3 online 30 days in advance, choosing where we wanted our permit to be valid. Sadly, on arrival at 5pm the car park was packed. We managed to squeeze in a space but the area was heaving. Obviously the sunshine and the bank holiday was bringing the world and his wife out, and although we gave it a good hour, we decided it was far too busy for us, and so we set off again, this time heading for the viewpoint at Black Mountains, just beyond the Bridge of Orchy. It was a gamble, would we turn up and find no space, as it was going to be near to 7pm. It was a tense journey, but luckily we arrived to find bags of room, with only one other van there. We bagged the best spot too, so we went about setting up a BBQ and went on to enjoy a fabulous evening. During the evening several other vans arrived, including a caravan, all stopping for some rest before heading north again early the next morning. We had a wonderful evening and slept like logs! 

Saturday arrived and the sunshine was still here. Hurray! The forecast however was not so optimistic, so we set off, stopping for breakfast at Glencoe, always a favourite- good lord, it was SO BUSY! We’ve stopped there every year for breakfast and this year without a doubt was the busiest we have seen. We squeezed on to the end and managed to have our breakfast, I decided to make the bagpiper a cuppa which he enjoyed. Good deed done so off we travelled again, towards Fort William.


 Again, it was PACKED! We squeezed into Morrisons for a top up shop, there were queues everywhere, not too dissimilar to the Christmas Eve shopping experience! I managed to get some local gin, which cheered me up, so shopping loaded in, we set off along the road to the Isles, our destination being one of our favourite sites, SilverSands at Arisaig. We tried to stop at Glenfinnan Viaduct, but couldn’t get parked. Are you noticing a theme here? 

Onwards we went, arriving at Silversands just as the rain began. A spot of rain does not take away the beauty of this place, and once again we were lucky to have a sea front pitch so we settled in, had a long nap and woke in time for the rain to have gone. 10 steps away from our pitch we had the most gorgeous white sand beach. It really is idylic. We enjoyed a beer on the beach, and met our neighbour, Charlie, who turned out to be a lovely fella- always checking if we needed anything from the shop when he went in his car. That evening I cooked us a delicious Simply cook prawn linguine and we went to bed around 11- it was still light! 


Sunday- the weather forecast wasn’t good, which was disappointing so we decided to have a lazy morning. I cooked us a cooked breakfast and just as I was serving up, the sun came out! “Quick”, I said to Keith, “get the outside chairs out, it may not last”! We enjoyed our sea view and watched as people fled to the beach, kayaks and dingies in hand, everyone desperate to enjoy the sun whilst it was there! 

Last night we discovered that the midges are here! Booo! Apparently it’s the long mild winter, but they are here, and in force. Keefy has been eaten alive! And guess what, we’ve left all our sprays at home! During a morning chat to our neighbour, he got brave and asked if they had any repellent he could borrow. Cue Charlie giving us an entire full spray of Smidge, insisting we keep it. What a nice man! 

Ruby is getting a lot of attention. Keith gets stopped several times as he is getting the bikes off! All these years of motorhoming and barely anyone ever speaks to us, yet now we have Ruby we seem to be attracting people for chat after chat! Not that we are complaining, it’s nice to be sociable, and everyone here is just SO FRIENDLY!

 We finally manage to get off, we are cycling 2 miles down the road to Camusdarach Beach- where the film Local Hero was filmed 35 years ago. We came a few years ago but the weather was dull and murky then.


Today, the sun is hanging on in there, so we optimistically pack a picnic and keep everything crossed! The weather gods are certainly on our side it seems, it’s a picture perfect day. This beach is simply stunning. It stretches for probably nearly a mile when the tide is out, as it was when we visited today. When the tide is in, there are 2 beaches not reachable without getting wet! I tried to send my drone up but it wasn’t happening, a badly timed update request means I can’t send it up which is annoying but can’t be helped. 😡 We had a lovely picnic though of cheese, venison slices, fresh baguette, and of course a beer and cider to wash it down. We had such a lovely visit! 

 
The sun was still shining on our cycle back, and it continued to shine the remainder of the day and evening. We sat outside taking in the ever changing view from our pitch- we watched as the tide came in and then went out again.

We had a lovely chat with next door, and shared a drink together. As the evening went on we were joined by several other couples seeking out the best views of the site. Seems we were on the best pitch going- we were happy to share it. I also managed to override my drone so I sent that up to capture the phenomenal sunset. Next door also had a drone, a DJ phantom, so he sent his up too! 

The atmosphere on site was electric. Everyone having a drink, toasting the sun, it was just such a happy atmosphere. There were even people doing yoga on the beach! It’s a really really special place! Obviously the local gin helped of which I managed to make quite an indent and Keefy’s whiskey must have evaporated in the heat 😜 but we soon realised it’s was gone 9pm and we still hadn’t eaten! Whoops! Dinner was quickly cooked and eaten and we enjoyed the last of the sunshine. 


The whole campsite came out to see it dip below the horizon, I almost felt like applauding! Off to bed we went, tipsy but on a massive high to say the least! The next thing I know, and it’s 3am and K is raiding the fridge, rubbing the contents of the the fridge on his legs! Turns out he is in agony with his bites. 😞 An advantage of having Ruby is that he can’t pace any more, however tossing and turning in bed and grumbling is as bad for me to hear. At 4am I suggest we go down to the beach and he goes for a paddle! The seawater helped soothe his legs earlier and I know he must be in agony cos he agreed quickly, so at 4am we were on the beach having a paddle, like you do! 


The seawater must have helped as of course, he managed to get straight off to sleep, whereas I lay away awake for 2 hours! 🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄 mind you hearing the sea lap beneath you and the dawn chorus is not the worst way I’ve spent a couple of hours. 

Monday arrived and as forecasted, the rain decided to make an appearance. Next door, bless them, gave Keith some antihistamines to help his itching, and also a couple of cans of Tennants for our fridge as a parting gift- how nice was that? We had another couple of people stop by Ruby interested in her conversion, and admiring her, it’s really a very strange sensation for us as unlike many others it seems, we were not drawn to VWs cos of their image! It was just the van which worked for us! Hey ho, it’s really nice to have chats with lots of different people and something that has never happened to us before in 7 years of motorhoming! We waved a sad farewell by 10:15, and rolled into. Mallaig for our ferry to Skye just before 11. “Are you booked on?” the man cheerfully asks. “Er no….”. “Sorry but we are fully booked ALL WEEK!” You could see the colour drain from our faces. What an epic oversight. We’ve done this crossing three times before and never booked. What’s going on?! The man offers for us to queue in the reserve queue for the next ferry at 12:00 although he says there is no guarantee that we will get on. We decided to go for it. Luckily, Lady Luck was on our side and they fit us on, what a relief, neither of us fancied the journey back to Fort William retracing our steps! 


We arrived on Skye thanks to a smooth crossing (unlike last time!) and it’s been raining all afternoon. Can’t complain though, we’ve had our share of good weather for Scotland. We drove to Tallisker, hoping to park somewhere local so we can have a few drinks and a meal in the pub opposite the distillery. Like everywhere else, Tallisker is heaving with people and we struggle to park. 😔 in the end we manage to get a space but we are unable to stay overnight. So we opted for an early dinner in the pub, which was delicious before driving on to a large lay-by on the way towards Sligachan where we settle in for a chill. 

Until next time 

Lx 

A cheeky night away in Constable’s Country, Suffolk May 13th 2017

Ruby the campervan is parked up alongside 4 caravans on a very pleasant Camping and Caravan Certifed site, The Briar,  just south of Ipswich. The main draw for us to visit this area, is Alton Water, a man made reservoir complete with cycle path around the circumference. 


The Briar is a lovely grassy CL situated in the small village of Bentley, and offers EHU, a loo and emptying and filling points. It’s very relaxed and at only £15 for the night, and less than an hour’s drive for us it’s perfect location for a one nighter. The owners are lovely and made a point of coming to say hello once we were set up. They’d kindly let us arrive before lunch to enable us to enjoy an afternoon of cycling. They were fascinated with Ruby and were keen to have a nosey, as they are thinking about getting their own Ruby in the near future. 


We enjoyed a quick cheese and ham toastie before we unloaded the bikes and hit the road, less than 3 miles to Alton Water. The weather was cloudy, but not raining, and there were lots of families out and about around and on the water which was lovely to see. The track around Alton water was kept well and our bikes coped well – I was so impressed, despite some steep bits we managed to cycle non stop with no getting off and pushing! We stopped every now and again to find some geocaches and take some pictures, and didn’t rush, the circuit took about 2 hours to complete. There was a lovely wildflower meadow that we passed- It was lovely. 





We cycled back to the campsite, via the local strawberry seller (check out the size of those 🍓 and promptly had a longish nap! I love Ruby naps! Good for the soul! 

We’d decided we were going to be brave and risk an outdoor BBQ for dinner, despite the weather forecast being a bit so so, you can imagine our delight when just as Keefy sparked up, the weather gods took care of the lingering dull skies and the sunshine and warmth we’ve missed recently came out to say hello! It was glorious, we even took our jumpers off and had short sleeves! 


Keefy cooked a blinder of a feast for us; local burgers, pork and apple sausages and chicken, cooked to perfection on our new gas BBQ that we were gifted from May and Bernard, whilst I served couscous, coleslaw and jacket potatoes, which were an experiment done in the slow cooker, but they were fantastic! It really was a lovely evening, and as the sun went down we decided to have a walk to the local for a couple of pints which was really nice. 

Sunday dawned wet unfortunately, so we made the most of a lie in, partly as someone, ahem, had a little bit of a headache. A bottle of red wine followed by two pints of aspall will do that Lydia, when will I learn! By the time I was ready to surface the rain had gone, and so we cracked the bacon and eggs out and I was soon feeling 100% again. We also tried some toast (done in the toastie maker, worked well!) topped with John, the campsite owners Saville Marmalade, which was delicious.


 He caught us mid marmalade sampling as he came to check we’d had a nice evening and was thrilled we were enjoying the marmalade. He also wanted to tell us that having been in Ruby yesterday, his wife had dragged him to Marquis to view two yesterday afternoon!! We had another nice chat before packing up and waving goodbye. The sun had decided to reappear so we pointed Ruby’s wheels in the direction of National Trust Flatford Mill, 3 miles away. Flatford Mill is well known as being the view behind the painter John Constable’s paintings. 


It was a picture perfect day, so we enjoyed a 5 mile circular walk from Flatford through the Depdale Valley.   I can’t think of anywhere that is more English- with green meadows, a perfect river running through, rowing boats, ducks and ducklings, a tea shop, and 16th century buildings to peruse. 


We enjoyed a lovely cream tea overlooking the bridge and then a local ice cream before heading home feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the week ahead.
What a lovely bit of escapism- and now it’s less than two weeks til our next trip- one of our favourites, Scotland. 

Until next time 

Lx 

Pulham Pigs – both us and the airships!

Ruby the Campervan is snuggled up on her lonesome, behind BritStop 243/17, a farm shop/cafe in Norfolk.  Despite being 20 miles from our front door we had no idea this place even existed until the new BritStop book arrived! How we have lived without this place in our lives, I will never know, but I worry that now that we do know about it, we may have to remortgage the house! LOL

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This week has been one of the busiest I can remember work wise. On Friday, we hosted our very own ABRSM Music Exam day, which was a pretty big deal but thankfully went well, and so when we saw the forecast for the weekend showing no rain, we had no hesitation in having a flick through the BritStop bible.

On top of our already ridiculous week- on Wednesday, Ruby decided to throw her toys out of the pram! The central locking on the passenger side broke, leaving the passenger door stuck in deadlock- not ideal, but not immediately urgent- until we realised that the fuel light had just come on and you can’t open the fuel cap without opening the passenger door. Argh. Cue an emergency day off to get it sorted, which turned into Ruby beinIMG_5266g away for 2 days, and us being relegated to a tiny, TINY KA – amusing watching 6foot 4 Keith trying to get in and out of that let me tell you, and don’t get me started on fitting all our musical instruments in there…

 

 

Anyhow, by the time Saturday arrived we were chomping at the bit for a change of scenery.  It was also a good excuse for us to try out our new tow bar and tow bar fitted bike carrier, so Keith loaded them up whilst I threw some food bits into the fridge. Because obviously visiting a farm shop we wouldn’t find anything for dinner.. said no-one ever! We are chuffed to bits with the bike rack- its been a little bit of a headache finding a rack that would allow us to open the boot with the bikes still on, but this Atera bike rack ticks that box, and is amazing- its so easy to use.

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We were on the road by midday and 30 mins later we were rolling onto the large car park. We introduced ourselves to the owner Stuart, who couldn’t have been nicer if he tried- and got busy taking a tour around the HUGE farm shop. If you are into eating/cooking local then this is the place for you. WOW. Meats, Cheeses, Pies, Dairy, Fresh Veg, Fudge, Ales, Wines, Whiskey, Gin… we managed to spend £40 but managed to get two juicy fillet steaks, sausages for breakfast, potatoes, cheese, mushrooms, 3 ales, a pack of fudge, sausage rolls, and a pork pie! We enjoyed the sausage roll and pork pie for lunch and set off on a little cycle ride round the local area.

We cycled through Pulham St Mary and Pulham Market, which were once home to an airbase that had several operating Airships, known locally as Pulham Pigs because of their shape.

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The Church in Pulham St Mary was amazing, it had a unusual two story porch and lots of wooden medieval carvings inside.

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We passed a fantastic old station that has been renovated into a house. The owner was tinkering in his garden so we had a nice chat with him. The station was a stop on the London to Lowestoft line and he’d done a marvellous job in restoring it including the original gates.

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We carried on along quiet country lanes until we reached the pretty Pulham Market, and resisted the urge to stop for a pint.

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We did a bit of geocaching on route and returned to Ruby after 11 miles in perfect time for Afternoon Tea – served with the fudge we had bought earlier and in our china of course. Nothing but the best in these parts!

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The remainder of the afternoon was spent chilling- I did some knitting and Keith watched some crappy tv. Soon the farm shop closed, and we were locked in for the evening. We cracked open some drinks before cooking our fillet steaks. I knocked up some homemade chips and garlic mushrooms to accompany them and we also had some peppercorn sauce. Yum, yum, yum. It dawned on us that even though we had perhaps spent more than we intended, a meal like that in a pub would have been a lot more, and we could wear our Jim Jams! And of course, we had our accommodation for free. Win win.

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After dinner we enjoyed a lovely cheese board before an hour or so of Saturday Night tv and an early night. It was so peaceful, we slept like logs. As the sun rose we were treated to a live version of the dawn chorus, including a tawny owl nearby. We were up relatively early and a made us a full english including the local sausages, which were delicious. We said thank you and goodbye to Stuart the owner, who seemed as thrilled as we did- we were his first Britstoppers and he insisted on taking a pic of us to celebrate! Before we left we had a walk around a nearby woodland, which was lovely- the rain stayed away and we did a couple more geocaches before heading home via Diss to do some errands.

A perfect escape from a crazy schedule- we’ve returned feeling ready to tackle next week!

Until Next Time

Lx

 

To Brit Stop, or Not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some pictures below of our favourite all time stopovers.

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

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

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Until Next Time,

Lx

 

 

 

 

Summer 2016: Adventures in Europe, Part 9;  Austria into the Black Forest, Germany

Day 21 – Monday

Location- Aire Traunsee, Ebensee, A.  €12 pn with services available extra GPS: n47.809070 e13.789990

Miles driven– 40 miles towards Prague, then 130 miles to a Lake in Austria!

Weather– dry, sunny and warm!
Bluebell the motorhome is parked with a beautiful lakeside view, surrounded by steep dramatic mountains.
She’s had quite a day. We were up fairly early, with the intention of our next destination being Prague. We hit a minor problem when we discovered my copilot app didn’t have the CZ maps downloaded on, so we couldn’t input the exact coordinates for the aire and the wifi wasn’t strong enough to download them. Not to worry we thought, we would use google maps. Fine, until we realised the coordinates took us about 40 miles out of Prague. Deciding to go for it using a good old fashioned map, we pootled along for roughly 30 miles, before the worry gene in me started thinking, hang on, are we mad?! We hadn’t researched CZ, had no idea about the language, currency, the list went on. Keith was so looking forward to going to Prague, so was I but I felt we may be trying to do too much. I made a comment about us staying in Austria seeing as we had the vignette and hadn’t seen much outside Salzburg and Vienna and to my surprise Keith said “pull off at the next junction, turn around and let’s do that”. That’s the short version anyway, haha, we may have had a civilised discussion about it but, in the end, we both decided we would head to a lake in Austria and hope that we could find a space. Keith was clearly disappointed but promised not to sulk and I was crapping my pants thinking God, please let there be a space, unlike last week when we tried to get a lakeside pitch and failed. Our number one rule when out on the road is we have to be both happy, whether it be a route plan, overnight stop location, whatever. Keith clearly sensed my apprehension- I was worried we would drive all that way and not get a space, Vienna was so busy and although it worked out well for us, it could have very easily gone the other way.

Roll on an hour and a half and the road descended into a glorious valley, complete with lake, and better still, we arrived to find not one space but plenty. And we got the best pitch going. The mood instantly lifted, we got the chairs out, cracked open some drinks and here we are 7 hours later, having enjoyed a fab view all afternoon sat outside chilling.

view from the stellplatz at Ebensee- can you see the mess someone made trying to get off the litch next to us! 😱

I even got my lake swim in, boy it was cold!
We had chicken and egg fried vegetable rice for tea, over which we discussed actually, it’s better to have done this as we could fly to Prague easy enough, but views like this are made for motorhomes right? Our previous plan was to drive back via Prague, Auschwitz, Kraków, Zagan (Great Escape location), Colditz Castle, Trier, Calais. Our new route is back through Austria, with stops at Lake Constance, Black Forest, Trier and Calais. Looks like I may get my Black Forest gateaux after all!

Day 22– Tuesday

Location– Aire Traunsee, Ebensee, A. €12 pn with services available extra GPS: n47.809070 e13.789990
Miles driven– 0 👍
Weather– dry, sunny and warm! ☀️
Bluebell hasn’t moved an inch, and neither have we!

We had a lazy morning, followed by a lazy afternoon, literally venturing as far as the lake for a paddle, it’s a bit cold for swimming! I read a whole book and Keefy skimmed through every magazine on board, we snoozed and we have eaten like kings. Keith sparked the BBQ up and we had fillet steak, bratwurst curly sausages and homemade chips. Absolutely yum. There’s been lots to keep us entertained, this small resort seems to be a popular kite skiing resort (not sure of the actual name) and we’ve watched with fascination. Looks like a lot of fun! Tomorrow we move onwards, heading for Lake Constance, to see if the water is warmer there!

last night in Austria- Lake Ebensee

Day 23- Wednesday
Location– Camping Bankenhoff on Lake Titisee, Black Forest Germany GPS: n47.888290 e.8.128860 around €30pn

Miles Driven- 350 miles

Weather- dry with sunny spells

Bluebell the motorhome is hooked up on a pitch on a lovely campsite underneath a steep bank of tall Black Forest trees, on the edge of Lake Titisee in the heart of the Black Forest.

She’s having a well earned rest, she’s driven us 350 miles today, a fair chunk of the homeward bound journey.

During the night we had very heavy rainfall. This didn’t help the already mashed up ground (you can see it on the previous day panoramic picture) and we woke up a little nervous about our escape route. After some umming and aaring Keith decided he was going to be responsible for getting Bluebell off, fine by me, the wheels were in perhaps half an inch of water and mud, and there was a definite hill to get up. Fair play to him, after a couple of wheel spins and time for an audience to gather (why do people do this?!) he went for it and managed to get Bluebell to the safety of the hard standing road!

We relaxed into our journey, which was fairly smooth, in the direction of Lake Constance. We were having trouble deciding on which aire to head for, there are a few in this area, and none seemed to have on site lake access. We decided on one in Stetten, which we arrived at around 3pm. Im not sure what was wrong, but our faces just did not fit! It was a busy aire with a couple of free spaces and it was nicely laid out, overlooking some lovely orchards and behind a restaurant. From the minute we arrived, as I was parking us and Keith was guiding us in, a German (I think) lady walked past us doing a loud stage whisper to our neighbour clearing saying something about us. Whilst Keith was getting the levelling chocks out she went past again, with another loud stage whisper comment to same neighbour. Our neighbour then stormed off inside in a huff (we had left loads of space between us!). We wandered down to pay, passing perhaps 4 other sets of people sat outside their vans staring at us, no smiles despite ours to them. Luckily the place to pay wasn’t open til 5- by now we’d got a vibe that there wasn’t a lot to see so we decided to move on. Much to the delight of stage whisper lady who had found 3 others to join in with her gawping at us as we departed. They nearly ended up getting mooned at, but Keith restrained himself!

On the road again, we decided to head straight to the Black Forest. Lake Constance wasn’t grabbing us- we didn’t give it much of a go, maybe we were in the wrong bit. Keith keyed in the coordinates for an aire at Titisee, according to our Germany book it’s the most popular place to come in the Black Forest.

We didn’t hold out much hope for getting a place on the aire as it only had 8 places and we weren’t going to arrive til 6pm. As soon as we drove through the village we liked what we saw and decided even if the aire was full we’d try and get onto a campsite. Unsurprisingly the aire was full, but the campsite next door had space, and wasn’t extortionate. We’d had a problem with the fridge ignition earlier so thought the electric would be useful anyway. Actually it seems it was just cos we weren’t level! The campsite man was eager to hear our thoughts on Brexit before leaving us to pick our own pitch, so we’re on a spacious one, looking out to the trees and out with the chairs and table straight away!

our pitch in The Black Forest- camping Bakenhof

We have wifi although it is painfully slow, but the facilities here are spotless so we both have taken advantage of long hot showers tonight.
Salmon, new pots and carrots and sweet corn for tea tonight. Looking forward to a greater selection of fresh veg when we are home I must say! The Fire pit is out although I suspect we won’t have a late one after the journey today!

Day 24– Thursday

Location– Camping Bankenhoff on Lake Titisee, Black Forest Germany GPS: n47.888290 e.8.128860 around €30pn
Miles Driven– 0 👍

Weather– dry with sunny spells this morning, rain in the afternoon

Bluebell the motorhome is putting her feet up after yesterday’s long journey and gearing up for the homeward stretch. We were up early this morning and seeing that the weather predicted rain this afternoon we decided to have an early cycle into the small town of Titisee.

Today I was finally going to eat Black Forest Gateaux in the Black Forest (I realise this makes me sound sad!!) Our campsite is handily located 3km from the town and has a pretty off road cycle path lakeside to get there. We really enjoyed a wander around town, despite it being very touristy, it retains charm and character- of which is totally different to other German towns we’ve visited. We found a cafe to try a piece of Black Forest Gatauex and a cake each – the waitress knew what we wanted before we said anything! It was huge, and although very nice, and very alcoholic, it was a bit too big for me, and although I ate it all, I felt sick afterwards!! A big tick for the holiday list though!


Feeling full to the brim of cake we had a wander in the souvenir shops, there are plenty here and all selling the same things- mainly cuckoo clocks!! We of course bought a cuckoo clock for our new house! Always ones for touristy souvenirs us!


We experienced the worst service EVER whilst buying some local schnapps which left me reeling and frankly close to driving all the way back home! We had a couple of drinks and tried to block out the appalling service, which worked! Phew!

My wine glass made me chuckle, as if BFG isn’t 70s enough, they serve me wine in one of these! 😂

 I made the mistake of getting the cuckoo clock out of the bag in the bar, and I was met by lots of bikers singing Cuckoo to me! This went on until we left! Very funny!
We stocked up on all sorts of treats, including local meats, wine, beer, bread, butter- and as the rain arrived we cycled back to Bluebell for a long lunch followed by a longer nap!

Chicken and noodles for tea, before another early night I suspect!

Day 25- Friday

Location– Hausach, Black Forest Germany free aire no services GPS: n48.286233 e.8.165696
Miles Driven– 40

Weather– dry with sunny spells ☀️

Bluebell the motorhome is parked up alongside a German VW and two other motorhomes (and 3 caravan so!) in a free aire/stellplatz in the small town of Hausach. We’re by the local outdoor swimming pool and under a castle ruin!

We’ve had a a lovely day today despite a rocky start. Sadly some selfish you know what’s opposite us last night on the campsite decided to be entirely self centred and be stupidly loud until the week small hours. Around midnight I saw red and went over to ask them to shut up, which they ignored so I went to find a warden around 12:30 but to no avail- considering the amount of rules regarding noise there was no one around to “police it”- and as a result I woke up at 07:00 to a screaming baby next door feeling like I’d been run over by a train! Keith’s first words were “I’m ready to go home” and I was feeling the same!

A coffee and a pet talk later and we’d got a plan- it involved us getting Jazz seen by a local vet for his return to England appointment, and then a mooch up the B500 towards the worlds largest cuckoo clock. Keith knows me well- he knew that would cheer me up!

The campsite spoke to the local vet and arranged for us to visit between 10:00-11:00, we did our services, settled the bill(turned out at £27pn a bargain despite last night’s noise) and were on the road.

As Colin the copilot navigated us the 6km to the vet we were wondering where we going! It led us up a residential small street but sure enough the vet was located in her home! Keith nipped Jazz in- was out 10 mins later with his passport stamped, worm tablet and a flea and tick treatment- all for only €20! A bargain- it definitely pays to see vets a distance out of Calais.

We joined the B500 which turned out to be a beautiful route through the Black Forest and knocked the socks off the Romantic road in our opinion.

First stop off the day was the highest waterfall in Germany- on the outskirts of Trieburg- what a funny place, it was HEAVING with tourists- we wouldnt describe it as the most impressive waterfall we’ve been to, it’s 160m drop is spread over several mini waterfalls, but was a nice stop anyway- although we made the mistake of parking in the first car park which turned out to be the highest one- cue a 1km uphill walk on way back!


Next stop was the Largest Cuckoo clock in the world, also in Trieburg- handmade 50 times larger than the normal cuckoo clock and a real treat to the mechanics working “behind the scenes” – we were there in time for the 1pm cuckoo call which was a case of Blink and you’ll miss it, which made me and all the others giggle- still really great to see, perhaps just time it with a larger number hour!


A quick supply top up in Lidl before arriving at – an open air museum with lots of old traditional houses which you can go in. There was a great selection of houses to visit- including a dairy farmers,  mill houses, the governers house, wood carvers etc. It reminded us of Hida Folk Village in Japan. Some of the houses dated from the 1600s and it was a lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon, although I started to get tired after a while- our bad nights sleep catching up on us.

We’d wondered whether we could make it to Trier, but Colin copilot was saying 4 hours and it had gone 4:30pm, so we consulted the camperstop bible and luckily enough found two Aires 3 miles down the road- both free and plenty of space!
Time for a chill before dinner, tonight we’ve got chicken, mozzarella and tomato pasta

Until next time

Lx

PS you can follow our journey using a real time location tracker by following this link: https://track.gs/LXADWw

Camera pics to follow!!

Our Royal Ramblings around Sandringham, Norfolk

Bluebell the motorhome is parked on a lovely spacious pitch overlooking Woodland within Sandringham Country Park. We are nestled upon the Caravan Club club site- a first for us, but there were no CLs close enough for us to park up on Friday and not drive again til today, so here we are.

  
We are lucky in that Sandringham is only an hours drive from home, so we arrived on Friday bang on the check in time of 12:00 ready to explore. On arrival we were told about SCD (Seasonal Canine Disorder) from the cautious warden and advised not to take the dog out into the Country Park. Panicking, we didnt know what to do for the best, as the country park goes for miles and we were smack bang in the middle. We decided to walk Jazz as normal, but not let him off lead ( well we dont do that anyway) and be extra vigilant for signs of illness. 

The weather was fantastic, blue skies, no clouds, so we decided to set out on a 6.5 8 mile walk to Wolfreton and back through the park and past the visitor centre. The walk was glorious, taking in the wonderful Royal Wolfreton Station, once the main station where Royals would disembark on their way to Sandringham, but now a residential property which has been wonderfully restored privately. You can access the station, and visit the museum and it’s all free. Remarkable. 

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
  The walk took us over Dersingham bog (on the boardwalk of course!) with views of the wash and then back through the country park. We haven’t walked that length in a while (it turned out to be 8 miles as we added 3/4 mile each way getting from the campsite to join the AA Route.   
   

We had a great sleep on Friday night, the site is very quiet, and we were treated to hearing the Owls in the woods. They sounded very close to us! Always a lovely sound. 
Saturday dawned another sunny day, so we got the bikes off the rack and set out on a 15.5 23 mile cycle, a route we found on the Caravan Club website. The route took us through West Newton, Amner (and past Amner Hall where Kate and Wills live- not that you could see it!) Great Bircham and its impressive windmill (sadly now closed until Easter- we’ve been up previously and it’s fantastic). 

   
    
    
    
    
   
We then carried on through Fring, Snettisham – where we stopped at the picturesque Rose and Crown, winner of Pub of the Year 2015, and we can see why, it’s very pretty and our sandwiches were delicious. It was then the home stretch through Dersingham and back to Sandringham campsite via the visitor centre. 

   
    
    
 We passed several shops selling local produce, and took advantage of the fact stopping to get cheese at each, and chutney atSandringham visitors centre,  building ourselves a nice little local cheese board for later that night! Not sure why the cycle ended up being 7.5 miles longer than the route suggested, we don’t think we went wrong! Anyway, we were glad to get back as it was just about our limit and actually there were a surprising amount of hills- but it was a lovely day nonetheless. 
Saturday night was spent chilling and watching Strictly. Here’s a strange story- I went to enquire about a TV arial lead at reception as Friday night our TV signal off the status arial was ok but sometimes broke up, and we noticed everyone else on site had Arial leads. I was shocked that they were not available to hire, you had to buy them and they were £15! I’m not sure if we are out of touch with these larger commercial sites or what, but I was surprised to hear that, especially in an area where TV signal isn’t so good, you would think that they perhaps would let you have them  for free to hire with a deposit or something? Especially when we are paying £20 a night?  Suffice to say, I didn’t buy one, and in the end we had no problems off status arial so that was satisfying! 

Sunday dawned and we were up early ready to pack away and the short drove to Sandringham House. It’s 1.5 miles from the campsite, so we could have walked t you can’t take dogs in so we wanted to reduce the time that Jazz needed to stay on his own in the van. 

It cost £13.50 each to get into Sandringham, this included the stunning gardens, downstairs of the house, and also a large museum.  We felt it to be very good value. The gardens were spectacular, the leaves just starting to change colour.  

    
    
    
    
 The first view of the house was exciting, it’s a stunning property you can see The Queen chooses to spend Christmas here. 
   
    
   

  
We weren’t allowed to take piccies inside, but we got to see the lounge/saloon, drawing room, dining room (where they have their Turkey!) and ballroom. It was better value (IMO) than Ballmoral. 

Inside the museum were loads of old Royal vehicles and a wealth of history and information. Also, a very large Pumpkin!

   
    
    
    
   
  
The west lawns were our favourite  

    
 
Finally, after going to pick Jazz up, via the shop may I add, we went for a quick look around the church where The Royal Family worship on Christmas Day. What a pretty spot, the inside is lovely. We will watch the news with a vested interest on Xmas Morning

   
    
   
Jazz licking his lips on the above signalled time for home- we’d had a lovely break, and are now looking forward to doing Leicestershire over half term! 

Until next time

Lx