Gandalf the VW is parked up on a glorious field in Eastbridge, in the heart of Suffolk and not too far from Minsmere and Dunwich. We’re on a C&CC certified site with no hookup, and just a tap, loo and chemical disposal. At just £9 for the night, we are very happy campers indeed. Eastbridge Farm, Suffolk
Yesterday we finally got our new solar panel fitted to the pop top ; after over a year of uming and ahing- a change of van, and then a long wait for our trusty caravan serviceman, Simon from Thetford Caravan Service- who is FLAT OUT! Yesterday was finally the day!
I’m not going to lie; our hearts were in our mouths as we watched Simon drill into Gandalf’s roof, but he did a marvellous job. We opted for Sunpower 110v flexible solar panels sitting on our pop too and this weekend ended up being the perfect test as we enjoyed the hottest weekend of the year so far.
Saturday dawned hot, and we were very thankful for our air con as we made the hour journey to Eastbridge via Morrison’s. By 1pm we had arrived set up camp. The weather was top notch, and we enjoyed a major chill for the entire afternoon; snoozing, reading and listening to music.
We are two days from breaking up from the summer and officially almost burnt out. The chill in the sun did a very good job at recharging our own batteries, never mind the solar panel charging the leisure battery. We kept checking the solar panel and couldn’t believe that we were drawing 5vs into the leisure battery. Most importantly the Prosecco and beer was ice cold.
Dinner time soon arrived and we bbqed a great big slab of steak with sausages – absolutely delicious; before thinking perhaps we should take a walk, so walked the 5 mins max to the local pub the Eels Foot Inn- an Adnams freehouse.
On our return to camp we set up our new piece of kit, a folding handmade fire pit. A student that we have both taught for over 10 years goes to Uni this summer so we received this immensely thoughtful homemade gift- handmade and designed by her mum. Isn’t it fab!
We slept like logs, and before we knew it Sunday morning had arrived. The cows mooing provided a gentle start to our Sunday morning, and as the sun rose the heat soared! We got out our sun canopy and had a light breakfast before packing up camp and heading to nearby Dunwich Beach.
We were joined here by both our mums, and Keefy treated them to a delicious fish bbq on the beach for lunch. That cadac safari chef 2 is really versatile and perfect for moving it around to find a picturesque cooking spot.
We spent all day on the beach – mum and I drinking mocktails pretending we were in Greece (we were both driving!) Several swims in the sea were enjoyed and before we knew it it was time to make our way home. We may have only been way for just over 24 hours but we feel recharged ready to tackle the last two days of a very unusual year of music education and performance!
We’ve got loads planned for the summer in Galdalf; we can’t wait to take you along with us on the ride.
Ruby the VW Campervan is parked up on her own private glade on the outskirts of Southwold. We are plugged into the electric and have a water tap and loo disposal. We have 4 other neighbours but due to the lovely landscaping of this campsite we can’t see any of them! We’re pitched up at Jubilee Certified Campsite, a 5 van site linked to the Camping and Caravan Club and at £15 on we feel like it’s a steal!
Thursday; we were working until 11:30 at which point we closed our laptops, bid our final students a fond farewell for the summer and literally RAN into Ruby and set off towards Southwold.
It’s actually an amusing story as to how we ended up here; it was an accidental booking a few weeks ago, as we were emerging out of lockdown I hit the phones trying to secure a couple of local breaks. When I rang this site, I thought it was one elsewhere, and when he told me he literally had one night free in the whole of July- I snapped it up thinking oh my god, we’ve missed the boat. When I realised my error I understood; walking distance into Southwold is always going to be attractive and the reviews for the site glowed. We decided to keep the booking and go and enjoy some Adnams to mark the end of a very strange and stressful school year!
The campsite is just lovely. Everything I hoped a CL with no facilities would be. Check in was relaxed, we literally just found an empty glade, plugged in and then tried to remember how to set the awning up. It went up quickly and easily and we had another couple of new gadgets to play with – our sun canopy and two Ruby red zero gravity recliners.
We decided to have a bbq lunch and just enjoy the quiet campsite for an hour or so which was bliss. I cracked open the fizz and we toasted getting through the last few months of utter chaos work wise!
Around 4pm we made our way the short distance on foot (20 mins) into Southwold. It’s been ages since we’ve visited, despite it being only an hour away. The colourful beach huts against the lovely sandy beach made us instantly feel on holiday.
We made our way to the Adnams shop to stock up- but had mistimed it so our summer budget breathed a sigh of relief! Instead we made our way to the historic Lord Nelson Adnams pub, who have adapted brilliantly to COVID requirements by closing inside – there are too many nooks and crannies; instead serving drinks out of a hatch and allowing you to enjoy a beer on benches overlooking the sea. This view would rival any beer garden! Having found a prime spot bench, we decided this would become our office for the evening, so we ordered fish and chips for takeaway from the pub for later on and spent a couple of hours sampling some Adnams with a view that just never got old.
After our delicious Adnams beer battered fish and chips, we made our way back to Ruby and had a chill outside the van until the mosquitos came out to play! They completely caught us off guard- we were totally unprepared for them and as such spent 2 hours before bed trying to make Ruby a mossie free zone- then realised there is a gap in the tailgate awning so had to reluctantly close the tailgate and start again!
Somehow we woke up with only 2 bites but high on today’s agenda is to get some repellent!
We absolutely LOVE this campsite so much! For us this is the perfect CL. It’s no surprise it books up very quickly.
Shortly after writing the blog section above, we began thinking about packing up ready to move on, as sadly our campsite (when we booked in June) could only fit us on for the one night. We therefore were thrilled (despite sharing the campsite owner’s annoyance of people’s lack of courtesy) when he popped round as we cooked breakfast to say he’d had a no show and we therefore would be welcome to stay an additional night. It was a no brainer and we thanked him for giving us first dibs, settled up for another night and put the kettle on; our day ahead looked leisurely and with no time commitments we couldn’t have been more relaxed and happy.
Late morning we decided to have another wander into Southwold, and this time take a walk towards nearby Walberswick along the coast. The weather had been a bit grey and drizzly so far but as soon as we reached the centre the sun came out and as luck would have it a beer table became available outside the Sole Bay inn. Well it would have been rude not to have stopped to sample an Adnams cider and we happily people watched for a while, whilst sat in the shadow of the lighthouse.
We moved on towards Walberswick picking up some mozzie repellent on the way and followed the dune path towards Southwold harbour and passed the exceptionally busy and hemmed in Southwold campsite. We felt pleased to not be staying there this time.
We joined the queue for the small foot passenger “ferry” which would take us the very short distance by water, but save us a much longer walk. There has been a ferry here since 1236 and it’s usually and traditionally a small rowing boat, but Covid restrictions have meant that the rowing boat is too small for social distancing. We were surprised to see our campsite owner driving the ferry! He seemed pleased to see us as he’d recommend the walk to Walberswick.
On the other side we happened across a pastry shop which just happened to have some fresh out of the oven sausage rolls for us to enjoy for our lunch. We washed it down with a drink at The bell, before hopping back across to Southwold on the ferry.
Opposite the ferry drop off point was a traditional fishmongers and as we are suckers for local food and the weather was good we picked up some fresh scallops and sea bass fillets for a bbq tea.
As we passed the Adnams shop on route back to the campsite we stocked up on lager, cider and white wine ready for our fishy feast!
We enjoyed our fish bbq so much! We had a delicious cheese board for supper (including some local Baron Bigod soft cheese) and retreated to bed before we got attacked by mosquitos!
Keith has made some effective mosquito nets to cover the gaps in the tailgate awning, so we were able to sleep with that open last night which was comfortable- although we both managed to screw a few bites between us!
The awning and canopy came down really easily and quickly as we packed up this morning, and after a fairly quick pack away we waved a fond farewell to our campsite- we have loved our stay here!
On the way home we stopped off at Woodbridge, to do a walk and also see the last remaining original tidal mill in the country. The town of Woodbridge is pretty and has lots of listed buildings. Thomas Seckford, Master of the Court of Requests of Queen Elizabeth I lived here in the 1500s and we passed many very pretty and quaint (and some less so 😉 ) properties around the centre of the town.
The tidal mill has been there since the 1700s, although there has been a tidal mill on that site since 1170 which is just remarkable to imagine. It’s recently been fully restored to working order and is looking fabulous standing proudly against the River Deben. Across the river is NT Sutton Hoo – well worth a visit (we’ve been recently). We passed some lovely looking house barges along the quay.
We were thrilled that the weather held out for our walk and only changed as we neared home.
We arrived home feeling refreshed and relaxed; we’d had such a lovely mini break! We’d fallen out of love with Southwold a few years ago, we can’t even really remember why, but it’s safe to say after this visit it’s lodged firmly back into our heart! We’ll be back!
We’ve actually only got a couple of days at home before we venture out again; this time we’ll be pointing our wheels northward.
Stay tuned! Until next time
PS: COVID-19 measures within Southwold
There is currently a one way system on the Main Street- with one pavement for each direction. This helped us feel secure and mainly worked well. All pubs and shops had sanitiser stations and on the Friday the law changed regarding masks and every seemed to be obeying the new rules. The pubs all did things differently and according to the space they each had available. The Lord Nelson served only from a hatch outside, and served takeaway food in the evening (pre book via phone) The Sole Bay Inn had a one way system and plenty of Perspex screens. The Bell at Walberswick were hugely limiting numbers, even in the garden. The Walberswick ferry sterilised every contact point as people got off after every trip. We felt safe and welcome at all times.
For us when we arrive at a campsite, once we are set up, we don’t want to move the van if we can help it. I spend all week chasing around in between schools and gigs so once the journey is out of way, I want to hang up those car keys and embrace not having to drive. Because of this we are always on the look out for campsites with walks or bike rides from our pitch.
For the second year running Keith and I have signed up to “walk 1000 miles”. Last year we smashed it by walking over 1100 miles which we were thrilled about- crossing the 1000 mile mark in mid November.
As usual its been a busy start to the decade, and with some pretty rough weather and my lingering lurgy, the 40 odd miles walked so far this year by us have been mainly in the dark either first thing in the morning or last thing at night. But this weekend a welcome break in the weather arrived at the same time as a welcome day off.
As we only had the day spare we opted for a local walk just 5 miles away from our front door. However seeing as we have a really rather decent campsite in the middle of the walk and various attractions around us – we felt it was well worth a write up to add to our ‘Campsites with walks from the pitch’ list.
This campsite is right in the heart of the forest. The pitches are really pictuesque and there are decent facilities and even an outside pool for the summer months. It gets very busy, we even know neighbours who go there on holiday despite it being 3 miles from our front door. It is open from Mid march to mid October.
9 miles but many shorter (or longer) routes available.
Because we live so close obviously we didn’t camp. We parked Ruby at Knetttishall Heath which has two large and free carparks. Knettishall Heath also has miles of trails to follow and is the start of the Peddars Way.
Our route began in the main car park which we walked away from by turning left out of the main gates, following the road back towards the A1066. After about half a mile we took a small footpath towards Riddlesworth Hall Private School. The path goes behind the school and you get good views of Princess Diana’s former school – the impressive Riddlesworth Hall.
We then crossed the 1066 and took a quiet lane through the forest towards Dower House Campsite. We took the campsite entry road and followed it for the mile or so before breaking off to the left following the path towards Thorpe Woodlands (Forest Holidays). This is a good place for a refreshment stop as there is a pet and child friendly bar/cafe which serves decent food and is open to non residents.
We carried on to the Peddars Way National Trail which we followed all the way back to Knettishall Heath. Our route covered 9 miles and was really enjoyable.
If we were staying at the campsite we would head towards Riddlesworth Hall first then Knettishall Heath as that way you get the road walking (albeit quiet road) done first.
There are enough walks directly from the campsite to occupy you at least 2-3 days so it’s perfect for a weekend break.
East Harling is just about walkable from Dower House – or cyclable on a very quiet lane. There are two decent pubs, one that serves exceptional food – The Nags Head and one that is a drinkers pub, The Swan. There is also a traditional tea room, Peppers, a village store, fish and chip shop and post office. The 2 pubs and the tea room are all all dog friendly. If you don’t fancy the distance, there is a great cab service that is based in the village.
Just outside of East Harling is England’s oldest Whiskey Distillery. Its well worth a trip if you like Whiskey or Baileys – they do a very nice Norfolk Nog which is similar to Baileys. There is also a restaurant and cafe at the distillery too.
A little further afield but less than 10 miles away there is Snetterton Race circuit and also Banham Zoo, or Bressingham Steam Museum.
Did you know that the legendary actor James Stewart was stationed nearby to here in Old Buckenham, about 8 miles away during WW2? You can visit the small museum on the airfield and visit Jimmy’s cafe. Or perhaps come and watch the very popular and really great air show in July.
As you can see we are blessed with where we live. If you decide to come and try the campsite out do let us know, we’ve love to meet up! This truly is our stomping ground! In fact during this walk we bumped into two of our followers randomly! Great to meet you Eric and Pam!
We’re always on the look out for inspiration of where to visit for a night or two which requires no driving once on site. If you have any spots you’d like to share, please do so in the comments below.
Our next Ruby adventure is just 3 weeks away, we’re looking forward to seeing some hills in West Yorkshire.
Ruby the VW campervan is parked up on the beautiful and idyllic ‘Tumbleweed’; a Camping and Motorhome Club certified location situated 4 miles outside of Orford on the Suffolk coast.
We decided to avoid the club sites during the August holidays this year as even during the May half term they were packed and fairly noisy. We’ve been quite busy doing gigs and a handful of teaching since returning from our Canada and Alaska and fancied some peace and quiet. Tumbleweed (£14 pn) had a space free despite our fairly late booking and even better, it had a shower (£1 for a 10 minute shower) and toilet on site.
We arrived just before 1200 and instantly relaxed. The site, despite only hosting 5 vans, is a relatively large and beautifully landscaped site, nestled just to the side of the owners house. There are a couple of hard standing pitches and the rest are grass. We chose the pitch closest to the small stream that runs alongside the site.
We wasted no time in getting the bikes off the back of Ruby and pointing our wheels in the direction of Orford, just 4.5 miles away along a small quiet lane.
Seeing as we’d arrived at lunchtime, and the pubs on this this stretch of coast weirdly stop serving food at around 2.30 despite it being the height of summer, we decided to have our fish and chips lunch before our walk so we didn’t run the risk of missing out!
Orford is very famous for its Castle, a unique and fantastically preserved polygonal tower keep, which stands proudly above the small village and is seen for miles along the coast on a clear day. It’s looked after now by English Heritage and worth a visit. We visited a few years ago so didn’t go inside today. Dogs are allowed in.
Orford is also famous for its fishing – it’s been a fishing port for years and years and as such you can find the famous Pinney’s of Orford smokehouse shop here. They still fish on two boats from Orford quay and have a large smokehouse just behind. It’s the place to buy your smoked fish from round here.
In the Jolly Sailors, our lunch venue, they were selling a pint of Pinney’s smoked prawns, something we’ve not seen before, so we of course ordered a pint to share followed by two battered fish and chips.
Both were delicious and washed down by the local Adnams lager. It took all my strength not to order the adnams gin which is fab, but I’ve got a bottle at home so resisted.
After lunch, we moved our bikes to the large car park where there was ample bike parking and began our country walking route.
We followed the estuary for a couple of miles following the Suffolk coastal path. And then cut inland before following a good path back to the castle.
We would have had a drink at the other pub in the village but it was closed – I told you, weird opening hours! – so grabbed some Suffolk gold cheese, and cycled back to Ruby. The return journey was a little easier on the legs.
Back at Ruby, we had a quick shower set our stall out and made the most of the sunshine and peace and quiet. We sat out until gone 8pm reading. It was perfection.
Once the sun had gone down, we moved inside and had a simple dinner made up of some leftovers from a Mexican bbq we cooked at the weekend and settled down to watch a film, but we didn’t even make 20 minutes before our eyelids became increasingly heavy, so we called an early night!
We slept like logs for over 12 hours! It was absolutely silent here- perfect for our weary bodies!
We had a simple al fresco breakfast before quickly packing up Ruby, saving goodbye to the site owners and heading down a mile or so to the large picnic car park (this has a height barrier so is not suitable for people in anything taller than 2m) just along the Iken road near Snape.
Here we picked up the coastal path for the mile or so to Snape Maltings, which as the title suggests is a converted Maltings that was built to malt barley, which was then sent on to make beer in London and Europe. It’s spot, right on the banks of the River Alde, made it a desirable and useful spot and it remained a busy Maltings right up to the 1960s. At this point, local but very famous composer, Benjamin Britten, had the vision or turn the derelict buildings of Snape Maltings into a concert hall and ever since the famous Aldeburgh Music Festival and much more has been held there. It’s now home to much more than just the concert hall, also an array of shops, boutiques and gallery’s and is worthy of a trip if you’ve not been before.
Our walk continued through Blaxhall common or Blaxhall Heath as it more resembles- we lost the path due to overgrown-ness a couple of times but we enjoyed the varied landscapes and all the beautiful purple heathers.
We were surprised to learn that we racked up 5 miles by the time we got back to Ruby – which brings our walk 1000miles target to 690 miles walked so far this year!
After a quick bite to eat, we turned our wheels back in the direction of home, but not before one last stop at the wonderful Friday Street Farm ship just before we turned onto the A12. We were exceptionally disciplined- we’re trying not to spend a fortune, but I stocked up on fresh fruit – much of which was harvested from High House fruit farm which was only a mile away from our campsite. Tomorrow has been declared a jam making day!
We absolutely loved Tumbleweed Cl, and thought the facilities were exceptional for a small site. We’re starting to prefer these quiet sites during the peak seasons, so finding one with such spotless and modern facilities is just wonderful.
Does anyone else have any recommendations for CL or CS sites with a decent shower? Please comment below if you do
Since we got home from America, it’s been full on with work as we’ve had a show production as well as our normal teaching routine. As soon as the show was over I was itching to get out for some fresh air, and luckily my lovely husband had preempted this and prebooked some tickets to nearby Anglesey Abbey for their winter lights event.
Anglesey Abbey is a National Trust owned country house that was formerly a priory and is set within acres of woodland. A perfect canvas for a magical winter wonderland trail.
We met Keith’s Dad and Stepmum for a late Sunday dinner at the nearby Red Lion in Swaffham Prior, before driving the couple of miles to Anglesey Abby for our 7pm entrance ticket. Our meal was gorgeous, one of the best Sunday lunches we’ve had in ages and really great value.
We had a few minutes to spare at Anglesey Abbey so had a hot chocolate and a browse of the gift shop; I just love the National trust gift shops and left laden with goodies! At 7pm we were called through and began our winter trail. The lights were extremely pretty and atmospheric, and although completely different to Kew Gardens winter lights which we visited last year, it was equally as lovely.
The trail is about 1.75 miles long, and there are a couple of rest areas with hot food, coffee and mulled wine of course. There were also some entertainers at each rest point- a fire eater and country band in one section and a brass band in the other.
We carried on along the trail admiring the huge silver birch trees all lit up beautifully and our favourite section was the stretch along near the mill.
The Abbey itself was pretty with multicoloured lights that you could control using devices on the path, which was unique.
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip and was the perfect outing to get us starting to think about Christmas. Tickets for this year have sold out already, however you can get tickets through the National trust website here – we booked in September.
We didn’t stay as we were local and it was a Sunday night, however you could easily combine this trip with a stay on:
Anglesey Abbey also is very proud to host one of the best displays of snowdrops in the country and is well worth a visit in February too.
The following weekend, hailed the return of the ever popular Bury Christmas Fayre. Each year this 4 day Christmas fayre becomes even more popular- we’ve been making a point of visiting every year that we’ve lived here. Despite us only being 30 mins from Bury St Edmunds we always camp overnight as we are partial to a drop of Greene King Abbotts Reserve, but at 6.5% I only need to sniff it and be over the limit!
In Bury St Edmunds there is an official motor home overnight parking area in the main car park, where we can park legally for 24 hrs at only £2.50. We are so lucky to have this, if only more councils supported motorhome owners on this way but that’s a different story.
Despite this wonderful facility being available, we rarely get to use it during the Xmas market weekend as there are only 5 spaces and they are always full, so we tend to discreetly park up outside of town for the night. This year however due to a wedding on the Saturday, we ended up at Bury on Friday and i’ll be blowed, we got a space in the Aire!
We wasted no time and headed straight for the Abbot reserve tent!
The market is centred around the picturesque Abbey gardens and Angel hill and is full of stalls offering lovely gifts and food and drink galore.
This year, we did less shopping and more drinking hehe, but we stocked up on cheeses! The Greene King tent is right opposite the stage and so we enjoyed watching the commitments tribute band.
It really is a lovely Christmassy event, and we look forward to it every year. It’s also dog friendly.
We can’t go to Bury St Edmunds without a drink in the Nutshell, claimed to the smallest pub in the UK and this trip was no exception. It’s also dog friendly. 🐾
Whether we like it or not, Summer is becoming a distant memory now. The nights are drawing in and the air has become fresher and less humid, the smell of log burners lace the night sky and supermarkets and shops have started stacking shelves from floor to ceilings with Halloween and dare I say Christmas paraphernalia.
Personally, I’m happy to see this shift. I love Autumn. Firstly I’m an October baby, so once those blackberries and apples have been harvested, people start asking me if I have any birthday present ideas. But aside from celebrating, I adore the darker evenings- no feeling guilty for snuggling up in my pjs on the sofa drinking hot chocolate on weekends, the return of Strictly, winter walks, crispy leaves under my feet in the woods and those gorgeous golden colours. I’m definitely an Autumnal addict.
If you are looking for an October break away, especially if you have kids (or dogs!) We highly recommend a day at Undley Pumpkin Patch.
A pick your own pumpkin patch, which offers a huge and wonderful display of pumpkins and squash in all shapes and sizes, at a remarkably good price.
There are seasonable food and craft stalls, photo opportunities galore, inflatables, mazes, and faceprinting, so grab your wellies and head on over to Suffolk for a really fun day out.
It’s open weekends and right through half term, so why not book onto the local campsite The Willows Campsite and make a mini break of it.
Until next time
*NB We made our visit a couple of years ago, but forgot to blog about it- from what I’ve read it’s grown from strength to strength. We just haven’t had chance to visit this year and due to our USA trip in a couple of days, and then someone pranging Ruby last week, we won’t get there this year 😢🎃
Ruby the VW Campervan is parked up across the Border – we’re in deepest North Essex at Brit Stop number 221/18. It’s a lovely historical pub that we are nestled behind, and we have a private glade on hardstanding in the very quiet staff carpark. The pub has some links to a very famous Norfolk Boy so we are feeling right at home, and across the road we have a wonderful traditional Village Green – which if you carry on reading, you will see, comes in verrrrry useful later on!
We’ve had a busy one today doing heaps of admin – but admin of the pleasant kind – booking trips including NYE and February Half Term amongst other things. Since downsizing to Ruby and loosing our on board shower, we are enjoying C&MC and C&CC Club sites lots more than we used too, as the facilities tend to be immaculate and plentiful in hot water supply. Perfect for winter touring when you’ve had a long muddy walk and need a long hot shower – some of the non club sites we visited earlier this year were quite frankly gross, so we’ve kind of gravitated to Club sites which have so far done what they said on the tin for a reasonable enough price.
Having said that, we’re not quite ready to throw in our spontaneous souls just yet, so after filling the diary and part of next years, we made the most of a free Saturday night and travelled to North Essex for a few drinks, meal and more importantly, a head start on a journey that could have meant setting the alarm for 7am on a Sunday – a unheard of occurrence in the O’Gorman household.
On arrival at Britstop number 221 (in the 2018) book, Kevin, the landlord gave us a friendly welcome, and we spent an hour or so dribbling over the DELICIOUS looking menu whilst having a pint of Broadside and Aspall. We then took ourselves for a leg stretch around the paths of the village – admiring some of the pleasant properties on the green and a tasty looking farm shop. Luckily for the bank balance this was closed – next time however…
We enjoyed a really delicious meal in the restaurant – I had breaded Brie and Keith had homemade garlic mushrooms in a stilton sauce to start, which quite frankly was one of the best pub starters I’ve ever tasted. Next up was beef with chinese spices sizzler – on a bed of noodles. It was GORGEOUS. However the portions were huge! So for the first time I think in the 9 years of knowing Keefy – neither one of us could finish our meals! Luckily the pub was adequately prepared and we got the remains boxed up – which we finished for dinner tonight! Prices were really reasonable – the starters were £6 each and the sizzler £13.95 each.
We got so full that we had to do 3 laps of the village green to make ourselves comfortable! That along with an emergency cup of peppermint tea, and then a good ol singsong along to the Last Night of the Proms, ensured we got a great nights sleep.
This morning Keefy woke up bright and early – he was like a kid on Christmas Day – the reason for our night away was he was booked onto an Owl Encounter morning at nearby Lavenham Falconry (belated birthday present) Keith adores Owls. Eagle eyed of you may have noticed in pictures, in Ruby’s side window we have an owl cuddly toy. In our house we have owls everywhere! He’s obsessed with them.
So today – he got to handle and fly 4 different species, The Barn Owl, The Dark Breasted Barn Owl, The Great Grey and the Eagle Owl. We also saw the Eurasian Eagle Owl – which is huge and way too big for us to handle with normal falconry gloves. For an extra £15 I booked myself in to be his guest – which meant I could be paparazzi and snap away to my hearts content.
The 2 hour Owl experience cost £60 and was 100% worth every penny. It was fantastic value for money, and I can honesty say I have never seen Keith smile for such a long period of time (I don’t mean that horribly by the way!)- he’s still beaming away now 12 hours later.
If you have any interest in Owls or Birds of Prey including Falcons and Hawks, you need to check out Lavenham Falconry. Turn it into a mini break – stay at the BritStop and have a day in historic and wonderful Lavenham whilst you’re at it. We popped in on our way home, but we had a mound of stuff to do still at home plus it was packed being a Sunday afternoon so we just revisited the National Trust Guildhall before making our way back home.
Back to school tomorrow after a wonderful summer break. But lots of winter adventures planned – next up, is a weekend trip to Duxford in two weeks time for the Battle of Britain airshow.
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.
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.
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.
We 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.
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.
The 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!)
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
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
Ruby the Campervan is parked up back at home after a quick night away, across the border to Suffolk. We had a crazy week of work, so decided a BritStop night away would be the perfect thing to look forward to, to celebrate our new 2017 edition of the BritStop Bible arriving.
We had a lavishly long lie in on Saturday, not getting up until 11:30, but the ease of having our camper van back out on the drive made for a really speedy getaway- we were on the road for 12:30, stopping briefly to return a couple of bike racks to Halfords, before arriving at Clare Country Park in time for a Campervan Cookbook lunch of Campfire Quesadillas.
We substituted the campfire for Ruby’s hob, and washed lunch down with a refreshing beer and a wander along the old Railway Path, around the old Railway buildings and ruins of Clare Castle and Priory. The weather was dull and dismal, but we enjoyed the leg stretch and the fresh air nonetheless, although it was sad to see so many trees blown over due to the recent Storm Doris. The winds were hanging on a bit actually so it was a bit drafty to send Donny my Parrott Drone up- a shame as I bet it would be a good arial shot – never mind though, always next time!
We had a little wander around the picturesque village of Clare and I stuck my head into a couple of the shops – as much as I could get away with anyway, Keith’s not the biggest shopper in the world, before having a cuppa and a jam doughnut back in Ruby!
We made our way ten mins or so to our BritStop location for the night, no. 232 in the 2017 book, a charming 16th Century pub near to Sudbury. The draw of the pub was that the landlord/chef doesn’t have a menu as such, he just cooks you what you fancy, depending on what local ingredients he has in. He also has a microbrewery onsite, we finished off his latest batch of bitter- it was yum!
We parked up, introduced ourselves and arranged to go back in 6ish to decide upon what to eat and have a beer. We used the time to play with our new gadget- a portable TV which, one you plug a memory card in has the function to record Live TV. We had zero phone signal at the pub, so my hopes of recording Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway were rather slim, so I enjoyed half an hour of knitting whist Keith played around with the TV. I was therefore mighty surprised when the next thing I hear is the roar of the rugby coming from this iPad sized screen- Keith had attached the magnetic ariel to the side of the van and it had somehow found a full digital signal! We were stunned. It has a 12v plug so can run off the leisure battery, or run without being plugged in for 2 hours.
We set it to record and went inside, ready for a beer. The welcome was warm, and not just because of the roaring log fire. The landlord was a right character, but his enthusiasm and passion for cooking impossible not to latch on to. He discussed menu options with us and disappeared into the kitchen, leaving us in the company of a friendly local, and before we knew it the most delicious garlic mushrooms were delivered to our table, which we absolutely wolfed down! Main course arrived next and we enjoyed a fabulous patter of curries and accompaniments, all lovingly homemade.
We had a fabulous night, and were shocked when the bill came to less than £50. A perfect evening. The recording on the TV had worked perfectly so we watched bit of Ant and Dec before having an early night- we must have needed it as we slept for almost 12 hours straight! We are finding the bed in Ruby extremely comfortable, even Keith, who has rigged up the portapotty at the end of his side of the bed so he has extended the bed by an extra foot- enabling us to both be able to stretch out fully.
Sunday dawned a little brighter so after a fairly lazy morning we set off home via Ickworth National Trust. It’s a favourite of ours, and this time we parked up in the overflow carpark which gave us panoramic views of the farm land, which Keith enjoyed whilst I cooked my very first Fry up in Ruby. It was a bit of a juggle on only 2 hobs but I managed it with no stress- I’m definitely enjoying the sitting down cooking approach!
We had a big walk around the grounds before heading Ruby’s wheels in the direction of home, vowing to return to our new favourite BritStop very soon, and feeling fully refreshed, recharged and ready to face the week ahead. When we were faced with having to get rid of Bluebell, it was exactly these weekends that I was most devasted at the prospect of not being able to do anymore. I’m so glad we found our gal Ruby quickly, and so far, she’s ticking all our boxes.
Until Next Time