I’m officially rubbish. I can’t believe how far behind I’ve managed to get on this blog!! It’s annoying me now, so in the next couple of posts I’m going to try and sum up the last 9 months or so of motor homing for us, so that I’m finished and up to date in time for our next jaunt- to the Cotswolds next week. Can’t wait.
May half term- Cambridgeshire
Highlights- catching up with my friends Mike and Catherine from Croydon and celebrating the jubilee weekend in style with a bbq feast in Ely
Catching up with Keith’s dad and Valerie in Cambridge – punting and watching evensong in Kings College chapel
Seeing Concorde in Duxford
Fleeing a campsite at 10 at night due to the fact there were 3 random men driving around very close to the pitches WITH GUNS!!
Weekend at end of June with Dad and Jenny- Norfolk Broads motor homing and a boat!
One of the drawbacks with being a musician is that November and December turn into absolutely CRAZY times! It was this, and the fact that Daisy was having a new water pump fitted, that following our October jolly, we weren’t able to get out again until in between Xmas and New Year. We didn’t know it at the time, but this was to become our finale voyage in dear old Daisy, as unbeknownst to us (until a particularly large amount of rain one afternoon) we discovered the thing that most motorhomers fear…. the DREADED LEAK! 😥 We were staying on a nice little site just outside of Cromer, Norfolk , with my Dad and Jen, and we started noticing the tell tale signs. We tried to justify it, saying it was condensation at first, but as time went on, and the walls got softer and softer, we soon realised we were dealing with the real macoy – a proper Talbot reknowned leak. Still, we managed to grin and bear it, and had a lovely time. The site was lovely – http://www.moorlandpark.co.uk/ and we had a great walk all the walk to Sheringham for fish and chips and a pint, then shared a taxi back. 🙂
Birthdays… I have been so lucky. Being a late October babe has meant that I have never had to be at work or school (back in the day!) on my jolly birthday! It’s always been in half term! So I’ve pretty much always gone away!
This year, having enjoyed our previous adventure through Wales, we decided to hit the Beacons, and also teamed up with Dad and Jenny for some R&R, beer, food and walking.
Keith and I started our adventure with a night near Worcester, on a lovely little site on the river. It was lovely, we had a nice wander up the river towards the next village and stopped at a fab farm shop- I bought some marvelous Blackcurrant and Chocolate jam. Yum Yum!
The following day, we set off ready to meet Dad and Jen in Crickhowell and had 2 nights on a lovely, basic little site, overlooking Table Mountain.
Crickhowell is a cracking little village, we really enjoyed our time there. It’s everso pretty, if you are ever heading that way you should be sure to pop for a look around. We enjoyed a walk up to the top of Table Mountain and the views were brill!
The next day, we nursed our sore legs (!) and set off towards Brecon. We were treated to a lovely autumnal day, the colours on the trees were amazing..
In Brecon we visited the cathedral, which was stunning and enjoyed an afternoon of looking around the shops. We then carried on to our site at Aberfran. The site was lovely – all talk focused on where we were eating that night as Keefy had booked a table at a local restaurant http://www.felinfachgriffin.co.uk/.
We enjoyed birthday gin and tonics in Dad’s van and then waited for our taxi to arrive. Our meal that night was absolutely the bees knees!!! It was totally yummy- by far the best meal I’ve ever eaten! So if you’re ever nearby GO, GO GO!
The next day Dad and Jen had to head back to work, so we stayed another night in Aberfran and set out on a little wander round the local area. Our little wander turned into an 11 mile hike (never let Keefy in charge of that again – we didn’t even take any water!!!) but the scenery around that part of the world is truly stunning so it was a pleasure to explore it (I can say that now- at the time, I’m not going to lie, tempers may have got a little frayed in the dehydration of it all, and the ” Its just over that next brow of the hill…” speeches got a little wary after the 20th hill!!)
Next stop following our stay in Aberfran was Pen Y Fan, the highest peak in the beacons, and we were booked onto the site at the National Showcaves of Wales for the remainder of our week. The walk up Pen Y Fan was HARD!!! BUT, we both LOVED IT! Unfortunately it was a pea souper at the top, so we didn’t get to see the view, but we were treated to some snapshots half way down. I absolutely loved it – I can’t believe I’m saying it! I think Keefy struggled at one point, just before the last haul, and I think he found the true meaning of the Kit Kat mantra “Have a break, have a kit kat” as he gobbled his kitkat down in record time and then shot up the mountain quicker that billy goat gruff.
After a well deserved cuppa in Daisy at the bottom, and a reflection on what we had achieved as the cloud cover broke, we head off to the Showcaves site. I have to say the showers on that site were great, and although we wouldn’t usually stay somewhere like that it was just what we needed at that point in the week, especially as Daisy’s water system had decided to give up the ghost. We also enjoyed our visit to the caves, they were fab. A must if you are ever in that neck of the woods.
All in all, a fab week in Wales, we will definitely return, and attempt Pen Y Fan once more but hopefully so we can enjoy the view next time! 🙂
We set ourselves a challenge. How much of France could we see in 2 weeks. The answer: just under 2000 miles worth!
Have a look at our map- I think we did a rather good job, don’t you?!
I’m going to try and do this methodologically: Here goes…..
Day 1- Calais – Champagne Region. Stayed at a France Passion site- CHAMPAGNE COUVENT-PARENT
Fab journey down and a very exciting experience pulling up onto our first official France Passion site. We didn’t really know what to expect, we just knew we had to say hello. I set about in my best french, and managed to get us some water and a pitch. I was quite impressed with myself. We also managed to establish that they made their champagne in their back garden and we could meet “monsieur” for a tasting at 6pm. It was so exciting. At 6pm the man knocked at Daisy’s door and off we went. He spoke a little english, and I attempted some french. Between us we coped and before we knew it we had done a tour of the factory and were sat with his family in his tasting celler trying out all the champagne. MAN IT TASTED GOOD. REALLY GOOD!!! We bought a few bottles, at a bargain price of 10 euros each. Keefy reckoned it was better than the stuff he had had in Claridges back in his old life. I thought it was the bees knees. Monsieur picked us some fresh figs off his fig tree to take on our onward journey, we slept like a log and it was an absolutely perfect start to our adventure.
Day 2- Champagne region to Dijon.
We stopped at another French Passion site somewhere near Dijon. I was absolutely hanging from the champagne tasting but it didnt stop us pulling up at another vineyard. It was LASHING down with rain, so we thought the best place to hide was the tasting cellar…. hehe. Hair of the dog and all that. My goodness, the wine was to die for. We purchased a few bottles at the bargain price of 4 euros each I think. Absolutely yum tastic!! There was a massive storm that night and we watched an English family attempting to slide there way onto the field at about 10pm. They had done the journey from Dover to there in one. The looked KNACKERED poor things. They were even crazier than us!
Day 3- Down South…..
To cut a long story short. This was the BEST DAY EVER. The reason is because we missed the turn off on the motorway in the pouring rain. Yes you read that right. We may have had a light disagreement as to who#s fault it was that we missed the junction.. but this soon was forgotten when we saw, on the map, a place called CHATEAUNEUF -DU PAPE. It was only the name of our absolutely FAVOURITE red wine int he whole wide world!!! A quick Wiki later and we realised it was indeed THE place, and not only that there was a France Passion site on one of the vineyards. ABSOLUTELY WITHOUT FAIL THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD!!!! I cannot convey how totally awesome staying there was…..
As soon as we turned off at Chat.. du pape.. the temperate and climate totally changed. Up until then it had been chilly and wet. Suddenly it felt like the med. It was hot and dry and there was that cricket sound you only hear when you are abroad. It was fab.
We moved onto Cap D’Adge for a few days on a site soaking up the rays and the sea. It was nice to just stop for a few days and chill. As you are probably working out from our posts, we don’t do that very often at all!!
We had some surprise visitors on the middle night.. my dad and Jenny who were also in France but further north and not having much luck with the weather rang to ask if we fancied going for a bite to eat that night. They drove an entire DAY down south for a lovely meal by the harbour, and then drove back oop north the next day. It was lovely!
Cap D’adge to Carcassonne
We had read about a French Aire in the heart of Carcassonne, and had decided to give it a go. I’m so glad we did. It was brilliant. I think it was 5 euros for the night and was 5 mins walk to the centre. What a magical place it was. We had a fabulous day exploring the streets, and chilling in the bars. Gosh, I love France.
Carcassone to Sarlat
We headed north to the Dordogne and had a great night on a Duck Pate Farm. It was on the banks of the Dordogne, had its own private beach so you could swim in the river and was fantastic. Sarlat is just wonderful- I’ve been there many times on tour and it was every bit as good as I had remembered. The weather was really hot, and it was just amazing!
Sarlat to La Rochelle (via La Rocque- Gageac)
We had a fab time exploring La Rocque- Gageac and were itching to get on the river canoeing, but alas we didn’t really have enough time so settled for a quick cold beer and a wander and vowed to go back someday!
La Rochelle was a lovely town. Unfortunately the weather turned at this point, but we still enjoyed wandering the town, old and new.
La Rochelle to Amboise
I had been here before, and knew that Keefy would enjoy the pretty little town, with a fairytale castle and the home of Leonardo da Vinci. We stayed on a rather random vineyard that produced great wine but was fairly new, and a bit of a walk to the town centre. Couldn’t complain though. We had more than got our moneys worth staying at France Passion sites so far on our trip!
Amboise to Versailles
Versailles had been on Keith’s bucket list for ages, and he was desperate to go, so we defied everyone’s advice and hit PARIS in Daisy… gulp. We made it, but surprisingly, despite France being a very motorhome friendly country, and Versailles being the most famous tourist attraction in the country, motorhomes were not allowed any where near!!
Thankfully we found a helpful soul who directed us to a campsite nearby and we pitched up within walking distance.. no thanks to the staff at Versailles..
We then queued for about 2 hours to get in! Bless Keith, he was like a kid at Christmas, couldn’t wait to get through those gates! We enjoyed a full day there exploring, my goodness it was so busy!!! Very impressive hall of mirrors and lots of very expensive painting and decor. I have to be honest. It wasn’t my cup of tea. I found it all a bit TOO MUCH! Too indulgent. Too fancy. Too chintzy. TOO BUSY! But Keith, loved it. And I was so happy to share that with him!
We had THE MOST AMAZING trip!! We fit in so much, we covered so many miles and we spent a fortune because we were driving a petrol motorhome……. but it worth every penny and I think we can both truly say we have the best memories. Chat… pape was obviously a highlight, mainly because we hadn’t planned it. Carcassonne was a treat, and so was Versaille for Keith. Swimming in the Dordogne will be a lasting memory, as will sitting out til 1am watching the clear skies and shooting stars in the Dordogne
Above all this trip highlighted the reason why we own a motorhome. We love the freedom it gives us and wouldn’t change it for the world! Can’t wait to go back! 🙂
After numourous weekend jollies ere there and everywhere, we set about planning our Twixmas Break (Twixmas is the period in between Xmas and New Year, doncha know). Keith, being a “blaaaady saaaatherner” hadn’t explored much of Northern England before, so we decided to head to Derbyshire/North Yorks.
We set off on our travels a couple of days after Christmas, stopping again for an Ali BaBa’s with Krystle in Cov (well it’d be rude not to, and she needed a hand moving some furniture into her new house)
Our itinery was to go to Bakewell, home of the glorious tarts, then hook up with Dad and Jenny and their friends Simon, Emma and Selina for a night on a CL somewhere close by. We would then move onto a
different site near Goredale for NYE (we wanted a site where we could definitely have a TV signal to watch Jools Holland’s Hootenany! and this one promised on it’s website a tv aerial on each hook up) We then traveled onto a farm site somewhere near Malham (I love that place) and visited Malham and Asgarth, before finishing up near Wensleydale.
We had a lovely break, but would be lying if we said we didn’t encounter any problems at all…..
Firstly- pre setting off, the problem with taking a motorhome to Northern England in the middle of winter is that its a bit of a lottery with the weather. We prefer to stay on the small sites (Caravan and Camping Club certified sites only take 5 vans, generally only offer minimal services such as a water tap and a loo dump, sometimes some toilets or a shower, but definately no club houses and all for under a tenner usually..) As such, you tend to find that the sites tend to not want to commit to booking which is fair enough, as you really run the risk of being snowed in at the time of year. Therefore, we found ourselves a little up in the air about whether we would even get up there or not, and whether we would get on a site or not.
Secondly- on our first night we had rather a major leak in the bathroom! We ended up looking all our water from our tank and being stuck in a field not really sure what was happening. My mentality allows me to just think “Oh well, we will sort it in the morning..”. Keith’s mentality doesn’t allow him that luxury. Cue us packing up Daisy, to move it to the farmhouse courtyard (we were in a seperate field) in the pitch black, freezing cold, Keith having to borrow a tool from the farmer to take off all of the paneling in the bathroom to look at the pipes, do something to the pipes, reattach the paneling, re fill with water (the only tap in the field had frozen so we were instructed to use the tap in the cow shed), move back to the camping field, get all our stuff out again. To be fair to Keith and his “I must do this right now” attidude, we were both able to have a nice hot shower that night. Unfortunately during his morning shower the same thing happened again. So off we trotted to Matlock Bath to find his own tools, (number one
rule in a motorhome- don’t go anywhere without tools, you will need them!)
Matlock Bath- I love this place, I used to go regularly with Mum, Dad, Grandad, anyone who would take me really. I can’t tell you how often I have told Keith, we must go to Matlock Bath, you’d love it! So the compromise went like this.. Keith would buy his tools in Matlock Bath and whilst we were there we could explore. Luck didn’t want to be our side that day, clearly. We arrived in the most dense fog I’ve ever seen. You couldn’t see a bean. We went to Sainsburys to get the tools in the hope the fog would lift. When we came out we were planning on moving the van elsewhere so we could explore. Went to start the van. Nothing, nada, zilch, not a bean. We called the AA and were told they would be with us in an hour. We waited an hour. Nothing. Waited another hour. Nothing. Rang AA. Oh sorry Miss P we can’t get anyone to you within 8 HOURS! 8 HOURS!!!!! Bearing in mind we were very close to the M1 and even if they sent someone from London they could be here quicker than that. No Miss P, sorry, just the way it is. Ok. So we had a beer in Daisy (one advantage to a motorhome), Keith fixed his leak once and for all. And then an AA van turned up. He started looking at Daisy and couldn’t work it out. Next thing, another AA van turns up. The two mechanics were rather surprised to see each other there. The second guy straight away asks if we have a fuel pump switch on Daisy. We have no idea, naturally! He spends a minute inside the cab, and next thing Daisy fires up like a dream. Turns out there is this little switch by the leg of the driver. This controls the fuel going into the pump. It’d been switched off accidently as I got out of the drivers seat! The thing about motorhoming is you tend to learn something new every day!
By now, it was pitch black, pea soup foggy, we were tired, hungry and fed up. Back to the campsite, a nice hot shower and a glass of vino, and the world was ok again. But Keith still hasn’t seen Matlock Bath. We must go back!
After this incident, thankfully the rest of the trip went by without hitch. We had a lovely time, we ate well, we drank well, we slept well. All was great until we turned up at our campsite for NYE and found it to be a rather odd place. Too many statics for our liking, and then the guy parked us up in the car park. There was no TV signal, even though it was promised, so we couldn’t watch Jools. We did get electric eventually though, so we spent NYE watching back to back Sex in the City (I am so lucky, K not only tolerates the girly chick flicks, he actually enjoys them!)
DoveDale Stepping Stones
Malham Tarn, Mallam Cove. Awesome. Old Peculiar, Log fire- couldn’t have spent a few hours in the pub in Malham!
Asgarth Falls. Famous for the scene in Robin Hood where Kevin Costner has that sword fight in the water trying to cross to Nottingham- despite the dodgy accent