Feb Half term- last day in the Cotswolds

There were two villages on our list of places we hadn’t visited yet – Stow on the Wold and Bourton on the water. We got up bright and early – well 9 am, skipped breakfast and headed towards Stow, where we decided to enjoy breakfast and had a wander. It’s another lovely town- the stone they use in the buildings here is so pretty! Stow on Wold is full of tea rooms, antiques shops and posh hotels, and during our hour or so here I spotted at least 3 ladies in full length fur coats and posh hats. Needless to say, I felt rather underdressed in my mud laden walking trousers and campers hair do, but never mind! 🙂

After a wander round, we decided that we’d have a late breakfast in Bluebell and hit the road 5 miles or so to head to Bourton on the water. I had a walk lined up, and we were keen to explore the village later in the afternoon, as the guidebooks seemed to suggest this was the quieter and more atmospheric time to visit.

Bourton is very motorhome friendly, the main car park has a seperate zone specially for motorhomes, and there are signs everywhere saying you can park and sleep overnight. We were pleased as we wanted to stay there overnight but both campsite were shut! On closer investigation the charges for the car park were astronomical!! And very confusing. If you parked in the special motorhome bays, you were charged a pound an hour or so more than the other bays. It should basically have cost us £13.50 to park from 1200 to 1800 then another £8 for overnight 1800-0900. Whilst we both agreed we would pay these charges this time as it meant we could park and relax, we did think it was slightly greedy- there were no facilities at all there and £21.50 is an awful lot to pay to park!! Anyway good on you Cotswolds council for taking the step, but we feel it just needs a bit of realistic refining price wise.

We enjoyed our walk and loved Bourton on Water- it’s dubbed as the Venice of the Cotswolds and you can see why. It’s so pretty!!

After we had thoroughly explored the area we were trying to find a cosy pub with a roaring fire, similar to those we had enjoyed earlier in the week. Unfortunately Bourton seems to have more tea rooms than pubs, and the one that we found, the Kingsbridge, although very friendly, felt more like drinking in a wetherspoons than a rural retreat, so after a quick drink we headed back to Bluebell. By this time it was coming up to 5pm and conversation started to turn to plans for the evening. Our options were to pay the extra £8 to stay overnight and chill in the van or to hit the road back to Norfolk, as we were due to leave tomorrow morning early anyway. We decided given the weather was very cold, we would prefer to get going and then enjoy a lay in Sunday morning in Norfolk rather than sit in a car park for £8 and have to get up at 7 to drive home. So we had a quick bite to eat, packed up and hit the road. 3 1/2 hours later we arrived back home with lovely memories of our time in the Cotswolds. We loved every second and will definitely return soon.

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Night 3- feb half term, Chipping Campden

We had a lovely lie in this morning- we didn’t wake up until 9:30! All this fresh air and walking is giving us both a healthy glow that’s for sure!

We awoke to a frozen water tank again today- but had left taps open all night and the tank off so hopefully we averted any damage! We had arranged to meet Krystle in the car park at Chipping Campden at 11 and so after a quick breakfast we hit the road. It was a short drive to get there and soon found Krystle and Flashy. We decided to have a quick cuppa before we begin, but due to our frozen tank, we found a lovely little dog friendly coffee shop on the high street which had the most amazing selection of cakes. Somehow we managed to resist the cakes for now and settled with a quick coffee/tea. We were soon on our way- we had opted for a 5 mile walk up to the summit of Dover hill viewpoint. During the walk we tried Jazz off lead for the first time! I was a bit scared, but I didn’t need to be. He loved every second and never strayed further than eyesight from us, always coming back to check where we were!

The countryside here is beautiful. Rolling hills with chocolate box villages dotted around. Everyone we’ve met so far have been so friendly, and the pubs and tea shops have been dog friendly, most offering free boneos for our four legged friends.

After another stunning walk, we headed back to the village to find a pub for lunch. We stumbled across The Red Lion, a gorgeous Olde world time capsule with a fab log fire that we enjoyed relaxing in front of! Keith was particularly enjoying the Olde Trip ale that was on tap! After some delicious baguettes and homemade chips we couldn’t resist but to head back to the coffee shop at The Noel Arms we had been to this morning to sample some of their sweet treats!! So we wandered down and settled ourselves in front of another log fire, with the dogs flat out at our feet and enjoyed a cream tea. It was terribly refined, and utterly irresistible. Krystle and I mused over how far we had come from our lambrini drinking Uni days!!

Keith and I decided we would like go try and find a site closer to a Chipping Campden rather than trek back to Winchcombe where we had intended to stay. A quick look in the camping and caravanning club book and a couple of phone calls later and we had found a site 2 miles away for a mere ten pounds. We bid our farewells to lovely Krystle and Flash and hit the highway to find our site. We are pitched up on the very friendly Greystones Farm. Unfortunately we had a slight “stuck in the mud” incident but friendly farmer Rob came to our rescue in his traccccor and we were soon settled with the heating on full and a beer in our hand. All this fresh air is making us everso tired so I imagine an early night is in order. We don’t actually have any plans tomorrow- so we will see where we end up!!

Until next time

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Night 2 – Broadway, Cotswolds

I’m writing this from the same campsite that we stayed at last night, Pinnock Wood Farm just outside of Winchcombe. We had such a lovely evening here last night that we decided to stay again tonight- at £14 a night for a pitch with electric, it’s worth every penny in this weather! It’s glorious during the day, but bitterly cold. It’s so cold that when we woke this morning we had no water as we had frozen!!

Luckily for us, we thawed by lunchtime and with no signs of damage. But our original plan of wildcamping in Broadway tonight seemed less appealing with the forcast saying it could reach -5 tonight, we opted for the electric fan heater option!

We had a great day in Broadway today- it was difficult not to keep breaking out in song and dance seeing as we were in Broadway! A totally different experience to being on Broadway, USA I’m sure, but still, we enjoyed our day there. It was a nice treat for Keith when we arrived- the first thing we saw was a Thomas Kinkade gallery- Keith is a massive Kinkade fan, so he had a browse whilst I waited outside with Jazz. When it was my turn to nip in, the observant gallery manager insisted we bought Jazz in- she was a big dog lover and was happy to welcome four legged friends into her gallery.

Krystle, Patrick and Flash arrived shortly after and we set about a walk up to see Broadway tower. It felt quite a slog on the way up, but the views were fabulous and once we got to the top we were rewarded with views for miles. The tower was an interesting building, and we all agreed we could happily live there!

We had a brisk walk back down to the village- the prospect of a late pub lunch and a pint certainly helped! We found a gorgeous little pub called The Swan, and were welcomed in like long lost friends. The menu was mouth watering! Keith and I both had BBQ pork ciabatta with home made chips and it really hit the spot!!

So here we are, back at the campsite and chilled to the max. Krystle is coming back to walk with us tomorrow- the joy of having friends who are also teachers and sharing the same holidays as us. Tomorrow we are heading towards Chipping Campden 🙂

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If you are planning on visiting the area check out visit Broadway

Catching up with blogs….

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.

Here goes….

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

Interesting moment…..
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!!

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Weekend at end of June with Dad and Jenny- Norfolk Broads motor homing and a boat!

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First night away of 2013.. Cley Next to Sea

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Well after what has seemed a ridiculously long, depressing winter, we FINALLY got the chance to nip Bluebell out this weekend for a night away. We had been recommended this site as a perfect retreat for the night, and so back in January we got it in the diary and got the count down underway!

We invited our friends Tracy and Andy and their dog Murphy to join us in their motorhome, Dolly.

We couldn’t believe our luck when on Saturday we awoke to a glorious blue sky and sunshine- despite the weather intimating all week it was going to be wet and dismal! It just goes to show, you should always stick to your guns when it comes to the weather and holidaying in Britain!!

Despite a slightly stressful start- we needed to Jump start Bluebell, once at home and then once more 20 miles down the road after we had stopped for fuel. Amazingly we were rescued by the Shell petrol station manager in his MOTORHOME!! What are the chances eh?! Anyway, thanks to him and some jump leads we had inherited we were soon our way, albeit a little worried about the state of Bluebell’s battery, but nethertheless, nothing was going to dampen our weekend.

We arrived to the fab little site around 3 ish and were shortly followed by our friends. Quick beer and a ham butty later and we were ready to investigate the local surroundings. We made it as far as the pub a 10 min walk,and decided we definitely all deserved a quick drink! 3 hours later, we stumbled out, back up to the campsite, a bit wobbly and had a lovely chill in our van. Before I carry on, I must tell you a little story about what happened whilst in the pub.. We were sat minding our own business, putting the world to rights with Murphey and Jazz happily munching their rawhide under the table. Somehow- I managed to get my finger trapped in Jazz’s collar and he managed to get tangled with Murphey’s lead. A bit of a commotion followed, with the dogs howling and the pub being silenced. The next thing we know, the pub cat, a rather large ginger fluffball, called “Asbo”, wandered very cooly over to the our table- lifted his front law and punched both Jazz and Murphey on the side of their heads, then walked off! Very very funny!

Back to our stumble back up to the campsite – we cooked a spag Bol in our van, got into our p.js, drank an awful lot of red plonk and had a flipping lovely night. To say we were slightly merry doesn’t come close- poor Andy achieved the most spectacular exit of Bluebell we have ever witnessed- he literally fell straight out off the van and ended up in a heap, breaking his watch in the process. It was funny, sorry Andy!!

Next morning, after a blissfully quiet nights sleep and unbelievably escaping a hangover (get in) we enjoyed a big full English brekkie in Tracy and Andy’s van and then headed down to the beach for a walk to blow away the cobwebs

You can tell it was a boozy night, first time ever where I haven’t taken at least one pic!

Here are some pics of our walk – does anyone know what the bird is?

Until next time….

Lydia x

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August 2011- a time for mini breaks

We found ourselves with nothing much to do over August other than some wedding gigs here and there so we were really able to hit the road on short little mini breaks. We both really enjoy mini breaks in the motorhome, we find we really come down and relax! Here’s a selection of pics from our jollies during August! We enjoyed using the time to meet up with friends across the country too!

Framlingham, Suffolk

Orford, Suffolk

Colchester,Essex and Flatford Mill

Norfolk Broads with my mate Krystle and Flash the dog!

Twixmas 2010/11 – Derbyshire and North Yorkshire

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!)

Highlights:

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

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The problem of eating garlic the night before going on long journey.. October Half Term – 2010 – Snowdonia, Wales

So, we had survived our first motorhoming adventure, and were well and truly hooked. As soon as we got home from Bonny Scotland we couldn’t wait to start planning our next adventure. We drew up a list of all the places that excited us, and after much deliberation, we decided to book a week in the Snowdonia area of Wales for our next jaunt, during the October Half Term. As my birthday falls within that week, and I had never been to Wales, we planned to take the train up to the top of Snowdon on the day of my birthday. I was highly excited about this!!

On our way to Wales we had an overnight stop in Coventry, to see my good friend Krystle for a catch up/ Ali BaBa’s (Ali BaBa’s is a LEDGENDARY curry house in the Cov – absolutely AWESOME). Now, just to deviate from the motorhoming here, whenever I go to Ali B’s (or any curry house, come to think of it), I just cannot help myself – I have the same three things : Garlic Chicken Balti, Garlic Rice, and Garlic Naan (AKA the unholy trinity). Keith decided to try out (or copy!) my recommendation that night too, so we both had the unholy trinity. We didn’t stay in Daisy that night, we kipped at K’s house so the next morning when we set off on our merry way, we were fed, watered and excited to hit the road towards Conwy Castle. Because we had both had the UT we were blissfully aware that actually we both were oozing garlic from every pore known to man. We stopped for petrol along the way, and this was where I encountered one of my most embarrasing moments I’ve ever had. I went in to pay for the fuel and the conversation went like this:

Lady behind counter- Good night last night?

Me- Erm, yes thanks…. (slightly wondering where she is going with this one)

Lady- Would you like some mints?

Me- erm, no thanks, I’m good with just the petrol…

Lady- Are you sure?

Me- Yeeeees thanks…..

Lady- I really recommend the mints dear,

Me- Erm,can I ask why?

Lady- Well, I don’t mean to be rude, but as soon as you walked in, all I could smell was garlic.

Me (Highly embarrassed by this point) – OH! Well, I did have some garlic last night…

Lady- I’m surprised your other half didn’t smell it…

Me – Well he had the same…

Lady- Crikey… I would hate to smell the inside of your van then love!

By this stage I was absolutely mortified and all I could do was quickly take my card off her and run out!

I suppose the moral of this should be something like don’t over do the ol’ garlic, especially when camping, blah blah blah. Have we changed our ways? No, of course not. Just can’t get enough of the triple garlic. Yum.

Anyway back to our hols. We had a fab time visiting all the different areas and were treated to some lovely weather. Our itinery was as follows:

Conwy, Snowdon (Llanberis), Llandudno, Betws-y-Coed, Cae Du (South of Barmouth)Beddgelert, Shrewsbury

Highlights were:

1) Getting to hold a Bird of Prey at Conwy Castle

2) Going up Snowdon on my birthday was wicked. We were SO LUCKY with the weather as you can see in the slideshow at the bottom of the page…

3) Watching the Sunset at Cae Du Campsite. If you ever are in that neck of the woods, you should definitely visit: http://coolcamping.co.uk/campsites/uk/wales/snowdonia/gwynedd/cae-du.

Note the Cae Du that we stayed at was the one at Gwynned, not Beddgelbert. The night we stayed, we were treated to a rather large storm that lasted the whole night! We were still fairly inexperienced with pitching up, and we chose the worst place to park for the night (not for the view though, that was spectacular). I can honestly say that I did not sleep a wink – I properly thought we were ending up in the sea, I kept checking the handbrake every 10 minutes, and the turbulence (is that even the right word?!) well- it was insane. But- would we do it it again… without a doubt, yes. The view was just unbelievable and worth the lack of sleep, and we managed to escape being towed off the site, unlike our neighbours….!

A few photos..

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