So long 2017 don’t let the door hit you ….

I know I’ve not blogged for a little while, apologies! Then again we’ve not done much caravanning either which is terrible.

So a quick run down of what we got up to this year. We started this blog, our Twitter account and YouTube. We have over 500 Twitter followers, thank you all soooo much for reading my drivel.

We’ve met up with new people, many of them are now old friends. We spent 6 weeks away in the caravan over the year, yippee! Mainly on CAMC CL’s but 2 weeks on the club site at Pembrey, a weekend at Cirencester and a week on a CCC site in York.

We applied for and received our first press passes for the Motorhome and caravan show at the NEC in October and spent a fair few hours over 3 days traipsing around wondering what people wanted to hear about. We did a live video from there too.

On the downside where do I start, we lost Rob’s lovely Dad to cancer just 3 weeks after being diagnosed, it was a difficult time. I lost my clinical job due to my back problems and have had to go back to an office job which is a job and that’s about all I can say! December, again difficult, another family member has been diagnosed with cancer for which there will be no treatment as such and Rob was made redundant 2 weeks before Christmas.

So, we’re glad to see the back of the last few months of this year.

Wishing you all the very best for 2018, I wish you all health and happiness and if there’s room for another request then I hope you’re all financially stable or even multi millionaire lottery winners!

At the very least many happy nights away in your caravan/motorhome/camper/tent/add any other form here!

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Cirencester, friends and new to us awning!

Well hello, we are back from sunny Cirencester where we spent a wonderful 4 days. The drive down was uneventful apart from the usual chaos at the M6/M5 turn off and the road works around that area. Also as usual, unfortunately, were the people passing us on the motorway with their caravans in tow with no towing mirrors and travelling at speeds well exceeding the 60mph limit. I must say that this drives me insane and I do wonder why people feel that the law and speed limits do not apply to them!

Anyway, regardless, we planned on having a great break and we did.

We have a couple of awnings a Kampa Rally Pro 390 + annexe and a Vango Braemar air awning which is a tiny 150cm in width but is ideal for weekends especially in Winter, it’s more than big enough to take off wet shoes, coats and dry the dogs off. However, neither was ‘just right’ or flexible enough so that we could have jut 1 awning.

I digress, last weekend we managed to get our hands on an elusive Westfield Rollaway 400. Having spoken to Westfield at the NEC earlier in the month, they don’t appear to be making these anymore as they had problems with some kind of manufacturing fault on later batches and the manufacturers don’t appear to be able to fix it, which is a shame as they’re a really flexible awning. The eagle eyed amongst you may also know of another family that have this awning.

So this was the first try of the new to us awning. Our only concern was that our awning rail isn’t straight at the front, but it worked fine. We’re not daunted by awnings, we don’t argue and it doesn’t give us any cause for divorce, thankfully! The roof goes up first and can be used as a standalone canopy for those long, warm summer days, or as a quick get the canopy up before we get drenched kind of days. You can then add the front, which is split into 4 pieces and the sides.

Now this is the clever bit you can have a large canopy with no sides, a 3/4 canopy and a 1m storage awning or a 1/2 canopy and a 2m awning or bedroom, a 3/4 awning and a 1m canopy or the full 4m awning. As it was October and we wanted to try the whole thing we opted for the last option and it went up pretty well. We were on a bit of a slope and it still managed to look pretty good. The roof material appears to be PVC so no worries about drying that off if it’s raining and as the front splits down to 1m sections it wouldn’t be a problem drying it out at home, no unwieldy 4m sections to fight with.

As they’re not going to be making these in the foreseeable future I’m going to tinker with making my own roof lining as it did have a tendency to produce condensation. Keep an eye out for that in the future, the back I can use Velcro to attach it as it already has Velcro tabs in situ, the front doesn’t so I need to have a ponder.

Will this be the awning that manages to suit us whatever the situation or weather? We’re not 💯% sure but it’s looking good so far. Would we recommend it, off the back of its first outing, yes. Look out for them on local selling sites.

Thank you to Dan, Angela and Chloe, Deb and Steve, Iain, Zoe, Grace and Lulu, Ian, Tracy and family, Andy, Kate and family, for a wonderful weekend full of laughs and gorgeous weather.

I managed to capture the last sunset of British Summer time 2017 which was reflected in the side of Sydney, absolutely stunning.

Also thank you to the Motorway Gods who managed a delay free trip home, on the M5/M6 again no less, we were highly delighted with a stress free return trip.

Summer 2017 – Pembrey

Firstly I’d like to apologise for the lack of updates, life unfortunately throws things at us that we have to deal with.

Now let’s get back to some caravan blogging and our summer holiday which seems so long ago now.  Last week in June and first week of July were spent at Pembrey Country Park, Caravan and Motorhome Club site.  This is our favourite site and you may have heard us mention it previously.

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Almost ready for the off just before 07:00 on a Saturday morning.

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All set up on pitch 47 this time. Time for coffee!

Why do we love it?  Mainly for its location.  Within a short walk you’re on the stunning Cefn Sidan beach, 8 miles of golden sands, backed by sand dunes and with views over the Gower peninsula.  With the addition of over 5 acres of country park to also explore, for us it’s what holidays are made of.

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Within the Country park there’s a Ski centre, stables, miniature railway, miniature golf course, cafes, a blue flag beach and 2 dog accessible beaches.  When the tide is out I always feel as if you could just walk across to the Gower peninsular although with the areas treacherous tides and the fact that there is still a channel of water between you it’s not possible nor advisable.  The tides move swiftly here and it pays to keep an eye on the times of high and low water.  It is however possible to walk along the beach to Burry Port which we have done in the past, if you don’t fancy a beach walk the Wales Coastal Path also runs through the Country park.

There’s something about the sea that gives me back a sense of perspective, how unimportant things in life really are, how insignificant we are in the scheme of things.  All those little dramas that surround us in our lives, work, the commute, the timetables we abide by, are all washed away by the rolling waves and all that’s really important is the rise and set of the sun and who we choose to spend our time with.  The world will continue to turn, the tides will continue to ebb and flo, the sun will rise and set, regardless of how many hours we spend working.  Everyone of us has probably got that one place that is special to us, I can’t exactly explain why this is mine, but it’s the overwhelming feeling of peace it gives me.

I continue to be plagued with my back and this meant that we didn’t get to walk as far or as frequently as we have in previous years.  In fact, we only managed one walk to the beach this year and no walks along the coastal path at all.  We had some amazing weather again this year as well and although that’s fantastic if you’re happy to sit in the sun it’s not so great for walking the dogs.  A few short trips out to the shops of course are unavoidable, but Jack & Jess are well catered for with gel cool mats and USB fans in the car.  There’s a Co-Op in Burry Port and wherever possible in previous years we have tended to walk along the coastal path and back to pick up the odd bits we need.  There is also a new convenience store on the main road towards Llanelli which boasts a butchery counter, bakery and cash machine.

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Burry Port with the Gower in the background.

There was of course the craft vodka “bar” conveniently situated in the awning.  This of course we blame entirely on Dan T following our outing to Bracelands a few weeks previously.

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Sour cherry and apple or drumsticks blend?

As an alternative to the CAMC, Pembrey Country Park also has a campsite of it’s own which is in the park itself, you can see the details here.

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Fieldhead Farm CL, CAMC

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Before you start reading please excuse the lack of correct linkage!  I’m having some issues with WordPress and it won’t insert links so I’ve had to paste them instead. I’ll fix it as soon as I can.

It’s been a little while since we last visited this lovely certificated location nestled behind JCB Headquarters near Rocester.  I think the last time was 3 years ago and for the life of me, I can’t think why we haven’t been back before.  I think the main thing for us is the narrow lanes around the site which means that we can’t easily walk the dogs without taking the car out, however, the drive is plenty long enough for a stroll and there are many areas a short drive away if a longer walk is needed.

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Each pitch is a large hard standing which are separated by a raised grassed bank.  Poor Sydney looks swamped here!  Our car was parked the other side leaving plenty of room to put up the table and chairs outside if needed.  The owners Anna and Michael are wonderful, even when you’ve forgotten to pick up the cash to pay for your stay from home!  Needless to say we rectified that the next morning.  Rectifying the error wasn’t as easy as it should be as my bank cards little black strips don’t work.  If a cash machine is reading the chip there’s not a problem, however most read the strip and mine continually fail to work.  After visiting 3 cash machines I gave up, went to Asda, bought shopping I didn’t really need and got cashback.  Where there’s a will there’s a way.  I did get a bargain pair of trousers in the sale though.

At the top left of the site there’s an innocuous little green shed that should be renamed TARDIS.  Inside you will find maps, books, the odd DVD and a wealth of other goodies to enhance your stay.  Behind the shed is the CDP. From here a WiFi signal is also transmitted, if you need a stronger signal I would recommend the pitches at the top of the site unless you have a WiFi booster (take a look at the Solwise booster reviewed by LegsDown here https://goo.gl/ybbxIV) the password is provided when you check in.

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At the top right of the site is the old dairy.  Just in front are the bins, water point and a small herb garden which you are free to make use of!  Inside you’ll find an emergency shelf all that’s asked is that you replace the items if you need them.  There’s also a washing machine (an honesty box for its use), iron, ironing board, table and chairs and you will also find free range eggs for sale and a freezer full of local ice cream, honesty boxes are provided for both.  There’s also a recently added toilet and sink.

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From here you’re on the doorstep of the A50 within easy reach of the Peak District, Alton Towers, Burton upon Trent, Stoke on Trent, and of course JCB Headquarters which I’ll share in a later blog.

I can’t recommend this little peaceful site enough really, a stunning view out of the window and peace and quiet.  Relaxation at its best.  There’s also an added bonus of a loyalty card, if you stay you get your card stamped and it adds up to a free night.  You can’t ask for more.  Check out their Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/FieldheadFarmCL/

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A week in Yorkshire…Part 5 (the finale)

Time goes so fast when you’re away, a week at work takes forever and yet the same time or more goes by in a blink of an eye once you’re relaxed and enjoying a much simpler life.

Friday we purchased the iFootpath app (courtesy of Google Rewards for which I have over £20.00 credit, £77.91 earned in total since I installed) and asked it to show us easy walks in the area.  It showed us a walk in Terrington, 3 miles long, only one boot which meant it was fairly level and an easy walk.  My back is shot, and it’s been playing up this week so 3 miles on the level seemed an ok thing to do.  Off we went, parked up in the village and headed off on the walk.

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Foraged wild garlic

It follows a very quiet lane which passes the church, and a farm or two.  The sun was shining and J+J had plenty of time to mooch in the hedges as we ambled along.  I spotted two plentiful patches of wild garlic and foraged a few leaves and a couple of flowers on our way back.  I really need an app to help me identify more things to forage, I can do wild garlic, the usual blackberries, Elderflower etc, but I know there are far more things we could try.  If anyone knows of a good one, please let me know!  When I spent many a weekend in the Peak District with my Grandparents as a child, there was always something to pick, mushrooms, wild herbs, even branches which my Grandad made into walking sticks for everyone.

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The peace, quiet and ease of the walk was a balm to the soul and it makes you realise how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful country.  We have seasons, we can listen to rain on the DSCN0451roof, marvel at the sparkly newness of snow fall, bask in the sunshine (we have far more than most people generally like to think), and watch the countryside bloom during the Spring.  Those of us clever and cool enough to tent/caravan/motorhome open up the areas we can explore, enabling us to peek at and explore places that others will never even think of visiting, whether you travel far and wide or stay closer to home.

Off to Malton (which was a traffic nightmare) and a trip to Morrison’s to re-stock the fridge, we’re not sure when we’re meeting up with people and if a BBQ will be required, sneaked in a hot snack from the food counter, then back to Sydney.  We have new neighbours who are struggling with their awning, which they described as divorce in a bag, we find this a funny saying as it seems we have a knack with awnings, so we do the right thing and help out.  A few minutes later and all they need to do is peg the outside out, tada!  If you’re ever in need on a site we’re on give us a shout, we don’t mind at all.

Dinner tonight, Pork fillet cooked in wild garlic and butter with a plentiful plate of veg and new potatoes.  It’s the penultimate night and a tinge of sadness starts to sneak in at the edges.

Saturday means a run down to Beverley to meet up with my friends, Michelle and Sean, that I haven’t seen for around 17 years!  It was lovely to see them and we even managed a very quick detour into Beverley and a quick look around Boyes to purchase dog treats, I could spend hours in there, ah the nostalgia.  Beverley has grown up a lot since I lived there but luckily I was just about able to navigate our way around.  It’s well worth a visit if you’re that way.

Back up to Monk’s Cross to fill up the car with diesel at Asda, then to meet Rob’s friend Paul and his wife Tracy, he hasn’t seen Paul for around 10 years so it really was a memories kind of day.

Saturday night and I still want fish and chips, the C&CC sites book says there’s a fish and chip van that visits on a Saturday night, but alas it visits no more.  Rob was the best of hubbies and drove off to Thompsons Fish and Chip restaurant for a takeaway, while I buttered bread with real butter.  dsc_0431.jpgWe watched the sun set again for the final time on our holiday, slept the night away and woke ready to pack up and leave.  We enjoyed our Yorkshire vacation, thank you for reading about it, I hope you enjoyed it too.  There will be a Vlog too on our YouTube, at some point….

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A week in Yorkshire…Part 4 (good grief!)

Thursday morning dawned bright again, I walked the dogs and Rob got the morning brews and their breakfasts ready, we had a leisurely morning eventually dragging ourselves to the shower block (which are closed between 11 and 12 every day).  We then took a trip to Yorkshire Lavender which was just a short drive away.   Just as we were leaving the site we saw 2 teeny baby rabbits in the hedgerow but we only managed to snap a pic of 1.  So cute!  We saw them a few times after this.

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As I previously mentioned, unfortunately we couldn’t take full advantage of the grounds as we couldn’t take the dogs into the gardens.  However we did manage a quick walk around the shop, the nursery and the nearest of the gardens.

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There’s also a cafe but we didn’t partake.  We did however come out with a few wild garlic plants, a lemon curd thyme, a lemon thyme and some oregano to add to our herb garden at home.

The nursery was like walking into Willie Wonka’s, chocolate, strawberry and orange mint to name but a few, there was an amazing smelling curry plant which was apparently good for keeping cats from the garden!  Luckily all the few plants we bought fitted snugly into a spare washing up bowl for safe transport.

 

There was also something for that gin loving person, can’t quite remember his name?

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As we hadn’t been able to take the dogs in with us, we stopped off on the way back to site at Sheriff Hutton itself.  It’s a charming little village with its own castle ruins and we took J&J off for a wander.  You can’t explore the ruins but there is a circular walk around them, we parked at the Village Hall which has a lovely little children’s playground and walked through the village, the path to the walk is hidden away up a private drive, but it’s well sign posted.

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I especially liked the part in the bottom left picture that looked like a face!  Might be quite haunting on a moonlit night if the light was shining through.

Back to Sydney for food, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was!  We also spent a good few hours watching with bemusement at someone trying to put up a Bradcot Modul Air awning, they already had help so we didn’t want to make a nuisance of ourselves! I love these awnings but for all the pieces we want/need it would cost well over £2000, they’ll have to come down a fair bit before we spend that, either that or when we win the lottery haha! I do remember having to nip out again for emergency supplies after spilling the juice I’d extracted.  Any clue what I wanted these for?

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I didn’t make a Key Lime Pie.

I might also have picked up cream cakes and a Simnel cake as well, along with more AAA batteries.  We have a packet in the van, but could we find them, nope.  I wouldn’t mind but we had them in the morning, I swear we have pixies that follow us wherever we go.   They usually hide my clothes, this time it was batteries for the remote.

 

You’ll be happy to know that I’m nearly at the end of this series of blogs, I think I should be able to wrap it up in the next and (hopefully) final part.

Take care, enjoy your caravan, grab every minute you can.

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A trip to Yorkshire..Part 3

So we’d made it as far as the Museum Gardens, by this time we needed lunch and I really wanted fish and chips!  After waiting for 10 minutes to be served I gave up and we took a walk along the outside of the wall before heading back into town, still fruitlessly searching for a chippy!  Plenty of pubs serving food but no chip shop.  We settled on a Cornish Pasty and no sooner had we bought it and started eating it than we spied a Fish and Chip shop, for heaven’s sake.  We finished the pasty but didn’t follow up with the fish and chips.

Just as we were finishing eating, whilst perched on a wall in front of the York Chocolate Story, a street performer began his show of fire eating and sword swallowing!  Made my throat saw just thinking about it.

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We continued meandering through the streets, with no plan and no rush.  We walked down the Shambles, as I’m sure most people do, and had a walk through the Shambles Market where we may have purchased a box of fudge each from that Fudge Guy. Salted Caramel for me and Rum and Raisin for him (he wants to be a pirate).  Here we are looking like a pair of numpties!

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We also found one or two window displays which may have been of interest to some.  I have someone in mind, do you?

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Of course we also had to find our way to the Minster, it’s hard to miss it towering majestically over the town.DSCN0403-COLLAGE

We enjoyed our day in York, Jack and Jess made lots of new friends, Jack especially loved the gentleman who let him kiss him over and over again.  I’m sure we’d get a lot more done and see more things without the dogs!  We magically found the bus stop for the No.9 Park + Ride, it definitely wasn’t a planned find, more a “let’s try that way, hmm ok perhaps that way?” but find it we did and we hopped back on, this time sitting behind the driver so no-one was given kisses over their shoulders.

For those who didn’t find what they needed in York or if you need to pick up anything from the supermarkets on the way back, Monks Cross has the normal array of shops including: Aldi, Asda and Sainsbury’s (Asda had the cheapest Diesel thanks to the Petrol Prices website).  It has an abundance of stores including John Lewis, Debenhams and Hobby Craft, you can check it out here.

It was time to head back to site for us, Jack and Jess were scowling at us and thinking that we’d forgotten it was past their dinner time.  Frozen chilli was quickly defrosted and rice cooked for us, Jack and Jess were appreciative of their dinner apparently, it didn’t last long anyway!  Just one last thing to do, Rob cracked open a beer or 2 and I may have indulged in a Dragonfly whilst we enjoyed a stunning sunset from our front window.

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