Category Archives: Uk Travels

Eype and the Jurassic Coast

Eype and the Jurassic Coast

A gem of a site for those in a tent or a  campervan. We didn’t know where to head off for our “weekend” away and Angela our Site manager suggested a small site at Eype that they went to 20+ years ago but was unsure what it was like now.  We googled it and it looked like the sort of two day get away we were looking for. Right on the hill above the beach with amazing views and away from any noise. We booked it with gusto and it is one of a kind. Arriving at just gone 4pm we were pointed in the direction of our grass only pitch for £25 a night but it has stunning views and is a two min walk from the lovley shingle beach which is popular with those in the know. After setting up for two whole days of sun chill and nothing much more I decided to take Molly for a walk along the Dorset coast path that passes the site by way of a stile. Heading down to the beach and then up the other side of the hill I remembered when I had walked this stretch of the Dorset coast path on a week long marathon in my younger days with my then walking buddy Trevor (I was in my 20’s). I wearing nothing but jean shorts and walking boots. It felt surprisingly similar nearly 30 years on as I plodded up the path in nothing but my jean shorts and sandals this time and although 30 Years have passed it goes to prove that age is nothing but a the passing of time as I felt no different now than I did back then and surprisingly with a not too dissimilar Physic but perhaps with a bit of an extra beer belly . As I reached the top I saw a couple flopped out on a bench with a huge rucksack next to them. I asked if they were walking the Dorset or South West Coast path and they responded with saying they were on the last day of the Dorset coast path but were heading east to west. We exchanged walking stories and they said tat the were going to wild camp on the hill that night. I returned back to the dub to start and then polish off a bottle of red some cheese bread and biscuits and sit here typing the blog some two plus hours later and with binoculars in hand.  I can see that they still sit on the hill top opposite waiting for the right time to start to set up their tent for the night. This was made all the more impressive as they are both in their sixties and living life to the full, loving every moment of it and not frightened of doing something out of the norm for people of their age. 

As for the site WOW!!!!! if you have a tent or a small motorhome or campervan  come to this site if you can. It’s perched on the cliff top with lovley views and if you go grass only ask for pitch 20- 14. Sun from sunrise to sunset and uninterrupted views of the sea. The showers are a bit dated and not very clean but the position is A1 and you don’t spend your days off or holiday in the shower block. 

The next day we packed up and headed to explore Lyme Regis but is was ram packed with no parking to be found and the day was another scorcher. We decided to head back to Seatown which we had been to in years gone past and is another gem of a spot on the coastal path. We pulled up in the car park grabbed a drink at The Anchor and headed for the sea. I swam and Molly refused to join me in the water. Although she is happy to chase and retrieve a stick from the sea she doesn’t see the logic in just going into the water if there is no stick to bring back no matter how much coaching I gave her. An afternoon  of snoozing in the sun, a leisurely walk up to the cliff that rises above the bay another swim, and then an evening meal back at The Anchor rounded off our “weekend away”. We realise that all of this would have been less possible without the Dub. She is our perfect get away vehicle. 

Dub Down to Dartmouth Devon and a bit of Slappy on the side

Dub Down to Dartmouth Devon and a bit of Slappy on the side.

At last a weekend away! Where better to take the Dub now that we are working in the South West than Devon. The epicentre of Dub ownership Devon and Cornwall are overrun with campervans in the summer and especially when the schools are off. The narrow Devon country lanes are only just wide enough to squeeze between their stunning hedgerows to the picture perfect villages that they hide. We love Devon and Cornwall, always have and always will. We probably spent the vast majority of our Caravanning holidays in these two counties along with other multitudes of like minded “Grockles” (as the locals call them) clogging up their roads.

Luckily we are now able to get away before the roads become clogged  and the locals become village bound. The drive down was longer than our normal jaunt but the call of Dartmouth was too strong to resist. We boarded the higher car ferry to cross the river Dart to Dartmouth and it felt like our small break had finally started.

We received a walm welcome at the lovely Dartmouth site from Denise & Gerald who are the holiday site managers there and whose we had met in Seville Back in January. We were immediately invited for a few drinks at theirs to catch up with each other and spent a lovely few hours with them.

The next morning we woke to a drab a dreary day, not what we were hoping for but were determined to enjoy the area despite it. We headed down to Dartmouth and wandered the chic shops and narrow streets heading along the river and then up to the castle for a cream tea and then a short walk along a very small section of the south west coast path, finally returning back to our pitch and drive away awning for fresh crusty bread, cheese and wine.

Wednesday brought stunning blue sky’s and the warmth of the sun. We decided to pop over to another site that we had heard a lot about-  Slapton Sands. Dartmouth’s nearest neighbour and only a few miles away by car. Well it was last year however “The Beast From The East” saw an end to that (for the time being at least) The Megga Storm ripped up and undermined the coastal, and really only road that connects the two areas via a stunning drive.

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Now, to travel the few miles a long inland detour must be undertaken and a quick five minute drive has become a half hour twisting journey. It was however worth the effort as Slapton Sands Camping and Caravanning Club Site is probably one of the nicest and prettiest sites we have ever been on in all our years of Caravanning, Camping and Motorhoming, with stunning views over the sea and some of South Devon’s pretty bays and cliffs. It would definitely be on our wish list to work at however the existing staff made it very clear that they won’t wish to move on next year if they can avoid it and to be honest we can’t blame them, we wouldn’t either!

We returned to Dorset with two more sites visited. It was nice to get away from Verwood for a couple of days. Where to next time?

 

 

Our first UK getaway of 2018 & A week with Mum & Dad

Our first UK getaway of 2018 & A week with Mum and Dad 

Just under a year ago we brought our V Dub (Volkswagen Transporter Campervan) and our summer UK adventures began. It has felt like a long time coming since arriving back to the uk but finally we have been able to get away for a long weekend. Where to? It was a three hour drive to our destination and believe it or not we headed back to Theobalds Park to catch up with the friends we made there last summer. It was never going to be much more than a boozy weekend with a lot of relaxing in between. The weather was dubious with rain forecast for much of the three days however we didn’t need to sightsee or go visit anywhere as we had explored the area last year. Angie however had some shopping therapy to catch up with her friend Dona and Molly was able to reacquaint her self with the dog walk along the new river almost immediately taking herself for a swim in its dirty waters. It was nice catching up with the old clan again who are still on this unusual site which is dominated by long stay members who use its proximity to London as a good base to live from, yet still enjoying the delights of camping. We were given a lovely warm welcome by the motley crew and a few alcoholic evenings followed. It was strange going back there as a camper and not as part of the team with this seasons Holiday Site Assistants now nicely ensconced onto what was “our pitch”! It was the same old Theobalds as we remembered with a few upgrades to the shower facilities and the ever exuberant Keith the holiday site manager keeping a close eye on things. It was good to catch up with our first manager again. Time wizzed past and it was soon time to say goodbye. We had enjoyed our few days, the Friday Chinese, Saturday BBQ, and Sunday pub lunch with our friends before heading back to Verwood where my lovely Mum and Dad plan to visit us for a week from Monday. They are life long Caravan Club (now called The Caravan and Motorhome Club) members with 50 years membership (that’s 100 years between them) and worked for the club for many years as Wardens. This is their first venture onto the oppositions Camping and Caravaning club site ever, so we hope they enjoy and like it. 

The weather has been good and we have had a lovely week with my parents catching up with them when we can between working. A BBQ on Thursday, Fish and Chip supper on Saturday and Angie is cooking a traditional Roast for us all on Sunday which will finish a great week as they head off to pastures new tomorrow. It is quite apt hat this site should be their first experience of the C&CC as it was ours too and their generosity in lending us their van and car to come here for our shadowing weekend actually gave us the opportunity to work for the club Work experience. Work experience & Motorbike to MotorhomeThe amazing life they have been able to live since semi retirement doing the same thing as we are now ( only for the caravan club) gave us the spark of the idea that it was possible for us to change our lives for the better 10 or 15 years earlier than normal retirement allows. They still tow and caravan into their late 80’s and not only still show a zest for life and adventure (albeit somewhat more limited now) but also bear little resemblance to many other late octogenarians we see. If we have as much adventure and stories to tell at their age in 35 years time we will both be very grateful. 

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We have been contacted by three different sets of friends this week who all hope to come a stay for a few days with us in the next month or two so that should be really fun if they do. We also hope to “get away” soon again  inbetween entertaining and working of course.

 

Bluebells lift the spirits

 

After what seems to be endless and constant rain (the most I can ever remember for March and April) we have finally come out of the other side with the hottest recorded temperature for April in 70 years and Wow has it been hot! Feeling more like August than April we are however not complaining. The grass has started to dry out and finally we have the ability to ‘cut’ although the tractor has had different ideas on this matter, and  with its grass collecting abilities dashed we have had to let the grass, daisies and dandelions grow making the site resemble a meadow more than a campsite.  The woodland that adjoins the site has suddenly sprung in to spring with amazing Bluebell woods suddenly coming to life. Each day ( either morning before the shift starts or evening after it has finished) I am fortunate enough to be able to wander through a world dominated by bird song, sun dappled woodlands draped in the soft purple of blooming Bluebells. In our hour long daily walk Molly is in her element chasing the resident pheasant, rabbit, hare and dear from their early morning or evening munchings. As a working cocker spaniel from “field champion” parents she is a delight to watch race around the undergrowth, nose down, catching the scent of her quarry and rousting them from their hideouts. Her zest for life is at its zenith when she is in the woods where pheasant are about.

It seems strange that this wonder of nature has been going on for millennia however most of us are so wrapped up in “work life” nowadays it is rarely fully appreciated apart from an occasional glance at it  if we are lucky enough to be ‘there’ at the time.

All of a sudden we look forward to the summer, and this prelude to it has made everything feel a whole lot better.

 

RAIN RAIN & MORE RAIN

Rain Rain and More Rain.

It’s been Three weeks since we arrived back in the UK and to be honest in one respect we wish we were back in the sunshine and warmth of Southern Spain. It just has not stopped raining. I think we have had a maximum of Five days where it has not rained. As a result of the daily deluge of water from above, the site has had to close all of the grass pitches as they are totally waterlogged with huge pools of standing water on anything that is not at near vertical. A lot of the vans have had to be towed on and even off the hard standing pitches with the tractor  to try to save the grass and it has been a bleak and miserable start to the season. Our awning and compound consequently has taken an age to shape up into anything resembling cozy, but finally it has come together and we can sit eat and cook in the awning in comfort. The constant fight to keep the detritus from muddy boots, dripping wet weather gear and one very boisterous bouncy and therefore muddy little brown dog called Molly is ongoing and even her enthusiasm is dampened by our need to dry her paws and tummy on her return every time she pops out for a wee or just a mooch around the compound. So having been awoken by torrential rain on the roof of the motorhome at 4am this morning I thought I would do a quick update (aka moan) on the blog. It’s 5.21am and the rain has finally subsided for a moment giving way to to a “hoot off” between the resident owls in the large oaks behind us who are obviously as pleased with the small respite as we are . I can’t help thinking back to last year when we had wall to wall sunshine at Theobalds and we spent every free moment lazing in the sun getting a tan . How fickle the UK weather is but I suppose it is also what I love about the uk weather. It truly makes you appreciate the good days when you have made it through the bad. Bring on the sunshine ….. PLEASE!

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Back in Blighty & “The Calm B4 the Storm”

The crossing was uneventful, we mainly caught up on the lost sleep from our last night in France. We had lunches planned with Angie’s Dad, Sister and Brother in law one day and then my Mum and Dad the next. Catori had her bits and bobs sorted in readiness for the season and then it was time to fill up with LPG Gas and get to Verwood. Unbeknown to us there is a nationwide gas shortage due to the fall out between the U.K and Russia following the Salisbury poisoning incident. Our usual fill up point was en-route to Verwood so made the ideal stop. Unfortunately the tank was being filled at the time and after waiting 20 mins after which they still couldn’t get it going again we decided to get gas at another station…… NOT! Despite checking every petrol station on the way none of them sold LPG. We arrived at Verwood Tired Late and Empty of Gas. The next day I ventured off to get a fill up which, after going to 4 stations who had all sold out of gas, resulted in me going all the way back to Titchfield, a 45 min drive to the only petrol station with gas available and hoping that they had been able to get the pump back on line – Success! Hey ho a morning wasted but we are settled now and have a weeks work under our belt preparing the site for its visitors. As the site is empty of happy holiday makers at the moment Molly gets to run around it chasing the rabbits and pheasants but is also very content in our very large pitch.

It really is the quiet before the storm. Easter is full and everyone is arriving on the two day lead up. Our pitch looks a tad bare at the moment but I am sure Angie and her green fingers will having it looking pretty in no time at all. So here we are, settled for the next six months. As last year the blog will revert to our fourtnighly weekend getaways in the V’ Dub (which incidentally started from her five month slumber over winter on the first turn of her key.)

We hope you will stick with us for the summer and join us as we explore the beautiful English countryside. 

A Trip Down Memory lane

 

 

 

After 2 weeks where we have not gone away we needed to getaway from the site so decided to pop down to Dorset and to visit The Verwood Camping and Caravaning Club Site, Lat 50.8876 Long -1.9033  the place that we did our shadowing weekend before we joined the club and the first expedition out in Catori.

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Richard and Angela the site managers had always made us feel extremely welcome and it was exactly the same this time. We instantly agreed to eat out with them and spent a lovely evening exchanging stories catching up on gossip and getting a wealth of knowledge and experience about the club from them. The next day we decided to visit the gorgeous village of Corfe Castle. We visited the castle ramparts and grounds before eating  yummy pasties and ice creams in the sunshine. A visit to stundland bay was an imperative as we used to visit the area regularly when we were courting ( wow that’s an old expression) 30 years ago. Then we braved the naturalist beach with our young firm and trim figures but this time we decided to just have a semi clad hour or so In the sun at the shell beech and I enjoyed the first swim in the sea for at least a year. The car ferry to sandbanks and Bournemouth finished the day with memories of years gone past.
On our virtual Sunday we decided to split the journey back with a stop over at Windsor mainly to try to avoid the guaranteed log jam on the M25 – it failed – but we did enjoy Windsor and the walk down the great park to the front of Windsor castle. A quick beer at the local pub and a return walk back finished the day and the virtual weekend only to end in M25 hell but we suppose that is what is expected when we reside a few hundred yards north of 12 o’clock on the M25! Maybe next year we will have a site away from motorway misery.

“The Wild West ” – Runton

 

Our “weekend” is here one again and we were able to shoot of a bit early for a two and a half hours drive to the North Norfolk coast.

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This was the area that we first ventured to for our first week away last September and was designed to get to know Catori  the Comanche and relax and unwind after the stresses of selling up and moving out.

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This time different reasons called us back. No 1 – was why not? It was within our 2.5 hr travel time distance that we had set for our weekends away and what’s more it is by the coast. No 2 – we had also selected this site as one of our five possibles for next year so we thought we should at least have a look at where we had asked to go, not that you get where you ask for mind. No 3 – Our Regional support Manager John Brown runs the site and gave us a glowing report of it and openly invited us to visit it at some point.
So here we are at the Camping and Caravaning Club site in West Runton. Lat 52.9299 Long 1.2555 
Last night started well with a great little spot allowing us to soak up the last of the rays until about 8.30. Before partaking in the wine and cheese I took Molly for a quick wander. A small gate from the site takes you straight out onto the Heath with the gorse in purple cobweb like full bloom and an elevated 180 degree view over the sea, the village of West Runton and the town of Cromer. Looking down to the sea over the golf course with the villages in the background it felt like we were in North Devon. Molly loved her evening walk before settling down for the night. And WHAT A NIGHT!!!! thunderstorm after thunderstorm and lightning flashes all around however we felt safe and secure in the Dub with is rubber tyres proving one of the safest places to be in a storm.


When we woke this morning the site looked as though it had a real battering one of the shower facilities had to be closed due to standing water. It was amazing however how quickly a miserable wild morning turned into a stunner. Out came the sun and with it the heat. We decided to take the Dub into Cromer and on to Overstrand as the beach had been recommended to us. We pulled into the small car park and descended the very Steep path to the beach which was a lovely sandy beech with waves crashing onto the shore. Teenagers were jumping the white horses and a few people were sunbathing making the most of their day in the sun. The beach was only mared by the necessary sea defences that resembled the WWII coastal defences but not to deter would be invaders but to try to halt or al least slow down the massive erosion of the sandy sea cliffs. Molly swam and I paddled as I was not in swim wear and we spent a lovely hour walking the beech.


Hunger tapped on our tummies and we decided to drive along the coastal road towards Hunstanton, a route that we did on the Granny bus ( we were the only ones not using a bus pass) in September but this time we had the ability to stop off and see all the things that passed by the windows of the bus back then. First stop a pub. The Dun Cow at Salthouse looked lovely with a great beer garden overlooking the sea but the menu was a bit posh for a lunch time snack with a price tag to match and as we only wanted a snack we decided to just have a drink and elected to venture on in search of another watering hole.

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Passing through a couple of hamlets and one that lay claim to having the winner of the Norfolk Pub of the year for 2016 (which we only saw on the return drive back to the site) we headed relentlessly towards Hunstanton and a diversion off of the road made me look down a side road to see The Kings Arms banner displayed in all its glory. We decided to explore turned the Dub round and stumbled on a quayside of summer activity. A quick Crab baguette for me and tuna sandwich for Angie plus a bowl  of chips on the side put a stop to the hunger and we walked down to the quayside of Blakeney to investigate why it was so popular.
Swarms of children huddled by the water with line and bait and a bucket of salt water filled with differing levels of crabs desperately trying to claw their way out. Small pleasure boats putted past and canoe and dinghy alike were being rowed with gusto. Coloured bunting was strung between the lampposts and a car par that sloped to the gravel beach side was crammed with cars. People were walking in every direction and the queues for the ice cream shop was five deep. We too joined the throngs just milling about in the sun and it was very pleasant and relaxing. Apart from the picturesque location we did not know why it was so busy but it certainly had a feel good factor and some pretty massive flood markings up the walls. The most recent and nearly the highest was in 2014 and a good 8ft above the road we stood on.


We returned back to the campsite and said a thank you to John and his wife for the invite.  Would we like to work on this site in 2018?  – yes we think so, a great site full of holiday makers in a nice spot with some amazing walks and scenery around. On Thursday we return to Theobalds but before we do that we needed to enjoy our last day away.

Now I’m not a Steam freak by any means but as the weather looked inclement we decided that we would drive to Sheringham and take the North Norfolk line to Holt for a spot of lunch and then back again. A very very slow diesel took us to our destination only to find that the station was 1.5 miles from the town centre. We were in shorts and t shirts as expected the town to be ‘AT’ the station. We missed the bus by a minute so decided to walk. It started to rain en-route and we were very pleased to find a pub just as we got to the town. After a late lunch we had a quick but damp look around the town before jumping on the bus back to the station and a steam train ride back to the Dub. The sun came out and very pleasant it was too. I have made a decision though-  that the station is the best part of the experience. The actual train ride could be on any train. It did however while away an afternoon and rounded off our visit to the North Norfolk coast.

Sizzling in St Neots.

We are in the delightfull riverside site and town of St Neots in Huntingdonshire Lat52.219826 Long -0.274599  (I didn’t even realise there was such a shire) Angie has not seen her cousin,Auntie and Uncle for 15 years and one of the delights of this transient lifestyle we lead is being able to be closer to people that we haven’t seen for a while get in touch to say hello and catch up. We had a greed to meet them for lunch on the Wednesday.
The first bit of catching up however was needed with Andy and Lorraine who were at the site in Verwood where we did our work experience to see if the job would fit us and Vica verca.
We got on we’ll then and have kept in touch via Facebook. They are now the holiday site assistants at St Neots and their Managers Simon and Keith are a great couple of guys who could not have made us more welcome.
The site is stunning as its right on the banks of the the river with pleasure craft and canal boats going past plus loads of waterfowl to keep you fascinated for hours. The facilities are, as always spotlessly clean but now very dated however the site is due for a major refit this winter with new roads and toilet/shower blocks planned so next year it should be amazing In every way.

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A riverside path runs through the site and in one direction there is a lock, weir and gorgeous waterside pub ( formerly a mill) in the other St Neots town with more lovely waterside pubs and parks. All of them are less than a mile walk and we partook in a few beverages from both.

Wednesday lunch was spent with the long lost rellies and after a false start at a recommended but not too good pub (no garden for the dogs) we ended up a the Old mill and spent a lovely couple of hours catching up on old times and walking along the canal side path and over the weir and lock. Molly swam at least six times to keep cool. After enough chatting to keep the girls happily ensconced in memory lane Good byes were said along with a vow to not leave it as long next time and we headed back to the site for some sun cheese and biscuits finally retiring indoors at 9pm to watch one of my favourite tv personalities Joanna Lumley extolling the sites and customs of India.

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Thursday we wandered into St Neots town centre, the Market and treated ourselves to a second lunch out in as many days. A very hot walk ( with the essential Molly swim) back to the site and Dub meant that a cold Doombar beer for me and G&T over ice for Angie was definitely in order. We needed to pack up and head back later so just the one Beer was allowed but we delight in the little allowances made for fellow assistants i.e no 12pm vacate pitch rule.

Two full days and two nights in stunning weather and on one of The nicest sites we have seen so far on the circuit. Definitely one for a return visit. As for the little drive away awning well it’s not perfect but it does the job. A bugger to saddle up to easily and get the position exactly right but then again things don’t have to be perfect to be good do they!

Gorgeous Graffham or otherwise known as “The Marmite site”

Monty Python said “And now for something completely different” and Love it or Loathe it, the camping and Caravaning club site at Graffham Lat 50.96 Long -0.6615 is completely different from any camping, Caravaning, tenting or holiday site I have ever been on and that is a lot.

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Personally we loved it. Definitely not for those who like soaking up the sun or who want a manicured plot with perfect grass, raked handstand and top of the range toilet facilities and definitely not easy for pushchair or wheelchair access but it is stunning camping at its most rural. 100 secluded individual plots for anything from a tent to the largest of caravans or motorhome are hidden away in a sun dappled and leaf covered woodland with twisty gravel roads creating a maze like feel surrounding a large wooded roundel hill and it’s easy to get lost. You feel that you have walked out of the site and are in the middle of the woods and up pops another plot with a caravan tucked away in it. Grass is not on the agenda and the peaty sandy soil does get everywhere but you really feel that you are truly camping as you should. The spotlessly clean and slightly dated toilet and shower blocks are warm and inviting despite needing to have a refit.

The Managers Sean and Mandy and the HSA’s were very welcoming and have really added their own touch with funky signs and personality everywhere you look and it’s a site that we will definitely go back to at some point.

We didn’t however just go to visit the site, Angie had always wanted to go to the stunning West Wittering beech if we ever got a V- Dub. Well now we have one so TICK – done. Angie text her previous work friend Karen who also has Wednesday off and she joined us on the grass just back from the sandy beach. On went the BBQ and burgers plus hot dogs were served up pretty pronto. A long windy walk along the sandy beach to work of the calories meant that Molly was able to run around like a banchie and as she loves to swim in the sea she was in her element. Thelate afternoon and evening allowed us to catch up with my Mum and Dad and spent the time educating them on the delights of Take away curry which was one of the best we have had for a while.

Thursday – we decided to pay a quick visit to Petworth which apart from lot and lots of antique shops a few tea rooms didn’t have much to offer unless you wished to visit the house and grounds that we had previously done a few years ago so we decided that one was enough and we made a leisurely return to Theobalds.