17 Minutes from Home

Tuesday morning, the sun is shining and the forecast is good for the next couple of days. A little more relaxed today in our preparation to getting the caravan hitched up and on the road. We discovered a site quite near to home on the Internet a few months ago and now seems a good time to try it. Old Barn Farm Is probably the nearest site we have to home. It took longer to hitch up and leave our storage site than it did to actually drive to the site.

The site is situated in Liphook, just a mile from the A3. The drive to the site is a good clear run from home until you get within half a mile of the site and you hit the countryside. A narrow single track road leads to the site entrance, you wouldn’t want to meet another caravan coming the other way.


A gated entrance welcomed us, we’d been given the entry code prior to arrival, in we went. Guided through well maintained farm buildings by signs a vast open space greeted us with only 6 pitches taken, EHU and water points skirted the perimeter of the field. With no facilities on site we chose a pitch and got the legs down parallel with the hedgerow on the south facing side of the site.

A vast expanse of farmland with loads of walks and not to far out of Liphook, where you will find a supermarket, local shops, pubs and takeaways,makes this site a perfect little haven. Slightly on the more expensive side at £20 a night, no facilities remember, still is a bit of a find for us for the shorter break as it’s very close to home with minimal fuel costs to get here.  We were a little worried on arrival to be greeted by this notice on the EHU though. Regardless we ran the electric and weren’t given any extra costs or charges.

Whilst on site we had two extremely good days weather wise with the second proving to be the hottest day of the year so far. So hot it melted my bloomin candles!

The hot weather meant after a walk to the local supermarket we were very hot and sweaty and with the sun still glaring down it seemed like the ideal opportunity to try out Equip, waterless wash wipes. Still too hot in the day to shower, you’d only need another one within the hour, these wipes certainly did the trick of freshening us up. Perfect for times when you need a quick wash but don’t have access to soap and water. Probably a good idea for festivals and a bit of wild camping.


One of the key pleasures of a caravan trip, and admit it, you agree, is the arrival of an entertaining couple, eg. the ones that argue and generally do things in an ‘interesting’ way. For now we will call them ‘Browbeaten Bob’ and ‘Bossy Bertha’.  So, Bob and Bertha drive onto our field and confidently drive to a unpopulated area, nothing too exciting, but once unhitched, Bertha is screaming “Further … Further … Further” as Bob drives about three caravan lengths away from their caravan, no sooner had we joked about the length of windbreaker they would be needing that Bertha was practically sprinting ten metres the other side of caravan with, yes, a windbreaker.  Eh..Up we both said, and immediately faced our chairs their way and settled in to enjoy the on site entertainment.  Once hammered into place, Bob is cajoled into helping carry another windbreaker ten metres past the now distant car.  Now either Bob was embarrassed at the scene or didn’t fancy the long journey to the far end of their new enclosure as a few cross words were exchanged before he flung his end of the concertina windbreak at his still sprinting wife. Bertha carried on regardless and hammered in the right perimeter wall, although, it is being re-hammered every ten minutes or so as it falls over regularly. Next, the caravan is emptied, my God, I hope they are staying more than two days, items were continually flung out of the opened caravan door into a large pile, to date, seven chairs are assembled (two people remember) and positioned in the North, West and South extremities of the encampment, a parasol complete with water filled base and the obligatory awning, which surprisingly was erected without too much drama, albeit over a period of about three hours.  As I look across it is still being pegged down.  In the time it has taken them to get to this stage we have normally had a cup of coffee, eaten dinner, explored the nearest town and eaten tea (translation for Southerners, for dinner and tea, please read lunch and dinner).  Maybe I am being harsh, the thirty metre exclusion zone could be on medical grounds and they are not just anti-social, territory grabbing, selfish gits, who knows.

The hottest day of the year soon turned into a stormy evening. Still warm, we were able to sit out under the canopy with a beer watching the rain come down.


All in all, would we come again? Yes, purely because of its locality to us. At £20 per night with no facilities, including no wifi, the price is a little bit steep but as you can see there is more than enough space for everyone. The owner is very relaxed and doesn’t really have any rules. He is very generous with his arrival and departure times, or should I say there aren’t any.

As for the anti-social territory grabbing selfish gits ?  It turns out they are wonderfully considerate people, why?, well clearly they were protecting us from the mass of bodies, bikes, dogs, caravans and tents that turned up over the following twenty-four hours and all seemed to be related to dear Bob and Bertha. Either way, we were entertained.

Equip Waterless Wash Wipes

We took Equip Waterless Wash Wipes away in the caravan with us. 


The first morning we set ourselves the challenge of using the wipes instead of washing/showering. We were impressed with the way the wipes worked. They certainly freshened and gave you that ‘just washed’ feel even on your underarms. They are thicker and stronger than a normal wipe and are extremely moist which lasts quite a while whilst being used. They are PH balanced and dermatologically tested so great for most skin types. They produce a soap as you rub leaving you looking and feeling fresher. 


The heat of the day meant that the wipes were also used later in the day to wash away the heat and grime of the day. 

The wipes are perfect for those moments when you can’t get to soap and water but really need to. They come in a pack that is easily stored in your bag and provide a wipe bigger than the average wipe. Great for festivals, camping, sports, long car journeys and even work.  

Another hot day today so the OH took them to work with him. He is an HGV driver and on days like today was grateful for the chance to be able to freshen up between drops. 

Would we buy them again? Yes, I think we would. 

At approximately £3 for a pack of 24 wipes they seem like a good buy.

http://www.equipwaterlesswash.com/oversized-wipes-12-p.asp

http://m.boots.com/h5/cat_hub?unCountry=uk&path=%2Fen%2FEquip-Oversize-Wipes-24s_1743751%2F

Return to Rookesbury… With grown up children

Picture the scene… 10 hour shift just finished. Takeaway eaten. Caravan site booked. Wine opened. Bring on my mid week weekend.
Rewind to 1992. Challenge Anneka did a challenge and made a charity tape, Tommy’s Tape, that really appealed to my little ones musical taste of the time.
Fast forward to 2016 and she is fast approaching 25 and about to go on her first family holiday for a few years, in our caravan with her 20 year old sister. Tommy’s tape is a tape that was played in our old Ford Fiesta many moons ago and was played over and over again, tonight, 24 years later we are ‘streaming’ it from the Internet just to reminisce.

Setting the scene I am hoping that this may help to relive some of our earliest holidays under canvas. We holidayed under canvas until about 10 years ago when we moved south and pay rises meant tropical holidays to foreign climes. Up to present day grown up children have visited the caravan but not been away with us. Up until now this has been our private time, our private space. Bring on the family. I hope they enjoy it as much as we do.

Legs up, hitched up. It’s Tuesday morning and we are taking our grown up daughters on their first caravan adventure to Rookesbury Park. Arriving at lunch time, legs down, inside and outside jobs done time for some lunch. Both girls like me have fitbits and whilst I try to take my step count seriously they are more into it than I am. Caravan time normally means time to relax, especially on our 2 day jaunts as this is recovery from work time. So to get the step count up off into the neighbouring woods for a walk. A fern waved it’s greetings to us as we entered in a quite comical and mechanical way. On a previous walk earlier in the year here this was very muddy, although still muddy in places it had greatly improved.


Rabbits, a young stag, birds and dragonflies all made an appearance before scuttling off into the undergrowth.     Further down the path we spied a beautiful dragonfly appearing to be resting on a particularly spiky bush, (if anyone can help identify this plant I would be extremely grateful), we think it may be gorse. A few photos later and closer inspection, we realised that it wasn’t enjoying the sun it was actually impaled. We dutifully released it from the spiky prison and watched it fly away.

Sitting under the canopy watching the night draw in, Alice, our youngest, fast approaching 21, decided that it would be a good idea to have pizza delivered to the caravan! True to any uni student, she was pretty adept in finding an eaterie that would deliver. A few taps on her phone and it was arranged that the delivery driver would meet us at the entrance to the site. 30 minutes later the table groaned with goodies. I must say we got a substantial amount of food of really good quality for a very reasonable £15. Not something we would normally do and inputting the late night snack into our Fitbits I can see why we don’t do it regularly.

We were up bright and early, the girls tried to sleep in until lunch time. Not easy apparently with a mum that ‘Elefoots around the caravan’ and ‘the wolf next door howling’. Said wolf is in fact a beautiful husky, so very wolf like in appearance and really does howl like a wolf and insists on talking to its humans quite loudly.

Discovered this morning that one of my Twitter followers was on site too. Was good to spend a couple of minutes chatting about what we are up to. It’s always nice being able to put a face to the name.

The afternoon brought a walk up Old Winchester Hill. The girls love to take photos and really enjoyed messing about at the top of the hill. A few year ago we decided that no matter how old we all get we were going to try to have a ‘just the four of us’ family day every year. Today was our family day. It’s nice sometimes to be out and about, chatting and doing things together. Brief stop on the wayback to the site atop Portsdown Hill in Portsmouth. Very busy in the lovely weather but we still managed to grab a bench for a while.



Sitting out chatting with the family on a summer’s evening was perfect. All the hustle and bustle and distractions of every day life gone. The girls agreed that it was a very laid back and relaxing experience. Neither were quite on the same wavelength as us as regards our love of being in our caravan. Non the less it’s an experience that we’ve shared with them and I’m glad we did. It’s been a few years since we went away together as a family and I’m glad we did it.

Morning arrived and with a heavy heart we were forced to pack away. Time to go home, back to distractions, back to work, back to real life. I’m really pleased they came with us and feel that as a family it did us good. Maybe they’ll come again one day, who knows?

Norfolk ‘n’ Chance

It’s early Tuesday morning and we are loading the car for 9 nights at a CL in Norfolk. 9 nights means I’m a little more organised than for our usual 2 night breaks. Off to the storage site to get the legs up and off we go. Still within 2 miles from home and we realise that we’d forgotten breakfast. We’d had a takeaway pizza the night before and wrapped the left overs up to eat en route. Pizza it is for breakfast then. Up the A3 and through the Hindhead tunnel. I realised I’d forgotten to pack a white bra, no white T shirts this holiday then. Onto the M25 and I realised we’d forgotten to pack the caravan box. This is a box that I put things in as I remember them before the next trip out. Clean towels are in the box as are basic food supplies, new toothbrushes, toothpaste, caravan blanket and countless other bits and pieces. Feeling rather useless and down, quick check back, yes we’d remembered the caravan.

The heavens opened the skies went black. Come on. This is July it’s supposed to be summer. We ploughed on and black clouds gave way to lighter clouds with the occasional patch of blue. Not enough to make a pair of sailor’s trousers though so as my grandma used to say summer’s not quite here yet.

170 miles later we arrived at the site. Driving down a long gravel drive,bedecked with baskets teeming with flowers, the drive opened up onto a small 6 pitch field, The Grange CL. The owners live on site and were on hand at our arrival. A small site office and a ladies and gents toilets are in a small building to the side of the site. There is a small daily charge to use the loos and a charge to use wifi. We paid for use of the toilet/shower but declined the wifi as our gadget managed to pick up wifi for free from the surrounding area.  The site office is well stocked with tourist leaflets on things to do in the area and the owners, Pat and Steve, are more than happy to share their knowledge of the local area. Legs down facing a beautiful dovecote, peace and tranquility reigned. The awning went up quickly, kettle on and a bite to eat. Having forgotten most of our supplies this meant a trip into the local market town of Diss. Diss boasts three supermarkets and plenty of local shops whilst still retaining the small town feel.


Morrisons was our chosen supermarket. We entered at just after 4pm, good time or bad time, I’m not sure. They had just started reducing items. I like to refer to the section dedicated to reduced items as ‘The Shit Corner’. Boy was the Shit Corner good today. Trolley loaded with bargains I just hoped my fridge and freezer could cope.

Day 2

It had rained overnight but the morning greeted us with sunshine and fluffy clouds. Reduced Morrisons Bloomer toasted with lashings of butter for breakfast swilled down with a strong cup of tea. Time to explore. The owners had encouraged us to take time to wander around their 6 acres of land. Leaving the site through a 5 bar gate we were pleasantly surprised. It was like entering the wardrobe and finding Narnia. A wildlife town awaited us. Hidden amongst tall grasses and an abundance of wild flowers was an assortment of bug hotels, owl boxes, ponds, a bird hide and ‘Ye Olde non Swinging Swing Chair’. The 6 acre site was alive with butterflies, bees and birds. With the suggestion from the humble abodes that frogs, reptiles and countless other mini beasts live here. With birdseed provided in the bird hide we topped up the feeders and sat back to enjoy the birds feasting. 


We later met up with Steve, the owner and wildlife enthusiast, who told us that he was leaving a moth box out over night and that if we were up early tomorrow morning we’d be able to see its contents.


After lunch, armed with a parcel for my parents that needed posting, we set off on the tandem for Diss. A 14 mile round trip to a lovely little market town with a Mere in the centre. A beautiful lake left over from the ice age. Today however, we didn’t do the town justice, with rain imminent we decided to save exploring for another day.


Day 3

Early to rise to check out the moth box.  Us getting up early whilst on holiday is unheard of let alone getting up early to go and look at moths. I feel we just lost all our street cred, if we ever had any in the first place that is. The site still slumbered as we headed into our little wildlife haven. Steve was out ahead of us and opened the box to reveal a bounty of moths, different sizes, shapes and colours all basking under the lamp placed in the box to lure them in. The piece de resistance was a beautiful Hawk Moth which quite happily posed on Steve’s hand for photographs. Moths duly released back into the wild we set off for a quiet half an hour in the bird hide. I think on this occasion we must’ve been up before the birds as we only saw a couple of Yellow Hammers.


Back to the caravan to prepare for a ride to Norwich. A 40 mile round trip. The sun was out, sun cream applied and off we went. Having only ridden less than a dozen times since our Tour of Great Britain my bum didn’t feel too bad on my Brooks Saddle. Legs felt good as we powered on. Probably a good part of the country for me to embark on such a lengthy ride. The furthest I’ve ridden in the last 18 months is about 15 miles so the relatively flat terrain of Norfolk felt promising.  On arrival in Norwich we were on the hunt for lunch. We’d holidayed here 30 years ago on one of our first holidays together on a boat on the Norfolk broads so we headed down towards the water. Lovely pub found with a waterside balcony and settled down to eat. Reminiscing about our first holiday we set ourselves the challenge of recreating a photograph taken of our younger selves. Location found. Willing photographer on a nearby boat found.  Pose. Job done.

Heading back I got quite saddle sore and the hips played up a bit but despite the moaning, ( apparently I’m good at this) I’m still proud of the fact I managed the ride after such a long time out of the saddle.

Day 4

Another sunny day dawned and saw us peering into the moth box again. This morning we were greeted by a Privet Moth. A stunning creature resembling more of a butterfly than the usual moth.


Bit of a lazy day planned today. Bit of cleaning. Sleeping in the sun. Little bit of shopping and a trundle around Diss.

Day 5 & 6

Little bit of a lie in and then a full cooked breakfast on the teppanyaki. The site had EHU maintenance on Friday. Another first, we switched the fridge onto gas for the few hours that our supply would off. Having switched it back onto EHU after said works were completed we thought nothing of it. Woke up this morning and the bloomin fridge was warm! Nightmare.

Meeting friends later and doing an early tea so hopefully we’re set up food wise until then. Met up at a pub about 45 minutes away. The Hare Arms, a beautiful little village pub which has a lovely beer garden with various breeds of chickens and peacocks roaming around. With it being a lovely sunny day and our friends having 3 young children we opted for the beer garden. We all met 8  summers ago in Turkey and hit it off straight away. We have kept in touch over the years and managed to meet up every year since. The family is 3 generations and has grown over the years with us getting to meet the latest addition, Sienna, a beautiful little 17 week old bundle of smiles. Food ordered, Sienna’s older brothers playing in the large beer garden, time to catch up. The food arrived, large portions that were extremely well presented, time to tuck in. It’s always great catching up with old friends but all good things come to an end. We said our goodbyes and head back to the caravan just in time for Steve to watch Le Tour de France and for me to try to get my Fitbit steps in with a stroll around the wildlife area. Early to bed, more friends to meet tomorrow.

Second day of lunching out was a hot day. Grateful to leave the confines of the sun lounger, carefully placed south facing outside the awning. We set off in the hot tin box on wheels, known to us as’ The Volvo, slowly roasting for the few few miles whilst the air conditioning kicked in. Arriving at The Marsh Harrier. A lovely old pub refurbished now looking like a new pub. This, too, had a lovely beer garden that people where taking full advantage of. Dave is an old colleague of Steves from the days when we worked Monday to Friday, 9-5, and hated every minute of the daily grind.  Dave brought along his wife, Sharon, a lovely lady originally from Rochdale.  Two chatty northern women meant that there wasn’t any awkward silences.  Food ordered. I opted for the traditional Sunday roast and Steve, the ham hock. Conversation flowed freely, as did the local ale. All fed, watered and caught up, time to say our good byes with promises of meeting up again. Back to the hot tin box on wheels to return to the caravan to continue to slowly roast outside the awning.


Day 7

The holiday is slowly coming to a close, but the weather is cranking up. Wall to wall blue skies today with more than enough blue to make trousers for a crew of sailors. The sun blazed down reaching an amazing 29 degrees. Steve opted for the sweltering heat in the shade of the rolled up awning with me choosing to hop between the awning and the perfect blue skies. Quick cool down in the later part of the afternoon in the chilled aisles of the local supermarket got us ready for a walk around the wildlife area assisting the owner of the site with his Big Butterfly Count.

Armed with the sheet downloaded from the website, off we went. Laughable really, if you’d’ve told me last week that on my holidays I’d be getting up at the crack of dawn to look at moths and spend hot afternoons chasing butterflies around a field, I would never have believed you. An almost impossible task as butterflies just don’t sit still for long enough for you to get close enough to identity them. We only really managed to identify about 4 different ones but we saw it as something different and a way of me getting extra steps in on my Fitbit.

During our visit Steve, the owner, had invited some owl specialists out to check his barn owl box at the end of the wildlife area as he suspected there may be chicks in there. Specialists arrived and low and behold 2 beautiful baby chicks. Ringed and carefully placed back in their box the babies settled down to await mum’s return. Whilst we did not witness the babies being ringed ( best to keep people to a minimum whilst the experts do what they do best), Steve Garten, the owner, was on hand and took these beautiful photos. 


Day 8

So hot last night that every window and skylight was opened to full, with the mozzy blinds in place and light breeze it made for a pleasant nights sleep. 


 Today was a tourist day, once again reliving some old holiday spots, but first, we need to feed Steve’s belly, it must be nearing 12 noon then!!!  We acquire Tesco reward points, not by being loyal Tesco shoppers, oh no, but by purchasing everything using a Tesco CreditCard which is paid off “IN FULL” every month, just in case Martin Lewis is reading. These reward points convert very nicely into Food Vouchers, and generally provide a three course meal once a month, or have even been used to provide a no cost return journey through the Channel Tunnel in the past. We travelled to Beccles, a point we remembered from our Norfolk Broads holidays, that also happened to have a ‘Prezzo’ so three course lunch it is then. A short walk down to the water admiring the sheer variety of architecture along the way and we were in familiar territory reminiscing about the old times whilst a family of Swans paid us a visit.


We journeyed onwards to Great Yarmouth, now we may not be the people to do Great Yarmouth justice, but I don’t suppose they are hoping to attract middle aged caravanners (cheeky auto correct just corrected caravanners to caravan nerds!!!). Let’s just say it has gone the way of other ‘Kiss Me Quick’ seaside resorts and we seem to prefer them in winter when the tattoos and naked beer bellies are covered up back ‘inland’ somewhere.  Anyway, we ‘joined in’ and spent an hour snoozing on the beach, with views of a large oil tanker and some enormous oil rig, which may have been an off-shore wind turbine planter, we didn’t know, while ‘beer bellies’ grandchildren traipsed 50yrds and back on a donkey for £2.50 each. Nice to see that old style pier entertainment still exists, featuring one of my childhood favourites, Showaddywaddy, whom I  saw in Woking a couple of weeks ago.


We next journeyed onwards to Acle for a peaceful half hour at the ‘The Bridge Inn’, a nice looking part thatched pub by the side of the ‘Broads’.  Then back home, and yes, we do call the caravan home, via Tesco (more reward points) for fuel. After a full day of 30C temperatures it was fair to say the caravan was HOT on our return, the already opened windows were flung to the full extremities and the freezer was raided for the choc-ices rather quickly.  End of the day, in the awning, wine in hand, watching the full moon rising after a walk round the sites wildlife area watching the Barn Owl swooping around the field, but not close enough for a picture, sorry.

Day 9

Lazy day planned to end the holiday. Think a little bit of heat exhaustion may be affecting me, woke up to temperatures rising towards 30 degrees again and feeling quite dizzy. Water by the litre and sit in the shade was prescribed by the boss. Temperatures soared and a little nap after lunch I was feeling almost back to normal. 

A short walk around the wildlife area and housemartins swooping over the water caught our attention. Some swooped gracefully skimming over the surface drinking as they went. Others not quite as graceful belly flopped in an attempt at getting a drink. The small fishing lake proudly presents about 9 fishing platforms, all fenced off to prevent children and animals entering the water. The water is well stocked with fish of all sizes, carp I think,  but don’t quote me on that. Ideal for the more inexperienced fisherman as we were told you were more than likely guaranteed to get a catch. 

On returning from our walk we decided it was time the awning came down. Unpegged it came down with relative ease and dutifully allowed itself to be folded and stored away in the boot of the car. Just in time me thinks. The sky turned black and distant rumblings suggested an imminent storm approaching. Within minutes big fat rain drops were making that wonderful noise in our roof, lightning flashed and the thunder clapped. As quickly as it arrived the storm moved on its way leaving the world looking and smelling fresher and cooler. 

Day 10

Awake early, breakfast done, time to pack away. I always hate this bit as it always seems to be the final full stop behind our holiday. The owners, Pat & Steve came over to say goodbye and with great sadness we hitched up and set off back to Hampshire. Alarms set for our early morning return to work tomorrow. 

Would we go again? In a flash!  We didn’t have any real plans to do anything this holiday. We just wanted bucket loads of rest and relaxation, which we certainly got. The way the site is set up it oozes calm and relaxation with the wildlife area being a great asset. It’s up to you how you use the wildlife area, be it for fishing, twitching, dog walking, studying the many different homes for different animals or just for a lovely evening stroll and a quiet moment in the ‘non swinging swinging seat’ watching the beautiful sunsets. Or like us you could completely surprise yourselves and find yourselves getting up at silly o’clock to look at moths. It’s entirely up to you how much you get out of the site. We got so much from the holiday it made us more determine to retire early and tour. There’s a great big world out there waiting to be discovered and we found a tiny piece of tranquility a few hours up the road. 

Sozzed in Slinfold

Tuesday morning. Sun’s out. Let’s get those legs down again. As usual a bit of a last minute decision to take the caravan out. I’d been itching to get back to Slinfold CC site and today seemed like a good day to go. Quick phone call and we had secured a pitch for 2 nights. 



The site is located on an old railway line on the South Downs Link, making this site perfect for cycling and walking. The site is volunteer run and has no toilet/shower block. A mixture of grass and hard standing pitches on this site we like a grass pitch. A long site with the far end backing onto a small industrial unit we have found the pitches nearer to the wardens office don’t hear the sounds of the occasional truck or workers going about their business. I must add that it is only a small unit and noise is minimal anyway. The site is well established and cared for and the wardens are very helpful and chatty. The site is located at the far end of a single track road so it is advisable to arrive after their 12pm recommended arrival time as you really wouldn’t want to meet another unit departing. 

Set up was done and dusted in no time with me doing the inside and the boss doing the outside jobs, of course. Lunch made, time to sit in the sun and relax. 

With rain forecast later we decided to walk into the village whilst the sun was shining. A short walk and we were in the very quaint and typically English village of Slinfold. Stone roofs and cottage gardens teeming with flowers and heavy with the scent of summer. A small local store selling essentials sits opposite the local hostellers, The Red Lyon, offering B&B, food and a beer garden. It would seem rude not to partake in a local tipple. Met by a very cheery couple of locals on our side of the bar who were more than happy to advise which ale to sample. A pint of locally brewed Mr Chubbs was selected and taken to the garden. A lovely pub, well worth a visit on a sunny afternoon also offering quite a substantial menu for lunch and dinner.  Being a bit tight, at £8+ for 2 pints, needless to say, we only stayed for one. 


Shortly after our little jaunt into the village the rain started. Tucked up warm and dry inside our little tin box, time for an afternoon siesta and to watch the evening creep in. 

The day dawned with bright sunshine. We knew from the forecast that the weather was going to be short lived and that rain was rolling in from lunchtime onwards. 

A first today in the Pursuit. We used the shower. Pretty impressed with water pressure and space within the cubicle. In an attempt at preserving our water supplies we only had the water on when needed and were pleasantly surprised that the aquaroll we filled on arrival yesterday sufficed. As regards the shower area a shelf or two for shower gels and shampoo would’ve been a nice added extra. As it is with only a soap dish our toiletries were banished to the floor.  Nice to know though that we can survive comfortably and confidently on smaller sites without the usual facilities. 

Just before lunch the predicted weather drizzled in. On a previous visit to this site we had cycled a few miles on the South Downs link to a local brewery and bought a sample of their wares.  This time our chosen method of transport due to the weather was the car. In the neighbouring village of Rudgewick is the Firebird Brewery.  A typical micro-brewery, a small industrial unit with a small unmanned shop (hand bell on counter to summon assistance) and mini-tours available twice a week. Today we were definitely “buying” so aimed for the free taster jugs where you can sample all the available ales. We opted for 2 litres of ‘No79’ and 1 litre of ‘Pale Face’ (just enough to see us through a rainy afternoon in the caravan). We also came away with the added bonus of a free bin, ie, a carrier bag, a win win. Really helpful and chatty staff and being able to watch them brewing through a huge window in the shop added to the whole experience. 

As I write this, our beer drinking strategy may be risky as we are out for a meal tonight with a good friend and meeting his girlfriend for the first time. Perhaps the risk is entirely his, as we may be totally oblivious to the outcome of the evening.  I can just imagine the comments in their car later, “..and you actually know those people”. Maybe a siesta is required before tonight, I’m sure we will be on best behaviour, will let you know in a later paragraph. 


Sat here in a haze of Paleface and No. 79 and an elderly neighbour decided that despite the weather now is the time to do the ‘blue jobs’ and fill the water with a deggin’ can (only a true northerner will recognise this term). Empty the loo and the waste. Countless trips up and down later he is drenched and decides to take the dog for a walk. The dog is obviously bursting but isn’t allowed to pause to even smell the raindrops let alone make a puddle. Marched off the site to dutifully do it’s ablutions it is then marched quickly back to have it’s paws dried thoroughly before re entering the caravan. The neighbour though still obviously not quite as wet as he could be stomps past us again carefully skirting past the puddles to the on site information office. StopPress. Just had a laugh as the old boy tripped up over a speed bump, that will teach him to break the 5mph rule. 

Firebird’s finest dutifully slept off. Time to get ready to go out for dinner. Our friends collected us from the caravan site and drove us to our chosen eaterie, The Blue Ship. Famed locally for a ‘challenge burger,’ we chose the smaller alternatives. A typical English village pub with great hosts and an extensive menu all good portion sizes and prices. We arrived early and had the place to ourselves and were able to catch up and chat with ease, no juke box blaring out and no arcade game machine churning out the incessant, irritating music designed to lure kids in and wind up the adults. Our food arrived beautifully presented on slate with a substantial basket of fries. Time to tuck in. People by now had started to drift in and it became quite obvious that their menu was a big draw on custom. Everyone who came in ordered food. Due to our ale consumption in the afternoon we only managed one drink which helped the conversation flow freely. 


Tums full and all starting to tire we returned to the caravan for coffee. Strange how big the ‘van feels with just the two of us in it yet ever so small with four adults. The day was drawing to a close. Good nights said and promises made to keep in touch more we waved our friends on their way and tumbled into bed knowing tomorrow morning would be here soon enough and time to go home.

Would we go again? Of course we would!  No facilities, no wifi just total relaxation. Looking back it seems that this was a bit of a boozy mid week weekend for us. Quite unusual really. We like to think of it as keeping local businesses alive by sampling their produce – hic! That’s my excuse anyway and I’m sticking to it. 

And Breathe…

We are a northern couple, who for the last 10 years have been living down south in Hampshire.  Working for a big corporate company, promotion meant we upped sticks and moved from our native town of Bolton to rural Hampshire with our two teenage girls.

Fast forward 8 years and holiday planning for the summer of 2014.  A Tour of the U.K. on the tandem, taking in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Two weeks of driving to destinations, taking in the sights and cycling approximately 50 miles a day, booking into hotels and B&B’s made for an amazing holiday but extremely tiring trip. After cycling so many miles in a day all I wanted to do after the ride was to fall into a hot bubble bath and rest my weary limbs, put my pyjamas on and relax. Staying in hotels meant after the bath we had to get dressed and go out into the world in search of dinner. No time to wind down and relax. On reflection, looking at the holiday photos on our return we wondered how the trip could’ve been better. A caravan was our answer.


When our girls were growing up we’d holidayed in tents. As a family we loved being under canvas and treated it as a home from home with the girls having more holidays and outdoor time than anyone they knew. We spent time outdoors, we saw birds and other wildlife you wouldn’t see at home. How many families do you know that have woken up to help a confused hedgehog escape from their tent and then watched as its little bottom ran off into to the darkness? And yes, they can run! Listening to the rain thundering on the tent and squelching in the mud after about 10 years our camping days came to and end. We used to sit inside the tent watching the raindrops on the crumpled plastic of our windows gazing at the people in the warmth and comfort of their caravans. Looking in awe we never dreamt we’d be able to ever be the proud owners of our own caravan.  Now that the girls were older we no longer needed to include them in our holiday equation. Fast approaching 50 we quickly dismissed the idea of dusting the tent off. Next best thing, a caravan. Finances had changed with the passage of time. For the price of a couple of foreign family holidays our dream could come true. So the seed was planted. Let’s go shopping. After trawling the Internet for hints, tips and advice for what was best for the car we were to tow with we found our dream ‘van, a Bailey Orion 400-2. The minute we stepped inside we knew it was the one for us.


From the minute we bought it it released what I call ‘Magic Dust’ from the door as you entered. A blood pressure lowering effect happened the minute your foot hit the mat just inside the door. Our brains were full to busting with work problems, bills to pay, chores to do. We weren’t getting a healthy work/life balance. It’s calming properties equated to total relaxation. It’s ability to take away all the problems and pressures of every day life were amazing. 12 months later our little tin box was traded in for a bigger model, the Bailey Pursuit 560-5. Guess what! This too emitted my ‘Magic Dust’. The effect that caravanning had on transforming our lives was perfect. We have cut our hours at work to 4 days a week and chosen to work weekends, hours that most people don’t want.

 Our caravan is also TV free, we don’t have one!  I find at home, and it’s the same in most homes, that it’s always on. Not necessarily with the intention of watching a certain program, it’s just sits chunering away to itself in the corner and quashes family conversation. Going without TV means we talk to each other more than we do at home. Watching a sunset and mulling over the day’s events is so much better for the soul and helps to empty our minds. We do have the radio on from the minute our eyes open to the minute they close so we are still in touch with the world and its news. 


We manage to escape every other week for 2 nights within an hour or so of home. No household chores to do. Even washing up almost seems pleasurable. What do we get from our caravan? Now we choose to have our downtime either listening to the rain on our tin roof or sitting in the sunshine with a book. We get ‘us’ time, escapism, relaxation and fresh air. We get to choose the view from our front window. We get to see places we wouldn’t ordinarily visit. Going away mid week also means that we are mixing with like minded people, all in holiday mood, most of who have years of experience and miles under their belts. Regaling us with tales of weeks in Europe over the winter months only added to our appetite for more. Seeds were once again planted and the need to escape the rat race became stronger.

“In pursuit of a dream”, predictable title yes, and chosen to ensure the target remains in sight. What is the dream? Stop work, tour the UK and Europe, long term touring/living on the road, Caravan or Motorhome? All options remain open, and actually, why not have it all?  So, back to reality, we are knocking on the door of “50” and first target is to stop working in next five years and somehow survive on a budget balanced by the reward of freedom.  We repeatedly bounce back to the idea of Motorhome touring, mainly for the attraction of drifting randomly around Europe utilising “Wild” camping opportunities, whereby, the caravan requires a little more planning and longer stop-overs.  Lifelong devotees to either method of touring will give countless reasons for their chosen transport but we fully intend to enjoy both before our days are out.

We are not experts, but get one year more experienced each year (if my maths is right). What we do works for us and any advice is welcomed, we either follow it or ignore it (this is the “stating the obvious” paragraph).  We love meeting other tourers on our travels and compare “dreams”. Keep an eye out for the Pursuit and come say “Hello”

Back to our Northern Roots

Ten years ago we upped sticks from the familiarity of our native town of Bolton to Hampshire. 

Steve, at that time, was working for a big corporate company and a promotion meant a move south. 

This means that any trips back to see friends and family are normally just one or two night stays. Trying to catch up with people when time is so limited is hard and visits always feel rushed. 

240 miles and just less than 6 hours later we arrived in Bury, home to Bury Football Club, the famous Bury Market, black pudding and Burrs Country Park. Our little home from home for the next 9 nights in our Bailey Pursuit. 

 The approach to the site makes you wonder if you are going the right way. Heading through a housing estate you suddenly hit cobbles and almost instant countryside. Burrs Country Park Is an oasis of tranquility tucked away on the outskirts of a busy town. Met by the friendliest of wardens bursting with enthusiasm and information about the site and surrounding area, we set off hunting for a pitch. With a little bit of prior knowledge of the site, we knew that the East Lancs Railway skirts the edge of the site and we were hoping to get a pitch fronting onto the line. We were successful. A pitch with an uninterrupted view of any passing steam trains. 


Legs down, electric on. Lunchtime. Due to having worked late on the day before leaving I wasn’t as organised as I normally am. No food in for lunch, a food shop was needed. Needing to eat before we shopped we headed to the Brown Cow pub at the entrance to the site.  

Food eaten. Time to food shop. The Caravan Club site is a 10 minute drive or  a 30 minute walk to all the local amenities, supermarkets and the famous Bury Market, home to locally made Bury Black Pudding. 

Supplies stored away. A visit from my parents and a trundle around the adjacent country park. Reclaimed from an industrial past the park makes for an interesting walk but could do with plaques explaining what the various fenced off features once were.  We did find one information board but it could’ve easily been missed. The River Irwell slices through the park and local countryside with the trees and bushes on the banks still wearing the debris of recent flooding. A Walk into Summerseat In the afternoon sunshine showed us the true strength of the swollen River Irwell on Boxing Day of 2015. The Waterside pub, a 19th century inn completely washed away. 


On a previous caravan trip out. I’d seen a neighbour put out a cardboard cake stand and produce an afternoon tea for visiting relatives. After a quick visit to the amazon website a couple of weeks earlier I produced a pretty impressive afternoon tea for my mother in law one afternoon. I must admit it did look pretty impressive and was so pleased that I planned to treat my parents later on in our trip to one as well. 

From the site are numerous cycle paths and public footpaths and riding the tandem was quite enjoyable. We have ridden the tandem all over the UK and were pretty impressed with the cycling infrastructure in and around Bury. 

With the East Lancashire Railway on our doorstep a trip on the steam train was needed. We walked to the station in Bury. Purchased our tickets using the Caravan Club’s discount and headed down the platform. The stations along the line are all in keeping with the era of steam and were beautifully kept with volunteers all wearing traditional costume. 


We climbed into a carriage and on the whistle off we chugged. Slowly gliding out of the busy town we hit green fields with the occasional glimpse of the Irwell. The train steamed past the caravan site as we madly waved to children playing. First stop Ramsbottom, a lovely little town almost unspoiled by large retailers with many of the shops being owned by locals. Refuelled by lunch we hopped onboard and sped towards Rawtenstall and the end of the line. A slightly larger town than Ramsbottom, Rawtenstall is home to Fitzpatrick’s Temperance Bar. The last of its kind in Britain. 

The holiday draws to a close. After meeting up with 28 different family members and friends. We achieved what we wanted and saw as many people as we could in the given time.  There were still loads of people we would like to have met up with, we will try to catch up with them next time. 

Burrs Caravan Club site. Would we recommend it? Yes we would. Great wardens that are really helpful, very friendly and keep the site immaculate. Most pitches are level with with oodles of space. Club wifi is accessible across the site with good 4G coverage too. Great for dogs with plenty of walks close by. One very clean toilet block with spacious showers, laundry and dishwashing area. With first class views of the steam trains rumbling past a couple of times a day. The only thing I would say is that some pitches back onto the local pub beer garden which in the warmer weather could be a little noisy. A great site in the north west of England. 

April Showers in Cirencester

After trawling eBay for a few weeks we finally found an awning, in Gloucester! Only one thing for it, our 3 days off midweek are going to be spent in Cirencester.  We are quite lucky to have 3 days off during the week, every other week come hail or shine we try to get our Pursuit out, we don’t normally need an excuse.

Unlike other midweek trips out we are a little more organised this time. We booked a pitch at Cirencester Caravan Club site the day before. I even shopped for a few foody bits to take with us the night before. In true tradition though we packed in the hour before walking out of the house.

Legs up, hitched up and off on our journey. A couple of hours away, we normally wouldn’t go that far for two nights but we had a reason this time, a new to us awning. Our little Orion had a full Dorema awning. Since changing caravans we knew that for longer trips during the warmer months we would want the extra indoor/outdoor space. We had decided against another full awning as the Pursuit is so long we really didn’t need one quite that big. After being outbid on a few different makes we finally got a Sunncamp Platinum Ultra 390 Plus.

The Cirencester Caravan Club site is a little piece of tranquility on the outskirts of the hustle and bustle of the market town centre. Met and welcomed by a lovely warden who went through where the best pubs, restaurants and supermarkets were. A quick drive round the site we chose to head off towards the far side of the site. It neighbours with the local 6th form college which in itself seemed very quiet student wise, we were, however, very aware of the presence of scaffolding and builders. Even these turned out not to be a problem from our chosen pitch. Peace and quiet reigned supreme for both days and nights.

After a quick bite to eat we were back on the road to collect our awning. Safely stowed in the boot we headed back wondering on the way whether or not the wind was favourable for a very lightweight awning. Did we put it up? Of course we did!  Up it went with relative ease and no cross words. Never really understood why they are referred to as a ‘Divorce in a Bag’ we always seem to manage.


Instantly liked the extra space that the awning provided. It was going to mean that we could leave the table and chairs set up and also provides good storage for when we take the tandem away with us. The only disadvantage we found was waking up in the morning and having condensation dripping. Open to ideas on how to deal with this.

Notice boards around the site told us that local takeaway services visited the site. Pizza on Thursday and fish and chips on Tuesday. It would seem a shame not to wouldn’t it?  The van parked up near the information office at the entrance of the site and an orderly queue started to form. Having used takeaways on site once before I wondered if it would be the same kind of experience. It was. A very sociable queueing experience. We got chatting to a lovely gentleman from the north west, our neck of the woods, who laughed at my supposed northern/southern accent.  Having been an honorary southerner for 10 years I thought I’d hung onto my dulcet northern tones. Chatting always makes waiting pass quicker and as each customers food was cooked to order it didn’t seem like long before ours was ready. Back in the warm we prepared to tuck in. The portions were huge! I think my Fitbit is going to be showing a red day.

When we bought this caravan at the back end of 2015 we decided we would start a caravan log , noting total miles travelled, nights away, site costs etc. Decided that it would be great looking back over the year and seeing the amount of sites we visited, miles we drove and costs we spent. We always add a little note too about the site to remind us if it’s worth revisiting.  This midweek break was going to give us our 19th night away since November. With a good few more nights booked for May it’s looking good for 2016.

Wednesday brought showers, hail storms, wind and sunshine all in one day. Sitting with a cup of tea and Ken Bruce on radio 2 watching as people tried to dodge the four seasons in one day. On picking up the awning yesterday, we drove through a lovely little town, Minchinhampton, with Rodborough Common on the outskirts. A quick walk to get my Fitbit steps up to par revealed the most stunning views from what appeared to be the top of the world.


Lunchtime seemed to bring darker more threatening clouds, we headed towards a pub, The Ragged Cot, for lunch.  A really old pub that was once a hospital that boasted of visits of past Kings and Queens seemed like the perfect venue. After last nights big tea I’d decided on something light, a salad maybe. Swayed by the menu, salad wasn’t shouting out at me as loudly as it should have been. I ordered the pork chop.  It arrived in all its splendour, beautifully presented on a bed of chive mash. I wasn’t going to need tea tonight. After polishing that lot off we headed back for a little nap.


After our little nap and we were feeling refreshed and needing to walk off our rather heavy lunch. We looked at doing the short walk into town through the neighbouring Bathurst Estate. A beautiful 15 minute walk at the most into the centre of Cirencester.


No matter what I don’t think any amount of walking is going to burn off the calories consumed over the last couple of days but when when food is as good as it’s been as a one off treat I don’t mind. Cirencester is architecturally beautiful and for whatever reason I failed to get photos of the Cotswold Stone market town in all its splendour. Choosing to snap entrances to quaint courtyard shops and pub signs.

The showers continued on and off into the evening, fortunately we’d managed to dodge them all day without getting wet once. Final night in the caravan, always a bit sad. I get that Sunday night feeling on my last night knowing that life will return to normal tomorrow. I suppose as far as my diet is concerned that’s not a bad thing.

We wouldn’t normally put an awning up for just 2 nights but with it being new to us we felt it needed to go up so that we could check it out. After the showers of the day it was still wet, we decided to keep our fingers crossed for a dry morning tomorrow and take it down then. We were blessed, sunshine and a light breeze soon had it dry. Dropped and stored away back in its bag in no time at all. Legs up. Hitched up. Lights checked. Goodbye Cirencester thank you for a lovely couple of days.

Rookesbury Park

It’s been a few weeks since our last trip out. We tend not to go away when the schools are on holiday, so Easter made sure we stayed home for a little while.  Quite glad we didn’t go out over Easter, didn’t fancy being in the ‘van whilst Storm Katie was brewing. Easter brought the start of the season. All the sites are now open. Makes it so much easier going away for a couple of days knowing that you can pick and choose where you go. 

After a rough few weeks weather wise our first of three days off looked promising.  Blue skies with sunshine at 9am! Let’s go!  As organised as usual a last minute booking was required. Having quite a few Caravan Club sites in the area we decided to give their new app a go. Site and dates selected, press ‘book.’ Done. Rookesbury Park in Wickham here we come. 

Bit of shopping done, chemist visited down to the storage site legs are up and we are off. Rookesbury Park is easily reachable from home within the hour. Traffic on the A3 as we approached was at a standstill. Nifty little bit of reversing before the slip road and we headed out through the villages towards the next junction. Thankfully all clear at this point. 

Having been to this site before we had an idea of the area we like to be in. Met by extremely cheerful wardens, who even recommended a pitch. On our drive around, the said pitch proved to be very spacious with a lovely view. Not for me though, a little too quiet. I like a pitch were I can see what’s going on and have passing foot traffic, for the occasional chat. The site is a mix of grass and hard standing.  Due to the recent weather grass pitches were still out of order. Pitch chosen, legs down, chairs out, lunch in the sunshine. Not bad for an unorganised couple such as ourselves. The site is well equipped with a couple of extremely clean and spacious toilet blocks, complete with laundry and washing up facilities. 

 
Having recently decided that I’ve put a little bit of weight on I have been out in the last couple of weeks and treated myself to a Fitbit Charge. It was telling me that to reach my goal on my steps I needed to go for a walk. We headed off on a small walk around the site. A couple of minutes later we found ourselves wandering into the Forest of Bere. A beautiful woodland walk but quite muddy. 

 

Wednesday brought more sunshine. After a lazy morning and a light lunch we decided to head off to the recently recommended Old Winchester Hill. A car park at the top of the hill reassured me that there wouldn’t be much climbing involved. Boots on, off we went.  Meandering along the paths, revealed stunning views in all directions. True to form though the hubby decided to go the long way round, down a path through trees and down through more trees. All this walking downhill surely only means one thing! A long uphill climb back to the car. Sore legs, I achieved my step goal quite easily today on the Fitbit. 

  
Our final morning, glorious sunshine again. Having a 12pm departure time meant we were able to take our time and enjoy a final couple of hours before packing up. 

Time to finish my book. I’ve been reading Alan Bennett’s   The Lady in the Van. A short book that I found on offer. Fancy seeing the film and  I like to read the book before watching the film. A good read written in true Alan Bennett style. 

Time to pack up. We can normally pack up and be driving off the site in just less than an hour. Today was no different. Legs up, hitched up. Off we go. 

Sunshine break at Sandyballs 

The sunshine was shining as we lazily rose. Unprepared as usual, we were heading off for 5 lovely nights at Sandy Balls in the New Forest. This is going to be the longest that we have stayed in this new ‘van. So far the most we have stayed in it is 2 nights. We threw a few more clothes into the bag and off we went. As we have been away regularly over the winter months the ‘van is ready to go. We just need to get the legs up and hitch up.  
There is something strangely satisfying about heading out on a Sunday, one of our normal working days, when everyone else is heading home after their weekend breaks.  With a journey of not much more than an hour, we were arriving just after lunch. On our last trip here all was quiet, this time was different. Two weeks to go till Easter and people are definitely getting in the mood for the season. There was a queue of caravans waiting to check in. Check in swiftly done and we were on our way to our chosen pitch. 

 The site was open in its entirety this visit and bursting with caravans and motorhomes. The sunshine lifts the mood and people were out and about busying themselves and chatting. Another fully serviced pitch gets us to thinking that maybe we should think about buying the gubbins to have water on tap rather than filling the aqua roll.
When we purchased this ‘van back in November we also bought a canopy. Having used awnings before this went up with relative ease. I think it will come into its own when the sun has warmed the world up and the hubby wants to get into the shade whilst I soak up the rays. Kettle on, time to recharge. 

  
On further investigation of our home for the next 5 days leads me to the toilet block.  On our visit a few weeks ago this section of the site was still closed, so even though we were able to wander around the empty pitches we didn’t have access to the toilet block.  The block, with outside washing up facilities, was very modern with an abundance of, very clean, toilets, privacy cubicles and showers.  This block even boasts a conventional bathroom, complete with bath! A small trundle around now fully habited pitches showed a few cute little ‘vans and newly installed Safari tents that were so new and shiny waiting for their first guests over Easter. 

  

New book loaded on the kindle. Not a normal one of my choosing but was highly recommended so thought I’d give it a go. Richard Madeley’s  The Way You Look Tonight .   I thought I was in for an easy read, love story. The cover doesn’t really give much away and I would imagine that it gets over looked when people are choosing a book to read. Within the first few well written, extremely descriptive pages I was gripped. Then it took a twist, this wasn’t going to be a soppy love story after all. 

A quick trip into the park’s village centre for an internet fix and a little bit of shopping. The well stocked shop is open until 7pm in the evening and was able to provide the essentials needed to tide us over. Internet checked on one of the plentiful benches in the late afternoon sun, we headed back for something to eat. Spring is definitely here, we had daylight until around 6.30pm, so much nicer being able to keep the blinds open for longer. 

  
Monday dawned bright and early with more sunshine. Having breakfast watching Alpacas being taken for a walk is so much better than breakfast tv.

  
Having had really bad colds in the lead up to this break we decided a day mooching around the site and resting was the plan for today. Being a member of a couple of caravan related Facebook groups I’d discovered that a fellow member was going to be here whilst we were. Having exchanged pleasantries online we set out for a trundle to see if we could find them. Armed with the knowledge of the type of dogs they had, they were easily discovered. Two bouncy Labradors greeted us as we introduced ourselves. Conversation came easy and we promised to try to catch up later in the week.

Tuesday, it was decided was going to be a trip out. Having been away with work in October, I’d been lucky enough to visit    Chesil Beach . A bit of a drive away but wanted to share it with the hubby. The spit looked glorious on arrival in the March afternoon sunshine. We were able to drive up to the viewing point and spend some time soaking up the view. Heading away from the beach our destination was Portland Bill. Fields of Portland Stone lined the route there, plus the occasional town and village that reminded us of South West Scotland, with wide boulevards and attractive buildings. Portland Bill is the southern point of the island, dominated by a large and well maintained Lighthouse, The Lobster Pot cafe, a mini village of beach huts and numerous reminders of it’s industrial history. Walking along the densely fossil printed rocks at the sea’s edge you can’t miss the large precarious rock stack, Pulpit Rock, that kisses the mainland via an odd lean-to slab of rock. Forty-nine year old Hubby with dodgy back decided the teenagers that had considered/ignored the “at own risk” signs to summit the rock stack had gained a cool photo opportunity and immediately offered his car keys in case of imminent death, I opted for bribery of three ice creams for him to stay alive a little longer which he accepted to keep his feet on the mainland. I then reneged on my bribe and only bought us one ice cream each from the Lobster Pot, his bottom lip is still sticking out.

  
The following day brought an invite to the local on site pub for birthday celebratory drinks with our new found friends from the previously mentioned caravan group.  Lunch eaten and off we set.  Drinks ordered and sat down we settled getting to know each other and of course discuss caravans. It was really good listening to seasoned caravanners experiences and adventures.  Feeling slightly squiffy after a few sherbets we headed back to the caravan in time for tea.  Needless to say it was early to bed with no more alcohol. 

Thursday, our last full day, a cooked breakfast was the order of the day. Having decided on a previous trip out not to use the teppanyaki inside we took it out into the lovely morning sunshine, cooked and ate outdoors. Just delicious. 

  
Bellies full and a walk around the Sandy Balls estate was decided upon. Heading out of the touring site past a field of cows happily munching on their lunch we headed into the woodland.  A beautiful woodland trail took us through trees, over trees up hill and down dale revealing some breathtaking views.  Heading back makes tomorrow’s imminent departure that little bit closer.   A little bit down hearted as 5 nights really hasn’t been long enough. We didn’t try out their eateries or their leisure facilities.  In short, in order for a Sandyballs break to be relaxing and restful but to still get time to appreciate everything they have to offer,  I think you need to stay with them for at least a week.  We will definitely be back for another visit later in the year.