Woodstock, Winston and a Trip to the NEC

Excited to be going out in our Pursuit this week. We are heading a little further than we normally would for 2 nights, we are off to Woodstock. There is a reason, of course. The Motorhome and Caravan Show at the NEC.

An hour away from the NEC, we arrive at the Bladon Chains Caravan Club Site.  The site is part of the Blenheim Palace Estate. The palace also offers an entry discount to members staying at the club site. A short walk beyond the palace is the beautiful town of Woodstock. In the opposite direction from the site is Bladon, home to the final resting place of Winston Churchill. Within walking distance and well worth a visit, quite humbling to see someone of such standing laid to rest amongst his family away from the grandeur of London.

A lovely warden greets us in the small on site office. She explains that a few pitches are out of bounds due to being re seeded but that there are still plenty to choose from.  The site is slightly sloping and some units are using chocks. The pitch we choose is fine and soon we are set up and heading off on a trundle to Woodstock.  Heading through the dog walk we follow the public footpath through the Palace estate which leads to the beautiful town of Woodstock.

Wandering around the small town centre a small child alerts us to the fact that they have a vast array of door knockers. We aren’t sure if they are deliberately choosing elaborate and different door knockers, but they are quite unique. These alone inspired a completely separate blog, Door Knockers of Woodstock. Refuelling at one of the local hostellers we head back to watch the sunset over the Palace grounds.

Up and at’em the following morning. After being stung last year buying food at the NEC we were prepared this time and took a packed lunch, £3 meal deal each from the local shop, nothing homemade for me, I hate homemade butties. Supplies stowed in a back pack off we marched across the car park towards Caravan and Motorhome heaven. Inside people swarm all over this year’s new models. Middle bathrooms and an Australian Bailey prove a popular choice and have a steady stream of visitors all oohing and aahing over new concepts and ideas within. TV’s that drop down into the counter, soft touch cupboards, fancy LED lighting and even new 8 foot wide caravans, to top it all a Lego caravan that was built just a mile away from our home. There is even a ‘van that is only viewable by appointment only, holding a price tag if £300k+.

Being part of quite a large Twitter network of caravanners and as we entered I instantly spot a Twitter friend, Andrew Ditton. Being quite a prolific writer, blogger and vlogger he has camera in hand and is videoing. This reduces me to a fit of giggles which he records and includes in his vlog. So embarrassing really, my moment of fame and I don’t use it to my full advantage. What a wally! I was also able to meet and catch up with other Twitter friends The Trudgians who were involved in the series ‘Carry on Caravanning.’  So lovely to actually meet up with fellow tweeters in the real world. They did however make me feel a bit of a short arse, they are so tall!
We trampled through a few motorhomes, still undecided if that is the route we will take to pursue our dream trip of touring Europe for 12 months. We keep going back to Bailey and Autotrail. Whilst we liked the current models the 2017 models are definitely an improvement. On show and for sale are all manor of Caravan/Motorhome accessories, in fact anything you could ever want or think of will be here under the one roof. A perfect day out really for seasoned caravanners, relative newcomers and for those who simply want to see what all this fuss is about. The day is also quite child friendly with some stalls offering activities to keep little minds occupied whilst mum and dad can test their weary legs with a cuppa. And, trust me your legs will be weary.

It is by far the biggest collection of Motorhomes,Caravans and accessories that you could hope to see all under one roof. Which in itself is an added bonus. We recently attended an outdoor show and with our Great British weather this isn’t always a good thing. For those who feel that the show really is too big to do in just one day and would like a little longer to stroll around taking in the stalls then they also have areas for you to stay in your caravan, actually at the NEC with a free shuttle bus running regularly between your caravan and the venue.

6 O’Clock is approaching and the day is almost at its end. Last year we got stuck in the biggest traffic jam ever as the world and his wife all departed the Exhibition Centre together and an accident made matters worse. All traffic was redirected and sent in the same direction. Determined to learn by our mistake last year we settled into a seat with a sigh in the Wetherspoons within the arena. Tables were still quite plentiful and the feet were aching. The menu offered classics off their normal extensive menu, orders placed, drinks ordered. Time to sit for a while and just watch the world of caravanners go by. The largest portion of fish and chips arrived and was quite quickly demolished just in time really as all the stall holders started to arrive looking for well earned refreshments. Feeling refreshed we were able to give up our table for the tired folk who make the show possible.

Thursday morning dawned a bit wet and miserable. Time to pack up and go home. It’s always with a heavy heart that I wake up on our final day. Oh well. Onwards and upwards. Not many weeks left till our November break on the Welsh border.

Door Knockers of Woodstock 

Off out again for 2 nights. This time we are off to Bladon Chains Caravan Club Site.  We are here for a reason, but that’s another blog.

Pitched up and set up we decide to head off for a walk in the mid October sunshine. Only a mile outside of Woodstock and on the doorstep of Blenheim Palace off we went.

In Woodstock we noticed their vast array of door knockers and hope that no one else has blogged about it.

Littlehampton and a Trundle to Arundel 

Our midweek weekend again and the sun is shining, it’s a lovely 18 degrees as we set off for Littlehampton Caravan Club site.  This is the first time we will have used our newly adapted bed. Having an end dinette that we leave made up as a huge bed, which we have been finding a bit uncomfortable, we decided to turn it into a fixed unit. Leaving the main structure and adding bed slats to a frame that lifts for easy access to the storage space underneath. Still using the seat cushions on this trip as we eagerly await delivery of our new mattress and gas struts so on this trip I’m not expecting miracles.

50 or so miles later and we are pulling into the site entrance. Greeted by a rather jovial warden we set off in search of a pitch. A small herb garden by the warden’s office still showed the last of the summer’s crops.

Relatively busy for October we headed towards the hard standing area. Grass pitches are now off limits. They also have fully serviced pitches for an extra cost. We chose a pitch and started to reverse, it was then we noticed a row of about half a dozen Horse Chestnut trees lining the fence behind the pitch. All around lay an abundance of some of the biggest conkers I’ve ever seen. Decision made to find another pitch, last thing we want is dints in the caravan roof as they hail down for the next 2 days.

Blue jobs and pink jobs done, the switch on the kettle is flicked on. Time for the midweek weekend to begin.

A wander around the site, not a very big site only 108 pitches with just 60 in use at the moment. A lovely and warm toilet block stands centrally on the site with a small children play area with a designated dog walking area to one side of the site and to keep me happy they have wifi. I love to wander on site as dusk settles and lights start to go on, sneaking a peek into caravans, like a small snapshot of people’s lives.

The following morning I awoke with a bad back. The cushions that serve as a mattress really are so firm I get out of bed walking like my grandma used to. Really can’t wait for the new mattress to arrive.

To straighten and ease my back the Boss decides a little light exercise is what I need. A small walk. Butties made, walking boots on and a chance to try out our new rucksack that we won in a raffle ‘five!!’ years ago. This rucksack has more zips than a punk rockers trousers, we are still finding them, but most importantly, has detailed instructions on the inner lining to summon assistance worldwide including the appropriate arm and body signals for helicopter pilots to land or not in an emergency, with this information to hand we felt it safe enough to venture off site. Heading off site we pay a quick visit to the on site tourist information hut. They have a few A4 sheets with typed directions for local walks. The Boss quickly grabs one and off we trot.

Following the directions we plod through fields of angry looking cows. I try to tell him that cows have stampeded and killed people in the past. He tells me the cows are angry because of the attention the bull in the corner has been giving them. Maybe they’ve had enough of his company. Not interested in hanging around my pace soon speeds up when they start to move. The walk brings us out at Arundel train station. We can see Arundel Castle, surely it would be a crime to walk all this way and get so close and not visit Arundel itself. A quick mooch about and a packed lunch eaten by the side of the river. Listening to a class of primary school children being given a history lesson we discovered that people born in Arundel are known as mullets.

Still not satisfied that we had walked enough off marches the Boss along the River Arun with promises of a pint at a pub on the banks. My feet are starting to hurt now, as are my hips. Apparently if I put as much energy into walking as I do complaining I’ll get there faster. The pub is further away than he thought and my moaning just continues. I’ve got to walk all that way back.

Out of the reeds emerges the most beautiful riverside pub, The Black Rabbit, just as a helicopter appears and circles twice around our position, surely we didn’t activate the rucksack helicopter ‘red button’ as we retrieved our Beef & Onion butties earlier, we resisted the chance to deploy our newly learned arm signals as they would have assumed us drunkards. Aches and pains forgotten, I eagerly await my pint of Badger ‘Glorious Game’ ale after all this walking a half wouldn’t be reward enough surely. A quick visit to the loo before we left revealed very plush decoration with old film stars on the back of each door. Much better than the usual adverts for incontinence pads and underwear.

On returning to the caravan we were more than happy to get our boots off. My Fitbit is telling me that we’ve walked 9 miles. A quick sit down in the late afternoon sunshine then realising we were starving we retreated indoors to put the tea on.

A couple of cheeky vimtos and I slept like a log, until 5.30am when the guy opposite decided he was packing up to ho home. Having observed our neighbours over the last couple of days we thought maybe he was working in the local area whilst staying on site. Banging around emptying his loo, waste water etc. Engine running whilst he hitched up I quietly prayed that the gates were locked until a more decent hour. Sadly they must’ve opened for him as he didn’t return.

Having picked up some Blue Diamond Eco Friendly toilet paper for this trip we had hoped to have used the loo more to be able to compare it to our regular choice of toilet paper. Unfortunately we’ve used the toilet block and are only going to be going to the chemical disposal once on this trip so can’t really give a verdict on our preference.

Blue jobs and pink jobs done, time for us to hitch the Volvo up to the Pursuit. Having used the motor mover on Tuesday when we set up we now needed the remote control as the mover mechanism was not retracted from the wheels, dooh!, we were going nowhere until the wheels were freed. The remote control appeared to be playing a naughty game of hide and seek. Caravan and car were turned upside down, twice. The remote was proving to have found a good hiding place. As tempers started to give way the Boss spotted it on the car between the windscreen and bonnet. It must’ve been there since Tuesday. Good job it hadn’t rained. I tried to hide my joy that the Boss was the last one to touch it, I will lodge the incident in memory as a credit in case I do similar next trip.

3M Command Hooks

My latest idea of space saving and tidying up was 3M Command Hooks. Not having anywhere in the bathroom to hang our towels whilst showering was the first port of call.

The hooks come with double sided sticky pads that attach to a small hanging plate. Firstly, you have to make sure that the surface to which the hook is to be placed on is clean and dry. Then, attach the sticky pad to the hanging plate holding firmly for 10 second. Next, remove the clearly marked ‘wall side’ sticker and press firmly onto the spot where you are going to put the hook. Holding it firmly in place for about 30 seconds. Leaving this for an hour the hook is then ready to use.

The hooks come in a variety of weight bearing loads for an array of different uses. You have a choice of white or clear hooks so that for hanging small plaques etc they would be almost invisible.

Before we put anymore up I really did want to check that they were removable without leaving the sticky mess on my walls, doors and cupboards that these type of hooks normally leave behind. Sliding the hook up and off there is a small tab at the base of the sticky pad. Grasping this pad firmly and pulling straight down the pad did come cleanly away leaving absolutely no mess at all.

Satisfied that they actually did what they said they would off I went on a sticking frenzy.

Two hooks were stuck into the inside of the shower. Perfect for hanging wet coats out of the way over winter. Four hooks went inside one of my kitchen cupboard doors. My cooking utensils take up so much valuable cupboard space. This is now perfect.

Hooks were also added in our bedroom for our fleece jackets. They take up so much room in the wardrobe, now releasing space for me to take more clothes away with us.

Would I use them again? Definitely. They do what they say on the packet. They come in various sizes all with weight guidelines and details of what they are best used for.  Priced between £3 – £4 a pack I think they are fantastic value for money too. Having used various makes of hooks over the years. I’ve always been disappointed when in the end the hooks fell off leaving behind an unsightly mess which was nigh on impossible to remove. 3M Command Hooks have answered my prayers. I’m am now finding myself walking round wondering what else I can hang. I think my next trip will be to the shops to buy more hooks for our house.

Somerset in September 

My humans are back again. For a change I thought I’d write this blog instead of letting them do it. Let me introduce myself, I’m a Bailey Pursuit 560-5 and I own two humans. They normally come to visit me on their own, on one occasion though they did bring their two grown up daughters with them. I don’t have a name, they don’t seem to name their belongings, apart from Louis, their tandem, who for some reason, has been named after one of the chimps in the PG Tips adverts. We are just the Volvo and the Bailey to them. The Volvo is full to busting. Must mean we are off for a good few days this time. Normally they travel quite light for our regular 2 night trips out. Hopefully we are off somewhere quiet. Having around 300 ‘vans on the storage site doesn’t give me much peace and quiet.

My fridge is on and packed. They lift my legs and hitch me up to the Volvo and off we rumble. The storage site is looking quite empty considering the kids are back at school this week.

Heading towards Basingstoke we then aimed towards the M4. Looks like they are taking me further afield than normal. Quick service stop, they obviously need a wee and some grub. Out comes my step, not grabbing a quick McDonalds then. In they hop and settle themselves down with a chicken wrap! My, they are being good. It won’t last. My female wanders over to the service station for the loos, claiming she needs the steps for her Fitbit. Bet she doesn’t have many days reaching her step goals on this trip. My male doesn’t care about the steps. Into my bathroom he goes. Complaining that my wastemaster is In his way.

Off we go again. Turning onto the M5 they head me towards Weston Super Mare. They decide to turn me into the tightest single track roads all uphill, I hope we don’t meet anyone coming the other way.

Tight left turn, God I hope he remembers I’m behind him. Gorselands Caravan Club CL is signposted, we must be here. We head left to the Caravan Club side of the site. Another field, with a fair few trees, for C&CC members meanders to the right, I’m glad we aren’t going over to that side, they gave me a good scrub a couple of weeks ago and with tree cover comes sap and bird droppings, non of which I want on my squeaky clean roof. I do have a fair few dead flies from the trip splattered on my front window, I hope they spot them and give it a wash.

The CC side is quite a large space with room for 5 ‘vans. There are 2 already here with pitches looking onto the distant coast line of Weston Super Mare. They choose a pitch also looking out to the coastline with views of Newport, Cardiff and the Breacon Beacons in the far distance on a clear day, I think I’ll settle here.

My feet are lowered into soft grass. My male goes in search of the wooden blocks he has used in the past. With a bit of cursing he realises that on the last service they went into the garage and must still be there. Probably along with the map book he is grumbling about.
My female goes exploring and comes back with a face on, northern term meaning she’s not happy. Announcing that she isn’t keen on the loos and having to pay 20p for hot water. There are only 2 unisex bathrooms between the CC & C& CC and what with them being a little bit old and having to do the walk of shame with loo roll in hand, it isn’t provided here, she is being a bit of a grump. I’m not sure why, my bathroom is lovely and my shower is really good. After elefooting about for a bit she decides my facilities will be used for her daily ablutions. Not sure why it took her so long to decide really, it’s my male that does all the emptying.

Couple of nights in and she’s complaining about the bed. They’ve turned my end dinette into a permanent bed and she’s moaning it’s giving her a bad back. I think if they take me away for weeks on end like they keep threatening the cushions will be in the garage and a mattress in situ. To keep her happy my male takes the bed to pieces and does some tetris with my cushions.

It’s blowing a hoolie outside and they are talking about taking a trip into Weston Super Mare. Looks like I’ll be able to have a bit of peace and quiet whilst they are gone. Maybe even a little snooze.

They’re back, full of chat about the walk along the front that blew the cobwebs away. My female wanted a walk along the Grand Pier and is still going on about how she won’t pay a £1 for the pleasure. She is so tight. Saying every penny not spent is going into the running away fund. Instead of walking on the pier it sounds like they walked under it. Wierdos.

Sounds like they liked the prom don’t think they were blown away with the town. They did nip into a well known burger bar for a cup of tea and some wifi. I think the digital detox that the site is making her endure is killing her.
The wind is still howling round the site and battering my awning and shaking me to the point I feel that if I could be sick I would. Any drop in the wind brings the insects out, all clammering to get into my awning. Little feet tickling my roof as they bat around aimlessly. Point to note, my front window still bears the fly road kill from my journey here.

They are talking about visiting the Camperex Motorhome Show at Bath and West Showground. Is there something I should know? Why would they go to a Motorhome show? The weather wasn’t looking too good when they left and true to form and my female not liking the rain, they weren’t gone long. Grumbling about the majority of the stock being second hand when they wanted to see the new models. Not to mention moaning about the rain. I’ve heard them talking about their dream of travelling the UK and Europe, feeling a little bit left out to think I may not be part of those plans.

The female slept well last night after even more cushion Tetris. I’ve no idea how she slept through the storm that spent the night trying to blow my awning inside out and throwing an unbelievable amount of rain at us. One consolation, it washed the flies off my front window.

They are discussing whether to go and watch The Tour of Britain. It’s in Bristol today so not far for them in the car. The male changed a headlight bulb and off they went. On their return, headlight bulb has blown again, all they can talk about is how close they got and what great views they got from the Clifton Suspension Bridge built in the 19th century. A giant screen had been placed at the top of the Mall showing the race in full. They said it was a lovely atmosphere with people partying and drinking champagne whilst watching Rohan Dennis win yesterday’s stage of the race. The weather stayed nice for them, thankfully, some moaning would have had to have been listened to if she’d got wet.

On their return the female produced packs of 3M Command Hooks that she had been planning to deface my lovely walls and doors with. She reassured me and the male that the sticky pads that fastened the hooks to my walls could be removed leaving no mess behind. Off she set. Hooks up for towels, coats even on the inside of one of my cupboard doors for cooking utensils, I do like the idea of those being hung neatly. They are too big for one of my drawers and take up valuable room in one of my cupboards. An hour after hanging the hooks they were ready for the test drive. I must admit they do seem to be a good idea, freeing up lots of cupboard space. With lots of different sizes and weight bearing limits they do seem to tick lots of boxes.

Hottest day of September since 1911 scorches the UK with temperatures registering 32 degrees over towards Gatwick. Whilst I’m sitting here in North Somerset with the rain beating down on me, lightning flashing and thunder booming all around. I must admit sitting atop Bleadon Hill in such a storm did make me wonder how safe my humans and I were. The final remains of fly road kill were washed away with gusto. My awning roof bulged under an ever increasing puddle, causing my female to go out there with a plastic ladle pushing the water off from inside. My groundsheet has started squelching underfoot. All they can do is sit, steaming cups of tea in hand, staring out of the window. I’m sure they’ve seen rain before. The storm rumbles on above for a few hours causing major downpours on and off. Suddenly we’re forced to go ‘off grid’. The storm has caused a power cut. My fridge is hastily flicked onto gas. Off goes the male to seek out the owner to be told the entire area is down and they aren’t sure how long for. Quite funny watching a neighbouring house with electric gates unable to let a visitor in. We’ll be fine. I can look after my humans without electricity.

After the rain came the slugs. Hundreds of the little blighters. All mooching around my steadies. Heaven forbid how I’ll feel if one crawls up my leg.

The next day brought wall to wall sunshine. My awning has been unpegged and allowed to blow in the breeze. This normally means one thing. Nearly time to go home. The awning is packed away, it’s nice to feel the sunshine on my walls. Still relatively clean after the storm, I settle back to rest and sparkle in the afternoon sunshine.

They choose to sit. Feet up, facing the sun. Bottles of beer in hand. They start to chat. Plans for a long trip next summer, sounds too like I’m included in the action. They’ve booked me in for a service too towards they end of the year. That’ll be fun watching them empty my belongings.

Would I come again? I feel for the price of the site the shower/facilities should be more appealing and loo roll, soap and hand drying a must. Lack of wifi, 4G and intermittent phone signal also a bit of a negative for the price. Lovely peaceful site but very windy. I’ve enjoyed looking after my humans here but feel for £18 a night they deserve some luxuries for this price and that it’s quite costly for just EHU and chemical disposal as they didn’t use the toilets and showers.

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.


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.