Caravan Travels in the UK 2019

Cambridge

Sunday 24th February. Our first trip away in 2019. We seem to have had a fair bit going on this year up until now so difficult to string together enough consecutive days for a trip away. We found the days we needed and arranged a four day trip to the CMC site at Cherry Hinton on the edge of Cambridge. We have been to this site a couple of times before but it has been ten years since our last visit.

The talking point of the moment is the weather and for a change for all the right reasons!!! Some might say that our weather patterns are all over the place at the moment with the Gulf Stream dragging hot air up from the Canary Islands. So it was that we set off from MK in glorious sunshine with the outside temperature showing as 16 degrees on the dashboard. Our usual route from home is to use the A509 which runs parallel to the M1 which it then crosses to become the A421 all the way to Cambridge if you ignore a short stretch of the A1! The A509 is currently being converted to dual carriageway but there is not a lot of evidence, apart from some groundwork's, not a lot happening as yet. There was a surprising amount of traffic around as our journey progressed although only a few wagons. The suggested route to the site has changed since our last visit. You are told to travel around the top of Cambridge on the A14 and drop down to the site via Cambridge Airport and Fulbourn. We made it without much difficulty but would be uncertain about going back the same way on to the A14 on a weekday!

The Cherry Hinton site is much as we remember it from ten years ago when we were last here although I think some parts may have grown up a bit. Unlike many sites there is no easy access if you make a mistake as there is nowhere to turn so you have to hope there is a free pitch to reverse onto. Thanks to the lady in reception we were able to change from our booked awning pitch to a non-awning pitch and found a nice one in full sun and near the toilet block to boot.

Monday 25th February. Another brilliant day weather wise, cloudless skies all day. The dilemma is what to wear because when you leave it could still be quite cool but within an hour a fleece could be a hindrance! We caught the bus into Cambridge today. En route we stopped off to visit the Cambridge Botanic Gardens. They have an interesting feature called the Winter Garden which demonstrates that you can have colour in the garden during the winter. It was also interesting to see all the Snowdrops that had gone over so soon, no doubt due to the milder weather this year. The Gardens are obviously popular with the public. There is a rather good café that did a rather nice bacon and egg sandwich! Fortified we set off to find the River Cam which was a shortish walk from the Botanic Gardens. There were even a few punts on the river, mind you given the number of punts stacked on the banks it would be chaotic when they are all on the river! Cambridge is a place that buzzes with young people, 80% of the population seems to be under 25! You could be rubbing shoulders with a future Prime Minister, a famous future scientist or a World Leader such is the talent you could be standing next to. Before making our way back to the bus we called into the Grand Arcade for a cup of tea.

Tuesday 26th February. What can I say the amazing weather continues with clear blue skies and warm sunshine. Back into Cambridge today to explore a bit more. To be honest, unless there is a particular need,  we are not crack of dawn people and it is often late morning when we get round to going anywhere. As we approached the bus stop we saw our bus sail by. Fortunately it is a ten minute service so not long to wait. Quite hot in the direct sunshine as we waited. The bus dropped us off outside the Grand Arcade so it seemed a good excuse to nip into JL for a coffee and a scone. The plan was to find the “Backs” so that we could view the other side of all the famous colleges. What we soon discovered was that many of the colleges were closed to the public. This is perfectly understandable from an academia point of view but it also means that the public are denied access to many of the riverside walks nearest the colleges. There are some where access is possible, like Trinity but other entrances to the Parkland were guarded by Porters there to stop the public. This means that you have to be prepared to double back on your walk in order to make progress. The plan had been to make our way round to Jesus Lock on the River Cam but still suffering the effects of yesterday’s explore we decided to call it a day. Such a shame that the Council and the Colleges can’t get together to grant more access without it interfering the students studying.

Wednesday 27th February. At the risk of being repetitive we awoke to another brilliant sunny day, obviously cold at first but the unseasonable heat builds during the day. Margaret is sitting outside reading her book at midday. According to the forecast this might be that last day this week of such wonderful weather but we go home tomorrow so not so important! We are having a lazier day today as hiking round Cambridge for two days running has taken a bit of a toll on our knees! I suppose a problem with shorter breaks away as you feel you need to cram in as much as to can, perhaps on a longer holiday you can afford to be more measured?

Late afternoon we walked down to Cherry Hinton. I seemed to recall from previous visits there being more there but either we were looking in the wrong place or my memory was faulty! One thing that was still there was the Robin Hood pub where we enjoyed a very nice meal at reasonable cost.

Thursday 28th February. Much duller today as we prepare to leave the site and noticeably cooler. We decided to risk not using the Club route instructions and instead followed the road out to Trumpington and south to the M11. It seemed a perfectly good route outside of the rush hour. About halfway home it started to rain which resulted in lots of muck being thrown up onto the motorhome so that will need a good clean!

This break away has is a bit of a Swan Song for our current Bailey 740 SE motorhome which we have owned for the past six years. In a little over a week we will swap it for a new motorhome which will be a bit more compact but hopefully still spacious enough to be comfortable. Not once in the six years, and 446 nights, of ownership have we taken the current motorhome off site as we have deemed it to be too large. Perhaps with the new one we will be a bit braver in that respect?

Moreton in Marsh

Friday 22nd March 2019. This is our first trip away in our new motorhome so we plan not to travel far to the CMC site at Moreton in Marsh. It is a site we have been to many times before. Given that the old motorhome was so much bigger than the new and we had done the same route before it was not without a degree of nervousness that we made the journey. We even attempted to have a coffee stop at Buzzy Beans but the layby south of Adderbury was so full we couldn’t park! We arrived at the site unscathed at not long after midday so we joined the initial rush of weekend arrivals. There were plenty of free pitches but they are a bit on the small side here at Moreton in Marsh.

After some lunch we decided to have a wander around the site. Several Club sites now have camping pods and the like. Here at Moreton in Marsh they seemed to have moved to a new level with a group of ten Glamping Pods. Difficult to work out how much the investment  cost but I suspect there wasn’t much change out of half a million pounds. That is a considerable investment. I suspect some caravanners and motorhomers might question whether that investment was spent in the right place?  After all this site is crying out for its own investment. The quality and size of the pitches is way below the best in the network. There are no serviced pitches which are very popular now and of course the motorhome service points have not been converted to the new open grid type dump points.

Saturday 23rd March. A much sunnier day today, although there was still a chill wind. Strangely what I mentioned yesterday about the motorhome waste points, I think someone must have been listening as notices have appeared all around the site saying that work will start on Monday to convert the current motorhome waste point to the drive over variety, but only on the western side of the site. So half good news, however the notices were more of a warning of disruption and noise rather than being celebratory! OK for us as we leave on Monday! On second reading I am not sure if it is only one being converted or both?

In the morning we walked into Moreton in Marsh. It is always a pleasant place to visit and it was busy with visitors. We walked up through the town to the Budgens at the far end of the High Street where we got a bit of shopping and had a coffee. It was interesting to observe how many of the customers were using Waitrose “bags for life”, obviously a lot of local frustrated Waitrose customers in Moreton in Marsh!

Back at the van I set about the usual services. The new van is quite different from the old one in how things are set up. Firstly there is no facility to use an Aquaroll so unless filling up at a service point I now use a watering can to top up with. This is no hardship, just a bit different. One of the biggest difference is that we are , after nine years, back to making up beds. This obviously takes up a bit more time but I am sure we will get into a routine.

Sunday 24th March. Beautifully sunny day today but still a chill wind, at least it allowed us to sit out for a while. Apart from a couple of walks around the site that was the extent of our exertions today! The point of this short trip away was to familiarise ourselves with the new van which we are gradually getting to terms with. I had a bit of a wobble this morning when I thought I was going to get a cold shower! The orientation of the shower mixer, despite being the same model as the previous van, is different so not so easy to work out how far it needs to be turned to get hot water. Margaret managed perfectly well!!! Something we never did in the last van but with this one we have been leaving the heating on overnight. I thought the internal temperature sensor was over reading although when I tested it against a standalone one it was only by a degree or two. As a consequence I have found you need to set the required temperature a little higher than you would think necessary. In time it will all become second nature and as spring and summer progresses less required. Haven’t completely fathomed out how the programming of the heating works yet!

Monday 25th March. We go home today. On the theme of getting used to the new motorhome another major change is moving away from a fixed bed to two singles. This of course creates more work but after three nights we seem to have got a system which doesn’t take a lot of time.

By the time we had left the site there was no sign of the previously mentioned work starting! We decided to take a slightly different route back home via Banbury. On reflection I don’t think it is any better and I don’t think we will use it again. We left the M40 at junction 10 and decided to try the Cherwell Valley Services. They do have quite a big area devoted to caravans and motorhomes but, of course, it is a long way from the actual services. We got home just as the bin lorry arrived so I backed up on the pavement to allow him room.

Taunton

Sunday 28th April. It’s been something of a week! A few days ago we were in the throes of having a new central heating boiler installed. It was a big job and took three days which meant there was little else we could do but keep out of the way of the engineer! One downside was having to be up and ready for the engineer to arrive by 8.00am, quite a challenge when we are usually only just thinking about getting up by then! With the work finished and some clearing up done we could at long last concentrate on our trip to Taunton.

Back to the getting up early theme we were ready to leave by 10.00am. It was a familiar route from MK down to Oxford and then off on the Swindon road to join the M4. Because I am unsure of the economy of the new van I decided to top up with fuel at Buckingham en route. We made a stop at Leigh Delaware services for a coffee. The M5 past Bristol was very busy but as we got further South it got a bit quieter. A comfort break at Sedgemoor. It was good to see proper caravan/motorhome parking. We eventually arrived at Cornish Farm at around 2.30pm. Wasn’t particularly taken with the warden but then we are only here for two nights!

Monday 29th April. Another early start today as we had to drop the motorhome off at VanBitz to have an alarm fitted plus something called a Battery Master which keeps both batteries topped up when on mains or when producing electricity from the solar panel. At least we only had to drive a couple of hundred yards to get there! We went through the work with Nick from VanBitz and agreed where various LED’s would be put. Obviously VanBitz don’t want customers hanging around all day so they give customers a lift into Taunton. It’s quite a lot of time to kill but first off we discovered Vivardy Park which as well as being a formal park also has a golf course and a large high level adventure playground. Walking back into town we stopped at a specialist tea/coffee shop for a coffee and a toasted tea cake, breakfast seemed so far away! Taunton has a pretty good range of shops. We did think to re-visit the rather good museum in Taunton but we found that on Monday it was closed. By now it was lunchtime so we had a meal on a pub chain famous for good value meals! Two mains and drinks £17! Still only 2.00pm but we decided to get a taxi back and walked down to the taxi rank. Five years ago we paid a tenner for a taxi ride back to VanBitz so we were a bit concerned that it might cost even more but it cost just less than eight pounds! Mind you that eight pounds paled into complete insignificance compared to the bill we were about to get for the work being done on the motorhome!

Cirencester

Tuesday 30th April. We left Cornish Farm today and we headed for the CMC site at Cirencester which is a 90 mile journey.  After a couple of stops we arrived at the site around 12.30pm. We had booked a service pitch so that we had the opportunity to test everything out on the van. The problem was that the pitch had quite a slope on it and despite using a leveller we could do with more. Just don’t know how a hardstanding pitch can be made which is not level! The weather was better today and a bit warmer. Using the roof top aerial I could not get all TV stations so decided to try the bollard co-ax connection. I immediately run into a difficulty as there was an F socket type connection into the van. Having had a hunt around I managed to find a suitable connection. Not all channels perfect but we managed. 

Wednesday 1st May. Well, we made the decision to go home two days earlier than planned. For the last two weeks I have had a nasty cough and nothing I do seems to have any positive affect on making it better. Given that such things shouldn’t go on for so long without further investigation I went off to Reception to let them know. Unfortunately we will lose one nights site fees but that is better than losing two! (went to the doctor on Thursday who confirmed an infection so decision proved to be the right one!)

Rather than head back via Swindon and Oxford we took the road north via Moreton in Marsh. Thereby lays a problem. The inbuilt sat nav had proved pretty good up to this point but putting Moreton in Marsh as a waypoint seemed to confuse the sat nav! It wanted to take us east quite a bit further south of the town. Just as well we knew the route. Some of the roads being suggested were totally unsuitable! Just past Deddington we called into the layby where Buzzy Beans sells coffee before completing the journey home.

Beccles

Friday 31st May. Do you ever feel things conspire against you? The last trip didn’t turn out as expected as I was ill and we had to come home early! Between that trip and this we have been redecorating the parts of the house where the old central boiler was and painting its new home. We have had a family birthday so getting away earlier has proved difficult. We have also been having problems with our internet supplier where we nearly lost our 40 year old cherished landline number! Fortunately that was restored just before we left today. To cap it all, yesterday evening I broke a tooth! So first job this morning was to get to the dentist for an emergency appointment. Fortunately my usual dentist had, had a cancellation so by 9.00am I was back home.

Despite this it didn’t seem to delay us which was good and we were away from home by about half past ten. We were heading for Beccles in Suffolk to a CL in a boatyard on the River Waveney. It’s a long time since we used a CL which incidentally was also a boatyard! Sixty pounds for four nights seemed an absolute bargain compared to the prices of some Club sites in what is a school holiday week!  We always take a double intake of breath when heading for the A14 round Cambridge but I suppose because of the school holidays it was not too bad. The same couldn’t be said for the west bound traffic! The real problem really is the lack of service areas. There is one called Newmarket Heath which really has no parking for anything larger than a car. From Bury St Edmunds the route is the A143 which like the curates egg is good in parts.

We arrived at the CL at just before 2.00pm. Simon the owner showed me round and was OK with me parking the motorhome front wheels on the hardstanding of the car park. We are one of four units on the CL. Whilst some purists might say that Beccles is not strictly the Norfolk Broads the Waveney is part of the river system associated with the Broads. Some people seem to like CL’s out in the middle of the countryside, miles from nowhere. That is not for us, we want CL’s that are within walking distance of something as this one is.

Saturday 1st May. We awoke to a beautifully sunny day. After breakfast we walked into the delightful small town of Beccles. I somehow doubt it looks much different to what it did 100 years ago? An interesting mix of styles including from the Dutch which is quite common in the East of England. Firstly we had a walk round to the Yacht Station. As far as I know this is a purely Norfolk Broads phenomenon as there are several dotted around the Broads system. Basically they provide overnight moorings for all the hire craft from all around the Broads. One of the first holidays I had was on the Norfolk Broads when three of us lads hired Delight 11 from Herbert Woods at Potter Heigham. This was the first of quite a few holidays on the Broads, the last one when Paul was about three and Simon about one, we weren’t sure at that stage whether water and young lads mixed!!! After that it was caravanning and as they say the rest is history.

From the Yacht Station walked up into the town which was a steady uphill climb in the heat. There is a small bus station area as you enter the town centre and we were surprised to find a red London Routemaster bus parked there. Closer inspection showed that it was picking up wedding guests from the town! Beccles seemed quite a busy little place. Interestingly the church bell tower is separate from the church and is Landmark which can be seen from a long way off. By now we needed a coffee but we had almost given up hope when we came across a rather nice coffee shop in a building which had previously been a men’s outfitters and tailor. They had thoughtfully kept some of the props as interior decoration. Continuing our exploration we came across a supermarket that at first we thought was a Tesco but it was in fact Roys. Now Roys of Wroxham are well known in these parts so we had a look round and got a few bits. Now laden with shopping we made our way back to the CL and spent a relaxing afternoon sitting under the sun shade!

Sunday 2nd June. A really hot day today and muggy. We didn’t wander too far, just back down to the Yacht Station to have a look at the comings and goings of the boats. We picked up a coffee at the Station which to be truthful was not very nice, perhaps it was the polystyrene cup! We walked up to the main river which was quite busy with boats. One thing surprised us was that some of the people from the large hire boats were our age and clearly many had problems getting on and off their boats. I suspect they still think of themselves as teenagers!

Back at the CL we had a problem finding somewhere in the shade as it was a bit windy to put the canopy out so we moved to the perimeter of the CL where these was some shade from the trees. It was just a shame they decided this was a good day to cut the grass rather than leaving us in peace to enjoy our Sunday afternoon! There are only three units on site at the moment, two caravans and ourselves. The couple that arrived yesterday are here for two weeks. I think the last time we spent two weeks in one place was 2002! Contrary to William Henry Davies poem we do have time to stand and stare. I noticed that every time the people opposite us (they left today) went out, either by foot or car they would lock the caravan and then deposit the respective keys into the unlocked front caravan locker. It had me musing why they would do that, surely caravan keys are not so bulky that they can’t be carried with you?

Monday 3rd June. Another nice day today weather wise but fortunately not so hot. We took the bus into Lowestoft today. The town is only about eight miles away as the crow flies but as the bus is not  a crow it did have an X service number which I had always understood to be a fast service? How wrong I was, it went round so many estates en route it took an age! I am sorry to say that we found Lowestoft quite a dreary place. Even the Seagulls have no respect as they nest on ledges of buildings that have seen better days. Interestingly they even made use of those long spikes, designed to keep them off, as foundations for the nests!!!  However crossing the Bascule Bridge to the South Beach makes a massive transformation.  The lovely wide promenade, ironically part financed by the EU in this most Brexit of places!   Beautiful sandy beaches, although no longer rated as a Blue Flag beach. We were rather taken with a restaurant called The Hatfield Hotel which had taken full advantage of its position overlooking the sea to build a modern restaurant where we decided to have a meal on our way back from our walk along the prom.

Tuesday 4th June. Time to go home. We had been lucky with the weather during our stay. We decided to try an alternative route home and travelled via the Norwich bypass rather than retrace our earlier journey across from Bury St Edmunds. Whilst slightly longer it was certainly a better road and probably a bit quicker. Fortunately no hold ups on the A14 at Cambridge either! As we moved west it did start to rain but it didn’t last and by the time we got home we were able to unpack in the dry.

Three Week Tour to Yorkshire, and other places.

Wortley Hall

Sunday 16th June. We are off on a three week tour of Yorkshire, Lancashire and finally the Peak District. Today we are heading for a CL at Wortley Hall near Sheffield. We were ready to go by 10.00am which is quite slick for us! The route is mainly M1 but rather than join it at junction 14 we head across country to junction 15 hoping to avoid the current roadworks. This was only partially successful as the roadworks extending a few hundred metres beyond the junction! The weather continues to be mixed and we had lots of showers and some really heavy rain en route. We left the motorway at junction 35A and took the Huddersfield road and we were soon in the village of Wortley where we turned off to Wortley Hall.

We don’t usually stay on CL’s (certificated locations) which are small five van sites, often on farms but also in people’s gardens if they have enough room. In this case it’s in the grounds of Wortley Hall which is a Country House converted to a hotel/conference centre. In the 1950’s it was purchased by the Trade Union Movement as an educational, conference and holiday centre.  We had to pay and collect the key at the main reception before we could access the site.  The CL has been nicely done with individual gravel pitches complete with electrics and a separate fresh/waste water area. There are large Rhododendron bushes everywhere and I imagine they must look wonderful when they are in full flower. They have started to go over now so it seems we are a bit late!

Monday 17th June. Unfortunately the weather has not improved a lot, it’s still cloudy with some rain showers. Despite this we felt we should have a try at walking around the grounds which we did.  There are many magnificent trees around the estate and if you were a tree hugger you would need long arms! Can’t quite make up my mind what the aim is with the gardens whether it’s managed informality or perhaps a lack of resources to restore the gardens to their previous glory. We paid a visit to the Hall where we had a sneaky look round. The Hall is still used for Trade Union meetings and training, there were a couple of events posted on the notice board. We retired to the Fire Brigades Union Bar where we enjoyed a light lunch and a beer, all very civilised. On the CL four of the five pitches are now occupied. I was a bit surprised when we arrived yesterday that we were the only ones here but two units did arrived after us.

Tuesday 18th June. Weather a bit better today with some sunshine although heavy rain and thunderstorms are forecast for later. Being that it was dry we decided to walk into the village which wasn’t that far but all up hill. Margaret struggles a bit in these circumstances but we made it! Wortley is not a very large place but there is a pub, a general store come post office come café! There is also a small Farm Shop. On the wall around the church was a plaque saying Wars Graves Cemetery but having a look round we could find no indication except for a plaque in the Lynch Gate to war dead. Having been unable to solve the puzzle we retired to the coffee shop. We looked in on the Farm Shop which looked quite nice and I was tempted by the rabbit pies but Margaret was not so keen!

We made our way back to Wortley Hall, now taking advantage of it being downhill. The Hall is much busier today so I image those courses for the various unions are taking place today, I did observe someone wearing a GMB tee-shirt. We sat in the gardens for a while and as tempting as it was to have another lunch in the hall we firmed up our resolve to return to the van. En route we diverted to have a look at the walled garden which is behind the CL. We walked around the perimeter of the orchard where some noisy geese where in residence, no hope of keeping our presence secret! Beyond was an area under cultivation for growing vegetables. Talking to one of the gardeners he said that some of the vegetables are used by the Hall but the bulk of what is produced is taken to Sheffield for use by several charities. This is our last day here. We would have enjoyed it even more with better weather but I still think we have seen a lot. Without taking the van offsite the options are fairly limited as the bus service in the village is pretty infrequent.

Scarborough

Wednesday 19th June. Today we left Wortley Hall and we headed for the new CMC site called Cayton Village between Filey and Scarborough. It was brighter weather wise than the forecast suggested and we even avoided the thunder storms. Unfortunately as we travelled further east it started to rain. We were in danger of arriving early so we diverted to the Morrisons near the site for some shopping. Cayton Village is a recent acquisition by the CMC having previously been a commercial campsite. Clearly there is work to do and apparently the Club have plans to completely overhaul the site. We had a wander round in the afternoon and it is easy to identify what work needs doing. I suspect the toilet blocks will be the main feature of any upgrade as they don’t seem sufficient for the number of pitches. Whilst we were setting up we heard a noise which was continuous and couldn’t work out what it was. After a while we realised that it was the water pump running but not pumping water! We stripped off the bunk cushions so that I could get to the pump. I even put my hand in the water tank to see if anything was causing the problem to no avail. Checking the handbook it suggested that a voltage drop could cause the factory settings to alter. We had been off grid a while whilst at the supermarket and as it was raining it’s doubtful the battery would have had much charge. The book suggested a tweak to the pressure valve which fortunately seemed to do the job!!!

Thursday 20th June. Weather was a bit better today although there were a few showers still about. We decided not to go too far so we walked into Cayton. We did a bit of shopping when it started to rain again which in some ways was a bit of serendipity as we spied The Farrier which is a pub come restaurant come coffee shop so we decided to have a coffee. Nice to find a place that is a bit more upmarket. Back at the site it is a bit surprising how few of the pitches are taken. The Club took over this site in February 2018 and I suspect it has only been fully under the control of the Club  since the beginning of this year.

Friday 21st June. We took the bus into Scarborough today, handy bus stop right outside the site entrance. The weather has improved and it has been a sunny day although not as warm as you would think. We got off at the rail station and started to walk down through the main street. It was good to see lots of people around. Scarborough is a lot grander than many other seaside towns we have visited. There is clearly more to it than just a seaside town. First stop was Boots to buy some batteries for Margaret’s blood sugar monitor which stopped working this morning which was causing some stress! We wandered further down through the town and found somewhere to have coffee. No problem with the coffee or teacakes but we did rather feel we had intruded into a group of regulars who had their favourite places!!!

Next to the Grand Hotel is the Cliff Railway that takes you down to beach level, worth the pound each! The last time we were on such a railway it was in Graz in Austria! Scarborough is set on a wide Bay, some would say two bays if you count the one to the north which we didn’t get to see. There is a great expanse of sand and it’s easy to see how it became so popular.  We walked around to the Harbour which still seems very much a working one from a fishing point of view. The northern breakwater of the harbour was the turning point of our walk so we made our way back into the town using the Cliff Railway – we may have made it down via the steps but I doubt we would have made it up!!! We treated ourselves to a meal before making our way back to the bus.

Saturday 22nd June. The day started quite dull but fortunately the sun came out when we were ready to go out. Today we took the bus in the opposite direction to Filey. Interesting en route that we passed so many other campsites, most of them static parks, but some with a mix of touring as well. I didn’t know a lot about Filey except that it was once home to a Butlin's Holiday Camp but this closed in 1983! It is not as large and grand as Scarborough is although it does have Victorian Royal Crescent which was a developed in the mid eighteen hundreds as a quieter alternative to the busy Scarborough. Charlotte Bronte moved to Filey after her sister Anne died and had lodgings in the house which is now a café where we had a coffee. The Royal Crescent gardens that follow the cliff for some distance were busy today with various stalls selling craft items. Many of the flower beds are sponsored by local organisations. Towards the end of the gardens we took the many steps down to the promenade. Coming in the other direction were two kids who bounded up the steps as if they were running on the level! Oh how life changes as you get older!

Filey is set out around a large bay with a lovely sandy beach. It has a nice long promenade. Whilst there is the usual seaside paraphernalia on the whole it seems quite genteel. We made it almost to the end where we treated ourselves to some chips which we sat and ate them in one of the shelters. There is still a chill wind which encouraged us to eat them before they got cold. This was followed by an ice cream so a proper seaside day out! The only problem with being at seafront level was that we had to climb back into the town and to find the Bus Station for our return trip to the campsite.

Sunday 23rd June. As most mornings on this site the days seem to start dull and then improve which was also the case today. If anything it was not as warm as previous days with quite a cutting breeze. As this is our last day here before moving on we decided that we would have a restful day. We did walk back into the village for a couple of items but otherwise we spent the day at the van.

Harrogate

 

Monday 24th June. Today we moved from near Scarborough to Harrogate. Initially the weather was quite good but it worsened around York, even some thunder but a lot of heavy rain. Fortunately during the afternoon it cleared up to quite a nice evening. After leaving the site at Cayton we stopped at the Morrisons again to stock up with food and other essential supplies! Our new site is the Harrogate Caravan Park which is next to, and owned, by the Great Yorkshire Showground. Once settled in we had a walk just out of the site to a Farm Shop called Fodders. All lovely stuff but of course at farm shop prices. They also have a café so I expect that will be used at some point during our stay. Just as a point of reference the new motorhome passed 1000 miles today, still a bit to go before its run in!!!

Tuesday 25th June. What an awful day weather wise, it has been raining all day. There seemed little point in rushing off anywhere so a lazy morning was spent at the van. In the afternoon, only so to break the boredom, we wandered at to the large Sainsbury’s near to the site for something to do. This did involve a cup of tea and a cream cake!!!

Wednesday 26th June. We have not been far today was we had some visitors. Some friends that we had more or less lost touch with over the years, perhaps only seeing each other a few times over the last 30 years. They used to live near us in MK, in the early days, it was a place for aspiring managers and they moved north whilst we stayed in MK. In the early days we virtually started caravanning together and even ventured abroad together for the first time. They recently called in on us in MK and we mentioned we were heading north so we arranged to meet. So today we met up at the site for a good chat. For lunch we moved next door to the Fodders Farm Shop Café. It was very busy and we had to wait for a table but it was worthwhile. It was good to catch up.

Thursday 27th June. Looking jealously at the weather forecast for Europe we were a bit surprised to wake up to a dull sky, fortunately it did clear before we went out and it’s been a lovely day. We took the nearby bus into Harrogate today, not a particularly long journey. What a lovely place Harrogate is and their Parks Department need a pat on the back for their lovely displays in all the Parks. Fortunately it has a fairly compact Centre although it is a bit up and down but that also adds to the attraction. We wandered down through the shopping district towards the large war memorial and just across from that we spied Bettys Tea Shop which is synonymous with Harrogate. We knew it would be a bit more expensive than other options but you have to experience it once! Unfortunately there was a queue so we decided to explore more. We did a sort of circle around what is called the Montpellier Quarter and ended up back at Bettys. This time there was no queue so we made our way in. We had to wait a few minutes to be seated. I felt that I should have been more formally dressed but they accepted me! The service was attentive and the coffee excellent. Strangely what impressed me the most was that I was given a gleamingly clean knife which is unusual in many establishments as they come straight out of the dishwasher. Attention to detail I thought! OK it was a bit more expensive than you would normally pay but worth every penny. Perhaps one should mention that 2019 is the hundredth anniversary of the opening of Bettys.

After Bettys we wandered down to the Tourist Information where Margaret was able to add to her collection of thimbles. Then around to the Pump House but we decided not to go in but carried on through Montpellier when we noticed an Opticians. We peered through the door and were invited in by the ladies in residence. What intrigued us was interior was of a certain vintage that made it look unusual. The ladies confirmed that it had not changed since the late 1800’s, who needs to go to Specsavers! We carried on up through the Parks, admiring the lovely flower beds en route. Up into the shopping district where a busker was playing Streets of London by Ralph McTell. Having seen it sung by the great man and met him it struck a certain cord. Perhaps the lyrics are as relevant today as they were all those years ago! I have to say I like buskers and this one knew how to touch the heartstrings with his selection of songs. I always like to contribute whereas I won’t to people just begging for money. Time to find a sandwich before making our way back to the site. We nipped into Sainsbury’s on the way back for a few things. Back on the site it was quite hot in the sun so we had to wind out the canopy. The site is a bit fuller today.

Friday 28th June. Today we decided to visit Knaresborough. This involved two buses, first to Harrogate and then a second from Harrogate to Knaresborough. Fortunately it was quite seamless as it was off one bus and on another. Knaresborough is quite a small place compared to Harrogate. It has a nice Market Square but I suppose it is the riverside which seems to be the signature view of the town. We had a coffee in a nice café in the Square before setting off to explore the river. I don’t think we realised how downhill it was! Anyway we found the riverside but it was some while before we reach the iconic view along the river towards the railway bridge. Obviously a popular spot with lots of boaters on the river. Rather than go back into the town (a very steep climb) we made our way along the river to the road bridge where we caught the bus outside of the entrance to Mother Shipton’s Cave. This is our last day at this site before moving on tomorrow. It has really filled up tonight.

Bury

Saturday 29th June. Today we moved from Harrogate to Bury which involved crossing the Pennines. It does make you wonder if the Pennines weren’t there whether Manchester and Leeds would just merge into one! We passed the famous Stott Hall Farm which has a carriageway of the M62 on both sides! For years it was thought it was the bloody mindedness of the farmer that was the reason for the motorway being built around the farm. Whilst that was a nice story it was in fact a geological fault that caused the problem and the reason why the farm was left where it was. We are heading for the CMC site called Burrs Country Park. The traffic in Bury was something of a nightmare but we eventually got to the site. The final approach is on a cobbled road and if your filling were fine before you got there they would probably been shaken out by the time you got to the site!!! When we arrived at reception we were given a site plan with the choice of eight pitches, so full was the site. As it happened we found a pitch that suited us near the facilities. At least all the pitches are on hardstandings on this site. This site is popular because of the steam trains that pass the site and since our last visit they have built an additional station to serve the Country Park, something to explore later!

Sunday 30th June. Halfway through the year today! Weather a bit better than expected in so far as there have only been a few drops of rain and it has generally been a mix of sun and cloud, albeit windy. We had a pretty lazy start to the day but after coffee we had a wander over to look at the new Railway Holt that has been built next to the site since our last visit, apparently with a largish contribution from the CMC. Burrs Country Park is hosting an event today, The Bury Agricultural Society Show. Surprising in a way that it is only being held over one day as a tremendous amount of work seems to have gone into setting it up. At £9 a head we decided to give it a miss as we continued our walk but it did seem popular. We continued up to the bus stop where the bus for Bury leaves from to make sure there have been no changes. Back at the site there has been a mass exodus today which could have caused a few problems with people attending the show but it seems to have been well controlled. Whilst not as many people have arrived the site is still busy. Had a walk round the site this evening and could see they are still dismantling the marquees from the Show.

Monday 1st July. Very dull start to the day. Had half an idea about going to Manchester on the tram today but given the weather decided against. However we did need some shopping so decided to go no further than Bury. The bus into Bury is about a 15 minute walk from the site. It is only an hourly service so you have to plan! The bus dropped us off at the bus station in the centre of Bury and is only a short walk from its famous market. We found a Costa’s for a cup of coffee and then had a look round the immediate vicinity. What we were looking for was a proper food shop. Further on from the bus station is a newer shopping development with an M&S Food Hall where we were able to get what we needed and the odd treat! By now it was raining and my Gore-Tex jacket was starting to resemble a Turkish Bath! We got back to the bus station in plenty of time for our bus and had a nice conversation with lady also waiting. She was going to Ramsbottom so quite a bit further than us. She seemed surprised that we were able to use our bus passes, perhaps because she is able to have wider use of transport in Greater Manchester, similar to London. Of course as soon as we got back to the van the sun came out!!!

Tuesday 2nd July. Our last day here at Burrs Park. Another cloudy start to the day but as in previous days it brightened up from about lunchtime. We have had a lazy day as Margaret had a bit of a restless night so she had a snooze in the afternoon, very civilised! Interestingly the site is quite empty with probably only half the pitches in use. One of the wardens mentioned to Margaret that it was very much a weekend site. I suppose I can see that perhaps the locality does not lend itself to spending a couple of weeks here especially as within forty miles you could be staying somewhere in the Peak District. The East Lancs Railway is a big draw but for the last two days there have been no trains which again encourage people here at the weekend as there are peak services.

Buxton

Wednesday 3rd July. We left Bury today and headed for our next stop at Buxton which will be the final site on this trip. The weather was much better today. It looked a complicated route despite only being just over 40 miles. As I am not overly confident in the built in sat nav in the motorhome I decided to check the route on my old TomTom and compare the two. Interesting two totally different routes! The Camper route was via Glossop so I added that as a way point to the built in sat nav. The trouble I find is that the built in one tends to cut corners off which might be fine in a car but could prove difficult in a sizeable motorhome! The first twenty miles were easy enough as it was mainly motorway but from the end of the M67 it got a whole lot more interesting as we cut across country via Glossop, Hayfield and Chapel le Firth to Buxton. Magnificent views as we crossed the Peaks.

The CMC site at Buxton used to be called Low Grin but was changed, along with others, to more properly identify their location. The site is set in a former quarry with high rock sides. We only discovered when we got to the site that there was no or little mobile signal so any hope of using my phone as a hot spot was out of the question. I felt I had no choice but to subscribe to the CMC WiFi offer. Trouble is that it is very expensive for short term use, £10.50 for a week, and so I opted for another annual subscription. I am now wondering if I have wasted £27.50 as connectivity here is very limited and pages take ages to load!

Thursday 4th July. It dawned a beautiful day today although there was still a bit of a chill wind. For what we intended to do that wind could be a positive advantage! The problem with the Buxton Club site is that it is remote from any form of public transport. So if you want to get anywhere you have to walk or take a taxi! We foolishly decided to walk into Buxton! The site provided a walking route which is initially a steep climb from the Country Park car park. At a tee junction in the path we could have diverted to Solomon’s Temple but we took a left on a pretty steep downhill path which takes you down to the car park next to Poole’s Cavern. What the site instructions did not say was that we were not even half way to Buxton. However the rest of the walk was a more gentle downhill until we got to lovely Pavilion Gardens. This leads right into the heart of Buxton. The famous Crescent is being restored which is making a bit of a mess of the centre.

After some lunch we needed some shopping and were pleased to find a Waitrose, fairly rare this far north! Now the problem was how to get back to the campsite. They had provided us with a phone number for a cab company. Fortunately they could get a cab to us in a few minutes and we were back at the site in no time. Even the cab driver said that they tend to deliver more people back to the site than actually pick up from the site! I think we were both proud of the fact that we had managed to walk so far today. I appreciate that some will take this sort of walk in their stride but for us it was quite a challenge. I tend the wear a step counter when I am out and about and today was one of the few that I managed to reach the 10000 mark. Thinking back to my younger days I would have probably done twice or more than that in step terms.  

Friday 5th July. Another lovely day but not too hot. This morning, after breakfast, we rashly decided to walk up to Solomon’s Temple which is a viewing tower come folly in the Grin Low Country Park. Given our walk into Buxton yesterday we were a bit concerned whether our legs would be up to the climb. The tower is 440 metres above sea level, although of course, we didn’t have to climb that far!!! We took it easy and had a few rest stops en route but made it to the top. The tower is only twenty feet tall and was built in 1896. The two storey building has two floors and there is a spiral staircase up to the top with commanding views over Buxton.  For some this would have been a gentle stroll but for us it was a bit more than that and we are glad we managed it. As perhaps an aside regarding the step count. Yesterday over 10000 but today up the tower 3000, and yet it felt like we had expended far more energy!  Coming down, at least for me, a bit more difficult but we made it. Being a Friday the site has filled up quite a bit.

Saturday 6th July. This is our last day at Buxton and we didn’t venture far but chose to have a lazy day at the van.

Sunday 7th July.  Today is home day. We have an interesting journey ahead of us. There is a long climb out of Buxton but then downhill to Leek. We then went across country to Ashbourne and from there down to the A50 which took us to the M1. Whilst on the A50 a car pulled alongside and pointed up to the roof. I gave the thumbs up as a way of thanking him and pulled into the next emergency lay-by. One of the hatches had sprung open. Don’t know how as we check them before departure.  On our way again and a stop for a coffee at Leicester Forest East services. We quite like travelling on a Sunday as although the roads are busy there are less wagons which makes progress a bit easier.

This has been the longest trip we have done in the new van. The volume of washing seems to be an issue and where to store it but we are gradually finding work rounds to these issues. Other than that we managed pretty well and finding the sleeping arrangements quite comfortable with the added bonus we don’t wake each other up in the middle of the night!

Cambridge

Sunday 21st July. We have sneaked away for a few days during the school holidays to Cambridge. It is a return visit to the Cambridge Camping and Caravan Club. The only problem is that they don’t accept arrivals until 1.00pm which means a lot of hanging around. Although we use the route to Cambridge quite a lot we have yet to find somewhere to stop for a coffee so we had to make do with a layby to kill a bit of time. Even having done that we stopped at the American Cemetery just west of Cambridge but I didn’t think we would get into the carpark as the entrance is very narrow. In the end we arrived a minute or two early which didn’t seem to faze the site manager. The C&CC have stopped charging for Wifi so as I had an annual ticket they sent me a £5 refund which I was able to use to help pay for the site fees.

As is usual with C&CC sites you are allocated and you are escorted to your pitch. You are asked if you have any preferences and I wanted to be reasonably near to a water point. Margaret was not sure we had the best pitch but we are here and set up so only time will tell. We are en route to the toilet block so we do get people walking between the pitches but I am not sure how you avoid that! It is interesting to see the number of European campers here. Apparently some of them turn up without booking which can sometimes lead to disappointment. Weather wise it has been pretty warm but until the evening it was quite cloudy. Rumours are that over the next couple of days it will get much hotter!

Monday 22nd July. Very hot today, late twenties with a prediction it will get even hotter over the coming days!  We were up fairly late today so it was decided not to go into Cambridge. Instead we decided to walk down to the nearby Garden Centre, Scotsdale's. We have been here before and they have a superb selection of perennials. Unfortunately far too hot to carry any back to the motorhome! We did enjoy a coffee and a scone having found a table with an umbrella. By now it was really hot but we had to divert via the local store as I forgot to bring my breakfast cereal! Otherwise a lazy day trying to keep cool!

Tuesday 23rd July. It has been hot,hot,hot today, too hot to really do anything. We had originally intended to go into Cambridge today but the prospect in this heat was a bit daunting. So we basically spent the day trying to find a shady spot.

Wednesday 24th July. We had a big thunder storm with lightning and some rain overnight. It was a bit fresher this morning because the wind was at about twice the strength compared to yesterday. Any thoughts that the storm was going to make it a more comfortable today were soon dashed. We decided that we should at least make an attempt to visit Cambridge today. We caught the 11.30am bus from near the site entrance. I am pretty sure the route has changed since we last used this service a few years ago. It now goes through the estate that borders one side of the site – pity there is no gate onto that road as it would make it easier! It also passes the new Royal Papworth Heart Hospital which opened a short while ago. After a long and sticky journey we alighted near the Grand Arcade to have coffee in JL. Our plan was to try and explore a bit more of the River Cam and in particular Jesus Lock. After what seemed a long hike through the town we got to Bridge Street and took the path along the river. I say pathway but much of it is cantilevered out of the side of the adjacent buildings to provide access along the river. Earlier in the year I complained that Cambridge didn’t seem to do much in the way to facilitate access but I am glad that in this case they have. We soon found Jesus Lock which is more or less the upper limit for navigation by larger boats although no doubt the more intrepid try a bit further but they have to run the gauntlet of the punts! The lock beams of Jesus Lock are unusual as they curve upwards unlike most locks where they are straight. Having sat for a while watching the scene we decided to make our way back. The heat was so oppressive we abandoned our original plan of having a meal in Bella Italia. We did stop at the Mitre Pub for a drink before finding a M&S Food Hall for cold foods we could eat back at the van. This is our last day here and tomorrow is forecast to be even warmer, at least we have air conditioning in the van whilst on the move! We were really not prepared for this heat and even forgot to bring a cooling fan with us, that will teach us!

Thursday 25th July. The wall of heat is still there as we get ready to leave. We scan the distant tree tops to see if there is any sign of a breeze but nothing that will ease the heat. There was a slight hold up on the M11 but otherwise the journey home was uneventful. We were even getting used to the air conditioning in the motorhome buy thank goodness we had it. We learnt later that today’s temperature recorded at the Botanic Gardens in Cambridge was a new summer record for the UK, 38.7 Celsius.