Travels in the UK 2017


Moreton in Marsh 

Friday 5th May. Today is our first venture out in the motorhome since last December.  Unfortunately poor Margaret has not been too good having been hit with a lot of arthritis pain which has restricted ease of movement. They think she may be suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis and she currently has an appointment at a local hospital to establish the problem, but not until June. This trip is a little bit of an experiment to see how she gets on for the three nights we are away.

At least the day dawned bright and sunny although still a bit chilly in the breeze. We are heading for Caravan and Motorhome Club site at Moreton in Marsh. This is a journey we have done many times in the past except now we detour from Aynho to Adderbury to avoid a narrow section of our original route via a narrow humped backed bridge over the Oxford Canal and Clifton. South of Adderbury on the A4260 we stopped in a lay-by at Buzzy Beans for a coffee. Buzzy Beans is a coffee seller run from the back of an Italian Ape three wheeler. Excellent coffee and he is clearly well known on this stretch of road going by the number of toots he gets from passing traffic. Being a public spirited kind of guy he even mows the grass verges of the lay-by in his down time. Worth a stop if you are passing. It seemed a slow journey, taking nearly two hours to cover fifty two miles.

Once we had booked in we set about finding a pitch. Apparently 59 units were arriving today but then it is the weekend. Since our last trip away the Caravan Club has changed its name to the Caravan and Motorhome Club. Given that there are currently over 60 motorhomes on site that seems a sensible move although not universally popular, particularly amongst some of the dyed in the wool caravanners. Our hobby is evolving and current trends do point to the sales of motorhomes growing pretty fast in recent years where as caravan sales seemed to have reached a plateau and I suppose the Club see the change as preparing for the future. Personally I have no problem with that. Included in the change was a change of corporate colours which even I agree does not work that well and it will be interesting to see how long it is before they change that?

Saturday 6th May. Given Margaret’s condition she needs space when she is asleep as the only anywhere near comfortable position is on her back. I elected to use the second bed which can be made up from the lounge area as opposed to the fixed bed Margaret was using. Now I like a firm bed but I had forgotten how hard a bed made from caravan/motorhome seating can be!!!! It was also a long time since I had slept in a sleeping bag, the same ones we used before we had a fixed bed caravan prior to changing to a motorhome, just as well we kept them! The next challenge was the shower. It seems to be the one thing that helps Margaret to get mobile in the morning so we changed our usual routine to allow her to get the maximum of hot water. I tend to use a mix of gas and electrics to get the best out of the system. It certainly seemed to have worked.

Weather wise it dawned quite dull with heavy high cloud, dry but no warmth. After breakfast we walked into Morton in Marsh. The town was quite busy with similarly wrapped up people having a wander around. We walked up to the station at the north end of the town and then doubled back to the High Street. There are a surprising number of tea rooms and cafes so difficult to choose but we found one that we liked the look of and enjoyed our coffees and the excellent scones on offer.

Back at the site there seems to have been a fair amount of movement with quite a few units leaving and more units arriving.

Sunday 7th May. What a beautiful day, sunshine from dawn to dusk. It was also pretty warm if you could find a spot out of the chill breeze. We lazed around the van for the morning but did decide to have a walk into Morton in Marsh after lunch. On the way into town you pass a small museum dedicated to the Wellington Bomber which apparently used to be based at the airfield which is now used as Fire Service Training centre. Despite all our visits over the years to Moreton in Marsh we have never seen the museum open! Having checked the website it does say Sundays only! So this was our chance The Wellington Aviation Museum was actually open as we walked by so we decided that we should have a look. I think museum is perhaps too grand a word. It is really more a collection of memorabilia obviously collected over the years by the originator of the collection who is sadly no longer with us. In the garage next door they do have one of the engines that powered the bomber which is quite impressive. The guy that looks after the museum when it’s open said that without the Caravan Club site he doubts the museum would continue as most of their visitors seem to come from the campsite. Well, at least, after all these years our curiosity has been satisfied.

Margaret was keen to go back the to teashop we visited yesterday for tea and scones. It is a shame there is no bypass round Moreton in the Marsh to separate the visitors to the town and the through traffic. Back at the van we enjoyed the late afternoon and evening sunshine.

Monday 8th May. Unfortunately the beautiful weather of the previous day had not lasted overnight and although quite bright clouds were in the sky and it was dull for most of the uneventful journey home. The last time I filled the motorhome with fuel was in December last year! Obviously we have not been far in the intervening months apart from servicing and this trip but I thought I would top up with fuel. We arrived at Tesco in Wolverton to find they had no diesel!!! No big issue as we still have over half a tank and can fill up on our next trip.

So how did Margaret survive the weekend? Fairly well although she struggled to get in and out of the fixed bed. The problem is that as much as you might love the motorhoming life if you are having difficulties it is often easier to stay at home where you are more comfortable. I am sure we will have another go in a couple of weeks’ time, especially as the weather should be getting warmer. She is pinning her hopes on the hospital appointment in June as hopefully the medications they can prescribe will be more effective than general painkillers.


Monday 22nd May. Our second trip of the year, this time to Cromer in Norfolk and staying at the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s Seacroft campsite. Surprising the difference a couple of weeks make as the temperature was warm enough to require the air con to be on, when last time it was the heating! We needed to fill up with fuel as this was not possible when we returned from our last trip as Tesco had no diesel. Mission accomplished we set off on our journey which we knew would be a bit on the slow side as it was across country. Even on dual carriage ways there are just not enough stopping places for larger vehicles. Most layby’s can take about four lorries! Once off the main roads its very much pot luck. On the road to Swaffham we pulled into the road by the Club Thetford Forest site next to the Tank Regiment memorial as there was plenty of room. We eventually arrived at Seacroft at 2.30pm.

Seacroft has recently had a 25 pitch extension but all the new pitches are serviced so command an addition fee of three or four pounds per night. We don’t really need that extra facility or the extra expense so had to try our luck at finding one of the few remaining hardstanding pitches. We found one right by the toilet block which was handy but it is also right next to a service point so we have to tolerate watching people emptying their chemical toilets!!!

It is interesting that the Club have decided to put all the extra investment into serviced pitches. This site is one of a handful of Club sites with a swimming pool and restaurant. Perhaps they feel that members wanting such a site will also be willing to pay a premium? On the plus side this is the first Club site we have been on with one of the new open drain motorhome waste points which is indeed a bonus.

Tuesday 23rd May. The day dawned bright and sunny but as often is the case, near the coast, there was still a chilly wind. However this was over clouded by the dreadful news of a terrorist attack in Manchester at a concert venue causing at least 22 deaths many of them children/teenagers including one eight year old.   

We decided to walk into Cromer rather than take the bus, despite there being a regular service from immediately outside the entrance of the site. En route we passed the cliff top car park which does allow motorhomes up to 3500kgs. The ground looks quite firm so even in damp conditions it could be OK. As we walked along the cliff top path there were notices warning about the Brown Tail Moth caterpillars and how they can cause skin irritation. When I was a kid I would have been totally oblivious to such dangers and would have likely collected a few in a jam jar!!! Further along more notices warning about goats. At this point there was almost a sheer drop to the undercliff road. So goats? Sure enough we saw half a dozen on a ledge half way down. I imagine they are used to keep the vegetation down, a clever idea on someone’s part and no doubt entertaining for visitors!

When we got to the point immediately above the pier we headed back into the town. About time we thought for a coffee! Most of the café’s we came cross seemed either to be full or have limited seating. Last time we were here I seem to recall that we had a coffee at the RNLI Henry Bloog Museum so we headed down hill to the seafront. By the time we got there it was more like lunchtime so we treated ourselves to lunch. Highly recommended and I imagine any profits might go towards the RNLI?

Having finished we cheated a bit by taking the lift up to a higher level to cut out the need to walk up a pretty short but steep hill up from the water’s edge. I thought the town quite busy as we walked along the main through road. Margaret wanted to look at a clothing shop so I wander further down the street.  I came across a butchers shop, a real old fashioned butchers shop. In MK these are pretty rare beasts. I feasted my eyes on every cut of meat in the window. I love lamb and there in a tray were some lovely looking lamb leg steaks. Not the scrawny looking things to get in supermarkets but a decent thickness and size. They were mine, and we enjoyed them for our evening meal.

Wednesday 24th May. Another lovely day for our trip into Sheringham, it was hotter with slightly less breeze which made walking a bit more comfortable. There is a pretty regular bus service from right outside the campsite gate which is very convenient. The Wednesday Market was in full swing when we arrived and takes up a little less than half the car park. There we some interesting stalls. I was particularly taken by the idea of a roast hog sandwich but resisted the temptation!!! Just across the car park is the station of the North Norfolk Railway. There was a steam locomotive being fired up but no carriages attached so whether that was to come later I don’t know. Later a Deltic diesel pulled up right opposite where we were having a coffee.

Refreshed we wandered down through the main street which was bedecked in bunting. Sheringham has a nice selection of shops although I did notice that what must have been a small department store had closed with a note on the window saying that it had closed after 110 years. I suppose that even traditional places like Sheringham find it difficult to sustain such shops in the age of internet shopping. At the end of the road is the sea and Sheringham has a nice long promenade along the seashore. The good weather had encouraged a lot of people out for walks and onto the beach. A few brave souls where even swimming but under the careful watch of the life guards. Before heading back we treated ourselves to an ice cream and sat watching the activity on the beach. Margaret wanted to go back to the Market as she had seen something that would suit her sister for her birthday. I am sure the queen of nic nacs will approve!!! I am fully of the view that Sheringham is the jewel of the north Norfolk coast.

Back at the site we sat out in the shade of the van and watched the world go by. The site is fairly full and no doubt will be even fuller come the Bank Holiday weekend especially as the forecast seems good for the early part. Walking around the site there are just over a dozen empty pitches.  

Thursday 25th May. Another glorious day here at Seacroft. Having had two busy days we decided that a day of rest was in order and we are just relaxing on site today. With time on your hands you have plenty of times to watch what others are getting up to! In the canal world this is called gongozzeling but I am not sure if there is a caravanning alternative. Quite a few units arrive around midday. You forget that a caravan is a bit like a Tardis when all the stuff is unloaded.

I have been experimenting. The WiFi on Caravan and Motorhome Club sites has never been great. Most of us, at home, now have high speed broadband so it comes as a bit of a culture shock to be transported back in time when we arrive on site. Not only is the WiFi slow it is also somewhat intermittent in that the connection will often drop and we then need to reconnect. In part this might be to do with using internet connected devices in the van and the signal may well have difficulty in penetrating the shell of the vehicle. A while ago I purchased a Solwise WiFi booster that sits on the outside of the van and pulls a stronger signal. This is coupled to an internal wireless router which distributes the signal inside the van rather like you have at home. Now strictly speaking the CMC only allow access to one device at a time on their WiFi but this can overcome the restriction. To prove the point I did connect both of our phones to the router and it worked. My main intention was to get a better signal for my laptop which seems to be the case. It is seemingly, no faster but more consistent without the dropouts we have been used to without using the router.

As this is our last night at the campsite before returning home so we decided to treat ourselves to a meal in the site restaurant. Typical pub food but pleasant service. The Club only have a few sites with such facilities but it is an interesting observation that this site is pretty full so will we see more sites like this?

Friday 26th May. Almost a shame to be going home given the lovely weather. First stop was the motorhome waste water point on the new section of the site. Hardly headline news but this is the first of a new generation of motorhome waste points we have used. They are gradually being installed across the network but unfortunately it is very slow progress!

What route to take, that is the question as there is more than one? The route we took here was MK/Bedford/Cambridge/Newmarket/Mildenhall/ Swaffham/Cromer. We could retrace our steps but many of the roads are slow. We could go via Norwich but that means getting involved with the City traffic. We asked TomTom to plot a route from Cromer via Kings Lynn. This took us on via Wisbech and Peterborough. At Peterborough it took us down the A1M when I half expected to use the A605 but I doubt it would have been any quicker. A fill up at Tesco Kingston, second time in a week, and we were home around 2.00pm. An interesting observation on this route was that between Peterborough and Kings Lynn it seemed wall to wall caravans and motorhomes and rarely travelling that fast! What I had forgotten was the  CMC was holding it’s annual Rally on the Sandringham Estate. I know I whinge on about this but some parts of our Country is in desperate need of road upgrades.

We couldn’t have been luckier with the weather, the entire stay was hot and sunny. I hope it stays that way for the rest of the Bank Holiday Weekend. I think Margaret found it a bit easier although getting in and out of bed is still difficult.


Monday 12th June. Another trip away, this time to the C&CC site at Wolverley near Kidderminster. Weather wise it was a bit grey as we left home heading across country to Brackley and then Banbury where we joined the M40. We stopped at Warwick Services which seemed a bit chaotic. We followed the caravan parking but still ended up parked amongst the lorries!!!  Continuing north and then round the M42 and onto the M5 we eventually came off the motorway for the final leg of the journey of 90 miles.

Once settled onto our pitch we had a wander round the campsite. We discovered that the land the campsite is on was previously occupied by an American wartime military hospital. Apparently Bob Hope visited several times during the second world war to entertain the recovering troops as did other stars of the time. When the hospital closed it became a holding place for German prisoners of war prior to their repatriation. Another interesting fact was that when the site was officially closed people made homeless by the war occupied the site as temporary accommodation. The campsite reception and toilet block are, apparently, housed in a couple of the original buildings. The campsite only forms a small part of the total land area taken up by the hospital and if you walk out of the site entrance and enter the large playing field you can still see some of the derelict original buildings over to the left. This is not the only campsite we have come across in our travels around the UK that have some connection with the second world war.

During our walk we also had a quick explore outside the site via the back gate which is a short cut to the Lock Inn and the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal just in time to see a holiday narrow boat descending the lock adjacent to the pub. I imagine that most summer weekends this is a very busy spot.

Tuesday 13th June. Funny day weather wise, very cloudy but also quite warm. We had no clear objective today but we thought we would sus out the bus stop which seemed further away than we first anticipated. Apparently the service is a circular one so only goes one way from the stop. We are reassessing our options including the possibility of walking into Kidderminster. Wolverley Church dominates the landscape here abouts. As we approached the top of the hill we noticed on the other side of the road an enclosure hewn out of the sandstone with a gate on it. This was used for gathering up stray farm animals, owners could collect them on payment of a fee. We returned to the Lock Inn which is alongside Wolverley Lock. There was a steady trickle of boats using the lock which created a lot of interest to the bystanders or should that be Gongoozlers?

Having refreshed ourselves at the small, but popular, cafe next to the canal we decided to walk along the canal in the direction of Kidderminster, at least to the first lock. When you visit canals in France and you come across a lock they always have a sign showing the distance to the next locks, in either direction. Shame we don't do it here! When we reached the lock there was a boat coming up through the lock. I offered to close the lock gate for them so they did not have to stop. That took me back forty years!!! We made our way back and couldn't resist having another look at the activity outside the Lock Inn. Coming through the lock was the same boat we had seen earlier, just shows how slow life is on the canals!

Back at the site we put up the satellite dish so we could watch TV only for it not to lock onto the satellite. Strange as it had worked perfectly well the day before? This sometimes happens in the South of France when you are on the edge of the reception area but it shouldn't happen in the UK. We did get a warning message come up saying there was a problem with the RF lead but I am not altogether sure what that means unless something has come adrift in the actual dish. As I had no means of getting up near to the dish that will have to wait until we get home. Fortunately I carry a small Avtex aerial as a back-up measure which is usually very good. Unfortunately on this campsite the terrestrial  signal is poor so we can either get the BBC or ITV but not both together!!!


Wednesday 14th June. It dawned a lovely day, nice to see blue skies for a change. We went to Kidderminster today but decided to walk along the canal which was either brave or foolish! It’s about two and a half to three miles and to be honest we have not walked that distance for some time. Walking does have its advantages as you can speak to people along the way or see things that you are unlikely to come across elsewhere. This included getting within yards of a Heron as he stalked the canal bank, no doubt looking for his dinner!! One lady we got talking to was walking her Labrador who looked a bit mucky. Apparently he had found some water course which was a bit muddy. I think she was thinking about getting him to go in the canal to get cleaned off. However I did suggest that might not be a good idea as dogs can’t always get up over the bank. I was once witness to this on a canal many years ago, also with a Labrador. Our friend whose dog it was had the devil’s own job to get him out of the canal.

Not so many years ago when they built houses along a canal it was always the backs that faced the water’s edge. So different now with new housing developments that we walked past with the fronts facing the canal and the residents obviously enjoying this feature of their house, many front gardens bedecked in flowers. We were getting a bit weary as this seemingly never ending walk went on so we stopped other walkers going in the opposite direction who gave us some information on where we would arrive to get into the town. They were doing the opposite walk to us and were already looking forward to their coffee at Wolverley Lock!!!  We eventually arrived at Kidderminster Lock where there was a boat coming through. I got chatting to one of the ladies working the lock. This is not the first time we have seen the ladies doing all the hard work with the men attending to the navigation of the boat. I am sure the QE3 doesn’t have two people steering it!!! Anyway she was explaining that their hire company had advised them of places in Birmingham where they were not to leave the boat unattended. Over forty years ago Margaret and I sent a lovely October night under what became Spaghetti Junction and didn’t give a thought to it!!!

We had made it into the town, albeit in a shopping park on the edge of town. There was M&S boasting a café so we sought refuge for some lunch and to rest our weary legs. Across from the shop there was an old warehouse, or perhaps a mill which had been converted into a hotel. Kidderminster had, in the past, been an important centre for the making of carpets.  We did make it as far as the impressive looking Town Hall but we thought that we should establish where the bus station was only to see the bus we needed sail by!!! Did we want to wait another hour? We decided to phone for a taxi which turned out to be quite reasonably priced. When making comparisons on cost you do have to take into account that we travel free on buses. Had we had to pay the difference would not have been that great. We asked the cabby to drop us off at the Lock Inn which gave us an excuse to enjoy a drink right next to the lock.

Thursday 15th June. After all our exercise yesterday we decided to have a quiet day around the van. I don’t know why but we always seem to feel guilty when we have a lazy day when at our age we should value the opportunity!!! This is our last day here and I have certainly felt it would be worth a few more days. Probably a good spot to have our bikes as its easy level riding on the canal towpath. A good excuse to return!!!  

Friday 16th June. Pretty uneventful journey home if you ignore the frustration of stopping at Warwick Services. There are signs for caravan parking but where is it? I eventually ended up having to do a four or five point turn. We did find a spot round the other side of the filling station but the service areas really do need better signage. Why we thought the south bound would be any better than the northbound I have no idea!!!

Clumber Park

Friday 7th July. What a busy day! We are off on a ten day tour as far north as Bridlington with a couple of stops either side. The last couple of days have been really hot with sticky nights and this morning was no exception although we were heading north so that was bound to change! Today’s trip was not just a straight forward journey as we have a couple of things to do en route. First we had to fill up with fuel and then a detour via Daventry to call into Road Pro. They installed our roof mounted satellite dish about three years ago but on our last trip it stopped working. It transpired that it needed a software update and earlier in the week I learnt that the update had been sent from Italy so I arranged for us to call in on our way north. Allen came out with his laptop and within 10 minutes the upgrade was done and the dish working again.

We were soon on our way but it was now past midday and we had hardly started our journey to our first stop at Clumber Park near Worksop. Like water TomTom always wants to take you via the quickest route but that meant joining the M1 before the M6. I felt it would be better to join the M1 after the M6 so at the risk of confusing TomTom further carried on to junction 20. Leicester Forest East was our only choice of service station before we left the motorway to head across country. We managed to find a parking place and Margaret went off the get some coffee. We have never left any of our units on a motorway service station but clearly a lot of people do. I noticed one car and caravan with no obvious security but the owners returned safely. Margaret usually likes Costa Coffee but on this occasion she had to have Starbucks. I must say that my coffee was far nicer to what Costa usually offers!!

At junction 21A we headed across country on the A46 which is a good dual carriageway all the way to almost Newark where it becomes a single carriageway and congested. I should really have paid more attention to our route as I am sure we could have cut the corner off by using the A6097, difficult to tell whether it would have saved any time? To get to the campsite you have to enter the Clumber Park Estate through an imposing stone arch, although Margaret was more concerned whether we would get through it rather than its obvious charms as a structure! Picking our way through the Estate roads we found the site. It must be over 25 years since our last visit so difficult to remember much about it. Being the weekend it is full of families and youngsters, many obviously picked up straight from school judging by the numbers still wearing school uniforms! We were foolish enough to park not so far from the Play Area so did experience a degree of noise but as darkness feel silence descended. Friday is fish and chip day so we decided that we would treat ourselves, mind you there was a long queue so obviously a good business was done.

Saturday 8th July. Whilst yesterday dawned hot and sticky but clouded over towards evening, today it was another bright day but not so muggy, so much more comfortable. I treated myself to a Guardian today to read over breakfast. There is always too much to read but it’s good to catch up with things. Around about midday we decided that we really needed to get out and have a walk. It would have been nice to have gone to the visitors centre and see the remains, or at least the outline on the old house. That we thought was a walk too far. We could have taken the motorhome down but that would have incurred a charge of about £7. Hedging our bets we decided on Hardwick Village and that end of the lake. Difficult to tell how far it was as country miles always seem longer than normal miles! I suppose it must be a mile or mile and a half so a reasonable distance for a couple of old crocks!!!

Since our last trip away Margaret has attended the Rheumatology Clinic at Bedford Hospital and has been started on a series of steroids, the first by injection and subsequently in tablet form. They think she has a condition called Polymyalgia Rheumatica. The good news is that the steroids seem to have made a big difference already.

En route into our walk we stopped at the pay point into the Park and the nice young lady gave us a map and explained where we needed to go. Vehicles now pay £3.50 a person entrance into the Park but walkers and cyclists are free. We made it to the end of the lake and enjoyed a cup of tea sat overlooking the water. Strangely the walk back did not seem as long!!! In the afternoon I walked around the site taking photographs. Today’s mobile food offer is Pizza which I am sure will be very popular. The site is almost full. I suppose it’s the advantage of our hobby in that it encourages people to be active and outdoors. The youngsters seem to enjoy the freedom and not an iPad or mobile phone in sight. Probably just as well as both site WiFi and mobile phone signal is appalling to non-existent!!!


Sunday 9th July. It dawned nice and bright for our onward journey to Bridlington. Our two days at Clumber Park has been quite pleasant although we should have probably not have pitched near the play area which was in constant use from dawn to dusk!!! Like in football it was a journey of two halves. The first half was all motorway and the second cross country roads. Fortunately it was not too busy until we got to the outskirts of Bridlington. The site is a bit out of the town on the Flamborough road.  Bridlington is a popular site and seems pretty full. However it’s not cheap at £32 a night and not even the school holidays! It doesn’t seem to put people off and they are in the process of doubling the size of the site.

Monday 10th July. A strange day weather wise, with lots of periods of drips and drops of rain but sunnier later on. We were unsure what to do but in the end decided to catch the bus into Bridlington. It seemed quite tortuous getting through the traffic in the town but we eventually got to the Bus Station. All seaside towns seem to exhibit a faded look about them. Bridlington does have this but also some signs of trying to reinvent themselves especially with the new Leisure Centre right on the seafront. We initially wandered down to the Harbour where a few trip boats were vying for business from the conventional steamer to a pirate ship, although my favourite if I was making the choice was the speed boat but that might depend on how calm the sea was. Either side of the Harbour are beaches of sand which in a week or two will no doubt be packed with excited kids once the holidays start. Rain kept interrupting play so to speak. We got over this to a degree by buying ourselves an umbrella each in Poundland. OK we don’t expect them to last long but how on earth can they bring such an item half way around the world and only charge a pound for one!!! By mid-afternoon the rain was becoming more persistent so we decided to get the bus back to the campsite where after a short period the sun came out!!!

Tuesday 11th July. It’s been miserable day weather wise with rain all day. So it was an enforced rest day. We did need some shopping so in the afternoon we took the bus into Bridlington to the Tesco. Now this is one of the dilemmas of motorhome ownership especially when it’s one of the larger type. They are usually too large to get into many of the town based supermarkets so you have to work round. Our answer is to go in by bus and return by taxi. We have never been big users of taxis so they always seem an extravagance but I think we are coming round to the idea that in certain circumstances they make sense. 

Wednesday 12th July. Weather much more promising today although the wind is coming from the north so there is a bit of a chill despite the lovely sunshine. We are off on a bit of an adventure today, we are heading for Hull, UK City of Culture 2017, on the train. Our taxi dropped us off at the station in Bridlington and full marks to the staff there for their floral displays, very welcoming. If you are ever there make sure you have a look at the station buffet, it’s very Brief Encounters. It’s almost worth a visit in its own right. I have never been to Hull so difficult to have an opinion on this place on the far flung east coast of England. I know it’s famous for William Wilberforce and Philip Larkin and until the last election represented in Parliament by Alan Johnson but beyond that very little. I was therefore not sure what to expect as we left the railway station. I have to say that the City is far grander than I imagined it would be. We soon realised that it was Graduation Day as we seemed to be wall to wall Mortar Boards!!!

Whilst there is a lot of immediate post war redevelopment there are still  a lot of older buildings like the City Hall, Maritime Museum and Guildhall which adds to this air of grandeur. We made our way down to the waterfront at Drypool Bridge which is a bascule lifting bridge. Along the river they have constructed a broadwalk so that you can follow the river or creek known as “The Deep” , down to the Humber passing en route the Museum Quarter. Scale Lane Bridge is interesting. Further towards the Humber is the Tidal Surge Barrier. You can then follow the waterfront past Victoria Pier and then head back into the Centre along what I imagine to be the old docks which is now Hull Marina. In amongst the newer buildings nestles many original older buildings. Old warehouses have been converted into flats so the heritage is preserved. We seemed to have walked for miles so decided to have a cup of tea before making our way back to the station and our journey back to Bridlington. Whilst we may not have experienced much of the City of Culture element of Hull we certainly came away with a different view of Hull.

Thursday 13th July. After yesterday’s exploring we thought we would be a bit exhausted today but we did not seem too bad so we decided to walk to Sewerby Hall. It is a Georgian country house a couple of miles outside of Bridlington overlooking the sea. Apparently in 1934 the house and grounds were purchased by Bridlington Council and has been a public amenity ever since. It was opened to the public by Amy Johnson the Aviator. The weather was a bit warmer today so when we arrived at the Hall we made for the coffee shop to be restored before we started to explore the house.  I am not sure there is anything exceptional about the interior of the house except it illustrates how such houses worked. One of the AV displays goes through the various jobs and the people that did them. One interesting thing that it shows was that many of the people working there were not locals. In part of the house there are several rooms devoted to the exploits of Amy Johnson, the first female to fly from the UK to Australia. During the war she would deliver planes from the factories to the airfields. It was on one of these deliveries that her plane went way off course and she bailed out into the Thames Estuary. Her parachute was spotted by a naval vessel who attempted to rescue her but even this turned to further tragedy when one of the sailors lost his life in the attempt. Her body was never found which prompted many rumours and theories as to why and how she lost her life.

In the grounds is a walled garden which is worth a look. It’s mainly flowers set out in formal beds. Beyond is a rose garden which I felt was a bit disappointing. I would have been in there with my secateurs dead heading the flowers that had gone over. Time was getting on and when we paid for the house entrance we also purchased tickets for the land train that takes you into Bridlington. As we only wanted to go one way I think we paid over the odds as we didn’t need the return tickets! Anyway it was a nice trip along the cliffs and into the town, so no complaints from that point of view. Having had another wander around the town near to the sea front and treating ourselves to the obligatory ice cream we made our way back to the bus station and back to the site. This is our last full day at Bridlington which we have enjoyed but with a lot left to explore further should we get this way again. 

Poolsbrook Country Park

Friday 14th July. We slept in a bit, too much walking the previous day!!! Not that it made much difference as we were ready to go by about 10.30am. It was virtually a reverse journey of the one from Clumber Park as we were heading for  the CMC site called Poolsbrook at Staveley. The site is in the Poolsbrook Country Park which was formed from land that has been reclaimed from a former Colliery site. The site is all but full, which I suppose should be expected at this time of year. What I find strange is that this site is £23 a night whereas Bridlington was £32 a night. I am sure that some sites are more popular than others but is £9 a night extra justified?

Saturday 15th July. We had rain overnight and most of the day has been grey with intermittent drops of rain. We decided to take the bus into Staveley which is the nearest town to the site. Rather ironically the last site we stayed at Bridlington, in a major tourist area, has an hourly service but a former mining town has several buses an hour with little evidence there are more customers!!! We had no expectations of Staveley but there are some interesting reminders of better times with some lovely stone built houses. The centre now seems to be dominated by a large Morrisons.

One thing I wanted to have a look at was a stretch of the Chesterfield Canal that is in the process of being restored. I knew it was accessible from near the carpark and a local gentleman pointed us in the right direction. The length of the canal between Staveley and Chesterfield is cut off from the rest of the canal that eventually joins the River Trent at West Stockwith.  So there is a gap between Staveley and Kiveton Park which has yet to be restored. In Staveley they have had to re-route the canal as some of the original bed has been built on. It seems that the local restoration group and the local councils are fully cooperating in the restoration and the joining together of the whole canal.

Having had our excursion along the canal as far as the new Town Basin we returned to Morrisons for refreshments and a bit of shopping. As we arrived at the bus stop the bus we needed was departing, which seems to be the story of our life recently!! Buses came and went but not the ones we wanted. We got into conversation with a local lady also waiting for a bus. She explained which buses went where and we discussed many other things as well until our bus arrived. You don’t get that when you travel by car! Our bus eventually came and it was the same lady driver as the inward bus, she even remembered us. You can’t say the folks round here are not friendly.

Sunday 16th July. Bit of a lazy day today as we wanted to watch the Silverstone Grand Prix. The weather here has been nice today but it looked a bit dull at the racetrack and after the race it rained there. Some may have been hoping that the rain had come a bit earlier!!! After the race I wandered down to the Country Park to take some photographs in the sunshine. The Park was certainly busier than the previous day.

Over the weekend there have been notices fixed to reception saying that all leavers must be by midday. This is the usual leaving time but sometimes sites can show some discretion in allowing people to stay a bit later depending in incoming bookings. Lots seem to have left today but where we are pitched we have a clear view of reception and I was surprised how many units arrived today. This is our last full day of site before returning home tomorrow. It’s been our longest trip away this year and fortunately Margaret has coped with it very well. Her new treatment seems to be working well.

Monday 17th July. Time to head home. Back on the M1 and the almost 100 mile grind down the motorway. I was tempted to head off at junction 20 and head back that way but we carried onto junction 15 where we turned off to head for Stony Stratford and Wolverton where we usually fill up with fuel if coming south. This route takes us through Roade and a couple of weeks earlier our youngest son moved into a new house here. Not sure the access is good enough for a 7.5 metre motorhome!!! Talking about fuel. On this trip we have covered just shy of 400 miles and until I got to the Tesco at Wolverton I had not filled up on this trip. Mind you I was watching the needle of the fuel gauge very carefully!!! It turned out that we had only used about two thirds of the fuel, our tank has a capacity of 90 litres.


Tour of Wales


The last day of August and if things had gone to plan we would have crossed to France yesterday but health issues have worked against us in that we could not get the health insurance we needed. So a change of plans means that we have decided to tour Wales. We have made the odd foray into Wales in the past but only to a site here and there. We have twenty nine days to explore and the plan is to start in Snowdonia, then down the coast to the south taking in Cardiff and Brecon before returning home.

The day dawned bright and sunny but the warmth of summer was not there. We set off from home with the intention of avoiding the M1 so headed out towards Towcester and Weedon with the aim of joining the M6 at junction 1 but there was a diversion that forced us onto the M1!!! On the M6 we got held up by an accident. A lorry had somehow left the main carriageway and embedded itself behind a bridge pillar and the motorway bank. We continued on and made use of the M6 Toll and the toll concession offered by the Caravan and Motorhome Club which gives a fifty percent discount. We are heading for the C&CC site at Oswestry as the first stop on our tour. We received a very warm welcome by the male site manager who showed us to our pitch. Before we joined the C&CC we were always a bit concerned about not being able to select our own pitch. The reality is, of course, different. We were asked if we had any preference, all the site amenities were pointed out to us and knowledge given on the local buses. That somewhat puts a different complexion of being allocated a pitch!!!

Friday 1st September. After a pretty chilly night the first of September dawned bright and sunny. We caught the bus into Oswestry today. There is a choice of two services from right outside the campsite. I have an App on my phone, for Arriva buses, which tells me when they are due. The bad news was that it was ten minutes or so late. In the meantime the other service arrived so we go on that and had an interesting tour of the Shropshire countryside before getting to our destination. 

Oswestry is a rather nice market town and in history was in an important position strategically on the border of Wales. Apparently the name is thought to be a corruption of Oswald’s Tree. Poor Oswald  was defeated in battle and his remains displayed on a tree, you get the idea. Some of the town centre has been pedestrianised and today there was a market of sorts in full swing, I expect a bit different to the first market recorded back in1190!! Next to the Guildhall is a covered market although not as comprehensive as you get in some larger towns. Oswestry has a good range of shops, including some lovely butcher’s shops which seem to survive despite there being two large supermarkets in the town. At the bottom end of the town is Cae Glas Park with its lovely formal  gardens by the main gate. From here we wandered across town to the Wilfred Owen Green. Wilfred Owen, the Great War Poet, was born in Oswestry. Sadly he died seven days before the peace treaty was signed to end the war. He was posthumously awarded the Military Cross.

Time for the bus journey back to the campsite. The problem with unfamiliar bus journeys is that you hope that you will not miss your stop. I did say to the driver where we wanted to get off but it can be quite difficult to know exactly where you are. We did not have the advantage of getting to know the outwards journey because we used a different service. As it happened everything was fine and we were dropped off right outside the site. Talking of the site it has been far from full considering it is still the summer school holidays. When we arrived there were about a dozen units on site and perhaps today another half dozen or so meaning that the site is only about a third full.  

Saturday 2nd September. Another lovely day but something we should not get used to if the weather forecast is to be believed! As we discovered yesterday one of the supermarkets in Oswestry was right next door to the bus station so we again caught the bus back into town. Same thing happened again. The bus we were waiting for was late again so we got on the alternative service so another trip around the Shropshire countryside. When we arrived we thought about having a coffee so walked across to the Cambrian Railway Museum thinking they might have a café. They do but everything was closed up so no luck there! Shopping done it was back to the bus station where the number 70 bus was actually on time. The rest of the day was spent at the van enjoying the sunshine. One interesting observation of a difference between Camping and Caravan Club sites and Caravan and Motorhome Club is that there seem to be far fewer people with dogs on the former. Tomorrow we move on into Wales.


Sunday 3rd September. We are now in Wales proper having left Oswestry this morning in rain. Weather didn’t improve for the whole journey. This was a shame as I am sure the scenery would have been even more stunning had the sun been out. We followed the A5 all the way from Oswestry to Capel Curig where we turned off onto the A4086 and the Llanberis Pass. This route is  spectacular albeit pretty narrow in places so we were thankful we did not encounter anything larger coming in the opposite direction!!! I am not sure I would tow a caravan on this route and it is probably a bit touch and go with a large motorhome. It was interesting that despite the weather there were loads of people everywhere.

Llanberis looks a busy place as we drove through in search of our campsite The Llanberis Touring Park which is part of the Morris Leisure Group who in recent years have opened a series of high quality campsites in the border area and North Wales. If there was a hint of doubt that I would not find the campsite it is because it is very new, only eighteen months since it opened but it also meant I did not have a POI on my TomTom. Just in case you think me lazy for not updating my satellite navigation I did try to add the latest Archie’s set of campsite POI’s but TomTom, the company, seem to be making it harder and harder for owners to update their older devices. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that I will have to change my long held allegiance to a different brand?


Another thing we are having to become accustomed to is the Welsh language. Fortunately all signs are in both English and Welsh. What is difficult is finding any commonality between the two languages. There are some words that seem similar like toiledau for toilet. One interesting one is police or heddlu in Welsh. The interesting thing about the word police is that it is almost the same around the world, with variations to the spelling but easily recognisable. I can only think of Iceland where they use a completely different form of spelling (that’s the trouble with watching too many Scandi TV dramas!!!) No doubt we will learn more as we travel.

Monday 4th September. We knew the weather was not going to be great today so we were rather surprised when the sun started to break through. Even stranger was that it also seemed to be raining at the same time! It was also warmer which made choosing ones attire even more difficult. We walked into Llanberis along the main road which skirts round the lake called Llyn Padarn. In part we used the footpath next to the lake. Margaret spotted the little train of the Llanberis Lake Railway across the water. As we made our way round to look at the station of the Lake Railway we stopped at the Electric Mountain Visitor Centre for a coffee. Had we been prepared to hang around for a couple of hours we could have had a tour of the Dinorwig Power Station. Dinorwig is a pumped storage hydroelectric generating power station. Water is released from a higher water storage reservoir to a lower reservoir to create an immediate fill up to the National Grid at times of peak demand. The upper reservoir is replenished by using off peak electricity overnight.

Refreshed by our coffee and in my case by a slice of carrot cake we continued our exploration. First the Lake Railway but unfortunately no train in view. Llanberis is blessed with two railways and perhaps the second is more famous, The Snowden Mountain Railway which takes you up to the top of Snowdon. This service is, of course, very weather dependent and sometimes they only go so far up. Given the weather conditions I was not convinced the nearly £40 a head was a good investment. Had it been a clear sunny day then I would have been tempted. Two of the trains were steamed up and it seems they use them in turn. Like most mountain railways the have a third cogged wheel which allows them to climb the steeper gradients. Despite the weather there were enough customers to virtually fill the one coach being used today.

We walked back through the village having a look at the shops en route. The site seems to be even busier today. I suppose to the Mountain Railway it is a walk of about a mile to a mile and half so even us old crocks can manage!!! 

Tuesday 5th September. Well we have had torrential rain since yesterday evening so no point in making and effort to go out this morning. Fortunately by early afternoon it had more or less stopped so we walked back into Llanberis. The main purpose was to post some birthday cards which we had forgotten to post the day before. The post box was outside a café called Pete’s Eats!!! The reason I think we missed it yesterday was that the café had such lurid coloured table clothes that we completely missed something as plain as a red post box!!! We explored the shops a bit more on this occasion including a craft shop although to me it was more of a gift shop. As part of the building there was a café but when we went in it was so hot that we exited pretty quickly. Thank goodness for the Electric Mountain café opposite which got our trade two days running. As we walked back to the site along the lakeside the clouds were starting to break up and actual sunshine was at risk of breaking through. It wasn’t until we got back to the site that the sun actually came out.

Wednesday 6th September. A better day weather wise, at least with no rain, but also with a few bright intervals. We went back into Llanberis today. We had noticed a path when going backward and forward to the village and it seemed that we could take a short cut at the back of the campsite. It seemed to work as it took a bit of a chunk off the distance to the village. We were heading for the National Slate Museum. En Route we were able to see the Lakeside Railway in action at the station immediately outside the Museum. In the station we had something to eat and drink at their Buffet, not quite Brief Encounters, but busy none the less.

Slate was clearly the major industry in this part of Wales. We attended a demonstration of slate splitting which was made to look so simple. Also trimming to size. Slates are cut with a slightly bevelled edge as a flat edge would allow water to creep under the slate it was resting on. Apparently the slate workers, who cut and prepared the slates at the mines, did not get paid for all of the slates they prepared. They had to take a reduction to allow for breakages en route to the destination which hardly seems fair. The tragedy is that most slate is now imported from other countries as home produced slate can’t compete on price. Many of what are now considered tourist narrow gauge railways were once the work horses of the slate industry.

After our visit to the Slate Museum we wandered over to the Snowdon Mountain Railway. The improved weather was obviously beneficial as the signs were out explaining that all of today’s trips were sold out. We got chatting to a couple who are parked opposite us on the campsite and they were waiting for their train at 3.00pm, the trip takes about two and a half hours. This is our last day at Llanberis before we move on tomorrow. I have to say it’s been an excellent spot to stay. Not only has the campsite been very good but there is a lot to do without needing to go further afield.



Thursday 7th September. The forecast was more for rain most of the day. I can’t say I was disappointed that it was dryer than forecast!!! We made our way further south today to Barmouth. I had plotted into the journey a stop at Porthmadog so that I could top up with fuel and if there was room in the carpark some shopping. The carpark was full so nowhere to park the beast. I even struggled in the fuel station as it was much tighter than most Tesco’s. We eventually managed for fuel but no food. We have enough for the immediate few days, maybe a week but we like to top up as we go.

Back on the road again and TomTom wanted us to go down the A496 coast road. The only trouble was that at Maentwrog where we were meant to turn off the A470 there were no entry signs and although there was a second turning it would have been unmanageable from the direction we were coming from. So we carried on down the A470 to Llanelityd and approached Barmouth from the opposite direction. The road was generally fine except for the final section into the town which was a bit hairy!!! We were heading for Hendre Mynach Caravan and Camping Park which is about a mile and a half out of the centre of Barmouth. Had we arrived in the town on the original road it would have been an easy right turn into the site but coming from the town required a very sharp left turn and down a very long steeply sloping road down into the site.

There was a nice welcome in Reception and we were taken to our pitch. It is interesting to contrast this site with the one we left this morning. That was brand new and spacious and even when full did not seem crowded. The pitch we have here at Hendre Mynach is perfectly large enough but you sense the site would feel crowded if it were full. Perhaps it’s the narrowness of the site roads and the mix of pitches? Once we had set up we decided to have a wander around the site and also out onto the promenade across the railway line that runs along the length of the campsite. The beach looks wonderful and you can imagine how busy it would be on a hot sunny day.

 Friday 8th September. Nice when the weather forecast is wrong in your favour! Although it was a bit Sod’s law as immediately before we started our walk into Barmouth it rained so we donned our Berghaus waterproofs. Although the rain had stopped the waterproofs could have been useful as the onshore breeze was throwing spray over the top of the promenade wall. So much so that we decided to walk on the opposite pavement. As we progressed the sun started to make an appearance so the waterproofs got progressively warmer and heavier!!! If walking into Barmouth there are two choices, the one we took along the promenade or via the main road which means almost climbing out of the site via the steep approach road! It is about a mile and a half into the town from our pitch and I have to say we are both increasingly finding it a struggle. Whether this is because we are out of condition, more than possible, or just old age. At least we had the bonus of an increasingly lovely day which had taken everyone by surprise.

Barmouth seems a nice place. We found the Harbour and could see the railway bridge across the estuary. The place was still buzzing with visitors. We found a café for a sandwich and a coffee. It was called the Isis Pizzeria, I wonder if they regret that name now! Restored we wander up through the town that still consists of a pretty good range of independent shops. We had a look at the station just to see if we might like to explore the area a bit further. Nearby was a Co-Op supermarket where we got a few bits to maintain our supplies before returning to the campsite along the promenade. The tide had receded to expose the lovely sandy beach which must be popular in the summer with the children. They have been replaced with adults and dogs as summer merges into autumn. Back at the van I checked my phone app to see how far we had walked and it showed 6.5 kilometres which is four miles in old money. We are both starting to struggle with this sort of distance but not sure how we can overcome. I notice my knee is getting a bit swollen when I do these walks although not particularly painful, unless I am just used to that! 

Saturday 9th September. Last night was very windy which meant the bike cover was flapping around which made it difficult to get to sleep. So we have had a pretty lazy day today. We had intended to walk back into Barmouth as there was a collection of vintage Lorries gathering in one of the car parks but every time we attempted to leave the site the heavens opened so we gave up in the end. Ironically by late afternoon we had an almost perfect blue sky!!! We had intended to stay at this site for a couple more days, giving Aberystwyth a miss as we could not find a site with all-weather pitches. However the forecast over the next few days seems to suggest very windy conditions so we would prefer to be further inland. We will drive over to Hereford tomorrow and probably cut out Tenby as well. That still leaves us searching for a few days between Hereford and Cardiff.


Sunday 10th September. We were away from Hendre Mynach by mid-morning. Getting back up the long steep drive was not as bad as we had imagined it would be. Likewise, getting through Barmouth was also OK, not so sure they will have that many visitors today. Hendre Mynach was an interesting site and in many ways ideally situated. The facilities were OK without being outstanding. Perhaps a problem of judging every site by the standards achieved by the Caravan and Motorhome Club?

I was surprised when I set up TomTom that the journey time was three hours?  However the journey was across country on some interesting roads. The scenery would have been magnificent had we been able to see it through the gloom and rain. It would have been nice to have seen it in the sunshine. We got to Luckshall Caravan and Camping Park just before 2.00pm. Luckshall is a big site and seems to cater for statics, seasonal pitches as well as tourers and tents. The only problem is that all the hardstandings used by those of us touring are right at the far end of the site. Tomorrow we will try out the local bus service, we are about 5 miles out of Hereford.

Monday 11th September. Another mixed day weather wise but fortunately with a fair share of sunshine. We caught the bus into Hereford today. It was surprising to see how many people from the campsite were also waiting for the bus and quite a few were actually paying!!! As usual country buses like to go round the houses so a 15 minute direct journey takes twice as long. We were dropped off at the bus station and we walked down to the new shopping centre where we had a coffee at the Waitrose before making our way into the City Centre. There are some interesting buildings in Hereford, I rather liked the Town Hall but that had scaffolding on! Also good to see the efforts made to have lovely floral displays everywhere.  The Cathedral is of quite modest proportions compared with many but in some ways that makes it nicer. As we approached the Cathedral via a narrow street we noticed a bronze sculpture, it was of Sir Edward Elgar famous for his Pomp and Circumstances Marches from which Land of Hope and Glory came and is performed every year at the Last Night of the Proms.   What I had forgotten was that Hereford Cathedral was the home of the Mappi Munda. This is an ancient map of the world at the time it was produce on the skin of calf. Just looking at it makes very little sense. However the short three minute video we watched explained a lot. As I mentioned it is a map of the known world consisting of Europe, Arabia and Africa, The New World had yet to be discovered. At the centre of the map is Jerusalem, the centre of Christianity. Also shown is the Red Sea. With these two pieces of information it starts to make a bit more sense. There is a fee for visiting this part of the Cathedral but it was not excessive and also includes the Chained Library which I suppose is self-explanatory. As we left the Cathedral the heavens opened if you will forgive the pun! But within seconds it had stopped. After some shopping we made our way back to the bus station only to find the same gang of suspects that caught the bus with us in the morning.

Luckshall is an interesting site. Not because of the facilities which are perfectly fine, except for a lack of site wide WiFi which is proving to be inconvenient and costly, more about that later. Things this morning did not get off to a good start when Margaret gave a guy who was allowing his dogs to pee on our pitch one of her looks. And when I say “looks” I mean one that could curdle milk!!! He seemed to take exception to this saying he can’t stop his dogs having a wee. I did point out to him that if he walked his dogs in the middle of the road rather than over other people’s pitches the problem might be avoided or is that too much like common sense. He seemed to get very agitated about this and took our pitch number and threatened to report us to reception. I am not quite sure on what grounds but there you go. Later when we were walking to the bus he was clearing up after his dogs who had defecated on the site road. At least he had taken my advice and he was the one shovelling shit which I found quite amusing!!! 

On the WiFi front I have been using my phone as a WiFi point which I have done for some years when there has been no local service. I had deliberately added more data to my monthly allowance to cover such circumstances. I don’t know if it has any bearing on the situation but a couple of months ago I changed over to the 4G phone package which offers higher internet speeds. Since doing so 5GB of data seems to disappear in an hour when in the past on 3G a couple of hundred MB of data would last a day or two? It did not help that Virgin decided to tell me I had used all my data at 3.00am in the morning which I could have done without as the text woke me up!!! I am at a loss to understand why I should be using so much when for the same amount of traffic at home I would have used less. I will investigate further.  

Tuesday 12th September. A much brighter start to the day. Shopping today so back into Hereford on the bus. We had to be a bit slick with our timing. The bus leaves the site at 12.05 and if we wanted to get the 1.30pm bus back we had about an hour to do it all. As it happened we even managed a quick coffee and all the shopping and managed to get to the bus stop with time to spare. Later on when back at the site I decided to give the site WiFi a try. Sitting outside reception seems like something from another age!!!

Wednesday 13th September. Apparently a year ago  the day time temperature was in the low thirties, today we were lucky to get half that!!! Also overnight we have the effect of Storm Aileen with very high wind speeds. This was one of the reasons we moved away from the coast. A pretty lazy day today spent on site. We did treat ourselves to the site restaurant this evening, not an exciting menu but not bad value. This is our last day in Hereford and we move on tomorrow, we are heading to Cardiff.


Thursday 14th September. Not been too bad a day weather wise, nice and sunny but a bit chilly out of the sun. We are back in Welsh Wales at the CMC site called Tredegar House campsite near Newport. It was a relatively short journey of about 50 miles. Tredegar House and grounds are owned by Newport Council but managed by the National Trust. After we had set up we had a wander around the Estate. To visit the house you have to pay so we will leave that for another day. There are some craft shops and a café. One of the aims of the walk was to try and establish how far the bus service to Cardiff was from the site. It seems a lot further than we thought. The irony is that from our pitch to the bus stop is less than a hundred metres but there is a wall in the way!!! It seems beyond belief that the Club have not negotiated with the National Trust a more direct route?

Friday 15th September. We went into Cardiff today. There was some debate on how we should achieve this objective. The site seem to promote the use of the bus which in fairness is pretty good value at £3.60 for a day ticket which can also be used on buses within Cardiff. The only issue is that the bus stop is quite a hike from the site. The buses are every half hour and the journey takes about 45 minutes. So, unless, your timing is spot on we are looking at perhaps nearly two hours to get into Cardiff. An alternative, albeit more expensive because it uses taxi’s, is to use the train from Newport.  The second method would be best for any one with mobility issues or who might struggle with a longer journey. Obviously using taxis is not cheap and I suppose we spent £18 to get to and from the station bit it’s not something we do a lot. The actual train fare was about the same as the bus with our Railcard.

Since we have been away the weather has been very unpredictable which makes it difficult to know what to wear as wandering around in a waterproof when it’s not actually raining can be very uncomfortable.  Anyway decisions made and only time will tell if they were correct! We didn’t have too long to wait for our train and the journey is about twenty minutes. It is only a short walk into the centre of Cardiff’s main shopping area from the station. We decided to have a spot of lunch in the rather nice John Lewis store before starting our wander around the City. There is a lot of redevelopment work going on everywhere. Cardiff does seem to have managed to blend old and new together quite well. We kept coming across statutes of dogs in different guises called SnowdogsWales. We were making our way to the Castle when it started to rain so we nipped into the rather lovely Cardiff Central Market.  The fishmonger immediately inside was magnificent with a massive selection of fish. We continued towards Cardiff Castle with its impressive walls and tower. We had a peek inside the entrance and could see the Norman Keep but decided against paying to explore further. We then continued to the river bridge where we walked along the river past the Millennium Stadium which was opened by Tony Blair almost 20 years ago to the day. It is a magnificent construction but what I found slightly puzzling was that it was built right up close, to almost touching, Cardiff Arms Park! As we got to the end of the riverside walk it started to rain and then even more so, it was chucking it down. We took shelter in the Brewery Quarter which in itself was not that waterproof and we were already wet!!! As there was little indication it was going to dry up anytime soon we made our way back to the station and the train back to Newport. We had clearly only had a taster of Cardiff so there will be an excuse to return. If that happens to be in the motorhome we will  seriously consider using the site actually in Cardiff as that would allow much more time for exploration.

Saturday 16th September. A pretty relaxing day as we watched the Qualification for the Singapore GP. Afterwards we did walk through the Park to the local convenience store. Since early evening it has been hammering it down. 

Sunday 17th September. It’s been a pretty good day weather wise with lots of sunshine although still chilly at times but as we are moving into the third week of September perhaps I am asking a lot to expect it to get warmer? It was the Singapore Grand Prix today so it was a pretty lazy day. Quite a few left the site today but almost as many arrived and whilst there are available pitches there are not many.

Monday 18th September. This is our last day here at Tredegar so we thought we should make the effort to visit the house. Initially we had thought we wouldn’t bother as the roof is being renovated and the building is covered in scaffolding and plastic but despite that it would seem an opportunity missed. Weather wise is was a dull, but dry, day when we left for the house. I was expecting the gardens to be slightly more impressive than they actually proved to be. One element of the immediate grounds that was impressive was the, fine and ornate, wrought iron entrance gates.  The interior of the house was not dissimilar to other houses we have been in of the same period. Often what takes the interest is the people who lived there and in this case it was the Morgan family. One member of the family actually took part in the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimea and others that did philanthropic works locally and then there are those that just seem to live off the fat of the land. As the family literally died out the house became a school and this is how Newport Council became involved with its ownership. The reason for the renovation work is that the entire roof required major repair as it was leaking badly. Apparently 10000 slates had to be replaced!

Having explored the house we had a lunch stop at the adjacent café to fortify us for the next stage of the day. This was to more fully explore the grounds of the house. Within the grounds is a fairly large lake which can be seen from the house. There is a path all round the perimeter of the lake and the grounds which we decided to explore. I was interested to see if there was any other access into the Park. There were some gates at one point but they were firmly locked. We completed our walk just as it started to rain!


Tuesday 19th September. It dawned a lovely day today. We were away from the site quite early as we wanted some shopping and decided to use the large ASDA store near the campsite. Fortunately the car park was quite large so we parked in the furthest corner and Margaret went off to do the shopping. We also took the opportunity to fill up with fuel. We were off to Brecon today to the CMC site there. Brecon is about 50 miles north of Newport. The road was particularly attractive particularly once past Merthyr Tydfil with some lovely scenery. The site is quite large and unusually has a rather nice site shop.

The excitement of the day started early evening. I had gone outside for a moment but when I went back inside the van I found Margaret collapsed on the bed. She had clearly passed out. She is often dizzy when she stands up and particularly if she reaches up about her head but this was more serious. She was also feeling very sick so I felt it was a bit more serious so I called for an ambulance. They arrived pretty quickly and decided, given Margaret’s history, that she really needed to be checked out in hospital. By around 8.00pm we were en route to Abergavenny which was the nearest A&E. Because by now Margaret had been sick they wanted to isolate her from other patients. This caused quite a delay and what I was unaware of was that the ambulance people had to hang around until space was found which seemed a bit of a waste. Anyway the night worn on and eventually turned into morning and after many tests Margaret was given the all clear and was signed off at around 2.30am. It was made clear to us that we would have to make our own way back the meaning of which was only just dawning on us!!! We enquired at reception about a taxi and they kindly rang a few local companies for us but as we quickly discovered the idea of a 24 hour taxi service seemed not to exist in Abergavenny despite claims to the contrary!  The minutes and an hour ticked by. One of the nurses said that a taxi often drops by on spec around 3.30am. That time came and went. We were preparing ourselves to spend the night in A&E reception!!! By now there was someone else hoping for a taxi. Around 4.00am I saw a taxi pull into the car park which I immediately rushed out to. Initially I thought that lady had somehow ordered the taxi but she clearly hadn’t so I decided to assert myself as I was not prepared to spend any more time sitting in reception. I said we needed a ride to Brecon and agreed a price. We got back to the campsite about 4.45am £40 poorer but I was getting to the point of signing away the deeds to my house to get a taxi.

Wednesday 20th September. A bit confused when one day ends and another begins. Anyway as you might imagine it was a pretty lazy day. One of the wardens came round to ask how things were which was nice.

Thursday 21st September. As you can imagine we are still trying to catch up on sleep so we had a slow start to the day. Weather wise it is still very changeable so we just have to decide to do things regardless. After lunch we decided to walk into Brecon along the canal.  Mon and Brec or more formally the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal originally consisted of two canals but all that remains navigable today is the 35 miles between Brecon and Pontymoile. I suppose from the campsite it is a couple of miles to the canal basin in Brecon. You first have to negotiate the crossing of several main roads before you find the steps down to the towpath. It makes a pleasant stroll into town. There was a trip boat with what looked like a pensioners outing on board. No locks and not many bridges on this stretch of the canal. The canal basin in Brecon has a pretty situation with houses and the new Theatre, which had a handy café which we made use of. Refreshed we walked up into the town with its narrow streets. Seemed to have a good selection of shops. Even saw two banks which seem to be an increasing rare thing these days. It is also a Garrison Town which I am sure makes a difference to what the town can support. We were on a tight time schedule as our bus back to the campsite was just before 4.00pm. Timings seem to be a bit strange as the 43 service runs both a local and direct route to Abergavenny but only the local route stops at the campsite so they are not as frequent. By the time we had our evening meal there was not a cloud in the sky!!!

Friday 22nd September. Our lovely cloudless sky of the evening before has consequences in that it was very cold overnight, down to three degrees. I am not keen on leaving the heating on overnight so I rely of getting up in time to put the heating/hot water on in time for our showers. Even using the heating system on both gas and electric sometimes the water does not heat up enough for two showers but we manage.

After breakfast we decided to go back to the canal but walked in the other direction to Brynich Lock. First we had to negotiate the main roads again but once on the canal side you are in a different world. Brynich Lock is the last on the canal before it terminates in Brecon. When we got there a boat was actually using the lock which added to the interest. Whilst not a wide canal the locks seem wider than the narrow canals in England. We walked a bit further to the aqueduct across the River Usk. This was being renovated, or at least the walls were. Chatting to a man from the Canal and River Trust he said they had originally only intended to work on the inside of the wall but when they started to dismantle they discovered the outside walling also needed attention so a much bigger job that first thought. For our return we thought about retuning via The Three Horseshoes pub but this meant walking along a fairly busy road with no apparent footpath which Margaret wasn’t keen on so we retraced our route along the canal.

The site has certainly filled up today, even some of the grass pitches have been brought back into use. Unusually this site has about a 50/50 split of hardstandings between serviced and non-serviced. I just wonder how many people book a serviced pitch in order to secure a hardstanding? On this site with relatively few grass pitches you would think not many but clearly some feel that the £4 premium is worth it to avoid the small risk

Saturday 23rd September. A lazy day today as initially the weather was not great although it was better later on. Anyway plenty of time to read the Guardian which is voluminous at the weekend. It’s actually quite nice to be able to go to a campsite shop and buy a paper without ordering in advance. This is our last day here at Brecon and the last day of our Welsh odyssey before moving, yet again, to England.


Sunday 24th September. A dull day as we left Brecon which seemed to miraculously improve as we crossed into England!!! Slightly ironically as we passed through Abergavenny we passed the hospital where Margaret spent all those hours a few nights ago! So no more dual language signs which does cause a bit of confusion. I suppose in an ideal world they would just be in Welsh and us visitors would just have to get used to it. The trouble is that, seemingly, there are fewer Welsh people speaking their own language according to the last census. I think I am getting to quite like travelling on a Sunday as there is far less commercial traffic and cars just want to go faster than us. We followed the A40 for some way and then joined the M50 before heading south on the M5 for a short distance before heading across country to Broadway where we are staying at the CMC site. The actual site is very busy and we were ushered past the queue of caravans waiting at reception on surrender of our membership card. I think the idea was that a motorhome causes the minimum of disruption whilst getting onto a pitch where as a caravan can block access whilst they get onto a pitch.

Once we had, had lunch we had a wander around the site which was indeed pretty full. We left the site to cross over to have a look at progress on Broadway Station which when we were last here, five years ago, it was basically just foundations. The Signal Box seems essentially finished and the actually station building looks well on the way. The plan is by March 2018 trains will once again depart from Broadway Station nearly sixty years after it closed in 1960. Back on site we went up to the old Goods Yard building which is now a facility block. It also houses The Wanderer which is apparently the first purpose built leisure touring caravan which originates from 1895. Good that it has a permanent home on a Club site.

Monday 25th September. Very heavy rain overnight which had eased off by the morning but leaving a very gloomy and muggy day. We needed a bit of shopping so we walked into Broadway after breakfast. I think I need to find some better attire as my full Berghaus was like walking in a sauna!!! Along the road into Broadway there are a few B&B’s, a Care Home and Retired person’s complex. Rather intriguingly there was a for sale sign suggesting one of the flats might soon be available. This conjured up all sorts of thoughts in my mind as to how it might soon be available!!!

Even in the gloom of a grey day Broadway is an attractive place. That honey coloured stone seems to give out its own sunshine. Even the plants which are going past their best seem to be at one with the stone. There were still a fair few people wandering around despite the weather. We found a café for a cup of coffee before setting off to find the Budgens supermarket which was around the back of the main road through the village. At least the way back to the campsite is down hill.

Tuesday 26th September. This is our last day at Broadway before we go home after nearly a month away. Weather wise it has been a very nice day with lots of sunshine. Didn’t do much today other than to wander around the site.

Wednesday 27th September. A fairly straightforward journey home but we seemed to be cursed  with slow drivers who pull out in front of us but then don’t advance to the permitted speed limit despite roads capable of doing that speed!!!  Just in case you think it must be the impatience of your scribe when a 30 tonne aggregate lorry is forced to overtake matey you get the picture. Interestingly he was driving a car with a towbar so I wonder if he tows his caravan at slow speeds?


3rd December 2017. A return trip to Chatsworth so that we can visit the Big House to see the Christmas display and the Christmas Market which had finished when we got here last year a week later than this. We were ready to go by about 10.30am, mindful of the fact that we couldn’t arrive at the site until after 1.00pm. Mind you things were conspiring against us. Firstly Margaret was loading some stuff in the van when she managed to twist her ankle which became progressively more painful as the day went on. Just as we were about to leave I noticed that I had trodden in something untoward!!!

The better news was that the M1 whilst busy with cars had far fewer lorries which is a bonus and generally makes it easier to join the motorway. Some of the road works between Northampton and the M6 seemed to have come to an end but there were still some in place. I am a bit confused about “Smart Motorways” as there seems to be two sorts. The ones where they are controlled by overhead signs which open up the hard shoulder as an additional lane which have refuges for emergencies. The second so called “Smart Motorways which just seem to open up the hard shoulder as a regular lane, again with refuges. I think I prefer the latter as they permanently increase the capacity of the road.

We stopped at Trowell to buy coffee for now and some sandwiches for later. All the lorries in the parking area seemed to have foreign plates. As I pulled back onto the motorway I was impressed how easy that was with the additional lane but it took me a second or two to realise I had a warning light on the dashboard in the shape of a steering wheel. It suggested to me that it was a problem with the power steering which was confirmed when we stopped at the next services at Tibshelf. We parked for a few minutes so that I could turn the engine off and restart to see if that cured the problem, which it did. Thinking about it I think previously I had started the engine before all the initial ignition lights had gone out which caused the light for the power steering to stay on. On restart it went out and remained out so hopefully it was just a blip, time will tell.

Soon we were heading off the motorway towards Chesterfield. From some way out you can see the famous twisted spire of the church in the town. Apparently caused by using unseasoned timber in the construction of the spire. Chesterfield was busy with Christmas shoppers as we made our way through the town. Leaving the built up area behind there is a steady climb out of the town towards the open countryside of the Peak District and then down towards the Derwent Valley. So far the journey had been pretty light in traffic terms but about a couple of miles out of Baslow we came to a standstill and crawled along at less than walking pace. I do wish people would not leave such big gaps between cars as it would encourage a feeling of hope that we were making progress!!  The delay seems to have been caused by an extra set of traffic lights to allow people to exit from the Chatsworth Christmas Market. Once past these lights we were only a minute or two from the turn off into the site road. We progressed into the lane but in the distance we could see a queue of motorhomes and caravans waiting to be checked in. The reception area at Chatsworth CMC can only take about three or four units at a time so one of the wardens was stationed some way out from the humped back bridge and we were only allowed to continue as the reception area cleared. We joked with the lady in the motorhome ahead of us, through the windows, as she was making the bed up. When I saw her later on site when they were still looking for a pitch I said to her that it was good job she had made the bed up as she will be needing it by the time she finds a pitch!!!

Monday 4th December. Today Paul our eldest son and his wife Marisa are driving up from Milton Keynes with Marisa’s parents who hail from São Paulo in Brazil and are here in Europe for a couple of months. What they have discovered since arriving is that the UK in winter is a lot colder than where they live, they have previously only been here in the summer.

The day dawned reasonably bright and the temperature was also OK. I know regular readers may well be getting fed up with all of our ailments but they do have an impact on what we do. About eight weeks ago I did something to my good knee and it has been extremely painful and I was seriously concerned whether I would be able to walk as far as the “Big” house as I have struggled to do the shopping some days!!! With both knees braced and dosed up with pain killers we set off for Chatsworth House. As we walked along we could see the cars pouring into the estate so it looked as if it was going to be busy. This in the penultimate day for the Christmas Market which might explain how busy it was. We make a right pair between us with Margaret with her ankle strapped up but we made it to the house. We have often been to Chatsworth at this time of year but this was the first time when the market was on. We had some time for our visitors to arrive so we wandered around the market stalls working our way up towards the Stable Yard where we had a coffee and mince pie.

The gang arrived and they had a look round the market and stable yard before making our way to the house for our tour. We had booked online a couple of weeks ago which was just as well as the board by the house entrance indicated that several slots were sold out. Chatsworth has a different theme every year and this year it was based around stories of Charles Dickens. A couple of the exhibits even had actors taking on the role of characters including Fagin and Miss Havisham. Having completed our tour we all had a cup of tea before setting off in our separate directions. I think out overseas visitors enjoyed the experience even if they would have preferred it to have been a bit warmer. Given that the day had been reasonably mild compared to the recent heavy frosts!

Given my concern of a couple of weeks before on whether I would be able to walk the distance I was rather proud of the fact that I managed reasonably OK today. It just goes to show that you have to apply yourself and not give up.

Tuesday 5th December. A dry if dull day today and a pretty lazy day today basically because my knees were suffering from yesterday’s exertions. Giving how well I thought I had managed it had certainly come back and bit me in the bum! This is our last full day here and we leave for home tomorrow.

During our short stay here the site has certainly been busy. On Sunday about seventy units left the site and seventy arrived and both days since seemed to have had a fair number of departures and arrivals although not perhaps on the same scale. I am sure the Chatsworth Christmas Market is a big attraction. There seem to be a fair few units with Christmas lights on display.

Wednesday 6th December. Reasonably smooth journey home today. The four lanes introduced on the M1 seem to be making the motorway feel less crowded and easier to overtake. Shame the same can’t be said about the service areas. We stopped at Leicester Forest East and were lucky to find a space but we managed to get in between two lorries. I did have a look at some of the services on Google Earth and often they could expand the service area on one side of the road but not the other. I am not so keen on those services that take you off the motorway. Anyway, refreshed by our coffee we continued our journey, leaving the M1 at junction 15 to allow us to fill up with fuel for one last time this year. I had intended to wash the van when we got home but it started to rain so that will be a job for another day. I did take the opportunity to drain everything down as the current mild weather is not predicted to last with icy conditions prevailing by the weekend. I don’t envisage that we will be out in the van again over the next month or two as we have a lot going on in both December and January but if we have a winter heat wave we might be tempted!!!