This is my original blog – all my blogs  since I started in 2009 - are here including those from The Ale Archive – all the beers I’ve sampled at home and on our travels since 2012.

Since 2012 most of our travel has involved a caravan. I now have a specific caravanning blog called (Get Your) Legs Down which documents all our trips and includes product reviews and pubs! It too is on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Just a quick one….

I just can’t resist an innuendo. Anyway, the summer holidays are almost upon us – for those of us that work at a certain private school on the south coast anyway. Next Friday will see my 340th (ish) trip to Eastbourne and then it’s all over until the end of August. It’s been another busy school year with lots and lots of overtime – and miles - clocked up.

Which means of course, it’s nearly Patsy time! Yes!

We’re staying this side of the channel again this year, mainly thanks to my cousin’s youngest getting married at the beginning of August, so the trips has been planned around that. We’re starting off in Oxfordshire, in the southern tip of the Cotswolds in Burford at Wysdom Touring Park before moving up to Moreton-in-Marsh for the first of the year’s Twittercamps. It will be great to catch up with the regular but there will be some new faces there too which we’re very much looking forward to meeting. Hopefully it will be warm enough to sit out but if not there’s plenty of pubs a short walk away!

Next is a return visit to Llwynifam Farm near Llanelli in South Wales. Attentive Legs Down readers may recall that we stopped here on the way to Ireland a few years back. It’s a cracking site with terrific pitches offering wonderful view and great facilities as well. Hopefully too we will at last get to meet up with fellow caravanner and blogger Paul who lives just up the road from the site. There might be a beer or two involved…

We head back east next to Longleat for a week – another new site for us, although we’ve already been lucky enough to meet wardens Gail & Mark. Looking forward to catching up with them again. Beer? Quite possibly!

Then it’s probably the longest trundle of the trip, over to Essex to Woodpecker Meadow just outside Colchester. It has electric hook ups, a shower and toilet and is fifteen quid a night. We’re there for two weeks which will include the wedding but also a trip to Southend to catch up with Richard Burgess and his team at the Cover4Caravans head office.

After the wedding we head up to Norfolk, a few miles southeast of Kings Lynn to Narborough Fisheries with my cousin Andy and wife Janet. We’ve got a week here and I’m very much looking forward to some time with them

The return journey south begins at Fields End In Cambridgeshire with the final stop of the trip at Ashridge Farm in Hertfordshire. This was on the list for our December trip after Commons Wood but as you may recall, with the sad passing of Trev’s Mum we had to bypass it and head straight to Cambridge.

So, there it is our summer tour. Eight sites in eight counties in eight weeks – the 888 tour. Blogs, site tours, reviews, natters and more throughout. Come along for the ride – it should be fun – weather permitting….

888 tour

Monday, 4 June 2018

Friends in the Forest.

Ever since we spent a few days shuttling kids to and from the New Forest a few years ago we said we’d love to go back in the caravan but it kept getting bumped down the list. Then we found out that fellow caravanning bloggers Deb & Steve would be starting their new jobs as assistant wardens at the Caravan & Motorhome Club site near Bransgore. Their blog is well worth a read - check it out HERE.The chance to meet up and explore a new area at the same time was too good an opportunity to pass up and what a great week it was too. Here goes, let the waffle commence (too late….)

The miserable excuse for a main road that is the A27 was surprisingly kind to us, even given our early start. None of the usual hold ups in Worthing, Arundel or around Chichester saw us waiting in a layby for half an hour so as not to arrive too early. Even the queue to get through Lyndhurst was uncharacteristically short.

Set up was swift if a little sweaty thanks to a rare bright thing in the sky, even though I had reluctantly conceded that a t-shirt was more appropriate than my usual get up. It was black though. Obviously.

It’s during the first afternoon away that we make a list of stuff we’ve forgotten and this trip was no different. Milk was top of the last, the recently purchased 4 pint carton still sitting in the fridge at home. Next up was a new one for us. Bed linen. The duvet covers were all washed and ironed. At home. The last was booze. Yes you read it right. Aside from some Scotch in the drinks cabinet, the cupboards were bare grog wise. Fortunately for us, though not for the wallet a supermarket a few minutes drive away took care of everything.

It was a busy week although not through sightseeing. Deb & Steve had the weekend off so we took advantage of the visiting chip van on Saturday night. On Sunday, the little Cadac was dusted off and performed some cremations as friends Gail & Mark joined us too. I say friends - we’d never met but have been conversing for ages on Twitter so it felt like we knew them already. Gail & Mark are also club wardens at another site and we’re already looking forward to catching up with them again later in the year.

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Monday saw the arrival of Gladys. No, not another caravanner but a caravan in the shape of a lovingly restored 1967 Bailey Maestro led by Lee Davey and son Charlie. Lee & Charlie spent about 18 months not only restoring Gladys but bringing her up to date for the 21st century with the addition of heating, solar panel, USB points and hot water.

DSC_0081DSC_0076Check out Lee’s YouTube channel here to see the videos they made documenting the restoration. Lee and Charlie - and later Lee’s Wife Helen joined us for more burnt offerings as did fellow caravanning friends and Twittercamp regulars Sam and Andy who very generously contributed to my ongoing ‘research’ project by way of some beers from local Dorset breweries. Check out our video of a special Natter with Lee & Charlie about Gladys HERE

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Tuesday saw us venture further than the supermarket for the first time on the trip with a run to Christchurch Quay and Priory. Now Christchurch has - so I was told later - a similar reputation to Worthing and Eastbourne - that of God’s waiting room. It also has - according to some very brief research - i.e Google - an average house price of around £323,000. Eastbourne it is then….

All that aside the Quays is a charming area to visit - tea rooms, terraced restaurants, waterside walks, river cruises and a great little water park for kids too. You could smell the money in the Priory Quays development of waterside properties and the walk along the waterside past the Priory and into town was lovely. Deb & Steve treated us to a lovely meal in the evening before adjourning to Patsy for an entertaining grog fuelled chinwag.

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We headed south again on Wednesday and emerged on the coast at Barton-on-Sea, travelling east before pausing at Keyhaven. You will see from the photo’s that it was a rather murky day but it was a very pleasant little place nonetheless. An arduous walk along the shingle spit will find you at Hurst Castle and there were plenty doing just that. For the less energetic a ferry is available from the little harbour. We did neither but should have taken the ferry over. Oh well, there’ll be another time.

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Final destination of the day was bustling Lymington and a very busy Quayside. My walking abilities are somewhat limited at the moment thanks to my uncooperative left knee. You may recall me going on about this last summer - well eventually, thanks to some foot  orthotics from the clinic the situation improved immensely for a few months but now it seems like we’re heading back to square one. Terrific. A return appointment at the clinic is pending.

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With rain on an off for most of Thursday we got no further than the nearby village of Bransgore for an excellent evening meal in The Crown having lavished some considerable attention on Patsy’s interior during the day by way of a very thorough hoover and dust.

We were on the road once again on Friday the destination being Buckler’s Hard near Beaulieu. For the uninitiated - and that included me before I looked it up - the ‘hard’ refers in nautical terms to a firm area by water where boats can be launched. A blog post be Deb which you can find HERE inspired us and it was a good call too. A little museum tells the story of the area and the village and a woman in period costume gave us a short guided tour. It’s a fantastic location - two roads of houses fronted by wide grass banks looking down to the Beaulieu River. You can take a boat trip along said river but time was marching on so we gave it a miss. What is with this trip and missing boats? Anyway, well worth a visit if you’re down this way. There are dining options in the shape of a cafĂ© and pub - unbelievably we visited neither - but if you bring a picnic there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the view too. On the way out we bumped into some fellow caravanners who have been following our caravanning adventures since the start through this blog. Needless to say a chinwag ensued. Thanks for saying hello Brian & Sue and hope to catch up on site somewhere soon.

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Friday evening saw Patsy welcome more guests in the shape of Karla & Steven, a young caravanning couple from nearby Bournemouth who, again we’d never met but felt as if we did thanks to regular interactions on Twitter. Karla’s blog is also well worth a read and as a wheelchair user gives another perspective on caravanning. Check it out HERE. We presented some burnt offerings from the Cadac while they bestowed us with some delicious mini Victoria sponges. I think we got the better deal!

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And that was the week over. A fairly early getaway meant no queuing to get through Lyndhurst and Patsy was back at rest in her storage bay by lunchtime. We will definitely return to the New Forest at some point as there is so much more to see and do - we’ve barely scratched the surface.

Right, a busy and probably chaotic four weeks back at the circus beckons - and then we’re off again and all those silly o’clock starts will finally feel worth it as our summer of touring begins.

So, until then, thank you as always for reading - if you’ve made it this far!

Cheers & Beers

Rich & Trev.