Sunday, 9th April 2017 – Chichester, Or Thereabouts.
This was our first trip to a Caravan Club Certificated Location. It was about 8 miles north west of Chichester. The journey down on the Friday was a long drawn out affair owing to having to negotiate the M25. It took us the best part of five hours!
Once we got to the site we both agreed it had been worth it. Certificated Locations are for Caravan Club members only and only take five vans. This one had the pitches set out such from our pitch we could only see one other pitch and that was “back over our shoulder”. It was like having the place to ourselves.
The views over the Downs were gorgeous. Of course the weather helped! As the sun went down it was quite hazy and the sun lit up the glass insulators on some high voltage pylons. They looked like they were lights!
Behind our pitch was a pond with trees and shrubs which was a real haven for wildlife.
We saw moorhens, bullfinches, chaffinches, goldfinches, robins amongst others. Looking across the Downs we also saw one of the red kites which have been reintroduced to the area.
On Saturday we went to visit Uppark House & Gardens. This is a National Trust property, so we are getting our money’s worth from our membership. Again the weather was brilliant and we had a wander around the house and gardens
before having lunch on the lawn outside the NT café.
We are great fans of the NT cafés.
In the afternoon we went over to Bosham, a small port within Chichester Harbour. There were plenty of people enjoying the sunshine and we walked around the little bay. The tide was out, but the view back towards Bosham was very pretty.
Sunday morning we had a leisurely start and were off the site by 11:00. This time our journey round the M25 was relatively painless and we got back in 3 hours.
A quick update on the ATC and new tyres. We got the written quote and the van is booked in to the place at Canterbury on Monday 24th April. Next week we are off to Cornwall to spend a week in a holiday let apartment and get back home on Saturday 22nd April, so Kim will drop the van off in Canterbury on the Monday morning “on his way to work”. They will do the work during the week and it should all be ready to collect the following Saturday.
Wednesday, 12th April 2017 – Ten Years Old.
Today the Blog is ten years old! On the 12th April 2007 we started the Blog with our first entry , a recap on the purchase back in January at the London Boat Show and then the long wait for her to be delivered. We went up to Ipswich to first see her on the 21st April and took delivery on the 4th May. Heady days filled with anticipation and excitement!
Friday, 14th April 2017 – Easter In Cornwall.
We have a week's holiday and we have come down to Cornwall. We have not brought the caravan, but are staying in a holiday apartment. The reason for this is, that we booked the apartment back last year before we had decided to buy the caravan. So the caravan stays back at the storage yard and we are staying right on the edge of Marazion, looking out over St Michael's Mount.
We have rented a holiday apartment, one in a complex based on an old Georgian seaside house. Ours is described as a first floor flat, but is actually the upper part of an old stone building set into a slope, thus it is the only one in the complex to have it's own private garden.
What with Good Friday and Kim's four day week, we got to come away on Thursday. We drove down to Honiton, where we stayed in a Premier Inn, before arriving in Marazion on Friday. By splitting the drive over two days, we were able to stop off on the Thursday and see Brancsombe in Devon. On the Friday, we drove across Dartmoor, stopping off to see the prison.
Unfortunately, the Prison was closed to tourists, so we were unable to go and feed the prisoners! Apparently it was due to “unforeseen circumstances”! The mind boggles!
Once we had unloaded our gear at the apartment, we went off to explore Marazion. There appear to be only three pubs in Marazion – The Kings Arms, The Godolphin Arms and The Cutty Sark. The first looked good but was small and very busy, the second was way too far up itself, but the third proved to sell a very good pint of Doombar! On the way back to the apartment we stopped at The Tudor Chippy and picked up excellent haddock & chips.
In the evening we settled down with the telly. This is a very comfortable apartment!
Monday, 17th April 2017 – The Cornish Coastline.
The first part of Saturday was spent on practicalities, namely shopping. We are lucky enough to have a giant Sainsbury's just up the road so went there and stocked up on enough (we hope!) to see us out for the week.
In the afternoon we joined the throngs of tourists and headed over the causeway to St. Michael's Mount.
We were amazed at the plethora of languages and nationalities we encountered and at how crowded the local car parks were. This is obviously a real tourist magnet – even though neither the castle nor the gardens open until Monday! We were a bit disappointed as we wanted a good walk but eventually walked back along the beach in the other direction before returning home for a cup of tea and a piece of cake in the garden.
On Sunday we set off towards Kynance Cove, stopping on the way at the lovely little village of Portleven.
The wind was still a bit chilly but out of the wind, with the glorious sunshine, it was a scorcher. We had a good look round from both sides of the harbour before moving on to find Kynance Cove.
Wendy had read about Kynance Cove in advance but nothing could have prepared us for this.
A beautiful place stacked out with Easter tourists! We scrabbled our way across the stones and up the steps (why are there always more ups than downs??) and eventually reached the café and the most enormous Cornish pasties we had ever seen. We then made our way back to the packed car park the easy way, i.e. no steps, and moved on towards the Lizard.
What we hadn’t bargained for was the volume of traffic on the tiny little lanes, leading to considerable bad feeling as people were forced to back up and allow traffic through. Having eventually made it to the Lizard, we were rewarded with some stunning scenery. The stark whiteness of the enormous lighthouse complex against the blue sky was impressive enough
but the views from the coastal path were stunning.
We walked quite a long way in the end, returning back across the meadow behind the lighthouse.
As we were so close we decided to go to Gweek, a small village at the head of the Helford river, once quite a trading port until the river silted up. However, any expectations of being able to walk along beside the river were soon thwarted so we moved on to Helford and our final (4th!) walk of the day.
Kim's proposed walk turned out to be 3 miles and Wendy was initially not at all sure as we had already walked a long way and we had no drink with us. However, the effort was more than rewarded as we saw Frenchman's Creek (well known to Daphne Du Maurier fans) with the tide coming in
and then the beautiful Helford River in the evening sun.
A brief stop at the Shipwrights Arms
on the way back to the car restored stamina and liquid levels and fortified us for what turned out to be quite a hairy trip home. The sat nav took us on an obscure cross-country route down the narrowest of twisty lanes with steep banks on either side. Fortunately we only met one car and he was going slowly but it wasn't easy to get by each other, even with both sets of wing mirrors retracted!
By the time we got back to the apartment and had eaten a light supper, we were more than ready for bed, having clocked up a creditable 9 miles of walking.
It goes without saying that we had a leisurely start on the Monday morning before setting off to explore the industrial northern coast made famous in the Poldark novels/TV series. We parked at Botallack and set off from there to the Levant mine, where there is a restored early beam engine.
All along the paths there is evidence of vast amounts of industrial buildings and shafts from the days of tin/copper mining from the 18th century until relatively recently.
It was unfortunately bit cloudy when we arrived but this only served to heighten the sense of desolation.
The old mine at Levant was relatively well preserved and very interesting, not least as a result of the man lift, an early form of paternoster which enabled the miners to get down to the mine shaft which went out over a mile under the sea. The original beam engine has been beautifully restored and we spent a most interesting time chatting to the volunteer and watching it in operation.
Our return walk to the car park proved to be a bit more adventurous than we had planned. We followed the coast path but had not realised quite how close it went to the coast, namely right along the edge!
Eventually we got to a bit where it got even more narrow so decided to turn back up and find another path. This involved a hands-and-knees clamber and a somewhat disconcerting descent down a steep slope, but we made it and the views were spectacular, especially as by this time the sun was out.
Back at the NT car park, we stopped for a cup of tea and a piece of cake, before solving the puzzle of the lump of land on the horizon. We took a bearing on the island and using some sailing software which Kim still has on his iPad, established that it was the Isles of Scilly!
We got back at a much more reasonable time this evening and had pressure-cooked coq au vin, whilst discussing what to do on our remaining 2 days (assuming that Wednesday will be taken up entirely by our visit to Padstow and lunch at Rick Stein's). We can't believe where the time has gone.
Tuesday, 18th April 2017 – Falmouth And Hypothermia.
As the weather forecast looked good for today again (we have been so lucky!), we decided that a boat trip was in order. Whilst sat in bed drinking our tea, we established that Falmouth would be a good place to go as they operate boat trips up the River Fal between Falmouth and Truro. The first such boat left at 10.30 so we left the breakfast washing up and set off to drive the hour or so to Falmouth, expecting to have plenty of time before boarding. Well, that idea soon went out of the window! Falmouth is pretty but relatively large and a traffic nightmare. We drove round and round and just could not find a long-stay car park, with Kim becoming increasingly miffed that he was going to miss out on his boat trip.
Wendy then came up with the idea of driving up the river to the National Trust property at Trelissick and joining the boat there. This proved very successful and the weather when we arrived at the car park there was gloriously warm – deceptively so as it turned out. Kim selected a lightweight coat from his selection in the car and we set off through the beautiful grounds down to the landing stage
where we spent a pleasant 15 minutes or so in the sunshine watching the King Harry chain ferry plodding back and forth across the river.
The lovely old wooden cruise boat initially took us up the sheltered upper reaches of the river as far as Malpas
a pretty little village as close to Truro as the falling tide would allow.
After loading lots of new passengers, we then set off back down the river, into the wind, and gradually got colder and colder. After passing Trelissick the river opened out and the wind got up. Falmouth is a busy and interesting harbour and indeed very picturesque from the sea,
but unfortunately by this time Kim was absolutely frozen! Even once we arrived back at Trelissick and walked up the hill to have lunch in the NT cafe, Kim was shaking so much that he could barely eat! Fortunately he thawed out pretty quickly after 5 minutes or so in the hot car!
We then set off on a quest to recreate a photo Kim had taken nearly 40 years ago of the church at St. Just in Roseland on the other side of the river. We took the ferry and drove the short distance before parking up and walking down another steep hill (there are a lot of those in Cornwall!). Needless to say, it was not as wonderful as Kim remembered but it was pretty nonetheless and the exercise was good for us.
As we were so close, we decided to then visit Mevagissey. This turned out to be quite a busy working port, though with quite a buzz around the quayside, providing for lots of photo opportunities.
Wednesday, 19th April 2017 – Today's The Day.
We have long been fans of Rick Stein on TV and especially his recent series about weekends away, so a few months ago we booked to have lunch at his main restaurant in Padstow, The Seafood Restaurant. Inevitably reviews vary so we tried not to expect too much in case we were disappointed, but we needn't have worried.
Yet again we were blessed with amazing weather (and this time considerably warmer) and we got to Padstow in plenty of time to see a bit of the place. As it turned out, thousands of others had obviously decided the same thing and the place was packed
but unlike Falmouth, there was a big park-and-ride facility on the edge of the town.
Padstow's location on the Camel estuary is idyllic
and the colours of the water and sand looked almost tropical.
Then it was time for the main event:
From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, it was brilliant. The essence of the Rick Stein brand – unpretentious quality. The service was efficient, attentive and friendly without being pushy and the food was just divine. We were also surprised at the size of the portions – certainly no short-measures. Even the coffees came with 3 exquisite hand-made chocolates each. We could hardly move by the time we left!
With the aim of walking off some of the over-indulgence, we then headed over to have a look at Port Isaac. As Wendy was driving and did not want to get caught up in some of the impossibly narrow streets that Cornwall seems to have so many of, we parked in the main car park and set off to walk the 750 metres to the harbour. What the sign failed to mention was that 700 of those steps were vertically downwards!
It proved well worth the effort, however, as the town is indeed very quaint and picturesque
We returned to the car park via a largely different route, making the climb back up seem less strenuous and rewarding us with yet more beautiful coastal views. A great end to yet another great day.
Thursday, 20th April 2017 - Mugged On The Beach And Other Adventures!
As today was our last day, we chose to explore a little closer to home. There is so much to see in this part of Cornwall that a week just isn’t enough, but it’s what we have had and we think we have made good use of it.
Today started with a drive through Penzance and Newlyn before stopping at beautiful little Mousehole. The sun was shining and the town busy with a mixture of holidaymakers and locals. It really is picture perfect.
We have seen lots of Cornish fishing villages this week but this has to be far and away the most picturesque.
We then moved a few miles along the coast to Lamorna Cove, another location which Kim remembers from his visit to the area in 1984.
Unlike Mousehole, its history is as a port for shipping the tin and copper mined just up the road at places like Botallack, which we visited the other day.
Then it was on to a very brief visit to Lands End, surely a “must do” when in this area. However, Wendy was horrified at the obligatory £5 car park charge whether you stayed 5 minutes or 5 hours and we promptly left and moved on to Sennen Cove. This proved much more successful and had a real holiday buzz, helped no doubt by the really warm weather.
It is known as a surfers’ beach but there wasn’t much surfing to be done today as there was barely any movement on the water.
As ever, our minds soon turned to lunch and Kim’s week-long quest for a crab salad. In the end we settled for crab, mayo and pickled cucumber paninis which we took down to eat on the beach. They were served in boxes and we were both leaning over the boxes to eat them. They were delicious and going down really well when suddenly a herring gull swooped down from behind Wendy’s shoulder, stuffed its beak between the two layers of bread, helped itself to some crab and left – all without putting its feet down on either the box or the sandwich! Whilst initially miffed at losing a large chunk of her panini, in the end Wendy could only marvel at the sheer cheek and skill of the bird! As an aside, we saw loads of little baby shrimps emerging from the damp sand and turning pink as they were cooked by the heat of the sun – why couldn’t the seagull have eaten those?
It was still only early afternoon by this stage so we decided to go back and have another trip over to St. Michael’s Mount while the sun was shining and the place was open. The tide was still covering the causeway so we took a brief boat trip over this time.
It was quite a climb up to the house at the top but well worth the effort as the views were spectacular and the house very cosy and interesting with some lovely window seats from which to look out over Mount’s Bay.
We didn’t have time to visit the garden as well and had to wait 10 minutes or so for the tide to uncover enough of the causeway to walk back without getting wet. A lot of people were paddling across with bare feet,
but we decided against that and waited.
Once back on the mainland, we headed for the King’s Arms pub which had been so packed on our previous attempt to go there. This time it was virtually empty and we enjoyed a couple of pints of St. Austell’s Tribute Ale, before returning home via the Tudor Chippy for supper and some packing.
Saturday, 22nd April 2017 - Castle Drogo And Underwhelmed In Wells.
We were awake nice and early on Friday so were able to get away before 9.30. Not that we were in any rush as we had rather fallen in love with the little apartment, but we were keen to get to Wells in time to “do” the sights so that we could make an early start home on Saturday.
First stop was Castle Drogo, another of Kim’s memories from 30 odd years ago and certainly not a disappointment. The castle is undergoing a massive 6 year/13 million pound restoration programme to stop the ingress of water and we were able to go up a 20 metre scaffold tower, suitably attired in hard hats and high-viz waistcoats, to see some of the work being done. This was fascinating and needless to say, Kim was in his element.
We then went inside the castle, which was built between 1911 and 1938 by Edwin Lutyens for a Julius Drewe. It has all the appearance of a medieval castle but with the workmanship of 20th century craftsman. Truly amazing, in spite of so much of it currently being - literally - under wraps because of all the work being carried out.
Kim’s memory is a bit suspect these days, but when we went in one of the bathrooms, Kim exclaimed “oh, I remember this!”
No, that is not the WC under the window! The WC was in a separate room, but looked pretty much the same. That, under the window, is a combination of steps and seats, so that, wrapped in a towel, after your shower, you can gaze out across Dartmoor. The shower?
Early 20th century high tech!
After the usual excellent lunch in the National Trust café, we set off for the Premier Inn in Wells. Check-in proved somewhat frustrating as we arrived at the same time as a coach load of people but our room was the usual Premier Inn standard.
We then set off to explore the “city” of Wells, which we found very underwhelming. Kim thought that the cathedral had had the tops of the towers cut off or they had run out of money.
The scissor arches inside were stunning, however, and most unusual.
The nearby Vicars’ Close is famous as the oldest inhabited medieval street in Europe and it is indeed stunning
although rather shabbier in reality than it appears in the photos.
Then came the thorny subject of food! Wendy had identified a quirky burger place in an old electrical substation called, surprisingly enough, the Subhouse, which gets really good reviews.
We had poked our heads round the door on our way into the town but Kim did not like the look of it in case – horror of horrors – he had to sit next to someone he didn’t know (he still has nightmares about a great restaurant in Dusseldorf where we had to share a table!). So we went to a pub for a beer and had a look round and in the end Kim relented and agreed to go to the Subhouse. We had the most incredible burger meal ever! The place was buzzing and the atmosphere was great
with people of all ages enjoying the great food.
We know we shouldn’t have done but, in the end we both succumbed to a dessert as well and by the time we left we could barely move! The diet definitely starts when we get home!
Breakfast at the Premier Inn was very good until Wendy spotted the waiter putting the unused cutlery on the seats when resetting the table and then putting it back on the table for people to use! Needless to say we complained and our complaint appeared to be taken seriously but it did rather take the edge off things!
Our journey home was pretty good, all things, namely the M25 chaos, considered. We managed to avoid the worst of the hold-ups and arrived home here at about 2 pm. It was then a quick lunch and back to the mundane tasks of putting all our stuff away and progressing the preparations for the forthcoming house sale. It has been a brilliant week and we have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, helped in no small part by the amazing weather, which we appear to have left down in Cornwall.
Monday, 24th April 2017 - The Van Goes in For ATC & New Tyres.
It was back to work today for Kim, but a slightly delayed start as he had to pick the van up from the storage yard and drop it into Canterbury Caravans who will be fitting the ATC, new tyres and Tyron Bands. Canterbury Caravans is actually out at Westbere, the other side of Sturry. By leaving home at about 8:30 he managed to miss the Canterbury rush hour and so had an uneventful journey. He finally got to work at 10:45.
Saturday, 29th April 2017 – Work All Done.
This weekend is a Bank Holiday weekend, so three days. Nothing planned, except pick the van up and spend the rest of the time tidying up the house and garden ready to put it up for sale.
This morning we drove over to Canterbury Caravans and picked the van up. They gave me a demonstration of how the ATC goes through a self-checking process when you connect up the tow electrics to the car. The journey back to the storage yard was uneventful. The van didn’t feel any different for having two new tyres and the Tyron Bands will only ever make themselves known if we have a blow out, which hopefully, we won’t.
One interesting thing at Canterbury Caravans, was that during the hitch up process, the fitter made a point of going round the two wheels with me, checking the torque setting for the wheel nuts. Of course they would have torque’d the wheel nuts when putting the wheels back on. I asked about checking the wheel nuts each time you go out and the fitter said “if you’ve got a torque wrench, use it”. I bought a digital tyre pressure gauge earlier in the week, less than a tenner on Amazon, so maybe a torque wrench will be the next thing.
Now only four weeks till our holiday with the van to Yorkshire and North Wales. Next weekend Kim has his caravan manoeuvring course and then we should be ready for anything!
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