On tour at home and abroad with the Sumpners

The view below is Toad Rock, Tunbridge Wells

Glastonbury – 27 Mar to 1st April

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In view of the unusually cold weather and risk of snow, we decided that Herefordshire was possibly too risky and had a last minute change of plan. A quick call on Wednesday (the day before we were due to set off) confirmed that a fully serviced pitch was available at The Old Oaks near Glastonbury and so we quickly snapped it up.

We set off at lunch time (fortified by an abundance of sarnies!) and, stopping just once for coffee, we arrived at The Old Oaks around 3 o’clock. We quickly pitched up, made a quick cuppa and then set off to have a quick skirt round the shops in Glastonbury town. We being Paul and I plus our old buddies and veterans of many holiday with us, Sue & Paul Rogers and their dog Fred (Archie’s brother).  This is the first time we have shared Mr Munch with anyone else and thus a new experience for all of us. Not being in the market for any crystals or other new age accoutrements,  which seem to be the main items on offer in Glasto, we returned armed only with some extra alcohol.

Since our last visit to the site in January 2011, a new facilities block had been built and we could not resist a quick look around on our return. It is indeed magnificent. Warm, spacious and scrupulously clean, with individual shower rooms complete with basin, mirror and toilet – all with underfloor heating.  Marvellous! And an indoor washing up area to boot. Whilst the overall block is larger and grander than Daisy Bank‘s I have to say (sorry Old Oaks – this is being VERY picky indeed) Daisy Bank’s just have the edge, for me, because they have a shower head you can actually remove rather than a fixed one.  This really is just a personal preference and the facilities cannot otherwise be faulted. The grounds are beautifully maintained and there is a real sense of privacy on the pitches. There are also great views out over the surrounding plains of Somerset.  The Old Oaks have honestly thought of everything –  from freshly baked cakes every day to a hot water dog washing facility. They even lend you a bird feeder so that you can do a bit of close-at-hand twitching on your pitch. Free wi-fi – good signal too! And quiet? You could hear a pin drop at night. No road roar at all. Just how we like it. It really is worthy of the AA Campsite of  the Year 2013 award – which was presented to them just the day before we arrived. It is interesting to note that both Daisy Bank and the Old Oaks are part of the same , adult-only campsite collective – a group of 28 sites which rank among our favourites. It would be nice to visit all of them (we have done five to date). Maybe one day?

With new amenities block behind.

With new amenities block behind.

Good Friday dawned fair but with a biting wind. Wells  – dubbed the smallest city in England – was our first port of call. I had forgotten how beautiful the cathedral is. A stunning edifice and little wonder that it took a couple of hundred years to complete.  Sadly – with dogs we were unable to enter.  Wells is also famous for swans, who are trained to pull a bell rope when they want feeding! True! Read this.

There are some nice independent shops and we commend the council for the stunning loos! The old-fashioned sweet shop caused a bit of a stir among our party with squeals of “Floral Gums” and “Cinder toffee”!!! and much smacking of lips. I also bought a rather nifty spatula in a fab cook shop. Just right for Welsh cakes.

PaSuPa SUnny Wells cathedral Wells Bishops palace

Next on our itinerary was a trip to Cheddar Gorge which was – ahem – gorgeous.

We had a quick scale of its slopes but it was bitter – as witnessed by the icicles you can see in the pic below.  Sadly tawdry, tacky tourism has taken its toll(some fine alliteration there, I feel!) on the village. It’s pretty awful and even has a Costa (globalisation at its worst). We had a look round but it was not really to our taste. Scarecrow figures (like this)seem to be very popular this year. The good Lord in heaven only knows why. Clearly others like it as it was heaving and Trip Advisor bears witness to that fact. We prefer it “au naturel”.  Again – dogs prevented us from visiting the caves, which is a shame. I can’t recall much about them as I must have been no more than 8 when I did visit them!

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Saturday took us to Bristol – specifically Clifton, via the Suspension Bridge of course. I loved Clifton  A very cosmopolitan feel with lots of niche shops and an abundance of coffee/shops/eateries. I would definitely return – preferably sans chiens.

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Can you spot Archie in that pic on the left? Camera shy!

After a couple of hours in Clifton,  we set off for the coast, with quaint little Clevedon our destination. We managed to park although it was pretty busy with Saturday afternoon strollers. Also pretty chilly again, mind you. We strolled along the prom and down on to the historic pier. Fact Time! Clevedon’s elegant pier is 312 metres long and made of cast iron. It experiences a difference of 47 feet between high and low tide –  the second highest tide in the world. Construction on the original pier started l in 1867 and was completed in 1868. More info here. Love their logo.

Whilst on the pier the sun came out – albeit only briefly and we had a bit of fun with the – what are they called? Photo cut-outs thingies? You’ll see what I mean below.

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After our stroll, we popped into Tiffin Tea Room for a cuppa (Assam) and cakes, courtesy of our dear friend Linda Mary Wise. Thanks Bab.  Highly recommended.

So Easter Sunday. Guess what we had for brekker? Yeah. I’ll spare you the detail.  So – there was a Medieval Fayre on in Glasto so we thought we’d pop along. It was £7 for the entrance fee and sadly didn’t seem to be very large so we decided (after a team conflab) to give it a miss. Lots of medieval types plodding around the town though. I’m sure they had great fun and I imagine a lot of work went into the organisation so please don’t think I’m knocking it.  Had to make do with sitting outside a pub in the sunshine instead.  We popped back to the campsite for a couple of hours in the sun, which was best described as transient. Lovely when it was out but b freezing when it went behind the clouds.

After tea and sustenance we strapped on our walking boots and set off for the Tor, home to Gwynn ap Nudd aka the King of the Faeries.  We didn’t see him, but there were loads of folk making their way to the top and it was well worth the climb. There are some great views over the Somerset levels and all around. A superb vantage point.  The dogs loved it, being allowed off the lead and they behaved like puppies, running madly up and down. Lovely to see. Words cannot express just how icy it was at the top. I lost all feeling in my earlobes. I doubt you’d last an hour up there without hypothermia setting in, it was so cold. Maybe we’ll visit in summer another time?

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Do you come here often?

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Don’t let go!

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The tower on the Tor

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We had a lovely stay at Old Oaks and I’d be very glad to return any time.  Our next trip is to Brighton over the May BH weekend. Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in! A bientót.

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