On tour at home and abroad with the Sumpners

The view below is Toad Rock, Tunbridge Wells

Nottingham – Hello/Goodbye 27th Feb – 1st March

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So the day had finally dawned. It was time to travel to Nottingham to say goodbye to Mr M and hello to – well we probably won’t bother with a name for the new van, other than our pride and joy. We had picked it out back in October 2014 and it had been a long wait. I did muse on the journey up about whether I would still like it,  but I shouldn’t have worried. The journey was long but pretty reasonable, given that it was a Friday.  We had left as early as we could,  as it was hoped that we could get the motor mover switched from old to new that very evening. It was dependant upon us arriving before 4 – which we did. Sadly, it turned out that there was no-one available to do it and so we made an appointment for 08.30 the following morning.

Lowdhams – from whom we had purchased the new van, is just outside Nottingham on the outskirts of a village called Lowdham. They are a huge operation – with a 26 acre site that includes a rally field and overnight pitches for customers – with hook-up. It’s actually closer to Gunthorpe on the River Trent and as we crossed the bridge I noticed several narrowboats moored nearby – a sight which always makes my heart beat a little faster!

We got set up and packed up a few more last minute things before driving down to Gunthorpe for an early dinner. We had booked at the Unicorn, which must be heaving in the summer because of its location by the river. Not on a chilly night in February though. It is a big pub and was quite quiet for a Friday evening, we thought. We had a very pleasant meal and the place had a nice ambience.. The area was flooded in 2000, and looking at the pictures, the pub/hotel was probably affected. We turned in early as we had an early start.

The next morning, it was up and away to the service area for the changeover to be done and the sad process of completely emptying Mr M was more or less completed. We dropped the van off and they told us to come back around 2 pm. Time to have a quick explore – and breakfast. We had packed all our crockery/cutlery which gave us carte blanche to go out for breakfast. We made for a place I had previously researched on Trip Advisor in nearby Burton Joyce. It had recently changed ownership and its name to the Bluebird Cafe, but we decided to give it a whirl anyway. A quick look at the menu clinched it. Eggs Benedict on the Menu? That’s a no-brainer for us! Plentiful coffee, delicious Eggs Benny and the morning papers. We did stop to wonder why we don’t go out for breakfast more often. Very pleasant indeed.

Burton Joyce, by the way, is renowned (!) for its nuclear bunker, which has recently been on the market.

Breakfast finished, we set off for Nottingham. Slightly disappointing, as the castle was clearly not the one that had appeared in all those Robin Hood films. There were some interesting looking caves, though, in the sandstone outcrop on which the castle is built.

Nottingham Castle

Nottingham Castle cave Sandstone caves

We did happen across a very smart area adjacent to the castle, known as “The Park Estate“. Full of beautiful LARGE houses and parks (see the Estate Agency link to get an idea fo the properties on offer). One imagines all the Forest WAGs buying there. It has an interesting layout and was built on the former deer park for the castle. Sadly, in my opinion, The Park clearly went through a period where there was no control over building and there are some modern houses – quite boxy – which don’t at all fit with the beautiful period houses.

The Park

The blue on the map above is the Nottigham Canal – we had to have a quick look, of course. One of the few places on the system that we have never been. There’s a fair bit of upheaval in Nottingham as they are currently constructing a new transport system – known as The NET  (Nottingham Express Transit). We managed to find our way to B&Q to pick up a few bits that we knew we’d need – hooks mainly  – and then we got a call from Lowdhams to say that the van was ready so we made our way back.

Saying goodbye

There was lots of paperwork to sort out, which took a while and then it was time to remove the last few things from Mr M and say our final farewell. Silly to feel so sad but lots of happy memories were tied up in that van. But there are lots to be made in the new van, with which we are absolutely delighted. We had toyed with the idea of making a break for home but decided to stay another night on Lowdham’s free pitches. It gave us a chance to do some unpacking and find new places to stow everything, which was actually quite exciting.

Hello new un-named van


Dinner was at the local Indian restaurant in Gunthorpe. Once again it’s on the river and must have pretty good views, although it was dark, so not for us. . It’s a former pub and is now called the Bridge and Bayleaf and is very smartly decorated. The food was delicious too and then it was back to the van for a bot of television and our first night in our new bed.

Looking towards bed

Looking towards bed



New kitchen


As it was a long journey home, we were up an away in good time. We arrived home at around 1pm, which gave us the rest of the afternoon and evening to relax and dream about adventures in the new van. The first trip is alreay planned. Off to the IOW for Easter with the kids in tow. Can’t wait!



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