Well this is an unusual post as it covers two trips in one for reasons which will become obvious. It has also taken me a while to write, as I needed to wait until I was ready to do so.
Trip 1 – Easter near Tunbridge Wells
We had chosen this area as it was largely new territory for us. I had been to TW before, but it was in the region of 40 years ago, so memories are a tad hazy. We set off mid afternoon on Maundy Thursday (24th April) and had a very smooth trip to our site – Apple Acres. Strictly speaking, it is nearer Tonbridge than Tunbridge Wells but there’s not much in it. The site was easy to find and there was a friendly welcome awaiting us. We selected our pitch and set up. The kettle was soon singing on the hob and we were both feeling the anticipation of exploring this part of Kent. The site was in an old apple orchard – hence the name.
There was one dark cloud on the horizon, though. Whilst we were on the road the Doctor rang to say that he thought that Mum’s health was deteriorating. I asked if we should return home but he didn’t think it was necessary, so we continued our journey. It was a little worrying but we had taken the doc’s advice and we had arranged for Mum to be visited by our son George and her brother – my Uncle Derek.
We nipped out and did a bit of shopping and then settled down for a cosy evening. Despite the site being near a couple of main roads it was a quiet night and we awoke refreshed. To sunshine! A beautiful Good Friday. We were soon washed and dressed and setting off to explore. We set off with no particular goal in mind – more of a reconnoitre, a familiarisation with the lie of the land, as we were new to the area.
One of the first things we spotted was a very attractive Victorian gothic-looking tower. It transpired it was called Hadlow Tower. Upon further research, it was started in 1838, built to a height of 175 feet and was actually constructed of brick and then coated with a render known as Roman Cement, to make it look like stone. It was badly damaged in the tempest of 1987 and has recently been restored. It is certainly a striking feature.
As it was coffee time, we stopped at the Hadlow Bar and Grill and sat in the gardens as we drank our coffee, as it was so pleasant. Refuelled we pressed on and decided to explore (at least part of) the area known as the High Weald, which is an AONB. And it is indeed beautiful, studded with Oast Houses, almost military-looking orchards and rolling hills. We drove around, admiring the views and eventually stopped at a very nice pub near Wadhurst, The Old Vine, for a very nice freshly made BLT.
It was shortly after lunch that we got the call from the home where Mum had been living since Christmas. They had rung to say that Mum’s health had sharply and unexpectedly deteriorated and that if we wanted to see her again it would be advisable to come straight home. Plunged into shock we drove back to the site and packed up – less than 24 hours after we had arrived. We hadn’t even fully paid the camp-site ( apart from a deposit) but they were very kind and refused to take any further money from us. It was a horrible journey home, what with tears, making calls to family and explaining the situation, more tears and wondering with every mile if we were going to make it in time. Luckily we did. Paul dropped me off at the home and I began the 27 hour vigil (accompanied mostly by Paul) at her bedside. All the family came and said their last goodbyes and she eventually slipped peacefully away with me holding her hand on Easter Saturday evening. RIP Mum. We’ll miss you so much.
Trip 2 – New Forest Centenary Site – Spring BH 2016
We were both in the mood to have a total relax and were looking forward to our return to this very pleasant Caravan Club site in the New Forest, not far from Christchurch. It gave us an opportunity to use up the remainder of the Caravan Club vouchers that Paul had received for his recent significant birthday. A big th♥nk you to Linda and Anna.
The Friday traffic was not too bad and we arrived on site early evening with plenty of daylight to spare, it being nearly summer. We had an early night and awoke to the sound of birdsong and a reasonable day. We had a relaxed morning and then set off to do a bit of shopping. Our mission was to find a new house phone for Uncle D and Curry’s was pleased to supply it. It was also pleased to supply an (impulse purchase) boiling water dispenser. Exciting – especially as it was on special offer! Then it was a quick trip to Waitrose for “essentials”. It was then around lunch time. We made our way back to Bransgore, where we ate at the Three Tuns. We can particularly recommend the Corned Beef Hash fritters.
There was a wedding reception just about to start there (lovely location) and we (I) did a fair bit of people watching. Interesting watching a procession of really quite orange people tittupping across the grass in their high heels. And sinking.
After lunch we went back to the van for a quiet afternoon of reading our books and the papers. It’s rare for us to take time out to do nothing and we relished this opportunity – although I’m sure it makes for pretty boring reading. But before this, on the way back, we decided to pop to the nearby New Forest Airfields Memorial, which was around half a mile from the camp-site. The Airfields played a major part in a successful conclusion to WWII.
The hot water dispenser, by the way, was quite a success and we may take it away with us next time we are away in the van.
Sunday was a slow start too but we eventually went out for a drive and actually visited parts of the Forest where we had never before been. Lunch was, however, near Brockenhurst at the Forest Park Hotel. It feels, sadly, as though this hotel has seen better days, although it does look as if attempts to restore it are currently being made. The lunch – a roast – was adequate. Nothing to complain about, but nothing to write home about either. We continued our meander until mid afternoon. Here are a few photos from our travels
The remainder of the weekend was a fairly somnolent, battery re-charging affair and we look forward to a more active time on the next bank holiday weekend, when we are bound for Gloucestershire.