On tour at home and abroad with the Sumpners

The view below is Toad Rock, Tunbridge Wells

Rivermead – nr Micheldever 2-4 Feb

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We set off about 3 pm, with Paul on phone-manning duties as usual. Arrived about 4.30 – just a few last rays of light,  although we note with good cheer that the days are actually slooowly getting longer. Hurrah.

The directions to Rivermead  are quite specific and, when I phoned to book, the owner of the CS (David) was most emphatic that they should be followed to the nth degree. After our experience with “Uncle Paul’s bend” in the summer) we were more than happy to do this. The site is in the small hamlet of Weston Colley, just outside Micheldever. It has five pitches overlooking a meadow with the River Dever as the boundary. I imagine it’s a tributary of the Test as it looks very similar; clear, fast-flowing and laden with watercress.  We were advised not to attempt to eat it due to the leaching of – ahem – cow effluent. Noted!

Rivermead is a “CS”  (Certified Site – for Caravan & Camping Club members only – max 5 pitches).  It’s a lovely spot with all the things you’d expect or wish for (a posh toilet, fresh water, waste disposal (all types), lovely views and hard standings). And it has none of the things you don’t really need (if you’re us!) like a clubhouse and kids play area. Aside from the owner’s caravan, we were the only people on site tonight. Lovely.

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The posh loo

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On site

It was pretty chilly and we got set up as quickly as we could so that we could get in the warm and snuggle down for the evening. We had dinner ready to cook and no plans to go out and were soon comfy with a cuppa. It’s amazing how quickly the van warms up, considering it’s not heated at all most of the time. We passed the evening watching the box and then retired to bed. I had put a hot-water bottle in the bed to warm it up and was glad I had. This is obviously a very peaceful location, and other than the rain on the roof, we had expectations of a quiet night. Sadly Mr Boy R. Acer ( or Hannu Mikkola, as we dubbed him) had other ideas! He did circuit after circuit – slowing down by the caravan field before accelerating noisily into the “90 left” just past the field. We lay there in the dark, waiting for him in the end – we could hear him for miles, it seemed. Luckily, he got bored and knocked it on the head by midnight! Hallelujah!

Saturday arrived – grey and rainy, as per the forecast.  Not a disaster but a bit of a shame as it would have been nice to have a walk around. As it was, we went out in the car and embarked on a tour of the small towns and villages in the area.  Snowdrops everywhere. I was reminded of the Tennyson (I think?) poem about Snowdrops, which makes me feel strangely wistful.

The Snowdrop

Many, many welcomes,
February fair-maid!
Ever as of old time,
Solitary firstling,
Coming in the cold time,
Prophet of the gay time,
Prophet of the May time,
Prophet of the roses,
Many, many welcomes,
February fair-maid!

 

There are some really lovely churches in the area and we also spotted the village pump in Preston Candover. Photo opportunity!

We stopped for coffee in Whitchurch – Kudos Coffee – and very nice it was too. Archie was lucky enough to be bought one of their Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits. He seemed to like it, although it didn’t really hang around long enough to be sure! They do lots of yummy tray bakes and cakes but we managed to resist their charms.

We particularly liked the very beautiful St Mary Bourne and stopped to take this picture of fighting hares atop one of the picturesque thatches.

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We finally ended up in Andover where we nipped into Waitrose for a few odds and ends. We then popped to The Range (for me) and Maplins (for Paul) and ate our (very late) lunch in the car park! Classy! My man knows how to show a girl a good time, eh?

After the nipping and popping was done, we made our way “home” and spent the remainder of the afternoon/early evening, putting together a plan for the next year or so, which involves (among other things) downsizing and a decrease in working hours for Paul. Really quite exciting stuff! As we were working, we noticed that we were going to be joined by a motor home this evening. And – when the owner popped in to bring us some eggs – he mentioned that another two mohos were also expected. Busy suddenly!

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The site from another angle

The evening passed in the usual manner – although we now have an Amazon Fire stick and can catch up on our favourite Netflix shows too. The rain seemed to be easing and it looked as if we might have a finer day on Sunday. Before dinner, we had some prawns as a starter and a while later I felt itchy all over and discovered than I had had an allergic reaction. A little consultation with Dr Google revealed that shellfish allergy is quite common and that people spend their lives quite happily eating prawns, when bang! They react. This seemed to be what had happened to me. I took some antihistamines (always have some in the First Aid box) and by bedtime my skin seemed to have settled down a little. Phew.

It was a lovely quiet night – we half-imagined that our friend with the car might show up again but not tonight,  thank goodness.  We slept until about 9 and then got up for our usual Sunday breakfast, eager to taste the free range eggs from the site. Reader, they were delicious, with huge, intensely orange yolks. Paul said that he felt that they tasted like eggs used to taste when he was a kid. We had  forgotten our trusty egg-topper – a gadget to which we had been introduced by my brother. It does just what its name suggests. It takes the tops off boiled eggs! Efficiently and neatly. Highly recommended. And, as we are avid boiled egg fans, an essential for our batterie de cuisine! I think we may need a caravan one!

It was a lovely day and David ( the owner) had mentioned that there was no hurry to leave  and we were welcome to take our time. This is one of the things we like about smaller sites like this – much more relaxed about departures, whenever they can be. As it happened, we had done everything we needed to reasonably early and we had one or two things to do at home (I have a whole week of work ahead). By coincidence,  we rolled off site on the dot of midday – the time most bigger sites require you to leave (some are even 11 am) which usually feels a bit rushed. A lovely relaxing weekend and we very much plan to return to this lovely little site.

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