On tour at home and abroad with the Sumpners

The view below is Toad Rock, Tunbridge Wells

The Spinney – for the Alresford Show – 30/8 to 2/9

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Thursday 30th Aug

This was our annual Evie and Lenny weekend, which had had to be re-arranged due to Paul’s work commitments. It was originally scheduled to have been on the August Bank Hols weekend and we are actually glad that we didn’t have them with us, in the end,  as the the weather was rather less than sparkly.

I drove to pick them up, together with Uncle D (who had been staying at Bruce & Mel’s for a couple of days) and we met at the usual venue – Guildford Cathedral on Thursday afternoon. The arranged time was 2 pm and I drove into the grounds and parked, swiftly followed by Bruce. Very handy. We loaded up with all their bits and pieces and drove home, after dropping off Uncle D.

George had very kindly given up his bedroom for the night for Lenny. George would be sleeping in the van and Lenny was very excited to have a double bed to himself. Poor Lenny was finding it hard to be in the house and going away in the caravan with Archie. He really did love that dog.

After dinner (perennial favourite meatballs and Spaghetti) we went out for a trip down to Southsea and rocked up at the fair – which is not what it used to be but pretty amazing through a kid’s eyes. But it closes at 8 pm these days! What’s that all about? We went on the Big Wheel all together and then we split up – Lenny and I on the Roller Coaster and Evie and Uncle Paul on the Waltzer. Then we bought pots of 2p coins and had fun on the cascades. Lenny learnt that fairgrounds are not very fair. A hard lesson.

And then it was back  for hot chocolate and bed. Lenny went out like a light and Evie followed soon after.

Friday 31st Aug

Paul did the breakfast shift and then I took over while he worked. We wiled away an hour or so with TV and games and then we popped out to see Sue and her new Puppy – Lulu.  Lulu was very excited to see us and I think she was a bit much for Lenny! Luckily, Sue and Paul have a new trampoline and they both enjoyed playing on that while Sue and I had a catch-up.

On the way home for lunch, we popped into to Sainsburys. As is traditional, the kids had packed unsupervised and – as is always the case -there were obviously missing items. Just pants this year. Most years it’s pants AND socks. I think their parents use it as an opportunity to refresh the kids’ underwear drawer –  for free!! We also bought comics – to tide us over until Uncle Paul could finish work.

Then it was home for lunch and a short wait until it was time for them to help with the hooking-up process. Lenny was allowed to use the motor mover, which he seemed to enjoy. And then we were off. It’s less than an hour to New Alresford – although we took a slightly dodgy route down a narrow lane! Don’t ask! But we had visited The Spinney last year, too, and were soon set up and the kids were very helpful again, with Lenny helping Uncle Paul with the steadies and Evie going off to fetch the water.

The people opposite us had a drone and were flying it which afforded us some amusement. There were a couple of other vans there, but plenty of space for Lenny to kick a ball around (with out any fear of damaging other units) and he and Paul spent some time doing that. But soon there was more work to do.

We had bought a new “event shelter” after a tip-off. They were reduced to £12.95 and looked too good to pass on, so this was a first outing for it. Useful if we want to cook outside and it’s raining. The kids helped us erect that and then it was time for them to cook their dinner. Sausages, smiles and beans for them, mash for us. I think they enjoyed the process and were overjoyed to have potato smiles as a treat. Poor deprived kids!

While I washed up, Paul and the kids walked into town to pick up the one thing we had forgotten. I have now forgotten what that was! But it doesn’t matter, they enjoyed the walk.  When they got back, Lenny wiped up and then we played a game of “Say What” and then it was time for all of us to go to bed – a process which took at least half an hour, maybe longer. We read for a bit and then it was lights out.

Saturday 1st September

Well  – we weren’t expecting that! No-one stirred until gone 8 o’clock. How lovely! We are used to an early start with them but this was really quite civilised.  We had breakfast and then set off for the show. We parked and walked through to the site and started looking at all the stalls. Lenny spotted some finger-less gloves which he ABSOLUTELY had to have, despite attempted persuasion otherwise. We saw some Giant African Snails – which only I had the nerve to hold (look at Len’s face!) and then made our way to the climbing wall and Lenny had a go on that – he’s the right build for climbing. Then the kids had a milkshake, while I queued for coffee.


Unbeknownst to the kids, we had arranged for George and Beth to join us for the day, so that the cousins could spend a rare day together,  and we met up with them, before touring the livestock section. By now it was very hot indeed! We stopped in at the petting farm and talked to turkeys, chatted to chickens, gossiped with goats, dallied with donkeys and then cuddled a few furry things. Finally the kids both had a go at milking – kinda…

We then moved on through to the sheep, where I showed Lenny just how deep a sheep’s wool was (and thus how hot they might be) then cattle, then pigs and then we were all thirsty so we went for a drink and a sit down.

Beth and I had frozen cocktails which were amazing. We ate our picnic and then set off again. Daredevil Lenny wanted to go on the scary looking slide thing , so we took advantage of some seats in the shade while he climbed up and threw himself off a tall thing.


Evie and I then went and watched the Donkey racing (hilarious!) while Len took a few photo opportunities and had a go on a ride simulator (of sorts!).

We were all boiling hot and decided to decamp to New Alresford, where there is a nice ice-cream parlour/ tea room. But first there was a few vintage cars to pose by.

It was a good decision. The Tiffin Tea Rooms have a great choice of cakes and some lovely ice-cream flavours and we were soon all tucking in.

After that, we said goodbye to George and Beth and went back to the van. We decided to show the kids how to play Petanque with Paul coaching Lenny and me coaching Evie and we all had a fun game. I can’t actually remember who won, but it didn’t really matter. Paul and Lenny went off to play more football while Evie and I read for a bit and then it was time to get ready to go out. We were off to Pizza Express for dinner. It was a very pleasant meal and we enjoyed just sitting and chatting. I noticed how grown and confident my lovely Evie had become when she went off to the loo all on her own. Even a year ago she would have wanted someone to go with her. Lenny has always had that confidence, bless him.

We went back to the van and played a game of Beetle. I think Paul won that too! And then it was the bedtime routine  – which seemed to go on a bit – but we were soon all snuggled in bed. I think all of us were tired because it went quiet quite quickly!

Sunday 2nd September

We awoke at a reasonable hour and set about making Blueberry Pancakes. I use a very simple Jamie recipe that just uses cups, so there is no need for scales and other complicated equipment – although a whisk does come in handy. If there are only two of you – use a small teacup and for four use a larger mug. It’s so easy.


1 cup SR flour

1 cup of milk

1 egg

Punnet of blueberries

Whisk all the ingredients together before adding the blueberries. Use a hot surface – a frying pan would do – very lightly greased. Pour a circle(s) of batter onto the hot surface – they will spread a bit, so remember to leave a gap between them. They are usually cooked one side when you can see dimples/holes in the raw side. Flip them over and cook that side until it has the right shade of brown for you and serve. I serve with maple syrup but the choice is yours.

The kids seemed to enjoy making the batter and cooking them – and they certainly enjoyed eating them! They went down very well indeed.

After brekker, Lenny did some more boules practice – declaring it his favourite game after football. He looked pretty good after a bit of practice. And then it was more football for the boys, while Evie and I started gathering up their bits and pieces and packing them ready to return them to their parents. It had all gone way too quickly and we had had such a lovely time. We gave them lunch and snacks for the journey and off they went.

We had decided that – for speed – I would stay and tidy up the van while Paul ran the kids back to Guildford. I was so sad to see them go. Look forward to spending more time with them soon. It didn’t take Paul long – straight up the Hog’s Back to Guildford. I had only just finished cleaning and tidying when he arrived back and we quickly packed up the van and were home in time to have a bit of a relax, before the next week kicked off. I’m not currently sure when our next time away in the van will be, so keep a look out for our next adventure.


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