On tour at home and abroad with the Sumpners

The view below is Toad Rock, Tunbridge Wells

Jun 14 to16 – Dorset with Bob and Barb

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Friday 14th

The time had come round again for our annual trip with lovely Bob & Barb Shorter. As we met RV-ing in Canada it always seems apt that we have an annual camp; them in their trusty Hymer and us in our Caravan. We had an exciting day planned for Saturday, but the weather wasn’t looking too good. Only time would tell.

It is a reasonably short journey to the Hunter’s Moon  caravan site, near Wareham, where we had planned to meet, but traffic was quite heavy. The site is just on the edge of Wareham Forest, near (of course!) Wareham. The Shorters had arrived not long before us and the site was already busy. We could not find a pitch together so we settled for one nearby. Our pitch was actually ideal as there was plenty of room for the pups to play.

As soon as we were settled, Bob and Barb came over for a drink and a few nibbles, while I put the dinner on. This was the first time B&B had met our boys, who very quickly made their presence known! I had made a lasagne earlier and we were soon tucking in with some salad and garlic bread. We spent the evening catching up on our respective families, and our plans and it was soon time for bed. We arranged to convene at 9:00 in the morning, as we needed to be in Poole by 09:30.

Saturday 15th

The weather had worsened overnight and it was blowing an absolute hooley. We had a trip booked on a boat, with Poole City Cruises,  to view the Jurassic Coastline – including the Old Harry Rocks, ending up in Swanage, where we would be dropped off and would make the return journey by steam train.

We set off – clad for bad weather  – and arrived to find that Poole had been overrun by Pirates! It was the 600th Anniversary of the death of one Harry Paye – a notorious pirate from the 14th Century. A fun day is held every June on Poole Harbour to commemorate Harry’s life and we had rocked up as they were preparing for the celebrations.

We reported to the City Cruises booth and were not surprised to hear that – as a result of the inclement weather – the trip would be curtailed. It would sail slightly later and do an “out and back”, not calling at Swanage. Disappoinitng but not unexpected. As we had a while to wait, we went and got a coffee and watched the Pirate preparations.

We felt very sorry for the organisers and participants as a lot of work clearly goes in to the event. We watched them trying to put up bunting and decorations, battling the heavy winds. Poor things. After coffee, we went for a quick look round the shops and then it was time to board. The skies were very grey and rain was spitting in the wind as we set off.

But we are British! We don’t let a little cyclone get in the way of us enjoying ourselves! Admittedly, it was a bit lumpy at sea but we saw the sights and the commentary was very good – fun and informative. The Old Harry Rocks, which we’ve seen from the land, are very impressive from the sea. They are Chalk “stacks” – formed by erosion and some say they are named after the devil, who once slept there and others say they were named to commemorate the Pirate ” Old Harry” Paye, who used to hide there and ambush the French trading ships. As you can see, they are much like the Needles, off the Isle of Wight.

We arrived back just as the Fun Day was kicked off by a canon shot. It was very LOUD! It doesn’t sound it in the video below but it really was!

As the train tickets were still valid, we decided to drive to Swanage via the chain ferry at Sandbanks. On the way, we phoned for advice about parking and were advised that it would be best to pick up the train at Norden, which is the best station for parking for the Swanage Railway, so we headed there.

By now, the weather was brightening and the sun was showing its face at last. We had a bit of time to kill until the next train and bought sandwiches and coffees from the very good little cafe on the platform. After lunch, I looked after the dogs while the others went to visit the Mining Museum. The dogs were dropping off – it had been a long morning – and all of a sudden a flurry of wings and a little fledgling landed on my arm. I was so surprised and so,I think, was he or she. It may even have been a maiden flight! I could not believe it and inched very carefully to get my phone to take a picture of my little visitor. Just then someone walked by and it startled the bird. He flew to the spot where I finally managed to take a picture.

He didn’t stay long and the others missed it. They arrived back shortly after my encounter and we all got on the train which arrived just after them. They tell me the museum was well worth a visit. We chugged off and very soon arrived at Corfe Castle, where the trains halt for a while (I think they maybe turn round?). We used it for a photo opportunity – or two.

And then we were off again in the now bright sunshine. We arrived at Swanage station and went for a leisurely walk around the town and along the prom. There was some sort of rowing race on and it was all very busy. We walked down to a pier and had an ice-cream and watched people crabbing, before walking back up to town to catch the train back to Norden. We’d had a lovely day despite the weather and a change of plan.

We went back to our respective abodes to spruce up and rest for a while, before heading back to the very pretty village of Corfe Castle for our evening meal at the dog-friendly Greyhound Inn, where Barb and the boys sampled some nice beers. The food was very nice and we spent a very pleasant evening there, before returning to our van for coffee and bed.


Sunday 16th

Bob and Barb were up with the lark as they had to get back to their home near Worthing. We were still in bed when they knocked the door to say goodbye. We took things a little more “Sunday morning easy” style, but were still home with plenty of time to tidy up and enjoy some time at home too. Another lovely weekend with our mates. And next – our 2 week holiday in the Lakes – just 4 sleeps before we were off! Can’t wait!

Bill and Ted - not phased by the rough passage


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