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Archive : August

Dartmouth with Mum and Uncle D – 23rd to 26th August

Thursday 23rd
The day dawned fine, sunny and warm and we left home at around 10 o’clock, anticipating a long drive with plenty of stops to accommodate Paul’s poorly back/leg/hip. Poor Mum was feeling nauseous, which we hoped (and this later turned out to be correct) that it might be attributable to a change of meds. A reasonably trouble-free journey with only a couple of “pinch-points” (Bridport & Totnes) saw us arrive on site by around 3ish. We were staying at the Dartmouth C&CC site.

We had a couple of hours to kill as the B&B was not available until 5 so we had a cuppa and then went off to explore Dartmouth. We visited Dartmouth Castle – and had an ice-cream and then a quick whizz round the Dartmouth one way system to the guest house – 8 Bells, in Dartmouth town.

The location was perfect, with a great view of the River Dart and its bustling boating scenes. We dropped Mum & Uncle D (henceforth M&UD) off, and got them settled in. Mum’s bedroom was the one pictured top left on the B&B’s website. Not bad eh? We had already booked for dinner and so arranged to pick up at 7. We drove off and had a quick look at Blackpool Sands but could not get out as they have a strictly no dogs policy, sadly.

Back to the site and a bit of unpacking and before we knew it, it was time to pick up M&UD and go to Tuckenhay, and The Maltsters Arms, our supper venue.

This pub is in a beautiful location overlooking the beautiful River Dart – some people arrive by boat, some by car. We had a very nice meal indeed.

Friday 24th
M&UD had good reports of their B&B and of the trouble that the proprietor had gone to so that Mum did not have to tackle the stairs for her breakfast – which is where the dining room is. Comfy beds too, so all well.

The weather had deteriorated as expected (although more so!) and we decide coastal was probably best left so we headed off inland towards Dartmoor. But first, a trip across the Lower Dartmouth Ferry  and a brief visit to Darthaven Marina , where Paul met one of his old colleagues.

It was pretty dire on Dartmoor – visibility was not great and rain was pretty much constant.

Our first point of call was Widecombe in the Moor, made famous by Uncle Tom Cobley (and all) where a break in the clouds allowed a short look round the gift shops. Then it was off to Princetown for a glimpse of the famous prison. It looked very foreboding, looming out of the mist, even though it no longer accommodates high-risk prisoners.

Our next stop was at Dartmeet – the confluence of the East and West Dart rivers, both tributaries of the Dart river. The spot is popular with tourists (although less so today!) and has a pretty clapper bridge.

After a short photo opportunity, we made our way to Tavistock – the birthplace of Sir Francis Drake. It was pasty time! We bought from the “Original Pasty Shop” – a somewhat dubious claim but nice nevertheless! We both broke with tradition however, with Paul choosing a Spicy Chicken and Chorizo and I had Cheese and Bacon. Mmmmm. It was also break in the rain time and we had a short walk around – nice independent shops. We like!

We were about an hour away from home now and made our way back, dropping off M&UD, with a view to picking them up at dinner time again.

We were off to Harberton for dinner tonight – to the Church House, which we had visited before, many years previously. The food was good then and we had high hopes of it still being so. We were not disappointed and had another lovely meal.

Saturday 25th
A much better day weather-wise, thank goodness so we struck off for the coast. First stop was Blackpool Sands, but an even shorter stop this time as the car park was closed. We then made our way through some very narrow lanes to East Portlemouth, stopping at a ford for a few photos on the way. We thought the passenger ferry to Salcombe might be an option, but access was very steep so it was not practical, sadly. The beautiful unspoilt beach also looked tempting but, again, impractical.


So – off to Salcombe it was, via Kingsbridge and Frogmore, which was where we bought our pasty lunch. I had probably the best beef pie I have ever had – simply gorgeous and a 10 out of 10 from me. The boys gave their HUGE traditional pasties an 8.

We’re not sure which town we prefer actually. Dartmouth or Salcombe. It’s a tough one!

It was fine enough for an explore of the shops. Again, some lovely little indepents. We particularly liked Seasalt. Mum bought a lovely new jacket there and we all bought some attractive jute bags, as gifts.


An ice-cream and then it was time to make our way back to Dartmouth. A lovely day all round.

Our dinner venue tonight was the Red Lion in Dittisham – again on the Dart but not such a good location. A bit of delay for dinner as there was a big party in, but this provoked a long reminiscing session and I heard things from both M&UD that I had never heard before- particularly about their experiences during the war and UD’s experiences in hospital as a boy.

Sunday 26th

Typically, today was a beautiful day – just right for our journey home! We had arranged a late pick-up for M&UD and they spent the time watching the rowing races on the first day of Dartmouth regatta. We reluctantly left Dartmouth, vowing to return again before too long. We want to take Evie and Lenny crabbing!


Newbury with the Hansfords – 17 to 19 Aug

Another exciting trip as it was the Hansford’s (Paul, Kate & Holly) first weekend camping. We set off about 4 pm and arrived at Bishop’s Green campsite after just over an hour. Paul S set up the caravan whilst I helped the H’s erect the tent. All told, it took around an hour, which we thought was pretty good.

It was a beautiful warm evening so we broke out the nibbles and ploughed our way through a couple of jugs of Pimms Turbo (includes added Gin!) and were soon at one with the world. Paul H had made a large pot of chilli and this went down a storm, too, after which we chatted and eventually went to bed.

The H’s had a good first night and Saturday dawned sunny and warm again. After a hearty fry-up, we set off exploring. We had a quick visit to nearby Greenham Common, which has been completely redeveloped since its famous time with the women peace campaigners in the 80s. Pretty boring really! We then made our way to Kintbury, which has a fantastic artisan bakery who sell the most amazing (looking) lardy cakes. We went for a walk past the church and then along the canal to the Dundas Arms. The last time we had visited, it was pretty lacklustre but has recently been taken over, given an overhaul and a new menu. We didn’t eat on this occasion, but it all looked much more enticing. The drinks were very welcome – ice cold cider. Mmm.

Next was a trip to Hungerford, ad a quick flick round the shops and Cornish pasties and ice-creams for some.

Our final stop was Newbury. More shopping, including some meat for our planned BBQ from the butchers, just near the canal bridge. We have bought meat there every time we have come to Newbury and never been disappointed. We were all hot and tired after shopping and required iced coffee from Starbucks to restore ourselves. As it was late afternoon by now, we made our way back to the site.

After refreshments and a game of badminton (very sweaty!) we started prep for the BBQ. Paul cooked and we all ate our fill. We spent the remainder of the evening chatting and looking for shooting stars and satellites, of which there were, gratifyingly, quite a few.

Next day was again sunny and the owner had told us there was no hurry to get off, so we had a leisurely breakfast (the usual eggs and toast) and then began the process of drying out the condensation from the tent. The sun was hot and strong and the tent was soon dry. We showed the H’’s how to pack up and it was good to hear that they were now affected by the camping bug, so hopefully, this was the first of many trips. The weather gave them a perfect introduction – although we felt that we had to explain that it wasn’t always like this!

Graffham Reunion weekend – 3 to 5 August 2012

We were very excited about this latest weekend away as it was a meet-up with some people we had met on our trip to Canada – Bob & Barb Shorter. They have a Hymer Camper van and we had arranged to meet at the Graffham C&CC site, which we loved (and will return to).

The journey there through the lovely Sussex countryside was a real treat – especially as the sun was shining. We arrived and set up and, after setting up, sat down and had a jolly good catch up, with drinks. Quails eggs and stuffed vine leaves. I had made a fish pie and they joined us for dinner. We passed a very pleasant evening.
It rained and rained in the night – quite heavy too and the ground outside the van resembled a bit of a swamp. As Bob’s van was a heavy old German import, there was some concern that he would get stuck (apparently this has happened before!) in the mud but they were off with no trouble.

We set off for Petworth and had coffee and a mooch round this pretty town. I bought a new oilcloth for the dining room table. Very pleased with that. We also bought a very tasty-looking home made Scotch Egg from Cates’s Delicatessen & Cookshop, for our lunch. Lots of scrummy stuff to be avoided there! We then went for a short walk around Burton Mill Pond.

and thence to Bignor Hill for another walk and great views. Can confirm that the Scotch Egg was entirely delicious! We had arranged to meet Linda & Anna in the Forresters Arms pub in Graffham, and after a couple of drinks, we set off on a very pleasant short circular walk around Lavington Stud. This had some great views over the downs and was enhanced by the sunshine.

It was late afternoon by the time we finished the walk and so we retruned to the caravan with the girls and had tea and a chat with Bob & Barb. The girls had to leave after a couple of hours. We had a table booked for dinner at the Forresters Arms and so we quickly got ready and arrived at the pub. We had a great meal, good food and company and we resolved to meet up again soon.

There was more rain over night and it was a bit of quagmire. We left deep ruts when we moved off and popped in to apologise at reception. Hope they’ll have us back – although they did agree that it was pretty much unavoidable after so much rain. We were very lucky to have had a fine day on Saturday and we look forward to our return to this site.

Legoland Trip – 27th to 29th July 2012

Friday – late morning and we were off, sadly having to leave Archie, our 9 year old Border Terrier (an avid caravanner!) behind. Legoland was not for him. His place was taken by our 6 year-old neice, Evie. She joins us every year for a weekend away. The journey took about 2.5 hours, with stop and we were soon setting up at Hurley Riverside – a fully serviced pitch (sewage and water plus electricity) right by the Thames, between Henley and Maidenhead.

Once setup, we ventured out and visited Hurley village and the lock. Very pretty and lovely to see the boats. Very nostalgic for us. We love boating, too, and have done the entire Thames from Limehouse to Lechlade.

A nice cuppa, a paddle and then off to Maidenhead and the inevitable visit to Waitrose , after which back to the van. Gave Evie her tea and then had a walk along the Thames and the Nature Trail provided by the campsite.

Saw lots of bunnies and then it was back and bedtime for little people, and a quck squizz at the Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony for us.

There were hordes of kids on bikes roaming the site and loads of Dutch and Germans. Very near the Olympic rowing venue, so glad we booked nice and early! Apparently competitors and volunteers are also staying on site, which meant a lot of off car movement at odd times. Otherwise, we had a good night.

Saturday – up early and off to Legoland. This wa s a surprise for Evie and she was ecstatic. We had a great fun day and the additional expense of “Q-Bots” (which basically allow you to walk straight up to a ride and not queue!) proved a fantastic investment. Had a great day and were there for 7 hours! Exhausting!

We had an early table booked at Prezzo in Maidenhead so by the time we got back, had a quick shower we were off out again. We had a great meal and full marks to Prezzo for their children’s menu, which kept Evie entertained for the whole meal. After this it was home and bed, first for Evie and then – shortly afterwards – for us!

Sunday – up, breakfast and off to feed the ducks on the Thames (just a whole loaf of tiger bread then!) Then out to meet Mel who was coming by train to Maidenhead to collect Evie, who had an urgent and vital party (she’s 6!) to go to. Back to the site for coffee and lazy remainder of the morning – including a luncheon courtesy of Waitrose. Starting to wonder whether I should ask them for sponsorship for this blog?

Off and away by 2 pm and home by around 4.30. A lovely weekend with lots of happy memories.

Back to Surrey Weekend – 21st to 23rd July 2012

As we had not had time to explore on our previous visit, we decided that another visit to the Surrey Hills AONB was in order, so it was back to East Horsley.

We started our Saturday with a drive round the area, which is very beautiful indeed with some amazing properties that I really envied. We skirted the edge of Greatlee Wood, then down to Sutton Abinger and eventually stopped in Peaslake for a coffee break. Our meandering route eventually led to Godalming, where we went for a mooch round the shops and very tasty lunch. I bought a French china gravy separator for £4 in a charity shop. Divertimenti have them for £22.50! We had parked in the Waitrose car park and I popped in for some odds and ends – just can’t ignore a Waitrose! Had a relaxing afternoon and evening and a great night’s sleep.

I got up and walked the dog round the lake and we had a scrummy breakfast of boiled eggs and toast – a Sunday morning favourite. We had a leisurely morning reading and then started the packing-up process. We noticed with some concern that a family had gone out and left their dog in the caravan. As they still hadn’t arrived back when we left and as it was a hot day, we reported them to the site management.

As we were leaving, we noticed a strange ringing noise – much like the zils on a tambourine. Worrying! We stopped and looked but could not quite detect the source of the sound. Another stop revealed that the Swift hubcap was missing – a little annoying as it’s all but brand new. The sound appeared to be emanating from the Alko wheel centre. All the wheels bolts seemed tight so we went on our way with no ill effect.

Wet and Mis weekend – Sat 7th July 2012

As we had nothing planned for this weekend, we made an impromptu decision on the Friday evening to check in to our local CC site, Rookesbury Park. We awoke to rain on the Saturday morning. Paul’s back was bad and I had a painful, swollen arm so we were not in the best of spirits. The prospect of a night away was a cheery thought, though, and we set off on our journey. It took us all of 15 minutes! When we arrived there was another brand new caravan. They had just picked up and were very excited. By some coincidence they recognised me and said that I had sung at their wedding! (It later transpired that we had met Nigel Hocking’s nephew and wife! Small world.)

We pitched up and had a relaxing afternoon reading and snoozing. It rained and rained. And then it rained for a while, before a couple of heavy showers. We began to wonder how easy it would be to get off site. Rookesbury Park site is mainly grass but the site manager had told us he would pull us off (!!) if there was any problem at all.

The people in the caravan next door had a dog who was obviously not allowed inside when wet. So he was chained up outside, where he barked incessantly. Nice.

After some rain overnight, (quelle surprise!) we woke up to – yes, more rain. We had our usual Sunday morning brekker and packed up. The moment of truth. Dolly made light work of it and we drove home, glad that we had made the effort and feeling relaxed and happy.

River Wey Weekend – Friday 29th June to Sun 1st July 2012

Friday – left home around 3.30 and had an uneventful trip to the C & CC site at East Horsley.

A very friendly welcome and much admiration for our new van! We were soon set up and off to Cobham for a few odds and ends in Waitrose. Paul had work calls to USA to make so I shopped alone. Bought some yummy things – including an intriguing pot of “Balsamic Pearls”.
We were both looking forward to our first night’s sleep in the new van and, as we had a pretty early start, went to bed early.
Saturday – up at 7-ish after a comfy night and in the shower (nice!) and breakfast before packing up our contribution to the day’s picnic – Scotch Eggs and Victoria sandwich (both made on Thursday evening) and hot beverages for the day. The night had been showery and the morning wasn’t looking a whole lot better with threatening grey clouds and a sharp and chilly wind. Great for a day’s boating!
We all (Bruce Mel, Lenny & Evie Carter and Kate, Paul and Holly Hansford)arrived at Farncombe Boathouse, near Catteshall Lock on the River Wey, within a couple of minutes of each other. We paid the damage deposit, picked up life jackets for the littlies and began our briefing. Soon we were on our way towards Guildford. The weather was very kind all day and our picnic would have fed double the crew. A lunch time stop for Pimms went down very well indeed. Stopped at Dapdune Wharf on the way back for a short visit and eventually made our way back to base. And reluctantly handed back the boat.

We drove back in convoy to the campsite so that everyone could come and admire our new acquisition. After a quick cuppa, everyone left us to our own devices and we passed a pleasant evening watching Pacific .

We very much enjoyed our first weekend away in Mr Munch and can’t wait for the next time. Some images from the weekend follow:

Pick-up – Wednesday 27th June 2012

A 4 o’clock slot for pick-up saw us leaving home at 2.30 for the journey to Gomshall (nr Guildford). All went well until we realised that Paul had forgotten to bring the apparently all-important driving licence (paper part) which was required to finalise the transaction. A hurried phone call to our son, George, fortunately saved the day and we left towing our new pride and joy. A sad farewell to Sir Percy – our former van of almost 4 years and we were off. We decided on a name on the return journey – choosing Mr Munch after leading Expressionist exponent Edvard Munch – to be known as Eddie for short. We arrived home at around 7 pm and spent the rest of the evening putting all our effects in and familiarising ourselves with the new layout and cupboard spaces, ready for the weekend to come.

Say hello to Mr Munch!

This is our new blog. Inspired by our blogging for our Canada trip, we decided we’d document – mainly for our own interest – our travels, mainly in the UK but, occasionally, abroad with our new caravan. So – here goes!

The new van is a “Swift Expression 554”, which is a special edition from Michael Jordan Caravans, based on the Swift Challenger Sport 554 but with more tasteful upholstery!! It looks a bit like this