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Archive : October

Somers Wood for the Caravan Show – 17-19 October

Another quickie report – this time to visit the Caravan Show at the NEC and another repeat visit, too. This time to Somers Wood Caravan Park, just outside Meriden in the West Midlands. It’s the perfect location to stay for a visit to the NEC. We realised this fact when we stayed here for the New Year. It’s a lovely site too, set (as the name might suggest) in a wood with plenty of wildlife to spot. The welcome you get at check-in is great, too. Like greeting an old friend.

We had a good journey up, other than having to queue from the Peartree Interchage to the M40 sliproad – some 7 miles. But it was Friday afternoon and there were roadworks, so it was only to be expected.  We soon arrived and again we got set up in the daylight and were soon relaxing with a cuppa before the rain started.

A34 Friday traffic
A34 Friday traffic

It was not a quiet night. The rain was often quite heavy and it always seems noisier when it is falling off trees – must be some scientific explanation for that?  It was also windy (a legacy from Hurricane Gonzalo, which had hit Bermuda earlier in the week) so even when it wasn’t actually raining, the wind blew the rain from the trees onto the roof.  It happens occasionally and is not the end of the world – in fact we were chuckling about it – initially at least.

We were up early as we wanted to get in and do what we wanted to do and get out again, so after a quick breakfast we hopped in the car and set off for the short journey (see below) to the NEC.


There was very little queuing and we soon parked and made our way to the halls where the show was being held, intent on a cup of coffee and a show guide so that we could plan our offensive. Our son, George, had gone to a lot of trouble to get free passes for the show for us. Sadly, someone (OK it was me) had left them at home. He was very understanding when I “fessed up”, bless him, but it did mean that we had to buy tickets too.

We were through the doors on the dot of 10 and the first vans we clapped eyes on were Bessacar – something of a Rolls Royce when it comes to the caravan world. They are  relatives (rich Aunt) of our favourite brand, springing from the same manufacturer, but very luxurious and bristling with mod cons.  Looking at them was a grave tactical error, though,  as they raised the bar very high indeed. But they aren’t within our price range, being about £30,000, so we moved on! Oh and they are heavy so we couldn’t tow one anyway! Minor detail.

We looked at a very nice van early on and I was all for doing the deal right there and then. My ever-prudent husband had other ideas and insisted we wait until we had exhausted every possibility (and ourselves!). He was quite right and there were a couple of other possibilities but we kept coming back to the first one we had seriously viewed. And so we went back. And bought it. We take delivery in the new year. Another one, you might exclaim? Yes. And this one will have to be with us for a while, but it is pretty much ideal. I guess we have been looking for this van since our first one and now that we know exactly what we want, it should be a keeper.

It was abou 3.30 by this time and we made our way out, calling in to see, in person, the chap we have been dealing with for our USA adventure next year, of which more nearer the time. It was nice to put a face to a name.

So it was home, television and an early night after our taxing day.

The next morning was beautiful and the wood looked lovely, resplendent in its Autumn colours. We set off for home about 10.30 and arrived back in good time. No lawn mowing this time but it WILL have to be done again before the season ends.

Somers Wood in Autumn
Somers Wood in Autumn
The toilet block
The toilet block



Bladon Chains for the Oxford Canal – 29-31 August

Just a quickie as this was  a(nother) repeat visit to this busy camp-site near Blenheim Palace and the lovely Cotswold town of Woodstock, with its beautiful honey stone buildings and independent shops.  Once again, the purpose of our stay was a day boat on the Oxford Canal, our third and last such day this year. It was a good trip up and we were soon settled, in the daylight , and ready to relax. Which we did!

We were up early to make sarnies and meet our friends Kate & Paul and Kate’s dad (Chris) at the boat location in Thrupp. It took us about 10 minutes to get from the camp-site and we spotted the work of some yarn-bombers on the way. Very attractive. Such a pleasant and harmless form of graffiti, I always think.


The work of yarn-bombers.
The work of yarn-bombers.


The Hansford party were coming up from Portchester. Luckily, as it was an early morning start, they  had a good trip up and we were soon ensconced on the boat, hand over and briefing completed and on our way. Coffee was soon on and we ate and drank our way up the canal, past the Rock of Gibraltar pub and on through several locks to our turn round point. We were looking for sloe bushes but didn’t find many accessible ones. There were a great deal of wild hops around  and we gathered some for decorative purposes.  It was a lovely day with no rain and pretty warm, considering we were approaching the end of summer. It was much nicer than the photos make it look, anyway!


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After we had handed the boat back, we had a quick pop into Woodstock so that the Hansfords could see  how pretty it was. Sadly, it was late afternoon and the shops were all just closing but there were still a few picture opportunities – including a view of the back gate of Blenheim Palace!

The tradesmen’s entrance?
The grounds – Blenheim
Woodstock view
Beautiful stone

Next it was on to the historic pub known as “The Perch” at Binsey, just outside Oxford, where we had dinner booked. We had visited there quite a few years before, but from the Thames itself. We had a very pleasant meal and then said our fond farewells – us back to the van and the Hansfords back to Portchy.

We watched a spot of television and then plumped for an early night after all that fresh air and the early start. There was no reason to dally in the morning and we were off and away and home by about 1 o’clock. Just in time to mow the lawn – probably not for the last time this year.  Happy days.