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Archive : September

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

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.

Bristol to Wales 23-27 August

Thursday 23rd

We’re back at Orchard Bank – it’s been a while! We did all the tasks that required us to nip back home on Wednesday and made the return journey today, at about 18:30. We drove through the heart of Bristol this time and it was nice to see all the sights. It was also lovely to see our van safe and sound when we arrived. So grateful to the owners of the site for keeping a lookout. And it kind of feels like home, somehow?

We had stopped for a very naughty – and very rare – MacDonalds on the way, so no food was required. Just a quick coffee and then it was lights out for yet another early start.

Friday 24th

We had originally booked to stay at the next site – Llangorse Lake – from the Thursday night and had thus rung and arranged to arrive early today – because we could. It would also help avoid the Bank Hol weekend traffic – or that was the plan. So the alarm was set for 06:00 and we got up and packed the van and hitched up for a last pass through those blooming gates. I’m not really complaining – they are a necessary evil and would make it pretty hard to make a fast get-away. Although, I guess if you’re nicking a caravan, you’re not going to be too scrupulous about closing a couple of gates! But they might be a bit of a deterrent?  It’s a pretty tight exit actually! But soon we were on our way. We have really enjoyed this CL and will definitely stay again, should the need arise. We’d be glad to.

We planned to stop at the first services to grab brekker “on the hoof”, but sadly that plan went awry when we missed the flipping exit. I say we –  but as I wasn’t driving I was reading…. Ah well. The first opportunity (it’s not always easy stopping when your total length is around 12.5 metres!) to stop was thus at Morrisons in Abergavenny. The coffee wasn’t bad but I threw my pastry away half-eaten. Vile.

We pressed on and the traffic was not too bad (phew!) and we arrived at Llangorse at around 09:30. We set up and had a bowl of cereal and I had a bit of a relax while Paul did a bit of work. The skies opened and it poured down. We were under a tree, which makes the  rain sound worse somehow and the sound of large acorns bouncing on the roof only added to the noise! But eventually it cleared up and we set off out.

Llangorse Lake Campsite view

We thought we’d pop to Brecon for a look round but as we arrived it started to heave it down. We bolted into Costa and took refuge in a coffee until it passed again. I wondered if this would be the weather story all weekend. Brecon is a nice little town and we remembered our visit there some years ago with our friends Sue & Paul and our lovely dogs Freddie and Archie, both of whom we miss terribly. It was in August 2007, before we started caravanning, but I remembered that the site was called  Brynich. It seems it is now a Caravan and Motorhome Club site. We had a lot of laughs at that site in our tenting days.

A few views of Brecon:

We had hired a day boat on the Mon and Brec canal with Paul & Sue, and this fact leads me to our next destination – we popped to have a quick look at the canal and were lucky enough to see a boat in the lock. It was the trip boat from Brecon. The canal is an interesting size, being wider than the usual narrow canal lock width (such as on the Oxford Canal) which is 7 feet, but not as wide as the usual wide lock – (such as on the Trent & Mersey Canal) which is 14 feet. The Mon & Brec locks are around 9 feet wide and their wide boats are, of course, built accordingly. So – consider yourself informed!! The canal runs adjacent to the very attractive River Usk, which is crossed by a packhorse bridge nearby, where my Lord and Master is pictured.

We then took a general tour of the area, mainly reservoirs – Talybont, Ponsticill etc and they all looked pretty low on water after our very hot summer. We also had a lunch stop near Torpantau at the Old Barn Tea Rooms. Very pleasant and nice, freshly-made sarnies. After which we looked out for the Brecon Mountain Railway, as we had spotted odd puffs of steam and heard a whistle. We got an all too brief glimpse and, sadly, you’ll have to rely on the pictures on the link above,  but we also saw a very attractive ventilation shaft for a disused tunnel at Pant Station. Sadly it was too late to take a trip but it does look well worth doing.

It took about an hour to get back home to the van and we had time for a quick wash and brush up before going out for dinner. I had booked a table at Hills, just outside Brecon. It’s a burger joint with wonderful views of the Beacons. We had a lovely meal and would definitely return if we were in the area again. We drove home and settled down for the remainder of the evening, although it wouldn’t  be a late night, in view of our recent early rises. Or that was the plan. We were snoozing soundly when we were awoken by our new neighbours arriving back at their moho with their three barking dogs and loud “see you tomorrows” and lots of noisy laughter. Which went on a bit. There are rules on campsites  – usually no noise after 10:30  – which most people (including us) follow religiously. Not them.  I asked them to desist but they carried on regardless. We were not amused.

Saturday 26th

We awoke quite early (must be getting used to it?) and found ourselves moving around and whispering so as not to disturb our neighbours, who had not yet surfaced. I actually felt like making an unholy racket but that would have been childish and we are above that sort of behaviour. Mostly….

Today , we had planned to go boating on the Lake, but the weather looked more than a bit iffy and we didn’t want to take a wet boat home in the car so we abandoned that idea. We were quite late going out but we had a new plan. And a picnic!

The new plan was to go to the Red Kite Feeding station at Llanddeusant. Feeding wasn’t until 15:00 and, although they ask you to arrive early, we still had some time to kill. Time for one of Paul’s delightful misery tours! We drove to Sennybridge – famous for being the home of the quirky X Factor contestant Rhydian (Roberts) back in 2007 –  and thence Trecastle and on to the beautiful Usk reservoir, where I stopped for a chat with a friendly sheep.

Then it was time to drop down onto Llandeusant for Kite feeding. On the way we were stopped by a tractor crossing the road and what followed was a joy!. A procession of tractors – many of them vintage (much like me!) – and we really enjoyed watching them. There is a video of part of the procession here.

We arrived at the Kite Station and settled down to eat our lunch and await the Kite Feeding time. It was a fantastic display of aerobatics from the Kites – who eat on the wing. We were also joined by a couple of Buzzards (BIG!!) who eat on the ground. A great experience and one I’d recommend. We also loved the cat, who loiters with intent to pick up scraps too. So sweet and very friendly.

On the way home, we came across a VERY narrow bridge – with a gauge to check before you attempt to cross. It was pretty close. I wonder how many people have been caught out?

We called in on Brecon on the way back, as we had heard tell of an excellent ice-cream parlour. We were not disappointed. It (Llanfaes Dairy) was very busy indeed and the ice-creams were amazing. And there was very clearly an Italian influence, which is unsurprising as there is a long tradition of Italian emigrants setting up Ice-cream Parlours (and also cafes and fish and chip shops) in Wales. Indeed, the famous Berni inns proprietors emigrated from Italy to Merthyr Tydfil. This article about the diaspora is well worth a read.

There were so many flavours it was all a bit bewildering! I can’t resist Salted Caramel, Cinammon and Rum Raisin. So I had a three scoops and it was delicious. After this, we popped to have a look at the canal basin, which looked very pretty in the lovely sunshine.

We then made our way back to base where we relaxed for a while and – eventually – cooked a delicious meal, (pork with fusilloni and basil) courtesy of the amazing Gousto. Having washed up we watched a bit of TV before retiring – hoping for a quieter night.

Sun 26th

We were not disappointed! A largely unbroken night’s sleep was afforded us. How nice! I say largely because I was occasionally awoken by rain and acorns but – after I put put my ear-plugs in – I snoozed until morning. And awoke refreshed

Today we were off to Kerry, near Newtown to visit my dear Aunty Vera. And as a bonus, my cousin Martin was over from New Zealand and we had a very pleasant afternoon catching up and reminiscing, as one inevitably does when one advances in years. We were also joined by my stepmother – Nanny Lynne and a good time was had by all. It was about an hour’s drive each way and – oddly and annoyingly – we took no photos, so you’ll have to believe that we went!

We filled up ready for our trip home the next day on the way back and then had a quiet evening.

Mon 27th

Home today and thus not much to report. Although Noisy Neighbours reared their ugly heads again. Boo to them! But we had a nice break and we’re away in the van next weekend too. Watch this space!



Orchard Bank, Claverham 16-23 Aug

Thursday 16th

Claverham is situated half way between Bristol and Weston-super-Mare, in the Unity Authority of North Somerset and – more specifically –  in the Civil Parish of Yatton.  The reason for our stay was that Paul had some business to do for a few days and, rather than him zooming up and down the M4 several times, we decided that we would take the caravan and stay for the duration. Great decision! We chose a CL – Orchard Bank – as our base – another great choice!

We had arranged with the CL to arrive early (very often midday is the earliest you can arrive on a site and usually it’s 2 or 3 pm) – and this is one of the reasons we love CLs; they are much more relaxed and flexible than a “proper” site. They have fewer facilities but all we need is a electric hook-up, fresh water and somewhere to dump grey & black waste. This one ticked all the boxes and was only 20 minutes from where Paul needed to be.

We arose at 05:45 and were on the road by 06:20. We had a smooth trip – stopping for a quick breakfast on the run at Sutton Scotney – in the pouring rain – and arrived on site, to clearing skies, at around 09:15.  Access to the site was through 2 gates. There was one other unit on site and we chose to set-up in a quiet corner (as per the pic below). It was lovely. And all hard-standings – which we prefer. Quite rural too – as you can see.



We soon got set up and then I dropped Paul off at work in Flax Bourton – the home of his company. And what a home it is, located as it is in the old Workhouse. A very imposing building, built in 1838 and used initially as a workhouse and then as a “mental deficiency colony ” a role it performed until the early 90’s – when it was closed as a result of the “Care in the Community” initiative. It was redeveloped as offices in 2005 but has retained its imposing buildings – thank goodness.

Farleigh Ct

So! Now I was left to my own devices and, as it was an impromptu trip, my first stop was at Waitrose in nearby Nailsea. I had thrown together a quick menu plan and I had a good list. Although I do most of my grocery shopping on line and have done for over 15 years, I do enjoy the occasional trip round a supermarket – especially a Waitrose. So much to discover. And a free coffee at the end to boot. Perfect.

By the time I had finished victualling I was a little peckish and so I decided to treat myself to a solo lunch in Clevedon – home of the iconic cast iron pier and a favourite of ours. It is located on the Severn estuary, with views across to Wales (probably Newport) –  and I’ve never seen the water looking anything other than murky, because of all the mud. It (Clevedon) was used in the filming of Broadchurch, by the way.

Parking was quite challenging – but I struck lucky after a couple of passes and whipped into a newly vacated space on the seafront. My destination was Tiffin Tea House, which we have visited on previous occasions.

The cafe overlooks the beach and it was – by now – pretty breezy! I had chosen one of th special – Mushrooms and Cheese on Sourdough toast. Shortly after it had been served, a gust blew my salad garnish off the plate! I had to weight down the napkins too.  Hilarious.The cheesy, mushroomy toast was delicious, but I felt it was all a bit over-priced though, sadly? £10.95 for a slice of sourdough, four mushrooms, a few blobs of cheese and some (horrible) frisee lettuce. Hmmm….

After lunch it was time to make my way back to the van in the lovely sunshine. This took about 20 minutes. In view of the early start, I rather fancied a nap – or “beepy”, as we call it in my family. I unpacked all the shopping and settled down with my book, thinking this is the life! I think I may have fallen asleep smiling?


I was scheduled to pick Paul up but his boss very kindly dropped him back, which saved me a trip. He had a cuppa and then we put the awning up. I had done some prep for dinner, which was delicious – Corned Beef Hash, cooked on our Cadac. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

After dinner we watched a little Netflix and chilled. Our current favourite series is “Ozark” – highly recommended.

Friday 17th 

It was up early to get Paul to work – I just threw some clothes on and drove – figuring I’d sort out my toilette when I returned to the van, which I did.

I had a leisurely morning and then set off for Cribbs Causeway, for a little light retail therapy. For some years, my stepfather, Terry, had been based in Bristol at BAE Systems in Filton  during the week (home at weekends). My Mum often went to stay at his rented home during school holidays and had often mentioned visiting, but I had never been. Today was the day for me to visit.

I set off. Google Maps says it’s a 20 minute journey. Google Maps lies! Traffic was heavy and it took me nearly an hour! But I was soon parked and ready to shop.

I lunched in John Lewis (a cheese scone and coffee, thank you for asking). I wandered around the shops, desperately trying to spend money but nothing really caught my fancy. I did buy a couple of rolls of kitchen foil in Lakeland, though! I know how to shop, don’t I? Actually – I don’t really enjoy speculative or window shopping – I prefer to have a mission.

I set off for the journey home and it was then I realised my mistake. The M5 on a Friday afternoon is no picnic. Reader, it was rammed. The hour turned into nearly two on the way back. And even after I had left the motorway, i was happily tootling along when a guy came round the corner flashing his headlights. I assumed he was warning me of a speed trap (although I never exceed the speed limit – fact). But no. I rounded the corner to see a Police car parked across the road, blocking it. The policeman indicated that I should do a three pointer , so I turned round.

Not knowing the area, I was heavily reliant on the satnav, which was most insistent on taking me back down the route that was impossibly impassable! Nightmare.  I think it took me another hour to find a route that avoided the blocked road. Kitty Kia (the satnav) was next to useless. But I eventually made it back to the site. And in through the double gates – which I was growing to despise, even though I had developed a routine. Viz – drive up to the gate, get out, open it, walk to the next gate, open that. Walk back to the car, drive through both gates and then walk back to shut both gates. Get back in the car and drive to the pitch. We were alone now, by the way. Just how we like it.

Once again, Paul’s boss dropped him off, so it was a repeat of the previous evening . Dinner, tv and bed. Dinner was a slightly unorthodox full(ish) English – complete with home made hash browns. Delish though I say it myself. So much nicer than those flipping waxy triangles they pass of as Hash Browns in the freezer cabinet. Yuk. We first experienced proper Hash Browns in the States. They were a revelation!  If you fancy having a go, it’s very easy.


  • 4 medium potatoes (maybe Maris Piper or King Edwards)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped finely)
  • 1 egg – beaten
  • salt and pepper – be generous or it can be bland
  • vegetable oil for frying

Grate the potatoes, put them in a clean tea-towel and wring them out. You will be surprised how much water comes out! I always am. Mix it all together with the other ingredients and then put it in “clumps” (about 1cm thick) on your frying surface. Cook until browned on both sides. About 6-10 minutes, approximately.

Saturday 18th

It had rained overnight and so we had a bit of a lie in after the recent early mornings. Our plan for today was to take the bikes along the Strawberry Line, in nearby Yatton. What a fab resource! It is a well-surfaced path along the route of the old Cheddar Valley Railway Line. The line – which runs 10 miles from Yatton to Cheddar was closed by dear old Beeching, back in 1963. But the first job of the day was to ring Linda Mary Wise and Nanny Lynne to wish them a very happy  joint. birthday.

We drove to Yatton station, where the track starts,  parked the car, got the bikes off the roof and set off through the lovely Somerset countryside. The area – part of the North Somerset levels – is criss-crossed by ditches – known as “rhynes” (pronounce reens) – which is basically a drainage ditch, or canal, used to turn areas of wetland at around sea level into useful pasture.

As we cycled, we met dog-walkers, walkers, runners and other cyclists. Our plan was to have lunch in Cheddar but we got as far as Sandford – about half way to Cheddar – when Paul realised he had left his wallet in the car. We were hot and thirsty and hungry and so decide to turn round and go back to Yatton. A shame but there it was. One day we’ll do the whole route as it’s lovely.

We cycled back. I had noticed that the hedgerows were particularly heavy with nature’s produce. Apples, elderberries, blackberries rose-hips (not to be confused with Haws) sloes and damsons. What a bounty!


I wish I’d had a container to plunder some of those goodies. Crumbles, Elderberry Wine, Rose Hip Syrup – very popular for babies when I was a kid – remember Delrosa? But it’s nearly time to make a new batch of Damson Gin (which I prefer to Sloe Gin). Here’s the recipe – this is a quick way, by the way, which removes the need for pricking the damsons as is more usual. Note – you need to do Step 1 the night before you want to make the gin. And you’ll need one quite large or a couple of large screw top jars. :


  • 500g damsons
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1l bottle gin

Step 1 – Wash the damsons all over, dry, put in a poly bag and freeze overnight.

Step 2  – Remove the damsons from the freezer and bash them a few times with a rolling pin to break the skins. Pour the damsons into the jar(s).

Step 3 – Pour in the gin and the sugar  and shake it all well – with the lid on!! Repeat the shaking process every day for a week. Then – stick the jars away in a dark cupboard for 2 or 3 months to allow the flavour to develop. Damsons are an autumnal fruit, so it’s usually ready in time for Christmas. Yum!

Step 4 – Strain the jars, discard the damsons (some folk eat them. I don’t. Yuk.) and bottle the now reddish-purple gin. Enjoy!

I digress- we arrived back at Yatton Station with only one thing on our minds! LUNCH! and a drink. So that’s two things. Whoops. Luckily there is a nice cafe right there that does a nice line in toasties and we fell upon them with relish. After (quite a late) lunch, we replaced the bikes on the roof and set off. Paul had a fancy to visit  Portishead. I was happy to concede, having never been there myself (that I can recall).

The end (and beginning) of the line

I’m not sure what I was expecting but Portishead was not as I anticipated. it was quite busy with people (holidaymakers?) and the beach area is quite dominated by a very 70’s looking orange and yellow open air pool complex. Again – very busy.  The business end of town was more as I imagined it although most of the old docks/power station buildings have been imaginatively redeveloped into a marina/housing complex – the housing area is loosely based on the Cornish seaside town of Polperro with narrow streets and multi-coloured houses. Quite attractive, we thought?

We had a yearning for an ice cream and spotted this place in the town centre  called Shanicattis Shakes – which looked interesting. It has long been an ambition of mine to try a “freakshake” and it seemed here was my opportunity! To be honest, I’d never even seen one. I’d heard that they had originated in Australia, were pretty popular and I just knew I wanted one. Aye Caramba! What was I thinking? I’d say a month’s calories in one hit!! A bit much in truth, and I couldn’t actually finish it,  but we are no longer freakshake virgins.

Yerp! That actually is a ring doughnut on the top!!!

We made our way home – stuffed to the gills. Cheese and biscuits – and not many of them –  for supper was the order of the day. In for a penny, in for a pound! But not before we had played a couple of games of Boules to work up something of an appetite! Other than that, the evening passed pretty much as usual,  until it was time for bed.

Sunday 19th

Big day today. Our best chums Linda and Anna had driven up to Linda’s sister’s house in Yatton,  after the show at Chichester which she was currently working on (Me & My Girl) and we were scheduled to have a day out with them, culminating in dinner at ours. Larks!

As they would not have arrived until v late, we were not scheduled to pick them up until 11:00, which also allowed us to have a nice lazy morning, too!

We eventually rocked up in Yatton and off we went. Cheddar was our destination but – as is Paul’s preference, we took an “interesting” route there. Suce routes are also known as “one of Paul’s misery tours”. Somewhat unfairly? Well those of you who have experienced one will know whether that is fair!!

Our first stop was at Burrington Coombe – location of the Rock of Ages – which is where the hymn of the same name is sometimes claimed to have been written. A perfect photo opportunity!

After this, we moved on to a bit of moorland for a bit of a scrabble round and – of course – more photos!

Thence – on to Cheddar Gorge, where we stopped for a while to watch some climbers and do a bit of clambering of our own. And even more photos….

We parked in Cheddar village and went to look at all the tacky souvenir shops and bought the obligatory lump of Cheddar Gorge Cheddar cheese. Then it was time for lunch at the White Hart – sandwiches only, as we had a proper meal later on in the day. A group of youngish potty-mouthed lads kept me amused – although their language was a bit over-ripe – even for me!!. My favourite saying was (in a rich West Country accent ) “Go down Bristol on a Saturday, get bollocksed, ‘appy days” – why it made us chuckle quite so much I don’t know. Nothing to do with the cider, I’m sure.

On the way back to the campsite, we stopped off at the Railway Inn in Sandford – home of Thatcher’s Cider – for more cider – although not for me or the driver! Well it was a birthday trip for that girl! It was a beautiful pub and we got to meet Pepita the Repeater – you had to be there!

Back at the van, we introduced the girls to the joys of boule and then cracked on with dinner. A Cadac Chicken, Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto, which went down really well. Along with the wine and beer! There was some Risotto left over for Linda’s lunch the next day too! Happy days! We had laughed a day away, as usual.

All to soon it was time for them to go back to Yatton, ready for their trip back down South the next day. We were quite pleased to go to bed too. Back to work tomorrow for Paul.

Monday 20th/Tuesday 21st

We had to pop back down, urgently, to Portchester for a couple of days on Wednesday for various compelling reasons and we had negotiated with the lovely owners of the CL (Charles and Diana – yes!) to pay and stay an extra couple of nights, leaving the van unattended for one night.  his was largely because we were coming up to Wales on Friday and it seemed silly to drag the van all the way back only to drag it back up on Friday.

I took Paul to work and then came home and pottered a day away. I did some work. – planning the Christmas show for Spinnaker and various other bits and pieces and it was soon time to get ready to go out for dinner. I picked Paul and his boss (Nick) up and we went to Clifton, where Nick had booked a table for us and the French Digital Yacht Sales Manager, Nico. We went to The Mint Room – an upscale Indian which was excellent and we had a very pleasant evening. I had a Biriani, which served very imaginatively. See below.  My review can be found here – it has already been read by nearly 300 people!  I drove home, dropping both Nico and Nick off on the way.


Lamb Biriani – served with a pastry lid!

I had a lie-in on Tuesday morning as Paul needed the car for work. I had a late breakfast and did some more planning work, before deciding to go out for a bike ride mid-afternoon. It had been a gray morning, but the sun had come out and I had a plan to go to Poppie’s Tea Room in Claverham. I punched the address in my phone and off I set. Only to find this:

Closed – and up for sale!

Very disappointing. Not deterred, I decided to set off to cycle to Yatton and I was breezing along when CLUNK! This happened:

Yup – the chain had come off. I was a tad annoyed. And I didn’t really fancy the walk home – it was hot! So I thought about it and I thought about it and decided that – as I have watched Paul put chains back on many times – I’d have a go for myself. After much swearing I managed it!  I was cock-a hoop! At least!! Thrilled, I got back on the bike and returned home to get washed up! No WAY was I going to risk it coming off again!

I had a quick beepy after my exertions and got ready to go out. Paul had arrived home earlier than anticipated and so we set off together to meet my cousin, Alice Legge, in nearby Backwell, at The George.  Alice had booked a table and we spent a really lovely evening chatting and catching up. It had been a while. We returned home to the van and went straight bed as we had an early start the next day.

Wednesday 21st

Another 5:45 alarm. We arose, secured the van and then set off for home. The owners messaged me to say that they would keep an eye on things and would add extra security to ensure the van’s safetyF. How very kind!. We arrived home nice and early, sad to have left – but knowing we’d be going back the very next day, after work.