On tour at home and abroad with the Sumpners

The view below is Toad Rock, Tunbridge Wells

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A quick catch up – it’s been a while!

22nd to 25th November

We made a repeat visit to the lovely Orchard Bank near Yatton because Paul had some business to do at HQ. We decided that we’d also go to Bath Christmas Market and make a weekend of it.

It was lovely to arrive on the Thursday evening. We’re not generally returners, but coming to Orchard Bank seems to feel a bit like coming home. We even got “our pitch”.  Funny to feel so territorial.

Paul went off to work on Friday morning and I settled down to do some work on the forthcoming Christmas Show I was producing and then I got a phone call. It was my friend Heather, who lives in Yatton and who is the sister of my dear friend Linda. She was free and would be popping in to see me. How lovely! And she arrived with a treat from the renowned Pullin’s bakery in Yatton. Doubly welcome! We had a nice chat and then she went on her way and left me to my work.

I had a beepy in the afternoon and then Paul arrived home from work. We popped to Yatton for a couple of things we needed and grabbed a quick coffee at the aptly named “That Coffee Place”. Then it was home for dinner and an early night.

Saturday morning saw us up early, ready for our trip to Bath. We were going by train from Yatton and it seemed like a bit of an adventure. I love a train journey.  We had to change at Bristol Temple Meads and as we boarded the next train there was a person handing out Brownies. How very civilised! I don’t recall that happening on my daily commutes of old!  Then it was a short hop to Bath Spa station. This station was clearly seriously geared up for the influx (and indeed the outflux), with queuing systems and a leaflet on the services especially for the Christmas Market. And people were pouring in to the town! Trade was brisk and it was a short step to the Market. Everywhere was bedecked in its Christmas finery and I felt the first real twinge of Christmassyness.

I have visited before but Paul was quite overwhelmed at the sheer size of it all. It was a grey and drizzly day (grizzly?) but they even had laid on some snow. It was very pretty but does not photograph very well, hence no evidence of it. There was stall after stall all around the town and our noses were assailed by the smells of mulled wine, sausages, cinnamon and other good Christmassy things. And there was plenty to ooh and ah over.


Our first stop was for coffee at the very pretty Sweet Little Things tea room on Lower Borough Walls.  It was one of those days where you have to dress for inclement weather but, the minute you go inside, it’s like you’re in a sauna. Suitably refreshed, we wandered round the market for a while until lunch beckoned. Now that was a real challenge! Everywhere was inundated with people. They get over 400,000 visitors to the market each year and I reckon half of them were there that day!

We eventually decided on Bill’s and joined the queue to be seated. It didn’t take too long. We had the Sauna effect again, though! It was a relief to sit down, in truth and we enjoyed our lunch. Then it was out to the market/shops for another hour or so, before we decided we’d had enough. We walked back via Pulteney Bridge, overlooking the much-photographed Weir, remembering the very happy times we had spent there, visiting by narrowboat and thence to the station. It was about 3 pm and seemingly a good time to leave as the queuing system was starting to be enforced. We hopped on the train, canal-spotting as we made the return journey. Last Christmas, whilst staying at Bath Chew Valley site,  we had cycled along the disused railway line and we spotted that too.

We relaxed for the evening and then packed up and returned home on the Sunday morning, feeling a little more like Christmas was on the way than we had before our visit.

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Sumners Ponds Horsham 14 June

We were originally to have spent two nights here but had double booked ourselves on the Friday night and so we set off mid morning on Saturday for the journey to the campsite near  Barns Green,  just outside Horsham. Mum has been staying in the caravan for a few days while Uncle D is on holiday and so we thought a night away might be nice for her. The trip took just over an hour and we received a very cheery and swift check-in.

We had booked pitch 82 (see map) which was next to a camping pod and very near the Cafe by the Lake.  We did wonder if this might be noisy but need not have worried. It was a very pleasant outlook and Paul swung the van round to make the most of the view.  We set  up and grabbed some coffees from the Cafe – which was doing a good trade –  and then sat and relaxed for a while. The rain came and went but was not too bothersome.


Before the rains came




Our personal island and water feature

The site has a total of 91 pitches but does not feel crowded. It is quite family orientated, with a good play area and a cute little train for little’uns. We’d definitely bring our two (Lenny & Evie) . Think they’d love it. It is also quite fishing orientated. Having said all that, I’d be glad to return – even though it is not our usual sort of site.

At around 2, we set out for Horsham, where we were scheduled to see a show that evening. We did a little shopping, including some nice new boots for Mr S from a nice little (independent?) shop called Moshulu – the tan ones in this link –  and had a cuppa. We had a table booked at Bill’s at 5 pm and by the time we had finished shopping it was time to find Bill’s and get parked. As Mum was with us, we had her blue badge, which makes parking a simpler matter than usual.


Surreal pic of Mum


The Cafe by the Lake

We got settled in Bill’s and placed our orders. The service was very good and we had a very nice meal – although possibly a little over-priced? It was not busy and so we finished earlier than anticipated. Also – at the time of booking our table,  I had not realised that the show had an 8 o’clock start, so we had a little time to kill.  We drove around for a while and then made our way to the Capitol Theatre, the venue for the show. The theatre (formerly known as Horsham Arts Centre) is located in an old cinema and has recently been refurbished. We have been to the theatre many times, as an old friend was the Box Office manager there for many years.

Mum at Bill's

Mum at Bill’s

Bersted Boys

Bersted Boys – with the Berstettes

Bersted Boys in blue

Bersted Boys in blue

This same old friend, Michael Gattrell, was actually appearing there tonight as part of “The Bersted Boys” – a male singing trio. It was a great evening and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. It was good to see Michael in action. We stayed behind for a chat and then made our way back to the cam[site. It was the first World Cup England game and a crowd of people were watching it on a tablet outside the cafe (good free wifi) but they weren’t too noisy. We were relegated to the dinette bed as Mum was in the fixed, but Paul soon had it made up and we had a quiet night’s sleep. The Cafe does breakfasts and it was tempting, but I had brought duck eggs with us and so we all had a good breakfast anyway. We read and chatted for a while and fed the numerous ducks/geese and then it was time to pack up and leave. Just as we were leaving a chap caught a really big carp which was quite exciting!  We had a very pleasant- if brief – stay and we’d certainly return without any question. This time with the dog, who got left behind with George on this occasion (because of the theatre visit) .

Great Crested Grebe

Great Crested Grebe

Canada Geese

Canada Geese


The one that didn't get away

The one that didn’t get away