Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Escape to the country April 2018

Escape to the country - Peak District

 This year, we thought the house needed a bit of renovation. We decided to have the kitchen and bathroom changed to something a bit less dated than the 27 year old kitchen and the goodness knows how old but retiled 25 years ago bathroom. It seemed a bit mad but also sensible as if you need an electrician, he might as well do both jobs at once instead of coming back and forth. Unfortunately old houses like ours don't like plans and fight back! So when stripping out the kitchen cabinets, the plaster decided that it didn't want to stay on the walls anymore ....ably assisted by it's friend, a spot of damp....
We had been using the van for cooking and showering  ,so with plans out of the window  and some time to wait, we headed off in it.
We revisited the Derwentwater Arms  in Calver again in the peak District. We had a fantastic meal and ended up talking to the couple who were staying in the their motorhome on the car park. Imagine our surprise when Gillian told us that she used to live in Thurlstone where we live, next door to friends of ours ! Coincidence! We had a lovely chat.

Callow Top Ashbourne
We had been this campsite years ago and as they had a special offer of £11 a night, we thought we'd revisit. It always gets mixed reviews because at weekends and holidays , there are lots of free range children but mid week, off season , it's quiet. There is a brewery there and it's easy access to the Tissington Trail and Ashbourne.
There was an Autotrail rally on so it was relatively busy. We walked into Ashbourne and checked out the pubs and shops. It is a lovely town. The walk back up the field didn't seem as steep as I had remembered . 

We had a nice pitch in a corner but the next morning we were woken early by pigeons pulling twigs off the trees and dropping bits on the roof.
The next day was dry and sunny so we got the bikes out and headed up the Tissington trail stopping for an ice cream at Tissington car park. 

We talked to a dad and his young daughter who were cycling but as Dad didn't have any cash and the kiosk didn't take cards, I got her an ice cream too.  We cycled into Tissington which was busy with coach trips and carried on along the trail till my hips said ' that's enough'. 

Cycling back was easy as it is a bit downhill though the last hill off the trail and up into the campsite was tricky for me. We went to the bar for a reasonable dinner and a cup semifinal  on tv. The rallyers were having dinner too. 
Showers at the site cost 20 pence and all the facilities are good. There is an open air pool and a pub which opens in May. The next day was also sunny so we moved pitches into a sunny spot and had what might be the British summer ...sitting and reading in the sun.
We had a really nice little break away from the plaster dust.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

25th wedding trip

2018 February  25th Wedding Anniversary Trip

We couldn't decide what to do for Pete's 65th birthday and our silver wedding long haul to somewhere exotic? Do a city break? Go to Iceland/Venice/Paris? 
We puzzled over it so long. Then we asked ourselves 'where are we happiest?' and the answer was easy...'in the van'!...... Preferably in Greece but this wasn't the right time to go as we had also decided that this would be the year that we got a new kitchen and bathroom....and not ones that were new  in a van as has happened before. So we did last minute ringing around and here's the little trip:

Wintersett Lakes , Wakefield

We drove, not very far, to Wintersett Lakes, the other side of Barnsley. It's about half an hour ...and another world away. We rarely travel in that direction. The site is small but pretty and the owner is really helpful. There are portaloos and electric hook up but no showers and 6 amp electric- though we were on a 16 amp.  We had a really nice flat walk around Angler's Lake and watched lots of birds from the hides there. There is a country park information and visitor centre and a cafe though it wasn't open. We watched a stunning sunset over the lake before going back to the van to eat. 

We then went to the Angler's Retreat, a perfect pub, about 100 yards from the site. We were made so welcome in the small pub with locals and landlord chatting away to us. We were given snacks from people who had brought things in to share- marvelous. We had a short starry walk back to a very quiet site.
There was heavy rain the next day but we had a long lie in then set to having a bit of a clean. When it stopped raining, we walked to Haw Park Wood , down through the wood towards Cold Hiendley. It's a perfect place for walkers and dogs. 

There are lots of marked paths and cycle trails with parking at the visitor centre. After tea we had to go back to the pub to make sure it was as good as yesterday and it was! The landlord even remembered our names and we were given more snacks by the kind people who go there....we'll be back!

York Rowntree Park.
I had found one night vacant at the Rowntree Park site and as York has always been a special place for us, I was ridiculously pleased when Pete told me he had rung the site and got three more nights! It was like getting a present.

We were woken up by a woodpecker who seemed to be just outside the van. We saw him in the tree opposite. We drove little back roads to York arriving at the very busy site but happy to get a spot in a corner. We went to walk the walls but they were closed so we went to the Station pub- always a good place to drink and watch people.  We went in the White Swan for shared mixed fish plate as we had decided that we wouldn't cook much on this trip and treat ourselves. We walked a very long way round back to the site having to stop in Wetherspoons to revive ourselves.

We spent some time researching where to eat on Pete's birthday and walked round looking at places. We ate in Piccolinos on the bridge as Pete wanted a pizza after all the walking. 

On the actual day, we had a lovely time wandering around. Pete got a pasty- pasty hunting is a favourite pastime. We had a really lovely meal in the Olive Tree , opposite Clifford's tower. 
Unfortunately, I used hand soap on my face after the night out and had a very sore face the next day. 

Cavendish Arms Embsay near Skipton

We had a nice drive to Knaresborough where we have never stayed. We parked down by the river in one of the few places we would fit the van and walked up into town. We had a good look around though it was cold. 

We drove to  Embsay and had a lovely welcome from the landlord of the pub. We parked in the bottom of the car park .  We walked around the village and to the station at Embsay where there is a restored railway to Bolton Abbey. 

We had a good meal here, free overnight stay and a nice chat with locals. It was a quiet cold night.

Liverpool Marina

It was a long slow drive on the route we'd taken over to Liverpool. We met Karen and Phil there at the Yacht Marina where the fiddly ticket machine confused us for a while. We had a walk along to Albert Dock along the river. It's a good place to park overnight as you are very central and it cost £15.  I called in to a chemist for some antihistamine and cream for my sore face then we went into some pubs. The town centre was very vibrant with lots of people out on the town.

Southport Pleasureland via Crosby beach 

We drove to Crosby beach to see the Gormley statues 'Another Place'. We parked in the country park and walked along the beach where the tide was out and it was easy walking. The statues are amazing and there were many people out walking in the sun and wind. 

We had something to eat then drove up to Southport. We parked in Pleasureland for £8 overnight. There are only facilities to empty the toilet and fill with water but it was fine. The lady who looks after it, Barbara , was really nice. 
We walked along the front into town and met friends Richard and Jayne who were staying there for a few days too. We had a nice meal out together and it didn't seem far to walk back. We will come here again as we didn't really look around. My face was still sore and I had made it worse by being out in the sun and wind. 

 Jayne and Richard came round with some beautiful buns she had made for our anniversary so we had coffee with them before heading home.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Edinburgh Christmas Market

Edinburgh  Christmas Market .....via pubs 
December 2017

Lamb Inn Rainton North Yorkshire

This is a super little pub with five marked motorhome bays with a field next to it, five minutes off the A1 so very convenient for a stop. Friends Phil and Karen joined us and we had good, well priced food, a nice welcome and good beer. Pete's fish was a 'whale'! It was a very quiet, very cold night. 

The Trap pub, Broomhill, Northumberland,

The next bright sunny morning, we headed off and decided to stop for lunch at St. Mary's Lighthouse near Whitley Bay- the scene of many a childhood trip. The tide was in and the view was gorgeous.

But it was a bit slippery!
We drove up to the Trap pub in Broomhill- easy to find. It doesn't have a huge carpark but there was enough space. We had a really nice welcome from the landlady, played pool for free and had a super meal. This pub seems to do lots for the local community and it's another place we would happily go back to. 

Mortonhall Caravan Site, Edinburgh

We had called here for one night on the way back from our Scottish trip and liked it and it was just as nice as I remembered.  We came up the A1 coastal route and called in at Morrison's at Berwick to fuel up and get some bits. We to and fro-ed on some pitches as several are sloping but it is a good camp site with super showers and an onsite pub and restaurant in the stable block. We got the number 11 bus from the top of the drive and 30mins later and £1.60 each lighter, we got to the city centre. We sampled the sausages, drank the mulled wine and watched the lights and the people and soaked up the atmosphere.  We got a bit wet.

Over the next two days, we went round the centre several times looking in shops, checking out pubs, and generally appreciating all that Edinburgh has to offer. It's a brilliant place to visit, especially at this time of year. The views from upstairs on the bus were good too!
We also enjoyed a lovely meal in the Stable bar with good service.

The Cottage Inn, Craster , Northumberland.

In search of a really nice kipper, we drove down the coast, past Bamburgh castle to Craster.....well not quite in Craster but not far to walk. 
We found the pub and parked amongst the trees at the back. It is very private and hidden.  Pete and me walked down to Craster and -joy of joys- the smoke house was open so we bought 2 crabs and some kippers. Pete was delighted- his love of all things fishy is well known. Then we had to check out the crab sandwiches in the Jolly Fisherman which has changed since our last visit. The eating area is quite beautiful, looking out over the sea. 

Pete had his fantastic crab sandwiches with super beer and very friendly service while I had a bowl of curried butternut squash soup and the nicest bread ever.....I asked and it was made by a local company called Bread and Roses who sell at local markets. It was amazing. We went back to the van then later into the pub for really nice food. We were well looked after and chatted to people from the local Onion club - they grow onions and compete against each other for onion size. I'd heard of Leek clubs but never onion clubs.
 We had a quiet night and the next day drove back via Newcastle, picking my mum up for a trip to our house. She likes sitting in the front of the van as she can see more!

Calver, Castleton and Hawes, favourite spots revisited

Calver, Castleton and Hawes....favourite spots revisited. November 2017


We set off for the Derwentwater Arms at Calver and because I needed to go to Newcastle during the time we were away, I took the car as well. Mistake number one was not to follow  my own route and listen to the blooming sat nav which took us on a dance around Chesterfield and down some little lanes. I stopped at one point and went to talk to Pete ...not easy to find a safe place to do that..... I think I was a bit frustrated.....'I am not going down that lane, I am heading back to the 'mainest' road!'  We held our collective breath and after three miles got on to the road I should have been on.

We found the Derwentwater Arms, parked up on the level bit at the bottom of the large car park and went for a drink. That was probably mistake number two......we should have checked everything while it was light and we were without alcohol.
We were made very welcome in the pub, so we booked a table for later and went for a walk. It wasn't much of a walk as Pete had spotted the Eyre Arms. We had a nice couple of drinks there and chatted to a local family. We went back much later to the van and tried to put the heating heating, no fridge-not that it mattered as it was freezing! Faffed about and then thought, maybe, as the van had been at the dealers for some little checks, we could  have left the fridge on and as we had left it for a couple of weeks there, it had used all the gas. We huddled up then went into the pub for a very nice wood fired pizza and other stuff in the pub.  We talked to the really nice staff and they wondered why people in motorhomes only stayed overnight and that we were welcome to stay longer. I will remember that! We put blankets on the bed and went to bed early after messaging several helpful facebook motorhome groups to find the nearest suppliers of LPG to fill the tank. We thought we would get up early and go to Morrisons off Sheffield Parkway to fill up.

Mistake number three.  We didn't wake up till 10am! That's what absolute darkness and nice drinks do! After ringing around several places, we realised we would have to go back to Sheffield but when we tried to put gas in, it went in very slowly and the guy filling up next to us had filled his car and our pump just didn't seem to work. We gave up and went to Hillsborough, where a really nice young guy came out to help as it was doing the same thing. He assured us that the LPG pumps were tricky things but we gave up again knowing that we would be on hook up at Castleton.  We got to Castleton, parked up and sat with a coffee pondering......
We had to go to the Nag's Head for  a drink.....after I had tripped the electric in the dark..or so I thought but the guy from the next van said that someone had hit that bollard the day before and it wasn't working properly. Power restored.

How could we possibly sleep another 12 hours? Easily, was the answer. I worked out that the only thing that could possibly be wrong with the gas is that it was over full and a call to the fitter confirmed it! Pete went out and pushed buttons and all was well. So we learnt from our mistake.We also learned that the electric trips off in the van, not at the post, as this Adria has a 10 amp trip. 
Another learning experience. I found I hadn't packed my walking poles either but I found a nice branch which helped me walk over the river and along to Hope where we went in  the Old Hall as is our custom. Our friends Andy and Carol arrived  in their new van which is lovely. 
Of course that meant we had to have a walk into Castleton and visit a couple of pubs.......before settling in the Castle for a lovely meal. 


As I had the car and Andy and Carol don't know the Peak district, we went out to Bakewell where a walk round made us hungry so we had to do a tea room stop.
From there we went to the plague village of Eyam which is always worth a look around.

Next day we drove past Ladybower reservoir to the beautiful Derwentwater reservoir. We had never driven around before - or seen so many timber lorries. It was lovely walking and taking in the fantastic scenery. We called back into Hope for amazing steak pies and sandwiches. I then left to go to Newcastle.

Pete moved the van up to Hawes and I joined them all in the evening. we went to the White Hart for a meal. Honestly- we do more than just eat and drink......

We had an adventurous day going first to Leyburn and the market there. We went through Richmond and spent the afternoon at Barnard Castle- a place I have only ever driven through. It's lovely!
We had an interesting drive back via Tan Hill for a drink then along the narrow ridge road in the dark back to Hawes. I want to do that again in daylight as it must be amazing, but not in the van!  

Rain and wind in the night rocked the van a bit. We did a round walk to Gayle and Burtersett then rewarded ourselves with fish and chips from the chippy. 

The next day was sunny and frosty which made walking along the river really pleasant though we had to go in three pubs and the cheese factory on the way back!
A lovely little trip to  favourite places.