Sunday, 1 July 2012

Travels in May

This month, we went to Keswick, Pilning near Bristol, Tiverton in Devon,  Broad Park near Modbury in Devon, Oxford and Hayfield in the Peak District.

May: The System Shutdown button problem

We went to get the van to take it to Northern Commercials in Brighouse as there was a sort of creaking noise coming from the back which I wasn’t comfortable with…….but the van was ‘dead’! We used a key to get in but both batteries were flat. The helpful RAC guy tried to charge it up but it wasn’t charging under the bonnet so he took the floor up in the cab and found that a lead connecting to the battery was very loose ( and could have popped off at any time) . He charged the battery directly and got it going. We rang Brownhills Durham and spoke to our allocated after sales contact about what had caused the problem . She asked us who the handover salesman was. We wanted to know why and she said that whoever it was obviously hadn’t told us about the ‘System shutdown’ button which needs to be pressed if we are leaving the van for a while and said that it had been a problem with a few vans which had drained down . Well, we know now!

Northern Commercials are great and very efficient  so they checked it out while we went for breakfast in Brighouse. They couldn’t find anything so we rang Brownhills again and the engineer thought it might be springs ‘ settling in’. It’s a good job we’d taken it in as there were two Fiat recalls for system management . We were reassured that all was okay and took it home for washing and packing.

Keswick site
May   KeswickCamping and caravan club site 
Day 1 We drove up to meet Tom and Lucille, and Katie and Stewart who were already on the site as part of the Coast to Coast walk that Tom and Lucille were doing with Katie and Stewart as drivers to collect them from various points and return them to their caravan. Lucille  cooked a chilli after we’d had a walk round Keswick, a pint in the Dog and Gun and a good deal in Booth’s supermarket on a case of beer.

Day 2  Tom and Lucille set off for the Patterdale to Shap section next day while Katie , Stew, Pete and me cycled to Threlkeld – a first run for the new Powacycles. I’d sold my Giant Lafree and Giant Suede bikes as I didn’t really get on with either and I bought yet another Powacycle Windsor. Pete decided he’d have one too to extend our cycling range while in Greece. He really enjoys riding it- with or without the power on. We stopped for coffee at the Horse and Farrier and had a lovely cycle back. When we got back Pete fitted the bikes with trip computers and lights. Stew  and Pete barbecued in light rain but we ate inside!
singing in the rain...well...after the rain.....
Day 3 It rained really heavily in the night so we had a lazy morning . It was very wet all day. We needed to go out  for some fresh air so we had a walk to the lake via the boat yard- and got wet. Lucille made a shepherd’s pie and I did loads of veg -  a winter’s supper as it felt like winter.

view from the van window

leaping lambs
Day 5  Tom and Lucille, and Katie and Stew got packed up and set off for the next stage of the walk. We moved to a lakeside pitch- fantastic views then rode the bikes through Portinscale , Braithwaite and Thornthwaite along the Coast to Coast cycle route to Bassenthwaite. We had gone to look for the Osprey Centre         ( without the map) and the ‘Road Closed’ sign  wasn’t a help so we gave up and went into a pub. We called in at the supermarket on the way back and had to talk to people admiring the bikes- they do attract attention and people are very interested . Jen borrowed my bike for a trip round the campsite to see if she liked it   while we had a walk over to Friar’s Crag. We saw lively black lambs jumping about. Jen cooked fajitas and we had one of her special brownies and ice cream for desert- mmm.

Day 6  It was a bit grey again but the view is stunning from the van window. Looking out and drinking my coffee I saw a huge bird… osprey! Out came the binoculars and we were amazed to see this magnificent bird fishing in the lake. They drop down so fast…..We went to the Golden Lion to watch the last game of the football season and although United beat Sunderland 1-0 , Manchester City scored a late goal to give them the Championship…..L …well, there’s always next year. I cooked the evening meal to share with John and Jen and we had a lovely evening though the wind howled and the van was rocking.

Day 7  It was a terribly stormy night though there was sunshine this morning. Pete and me cycled round the lake and it was such a beautiful ride. We wouldn’t have done it on unpowered bikes- neither of us is fit enough to get up those hills. We saw a dog running after sheep on the hillside and it’s owner didn’t seem bothered till some walkers shouted at him. I bought some elastic for 20p from a little shop and Pete’s mid length trousers got a new lease of life.  We went out for a meal but the George was busy again so we tried the New Inn. We learned that the Greeks still hadn’t formed a government 8 days after the elections…..what a bad time for the Greek people. 
round the lake bike ride

Day 8 
I watched two ospreys again. The white of their undersides shone against the grey skies and dark mountains. We went to see if we could get a gilet for Pete but they hadn’t one his size so we bought some lovely cheese rolls and set off home. Pete wrote a letter to the Camping and Caravan club about the state of the approach road ( potholes) the toilets and the showers ( outdated and mouldy) and the filling and emptying point…..he didn’t go into the strangeness of the booking system which never ceases to confuse me…a rule for one person but not another……
Home, van cleaned but not emptied for the next trip South later on in the week.....

May: The Plough at Pilning near Bristol 

Pete spent the morning discussing our insurance claim with the loss adjustor following our cellar flood. I checked the internet for pub stopover sites and found this one just off Junction 17 of the M5 (Cribb’s Causeway) where we usually stop off en route to Devon for fuel and shopping. There’s an Asda and a Morrison’s that we use but there are lots of other shops. The Plough was easy to find (signs for Severn Beach and Easter Compton) and we parked up and walked into the pub where we got a very friendly welcome from Dave the landlord. Pete had a pint of Wadworth 6X and I had cider- one of several ciders on the bar.  We looked at the very reasonable menu while having our drinks then went back to the van for a while. We returned to eat chicken curry and lamb and mint pie then moved into the lounge to listen to the open mic night. There were lots of very talented musicians and singers who made it a very entertaining night. If you’d like to stay there, it might be good to contact Dave first as it can get busy. ( or Tel. 01454 632556) There’s a level car park and a field which he sometimes uses and it’s a very convenient north/south M5 stopover point.

May: Minnows Camping and caravan club site, near Tiverton

After a quiet night, we went to junction 17 shops to get some things for the family. We drove to Minnows at Sampford Peverell, which is easy to find just off the M5. We had a lovely welcome from the staff with much interest in the electric bikes. We filled up at the sensibly placed motorhome point before going to pitch 26, which had been allocated. I had a walk around the site, which is very pretty and backs onto the Great Western Canal. The pitches nearest the road do have constant road noise however. We had a cycle ride into Sampford Peverell , a few minutes along the canal towards Tiverton, then turned back and cycled the other way. We turned off the canal and cycled up the hill into Burlescombe where there were good views over the countryside. We quickly freewheeled back to the canal and continued past limekilns. The canal is a haven for wildlife and so many wildflowers- the purples, pinks and whites were so pretty. We saw a pair of swans with eight cygnets, moorhens and chicks and ducks and ducklings and were fascinated watching them. There was also a lot of interest in the electric bikes from canal users…I should be a salesperson for them. We had shepherd’s pie then went for a walk into Sampford to check out the pubs. The exterior of the ‘Merriemeade’ was a bit off-putting but we went in for a drink. It was full of diners and  had a bit of an air of faded glory. We then went to the ‘Globe’, which was also popular, but the sticky tables put me off. We decided to eat in the van the next night instead of going to either pub. 

Lime Kilns on the Great Western Canal

May: Minnows

We went off to cycle along the canal to Tiverton but were delayed by the neighbours wanting to talk about the bikes and the need to change clothes as the sun had come out and it was hot. We met Pete’s niece Hannah at the Tiverton end of the canal and she brought Elsie and Sam too. We went to their house and had coffee then lunch.

I played with Rosie – probably the nicest little dog in the world- and met Ivan, the huge ginger cat. Hannah showed us round Tiverton and after a lovely afternoon with the family, we cycled back to the site. I’d done 18 miles without putting the power on except for the hill up to the canal from their house so I was quite proud of myself. I’m sure I have to thank Donna Barker for her weekly Zumba sessions, which I’m sure have helped my fitness. We had a big salad, a long shower and a big sleep after talking to Joe and Jemma who’d been to a wedding which meant Joe had bought his first tie…….


May: Broad Park Caravan Club site, Modbury South Devon

Parking is always tricky in Modbury as it’s a steep street, which is narrow. We parked at the top of the hill next to the school and went for tea with Pete’s mum. After a chat, we went to the Broad Park site where we’ve been before. It’s the nearest to Modbury but is a steep couple of miles out of Modbury along a narrow road. We parked up after talking to the new wardens then cycled into Modbury where we spent the afternoon working in Pete’s mum’s house and garden. We tried to find a Modbury pub serving food as Pete’s mum’s car was ‘dead’ but there was nowhere serving food. Pete’s mum had her meal then we cycled back to the site. It’s a beautiful, quiet spot.

May: Broad Park 

We cycled back to Modbury where I went to the shops for a pasty for Pete ( a ‘must-do’) and shopping for Bunny .We did lots of work again in the garden and I cleaned the outside at the front which is important to her. I spoke to a kind neighbour and we exchanged phone numbers. I went back down to get some fish pie for Bunny’s evening meal and we went back to the site.It's seemed a much shorter cycle than last year when we cycled up the hill in the dark after a drink!

view from Norman and Bev's.

May: Ideford , South Devon 

We got in touch with two friends who had recently moved and we eventually found Norman and Bev down a long lane through woodland in an idyllic spot with fantastic views from the house and the lovely balcony. We had coffee on the balcony and caught up with all their news and plans. It was so good to see them well and happy with lots of plans for the future. We had a wander round the huge gardens and a walk on Ideford Common, which is an amazing place with sea views. We met their landlord and he showed us his motorbikes-one, a 1978 Honda which is immaculate. We went out to ‘Trade Winds’ restaurant in Teignmouth for dinner and met the Cypriot owner. The restaurant has a varied menu and it was all lovely but the creamed cabbage was exceptionally nice – it must be- I ate it and I’m not fond of cabbage. We had a chat and a drink with the  friendly owner who sat down with us (and told us how to make the cabbage) . It was so still and quiet out in the garden through the night. 

May: Swindon

We heard a cuckoo and saw a woodpecker before having coffee on the balcony again. Pete helped Norman fix the gas fridge on their caravan before we set off again. We’d had a short stay with Norm and Bev but it was lovely to see them. After stopping at Bristol again we went to see Ian and Karen at their new house in Blunsden. We parked the van on their drive and sat in the sunshine in the garden catching up on all their news. We went to the Heart in Hand in Blunsden village for an evening meal accompanied by an Olympic  torch- Ian had been an Olympic Torch bearer in Frome the day before and people were eager to have their photos taken with it and hear about his experience. 

Pete, Ian and Karen

May: Oxford camping and Caravan Club site.
We had breakfast with Ian and Duncan- their Australian visitor, before setting off for Oxford. Learning to use the new built in sat nav got us in a little trouble though we turned round before reaching Oxford centre and headed back to the ring road where we know the site is. We got settled on pitch 35 and a chat with the wardens ensured an adjacent pitch for Andy and Carol who were joining us the next day. We could hear the sounds of cannon and a regatta on the river. We had a lazy afternoon pottering around in the sunshine. We put the awning out and it felt like being in Greece as it was so hot and sunny. We had a barbecue and a bottle of Isla Negra Merlot and played backgammon- the first game of the year .

May Oxford
There was a problem with the site electricity in the night and the fridge switched over to gas. However the gas bottle ran out at 8am -soon sorted . We talked to neighbours Diane and Clive in their Starfire about bikes and what was happening on the river- they advised us not to cycle along the towpath as it’s very busy due to the Regatta. We put the sun canopy out to make some shade! We sat in the shade and played backgammon till 4.30pm when Andy and Carol arrived in their lovely Hymer. Who’d have thought when we were sitting in Finikounda last year that they’d take the plunge and get a motorhome? They’ve done very well with their decision for a first van as it’s a super 6 metre van with some great features. I’m particularly envious of the big drawers with recycling bins in! There was a bit of a hiccup getting the water pump working but luckily a couple of fellow Hymer owners came to the rescue suggesting a fuse had gone- and supplying one- and then all was well.  I did Greek food in honour of the Finikounda trip and though we had to move indoors later as the evening got chilly, we’d had a lovely evening catching up. We did hear a helicopter hovering nearby and lots of sirens shattering the peace for quite a while and wondered what was going on.
May :Oxford
Andy lost his electric connection- a faulty post.  Andy and Carol did breakfast out in the sun. We walked along the very busy river bank into Oxford stopping first on the bridge to watch the start of a race. It was a new experience for me and a whole new vocabulary…

The flags on all the boathouses were at half mast and we heard that a young man had been drowned after jumping or falling off the bridge yesterday evening.  We passed by the cricket ground and talked cricket with an American couple. Andy called Oxford ‘theme park England’ what with rowing, punting, cricket, picnics by the river, bells….all we needed was a few Morris men to complete the picture. The town was hot and busy so we retreated to the cool depths of a pub for refreshing cider and beer. We had a little wander round the lovely indoor market where I bought some flowers then we got some shopping and walked back. We sat on the riverside watching another race and listening to a commentary from a very plum voiced young steward telling some people what was going on. Later Andy barbecued and we had yet another lovely evening.  

May: Oxford
We cooked bacon and eggs outside – I could get used to this. Carol and Andy went into the Go Outdoors shop adjacent to the site and got some chairs and a new table- it’s a very convenient camping shop though they didn’t have any of the matting I wanted but I treated myself to a new sweeping brush- the last of the big spenders! As Carol and Andy now both have Powacycle Windsor electric bikes, we had the inaugural ride of the ‘Electric Bike Formation team’- another of Andy’s funny little quips. We cycled carefully along to Sanford Lock as it was still quite busy along the bank until we went away from the bank where it was much quieter. We talked to the Lock keeper at  Sandford lock about- guess what?- electric bikes. He called his wife to come out and she had a trial ride on mine. I think I’m quietly starting an eco revolution- she wants one to go to work on. ….so that’s one less car on the road. We sat outside the King’s Arms having a drink then cycled back to Iffley where we had drinks at the Prince of Wales…a Royal pub day. I spent some time on Andy’s Kindle as I had read that the 3G version with keyboard allows you to use wifi free at home and abroad which would be very useful. Andy barbecued and we spent the evening in their super van before heading home the next day. It has been a lovely time with them and I hope we have many more good times together in the motor homes. 

We briefly went home to restock and do some washing before heading west to Hayfield- a wonderful site and one of our favourites...... 

Sett Valley Trail looking up at Lantern Pike
May: Hayfield Camping and Caravan Site.
After a few days at home washing and sorting the garden, ordering and taking delivery of a Kindle ( used),we set off for Hayfield and the Queen’s Jubilee Avoidance weekend. It was pouring with rain and we turned up the first turn to the campsite in Hayfield instead of the easier second one (marked ‘coaches’) only to find someone had parked so badly that it was impossible to get past so Pete had to reverse quite a way with me walking behind to watch for traffic approaching. Stewart and Katie had arrived just before us and were filling up so Katie helped us fill up so I didn’t get wet- but she did! The hose sort of flipped and soaked her! We got adjacent pitches furthest away from the road. The facilities here have all been renewed and there is a new reception area and the toilets and showers are sparkling and heated. There are three camping ‘pods’- sort of wooden tents that look like half a boat upturned. They are carpeted but you have to take everything you would for camping except the tent. They aren’t near a water supply either and at £35 a night, I’m not sure about how wonderful they are. Katie gave us some home made kipper pate which was scrummy for lunch. We walked down the lane along the river into Hayfield and had a look around the memorial gardens and Calico trail before going in The George for coffee and drinks. We walked back- and all without getting wet. The contrast in the weather with last weekend is incredible. Stew cooked a meal and I helped Katie to use her Kindle for internet. Mine had arrived the day before and while I much prefer my Sony reader for reading, having free wi fi access worldwide is why I bought it. It is a bit fiddly to navigate but I’m sure I’ll get used to it fairly quickly. Pete and me went up the valley towards Kinder reservoir for a late evening walk and watched rabbits and a heron for a while. The hillsides are covered in purple rhodendrons . 

head to head with a heron

May: Hayfield
Kinder reservoir
I had a super shower then a bacon sandwich before we took a picnic on our bikes down the Sett Valley trail- an old railway line- to New Mills. We had a drink outside the ‘Pineapple’ sitting in the weak sun. We cycled back to the reservoir and sat on a bench for our picnic. We were looking up at Lantern Pike and watching fish jump in the water. After cycling back we had a cup of tea in the sunshine and as it was still pleasant, Pete and me cycled up to the reservoir but we hadn’t brought any means of securing the bikes, so we cycled back to the site then walked back up and climbed the steep bridlepath next to the reservoir. It was fabulous up there- so beautiful and serene. We talked to a local guy walking his dog and he told us lots about the area. We were hungry when we got back down so Pete cooked  gammon steaks and I did vegetables and mushroom sauce with garlic and stilton.  We had stewed rhubarb from our garden with ice cream to finish.  
struggling ducklings
May: Hayfield  

 The weather wasn’t as bright as yesterday so we took the awning in though we left the new camp kitchen up. It’s gong to be a useful piece of equipment for staying long term on sites in Greece. We went into Hayfield and followed the Hayfield Walk along the Sett Valley Trail up to Lantern Pike. We stayed by a river for ages watching some tiny ducklings trying to follow their mother up a weir. We didn’t think they were physically capable of making such a huge climb and we worried a bit till the mother duck came back for them. We had some sandwiches near the top but I struggled a bit in the gusty wind on the ridge at the top. There were some very steep sections going up and coming down but it was an interesting walk with lovely views over towards Kinder Scout.                       The leaflet said the walk was 4.5 miles but adding on coming and going from the site it was about 7 miles. 

We called in at the Royal hotel for a drink (I remembered having good coffee there) and we watched a wedding party arrive for their wedding meal in the room next door.  It made for interesting people watching as there were some ‘interesting’ outfits ! We called at the well stocked village shop for milk then the last bit of the walk felt like a long way…..but the cup of tea and sit down in the van was wonderful .  We had sticky ribs and a super herb salad from Katie and Stew’s garden. We had an early night as the wind howled round the van and the rain came down in torrents.

Pete declares it to be 'Republican Day' on top of  Lantern Pike

looking towards Hayfield and Kinder Scout from Lantern Pike

May: Hayfield
The rain didn’t let up so we stayed indoors. I caught up on my blog whilst watching the Queen’s jubilee pageant on the Thames on tv. Katie and Stew royally decorated their van but me and Pete did the ‘I’m a republican- get me out of here’ bit but it certainly was an historic occasion. I put the tv on briefly and was disappointed to see the Queen wasn't wearing her Queenie outfit with crown and long frock.....she looked nice but really a bit like anyone's grannie. It was probably more interesting watching yet another mother duck shepherd her ducklings down the hillside and onto the campsite but that’s not historic. Stew and Katie came round for tea- not Coronation chicken! Katie made a lovely desert with rhubarb and ginger biscuits.

May: Hayfield
After more rain in the night, the sun came out and we watched the very patient and smiling campsite staff organise a ‘Most people ever wearing crowns at one time’ Guinness Book of records attempt. They did a raffle and a barbecue with funds going to Kinder Mountain rescue- a worthy cause. We went for a walk all together up to the reservoir, and round it to the right. We had lunch sitting by a dry stone wall which protected us from the wind. It was super! We could see cyclists and walkers up on Kinder Scout and all around. We watched merlins skim the grass and enjoyed the scenery. The weather was a bit changeable so when we got back we put the bikes on the rack ready for going home tomorrow.  We went for a meal at the Sportsman Inn- just across the river and up to the road into the campsite. Pete was very happy with the Thwaites Wainwright beer and we enjoyed the food. Katie had a lentil and sweet pepper lasagne which I’ll try to make at home as it was so good.  We had a very pleasant evening in comfy surroundings with a welcoming landlord- great.
the lovely river walk leading  down into Hayfield
A last drink in Katie and Stew’s van ended a good few days away in a super place.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Maggie.

    This is Peggy. I am in the pub with Ron and the Kids looking at your blog. You are looking good gal. Nice to meet Pete at last. Cheers xx