With the van packed ready for a long trip, we drove down to Swindon to stay on a friend’s drive before heading for Marlborough and the Savernake Forest tomorrow. Packing for this trip was not as easy as packing for Greece as we were staying at sites in England first and it’s been cold…..so in went walking boots, waterproofs and hats plus shorts and swim suit, jumpers and strappy tops, flip flops and warm boots…..what a combination. It was good to see friends Ian and Karen and we went for a meal at a local restaurant.
Sunday 15th April Savernake Camping in the Forest site near Marlborough.
We drove to a very muddy Camping in the Forest site about 15 miles away from our friend’s house. Usually you can park anywhere but today we were ushered on to a spot where the warden lent us lots of wooden planks to make a deck outside the door because it was so muddy. When Andy and Carol arrived, they were put on the only hard standing spot on the site. The warden wasn’t worried about where he had put us as he said he could tow us off the grass if we got stuck. We had a walk around the forest nearest the site and then Ian came to pick us up to take us to Marlborough where the six of us had an Italian meal.
Monday 16th April Savernake
There are no showers on this site but the toilets are as clean as could be in this muddy weather. Today was warm and sunny and we went for a really good bike ride around the forest, stopping on a handy log for a picnic lunch listening to the mewing of buzzards. We got to see them really close up as they manoeuvred through the trees- I’ve never realised that they flew through trees like that. Pete and Andy had to climb up to a viewing platform …as boys will do…as Carol and I watched them from below. Carol cooked a lamb tagine in the slow cooker for our evening meal and it was delicious.
Tuesday 16th April Savernake
After breakfast we walked down the fairly steep track through the trees and into Marlborough. We had lunch outside the Wellington Inn in the beer garden in beautiful sunshine surrounded by flowers. Carol and I hit the shops and there are great charity shops! I saw a Prada top ..a bargain at £59 but not for me, ( wrong size) though I did get a top and a dress in another shop while the guys checked out the Royal Oak and the Lamb Inn. I cooked pork fillet in mushroom sauce and we planned our Greek summer trip as we are all going together. Pete and Andy tried out the walkie talkies – an essential boy’s toy for the holiday though last time we used them, they were very useful.
Wednesday 17th April Black Knowl Caravan Club site New Forest.
We drove through Andover. Romsey etc into Brockenhurst where we saw loose donkeys in the street…and the sat nav locked up. This is a super site and so nice after the mud of Savernake Forest. Carol did some work while Andy, me and Pete cycled into Brockenhurst. We called for Carol on the way back and cycled to a bridge where one of the ‘boys’ tried to cross the river on a fallen tree – he succeeded but there were anxious moments! I made a salad and smoked haddock chowder then I had a lovely long shower in the dated but very nice wet rooms where you can put your towel on a radiator and have room to get dried on dry floor, not a little cubicle.
Thursday 18th April Black Knowl
We cycled into Brockenhurst for coffee and internet at the Watersplash café. We saw the most enormous chocolate éclairs in a bakery window so Andy needed one….he cycled back with the cakes while we waited at a bridge for him. We watched new Forest ponies grazing then cycled to Bank and the Oak pub for crab sandwiches for lunch- very nice! We saw a field with deer in and had a ride through the forest, getting wet three times but we had all the right clothes in our bike bags so we didn’t get soaked. We did about 18 miles then had good hot showers before Carol did chicken then we ( some of us!) had the cakes we bought earlier. We looked at Andy and Carol’s photos of their USA trip which looked wonderful and reminded us of our trips to California.
Friday 19th April Black Knowl
Andy dry cleaned his van and we cleaned the bikes and sat in the sunshine. We walked into Brockenhurst following a route that the wardens gave us and sat having a ‘slushie’- frozen cider- fantastic- in the sunshine outside the pub. We then went to another pub and had a good evening meal before walking back. It perhaps wasn’t a great idea to take a shortcut as it proved a boggy route! I had to put my walking boots under a tap to rinse them clean.
Saturday 20th April Black Knowl
It was a beautiful sunny morning so we cycled to Bank then turned right and cycled to Lyndhurst. We left the bikes in the car park and walked into the village where we sat in the garden of the Mailman’s Arms in the sun. We got pasties, chips and sandwiches before the cycle back. As it was so nice, the guys did a barbecue though we ate inside as the temperature dropped.
Sunday 21st April Broad Park Caravan site Modbury Devon
We set off for Devon at 10am. We stopped for shopping at Ferndown Lidl and got diesel at Sainsburys on the next roundabout. We parked on pitch 92 near the toilet block. We wrapped up warmly and cycled to Pete’s mum’s house in Modbury. It was cold and wet. We spent time with Pete’s mum who is getting frail. We had a very wet cycle back but a hot meal of prawns and noodles cheered us up a little.
Monday 22nd April Broad Park Modbury.
I woke up very early with a blackbird singing loudly outside the van. Pete cycled in the wet to see his mum. I waited till later to cycle down the hill but every time I put my coat on ready to go, it rained heavily. Pete took his mum out for lunch and I went down later when it wasn’t raining so hard. We listened in the evening to the Manchester United v Aston Villa game and were delighted that United became league champions again for the 20th time.
Tuesday 23rd April Slapton Caravanning and Camping Club site Devon
A sunny morning. We stopped in Kingsbridge for shopping and got bargain sea bream fish for £2 each. The narrow road to Slapton is tricky to drive along and we were glad to meet the double decker bus in Torcross where we could get past it easily. The caravan site is small but beautiful and we had a super pitch at the edge with a seaview. The warden agreed a pitch nearby for Andy and Carol so when they arrived we had pasties and we sat in the sun. Later, we had a cream tea ( scones, jam and clotted cream on top). We went for a walk around the lovely village of Slapton where there is a wonderful large magnolia tree in full flower. We sat in two pub gardens- the first one at the Queen’s was warm in the sun and we had a nice pint, then we went in the other one, the Tower, where the wonderful back garden had big fat chuckling hens in a pen and gorgeous flowers. We watched the rooks going in and out of the tall tower. I learnt that the collective noun for a group of rooks is a ‘clattering’! What a great way to describe them. When we got back to the site, Pete cooked the bream outside while I did salad inside.
|view from the van over Slapton|
|Tower Inn. Slapton|
Wednesday 24th April Slapton C and CC site
We slept with the front blinds open so we could wake up and see the sea. We walked down to Slapton Bridge and caight the 11.35 am bus into Dartmouth. We went upstairs on the bus and it was really like a fairground ride as the lanes are so narrow and the bends are so tight, it felt like we might hit something or fall over. We had great views of the coastline. It was £6.20 each for a day return. We had coffee overlooking the estuary then walked round the town. We went into a pub but they didn’t do pasties so as Andy and Pete needed a pasty ‘fix’ they bought some in a shop while I got sharing chips and we sat on a bench watched by a mother and baby seagull. The baby looked mournful and wailed at us to feed it but I only share my chips with humans.( That’s because many years ago, on holiday in Cornwall, I bought a wonderful ice cream with clotted cream on top. I walked out of the shop holding aloft my lovely ice cream when a seagull flew over and went to the toilet on my ice cream! I was not happy) We went for another walk and into another pub before getting the bus back again. It seemed even more like a roller coaster upstairs going back. Carol had made beef stew and dumplings in the slow cooker so we had a nice meal to go back to.
Thursday 25th April Slapton C and CC site
It was sunny again with a cool wind. We walked down through fields to Slapton Ley- a fresh water lake near the sea. We saw swans, wrens and nesting coots and a slow worm which Andy picked up- it was very wriggly! Then he put it back in the place where it was sunning itself. We walked along to Torcross where the Americans lost over 600 soldiers when U boats got in among their boats as they were practicing for the D Day landings in the Second World War. The sun stayed out but so did the midges- lots of them were hovering around so we went inside the thatch roofed pub instead of sitting outside and getting bitten. We watched the preparations for a memorial service for the Americans as it was almost the 70th anniversary. We drank cider then walked back and went to the Tower for an evening meal of scallops, squid, Catalan fish stew and fillet steak for Andy. We got back before the wind and rain started.
Friday 26th April Salisbury C and CC site.
We said goodbye to Andy and Carol and headed towards Dover for the ferry the France. We couldn’t decide where to stay but we decided on Salisbury. We stayed on a pitch at the top of the sloping site . We had a mobile chip van parked in front of us for two hours and I didn’t go to get any! That’s restraint. We walked into Salisbury and found a windproof gilet for Pete in a sale. I bought a notebook for our Austria trip.