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Sunday, 1 March 2015

February 2015  Midland Meanderings ( ...sort of...)

 Brownhills Newark
After a month without a van trip, we set off for Brownhills  at Newark. There was a flaw in the glass panel behind the cooker- noted by them before we collected it so we went for a replacement glass. For the first time, I was taken into the workshop where I talked to the two technicians working on the van.  I felt a bit of a twit when I was talking about the van locking and why it didn't open on one 'bleep'...the answer was so straightforward, I was so embarrassed.....'two bleeps' opens both sets of doors. Well neither Pete or me get prizes for listening carefully when we collected it...but neither does the alarm book get a prize for simplicity of explanation. We had a lift from a member of Brownhills staff into Newark and he also gave us some pub recommendations. Pete had a knee operation at the beginning of Feb so wasn't walking too well but we managed a hop round and a sit down in the  Sir John Averne then a sit down in the pub on the boat on the river. We were collected by the same nice guy after we rang Brownhills and when we got back, the work was all done. Excellent service! 



We stayed overnight and the next day, friends John and Jen came over from Nottingham for coffee then they took us out to the Saracen's head in Southall  for lunch and a catch up. We had a lovely time, It was a pity that the showers and swimming pool weren't available but as they are being refurbished and the stay was free- with hook-up, I have no complaints...in fact, only praise for the service we've had, so different to the distant past when Brownhills were a nightmare to deal with. 


Rutland Caravan Park. Rutland

Pete was still not able to drive but I made the mistake of thinking that going down to A1 to Rutland would be boring so I would drive through Melton Mowbray  to the site. It's a long time since I drove the road from Radcliffe into Melton and I'd forgotten how uphill, downhill ,twisting and turning it is. Pete was very good, not hanging on for dear life and he was very patient as we sat in a traffic jam in Melton. We stopped outside Oakham for some shopping and a cup of coffee before we got to the site. The people there were very welcoming. We had booked on the phone and they said there wasn't a hard standing pitch for three nights so we could have a grass pitch for one night  but they put us on a warden's pitch so we didn't have to move. They did joke that we would have to be on cleaning duty.....
We walked slowly into the village ( it's not far) and into the Plough pub where the landlady was very chatty. We had a drink then moved onto the Black  Horse where we were also made welcome but it didn't have any atmosphere. We had good hot showers back at the tidy, busy  site. 


The next day was sunny so we had a little hobble around  the site and talked to some people around. We walked along little lanes and into the Wheatsheaf pub which was very busy with people having Sunday lunch. We then went back into the Plough where the landlady remembered us from yesterday.  A lovely couple and their daughter sat next to us and we had a good chat about all sorts of things. They were also staying on the campsite. One drink turned into three...and that was Sunday gone!
The Wheatsheaf

sheltering in Oakham

Rutland caravan site 

Rutland.
The next day, we walked to the bus stop by the Wheatsheaf and got the bus into Oakham via villages and lanes......a mini tour. Sadly the weather turned grim and we got very wet walking round a place that could have been delightful on a fine day. Luckily there was a Wetherspoons to shelter us and our friends Jane and Kerrigan came over from Leicester, collected us and came back to the van for tea and chat. That was lovely- we see each other more often when we are in Greece as they love Finikounda too. We had some local pork pie but it didn't agree with me  so I won't do that again.


Lickhill Manor caravan site Stourport

We drove a route via Oakham, Uppingham,Leicester, Coventry, Warwick, Redditchand Bromsgrove to Stourport. It was a good drive through lovely countryside. We stopped in a layby just outside Warwick for a coffee and couldn't quite believe it when workmen came and set up traffic lights in front of the van......it was for hedge cutting. We didn't trust the sat nav through Stourport and we were right not to...we got to the David Bellamy award winning campsite and got pitched up near one of several ponds. We got three nights for the cost of two which was good. It's a good site with herb gardens so you can pick your own herbs, good showers and loos but strangely , you have to drive over a bit of grass to get on the level gravel pitch. There are statics here but not near the touring vans and they have their own gardens and don't look out of place. We were given directions over the rally field and along the river path into town and Pete managed the level walk well. There's an old fairground there permanently and we sat in a pub watching the fairground lights and the sky changing colour- it was really stunning.  Some of the rides date back to 1904 and we walked around the fairground enjoying the lights, the sounds and the smells.We'd taken a torch for the dark walk back but it was quite easily managed.

locks at Stourport








Wednesday morning was glorious and sunny and we watched herons and ducks around the site. We walked again along the river into Stourport, this time looking in the little shops. When we got back to the van, we tried taking the awning out as we hadn't had it out but we couldn't work out how to  put the central rafter in.....there's time before we will need it....someone will know how to do it!

There was heavy rain on Thursday morning so we spent the time checking out the paperwork and instructions that we hadn't read finding out about traction control on the engine and other things that are new to us.  We had a muddy riverside walk in the opposite direction to the town but it was tricky- slippery and uneven and Pete struggled- so did I!  We found a path back up to the main road so coming back was a lot easier but we were very ready for a cup of tea when we got back.

Oxon Touring Park, Shrewsbury

Today was the 25th anniversary of moving in together, Pete's birthday and our 23rd wedding anniversary. 
I am really not sure how all those years have flown by....

We moved off the pitch using the traction control button as the grass was very wet and it worked beautifully, no skidding.  We had a scenic drive round Kidderminster, Bridgenorth,  and Much Wenlock to the signs for the Park and Ride at Oxon and the caravan park. Somehow, we were allocated a super pitch, on an adults only part of the site. There's a site shop and a big Co-operative store, Chinese take away and chip shop near to the entrance. The lady at reception was very welcoming and recommended a  place to eat this evening.
We got the bus into town from the Park and Ride - it cost £2.50 for up to five adults return on a group ticket. Shrewsbury is beautiful with lots of timbered  buildings. We walked around the castle and looked at the views from up there. We enjoyed looking around the town and got a bus back to the site easily. Later on we followed instructions to the Four Crosses pub down a very dark Shepherd's Lane. I was worried that I hadn't listened properly to the instructions as it didn't look as if there could be a pub down such a lane but we saw the lights and felt relieved. We had a drink at the bar and a chat to the landlord before having an excellent meal- there was a 'help yourself ' salad bar which was  so good for my  lettuce loving husband and because it was Friday, we had free pudding! It's the best meal we've had in ages. We had a starry, cold walk back and we had aching legs but it was worth it as we had had such a lovely day.



Saturday ...and it felt like it should be a lazy day after all the walking yesterday but we got the bus back into town again and went into the lovely upstairs market after a good coffee. When we got back I made Pete a 'super' sandwich...smoked salmon and crayfish tails as a special treat.
We paid for internet access which was £5 for 48 hours- why can't sites here have free internet access like most in Europe ? 
 This site was good value because we had a two nights for the cost of three plus a Caravan Club discount. I think it would be expensive otherwise. It's a good site with super showers ( no button to keep pressing)
Sunday was a lazy day with only a short walk to Oxon Priory pub where we left after two minutes as they had  no real ale.......or rather, no-one to change the empty barrels. We then went to the Grapes , the nearest pub to the campsite and had a drink there. They had two meals for £10  but we didn't bother.

Church House Inn Congleton



We drove across country to the strange little site at Congleton. There are spaces for six/ seven caravans on cinder covered ground at the side of this pub up the hill on the Buxton Road . We went into the pub and had a drink and something to eat but the pub was cold. A guy showed us where to park and hook up and where the water pipe is and we paid the £12  night cost. We also had a call from Mel who was coming across to meet us in his van with Vicka. We then walked down the hill into town and had a drink and tried to get a bus back but the 17.30 bus didn't exist- the bus driver told us it would be half and hour before the next one so we jumped in a taxi ( £3.90)  We ate in the pub with our friends but the heating wasn't working  and when we went back for hot chocolate, the electricity tripped and we had to go get someone from the pub to reset it.


The weather was cold the next day and Mel tripped his electric too and the guy couldn't fix it so he had two cables across the site to get hook up.We went into town via the big park where there was yet another carved bear.....Congleton is nicknamed  'Beartown' but we couldn't get an answer about why it is called that. We went into Wetherspoons and then a walk around the town before going to DV8- a wonderful pub/bar/ restaurant for a fabulous meal and cocktails as recommended by someone who lives here ( via the facebook motorhome and campervan page)  We went into the pub to meet him but he worked late so we didn't get to thank him for his useful information.
outside DV8





We drove back the following day via Buxton - a beautiful drive home.




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