South molton

Our time off is flying away so fast. We left Dulverton and headed for Barnstaple to get the camper and car Mot done. We have used the same garage for a while now because we have a good relationship with the owner and the team there. Peaple we can trust with our vehicles. We drove straight past the campsite at south molton we were going to stay on while down this way and there seemed to be plenty of space so that was good, although we did have a booking.

The camper was in for mot and a pair of new headlights (don’t ask how much they were) and some brakes pads. The car for just a mot but needed a new cv joint. While all that was being done we went to the dentist for our annual check up. You could say our teeth needed an MOT. After paying the dentist bill and the garage bill we headed for the campsite stopping only to refuel the camper on the way. All checked in at the campsite and pitched up and a empty wallet. A expensive day, but these things have to be done.

The next day we went to see Nikki’s mum for a cup of tea and there’s always a biscuit or two to go with it. And a odd job here and there to do, but it’s always a pleasure to do. On the Wednesday I had to wait in because a guy was coming to fit a new tracker on the camper. More expense, no wonder were not away in Europe this winter. A tracker is a electronic device which is hidden on the vehicle and sends out a pulse. If it was ever stolen, apart from me standing there in tears and Nikki wondering where all her wine has gone, the tracker company can tell the police where it is. After the fitter left I washed the camper because it was so dirty, especially the roof from being parked up under some trees.

No peace for the wicked, the next day we went back into Barnstaple to take Nikki’s mum out to lunch. A nice small pub we know of and a very nice lunch, although not as cheap as being in Spain for lunch.

South molton is a loverly small town and really old fashioned. The shops close on a Thursday afternoon and are all closed on a Sunday just like all towns used to. I really like that. But in this modern world we live in now everyone wants to be in the shops all the time. You only have to look at the big supermarkets Boxing Day etc, peaple buying enough shopping to feed an army, or thinking the worlds going to end so stocking up on food. For gods sake the shops are only closed for two days and some of then don t even close.

The campsite is one we have stayed on before, nice big pitches which are fully serviced, there’s three fishing lakes if your into fishing, a small river runs through the site and there’s a nice woodland to walk around. I always have to go up the woods for a walk and talk to the trees and see the wildlife. The picture below of a recently felled tree, it’s life over but still smelling so sweat.

The next two photos of the river which runs through the site are almost taken from the exact same spot but are nearly ten years apart and the weather was a bit different then. That was a cold winter.

2019

2010 winter

Yesterday our friends Mark and karly and there daughter Caitlin came over for a catch up. I used to work with Mark on the holiday park and we always used to have a good laugh. What better place to catch up than a pub. Funnily enough the campsite just happens to have one on site. It’s called a country club and it’s very nice. The beer and food was excellent and a good time was had by all.

Tomorrow we up jacks and hitch up the car and head out on the highway. Next destination Cheddar in Somerset.

Dulverton

On our last day at Wareham we went to visit friends Baz and Claire. They only live about half hour away so was nice as we were so close to go around to see them for a cuppa tea and a biscuit, and cake in this instance. Well done Claire. One of the travellers had left just before us, all the others were due to leave that morning. When we got back in the afternoon they had all gone. I checked over the camper, wheels, engine, lights etc. Yep all still there.

Don’t get me wrong on the traveller front. Proper gypsies and travellers I have all the time in the world for, after all I am a traveller myself in a sense. I have had conversations with old gypsies about there lives and family’s. It’s just some of the modern travellers just give them all a bad name.

We left Wareham the next day and headed for Dulverton. We have stayed on the campsite a few times over the years. It’s a small campsite right in Dulverton village. Yes a village, so this means small town, yes a village, so that means small roads, narrow roads, yes. But we are 43ft long. Yes. But buses and lorries go there. Ok so when you come off the motorway and A roads, the last ten miles or so are a bit tricky in places, including a hump back bridge on a bend and a couple of other tight blind bends. We arrived safe and sound and in glorious sunshine although that last ten miles down the lanes was very wet with a few flooded bits because of all the rain we have had lately. The camper and the car were filthy.

While at Dulverton I wanted to get out on my bike and to get some photos of Tarr steps. Tarr steps on exmoor is a famous clapper bridge, spanning the river Barle. Clapper bridge comes from the Latin name Claperius which means pile of stones. No one knows how old the bridge is but folk say about 3000 years old. It’s the largest example of this kind. It has 17 spans and is 180ft long, and some of the stones are two tons each in weight.

The river was quiet high because we have had a lot of rain over the last week and in the past few years the bridge has had some serious damage in bad storms. You can actually drive through the river next to the bridge with normal river levels But you have to be brave, and have a four by four at this time of year. I have actually biked over it and next to it when I used to go up on exmoor mountain biking. This bike ride to get to it from the campsite was only six miles each way but I forgot how big some of the hills were.

We had friends Rod and Karen coming to visit for the weekend so before they got there we had to go and test the pubs beer and food out, just to make sure it was still as good as it’s always been. To be honest we went and tested it twice before they got there because, well just because we could and we really like the pub. The bridge inn at Dulverton does good beer and food, if ever your passing check it out. Shortly after Rod and Karen arrived we went down there for a couple of drinks and then round to the fish and chip shop for our tea. And the next day we had a table booked for a meal. They were both pleased we had spent the time and money to go and check it out for them. A good time was had by all. I also managed to get some night time photos.

Another nice surprise when we got to the campsite was that there was an event going on in the Sunday 1st December called Dulverton by starlight. This included a load of stalls selling home made things including food and crafts, the Morris dancers were out in force, jangling there bells and bashing there sticks at each other. Local brass band were playing. All the shops in the village were open and all decorated up for Xmas. At six pm there was a big firework display, which I must say was fantastic. And a local band in the main village square who played a good mix of songs.

The village atmosphere was fantastic and really busy.

We left Dulverton the next morning, after de icing the car. Heading for Barnstaple to get the camper and the car MOT done. The roads were still very wet and iced, so care was needed. We are now on a site in south molton. Another site we know well. We have a few things to do in the area and take Nikki’s mum out for lunch etc.

Wareham forest

We hitched up the car and left Brighton on a sunny morning heading out on the highway towards Wareham. The journey was faultless and we said how much we had enjoyed Brighton. Not the sort of place we would want to be for a long time but a week is ok. We will be back.

Arriving at the campsite just outside Wareham, the sun was still shining so all looking good, until we booked in. We were told there were travellers on site. And they were here for the same amount of time as us. Don’t get me wrong I have no problem with travellers as long as they keep themselves to themselves and don’t bother me, or more important want what I have. That ain’t going to happen. We both work hard for what we have and I am very protective about it. We pitched up at the other end of the site to them and set up. The site had security the next day on site patrolling around just in case of any disturbance, it also looks good for the peaple staying on site to see them walking around.

While here at the site we wanted to go out and about. I wanted to get some photos of Lulworth cove and Durdle door, two really nice coves that I have not visited for years. The weather was overcast so we decided to go off to Lulworth cove. Only about half hour drive away. So we roll into the carpark and they want £4 to park for two hours. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind paying for parking but a reasonable charge. £4 was the minimum charge. We had no choice really so paid. Went to look at the cove, it was windy and rough but still looked great.

I was quite happy taking photos but Nikki was starting to turn blue with the cold wind and when I suggested we walk up the hill to get some shots from above, that’s when we parted company, not for ever just until I found her again in the visitor centre. I marched up the hill to get another view of the bay.

After my march up the hill and photo taking I descended down the other side and headed for the visitor centre which is where I found her mooching around the shop. The other side of the carpark is another big hill which takes you up and over to Durdle door. I did suggest the walk to Nikki but I can’t print her answer here, children might be reading. So the decision was made to drive around to the other bay. Only a ten minute drive through the country lanes brings us to Durdle door carpark. Luckily the machines were covered up so no charge. I was going to walk down to the bay. Nikki was going to stay in the car and keep warm while looking out to sea. With not a lot of peaple about I got some photos that I had wanted to get for ages. Hope you like them. The hike down and back up was worth it. Nikki stayed warm and still saw it all when I showed her the photos. I sometimes wonder who has got it right. This photo on the way down.

These photos are from down on the beach. Even with a moody sky I still think the place looks fantastic, and the fact no one is around makes it so much worth the hike.

This one is my favourite and made it worth it.

After climbing back up the footpath, in the wind and the cold.Yes the shorts are still on. Back in the car Nikki was happy in the warm. So two happy peaple off we went back to the campsite. We are here for a couple of more days and then hitch up and head for Dulverton, on the edge of exmoor. It’s a site we have used once or twice before, there’s a nice pub at the end of the road. We plan to meet friends on the weekend and have a bite to eat and a beer or two with them. The weather here in Wareham has not been kind to us, so have not been out round the forest on my bike although we did manage a small walk but got stopped by a flood so had to turn back. Hope we get some sun at Dulverton.

Brighton

While here at Brighton we planned on going into the big town itself. When I say we planned I mean I wanted a new iPad and there is an Apple store in Brighton. Nikki wanted to browse some shops and visit the north lanes.

Saturday was an overcast day so we decided to head into town then. I had googled parking in Brighton and almost fell over at the price of it. As we were going to be about four hours the parking would have been £22 at NCP and about £15 plus at other spots. You will notice I did say would have been. We chose to catch the bus which was £10 for the pair of us on a city saver ticket which meant we could hop on and hop off all day, no keep checking the time. And the buses run every 7 minutes from just down the road.

On the bus we found a seat amongst real mix of people. Some say hello, some just stare out the windows, some are miles away and glued to their phones, they are from all different walks of life and different countries. Off the bus and into the shopping centre and find the Apple shop. All very posh and buzzing. I use my iPad a lot and have a lot of photos on it etc so I panic about transferring all the info from one to the other. I made this clear to the young lad who greeted us in the shop. He looked like he had just got off his paper round. I might have been bigger than him but he had the brain and knowledge to help me. So at this moment he was my best friend. A couple of hours later we walked out of the shop with my new iPad all loaded up with my info and an empty wallet.

Next stop was to find the north lanes, after ducking and diving into a couple of other shops that is. The north lanes did not disappoint. It’s full of hippie, record, junk shops etc and some loverly little cafes. Again the range of people is great and I could just sit outside a bar and people watch all day. I suppose if I did that the longer I sat there the range of peaple would turn into the strange of peaple. Me being one of them.

Another thing we wanted to do while in Brighton is go up the British airways I 360. The I 360 is a huge tower, 162 metres high right on the seafront.

You go into a huge glass doughnut so you can walk all around inside. The doughnut goes up to 138 metres and the view is fantastic. It can take 175 guests as long as there not all overweight. Luckily for us there was only about 40 of us on there today. It cost 46 million to build. The whole trip lasts 25 minutes and cost £15 each if you just turn up on the day like we did. You can book it in advance but then if the weather is rubbish on the day of your flight you miss out. We looked at the weather and decided to go today as the sun was out. It’s about an hours walk from the campsite each way and about a 6 mile round trip.

The photos are not very good because of all the glass and reflections but believe me it was fantastic up there. We had timed it just right with the time and the sun out. Even Nikki enjoyed it which I was very surprised about as she is not normally very good with heights. She even enjoyed the 6 mile walk, well she said she did. She will sleep well tonight.

Tomorrow we hitch up the car again and move along the south coast to Wareham in Dorset to another campsite. Another place another view out the window. Another area to explore. Let’s hope we get some more sunshine.

By the seaside

The heating service was completed by about 11 am so we paid the bill and hooked up Timmy tow car and headed out on the highway towards Henley on Thames. Arrived at The campsite in good time and all set up on the pitch by about 1pm. The trees looked loverly in their autumn colours.

Henley on Thames is a loverly area, but a very expensive area. We looked in some of the estate agents windows as we walked to the pub. We decided that for us the pub was the best option. We could afford a beer and a glass of wine. We could not afford a house/ flat/ garden shed in Henley on Thames. Another day we walked down by the river and decided to go for a coffee. Found this loverly cafe called the chocolate cafe. If you are ever in Henley and like chocolate then I can recommend this place. You really are spoilt for choice. I had a chilli hot chocolate and Nikki had a coffee. To compliment them Nikki had an oatey cake and I had a large slab of rocky road.

We were supposed to leave Henley and go to Liphook in Hampshire to get the jacks on the camper refurbished but they rang and asked if we could re book because they were having trouble, so we will get them done in the new year now.

Our next stop after Henley was Brighton so again we hooked up Timmy tow car and headed south. The journey was all motorway M4-M25-M23 so really boring. The only excitement was when we decided to get fuel. This is always a exciting time because we need to find a fuel station we can get in and out of easily as we are 44 ft long when on the road. Add to that that you can’t reverse with the car on the back because the minute you try to the front wheels on the car turn. The first garage we saw a sign for was closed when we got to it, so a turn around the roundabout and back on the highway for a few more miles. Take two, as we pulled of the main road and aimed for the pumps it was looking a bit tight for the exit. All fuelled up and exited all ok. Nikki could breathe again

So here we are in Brighton now for a few days. It’s a big campsite and nice big pitches. We saw some other wardens we met while on our training so that was nice to catch up with them, also saw a couple who stayed at Cirencester when we were there. While we are here Nikki wants to go around the shops and walk along the seafront. I will do the walk along the seafront bit. This morning I went out on my bike There is a cycle path that runs all along under the cliffs from the Marina to peace haven. It was great to be out on my bike and right by the sea and the sun was out. Bonus.

After going to the end of the path I went back the other way to the pier and then on to the old derelict pier to get a photo. I am using my new phone as my main camera now and must say I am very impressed with it. I also have a App on the phone which tells me where I have been and how fast I have been etc for when I am out on my bike. Today’s little bimble along the seafront I covered 14 miles.

The derelict pier still looks nice in my eyes.

End of season

That’s it we have got to the chequered flag. For us this seasons work is over. It has been a good season, a few little hiccups but that’s life. Will we do it again, you bet, to be honest it’s the best job we have had and suits our life style so much. We went into Cirencester for the last time on Monday, I needed a hair cut, Nikki needed to stroll round the shops one last time. No shops just to walk to next year for her. And of course while we were in town we had to go and have a beer and a bite to eat. We met up with our wardens Tony and Jo and had a really good evening. They have been so good to us and the training has been great. Real friends.

Some of the seasonals on site have been so nice. Knocking on the camper door and presenting us with bottles of wine and chocolates. We will miss them, but next year we will have some more seasonals to get to know. One of them Malcolm has been my IT guru the last four days, more on that later.

I managed to watch some of the World Cup rugby while at work and on my days off. Shame England didn’t win it, but they did so well. Got the six nations to look forward to next. That will be a tricky one for me being half welsh and next year we will be working in wales and there is a pub at the end of the road. Who do I support when I go in there to watch it. I suppose it depends on the size of the guys in there.

For the last few years Nikki has been nagging me to get a new phone. My old phone is a iPhone 3 and it still makes calls and texts, that’s about it really but I like it. I also have an old camera which is nine years old now. There are so many times when we are out I just wish I had my camera to capture a picture but it’s to big and bulky to carry around all the time, and my phones camera is rubbish. So the decision was made to get a new phone with a decent camera. So that’s me into the modern world with a IPhone 11 pro. Thats why malcom has been my IT guru he understands these modern things. I am having trouble trying to work it all and Nikki has a sore head with me asking her a load of questions all the time about it. Add to that the internet at Cirencester was not very good so all the photos on my iPad would not go over onto my phone. Well there are 23,995!. I will get to grips with the new toy but I doubt if I will keep it as long as the old iPhone 3.

We left Cirencester yesterday and headed north to Wellingborough to Alde to get the heating serviced. This is us stopped at a service station. All hooked up we are 44ft long so you have to think about where your going etc. The journey went well and the weather was kind to us.

We got to Alde about 3pm and met the guy who was going to do the job today. I have heard really good reports about this place which is why we came here. We unhooked the car and parked up and plugged in the electric and settled down for the night. 8.30 am this morning they took Bertie Burstner into the workshop to do what they have to do. Should be finished about lunchtime so then we will hook up the car again and head for the next stop on our winter tour which is Henley on Thames.

Tredegar house two

While we were at the Tredegar house caravan and motorhome club site working we were offered free tickets to go and look inside the Tredegar house and the gardens. One of the national trust property’s . We had already looked around the outside while walking in the park, pressing our noses up against one of the many big iron gates to get a glimpse of life on the other side. Our day off came round and for the first time it was going to be a nice day with blue sky’s and sunshine. So what do you do on a nice day off and no rain after being out in the rain for a week or more. Of course you go inside a posh big house.

The house was spectacular inside and it’s hard to imagine how these places got built and the sort of money those peaple would have had all that time ago. The stable block alone was bigger than a school building. The number of staff to run the house and stable block would have been huge. Every room being so grand. The national trust volunteers who work in these houses know all about the different peaple who used to live in them and what they did etc. As it was a quite weekday we did get pounced upon as soon as we walked into a room, bit like a car sales person. If there had been more peaple looking around we could have dodged some of them or chose to listen if we wanted. But they were very good. This is part of the stable block.

The gardens outside were interesting. Not at there best because of the time of year but still nice to walk around in the sun, yes it was still shining. They would have grown all their own food in parts of the garden to feed the whole family and staff.

I love trees and really liked this one, the way it had grown and the huge one in the background which was hundred of years old. Very impressive.

A couple of days later we left the caravan and motorhome park to head back to Cirencester. It was pouring with rain. I do hope it doesn’t always rain in Wales otherwise next year we will both look like prunes at the end of the season.

Our new wardens for next year contacted us and said the were going to the NEC at Birmingham and would that be easier for us to meet them. It’s about an hour and a half away from Cirencester. It’s normal practice to try and meet your new wardens for the next year, first impressions and all that. There was a caravan and motorhome show on at the NEC so we decided it would be good to meet them and make a day out for us to look around the show. We left Cirencester at 7am and got there at 9 am. Lots of traffic but we were there nice and early so straight in Wetherspoons for a big breakfast. Met our new wardens for a coffee and chat for an hour, who were really nice, hope they thought the same about us. Then we had a look around the motorhomes and bits and pieces stalls. Only saw two motorhomes which I really liked, one at £135,000 which was a Dethleffs tag axle and a very nice Niesmann Bischoff at £238,000. You only had to put down £100,000 as a deposit and the rest you could have had on finance. It was very nice though. I did offer them a pound a week but got a funny look from the salesman in his suit.

One last picture to Brighton up your day. Sunflowers of some kind in the Tredegar house gardens. Hope the sun is shiny where you are.

Tredegar house

Here we are at Tredegar house site. A smaller site than what we are used to but so much nicer for work. We will be here now until 10th October, then we will go back to Cirencester to finish off the season. The site being in the grounds of the national trust property is very green and today we had a day off so we went for a walk around the park grounds which are next to the main house. There was a craft and food market on which was a good reason to go and we needed to top up on our shopping which meant walking to Asda a bit further on. Here we are on site.

The weather has been very wet while we have been here so dodging the showers we headed out for the craft and food market while it had stopped raining. We chose to go around the park grounds instead of walking down the roads, much nicer. The house looks fantastic and the stable block was just as big. Years ago it must have been bustling with activity, now it’s just bustling with peaple looking around. This is the rear of the house, the servants entrance.

After looking around the stalls we came across a pasty store with a difference. All the pasty’s were Jamaican beef, or vegan, or some other combo. Loverly lady selling them and all handmade by herself. And yes they were delicious. I found a beer stall and the lady there insisted I try some. Who am I to argue. And yes that was very nice also, so that was lunch taken care off, a pasty and some beer. Nikki found a gin stall but never got to taste any, only sniff the bottle. What a let down, bit like me opening my wallet and saying to the stall holder sniff that cash mate. Thats what you could have had.

After going to Asda and getting some shopping I went for a walk around the lake in the park. Really weird being near a lake and trees yet so close to the M4 motorway which you can only just here. After the walk back to the camper for lunch. The pastie and beer was elevensies.

Up up and away

Sat just looking at my iPad one morning a couple of weeks ago before going to work. I heard a distinctive noise of a gas burner going off on a hot air balloon. Grabbed my camera and went outside to the sight of beautiful hot air balloon floating over the campsite, drifting along wherever the wind would take it. It’s something I have always wanted to do, along with a lot of other things, more of that later.

We are still very busy at work and the end is in sight for this year now. Tomorrow we are off to Tredegar house in South Wales to work for a week. The site is in the grounds of, yes you guessed it Tredegar house, a national trust property between Cardiff and Newport. It’s not far from where my gran and grandad, my dads parents used to live and I visited as a kid many moons ago. Will not have time to go and find their old house this visit but we are going back to the site on our winter trip so will make an effort to find it then.

We have had some more end of season assessments at work to do with the machinery. All to do with the two year training program and pleased to say we both passed. Good job really otherwise we would not be able to work.

We have had three stealth B2 bombers flying around a lot also. They have been based at RAF Fairford and are doing some training, but a bit different to our training. Fantastic planes they look like batman when in the air and I was so pleased to see all three as they flew over leaving Fairford.

It was Nikki’s birthday yesterday and we had some friends come up to see us so we all went into Cirencester for a drink and a bite to eat like you do. Had a really nice evening. Today is just a chill out day.

The trees in the Bathurst estate and around the campsite are all changing colour now and starting to drop their leaves. The Bathurst estate are doing a lot of tree work at the moment because a lot have disease or have come to the end of their life. Some really big trees like chestnuts have been coming down. Hundreds of years old. They are going to replant a lot of new trees to take the place of the old ones. The colours are fantastic and should get better in the next few weeks.

Now for some fantastic news. We have been told where we are going next year. We are going to a site called Coed Y Llwyn, don’t ask me to pronounce it because I can only just spell it but I will learn. It’s in the heart of Snowdonia in North Wales. About 8 miles from Porthmadog which is on the coast. The site is in a small village called Gellilydan. There will only be one other couple with us and it’s a much smaller site.

Going back to what I said earlier about things I always wanted to do, next year I will tick one off the list. Less than hour away is a old slate quarry which they have put a zip wire in, its one of the longest in the world and you reach speeds up 100 mph. It’s called velocity 2 if you want to check it out on You Tube. There is also a place called surf Snowdonia which is a lagoon with a wave machine in it for surfing. They can alter the size of the wave depending who is using it. I’m sure if I give the bloke an extra fiver he would crank it up a bit.

About twenty minutes away is a forest called Coed Y Brenin where there are lots of different mountain bike trails. From the site you can walk around a big lake called lake Trawsfynydd. And of course there is Snowdon itself to walk up, another thing I plan to do. Nikki is going to catch the train up and wave as she goes past sipping her G&T. And to top it all off there is a pub at the end of the road from the campsite. So looks like it’s going to be another busy year next year.

Two months to go

The work season has flown away, now six months into it which means we only have two months left. Yipppeee. We love the job, don’t get me wrong but we also like our free time. The site has been very busy, especially weekends where we are fully booked nearly every weekend. The Cotswold show was on one weekend which was in the grounds right next to the site and then the following weekend was the fairford air tattoo so a few planes were flying around overhead which was nice. We have had several friends visit us while we have been here which has been really nice. A good excuse to go out for a beer and a bite to eat, not that we need an excuse.

We have decided not to go to Europe this winter for a couple of reasons. First we need to spend some money on the camper, new mattress, heating service, jacks repair, etc. Secondly we thought it would be nice to tour the Uk for a change. I know it will be cooler but we can catch up with peaple we have not seen etc and see different parts of our own country we have not seen.

We went to cheddar to meet some friends three weeks ago which was nice. Another excuse to go out for a beer or two. Although I almost fainted at the price of a round, in one of the hotel/pubs, four drinks £24. We never ate in there. This weekend we are in Tweksbury on a site right on the edge of the town. You can see the Abbey from the site poking out between the treetops.

A very impressive building. The build started in 1102 that’s a long time ago. It was built to house the Benedictine monks. It’s famous for its medieval stained glass windows. It also has the largest Norman church tower in existence, its fourteen metres square and forty five metres high. Very impressive.

This morning I got up early to go and take these photos. As the sun came up it shone on the abbey making it look spectacular. Walking around in the grounds with no other person in site was so nice and worth getting up for. As I walked around to the huge big door I noticed it was open, so me being me went on in because I wanted to see inside. WOW…The outside is impressive but the inside is even more impressive. As I started to take some photos, a person appeared, the local vicar. I said the door was open so I had come in to take some photos, I hope that’s ok. Of course it is he said, are you here for the early morning service. No I said I was here to take advantage of the early morning, no crowds and the sunlight. It’s a very impressive building I said, yes it’s magnificent he said as he strolled off to get ready for his early morning service.

After taking my photos inside I wandered around the old part of the town taking a few more photos of the loverly old buildings which we had spotted yesterday while walking to the pub for a beer and a bite to eat. On our own this time, see I told you we don’t need an excuse. Some of the buildings look like they could fall down anytime but are so nice and being used.