The countdown was on until our leaving day. The site had hardly anyone coming to stay, the rain was persistent so I could not get any final grass cutting done.

The days were short in daylight, but still full of laughs. Everything was done on site that could be done for close down. We had a couple of days to pack the camper and car up and catch up on washing etc and then the morning of the 12th November we were off.

Were we glad to be driving out the gate, yes and no. The site was nice, the area was nice it’s just the season was not really a good one compared to others. I will leave it at that.

We were not travelling far, only about an hour away to another site on the edge of Newport in South Wales. Again a site we have used many times but it got us on our winter journey. The weather by now had cheered up and the sun was out and it was really mild for this time of year. The trees looked fantastic in their autumn colours against the blue sky.

Autumn colours

We only spent two nights at Tredegar then headed out on to the M4 and over the Severn bridge into England to Cirencester. Yet another site we have been to before and worked on.

Cirencester is a loverly old town and the walk through the Bathurst estate to get to the town is so nice on a sunny day. We were going to be here for two weeks. A week of that Nikki was going to see her sister and her boys and the grandchildren leaving me at home to look after myself. Nikki dropped me off in town as she left so I could get my Covid booster jab and while I was there they offered me my flu jab so I had one in each arm and then walked back through the park to the camper.

The fridge was stocked up with beer and food, easy to cook food that is. I knew where all the best food pubs were just in case and the takeaways. The weather was a bit of a mixture but I had a chilled out time on my own and Nikki had a hectic time visiting.

Bathurst lake

One of my walks was around the Abby grounds, some thing I had never done before even though we had spent months in Cirencester. It’s only a small walk but you can do a full loop around the lake and through the park. I spotted a Heron and lots of other ducks, swans and smaller birds. From one side of the lake you can see the church in the town and a swan was in the perfect place for me to include him in a picture apart from he was busy cleaning himself. So I got ready to take a photo and waited for him to look up and strike a pose and then click, the moment was caught on camera.

The posing swan

Further around the park was a couple of wooded statues of monks who would have been around years ago in the Abbey. Well not the wooden ones but actual peaple. In fact all around the grounds where a tree had fallen they had carved it into a seat or something to show off the area. One tree trunk had birds, otter, snake, hares, fish all carved into it. So much nicer than just leaving a old tree to rot away.

Wooden sculptures

No sooner had Nikki gone she was back. The fridge was empty but she managed to cook up a meal for us both. The next day there was a big market on in the centre of Cirencester with over a hundred stalls. Of course we had to go and have a look. We were planing in going back into town in the evening to listen to the music, watch the silent fireworks etc but the weather was turning into rain so we stayed in and played our own music.

Time to pack up and head off down the M4 again and the M5 towards Barnstaple. South molton to be precise and yet again another site we know well. From here it’s a half hour drive to see Nikki’s mum. The camper and the car are booked in for there mot and servicing, we are booked in the dentist and doctors for our annual check up.

We have to get up early to get the camper to the garage so they can start on it early and we avoid all the traffic. The mot was ok just a couple of advisories which can wait until next year. The rear brake discs need doing this year so that was all planned to be done and the annual service. I drove out from the garage with my credit card screaming to losing £1100. At least that’s the camper done.

The next day the car was booked in to another garage for its mot and service. Again we have to get up early and get it there. I had a moment and said I would take it in and Nikki could stay at home.

So on a frosty morning at 6.45am I left the campsite and headed into Barnstaple while Nikki was tucked up in bed in the warm. At 7.20am I was outside the garage changed into my hiking boots and ready for a long day. It was still dark as I dropped the keys to Barry the owner and headed out for a walk.

The garage is near the river Taw so a great way to start the day by walking along the Tarka trail. The sun was coming up as I strolled into town which for me was the best time to be in a town with all the shops closed. Hunting down a place for breakfast I came across a small sandwich shop and they did a nice bacon sarni.

The trouble is with dropping the car off early I then had a lot of time to kill. Luckily the weather was good and I like walking. I had to go up the dentist at midday and that was a two mile walk each way plus all the other walking. It was so peaceful besides the river and a photo opportunity was right in front of me. The photo below is one of my favourite photos I have ever taken. Right place right time as they say.

Right place right time

The town was starting to come to life by now so I stayed on the outside by the river and eventually started to walk the smaller roads up to the dentist. Got there early but they had a cancellation so I could get in early. Perfect timing as just after leaving there I got a call from the garage to say the car was ready.

Got to the car, hiking boots off, coat off, bill payed and away I drove with my legs aching a bit. I had walked just under eight miles in total. I slept well last night. Only the doctors to go now for our checkups and that’s next week. Then me, Nikki, the camper, the car are all done for another year.

We are here for another ten days and then we head for Minehead for three weeks and then the winter trip will be over as we start back at work the first week in January. Must be mad but the camper, car and dentist bill have got to be payed.

River Taw looking towards Barnstaple