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.

What did you say

Where is the year going. Already half way through the season. Hard to think that in four months time we will be finishing up here in Cirencester. What will the winter bring. We are not sure if we are going away to Europe this winter. Instead we might take a trip round the Uk. Watch this space.

We have been really busy with work, and on our days off we never seem to get things done. We have moved pitch on the campsite due to being under trees, the roof was getting covered in sap and then the blossom would stuck to that. It was really upsetting me knowing how dirty it was up there on the roof. Anyone who knows me will know I do like my vehicles looking nice.

Both the camper and the car mot and service was due. We have a couple of good garages back home where we get these done so a trip to Devon was on the cards. An expensive weekend with them both being done, but at least they are done now for the year.

The weather the last two weeks has been fantastic and the BBQ has been in use a few times after work. And when you have a BBQ you have to have a cold beer, that’s the rules.

I have trouble with my ears. Getting blocked etc. I have surfers ear which is caused by years and years of surfing in cold water and in the winter with the cold winds etc. The ear canal narrows down over the years so your ears get blocked easier. The last two weeks were really bad, normally they clear but not this time. Walking around the campsite talking to peaple it was almost like I was just nodding my head and saying yes. So who knows what I have agreed to, or not. Nikki tried tipping some oil in them to loosen the wax and we even squirted some water in them but it still no good. So on our day off I went off to a ear clinic where they hoover all the wax out. It’s not a dyson or anything as big as that but a small probe which goes in the ear canal. Then it’s flushed out with a jet of warm water. It’s actually a nice sensation and at the end of it you can hear. I will spare you the pictures of what came out. Unlike my wallet which was not spared.

So that’s us up to date, the sun is still shining. We are still loving the job, we have put in our selection for next year and in September we will know where we’re going to be working next year.

Busy Busy Busy

So much to do so little time. Do you know that feeling. Work certainly gets in the way of life. But it’s something we have to do, well we do. We had a very busy bank holiday on the site at Easter and the May bank holidays also. The electrics all went down on part of the site, on a Friday so we were trying to sort that at 9pm and trying again in the morning. Some peaple are ok with it, others you would have thought the world had ended because they had no electric. The funny thing is though most of them still have power in their caravan or motorhome because they have a leisure battery. All sorted in the end and no one was killed or seriously injured, nearly does not count. A couple of days later I got stung by a wasp in the night, that was more serious, I woke in the night and felt something crawling on my arm so I brushed it off….OUCH!!! The wasp had stung me, not been stung by a wasp for years. I jumped out of bed, Nikki woke up. We saw the wasp and hunted him down and destroyed him. Meanwhile my hand was throbbing like mad. Put some magic cream on the wound and watched my hand swell by the minute. Could not sleep then, the pain was really bad and I felt sick. Next morning my hand was twice it’s normal size and all up my arm. It took about four days until all was normal again.

We went away on our weekend off. We went down to the campsite near Sidmouth in south Devon, Putts corner, which is where we did our work experience. We have kept in touch with the wardens there, so was good to catch up with them. They laid on a BBQ and we walked to a nearby pub the next day. Our next weekend off we are staying around here and just going out for the days. The following one we are going back to Devon to get the camper serviced and mot done and the car at the same time.

Yesterday we had a day off and had arranged to see Nikki’s eldest boy and the grandchildren in Aylesbury where they live. They are members of the national trust so we opted to go to Waddesdon manor about twenty minutes drive from them. I was expecting a dusty carpark with about twenty cars in when we got there and a Manor House of course. Forgetting it was half term, the carpark was a huge carpark the size of two football fields and all tarmac and lined out and it was busy.

A bit of history for you on Waddesdon manor. Baron Ferdinand Rothschild wanted an estate where he could escape London in the summer months. The vale of Aylesbury, known as Rothschildshire for the number of houses owned by the family in the area was chosen. When he came into his inheritance in 1874 he purchased a bare agricultural estate. The foundation stone was laid in 1877. At that time to have an aviary was the thing to do and so an aviary was built in 1889 and was all restored a few years ago.

The whole thing amazes me, to think how they built such a fine house all those years ago and at what expense and no modern machinery. If you go on the website of Waddesdon manor you will see more info. We never went into the house. Will do that next time. Just the grounds was enough for us to do with the grandkids. I think this was the first national trust property we have visited but I think we may be doing some more, when we get time.

Big boys toys

Here we are into our seventh week of work. Who ever thought we would last this long. We have had two pay days which is really scary as we only get eight before our contract is over. We are really enjoying the job, well most of it. In my last post I told you about Nikki going out on the John Deere tractor and posted a picture of her looking all comfortable in the driving seat. She has done really well. Not to be outdone on the outside duties, I got another toy out the garage. As you can see it’s another John Deere, but it’s bigger. Big toys for big boys. Cor did I have fun cutting the big grass areas on that.

Ok that’s enough of work talk. What else have we been up to. We had a visit from some friends we met in spain. Bill and Heather, they are keen walkers and Bill used to come out biking with me. He was the really fit one but could not keep up with me on the hills because I have my E bike. He has now bought an E bike so I’ve got no chance of keeping up with him now. Really nice to see them both.

We wandered into Cirencester town last Thursday, I was desperate to get a haircut and Nikki wanted to have a browse around. Plenty of barbers in the town so I just took the easy route and went for the first one we came across. Good haircut but what a boring barber, no conversation whatsoever. I almost started to talk to my reflection in the mirror but then realised if I did that I would not get a sensible answer. After the haircut it was time for a hot chocolate and chocolate brownie. Yum yum. The weather has been fantastic especially as it was bank holiday Easter so we had a couple of BBQ’s. Can’t beat cooking outside and sipping a nice cold beer or wine in the sun.

Yesterday was our day off and we went to look at the Cirencester Amphitheatre, it’s a short walk from the site. The earthwork remains are one of the largest Roman Amphitheatres in Britain. Built in the 2nd century when Cirencester was called Corinium and was second only to London in size and importance with a population of over ten thousand. The Amphitheatre would hold about eight thousand spectators. As we walked into the arena I could hear the Romans shouting and cheering. Now you know why I never talked to my reflection in the barbers mirror. The picture below shows Nikki stood in the arena to give you an idea of the size. It would have had seating made from stone and wood and tiered up the banks and an entry and exit.

On our way back we walked into the Bathurst estate because I wanted to get some photos of the colourful dandelions. I know they are weeds, but I think a weed is only a weed if you don’t like it. I think they look spectacular and make great photos in this instance.

Out for a run

No I have not turned into a fitness freak or lynford Christie. When I say out for a run I mean we are taking the camper out for a run. We have been on site for a month now, how time flies. We have settled in nicely and doing a variety of jobs. I have done a small bit in the office and Nikki has done a bit outside. Evidence below.

I think she looks good on the John Deere’s and she did really well at a bit of reversing also. The weather has been fantastic until the last week when the temperature dropped a few degrees and there was even a flurry of snow. We were asked to go and help out at another site because they were struggling. The site at Morton in marsh was a nice site. We drove there and back everyday. About 26 miles each way and only took about 3/4 of an hour. We did it for four days.

On one of our days of we walked into Cirencester to have a spot of lunch and sample a pub or two. The first pub we went in was a bit too much like a cafe, the second one just never felt right. Third time lucky, a proper pub, with open fire, wooden floors, wooden beams. Good beer and good food. A nice afternoon followed.

Every three weeks we get a long weekend of, so this weekend we decided to give the camper a run and get of site. We decided to go to a campsite in Stanlake, near Whitney. We have been there before when we had the Winnebago. It’s only about an hour away so not far. A nice pub at the end of the road which we went to last night. Today we decided to go for a walk through the fields and round the lakes about two miles each way to another pub by the river at Newbridge. Really nice walk and the pub was ok as well. The path to the pub.

New job one week on

Well where did that week go. We have now been in our new job for one week. We arrived on the site on Tuesday. The wardens were out but We were greeted by other wardens and shown to our pitch. We set up and wandered down to the reception later to meet the wardens who are running the site. You know when you get that feeling that everything is good. Well that’s how we felt. A real great bunch of peaple and the site is so nice.

We were not starting work until the Friday so the next day we drove down the supermarket to get some food and to find our way about. Got to make sure you know where to get food and wine/ beer supply’s from. Thursday we walked into Cirencester through the park. The campsite is situated in the Bathurst estate. The grounds or the park as it’s known are huge. You can walk from the campsite through the park into the town, it takes about 15 minutes. The town is great, lots of nice old buildings, lots of nice looking pubs etc. I must admit I am a beach bum or country boy and towns are out my comfort zone, but Cirencester is such a nice town. Nikki loves it. I think for me it helps that I can walk for hours in the park if I need to and talk to the trees etc. At the entrance to the park is a huge Yew hedge. The tallest in the world apparently and when it has its annual trim it takes two blokes two weeks to trim, using cherry pickers and various machines.

The Yew hedge, I will get better photos.

We walked around the town and had a coffee and a hot chocolate in one of the many cafes. Nikki loves charity shops so we had to visit one or two. She knew she was in a posh area because of the quality of cloths in the charity shops. I also pointed out they don’t smell of wee, like a lot of charity shops do. I loved this writing on the entrance to one of the pubs.

This is part of the walk into the town, I aim to take the same picture but at different times of the year just to compare. if we are still here autumn should be nice.

As I said we have been at work for a week now and they have not sacked us, made us stand in the naughty corner etc so we feel we’re doing ok. There are some food vans that come on site, fish and chips, pizza, breakfast van, steak van all on different days. The deal is that they are allowed on site which is nice for the customers but the best part is the staff get free food. Yum yum. Nikki has been in reception all week which is her strength. We also clean the shower block, and I have been outside doing the bin run, painting, clearing up, driving the John deers tractor etc. There is so much to do but we are both enjoying it. We work a three week shift pattern so every week is different but every third week we get a long weekend off which is nice. We never work more than four days without time off. Today we finished at 5.30pm and go back to work on Tuesday at 8.45am. The rugby is on tomorrow so I will be watching that and then Sunday or Monday we are going into Cirencester to visit a pub or two and have lunch. Just for research of course so we can recommend them to the peaple staying on site. The things we have to do.

This time next week

This time next week, Friday the 8th of March we will be nearly finishing our first day in our new jobs. We are both really looking forward to it and so is the bank balance. We have enjoyed our two weeks here in south Molton on a campsite we used to stay on a few years ago. There are a lot of changes gone on. My friend Chris who keeps his caravan here and loves his wildlife, not the party all night and drink all night wildlife but the wildlife as in nature. He has put a hide up in the woods here and gave me a key to use after he went back home last weekend because I also like the wildlife. There is a kingfisher that visits the pond and Chris has got some great photos. Unfortunately I have not managed to get a photo of the kingfisher and have only seen it twice. I have always wanted to get a good photo of a kingfisher but on this occasion it’s not going to happen.

The hide where I have spent some hours watching and waiting.

I have seen deer in the woods and a variety of birds including, blue tits, coal tits, long tailed tits, nuthatches, goldcrests, heron, song thrush and a robin came and sung to me.

Also the frogs starting to spawn right in front the hide. You have to look closely amongst the weed and then you see little eyes looking back at you.

We have caught up with some friends while back in Devon but not had time to catch up with everyone. Nikki has caught up on her washing, well and mine so we have some cloths to wear. I have had the camper remapped so it’s better for towing. When we leave here on Tuesday to head for Cirencester we will have the car on tow.

We have a full days training on Monday at Paignton. Machine training so Nikki will be a tractor driver after that. We then leave on Tuesday for Cirencester, get set up on Tuesday and have a couple of days to look around the area before start day Friday. That’s us up to date. Will let you know how we get on. One last photo just because I liked it.

Back in Devon

After leaving Poolsbrook we drove, or I drove to Haughton to see some friends. They have a very nice bungalow and a lot of land. They have turned part of the land into a CL. A CL is a certified location which you are allowed to have five campers or caravans stay on. They are all over the UK. Maurice has done a great job. We were the only ones there that day.

It was good to catch up with Maurice and Judy and to see his American car, an Edsel which sounded so nice.

We left there on Saturday morning and headed for slimbridge to a campsite right by the canal. The slimbridge wildfowl trust is about a twenty minute walk down the lane. We never went there but we will return to go there as I like birds and it’s one of the best places to see a huge variety. Just outside the campsite is a pub, the Tudor arms which is actually only 95 steps from the pitch we were on. Funny how coming back from the pub it was 153 steps. We met friends in the pub who only live about twenty minutes away. They use to come down to Devon and stay on the site we were working on. Sunday we went for a walk down the canal to blow the cobwebs out. I do like canal boats and the peaple who own them always seem to be so friendly. Waving as they tootle past at walking pace. I liked the chimney decorations on a couple of them.

Before leaving slimbridge yesterday I went back over to the pub at 7.30 am for a nice big breakfast, and just to check on the number of steps to get there and back. It was 95 steps each way so the 153 coming back that night after seeing friends for a drink or two, I can only think someone must have spiked my drink.

Got back down to Devon and went and picked the car up. Flat battery but no problem when you have a small starter pack. Fired up straight away and with Nikki following me we headed for a campsite in south molton which we have stayed on before when we had our big Winnebago. The site has changed a lot since we were here, all for the better. Joe the owner was his usual self and we went and had a pint with him and a good laugh. We will be here for a week or so, got things to do, peaple to see, places to go to. So since getting of the ferry we have done a further 792 miles to get us back to Devon. No I never got lost that was all the running around we done. Since leaving Devon after finishing work for our winter trip and now getting back to Devon we have travelled 3551 miles. Now all we have to do is start work next month for the summer so we can go away again in November.