Woodland Springs Touring Park – Venton

We arrived at woodland springs touring park on the morning of Sunday 25th November 2018 we received a warm welcome by the camp owners Chris and Jan who allowed us to pull up earlier than usual and showed us to our pitch and helped us settle in before they themselves set off for a lovely short break to Tiverton in their caravan for a few days…

We managed to settle in and have a lovely quiet night before the storms that were due finally hit us, well storm Diana certainly wasn’t a storm to be ignored, not so much for the rain but for the strong winds and with gusts of 70+ mph, boy did those gusts make themselves known, luckily the direction we were parked in with our back end into the wind helped stopping us getting bucked and rocked around too much in the gusts, but the tree on our pitch caused a bit of concern when I noticed the whole turf area at the base of the tree was moving around and lifting when the gusts were really harsh, that poor tree took a beating that night and I just hoped it didn’t come down and more to the point that it didn’t come down on us or anyone else passing by… Update: the tree survived as did we all thankfully, although we did have to help some other campers take down a tent in the wind when we noticed them struggling…

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While the storm was raging outside we were stuck inside all cosy, even the dog was refusing to go outside into the wind and rain so we stayed in until the weather started to improve, when it did improve we took the chance to go get some more fat feed balls for the birds as we’d found that there were ample empty bird feeders here at the site and so we figured it would be a nice gesture for the birds at least, if we filled them and gave them some food and boy were these birds hungry… they are currently going through at least 2 fat balls a day plus a feeder full of peanuts every other day but what a joy to see so many birds taking the opportunity to get a good feed, they seemed to be having a real party and telling all their friends about the feeders here too, it’s been a constant feeding frenzy from them… and then what a lovely surprise when we looked out and noticed a greater spotted woodpecker feeding from the peanut feeder!!! (not such a great thing when the bird starts to peck on the roof though!!!)

 

After suffering cabin fever during the storm, once it had eased it was time for us all to get out, stretch our legs and explore some nearby places our first stop was to Lidford Gorge owned by the national trust we arrived at the cafe had our cards scanned and then drove down to the Gorge because for winter large parts of Lidford Gorge are closed off for safety reasons although you are still allowed access to the gorge but walkers at this time of year are urged to take extra care as the pathways and steps down are extra slippery due to the wet climate and autumn/winter weather…

 

 

 

We next took a very soggy and muddy walk up to Brentor Church where we just managed to take shelter inside the old church as the rain came down in a heavy shower, so while waiting for the rain to ease off again we inspected the inside of the church, once the rain began to subside we finally stepped back outside and were treated to the sight of a double rainbow…  the original church built on this site back in 1130 and I can certainly see why they chose this special and scenic spot…

 

 

 

We aimed on finishing off the outing with a nice pint but sadly by the time we got to the Highwayman Inn at Sourton we found it had closed at 2.30pm, disappointed we instead took pictures of the outside, this is a pub if you are passing through that you must visit while in the area, it is renowned for the eccentric building and collection of allsorts of items inside and out… originally built in 1282, on the outside it now has shoe on one side of it and a stagecoach entrance on the other side, it’s a very, very quirky pub and well worth popping into for a visit, there’s lots more quirky stuff inside to view!!!

On the Saturday rather than rest we decided to explore somewhere much more locally, so leaving the campsite via a gate at the back of the site, we joined a rather muddy and water logged byeway and made our way to a place called Spinsters Rock, an old buriel ground, allegedly the rocks here fell down one night and 3 old spinsters managed to lift them back up into place all by themselves before dawn… Inside the field where the stones were located there were also some very angelic sweet looking sheep… those who know me will know I hate entering fields that have farm animals in them and I try to avoid doing this at all costs.

I am not so hot on farm animals they always seem to want to approach me, most likely sensing my fear, so you can guess what this lovely looking little flock of fluffy followers did… yep you’re right they tried to approach me, so with me panicking having these fluffy white animals taking a lively interest in what I was doing in their field, there was me threatening them with becoming my next meal advising them to keep their distance and assuring them I was most definitely not known to be vegetarian and I meant what I was saying if they came any closer or god forbid tried ramming me, I was going to eat them!!!  (crikey though these sheep are quite stocky, strong and sturdily square looking things when you get close up and cosy with them, I really forget how big these animals can be sometimes… as for Pete he doesn’t take much notice of his surroundings at all and insists all farm animals are friendly… for example a few months ago Pete forced me to walk through a field full of massive bulls telling me it would be fine only to find a “keep out” warning sign on the final gate on our way out telling the public “Danger, keep out, dangerous bulls loose in the field” I could have turned the air blue with my words on seeing this sign and also cursed the farmer also for only putting one warning sign on just a single gate instead of each of the at least three gates entering into that single field… After all I would have had a much stronger argument in persuading Pete that day why I was unwilling to walk through that field, luckily the bulls were having a mellow day and mostly ignored us… just giving the odd stare as if to ask why we were trampling over their patch that day… but I was keeping a close eye out just in case I needed to jump the electric barbed wire fence and hedgerow next to me anyway!!! It reminded me of when I was young and we’d first moved to Plymouth I was taken on a school trip to a farm and the farmer literally had to carry me out of the field of cows, I was that petrified… It was the first time I had ever come face to face with a cow and these guys are big!!!…. Well you just don’t get to see cows when you live on a council estate in London!!!

We will have been at Woodland Springs Touring Park for 2 weeks come this Sunday, we have found the owners Chris and Jan to be lovely, they have been both friendly and helpful, and have also helped patiently with my parcels. The park is an adult only site so there’s no children running around, the facilities here are clean, heated and to my delight there’s a hairdryer available, there’s other things I really love about this site too like the fact there’s total recycling, even any leftover food waste has its own recycle bin (although Toffi usually finishes off any leftovers we have), but I think being environmentally aware is really important, and it helps minimize our overall impact on the environment, it’s nice to see site owners realising how environmentally and cost efficient recycling as much as possible also is, there’s also no bright or intrusive overnight lighting here either which again is great for the environment, wildlife and overall countryside… the site definitely benefits from being without any of the garish lights glaring out from everywhere and obscuring the sights of the stars in the night sky,  so with the place being free from light pollution you really get to see the sky at night clearly here, just remember to bring your torch though in case you need to go out after dark…

The site benefits from being a really peaceful and what I would call a tranquil getaway site, its located in the middle of Dartmoor with lots of surrounding places to go visit, we aim to happily stay here until after the Christmas period.

The site also has washing machines and tumble dryers available at a reasonable cost and free to use iron and ironing board…

The tariff here is £23.50 per night but Pete pointed out the special deal here that is 7 nights for the price of 5 this brings the daily tariff down to £16.78 per night for us therefore bringing it back into an affordable and reasonable price range that is acceptable for us… the site also has seasonal pitches available if you are looking for a seasonal pitch.

We went on a visit to Exeter city to see what hand made goodies the Christmas market stalls had to offer and took a stroll through the city trying desperately to get myself into the Christmas spirit, for various reasons Christmas is not always such a great time for me, but this year I have decided to try to feel just a little bit Christmassy and Pete has even purchased a small Christmas tree for us to have in the caravan, and I even bought us advent calenders (any excuse for a bit of chocolate)!!!

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Today once the rains had eased off a little we decided to get out and take Toffi out for a nice stroll, we visited Stover Country Park, it was a crisp cold day but it was a lovely muddy woodland and lake walk and so very scenic…

After our walk we dropped into Trago Mills where I purchased a bucket of 50 fat balls for the birds and quickly looked for some new wellies, Trago didnt have my size in the wellies I needed so going to have to order them from the internet, hopefully the site owners here forgive me for all my package deliveries!!!

May you all take the time to visit many of the lovely Christmas markets around at this time of the year… until next time take care

Donna x

Woodland Springs Touring Park 7 nights for price of 5 @ £117.50 per week (£16.78pn)        GPS 50° 42.302 N 3° 51.099 W  or locate the park via postcode EX6 6PG

Dartmoor – The heart of Devon

We’ve been busy since being at The Dartmoor Halfway Inn campsite, we’ve been on some great walks and seen some amazing Tors, we’ve celebrated the dogs 7th birthday, oh and also our 5th wedding anniversary.

 

 

We were booked in here until the 25th November 2018 so we’d had a good 2 weeks to explore the area, Firstly we took a trip to Berry Pomeroy Castle apparently if you believe in such things the place is supposed to be heavily haunted, to me it just looks like a once stately home, like many others gone to ruins, I didn’t see or hear any ghosts although as a non believer I may be slightly biased… it was owned by the Seymour family (by Jane Seymour’ brother) who then extended the castle in the 1500’s but by the 1700’s the castle was dismantled to such a degree that no one else could ever live there… the castle itself was closed the day we visited, but the grounds were open although we had to be careful what direction we took as a wild fowl shooting hunt was also in progress here, so amongst the frightened screeches of the pheasants being forced from the comfort of the undergrowth and relentlessly hunted, the grounds still seemed an attractive place to be surrounded in all directions by the autumn colours and scattered leaf covered woodland pathways.

 

 

We hiked up Haytor, I say hiked as we’d ignored the car park nearest to the Tor which made the walk longer and steeper than it needed to be, and although Haytor isn’t really a massive walk I thought I may still have had a heart attack by the time I made it to the top, however the views from here were fantastic, so it was worth the struggle.

 

 

After our hike at Haytor we then visited Widecombe in the moor where we found a BBC film crew filming a new series called “Gold digger” apparently its out next July, after a short walk around the village that’s famous for Uncle Tom Cobley and his Widecombe fair and friends we had a nose around in the National trust gift store (full of gorgeous locally handmade goodies) we voted to go have a pint in the pub down the lane called “The Rugglestone Inn” what a lovely quaint little country pub this is, apparently the food is very good here but we couldn’t say as it was nearly afternoon closing time when we managed a cheeky pint here…

 

 

 

We then did the Little dartmouth coastal walk, this walk is amazing, but again I struggled walking uphill and being lazy I prefer more level walks and cursed the adventure whenever it took an uphill stretch, but again what sights and views we were treated too, plus there were very few people around which was an absolute joy for Toffi as it meant a little more freedom for her…

 

 

It was Toffi’s 7th birthday so we took her to a place called Parke where the National trust run a stately home here and which again of course was shut upon our visit but the grounds were open to visiting and we took a stroll around the lovely parkland where Pete declared he had found this years Christmas tree for us and where Toffi got to have zoomies around with not a care in the world on her special day, she got to run around in the long and short gass then have a good old nosey around in the soggy smelly marshland… obviously this type of run is just heaven to any dog!!! Afterwards we took a quick stroll along Totnes river…

 

 

Next was a trip to Hound Tor, we found ourselves here on a very cold but crisp clear day, after driving with the intention of visiting Becky Falls which disappointingly we found to be closed… so on we drove until we spotted Hound Tor and figured we would take a stroll up there instead, if you’ve never been before and you like exploring Tors this one is a must… it’s quite a forgiving walk and again with stunning views across Dartmoor, most of the Tor is very climbable even by novices like me, the stones are marvelous, and we found a lot of letterboxing containers up here, so again a popular pass time if that’s your thing this seems to be a very popular place for it…

 

 

On our way back to camp we decided to see what the shop we’d spotted earlier called the House of Marbles was all about… once inside we found again lots of gorgeous handmade goodies for sale here also with a department dedicated to glass blowing, a museum and also there’s lots of gifts and as the name suggested, marbles for sale!!!

We’d been at The Dartmoor Halfway Inn campsite for 2 weeks and for the most part the place seems fine on the whole the gardening is good and well kept with the privacy hedges well trimmed and kept in great condition and the grass is kept well etc the toilet blocks are very well decorated, heated and clean enough, the showers are lovely, powerful jets and piping hot water which is great at this time of year I think a lot of campsites don’t realise the temperature of the water in their showers need to be very warm at this time of year…

But there are some minor irritations here on camp such as the security barrier just didn’t work for us for the first week we were here which meant we had to phone up and get them to lift the barrier every time we came home from an outing.

Although the toilets were really nicely decorated there is a lack of toileting facilities here with only one toilet and 2 showers in the females shower block and again just one toilet and 2 showers in the males block for the whole of the campsite other than one toilet and shower in the disabled bathroom so when the campsite is busy which it tended to get at weekends, it just wasn’t acceptable for people to be queuing to use the toilet, there’s 20+ hard standings, plus numerous tent pitches on site.

 

 

Other facilities here include washing machines, but take my advice and just do not bother wasting your time or money using them, they charge here by time and using these worked out extremely expensive considering £1 per 20 minutes for example a cotton wash/hot wash if you needed it is 3.5hours, I shall let you work out the shocking total you’d spend for just one hot wash!!)…

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I was left pretty peeved and it felt like daylight robbery after paying for 2 rapid 30 minute washes which I don’t really like doing, but figured it wouldn’t hurt this one time,  I was unwilling to pay for the much longer washes here, so once the washing was finished I put the freshly washed and spun loads into 2 seperate tumble dryers, imagine my sheer anger when after 80 mins and spending well over £10 in drying cost later the washing was still just as wet as when I had put it into the dryers, I was livid if I’m truthful, I approached the reception and told the staff, the manager was busy at the time probably a good thing, but the staff agreed that having by this time used at least £14 in the laundry, wasted most of my day and still finding my clothes after more than 80 minutes in the dryers to be just as wet as when I started was just not acceptable, but even when I did finally get to chat with the Manager it didn’t help with my feeling of anger, she was pretty nonchalant about my complaint and told me she hadn’t encountered any issues from other campers regarding the performance of the machines (I doubted this to be true to be honest as I’d observed in the last 2 weeks even the long termers here just don’t use the washers or tumble dryers… at that cost who could blame them!!! I proudly remained calm smiling politely on the outside (yes my friends would also wonder what was going on, I’m not known to be the most patient or pleasant person when wronged!!!) but there i stood wondering if it was worth me getting angry in front of a pub full of people but instead I chose to remain calm and friendly and walked away whilst inwardly imagining all hell of nasty happenings instead!!!) we were left with no other option that day but to gather up our still wet washing and go find a laundrette that could actually save the day and get this washing dry before it started rotting, we found a lovely friendly and cost efficient laundrette in Chudley which then cost a further £4 to get the 2 loads dry, just wished I had done the whole job with some decently timed hot washes there instead (I worked it out it would have cost me just £10 to have fully washed and dried all of it here!!!) what may also not be apparent to some site owners is that using a cold/cool wash isn’t always what is needed by full timers, especially when you live in close quarters with a slightly adventurous smelly dog and if you also have OCD tendencies, you feel your washing needs more than just a dash of cold water and a splash of detergent to freshen and clean it… besides the fact that these washes are not even adequate enough most of the time to even dissolve the washing pod tablets so you end up with a sticky patch of partially dissolved plasticy washing tablet now stuck all over your clothes too… great…. trust me it’s just not such a hot look!!!

The Dartmoor Halfway Inn serves food all day, I can vouch for the cooked breakfast and thought they are fairly good value for money at £6 each, and with a large pot of tea between 2 (giving 3 cups each) they were really good and filling, being the week of our anniversary we thought we would treat ourselves and had an evening meal here too, in my opinion it just wasn’t such good value, reason being I had a turkey roast, and for afters I was given one small scoop of ice cream with a shot of espresso to put over it, Pete had fish and chips with an apple and pear crumble with custard for afters and we had a pint each the bill came to £47 now the presentation of my meal was lovely, but I had such a meager amount of turkey it was in fact ridiculous… there was a whole 2 small mouthfuls of turkey on my entire plate, but then to make matters worse there was mounds of this horrid tasting sausage meat stuffing type stuff, the veg and the jus however were lovely… also the waiting staff were lovely and attentive, question is would I pay £47 for a pub meal here again…?? perhaps ask me when I have calmed down over the laundry rip off dilemma!!!

Then I have to mention the road noise here which is to put it bluntly… extreme, the noise calmed down after midnight and would start getting busier again by 5am almost every day as the campsite is directly beside A383, the main road into Newton Abbot, although we enjoyed our time at this camp and the site fees were reasonable for the large, private feeling, fully serviced pitches at £16/18 per night I would describe this campsite as more of just an overnight stopover or as a motorhome pub stopover but the location was good for us to get out and about to visit different places in the area so its not one to be ruled out, Karen and Graham also came for a visit with us in the pub one lunch time so having the pub there was quite handy for visitors…

While driving around the area we encountered lots of travellers camped up in caravans, converted vans and horse boxes at the sides of the roads and some groups even in small fields and some near field entrances, all seemed to have been there sometime and I have to admit due to the price some of the UK campsites are charging lately I am more than tempted to join them all!!!

We left Dartmoor halfway Inn on the 25th and made our way to our next stop a campsite called woodland springs you can read all about our adventures here in our next update…

May you always find good laundry facilities… till next time,

Take care

Donna x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Site sitting in Cornwall

Well it’s been a while since I last updated the blog so hopefully you’ve made yourself a cuppa and got yourself all comfy for another good ole readathon… We arrived safely to one of our favourite CS campsites… Higher Lanhainsworth…

Now we’ve been coming back here repeatedly to this very site many, many times in the last fews years, it was the first campsite we visited when we first picked up our lovely Granduca motorhome… in fact this picture was taken on this very site at the start of our adventures in that very motorhome!!!

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Autumn is such a lovely season to be out and about in and the sunsets here at this time of year are magnificent and looking at the picture of Toffi she seems to remember this place too!!!!

We’d previously also spent a week here one New Years, where we found ourselves all alone on the site in good old UK freezing winter temperatures of -6°c, the memories we have of this little place are fantastic and I would highly recommend you book a visit, as I mentioned the site is a small CS (a Camping and Caravanning Club Certified Site) the site is clean, tidy and peaceful, and reasonably priced, it consists of 6 fully serviced hardstanding pitches and approx 10 grass pitches, in the last 2 years the owners have made improvements and installed Toilets and showers onto the campsite, there’s camp wifi available at a cost, along with tv points on the hardstanding pitches, the site is within walking distance of the local town of St Columb Major, where there are many shops, a hardware store, a coop, a post office, cash machine, hairdressers, library, laundrette and many more shops it also has at least 4 pubs along the towns length…

Well the last time we were visiting the Higher Lanhainsworth site we’d chatted with the owner James and told him of our newest venture – bespoke property/site sitting you can visit our website here at      http://someonesathome.com/      and wouldn’t you know it James realised he could really use our services as his family holidays were coming up, he’d been considering shutting the site down or keeping campers to an absolute minimum, but instead booked us up and here we found ourselves helping to keep Higher Lanhainsworth ticking over, allowing campers to still have the site and facilities available to them, our main deal was just to be a point of contact and be a presence on site, but we offered to keep an eye on the shower block etc and had agreed if we get bored we may do some odd jobs for them too… mowing of the grass, treating some woodwork and helping or dealing with issues that may arise while awaiting the owners return and for them to hopefully find the site upon their return in tip top condition!!! However due to us being fond of this site we made sure we went over and above the duties we kept the shower blocks and toilets spick and span daily (after all no one likes a dirty shower block), Pete kept himself busy and was eager to keep the grass down to a manageable length he was out cutting grass in the pouring rain after ignoring my advice that it was going to pour down with rain any minute… he was adamant and carried on regardless… I found it hilarious and obviously Pete couldn’t lose face and stop midway so he carried on,  by the time the poor bloke had finished he was freezing cold and wet right through… Toffi and I remained toasty and warm inside watching from afar…

While here we took the odd day out so that cabin fever didn’t take over completely and drive us into insanity, we visited the nearby town of St Columb Major for convenience food shopping, and laundry services and where we also ate a Sunday lunch in the ring o bells pub washed down with a well earned pint, next we visited a place called Rock where we  strolled along the long beach with a view looking over the waters to Padstow, you can also get a water taxi for £4 over to Padstow from here, we also visited Truro where we shopped and treated ourselves to a few essentials, our next visit was to Wadebridge where we met a lovely old chap in the small museum there, he showed us his own mothers old shopping list/book and ration books and gave us a great quiz to complete relating to old currency… It did take us a while but we managed to solve the puzzles it was a lovely visit and the people were lovely and very friendly.

St Columb Major

Our next visit was to Newquay I actually hadn’t visited here for about 20+ years it’s good to see the place just hasn’t changed much at all, then on our last day here we visited the lovely Perranporth beach, all these places are well worth visiting if you are holidaying in the locality and although we had lived in Devon for over 30+ years many of these places we hadn’t been to in so many years, so now we were seeing them with different eyes… I have to admit my favourite visit though was Perranporth beach a superb, clean sandy beach with the sand dunes in the background to explore, what a treat!!!

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Perranporth

Cornwall has always been a favourite place of ours to escape too, so we always thoroughly enjoy our time here, If you get the chance visit Cornwall it’s such a beautiful place to explore!!!

That’s all until next time, take care

Donna x

Higher Lanhainsworth Coords N50°26’33” W4°55’45”  £15 per night fully serviced hard standing pitch

“Ain’t no sunshine anymore”… Thx to Callum!!!

We visited the late Victorian country house “Lanhydrock” on Wednesday 26th September, Lanhydrock is a lovely stately home with 910 acres comprising of large gardens and even larger woodland area to adventure around, I was sent in to view the house and learn some history of the place while Pete and Toffi pottered and relaxed around out in the yard,  Truth being Toffi isn’t allowed into these places so her and Pete  have to wait for me to have a good old nose around… I mean just look at that gatehouse!!!

 

I loved the fact there were 2 National Trust employees/volunteers dressed up in suitable attire a man dressed and suited up as the Butler, and a lady walking around in a lovely floaty skirt with a long sleeved high neck blouse with whom I had a lovely chat, she looked fab I could just imagine doing her job and walking around in the dress code of the day, interacting with people and chatting along with them regarding what it would have been like living and working at the house in the past, I think it really helped bringing the house alive and helps the history become more evident, unfortunately though my photograph of the lovely woman certainly doesn’t do her or her attire any justice at all due to the lighting!!!

 

The house suffered a devastating fire in one of the wings of the house at some point in its history and was repaired and restored.   The childrens rooms felt a little creepy but to be fair it’s probably just those really creepy looking dolls sat on the furniture making it feel that way!!! further on into the house I came to a large Gallery room where the ceiling was stunningly decorated with great detailed plasterwork… I seriously considered laying down on the floor just to look up at this highly decorated ceiling without cricking my neck muscles, on the day we visited in this room and to great effect, Simon Arnold was sat playing at the piano, he was raising money for repairs to the fantastic Piano’s in the National Trust’s care and I must admit the sounds of such entertainment that day brought the whole room back to life!!!

After my stroll around inside the grand house I came out to find a rather hungry and thirsty Pete and Toffi, but crikey £14 for 2 small pasties and a drink each, although I must admit the pasties were pretty tasty but what is going on with some places and their pricing they just seem so ridiculously expensive, it’s like they are purposely over pricing themselves which in time will just lose them plentiful business…

So while we are chatting about cost I must make a point of the costs some of the campsites in this area are currently charging… and just for comparison Dolbeare a 5* campsite cost us a very reasonable £98 a week (hard standing with elec/water) and their winter charge will soon come down to a great price of just £58 per week from start of October onward until the end of February other than the Christmas and new year weeks, this is a really good winter rate and it showed as the camp was constantly busy with custom, again bare in mind this is a 5 star campsite, this camp is very well kept, has great security with card entry security barriers and cameras etc, they have great wardens & staff, the park is spotlessly clean, with spacious shower cubicles, underfloor heated shower rooms with free to use hair dryer etc…

Now compare with the camp we went to next which was called Compton Park where we were charged a huge £20.50 per night, working out to be whopping £145.00 per week… Yep you heard that correctly £145 per week even in the now off season… compare that value with others and it’s very expensive, and sadly I feel at present it’s far too expensive for what value/service it gives, the place isn’t what I would call a campsite but more an overpriced aire… Now the only reason we paid this price was because we needed to stay nearby in the area for Pete’s mums birthday as they literally live a couple of minutes drive from here and also to allow us to catch up with other people…. the pitch lengths are far too short and the caravans overhang the pitches by quite a length leaving the vans slightly vulnerable to being bumped by others while maneuvering, the layout of the site is a little strange with just one emptying/filling point of which both are too far away… there’s 18 pitch spaces, no wardens, there’s also very little security here, there were many, many comings and goings at the camp while we stayed here and sometimes these were at some very, very odd or unsociable hours which could be a little unsettling for some, at Compton Park there’s no security barrier which meant anyone could drive up, approach and come up onto and enter the campsite with no one to question them, our visitors certainly tested this theory out, we had at least 5 different sets of visitors while there, but it’s a bit unsettling watching all the cafe customers heading up onto the campsite in their cars then realising they’d taken a wrong turn so circling around the site noisily on the gravel, turning, before heading back down to the cafe car park, we were here for 2 weeks and to be honest I was glad to leave by the end… the place just gave me an overall unrelaxed feeling, and for the money we were paying I would like to have felt safe and relaxed.

For our first week here there was also heavy building work going on at the main family house with heavy machinery moving rubble and earth around to and fro, dumping all waste down the unused mineshaft that’s also on the site, so ok there was lots of noise and heavy machinery movement during the day (we weren’t pre warned about these works and this went on from Sunday until the Friday so for a good 6 days of the first week)… then on the Monday of the 2nd week I was awoken around 7am by workers I gather from the cafe filling the glass bottle recycling bin up with many, many empties, nice!!!

The walk from the campsite to the renowned Kitt hill turned out to be downright dangerous… the shortcut that used to run from the camp and over two fields then onto Kitt Hill itself has apparently been closed off and from what I have been told this was due to the farmer having issues with off lead dogs which is totally understandable, and down to irresponsible dog owners not obeying the country code, but this inconvenience now puts the campers in big danger as you now have to walk down along a rather busy country lane with fast moving traffic,  many cars were speeding while using it some of which came scarily close to striking us…

The showers were another of my gripes at that site and although the wooden shower huts looked good and were kept clean, warm and tidy enough,  once you’re in the shower cubicle the shower heads were non-adjustable, so with me being just 5 foot tall it meant the shower water jet hurls at full force directly into either the back of my head or a direct hit straight into my face & therefore directly into my eyes, there’s just no chance of getting out of the way of this water jet as you’re confined into the small square shower cubicle… Plus to add insult to injury my full bottle of shampoo and a full bottle of shower gel went missing here after I accidently left them in one of the cubicles… wow, yeah, how desperate is that right? stealing other people’s hygiene products, yep pretty low… It’s tempting on sites when this happens to “accidentally” leave behind a shampoo bottle that’s actually filled with hair removal cream, it’d be pretty easy to find the culprit on site when you see whose luscious locks suddenly disappear in clumps… I must admit it was pretty tempting!!!

Now don’t get me wrong the place also had its upsides as mentioned before on a good clear day what a view and the on site cafe is very popular with the public we ate there ourselves 3 times, the fry ups here are great, a good price and were very tasty, the roast dinner I had was good but I had to have a desert as I was still hungry after eating it, which I didn’t expect, I am usually satisfied after eating a main meal… but I also had another meal here of ham, egg and chips this time to be honest it wasn’t very pleasant at all the chips were dry and stone cold, but I can however vouch for the fudge sundaes… they are the best!!! the camp had washing lines for your use but much to my surprise… no washing machines… we then had to source a laundrette, not a problem we thought according to google there’s a laundrette just around the corner in Kelly Bray… but boy was I in for a surprise what a dump those laundry facilities there were, they were filthy, the washing machines were either broken, smelly or to be fair just not at all clean, the tumble driers had grease and oil residue on the inside of the drums from mechanics washing and drying their work gear here…. the next laundry we found in Callington was much better and much cleaner!!!

So getting back to the subject of the overall cost at Compton Park campsite due to the above, I honestly don’t deem this site good value for money, it’s a pity really as we could have been repeat business but seriously at £20.50 per night even in the off season, for this price I would expect much, much, much more from a campsite.  Before we set off to Europe we were staying at some fab campsites mostly ranging from between £8-£12 per night… no wonder motorhomers and caravanners all set off to Europe for months at a time… where they can pitch on 5* campsites with all the trimmings for €10pn (approx £8.70) along with further discounts for longer stays, plus enjoy some sunshine, on site swimming pools, entertainment etc… at this rate we shall have to go back into a brick building after all I can book nights in the Hilton hotel cheaper and even book a fortnights holiday abroad for the same price some of these UK campsites are starting to try to charge, I am seriously thinking some UK campsites are getting a little ahead of themselves and over pricing themselves out of customers it’s not like they all have great facilities like clubhouses, daytime/evening entertainment, child care, swimming pools etc, etc… to put it simply… since when was it acceptable for campsites to charge you the same as a room at a hotel??? I realise the owners need to make money but let us all be realistic at most of these sites all the camper is paying for is possibly small amount of Electric, an amount of water and sewerage use, and then to park up for the night… charge me fairly or I change my lifestyle and go to the Hilton or on long cruises/holidays instead!!!

So enough of my whinging, and of course taking advantage of all these early mornings we’d been getting, we have been really busy getting out and about, we visited Dupath Well Chapel, well we drove down some lanes expecting a really good walk to the little chapel but it was just metres from the road through a farmyard using a public right of way path, quite a quaint little place with a fabulous little story of 2 Saxons fighting for the hand of a fair maiden!!! The Chapel was built approx 1500’s… and the water from the well is said to cure whooping cough but looking at it I wouldnt say its quite fit to drink from lately!!!

 

The next visit was to Buckland Abbey where again using the National Trust membership I got to go inside and nose around Sir Francis’ past home, while Pete and Toffi enjoyed a gentle stroll in the grounds, while inside I found the display for Sir Francis Drake’s “The world Encompassed” displayed throughout the building, along with an art display of a Beautiful sparkly huge Egg shaped structure aptly named “The art of reflection” by Andrew Logan inside the Abbeys Barn, a place where the monks used to come to meditate, pray and reflect…

 

 

 

Our next outing was to Cheese Ring quarry at the village of Minions,  we walked to the Hurlers, which are actually standing stones placed in circles dating back from 1500 BC, we then walked to the cave house where a man called Daniel Gumb had lived with his family in the cave in the year 1735 when we reached this point we sat and had a picnic on a very foggy, moody looking but very beautiful Bodmin Moor at one point the fog came in pretty hard and we could barely see a few metres in front of us at a time, it’s typical of how changeable the weather can be upon Bodmin and other moorlands…

 

The day of Pete’s mum’s 80th birthday arrived and as a lovely birthday treat we asked her and her husband Malcom to join us for a traditional afternoon tea at their favourite hotel in Tavistock, the “Bedford Hotel”, we all gorged ourselves on cheese/ham/Salmon finger sandwiches, followed by cream teas… scones, strawberry jam and clotted cream… closely followed again by lemon drizzle cake, chocolate brownies and ginger cake along with several cups of tea to help wash it down… it was a wonderful afternoon enjoyed by all and I am still amazed that Val (AKA… Pete’s mum!) seriously doesn’t even look near her new age and still looks absolutely amazing!!!

We moved on again on the 7th October and we were then situated in Oakhampton for 8 nights, where we were on a great lovely looking campsite called “Appledore” Touring park, the site was once a working dairy farm, so here you are looking out at rolling green fields, there’s a lovely pond at the bottom of the campsite which means there’s a lot of nature and wildlife around, I sat and watched foxes, Rabbits, saw wild song birds and lots of Pheasants going about their days.

The campsite also has some other good facilities, apparently there’s under floor heating in the shower rooms (although every time I showered the floor was stone cold with no signs of the advertised under floor heating, so I would need to question this!!) the showers again are sensor controlled which really help with water and energy consumption, the site looks really lovely with the gardens, lawns and greenery so very well tended too etc and the site itself looks absolutely fantastic, but disappointingly the shower floors and drains in the toilet/shower block were all rather dirty, with clumps of slimy hairballs clogging in the long drain grills running along the back wall of the shower cubicles and with the shower cubicle floors also feeling really slimy and rather grubby underfoot (my advice would be to wear flip flops here at all times!!!) there seemed to be no one taking care of or cleaning the toilet/shower block here and they were not touched or cleaned for the whole 8 nights we were here, upon chatting to the campsite owner she seemed surprised the site wasn’t busier at such a lovely time of year,  it should have been busier because yes it’s a lovely looking site and should have been buzzing with campers, but to be fair I’m also really not surprised that people just aren’t willing to pay these over inflated UK prices for camping anymore and then to add insult to injury be given scruffy, dirty toileting facilities, the camp is yet another trying to charge (even with an out of season discount) £18/20 per night… it does make me chuckle, and for a proper campsite it’s certainly not an acceptable standard of hygiene within the toilet blocks, jeez we may be campers… but we do also have standards… again back to my whinging for those sort of prices I myself would rather go book myself into a clean hotel and have someone else wash my bed linen and clean up after me or book myself a plane, ferry, tunnel and go abroad for better quality, pricing, value and the bonus of mostly better winter weather, this it would seem is what most of us are now doing instead of paying these stupid prices… but on the plus side there was a hair dryer here (at 20p for 3 minutes), and also a washing machine at £3 a load but if you use the washing machine be prepared for each wash load to take nearly 3 hrs, much to Toffi’s delight though there was a large fenced in lovely dog walking/free running dog exercise area, plus the site even has a doggy shower for it’s canine guests, how cute is that!!!

We found field mushrooms growing on our pitch here, so rather than see them going to waste we picked the mature ones, doubled checked their ID and had mushroom omelette for tea, we’d also seen what looked like red currants growing around here… Pete took a taste, nope they were actually guelder rose berries… I did chuckle as Pete had rushed in to taste them before we were completely sure of their ID… with Pete spitting the berries out with vigor, it became clear they were definitely not red currants… according to Pete these berries tasted pretty nasty,  dont worry the berries he ate was not toxic in such small amounts and he is still fine, thankfully!!!

Appledore campsite is set beside what what at times is a fairly busy road so the site suffered with a certain amount of road noise and sadly no chance of walking along the road or even in the private fields surrounding the camp, the road noise on week days seemed to start at 6.30am, so again no layins for us… the start of the week we had good/fair weather so on a fine and sunny Autumn day we were looking to take Toffi for a good long hike, the campsite provided some long walk ideas along also with a map of the walks and where to go to start the walk and what routes to follow, so off we set to take on some of the Tarka trail and to do a round walk of apparently 4 miles through woodlands, following the Tarka trail alongside the river and then up across Dartmoor where we headed towards the Tors Pub obviously we just had to have a reward of a cheeky pint and something to eat each once we reached the pub, before then walking another mile back to where the car was parked…

 

The weather changed and in came storm Callum the winds were sometimes up to 70 mph gusts, at some points we felt like the caravan was going to end up being blown over and we were being buffeted around inside the caravan surrounded by the sound of a very nasty storm outside which lasted for days….  Once the storm started to subside we found ourselves suffering cabin fever and really needed to get ourselves out and about, so we attempted to visit a National Trust place called Castle Drogo, I was looking forward to visiting a castle with such a fabulous name, with a name like that it sounded like something out of the Game of thrones, but when we got there it seemed the castle was currently undergoing renovations and was surrounded by scaffolding and wrapped in tarpaulin, it would seem the castle had leaked since the very day its construction had been completed and the building was now being taken apart brick by brick to try to solve the issue,  so instead we decided to walk the hunters path towards Fingle bridge, the day was still a bit wild and still pretty windy and along the walk there were plenty of trees down after the bad weather of the previous days, but we were all glad to have just got out and about after being in the midst of a heavy storm for the last couple of days and nights… we also nearly came face to face with a wild deer along the aptly named hunters path…

 

Soon it was time to move onto Newquay where we shall be site sitting for the next few weeks at one of our favourite little CS sites…

For now I think I’ve made this blog post long enough, I just haven’t had chance to update weekly so here you have pretty much a months worth of updates all in one go… enjoy!!!

Take care for now…

Donna x

 

Devon & Cornwall

Devon and Cornwall are such beautiful, wild and wondrous parts of the UK and we have both been so lucky to have lived here abouts for the majority of our lives, this being after our families moved here from the big smoke when we were both youngsters, we are both pretty grateful for the past hard decisions that our families had made back in the day when they decided to call the South West home…

 

 

 

After a refreshing week near Newquay at Higher Lanhainsworth, St Columb Major, we were back at Dolbeare Park, Landrake, where we stayed until Sunday 23rd September.  We have been enjoying being back in such a stunning part of this country and when we could we were going out for visits to places we had forgotten existed and that were nearby and all around us.  It’s true that people tend not to appreciate the area they are from or where they live their everyday lives, there is so much out there surrounding us so we are hoping to get out and about much more locally where ever we are able to enjoy the beauty around us especially while here in the west country.

It looks like we shall be touring the UK for the foreseeable future so we have also decided to join the “The National Trust” for the year this was pretty much decided after we visited the nearby Cotehele House and Mill which is just a few miles from our current location where we enjoyed a day out and a lovely walk on a brisk late summer’s day,  Our decision to join the charity was based on the fact that the car parks themselves cost £3 just to park in each time, we took a stroll with the dog through the woodland, we approached Cotehele Water Mill and found the entry cost to that to be approx £12 per person for non members and that members not only enter these places for free but also park for free, so that afternoon out for us would have cost us £27 just in entry fees and car park fees alone…. there are some lovely places to visit and it is Europe’s largest conservation charity, such a fab thing to support (well for this year anyway not sure if we could afford it every year though), we did kind of gulp when we heard how much membership cost… £114 per year it means this will be our main charity donation for the year but to be fair we will be gaining some great experiences from it, not to mention a lot of motorhomers take up membership just for the car parking access alone… we have made a pact that we make sure we get our money’s worth this year and visit as many National Trust places as we can, with hopefully one place visited at least each week if we can!!!

So our first outing this week was to Cotehele Water Mill as mentioned above, an actual  working & producing Water Mill, the grounds of Cotehele House is a charming place with a few lovely wooded pathways for walkers to choose from, Toffi and ourselves enjoyed a lovely walk through the wooded paths and along the stream to the working Mill, it wasn’t an overly exuberant walk being a fairly level walk, we also saw a sweet fairy door on one of the trees along the way, after a look around we walked back towards the car park and headed into the cafe where we refreshed ourselves with our first cream tea since our return to Cornwall at the cafe, this was slightly disappointing not only due to the price of £12 but due to the actual size of the measly bite sized single scone we were served each and then to make matters worse I was then even more disappointed with the fact that the cream for the cream tea was served in a plastic one use pot, yes plastic it’s still one of my pet hates, but I was stunned and speechless to have the cream tea served to us in this way by a “conservation” charities cafe it seemed awfully Ironic to say the least…

 

 

 

 

Our next outing that week was to the grounds of Anthony house a stunning 18th century Stately house, the Carew family have apparently resided on these grounds since the 15th century, (although I am not so sure this is strictly true as I used to go to school with a lad whose Surname was Carew and he resided on the same council estate as us…) well just for the thrill of it on our outing here we just had to take “afternoon Tea”… there’s a lovely cottage cafe here, (I just loved the way I’ve put “afternoon tea” it sounds so very posh when I read it back to myself using Joanna Lumley’s voice in my head, I imagined myself being one of the “Ladies of the manor” back in the day obviously dressed in suitable attire walking the grand grounds and being served afternoon tea upon my return!!!), anyway the “afternoon tea” consisted of sandwiches with a pot of tea and a huge slice of cake (Pete was very taken and entertained by the sugar cube picker as you can all see!!!) but this lunch then also set us back another £22 and all this before we’d even taken our walk through the wooded pathways…the only thing I will say is that I think it may work out much cheaper for us to start taking our own “afternoon Tea” with us in the form of packed lunches and flasks instead of paying those sort of silly lunch prices on each trip out…

 

 

On this walk the pathways were running parallel to the river Lynher, and upon the wooded walk we found the ruins of a lovely old dovecott… and also got ourselves slightly lost in the wooded area, Toffi even enjoyed a dip in the river and loved the walk too as we didn’t see another person or dog during this entire woodland walk…

 

 

 

We enjoyed a relaxing evening meal with Karen and Graham in their local the “Who’d have thought it” pub which was lovely, and then on the Friday evening that week Karen and I enjoyed an evening in, all cozy inside our new caravan where we enjoyed a curry and catch up, while the “boys” Pete and Graham escaped our company and enjoyed an evening of music together in Plymouth…

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Pete and I also enjoyed an afternoon meal at the “crooked Inn” pub this week where I got to enjoy their lovely lasagne once again, while Pete enjoyed their king prawn Linguine which was basically better quality and also cost so much less even than the lunches we had sampled at the National Trust cafes and the lunches there filled us up completely for the rest of the day… all washed down of course with a cheeky pint each…

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We’d also enjoyed many more local walks with Toffi and for the first time ever we actually walked just down the road from Dolbeare Park and into Landrake village, where there are cottages dating all the way back to 1520, disappointingly though the pub was shut no cheeky pint for us that day…

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One Sunday afternoon we also ventured back to yet another old haunt “The Lyneham Inn” pub for one of their honest and very well priced pub grub the good ole Sunday Carvery, I am now at the point where I may need to start thinking of dieting and shedding a few pounds before anymore eating out, I say this after successfully making and eating a great apple crumble for our dessert/supper for Sunday evening in our new caravan oven… I seem to be bingeing on some foods I haven’t had all year but have craved massively right now and may have to rein that habit in before I put on too much weight!!!

We’d said a sad goodbye to our lovely motorhome… and yes, it was a soul destroying process… but it’s done now and we are on our way to enjoying our next adventure!!!

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So instead we welcomed our new car and caravan, what a difference in experience… neither of us ever having owned a caravan before… so it’s going to be an ongoing learning curve, but I must admit, so far it has been so much more of a comfortable more suited living space for us and thankfully we are thoroughly enjoying the experience, we also have a much larger oven which I am sure will come in handy… although I am already missing the large decent fridge freezer!!!

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We’d stayed at Dolbeare Park campsite in Landrake until Sunday 23rd September where thankfully they graciously tolerated our transition and change in modes of transport, we’d met some very lovely people while we were there and the wardens and staff were fantastic with us and I must say they worked very hard dealing with all the different types of campsite issues.

Soon it was time for us to up sticks and move ourselves along… besides we didn’t want to outstay our welcome at Dolbeare Park, so we decided to wander just a few further miles down the road and into Callington and then onto Compton Park campsite,  here the views are breathtaking and on a clear day you can see over land for miles and miles and miles…

We wandered up the road to a place called Kit Hill country park… from the top of Kit Hill you can see as far off across country as Plymouth and then the opposite view all the way to Bude… so all in all almost both coast to coast area views all from the tip of this hill amazing the land just seems to roll on and on for miles and miles… Kit Hill is a Cornish Tin mining world heritage site where some of the mines were worked right up until the mid nineties.   The land was given over to the public in 1985, this land consisting of 400 acres of land by the Duke of Cornwall, Prince Charles to mark the birth of his son Prince William.

 

 

 

Upon our walks we’ve been gathering the very, very last flush of edible blackberries that we could find to add to fruit crumbles, and it’s the season now where we are once again finding lots of mushrooms… remembering the Cep mushrooms amongst others we were finding this time last year in France, our new friends Zoe and Paul who we’d met at Dolbeare along with their lovely dog Max have also been helping us with the identification of some of the mushrooms we are currently finding and Paul has even shared some of his spoils with us in the form of lovely tasty chanterelles and hedgehog mushrooms…. cooked in butter these tasted devine!!! Here’s a small sample of the mushrooms we have spotted so far this year…

 

 

 

We’d had to go into Plymouth for an appointment early this Tuesday Morning so after we had finished we enjoyed a stroll along Plymouth Hoe stopping at the terrace cafe for a good old bacon sandwich and mug of tea each, we enjoyed seeing the place with fresh eyes and admiring all the lovely memorials and interesting things around us… along the hoe they have pillars with the names and birth dates of famous Plymouthians stretching from past to present had to take a shot of Sir Walter Raleigh’s post…

 

Upon leaving Plymouth after that fantastic walk we headed off to see Graham and again refreshed ourselves with a pint sat outside his local on such a lovely day it just had to be done… before we then headed off for home, we’d not been home 20 mins when we had a lovely surprise visit from an old workmate Gordon C. who taken a ride on his very, very  nice Ducati 785 when he realised we were just down the road so thought he’d pop in and say hello and grab a cuppa with us, what a lovely surprise it was lovely to see him and have a good chat, we certainly do miss our work family!!!

Well enough of my nattering, I’ll update you all on our next adventures when time permits…. until then here’s some more random pictures I have taken this week, take care.

Donna x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in good Ole Blighty

Well what a hectic time we’ve had since being back in the UK our feet just haven’t touched the floor, it’s been all systems go with lots of changes to organise & catching up with family and friends, typically for the UK the weather has been very wet and humid!!!

We stayed at Stonehenge Touring Park for 2 nights upon our return to the UK,  we thought it would be a fitting touch just to round it off here seeing as it was the first campsite that we stayed at, at the beginning of our Europe tour, so it seemed only fair to end it there too!!!

 

 

Once back in Plymouth we booked into our next stop Dolbeare Park which is just on the outskirts of Plymouth, well just across the water and in Saltash, Cornwall, the park here is lovely with friendly staff, the campsite is well tended to and is spotlessly clean, I have to mention the showers and washroom also which are spotless and have sensor controlled showers, with the temperature controlled by placing your hand over the sensors and again also to start the showers, how awesome is that??? the washroom also has under floor heating which will be lovely in the lower temperatures!!! The only bad thing at Dolbeare is that Toffi seems to have a major issue walking across so much harsh and sharp gravel, it really hurts her under foot perhaps more due to her having a deformed paw against the sharpness of the gravel the poor dog has been left limping across the stuff endlessly… when it’s time for walkies she’s now often refusing to walk across the stones full stop and is now practically being dragged across the stones to get outside the camp for mentioned walkies & toilet time!!!

As mentioned as soon as we landed back on UK turf we were busy… our search began for a suitable car and caravan, now I naively thought this was going to be great fun!!! boy was I in for a shock!!! leaving Pete to research roughly what type of 4×4 car we needed and what would suit our needs, Pete declared we wanted a Mazda CX5 AWD…  I had seen a white Mazda CX5 and I’d really liked the car in a white colour… but it turned out the white one wasn’t an “All wheel drive” which is what we needed, we then went on to source an AWD version of the CX5, we finally found one a 100 miles from Plymouth at a car sales garage called Carbase.

We drove up the 100 miles to view it, a gun metal grey colour, quite a nice looking car overall with a good towing ratio and with good reviews, the only thing I really hated about this car was the fact it had 2 totally different tyres on the back axle both with a different level of tread on each (one new tyre, one part worn tyre)… now I would usually replace both tyres on any axle back or front when one is needed to be replaced which is just something I was always taught to do ie helps for the cars handling etc and we’ve owned some pretty tasty fast cars in our time… so I pointed out to the showroom salesman the issue I had and asked if he could rectify this as it was literally just the tyres and I didn’t think it a good idea to have different tyres with different levels of tread across the same axles upon such a powerful 4WD car… they were not having any of it so guess we will have to get it new shoes!!!

After purchasing the car, picking it up and then having access to and reading the cars manual, I’m glad to see I was correct to pick this up and Mazda also strongly recommends in their manual that you should actually have all “4” tyres changed at the same time, due to user safety and the overall handling of the car, to ensure the cars ability to react in emergency actions which could be compromised otherwise… but hey what would I know right??…

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There were only a few of these cars for sale in the whole of the country and although my preference would have been for a white coloured one, we also didn’t fancy driving another 1000 miles in the rented Fiat 500 going all that way up and down motorways looking for another car, because although Fiat 500’s are a great fun little town car they are not the greatest to drive on long haul motorway drives and we also had the rental mileage to think about…  so yes… we now have our car…

Pick up completed and all the rest of the extras apparently worth hundreds, running into thousands that the sales team tried desperately to sell us all rejected, I got to drive the car the 100 miles back home, the car is actually very nice, and although I had agreed to follow Pete home… I got bored of following behind and waved as I passed him on the motorway…

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Now our week just seemed to get a little worse with regard to vehicles and dealing with yet more salesmen…  and my abstaining from Nicotine really didn’t seem like such a good idea at times, but I stuck to it anyway even though sometimes I feared I could have screamed with sheer feelings of annoyance and irritability, but, go me… I have managed to abstain now for over a month!!! all with the help of a book called “The easy way” by Allan Carr of which I would certainly advise anyone trying to give up this nasty habit to give this book a read…

We drove from Plymouth to Bristol then to Somerset, then somewhere else to look at more caravans but what an utter disappointment, I can honestly say it was starting to get downright depressing… the caravans we were viewing seemed really dirty and uncared for, I started to think we had really made the wrong decision to sell and swap over, we had driven hundreds of miles when Pete mentioned the towbar place in Plymouth Tamar Towing sold caravans also… so we decided to go check it out… the caravans they had up for sale were clean and were all kept under cover it was clear they only took on caravans that were in good condition too, we found a few here that tweaked our interest so thought we had better get some more info about them from their salesman…

Ok so after chatting with a salesman at Tamartowing we decided on one particular caravan they had on their shopfloor… A Sterling Eccles Sport 554 although we could have purchased it there and then we also enquired about a part exchange with the motorhome to make things easier rather than have to sell it privately… to be honest this process was to put it frankly utterly soul destroying and it certainly wasn’t helped by the salesman who was new to the job and clearly hadn’t a clue about caravans or motorhomes and hadn’t quite got the knack of any of it yet, he then made us wait in the salesroom for a whopping 6 hours… waiting for a valuation from a third party for our motorhome, all while giving me none of the info I had asked for regarding the caravan we were enquiring about… What a palava when we left their showroom that day we still hadn’t received the valuation or information on the caravan!!!

Well enough said about the rest of this process but lets just repeat the words “soul destroying” once again…  to cut a long story short the “Deal” now done we swap over and pick up our new caravan on the 6th September 2018… Also with another faff around thrown in what with changing private number plates etc…

When we got a chance we also threw in a visit to a site we’d visited when we first got the motorhome 2 years ago near Newquay it’s a small site called Higher Lanhainsworth I’m glad to say James the owner reported they had had a great summer this year and had been up until then fairly busy, although when we arrived gratefully we had the site to ourselves for the first few days, we were also pleasantly surprised by the improvements we had found and that the place now sported showers and a washing up facility which it hadn’t had before… we were totally prepared to rough it!!!

 

After a week there, which actually felt more like just a couple of days because it just passed so quickly, it was time for us to magically reappear at Dolbeare campsite we are trying to stay local for at least a matter of weeks still so family and friends may contact us and catch up if they so wish and we can transition to the caravan…

We have had some lovely catch ups with people so far, I also managed to get my haircut and just look at my new attire which the lovely Josie and Liam gifted me, obviously I shall now be strutting my stuff around the campsites and making my way to and from the shower blocks sporting these lovely new PJ’s… we had a meal with family at the Dock in Plymouth for Pete’s 60th birthday, also another lovely meal at The Weary Friar…

 

 

We are trying to plan our next few stays ahead of time, and between us we’d decided to stay for the next few stops for 2-3 weeks at a time while getting used to the caravan etc so we are trying to plan where we shall stay for Christmas, this believe it or not hasn’t been easy, I like to be organised and so I find it stressful when Pete throws in curve balls of other ideas all this after we had already agreed on things, and planned out sites to stay at for the next couple of months… typically he then has ideas about changing all our laid out plans, the problem with this is we really need to pre book somewhere for Christmas season and right now due to that curve ball we now have no idea whether to stay around the SouthWest as we’d planned for the Christmas winter season, or to grab ourselves a seasonal camp job to keep us occupied and settle for the winter or whether to just start touring the country anyway in the next few weeks, the only thing we do know for sure so far, is that we need to be in Yorkshire in February…

Perhaps we will update you all when we ourselves are more sure of our plans…. until then have fun…

Take Care

Donna x

 

Bergues and our return to UK

So we left camping La Samaritaine on Tuesday 7th August we stopped into reception to make sure we were all paid up and let them know we were headed off after a short walk for Toffi and so said our farewells… while we were on our last short walk reception had brought us down a leaving gift, a bag full of goodies, bottles of beer, wine and biscuits for us… how lovely of them… it really was a fab friendly site and I would highly recommend it especially for families with children, as the children that were holidaying there all seemed to be having a fab time, they had all made new friends it would certainly be the sort of holiday any child would remember…

 

 

But alas our time with them was up, we had been there a month and it had just flown by, we had enjoyed the food from the chippy on site and also had been ordering a whole roasted chicken every Sunday… we had really been looked after at this site, but now it was time for us to be moving on, we travelled 200 miles North to the town of Bergues, our journey took us approx 5 hours all in a blistering heat of 37°+ this made it a rather uncomfortable journey, with no air conditioning on board, the air cooling fan although on the correct cold air setting was just blowing warm air around at us… even putting a hand outside the window as we were travelling to cool down proved futile, the whole world seemed just one big bag of hot, hot air… the dogs struggles were made more bearable by the wet cooling towel that was lain across her (oh… lucky her!!!)… We had decided to take the toll roads just to make the journey quicker but this is not cheap in France and our bill for 90 miles was €45 and because of our height of 3.2m and towing a trailer we are classed as class 4… but I loved the faces on the bridges on one of the towns we passed through…

 

We arrived at our next destination very hot, tired, hungry and in need of an easy pitch up… but what we received was far from that… now we had booked the site more than a month in advance, they had plenty advance warning of the type of pitch and services we would require etc… so they knew we were coming and that we were in a larger rig… the place was packed but mostly with permanent static caravans and they must then have 20 pitches for motorhomes/caravans/tents… it would seem all the level pitches that would have been suitable to us annoyingly had either smaller VW sized vans or tents pitched up on them… which made me even more angry at the situation and more hot under the collar with the people responsible for organising the site…

Pete went to book in and told them in pigeon French that we were pre-booked, however no paperwork was filled in which is very unusual and I believe they didn’t understand a word Pete had said to them he was also told cash only when paying, smells like someone’s cooking the books,  he was then shown 2 available plots, 1 where we would have no electric (not what we had pre-booked!!) and still would have been awkward to get onto… the next was just as awkward to get into as well, due to the narrow passageway leading onto the plot and then with a large flowering plant planted smack bang in the middle of the plot entrance, the pitch also being massively sloping with soft bare mud ground underneath, but it did have electric… I had visions of us causing mass damage to ourselves just getting onto and back off the pitch… I was one unhappy bunny all I can say is it’s a good job Pete is dealing with the site managers and not me…

 

 

We managed to get onto the pitch with help from our neighbours, 1 British couple in a caravan who were also clearly not happy with their pitch and then with having a large motorhome maneuvering nearby close to their precious caravan and 1 lovely Dutch couple in a tent touring on a motorbike and who had been placed on a pitch which would have ironically been ideal for us…

Well we ended up on the pitch after a faff about but it was near on impossible for us to maneuver about on it… so we ended pitched facing downwards on the slope with our habitation door opening directly into a bush, we were parked at such a sloping level there was no chance of us getting our boiler or fridge to work on gas either… and after seeing the state of the dated and dirty toilet/shower facilities this just left me even more angry… but we are only booked here for 3 days, to allow us to get the dogs passport and worming treatment signed off by the local vets and allow her permission to travel home… so we’ll just have to deal with it…

When I suggested to the warden yesterday (Wed) that we move off this pitch tomorrow morning before the heavy rain begins, otherwise we could become stuck and would that be ok to sit ourselves on the tarmac he replied in Franglish to stay put and pointing at our tow bar “not to worry we will find someone in a 4×4 and pull you out if you get stuck”… I’m so glad he’s a problem solver but the only issue there is the small detail of how much weight our tow bar can safely bare… the fact our motorhome weighs in at 3.5 tonne/3500kgs and our tow bar can only take 1 tonne/1000kg in pulling weight, puts a slight spanner in the works of his problem solving ability, now this would probably be information that would blow his mind but how was I going to explain this in Franglish??? plus the fact we would really need to be on our way to the Channel Tunnel by 9am and not fannying around finding a 4×4 to get us out of a pitch we shouldn’t have been put in in the first place… I gave up and decided to stop wasting my time… just because there is a tow bar on a vehicle…. doesn’t mean you can safely use it to pull that vehicles weight backwards up a sloping grassy bank and out of a mud fest jam….

The leveling blocks have done very little for leveling out the motorhome and to be honest even before any rain has started the blocks are already sinking into the muddy pitch under our weight, not only that each time we move around inside it feels like we are drunk and are seemingly drunk stumbling from one end of the motorhome to the other,  to top it off we are due some prolonged rain the pitch is mostly dry mud at present which is going to be delightful when it gets wet… after 2 nights like this I was in despair… there is now a pitch free I have spotted that is suitable so with rain due to start in an hour I’ve talked Pete into getting us onto this other pitch and fast… we managed to move… all is good in the world again…

The permanent residents here amused me by being really nosy, and although they seemed friendly enough they all claimed to not speak English but seem to want to talk with you anyway and cleverly they seem to be able to understand what you are saying to them (even though you are speaking in English)… they come out in droves to watch you when you first pitch up or if you attempt to move again… I can imagine them all on their telephones curtains twitching while reporting back to reception, whom may I also add claim not to speak any English either and given my utter dangerous mood is probably for the best anyway… it’s almost like you must gain the permanent residents permission to do anything here… I do hope they have told reception that we have moved now, because by this time I couldn’t be bothered to try to explain myself again to them as well…

Now we did have somewhat of a surprise with Toffi and the vets appointment, we were dreading taking her in for her worming treatment, she is not a dog that is treat based and rarely takes anything offered to her outside of her home environment… especially something offered to her in a stressful vets surrounding, but I had picked up some different tasty morsels at a shop on our walk there and it seemed I picked those morsels well… Toffi was put on the scales and it would also seem she has not been sticking to her diet… her own Vet will be very disappointed by this fact upon her return but we will deal with that later, after all we have prove she’s even scaled a mountain or two on her travels this year…

The Vet offered toffi the all important worming tablet… ha… like it was ever going to be that easy!!!… nope Toffi just turned her back to her and stood waiting, looking for the doorway to be opened ready for her escape… this is where Chocolate eclairs come into their own, forget ham/cheese/meats we tried these… just go straight for chocolate eclairs… after the vet placed the tablet inside the cream of the eclair then passed it to me to offer to Toffi… a couple of rubs on her nose gave her the taste of sweet treat and I managed to get her to scoff the tasty thing right down her throat in one go…  yep even the vet was impressed… and probably quite relieved too!!! treatment done, Passport signed stamped and dated… Toffi just has to wait 24 hours then she can travel…

 

There is an upside from being at this campsite Vauban and it would seem to be that the town of Bergues right on the doorstep which is very nice, it’s a walled town originally built in or around the 10th century with parts of it that have been destroyed in various calamity’s over time such as wars, fires, floods, bombs etc and with much of it restored or rebuilt over time and ever since mostly remaining in sympathy with the old original style and old remaining parts, in all fairness it is a nice thriving town with old parts and ruins to explore along with its many canals, with gaggles of Geese and walks which suited Toffi…

 

While exploring we also came across what is known locally as the haunted house the Maison du Fort Lapin in Hoymille… now sorry guys but I don’t do the whole believing in ghosts thing… I just don’t believe in stuff like that now I don’t like to offend those who do but I just don’t believe in life after death/ghosts/spirits etc, so yes of course we had to explore the building and no we weren’t scared!!! apparently a young girl died here, drowned in the basement during a flood and then people have since tried to renovate the building and 2 workers were killed while working on the building so naturally many people are now scared of the place and refuse to go near it, and then those believers in dark happenings and ghosts etc have now given it the reputation of being a haunted house… I’m sure others would have made something creepy of the fact that a huge murder of crows were in flight that day over head, there must have been over 100 birds in this flock!!!

 

Soon the day arrived that we were to travel back to the UK, the morning of 10th August 2018… we set off early for our drive to Calais and to the Channel Tunnel, with not one migrant in view along the route, we arrived at the Channel Tunnel about 10am and went through all the customs checks etc p.s. customs absolutely love seeing a dog with a photo in their passport… I have to admit Toffi has got a very cute picture for her passport photo and they loved her calling her by her full name and making a fuss and blowing kisses to her through the window…

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the train we were booked on was due to leave at 11:50am but if they have the space the lovely staff will always try to get you on earlier trains if they can so we were on board a train by 10:40am and on our way for the 35 minutes journey through the tunnel back into the UK… and because the UK is 1 hr behind we were back on UK turf by 10.15am where we continued our 6hr Journey towards Stonehenge Touring park where we will stay for 2 nights before travelling further back down towards Plymouth, Stonehenge Touring park is the first campsite we visited after leaving Plymouth at the beginning of the tour just before we left the UK last year for the tour, so seemed fitting to stop over here to complete our circle of the Europe tour this year.

P.s please note the language of wood pigeons seems pretty much universal…

Take Care

Donna x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything Changes…

We have been at this campsite for 3 weeks now and wow I have just got to mention the extremely hot weather… the whole of Europe has it seems had a massive heatwave this year, the temperatures here in the last few days reaching up to 40°c converted this becomes a staggering 104°f  now those of you who reside permanently in hotter countries will probably just chuckle and shrug this off as pretty average… but for the likes of people like me acclimatised to cooler climates, this is a very unsuitable and uncomfortable temperature… did I mention us Brits are pretty much used to rain, damp and the cold, to us 18°/25°c are pretty good summer temperatures, the country becomes a pretty humid hot pot if we hit good weather summer months…. We mostly just don’t do well with extreme temperatures in fact I myself am pretty lousy with extreme temperatures either way hot or cold I suffer with super low blood pressure and extreme temps can lower that even more so I struggle, sweat or shiver with just normal minor temp changes….

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Well after struggling with the higher temperatures for several weeks now in the back of my mind I have been begging for the standard normal cooler UK weather… yes I hear you all thinking I must clearly be some sort of lunatic!!! but in the height of this heat I was actually resorting to sharing the dogs wet cooling towels with her and hugging a frozen hot water bottle!!! yep I actually got my hot water bottle out half filled it with water and I froze that bad boy!!!  You will never know quite how much I appreciated having a freezer in the motorhome at this point…. Although I did notice I was receiving some pretty strange looks from people who must have thought I was crazy to be carrying what appeared to be a hot water bottle around with me in this heat… I am thinking of looking up how to do a rain dance for extra relief…

The fire risk in Europe is very high at the moment and sitting in a crowded campsite with so many people having barbeques or burning citronella candles is also making me slightly nervous, I am surprised the site hasn’t told people not to use their barbeques right now, the family opposite us had their barbeque right up close to the separation hedge yesterday freshly lit with flames leaping from it and with someones caravan just a couple of foot away on the other side of the hedge… Amazing how people can be so complacent and lax about it right now especially after witnessing videos and pictures of the sad disaster of raging fires that took place in Greece just this week, there are fires breaking out it would seem everywhere as countries battle the intense heatwave and these fires are spreading so quickly with the dryness of the trees, shrubbery and land as a whole…  just today we heard that somewhere we had visited during our tour “Tarifa” is sadly burning badly right now as I type…

With all this talk of high temperatures within this blog post it leads me nicely onto info regarding your motorhome fridge/freezers the last few days I have seen several social media posts from people asking for advise as their motorhomes/caravans fridges/fridge freezers are struggling in this heat, now further conversations reveal these people tend to turn up their fridge thermostats to full in the hopes that this will compensate and help with the fridges performance, this in fact doesn’t help as it just makes the fridges work harder increasing the workload and forcing the fridge to work overtime… turn those thermostats down people ours is a dometic 3 way fridge freezer and currently roughly on the halfway point and our freezer is freezing my water bottles no problems… if you have a freezer make sure you fill it with frozen goods/pre frozen freezer blocks if you are only just starting the fridge up or just to help it maintain temperature and while on you want the freezer compartment to be almost full as it helps maintain the temperature a half empty compartment won’t be as efficient if you haven’t much food in it try filling it with something like a loaf of bread, a bag ice cubes or freezer blocks the rest of the way… it will help with the freezer temperature in the long run and also be much more economical…

Now at the risk of sounding like a meany or some miserable old person… let me be the first to admit I am not always the most maternal of women, it’s obviously the school holiday time… but I have noticed the clientele of campsites are much, much different during these busy times compared to the off season or year long, all weather clientele and than those we have grown used too over the last year, I have started humorously calling these people in my head “fair weather or part time campers”… The parents are clearly so much more stressed out during this time, which is of course unsurprising, but this also means so many of the stressed out people are far less friendly…  We’ve only had 2 families even say hello or have a chat in the last 3 weeks we have been here, but both of these families were may I add lovely with really pleasant children, one little girl with her little brother in tow came to ask if she could pet Toffi, with her Mother and father closely following also asking to make sure this was ok with us and in conversation telling us they had had a staffie as a family pet, of course Toffi was in her element and both children were very cute and aware of how to handle a dog correctly…

 

Toffi hasn’t really wanted walkies in this heat and to be fair it wouldn’t be right to walk a dog in this heat for the good of their own health, so apart from a the quick bathroom break walks during the day of no more than a few minutes she is walked when she wakes early before the sun fully heats the day and then in the evening when the heat from the sun is starting to ease we take a stroll and she gets to stretch her legs… the rest of the day she spends lounging in front of the fan (that in all fairness in this heat is just moving around hot air) with a cooling towel placed upon her belly in fact below is a rather fetching and sophisticated photo of her sporting and modeling said cooling towel…

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Luckily where we are at present there are small streams running alongside a tree shaded lane and the big lake has been more than handy as she’s been dipping in and out of these on her walks and gaining some relief from the heat… although she gave herself and us a scare the other day when she lost her footing at the edge of the lake and fell right in, Toffi is most definitely not a elegant water dog in fact her swimming ability is completely inept and lacking in any type of style, she definitely has absolutely no finesse while in water, at one point even her little head went under and she had the look of sheer panic in her eyes… yep we have to be constantly ready to jump right in and rescue her due to her inability to float…

Whilst on the campsite we can hear the sound of a local church whose bells ring out parts of the tune Frére Jacques a french nursery rhyme but we couldn’t work out entirely where the church was that was playing the tune, until one evening we took a walk down to the next tiny hamlet here of Bar de la Buzancy, a lovely quaint little hamlet the locals waved a hello to us as we passed by with us also disturbing some of the local dogs along our way through, taking a couple of little photos the time was 8.45pm and just as we were walking past the church there its bells rang out the very tune we had been hearing, surprisingly they were pretty loud, well loud enough to startle me as I really wasn’t expecting it to be from this church…

 

 

Brother John rhyme lyrics in French and English below:

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques
Dormez-vous, dormez-vous?
Sonnez le matines, sonnez le matines
Ding ding dong, ding ding dong

Are you sleeping, are you sleeping
Brother John, Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing
Ding ding dong, ding ding dong

 

After strolling through the hamlet it was time to find our way back and head back towards the direction of the campsite, as we were walking along the pathway 3 French Gitan/Gypsy families in their vans towing their caravans drove past us they all beeped their horns and waved at us and of course we waved back at each in turn, the French Gitan are so much more accepted and seem quite friendly, its really lovely and of course I was quickly full of humour, telling Pete I had now come to the conclusion that we were obviously fully accepted into the full time gypsy travelling lifestyle and community, Pete however said they were more likely only waving and beeping due to the fact we had Toffi with us, because of the breed of dog she is… after all she always seems to get lots of attention from everyone wherever we go and it seems to make it just so obvious that we are British travellers all this just from our choice of dog breed!!!

We then wandered down the road and came across the local graveyard by this time Toffi needed some water and there’s always water available in graveyard so in we wandered, while there looked around… well I never knew that that once you buy your plot your grave can be pre fitted and be ready & waiting for you to pass away and be put into it… maybe it’s normal but it seemed pretty bizarre to me and just a little creepy!!!

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This past week or so has been a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster for myself, I had to make the painful decision to hand my notice into my employer of nearly 2 decades, and to be fair it took a shockingly heavy toll on me… while working there I had made such good friends, which if I am honest, some of these people had become more like family to me than work colleagues over those many years…  I had already missed being in the company of many of them terribly over the past year of my sabbatical… and now had to face the reality of never working with them or perhaps not even seeing some of them again…

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Both Pete and I had worked for the same very well known International Corporation in well paid positions for the better part of our entire working lives… together we had racked up 45 yrs of working for this very company, so although we’ve survived well for the last year with me being on an unpaid sabbatical and without these wages coming in… it’s still a very scary thing giving up your employment entirely and moving on, especially when you have never known not being employed, we have certain incomes to live on and so far we have budgeted and managed well whilst living on the road… but we have thought of other ways we could perhaps earn extra income if we needed to, perhaps we shall look into these things further if need be or we shall just carry on living the dream and travelling as we have been this year…

I’d had a message from my brother telling me my mother had taken a rather bad fall and has broken her fema bone and is now laid up in hospital… I have spoken with her and she seems to be in good spirits, well as good as can be given the situation anyway!!! The doctors will know more on Monday of how they can proceed with treatment… I am really hoping for her that the bone can somehow manage to heal itself in a splint rather than have to be operated on as this very same leg that was severely injured in a motorcycle accident she was involved in many, many years ago… back when I was still a teenager… My mum has had so many operations on this leg in the past, that many that I have lost count of the exact number… so it would be awful for her if she had to have yet another… so I am keeping my fingers crossed for Mondays news!!!

We return to the UK in just over 2 weeks from now, where we will be catching up with family and friends and then looking into buying a suitable 4×4 vehicle for towing a caravan instead if successful maybe next year our travels will be with a car and caravan instead of a motorhome…

Enough of my miserable old person ramblings for today, we’ll see what tomorrow brings!!!

Take care

Donna x

 

The village of Buzancy in Ardenne!!

We arrived next at Campsite De La Chaume, a quaint nice little campsite that had a relaxed atmosphere and very friendly, helpful owners, the camp is placed beside a small stream amongst a small patch of woodland and nearby to the small town of Corcieux…..

 

 

We stayed here for 8 nights from the 30th June to the morning of the 8th July and to be fair we did very little exploring during this stay as the temperatures where a high 30°+ and our poor little Toffi was battling with the heat and pretty much unwilling to move far from the Endless breeze fan that seemed to be on constantly for her, with an added device of a wet dog cooling towel wrapped around her belly, although I have to admit I was pretty much enjoying sitting close to the fan with some cuddles thrown in too!!!…

It’s not wise to walk a dog in extreme heat and I certainly didn’t want her feeling unwell so chill time took over and we relaxed and allowed Toffi to determine when was and wasn’t a good time for walkies!!! We had purchased Toffi one of those gel filled cooling pads for her to lounge upon on sunny warm days but after her only using it a couple of times her claws had torn the outer material and the gel started seeping out from the inside… so I was glad that at the same time I had purchased the dog cooling towel which is much more hardy… I have no idea how these work but once wet down they remain cold to the touch and you either lay it across their belly or around their necks and I must admit it actually works a treat… she thoroughly loved it and happily laid with it over her belly keeping her nice and cool back at the motorhome!!!

 

We literally only managed to walk the short distance to the village on a couple of occasions during our stay, even then Toffi struggled on one of those trips… so we didn’t get many photo’s of the place as we were more concerned with keeping the dog cool in the streams along the way than we were with taking photos…

There we