“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