A little bit more of the Romantic Road – 18/5/2023

Waking on the Monday morning planning to stay another day at the Vineyard just outside Iphofen to buy some more wine and explore the area a bit more, we recieved an email from the service center at Phoenix asking us to go back so that they could have a look at the 360 Camera. Not wishing to miss the opportunity whilst we were so close, we made our sandwiches, packed up Fawks and set off ready for another day at the workshop.

With German efficiency and Phoenix service, the camera was replaced within a couple of hours and we were on our way again by mid afternoon. Rather than going too far and battling with the traffic we decided to pop back to Concorde for the night… an easy solution and less than 5km away.

The next morning, putting both Concorde and Phoenix behind us we moved on, wiggling our way further south to find the Phoenix sponsored Stellplatz which is in Bad Windsheim, a Spa town. The Stellplatz was huge with over 100 pitches, all well spaced out and arranged around lakes and streams costing about 17 euro a night.

Although the town itself isn’t as pretty as some of the other Bavarian towns – and the weather was a little ‘temperamental’ – the rolling hills around it provided for lots of lovely walking and three nights enabled us to catch up with some washing, shopping and tranquility…. well mostly as the Frogs were in their element!

Trying to choose our route around our stomachs, we had found a Michelin Bib Gourmand Guesthouse and Restaurant 12km North of Rothenburg ob der Tauber in a little village called Tauberzell and conveniently it had a Stellplatz 5-10 minutes walk away. Laundhaus Zum Falken has it’s own Vineyard, Hives for Bees and Kitchen garden amongst also being a specialist in Sausages. We booked for the Friday night as it was the only time we could get a table and when we arrived we were surprised by how quiet it was as we thought the Germans ate early, however it didn’t take long for a steady stream of people to come in and it was soon full. The food was excellent and we even managed to get some more local asparagus which is still in season. Keith opted for the sausages which came with Saurkraut and beautifully roasted potatoes with bacon, I had trout fillets with Rosemary Potatoes and Salad – both were exceptional. Dessert was a honey creme brulee made from their own honey along with a local farmhouse ice cream and I tried their digestif which was apparently made out of ‘all things good for you’ – which meant it didn’t taste quite as good as a Kirsch… but it wasn’t too bad albeit a little cloudy!!

The walking and cycling from Tauberzell was fantastic – we walked up to the top of the Vineyards along the panoramic walk, where you could see down into the valley where the village sits, and also along the valley base in both directions to the next villages. Incredibly tranquil, despite the Porsche rally passing by on Saturday morning and then about 10 Arctic Trucks honking their horns en route to a wedding in the next village a couple of hours later…. we will be back!

Moving slightly further down the road all of 12km we arrived at Rothenburg ob der Tauber which has to be one of the most impressive towns on the Romantic Road… enabling us to see true Bavarian architecture in its full – although this obviously has its downsides too as it means that it is far busier.

We stopped at the largest of the three Stellplatz that the town has and it was 12 euro for 24 hours, arriving just before lunch and it was already pretty full, filling up completely by early afternoon and although the turnover was pretty high, it was still full both nights we were there.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of only very few cities in Germany that have a remaining wall that is complete, unfortunately, although very impressive, only part of the walkway around the top of the wall is remaining, however as the wall is that little bit higher than some of the others, it is well worth popping up onto it for the views out over the roof tops – especially when the sun puts in an appearance!

Every road led to cobbled streets with beautiful coloured houses, mostly pretty well kept. We did a complete tour of the outside of the wall before coming back in to try out the local delicacy known as a ‘Schneeball’…. or in English ‘a snowball’. Basically short crust pastry rolled out flat and cut into strips of about 1cm width almost to the edge of the pastry. Using a wooden spoon, they then thread one strip over the spoon, one under until all the strips are incorporated onto the spoon. Now, this is the strange bit…. they then take them off the spoon and gently scrunch the pastry into a ball putting it into a metal case at the end of a long stick – which incidently looks a little like a torture tool – and plunge the pastry into hot oil to fry. Once crisp, the pastry is removed from the metal casing (and oil) and left to drain, Then coated in chocolate, icing sugar or a multitude of other things. The one Keith had was Amaretto, Marzipan and Chocolate – an interesting concept and lighter than you expect, although not necessarily something we would run back to try again!

However if you had to choose between the Schneeball and the hanging cage – I think the Amaretto and Marzipan mix would sway the decision!

It is fair to say that Rothenburg is beautiful but Keith and I can only take so much of ‘busy’ places and therefore despite lots of lovely walking and architecture, it was soon time to move on to smaller, quieter places for us… although that said, the next place we decided on was Nordlingen, which although far more ‘normal’ – as in a lived in town- it also has a very impressive ‘complete’ wall, and this one you can walk all the round on top.

The Stellplatz (7.50 euro per 24 hours) in Nordlingen was just five minutes walk outside the town walls and once again, was full by lunchtime. The town was really quiet though, enabling us to enjoy the walk all the round the exterior of the wall as well as through the town center without the hustle and bustle.

The wall contains a number of Alms Houses which appear to be tiny dwellings built into the interior of the wall, however it is only when you walk round the outside, or on top of the wall that you see that some of the houses actually penetrate the wall and have extensions going out to the exterior as well – it’d be lovely to see inside some of them as despite appearing tiny from one side I think they are actually deceptive in their size and form.

The main town square houses an impressive town hall and church alongside the obligatory May Pole and Storks nests that appear to be everywhere at the moment – a unique sight and noise when the storks ‘bark’.

The Maypole history and tradition in Bavaria is quite unique so if you fancy a bit of a smile have a look at this link which provides more details as I found it quite interesting… unfortunately we haven’t found any maypole festivities yet but they may be on Whit Monday… just have to wait and see!

Moving on once again, we chose to come to Donauworth which is where the Wormitz and Danube rivers meet as we fancied a bit of countryside walking for a couple of days and figured that the rivers would be a good location to get the most out of the Bavarian countryside.

We stopped at the Stellplatz (7.50 euro midnight to midnight) which is on the island between the Danube and Wormitz – once again, full by lunchtime. Donauworth isn’t a particularly noteworthy place for the architecture but it was founded by two fisherman and is oddly the beginning of several long walking/cycling routes that go down into Italy, Austria and Spain – Perfect for us to get some lovely walking in both along an old railway track and the Danube… and we even heard a steam train – despite not actually seeing it!

I know it is difficult to believe but we have also started to try and learn German. Slowly but surely we are both falling in love with Germany as it has so much to offer and therefore, although we will never be able to get to the same level in German as we are in French and Spanish, we would like to spend more time here and be able to ‘get by’ on a day to day basis with basics…. Babbel here we come!

And finally, just so you can see where we have been over the last couple of weeks…. the map…

A hop accross (or perhaps under) the water… 7/5/2023

After just four nights at the farm we headed South and caught the Eurotunnel with Fawks to get over to France and despite torrential rain cascading off of the roof into the Passport office, they still let us leave the country and welcomed Fawks back onto the continent for the first time with us.

Heading towards Belgium to have a few pieces of work done, we stopped at our normal overnighter in Hondeschoot where we know we can do a supermarket shop to re-stock on fresh veg, fruit and dairy products as well as some of that all important French wine!

The following morning we set off again, arriving at Werchter where VEE Motorhomes is to get the works done on Fawks and also do a bit more exploring of the area – this time heading into Leuven on the bikes.

We had planned to visit Leuven the last couple of times we were in the area but for one reason or another it just didn’t happen. Leuven is a beautiful university town with lots of lovely architecture, some great grafitti and unsurprisingly, some fantastic looking eateries. As we had a come with lunch prepared this time, we settled for a Coffee and DIY Hot Chocolate – literally hot milk with a bar of chocolate in it – both served with delicious home made brownie and biscuits.

Apparently they have an excellent Christmas market which we missed the opportunity to see last year but I am sure we will get to see at some point in the future.

Despite only intending to stay in Werchter for a couple of nights, one thing led to another – as always – and we ended up staying through to Monday. This enabled us to get some nice walking in, catchup on the washing (as always) and enjoy the 70 year anniversary party for the local Heroes (Similar to Scouts) group which we were kindly invited to. It is fair to say that pretty much everything in Werchter involves music and beer!

We moved on from Werchter on Monday to take advantage of the long holiday weekend to travel past Frankfurt whilst the roads were a little quieter. So a long hop, skip and a jump – for us at least – and we got to our destination for the night in Alzenau, Germany where the Aire was 12 euros a night.

The Aire is next to a lake and bar/restaurant but both were closed when we stayed but looked like they were getting prepared for a late May opening so I am sure it would be more lively over the summer. The town has an abundance of supermarkets, appears quiet industrial, but there wasn’t much else to write home about. However, as I ventured out along the cycle path by the side of the river for my morning run I got a taster of the next town along and the countryside beyond which had more of a Bavarian feel and looked like it was worth exploring further if we are stopping on the way through again in the future.

With Fawks booked back into the Phoenix Service Centre, we stopped over for one night at the Concorde Aire in Aschbach, then at Phoenix, Schlusselfield for a night ahead of a 7am start.

Steering wheel replaced, access to the emergency release for the jacks and cutlery drawer in hand – amongst a couple of other minor bits – and we set off to Sommerach to find some more of that lovely Bavarian wine that we were introduced to last year by the region!

We spoke too early though, realising on the way to Sommerach that the steering wheel we had been given was lacking a couple of buttons – adaptive cruise control. A quick email over to the service center though and the following morning we recieved a very apologetic call at 7:15am asking if we were able to come back as they had the correct steering wheel in stock and could switch them over for us.

Needing to stretch our legs after an early start and hanging around the service center most of the day, we headed out to have a little walk and thought it would be rude not to pop into our local Vineyard Weingut Strobel’ for a quick tasting – just to refresh our memories obviously – before buying a few bottles of white wine… Schuerebe, Blanc de Noir and Silvaner Old Vine……lovely as always.

The following morning we arrived back at the Phoenix service center by 10am and were on our way back to Sommerach with a new steering wheel and a bottle of Phoenix Hazlenut Schnapps in hand by 11.30….. all good.

With the sun shining, after lunch we set off into the Vineyards for a lovely circular walk towards Nordheim am Main and Volkach. Although we did a similar route through the vineyards back in September, it was a very different this time as in September the vineyards were full of people and tractors as they were harvesting the grapes. This time however it was very peaceful, with just a few farmers out with their tractors tending to the vine. We even found a Monk Jack Deer having a little munch on the vine blossom – needless to say he bounced off quite quickly as we got close.

As we rounded the corner and headed back towards Sommerach the weather quickly changed and the dark grey clouds were looming in the distance. They didn’t ‘loom’ for long, instead they just let loose and gave us a good drenching. Thankfully we had our waterproof jackets, it was warm and we weren’t too far from the town, so after a couple of ‘Pit Stops’ en route to do some tastings and a little bit of sun – once it made a re-appearance – we were a little drier….. or perhaps just didn’t care!!

We hadn’t planned to do three more Vineyards, but stopped at Weingut Otmar Zang just to get out of the rain and their wine was actually pretty nice, so ended up tasting and buying a couple of bottles. We then moved on to Norbert Dreshers – which was a planned stop, although we thought it may be closed. They are the only BIO vineyard in Sommerach and unfortunately as much as we tried – and we did pretty much try them all – their wine just didn’t quite hit the mark. We bought a bottle to be polite but their selection just didn’t quite meet our taste as much as some of the others.

Still slightly damp and en route back to Fawks, I wanted to have a look at a curious looking place that I had noticed last time we were in Sommerach but it was closed, it was however open this time….Weinbau Jakob. We were greeted by an 8 month old enormous pyraneen mountain dog and it’s lady owner and after been welcomed into the ‘cave’, we were drowned in their over-generous samplings of wine of all varieties. A lovely little place, full of easy drinking, every day wine… we came out with a full rucksack – another to come back to in the future, although I dread to think how large that dog will be next year… it was already the size of a pony!

Saturday morning as we set off we realised that there was a problem with the Left Hand 360 Camera system – my fault for not having mentioned the dark shadow I noticed when driving on the Friday. Email sent but nothing we can do about it until after the weekend though – it’ll just depend on whether or not they have time to fit us back in before we move too far away, thankfully we aren’t going far at the moment.

We moved all of 20km down the road which took us to a Hamberger Weiner – a Vineyard located in the middle of several beautiful little walled Bavarian towns – Iphofen, Rodelsee, Mainbernheim and Kitzingen. As well as selling their wine, they also have 15 places for motorhomes up to 10m looking out onto the vines for 10euros a night…. along with an honesty wine fridge….

All of the towns in the area are linked by cycle routes, but as nothing is too far and we needed to stretch our legs after a couple of days of doing very little exercise, we headed out on a walk into Mainbernheim which was about 2km away and then decided to loop round, passing Iphofen before heading back to the Vineyard to find Fawks.

The objective had been to get back to pop into the Tasting room but alas, we arrived to find that it shut at 4pm so we had to surfice with one of the wines from Sommerach to accompany dinner!

We hadn’t planned to come to this area but were looking at places to possibly enjoy some regional culinary delights and 99er Kulinarium popped up on the Michelin Bib Gourmand… and we are so glad we took a little detour as not only was the food excellent, the area is stunningly beautiful too.

Although Mainbernheim is pretty, it is a little rustic and to be fair in a bit of a ‘renovation’ phase as there are road and building works throughout…..Iphofen is however, the refined, beautifully finished version. The town has a double wall and a moat – obviously showing wealth going back along time – and now has a lovely path and park area that you can follow all the way around it. Inside the wall is chocolate box like, with all the buildings maintained to perfection. We were incredibly lucky as everything always looks better when the sun shines.

We aren’t quite sure where the last two weeks have gone but hopefully the next five won’t go as quickly as we’ll be home before we know it. The route so far is as follows, where to next is another question…. lets see what tomorrow brings.

Out and about with Fawks – 23/4/2023

Well, that wasn’t so difficult was it…. four little trips out over the last 6 weeks, mostly close to home and who’d have known that Fawks was a lefty… oh and longer, taller and wider!!

Wings unclipped, we headed over to Hurley for our first three nights of freedom… only 10 miles away from base but with a lovely little twisty road with lots of trucks followed by a single track road to access the campsite…. a breeze!

Despite the forecast being cold and sunny it snowed and sleeted, but that didn’t stop us from having our first non-family guests over – Thank you Pete and Liz, nor did it stop us enjoying a couple of slightly wet walks around the surrounding area to be welcomed by the newborn bleating lambs.

As we were so close to Marlow, we thought it would be rude not to use it as an excuse to check out one of the restaurants we had been contemplating for a while – The Vanilla Pod. A lovely walk along the river whilst fighting off the sleet and snow was a great way to build up the appetite and it is fair to say that the food was very good… not exceptional, but very good. We both opted for the ‘Savour the Experience’ Seven course tasting menu, Keith with the meat and fish options, and I went vegetarian.

With a blink of the eye and after a few days back at the farm we were soon off again, this time going very slightly further – all of 12 miles – to Henley where we stayed at the Henley Four Oaks Campsite.

We arrived to sunshine and blue skies, which unfortunately turned into torrential rain and strong winds overnight but nothing was going to stop that morning run along the Thames and it sooned brightened up… for a little while at least!!

Henley is a lovely place to walk, eat and people watch, and as it was Keith’s birthday on the Wednesday while we were there we tried out the Boathouse Bistro which had excellent reviews. Despite almost having the place to ourselves, ambience was good, service excellent and the food was pretty tasty. Apparently Thursday is burger day and they do a mean fish burger amongst other things which may just entice us back!

We had said that these first few trips out in Fawks were going to be culinary as well as the obvious need to test out our ability to manouvre Fawks and doing day to day ‘stuff’ whilst travelling…… so once again, after a few days back at the farm we headed off to Denham to try out Wyatts Covert Club Site.

We have been talking about coming to Denham for about 5 years as it is open all year, has hard standing pitches and easy access into London. We just never actually made it as the farm works out for us, especially since they put some hard standing in!

Looking at a map, it should be beautiful walking grounds as it is on the edge of the Grand Union Canal, Nature reserves and reservoirs – one of the reasons why I chose it in the first place several years ago. However, since then someone started to build HS2 roughly 700m from the entrance to the campsite and everywhere we tried to walk was blocked due to construction, so we ended up having to walk on the busy road to get to the canal which was a shame. However, once on the canal it was lovely and tranquil and very picturesque despite being a little middy under foot!

As Denham is roughly half way between our base at the farm and them, it was also a great location – and excuse – to cook for Jonah and Karen as well as obviously introducing them to Fawks.

The campsite is also roughly 30 minutes’ walk to the mainline train into Marylebone so we had planned this trip around a catch up with my brother and friend for a fantastic meal at Meraki. It was a special one-off tasting menu hosted by Kerth Gumbs and Sanjay Dwivedi, and although I didn’t take photos – which wouldn’t have done them justice anyway – it is fair to say that it was the best taramaslata and smoked haddock mousse (two seperate dishes in case you wondered) that I have ever had, and the other dishes weren’t too shabby either!

Back at the farm we took a couple of weeks off from travelling as it was the Easter holidays and we never like going anywhere when it is too busy, which gave us the opportunity to make the most of the sunshine and explore a bit more locally. We headed into London to meet up with Gonzo for a lazy Sunday of walking and eating starting with Brunch in Highbury and ending with tapas in Newington Green ….. how it has changed in 20 + years!

We also met some friends in Caversham and walked in parallel to the Thames to Pangbourne taking in a bit of the beautiful Berkshire Countryside, naturally ending in a pub for food and drinks. I was a bit bemused by the Marks & Spencers Dairy Cow with ‘Semi’ on her ear… I was sure that dairy cows didn’t come pre-classified into Skimmed, Semi and Full Fat… couldn’t find a Gold Top anywhere though!!

Just highlights how beautiful the UK can be at this time of year when the sun is shining and all the blossom is starting to come out – can’t beat it!

Ready to get moving again and with a trip to Bath booked, a week and a half ago we headed West on our longest road trip yet in Fawks to introduce Fawks to a few old friends. A lovely few days of cooking, eating and catching up but as always time flew by and it was soon time to move on – this time all of 12 miles further South West to Chew Valley Caravan Park.

We have talked about coming to this campsite for a long time but never actually made it as we have either had something else to get back to having been down to the West Country, or they have been fully booked as we left it until the last minute. This time however I planned ahead! Unusual for us, but as we were trying to be a little more organised and careful for our first few trips out in Fawks we did actually book in advance, checking and highlighting our size to ensure we weren’t going to have any issues – I had heard they were a little ‘rule’ focussed.

I am glad we did call ahead as there was a moment when I thought that the warden of the campsite was going to get his tape measure out and refuse us entry. There was a lot of teeth sucking going on and a little bit of pacing. However, after a little bit of convincing that we were only 8.45m long – their limit is 9m – he found us a suitable pitch and asked us what we were like at reversing as if we got to the pitch and didn’t fit, we’d have to reverse back out again.

Not sure what his concern was about as the pitch was plenty big enough and there was ample space to reverse into it without issues. Whether or not they will let us back in again in the future is another matter, although it is fair to say we would happily go back as it is a very well maintained site in a beautiful location but you do need to be happy to walk or cycle as although there are buses they are few and far between.

Naturally as we love walking we were in our element. 800m down the lane was the entry to the Chew Valley Reservoir and trail which stretches about 3 miles round the edge of the lake on a path which ended up being my morning run.

We also headed out to explore part of the Three Peaks Trail which is a 17 mile circular route, we only managed to do part of it returning on the same route but it was absolutely stunning, so much more here to explore.

On our last day we took the ‘gastronomic’ trail into Chew Magna – swapping muddy paths for seafood plates of deliciousness at ‘The Lazy Lobster’…. equally as fulfilling just in a slightly different way, well worth a visit if you are in the area and our first time trying Soft Shell Crab… absolutely amazing!

A lovely way to finish our ‘practice’ run with Fawks before we headed back to the farm last Thursday, then off to Europe tomorrow for a bit of Fawks ‘Snagging’ and additional work. We will of course fit some travels in, although the destination of which is still unknown as we haven’t thought that far ahead!

We have of course been cooking as well – some new, some old favourites but here are some of the new recipes we have tried and tested and added to our ‘keeper’ list!!
– Smoked Haddock Scotch Egg
Cheese Scones
Chilli Cobbler
Jerusalem Artichoke Risotto
Aloo Chana Gobi
Makhana Dhal
Kerala Thoran
… oh, and we are still practising perfection on the Tarte au chocolat…. a few more trials to go I reckon but we are nearly there!

….believe it or not, we also managed to get the BBQ out last week – the forecast proved slighty better than reality but we – that is the royal ‘we’ as Keith stood outside whilst the wind cut through and I remained inside – stuck with it and those roasted vegetables, pittas and pesto were fantastic! I am sure that there will be many more to come over the next few weeks – says she looking at the window as it is pouring down with rain!

A few loop the loops but here is the map to see where we have been…

How time flies when you have a big silver bus…. 1/3/23

If you had asked me six weeks ago when Fawks was actually delivered, I probably would have said otherwise but actually, it has all happened far more quickly than we expected and Fawks is now all dressed up and ready to get moving, registration in hand.

He’s quite proud of his new number plates…. and looking forward to showing you some new places as we venture out and about to explore over the coming weeks and months!

Although we haven’t been able to move the motorhome we have been keeping ourselves busy sorting out Hattie and getting Fawks kitted out with all the bits to minimilise movement and rattles when we are on the road…. I am sure that there will be tweaks required as we get to our first destination and open cupboards to find Kimchee, Kefir and bottles of wine having a bit more of a party than we planned for!!

As we have been local for a while we have taken advantage of some of the eateries on our doorstep and one we had been meaning to try for a while had a sudden appearance after an opertune cancellation of needing to go up into London…. The Crown in Bray. Bray is pretty much Michelin star village as it has 3 of Heston’s restaurants – of which The Crown is one, Alain Roux’s flagship and then also Gianluca Caldesi’s campagna restaurant. We tried Caldesi a few weeks ago and it was very good, but this time we opted for the Set Lunch menu at The Crown which was very reasonable at £23.50 for 3 courses. The options are fairly limited – although meat eaters and vegetarians alike are catered for – but all three courses were very tasty and the setting is cosy and friendly.

But as the focus has been on trying out every part of Fawks we have had no excuse not to be cooking, enjoying the huge flexibility of the increased kitchen size… it is bizarre, I am not going to say we weren’t able to do everything we wanted to in Hattie but I can say that it is far easier in Fawks!!

From left to right above we have
Greens Shakshuka – adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe, quick, easy and tasty
Malaysian Laksa Moules – I would add fatter noodles next time as they were hard to extract from the shells, or just chunky bread but delicious all the same
– Christmas Pudding and Eggs for Breakfast – An experiment …. Keith liked it anyway and that was the most important thing – Fried Christmas pudding with Chilli flakes and fried eggs!!

Then below we have our curry menu that we have been elaborating on…. as follows:
Chard Saag Aloo – really tasty mix of spinach, beans and potato
Parsnip Dhal – deliciously flavoursom Dhal with a lovely consistency
Masala Baked Cauliflower – really simple and full of flavour especially when accompanied by a bit of Saag and naan bread
Speedy Saag – tasty and quick and full of green stuff!!
Aloo Gobi – another fantastic addition to our repertoire, really flavoursom and full of goodness
Winter Parsnip, Chickpea and Cauliflower Korma – a good alternative to our traditional Korma
Shredded Greens Dhal – another fantastic dhal full of goodness.

…. and finally a couple of other dishes
Tomato, Kale, Parsnip and Celariac cobbler – a lovely variation on the creamy cobbler that I make, full of tasty winter warming veg
Potato and Lentil Bake – Another really simple winter warming Riverford recipe

We are looking forward to getting on the road next week and will update you as we progress.

2023 – here we come….

Although we are still awaiting the arrival of Fawks I can whet your appetite a little as we did pop over to Belgium just before Christmas to have a good look around, measure up and sort out a few final pieces…. and if we don’t say so ourselves, he is pretty smart!

Still a little while longer though as he hasn’t quite made it into the country yet… so watch this space for more in the coming weeks!

Apart from a very brief trip over to Belgium we have been pretty static, enjoying the natural beauty around us… despite the temperature dropping down to -9 at points the light at this time of year just gives such a beautiful colour spectrum both in the UK…

and in Belgium….

We didn’t manage to make it to any of the Belgium Christmas markets unfortunately but there will always be another year.
In the meantime – whilst we have had to distract ourselves from getting too carried away with the imminent arrival – we have been focussing on food… no change there then!

Apart from the normal – fantastic – every day repeaters we have cooked up quite a few experimental dishes and we both agree that these ones are keepers should you wish to partake in a bit of Veganuary… or possibly just enjoy at any point of the year!!

Rainbow Lentil Fried Rice – lovely combination of lentils, rice, and vegetables
Beetroot Biryiani – a baked version and full of flavour
Happy Pear Biryiani – if you fancy a quicker dish this certainly gives all the flavour and nutritional value
Dahl with Split Peas and Spinach – This was part of our New Years Eve Curry fest incorporating Onion Bhajis, Mushroom Bhaji and Vegan Madras/Vindaloo
Creamy plant based Potato topped Pie with Celeriac, Squash, Brocolli, Leek, Kale – I used the original Creamy Brocolly Pie recipe and switched out some of the vegetables and simply overlapped sliced potato on top… deliciously simple!
Chocolate, Ginger and Pecan Brioche
Veggie Snake
Yorkshire Pudding/ Veg in the Hole – non vegan variety this time …but worked well in the Remoska

Lost in Autumnal beauty… or is it now winter? 21/11/2022

As appears to be a bit of a trend recently things have taken over and the days turn into weeks and suddenly weeks have turned into just over two months since my last blog… shameful. I have let life take over my time which is not on – especially as so much has happened, and that is without mentioning Fawkes’ chassis turning up as we have been trying (unsuccessfully) to put it to the back of our mind….. and no, its not the big green one!!

So, where were we before we got distracted!! …. oh yes, Wurzburg back on 11th September and what a beautiful place it was too! It was slightly calmer on the Monday than it was over the weekend with the music festival but still a very pretty and interesting place.

However wanting to explore more of this beautiful area we moved on from Wurzburg, deciding that realistically we didn’t have time to do the Romantic Road justice – so instead headed to Martketbreit where we stayed at a lovely Stellenplatz on the river with huge spaces which was 7.50 euro a night.

As it was forecast to be raining heavily for the next couple of days we had simply looked for somewhere which wasn’t too far but that had hardstanding so we didn’t sink…. our requirements were pretty basic and we knew nothing about the town at all but amazingly we fell on our feet as Martketbreit is a quaint little town away from the tourist route with beautiful architecture and known for its food, wine and randomly – Alzheimers. Marketbreit was the birth place of Alois Alzheimer who researched and published his findings surrounding Alzheimers disease in 1906.

We walked both sides of the river but there are definately a lot of areas left unexplored, quite obviously just so we can come back to try out some of the restaurants as the ones we tried to book were either closed on the days we were there or full at such short notice.

After a couple of days and with the rain starting to clear, we moved a little further on along the river Main finding our next Stellenplatz in a little town called Sommerach (12 euros per night).

Unbeknown to us, Sommerach sits in one of the top wine producing regions of Germany, we hadn’t appreciated how many vineyards were in this area and the quality of the wine that they produced. Before visiting, all I could think of when someone mentioned German wine was Blue Nun or Liebfraumilch…. I couldn’t have been further from the truth with the current wine selection as I would honestly say that the white wines we tried were as good as New Zealand wines…. if not better (and possibly a little bit cheaper! )

Before settling into the tasting, we headed out for a walk up into the hills surrounding the town and ended up at the panoramic point where all you could see in every direction was a mass of vine set out in neatly formed lines. It was lovely to meander our way through the vines and see the luscious grapes that were awaiting to be picked…. that time of year that always brings a smile to my face!

Unfortunately for us – or perhaps not – we had to walk through the town to get back to the motorhome, so felt it would have been rude not to stop at a few of the little producers to try some of their wares!!

There are reasons why we don’t stop in vineyards too often as we end up buying too much wine… lesson to self – you can’t keep going in to taste wine and come out with 2+ bottles… we just don’t have space in the motorhome especially if there are 20+ producers! We did however draw our limit to a couple of producers this time.

The following day we walked to Schwarzach am main which is where the Munsterschwarzach Abbey and Benedictine Monastery resides – a very impressive building that dominated the village – quite obviously a successful business though as they have a bakery, deli, bookshop and giftshop, coffee shop and also produce their own wine!!

Leaving Sommerach and the monastery behind us we moved a hop and a jump further along the Main river to Nordheim am Main where we found a nice – albeit slightly soggy under the foot – Aire right on the river. Nordheim am Main is another of the main wine producing towns in the area and although not quite as pretty as Sommerach, it had its fair share of tasting rooms and even had an amazing stall selling a huge variety of wonderful gourds!!

We walked up into the vineyards again and as we were coming back through the town we bumped into the logistics manager from Phoenix who was visiting her parents whilst they were on holiday – very random, although very impressed that she recognised us!

Possibly due to the fact that the opening hours were reduced on a Sunday – and we had restrained ourselves from visiting them on the Saturday – we managed to only increase our wine collection by a couple of Bio bottles this time – very controlled!

Another short hop along the river and we arrived at Volkach which is a slightly bigger town with beautiful architecture which appears to be quite typical of the area – I would imagine that it is the kind of place that feels very Christmassy come December!!

The Aire didn’t have services but was a lovely large, quiet carpark set up for motorhomes (10 euros/24hrs) right on the river and only ten minutes walk into town, an excellent supermarket and lots of lovely walking and cycling again along the river.

From Volkach we got to our target destination of the whole trip…. the Phoenix factory in Aschbach. It was a bit of a long detour to get there but it was lovely to explore a bit more of Belgium and Germany en route as we have still done so little travelling in this area to date and the more we see, the more we like it.

We had been invited to do a factory tour by Phoenix when we paid the deposit last year and it was something we were really keen to do as we figured it would be interesting to understand a bit more about the construction process. When we set off for Germany from the UK, we had hoped that we would be seeing our motorhome on the production line however unfortunately, when we got to Dusseldorf we were told that there had been more delays and the chassis was still with the company who strengthen and add some specific components to the chassis before build starts… the tour however, was fascinating all the same.

We weren’t allowed to take any photos but effectively there are two buildings, each with approximately 5 motorhomes in them at different stages of production taking the chassis from what you can see above under the tarpaulin, through to the final fully tested vehicle. The end to end process is currently taking between 8-10 weeks and as you walk through each building and see the different motorhomes at each stage you can really appreciate the craftmanship that goes into each and every one. We were lucky enough to have the owner and Managing Director of Phoenix and his daughter doing the tour and they were very detailed in their explanation as well as incredibly proud of the way they construct each and every motorhome – as they should be!

We left the factory feeling very happy with our decision to buy a Phoenix and with the news that our chassis was due to arrive the following day and that the space at the beginning of the production line which was currently empty, was waiting for it. We didn’t think that we would actually see it as we were leaving at 10/10:30, but just before we hit the road I ran up the road and there she was, sitting on the back of a large green truck!

With enormous smiles on our faces we set off from Aschbach, to a town called Asbach where we parked up in an Aire by the side of a small lake and park. A very tranquil location and when we ventured out to stretch the legs we noticed that there were miles and miles of trails to walk and cycle in the surrounding area so another place to come visit to explore more. We were only using it as quick stop over this time though, so after a fantastic run through the woods and up into the hills we set off to Maaseik just over the border in Belgium.

Maaseik had been recommended to us by Jurgen our Phoenix contact from Belgium who had been there on holiday with his family previously and wanted to re-visit as he thought it was beautiful. The whole area is made up of a mixture of rivers and lakes offering a huge amount of watersports as well as cycling and walking. It is fairly flat but that would be the only downside – along with the mosquitos – as the rest made up for it, even the town or Maaseik itself was beautiful.

We stayed at Camping de Boomgard which wasn’t cheap at 26 euros a night but you can see why they are constantly full with such a beautiful, tranquil loaction and everything on their doorstop to enjoy. We had views out over the river and spent three days exploring the area – which incidently included a vineyard – as well as randomly benefitting from a Romanesque festival that only occurs every 25 years in Aldeneik which was very colourful.

Not being great planners but conscious that we had a couple of days before we caught the Eurotunnel back to the UK, we booked to go to Ypres as it had been on our list of places to visit for a while and we still hadn’t made it. It’s obviously fated as unfortunately, no sooner had we booked the campsite, the following day we woke to find that the boiler had stopped working, so adaptable as we are – and Keith having done some trouble shooting to establish whether he could fix it or not and although he identified the possible issue, the emphasis was on the ‘not’ – we figured we would set off in the direction of Jurgen as we knew he was an Aldi engineer and worst case scenario, hoped he could fix/replace it for us.

Jurgen was away working at the RAF when we arrived but popped past to pick up some documentation in the evening and noticed that we were camped out on his driveway so poked his head in the door and assured us that he would fix it in the morning!

A man to his word, although unfortunately it required a replacement circuit board (which thankfully he had one in stock), and it was all done by late morning and we were on the road again just after lunch heading back to the UK with hot water and heating.

We have been back in the UK now for nearly two months and time has just flown by with a few trips away, catching up with some friends, sorting out the final bits on Hattie to make sure she is all fit and ready for sale, lots of amazing food and another scar added to the face. We even managed to squeeze in the all important MacMillan Coffee morning with my mum…. this time raising an amazing £500.

Cake aside, we have been cooking lots as well as always. Some of our new recipes include the following….

Fennel, Marrow and Tomato Casserole – wouldn’t have chosen it but the Oddbox delivered Marrow and Fennel and to be fair it was delicious!
Texan Casserole with Black Beans – full of flavour and a nice winter warmer
Malaysian Laksa – Quick and Easy and fully of deliciousness
– Breakfast Rolls – using our Sourdough starter along with a mix of wholemeal and white flour, sour cherries and walnuts
Sag Aloo Fish Pie – an interesting and flavoursom alternative if you don’t fancy the fish and like a bit of spice!

I’ve also been experimenting a little with different flours in our bread rolls just to see how it effects the taste and texture. I have decided Spelt works really well but going 100% Rye is quite hard work although it still tasted pretty good.

And finally …. the map – I did say that we have been all over the place recently. Going forwards I am going to change my approach so Blogs aren’t so long and…. late!!

Venturing abroard…. 11/09/2022

It feels like a long time since we have taken the tunnel and come over to Europe and to be fair it is… 12 months to be precise. Just over 12 months ago we did a very last minute 5 day trip to Dusseldorf in Germany and we are back again but this time to take a little more time to get to know Belgium and Germany a bit better…… and find out a bit more about the new motorhome….. she’s a beauty isn’t she?

Haha… only joking – although, yes – she is a beauty, she isn’t ours!

The purpose of this trip was to visit Jurgen in Belgium, whom we are buying the new motorhome from, visit the motorhome show in Dusseldorf again to have a look at a little bit more than just three motorhome vendors as we did last year, visit Phoenix to do a factory tour if possible and take in a few of the sights…… and so far the trip hasn’t disappointed!

We caught a lunchtime eurotunnel and stayed our first night in Hondshoote which is in France but right on the border with Belgium. It is a small town with a little Carrefour, Aldi and an interesting little refill/ bio shop that has opened in the last year – enough for us to stock up as we can’t take any dairy or fresh fruit or vegetables over to europe any more. It has been our first/last stop for a while now if we are travelling East as it is far enough away from Calais to not attract anyone trying to get into the vehicle, yet close enough for a short hop at the end/beginning of the day to get to/from the train…. and it has a good aire…but its not somewhere you’d stay much longer than a night.

After a reasonably peaceful night, fully stocked we set off in the morning to find Jurgen – our Belgium Phoenix contact and service point – who has his workshop in a little town called Rotselaar which is about 12km north of Leuven (East of Brussels) in Belgium. We had only planned to stay a couple of nights, giving us enough time to go through some of the outstanding questions we had for the new motorhome but ended up staying four nights as the surrounding area is so interesting and beautiful…. despite the influx of mosquitos.

Jurgen lives and works in an area that is full of walking/cycle paths along rivers, canals and through woodland. So there are a multitude of options for walking, cycling and running… no matter which direction you went. Although the end of the summer holidays and several restaurants were taking holidays, Jurgen recommended a cafe/bistro in a park not too far away where we could get some good Moules (mussles) – and you can’t visit Belgium without eating Moules and drinking beer – and we weren’t disappointed, although we now expect all of our moules to come in an amazingly delicious curry sauce with caramalised onions and enormous prawns …..and I am going to be looking for a Kreik (Belgium Cherry Beer) on the side!!

We decided to move on on Saturday, although we could have stayed much longer we figured that we will have plenty of time to explore the area further in the future. Switching provincial Belgium for Dutch city life we arrived at CamperPlatz Papillon (20 euros a night) on the River Meuese 2.5km North of Maastricht and just over the Belgium border.

The Camperplaatz has 100 spots and it was full. Despite being so close to the city it was very quiet both during the day and overnight – the only downside was that the pitches were reasonably narrow and as we had been lucky enough to find a corner spot, it was narrower than most… but the views were nicer… and it meant we only had one neighbour – we are so anti-social aren’t we!

We walked into Maastricht on the Sunday and although we have both been before, it was a long time ago, seperately with work… and neither of us got to see much of the city itself which has probably changed alot, but is very pretty. – especially the cultural district. There is a huge amount of history and unbeknown to us there are 14km of underground tunnels and caves…. which we didn’t explore but gives opportunity to come visit again.

With a date in the diary to meet Pete and Liz and tea bags to deliver, we hot footed it over to Dusseldorf where we had booked the same pitches as last year on the river bank at Rhein Camping.

The campsite isn’t anything special but it is perfectly located to get to the Dusseldorf show by bike and it is owned and run by a lovely couple and we have been lucky enough – thanks to Pete and Liz’s co-ordination last year – to get what I would say are the best pitches on site two years running… the Tea Bags are key in this story!!

We had four days of fantastic company whilst making the most of the great weather and tranquil location. We also managed to see a little more of the Dusseldorf show and meet up with Jurgen and the Phoenix team again to go through some final pieces…. unfortunately, one of those pieces was the news of a delay on the delivery of the motorhome as the chassis is still not with Phoenix…but it is in Germany!

Despite planning a day to go into Dusseldorf and explore, we have still not managed it and therefore will just have to come back again next year as it is supposed to be a beautiful city, we did however manage to go out for a lovely meal with Pete and Liz @ Riva on the waterfront in Dusseldorf on our last night care of American Express… fantastic food but perhaps we weren’t quite equipped with enough plastic of the cosmetic form to do the place justice.

It was time to go our seperate ways on Saturday – Liz and Pete were heading back to Belgium to explore Brugge and Ypres and we were heading South …. although to where no-one knows as it appears to change on a daily basis but first stop was a Stellenplatz in Urmitz just outside Koblenz on the river (10 euros a night).

As we had already visited Koblenz a couple of years ago, the stop was just for one night to do some shopping, stretch the legs and decide where we wanted to go. The supermarket close by was stocked with lots of fresh fruit and veg and the walk along the river was lovely and the added bonus was a) we got back to the motorhome before the torrential rain came … by roughly 5 minutes and b) The oompah loompahs had set up a beer / folk festival just 100m away so we had a lovely German brass band playing to us all evening – can’t really complain!

We had thought that we would head down to explore a little bit of the Romantic Road – something we have heard so much about but are yet to make it to – however, whilst we were in Dusseldorf, Jurgen and one of the ladies who works at Phoenix mentioned a few places on the River Main to visit en route to the Phoenix factory so although we are touching the tip, the Romantic Road is going to have to wait to next time!

First stop therefore was Wertheim am Main (5 euros a night)… not a bad little town to start off in!

The Stellplatz we had chosen had another folk/beer festival going on – those oompah loompahs are following us – apparently it’s the season, this time unfortunately they had taken over the whole of the stellplatz so we couldn’t stay but we managed to eventually find another Stellplatz on the opposite side of ther river following an argument with our satnav which wanted us to take a leap off of the flyover to get to it. The second Stellplatz was actually closer to the town – just not quite as pretty as it was underneath the flyover – although to be fair it was actually pretty quiet both during the day and overnight and it also had river frontage.

Wertheim am Main is a pretty little town with the re-constructed walls of the castle looking down over it and lots of lovely / normal looking cafes/restaurants and shops. As always appears to be the way with German rivers from our little experience to date, there are cycle paths going in both directions on both sides of the river – the set up for walkers and cyclists is incredible. We stayed two nights to explore the surrounding area more and each night we were accompanied by 8-10 other motorhomes on the Stellplatz. All in all, a lovely little area to explore with a fantastic supermarket close by.

It was time to move on though and explore new territory so a short hop, skip and a jump and we arrived at Lohr am Main where we had found a little campsite, Campingplatz Mainufer (24 euros per night). I had emailed ahead to confirm availability and asked if we could arrive before lunch as German campsites generally shut from 12/12:30 – 3pm and I was glad we did as although no-one was there, Keith called and was told we could park up but that there was only one pitch with river frontage…. what a corker! Snuck in just before anyone else arrived…. although a German guy did come over and ask if he could squeeze in alongside us… Keith politely said ‘no’, there wasn’t another space there…. once he grasped what he was trying to ask!!

Lohr am Main is another pretty little town with a very relaxed feel about it. Weirdly legend has it that Snow White lived here… at the castle above – although I couldn’t see any mention of the seven dwarfs and wonder whether they were an English addition… needless to say I steered well clear of red apples whilst we were in the vicinity!

The campsite was fairly basic – which didn’t bother us as we don’t use the facilities – but the pitch was huge, we had water on our pitch and our views were excellent, enabling us to watch all the boats and wildlife pass on by…. and visit us! I am not sure what the swans made of Keith’s meditation but I was wetting myself with laughter as they approached him slowly out of the water. Don’t worry, I am not that mean – I did actually get up and move them away when they tried to have a little nibble, quite a mean feat when you have tears rolling down your face!!

The weather was so good – despite forecast on rain both days – we not only ate every meal outside but also managed to get all our washing done… a bit of a bonus we weren’t expecting. Although we didn’t get a chance to explore too far, we found out that there is a huge network of cycling and walking routes up into the forest and hills from Lohr am Main. Definately an area to explore further on foot in the future and there appears to be a real mix of ‘serious’ routes for those who want a bit of a challenge and those looking to find a dwarf or seven in the forest.

Moving a little further around the river Main we had chosen Karlstadt am Main as our next stop where there was a fantastic Stellplatz (10 euros per night), once again on the river front and with its obligatory cycle path and just 500m from the town center over the bridge.

We pulled in as a Concorde was leaving and happily took his spot alongside a baby Morello, by lunchtime the place was full again. The backdrop is the Karlsburg Castle which was destroyed in 1525 by the townsmen during the Peasants War, made even more picturesque by the turning colours of the trees.

Karlstadt am Main is full of history and beautiful architecture as well as being surrounded by vinyards and apparently having a bit of a reputation for its Culinary excellence. Unfortunately for us we had missed the wine festival by a few days so may just need to plan another visit next year!

We decided to stay three nights and took advantage of the breaks in between the torrential rain to venture along the cycle paths alongside the River Main where the Vines line the hills and the colours are just breaking into autumnal beauty….

Having taken our rest day yesterday due to the weather forecast, I went for a lovely run this morning which reminded me of how much quieter Sunday mornings are (as Sunday is normally our rest day), enabling me to take in the beautiful surroundings along the river in complete tranquility…. may just switch days permanently!

Showered, breakfasted and all things sorted in the motorhome we set off again this morning another 20km further along the river to Wurzberg. As Wurzberg is a larger city known for its beautiful Barroque architecture and is at the top of the aforementioned ‘Romantic Road’, we were a little concerned as to whether we would get a space on the Stellplatz. We were right to be concerned, as there were probably 40+ motorhomes in the parking area when we arrived, however some of the official parking spots had been freed up as a number of motorhomes had left early, enabling us to park up in one of the larger spots alongside another Morello … albeit this one was slightly larger!

It’s not the most salubrious place that we have stayed in but once again we are right on the river – and cycle path – and close to the town center – perfect for a couple of nights to explore the area more…. and we have a bonus surprise as there is a music and street theatre festival this weekend with about 15 different stages of talent placed around town, several with food, beer and wine stalls – a lovely athmosphere.

We had a lovely little walk along the river and through the old town this afternoon and plan to do a bit more exploring tomorrow but very much like what we have seen so far and can see why Wurzberg attracts so many people.

Impossible to believe that we have been away for nearly three weeks as it feels like so much longer with all the places we have visited and sights we have seen. Hopefully the next two and a half weeks will be as interesting, although if there is one thing for sure it’s that I am embarrassed by my lack of German language skill… something that needs to be addressed!

If you are interested in the route so far …. our little map is below

A bit more of Yorkshire – 3/08/2022

After a quick two nights’ stop in Beverley to help Keith’s brother and Carly, his wife move some bits to their new house we did a hop, skip and a jump further North, arriving in Leyburn, North Yorkshire…. our first time to this part of the country.

We had booked the Hilltop Farm CS (£10 per night, no elec) for just 2 nights – having extended our stay in Beverley – and despite being a fair way up and a beautiful place, it’s worth mentioning that as a runner who went further up….Hilltop Farm is actually only half way up the hill… false advertising!

Leyburn is a proper little market town and all the shops, cafes and restaurants are located around the market square and although Hilltop Farm is only 500m walk from the center, it was incredibly quiet and the views from the site were lovely.

We didn’t get a chance to explore too far afield but the walking that we did do was stunning with views out along the valley. Once again, we will be back to explore the area further and if nothing else to try out The Sandpiper Inn – which is supposed to be an excellent eatery.

So, after a couple of nights we moved on again and its fair to say that the next stop wasn’t too shabby either. A bit of a cross country wiggle through firing ranges – its all military country round here – and we arrived at Scar Close CL just outside Richmond, North Yorkshire (£18 per night inc).

The weather had started to warm up and although we thought we would have escaped the heatwave being this far North…. even Yorkshire got hit and temperatures rose to the high 30’s for a few days!

We were luckily enough that the campsite was located just next to a National Trust Woodland area that lead down to the River Swale providing beautiful walks in the shade and freshness from the water when there was a breeze. It is fair to say however that when we made it into Richmond everyone and their dog was bathing in the waterfalls….unfortunately, I am fairly confident that they won’t have taken all the bottles and cans they were drinking from with them when they left.

Despite the hot weather we managed to get some lovely walking in and it is a stunning area – just a huge amount of hills if you want to go anywhere! I did have the benefit for once however of my morning run being a slow incline for the first half and then all downhill on the way back… not something that happens often – but a blessing in the heat as there wasn’t any shade!!

On the hottest day we stuck to our side of the valley – which was in the shade all day – for a walk which took us further west of Richmond along the River Swale and then climbing back up the side of the river valley through the forest on the return. We often come accross skittish sheep or curious baby bullocks that think they want to play but this time we found a Ewe on a narrow stretch of pathway who decided to just charge at us with her lambs – thankfully we both managed to get out of the way in time as those horns looked painful and with the momentum she had, she’d have broken limbs…..ours!

An absolutely lovely area with fantastic walking, however it was once again time to move on again after 3 days. So we set off South again, this time into the Yorkshire Dales to a Club Site (Wharfedale Club Campsite, £38.40 p/n inc of elec.) just outside Grassington. It is peak season and the site was expensive but all the same, we are glad we came as it is a beautiful area and all other sites were full.

As you know, we aren’t great fans of big campsites but this one yet again was really well laid out and spacious. Possibly because of its location, it was also incredibly tranquil despite being the beginning of school holidays – evidently they don’t get too many young families as there isn’t a huge amount to do if you don’t like walking and eating. Thankfully we are into both but partook in far more walking than eating out this time… although the local eateries did look good.

No matter which direction we ventured in we stumbled across beautiful views – whether the town of Grassington itself – which is stunningly quaint, the never ending rolling hills or pastureland alongside the river Wharfe scattered with its beautiful cattle… its definately a beautiful area.

As always, three nights pass very quickly, especially when you are surrounded by beauty and it was once again time to move on. This time to a very different location – to meet up with a friend and park up in a big farmers field – full of sheep sh*t – with alot of other campers just outside Skipton to go to the Yorkshire Food Festival.

We had been to the festival four years ago and it was a pretty good weekend with a good variety of stalls selling local produce to buy and naturally, eat and drink. Last time the campsite was pretty full, comprising of two large fields…… this year however, the festival fields were probably twice as big and the campsite three times the size – they must have been raking it in.

Friday night saw a fair few more eatery stalls open than previously along with live tribute bands. Then, from Saturday morning the other two fields opened up – a pretty good turn out and variety of food and music. It was just a shame that the weather was a little ‘showery’ although we were lucky enough to find a tables and chairs both on Friday and Saturday later in the day in a sheltered area to use as a base.

Having not done any of the workshops previously, Keith and I opted for a ‘cook-off’ between a michelin star chef and a local chef and a curry masterclass on the Sunday…. not convinced that we will book in again but that said it’ll be another 4-5 years before we come back! Skipton, as always is a lovely market town on a canal and although this time we only had a quick walk in on the Saturday morning, it still has a certain appeal to it and worth a stop if passing close by.

On Monday morning with the Food Festival over we did a quick pit stop at the local farm shop to restock the cupboards, then moved slightly further west to Drake House CL at the top of a hill – no thats a lie too as it was also only half way up the hill – just outside Clitheroe, Lancashire (£25 per night inc.).

Another lovely small campsite with beautiful views and miles and miles of walking and cycling from the door…. you just need to be prepared to do alot of ascent and descent to go with the beauty.

We walked into Clitheroe on the first afternoon which is roughly 2.5 miles away, then took advantage of exploring the beautiful countryside over the next couple of days – all of which was lovely and very tranquil apart from the odd sheep bleating.

The hill I mentioned previously, of which the CL was roughly half way up, was 1km from the slightly more ‘main’ road to the end of the drive way … then another 600m to get to the CL with 100m ascent …. definately a good warm up in the morning at the end of my 5km run but i’m not conviced I would be able to do it much more than the three days in a row without a break!

Thursday morning and it was time to move on again … so setting off on our way to Staffordshire we got to the end of the drive and about 200m down the hill to come to a halt… one of the downsides of finding CLs in the middle of nowhere, up very narrow roads… we had to wait for a static home to be delivered to the site next door – there was no way we would come off better in a fight with that, we were just impressed that the driver managed to get it all the way up the road although he was literally inching it along.

30 minutes or so later and we were on our way again…. heading south now to a lovely little village we found last year ‘The White Lodge Campsite’ in Great Haywood, Staffordshire (£25 per night inc.). The campsite has a CL attached to it which always appears to be full, although the campsite itself is a small family run site and a pleasure to stay on. In so far as location, it is easy to access and on the junction of two canals, right by a farm shop/cafe, couple of pubs and Shugborough Hall National Trust park…. so lots of lovely walking.

It’s a lovely tranquil place that we could easily see as home, although apparently this part of the country gets pretty cold over the winter and as the latest we have been here is October – when there was a plethora of Pumpkins at the farm shop and it was around 5 degrees in the morning – we may yet change our mind!

As this was originally our meeting point with Kevin and Petra – who have the canal boat but couldn’t make it last year and unfortunately couldn’t cruise over this year either – they very kindly drove over to find us on the Saturday and we found a great pub just along the canal in Hixon to have lunch… proper home cooked food and I am pleased to say that it didn’t disappoint on any level… and the fish and chips was definately in my top 5!

Moving on from eating out – which we have done a fair bit of recently – we do have a couple of new dishes again this month… We have been cooking lots of lovely food if we don’t say so ourselves – not to mention the huge amount of pesto we have been making from random green leaves to go with pittas and BBQ veg!

Spicy Nutty Brocolli and Chickpea Salad
Brinjal Casserole Curry

It was a lovely little trip, exploring both new areas as well revisiting old ones and we have been pretty lucky with most places not being too busy despite the school holidays and the warm weather.

Food for thought….

With the temperatures rising and a heatwave upon us I just wanted to share something with you to raise a little awareness. It’s not something I have told many people about but there is no reason for me not to …It’s just not something you talk about unless the right moment comes up I guess.

As most of you know, I am 47 years old… or young as the case could be, pretty fit and healthy and I try to make the most of every minute we have. I am not a sunworshipper, in fact I don’t like it too warm and can’t stand sitting out in the sun – beach holidays are my worst nightmare! I generally wear suncream when the sun is shining…but maybe that was the problem, obviously over the years being the outdoorsy type person than I am, possibly when I was younger, or possibly simply cumalitive of being exposed whilst out walking or running without wearing suncream – I have what is called Basel Cell Carcinoma, a non-melanoma skin cancer.

We had thought it was possibility as I had two small growths that had appeared over the period of about 12 months and wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t gone to the doctor to have a look and he thought it was nothing, he referred me to a dermatologist who confirmed the case…. worst still, it was only having agreed to do a full body check when they asked me to take off my mask – sign of the times – and the dermatologist gasped deeply and said ‘that however, is a problem’…. still Basel Cell Carcinoma but that ‘spot’ that had been on my upper lip for about 8 years and I had given up on, apparently wasn’t a spot!

It’s all good, I am fine and the treatment I have had through the NHS has been second to none. I have now had all the treatment and plan to make alot more use out of my hat going forwards… I think its rather attractive, although it does squash the hair a bit… but I wanted to share my story and try and start to raise awareness as if it isn’t caught early, it can spread… please check yourselves, and if there is anything abnormal – go see a doctor.

Now alot of you will have never heard of this…. but it makes me smile every time I think of it – read it through and go have a listen to it as its great! It came out in 1997 and is written by Baz Luhrmann…. please – wear sunscreen!

Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; or never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
Bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
Never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4 PM on some idle Tuesday

Do one thing every day that scares you

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts; don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours


Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself

Remember the compliments you receive; forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t

Get plenty of calcium

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll divorce at 40
Maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary
Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance; so are everybody else’s

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them

Do not read beauty magazines; they will only make you feel ugly
Brother and sister
Together, we’ll make it through
Someday our spirits
Will take you and guide you there
I know you’ve been hurting
But I’ve been waiting to be there for you
And I’ll be there just helping you out
Whenever I can

Get to know your parents; you never know when they’ll be gone for good

Be nice to your siblings; they are your best link to your past and the
People most likely to stick with you in the future

Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you
Should hold on

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard

Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft


Accept certain inalienable truths: prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old– and when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders

Respect your elders

Don’t expect anyone else to support you

Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you’re 40, it will look 85

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it
Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth

But trust me on the sunscreen

Brother and sister
Together, we’ll make it through
Someday our spirits
Will take you and guide you there
I know you’ve been hurting
But I’ve been waiting to be there for you
And I’ll be there just helping you out
Whenever I can

Everybody’s free
Everybody’s free
Oh, yeah
Don’t you fear

A bit more of beautiful british contryside… 11/7/2022

Not sure where all this talk of the June heatwave came from as we didn’t see it up where we were. Newcastle hit about 18 degrees max… although, I am sure that in the sun it was definately warmer – not going to complain though as we had a couple of days of wearing shorts and t-shirts…. and we were also able to get out and about and most importantly SLEEP without the heat getting in the way….

We moved on again from Powburn to our next stop which was Bolam West Houses Farm CL, Middleton near Morpeth which was £20 per night inc. A lovely large field with uninterrupted views out over the rolling hills for miles and miles.

The CL is in proper walker and cyclist heaven. It is about half a mile from Shaftoe Crags – a historic settlement as well as Bolam Lake Country Park – a really pretty little wooded park and that is without mentioning all the footpaths and lanes that went off in all directions further than the eye could see. Bolam Lake Country Park was quite an interesting little place as it used to be a swamp but one wealthy landowner decided to design and landscape the area in 1816 to provide the locals with work during the economic decline…. a true community project!! It is a lovely area set in the middle of an enormous expanse of rolling fields and countryside.

As always with the way we plan our trips – if they are being planned – three days of exploring and it was time to move on again to find another area to discover. This time though we were venturing slightly closer to a larger population of people to sheep… something we have avoided recently – to visit Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

Not being city lovers anymore, we had searched out a place to stay that was far enough outside Newcastle to give us some tranquility, yet close enough to have easy access and fell upon a corker of a location – Stephensons Arms CS, Wylam, Northumberland £20 per night without electricity.

The camping and caravan site was just a big field but it was right on the edge of the river Tyne as well as the Hadrians Wall cycle and walking path. The walking route is 84 miles coast to coast and the part where we were staying in Wylam was off road, traffic free, tranquil and beautiful. The route was called the Wylam Waggonway and just 500m towards Newcastle was George Stephensons birth place and dotted along the path in both directions are numerous reminders of the engineering history of the area. The village of Wylam had several pubs and restaurants – all of which had pretty good reviews but we didn’t try them ourselves – a wonderful greengrocer, a couple of convenience stores and a train station to get into Newcastle or to places such as Hexham further along Hadrains Wall. It is worth staying in the village just for the beautiful walks even if you don’t go into Newcastle for a visit.

We however did take a day trip into Newcastle for a taste of what it had to offer both architectually and for our stomachs… and we were not disappointed!

Keith had done some research a while back however, as we had been out to eat a fair bit at the time I didn’t have the appetite for going out and left the decision and booking until just a couple of days before we arrived at Wylam.

After all the Northumberland walking and fresh air I had obviously built up enough of an appetite – but not too much, as we all know how difficult it is to choose when you are really hungry – and finally selected Peace and Loaf in Jesmond, thankfully it still had space!

The menu we selected was a tasting menu – of which there were two options and believe it or not we went for the smaller one. As I am now pescatarian, the chef ensured that when there were dishes that contained fish on the main menu, he adapted them so I could also have the fish, rather than just giving me the vegetarian option. I know that should be a simple switch but the fish dishes actually had meat in them too … so it was a nice touch.

All the plates were perfectly formed – smaller at the beginning and end, then larger for the mains. I was concerned at the beginning that we may be leaving hungry but can confirm that by the time we got towards the desserts I was quite glad that we had opted for the smaller menu – not too rich but full of flavour and texture, possibly one of the best tasting menus we have had and the service was excellent – we will be back again if we have the opportunity, a unique and delicious flavour experience.

Newcastle itself was interesting too, especially the quayside which has been / is still being regenerated – providing a lovely space for walking, cycling, running as well as people watching both during the day and evening…. we were also very lucky with the weather!

All good things must come to an end and although we would like to explore Wylam and the area a little more we will have to do it next time as we once again moved on on the Friday to a completely different setting – this time it was Longview CS, Shotley Bridge, County Durham (£15 per night without elec.) perched at the top of a hill looking out over the valley…. amazing views and even better sunsets!

Another tranquil location right by the side of a cycle track which was a dissused railway … probably the only flat route in the area as each time we ventured away from the cycle path there was a lot – and I do mean a lot – of ascent and descent….

The area was historically mining – coal, steel and Iron and you can see some of the history dotted along the cycle path and incorporated into the new housing estates and parks that have been built more recently as part of the regeneration of the area since the last of the mines shut down in the 1980’s.

Shotley Bridge was the last of the little campsites for this trip as after another three glorious days exploring the area, we set off further south having booked Hattie into SAP to have her Jacks and suspension serviced. SAP is based North of Doncaster on a small industrial estate opposite a couple of ‘Adventure Off Road’ Motorhome conversion workshops which is always an interesting viewing, although this time we didn’t really get much chance as it was a 7am start and the service was all done and we were on the road by 8:30am…. that is what you call service (if you don’t mind an early start I guess!!)

Surprised by the early start we had another hop, skip and a jump en route home and arrived at our pub stop over ‘The Norman Knight Pub’, Ascott Road, Whichford, CV36 5PE just before lunch. Giving us enough time to get out and explore the area a little before a quick catch up with Pete and Liz later in the afternoon/evening.

The pub is in a beautiful area just a stones throw from the Cotswold Distillery with lots of small lanes and footpaths over the rolling hills to explore. It has two spaces for motorhomes and five ‘glamping’ pods out the back which looked lovely. The food was good and the owners and staff were incredibly accomodating. We were lucky with the weather and sat in the garden until just before 11pm – surprisingly busy for a Tuesday evening … so adviseable to book ahead if you plan to visit.

We will have to come back to explore further – oh and possibly catch up with Pete and Liz again too!

We have now been back at the farm for a couple of weeks and over the last weekend in June we finally managed to make it to a local restaurant called ‘Seasonality’ for one of their supper clubs. We found Seasonality during first COVID lockdown just after it had opened and at that point it was only a deli and doing home delivery, then it opened up on the last Friday / Saturday of the month to do supper clubs however, each time we thought about trying it we were away – this time we struck gold !

The food was excellent and as the name suggests, all dishes were seasonal and where possible, locally sourced too. The Chef also did his best to accomodate the difficult pescatarian and although the lamb ravioli was apparently superb, I think my Cornish Seabass with Shellfish Lasagne was possibly one of the best food combinations I have ever tasted. The restaurant is small with roughly 20 covers and was full. Each dish was served accompained by the chef with an explanation of what it was and where the produce came from, we will be making some time to come back and visit again!

The time has just flown by over the past few weeks with one thing and another and with the temperature soaring this past week we have been getting the BBQ out a bit more both to cook pizzas and otherwise…. breakfast lunch and dinner are currently eaten al fresco!!

We have been cooking alot as always but only one new dish – which, although it sounds odd was really tasty
Vegan Chilli with Dumplings – a deliciously spicy and creamy chilli using Coconut milk topped off with cobblers!

And as we are heading off again tomorrow to explore more of our beautiful countryside …. the map below shows the route we took on the last tranche of our trip through Northumberland and back to Holyport.