Venturing North…. 21/5/22

Well we have wanted to get back up to Scotland ever since we came up here in Spring 2017 to do the NC500 …. far too quickly! Three weeks is just not enough to take in the beauty of the West coast of Scotland, let alone try and squeeze in Skye and the East coast too!

This time however we have been quiet focussed in our planning. We have 6 weeks and are only looking to take in Dumfries and Galloway and Northumberland… stopping briefly in Leek en route as I read something about it being an interesting market town a few months ago so felt it appropriate to do a little diversion as we were passing close by!

We had found a CL just outside Leek,(Roche House Farm CL £10 without electricity) which had stunning views out across the rolling hills. The Farm was a livery so we also benefitted from having lots of horses looking on curiously, although we were the only motorhome for two out of the three nights. We managed to get out into the fields and do a lovely circular walk taking in the beautiful countryside as well as make a visit to the Wednesday market in the pouring rain which stocked us up for the next few days. An interesting place but I wouldn’t go out of our way to revisit it despite finding a couple of very interesting looking eateries!

Leaving Leek we stop started all the way back towards the motorway as traffic was heavy and as we were passing a Morrisons we thought we may as well fill up as we had half a tank of diesel, probably wouldn’t get much cheaper en route and it was a long drive to Scotland… possibly a mistake considering what happened next.

We continued our journey and as we got two thirds of the way round the roundabout from the A500 joining the M6, Hattie flashed her EDC warning light and then came to a slow stop in the middle lane just over the traffic lights…. and wouldn’t start again. Not knowing what the issue was as there hard been no warning of a problem, I gave her a couple of minutes and tried again – nothing…. although I could smell Diesel. With Arctic trucks coming at us from behind at great speed and swerving at the last minute, Keith noticed some marks appearing on the road in front of us – that coupled with the guy in the van making hand signals as we were trying to start Hattie again made us realise that it may be us that was gently coating the road surface with diesel…..

I could think of better places to break down but to be fair to the police and the road traffic officers, it took them about 30 minutes to get us off the road and into a safe place and they were great…. we apologise to anyone who was in the area and had issues with heavy traffic on Friday lunchtime / early afternoon as it is fair to say it was our fault as they had to shut most of the roundabout to clear up the diesel spillage – thankfully it hadn’t spread too much further as there were talks of having to shut the M6. I’m dreading the clear up bill when it comes through…. although hopefully it will be covered by the Insurance. The RAC wouldn’t even log the call until we were in a ‘safe place’…. and then took 2.5 hours to get someone to us, although when he did come – the guy was great and we were fixed and on the road again within 20 minutes – absolutely amazing!

Somehow the fuel pipe from the ignition had come loose and all it required was re-attaching and we were good to go…. we lost about 1/5 of the tank…. it could have been a lot worse!!

Although it was mid afternoon by the time we set off, we did actually make it to our chosen location for the night – SilverCraigs Campsite, Kirkcudbright which is Dumfries and Galloway (£24 per night inc. elect.). The last 30 minutes of the drive made the long day worth it as the scenery was stunning…. beautiful rolling hills in every direction we looked.

We arrived just after 7pm and the site was full, but parked up and admired the views out to the estuary and the hills beyond as we prepared dinner which thankfully was simple and very tasty consisting of Halloumi and Aubergine, Onion and pepper harissa relish, Slaw and sourdough flatbreads…. just what we needed! Although sleep wasn’t great after a bit of an odd day it was incredibly quiet and we felt like we were interfering with the peace by doing our exercise in the morning … very laid back and tranquil.

Kirkcudbright is an artists town and you can see where they get their inspiration from as no matter where you walk – it is beautiful. It is an area to come back and explore further as three nights just wasnt enough to do it justice.

After amazingly beautiful weather it was unfortunate that it chose to break on the day that we should have been able to see the eclipse…. whether we would have been up in time to take advantage of it is another thing but as it was forecast to be grey and raining for 24 hours we shifted our ‘rest’ day to Monday morning and took advantage of an extra hour in bed!!

So, after a quick re-stock at the local Co-op, we moved further around the coast to Isle of Whithorn, stopping off briefly en route to have a walk around Wigtown which is Scotlands ‘Book’ capital. Wigtown is a small town where every third building is a bookshop / coffeeshop with a bookshop in it… very quirky, mostly second hand books although there were a few shops that stocked new ones as well…oddly in comparison to the other towns we have visited there weren’t many pubs – maybe there is some wierd Scottish rule of not selling alcohol and books under the same roof!

We had chosen to visit the Isle of Whithorn as you should be able to see the ‘Five Kingdoms’ from the point – England, Ireland, Wales, Isle of Man and of course Scotland – just a shame that the weather was a little overcast as the only Kingdom we could see was Scotland, not that we are complaining as it is a mightily beautiful kingdom!!

We had seen that ‘The Steam Packet Inn’ – the only pub on the Isle of Whithorn – offered motorhomes a first come, first served parking spot so arrived just after lunch to give us a good chance of getting a space – It was surisingly busy for a Monday….obviously a popular place. Once parked up, we headed out Westwards along the coast through the fields with lots of curious calves and onto the cliffs.

As we walked the sun came out and the skies brightened up, giving us a beautifully warm afternoon with amazing, rugged views … but still no other land mass! Although Keith’s phone did switch to Isle of Man and then Guernsey briefly which caused a bit of concern as that is considered as ‘Roaming’ with Vodafone!

We had booked ourselves in to the Steam Packet Inn for dinner on Monday night as not only is it the ‘Five Kingdoms Brewery’, it also had fantastic reviews for the food. We were not disappointed – good beer and wine and excellent food (Curried Sweet Potato Soup and Sundried Tomato rolls as an ‘amuse bouche’, Seafood platter and Pannetone with roasted tomatoes as starters, Fish and Chips x 2 as mains and Cheesecake for dessert) with the prize for the best course going to the exceptional Raspberry Marscapone Cheesecake…. dare I say it – even better than my own!

After a very peaceful night listening to the waves, we woke to another overcast morning unfortunately … but it was dry! No views but after our morning exercise, shower and breakfast we battled against the wind and walked around the lighthouse and up the coast a little to the trig point… still beautiful no matter what weather you throw at it!!

We then hit the road again to search out a local cheese producer ‘Galloway Farmhouse Cheese’ which was en route to our next stop – which I saw on the menu the night before but was too full to try! The farm was just a couple of miles detour from our route and they produce unpasturised organic cheese – Cow and Ewe Cheddar, as well as selling Goat Cheddar, a Cow blue, using their cows milk but produced up the road and a brie which is also produced just round the corner. We tasted – and bought – both the Cow and Ewe cheddar as the flavour was incredible and you can’t beat zero miles for keeping the carbon footprint down!!

We normally try to stay three nights in each spot but if we are wild camping or for some reason the site can’t accomodate us for longer, we have to be flexible and when I was planning this trip, this next CL looked exceptional but I had to switch the dates around to even get two nights as they were full…. Greenloch CL, £20 per night Inc. and it was exceptional!

Despite the forecast of torrential rain on Tuesday afternoon we parked up, had lunch and then set off for a little walk to stretch our legs round the loch – it was just under 4km, a little wet underfoot, a few curious calves, an angry swan nesting, some skitty lambs and four little piglets… one of which was being licked by a dog – I think just checking it out for flavour… but all the same very cute!

By Wednesday morning the sun had come out so we got some washing done, made some bread and then set off over the hills into Stranraer to explore and do some shopping.

Stranraer is in a bay but still quite exposed to the North Irish Sea. It isn’t a pretty town as it is quite industrial and also has the ferry going to Belfast – its certainly not a place I would go out of my way to visit to take in the scenery as …. I guess you’d say it is a little run down. However the surrounding area is well worth exploring as the rolling hills and rugged coastline are second to none… whether the sun shines or not!

After a couple of nights with the piglets on their beautiful CL, we delayed our departure by an hour or so and cheakily got some more washing done as the forecast was good and we figured we could hang it out when we got all of the 10 miles down the road!

The next stop was just outside Portpartrick at South Port o’Spittal CL (£20 first night, then £15 thereafter inc. elec) and the decision to do the washing was a good one as to say it was windy was an understatement…. the jeans were dry within an hour!

Another beautifully maintained CL with absolutely amazing surroundings. It is a farm and obviously being lambing season we are surrounded by Ewes and their lambs in all different shapes, sizes and colours… including a couple that look like they have stepped in white paint and dragged their tails in too, angorra lambs and a devilled lamb with teeny little horns that look like someone has just stuck them on as a joke!!

Conscious that the weather was about to break we took advantage and headed along …and up and down… the coastal path into Portpatrick – a beautiful walk taking in the rugged coastline and the abandoned Dunskey castle just as the cloud started to come in. The village of Portpatrick is situated in a pretty little bay which is mostly made up of rental properties and a few cafes, restaurants and pubs but not much more unfortunately – one of those places that has unfortunately been a victim of its own sucess… which is a shame.

We chose to walk back to the motorhome cross country via the tiny winding single track road which was equally as beautiful, giving us good views of the fantastic rolling hills which were covered in lambs and calves in every direction we looked…. definately farming country!

By shear coincidence, after booking the campsite I found that less than a mile down the road (literally – down) is Knockinaam Lodge which evidently has a pretty good chef who has managed to get them 3 rosettes… so we thought it rude not to try it for lunch!

Not only was the location and setting amazing, the food was incredible. It is a five course tasting menu which is set although they will adapt it should you have any dietary requirements… so mine was pescatarian but Keith got the beautifully pink duck. There weren’t many differences between what we both ate as they tried to overlap the menu as much as possible but every course was exceptional, full of flavour and not too rich… they even gave the option of having cheese rather than dessert…. although Keith would have happily consumed both!! We will be back…. but we will be staying in our own accomodation up the road as I think £600+ a night is pushing it a little for our budget – the food however at £42 for the set lunch was exceptional value!

I assure you that we have, as always, been cooking alot as well but mostly the deliciousness that we have already shared with you… we have however weirdly made two different pestos in the last two weeks – one with nettles and cashew nuts to go with BBQ veg and pittas and the other with wild garlic and hazlenuts which we will be eating next week!

Blown away by Norfolk 8/5/2022

…..and yet another month has passed us by without us knowing where it has gone! The sun has been shining and there have definately been at least two good spells of amazing weather where we have happily been out and about without jackets – I just wonder what havoc this weather is going to play on the crops in the long term as the fields are so dry. We aren’t going to complain though as it has made life more pleasant for walking and exploring further afield.

We have been venturing out a little more enjoying food cooked by others rather than just ourselves and were particularly spoilt by trying another amazing restaurant in London courtesy (well we did pay…but it had added benefits) of American Express… Fallow. An incredible tasting menu that introduced us to new flavours and combinations, locally sourced and sustainable…. It was a bit of sharing plates menu – although made more complicated by Keith eating meat and me not – so consisted of the following…. Corn ribs with lime, Pork Croquette, Mushroom Croquette, Tunworth Cheese and Caramalised Onion Flatbread and Black Garlic and Blue Cheese Flatbread, Mushroom Parfait, Cornish Crudo Pork with Turnip, Confit Leeks, Dairy Cow Fillet of Beef with Boulangere potatoes, Chelsea Tart with Caramalised Whey and finally Guiness and Dark Chocolate Soft Serve… not bad at all. The favourites of the evening were weirdly the corn ribs and probably the Black Garlic and Blue Cheese Flatbread – just really unusual, although quite rich!

With a new trip on the horizon and excited about exploring a new area and trying out some of the local produce – most specifically Cromer Crab – we headed off on the long haul up to Cromer the Tuesday after Easter, only to come to a halt after an hour or so just before Waltham Abbey on the M25… a spot that we now know pretty well considering we then didn’t move for 7.5 hours!

After alot of consideration – it’s certainly not our favourite location – views were mostly made up of cars and trucks with the odd police car or fire engine going past, i’d definately say that we would pass on the opportunity next time if given the chance! It doesn’t sound like anyone was hurt but apparently a vehicle collided with a food oil tanker which then spread its load across all carriageways on our side. If the sunflower oil shortage wasn’t bad enough beforehand… it’s certainly got worse in the last couple of weeks!

Our afternoon was lit up however by a tap on the drivers window after a couple of hours – it is quite high up so the walking stick was necessary – by a 92 year old lady, who needed the toilet…. our good deed was done…we were just grateful that there weren’t hundreds of people to follow suite! She obviously quite liked the motorhome as she came back a second time too!!

Joking aside though, the lovely lady was well and we did check that she had ample food and water to keep her (and her 72 year old daughter) going and we were all pleased when we were finally able to get moving a couple of hours earlier than expected as the travel news had said it would be after 9pm, instead it was only 6:30pm.

As it was late in the day and we still had a good 3+ hours ahead of us to get to our planned destination for the night, I had called around to try and find somewhere more local to stay and thankfully the Theobalds Park (£32.10 per night), Camping and Caravan Club site manager at Waltham Abbey came to the rescue. The site was tranquil and actually quite pretty despite being literally a stones throw from the M25 and where we were parked up just ten minutes beforehand!

So… after a morning run – the M25 was still shut – we headed on our way up the M11 and into Norfolk…. a lovely, easy journey arriving at Antonia Villa CL (£14 inc) in Cromer at lunchtime. A lovely little CL despite being grass only and mostly quite slopey – so you definately wouldn’t want to be here if it was very wet – we found a nice flattish spot to park up on and relax in the sunshine, eating our lunch and listening to the birdsong around us.

We had booked ourselves in for three nights but obviously with our little delay on the M25, missed the first night and although we had kept the owners updated and had said that we were happy to pay for the night missed, they were having none of it – very kind…. we rounded up the two nights and bought some of their duck and hen eggs though to help support the local producers – although would have done that anyway!!

Cromer was a lovely little town from what we managed to see of it with a good selection of boutique type shops, master bakers, butchers, wine-makers (not candlestick makers!!) and deli’s. The beach went on for miles and was lined with rusty old tractors ready to pull the fishing/crabbing boats in and out of the water each day… most definately an area to explore some more.

We walked up into Overstrand and back along the beach into Cromer and were suprised by the quantity of award winning foodie type places – pubs and restaurants galore with ‘AA Rosettes’ and ‘Michelin recommended’… so as we had passed The Grove on the first day, we thought it rude not to try it and were blown away by the sustainability and ‘local-ness’ of all things served from Gin, wine and beer to squid ink, fish and asparagus… it is a lovely elegant family run hotel and restaurant but not as good as the next one we tried – it just whet the appetite for a return visit to the area!!

Leaving Cromer keen to return, we moved all of 10 miles along the coast to Blakeney where we had booked to stay at Villeroche CL (£22 per night inc.). Another lovely site just on the edge of open fields as you enter into Blakeney, looking out onto the nature reserve and sea in the distance… say it was exposed was an understatement – the high winds certainly helped freshen things up in the morning!!

We were really impressed by Blakeney and the area around it and although we only had three nights there we managed to get a good taster by walking in different directions to explore. On the first afternoon we walked – or should I say were blown – along the path through the nature reserve and along to ‘Cley next the Sea’ where there is an amazing delicatessen stocking all things local from wine, gin, cider and beer through to cheese and home made pies and pastries… somewhere not to visit when you are hungry!!

Then on the second day we did a short walk through the nature reserve in the opposite direction along the coast in the morning, then headed over to a farm shop to stock up in the afternoon. Although the Courgette and Lime cake was delicious we were actually less impressed by the cafe and shops’ support for local producers… they prioritised Organic over local. It was a lovely walk though.

The third day was the biggest success though as after a lovely walk in the morning through Wiveton, Newgate and the other part of Cley next the Sea, we had lunch at the Wiverton Bell…. a truly spectacular feast!

We both had cod cheaks with curry sauce for starters, Keith had a full Roast with Pork Belly for main, I fell back to my favourite of Haddock and Chips, all followed by Ginger and Stout Pudding with Clotted Cream Ice Cream…. The whole area is stunningly beautiful – we will be back but to be fair would have returned for the food and drink alone!

Blown away by the food… not just the wind, we had unfortunately booked to move on again on the Monday otherwise we would have gone back to the pub…..ah well guess it will have to be another time!

We made the last hop of the trip down to The Old Sun Inn CS, Bungay (£16 without elec.) which is right on the border between Norfolk and Suffolk. Another lovely site, although this one takes more people there were still only 4 of us for 3 nights and then 5 for the last night… not exactly busy!

We had booked for 4 nights as Bungay is a market town and with Thursday being market day I got excited by the prospect of a nice local food market…. unfortunately the market was made up of 1 fruit and veg stall, some local preserves and a hot dog stand…. thankfully they had a lovely deli and greengrocers to make up for it otherwise I would have felt very sorry for the locals.

We had time to explore the area though and find a local farm shop that had goats and two of the nanny goats had just given birth… one to twins and one to triplets – very, very cute….although it appeared that two of the triplets were thicker than theives and the other was a bit of a mummies boy as the three didn’t seem to play together!! We sat and watched them cause huge amounts of mishief whilst we ate our sandwiches and put the world to rights…. not bad really!

Despite being very different to the North coast of Norfolk, there was alot of walking through forests and fields. The area is full of rape seed and obviously at this time of year it is just coming into its own, so as we were exploring we managed to benefit from some of the natural outstanding beauty…

Despite the eating out, there has still been lots of cooking and a reasonable amount of experimenting over the last month… and you know how much we love our food!

Kimchi – taking less time than saurkraut to ferment, looks very authentic and tastes great!
Dhansak – courtesy of Stevie B with a few vegetarian adaptions!
Pea Hummus – looks a bit odd – i.e. very green – but tastes great
Orange Chocolate and Pistachio Brioche Buns – amazingly delicious breakfast treat. Not too sweet and perfectly light
Brioche Aubergine and Halloumi Burgers with Harissa Relish – delicious combination of flavours and so quick and simple
Sourdough Pittas – first try at using Fergie on pittas and it worked brilliantly with our roasted spicy cauliflower and romesca sauce.

Going large… 3/04/2022

It has been a busy month or two with one thing or another taking up a fair bit of our time… I can’t believe that almost ten weeks have passed us by since my last post – poor administration on my part, just too much going on!!

So…. we start off by our second course of the year – very slightly different from the Bertinet Bread course back in January as this time it was to get our HGV Category C driving licenses…. just in case you don’t know what that means – it is so that we can drive any sized Truck/Lorry with a ‘fixed’ body… just not an Arctic Truck! We don’t need the license for the next motorhome but just felt that we wanted the additional knowledge and training as it has to make us better drivers of large vehicles.

Having completed the medical and theory last year we were finally let out on the road in 10.2m, 18 tonne trucks and are pleased to say that we have both passed…. I think the cheesy smiles say it all!!

We hadn’t been away in Hattie since being in Bath in January with everything else going on but we did manage to make the most of nine days down in the New Forest at the end of February, catching up with a few friends as well as exploring some new areas.

Our first stop – after a night on Chris and Annie’s driveway – was Southern Comfort CL, near Ringwood, Dorset (£20pn inc.) which came with three beautiful Alpacas, a brood of very inquisitive chickens and three very friendly dogs… not to mention the lovely owners!

The photos are deceptive, taken in between rain showers. The campsite was perfect for what we wanted as it wasn’t too far from Moors Valley Country Park which had loads of walking and cycling routes as well as cafes, a mini steam train and activities for kids should you want them! There was also a great farm shop and cafe a couple of miles away in the opposite direction with lots of lovely local produce enabling us to stock up on the necessities.

Despite the weather being a little intermittent we managed to do a fair bit of walking around the area in the four days we were there and will definately revisit again to explore further.

Moving all of 20 miles down the road to Green Pastures CL, Lymington, Hampshire (£17pn inc) – we found another beautifully sunny spot on the Sunday when we arrived.

I am particularly fond of holding on to the memories of the sunshine above as it was very warming. Not long after taking the photos, Keith and I went out for a walk to make the most of being right on the edge of the New Forest whilst also being aware of the rain which was forecast for the rest of our stay, arriving back at the motorhome and not being able to get in!

Having only one door to get in and out was a concern when we first got Hattie – especially having had the habitation door handle break on us in Mika, our previous motorhome – however, thankfully until this beautiful Sunday afternoon in the New Forest… it hadn’t been an issue!

After some initial jigging, banging and tousling, we were getting nowhere. The lock was stuck fast and the encasement for the door wasn’t being particularly helpful either…. this was going to take some time! Keith had the support of Andy Bottle, the Magic Motorhome Man, who talked him through what he needed to do get access… not bad for a Sunday afternoon at 4:30! It took about an hour and a half but he did get it sorted and I did get reunited with some warmth along with my gin and tonic as the sun went down….. I definately needed one by then! That said, I had been kept entertained by a neighbouring caravan putting up its awning and they did very kindly make me a cup of tea to keep me warm… so I can’t really complain!

The lock was all working fine until two weeks ago – a Sunday again weirdly – when it popped out again, this time doing exactly what Andy Bottle had thought it had done originally so we were actually able to apply his suggested fix…. fingers crossed it is all sorted now and its not just a Sunday thing!!

The rest of our three days just outside Lymington went smoothly with lots of lovely walking in the New Forest and we even managed to squeeze in a coffee with Tracey whilst Chris was studying, and explore their local seaside town of Milford on Sea.

After our 9 days away we headed back to base in Holyport to catch up with family and friends and as I am so poor in my admin and didn’t get a chance to finish the blog… we have actually been away and come back again now …. another little 9 day trip at three different sites, exploring a new area yet again.

As we only had 9 days again, we decided to venture not too far away from home…. our first stop on this little trip being Copse Side Farm CL – £15 per night inc. which is about half a mile from the village of Ansty, Salisbury, an amazingly peaceful place with lots of walking from the doorstep.

Ansty, and the CL we stayed on, sit just alongside Cranbourne Chase which is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – completely new to us and very unspoilt. Our three days gave us enough time to explore footpaths in several directions taking in the stunning views, a visit to the local farm shop which had an abundance of Rhubarb grown on site (it is a seasonal farm and has PYO in a couple of months), as well as a walk to Tisbury which is the local village with a small co-op, boots pharmacy and several lovely looking cafes and deli’s …. right up our street. It looks like it has fully embraced COVID and is thriving on locally produced and home made goods – we will be back to sample some more!

Moving on from Ansty …. as I still didn’t get a chance to finish the blog – we headed North to Church Farm CL (£17 per night inc.) situated in a little village South West of Marlborough called Stanton St Bernard.

The campsite was on the edge of the Kennet and Avon Canal surrounded by fields with horses. Once again there were lots of footpaths and bridal ways to explore in both directions along the canal, up onto the ridge and into Tan Hill National Park as well as onto the Alton Barnes White Horse.

There was also a lovely little village with a nice pub and community shop a short walk away along the canal – a perfect little bit of tranquility for a short break.

As it was just another three night stop, there wasn’t enough time to do everything and we moved on again on Monday to our final stop which was a quick 31 miles up the road in the direction of base camp – Rhodeside CL in Curridge (£20 per night inc.) just north of Thatcham and Newbury.

Needing a bit of a restock, we popped into the Cobbs Farm shop which was en route where we managed to find ample fruit and veg to fill our stomachs over the next few days as well as some local beer.

We really lucked out on this trip as all three CLs we stayed at were chosen randomly based on the criteria of having hard standing and being in areas that looked like they would have decent walking….. and we were trying to do a little less travelling due to the stupidly high fuel prices. All of which though, have been lovely, tranquil sites – the last one being no exception despite the fact that it was closer to two larger towns and only just off of the M4 / A34. You wouldn’t have known where it was if you hadn’t looked at a map, as again it was surrounded by fields and horses in every direction, with loads of bridalways and footpaths heading up onto ridges, into the forest and uniting you with civilisation if you wanted it … but you had to be searching it out!!

All in all a lovely 9 days away and we were amazingly lucky with the weather, despite the last few days looking like they were going to be pretty bad. All of the sites are not too far from base and have lots of lovely areas to explore whether summer or winter so a good little rekkie but we will be back for more.

There has been a fair bit of cooking, experimenting and eating going on – no surprises there as it has been a while – some of the new delights that we have found and will be repeating include the following:-
Socca – a kind of pancake / wrap / flat bread which works really well with curries or sweet
Millionaires Biscuit– Vegan Style…. slightly healthier version as it uses dates in the caramel but pretty delicious, not going back to the original now!
Confit Garlic – we tried this at Bertinets Kitchen and its so simple and tasty I made some to use in salads and pizzas. So simple, literally put whole cloves of garlic in their skin in good quality oil and cook gently for about 45 minutes until soft. Leave to cool and take the skins off. Store in a sealed container in the oil in the fridge.
Salmon Crust and Miso Onions – a Nadiya Hussain recipe which works really well. Simple and tasty.
Greenhouse Couscous Salad – a Jamie Oliver recipe which is full of flavour and really simple. Great for lunch or a side for dinner
Aubergine and Blackbean Bowl – delicious, quick lunch or breakfast from Dr Rupy
Vegan Chocolate Tarte – shared by a fellow Gastrovanner, non cook simple but full of flavour dessert
Spinach and Mushroom Tart – A plant based quiche type dish which was full of flavour and deliciousness…. and we switched some of the ingredients on

Root Vegetable Salad with Teryaki crispy Tofu – Another Dr Rupy lunch recipe which is simple and delicious
Harissa Polenta with Vegetables – My first use of Polenta… despite my apprehension, I was impressed by the speed, consistency and flavour
Giant Oat, Raisin and Chocolate Chip Cookie – Can’t go wrong….. absolute deliciousness
Giant ginger nut cookie – Mary Berry definately knows how to make these as the recipe was delicious. It turned out a little cakey as it was a bit too thick in the Remoska but still delicious!
Nutty Bean Curry – Simple Quick and full of flavour…. another keeper

We have also been playing around with the bread a bit more – perfecting our sourdough rolls, making sourdough pizza, more sourdough Chicago Pizza Pie and breadsticks as well as trying out white dough, olive doughs and Rye with Focaccia, twirls, breadsticks and making a sweet dough to make some amazing brioche buns to go with Aubergine and Halloumi burgers….

Kicking off 2022 in style…. 24/1/2022

2021 ended in with lots of good food – as it should – and it is fair to say that 2022 has started in an equally good way!!

The Christmas festivities started with a trip out to ‘The Kitchen’ at Reading College for a Christmas lunch by their catering college students…. and to be fair to them, they did a pretty good job…. we will go back and try the restaurant again, although how they managed to make the Almond tart so flavourless – I have no idea!

We followed this by a couple of family gatherings and Christmas day in the motorhome…. Keith even managed to cook fruit cake in the Remoska on Christmas day just to get a bit of the Christmas spice going before we popped the ‘Christmas’ pie – containing everything from brussel sprouts to chestnuts – in the Remoska…. delicious!!

New Year was equally homely for us – just how we like it – and we celebrated in our traditional manner… good food, good wine, port and sloe gin and a few games of Settlers of Catan – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!! This year we opted for three completely new dishes that we hadn’t tried before – Red Onion Tarte Tatin, Cheesey Chou buns and Cheesey, Nutty Brussels… all of which tasted lovely, although the brussels sprouts didn’t quite come out as planned as the crust didn’t stick to the brussel sprout….. which kind of defeated the object. The first two are definite repeaters, the last will need some improvement if it is going to get back on the menu!! It was however a lovely way to bring the New Year in….

So here we are… 2022 – despite everyone complaining about not having done anything during Covid19 – it is incredible how quickly the time has gone and yet another year has passed us by. My mother would say that is what getting older does to you, blink and it is gone… thankfully we have enjoyed every moment and intend to do the same for the coming years as well!

Apart from Christmas festivities, meeting up with friends and family and cooking at home we did have a quick trip down to Bath to do a 5 day Bread making course @ Richard Bertinet’s cookery school…. such an amazing experience, although it is fair to say that we did eat our weight in bread type produce over the period of 10 days… breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between!

It took us just over a week to get through the rest of the bread that we brough home from the course – although we do still have a loaf of sourdough in Keith’s mum’s freezer – but we have started to bake again….. a la Richard Bertinet style.
Now, for someone who had been baking bread by hand for 8+ years in the motorhome – although I knew I had lots to learn and went into the course completely open minded – I hadn’t quite appreciated the difference in technique that could be applied to gain different results. It is fair to say that I have gone back to basics and thrown my ‘old style kneading’ out the window and welcomed in the ‘slapping’ and ‘folding’ approach, which introduces more air into the dough with what appears to be great results… even in the motorhome. We were initially apprehensive about how we would recreate the technique in the small space but we are now half way through our second attempt at rolls using the new technique accompanied with only ferment instead of yeast, and we have made two batches of indian yoghurt wholemeal flatbreads as well as lots of ferment crackers…. all of which have been delicious but still need a little bit of tweeking to improve….. look at the crumb on the rolls below!!

Just in case you want to see what he looks like….’Fergie’ the Ferment – which is what we are now using instead of Yeast – is the honeycombed beauty in the top left picture above.
As always we have been enjoying cooking both for ourselves and others… experimenting with recipes and what we can/can’t do in the motorhome!! New recipes over the last month or so include the following :-
Baked Potatoes in the Remoska – yes, its daft but we hadn’t ever done them before and …. they are great!!
Chicago Pizza Pie – Mark 2 – the process was the same as the cauliflower cheese pizza pie, although this time we made the nice thick spicy tomato sauce – which we use in our enchilladas – and used the vegan parmesan cheese recipe that I put in the moussaka – tasted great and didn’t feel quite as stodgy!
Onion Tarte Tatin – it was really simple and tasty and I reckon adding a bit of goats cheese or feta would work really well too.
Cheesey Chou Buns – very simple and tasty as a starter or nibbles to go with drinks
Pumpkin Rice – quick and easy Jamie Oliver recipe which worked really well
Indian Yoghurt Flatbreads – Richard Bertinet’s recipe from his Crumb book…. nice and tangy if using the ferment
Rum Soaked Prunes – a little treat that Richard Bertinet introduced to us whilst on his course…. put some prunes in a container, cover with rum and leave for at least 3 days…. delicious in an expresso coffee, as part of affogato dessert, or as we tried out on Bruce and Sarah – on top of my chocolate mouse cake…. what a lovely kick!!

It is fair to say that we still have alot to learn but that we are going to enjoy practising!! We just need to go back to basics and focus on one thing at a time as it is so easy to get distracted by the excitement of trying out something new…. ciabatta here we come !!

Where did 2021 go? – 23/12/21

I can only apologise as time appears to have run away with me and we appear to have almost arrived at Christmas without us realising…. which means this is going to be a long blog as we have been all over the place since my last update!!

We can’t complain as we had a fantastic autumn, a relatively dry summer … and it has actually been reasonably warm apart for a little blip in November – and yesterday whilst I was finishing this blog – I can’t believe that it is the week before Christmas and it is looking like it is going to stay relatively mild for the foreseeble future….

Since my last blog we had to cancel part of a trip away at the beginning of November as we had a little issue with our engine battery ….. we tried to get Hattie started and she wasn’t having any of it – dead as a dodo – oddly, just as the temperatures dropped below zero. Like chips, (not the vegetable) motorhome parts and many other items – apparently truck batteries are also in short supply – so it took us a week to get the battery replaced, by which time we had also had our cider tasting lunch and weekend in Timsbury cancelled due to COVID19… so it was all fate – just one of those trips that wasn’t meant to happen for one reason or another. We did however manage to do the last part of the planned trip and made it to Bath for a week which was good as it meant we caught up with a few friends, actually ending up being a far more relaxed stay than it normally is as we always end up flitting all over the place to see people, so a bonus all round.

Whilst being back in Holyport we had more time to walk locally and one of our favourite walks is over to Bray Lake and along the Thames. The photo below was from an afternoon walk just as the mist was starting towards the end of the day… not quite as spectacular as the view we were given last year – but I am still hopeful, just highlights what an amazingly beautiful thing nature is…

We also took advantage of our base to venture up to London a couple of times which has been a bit or a rarity since Covid19 hit 20 months ago. There is some good that has come out of Covid as now, venturing into London tends not to be property related but instead focussed around food…. but what else would you expect!!

I can’t remember the last time that we were in London at this time of year when the days are crisp and dusk is early – just so beautiful with the lights in the city of london – especially over the river Thames, again a rarity that we go out and then are on the Southbank at this time of night – so lucky to have such a beautiful city on our doorstep and on our last trip up we even got to see the Christmas lights which were pretty…. although the Christmas windows were a bit disappointing – nothing like they used to be when I was younger!!

One of the trips was to take advantage of an incredible offer to eat at Richard Corrigans ‘Bentleys Oyster Bar and Grill’ – a wonderful experience for a special occassion. This is now our second visit to one of Richard Corrigans restaurant’s and both times we have had our eyes opened to Oysters – …. and I can confirm that we are definately converts – but probably will be very picky about where we eat them as this could become a bit of an expensive ‘taste’! It is fair to say that everything from the shared seafood platter through to the dessert via the fish and chips and fish stew were delicious.

With London behind us and Hattie back up and running we planned another little trip away and set off down for our last little trip of the year on the 2nd December … starting off in Minehead at the Motorhome and Caravan Club site (£18.84 per night inc). I had been a little dubious about going to Minehead as although we started the South West Coastal Path there in 2005, we didn’t actually stay there or walk into the town center and all I could think of was that it was renound for its Butlins site… so assumed the worst – such a snob that I am, sorry.
I was however proved wrong, very wrong – yes, the Butlins site is huge and at the end of the promenade – but, the town itself is actually not too bad.

We had chosen to go South/West rather than towards Yorkshire for this trip because of the weather but what appeared to have been pretty good on the long range forecast changed fairly quickly to be very windy and wet…. thankfully most of the ‘wet’ ended up being overnight.

We spent one day walking into town and along the seafront which was showing the signs of a very blustery couple of weeks with a lot of sand built up on the promenade… it certainly helped blow the cobwebs away and I think probably made Keith’s morning run on the Saturday at least 50% harder!!

In addition to the town itself we also managed to walk out to Dunster and look at the castle, take in a little Christmas market and enjoy some lovely local mulled cider and brownies – a proper Christmassy treat.

Then the following day we headed up into the hills above Minehead between Staunton and Headon Plantations – a beautiful walk along part of the Macmillan way. Although I would say it is a shame that dusk comes so early as it cut some of our walks short, however the light that the shorter winter days gives is quite exceptional showing nature in all its glory.

Having spent four nights in Minehead it was soon time to move all of 18 miles down the road to Exmoor House Clubsite in Dulverton (£24.60 per night inc.) Although the distance was short, the windy, narrow road took us along the side of the river Axe through Exmoor – a beautiful but slow journey.

Once parked up we headed out for a bit of fresh air, hoping to avoid the torrential rain showers that came as quickly as they went… unfortunately we made it all of 10 minutes into the woods and the heavens opened and gave us a good drenching… thankfully we had taken our waterproofs with us. Ten minutes later the rain stopped and the clouds cleared, providing us with a view of the beautiful hills surrounding us…. I’ve definately found my happy place – fast running water, beautiful forest and hills!

Although we were expecting the weather to be bad for pretty much the entire period we were in Dulverton – we were pleasantly surprised and managed to get some nice walks in on all three days – albeit not too long and we couldn’t actually see any further than about 200m on Thursday afternoon when we walked up into the hills… just means we need to come back again to explore further!!

We visited Dulverton 20+ years ago, staying at the Mill House Bed and Breakfast where we had an open fire and breakfast served in our bedroom and despite sending both my brother and his wife and Keiths sister and her husband here, we hadn’t been back since which is a shame. Lucky we don’t need any accomodation as the bed and breakfast is up for sale… although most importantly Woods Restaurant – which we visited all those years ago and was exceptionally good at the time – is still there and, still serving amazingly good local, seasonal produce…. we won’t be leaving it so long this time before we come back…. that Smoked Haddock Chowder was to die for!

We moved on again on Friday morning working our way back to Broadway Club site in the Cotswolds (£23.66 per night inc.) We had been trying to get to Broadway for a few months and either it was full when we wanted to go, or the last time we had to cancel due to our battery dying….this time we made it though and were not disappointed.

I had heard that Broadway was supposed to be ‘the most beautiful’ of the Cotswold towns and it is fair to say that it is. Possibly a combination of the long, wide high street, the architecture (obviously Cotswold Stone), variety of shops, Christmassy feel and the rolling hills surrounding the town… a lovely combination although it is fair to say that living close by could be expensive with the fanastic deli, coffee shops and clothing shops.

We managed to catch up with Pete and Liz on the Friday night as they live reasonably locally and didn’t mind venturing over to join us for a bit of Risotto and Bakewell Tart… they even brought their motorhome with which wasn’t expected – by them or us… sorry Pete – couldn’t resist it!

Then on Saturday we had an impromptu coffee with some other friends who happened to be staying at another campsite close by… who’d have known that Broadway would have proven to be so social for us!!

We did make it out for a lovely walk up to Broadway tower on the Sunday, which although the tower itself is under refurbishment – the views were spectacular… another place to come back to and explore further.

Although we have been enjoying eating out a little more, we are still cooking alot in the motorhome and have been experimenting with a few new delicacies…. if you want to call them that!!
Cheesy Cauliflower Cobbler – Such as simple, flavoursome dish…. and the cobblers could be used on top of most stews, they were so light and airy
Onion Bhaji – Thank you Liz… so simple to make and no deep fat frying required
Cauliflower Dupiaza – Nice, quick alternative curry
Mushroom Risotto – not sure why I hadn’t tried this one before but it is really quick and easy and again full of flavour
Aubergine Sambah – another lightly spiced dhal which you can eat with breads or rice
Rainbow Veggie Fried Rice – a last minute, tasty, quick dish to make that is full of whatever leftover vegetables you have
Corn Chowder – a really simple, thick warming soup
Cauliflower Cheese Chicago Pizza Pie – yep, you wouldn’t believe it but actually…. it was pretty impressive!!

We have finally given up on re-creating the plant based yorkshire pudding in the Remoska in the motorhome. Although we have had varying flavour sucesses, they remain to be flat flying saucers… and you certainly wouldn’t describe them as being ‘light and airy’….. the Remoska just doesn’t get hot enough.

The first (and now second) batch of mince pies have been made and for the first time in his life, Keith actually made popcorn in the motorhome – I thought everyone made it when they were younger – but what he missed out on exploding corn kernal excitement when he was younger, he will be making up for in his 50’s and for many years to come no doubt!!

So… we are staying put for the next couple of weeks, catching up with family and friends locally whilst the world goes crazy over Christmas.. but we will be back on the road again in January. So, enjoy the festivities and lets hope that 2022 brings everyone health, happiness, some travelling possibly slightly further a field and lots of lovely food!!

And just in case you would like to see where we have been over the last couple of months…..

A little autumnal tour…. 27/10/2021

It feels like we have been away for ages this time round as we have seen so many people and found so many beautiful places to explore a little further but it is only two and a half weeks and just coming to an end. This little adventure was based around the re-scheduled ‘Concorde’ meet, originally planned for last November, venue checked in May and finally visited in October!

We set off on Saturday 11th October to our little CL (Orchard Farm) just outside Lutterworth to see the donkeys…. sorry, I meant Gail and the kids… the donkeys were an added bonus – and so very lovely with it!!

Following Lutterworth we wiggled our way across to Melton Mowbray where we were meeting 24 other Concordes of all different shapes and sizes, from just under 6m long to over 11.5m….I think we also managed to have almost every breed of dog amongst the group as well – quite a turnout! It was lovely to see both new and known faces and the weather was kind to us, despite it being a little autumnal and the nights closing in early.

The Eye Kettleby Lakes campsite is lovely and open with the Southern site having especially beautiful views out over the rolling hills. It has a fantastic set up offering a wonderful clubhouse which we took over half of on all three nights, fishing lakes, lodges (which we didn’t think we would need but one of our group ended up staying in!) and apparently great showers and toilets. We had a great few days catching up with everyone and I am sure we will be back at some point…. especially for the fish and chips on the Wednesday night as they were excellent… just a word of warning start queuing early for your ticket!

Leaving Melton Mowbray, we headed just a few miles West to get to the John Thompson Brewery and Inn in a tiny hamlet called Ingleton, Derbyshire which is a pub stop, allowing motorhomers to stay overnight if they eat or drink in the pub. It was an absolutely stunning location and we had chosen it as we were meeting up with Kevin and Petra who were ‘houseboat-bound’ following an operation. We were planning to do a food platter at theirs and wanted to buy some locally brewed take-outs – unfortunately however, since COVID19 hit they no longer brew their own beer so instead we popped in for a drink before we headed out for the night. The pub was not only set in a stunning location but also beautiful inside with lots of open fires and a lovely looking menu so we will be back to try it out properly in the future. The platter – which was a combined effort between narrow boat and motorhome was pretty good too…. focaccia, falafels, lentil sausage rolls, hummus, home made chutneys, pork pie, locally smoked mackerel and local cheese to name just a few delights…. definately to be repeated!

It was however just a one night stop as we originally planned to meet Kevin and Petra at our next location – White Lodge CL and Campsite, Great Haywood, Staffordshire – £20 per night inc.

The campsite is located just 500m from two different branches of canal as well as the river Trent, not to mention the Shugborough Estate which is a National Trust property – so plenty of beautiful walking… we simply couldn’t do it justice in the two nights we had there.

Also 500m down the road from the campsite was a wonderful farm shop and cafe and the village has a couple of nice looking pubs too… definately lots to explore here and we are keen to come back to spend a bit more time in the area.

Unfortunately however, we had already booked our next spot so moved on to Shrewsbury where we squeezed our way into Coton Hill Farm CS – £5 per person, per night without electricity. When I say squeezed…. the entrance was interesting to say the least… a very beautiful old farm house which obviously used to have an incredible kitchen garden… although that Chimney looks ominous! We did however decide to stick to the hard standing area rather than go into the orchard – although beautiful it was a little soggy and on a slope.

The CS was just 1 mile from the center of Shrewsbury, which is both a beautiful and interesting town with incredible architecture and hundreds of independent, interesting boutiques and coffee shops. As the center of the town is built on a hill in the middle of a bend in the river Severn everything is a little higgledy piggledy, with lots of lovely garden areas dotted in between tudor buildings and the water. A really lovely place for a couple of days away, especially at this time of year when all the trees are turning and despite the gloomy weather they shine through, providing beautiful colour.

Another short drive – this time starting to head South – and we arrived in Hereford, parking up at the Rowing Club (£7.50 pppn) on the River Wye…. literally. Thankfully it had been dry over the last few weeks and had only started raining in the proceeding couple of days as I think we would possibly otherwise have been looking for an alternative.

It rained a fair bit more over the first 24 hours but the river stayed below the banks and we had opted to park on the area close to the track so didn’t have any issues. When the sun came out though, it came in force and enabled us to catch up with the washing and take in some of the surrounding countryside as well as the beautiful cathedral.

We also managed to catch up with Clive and Sue who were with us last week in Melton Mowbray and live fairly closely…. any excuse for coffee and cake! Hereford is a nice, working town with a mix of all the necessary shops – probably supporting quite a large area as they appeared to have more than their fair share of supermarkets – as well as a few really interesting, quirky areas with nice deli’s and coffee shops. We hadn’t realised it until we arrived but it is also home to Trekitt which is our weakness in outdoor clothing – I am not sure how but although there was a good amount of trying on clothes, no money actually parted….yet!

Leaving the rising river Wye behind us, we set off from Hereford on Friday and headed into the Cotswolds, an area that we haven’t previously explored in the motorhome. The campsite we had planned to visit was full – and that was when we tried to book a couple of months ago – so we searched out another little CL and fell upon Greystone Farm (£14 inc elec) which is just outside Blockley.

It’s a working dairy farm set in a beautiful location between a couple of small villages, each with its own pub! The farm itself has roughly 250 cattle along with a few very small calves and they also have a ‘honesty’ farm hut where you can stock up on milk, ice cream, meat and preserves.

We set off into Chipping Campden to explore on our first afternoon – trying to avoid the weekend tourists, then over the next few days had several lovely walks taking in Blockley, Draycott, Paxford and the Batsford Arboretum – absolutely beautiful.

Although not specifically planned, we were only about 12 miles from where Pete and Liz have moved to and they very kindly came and picked us up, gave us a little tour of their new neighbourhood and fed us on the Saturday night… I think we will be back again!

We are now back at the farm, having stopped last night just outside Lambourn in West Berkshire so we could have a new water pump fitted on the motorhome, the gas serviced and the habitation check. Although we had been to the workshop before we hadn’t had a chance to do any walking in the area but despite the greyness and drizzle, we managed to do a lovely walk this morning taking in the rolling hills and racehorses before settling down in a cafe until the works on the motorhome were finished….another habitation check passed without problems.

Food as always takes a high priority in our world and have been experimenting some more…

Keith is on a quest to make Vegan Yorkshire puddings in the Remoska… to date we have tried 3 times, twice we have ended up with a slightly uncooked but very flavoursom flying saucer and one slightly overcooked, flaovourless flying saucer……needless the quest continues!

As we are entering the slightly ‘fresher’ period of the year we are slowing down the salads and increasing the soups for lunch and bringing out the pies and curries with avengeance!

New recipes (apart from the Yorkshire Pud as I won’t pass it on until we get it right) as follows:-

Epic Baked Beans
Blackbean, Quinoa and Squash Hot Pot
Tadka Dahl

We also did a few experiments with fresh coconut as we had some in our oddbox… we cooked them in the oven to loosen the hairy shell which cracked off then…
– We pierced the eyes and took the coconut water out
– Cooked the whole coconut at roughly 180 degrees in the oven and the hairy husk came off easily
– Peeled the coconut flesh to remove the brown skin
– Grated the flesh to create the ‘shredded coconut meat’

We then added 400ml of water to 200g of shredded coconut meat and passed it through muslin to give us
– dessicated coconut
– coconut milk

We used the coconut water in porridge along with roughly 4 tbsp of the non-dry desiccated coconut (i.e. the left overcoconut meat that we extracted the milk from)
And used one part of the coconut milk in a Curry, the other in a Biryiani… not quite as creamy as the 100% coconut cream we normally use but that is probably due to the mix to water- probably should have been 200ml to 200g of coconut… but a good experiment!

Dorset and beyond…. 11/10/2021

A bit late on publishing…. but better late than never!

Following a short stop back at the farm, having squeezed in our impromptu trip to Germany, we had booked to gate crash Keith’s sister and husbands’ holiday in Dorset for a few nights so hit the road again on Sunday 12th September with a journey down to Crossways Clubsite just outside of Dorchester.

Although we don’t normally stay on larger campsites – simply because we prefer quieter locations with less people – this one was one of the nicest we have been too as it is very secluded within the woods, with roughly 8 caravans or motorhomes in each grassed, tranquil, enclave. There was a lot of space and despite it being close to a trainline and a fairly busy road we had several visitors over the course of the 3 days… of the four legged variety!

Sharon and Steve were staying the week and ventured off in the car to explore further afield during the day, whilst we were happy exploring a bit of the local countryside by foot… very tranquil and beautiful…. although I am not sure we will be eating any of the shrooms.

We did hunt out the local brewery ‘Dorset Brewing Company’ – who, it turns out, make rather good beer and then all met up in the evening to eat, venturing out to The Frampton Arms, the local pub for a lovely meal on our last night … delicious spicy cauliflower soup, scallops, moules and fish and chips.

We moved on from Crossways on the Wednesday, leaving Sharon and Steve to enjoy the rest of their holiday in peace, travelling all of 20 miles further along the coast to Manor Farm CS in Burton Bradstock (£18 per night inc. elec.)

Burton Bradstock is a small village with two pubs, a post office with a small farm shop inside it, a cafe and a fuel station with a convenience store – not a huge amount but one of the pubs is supposed to be the best in Dorset… something we hadn’t appreciated until we arrived and tried to book a table on a Friday night…. oh well, next time!

The area is beautiful with lots of walking inland through the rolling hills and of course the south west coastal path which is pretty stunning too as the Jurassic coast is famous for its beautiful red rock and layers.

On the first afternoon we headed inland over the hills – finding a nice farm shop and cider farm hidden away – and then back along the coast but it was a bit too misty for photos unfortunately. It cleared up though by the morning and we again headed inland, this time to Bridport, stopping for lunch in the community apple orchard, before exploring the pretty little town and trying out one of the many coffee shops. After lunch and coffee – and finding Palmers Brewery which we will need to come back to visit – we headed back to the motorhome along the coastal path.

The next day, with the sun shining yet again we walked along the coast, following the rolling cliff edges into Seatown where we stopped on the beach for a peaceful spot of lunch.

The return walk gave us beautiful light to capture West Bay at its best…. who’d have thought it was September in the UK!

The days passed quickly and it was soon time to move on again. We travelled all of 5 miles up the road to stop at Felicities Farm shop where we re-stocked on fruit, veg, more beer and local cheese as well as obviously supporting the local baker by enjoying a coffee in the garden with a generous slice of carrot and walnut cake – one of the best farm shops that we have been too, not to mention the rather beautiful views. We then continued on another short drive to arrive at our next destination of Green Lane Farm, Rousdon on the edge of a working dairy farm costing a huge £6.50 a night!

Although a very tranquil location and with lots of walking, it was very difficult to get to the coastal path from here without walking along the main road which wouldn’t have been fun… so we took alternative routes to explore the area.

We had planned to walk into Lyme Regis the first afternoon but after a bit of main road, got diverted through the rather interesting Rousdon Estate and ended up looping round and going into the rather beautiful Seaton…. slightly longer than planned but all the same, lovely – especially the views up the estuary.

Planning it slightly better on day two, we headed up and over the rolling hills to get into Lyme Regis, arriving just in time to have lunch sitting looking out to sea – very beautiful. Day 3 gave us even more beautiful rolling hills as we set off on an inland loop after we caught up on the washing…. certainly been getting the steps and hills in on this trip!

It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful our countryside is – every time we turn a corner and go somewhere new there is more stunning scenary, even as it got greyer and the light changed it was equally beautiful, just different.

Next stop was Oakdown Campsite, £23 per night inc. elec. which is situated between Beer and Sidmouth. A lovely site, although next time we will ask for a pitch slightly further away from the main road as after the last week and a half of pure tranquility, it felt noisy!

We took a leisurely walk to Branscombe taking in a few streams…. literally, before circling back on the opposite side of the valley… you can see the trend here – lots of hills, before popping into the campsite shop to check out their supply of local ciders and beer!

The following day we walked down to the coastal path and into Sidmouth to once again benefit from a lovely lunch looking along the jurassic coast. Once the appetite was satisfied we climbed back up away from the coast again and inland, passing through the Donkey Sanctuary on the way back.

I love a donkey and obviously to support all the work that they are doing here we felt the need to stop and have a cream tea whilst taking in the views as all profits go straight back into the sanctuary…. supporting good causes and all that… someone has to do the difficult jobs!!

And for our last day in Dorset, waking to a slightly greyer day we set off in the opposite direction towards Beer and as the day progressed the sun came out to support us – another stunning section of the coastal path with some goolish mushrooms to support!!

With the sunshine thinking about taking a break we realised that it was possibly time to head away from the coast and towards home, next stop being a Camping and Caravan clubsite in Devizes – once again, not somewhere we would normally stay but it has had so many good reviews and is right next to the canal so we thought we would try it out for three nights.

The campsite was lovely and peaceful despite being pretty much full. We walked up into the local village of Seend where we found the village shop which combined a post office, convenience store and farm shop…. loads of lovely locally grown vegetables still encased in lots of mud – just to provide the authenticity – but exactly what was required to re-stock the cupboards for a few extra days!

We had a lovely couple of days walking along the canal, the first day was just an out and back, taking in a few locks and the tranquil countryside stopping short of Trowbridge. Day two was focussed around Sunday lunch which was booked at the George and Dragon in Rowde – but which gave us a good route to take in the full set of 29 Caen Hill Locks which was absolutely stunning. The George and Dragon incidently, was amazingly good! It is listed in the Michelin recommended restaurants and pubs and did not fail to deliver from beginning through to end – if we are in the area, we will be back!

We had a lovely couple of weeks away, did loads of walking and were so lucky with the weather as it was particularly good. After a lovely few days at the Devizes campsite we headed back to the farm where the last two weeks have just disappeared.

We managed to squeeze in our annual Macmillan coffee morning at my mums, raising over £400 which was very impressive considering we still had to restrict the number of people who came! A lovely day and lots of fantastic cake…an excellent family effort!!

And just to help you out on your geography…. a map of the last trip.

A mini tour of Sussex and an Impromptu trip…. 9/9/2021

A busy few weeks … where did the summer go?
We bit the bullet and decided to do a small trip to East Sussex during the summer holidays but soon realised that finding campsites was going to be more complicated than expected so we cut it short and were only away for a week.

We set off down to Rye on Friday 6th August and it is fair to say that travelling on the M25 on a Friday during summer holidays is not a good idea… now we have done it twice, we won’t be repeating it, even though it was the morning!

We had decided to go down to Sussex to do the 1066 walk – 30+ miles of beautiful trail that runs from Rye through to Pevensey Bay… however we couldn’t find anywhere to stay near Pevensey Bay so only managed to cover some of the route, which to be fair was pretty beautiful.

After travelling through North, Central and South America with my parents in a motorhome in the 1980’s we came back and settled in St Leonards on Sea, Sussex – so I know the area pretty well…. although it has been 30 years since I left! Keith however, hadn’t been to Battle or Rye…. or if he had it was playing hockey and he didn’t remember any of it!

Rye was therefore our first stop and the CL – The Old Dairy, Playden, Rye (£20 p/n inc. elect) was situated a couple of miles outside Rye itself and had stunning views out over the rolling hills.

We set off to explore Rye itself on Friday afternoon as I know it used to get really busy with tourists over the weekend and to be fair it seemed pretty quiet – not like a remembered it from 30 + years ago. It is still a really pretty town but mostly taken over by holiday lets and holiday type shops rather than the boutiques and artisanial type places I remembered which is a shame – although still well kept.

It wasn’t all about the town though… more about the walking for us and despite the very temperamental weather we managed to get some good walking in over the next couple of days.

We decided to do two different long circular walks – the first out towards Battle, dropping down to Winchelsea and then back along the coast which was brought back lots of childhood memories of the Flamingo’s that settled in the area at certain times of the year…

and the second along the river with long grass in torrential rain and strong winds…. not particularly photogenic, very, very wet but still quite nice at the end!! We even managed to find a sheltered stile to sit on for lunch in a wooded area, protecting us from the worst of the elements… and thankfully it had started to dry out after lunch so we avoided the soggy aftermath in the motorhome!

We left Rye on the Monday and did a short wiggle, cross country to arrive at Battle…. another CL out the back of a garden centre (£16 per night inc. elec.)
I used to catch the bus out to Battle to go to secondary school so once settled in, we set off for a little walk to see what had changed in the 30 years since I left! The answer being not much apart from the fact that they are knocking down the school to build a new one!

We had a lovely few days despite everything being quite soggy under foot when we arrived, it soon dried out. We managed to catch up with our washing and do several really lovely walks – through the forest, then down the 1066 Bexhil branch, then out on the main 1066 Rye branch and then finally to a place called ‘Brown Bread Street’ on the 1066 towards Pevensey Bay.

All in all a lovely relaxing few days away and definately worth more of a visit as i’d like to get back to St Leonards and Hastings as well – if nothing else to revisit the fishing port where I remember buying dover sole direct from the boats in my childhood.

We settled back into Holyport and catching up with friends for the rest of August and even ventured to the Fi-Fest on Bank Holiday weekend which was conveniently being held on the farm… just a few fields over!! The first festival in a long time but it was pretty good – very safe and a good choice of bands… just a shame that the Lightening Seeds didn’t quite come up to scratch as the closing act…. everyone else was excellent!

A bit of a last minute decision…. and it really was last minute – we decided to book a Eurotunnel ticket and go to Dusseldorf to visit the motorhome exhibition. Despite not planning to go to Europe at all this year, we figured that if we wanted to have a look at what options were available over the next couple of years, the only way to do it was to head to Dusseldorf as no-one has any stock and won’t have for the forseeable future.

Covid Tests in hand, a clear out of all fruit and veg, wine and sprits (dont worry we didn’t waste anything) – the meat part wasn’t too difficult – we drove down to Folkestone on Tuesday and were parked up romantically nestled in between two other beautiful Concordes on the bank of the Rhine by Wednesday night… I am sure the camera plays tricks on the eye as we aren’t that small !!