Hattie goes glamping…28/7/18

We have been putting Hattie’s new air suspension and hydrolics to the test over the last couple of weeks and taking in some more of the beautiful Yorkshire countryside staying on some fantastically uneven grass sites just to make sure that everything works as it should !


I’d like to say that we have been lucky with the weather but we are starting to feel a little sorry for the farmers as they are unfortunately already starting on their winter feed for the dairy cows as the grass is so dry.

Saying that, our last day in Ripley was wet.  We had already decided to do the walk over to Masham, a lovely village and home to both the Black Sheep and Theakstones breweries so we just got wet but were rewarded by The Black sheep brewery bar and restaurant – which has been done out really well, something for everyone …. wine, gin, beer and even coffee and the food looked pretty good too!  Theakstones was a bit more rustic, but there was still opportunity to buy a beer or two and while we did so the sun came out again to help dry us out!

Waking to another corker of a morning we both set off on hilly runs in opposite directions, heading off after breakfast an hour back south to Otley where we had booked in at the Plantation CL (£9 a night no elec).  The entrance was lined with low hanging and narrow fitting trees so poor ‘ol Hattie took a little bit of a scraping …. before the owners told us we could have come in the next entrance up which was much more Hattie friendly …. needless to say we went out the other way!

We parked up in our little field and sorted ourselves out before heading off into Otley for a little look around and to find a pub to watch the World Cup 3rd/4th playoff.  Not having been to the area before we hadn’t quite appreciated that the 1.5miles that we were outside Otley were almost vertically downwards …. or should I say upwards when walking home… I think that we had sweated off all the alcohol consumed by the time we got back to motorhome so we can call it a ‘cleansing’ location!


Otley itself sits on a river and is beautiful.  It is a market town but just has that lovely feel to it of normality but a little bit quirky.  We had decided to visit it because it had a food festival on on the Sunday – to be fair it was probably a bit more like a large farmers market but we were not disappointed, the Yorkshire folk know how to do good food, whether Pork Pies, Scotch Eggs, Sausages or Sweet Potato fudge… it was all exceptional…. and that is without mentioning the Cider, Gin, Vodka and other bits!

We left Otley contentedly happy to return and explore the area more, moving all of 25 minutes down the road to Ilkley where we were staying at another little CL (Hall Croft, £15 per night) just a mile outside the town. The weather had temporarily turned and we were met with a good downpour of rain to help bring the evening in and freshen up the air.

Although we have benefitted from many a bar b q over the last few weeks it was actually quite nice to ‘pretend’ it was cooler and enjoy a lovely Cassoulet and a Fish Pie …. obviously not together!


The area surrounding Ilkley is stunning, as Ilkley itself sits in a valley so although we opted for a quick trip into Leeds on the train on Tuesday, we quickly returned to our natural habitat of walking, doing a wonderful circular walk on Wednesday out to Addingham then up onto the Ridge before walking back to the Cow and Calf rocks and down into Ilkley before coming home.. totting up 20km, then on Thursday we ventured along the river which was part of the Dales Way … another 21km… all lovely although the search for the Ilkley brewery left us a little disappointed as there wasn’t any shop or bar to check out or buy the produce.


To finish our little tour in Yorkshire we had booked ourselves a spot at the North Yorkshire Dales Food and Drink Festival which is held at a farm about 2.5 miles outside Skipton…. Hatties’ first Festival … as far as we know anyway!!

We sat in the queue to get into the field, looking jealously over to our right as a double decker bus happily entered the main exhibitors field whilst we were tousled by the trees dangling down, slowly scraping along the roof.  We made it through to our field without damage where we parked up, dropped anchor – better known as the hydraulics – and watched as the everyone else around us set up caravans/tents as the rain started to fall…. it was only light showers but still good entertainment!


Friday night was a quiet affair as most stalls were still setting up but we ventured out for a wander around, a couple of drinks and to listen to some music…. all very calm.

On Saturday whilst being watched over by surrounding neighbours we both did our morning exercise routine before heading into Skipton for a walk around.  Skipton is a pretty little market town with lots of interesting shops and cafes, being a Saturday we had a walk through the market and stopped for a coffee before heading back to the festival for lunch.

The festival was in full swing by the time we got back and it was difficult to choose what to eat for lunch but after a couple of trips round all the food stalls we settled on BBQ Ribs … Keith had a rack of Pork ribs and I had Short Beef ribs,  both with chips and coleslaw… proper finger lickin’ food.

We had sat by one of the demonstrations to eat our lunch and just as we had finished the chef came round with a nice bit of Venison and Ciabatta – perfectly pink which led us nicely into the rest of the afternoon which was spent enjoying the tasters from the different stalls – Gin, Cheese, Cake, biscuits…. and much more, not bad At all!

James, Gail, Amy and Jack came to visit us on the way back from their holiday up in Northumberland so we got to do a second taster on the Sunday enjoying quality scotch eggs, and a pulled jackfruit burger amongst other things!

Unsurprisingly a large number of the campers left by Sunday evening which meant that getting out on Monday morning wasn’t too bad.  This time though we remembered that we could actually use our Air Suspension to lower the vehicle by a few inches and do a bit more of a limbo under the trees…. still not perfect but much less of a scrape than on the way in.


The journey back to Holyport was long and hot but problem free.  We hadn’t quite appreciated how much cooler it had been up North in comparison to the South but by lunchtime we had hit 30 degrees and were glad to get out of the motorhome by the time we arrived.

It’s nice to be back in our field although it is very yellow, the cows seem happy and my run is much less hilly so my legs are too!  Along with the normal chores and Hattie’s mechanical service, we took the mum’s out for lunch to Tom Kerridge’s Hand and Flowers this week and it surpassed expectations – proper posh pub grub in a lovely environment!


Pumped and Charged…. 12/7/18

We woke early, packed our bags and watched Hattie get lifted up onto the ramps for her cosmetic surgery to begin.

After a quick demo of the E&P Hydrolics and VB Air Suspension that she was about to have added, we headed into York on the train to our little Airbnb between the Shambles and the shortest road in York which is called Whip ma Whop ma Gate (or as it used to be Witnourwhatnourgate).  I hadn’t realised it when I booked but apparently the Shambles (better known as Diagon Alley) is where part of Harry Potter was filmed – where they go to buy their wands and wizardery bits.  Our Airbnb was a house above one of the shops which we were sharing with Sean (the owner) and his dog, rather strangely Sean’s surname was Potter ….


It has been about 6 years since Keith was in York which was for work – I however, haven’t been here since I came with my parents 35+ years ago. Both of us were keen to come back, I have distant memories of the railway museum and the smells from the Viking tour!  Needless to say we didn’t re-visit either but may be back again as we had a great time.


We couldn’t have asked for better weather or food – either we completely lucked out on our random choices or Yorkshire really is food central as everything from the bread to the curry was delicious.  We walked the city over the three days we were there, around the wall, along the river Ouze (in both directions) and through all the interesting streets.  I also managed to go for a run each day along the river … impressed by the quantity of people who cycle to work, although I appreciate that the weather helps.

We obviously did our best to try out the local taverns as well and ate out in three completely different places … all were fantastic.  The Rose and Crown, where we watched the footie on Tuesday night served up whale sized fish and chips and a fantastic Japanese Curry along with good beer, wine and a win for England. The Coconut Lagoon, which is an amazingly place just outside the city wall serving Southern Indian Cuisine where we had a mixed starters to share, Keith had a Thali to follow – which was almost enough to feed a small family – and I ordered a Prawn Curry which was spicy but creamy and delicious…. this would definitely be a local curry house if we lived in York.


On the third and last night we found a lovely little place called Bistro No. 8 where the food was local and equally delicious….fish cakes, Beetroot and goats cheese salad, Slow Braised beef, Pork Belly and to finish, the most deliciously rich – but not too sweet – Chocolate terrine…  properly spoilt!

On Friday, after a last walk through York we headed back to see whether Hattie was ready for us, alas not and the TV wasn’t working either so Keith’s plan to watch the 3pm game on the big TV whilst waiting went out the door …. so too did most of the 7pm game as Hattie had a problem with the auto reset which is supposed to kick in when she gets up to 26 mph, thankfully Keith caught the key bits of the games on his mobile.

The team at SAP were amazing and carried on working until 8pm but called it a day and decided to come back at 7:30am Saturday morning with fresh eyes …. a task reasonably quickly resolved after a nights sleep!

It was late by the time we got back into Hattie on Friday night and thankfully we had planned a fairly simple dinner as we also ended up sharing it with someone else who also hadn’t planned on staying the night ….. a new recipe from The Minimalist Baker, Mushroom and Lentil Stew served on Mashed Sweet Potato – really flavorsome, although I think next time I am going to add some squash to bulk it out a little as well.

After a good play with the new suspension and hydrolics we finally got on the road from the SAP workshop just after lunch …. pushing it a little to get to our CL for the England game.  The drive was smooth and solid demonstrating the new Air Suspension was worthwhile and although the ground we originally parked on was slightly too uneven for the automated hydrolics, we moved slightly and set it to manual and had a play … very sturdy!   All in, only missing the first five minutes of the game.

The CL was Holly Tree Cottage in Upper Denby (£14 per night inc) which is owned by a lovely couple who keep the site in top order and are really helpful.  The field was beautifully tranquil, stunning views with a couple of overly friendly chickens and a mixture of varieties of sheep …. including two who were hand reared in their kitchen so behaved a little more like dogs than sheep!  Unfortunately we only stayed two nights due to my bad planning but we did manage to get in a lovely circular walk on the Sunday.  We will be back to take in more of the area as the rolling hills just go on and on.


After both completing a morning run on Monday we headed North from Upper Denby to a pretty little village just outside Ripon where we are staying at Ivy Bank House (£12 per night).  Until recently it was a CL but between the time we booked it and when we arrived, it has changed to be a Caravan Club site.  Its a very nice field though, has a bit of a slope which is good for the ongoing testing of the hyrdolics, has sheep which is a bit of a theme now and is incredibly peaceful but the surrounding area is very hilly….. which is a bit of an issue for my poor legs and running!


The campsite is just on the edge of Kirkby Malzeard,  6 miles from Ripon so we have been out on the bikes today and Tuesday …. first time in ages so that’ll be it for a few days now! We have also headed cross country on a few walking routes taking on the stinging nettles as they are particularly on form at the moment and tomorrow we are planning to walk to Masham …. the home of both the Theakstons and Black Sheep Brewery – might just be a taxi back then!

Just as a reminder I have started a new map as well for 2018/19 so you can follows us – have a look here if you want to see more

All charged up and on the move… 2/7/18

Chocolate Cake

Who needs to be in Southern Europe to get the sunshine…. its scorching over here – couldn’t ask for more, although a bit disappointed that they are already talking about a hosepipe ban after the winter the UK has had …. but what can we do?

After leaving the farm we spent a night at Rookesbury Park Campsite (£22.50) which is just north of Portsmouth before taking Hattie down to Southdowns Motorhomes early Monday morning where she was booked in for a bit of TLC…. it was always going to be an expensive visit.

Hattie stayed at Southdowns all week as there was a fair amount of work to do….. a couple of extra sockets, a fitted bike rack in the garage, new oven hinges, connecting to the France freesat box and enough Solar panels to be seen from space.

Its great, although I appreciate that we are having a particularly good June but Hattie has been fully charged by breakfast…… even with a lot of football watching!  The only issue we have found is that whilst putting the television back together we think that they didn’t quite connect one of the cables properly so currently the UK TV stations only show martians….. a bit of an issue with Red I think!  They’ll get it sorted but we need to head back for them to do it so our green faced friends will be around for the rest of the World Cup at least!

Back in Hattie and at the farm we have new calves in the field …. well, when I say new they are probably about 6 months old but very cute and inquisitive!

We have been enjoying the sunshine and even had Jonah, Karen and the kids out for a picnic…. not often that you see them outside the M25!!

As the weather has been so good we have been making the best use of the BBQ… I think we managed 6 over 8 days …. not bad… nice spicy Chicken, burgers and Lamb chops at my brothers on Sunday, Prawns and Chorizo on Monday, Smoky Beetroot Burgers on Tuesday,  Steak and Chicken on Wednesday, Chicken and Halloumi at Jools and Clares on Friday and Sausages and Chicken with Mike, Jo and Ella at ours on Sunday …..a good mix… although it makes us out to be meat lovers, most were accompanied with a good varied selection of salads!

So a few recipes that I haven’t published before….. Mackeral Pate, Mixed Bean Salad, Lentil and Goats Cheese Salad, Smokey Black Bean Beet Burgers – really moist and nutty, Chocolate Beetroot Cake and Nutella Ice Cream……so easy and so very yummm!

I did also try my hand at a bit of Strawberry Ice Cream yesterday but I think it needs another try as it wasn’t quite strawberry enough …. so watch this space!

This is now going to sound really sad…..we have a new addition to the motorhome – don’t laugh – its a twin tub washing machine ….. and its great!!! We had been talking about it for a while and now we have an inverter (and now a socket in the garage) we thought why not.  We have only used it a couple of times for clothes (not bedsheets) so far but it has a great little spin, although you do have to hold it down for the first ten seconds so it doesn’t work its way around the garage and you can wash and spin in under 15 minutes.  Yep, sad… I am sure the novelty will wear off soon!

Leaving the farm again on Thursday we headed down to Bath to catch up with friends and take in some of the beautiful rolling hills that surround it. Although we used to stay at the CL when we could, the entrance is a little too complicated for Hattie – lots of low hanging trees and a very steep slope – so we headed back to the Bath Marina Campsite which although a bit bigger than we would normally opt for, suits the purpose and worked perfectly for entertaining and also getting to friends to be entertained!  We had also forgotten that it is just around the corner from the Electric Bear Micro-Brewery so Keith decided to buy a few to sample whilst we were in the vicinity…


Waking to what can only be the warmest day yet this morning, I went for a run along the old railway path whilst Keith got some HIIT training in before we set off up the M5 to a little place just North of Doncaster where Hattie is having her next round of work …. air suspension and hydraulic levelling jacks.  We are staying overnight in the van tonight and then leaving her for a few nights to have the work done whilst we head into an Airbnb in York.