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.