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…..

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