Posted in England

2018 – Summer Run Around

Heading east for about an hour in beautiful sunny weather we made our way to Newbury Motorhome Show, looking forward to music and merriment we met up with Mandy and Roy who we met a year ago at Norfolk Motorhome Show. There was a large section of second-hand motorhomes of all shapes and sizes, then several avenues of stalls offering everything you could wish to use inside them or to ‘enhance’ your experience using one; it is a good thing we were only browsing for ideas. The show was spread over four days we took our time looking at the vast area the show covered and being entertained in the evenings by great live music. For a bit of ‘culture’ we took a day trip to Oxford and had an open-top bus ride around the city with amusing commentary informing us about its history and buildings.

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A Royal Wedding was happening elsewhere in the country and not wishing to miss out, we had our own mini party with flags, bunting, food, bottles of sparkling wine and watched it live on a ‘big screen’ provided for the occasion. We carried on into the evening with a very special Red Velvet Cake and more ‘bubbles’.

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In late July we headed for Crofty on The Gower Peninsular in South Wales, very picturesque, remote and relaxing. We had met Gilly and Alan near Alicante in Spain 8 months previously, kept in touch and arranged to visit them at home. With uninterrupted views over the salt marshes, curlews calling and wild ponies to watch, the scene was idyllic.

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Over four days we all walked in sunshine on the high cliff tops overlooking Worm’s Head with the magnificent Rhossili Beach stretching 3 miles into the distance. We visited Cefn Bryn, a high point inland having panoramic views over The Gower, from where we could see Oxwich Bay with its long golden beach on the south side of the peninsular.

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Then for something completely different we visited The Mumbles, a small touristy town on the opposite side of the bay to Swansea where we had a walk around, saw the old pier and stopped at Joe’s Ice Cream Parlour! During a walk around the village of Crofty and over the salt marshes, Chris had spotted Gower Brewery and we came away with a selection of ales for him to try. Now in early August we also celebrated our wedding anniversary enjoying some speciality gins with tonics, and salt marsh lamb with mint sauce in an excellent local pub. What a wonderful time we spent with our friends who showed us so much of this lovely corner of Wales where they live.

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Not satisfied with one trip to Newbury, we returned in August to meet Mandy and Roy for the Retro Fest; music, clothes, caravans, cars, motorbikes and lorries of yesteryear, so many smiling faces and a reminder of years gone by. The tiny caravans were delightful and their proud owners displaying their handiwork in restoration and accessories. Such simplicity with these tiny holiday homes, it makes the modern ones look like a huge monsters.

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With polished bodywork and sparkling chrome, leather seats, walnut wood dashboards and wire wheels, the cars on display were amazing. There were many other vehicles to see, huge lorries with ornately painted designs on the cabs, army vehicles, customised motorbikes and trikes, their owners having spent hours restoring them.

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The Retro Fest was a new experience for us with many people wearing period clothes that made them look so elegant compared to some of the fashions today. A colourful fun fair with carousel and painted wooden horses, the huge big wheel and smells of ‘fast food’ and candy floss, it all came alive at night, along with music of the era and old time dancing; it was a fun filled few days.

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Still in August we stayed in Stourport on Severn in Worcestershire with Julie and Kim to attend their son’s wedding, a beautiful day for everyone concerned. The four of us, plus their 3 dogs, then drove to Witney in Oxfordshire to spend a few days together in our motorhomes, relaxing after the wedding festivities. We spent the days walking in the countryside around lakes created from disused gravel pits, now full of wildlife, birds and flowers.

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We walked into Standlake one afternoon and looked at the pretty church followed by more than a look at the local pub, where we stopped for refreshments! At Witney we went down by the River Windrush and Country Park walking back through fields and along the edge of a wood with all 3 dogs, so well behaved but very tired that evening. We barbequed on our return to the campsite and enjoyed the late evening the sunshine. At Abingdon we walked along a section of the River Thames, there is a weir and a pedestrian bridge across to a lock built in 1790 and a lock keepers cottage. A busy yet relaxing few days.

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To round off the summer as we moved into the end of September, it was time to squeeze in a visit to the Isle of Wight. Only an hour from home we left the rain behind and caught the ferry at Lymington for the 30 minute voyage into sunshine. The island is small, 2 miles from the mainland and covering 148 sq miles (384 sq km), it is a great place to visit. Landing at Yarmouth on the western end of the island we drove to Nodes Point not far from Ryde on the east coast. We had fun and frustration putting up our new awning but the result was great giving us the perfect retreat each evening to enjoy the last of the sun.

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Much walking was achieved over four days, just over 31 miles (50km) in total, including two days both at 11 miles (17.7km). During one walk we took the coastal path from the campsite via St Helens, through Bembridge to Sandown. We passed house boats by the harbour, took pathways under pine trees passing massive and expensive houses, crunched along shingle beach to the lifeboat station, and climbed up a long hill to an obelisk. After admiring the view from this high position we continued over chalky downland and clifftop walks eventually arriving on the promenade at Sandown. After a couple of hours there we caught the bus back and surveyed the scenery again from the top front seats of a double decker.

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Living on the Island are more friends we made through motorhoming; we had met Caroline and Jeff at Benicàssim, Spain in November 2017. After having coffee together at our campsite, they droves us to Shanklin on the east coast where we walked around the quaint ‘old village’ area full of thatched properties. It was a step back in time with the narrow streets still full of the late summer flowers and thankfully not too many people. After an alfresco pub lunch we walked down Shanklin Chime which is a ravine shaded by many trees with a footpath that follows the stream and waterfalls to the coast. Emerging out of the trees the beach was deserted on either side of the steps down, only a few small boats were resting on the sand. Walking along the promenade in the sunshine we saw some ornate lampstands and an attractive clock tower before walking back uphill into Shanklin and returning to the campsite.

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The following morning we walked in the direction of Ryde alongside the beach stopping at The Boat house for coffee and a cake each while we watched the comings and goings of ferries, hovercraft, container ships and boats on the Solent, it really is a busy stretch of water. Mandy and Roy also live on the Island and joined us for lunch at the campsite, the new awning providing a great place to set out the food and drinks, while we sat out under the brollies for shade, quite remarkable for late September.

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Another walk the following day took us through St Helens and down a disused railway track, through fields and marshes with lovely views to the distant woods and hills. We finally located Bembridge Windmill with is now looked after by the National Trust. Climbing its steep stairs to the top floor, we learned how the bags of wheat were lifted up, emptied into hoppers and ground into flour by the huge millstones. The four large blades could be seen outside the windows but they didn’t have the fabric sails which were used to catch the wind. It would have been a very dusty environment to work in and caused many mill workers to have diseased and weak lungs.

20181006_144755-collageWalking steeply down hill and via the coastal path we stopped off for a rest at the Crab & Lobster enjoying a seafood platter and a cold drink, before arriving back at camp; another walk totalling 11 miles!

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Catching the ferry back to ‘The North Island’ as the locals call the mainland, we reflected on a very happy mini-break, great sunny weather the whole time, meeting up with our friends, visiting new places and lots of walking. We will definitely be planning another visit to stay longer next time, there is so much to see, beautiful countryside and coasts for walking, and the pace of life is more gentle which makes it ideal for rest and relaxation.

Author:

We retired at last and 2017 is the start of our next chapter. We now have a home on wheels in which to travel around Europe, follow the sun and whatever else takes our fancy.

4 thoughts on “2018 – Summer Run Around

  1. Interesting to read about your adventures in your motorhome, we also have a motorhome blog (https://ionastravels.wordpress.com) and enjoy exploring new places around the country.We have been to Bridgnorth three times now , and like you we took the train to Bewdley and the museum at Highly. The Black Boy Inn on the Cartway is a favourite watering hole as well as the Station pub. The IOW is on our todo list but maybe next year.

    Liked by 1 person

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