Posted in England

4th – 8th August – Sidmouth, Devon

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We joined the Bessacarr Owners Club when we bought Bessie and thought it might be nice to go to our first ever Rally to meet fellow motorhomers with a ‘Bessie’ of their own. Driving down to Sidmouth on a Friday afternoon on the A303 in the school holidays was not a wise or well thought out route. However after 3 hours we rolled up on the site, a small golf course transformed by many motorhomes, caravans and tents of every conceivable shape, size and age. Thankfully our small group of 14 people in 6 caravans and our motorhome fitted nicely into one corner of the grounds with trees at the back of us and plenty of people watching available in front of us.
We arrived at 5pm and literally after pulling on the hand brake and locking the doors, we were immediately invited to join everyone else for wine and cheese, masses of it! Getting to know everyone while eating a cheesy banquet, trying to remember names while drinking wine, and swapping stories about trips was a wonderful introduction to the group and it past 11pm when we went off to bed.
Our first goal next day was to attempt to put up our newly acquired, and ridiculously named, Privacy Room. It is 4 meters long by 2.5 meters wide and fits onto the wind-out canopy, having two sides and a front, complete with 3 large windows and a door. Private – I don’t think so. Anyway we accomplished it in a relatively acceptable time and it means we can store the table, chairs, sunbeds, BBQ, shoes etc without having to put them away every night.

 

 

That done, we disappeared to find the bus into Sidmouth town centre to have a look at the Folk Festival and accompanying Beer and Cider Festivals. As it was sunny we had a walk along the promenade and made our way up 50 steps to view the scene below while munching a very tasty ice cream and admired the Connaught gardens which have been constant winners of various awards since the 1980s.

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As we planned to spend the following day at the festival, we took the bus back and joined our fellows campers at our joint BBQ. We all contributed food items, a couple of chefs dealt with the cooking and we were soon tucking in to 2 types of Pimms by the jug-full, and all manner of food.

 

 

After coffee and Jill’s home made cakes on Sunday morning we decided to walk down to Sidmouth and after a short bit of busy road we made our way down a footpath and cycle track with mature trees and fields beyond. There was a small Nature Reserve with benches and noticeboards and further on it developed into an open space of trees, mown grass areas and gardens as it neared the town. Having worked up a thirst we decided to visit the Swan as there was live music, with a multitude of musicians playing small accordions, violins, various sized recorders and guitars. Everyone was so relaxed enjoying the music and sea shanties and as we can’t play or sing, we tried the beer and cider which was very good. Returning to the sea front we found the promenade heaving with people and craft stalls, and the streets were decked with flags and bunting, with lots of happy, smiling people enjoying the music, dancing and food on offer. We enjoyed fresh crab sandwiches on the promenade before winding our way through the streets, visiting another watering hole, before catching the bus back.

 

 


The weather was forecast to be rainy on Monday so we said our goodbyes and headed east to find better weather. Stopping at a campsite in Osmington for one night enabled us to visit Weymouth for the afternoon by bus. The beach is a long and wide curve of sand, complete with donkeys, helter-skelter, sand sculptures and ice-cream stalls at one end and a walkway the length of it passing a Nature Reserve at the far end. It was a little grey and breezy, so we opted to walk around by the harbour in the shelter of the quayside buildings and just happened upon a handy little pub with seating outside in the sun so we could watch the boats in comfort.

 

 


On our way back next day and not wanting to waste an opportunity, we decided to visit the Blue Pool at Furzebrook just south of Wareham. It is a disused clay pit and depending on the size of clay particles suspended in the water, the colour will vary from red-brown, grey, green to a blue/turquoise. It was more green and brown but still beautiful surrounded by paths among the pine trees and flowering heather which we meandered around for an hour before finally heading home.

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Posted in England

18th – 25th July – A Busy Week

With a lot of planning, telephone calls and emails, we finally pulled together a week travelling around in Bessie. We had three days at the Norfolk Motorhome Show, met up with family and friends en-route, and stayed in five different counties.
Oxfordshire was the first county staying at a small site in Tetsworth with mown pitches, roses and shrubs among mature trees. We met up with Wendy, my junior school friend, and soon made our way to Waterperry Gardens which were beautiful with colourful long borders. There were several sculptures including one of a boy on top of a beautiful ornate gate. After our evening meal together in their garden and lots of catching up, her husband John kindly returned us to Bessie.

 

 

 


Cambridgeshire followed on where we stayed at another small site, this time a grass field with electric hook ups on posts along one edge. Although the weather was dull and grey we walked back through the village, passing a fully working windmill on our way to visit the National Trust Wicken Fen Reserve. It was a nice walk alongside a canal and narrow boat, the fens had lots of wild flowers and rare Konic ponies, we saw marsh harriers, reed bunting, great spotted woodpecker and kingfisher among others. There was a rain streaked view across fields from the campsite to the village where we met up with Chris’ niece Lisa and husband Steve for our evening meal in the local pub, returning later to Bessie we finished the evening with brandy and coffee.

 


Norfolk was where we headed after breakfast, stopping off at RSPB Lakenheath with its fens to the side of the path, and huge poplars to shelter us from the wind and later on rain too. The only good birds we saw were a family of four marsh harriers including one parent making a food pass to a youngster. Continuing on to the Norfolk Show Ground near Norwich, we arrived around 4pm at the Motorhome Show for three days of fun. Apart from all the motorhomes to look at, there were many accessories, merchandise and sales goodies to investigate. Each night there was a music show which included Motown and Soul music, tribute acts too with Diana Ross, Four Tops, Michael Jackson, and lastly the original Jimmy James & The Vagabonds.

 

 

It was such good value for money as the three days including entertainment only cost £50, we took all our food and most of our drinks and made a couple of friends who we spent each evening with.

We also had an afternoon trip into nearby Norwich City and joined a walking tour with an enthusiastic guide showing and telling us about many historic highlights. It is a beautiful city with cobbled streets, stone and flint churches, city hall and the largest 6-days a week permanent market in the country, sadly there was no time to visit the cathedral so we will be going back!

 


Suffolk was our fourth county to visit my college friend Sue and husband Ron. Arriving in the small village of Woolpit our campsite was called Swan Lake and had a small paddock sheltered by tall trees, the good sized lake was to one side with several mallards but no swans! Having eaten lunch at the village pub together, we went back to their home for a cup of tea and chatted for a couple of hours, reminiscing about our agricultural secretarial course among other things.

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Surrey was the final county on our week of rambling. Arriving at Hoe Farm in Worplesdon to a mown camping field surrounded by pony paddocks, stables and trees, it was hard to imagine we were on the outskirts of Woking close to London. Taking the train after lunch we arrived at Guildford after 5 minutes meeting up with Chris’ cousin Ann and husband John. Following the River Wey and a canal called The Wey Navigation we headed into a park with a bronze sculpture and a family of swans, stopping at a couple of pubs as we went by. Later having caught up with each other’s news and holidays, we enjoyed an evening meal together before returning to Bessie for our last night.

 


It was a busy few days and very enjoyable too. The journey home was quick and the weather improved too, the sun finally coming out which had been lacking for most of our days away. We just have to book up Sidmouth in early August now ……

Posted in England

Bessie – Bessacarr, June 2017 …..

An unplanned series of events has lead us to change our motorhome sooner than planned. The idea was to investigate a shorter vehicle to change to in a few years time.  On our way home from Devon in May we stopped off at Chelston Motorhomes in Wellington, Somerset to look for a model we had researched.  Having looked around and weighed up various pros and cons, we eventually moved away from our previous ideas and instead of moving on ourselves, we continued looking, it was like kids in a sweet shop!

A Bessacarr took our attention and although the plan was only to look, we ended up ‘doing a deal’ and we were suddenly grinning like Cheshire cats 😆

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We unimaginatively nicknamed her ‘Bessie’, and took delivery in mid June, stopping for one free night at the dealership to test everything out and then moved on to Glastonbury for a a further night.  She is crucially shorter in length and at only 7.04m long she is easier to manoeuvre and position on a pitch. Her lighter weight at just 3.5 tons and a Low Profile model will also make fuel economy more efficient.

She has a pale coloured, modern interior with plenty of light coming through big windows. A well equipped kitchen with full cooker, grill, 3 gas rings and one electric, microwave, large fridge and good sized freezer section, this means we can continue to enjoy cooking while travelling. There is a dedicated shower room with great facilities that is  light and has plenty of floor space to move around comfortably. With access to two separate wardrobes and a small set of drawers there is also plenty storage for shoes and boots too.

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The front seats swivel to face the two long comfortable side seats giving plenty of space for daytime relaxing and a wall mounted TV for evening entertainment.  Having moved away from a dedicated bedroom to get a shorter vehicle, we have been very pleased with the seating that quickly and easily converts into a large double bed, or two separate single beds if required, both with ample storage beneath. Add to that, the dedicated bedding called Duvalays, that have a memory foam mattress contained within purpose made cotton covers zipped to the quilts which throw over you as in a regular bed, we are ‘snug as bugs in a rug’. The bed is made in 3 minutes, while storing under the seating during the day means no clutter either.

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As you can tell, we know we made a good decision to change our motorhome sooner rather than later. We gained valuable and lengthy experience with 7 weeks travelling around Spain in Della,  but it was time to let someone else enjoy her.  The things we learned will enable us to keep our dreams of adventure going for many more years with Bessie as our means of transport and mobile home.

 

Posted in England

11th – 13th May – Barnstaple, Devon

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We left Lydford behind after 3 days, we headed north to the Barnstaple area and a small site on at Collacott Farm near Fremington.  These ‘Certified Location’ sites only allow a few ‘campers’ and it was full with only 2 caravans, 2 other motorhomes and us, we all had ample space around our pitches and a field in front of us with 3 alpacas to keep us entertained.  There was also a lovely view across many fields to the estuary of the River Taw beyond and a few wind turbines completed the picture.

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While we were in Spain in March earlier this year we met a lovely couple, Ro and Ian, who live in Barnstaple, hence our visit to this area.  After our lunch they came to the site to meet up again and they took us out to Instow a small village where the rivers Taw and Torridge meet with Appledore on the opposite side of the estuary. We walked along the beach with Cassie, their lovely cocker spaniel, it was a blustery, grey day and after a while we all decamped to a pub overlooking the beach.  Rain soon followed but we had a great time catching up with each other inside.

The weather had changed next day and although there was a lot of cloud around, the sun also put in an appearance for a while.

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We walked down from the campsite into the village of Fremington between the flower filled Devon hedgerows, predominantly blue with blue bells, speedwell and violets, and white with stitchwort, hedge-parsley and jack-by-the-hedge.  We heard the skylarks singing high above us, while lower down the jackdaws were being blown around by the wind. Further on at Fremington Quay, we saw the abandoned old skeletons of wooden boats stuck in the mud and brightly painted boats further beyond, a real vision of the timescale involved in the life of a quay.

20170512_105416We spotted shelduck, mallard and two whimbrel on the tidal mud flats before stopping off for coffee and flapjack at the café overlooking the estuary. After our refreshments, we walked all the way to Barnstaple along a coastal path with vast areas of salt marsh, swallows skimming the ground for insects, curlew, cormorants and gulls dotted around and cattle in the fields behind.

 

20170512_135505Eventually the old and the new Barnstaple bridges came into sight and we admired a few of the buildings on our way to finding lunch at the Rolle Quay.  A real taste of the past, with proper bubble and squeak made with vegetables from the Sunday roast, two sausages and an egg.

 

The walk was 7 miles from the campsite and with tired legs our pre-arranged meeting with Ro and her car was most welcome.  We enjoyed the rest of the day with her and Ian at their home, including a wonderful evening meal of salmon and several glasses of wine eventually arriving back on the campsite at midnight!

We all got together again on our third and final day, Ian drove us out to Hartland Point west of Bideford and north of Bude.  The scenery is dramatic with the rocky outcrop standing at 325ft with fascinating rock layers moved in multiple directions, contorted and twisted over the passage of time.  There was pink thrift and yellow kidney vetch everywhere making a very pretty backdrop as we sat down to admire the view and have lunch and a drink in the sunshine.

 

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The tide was out showing the rocks leading out to sea, there was once a harbour here but the terrible storms took their toll and eventually after years of repairs the old pier head and wall were destroyed in 1887.  The route home took in Appledore and an ice cream on the sea front, doing a spot of people watching, looking over the sandflats at people walking out there as the tide was coming in, foolish to say the least.

 

Back in Barnstaple Ian fired up the BBQ and we were soon enjoying a feast with a few glasses vino tinto to help the party along!  We had such a great time with Ro and Ian; a chance meeting in Los Escullos, Spain a few months ago and a shared interest of motorhome travelling, has developed further with our visit to Barnstaple and more plans for Spain in the Autumn!

Ottery St Mary – 14th May

For the last 3 days of our break in Devon, we left the north coast and headed south to Putts Corner near Ottery St Mary, inland from Sidmouth. We relaxed after setting up and enjoyed a bottle of Rosé in the sunshine, the forecast for the next few days is not so good so it would be rude not too!

20170515_161100The British weather finally showed her cards when it poured down all night which was very noisy on Della’s roof. We had large trees behind and to the side of us and the debris in the morning was plain to see over us and everyone else. There was a mist over the campsite and it was like looking through a veil.

Using the time wisely, I continued learning my Spanish (ready for subsequent visits) and eventually progressed to writing this blog.  Eventually cabin fever took over, the rain stopped briefly around 4pm, and Chris and I legged it through a beautiful bluebell wood to the pub for a change of scenery.

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After only one drink in a near deserted pub we retraced our steps back to the campsite to watch TV.  The weather had beaten us virtually all day.

 

This morning we listened to the forecast which turned out to be more of the same and decided to abandon our last day in Devon and disappear back to a hopefully sunny Salisbury.

Well it has certainly been dryer, except for a couple of short showers, and this afternoon I have been able to paint more of the fence!!

Posted in England

8th – 10th May – Lydford – Devon

May 2017

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Having found an opportunity to get away and explore some of Devon in springtime, we decided to visit three areas.  We planned seeing an area on the edge of Dartmoor, the north coast to visit friends in Barnstaple then travel down to south Devon.  After a three hour drive in beautiful sunny weather we arrived at the edge of Dartmoor and set up on the Lydford Campsite. 

Very soon we disappeared on an exploratory walk in the lanes nearby and found a beautiful wooded area by a river, the beech trees looked amazing with their new leaves in soft green glowing in the sunlight.  The small river was very picturesque and had a bridge over it inviting us to explore the far side.  There we found a sunken footpath leading us uphill between the trees which grow on top of the walls.   These are known as Devon Hedges and are built with earth and stones between the walls and the shrubs, trees and plants grow on them making a very secure barrier, providing shelter to animals in fields and nice calm walking conditions in the lanes.  Walking under a viaduct that used to carry a railway line, we came out at the top of the wood and walked along the field margins into the lane and back to the campsite for an alfresco meal in the sunshine.

Next day we walked Lydford Gorge which belongs to the National Trust, it was really beautiful with swathes of blue bells and wild garlic under mixed woodland.

The walk itself was along small pathways high above the river in the bottom, and along the way we noted around 30 different species of wild flowers and 20 different birds, including the elusive pied flycatcher which is nesting in the woods.

20170509_12594020170509_133847 AAfter around 90 minutes we had been descending steadily downhill we admired the wonderful The White Lady Waterfall which is 30 meters high.

Carrying on towards the end of the walk, The Devil’s Cauldron could be heard before it was seen.  The sound of water roaring against the rocky gorge was quite loud and the black rocks were worn smooth by the action of the water which formed the deep cauldrons.

20170508_160227On the way back we stopped to look the pretty and very well kept village church. Next to it was a ‘Lydford Castle’, not so much a castle really, but a tower for imprisoning ‘naughty tin-miners’ so the plaque informed us!

As the weather was so pleasant, the next day we ventured out again in warm sunshine to walk the Granite Trail, leading among other places to Okehampton, a distance of 10 miles.  The walk was level and easy along a decommissioned railway line, with a tarmac surface between the trees, hedgerows and fields offering tremendous views across open countryside beyond. Here we heard a cuckoo, the first of the year for us, the lambs were well grown and a few cattle dotted around the fields completed a beautiful day in the countryside.

We had our picnic when we entered Okehampton and later had a walk around the small market town looking at the local shops.  However, shopping is not our ‘thing’, and after 3 hours of walking we needed a rest. Having found a pub with a lovely sheltered garden located on a high point in the town, we enjoyed a well-earned drink and enjoyed views across the town to the hills beyond while waiting for the local bus that whizzed us back to Lydford in 20 minutes. That evening we treated ourselves to a meal at The Castle, a pub in the village with real character, excellent cooking and only 15 minutes walk back to Della waiting on the campsite.

Our three days at Lydford was at an end, next stop Barnstaple ……