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Travelogue

18th April 2013 - 15th May 2013

A quiet time in Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire
Worcestershire
Thursday 18th April 2013
Blackmore Camping and Caravan Site, Great Malvern, 52 05 84 N, 02 16 51 W, (70 Miles).

A few stops today before arriving at Blackmore, firstly at our storage unit to collect my fishing tackle and optimistically our summer duvet and BBQ. Then we needed to fill with fuel, not having filled up since February, rather pleased when we paid 4p less than then, we were later less pleased when we heard this evening that the supermarkets intend reducing the cost by a further 2p next week, we could have saved a further £1.40. Next stop was the Tesco Supermarket at Solihull which we stopped at last time we came along the M42 motorway, so convenient just a couple of minutes from Junction 4 and with a car park shared with Notcutts Garden Centre there was plenty of spaces to park. Our last stop before arriving at the campsite was the little Homebase at Worcester, we have decided to buy some more carpet tiles for the motorhome and we saw the ideal colour while we were at the Homebase in Tamworth and luckily they had the same ones in stock. No free plants though, the weather must have been better in Worcestershire. Arriving at Blackmore after filling with fresh water our “favourite” No16 pitch was available so we were soon pitched up having lunch and a cup of tea. Because it is still quite windy we decided to delay putting the awning up until tomorrow when the forecast is for it to be much calmer, in fact the weather for the weekend looks quite good.

Friday 19th April 2013
So quiet last night, no continuous “droning and drumming” of a nearby motorway and the wind has now dropped as was promised. In the pleasant sunshine I took my time this morning erecting the awning, we are on our normal hardstanding pitch and the rock pegs were needed to secure it, must get an heavier hammer though, hard work with the light one I used. Time for lunch (the remains of the pizza) before we walked to the small post office at Hanley Swan to get some cash (we forgot yesterday), we also visited the village butcher for some Lamb Burgers which we couldn’t get from Tesco and also bought a couple of locally-made Pasties (can’t call them Cornish). We had the Pasties for our tea, disappointed really, the pastry was rather hard, can’t beat Jenny’s home-made ones!

Saturday 20th April 2013
Despite a frost this morning, I think for only the second time this year we were able to have breakfast sitting in the awning and we have had a lovely day relaxing in it. Although this afternoon I did wash and polish the rear of the motorhome (just the rear, mustn’t overdo it), before watching qualifying of the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix.

Sunday 21st April 2013
A relaxed day.

Monday 22nd April 2013
Gazzavan came lunchtime to fix a couple of faults with the motorhome. Firstly the repair that supposedly West Country Motorhomes had rectified, the grill not staying lit. Garry stripped off the top of the cooker, cleaned both contacts on the thermocoupler and “hey presto” it lit. The second repair was some “de-lamination” in the floor area in the kitchen, The necessitated the removing of the floor covering, drilling holes in the floor, filling in between with an epoxy resin glue then plugging with dowels. Luckily Garry was able to purchase some “low odour” resin which meant that we could sleep in the motorhome tonight without being “overcome”, we had organised ourselves to sleep in the awning however it was not necessary in the end.

Tuesday 23rd April 2013
Another visit by Gazzavan this morning to finish off the floor repair and re-lay the floor covering, great, no “soft spot” when I do the cooking! I started the cleaning of the doors this morning, polishing the outside door panels and cleaning the black trims and windows.

Wednesday 24th April 2013
We caught the 12:11 pm No 363 bus to Worcester just to purchase a few items from Iceland and Boots, I got myself some new sandals while I was there, pity they no longer sell the Columbia ones I have had two pair of, the last ones purchased in Melbourne in 2008. We then “window shopped” until catching the 1:58 pm back to the campsite. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the awning.

Thursday 25th April 2013
A complete day cleaning the inside of the cab doors, instrument panel and the seats, even the door hinges are gleaming!

Friday 26th April 2013
Started fitting the new carpet tiles in the motorhome, having the old ones as a pattern helped although in some places I changed the positions from that previous. Alas, my knees were starting to be painful after all the kneeling so I have left a few to finish off tomorrow, hopefully my swollen knees will be better by then.

Saturday 27th April.
Finished the carpet tiles this morning and we are very pleased with the result so much so we are considering making a few changes to the carpet area to the rear of the cab. Spent the afternoon polishing the cab, only underneath the bonnet to do now and I will probable do that tomorrow.

Sunday 28th April 2013
Requiring bread and milk and also some toilet fluid we decided late morning to walk to Hanley Swan village and then further to “Caravan Stuff 4 U” for the fluid. Our idea didn’t work out, the village store was closed, as also was the Caravan store, we did expect, although a Sunday for them to be open. Not wanting to walk back to the campsite the same way, we used the GPS app on Jenny’s phone and found public footpaths across the fields that would take us back. We were so pleased we did, it was a fantastic walk, through woods and along a “green lane” it took us far longer than we thought, arriving back at the motorhome for a welcome cup of tea and lunch, 2½ hours and over 5 miles later. Suffice to say we didn’t do much for the rest of the day!
Jenny on Malvern Walk.
Jenny on Malvern Walk.


Monday 29th April 2013
We are leaving Blackmore tomorrow so this morning we took the opportunity whilst the weather was fine to take the awning down, it didn’t take long we are used to doing it now. Still requiring bread and milk lunchtime, we caught the bus to Upton-upon-Severn and went to the small Co-operative store for our needs, I couldn’t resist visiting the little bakery shop and purchasing some bread pudding and then of course there was the fruit shop, a large bowl of sweet Plums for £1.50 couldn’t resist them either! We got the bus back, I was just checking the timetable when it arrived, we were back at the campsite within 1½ hours.

Herefordshire
Tuesday 30th April 2013
Bilbury Farm (Britstop), near Richards Castle, 52 18 59 N, 02 44 58 W, (50 Miles).

We didn’t leave the campsite this morning until 12:00 pm, filling up with fresh water and emptying the grey water at the motorhome service point before we left as we are “off” a campsite with facilities and electric for 2 nights. First stop this morning was “Caravan Stuff 4 U” at least and as expected they were open today and we managed to get what we wanted. We are also at Ryton Farm later in the week for 11 days so our next stop was at the Tesco Supermarket in Worcester for a “major” shop as the nearest village to get provisions is at least 2 mile away. We didn’t leave Tesco until 2:00 pm so we stopped at Broadwas in a small lay-by, it was no coincidence that it was the very one that I parked in at least 20 years ago when I fished the Birmingham Anglers Association waters here, actually the BAA still own the waters and after lunch whilst Jenny put the groceries away, I walked along the River Teme bank for a little way, great memories of the “Barbel” fishing I did in this area. Our first stopover this evening at a “Britstop” , (The Britstop guide is a list of free stopovers throughout the UK at farm shops, pubs, vineyards, breweries, craft ski and antique centres. Like the “French Passion, Italian “Fattore Amico” and “Espana Discovery” to name but three, there is no obligation to purchase, however buying a pound of sausages, a pint of cider, a bottle of wine or perhaps having a meal, is obviously cheaper than a camp site fee for a night.) we bought the guide at the show we went to in February and the one we are staying at tonight is a family farm which produces free range pork, sausages, bacon and ham. We were welcomed by Kate the owners wife and had a nice chat before being shown various places to park and within a short time were settled in. Guy her husband came later with “Pip” the Border Collie and introduced himself and told us the way to the adjacent farm where is parents live and where the meat products are sold.
Bilbury Farm (Britstop).
Bilbury Farm (Britstop).


Shropshire
Wednesday 1st May 2013
Stokesay Inn (Britstop), Craven Arms , 52 26 27 N, 02 49 97 W, (15 Miles).

A very peaceful night at the farm, so much so we got up later then intended, although we didn’t have to walk over to an amenities building as we were using our own facilities. After a rather late breakfast we had a pleasant walk of ½ mile across 3 fields to the other farm and were met by Guy, who showed us the meat produce they had for sale. They supply a lot of the local shops and restaurants with their meat, plus attend the farmers markets in the surrounding towns. Whilst Jenny organised the purchases I chatted to Guy’s father, a keen “motorhomer” himself and a great believer in the “Britstop” idea, in fact yesterday Kate was telling us they spent 3 weeks in France using “French Passion” sites and didn’t stay at a “proper” campsite for the length of their stay. We left Bilbury Farm shortly before twelve noon, having bought sausages, ham and bacon, plus two large sausage rolls for our lunch and paid £14, we didn’t leave however, before walking across 2 fields to see the young Berkshire pigs in their quarters, shame they’ll be our sausages the next time we visit!
Berkshire Pigs at Bilbury Farm.
Berkshire Pigs at Bilbury Farm.


We stopped in a lay-by on the A44 for lunch (the sausage rolls were fantastic) before continuing the very short distance to Craven Arms and our destination for our second “Britstop”. Arriving at the Stokesay Inn, we couldn’t park in the designated area as it was occupied by a coach, so we drove into the car park “proper and I reversed into a space in the corner. We went inside to introduce ourselves and realised why “our” space was occupied the lounge was full of “wrinklies” dining who were on a “Mystery Tour”. Reza the owner said the coach would be leaving in about 30 minutes, but if we were happy where we were, we could stay there . . . we were . . . so we did. Suitably refreshed (Lime & Soda and a Cider), Reza told us about a nice walk at the rear of the Shropshire Hills Discovey Centre adjacent, after a visit to the Discovery Centre, itself interesting as it as a grass roofed designed to echo the hill forts in the surrounding area, we took the waymarked route along “Onny Meadows” following the path along the meandering River Onny before returning towards the town centre and back to the motorhome. At 6:00 pm we returned to the Inn for an evening meal, Jenny had Gammon, I had a Beefburger, and with drinks it cost us £18.35, which we thought was good value for the excellent food, especially as we weren’t paying for a camp site tonight.

Thursday 2nd May 2013
Ryton Farm Certificated Site, near Condover, 52 38 01 N, 02 44 75 W, (15 Miles).

Not quite as peaceful as last night, at least not this morning at 7:00am, as the A49 road is not far away and we had the skylight open, still another good night’s sleep though. I went for a newspaper whilst Jenny prepared breakfast, I made a mistake, I didn’t realise that the Harry Tuffins supermarket (never heard of him, but nice name) and the newsagents was one of the same, I asked at the counter, newspapers were at the other end of the store, by the time I had escaped from the rows of aisles and waited at the checkout the news was “out of date”. The car park was a short cut through over a little footbridge to the local infants school, mums and little ones were coming past as we had breakfast, we didn’t mind . . . one little boy said to mum “I like that caravan”! After thanking Reza we left Craven Arms for the short drive to Condover and were actually walking down the lane to the farm to pay at 10:30 am, having pitched on our normal No 6 as the other’s were reserved. We had decided to fill with water before pitching at the tap at the bottom of the drive, but we couldn’t find the adapter to fit the tap, we decided not to bother and fill later as we still had over 60 litres in the tank, only to find that John (the owner) had fitted a water supply to each pitch! Molly “booked us in” at the farm, or rather we “ booked ourselves in” as she was busy organising the charity fishing match (more later) for Monday. She asked us if we could use pitch 7, we said “it was reserved”, “yes”, she said, “for you”, could you look after the marquee when we erect it”? Jokingly, “hold on to it if it gets windy in the night”. As we arrived early, I decided to put up the awning, (we usually leave it until the next day), and once the “four-handed” part was done, Jenny made lunch while I completed putting the pegs in, so much easier into grass than the hardstanding we have been on recently. This afternoon we went for our customary walk around the pools, before having tea (great pork sausages from Bilbury Farm) and those plums from Upton-on-Severn? Jenny made Oat, Walnut and Plum Crumble, WOW!

Friday 3rd May 2013
A relaxed day, pity the weather was not as good as yesterday, but at least it has stayed dry, albeit a good few degrees colder, at least our daughter in Saskatchewan is pleased, for the first time this year their temperature was higher than ours. Great to meet Ken and Violet and Eddie and Doe who we met here in August, it was Ken who gave me 2 bottles of Cider for tuition of my piscatorial skills???

Saturday 4th May 2013
There was major activity on the next 2 pitches to us this morning when Molly arrived with Robert to erect the marquee for the charity fishing match on Monday. There were about 8 young men who came to help, I imagine they normally work on the farm, they were all Europeans and all credit to them they were so enthusiastic and within about 2 hours the marquee, plus a gazebo were up.
Ryton Farm  Cerificated Location.
Ryton Farm Cerificated Location.


We have offered to help on Monday, however I have told Molly that I don’t “do cooking”, perhaps I can control the car park? Despite the cold wind I decided to fish “Hughes Pool” this afternoon and was quite successful catching 5 large Carp, Jenny bought a cup of tea to me at 4:00pm, plus her iPhone so I could listen to the football scores, big sigh of relief, looks like Aston Villa will escape relegation. Superb tea tonight, we had the last of the “Bilbury” sausages and also the last of the Plums, Jenny made a Plum and Ginger Tart, should have been some left for tomorrow . . . there isn’t!

Sunday 5th May 2013
A relaxed day in the warm sun, we sat outside reading, in the afternoon I fished on Goffs Pool next to Ken, Doe and Ed, who were also fishing.

Monday 6th May 2013
What a great fun day, the annual fishing contest in aid of “Breakthrough Breast Cancer” took place today and everybody started to arrive at about 8:30am, we were surrounded by cars and fishermen and there was plenty of banter between them, usually about “the one that got away”.
The Fishing Contest "Car Park".
The Fishing Contest "Car Park".


Breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms and tomatoes, with a bap, plus tea or coffee, was given to all the participants before the draw for the contest on the three of the pools took place. I was up the bank with John (the owner of the farm and fishery) and his grandchildren Henry and Milly, for the 11:00am start, which Henry had the honour of starting by activating the “Crow Scarer”, blooming loud them things when you stand just 3 foot from them! I had a few walks around the pools whilst the contest was taking place and Jenny sat with me on the bench on Eddie’s Pool watching the man on peg 9 catching Carp after Carp, thinking he must be “in the running”. At the end of the contest at 4:00pm, Molly said they were OK for “weighers” (my job), but could Jenny cut some cake, so I watched the weigh in while Jenny helped Anne (Johns wife) to serve the chocolate or lemon drizzle cake and tea or coffee in the gazebo as the fishermen returned, yes, I had a piece of cake and tea as well. There was a moving speech at the presentations by the husband of a lady that was at the contest that took place last year, but sadly past away from breast cancer a short time ago, the overhaul winner (was the man on peg 9, with a winning weight of 147lb 1ozs) who was given “Debbie Jennings” trophy in honour of the lady, plus other prizes donated by “Total Angling” and a money prize. After all the prize giving, the raffle and the result of the “guess the weight” completion the fishermen began to depart and Jenny and I were invited to the “after party” in the marquee with the Cartwright family and the charity organisers for a drink. Robert decided he would take the marquee and gazebo down this evening as rain is expected in the next day or two, so whilst he fetched “his helpers” I started to take down the side screens, etc., and Jenny started to help dismantle the kitchen with Anne. Robert arrived back with about 6 of his lads and with their help we soon had the marquee down, packed away and into the back of the van, we then put the chairs, BBQ and other bits near the motorhome ready for collection tomorrow. A very enjoyable day and although not confirmed the final total raised for the “Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity raised over £1,600.

Tuesday 7th May 2013
Molly arrived first thing this morning with two of the farm hands to collect the chairs and BBQ and whilst Molly went to take off a winter fleece protecting the Nectarine trees nearby from frost, the lads and I loaded the van, she confirmed the charity hade made £1640.30, which she was delighted with, she also said she was adding me to the farm payroll! On such a beautiful day, I decided to have a “full” days fishing on Hughes Pool, in my favourite place which yesterday produced 56lb of fish in the contest. Only the second day this year I have worn shorts and I even had sun tan lotion on, Jenny came down and sat next to me for the day and knitted, bringing with her the radio which we both listened to, it’s always nice to have Jenny with me when I fish. I had an excellent day, catching 10 Carp, 3 Bream and a nice sized Rudd, a trio of the Carp weighed 11lb, 10lb and 9¾lb, my best weight’s ever.
Common Carp 11lb at Ryton Farm.
Common Carp 11lb at Ryton Farm.


Wednesday 8th May 2013
A quiet day, I read and caught up with editing some photographs, Jenny did some baking, tonight’s pudding is Apple and ginger pie with walnut pastry AND there’s Brandy in it! I did have two walks around the pools the first time talking to one of only two anglers fishing today and the second time taking my binoculars with me spotting 14 different birds albeit common species.

Thursday 9th May 2013
We decided to visit Shrewsbury today as we needed some bread and milk, plus a few more small items. We had a very windy walk to the T junction at the end of the lane to catch the No 435 bus at 11:06, luckily the promised rain held off and the bus was on time. We did most of our shopping before lunch and then walked to “The Town Fryer” the restaurant that we normally visit when in Shropshire for their excellent fish and chips, we weren’t disappointed they were excellent, although whilst we were there a lady complained about her meal and the waiter evidently spoke to the manager who agreed not to charge for it. The manager came up the stairs later and asked us and others whether our meals were OK, to which everybody agreed they were. Digressing, as I’m typing this (6:44pm), there is a fantastic rainbow over the campsite. Back to Shrewsbury, we and another lady use this restaurant every time we and she go to Shrewsbury and have never been disappointed and once more, excellent value £4.20 for a large fish, chips and mushy peas and there are not many places now where we can buy a mug of tea for under £1 (.95p). After purchasing the bread and milk we had left buying until walking back to the bus station, we caught the 2:31pm bus back to Ryton, we weren’t so lucky walking back to the motorhome, it rained heavy and we had to change our trousers when we arrived back! We weren’t so unlucky as one of two lads fishing Eddies Pool, We saw them walking down the drive and then a short time later walked towards our motorhome and waved to me, I went out to see what they wanted, evidently the one lad had dropped is phone in the water!!! The intention was to ring his dad to fetch them when they had finished fishing, he asked if he could use a phone to ring him, obviously we obliged and a short time later his dad came to collect them both. Our good deed for the day.

Friday 10th May 2013
Another very windy night and I am disappointed that I wasn't able to do any fishing today, all three pools had waves on them, I don’t mind fishing when it’s windy, but when its windy, wet and cold, no thanks! Both free practice sessions of the F1 Grand Prix from Barcelona were on the television so I watched both of them this morning whilst Jenny did some knitting. This afternoon I decided to have another go at sorting out my photographs on Photoshop Adobe Elements 11, once I am happy with what I have done I will be able to delete the earlier version (Adobe Elements 10), despite not having an “instruction book” , I am more confident now that I understand the changes and also the benefits.

Saturday 11th May 2013
Much like yesterday, the weather is windy with very heavy showers not my type of fishing day, although I did go out this evening to fish and caught 2 Common Carp within 30 minutes before the “weather” came in again and I retreated back to the motorhome.

Sunday 12th May 2013
Well our plans worked perfectly this morning, we got up, had breakfast and because the awning was dry and rain expected, skipped our showers, we then both cut each other’s hair, I joked that it was the first time in 44 years, because Jenny now as had her cataracts “done”, that she as cut my hair properly! We took our time with the awning and were drinking tea before having our showers and it started to rain, perfect timing! It was soon time for the Grand Prix and we watched that, including the red button forum until 4:00 pm, a good race and excellent result for Ferrari. I had intended to fish this evening, but sure enough it’s still showery and the wind is still blowing, in fact my intention was to fish tomorrow before we leave, but the BBC weather forecast looks similar for future days.

West Midlands
Monday 13th May 2013
Kingsbury Water Park, Kingsbury, 52 34 09 N, 01 42 21 W, (61 Miles).

We left Ryton Farm late morning, luckily dodging the showers when we walked down to the farm to take the key back of the electric hook-up. We travelled the busier, but quicker route to Kingsbury, taking the M54, M6 and then the M42 and exiting at Junction 9 and “Dunton Island”, infinitely better than M54 and A5, even though there were road works between junction’s 7 & 6 on the M6. We arrived at approximately 1:00pm and decided to treat ourselves and walk along the canal tow path to the Dog and Doublet, Jenny had Loin Pork in Cider and I had the “small” Mixed Grill, both from the specials board, they were delicious, but if a pork chop, 2 sausages, gammon, bacon, steak, egg, chips, peas, mushrooms and onion rings was a small mixed grill, it was a good job I didn’t have a big one, I only left a few peas though and I certainly hadn’t got room for a pudding. With no laundry facilities at Ryton Jenny did our washing as soon as we arrived at the camp site, we have also “tempted fate” by changing our duvet to the summer weight from the autumn weight (we have never “doubled up” to make the winter one).

Tuesday 14th May 2013
James from the car rental company Enterprise arrived at 12:00am to take us to the depot in Sutton Coldfield, Jenny was pleased the car was a bright metallic Green Vauxhall Corsa, not unlike the colour of our Ford Escort we had in the 1980’s, now she has told James she wants the bright blue one next time. We drove straight back to the camp site and collected a few items we wanted to take to the storage unit and then drove to Tamworth. We as usual wanted a few items from there, the “infill’s” for the dinette bed, 2 extra pillows and 2 umbrellas to name but 3 items we will need in June (actually, hopefully not the brollies) when our friends from New Zealand visit us. Our next stop was Asda to get our groceries for the next couple of the weeks, not all however, our intention is to purchase some of our needs from “the Britstops” we intend to visit, one of them being an Organic Farm in Nottinghamshire. We also went to Halfords whilst we were at the Ventura Park Shopping Centre, Betty’s poorly, we stroked her yesterday and she didn’t react, but we tried her again after I give her a “re-boot” this morning and she started to work again, but we also noticed that she is not holding the charge when off the vehicle battery. The assistant was very helpful and we “think” we know which new Satnav to purchase should Betty not get better.

Wednesday 15th May 2013
An early visit this morning to Good Hope Hospital for Jenny’s post-op 4 week check-up, we had barely sat down when she was called by the nurse and within 30 minutes we were returning to the car, still cost us £2 for the car park fee though! Brother Brian’s was our next destination in Great Barr and we spent the rest of the morning there chatting, his garden railway is really starting to progress, his “phase 1” he tells us is almost complete, he didn’t tell us how many more phases there are however, we’ll have to ask his wife Linda. Tesco was our next stop at New Oscott for a few items we didn’t/couldn’t get at Asda, notably wine, before driving back to the camp site. “Boysitting, early evening at Michaels as he and Sharon had a parents night at Fradley School for “new child induction” for when Charlie our Grandson starts school in September, we can’t believe it’s time for him to go to school already.