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Travelogue

31st January 2012 - 2nd April 2012

Mostly Somerset
Somerset
Tuesday 31st January 2012
West End Farm Holiday Park, Near Weston-super-Mare, 51 20 05 N, 02 55 69 W, (75 Miles).

Once again at the campsite which because of its location less than a 15 minute walk from Rhiain’s house we suffer going to! And yet another change in policy, no cards and this time no cheques, plus the fee has gone up to £15.50 per night. This man is so rude all he said to Jenny was “you’ll have to go and get some cash” (why he didn’t mention it when we rang yesterday). We did have enough cash with us to stay one night so we arranged just that, we will get cash tomorrow for the other 2 days. We then spent the rest of the day with Rhiain and Kura, and then Ian when he arrived home from work.

Wednesday 1st February 2012-Thursday 2nd February 2012
Spent with Rhiain, Ian and our gorgeous Granddaughter Kura.

Friday 3rd February 2012
Minehead Camping Club Site, Minehead, 51 11 89 N, 03 28 45 W, (47 Miles).

A easy run this morning to Minehead and our first stop was the large Tesco Supermarket less than 2 mile from our destination to “re-provision” We needed to spend £60 (I took a calculator with us) to make sure we got the 10pence off fuel voucher (we actually spent £69 anyway). Good saving on our diesel, although we hadn’t bought fuel since 10th December 2011, which does seem a long time between refills but we have actually in that time only really driven to the Midlands and back and done just 354 miles and the £6.20 was an excellent discount. Decision to be made when we arrived at the camp site, should we go on the pitch which is normally in the sun at this time of the year? Or, go in the shade but be nearer where the Red Deer graze? The sunny pitch won! We spent the time after lunch (a Tesco Garlic and Herb Tear ‘n’ Share, I tore and had more than my fair share) erecting the awning, we are staying here for at least 11 days so we only did the minimum, we will lay the carpet (best Axminster) and fit the draught excluder tomorrow.

Saturday 4th February 2012
A short walk to the town this morning to visit the local library, checking with the librarian we found that our North Somerset library tickets were valid for here before we looked for books. I did particularly want to borrow books on “Windows 7 and Office 2010”, however obviously they don’t update their books very often; they only had “Windows Vista and Office 2007”. Not surprised therefore when I noticed a “yellowed” newspaper on the stand with the headlines “an ocean liner hits an iceberg on its maiden voyage”!!!

Sunday 5th February 2012
The Sabbath!

Monday 6th February 2012
A walk into Minehead for a browse!

Tuesday 7th February 2012
A relaxed day for me, Jenny caught up with the washing.

Wednesday 8th February 2012
A day which was mostly relaxed, although we did spend some time deciding where and when we shall be in the next 6 weeks, we will probably stay here for longer before our next stop at Cheddar, we have got the motorhome booked in for its service the middle of March and we also have a couple of appointments in the Midlands late March. It will then be almost Easter, time to “hide” for a couple of weeks, almost certainly at Ryton Farm CL in Shropshire before continuing to Wales (perhaps).

Thursday 9th February 2012
We have a “deceased “ Dyson vacuum cleaner, it must have known we have not been happy with it for some time, our fault really, we didn’t realise when we bought it that the maximum duration of the usage was 6 minutes, certainly not enough time for ME to vacuum the motorhome. Strangely enough we looked at purchasing a new electric one a few weeks ago and then decided to wait, now we have no choice. Tesco in Lichfield had the best choice when we last looked, so after a 20 minute walk late morning to Minehead Tesco and I am now the proud owner of a new Russell Hobbs “bagless” vacuum cleaner, I’m not letting Jenny get her hands on it, (or perhaps I will).

Friday 10th February 2012
A stroll to Minehead this morning to visit the small wool shop near the High Street the lady had promised Jenny a copy of a knitwear pattern for a fisherman’s rib jumper, it wasn’t exactly what she wanted but she will improvise. Then to the Co-operative store for milk and a newspaper and we then walked back in the very cold windy weather. We then spent the rest of the day relaxing in the welcome warmth of the motorhome.

Saturday 11th February 2012
It’s half term (already?) and the West Somerset Railway are running steam locomotives on the timetable all week; a photographic opportunity couldn’t be missed. We walked down to Minehead station after lunch (via the wool shop to purchase some wool, which unfortunately was closed); our timing was perfect as there was a train due for departure at 14:15 so we walked along the platform to the head of the train as the small prairie tanker (No 5553 for enthusiasts) shunted into position.
Locomotive 5553.
Locomotive 5553.


There’s nothing like the smell and sound of a steam loco’ as they pull away with a load on, sheer nostalgia! After the train departed we browsed the second-hand book stalls which were obviously predominately rail orientated. However Jenny did spot a knitting book so enquired of the lady assistant whether she had any others, she hadn’t but she did suggest looking in the charity shops for them. I found an almost “mint” 1953 Ian Allan, British Railway Locomotive book, which took me back to my school days, I couldn’t resist it for £4. I left Jenny talking to the lady at the bookstall whilst I visited the station shop to peruse more steam locomotive books, plus some of the information books on the West Somerset Railway. It gave me great memories of the railway as my brother and I travelled on it so often when our parents had a caravan at Blue Anchor Bay in the late 1950’s.

Sunday 12th February 2012
Another cold night, even the Owl couldn’t be bothered to hoot, although by the time we went to the amenities the temperature was about 3 degrees C and it gradually rose throughout the day. I concentrated today on transferring some of the earlier files that we use from the Sony laptop to the Samsung, still had to refer to the Windows 7 “on-line” help to be able to do it, definitely need a Windows 7 book for dummies or over 65’s or both!

Monday 13th February 2012
A relaxed day.

Tuesday 14th February 2012
A stroll to the town late morning for lunch, but not before visiting Minehead Station to see whether there were any different locomotives on show, however other than managing to get a better photo of “Raveningham Hall” with Jenny’s iPhone there was nothing else of interest.
Locomotive 6959 Raveningham Hall.
Locomotive 6959 Raveningham Hall.


We fancied a baked potato and found “Butterflies” a small café in “The Avenue” (the main street down to the esplanade) and I enjoyed a prawn “spud” and Jenny a tuna one, before walking back to the camp site.

Wednesday 15th February 2012
Decided today we would have a day out in Tiverton in Devon a 1 hour and 35 minute journey over Exmoor National Park on the No 398 bus. We caught the bus in Alcombe the village (part of Minehead) just 10 minutes’ walk away from the campsite at 10.55 am, joined on the bus by the campsite manager Elaine who had a day off and was meeting her Daughter, Son-in-Law and Grandchildren in Tiverton for the day (they were on holiday in Bideford). It was an interesting drive over the moor, very picturesque and we even managed to see a “hunt” loads of hounds with a group of horsemen. Typically of a rural bus service we de-toured off the main road to accommodate passengers that needed to be picked up from the numerous small (and not so small, i.e., Dulverton) villages along the way. Great for me this journey, managed to see plenty of the country side before we reached the bus station in Tiverton, arriving in the town we decided to just walk along the main street and side streets browsing in the shops before looking for a place to have lunch. Fish & Chips is what we fancied and a Fish & chip shop is what we found, with the spotlessly clean “seating part” tucked up a little alley, the Haddock and chips (plus two mugs of tea) were the best we have had for some time, we haven’t been too impressed with the two previous mobile “chippies” that have been to campsites. We also started chatting to another couple who were seated on the next table, He was a keen Tiverton Town football supporter (maximum gate 268) and we had a great talk about football, (his wife is a distant relation of Ryan Giggs), meanwhile Jenny chatted with his wife about……well I don’t know what they were chatting about, what I do know we must have been talking for at least 45 minutes after we finished our meal! A stroll along the main street found us at the River Exe riverside walk between the two town bridges, which despite the cold wind we found very enjoyable. We had just enough time before the bus departed to have a coffee in the small department store Banburys before the short walk to the bus station. It got interesting at the bus station when two drunks (no, not us) wanted to get on the bus, luckily the senior bus driver managed to talk them out of it shortly afterwards the police arrived to assist but they had already walked off., I say bus driver, but he was actually only the bus driver on the way out, we had a young driver on the way back who was learning the route (he was observing on the way out). By the time we left Dulverton there was only three of us on the bus, me, Jenny and Elaine, Phil, (the senior driver) who was actually a line manager for the small bus company sat with us at times on the way back and explained what his function was (which included today, getting off the bus in Dulverton and buying meat pies from the local bakery). We arrived at Minehead, the passenger numbers swelled by a couple who had been to “Snowdrop Valley” (I must have a look at that) and what we didn’t realise was the bus went a different way into the town and not near Alcombe, great, Phil had the driver drive the bus back out of town and drop us near the campsite, before he re-traced his route back to town, what service. Forgot to mention the heavy weight in my rucksack on the way back, 4 huge slices of bread pudding from a Tiverton bakery was the cause!

Thursday 16th February 2012
A relaxed day.

Friday 17th February 2012
A walk down to Minehead.

Saturday 18th February 2012
Another walk to the town this time for bread, milk and oranges, arriving back in plenty of time to watch a very disappointing FA Cup Match between Sunderland and Arsenal. After an internet “chat” with a member of the Adobe sales team, I have purchased on-line the latest version of Adobe Photoshop Elements (10) , having been informed I don’t need my original Adobe Photoshop Elements (7) to have an upgrade (I can’t find the original CD to put the programme on this new laptop). Download was completed at 9:21pm, I was still attempting to load the programme at 11:30pm, looks like I will be getting in touch with Adobe support on Monday!

Sunday 19th February 2012
Tesco was a priority today as we had very little meat left, managed to fill both our rucksacks with our immediate needs and still managed to spend £43.00, less £5 with the voucher we still had! Spent most of the afternoon looking at various internet sites to see if I could solve the problem of Adobe Elements not loading, to no avail. Sorry about the lack of photo’s at present on the web site I really need to get the photo programme sorted, I also must apologise to Don and Jan, I will email the photo’s of Molly and Jack (Border Collies) as soon as I can.

Monday 20th February 2012
Nightmare attempting to get Adobe Element’s downloaded onto the computer and spent most of the morning and early afternoon waiting for the extremely slow download to finish. Then!!!! Still getting error messages and I’m getting very frustrated. After another internet chat to Adobe support Sahana the very helpful assistant suggested that I download (for a 3rd time) and de-activate my virus and fire-wall software at the same time. I decided not to take that option and actually booked a help call to Adobe, brilliant 17 minutes later I had the ring back from India and after explaining the problem we made the decision to have a refund on the download and I would order the “boxed installation” from the UK Adobe store. However, after browsing the internet, what did I find? PC World had a sale and they were selling the complete programme (I was only buying an upgrade) for £34.99, I had paid £66.42 for the upgrade! And as we are going to Taunton tomorrow for the day, I have pre-ordered it from the store there, why didn’t I check the prices before, I naturally presumed that ordering through the Adobe Store would be the best option. I must say though although I didn’t get a solution from Adobe Support they were extremely helpful.

Tuesday 21st February 2012
Caught the 11:00 am, No 28 bus from Alcombe and had a very pleasant run alongside the Quantock Hills to Taunton, can’t understand though why the No 18 bus from another bus company runs at almost the same time, we followed each other for most of the way from Watchet. Arriving at the bus station we thought it would be a simple task to find a bus that runs to the large Retail Park, which is about 3 mile from the town centre near Junction 25 of the M5 motorway, wrong, the information office was closed (which didn’t help) so we asked several bus drivers and were given conflicting (and totally wrong) information from all of them. After wasting a good deal of time we eventually found only one bus went to the retail park, they only return hourly, and we had just missed one so we opted for a taxi, £7.80 to the entrance of PC World, but we had made a considerable saving on Adobe Elements so it was worth it. Having pre-ordered we weren’t long in the store and as the taxi driver had already pointed out the bus stop to us we walked straight to it, pity we had just missed one (again), another 30 minute wait, well actually 55 minutes it was late! When we arrived back we it was well after lunch time so we decided on a simple meal and as we alighted near a KFC, chicken and fries is what we had. A postscript to the late bus…….We were talking to a young couple at the retail park bus stop who had decided to walk back to the town, we were just entering the door of and they were coming out, having walked from the retail park and already eaten AND I’m wrong in saying THEY walked, he was in a wheelchair!!!! After the delay’s today we didn’t have much time to look around the town so we are going to go back next week, instead we bought our immediate needs and walked back to the bus station. Great excitement when the bus arrived, it was a double decker and we haven’t been on one of those for many years and YES we did go upstairs and YES we did sit up the front, what was worrying though was the amount of low bridges (The West Somerset Railway) that it went under on the way back, Jenny “ducked” at every one!

Wednesday 22nd February 2012
At last and not before time, last night without any problems whatsoever I put the new Adobe elements 10 programme onto new laptop and then spent the rest of the day transferring all my photographs from the old one. Not so straight forward as you may think as I wanted to improve and amend some files as I put them on.

Thursday 23rd February 2012
As we have to move from the campsite tomorrow having reached the permitted maximum stay of 21 days, we thought we would have a look at a campsite about 1½ along the road the Exmoor and Minehead Caravan Park, which according to the information we had was open “all year”, well the gate was locked, I jumped (climbed) over it and the reception was locked and there was nobody about, it didn’t look particular nice anyway, so we walked away and down the road towards Minehead. The walk was very pleasant, a tarmac path lead between houses along the edge of a very pretty stream almost to the edge of the town. After a quick visit to Iceland for oranges, bread and milk, it was lunchtime so a visit to the “Oggy Oggy” pasty shop was necessary we sat inside enjoying a large meat pasty each with a pot of tea. Returning to the motorhome I continued to transfer photos whilst Jenny knitted and read.

Friday 24th February 2012
Quantock Orchard Caravan Park, near Crowcombe, 51 06 46 N, 03 13 60 W (15 Miles).

A short distance to travel this morning, we therefore didn’t have to “rush off”, just as well, we were just leaving when a man from a motorhome near us introduced himself. He and his wife have the 2008 model Autocruise Starblazer, which has differences from our 2009 model and he was asking us how we were getting on with ours, after inspecting and chatting about each other’s models we finally left the campsite about an hour later. We hadn’t gone 3 mile when we decided to turn down the road signposted Dunster Beach and knowing we could park almost on the beach we stayed there for a further hour looking over the Bristol Channel towards Wales, drinking tea and reading the newspaper.
Dunster Beach.
Dunster Beach.


Within 30 minutes we were at Quantock Orchard, (we knew where it was we passed it on the bus on Tuesday) and shown to a very comfortable pitch close to the amenities, the site has a Fitness Room, Jacuzzi and Sauna which we may make use of while we are here, on second thoughts perhaps (no definitely) not the fitness room.
Quantock Orchard Caravan Park.
Quantock Orchard Caravan Park.


Saturday 25th February 2012
A relaxed morning, I went up the lane to take some photographs of the Quantock Hills, I then decided to walk the ¾ mile down the lane to Crowcombe Station hopefully to take a photograph of the steam train that was due at 11:51am, I misjudged the time and despite running (yes really) along the lane I missed it by about a minute and a 100 yards! Fun when I arrived back a low-loader had arrived with a mobile home on it, it was a tight squeeze between the walls and hedges, however inch by inch it eventually made it through the entrance, not that I’m a nosey person, (mmmm) but I stood outside with my lunchtime sandwich watching them unload it. Rhiain, Ian and Kura came over lunchtime and we spent a wonderful afternoon with them, our granddaughters simply gorgeous! Tomorrow we return to Minehead and will stay at the Caravan Club Site until we take the motorhome in for service on March 12th.
The Quantock Hills.
The Quantock Hills.


Sunday 26th February 2012
Minehead Caravan Club Site, Minehead, 51 11 88 N, 03 28 41 W, (15 Miles).

Left Quantock Orchard at 10:30 am, would we come here again? Only if they improve the showers! Tesco was the first stop in Minehead this morning, just as well the “larder” was bare and we were down to bread and water (and not much of that either). Our favourite pitch was occupied so we are a bit further up the campsite, not that it matters, the sun now is high enough to reach over the trees and we are actually facing the bank which the Red Deer graze on the top of (there are five there as I am typing this) and the steep paths which they use to reach the grass on the campsite. Such wonderful weather, we took the opportunity to erect the awning, it got that warm a bottle of Cobra was called for (bought a pack of 8 at Christmas now only 7 left, must stop this heavy drinking) and while I finished putting the pegs in Jenny took the washing to the laundry, tasks completed we will then relax for the rest of the day.
Minehead Caravan Club Site.
Minehead Caravan Club Site.


Monday 27th February 2012
A quiet day. Walked into Minehead for some greetings cards and some ingredients for Jen’s fantastic Crab & Sweetcorn Chowder before having a cup of tea and a slice of cake at Mr Micawbers restaurant, very nice it was too and we will return another day for lunch there.

Tuesday 28th February 2012
* * * A Very Happy Birthday to our Wonderful Son Michael * * *

Another relaxed day, we took the opportunity in the warm sun to sit in the awning, reading from late morning and for most of the afternoon. At last (difficult to believe but true), because I have been so busy???? I have finally finished the second edition of the “N Photo” magazine that I bought before Christmas, only 2 more editions to read and the 5th copy is out the 15th March! I did keep my eye on the Red Deer on the top of the bank opposite hoping they would oblige by coming down to graze on the campsite so I could take some photographs, but they refused to “play ball”. Finally managed to put a few photos on the web site, normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Wednesday 29th February 2012
After not actually seeing much of the centre of Taunton last week, we decided today to once again catch the No 28 bus and visit there. However, not before we alighted along the way at the little ancient coastal town of Watchet, which Jenny had never visited and the last time I was there I was in short trousers. Watchet was first recorded during the dark ages, when St Decuman arrived from South Wales and acted as a physician, arbitrator and pastor to the local community. He arrived on a raft with a cow as a companion! Watchet also has the second highest rise and fall of tide in the world.
Watchet Harbour.
Watchet Harbour.


After a walk of nearly an hour around the inner harbour and Esplanade including a photography stop, we ran (well walked quickly) to catch the next bus to Taunton. It was after lunch by the time we arrived so we had an Angus Burger (with fries and a “carton” of tea) at the Burger King in the high street before continuing our walk. After window shopping along the pleasant, pedestrian only, main shopping street, plus purchasing a couple of T shirts for Jenny at M&S and exploring some of the side streets we made our way back to the bus station and caught the bus back once again to Alcombe arriving back at the camp site at 17:30.

Thursday 1st March 2012-Friday 2nd March 2012
Two quiet days, I am starting to get to grips with Photoshop Elements 10, luckily my two manuals from the older version (7) are a help to me.

Saturday 3rd March 2012
A walk into Minehead for a few bits of groceries this morning, Jenny has promised me a Crab Chowder, so some nice bread was required, I just love to “dunk” it! We also called in at Argos, the Caravan Club are no longer providing irons in their laundry rooms, “Elf and Safety” again!!! That Jenny (well definitely not me) has been using one for the last 55 years is now deemed not sufficient training in the use of one. Argus didn’t have the one we wanted, I will therefore have to make do with creases in my underpants.

Sunday 4th March 2012
Woke up to an unusual sound this morning, yes it was raining, the first we have had of any significance for some time. I took the opportunity after breakfast (the rain having stopped), to wash the outside of the van, in the hope that it would start raining again and it would save me rinsing it off, my plan didn’t work, in fact the sun came out! After that we had rather a lazy day, I watched the football match, whilst Jenny knitted and read, I have also decided to “re-visit” my photographic manuals and I have also caught up “at last” with the back issues of the N Photo magazines, I will now look forward to the April??? Issue on March 15th. Didgeridoo practice? Going very well, only 20 couples have left the campsite today!

Monday 5th March 2012-Wednesday 7th March 2012
Such lovely weather we have mostly spent the days relaxing outside in the awning and at no stage did we have to put the heater on in there. We have been to the town a couple of times for perishables and visit the library (which still have no books on windows 7); we also indulged in a couple of large pasties at the Oggy Oggy bakery.

Thursday 8th March 2012
Although we could have taken the bus to our destination today Dunster Castle and village we decided instead to walk the 2 mile, which enabled me to take some photographs of the castle from the main road and the public footpath along the River Avill. As we wondered by the side of the river, I thought it was a typical river where Dippers might be seen, what did I spot literally seconds later? Yes a Dipper, physic, clever or just lucky? You choose! We continued through the castle parkland to Lawn’s Bridge the first of three ancient bridges in the Castle Park and village, wishing I had bought my camera tri-pod for some “slow” photographs of the picturesque waterfall below the bridge. The next bridge was Lovers Bridge (no, I don’t know why) and was actually in the castle grounds, however only 2 pieces of barbed wire prevented me from getting closer, well I just had too! Using a tree for support I made my way along the sloping river bank and took some photos, returning I couldn’t use the tree and instead used a wooden post (which I guess was part of the original fence), IT MOVED….. I was left standing in 4 inches of river water, luckily I had my walking boots on which are waterproof, but unluckily the lace holes weren’t!!!! Squelching along the path with a grinning Jenny by my side we reached Gallox Bridge, an ancient packhorse bridge and ford and crossed the river towards the village, (I could have crossed the ford instead of using the bridge; it would have made no difference my feet were so wet). We were going to visit the Watermill, but unfortunately it was closed (opens on Saturday), so we walked through the pretty village and made our way to Conygar Woods, where we followed the steep upward path to Conygar Tower a folly which was originally built by the owners of Dunster Castle to afford the panoramic views of the Somerset coastline and the Bristol Channel to the shores of Wales (there wasn’t a view of the Port Talbert Steelworks in the distance then).
Conygar Tower.
Conygar Tower.


Leaving the tower we descended through the woods and via a public footpath and old lane we made our way back to the campsite, stopping at the Co-operative store in Alcombe for some fresh rolls for our lunch. Oh, and my feet were dry by the time we arrived back!

Friday 9th March 2012
Up early this morning, we arranged to attempt a “Skype” conversation with our friends Brian and Judy in New Zealand at 8:00 am, GMT 9:00 pm NZ time, it worked to perfection and we had a wonderful chat for over 50 minutes. We then had a relaxed day, just a walk to the town for milk and bread and to return our library books, never did find a Windows 7 book, looks like by the time we find one, we will have found out all we want to know by experimenting. Fish & Chips tonight from the “Shepherds Plaice” in Alcombe, we had a Haddock each and shared the chips, in fact with the large size of the haddock we could have shared just one of those as well.

Saturday 10th March 2012
I was not at all satisfied with the photographs that I took on Thursday (although I now realise what I was doing wrong) so I decided this morning to re-visit Dunster Castle, Jenny wanted to clean the inside of the motorhome so she stayed behind. Even though a bus was due I walked, in fact 3 buses passed me on the main road before I arrived at the Dunster Park entrance. I re-traced my steps along the River Avill re-shooting some of the shots from Thursday, before arriving once again at Lawn’s Bridge. I had brought my tri-pod this time so I was able to take my time and take some of the “blurry” shots of the waterfall which I wanted. I then continued to Lovers Bridge (I kept my feet dry this time) and Gallox Bridge (which I didn’t photograph last time), before walking back along the public footpath alongside the river, stopping to watch 2 Dippers flying from rock to rock, obviously looking for food.
Lawn Bridge and Falls at Dunster.
Lawn Bridge and Falls at Dunster.
River Avill, Lovers Bridge at Dunster.
River Avill, Lovers Bridge at Dunster.
Gallox Bridge at Dunster.
Gallox Bridge at Dunster.


Striding towards the main road across the parkland, I kept a look out for a bus, having thought as I had had enough exercise for one day I would catch one back to Alcombe. Not missing one on the 20 minute walk back I surmised that one must be almost due, I was correct, I only waited 5 minutes at the bus shelter at Dunster Steep before a No18 came along and I was soon back at Alcombe, picking up bread rolls there for our lunch. Having a quick look at my photographs this afternoon I am satisfied with today’s outing.

Sunday 11th March 2012
We leave Minehead tomorrow and will take the motorhome in to West Country Motorhomes for it’s annual vehicle & habitation service, can’t believe we have had it 3 years and a MOT is due. We have been here since the 3rd February and what a good decision to spend some of the winter here, the weather has been so kind, we could almost count the amount of snowflakes we have had, we have missed the extreme cold and we have had some nice warm days, rather different to our experience of last winter. We waited until after lunch to take the awning down, we were waiting for the sun to “burn” the mist off, but the awning was perfectly dry anyway to enable us to fold it neatly into the bag, it’s always more difficult to do when its damp, Murphy’s Law, we had put everything away when the sun came out!

Monday 12th March 2012
Rhiain’s House, Weston-super-Mare, (40 miles to WCM).

We had intended having a mid-morning departure and spending sometime at Dunster Beach before travelling on to West Country Motorhomes at Lower Weare. However, it was so misty there didn’t seem much point so we delayed moving until mid-day and instead stopped for lunch and a read of the newspaper at The Crown Estate car park alongside the main road near Nether Stowey. We still arrived at WCM rather earlier than we anticipated, but the courtesy car was waiting for us and after going through the “job list” with Sandra, we were soon on our way, so much so that when we texted Rhiain to say “we were on our way” she thought we meant from Minehead, she was rather surprised therefore when we arrived 20 minutes later!

Tuesday 13th March 2012
Spending time with Rhiain and our wonderful granddaughter Kura, not forgetting Ian when he arrived home from work.

Wednesday 14th March 2012
Important job this morning, Jenny and I took Kura to baby clinic whilst Rhiain was next door at the doctors for her checkup. We then drove to the Tesco in Weston to stock up with non-perishable food for the next few days, perishables we will purchase in Cheddar at Tesco Express or the impressive Budgens supermarket, both of which are less than a 15 minute walk from the campsite. Sandra rang in the afternoon to say that the motorhome was ready for collection in the morning. Problems though, they have detected water ingress on the side of the floor and we will have to take the motorhome to the factory for rectification, we hope this won’t be a major problem for us in the next few months.

Thursday 15th March 2012
Cheddar Caravan Club Site, Cheddar, 51 16 30 N, 02 46 54 W (10 Miles).

We arrived at WCM to collect the motorhome at 9:45am and Sandra told us more about the water problem, evidently the machine has picked up moisture along both outside edges of the floor, we now have to wait approx’ 3 weeks for Swift’s to give us a date to take it in, which will entail a drive to East Yorkshire, we may have to change some of our plans (which were only provisional anyway) to have the work done. We have now had an external wing aerial fitted under warranty (the 4th one) hopefully having one fitted on the outside of the motorhome will mean we can listen to the radio properly as we travel, big speakers and door insulation next on the list? We have also had fitted a pair of protective mirror covers, strangely enough an investment we hope we will not re-coup, they cost £120, but as the mirrors “stick out” will be easily damaged by “the white van man” coming in the opposite direction, we have not had a problem (my careful driving), but a man we were speaking to last week has had 3 mirrors fitted in 4 years, 2 damaged on a tree branch near his home, (careless driver?) at a cost of over £900! We had “time to kill” before arriving at Cheddar so we drove through the town and found a place to park for 2 hours, a car park belonging to a road site “Strawberry seller”, obviously no Strawberry’s this time of the year, hence it was closed, so plenty of places to park and we read and relaxed for the rest of the morning. They are quite strict at the Cheddar Caravan Site about arrival time’s because the lane is very narrow, so we arrived just after 12:00, whoops, the Warden wasn’t very happy, we hadn’t realised that the arrival time here (we hadn’t looked in the book and booked it on-line, well who reads the small print?) is 1:00 pm and the reception was closed and she was having her lunch. I said sorry, smiled, blamed Jenny and said she was an idiot for not checking and she gradually warmed to my “charms” (or bull sxxt) and opened reception for us. We were soon “pitched” and having lunch before walking into Cheddar for some grocery’s and a visit the library, which was closed (looks as though it only opens 10 minutes a week).
Cheddar Caravan Club Site.
Cheddar Caravan Club Site.


Friday 16th March 2012
Another short walk along the dis-used railway track and now a public footpath and cycle way into Cheddar, much safer not having to walk along the busy road, around a bend and over a river bridge without a pavement to use. it's also much prettier walking alongside the small River Yeo, where plenty of small fish are visible, we have also read a Kingfisher can be seen, although we have not spotted it on our two previous visits here in 2009. We were only away a short time, just visiting Budgens for milk and fresh fruit, we forgot to go to the library. After lunch we erected the awning and although we are on a hardstanding pitch the ground underneath is fairly soft, much easier and quicker to hammer in the rock pegs than at Minehead, however that was once a quarry! Good news, Rhiain and Kura are staying with us tomorrow, while Ian visits his family in Southampton.

Saturday 17th March 2012
Rhiain and Kura arrived at 10:00 am and we have had a great day with them. Cheered me up a treat, I was in a bad mood, the weekend of the Australian Grand Prix and for the first time for an age I will have only highlights to watch, shame on you BBC.

Sunday 18th March 2012
A relaxed day, waiting for the all (to me) important Australian Grand Prix highlights to start in the afternoon. At least this year I haven’t needed to get up at “stupid o’ clock” but it’s such a “faf” making sure that I don’t hear the results on the radio, thank goodness for “Q Music” on channel 716, which is only music (and good at that) 24/7.

Monday 19th March 2012
A lovely warm morning following an overnight frost and after a short walk to the village to buy some lamb chops from the excellent butchers in the Budgens, £17 for 8 large ones, (one for me, one for Jen, six for the freezer), we sat in the awning reading. After lunch camera in hand I decided that I would walk along the public footpath along the banks of the River Yeo for a couple of mile. I thought that the shallow river only contained Brown Trout, but along a very short stretch I spotted, Chub, Perch, Roach and even a very small Pike, a Little Egret obviously looking for a tasty morsel was a welcome surprise, the UK being the most northerly place in the world where they breed. Arriving back at the camp site I made the decision to take my other camera with the 500mm zoom lens and see if I could take a decent photograph of them, good job I changed into my wellingtons, they were in a field on the other side of the river, paddling across I did get four shots off before they took flight, I have not yet downloaded them to the laptop.

Tuesday 20th March 2012
A day spent with Rhiain, Ian and Kura at their house.

Wednesday 21st March 2012
A walk today to Cheddar and the Gorge, the first stop being “The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Factory” shop to buy some cheese for brother Brian, we had a stroll around the shop and had a problem and walked out to ring him, did he want Cheddar with Garlic, Chives, Tomatoes, Marmite??? And 100’s of other variations and then did he want Mellow, Mature, Cave Matured or Vintage? The first question was easy, “just plain Cheddar”, the second? Well we just had to go and sample the goods! Not that they were over generous, the largest piece in the dish was no greater than ¼ inch square, looks like we will have to buy lunch today. Cheese chosen, the next shop we went into was the “The Cheddar Sweet Factory”, oh well, somebody had to try them. Eventually we arrived at the bottom of the Gorge proper and walked up the road to take some photographs, deciding that we wouldn’t bother visiting the cave complex as having seen caves in Australia we didn’t think they would compare, (I visited them when I was seven anyway). Walking back to the village we needed some lunch, samples of cheese and liquorice allsorts not being enough to satisfy our hunger, however fish, chips, mushy peas, bread and butter and tea was!!!!
Cheddar Gorge.
Cheddar Gorge.


Thursday 22nd March 2012
Another warm day, so we had our breakfast in the awning before spending the rest of the morning reading. After lunch we took the awning down, so much easier to do when the awning is dry. I then went for another walk along the banks of the River Yeo, not taking any chances I took both cameras with me and also wore my wellingtons in case I needed to cross the river, other than take a better photo of the river and the Mendip Hills in the background, I didn’t see anything else of interest, certainly not any Kingfishers or Egrets.
River Yeo, Cheddar.
River Yeo, Cheddar.


Gloucestershire
Friday 23rd March 2012
Tewkesbury Caravan Site, Tewkesbury, 51 59 31 N, 02 93 80 W, (77 Miles).

We wanted to be a Tewkesbury for lunchtime so we were “on the road” just after 9:30 am and stopped at Attwoolls Camping Store just off Junction 13 of the M5 to buy a travel iron, the Caravan Club have now decided that providing them in the laundry room is a health and safety risk! We also purchased a small frying pan to use on the electric hob on the cooker; we have in the past only been able to use the frying pan with the gas, because of its size. Arriving at Tewkesbury, it was the first day of the new season for this site, there were caravans and motorhomes queuing up to get in, sensibly the male wardens were marshalling them and I stayed in the motorhome to move forward in the line whilst Jenny booked in. The real “hold up” was the booking in process, trust somebody (not us) to want to change their booking on the first day, the computer just couldn’t cope with that! Being about the 8th unit through we certainly had a choice of one of the 145 predominately grass pitches on the 9 acre site and were soon sitting outside in the wonderful sunshine drinking tea.
Tewkesbury Caravan Club Site.
Tewkesbury Caravan Club Site.


Deciding we wanted lunch in town we walked the very short distance to High Street, and after reaching the top we then walked along the riverside (River Avon) watching some massive Common Carp feeding on bread that young children were throwing in for the ducks, whilst we were there the score was Carp 8, Ducks 2! Unusually not a great selection of “eateries” in the town the one that we really wanted to eat at being full, but we eventually sat down to a grille in “The Grille”, which was very enjoyable. After obtaining milk and bread at the Tesco “Metro” and at last I managed to obtain this month’s issue of “N Photo” at W H Smith we walked back to the campsite, finishing the afternoon once again sitting outside reading and relaxing.

Saturday 24th March 2012
Gosh, it was very foggy when we got up this morning (7:35 am), it was even cool in the motorhome, however, we have now put the small oil-filled radiator away for the summer, wrapped up the outside insulated weather shield (we are now only using the internal screens) and I didn’t bother adjusting the warm-air heating to switch on at a lower temperature. It soon warmed up as soon as we switched the electric heating on to a higher setting, but it must have “been the straw that broke the Camel’s back”; the whole of Tewkesbury had a power cut!!! It was off for about an hour it came on just after we had heated the porridge and kettle on the gas, should we ask for a refund for the electric we haven’t used? Again this morning (after the fog had lifted) we enjoyed sitting in the sun, before watching the F1 qualifying from Malaysia and they (the weather forecasters) have promised good weather for the next few days, great. We had a lovely walk in the afternoon along the River Avon over a footbridge onto a footpath over a meadow to the River Severn, walked for a time along the Severn before crossing over the meadow lower down, re-crossing the river near the old abbey flour mill and weir, stopping to take a few photographs on the way. Because the weir looked so picturesque with reflections of the mill in the water, I decided to walk back to the camp site and collect the tri-pod and walk back and take some more photographs of the old mill, river and weir, but not before we spotted an ice-cream van in the park…… where I asked for 2 flakes without cones????? Well it gave the ice-cream man and Jenny a good laugh! Arriving back at the river walk I spent an hour taking photographs, hopefully when I download them I will be pleased with the result.
Abbey Mill and Weir.
Abbey Mill and Weir.


Warwickshire
Sunday 25th March 2012
Kingsbury Water Park Camping & Caravan Club Site, Kingsbury, 52 34 14 N, 01 42 12 W, (59 Miles).

A nice easy run to Kingsbury this morning, in fact on the motorway I only touched the cruise control button twice to negotiate the two 50mph curves on the M5 and M40 exit’s. Arriving at the camp site we were actually in a queue to book in, but were soon found a pitch, although we were not able to go in our usual place as they are being upgraded to hardstanding. After a cup of tea we decided to erect the awning before the Malaysian Grand Prix started, we finished it with fifteen minutes to spare, we are getting quicker now each time we erect it…..just great teamwork. Michael, Sharon and Charlie came to see us late afternoon and we spent a nice couple of hours talking to them.

Monday 26th March 2012
After a relaxed morning we waited for Enterprise to collect us to get the hire car from their depot in Sutton Coldfield and after taking delivery of a Chevy Spark LS we made our way to Tamworth Camping to purchase some Toilet Fluid and Waste Tank cleaner, complete waste of time they didn’t have either in stock. Then our storage unit in Bitterscote to drop off some winter clothes and collect some summer ones, hopefully we won’t regret it!

Tuesday 27th March 2012
A fasting blood test for Jenny this morning and being a “gentleman” I elected to do without food as well, (it means I can eat more later). Our dentist was the next appointment, unfortunately I couldn’t get out of this one, luckily both Hayley and Stewart were gentle with me. It was now late morning and we were obviously both hungry, there was only one place to go, “The Damn Fine Café” and we both enjoyed our “Packington Pork” Pork baguettes with stuffing, apple sauce and a piece of crackling, a cup of tea and two slices of cake. Arriving back at the camp site early afternoon I decided to drive over to Sutton Coldfield to visit my brother Brian at Powells Pool where he was sailing his model yacht as member of Sutton Coldfield model Boat Club also nice to meet one of my old customers Dave, from my Ford days, who is also a member. Pity when I got back to the campsite, I had just missed “The Morris Minor” family who had decided to drive over to see us again, still they did leave me one scone!

Wednesday 28th March 2012
Another gorgeous day and we relaxed outside for most of the morning, it’s been great in the last few days being able to have breakfast every morning al fresco. After lunch we drove over to West Bromwich to once again see Brian, this time at Sandwell Model Boat Club’s pool, he left me in charge of his model RNLI boat, I didn’t sink it, but neither did I save anybody!

Thursday 29th March 2012
A very hot day, we didn’t want to do anything else but enjoy the sunshine.

Friday 30th March 2012
An appointment for Jenny for an eye check at Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, an appointment that had been confirmed verbally on the phone three weeks ago. Wrong, they (the hospital) had failed to tell us they had postponed it until August, good job it isn’t anything serious!

Saturday 31st March 2012
That was nice! Yesterday there was a young French couple using a small tent who are over in the UK on a cycling tour they were in the reception when Jenny was fetching our newspaper and they were wanting to purchase some washing powder. Unfortunately the “shop” didn’t have any and the site manager wasn’t that helpful suggesting they walk to Kingsbury to purchase a box, Jenny told them she had some so they walked back with her to the motorhome and she gave them her small tub which she takes to the laundry and they wanted to pay for it, obviously Jenny refused any payment for what could only have been half a cup of detergent and they returned the tub about thirty minutes later. When she opened the tub to do our own washing today, a fifty pence piece had been taped to the lid! This is the first morning we have woken up for some time without the sun shining and the weather forecast wasn’t brilliant for the rest of the day either. We have therefore stayed inside, Jenny reading and finishing off knitting a jumper for Sharon, I “attempted” to download the latest Garmin maps for the satnav, without success, I feel an Adobe Elements scenario coming on again! I also edited some photographs on Adobe and transferred some to our Facebook page, take a look.

Sunday 1st April 2012
Another cold start to the morning, but the sun soon warmed the air and it was again warm enough to have our breakfast in the awning. We once more relaxed for most of the day reading, knitting (Jen) etc. However after lunch we did go for a long walk along the canal towpath, eventually returning to the water park and visiting a number of bird hides, we didn’t see anything of any particular interest and so we continued along the network of pool side paths back to the camp site. Cxxp on the television tonight so we spent the rest of the evening listening to music.
Broomey Pool, Kingsbury Water Park.
Broomey Pool, Kingsbury Water Park.


Monday 2nd April 2012
Brother Brian and Sister-in-Law Linda came over to visit us this morning and we spent an enjoyable couple of hours chatting in the warmth of the awning. As soon as they had departed we took the awning down, rain is forecast for tomorrow and it is so much easier to dismantle it and put it away while it’s dry. we then had a short “excursion” to the storage unit to “take and fetch” a few items before doing a “big shop” at Asda, we have “gone off” Tesco, anyway there isn’t one close to the camp site and there are two Asda’s within five mile of Kingsbury. We need enough food to last for a couple of weeks, our next camp site at Condover is not close to a major supermarket, although we can get milk and bread etc. at the little store in Dorrington which is about 2½ mile away.