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Travelogue

1st January 2011 - 20th March 2011

Here, There and Everywhere.
England

* * * Happy New Year To You All * * *


Somerset
Saturday 1st January 2011

A great day with Rhiain and Ian at their home. Ian cooked a superb lunch. I had the idea (the programme “Come Dine With Me” was on the television) to give him marks out of ten, both Jenny & Rhiain gave in 10/10, I gave him 9/10 he lost one mark for the gravy and Rhiain made that! Rhiain has loaned us her car as she doesn’t need it at present so we were able use it to drive back to the camp site.

Sunday 2nd January 2011
A quiet day in the motorhome

Monday 3rd January 2011
A quiet day at Rhiain and Ian’s. We did however on the way to their house visit four camp sites close to Weston-Super-Mare, one of which we will use when we leave here on Thursday.

Tuesday 4th January 2011
Another nice day with Rhiain, Jenny and Rhiain went shopping and then in the afternoon Jenny went to the doctor’s with her for her “flu jab”, those of you who know Rhiain, despite her job as a Cabin Crew Manager (although grounded due to maternity at present) and having dealt with all sorts of incidents whilst flying, doesn’t “do” blood or jabs, Mum went for moral support!

Wednesday 5th January 2011
Despite the rain this morning I decided to wash the outside of the motorhome at least the salt and dirt is now washed off it. Jenny in the meantime stayed in the warm, she did however make some biscuits and bread pudding and also baked a ginger cake, so I mustn’t grumble!

Thursday 6th January 2011
Ebdon Bow Certificated Location, Wick St Lawrence, near Weston-Super-Mare. 51 22 69 N, 02 55 07 W, (19 Miles).

Well it was a waste of time washing the motorhome, 15 mile of motorway driving and it was as dirty as ever. Within ½ hour we were at Wick St Lawrence on a lovely little “5 van” camp site and only 3 mile from our daughter Rhiain’s house, why haven’t we found this site before? I blame Jenny for this oversight and she has been severely reprimanded! Once I recovered from the beating, I did admit that perhaps it was partly all my fault. Rhiain came and collected us and we spent the rest of afternoon and early evening with her, Ian arriving from Southampton at tea time, to be here to go with Rhiain for her first scan tomorrow (or was it because Jenny was making her “special” home made chicken curry for tea tonight)?

Avon
Friday 7th January 2011
Baltic Wharf Caravan Club Site, Bristol, (51 26 82 N, 02 36 89 W, (23 Miles).

David the owner allowed us to stay at Ebdon Bow until mid-afternoon so I stayed at the camp site while Jenny went with Rhiain and Ian to Weston Hospital for Rhiain’s first baby (already nicknamed Flump) scan. After two disappointing camp site’s it was a pleasure to stay at this one and we shall definitely return, although in the summer months when John’s “5 van” site is open we will probably stay in the paddock there, with the extra bonus of being able to fish in the pool. As soon as the happy three (and a bit) returned we drove straight to the water-side camp site right in the heart of Bristol’s beautifully re-developed dockland the first time we have managed to book this popular site.

Saturday 8th January 2011
A lovely walk this morning in the sunshine (although cold in the shade) along the “Floating Harbour” where in 1809 80 acres of tidal river was impounded to allow visiting ships to remain afloat all the time. Over the next two centuries the Harbour grew as a busy commercial port until it closed in 1975. Since then, it has been regenerated for leisure, commerce and residence. Crossing over Princes Street Bridge and along Broad Quay which coincidently both figured in a book I have just finished by “Tom Cain” called “Assassin” (a very good read incidentally). Walking past the ruins in Castle Gardens of St Peters Church gutted in the blitz of Bristol in 1940, the 20 minute walk found us at “The Mall” and “Cabot Circus”. Just in time for lunch at “Hot Jackets", Jenny enjoying baked potato with Cottage Cheese, whilst I had my potato with Chilli Con Carne. After lunch we spent the rest of the afternoon “window shopping” although we did look for a bra, but I couldn’t find one to fit me! After a short stop on the way back at a Tesco Express to purchase some meat (knowing that we would only be stopping at a Morrison’s Superstore on the way to Great Malvern (and we don’t buy meat from Morrison’s), we returned to Baltic Wharf, which conveniently has a private entrance from the “harbour walk” into the camp site. Good job we remembered the key!

Sunday 9th January 2011
After our usual Sunday indulgence of a cooked breakfast, we had a relaxed morning (actually reading yesterday’s newspaper) before I went for a long walk to take some photographs whilst Jenny remained in the motorhome knitting. Strange but good in this age of Health and Safety, pedestrians are allowed to walk through “The Underfall Yard” a historic working boatyard on Spike Island serving Bristol Harbour which takes its name from the underfall sluices close-by. The original construction was in the early 19th century with revisions by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the 1830s. Following restoration in the 1990s, this Victorian work yard is now a Scheduled Monument that includes several listed buildings and host a cooperative of boat builders. After taking a few photographs I continued a short distance to the end of the floating harbour and its confluence with the River Avon to get a photograph of the Clifton Suspension Bridge spanning the Clifton Gorge, probably from the very same position as a very old photograph in the Gents Amenity Block at the camp site, the bridge, gorge and river looking the same, however there certainly wasn’t a busy road close by and there certainly wasn’t a steam train travelling along the gorge bottom and an abundance of boats! Returning along the floating harbour I walked to Brunel’s SS Great Britain, situated in the harbour, unfortunately because of the buildings either side of this graet ship I was unable to take a photograph so continued as far as Princes Street Bridge before retracing my steps to the camp site. Jenny had got the tele’ already switched on for the Manchester United versus Liverpool cup match, pity I wasn’t back for the “one and only” early penalty goal! Another walk this afternoon (this time with Jenny) along the floating harbour through “The Underfall Yard” to the River Avon.

Worcestershire
Monday 10th January 2011
Blackmore Camping and Caravan Club Site, near Great Malvern, 52 05 83 N, 02 16 50 W, (69 Miles).

An enjoyable stay at the Baltic Wharf site, we were pleasantly surprised how quiet the site was especially with it’s close proximity to the centre of Bristol and there is so much that can be seen and done, one we will definitely return to at a later date. Just two stops on our way to Great Malvern both in Tewkesbury firstly at the BP station to top up with LPG although we only needed to fill up with 8.40 litres (the cylinders hold 11 litres each), on the downside the cost has gone up from .58 pence per litre to .76 pence per litre since our last visit here in September 2009, a reflection of the increasing cost of fuel over the last few months. Morrisons was our other stop to buy some grocery’s. When we arrived at Blackmore we had a warm welcome from Jo and Alan the site managers who we have seen at both Kingsbury Water Park and on our previous visit here in February last year, amazingly Alan remembered the pitch we had stayed on before and so was able put us on the same one, flat, close to the amenities (without being on top of them), internet connection and a decent TV signal, perfect!

Tuesday 11th January 2011
A relaxed day. Jenny working on all our on-line banking and other paperwork to get it up to date and some “form-filling” for me after finally our post “caught” up with us, What a postal service, 14 days for 1st class post from Weston Super Mare to Lichfield, 11 days for it to go in the opposite direction and then finally just 1 day from Weston-Super-Mare to Great Malvern, pathetic!

Wednesday 12th January 2011 – Friday 14th January 2011
3 relaxed days.

Saturday 15th January 2011 – Sunday 16th January 2011
Another 2 very busy days! Reading, knitting (not me) listening to music, watching the television and working on some photographs on the laptop. Only venturing out to walk to the Post Office in Hanley Swan to post a letter. Lazy pair!

Warwickshire
Monday 17th January 2011
Kingsbury Camping & Caravan Club, Kingsbury, 52 34 10 N, 01 42 24 W, (59 Miles).

After our usual methodical routine of preparing the motorhome for leaving we left Blackmore for the drive along the M5 & M42 to Kingsbury. Extremely slow journey as there had been an accident near Droitwich which delayed us somewhat. Before we got to the camp site we decided to do some shopping at the Asda in Minworth, having found that when we went there during the Christmas holiday there was ample space for us to park the motorhome, plus, they have “Robert’s” bread, to which there was an added bonus it was cheaper than “Warburton’s”. It was mid-afternoon therefore when we arrived at the Kingsbury water park camp site, we did manage though to get the last “hardstanding” pitch, which is always better as we don’t take any mud or dirt into the motorhome, although we always put some of our rubber mats out anyway. Jenny caught up with some washing and ironing whilst I cleaned the mud off the sides of the motorhome, always a job to do when we arrive here as the narrow lane to the site is always so wet and muddy.

Tuesday 18th January 2011
Found out yesterday that they are stopping the “7 for 5” nights (stay for seven nights pay for five) at Kingsbury and Conkers this year, cannot see the logic of it I would have thought the Club (Camping & Caravan) would have wanted all the pitches filled at this time of the year, at present there are only 10 units on site and there are 180 pitches, hardly full, think I feel a complaining email coming on! No newspaper service either, the local newsagents not delivering at present because of the small number of people on site, we therefore decided walk to the village for a newspaper which was very pleasant in the sunshine although it was quite cold. We disturbed an Egret (didn’t have chance to see which species, but probably a “Little") on one of the “overflow” pools as we walked along, nice to see as there can’t be that many this far North in the UK.

Wednesday 19th January 2011
* * * A Very Happy Birthday to Jenny, My Wondeful Wife * * *

A very cold day, we only walked as far as the newsagents in Kingsbury before returning to the warmth of the motorhome and spent a relaxed day celebrating very quietly Jenny’s Birthday. My brother Brian and his wife Linda come over to visit us early evening and we spent a pleasant evening chatting to them. Strange neither Brian or I mentioning our respective football teams, Birmingham City and Aston Villa, we are both too embarrassed with their lowly positions in the Premier League.

Thursday 20th January
Another quiet day.

Staffordshire
Friday 21st January 2011.
Cathedral Grange Touring Caravan Park, Lichfield, 52 41 83 N, 01 50 52 W, (21 Miles).

A top up at the Asda Supermarket at Minworth this morning, easy then just to drive up the Sutton Coldfield by-pass road towards Lichfield. No room on the hardstanding so we have pitched on the “tarmac” near the grass sites on the top field, the plus we have great views over towards Derbyshire, we are also near the small toilet block, although we normally use our own facilities while we are here. We also need to remember that the electricity supply is not 16 amp, we always manage to “trip” the switch and have to reset it at the EHU each time we switch the electric kettle on and forget to switch the electric heating down. Michael, Sharon and Charlie came over in the evening after Michael had finished work for a short time, gosh, our grandson is growing up!

Saturday 22nd January 2011
Walked down to Lichfield City centre this morning for a few bits and pieces, our library books were also due for return so we “dropped” them in at the same time. The bus stop is only a 5 minute walk away but we decided to enjoy the 35 minute walk instead, we returned through all “the passages” to the camp site past Stowe Pool and the Cathedral, amazing for the first time in many years there is no scaffolding “holding it up”, it looks much better, so I may walk down if it looks like there will be a decent sunset and take a photograph of the Cathedral, sunset and Minster Pool.

Sunday 23rd January 2011
A peaceful day today. Jenny was picked up by Michael and she spent the day with Sharon & Charlie. I had time to myself reading, listening to music and working on some photographs. The peace was shattered when she returned, I did walk to meet her at the bus stop though, so I guess I missed her really!

Monday 24th January 2011
* * * A big “Landmark” today I am officially an OAP * * *

The day started very promising, because of my age I was allowed to stay in bed a little longer and Jenny made me a cup of tea! Actually Jenny had a “fasting” blood test appointment at 8:30 am, so she was up first, showered and then walked to the Medical Centre and I stayed in bed. Pity she forgot to switch the water heater back on after drying her hair, I had to wait 15 minutes to make sure the water was hot enough for a shower. One day we will run the hot water until it runs cold, just to see how long a shower we can have, perhaps 2 minutes for Jenny and 10 minutes for me, whoops, no, I’ll go first and then the cold water wont effect me! Reminds me of the camp site in the Australian outback that had showers that were heated by solar, not solar panels generating electricity, solar, as in, the sun warmed (and I use the word “warmed” loosely) the fresh (rain) water tank in the roof! Whilst Jenny was away I topped up the fresh water tank with 40 litres of water, using the 10 litre water container instead of our usual way with the water hose as we are too far away from the tap, we estimate we only use about 25 litres a day which includes all our (many) drinks, washing up, showers, washing, etc and toilet flush. A walk into Lichfield found us on the 3:13 pm train to Sutton Coldfield, then a further walk to Good Hope Hospital for Jenny’s appointment at 3:55 pm at the eye clinic. We didn’t get back to Lichfield until 6:15 pm and decided to walk back to the camp site. On the way we passed the Raj Duth our favourite Indian restaurant, except we didn’t pass it, we went inside, after all it is my Birthday and we hadn’t spoken to Mr Hussein the owner for ages! After a delicious meal, Somosas followed by Chicken & Mushroom Biriani for Jenny and Sheesh Kebab and then Clay Oven Murgi Birani for me, we eventually walked back to the camp site, big mistake, we should have taken the bus or hired a taxi, we were both exhausted when we arrived back, Jenny today has walked to Lichfield and back twice, plus the walk to the hospital, I think she has had plenty of exercise today.

Tuesday 25th January 2011
After all the exercise yesterday we decided to catch the bus for our Hygienist appointments at the Dentist. Unfortunately it was 15 minutes late arriving from Stafford so Jenny had to ring Heidi the receptionist to tell her we would be a little late, luckily the Hygienist didn’t have other appointments so she waited for us to arrive. Teeth all polished and clean we caught the bus back to the camp site. The young Morris family arrived at lunch time, (Michael must have smelt the scones being baked in the oven) and we chatted for a couple of hours before they left for home. Michael’s first day off for some time so I guess he had some chores to catch up with!

Wednesday 26th January 2011
Another walk to Lichfield this morning for my annual review of my medication at the Medical Centre, Clare (Dr Hutchings) was pleased to see me and said “she had not seen me for a long time”, I said, “well that's good isn’t it?” anyway, she confirmed I was still breathing and let me off with a stern warning to loose more weight! I then waited for Jenny to finish her check up, (they won’t let us go in together because of the “chaos ” we normally cause, bit like a “Laurel and Hardy” cartoon). We caught the local bus back (on time) and had a short walk back from the bus stop to the camp site. Already this morning we had prepared for moving so we only needed to disconnect the power, turn off the gas and store the ramps and we were soon on our way. First stop was at the storage unit, leaving the original motorhome carpets there (having fitted carpet tiles throughout the motorhome in September) and a few other not needed items, we shall have to visit again in February/March to collect some “summer” bits and pieces (like the BBQ and outdoor cooking unit), hopefully we will have full use of them again this year. Asda was our next stop (much easier to park at than Tesco in Lichfield) and we topped up with provisions for the next few days, we also filled with diesel (up 3p per litre since we last bought on the 29th December). We are stopping here until Sunday, when I need to visit Paul the hearing-aid specialist at Specsavers in Lichfield, Jenny still complaining that I don’t hear her when she tells me to “wash up, make a cup of tea, prepare dinner, do the ironing and put the seat down on the toilet”!

Warwickshire
Thursday 27th January 2011- Saturday 29th January 2011
Kingsbury Camping & Caravan Club, Kingsbury, 52 34 10 N, 01 42 24 W, (16 Miles).

3 quiet days.

Staffordshire
Sunday 30th January 2011
Cathedral Grange Touring Caravan Park, Lichfield, 52 41 83 N, 01 50 52 W, (17 Miles).

Once again at Lichfield. We left Kingsbury mid-morning and drove directly to the camp site, in plenty of time for my 1:00 pm appointment at Specsavers to see Paul the hearing –aid specialist. In time also when we arrived back to watch the football on television. That reminds me! I stayed up last night to watch Aston Villa v Blackburn Rovers on the ITV cup special, it started at 10:45 pm and it wasn’t until 12:08 when the Villa match came on, THEN, they only showed the goals, I went to bed miffed!

Monday 31st January 2011
Red Lion Farm Caravan Site, Haughton, Nr Stafford, 52 46 66 N, 02 12 12 W (26 Miles).
That worked well! Jenny and I got ready to leave the camp site, Jenny then walked down to the Medical Centre for her last check-up, whilst I completed the last of the “tidying up”, then Jenny walked over to Tesco to get the grocery’s for the next week and then rang me when she had finished. I drove down to the Tesco car park, collected her and we were on our way. We have found a camp site which was one of the Camping Clubs “5 van” sites last year but have expanded this year to being an independent site with 12 spaces. It is a working farm with a tea-room, “animal farm” complete with 4 Alpacas, some unusual types of cattle and Guinea Fowl and most important of all it also makes it’s own Jersey Ice Cream. I feel a tasting coming on!

Tuesday 1st February 2011
Conveniently the bus stop for the bus to Stafford is in the village centre only a 5 minute walk from the camp site, so taking advantage of our free passes we caught the 11:48 am No481 bus to Stafford which is approximately 5 mile away. The reason for a visit was to do some work on both our “family trees” at the records office. Jenny was quite successful with finding some of the records she wanted, unfortunately I drew a blank, I am looking for information on my Great, Great, Grandfather Mordecai Morris who was born in Essington about 1792, so it is not easy. After a cup of coffee at Café Nero, where it was nice to see once again one of the girls we used to see in the Café Nero in Lichfield which we used to visit frequently in 2007, we got on the bus back to Haughton, rather confusing because this was the No482 which goes around the villages instead of direct to Haughton along the main road. We would have had to wait a further 30 minutes for the more direct bus so an extra 20 minutes on the longer route didn’t matter. The bus driver even said he would be passing the camp site when he returned “out of service” and would drop us off, which was a nice thought, but the walk from the village was easy.

Wednesday 2nd February 2011
Contrast the helpful and cheerful bus driver we had yesterday with the miserable old sod we had this morning, who just “grunted” something to Jenny as her pass was scanned. We got our own back though, I “accidentally” (no, really, honest) put my driving licence on the scanner and obviously the machine refused to produce a ticket! That delayed him while I got my bus pass out, didn’t help that both Jenny and I (and some passengers) couldn’t stop laughing. Must have a thing about passes this morning as we forgot our passes for the visit to the records office, no dramas, we were just given day passes. Jenny had ordered some documents to look at so as soon as she got the information she required we decided to just do some “window shopping” in the town, we did forsake our good eating regime (its not a diet) by having a “MacDonald’s Big Mac” for our lunch before catching the bus back to Haughton, or is it Houghton? Which is the way the bus time tables spell it.

Thursday 3rd February 2011
After a couple of days in Stafford decided to-day to “catch up” with emails, banking and Jenny’s family tree data. We did indulge this afternoon, we walked over to the tea-room and bought some Coffee/Tia Maria Ice Cream very yummy! We also purchased some frozen “Summer Fruits”, Jenny will make a crumble with those this evening, I insist!

Friday 4th February 2011
Blackshaw Moor Camping & Caravan Club Site, near Leek. 53 07 74 N, 01 59 67 W, (31 Miles).
An easy drive to Leek this morning, we couldn’t arrive until 12 noon so we took our time, filling up with fresh water and emptying both the grey and black waste etc, before leaving Red Lion Farm, deciding that the short distance we will travel will make little or no difference to the fuel consumption with the extra 90 litres of water onboard, a factor to consider with a motorhome.

Saturday 5th February 2011– Sunday 6th February 2011
Two really horrible days weather-wise, so we have stayed in the motorhome, reading, listening to music and watching television.

Monday 7th February 2011
Although still very windy we decided today to go to Leek, (we need some milk). We were going to walk which would have taken about 40 minutes, however, by the time we got ourselves “organised” it was almost 12 o’ clock, so as the “Buxton Flyer” was due at 12:25 pm we decided to walk to the bus stop which is about 15 minutes walk (down wind) and catch the bus, especially as the high wind would have been direct in our faces (i.e. upwind), if we had walked into Leek. After a leisurely stroll around the town, we found a nice Fish n’ Chip restaurant in the market square and had a delicious Haddock, Chips and a shared portion of Mushy peas! After a visit to Aldi for Milk, Bread & Tomatoes we waited for the No118 “Flyer” back to the campsite. It had started to rain, so I suggested that Jenny use her female charm on the bus driver by asking if he would stop at the bus stop “nearest” the camp site (which we already knew was at least 15 minutes away from the site). It worked! The cheerful driver stopped the bus right at the camp site entrance and even told us that in future always wait for the bus and “flag it down” in the lay-by almost opposite the site, instead of walking to the official stop.

Tuesday 8th February 2011
After a very wet night with the rain “pounding” on the roof we woke up to a much better day, so we thought we would have a nice walk to Tittesworth Reservoir. The public footpath “The Chernet Way” runs adjacent to the edge of the camp site so we only had to walk to the entrance to the camp site before joining the track. However, we didn’t realise just how wet the path would be and had to carefully find “dryer” areas to walk on even when climbing the many stiles. We eventually arrived at the tarmac lane close to the reservoir, although once again we diverted to follow the gravel path along the side the river to the waters edge and eventually to Tittesworth Visitor Centre. The visitor centre has a very good restaurant “ The Room with a View”, very true as the tables all look out on a superb view along the length of the reservoir and we enjoyed a Tuna Mayonnaise Baked Potatoes with Salad. Not wishing to walk the same way back to the camp site through the very wet fields we walked back along the road, not as picturesque, but much easier.

Wednesday 9th February 2011
Well now I am starting to feel old(er), after receiving all the details of my OLD AGE Pension(s) we sat down this morning and went through all our incomes and expenditure for the next 12 months. It all came out very well and Jenny say’s I can have a 25% increase in my pocket money per week, I now receive £1.25!

Thursday 10th February 2011
I was told yesterday that it is possible to walk to Leek along tracks rather than the main road. Once again requiring milk (it doesn’t go far when we have porridge each day) we thought we would give the “pretty” way a try. After studying the Ordnance Survey Map, which Jenny needed to repair after my terrible effort to re-fold it, we planned our route and although like Tuesday (after last nights rain) the paths were very wet and muddy we really enjoyed our walk across the fields to the town. It was a longer walk than we thought so after stopping at a charity shop to donate some paper-back books we had both read and before buying our grocery’s we had lunch at a “Subway”. We walked back along the main road to the camp site as we wanted to look at the small camp site we have booked for Friday and Saturday night which was on our way. More reasons for this in the next two days.

Friday 11th February 2011
Roche House Farm Certificated Location. Leek Edge Farm Certificated Site, Leek, 53 06 77 N, 02 00 13 W, (1.6 Miles).

Well that was really funny! Started to type the date above and we decided we were at the wrong camp site, (stop laughing). I’d better explain. Wednesday we spent some time looking at both The Caravan Club and The Camping and Caravan Club books. Whilst Jenny was browsing both books and telling me the camp sites in the close vicinity I was looking at “Google Earth”, both the post code and the location of the “Moss Rose Inn” close-by incorrectly (try it yourself ST13 8TG), showed the camp site at the cemetery about ½ mile along the road (OK for an extended long stay but obviously not just for 2 nights). Anyway, I (thought) I had spotted the proper location and Jenny rang the site to book and the lady told her “they had a vacancy and just pitch when we arrived”. As you can see from yesterday’s ramblings we had (we thought) visited the camp site when we walked back from Leek. Lunchtime we left Blackshaw, and drove straight to the camp site and as we were told found a pitch and settled in. (we even walked to the Co-operative supermarket in Leek for a few bits and pieces). It was only late afternoon when I looked in the Camping and Caravan book for the exact name of the site that both the amenities listed and directions didn’t add up, we turned off the main road and turned right into the camp site and the directions specifically said left?????? We checked both books, there are 2 campsites within 100 yards of each other, each affiliated to the two different clubs. Whoops! I decided to walk down the lane to investigate and sure enough there was the camp site we should have been at. We decided to ring the camp site we were on as the owners aren’t on site (still with me?) and just explain what had happened and stay there, unfortunately they were already fully booked for the weekend so we have had to move to our original booked site. Jenny went up to book us in (I was to embarrassed) and the man explained that it often happens and on occasions people have set up there caravan with awning, etc and have had to pack everything away and move when the people correctly booked eventually arrive. Here we are now safely ensconced at Leek Edge Farm, it’s a shame the view isn’t as good of the “Peak Parks Moorland” as at the other one and it is an extra £2 a night (although this one has full amenities), however we are only here for 2 nights, then we return to Blackshaw, if we can find it!

Saturday 12th February 2011
Fish Night at the “Moss Rose Inn” last night, which is conveniently placed just 100 metres from the camp site, it was literally walking out of the farm drive and walking into the pub. We did enjoy the Fish ‘n’ Chips with Peas (Garden for Jen, Mushy for me), it was made better still by a music channel “Vintage TV” that was on the Television, brilliant music from the 60’s, “The Rolling Stones” “Beach Boys” “Hermans Hermits” and “Roy Orbison” to name just four, could have stayed there till closing time! Had a lazy day today, Jenny busy knitting whilst I read and we listened to the radio. Back to Blackshaw Camping and Caravan Club to-morrow. The reason we left for just 2 nights and then returned was because of their “Stay Longer for Less” special offer. We want to stay in the Staffordshire Peaks until next Sunday, so we took advantage of “7 for 5” ie. pay for 5 nights and stay for 7, an excellent money saver, however we are not allowed to stay for longer unless paying the full rate, so, we have moved for 2 nights (actually it only need to be 24 hours) and will return tomorrow for another “7 for 5”, clever eh!

Sunday 13th February 2011
Blackshaw Moor Camping & Caravan Club Site, near Leek. 53 07 77 N, 01 59 67 W, (3 Miles).

Well here we are back at Blackshaw Moor, earlier in the day than planned. We were hoping to leave the camp site just down the road fairly early and spend most of the day on “The Roaches”, however, the weather again has thrown a spanner in the works, it is miserable and not the sort of day we enjoy for walking. Instead we left Leek Edge Farm and drove to the Co-operative supermarket on the outskirts of Leek to purchase enough fruit and veg’ to last this week, the other bits and piece’s (bread & milk) we can pick up when we venture out during the next 7 days. Timed our arrival at Blackshaw just right, we arrived at 12 noon, deciding to site ourselves on a different pitch than last week, a more open site with a view straight out of the front windscreen to “The Roaches” about 2 miles away. At least when it rains (like now) the rain will be rhythmic unlike the “Chinese water torture” when the water gets blown off the tree branches as and when the wind decides! Hope nobody looks to closely in the dust bins tomorrow, tonight we finished the remains of bottles of Brandy, Ginger Wine and Red Wine, there was only approximately 1" remaining in each, honest.

Monday 14th February 2011
Woke during the night to hear the sound of a Tawny Owl, remarkably we seem to have been lucky enough to hear one on almost every camp site we have visited over the last few weeks. Today we have seen a Greater-spotted Woodpecker and also was able to watch a Treecreepers progress in a series of spasmodic jerks up the trunk of a pine just 2 yards from the motorhome, shame the day was to dark to get a decent photograph of it, but I will try during the rest of our stay. We are relaxing today, the weather is very undecided, rain, hail, sun and back to rain all in the space of 5 minutes.

Tuesday 15th February 2011
A relaxed day, if you can call filling in forms to the Inland Revenue and phoning them to verify certain details, good job I’ve got an ex payroll clerk and accountant to help me, thanks Jen!

Wednesday 16th February 2011
A better day today weather wise, or at least it was when we decided to walk to the Visitor Centre at Tittesworth Reservoir for lunch, (it was decidedly colder when we walked back). We did however enjoy the “Spud Special” Thai Chicken with a side salad before walking back to the camp site. Once again after the heavy rain last night we decided to walk along the lanes instead of over the fields, pity as obviously “the field” way is much prettier.

Thursday 17th February 2011
A lazy day!

Friday 18th February 2011
We needed milk (again), having porridge each day means we use much more than normal, not wanting to use our emergency rations (Tesco powdered, ugh) a walk to Leek was inevitable, although of course we could have caught the “Buxton Flyer”, we decided we needed the exercise. It also gave us the opportunity to visit Leek Edge Farm the camp site we stayed at last week end. Somebody (well I actually got the blame) left one of knives at the dishwashing facilities at the amenities block, luckily (for me) it was still there, so we are back to our full complement of six (for now). Arriving at the town centre near lunchtime we chose to visit the nice “Fish & Chip” café in the market square, to have lunch, on this occasion having the lunchtime “special” Fish, Chips, Mushy Peas, Bread and mug of Tea all for a total price of £9.80, as daughter Rhiain would say, “bargin”, (said as spelt). After once again strolling around the interesting town of Leek, we walked to the bus station for the bus to the camp site (the walk in being enough for the day), the driver being the same one as last week, very kindly dropped us off at the entrance to the camp site.

Saturday 19th February 2011
It’s snowed! Yes, when we woke up this morning there was snow on “the Roaches” and a thin layer over the camp site. The road between Leek and Buxton is only passable with care, a caravanner who arrived lunchtime said there was 3" near Ashbourne. Another “sort out” today of the bits and pieces we are leaving at the storage unit on Monday. Spent the rest of the very cold day watching the cup match on the television (Jenny to), reading and listening to the radio.

Sunday 20th February 2011
Cathedral Grange Touring Caravan Park, Lichfield, 52 41 83 N, 01 50 52 W, (40 Miles).
A short drive to Lichfield along a road we have driven many times before. We sighted ourselves in our usual pitch on the top part of the camp site as once again the hardstanding sites we used to use were all full, at least from here we have a great uninterrupted view of Staffordshire and Derbyshire. Forgot to stop for bread so I walked to the Co-operative store along Eastern Avenue for a loaf, cheated on the way back and took a shortcut over the Rugby, Hockey and Cricket pitches, don’t know why I didn’t think of it on the way!

Monday 21st February 2011
Up early today to drive to Tamworth to take the Motorhome for its “van” service at Norris Brothers the Fiat dealer, it only needs the shorter service as it as still only done just over 8,500 mile since March 2009. After booking in at reception we walked the short distance to Tamworth Town centre did some shopping, before going to the coffee shop in the precinct for a cuppa. We were going to stay there until the motorhome was ready, however, its half-term and the “kids” were extremely noisy, (I needed to concentrate on the football results) so we decided to retreat to the local library where Jenny read her own book whilst I perused some travel and photography books. Lunch beckoned so we decided on a McDonalds “Big Mac” (bang goes my diet), so walked once again back towards the precinct. Our timing was perfect, we had just finished when Rachel rang from Norris Brothers to tell us the motorhome was ready for collection so we finished our tea’s (don’t have Cola, too much ice) and made our way back to the garage. After a short chat with Richard and Paul (who used to be good customers in my Ford days) we collected the keys and drove to Anker Storage. Jenny (in her usual organised way) had made a list of what we were leaving and collecting, so in went heavy walking jackets and boots, umbrella, winter clothes, etc. Out came the BBQ, windbreak, camp kitchen, and stove for some el fresco cooking and dining for this summer. Optimistic or what?

Tuesday 22nd February 2011
With a promise of a “top up” of fuel and a bag of Jam Donuts, Michael arrived a 8:00 am to leave his car for us to use for the day. Also bringing the Camping Gas cylinder which we are unable to keep in the unit because of fire regulations at the storage unit, plus our reclining picnic chairs which we had also left at his house, (which he very reluctantly returned)! Plus, the baby cradle which Michael and Sharon are giving to Rhiain and we are delivering to Weston-Super-Mare for her, (carriage charge?). We drove over to Great Barr to spend the morning visiting my brother Brian, leaving after lunch to keep an appointment at the Greenhill Health Centre to have my blood pressure checked. While I waited impatiently in the waiting room (with blood pressure slowly rising), Jenny started a “big shop” at Tesco which is very conveniently located just opposite the health centre. After my “check up” I joined Jenny to complete the shopping then we drove back to the camp site. After a sort out of all our food supplies, It was time to return Michael’s car to him at work and after he drove me back to the motorhome he stopped for a cup of tea before returning home. We had a phone call from him shortly afterwards asking if we had a mouse in the motorhome, evidently there were 2 Jam Donuts missing out of the bag, hungry mice??????

Warwickshire
Wednesday 23rd February 2011
Kingsbury Water Park Camping and Caravan Club Site, Kingsbury, 52 34 10 N, 01 42 24 W, (40 Miles).

Our destination this morning was the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) near Birmingham to visit the Boat and Caravan Show. Perfect timing, we parked the motorhome, caught the shuttle bus from the car park, Jenny purchased the tickets, while I took our jackets to the cloakroom and as we approached the entrance doors they had just opened. We/Jenny was once again organised with a list of items we wanted to look at, actually I was annoyed when I noticed the only item I had added to the list had been crossed off, but I guess a £300,000 motor yacht was not one of her priorities! After an interesting chat with the helpful man on the Truma stand (we needed to fully understand an issue with our heating/hot water system) we visited Andy from West Country Motorhomes who we bought our motorhome from on the Autocruise stand. We made a couple of purchases a bag for our awning poles and a ACSI card for European Camp sites (more at a (much) later date), picked up a mountain of catalogues, brochures etc on travelling abroad and ordered a Raskelf mattress topper for our bed, which we are having delivered to Rhiain’s. After lunch and further “trek’s” around the 5 halls and (as usual) seeking out free tastings of food and wine we made our way back to the car park and thence to our overnight stop at Kingsbury Water Park. Once again we looked at the new motorhomes at the show and were so pleased that we still haven’t seen anything which we have liked better than our own Autocruise Starblazer. It just goes to show that the careful deliberations we made over 3 years prior to ordering our motorhome were the correct ones.

Worcestershire
Thursday 24th February 2011
Walsgrove Farm Certificated Location, near Pershore, 52 09 71 N, 02 07 47 W, (44 Miles).

Only about a hours drive along the motorway today, so we didn’t rush off this morning from Kingsbury. Very useful sometimes to look on “Google Earth” to view the location of a particular place and with “street view” we were easily able to recognise the exact place to turn into the entrance to the camp site. I had already had an email from Margaret the owner to tell us that she would not be there on our arrival, however David a long term camper on the site was expecting us and showed us where to pitch and explained where the amenities were. We are parked on hardstanding surrounded by a Plum Orchard (pity it's not September) and we should be very comfortable here for 4 days.

Friday 25th February 2011
A very wet day, we had planned to have a walk along the lane to the village, however, have decided instead to stay in the motorhome and digest all the brochures we collected from the show on Wednesday. David very kindly bought us a Daily Mail back when he went out so we did also read that, annoyed with myself that I failed to complete the crossword with just one clue, which Jenny, (as usual) got straight away, bloody know all!

Saturday 26th February 2011
Gosh it started to rain again last night early evening and it was still raining heavy when we got up this morning. It did stop after breakfast, which gave me the opportunity to give the motorhome a good wash, a job that I have been putting off for a few days, either because of our location (not allowed to wash a vehicle on a club site) or the weather. At least I managed to wash and dry it and clean the windows before once again it started to rain. Again, for the rest of the day we remained in the motorhome, we have had heavy rain showers, hail and thunder, plus a very nice rainbow, which I did venture out to take a photograph of, hopefully tomorrow it will be dry enough to go for a walk. One of Jenny’s home-made curry’s tonight, delicious!

Sunday 27th February 2011
A very relaxing morning , needed all my stamina and nerve to watch the Carling Cup match this afternoon. Well done Birmingham City, my brother Brian had a great morning in London before going to Wembley this afternoon. After watching Birmingham since……(well a very long time), I was really pleased for him that they have finally won a cup. Bet Dad was watching from the terraces in heaven as well and cheering them on! Forgot to mention we saw a “covey” (group) of Red-legged Partridge foraging around the Plum Trees yesterday, the first time we have seen this bird, despite a reported 72,000-200,000 being resident in the UK. A very pretty game bird.

Monday 28th February 2011
* * * A Very Happy Birthday to our son Michael, Lots of Love, XX * * *

Blackmore Camping and Caravan Club Site, Great Malvern, 52 05 82 N, 02 16 52 W, (15 Miles).

Took our time this morning preparing to leave Walsgrove Farm, which was a nice quiet “5 van” site which I am sure we will return to in the future, hopefully when the weather is better and the Plums are in season! As we had a “5p off” Tesco fuel voucher from our “big shop” at Lichfield and the Superstore at Worcester was only about 2 mile away from our normal route to Great Malvern , we decided to “top up” with diesel, well worth it, a savings of £2.30 on 46 litres. We also “popped in” the store for fresh fruit and milk before continuing our short journey to the camp site arriving at precisely 12 noon and spent the rest of the day relaxing, our normal “habit” on our first days arrival at a new camp site, despite only driving 15 miles!

Tuesday 1st March 2011
Well the weather forecast for this next week is not looking great and we have promised ourselves some walking. We did walk up to the pleasant village of Hanley Swan (one pub, one butchers and post office/village store) with its picturesque duck pond in the village centre to get the Road Fund Licence for the motorhome.

Wednesday 2nd March 2011
We decided this morning to catch the 11:19 am No363 bus to Great Malvern. One of the reasons we like this location is that the bus stop to either Worcester or Great Malvern, is just outside the camp site entrance and therefore very convenient for both towns (or in Worcester’s case a city), strange that at Kingsbury’s Water Park, so near large towns and cities, the nearest bus stop is at least a 40 minute walk away. It reminded us of our “mystery tour” in Cornwall when we could still see the camp site we had left from in the distance and we had been on the bus for 30 minutes! Great Malvern is about 5½ Miles from the Blackmore Campsite and after driving to Upton-on-Severn, Welland, Little Malvern, Malvern Wells, Malvern Hills, Tiny Malvern, Malvern-on-sea and all the other Malvern’s you could think of (or make up) we eventually arrived about 25 miles and 30 minutes later at Great Malvern. Well in fact I tell a fib, cos, actually we, (well I, got up from my seat first and Jenny followed) got off the bus at Barnards Cross (well I saw and smelt a “Subway” Sandwich Bar and thought we had arrived at the town centre). We then had to ask where the town centre was, when I realised 6 shops, a pub, garage and public convenience, didn’t exactly constitute a town centre. I blamed Jenny. If she had looked at the bus time-table properly she would have realised that we still had 6 minutes on the bus before the designated arrival time. Instead we had a 20 minute walk all uphill (because Great Malvern is all uphill) before reaching the town centre proper. We had a good browse around the town, even finding the perpetual running fountain, from which the famous Malvern Water runs, it permeates through the ground to the fountain from the hills above the town and is said to cure coughs, colds, swine flu and every other type of ailment people have, I just needed to wash my socks! It was time for lunch and we must say that Great Malvern isn’t the easiest place to find a place for lunch (not at the cheap prices we want to pay anyway). The one place we fancied people were queuing for a table, I guess in the summer the queue will be down the stairs and out into the street. We did eventually find “Rebecca’s Range” a small clean café down a side street and enjoyed Baked Spud with Coronation Chicken and a side salad. Suitably nourished it was time for the bus back to Blackmore, good timing as we only had to wait 10 minutes at the bus stop outside the Foley Arms. Great bus driver, interested to know where we were going and whether we were enjoying our stay and saying “just bang the bell when you want to get off”, he also amused us with his comments on other drivers as he negotiated the narrow streets through the outskirts of the town. A regular passenger in the seat in front of us heard us talking about him and said, laughingly, “don’t come at Christmas, he spends all of the journey singing carols”!

Thursday 3rd March 2011
A day for doing some tasks inside and outside the motorhome today. Whilst Jenny cleaned the bedroom and kitchen area, I concentrated on the outside, using the ladder to get on the roof to clean the sky-lights and remove the leaves, twigs and seeds that had managed to “glue” themselves to the roof when we had the high winds and heavy rain in Derbyshire. Then Jenny cleaned the cab area of the motorhome and inside doors while I cleaned the same outside, definitely going to wait to “polish” until warmer weather. Don’t very often talk about what we watch on television, but we have really enjoyed the programme about Spices with Kate Humble, we now know where the Nutmeg stone comes from and also Cinnamon Sticks. We were also interested in a programme last Friday with Griff Rhys Jones on the hidden treasures of the Torres Strait Islanders a group of islands above Australia which we were lucky enough to visit on our Cape York trip in 2008.

Friday 4th March 2011
We caught the bus this morning in the opposite direction to Wednesday our destination today being the city of Worcester. We last visited last February and as we remember it was very cold, despite another year of global warming, it hasn’t changed, its still cold and we walked along pedestrianised high street of Worcester on the “sunny” side. We (as Wednesday) just window shopped although this time we did make a few purchases an iTunes voucher and a 5 pack of M&S underpants (should last me another 10 years), both (of course) for me. We were hoping to find a Fish n’ Chip restaurant for lunch but despite walking up and down the high street and along the many side streets we were unable to find one, ending up (again) at McDonalds, (I know, bang goes our healthy eating regime). Murphy’s Law, as we returned to the bus station, which is very well placed adjacent to a shopping precinct we found a Fish n’ Chip restaurant, bother!

Saturday 5th March 2011 – Sunday 6th March 2011
Two relaxed and lazy days.

Somerset
Monday 7th March 2011
At Rhiain’s, Weston-Super-Mare, (84 Miles).

We didn’t need to rush off from the campsite this morning, in fact I would have had time to read the Daily Mail if Jenny had remembered that she should have prior ordered it from camp reception yesterday! I did make arrangements with Jo the campsite manager to extend our leaving time by 2 hours (normal departure is before 12 noon). We arranged to meet Rhiain and Ian in a lay-by close to where they live to transfer our requirements for the next few days, including a babies crib which Michael and Sharon have given them for the happy event in July. We then continued to West Country Motorhomes to leave the motorhome for it’s habitation check and service, plus, a number of other minor issues we need them to attend to. After booking in we collected our Skoda courtesy car and drove the short distance to Rhiain’s were Ian has promised to cook his speciality home-made Chicken Tikka Curry, wonder if it will be as good as Jenny’s? Had a fantastic experience to-night, Rhiain and Ian have bought a “Fetal Doppler”, an instrument on which you can hear a babies heartbeat and we were able to hear our little granddaughter’s (yes, 80% certain the baby is a girl) heart beating in Rhiain’s tummy!

Tuesday 8th March 2011
A quiet day, however we did go out with Rhiain and Ian to Weston-Super-Mare to visit a Pram Shop. They wanted my “expert” opinion on a pram that they were interested in. Yep, the one we saw “ticked” all the boxes, 4 wheels, a part for the baby to lie in and a handles for Grandma to push it with! Certainly it looked more comfortable than the one I remember being in after I was born!

Wednesday 9th March 2011
Another relaxed day, Rhiain came home lunch time, she is working one day a week at Thomas Cook Travel as she is not allowed to fly whilst expecting. I nearly wet myself when she told us she had gone to work with odd shoes on. A pregnancy thing?

Thursday 10th March 2011
Mulberry House Certificated Location, Burnham-On-Sea, 51 14 13 N, 02 57 52, (6 Miles).
West Country Motorhomes rang at lunchtime to inform us that the motorhome was ready for collection. Jenny presuming (rightly) that it would be ready to-day had already got all our “bits and pieces” ready so after saying our good-bye’s to Rhiain and Ian we drove (via Tesco) to Lower Weare and after “Fran” had gone through the habitation checks with us we were soon on our way. We almost had a similar scenario to our mix up with camp site in Staffordshire in February. Jenny had attempted to ring a camp site to see if they had a vacancy, however despite two attempts the phone was engaged so Jenny left a message. We decided to drive to the camp site anyway, having decided to drive a different way than Betty (the SatNav) was directing us, we arrived at Mulberry House (a camp site we had looked at previously) and luckily they had room for us for to-night. When we were checking our camp site book the camp sight that Jenny had phoned was a different one to the one we are staying at, good job they didn’t ring us back!

Friday 11th March 2011
Holiday Resort Unity, Brean Sands, 51 16 96 N, 03 00 41 W (16 Miles).

After a de-tour back to West Country Motorhomes to check the installation was correct of the replacement aerial (the original one having become stiff when adjusting between horizontal and vertical) we drove the short distance to Brean Sands. If you have read about our day at the Boat and Caravan Show on 23rd February, you may remember we purchased a “Camping Card ACSI (no we don’t know what it stands for) it cost us £19 (we purchased the book and DVD version) and it offers camp site pitches at fixed fees of €11, €13 and €15 at 19 countries across Europe (including the UK) in the “low season”. We bought it in the hope that later in the year we will be visiting France and Spain but thought we would try it here. We are staying at Holiday Resort Unity for three days for €39 (£32.76) normally it would have cost us £55.50 (well actually it wouldn’t because we don’t normally pay that much for a camp site) so the card has paid for itself already. Not the “normal” camp site we would stay on, extremely large with static caravans and pubs, clubs, café’s and bowling alley’s etc, but it is quiet this time of the year. We would not stay here in the summer months but will definitely return in the “low” season. Rhiain and Ian visited us early evening having smelt the scones and chocolate cake!

Saturday 12th March 2011
A plus for the site, it has a “Costcutter” Supermarket so I was able to purchase a Daily Mail and I completed the crossword on my own!

Sunday 13th March 2011
A chance today to take everything out of the garage and have a good tidy up and re-sort. Jenny cleaned the inside of the motorhome while I started wax polishing the outside and did some other minor chores. We also have an issue with our mattress ( I can feel a spring pushing in my bum) which we are waiting for Autocruise/Swift to resolve in the meantime we purchased a “Raskelf” memory foam mattress topper at the show and had it delivered to Rhiain’s, I think we will sleep well tonight. I don’t think we will hear any Tawny Owls here!

Monday 14th March 2011
Minehead Caravan Club Site, Minehead, 51 11 88 N, 03 28 43 W, (38 Miles).

That was good timing, the camp site reception opened at 12 noon and we arrived at 11:55 am. This four acre campsite is compact with only 50 pitches located in a bowl surrounded by trees, it was nessessary because of “cul de sac’s” to find ourselves a pitch before driving the motorhome into the campsite itself. We soon found ourselves a nice pitch and settled ourselves in, i.e. got the kettle on and had lunch. It was wonderful to see the amount of bird life that surrounded us and a big plus was that just 50 meters from us on top of the cliff were Red Deer grazing, hopefully I may be able to get a photograph of them while we are here.

Tuesday 15th March 2011
This morning we followed the written directions from the camp site to the town centre of Minehead and were in the high street within 20 minutes. Of course, we/I needed to visit the Railway Station the home of the West Somerset Railway a heritage steam railway which operates between Minehead and Bishop’s Lydeard. I have fond memories of this old Western Region branch line, when my parents had a caravan at Blue Anchor Bay in the late 50’s and my brother Brian and I watched the three carriage steam train pass by the end of the caravan site, we also frequently rode on it either to Minehead or Taunton. Nice surprise this afternoon when Rhiain and Ian decided to come and visit us. Ian also remembers going to Butlins at Minehead some years ago so we drove down to the town with them to have another nostalgic walk around. I took my camera on this occasion to take some photographs of the old steam engines at the station.

Wednesday 16th March 2011
A plus with Caravan Club (CC) Sites as opposed to Camping and Caravan Club Site (C&CC) are the showers! I was able to have the shower at MY temperature and flow. I like showers hot and without too much flow, different to Jenny who likes it cooler and the flow blasting out like a fire hose. With the C&CC you have what you get and have to continuously push the button, then depending on your lucky choice of cubicle have from five seconds to 30 seconds of flow, before having to re-push the button. Managed to exchange two paperback books at the reception, 50 pence each donated to the Lifeboat Association a very worthwhile cause, having used there services in 1978 when we (the four crew) of the “Island Lady” needed to be escorted into the Welsh port of Fishguard. Our navigational skills improved by the following year when we managed to find our way to the Algarve, (no, our destination wasn’t Ireland)!

Thursday 17th March 2011
Well the weather today is perfect for a long walk, warm (in the sun) and dry. We decided to walk “The South West Coast” path a 600 mile which starts at Minehead and ends at Poole in Dorset, we didn’t get over ambitious and only did the first 4 mile then returned, (we’ll save the rest for another day). After reaching a place called Greenalaugh Point we spotted a sign for a ruined chapel so we continued another ¾ mile and reached Burgundy Chapel a late medieval chapel dedicated to the Holy Trinity, which strangely very little is known about. We were getting extremely hungry by this time and unfortunately we were in the shade of trees, sitting in the sun seemed at better idea to eat our lunch, so we retraced our steps and found a shelter with seats that faced the sun but more importantly sheltered us from the cool wind blowing off the Bristol Channel. Very relaxing, after lunch I lay along the seat and soaked in the warm rays, comfy cushion too……… I laid my head on Jenny’s lap! After returning to the campsite we ended our day on a plus, we walked the 400 yards to the Fish & Chip shop and bought Haddock and Chips. We have had a wonderful day!

Friday 18th March 2011
When we arrived back at the camp site last night we were asked if we still wanted to stay an extra day, we had previously asked the wardens to let us know if they had any “cancellations and they kindly did (and had) , we needn’t leave now until tomorrow.

Saturday 19th March 2011 Holiday Resort Unity, Brean Sands, 51 16 96 N, 03 00 41 W (40 Miles).
Just the one stop on the way back to Brean at the Morrison’s Supermarket in Burnham-on-Sea, we were most impressed they had dedicated motorhome parking spaces other than the Tesco in Oban this is the only other time we have seen them. On a pleasant afternoon I continued wax polishing the outside of the motorhome not a quick job and one that needs to be done methodically so it was both front doors and along some of the upper sides today.

Sunday 20th March 2011
Despite a cold and frosty night, today was the ideal weather to once again wax the motorhome, Rhiain and Ian arrived and despite me finding them polishing clothes were both reluctant to help, well I tried!