4th December 2013 - 14th December 2013

A Short Stay in the Midlands
Note: No photographs in the section.

Friday 6th December 2013
Cirencester Caravan Club Site, Cirencester, Lat: 51.71418, Long: -1.98403, (68 Miles).

We left Sandy Balls just after 11:00 am having another swim before we left, (in fact before we had breakfast) and drove directly to Cirencester arriving at 1:30 pm. Although the camp site was busy, there was plenty of room and we soon found a pitch which was close (but not too close) to the amenities and also level and within a short time we were having our lunch. After I had returned with the barrier key for our pitch, we did have a slight problem, for some reason despite the camp site being close to the town, television reception is poor so a co-axial cable is required to connect to the “site” booster system, our cable didn’t reach, however we found that whichever TV station we wanted, either BBC or ITV, we just needed to swivel our own aerial slightly to get a picture, sorted!

Saturday 7th December 2013
After a morning listening to the radio and reading and before lunch we walked down to Cirencester which is about a mile from the camp site. Other than knitting wool we only wanted a few items of groceries, but thought it a good idea to browse the Christmas market whilst we were in the town, we were disappointed other than about a dozen “normal” market stalls the others that were here the same time 2 years ago weren’t. By the time we had window shopped up the two main streets it was lunchtime and we found a fish and chip shop right next to the wool shop we wanted to visit. It was pretty busy so we only found a table that needed clearing and I sat down while Jenny visited the loo and while she was away I observed a waitress carrying a cup of tea with two fingers on the rim of the cup, I didn’t like that and after waiting for some time for the table to be cleared and our order to be taken without success we walked out. We found the wool we wanted next door and then found a nice little café where we enjoyed a bowl of homemade carrot and coriander soup before walking back to the camp site. We weren’t at the motorhome long . . . the assistant in the wool shop had given us the wrong shade of wool, we presumed that having handed over the ball of wool of the colour we wanted, when she fetched 7 more balls from the stock room and we asked whether the batch No was the same and she answered “yes” she would have sold us the right colour, wrong, we didn’t think to check it! We rang up and told them we were on our way and 45 minutes later we were back at the shop and collecting the correct wool. We decided after the unwelcome further walk we would treat ourselves to coffee and cake at “Jack’s” a tea room we found last time we were here and where the slice of cake last time was so large we wrapped some up and took it back to the motorhome to finish later. Disappointment again, it was full to overflowing, (word must have got out) and there were no seats available, we didn’t bother trying elsewhere we walked back again to the campsite for tea and biscuits.

Sunday 8th December 2013
Kingsbury Water Park Camping and Caravan Club Site, Kingsbury, Lat: 52.56797, Long: 01.70358, (75 Miles).

We left Cirencester mid-morning for the drive to Kingsbury a shortish drive which would have been shorter still if Betty had not decided to take us a different route out of Cirencester and then a different road on the outskirts of Stratford upon Avon. Our first stop at lunchtime was at “The Bulls Head” pub not for lunch (though we did have a drink) but to have a look at the building where my Great Great Grandfather lived around 1840, when it and adjacent buildings was a blacksmiths shop and houses with some surrounding land, great to think that we sat next to a log fire that my ancestors had obviously sat around many years ago.

Monday 9th December 2013
James from Enterprise Car Hire collected us at 10:15 am to take us to the Sutton Coldfield office to collect the car we have hired for this week and we then returned to Kingsbury for a short time before driving to Tamworth to do some shopping. At last after 3 attempts at different Marks and Spencer’s stores I managed to get the colour trousers in the correct size I wanted. After further shopping it was lunchtime and Plan “A” the idea of eating at “The Damn Fine Café” in Lichfield, then we remembered they close all-day Monday, Plan “B” the café at the Florascape Nurseries, they were busy when we arrived but we found a table and Jenny went to order off the specials board, two course’s, soup and then a turkey dinner for £6.95, she was informed there was a 20 minute wait for hot meals, “no problem” Jen said, “what pudding to you want?” the assistant asked. Jenny, “we don’t want a pudding, we want the soup”, “we have run out of soup” was the reply”! Why didn’t they rub the soup off the chalkboard and how could they possible run out of soup at 1:05 pm???? We didn’t stay! Plan “C”, The Whittington Arms, I chose the gammon steak and Jenny the “sticky chicken” with chips and salad, it came with vegetables, Jenny didn’t mind she preferred them, but the chicken wasn’t very “sticky”. The pub also had our favorite cider Aspall’s, however at the end of the meal I queried the cost of the cider with the barman and we found out it wasn’t the cider that we had been overcharged for but Jenny’s meal, because she had been given the Mediterranean chicken meal which was £3 dearer, a refund was soon forthcoming. We haven’t done too well eating out in the last few days! Parking in Tesco, we walked down to the town for Jenny’s eye test appointment and while her pupils dilated we took the Swanage Ordnance Survey map to the library and loaned the one for the Exmouth area (saves £7.50). Back to Specsavers and Jenny had her eyes photographed (lovely large brown ones) and we walked back to Tesco to do some shopping before returning to the camp site.

Tuesday 10th December 2013
A short drive to Sutton Coldfield to catch a train to Birmingham, pleasant surprise when we got to the car park it was free (after 11:00 am), we were expecting to pay and it is expensive. Timed our arrival to perfection we only waited 4 minutes for the train and within 30 minutes were at Birmingham New Street, where big changes are taking place for a new shopping centre, we still managed to find our way out to Corporation Street and walked past the German Market “sheds” towards Broad Street where we wanted to visit the library. The new “Library of Birmingham” said to be the largest regional library in Europe looked mighty impressive in Centenary Square, but then it did cost £188.8 Million! We easily found our way up a travelator and 3 escalators to the Records Office on the 4th floor where we had a “guided tour” by a very helpful assistant. We didn’t stop long, all we wanted to do was familarise ourselves with the records available for the future, we did however, before we left, take the lift up to the level 7 “The Secret Garden” a green oasis which gave fantastic views over the city and well beyond. Leaving the library we returned to Corporation Street, this time walking on the opposite side of the German market towards the Pavilion shopping centre for lunch in the “Food Loft” an eating area with different types of eateries, we chose “Fat Jackets”, for baked potatoes, which we enjoyed with cheese and chilli. We then continued towards the Bull Ring Centre and found a haberdashery in the Rag Market for a few items Jenny wanted, before browsing the shops in the Bull Ring itself. We soon had enough of “shopping” and decided to make our way back to the station, with the intention of having coffee and cake at Drucker’s, but just as we arrived an announcement was made that a train to Sutton Coldfield was due, so we abandoned that idea and instead caught the train, within 45 minutes we were back in the motorhome enjoying our own coffee and Tesco Stollen.

Wednesday 11th December 2013
Doctor’s appointment for Jenny this morning and we had time beforehand to do some more shopping at Tesco. Afterwards we drove to Huddlesford just 3 mile from Lichfield to look at a newly opened CL (Certificated Location for 5 vans), we thought that it would be a good alternative to here (Kingsbury) or Cathedral Grange at Lichfield, we were disappointed, it is not open “all year round” as advertised, further, at present they are not allowing motorhomes as the ground is too soft. After a further stop at Canwell Caravans for some toilet fluid arrived back at the camp site and relaxed for the rest of the day.

Thursday 12th December 2013
A visit this morning to my brother Brian’s house, with the intention of stopping at PC world at Beggars Bush on the way to look at docking stations, we failed, they were no longer there, it was just a building site and in the future being re-built as a Aldi Supermarket, luckily the “Bose” store is almost next door so we had a look at theirs, great sound from the smallest of docking stations but expensive. We chatted with Brian and Linda for a couple of hours before driving to Lichfield library for our “appointment” at the records office, despite spending time checking through the records circa: 1792 we couldn’t find any record of Mordecai Morris in Essington, although there is certainly a Morris “clan” in that area, I even managed to see, wearing silicone gloves to protect them, the Bishop’s Transcripts for that period without success, more detective work required now before visiting again. After leaving the library we spent the rest of an enjoyable evening with our son Michael, his partner Sharon and our wonderful Grandson Charlie.

Friday 13th December 2013
Having managed to complete most of our non-perishable food purchases this week we didn’t need the hire car which we were keeping until tomorrow to visit a supermarket so this morning we returned it to Enterprise. James drove us back to the camp site and we spent the rest of the day completing some of our family tree records, listening to the radio and reading, Jenny also baked the first batch of Mince pies, the first of many . . . I hope!

Saturday 14th December 2013
A relaxed day!