Thursday, 25 May 2017

Southern Motorhome Show Newbury 18 -22 May 17

Off with the Motorhome Funsters again to the Southern Motorhome Show at Newbury featuring a 60s theme.  A fairly painless journey down, albeit we were a bit worried about the  amount of rain and whether or not we would sink once we arrived.  Our fears were unfounded and we were duly marshalled into our space and we parked up and opened the beer. It rained. We wandered across to the entertainment and watched Cupid's inspiration, but the sound was a bit suspect being in a huge, cold, damp marquee, so we didn't stay to watch Edison Lighthouse, but went back to our nice warm bed instead. 

On Friday we bimbled around the show, relaxed, went to the entertainment then went back to the funsters tent, where we were fed a mixture of dodgy Spanish spirits that somebody had rescued from that special cupboard at home where you store all those drinks that you thought tasted great when you were abroad. On Saturday, a bit the worse for wear, we headed into Newbury for lunch and then back to see the swinging blue jeans and Marmalade, both of whom were, basically, crap, but that may be due to the awful sound system.

Sunday was a better day weatherwise and we, once again, wandered around the show before watching the Ivy League (very good). At least the beer at Newbury was cheaper than the rip-off prices at Peterboring! Monday was an easy run home in the bright sunshine.

Not a bad show, but the toilets are a bit basic and there is a bloody long walk to the "blue lagoon" to empty the cassette.

Watching the park homes being taken apart. Not much to them!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Milton Keynes 13-15 May 17

Just a quick trundle across to Milton Keynes to test the new solar panel and to visit our old chum Martin, who was passing through the area on his narrowboat. 

As ever, the check in at the Camping and Caravan Club site was painless, we pitched up on a lump of grass under an old oak tree, got the chairs and wine out and relaxed before heading off for dinner in the local pub.

On Sunday we walked up the hill into central MK, had breakfast, did a bit of shopping and then headed back for more relaxing, chasing the sunshine around the oak tree.

On Monday the weather turned so it was off and back home in no time at all.

As for the campsite, the wardens were their usual jolly, helpful selves, the campsite itself was immaculately maintained, but the toilets and showers could seriously do with updating.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Telford and Ironbrige 3-5 May 17

The Iron Bridge

We are fed up of paying £3-£4 a night for electric hook up on some campsites so a solar panel seems to be the way ahead. Accordingly, we booked in to see Dave Newell and have a panel fitted, along with the Schaudt MPPT regulator to match the Schaudt electrickery wotsits in the van. About 400 metres from Dave's workshop in Telford is the Severn Gorge Campsite, so we booked in this delightful site for 3 nights whilst the work was being done and we could explore the area.

We took to the bikes and have to say that the immediate surroundings have a lot to offer, with many museums on the history of this world heritage site. Of course, the weather helped and we enjoyed 3 days of decent sunshine for our long rides. Additionally, Dave let us use a pass for the museums whilst the van was in his workshop, so we managed to squeeze in a trip to the Coalport China Museum (very interesting - we now need bone china mugs for our tea) and Blists Hill Victorian Village, an equally fascinating experience.

On Friday, my sister and her husband drove up to meet us for a lovely lunch in Ironbridge. On Saturday we managed to get home in time to watch Harlequins lose to Northampton in the last game of the season, but managing to secure a place in next season's European champions cup. 

The Hay Inclined plane - used for hauling barges from one canal to another

The ironbridge table of tolls - no exception, even for the Royal Family!

Blists Hill

Local poseurs ;-)


New panel

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

National Motorhome Show Peterborough 20-24 April 17

£5 a pint - yes £5 A PINT! That's what the robbing barstewards at Peterborough were charging. It's some dodgy aircraft hangar in the middle of a fen, not the Savoy Grill, for goodness sake.
St George's Day

Anyway, enough of the ranting about greedy bar owners, more about the show. We arrived on Thursday via Rockingham Cars, the main Fiat Dealer in Corby, who very kindly and efficiently fixed the irritating squeaking rear suspension. We glided into Peterboring like a Rolls Royce, eventually finding the Motorhome Fun section and marshalled into our spot for the weekend.

Sold - at £145k!

The weather was fine, there was no mud as per previous years, we were welcomed by our dealers, Becks, who had a stand at the show and we had a great few days just wandering around, chatting to friends old and new (even a very nice chap we met at the Fiat dealers and a couple of season ticket holders at Quins), boozing, partying and generally relaxing. We weren't tempted by too much apart from some new microfibre towels and an electric grill.

As for the Warners provided entertainment, The Blues Brothers were fantastic, the Sixties band equally great, Jethro was mildly amusing 20 years ago but the 20 year old jokes are now just sad and the so called famous X Factor (or whatever crap talent show it is)  singer was absolutely appalling. We are definitely taking our own booze next year though.

Hmmm - I wouldn't want those monkeys on my roof

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Holland 29 Mar - 9 Apr 17

Why not? It's somewhere different and it has to be drier than the Lake District, surely?

A quick trundle down the M20 passing through that awful concrete section between Maidstone and Ashford (which didn't help the suspension squeak (Fiat advise it is the suspension hangar, it's safe but annoying and the replacement part is on backorder)), an empty Eurotunnel Terminal and then straight into Carrefour to collect some wine, especially as they had a special offer on Alsatian Cremant. It is worth noting, however, that to make the best of the offer the wine has to be removed from the boxes otherwise the till will not recognise the deal. Why are French Supermarkets so antiquated? Coming out of Citie Europe we noticed quite a few Camping Cars parked in the aire. This was a no-go area when the illegals were in full flow but appeared to be quite safe now, so we stayed. We'd forgotten how noisy it is there.

Citie Europe Aire

Up early the next day and the long drive to Delft in Holland. It was a fairly quiet drive but the roads were full of those bloody lorries and going around Antwerp is a nightmare. We arrived at the campsite, Delftse Hout, just outside the town, pitched up and wandered into Delft, where a market was in full flow.


Builders smoking dodgy stuff outside the pub

On Friday 31st, we had thought about getting a train into Amsterdam, but the train fares in Holland seem to have shot up. Accordingly, we changed our plans and took the tram into Scheveningen, where we strolled along the promenade and pier in bright warm sunshine before stopping at a beach bar for lunch and a beer. On the horizon, the clouds started building and the staff started putting up awnings and umbrellas. We drank up and moved towards the tram stop just as the heavens opened. We took the tram back into The Hague but it was miserable walking around in the rain so we went home. 

The Beach at Scheveningen

Saturday saw us back into The Hague to finish touring around the city, but first we stopped off in the fantastic flea market in Delft where we bought mega stroopwafels, cheese, and a tool for cutting cheese into thin slices. Wandering around the Royal Palace we found an alley that turned out to be blocked by a door, walking back out, the police guarding the palace shouted at us. "Oh, oh" we thought "That's us nicked", but it turns out they were saying we had to press the call bell and they would let us through. Simple!

On Sunday we decided to join the Dutch. In Holland, the bike is king, the car is second and pedestrians are just fair game for both. We took to our bikes to explore the many cycle tracks around the polders behind Delft. Of course, we got lost and went for miles and miles, but it was brilliant.

Leaving Delft we headed the 70 or so miles cross country towards Arnhem and our campsite, Vakantiepark Arnhem. A huge place with massive pitches scattered across heath and woodland, a pretty dour reception and not a lot else around there. We sort of dumped the van in the middle of the woods, unhitched the bikes and followed the trails across the very pretty heath into Oosterbeek. Unlike Delft and its environs, Arnhem is hilly! We found the Airborne Museum at the old Hartenstein hotel and had a very interesting couple of hours wandering around this brilliant museum. I was quite choked to see 10th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment's colours laid up in the museum.  A very fitting resting place for the colours of my old Battalion. Leaving the museum we cycled up to the Oosterbeek cemetery, a beautiful and well kept as any Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, and paid our respects to the many brave men resting there, including Captain Lionel Queripel VC, from the 10th Battalion. We also met a very, very interesting Dutch gentleman who told us many stories of his time as a youth in Arnhem during the battle and his subsequent care of "his boys" (who he visits daily) in the cemetery.

10 PARA(V) colours

On Tuesday we mounted up again and headed into Arnhem, visiting the John Frost Bridge and small museum by the bridge. Arnhem is a modern city - quite pleasant to wander around with some lovely gardens on the outskirts. On the way back we stopped for pancakes in the pancake house. They were bloody expensive!
Where are our bikes again?
The Bridge Too Far

We could have spent more time in Arnhem, despite the campsite being rather limiting. The scenery around the area is stunning and there is quite a lot to do. Another time perhaps as we had to head back home as our Eurotunnel frequent traveller tickets had expired. We crossed the border into Belgium and - Bam - the notoriously bad Belgian roads hit us. We suffered severe vibration and turbulence for about 20 miles on these appalling roads before finding some smooth tarmac. We were glad to cross the border into France and a vibration free night in the aire at Gravelines.


On Thursday there was time for a bit of shopping then across the channel and then parking in a small certified site in Bexley, South East London , in preparation for two days of visiting family in London before heading home on Sun 9th.