LIttle Stryne Campsite near Elvaston Castle

Hello again, yes it has been a long time; I know, I know, but sometimes life gets in the way. We’ve been rather busy and seem to have become rather addicted to this Wardening game!

After Milestone Park near Nottingham last Summer, we couldn’t resist the pull of a month in Devon at Lydford, and although we had planned on travelling again after that, we somehow found ourselves agreeing to ‘overwintering’ at Ludlow Caravan Park in Shropshire.  I will get to a review of this site soon now as I play ‘catchup’ on the blog!

Again, after Ludlow, although we intended to travel, we found we had a chance to stay in Whitby for the Summer, not only wardening, but right on a cliff overlooking the beach!  Whoops, here we go again.  I promise after this one, we really are going travelling again……probably!  Again the review will be up asap:-)

Anyway, back to the site which is in the title.  I actually shot this video last year whilst on a short sabbatical in and around Nottingham and Derby!  This new (at the time) site was absolutely lovely, really pretty and tranquil, yet only a short distance from Elvaston Castle and Borrowash.

Try it out!

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Has Autotrail Lost Their Way?

goth2 031Has Autotrail lost their way?  Why would we say that?  Until this year, we could walk into an Autotrail and feel like we’d come home.  We never actually bought one because they’re not double floored; something we need as obviously we live in our van all year round.  But we always hankered after the layout, the full cooker, the kitchen as a whole and several other things.

But recently we’ve been looking at motorhomes again (no, of course we’re not going to buy another one!) at the NEC Camping and Caravan Show in February and at several Motorhome dealers (Brownhills, Lowdham, SMC) in the Nottingham area and we were, for the first time ever, disappointed in the Autotrail Motorhomes as a whole.  They seem to have lost their sparkle!  Nothing new or innovative, absolutely nothing that made us go ‘oh, I like that’, uninteresting upholstery; just the same old, same old.

So the question is, have we changed or have Autotrail lost their way?

We did, however, find a company that seem to have found the sparkle!  Swift Motorhomes gave us a great feeling (actually the feeling we used to get with Autotrails!) when we walk in the door.  Bright shiny handles, lovely new lights, great upholstery, sofa’s you sit in, not on top of.  All in all, great lovely looking vans.  Sadly, not overwintered as much as we would require.

We’ve also got rather too interested in a very unusual new layout in a Dethleffs Motorhome called the Alpa!  Not the best looking van from the outside, but a VERY interesting layout.  First of all the main bed is over the cab!  Normally the bed over the cab would be difficult to get into, but in this case the wardrobe door next to the cab opens up to become nice, easy steps to get you up into bed.

The rear of the Alpa is what we call a ‘caravan back’ (could be what everyone calls it; not sure), which we have recently been considering.  It has a lovely looking kitchen, though I don’t think it has an oven, quite an omission in my eyes.  Nice big shower cubicle, with separate toilet with a brilliant full length mirror on the back of the door; yes we women DO need that in every van please!

One worry with the Alpa though is how dark it is inside as all the windows are at the back, plus just the kitchen window.  Other than that you only have a small glimpse of the windscreen.  Could have done with a window in the door to my mind, and probably another  little window in the other side of the overcab bed.  And maybe, if its not too much to ask, a bigger skylight too!

On the plus side, it has a big garage, double floor with storage in the floor from the kitchen, and is amazingly only 23ft 8″.  Yes, feet and inches, sorry, I’m that old! Think most people will either love it or hate this Motorhome!

Anyway, the jury’s still out…….much to soon to make a decision:-)

 

PS:  I’ve since been told that Autotrail have been taken over.  Seems now all the parts are made abroad, then shipped over here and put together in this country so they can say they are ‘made in the UK’!   Hmmmm, not sure that’s a great idea, and particularly since I didn’t know, yet realised Autotrails were not so good nowadays.  Oh well….. onwards and upwards!

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Lydford Gorge in Devon

motorhomelivingA few days after we arrived in Lydford, we went for a walk down into the village to see what was there.  There is one pub, no shops unfortunately, but there is a prison!  Well, actually it’s a prison ruin:-)  But when we walked down to the bottom of the hill and looked over the bridge, we saw the Gorge, which is amazing.  We immediately felt a bit dizzy and hung onto the bridge.

The water was bubbling away, way way down below us, with metal walkways pretty low down near the water; very scary.  We desperately wanted to go and walk round, but it all looked a little bit too dangerous.  Anyway about a week later we felt a bit braver and set off to Lydford Gorge!

It started off reasonably tame, just a walk through the wood, but on a pretty steep slope.

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Chillin!

It probably took about an hour to walk to the far side and from there down to the White Lady waterfall.  (Kudos to us for ignoring the tea and cake cafe!!)  We took the ‘short and steep’ path to the waterfall but it was fine.

The second half of the walk (it’s all one-way) got harder and harder.  One minute we were wandering along by the river, the next we were hanging onto a hand-rail and balancing on a narrow, rocky ledge very close to the edge!  And the further along we went, the harder going it got!  We really enjoyed it; so much more interesting than just a normal walk through the woods and quite demanding.

We actually walked along the metal walkway that we had first seen from the bridge!  It’s not half as scary as it looked, but I certainly wouldn’t fancy taking a child or a dog with me.

The scariest bit was the devil’s cauldron because you have to through a gate, down half a dozen very small steps, round a bend with water thundering just by your feet, holding on for dear life to the hand-rail to get to the metal walkway.  You are then deep down in the Gorge and the only light is right up above your head.  Scary but fun!


By the time we got back to the site we were worn out, especially as it was uphill on the way home!

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Wild Camping – We’ve Finally Done It!

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Our First Wild Camping Spot!

We’ve thought about, talked about it, thought about it some more and now we’ve finally done it!  Wild Camping that is!  It was much easier and no-where near as scary as we expected.

After staying in Waterhouses for one night we made the decision that we would attempt to wild camp the next night to try it out.  Don’t get me wrong, we have no intention of wild camping all the time, or even most of the time.  But after paying £18 for one night at Holme Pierrepont when we literally only slept there, we wished we had just pulled into a lay-by and slept, hence our decision.

Anyway, we spent the day around Knutsford, which is a lovely place to visit, very picturesque with some lovely shops and old pubs.  We spent a short while in Tatton Park,

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Knutsford

which was really nice, with a big lake.

Eventually we went off out of Knutsford, looking for somewhere to camp before it got dark, eventually finding a little lay-by next to a canal not far from a pub.  Deciding it looked pretty good, we pulled in and tucked ourselves in between a couple of lorries and a tiny motorhome.  After dinner we went for a walk along the canal and as usual our walk became a bit of a trek!

When it got dark, we closed all the blinds and snuggled up to watch television and eventually went to bed and then……….nothing!  We went to sleep and woke up in the morning when the lorry behind us started up!  We could have been on any campsite; it was no different:-)

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Bispham Front

After that first time we camped overnight near Blackpool in Bispham on the Sea Front for three nights which was amazing!  There seems to be just one small bit of the front where you can stay overnight, although a few of the locals seem to think its fun to shout and peep their horns at us as they go past.  Didn’t bother us, we heard them, then went back to sleep!  The weather got pretty bad on the third night and we had to give up and find another spot but it was lovely to wake up and look straight out at the sea.

So there you go, we’ve Wild Camped and lived to tell the tale!  We’ll definitely be doing it again, but not all the time!

 

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CL Sites and Showers……

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Campsite

So we had one night left before the family party, so decided on a five van certificated site which sounded lovely.  Luckily they offered hard-standing which we felt was necessary considering that locally the bank of a canal had collapsed and destroyed part of the canal network in the area.

It also offered views over the Reservoirs, which sounded lovely.  Level pitches, on a ‘gentle  slope!’  Complete with toilet and shower – everything we could possibly want!

Now I don’t know much about trade descriptions, but you know how estate agents will describe a house as ‘cosy’ which actually means ‘cramped’, well that’s a little of how I feel about this site.  Don’t get me wrong, the views are spectacular.  Of the hills and trees.  But the reservoir view is probably better in the winter when there are no leaves on the trees!  Though we could spy the water in the gaps:-)

But that apart, and the fact that the ‘level’ pitches were not level, what winds me up the

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The Reservoir

most is that I’m sure when the shower and toilet building was first put up they were absolutely fine.  But they are most definitely not now.

Firstly the floor feels as though it is going to give way under you.  Secondly, the shower curtain is long and mouldy at the bottom.  Yes, I understand it has to be long so the water doesn’t pour all over the floor, (because then the floor will definitely collapse!)  And then, despite the fact that there are notices up saying don’t let the floor get wet, there is no-where to hang your towel within reach, so you have to get the floor wet whilst you get out to fetch your towel!  Genius!

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Campsite from the Reservoir

Alan had a shower first, and assured me that although it looked a bit ropey, it was a good, hot shower!  Men!!!  As I stood, naked and shivering on the spongy floor, I gingerly reached into the shower cubicle to move the shower curtain aside.  Trying to ignore the muck the curtain left behind on the shower tray, I tried, to no avail, to turn on the shower.  I turned each way, pressed, pulled and finally, furiously realised that even if I got the shower on, there was no way I was getting in that cubicle!

We all have our limits, and I’ve gritted my teeth and got on with having a shower in all sorts of grotty buildings on campsites.  But I had reached my limit!  At the mimimum, I would have needed a bath mat, a chair for my towel, and a new shower curtain lol.  And preferably a cloth and some anti-bac!  Sorry, I know I’m getting carried away with the exclamation marks(!) and I’ve even torn Alan off a strip, but I just don’t care.

Campsite Owners! If you can’t offer a decent shower experience, don’t offer one at all!  And if you’re not sure, get your washbag out and go take a shower yourself!  You’ll know if it’s good enough.  And I mean Lady Campsite owners, not men.  Sorry fella’s, I just think you have lower standards:-) or you just cannot see what we women see!

Anyway enough of my rant now, let’s get on with this lovely day!

 

ps  I’m not going to give the address of this campsite, though you could probably work it out for yourselves.

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On The Road Again….

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Entrance

We’re on the road again!  Finally finished work on Monday, went out for a meal with Alan and Jean (the lovely Warden’s at Milestone) on Monday night, then spent Tuesday at my daughter Louise’s house putting up a few shelves and bringing down her ironing pile (what are parents for?).

Now here we are back in the van, looking out at rolling hills, lots of grass and a few horses.  Just what we needed.  We took a steady run from Holme Pierrepont in the pouring rain and as it got near lunch time, we spotted a Caravan Club CL site with one solitary Motorhome and felt the familiar urge to join it!

All hard-standings, on a farm, electric hook-up and even a shower and toilet!  £10 per night – sorted!  We’ve already had lunch and pulled in a lovely long walk which involved a raging river, a cement works, an amazing, unexpected lake and quite a lot of mud.

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Our van!

 

The site is:

Crowtrees Farm, Leek Road, Waterhouses, ST10 3 HR                         Tel 07973 702608

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The Long Overdue Update!

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Milestone Park

So finally you get an update! Four months without so much as a word.  Well I suppose we have to admit it – it took us a good couple of months to settle in, get used to working again and realise that this Wardening lark is harder than we thought:)

We had to get used to setting the alarm again, something we’d almost forgotten about, and getting up for work on days we really didn’t feel like we wanted to!  Alan struggled for quite awhile with towing the caravans; not that you would believe it to see him whizzing them back and forth nowadays.  As usual he’s brown as a berry from being out in the sun (well rain) all the time, weeding, hoeing, mowing and strimming, as well as emptying bins and moving vans!

We both clean our toilet block each day; something we were dreading ever so slightly, but motorhomeliving.nethave actually found it to be quite fun as we tend to sing loudly (nice echoes) and generally have a good laugh over anything and everything!  Yes, there are the not so nice bits, where you wonder how people live when they’re at home, but that is made up for by lots of nice people who go out of their way to thank you for keeping the park so nice.

I spend the rest of my time in the office, meeting a variety of people all of whom have a different problem/question/request.  Booking in is quick and easy and although this is a Caravan Club site, because it’s affiliated, we aren’t bound quite so much by the usual rules, making things a little bit more easygoing.  I work all day in Reception on Tuesdays, and tend to spend a fair amount of time on my computer, which works for me and has had a positive effect on our bank balance.

All in all, I think it has been a positive experience for us.  We’ve realised that although we were going walking and cycling, we were just not getting enough exercise, so we’ll definitely motorhomeliving.netbe doing alot more.  We’ve seen wardening from the other side of the fence and realised that the grass is certainly no greener:)  We’ve also realised that maybe the Wardens on every site we visit might not want a potted history of us/our life/our journey/our plans/our van, even though we have often given one!

So that’s about it for now.  I’ve promised myself I’ll be doing lots more updates from now on.  We will be leaving Milestone towards the end of September for pastures new, which  include a family party in Preston, a couple of motorhome shows and a possible trip to Portugal next year – exciting stuff!  Plus we have agreed to come back to Milestone for the New Year so Alan and Jean (The Wardens) can head off for a break.

Anyway, enough for now, or I’ll have to tell you about our FIFTH motorhome……..

 

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Confessions Of A Campsite Warden? Or We’ve Reached A Milestone!!

motorhomeliving.netWe have some news! We’ve gone over to the other side, and instead of being the camping couple in the RV, we are now Assistant Wardens of a Caravan Park.

The site we opted for is Milestone Park in Cromwell, which is a 5 star site, affiliated to the Caravan Club and only 5 miles from Newark so we are close to our Grandaughter (but not too close)!

The main wardens are Alan and Jean, who along with there crazy dog Ollie, work full-time to our part-time. Ollie is quite famous on the site as he sits next to Alan (the Warden) on the tractor and barks his head off at anyone and anything, making a horn unnecessary!

Milestone is a lovely site with a fishing lake, landscaped gardens and plenty of seating areas to park yourself and enjoy a cuppa. It’s very popular, especially with fishermen and although it is right next to the A1, you rarely notice the traffic noise. The site is protected from the road with a huge grassy bank and is really well planted with bushes and tree. The sunsets over the lake are spectacular!

motorhomeliving.netWe are currently living in the wardens chalet which comes with the job, though we are missing living in the RV as it does seem like home. Of course, it does make a change to have running water and we don’t have to empty the loo!

Sue works happily in Reception most days, apart from her first few days when she kept having problems. Behind Reception lives an African Grey Parrot called Charlie. No problem you would think, haha! He imitates the phone, the forklift truck reversing at the brewery next door and both Alan and Jean talking; very confusing at times.  Of course, Sue is growing to love him (no, you can’t have a parrot Sue!) and spends most Tuesdays having a whistling contest with him.

One of my main tasks is getting out and putting away the storage caravans, which I must say at times is difficult as I have always towed from the rear of a Landrover and here I do it on the front of a small tractor and have to reverse the tractor, pulling the caravans!

Two weeks in and I still can’t get the b***** thing to do what I want it to, grrrrr.

Anyway thats enough ranting for now; tune in later for Confessions of a Campsite Warden in later episodes and visit us here if you dare (biscuits always in the tin)!!

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Awsworth And A Wonderful Grandaughter!!

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Baby Ava

So the long Winter haul is over and it’s time to move on to pastures new. For the past 10 weeks or so we have been holed up in our home town of Nottingham awaiting the birth of our Grandaughter Ava who was born on the second of January!  Welcome to the world, Ava!!  We’re sure you’ll all agree she is a beauty; we may be a bit biased!

Our first call this year is not far away; well still in Notts.

Its a new Caravan Club Site in the small village of Awsworth, only a 5 van site, at the back of a organic small-holding with lots of fresh produce for sale. You get a good view over the fields and can watch the farm workers toiling! The owner is very friendly, helpful and talkative.

Next to the site is a well kept pub serving meals and also in the village is a takeaway, a small supermarket and a post office. About a mile away there is a motorhome dealer and about 3 miles away a caravan dealer.

Ikea is only about a mile or so away on a large retail site with lots of other stores such as Decathlon and Next.

We stayed in Awsworth to attend a Retirement Party for Val, the Secretary who worked at Print 4, where I used to work and we enjoyed a great night with lots of food, meeting lots of old friends.

On a new and different note, we are trying something new this year, as we have applied for campsite warden vacancies up and down the country to get a feel for the other side of the fence so to speak (watch this space!)

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Lincoln & Our Last Christmas Market!

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Is It A Bird? Is It A Plane...

Off to Lincoln market we go; we thought we were human but seems we take the form of sheep, or so it felt!

We arrive on the Saturday to take in this monster market which runs for four days over the Christmas period; we had been two years earlier and really enjoyed it, so thought a repeat would be in order.

The closest site we could get is six miles out of Lincoln and takes around 45 minutes to do the journey, not bad considering the time of year and it being Saturday.

When we got there for around 9.45 it was quite busy, so we went for coffee and our first

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Camping Field

mince pie (honest) and then stepped out into what was by now a rather busy Lincoln. We were informed by our daughter Emma that she was running a little late on her way to join us (nothing new there then) sorry Em!

Emma texted a little while later to say that the traffic was really bad and we all decided it would be best for all if she went to the park and ride instead of parking in the centre of Lincoln. After queueing for 30 minutes to get in she was not happy to be relieved of £15.00 for the privilege!

After a 10 minute walk from where they parked the car to the bus, they finally arrived in Lincoln at the top of the aptly named ‘Steep Hill’. We hurried up the hill to meet them, along with crowds and crowds of other people.

Halfway up the hill we were magically transformed into sheep and were sent on a magical mystery tour of the outskirts of the castle grounds. Seems they had introduced a one-way system for pedestrians, due the the sheer numbers of people who had decended on Lincoln!

Once we got back to the entrance, loudspeakers informed us that due to overcrowding, the entrance to the castle grounds had been closed temporarily. Lovely!

So off we went round again; as it is impossible to stay still as the force of people moving made it almost impossible to simply stop moving.

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Neighbours!

On the next time round we got in. Hooray, we thought! Wrong – we were shoulder to shoulder all the way along, and could only see the stalls from a distance as it was physically impossible to get near to them.

So all in all Bah Humbug! to this event in future years unless it is extended beyond it’s current 4 days, we will give it a miss.

On the upside, the site we stayed on was lovely. It is on the outskirts of the village of Metheringham; a Caravan Club CL site and is at a small Aviation Museum, in fact our neighbour is a plane – makes a change from the usual caravan.

The site is run by a lovely old couple. We enjoyed talking to them about the museum and local area. The site is a gem of a find at only £7.00 per night with electric, hard standing and heated shower and toilets -”bargain”!

Site details:

Mrs. Z M Scoley
Westmore Caravans
Westmoor Farm
Martin Moor
Metheringham,
Lincoln LN4 3BQ

Tel: 01526 378270

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