About Me

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Wife (to Shaun), Mother (to Danni), Dog walker of Archie the JRX, improving cyclist, reformed gym bunny, broken runner Collector of exercise DVDs & equipment. Cake is my weakness together with cider (Westons only thanks)and brandy. Noisy spectator of running & cycling events. Owner of Tribby the campervan

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Tribby's Travels - Wiltshire & Somerset

Tribby was supposed to be taking us to follow the northern France part of the Tour De France this year, but as we have booked a trip to Lanzarote in October and 3 weeks in Australia in January next year we decided to save our TDF follow for another year.  Let's face it the TDF will be there for years to come.

Instead Shaun booked us a "staycation road trip" starting at Slindon, travelling to Salisbury, then on to Cheddar, Devizes and back to Salisbury.

I actually put pen to paper every day we were away - here's a few snippets and some photos.

Day 1 - Tuesday 7th July - Newhaven to Slindon, West Sussex

We decided to make our first part of the journey a short one, mainly for Archie's sake.  We love the Slindon C&C site - it's small, quiet and there are some great walks for the dog around the Slindon Estate, and we managed to get onto our favourite pitch - 33.   It was a lovely sunny day, not too hot but the wind got stronger, so much so Shaun had to take the newly acquired Shade Sail down before it tore apart.   We also had to have dinner inside as it was a bit chilly.   Thankfully C&C provide "Site Wifi" - 2.5GB for a week for £10 so we could watch the Tour on the laptop.

Day 2 - Wednesday 8th July - Slindon to Salisbury

Woke up to a very damp, grey day and it took us a while to get going - no great rush as we couldn't arrive at Salisbury until 12 o'clock so after a couple of cups of tea snuggled up in bed I slung some clothes on and took Archie out for his morning walk while Shaun had his shower (no facilities on site!)   We didn't go very far as it started to rain.   I jumped in the shower while Shaun rushed around and got ready to go.   It was only then that I realised I'd left a bag of clothes at home containing shorts, leggings and pair of jeans.   I had 1 pair of shorts to last another 7 days!    We decided that instead of going home to get the bag we'd carry on to Salisbury and stop at the big Tesco at Chichester to buy some shorts & leggings.   Not quite the £40 I'd expected to spend but at least I now had clothes to wear.

We finally reached Salisbury at around 2pm.  Just in time to get set up on our very sloping, not very sheltered pitch and sit and watch the Tour.    Shaun took Archie for a walk around the Iron Age fort (Old Sarum).

The little black dot is Shaun & Archie playing ball!

Day 3 - Thursday 9th July - Salisbury

Today's weather was much better - lovely warm sunshine!   We used the site facilities to shower this morning and had a cooked breakfast of scrambled egg & smoked salmon on toast with a cup of coffee from the Tassimo (as we're on electric hook up).  Archie washed up the scramble pan!

We had a lovely walk into the City.  We bought some sausages from the Salisbury Sausage Shop - don't think I've ever seen so many different varieties of sausage!  After a wander round the cathedral

we stopped for lunch at The Market Inn which was recommended by a fellow Tribby owner.   We each had a sandwich (which came in the most enormous slices of bread) and a glass of cider.

Shaun wanted to show me the Iron Age fort so before dinner we took Archie for another walk.

Think the dog's tired!

Day 4 - Friday 10th July - Salisbury - Watersmeet Farm, Axbridge

After what seemed like ages to get packed up and moving on to our next site we finally made it to Watersmeet Farm - a lovely "basic" site with 15-20 pitches - grass with EHU for us.   A small toilet block and 1 shower, there weren't many people on the site so it was fairly quiet.  You can hire a fire pit and wood during your stay - we would but I can't stand the smell of woodsmoke in the van!   I stayed at Tribby while Shaun went out to explore the footpaths with Archie.

Day 5 - Saturday 11th July - Axbridge 

Woke up to rain this morning but by the time we'd had a cup of of tea and got ready it had cleared over and we started out for our yomp to Cheddar.   Shaun had sorted out our route - only 5k, but what he hadn't told me was that most of the fields on the way were occupied by cows - great, I'm not a massive cow lover and we have been chased out of fields before!   Going over was fairly easy though, the cows in Somerset don't seem as interested as Sussex cows.   By the time we got to the village it was close to lunchtime so we stopped at the Riverside Inn and had a Brie & Cranberry Ciabatta and Archie had a packet of Cheddars (when in Cheddar, Cheddars are a must!)
Waiting for Cheddars!
After lunch we walked up the Gorge.   Still impressive even though we've done the Gorge lots in the past.   Still lots of little nic-nac shops selling tourist stuff.   Shaun bought a very large "keg" of Legbender scrumpy and some Somerset brie and of course some Cheddar Cheese.   We went up as far as we could until the footpath ran out

& then started walking back down and back to the campsite.  Shaun had found a slightly different route on the way back - and yes more cows!

Nearly back at the site - that gap in the skyline is Cheddar Gorge!

All in all we walked 13 miles today (30,000 steps!!!!!!)   We were extremely disappointed with the Somerset footpaths though, they really need to sort out clearing some of them.   We're both pretty scratched up and Archie needed carrying at some points.

Day 6 - Sunday 12th July - Axbridge

What an awful day - it started raining heavily in the night and hasn't really stopped all day.   We got soaked walking Archie both this morning and this evening.  Inbetween we've spent the day reading, doing crosswords, drinking tea and watching DVDs and snoozing.   A very lazy, wet day.   Thanks to the weather though we've found a leak in the sliding door window - need to get that fixed!

Day 7 - Monday 13th July - Axbridge to Devizes

Woke up to another joyful day of rain, and the hills covered in mist!

Shaun's thinking we might do the one night at Devizes and then go home rather than go back to Salisbury.   We're finding it hard to dry everything out, it's just as bad as being in a tent when it's raining!  Archie went the whole way sitting on his own on the side seat instead of cuddled up on my lap today - major leap forward for Mr Scaredy Pants.

We got to Devizes at around 1pm when it had finally stopped raining.   This is a lovely big site with EHU on hardstanding pitches (not the most comfortable but you are allowed to use the pitch the best way it suits you.  Really we should have pulled up sideways, but it's only for 1 night so we'll stick with the traditional!

The site is situated by Kennett & Avon canal so once we'd set up we walked along the towpath to the Caen Hill flight of locks - even though I'm not a great lover of boats (we did the Thames about 20 years ago!) I've always been fascinated by lock systems.  This one is particularly amazing as it's 16 locks all in a row - or a flight!   We got absolutely soaked again as it tipped it down whilst we were watching narrowboats negotiate the locks.

The weather forecast looks better for tomorrow, so we're heading back to Salisbury to finish our road trip.

Day 8 - Tuesday 14th July - Devizes to Salisbury

It's only an hours drive from Devizes back to Salisbury which was good, so we left at 11am to get back for 12 o'clock check in.   slight detour on the way as Shaun spotted Hartley Farm Shop - we needed some provisions for dinner anyway!

Our pitch at Salisbury was right by the burger van which Archie loved as the guy who runs it kept bringing him bits of sausage and in the evening he bought us a cone of chips to eat whilst we were watching the TDF highlights on the laptop!  We walked into the city to stock up on sausages (made a great gift idea for Mum & Dad for looking after the dog for the next few days).    Internet time ran out halfway through watching Joanna Lumley's Trans-Siberian trip to Moscow!

We actually love the site at Salisbury, it's perfect for dog walking with the big field, the walk into the city and no doubt some places we've yet to find.

Day 9 - Wednesday 15th July -  Salisbury to Home (via Parents)

Luckily Shaun cleared up the awning and windbreak last night - not much fun putting everything away wet again!

Shaun had breakfast from the van this morning (Archie got a little bit of sausage - we weren't looking forward to that coming back).  A couple of hours back to my parents to drop Archie off, then time to head home, unpack Tribby and re-pack our clothes for our luxury adventure break in the New Forest tomorrow!

We've had a lovely time away and this is the longest we've done in Tribby.   Not sure I'd want to do more than 2 weeks, storage for clothes is limited (even if you do forget half your stuff), but at least we know we can do it - even better if the weather is good.

Can't wait for our next adventure!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The New Forest - A Different View

Way back in February this year Shaun and I spent a weekend in London - mainly to visit the London Bike Show.   One of the first exhibitors we visited was the New Forest, which was actually part of the Travel Show section of the exhibition.   We were persuaded to enter a prize draw for an "adventure break" in the New Forest, all we had to do was put an email address on a card and post it in a box - simples.    We must have filled in 15 to 20 similar cards and thought nothing of it, not even when the contact emails started to roll in a couple of weeks later.

Jump forward to June 2nd and in my Inbox was a simple email 

Dear Lesley

I am delighted to inform you that you have won our prize draw of a fantastic New Forest Activity Break!

Further details on claiming your prize will be sent within the week we were just so excited to let you know you have won as soon as possible.

Best wishes


Natasha Davies
Employment & Tourism Communications Assistant
New Forest District Council, Appletree Court, Lyndhurst SO43 7PA

My initial reaction was one of disbelief - we've won the occasional prize but a whole break?  Nope that had never happened.   Then when it had actually sunk in it was a mad flurry of activity trying to work out how we were going to fit in a few days away.   Luckily we already had holiday booked for July so I asked if we could possibly tack it on to the end.  At that point we didn't know what the actual prize was.   Natasha promised to try and organise the break beginning on Thursday 17th.   The hotel, Careys Manor Hotel & Senspa was booked for 2 nights bed & breakfast for 4 people. 4?  Who to take?  At such short notice it was difficult to arrange so we decided to go it alone.   Whilst we were away we heard from Natasha that our itinerary was to be as follows :-

B&B at Careys Manor Hotel & Senspa arriving 16th July for 2 nights
Presentation by the Destination Partnership 
Champagne dinner with a sail on the Solent on the 16th July
On Friday 17th a 2 town guided tour, lunch and cycling and kayaking

Wow - lots to fit in over 2 days!  

We arrived in Brockenhurst early so headed to the Rose & Crown for lunch - one of the best fish finger sandwiches I've ever had!

When we got to Careys Manor we were given a guided tour of the Hotel and taken to our room which had a lovely garden view.

Once we had dropped our bags off we headed back to reception to meet representatives from Escape Yachting  and More Than a Tour.  

A few photographs were taken and a chat about what we would be doing over the next day or so and then we were driven down to Lymington to join our yacht for the afternoon.  We were introduced to our skipper - David who took us and the rest of the group down to the Omerta - our yacht.   Quick briefing and donning of life jackets and we were soon out on the Solent.  It wasn't an overly windy day so the water was lovely and calm, perfect weather - which was great as I was really apprehensive about the whole thing not being a lover of anything boat related!   Champagne was served as we headed towards the Needles.  
Coloured Sands at Alum Bay

The Needles
I'm sure the rocks are smaller than I remember!

Once we'd passed the Needles David and Raphael began to prepare the Omerta for our dinner stop in Alum Bay.   

Food and wine was served - Loch Fyne kiln roasted salmon with lemon and parmesan Linguine followed by warm Treacle Tart with clotted cream washed down with a bottle of Rose.   
The group settle down for dinner (photo taken by Luke Crofts)

(photo taken by Luke Crofts)
The sunset was impressive.  

Lymington Marina (photo taken by Luke Crofts)

An amazing evening, one which I never thought I'd get the chance to experience but I'm glad we did it ............ and the weather was pretty much perfect (apart from the thunderstorm which chased us back to Lymington!)  The trip was also made special by having a great group who interacted, especially Louise and Luke who took some fantastic photos (credited) and were great company.

Paul & Simon from More Than A Tour were waiting for us at the marina ready to take us back to the hotel and run briefly through the itinerary for Friday.  They arranged to pick us up at 10am and take us back to Lymington for an historical tour as we'd mentioned that we'd never been to Lymington before.

Up for breakfast and back to Reception to wait for our pick up.   First stop was the St Barbe Museum which was extremely interesting, especially the art exhibition, and then Simon told us about some of the history of the town as we walked down the streets.  We got to see the gold painted post box celebrating Ben Ainslie's 2012 Olympic gold medals - open the link to see the local story!   

Stop off for lunch at The Kings Head

and then drive back to Brockenhurst to collect our bikes from Cyclexperience  and cycle across the Forest to Bucklers Hard for our kayaking experience.
Sorry no photos from the kayaking but I did manage to get some photos of Bucklers Hard.  

Our instructor and guide Tom   from New Forest Activities got us all kitted out so we looked like proper kayakers (all the gear and no idea!) and gave us some quick instruction on how to manoeuvre and then got us into our kayaks.  He took us upstream first so that coming back was easier (tide going out!) It was a very relaxing 2 hours, chatting about the Forest and the river - a great way to put the world to rights too!   After our paddle up the Beaulieu River a taxi was waiting to take us back to the Hotel.   

On Friday night we walked up to the Snakecatcher and had the most amazing Venison steak cooked on a hot stone - thoroughly recommended.

Saturday morning saw the end of our amazing experience and time to leave for home.  One last chance to enjoy a delicious breakfast in the Cambium at Careys Manor.  We'd have loved to be able to spend some time using the hotel facilities, the Spa looked amazing - hopefully Shaun will treat us one day!

We had such an amazing time and we can't wait to go back.   Seeing the Forest from a different perspective, taking part in activities we'd never normally do, was fantastic.   We've visited the Forest many times, with Danni when she was smaller and walking holidays with the dog and have fallen in love with the area.   We'll definitely be back!

Thanks to everyone involved for your hospitality - we've had a ball!