Sunday, 16 July 2017

More images of Norwich...

With the TDF still running and our move on to the next site on our list timed with the TDF rest day I am not going to write too much in this post....however I will post some additional images taken during our stay in Norwich.......
Norwich Castle

Norwich Cathedral

The cobbles of Elm Hill

The coloured canopies of Norwich Market

The Guildhall
We nearly didn't come here as there were a lot of poor comments on the internet regarding the site.... 

The toilet facilities are dated...straight out of the 1950s in fact and the club really should invest some of our membership fees into a new facilities block...however everything is kept clean and tidy by the Managers and Assistants who are a friendly and helpful bunch and the position of the site has proved just perfect for us..... the comments proved far worse than the reality and we have enjoyed our stay here.....

On Monday we move on to Sandringham......

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Lots to Do....

Well our stop here in Norwich is one of those places where the two weeks that we booked is proving not to be long enough as we are finding lots to do....

Starting with the important thing..... my daily ride on the bike.
I have managed to sort out a really good loop to ride out into the Norfolk countryside...
As with Suffolk I am finding some really quiet lanes and roads to enjoy....although the roads here in East Anglia are not as flat as a lot of people think they are I do miss the really stiff hills that you can find back in Devon and Dorset....

Below is a picture of my bike at Starston Church which is a village about fifteen miles south of Norwich on my daily ride.....
Starston Church about fifteen miles south of Norwich...
 Walking is good here direct from the campsite.....
There are some good walks along the river Wensum which loops around the city...
The River Wensum and part of the old city wall
 As an alternative you can head out of the city...... You can walk out to the village of Trowse where there is a very nice pub where you can enjoy a pint in a very pretty beer garden just full of flowers.....
Trowse village sign
 Apparently the pubs beer garden was a regional winner last year in a pub garden competition....
I think this was my second pint......
 I have also managed to visit some places from the past as well......
The image below is of the alleyway running between the rear gardens of the houses in the street (Marlborough Road) where my Maternal Grandparents used to live.

When I was a small child we would sometimes come to Norwich to visit my Grandparents and I can remember playing in this alleyway.....
It actually seems to be a lot more neat and tidy than I remember it when I was a kid....
The Alleyway at the back of Marlborough Road......
As I said we have found lots to do and on top of that there has been the Tour de France to watch on the TV as well....

This retirement business can be hard work......

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

We just had to pay a visit.........

We have left Suffolk and are now in the county of Norfolk....
We are camped on the southern edge of Norwich but before we left Constable country we just had to pay a visit to Flatford Mill.....

For nearly 100 years from 1742 to 1846 Flatford Mill was owned by the Constable family and it was around the mill that John Constable got inspiration for some of his most famous pictures such as the Haywain or Boatbuilding near Flatford Mill among many others....

I had always wanted to visit the area and stand in the exact spot that Constable had stood when he created his preliminary sketches for his famous picture 'The Haywain'.

Now I am not an Artist but I did manage to take a photo from the spot..... the only thing missing of course is the Haywain itself......
Although the foliage is much thicker and the view not so open as it was in Constable's time you can see that it is the same view with the end of Willie Lotts house visible on the left side of the frame.....

The visit to the area was really enjoyable and was a good place to finish our stay in Suffolk before our move up here to Norfolk....

I've posted my photo of the Haywain view (minus the Haywain of course) below......




Friday, 30 June 2017

Constable Country.....

 For the last couple of weeks we have been camping in Constable Country....
The Polstead Camping and Caravanning Site to be exact....

Sign for a Great Site
 Anne and I really like this site..... 
It is a franchised site and I must say that Karen, Greg and family run a first class C&CC location...
It consists of four different camping areas and our pitch is in the centre section of the site... 
In this area each of the pitches has dividing hedges and our pitch has given us plenty of shade during the very hot weather which we have enjoyed since we have been here....

There our plenty of country walks which are accesible direct from the site and lots of Suffolk lanes for cycling..

Great Suffolk Cycling....
One very good plus for the site is that there is a pub within a ten minute walk.... It serves good food as well as good ale..... A grand place to quench your thirst after a 45 mile spin through the wonderful scenic Suffolk countryside...

A well earned pint after another enjoyable ride,,,,
 I haven't cycled in this area since my youth hostelling ride many years ago and obviously lots of things have changed since then but one thing that hasn't changed is the lovely cycle friendly Suffolk countryside....

The Suffolk country lanes are a bit of a maze but are mainly traffic free and are just made for cycle touring trips......

A short break on another ride....
Even though I don't have the most ideal bike (Felt Z1 Dura Ace) with me for the narrow and winding lanes (my touring bike would be more suitable) I have still enjoyed my rides here very much and this area has produced some of my best rides so far this year.....

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Another Memory.......

Following on from my last post and my memories of the cycle touring trip I made when I was fourteen years old....here is another memory from that same trip............

The penultimate night was spent in a town that I had always wanted to visit since I had first heard it's name...... It sounded mystical and spiritual....soft and beautiful.... that town was Saffron Walden  in the county of Essex..

Unfortunately the reality I found at that time did not match up to my expectations.....
I don't know exactly what I had expected to find but I think it had something to do with my serious interest in Buddhism even at that age..... Perhaps I had thoughts of 'Saffron Robes'.

Now don't get me wrong Saffron Walden was a nice town but it just wasn't the place of spiritual mystery I had wanted it to be....

So what is it like these days..... Well Anne and I took time out to pay it a visit and I must say that we both enjoyed our visit very much.....

This is what we found......

The Church of St Mary the Virgin...... This is the parish church of Saffron Walden and is the largest non-cathedral church in Essex. The overall length is 183ft with a spire of 193ft high which is the tallest in Essex... it really is a pretty impressive sight...


St Mary the Virgin - Saffron Walden
We visited Bridge End Gardens which is a real gem of a find and amazingly is free to visit...
The gardens are a group of linked ornamental gardens which are listed Grade 11 on the register of Parks and Gardens. 
There are a number of walled gardens and also a maze that Anne and I got totally lost in. 
I have to say that the gardens are pretty stunning - just take a look at the image of the Dutch gardens below.....also the gardens have the cleanest public toilets that I have ever seen..they were better than many hotels....


The Dutch Garden at Bridge End Gardens.
We visited the building at Myddylton Place that used to be the Youth Hostel  that I stayed at on my first visit to the town during that cycle tour all those years ago......

As with Houghton Mill it is no longer a Hostel having closed in 2011..... 
The property was acquired by the YHA in 1956 and was believed to be Saffron Waldens oldest inhabited property....
Timber framed and Grade 1 listed it covers some 6.000 sq ft....

It was often said that it was the most photographed buiding in Essex...
I don't know what the building is used for now...
The Youth Hostel (Now Closed Down) at Saffron Walden.
In the buiding across the road from the hostel at 'The Close', is a rare oval Spider Window.... Just another of the little secrets that Saffron Walden has that I didn't see on my first visit....
The 17th Century Spider Window
Back to Bridge End Gardens - A peek into the Rose Garden
So Saffron Walden might not have measured up to my expectations as a fourteen year old but it definately pushed all the right buttons all these years later.....


Friday, 16 June 2017

Going Back 55 Years........

I mentioned on this blog a few years back that when I was 14 years old I set off on a touring bike ride around East Anglia.....
My family were living in Feltham near Heathrow airport at that time and I talked a friend into doing the trip with me..... I have to say that I am amazed that my parents allowed me to set off on that mini adventure but it does highlight the difference between attitudes then and now....

At that time it was still the golden age of the Youth Hostel Association (YHA)... 
In those days you could link up a number of Youth Hostels in order to complete a walk or a cycle ride...nowadays it would be impossible to do those trips and rely on a Youth Hostel for an overnight stop.. So many hostels in the YHA network have now been closed and those that do remain seem to aim at families, students and school parties as their core customers....

Back in 1962 when I did that trip the objective of the YHA was to "help all, especially young people of limited means, to a greater knowledge, love and care of the countryside, particularly by providing hostels or other simple accommodation for them in their travels and thus to promote their health, rest and education."

Sadly the needs and expectations of young travellers has changed over the years and the YHA has struggled at times to adjust..... I ended my membership a number of years ago when I felt that the changes to the organisation had altered it beyond recognition and it no longer suited my needs....

Having said that the YHA (along with the Scout movement) was fundamental in helping to foster my desire for travel and adventure and is probably one of the reasons why I am currently doing what I am doing....

Going back those 55 years.... the Youth Hostel that had the biggest impact on me during that trip was Houghton Mill near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire....
This was our second nights stop....our first night had been at St Albans....

I've always remembered the smell of the interior of the mill ....... beauty of the location.... the sound of the water.... 
For the 14 year old Trevor the place was just magic and I have always wanted to revisit Houghton..... 

Well the other day after 55 years I went back.....

Anne and I visited the mill for a day out and it was everything that I had remembered....
It is no longer a Youth Hostel (that closed back in 1984) and is now maintained by the National Trust but I was so surprised to see a corner of the mill had been dedicated to it's YHA history with a display of membership cards, badges and hostelling magazines... also they even had a bunk bed exactly as it would have been back when I visited all those years ago.... there was even a classic Roberts style radio playing music from the 1960s.....

It's not often that you can revisit somewhere without feeling a little let down but this was total magic.....it was a magic carpet ride whisking me back to when I was 14...... Perfect.


Houghton Mill
Bunk Bed straight from the 1960s

YHA Membership Items

A View From a Lower Floor of Houghton Mill
Entrance to the Mill

Thursday, 15 June 2017

This post is for Chandra at 'Green Comotion'.....

A few months back Chandra from the GreenComotion Blog in the USA mentioned in a comment that he had started watching 'Grantchester' on Acorn TV . 
Chandra has had a bit of a rough time lately as one of his furry family members has moved on to his next great adventure....

A few days ago Anne and I visited Grantchester which is only about a mile or two from Cambridge and I took a few photos in and around the village....

The images below are for you Chandra and Choko.........








Monday, 12 June 2017

I've acquired swivel eyes.......

We have been here in Cambridge for a week now....
The campsite is kept very neat and tidy with good facilities and really friendly and helpful campsite managers and assistants.... 
It consists of two quite large and flat fields and being in the east of the country it has been windy ever since we arrived.....
Initially after our arrival we had two days of solid heavy rain but since then the weather has been mostly stunning......

We have been into Cambridge centre for a look around the various colleges and I must say some of the architecture is fantastic.....

Having said that I felt that I was going to get run over by 'flatout' students on bikes...They are everywhere and they make no adjustment to their speed as they approach pedestrians... 
Even speaking as an experienced racing(many years ago now) endurance and touring cyclist I would never travel at that speed around pedestrians...crossing roads in Cambridge proved to be a bit of a nightmare but I have now acquired eyes that swivel thriugh 360 degrees......

As to be expected this has been another place where tourists are everywhere....It can make taking a picture of some of the streets and buildings a bit of a waiting game...waiting that is for the Japanese and Chinese visitors to move out of the way.....

The first image below took ages as I waited for a clear street..... I wanted to take the picture with just the bike and one person walking along the pavement..... Waiting paid off as in the end I got the image that I wanted......

A long wait for this image ...but worth it. I just love those chimneys

The entrance to one of the many colleges..(plus tourists)

The courtyard at one of the colleges...

Just some of the many bikes...luckily these are just parked up.....

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Hitting the Road Again.....

We have now come to the end of our stay here in the Cotswolds....
This is the third time in three years that we have visited the area although we have stayed at a different place each time....
After three visits we have still only touched a small part of the Cotswolds experience....

For this year we thought that we would stay at some places for a short (for us) visit of fourteen nights for a change and our visit here was the first of these shorter visits...
However Anne and I have agreed that we like to immerse ourselves in an area to really explore it properly and this takes time... 

It's obviously still early days in this years tour but we are both thinking that fourteen days is probably going to prove to be too short a time for us....
By the time we have visited some tourist traps...done some walking...fitted in some decent cycling etc and slotted all of this in between any bad weather that might occur the fourteen days is up all a bit too quickly... 
We will see how it all goes this year and then review it again at the end of the year.... Our next four stops are all going to be visits of just fourteen days.... 
How do people manage with just a two week holiday??  It's not long enough.

Anyway...on Monday we head off to Cambridge....

Below are just a few images taken during our stay starting off with a couple off 'bike lean' images...
As a keen cyclist I have always liked this genre of photograph mixing the image of a bike with small glimpses of the countryside that it has just been ridden through.... 
During our stay here I've managed to accumalate 300 miles under the wheels of my Felt so a couple of images are pretty valid......

Then an image taken at the Rollright Stones which are a circle of  late Neolithic standing stones which as long term readers of this blog as well as my other blog 'Aura of Past Shadows' (currently on hold) will know are something else that I have an interest in....

.....and then finally an Outdoor Natural Art Installation that we found not far from the Rollright stones..... Most tourists rushing around trying to see everything would have missed this but it was really quite stunning....we even stopped there and had a picnic in the middle of the woods surrounded by the various natural installations and the wildlife all around us.  
For lovers of the natural world it really was a terrific experience.......

A 'Bike Lean' Image with a glimpse of Cotswold stone.....
Another 'Bike Lean' Image with a glimpse of Cotswold countryside

The Rollright Stones

Part of an outdoor art installation
Another view of the Art installation..
One last view of the Outdoor Natural Art Installation

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Gone...!

This morning the last of the 'bank holiday' campers left the site.....
They left as they arrived... noisily and quickly.....
Tents came down...caravans and trailers packed... a last twenty laps around the site 'velodrome' and then the kids were stuffed into the cars and they all headed off and moved out....
Peace descended on the site again... 

More campers have arrived but they all seem quieter than the manic bank holiday crowd. Even the new bunch of kids seem better behaved.... 

I can only assume that the bank holiday crowd were trying to cram as much as possible into their long weekend and were determined to squeeze every minute of enjoyment out of the time away from work that they had....
The enjoyment and needs of other campers obviously didn't figure in their plan....
They had four days off work and were going to enjoy it and make as much noise and mess as they liked while they were here.....

It took me back to when I was working and managed to get a long weekend off from work... 
I would try to pack as much into it as possible no matter how manic the whole thing was....
The reality was that after all the rushing around I needed another break just to get over the whole thing....

Anyway the site is now like a different place.....like it was before the weekend....
Peace and tranquility now reign again... Toilets and showers are prisitine again.... It's a pleasure to be on the site again.....

Over the weekend while the site was in meltdown Anne and I went out to visit some places of interest in the locality....
One of the places we visited was this.....


Is it the Doors of Durin....?
I't certainly looks like a Tolkien Gateway.... 
Is it the 'Door of Durin' also known as the West Gate of Moria?   

It certainly looks like it as fans of the 'Lord of the Rings etc' would agree.
These doors can be seen at the church of St Edward in Stow-on-the-Wold....
Some say that these doors gave J.R.R.Tolkien his idea for the Doors of Durin although there is no firm evidence that is the case.... 

But if you are a tour guide who needs evidence.... There are a number of tours around the Cotswolds that link various places in the Cotswolds very loosely to the tales of J.R.R.Tolkien...
These tours are very popular with Japanese Tourists...indeed while we were sat in the churchyard having a picnic a coach disgorged it's load of tourists from Japan..... 

The guide led them up to the doors and spoke to them about Tolkien and the doors whereupon they started taking pictures of the doors...the trees...and then everything else within the churchyard including Anne and I and our picnic....

Oh well.... famous at last........



Friday, 26 May 2017

Gearing Up....

Today the campsite has been gearing up for the bank holiday weekend....
All the 'sensible' campers packed up and went home this morning....
Unfortunately Anne and I can't do that...we have to stay on a site and we have chosen this one for the bank holiday because although it is not an adult only site there are limited facilities for kids and our pitch is as far away from the small play area as possible.

For a few hours the site was almost empty.... From about 12.30hrs the site started to fill up again.... Cars were arriving with little monsters looking out and it wasn't long before the nice clean toilet facilities which have been pristine all week started to descend into the usual 'kids holiday' chaos....
The camps circular internal road suddenly took on the appearance of an open air velodrome park with the little darlings flying around on their bikes far in excess of the 5mph that the rest of us are expected to stick to.....

Talking about whizzing around on a bike.....this morning I slowly left the site on my bike (sticking to 5mph) and set off on the mini 'time trial' route that I found the other day....
I had another great morning of cycling and the route did turn out to be almost traffic free as I had thought that it might be....

On my way back to the campsite I stopped in a small village to chew on an energy bar and take a few gulps from my water bottle.... While I was sitting on the bench in the village green a gentleman came out of the village hall...got into his car and drove over to me and winding down his window he informed me "there is a cup of coffee for you over at the village hall if you want it..." he then turned his car around and drove off in the other direction. Yes..he had actually taken the time to drive over to me to let me know..... The villagers were friendly and the coffee was good too..!


My Traffic Free Route in the Cotswolds

Thursday, 25 May 2017

All Windows on Eva Wide Open.......

Well we have now been here at Chipping Norton for three nights and three full days and the weather has been stunning from the moment that we arrived...
The weather has been so hot that Eva's windows have been opened all round and all the roof vents have been unzipped in an attempt to keep the caravan interior as cool as possible.....

I was out on the bike yesterday for a 40 mile spin around the countryside passing through some very interesting villages...
What I will say is that most of the roads locally are in a terrible state.... Potholes seem to be all over the place many of them 4 to 6 inches deep. Not the sort of thing that you want to hit at any sort of speed.
After the effort of cycling up a hill going down the hill was spoiled by having to use the brakes more than I would have liked in an attempt to avoid hitting one of the potholes..... Having already been injured in the past by hitting one hard I was not prepared to throw caution to the wind and careful descent was the order of the day....

On my return route I did come across a nice B road of about 10 miles in length that will make a good 'time trial' road... My plan tomorrow is to go out on the bike again and go back to that section of road and do a few runs in each direction... It's a good surface...undulating and no heavy traffic....
I will let you know how I get on........

Eva the Eriba with all windows open......

Saturday, 20 May 2017

A Day of Morris.....

We leave Sells Green on Monday and are heading up to a site in the Cotswolds....
Today we went over to Bradford on Avon for a Festival of Morris Dance... It was a great day out and the perfect way to finish off our stay in this area...

Bradford on Avon is a very attractive place and is often called 'The Jewel of Wiltshire'. The packhorse bridge in the town was initially built in the 13th century . There is a small building on the bridge that was used as the town lock up. On top this building is a weather vane in the shape of a small fish and if you were locked up locals would say that you were 'under the fish and over the water'

The town is an architectural treasure chest and made the perfect setting for the festival....
I have always been a great fan of Morris dancing but don't exactly know why....
A lot of people think that the Morris dance was a Victorian invention but in actual fact it's earliest mention is from 1458.....

There are many forms of Morris dance.... Border Morris....Traditional Cotswold Morris.....Modern Cotswold Morris....Molly.....NW Clog/step...Rapper Sword dances etc..

My favourite types have always been Border Morris and Molly....
Border hails from Herefordshire,Worcestershire and Shropshire while Molly comes from East Anglia/East Midlands.

Border Morris dates back to the 17th century. Dancers would blacken their faces with soot to provide anonymity from both employers and the church. They would generally wear black with masses of highly colourful rag ribbons and elaborate headresses, often featuring tall pheasant feathers....
It's a vigorous form of Morris with plenty of crashing of sticks and wild dances and I really enjoy it...
As I said it was a great way for Anne and I to end our stay in the area....

Tomorrow is our packing up day ready for our travel day on Monday...

I was hoping to have posted an assortment of picures that I took during our visit to the festival...
Unfortunately for some reason I seem unable to access any of today's pictures in my photoalbum from blogger even though all previous images are visible....

If I manage to sort the problem I will post them at a later date.....
In the meantime I have posted a couple of images to show that since we have been here I have managed to get out on the bike a few times....






Monday, 15 May 2017

Towpath..The other direction....

This past weekend Peter Calcutt one of my walking buddies who I met through our joint association with the Backpackers Club came and camped for a couple of nights with us.....

It's always a pleasure to see Peter and so far this year he has managed to visit us on four occasions. Once when we were down on Dartmoor... twice at Verwood and now here at Sells Green...

As usual we spent a lot of time talking about some of the many backpacking trips that we have done together over the years as well as spending many an hour in conversation trying to put the world to rights.....

We did manage to fit a short walk into the weekend as well though....
We decided to go for a walk along the towpath but in the opposite direction to the Barge Inn that I mentioned in my last post....

Our plan was to walk to the top of the Caen Hill Locks and stop for a break at the cafe which is situated at the top of the flight before returning to the campsite via the same route...

For those of you who don't know... the Caen Hill Locks are a flight of locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal between Rowde & Devizes.
There are 29 locks in total and they have a rise of 237 feet in two miles or to put it another way a 1 in 44 gradient. 

The locks come in three main groups...
The lower seven from Foxhangers Wharf Lock to Foxhangers Bridge Lock cover three quarters of a mile.
The next sixteen locks form a steep flight in a straight line which goes up the hillside. These are designated as a scheduled monument apparently....
A final six locks continue into Devizes....

Our walk would take us past the first 23 locks. The cafe is situated at the top of the main flight of sixteen locks and you can sit outside with a coffee and watch the narrow boats slowly navigate their way to the top of the hill...
It takes 5 - 6 hrs to traverse the locks in a boat so our walk was far quicker.....
Below are some images that I took during our walk...

The entrance to Foxhangers Marina

One of the locks on the lower section

Lock gates

Narrow boats traversing one of the locks

Another boat in a lock..

Always lots going on along the towpath

The 16 locks of the main flight...