Sunday, 8 September 2019

Not what we Expected..,

We arrived back at the Verwood C&CC site after a bit of a convoluted journey.
 A couple of diversions sent us on a merry tour of Wiltshire countryside.
 We eventually arrived at our site about  an hour later than we had hoped.

 We had thought that with the school's going back in the week the site would be child free..... 
Unfortunately we were unlucky and the site still had quite a few of the little blighters running around... 
Obviously their parents were stretching their holiday out until the last possible moment...

Luckily for us the next morning they all packed up and left. 
However this weekend a lot more families turned up on Friday evening although by midday today they too had packed up and gone. Making the most of the good weather over the weekend I suppose. 

There are new managers at this site and in the short time that they have been here (since April) they seem to have upset everyone by being a bit jobsworth and wanting to make changes just for the sake of it ... 

The fish & chip van that has been visiting the site for the past five years that we know of no longer comes here due to a difference of opinion with the new managers... 

When we arrived there were just the two managers here as all the assistants had left as they had had enough...
In the past week two more assistants came down to help from a site in Lincolnshire. 

A number of the seasonal pitch caravanners here seem to be very unhappy with the new management style with complaints being made to the C&CC head office.

 It's always a pity when new managers move in and upset the running of a really nice site... 
This happened at the Tavistock site in Devon and we decided not to go back there and it looks like it is happening again here. 

The club seems to have a bit of a staff shortage from what I can tell ... Assistants are being pushed through on to management training about a year before they would normally do so.... 

Also I have heard today that the club intends to put more glamping 'ready camp' tents up as well as some camping pods here at Verwood.(as if there aren't enough here already)

 This of course reduces the space for traditional tents and caravans and also tends to attract a totally different sort of person to the sites.  
By this I mean people who might not have ever been camping before and as such do not follow the niceties of camp life such as keeping the noise down after about 2230hrs etc.... 

In a lot of cases they are not interested in camping they are just interested in getting what they think is a cheapish holiday and also because glamping is seen as a fashionable thing to do..

 The club is not really a club in the accepted sense and over the last few years seems to have moved a lot further away from it's original purpose than ever before...

Our plan this year to stay at more independent sites has proved to us that in monetary terms you can get a better deal by avoiding club sites particularly during bank holidays and school holidays. 
Next year we will be staying at even more independent sites.....

Below are a few more photos taken during our stay in the Forest of Dean area......










Sunday, 1 September 2019

Docks......

Our time here in the Forest of Dean is now up and tomorrow we head back down to Dorset. 
We will be touching base with my daughter and her family.... 
They have recently returned from a trip to Canada so it will be interesting to hear all about their own travels..... 

As well as visiting family and friends I have a number of hospital appointments and other commitments starting off with a MOT and service for the car next Friday.

We have loved this little site and will be sad to move on but that is after all what full-time touring is all about. 

During the time that we have been here there has been a very useful bus service that has been running for over thirty years but like a lot of rural bus services in the UK the plug has been pulled and the service has been withdrawn. 

The last bus ran yesterday. 
I have no idea how some of the elderly locals are now going to manage without the bus as it was a real lifeline for a lot of people.

 One lady I was talking to told me that she is now selling her house and moving because she no longer drives a car and just won't be able to get by without that bus.

 Anne and I took one of the last buses to use the route to travel to Gloucester.... We visited the cathedral and the shops and then wandered over to the docks for a look around and also have a spot of lunch.
 It was over twenty five years since I had last visited the docks area and I must say that a good job has been done in tidying and smartening the whole area up.

 Since we have been staying here I have taken quite a few photographs of the forest area and beyond which I have not shared on the blog yet...
 Over the next few posts I will share them with you but in the meantime below are some of the images I took around Gloucester docks... 







Monday, 26 August 2019

You don't get this at one of the club sites .....

Well the weather has improved a lot ..another burst of summer just in time for the bank holiday....
 I have managed now to get out on the bike and enjoy some of the Forest of Dean from the saddle of my Felt Z1....

 As mentioned before.. this year we have spent more time than we usually do staying at small private sites rather than club sites.   
The personal touch can make a big difference to a camping site ... 

Here is something that you don't get when staying at any of the sites run by either of the two main UK camping clubs....... 
Since we have been staying here the site's owner John who is 82 years of age has popped around  a number of times to give us fresh fruit and vegetables from his own garden.... 

Take into consideration that a pitch only costs £14 a night including electric and it really shows what a gem of a site this is...
A club site at this time of year would be charging us over twice that amount......

By cutting the number of 'Club pitch nights' we have had this summer in half we have reduced our site fees for the season by a considerable amount. 

Private sites can be more hit and miss in terms of quality of pitches and facilities but the savings can make it worthwhile plus you might get some lovely fresh produce to enjoy as well..  

Campsite produce from John's garden

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Not the Best......

Since my last post the weather remains very unlike summer...wet and windy. 'Not the best' is putting it very mildly..... 

Last weekend Anne's eighteen month old grandson was brought up by his parents  to visit us. 
The weather was bad throughout the weekend but we were not going to let that dampen our spirits as we were determined to find various things to do..... 

They had all booked into a hotel in Monmouth which is only about six miles from our campsite.... 
On the Saturday we arranged to meet them at  Norchard which is the centre for the Dean Forest Railway. 

Anne's grandson like a lot of youngsters has a real thing about trains so we figured that a couple of hours getting on and off of different trains would be a good way to use up part of the day...

As it was we were able to fill up the Saturday and on the Sunday we were able to manage a walk in the woods as well as yet another train ride at a different location. 

The area here has quite a lot to occupy youngsters so even though we might be asking if this is summer or autumn weather wise we were still able to enjoy ourselves and keep him occupied.

 Just a few images below around the Dean Forest Railway.....

(Talking of images I will be starting to post monochrome photographs again at my Aura of Past Shadows blog from late October onwards.... 
I've posted one of my new monochrome images recently as an introduction... Pop over to the blog and check it out. There is a link in the side bar...) 




Sunday, 11 August 2019

A New Pitch for August....

We have now left Hereford and have settled into a new Pitch at a adult only site in the Forest of Dean for the rest of August ...
 We arrived here last Monday and we will be here until the 2nd of September.

 The sharp eyed amongst you would have noticed that we had our awning up during our stay at Hereford....

 We had tried to put the new air tube into the awning when we were at the Blackmore site. 
We struggled to get it fitted and in the end gave up and put it down to Cameron at Automotive Leisure sending us what I thought was the wrong air pole.

 We put the canopy and windbreak up instead but all the time we were at Blackmore I thought about how we had tried to fit it and the more I thought about it the more I became convinced that it was the right airpole after all.

 We arrived at Hereford and I put my theory to the test and after a lot more struggling with it we finally managed to fit it.... 
So that was great and we thought that we would then have the use of the awning for the rest of the summer. 

......BUT....when we arrived here in the Forest of Dean because of the steep slope in two directions of our pitch it became obvious that we wouldn't be able to use the awning because the slope would cause the rear airpole to cut across the edge of the caravan door.

 One of the drawbacks of an air awning is that you can't adjust the height of the legs as you can with a normal poled model. 

  So the end result is that we are back to our canopy set up again for this pitch.
 In normal summer weather the canopy and windbreak can be nicer than the awning but since we have been here the weather has been horrendous with strong winds and heavy rain. 

I have not managed to even get out on my bike since we have been here and I don't want to lose too much of my fitness as when I do finally manage a ride the routes in this area can be a bit challenging. 

Below are some general shots around our site area including a defibrillator which since I had my heart diagnosis we always lookout for now. ....

Hopefully we will have some better and more interesting shots for you when this weather improves ... 





Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Grange Court.....

I really like this building......

Grange Court
The building is in Leominster and it is called Grange Court...
It was built in 1633 and is the last surviving market house known to be built by John Abel a local master carpenter.

It was moved to it's present location in 1859.
It is now on the edge of a park area in the town but it's original location was closer to the market square area of the town but needed to be moved because it was starting to cause an obstruction with the ever busier roads...

The timber framed building is extravagantly decorated with carvings including mermaids, angels, animals, flowers and grotesques.
The entablature above the columns includes a number of carved texts praising god.

When built this market house was open at ground level with the upper structure supported on twelve oak columns.
If you look at the photo above you can see the columns and where the building has now been filled in. 

It was used for public meetings and also meetings of the town guilds and  the Quarter session courts were held there...

Nowadays it is a civic building and used for such events as exhibitions.. weddings etc....  

As I said at the start I really like this building...
I like the shape...The black and white structure and the condition and neatness of the whole building.... A bit of a historic gem really.


Sunday, 21 July 2019

Another Move and a Visitor.....

Last Monday we moved on from the Malverns and are now about thirty miles further west just north of Hereford.....

We are at one of my favourite sites close to the village of Moreton on Lugg. This is a privately owned adult only site which at this time of year at the start of the school holidays is absolute bliss..

For a few hours today between people moving on and new arrivals there were only four units in our camping field. See the picture above to check out the almost empty site....
It has filled up again now but most people on site seem to be fifty years or older....

This is the third time that we have been here since 2015 and it is an ideal site for us as it ticks all of our boxes...

The day after we arrived we had a visitor.
My cycling and walking buddy Peter had cycled up from Poole in Dorset to spend four nights with us...

He had made the journey on his touring bike and we had a few days of chat and banter as well as a look at Hereford and it's cathedral on the Wednesday and also a walk and picnic on the Thursday.

Peter headed off back home on Saturday morning and expects to be back home before Tuesday.
It's always nice to see Peter and he has managed to visit us at over eight of our camp sites since 2015.....

He slept in his Hilleberg Akto tent that he has used for both cycle touring as well as backpacking trips...
I have an Akto myself and I always remember when we were walking the Pennine way together a few years ago joking about how our tents looked like a couple of coffins pitched side by side....
The slight fading of the grass where Peter had pitched his tent seems to bear that out...


S
Peter packing for his return trip....




Sunday, 14 July 2019

An Open Door...... Double Take!



Since we have been staying here near the Malverns I have cycled a number of times to Tewkesbury and Anne and I have also driven there so we could have a proper look around the town.....

The stand out place in the town for us was the Abbey which we both thought was stunning.
It was a really interesting and historic  place that gave me lots of subject matter for my monochrome photography.

I am planning to ressurect my photography blog 'Aura of Past Shadows" a little later in the year and the abbey gave me some good b/w images.

One of the other things that grabbed my attention was a front door on a terraced house in the town.....
The owner had painted the image of an open door leading to a garden on the front door...it really did need a double take...
The image of that door is shown below ......
the other image is a shot of the wonderful Abbey...


Sunday, 7 July 2019

Grow Your Own Dog.....

The jazz festival that I mentioned in my last post took place at Upton on Severn.
In lots of ways the town is almost a step back to the 1950s.
The high street has lots of small independent shops with no multi nationals that we could see.

There are a number of pubs in the town and during the jazz festival they all seemed to host various bands. We went back again earlier this week to have a better look around.

One of the things that really captured our attention was the large dog near the tourist information office...
It looks like a large Old English Sheepdog but it is in fact a plant of some kind.....

It could well catch on...

No need to go to the breeding kennels for your next dog just grow your own.......

Below is a photo of the local garage...usually this style of building would have been modernised but thankfully this one is original and has been maintained like that....

 Here is the high street...... This too hasn't changed much over the years.
 View of the Severn from the pub garden where we had lunch.....
 Finally a picture of the town museum....


Sunday, 30 June 2019

Malvern....Still No Awning...

Last Monday we moved on from our site at Cropredy and are now at the Blackmore CCC site close to the Malvern hills.
We have stayed here before but that was about ten years ago and on that visit we were camping in a tent.

Having received a replacement air tube for our awning we were planning on putting the awning up on our arrival here.
We got the awning out of it's bag and unboxed the new tube but after attempting to insert the tube in the outer zipped pole tube it became obvious that we had been sent the wrong tube.....

So we are still using the canopy and windscreen (wind break) set up that we have been using since our stay at Salisbury.

A quick call to Cameron at Automotive Leisure and Cameron admitted it was his fault...
He said that he had been sent the complete set and had obviously sent the front arch out to us instead of the rear as we had requested.

Unfortunately there are issues with the CCC receiving parcels on behalf of campers so we will have to wait till we get to our next site in a couple of weeks time and get it sent there....
Still with the hot weather we have had this past week the canopy has probably been a better set up than an awning anyway..... 


Current set up...great in hot weather..
 Since we have been here I've been to a Jazz Festival  at Upton on Severn as well as getting out on the bike in an area that I've not cycled in before and we have also been out walking some of the many footpaths that there are surrounding the campsite....

This coming week we are planning a trip to Worcester which is a place that neither of us have ever been to before.
View of part of the Malvern hills on today's walk.
This past weekend the site has been rammed with a lot of people trying to take advantage of the good weather with a weekend camping trip.

Apparently 77 units packed up and left the site at lunchtime today. Mind you as they were leaving more units were arriving although not quite as many as had left......

Tomorrow I am planning a cycle ride down towards Gloucester so I am now going to head off to bed for a good nights sleep in preparation for the cycling effort...

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Banbury or Eccles....

Wherever you travel to in the UK you can usually find somewhere that will sell you an Eccles cake....
I don't dislike Eccles cakes but I have always had a preference for Banbury cakes...

It must be said that they are very similar.
They are both made from a flaky pastry with a spiced fruit filling although the Banbury cakes are more oval in shape whereas the Eccles are round and deeper.

But I feel that it is in the eating where there is the biggest difference....
The Banbury cakes to my mind have a more spicy and nicer texture in the mouth.

I have always liked them but over the years they seem to be more and more difficult to find in the shops as I said most places will sell Eccles cakes but very rarely will they have Banbury cakes.

A lot of the people working in cake shops don't even seem to know what they are.

As our current location is only a few miles away from Banbury I was able to find some for sale but even Tesco in Banbury stocks Eccles cakes but not the nicer Banbury cakes...Shame on you Tesco. !!!

I found my beloved Banburys in a shop selling sweets and a few types of cakes but I just don't understand why they are so difficult to obtain...after all they have been made in the region to secret recipes since 1586...
Maybe that's the reason....the recipe is so secret that not enough people know how to make them.....


Thursday, 6 June 2019

Aviation Interference and a New Location....

We have moved on from the Salisbury site and are now at a private site in North Oxfordshire close to the border with Warwickshire.
It is a very nice site that seems to be a mix of residential and touring pitches very similar to the site in Devon where we spent last winter....

All the grass around the site is neatly cut and the hedges are well trimmed. The toilets and showers are clean and tidy and there is a small information room with lots of ideas for places to visit.
There is also a well equipped laundry room.

All in all the site has everything that we look for in a site and best of all it is cheaper than a site operated by either of the two UK clubs...

We are less than a mile from the village of Cropredy where Fairport Convention hold their annual music festival.
Unfortunately that takes place in early August so we will miss that event.


Intrestingly we only heard of this site during a chance conversation with another camper at the CCC Moreton site back in April....
They come here each year in order to attend the music festival.

While we were at Salisbury something happened that hadn't happened at anytime during our previous four years of touring.
When I tried to operate our motor-mover it wouldn't work properly...it just kept jerking and then turning off...

I mentioned this to Cameron at Automotive Leisure and he said that it sounded as if it was interference from something that was transmitting on a similar wavelength as our motor-mover hand control.

He suggested that when we leave the site if we were still getting the interference to try operating it with the controller held just inside the caravan door...
Apparently the steel frame of the caravan would help to shield the transmission from my hand control from the transmission from whatever was interfering with it...

So that's what we did with Anne shouting directions and me operating the mover with my arm held through the caravan door effectively driving the caravan blind.
We managed to get the caravan hitched up with this method but were happy when we got here to find that all was working again as it should.

There was an airfield not far from the Salisbury site and there was a lot of small airplane activity and it seems likely that was the source of the interference....

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Awning Problem & Tour Series.......

We arrived here at Salisbury c&cc site a week ago today.....
We had good dry weather for the journey here which was only about 23 miles anyway.....

We had lunch and started to put our awning up but it wasn't long before we noticed a problem...a bulge had appeared on the rear tube... Closer investigation showed that the air tube itself was intact but the webbing tube that it fitted into had failed along about a foot of  stitching....
We then had to take the awning down and put up the Isabella canopy and also the Isabella windscreen that we also recently purchased.....

We had some hot weather over the bank holiday and this combination seemed to work quite well...
I have included an image of the setup below....... It's quick to put up and just as quick to take down so as an alternative to a full awning I can recommend the combo......

On the Thursday evening we walked into Salisbury to watch the Ovo Energy Tour Series city centre cycle racing.....
I was keen to watch the Women's Brother UK Tifosi team....
As my winter/audax bike is a Tifosi I thought that it would be good to go along and support  them. The team was leading the series and I am pleased to say they also won the race here in Salisbury...
Following the women's race we watched the men's race which I have to admit was much faster than the women... Having said that I would have struggled to keep up with the women anyway.....

Isabella canopy and windscreen.







On Friday we drove back over to Wimborne for my appointment with my cardiologist.
She spelled out the current situation with my Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and the risks I run if I take part in any form of competitive sport... This obviously includes sportives and audax events and she repeated the warning about not going over 85% of my max heart rate.
She has also arranged for me to have a treadmill test in September as well as counselling sessions prior to having a gene test....

While we were near Bournemouth we popped over to Automotive  Leisure with the awning airpole....
A new one will have to come from France and then be sent on to us at a campsite....it will be interesting to see how long that takes.....


Thursday, 9 May 2019

A Week of Electrical Activity......




Yes that's what it has been ....a week of electrical activity and not all of it was welcome...

Let me start with the good activity....
Today JD and I had planned to meet up for a cycle ride but the forecast weather wise was not good...indeed as I looked out of the window just after waking up it started to rain.
A quick call to JD and we had come up with another plan...I would go over to his house and try out his E-bike.
JD has been on at me for months to give the bike a quick spin and today seemed like a good opportunity as long as we could dodge the rain......

Now JD's E-bike is not your everyday model it is a top of the range bike and it is built like a tank...The bike is so tank like that JD calls it Rommel...
You can see what it looks like in the images above. It must weigh at least double what my own touring bike does and that like most tourers could not be described as light weight.

My experience on the bike today proves that it is a fun machine....before I knew it with hardly any effort on the pedals I was up to 16.5mph and that was into a head wind and that for me is it's shortcoming.....it is too easy to ride.

I didn't need to put much effort into riding it...I didn't feel that I was exercising at all and for me that spoilt the ride...
To my mind cycling is all about the simplicity of physical effort and I felt that the simple pleasure of exercise was being stolen by the bike....

Don't get me wrong...there is a place for the E-bike for certain people with physical or medical problems that still want to get out and ride but in my cycling world it's best use would be as a pacing machine to help me train faster on hills....

The ride on JD's Rommel was the fun part of this weeks 'electrical activity'.
The not so fun part occurred on Monday evening...

Anne and I had enjoyed a very nice day with a stroll in the woods doing a spot of bird watching and not a lot else.... I was planning to ride the Felt on the Tuesday so was giving it a check over when I noticed that my heart rate had increased dramatically....
It didn't seem to be dropping back down so I put on my heart monitor and it was recording a rate of 154bpm.

This last happened in 2014 and ended up with me in a hospital operating theatre......
We waited for an hour and a half and with no reduction in bpm I ended up at A&E....

The same as last time there was no Triage for me as I was taken straight through to 'majors' as it was deemed a life threatening situation... Luckily for me as I was being attended to the rate started to fall on it's own....
Anyway they decided to keep me in overnight and the following morning I saw a cardiologist who was familiar with my condition diagnosed last year which is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.

The fast heart rate is a form of atrial fibrillation which is a bit like an electrical short circuit in my heart...
After an examination and ECG it was decided that I could go home....

I asked him if I could still ride my bike to which he replied "yes no problem at all".
I then asked him should I be considering an electric bike...
he said  "a bit early for that yet, an ordinary bike will be better for you so long as you don't push things to the extreme".

One thing that I can say is that riding JD's E-bike was the more fun form of electrical activity of the two.. ..

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Ready to Ride.......

Here we have a view of my Felt Z1 all prepared and ready to ride.....
The photo was taken from inside my new Clairval EuroVent Twin Air Awning looking out of the main window on our current pitch view.....

The day after we arrived on site I took the Tifosi over to my daughter's house to store it until the autumn and to bring the Felt out of it's winter hibernation.
I then went down to Samways & Son the bike shop in Wimborne to have a new cassette fitted.

Great service as the part was fitted there and then while I waited....
As I was looking around the shop I noticed a bike that I know very well...
Indeed I have cycled alongside this bike for hundreds of miles including from Gibraltar to the UK...
It was my cycling buddy John Donoghue's touring bike that was in the shop for a major service including new chain...cassette... cables...mudguards and more....

One thing that I noticed that I really liked was some new Fizik bar tape that John had had fitted to his tourer...
As I know that the bar tape on my own tourer needs replacing plus the fact that Samways had this tape at a special price I just had to buy some too...
It was great to get out on the Felt again...it really is a lovely bike to ride and I know that I will have some great rides on it throughout this coming summer......
As I write this a new set of tyres for the Felt are winging their way to me for fitting early next week and that should be the final touch for my summer rides........



Thursday, 25 April 2019

Ready to move on.....

Tomorrow we leave our Moreton site and head just 25/30 miles to Verwood on the edge of the New Forest.
I can't believe that 25 days have gone so quickly. Mind you since we have been here we have been busy with hospital appointments.... visits here on the site from friends and family as well as picking up our new awning and our visit to the social event at Automotive Leisure.

After we get to Verwood a visit to the bike shop is needed as I want a new cassette on my Fulcrum Racing Zero wheels as I plan on storing my winter bike the Tifosi and bringing my summer bike the Felt out of it's winter hibernation....

Last year I had a new chain fitted on the Felt but didn't bother on changing the cassette which didn't appear to have much wear but that proved to be a bit of an error as the gear change wasn't perfect afterwards...nothing serious but I noticed it and decided that it was more worn than it had initially appeared.....

This will be my first visit to this particular bike shop following the closure of the shop that I have used for more than ten years....the owner of the shop decided to retire so I can't complain as he had earned a good rest and they were good enough to give me the details of this new shop (to me)which is another well established family owned concern...

After the Easter break the weather has changed with winds and wet weather forecast...
With that in mind we took down our new awning on Tuesday as there is nothing worse than packing away a wet awning...
We then put up our new Isabella Shadow Canopy to try it out...

We set it up with a 'v' shape in the middle as heavy rain was forecast that night and the 'v' set up would avoid the rain pooling....the next morning the forecast delivered and the rain didn't pool on the canopy roof just flowing down off the front as planned....

We have now taken down the canopy which takes less than 5mins to put up or take down and are ready to move on........