Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Getting Close to Nature.....

One of the things that I enjoy the most about camping in all its forms is getting close to nature....

We have only been on this trip for a couple of months but we have had close encounters with a wide range of wildlife already.

When we were in Devon we saw amongst other things a magnificent heron trying to steal fish from the lake we were overlooking from our pitch.
Then we had that adder slither across the path in front of us, so close that I could have picked it up. However none of our encounters with all the various wildlife we saw was as close as what happened the other day.....

I was sitting in the awning watching a small group of bluetits playing around in the tall hedge that seperates our pitch from a field.
The birds were making a lot of noise and seemed to be enjoying themselves flying in and out of the hedge.

All of a sudden one of the small birds flew out of the hedge, straight through one of the awning doors and then through the door of the caravan.
Once it found itself inside the caravan it seemed to panic and couldn't find the way out again. I entered the caravan myself and tried to help it towards the door and freedom but all to no avail....

In the end the only thing I could do was gently catch the little guy and then take him outside and release him again.
As I let him go again he flew off back to the hedge and appeared none the worse for his temporary capture.

Not so much getting close to nature as actually touching it........


Sunday, 24 May 2015

A Bus Ride Back in Time....

The other day Anne and I took a Bus from the site to Salisbury. For me it was a bus ride back in time. Years ago, well 1972 to be precise I worked in Salisbury. I managed a jewellery shop at the end of the street in the picture below with the archway (it's no longer there).... I would like a £ for every time I walked through that archway on the way to work...
It's odd because over the years I have been back to the city a lot of times but this was the first time that I had feelings of nostalgia.... All sorts of memories came flooding back including things that happened back then that I had forgotten all about. Maybe you have to reach a certain age before you get those types of feelings.
Anyway, Anne and I had a really enjoyable day there, even managing to spend some money.
I have to say how much easier it was to travel  there on the bus than driving there and then having the hassle of parking. Salisbury is always busy with traffic and it made it a much more relaxed trip without the car.
Sir Edward Heath, the onetime UK Prime Minister used to own a house overlooking the Cathedral green... you can see a photo of it below. Nowadays it is open to the public on certain days of the week.
When I lived in the city one of my friends was a stonemason working on refurbishment of the Cathedral..He used to say that the work would never end because as soon as one section had been replaced something else would require attention.....a never ending job in fact.
Since we have been at this campsite we have been lucky again with the weather which has been good.....
Yesterday Jon Joynes came over from his home in Yeovil and spent the afternoon with us.
Jon was one of the 10 countries in 10 days cycling team back in 2013 and it was nice to see him for a natter and catch up.
Well, tomorrow my daughter and her family are coming over to the campsite for the day so I better go and prepare myself for my grandsons :-)






Thursday, 21 May 2015

Settled in at Sixpence Handley

We are now fully installed at our new location.
We have got a nice corner pitch on one of the quieter fields on the site. This is a good thing as this coming weekend the local group of the camping and caravan club has a three day country and western event taking place here in a huge marquee on the rally field.
Talking of large tents.... yesterday Peter Calcutt, one of my friends from the Backpackers Club popped over and spent the day with us..... while he was here he helped us put up the awning....it all went pretty well, not surprising really with a nice secluded corner pitch with plenty of high hedges offering wind protection and three of us working on it. Mind you even Peter mentioned that it was a lot of work getting the structure up.
As I told you in my previous post the internet is not good at this site... I'm aware that the location indicator on my map doesn't appear to have moved. Unfortunately I won't be able to correct it till I get a better internet connection and can use my computer. I have made this post using my old phone as I have a blogger app on it......my newer phone doesn't have a blogger app and I can't find one that will work on it...
Hope to post another update soon...


Monday, 18 May 2015

Time to Move On...

Yes it is time to move on again.....

We have been at this location for three weeks and have enjoyed our stay very much....
However the whole purpose of this trip is to move on every so often and three weeks is a good chunk of time to spend in just one place.....

Looking at the pitch that Eva is on you can tell that we have been here for longer than a few days..... The grass is growing up and around Eva as can be seen in the image below...



Eva's Pitch....Long grass all around...Result of a three week stay.
 Tim the owner has been around with his super sit on mower and the site looks neat and tidy....apart from around and under Eva.
I wouldn't mind betting that as soon as we move off site he will be down here with his mower in order to tidy the pitch up.

Would we come back to this site for another stay?
The answer to that question is a big YES....
It is a really good campsite with first class facilities. 

If I had to find a slight negative to the site it would only be that it isn't possible to go for a walk direct from the site itself...you need to drive a couple of miles up the road before you have access to a footpath as well as somewhere to leave the car.....
If the road wasn't so narrow and was safer to walk along I would be quite happy to walk to the nearest footpath in preference to having to drive....

We have to go back to Dorset as both Anne and I have doctors appointments and other business in the area..... 
We don't want to go too close to Bournemouth so we have decided that we will have a couple of weeks at one of my favourite sites in the North Dorset village of Sixpenny Handley....

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I have camped there on many occasions with members of the Backpackers Club.
While we are there we are hoping that friends will come out and visit/ camp/walk or go for a bike ride with us.......

The only drawback with the site at Sixpenny Handley is that they don't have on site internet access, so over the next couple of weeks my posts to this blog might be a bit patchy.....

The thing that both Anne and I will miss from our current location is the great view over the small lake that we look out on from our awning......


We will miss this view.


Friday, 15 May 2015

Gangs....

Yesterday the weather was pretty awful....it rained almost solidly for the whole day.....
Looking out of the caravan at 0730hrs I made the decision that it was going to be a 'laze around the caravan' day.

At some point during the morning I found myself watching a discussion programme on television about gangs on housing estates....
Like most discussions of this type, nothing that was said was really new but it did enable me to waste an hour of my 'lazy day'.

Anyway, the programme got me thinking about the gang that we have been bothered with here on the campsite... Not a housing estate gang but certainly a camping site gang.......

Almost from the moment we arrived here, these guys have approached us whenever we have left the safety of Eva the Eriba and demanded food etc.....
There are four of them and they show no fear at all .... If we don't hand over what they want on demand they very noisily start to cut up rough......

They hang around outside our awning waiting for us to dare step outside.... If there was another way out of the caravan we would use that....
We have spent a lot of time peering out of the caravan checking where they are before making a dash to the car or the shower block. We have been mugged on a regular basis since we have been here.

Luckily I have managed to get a photo of these guys...not a good one as I had to take it through the window of the awning......
However things could get worse..... It looks like they are getting reinforcements and that the gang is about to get bigger.... a lot bigger....

I've posted the picture of this terror crew below, also an image of the latest recruits......



The lads of the gang waiting for us outside the awning....

The latest recruits to the gang......
Sorry about the poor quality of these images..but it is difficult to take reasonable shots when you are living in fear...LOL


Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Would you believe it.....

Since my last post when I mentioned the Trailer Tent another one has arrived.....

The first one just stayed for the weekend and moved out on Monday morning.
A day later this new one arrived and pitched in exactly the same spot....


The latest Trailer Tent arrival....
 Probably due to a slight change in the wind direction over the past couple of days, he has chosen to pitch it at a different angle than the previous trailer tent, but I can assure you it is on the exact same pitch.....
Until this trip I had not seen one of these on a site for a good few years and so had assumed that they were no longer popular..... Maybe I was wrong...!

This latest one seems to be of a higher quality than the last one, with tougher material and more camping goodies attached to it.... 
It even appears to have a plastic coated material roof whereas the last one was just plain canvas all over...

As you can tell I am quite fascinated by these units, mainly because it is the only type of camping unit that I haven't owned.....

The owners of this one are a retired couple who are keen cyclists.... Their tow car also happens to be a CRV similar to my own and they carry their bikes on a rack on top of the car....

NB: I've just had a twitter message from @LukeBurstow to point out that these are not technically trailer tents but folding campers... Apparently if the bottom half looks like a caravan and the canvas (other than an awning) doesn't peg to the ground then it is a folding camper.... Thanks for that interesting information Luke.
A closer view of the latest Trailer Tent to pitch on site....

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Just Arrived on Site....

Last night this unit arrived on site....

Trailer Tent- The Latest Arrival
 Yes...  a trailer tent.. 
It's the ideal compromise for those who cannot make up their minds between a caravan and a tent.... This unit saves you having to make that difficult decision.....
Bottom half is a caravan..Top half is a tent.... The best of both worlds I suppose..

This particular trailer tent has a kitchen on board and has electric hook-up for lighting, water pumps etc..

It's obviously easier to move around to get it lined up on your pitch than a caravan (without a motor mover) would be... It is also lighter and therefore doesn't require a large vehicle to tow it....

When we were looking at all the options that were available before we ordered Eva the Eriba, we looked at trailer tents, but decided that it was far to big a compromise to make on all the things we required of a camping unit for the sort of touring that we had in mind....

These aren't a cheap option either, as a good quality brand new trailer tent can cost you as much as a good pre-owned starter to mid range caravan......

Back in the late seventies and early eighties you could see quite a few trailer tents on UK campsites but they don't appear to be as popular nowadays......

Moving on to our weather..........
The really strong wind gusts have finally given way to lighter winds and today the weather has been really pleasant with the sun shining and a much milder temperature....

Since we have been at this site I have had little chance for any bike riding due to all the rain and wind. In fact with all the bad weather I decided to take the bike off the front rack and bring it into the awning  for a bit of bike cleaning and general maintenance.... 

Although this awning can be a real pain to erect as I have already explained, it is a very useful bit of kit providing us with a 'conservatory' like space in which we can sit and take in the view as well as a useful 'garage' for bikes!! 
Tiffany the Tifosi in the awning during cleaning

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Extremes......

Since we started this trip about six weeks ago we have had some real extremes of weather....
Our first few weeks gave us some stunning sunny weather, more like the middle of summer than April....
The weather started to change when we left our last site to come to our current location.....
Since then we have been plagued by strong winds and rain.....
Over the past couple of days the weather has deteriorated  even further with winds gusting up to fifty mph and torrential rain added to the mix as well....

.In a previous post I highlighted the difficulty in getting the awning erected in the windy conditions..... In these fifty mph gusty conditions that we are now experiencing we are praying that it stays erected.....

To be fair to it, the awning seems to be standing up to the battering it has been getting quite well..... Yes it shakes....it rattles...it creaks and it jumps around... but it has stayed up....

Overnight two of the main pegs were shaken loose by the wind and three of the small pegs that hold the wind skirt down were also pulled out, but the structure itself seems to be withstanding the battering it's getting.

I thought long and hard about the type of awning to buy when I was looking at all the various options and in the end decided to go for a high end traditional style....I am now glad that I spent the extra cash as it seems to be paying off....

The awning is normally supplied with a steel frame but for extra you could have a lightweight flexible fiberglass frame......I had been advised by a number of people to go for the latter, as I was told because it flexes in the wind more than the steel it withstands adverse conditions better and this it has certainly done whilst we have been on this campsite...It is also a lot lighter and less noisy than the steel version.....

Below I have shown some various shots of the awning structure.....
The latest forecast is predicting that over the course of this evening the gusts and wind strength will die down, so hopefully the structure in the images below will still be standing tomorrow.....

Inside the Awning Showing Roof Poles 

Inside Awning Showing Connection to the Caravan

Centre Pole Bracket Above Awning Main Window

Awning Interior View Showing Draught Pad Fitted Against Caravan Wall 

Awning Exterior View Showing Storm Staps

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Paying the Price.....

Since we have been at this new location the weather seems to have been getting steadily worse. We seem to be paying the price for all the stunning weather we enjoyed at the start of our trip....

This weekend it is a bank holiday and true to form for a UK bank holiday the forecast was not good.....
Heavy rain and very strong winds is what we are currently getting.....

I'm sure the campsite owners would have been expecting to be at least half full for this bank holiday, but as I look out of my caravan as I type this, it appears that only three caravans and two motor homes our currently on site and occupied.... 
There was a large family sized tunnel tent pitched up on Friday night but he packed up and left the site this morning...... 

The bonus for us of course is that we have all the peace and quiet we could wish for.......sitting out in the awning reading the paper this morning and watching the Tour de Yorkshire on the television this afternoon....

I won't show you pictures of the pouring rain as we all know what that looks like.....
but here are a couple of shots taken earlier on in the week.....

The first one can be seen at the entrance to the car park at Hatherleigh cattle and sheep market and highlights the fact that this is very much a farming area.....

The second image is in a pedestrian area in Okehampton.... The seats are made from a couple of small mill stones and you would be forgiven for thinking that they would be uncomfortable to sit on. 
Well let me tell you that I sat on one for a good ten minutes and it was surprisingly comfortable...I think that the angle the stones are set goes a long way to making  them as comfortable as they are.....
At entrance to Hatherleigh Cattle/Sheep Market Car Park

At Okehampton - Seating Comfort.

Cabin Fever .......

 Sorry for this week's posting being three days late but like the rest of the UK last weekend saw the arrival of storm Ciara and our in...