Sunday, 21 May 2017

Growler and Cheddar

Thursday 18 May 2017
It's ages since I wrote a blog post.  We've had a few short trips away this year, mainly house viewings on Anglesey. The weather wasn't great for these and there wasn't much to blog about.  But we're currently pitched up at the Cornish Farm Camping Park, within sound of the M5, about 2 miles from Taunton.  We're here to have a Strikeback Growler Alarm fitted to Nido tomorrow by Van Bitz, which is right next to the campsite; the fitting includes a free night here. Having researched heavily, this alarm system comes highly recommended and the service appears to be excellent, so we're hoping for an easy fitting tomorrow.

Our van fridge has been playing up for a while; firstly it was struggling when on gas, then wouldn't cool down on electric. In fact on one early trip this year, it was 18'C in the fridge and only 14'C in the van! The fridge was secondhand when fitted, so we decided to replace it with the latest version - a Thetford N3112. The fitting was fine but when loading up today we noticed the door wasn't closing properly at the bottom.   A quick trip back to A&E Leisure seemed to suggest the door is warped.  These fridges don't come cheap so I've emailed Thetford to see how we go about getting it sorted.  Luckily A&E Leisure are a Thetford accredited maintenance shop, so I'm hoping I won't face a battle to get it sorted...time will tell!

The M6/M5 drive down was relatively painless; it helped being Thursday rather than the start of the weekend. Cornish Farm is an immaculately kept site, with gravel hardstandings and great facilities. We checked in with the warden, then pitched up, kettle on and a cuppa sat in the sunshine. The expected rain appeared later so dinner was inside.  But early evening, we're sat out again, albeit it's quite chilly - will this year ever warm up!? I think a cuppa and then an early night, ready for an 0830 start over at Van Bitz. 

Friday 19 May 2017
We were both awake early - like 0330-0400 early, but we were in bed by 9 last night. Breakfasted and unplugged, we moved across to the Van Bitz area, where our alarm fitting was quickly and efficiently explained. Admin done we walked along the footpath, through the woods and housing estates, past the schools and colleges, into Taunton town centre; the sun was bright and warm. As we popped out into the main shopping area, we saw a large park on our left, so enjoyed a half hour walk in the peace of the morning. After that we had a wander around the shops, buying some salt and pepper grinders plus a couple of plastic containers. There are some lovely old buildings in Taunton and we spent a good hour in the free museum. We came across an authentic Portugese café - they even had live Portugese TV. A coffee, tea, two bacalao croquettes and a couple of custard tarts were enjoyed, all the while imagining we could be doing this in the real Portugal in six months time!

Cathy is finally settling in to 'dropping out', now hardly thinking about work, except for feeling sorry for her partner. We found a nice little family sandwich shop and took our purchases back to the park to sit in the sun. Soon the rain started so we moved to the wooden shelters, listening to the heavy thunder, which didn't come to much. But on the walk back to the workshop, just shy of the M5 bridge, the heavens opened and we sheltered under our brolly, under the trees for a good 10 minutes as the torrential rain bounced off the roads and overflowed the drains.

Our alarm fit was done.  We were given a comprehensive briefing, including a demo of the ear-splitting 'Wail' alarm - even my old eardrums vibrated! I strongly recommend Van Bitz for efficient, friendly, professional service. Handover done and payment made, we left the site and drove through torrential rain to the M5, heading north. Driving out of the rain we were soon passing Cheddar village and into the Witheridge Farm CL opposite the CMC site. We sat outside in the sunshine with a brew, with the free-range chickens hanging around to nosey at the new arrivals. During our meal, one even hopped up into the van for a look around! Although the sun was out the wind was chilly, so after clearing up, we read inside the van, ready for another early night. We walked quite some distance today in strong sunshine (our scalps and foreheads are feeling it) and are ready for a couple of nights here. Tomorrow we plan to walk around the top of the Cheddar Gorge. We considered visiting the caves, but at a cost of £33 and not great reviews, we'll give it a miss. We had a text from the estate agent yesterday about another possible viewing of our house on Sunday but have heard nothing since. This is a common theme; people get in touch to view the house then don't respond when given dates and times - annoying 'tyre kickers'.

Saturday 20 May 2017
It's rained hard most of the afternoon and is still at it into the evening. We were awake early again, so up at 0600 and off on our walk around the top of Cheddar Gorge; great idea as we pretty much had it to ourselves. The first part of the walk was along the road through a Blackpool-esque line of grockle shops, ice cream parlours and fast food joints. The ascent was through ancient woodland and, after a couple of stops to listen to the birdsong (aka get our breath back!), we emerged into warm sunshine. It wasn't long before we dropped down to the road and up the other side.  This time though we walked into a chilly wind and spitting rain, so quickly descended - past a herd of wild goats - back to the village, where we sat at a picnic table with our sandwiches and flask, huddled against the wind and rain - all very British! 

The rest of the afternoon has been spent inside, reading, watching the chickens and blackbirds feeding on the grass and listening to the rain - not much choice on this last point. The 'van chicken' ran back over to perch on the step and peck at my shoes before we distracted it with some red pepper peelings. 

We'll head home tomorrow but not before a leisurely breakfast, as the house-viewing tyre kicker has been confirmed as such.  Why get in touch to arrange a viewing and then ignore all attempts to be contacted to arrange it?  Right, I'm off to do the washing up and get the kettle on. 

Sunday 21 May 2017
At last, a sunny morning.  Although we're camped just outside a Somerset village on a Sunday, it feels like Monday morning rush hour in a large, busy town or city. The road traffic started at 0545 and has been continuous since then - car, after car.  Where are they all heading so early on a Sunday? But with the sun shining at least we managed breakfast sat outside in the warm - the first time this year.

Today it's exactly 35 years since the British forces landed at San Carlos Bay in the Falkland Islands. There's been a several tweets from shipmates and it brought a lot of it flooding back.  It's been interesting to hear the views and memories of others who were in the same ship, but with different jobs. In particular, one of our Lynx helicopter pilots has provided a completely different outlook, with his involvement in the direct action, rather than me who was down below, helping deal with the damage, fires and floods. We lost a few ships that day and far too many people. 

To those still - and forever - on patrol...Rest in Peace Shipmates. 

Pitched up at Cornish Farm - lovely campsite


A welcoming committee at Witheridge Farm CL


Climbing to the top of Cheddar Gorge







Either Cathy has shrunk in the rain or they have big gates around here!

Lovely view across Cheddar Gorge




Wild goats




5 comments:

  1. Know that walk. Last time we did it there was still snow on the ground.

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  2. Nice to read your both well and still moving forward with your plans. Give my and Jacqui regards to Cathy.

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    1. Thanks Neil. Hope you're both well.

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  3. Hi Paul and Cathy,

    I have just found your blog, via Motorhome Fun, its very good. We visited Cornish Farm in February this year and had a solar panel fitted at Vanbitz - great site and great service.

    Another coincidence is we live in Norfolk ( not natives though!) and are currently on a campsite in Thetford Forest.

    Looking forward to your next post.

    Paul & Lynda

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  4. Enjoy Thetford - I'd like to go back there to visit the Dad's Army museum!

    Paul

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