Saturday 22nd May 2021
Well, it's very hard to know where to start with our continuing story because it's been 14 months since our last post and I can't quite believe where all that time has gone. Maybe I should start by counting our blessings because throughout the time that Covid 19 has dominated everyone's lives both ourselves and all our family members have avoided illness and much of the distress it has caused to others.
If you've read our previous post you'll know that it was only by the skin of our teeth that we managed to get back into England (following our winter sojourn in Spain) just before the 1st Lock-down took hold, and since then, other than three little 'outings' we've resided at Butterley Bank Camping and Caravan Club Certified Site. When we first arrived we were still living full time in our Motor Home 'T4rdis2' but our 1st outing on June 3rd (as Lock-down was easing) was a nip back down to Somerset to swap it for our brand new Lunar Clubman Caravan. We had to make the round trip all in one day because at that stage all the campsites were still closed, but our journey was well worth it because the layout and comfort in the caravan has met our needs very well. However, saying that is not with any disrespect to T4rdis2 - we absolutely loved the freedom our motorhomes provided over the 5 year period that we had them, it was just that we were ready for a change and we wanted to do that without giving up our nomadic lifestyle!
And that wasn't the only major change we've made during the past months. While we had T4rdis2 we'd regularly explored a huge expanse of Europe on our trusty Raleigh Motus e-bikes but their near 50 kg combined weight and their large dimensions made them nigh on impossible to carry on the back of the car especially while towing the caravan. Additionally, for a while John had been longing to change back to a light weight racing style bike, and after a fair bit of research he eventually settled for a Boardman gravel bike which he is extremely happy with, but that left me with a bit of a conundrum as to what I should have.
But enough about that, I need to get back to our story! Our second 'little outing' was for a bit longer - in fact it was form the end of July to almost the end of August because by then restrictions were being reduced and we were once again allowed to travel! However, at that time we'd already very firmly decided we would be staying in England for the foreseeable future, so with that in mind, and also the fact that a lot of seaside places would be very busy because of the school hols we planned a route that would take in what we hoped would be 5 quiet sites in inland South Wales and Central England.Erwlon Caravan and Camping near Llandovery and although I can clearly recall the site I'm finding it difficult to remember how we spent our time there! Therefore, John has consulted the oracle of Google and reliably informs me that we climbed Craig Clyngwyn, visited Llandovery and spent some time in the Brecon Beacons. However, I do remember the Knight in Shining Armour! He stands in front of the ruins of Llandovery Castle which is a thirteenth century Grade ll listed building that occupies a knoll overlooking the the River Towy on one side and part of Llandovery town on the other
Our next stop was at was at The Old Station Motorhome and Caravan Club site in Moorhapton near Hereford which was closed to visitors due to the Covid restrictions. However, our friends Gail and Kev just happen to be Stewards there, and with the blessing of the club they were allowed to have visitors so we spent 3 lovely days in there company and enjoyed some very convivial outings, lots of feasting and of course plenty of 🍷🍷.
Then it was on to Eastnor Castle where we stayed in their Deer Park for 5 boiling hot nights! The site is set over 2 huge fields and we could just pick our spot and pitch anywhere, and even though it was very basic (no facilities and no EHU) the space and tranquillity suited us just fine.
From our pitch we also had fantastic views of Eastnor Castle (which we visited) and there were also several walking paths that enabled us to climb out of the valley for magnificent views over the surrounding countryside.
Chipping Norton Caravan and Camping Club Site came next and while we were there we visited quite a few of the Cotswold's villages, but if I'm honest it wasn't one of our favorite spots because the hordes had descended probably due to the school hols. However, we did take the time to visit The Diddly Squat Farm Shop which is owned by the infamous Jeremy Clarkson (latterly of Top Gear) - but as there was Diddly Squat on the shelves we refrained from handing over any of our hard earned dosh and left empty handed!
Then finally our little 'holiday' was completed at Eastfield Lodge CCC near Mablethorpe which turned out to be one of the best Certified Locations we've stayed on. The site was immaculate and the owners extremely friendly, and the icing on the cake was a visit from our daughter Sarah, her husband Paul and of course our grandson Thomas. We picnicked on the beach, splashed in the sea and built sand castles, but alas, they couldn't come back to the van with us because the Covid restrictions didn't allow any visitors on site.
But it was well worth it! That part of the coast is called The Tin Coast and the famed Crown Engine Houses cling to the cliffs and form part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage site. It was also here where parts of Poldark were filmed, and while we were there we learnt that the mine had produced 14,500 tons of tin, 20,000 tons of copper ore and 1,500 tons of refined arsenic, and apparently it was a submarine mine with shafts reaching 570 metres in depth and it extended nearly half a mile out to sea!
But then after enjoying 14 days of all that this area of Cornwall had to offer this little jaunt sadly also came to an abrupt end because the camp site we were staying on closed for winter at the end of October and the one we were planning to go to was in an elevated spot right on the coast . At that time the weather warnings were predicted to bring in storm force potentially damaging winds, and in addition, Boris's pending lock-down (that would come into force on 5th November) loomed over us so we decided to high-tale it home to our safe little spot at Butterley Bank.
And once we were back the lock-down induced another huge change for me and that occurred just before Christmas 2020 when I did something that I'd said I'd never do! I came out of my blissful retirement status and went back to work😕!
I really don't do very well when my time isn't well occupied, and because the Lock-down restrictions had confined us almost entirely to our little home my sanity suffered and my wonderful long suffering husband 💞 was bearing the brunt of my sulkiness. Also, at about that time there was a huge recruitment drive to support the vaccination programme so I resurrected my 40 year nursing career, re registered onto the temporary Nursing and Midwife Council register and applied for a job as a vaccinator . My application was successful and I was added to the Derby Community Nursing Bank, and what was initially planned as a part time job soon turned into a full time + one 💉💉💉😂.
So with just a short break over Christmas I continued to work mostly at Derby Arena's Mass Vaccination site until the beginning of May, and then we had another 9 days looking after John's Mum before setting off on our present 'holiday', in Norfolk. We choose Norfolk because the terrain is mostly flat, and as I mentioned earlier, my much longed for new e-bike is still in limbo so at the mo I'm having to 'manage' with my old mountain bike!Strumpshaw CCC Site after a very easy 4 hour run, and as is often our habit, we found ourselves in the middle of a very quiet and sparsely populated field that has only the bear minimum😂 of facilities! Toilets (but we wont be using them), EHU and water and that's about it, but we're certainly quite happy here because we're surrounded by fields that are home to some lovely horses along with lots of old trees, and there's also plenty of wild life that includes squirrels, rabbits, deer, pheasants and a beautiful if rather noisy peacock.
Since we've been here we've mostly been shower dodging but other than last Friday when it poured for most of the day (and we had a duvet day) we've managed to get out and about.
On Monday we drove to Caister then abandoned the car and toddled over sand dunes and paths all the way into Yarmouth where we picnicked by the beach before about turning and trekking back. However, it has to be said we weren't overly impressed because the razzmatazz and tat of busy sea side towns doesn't really float our boat! But if I had to think of something good to say about it 😕 'the chips 😋 that accompanied out picnic were very nice as was the 🌞 sunshine 😎 that was with us for most of the way'😂.
We also found out that this area has more than twice as many as the 690 species that inhabit London Zoo! The info boards informed us that there are more than 1500 different insects, spiders, beetles, flies, snails, butterflies and worms that jump, creep, fly, crawl and swim in the dark dank waters that we walked over.
While we were there we also managed to spot a Hobby Hawk, and a another huge hawk that we couldn't identify, a couple of grey herons, several swans, lots of greylag geese and an assortment of ducks that included mallards, shell ducks and several great crested greebs. And in addition to all that there were loads of little birds high up in the trees that amused us with their songs.
Thursday saw our first outing on our bikes for many months, and because I was relying on peddle power and not e-power I could only manage about 14 miles in all😓! We didn't find any hills but there were one or two long upward sloping stretches that sapped my reserves, and although I'm sure John could have gone much further it was a good job we didn't because by the time we got back I was absolutely knackered. However, having said that we had a pleasant and interesting ride for our first outing. We left the camp site and headed for the village of Cantley which lies on the north bank of the River Yare and lies within the Broads Special Protection Area. Apparently the area is very rich in wild life, and it's other claim to fame is the 'British Sugar' sugar beet factory that is one of only four factories in the UK responsible for processing most of our sugar.
And that brings us onto Friday but on that day rain stopped play!
Saturday saw us out on the local fens again for a spot more 'twitching', and we weren't disappointed because along with lots of other birds we managed to spot a large white heron mooching about in the reeds.
Later we visited a local farm shop and treated ourselves to some rather expensive fillet steak (along with quite a few other goodies) and then we had to complete the more boring task of food shopping for the next few days.
So that just leaves Sunday to tell you about, and on that day we decided to take our bikes out again, but this time John tried to find a flatter route for me. He chose Marriott's Way which is a 26 mile long bridleway that opened back in 1991 and which follows the routes of two Victorian Railway lines that linked Norwich via Reepham to Aylsham and beyond. However, 26 miles there and back (52 in total) would have been far beyond our capabilities in one day so the idea was to do a 10 mile stretch starting from Aylsham and then save the other half for later.
In the end this also proved to be the prettier route so even though our day didn't quite turn out as planned we still enjoyed it, and I'm really glad to say I managed it much better than our first outing!
Anyway, I think that's quite enough rambling for now and I'll try very hard not to leave it quite so long before I update our story next time.
Bye for now 😘