28th Sept 2021
So… it has been a while since our last blog and for good reason. Our travels have slowed down over the last 6-7 weeks partly due to long term planning and partly with late changes.
It was time to catch up with connecting with the Somerset/Gloucestershire area families following a brilliant and exciting spring and summer.
We were sad to leave the Lake District after what was our favourite location so far and having enjoyed some of the best weather anyone could hope for in that part of the country.
1st August and we were hammering (65mph!) down the M6 and M5 into north Devon with a coffee and cake stop at Michelle folks along the way. We had a booking for daughters x2, sons-in-law x2, granddaughters x2 and grandsons x3 at the Riverside Campsite, South Molton for four nights. A joint effort of accommodation with the gang in an eight person tent, me and Michelle in Ruby joined by a motley collection of grandkids (switched each night). The joys of spending two nights with twin boys -11 months old-overnight in a large cot in a tiny motorhome was officially ‘exciting’ !
And I tell you what.. it was totally brilliant. The weather was kind, plenty to do, and fun evenings sitting outside playing cards (Uno!) till midnight trying not to disturb the neighbours too much. It was a great way to spend quality time with the gang in a relaxed environment. A trip out to the Milky Way theme park was also fun and gave us the chance to babysit the twins whilst everyone else went on the rides…! Ha! The site itself was very disappointing, dirty and untidy but we pushed through it and had a memorable time.
5th August and we pitched up at a pop-up site for three nights at the football club at beautiful Bourton-on-the-Water.
The weather was less good but the site was close into the town so we had a good chance to look round. Had a terrific lunch at the Rose Tree restaurant on the Sunday which was a real treat. Don’t know about you but often times cafes and restaurants are only average at best and often disappoint. This place was worthy of recommendation.
Then we decided to head to the hills.. well not very high to be honest, but we wanted to wild camp again so we headed over to Rodborough Common and stayed a couple of nights nestled into one of the many car parks on the hilltop overlooking Stroud and surrounding valleys. Actually a great place to stay over as long as you don’t mind the risk of a Highland bull or two rubbing against the motorhome at any time of night or day trying to scratch an itch….This gave us the chance to do what we enjoy the most…. walking up and down hills!
One of the things that irritate both of us whilst out walking is the dog owners’ habit of allowing their dog to jump up at you and put muddy paws and saliva all over your clothing. Well, as we arrived back at Ruby following a long walk we discovered a camper van parked next to us. Fine. No probs. But her dog then ran right up to us slavering, growling, barking and generally being aggressive. As we stepped back and protested the owner said ‘sorry, I assumed you were dog lovers’… Why? !Why would she assume we were dog lovers ? And if we were, would we really enjoy her snarling Fido trying to eat us..?!
A few words were had including ‘If I loved dogs I would have one rather than sharing yours..’ however we made up later on as we were going to be spending the night on adjoining bits of gravel. We often feel that we are obliged to have a dog because we have a motorhome..!
We then had a couple of days to spare so we revisited Portishead and tried successfully to park up for a night or two at the recreational Lake Grounds. Lots of grass nearby, view of the sea and the shipping lanes plus a public toilet through the daytime nearby. Turns out that we would be spending many nights at this location over coming weeks. Very convenient as it is close to Trina and ready access to the storage at the garage at our (rented out) house.
It was transpiring that a large chunk of photography work was becoming available in the weeks ahead. I had offered to take on some Police award ceremony photos in Portishead plus we had been offered many University graduation photo events in the area. Me taking snaps and Michelle as Sales Manager. This seemed ideal as the summer weather was coming to a close and we could make a bit of money to keep us on the road. So we decided to book quite a busy schedule of work for September and October. Thought we were supposed to be retired.! Most ‘road trip’ travellers take on fruit/veg picking to keep the finances coming in but we are too old for all that bending down stuff..! But hey, we both love photography work so why not.. This meant we would have to plan to stay round the South West for a couple of months and hold back on the travels. What a perfect combination though. Suits us – though we do very quickly get itchy feet again.
First off though we had an appointment to house-sit for a few weeks. Wow. A real bed. Big shower. Peace and quiet and loads of space. Now don’t get me wrong, we love our lifestyle. Three Year Road Trip. Freedom. Fresh air. But it was sooo nice to just stretch out for a while. Mind you we were still busy. Hosting family members, mowing lawns, feeding birds/fish and giving Ruby a good wash and polish etc but it was a nice change.
This was unfortunately shorter than planned due to the knock on effect of Covid restrictions on others so we stepped away from BIG and back into COSY with Ruby. Once again we headed off to the Lake Grounds at Portishead on 24th August with photography jobs in the forefront of our next several weeks.
27th August we trundled over to the Gower Peninsula in South Wales to the Pitton Cross camp site alongside some of the best beaches on the country including Three Cliffs and Rhosilli.
Weirdly.. as we pulled into the site Michelle and I suddenly realised that we had been there before… Four years earlier we visited with our tent… spent one night then scuttled back home.! There was torrential rain and stormy winds which had no intention of reducing. Thankfully we had chance to enjoy the site this time. Lots of places to walk and more importantly lots of places to swim in the sea.. Trina joined us for our five nights here with the first three being terrific weather for lounging on the beach and playing in the sea. Can’t beat it. We did have some slightly troublesome neighbours on a nearby pitch. Large group of Swansea’s finest 20+ year olds partying loudly. Thankfully that had sufficient respect to fall asleep by 11 p.m. (having being drinking since 11 a.m.- bless them.!)
The next bit of camping/work was pretty awesome. We had been booked for eight days of graduation photography at a well know university campus near Bath. So I contacted the nice Estates Manager on site saying ‘we are photographers and we are travelling in a motorhome, will there be any problems parking? It’s quite big’. She then says ‘that won’t be a problem, do you just want to park or do you want to camp overnight..?’ Wow.. sounds interesting. Anyway she tells us we can park in a remote tarmac car park for the whole period though there will be a £10 daily charge via the automated Justpay system. No electric and no facilities but hey. Looked good. We turned up on 2nd September having collected my photography kit and spoke with security on site. ‘Yes, there is no problem with the car park. And there are toilets and showers alongside that you can use’ and they directed us there. Bigger Wow. Anyway it then turns out that this car park overlooked the green hills and fields for miles around, was next to a walled garden with picnic tables and sun brollies and the toilet block was new, clean and with lovely hot water. AND….. the car parking charges were suspended as it was Graduation Week. Blimey. How bloody brilliant. ! Don’t want to get over excited but.. the grounds of the Uni contain beautiful gardens and a lake with herons, kingfishers, cormorants and more. An absolute gem of a week was had. We both loved it.
Obviously. We had a day off on the Sunday so took the opportunity to take the bus straight from the campus into Bath city centre for the day and Sunday lunch at Browns restaurant just alongside the cathedral.
Oh! we had to take some photos of the graduates too but that was also relaxed and enjoyable. Win win. As you can tell, we had a good time.
Following weekend involved another couple of days at one of the University of West of England (UWE) campuses which involved us parking once again in Portishead for a few great days. Not much of a road trip here then!
15th September we booked four nights at West End camp site in Weston super Mare for our next gig at the Winter Gardens over the weekend. Don’t bother with West End site. It’s a shocker. And still cost £21 per night. Ancient, untidy, dirty… yukky. The toilet cleaner was at least 75 years old and carried out his duties wearing his old brogue shoes, ‘Sunday best’ trousers and dirty Arran jumper. There is no way he could even bend below the waist let alone scrub toilets.! ‘I live on site and I only pay half the rent in exchange for cleaning up once a day’ he tells me. Eeergh. But we did spend a few fun hours grand-parenting one evening.
Thankfully we moved on to Home Farm In Burnham on Sea which cost £22 per night, was very clean, modern, good surroundings, bar and restaurant..AND free use of the indoor pool.. A much better site for three nights. Mind you all was not perfect.. I managed to crack my head into the poolside wall whilst doing the front crawl. Forgot to look up..! Very nearly knocked myself out and left a huge bump and pulled a large slice of scalp off. Gawd did that hurt..! Ruined my good looks.!
This also gave us the opportunity to meet up with some family and friends and treat ourselves to a well overdue date-night Indian meal in Burnham. It was strange for me to be back into an area I knew so well, having lived in Burnham for 23 years or so and having been away for over 13 years. We certainly bumped into several ‘old’ friends and acquaintances in this short visit. Even managed to show Michelle the delights of climbing up Brent Knoll. What a great place to get superb views all the way from South Wales, Minehead, Glastonbury and a whole lot more round the 360º viewpoint.
Due to another Police photography job we spent yet another couple of nights at the Lake Grounds in Portishead. People must think we are permanent fixtures with the amount of time we spend there. It works a treat and does not get in anyones way (we hope) and we manage to sleep really well mostly.
By the 24th September we were tired out from all this work….! so decided to go abroad (!) and headed off for a break to Brecon in Wales for five nights booked at the Brecon Beacons Camping and Motorhome site. Another good site with clean modern facilities and surprisingly busy for late September. Our planning was not that brilliant however – it looked on the map as if we were camped directly below Pen-y-Fan mountain so we could step out of the site and climb the hills. Ooops. Turns out we would have to walk 3.5 miles just to get to the bottom of the mountain….! [Did I mention before how poor my map reading skills were……] This was quite a big problem as we were not keen on taking Ruby out to fight for space in rough car parks on a busy weekend. We decided to take a long walk along the nearby canal instead. Not nearly as interesting or challenging so we took the decision to take a ‘long-cut’ back across some hills. Far too challenging this time. Exhausted by the time I had accidentally directed us up and down several hills unnecessarily. Still… it was a day out.
It was a bit of a surprise on arriving into Wales. So far behind England being released from Covid restrictions. Got told off loads of times for not using masks. ! Makes you appreciate how much we have moved on at home.
As forecast, the weather then took a turn after a couple of days. Autumn has now fully arrived and I am writing this (28th Sept) whilst it is raining and raining and raining some more outside. To be fair, this is the first long bout of rain we have met since May so we are not complaining. It therefore makes this the ideal time to publish this blog and finish off for now. We are off to another chapter tomorrow morning which involves more work…. we are taking Ruby back into our storage site in Weston super Mare area for the first time in ten months whilst we spend time in a hotel …(unfortunately only a scruffy Travelodge (other hotel groups are available)) whilst we spend a week taking photos of University graduates in Cirencester. Then Southampton followed by Plymouth and then Bournemouth. They say never work with children and animals…. well we would like to add students to that list…!
Mind you…. this is supposed to be a Road Trip… !
Did you know…. The Brecon Beacons are a mountain range in South Wales In a narrow sense, the name refers to the range of Old Red Sandstone peaks which lie to the south of Brecon. Sometimes referred to as “the central Beacons” they include South Wales’ highest mountain, Pen Y Fan. The range forms the central section of the Brecon Beacons National Park, a designation which also encompasses ranges both to the east and the west of “the central Beacons”. This much wider area is also commonly referred to as “the Brecon Beacons”, and it includes the Black Mountains to the east.