25th April – 1st May
I slept well though Dave was a bit restless. We were lucky to have reasonably calm seas with only a little swell and the boat was going in the same direction as the swell, so quite a pleasant journey. A bit of rain and wind kept us off the top deck so most of the day was spent reading and surfing the net. We arrived in Portsmouth at 8.30pm and after a wait of about 20 minutes we were free to drive off, then we hit customs! That was a wait of another 30 minutes before we were able to get on the motorway and head to Winchester for the night.
A great nights sleep and we woke to clear blue skies and the sun shining although that didn’t last with dark clouds and a cold wind blowing. We decided to walk into town anyway and headed along the Itchen river into town. We had both forgotten how pretty Winchester is and spent a couple of hours just wandering through the High Street and visiting some of the historic sites. We came home for lunch before heading up to St Catherine’s hill through a wooded area. The cold wind and very dark clouds overhead had us scurrying home. Once in the warmth and safety of Tilly, we sat in amazement and watched the sleat/snow that was falling outside. We watched the ground change colour to white and in an instant it had all melted. Ten minutes later, the sun was out and only blue skies to be seen! Only in the UK.
We had a cold night -2° and again woke to blue skies. Our drive today took us to the pretty town of Abingdon on Thames. We parked up and headed into town where we walked around St Helens Church and through the streets. We had a lovely walk along the Ock Valley walk which is next the Ock river, past many almshouses. After a nice lunch at the Wetherspoons pub, we then headed to the Abbey gardens where they had a beautiful display of red and yellow tulips. Onto the Abingdon weir and lock and back home on the Thames path past some very nice narrow boats.
Our journey today took us through Chipping Norton to Whichford with the scenery along the way typical of rural England with dry stone walls and sheep, cattle and horses grazing in the fields. Bright canola flowers filled the hills and valleys and we were really happy to be back in the Cotswalds. Our home for this evening is a caravan club site at The Norman Knight pub and they have said if we have a meal and a beer we can stay for free. Hot showers, power and water included! Can’t fault that. We had a walk into the next town of Stourton about 3kms up the road and we stopped along the way at a couple of farms to see the cows and horses. Stourton is a very small town, as is Whichford however the thatched roof houses and the beautiful gardens made the walk worthwhile. Oh, and by the way dinner at the pub was delicious.
A short 22km drive sees us arriving in Banbury. After stopping in at Elite Motorhomes to go through a few items before our MOT next Wednesday, we are now comfortable in our home for the next week at Bo Peep Caravan Park in Adderbury. Sadly it is closing at the end of this season to focus on weddings and caravan club functions. Today was mainly a clean up and washing day, with getting clothes dry a difficult task given the weather, however all is now clean, dry and put away. Time to relax!
We drove into Banbury to meet up with our nephew and his girlfriend who rode the train up from London. We had a small walk around town before stopping at The Three Pidgeons for lunch where we caught up on all the family gossip. The food was very tasty, the wine was really nice and it was a lovely way to spend the afternoon. We had a bit more of a walk after lunch, heading down to the Oxford canal and walking past the narrow boats. Back into town for a cuppa before seeing them off again at the train station for their journey home.
1st May – Happy birthday Ricky 🎂🎂🎂🎂
After speaking to my sister on Skype for her birthday we headed out to try and walk off some of the delicious lunch we had yesterday. We walked through the nearby nature reserve which took us around a small lake before completing the Adderbury circle route, a distance of around 12kms through some of the farmlands. Lots of people out and about with their dogs enjoying the sunshine before the forecast wet weather arrives later in the day. We had drinks this afternoon with a lovely couple from Wiltshire who are thinking about buying a Motorhome so they came over to have a look. We reciprocated by having a look at their pop up caravan and enjoyed their company for an hour or so.
2nd May – 12th May
We had another nice walk today, this time along the Oxford canal in the opposite direction for a couple of kilometres past many narrow boats and then up the road to the small village of Clifton. From there we cut through fields of canola eventually coming up behind the Banbury Golf course where a number of people were out for a game. We skirted along the side of the golf course to the main road and back to Bo Peep, a round journey of about 12kms. Seems to be our favourite distance. Bad weather was forecast for the afternoon so we stayed put.
We had a very productive day. While Dave waxed Tilly, I washed all of the bedding, floors and cleaned and defrosted the fridge. That done, it was almost lunch time, so we had a bite to eat before having a nice walk into Adderbury venturing through the back streets past some of the lovely houses and gardens we saw the other day. We figured we had earnt a relaxing afternoon, which is exactly what had.
After breakfast we dropped Tilly at Elite Motorhomes where they loaned us a car for the day so we drove to Northampton about 45 kms away. We had a walk around the main shopping area and weren’t overly impressed with the place, so we drove back to Banbury. We had lunch at the Wetherspoons pub again, always good food and reasonably priced. From there we had another walk along the Oxford canal in the glorious sunshine. Back to Elite to find out how the MOT went as well as the repair to the fridge. Everything we asked them to do they have done. They even found two other items that needed attending too that were fixed as part of our warranty. The big test will be tonight with the fridge, apart from that we are very happy with the service we received. It was a little more expensive than what we had budgeted for, however there were a couple of extra things we had to pay for, so all in all, a job well done. Is the fridge fixed? Only time will tell.
No noise from the fridge last night – we are quietly optimistic that it is fixed. We had a busy morning doing some washing, cleaning and the shopping before lunch. It is a beautiful day today, must be at least 20° so we spent the afternoon outside reading. A nice way to finish off our stay in Banbury.
It’s hard to believe our journey started from exactly this point almost 14 months ago. As I mentioned before, Bo Peep is closing down at the end of this season so it really was farewell to Adderbury this morning. We drove about 85 kms towards Cambridge, stopping at the little town of Waresley with the sole purpose of a walk through the woods to the town of Great Gransden. The woods were just beautiful with a stunning carpet of bluebells as far as the eye could see. Lots of birds in the trees and a little brook meandering alongside the path. The town of Great Gransden had some lovely grand houses, some with decorative thatched roofs and gardens straight out of picture books. The round trip took us just under two hours and we are now sitting with a cuppa just outside of Waresley looking at the bright yellow canola fields and oak trees on the hillside in front of us. A nice place to stop for the night.
Another night of fridge free dramas and we woke this morning to the sounds of the cuckoo birds in the nearby woods. We drove the short 27km to Cambridge after breakfast and found a street park not too far from the centre. Our walk took us through a lovely park just near the river where you can hire punts, either to self paddle or pay extra and get a guided punt for an hour which takes you past a lot of the college gardens. We spent most of the morning walking around the streets and popping our heads into the entrances of quite a number of colleges. Unfortunately they are all currently closed to the public due to it being exam time. We had our lunch at the rear of Trinity College sitting by the river before visiting the Fitzwilliam museum to see some paintings by the old masters, Rubén, Picasso and Panini to name a few. The museum also had an exhibition from the Nile which we spent a bit of time visiting. We came back to Tilly for an hour or so before heading back into town and the Kings College Chapel where we went for Saturday evensong with the world famous choir. The service went for almost an hour and the boys and men in the choir had beautiful voices as you would expect. We got there early to queue and we were lucky enough to be seated right next to them. The chapel itself, said to be one of the most extraordinary examples of gothic architecture was just beautiful with the original stained glass windows and a fan-vaulted ceiling that is 80m long and is the largest expanse of fan-vaulting in the world. A most enjoyable day.
We had a lovely walk along the river for 3 miles to the little village of Grantchester. The sun was shining and there were lots of people out walking their dogs and enjoying the glorious sunshine on what was to be a very warm day of 23°. We had a wander around the village admiring the thatched cottages before heading home. We decided to move on from Cambridge and drove to Bury St Edmunds. Once parked up we went for a walk through the Abbey ruins and the beautiful gardens bursting with flowers and different coloured tulips. The abbey was brought to ruins after the Dissolution with the townspeople making off with much of the stone. There are two well preserved gates, a mid-14th-century Great Gate which is intricately decorated and ominously defensive, with battlements, portcullis and arrow slits and the bells were tolling for at least a quarter of an hour today which was a fantastic sound. The other entrance gate is a gargoyle-studded early 12th-century Norman Tower. After walking around the ruins for awhile we sat in the gardens watching the world go by before heading home.
We spent the morning walking around the shopping precinct of Bury St Edmunds before doing a tour of the cathedral. Built in Lincolnshire limestone in a traditional gothic style, it’s 45m millennium tower built in 2005 gives a good idea of how the towers of many other English cathedrals would an have looked fresh from the stonemasons chisel. The interior has undergone a recent restoration and the colours of the angel roof and hammerbeam roof in the nave and each side of the pulpit were beautiful. We had lunch in the Abbey gardens before a quick visit to St Mary’s church where the tomb of Mary Tudor, Queen of France and sister to Henry VIII is. Surprisingly it is very plain with just a marble edging surrounding it and a plaque on the wall.
We drove to Aldeburgh, a small fishing village on the English Channel with a shingle beach about 75kms from Bury St Edmunds. The weather today was very bleak with grey skies and rain however we did venture out for a walk through Aldeburgh with the intention of local fish for lunch however the place we were looking for was just a fish and chip shop so we moved on 10kms or so to Orford. It too is a small fishing village, however there are a few more things to see here. We are parked just outside the local church and had a quiet afternoon reading. We will head out tomorrow for a good look around and hopefully some local fish.
We had a very pleasant walk starting at the quay. We travelled along the spit for awhile, passing the old fishing huts before heading inland across the fields and into a small forest. From there we walked along the road past some lovely farms with acres and acres of crops and bought some free range eggs from one of the farms. We then headed to Orford Castle however we didn’t go in. Only the tower keep has survived and it is being now used as a museum. Further along we visited St Bartholomews church before walking through the High Street of 6 shops and 3 pubs. We went to the Jolly Sailor pub for lunch with Dave having the fish and chips. I couldn’t go past the lamb shank and it was delicious and very tender. Dave said the fish and chips were the best he has had to date. We needed a bit of a walk after our big lunch so we went in the opposite direction to this mornings walk around the back blocks past more farms and old stately manors.
On our drive to Harwich, we stopped at the pretty town of Dedham in Dedham Vale, an area made famous by John Constable whose romantic visions of country lanes, springtime fields and babbling creeks were inspired by and painted in this serene vale. We did a lovely walk along the River Stoar to Flatford, walking through paddocks with some cows for company. Flatford is a very small village, with a tea house on the river, a bird sanctuary and a gallery which describes the life of John Constable. From there we headed back on the other side of the river and had a quick look at Dedham before having lunch in Tilly and heading off for our final leg to Harwich for our ferry trip in the morning. We have had an enjoyable stay in the UK, albeit a brief one. We love the countryside and the beautiful towns here, it’s just shame that the UK is not really motorhome friendly. Their loss, I guess.