Friday, 28 April 2017

April 26th 2017: Devon and Cheddar: Cheddar 2

Monty the Motorhome is back on his home drive after another day in Cheddar.

We left the campsite and drove along the main road from Cheddar to Wells. It follows the bottom of The Mendips and is shown on the map as a scenic route. We stopped at a roadside Farm Shop that was selling strawberries and got a punnet for later. Then on to Wells, but we didn’t stay - that will have to wait until another day. Our route was back into The Mendips and to the top of Cheddar Gorge for a drive down through and then back up again to park at the top.

We walked up the northerly side of the gorge (steep in places) to a viewpoint overlooking the gorge itself. The weather was lovely, plenty of sunshine, but a cool breeze. All the birds were singing like mad and everything seemed well with the world.

In what seemed no time at all it was time to drive back home and our short break is over.

Looking down the gorge with Cheddar village in the distance

From the end of the gorge looking across towards The Bristol Channel. The water in the foreground is Cheddar Reservoir 

Posted 28th April

April 25th 2017: Devon and Cheddar: Cheddar 1

Monty the Motorhome is shivering as the temperature drops. However when the sun appears it quickly warms, so it has been one of those days when it is difficult to know what to wear.

We started out by visiting the local Farmers Market, which runs from 1030 to 1130 every Tuesday. The fact it is only 1 hour indicated it is not a huge affair, and it seems more like the old style WI (Woman’s Institute) market with stalls selling home produced foods and crafts.
The venue was a church hall and it was all very cosy and friendly. Tea, coffee, biscuits and sponge cakes were free - almost unheard of nowadays; while the stalls were run by a gaggle of elderly matron like ladies. We picked up some jam, chutney and a couple of cakes. Also some strawberries - more about that later.

Lunch was taken at another friendly place - a cafe run by the local community church. The mini vegetarian breakfast was very filling.

In the afternoon we walked through the town and to the entrance to the gorge. This is what everyone comes to Cheddar for, so obviously there are lots of touristy shops selling all manner of souvenirs, along with opportunities to ride on buses through the gorge or visit some of the local show caves.
The gorge itself starts from the town and a main road runs straight through it. We walked up the first half, along the road, and only met a couple of other pedestrians, though I’m sure it would be different at a weekend.
The scenery is spectacular, with sheer rock faces rising from the road and a jagged skyline of peaks and pinnacles.

Our afternoon finished with a walk along The Strawberry Line - a disused railway line, that is now a footpath and cycleway. The name comes from the area being famous for the production of early strawberries. South facing slopes at the bottom of The Mendips, on fertile soil, are ideal for the production of this crop. The line closed during the early 1960’s, but prior to that was the main transport route for the crop to be taken to markets around the country. Now only a short distance (11 miles) of the original track is open to the public, but it is hoped that all 30 miles will eventually be opened up again for walking and cycling.

Evening meal tonight was slightly different - a Lao Thai restaurant. My food was primarily stir fry veg, in a rich tasty broth, along with sticky rice. Ruth went for a Pad Thai noodle mix. Our verdict - we’d definitely come back, but only if they turned the heating up as the place was quite chilly. While we were eating it snowed briefly, but walking back to the van we were bathed in evening sunshine.

I’m now starting to win a bit more at crib

Posted April 28th

April 24th 2017: Devon and Cheddar: Murviland

Monty the Motorhome has returned to his birthplace (for the motorhome conversion) and spent the day having his annual health check - well it should be annual, but we missed last year.

Murviland is only 15 minutes drive from our CL of last night, so really handy. We may well use it again in the future.
The Murvi works were a hive of activity, so business seems to be thriving. Mr Murvi himself (also known as Rex) greeted us and sorted out our needs, then whilst all the work was being done we had a walk to the local village of Ivybridge. 
After a cup of overpriced coffee at a little cafe by the river we picked up the ‘Town Trail’ - a way marked route around the village. We have been to Ivybridge before, but never realised how big the place actually is. It lies under the lee of Dartmoor and the village spreads up the lower slopes, making the Town Trail quite steep in places, but the reward is good views.

Monty was really by early afternoon, so we departed and headed to Cheddar.

Our site for the next two days is the Caravan Club site in Cheddar itself. We arrived to find it almost full, which was a surprise considering it is Monday and out of season.
We had a walk around the town to get our bearings and dined at The Bath Arms - veg burger and steak/ale pie.

The weather is turning much colder, with a possibility of snow flurries

The view from our pitch looking out to The Mendips
 Posted 28 April

April 23rd 2017: Devon and Cheddar: To Devon

Monty the Motorhome has hit the road again after a long winter break, which only saw the one outing to Moreton-in-Marsh. However this little trip is only for a few days to get the habitation service done and then visit Cheddar. Time at the moment seems very limited as we are in the throes of moving house, so that seems to have taken most of our time recently, and it is likely the next couple of months will be just as demanding.

So it is off the Devon, with an appointment at Murviland tomorrow for the service.
Our intention was to visit Dartmoor on route, specifically the Princetown area; but the Sat Nav fouled up and we ended up well out of our way on narrow lanes, with plenty of traffic about as it is Sunday. So a quick decision was made to head straight to our overnight stop - a Caravan Club Certified Location - Hillhead Farm, Ugborough. 
Our site was a grassy field, shared by four other units, with views out southwards across a valley.

Not exactly crowded
The afternoon was sunny, so we walked around the local lanes which were bounded by the typical high banks found in the SW of England, and at this time of year are clothed in wild flowers. We also spotted our first swallows of the year.

Back at the site we paid our fees at the farmhouse (£12 for the night) and got some lovely fresh eggs. 

Evening meal was at The Anchor in the village of Ugborough, which was 15 minutes walk away, down a steep bank. The food was glorious - Hake and chips for me, while Ruth had the roast beef, followed by freshly made chocolate and baileys fondants. The local beer was a honey based brew - Stumble Bee from South Hams Brewery, and it was one of the best I’ve had in a long while.

That evening the crib board came out - found recently during all our sorting out for the move - and we re-learnt the game. I’ve played a couple of times in the past, but Ruth has many hours under her belt. Perhaps that’s why she ended up winning!

Note: posted on April 28th, as we didn't bother paying for internet access while away

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

January 24th 2017: Moreton-in-Marsh: Day 4

Monty the Motorhome is back home after a short winter break.

Last night was another cold one. This morning I went to get some water and found all the outside taps frozen solid, even those protected by wooden cladding.

We stayed at Moreton this morning to attend the Tuesday market. This is a much hyped weekly event which is supposed to bring visitors in from far and wide.
Well we were mighty disappointed as there were only a small number of food stalls, along with a smattering of tat, shoes and cheap clothing. Perhaps it is more of an event in the summer months.
We ended up buying some decent looking sprouts and a couple of sausage rolls for lunch.

After a quick walk through we decided to have a coffee and found a small cafe that looked very inviting. Shortly after ordering the waiter apologised that the machine had been switched off overnight and would take a while to warm up. No problem for us, so we sat and waited. After about 20 minutes the waiter appeared again, looking flustered, saying it was still heating up and perhaps he could amuse us by doing a dance. We sort of smiled politely and murmured something about there being no need for that. But I think he had the look of a ballet dancer about him and was serious, so we may have missed out on a performance there!

The trip home was in glorious sunshine for most of the way, before hitting some lingering fog on the last few miles.

Monday, 23 January 2017

January 23rd 2017: Moreton-in-Marsh: Day 3

Monty the Motorhome is thawing out at Moreton-in-Marsh campsite. Note the subtle change in the name of where we are - I got it wrong before.

Yes the temperature is rising, but not much. It still feels chilly and everyone is togged up in their winter woolies.

Today was walk day. Looking at the OS map we saw a circular route that took in two long distance footpaths - the Monarchs Way and the Heart of England Way. We started off from Moreton village and headed towards Batsford Arboretum, quickly becoming aware it was going to be a bit muddy in places. By the time we got to the Arboretum we had quite a bit of mud on boots and trousers, so very quickly snuck in to their shop/cafe to use the loos, then scurried off not daring to venture into the cafe.

Passing the village of Bourton-on-the-Hill we continued through a small country estate where the main building was called ‘India House’ - a mogul palace set in a romantic landscape of streams and waterfalls.

The place is open to the public, but only on Thursday and Friday each week.

Our final few miles involved crossing a recently cultivated field, where very quickly a thick layer of mud, several inches thick, became glued to the bottom of our boots. It made walking very difficult and laboured. Final distance - just under 10 miles.

Difficult to see how thick the mud on the bottom of our boots was as it is blending in with the soil below, but I assure you it was several inches thick
Back at the campsite it was clean up, change of clothing, then back into Moreton to an Italian restaurant (Ask - part of a chain) for lasagne, tiramisu, olive oil and pistachio cake and coffees. Oh and their home made lemonade was very nice too.

Tonight will be reading, playing cards, and maybe a film. Tough life.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

January 22nd 2017: Moreton-in-the-Marsh: Day 2

Monty the Motorhome is still at Moreton-in-the-Marsh, which has emptied out considerably during the day. 

Last night was bitterly cold, such that we left the heating on low all night. Monty’s new quilt cover worked a treat - after such cool temperatures we would expect plenty of condensation on the inside of the front windscreen, as well as it being slightly cool in the front cab area. However we woke to a condensation free windscreen and toasty warm conditions throughout the van. 
So a big thumbs up for silverscreen. 

Today is Sunday, which for us means big boy breakfast. So into Moreton and Tilly’s Tearoom. They don’t use the term ‘big boy’, but ‘full English’ means exactly the same. 
Then a little stroll round the village - all honey coloured Cotswold stone and very easy on the eye.

Then back to the van for a lazy afternoon with the papers.

This evening it was back into Moreton and The Spice Lounge - a very cosy Indian, complete with log fire. We were impressed with their food - tasty without being over spiced, and plenty of it.