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Blog 156 - Return to New Lodge Farm, Bulwick, Northants

by keef & annie hellinger 31st Aug 2021, 2.46 pm

Motorhome trip No 44 : Aug 28th- 31st 2021

NOTTS->New Lodge Farm, Bulwick, Northamptonshire ->NOTTS 135 miles

Nearly 268 years and 35+ shared camping years under our belts, we decided to revisit the adults only New Lodge Farm campsite for the second time, same bank holiday weekend but this time no midnight rave from the local farm. Clearly Thomasz Schafernaker got the weather forecast wrong, not the promised summer BBQ weekend but on the plus side even though, cold windy and some drizzle we had the great warmth of seeing our dear friends Pete & Joy again after a long pandemic separation.

New Lodge farm had certainly had a makeover from our last visit 5 years ago with now both grass and hard standing fully serviced pitches (i.e water, electric and soak away drain (not great!)). On the previous occasion in 2016 it was all grass. If you wish to read our Blog 108 then please click HERE.

On the journey there on Saturday morning we travelled via M1, A14 and A43 to the site, somewhat delayed on the M1 by a fairly new car that had caught fire, frightening plume of smoke and 5-foot-high flames, not much of it left by the time the fire engines had arrived but at least all the passengers and driver were clear of it and safe, cars can be replaced, humans can’t.

On the way back we took the scenic route via Stamford, Empingham, Oakham, and Melton Mowbray to home, stopping off briefly to buy the fab pork pie from Melton’s famous Old Pie Shoppe, big tick for that.

We were on pitches 10 & 12 respectively. Decided to put up P&J’s new wind break to try and control the cross winds, that was fun (maybe) anyhow in the end dedicated teamwork prevailed and it stayed up 😉

We started with tea and cakes and chat. There was even a little bit of sun. Keef did his usual lasagne, garlic bread and salad for the evening meal which we had hoped to have outside but chickened out and went inside. Lovely evening playing games (RPM Trivial Pursuit (hard!) , scrabble (brag time Keef got a 7-letter word down)) and imbibing some fab wines. Plus, lots of chatter, catch up, grand kiddie pix etc, all in all a lovely evening. Retired and slept well.

Sunday morning early Keef went off with the camera to walk around the area, once again there was an old car rally gathered in the top field, I took some interesting piccies. Joy did a lovely, scrambled egg and poached salmon brekkie, yum yum! Then we all poodled off for a walk around nearby Bulwick even passing the scene of Annie’s fall in 2016, rather interestingly now opposite a British Red cross station, locals all very friendly and helpful giving us some footpath routes across fields of Dexter cows and posh abodes. Fineshade wood which we have camped at before in the distance. See Blog 65 by clicking HERE. Bulwick is lovely and amazingly quiet. Met lady with 2 lovely spaniels, one very young.

We then came back changed for lunch and went to the recently reappointed and extended café / shop for a lovely Sunday dinner. Some of the homemade produce in the shop is fab, chutneys, apple pies, Eccles cakes and a fine selection of wines (some of which we tried at lunch), can highly recommend plus there is a local produce shop outside selling flowers, fruit, and veg.

We did cheese bikkies wine and chat for our evening meal. Nice.

Monday morning Keef used the gridle to do a cooked brekkie featuring for a change spam as well as the trad bacon, eggs, tomatoes, and beans. Certainly, set us up for the day even though it probably didn’t do much for our collective waistlines 😉

After brekkie Pete and Keef set off for a walk with ordnance map in hand towards Laxton, a lovely quiet village. Followed footpath across fields and alongside the woods, saw lady on horse and after a couple of stiles alerted onto what seemed like an old narrow cart track. This is where we made our first mistake following the footpath arrows rathet than the map. It was a lovely walk but turned our to be about 5 ¼ miles rather than our expected 3 ½ but no worries for Keef that was the longest for many a year and my knees (just about) held up. Whilst walking along the side of Ferrel woods Keef found a CD of Queens Hot Space. Gave it to P&J, twas in good nick and I already have a copy so as they say… every silver lining….

Back at the café / shop / bar we rang the ladies who had had a relaxing morning in the vans to invite them up for an end of trek celebration 😉 nice local beer called Fools Nook on keg, by Barnwell brewery. Keef then did a tuna mayo on brown for all whilst we either snoozed, chatted , read or generally relaxed before the BBQ tea.

Nice evening BBQ meal of marinated lamb steaks, burgers, kebabs, local sausages (all meats kindly bought from the farm by P&J) with salad accompanied by a nice wine or 3. Lovely evening again chatting and catching up. Then it started to rain so we quickly dismantled the windbreak and put away the gas BBQ. As P&J had to leave early the next morning for a funeral back home we all retired early.

We were all up early Tuesday, and it was a little drizzly said our goodbyes and hope to meet up again soon. Lovely weekend, nice site and area, we will be back as getting to know Northamptonshire a bit nowadays, maybe bring the car as well next time to explore a bit further afield.

All the associated slideshows are also available here alongside all the others from 2021

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Blog 157 - Ludlow and Surrounding Areas Plus Keef's 67th

by keef & annie hellinger 18th Sept 2021, 2.16 pm

Motorhome trip No 45 : Sept 12th- 17th 2021

NOTTS->Ludlow Touring Park, Ludlow, Shropshire ->NOTTS 382 miles

The newly restored Van is running so well at the moment, it’s a joy to drive, 52k+ miles now on the clock.

This 5 day trip was part of my 67th birthday fun. Hadn’t realised what a lovely historic town Ludlow is. It is positioned right on the edge really of 3 counties – Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

History wise Arthur Plantagenet (Henry 8th elder brother) died 1502, married to Catherine of Aragon, aged 15 at Ludlow Castle....Lucien Boneparte (Boneys younger brother was held prisoner in Ludlow) 1810-11 ....King Edward 5th was also there before he was murdered 1483 back in London....this place is steeped in history #fact 86days as King... Edward V, one of the 2 princes murdered in the tower allegedly by Dick3 of Leicester, the battle of Ludford Bridge , Henry VI and Richard Castle after Richard Neville, Lord Protector...😁🤔 oh and there are George 2nd alms houses built 1758, here endeth the history lesson

We left home at about 11 and used the truck nav to take us the quickest route, bit of motorway then outskirts of Kidderminster, past Hagley Hall and then into the nice Worstershire countryside, thru Little Hereford and onto the site. All very rural and lovely with its yellow brown fields painting the canvas of farms.

Settled in nicely on pitch 3, very close to all facilities. Set up my new one man tent (my insomnia cure, well maybe – I used it twice whilst we were away so not too bad!). Set up in a lotorhome takes 5 mins, always amazes me how long a caravan takes in comparison. Anyhow after coffee we then went and had a walk around the site, thought we could get across to the River Teme side from the site map but it is fenced off as an area of “scientific interest” oh well nice views anyhow. Found a lovely plant (later identified by friends on faceache as mullein). Collected a load of seed so gonna give that a whirl sometime.

Next day after a bit of overnight rain got to use my OAP bus pass (sorry being politically correct senior citizen 😉 ) Caught the 490 into Ludlow which stopped at the the Assembly room near the Castle. What an amazing town Ludlow is, we both loved it. Not so the bus company though, they only ran 3 buses back we waited over 45 mins, it never turned up so we had to walk back, Ludlow is very steep and pained poor Annie’s arthritic knees. I did the gentlemanly thing and rang the bus company my “heartfelt feedback”, they promised to investigate and get back to me, they haven’t. We met a couple who had had the same experience with missing buses on their last trip to this site. Moral of the story…. Don’t use Lugg Valley Travel!

Anyhow as I said (pre rant 😉 ) Ludlow is wonderful, we spent a good 2 hours having a look around starting in the Dinham area, then the castle ruins which at the back lead steeply down to the river Teme. Highlights apart from the many wonderful buildings were the Feathers Hotel, the bull ring area and pub (old livestock sales area), old prison, castle square, Ludlow Civic society blue plaques, learning what solar / sollars meant i.e upper floor of house for servants, the market, the LOVE LUDLOW campaign, Ludlow Brewery Ales, the whole of the Dinham area near the castle, some of the surrounding views, the buttercross, alms houses, history, the old hospital, museum, the broad gate area , walking under the 13th century gate, drum tower and portcullis arch, this area once had 55 pubs, Annie’s GGGF John Whatmore ran a bakers there and was a corn factor living in Ravens lane, oh and sunshine! Tick. Sadly the food festival had ended and some of the buildings on the Teme bridge had been flooded so needed shoring up.

See the full images slideshow, 18 mins but with fab music by the Allman Brothers and the one on Ludlow with text ( 109 images, 9 mins) to get a feel of what we experienced, thanks for looking.

The surrounding areas included had a loose base of family research for Annie’s rellies but afforded us the opportunity to visit quite a lot of villages and some of the bigger towns, not exclusively but some we saw were Richard Castle, Tenbury Wells (lovely, fairport convention on at the regal, lorry on bridge fun not) , Cleobury Mortimer (great church , high road and washing pond), Bromfield, Stokesay, Onibury (wonderful St Michael’s church and old GWR train station, font usedf to christen Annie’s rellies), Neen Savage (st marys church and whatmore gravestones), Bewdley (Severn Valley Railway – also at Bridgnorth), Leominster, Far & Wyre Forest, Bitterley (narrow road and definitely don’t travel at school chuck out time or you will be bitter ) , Flowers everywhere, Craven Arms (not interesting), Much Wenlock (fab priory and old town, victorian dr william penny brookes – refounder of the town Olympics, milburga the nun), Wenlock edge (great views), Bridgnorth (just wonderful especially the high street, annies rellies at 51 high street and 6 high street, it all starts by north gate at no 1 high street and goes up the left hand side, then back down the right hand side, took us a while to find them, St Mary Magdelene church on top of the hill was too steep for Annie so we gave it a miss )…. Managed free parking everywhere but had to run in front of yellow peril in Bridgnorth as only allowed 40 mins. Found out at Much Wenlock priory that the Barclays premier English Heritage arrangements (i.e free entry) ended in Mar 2020 (boo!) – covid driven. Note also history wise re Much Wenlock - Victorian doctor, William Penny Brookes (1809-1895), is known as the founder of the modern Olympic Games. Brookes established the Wenlock Olympian Games in 1861. The Games are still held each year and provided the inspiration for Pierre de Coubertin and the Olympic movement. The Brookes family graves are in the churchyard and are decorated with Olympian wreaths.

There are 121 images (approx. 10 mins) to look at with text and Allman Bros music in the “around Ludlow” slideshow, thanks again for looking

All in all a fab relaxing 5 days, great site, great food & drinks, great 67th birfday, great exploring… I think we will be back to this area of the country again at some time.

If you would like to see all the associated Slideshows and Video as well as all the others for 2021 please click HERE, thanks

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Blog 158 - Wagtail Country Park, Marston, Lincolnshire

by keef & annie hellinger 7th November 2021, 9.59 am

Motorhome trip No 46 : 3rd – 6th November 2021

NOTTS->Wagtail Country Park, Marston, Lincolnshire ->NOTTS 266 miles

A lovely 4 days, 3 nights away in the van as an autumn break, the last of 2021 before winterising Wendy house. We were incredibly lucky with the weather after how awful it has been but cold and sunny, I would take any day.

The site is a Caravan and Motorhome club affiliated site and so with club discount was only £23 a night, bargain and hardly busy at all. I guess as it has a fishing lake at its centre you would call it a fisherman’s paradise borne out by the number of “permie” caravans on site but as mid-week in November there were only one or 2 anglers in residence.

Anyhow we set off about 11 from home knowing the journey was only about 40 miles and we couldn’t get in until after 1 pm we thought we would go and have a mooch around some local Lincolnshire villages. My preconception was that Lincolnshire is flat, how wrong was I.

We visited the lovely Dry Doddington, named such by the Romans who were there until the river dried up and then decamped to a new Doddington near Lincoln City where there is more water, now known as the Whisby Nature reserve. It’s on something called Lincoln hill. We had a lovely walk around here and if not for Covid would probably have popped into the Wheatsheaf Inn opposite the church, famed for having a leaning spire that claims to be on a bigger gradient than its more famous Pisa, who knows 😉

We also visited Long Bennington, Foston, Hougham, Hough on the Hill, Claypole, Brandon, Carlton Scroop (what a name!) before heading to Marston and the campsite. One of the things we learnt for this campsite is that crossing the A1 into the Marston turn off is nigh on impossible with traffic so as a tip go up a mile and a bit to Long Bennington , turn off there and cross the bridge and come back down to the turn off, you will be safe!

Anyhow got to the campsite after 1, via Cliff Lane its approach is very narrow with few passing places and the road surface is diabolical. The idea of 1pm arrival and 11 am departure is to ensure no issues coming along Cliff lane, however just as we were going out on the 2nd day 2 huge motorhomes decided to buck the system and come early… Fools!

So, first day had a good look around after set up, the country park had some very muddy exit pathways and you could walk for quite a bit out across the farmers’ fields, allegedly there is an inn on site (not that we would have used it) but we never found it. The little shop on site had a few provisions should you need them, but hey skittles are not top of my wants 😉

Day 2 we were determined to use our OAP bus passes, my bucket list to do John O’Groats to Lands’ End on one has sadly dropped down that list 😉 took us a while to find Nettleham Fields Waitrose for the Park & Ride into Lincoln city but we did visit inadvertently the lovely village of Nettleham and Scothern and Welton on our exploration. We went to the bus station and then back to the lovely Northgate area , just beautiful and so full of history. Magna carta, Annie’s rellie who eventually married John of Gaunt having started life as servant to his first wife the duchess of Lancaster. She is immortalised in Anne O’Brien’s historical novel “the Scandalous Duchess” which we both intend to read. Keef hunted down another hero, Mr Boolean Logic himself, whilst the Cathedral and castle and surrounding architecture etc were a complete joy. Some of the wood carvings in the Cathedral are exquisite. The city being the Roman Lindum Colonia is steeped in some fabulous history. It was probably founded as a legionary fortress during the reign of the Emperor Nero and apart from the main roman road we found the old garrison walls quite close to our bus stop.

We just about got back to the site at dusk a fab day out!

The next day we visited the village of Belton and walked from there into Belton house, which currently isn’t open but the grounds , buildings, and garden esp. the orangery were wonderful and well worth a visit. It’s a National Trust house which we have visited in the past but many moons ago with my parents and the kids when they were young. Autumn is a lovely “gardening” time, much to see and still in colour.

From here we briefly visited Grantham not the most inspiring of places but for Keef a chance to hero worship Sir Isaac but not the counter opposite Maggie 😉

We then went and had a look around a whole stack of villages (Newton obviously included) indeed on the way home we called in at Woolsthorpe manor near Colsterworth, Isaac’s birth place, his father was a Yeoman so not insignificant in the area. The villages we saw were Great Gonerby (although its hardly a village), Old Somerby, Ropesley (nice), Sapperton, Pickworth (nice), Hanby, Braceby and Walcot. Then it was back to Marston, this time well before the witching hour for a hot toddy and some German biscuits and cake (naughty I know). Fireworks that night not that noisy and not allowed on site for obvious reasons… scare the fish and residents 😉

Our trip home was much more interesting that the way there as avoided main roads so back via A607 etc to Melton Mowbray so Keef could visit his fave Pork Pie Shoppe. All in all a lovely Autumn break, thanks Lincolnshire we will be back!

If you would like to see the associated Slideshows and Video please click HERE, thanks

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