Thursday, 18 October 2012

Billie "Struts" His Stuff!

You kind of know in your heart when things are not going to go well! This weekend was just one of those times. We sort of planned not to go away because Den was in crisis at work and thought we may get the "phone calls", he was right. We decided to go anyway and try the Caravan Club Site, Cirencester Park and explore Cirencester a bit more.

So , we left in a bit of a rush, without the usual preparations  and I forgot to pick up the left over curry we were going to have for tea. Fortunately, as it was a CC site, the sign by the toilet block said "Fish & Chips, from 5.30!"  Nothing for it then, fish and chips. Our luck was in briefly, as we got the last two fishes from the van, they were obviously also having a bad day! The rest of the queue had to make do with anything that wasn't least the chips were still on the menu. Disaster number 1, averted, for us!

The site was excellent, quiet and really well laid out with loads of hard standings. It was busier than we were expecting but we still had a good choice of pitches. A third of the site which were the grass pitches, were closed for re-seeding and the second toilet block was being up dated. Time for the bunnies to have a ball, but beware the bunny holes, health and safety elves at work. The existing loo block was excellent and up to the usual CC standards ( when and if,you can get a pitch on one of their sites of course.) Even the telly picked up a signal, although the phone was an issue, but more of that later.

 Billie at Cirencester Park.

 The walk into town takes about 20 minutes, via the scenic route through the Bath Hurst Estate Park. We put on our walking boots but there were lots of paths so shoes would have been fine.

Beware, the gates shut at 5.30pm. I wonder how many people they lock in every year?

 Next time we will walk up to the monument!

Check out the park

Saturday morning dawned as a bright dryish day. The van was really cosy as we had used the silver screens overnight. To be on the safe side, we had run the heating on low to take the chill off. The overall heating system in Billie is great and it can be used on gas or electric, 1 is fine for overnight.  We decided to walk through the park into town. As we lifted the bed to get out our rucksacks, the strut  holding the bed up stuck and before we realised what had happened, it damaged the laminate panel under the bed as we tried to close it. Den removed the mattress to check what had happened and climbed under the bed. Just as all this was going on the phones started ringing, it was a work problem. Getting to a phone with a sprung mattress propped up in the middle of the van was entertaining. It was then we realised that the phone signal here was very iffy, three mobiles and a signal that kept dropping out on all of them. Eventually, we had to go and use the actual "phone box", fortunately being a CC site they still had one that worked. Miracles of modern technology!!!   NOT.

Finally, after a very stressful hour or so, all was calm. The work problems were solved until Monday and the bed was useable. Den removed the strut and would repair the damage when we got home. We did have a lovely walk through the park into town, lunch at a very nice pub and a stroll around the shops. We just made it back to the van before the rain came down. The X Factor on the telly and a bottle of wine, another exciting evening.

The drive home through the Cotswold was lovely with the Autumn colours just starting, an hour and we would be home. Not likely, M4 closed for an accident and an hours drive became two. Just another one of those weekends! The good news was Den repaired the strut damage and a new one is on it's way! Advantages of having a local dealer, a quick call to Chipping Sodbury Caravans and  Billie will be back to normal, very soon.

Next weekend the Motor Caravan Show at the NEC Birmingham. Time to look at more extras. Tickets have been bought, the work phone can stay at home. Billie can have a weekend off, we'll take the car this time.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Billie Goes On A Roman Weekend

Of course we left it to the last moment to book! Needless to say, "there was no room at the inn. " I tried about 6 sites on a Friday morning looking for a hardstanding and had almost given up when I stumbled on Mayfield Park. With great trepidation I phoned and while waiting for rejection, was most surprised to hear they had spaces and on a hardstanding! Even more cheering was the price, £32 for the weekend!!!

By 3ish on Friday afternoon we were off. Not far we thought. Well it should have taken around an hour, it took a bit longer, but we did get a "Cotswold  Grand Tour", Tom Tom never found the site, but with a trusty map and a bit of manoevering we did. The site was a bit sloping but with the chocks, we were soon installed on a flattish gravel pitch, behind some tall trees, that's put paid to the telly viewing then, back to Kindle! On the positive side the campsite was not crowded, we had water on our pitch and it was dry!

 Billie enjoying a spot of morning sunshine.

The back field at Mayfield Park.

The next day dawned with a clear blue sky and the sun trying to come out. Armed with a map we set off for Cirencester via the scenic route, down the country lanes. Around an hour later we made it. Slight detour through the woods, over a few styles ( some managed better than others) and braving the local livestock in the fields, we had a great walk though some beautiful countryside. We were really pleased we were prepared with walking boots or we may not have been quite so happy, some of the fields were very muddy.We were really lucky as the sun came out and it was quite warm.

Beware the wild animals!!! Well there were a lot of sheep in this field!

We finally found our way over this stile and out of the woods. Fortunately did not encounter any livestock here.

Took a while to work out the instructions for the "walk", but we made it in the end.

On the way to Cirencester.

The end in sight, only one more field to tramp across, fortunately the cows we were expecting to find in the field were having breakfast elsewhere. Phew!!!

We whiled away a few hours exploring Cirencester, having lunch, coffee and going around the museum, well worth a visit.Those Romans were really quite clever! Cirencester  actually had some great little shops, I was amazed how many tea and cake shops there were!. We bought some very nice chicken parcels from the local butcher and caught the 51 bus back to the site. In the absence of telly, it was dinner, reading ,wine and bed, all that walking had worn us out!

 Certainly worth a visit, although I would be tempted to try the Caravan Club, Cirencester Park site next time. Mayfield would be a good place to go if you fancied walking as there were loads more walks we could have tried. Perhaps another weekend soon, but not in the summer the noise from the road would not make for a peaceful evening outdoors.