This is my original blog – all my blogs  since I started in 2009 - are here including those from The Ale Archive – all the beers I’ve sampled at home and on our travels since 2012.
 
Since 2012 most of our travel has involved a caravan. I now have a specific caravanning blog called (Get Your) Legs Down which not only documents all our trips but includes product reviews, site listings, storage locations, mobile service engineers and much more. It too is on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Back on the coast – pt 1

There’s something weird going on. I as start to type this there’s this strange bright thing appearing from behind the clouds making everywhere seem just a bit well, warmer. I can even feel the heat on the back of my neck too. Given the recent arctic conditions it’s a welcome change. Let’s hope it continues.

It’s worth mentioning too that it’s a year since we first started caravanning, with that trip down (or up, depending on your location or point of view) to Crystal Palace – a blog of which can be found here. It’s also worth pointing out that it reached 22 degrees in south London and we able to sit out in deckchairs. What a difference a year makes!

So, where are we? Well, not far from home as it happens – at Littlehampton just along the coast and across in West Sussex. We called in here once, a few years back with Trev’s Mum I think and had a quick look around  but am looking forward to exploring some more.

We left Glastonbury and the wonderful Old Oaks site and headed east on Monday, arriving at the Caravan Club site in Wick, just outside Littlehampton around one(ish). The site was easy to find and access and the wardens friendly and helpful. It’s a well kept site with a new toilet block that is smart, clean and tidy with all the usual caravan Club facilities. It might be worth pointing out however that although it has a similar number of pitches to the Old Oaks it occupies considerably less space. I guess we were spoilt last week.

We’ve only had one day out and about so far as Tuesday we were at er, work. Well, sort of. We had to attend a first aid course along the coast in Portslade for work but reasoned that we were just as close here at the site as we would have been at Saltdean and  there was little point in going home and breaking up the holiday. We learnt all the usual stuff that you’d expect and had to take our turns practising mouth to mouth on the female manikins. As I approached, bent down and planted my gob on hers it occurred to me that there’s a first time for everything. And Last! We came away with our certificates and a days wages too, though sadly not literally!

Wednesday and with the arctic conditions still prevailing we coaxed Jessie into life and headed back west, first to the Georgian market town of Chichester. A pretty enough place on it’s own but slap bang in the middle is the cathedral. Outside stands a statue of a certain Saint Richard although I couldn’t see the likeness. In fact from a certain angle he looked more like the vampire from the film ‘Salems Lot’ but without the fangs. We went in of course – it was free although donations were gratefully received – even from heathens it seemed. The architecture was of course impressive but it was the stained glass windows that really stood out. This was ‘our’ cathedral, we were informed by one of the guides when he ascertained that we were from Brighton, although his surreptitious glances suggested that he didn’t think we’d be joining the congregation any time soon.

IMAG0361 P1010043 P1010040

P1010031P1010028  P1010029 

P1010013 P1010021 P1010020

Back outside we circumnavigated the grounds but I was unable to find a place where I could photograph the complete building, hopefully the pictures below will give you the an idea. The old covered market, at the towns epicentre, dating from the 16th century still stands and once provided a place for the impoverished to sell their wares without paying hefty market fees.

P1010047 P1010005 P1010002

Chichester sits just off the A27, a road we have been on many many times, whether it’s been on the way to Southampton to join a cruise, to Portsmouth for the Isle of Wight, or more recently for a trip out with Patsy. Back east, as you bypass Arundel, both it’s castle and cathedral can bee seen clearly as you sit in the often stationary traffic. We had called in to Arundel once – for fish & chips I think but have otherwise ignored it. It’s another delightfully pretty town clustered around the massive castle quite sensibly owned by the Duke of er, Norfolk who stills lives there. Clearly, the upkeep of such a place is quite high judging by the admission charge but we never really intended to go in anyway, preferring instead to enjoy the town and the view from outside.

P1010050 P1010059 P1010057

The cathedral stands out even more from the road, though does not look anywhere near as big close up. We went inside of course, and this being of Catholic bent, all images and depiction of the crucifixion were covered up prior to Easter. Those who know us may think it a little odd we’re spending all this time in houses of ‘God’, however, as I’ve said before, the architecture is stunning and it gives me the opportunity to admire and photograph some big organs. Boom boom!

P1010066 P1010068 P1010074

P1010072 P1010080 P1010082

Back at the site, the occasional glimpse of the sun was warming things up just a little. The bbq was fired up for the first time in a week, then we met up with some of the guys who had arrived for the Freedom Club meet. We had a couple of pints at the pub around the corner. The London Pride, normally one of my favourites was a little cloudy and below par. The Doombar was excellent as usual.

So, that’s about it for now. We may go in to Littlehampton later – it has a really pretty harbour which I want to see again but will see what the rest of the guys fancy doing and go from there. Of course, there may be some veggies to offend too, better get the dead cow gear polished up…..

Hits on A Load of Nonsense! have broken all records again this week, so hopefully I’m doing something right! If you think so, please tell me. Likewise if you don't. Email me at aloadofnonsense@gmail.com. It will be great to hear from you.

P.S. The sun has now done a disappearing act, Typical!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Somerset – more than just Cider pt 3

Right, I’ve had enough of this – and I bet you have too. No, not the blog, although that my be well be the case – but winter. When will it end? The rain has departed – more or less, but the temperature has plunged and having visited the facilities this morning for the morning ablutions it was more like going on an arctic expedition. There’s no snow here, thankfully but the wind is icy. It’s been a long winter hasn’t it?

Anyway, enough of the moaning, for the time being. It could be worse, Pasty, bless her is nice and snug and I have been able to do more research on my er, hobby. I may have inadvertently offended one or two people in Glastonbury too yesterday – more on that later!

We did nothing more on Thursday afternoon after finishing the previous blog. The rain persisted and vague notions of a museum or cinema visit were swept aside instead we spent the rest of the day in the comfort of ‘Her Ladyship’. We did venture out in the evening though to meet up with Vicky and her partner Carl in town. We met in the lovely old George & Pilgrim Hotel and had a good chat and catch up. A draught version of one of the Glastonbury Ales we had been enjoyingfrom the bottle  was on offer, although sadly it didn’t taste as good as expected. The Otter Bitter, from Devon, was much nicer. I resisted the lure of a pint of Scrumpy. My digestive system takes a fair bit of punishment, particularly when away, but I must have had a rare pang of sympathy for it.

The rain continued through the night and in to Friday but, ever optimistic we decided to head out anyway, west and to the coast, to the seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare. The rain predictably increased in intensity banishing any thoughts actually getting out of the car so we traversed the sea front, going up and past the old pier and around to Kewstoke, from which Sand Point, where the Bristol Channel starts, could be seen. Just. I took a couple of snaps  but all they show clearly is the dreadful weather. A pity, because on a nice day I bet the beach would be stunning.

P3230064    P3230067

Back in Weston, we paused for pictures of the old derelict pier and the newer one close to the centre, restored after a fire five years ago. Weston looked quite a smart place, hotels and shops looked in good nick and well kept although there were a few boarded up properties further back – not an uncommon sight in our seaside resorts, sadly. We would have loved to stop and have a good look around but it would have been no fun given the rain, so we turned tail and left.

There was a glance down memory lane a bit further down the coast as we passed the Pontins Holiday Camp at Brean Sands. I had a couple of holidays here with my Mum & Dad – many years ago now of course, but it didn’t look as if it changed much at all. Further still was Burnham-on-Sea. your typical bog standard seaside resort but we did stop at a local butchers for pies and burgers – yes, the diet is still going strong.

We had left the heating on low but it took a while for Patsy to return to habitable temperature. We stayed put for the rest of the day, a brief excursion to the site shop for some more stock for our er, hobby. The wind had increased considerably and the lightweight awning was taking a bit of a battering.

Saturday, and dry at last, although the mercury had dipped so far it might have gone in to hibernation – and who could blame it. Back in to Glastonbury for a closer nose around some of the great shops. It’s a different world from the average high street – a very chilled and laid back feel and not a whiff of marijuana anywhere – not that I could detect anyway. Plenty of incense stick burning though, and a few less than approving glances in my direction. At the time I thought little of it.

We headed south, through Street  and down to Yeovil. It took a little while to locate the centre, surrounded as it was by retail and industrial parks on the periphery including one of the towns major employers; Agusta Westland Helicopters. We picked up a few bits and bobs at one of the shops and had a very short stroll along the main shopping street. Now it was cold, dull and windy and we weren't here for long but it was certainly not the most attractive town we’ve been in. The usual chain stores can be found rubbing shoulders with cheque cashing outlets, pawn brokers and bookies. Maybe a sign of the times.

A bit further on and just across the border into Dorset is Sherborne.  Known at least for it’s famous school of the same name, there are in fact five fee paying schools in the area and it’s wealth is obvious in stark contrast to Yeovil. It was actually on our list to do when we stayed in Wareham Forest last December – which you can read about here if you missed, or managed to avoid. Lovely narrow winding lanes and ancient stone cottages set the scene for the lovely Sherborne Abbey which provided a welcome relief from the biting winds. It wasn’t until we left however that I spotted the sign about no photography. Oh well!

P3240075P3240077  P3240076

P3240078P3240080  P3240079

P3240086 P3240090

 P3240096P3240095   P3240097

We returned to Glastonbury chilled to the bone, hungry and in need of a pint. First up was ‘The Who’d a Thought It’ and a lovely Best Bitter from Palmers. Sadly the kitchen wasn’t yet open so we had to move on. Next up was the Beckett Inn and an IPA – Henry, from Wadworth’s. Food options were limited here so we went across the road to the 100 Monkeys Cafe for a burger and a coffee.

Now, I mentioned early about the disapproving glances. Well there was more of them. I’m used to the odd curious glance when out and about, particularly with the long coat gothic//Van Helsing thing going on. In a world full of skinny chinos and trainers, it’s a look that certainly stands out. However it suddenly occurred to me,  when tucking in to aforementioned burger that in an area full of veggie and vegan cafes, and a general love of all animals and plants vibe, that marching around dressed top to toe in dead cow perhaps wasn’t very subtle. Even my bag was leather.  Maybe Whitby would be a good future destination for Patsy and at least one of her occupants.

The young man on the counter wasn’t perturbed though and we stood chatting as I paid the bill, He was curious about Brighton (?) and said he likes nothing more than a good smoke and a ride on his skateboard. I guessed he wasn’t talking about Marlboro or B & H.

We had one more pint then headed back to Patsy for a night in front of the telly.

So, that’s Somerset almost done for us although far from complete. We leave tomorrow and return east, to Littlehampton for a week on the Caravan Club site there and our first ‘meet’ with the Freedom Club – a group for gay caravanners. It’s been good fun – the weather notwithstanding of course, and I’ll say it again – The Old Oaks is the best site we have ever been on, by far. My water and waste duties will resume tomorrow as we’re too mean to pay for a serviced pitch!

There was an anniversary of sorts on Friday – it was a year ago that we picked Patsy up from the dealers and I had my first experience of towing. We hadn’t planned to celebrate but the occasion was marked by one of the gas cylinders running out. Having done a quick calculation, two cylinders have given us 152 days of actual caravanning and I reckon that’s good going, considering we’ve cooked most nights and used gas for heating too on occasion. All for less than 30p a day.

Don’t forget, you can drop me an email at aloadofnonsense@gmail.com  - it would be great to hear from you. If you are on the email list pop over to www.alodofnonsense.net to have a look at the web version. All my blogs are on there along with other travel related stuff too.

Finally, thanks to Tara and her wonderful team for making us feel so welcome. They all do a grand job here of running a great site. Sorry gang, but you going to have to put up with us again at some point!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Somerset – More than just Cider pt 2

Well, rain has stopped play, although hopefully only temporarily. We woke this morning to gusting winds and lashing rain and have decided at least for the time being to stay put. So, with the boiler stoked and morning ablutions completed I thought I should get you up to date with what's been happening. Which, given that there’s only a day to talk about, probably won’t take long!

First up yesterday was the lovely little city of Wells, which has the distinction of being England's smallest city. An easy six miles from Glastonbury, we arrived and negotiated the narrow streets to find a nice central car park, which also had the advantage of having some spaces. I always find this helps.

The market square was first and indeed the market was in full swing. No cheap tat from the Orient here – not that I could see anyway – but lots of locally and regionally produced stuff, from clothing to some stunning hand carved wooden furniture. There was some food too. Well lots. Breakfast was still navigating it’s way through my digestive system, but the sight of some truly delicious looking portly bangers brought on hunger pangs. Add to that the cooked meats, cheeses and pies and I was almost drooling. Still present are the kerbside gutters – the only other place I’ve see these is my old home town of Cambridge – and there they have been largely done away with – due to ‘elf & sayfety’ no doubt.

Through an archway at the far end of the market square was the Bishops Palace and Gardens. We didn’t go in  - and the moat and high walls made sure we couldn’t see inside but there was still ample opportunity for photos as we walked around the perimeter. Wells’ iconic cathedral could be seen looming in the background.

 P3210003 20130320_100726

Coming almost full circle – well, a sort of square I guess, we happened upon the uniform parade of houses in Vicars Close standing smart and tall with their wonderful chimneys. Built in 1363 they housed the Vicars Choral who sang in the Cathedral choir

P3210024P3210023  

Another turn to the left brought in to view the famous West Front. It looks far more impressive in ‘the flesh’ than on any photo I could take but you get the idea. It would have been nice to see it bathed in sunshine, but hey, this is Britain.

P3210016 P3210026 P3210054

Admission was free, save for a suggested donation and I happily paid extra for a photographers pass. It was certainly worth it – I may be a practising atheist but Cathedrals and the like still fascinate me. The fact that they managed to build these with out the benefit of J.C.B’s, concrete mixers or cranes, never mind computers, is amazing. The architecture and attention to detail is simply stunning.

 P3210035 P3210034  P3210036

 P3210048 P3210041

Having had a good look around and, remarkably, not been struck down by a bolt of lightning, emerged back in to the market square for a livener before a stroll around the city centre. A lovely little cafe called The Spinning Wheel, just off the high street done the honours with a lovely coffee and scone.

There are the usual chain stores to be found but independent shops still hold their own and it was great to find some old fashioned hardware stores and ironmongers with assistants that genuinely seemed keen to help.

Back in the car, we skirted the edge of Glastonbury and stopped at Street, the original home of Clarks Shoes. The headquarters still remains although production is no doubt carried out far far away these days. An outlet centre occupies the site of the old factory with all the usual suspects offering their wares. We wandered around then grabbed lunch at a cafe in the high street before returning to Patsy later on via  a foray in to the supermarket for provisions. No local brew for the evening this time but some delicious Jennings Bitter from Cockermouth, up in the Lake District. A truly delightful traditional bitter that we first came across on our ‘British Isles Tour’ last year.

So, as I finish up, it’s still raining and the sadistically cheerful gits in the weather centre suggest it will continue to do so. We’ll see how it goes but it may be that the cinema beckons later on. This evening we are actually going out for a drink – unbelievably for the first time this trip. We are meeting up with a new and former work colleague and her husband. Vicky used to drive ‘posh kids’ before moving down here to Glastonbury just last week – and I’m taking over her route after the holidays. It will be good to catch up – and may be even to sample some bowel busting scrumpy too…..

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Somerset – More than just Cider – Pt 1

Blogs. It seems everyone's’ doing one these days, and on just about every subject too, from hobbies, travel and DIY to more carnal matters. There’s plenty of those I can assure you. Since we’ve been putting the word out on Twitter about  ‘A Load of Nonsense!’ I’ve looked at quite a few centred around caravanning to see how others approach their writing. There’s some great ones out there too all written in a variety of different styles, but one in particular caught my eye. The blog itself outlines their trips out and about but I particularly liked the section describing the couples’ hobbies. There’s all the usual activities listed but the one at the bottom of the list caught my eye. Wine. Drinking it, not making it. What a great way to describe the fact that you enjoy a drink, describing it as a hobby. I like their style. So from now on, when we’ve spent the evening sloshing back  some cab sav to wash down the nightly cheese and biscuits, I’ll simply tell you we’ve been indulging in our hobby. And when we’ve spent the evening lurching from pub to pub sampling the local ale I can tell you that we’ve just been carrying out research for our hobby. Sounds much better than saying we’ve been on the pi$$. Again.

Talking of drinking, one the blog readers asked for a mention in the next blog, so here iIMAG0303t is. Paul can be found most lunchtimes propping up the bar in the Rottingdean Club, although as the afternoon progresses, it’s the bar that increasingly does the propping. If you are ever in the club say hello - he’s a nice chap, even when you get to know him! You’ll see a picture below of yours truly with him a couple of Saturdays ago.  We are in the club most Saturday lunchtimes for a pint or two and a toasty. Well sometimes three. Pints, that is, not toasties. Aren’t hobbies wonderful? Keen followers of the blog will note that for once I am not dressed entirely in black. Clearly the rampant melanophilia had abated somewhat that day. So there you go Paul, there’s your mention. First name only, if you want your surname in too that’s extra!

Right, enough of the fill. The reason that this has arrived in your inbox – those of you on the email list that is – is because once again we are away in Patsy, sited just a couple of miles away from the town of Glastonbury in Somerset. We left home Saturday morning heading west along the A27 turning north just after Southampton and going through Salisbury before heading west again. It took about three and a half hours in some pretty poor conditions – lots of heavy rain and winds buffeting poor old Patsy from side to side although the sun did put in a few all too rare appearances too.

So, the site itself. Wow! Quite simply the best we have ever been on. On the site of a farm, The Old Oaks  is beautifully laid out with individual six ‘paddocks’ housing 20 or so large, very level pitches. In fact it’s the first time for ages that we haven’t had to use the levelling ramps. On booking in we found that Tara – part of the family that owns and runs the site - had kindly upgraded us to a ‘super’ pitch as well, so we’re all hooked up with no water to fill or waste to empty. The shower blocks too were stunning – again, the best we have ever had on site – shiny, spacious and immaculately clean and tidy. You’d have to be very picky indeed to find any fault at all with this place.

17032013 (9) 16032013 (16) 17032013 (8)

17032013 (36) 17032013 (14) 17032013 (20)

So, as has become the norm having set up the van and had a much needed cuppa, we put up the awning whilst dodging the showers – just the small one again. It’s unlikely to be warm enough to sit out but come in handy for coats, shoes and so on. Patsy got a quick wash front and back too, just to keep her looking smart.

So, what have we done since we got here. Well, on Sunday some friends joined us for a couple of days, breaking their journey down to Cornwall to meet up with friends and family. There’s no room in Patsy of course but the site has little cabins to rent which are ideal for a stopover, or even longer for the more adventurous. Moreover it is a great way for caravanners to holiday with their non-caravanning friends – we could have pitched next to them if we wanted. We did accommodate a third guest though – their little Jack Russell called Buster. Dog’s are not allowed in the cabins so Buster stayed with us. Facilities for dogs are excellent too. As well as plenty of places to exercise there is even a hut with a  doggy shower. I kid you not – and the water is heated too. Talk about pampered pooches. There’s nothing they haven’t thought of here. It’s been good fun too, entertaining in Patsy. We’ve used the BBQ every night and celebrated St Paddy’s day with some Guinness. The on site shop sells some locally brewed real ale too so we’ve been able to enjoy our er, hobby to the full.

16032013 (13) 20130318_091337 16032013 (18) 16032013 (19)

On Monday morning we walked, well weezed,  up the Glastonbury Tour – a mound some 500 or so feet high with the remains of a church on the top. The weather was pretty kind and gave us some great views too. Now, some of you may not know this (!) but Trev has a heart condition, and went under the knife nine years ago for a quadruple bypass. We took our time, and paused regularly but he was particularly pleased to have made it too the top. For me, it was a reminder of how unfit I had become. Nevertheless it was worth it and a must if you come to Glastonbury.

18032013 (64)18032013 (60)  18032013 (44)

18032013 (40) 18032013 (43) 18032013 (32)

18032013 (28) 18032013 (41) 18032013 (49)

Having paused for breath and photos we descended via a different route and in to the town itself. On the face of it, similar to other small towns but it’s the range of shops that set it apart. Lot’s of outlets selling crystals, tarot cards, candles and the like. Books too on alternative’s to mainstream religion and politics. Pills and potions for every ailment including those of a more er, personal nature. I’ll let you know if they work – no on second thoughts…..A nice relaxed feel with a colourful clientele and hardly a chain store in sight. We eschewed the chance to pay to look around the old abbey – if I want to look at an old ruin I only need a mirror these days it seems. We paused at a Cafe (veggie, obviously) for a reviving coffee, then returned later for doorstep sandwich before getting a taxi back to the site.

18032013 (15) 18032013 (17) 18032013 (18)

18032013 (20) 18032013 (23) 18032013 (25)

18032013 (4) 18032013 (11) 18032013 (14)

Kevin & Lawrence have left us now to continue their journey south and west. We have no specific plans for the rest of the day (other than to get this out). It largely depends on the weather. The forecast is not good, but the early mist is lifting and the sun is breaking through. We’ve just been down to reception to have my photo taken with Tara & James and two of the Wardens; Drew & Sue. Later in the week – weather permitting we’re planning a visit to Wells and it’s stunning cathedral and a trip west to the coast. And It will soon be Patsy’s first anniversary too!

Thanks for reading – if you have that is and haven't just skipped to the photo’s! Do please email me at aloadofnonsense@gmail.com with any comments or questions. It would be great to hear from you.

P.S. Quick weather update. The sun has gone to replaced by clouds and some rather loud thunder so we may be staying put. So it may be beer o’clock!

P1010009 (Medium)