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, 27 July 2017

Adnams–Freewheel

20170712_194638What they say: “Adnams Freewheel is a straw-coloured English summer ale with aromas of citrus and peaches, beautifully balanced by a touch of gooseberry on the finish……Brewed using pale ale malt and golden naked oats and a wonderful combination of English hops – Ernest, Jester and Endeavour.”

And another light fruity summer limited edition ale for the summer.  Inoffensive – even for someone like me who prefers darker beers – and easy drinking at 3.6% A.B.V.

The Red Cow, Chrishall, Cambridgeshire. July 2017

Box Steam–Soul Train

20170708_145832What they say: “A blonde, continental style beer with a hoppy and fruity aroma and a refreshing citrus taste.”

Another pale fruity beer, anyone would think it’s summer. Needless to say, not really to my taste – it’s strength was subdued but at 4.7% A.B.V very much present.

The White Horse, Witcham, Cambridgeshire. July 2017

Everards–Sunchaser

20170707_194122What they say: “A refreshing and zesty ale, we looked further afield to Europe to find just the right hops and malt to create Sunchaser’s subtle flavours. Create your ‘sunchasing’ moment to enjoy this beer, Untitledwhether relaxing in the pub or harvesting like our Leicestershire fox!”

Yep, not one I’d rush back to though pleasant enough sitting in the garden of a pub on the banks or a river on a reasonably warm July night. 4.0% A.B.V.

The Swan on the River, Littleport, Cambridgeshire. July 2017.

Mordue – Workie Ticket (cask)

20170702_171231What they say: “A tasty, complex beer with malt and hops throughout and a long, satisfying bitter finish. 'Champion Best Bitter in Britain' award  2013 & 'Champion Beer of Britain' 1997.

Was delighted to come across the cask version of this after having really enjoyed the bottled incarnation some three years ago. Deliciously flavoured – and coloured too. Dark but not over malty. Guesting alongside the more regular Doom Bar at the time of our visit.

The Swan on the River, Littleport, Cambridgeshire. July 2017

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Great Newsome–Jem’s Stout

WP_20170518_20_27_51_ProWhat they say: “Dark mahogany coloured traditional stout. Complex aroma of liquorice, prunes & hop resin on the nose with a deep burnt coffee and liquorice on the palate.”

I do like a nice stout for a change and this was delicious. A lovely combination of flavours and at 4.3% A.B.V full bodied but not overpowering.

Robinsons–Pint of Thrones

WP_20170513_20_58_15_ProWhat they say: “The King in the North arrives in April and May! A traditional amber ale, full blooded, reliable & down to earth with a warm heart of spicy cedar.Level headed & big hearted that always wins the day.”

A visit to the Jolly Brewers is always a delight thanks to their ever changing range of cask ales. There was nothing wrong with this one – it just didn’t excite. Inoffensive but forgettable I found. 4.0% A.B.V

The Jolly Brewers, Milton, Cambridgeshire. May 2017

Church End–Gyle 5000

WP_20170513_20_58_26_ProWhat they say: “Church End Brewery’s 5000th brew! Could it be called anything else?! A deep amber bitter, malt driven, with a sharp hop bite, and lingering bitter after taste.”

A tad hoppier than my fussy palate normally enjoys but overall I like it. A nice pint and Church End’s 5000th brew. Well done. 4.0%  A.B.V

The Jolly Brewers, Milton, Cambridgeshire. May 2017

Franklins–Mama Knows

WP_20170506_13_45_18_ProWhat they say: “Our take on a British classic, Mama is the ultimate modern best bitter. A combination of US and UK hops give mixed berry flavours and a hint of papaya with a dry, earthy pine finish. A great all rounder.”

Not a usual haunt for us but after a busy open morning at the school this pub just around the corner was a welcome destination. The beer didn’t disappoint either – brewed in Sussex and very tasty. It went down rather too well. 4.1& A.B.V

The Ginger Dog, Brighton. May 2017.

Yates–Holy Joe

20170624_124819What they say: “Golden, with lots of citrus immediately evident in the aroma, and subtle malt emerging later. Plenty of bitterness features in the mouth along with slightly toasted, sweet malt flavours, pronounced tangy-citrus notes and spicy coriander. Bitter, hoppy, spicy and lightly toasted finish.”

The second from Yates to guest in our local and another very welcome one. Packed full of flavour but at 4.9% A.B.V, one to treat with respect.

The Rottingdean Club, East Sussex. June 2017.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Solwise - More WiFi options.

Many of you have read my review of the Solwise WiFi Booster Kit back in April. In fact given Trev the  Portly Partners’ enthusiastic activity on social media I would be surprised if you missed it! It’s been one of most popular reviews and a most useful bit of kit too. I wish I’d bought one ages ago instead of waiting for the opportunity to review one. It’s already saved us plenty in WiFi costs and I expect that will continue throughout the summer.

Talking of the summer I am excited to have the chance to evaluate two more products from Solwise, both of which are designed to pick up even weaker signals than even the impressive kit we reviewed. They do the same thing but what they can do it with differs, so lets take a look.

First up is the Outdoor USB Panel Antenna

DB-86WUUMAAAnSBThis connects to your computer or suitable router via USB like the Patriot that was in the kit we reviewed. A driver and utility disk is included but this won’t be needed if it’s paired directly with the Solwise router. Two jubilee clips are included for mounting on a suitable mast but I’m thinking that stout cable ties might be as effective. I have already bought his Vision Plus mast to give more height to our existing kit and the antenna should fix to that just fine.

This is a directional antenna so to perform to it’s potential it needs to be aligned correctly. Rotating the unit on the mast with semi-tight cable ties may be the way to go and I’m looking at ways to make alignment easier and avoid the sort of faffing associated  trying to align a satellite dish manually for example. I’m sure many have seen that carry on on site!

I’ve already had a play with this at home and whilst the environment is completely different to it’s intended use the results gave a clear indication of it’s potential once on site. First though I’ll explain my set up at home to put the results in to context.

My router – a BT Hub Version 4 - sits in the lounge of our flat and in the same room Speedtest.net reports speeds of anything up to 72 Mbps download through Wi-Fi. 

My laptop is situated in the ‘office’ also known as the dining room, spare room, Legs Down HQ and caravan paraphernalia storage area! It's two rooms down along the hall from the lounge and there I can expect around 8-12 Mbps download. Nothing like the speeds several walls and a few metres away in the lounge but still something many could only dream of!

With the antenna connected via USB and driver installed results were certainly interesting. Having the antenna laying flat on it’s back on the floor made little difference to download speed. However, positioning the unit upright and directing in roughly towards the BT router speeds improved to 28 Mbps. Up to three times faster than without. Three  minor adjustments to the antennas direction brought speeds progressively up to 32 Mbps – and this was still through several brick walls.

Now, as I said this in no way simulating it’s intended use but it does show two things – it’s potential power in picking up weak signals and the importance of correct alignment to achieve the best results. I’m very much looking forward to trying this out on site and paired with the Solwise router that we already have as part of the kit reviewed in April.

In addition we will also be looking at the Outdoor Panel Antenna.

net-wl-ant010pn-1WP_20170331_13_03_34_ProThis has an N-type connector and a bracket at the rear for wall mounting if you wish. For those of us that already have the kit that I reviewed however, this can directly replace the omnidirectional unit included in that kit – shown here in action.

Again, this device though is directional – so to work correctly and pick up weaker signals it needs to be aligned accurately. And again, I will be looking at ways to make this easier.

We will be having a thorough look at both devices throughout the summer with a written and hopefully video review to follow.

For those of you that have read enough and are already interested, the USB Panel Antenna is available for a little over £40 HERE. If you have the Patriot Wi-Fi Booster Kit then the Outdoor Panel Antenna is an excellent value upgrade at a little over £20 and you can see that HERE.

My review of the Patriot Wi-Fi Booster Kit can be found HERE and the accompanying video HERE

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Marstons - EPA

WP_20170413_20_47_55_ProWhat they say: “The taste of EPA is unique. Zing from the citrusy hops we use - Pow from its fuller flavour - Phwoar from the crisp finish that leaves you ready for more. It’s a refreshing, lighter blonde ale - 3.6% abv.

Ok, regulars will know that, given the description, this would not be one of my faves. But I quite enjoyed it on a warm spring day. Chill it a bit more than you normally would for a real refreshing drink on a summers day. Nice and light too at just 3.6% A.B.V.

April 2017

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Site Review – Run Cottage, Hollesley, Suffolk

We’ve now stayed at this site twice – between Christmas and New Year 2016 for 7 nights and more recently at the beginning of June 2017 for three nights.
The site is privately owned and is situated on the edge of the village of Hollesley in Suffolk on the Alderton Road. Access is recommended from the A12, the required junction of which is about 7.5 miles from the site. Directions given on the website are clear and advise the best route. Some of the roads may look small on a map but there is nothing of concern. You may want to check out our Site Arrival Video which shows exactly what you can expect on route.
DSC_0002As you enter the site, the reception is to the left at the rear of the house. A few camping essentials are stocked. Normal arrival time is from 1pm.
The site itself consists of two areas or paddocks and has just 45 pitches including 14 hard standings. Electric hook up is 10 amps and is included in the pitch fee for motorhomes and caravans but an optional extra for those in tents.DSC_0005
The facilities block is on your left as you enter the first paddock, with a washing up and laundry room on the left as you face it consisting of two large sinks with large drainers, a washing machine and a dryer. There is also a fridge freezer.
The Gents facilities consisted of two showers, two toilets and two wash basins. Showers are push button. I assume, not having had reason to look, that the Ladies is a mirror image! Further on is the waster water and CDP then at the end there are two ‘ensuite’ units each consisting of a toilet, basin and shower. During both our visits the facilities were kept immaculate and I’m delighted to report that the loo roll was some of the softest I’ve encountered on site!
DSC_0016A separate information hut was well stocked with leaflets, maps and pub menus along with a selection of books and DVD’s for swapping or borrowing whilst on site.
Dogs will love the pleasant 2 acre exercise field accessed through a bar gate and two wooden glamping pods overlook a large pond.DSC_0021
Satellite TV hook up is available as TV reception can be quite poor. A nominal fee is charged but you can borrow a box, remote and the required cables for free. We took advantage of this during our winter stay and it worked just fine.
WiFi is free and performed well for us. Both times we were in the first paddock so were closer than some would be.
On both occasions we found the site exceptionally well kept but the spring sunshine really brought out the site’s beauty. Clearly a lot of work goes in to keeping it so nice.
For a closer look why not take a look at our Site Tour video and Slide Show.
So, that’s the site. We’ve now stayed twice and wouldn’t hesitate to go back. It’s owners Andy & Michelle are friendly and welcoming and it’s a lovely environment to kick back and relax for a few days. But if you want to get out and about, what is there too do? Well, quite a lot!
DSC_0021Just a mile and half from the site is the coast, the nearest settlement being Shingle Street. As the name suggests there’s not a lot of sand about but it is a lovely place.
There’s also Bawdsey Quay just a few minutes drive away where, in season, you cab catch a foot ferry over to Felixstowe Ferry. DSC_0014
Orford castle is not far away as is the town of Woodbridge on the River Deben and Aldeburgh on the coast. Check out our short video showing some of the highlights HERE.
And for those that don’t want to stray too far the village pub and shop is within walking distance!
For more details visit www.runcottage.co.uk or call 01394 411309.




Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Friends & Family

Original eh? But however reminiscent it may be of a time before all-inclusive minutes, it does provide a suitable title for my latest blog. We have of course been away in the caravan again, and whilst our latest trip was planned originally as  a chance to hook up with again with my cousin, some friends came along too and we  ended up with a very enjoyable mini meet. 20170527_112730

One of the ‘joy’s’ of living on the south coast is that to go virtually anywhere north you have to get around London – which for most means a soul destroying bumper to bumper crawl along the M25. However it wasn’t London’s orbital which halted our progress this time but the M11 – pretty much as soon as we’d turned off on to it. Traffic backed up to quickly and so we sat there edging forward every so often.

A few, who clearly felt queueing was beneath them saw fit to try and barge in just before the junction splits off to north and south bound. A large black German  4 x 4 (quelle surprise!) proceeded to force his way in in front of me. Having already let someone else in, I could have held my ground but felt a little disadvantaged with Patsy on the back. I reluctantly decided preserving the No Claims Discount was preferable to the more instant gratification of not allowing him space but I suspect had I not given way we would have been exchanging insurance details – and probably a few choice words too. Selfish arrogant prick. And breathe…..

Mr 4 x 4 was attracting the ire of other motorists too though as we had now come to a complete standstill, leaving him with a significant portion of his backside sticking out into the other lane and causing an obstruction to motorists heading north. His kids in the back must have been quite alarmed by the blasting of horns and whether this was what caused him to eventually change his mind and pull back out and head south I don’t know. What was amusing though, was that a few minutes later, we were on our way.

There was little else of note to report on the rest of the journey, however if you find yourselves on the A142 approaching Ely there is a railway bridge with just a 9 feet clearance. We assumed – correctly, thankfully that Patsy would easily clear it. However it wasn’t until I consulted the handbook later on that there was just 3 inches or 75mm to spare. A little too close for comfort! There is a fork that takes high vehicles across the tracks and if you are at all unsure – please use it!

Our destination was Lakeside Caravan Park near Downham Market in Norfolk and my cousin Andy and wife Janet were already installed on a lakeside pitch having arrived the day before. He’d chosen the site because of it’s five fishing lakes and first impressions were that it was a very attractive site. Busy though, not surprisingly given it was a bank holiday weekend. Friend Alison from Kent was to join us a short while later for a long weekend, followed a little while later by her son Adam and partner Jamie.

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Sunday would see the arrival of Andy’s youngest – Amanda and partner Tim, who, we were delighted to learn had set the date for their wedding next summer. Monday brought with it eldest daughter Sarah and husband Derek and kids Braydon and Esmae and their brand new tent. We set up a row of chairs and a camera and watched them make a mighty fine job of putting it up for the first time.

Andy & Janet’s pitch became the focal point with gatherings most nights for burnt offerings from the BBQ’s. The geese and their gaggle of goslings entertained us and it was great, just sitting and chatting whilst the sun went down.

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Regulars will know that on most of our trips, no sooner are the legs down then we are out and about sightseeing, camera in hand and long leather coat flapping. Outings were few and far between this time, not because there wasn’t much to see, but simply because it was just nice sitting round chatting, reading and snoozing whilst soaking up a few rays.

We did manage a couple of brief excursions though – the first being a couple of miles up the road to Denver Sluice – where five watercourses meet and whose management helps prevent the Fens from flooding. There has been a sluice here since 1651, built be a Dutchman Cornelius Vermuyden. The Fens like Holland is very flat and the Dutch certainly know a thing or two about land reclamation.

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Of no interest to us was the pub, right by the water but we felt, in the interests of research, obliged to take a look and in fact that night we all returned for a meal which seemed generally well received.

Our only other excursion from site – other than a couple of quick trips to see Trev’s Mum – was to Ely. Observant readers may remember we visited Ely on our 2016 Spring Twittercamp in Cambridge, but didn’t get much further than the very impressive cathedral. This time - keeping the water theme going - it was the riverside that was the interest and having not been – probably since childhood - Id forgotten what a lovely spot it was. We were just in time to catch a short cruise along the River Great Ouse (how very lyrical) on a lovely old boast with a friendly skipper and some informative and entertaining commentary. I like river trips because it can give you a more varied perspective on a place than just pounding the streets. At six quid for around half an hour it was good value – the company is Liberty Belle Cruises – and they offer other cruises too such as evening outings to riverside pubs. Hmm, Ely might be in for a return visit….

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And that was our time in Norfolk. Not the usual sightseeing photo laden blog but after a hectic Easter getaway up north and a busy period at work it was nice to kick back with family and friends. We loved the site too and it’s on the list for return visit as there’s much more around here to explore. If fancy it yourself check out our site arrival video on YouTube.

So, until next time, thanks as always for reading.

Cheers

Rich & Trev

Monday, 5 June 2017

Solwise Mobile Internet Solution

Following on from our review of the excellent Wi-Fi booster system from Solwise, we were given the opportunity to evaluate some more tech – this time to get you connected via mobile networks when Wi-Fi isn’t available.
It’s high end – and not cheap - and we agreed that it would be of limited interest to many caravanners. However, following a few explorative posts in social media, a few of you did express an interest, so I’m going to give an outline of what it is, what it does and why it might be useful.
Like the Wi-Fi booster system the kit is formed of two separately available  components – the first of which is the router. We’ll look at that first.
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On the back there are four aerial connection points. Two are for receiving the mobile signal and indoor aerials are supplied or you can connect an external one if required. The other two are for transmitting the Wi-Fi signal to your devices. There are network ports to for devices that do not have Wi-Fi capability.
Behind the back panel are slots for two standard size SIM cards for the networks of your preference.
Set up was straightforward and I found that many of the default settings for your chosen network provider can be used. Like the WiFi system we looked at, you are urged to secure (and rename) the WiFi network that the device transmits.
There are a vast array of options for the more technically minded such as setting up an additional network – perhaps to share with friends. The use of the SIM cards can be configured in a number of ways – swapping from one to another if (when!) one network falls over or when a preset data limit is reached.
It is without doubt an exceptionally powerful and versatile device. See the link to the product on the Solwise website below:
As stated, the router can be used as a standalone device, but to get (and stay) connected in poor signal areas an external antenna is available. The antenna is omnidirectional so can be placed anywhere but height will help and a knowledge of where the mobile signal transmitter is will help in positioning the unit on the right side of the building and making the most of the available signal. Two five metre leads with connectors are included and both must be connected to enjoy the speed of 4G – more accurately called LTE.
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The antenna wont just work with the above router though. Many mobile Wi-Fi adapters like those from Huawei have sockets for connecting an external antenna – often hidden behind a flap on the edge of the unit. With suitable adaptors this will work with such devices and may be a great solution if you rely on a mobile network to get connected but frequently come across poor signal strength. A variety of both temporary and permanent fixing options are included. This may be a solution for anyone that wants to get connected on their seasonal pitch or holiday home when Wi-Fi isn't available.
Check the link below for more details:





Monday, 15 May 2017

How it all began....

Caravanning, it seems is a hobby that’s often passed down through the generations. Your parents done it, as a child you went with them and as an adult you carried on with it. I would think MOST of my caravanning pals fall into this category. There are exceptions of course – an I’m one of em.

My family never caravanned – or at least toured with one anyway. Sometimes a holiday might be in a static on the North Norfolk coast, and a couple of times in the Lake District. Most holidays – and we were fortunate to have one most years – were at holiday camps or B & B’s

As an adult I’ve been fortunate enough to travel a lot – as far afield as Australia and New Zealand, hopping between motels. The USA got a look in too and we got into cruising as well, being fortunate to travel on such iconic ships as the QE2 and the old SS France.

When my partner and I moved down south we took on a courier franchise – mainly because I couldn’t get a job – and as the round developed and income grew  a patterned emerged. After the Christmas rush we’d head off to the Canaries at the end of January for a week for some winter sun. We’d take a week in June when things were at the quietest and then again in October before the build up to Christmas.

Don’t worry, I’m getting to the point – honest!

In June of 2011 we stayed in an apartment owned by friends of friends down in Calahonda in southern Spain. Having run a business for a number of years they had emigrated to Spain to enjoy their retirement. A notion that was, at the time, was stirring in the back of our minds too. It turned out that they were caravanners and spent six months touring Spain in their ‘van deciding where they wanted to settle. What a good idea. We’d also harboured vague thoughts of touring Europe – not just for a week or so but properly – and caravanning provided a much more affordable way to do it.

The Christmas of 2011 saw us have a busiest period ever on the parcels, but the company that provided the work were becoming impossible to deal with. We both hated the work and eventually along came the straw that broke the camel’s back and we jacked it in. On what - to date - was our last trip to the Canaries, we decided to sell the bungalow and downsize to release a load of cash, buy a caravan and go off into Europe.

A very knowledgeable friend took us around several dealers to give us an idea what was out there and what we could get for our money. We weren’t looking at new because we didn’t want to risk splashing a lot of money on something we might not like. That and my natural aversion to spending money on anything other than essentials. Like real ale. It was a month later after viewing dozens of ‘vans that we finally settled on one – a 2 berth Coachman Pastiche from 2004. The dealers couldn’t have been more helpful and set us up with everything we’d need as beginners.

Our first trip was only a short distance away – to London! As you do with a caravan. Our friends were with us in their ‘van and we followed them up the A23 rather nervously, arriving eventually at the Caravan & Motorhome Club site at Crystal Palace. We had a great few days there and it couldn’t have gone better, but then it was time to head out on our own. To make sure we could cope with living in the ‘van for such a long time we embarked on a three month tour of the British Isles just a couple of weeks later. It didn’t start well – I broke the jockey wheel handle before we even left – and the weather for a lot of that trip was appalling. But here’s the thing – it didn’t put us off – we loved it. We came home in July and shortly after the bungalow went on the market.

And stayed there. Come January funds were running low and we needed an income. Luckily a friend was Transport manager at one of the local private schools. Trev started first then I followed shortly after – driving minibuses on the school bus runs. Early starts and late finishes – but time in-between and lots of holidays. The house finally sold that summer and we bought a flat. To date we’ve been away in the ‘van for just about every school holiday. Whilst most have been in the UK we’ve utilised the long summer break to travel Ireland and make our first foray onto the continent into France. The holidays do mean that we do get away a lot and whilst we haven’t totally abandoned the idea of an extended trip to Europe it seems silly to give up work again when we have so much time anyway.

And that, is how we got into caravanning!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Fit2Go Tyre Pressure Checker

A while back I reviewed the Tyre Pressure Monitoring System very kindly sent by the good folk at Fit2Go. It was remarkably easy to set up and you can find my written review HERE and a short video showing installation HERE.

Recently Fit2Go released a Tyre Pressure Checker to complement and work with their monitoring system. To promote the new product they ran a competition - and I was one of the lucky winners!

So, lets have a look at what it looks like and how it works:

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It's around 100mm or 4 inches long. At the front is the on/off button, display and the tyre pressure sensor indicated by the yellow logo. It is powered by 2 x AAA batteries (supplied) and a magnetic holder with self adhesive backing for fixing is included.

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Operating couldn't be easier. Switch on the unit - the battery level meter will appear in the right of the display.

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Turn it over and touch the yellow logo on the tyre pressure sensor located on the wheel. There will be a slight magnetic pull and the red led on the sensor will light up to indicate contact. (Yes, I know the wheels need a clean - as does the rest of the car!)

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Wait for the unit to beep, withdraw and turn over. The pressure in PSI will be displayed. It's that simple. However it will also read in BAR - just press the power button five times quickly to change, then use as above.

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So, it's compact, handy and easy to use. But, you may be wondering, if you have the system installed, why you would need to check the tyre pressures. Surely the monitoring system does that for you? Well, the monitoring system is designed to warn you of potentially dangerous changes in tyre pressure and temperature, but this device will help ensure your tyre pressures are spot on and working at maximum efficiency - and if you're as tight, sorry, as careful as me - that's got to be a good thing! And you don't risk losing air from your tyre - unlike conventional devices that need to screw on to the valve.

The product retails at £39.95 and can be ordered direct. For more details and to order, have a look at the website HERE.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

A pie, a park and a pint…..or two.

Blimey! It doesn't seem five minutes since we were trundling up the M1 on the way to the start of our spring getaway and now we’re back here in Sunny (thankfully) Saltdean.

The first school bus run of the term couldn’t have gone more smoothly – I suspect not all schools are back yet – and no overtime has allowed me to get stuck into the washing and ironing. And more importantly bring you the last blog of our trip away and our final stop, in Nottinghamshire.

The tow from Kilnsea was easier than expected. Fears that the A63 might have been at a standstill as it was when we went into Hull were unfounded. So, as usual we arrived at our final site early. Reception was closed for lunch but we didn’t have long to wait before we were pitching up.

Thornton’s Holt sits about five miles east of Nottingham and we chose it mainly because of the proximity of a bus stop which would make for easy access to the city. A new shower block was under construction and given our experience it can’t come quick enough, given the frequent lack of hot water in the showers. Once set up we pointed Rosie in the direction of the nearest supermarket thinking that it was about time we started having some meals in the ‘van again. The fact that the nearby pub was closed for redevelopment had no bearing on this whatsoever….

The city centre was the destination for a rather casual wander on Tuesday via the excellent bus service from the site. Sports fans will be interested to know that the journey takes you past Trent Bridge cricket ground and close to both Nottingham’s Football clubs – Forest and County – too.

There was no itinerary or plan, just a walk around to get a feel for the place - we have been before, a couple of years ago – and I didn’t even bother with the proper camera this time. To be honest I was not feeling inspired – which was weird after really loving it last time we visited. Nothing much had changed so it must have been me. The day wasn’t improved by deciding on lunch in Wetherspoons. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a fan of cheep beer and love that they champion real ale. I just wish they’d train their staff to serve people in order, but when the Duty Manager can’t do it properly. Oh well.

We were back in the car Wednesday to an attraction listed in the site leaflet. Wollaton Hall and Park is a short drive from the site although on the other side of the city and is really worth a look, not least because, bar a couple of quid for parking, it’s free.

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Whilst the grounds are impressive, inside the hall itself is interesting too. Since 1926, when the hall opened to the public, the city’s Natural History collection has been housed here.

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There’s a cafĂ© to replenish reserves although on a nice day, bring some chairs and a picnic and make the most of the lovely surroundings. You might get to see some of the deer that roam the park too.

Nottingham’s Industrial Museum is also here – housed in the stables but opening hours are more limited and sadly we didn’t get to have a look but it was still a great place to visit.

On a week’s holiday I never get out of the habit of waking at silly o’clock, but on longer ones such as this, the body does start to adjust and longer lie in’s become the norm. So it was nearly lunchtime when we arrived In Melton Mowbray – about a 40 minute drive from the site.

We had the usual wander around town. The impressive St Mary’s church was undergoing extensive restoration both inside and out but at least some of the exterior was scaffolding free. Elsewhere in the town there were signs that times were not so good – closed up hotels and shop units up for let.

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The gardens and river Wye provided some more lens clicking opportunities though.

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If there is one thing Melton is famous for is pork pies, and one shop that was certainly doing ok was the butchers. We came away with a pie and some of their sausages and I can tell you now – the sausages were divine and I’ve not tasted a better pork pie. Delicious.

Good Friday saw us back in Nottingham and catching up at last with friends Chris & Pat who we hadn’t seen for far too long. ‘Lunch’ lasted most of the afternoon, so needless to say there was some extensive er, ‘research’ carried out too. We had a great chinwag and catch up, trying – and clearly failing by the looks of it – to put the world to rights. Oh well, another time!

Friends and food were on the menu again (sorry!) on Saturday as we had been invited to lunch with Peter & Pam up near Sheffield. An hours drive but if you’ve ever get to taste Pam’s cooking you’ll know it was worth it. Beautiful melt in the mouth roast lamb followed by home made cheesecake. I even got to take home what was left of the cheesecake. It didn’t last long!

And that was it for another trip. A nice early start on Easter Sunday and a trouble free trundle home. The Easter getaway is always my favourite and this one didn’t disappoint. Longer days, better weather – usually, but the pollen levels haven't risen sufficiently enough to try and make the lives of us hay fever sufferers a misery.

Right, what’s next? Cambridgeshire and Suffolk for the next half-term, then the continent beckons in the summer. Exciting times ahead!

Thanks, as always, for reading. I hope you enjoyed it.

Until next time, cheers!

Rich & Trev.