A Festive Threesome part 4 – Looking back

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a good night and that 2014 brings all that you wish for. Personally we intend to enjoy our new found love of caravanning even more but have pledged to try and lose a bit of weight too. Driving a  school minibus is hardly the most energetic of activities so I need to get organised with my push bike and maybe ease up on the research a little if I’m to stop my thickening middle getting, well, thicker!

Well, it’s wet and windy here again in Crystal Palace. Indeed  since that glorious day Sunday when were able to get out and about  and see at last, Crystal Palace  Park it’s done little else but rain, easing only in the evenings which at least made our er, research expeditions a little more pleasant.

In fact, since Sunday that’s about all we’ve done, the weather encouraging relaxed lazy days in the ‘van reading and generally chilling out – we’ve not even been in to central London, managing only as far as Brixton to check out a bar we’d been told was good. It was, though a lack of real ale lost it some marks.

We’ve met up with friends also on site and made some new ones too. Remember me talking about going to our first Freedom Club meet in Littlehampton over Easter? Well, there was a meet here too over Christmas and several guys have stayed on for the new year.

Last night, having decided early on, not to go in to town, the bars and pubs of Crystal Palace were the recipients of the Blogger in Black and the Portly Partners’ patronage. But first, we called in to reception for drinks and nibbles put on by the excellent wardens here on site. It was a thoroughly enjoyable half an hour or so and gave us the chance to chat to them and to other caravanners.

With one of our favourite pubs – Westow House – ticket only and long since sold out, the Postal Order – a Wetherspoons pub converted from an old Post Office - was the starting point, providing some reasonably priced solid and liquid sustenance. As we got our drinks, a couple of women on one of the table complimented me on my ‘look’ – which was of course the usual, black, black and more black. The number of empty glasses on the table suggested that their judgement may have been somewhat impaired but I was happy with the compliment nonetheless! Two more bars we intended to try were rammed so we adjourned to the Grape & Grain where the party was getting in full swing. The  barman serving recognised the Blogger in Black and said how much he enjoyed the blog, which was really nice of him. Next up, was the Royal Albert. We’d been in the night before and it was dead. Now, it was loud and busy but with a decent pint of London Pride, this was where we saw in the new year. The barman and quite possibly the ‘guvnor’ recognised us from the night before and thanked us for coming. That old trench coat of mine is certainly getting us noticed it seems. I wonder if I can get someone to sponsor me a new one? Anyway, a great atmosphere and a thoroughly good night all round.

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With little else to tell you about our current trip I thought I’d do what everyone else does and look back over the year just gone. It’s been a good year for us – a new home, lots of caravan trips but tinged with sadness too as we said goodbye to Ray, a great friend and brother-in-law.

Right, January. Patsy remained on the drive, up on axles stands to preserve her tyres. Trev returned to work slowing the drain on our finances a little whilst waiting for the bungalow to sell.

February saw our first trip of the year, to the Cotswolds. On the second night, rain turned to snow and we woke to a beautiful covering of the white stuff. It disappeared just as quick allowing us to see some of the lovely Cotswold villages such as Bibury, Burford, Broadway and Stow-on-the-Wold. I, at last returned to work thanks in no small part to a very good friend, something for which I will always be grateful.

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March saw us in Somerset, at the terrific Old Oaks site near Glastonbury. The weather limited sightseeing opportunities a little but friends from Brighton joined us for a couple of days and we had a good time.

On the way back from Somerset we stopped at Littlehampton over the Easter weekend and met up with other guys for our first Freedom Club meet. Chichester and Arundel got a look in and provided some lens clicking opportunities.

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The May half term break saw us back here in Crystal Palace for a week. Primrose Hill, Highgate Cemetery and Greenwich provided the visual stimulus, and the spectacular ‘War Horse’ rounded off a great week.

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July, and the long summer holiday saw us down in Cornwall, near Lands End for nearly three weeks of fantastic weather and great sightseeing before moving on to North Devon for another great week. We returned home briefly to finishing emptying the bungalow and handing over the keys before heading up – again with Patsy, first to Cambridge, then on to Banbury for the inaugural ‘Twittercamp’ meet of like minded Twitter users. It really worked too, most of us hadn’t met before but we all got on well and the two days passed far too quickly. Another meet (or possibly two) is being planned for 2014.

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The beautiful Chew Valley near Bristol was next with the beautiful city of Bath topping the list before returning to Brighton and staying on the site just 4 miles from home, whilst we got our new flat ready.

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The next half term in October saw us back, for the third time, here at Crystal Palace, with a day out in Birmingham, for the caravan show, a tour of the Houses of Parliament and a couple of trips to the theatre all enjoyed as well as the usual ‘research’.

So, with the current trip, all in all we’ve had a great years' caravanning. Next, sorry, this year is already being planned with the long school holidays providing plenty of opportunities to get away. Yorkshire and Ireland are both on the list and planning will start on the Europe trip too even if we don’t get to start it. We may cross the channel for a week to dip our toes in as it were.

Right, until February, take care all, and once again Happy New Year from Rich & Trev.

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