Good afternoon/evening/morning from a rather murky but still wonderful Northumberland. It depends on when I get this finished as to when you get it, hence the all purpose intro. We are sited just outside the village of Acklington in a rather nice little site conveniently located in the grounds of a er, pub. We’ve already had once ‘research’ expedition last night and may have to return to re-evaluate later. Hence the possible delay….
Our journey north began on Friday with a run up to Cambridgeshire and a site we haven’t tried before - at Brampton, just off the A14. The reason for the stop was twofold - firstly, we would be with Trev’s Mum, AKA HRH for Mothers Day - and secondly, as I indicated in my last blog, this would allow us to get up North hopefully without refuelling.
The journey up was trouble free - even the Dartford Crossing is now a bit quicker since the removal of the toll booths - and we pulled into the Willows Caravan Park around 12:30pm.
I will confess to being a little concerned when we first arrived. The sight of a large number of the ubiquitous Hobby’s and other large twin axle ‘vans with an accompanying large gas cylinder indicating the possible presence of our travelling friends brought certain prejudices racing to the surface. However, thankfully our fears were to prove unfounded.
Set up was quick and we were soon off down the A14 to see the aforementioned HRH.
Now, as I said the site is in Brampton - which sits on the river Ouse and used to have it’s own Mill, just a short walk from the caravan site. Only it’s not a mill anymore. It’s a pub. How considerate. We called in on the way back on what, remarkably was to be our only visit. For the record, there were 2 real ales on offer and the food was excellent. Another point in the sites favour. If you don’t want an all singing all dancing campsite but just a field and a tap, there is Caravan Club CL just across the road too.
While most of our time was spent with HRH we managed to catch up with friends on the Friday night that we weren't able to get to see at Christmas. On Saturday night we met up with a fellow Twitterer and his family who will be joining us at Twittercamp in May. We joined them for grog and grub at their local and had a very nice evening.
Trev cooked dinner at HRH’s on Sunday and very nice it was too with Trev’s sister and brother-in-law joining us. It was when we returned to the ‘van late afternoon we discovered the battery was almost flat and clearly not charging. The mains circuit supplying the charger had tripped out suggesting it had failed. Obviously nothing could be done except hope that it recharged overnight.
Well, it didn’t, so it was a poorly Patsy that we hauled up the A1 on Monday morning. Trev took the first watch and we paused at Wetherby services to refuel - us you understand, not Rosie, she was doing well and being as frugal as could be expected. In between slurps of superheated coffee I phoned the dealers that we’d bought Patsy from - Marquis Leisure. She was still under warranty and they confirmed that the charger unit would be covered. It also transpired that they had a branch in Birtley, just north of Chester - le - Street and just off the A1. Useful and VERY handy. I also called a mobile service engineer who covers Northumberland and whom I chatted to several times on Twitter. Sadly, he was unable to do the warranty work as he wasn’t VAT registered, so the dealers it was.
Well, credit where it’s due they could not have been more helpful. Within half an hour of pulling in, the fault had been diagnosed - it was indeed the charger that had gone tits up - the job authorised by the warranty company and the part ordered. It was easy enough to fit the replacement so we said we’d call in the next day to pick it up. So, a big big thanks to Paul who interrupted his lunch break to diagnose the problem and to Jackie who organised everything and handled the paperwork. It’s all to easy to dealer bash - I’ve done it myself, but they couldn’t have been better. Thanks again Marquis Leisure, it’s really appreciated.
An hour later we were on site and setting up having successfully completed the journey without refuelling as hoped. Very large gravel pitches with electric and water hook up too. The Railway Inn sits on the outskirts of Acklington and as the name suggests is near the railway station. Very few actually stop - about 2 a day the barman told us later - but plenty come through and a glance across at the line indicated that the majority were Virgins. Trains that is…..
We ate in the pub - well it would have been rude not too - and obviously indulged in a little research too. There is only one ale on out of season but it was very thoroughly researched I can assure you. There was a Northumbrian music night on - I had to demonstrate my ignorance by asking exactly what Northumbrian music was. Anyway, think Celtic folk style music with violins, guitars and flutes and you’ll get the idea. It was more of a jamming session really - as the evening went on more and more turned up to play. It was very enjoyable and a fitting start to our time in the North East.
So, that completes part one. Well almost. Friends and followers on Twitter and Farcebook will know that Patsy has had some attention lavished on her since our last trip to the Isle of Wight. Her old jockey wheel had worn almost to the rim so that was the main job, and I added a handle to the shaft as well to make manoeuvring easier when the going is a bit rough.
The ancient and thirsty outside light was also replaced with a brighter more efficient LED model. Only today, we added a clock to the washroom, above the wardrobe door. She gets all the attention, bless her!