After the visit to the excellent Coventry Transport Museum at the weekend, the motoring theme continued on Wednesday with a trundle back down the M40 to Gaydon and the British Motor Museum, close by to one of Jaguar Land Rovers’ sites.
Originally opened in 1993 the museum building also houses a conference centre and there were quite a few suits milling about when we were there. Car parking looked plentiful – and was free – although it didn't seem particularly busy given it was half-term.
The collection comprises over 300 cars and there are some great examples of the British car industry's finest – and not so finest – achievements.
The collections centre in a separate building opened in November 2015 allows the public to see the reserve cars – those that they do not have space for in the museum, and the workshop where the cars are restored. There were some great finds here too – the last ever traditional – some say proper – Mini to be made and the last ever car to bear the Morris name – The Marina’s unloved successor the Ital.
Downstairs you will find Jaguars – lots of them, with examples all the way through the company's history including concept and super cars from various motor racing categories. My personal favourites have always been those from the seventies – what I like to call the ‘Arthur Daley’ Jags. Lovely looking motors.
Got to my British Motor Museum Photo Blog for more pictures.
The evening brought with it another ‘research’ expedition, centred at the Red Lion in Corely Moor, about a 10 minute drive from the site. Well, what a find. I had the best meal of trip here – by some margin and although I’m no foodie and like good honest pub grub, opted for a Cajun chicken pasta and it was divine. Absolutely wonderful. Trev opted for more traditional roast beef in a giant Yorkshire and was equally impressed. Add to that crystal clear well kept ales and friendly prompt service in what was a great experience. Not expensive either. My only regret was not having room for a dessert – I can imagine them being equally scrumptious.
Thursday saw us enjoy a nice long lie in followed by a visit to Solihull – somewhere I knew next to nothing about other than it being voted the best place in England to live – and second in the UK behind Edinburgh – in 2015
The properties lining the road in gave you an idea of it’s affluence and the town centre was clean – very – and had a nice feel to it too. There were the usual chain store suspects on the high street and Solihull too suffered like Coventry in the second world war so a lot of it is not that old. Pleasant enough though and certainly a lovely place to live.
‘Research’ that evening took us to The Brickmakers Arms – again less than 10 minutes from the site. Plenty of real ale on offer and good honest pub grub too. Somehow we both managed to squeeze in all three courses. Once again, great food, great ale and friendly service in pleasant surroundings and another one I’m pleased to recommend.
Many of these pubs came on recommendation – thanks again to Richard whose local knowledge has been invaluable. However, I’ve also been using www.whatpub.com. An excellent online resource put together by CAMRA – the Campaign For Real Ale. It has a comprehensive search and filter facility so you can find exactly what you are looking for. For my separate blog about all the ale I get to sample go to www.alearchive.co.uk.
Friday was, sadly to be our last day at Somers Wood. We had a party to go to on Saturday night back in Saltdean and wanted to be able to make an early getaway in the morning. So, much of the packing up was done and Patsy was soon smelling of Mr Sheen too.
The late afternoon saw us back in Birmingham to meet up with a friend and fellow caravanner we’d not seen for a while. We took the train in again, parking this time – for free - at the station at Hampton-in-Arden. Five minutes drive from the caravan site and less than twenty minutes by train from Birmingham's New Street station. There was no ticket machine and no ticket office open so we assumed a conductor would appear at some point on the journey.
They didn’t, so we had to ask to be let through the barrier at Birmingham, so we could go and buy return tickets. Yeah right. Now, I’m not dishonest, but neither am I stupid. Well not that stupid. Single tickets for the journey back procured, we headed for something to eat – a largely forgettable burger – then a mooch around prior to our meet.
You may recall me mentioning that on our Sunday night visit with Richard, one of the pubs on our visit was closed. Well, the Old Joint Stock was most certainly open Friday afternoon so, in the interests of ‘research’ obviously we had to pay a visit. It’s a Fullers pub – all that way from that there London and does the usual Fullers ales as well as specials and seasonals. Being a Fullers fan there wasn’t too much I hadn’t already tried but did find one. It’s about the surroundings here though and it has, apparently been voted one of the Top 25 pubs in Britain. I only took one – very poor – photo on my phone, so check on the Gallery and 360 tour on their website to have a closer look.
Next up was our meeting point with our friend Pete. A good twenty minute amble across to the Jewellery Quarter and the Rose Villa Tavern. Again, another good selection of ales in great surroundings and a great chinwag and catch up before it was time to head back.
Neither of us fancied the walk back to New Street but fortunately, the new Metro was just five minutes walk away and would take us to the station for the princely sum of a quid. I was very impressed with this. Not only was the journey smooth but the maps, timetables and pricing were clear and concise – not always the case with public transport. Particularly when you don’t carry your reading glasses…..
And that was the end of our time in Warwickshire. The journey home was good and just over four hours after leaving Somers Wood, Patsy was tucked up in storage. We had a cracking week in Warwickshire. Lots to see and do and all easily accessible thanks to the great location.
So, to finish, a bit about the site. Easy access from the motorway – no more than a few minutes from the M42 and there’s no single track roads – so beloved of caravan sites – to negotiate. The village of Meriden is around a mile away but close by you have a golf course and fishing lakes. Somers Wood is a member of the Tranquil Parks group of sites and is thus Adult Only. There are all the usual facilities on site and a barrier at the entrance ensures security for your beloved tin tent.
Check out my Somers Wood Photo Blog for a look around the site.
Keeping in touch wasn’t a problem. Trev used the site WiFi – provided by Caraweb – at a cost of a tenner for a week with a maximum data usage of 2GB. I used the Hotspot facility on my ‘Three’ phone with no problems, but the EE loaded dongle also reported a good signal and Vodafone was fine for both voice and data on Trev’s mobile.
We found TV reception fine on our directional aerial on the van with out a booster, but satellite hook-ups were available if you bring your own receiver.
Right, that’s it for us until the Christmas holidays, when another ‘Festive Threesome beckons’. So until then…