After a full on day in London - well as full on as it gets when your as out of condition as us – Saturday morning was a necessarily lazy time. The most energy we used was picking out our selections for our Weekly Wager. Energy that was largely wasted as it turned out. For a couple of years, following the discovery of a few quid lurking in an account with an online bookies, we’ve been having a flutter on the weekends Premier League football matches – 50p on each of the ten games. The fun was watching Final Score and debating whether to cash out early to secure some winnings. Last season was pretty successful, so much so that we upped the stakes – to a whole pound. Last of the big spenders eh? The reward for our confidence has been a steady decline in the kitty since the start of this season thanks to some truly weird results. Looks like the yacht, or at the very least a new long leather coat, is going to have to wait.
Anyway, after a relaxing morning it was time to head out again, and back to London Colney, a little way around the M25. Those paying attention in previous blogs will now that we called here on our first day out for a bit of ‘research’ at The Bull, which came highly recommended by friend and fellow caravanner Iain. His parents lived nearby so a get together was planned. We were a little early so I took the chance to grab a few photo’s – even in the December gloom and mist it was looking lovely:
Well, we had a great afternoon and missed the cut off for food thanks to constant chinwagging, so when it was time for a parting of the ways we adjourned to the pub across the road for burger and chips.
Sunday was our last day on site and to honest I would have happily stayed put in the caravan – she was warm and cosy and looked lovely with all the Christmas lights on, compared with the chilly damp gloom outside. Nevertheless we made the effort – and I am so glad we did.
First up was Forty Hall & Estate, just a few minutes drive from the site and easily walkable by those more enthused by such activity. The Grade 1 Jacobean Manor House is surrounded by 273 of gardens, farmland, parkland, lakes and meadows.
There was a small charge – three quid – to enter the house thanks to a Christmas exhibition, but normally it’s free – so are the surrounding gardens and so is the car parking. A great place to bring your four legged friends for a good run – although, this time of year you might want to bring some wellies. A picnic would be a good addition in the summer.
Next up – and barely a minutes drive back towards the site was Myddelton House Gardens. One Edward Augustus Bowles, a famous gardener – apparently – lived here in the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries and transformed the gardens into the design to be seen today. Understandably not looking at it’s best in December it was still a pleasant walk around and one could only imagine the riot of colours and smells that would greet you in the warmer months. Guided tours are available at certain times but always available is an audio guide for just £1.50. Something I wish we’d have done now. If you’re looking to have a nose around the house though, you can’t as it’s closed to the public.
There was a charge for parking here but it’s only a couple of quid for three hours. After our stroll around we headed for the tea room to replenish dwindling reserves. Tea served properly – in a teapot – and delicious toasted teacakes made for a very enjoyable – and far from expensive – experience. Thoroughly recommended.
Rosie too needed replenishing and once again I splashed the cash on some ‘super’ diesel. Yes it’s more expensive but we lavish her with it every so often and she certainly seems to run better as a result. At well over a hundred thousand miles now and hauling around a lard arse like Pasty – and us, she deserves a treat from time to time.
Sunday night brought with it the Last Supper – for this part of the trip anyway, and we contemplated whether to return to one of the various pubs we’d tried during the week. The adventurous spirit prevailed though and we opted to try another one – The Rose and Crown - again, not ten minutes drive away from the site. Well, talk about saving the best ‘till last. Sunday roast was on the menu but we both opted for steak pie – and it was stunning – full of tasty tender meat accompanied by heaps of fantastic veg, not too mention a huge Yorkshire pud and stuffing. Easily the best meal of the trip and we both came away absolutely stuffed. The beer was good too – nothing new for me to try but the London Pride was spot on.
So that was almost the end of our time at Theobald's Park. This area of Hertfordshire – which could easily be considered as the outer reaches of North London too - may not be on everyone's radar as a place to pitch up but there is certainly plenty to do and see. London is the more obvious draw and it’s pretty accessible from here, but there’s much more too and we’ve seen some of that this week.
Right, getting connected. For most of the week we used the mobile hotspot facility on my cheap and cheerful Lumia 535 3G phone running on the Three network with no problems. Connections was reasonably fast and stable. Then we switched to the site WiFi, and as we’re doing another Club site in the next year opted for the annual package at £20 for up to 12GB of data. Mostly OK but sometimes unusable and uploading was very slow.
We didn’t use the Huawei mobile WiFi adapter but popping in SIM cards from each of the major suppliers revealed 4G was available on all of them although signal strength varied.
There’ll likely be a bit of a break before the next part. We’re up in Cambridge now – at the Caravan Club site at Cherry Hinton – spending most of our time with Trev’s Mum, but we’ve already managed to catch up with a few friends too. So, have a great Christmas and check back soon for another blog from our next and last stop – near the Suffolk coast.