The Road to Somewhere Part 5 – What’s it all about, Alfie

Hello and welcome to another riveting blog documenting our fun packed summer tour of er, Cambridgeshire. As I type a traditional British summer is in full swing. The wind is howling and the rain is lashing against the van. Yes, one is feeling a little sarcastic this morning I’m afraid. Although I am impressed with the way in which the guy next door has taken down his awning this morning, despite the arctic conditions outside. So precise, methodical and controlled and any offers of help I am sure would be a hindrance. That’s my excuse for staying put in the warmth of Patsy anyway!

I’m having a day ‘off’ from visiting HRH in Addenbrookes today, but it looks like Trev may be there most of the day. He’s having a meeting with someone this afternoon about options for when Hilda is ready to be discharged. So things seem to be moving at last – probably so they can clash with our planned trip to Devon in a couple of weeks. Sorry, there I go again, grumpy cynical old git.

So, I’ve mentally composed a to do list for today. Writing this blog is one, so at least I’ve made a start. Getting the www.alearchive.uk up to date is another – there’s at least half a dozen beers to write up. Third is to spend some time learning some new video editing software, a trial of which I’ve downloaded. There’s some Site Arrival videos to prepare, the ‘van could do with a bit of a tidy up and I need a haircut. The clippers are charged and ready to go. Trouble is, none of them are urgent so a bit of self-motivation and discipline is needed or I’ll end up spending all day on Facebook and Twitter, interrupted by rather more frequently than desired trots to the toilet  thanks to a pint last night which was most definitely past it’s best.

Right, enough of the whinging. Probably. Those who’ve followed our exploits on social media will know that there has been some events of note to report since my last missive other than visits to Addenbrookes hospital and pubs various. Here we go.

Last Monday, when we were still at Lynchets Farm, I woke to hear the idle of an unfamiliar diesel engine on site. Being naturally nosey and wondering if was a very early arrival, I raised the blind on the door to have look, only to discover an ambulance outside one of our neighbours. It transpired that the gentleman - Donald - had had severe chest pains and feared a heart attack. They stabilised him but decided a visit to hospital was necessary and whisked him off, not to Addenbrookes but Stevenage. His wife Pamela elected to follow in the car but there was a third party to consider – a 13 year old Jack Russell shaped object by the name of Alfie. Knowing from experience that Pamela likely had a long day a head, I offered to look after Alfie. I should point out right now that my offer was in no way made in the knowledge that I would be unable to visit HRH in hospital that day. Whatsoever. At all. Honest!

20170718_144117Anyway, dear old Alfie was as good as gold and no trouble at all, although he was either deaf or just ignoring me – but as a married man I’m used to that. He even ended up joining us in a couple of pubs and seemed to love it. We moved site on Wednesday and Alfie came with us so Pamela could again visit the hospital, but we took him back in the evening and were delighted to see Donald back having had an angiogram and then a stent. It’s all to easy to knock the NHS but we all agreed what fantastic care Donald had and to get him on the road to recovery so quickly was superb.

That in a way mirrors HRH’s experience. Her care has been nothing short of superb, although she has now been moved from a single room to a ward and I’ve lost any opportunity to discreetly bring things to a conclusion with a suitably positioned pillow. I AM joking…

As I mentioned, we’ve moved site and after booking in for a few nights, they’ve agreed to put up with us a for while longer and we are here now until we hopefully head down to Devon in just under a coupe of weeks. We’re back at Highfield Farm Touring Park – one of our favourite sites near to Cambridge – and whilst it is more expensive, the showers alone are worth it. There was nothing wrong with the one at Lynchet Farm – it was at least as good as what we have at home - but the ones here are just divine. I frequently emerge shrivelled like a prune after an extended stay under the hot monsoon. Just lovely.DSC_0050

No sooner had we arrived though, then we were off for a night away – heading west minus Patsy – to our venerable Honda’s ‘birth’ place, namely Swindon – or at least the outskirts. The reason? We had been invited to the launch of a range of Caravans – the 2018 Unicorn range from Bristol based manufacturer Bailey. This was very exciting for us and quite an honour to be considered worthy of an invite. The hotel in which the launch took place was actually owned by Honda too. The Stanton House Hotel is popular with visiting executives from Japan thanks to it’s proper Japanese restaurant upstairs and it’s proximity to the Honda car plant where dear old Rosie was (hopefully) lovingly crafted several years ago.

The launch was Friday morning but I took the opportunity to get all my photo's on the Thursday afternoon in the sun, then indulging in some research thanks to the surprise presence of a real ale on the bar, before writing up my blog – the ale ensuring it would be down to it’s usual standard -  so it could go live when the embargo was lifted midday the following day. It was great to meet up with fellow bloggers and vloggers as well as caravan industry journo’s and execs from Bailey for a good old chinwag. It’s the first time a caravan manufacturer has included us bloggers and vloggers in such an event and goes to show how seriously they are taking social media. Something other manufacturers should consider as it ain’t going to go away. Social media will no doubt evolve – as it already is – but it’s here to stay and companies need to embrace it.

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Right, for once this trip I’ve managed to waffle on sufficiently to hit the word count. Do please check out the links below if they are of interest.

Thanks again, as always for reading. I never imagined when I started writing about our Egypt trip in an email some eight years ago that my recollections of our travel experiences would evolve into a blog  this popular. And that’s only because you lot are kind enough to read it. Cheers!

Rich & Trev

Lynchets Farm Site Arrival

Lynchets Farm Site Tour

2018 Bailey Unicorn Photo Special


Bailey Unicorn – 2018 Photo Special

Blimey. I never imagined for a minute that when I started scribbling about our travels in a caravan, that we would be invited to the unveiling of new caravans by the UK’s longest established manufacturer of caravans – Bailey of Bristol.

So, here we are, just outside Swindon – Rosie’s ‘birth’ place in hotel owned by Honda no less to get first look at Bailey’s best selling range of caravans – the Unicorn.

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There are ten layouts in the new range – and we were able to nose around eight of them here and I’m delighted to be able to share with you some photo’s of them – and as owners of a Coachman – albeit an ageing one – we were both very impressed.

There are a number of specifications that would have once only been considered optional extras but are now fitted as standard across the range – the TyrePal Tyre pressure monitoring system for one and a plethora of those all important USB charging points along solar panels and the wiring for motor movers. TRACKER Monitor Stolen Vehicle Recovery System with intruder alarm is standard as is the more expected AL-KO ATC system and wheel locking point.

Alde central heating is standard so no more dry throats and bunged up sinuses courtesy of the once popular blown air system:

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Extensive testing at Milbrook Proving ground resulted in structural changes that allow more internal space and seats and beds up to 5% and 10% longer as well as extra space in the kitchen areas which was instantly noticeable when we had a nose around. The full range will be available to view at the NEC show in October.

As a couple without kids our interest was mainly in the 2 and 4 berths. Sadly there was no side dinette here – that will be ready for October, but we really liked  the two berth Seville:

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Loads of wardrobe space – important for the Blogger in Black - and a sizable shower too:

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Our favourite layout – and one that may well go for next time is that with twin rear beds – featured in the range as the Cadiz, but there is plenty to interest families too. The six birth twin axle Segovia is one well worth considering:

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There are five fixed double bed options are here too and I love the window opposite on the Cartagena and Vigo models:

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There’s plenty more features worthy of a mention. Ecocamel shower heads and a clothes rail in the bathroom and a natty dustpan and brush incorporated into the door bin:

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A gas bbq connection point and mains and aerial outlet for the awning telly and heavy duty legs fitted to the rear as standard. I’ve never seen such a shiny leg!

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So, there you have it. The 2018 Bailey Unicorn range. Many thanks to Bailey for inviting us and what a lovely location it is too. It’s been great to meet up with fellow caravan bloggers and vloggers too to share in this special occasion. See more in our next blog as Legs Down’s Road to Somewhere Tour continues.

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Thanks as always for taking the time to read, it’s much appreciated. For more information head over to www.baileyofbristol.co.uk 00

Rich & Trev

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The Road to Somewhere Part 4 – a ‘van with a view

Me again, reporting – still – from Cambridgeshire, though we have now moved sites, to the south of the city and a little bit closer to Addenbrooke’s where HRH, aka Trev’s Mum continues to reside. No real news I’m afraid – she’s looking better some days but as I type there’s still no indication of when she might get parole. Seriously though, the care she has been getting has been superb although I’m sure she has tried their patience considerably on occasions…..

Addenbrooke’s hospital is a place I’ve got to know well over the years – as visitor much more than a patient thankfully – and it is now almost unrecognisable from years ago – the original buildings are still there but swamped with continual development not just of the hospital itself but a massive bio-medical research campus. A major addition is the new Papworth Hospital – due to relocate next year. Papworth, you may know specialises in heart and lungs, from stents to transplants and it is there that they done such a great job on Trev’s ticker some 14 years ago.

The hospital has been on it’s current site since 1976, however the original building was in Trumpington Street in Cambridge and founded in 1766 thanks to the one Dr John Addenbrooke, a fellow of St Catherine's College, who left a gift of £4,500 in his will to fund a hospital for the poor. A considerable sum of money then and Dr A. died aged just 39 too.

So, what else? Well, I deeply regret casting aside my virtually unused Costa loyalty card a few months back as the one in the hospital concourse has received a considerable amount of the Blogger in Black & Portly Partner’s custom over the past couple of weeks. When travelling we always try and use independents but at the hospital options are limited to Costa and er, Costa. Oh well, I’ve tasted worse.

Right our new site – Lynchets Farm - as I said is south of the city, in the village of Great Chishill. It’s a CS (Certificated Site) on a farm and it was a cracking find by Trev, not least because of the tremendous views over the south Cambridgeshire countryside. Duxford, with it’s Imperial War Museum is not far away and the day we arrived they were having an air show, necessitating some nifty cut through a few villages to avoid the inevitable traffic jams on the main road. Not a route you’d normally choose with a caravan but local knowledge helped. The Site Arrival video – when I get on to it, will show the best way to the site. The Red Arrows, who opened the show made a couple of passes quite near to the site which had the lenses clicking.

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Great Chishill is the highest point in Cambridgeshire – not the greatest of achievements when you consider how generally flat it is around here but it does means that The Pheasant can boast that it is the county’s highest pub. It’s also a very short walk from the site – now you get the picture. Yes, we’ve visited a few times, mostly for a pint or two – but for food as well at the weekend which was terrific, although I’ve never had a rhubarb cheesecake served this way before – beats a wooden board or a shoe box I suppose:

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Trev has been doing pretty much all the driving since we left home. My knee has been playing up big time – a more severe reoccurrence of a problem I had a couple of years ago. I’m trying to rest it as much as possible so Trev has been behind the wheel and to relieve the monotony has used various different routes to the hospital and back passing through some of south Cambridgeshire’s lovely villages. Again, local knowledge thanks to his days as a Cambridge cabbie but also because of when we lived here we’d always try a different village pub on a Wednesday night for a meal and a pint or two.

A number have sadly gone – to be replaced by convenience stores, sometimes a curry house or more often than not, flats or houses. One that we were delighted to see still thriving though was the King William IV at Heydon – the next village along from where we are staying. The King ‘Bill’ always had a reputation for good food and for it’s landlady Elizabeth who would always be found behind the bar in full goth attire – long black Victorian dress, white make up and black eyeliner – the works. She looked great but passed away some years ago sadly. However they’ve kept the d├ęcor the same – farming implements, dark wood, lots of brass, leather and big wooden tables suspended on heavy chains. It still looks fantastic but my pictures – again with the phone, don’t do it justice. Need to play with the white balance. Or something!

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Right, again a little shorter than usual, but there really isn’t much else to report. I’ll leave you with a few more photo’s from this lovely site. Whilst circumstances mean this hasn’t been the most enthralling of trips, views like this are a welcome sight although it’s worth pointing out it hasn’t always been this quiet:

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We are moving sites again this week and have a little day out planned too. This will be the one and only blog from Lynchets Farm so I’ll do the ‘Getting Connected’ report now:

Not surprisingly for a CL or CS there was no dedicated site WiFi. Using the directional antenna attached to our Solwise WiFi Kit I was able to pick up some very weak BT WiFi which was usable even allowing me to upload a video to YouTube – although it took a while. That has proved illusive during the last couple of days though and I suspect the antenna may have shifted a little in the winds, highlighting the main problem with directional aerials – they need to be pointing in exactly the right direction!

So access to the internet has come via my ‘phone’s hotspot which is on BT Mobile (piggybacking EE) which has been fine. So fine in fact that I’ve gone through nearly a month’s data allowance in just a few days! Speeds of 8.5 Mbps download and 2.1 Mbps upload were the average. Firing up the Hauwei mobile WiFi device reported the following: Vodafone 5/5 on 3G. Three offered 1/5 and EE 2/5 on 4G. Nothing on O2.

Until next time, thanks as always for reading. It’s not been the most enthralling of trips so far but it could be worse. We have the summer off, we’re away in the ‘van and the weather has been (largely) good. Look out for Site Arrival and tour videos doing the rounds on social media soon.

Cheers

Rich & Trev

The Road to Somewhere Part 3 – Give me a pea please…

Hello again.

By the time you get this we will have moved sites to be a bit closer to Addenbrookes where daily visits continue to see HRH aka Trev’s Mum or Hilda. They continue to look after her and are trying to treat her various ailments. She is no doubt a lot better than when she went in but a ‘release’ date has not yet been discussed. She does seem to have accepted that she wont be able to go home to her bungalow and that a nursing home is needed. The doctor in charge of her care is – according to her, gorgeous and very good looking – qualities she has mentioned more than once - which may go some way to explaining her acquiescence. I have not seem him yet so am unable to pass judgement but good on him for managing to eventually bring her around to the idea.

Away from the hospital we haven’t done any sightseeing – unless you count the inside of the pub I guess! We caught up with some more friends Thursday evening for grog and grub – and thank you Janet, the cake was delicious – and Alan, so were the beers!

I had the day off from visiting on Friday to catch up with some blog stuff – a couple more Site Arrival videos, the link for one of which is to the site in Littleport which you’ll find below.

Normal service resumed on Saturday and after visiting her ladyship we steered Rosie in the direction of the village of Witcham in general and the White Horse in particular. Yes, another pub. However our visit was not to imbibe but to catch up with a friend who was helping out. Yeah right.

The pub is a free house and serves an ever changing selection of three real ales. Two of them I had tried before but one of the two was one of my favourites – Timothy Taylor’s Landlord. It seemed only right to check if it had travelled well down the A1 from Yorkshire. I am happy to report that it did.

The pub had a patio area at the rear and a walk through to the ‘secret’ garden – a delightful little oasis that was full of colour and a cracking place to enjoy a pint. Or two. The pictures are with my new but cheap Galaxy J3 so do not really do it justice.

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Right, so a pub with real ale and a nice garden. Big deal you might think, but there’s one other feature worth a mention that will (hopefully) bring me seamlessly to next item on the agenda. The pub has a pea board. Not a dart board, but a pea board – with a marked out oche in a shelter out back. You can buy said peas and a pea shooter from behind the bar:

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Why? Well, Witcham was that very weekend holding the world, yes world, Pea Shooting Championships. I kid you not. I haven’t used a pea shooter since I was  a kid – and that didn’t change this weekend - but I love stuff like this – be it welly throwing or cheese rolling, or whatever It’s what makes us so quintessentially British – and long may it continue.

So, that’s it for our stay in Littleport but before I wind this up, just a bit about the site and some pics. It’s set in 4 acres with trees dotted around providing some shade. Static caravans surround some of the site which welcomes those who camp under canvas as well as motorhomes and caravans. Dogs are welcome but children are not as it’s adults only. The River Great Ouse is just across the road and you can buy fishing permits on site and store bait in a dedicated fridge too. There is the usual shower, toilet and wash up facilities which were all kept very clean and tidy. There were no laundry facilities however. We thought it was good value for seventeen quid a night but if you want to go off grid you can save another £2.50/night.

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We used the onsite WiFi which was provided by Caravan Connect. Various packages were available from an hour to a year – we bought a week for fifteen quid but bear in mind this was for once device. Of course we had the Solwise WiFi aerial and router kit so that wasn’t an issue and had one laptop, two pads and two phones connected. Download and Upload speeds were consistently around the 5Mbps mark.

Mobile networks varied when popping a SIM card in the Huawei MiFi – 3 showed 1/5 on 4G. Vodafone gave 5/5 on 3G, EE 3/5, again on 3G. O2 showed zilch. Entirely unscientific but it gives you an idea of what to expect.

Right, that’s it for now. Until the next time, thanks as always for reading.

Cheers

Rich & Trev

Site Arrival Video

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