2016 – A Rambling Review

Yep, it’s that time of year again – and blimey what a year it’s been. But I’m not here to write about the big events or the loss of many that have entertained us over the years. I will of course be looking back at our time in the caravan.

I like doing these end of year things – it reminds us what we’ve been up to, how lucky we’ve been to travel so much - and I’ve actually read some of the stuff I’ve been churning out too! If you’ve read any, some or all of it – thank you. It is appreciated, really.

As regulars will know, we work for a school and take every opportunity to get away in our ‘van – a nine year old Coachman called Patsy. By the end of the year will will have spent 109 nights in her. I know – very fortunate.

DSC_0002The beginning of the year saw us in Ramsgate in Kent – but only just. The weather forecast suggested heading home early would be wise, so it was New Years Day that we packed up and went home. Prior to that though we had a great time. Canterbury got a visit again and it was great to see Margate looking like it was over the worst. It holds so many happy childhood memories that seeing it in decline a few years back was heart-breaking. It was good too to wander around a re-opened Dreamland and see the original listed wooden rollercoaster back in action. We spent a lovely evening too with fellow caravanner Alison and family who invited us around to their home in Faversham. Find the original blog HERE

Next up was the February half-term break which saw us return to London and the Caravan Club site at Crystal Palace nestled under the mighty TV transmitter.

It would be easy to say that this trip was doomed from the start. No sooner had we arrived then we had to turn tail and head back as we had forgotten both the water a waste containers. They normally get stored in the ‘van but had been removed for her recent and eye wateringly expensive service.DSC_0036

Trev had picked up a bug doing the rounds and felt progressively worse as the week went on. So much so that we decided to go home a couple of days early missing out on a trip to the theatre and a visit to the London Dungeon. More positively we did get to meet up with a friend and had a look around a rapidly developing Kings Cross as well as a ride on the London Eye on what was about a perfect a day as could be expected for February. Original blog

WP_20160319_12_28_33_ProMarch and the school’s Easter holiday saw us head north again, stopping off first in Cambridge for the first Twittercamp of the year. It was our first sponsored meet too – by Cover 4 Caravans – so we were able to set everyone up for the day with bacon rolls for breakfast. Trev acted as guide for a walking tour of the city and – again thanks to the sponsorship – had a ride in a punt, unceremoniously grounding it on the quayside! the pretty market town of Saffron Walden, Ely cathedral and the American Cemetery at Madingley also got a look in.DSC_0044 Original blog

Next was a trundle up the A1 to Ripon in North Yorkshire. During our stay we got to see Ripon’s cathedral, the Georgian town of Richmond and had a pint (well, two then) at the highest pub in the British Isles – the Tan Hill Inn.

The town of Masham got a look in as did the lovely Fountains Abbey and Pately Bridge. We also got to meet up with more caravanning pals to in the shape of Caravan Larry and family  - A.K.A Phil. All in all, a great stay in a terrific area. Original blogs: Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3

DSC_0041Time to head south but only to Longnor in the Derbyshire Dales about six miles south of Buxton. The tram tour of Buxton was one of the highlights but so too was the train journey through the dales from Buxton to Sheffield via Stockport. Sheffield city centre was looking pretty chipper too.WP_20160406_16_12_20_Pro

Original blogs: Part 4 & Part 5

Last was East Horsley in the Surrey Hills. Guildford was the highlight here along with it’s modern cathedral sitting high and overlooking the city. Original blog

DSC_0214The May half-term found us in Hampshire just outside of Winchester where we met up again with Alison from Faversham. The cathedral obviously got a visit but my favourite was the ‘Watercress Line’ – a heritage railway running from Alresford to Alton operating mostly steam but some old diesel engines too. Original blog

After last summers incursion into France, we stayed this side of the English channel for the school summer holidays, first heading west and returning after three years to The lovely Warcombe Farm campsite in North Devon.DSC_0053

The weather for our weeks stay wasn’t great - particularly given what was to come but we had a great time nonetheless. The village of Clovelly was the undoubted highlight but it was too to catch up with site managers Judith & Mike over grog and grub.
Read more in the original blogs - Part 1 & Part 2

13690676_10209255914331538_3691901901787031816_n[2]Next stop was Cirencester and and the Caravan Club site on the edge of town. Just three nights here on what was really a stop over on the way to Twittercamp we got to meet Dan Trudgian and family - fellow caravanners and keen Vloggers. Dan even made a video of me doing some work on Patsy which you can see HERE. Whilst you’re over YouTube take a look at some of his other videos too. Interesting and informative for both caravanning novices and the more experienced and extremely well put together.DSC_0289 Original blog.

Next up was the first big event of our summer getaway - Twittercamp. Regulars and newcomers gathered for a scorcher of a week at Henlow Bridge Lakes in Bedfordshire. The usual fun and games as well as a group outing to Wimpole Hall made for a very enjoyable if sweaty and mozzie bitten week. Original blog.
WP_20160730_16_39_10_ProStop number four was in Cambridgeshire at Highfield Farm Touring Park to catch up with Trev’s Mum, before heading east again, this time to Colchester in Essex, for the wedding of my Cousin’s eldest, Sarah to fiancé Derek. Original blogs - Part 5 & Part 6
It was a fantastic weekend from start to finish and it was great to spend time with what is now my closest and almost only family.
Stop number six was in Norfolk – on the coast in Mundesley. And I mean right on the coast – what a view we had.
The weather stayed kind and we we had several trips down memory lane to North Norfolk's’ seaside towns including Hunstanton, Wells-next-the-Sea, Cromer & Sheringham to name but a few. We also got to catch up with former colleague and friend Nick and wife Ellen who had moved up from the south in the spring. Original blogs - Part 7, Part 8 & Part 9.
DSC_0124Suffolk was to be the next – and last - county on our travels and site number seven – Beach View – was, as you may have guessed, on the coast too. Located near the village of Sizewell, it had a couple of imposing neighbours in the shape of nuclear power stations – although one has been decommissioned.
My cousin Andy and wife Janet joined us for a long weekend and we hooked up with the newly weds too, a little way along the coast here at Aldeburgh. We did get out and about a little and at last the inflatable kayak, bought over two years ago, got some use.DSC_0001
The last stop of the trip, still in Suffolk was at Broughton Hall farm, looking even more beautiful than when we visited this time last year. This was to to be wind down and sort out time but the trip was to end on somewhat of a sombre note as we made a return visit to Cambridge for the funeral of an old friend of Trev’s. Original blog.
Our October half term outing saw Patsy (that’s the caravan for those who've not been keeping up!) emerge from her new closer storage facility after the longest rest of the year - nine weeks - for a trundle up to Warwickshire and Somers Wood Caravan Park after an overnight stop at the Caravan Club site at Gatwick.
DSC_0066 (2)Motoring became the unintended theme of the week as we visited both the excellent - and free - Coventry Transport Museum and the British Motor Museum. There were a couple of visits to Birmingham too, both of which involved some er, research and all in all it was a great week.
Original blogs:  Warwickshire - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4.Camden Collage

Which brings us to December and the long awaited Christmas holidays. First in our ‘Festive Threesome’ was the Camping & Caravan Club site of Theobald’s Park in Hertfordshire. It was an area that had not popped up on our radar before but we thoroughly enjoyed it, with St Albans, Hertford and Ware all getting a visit as well as the Forty Hall Estate and a day in London too.

Next it was back to Cambridge and the Caravan Club site at Cherry Hinton to spend Christmas with Trev’s Mum. We managed to catch up with several friends too, sending Green King’s share price soaring in the process.

DSC_0007The year has ended here at Run Cottage in the village of Hollesley just a few minutes from the Suffolk Coast. Not our first choice but it should have been as it’s a lovely site. We met up with my cousin – twice and had some lovely bright crispy days out too.

So, that was our 2016 – the caravanning bit anyway. Once again we’ve been to some great places and met some great people along the way. I hope your caravanning year has been fun too.

2017 is already shaping up to be another good ‘un with several sites already booked for the various school holidays.  We’re heading to Bristol for our next half-term, then returning to Yorkshire for the Easter break and our first ever Twittercamp ‘up north’.

Right, have fun tonight and keep safe – and see you on the other side! Happy New Year and have a great 2017.

All the best, Rich & Trev.

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