Planning ahead.

Hello everyone and welcome back. It's been a while I know thanks at least partially to this half-term being one of the longest in the school year. Still, just a few days to go and Patsy will at last be on the road again as I embark on my first complete trip as a single caravanner.

The first leg shouldn't be too difficult as I'm going to our local site in Brighton just four miles from home and only a bit further from Patsy's resting place in the storage yard. It will be the first opportunity too to use the new Towing Jacket from the lovely folks at Pro Tec.

This was to be a Twittercamp meet but after losing Trev I just didn't feel like a big meet so there will be just a few of us including my cousin which will be nice.  That's not the end for Twittercamp however as there is to be a very special meet next year - more later.

For the second half of the week I'll be returning to the Caravan and Motorhome club Crystal Palace site. This was to be our final visit before it closed and something we'd booked months ago. However it's been given a reprieve as the council has extended the lease for another year at least and I've booked for February half-term too. That will be a proper sightseeing trip but this time it's all about meeting friends, musicals and footy and am very much looking forward to it. I'm planning on a Site Arrival video and Site Tour too.

I intend as well to take off the Fiamma canopy for the winter. It will be the first time it's been off since 2015 when we bought it but it seems pointless carting it around for six months or so when it won't be used. At over four metres long it wont fit in the car but it will a school minibus so I can transport it home where it will probably live in the hall for a few months.

Patsy's next trip out will be early in December but only across to West Sussex for her annual service. She seems solid enough but I'll still be nervously awaiting the results of the all important damp test to see how her seals are holding up.

Then next will be the Christmas holidays and this year it's all about making the best of what will likely be a difficult time for obvious reasons. After a few days in Holland with friends I'll be hitching up Patsy again and heading first for the club's Henley site for a few days, then to my cousin's drieway for the Christmas period. Janet is on call with her job so it may well be Andy and I doing the dinner - perhaps a good distraction.

For new year I'm heading to another site so far un-graced by the presence of the Blogger in Black and Patsy - Bearstead in Kent. Friends are joining me for that one and we will make it as good as it can be. Not only that but new sites gives me the opportunity for some new Site Arrival and Site Tour videos too.

So that takes us into 2019 and I've already made some plans based around my idea to revisit some of the sites and places Trev and I enjoyed most. 2020 will be about exploring but 2019 will be more retrospective. As I already said, the February half term is at Crystal Palace but the schools Easter break - which this year comes long before Easter itself - will see me heading to the North East again. I'm not sure far yet but have booked a few days at the lovely Somers Wood in Warwickshire again to break the journey. There's so many places up there that we enjoyed it's going to be a fun challenge deciding where to stay and where to go.

And that brings us to the half-term at the end of May and I was thinking of staying put. However some caravanning friends have got together and organised a special Twittercamp meet in Trev's memory which I think is a lovely idea. It centres around the bank holiday weekend, so from Friday 24th May until the Tuesday and it's at the Moreton-in-Marsh Caravan and Motorhome club site in the Cotswolds. We've had two meets there in the past, the most recent being just July this year. All are welcome, just book direct with the site in the normal way but please do let me know if you're coming so the organisers have a rough idea of numbers. I'm really looking forward to it.

Beyond that it's the summer holidays and I have only one site booked so far, a return visit to Woodpecker Meadow  and I'll be there for a few days around the 1st August, for obvious reasons. I have the urge to return there, next year at least.

And that is the extent of next year's planning so far. I hope to get the Easter break sorted before Christmas then next year I'll look to the summer, which given my need to be in Essex at the beginning of August will probably revolve around East Anglia. We'll see though.

Anyway, that's enough of my waffle for now. Look out for a blog or two from my upcoming trip in the next week or so. 'ish.....

Thanks as always for reading and I've said it before but will happily say it again and again - thanks for your support. We have a great caring caravanning community here.

Cheers and Beers
Rich.

The Triple Eight Tour | Part 5 - Essex

Yes, I did say the last blog post would be final one from the summer trip, but tidying up some files on the laptop this morning reminded me that I have quite a few photos from that leg of the trip.

The main reason for the long stop in Essex was a family wedding and we used most of the time to catch up on a few jobs - me editing some videos and writing blogs, and Trev giving Patsy’s exterior some TLC. It was pretty hot too, particularly in that first week but later on we did get back on the sightseeing trail. I’m not going to do my usual rambling look back at our exploits but I would like to share some of the photo’s with you, hopefully to give you a bit of inspiration should you find yourselves in this neck of the woods.

First was Bourne Mill, a National Trust property near Colchester:

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Then Wivenhoe:

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The next day saw us first in the pretty village of Dedham:

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Then it was the turn of Flatford, also under the stewardship of the National Trust:

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Sadly it is impossible to recreate the scene in Constable’s famous painting due to tree growth and water height. This was from roughly the same place though:

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Tuesday saw us in Colchester, following a Murder Mystery Treasure Trail:

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That evening, after a superb meal at the Layer Fox we went to check out the Abberton Reservoir, looking lovely as the sun went down. I wish I’d had the DSLR with me:

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And that was our last evening together.

Cheers and until next time,

Rich

A catch up and looking ahead

Hi everyone, I thought I should do one last blog post bringing to and end my series of blogs on our summer getaway - The Triple Eight Tour - which ended so tragically.

Firstly, the funeral. A huge thank you to those that came to Cambridge last week. I meant so much to me to see so many there. I know that so many of you travelled considerable distances to come and pay their respects. It was heartening to see friends from all different parts of our life together, be it the early days in the shop, his time as a cabbie, our time on the south coast, and most recently our time as caravanners. Trev would have been well pleased to have such an audience and the service was as I had hoped and planned. I thought Vanessa - the Celebrant - was superb and told our story brilliantly as well as conducting a lovely warm service.

Thanks again to those that came to the wake. I’m sorry for not getting around to speak to everyone but just seeing you there was very heart-warming. I may have underestimated numbers slightly but I hope everyone had at least something to eat.

So, Tuesday not as hungover as you might perhaps think, was spent packing up the van - sorting out what was going home, staying, or going in the storage box. I probably repacked the car about three times. This is something Trev generally did, normally while I was on the laptop doing a blog or something. I had all day and it took me all day, finishing with a good hoover and dust.

That night I met with Pauline and our undertaker friend David for a meal and afterwards he presented me with Trev’s ashes. So I was able to spend at least one more night in Patsy with him and that meant a lot.

The M25 did it’s best to make the tow home as miserable as possible. Frequent periods of just sitting allowed my mind to wander from the task in hand to times past and at times it was very tough, but we eventually got back to the south coast unscathed and Patsy was soon back safely in her bay at the storage yard enjoying what is generally her longest rest of the year.

There’s no way around it - it was horrible going back to the flat on my own - although the number of sympathy cards lying on the doormat cheered me up and had a good read of them all over a cuppa before getting down to the task of unpacking and starting the washing.

I kept pottering, doing little bits throughout the afternoon and evening but the expected tidal wave of emotion arrived at night. I know many of you will have experienced something similar and there really is nothing to do but ride it out. There will be more I know but the last couple of days have been easier.

And that’s where I’m going to draw a line under the events of the summer. I’m am pondering the occasional blog about adapting to be life as a single person, or indeed Widow but that will be on my other blog A Load of Nonsense. If I do decide to start typing I’ll put it out on all the usual platforms.

So, looking ahead as we must. One question I’ve been asked several times is “ Will you keep caravanning?”. That answer to that one is easy. Yes! My next trip is in October and for the second half of that I will be returning to Crystal Palace - for the last time, before it closes in December. We booked this months ago and wanted to pay one final visit and it holds many happy memories not least because it was the destination for our first ever trip back in March 2012.

I have cancelled plans we had to meet with friends in Devon for Christmas and will instead be staying in Colchester near my cousin Andy for at least a few days over Christmas and probably in East Anglia for the remainder.

Simple mathematics means that I won’t be able to go away as much and I might look to more cheaper CL type sites which also has me pondering solar panels and gas usage. I’ll probably see how next year goes though before making any decisions about what will be sizable investments.

Patsy is definitely staying. I’ve no need or reason to downsize and have found in the last three weeks that I’m quite capable of taking up a lot of space on my own! Rosie, despite her advancing years and ever increasing mileage performed superbly throughout the summer and I hope she will last a lot longer. She really is a superb tow car.

Right, enough, almost. I must once again give thanks for the truly awesome support you’ve all given me on what has undoubtedly been the worst time of my life. Your encouragement and kind words about Trev  really did make all the difference and I’m so lucky to have so may people that I can genuinely call friends.

Thanks again and until next time,

Cheers

Rich

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Update & Funeral Arrangements

Hi everyone, this may seem a slightly odd way of imparting such information but it’s the easiest way to reach the largest number of people.

Firstly, the post mortem. I’ve heard today (Tuesday) from the Coroner and they have determined the cause of Trev’s sudden death. It’s essentially as we thought but I’ll give you the medical terms and describe them as they were to me. Please feel free to skip the next bit if you wish:

Firstly, Ischemic Heart Disease - thickening of the walls of the heart, a natural consequence of getting older.

Secondly, Coronary Artery Atheroma - a plaque like substance restricting the flow of blood to major organs such as the lungs. Again, age related.

Two important things were mentioned by the Coroner - his death would have been very quick and he would have known little about it - and there was nothing more that could have been done to save him. Having seen what happened on the day those were already my thoughts.

Right, the funeral.

The service will be in Cambridge at the City Crematorium on Monday 20th August at Midday. All are of course welcome although I realise it’s a long journey for many. Please don’t feel guilty for not coming. For those that do, there is no dress code. Trev was happy as Larry in shorts and a t-shirt and if that’s what you’d like to wear that’s fine by me. Equally, if you would prefer something more formal, that’s fine too.

There will be a get together afterwards but that’s not finalised yet.

Family flowers only please but donations to Papworth Hospital Charitable Trust would be welcome. Again, no obligation but I know many of you have already. Thank you.

The service will be streamed online and available for seven days afterwards. Please email me at legsdown@outlook.com if this is of interest and I’ll supply access details once I have them.

In addition Trev’s (and mine) employer - Brighton College - would like to host a memorial service in their lovely chapel at some point in the future. Again, all welcome. No date yet but of course I’ll let you know.

Ok, I think that’s everything for now. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: Thanks for all your messages of support. They really do mean so much.

Cheers & Beers

Rich

The Triple Eight Tour | Sad News

Whilst I know the majority of you reading this will have already heard the sad news, there may be some that haven’t, so here goes.

On the morning of the 1st August Trev suffered what we currently believe to be a massive heart attack. We’d just had a morning cuppa, I’d got up to go to the washroom and Trev was sitting on the edge of his bed readying to get up. He keeled over onto the aisle in between the two beds, completely unresponsive as he went down. I called 999 and managed to get him on his back to start CPR until the ambulance arrived. They were very quick and were soon joined by the air ambulance too. They worked on him for an hour but to no avail.

He was pronounced dead at 0940.

Currently I am waiting on the Coroner to see if they want to do a PM and can’t move things forward until then.

When they do release his body, I will be taking him home, to Cambridge. We had many very happy years on the south coast but Trev was born and brought up in Cambridge. We met there and he spent most of his life there. It was a city he loved very much and was extremely proud of.

I know many friends around Brighton will want to pay their respects and I am pondering a number of possibilities with that in mind and will of course be in touch when things become clearer.

It’s been a truly awful few days. I’ve felt heartache and and sense of loss I didn’t think possible - and I know many reading this know exactly what I mean. We’ve known each other over thirty years and been through some very good times. Trev was a rock when I lost my parents and I hope I was able to help him cope with the loss of a sister, brother, then his dear old Mum.

However it’s a time that’s been made more bearable thanks to my cousin and his family who live nearby and by all the wonderful messages of support I’ve received online through social media. It really has helped me through and it’s heart-warming to know that he was held in such high regard by so many.

There’s a little video to say thank you on the YouTube channel. That’s all for now.

Cheers

Rich

P.S. Thanks to Dan Trudgian for this wonderful photo of Trev. I will treasure it forever.

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Trevor John Webdale -12th March 1954 - 1st August 2018

The Triple Eight Tour | Part 4 - Wiltshire

To those on social media who already know that we’ve been staying at Longleat Caravan & Motorhome Club, The Lion Sleeps Tonight is an appallingly corny musical reference to the fact that we’ve been adjacent the famous safari park for the last week. However it is the most recent performers of the song - in the early eighties - that gave me another tenuous link - as the groups’ name - Tight Fit - is an increasingly accurate description of the waistband of many of my clothes, not least my trusty leather trews that got a rare summer outing at the launch of the Bailey Phoenix in Swindon this week. Yes, like last year we abandoned Patsy for the night leaving her in the care of the lovely wardens on site for a night away prior to the launch so I could get all my photos and get a blog ready for when the embargo was lifted. Caravanning may be good for many things - but my waistline isn't one of them!

Fellow caravanning vlogger Martin joined us in staying over and  having had a nightmare of a journey down from the north-west was keen to get stuck in to some research. It was well past the witching hour when we finally retired.

The day itself saw the coming together of many bloggers & vloggers quite a few of which we had never met in person so it was a great opportunity to catch up. Having clicked away the day before we were able to enjoy the morning but did get the opportunity to record several ‘Natters’ for our weekly Sunday night video series on YouTube. After lunch, with the departure of the guests and the caravans we adjourned to Cirencester club site to continue the chat with caravanning pals Karla, Stephen, Juliet & Phil. There is a photo special which you can find HERE.

So apart from the launch - and many congratulations if you somehow avoided the social media blitz - what have we been up to?

Well, let me tell you something - it’s not compulsory to visit the Safari Park if you stay here. Because we didn’t. Yes, I’m sure it’s terrific - enough people have said how much they’ve enjoyed it - but the thing is we wanted to see what else Wiltshire had to offer. And after having done the Cotswold Wildlife Park earlier in the trip and was not top of the list and what with the Bailey Phoenix launch we ran out of time. This time.

The little town of Warminster, about a ten minute drive from the site was a pleasant place to walk around and I was grateful to find a shop selling cheap compatible cartridges for my awkward old inkjet printer. An interesting selection of pubs too that have sadly all remained un-researched.

Dents - leather glove manufacturers - had their factory shop on the outskirts, so yes a visit was paid and yes a pair (ok, another pair as Trev said more than once!) was procured.

The infamous White Horse can be seen from Westbury, just a few miles further away and whilst it is stunning, it was also worth a drive up to Bratton Camp - you could walk from there to said horse but we stayed by the road and the views over Wiltshire were superb. This is a county I’m liking more and more.

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My heart sank as we spotted the retail park on the way into Trowbridge and sure enough here was a town centre that didn’t appear in the best of health. I’ve seen this so many times on our travels around Britain. Retail parks with easy access and parking sucking the life out of town centres and then local councils wondering what to do about it.

The park though was a pleasant place for a stroll though and the sensory garden looked lovely too.

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A little further north was Bradford-on-Avon and if you’re looking for picture postcard towns then you’ve come to the right place. The scene - as we arrived from the south was wonderful. Another great place to explore but a bit hilly:

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You may have recalled me talking about Treasure Trails in previous blogs - we did one in Moreton-in-Marsh and in the Swansea Maritime Quarter. Next on the list was Frome - hence the need for ink cartridges to print it off. This was certainly the toughest so far - not least because of the hills and my blimmin’ knee but some of the clues were pretty tough too. Good fun though and a great way to explore.

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We were told about Heavens Gate by a number of people - both on line and on site and - what a good suggestion it was. From the (free) car park a fifteen minute walk rewarded us with cracking views over Longleat House and estate.

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Another recommendation was Shearwater lake  - about fifteen minutes drive from the site. A great spot to fish - if that’s your thing, stroll, run (yeah, right) or just sit and enjoy (that’s better). Again, local knowledge and that of experienced travellers beats a guide book any day. Which is just as well as we didn’t have one!

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A good half an hour drive from the site was Lacock Abbey & Village under the stewardship of the National Trust. The village is a delight to walk around particularly if you can imagine it without the cars and the Abbey with it’s medieval cloisters provided some welcome respite from the heat. Lacock is where, in August 1835 a chap by the name of William Henry Fox Talbot captured the world’s first photographic negative - of a window at his home - the abbey. More recently has been used for a number of films including Harry Potter.

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There was no pub within walking distance of the site - not the sort of distance we would walk anyway, but the Royal Oak served up a great Hunters Chicken (for me) and Gammon (for Trev). Two other pubs we visited - the Horse & Groom and Cross Keys - purely in the interests of research obviously - were both community run and very well patronised. Well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

And that was our week in Wiltshire - and a little bit in Somerset. A real mixed bag of a week but an enjoyable one and a big thank you must go to wardens Gail & Mark and Lorraine & Neil for looking after us - and Patsy. As I type this we are a day into our fifth stop having had a trouble free tow across the country and around the M25 where dear old Rosie belied her advancing years - and increasing mileage - with an excellent 31mpg.

Look out for Site Tours, Site Arrivals and more coming on our YouTube channel this week.

Thanks, as always and until next time,

Cheers & Beers

Rich & Trev

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