Guest Blog Post | Expedition Cambridge

After another bout of our usual planning, we managed to get diaries aligned and with that Expedition Cambridge was on. A mix of sightseeing, chilling, food and drink beckoned with Richard acting as tour guide of his home city. The weather on the Friday when I travelled did not bode well, but it proved us wrong as the weather was dry, sunny for the most part, the breeze being most welcome, apart from it pulling down Richard's new sun canopy. Kindly the next-door neighbours retrieved it before any damage was done to both Patsy and the canopy.

In our planning, I had one main request and that was to see the Cambridge of the locals, often that gives you a real feel for a place and I was not disappointed. After a lovely evening meal on the Friday at the local pub/restaurant, we were ready bright and early Saturday to start exploring. I was then treated to a tour of places where Trev and Richard had grown up, gone to school, started work and so on. It was a real trip down memory lane for Richard and there were one or two surprises for him since he was last living there. Perhaps most notable was where his Mum and Dad had lived and the current owners, somehow, had managed to build a new detached house in the side garden. It was certainly narrow and really needed a second glance to see, yes it was separate and not simply an extension.

We also took time out to visit the Madingley American Cemetery, I have a good number of American relations so was as much a visit for them as for me. It is small compared with the American ones on the near continent, however it was a site of tranquil reflection and some beautiful mosaics and glass plaques of each of the States.

We then moved onto Grantchester, a place obviously famous for the TV series of the same name, perhaps less so as the home of Jeffrey Archer. We were headed to a place in the village called The Orchard Tea Garden,  I was pleased to hear that this was a new place for Richard too. By now the sun was high and it was indeed warm. It was a very pleasant place, as you will see from the website it has a rather illustrious history following its planting in the late 18thC. A Cambridge University student’s tradition of taking afternoon tea in rural locations, saw the orchard being added to the growing list of places. From famous poet Rupert Brooke, author Virginia Wolf to more recent times, Stephen Hawking and HRH Prince Charles have all graced the Orchard Tea Garden. It is most certainly worth a visit and as they say, take time to relax, think your own thoughts and chat with friends is a delight in our fast-paced days.

20190720_131346Throughout the orchard were scattered groups of deckchairs under the trees, the trees being full of ripening apples. It is fair to say a knowing glance passed between us and we opted instead to sit on the nice wooden benches under the umbrellas. A potential embarrassing episode had been neatly avoided in the getting in and out of the deckchairs! A lovely lunch of freshly made baguettes and cooling drinks went down a treat and enabled us to people watch, as it was busy with people seeking lunch and a cool shady place. We then decided to amble down to the side of the River Granta across the cricket field, thankfully no match on, so we were not target practice. It was a very pleasant sunny afternoon and we treated ourselves to an ice cream on the way back to the car.WP_20160320_14_23_36_Pro

Our next stop was Ely, a visit to the Cathedral, which is certainly impressive, particularly the tower and its octagonal shape; why this is built like this we were to learn later during the river trip - operated by Liberty Belle Cruises. Ely is very quiet and picturesque, the waymarked walk from the car park to the riverside passed through some pleasant park areas and cooling under the tree’s walkways. Richard had been on the boat trip with Trev some time ago and they had really enjoyed it. A quick drink at the Riverside Bar and Kitchen,  by the boarding point and we were off. The views were excellent, and we saw herons and truly massive swans. There were a couple of Dutch, flat bottomed sailing ships moored up and you could only imagine the skill and timing DSC_0043required to get them across the North Sea. Of course, there was the usual piece of history as to how Ely got its name, through the catching and sale of Eels. Not a delicacy I was tempted to try. It was lovely to see Ely from that angle including how close the railway line is through the city. The reason for the unusual shaped tower in the Cathedral was one day in the 14thC, a massive rumbling started in the city and many people feared for their lives as the previous square shaped tower collapsed into the cathedral. The resulting octagonal shape enabled the very tall tower to be rebuilt and its continued presence a testament to their forethought.

Tonight's dinner was at a very picturesque pub and restaurant in the nearby village of Fulbourn at The White Hart, very olde worlde and we both opted for the Wagyu burgers, we were not disappointed as we both agreed they were some of the nicest ones we had eaten for some time. Richard continued to grow his Ale Archive, strictly in terms of research of course! A slice of home-made cake and drinks marked the end of a most enjoyable day.

DSC_0079Of course, you cannot visit a place like Cambridge and not do a bit of strictly tourist sightseeing, so Sunday morning beckoned, a quick cuppa and we opted for the Park and Ride nearby the site into the city.

We spent several very interesting hours ambling around looking at the various colleges, parks and the river, far too many to mention individually but all equally good. Some highlights were the end of the London to Cambridge bike ride, admiring the fitness DSC_0087required to take part in such a race. Christ College has recently had the coat of arms and shields re gilded and painted which shone brightly in the sun,  It was very busy, as you would expect, and we had coffee in the lovely Agora @ The Copper Kettle café overlooking Kings College entrance,  to catch our breath.

Another memorable sight was the Corpus Clock, a rather strange mix of a gold cymbal, a fiery dragon like creature and piercing blue lights gifted to Corpus Christi college in 2008.

We had so enjoyed our coffee we decided to return to the same café for our lunch and a well-earned sit down. By now it was early afternoon and the city was hot and stuffed full of tourists.

We both agreed that we were overdue a chance to sit and relax back at the site. On the way back we had a quick drive round the massive site of Addenbrooke’s and the new Papworth Hospital. A strange place to sightsee you might think but I worked in the NHS for many years and so a bit of a ‘busman's holiday’. It’s an amazing sight and the amount of building still going on, particularly for the research centre, is phenomenal. Batteries recharged, dinner time at the nearby pub ended another fabulous day.

The following day was, sadly, departure day for me. For my part, I had a fabulous weekend, full of fun and excellent company. Thanks, Richard, for all you did.

Site Review: Lincolnshire | Monks Wood Farm CL - by Sandra

Monks Wood Farm, Threekingham, Nr Sleaford, Lincolnshire. Caravan & Motorhome Club listing.

65170790_316326892649376_2192542815622266880_nThis is a 5 van Certified Location for the Caravan and Motorhome Club. It is located about ¾ mile off the A52 between Grantham and Boston.

Approaching from Grantham on the A52, you go over the A15 roundabout and in about 2 miles, you see a left-hand turn, part of a staggered crossroads, signposted Sleaford, Highfields Country Holiday Fishing Retreat on your left and you turn into Mareham Lane. Check out the Site Arrival video.

The CL is about 180 metres up this road on the left-hand side, turn left, straight up the drive and the CL entrance is at the end on the left-hand side, take care when entering the field.

Inked64697055_481588782647331_8645825198991343616_n_LIAll level grass pitches with electric hook-ups, water tap and rubbish bins on field. The complimentary toilet is at the side of the farm buildings and you pass the chemical disposal point on your right on the way to the toilet. The field and facilities are well kept but it should be noted that this is a working farm.

There are pleasant farm field views to two sides and there is little discernible road noise given its proximity to the A52.

Nearest petrol station, local supermarket is in Sleaford. Nearest pub/restaurant is The Three Kings Inn, which is back on the main road as you near the turning for Mareham Lane, travelling from Grantham direction.

This site makes an excellent and central base on its own but equally is an excellent overnight stop point for those people coming from the north and west of England on their way to Norfolk.


Site Review: Derbyshire | Aston Heath Farm CL - by Sandra

Aston Heath Farm is a 5 van Certified Location for the Caravan and Motorhome Club. It also offers bed and breakfast and self-catering accommodation. It is located about 1.5 mile off the A50 between Uttoxeter and Derby. Care is required in the last half mile as the road narrows but there are passing places.

dsc_1240The CL has a mixture of level grass pitches with electric hook-ups, and some hard standing, fully serviced pitches, however these are narrow, and awnings are a tight fit. Rubbish and recycling bins are by the entrance to the gate to the field. There is a unisex toilet and shower room, (small charge for use of shower) and is at just before the field gate on your right as you pass the farm buildings. The chemical disposal point is situated outside the toilet/shower room. The field and facilities are well kept and the owners are available and helpful if required.

There are pleasant farm field views to two sides and there is little discernible road noise given its proximity to the A50.

Nearest petrol station is on the A38 towards Lichfield. This site makes an excellent and central base on its own but equally is an excellent overnight stop point. Local attractions include, Sudbury Hall & Museum of Childhood, Kedleston Hall, Calke Abbey, National Memorial Arboretum, National Brewery Centre and Alton Towers, to name but a few.

Site Review: Norfolk | Two Mills Touring Park - by Sandra

Two Mills Touring Park is by North Walsham in Norfolk and is part of the Tranquil Parks scheme. It is an adult only site. This is a site review following a two week stay in June/July 2019.

The site has 81 hardstanding pitches, the majority of which are fully serviced. The site is laid out over 3 tiers on the side of a hill.

66362035_463900541109523_9218410378965286912_nThere are two facilities blocks, the main one situated on the bottom Tier 1 also includes a washing machine and dryer, (additional charges), the only chemical disposal point for the whole site, a dishwashing area, a handwashing laundry room and a separate portacabin wet room and toilet facility for people with disabilities.

The facilities block on Tier 2 comprises male and female showers and toilets only with a small dishwashing room at one side.

Both dishwashing facilities are only available between 9am and 9pm.

Although the showers and toilets are free to use, the showers are of the push button variety and there is an additional charge for use of hairdryers provided in each of the blocks. There is no facility block on Tier 3.

The main reception area comprises an information room and some seating to make use of the free to use Wi-Fi whilst sitting in this area. This room closes at 9pm. There is a very basic shop in the office part of the reception area and papers can be ordered daily. The shop and office close at 5pm each day.

Wi-Fi can be purchased, at additional cost, to be used throughout the site but speeds are low and there is a limit on usage. This service, as it clearly states, is insufficient for downloading and/or streaming of TV programmes and similar.

TV signal is very poor, as stated in the literature. Digiboxes can be hired, at additional daily cost, plus refundable deposit to ensure a good range of TV programmes.

Mobile phone signals, depending upon your provider are generally very poor, with mobile data strength being weak to moderate at best. There is a telephone kiosk on site, situated by the reception area.

Pitches are of mixed layout, Tier 2, with the most expensive tariff require your caravan to be parked on a concrete base, if you require an awning, then that is placed on the gravel part of the pitch to the side. It should be noted that it is not possible to use an annexe with a full-length awning due to the flagstones at the front of the pitch, which make a good sitting out place.64997382_456939691750063_6940257784118116352_n

Tier 1 and 3 comprise fully gravelled pitches but you would be advised to carefully check with the site the dimensions of your outfit including any awning and/or annexe you may wish to use.

The site is situated in a dense wooded area and, as stated in the brochure is tranquil on site. The site, however, does have a very busy road running alongside it and road noise is noticeable. The site entrance does not have a security barrier.

The site and all its facilities are kept in an immaculate state and wardens are friendly and more than willing to help if asked.

There is a good dog walk around the top of the site and is enclosed with seats and dog bins. Dogs must be kept on leads at all time.

There are a wide range of activities and places to visit, eat and enjoy across the whole area. A good starting point is www.visitnorfolk.co.uk

Places visited during the visit included, Felbrigg House; Blickling Hall Estate; Horsey Windpump, (all 3 are National Trust, non-member charges apply). www.nationaltrust.org.uk All 3 venues offer the usual National Trust facilities, of note is the walk around the Lake at Blickling Hall which is wheelchair accessible; Horsey Windpump is a newly restored and opened attraction with onsite café and nearby boat trips onto the Broads, which come highly recommended. www.wildlife-boat-trips.co.uk You will need to book ahead as there are only 12 places on each trip. All attractions are within 15 miles of the site and dependant upon weather can offer a whole day out for each.

Cromer, with its famous crab is about 10 miles away, there is a train from North Walsham to Cromer if you do not wish to take the car. www.thiscromer.co.uk Equally, it is possible to catch a train direct into Norwich itself.

There are also several heritage railways in the vicinity, Bure Valley Narrow Gauge between Wroxham and Aylsham offers you the opportunity to visit Wroxham and the Broads at the same time. Another railway is the Holt to Sheringham Steam Railway, about 22 miles from the site, this is a full-sized heritage railway.

For beach lovers, there is a whole coastline to explore, much of which is dog friendly, but you do need to check. Mundsley, Winterton on Sea, Cromer are near the site.

There is a restaurant, Scarborough Hotel which is 5 minutes’ walk from the site, they do a wide range of food and allow dogs as well.  There are a wide range of takeaways and several pubs in North Walsham itself.