Christmas 2019 Part 6

Friday 27th December

Yep, skipped a couple of days. Very much great family time with good food and laughs thrown in. Some nice pressies too.

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I’d originally planned to depart for my next and final site today, but decided, as I’d arrived a day late that I would delay my departure by a day. As it happens, it was just as well.20191227_100526

I was outside, just getting some air and having a nose around Patsy when Andy came back from walking Poppy, their Cockapoo. He said had I seen my car. Indeed I had, it was parked across the drive in front of my caravan and hadn’t moved since I arrived. Thinking that someone had dinged it or similar I went to the offside to have a look, to find that the front tyre was completely flat. It wouldn’t take any air so I put the spare on after unloading all the caravanning paraphernalia from the boot, but couldn’t find the likely puncture. A quick look on Google Maps revealed a couple of tyre places just a few minutes drive and off I set. The first place was busy and couldn’t possibly look at it until the afternoon. The second place was quiet and soon found the hole - in the side wall and so un-repairable. No, they couldn’t get one until Monday and I probably wouldn’t get one anywhere else until then. Great. There was no way I was towing without a spare.

Back at Andy’s a search revealed a local tyre place, just across town that could fit one in the afternoon. I quickly booked in, then later set off to get the tyre fitted, grateful that they’d called and said it had arrived and could I go straight away as they were shutting early. No problem.

20191227_152822I called in to pick up a few bits and bobs from the supermarket on the way back but it wasn’t until I was back at Andy’s that I noticed that the rear offside was looking a little deflated. Soon I was too when a screw was discovered embedded in the shoulder. Again, un-repairable and at this late hour, the chance of getting one fitted before my intended departure the following morning seemed very unlikely.

Saturday 28th December

However, Colchester Tyre & Exhausts came up trumps again and I was back there less that 24 hours later. The chap looked surprised to see me but once again, they quickly fitted the new tyre, swapping to the front so at least I had the same brand on each axle. Superb service and they succeeded where the national boys failed, an expense I could have done without though, but these things happen.

In the end I was on my way only about an hour later than planned, having packed up Patsy and got her ready first thing. I waved goodbye to Andy & Jan, knowing that I would be seeing them again in a couple of days when they joined me on site for New Year.

My destination was Ashridge Farm Caravan & Motorhome Club site, just off the A505 near Baldock in Hertfordshire. Heading across on the A120 would have been the more direct route but once again I elected to take the A14, some fifteen or so miles further around but it’s a road I knew and was happy to trade a bit of time and diesel for familiarity.

20191228_142052Shortly after 1:30pm I was pulling up at reception, the wind and a rather heavy right foot meaning Rosie only managed around 25mpg on the 86 mile journey. Another really friendly welcome from the warden - I’ve found that since travelling solo that they seem to make an extra effort - and I’d soon picked a pitch. There wasn’t much left which was hardly surprising given that there were only 25 hard standings and, in my view it’s a little gem of a site. No. 23 would be our home for the next few days.

A much welcome kip was enjoyed after set up and after dinner I considered what to do the following day. Having20191228_204320 visited at the beginning of April I’d already ticked off a few places, but Hitchin was one town that hadn’t yet had the dubious privilege of a visit from the Blogger in Black. It wasn’t far away but I discovered I could take the train direct from the station a couple of miles away. Any chance of research in the town’s hostelries was thwarted however by the complete absence of any buses on a Sunday. Oh well. Another very relaxed evening was enjoyed in her Ladyship. A beer or two, cheese and biccies and the company of good friends on Twitter. I was about as content as I could be.

Sunday 29th December

20191229_125522Soon after 10am I was on my way to Hitchin on the train, 20 minutes or so from the Ashwell & Morden station, the sun was making an appearance and it was a pleasant morning trundling through the Hertfordshire countryside. As the station came into view I realised I’d been here before. Many moons ago we’d booked a special from Cambridge that went all the way to Edinburgh although we decided to alight at Newcastle for the day. Hitchin is on the East Coast mainline and we’d had to change here after the ride down from Cambridge.

Having walked the twenty minutes or so from the station, the first thing to notice was the wide main drag, lined with attractive Tudor and Georgian buildings. Hitchin was a staging post back in the day popular with those travelling two and from London.

The impressive St Mary’s Church features on many websites and literature, it’s size a testament to the prosperity of the town thanks to the wool trade on which it thrived in the 1600’s. It was certainly worthy of my attentions with the camera, the classic shot being from across the River Hiz - apparently pronounced Hitch by those in the know.

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The Market Square was next and there was a lovely relaxed feel about the place as lunchtime approached under the weak winter sunshine. Plenty of independent shops stood side by side with the usual chain store suspects. Plenty of pubs too but they’d have to wait for another time.

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The British Schools Museum was a short walk away but given the day and the time of year I wasn’t surprised to find it closed. A walk to the edge of the town centre brought me too Hitchin Priory, now a hotel and popular wedding venue.

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The knee, having done nothing for the last few days wasn’t being particularly cooperative so I decided on a slow walk back to the station via a different route, traversing the edge of Bancroft Park and and the tree lined entrance to Ransom Rec. It had been a short visit but one I had enjoyed immensely.

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There was a short wait at the station, during which a number of trains came hurtling through on the fast central lines and by early afternoon I was back in Patsy almost perfectly executing a relaxing afternoon in the ‘van. There’s just so much to see in this great country of ours.

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