Q & A | Part 3

In this part we carry on talking caravanning then move on a bit to more general travel related questions. Lets go:

What part of the country would you like to take Patsy that you haven't visited before?

There’s lots of places in the UK that I would like to go to, or explore more deeply. My planned trip to the north-west for the schools’ Easter break would have done just that, stopping first again at the lovely Somers Wood in Warwickshire before heading up to the Wirral club site. We have actually stayed there once, just overnight, after getting off the ferry from Belfast at Liverpool. Whilst we had a day in Liverpool on a previous trip some years ago it’s an area we’ve largely unexplored. Lots of things were on the list including Port Sunlight, a walk along the Wirral Way and a run into Wales for the Llangollen heritage railway. Next stop was Englethwaite club site up near Carlisle. I was planning on doing the Settle/Carlisle railway and some of the pretty towns and villages that run along the line to Newcastle, amongst other things. Then it would have been down to Bolton Abbey - another new site for me. 

I’ll get there, eventually.

I would like to know more about your experience of travelling through the night/leaving early morning to avoid traffic. Would you recommend it and did you find it easy to park up and wait for sites to open?

We have done this twice, three times if you count our trip to France when much of the overnight was on the ferry.

The first was to the Cardiff municipal site in 2012 at the start of our three month around Britain trip and only our second time out. We’d planned to leave at midnight but storms and high winds delayed our departure somewhat. That and breaking the jockey wheel handle when hitching up! Our thinking was - as novices - the roads would be quieter and we wouldn’t be in anyone's’ way. We took a break somewhere on the M4 and again at Magor services, just the other side of the bridge into Wales. The idea was to complete morning ablutions and bed down for a bit of a kip, but with neither of us being able to sleep we were back on the road in less than an hour, hoping to chance our luck at the site. Fortunately there was a large empty car park by the entrance and we waited until the Warden appeared. She took pity on us and very kindly let us on. We set up - in the rain - shared a bottle of wine and went to bed for a few hours.

Just over a year later we did the same for a trip down to Cornwall, near Lands End. The site had indicated a lay-by which we could pull into and wait, and to give them a call when there. This we did, somewhere around 9am and, it not being school holidays yet there was plenty of room. They let us pitch early. We did so, once again in the rain.

When we went to France we got the overnight ferry, departing Newhaven - which is just a few miles from us - at 11:30pm. We arrived in Dieppe at 5:30am I think and, it being Sunday too, the roads were lovely and quiet, perfect for my first experience of towing abroad. We got to our first site around 9am and they were very welcoming. There were no restrictions on arrival or departure time and we promptly set up, you've guessed it, in the rain!

In terms of leaving sites early, it depends when and where. Crystal Palace is always one I like to get away from early to avoid the traffic. I pack up as much as possible the night before leaving the essentials until the morning, trying to be as quiet as possible.

When and why did you start up that awesome resource Site Arrivals?

Aww, thanks Rog. The Site Arrival videos  were Trev’s idea. He thought it a useful resource for caravanners and motorhomers and as no one else had done it then, a gap in the market as it were. We tried to do it on the cheap as per usual but eventually invested in a proper dashcam in the summer of 2016, our first proper arrival video being Cirencester club site.

Trev already had a YouTube channel on which he’d posted bits and bobs from his phone but the Legs Down channel was launched in November 2016. Initially and for a while we would record the commentary ‘live’ as we were heading to a site, but as I got the hang of Windows Movie Maker - a superb program for beginners by the way - I learnt to add commentary and edit footage. I now use Corel VideoStudio  - one of the rare occasions I’ve actually paid for software - which allows me to add in snapshots of road signs etc. It’s constantly nagging me to upgrade but my laptop struggles as it is and in any case it does all I need, for now.

A good half of the videos now use footage sent in by others, for which I am extremely grateful. It has helped the library grow to nearly 140 videos and whilst I continue to visit new sites and folks continue to send in their dashcam footage it will grow further. It’s fair to say they're hardly blockbusters, but if they help one person then it’s worth it in my book.

If you could go anywhere in the world in a leisure vehicle, where would you go and why?

New Zealand, without a doubt. I’ve been fortunate to visit a couple of times and on one occasion - 1999 if memory serves, Trev and I spent six weeks touring both islands in a rent-a-wreck which, thanks to the strength of the pound against the Kiwi dollar, cost us just eight quid a day. An ex NZ Postal Service Toyota Corolla with the rear seats removed and a flat bed laid to give plenty of luggage space.

We started and finished in Auckland, first heading north to the very tip, then south, crossing the Cook Strait from Wellington to Picton in the South Island, eventually down as far as the Fjords in the south west, staying in Motels along the way. It was fabulous, we had the time of our lives, skinny dipping - well I did - in beautiful lakes, dolphins swimming alongside a boat off Kaikoura, seeing the Fox Glacier, motels with swimming pools fed by hot water from thermal springs, even riding a horse. I’d do all that again and more in a motorhome, living the outdoor life, rekindling old memories and making new ones.

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If money wasn’t an object, what would be your number one holiday/trip/experience/destination to embark on? No caravans allowed!

Right, I’m going to assume that if money were no object, then neither would time, which makes the question a little easier to answer. I would travel the world. I’d take first class flights, cruises and travel the world’s famous railways - the Orient Express comes to mind as does the one up through the Rockies, along with the Indian-Pacific from Sydney to Perth traversing the Blue Mountains and the mighty Nullabor Plain. I’d take harbourside apartments, quaint little condo’s with roof terraces and beach side shacks. I’d wander the streets of the worlds cities, read a book on a sandy beach under the shade of a Palm overlooking beautiful blue waters. Some places I’d employ guides, others I’d amble alone. And I’d mercilessly bombard you all with blogs along the way!

And we’ve reached the end of Part 3. I thought that would be it but there’s plenty more questions to go. I hope you enjoying reading these as much as I have writing them.

Until Part 4, Cheers & Beers

Rich


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