Jolly Jaunt to the New Forest

Thursday 27th April 2017

We decided to take Bertha away for a couple of days using Brit Stops.  This is membership we purchase for £25 which provides a book and sticker and lets us stay for free at various locations such as pubs, restaurants, vineyards and farms etc.

So off we popped and discovered a lovely town called Hyth and decided to have a walk and stretch our legs.

We discovered the Hythe Ferry  we take you to Southampton Harbour, definitely one to try out in the future.  There is a Victorian pier which has an electric train which takes the passenger to the end of the pier.

We loved our short visit and the wonderful views of boats and ocean liners.

After a cup of tea and cake in the Hythe Costa off we went again in search of New Forest ponies and beautiful views.  Along Beaulieu Road there are many places to stop and we found an area whichHorses looks a bit like a beach with a walk up a hill and panoramic views – stunning.

Overnight was spent at The Glen with live entertainment on – female singer, she was very good and her voice was similar to Adele.

 

Friday 28th April 2015

IMG_2848A must visit is the Beaulieu National Motor Museum, it had been quite a few years since our last visit – or should I say decades, so we decided to do the lot.  This included the monorail, the ride in the vintage bus and of course the beautiful gardens and Palace House.

This is certainly a full day out and a must for any visitor, the cafe was clean and also served a good lunch and all the staff were so friendly.

me in car

Part of the museum also houses the Top Gear experience, this was an opportunity to see all the mad vehicles that had been reinvented and view all the memorabilia.

There is also a mock up studio and clips from the various shows.

housePalace House is also a must with the mill pond on one side and the formal gardens with topiary – at the moment Alice in wonderland is heavily featured.

 

 

Back to our previous stop along Beulieu Road to cook up some dinner, Fray Bentos pie, new potato, veg and gravy – perfect.  As we were parked up a young stag turned up having a munch on the vegetation right up to the van – what an experience.

Overnight stop at The Crown Stirrup which is under new management.  This is a beautiful little pub with bags of atmosphere, another one on our list to visit very soon.  They have a huge pub garden with a large firepit and oversized furniture.  But the best feature is the back gate which leads directly in to the forest – perfect.

Saturday 29th April 2017

IMG_2965We experienced a very peaceful night and decided to walk off in to the forest for a constitutional.  Wonderful and well used, we met other walkers who told us where the bluebells were and about a carving of a dragon.  Only a short walk this time as I had overdone it at the museum and my ankles were playing up.

 

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Today we had planned to go home but not before popping in to Lyndhurst which is the capital of the New Forest and also driving along some scenic routes looking out for wildlife.  We were not disappointed as we found ponies, donkeys (naughty eating plants), cattle and deer.

We stopped for a cup of tea at Peggy Mays Cafe in the main street and then had a walk around the town window shopping.  We also visited the New Forest museum which was very educational.

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Back at Bertha it was time to have another cup of tea and we decided to do our own brew up – but what about cake?  Off I popped and came back with a takeaway cream tea – a perfect end to our holiday.

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Two Go To Wales

So for our April holiday we decided to take Bertha to Wales for a short week with the aim of popping over to the Brecons – this is our diary of the trip.

First of there was a stop at Cardiff, Nikki has bought me tickets for my birthday to the Dr Who Experience and I was really looking forward to the trip.

It appeared that once Cardiff got her grips on us, we never left until the end of the holiday! What an amazing city to explore, so here is what we did.

First of all a quick nod to the Trip Advisor (check me out on it as Kaz Bissell) timeline, this is a fab way of keeping track of where you have been and photographs – amazing

Our aim originally was to do all wild camping, it did not fully work out that way but a couple of nights was achieved.

Monday 17th April 2017
FullSizeRenderI had done considerable research on wild camping recommendations and was keen to check out Roath Park.   This is a very popular park with a beautiful large lake, gardens, woodland and basically all the other stuff such as boating, play areas, hot house etc. We found a side road to the park called Wild Gardens Road – very apt name. On one side was the lake and the other the woods, nice and peaceful but also near a bit of civilisation.
Perfect with a little branch line station down the road which is a 10 train ride to Cardiff Central and cheap – a few quid for a single and cheaper for the senior rail card 
So a train ride to Cardiff and off we walked in search of a little drink and just a scout out of Cardiff. We soon fell in to a bar called The Hashery, a nice bar with cocktails 2-1 for £6.95 all day, great vibe, good music and a little quirky. This has gone down on our list for a place to visit again.  After a couple of cocktails we decided to try their signature dish of mussels which was scrummy and reasonably priced.
Then we went off for a stroll around Cardiff taking in the odd mural and avoiding beggars (some professional), this is the one let down of the city – such a shame, but probably a necessity.
Time was rolling on and we decided to go to the pictures at the Vue Cinema which had a deal on with £4 tickets – bargain. The film we saw was the Ghost in the Shell – great movie and one to recommend.
After a great movie and another stroll we headed back to Roath Park by taxi, on reflection we should have taken the train back but we were tired and assumed that the train would not be running – wrong.
An uneventful evening at the park with the exception of snoring geese!
Tuesday 18th April 2017
So the next morning it was time to have a walk around the park. It was full of swans, geese, ducks, coots and other water fowl and there were various young (ducklings, goslings). I was good to see that the park was protecting the Swans on their nests and have put a temporary fencing around them.
For the next stop off it was to the Cardiff Caravan and Camping Park which is a 10 minute walk along the River Taff to the city centre – perfect location.
This is a good location with clean shower blocks and a café – although we did not dine there. The pitches have self-contained water, grey water dump and electrics. Whilst we were there they were upgrading some of the hard standing. Not greatly spread out and £30 per night because of the great location.
Wednesday 19th April 2007 
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Bute Park this is a large park behind Cardiff Castle with well-maintained borders and a little café. From here we took the Water Bus to Cardiff Bay. What a lovely journey just taking in the local wild fowl and enjoying the sedate ride with commentary, a great way to travel.

 

This is where the Dr Who Experience is located a great venue to visit with all the monsters, Daleks and Tardis consoles as well as costumes. Check out my trip advisor  for the full SP. We walked round the bay to the Norwegian Church Arts Centre which is quite a building which stands out well, there is outside seating which provide a wonderful view of the bay.
Cardiff Bay is where the National Assembly is located, we did not get a chance to pop in but apparently it is an interesting building to visit.
We popped our head in to the Millennium Centre which at the time were hosting Sister Act and outside was being set up for the Lady Boys of Bangkok!
Lunch was at Bills Cardiff Bay Restaurant, a wonder three course affair which was quite reasonable and definitely worth another visit in the future – add this to your list.
We walked back from the Bay which was very pleasant and good exercise although there were plenty of buses available (although the water bus finished too early).
It was time to seek out food so we picked TGI Fridays which should be a safe bet – nope. Poor service and below standard food, that one is off the list for us.

Thursday 20th April 2017
We stayed overnight at the Cardiff Caravan Park again as it was so comfortable and easy for the City Centre – time to pack up, so we moved next to Bute Park for a spot of wild camping!
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All parked off so off to the Cardiff Castle we went, we have always looked from the outside and never visited – a mistake, what a great attraction. We went up the large keep and took panoramic photographs of Cardiff and visited the air raid shelters within the walls (very atmospheric). Also as a bonus I flew an owl!
We dined in the van tonight and then decided to pop to a local pub literally 3 minutes away called Y Mochyn Du, what a fab pub. Lovely atmosphere and frequented by the cricket teams and other sporty people. After a very good Welsh Gin made with Seaweed we ambled back to Bertha for sleeps which were undisturbed.

Thursday 20th April 2017
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Today we go back home but not without a visit to The Big Pit which involved a trip underground wearing helmets and lights, well worth a visit.

Dear Diary

Dear Diary,

Yesterday we were very naughty.

It all started good, we walked down to town to purchase food for dinner which would be nutritious, wholesome e and adhere to the Slimming World diet.

We were walking past the Liberal Club and our daughter Nikki waved, so we popped in to say hello to Nikki, Lee and the boys. What a lovely time we have, having cuddles with baby Harrison and watching Logan play with his friends. What a lovely end to a working week.

What I did not realise was that we were drinking doubles (naughty Sue), this was early evening before dinner ooops.

Well, we had a lovely time, fab company, joined the club and reluctantly went shopping.

So let’s cut to the chase, dinner consisted off a large plate of southern fried chicken, scrummy. Oh yes, I did also have coleslaw and tomato 🙃. Followed but trifle – get in 😜. Then it went further downhill and we washed it down with a huge bar of chocolate eat, mine was fruit and nut.

What a glorious blow out, but you know what? I don’t feel guilty, I needed to cut loose, but I know not to get on the scales and now must strengthen my resolve.

Dinner and Gin

Do you fancy going out to dinner, I will drive?

Its Thursday night so why not, so off we went for my first visit to The Westbrook (Bromham) and what a treat.  Yes it was a bit expensive but that is because we had three courses and gin!

Oh, did I not mention gin?  Well they have a gin menu with 11 good quality gins served up with the various fever tree tonic options and of course accompaniments.

The menu caters for all tastes from the traditional pub grub, various steaks (including rib eye) to something a bit more different.

King ScallopsWe started off with scallops served on a comfit of belly pork and a black pudding fritter with apple and calvados sauce,  and a deconstructed cocktail with lovely home baked warm bread,  followed by cod Florentine and Chicken Ballontine.  The Cod Florentine was very tasty with decent size pieces of fish on a bed of spinach and cheese sauce, served up with baby potatoes.  It was lovely and hot with lots of sauce.  Chicken Ballontine is breast stuffed with chorizo and apricot por
t stuffing then wrapped in Serrano ham and accompanied by a roasted pepper sauce, it did seem a little dry but not wort
hy of a complaint and it was full of flavour.Cod Florentine

Gin, mustn’t forget to mention this, what a fab menu and a great choice to serve any palate.  I try to taste different gins when going out and these were the ones we drank tonight:

Williams Chase Elegant Crisp – apple cider is used and they are harvested in the area, this is also Britain’s only single estate gin – a very pleasant gin.

King of Soho Gin – this is a London gin which is a tribute to Paul Raymond who was known as the King of Soho.  It has a citrus bias and is light and fresh, very drinkable, oh yes did I mention the bottle – it is a work of art and worth purchasing just for that as an added bonus.

Gin Mare Williams Chase Elegant Crip Gin– this gin has been on my radar for a while, simply because it is usually prominent in the duty free shop! It is Spanish and produced in a small fishing village and I have seen a review say that you should let the smoke of burning thyme into the glass, rub a lemon wedge in the glass before filling, serve with rosemary, them and lemon zest – sounds like an adventure to try – stay tuned.

Opihr – this is one of my favourites and one that we have at home.  It is a spicy gin which I serve with Fever tree ginger and cardamom pods.

Almost forgot the dessert – oops.

Well I have the Champagne Rhubarb Crème Brule with was served with the obligatory shortbread biscuit.  I quite liked the rhubarb at the bottom, it added a nice twang but I did think that the brule was a bit too solid – if you get my drift and the top could have been crispier.

The Eton Mess is served in a sundae glass and looked very filling, the strawberries appeared to be either hard or slightly frozen, however it is not really the season for strawberries so perhaps they were just a bit hard.

Cappuccino @GateauThe Cappuccino Gateau was very light and a very good sized portion was served, my dining partners said that it tasted like a light tiramisu and is one to have again.

So that was my first visit, a very pleasant one with great company.  The restaurant area is very tastefully decorated and on the walls are pastel drawings for sale of local landscapes.

The staff are very friendly and attentive, this appears to be also a local watering hole and is a popular place to visit so it is worth booking in advance.

Longleat

So what to do on Mothers Day?  Off we trundled to Longleat using our Tesco Boost vouchers as the cost is about £30 per adult.  Of course on Mothers Day one of you can go free with a voucher – still cheaper via Tesco.

The giraffes were in their pen and not roaming by the feeding stations as the weather is not quite warm enough yet – Sunday was hot!

This time we took my Nissan Juke and decided to avoided the monkeys as I have a rear window wiper which is staple food for the Longleat monkeys.  As we drove past we were not missed as monkeys were climbing all over the cars and dismantling them.

Then in to the deer enclosure, last time we went it was rutting season but they were out and about although the feeding station was not dispensing!  This was good fun to watch as the deer were wallowing in mud and were completely covered head to hoof.  I stopped the car to view some deer eating hay and one walked over to say hello.  What a beauty, no food but I managed to spend quite a while tickling his head and causing a wonderful traffic jam.

Now for the big cats – window up.  The tigers were sitting up high and providing wonderful photo opportunities and when we reached the lions they were all in their pride flat out with twitching ears and tails.  The cheetahs were nowhere to be seen and the wolves were right in the middle so not a good view at all.  We did not see Anna the rescued elephant and the rhinos were also in their yard.

So we parked up and went foraging for food because at the African village the cafe was disgraceful, dirty tables, very little food available (1.30pm) and lacklustre staff.  So off to the rain forest cafe which provides the noises but sadly no longer the water (I wonder why).  After enjoying a very good jacket potato off we trundled to find the lorikeets.

These are funny little parrot like birds which you can feed using nectar pots at a cost of £1 per small helping.  I love this, it is so much fun and very entertaining.  Then off to see the penguins who last time were very poorly and locked away.  They are so funny and very graceful underwater.

It’s worth ducking into the touch pool area to see the rays and we saw one that had been born that very morning.  Now off to the lake to see the sea lions, another highlight and another cost of £1 per pot but great fun.

We didn’t see everything on this visit as time ran away but there was just enough time to see the bats – magnificent and a truly amazing experience.

So loved Longleat – as always – but wish they still did the passport ticket – sadly not.

 

Bertha now has her water heater

So I purchased from Ebay a Rinnai water heater and it arrived!  It is an older model but to be honest Bertha is over 20 years old.

Gary my LPG Gas-Safe engineer came round to fit it and first of all it was a matter of transferring over fittings – all good.

Then putting the vent pipe on – oops the heater is slightly longer – it fitted.

Time to test and we kept our fingers crossed – hurrah hot water into the sink it works, how excited was I ?

The best of all is that the shower works with good pressure and is hot as well – double bonus.  Now all I have to do is flush through the tanks with the appropriate solution and away we go – I am so pleased.

Bertha needs a water heater

So I pondered a while about this one as last year we did not use the water heater at all.  Most of the washing up was done on site or using a kettle and we did not use Berthas shower.

Time to bite the bullet, I contacted a local guy off the GasSafe register who is LPG trained, told him about the heater and he popped round for a 15min free check.

The heater looked very clean and there were high hopes until I switched on the water – then it sprang a leak, oh dear, what to do?

Options: 1. Buy a new water heater, 2. buy a new heat exchanger 3. do nothing.

Time to Google……

On eBay I found the next model up which will fit everything for £150 with all the fittings. It was second-hand but had been bench tested – so I have ordered it, found out my lovely gas engineer will charge £80 to fit so just waiting for delivery.

Stay tuned…..

This Is It

This is it I cannot write these words without singing the song in my head and it is a good thing.

I am new to this type of blogging and really I am inspired by a Blogging For Fun session I joined which was presented by Rachel Broome #tallrachel

So I have started, please stay tuned if you happen across my blog.

 

Why Gin?

Why not?  So many questions could be said here.

However the main reason is that I started dieting (Slimming World) and being a big red wine drinker I soon discovered that the 2 do not mix.

However gin with a slimline tonic does work – sorted

We visited a pub in Bremhill called the Dumb Post Inn and they had a gin festival which introduced us to the many types and accompaniments, this intrigued us and we though “what a lovely idea”.  Now we have about 12 bottles at home and when we are on our travels it is a great idea to test out the local gin.

#gin #slimming #slimline #TheDumbPost

Bertha – the big machine

Bertha

Bertha is a Talbot Highwayman Motor Home – that is all we knew about motor homing and it was a start to a brand new adventure.  She is an old F-reg with plenty of life left but is creaking here and there.

We aim to go out on many adventures around the UK, sometimes ‘wild camping’, also doing pub stops and then being very sensible and stopping at camp sites.

So my aim is to talk about her adventures.

#motorhome #travel #Talbot #camping