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First Timer – Let’s get started

This is the post excerpt.

Today I updated my Facebook status:-

Sat here with a glass of cider, in the beautiful sunshine getting excited, and ready, for our upcoming trip – might start work on the blog tonight…!”

So I thought I’d better make a start.

The main reason for starting a blog is our year off travelling around the UK (mostly) in our motorhome in 2017.  Before that (30th May 2016 to be precise) we’re off to France for 5 1/2 weeks.

So I thought I’d get a bit of practice in before next year (bearing in mind I have no idea what I’m doing…)

Currently we’re making sure that everything is in place before we leave.  We’ve spend the past couple of months starting every weekend agreeing that we must get some ‘stuff’ done.  So, here we are with just over 3 weeks to go, and we’ve finally got started!

Okay, so we’ve done a few bits and pieces.  Mainly buying in extra provisions – such as rice and high juice.  Yes, I KNOW they have shops in France but last time we were there we found that it was impossible to find certain items, or when we did they were insanely expensive (for instance, I got a hankering for chocolate spread – no, I don’t know why either – and although we found it, it cost about £4)

Today, Calvin has made a space in the back cupboard to hang a couple of storage containers in – we can keep shoes, loo rolls and other provisions in there.  He’s also modified the bike rack so that we can fit our new bikes on without scratching them.  He really is very useful!

Oh yes, of course, we bought new bikes a few weeks back.  Electric bikes… meaning we can go a little further on them (rather than me always wanting to turn back before Calvin does).  I’d taken a couple of months to finally make the decision to buy.  Calvin decided in 2 minutes flat while I was making a final decision on which bike to buy.  So, we’re looking forward to making good use of them on all those cycle paths & routes in France (particularly in the Pyrenees).

So far we love them (went out for a short 6 mile ride this morning actually before coming over to the van).

Tomorrow we’ll carry on emptying out the cupboards and getting rid of anything that really isn’t needed.  I’ve already filled up 1 cupboard with books, and another with DVDs.

Next week we’ll give the van a good clean, and finalise the modifications to the bike rack.  We will also check if we can get the NOW TV box to work as long as we’ve got WIFI – if anyone knows if this is likely please feel free to share 🙂

Finally I have just 3 weeks left to lose all that weight that I promised I would lose some months ago.  I’ve failed miserably so far, so must try harder!

In my next post I’ll share our route through France.

 

 

 

 

A dribble along the coast, a ride along the steam railway and a wander around Filby & Ormsby Broads

We weren’t really up to doing much the day after visiting Norwich, so after a lazy morning we headed out for a drive along the coast.  We started with California & Scratby where we parked up and went down to have a look at the beach.  Being a windy day it was actually quite nice as the beach was really sheltered.

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Next we saw Hemsby.  These are actually all nice little resorts typified by many chalet parks (yes chalet parks, as opposed to statics).  Don’t get me wrong there are several static parks, but I do like a chalet (I think it’s because that’s what we always stayed in when I was a kid – must be an age thing!)

There were all the usual things you would expect in seaside resorts – amusement arcades, ice-cream stalls, fairs and fish & chip shops. Continue reading “A dribble along the coast, a ride along the steam railway and a wander around Filby & Ormsby Broads”

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West Norfolk, Dog Racing and Norwich

Great Yarmouth has both a horse racing track and a greyhound stadium.  As I’ve never ‘been to the dogs’ I thought it might be worth a visit.  So Wednesday evening found us joining the hordes (might be a bit of an exaggeration..) attending the races.

I was surprised by the lack of excitement – I only actually heard a couple of people get excited when their dog won (including me on my 1 win – out of 13 races…)

You pay to get in and then, of course, to bet.  The 6 horses are paraded around to be shown in front of the crowd; at this point many of them take the opportunity to, shall we say, lighten their load!  They’re loaded into the starting stalls, the hare (orange) comes racing around and away they go to race for 1 1/4 laps (about 30-35 seconds in total!)  I have to admit it wasn’t overly exciting and I doubt we’ll bother going again.  But, it’s always nice to do something you haven’t done and, you never know, we MIGHT have won big…..

On Friday we decided to go to Norwich.  This was somewhere else that hadn’t been on our radar, but having read what the ‘Rough Guide’ had to say we decided that we really should make the effort.

We were glad we did and wished that we’d got up a bit earlier so that we could have seen more of it. Continue reading “West Norfolk, Dog Racing and Norwich”

South Norfolk; In search of the famous Broads – and finding plenty of exercise 😊

We’ve moved just over 30 miles up the coast and landed in Caister, nr Great Yarmouth. We’re in the middle of nowhere in a wonderful little campsite (see our review for Lower Wood Farm).


On our 1st afternoon we took one of the 3 footpaths from the site and headed off towards Caister Castle. There are so many footpaths around here you can tailor your own walk depending on how far you want to go. For instance, instead of going directly to the castle and back (which would have been about 2 ½ miles in total) we ‘turned right’ (see what I did there?!) and added a bit more off road walking. This meant that our walk ended up being a very respectable 4 ½ miles. We did have to clear a path in places (it always seems to be windy here, but it is particularly windy at the moment!) And the nettles are huge and plentiful….

On the little map that we had been given we saw a ruined church noted so we headed for that before the castle. It turned out to not be ruined at all, but a little chapel that is still in use. I checked later and found out that there are the remains of a ruined church nearby, but they seem to be located in somebody’s garden.

From there we set off for the castle, which entailed walking down 1 of the many lanes that you’ll find, and probably regularly drive along, in this area.

We were confused as to why all the signs point to ‘Caister Castle Classic Car Collection’ rather than just Caister Castle. When we arrived we realised that this is because the car collection is actually the main attraction, with the ruins of the castle (there is a tower that you can climb to the top of) as an added bonus to your ticket price of £14. We got photos from outside the boundary but didn’t go in as we’re not interested enough in looking at classic cars – not enough to pay £28 for the privilege anyway.

The next day, after a morning swim in our site’s indoor pool, we set off in the little car to explore, starting with Caister on Sea. On the way down to the seafront there is an English Heritage run roman fort with a little car park situated right beside the road. We realised after we’d already driven past! It’s a slightly strange place, the beach is okay (but the beaches improve dramatically as you move on up the coast).

We moved on to have a look at Great Yarmouth seafront. Which we did. From the car! A bit like an east coast Blackpool I think. As we drove in there was an empty and abandoned boating lake, which was a bit of an eyesore. The reason for this became apparent as we moved further along, in that there is a brand new facility. What a shame nothing has been done with the old site. Then came the pier, the amusements and the funfairs. At the far end of the promenade we could see a monument, sited in an industrial area, which turned out to be in honour of the battle of Trafalgar.

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So we’d done Great Yarmouth, no need to go back! We had our sandwiches with us so decided to head to a place called Burgh Castle, where there is another English Heritage Roman fort, to eat them.

On arrival the 1st thing we saw was the church. On visiting we chatted to the guy inside who told us all about it. Amongst the things we learned from him were the reason for the seemingly random sets of stairs built into the walls of some of the churches we’ve seen. There would have been a screen between the chancel and the nave in days gone by, and without electricity the churches were lit by candles, many of which were situated on this screen. The steps allowed the altar boys to climb up to light these candles!

We also learned why you rarely see headstones prior to the 1800s (apart from the fact that the inscriptions wear away over time). This was because they were so expensive before Victorian times that very few people were able to afford them, instead simple wooden crosses were used.

The Roman fort was surprisingly well preserved considering it was built almost 1600 years ago! There are views across the river to a couple of windmills.

On heading home we again noticed how many wildflowers there were growing in the hedgerows, particularly poppies. I was surprised to see not only red poppies, but also purple and pink – not something I’ve ever seen before.

The next morning, again after a swim, we ended up heading to Wroxham, known as the capital of the Broads. We can only think that the beauty of the broads is best seen from the water as landside isn’t particularly pretty. We weren’t charmed in any way by Wroxham, although there are plenty of places to hire boats, by the hour, day or longer.

There are also, of course, boat trips to be had from here and you can rent canoes.

We didn’t find it on the day, but the Bure Valley Steam Railway runs from Wroxham to Aylsham (9 miles) – when we cycled the route a few days later we saw that this was a slightly prettier part of town.

Wroxham also appears to be owned by a man named Roy! He has a department store, toy store, diy store and more!

My next post will tell you about our visit to Norwich 😊

A cycle ride from Aldeburgh to Thorpeness, Sizewell Beach and Leiston Abbey

Our last day in Suffolk before moving onto Norfolk (‘South Folk’ and ‘North Folk’ denoted by where they lived in relation to the river.  I’m not sure what river – there are many, many rivers in this area!)  We’d already decided that this was the day we would cycle from Aldeburgh to Thorpeness – because the children were going back to school!

It turned out to be a lovely day, if a little windy.  We parked at the south end of Aldeburgh on the Slaughden ‘peninsula’ (mainly because it’s free..) and cycled along the seafront, this time going on past the Scallop, which was as far as we got last time.

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I did think that the cycle path went all the way to Thorpeness, however, whilst there is a path all the way along the seafront, there comes a point where it isn’t suitable for riding on so we had to move onto the road.  However, the road is absolutely fine and not too busy so it wasn’t a problem.

Thorpeness is just a few miles away from Aldeburgh and it is absolutely charming.  Originally conceived as a purpose built, upmarket holiday village Continue reading “A cycle ride from Aldeburgh to Thorpeness, Sizewell Beach and Leiston Abbey”

The Suffolk seaside and a lost city

Southwold is not your normal seaside resort.  Yes, it has plenty of beach huts, a boating lake, mini-golf and a pier, but there aren’t any amusement arcades or a promenade lined with pubs and cafes.  What you have instead is a quaint and historic town, and a pier with rather different attractions (although there is a small amusement arcade as you enter).

The pier has a couple of classy, for a seaside pier, eateries, an attraction in the middle called ‘The Under of the Pier Show’; what this actually comprises are handmade up-to-date arcade attractions – a lot of fun and very popular and a couple of up-to-date artworks.  These include a tribute to George Orwell, who lived in the town for some time, and a water clock, initially made to highlight water re-cycling.  This is a lot of fun on the hour and the half hour when there is a little display involving shorts dropping and water squirting!

I loved the beach huts in Southwold! Continue reading “The Suffolk seaside and a lost city”

Aldeburgh and Orford (and kayaking)

Arriving in Suffolk we were told by a reliable source that we had chosen to stay in the ‘arse-end’ of a very pretty area!  I think she was referring to the fact that we are just a few miles from Sizewell and the town that serves it, Leiston.

However, we have to beg to differ as within very easy reach we have found some little gems, including:- Aldeburgh, Thorpeness, Orford, Dunwich, Southwold and, today, Framlingham.  All this in addition to Theberton’s own, extremely special, St Peters Church.

Let’s start with the church – it was the first visit we made after all, being at the end of the road we’re staying on (Fishers Field in Church Lane :), see my review of the site here ); so about a 5 minute walk from the van.

The church has an unusual round tower and thatched roof, and you can see where it was extended in the 15th century.  In the vestry there is a beautiful arch leading into the church.  It would appear that this was an entrance from a monastery that occupied the site behind the church in medieval times (there’s no longer any trace of this unfortunately).  The painted decoration is also still clearly visible, as are the slight bowing of the roof.

Tonight, Sunday 4th June, Bill Turnbull is hosting a local election debate in the church!

The day after arriving we headed to Aldeburgh, via Thorpeness.  We drove through Thorpeness (we’re returning on our bikes tomorrow), and I was shocked – I was expecting something dingy and soulless, so it was a bit of a shock to drive through such a quaint and quirky space.  You can also see ‘the House in the Clouds’ from here (I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this on a number of travel programmes before).  We can’t wait to visit properly now!  We’re going to cycle from Aldeburgh which is where we were heading when driving through.

Aldeburgh is also quite charming.  A long stretch of shingle leads up to the town where you find numerous historic and interesting buildings. Continue reading “Aldeburgh and Orford (and kayaking)”