Walking and Kayaking in Symonds Yat

I’m always surprised how many people HAVEN’T heard of Symonds Yat! Yes, I have childhood memories of trips here, but it is such a beautiful spot it should be on everybody’s UK bucket list (IMHO) 🙂

After our time in Lynmouth we headed north again for the stunning Wye Valley. We stayed at Greenacres nr. Coleford, which gave us the perfect excuse to walk 12 miles to take in Symonds Yat 🙂

We arrived mid-afternoon to find that our booking hadn’t been updated from the previous Saturday – oh no! Mild panic ensued, but we waited patiently until we got the good news that there was a pitch for us – phew 🙂

Once pitched up we headed off toward Monmouth to get in a few supplies for a bbq as my sister and her husband were joining us for a couple of nights. We were very confused on entering Lidls. I kept nudging Calv.. ‘They’re not very mask compliant here are they?!’ Then we realised that we were in Wales where (at that point in COVID history) they weren’t required to wear masks… We took ours off, and then found it didn’t feel right and put them back on again! (Who would have thought it?!!)

Back in England my sister arrived, we enjoyed our bbq and evening and in the morning we checked the route we needed to take for Symonds Yat. The footpath starts in the campsite and, although I’m pretty sure we took a few wrong turns, it was a lovely walk and we eventually made it to the river and the sanctuary of the ancient Saracen’s Head Inn, situated in front of the old hand-pulled chain ferry across the river (sadly not open at all during our visits). Here we navigated all the new rules and found a seat on the terrace for a drink and a spot of lunch.

Debs and I set off up the hill to the viewpoint before the boys. Luckily I had forgotten what a hard trek this is uphill!! But it is sooo worth it as the views are truly spectacular 🙂

It was a very tired group of 4 that arrived back at the van late on, so we decided to eat out. We investigated many local pubs, finding most were either booked up or we didn’t fancy what was on offer. In the end we chose to head into the nearest town, Coleford, and see what we could find.

We found the town of an evening to be not particularly, shall we say, inviting… Lots of people milling around, drinks in hand, outside the pubs.. Anyway we found a little Indian Restaurant that had a few tables, Cinnamons, and decided to give it a go. Very pleasant it was too 🙂

I must say that Calv and I had visited Coleford before and did note one place of interest, which was just off the main car park, being the GWR Railway Museum. (Every town has something to offer 🙂 )

Having extended our stay at Greenacres by a couple of nights (we had to move all our bookings around suddenly when Greater Manchester and the surrounding areas had new restrictions put in place – meaning we decided to cancel our stay up in Ingleton), we didn’t need to rush off in the morning. This meant that Debbie and Paul were able to come back down to Symonds Yat with us (this time in the car) as we had missed Biblins Bridge the day before. This is a rope bridge across the river.

It’s a couple of miles back upriver from the car park, so was a decent walk. There is a tearoom on the other riverbank, which we took advantage of, as well as a campsite for tents and small camper vans (which looked absolutely idyllic – Biblins Youth Campsite). Obviously there was another visit to The Saracen’s Head involved as well…

I need to just mention that the roads in this area are narrow and steep in places with some very tight bends – careful driving is required!!

Debbie and Paul headed off home on Sunday afternoon, and I’m pretty sure we just relaxed in the sun.

Monday was set aside for a spot of kayaking on the river, having discovered that we could launch from the carpark for just £2 (on top of the £4 per day parking fee).

Another beautiful day dawned, and we made our way down river, ‘beached’ for a short time (when Calv managed to drop his phone in the water – but don’t worry; he eventually found out that it’s waterproof (after a couple of days panicking), and he’s stopped telling everybody he meets now….!)

Once we’d landed and put the kayak away we headed back (yep, you’ve guessed it) to The Saracen’s Head – it would have been rude not to!

All in all another wonderful visit to the area, and we are certain that we will return again, and would highly recommend both the area and the campsite to others 🙂

Next up: A short visit to Shrewsbury and Oswestry

Where we stayed: Greenacres Campsite, nr Coleford

Related Posts: Walking in Lynmouth

Walking Lynmouth to Watersmeet

Walk Lynmouth to Watersmeet (just like Julia Bradbury did)

Perhaps a little more challenging than you would have thought from the ‘Best of British Walks’ on the telly… But what a wonderful walk. You do need a fair degree of fitness to tackle the 2nd part, but you could turn back after visiting the tearooms to avoid the steep bit!

A couple of days following our extended walk down into Lynmouth we felt ready to tackle the walk that we had seen Julia Bradbury complete on ‘Great British Walks’ – they showed the easiest bits of course!

We drove down to Lynmouth, parking in the car park by the river. This is where the walk starts and we lost no time having breakfast or anything this time! We headed straight to the back of the car park to cross the river by the small footbridge. The river is so pretty here it’s difficult to imagine that this is the new course forged as a result of the flood in the 1950’s.

The walk starts nice and gently, meandering along the riverside, through the trees with a choice after about 1/2 mile of continuing along the river or heading directly through the woods. We chose the riverside as we knew there were a few areas of interest to see.

This part of the walk is easy and very pretty. We found the site of the Lynrock mineral water factory right alongside the river. They also made ginger beer here right up until 1939. The Atlee brothers who owned the factory lived at Myrtleberry which you pass a little further upriver. Read all about it here.

After a couple of miles you reach Watersmeet House which is now a rather lovely tearoom. Unfortunately we visited shortly after businesses had been allowed to re-open and the Cream Tea available was not freshly made, which was rather disappointing. We shall just have to return in happier times 🙂 (Sounds like a perfect excuse to me!)

After our little break and a quick chat with a fellow camper from our campsite we headed off for the more difficult part of the walk (at this point we didn’t know just how hard it was!) But first we took the detour further upriver (and it was UP) to find the waterfalls. Which we initially walked straight past, only realising our mistake when we got to the road… (Incidentally, if you were to be staying at the same campsite we did – Lynmouth Holiday Retreat – you can see a sign on the road for The Beggars Roost (which is at the entrance to the site), so we think you could probably walk back from here if you wanted to).

Heading back downhill we spotted a small set of steps down to the river which led to a viewpoint to see the waterfall. Remember it had been a very hot, dry summer thus far, and as such the waterfall wasn’t flowing very strongly…. We think it is probably far better in the spring or autumn.

We got back on the correct path (behind the house), which starts climbing almost immediately. And keeps on climbing forever (well, it felt like it anyway – I did consider turning around and going back the easy way at 1 point….). Then, just when you think you’re at the top you turn a corner and, oh look, it’s still going up. Didn’t tell us about THAT did you Julia??!! No, I think you mentioned that there were a ‘couple’ of steep sections after the house. Hmmm…

Having said that once we finally reached the top the views were stunning, and then we had the pleasure of finding a rather nice pub, The Blue Ball Inn at Countisbury, for a well earned 2nd pitstop 🙂

Suitably refreshed we set off for the final section of the walk along the South West Coast Path. Accessed via the churchyard we visited the tiny church of Countisbury, which was rather charming, before picking up the path along the cliff.

Whilst we were glad to finally be heading downhill, it was quite steep in places of this narrow path on the edge of the cliff… Once again though, stunning views 🙂 culminating in a welcome return to Lynmouth to give a final total of 7 miles hiked.

And of course a quick drink in The Ancient Mariner topped the day off nicely!

We would highly recommend this walk even if it’s just to the tearooms and back to Lynmouth. We will almost definitely return and do it again!

Next time read all about our adventures (and walks…) in Symonds Yat!

Related Posts:

Walking in Lynmouth and Lynton

Travelling to Lynmouth? Don’t do what we did!

A weekend in Symonds Yat

Walking in Exmoor – Lynmouth, Lynton, West Lyn

A ride on the Lynmouth/Lynton cliff railway has been on my bucket list since way before I knew what a bucket list was! Recent appearances on travel programmes re-ignited my interest, plus a walk on Julia Bradbury’s Great British Walks ignited Calv’s interest too – so was the 1st stop on our UK mini road trip decided 🙂

After a slightly stressful run-in to Lynmouth (don’t take the A39 – read why here), we settled down for a few days of walking.

We arrived the day after a big storm and the weather was still a bit dull, but the following day was much better, and we set off, pretty early for us, at about 9.30am.  The main reason for this is we were looking for somewhere to treat Calv to a big English Breakfast on his birthday 🙂

We found the footpath out of the site and set off down the lanes and across the fields to head down the hill.  Some wonderful views greeted us even at this early part of the walk.

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Once we hit the path we weren’t sure which way to go, so we headed left as this seemed the most logical direction. We were wrong as this took us back up the hill and around a gorge back downhill, before heading back up to meet the road skirting Lynton – meaning a walk along the road (some of it on the road) steeply downhill into Lynmouth. It wasn’t a problem, at least we saw more of the countryside!!

Arriving in Lynmouth we headed down towards the main area where there is a good selection of tourist shops, bars, cafes and pubs 🙂 We were here at the end of July so everything was open with social distancing protocols and masks in use.

At the far end of parade of shops we found The Ancient Mariner, just the right degree of quirkiness and a simply wonderful breakfast. We liked it so much we returned a couple more times during our trip 🙂

Revived by our breakfast we set off in search of the cliff railway that I had spent so many years wanting to visit. We first found the seafront and the Rhenish Tower (originally built in 1860 to store salt water for indoor baths, it had to be rebuilt after being destroyed in the disastrous flood of 1952). The historic cliff railway cannot be missed (both literally and figuratively), carving it’s way at a seemingly impossible gradient up the hill as it does! And it is still completely water powered.

At £3 each way for an adult (£2 per child, £1 per dog) it was well worth the total cost of £12 (we came back down later on in the day). A childhood dream finally realised!! I can’t wait to go back and do it again. And again. And again 🙂

At the top we took a walk around Lynton which is a bigger town than Lynmouth with more choice of shops and eateries. Perhaps not quite as charming though.

Completely by chance we looked at a info board in front of the town hall (and cinema. Apparently Lynton is the smallest town in England to have it’s own cinema) and decided to follow the walk up Hollerday Hill to find the old Hollerday House. There really was no evidence left of the house when you got there, the most complete area left was where the tennis court had been, although there is a really good information board.

Once you have walked up (and I mean up) as far as the house it is definitely worth walking the extra 5/10 minutes to the summit of the hill and the site of the old Iron Age Fort. It was VERY windy on the summit, but what a wonderful view we had – to the east the bay in front of Lynmouth, to the west ‘Valley of the Rocks’ and to the North the Welsh coast. We really wanted to visit The Valley of the Rocks, but simply ran out of time. Yet another reason to return 🙂

Once back down in Lynmouth we popped in for a drink in the Ancient Mariner before visiting the Glen Lyn Gorge . This perhaps feels a little expensive at £6 per adult, but it is privately owned and they have provided plenty of pathways up to the waterfalls, together with the loan of a mobility scooter that can get the less abled up to see these. The little museum is brilliant. Once the families left we had the place to ourselves (in these Covid times we waited for them to leave) and we were in there a fair while!

You learn a fair bit about the flood of 1952, which devastated the town, here. The other place is the Flood Memorial Hall which is near The Ancient Mariner. It’s free to visit but was unfortunately closed when we were in town (due to Covid no doubt).

So now we had to get back to the campsite. We knew we had to go uphill, but asked the guy in the Gorge what was the best way. The answer is to go to the right on leaving the gorge, and very soon there is a pathway up through the houses (we missed it at first, but I really don’t know how!!) You start off following the Two Moors Way (Devon’s coast to coast walk).

It is very steep, right from the start. And it doesn’t really get any better for a good long way…. Once off of the tarmacked path and into the trees you zig zag for what seems like miles (and not helped by people coming the other way telling you you’ve still got a long way to go!) before hitting the flattish path near the top. Here to get back to the campsite (Lynmouth and Lynton Holiday Retreat), you need to turn right. Then you will find the gate into the field waymarked for West Lyn. Good luck 🙂

This was a really long day and I’m sure you can imagine our legs were really tired, having walked over 11 miles – half of it up really steep hills. So we didn’t do much more that evening (not even a quick drink in The Beggars Roost...)

With tired legs the next day was spent visiting Ilfracombe. It’s so memorable that I forgot I’d been before….

In my next post I’ll tell you about our walk to Watersmeet and back to Lynmouth (the same walk that Julia Bradbury did on the telly).

We stayed: Lynmouth Holiday Retreat

Related Posts: Travelling to Lynmouth? Don’t do what we did!

Lynmouth to Watersmeet walk

Our Next Stop: Greenacres Campsite, for Symonds Yat

Walking and Kayaking at Symonds Yat

Travelling to Lynmouth and Lynton? Don’t do what we did…..

Vital advice on how to get to Lynmouth/Lynton in a motorhome or with a caravan. Put it this way – you need to drive much further than you would think (when just looking at a map). You need to take the A361/A399 rather than the obvious looking A39…. Trust me, and read on!

First thing to tell you is that that picture isn’t us!!  It’s a library photo trying to show you the problems on Porlock Hill.

On Monday, after a very hectic week or so, we set off on our mini UK roadtrip – first stop Lynton and Lynmouth.

We took a cursory look at the map, saw an A road (the A39) and decided that was probably the best route; set up the sat nav (an Aguri set up for our outfit, which we then proceeded to ignore as we thought she was being stupid – we are humbled and will never ignore here again!!)

We simply had no idea about the A39 (also known as the Atlantic Highway) you see.  So this is how we ended up, accidently, tackling Porlock Hill.  If you haven’t heard about Porlock Hill can I respectfully suggest that you have a little read about it here….

When we got to the hill (remember, we had no idea about it), the first we knew about any issues was the notice at the junction of the hill itself and the alternative route of the toll road.

Bottom of Porlock Hill

Note, the sign says that caravans are ‘advised’ to take the toll road.  Let me spell this out, in case you’re in any doubt, DO NOT TAKE YOUR CARAVAN OR YOUR MOTORHOME UP THIS HILL!!  I was going to say ‘especially if it’s been raining, or there’s dew or any sign of damp’ – however, this suggests that it’s okay for you to tackle the hill – which it’s not…. So I won’t say that!

The hill is 1in4 (or 25%) – think about that. That means that the road climbs 1 foot for every 4 feet travelled forward.  It also has tight bends and steep drop-offs (luckily I didn’t really see these).

As the road got steeper the front wheels starting losing traction briefly.  At this point I shut up, held tight, gritted my teeth and hoped for the best.  When we got to a sharp left hander about halfway up on the steepest part of the hill, we lost traction again, but this time we coudn’t regain it.

So, we’re stuck in the middle of the road, with the nose poking forward instead of around the bend – we’re going nowhere 😦

But, we had a little advantage in that it was Calv in charge.  We jumped out, unhooked the car, I jumped in and promptly reversed into the bank (not helpful really), Calv rolled down the hill and around me before he could regain traction on the other side of the road.  (If you watch videos of people tackling this corner you can see that they all take it on the other side of the road).

By the time I rounded the bend he was gone, once started he floored it and made it to the top where we pulled into the first available parking area to re-attach the car.

Then came the downhill section into Lynmouth where we stopped and unhooked the car again, as we realised we were going to have to go up again to get to our campsite.  This road up past Lynton to West Lyn was almost as steep – put it this way, in the little car I barely managed to get out of 1st gear – I tried a couple of times, only to have to quickly change back down.

Never have I been so relieved to arrive at a campsite – we certainly won’t be making that mistake again!

However, we’re going to pretend that we did it on purpose (and that we’re not actually idiots) so that we could tell other people about it 1st hand 🙂  (Are you buying that??!)

We’ve now researched the route for if you’re visiting this area, and would recommend the A361 to the A399.

Let me know if you’ve ever made the same mistake (it would be lovely to know that we’re not the only ones!)

Happy travelling everyone!

Related Posts:-

Our Campsite in Lynmouth – Lynmouth Holiday Retreat

Walks & Days out in North Devon

 

 

Around the UK: A Photo Diary #2 – East Anglia

I’ve decided now to just put some photos up!  Again they’re all from our 2017 trip and I’ve given links to relevant posts should you want any more detail of the areas shown.

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Maldon

Campsite – D’Arcy Equestrian

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Framlingham

 Dunwich (& Southwold)

Aldeburgh (& Thorpeness)

Orford

Campsite – Fishers Field

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Norwich 

Broads

Norfolk Broads

Campsite – Lower Wood Farm

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Langham

Cromer

Campsite – Woodlands, Sheringham

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Cambridge

Campsite – Highfield Touring Park

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Lavenham 

Campsite – Kings Forest Caravan Park, West Stow 

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Castle Rising

Holkham Bay

Sandringham

Campsites – Whitehall Farm, Burnham-Thorpe

Manor Park, Hunstanton

Other potential posts of interest:

Our time in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire

Around the UK: a Photo Diary #1 Kent, The Garden of England

 

We used the Rough Guide to Norfolk & Suffolk to help decide places to visit and walks to take.  Very useful as ever 🙂

My next gallery post will cover Lincolnshire, Rutland and Northamptonshire (for the British Grand Prix).

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy an item after clicking on one of these links we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you choose to buy anything it’s very much appreciated, thank you.

Around the UK: a Photo Diary #1 Kent, The Garden of England

A series of photos from our travels around the UK (not necessarily in the van…) I’ve tried to include lesser known spots – maybe give you some ideas of new places and attractions to visit?

The UK is not only our home, it’s also a very beautiful island with so many beauty spots, amazing beaches and interesting attractions in every nook and cranny of the country (in both rural and urban settings).

Here I’m collating some of my favourite photos from our travels around the country over the years.  I’ve tried to include slightly less well known places (although it’s impossible to not include some of the big hitters!), and tbf the majority of the photos are from our travels in 2017 – I think I’ll have to do a separate post for ‘all other photos’!

Maybe this could give you some ideas of places to visit or walks to take in the coming months of staycationing – some of the places I show may well be within striking distance for you to take a daytrip for your regular walk.

However you use this post I hope you enjoy the photos, and perhaps are able to find a new favourite place to visit 🙂

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We loved old Hastings.  Obviously much of what we experienced (such as the cliff trams and the fisherman’s museum) will not be open in the current environment.  However, you can still walk and see much of what we did.  The country park at the top of the cliff provides a delightful walk and is well worth the effort 🙂

See my original posts on the area for more detail (such as what the structures behind the boats are)

Hastings

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Battle Abbey is an English Heritage property whilst Bodiam Castle is National Trust – if you are taking a prolonged trip around the UK (when we are able to again) it’s worth joining both organisations;  It saved us a huge amount of money on our 2017 trip 🙂

For more detail see my original posts:

Battle

Bodiam

Steam Trains

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No photos of Dover Castle??!!  Well, when you can Dover Castle is an absolute MUST visit (English Heritage).  However, as promised, I’ve gone with a couple of lesser known sites.  The sound mirror is visible on a walk along the top of the cliffs – those steps leading towards it on the left-hand side of the photo?  They are really steep!  I was literally clambering up them (and was quite (okay, very) scared at times…)

Ringwauld was a little further around the coast – we spotted the church and turned around.  We had a little walk round and discovered a bit of history 🙂  We also followed a small sign (again, almost missed) near the castle to see the plaque dedicated to the first cross channel flight.  Again, easy access and a short walk is possible here.

More detail available in my original posts:

Dover

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The Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel le Ferne, nr Folkestone is a wonderful visit.  I think the memorial will be accessible even when the visitor centre isn’t (it’s certainly worth checking) and a short walk is possible here.  Wonderful views and plenty of history too 🙂

There is a long seafront promenade at Sandgate which takes you past a small castle.

More detail in my original Dover post

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Rye is a beautiful town and Dungeness is a very unusual English landscape.  Both are well worth a visit and lots of walking is possible.  Rye Harbour is a nature reserve with plenty of paths to walk or cycle with several points of interest along the way, such as the haunting Mary Stanford Lifeboat house.

We found the Brightling Follies walk in one of our walking books, ‘The AA 100 Walks in Southeast England‘ – again something you can follow during lockdown 🙂

More detail in my original post:

Review of Charming Rye, East Sussex

Dungeness

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Winchelsea is a tiny town with a massive history.  There is a clue is the size of the church, even without taking into account the ruins surrounding the current structure.  There are regular tours of the Winchelsea Cellars (not all 51, but apparently different ones feature in different tours).

We also took the opportunity to visit an English Vineyard; Carr Taylor was a few miles down the road from where we were staying.  Offering a tour of the vineyard (you can go anywhere!) for £2.50 (including wine tasting and information).  We could have paid a little more and enjoyed a ploughmans lunch as well – we didn’t go for this though as I don’t really enjoy that sort of lunch!  The tasting was very informative and really rather enjoyable (I wasn’t driving so was able to make the most of it!)  Our favourite was the sparkling rose which was the best I’ve ever had (proven by the fact that we went away having spent about £130 – I think I’m splashing out if I spend £5 on a bottle….)

More detail in my original posts:

Winchelsea

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Other visits included Scotney Castle & Sissingshurst – both National Trust properties.  Both were lovely but I think we both preferred Scotney Castle – there’s quite a story to be told here and the gardens are beautiful (as they are at Sissinghurst).

More detail in my original post:

Sissinghurst

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The Rough Guide to Kent, Sussex and Surrey detail the medieval churches of the Romney Marshes.  One cloudy afternoon we decided to try to visit the 5 they recommended.  (Our copy is from 2013 – there has been an update since with a new edition due out on 1st June.  We find these books invaluable when touring).

It appears that I didn’t write about this when we visited (I shall keep looking!)

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Another day we found Sandwich – a beautiful little town with plenty of history, a town trail to follow and, of course, a world-renowned golf course.  And also 3 sets of alms houses 🙂

There is a great deal of Roman history in Kent, including monuments and crosses by the side of the road and also the Richborough Roman Fort, run by English Heritage.

More detail in my original post:-

Sandwich

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On our 1st visit to Canterbury the price to visit the cathedral put us off, but we went anyway on our 2nd visit – and were glad we did 🙂

We stayed in Herne Bay and were able to cycle along the promenade to Whitstable.  Plenty of walking and cycling opportunities here.

More detail in my original post:

Canterbury Herne Bay/Whitstable

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In North Kent we visited Rochester, Chatham Docks, Whitstable and the Isle of Sheppey (we won’t go there again…) from our base in Herne Bay.

We absolutely loved Rochester – the only problem being that we didn’t put enough money in the parking meter and had to abandon our visit to the town museum about halfway through 😦  It was one of those really informative town museums that very few people think to visit.  The castle, cathedral (the UK’s 2nd oldest and one of the smallest) and the museum all absolutely worth visiting.

Chatham Docks – I missed out on the Call the Midwives tour (an extra cost but 1 that I was willing to pay!!)  The ticket is expensive but lasts a year (great if you live in the area – not so good if you don’t).

Below are some links to posts not mentioned above but that may cover more detail of this area.  Also a link to my campsite reviews for this area.

My next post will deal with photos from our time in East Anglia.

Keep safe and I really hope to start posting new content again soon 🙂

East Sussex, Kent & Surrey

Our 1st 3 months away in the UK in 2017

Back on the Road – 2017

Easter Weekend – 2017

Campsite reviews – East Sussex & Kent

 

 

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy an item after clicking on one of these links we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you choose to buy anything it’s very much appreciated, thank you.

My CoronaVirus Distancing in Numbers – Days 15 & 16

2nd Instalment of my own lockdown journal.
Are you on your own, even if only for part of the day, during this lockdown? How are you coping? Are you managing to fill your time?

A continuation of my lockdown ‘journal’…   Click here for the 1st instalment & 2nd instalment

A * denotes that there has been a change to the total number 🙂

Today is Friday (aka Day 17)

Date:

Friday 3rd April 2020

Current Day of Social Distancing (following government guidelines):

17, but I’m writing about 15 & 16 (as it’s still before 8am on Friday, day 17)

Days spent on my own while Calv works (as an HGV driver)

10

Les Mills workouts completed

7* (well 5 1/4 as Body Balance really isn’t my thing…)

  • 3 x sh’bam
  • 2* x Body Combat – the proper workout this time.  #69, 30 mins as advised by my younger sister during our video call this morning.  Loved it – seriously!  Even though I still don’t really know what’s going on that 30 mins just flew by (or maybe that’s because I don’t know what I’m doing!!)
  • 1* x step.  I have my own step at home, but always forget just how unco-ordinated I am!
  • 1/4 x body balance – I’ve given up trying… 😦

Bring Sally Up (Sally Squat’s)

7* – it’s starting to get easier now as I am far more used to it 🙂 (Progress!)

Planks

7* – I’m still managing to add 5 seconds each day (I’m now up to 50 seconds and , frankly, gobsmacked!!)

Runs

2* – I went back out yesterday (Thursday) and suffered no problems from my calves this time.  I managed to run a whole mile before stopping for a little rest, and then another 1/4 mile.  Tomorrow (Saturday – aka Day 18) I’ll try to go a full mile and a half before any rests (further if possible).  And it’s starting to warm up, which always helps 🙂

Walks

11*

Wednesday (day 15) saw a walk, the long way round, to the station and back home via Linden Lea.  I was hoping that this route would help to avoid the same sort of numbers of people I encountered whilst walking on Tuesday (day 14), and it did!

The main photo shows the footpath up to Portchester Common – I want to walk this but it’s too narrow to be able to practice social distancing properly 😦

I think that going a little earlier (about 1pm) helped as well.  The train station was devoid of life (although a train was due in), but I did see a bus with a passenger on it!

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I also saw dozens and dozens of window displays featuring rainbows – all clearly created by children (far better than anything I could ever produce!)  I even saw 1 made from lego 🙂  (See below for a tiny selection of those I saw on my travels today)

No walk on Thursday (day 16) as my outdoor exercise for the day was my run 🙂

Wii-Fit

3 –

Trips to the van ‘larder’

So far I have visited most days and had to procure the following:-  (a * denotes a change from my previous post)

  • 2 bottles squash
  • 2 packs of teabags – the small packs you get in big boxes
  • 1 box green teabags
  • 6* tins baked beans (Branston)
  • 3 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tins butter beans
  • 1 tin haricot beans
  • 1 jar of pesto
  • 1 jar of Ragu
  • 1 jar of jam
  • 1 packet of caster sugar (very important)
  • Garam Masala
  • Several bottles/cans of beer and cider
  • 1 bottle of wine
  • 1 jar of coffee
  • 1 box of pasta
  • 2 packs of Mexican style rice
  • 4* x toilet rolls

Also now:

  • 4 tins of tuna
  • Jar ground coriander
  • 1 tin of custard
  • Several stock pots
  • Crisps
  • 1 box jaffa cakes

Conversations on HouseParty/other video calls

6 so far on HouseParty / 10* on FB or WhatsApp / 1 Google hang-out with work colleagues

Ben had to call me from the shop about what butter to get as he was making cakes!

On our family FB messenger group we’ve taken to telling each other what we’ve had/are having for dinner – with photos if we remember.  I never remember – too busy eating!!

I also took my dad round a little easter egg this morning, as I’d had to go shopping.  So I took a picure so that everyone could see that he’s fine, and popped that on the group chat as well 🙂

Watching Homes under the Hammer

Having spotted the end of my obsession I’ve taken to putting it on again in the background!

Watching TV in general during the day

Mostly news updates.  Although I’m still looking for Neighbours…

I’ve still not found Neighbours, but will try again today.  Also, I’ve taken to turning the news off for the most part and trying to only watch it once a day.

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to think that the daily updates should only be conducted a couple of times each week, as nothing much changes in 24hrs, so they might have something different to say/report if it was every few days.

Is it just me? (I’m also getting pretty fed up with some of the ridiculous, point scoring questions being asked…)

Calv will definitely be home with me from Tuesday next week, so we’re going to get working on the last bit of the garden that needs doing, which is to level the lawn area up.  I don’t think I’m going to need my exercise videos next week (but will keep doing them anyway – if I’m capable…)

I’ve also order a number of perennials online (72 to be exact) which are due to be delivered by the end of April.  I wasn’t going to order anything online but seeing on the news how much will be destroyed changed my mind (and I want to try to get the garden looking nice)

I hope you’re all finding plenty to do to occupy your time.

Above all, stay home, stay safe and call someone if you’re struggling (that includes me if you know me xx)

Until the next time xx

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My CoronaVirus Distancing in Numbers – Days 13 & 14

2nd Instalment of my own lockdown journal.
Are you on your own, even if only for part of the day, during this lockdown? How are you coping? Are you managing to fill your time?

A continuation of my lockdown ‘journal’…   Click here for the 1st instalment

I did fairly well on Monday (Day 13) with staying off social media and games, although I lapsed a little towards the end of the day.  (I need to write the day every now and then as otherwise they all meld in together; in other words I don’t know what day it is!!)  Today is Wednesday (aka Day 15)

Date:

Wednesday 1st April 2020 (I’m not really expecting there to be many April Fools jokes today)

Current Day of Social Distancing (following government guidelines):

15, but I’m writing about 13 & 14 (as it’s still before 8am on Wednesday, day 15)

Days spent on my own while Calv works (as an HGV driver)

8

Les Mills workouts completed

5* (well 3 1/4 as Body Balance really isn’t my thing…)

  • 3* x sh’bam
  • 1 x Body Combat (the ‘how to’ – will do a proper workout next time)
  • 1/4 x body balance – I never could do it, but thought I’d have another go.  The one I chose involved pulling legs towards me by the ankle.  My right ankle (injured almost 5 weeks ago while playing netball) still isn’t ready for this.  So I gave up 😦

Bring Sally Up (Sally Squat’s)

5* – I still haven’t had to cheat again 🙂

Planks

5* – I’m managing to add 5 seconds each day (I’m now up to 40 seconds and VERY pleased with myself)

Run

1 – I haven’t plucked up the courage to try again after last time but have every intention of doing so tomorrow (I think it’s Thursday tomorrow)

Walks

9*

No walk on Saturday – that was the day we had our visit trip to the supermarket under these current conditions.  I was dreading it!  It was also my 1st time out in a car for over 2 weeks.

At Asda the queue snaked all the way across the front of the store and into the car park.  Everyone was standing patiently 2m apart, although we did see someone give up and go back to their car ( we did wonder if they were thinking it might be quieter later – I wouldn’t have thought so!)

We were let in 1 (or 1 couple) at a time as people finished their shopping and left.  Inside the store there were arrows on the floor to try to dictate the direction of flow.  People were clearly trying to follow these, but it’s not easy is it?  Most people were observing the 2m rule but, again, there were a couple who simply didn’t seem to understand it and would come barrelling towards you.

All in all though not a bad experience and we got everything we wanted/needed.

After dropping some bits off to my dad – he’s 85 and seems to be coping quite well with the lockdown (he has lots of books!)  He’s following all the advice to the extent that he refuses to go out into the back garden despite us all telling him that this is allowed!

Anyway, I digress.  On the way home as we pulled onto the Delme roundabout the van in front of us hit a swan, which came flying over the top of the van to land in front of us.  Of course we stopped and put the hazards on as did the car behind us.  After about 5 mins of being sheltered by us and the guy behind (and me trying to ring the RSPCA, who didn’t pick up) the swan seemed to get over it’s shock and stood up to waddle onto the centre of the roundabout – it knew exactly where to go to be safe.  Hopefully it was just shocked.

I eventually managed to persuade Calv to come out for a walk later on on Sunday, by which time there was a bracing wind.  We managed to avoid this on the way back up the hill by taking the bridleway up past the crematorium.

My walk on Monday (day 13) included stepping over the barrier in front of a footpath just before the road bridge over the motorway.  The foot traffic thinned out as I climbed higher towards my goal (I’d always wanted to take this path to see if it would take me directly to the footpath over the motorway – it didn’t).

I did see a little girl with her dad checking out the house (right beside the barrier) that recently had a car buried in it’s front room.  There is no reason for the barrier itself to be there – I wonder if it was just laziness or thoughtlessness that means it’s there?  Or does it have to extend a certain length either side of the bridge?  Who knows!

I found myself walking through local roads that I’d heard of but never walked through (they’re all within minutes of my house!)

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Barrier across the Footpath

Yesterday (day 14) I found that the bottom of my road was quite congested and much changing of direction and crossing of the road was required to negotiate my way safely home  🙂

Wii-Fit

3* – Yesterday, (day 14) I wasn’t really in the mood for a full on workout so decided on the WiiFit.

I was proud of myself for finishing off though with Sally Squats, some crunches (numbers upped on previous days) and the obligatory plank 🙂

Trips to the van ‘larder’

So far I have visited most days and had to procure the following:-  (a * denotes a change from my previous post)

  • 2* bottles squash
  • 2 packs of teabags – the small packs you get in big boxes
  • 1 box green teabags
  • 4 tins baked beans (Branston)
  • 3 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tins butter beans
  • 1 tin haricot beans
  • 1 jar of pesto
  • 1 jar of Ragu
  • 1 jar of jam
  • 1 packet of caster sugar (very important)
  • Garam Masala
  • Several bottles/cans of beer and cider
  • 1 bottle of wine
  • 1 jar of coffee
  • 1 box of pasta
  • 2 packs of Mexican style rice
  • 2 x toilet rolls

Also now:

  • 4 tins of tuna
  • Jar ground coriander
  • 1 tin of custard
  • Several stock pots
  • Crisps
  • 1 box jaffa cakes

Conversations on HouseParty/other video calls

6 so far on HouseParty / 7/8 on FB or WhatsApp / 1 Google hang-out with work colleagues

I’m still finding that I’m talking to people much more.  I’m still not very good at phone calls though!

Watching Homes under the Hammer

I watched most of this on Monday (day 12 🙂

Watching TV in general during the day

SHOCKER – neither Neighbours of Emmerdale were on yesterday (day 13)!!

I’m still not struggling with abiding by the social distancing, but it’s only been a couple of weeks – let’s see what I’m saying this time next week (especially as it looks as though Calv is likely to be at home with me by then!!)

I hope you’re all coping as well and finding plenty to do to occupy your time.

Above all, stay home, stay safe and call someone if you’re struggling (that includes me if you know me xx)

Until the next time xx

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My CoronaVirus Distancing in Numbers

Are you on your own, even if only for part of the day, during this lockdown? How are you coping? Are you managing to fill your time?

Rather than write a full-on journal of my time during this period I thought I’d go for more of a Bridget Jones style tome (having finally watched Bridget Jones’ Baby last night – loved it 🙂 )

Also today I am trying to stay off of Social Media and also the games that I play on my phone (WordBlitz, Sudoku, ConnectOne).  Wish me luck!!

Date:

Monday 30th March 2020

Current Day of Social Distancing (following government guidelines):

12 (18 if you count the time we spent in France), but let’s stick with 12 – which is since we got home

Days spent on my own while Calv works (as an HGV driver)

6

Les Mills workouts completed

4 (well 3 1/4 as Body Balance really isn’t my thing…)

  • 2 x sh’bam
  • 1 x Body Combat (the ‘how to’ – will do a proper workout next time)
  • 1/4 x body balance – I never could do it, but thought I’d have another go.  The one I chose involved pulling legs towards me by the ankle.  My right ankle (injured almost 5 weeks ago while playing netball) still isn’t ready for this.  So I gave up 😦

Bring Sally Up (Sally Squat’s)

4 – only had to cheat the 1st time, but boy does this hurt!

Planks

3 – I’m trying to add 5 seconds each day (I’m now up to 30 seconds and, whilst you may not be impressed by this, I am!)

Run

1 – well sort of.  I put on my ankle support and had a go.  I managed 1/2 mile before my calves called a halt.  I kept having to stop to stretch.  So my run stayed as more of the walk it was originally intended to be.  I’ll have another go tomorrow.

Walks

6.

The 1st couple of days that we were back were spent sorting out the van, so I was backwards and forwards, up and down the steps and stairs.  It should count as a long walk really!  Saturday we had to brave the supermarket and I haven’t been out yet today (that’s an afternoon pleasure)

If I do need anything (that I can’t get from the van, like bread or milk) I’m trying to shop local and incorporating this into my daily walk.

Everybody that I’ve come across has been very good with the social distancing, although it still feels wierd to cross the road when you come across someone else walking…

I’ve also found it quite sad to see funeral directors waiting outside the crematorium, with no family members in attendance.

In the shops social distancing is being observed (although there’s always the odd 1 person who doesn’t seem to understand what’s going on 😦 )

Wii-Fit

2

I know this is no longer fashionable.  In fact I’ve heard people saying things like ‘Who even has a WiiFit anymore?’  Well, me.  I do.  And I still like it 🙂

On the WiiFit + I can do a ‘step’ class to get my steps up for the day (as I’m still participating in FitBit challenges).  I can also do the fun stuff that keeps me sane.  Perhaps I’ll put the Active on at some point for a proper workout.

Trips to the van ‘larder’

As many of you know we are currently supposed to be touring around Europe – right now we should be somewhere in Italy heading for Rome.

My point being the van was well stocked up with essentials that we have had trouble getting in Europe previously (beans, tea-bags, salad cream etc.)

As we are hoping (there always has to be hope even if it’s rather forlorn) to maybe get away for a month or 6 weeks of this trip (we were not aiming to be home until mid August) we have left all non-essential food in the van for the time being.  When I need something I visit the van-larder.

So far I have visited most days and had to procure the following:-

  • 1 bottle squash
  • 2 packs of teabags – the small packs you get in big boxes
  • 1 box green teabags
  • 4 tins baked beans (Branston)
  • 3 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tins butter beans
  • 1 tin haricot beans
  • 1 jar of pesto
  • 1 jar of Ragu
  • 1 jar of jam
  • 1 packet of caster sugar (very important)
  • Garam Masala
  • Several bottles/cans of beer and cider
  • 1 bottle of wine
  • 1 jar of coffee
  • 1 box of pasta
  • 2 packs of Mexican style rice
  • 2 x toilet rolls

In addition to food I’ve had to retrieve 1 x ankle support, 2 x VGA to HDMI cables (so that I can see my Les Mills workouts on the TV), my gym mat & kettle bell and my running belt and headphones.

At this rate I’m going to have to fully stock the van again when we can eventually go away!

Conversations on HouseParty/other video calls

3 so far on HouseParty / 5 or 6 on FB or WhatsApp

I am finding that I’m talking to people much more.  I’m not very good at phone calls but have been making the effort to keep in touch far more then usual

Watching Homes under the Hammer

Very little.  Which may surprise people who know me as I have, in the past, been obsessed with this programme!

However, I have other things to do!  Such as exercise, making dinner (tonight I’m making a Chicken Dopiaza from the Pinch of Nom cookbook), washing, ironing, reading, updating my coronavirus tracker (yes, I’m doing that – it keeps me sane!)

Watching TV in general during the day

Surprisingly little.  I watch Neighbours daily (yes, something else I still do!!), although quite often I don’t get to watch it until about 6pm!

So, so far, I’m not struggling to abide by the guidelines (rules), although I have to admit I did have a bit of a wobble on day 1 of these being more official (last Tuesday).  More of the fact that you simply have no choice in whether you interact with people.

But I got over it fairly quickly and am now finding that I still don’t have enough time in the day to do everything that I’d like to!

I really hope that others in my situation (I’m on my own throughout the day, normally until about 6pm give or take) are coping well and continue to do so.

Above all, stay home, stay safe and call someone if you’re struggling (that includes me if you know me xx)

Until the next time xx

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European Tour cut short by Coronavirus Crisis

Did you start a European holiday only for it to be cut short? Here I talk about our recent experience of exactly this. Here’s hoping everything will be able to go back to normal soon and we can all start visiting each other again xx

When I wrote my last post we were newly in France with the 1st set of closures put in place (i.e. non-essential shops and business closed), but with the local elections set to go ahead the following day.  We felt fairly confident that our plan of making it to a site in the South of France and sitting out any further measures, should they occur, was still achievable…

Obviously this isn’t what happened!  However, it was a couple of days before this became clear – and it was rather sudden!

So I thought I’d give you a whistle-stop summary of our whole trip in just the 1 post!  So here goes…

Days 1 & 2:  Friday 13th & Saturday 14th March 2020 (perhaps there was a clue here?)

We arrived in Dieppe aboard a pretty empty ferry after a slightly bumpy crossing, and shared the Aire with a number of other vans (mostly French), before taking a walk around Dieppe (already socially distancing ourselves) and then spending a 2nd night in the same Aire.  (I wrote a post covering this already – click on the link above)

Day 3: Sunday 15th March 2020

We made the decision to use proper sites rather than free aires ‘just in case’, thinking that we would be able to stop on a site once we were there, and also to go further than we had originally planned.  So I looked through the trusty ACSI book and found a site in Sully sur Loire, about 100 miles south of Paris, Camping le Jardin de Sully  (You’ll be able to see my review here when I’ve written it!)

For us this was a long journey being 200 miles as we normally aim for under 100 miles.  Little did we know at this point that we would be driving almost 900 miles in total in the next 5 days before we made it home…

The campsite was lovely, and pretty empty, although there was another English couple in their caravan who were heading home via the tunnel because they had medical appointments and wanted to ensure they got home for them.

The French were out and about in droves taking walks along the river, and even in the evening the youngsters were congregating in their cars in car parks as they couldn’t go to cafes and bars.  We know this as we went out for a walk in the evening once, or so we thought, everyone else had gone home!  We were able to avoid these groups and walked for a few miles, crossing the bridge and finding the chateau (and the town Aire) and several closed bars and restaurants.  It looks like a lovely little town and we have no doubt that we will one day return to explore the area by cycle (the cycle path system is very good)

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Day 4: Monday 16th March 2020

We had been thinking of staying here for a 2nd night, but in the end decided to crack on further South.  On checking out I told the lady what we were hoping to do – in hindsight it would have been nice if she’d mentioned that President Macron was due to address the nation that evening with an important announcement.  But she didn’t, and we had contacted 2 campsites that both said they were fully open… So we headed off further South.

225 miles further south to be precise to Vielle Brioude, south of Clermont Ferrand and Issoire.  We chose to take the toll motorway this time, as we were going so far.  Then I forgot to press the button when paying to explain that we were a camping car (the rate will be changed if you do this).   In my defence I was intent on seeing if my Halifax Clarity card would work this time (as it didn’t the previous day when we used a short section of toll, and I’d had to use my debit card); and I just completely forgot…  It probably cost us about 15Euros, maybe 20…   I won’t forget again!

Just before our destination we stopped at an Intermarch to get some essentials, and top up with fuel.  The supermarket was very busy with several items unobtainable, but we managed to get everything that we needed, and set off again to find the campsite.

A couple of wrong turns and slightly unsuitable roads later we found it, Camping de la Bageasse, which looked much nicer in the photos than in reality!!

We were the only unit there (although there were a couple of chalets in use), and once we’d chosen our spot and found electricity that worked (by now our fridge had stopped working on gas), we settled down for the evening.

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In the evening the lady from reception came to see us to explain that the campsite was possibly to close in the morning after the president’s address.  Instead of waiting we spent the evening trying to book a ferry home.  We had problems with booking the DFDS ferry from Dieppe, and thought that we’d managed it, only for the site to crash on us again.  So we booked a ferry into Portsmouth on Brittany (at an extra £100).  In the morning though I had an e-mail from DFDS confirming our booking!

Thankfully Brittany Ferries were brilliant and cancelled our booking with an immediate full refund.  The receptionist also confirmed that the site was indeed closing and anybody on it being asked to leave.

Day 5: Tuesday 17th March 2020 (midday lockdown)

Approximately 425 miles to go, but 2 days to do this (our ferry was Thursday at 05.30am – changed from 6.30pm Wednesday foc by DFDS Ferries).

We chose to avoid the toll motorway this time as we had a bit of time.  But it did seem to take forever; so we ended up doing the last 30 miles or so on the toll; I remember to press the button this time and saved 9 Euros.  We were stopped once, just after midday, at a routine checkpoint on a roundabout – a show of our ferry booking and my ‘nous allons au bateau pour aller chez nous’ did the trick, and we were soon on our way with a smile and a ‘bonne route’.

We were then held up driving through a small town where we had to pull into a car park.  There were 2 other British vans in there with us.  A French lady also pulled up and started talking to me – I did pretty well, in that we sort of understood each other and she told me what had happened (sadly a little boy had run out into the road and been knocked over), but she just kept moving closer and closer to me!  In the end I had to run into the van saying my tea was getting cold!  (nb: I don’t understand why the police in France need to carry massive guns when attending a traffic incident in a small rural town though..)

I’d found a likely overnight stop in Mery sur Cher, west of Vierzon, and we were so happy when we made it there.  Absolutely perfect spot behind the village car park, but with a toilet, electricity, security lights and little individual pitches as well as the normal amenities.  The barrier had been removed meaning it was all free as well (although we would happily have paid).  I hadn’t been so happy in days!

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Day 6: Wednesday 18th March

The traffic increased as we made our way further north, although eerily quiet as we drove through Orleans.  Driving past Chartres I was, again, amazed at the size of the cathedral – you can see it from miles away and I must see it in reality 1 day!

From Rouen the traffic really picked up, and once in Dieppe we managed to get a little lost as we had never approached from this direction before 😦  This time we were 1 of only 3 vans in the Aire – we think most people turned up late and waited in line at the port.

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Day 7: Thursday 19th March 2020

An early start (4.15am) to catch the 5.30am ferry.  We were pretty much at the back of the queue (see main photo – which doesn’t really show just how many motorhomes there were).

An uneventful journey home.  2 members of staff were operating the coffee machine for everybody as you got on (free), but there was no food being served.

All in all we were pretty happy to get home, although obviously absolutely gutted that all we had achieved in our week away was 2 fairly long walks and over 900 miles driving…

If things improve in the next couple of months however we will head off again, even if it’s only for a few weeks.

Stay safe everyone – and remember, this too shall pass and normal life will resume.  Maybe at that point we’ll all be a little more grateful for our normal freedoms 🙂