NFOL Weekend

Wednesday 22nd August 2018

We are off on our travels again today but first it was a visit to Boots the Optician for an eye test. That took longer than we had thought so we were somewhat later setting off than we had planned.

We have booked four nights at the National Feast of Lanterns – a Camping and Caravanning Club annual event this year being held in Cheshire.

It is a bit of a long journey for one day and because we can we decided to spend a night on a small campsite about half way. One that has no facilities except water and a chemical toilet disposal point. Dayhouse Farm & Fishery site turned out to be a field. It was all we needed though so we picked a side that was pretty flat and settled in for the night. We got out the 2G’s and went for a bit of an explore – thought we might be able to find someone to pay – no one about anywhere but some lovely views though.

Dayhouse view


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Back at Voyager (who is now sporting some new decals)

I set about making our meal of meatballs with SW friendly tomato sauce – while doing this a neighbouring camper came over for a chat – told me about his day. I think I have one of those faces that people want to confide in as within a few seconds he was telling me that his sister had just died – she was only 67.

A few minutes later the farmer arrived in his 4X4 and Nigel handed over the £7 fee for the night.

After tea we just watched TV and played on our computers – it got very dark tonight (no site lights at all) it was just a shame that the clouds prevented seeing any stars.

Thursday 23rd August 2018

We left Dayhouse just after ten finding little traffic on the few miles back to the M5 but more on the motorway itself. There were no bad delays it was just slow in places where roadworks had 50 or for one section 30 mph restrictions. Apparently the upgrading to a ‘Smart Motorway’ is a long winded process as one yellow sign suggested there would be delays until autumn 2023.

We arrived at the NFOL site about noon and were directed across one field to another labelled ‘Hyperspace’ and on to our pitch.


NFOL plan a
Pitched on Hyperspace – marked by the V

It was on a bit of a slope which meant that even with a couple of extra blocks we couldn’t quite get level. We accepted it as ‘good enough’ though and made a mental note to add a few more blocks for future use.

After a bit of lunch we headed off to the Admin tent to register and collect our goody bag – which was mostly adverts but did have the program of events for the weekend. Then back to Voyager to shelter from the first of many showers.

Later, when the showers had passed, we had a trundle around more of the site – finding where to dump rubbish & the CDP for the loo. They weren’t very well marked but we found them.

Back again to Voyager for our meal of Sweet chilli prawns – didn’t get anything out of the freezer again!

Later we trundled off again – In the main area there was a large marquee well set out with chairs in front of a large stage upon which there would be several live acts during our stay. One side was set aside with no chairs – we parked ourselves in there and watched the comedienne and a solo singer for a while. After a few minutes they took a break – so we checked out the other marquee. This one was smaller – one end had a bar – the middle had benches with seats along – the other end had a small slightly raised stage area. When we arrived a brass band was just starting up. There appeared to be an entrance by the stage but Security informed us that this was an exit only – we watched through the opening until our view was blocked by people standing in front of us. The bar area was packed with others, queing for the bar or just standing and drinking – we couldn’t get in. So we moved on – had a look around the food area (burger vans of different varieties) and then on through the trade area – most of which was shut.

We decided to call it a night – but on the way back to Voyager we tried the last marquee – away from the rest and described as the ‘Quiet Bar’. It was too about a dozen people and a small bar

– we had a couple of drinks but it started to get colder and Voyager is warm.

There has been quite a bit of rain in the last few days and I’m worried about getting stuck in the field.

Friday 24th August 2018

Another day of mostly showers a little bit of sunshine – basically a washout.

Nigel did put out the awning and fit our new fairy lights (part of the ‘lanterns’ thing is to decorate the vans – so everyone was doing the same) but even with the guy ropes tying it down the wind was still getting under it and making it flap.

We became increasingly concerned that it would tear and that would be expensive to put right – so in a dry spell it was wound back in and the fairy lights wrapped around Betty instead.

We did go out in the early evening for a look around but nothing much was happening so we just came back and continued to laze around.

Saturday 25th August 2018

We had decided that if the weather was as forecast we would get out and explore beyond the camp site – so after breakfast and the usual chores we set forth to Arley Hall and Gardens – there was a brief shower on route but we sheltered under a big oak tree until it passed.

Arley clk twr

The entrance is through the small gift shop – but the doorway was too narrow for our scooters. Nigel walked in and chatted with the staff. They were very helpful as they said they could let us in another way and provided a map of the gardens – and they do not charge mobility scooter users so that saved us straight away. The house itself was not open today – but we could only access a small part of it anyway so we wouldn’t have bothered even if it was.

We had a look at around the house (took a few pics)

before heading into the gardens just as the sky was turning blue and the sun making an appearance.

They were lovely – the late summer flowers still going strong – wonderful colours in the long borders.

Arley Gdn lng brdr

Quiet hidden places for a tête-à-tête and even an 18th century tea cottage were all explored. There were a few steps here and there but not enough to spoil the couple of hours we spent.

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It was cooler under the trees of the wooded area but there were a number of sculptures hidden around corners to keep your interest.


We even had a look inside the Chapel which had some beautiful stained glass windows.


All in all well worth a visit.


Back at Voyager we had a warming lunch of soup with ham sandwich for dunking.

We went up to the Arena to see the Sci-Fi themed Mardi Gras parade – but as usual we couldn’t see much as it was four deep all around the barriers. So we just had a quick look around and then back to Voyager.

The forecast for tomorrow was for a lot of heavy rain – so we have decided not to stay – the further risk of getting stuck in a muddy field and the fact that we have both been disappointed in the lack of thought with regard to disabled people’s needs.

So we packed the lights away and prepped for the off.

After our meal of Turkey steaks we went to see the Lantern parade – but it looked like they started early and we missed all but the very end. We did have a look around the themed decorated units about the site though – a lot of effort by some folks I must admit.

I bought a balloon with pretty lights on it – which complimented the whirling LED lights we mounted on the front of the 2G’s

Mary lights

– some seemed to like our efforts as they were taking photos of us. We had a trundle around the marquees – the bar was as full as ever and there was no other entertainment scheduled for the evening so we made our way back to Voyager and watched TV until bedtime.

Sunday 26th August 2018

As predicted the rain arrived in the early hours and got progressively heavier so a quick breakfast – then finish the packing away inside while Nigel got Betty positioned for a quick hook-up and un-levelled us.

The field proved hard enough on the unused parts but the main tracks were getting very soft and muddy even at just after ten when we left – so glad we decided not to stay the extra night.

First stop was a visit to the Anderton Boat Lift about 5 miles from the site but nearer 10 as we have to take roads wide enough for us.

We found a large car park and very easy to park as it was almost empty. Even though the rain was still hammering down we decided to get the 2G’s out and give our wet weather gear the first real test. So as well as my coat I put on the cape which covers the scooter tiller to keep the electrics dry.

Nigel got out the scooters covering them with emergency poncho’s until we were ready to go. Everything seemed to work well so we set off to the visitors centre – well laid out on two floors – the top one has the café and gift shop and is where you pay your entrance fee – then a lift to the ground floor which has a large and detailed exhibition about the lift. Our scooters were too big for the lift though but we were directed to the staff entrance outside which one of the staff unlocked for us. It’s really nice when that little extra effort is made to accommodate our needs – so even though the rain continued to poor down we went down to the viewing area and watched the Boat Lift doing its thing – amazing bit of engineering and lovely that it has been restored.

Boat lift

Nigel went into the exhibition area while I sheltered out of the rain – decided I would get more from reading the guide book later. So back up to the gift shop for postcards, fridge magnet and said guide book.

By the time we had got everything packed away and changed into dry cloths (wet gear only protects the top half – both our jeans got a good soaking around the knees) it was gone noon.

We thought about having an early lunch but as it’s a long journey home opted instead to stop at the first sevices on the M5 so as to break up the driving.

The traffic southbound was pretty good – glad we weren’t going north as we passed many long stationary ques as we sped happily onward. Even so it was gone five before we eventually got home.

Well that’s another trip done – plans are being talked about though – North Wales for a while in mid-September and then France for a few weeks when the weather gets colder sometime in October probably.

Long term plan is for a couple of months in Spain and Portugal but that’s for January, February time 2019.


Sunday 5th August 2018

Today we are off to Oxford – Nigel was up early getting things ready – he made a video of him cleaning the windscreen using time lapse on the GoPro. He had done that and was in the process of editing it before I even woke up as I had another bad night.

We arrived at the campsite a little after one o‘clock as we had stopped for lunch in a lay bye as usual. We were offered the choice of a few pitches and chose 29 as it was mid-way between the Reception and the Facilities block.

voyager pitched

The site isn’t large but it is well situated and there were lots of Motorhomes, Caravans and tents making the most of this glorious weather. Mostly English but a few Dutch and Germans as well.

It didn’t take us long to get pitched (we mostly have it down to a fine art now) so out came the 2G’s and we were off to explore. We found the Cycle Route sign post just outside the entrance and so headed toward the Town Centre.

We didn’t intend to go far – just enough to get our bearings really. Found Hinksey Park after a few hundred yards which was very nice –

Lakelake mary

it had a large lake which looked very peaceful – except for the group of youngsters playing in it (all good fun though). There was also an outdoor swimming pool and water play area for the younger ones – I might have been tempted but you can have too much of a good thing and I wanted to remember the times I had swimming with the family recently as special so we just looked at the families enjoying themselves.

So onward on the National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 5 – and just around the corner near another entrance to the same park was a red ice cream van. Well we had to try one (vanilla whippy tub) and very nice it was to.

Then on further across a ramped bridge over the River Thames

Thames town

through a housing estate and we found ourselves at the Westgate Shopping Mall (good time to visit as it was just after 4pm on a Sunday). A little bit of window shopping and checking out a bit of the art work and history of the place by way of notices about the walls.

westgt art

The recently built Mall was built on the original site of a Franciscan Abbey where the well-known? Philosopher Roger Bacon did a lot of his experiments and planned a scheme to drain Oxford. Its surprising what we learn in the back streets of a town.

We didn’t go further but made our way back to Voyager because as usual we hadn’t got anything out of the freezer – but just for a change (because it was so warm) we had a prawn salad for our meal. Eaten al fresco in the evening sunshine with a cool glass of spritzer for me and a lager for Nigel. We sat outside until the sun went down chatting about what we wanted to see tomorrow and generally putting the world to rights.

voyager sunset

Monday 6th August 2018

Another bright sunny warm day and we are off to explore Oxford and to see some of the things we missed the last time we were here but of course chores to be done before we go and breakfast to be had.

Took the NCN trail to town again and did the tourist thing – photo taking, buying a postcard and fridge magnet (avoiding being ripped off by the souvenir shopkeeper – insisting on only paying the displayed price) well at £1 for a postcard we were being ripped off anyway.

Oxford is on the world tourist map so there were coach loads of American Spanish and Japanese tourists but even more Chinese all chatting and standing about blocking the pavements with many guided tours in many different languages.

We made slow progress but did get through them and having decided to go to Christchurch Meadow for our lunch we made our way there. Getting in proved harder than we thought – a kissing gate by the Botanical Garden entrance – a steep step at the gate in Merton Street. Finally we asked a porter at the Cathedral who directed us to the main gate in St Aldate’s . We trundled passed the Medieval Dining Hall with its long line of tourists queuing to take a look at it and on

medw selfie

to a shady part near the river where we sat for our picnic while watching people punting, paddling and rowing along.

The most funny was the guy who got his pole stuck on a tree branch and had to paddle back to get it – I have to admit I fell about laughing but I did clap when he eventually retrieved it (he bowed).

We had another trundle around the town,

sighs selfie

found the Castle (and Prison) but thought we would leave the exploring of that for another day so we worked our way back retracing our route on the cycle way. Checked out a fig tree (some overhanging the pavement but not ripe yet) and a mellor as well – (very unusual) while we progressed back to Voyager.


We decided on chicken salad for our meal (way too hot to cook much) – al fresco again and another evening sitting outside until late – isn’t it nice to be able to do this in good old England.

Tuesday 7th August 2018

Another beautiful day and both of us up with the lark. Had a big fry up today (SW style of course) because I think it may be a heavy day.

First a quick trip to ‘Go Outdoors’ which is only 50yards from Reception – we needed a bucket and  a collapsible bowl. Then we are off down the Thames Path to Iffley Lock – a lovely trip and the lock was smashing – a stone bridge that didn’t want to go anywhere,

iffley brg

old lock keepers cottage with well tended flower garden.

iffley lock

Getting over the lock gates was ‘interesting’ – the lock keeper fitted the necessary ramps for us –

iff lk ramp

getting on was fine but because of the angles getting off on the other side we really needed a ramp 2 inches wider. We managed it – just sort of slid down the ramp – we are used to taking the odd risk but almost scared the lock keeper to death bless her.

Anyway on we went through Iffley village

iffley vill

to Doddington and then back onto the Thames path to Oxford town – a lovely route with lots of activity on the river with Kayaks, skulls, row boats and one of those enormous  trip boats (again lots of Chinese faces).

thames cruiser

We progressed through the main tourist routes

observ area

and on to Jerrico (as featured in many an Inspector Morse episode). Had a good look at the eateries in Little Clarendon Street – Italian, French and Spanish almost next door to each other as well as more English Cafes make for somewhere for everyone.

I had hoped that we would be able to get to see the canal which is on the edge of Jerico but alas it all appeared to be blocked off – shame as we had thought it would be a good place to have our picnic lunch. Oh well we settled for our second choice by returning to the Castle court yard in town and spent a lovely hour there eating and drinking my special ‘lemonade’.


Suitably refreshed we set forth toward TOAD. That’s ‘The Oxford Artisan Distillery’ where we spent half an hour sampling a couple of their Gins (Nigel enjoys – I don’t – bad experience),

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buying a bottle of Ashmolean which is best enjoyed with a slice Jara Lemon (from Bangladeshi shops apparently). Also a couple of TOAD shot classes.

They do tours of the distillery but we were a bit late for that so just had a quick peep at the stills and a good chat with the workers about the place and the setup.

toad still

We set off back to Voyager through South Park (large open park on a hill with trees and open areas) then onward through the town. We had gotten to the High St when Grace started to feel lumpy – looked down and the nearside rear tyre was flat – what do you do when you get a puncture on a mobility scooter.

To start with we swapped scooters and Nigel walked beside Grace – the idea being to find a garage or tyre place – maybe it just needed a bit of air we thought.

After a couple of hundred yards Nigel’s knees were starting to give out so he decided to try riding side saddle – keeping as much weight as possible on the good tyre. This seemed to work and so we made good progress along Abingdon Rd – we knew we had to stop at Tesco and get a few things – and just before we got to the shop we saw a National Tyres place on the right. They pumped some air in and we set off – flat again within a minute or so.

We did the shopping and then continued with the side saddle procedure until we got back to Voyager.

Then it was out with the tools and Nigel removed the wheel,

punct 1

got a bowl of water and did the old look for bubbles thing – there were loads. So the wheel was dismantled the inner tube removed and the bubble test done again.

punct 2

A pin prick size hole was the source.

Quick trip to Go Outdoors for a puncture repair kit – they were out of stock. Nigel thought he would check at Reception (thinking they may know where else he could try) and they had a kit – lucky or what?

The instructions where in Polish? but Nigel remembered how it used to be done in the old days (he reckons it was probably 50 years since he last fixed one) so went with that and had it patched, tested and reassembled in half an hour or so.

punt fx

Another chicken salad tonight and again we sat out until it got dark and a bit chilly before turning in.

Wednesday 8th August 2018

After a good night’s sleep I had a shower using the site facilities. No disabled wet room on this site so had to manage on my own while Nigel waited outside. Had to have a couple of sprays to help but managed it OK. Nigel used the van shower – he’s got it off to a fine art quick spray then soap then rinse off – I doubt if the water is running for more than 45 seconds in total.

A quiet morning with me doing my cross stitch while Nigel did the van clean – whizzing round with the Flash and the Dyson. Looks great – sparkling.

We are eating lunch out today so I don’t need to make a picnic.  After yesterday we had narrowed the choice down to Italian, French or Spanish. We set off taking a jumper each in case it gets colder (not as warm at all today) and made good time to the food area (not as many tourists today).

I didn’t really fancy the Italian (too much pasta) and the French Restaurant seemed to be more heavy meals so Spanish it would be.

Al-Andalus Tapas Bar had only a couple of steps and loads of tables so in we went.

tap br 1

We had the lunch time Tapas special (2 dishes each with bread).

tap br 2

The only real disappointment was the Croquettes – said to be chicken and ham but hardly any taste at all. The others were fine and we did enjoy Dates wrapped with bacon and filled with blue cheese – something I would not have even considered a few years ago but now my palette has changed (and my experience) and I’ll try more exotic things.

After lunch we thought we would just go back to Voyager – we had seen all we wanted for this visit and it was definitely getting cooler with the clouds filling in. Had to have one last ice cream a flavoured one (scoop type) – I had Hazelnut Nigel Tiramisu – asked for large tubs – that’s about 5 good scoops (a lot) not cheap at £9 the pair but value for money (remember to ask for small tub next time).

As we neared the site we started to feel a few spits of rain – so we put the scooters in Betty straight away and Nigel sat under the awning doing a bit of blog work while I had a little siesta – this holiday lark sure can take it out of you.

The threatening rain came about half an hour later – heavens opened for about five minutes then it petered out – few more odd spits but the tarmac was starting to look dry before we had our ham, egg and chips meal (salads are off until it warms up again).

The first evening we have spent inside this trip. Bit of TV – and Nigel is still typing – only with 2 fingers though.

Thursday 9th August 2018

Time to go home – so while I slave over making breakfast and getting everything inside stowed away Nigel does all the outside stuff and finishes off the Blog.