Winchester Hat Fair

Friday 5th July 2019

We picked this C&MH Rally because of its location – less than a mile from Winchester town centre. We had intended to arrive mid-afternoon but were delayed by a last minute Hospital appointment in Chippenham.

We didn’t encounter any holdups on our journey and arrived at the Rugby Club field at 7.30pm. Nigel had phoned earlier to check this would be OK.

We were welcomed by Audrey who showed us to our pitch marker and checked we were happy. After getting setup Nigel went to the Rally Marshall’s caravan to do the financial bit and get our Rally pack while I prepared our meal. Included were the usual tourist info, the itinerary and a quiz sheet.

After eating we went for our traditional exploratory trundle of the local area – found the path to the town centre –

path riv

and, of course, we ended up at the Rugby Clubhouse, just for a quick one you understand. We met a few of our fellow campers there so had a bit of a chat.

Now you may remember me saying that my brother Roy was thinking about getting a motorhome well he is now the proud owner of a 2010 Elddis Autoquest 130. I mention this because since buying it we have been getting the odd phone call asking questions about issues he’s had – my favourite being his first – while in a car park on Paignton seafront he enquired why his electric kettle wouldn’t boil. Everything else was fine, lights, fridge – he’d even checked all the fuses and trips. I did laugh – I don’t remember us ever being that naive, but maybe we were in other ways.

Saturday 6th July 2019

After a leisurely breakfast and the usual chores we set forth on our planned trundle into the town centre. I had made up a packed lunch as it’s so difficult to stay on SW plan when out, with all the street food available at events like the Hat Fair.

It was a lovely sunny warm day and we enjoyed making our way, along with a lot of other people, into town.

We found among the old streets many acts doing their thing – musicians, dancers, mime artists even small groups performing comic skits, all vying for the change in the pockets of the watching crowds to be put in their hats (hence the name).

As usual we couldn’t see too much as being low on our scooters, and apparently invisible, even if we found a good vantage point it was not long before a group of people would stand in front of us.

Anyway we found other things to see – the Abbey Gardens then around by the Cathedral

past Cheyney Court

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through Kingsgate

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past Winchester College and into the park by the old town wall

wall 1

and weirs on the River Itchen.

We couldn’t visit Wolvesey Castle as a play was being performed in it at the time – we had to come back later – which we did.

A lovely English Heritage maintained ruin, worth seeing.

We had our picnic lunch in the shade of an old oak tree looking over the well-kept gardens by the weir, very peaceful, apart from all the people passing by looking at us and I’m sure envying us for thinking ahead and not relying on very overpriced food from the many stalls around.

After our extravagance of a traditional Italian ice-cream handcrafted into a cone like a soft one from a machine – great to see that skill demonstrated – we made our way slowly back to Voyager.

We stopped briefly to watch a few balls of two separate cricket matches being played on the pitches adjacent to the Rugby club but the call to siesta was too strong to stay for long.

Meal, a bit of TV and bed rounded off a very good day.

Sunday 7th July 2019

It was a bit cloudy first thing but things started to brighten up after breakfast as I looked from my dinette seat at some hunky shirtless Rugby players having a training session just over the field. Forty years ago I may well have been offering to give them a rub down afterwards. Ah, fantasy.

Unusually Flag was at 11.00 where all the usual thanks were expressed. Unusual because the rally didn’t end until the Monday but several campers had to leave today to get home for work. I remember those days. The results of the quiz surprised us – as we’d won – but only a small tin of biscuits.

Another packed lunch made while Nigel did the outside chores then we are off again. Today it’s a trundle to Hockley Viaduct – another of those lovely old railway lines changed into a cycleway which we love.

First back into town where we found the start of the Viaduct Way just down the road from Wolvesey Castle. It is about 2.5 miles long, mostly flat with some great views

and lovely flowers along it.

The viaduct itself is pretty impressive as well.


viad 3

After taking many photos we returned to town using St Cross road for a chance to see the old Hospital (now care home) as well as old cottages.

stcrs hosp

Through Kingsgate from the other side.

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We had our lunch at the gardens again

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Roman wl

(and another Italian ice-cream) before heading back to Voyager.

I was seduced by the aroma of a German sausage and couldn’t resist so Nigel & I shared a hot dog – shouldn’t have but it doesn’t hurt sometimes to be a bit naughty.

We didn’t have an evening meal (because of the sausage) as we both felt full.

Lovely sunset over the Rugby field

So a quiet evening both of us, I suspect, thinking of things to come in the next couple of weeks – Nigel being positive and me feeling a bit low – thinking the worst.

Monday 8th July 2019

A leisurely breakfast then the chores and pack up. We left about 11.00 and were home for lunch, and so the washing begins.

On the mat was a new Hospital appointment. They are not hanging about.

SOC Lacock

Wednesday 26th June 2019

Today we are going to our first Rally with the Swift Owners Club. It’s not far from home at Lacock – chosen because visiting Lacock with Voyager and Betty is not easy and we wanted to have a good look at the Abbey and gardens. That and we wanted to check out what the SOC was like – we could always run home if we didn’t like the way they did things.

David had phoned Nigel earlier in the morning to let us know about a road closure near the site – that was a good sign we felt.

When we arrived at the Rally field of Kilima Farm we were greeted by David and directed to our pitch – well pitch marker where we set up. Even in a field you have to stick to the 6m rule.

Everybody seems very friendly and as its one of the smaller clubs we have joined we hope it lives up to its blurb.

Our Rally pack was delivered to us (in exchange for the fees) – now that’s a first, normally we have to go to the Reception table/van. Included in the pack were local attraction leaflets with maps (all available in Tourist Information places) as well as our Rally plaque, which was nice. The best bit about it was the cost – we have never stayed anywhere for four nights for £28 before. Admittedly there was a £2.50 social fee and £5 Rally fee (refunded for first rally) on top of that but even so it was great value. It also contained a sheet with Names, Reg Numbers and home town on it –very useful for folks like us that forget names after a few seconds.

Had a lovely time chatting with a few other members – who we were either introduced to or introduced themselves to us. The weather got warmer during the afternoon but turned chilly again by tea time – at least there was no rain though.

In the evening (about 7pm) we all met up in the gazebos (3 fixed together) for coffee and more chatting, after a brief intro by David.

We got back to Voyager about 9.30 and relaxed with a bit of TV – we have found about 3 hours of TV is fine when we are off-grid and at this time of the year on a good day the leisure batteries are back to 100% by lunchtime.

Thursday 27th June 2019

The weather was gorgeous today if a little windy (but at least it’s a warm wind). So after breakfast and the daily chores we set off for Lacock village.

Hill view
View from the lane to Lacock

It’s only a couple of miles – down a steep hill on the way there (and up again on the way back). Luckily on the way we only met one van on the narrow lane and there was a good verge for us to get on while he passed.

We had a good wander around the village had a small tub of ice cream made by the Lacock Dairy (Nigel’s treat while getting a couple of post cards in the village shop) which was remarkably good (and the only vendor we have found with a good tangy Lemon Sorbet).

We met a couple of people from the rally who admired our setup (Bluetooth headsets etc) – they were surprised we had trundled down the main road – we are a bit blazay about that now.

Onward stopping briefly for a jar of local homemade chutney at the wall before checking out the Church and the Ford. The tythe barn wasn’t open today but we have seen it before so that was fine.

Vllg wall shpVllg ch 1Vllg ch in 1Vllg frd 2

We eat our packed lunch in the Recreation ground behind the pub – with a few others doing the same before venturing on to the Abbey.

As I am a National Trust member we got in free (did buy a few things from the shop though) and had a really good look around both the Abbey and the grounds taking loads of pictures.

Abby 3

The 2G’s tackled the hill well on the way back (which was a relief!) although we did take a few minutes rest half way up to snap St Anne’s Church

but we got back to Voyager in good time.

Tonight the social event was described in the itinerary as a Communal BBQ – now as we don’t do BBQ we were just going to skip it but we got it wrong. It turned out that everyone takes a table and chairs – puts them in a long line and eats food they have prepared by a method of their choice in a banquet fashion. Unfortunately we had prepared and were eating our chicken rice dish by the time we were told this.

Just to be sociable we did the table and chair bit, I had a yogurt and Nigel started a bottle of wine.

BBQ tab

This while folks around us ate their food and chatted – we’ll know next time and get it right. We did skip the coffee in the gazebo later – by which time the bottle of wine had evaporated (Nigel regretted it in the morning though).

Friday 28th June 2019

As yesterday was busy we thought a short trundle was in order today. First though Nigel decided to erect our new Quest Pop Up Gazebo.

It went up remarkably well (after I had reminded him which bit to pull on first) and was secured with a lot of tent pegs as there was still a bit of a breeze blowing.

We decided that we will buy a ground sheet and a couple of side sheets to cover the fly screens as they let a lot of the wind through. It does provide shade well though.

After lunch we went for a tour of Sandy Lane (only about a mile away). It’s a quaint village with many old houses and thatched cottages – from a bygone age.

The road through it was very busy though but there is a good pavement for most of it – just crossing it was a bit hairy. Its claim to fame is the only wooden thatched Church in England.

The small Church of St Mary & Nicholas is very pretty. It was paid for by monies collected from locals – and still in use for services, baptisms and weddings. We had a good look around and took more photos.

trund 1

Back at Voyager we relaxed for a while, had our meal and then joined the others in the Gazebos to celebrate Val & John’s 35th wedding anniversary with a glass of punch. This was followed by a quiz that proved very entertaining – not that we do very well with quizzes.

A little TV and another restful night.

Saturday 29th June 2019

Today was warm (hottest this year so far apparently) – long may it last.

We had a really lovely chill out day – it is nice not to have to rush at anything – the sun is hot, 28deg or more. So we sat in the shade of the Gazebo for part of the day and then a nice cooling breeze developed so after our Tapas lunch we moved the chairs into the open, reclined them and had a snooze – happy days.

There was a cream tea social later which we skipped as we really shouldn’t be eating scones with jam and cream – I must have put on a couple of pounds at least already.

We did attend the celebration for Pat & Pete’s 250th Rally – with cheese and wine, not that we ate or drank much. We did have a good go at the quiz and managed to get a few right, but not enough to win.

Another very nice evening.

Sunday 30th June 2019

Home today but first there’s flag – and the drawing of the raffle. We had bought four strips of tickets and there were a lot of prizes so we were hopeful of winning something – but our usual luck prevailed and all the big, good ones disappeared as we waited. We did win something in the end – a Chinese embroidered glasses case – very, um, nice.

The clouds had returned although it didn’t rain so our journey home was short and uneventful.

More washing.



Tuesday 18th June 2019

Now wouldn’t you just believe it – I had been looking forward to spending time with the family since we arranged this little holiday way back. It eventually got here and the rain came too – typical!

So today was an enforced chill day – well a bored chill day – I couldn’t raise any enthusiasm at all – in fact if Nigel hadn’t done the cooking we probably wouldn’t have eaten.

Wednesday 19th June 2019

The weather was not the best this morning but nowhere near as bad as yesterday. They forecast an improving outlook so with fingers crossed (and emergency ponchos in our backpacks) we set off. We met my brother Roy, his girls Michelle & Sophie with her boys Jake & Harry at the Butlin’s main gate.


They are staying in a private holiday caravan on the edge of the site but we still have to pay Butlin’s guest day rate to visit them – so we can go on all the free rides if we like. Like that was going to happen.

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We did enjoy watching (and filming) all of them having fun on the Go Carts (which they had to pay extra for)

cart win

before we trundled through the park

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to their very nice van. Had a coffee and a good catch up chat.


We then took them to explore Minehead town – well the seafront bit anyway

– nipped into the indoor market for some tourist tat – as you do – and then on to ‘The Hairy Dog’ pub for which we had seen a big billboard advert. We checked the facilities and had a couple of drinks as we planned our next days itinerary.

As the afternoon progressed on toward the evening we parted company – the young ones returning to their caravan and us to Voyager to relax (via the Fish & Chip shop – so I have now sated my desire with a well-cooked cod and chips – not SW friendly).

It was a very good day but the energy of young people had worn us both out.

Thursday 20th June 2019

We woke late. I’m glad we had arranged to meet the others later in the day giving them time to enjoy the attractions of Butlin’s while we enjoyed a day in the slow lane.

The weather was going to brighten up today according to Nigel (ever the optimist) so after all the usual chores were sorted we set off for a more in depth explore of the town and harbour.


The clouds cleared as we trundled through the housing estate route we elected to follow with only the occasional dark one passing quickly over. We found the tide was out – seems to be out all day this visit – but the harbour afforded some good views of the area as well as hinting at the history of the place.

Then on through the very well-kept Blenheim Gardens

to explore the town – some old architecture and interesting statues as well.


We returned to Voyager for a rather large Tapas style lunch followed by a siesta before getting the call from Roy about 3.00 – we were to meet the gang at The Hairy Dog at 5.00.

Another of Roy’s offspring had joined them for the day – Daniel with his wife Angela and their children. The kids were all enjoying the adventure playground at the rear of the pub. They didn’t have anything like that in my youth.

The adults sitting and enjoying a drink and chat on one of the tables.

We had a few drinks and a great time – getting back to Voyager about 10.30 – late for us these days.

Had a very peaceful night and slept well.

Friday 21st June 2019

The last day of this break so we get all packed up again and set off for our drive home.

Of course the weather is wonderful – warm, full sun with not a cloud in the sky.

It always leaves me a little sad having to say goodbye to the family – we see them so rarely these days – but Roy is talking about getting a Motorhome so hopefully that will change.

Brassknocker Basin

Friday 14th June 2019

We were in two minds about actually going to the Caravan and Motorhome (Wiltshire Centre) Rally this weekend. The rain overnight had worried us a bit – parking our five tonne unit on a soggy field has that effect.

We had chosen this Rally for its location near Bath and because there is easy access to a Canal towpath as well as a cycleway, but as it’s not far from home we decided to check it out beforehand. A quick visit in the car and a walk around the field may appear to be over the top but after our experience in Bakewell we felt it was the right thing to do.

We agreed to risk it so after a quick lunch we set forth in Voyager. When we arrived at the site we found a nice gathering of both Caravans and Motorhomes all nicely pitched up. The marshal’s gave us several options for where to pitch up. We chose one near the hardcore path at the side of the field – just in case there was more rain to come.

brasskn 2

We got set up then after doing the financial stuff had a bit of a trundle around the field finding the water and Elsan points then checked the route to the canal tow path. All the people we met were very friendly and welcoming so we had great hopes for a good weekend.

brasskn 3

One told us that there would be a steam train passing on the line next to the Rally field on Sunday morning. We do love steam trains. Only diesels today though.

brasskn 1

Saturday 15th June 2019

We met a nice couple last evening and joined them at the social Brunch at 11.00. Four gazebos had been setup together to give some shelter but the rain held off – in fact there were a few lengthy sunny periods. We had a lovely time chatting and laughing and the food was OK as well (only SW stuff for us though).

After getting things together we went for a trundle – our first thought was to explore the Two Tunnels Greenway (NCN244) but we encountered a path which was too narrow for us on NCN24. A shame but maybe next time we will find a way around it (a later explore of Google maps suggested there might be a detour available) but for today we opted to head to the Canal and explore the tow path toward Bath.

We explored the Dundas Aqueduct and watched a group of novice boaters dressed as pirates make a spectacularly inept attempt to steer around the corner. Good job narrowboats are resilient and not easily dented.

Dundas aq 2

Dundas aq 4

We crossed over a couple of bridges

canal 5

and carried on the path for a couple of miles,

enjoying the sun as we passed many moored boats. Some were well maintained but quite a few looked more like storage areas for assorted collectables (junk).

We saw a sign for Claverton Pumping Station saying it was open today – so detoured and spent a good hour getting a tour of it.

Pumphs 1

We had a lovely man tell us how it worked along with all the technical stuff about it – most went over my head but it was very impressive watching the water powered wheel moving the big beam pump. I must say that those engineers in the early 1800’s got in early with the environmentally friendly design – using the power of the river Avon to pump water from it up nearly 50ft to the Kennet and Avon Canal. Using no fuel and making no waste.

Later, after returning to Voyager and having some food we had another social event in the gazebos – a quiz night with Bingo. It turned out to be lovely – games and more chatting along with a little drink (bring your own) and cheese toasties as well – this is more like what we are looking for in a Rally.

Back to Voyager about 10.00 (just as the rain started hammering down).

Sunday 16th June 2019

Well the steam train did pass by this morning but I missed it. I didn’t get a lot of sleep mostly because starting about 1AM a team of rail workers were doing their night shift track maintenance on the bit next to our field – banging, shouting and laughing all illuminated by floodlights went on until 5.30. Nigel (who could sleep on a washing line) tossed and turned a bit but mostly slept through it.

Today is the last of the Rally so we attended the final meeting (called Flag) – the Chairman thanked the Marshals and we were welcomed (officially) and announcements about upcoming events etc. Then it was back to Voyager, get all packed up and set forth to our overnight stop.

A layby on the way for our lunch then on to Cheddar Mendip Heights C&CC site.

So electric hook up to fully recharge the 2G’s and a disabled shower facility as well.


Monday 17th June 2019

Moving on today – but first a good shower and clean of the van. Then we are off. A stop on route at Morrisons Bridgewater to top up the fridge and pantry.

A layby on the A39 was our chosen venue for a little tapas. It was lovely to sit in the warm and eat lunch.

We arrived at the Minehead Caravan & Motorhome Club site about three. It is slightly unusual with no one way system. Nigel managed to overshoot our turning and had to reverse about 50 yards on the narrow road (he is getting better at it though). When we eventually found our pitch we did the basics (positioning Betty and levelling Voyager). While Nigel did the outside stuff I tried to get a little snooze – should have known better really – the doors opening and closing as Nigel fitted the silver screen etc. and then he thought he would get his book for a quiet read. Trouble was when he opened the cupboard it was in other things fell out – onto my head.

So we went into town – finding a route on Google maps – before getting the call from my Brother saying the family had arrived at Butlins. We planned to meet them there later, but didn’t realise that visitors can only get in between 10am & 6pm and as it was 5.30 we decided it was best that they meet us at the gate and we had a short catch up and stroll on the prom.

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We agreed to make a day of it tomorrow and after a bit of a chin wag we headed back to Voyager.

I made a lovely dinner of fillet steak, homemade chips (SW way) with mushrooms – I’ve mastered the cooking in the limited kitchen a little too well as I’m not getting taken out enough now.