Firstly I must apologize for my delayed posting of this update Blog – as you read on you will understand why.
Friday 6th December 2019
After our usual preparations we set off for our first Christmas Rally. We decided that we would leave Betty behind this time and take Dobby instead.
Nigel drove ahead in Voyager while I followed behind in our little WAV (wheelchair accessible vehicle) – we used our Bluetooth communicators during the 20 mile journey which worked well as we were rarely more than a few car lengths apart.
Now you may ask why not take the trailer – well the highlight of the rally was a visit to the Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum which is a few miles from the rally field location in Didmartin village. The distance would not have been a problem for the 2G’s but the lack of pavement would mean driving on the road in the dark and cold – not ideal at all.
We arrived at the Village Hall about 3.30 and were pitched up in the car park area (caravans were on the adjacent playing field). We were surprised at the number who were attending – a total of 32 units. After getting setup (levelled, silver screen on and everything put in its place inside) Nigel went to the Marshall’s van to pay the dues and get our envelope. Our quiz this time was to decode 20 or so Christmas Carol anagrams – very appropriate.
After our meal and a first crack at the quiz (not as easy as we had thought) we set off to the hall for our social – nothing exceptional but I do like to have a good chinwag with people.
We chatted to some new faces as well as some we have met before. There are of course still some cliques that are not as receptive but I guess that’s just usual in a big crowd.
Back to our cosy van for a good night’s sleep.
Saturday 7th December 2019
We are off to Chipping Sodbury this morning to check out the Victorian Market. It does mean Nigel had to do a bit of walking but his knees can cope pretty well on the flat – enough for our exploration. We arrived just after opening at midday and spent the best part of a couple of hours having a good look around.
We bought a couple of large sausages from one of the street vendors which we took back to Voyager and enjoyed with a few baked beans for our late lunch.
A bit of a siesta after that before we got back in Dobby to go to Westonbirt. It didn’t take long and the que for the disabled car park was minimal so we were there in plenty of time for our 5.20 ticketed start.
Enough time to explore the craft tents and other attractions before setting off on the Enchanted Christmas trail.
A nice hot chocolate drink (with all the trimmings) before we set off – just to keep out the cold.
The trail itself was very good but we were a little disappointed that even with timed entry there were so many people entering at the same time that we were mostly surrounded as we walked. It makes seeing anything a bit tricky from my seated position on my Little Rascal scooter.
We did enjoy it though and managed to get a few nice pics to remind us of our visit.
At the end of our walk we decided to share a foot long hot dog between us – very nice it was to – before returning to Voyager and then back to the hall for our second evening chatting and drinking.
Unexpectedly they also laid on a pigs in blanket ‘hot dog’ super which we partook of – I don’t think we will be having any more sausages for a while though.
Sunday 8th December 2019
Flag at 11.00 along with the raffle and Christmas card hand out (our first Xmas rally so hadn’t thought to bring any – but received eleven from other folks) along with a couple of chocolate oranges.
Then it just remained to get everything packed away and our return journey home.
Between the end of this rally and Christmas I suffered with an infection in my neck that meant a week of anti-biotics followed by a visit, on Christmas Eve, to Bath RUH Hospital when that didn’t completely solve the problem. I was suffering with increasing pain not directly in the area that had been radiated but more muscular pain between my shoulder blades. The doctor I saw recommended pain killers and suggested a glass or two of medicinal sherry to help relax my muscles.
Christmas itself was quiet and more enjoyable than I had expected – maybe due to the sherry!
Then it was time to get ready for the next rally – I had been looking forward to it since we first booked it back in September.
Sunday 29th December 2019
After a sedate morning packing up we were on our way to Clarendon Junior School in Tidworth – a journey of just over forty miles and which took us about an hour. Again we took Dobby instead of Betty because our research had shown nothing of great interest close by but a couple of places to visit about ten miles away.
We were greeted by the cheerful and very friendly Marshalls – probably because we arrived in a short break between showers. We were happy that after all the rain of the previous couple of weeks that we were pitched with the other motorhomes on the tarmac of the kids playground. The caravans were on the playing field on the other side of the school buildings.
After the usual setting up was done we relaxed for a while until it was time to get ready for our evening social.
Now this rally was different to any other we had attended – not only were we staying for double the number of nights but it would be catered as well – obviously it cost more as well and we had brought some food in case we didn’t like something – but it did make a change not having to think of food preparation.
At 6.00 pm we made our way to the School hall which we found decorated with fairy lights and seasonal displays on the tables. We picked our table and took our seats as our fellow campers all started to arrive. We were joined by Mark and Sue who we met on our first rally with this group back in June, Geoff and Linda from the Halloween rally at Corsham as well as others we had not met before. Music was playing from the sound system in the corner – and after folks had imbibed a little of their bring your own tipples some even braved a bit of a dance.
Jacket potatoes with a selection of fillings were served – I had the cheese and onion while Nigel tried the Chilli – both were excellent.
The highlight of the evening was a good rousing performance by ‘David Essex’ – well a tribute artist who was once a finalist on TV’s ‘Stars in their Eyes’ program.
It was a very good evening (if a lot louder than we are comfortable with) – even Nigel and I managed a bit of a smooch to a couple of the slow songs.
Monday 30th December 2019
As we had the day to ourselves we decided to visit Stonehenge. It is somewhere we have wanted to go to since they completed the new Visitors Centre back in 2013 – but you know how it is – the most local attractions get left as you plan visits and explore those further away.
I was a little perturbed as we drove through small villages on the way there as Nigel seemed to be ignoring all the signs to Stonehenge heading instead a totally different way. He had already told me he had grown up in the area so I bowed to his local knowledge. Grateful in fact as a travel report on local radio told us of 15-20 minute delays on the A303 near Stonehenge. His route through the Army town of Larkhill had no delays – in fact we were only slowed so he could show me the house he grew up in as a young boy.
So when we arrived at the Centre we were disappointed to see a que for the car park, loads of coaches and masses of people. Luckily there were a few Disabled spaces left so we were OK in that respect but as we got closer to the entrance the length of the snake of people queuing for tickets was prohibitively long.
We decided to skirt around that and had a look around the free to enter displays at the rear of building where we had a chat to one of the volunteers. She told us that even though we are members of both the Nation Trust and English Heritage we still needed to get tickets (at no cost) for audit and Health & Safety reasons. We decided not to bother queuing but did nip into the shop for a fridge magnet and postcard. A proper visit would have to be scheduled for a time when less tourists where visiting – if we can find one.
We retraced our route to Larkhill and used the back road to Woodhenge – a less impressive smaller ancient circle – where the original wooden poles have been replaced by concrete bollards. It was worth a quick look but wasn’t really accessible on my wheelchair so just a view through the car window.
Nigel regaled me with further stories of his childhood as we made our way back to Voyager via Tesco’s for a top up of wine and goodies.
I’ve drunk more in the last few days than for a long time (doctor’s orders) and decided that any weight I gain during this break can be shed again next year.
There was another social event in the hall this evening but before it a Ploughman’s supper. Unfortunately not in the hall as that was already booked for a ‘Slimming World’ meeting – so we all squeezed into a pretty small classroom with child size chairs and tables where we ‘made the most of it’ – food was good though.
After ‘Fat Club’ had finished we adjourned back to the hall for a quiz and silly games – it was fun to watch people making an arse of themselves. Didn’t do at all well in the quiz though.
Tuesday 31st December 2019 (New Year’s Eve)
A bit of a lie in followed by chores – Nigel did the outside stuff – filling water, emptying grey waste and the toilet cassette. I did the inside stuff washing up breakfast dishes and tidying up.
Then Nigel took our plates, cutlery and wine glasses to the hall in preparation for the first social event of the day – a three course lunch with wine – that beats a bring your own BBQ for sure.
After getting dressed up (smart but not OTT) we joined everyone else queuing at the school door waiting to be let in – many comments made about how long it had been since we last queued for ‘school diners’.
The organisers of the lunch excelled themselves – everyone was impressed with the quality and speed of the serving of the meal as well as the availability of wine. I had enough on my plate to feed a small army – and all well cooked and delicious.
Well stuffed we returned to Voyager for a bit of a siesta before preparing for the main event – what I had been really looking forward to – the Masquerade Ball. I haven’t had a chance to get dressed up for ages so had gone a bit mad – buying a ball gown and even a fancy mask.
Again we were impressed with the effort everyone made to dress for the occasion. All the ladies dresses were beautiful with many of the men in evening suits or tuxedo’s. We were greeted with a glass of Prosecco and the five piece covers band ‘Duke Box’ were soon setup and ready to get the party swinging.
They played a wide spread of tunes but were a bit young and loud for us – they went down a storm though.
There was what was described as a finger buffet between the bands sets with enough food to feed double those present so we again felt a bit stuffed.
We spent most of the evening watching and waiting for a slow song we could have a little smooch to – it didn’t come so in the end we just got up and had a slow smooch to a fast 80’s number that the fitter ones around us were having a good jig to.
Much tooting of horns, popping of party poppers and a good round of ‘Old Lang Syne’ as the new decade arrived. The younger ones had a bit of a conga about while we had a bit more of a smoochy cuddle in the corner.
This was the best New Year we have had in a long time – in fact last year we only just managed to stay awake to see the fireworks on the TV.
Wednesday 1st January 2020
A good lie in followed by a lazy day – just the usual chores, then reading and relaxing, bit of Kindle game play etc.
Flag was at 1.00pm where we won a few odd things in the Raffle (Nigel did get some cans of lager so he was happy).
We skipped the family film at 2.30 in favour of a relaxing siesta in Voyager.
In the evening the final social in the school hall – a bit of music and more silly games for us to laugh at. An odd theme of ‘Wedding Day number one’s’ showed that most people weren’t aware of what theirs was – mind you we don’t know ours.
Neither of us were drinking tonight – you can’t be too careful when driving the next day can you? – So we left early and watched an hour of TV before bed. The only TV for this trip!
Thursday 2nd January 2020
The end of our New Year rally and we have really enjoyed it. Hopefully we will have a few more good rallies in the coming year.
The rest of January has been never ending medical appointments both at our local surgery as well as Chippenham and Bath Hospitals.
Nigel is now waiting for an MRI scan which appears to be delayed by a new scanner being fitted at Bath.
I have had a PET scan and seen my Oncology Consultant – the results weren’t conclusive (which is worrying) but we are ever hopeful. I will be having an Ultrasound scan in February for further checks.
I have seen a Physiotherapist about my neck pain and we have ordered a soft neck support that may help.
The pain killers I am taking (Co-Codamol and OraMorph) are keeping me mostly comfortable though I’m sleepy most of the time – but I’m still here so for that I’m grateful.
Oh and we have booked a few days away at Easter on the Weymouth CMH rally with Roy so we have something to look forward to as well.