You have to start Somewhere

I now travel without Betty the trailer on the back of Voyager so no more trundling on Gordon the mobility scooter. My knees haven’t got any better but I decided I would try an e-bike for local transport instead.

Voyager doesn’t have a garage, in fact her only external locker (apart from the toilet cassette) contains my gas bottles, so I have removed one of the double seats of the dinette and made an internal ‘garage’ for my new folding transport.

I planned my journey – that’s just the way I am –Google Maps is my friend, he helps me check my routes and destinations, so when I left home on my first real Road Trip since lockdown I was happy I had everything covered.

However, I had forgotten the first rule of travel. Plan for the unexpected.

Wednesday 9th September 2020

The postcode of the first ‘Remarkable Village Cricket Ground’ entered in the Sat Nav and I’m on my way. The journey was fine, I had been passed the Ullenwood ground (pg 208) many times but I had to take a snap to cross it off the list. It is right next to the entrance to Crickley Hill Country Park where I knew they had a Coach Park. I would be able to park Voyager there and walk the short way to get my photo. Trouble was, as there are currently no Coach trips due to the pandemic this parking area was blocked off. Best I could do was turn around in the small Car Parking area and beat a hasty retreat. I couldn’t even pull off the road and take a snap out the window. Oh well, I’ll leave it on the list for another day.

Thankfully the other three grounds I had planned for the day were no problem. I stopped for a sandwich after doing Stanway (pg196)

and Stanton(pg194)

and then on to the third Elmley Castle (pg82). This one was down a narrow lane but I managed to park for a few minutes and get a snap.

Then on to my first campsite for the night. Hyde Farm near Pershore Worcestershire is a Certified Site that cost me £14 for the night (no electric). Their Toilet & Shower facilities where available but I prefer to use my own so only made use of fresh water & Elsan point.

It had turned into a warm late afternoon, so I had a bit of a relax with a cuppa enjoying the last rays before cooking Mary’s go to meal for day one of Road Trips – Sweet Chilli Prawns with rice (lovely). Then the washing up followed by some creative photography of the pretty weak sunset.

Thursday 10th September 2020

After a leisurely morning, apart from the chores of course, I set forth for the only ground on my plan for today. Just over 35 miles but some roadworks (aren’t there always some roadworks) meant it took nearly 90 minutes to get there.

Stoneleigh Abbey (pg200) is a wonderful backdrop for a game of cricket.

Originally a monastery, then a large Country House it is now owned by a trust and has been converted to flats.

I had a good explore of the gardens before enjoying a quiet lunch in Voyager.

Then a 20 mile drive to my CCC (Camping & Caravanning Club) CL site for the night.

Westmead Farm, Withybrook near Coventry has set aside a small field with water & Elsan points. Very basic but for £10 it had all I needed. I was the only camper there so only birds and the odd tractor passing kept me company.

Friday 11th September 2020

Westmead Farm – A sunrise for a change

Busy morning – breakfast, washing up, shower then fill the fresh water tank, empty the grey and toilet cassette – all by 10 oclock.

Today I had booked my first timed visit to a National Trust property – Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire for 12.30. Sat Nav said I would arrive at 11.45 after my 70 mile journey. I was a bit worried when I met the infamous roadworks but only 35 minutes delay so no problem.

I wanted to see the cricket ground featured on page 60 of the book. I saw it on the left as I got closer to the car park. Bike or walk I asked myself. I opted to walk – I will get the bike out soon but there were a lot of people visiting. In fact the car park was pretty much full – I used the Coach Parking area (they weren’t accepting Coach’s anyway).

It was only a couple of hundred metres to the ground and I’m still nervous about riding my bike. I have done it at home in the village but I’m not completely comfortable on it yet (don’t want to fall off in front of loads of people – vanity I suppose).

To fill you in I was a proficient cyclist in my early teenage  years (cycled to/from school 3 miles, all weathers for several years) but from age 17 I moved on to cars and haven’t got back  on a bike until now – at age 65.

Anyway the cricket ground was well maintained – the heavy roller was preparing the wicket for an upcoming match, so I got a few snaps before returning to Voyager.

I did divert via the NT shop (usual stuff) and other buildings, chapel, garden and views first.

A sandwich for lunch.

I got my Instagram, Facebook and Polar Steps posts ready but had to wait until I left the area and was nearly at the exit before getting a phone signal to actually upload them. Something to bear in mind if you visit.

Onward the 50 odd miles to Roy’s (Mary’s brother) place for the weekend. He had told me that motorhomes could park in the car park at the end of his road. He’d seen some there the previous weekend. I found it after a short visit to Tesco for essentials.

Car Park with a view
Voyager all secure for the night

Saturday 12th September 2020

After overnighting in the car park (I did check the sign which said it was free 6pm to 8am) I went to buy a ticket for a few hours just after 8 o’clock. It was at this point I read all of the small print – Parking for Cars, Vans and Motorhomes – Tick. But – ‘Any person sleeping, camping or cooking shall be liable to prosecution’! Oh well – at least I didn’t get caught!

Must remember to read all of the small print next time.

I walked up to Roy’s flat – he gave me a guided tour. He’s only been here a few weeks but looks pretty much settled in. We had a good chat and planned a visit to his eldest daughter Michelle at her place a few miles away. I had looked up a couple of likely CL campsites for the rest of the weekend and made several unsuccessful attempts to book one. Decided to try again later.

I followed Roy to Michelle’s where I met her partner Antony. We had coffee, some chat and I passed on Mary’s bequest. Antony very kindly made a couple of phone calls and found me a campsite not far away.

Then it was off to Boston Town centre. Roy needed to do some Bank stuff and Michelle wanted to hand in her CV for a retail position.

Sophie (Roy’s other daughter) had to work but we met up with Darren (her partner) and her boys Jacob and Harry.

Had a bit of a mooch around the market and centre in general – pretty much like any town centre these days although St Bololph’s Church is quite impressive.

Impessive Church behind the market stalls

Michelle and Antony kindly gave me a memorial Angel for Mary that I will add to those already in the arbour at home.

Then back to Michelle’s where I said my goodbyes and moved on towards my campsite for the next couple of nights. I was pointing the wrong way on the road so Sat Nav made me do a quick tour on a square of estate roads – during which I did pass a cricket ground with a game being played. Had to stop for a photo.

A match being played!

Walnut Lake Park is an adult only site and pretty cheap for a site these days at £18 per night including electric.

Sunday 13th September 2020

We had arranged to all meet up in the afternoon so before that I had time for the chores. Gave the bathroom and kitchen a good seeing to and dusted and Dysoned the rest of Voyager. It doesn’t take long when I’ve got my cleaning head on (as Mary used to say).

My low tech approach to blog writing – previous evening

Also managed to catch up with my Blog draft and plans for the next cricket grounds to visit. There are three in Norfolk.

At about 3.30 two car loads and a scooter turned up with all the family. Roy, Michelle and Antony, Sophie, Darren and the boys – and a big surprise to me one of Roy’s sons Russell with his new girlfriend Anna. All I can say is it’s a good job we did it today as the Covid rules are changing tomorrow when this wouldn’t be allowed.

I passed on Mary’s bequest to Sophie & the boys – that’s pretty much them all done now.

As the campsite was only allowing a maximum of two visitors I jumped in Roy’s car and we all moved to The Ship Inn at Fosdyke for a social in their beer garden.

Family
Russell Anna and moi

A good chinwag, with many photos taken and much laughter. It made a change to be able to imbibe a little alcohol as I’m not driving until tomorrow.

They delivered me back to Voyager, we said our goodbyes and they were on their way. I cooked, washed up, watched some YouTube and retired early – it had been a good weekend.

To be Continued – I think thats long enough for now.

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