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CamperJam 2012 – Weston Park

CamperJam is one of our favourite VW events of the year (see CamperJam 2011 for last years event) and 2012 was no exception despite the appalling weather trying hard to spoil everything.

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Tallulah at CamperJam 2012

We arrived at Weston Park slightly later than planned due to the intense rain and some flood related diversions, and the first task was so find our club camping area. That was reasonably straight forward, but our second task was to get to it without getting bogged down and stuck in the rapidly widening muddy patches.

Unfortunately we failed, but not before we got close enough to our fellow Brazilian VW Bay campers for a helpful push with only minor mud splattering and no damage. Others were not so lucky and there were several tractors being kept busy pulling out stranded campers for most of the evening.

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Mud!

We had friends staying so our awning needed to be put up between rain showers and all that was left after that was to have a few drinks and turn in for the night.

Saturday was much brighter and mostly dry, but most of the camping fields, the show arena and trade areas were already mud baths so the only thing to do was to pull on our Wellington boots and join the fun!

One of the entertainment marquees sprung a leak over the stage, so the Saturday evening entertainment was less than expected, but the Brazilian VW Bay team were fully prepared with the setup used at The Kombi Sleepover a few weeks before and the choons played out from our own event shelter into the small hours while flavoured vodkas were passed around.

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The Brazi Bunch in Fancy Dress

Sunday morning brought the best weather of the weekend, just in time for everyone to pack up, but at least some of the boggiest routes began to dry out and made the exodus much less hassle. That said, everyone watched the first few campers leave with interest, trying too spot potential ‘sticky’ points and the tractors remained busy throughout the day.

In all, CamperJam was a very damp and muddy affair, but it takes a lot to dampen the spirits of die hard VW fans and most people still had fun.

We ave already booked our tickets for CamperJam 2013 – can’t wait!

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Brazilian VW Bay Club Camping

PS: many thanks to the event paramedics an who looked after our son in his hour of need.
PPS: thanks also to the Brazi Bay Crew for the use of images.

VanFest, 3 Counties Showground

VanFest (www.vanfest.org) is the largest VW transporter show in the world, attracting many thousands of vehicles, fans and enthusiasts and is held at the Three Counties Showground near Malvern.

We had booked tickets a while ago and were camping on the Brazilian VW Bay club pitch with a few other Brazi Bay owners as well as Serena’s dad and brother on their non-VW motorhome.

We left Reading as planned at 4.30pm Friday heading for Cheltenham to collect the in-laws, then on to Malvern. We made good time, arrived on site and were pitched by 7.30. No awning to worry about this time, we were ‘wild camping’ with nothing but Tallulah and a pitch and had packed accordingly leaving all our electrical accessories at home – not even a phone charger!

How happy were we when my brother-in-law announced he had borrowed a generator and asked if we wanted to hook-up! Still, at least we could keep our beer cold.

Just a spot of food, a few drinks and a short exploratory wander on the Friday night. Diva Fever, Right Said Fred and Bucks Fizz were all performing in the main marquee but we decided just to listen from a distance.

Saturday morning saw us checking out some of the trade stalls as there were a few things we wanted to look at, back to the pitch for lunch then off again to look at some more – there were plenty to look at!

After a great meal cooked in our van – thinking about entering ‘cooking in your camper’ if we attend next year – we headed out again to check out some of the free entertainment.

Unfortunately we didn’t get far as the excellent weather we had seen up until then suddenly broke and there was a torrential downpour that sent people dashing for cover wherever they could find it. Even the most weather proof awnings and tents were suffering under the torrent of water but thankfully it reduced to just ‘heavy rain’ after 10mins or so.

It didn’t dampen our spirits though, we dried ourselves off, pulled on our wellies and rain coats and went out again.

Sunday morning was brilliant sunshine once again and everything was drying out nicely. We spent a while looking at all the ‘show and shine’ vehicles, watched a VW 4wd display and took one last wander through the trade stalls to pick up a few things we had spotted the day before.

All in all it was an excellent weekend with family and friends, and despite the somewhat soggy bit in the middle, VanFest was well worth the visit – a few new goodies to test out on our next trip too.

Farm Fest, Bruton

For the last few years we have been regulars at the IoW Festival however, now that we have Tallulah we have been to several VW shows and decided to investigate a smaller, more kiddy friendly music festival instead.

There are plenty to choose from (i didnt realise quite how many!) but we chose Farm Festival nr Bruton as it had some good reviews, was convenient for us and some friends in terms of location and dates and was very reasonably priced for campervan tickets – £35 per adult and £15 for a campervan.

With Tallulah loaded we headed west to Bath to visit friends/family then headed south from there to the site.

The campervan field was at the very top of the festival site and we chose the far edge of the field as it was slightly flatter and less exposed, in the shelter of a large hedge and even larger tree.

We put up our awning and unpacked everything we needed then waited for our friends to arrive. It didn’t take long for our son to make friends so with him happy we opened the first of several ciders!

The music started a little later at which point we went for walk too see what was what.

Everything mentioned on the web site was indeed present, 4 stages (actually 1 main stage and 3 other very small ones inside marquees, all quirkily decorated) lots for the kids to do, local produce etc, and one or two extras, however it was far from the largest festival we had ever been to.

That said, size isn’t everything, and it meant that everything was very close and we could let the kids roam free without ever losing sight of them.

The music was good even though we had only ever heard of two of the bands listed, and there really was plenty for the kids throughout the weekend.

There seemed to be two main groups at the event; mid thirties couples with young kids and mid to late teens on a mission to drink as much as possible.

Everyone was very friendly and in good spirits and we thoroughly enjoyed our weekend, however this was partly due to the friends we had staying in our awning and we probably wouldn’t go again unless taking friends with us.

In all, a small but very well organised festival, great for kids and very relaxing when with friends, and all at a very reasonable price – other festival organisers should take note!

CamperJam – Weston Park

CamperJam is a weekend VW festival with entertainment for adults and children of all ages, as well as the normal ‘show and shine’ displays and VW traders.

We booked our weekend camping tickets in advance to save £5 each on the gate price (£30 per adult, under 16s free) – day tickets £15 – and would be setting up in the club camping area along with several other Brazilian VW Bay owners – Peppa, Scooby, Max, Ginger & Graham.

Weston Park, Shropshire is 3+ hours away from Reading cross country so we decided to go as far as Birmingham on A roads then hop on the M42 & M6 to leave us just a few miles to go along the A5.

We enjoyed the ride and made good time, arriving in almost exactly 3 hours. It took us another hour to sort ourselves out including putting up our new (larger) awning, then we took a well earned break with a tall, cold bottle of cider.

The main evening entertainment kicked off at around 9pm and wrapped up around midnight on both Friday and Saturday night and there was plenty to do and see throughout the day including children’s entertainers, Zorbing, competitions and lots more.

We packed up and set out on our journey home at around 2pm on Sunday, after a very relaxing and enjoyable weekend, and look forward to attending again next year.

Wyke Down Touring Caravan & Camping Park

A 40 minute drive south west from Reading would take us to the outskirts of Andover and Wyke Down Touring Caravan and Camping Park. Sorted.

We left at 2pm Friday following what is now our favourite route, the A4 out of Reading, the A340 through Aldermaston then smaller A roads through Kingsclere and Whitchurch.

A great drive through some amazing countryside with fabulous views and 40 short minutes later we arrived at Wyke Down.

As well as the touring and camping site, Wyke Down is also a working farm with cows, chickens and ducks, a fair sized pub and a well regarded restaurant – book early to avoid a long wait.

The site itself is well laid out, reasonably flat and has good, clean, well maintained facilities that include everything you would expect plus a good (although small) children’s play area and an outdoor swimming pool.

Oli’s bike was the first thing unloaded so while he went exploring, Tallulah was levelled, plugged in and attached to her awning. It was a gloriously sunny day so after all the hard work we relaxed with an ice cold cider – so glad Tallulah has a fridge!

We had booked ourselves a table in the pub when it opened at 6pm and enjoyed a very nice meal, then relaxed with more cider – this time from the bar – while Oli made new friends in the children’s play area.

The site was almost fully booked so it was noisy until quite late, not helped by the owners deciding to empty the bins after 9pm and wheeling them along the road, the grass would have been much quieter choice. Not the best with a 5 year old who is trying to get to sleep, but he eventually fell silent so after a few games of cards and a read of a good book we turned in ourselves.

After our usual bacon and egg breakfast we went for a wander to check out the swimming pool. Still a bit chilly for anything more than a paddle, but we would come back later when the sun had warmed everything up and have a proper swim.

We have friends who live nearby in Whitchurch so they came to meet us late morning for a catch-up and kick about with a football, then we had a late lunch in the pub and went for longer walk.

The weather changed in the afternoon, becoming increasingly windy and cloudy, the weather forecasts were changing every few minutes and not looking good, so we decided to make a head start on the packing up. It’s easier to pack a dry awning than a wet one even when windy and it would help us get away earlier in the morning.

We ate nice meal in Tallulah while watching others struggle to pack up their tents in the increasingly stormy conditions, played a few games and settled in for an early night.

Our first thunder storm! Lots of lightning, plenty of very strong winds, a bit of thunder yet no rain. Not that it mattered, we were snug an warm in Tallulah.

Coffee, light breakfast and finish the packing and we were on our way at 8.30 in the morning, heading back to Reading to unload, freshen up and head out again to the VW Rally at Stoner near Henley.

A great campsite only 40 minutes away with good facilities, definitely a place to go back to.

Newton Mill Holiday Park

Our next adventure was once again taking us west, but this time to Bath in Avon & Somerset, or should that be Avon, or Somerset or Bath & North-East Somerset, to visit friends and family.

We set off around 11am on Saturday and headed west for a gentle cruise along the A4 passing through the  several beautifully quaint market towns and villages, any or all of them worth a ‘leg-stretch’ pit stop – Marlborough, Beckhampton, Calne, Box and lots of others – and arrived in Bath around 1.30pm.

We pulled into the first of two sites we had planned to visit (Bath Marina & Campsite) for a quick look round to check facilities and prices and while it was certainly very well equipped we decided we would prefer a more rural setting for the night that was promised (via their website ) by Newton Mill Holiday Park just a few miles away.

Newton Mill also turned out to be the much less expensive option (£17 vs £27.50 at Bath Marina for 2 adults, a child of five, Tallulah the VW T2 and an awning) as well as being similarly equipped in terms of electric, water and toilets etc.

Within an hour or so everything was setup including our awning – although not a new awning it was only the 2nd time we had used it and the first time was a practise run in our garden! – so we went exploring. Newton Mill has lots of things to explore, great open spaces and woodland, a babbling brook, an excellent children’s play area (unfortunately not open when we visited due to some additional drainage work being done) and a pub!

After a quick kick around with a football and a nice meal with friends (all cooked in Tallulah although the pub was tempting…) it was time to test the showers and settle in for the night (it still gets pretty cold at night in March…) so with the awning all zipped up and our new heater plugged in we watched a DVD then had a wonderful nights sleep.

In the morning we woke to another beautifully sunny day, stretched, showered and went for another quick walk before cooking and eating breakfast and starting the ‘packup’. Everything went back into Tallulah in much the same way as it had come out the day before and after a short pause for a cuppa we were ready for the next leg of our journey into Bath for lunch.

The Hop Pole serves excellent food and happens to be opposite The Royal Victoria Park which has an amazing children’s play area so when we eventually persuaded our 5 year old that it was time to head home we loaded up and retraced our footsteps heading east back along the A4.

We saw the ‘white horse’ on the hillside east of Cherhill and stopped for a stretch at Silbury Hill, the tallest prehistoric human-made mound in Europe, and covered the 76 or so miles back to Reading in a little over 2 hours.

For anyone who might be counting that’s another 180 or so miles covered and a running total of 2 nights in our camper.