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Fishery Creek Caravan Park, Hayling Island

The 2014 camping season has started and the weather for the school Easter holidays was looking good so we loaded up and headed south for an adventure on Hayling Island.
We had chosen Fishery Creek Caravan Park because it was a short walk from the beach and because it runs alongside Fishery Creek with its own slipway and we wanted to use our kayak.

We arrived at approximately 3pm after a very clear run from Reading and we were parked up and pitched (overlooking the creek) shortly after. The weather was gloriously sunny but quite windy, so we decided not to use our sun canopy although we did use our new wind break.
After a bite to eat we went for a walk to and along the beach at Sandy Point and watched the start of sunset before walking back and preparing for an early night.

The next morning we woke early, had a shower in the excellent site facilities, then made breakfast, washed up and unpacked our inflatable kayak.

We were waiting for some friends to arrive (guests are allowed on site if they pay a small fee at the reception) and for the tide to come in before we could use the slipway into the creek so we relaxed with a book in the sun.

Our friends arrived and eventually the tide came in enough so we made our way into the water for a paddle and swim. The creek is very shallow (and muddy) with a reasonable tidal current and after a couple of hours we were ready to get cleaned up and dried.
After another trip to the site showers we fired up the BBQ (first of many this season!) And enjoyed a cool glass of cider as a reward for our wet suited antics.

Our friends headed off early evening so we went for another walk along the beach, returning in the dark, and settled in for our second night.

The next morning breakfast was dealt with and cleaned up and we started packing everything else up ready to leave the site, but the adventure was far from over. We were packed and ready to leave the site at midday, so after an ice cream at the highly recommended ice cream shop at Sandy Point, we headed along to the other end of the Island to an almost deserted beach where we unpacked our kayak once again and took it out onto the open sea.
Although much calmer than the previous days, kayaking on the open sea is a different proposition, with waves, tides and wind to contend with. An exhilarating hour or two later and we were once again dry and packed and having a bite to eat in the local pub before heading back to Reading.

A great trip with fab weather and a good opportunity to fully test our new kayak on open water. We will definitely return!

Anita’s Caravan Park

Tallulah was on the road again last weekend, this time heading to a great looking camp site 5 miles north of Banbury – Anita’s Caravan and Camping Park.

On this adventure we will be properly testing our new larger awning both in terms of living/sleeping space with friends staying with us, and weather proofing as the conditions are forecast to be wet and windy for at least the first half of our stay.

The main reason for our trip was to attend the inaugural ‘Kombi Sleepover‘, a meeting of other Brazilian VW Bay owners from around the country, but also to test our new awning as we had friends staying with us and sleeping in it.

Tallulah with some of her friends…

We arrived shortly after 6pm and set about levelling, plugging in and pitching our awning which was somewhat challenging in the windy conditions.

All done an hour or so later so we then unpacked our picnic table and benches and had a nice relaxing meal then after a short walk to a local pub we settled in for a chat and a few more drinks before turning in for the night.

Saturday morning gave the awning a thorough test, persistent rain until after lunch and two small kids needing space to be entertained, and I’m happy to say it passed with flying colours!

The weather brightened up shortly after lunch, as did the campsite with the arrival of 9 more Brazi Bays in a wide selection of colours.

With total number of buses now at 12 the fun could really begin, everyone being introduced and having a good look around each others vans. A game of rounders ended in a tactful draw (air-cooled vs water-cooled) and we all sat round the campfire (BBQ) waiting for Kiteman’s solar lights to glow.

All setup ready for the weekend

A well earned late breakfast Sunday morning and a leisurely pack-up before heading south for a spot of lunch in Oxford.

A great weekend with lots of very nice people and great looking buses, it looks like becoming an annual event.

Cheddar Mendip Heights

Our first trip with friends – the three of us in our Vdub camper and the four of them in a 6 man tent – was planned at Mendip Heights, a Caravan and Camping Club site in the middle of the amazing Somerset countryside near Cheddar.

As normal we took the scenic route, following the A4 west out of Reading then across to the A303 via Aldermaston and on to Stone Henge. From there we took various A and B roads zig-zagging our way to our destination for around 11.30am.

The campsite was very easy to find and everyone was very helpful and friendly. The site has a combination of hard standing and grass pitches in 3 or 4 fields separated by low stone walls. Most of the pitches have a gentle slope, but there were plenty of bricks and pieces of wood to aid levelling and we were setup within the hour and ready to help our friends pitch their tent.

The kids went to explore the play area and the adults sat down for a catch up and glass of wine.

After some food we all went for a nice long walk – there are several recommended walks of varying distances, the site shop even sells a handy walking guide book.

The site shop was excellent, selling a wide range of essentials as well as local produce and a pre-ordering service for fresh bread and croissant for breakfast. The showers/toilets were equally as good, very clean and well maintained.

We were only staying for the one night so after settling the kids into their sleeping bags we finished another bottle and settled down for the night.

In the morning we enjoyed our fresh croissant immensely then did a leisurely pack-up ready to leave the site at noon and head back to Reading once again.

Cheddar Mendip Heights is an excellent site, great location, fantastic facilities and very reasonably priced. It’s a Caravan and Camping Club site, but non-members are welcome, and is very friendly and family oriented.

We will definitely visit again.

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.

Folly Farm Cotswold Campsite

Tallulah arrived in Reading late on Thursday evening so we spent Friday (after work) and Saturday morning loading and prepping for our first adventure….

We had decided to head west to the Cotswolds, not only because it’s a beautiful part of the country but because we had some additional supplies to collect from Cheltenham.

While Tallulah is more than capable of travelling at the regulation 70mph along the motorway she is much happier cruising leisurely at 40-50mph on A roads, so off we went ‘cross country’ watching the wonderful scenery float by.

We reached Cheltenham around 1pm, had a break for lunch then loaded up the last few bits and headed for a recommended camp site.

After a quick call once on the move we discovered that the recommended campsite was yet to open for the season (should probably have called before heading out) so after another ‘pit stop’ in a pub car park on the A40 and a look at the map, we chose another local campsite and made another call.

Result! Although not officially open for the 2011 season, Folly Farm Cotswold Campsite were busy getting everything ready for opening at Easter and agreed to let us in for the night – I think secretly they just wanted to meet Tallulah!

We pulled onto the site around 4pm and were all set up and eating our dinner around Tallulah’s table an hour or so later.

The campsite had all of the required facilities although the builders were due back in a day or two to finish off the new shower/toilet/wash block and in the mean time it was a bit muddy were the work was being carried out.

We had a reasonable nights sleep although Oli (age 5) was simply so excited at the prospect of sleeping ‘in the roof’ that it took him quite a while to actually sleep!

All packed up and on the road again by 11am for an even more leisurely cruise home, stopping at the occasional village (Bourton-on-the-Water, Wallingford & Pangbourne) to stretch our legs and arriving home safely around 2pm.

So, 320km (200miles) done and the first of many nights completed, time to plan our next adventure.