Bath & Bristol Pt 1 – An easier erection

Hello again, this time from an intermittently sunny Bishop Sutton, roughly midway between, and south of, Bath &  Bristol. For any newcomers to Nonsense! you have not stumbled across advice on Erectile Dysfunction – although there IS a pump involved – but rather a nod to the fact that we have a new awning.

We’ve had some sad news too. Ray – Trev’s brother-in-law passed away last week after a massive heart attack. We only saw him a couple of weeks ago and he was looking so well. He loved my blogs and always told me so when we met. A really nice man who will be sadly missed by many, not least by his two daughters; Sarah and Michelle.

Right, time for the usual catch up.

Our last day at Bo-Peep was the usual carry on of getting the awning down and everything packed away ready for  moving on. Though this time with the knowledge that it may be the last time we had to handle our big old heavy awning. An ad placed on Gumtree had yielded an enquiry, the result of which was that the buyer would pick it up from our next site – where we are now.

With the bbq also packed away and the cupboards empty there really was only one option for the evenings sustenance – and the nearby Pickled Ploughman proved to be an excellent choice. The bangers & mash for Trev and the chicken, ham & leek pie for me were both delicious. There were three real ales to choose from too, allowing me to conduct some more er, research. If you are in the area, check them out – but go on the website first and you can get a voucher for a free drink – something I’ve only just discovered. Plonker.

The journey down here on Wednesday was straightforward enough – up to Banbury then on to the M40, joining the A34 north of Oxford, all the way down to the M4 before navigating about three hundred roundabouts (okay, nine!) on the Bristol ring road and thence on to Bishop Sutton and the site.

Right, the site – Bath Chew Valley Caravan Site. Worlds apart in many ways from Bo-Peep but very pretty nonetheless. We were well early of the 2pm arrival time but I made a phone call and they were happy to let us on. You don’t pitch the ‘van yourself here but unhitch at the entrance and the ‘van is tractored on and levelled for you. A sort of valet parking for caravans I guess. Cars are not kept by the pitch but in the nearby car park. It’s compact – there are only 35 pitches – and very tidily manicured with a beautiful fishpond too. The shower and toilet facilities are all individual ensuite units and kept extremely clean. And, mercifully, no push button showers either, relying on the users good sense to turn them off after use.

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The site is affiliated to The Caravan Club – and they seem to have followed their example to a certain degree with signage and rules. You are  to ‘Report’ to reception on arrival making it sound less like a campsite and more like a military training camp. There is a list of things you have to sign to say that you will and wont do. Patsy is not allowed a wash for example, as they are on a water meter. Show me a site that isn’t but I never had this come up before. No awnings or windbreaks on the grass and visitors are charged at two quid each and must be off site by 6pm.  Pitches are small and quite close together so late night outdoor grog fuelled chinwags around a fire as per Twittercamp probably wouldn’t go down too well. Having said that the site is almost full – we had to wait for a cancellation to get on. Many pitches are full service – including ours as that’s all that was left and it is adults only too, which is what attracted us too it!

No sooner had we arrived and settled when the lady arrived to pick up the awning. She didn’t quibble over the price so we threw in the groundsheet too. Then it was on the ‘net to order the replacement. The girls at Twittercamp had one of the new pump up ones and that was what we were after, although predictably being men, we wanted a bigger one….. Eventually I found somewhere that had stock and placed the order.

Burgers and wedges provided the evenings sustenance and it did seem odd having to actually sit IN the ‘van. Something we’ve hardly done all summer.

Thursday morning the promised rain came and after all the good weather – and now, temporarily at least – awning-less, it felt a little claustrophobic in the ‘van. In the afternoon we headed in to Bristol for the first time. Our friends Kevin & Lawrence were coming down for a long weekend and we’d arranged to hook up. Having taken a rather circuitous route from the site in to town thanks to a road closure we fired up the sat nav app which kindly deposited us right next to their hotel. We were a little early and, having not yet had any lunch availed ourselves of the services of a well know pub chain across the road for a burger and pint.

Later, having met up with our friends we had stroll around some of the city, dodging the showers and ending up, pretty inevitably in a hostelry or two before returning to the site.

Friday, and some actual sightseeing. The boys wanted to go to Monmouth to catch up with some friends and we tagged along too. Having crossed the Severn bridge we called in first at Chepstow to top up the caffeine.

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Then on to the beautiful Wye Valley that straddles the border between England and Wales. We paused for photo’s at Tintern Abbey then stopped in Newland. Newland is where Lawrence’s Sister used to live and also also has a pub  – The Ostrich – serving some damn fine food. We all emerged absolutely stuffed and had a stroll across to the village church in an effort to walk some of it off.

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Monmouth was the final stop and me, Trev & Kev went off for coffee whilst Lawrence went to visit his friends. We paused in one of the junk, sorry, antique shops to have a snout and my eyes initially lit up. There was a large collection of motorbike gear in the back, which meant of course lots of black leather. Yum. My eye was drawn to some great looking jeans which also appeared to be my size, but whatever the number 34 on the waistband was referring too it clearly wasn’t inches. They would have hardly gone around my thighs. We moved on.

Back in Bristol we stopped for some very average pub grub, but with everyone yawning it was clear that this wasn’t going to be a late night. We moved on for another quick pint and then headed back.

Saturday was quiet. We met for lunch – and a couple of pints – obviously – in town but with the weather turning again we went back to the site late afternoon, rather stupidly joining the crowd of Saturday afternoon shoppers on route for some more toilet fluid and replacement awning pegs. This caravanning lark ain’t all beer and barbies you know!

Sunday, and with the return of the sunshine promised, the boys came to the site and we headed east to Bath, utilising the park and ride on the way. I’ve been before – along while ago – and the only things I could remember were  the Royal Crescent and the Roman Spa. We jumped on the tourist’s favourite – the hop on-hop off bus – to get our bearings and an overview of the city. And what a beautiful city it is too as I hope the photo’s will show.  We saw the Royal Crescent, the baths, the Abbey and were told about the Jane Austen connection. A second bus took us on the ‘Skyline’ route up in to the hills surrounding the city. We stopped for lunch and an (early) afternoon tea. It takes it out on you this sightseeing malarkey you know. There was a match being played at the Bath cricket ground – I paused for a few minutes to catch and over and it reminded me how much I enjoyed live cricket.

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We left late afternoon, barely skimming the surface but having had a really good day nonetheless. Myself and Trev have promised to return before we leave and have a more in depth look. The Roman Spa is a must see – a view shared by many judging by the queues around the block but hopefully during the week it will be quieter.

We stopped at Chew Valley Lake on the way back for a stroll around part of it’s perimeter. The Red Lion in the village did not do food on a Sunday night so we ended up at the Blue Bowl in nearby West Harptree for our evening nosh. The food was excellent – we all had something different and were all very impressed. The fact that one of my all time favourites ales – London Pride – was on offer to wash it all down with too made it even better.

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Right, almost there. This morning we put up the new awning for the first time. I won’t lie and said it went without a hitch because it didn’t. We let the air out at one point and virtually started again, but there is no doubt that its much quicker  – and lighter – than a traditional pole awning. I’ve promised someone a mini blog on awnings for their newsletter some time this century and will put it on the blog too.

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With everything set up I had hoped to get back to bbq-ing this evening. However, the local shop, whilst carrying an impressive range of bottled real ales had little in the way of veg or salad. Or meat. So, it’s off to the pub again. Oh well. The site usefully provides a map entitled ‘Ten pubs in Ten minutes’. We have a copy.

See ya!

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