After the longest rest since we’ve owned her – thanks to an unusually long first half term – we are at last away again in Patsy, our beloved and reasonably well preserved Coachman caravan. Although, having said that, she has begun to exhibit signs that she is ageing. I’ll explain more later but put it this way, if she was a human we’d be reaching for the Tena’s…….
First stop off was not in Warwickshire at all but at Gatwick – not at the airport but virtually right by the side of it at the Caravan Club’s site there. We hadn’t planned to get away until Friday, but taking the gamble that Thursday’s INSET session at school would finish on time we decided to squeeze in a night on the way.
The journey was straightforward enough from Patsy’s new storage place in East Sussex and Rosie handled the climb out of Brighton and up Handcross hill admirably returning an unsurprisingly low 27mpg over the 40 mile journey.
Set up was swift mainly thanks to intermittent rain showers but when things did brighten up a little I was able to get out and get some shots of the site and put the new lens to the test capturing some of the take-offs.
We’d spotted a chain carvery on the way in and decide that would be sufficient for our culinary requirements. There were no new ales to try but the London Pride was gratefully received while Trev opted for Doom Bar. Sadly there were no pubs within walking distance so ‘research’ was by necessity, limited. We did call at another pub on the way back though where the real ale offering was that well known West Sussex ale called er, Doom Bar. Oh well.
There are so many take offs and landings at Gatwick that the noise almost blurs into the background – although it must be a nightmare putting up with it day after day. So it seemed eerily quiet at night once movements had ceased. Just before six am though it all started again although we did nod off again for another couple of hours.
The 140 miles to our next destination – Somers Wood near Meriden in Warwickshire – was a straightforward trundle on a variety of motorways – M23, M25, M40 & M42, before arriving at the site a little before 1pm. Rosie acquitted herself much better managing as near as dammit 30 mpg.
The welcome was friendly and once again it was a case of at last putting a face to a Twitter handle as we’d been interacting on and off for a while. We’d also been given an upgrade to a serviced pitch which was fantastic. Some traditionalists may sneer at this, muttering that it’s not proper caravanning – like electric hook ups and heating, but I’m always grateful for things that make life a little easier. Particularly when I don’t have to pay for them. Thanks again Angela, it’s really appreciated.
Have a look at Somers Wood for a photo slideshow of this lovely site
It was after connecting the water and waste and generally having a look around to see that all was good I noticed some water dripping from places it shouldn’t. An examination revealed that water was leaking inside the van, by the inlet and running along and out further along. Closer inspection revealed a hairline crack where the flexible pipe from the pump enters ‘van via a plastic face-plate. A new one was needed. At least we knew what the problem was, we just had to get it sorted. I called a mobile service engineer who I used before but we were, as I suspected, quite a way out of his area. The information hut on site had cards for a least six mobile services so I grabbed them all and set about making calls. The first one was on holiday, another was about to go on holiday, another was fully booked for another month, two more ‘didn’t really cover that area’ – which begs the question why they left their cards, and the last has to date not called me back. Great.
So, the only option was DIY. Fortunately Jacksons of Old Arley was not too far away – and we’d had reason to visit them around this time last year on a mercy mission for a fellow friend and caravanner. Service was once again excellent – they could not have been more helpful – and less than two hours after first diagnosing the problem we’d fitted the new part and water was once again running where it should have been. Whilst it would have been easier to hand over cash, there was a great satisfaction in sorting it ourselves, although the credit card still took a pounding as we decided to get a spare pump as well.
Friday night we met up with camper, freelance journo and digital marketer Richard and wife Diane for a meal in nearby Meriden. Diane kindly offered to drive so we could partake of a little research too. We lucked out in the first The Bulls Head as although there was a good choice of ales there was nothing new. The food was excellent though. The Queens Head had two ales that had not as yet tingled the blogger in blacks taste buds. Or so I thought. The one I picked turned out to be a re-branded version of one I’d tried a year or so ago. But it was very nice at least!
Look out for part two soon – a transport museum, a party and the Blogger in grey?