Saturday, 28 April 2012

New Toy

Having a BBQ'd evening meal is part and parcel of spending time in the caravan.  I am a big fan of Weber kettle bbqs and have a full sized one at home and a medium sized one that travels with us in the caravan.

When we changed the caravan last November, herself declared that my dirty and greasy faithfull was not allowed to travel inside the caravan.  Previously, when we had the Shogun this would not have presented a problem as there was enough space in the boot for the dogs and the bbq.  However, having scaled down to Mandy, it was either the bbq or the dogs had to go.

Herself won, and the dogs are still with us!

The hunt was now on for a new bbq for the caravan.  I know Mr Shag won't approve, but a move towards gas was the only viable option.

Two reasons for this:-

  1. The quality of charcoal seems to be deteriorating year on year.
  2. Cleaner.
So the hunt was on for a gas bbq and my shopping list was:-

  1. Gas powered
  2. Reasonable cooking area
  3. Fold down small enough to be stored under the bed
  4. Have the ability to be used as a griddle for breakfasts
  5. Have the ability to be used as an oven for roasts.
It was norrowed down the three front runners.

  1. BillyOH portable
  2. Cadac
  3. WeberQ120
The BillyOH doed not have a griddle, but I was going to adapt a griddle pan that I already have.  I have owned a Cadac before, but sold the heap of junk.  So meet my new toy.......

Thursday, 26 April 2012


No not the country, but the anniversary.  On the 25th April this week herself and I have been married for 20 years.  Google tells me it's the China anniversary and we took ourselves off away from the kids  for a bit.

On our 10th we went to Kilarney in Ireland, on the 15th it was to the Lake district and now for our 20th The Cotswolds is the destination of choice (not really, it's just where we got the nicest looking hotel for the money on Late Rooms).

As it's only one night, we were pushing the boat out for this one, although there is a coolbox full of beer, wine and sandwiches for the room cos I refuse to pay room service prices.

The plan was to drop Jnr#2 off at school then set off from home with the intention of looking around Moreton in Marsh before checking into the hotel.  Well, @DerekTheWeather and his forecast put the brakes on that idea.  It pissed down all the way along the M4 over into England, it pissed down up the M5 into Gloustershire and it was still pissing down as we arrived in Moreton.

Herself had done her hair, and there's no was she is getting out of the car in the rain, so off we went on a trip to explore the area by car.  First stop was the Caravan Club site in Moreton, looks very nice and close enough to the town to walk in.  We stopped near Broadway for a spot of lunch taken in the car peering through steamed up windows into the mist.

We then head towards Bourton on the Water, and it's a chocolate box type place with chinese tourists snapping everything.  I'm pretty sure that if a horse stopped to take a dump they'd be snapping away!

After a little while the heavens opened again, and with herself keen not to ruin her hair, we make a dash back to the car.  It's time we can check in so we head back to Moreton in Marsh and the hotel.

I am told the the buildings in this part of the world look stunning as the sunshine makes the yellow Cotwold stone glow.  Unfortunately it pissed down all the time we were there so can only take people's word for it.

In Moreton we stayed in at The White Hart Royal and we did feel a little guilty about leaving the van behind, but it was hardly worth dragging it out for one night.  I did consider it though, because for what it's costing to sleep here for one night we could have stayed for 5 or 6 at the club site just around the corner from it!

The White Hart Royal Hotel was once a coaching inn. Its reputation was enhanced when King Charles I sheltered in the inn following the battle of Marston Moor on 2nd July 1644. A copy of the King's unpaid bill is commemorated on a plaque within the entrance lobby.  The cost of a bed for the night and food here is eyewatering; I think they are still trying to recoup the cost of that unpaid bill.

We stayed in one of the feature rooms, the Evesham Four Poster, which is on the ground floor with large four-poster bed, antique furniture, air conditioning and a wet room.

Very nice it was too!

The weather had also made our decision on where to dine a whole lot easier.  We were staying put.  Freshened up we made our way to the Snug Bar for pre dinner drinks.  A lovely cosey bar with low ceilings, bowed oak beams and a roaring log fire.

The beer was accompanied by some warm breads served with olive oil and basmaltic vinegar, and it would have been all too easy to settle in for the evening here, but a table had been booked for 6.30 in the Courtyard Resaurant.

The french bloke working 'front of house' was very attentive, nothing being too much trouble (including flirting with herself).  The food was excellent. I had a Confit of Duck to start, Ribeye steak for mains and Sticky Toffee Pudding for desert.  All washed down with a few bottles of pink fizzy stuff.

Mr Over Attentive Froggy is really working hard for a tip.  We are not allowed to refill our own glasses all night, and to top it all, with the deserts he brings out a plate with white chocolate on which they had written 'Happy Anniversary' in dark chocolate.

Herself is over the moon with this and is insistant that any tip I leave must be in the form of a note and not coins.  I see my chance as Mr Overattentive goes off on his break.  I get up to leave, but herself gives me a look that says 'SIT DOWN'.

Anyway, he has his tip, which is discretely pocketed before you could say "I'm not letting the other staff see this"

Seriously though, a top evening!

Breakfast was taken in the Courtyard Resaurant before checking out and setting off on another road trip.  We head north to 'Shakespear Country' and Stratford Upon Avon.  Not impressed, we don't stop and carry on towards Tewksbury.  We have a quick look round, and both agree that it's what we thought Startford would look like.  The Caravan Club site is checked out for future refrence before we hit the M50 towards home (avoiding the Severn Crossing toll).

Oh yes, China.  I bough herself a china ornament of a border collie while we were in Bourton on the Water.

Friday, 13 April 2012

A to Z of Campsites

There seems to be this thing about competing A to Z lists on tinternet at the moment.  This got me thinking.  Would I be able to complete the alphabet with camp sites that we have stayed on?

The answer sadly is no.  But from the list below, you will see that it's was bloody close.

A            Aberystwyth Holiday Village, Aberystwyth

            Abermarlais Caravan Park, Llangadog.

            Aeron Coast Caravan Park, Aberaeron

B          Bunree CC Site, Fort William
             Brynych CC Site, Brecon

Bank Farm, Swansea

Blackpool South CC Site, Blackpool

Black Horse Farm, Folkstone

Beverley Park, Paignton

C         Crystal Palace CC Site

            Coed Y llwyn CC Site, Blaenau Ffestiniog

            Croft Holiday Park, Kilgetty

            Camping le Pasquier, Dole

            Crackwell Holiday Park, Penally

            Cream Pots, Broad Haven

D         Daisy Bank, Montgomery

            Darmoor View, Okehampton

E            Exmouth (Devon Cliffs)

F         Fforest Fields, Builth Wells

            Freshwater East CC Site, Pembroke

G            Gowerton CC Site, Swansea

            Grondre Vale Holiday Park, Clunderwen

Glen Trothy, Monmouth

Gateway Holiday Park, Llanelli

Golden Sands, Dawlish

H         Hurn Lane CC Site, Burnham

            Home Farm Holiday Park, Burnham

            Hendra Holiday park, Newquay



K            Kennexstone Camping Park, Gower

L          Lac Bleu, Doussard

Lleithyr Meadow CC Site, St Davids

            Longleat CC Site, Warminster

            La Bien Assise, Guines

            Llanrhidian Holiday Park, Gower

M            Monkey Tree Holiday Park, Newquay

Marragowan CC Site, Killan

            Mullion Holiday Park, Helston

            Merley Court Holiday Park, Wimbourne

N         New Park, Port Eynon

O            Oakdene Forest Park, Ringwood

P            Pembrey CC Site, Llanelli
             Pandy, Abergavenny.

            Pembrey Country Park, Llanelli

            Pitton Cross Caravan Park, Swansea

            Pilbach Holiday Park, Llandysul


R            Rowston Holiday Park, Tenby

            Rockley Park, Poole

S          Sunny Vale Holiday Park, Saundersfoot

            Silverbow, Perranporth

            Sandford Park, Poole

T            Troutbeck Head CC Site, Penrith

            Three Cliffs Camping Site, Swansea

            Trevornick Holiday Park, Newquay

            Treamble Valley CC Site, Truro

            Tredegar House CC Site, Newport

            Tudor Glen, Tenby

            Trevayne Caravan and Camping, Saundersfoot

U         Usk Showground


W            Witches Craig Caravan Park, Blairlogie




Monday, 9 April 2012

No sex, no drugs, but loads of Bow!

Well, It's Good Friday and time to hit the road.

Rather an interesting start to the day though, as the Captain from next door was having a new spa delivered.  It's a beast a beast of a thing and had to be craned in over the garage.  Think it's safe to say his arse was making buttons for a while, and when he fills it later teh Dwr Cymru van will be up and down the hill looking for leaks!

Anyway, with that little drama out of the way it was time to get the the van out from it's hidey hole by the side of the house (it's a bit of a squeeze) and hitched up  to Mandy for our Easter break away.

We set off at  around 11.15am, stopping in Burry Port to break the journey up and have a comfort break.  After a grueling 25 minutes behind the wheel we pulled up at reception and herself trapses off to get us booked in, only to be reprimanded by 'Heir in Charge' for having arrived a whole 15 minutes early!

Mr Shag texts me to say that Mr & Mrs Tatasports are not joining us for the weekend afterall.  So we set about the task of finding some pitches.

The site is quite full, and finding two empty pitches together takes some doing.  Not much choice, but we spot two vacant ones in an enclosure and  bag those.  Now I always get into trouble with Mrs Shag over my choice of pitch, and I think today will be no exception.  Horror of horrors, the pitches are in the shadow of some rather large trees and we won't get any late afternoon sun (like as if there will be any this weekend).

Mr and Mrs Shag arrive shortly after us, and we're  both set up in no time at all with nothing more to do than sit around waiting for 'beer o clock.

The BBQs get lit and 'Mein Führer' arrives promtly to give me and Mr Shag a light hearted telling off about the smoke our BBQs were generating.  I have a feeling this won't be the last we see of the wardens this weekend.

Our boys are now much too cool to come away with us, and we now find ourselves to be 'childless' caravanners and becoming somewhat less tolerant of the little darlings that belong to others.  We had little choice of pitches on arrival, but we soon realise that we are WAY too close to the kiddies playground.

Mrs Shag again congratulates me on my superb choice of pitch as we sit outside (in the shade) cwtched up in blankets while everyone else is bathed in sunshine, listening to the birdsong and the screeching, yelling, shouting & slide slamming little darlings.

In an effort to dispense them I briefly consider wandering over to the play area with a 'bag of sweets' offering them to 'come and see my puppies' but think better of it when I look round and see how hard some of the parents look!  The fathers looked quite menacing too!


We resist the urge to hit the bow until about 5ish, then cave in big style. The rest of the evening is a bit of a blur.  I am sure we made a fair bit of noise.  Herself demolished a box of wine and took to her bed by about 11.30ish with Mrs Shag not long behind leaving a trail of empty Carlsberg cans behind her.

That just left me and Mr Shag in the awning getting corned beef legs and talking crap.  The bow took a hammering and neither of us can stand up straight or steady when we decide to call it a night.

The morning after, and I have a rather thick head.  I peel myself off the mattress and it hurts.  Herself must be feeling sorry for me and comes to the rescue with bacon rolls and a steaming mug of tea. My head and guts are telling me that I drank a fair but the night before, and a trip out to the awning to survey the damage reveals that my coolbox is empty.  That means I threw just short of 15 cans of bow down my neck last night.  Little wonder I was pissed.

Mrs Shag appears and takes great delight in showing me the pictures and videos off Mr Shag's phone.  Oh Dear!!!!! They'd better not find their way onto Twitter!

Herself has gone off to take jnr #2 to be measured for his prom suit. I am still feeling a little delicate and I have dedicated the day to doing very little. The dogs seem content for now, but will need a good walk later.


Mr Shag makes an appearance, and I'm happy to note that he is suffering just as much as me.

Jnr #1 & 2 join us for tea.  A few quiet bottles of Stella then an early night is had by all, after a bit of Britain's Got Talent (Where do they find these people?).

I wake on Sunday, fresh as a daisy, look round the van and realise that Easter Bunny has not found us!  See there's always a risk going away from home at special times of the year.  I'm staying put at Christmas!

With no eggs to gorge on, it's off out with the dogs, allowing herself a well deserved lie in bed.  Another day is spent not doing much at all, except have a few brews and talk shit with the neighbours.

Now one of my pet hates on caravan sites is inconsiderate types cutting across your pitch on the way to the bogs. This has been particulary bad this weekend and there must be quite a few 'First Seasoners' on site who do not yet understand the unspoken code and have not heard of the 11th comandment.

'Thou shalt not take a short cut across someone elses pitch.'

There are loads of kids on the site this weekend, and this morning 'Heir in Charge' and 'Mein Führer' have organised an egg hunt for the little darlings.  So now we have hundreds of the snotty nosed little darlings darting everywhere, including our pitches.

Next time I go away I'm taking a few of these with me.

Everyone seems to be taking their awnings down, which only ever means one thing on a caravan site.  A quick check on t'internet reveals why.

There is nothing worse that taking down a wet awning and then having to dry it out at home, so down they come quicker than you could say "Oh shit, it's going to chuck it down tomorrow!"

Curry for tea, then settle down with Mr Shag to watch The Scarlets take on Brive in the Amlin Cup.  It's a close game, and the Scarlets could have sneaked it, 'if it wasn't for that pesky ref!'

Mr Shag seems to be shouting at my TV a lot, and judging by his Facebook status update.... "Wayne Barnes should be burnt at the steak!"........ I don't think the ref is on Mr Shag's christmas card list any longer.

The bow takes another mini hammering before we hit the sack.

Monday morning arrives and I wake to the sound of rain drumming on the roof.  A peak outside reveals that 'Derek the Weatherman' has got it spot on for a change, and it's a little damp out there.

With the awning already sorted it takes no time to pack up and head off.  A short comfort break by Sandy Water Park, and we're home by 11am.

We have not really done much at all this weekend, but sometimes that's just the way we like it.  You don't have to be far from home to be 'away' and sometimes it's just nice to chill and have a drink with friends.

It may not have been warm enough to sit out for long, but at least we din't have snow like much of the rest of the UK.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Snow Shoes or Flip Flops

Easter is usually the first trip out of the year, and as it falls in early April this year you would expect it to be cold, and at best hope for a little bit of sun and be happy with it.

But this year our very unpredicatble climate has thrown a bloody great big spanner into the works.  Last week we had wall to wall sunshine, and whilst the evenings turned cool, the days saw temperatures chasing the mercury and a vast display of early season pale and pastey legs sticking out of the bottom of last years bermudas!

So, looking towards this weekend, with the kitchen table loaded with tee shirts, shorts and flip flops ready to be loaded into our caravan for the easter weekend away the weather goes and has a hissy fit.  The sun has gone into hiding, the mercury has rediscovered gravity and there is bloody snow falling in the north of the country.

It won't stop our weekend away, and it won't be the first or last time that me and Mr Shag spend the evening huddled around a halogen fire in the awning getting corned beef legs whilst doing our very best to induce a cider shortage in South Wales.

This weekend we are not only joined by Mr & Mrs (well almost) Shag, but also the initially very confusing combination of both their brother (in law) and sister (in law) -DONT ASK- in the shape of Mr & Mrs Tatasports.

Just adults this weekend though as WannabePikey jnr#1&2 and Mini shag are now far too cool to spend time with their binge drinking parents on a caravan site.

But (and it's a big but thats going to casue a whole lotta stress) between us we have 6 dogs - yes 6 - who don't all get on.  Cerys and Scarlet are a pair of bitches who despise the ground that each other walk on, Tali just wants to hump Gwen (who would be more than happy to let him do so), Peaches is just dopey and will spend the weekend climbing on tables looking for food and a also dog that spends all day trying to impersonate a sheep!

If I had a crystal ball I'd bet that looking towards 2.30am on Saturday morning will see the wimmen being sensible and long gone to bed, Me wishing that Mr Shag would go to bed, Mr Shag coming back to the awning with another 6 cans of bow declaring "Right, I'll drink these then I'll be off!" and Mr Tatasports on his chin straps sitting bolt upright in the awning.

Would I change it?  Would I bollox.

Oh yes! Snow shoes or flip flops?