It has rained overnight, but with the low temperatures the site was like a sheet of ice this morning when we woke up. We've a lot to cram into today, so a lie in is a luxury we cannot afford.
While packing up I notice that the motor home that pitched along side us yesterday had a Carmarthenshire County Council recycling box outside. The occupant appeared and it turns out he is from a village just a few miles from us at home. Small world!!! An even bigger coincidence is that like us they had travelled to Chatsworth House first before moving to York, and guess where they are going next? Yes, Chester just like us!
Anyway we are breakfasted and pulling out of the site at 9.15am. The long access road has not been gritted, but the 4wd on the X Trail is faultless, not losing traction at all. With the Blues Brothers blasting out of the Bose speakers we are rolling at cruising speed on the A64 towards the motorway network.
The weather starts to change the M62 takes us up over the Pennines and we pass Slott Hall Farm sited between the two carriageways. By the time we get onto Saddleworth Moor, the highest motorway in England (372m) the rain has turned to snow and herself gets all excited. The motorways that circle Manchester are tedious, the wind is gusting and the HGVs are causing a bit of turbulence. The X Trail however never loses control of the van and the 112 mile journey passes without incident.
We arrive at the Chester Fairoaks Caravan Club site just before noon. We pitch up, have a brew and are pulling back out through the gate by 12.30pm
Another day and another city, and we exit the NCP car park straight into Chester's Christmas Market. It all looks very festive with stalls in log cabins. Herself is taken by one that is selling hand made tree decorations while my favourite one is the Xmas BBQ. The smell radiating from it is Divine, and despite me hanging round and looking longingly at the sizzling burgers and bangers, herself is having nothing of it.
We walked the city centre and it's obvious that the recession has yet to travel this far. There are no boarded up shops, and most of the shoppers appear to be well heeled. We are in the middle of 'Footballer's Wives' territory here, every other woman is made up heavily and the standard uniform seems to be designer over the knee boots worn over designer jeans.
We have walked by all the designer coffee shops and expensive eateries, and while browsing the indoor market I talk herself into stopping at the reasonable priced cafe. My accent seems to be a problem here because the chicken salad I ordered turned up in the shape of a chip batch!!!
We were all too aware that the NCP clock was ticking at an alarming rate so decided to head out of town to the Cheshire Oaks shopping outlet. It's massive and has every shop you could imagine. It's very easy to spend a lot of money very quickly here. And we do.
Shopped out we head back to the van and it starts to rain quite heavily. I'm in JFO mode, and tea tonight is Steak with new potatoes. For afters I have a case of 'Old Speckled Hen' and herself has two bottles of Champers that we picked up reduced earlier.
Settled in for the night and the booze is going down a treat, while outside the rain is coming down in sheets. There is nothing like being nice and warm in the van and listening to the rain hammering down on the roof.
Monday 5 December
It had stopped raining some time in the night and the temperatures outside plummeted. Not that we were bothered inside the van though. Skipping breakfast, we were pulling out of the site gates by just after 9am.
There were two options today for the journey home. Firstly a 148 mile tow along the twisting, but very scenic and traffic free roads of Mid Wales or a 247 mile tow home via the motorway network.
Mid Wales won hands down. It was quite a challenging tow with the roads twisting and turning and also some steep ascents and descents. The X Trail, as it has done all week, took everything that was thrown at it in its stride.
We got home by 1pm. The van has been washed and is now parked up in winter mode, and The X Trail washed ready for collection tomorrow. I'm going to miss that car!!
In the week we were away in it we covered a total of 1056 miles, 570 of those miles towing the caravan. Over the whole trip we averaged just under 35 mpg, which I consider to be not bad going for a car of this size - and when not towing I've not exactly spared the horses.
We packed a lot into our 7 nights away. We stayed on three sites, all of which were very nice. Our favourite site though has to be Chatsworth, purely for the location.
Personal highs?? Well for herself it has to be the day we walked through the Chatsworth estate and round the formal gardens, and for me the day we visited Heartbeat country.
Personal lows?? Herself will say the time I dragged her onto the York Wheel, but for me it has to be the let down of York's Winter Wonderland. The website promised so much, but it delivered very little.
We called in on 4 Christmas markets during the week, some good and some bad. Our favourite by some distance was the Dickensian experience at Lightwater Valley. We also shopped at quite a few city centres and out of town centres. The best by a long way out of the lot was the Cheshire Oaks outlet in Chester.
Finally my thanks to Nissan, Fuse, Trackworks and the Caravan Club for making the whole experience possible.