Disclaimer ........ What follows is to be read with a very large pinch of salt. It is a sideways look at our time away, and in real life I have the greatest respect and love for my mam and in laws. I do, really.
Monday 29 September
Monday 29 September
We’d promised to take the olds away before the weather turned, but as much as I love my caravan, there is no way in this world that it would accommodate Herself and I, as well as Nana Creaky, Nana Coupons and Grandpa Grumbles for a week. And that’s before we even consider The Savage!
I was tasked with finding somewhere within 2 hrs of home, that was accessible for disabled and would allow The Savage to come with us. It was a big ask, but as they say, “Google is yewer friend!” and within 30 mins of firing up the search engine I’d struck gold.
By 10.30am we are all sat around waiting for Nana Creaky’s carers to complete their tasks before we can set off. I am given a curious looking green box to load up in our car which weighs a bit, and Herself tells me to strap it in on the back seat. By 11am the carers have done their stuff and we have The Savage tied to the back seat in Miranda, with The Olds all piled into Grandpa Grumble’s mean machine.
The journey didn’t start off too well, as we’d not left the village when Herself announces that she’d neglected to give her car park pass to Roids!
We tell The Olds to press on ahead while we double back. With that out of the way I set Miranda’s cruise control to 85mph as we join the M4 at j48 in an effort to catch up with Sterling Moss. I casually ask Herself what is in the green box, she replies “Oxygen cylinders.” I ask Herself why we have the dangerous cargo, and her reply is that I’m a safer driver than Grandpa Grumbles!
I say “I’ve just put my mother in the car with him!”
We catch up with them just west of Cardiff and continue to carve our way through the busy traffic past Clartville. Herself remarks that my sat nav appears to be a little on the large side. I don't know what she means?
I am then informed that we are to take a comfort break at Magor. I say “Magor, FFS, we are not out of Wales yet!” I drop Herself at the disabled bays with the olds, and find a parking spot among the normal people before joining them.
Nana Creaky has it all planned out. She wants to use the toilet, then she wants a coffee (surprise, surprise), and after that she wants to look around Cotton Traders. Herself asks about me, and the reply is that I can sit outside with The Savage! Cheers.
We cross the Severn Bridge and lose the sunshine before exiting at J17 and taking the A & B roads up into The Cotswolds. The plan was to stop off for lunch, but nowhere seems to be open. We resolve to carry on and by 2pm we are parked up at Lake Pochard and enjoying an all day breakfast from the on site cafe.
This place is stunning, and our Lodge has a veranda directly overlooking the lake which is well populated with swans, ducks and a few herons. Out come the pervert’s glasses and camera and we chill for a few hours until dusk.
Nana Creaky is done in by the journey so the furthest we go is to Tesco to get in some provisions to see us through the night.
Tuesday 30 September
Apparently Nana Creaky did not have the best of nights, but I slept through it, so was up at 6.30am to start the coffeeathon and walk the savage.
With breakfast out of the way we make tracks towards Bourton on the Water, described so eloquently by an acquaintance of mine as "Where Londoners go to die!"
As we start to slow down the Savage starts his nonsense, barking and whining! Parking is at a premium, so |I drop off Herself with the Olds while I set off to park outside the village and walk back in. I take the opportunity to have a 'man to dog talk' with the savage and I don't think he'll be whining too much from now on!
This place is like walking through a theme park, it just does not feel real. It is chocolate box pretty, and slanty eyed tourists are taking photos of anything and everything.
We are ambling around this place and I feel like I'm the youngest person on the planet This is Alton Towers for pensioners, with there being more tea rooms per sq acre than any other place on earth.
I need a pee so head off to the public conveniences. I am through the door and bump into a turnstile that wants 20p off me. 20p for a pee???? I'm tempted to jump it but there is this bloke sat there whose sole purpose is to make sure everyone pays.
They are doing a roaring trade, probably taking more cash than the gift shops. Little wonder really with all these tea rooms full of old people with weak bladders guzzling gallons of tea all day!
After browsing in a few shops, Nana Creaky starts to go cold turkey, and we urgently need to find an establishment with empty tables. No mean feat when every one in two people in the village is washing down almond slices with pots of tea while taking in the view of other people washing down almond slices with pots of tea.
With her caffeine cravings satisfied for now we find a bench by the side of the river and watch everyone else sat on a bench by the side of a river watching other people sat on benches by the side of a river.
Unable to take any more excitement we make our way back to Miranda, pausing briefly for Herself to get lost in the Christmas shop on the way.
Stow in the Wold is the next lucky village to benefit from our presence. We bag a parking spot on Market Square and head off in search of a public toilet. We find one, and guess what? Aye, 20p a go. Only this one isn't playing fair and refuses to accept Nana Creaky's RADAR key. 80p later and Grandpa Grumbles is starting to lose it and I'm convinced that if it had gone over the £1 threshold he may have kicked the doors down.
We browse some of the shops and explore a few cute arcades before coming to terms with the fact that we were not prepared to pay the prices they were asking for stuff. With time getting on and belly's rumbling we happen across the Kings Arms. With everyone settled down at an outside table I go off to get some menus. My eyes are watering at the prices and I can only conclude that the tourist model in these parts is ..... extract as much money from them as you can now, because they won't be coming back!
Back at Lake Pochard I take the Savage out for a long walk in an effort to explore some of the surrounding area. A difficult task, as much of it is private land, with barbed wire fencing and padlocked gates with the obligatory unfriendly signs informing you of such.
A shame that so much beauty is hidden away from view unless you pay to join an angling club or either but or rent a lodge in the vicinity.
The swans realise that we are back, and are getting somewhat brave. They come right up onto our decking looking for food and are tapping their beaks on the patio doors trying to attract our attention.
Wednesday 1 October
The sun is high in the sky and I'm up an at em early this morning. My dad would have been 74 years old today id he was still alive, so I want some time on my own for a bit of reflection. I lead the Savage and head off down the lanes until I come across a gateway that is marked up as a public right of way. I take the opportunity to let him run free as we cross the fields and through a few more sets of gates, taking care to follow the right of way signs.
I'm walking along this path when I see someone trying to attract my attention. I ignore him but he runs after me, tapping me on the shoulder. The conversation went something like this.
"Are you fishing?"
I look down at my lack of fishing rod, wellies or landing net and hold up the end of the dog lead.
"Then what are you doing here?"
"What is it to do with you?"
"So you're not fishing?"
"No' I'm walking the dog."
"You've no right to be here, you're trespassing."
"Am, I really? I could have sworn this was á public right of way!"
"Well it's not, this is private land."
"I followed right of way signs."
"You can't have done."
"This is getting boring, I did."
"Ah, I know what you've done, you've taken the right fork, when the left is the right of way. And now you're on private land."
"So you keep saying, mun."
"Yes, Mun. Mun."
"You don't know what mun is?"
"Just like I didn't know this was private land then, coz the path led me straight here and there was no signs or fencing or anything mun."
"Well either I have to open the gate to let you out here or you'll have to turn round and go back the way you came."
I look over to the gate, and just opposite is the entrance to our site. I grunt and walk towards the gate.
"Thanks, and a bit of advice mun, fence off your private land if you don't want people wandering on to it. Mun."
Back at the lodge everyone is waiting for me, so we all pile into Miranda and head cross country to Gloucester Docks. We find a parking spot and head off out to explore. Grandpa Grumbles and Nana Creaky are none too impressed. It's just docks and stuff.
I do however have an ace up my sleeve as we continue through the docks to Gloucester Quays, where Nana Creaky's face lights up as we walk up to a Nero's where she can get a shot of Caffeine. Nana Coupons is also grateful of the rest so she can catch her breath. Adjacent is a large designer outlet, and while Nana Creaky's eyes are sparkling at the thought of all those shops, Grandpa Gumbles is starting to have palpitations.
Herself and the olds head off for some serious retail therapy and I head off to explore the docks area with the Savage. We've been wandering aimlessly for some time, when i catch sight of a large GSGD straining on the leash. Knowing that my life won't be worth living if The Savage gets savaged I put myself between him and the GSGD as we pass. I let my guard down, I did, and while I'm protecting the Savage he takes advantage and pounces on a small Jack Russel terrier that I'd not seen. the noise was horrific and the looks we got from all around was embarrassing to say the least.
I get the SOS from Herself and make my way to meet them. I'm informed that Nana Creaky needs another coffee before we can leave, so Nero's gets the chance to extract another mortgage off us.
We stop for food at The Air Balloon just on the city outskirts before making tracks back. Ty
he sun is out so before going back to the lodge we stop at The Waterside for an ice cream over looking the lake.
When we pulled up Nana Coupons had noticed that the car park was in an orchard, and after she'd finished her ice cream she'd excused herself pretty sharpish. Funny how a short old lady needs help to climb up into a 4x4 but can easily mange to shin up a tree to do a bit of old fashioned scrumping!
Thursday 2 October
After a lazy morning sat around the lodge ......... well not quite that lazy. As I said earlier the swans are getting a bit familiar. I don't scare easily, but these swans are starting to get to me. I've got into the habit of going down to the waterside to throw some bread in for them and the ducks so that the 2 Nanas can watch the wild life. Well, they got a bit more than they bargained for this morning, because while I was feeding 2 swans and numerous ducks I didn't notice the larger and more aggressive male swan waddle up behind me looking for food. Much to the Nana's amusement this swan starts to attack and chase me for the bread!
Cirencester is the destination of choice this today, and after bagging a free disabled spot in the centre of town we set off to browse and tut at the prices of stuff in the shops. Nana Coupons needs to catch her breath and Nana Creaky needs a coffee, so we find a nice pub with some outside tables and enjoy what this Indian summer can throw at us.
Cross country we now head towards Moreton in Marsh. herself and I stayed here a few years ago,but weren't too impressed with the place, but we put that down to the rain at the time.
We rolled into town and were lucky with a parking spot. However toilets are needed urgently,and no amount of 20p pieces will coax the doors open. the pressure is on as eyes are starting to water. I'm busily scanning every building before just saying that way.
Herself takes one look at the Black Bear and turns her nose up. I say "Look mun, it's got bogs, we can have a drink and it's dog friendly."
We pile in and on the way to taking a table The Savage picks a fight with a collie. The look of disdain remains on Herself's chops until we leave.
We have a look around Moreton, and conclude that in fact we had not done it a disservice last time. It is in fact a shit hole.
We head back closer to home and towards the Old Boathouse in the Cotswolds Water Park for an evening meal sat overlooking the lake and expensive property that borders it.
Friday 3 October
End of the short break today, and after packing the cars we are off by 9.30am. Nana Creaky is not too well today, so any thoughts of making a day of it are kicked into touch. Grandpa Grumbles is on a mission. He wants to get her home ASAP, also wanting to avoid and A or B roads and their inevitable bumps. Adding 17 miles to the journey, we join the M4 via Swindon and are home by just after noon, stopping briefly at Magor services once more to boost Costa's coffers.