Friday, 30 December 2016

Getting Mugged in That There London

We do like a seasonal trip up to "The Smoke" - well I do, Herself humours me - but like to stay in the thick of it.  Caravan sites are therefore out of the question (did that years ago so speaking from experience).

Black Friday saw me spending some time on the Travelodge website making the most of their 25% off deal to book a night's accommodation in the capital.

Wednesday 28 December

With Christmas out of the way, and yesterday spent sprucing up Vera using the new valet products that Ronnie had gifted me for Christmas we are up bright and early - well early at least - and on the road by 8.30am in a sparkly clean Vera heading for "The Smoke".

I've also pre-paid for parking in the car park just 5 mins walk from the hotel so not too far to cart overnight bags on arrival.

Traffic is good for the length of the M4 and we stop briefly as Reading Services to take in the unmistakable stench of stale pee and pineapple chunks before pressing on eastwards.

Excitement builds as we hurtle along the M4 towards London as the jumbo jets line up overhead on their final approach to Heathrow.  We're getting very chatty as the M4 winds it's elevated way through the Chiswick glass fronted high end car dealerships and herself starts to brace herself for me in London traffic as we drop down into Hammersmith.

We;d done well time wise until now, but on the West Way traffic grinds to a halt and we are stop start from there all the way to Euston.

We take a left off Euston Rd and follow an armada of taxis below ground to the taxi rank and car park entrance.  Only in London car a car park be deeper than it is higher, and we wind our way down the levels until we find an empty spot to abandon Vera for 24 Hrs (by this time I'm pretty sure there are Tube lines closer to the surface than us!)

Feeling like Chilean miners we emerged into the bright lights of Euston's concourse and the noise of Central London.  Having been mugged for £10 to check in early to our already available rooms we stop long enough to unpack and marvel at the view that our bedroom window affords.

You just don't get a view like this when slumming it in a caravan.  Nor do you get a window coated with diesel soot (on the inside mind), filthy net curtains, a shower that won't drain, an extractor fan that won't extract because it's clogged with slime, a door that won't shut on it's closer and windows screwed shut.  But I try not to be picky!

First task is to secure tickets for a show this evening.  We jump into a cab (Herself does not do the underground and I can't work out London buses) to Leicester Square where we join the end of an impossibly slow moving queue at one of the ticket booths.  I feel like bumping a few off in front of us just so that we can get served a bit sooner.

After an eternity it's our turn to speak to the man behind the plate glass.  It soon become apparent that most musicals are sold out for the evening, but tickets are available for the matinee performances.  We are tempted, but not only do we have plans for this afternoon, but going to an afternoon show doesn't really equate to a "night out" up west.

We persevere and establish that tickets are available for Jersey Boys, so I retrieve my wallet from my pocket before putting my West Walian negotiating skills into practice.  Just before he gives up the will to live we agree on a price and I'm clutching a fistful of heavily discounted tickets for the 7.30pm performance.

With that ordeal out of the way Herself announces that she'd like a drink.  We make the short walk towards China Town and dive into the first pub we see.  Waxy's Little Sister is quite quiet.  Herself and TF bag us some stools in the corner while Roids and I deal with the barman who appears to be recovering from recent surgery to have a bypass operation done on his charisma!

They appear to have an offer on here - pay the price of two drinks and get just the one - and Mr Charisma Bypass didn't appear to appreciate the joke.  We settle down with our drinks and watch the world go by outside the window.

Refreshed, we set off to walk through China Town before hailing a cab to take us to north London and Camden Town.  We've never been before and the closest I've ever got to Camden was watching the Madness movie "Take it or Leave it" on VHS in the 1980s.

We are dropped off in Camden High St outside the market and all of our senses are assaulted at once.  The place is bouncing.  rammed with people, colour everywhere, music blasting from every doorway and the smells of street food filling the air.

First off we browse the rows and rows of knock off and counterfeit goods in the outdoor market before making our way up the High St.  I'm loving it and it much reminds me of what Carnaby St used to be like in the early 80s before it got all posh.

We get to Camden Lock and the old stables.  Here we move from yard to yard browsing the many arts and crafts stalls. We then take a seat at a balcony table under a halogen heater at the Lockside Bar that overlooks the yard containing all the street food stalls.

We watch the world go by and myself and Roids are getting very hungry as the fumes drift up towards us from the vendors below.

We wander back down the High St, stopping off at Vans to pick up a gift for Ronnie who is working and unable to join us.  A taxi is hailed and we are dropped off outside The Royal George in Euston for a meal and a drink (again they seem to have one of these offers on) before retiring for an hour of personal contemplation in the Hotel.

I had a paddle in the shower and threw on some decent clothes while Herself made herself even more beautiful for a night out in London's west end.  There seemed to be some confusion as the taxi dropped us off outside Paul Raymond's Revue bar.  I was all for it, but Herself rejected the idea of a pre theatre drink there, instead muttering something about perverts as she stomped off!

The Piccadilly Theatre was just round the corner, and with an alarming lack of security we are ushered in, where Herself makes straight to the bar.

Mugged we were, mugged, and I'm crying inside as I hand over £27 for two small bottles of Lager, a glass of wine and a Pepsi.

"Do you want to pre order your drinks for the interval?" the young girl cheerfully asked.  I think my sneer was enough and I didn't need to answer.

We spend 20 mins or so being barged by various nationalities before Herself suggests that I pre order some drinks for the interval, to save me queuing!  With my tail between my legs I approach the  bar to part with yet more folding before we make our way into the stalls.  Some git tries to sell Herself a programme, but I gave Herself the "You dare" look, so she politely declined.  Herself is no fool, and when the choice is a glass of wine or a programme, the wine wins every time!

The show was good in all fairness and after a very enjoyable few hours we are spewed back out into the bright lights of Soho.

Soaking up the atmosphere we head off in search of somewhere to eat some supper.  Somehow we end up back in China Town - where better to eat a Chinese? - and settle on Gerrards Corner.  The food was OK, but there again you can't really go wrong with rice or noodles.  We felt a bit rushed though as they were clearing the plates off the table almost before you'd put down the chopsticks.

Time to get mugged again.  A 12.5% service charge was added to an unitemised bill, and to add insult to injury, the bill is presented to you on a silver tray with a piece of paper sellotaped to it saying "Tips Please".

It remained empty.

During the cab ride back we were entertained by an Aston Martin Vantage opening up to full throttle between the lights as we trailed in his wake up Shaftsbury Ave.

We returned to the hotel at around midnight, absolutely shattered after a full on day.

Thursday 29 December

Didn't really sleep very well last night. Our first floor room was immediately adjacent to the cross roads outside Euston terminus.  I'm deaf and our windows are screwed shut, but the 24hr buses disturbed even me -  well that and the security light on the building opposite that shone straight through the gap in the grimy curtains casting a lazer light onto my pillow.

I get up at 8.30am and jump straight into the shower for a luke warm paddle.  I've just lathered up and the fire alarm starts screaming.  I pause waiting for it to stop, but it doesn't.  Herself already has her coat on over her PJs as I'm towelling off the suds and attempting to pull on clothes over my soaking wet body.  I'm hopping down the corridor desperately trying to pull on my Timberlands playing pinball with the walls when it stops and people start coming back in after what was a false alarm.

We then discovered that Roids had left his room key in his now locked room, so a trip down to reception to explain to the non English speaking Easter European  staff was necessary to get a replacement.  Oh the joys.

After that excitement it was time to get a move on.  Finished getting dressed, pack up and check out.  I'd prepaid for my parking, and the e mail that Travelodge had sent me explained that I should get my ticket validated at reception on checking out so that I could exit the car park.

Sound easy doesn't it?  Well it would have been if reception knew anything about it.  They don't have the means to validate any parking tickets.  A heated discussion and showing them e mails from Travelodge get us nowhere, so with a "Thanks for bugger all!" we made tracks to Vera. Herself and TF went down into the depths to check if Vera was still there while Roids and I went off to seek the nice little man that lives in the underground hut buy the barriers.

Eventually we are spiralling our way to ground level and emerge into the bright sunlight of central London.  Herself has chickened out and lets Roids ride shotgun as we head south of the river to Lambeth.  Here Vera is abandoned in the car park under Waterloo station as we hail a cab up through Westminster to the Wellington Barracks.

The pavement is like an ice rink as we join the throngs of people doing baby giraffe impressions while watching a rather shouty Sargent Major bully some squaddies and adjust their belts for show.

We cross the road to the pavement that has seen some sun and make for Chez Buck to watch the changing of the guard.  It would appear that Westminster Council's austerity measures extend to cutting back on rocksalt as the pavements outside the palace were more slippery than the rink in Hyde Park.

We soak up all the pomp and ceremony as troops marched back and forth from the Palace to the Barracks, escorted by armed rozzers.

More entertaining however was one of those joking coppers who had been put in charge of the crossing point.  She ruled it with an iron fist and woe betide anyone who either tried to cross without her say so or strayed outside the stud lines on the road!  Forget your Special Forces and MI6, if you want to keep the country safe, put it in her hands.  ISIS would crumble.

Next up we stroll down through St James Park.  Roids and I join the queue to get mugged for the price of  a few hot chocolate while Herself and TF get accused of being paedophiles for sitting on the wrong side of the fence without having  any kids with them!

Herself then fishes out a bag of nuts that we've brought with us especially for this and spends the next delightful hour feeding the squirrels from her hand.

These creatures are so human friendly it is unbelievable.

Once out of nuts we hail a cab to head west.  We get dropped off outside the front doors of the Knightsbridge branch of Lidl and I'm warned that I'm not allowed to swear when I see the price of things inside.  We ride the Egyptian Escalator to the top floor where TF is on a mission to go to Shoe Heaven.  I have to admit to feeling a little out of place up there trudging around in my Timberlands.

Herself and I don't really do shops, but begrudgingly admit that Al Fayad's corner shop is somewhat impressive.  A coffee stop is called for but we stop in our tracks at the entrance to the one on the 4th floor.  We didn't get to see the price of the coffee but the offer of £13.50 for a slice of cheese on toast was enough for us to turn on our heels.

Outside, we cross the road and grab an outside table at Cafe Concerto.  I get mugged (after a slight misunderstanding on paying the bill) for far too much for a thimble of Prossecco and a pot of tea.

While we wait for Roids and TF we watch the procession of Bentleys, Rollers, Aston Martins .......... crawl by in the heavy traffic.

By 4pm we've had enough and it's time to head west, and I mean proper west, to the other end of the M4.

We love London and the buzz, but wouldn't want to live there.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Bloody Shopping Trip

Herself and I hate shopping with a passion - except that is for caravan shops.  Unfortunately, this time of year it is an unavoidable chore, and the only way we can motivate ourselves to do any of it is to make a bit of a trip of it.

Back in 2012, when I was guesting as a blogger for the Caravan Club having won the loan of an X Trail for a week and 7 night's free sites, we stumbled upon the Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet just outside Chester quite by accident on our return to South Wales from Yorkshire.

We have an outlet like this back home but in all honesty it's about 1/3 of the size with less selection.  Add to this all the other retail outlets in one place and it fits the bill very well indeed.

Since 2012 we've been back every year.  We don't drag the caravan all the way up just for one night stay, instead opting for a stop in the very conveniently located Travelodge.

The hotel was booked in their Black Friday sale, so we had 25% off the room rate as a head start.

Thursday 8th December

An early start today, Herself has a treatment session booked in WWG Hospital for 8.45am, so in the damp darkness I throw our overnight bag into Vera and make tracks to Carmarthen.  On parking up I note that Dick Turpin is doing his rounds in the car park so have no option than to stump up the £1 parking fee.

Herself trots off towards the UV cubicles whilst I settle down in COSTA with a pot of tea.  I also had a pastry for breakfast and did an excellent job of covering my tracks by returning the plate to the counter as soon as I'd finished it.

Herself returns and I'm waiting for the thanks for also getting her a takeout americano when she chirps up "Did you enjoy the pastry?"  I look all innocent and put on my best "hurt feelings" face for show.

I say "How ........" but am cut short.  Herself says "We've been married nearly 25 years, I know you better than you think."

There followed an awkward silence before she added "Well that, and you've got icing sugar all over your goatie!!"


With the rain easing and the clouds starting to part we hit the mid Wales A roads and by the time we've skirted Llandod the sun is burning the grass.

We're just south of Newtown and Herself suggests stopping off for some bacon rolls.  After some very severe arm twisting I agree and in no time we're chomping down on some pig in rolls whilst observing the strange comings and goings in the public toilets opposite.

There appear to be many lone male travellers, all desperate for a pee, but all scared to go into the toilets alone, instead waiting for another to arrive, give each other the nod then go in 30 seconds apart, only to come out 10 mins later, again 30 seconds apart!

By noon we are parking up at the mahoosive M&S flagship store in Elsmere Port.  Within 90 mins we have shopped for the olds and had a drink in the filthy cafe there.  With it still being too early to check in we pop over to Asda in EP to pick up some refreshments for the room this evening and some pastries for breakfast in the morning.

With still more time to spare we park up outside Sports Direct and do some junk shopping before checking into the Travelodge at just gone 3pm.

Travelodges are great at what they do, but my only complaint is that they do not provide anywhere comfy to sit in the room.  This means that you always end up lying down on the bed, which inevitably leads to falling asleep.

A few hours flew by before I'm woken by my own snoring, and from the wet patch on my pillow you'd be forgiven for thinking that I'd been subjected to a waterboarding session in my sleep off Bear Grylls!

After a quick scrub up with some Dettol and a wire brush some decent clothes are thrown on and we head off out for dinner.  We always eat at Coal up here, and it didn't disappoint. We had a superb evening out.

Some time later we waddle the few yards back to the hotel and crash for the night.

Friday 9 December

After a great night's kip (me only as Herself was disturbed by the bottle bins being filled below at 3.30am) we're up and showered and checking out by 8.45am ready to hit the shops.

First off we call into the visitor's centre and present our Travelodge room card, in return we are given a privilege card that entitles us to 10% off all purchases.

I'm dragged around shop after shop after shop, each one adding to the pile of bags I was humping.  At one point I remarked that there were Sherpa's working the lower slopes of Mt Everest carrying less than me !

Aside from the rather painful experience of parting with so much money very quickly, the morning was quite easy, but the closer we got to lunchtime the harder it got, with more and more shoppers arriving.  By the time we're nearly finished I tell Herself that if one more person bumps in to me they're going to cop an unfortunate one!

My wallet breaths a sigh of relief at 1pm when Herself announces that we are finished and I waste no time in hurling the bags into Vera's boot and point her nose south.

The traffic is heavy but some aggressive driving ensures that progress is rapid.  With a few miles under my belt I start to relax and the pain of open wallet surgery starts to subside.

My relief is shortlived though, as we approach Welshpool and  Herself directs me to the car park of The Old Station which has been converted into a retail outlet!

I'm crying inside as we traipse around and Herself seems to have forgotten the £000's that we've just spent op north as she fills the basket like we're just starting out!

Usually the spin back down through Mid Wales is quite enjoyable what with it being a bit scenic, but by the time we're hitting Newtown it's dark and wet.  Driving conditions are poor and the next 3 hrs present me with a throbbing headache by the time we're pulling up outside Travels in our Caravan Towers in the early evening.

A very hectic couple of days.  Would we do it again?  You bet.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Shivering Under Trees in Cheddar

We are having an Indian Summer.  The weather in the UK this September and October has been considerably better that what we experienced in June and July, although I fully expect that to change over the next week or so as we hitch up our wobble box and set off on our Autumn Holiday.

Much deliberation had taken place about the chosen destination, partly due to the fact that Mr Shag had said that him and his significant other would be joining us for the week.

Mr Shag has an additional day off on Friday so they are heading over the bridge a day early.  I will be joining them alone on Saturday as Herself is working over the weekend and joining us late on Sunday evening.

Sat in my office looking out over to the Paper Mill on Thursday afternoon and the sun is burning the grass.  A quick check on the BBC work of fiction tells me that we are due some showers over the weekend, but next week is looking good at the moment.

They'd better be right else our @DerekTheWeather is in for some stick on Twitter over the coming days!

Saturday 15th October

I wake at 8.30am and the sun is streaming through the blinds. It's a beautiful morning, but a text on my phone from Mr Shag tells me that all is not well in temporary Shag Towers in Cheddar.  It would appear that they have no dog leads with them - not good when you have 4 dogs!

In my mind I am playing through the blame argument in my head as I inflate Vera's tyres up to towing pressures, fill her up with fuel and join the early morning geriatrics in Morrisons to get a bit of shopping in.

By 11am I am hitched up and off.  Gwawr is none too pleased that Herself is left behind and doesn't settle for quite some time.  I on the other hand make the most of being in charge of the tunes in the car and we accelerate up the J48 slip road with Madness blasting out of Vera's speakers.

The tow through south Wales is effortless and to the sound of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, and passports at the ready, we are crossing the bridge in  Bright Sunshine.

I know my way to Cheddar but set the route up on TomTom as a mile countdown.  In a senior moment I followed the directions and exited  at J21 with it telling me there were only 10 miles to the site.  All was well until it asked me to turn down a single track road!  No way Pedro!

A quick U turn had me back on the M5 and heading towards J22 and a far more sensible, if not longer route to Cheddar.

I pull onto site and drive past rows of pitches with caravanners sat out in their chairs enjoying the afternoon sunshine, as I round the corner I see that Mr & Mrs Shag have not only failed miserably in their attempts to reserve an adjacent pitch for me, but we are also pitched under the shadow of a bloody great big tree line.

Mr & Mrs Shag are also sat out, but unlike the remainder of the site they are not in shorts and short sleeves. Oh no, they are both layered up and shivering like they've just got out of bed on a Sir Edmund Hillary jaunt!

I don't miss the opportunity to rip into Mrs Shag, as she would have done to me if I'd chosen these inferior pitches. I bag a pitch 2 down from them..

Pegging out was interesting though with bedrock lurking just 3" below the gravel surface.  I have forearms like Popeye by the time I'm done and I only hit my hands three times (which I consider a success).

Typical though, after towing here in bright sunshine the heavens opened just as I'd banged in the last rock peg.

It rained heavily on an off for the rest of the afternoon and we have a catch up, listening to Mr Shag moan about their new awning, and how much it cost, and what was not included that you had to buy extra, until hunger pangs get the better of me and I retreat back to the van to prepare my meal for one.

Lamb shank with cous cous and falafel.

Lovely it was, and after taking the dogs for a walk along the banks of the Cheddar Yeo I take my chair and bucket of Coors over to Mr & Mrs Shag's brand new awning (he's still moaning about it!) and settle in for an evening of talking rubbish and getting corned beef legs off his halogen heater.

Well, Mr Shag got the above mentioned legs as he hogged the bloody thing all evening!

Myself and Mr Shag adjourn to our van at 11pm and Mrs Shag does the sensible thing and goes to bed.  By 1am Mr Shag is on his chin straps and heads off to bed while I have a late night face time with Herself before turning in with the dogs sharing the double bed with me.

Sunday 16 October

It hammered down over night, with the sound of it being made somewhat worse by the fact that I'm pitched under some trees (poor choice of pitch).

I am rarely disturbed by noise over night, but struggled to get any sort of kip, giving in at 6am to light a flame under the kettle before scraping some growth off my chops and having a shower.

I sit around until 9am and with no sign of life in Shag Towers I take the opportunity of a break in the rain to load the dogs into Vera and head off up to the Gorge so they can have a stretch.

My smart phone goes off and a notification from Facebook tells me the weather is to improve, I look skywards to some faint hints of blue among the grey.

With the dogs having had a short run about we pile back into Vera in search of some deserted beach action.

As we bypass Burnham-on-Sea towards Brean the sun is shining and the road is full of caravans that have just been kicked off Unity after the weekend.  I follow the signs to Berrow Beach Car Park, but teh gate is locked with everyone parking randomly at the side of the road.  It would also appear that any hopes I had of deserted beach action were somewhat over optimistic, with every man, woman and their two dogs running amok on the North Somerset sands / mud flat.

It's a little breezy once through the dunes, but we spend some considerable time on the beach with the dogs running their legs off chasing a tennis ball.

With the dogs worn out I make my way back to site in bright sunshine, again making the most of Herself's absence singing along to various rock anthems.

Shag Towers is vacant when I return, with Mr Shag checking in at the nearby reservoir soon after. I take the opportunity to indulge in some personal contemplation time before hunger pangs wake me and I set about preparing my feast for one - well it said two on the wrapping but I gave it a bloody good go.

No drinkies tonight though as I have to return to South Wales later on to collect a precious cargo.

I watch the Scarlets' game on You Tube (on my own as Mr Shag embarked on an effort to sleep the clock around) before setting off at 9.30pm.  Roids is pulling into the services at Cardiff west at 11.15pm with Herself joining me to return to Cheddar.

Monday 17 October

After some heavy rain overnight we wake to blue skies.  As I return from walking the dogs it strikes me how much better the site looks in the sunshine. Though even this early our pitch is somewhat shaded.

As I approach the van the wiff of cooked bacon hits my nostrils, and I'm not disappointed ...... climbing the steps into the van I am presented with two bacon rolls and a mug of steaming tea.  With breakfast out of the way we set up our chairs to make the most of the 30 mins sunshine per day that our pitch catches.

Next up the dogs are loaded up into the cars and we head for the north Somerset coast once more to run the legs of all the dogs.

We park on the beach at Uphill and make our way towards Weston.  We're about a mile from the cars before Mr Shag pipes up saying that he'd seen a sign that we were supposed to pay to park on the sands!

With the dogs knackered we make our way further into Weston, parking up in the multi storey before exploring the shopping mall.  This one is good though and has glass climbing lifts and everything!

Some retail therapy ensures that Herself spends far too much money in a very short space of time for my liking.  Not finished yet though, Herself needs a Pets at Home for doggy bits before Mr Shag needs a camping shop.

We pull up at Highbridge Caravans and there's no evidence of the recent fire.  Herself starts wandering around the new caravans on display.  I join her until she starts fancying some with a price ticket of £29K.

Meanwhile Mrs Shag is having a whale of a time in the accessory shop.  I suspect Mr Shag was enjoying it somewhat less as Mrs Shag came out with a set on monsoon poles, caravan leg spreading feet and a box of screw in pegs.

On the way back to site we stop off at a cider farm in Axebridge.  I think the yokel saw us coming though as he charged us £7.50 per 2 litre poly container.  Conning git!

Still, this should ensure that I sleep soundly tonight.  Back at the van Herself gets into Nigella mode and prepares a superb Surf 'n' Turf for our evening meal.

Mr & Mrs Shag come over to ours as it gets dark and we set about working our way through our booze stash.  Much shanting ensured that the evening flew by, and I was dribbling by the time I climbed into bed at around 1am.

Tuesday 18 October

Didn't stir in my pit until gone 9am.  The dogs are by now sitting with crossed legs and eyes watering.  I feel like I've been in an RTA with a bus and don't feel up to the walk, so they are loaded into Vera's boot and taken to a local open space for a run.

Back on site we have the free range eggs we bought yesterday scrambled over toast for breakfast before scrubbing up and heading off out.

No cars today though, we are going on foot.  We take the path towards Cheddar, but don't get far before Mr Shag dives into a barber shop to have some magic done on his swede.

We wait in the beer garden of a nearby pub, coke only this early, until he joins us some considerable time later.

We amble up through the village browsing the gift and outdoor shops as we went.  Once at the top we do a 180 degree turn and make our way back to site, stopping off for beers at The Galleries Inn, The Riverside Inn and The Bath Arms.

Slurring ever so slightly we return to site and Herself goes about preparing pie and mash for our tea.

I did pop around to Shag Towers to see if Mr Shag was allowed out to play, but it turns out that he's continuing his holiday sleepathon, having taken himself off to bed for the night.

I return to our van and settle down for a nice evening with Herself.  No sooner had we cleared away the dishes and dimmed all the lights in the van that we were caught like rabbits in the headlights.  Have you ever seen the movie Christmas Vacation?  Well, when the adjacent football club turned on the flood lights, Herself and I felt like the Griswald's neighbours in that film.

Wednesday 19 October

Bacon butties for breakfast were taken outside watching the site come to life with us trying desperately to make the most of the half hour of sunshine that our pitch gets every day, before sorting ourselves out.

Destination today is Wells.  We park up in Waitrose, lead the dogs and head off in the direction of the town centre.  We immediately become aware that some are crossing the road to avoid us, or more likely the six dogs we have on a lead between us.

At the top of the high street we reach the square, and we've struck gold, there's a Farmer's Market on today.  Mrs Shag buys a few dog beds while our only investment is aa gift for TF and a swede.  Not really much to write home about, but back home we've been disappointed by the swedes this year, with them being far too fibrous to mash. This one is the genuine thing though, not having been in cold storage for a year waiting for Tesco to put on the shelves.  This one looks fresh from the field, and by the looks of the Farmer woman's hands it would appear that she'd been up the field this morning digging it up ..... without a spade!

The place is looking familiar, and so it should as much of the film Hot Fuzz was filmed here. Around every corner we are looking for a black swan!

Mr Shag wouldn't pay the £28 for daps in the local sports shop as they were a whole £3 more that at home!

We stop off at The Globe Inn for a swift one before piling back into the cars and making the short hop over to Street and the Clarkes shopping outlet.  I scored a new gillet in Tog24 and a new pair of shoes for work.   We meet up with the Shags outside Vans, where Mr Shag has a look of distress all over his chops.  When I clock the number of carrier bags that him and Mrs Shag are carrying between them I know why.

With Mr Shag twitching and starting to have palpitations we head for home.

Herself had put a joint of beef in the slow cooker before we went out, and the smell that greeted us as we opened the caravan door was divine.  Just 30 mins later we have a roast dinner in front of us to set us up for the evening ahead.

With food out of the way and dishes cleared we pick up our chairs and a few gallons of scrumpy and head off over to Shag Towers for the evening.

Mr Shag is already getting warmed up when we arrive so I've a bit of catching up to do.  In no time at all my first 2 litres of scrumpy is dispensed with, and I can tell you I was getting a bit of a buzz on.

I've gone out to water the hedge and when I return, after nearly knocking myself unconscious on their caravan door, I notice that Mrs Shag has brought out their TV.  After a little while In remark at how we will have to come over to watch TV more often as the programmes on theirs are far more interesting than ours (taking in the full splendour of a muscular woman in PVC sitting on a poor unfortunate's face!).

The night flew by and there was much laughter (helped in no small way by gallons of booze).  1 am and Mrs Shag wants to retire, so we adjourn to our caravan for a late nightcap of G&T.  The fresh air did Mr Shag no good what so ever, and by the time he's walked the two pitches to ours the 11 pints of scrumpy he's thrown down his neck this evening are taking hold!  He didn't stay!

Thursday 20 October

After last night's shenanigans this morning was not a bright start.  In fact, apart from taking the dogs out for a walk nothing happened!

At 1pm Ronnie rocks up with FG, as they are stopping for the  night.  Mr & Mrs Shag are not moving today so we pile into Vera and make for the coast.

First off we park up at Berrow and take a walk on the beach, running the legs off the dogs as we go.  It's not nearly as warm as it was when I was here on Sunday!

With knackered dogs we retreated to Burnham on Sea where Herself, Ronnie and FG wasted some time in the arcade.

I don't really do arcades, so while they pumped pennies into the slots I sat outside in the cafe and consumed the largest cone of whipped ice cream imaginable!

From there we head back inland and park up in Cheddar.  Now I'll admit that it was just gone 4.30pm but all the shops had closed for the day.  Didn't fancy cooking tonight so we stop off for a meal in The Riverside Inn in Cheddar.  The three of them opted for various pasta dishes and I went for the healthy option of a mixed grill.

Back on site we settle in for the evening, Ronnie, FG and Herself watch some TV and I fall asleep in my recliner in the awning.  Ir wasn't a late night.

Friday 21 October

After my early night I was fresh as a daisy this morning, I take the dogs for their early walk to somewhere quiet where I will have peace to reflect.  You see, today marks the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster and at 9.13am I am sitting in silence in the middle of a field looking up at the surrounding hills feeling rather emotional.

On my return the others are still sleeping so I set up my chair facing the early morning sun (before it goes into hiding behind the trees that will shade our pitch for the rest of the day!) and watch the site come to life.  I am often asked "Why caravanning?"

Well this is another one of those moments that answers that question.

Ronnie and FG take themselves off to Wookey Hole for some cave action after breakfast and we sit around the van doing nothing.  We get a phone call to say they're almost done so head off out to meet up with them at Glastonbury.

We've been here before, but Mrs & Mrs Shag nor Ronnie and FG haven't.  Glasto did not disappoint, and we spent the next hour or so browsing witches shops and people watching.  It's hard not to people watch in Glastonbury, and we are treated to goths, witches, wizards, hippies and people with horns!

We pick up fish suppers for our evening meals which are devoured before we wave off Ronnie and FG who are returning home.

Another quiet night tonight and I'm asleep by 9pm!

Saturday 22 October

Another beautiful morning as I take the dogs off early doors.  It strikes me how lucky we've been with the weather this week, with just one daytime shower while we were in Wells.

Mr & Mrs Shag are heading for home today, and by the time we are waving them off at 11am our pitch is once again in the shadows as the rest of the site is bathed in sunshine.

We take down our awning dry, although whether or not it will remain usable after the winter remains to be seen, as being cold for the duration of our stay does not seem to be the only problem with our pitch.  Our awning is also covered with tree sap, and by the time we've packed it away my hands feel like they've been dipped in a tub of treacle!

Once packed away we fancied going out.  Herself wanted to go back to Highbridge (just to look you understand).

We spend a pleasant hour looking at awnings and the rows and rows of caravans.  I held out but have been married to Herself for long enough now to know how this works and where this is heading.

Once Herself realises that I am signing no credit agreements today she gives in and we make tracks back to Cheddar to do some last minute gift shopping for the olds.

You can tell that half term has arrived, the place is rammed, so Herself decided that one shop would do before we retreated to The Riverside Inn to eat our evening meal under the canopy being warmed by the infra red heaters.

Back on site we are delayed for a full quarter of an hour while our new neighbours unhitch and pitch their caravan (I didn't lose patience, honest!).  We didn't stop though, just clipping the dogs on their leads and heading for the lane adjacent to the site and over the fields.

Just as we are leaving a hot air balloon comes into sight and loses height as it passes over, giving all a free show.

With the dogs walked we settle down for the early evening, with an old friend for company.

Late on I take the dogs out and it is marked how much colder it is this weekend than it was just a week ago.  No complaints though as this has been the driest break we've ever had in October.

Sunday 23 October

I'm up and out with the dogs at 8.30am and it's a cold wind that is howling down the gorge and with overcast skies it's feeling nippy, so much so that I'm in long sleeves for the first time this week.

Breaking camp day today, but with the awning dropped yesterday we have very little to do.  We are breakfasted and on the road by 10.15am.

Vera's cruise is set to 60 mph and she eats up the miles with  not a twitch coming from the caravan all the way home.  After an uneventful tow we get home in a little over two hours with Vera's on board computer telling me that she's returned a very respectable 36mpg on the tow home.

Frosts are coming now and we don't know when we will get the van out next, so she's drained down and in winter mode in her little hidey hole.

Till next time .......