That time of year again when Herself and I take off for a week with the olds – Creaky, Grumbles and Coupons, with the Savage in tow. Not a caravan break, but usually in a lodge and usually in the West Country somewhere.
Finding somewhere suitable (disabled access, bedrooms all on one floor and savage friendly) that does not require a second mortgage to be taken out is not a task for the faint hearted. Have you seen the prices they charge for lodges these days, even out of season?
Monday 20 June
I developed a chronic ear infection over the weekend the ear that I usually wear my hearing aid. The end result of which is my not being able to hear a bloody thing, as well as being in a bit of pain. Herself is firmly of the opinion that This is a deliberate ploy so that I do not have to listen to Grumbles ranting about …… Well, everything really.
A phone call to the Doc at 8.30am yields the promise of some antibiotics by 12 noon, and with those collected we pick up Coupons and head over to Grumbles so that we can start the mammoth task of loading up all of Creaky’s kit. Somehow Vera (including a roof box) gets stuffed to bursting point with a wheel chair, clothes for 3 people, 5 oxygen tanks, and oxygen making machine, enough food to feed Ethiopia for a week, a bag of stuff for the Savage, a bed for the Savage and a blanket for the Savage in case he gets cold. Oh and he gets to travel with us too. All this on top of Coupons' walker, wheelchair just in case, a suitcase and two bags of food.
Vera’s suspension is loaded heavier than when we hitch the van to the back! Grumbles throws a few light hold-all onto his boot and we’re ready for the off by 1.15pm.
Once on the M4 Herself does some Googling and we punch in the coordinates of somewhere for lunch in Newport to break up the journey.
Pulling into the car park of the Toby Carvery at Cauldra starving and once seated I set out on a mission to load my plate as high as possible (it got to the state that it really should have been a two man lift) and washing it down with a few gallons of Pepsi Max (free refills).
Back on the road and the M4 and M5 are flowing freely. We get a concerned phone call from our accommodation at 4.45pm asking our whereabouts and we promise that we’ll be with them in 5 mins.
Except that my TomTom announces our arrival outside a primary school. We check the postcode that I’ve inputted and no human error has been found so we carry on,and on, and on.
Eventually we are pulling into Wall Eden Farm with collective sights of relief. Grumbles bags the space right outside the lodge and I get to park Vera some distance away. I know he has Creaky on board but I’m loaded up with as much kit as a 40t HGV.
The lodge is very nice and while Herself unpacks I go off with the Savage for a bit of an explore. They loan out canoes to use on the adjacent river, they have a shooting gallery, archery, a sauna, hot tub, table tennis and pool tables here – all housed in a series of ramshackle buildings (one made of bales of hay). I think the words best used are rustic and charm.
I suggest a short spin out and we head on into Burnham. I don’t know when this place looks it's best. When the tide is out and the mud is exposed, or when the tide is in and the water is a muddy brown?
The olds dive into the arcade armed with tubs of 2p pieces and I take the Savage fro a stroll along the promenade before banging him up in Vera’s boot and taking Creaky for a hot chocolate (she doesn’t like arcades).
Grumbles comes out after some time, with more 2p pieces than he went in with and a pocket full of cheap and tacky key rings – he’s emptied the penny falls!
A few bags of chips are purchased on the way back to go with some pasties that Herself had picked up in Jenkins before we left for our supper.
Wildlife is free to wander on the site and the smell of the chips ensures that we have company at our lodge. Nasty gits they are too!
Tuesday 21 June
We wake to overcast skies and my ear is throbbing constantly. Herself is in charge of breakfast so we all feast on toast.
Creaky isn't feeling too great (hardly surprising seeing that she spent last weekend in HMP Prince Phillip being treated for a blood clot on her lung, So Coupons and I set of to visit relations who live nearby.
After an hour or so of being mauled by their cross Great Dane / Rottweiler we return to the lodge where Creaky has perked up enough for us to venture out.
Herself suggested some shops, so that Creaky (who will now be having QVC withdrawal symptoms) can get a shopping fix. Grumbles starts to get the cold sweats as we pull into the car park of Clarks Shopping Village in street.
We make straight for M&S where Creaky starts to empty the racks of cardigans and PJ sets into her basket. As one point I though that Grumbles would have to be carried out on a stretcher, but he managed it in the end unaided.
Once finished with M&S Creaky loses interest in visiting any other shops, and while Herself and I make very brief visits (thank the Lord) to Superdry and Asics, Grumbles gets dragged off for a coffee.
Herself joins them while I get to accompany Coupons around the remainder of the outlet. Coupons is a very thorough shopper, and every rack or shelf in every shop gets examined.
Our parking ticket is running out and we all meet up back at Vera. Herself announces that Creaky isn't feeling very well so we will have to return to the Lodge. When we get back it's still early doors and I borrow a BBQ from the barn' fire up some coal and start to cremate some meat whilst sipping a can of Coors in the sunshine.
Wednesday 22 June
I didn't have a very good night last night. The infection in my lughole was giving me some severe gyp that required taking pain killers at regular intervals through the night. Though even with that I still had a better night than Grumbles who was up at regular intervals to make coffee for Creaky and was then back up at 7am to take the Savage out for a walk!
I was in charge of breakfast this morning so a full on fry up was produced before we headed off out for the day. Creaky was feeling a bit better so I thought we'd venture a little further afield. Also wanting to do something that Grumbles would enjoy, I suggested the air museum at Fleet.
We've just coughed the eye watering entry fee (including two free as carers) when Creaky starts to feel ill. Herself tells Grumbles to carry on and look round saying that She'd catch us up.
All of a sudden Coupons is keen to have her picture taken by one of the helicopters on display, but will not divulge too much, other than it's for WI.
We whizz round the displays, spend time on the mock up of a flight deck, and a tour of the mock aircraft carrier before leaving on the promise of a coffee for Creaky in the cafe just outside.
For some unfathomable reason the staff refused to make a piece of dry toast to help Creaky with her nausea as it was gone 2pm and it was against their rules. So we walked,
The day got worse as when we returned to the car, Creaky's oxygen system decided to throw a wobbly, and the limiter would not play ball. the only option now is to connect her tubes direct to a full cylinder. Bingo, she now has air. One snag though, without the limiter the cylinder will last for just 1/2 hour.
No pressure there then!
As we hurtle along the A and B roads we pass miles and miles of stationary traffic heading the other way towards Glasto. A text to my niece confirms that she is stuck in the queue we passed and had been for 7 hrs!!
Having dropped off Herself and her olds at the lodge I take Coupons back out in search of a Cider farm. Not really a tall order in these parts, and withing 5 mins I have her striding through the door of Rich's Cider Farm near Edithmead, purse in hand at the ready.
As I said earlier, Coupons is a very thorough shopper, and I'm losing the will to live as she fills a basket with jams, chutneys, pickles and scrumpy to the value of over £60. This woman can shop.
Again she is insistent on having a photo done, but is no more forthcoming with a reason as to why.
Back at the lodge tea is a simple affair of chips with whatever we have in the fridge that needs eating.
I dose myself up with pain killers and have an early night.
Thursday 23 June
Herself is doing breakfast this morning, and a choice of scrambled eggs or Gypsy toast is offered. With that consumed, and Creaky feeling OK we cease the moment and head off out. Herself suggests shops so I point Vera's nose in the direction of Cheddar first with the intention of moving onto Wells later on.
We drive through the Gorge and Coupons asks if we can stop for a picture. I've given up asking for an explanation, so just oblige. We pull up at a rock face just as an instructor was staring his safety briefing to a tour group. Coupons lifts the rope and enters the cordoned off area, interrupts the instructor, and in no time at all is striking a pose in front of the cliff wearing his hat that she's had off him. he was gobsmacked!
We do a U turn and park up, coughing the kings ransom of £5 to park up. Herself whizzes round the Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop with Creaky and Grumbles before interest is lost and she is dragged off for toilets and a coffee shop.
I have the joy of accompanying Coupons as she examines every shelf in every shop as we climb the hill.
On the way back down I sit outside the all year round Christmas shop with the savage whilst the others buy some Xmas decs for our trees (in June mind) at eye watering prices. We get back to Vera and the roof box is loaded up with purchased goodies while Herself suggests that it would be too much for Creaky to go to Wells too.
I suggest a spin to Weston grabbing a meal on the way to save us cooking later on. We pull into a pub car park that has signs galore promising food all day. We all exit Vera - no mean feat with wheel chairs and oxygen tanks - and head on into the pub.
The goon behind the bar cannot see our problem that they don't start serving food until 6pm when the sign outside promises an all day service, and is a bit taken back when we refuse to buy drinks.
We hit the outskirts of Weston Super Mud and scream into the car park of the nearest chain Gastro pub we can find. It was a Marsdons, and they can be hit and miss, but this one turned out to be tidy, except that the coffee was too strong and there was not enough plaice in the plaice and chips!
We head back to the lodge via the sea front in Weston and begin to pack up in readiness for an early departure in the morning.
Friday 24 June
My lughole must be getting better as I had a decent nights sleep for the first time this week. I wake at 5.30am to the devastating news (depending on your viewpoint) that the UK has voted to leave the EU. I predict a very difficult 5 to 10 years for this country, but am praying that I'll be proved wrong.
Herself throws together some bacon rolls which are wolfed down. Somehow I got left out of the tea and coffee round, but I'll forgive her as she has a lot on her mind.
Coupons has been rather taken with the "Glamping" pods they have on site, referring to them continually as "Hippie Huts" and is keen to have a picture taken in front of them.
Apparently I am to be provided with an e mail address to which all pictures are to be sent for a mystery purpose.
Vera gets loaded up to the point of breaking her suspension, Grumbles empties more of his boot into her back seat to lighten his load, and we're posting the lodge key through the letter box of reception before 9am.
I miss my caravan on trips away with out it!