Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmas trip


Monday 15th December, 2015.

Thought we would have a last trip of the year away.  We decided to go to Edinburgh and see the Christmas market and get in any last minute presents.  Also we thought we would have another trip to the zoo to see our favourites - the panda’s.

We set off bright and early on Monday the 15th of December.  First stop put some fuel in. Oh dear for some reason while filling, the pump didn't recognise that the tank was now full and instead of cutting off spurted diesel out of the neck, how it didn't cover me I don't know but my hands and keys had a not so lovely coating of diesel!  After cleaning up we set off.  Taking the A1 all the way up then heading around Edinburgh on the east side via Leith and the West Granton Road. Last time we went in via the west side.  Traffic was heavier but nothing too bad.

We arrived about 1pm  to a very warm welcome from the wardens at the Caravan Club site at Edinburgh.  Half the site was closed and while there we saw about 15 pitches in use. This was all going to change next week as they said they were nearly full for Christmas and New Year. 

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Weather wise we had been lucky.  Cold but bright and breezy on the way up compared to the previous days when it had been raining and very windy.  In fact we only had bad weather on one day and during the nights.

Tuesday or Zoo day

16_12_2014-10_00_02-6031Edinburgh Zoo  16_12_2014-09_59_44-6029Edinburgh Zoo

We booked a taxi to take us to the Zoo for 9am opening.  We didn’t fancy getting up early and bus hopping so took the easy option.

We arrived at the zoo. We were lucky again with the weather, very cold but dry. We found it a great time to go as the animals had  just had breakfast.  Plus it was very quiet so ideal for quietly  observing. We had booked a slot for the Panda viewing but as it was so quiet they said we could just keep calling back to see the Pandas in their indoor enclosures . Some of the animals had been moved so they could update various enclosures.

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 16_12_2014-10_22_14-6081Edinburgh Zoo

No they haven't had a baby, its Peter one of our Pandas.

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Looking for lunch!

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We had lunch in the cafeteria  which was very tasty and reasonably priced.

We stayed till about 3pm then decided to catch the bus in to the city.  The Christmas Market looked fabulous – all lit up at dusk. It was really well laid out and not too busy so you could actually get to look at all the stalls. There were plenty of food and drink stalls also and the air was full of tempting aromas of mulled wine and Bratwurst. There were rides and ice skating if you needed a break from shopping.


16_12_2014-15_49_50-6194xmas fair  16_12_2014-15_59_52-6210xmas fair

16_12_2014-15_59_09-6206xmas fair  16_12_2014-16_04_22-6217xmas fair

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We headed back in to the city but to be honest we were fairly tired and aching from all the walking yesterday.  Not only is the zoo hilly but so is Edinburgh.  We set off to catch the bus but when we got to the campsite reception the minibus (luxurious people carrier) was there. So rather than walk to the bus stop we got on and booked for picking up at 5pm. The minibus dropped us at the bottom end of Queen street and also picks up from there.

We looked around the Xmas market again and then headed up towards the shops on the Royal Mile. We didn’t go round the castle as we have visited before. Also by now the muscles where complaining and it was only midday.  We decided to head back in to the city to get some lunch then head back to Monty for a rest.


20141217_131634_HDR  17_12_2014-11_20_33-6237Edinburgh


Rain today and cold plus quite blustery so we decided to stay in and catch up on “24”




Early start as we were leaving Edinburgh and heading back down to York  and stopping a few nights at the Rowntree caravan club site.  For our return journey  we reversed our route and had a non eventful trip except for the first 10 minutes when no water was coming through to clear the wind screen.  10 minutes later I realised  I was pushing the info button on the stick and not the washer button. OMG!!

After turning off the A1 and on to the A59 we noticed that the rivers were high and joked that I should have rung and checked the site was still open with it being right next to the river.

On arrival we noticed the river Ouse was indeed very high, in fact the highest we have seen it.  Again a very friendly welcome at reception who were all in Christmas spirit. One of the wardens carried out his chores dressed in a Father Christmas suit! We had to leave a mobile number as the site was on flood warning till midnight in case of need to evacuate! Thankfully this never happened.  We popped in to to York and another Christmas market was set up, but on a lot smaller scale to the Edinburgh market.  We noticed how busy York was compared to Edinburgh and put it down to the fact that because Edinburgh is so big it seems quieter.

That night we decided on our favourite choice of meal while at York, an Indian takeaway from Lal Quila on Bishopthorpe Road. Located out the back gate of the club site.  



We walked back in to York to look around for any last minute gift ideas.  As we came back to the site we admired the many lights, trees and decorations that some of the caravans and motorhomes had brought for their Christmas stay.



Leaving day to return home and get ready for the Christmas festivities. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Friday 19th September – Southport

19_09_2014-10_00_05-3633Southport Esplanade

We awoke to blue, sunny skies which was fantastic as the promised Indian Summer hadn’t reached us at home and we had spent the last few days waking up to fog that refused to shift throughout the day. Here it was hot, hot, hot! Time to dig out sun cream, hats and sunglasses again – Hooray! We breakfasted then set off for a walk.Lots of units were departing making room for the 98 that were expected to arrive today. We crossed the sand dunes and the road and walked along the esplanade towards the pier.

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Although it was quiet, preparations were in evidence ready for the air show. Barricades and security were closing roads and only letting vehicles through that were setting up. Fast food vans were in a row on the beach and a large area of the beach was barricaded off. in the distance it looked as if a tractor was preparing a landing strip on the beach.

19_09_2014-10_01_33-3635Southport Esplanade

There is a Pleasure Land with some rides for children and Ocean Plaza which is a shopping centre with restaurants, fast food and a cinema nearby. We headed up the stairs from the Esplanade. The pier was closed in preparation for the Air show (tickets to view from there are £60 a head) but we could still walk the opposite way towards town. It appears that usually there is a tram that runs back and forth along here.


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This is a nice area with a couple of cafes, a large children’s play area and a boating lake with swan paddle boats alongside real swans and ducks. Heading into town there are amusements, gift shops and typical seaside shops and then the main shops seem to be down a long straight road. The weather was too nice to be wasted looking at the shops so we did a quick food shop and then headed back to the site. A queue had formed along the road of caravans and campers waiting to check in at 12 o’clock.

Taking advantage of the good weather, out came the Cadac and we used the Skottle to make a delicious chicken and noodle stir fry. Whilst we were eating we could hear an airplane practising manoeuvres along the beach. We got chatting to a couple who are regular visitors to the area and the show and they directed us to a board in the dunes with information on Southport beach airfield history. The dunes that we were standing in had previously been an airstrip! In 1910 aviator Claude Grahame-White arrived unexpectedly at Southport, landing his biplane on the beach. This led to an airstrip being made and by 1919 pleasure and scheduled flights flew from a sand strip near the Birkdale Palace Hotel. In the 30’s there was also a flying school. In the 70’s the  airstrip was moved seaward to allow the building of the coastal road but mud patches plagued subsequent pleasure flight operators until in 2001 the Civil Aviation Authority declassified it.

The couple also told us that the crater in the sand dunes that had a small puddle in, was usually a large pond full of local wildlife and newts. Obviously the weather here had been good all summer. Fingers crossed it lasts for a few more days for the show as we were told that last year’s poor weather had resulted in Sunday being cancelled.

At about 4.30 we could hear a helicopter so we climbed onto the sand dune and watched 2 helicopters practising. They were amazing! If this was just a taster then tomorrow was going to be fabulous. 



FlyingTimesSAT    FlyingTimesSUN

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Thursday 18th September – off to Southport


With our wedding anniversary approaching and having half empty nest feelings (one daughter headed off to university) we were really looking forward to our Southport Airshow weekend. We had decided to make it a long weekend so having finished work early, we set off in Monty at 2.30. After a 2 hour drive on the A59 we arrived. First impressions driving through were very favourable. Lots of shops and eating places to choose from. We were staying at the Caravan Club Southport Site and were warmly welcomed by friendly wardens. There were only 3 pitches left to choose from which made life easier. Are we the only ones that find choosing a pitch difficult when given too many to choose from? We sometimes drive round twice to decide! If the weather is poor we site closer to the toilet block so it’s only a short dash in the rain. If the weather is sunny we find ourselves wondering which pitch is the best to catch the evening sun… Anyway pitch easily chosen, we quickly set up. It is quite a large site 190 + pitches. As with all Caravan Club sites the facilities are modern and clean with 2 toilet blocks. There are lots of cute rabbits here. The site is situated on the Esplanade. You cross the road, climb through the sand dunes and then you can see the sea although the tide is very far out. It was really warm and sunny so we sat out for a while, had tea, watched a film and then had a good nights sleep.

19_09_2014-11_39_41-3656Southport CC site 34

19_09_2014-11_40_00-3657Southport CC site 34

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Thirsk Race Day– 29th/31st August


We finished work early and headed off to Thirsk at lunchtime. It was race day and when the races are on the Caravan Club site is used for race goers parking.





Whilst this is happening caravans and motorhomes move up the lane on to a rally field.



This has a superb view across the race course and is only 10-15 feet away from the track. After parking up we walked to Tesco and bought a picnic lunch to enjoy in the motorhome. (Both Tesco and Lidl are very close to the site).

29_08_2014-17_56_49-3579Thirsk Race Course


29_08_2014-17_56_51-3582Thirsk Race Course

The races started at 2 pm and although most of them were on the other side, 2 of them started from right in front of us! For horse lovers there was also an opportunity to see the horses being walked to and from the races. The last race was at 6pm and at 7pm Graham the warden cycled up to tell us that we could all now move back onto the site. In organised single file we headed down the lane and onto our pitches. It is amazing how quickly the wardens transform the site back from car park to spick and span pitches again. This site is always very clean and tidy thanks to the hardworking wardens who are also very helpful and friendly.


After setting up we headed into Thirsk (10 minutes walk) and ate at Weatherspoons. We were lucky to get a table as it was still quite busy with the folks who had enjoyed an afternoon at the races. We had a nice meal and it was quite dark as we walked back. The nights are really starting to draw in! There are lots of pubs to choose from in Thirsk and plenty of takeaways – we counted 3 Chinese, 2 Indian and 2 fish & chip shops which is very impressive for a small market town.

It rained in the night but we woke up to a sunny day although it was quite blustery. After breakfast we walked back into town. There is a small market on Saturdays. Near the clock tower there is a really good fruit & veg shop. After making our purchases in town we went back to the site.

We unhooked from the electric and set off on a little trip up the A19 to Mount Grace Priory which was a 20 minute drive away. After leaving the dual carriageway the approach road was just a single track with a few passing places so we were relieved that we didn’t meet anything.



30_08_2014-11_38_27-3586Mount Grace Priory   20140830_113337_HDR

This is an English Heritage/ National Trust property so we got in free on our card otherwise the entrance fee is £5.60 per person. It is a 14th century Carthusian priory ruin and manor house. The Carthusians were a vegetarian and silent order of monks. Each monk lived in a “cell” and received their meals through a hole in the wall. The ruins of the priory still clearly show the layout.One of the “cells” has been reconstructed and furnished to show what life was like for them.

30_08_2014-12_30_12-3605Mount Grace Priory 

30_08_2014-12_29_33-3604Mount Grace Priory

Their cells were actually a very spacious 2 up 2 down arrangement complete with their own garden to work in. I could comfortably live there but would struggle with the vow of silence! The priory had a very clever water system and you can still see the drainage and latrine channels. It was very peaceful here. There are picnic tables if you wish to bring a picnic. The priory is home to stoats but we didn’t see them.


30_08_2014-12_32_54-3608Mount Grace Priory

30_08_2014-12_10_55-3589Mount Grace Priory

The manor house has an exhibition and lots of information about the priory and also 2 rooms are decorated in the arts and crafts style. To the front of the manor house is a nice garden to wander through with a pond.

After an enjoyable and interesting afternoon we drove back to Thirsk and had a relaxing evening.

The next morning, the wind had dropped and it was a warm, sunny day (why is the best weather always when you have to go home?) and after a pleasant morning we set off for home.

Thirsk Caravan Club Site link