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Dean & Angela

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2nd-7th December 2019 Cheddar Gorge, Somerset

2nd December

We are really excited about this trip to Cheddar and in particular the gorge itself. The only other gorge we have visited was the Tarn Gorge while we were staying in Millau, France. These are among some of the deepest gorges to be found in Europe so I’m not expecting Cheddar to be as dramatic.

We woke up to a frosty morning and the sun was beginning to rise as I packed the remaining items away that were outside while Angela stowed things inside. This routine we have carried out many times and we are like a well oiled machine now.

We eventually set off and after a nice easy drive of 2.5 hours we arrived at the site in Cheddar.

After checking in at reception we filled up with fresh water then chose a pitch.

One of the good things about travelling around this time of year is that the sites are fairly empty so you have a choice of where to pitch up. This was definitely the case here today. Some people like to be near to the toilet/shower block. I prefer to be nearer to a water point, especially if we are staying for a while.

Once we had chosen a pitch the well oiled machine kicked in, Angela began to sort out the inside and I carried on with the outside jobs. We had a quick snack and a brew before going out for a little stroll.

Cheddar Club Site is situated on the very edge of Cheddar Village and boasts magnificent views of the Mendips and surrounding countryside – an absolute walker’s paradise. Amenities in the village include a variety of shops, pubs and takeaways. Cheddar Caves and Gorge and the famous Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company are all within easy walking distance of the caravan site.

3rd December

This morning was another chilly start to the day so we dressed accordingly when we went out after breakfast. We wanted to have another look around the area and in particular the main road of the gorge and the local shops. Due to the time of year and lack of tourists most of the shops were closed. Fortunately the ones we were interested in were open.

4th December

The weather is being kind to us a the moment, especially for the walk today around the top of the gorge.

Yesterday we popped into the Information centre to find out the best way to get access to the gorge walk and caves. We were advised that it would be cheaper to buy our tickets online which we did. The ticket gives you access to two cave systems, the museum of pre-history and the clifftop walk and lookout tower. The tickets are valid for a year if you wish to return.

We set off with our rucksacks filled with waterproofs, sandwiches, crisps, coffee, water and a few other nibbles. Anyone would think we were climbing the north face of the Eiger! Not the Eiger but Cheddar’s equivalent which is Jacobs Ladder, all 274 steps. Fortunately there are a few seats on the way up should you need to get your breath back.

We began the climb at 10:30am and ten minutes later we were at the top without the need to catch our breath on any of the seats. If you are able to and the weather is good, the 48 steps to the top of the tower are well worth it where you will be rewarded with stunning 360° views.

If at this point you have plenty of energy left you can continue as we did on the three mile cliff top round walk. Weather permitting you could take a picnic to eat whilst enjoying the views. We found a suitable spot on the north side of the gorge and just sat for a while enjoying the peace and tranquillity.

Snacks and sandwiches devoured, coffee and water drank we set off for the final part of the walk where we spotted a few of the Soay Goats. We saw some on the south side and even more on the north. You could certainly smell them if you could not see them!

We eventually finished the walk at 2pm and by 2:15pm we were in the pub with a well earned pint……..of cider of course!

5th December

Cheddar Man

We used our ticket to visit Gough’s cave and the pre-history museum today which was really interesting. Inside the cave we saw the remains of the Cheddar man, a human male fossil which dates back to the Mesolithic (ca. 900 BP, 7100 BC). Excavated in 1903 it is Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton. Also inside we saw where the famous Cheddar cheeses are kept while they mature. The humidity and steady temperature are ideal for this process

As it was near to Christmas there were various displays dotted around which the I’m guessing any visiting children would have enjoyed.

Neither of us have visited a cave for years and certainly not one as impressive as this. We took advantage of the audio tour which made the visit even more enjoyable and interactive.

After the tour of the cave we were ready for some refreshments so once outside we headed for the nearest café and ordered a cream tea which we thoroughly enjoyed.

On our walk back to the campsite we went into the Cheddar Cheese shop and picked up a few items to try later.

7th December

Unfortunately our last day in Cheddar as we are leaving for the New Forest tomorrow morning. We have had a great few days here and we will definitely be returning at some point. Maybe out of season again as we get it all to ourselves.

Yesterday we had a day on site getting all the laundry done and sorting the van ready for travelling so we could have a chill out day today.

We set off from site to walk to and around the Cheddar Reservoir. Great for bird watching with the occasional rare bird passing through.

We didn’t plan on eating out today but as we were passing the Bath Arms pub we could smell fish and chips and could not resist so in we went. While waiting for our meal we chatted about our time here, how much we had enjoyed it and how much we were looking forward to some walking and cycling in the New Forest.

We didn’t plan on eating out today but as we were passing the Bath Arms pub we could smell fish and chips and could not resist so in we went. While waiting for our meal we chatted about our time here, how much we had enjoyed it and how much we were looking forward to some walking and cycling in the New Forest.

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9th February 2019 Brighton

Once we got off the train from France we decided to kill two birds with one stone by having a catch up with our old managers from the then Caravan Club (now the Caravan and Motorhome Club) and a quick look around Brighton before a planned trip next year.

Shaun & Billie were great managers to work with during our time with them at the Brecon Beacons club site. We became good friends and have been in touch ever since we left. Not only did we get on well with them but also we got on with their dogs (eventually) Peggy and Betty. Peggy we won over fairly quickly but Betty took a lot more time but we got there in the end…….I think!

We stopped off at Thriftwood Country Park near Stanstead, Sevenoaks where they have a lovely lodge. An added bonus was that Bruce was staying with them. We met Bruce while he was with them while they were working at the Great Yarmouth site. You can probably guess that Angela and I are big dog lovers.

It was great to see them in their lovely home, they made us feel very welcome and we had a great catch up as well as some lovely vegetarian food.

It was good to see the inside of their lodge as it is something that we may consider in the future!

We said our goodbyes after a couple of days and headed off to the Brighton club site for another short stay before heading back to Oxford to get ready for work.

For some reason we only have pictures of the dogs!

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1st February 2019 Le Touquet, France

Destination:- Le Touquet (Camping Car Park, Merlimont).

2 hours 30 minutes, 133 miles and €24 tolls.

Todays drive started in glorious sunshine as we left Honfleur over the (Cable stayed) Normandy Bridge. This soon changed and became a bit more challenging due to the weather conditions. It was either foggy, snowing or misty.

In recent years there has been issues near to the port of Calais with certain people trying to get inside motorhomes for a free passage to the UK. For this reason Le Touquet is always our last stopover in France before getting the Eurotunnel back to the UK (approximately 1 hour drive).

We know of two other motorhome stopover places in the area that we have used but decided to try this one out.

It is a lovely little site on the coast of France facing northwards towards the English channel with long sandy beaches and sand dunes.

When we arrived the site was covered in snow so we had to drive really slow to get on the service point to fill up with water and again when we parked up.

We went straight out for a walk to the beach and around the village before getting back in the van to warm up and have something to eat.

Tomorrow we will be back in the UK 🙂

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31st January 2019 Honfleur, France

Destination:- Honfleur Aire

3 hours 21 minutes drive, 133 miles and €42 tolls

Honfleur is well known for its old port and is only a short walk from the motorhome car parking area (aire de camping car). We have been here a few times and you have to accept that this aire isn’t great. On this occasion it was the worst we’ve seen it which is probably why there were only 6 vans on. Most of the electric hook up points were not working or if they were the amperage was very low, however its location to the centre is great.

Honfleur is characterized by its houses with slate-covered frontages, painted many times by artists, including in particular Gustave CourbetEugène BoudinClaude Monet and Johan Jongkind, forming the école de Honfleur (Honfleur school) which contributed to the appearance of the Impressionist movement. The Sainte-Catherine church, which has a bell tower separate from the principal building, is the largest church made out of wood in France.

This was a one night stopover so after a quick walk around the old harbour we bought a few provisions and some local cider before returning back to the van.

It is a shame that this motorhome facility is being neglected as it brings in a lot of vans from all over Europe. A majority of them will go into town to spend their money in the local supermarkets, gift shops and of course eat in one of the many excellent restaurants.

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