Archive | July, 2017

A hot lazy day at Carding Mill Valley, Church Stretton.

8 Jul


Today was hot and sunny. We set off early and arrived at the top car park of Carding Mill Valley before all spaces were gone. It was that busy.                                                                                                                                                                                          

We parked, facing the stream. In fact, any closer and we would have dropped down into it ! A short, hot walk, down to the excellent, National Trust tea room and we purchased a delicious lunch of , what I believe mayy be Waitrose sandwiches and cake. I actually had Shropshire bread pudding and very good it was too. Sultana City !

Back at the Kampa, with roof up and ventilated, windows lowered, allowing a slight cooling breeze and we were set up for a comfortable reading and lounging break from it all.

The car park quickly filled to overflowing. Children were laughing and paddling in the stream. Ramblers and mountain bikers were piling past up the paths and the world was at peace.

We settled for almost four hours of reading and then dozing. I was in my favourite position, facing rearwards in the swivelled passenger cab seat. A tiny and very very cute Asian boy kept telling his Dad that I was facing the wrong way. Three or four times , he looked up at me, his little brown eyes shining with laughter and he obviously enjoyed me returning his grin. Later, I woke myself up snoring to hear “neighbours” laughing at my noisy snorts…. How embarrassing !  I felt that we shared in a huge family day out. Just wonderful.


Another day trip to Market Drayton and some memories jogged

5 Jul

Street Market day in Market Drayton today. Lovely warm, sunny weather, so we jumped in the camper and off we went.

Our favourite, hard working, pub landlord had left his town centre pub whilst we were away on holiday. So, whilst my wife was shopping for grandchildrens’ clothes , I went for a prowl around the Church end of town. The black and white old building is typical of many to be found in this delightful Shropshire town. The postcode is actually a Telford TF13. Bordering Staffordshire, Cheshire and with Wales not too distant, there is a widespread food choice of Midlands delicacies. The Crown was offering a Welsh breakfast of cockles and a lunch of Black Country faggots.I think that the landlady is Welsh, adding to the mix of British food cultures available. Wonderful !

Made from pork cuts, offal including heart and liver, it is somewhat similar to Haggis but don’t say that to anyone from the Black Country (Dudley, Wolverhampton and area) or South Staffordshire. Normally served with peas (pron payes) and mash, The Crown has chips instead. Rich, salty gravy with onion, it makes for a hearty lunch to say the least ! I used to be fed this by my , North Staffordshire, mum to fill my belly in more difficult times. As I ate mine today, with a glass of Chardonnay to toast my Scottish chum, Martin, I bored my wife with tales of mum’s pastry baking and winter busting traditional grub. Cornbeef pie with marrowfat peas and oxtail gravy anyone ?

My little walking  tour took me along to the resurrected Joules Brewery and Pub. Originally from Stone in North Staffordshire, this very well known local brand has many happy followers. My late friend, Tony Dobson, was deeply involved in CAMRA and Joules was one of his favourites, I believe. To those who knew this amiable and popular man, I have a confession to make. His distinctive chipped front teeth were a result of a “Sagan vs Cavendish” type cycling incident when we were very young and very close freinds.

Joules bitter,  always had a distinctive light  flavoured. Low in alcohol and , it has to be said, in former times, low fizz. In a jug from the offy, it was flat. When I was a very small boy and we visited my maternal grandmother and my mum’s great “Aunt”, as evening drew on, one of my mum’s sisters would be sent to fetch a jug of Joules Ale for us all to taste. Once tasted never forgotten. Today’s brews are a must try !

As a personal aside, my mum’s great Aunt , who was always referred to in the family as “Aunty” had been taken in by my grandparents after tragedy overcame her years earlier. On her wedding day, returning from Church, her husband was thrown beneath the wheels of the large horse and trap in which they travelled (yes, I am getting on in years….) and sadly killed. I think that a half pint of Joules was well deserved now and again.She lived to a ripe old age.

From the brewery, I took the steep, winding , Clive of India Steps,  dating back centuries, up to the town’s Church. I got a stunning view over the Swimming Centre towards the surrounding agricultural land.

The centre now has modern facilities and a gym. Decades ago, the original “Drayton” pool was unheated and fed from an icy watercourse. It was bracing to swim there. Not for the faint hearted. As cold as the Scouts’ plunge pool at the Kibblestone Campgrounds near Stone. Not far from the original Joules brewery as it happens. Taken home by slow, MG Magnette, myself and cousins, wrapped in damp towels and no working heater in the car, we would fall into a cold induced “coma” as soon as we were fed and warmed back to ambient temperatures!

I returned to the shops , passing Church Lane and it’s quaint row of terraced cottages. As I passed the pub shown above, I remembered using the old route directly through the town, when as a twelve year old, I was chauffered by my late father, to Prees Heath. Almost very Sunday, I would test out my Villiers engined Kart and my mum’s nerves on the disused airfield. Other weekends we would watch Kart racing at the Lion Kart Club based at what is now the Barracks and helicopter airfield. Wonderful ! I may do a post on all this another time.

Getting around when pitched up and a hint of what is to come from VW.

2 Jul

Martin has family links in the leisure vehicle market and sent in these photos of a 3 wheel scooter intended as comfortable transport when leaving a motorhome on-site. I believe that it is 150cc capacity and should provide economical and comfortable runabout capability.

The little transverse trailer looks very much like a towing dolly that we used to use behind one of our bigger previous motorhomes. It carried a small car, front wheels off the tarmac with the car’s rear wheels running on the road. Our car and dolly combined were less than 750kg. Incredible for a little 4 door , automatic, 660cc , 3 cyl Suzuki. Now, we are more than happy to take just our cycles with the campervan.

I am very impressed with this setup. Ideal if for any reason you wish to leave the motorhome on-site.

We only took a measured 20 minutes to clear away breakfast, secure the interior contents, unplug the EHU and head to town in any of our previous van conversion and motorhomes. Driveaway awnings can be easy and quick to disconnect. Our last one uncoupled by sliding out a figure of eight sectioned plastic rod.

Martin also prompted the following. I hope that VW have pur behind them their “enhanced” diesel pollutant specifications and the mileage claims for their all electric 2018 Transporter are genuine.

I have to say that the 2018 VW Transporter looks fabulous. Very much reminding me of the early Microbus variants, evocative and desirable. A stunning new concept. Thanks Martin !