BREAKING OUT!


Early in the year we decided to have a three week holiday touring Britain in July 2008.
When calculating the route and arranging various visits it became obvious that we would not cover all the intended area so this year we left out Wales and S.W. England.

Now we propose to start in Norfolk visiting a cousin, then, in stages, make our way to Monrose in Scotland to meet up and stay with friends who moved from Hawkhurst about seven years ago. Then a trip right across to the west coast to one of our old haunts, Arisaig, for a few days. Then a trip down to Huddersfield area to visit our daughter Julie, and two grandchildren, one of whom we have yet to see and he is two years old. We decided we could not miss out our favourite holiday home, Orford in Suffolk, so we will make our way there to finish off our time away.

Needless to say the "Burchett disasters" started immediately.
A while ago I dropped the 'Satnav'and all I can do now is set the route but it wont talk anymore and makes it somewhat useless because I cant drive and look at the screen as well.
However, we managed to leave home at 1.38 p.m. on Saturday 5th July for our trip to Norfolk. With the assistance of the satnav, a printed route from Google, and Brenda's expert map reading we finally arrived at Wicklewood, Wymondham (pronounced 'Windham') but had to ring the owner who told us to drive down a particular lane "and we are right in front of you". At the end of the lane the satnav and the printed route both said "sharp left" so we did. Wrong!! A lady from a house we had pulled up outside got her car out and took us on a detour to the camp site. What a nice kind lady. There are still some lovely people about. Very nice site, big area for dogs to run - and they did, all of them, the first time the puppies had been let off a lead and they had a great time running after a ball with the other two. Excellent facilities too, showers on a CL site is quite unusual. We had electric hook ups as well.

On Sunday about 11 a.m. my cousin David came and found us, we were only 10 minutes away from his house. We followed him back to his home in Hingham, he picked up his wife and son and we went off to The Breckland Lodge and Stag Hotel, Attleborough for a carvery. Excellent meal, as much as you wished, and a vast variety of vegetables.
David dropped off his son, Nigel, and he and his wife Irene came back to the caravan for a 'cuppa' and a chat - far too noisy in the dining room whilst we were eating. They left us about 5 p.m.
After our holiday last year we decided to buy a flat screen TV/DVD player with a freeview box, but we had not used it except to check it out when we got home to make sure it was working, which it was.
Right, Sunday evening, lets watch TV. All set up and eventually sussed out how it worked. About one and a half hours into Midsomer Murders, just after the third murder and a blank screen. The transformer had blown. Checked the fuse in the plug and nothing wrong with that so need to purchase a new transformer to see if TV will work.

On Monday 7th July we left Wicklewood and headed towards Flamborough Head, just north of Bridlington. I had tried to book at two sites in Bridlington, both full so had to make do with one outside the area with no electric hookup so we need to use battery power - early night to save the juice. Still, we can listen to radio and read - till the lights go out!! On entering the site I took the van close to the gatepost, sure I did not hit it, but I did have a bad scrape down the side of the van, noticed some pieces of wood breaking away from the front side which looks all wet and rot. Will have to make a better inspection when we get home, disaster number 3! Not exactly the best of sites, no electric hookups, no waste bins (that we could find) a very large field surrounded by several caravans obviously been left in storage. Only a few residents when we were there. Uninpressed.

Off again, Tuesday 8th July. First we had a bit of a problem getting out of the field because it was very wet and we had been at the lower end. However, we got out, and were on our way to Haltwhistle, near Brampton, Cumbria. As the printed route map appeared to wish to take us round the houses Brenda decided she could well improve on the time which we were supposed to take. We started off well, but then one slight error (which subsequently we found would have made no difference at all) caused complete havoc. Instead of taking the particular road as instructed I continued on my way so we had to find a diversion to get back on track and started going down 'C' roads to go across the outskirts of the Yorkshire moors. After several turn lefts and rights we connected with the correct road to Thirsk. Not true. As we travelled down the A170 we came across a sign saying that caravans were prohibited because of a certain area called Sutton Bank, which was a downhill 'slope' of 25% with a dog-leg halfway down - very unsuitable for a caravan but now we needed to look for a diversion. There were a lot of 'C' roads around but we needed to travel some way before we could rejoin the Thirsk road. We found some but the hills were variously 17%.11%,12%,14%. They were up and down but we made it. Finally we arrived at the site only to find it full even though we had booked in advance. Luckily we only waited about 20 minutes and the owner turned up and when we explained we had booked he was full of apologies and found us a place on hard standing away from the rest of the site, we had our own exclusive electric and water supply and disposal point for chemical toilet. we were only staying overnight but it was a bit annoying. We had a view of Hadrians wall just a short distance away.

On Wednesday 9th we left reasonably early (for us!) about 10.30 a.m. Because the road map we had printed was a bit confusing requiring us to take the M74 and go through Glasgow Brenda decided (with my assistance) to work out our own route and we managed to negociate this reasonably well, we were able to stay mainly on the A7 up to the outskirts of Edinburgh.We went across the Forth Bridge (no toll fees) and then on the M90 and A90 till we got just outside Montrose, when we rang Philip to get a clearer destination. We arrived at Langley Park - it has a very long drive till we found a 'Y' junction and a small bungalow in front of us. We stopped there and were about to negociate a turn round because we were sure we were at the wrong place when along comes Philip. He wanted us to park up on the lawn in front of the bungalow because this was the source of water and electricity. Beautiful view across the Basin immediately outside our caravan window.

Weather not at all good but after we had settled in Philip invited us for a meal. Well, as soon as we saw his house we were blown away. The entrance was fronted with columns and the whole building was enormous. His office was nearly as big as our front room, gigantic dining room with 10 chairs round a table and the grounds were vast. He has an enormous amount of work to do but it will be like a palace when he has finished.
On Thursday we pottered around and had a trip into Montrose and also to Brechin because it was pouring with rain and we could not be shown around the estate in the bad weather. As it happened this did not matter because on Friday the weather had improved and we had a most enjoyable time. Because of our disabilities it was deemed to be very difficult for us to walk round and especially to view his four walled gardens. He supplied us with a ride on hayter mower each, and as soon as we got into the gardens it was really well worth it. They have had to do a considerable amount of work rebuilding the walls which had collapsed, replanting where necessary because a lot of the trees had died, mainly due to rabbits 'barking' the trees, and apparently there were some parts of the garden which were completely overgrown and they had no idea what they would find when it was cleared. Through the woods there were large clumps of foxgloves, both purple and white. We had never seen so many white foxgloves before. There is a gardeners cottage attached to the corner of the gardens which will need some renovating before it is habitable. There is a vast area of woodland surrounding the house also containing loads of foxgloves. He has managed to get his brother to send up some hop plants and he has some of these planted against one of the walls, not thriving too well because they are not south facing but one is on a south facing wall and is going extremely well. He does intend to move them and replant against the south facing wall soon. At the bottom of the drive there is another small cottage, in need of a great deal of repair, and he is in the process of extending and rebuilding this too. Also in the grounds is another building called a Steading which has a series of stables, a centre courtyard, a very large dove cote with battlements and a very delapidated house with all the upstairs floors fallen in and some of the roof as well. Will need a miracle to see that rise from the 'ashes'. It is so sad the see this sort of neglect on a very interesting property.
On Saturday 12th July we had a much better day and as Philip was out we went to investigate the Caledonian steam railway.
Luckily whilst we were at the Bridge of Dun station a train pulled in headed by a diesel engine, about 12 carriages, and the other end was Thomas the tank engine. He needed some help to move all of those carriages. Took some pictures, but not a lot to see as they have mostly damaged and rebuilding carriages in the station area. The line is only four and a half miles long to Brechin. Obviously there is a lot of money needed to assist them in making it a viable proposition. After this we went to the Pictavia - a sort of museum showing the stones and story of the Picts.After this visit we returned to the caravan, met up with Philip and we had a pie and chip supper. Tomorrow we move off to Arisaig.

Weather much improved and we were heading for our best ever departure time but we waited for Philip who was to come and give us a hand, we had best part done by the time he arrived. We said our goodbyes, quite sorry to go as we had found it most interesting and had just started to travel around to find out about the area. It was around 11.30 by the time we left. I set the Satnav so we could see our expected journey although we had decided the route from the map - basically get on the A9 and travel across country till we arrived at Fort William. As soon as we arrived at the first junction the satnav informed us (in a male voice) to turn right. This was quite a shock as we had not expected to hear from the dead! I had changed from female to male voice earlier in the hopes that it would work but it had not done so. Anyway we now had a bonus and we progressed quite well across Scotland in very pleasant weather till we were about half hour away when suddenly the weather changed and we headed into rain. After we got to Fort William and took the road known as the '830' we were in for a shock. This road has many passing places and that is how we knew it but now there are notices showing an expected 83 weeks of road works where sections are being widened and straightened. We understand from the site owner that it will be much better when it is completed and the roadworks is going very well. As usual the trip took around 6 hours with a couple of stops for a rest etc. We think Alastair remembered us but he has aged. Apparently his wife died four years ago and he said it has altered his life considerably.
On Monday 14th we went into Malaig and got some petrol, the price up here is frightening, I paid 127pence a litre on the way from Montrose, it was 123.5pence per litre at Malaig. After a bit of shopping we started on our way back and a steam train had arrived in Malaig so an opportunity to take some photos was imminent. Then we went back to Arisaig to obtain something we were unable to get in the shop in Malaig and we found a rather nice place for a meal which was both reasonably cheap and extremely nice. Back to the camp and by this time the bad weather has set in and we were virtually confined to the caravan. Gave me time to catch up on this epistle and Brenda got on with some of her studying. 12.15 a.m. and time for bed.

Another day dawns, Tuesday 15th July, and the weather has been quite atrocious all night. Reminded us slightly, although the weather not as bad as back then, when we had been camping here in a 6 berth tent with the children. That particular night the wind was so bad that several caravans were turned round to face into the wind. We moved our trailer into the centre of the tent and roped the poles down on to it. We found as many large stones as possible to lay down round the bottom of the tent, although most of them were shifted with the wind when it got stronger.Throughout the night we all had to huddle together inside and hold the poles down to stop the tent blowing away. The caravan dwellers kindly kept us supplied with hot drinks and sandwiches. My recollections are that we were the only tent left standing next morning. All the other campers had left their gear and deserted to Morar and Malaig to take shelter in the hotel foyers.Their tents and saucepans and other items were strewn around the camp site and tents were rolled up in the toilets and buildings.
However, today we are perfectly OK, have had sunshine and showers. Down to Arisaig today about midday to post our homemade postcards (photos taken since we have been away and printed 6" x 4" making them ideal and something a bit special). Then we went into an internet cafe and had a light meal and used their facilities to download another 120 emails (deleted 103 of these immediately). One very important email from our son Nick who spent the weekend at our house removing the carpet in the lounge/dining room and relaying it with lino tiles. He sent me a photo and it looks brilliant. After we had eaten we went to Rhu, a point out on the Arisaig bay, which is a single track very up and down road with a few passing places. Dogs had a good run around unfettered which the pups enjoyed very much. Then back to the van, and by this time we wanted to watch a programme on TV but the weather caused very bad reception so we have given up on that one. At 8.30 p.m. the sea is quite choppy and there is still a fairly strong wind coming in from the sea.

On Wednesday 16th July we pottered around, then to the internet cafe again. Afterwards it was back to the van for the rest of the evening.

Thursday 17th was the day to up sticks and off to Lanark - halfway stage to Julie's home. Again we used our initiative to sort out our own route (still with the back up of the satnav and the print out). Difficult to find but successful anyway. They say 'its a small world' dont they. Well, when discussing our trip with the owner of the site, small area of land attached to fields with cows in, it turned out that he knew Phil Santer because he owned a flat next door to one of Phils' in Brechin.

On Friday we left Lanark and completely redesigned our trip to Holmfirth, mainly because we had further to go we took a chance on some more major roads. Again reasonably successful and we finally arrived at the site only to find that the entrance was a long single track drive. Down this drive we went till we saw a face peering over a wall, stopped and asked if this was Mount Pleasant farm and the fellow said I thought you had gone wrong, you need to go back up the drive on to the main road and turn in the field just past the house. You will have to turn round - maybe you can do it on this corner. I dont know if he spoke Russian but I think it was a Russian comment I made at that moment. The answer was no so I continued further up this drive till I came to a left bend with a house on the right and a drive way down it. I thought maybe I could do it here so Brenda got out to guide me and I started to shuffle the van back till the owner of the house came rushing out shouting to stop and get off the driveway. Brenda calmed her down a bit and I continued going to and fro and getting in a worse state and then a large post office van comes round the corner where we had come from. He stopped to let me back when I had sorted myself out. Just then another car came round in the opposite direction so I am now trapped. With a bit more struggling I managed to get the van far enough down the drive to turn the car away from the wall and point in the right direction. Brenda jumped in and we made our way back to the road, turned right and saw the gate into the site appropriately marked with the Caravan Club logo. A vehicle was coming out so I parked the car and van on the road and went to speak to the car occupants. I asked if we should pull in as I had booked and she said she hoped not as they were full. Well, now was the time to contact the owner, I rang but no reply but she had her phone on divert so I eventually spoke to her and she informed me that we were to have a hard standing site for three nights, not what we wanted but we accepted. We had all the facilities but difficult for the dogs but we found a way and they were reasonably happy.

Now for a weekend with Julie and the family. We left camp for our ten minute ride about 11.45 so we arrived around dinner time. We had a tour of the house, as best we could, because they were having a lot of alterations done. We spent our time in the room which was a basement and now turned into a rather nice lounge with a small kitchen off, temporary, and stairs to climb to the toilet and beds. We met our grandchildren, one of whom we have never seen, and had a great time with them, had to play draughts with Frazer, same as but updated into cybermen and some alien species. Got Malcolm to go off to get a chinese meal after the children got to bed, and this was well enjoyed but we did not manage to eat it all. After lots of chat, viewing photographs etc we finally left and got back to the van about 11 p.m.

Sunday 20th and same sort of problem occurred, we did not make it much before midday but settled in for a meal of left over chinese, lots more chat, and more photos from me as well. We made an earlier exit because of our impending trip the next day and got back about 8 pm.

On Monday 21st I went a did a little shopping and then found a garage so I could fill up before we left. We left at 11.45 for a long journey to Orford. Again we selected a trip via Motorways and A roads because it was another long distance. All went well till close to the end and because of a missunderstanding we did a detour of several miles before we arrived about 6 p.m. Found a place, set up and by just after 7 p.m. were off to the Oyster Inn for a meal. Luxury at last! Soup of the day with crispy bread, Sausages and mash with peas, then rhubarb and apple crumble with custard to finish it off. That was mine, Brenda had Deep fried Brie with salad, Lasagne with salad and garlic bread and a little taste of my pudding. It was a great meal and thoroughly enjoyed. As soon as we were in bed, which was about 10 o'clock we were out for the count.

Tuesday went into Orford to get a paper, more petrol and some food, up to the Quay to eat our ice cream then we took the dogs to the church camp site for a run and to see if I could get a signal on my mobile phone. As we arrived we saw a strange thing happen. There was a Silver Nissan in the church yard and a weird person rushing to get in - looked a bit like Lily Savage, we were convinced it was a fellow with a very blonde wig all puffed up, the tightest of either shorts or a mini skirt, and she/he was scrambling to get in, then drove away in a great rush. As far as we could tell there was only one of them.

We let out the dogs all loose and they had great fun chasing the ball and sniffing round. Then we went off to Rendlesham to get a chinese meal. Whilst waiting I noticed that I had a signal on my mobile so did a text to a friend and he replied. Back in the car and checked for incoming phone messages, only one which was old but it was Karen so decided to ring her. Long chat with Karen and even longer with Naomi, I think she had been in the take away and learned some Chinese as well. Back to camp, big tuck in and then relax. Give me time to update this again.

Wednesday 23rd was a quiet day and we went to Oyster Inn for a meal again.

Thursday 24th We ran out of gas so had to pop down to Orford Garage as, for some reason, I had not replenished one cylinder the last time we ran out. Weather reasonable, we went off to Wyevale to get some dog leads as the puppies were getting a bit too strong and had damaged the ones we already had. Very expensive leads but hope they will last. All chain link but not too big, fingers crossed. Went to Wickham Market for Fish and Chips - excellent as usual.

Friday 25th - last day so we went off to Leiston to get our usual supply of sausages, then returned to Rendlesham for a meal from the Chinese takeaway, and after this we took the dogs into Rendlesham Forest, having at last released our buggies from bondage, took them for a very long walk through the forest and got some very good pictures. In the evening we went down to the Oyster Inn again as they had a Kareoke evening, which was extremely enjoyable and we stayed there till midnight so had to creep into the camp hoping the dogs would not start to bark. Nights sleep then we have to pack up to go home.

Overall it was a good holiday, very expensive because of the extremely high price of the petrol. Also we found it to be quite tiring, I did not take an accurate mileage reading but would reckon that we probably covered about 1750 miles mostly towing a caravan. The journies from any particular camp site were quite local. The weather was not good this year, our best being the time we spent at Orford where it was glorious.
Attached you will see a selection of pictures with titles which can, to some extent, be identified with the trip.
Do hope you enjoy.
The title of this item is 'breaking out' and it has some meaning. Up till now I have always been a Kent person, but with all the extensive building and other problems in the South East sadly I am getting disatisfied with the area. On our journey we saw all kinds of countryside, especially as we made a point of not using too much motorway. There is no doubt that there are many areas that now can knock spots off the Kent Countryside, much of it is how I remember Kent to be with trees, hedges, and small villages. Now we are getting an ugly sprawl, I believe mainly due to the access to the continent, and the governments insistence that we must build, build, build because there is supposed to be much more work in this corner of the country. I probably would not move at my age because of the hastle but if I was 20 years younger I would seriously consider it.


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