Southern Tour, 2019 – Brockenhurst (Black Knowl) Week Two…


It’s now Monday 29th July and Joes ribs are hurting. A lot. Plus there’s a spectacular amount of bruising appearing. No more cycle riding in the near future – a gentle walk (lunch at a local farm shop / vineyard) into Brockenhurst and dinner at the Snake Catcher.

Tuesday was another rainy day and we decided to head to the cinema. Just on the outskirsts of Brockenhurst and the TPMS started alerting with a burst tyre – a large piece of granite had lodged itself through the tyre. Joe couldn’t lift the spare wheel nor operate the scissor jack but a young chap loading his tools into a pick-up truck helped out with the wheel change.

Restores ones faith in human nature!

A new tyre was purchased at New Milton Tyres – I’d highly recommend them. Quick turnaround and they popped the old spare onto the burst wheel (the spare wheel, despite being full size doesn’t have a pressure monitor in it) and then the new tyre onto the spare.

Wednesday we caught the train to Totton, near Southampton to visit the country’s only working Tidal Mill at Eling. In the end, Joe’s ribs were such that an Uber ride to Southampton General hospital was the order of the day. No broken ribs and everything else appeared to check out ok. Only took an hour and a half, including X-Rays, much prodding and a few other tests so felt lucky not to be too badly hurt but also didn’t spend many hours at A&E.

Thursday was a visit to Applecourt Gardens. Some nice features in what is only about an acre, including a Japanese garden with some huge Koi carp.

Applecourt Gardens
Applecourt Gardens
Japanese Garden
Japanese Garden Water Lilies

Friday was a full-on day, and a drive to Norden, close to Wareham. Here we would take a trip on the Swanage Steam Railway, stopping at Corfe castle on the way to Swanage.

Corfe Castle
View from Corfe Castle

Swanage railway station is a railway station located in Swanage, on the Isle of Purbeck in the English county of Dorset. Originally the terminus of a London and South Western Railway (L&SWR) branch line from Wareham, the line and station were closed by British Rail in 1972. It has since reopened as a station on the Swanage Railway, a heritage railway that currently runs from Norden station just north of Corfe Castle to Swanage station. It now also runs to Wareham on certain services, but not on regular services due to signalling problems.

Swanage Railway
Swanage Railway

On the way back from the Swanage railway, a slight detour to the Cuckoo Inn at Hamptworth on the northern edge of the New Forest and Friday evening is the return of Tony’s Fish’n’chips.

Stunning location and proper traditional pub.

Cuckoo Inn, Hamptworth

Saturday and we returned to the Eling Tidal mill. Eling Tide Mill has stood at the centre of life in Eling for centuries. For 900 years millers have been harnessing the power of the tides in Eling Creek to grind wheat into flour. Today the Grade II* listed tide mill (c. 1785), surrounding riverside walks and adjacent visitor centre and cafe form The Eling Tide Mill Experience

Ealing Tidal Mill
Eling Tidal Mill

Sunday was clearing up day ready for the drive back to East Devon tomorrow.

Southern Tour, 2019 – Brockenhurst (Black Knowl) Week One…


It’s Monday the 22nd July and a relatively short drive from Bladon Chains near Woodstock to Black Knowl in the New Forest. The Bladon Chains site could ideally benefit from some capital investment but we understand that the site is only leased from Blenheim Estates on a short-term basis.

However, what small limitations existed on the site were totally made up for by the two sets of wardens. Probably the friendliest site we’ve ever stayed on. Nothing was too much trouble – from our early arrival and the help assisting us to choose an absolutely stunning pitch to dealing with our parcel deliveries and any queries. Absolutely the best!

No such investment dilemmas have faced Black Knowl over recent years – the facilities are literally stunning and the location is perfect for exploring the New Forest on the bike or on foot.

Same can’t be said for some of the site kommandants – the friendly wardens at Bladon Chains are nowhere to be seen here at Black Knowl!

Black Knowl CMC
New Forest Cattle
New Forest livestock…
New Forest Ponies…

We’d mostly set up on arrival and the new Isabella awning is performing well and easy to erect. Tuesday night was witness to a massive thunder and lightning show with some large hailstones intermingled with the waves of rain.

Our pitch at Black Knowl
Our new Isabella in action

We also needed a visit home so little to report on until the weekend. Other than the fact a baby seagull has decided to make our porch its home. And the parents are ultra aggressive in attacking us when we chase the chick away.


Saturday was a trip to Bucklers Hard near Beaulieu.

Buckler’s Hard, originally called Montagu Town, was built by the second Duke of Montagu, and was intended to be a free port for trade with the West Indies. Its geography also favoured the development of shipbuilding, as the hamlet possessed access to a sheltered but navigable waterway with gravel banks capable of supporting slipways for vessel construction and launch. Timber for hulls was also readily available from the surrounding New Forest.

Bucklers Hard
Bucklers Hard

Shipbuilding at Buckler’s Hard commenced in the early eighteenth century. A private shipyard adjoining the hamlet was established by James Wyatt, a local entrepreneur and timber merchant from Hythe on Southampton Water. Wyatt & Co. won a contract to build the Navy ship HMS Surprise in 1744, and subsequently another, HMS Scorpion, at Buckler’s Hard. Henry Adams, a master shipwright, was sent from Deptford Dockyard to Buckler’s Hard in 1744 by the Admiralty to oversee the building of these ships by Wyatt & Co.

After the completion of the initial ships by James Wyatt (HMS Surprise and HMS Scorpion), Buckler’s Hard grew to national prominence under Henry Adams and won subsequent Royal Navy contracts. Over the following sixty years, Adams would supervise the building of 43 Royal Navy ships at Buckler’s Hard, including three that fought at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805: HMS Euryalus, HMS Swiftsure, and HMS Agamemnon.

There is also a pleasant short cruise along the river.

Bucklers Hard River Cruise

Evening was a cycle ride to the Royal Oak at Fritham and take-away fish and chips from Tony’s Frying machine. The fish are as as good as any we’ve sampled!

An eventful cycle home with Joe falling off his bike at low speed – landing on the side of his rib cage. Ouch!!

Southern Tour, 2019 – Day 20, Bladon Highlights…


It’s not easy to keep the blog up-to-date every day, particulary after a busy couple of weeks here in Oxfordshire. Tomorrow we head to pastures new so this is the final Blog post wrapping up our ramblings from Bladon, Woodstock. It contains a summary and highlights from the visit not specifically listed.

We started out at the Cornbury Music festival which seems like an eternity ago.

The 12th July was Joe’s birthday and what better way than to end the day watching Morris Dancers at the Cock, Combe. This bunch had travelled all the way from Romney Marsh, apparently not because of the lack of quintessential English pubs at Romney Marsh but because their dances are steeped in the history of the local Cotswold Villages (eg Eynsham).

I think it was just an organised pub crawl in fancy dress with a bit of exercise thrown-in…

Morris Dancing at the Cock, Combe

They even arrived with a wooden mascot of a sheep. There probably aren’t many of them on Romney Marsh either!!

Morris Dancers from Romney Marsh

Later, after we had feasted upon the spectacle of our future promised land post leaving the EU, we hosted a BBQ with Bob and Mandy back at Bladon Chains.

Sunday, Chris and Alison arrived from “Dragstalgia” for a few days in the Costwolds.

Highlights, apart from details in specific postings, were a cycle ride to the Trout Inn, on the outskirts of Oxford, a very nice Indian meal at “Da Ba” in Woodstock and a customary few pints at various local hostelries.

Moe found time to visit Blenheim Palace Gardens, via the public footpath located on the far side of Woodstock.

Blenheim Palace grounds

Saturday was a BBQ at the country retreat of the “Naked Chef” and his partner Mandy. Excellent day out and the food “slow-cooked” to perfection. No need to ask the waitor here to hold back the main courses…

The Naked Chef…

Our neighbours on site appeared with an African Grey parrot. Friendly little chap although I wouldn’t want him to “nibble” my fingers.

He made the loveliest whistling and chirping noises and talked with quite a large vocabulary.

Here he is.


A ukulele band greeted our return to Combe steam mill and the steam engine is in full flow on the third Sunday of each month. We had extended our day pass to be an annual one such that we might return and see everything working. Browse below a selection of photos and videos from today’s visit.







Southern Tour, 2019 – Day 15, Chilling…


It’s been a hectic few days and this morning we said cheerio to Chris and Alison. The usual walk into Woodstock this afternoon but this time across the meadow adjoining Bladon Chains campsite.

It was another warm and basically dry day.

A couple of photgraphs below of the site and our pitch in the distance. BBQ for tea in the evening.

Bladon Chains as viewed from the meadow
Our pitch at Bladon chains

Southern Tour, 2019 – Day 14, Combe Mill…


A morning trip to Combe Steam Mill. We knew in advance that today wasn’t a steaming day but decided to visit nevertheless. Our ticket though allows for repeat visits so if we have time on Sunday, the beam engine should be operating.

Combe Mill is a historic sawmill adjacent to the River Evenlode and close to Combe railway station, between the villages of Combe and Long Hanborough in Oxfordshire A Grade II listed building, it was restored in the early 1970s and is open to the public.

The steam mill and building were part of the original workshops for the Blenheim estate. A watermill originally applied the power to the sawmill but this was supplemented later in time with a Steam Beam Engine such that the sawmill could operate during times of low water volumes.

This working museum is relatively inexpensive and there are many enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers on hand to explain the workings of the undershot waterwheel, the beam engine and the various exhibits.

Compressed Air driven models
Beam Engine
Beam Engine
Full experience???



Southern Tour, 2019 – Day 13, Bourton-on-the-Water…


Chris and Alison have now settled into Bladon chains, along with their “Horsebox”. It is of course a substantial motorhome, equipped with a full size electric reclining leather sofa, air conditioning and a “pull-out” side. Still, at comfortably the highest motorhome on site, it does resemble…

Living the dream

Today we paid a visit to Bourton-on-the Water.


Bourton-on-the-Water is a village in the rural Cotswolds area of south central England. Straddling the River Windrush, it’s known for its low bridges and traditional stone houses. The Cotswold Motoring Museum features vintage cars and a toy collection. Birdland is home to species including parrots, owls and king penguins, plus life-size model dinosaurs. The Model Village is a 1930s scale replica of the village.

Cotswold Motor Museum

Chris and I visited the Motor Museum which surprisingly, did contain a decent collection of vintage cars and memorabilia.

Including the line-up to Reading Rock from 1978. Apparently Reading historically attracted some decent bands!

Southern Tour, 2019 – Day 8, Day at the Gym…


This was really a day off from caravanning. Joe travelled to Newbury for some work related meetimgs and then met friend Richard at the David Lloyd centre in Newbury.

With his Platinum card we were able to pass the afternoon in various swimming pools, jacuzzi and sauna. It’s a bit like a holiday resort!

Evening was at the Yattenden Brewery – home of West Berkshire Brewing Company. Great selection of real ales and lager brewed on the site and some pretty decent American style food.

Give the Chicken Wings a whirl – dangerously hot!

West Berkshire Brewery, Yattenden

Southern Tour, 2019 – Day 5, Great Tew to Bladon Chains…


This was a great driving day. All of 20 minutes drive from the Great Tew park to the Caravan and Motorhome Club site at Bladon Chains, on the outskirts of Woodstock.


Arriving some twenty minutes early, we were at the front of what was about to become a very busy arrival day with some 45 outfits expected. Being at the head of the queue, and with some fantastic assistance from one of the site wardens, we choose a very nice pitch indeed.

Overlooking the meadow to the South West which separates the site from Blenheim palace, we were able to pitch front forwards (they are very flexible about this at Bladon chains) with the awning facing South.

On the subject of awnings, we have been deliberating for some time replacing the Kampa Rally pro 390 with an Isabella porch awning and post a quick phone call to Oxford Caravans, we had one ready to collect an hour later.

So far we are not disappointed with our choice of the Isabella Magnum 400. I was hoping the poles might be identical to those of our large Isabella awning and whilst they are the same technology, there are some differences. Not sure how easy it will be to create a single set. Never mind, as the awning is spacings and beautifully constructed.

Isabella Magnum 400 Porch Awning
Pitch 7 at Bladon Chains

Oxford Caravans were also able to supply us with a new heater vent cover, as the last one was blown apart by a mini explosion at Cornbury.

Southern Tour, 2019 – Day 4, Cornbury Music Festival (Sunday)…


Perhaps I ought to provide a link to yesterday’s blog entry as apart from the bands, Sunday was a close replica of Saturday. Bob and Mandy provided personal hygiene facilities at their country pad, followed by a Full English.

Drinks and a few hours reading the Sunday papers and we were ready for Sunday’s line-up.

Cornbury 2019, Sunday lineup

The Beach Boys headline act was a decent performance from a mixture of old and young!



Cornbury has been a great festival. Nice crowd and very well organised. No long queues to get in, security good but not intrusive and the bar prices and service spot-on. No long queues and with the prices on offer, no requirement to smuggle large quantities of booze into the arena area.

Southern Tour, 2019 – Day 3, Cornbury Music Festival (Saturday)…


The second day of the Cornbury music festival would set a pattern for both Saturday and Sunday.

A crack of dawn start and it’s a short drive to Bob and Mandy’s country retreat near Woodstock. The perfect opportunity to take advantage of the first world shower and toilet facilities, followed by a Full English.

Back at the Campsite around lunchtime for a beer or two washed down with a few glasses of wine before heading off to the arena. Not only is the location stunning but the arena is located downa natural slope providing great views from any location.

This festival is also known as “Posh Stock” and it isn’t hard to figure out why. Not only is it a very “nice” festival audience but eveyrthing is immaculate. No tripping over empty beer cans and food detritus at this festival.

The Saturday line-up was as follows:

Cornbury 2019, Saturday line-up

Whilst not all of the music is to my somewhat narrow genre, a decent set of artists nevetheless. If the music wasn’t entertaining enough, then we were treat to a Hot Air Balloon show.

Cornbury Balloons