End of the Indian Summer trip, 2020


Friday was a lazy day with Moe having a migraine. Fortunately by Saturday this had cleared-up and we headed to Wareham and the Ape Rescue centre, Monkeyworld.

Our daughter and partner had bought tickets for us all last Christmas so this was a perfect opportunity to visit the centre. The weather was dry and sunny but wickedly cold. All of the outdoor exhibits were open but no indoor ones and masks had to be worn at all times.

Some of the great un-washed clearly deemed this to be optional but not for the four of us.

The four wise Monkeys, Joe, Moe, Carlos and Dr Sue

Sunday we had an outside table booked at the Oak Inn near Lyndhurst. It took an hour and a half to cycle, mainly off road with the exception of the last mile which was along the busy A35.

The route back was via Brockenhurst and pretty much totally off-road. I’d remembered to activate “Map my ride” for the return journey so our return route is below. Another very cold day with a strong Northerly wind.

Cycling in the New Forest
Rout back from the Oak Inn, Lyndhurst

Monday we returned to the Jolly Sailor near Hamble-le-Rice to meet my ex business partner for lunch. The weather is much warmer and it was very pleasant alongside the banks of the River Hamble.

We packed up in the late afternoon and headed back to East Devon on Tuesday morning. The van needs a clean and then it will be put to bed for the next 6 months. We have already booked many trips for next year but expect we will cancel Christmas and New Year at Hillhead (Brixham). Without the chance to visit the local pubs and restaurants, we have decided to remain at home. Still, we have several building projects all part-completed so lots to do.

Until 2021…

From Hamble to the New Forest, 2020


One can almost see the New Forest from Hamble, just a short distance across the Solent but it still took an hour and a half to drive the 30 odd miles from Hamble to the New Forest Centenary Club site, part of the Caravan and Motorhome club.

We had one last day in Hamble (Monday), another gorgeous day but approaching the final embers of our Indian summer and now facing the prospect of the 6 most cold and wet months in an English season (our usual Spanish adventures are looking out of reach; Florida is not happening). We headed back to the Marina at Hamble for a picnic lunch and then spent the afternoon reading at the same location.

Hamble Marina

As the temperatures cooled down in the later afternoon we headed off for a walk around Hamble – this is really a stunning little town.

Around Hamble Town

It was nice enough for a BBQ in the evening.

Tuesday was time to move on and for the very first time, we hadn’t done a single task previously in getting ready for the move. Consequently it took 3.5 hours to dismantle everything, load the bikes and secure everything for our short journey to the New Forest.

We were delayed as per normal around Lyndhurst but arrived before our allocated time at the Centenary club site. We were allowed access right away and chose a nice spacious corner position.

Our pitch at the New Forest Centenary Caravan Club site

It took just a couple of hours to setup and the latest awning not much more than 30 minutes. This Kampa Legerra 260 Air Awning is easy to put up as it consists of just 1 air beam and maybe a dozen pegs. It isn’t though likely to outlast any of our others, particularly the Isabella(s) but it has done a good job for us – somewhere to keep the Dometic freezer and our shoes and coats.

Finally the weather turned cold and wet on Wednesday so a day of reading and a trip to Costco Southampton. Talk of an increase in lockdown restrictions and guess what – Toilet Roll is being rationed!

Thursday and another wet day. Picnic on the Quay at Mudeford and some walking along the coast. We were able to see six cruise liners all anchored near the coast, reminding us again of the strange times we live in.

Cruise liner anchored near Bournemouth
Pebble display on the beach at Mudeford
He / She wants some of our lunch

A weekend in Hamble, 2020


The mini heatwave and Indian summer continues here on the South coast of England. We have been staying at Sunnydale Farm caravan park for about a week now and daytime temperatures are close to the mid 20s although these drop off fairly rapidly overnight amid quite a strong easterly wind.

Friday morning and we headed off on a short bike ride to the shores of the River Solent.

Friday’s Bike Ride around Hamble

We ate our picnic at the point South West of Hamble-Le-Rice, the views being somewhat mixed. Spoilt largely by the oil terminal at Fawley.

Nethertheless we took a few photos from the shoreline.

Shoreline of the River Solent
The River Solent view from Hamble Common
Hamble Common
Views across the Solent
Hamble cyclists

Bob and Mandy arrived in the afternoon and we enjoyed an excellent BBQ at their Airbnb which definitely saved the day since our original plan to cook on the banks of the River Hamble was thwarted due to the strong easterly wind.

The meats had been purchased from a local butchers in Kingsclere (The Village Butcher) during a previous visit to our old stomping ground earlier in the week.

BBQ creation

Chicken kebabs marinated in a maple dressing. Fresh beef burgers and some excellent Chipolatas.

Bob’s Burger
Bob and his wine

Saturday arrived and we had a lunchtime reservation at the Jolly Sailor. The walk from the campsite was pleasant and took around an hour. The afternoon vanished rapidly, the views over the River Hamble just stunning.

The Jolly Sailor Part 2
M and M at the Jolly Sailor, nr Hamble
View from the walk to the Jolly Sailor, nr Hamble

Sunday morning and normality has returned to our autumnal break as B and M return to Oxfordshire to watch the Southampton game! The times we live in as St Mary’s is just a short walk away but no crowd allowed.

Breakfast is fresh croissants from the Co Op in Hamble market Square and today promises to be a lazy one, again in full sunshine but a nippy feel to the wind.

A picnic lunch by the Solent, the wind ceased and the afternoon and evening remained very pleasant. BBQ for tea.

The Jolly Sailor Part 1, Hamble, 2020


Perhaps this should be Part 2 but as the first visit was essentially a swift pint we will call this our first proper visit to the Jolly Sailor.

Anyhow, we spent a relaxing morning in Hamble itself trying to find a suitable BBQ site for later in the week when we will meet our friends Bob and Mandy. We think we have found the perfect spot.

Perfect location for a BBQ

Lunchtime arrived and we had already booked a table at the Jolly Sailor which seems standard practice in the Covid-19 world we live in today.

The Jolly Sailor is rather aptly located on Lands End Road near Old Bursledon. Situated down a set of steep steps the Inn is nestled against the side of the River Hamble estuary.

View from our table at the Jolly Sailor

The view is stunning, all the more so under clear blue skies and temperatures peaking in excess of 25 degrees.

What better way than to spend the afternoon drinking cold beer with our good friends Chris and Alison.

Travel to Hamble-le-rice, 2020


We hit the road from Exmouth around 10:00am. It was a straight forward departure as we hadn’t had a pitch large enough for the awning.

The drive to Hamble-Le-Rice was equally un-eventful but whereas we had expected nice quiet roads, the reality was quite the opposite. The roads were rammed with travellers and a multitude of caravans and motorhomes were heading towards the South West. This could have been a Saturday in July, not the middle Sunday of September!

Arriving at Sunnydale Farm, Netley Abbey around 13:30, we were greeted at reception and escorted to our pitch which is fully serviced. First impressions are that this is an extremely well organised site and the staff are very welcoming. If there is a downside to our pitch, we are quite close to the main road and there is some unwanted road noise.

Our latest awning had arrived just a week earlier – a Kampa Leggera Air awning 260. This was purchased as a “cheap and cheerful” option for use on short trips within the UK. Some basic shelter and somewhere to keep the Dometic freezer and our muddy boots, shoes and coats. We now have FOUR different awnings and many others have been cast aside along the way!

It is also fully Covid-19 compliant as there isn’t room for any guests.

I must write a blog entry, specifically on our experience of awnings!

This latest addition is lightweight and was quick to assemble, taking just over an hour. Now we know how it all works we think it will be around 30 minutes to erect and similar to take down. So far it does exactly what it says on the tin but as it’s a Kampa, we are still unsure just how watertight it will be (see Facebook group – My Kampa Awning Leaks).

Kampa Legerra 260 Air

It’s a fantastic “Indian Summer” along the South coast and our first full day (yesterday, Monday) was spent with friends on Hayling Island.

Hayling Island

Yet again, traffic was busy – this time travelling onto Hayling Island and the beach was busy too, to say the least.

Hayling Island Beach

Tuesday and another scorching day. In the morning I fixed up the bikes and also added brake sensors to Moe’s outfit – such that the power to the electric motor is removed when the brake levers are pulled.

We then cycled around the area, loosely following the “Strawberry Trail”, which proports to be a cycle trail all the way from Botley to Bursledon and then via a circular route through Hamble, all the way back to Bursledon.

Hamble Cycling

The route takes one through the Royal Victoria Country park (maybe we will have a BBQ there later in the week) and past the Royal Victoria Chapel. The Chapel was once the centre of the vast Royal Victoria Military Hospital, which served the soldiers of the commonwealth from 1863 until 1966.

Royal Victoria Chapel

Prattshayes Camping Ground, Exmouth, 2020


Ruth and Duncs have been away in their van since the start of lockdown and more recently enjoying the delights of Devon and Cornwall. They checked into Prattshayes Camping ground (known formally as Exmouth Country Lodge and Prattshayes Campsite) around a week ago.

We decided to join them on Wednesday for four nights, prior to a few weeks away in Hamble (Southampton) and then the New Forest.

As we live just 10 minutes drive from the campsite, we were a little more disorganised than usual and it took us several trips before we had everything in place.

First impressions of the site were not great. We had booked a large pitch and without studying the small print hadn’t realised that we wouldn’t be allowed to use our new air awning – in fact the pitch just wasn’t big enough for an awning! This was a tad inconvenient as we had bought the Kampa Leggera awning specifically for short term trips in the UK as a small porch awning where we could keep our boots, coats and the Dometic freezer. This being important as generally we are still avoiding supermarkets due to Covid-19 risk.

Prattshayes Campsite, Exmouth
Prattshayes campsite has its own bar…

Our Pitch at Prattshayes Camping ground.

Our pitch at Prattshayes

On the Wednesday night, we visited the Bridge Inn at Topsham for their first food event of 2020 – Pie night. This was also our first visit to a pub in 2020! We had a spot under the Pagaoda and the beer and “Tom’s steak and ale pie” were excellent.

Pie night at the Bridge Inn

The remainder of the week was a mixture of various bike rides, pub outdoor visits and an inevitable succession of BBQs.

The Exe recreational (cycle?) trail runs from Exmouth all the way along the eastern edge of the Exe estuary as far as Exeter and then north-south along the western edge all the way down to Dawlish. It’s a fantastic route and we went out on the bikes on two occasions. Once as far as Lympstone and the second time to Topsham.

Ruth, Duncs and Moe at the Quay, Topsham
Well earned refreshments at the Passage House Inn, Topsham

Ruth and Duncs have been away since the end of March (the start of lockdown) along with four very friendly dogs. Layla likes me but Moe has already chosen Lucy…

Joe and Layla
Dogs 1, 2 and 4

Sunday morning, an early start and it is time to move on. A three hour journey to Hamble and whilst we expected a nice quiet drive, the roads were rammed. Looks like the whole furloughed world is on the move to enjoy the Indian summer…

Rookesbury Park Caravan Club Site, 2020


Rookesbury Park Caravan and Motorhome site is located near Wickham (Portsmouth) and is a favourite stopover site before departing or after arriving from the Portsmouth cross channel ferries.

We were looking for a site, last minute, somewhere between Devon and South West London where we could meet our friends Chris and Alison to celebrate birthdays. We would arrive on Sunday July 12th and depart on Thursday 16th July so a very swift visit.

As it turned out, Rookesbury Park was one of the very few Caravan Club sites with any vacancies for this period.

The journey was around 3 hours and uneventful – for us at least. Not so for the poor owners of this caravan at the side of the A35. Dual carriageway section and nice and flat.

A35 Accident 12 Jul 2020

Despite having only just opened after lockdown, the site was packed with most people following correct protocol and maintaining social distancing.

The only change we noticed was the distribution of personal wristbands to display on one of three pegs outside the toilet block. If there’s an empty peg then it’s ok to go on in, if not then wait your turn. Quite why the toilets are good for 3 people and not 2 or 4 is anyone’s guess.

In any case, we had already decided that we wouldn’t be using the communal facilities which is fine as we have all we need in the caravan.

We set up with the sun canopy awning and enjoyed the afternoon BBQing and partaking in a beer or three.

Our pitch at Rookesbury Farm

Now, it’s been a long time since I visited the pub. Since we were in Spain for the first 3 months of 2020, it’s possible I haven’t visited an English pub at all this year. This would be rectified on Monday as Chris and I set out on the 1 hour walk from the caravan site into the village of Wickham. The first pub we came across (The Kings Head I believe) hadn’t re-opened since lockdown but the second pub (there are only two pubs in Wickham) looked more promising. The sign was lit up and the lights were on…

The Square Cow, Wickham

The rest of the afternoon was succinctly summarised in a glowing review I left on Tripadvisor.

Begin quote

Stunning Customer Service from the delightful landlady at the Square Cow. Due to Covid-19 they are (short term) closed on Monday’s which was a huge disappointment for my buddy Chris and I after our 1 hour walk from the campsite.

Undeterred we purchased some drinks from the nearby Co-Op and sat in their new Beer Garden at the bottom of the square, attempting to enjoy our first pub visit for months…

The landlady appeared and engaged with us, explaining the situation AND bringing us snacks on the house and an ice bucket to keep our beer cold!

If this is how she treats her customers when they are closed, just think how good the service must be. We can’t wait to head back…

Date of visit: July 2020

End Quote

Chris enjoying his Bud at the Square Cow

Part of the walk is along a disused railway line – note to oneself – must cycle this sometime in the future.

Meon Valley Trail

Some business to attend to on the Tuesday, on Wednesday a guided tour of Hayling Island to take a look at Chris and Alison’s new house purchase and then home on Thursday.

Wish we could have stayed longer.