July tour 2022 – Shearwater lake


A visit to Frome (very nice market town nearby) and then a “guilty” wander around Longleat listening to the last of the concerts – Tears For Fears. There seemed to be tickets available but a bit expensive at £75 each so we gave entry into the arena a miss.

Sunday we drove over to Shearwater lake and walked the circular route around the lake. The footpaths of the last stretch back to the Car park (next to the tea rooms) were overgrown so we definitely walked the best way around the lake – anticlockwise.

The walk is shown below – just ignore the “tail” where I’d forgotten to turn off the tracker!

Our walk around Shearwater.
Shearwater Lake
Shearwater Lake

Lunch was at the Royal Oak at Corsley. Food was excellent and would highly recommend the Sunday roast.

Sunday Roast at the Royal Oak, Corsley

The cheeseboard was immense – it should keep us in cheese for the remainder of the trip!!!

Desert at the Royal Oak, Corsley

Tomorrow we head into the Cotswolds for the great “off-grid” experiment. We have a week at Newton Grove CL site, near South Newington, near Chipping Norton. A reasonable walk to the Falkland Arms at Great Tew, where we understand we may bump into David Beckham. We might need to spend some time in the pub to recharge the laptop battery.

July tour 2022 – Diana Ross, Longleat


It’s been a busy day today. Fresh off the back of our trip to Stourhead House was an evening of entertainment at Longleat, part of their summer programme of concerts. When we left the campsite to visit Stourhead the club site was barely a quarter full. When we returned late afternoon, nearly every pitch was taken.

Tonight’s act was Diana Ross and the walk to the concert from our site was around 20 minutes through the Longleat estate. Diana Ross was on-stage from around 9pm for a 90 minute show. Well attended with 5,000 concert goers present for the show.

Longleat House
Stunning setting for a concert
If somewhat on the cold side for July
Diana Ross concert, Longleat 01 Jul 2022

Diana Ross Setlist, 01 July 2022, Longleat

Set 1
I’m Coming Out
More Today Than Yesterday
My World Is Empty Without You
Baby Love
Stop! In the Name of Love
You Can’t Hurry Love
Love Child

Set 2
Chain Reaction
I’m Still Waiting
Upside Down
Love Hangover / Take Me Higher / Ease on Down the Road

Set 3
Why Do Fools Fall in Love
If We Hold on Together
If the World Just Danced
Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
I Will Survive

Tomorrow sees Alison Moyet as the support act to Tears for Fears. We don’t have tickets for this concert but maybe we’ll take a wander around Longleat during the evening.

July tour 2022 – The River Stour


It was a day to accumulate small, useless artefacts of knowledge. It started with the River Stour – in fact the head of the River Stour. Whilst looking for the route of the River Stour I discovered this wasn’t quite so easy as there are a total of FIVE River Stours in the United Kingdom.

One each in the counties of Dorset, Kent, Suffolk, Warwickshire and Worcester. The name is of ambiguous and disputed origin, with one theory being that the name derives from the Celtic “sturr” meaning “strong”. However, the river-name Stour, whilst common in England does not occur in Wales…

Secondly, the Grand Tour is not just a TV series hosted by Jeremy Clarkson. The Grand Tour was the principally 17th to early 19th century custom of a traditional trip through Europe, with Italy as a key destination, undertaken by upper class young European men of sufficient means and rank (typically accompanied by a tutor or family member) when they had come of age – around 21 years old. The tradition finally declined in Europe as enthusiasm for classical culture waned, and with the advent of accessible rail and steamship travel.

The head of the River Stour on the Somerset / Wiltshire border is located at Stourhead. The river flows across southern England before finally entering the English Channel at Christchurch in Dorset. At the head of the River Stour is Stourhead House, a National Trust property. Stourhead House was one of the first country villas to be built in the new Palladium Style, the design much influenced by its owners trips on the Grand Tour.

The house was designed for Henry Hoare I by the architect Colen Campbell although Henry died before the house was completed and so never got to enjoy life at Stourhead.

Stourhead House
Stables at Stourhead house

Henry Hoare I, (“Good Henry”) and his successor, Henry Hoare II (“Magnificent Henry”) both made their money as bankers. The private bank, C Hoare & co remains the oldest private bank in England.

The house tour is a selection of rooms on the ground floor. All pristinely preserved and beautifully furnished with original furniture, fixtures and fittings. In 1946 the house was given to the National Trust to care for and look after for future generations. In the entrance hall are portraits of all the key Hoare family members and knowledgeable National Trust guides to pass on the family story.

The garden was described as “a living work of art” when it first opened its doors in the 1750s. The world-famous garden was designed by Henry Hoare II as a series of carefully constructed views, like scenes from a Landscape painting. Henry Hoare II built a dam to form the lake and around it he positioned classical temples and Gothic buildings as well as rare and exotic trees.

The garden was at the forefront of the English Landscape movement and for this achievement, Henry was nicknamed “the Magnificent”.

Map of Stourhead house and gardens
Views across the Lake, Stourhead House
Views across the Lake at Stourhead house
Grotto at Stourhead House
Church at Stourhead

July tour 2022 – Destination Longleat


Frequently our trips start out with a purpose and then over time we add new places. This tour was booked with the intention of attending the Cotswold music festival at Cornbury. Also known as “posh fest”.

We’ve since added a visit to Longleat before our stay in the Cotswolds and also added some new sites to the end of the tour. Oh, and due to the ticket prices at Cornbury, we may now no longer attend the festival!

It has been some feat booking 4 nights at the CAMC (Caravan and Motorhome Club) site within the grounds of Longleat but finally, after frequent daily searches we managed to complete the four day reservation. We arrived on site, Thursday, complete with our 4 individual reservations – one for each night!

It was a short – around 2 hours – journey from East Devon to Longleat with some horrendous thunder, hail and rain storms on the route from Honiton to Warminster. By late afternoon, the weather had calmed down somewhat and it stayed dry enough for us to erect the small porch air awning and finish setting up.

This is our pitch at Longleat.

Our pitch at Longleat

The nearest pub to the site is the White Hart Inn at Corsley and we headed there in the evening for some welcome grub and a few pints.

The White Hart, Corsley

May in the Forest


Its been nearly two weeks since the last diary entry. We’ve been very busy but not entirely focussed on activities around the New Forest.

One of the reasons we like the Black Knowl campsite is its proximity to Brockenhurst and the mainline station with fast links to Waterloo and Poole – there isn’t a great need to use the car. Our first train journey took us to Havant and then on to Hayling Island for lunch with Chris and Alison. This was the first time we have seen their Hayling Island retreat since the rebuild began last summer. They’ve created a fantastic home here on Hayling Island.

Later in the week we headed to the Reading / Newbury / Basingstoke area to visit friends and for Moe to visit family. A trip to Reading would not be complete without lunch at the London Street brasserie, one of the top dining spots in Reading.

Wednesday was a special day for David, his 60th! Happy Birthday David.

David’s 60th birthday celebrations

On Thursday I met with my ex-business partner (another David) at the Rowbarge in Midgham. Fortunately he was available both Wednesday and Thursday as I’d somehow managed to double-book him with David’s 60th on the Wednesday. Groan, must be an age thing!

The weather has been predominantly fine throughout this trip – dry and mainly warm but frequently with a cold wind. We have experienced some tremendous thunder storms during several evenings and nights.

On Saturday, just over a week ago we headed on the bikes for lunch at the Royal Oak. They are coping well with staff shortages – focused solely on providing nice ploughman’s lunches in a cardboard box! Washed down with a few pints of Equinox cider, this was the perfect way to spend the afternoon before our return back to Black Knowl.

Cycling to Fritham
Cycling to Fritham
The Royal Oak at Fritham

Last Monday, Chris and Alison arrived in their motorhome and joined us at Black Knowl. As always there are lots of ponies, shetland ponies, donkeys and cattle of all breeds roaming around the National Park. Many of the ponies are with a new-born foal.

This one is tired out!
Mare and foal

This herd of Llamas was not running wild…

Herd of Llamas

On Wednesday we visited Compton Acres gardens in Poole.

Compton Acres is a large privately owned garden which was founded in 1920 by Thomas William Simpson, an entrepreneur who had become wealthy through the manufacture of margarine.

Compton Acres consists of five themed sub-gardens: an Italian garden, a rock and water garden, a heather garden, a Japanese garden and a less formal woodland garden called the “Wooded Valley”.

The Italian Garden is a formal garden is designed to be enjoyed as a spectacle with water, fountains, statuary, topiary and mass plantings providing seasonal colour.

The Italian Garden, Compton Acres
Joe and Moe at the Italian Gardens

The Wooded Valley is a mature pine wood which has been developed as a woodland garden with winding pathways and dramatic waterfalls.

Many rhododendrons and camelias thrive here. Shade tolerant shrubs edge the terraces and glades together with woodlanders, including ferns and foxgloves. On the lower paths a series of pools are cunningly constructed to give the impression of a flowing stream.

The Wooded valley at Compton Acres
The Wooded valley at Compton Acres
Chris posing with the statues
Koi at Compton Acres
Japanese Gardens
Sunbathing at Compton Acres

Saturday and Alison drove Chris and I for a day out at the Three Okefords Steam rally at Shillingstone, near Blanford Forum. Whilst not on the same scale as the Great Dorset Steam fair there was plenty to see and the event had a nice local feel to it.

View across Three Okefords steam fair
Vintage Steam roller at Three Okefords
Traction engines at Three Okeford show
Shepherds hut van conversion at Three Okefords
Shepherds hut van conversion at Three Okefords
Shepherds hut van conversion at Three Okefords
Scale model Traction engines
Scale model Traction engines

Sunday 22nd May and we cycled to the Sir Walter Tyrell inn for Sunday lunch. Would recommend, the food being excellent. Moe has a new battery for her bike and performance (of the bike, that is) is back to normal.

Monday was our 30th Wedding anniversary and we had a trip to and picnic to Fordingbridge. BBQ in the evening.

Wednesday was our penultimate day in the New Forest and we drove to Lymington for the day.

Thursday and we headed home to East Devon.

May in the Forest – Arrival


Last year we managed to book this three week stay at Black Knowl, Brockenhurst which is one of our favourite campsites. It’s also one of the Caravan Club’s most popular sites so we had to be early off the mark in gaining this reservation.

Black Knowl CAMC site

The sign at the entrance to the campsite has shown full for each day of our visit so far. That’s a pretty good effort when the price of a pitch and two adults is more than £40 per night! We arrived about 45 minutes after the barriers opened and they’d already checked in some 26 outfits. We had a choice of just two pitches but by placing the van onto our pitch “nose” first, we were able to be positioned to take full advantage of the predicted sunny afternoons and evenings.

We have already booked next years trip and we were even faster, managing to secure a fully Serviced pitch for May 2023.

We had arrived at Black Knowl after around a three hour trip along the South coast from East Devon and quickly had the toys unloaded and the awning erected.

Our pitch at Black Knowl

All in time for an evening stroll around the woods near Ober corner. The weather forecast is great and there was a nice sunset to be seen on our walk.

Sunset in the Forest, May 2022

Friday we did the circular walk from the campsite to Brockenhurst and back across the meadows, encountering a new born foal, full of energy.

New Forest new born foal

Saturday and we headed out on the bikes for a 30 mile round trip to the pub, passing through a magnificent Bluebell display at the start of the journey.

Bluebells in the New Forest
Refreshments at the Royal Oak, Fritham

This particular venue is the Royal Oak at Fritham. Has a nice selection of real ales but after the journey from the campsite something a bit more refreshing was required – Equinox cider. Saturday evening is also Fish and Chips night, courtesy of Tony’s Frying machine, so much of the healthy work from the bike ride vanished with cider and fish and chips. The Royal Oak has a great beer garden and also a huge Marquee in case of any inclement weather!

Our route back took us along small country lanes, the journey time being just over an hour.

Cycle ride to the Royal Oak at Fritham, May 2022

Sunday is “rest” day. Cycled into Brockehurst for some provisions and the newspaper and then chilled. Tomorrow we head to Hayling Island.