Bye Bye Blighty!
Trip Start May 16, 2013
99Trip End Jul 05, 2014
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Where I stayed
Morn Hill Campsite
We booked the ferry to Europe for this Saturday, so there is now much excitement and anticipation in the van! Having been gently chastised by a few of you for not having blogged for a week, we are absolutely stoked that so many of you are actually reading our blogs!! We have gradually made our way south from Whitby, following a strange route which was completely contrary to that suggested by the lady on our GPS system. We started by following the east coast down through Scarborough and Bridlington, having loved Whitby so much. It was an interesting contrast, to say the least.
Scarborough looked very promising as we entered the town with wide streets and large period style houses. On a piece of high rocky headland sits the 11th century ruins of Scarborough castle and it is this that sort of separates the sea front into two bays. The north bay was nice and peaceful, but the south bay, the main tourist area, was a continuous run of loud, large and often crass amusement arcades on one side of the road and equally loud fairground attractions on the beach side of the road. Imagine the noise of several massive arcades, combined with the dodgems, waltzers and big wheel each playing a different pop song.......or am I getting old!! Despite all this, the people are awesome and we thoroughly enjoyed a coffee up on a balcony overlooking all the goings-on whilst chatting to the owner who thanked us heaps for our custom!
Natives of Whitby call people from Scarborough, Algerinos. The origin of this nickname comes from the sinking of a boat called The Algerino not far from Scarborough. The lifeboat crews of several neighbouring towns, (Whitby, Robin Hood's Bay, etc.), responded while the Scarborough lifeboat did not, and so as a constant reminder they are referred to as 'Algerinos' and Scarborough as 'Algerinoland'.
Bridlington was similar in many respects. Whilst Scarborough can boast that it is the largest holiday resort on the Yorkshire coast, poor Bridlington is stuck with the problem of having the highest coastal erosion rate in the whole of Europe. Consequently the council has built a long sea wall and separated the wide beach by a series of groynes (timber barriers) which encourage the sand to build up in between, all to protect the seafront. Amazingly these are not an eyesore at all, but quite discreet and I remember when we used to go to the south coast beaches of West Wittering and Bracklesham Bay when we were kids that they also had them. You just had to be careful when you were swimming in a high tide because they were covered in barnacles which, believe me, are highly abrasive, as my brother and I learnt!!
From Bridlington, we headed to Derby which is where Hillside Leisure are based - these are the guys who imported our van from Japan and professionally converted it to a campervan in 2009. We wanted to call in because the Captain's seat (passenger seat) is designed to swivel 180 degrees, which it was doing too well. In fact, it swivelled all the time even when we wanted it locked off and facing forwards. Now I had already checked out their website and I knew that it was set up in 2004 by a couple of bothers, Mark and Adrian Cross and believe me, they have grown that company to one of the most respected in the industry. What I didn't know until the two of them plus another guy were all in our van working on our Captain's chair was that they had been brought up in Hastings in New Zealand!! What a surprise! And what a delightful pair! The level of customer service was outstanding and I can totally understand how these two young fellas have got to where they are now, if they treat all their customers with the same personal service that we got. They wouldn't even take a cent from us.
From Derby, we headed to Ludlow to see my Dad again and to pick up our van ownership papers which took over 4 weeks and without which we cannot cross the channel. We arrived complete with two cheap, but nevertheless new mountainbikes, having felt obliged to make use of the bike rack that came on the van!
From Ludlow we headed to Bishops Stortford to see Sarah again and to pick up a sweatshirt that Mark had left there on the way up. We arrived an hour later than we said we would, mainly because we totally ignored the GPS again and decided that a drive through the Cotswolds might be a really nice thing to do rather than skirting round Birmingham again.
I can thoroughly recommend the Cotswolds - what an idyllic piece of Little England. The Cotswolds actually refers to a range of hills which fall mainly within Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, with wold meaning rolling hills. Covering 787 sqm, it is characterised by small towns and villages which seem to have grown out of the landscape as they are predominantly built from the very distinctive Cotswold yellow limestone. The names alone beckon you in.....Bourton-on-the-Water, Moreton-on-the-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold. The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Beauty in 1966, which having driven through it, I would fully have expected it to be on the basis of the villages themselves but believe it or not, it was given this honour based on its rare limestone grassland habitats and old beech woodlands which seem to be home to many of Britain's endangered flora and fauna, now protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
From Bishops Stortford where Sarah presented us with a delicious light buffet followed by a slice of an extremely tasty cake that she had baked that very morning, we drove on to Sarratt. I am sure you will all be familiar with Jackie by now so it will come as no surprise to you that we drove straight to The Cock Inn to join Jackie and half of Sarratt who make up her friends!! The entertainment was once again supplied by Cathy who proceeded to tell us about the pub in whose garden we were sitting in the heat of a baking sun, I might add - turns out it was the hottest day of the year in England!! Anyway, getting back to the pub which portrayed a cockerel on its signboard, Cathy said it should actually be a horse!! Now you never quite know with Cathy as she is as intelligent as she is entertaining, so I checked out her story and she is in fact absolutely "on the money". The pub is on a corner which then descends very steeply down a very long hill and we know this because we took our mountainbikes down it the following day and it is followed by an extremely long uphill. Back in the olden days, when horses and carriages were the only form of transport, there were Cock horses.....this was the name given to the horses that were ridden to the base of large hills and then harnessed to the front of carriage horses to assist them pulling their carriage or coaches up.
We are now outside of Winchester again, ready to catch up with a dear friend of mine, Ted Johns, over 80 and still racing dirt bikes ...now that's inspirational