In taking our little campervan, (The Blue Lady,) all the way to the South of France we find that the worst part of the journey is travelling on England’s over crowded roads. However, living as we do in the country’s most northerly town, the journey down to the ferry at Portsmouth gives us the chance experience some interesting attractions.
Our first trips of the year were short ones in Northumberland and we set out for the main adventure towards the end of August.
I managed to fix up a couple of nights stay at the Camping and Caravan club site at Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire and a visit to nearby Newby Hall.
Somehow we did not have time for breakfast and eventually got away by 12.30. We arrived at Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire by late afternoon and had our belated breakfast at the local Morrisons Supermarket then topped up the diesel and checked into the campsite where the rise in the popularity of campervans was much in evidence. There were the usual big motor-homes plus quite a few VW campervans like our own. A couple of large rabbits also shared the large open field but paid little attention as we walked around and viewed the variety of attachments and awnings.
The next day, after breakfast, a drive along a quiet country road took us to Newby Hall where we explored the grounds. There were loads of nooks and crannies, hidden gardens each with a completely different feel. There was no set route, we just wandered around.
Camping and Caravan club site at Boroughbridge
On the Sunday morning we set off. I had planned the rest of the route so that we could visit the Museum of Army Flying
at Middle Wallop. It gave a fascinating overview of the Army’s role in aviation right from the early days of flight when spotters were floated aloft attacked to a tethered kites or balloon to view beyond enemy lines.
I had found that while other ‘museums of flight’ tend to highlight the spectacle of flight this one brought home the reality of the conflicts that Army fliers continue to take part in.
After burger and chips in the cafe we drove on towards the car ferry. It became a very wet day with flooded roads and constant blinding rain but in-spite of this we got to Portsmouth early. The foul weather made us abandon any plans for lingering by the waters edge at favourite spot near Southsea marina. So many hours before the 2330 hours sailing we parked at the Brittany Ferries Terminal at the head of the check in queue. Waiting in line, we watched as a great number of vehicles were boarded. We were almost the last on board and once in our cabin we immediately took to our beds and were drifting off to sleep as the ships engines rumbled and she got underway leaving a very damp England in her wake.
The next morning in France the sun was shining and, bar a couple of days, it continued for three weeks.
There was also a half an hour boat trip along the River Ure. Rhododendron trees lined river bank and we were told to keep a lookout for swans, otters, swallows, swifts, and sand martins. Add to this, other attractions that included, a most impressive display of dolls' houses and a huge collection of teddy bears and you have the ingredients needed for a perfect day out.
The following day we drove on a 150 miles to the Midlands and Henley in Arden. The traffic delays that were a bit wearing but we eventually joined up with a gathering of about 50 other motor-homes and camper-vans which had been organised by the Wild Camping Group in the grounds of the local school.
At Henley in Arden a music festival was being held in the pubs and in the town hall gardens. The town had a long main street with many ancient houses and floral décor. We relaxed at the tables outside a restaurant and had a very pleasant meal of steak, caramelised onions, skinny chips salad an a nice long cool beer. Then dodging the rain showers we headed back to the Blue Lady.
With the night starting to draw in we were reminded that Autumn was on its way. It was dark by 9pm.
One attraction was a mini train ride and we enjoyed the echoing rattle of the little train as it went through a mini tunnel and over a small bridge.
The ride gave us a good idea of the extent of the gardens. The track looped around so that you had a different view going and coming back.
The Camping & Caravanning Club www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
Newby Hall and Gardens www.newbyhall.com
Museum of Army Flying www.armyflying.com
Brittany Ferries www.brittany-ferries.co.uk
Report by Allan Rogers. .