Monthly Archives: February 2014

Castle Rising – Norfolk

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We stumbled across a great location to visit; Castle Rising, a small village just a couple of miles walk from our campsite in the Sandringham Forest. Within the village is a castle which has real historic significance as it was the home of Queen Isabella, Wife of Edward II.

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Castle Rising

Isabella earned her pace in english history by plotting her husbands downfall and possibly his death with her lover Roger Mortimer and then effectively ruled as a warrior queen until her son Edward III was old enough to re-take the crown and have his mothers lover killed. She later moved back into Castle Rising.

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Often referred to as a “She-Wolf”, she was not a person to be messed with. Her Wiki page is a fascinating story of power, lust, greed and cruelty:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabella_of_France

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Mutts was well impressed with the moat.

The castle has been owned by the Howard family since the 15th Centuary and is administered by English Heritage. It’s built on a huge keep, with the banks of the surrounding moat clearly visible, a great example of this type of castle. You can walk inside building(dogs allowed on leads). More information can be found here: http://www.castlerising.co.uk

Tonight is “Chip Van Night” here on the Sandringham Estate, you can feel the tension and anticipation in the air. I wonder if they sell Corona pop?

That is all

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Tea With The Queen – Sandringham Norfolk

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It never happened! I got to the gates at Sandringham all suited and booted and discovered three very important bits of information:

1. The Queen wanted 13 of my hard earned pounds(per person), if I wanted to pop in for a brew!

2. V.Crucial….She wasn’t in.

3. V.V.Crucial…Her house was closed till April 2014!

So with that in mind and a tad miffed, we mooched about at the nearby visitors centre with all the other great unwashed as my Other Half blew £35 on lady tracksuits and other tat at an outdoor shop(she blindsided me, I didn’t see it coming). Even the Church of St Magdalene’s was closed, which was a great shame. I always thought this type of tourism was 365 days of the year….If its not, it should be.

Nearby to the “Closed” entrance to the church, is a poignant memorial to the members of the E (Sandringham Pals) Company 5th Norfolk Regiment, who were wiped out to a man, fighting the Turks in the Dardanelles in 1915. The company was made up exclusively of the estate workers and led by the Kings Land Agent, 54yr old Captain Frank Beck.Image

The whole battalion became known as “The Lost Battalion” as the vast majority were killed during the attack at Suvla on the 12 Aug 1915. Most historians now believe many were executed by the Turks, who at that time did not have a concept of taking prisoners. The memorial above, which stands near to the church was paid for by King George V.

More information can be found here:

http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/The-Lost-Sandringhams/

We are currently parked up at the Caravan Clubs main site, which is located within the Sandringham Estate. As you can imagine, its surrounded by deep woods and its a great place to do some easy walking in countryside, in an area thats easy on the eye. The Sandringham Visitors Centre about a mile or so from the campsite, offers a restaurant and various outlets for the estate produce.

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No restrictions on dogs within the forest, our 4 legged idiot has had an absolute ball, lots of off lead walking, aimlessly chasing a plastic ring.

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The 4 legged idiot and his plastic ring!

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The Chucklebus parked up at Sandringham CC Site

The Campsite is pretty good, friendly staff, decent sized pitches, piped TV, good phone signals and at this time of the year quite cheap, I think we paid £17pn. This is our first experience of a Main CC Site and we quite like it, so much so that we extended our stay by two nights.

Best of all Fish & Chip Van at 6pm tomorrow night (Klaxon sounds)….so at 5 minutes to six tomorrow evening, the “Other Half” will have her best sprinting trainers on….gumshield in place and ten of my finest pounds clutched tightly in her sweating hands. God help anyone who tries to stop her!!!

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Mutts reaction to hearing the Chip Van is coming!

Back to reality on Saturday

That is all

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Nooooorfolk….Bootiful

Having left North Wales on Sat morning, we overnighted at a campsite in Rutland called “Rutland Caravan and Camping. http://www.rutlandcaravanandcamping.co.uk  This was a large well managed site, with hard pitches and an Adults Only area set aside within the site. At £16.50 per night, it’s pretty good value and the Mutt throughly enjoyed the Doggy Shower facility in the main toilet block. We had a wander around the local area, pleasant, plenty of pubs and walks….But flat as a pancake and on this particular weekend very windy….Those two elements together don’t mix well.  Anyway, weather aside a useful stopover place in central England. We would certainly use it again. Next Day…Norfolk

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Which way is Sheringham?

It must be the most difficult county to get to if your travelling from anywhere North of Milton Keynes. Steve Coogan made a similar comment when asked why his character Alan Partridge after his fall from TV grace is now based in Norfolk.  To summarise:  Its a remote location to the rest of the country, its so hard to get to, nobody really knows anything about it!

He’s right, even just looking at a map and trying to plan a route is enough make you lose the will to live….Eventually I just banged in the postcode and let the satnav do the rest! This works fine in theory, but in practice will involve  you hopping across nice tidy A roads in favour of small itsy bitsy “B” roads, that are blissfully unaware of the combustion engine and originally designed for a pony and trap and were never updated! It’s a beautiful place though, mainly flat, very olde worldy, very different from the rest of the country. I’ve always loved the area. I probably first discovered its delights many years ago, conducting military training on Stanford Training Area near to Thetford: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_Training_Area   Those lazy, hazy sunny days never left me,  I’ve always wanted to return.

En-Route, we headed to a small hamlet north of Norwich called Horsham St Faith to see a lovely yokel cousin who resides here. The village is as quaint as it sounds, very Norfolk. 

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Horsham St Faith

After a cup of tea and a catch up, we headed towards the North Norfolk coast, our first port of call was to be the resort of Cromer, where we intended to while a way a few hours…Like many British coastal towns, it’s suffered during the last few months from the atrocious weather. This is evident along the cliff side promenade, which took a battering in Dec 2013. Two pictures below. One from Dec 5th 2013, where you can see the sea has overcome the pier entrance and below that a picture we took on Sunday, showing the damaged areas fenced off:

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Cromer Pier Dec 5 2013: Credit: Charlie Crafer

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Cromer Pier – Feb 23 2014

We liked Cromer, yes its fading, but there’s something about an English seaside town that has a well maintained pier that pulls you in like a magnet, there was even kids paddling in the North Sea. We noted a fish and chip shop that was packed to the rafters with day trippers, So we grabbed a bag and sat in the van, people watching as we ate…Personally I quite enjoyed watching the bloke who parked his Fiat 500 in our Pay n Display and then wandered off without bothering to buy a ticket, trying to run like Ursain Bolt, in a doomed effort to reach his car before the traffic warden did…He failed, but only just mind. The guy clearly wanted to explode like a hand grenade…but with me a “Paying car parker” sat idly watching the drama unfold whilst munching my chips, he decided he’d embarrassed himself enough already. To be honest, the car didn’t suit him anyway, his life? a series of bad choices I suppose?

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A view of Cromer from the pier

We then we moved along the coast to our campsite destination at Sheringwood, near to the coastal resort of Sheringham: http://www.sheringwood.co.uk  This is a new “Adult Only” CL site (see a theme developing here?) The owners have not yet finished the work on the CL, but it should all be completed by April. They’ve spent a lot of money getting everything in order, hard standings, EHU, taps on each pitch.

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The grounds have been sympathetically landscaped and they also provide WIFI for visitors. Unusually for a CL, the entire booking and payment process can be completed online via their informative website, even down to selecting your individual pitch. The owners run a successful engineering company and they are using their obvious business skills to get the CL right. Their efforts are commendable. The site is picturesque and as it matures this will become more so. It’s nestled into a mixed wooded area and lush grassland, below a woodland park called “Pretty Corner Wood.

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The area is fairly quiet, although we did hear a dawn chorus of dogs barking, at what we assume is a kennels about 3-400 metres away, but other than that, its great, we are currently the only visitors on-site, so the Mutts is strutting about like he’s Cock O’the North.

My only other comment about the site is a lack of a physical barrier at the site  entrance, to the public right of way that runs alongside the CL. Hopefully the owners will look at that in the future. I don’t think there’s a security issue, but I don’t like the apparent open access it currently offers. I might be starting to sound like V. Meldrew, but that feeling of security is one of mans basic instincts, its a new site and everyone walking or driving past is interested…and my radar was slightly pinging! But make no mistake, this will hopefully be a special site when finished.

During our stay on the site, we made full use of the walks nearby. Today we hotfooted it though the nearby National Trust woodlands of Beeston Regis Heath, before emerging onto a viewing area looking towards the North Sea and the resorts of Beeston Regis and Sheringham below:

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The viewing area Beeston Regis.

Our eventual destination was to be the 14th century church of All Saints at Beeston(circled).

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As we dropped down from the viewing area and headed towards the coastline, we came across a field full of miniature ponies. Obviously we had to stop and have a pat…This was a new experience for the Mutts, who promptly sat down, stared and wondered what type of dogs they were!

Set only a couple of hundred meters back from the North Sea, Beeston Church has a ruggedness that fits in with its isolated coast location. Sadly it’s now sharing the nearby landscape with a caravan site, which sort of takes away some of its lonely awe, nevertheless its well worth a visit and today with a clear sky, it was pretty impressive.

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All Saints Beeston

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We then continued our journey heading past the church until we reached the coastline, then turned left towards Sheringham. The beach below is sandy and from the cliff top you can see the sea damage inflicted against the soft sandy cliff face. This area has a real problem with erosion and looking at the evidence it does appear that for the moment, nature has the upper hand.

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This is now the limit of the cliff walk, the caravan in the distance is now in the danger area.

Once we managed to get down to beach level, the damage is clear. You can also see mans previous attempts to hold back the sea.

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It was quite eery walking along this stretch.

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The Mutts was happy with the sand though!

and of course the obligatory “Seagull sitting on a pole” picture, just to complete this stage of the blog!

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Seagull on a Pole

We then wandered about the small town of Sheringham, I would imagine it gets quite busy during the summer months. Lots of small fish restaurants, craft shops etc. When the suns shining it’ll be a pleasant place to visit.

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Sheringham Prom

We then walked a mile to the outskirts of the town and entered “Pretty Wood” an undulating woodland, criss crossed with paths and tracks,  which eventually brought us back onto the campsite at Sheringwood where we’d started some 4hrs earlier:

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She’d have made a great Chindit

So today, with fantastic weather, an excellent walk, in a great setting.

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Norfolk?

Bootiful.

Tomorrow we head the Sandringham Estate for wine, nibbles and a sleepeover with The Queen.

That is all.

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Nooooorfolk Bound!

The Chucklebus is packed, the other half is currently at Tesco’s taking part in the “Shoplifters Shopping Trolley Dash”. Tomorrow we head east, well actually south first, initially to Rutland, stay on the Caravan Club Site for one night, then hitting the bright lights of the North Norfolk coast sometime on Sunday. We’ll  be staying on a CL site called: Sheringwood http://www.sheringwood.co.uk  It’s a new adult only site and looks pretty tidy. Its on the edge of the resort town of Sheringham, which is a couple of miles north of Cromer. The plan is we will stay here a few days, before moving further north, possibly as far as Flamborough Head, maybe having a night with the Queen at Sandringham….as yer do.

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Sheringham

Updates to follow

That is all.

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Warning Order – Deutsch Spritztour 2014

With nearly 12 months gone since we acquired the Chucklebus, our thoughts have turned to this years summer jaunt. Last year we mooched about in SW England and along the West Wales coast, learning how to live in the van for extended periods. This year we plan to step it up a little and cross over to mainland Europe heading deep into Germany on a 20 odd day road trip. Lots to do and see, adjusting the speed of travel as required, mainly stopping over on Stellplatzes(municipal stover sites for motorhomes), with the odd decent campsite for admin and R+R!

The five main areas of geographical interest are:

1. The Mosel Valley – A wine producing region.

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2. The Spa town of Baden-Baden

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3. The Black Forest. The forest is 200km in length, we plan to end this stage at Lake Constance on the German/Austrian/Swiss border.

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Lake Constance straddles the borders of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

4. The Alpiner Stasser.  Along the German Austrian Border

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The Alpiner Strasser

5. The Romantische Straße. A 410km route between Fussen and Wurzberg, a selling ploy dreamt up by German travel agents to sell to American servicemen and their families, holidaying over 60yrs ago. The route passes through typical picturesque german towns and villages in Southern Germany with the Alps as a backdrop.

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Neuschwanstein Castle on the Romantic Road.

So far we’ve booked the Eurotunnel Crossing for July/August Folkstone-Calais, quite reasonable at £200 including “Das Hund!”  The trip is of 30mins duration and then its a 4-5 hr drive to the Koblenz area to commence the trip south though the Mosel. We are also in the process of getting the Mutts pet passport sorted.

Work in Progress

That is all.

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