Sunday, 24 September 2017

23/09/2017; Ashridge Farm Caravan Club Site (contd)

Saturday, 23rd September 2017

Cloudy start to the day, with the occasional light shower, sunshine by 10:30 which lasts for the rest of the day.

A (food) shopping trip to Baldock, for essential supplies. We have the same cheery bus driver as Wednesday, and, some of the same passengers.

In the afternoon, a stroll to the church in Ashwell, so Kathleen can check service times, for Sunday, note, Service Times, not Mass times, although the church has been here since before the Black Death, a couple of centuries later, it was the subject of a hostile takeover by Henry VIII, so, is now a Church of England establishment.

It would appear there is not a Catholic Church in practical travelling distance.

In addition to the "normal" streets and roads in the village, Ashwell is criss-crossed with public footpaths and byeways, one of which leads us to Ashwell Springs, from which, it would appear, Ashwell got it's name, and, which are the source of the River Cam, as in Cambridge.

Sunday, 24th September 2017

Another day of sunshine and blue sky, 20C by lunch time.

Sunday means church for Kathleen. There is no Catholic Church within practical travelling distance, so, she attends the C of E Church in Ashwell, of Black Death Graffiti fame, eat your heart out Henry VIII !

After a very pleasant Sunday Lunch, we go cycling, following a route suggested by the very helpful and friendly site warden. A brisk 12 - 13 miles in brilliant sunshine.


Friday, 22 September 2017

21/09/2017; Ashridge Farm Caravan Club Site (contd)

Thursday, 21st September 2017

A rather windy morning, although otherwise, mild and sunny, so, cycling does not seem like a good idea.

We decide to make use of the local bus service, and have a day in Letchworth (Garden City), not for any particular reason, simply because that is where the bus goes!

The bus journey is a pleasure, with a friendly bus driver who seems to know all of the passengers (except ourselves, of course), by their first names.

Letchworth Garden City, was one of the world's first "new towns", although the original villages on which it is based (Letchworth, Willian and Norton) appeared in the Doomsday Book, the new town was established based on the principles in a book by social reformer Ebenezer Howard, published in 1898, with construction beginning in 1903. It is a very pleasant place, I particularly liked the almost total absence of litter! However, it fails Kathleen's "retail therapy" test, she does not find any item of clothing to buy.

We manage a walk along part of the Icknield Way, in the early evening, before the rain comes!

Friday, 22nd September 2017

A beautiful day, clear blue sky, and, by lunch time, a very pleasant 21C.

The morning is spent cycling, toward Biggleswade, and then back to Ashwell, via the Mordens, a very enjoyable 16 mile circuit.

The afternoon is spent lazing in the sun, and watching the aircraft, including a couple of Spitfires, circling and rehearsing for the Duxford Battle of Britain Airshow, which is on tomorrow and Sunday. 

Late afternoon, and, all plans are disrupted. The boiler in the Amenity Block has broken down, so, no hot water. A Plumber is apparently going to arrive tomorrow, Saturday to (hopefully) fix it. Tomorrow was supposed to be the vital "hair care" day, no hot water means no hair washing etc etc

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Wednesday, 20th September 2017

Ashridge Farm Caravan Club Site (contd)

A cloudy, but dry and mild start to the day. 

Watching the news about the earthquake in Mexico, the third I think, in as many weeks, and, yet another category 5 hurricane heading for the islands of the Caribbean, our moans about the weather, just because it is a bit wet or a bit cold, are a rather pathetic, but, it is difficult to give up the habits of a lifetime!

After yesterday's strenuous cycling, I have been instructed to select a "gentle" route, for today.

Accordingly, I select a ride of ten miles, which is supposedly suitable for families with children in cycle trailers, with the destination being a coffee and cake shop. Sounds good.

We manage to find our way through the country lanes, no signposts in evidence, and, arrive at the coffee shop, only to find, it is closed on Wednesdays, and, today is, of course, Wednesday!

The going so far has been easy, I suspect the wind is behind us, and, there have been no significant hills.

Kathleen is full of enthusiasm, and, decides to plot a circular route back to Ashwell, using roads, which we guess will be quiet and relatively traffic free.

The road through Dunton and Eyeworth is the busiest, but, still acceptably quiet.

A rest in the church yard at Guilden Morden, just using a seat, not ready for a longer or more permanant stay
yet!, while we check the map, to ensure we are still heading in the right direction.

A stop for refreshments in Steeple Morden and the Waggon and Horses.

Finally, back to Ashwell, where we book a table at the Three Tuns, for our evening meal.

Just over 17 miles, and, we have actually covered three counties, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, and Cambridgeshire, so much for a "gentle" ten mile ride!

Evening meal, steak night in The Three Tuns, in Ashwell Village, excellent food, but, the acoustics leave something to be desired.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Tuesday, 19th September 2017

Ashridge Farm Caravan Club Site (contd)

After torrential overnight rain, during which, of course, we were warm and dry in the van, Tuesday starts dry, cloudy, and decidedly cool (which is Englishman's speak for "bloody freezing").

A quick search on the internet, and I find a local cycle route, Baldock, Ashwell, Wallington Loop, which is classified as an easy 13 miles.

Well, using our OS Map, we follow the route meticulously, and, according to Runkeeper, it is 16.19 miles!

It is mostly quiet country lanes, and dedicated cycle track, with only one major road to cross.

The countryside around here is, how shall I say, undulating.

Kathleen's verdict is that she likes the down undulating bits, but is not so keen on the up undulating bits.

But, on her new bicycle, she does very well, with not a word of complaint, only being defeated by one hill.

Although there is some consternation, when we have covered nine miles, and still not reached Baldock, which, we believe, is only approximately four miles from Ashwell. 

Eventually, we reach Baldock, without incident, and have a productive time, finding the location of the Catholic Church and the Tesco Supermarket, before retiring for a pleasant light lunch in Dizi, a small cafe, with a good range of light meals, sandwiches and drinks.

A quick check of the map, and, I confidently predict we do not have far to go, I also notice that our route crosses lots of contours, which means hills, I omit to mention this bit of information.

If I have learned anything in my 69 years, it is, sometimes, it is wise to say nothing.

Up until lunch time, the weather was dry, but cloudy, but, eventually, by lunch time, we have glorious sunshine.

The route from Baldock is definitely shorter, but, it appears to us to be more hilly, perhaps it simply that our legs have peddled almost sixteen miles by now!

Outside of the campsite, there is a track, signposted Icknield Way, allegedly the oldest road in Britain. Kathleen even has enough energy to spare to explore for a mile or so, along the track.

The rest of the afternoon we spend lazing in the sun, until that is, the clouds roll in again, in late afternoon

To Ashridge Farm, Ashwell, near Baldock

Monday, 18th September 2017

A leisurely start and a surprisingly traffic free drive to Ashridge Farm Caravan Club Site (N52.042988 E -0.142022), Ashwell Street, Ashwell, Baldock, Hertfordshire, SG7 5QF.

Ashridge Farm is a small site, very well kept, as you would expect from the Caravan Club.

We arrive mid afternoon, time to get set up, and have a little explore of Ashwell village, which is very pleasant, surprisingly, for such a relatively small place, with three potential eating places.

The weather is reasonable, cloudy, but, dry and mild, as we have our walk-about, but, by late evening, we have torrential rain. At least it is warm and dry inside the van!

There are some negatives, if such things matter to you:

1. Mobile Phone Signal (O2) is very patchy, and there is no Data signal on O2.

2. Mobile Data signal (3), is very week.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Melrose Gibson Park Club Site, Melrose, continued

Tuesday, 22nd August 2017

Cloudy with sun today, remarkably warm at 22C.

After yesterday's strenuous bicycle ride, I am not allowed to choose the route for today's bicycle outing.

Kathleen selects a trip to Galashiels, ten miles round trip, much more civilised, mostly along this very pleasant and well organised cycle track. For much of the way, it runs alongside a railway line, so, no steep gradients!.

Galashiels is a bigger place than Melrose, with at least two large supermarkets. Not as pleasant as Melrose however, with all of the signs of being "in decline", ie, a surplus of Charity Shops.

Wednesday, 23rd August 2017.

True Scottish weather this morning, pouring with rain!

By lunch time, the rain has stopped, and, the sun emerges, between the clouds, occasionally.

An appetite building three mile stroll along the banks of the River Tweed, followed by a very pleasant lunch at the Kings Arms Hotel, followed by an afternoon of sitting in the sun.

Thursday, 24th August 2017

Mild and sunny this morning. Going to be a nice day, according to the weather forecast, typical, the day we are leaving.

A leisurely packing exercise, before the drive home.

Enroute, Kathleen receives the telephone call she has been eagerly awaiting, to say that Grand-daughter, Mollie, has excelled herself with her GCSE results, only the "A" levels and Degree to worry about now!

Monday, 21 August 2017

Melrose Gibson Park Club Site, Melrose

Sunday, August 20th 2017.

The best plans of mice and men, and all that, anticipating heavy traffic on Western Bypass, Gateshead, around Metro Centre, we go via Tyne Tunnel, only to find the Newcastle Central Motorway (A167M), is closed northbound, with a convoluted diversion through 20mph speed bump littered streets in place!

Once clear of Newcastle and diversions, a scenic and traffic free drive mostly along the A68, to arrive after the inevitable rush of new arrivals, so, it is not all bad news.

The weather is pleasant, if not "full summer", time for a leisurely lunch, and an exploratory stroll around Melrose.

Melrose Gibson Park Club Site (N55 35'51" W2 43'26"), is a Caravan Club Site, or, to give the Club it's new name, the Caravan and Motorhome Club) and is typically clean, tidy and well run. 

Less than 5 minutes stroll brings you to a Coop Supermarket, and/or into the town, with a selection of Cafes, Shops, plus the ruins of Melrose Abbey.

Melrose Abbey founded in 1136 met it's demise in 1560 (Henry viii strikes again), and, is supposedly the final resting place of Robert the Bruce's heart. 

Monday, 21st August 2017

Although the weather forecast says it is going to rain, the reality, at the moment at least, is sunshine and only a very light wind.

I select a cycle ride from the Scottish Tourist Office recommendations.

Not entirely a success, nothing wrong with the ride, only that I fear it is meant for people thirty years younger than Kathleen and I, with mountain bikes.

The first two or three miles are fine, quiet "B" road, good surface, reasonably flat.

Then comes two miles of "off road", path, up a steep hill, heavy going walking, even heavier walking and pushing a bicycle, I am not popular.

A two mile long slog uphill from Newton St Boswell, not steep, but, it does go on and on, brings us to Bowden, for a well deserved rest.

We don't know it yet of course, but, we have are to have a nice coast downhill, to be followed by another long slow climb towards Melrose.

At least the final stretch is downhill, into the valley, but, this does not mean that Kathleen has forgotten the five uphill miles!

I am not sure I will be trusted to choose any
more routes, this trip, if ever again.

Refreshed by a light lunch, we stroll for another three miles around Melrose.