Monday 27th January – Doncaster to Milestone Caravan Site near Newark, Nottinghamshire (50 miles)
We were both awake relatively early, we were so grateful to Sonia for permitting us to ‘invade’ her house for the last eight days and we now know that ‘Big Momma’ fits comfortably on her drive and behind secure gates !! There was a tinge of excitement at ‘moving back in’ to what is now our own ‘Home’ and to not knowing where we may end up around the country. We are now on a ‘fuel budget’, which has to be shared between using ‘Big Momma’ and ‘Wuxly’, so with the mileage getting from Portsmouth to Doncaster in ‘Big Momma’, the several journey’s over the last week in ‘Wuxly’ and now being back ‘on the road’ in ‘Big Momma’, our fuel budget for the remainder of this month, albeit only five days, is on the low side so we will not be wandering too far, especially as we have to be back in a fortnight to get ‘Wuxly’ sorted. Remember those sayings I used to comment on, the ones that have been around for generations but where did they originate ? well here is another ‘Every cloud has a silver lining‘ ? Anyway our cloud has a silver lining because the Caravan Club pay travel and accommodation expenses, so once we receive the payment we can put the cost of the fuel we used in ‘Wuxly’, to attend the Interview/assessment Centre, back into the fuel budget !!
The one thing that I did not get the opportunity to do whilst at Sonia’s was to give ‘Big Momma’ a good wash and wax. However, on our way up to Doncaster we stopped at the ‘Milestone Campsite’ and we noticed that, unlike a lot of campsites, they permitted the washing of vans. We decided that as this was just one hours drive from Sonia’s that it would suit our immediate needs as it had good Hardstanding pitches, 16amp EHU, Motorhome Service Point, Laundry facilities and of course a heated washroom with Toilets and Showers, what more could we need. The nightly fee was £1.50 per night above our daily accommodation budget, but considering that we had just saved eight nights pitch fees our accommodation budget was currently pretty healthy so on this occasion we could withstand this outrageous display of lavish luxury :0) However, the weather could have a severe impact on this ‘vital’ task as this area, much like the rest of the UK, is scheduled for some heavy rain tomorrow !!
Shazza and I were talking on the drive down, we sometimes do that, and we actually calculated that we had not done any real exercise for nearly a fortnight. Since getting back to England we had not really eaten as healthily as we had been, Pork Pie, Fish ‘n’ Chips (twice!), cream cakes, chocolates and a massive Sunday ‘carvery’ roast dinner have all started to take their toll. So now back ‘on the road’ and a return to a bit more ‘personal discipline’ on our food intake and a bit of daily exercise, weather permitting of course ! There is one advantage to being over here, at least I won’t be undertaking ‘Shazza’s expeditions’ in flip-flops, not sure whether doing them in Wellington Boots will be any easier though !! We arrived on site, booked in, initially just for two nights, filled up with Fresh Water then settled onto a pitch of our own choice. We had selected one close to the reception and washroom facilities for two very good reasons. First, it was very cold so being close to the washrooms meant that we didn’t have far to walk for our showers. Second, the last time we were here we noted they had WiFi but we were told it was not a good signal away from the main reception building. We couldn’t even pick up the fact that the site had WiFi on any of our devices and we were not that far away from the reception. But this time, not only were we closer but we had our ‘Motorhome WiFi booster’ !! But first things first, we had been blessed with a bright sunny day, still cold but dry, so we decided to go for a walk to see what the nearby village had to offer. We got well wrapped up and set off, next door to the campsite was a small brewery, we could smell the yeast on the campsite but hadn’t realised the brewery was only next door, If only I was a beer drinker !! The village was pretty quiet but I suppose that is something we will have to get used to, we may be retired but there are still people who have to work towards theirs !! This is most certainly a ‘commuters’ village, being only six miles from the town of Newark, and which also has a mainline rail link to London. What was noticeable was the need to own a car if you lived here because the bus timetable reflected that during the week there was just one bus passing through the village at 07:22am and another at 17:30pm !! We only saw the one village store, a small ‘farm shop’ open ‘7 days a week’ and at the opposite end of the village a Church and a sign pointing to a ‘doll museum’, not really our cup of tea !! There were a couple of marked ‘Public Footpaths’ but we left them to be explored on another day, if we elect to stay a bit longer that is. Although the campsite has its own ‘small’ lake, we discovered, via ‘Google Maps’, that there is a much larger lake, privately owned, just to the rear of the campsite and there is a ‘public footpath’ around it, so another walking opportunity beckons.
Getting back to the warmth of the van it was time to try out the ‘WiFi Booster’. I followed all the instructions (again) and was pleased to see that the booster was picking up half a dozen WiFi signals, most were encrypted. One of the signals was from the ‘Milestone Caravan Park’ and although it was still showing as a weak signal at least I was picking it up. However, a password was required so I went to the reception and asked if their WiFi was free to use. The ‘Warden’ asked if I was able to pick it up as generally it was only available within the reception building, when I confirmed that it was she gave me the password and I returned to ‘Big Momma’, entered the password and my system connected. However, the signal strength was still pretty weak and kept dropping out, so much so that it wasn’t worth the effort or the frustration !! But at least I had proved that the system works, it cannot work miracles with such a weak signal, without the booster we couldn’t even see the site WiFi on our iPads but I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t get access to my Emails or my ‘blog’ admin. Oh well, will just have to try again on another site at some point.
Another thing that we have noticed since being back in the UK is that it gets dark earlier here than in Portugal, even though it is the same timeline ! Something to do with being further from the equator I suppose !! Anyway, we just shut ourselves in for the night, one thing we have here that we didn’t have in Portugal is Television. We didn’t really miss it but if you have it then use it !! Mind you it hasn’t improved that much either, we turned it off at 9pm and Shazza got on with whatever it was she wanted to do, made some bread dough, played games on her iPad whilst I started to do some refresher on my linguistic skills. We have decided to learn two languages each, Shazza French & Spanish whilst I will do German and Italian. I then listened to a bit of Jazz and Swing on my iPod until the charge ran out !!
When we woke up at 07:30am on Tuesday morning, there was no sound of rain on the roof ? The weather forecast stated heavy rain all day today, oh well, I guess I have no excuses for not washing the van !! But just after making the morning brew I heard that magical sound of raindrops tap-dancing above my head, oh well, back to bed then !!
By 10:00am the tap-dancing had finished and the sky looked brighter, it was still a bit on the chilly side though, but ‘Big Momma’ had not been washed for several weeks now and she didn’t deserve to be left looking shabby after serving us so well on our recent trip. So, well wrapped up, I commenced the task of making ‘Big Momma’ look nice and smart again. There is a saying that goes something like “the sun shines on the righteous”, well it must have been my turn as I managed to get ‘Big Momma’ washed, wheels cleaned, and even a bit of wax applied !! Just as I finished and got everything put away in the garage, the heavens opened, but ‘Big Momma’ was looking good again !!
There was no way that we were going to get the chance to explore any of the footpaths today and the weather forecast was not looking good for the rest of the week. We could sit it out here, the campsite has everything we need but the village lacks the basic essentials and with no regular bus service it would mean having to take ‘Big Momma’ into town. I guess this is where the ‘Caravanners and Small Motorhomers’ have the advantage !! We reviewed our options and decided that tomorrow we would move to a Caravan Club site at Peterborough for the next five days, again they have Hardstanding, essential in this wet weather, 16amp EHU and all the normal Motorhome facilities including WiFi, another chance to try out the booster system, if required that is ? The advantage at this location is that there are regular buses into Peterborough and the bus stop is only a ten-minute walk from the site. Subject to weather, there are miles of walking and cycle paths from the park that the site is located on so this will provide us with a good base. A telephone call to the site confirmed our booking and we discovered that at the weekend there will be a rally of forty other ‘units’ arriving, could be entertaining !!
With my iPod now re-charged I had to decide whether to just relax for the afternoon listening to some music or to refresh/learn a bit more of my ‘German’ course ? These are the kind of difficult decisions that I have to make these days, fortunately I was saved from this decision-making process when my mobile phone rang. It wasn’t anyone on my contacts list as a name wasn’t displayed and I didn’t recognise the number. My heart started to race when the caller said “Hello, is that Eric, this is Dee from the HR Department at the Caravan Club” we had not expected to hear anything for another week, was this going to be a disappointment ? “Congratulations, you and Sharon have been successful and we would like to invite you now to attend the training course in March“. I remember being very happy and of course confirming that we would most definitely be available but whatever else was discussed is just a blur !! Needless to say, I no longer had to make the decision on ‘music‘ or ‘language course‘ as we started to talk about our futures as an ‘Elf‘ and ‘Elfette‘ ! This was our little joke as the Caravan Club uniform is all ‘Green’ !!
Oh well, it’s another moving on day again tomorrow, does that signal another restless night ?……………………………