Welcome to our little home on the net. We are Steve & Rosemary and live in Buckinghamshire, UK. This is a blog of our life, sometimes interesting, but mainly boring. It is very picture orientated as Steve loves to take pictures, especially of wildlife. Sometimes he has his arm twisted by Rosemary and takes the odd snap of a weed.
The COVID pandemic had put paid to many events, last year and this year. One of the annual events was the Gonville and Caius Benefactors Day. We had missed a few, not just through COVID, but also because it clashes with the Download Music Festival. This year Caius held the Day, not in June, but in September.
We decided to attend, and to stay in Cambridge for the week. We pitched up at the Cambridge Camping and Caravan site pitch in Trumpington, on Friday 10th September, leaving again on Friday 17th. Cambridge was full of graduates attending their degree ceremonies. These had been held over from 2020. There were crowds of people standing in the street outside the Senate House. Privacy seems important these days, the railings had been covered to stop people gawking at the graduates and their families on the lawn.
The Caius Benefactors Day was on a lovely sunny Saturday afternoon. We walked in early but did not have to queue, quickly finding the waiters and the wine supplies. Lunch was good. We conversed with several different people, none from my year. There was a talk from the Master, an exhibition in the library & an organ recital. A few days later we entered Caius again. Not very welcome, the porter was not keen and told us to be quick, and not to enter any buildings other than the Chapel.
During the rest of the week, we visited the Botanic Gardens on a beautiful sunny day, eating lunch at the café. Another day was spent at the Sedgewick Museum of Earth Sciences, and the Whipple Museum of the History of Science. Of course we had coffee at St Michael’s Cafe and some wine outside the Cambridge Wine Merchants (they sell Ricard!).
Nearer the campsite we walked over to Hobson’s Park Bird Reserve, a nature reserve surrounded by the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Addenbrookes Road and new housing in Trumpington. The bird reserve is made purposefully difficult to get near with ditches and earth works. There was a useless hide; willow trees in front were blocking any view of the birds. I think the lake was full of geese, we could hear them from the campsite, leaving and arriving at dusk and dawn.
The weather was mainly good, except for the day we travelled to Saffron Walden. That Tuesday it rained most of the day. We were soaked through waiting for the bus. Saffron Waldron had a rather deserted market, which packed up while we were there. A good Turkish lunch time meal at Meze By Night. At one stage, R thought her legs might fall off cos they were so wet & heavy. I queried whether she meant her trousers, but she said she wasn’t sure. We did manage to visit the Fry Gallery, but it was in a temporary location, so few Ravilious paintings on show. Only one, I think.
West Runton 23rd – 27th August
I managed to book a short weekday camping trip (Monday night through Thursday night) to the Camping and Caravan club site in West Runton. It was impossible to book days that included the weekend. The school holidays, and the British Staycation this year conspired against late bookings. We also were unable to get an electric hook-up, so took the solar panel to keep the leisure battery charged. This campsite is in a wooded area with a long dirt track down to the site. We were shown around the site, viewing several potential spots, choosing one that was about 100 metres from the loos and children’s playground. Interestingly during the course of the week, the row we parked on became a complete row of VM campervans. How good is that!!!
This was the first time we have booked a campsite in school holidays, and were fearing the place would be overrun with screaming kids. Yes there were many children, and they were enjoying themselves, but you could easily block them out and come 11pm, there was total silence. Not at all bad, and in future we won’t actively block out school holidays.
Four-legged pets are permitted. R was thrilled to find a tortoise and a hamster.
Our neighbours had stayed in a campsite here a few weeks ago. They gave us some tips.
Tuesday – Cromer and West Runton
The next day we walked to the coast at West Runton, via Incleborough Hill to look over the sea. From here you could see numerous, alarming other campsites and holiday homes. The nearest one to us was the Caravan and Motorhome club site. There is a footpath through this site, allowing us alien campers to walk through their site to West Runton.
We walked down the hill to the sea, where we watched a couple of huge motorhomes trying to turn around after ignoring the height restriction signs at the entry to the lane. A difficult manoeuvre as they were turning on a steep slipway into the sea. Some skidding of tyres on the concrete as they attempted to extract themselves from their predicament. But, they succeeded. Did not find any fossils here.
Lunch time, we headed back to the Village Inn for a drink and some food. Absolute disaster, they had beer, and a large menu of food, with only two items on, sausage rolls being the highlight of their menu. Very poor show. We asked if it was a Covid or Brexit problem, Not sure we were answered.
Being OAPs we headed for the bus stop and caught a bus to Cromer where we went in search of the Banksy. Thankfully someone had put its location onto Google Maps. It was quite a way from Cromer Pier, so 800 meters east, just beyond the beach huts. Good position, only those who really wanted to see it would be bothered to walk that way. R found bits of belemnites & a witches stone. Our neighbours had done better.
Back to West Runton on the bus and a coffee and cream tea in the Hole in One Sports Bar. Yet not quite up to scratch, two scones, but a minute amount of clotted cream and jam. Then the walk up the hill, and a BBQ for supper.
Wednesday – Felbrigg Hall
Today we went for a walk to the National Trust house of Felbrigg Hall. This was a circular walk which took us through woods, past active quarries, down farm tracks and through parkland to the hall. We managed our weekly Sadgits zoom call near a heavy plant crossing. We had to mute the call each time a load of extracted sand was driven past us. We had lunch in the Hall’s café and then viewed the house.
There was a huge walled garden in the grounds. This was definitely the highlight. Never seen such huge buddleia flowers. It would be well worth coming and viewing at different times of the year.
Finally we set off again to complete the walk back to the campsite, the route back was shorter (much to R’s relief).
Tonight the fish and chip van was on site. The chips were fabulous, Rosemary wished she had chosen some. The big snag was I waited 90 minutes in a queue by which time it was getting dark & chilly.
Thursday – North Norfolk Railway
Today we headed off the Sheringham on the bus via West Runton. We arrived at the North Norfolk Railway (The Poppy Line) and purchased tickets for the heritage steam line. It is quite a short trip, stopping at a couple of stations before terminating in Holt. Here we had a long walk to the centre of the town, but not until after checking out the 1930s decorated “house” built from a railway carriage complete with a lean-to, which had R crooning.
Well worth the walk, because we passed the public school of Greshams, which seemed to go on for ever and ever. Wonder how much the fees are? Bonus for parents, they take kids from 2 to 18.
Holt was busy, and the recommended (neighbours) Folly Tearoom was full, complete with a queue. Another would-be customer asked if the café took bookings. Only in advance, said the young waitress. We gave up. Instead we went to Bywfrds for lunch. After lunch a little grockling, and then bus back to Holt for the return trip. We did visit the delightful museum on the platform while we waited.
At Sheringham we walked down to the sea, huge strong wind. The town was also very busy. Interesting display of Tintin in one of the shops. Back to the bus stop and a walk back to our campsite. Started the BBQ for another steak. We were doing our cooking on charcoal. The status of the gas was low, and there was no possibility of buying a replacement gas cylinder. The Staycation has created many new campers, who had bought up all the cylinders during the previous months. (Actually did find Calor Gas in the very local farm equipment shop when we got home.)
Martham and Norwich
Today we packed up and were heading home. First stop was to see friends cum relatives on the way home. So headed to Martham where step-brother Nick has a boatyard and rents out electric day boats and beautiful wooden sail Broads-cruisers. Step-sister Liz was there too. Both very busy helping clients. Before arriving we stopped for lunch at the Poppyland Tearoom. This stop was by chance, we had intended to go to the nearby Nelson pub. Not closed, but looked a bit Covid/Brexit hit, selling food and drinks through a hatch. Backtracked to the Tearoom we had just passed. This was themed Dad’s Army style with unexploded bomb, and Anderson shelters. The food was served army style. Check out my cappuccino decoration. all brilliant. You may see a theme, Poppy line, and Poppy tearoom. This area of Norfolk was well know for growing poppies.
Afterwards we stopped off in Norwich to see step-mum Ann & Liz’s partner Bob. We were shown their newly landscaped garden. Landscaped by Bob and Liz. It was a remarkable change and must have looked even better earlier in the year.
We were invited to join a trip to Wakefield, with two other couples, to visit the Hepworth Wakefield for the special exhibition “Barbara Hepworth: Art & Life”, a celebration for the museum’s tenth anniversary. Hepworth spent much of her life after WW2 in Cornwall, but Wakefield lays claim to her because she was born there.
The trip was a first for us, we would have to charge the Polestar 2 away from home. The return trip being too far for a full charge. Rosemary experienced range anxiety on the way there, but Steve had planned several charging locations in Wakefield, and scouted out some emergency stops on the motorway.
The idea was all three couples on the trip would stay at the Holiday Inn Express, meeting up for outings. Restaurants and pub venues had been booked or selected by Norman.
We set off at 9.40 and arrived at our first stop, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, at 12.20 with more than 40% charge remaining in the battery. The others visited different places.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
There are two entries to the park, we chose the larger main entry to the North. It seemed very busy with families coming to walk around the extensive grounds. First stop the loos, after which we munched on our Ginsters Cornish Pasties for lunch. We did not do the park justice, it is absolutely huge. We did not even go near to the lake, let alone walk on the lakes south side. Three Henry Moore sculptures were set in open park land, and there were many Barbara Hepworth bronzes in the series ‘Family of Man’. Good to fantasize about which we’d like to have at home. The sculptures I photographed were:
- Masayuki Koorida, Flower
- Squares with Two Circles, Barbara Hepworth
- Eduardo Paolozzi, Vulcan
- Barbara Hepworth, The Family of Man
- Niki de Saint Phalle, Buddha
- Elisabeth Frink, Standing Man
- William Turnbull, Large Idol
- David Nash, Barnsley Lump and Three Stones
- William Turnbull, Large Horse (R wanted this one)
- Kenny Hunter, Bonfire
- Marialuisa Tadei, Night and Day
- Marialuisa Tadei, Octopus
- Nigel Hall, Crossing (Horizontal)
- Dennis Oppenheim, Trees: From Alternative Landscape Components
- Kimsooja, A Needle Woman: Galaxy was a Memory, Earth is a Souvenir
- Ai Weiwei, Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads
- Anthony Caro, Promenade
- Anthony Caro, Dream City
- Mark di Suvero, The Cave
- Henry Moore, Large Two Forms
- Sean Scully, Crate of Air
- Henry Moore, Three Piece Reclining Figure
- Ursula von Rydingsvard, Heart in Hand
Afterwards we made our way to the Asda on Asdale Road, Wakefield, mainly to charge the car on a 50KW charger. It was occupied, but by the time I had registered on the ENERGIE app and entered my credit card details, the owner of the charging car had returned and disconnected the charger. I dutifully parked and plugged in and started the charge. At the 40% level, the car was able to take the full 50KW, but slowed down when 80% was reached. We waited until we had a full 90% charge. We were there charging for a few minutes more than an hour. Surprisngly, I found the charge was free. R went into Asda in search of polish & preserved whole lemons, but neither was to be had.
Next we checked in at the Holiday Inn Express. Rosemary had found out that parking was limited, and it was, but we managed to find a space and parked. Basic hotel (well it was only £55 a night), but comfortable with friendly staff. After settling in, we walked to Harrys Bar, a pub selected by Norman for its reported good beer. We located the pub, nearby, but it was a little difficult to find the entrance. Norman and Valerie were nowhere to be seen. A few mins later, messages from them confirmed they had gone the wrong way, but after recovering from this detour, they still could not find the entrance immediately. Viv and Bill were a little later, but had no issues finding the bar which had an excellent selection of beers.
We thought Harrys Bar had been selected for its proximity to Dolce Vita, the Italian restaurant where we were to be eating later. This was not the case, and was pure coincidence because the location of Dolce Vita had been assumed to be elsewhere (we think confusion over a bakery with a similar name some distance away). The Dolce Vita restaurant is in a rather ugly building when viewed from the outside, looking very much like a utilitarian discount store. Inside it was light, clean and very welcoming. We had an excellent meal here, which started with a Negroni for me, and Negroni with added prosecco for Viv and Valerie (think R had an espresso martini). A nice end to the day.
Next day we were up for breakfast, which for R and I was the full English (R made a mistake in her ordering cos she didn’t really want it) then it was to the Hepworth Museum (a treat in itself) to see the special exhibition. We spent three hours there, including a light lunch in the café. We spent a couple of hours afterwards, walking around in the rain, first visiting the Chantry Chapel of St Mary the Virgin, which is built on a bridge over the River Calder. R and I also walked to the Trinity shopping Mall to see a Barbara Hepworth, but that had mysteriously changed into Hubert Dalwood’s, Minos. A visit to the Cathedral, and then back to the hotel.
We all met up for a drink at the Black Rock pub, another pub with a good selection of beers, before eating at the nearby Qubana. Modern tapas menu, or starter mains. Very noisy to start with, no sound deadening upholstery in the restaurant. This abated somewhat, as most of the diners appeared to have come early to eat before going on elsewhere. It was again a good meal at very reasonable cost. Norman chooses well.
From the visits to the pubs, I was directed to an app called Real Ale Finder. It shows pubs selling real ales, and is updated by the landlords to show what is on tap. Unfortunately is appears to have a mainly Northern following, and is not much used by pubs around here.
National Trust Nostell Priory
Another morning and breakfast saw us checking out and making our separate ways. But we happened to go the same way as Bill and Viv, to the National Trust house of Nostell Priory. A house set in parkland. We managed a tour of the house. The most notable exhibit to me was the wooden clock built by John Harrison in 1717 when we was only 24. John Harrison went on the build the marine chronometer which aided navigators in calculating their longitude.
Lunch in the courtyard and a walk around the walled gardens before we set off home, arriving back with plenty of power left. With more and more green electricity being produced, it is great to believe the coal mine owners and oil producers will be going broke. So long as they and their investors are made to clear up the mess, and are not allowed to divest their liabilities into shell companies designed to go broke..
We travelled down to Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens to meet up with Rosemary’s nephew, Robert.
This was the longest trip we have done in the Polestar, about 200 miles, we returned with plenty of electrons in the tank, despite travelling at motorway speeds. We spied another Polestar 2 as we left the M25 and joined the M40.
The gardens were fabulous, and we did not do them justice. There was plenty more for us to explore another time. The gardens have some permanent sculptures and were also hosting an exhibition of sculptures for sale. There is also a dolls house exhibition which is surprisingly good. The only downside to the place was very poor catering. (Covid??) We ended up with sandwiches and fizzy drinks.
On the 24th of July, we had the fortieth anniversary of KCRC. This started with a clay shoot. The shoot was interesting because we were able to shoot black powder guns. Additionally, there was a flurry to be shot by teams of three.
After the shoot, Mickey Rouse, the 1990 World FITASC Sporting Champion and FITASC World Cup winner showed us some trick shooting. Firing from the hip, hitting long-range targets, and firing at balloons, eggs, golf balls, cabbages and melons.
After the shoot, we were entertained to a fabulous roast BBQ with numerous side dishes, at Dawn and Brian’s home.