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Three go to Devon Again!

This time to Brixham.

Another staycation planned for this year 2022. I suppose it is a little guilt on my behalf that I have planned a few retirement trips away with my wife, Claire, and Reggie the dog. I have a trip planned to Czech for a bike rally at the end of May and as I will be going either solo or with a couple of biking buddies, Claire understandably was a little pee'd off.

So to make up for this I have been looking at trips to do all together. After nearly two years of "working from home", not furloughed like the really lucky people, I had to work every day. Online and 8 hours a day right up until my retirement day! Furlough, paid to sit at home and go on holiday!

So this trip in early May is to Brixham in Devon. The last time we "did" Devon was in 2019 and it was nice whilst we were there but a complete and utter pain in the ass to drive. Over 7 hours with only an hour of stops (all calculated by my TomTom 410!) to get there and over 8 to drive back. It was only 270 miles!

So this time the wisdom of regular travellers is to leave at the crack of dawn or even earlier and drive most of the way there and then rest when nearby. Hopefully beating the traffic and the rush hour of people getting to work. It will be a Friday to Friday let and so I expect it to be busy with people getting away for the weekend as the day progresses.

Where to go for days out whwn we are there. I have the National Trust book and there are a few places that are dog friendly. We are there a full week and so we have time. We might be able to get up and see Claire's friend Robin again and see his lovely house or even his restaurant! Dartmoor of course.

I also want to take a drive along the coast and look at the beaches at Slapton Sands and also take in the Kingswear Ferry! I've not been on a ferry for quite a few years.

Updates of course as they happen.

Posted by InvictaMoto 14:34 Archived in England Tagged devon brixham three_go_to_devon_again Comments (0)

Birthday Bash Staycation - Peak District

Druid Farm, Birchover, Derbyshire

sunny 8 °C
View Matlock 22 on InvictaMoto's travel map.

This has been booked for months and months as a getaway for a few days for my wife Claire's birthday. Since she retired we have been straight into the covid lockdowns and now that I have joined her on the retirement scrapheap we need to get away. With covid hanging about and maybe the globe having to "live with it", maybe it is time to take jabs and move on with life.

We set off tomorrow. We can't be in the cottage until after 3pm. According to Google Maps the non-toll route is about 4h 27m. That is of course without stops or Reggie to stretch his legs. On the motorways he settles down in the car and goes to sleep, or at least lies down. On more winding roads he likes to sit up.

This trip has been booked through cottages.com. They have lots of dog friendly places to rent all across the country. We used them for the Norfolk Trip last August.

As we are only up there for three full days we need to cram as much into the stop as we can. Wednesday will be the drive up. And Sunday the drive back. The route we have chosen avoid the Dartford Crossing. Every time we have tried it we have been stuck in traffic and taken ages to get across it. When going to Norfolk it is really the only option, but to Derbyshire there is what we call the long way around, on the southern M25 that actually, according to Google takes 7 minutes longer for the entire trip!

So now with a less than a day to go I need to check the oil in the car, check the tyres and fill up the washer bottle! There's not much else to do.

And then in the morning we are off. Hopping from one motorway services to the next to give Reggie with leg stretches and pee breaks.

Updates to follow.

Posted by InvictaMoto 12:58 Archived in England Tagged derbyshire peak_district druid_farm birchover Comments (0)

Three Go To Norfolk - Days 6 to 8

Days 6 to 8

Day 6

Drizzling earlier on and we had to decide where to go. We decided on a tour of the Broads.

Satnav set firstly for Wroxham. There are supposed to be walks from around the bridge over the River Bure.

Problem one was finding somewhere to park. Hardly any parking signposted. The town was rammed with tourists. In the end we found a free parking space at the end of Church Road. A relatively short walk to the centre.

As we had no idea where to go, we ended up wandering around the boatyard where the rental boats go from, before finding our way to the bridge.

A coffee and scone later at the Wherryman's Café before we gave up on the hunt for the elusive walks.

We decided to try Horning. Again nowhere to park and so we opted for Potter Heigham. Somewhere to park and have a walk, and Reggie to get out.

Potter Heigham has a massive car park essentially belonging to Latham's shop for their customers. Or so the signs inform everyone.

We were customers as we wanted to get some gifts to take back to neighbours who are watering our garden and collecting our mail.

I had failed with that at Roy's in Wroxham. But instead Latham's came up trumps. And labelled to show where the shortbread was bought. Job done.

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Whilst Claire was affecting the purchase, Reggie and I went to check on the low bridge over the river.

I'd not been here since the late 60's when as a family we did the Broads in a cabin cruiser.

No larger boats made the trip through the bridge, but a couple of small boats and several swans did.

Once rejoined we had a walk along the River Thurne path.

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Then one more stop. St Benet's Abbey. Another place where we moored up to visit some 50 plus years ago. "Up Around the Bend" by Creedence Clearwater Revival was #1 in the charts back then. Very apt for being on the Broads!

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The Tower in the centre is an 18th Century windmill built inside the 13th Century Abbey ruins.

The last couple of miles were along a extremely bumpy and rough single track.

From the Abbey we retraced our steps to the main road and we were away towards Norwich and Clinton Cottage.

Tomorrow is our last full day up here. Where to go? Fellbrigg Hall NT?

Day 7

Today's target was Felbrigg Estate. It's a little way off the A140 towards Cromer.

We set off late as contrary to the forecast it had rained and was drizzling. Car loaded and we were off. Despite Nissan Connect showing a looping route via Dereham we actually went almost the same way as yesterday.

The newish A1237 was again coned down to one lane and a ludicrous 10mph limit showing. Not much evidence of any work though. Quelle surprise!

Once we arrived it was a case of waterproofs on and a walk to check out the walks. We decided on the blue waymarked "Church & Lake" walk. At 1.7 miles far enough in drizzle.

We had a coffee and Claire took a walk to the Walled Garden. Reggie not allowed so we hung about outside. The rain stopped. Waterproof off. Rain started. Waterproof on.

We got part way into the blue walk when we found the field we were crossing was full of sheep. Reggie isn't the sort of dog that bothers with sheep, but there were far too many for comfort.

The rain got more serious and the combination meant we aborted the mission early.

We set the controls not for the heart of the sun, but for Clinton Cottage.

One stop at Starbuck's for a couple of fraps. One complaint. The eco friendly cardboard straws are shite. They mush up way before you have drunk half the drink!!!!

And guess what? The sun came out and was dry and sunny once we arrived back in Yaxham.

Today is our last day here and so we can have a quiet afternoon before we start panicking with packing up for the 9am departure tomorrow.

Day 8

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home where my thought's escapin'
Home where my music's playin'
Home where my love lies waitin'
Silently for me

(Thanks to Simon & Garfunkel)

We had to be out of the cottage at 9am, and after a restless night we were up and the car packed with 5 minutes to spare. The plan was to go to Monks Eleigh to visit Claire's cousins before heading to the A12.

Whilst in Monks Eleigh I took Reggie for a turn around the churchyard. I saw a sign to say that there were some Commonwealth War Graves in there, St Peters Church. There were two well tended graves with the traditional white Portland Stone headstones.

Reggie had a snuffle around the long grass and hedges. We had tea and biscuits and then all too soon we had to leave. Expecting traffic to be awful we left before 1pm.

An aborted stop at the overflowing car park opposite Colchester United's football ground later, we eventually stopped at the "services" at Chelmsford. Not as I remember them. A huge McDonald's and a poor excuse for a shop at the fuel station.

A couple of chicken sandwiches later and we were off. traffic alternating slow and then fast, then slow.... We arrived home at 4.01pm. Even the queue to the Queen Elizabeth Bridge wasn't too bad.

Posted by InvictaMoto 15:45 Archived in England Tagged norfolk wroxham roy's potter_heigham Comments (0)

Three Go To Norfolk - Days 1 to 5

Day 1 to 5 Away.

Day 1

The car was packed and we set off around the scheduled 1030am departure time.

All was plain sailing until on the A2 we began the descent down the hill, after the Bluewater turn off, towards the M25 for the Dartford Crossing.

Solid traffic over the flyover and the same nonsensical two lanes into one to join the already stationery traffic.

We wanted to get off to get into the service area at Thurrock and so chose the left tunnel. From the A2 to the entrance to the tunnel it took 40 minutes. A further ten until we parked up.

A takeaway Costa later we were on the road. We planned to stop again before arriving at Claire's sister's house near Stowmarket.

The service area at Colchester across the A12 from the football ground was packed. So I aborted. In the end we stopped just before Ipswich.

In total it was about 4 hours from home to the A12/A14 roundabout just south of Ipswich.

We had a pleasant couple of hours with lunch and scones before the last hour's drive to the Cottage with a quick drop in at Tesco.

The cottage is self contained in the garden of the the main house. One bedroom, kitchen and lounge.

The garden is L-shaped and secure with fences all around.

We had a few problems with Reggie overnight as he wanted to be on the bed. In the end he found his own bed and we got some sleep.

Day 2

We had a late start after the rough night with Reggie.

After breakfast we got togged up and chose Old Hunstanton as the destination.

The beach there is dog friendly all year around and there's a big parking area.

After one false start where the satnav took us to the wrong place, we eventually parked. It's about £2 an hour. Four quid later we set off along the top of the cliff to the Lighthouse Café.

Lunch for us. Good value sandwiches. So-so coffee.

Nearby are two buildings. The lighthouse itself, and the Coastguard look out building.

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And then to the beach. Both of us had shorts on so paddling was okay but we had forgotten the aqua shoes at home. Still carrying trainers wasn't that difficult.

The sea was about a quarter of s mile out and it looked as though the tide was going out.

I let Reggie off the lead do he could run free. He loves the sea and was soon enjoying himself.

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We stayed there until the parking was almost up. So we walked back, dried feet and drove back to the cottage.

This time via Morrison's to get dinner.

An evening if relaxing to follow...

Where tomorrow?

Day 3

Today's visit was to the National Trust site at Blickling Estate.

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Nissan Connect claimed it was around 19.5 miles away but the cross country journey seemed more like 50. It took over an hour.

On arrival I found a good parking place. As it was grass with no marked spaces I did leave plenty of room to get the back door open to sort Reggie out.

We had a coffee whilst we perused the map.

Some areas are dog friendly and that includes both the café by the entrance and the Courtyard restaurant nearer the house.

We decided on the Lake Walk and set off. It says it's 1.9 miles but my phone registered that I walked 3.1 miles!

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I brought the Nikon D50 with me. It's bulkier than a phone but generally takes good photos.

The walk is around the outside of the main house and garden. It's a little uneven in places. One stumble and I felt something rip. Yes. My shorts. Rent asunder around the undercarriage.

After the walk we retired to the café and enjoyed a sausage roll with Reggie. Washed down with Lipton's Lemon Tea.

Rather than "enjoy" the country lanes on the way back I set the navigation for Aylsham Station.

This is the northernmost station on the Bure Valley Light Railway.

I wanted to see what it was like and maybe see the trains. On the platform were a couple of diesels.

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I like heritage railways but Reggie doesn't.

From here we returned to Clinton Cottage but via the more major roads, A140 and A47, rather than the potholed back lanes.

Once back it was time to sit in the garden with a book/kindle and a large mug of tea.

Tomorrow. Bressingham Gardens. Claire to meet her sister Sally for a wander about. The site looks positively dog unfriendly and despite another railway 🚂 museum I need to look for something Reggie and I can do....

Day 4

Up and out at 10am. It's cloudy today with a chance of rain early.

Today we have two destinations. Claire is meeting sister Sally to look at the gardens at Bressingham. Reggie not allowed in the garden.

There is also a garden centre where Reggie can go, and a Steam Railway 🚂 where he can't.

So the plan is to drop her off and head to a nearby fen and have a walk.

Stage one successful and we met up with Sally. Whilst there I took a photo of the big steam engine outside.

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Stage two to find Redgrave and Lopham Fen. It's dog friendly. Luckily it is signposted off the A1066 about two miles west of Bressingham.

Once parked and Reggie on the lead we checked the walks board. I chose the spider trail. It's only 2kms but with iffy looking clouds that looked enough.

We had gone less than half a mile when we came across evidence of cows. A lot of evidence laid like land mines all over the paths.

In fact they were bullocks. A group of around a dozen were ahead. Mostly ignoring us but Reggie was reticent. One of the bullocks followed us. When I stopped it stopped until after about 50 yards it gave up.

Of the famous raft spider 🕷️ we saw nowt.

We did see a small brown deer. When I say we I mean me. Reggie spending his time sniffing the undergrowth.

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Maybe not the best wildlife photography...

We had a few stops for Reggie to have a drink. Then as we neared the visitor centre I saw the Lopham Loop, a 500m loop.

It was only as I saw the "land mines" that I realised we had joined the Spider Trail. Luckily no bullocks!

Then it began to rain. Back at the car, despite marked spaces, some 🤡 had parked so close I couldn't open the back door to get Reggie into his seat and harness.

Eventually we arrived back as Bressingham about 1220.

We had lunch and there are four tables, effectively in the entrance hall to the garden centre, where dogs are allowed. We had a table and lunch.

Whilst they went have a look around I went and put Reggie in the car for a rest, and went to watch the little steam train.

Once we said our goodbyes we headed towards Diss and Wymondham, stopping at Waitrose to shop for dinner tonight and tomorrow. Also picked up some beer and cider.

Tomorrow? Rain forecast. Maybe a "local" day.

Day 5

Raining.

It was forecast but was supposed to have been over by lunchtime. So we packed up the car and set off for Wells next the Sea. We picked the car park at Holkham Beach.

It looked to have dried up before we got there but it was cold and windy. We paid to park and had a coffee before a walk to the dog friendly beach, and then along the edge of the harbour.

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In the end we gave up and set off for Wells itself. Jam packed. Nowhere to park so we headed along the coast road towards Cromer before heading for home.

Eventually arriving back at Clinton Cottage at around 4.45pm.

Snacks and Kindle time.

Tomorrow the weather is slightly better before it all turns to shit on Thursday. So where to?

Posted by InvictaMoto 15:17 Archived in England Tagged norfolk Comments (0)

Three Go To Norfolk - Planning

Planning and booking stage

Three? Yes. Me, Claire and Reggie the patador dog.

As the country starts to pull itself out of the Covid pandemic and lockdowns we are hoping that by mid-August we can get a holiday.

Rather than bother with going to foreign climes, we decided to stay in England. I looked for somewhere dog friendly and with an enclosed garden. We decided on Norfolk.

We have thought about the county before and have ended up in Devon. After the 2019 journey to and back from Devon, where we could have been south of Lyon in the same time (!) we have marked the South-West in August as a write-off. At least until I retire when we can go at times when the school aged children are not on holiday! It's the nature of my job I am afraid.

So Norfolk it is. A cottage with enclosed garden and mostly 10/10 reviews. I paid part of the cost with £99 by cashing in some Tesco Clubcard points (£33 in vouchers) and the rest of the deposit on dear old Tesco MasterCard. At least we'll earn some more points to spend as vouchers from that!

Booked through cottages.com on the Tesco Clubcard page.

Just in case we have a problem driving home after possible meetings with relatives I have booked a hotel near Ipswich for the night.

It's also dog friendly and at £38 still quite a bargain. As usual I have used booking.com with the free cancellation and no prepayment option. If we aren't going to use it, then I have to cancel a couple of days before we are booked.

Sorted.

Posted by InvictaMoto 17:06 Archived in England Tagged england norfolk dereham dog_friendly Comments (0)

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