Friday, 30 July 2010


I've been out of internet coverage for eight days while we camped in a field just outside Weymouth. We intended to stay two or three nights but we couldn't drag ourselves away. Love Weymouth. Couldn't believe how much there was to see. Apart from Weymouth itself there was Portland Bill and Chesil Beach, and further afield we went fossil hunting in Charmouth and walking in Jane Austin's footsteps along The Cob in Lyme Regis. And while the rest of the country has been washed out, we've had wall-to-wall sunshine every day.

One of the highlights was a production of Oliver by Weymouth Amateur Operatic. A very professional job they made of it, and it made a change to be in the audience instead of in the pit – at least, for once, I got to see what happens during the songs.

We also visited Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens. Didn't expect much, in the end I ran out of superlatives. Abbotsbury was, no question, the best gardens either of us have ever visited. Fabulous.

Prize for most fun goes to fossil-hunting at Charmouth Beach. Expected to be tripping over fossils, found nothing. But the beach was full of kids with amateur fossil hunting kits beating hell out of the cliffs with hammers and chisels. One kid, about five years old, had plastic goggles for eye protections while devastated the cliff-side with a pick axe. At this rate there'll be nothing left in a couple of years. The cliffs had visibly eroded in the couple of hours we were there.

Today, though, we had to move. Back at work on Monday and I wanted to escape the worst of the M5 before the weekend, so we moved to Slimbridge in Gloucestershire. We didn't quite escape the worst of the M5, though. A two hour trip became three hours. Worst was the chaos in the motorway services. We tried them all and couldn't get into any until reaching my namesake services only fifteen miles from our destination. Had to stop, though. There's only so much bladder control a person can exercise. It's mad. The M5 always suffers, every summer. And it's not the fault of caravanners, it's everyone. The M5 is the gateway to Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset... A lot of people want to go there. So why don't they do something about the motorway and the lack of services. We don't need shops selling sweets and CDs and windbreaks and latte. Just a bloody-big carpark every now and again, with toilets and a place to rest would be fine. They keep putting up the signs "Tiredness can Kill, Take Break." Hell, yes, agreed. So give us somewhere to take one!!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Old Plastic Stuff

For two days we have dodged the rain. Here's what the view from the sight looks like when the weather is behaving. Yesterday we went inland and visited Montecute House, a National Trust Elizabethan Manor, and we spent the day in the house and wandering round the gardens with the sun shining and no hint of the biblical deluge that was ravaging the rest of the country.

Today we have stayed local because its laundry day. There's a tatty but serviceable coin-op in Willeton village and this served us well.

The other attraction in Willeton is the Bakelite Museum. It sounds a bit dubious, and I do have an aversion against privately owned seaside museums where the aim is often to lure tourists in from the rain for less than five minutes of marginal entertainment, but at great cost. The Bakelite Museum wasn't like that at all. It was a gem. No labels on most of the stuff so you make your own mind up, but the place was packed with fascinating tat from the past. I had no idea Bakelite was ever so versatile. Trouble is, though, I remembered a lot of it, especially the old hoovers like the one my Nan had, which lurked in a dark corner under the stairs and provided me with hours of childhood recurring nightmares. Maybe they will recur again. Maybe I will wake in the night screaming that Hoover is back, and its out to get me. Time for a cuppa, I think.

So we end up in Watchet, drinking tea. Watchet is nice enough. There's a cracking museum. Another museum. This one is free and it's full of fossils and old axe haeds and although its small it is really interesting.

And then, at four thirty, we both have the same idea. The field is dry and mud free. We've seen Somerset. Time to move on. We're hooked up and on the road again by five and heading for Weymouth in Dorset. Never been to Weymouth before. I hope we've made the right decision.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Heading South

That just about sums up the plan for our main holiday this year. We wanted to be spontaneous. So, with nothing booked, just a glove-box full of camping books, we headed south to see what would happen. Exciting stuff.

So, here's the view from our caravan window. This is Somerset. The Quantocks to be precise. We haven't been before, so it's a new experience. The rain isn't, though.

Here's the thing: the rain in Somerset is the same as rain anywhere else. So after sitting out the best summer for years, in air-conditioned office misery, I get to see the start of the familiar old "unsettled patch" coinciding with the first day of our summer holiday. It will be better tomorrow, I'm sure. In fact it's brightening up on the horizon as I type this.

We're staying on a temporary holiday site run by Somerset DA, to begin with. We'll stay until we've seen enough. It's a well-run site with a marvellous view down to Blue Anchor Bay (when we can see it). Today we visited Minehead, which seems okay, although it's hard to form a fair opinion of a seaside resort during a five-hour deluge. There are plenty of tea shops, and that is an important attribute in times such as these, although right now I'm just about tea'd out.

We also went to Dunster Castle. A good place to hide from the rain, too. Especially as it's free to us, as NT members. At first I thought that it could do with a tea room, too, but the picturesque village of Dunster, a couple of minutes walk away, more than makes up for this. Sarah enjoyed the doll museum in Dunster. I found it a bit creepy. Dolls. It must be a girl thing.

Okay, the rain has eased to a mere drizzle so I'm off to the tap to fill up the aquaroll. Happy days.