Apr/May 19 England Again

Our plan to prepare for a May trip to Scandinavia was now in question due to the increasing delapidation of the van floor. We had to take the van to SMC on 21 Mar for them to look at the floor and send photos to Globecar for advice. A fix was agreed and we returned on 1 Apr for the work to be carried out. Unfortunately, when they started work they discovered a considerable amount of water under the floor and had to refer back to Globecar. Sadly, we took the van away and decided to do a bit of travelling in England whist we awaited news.

Firstly we had a good family catch up. A lovely day was spent at our very own Stokes Bay with Suzanne and children.

Helpful Grandma
Small bods on the beach
Big beach, small girl!

After a wonderful day, we had tea at “The Cocked Hat” in Gosport. The children got their pyjamas on and cleaned their teeth in the ‘van, then set off home. Sylvie’s favourite memory of the day was cleaning her teeth in the ‘van! Aren’t children wonderful?!

Next day, we set sail for Hereford. We had stayed at a campsite in Moorhampton when I was still working, and we decided it would be a good spot for a bit more exploration. We plotted a scenic route and took the day to get there. It was an interesting experience getting ourselves through Hereford, but we made it after a couple of detours, and were rewarded with a beautiful sunny evening overlooking some lovely Herefordshire countryside.

View from Moorhampton campsite
Herefordshire hills lit up by the vibrant yellow rape

On monday we caught the bus to Llandrindod Wells. It was a very pretty, if expensive, journey through Herefordshire and then into Wales. Llandrindod Wells is an old Victorian Spa town which became popular when the railway arrived in 1864, enabling well to do Victorians to visit the fledgeling spa. The town prospered and became a rival to many of the more fashionable spas and resorts across the border in England.

The town is no longer as attractive but, it still has some fine Victorian buildings, two interesting museums and the rather lovely Rock Park. We walked through the Rock Park with its arboretum and drinking basin, and enjoyed the sense of times past. I didn’t take any pictures as it was a bit dull and I couldn’t seem to get any good views.

We only had a quick visit to Hereford itself on this trip as we have been there before. It is an attractive town centre with black and white buildings and a lovely cathedral that boasts the Magna Carta and a chained library. Well worth a visit.

Whilst at Moorhampton we took a day to drive around the Brecon Beacons and enjoy the scenery. We also stopped off for lunch at Hay on Wye which is famous for its many bookshops and the book festival. It is a charming little town with lots of independent arty and crafty shops as well as tea rooms and bookshops.

Following a few weeks in the bosom of our extensive family, in Bedfordshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire, we needed another change of scene. We had taken the opportunity of getting medical appointments whilst in Gosport and Clyde was booked in for an assessment on his knee, which is now very painful. That is an ongoing process which will ultimately result in another operation.

We didn’t want to go too far from Gosport, so we decided on a trip to Dorset and booked ourselves into a campsite at Moreton, which is a small village quite near to Dorchester. Moreton was the home of TE Lawrence, otherwise known as Lawrence of Arabia. Lt Col TE Lawrence was a British Army officer renowned for his liaison role during the Arab revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916-18. He lived at Clouds Hill, until his death in an accident in 1935. Clouds Hill is now a National Trust property nearby. His grave is in the cemetery in Moreton.

TE Lawrence grave in Moreton graveyard

Moreton village was a 2 mile walk from the campsite and has a lovely tea room, a botanic garden and a picturesque river. The church is known for its amazing engraved windows, the work of Sir Laurence Whistler. We were very impressed by the windows and felt it had been worth the 4 mile round trip at Clyde’s slow and painful pace.

River Frome in Moreton
Long walkway across the River Frome
Inside Moreton church
One of the engraved windows at St Nicholas’ church, Moreton
Engraving of the universe on window at St Nicholas’ church, Moreton
More beautiful engravings

We also went into Dorchester for a look around the town. We were able to catch the train from just by the campsite, which made a nice change. The town is most closely associated with Thomas Hardy and indeed, is the “Casterbridge” featured in his novels. It is another attractive small town with some lovely old buildings and the river Frome running by.

We had a few relaxing days at Moreton and I managed a couple of very long walks with my Nordic poles. We had to go back to Portsmouth for Clyde to have an MRI scan so had a break in our travels and went to visit some old friends and got the van serviced.