Category Archives: England

Sumners Ponds Fishery and Campsite, Horsham, West Sussex, Friday 26th October 2012

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Cafe bar balcony by Somners Lake

 

This is our third day at this superb campsite.  We are parked right by the shore of one of the lakes, Somners Lake, but there are 2 more lakes within the camping ground, Farm Pond and Ribbon lake, and one more just a few minutes’ walk away from the site, Match lake.  They are all very popular with fishermen, but there were still a few swims free when I walked around with Sasha the last couple of days.

 

The Cafe-bar and reception area

 

 

Match Lake, just outside campsite

 

Ribbon Lake

 

Holiday pods for those without tents

 

The facilities on the campsite are first class, and we are both very impressed with the showers and utilities blocks, perhaps the best we’ve seen anywhere, very warm units, with state-of-the-art showers, washing facilities and hair driers, with disabled and family facilities, all immaculately kept.  It’s obvious that someone is taking great pride in keeping this site in top condition, which makes our stay all the more pleasant, even in the rain.  There are also some wooden camping pods for campers without a tent or caravan.

 

The brilliant shower block and washing facilities by Farm Pond

 

Our pitch by the cafe-bar and Somners Lake

 

Our pitch by Somners Lake

There is also a café with lovely decking by Sumners Lake, just a few meters from our pitch, offering hot food, drinks, snacks and ice-cream, either to eat in or take away, and a fully licenced bar.

The site is surrounded by acres of woodland, with numerous footpaths and cycle-ways, with planned routes available from reception.  There is also a Downs link offering easy, flat walking and cycling routes, available from www.footpathsofsussex.co.uk

The weather has been mild and dry until this morning, but I’ve certainly enjoyed wandering around the site and my slow stroll to the local village, Barns Green, only 5 minutes’ walk from our pitch.  There is a well-stocked shop there and the Queen’s Head pub, where we intend to go for our Saturday night meal, as they are offering traditional pub food and we haven’t enjoyed this kind of meal for a while with all our holidays abroad.  It’s quite refreshing to have a break so near our home and still feel we are away.

The Queen’s Head Pub at Barns Green

 

So we’ve swapped our usual French baguettes for the local bread, and our Camembert and Roquefort for homely Somerset Brie and Colston Bassett Stilton, delicious too!

So, if you are in the mood for a proper English fishing, walking or cycling break in stunningly beautiful landscape, this is definitely the place for you.

 

All we need now is some sunshine!

Well, the sun did shine brightly on Saturday morning, which was perfect for a walk round Somners Lake with Sasha.  She absolutely loved that hill and ran as fast as I’ve ever seen her: Priceless!

Sasha having a great time in the sun on the hill by Somners Lake

 

Sasha having a great time in the sun on the hill by Somners Lake

 

Sasha having a great time in the sun on the hill by Somners Lake

 

 

Our traditional pub meal at The Queen’s Head turned out to be a ‘chilli con carne’ and rice, as being Halloween, there was only that dish on offer, but the beer was great and the atmosphere lively and fun, with a Halloween disco organised for later in the evening, so lots of people dressed up in scary costumes and a good night was had by all!

 

Nice log fire at The Queen’s Head

 

The friendly (if scary) bar attendants

 

The friendly (if scary) bar attendants

 

The friendly (if scary) bar attendants

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Trek Destination London, Saturday 20th October 2012

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My son and I booked these tickets back in May and had been looking forward to attending this event ever since.  Mercifully time flies and the day finally arrived yesterday, so we ‘beamed ourselves up’ on the train all the way from Bognor Regis to London Victoria Railway Station and then another hour or so in the tube to Canning Town, where a replacement bus service transported us for the last few miles of our long trek to ExCel Centre, where the convention was taking place all weekend.

We weren’t prepared for the size of this venue and it seemed like we were leaving the planet just to get there (a tricorder would have been handy at this point).  We were hoping to find lots of ‘alien’ looking people (Klingons and the like) so that we could follow them and make our journey easier, but these only appeared when we were almost on top of the venue itself.  There were various queues we joined in as we saw people holding their Star Trek tickets, not willing to jump ahead of other fans.  After a couple minutes somebody happened to mention that was the queue for the William Shatner talk and that if only had a standard ticket we could go right ahead to the venue.  That we did, only for a steward to tell us at the entrance of venue 8 that we had to join the shorter queue nearest the wall, which we duly did.  Again, we’d been there a couple of minutes when someone else pointed out to us that that was the queue for ‘Subway’ fast food retail and that we should join the other longer queue and thus we ended back where we started from.  Once again, the same helpful people who sent us forward earlier on told us to ignore what the stewards said, as they didn’t have a clue about what was going on and said we should go to venue 9.

A Borg at the STDL Museum

Cardasians masks at museum

Captain Picard’s Borg arm

Admiral T Kirk’s outfit

Kess’ outfit from Voyager

At last, after about 10 minutes fiddling about and feeling like a right pair of twits, we entered the official STDL venue and were greeted by the Star Trek museum first.  This was quite interesting, full of various major and minor character outfits (including captains’), props and manikins, but it could have done with more exhibits and more space to move around, as, being such a popular event (apparently 12,000 fans turned up yesterday), there was neither much room nor time to have a good look and enjoy it properly.  This small irritant was compensated by Star Trek characters walking by and being extremely friendly and happy to pose for a picture with anyone who asked, never failing to smile and making it special for you.  I loved the Borg and Klingons, especially, and that is the memory I’ll take with me.

‘Resistance is futile’ with a friendly Borg

Another harmless Borg

Once we saw all the exhibits at the museum, we wandered around the venue waiting for surprises and things to photograph.  The first thing we encountered was the autograph signing areas, divided into main or popular characters, such as the Captains, or minor ones.  We thought about having one from Kate Mulgrew, as she’s always been my favourite captain, but at £25 each was a bit too much for us.

Kate Mulgrew’s autograph signing area

Autograp signing area

And this was the main problem with the event: everything seemed to be overpriced and overcrowded.  One of the things we really wanted to do was to have a picture taken on the bridge of the spaceship, but again that came with a price tag of £15, so I treated my son to it.  We first had to queue for about 15 minutes to buy the ticket for the privilege and then wait another 20 minutes for the picture itself.  At least the result was good and it made Peter’s day (a small price to pay, you might say).

My son as Captain on the Enterprise Bridge

While Peter was waiting for his turn to have his picture taken, I wandered around the venue and discovered the wonderful ‘Klingon Zone’, where later on we spent some time talking to a real Trekky form Glasgow who knew everything there is to know about this wonderful series and had a good laugh as we waited to have our picture taken with some of the most iconic alien races of the franchise.  I was even kissed by these two amazing blokes, which actually made my day!

The Klingon Zone

The Klingon Zone

Two very friendly Klingons

Before that, we also had to queue for our chance to be beamed up in the transporter, for which it was necessary to download and application on your mobile phone, which was easily done and, we had the joy of seeing ourselves appear on Peter’s mobile: very cool indeed.  We now have a still photograph of this memorable time for keeps!

Two to beam up!

We also heard the standing ovation Patrick Stewart received when he appeared for his speech and we could have listened to it through the curtains of the auditorium as we didn’t have a ticket, but felt that was a sad thing to do and continued with our exploration of the place.

Just messing around with the exhibits

We thought we might buy a souvenir in the shape of a t-shirt, but even those came at the steep price of £20, and forget the proper Starfleet outfits, that were over £100.

So, to summarise, the event was very enjoyable and it was made very special by the people who made such an extraordinary effort to dress up and make it all look so real, but we were somewhat disappointed not to have seen any of the major characters in the flesh without having to pay extra (our standard ticket cost £20), partly our fault, as we had to leave the venue early in order to catch the train back home and allow 3 hours travelling time.  I understand that Brent Spiner’s (Data) speech was free of charge, but that was taking place at 5.30 pm and it would have made it too late for us to make our way back to Victoria Station.

Fans making an effort: wonderful!

Lesson learned:  next time stay till closing time and spend the night in London if necessary in order to make the most of the experience.

Resistance is Futile!

Newbury Motorhome Show, Berkshire, Friday 18th – Sunday 19th May 2012

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Newbury Motorhome Show 2012

We’ve come to this show for the second time, as we enjoyed it so much last year.  It’s always inspiring to see what’s on offer and what other people have in their motorhomes in order to make our travelling experience and holidays even more enjoyable.

Flags anyone?

Last year we only came for the Saturday, but this time we decided to make the most of it and stay for two nights, so we came after work yesterday, arriving here for 6.30 pm,  early enough to heat up a pizza, and then we strolled to the bar and enjoyed some real ale and live music, courtesy of Dave Grant, who was excellent, including hits from The Beatles and Tony Bennet to Robbie Williams and The Killers.  Nice to sing and bob along…

The show exhibition area opens from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm on the Friday and Saturday and from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm on Sunday, but I expect we’ll be leaving after breakfast tomorrow.

After a leisure breakfast of egg and bacon for Adon and a mango yogurt for myself and Bramble’s walk, we were ready and eager to hit the exhibition and part with our hard-earned cash in order to improve the comfort in our home on wheels.  And so the spending spree began.

There are 242 stands altogether, including catering outlets and residential park homes and leisure lodges, apart from what one would expect in the way of motorhome/caravanning and camping supplies.  It’s a wonderful way to spend a day or two and it certainly opens your eyes to what is available out there, often at a discounted price.

Our new Lillypad windblockers doing a fine job

The main reason I wanted to come back was to buy the windblocker shades from Lillypad Leisure we saw last year to fit on the sides of our Fiamma F45 Plus awning, as we don’t really want a full awning or a safari room, but I wanted something to block the wind, especially after this very blowy Easter holiday in France.  So, after a quick measuring of the height and width of our Fiamma, we came away the proud owners of two blue end panels, which we fitted in less than 5 minutes and tried out straight away this afternoon, as it happened to be quite windy again.  To our amazement, these very fine, lightweight and see-through nylon-like material works like magic and we were able to sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine (or two) without so much as a breeze!  This is a £98 investment that really works and it does exactly what it says in the box (or bag) and I’d recommend it to anyone who might find him/herself in the same predicament.  Worth every penny.  I can’t wait to show it off on our holidays now!

A very popular motorhome show

Other investments of the day include storm straps for same awning, a new 8′ runner to replace the one we bought last year, some LED spot light bulbs, a 1.5 litre, 750-900 watts kettle that will not blow up the fuses in French campsites (yes, we’ve done it a couple of times), a metal screw stake to keep Bramble on the chain outside, a hosepipe adapter that will come in handy in aires in Germany where our watering can wouldn’t fit, some spare fuses and two chocks to go on top of levelling blocks for extra security and to ease pressure on hand-brake when not on flat ground.  So, all in all, it has been a very successful day and well worth the visit and we’ll certainly be back next year.  We are leaving very happy indeed!

One of our bigger neighbours & the American Club

Something else I did earlier was to wander around the gigantic Winnebago area, as I am absolutely awe-struck by these leviathan RVs and the way their owners decorate them, and I am afraid I was so distracted by it all that I got completely lost and it took me a while to find my bearings, but I feel my sense of direction is finally improving and I was able to retrace my steps and find my way back to our pitch all by myself!  You see?: Where there is life there is hope!  It was good to see that our American friends have their own little club too.

More gigantic neighbours

Cute decor

Meerkats?

But the icing on the cake has to be the excellent shower block where I was able to enjoy a hot shower this morning: the cubicles were large and clean, with proper hooks for clothes, etc, a seat, a wash basin, an electric heater on the ceiling and beautiful hot – but not scorching – water on a generous shower head: far better than in many campsites I’ve been to: 10 out of 10 for that!

And so a most fantastic weekend came to an end and I feel ready to face the world again.  Until next year!

I LOVE THIS ONE!

Newbury 2012