When we left in January 2020, we had no idea that most of our planning and hopes would be a mirage. At the same time, we can only feel lucky to have been able to travel for the duration of the pandemic and our lockdowns were in warmer places.
But like all good things it had to come to an end and with Brexit we had to return to the UK. We had attempted a visit at Christmas but as you know this did not work out too well and we had to flee back to Spain to rescue ‘Buster’ before they locked us out! Now after 14 months travelling around Europe we are back in the UK.
It has been a while since we posted anything, we have not been hiding, but opportunity to see family and friends for the first time since January 2020 has been great fun for both of us. But our first task was to quarantine for 10 days, we had assumed this process would be well organised and fool proof. How wrong we were. We under the present rules we would have come from an ‘Amber’ country so 10 days with two PCR tests. We were overjoyed to get two calls a day each as I had filled in the locator form back to front i.e. we were to arrive the day before we left. Well we had to resubmit the form but we now got two calls a day! We used a company called Testing For All and they were fantastic and we can recommend them they are the best value of the testing people at £99 per person. A couple of things to note if you have your 8th day test on a Friday make sure you get in the post before 5.00 in a priority mailbox otherwise you will not get your results until the following Wednesday. They don’t pick up the mail until the Monday despite what the government tells you! My last word on this process was on the 10th day we got our call from the Test and Trace people and even though we had at the time did not get our results were told that we would not hear from them again. But if we got a positive result stay at home, but would they not get the result as there is no link to the testing companies, a farce by any other name. I have over 30 years’ IT experience and if you spend 30 billion it should link up. What a waste of money.
Anyway, we did get our negative results and the next day we were able to have our first jab in Bournemouth. We did notice however that it seems our jinx on weather was on view as May has produced a month of lousy weather. We were so grateful to be able to get the jab and we head off to see the first of many family members ‘Pino’ had arrived in Plumpton and did not want to know us as he has found a new home and showed us just how much he did not need us. But we had coffee and cake back in England with family for the first time and it was liberating and a joy.
We spent three weeks in London visiting friends and family. Went to a pub quiz and won, have not lost it! Dashed out and played golf having re-joined my beloved Shooters Hill Golf Club, played three poor rounds and then a blinder when the money was on! Happy days.
But most importantly was meeting friends and family hearing their stories and just how tough the past 12 months have been for people. We were looked after by many friends and family it was so lovely to feel loved and cared for, a real joy for us. A particular hug to our Eltham landlady for putting up with us for our London visit.
But our plan as we mentioned is go explore the UK in ‘Buster’. But there was one more family adventure to have before we did that was a trip with our greeters to the UK Gary and Zoe and head to the Isle of Wight and location, we have been visiting with them for 10 years on the May bank holiday. A marvellous weekend was had by all, it must be said the Isle of Wight is lovely.
Back to the mainland and commenced our UK adventure, we have never really explored the UK in a motorhome so this would be all new to us. We ended up free camping on our first night back on the road as we had made an error with our booking so stayed at Port Solent with this great view.
The first surprise is that you can’t really just roll up and stay anywhere so we think you have to book everywhere. We have joined both the large clubs and it seems the Caravan and Motorhome club is booked out for every weekend until next year! Both clubs have CL sites which appeal but you can’t book them using their websites you must call directly. This we feel is a real disconnect. That said the Camping and Caravanning Club seems to work better, we have been able to book their sites with a degree of ease and thus far have stayed at the Salisbury site and one of their CL sites at Wareham. Well so what are the differences between the UK and Europe? Well, here in the UK, campsites are a lot more formal, lots of rules and wardens are new to us. In Europe most sites are run by the owners and the staff are professional employees so not wardens. We really liked the Salisbury Camping and Caravanning site; the wardens were friendly and helpful and professional. Being brought to our pitch was odd as we were used to being either told where to go and given a map of the site or just pick your own.
Next up was Wareham a CL site affiliated to the C&CC we had to phone and pay in advance for what is an Aire in Europe. That said the Priory Meadow site in Wareham is lovely, idyllic really when we arrived a phone call to Jeff, and we were let know our pitch number and code to the gate. We have water by the pitch, waste disposal and EHU.
That said we miss the ability to just turn up, park and enjoy a place you can do on the mainland. WE have been looking at places to stay for the next 8 – 10 weeks and are amazed how many are fully booked up for the coming months. We have booked places in Dorset, Wales, Peak District, Yorkshire Moors, Dumfries in Scotland just to ensure we can stop safely. Our last thought on this is just how expensive many sites are, the New Forest is offering back to nature for £15, little or no facilities in nature £15!!! This is awfully expensive. Cornwall and Devon are off our list as too expensive and mostly full for dates we might want. Many places are already booked for the weekends, to be fair we wanted to be close to small towns and have great sights and things to do. If we were looking for a full getaway experience, there are lots of lovely sites. We will explore and learn the UK way.
We have now stayed at two sites, and have had wonderful experiences, the Salisbury site was perfectly placed to allow us to explore the city, which was wonderful, plus there are fantastic cycle routes all around the area, not to mention the walking options.
We were able to cycle to Stonehenge and get a great photo without having to join National Heritage just yet.
The visit to the cathedral was amazing and to see the Magna Carta was such a privilege. So far, our travels in the UK are up there with anything we have done to date, and we are enjoying the sunshine that has finally graced us with its presence.
Next up was a cycle ride to Swanage and a revelation it was too the Isle of Purbeck is great cycling country apart from the the nutter in his Range Rover over taking three cars to get by us. I was able to chat to him as we cycled by at the junction later. We also got to visit Purbeck Cider Company and we would recommend to you.
Today however Karen showed just how lovely she is by allowing me to explore for over 5 hours the Bovington Tank Museum, a real joy.
For my and your sins I have got to write this week’s blog. Sorry if it is not the best, we are out of practice, but we are loving the UK since we have been back in ‘Buster’ the sun has shone. We realise just how beautiful England is, this coming week we have some filming with Elddis and more of the fantastic Jurassic Coast to enjoy so until next week.