Bitton Again – July 2016

Bitton Again – July 2016

 

Knights Folly Camp Site, Bitton
This is the 3rd year that we’ve stayed at this small Caravan and Camping Club site between Bath and Bristol. It’s ideally placed, so that we can take Absinthe to Danbury in Yate for a service and MOT. This year we were also having a new seat fitted and they needed the van for two days at least, so we also brought Alison’s Mini down to allow us to do some sightseeing whilst Danbury worked on Absinthe. They do offer a courtesy car but you can’t take dogs and we didn’t want to leave Boris behind. 
It was interesting driving behind Absinthe on the journey down – I don’t often see her from this perspective and she made the journey full of smiles.

We stopped at Gloucester Services on the M5 for lunch and to let Boz stretch his legs. If only all services could be like this…

Not your average Motorway Services
We arrived at the site around 3.15pm and soon had the van set up. 

We took Boris for a long walk to tire him out and were rewarded with a view of two Roe deer who crossed the small lane in front of us and settled in a nearby field.
I wish I’d taken the camera with me and not just my phone
We had a chilled morning on Wednesday then drove to Weston Super Mare, a place we’d both been to as kids but that was over 40 years ago. The SatNav took us through Bristol and it was a slow stop-start journey.
We were able to park on the beach at the South Shore – the sun was shining, although there was a really strong wind blowing. Boris had a fantastic time on the beach – he doesn’t really do water but there were loads of dogs to meet and greet and I’m sure if he was capable of grinning then he would have been.

 

 

We had to get back to the site in good time because we were meeting Alison’s daughter, Gabrielle, for dinner in Nailsworth. We’d booked a table at the Wild Garlic restaurant and met up just before 7pm.
The food was OK and the service very good – it was great to see Gabbie and a pity that her boyfriend, Jay, couldn’t join us (he was on a fishing trip to France, so I can’t say I blame him). 
On Thursday, we were up early to take Absinthe to Danbury. We were away from Yate by 9am and headed to Wells, keeping an eye out for breakfast opportunities on the way. We eventually found a farm visitor centre in Farrington Gurney (Farrington’s).
Onward then, to Wells and a trip to the Wells Trading Post. I bought a couple of things for lamp making and did the usual haggling over price.
Wells Trading Post purchases
It was raining in Wells but gradually brightened up – we pottered around the town for a while then moved on to Frome. 

After picking Absinthe up at 5pm (very heavy traffic in Bath nearly made us late) we drove back to Bitton. Back at the site, we found an Indian Restaurant online that did takeaways, set the Satnav in the Mini and set off to the Spice Lounge in Longwell Green. It wasn’t easy to find because it was in a former pub with no signs outside to say that they were an Indian. They took our order though and we had a drink whilst we waited.
The food was great and now we’ve found it, I’m sure we’ll use it again.
Friday brought another early drive back to Danbury, then a drive to Blaise Hamlet on the outskirts of Bristol. The National Trust describe Blaise hamlet like this: 
A delightful hamlet of nine picturesque cottages laid out around an open green. The hamlet, which is four miles north of the city centre, was built in 1811 to accommodate retired staff from Blaise Castle estate in Henbury. 

Designed by John Nash each cottage is unique, this style was later widely copied. The hamlet was one of the first examples of a planned community and there is a stone sundial and water pump on the green which commemorates its construction. The cottages are lived in and therefore entry to the public is to the village green only.

We walked about 200 yards up the road to Blaise Castle, where we walked up through the woods to the castle itself.

It started to rain but we could shelter in the woods before popping into one of the many caves on site.

Inside the cave

After a bacon sandwich in the cafe we drove on to Clifton Village – a great community with lots of quirky shops and eateries – we’ll definitely be back here again.

I suspect this is the French Resistance in Clifton…

It would be crazy to go to Clifton and not visit the famous Suspension Bridge – a truly amazing piece of engineering that can’t fail to bring your camera out.

We had a great time in the sunshine and also visited the nearby observatory which gives fantastic views across the Avon Gorge.

It also has a small cafe with a brilliant Portugese manager – she happened to have two schnauzers as well, so there was plenty of barking going on. A Pastel de Nata and a coffee? Perfect.

The benefit of having to drop the van off at 8.30 was that we could cram a lot into one day. We drove to Portishead Marina and wandered around the area in the sunshine. I really think I could live there.

I was interested to spot this piece of dock engineering, built by Vickers-Armstrongs in Newcastle in 1946. The North East built the world back then, but doesn’t seem to figure in anyone’s priorities now. Such a shame…

We got back to Yate by 4pm but they didn’t finish fixing the flip seat until after 5pm. I think it had turned out to be a bigger job than they’d imagined.

We didn’t get back to the site until around 7pm, so it seemed a good idea to have Friday fish and chips – whilst Alison walked Boz, I drove a mile to the chip shop, where there was a queue out of the door. It took a while to get served but it was worth it.

We chatted to our site neighbours  – they were from Beverley in the old East Riding and had a terrier called Bobby. Oh, and they wouldn’t be caravanners unless they polished the van on site.

Saturday was the day for a lie in after early starts all week. We chilled and then walked along to the Avon Valley railway. We’d seen steam trains running during the week so thought we’d give it a go. As it turned out Saturday was a diesel day but we still decided to take a trip. Unfortunately, there isn’t much track to travel along!

We got on at Bitton station and waited to depart to Oldland – a trip of 7 minutes. At Oldland the engine drove down to the front of the train and pulled us back to Bitton then on to Avon Riverside. It takes 12 minutes to Avon Riverside!

We got off at the Riverside stop and walked with Bozzer, over the river, then down past the lovely picnic site. We decided to walk across the fields to The Swan pub for some lunch.

The first (and only) pub of the trip

We had a couple of drinks then walked back across the fields and back to the campsite – by this time Boris was pooped and ready for a sleep.

We cooked pasta in the evening, washed down with a lovely Malbec.

Whilst we’d been staying at the site, the owners, Julie and Victor had looked after everyone brilliantly. They even dealt with a wasp nest close to the adjacent pitch to us. They’d had a visit from George Clarke (of Amazing Spaces fame) in 2015 and he’d left his mark in the toilet (oo-er!).

Our Welsh neighbour had spotted the sticker on Absinthe pointing people to this Blog and had spent the afternoon trawling through the archive – it’s nice to know that people enjoy reading about our adventures.

His caravan was a Godiva – how they come up with names for caravans is beyond me – why Godiva? Answers below in the comments section please…

All that was left was to watch a film in the van on Saturday night (Gone Girl, if you’re interested and no, I can’t recommend it – that’s 2.5 hours I’ll never get back…)

We packed up on Saturday and had a relatively easy drive back home up the M5 and M6. Another great trip and some places we’ll definitely visit again.

There is a full set of photos here:  FLICKR

THINGS WE’VE LEARNED

The West country around Bath and Bristol is a beautiful part of the world
Caravanners are a friendly bunch
We should take Boris to the beach more often
Seeing Wigan Warriors lose is slightly easier when we’re chilled in the van
The new seat makes the van seem much larger
If I’m not in the passenger seat, Alison drives even faster in Absinthe


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