Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Past Trips, UK 2008 Staveley


August 16th to 20th

August 16th

Us away during school holidays, very strange, but here we are, with the twins for a few days, on a new Caravan Club site, Poolsbrook Country Park in Staveley.

Poolsbrook Caravan Club Site
Poolsbrook Country Park, Staveley S43 3LS

We were on one of the few fully serviced pitches, I do not remember booking it but apparently I did.  With it being a new site all of the facilities are very good, idiots are still speeding though, I would have thought the club would have clamped down on this.  By the time we got sorted on the first day, there is only time to have a look round the site, have a ride on their bikes and a quick go in the play area in the Country Park.

Camping is so demanding

August 17th

First thing, me and the girls went out for a bike ride, we followed a trail around the outside perimeter of the site and got a bit muddy.

As it was a nice day we went for a walk around the Poolsbrook Country Park, we had no idea what was there so we just set off to walk round the lake. The girls had a play on the industrial sculptures, patted some horses and then we had to run the gauntlet though a huge gaggle of geese.

PosingEmily 2008

It was now, at what we thought was the end of the lake, we discovered it was L shaped and it was a lot bigger, about twice the size. Anyway we just continued with our circumnavigation and eventually made it back to the playground.


While the girls were playing I had a wander up to the cafe and decided we would get something for our lunch there, I had a burger and to the others had baked potatoes with various fillings. I started to rain as we were eating and we had to make a dash back to the van.

The rain didn't last long and a soon as it stopped, the girls were wanting to get back out on their bikes, so Dot went with them and they showed her where they had been with me.

By tea time the sun was shining and we ate outside but it was nowhere near as warm as it should be in August and we soon ended up back in the van.

August 18th

Another day in the park, we took a picnic, some bread for the ducks and the girls took their bikes. We went the opposite way round the lake to yesterday.

It was good that we took a picnic as the cafe was closed, it's August, it'd the school holidays, it's a country park and the cafe is closed???

August 19th

Our thirty-sixth wedding anniversary, the plan was to spend the day on a long walk with the girls, anything would be better that Scotland last year, where it was cold and wet.  An old railway runs past the campsite (Great Central Main Line), now part of Trans-Pennine Trail, so we headed north along the trail towards the Chesterfield Canal.  We knew it was going to be a long walk, so the girls took their bikes.

Great Central Main Line

Unfortunately the building of a new bypass road, has meant the closure of the trail until 2009 and we could not understand from the notices as to where the detour was.  So we came off the trail and walked through Staveley to the canal but first, we stopped for fish and chips for the girls.


We followed signs to the canal and came to the river Rother, so we turned left and followed a path in the direction the canal should be following.  Eventual we came to the canal, well the end of canal or the start of the canal.  The rest of the canal the way we had come was filled in, I should do more research before we set off, I would have known that the Trans-Pennine Trail was closed and that the canal didn't go as far as I thought it did.


So the canal walk started at Mill Green Bridge No 10 and we set off in he direction of chesterfield. Just as we reached the first lock gates, Hollingwood Lock, it started to rain and we sheltered under a road bridge over the lock.


We had already come about two miles by now and the weather was changing, so we headed away from the canal and back, by road towards Staveley. 

On the way we came to a large park, the sun was now shining, so the girls had some time in the playground.  We then walked round the park's lake and came out of the park at the opposite end to where we went in.

PlaytimeWater Lilies

We used the GPS to find where we where and then crossed a field to a housing estate and from there back to the Trans-Pennine Trail and the campsite. This sounds, easy, leisurely, well it wasn't, we had to get up a long steep grass bank, with two bicycles and two five year olds, I dealt with the bikes, Dot got the twins up.  At the top we did make a stop at some shops for ice creams and a rest though.

August 20th

Going home today but we had seen a canal lock and visitor centre advertised and it looked worth a visit (it wasn't that interesting, more later).  So we set off towards Chesterfield on the A619, it was about 3.5 miles and I think 5 speed cameras.  The signs to the Tapton Lock Visitor Centre are not that good, it looks like recent road improvements and supermarkets have messed up the entrance. Next the parking is atrocious, there is no car park just on road parking and there are several car showrooms vying for the parking space available as well.  This is not good for an attraction that is widely advertised.

Tapton Lock   Tapton Lock

The Visitor Centre did have a shop, toilets and picnic tables to eat our food but as a Visitor Centre there is not much else.  Although the walks along the canal are very good.

   Canal Walk

We set off through the Tapton Tunnel under the A619 and had a short walk along the towpath.  There were lots of baby ducks in the canal, unfortunately we didn't have any bread with us to feed them.

TunnelTapton Tunnel

We then came back through the tunnel and watched a narrowboat come up through the lock.  Then we walked the other way as far as the two railway bridges.

Railway BridgeRailway Bridge

Back at the Visitor Centre, we eat at the picnic tables and used the toilets, then it was back home before the roads got too busy.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Past Trips, UK 2008 Cambridge


July 2nd to 9th

A week after returning from our France trip, we got a call to say young Ralph had fallen down stairs banging his head and had been transferred from Peterborough hospital to Cambridge.  It was the middle of the night but first thing in the morning we set off in the van to be with him (one good reason to always have the van ready).  

July 2nd

First we stopped in Peterborough to collect Tracey and Amber and then set off for Addenbrooke's hospital Cambridge.  Parking for a high vehicles there is not very good, we found an old car park with no height barrier but it was for contractor vans with a pass, we parked there anyway.

Ralph knew who we were but couldn't speak, he had had a bleed in the brain but it had now stopped and they were just monitoring him for any changes.  If he got worse, indicating the bleeding had started again, they would have to operate.  To cut this story short, we could not find anyone in authority (a doctor), to tell us what was happening that day (it would be week afterwards and only after seeing a specialist at home, would we find out his skull had actually been fractured).


We didn't get a parking ticket and drove back to Peterborough and spent the night in the van on Tracey's drive.

July 3rd

It was a ninety mile round trip from Tracey's to the hospital so I got online to find a campsite closer to the hospital, found one and we would check it out between visiting hours.  Dot also had to contact work to arrange time off.  Drove to Cambridge and parked up at the park and ride at Trumpington, where they have bays reserved for motorhomes and a regular bus service ran to the hospital.

Ralph was more aware today but still not able to speak and he was very sleepy.

Bang on head

At dinner time we headed back to the park and ride and set off for the campsite at Comberton. The campsite was just a thirteen mile round trip from the park and ride.

Highfield Farm Touring Park
Long Road, Comberton, Cambridge CB23 7DG

The site looked good so we arranged to book just one night at a time, one problem with the site they do not take cards, only cash or cheques.

Back at the park at ride we bought a season ticket for a few day at a good saving, then spent the rest of the day at the hospital.

July 4th

Today Ralph was still very sleepy and on the morning had plenty of visitors so Dot and I thought we would make the most of a bad situation, we leave early before the end of visiting and get a bus into the city centre for a spot of sightseeing (never been to Cambridge).

The bus ride took about 25 mins to do the 2 mile drive into the centre, very busy roads.  As we had never been to Cambridge we had high expectations, so we had a good look around the central parts of the city.

Cambridge   Cambridge Street

It was very busy, there was an open day for students and families to have a look around the various universities.  Also, for a change this summer, it was sunny and hot but we were continually pestered by people trying to get us to take a boat trip (the famous punts).

We got sandwiches to eat and a can to drink but couldn't find anywhere to sit and eat them and walked for ages until we did find a low wall to sit on.  Then we could not find a waste bin to get rid of the used packaging and empty can.

Cambridge Street 2008   sky

This bit is controversial with others I have spoken to, I was not over impressed with Cambridge.  I did not think the architecture was that good and I thought it was too much a university with a city, not a city with a university.  I thought the city could do with a tidy, maybe a few waste bins and the old abandoned rusting cycles chained up all over the centre, should be removed.  And being continually asked if we want to take a punt trip was very, very, annoying indeed.

Although, if you do take the time to look up, the skyline has some very nice architecture.

skyskyChimneys   Chimneys

I did however enjoy a walk through a park and along the river Cam, it was much less crowded and peaceful there.


Soon it was time to get back to the hospital and as we came out of the park there was a bus stop for the bus we needed, very handy, saved us a bit of walking.

Called in at a Waitrose supermarket next to he park and ride for provisions and beer on the way back to the site that night.

July 5th

We had the morning off today, its Saturday and Ralph had plenty of visitors, so we did some sunbathing by the van and had a read.

Even though we had bought a season ticket for the hospital shuttle bus, they did not run at weekends (strange) and we had to contact security to find somewhere to park the van.  We had to park on the upper deck of a two story car park, not a very relaxing experience.

Ralph was talking better today but refusing to eat the hospital food.

On the way back to the site, we thought we would try the recommended village pub for supper but there was nowhere to park the van anywhere near.  So we just went back to the campsite.

July 6th

Still no bus service and we had to park on the bottom level of the car park, there was not much headroom and it was very scary.

Ralph was feeling well enough to have a walk down to the main concourse where the shops and cafeterias are but I think it was a bit too much, a bit too soon.  For lunch Dot and I used the cafeteria and the food was reasonable, I also used the hospitals free internet wifi.

Called in at a Waitrose supermarket again on the way back to the van.

July 7th

Used the shuttle bus today, Ralph is improving all the time and we found out about a site that is much closer to the hospital and will be in walking distance, when a new road is open but now only a two mile round trip to the park and ride.

Finally had super at the pub in Comberton, very nice, good food and good hand pulled beer.

July 8th

Signs are that Ralph may be released to recuperate back home with us, he is walking around the hospital no problem, but they need him to start eating better and he must have 24 hour observation. He would not eat the hospital food but he had sandwiches we brought him and he had food from the burger place on the hospital concourse.

In the end it was too late to arrange things for today, so it would be tomorrow before we would set off back home.

Cambridge Camping and Caravan Club
19 Cabbage Moor, Cambridge CB2 5NB

We went to check out the other campsite and if it looked ok, we would stop there for the last night. It was a very basic Camping and Caravan Club site but it would do us for one night, I suppose it would also be good for a couple of days visit to Cambridge. It had no hard standing but did have a MHSP.

We chatted to a couple from the continent, that had been over here on holiday for about a month, they had had real bad weather for nearly all the trip.

July 9th

It took until lunch time to arrange everything, I went back to the park and ride for the van and drove right up to the back entrance of the hospital where Ralph and Dot were waiting.

We stopped off in Peterborough to see amber for a couple of hours before driving home.

On the mend

Ralph has now fully recovered but it did take a few months.