Off on our travels again, we went to Kessingland, where there is a zoo with African animals and a very nice campsite. We met up with Oliver and Nicola and went round the zoo – they have a wonderful lions den there where you can view them from above with no fences. It was a very warm day, and we had an excellent leisurely stroll round the zoo enjoying all the animals and a picnic. They set off back home in the early evening and we had a relaxed time with a glass or two of vino and listened to the zoo sounds – the lions with the coughing roar, the birds with their strange cries … all of which woke us the next morning! So we headed back towards Colchester, stopping at a number of antique emporia on the way – not to buy anything just to have an enjoyable rummage which we duly did.
Thursday night saw us camping outside our friends’ house – Chris and Christian had Chris’s sister visiting so we stayed in Badger, but they fed us – Chris cooked a deeeeelicious lamb casserole which went down a treat and a good evening was had by all.
Friday was a work day – Mark had a meeting with Gridleys in Melford then we went on to spend time with Karen, our book-keeper –suspect there was more chatter and gossip catching up on the past few months than work done but still ! And then we ended up at the Railway Station with Steve, heading for Melford Valley Tandoori for an excellent Indian meal and actually staying at the Station overnight.
On the Saturday we went overboard with Zoos and visited the delightful Linton Zoo, this time with all Mark’s “lot” … Oliver and Nicola, Tim, Vickki and Jordan. Once again a picnic was the order of the day and the weather was more than kind. Jordan had a great time in the cages with the endangered Lemurs and it was a lovely relaxed day for all of us.
Soon it was time to leave Suffolk behind and head off on the next stage of our travels – this time to stay overnight at Harbury Fields, a campsite we have used in the past and find a) very convenient and b) very friendly, spotlessly clean and really nice. The reason for the convenience is that it is reasonably close to Elite Motorhomes, where we purchased Badger in the first place, and he needed to return there for his annual habitation check (he needs that to keep the warranty up to date). Elite have always provided an excellent service and as we weren’t too happy with the place closer to home that we used last year, we decided to bring Badger home and let them take care of him ! Now, it’s very boring waiting for your motorhome to be serviced – they are very good letting us use the wi-fi, or dropping us into Banbury for the day but it’s not exciting. So this time we thought we would try something different. We hired a car and drove up to Hanson’s Auctioneers where there were two auctions – one on the Monday afternoon for collectibles and vintage things and (even better) another on the Tuesday morning for wine, spirits and whisky. And those of you who know Mark will understand that this was of no little interest !! So we stayed overnight just round the corner and a very nice small hotel with an excellent restaurant – Blenheim House and had a most enjoyable evening. Sadly the whisky at the auction all went for more than Mark was prepared to invest, but it didn’t stop it being enormous fun !
That evening we went down to stay with my sister Julia near Witney, and had a lovely evening with her catching up on all the gossip – sorry exchanging of essential family information !
The next day we took the hire car back and picked up Badger and started heading West. We were both quite tired so to be honest we didn’t actually get very far, eventually rocking up at a campsite on the outskirts of Burford. We had a lovely walk down into the town and an excellent lunch at one of the many hostelries. Their philosophy was that a "meal without wine is called breakfast" so as it was lunchtime it would have been very rude not to have a glass which was most enjoyable. The walk back up the hill was a bit challenging but we made it and had a good night’s rest before heading on to Bristol to see Catherine, Mark and Sam.
As Sam was at school on the Friday, Catherine took us out for an early birthday lunch at the River Cottage Canteen in Bristol – and it was gorgeous. Super food and enhanced by us spotting “the man himself” Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and to my embarrassment and delight Catherine asked for him to come over and wish me happy birthday. Not only did he do that, but he also presented me with a copy of one of his books which he signed for me. How great was that !!! The book is all about Left Overs and those of you who know Mark will know his feelings on Left Overs so I am hoping to use it to convert him ... it's a great book.
On the Saturday morning we had a great time visiting @Bristol … It is a great area for kids and Sam loved it, while Mark found lots to interest him with the 3-D printers and suchlike technology. At least that's what he said, but I think the rather delightful presenters might have had something to do with it as well !
So a lovely couple of days there then we were off on our travels again, wending our way back home (slowly)