And our first trip of the summer.
Our first camping trip now the COVID-19 lockdown routines have started to ease. The trip was overdue, incredibly welcome and was dual purpose - to camp and to celebrate our friend's 40th birthday. We booked the site ages ago in the hope it would be open. Our prayers were answered, and the site open only a few days before our arrival. It was my friend Rob’s 40th birthday. I've known him since 2010 when we first met at the Defence School of Photography. I finished course first and headed to Plymouth with Rob, who was enrolled on the course behind me, following five or six months later. We spent a lot of time together learning our new trade...and the rest is history, as they say.
We stayed at The Blackberries Camping Park. The site is located at the top of the steepest road on planet earth! I didn't think Bumper was going to make it after we hit a few potholes and lost all traction...but we made it, safe and sound. On the whole the site was nice. It was designed with nature in mind with pitches divided by wild meadows, trees and shrubs. But the best bit was the goats. Four of them who loved to be fed.
We got a fire going on the first night. The campsite owner told us to keep it off the grass to avoid damaging said grass. This wasn't very convenient and as usual, I know best, so decided to find some rocks to put the burner on. What I didn't take into consideration was the ash that fell through the bottom of the burner. It goes without saying what the state of the grass was the next day when the owner had moved the burner while we were away, revealing a bald patch. Oooops. I went to reception with my tail between my legs...to get more wood (and apologise, of course). The wood was £5 for a box of hardwood. We found loads of branches to use as kindling to get the fire going, which also saved us buying it.
We became handy in the camper kitchen on Sunday morning. We cooked up a bit of a fry up for the lot of us which is a little bit of a challenge in such a small space. The rest of the time we cooked over the fire with the aid of our little portable stove. Both parties brought bread, burgers and sausages so we had an overload of meat over the weekend. Note for next time - coordinate food supplies!
Rob and Helen had their little lad, Stirling, with them. He spent more time in Bumper than anywhere else, I think. Using him as leverage, I tried my hardest to convince them to get a van and join the campervan movement. So far, I am unsuccessful but watch this space, the conversation is not over.
Bradford on Avon was only a ten-minute drive from the site. We've been here before, but our travelling buddies hadn't, so we headed for a little look around. We love the place. It has a nice, relaxed feel with amazing architecture and history but without the coach loads of tourists. Or should that be boat loads, given there is a canal? There’s a car park at the top of one of the hills which is free. You may not consider that a bonus but by the time you have got to the bottom and seen all the cute little terrace houses and alleyways, you’ll change your mind…until it’s time to walk back up. But if a two-year old can manage it, I’m sure you can too! I’ve put the car park on the map at the bottom of the page, if you can’t find it. When you leave the car park on foot, heading towards the town, take a right at the first fork and wind your way down the hill for the best experience. You might get lost but that’s the best bit about exploring anywhere, right?! And you won’t go far wrong as long as long as gravity is still on your side.
Despite being a fairly small and relaxed place, it has the most chaotic little road. There's a roundabout with nowhere safe to cross that has more traffic than the M25 at rush hour. But despite your life being in danger, don't let this put you off visiting. There's a tearoom called The Bridge Tea Rooms which dates back to circa 1502, which we will one day visit, but it's a good indicator of the history of the town, which can be traced back to Roman origins. The town later grew during the 17th century with the wool industry which brought in loads of wealth.
St Thomas More's Church
We went to this little bakery called Parsons for lunch. I got a bacon sarnie. You can see from the picture below just how delicious it was, can't you? And it was only £2.50. We sat in the little grassy spot by the Tourist Information and chewed the fat, literally and metaphorically. I can't remember the last time we just sat somewhere like that for lunch and enjoyed the world going by. According to Helen (Rob's wife) we share all the food we eat. We hadn't really noticed before. But if there was ever a time I didn't want to share, it was now. Stacey ate most of my bacon sandwich (OK, maybe only a couple of bites), depriving me of all the best bits.
Ever the opportunists, we weren't ready to return home, so we popped into Bath on the way. Last time we visited Bath it left a sour taste in our mouths...and a spot of food poisoning too. It was really refreshing to revisit. It was clean and tidy and had a friendly and happy vibe. The sun definitely helps with the latter but with partial lockdown still in place, it reduced the usual tourist numbers you might expect on a warm July day, as well as a lack of stag and hen parties.
The Bath Brew House
The Blackberries Camping Park - https://theblackberriescampingpark.co.uk/
Budbury Place Car Park
All Things Nice
Parsons Bakery Ltd
The Bridge Tea Rooms
Park for lunch!
Secret Garden Coffee Shop
St Thomas More's Church