Friday, 25 May 2007

AvailablePitch Voted a Top Ten Pitch-Booking Website! has just been voted a Practical Motorhome Top Ten pitch-booking website! The article goes like this:

"This is not technically a booking site, but "" earns its place in our Top Ten by offering the very useful service of finding campsites in Britain that have availability for the dates you want, saving you time on phone calls. You can narrow your search as much or as little as you like, either by location, facilities, or both. The day before the Easter break, it found me 13 Parks in Devon with availability for a 'van. Then it was over to me to ring up and book one. It has almost 400 parks to choose from and provides an excellent service". Well! We're dead chuffed!

A huge thanks to all the campsites and caravan parks who are registered with us, and to all the thousands of campers and caravanners that use us every day! As they say in the Oscars "We couldn't have done it without you"

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Friday, 18 May 2007

Race For Life

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be able to run, but never found a reason to get started. Then two things happened. We got a dog, and my Mum got breast cancer. (Mum is fit and healthy now, and the dog needs loads of exercise), so what better activity than running?

A group of us decided train together with the goal of doing a Race for Life 5 km run. We started in February 2006, by walking fast, then introduced some jogging, until, little by little, we could run further, and by July we were ready for the race.

The National Watersports Centre at Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham, was our chosen venue, as there is a caravan and camping site adjacent and we could take the motorhome, set up base camp and make a weekend of it.

The morning of the Race was clear blue skies and red hot and as everyone gathered at our pitch, we were concerned about the heat. However, armed with water, sunscreen and sunglasses, we made our way to the gathering area. Wow! Thousands and thousands of women and their families all waiting and chattering excitedly and apprehensively. Many, like us, had trained hard to get fit enough. Others were seasoned athletes, but every woman was there to make a difference.

The atmosphere was amazing, and extremely emotional. Reading the notices on the back of everyone's tee shirt was both upsetting and uplifting, but the feeling that collectively we were doing our bit was tangible.

We inched our way down to the front, and were off in the first 50 - a little too fast. After we’d found our pace, we completed the circuit in 39 minutes – not the fastest time – the winner took just 17 minutes – but WE DID IT! and were so proud.

We raised nearly £700 between us for Cancer Research UK, and enjoyed it so much that we are entering again in 2007. This year, we WILL finish in 35 minutes (crowds permitting) to beat last year’s time.

Please click here for my sponsorship form - all donations are very welcome, no matter how small.

Meanwhile, if you see us out training (Tuesdays and Thursdays, along the Nottingham Canal), please give us a wave!


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Friday, 11 May 2007

Camping at Saxdale House Farm, Hunmanby, Filey

Most of our family and friends have got either a motorhome or caravan, and sometimes get together for mini-rallies. However, Mum's in her 70's and Aunty in her 80's and sleeping in a field is low on their must-do list. The solution is to stay on a site with a Bed and Breakfast attached. We wanted to go camping in North Yorkshire and a quick search came up with Saxdale House Farm, a Camping and Caravanning Club Certificated Site run by Jonathan Leonard, ably assisted by Jeremy. They not only had availability for 3 motorhome pitches over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, but also room in the B and B - all at very good prices. We were in!

Jonathan has owned the site for 4 years, and has been developing it ever since. It's immaculate, with large, individual pitches surrounded by tall hedges, and everything is very well looked after. "Strictness with a Smile" should be Jeremy's motto, as he laughingly asked us to keep Holly on a lead at all times, and explained why.(She chose exactly the wrong moment to escape at high speed from the awning). There's a rally field, (in use whilst we were there) a small toilet and shower block (with notices about not putting various items down the loo's, and what will happen if you do) and a lovely shop in the barn with a wide selection of essential items and gifts. Unusually, there are home-cooked meals - lasagne, moussaka, liver and onions, soups etc. As Jonathan says " The Aga is on all the time, so we make the most of it". Two mornings, warm fresh-baked scones were for sale straight from the oven.

There is a short dog walk on the site, behind the camping field (for up to 20 tents). Dog lovers are encouraged to dispose of poops in the special bin, or risk a hefty fine. Jonathan is happy to explain why, if asked (but probably best not to unless you have a strong stomach). Over the road is a large area of scrubland where dogs can have a good run round. Hunmanby village, a nice little place, is about a mile away, with a supermarket, post office and pubs, an excellent Chinese Take-Away -China China, who will deliver for a small charge, and a Fish and Chip shop.

Filey is 3 miles away, with plenty of parking - £3 all day - at the Country Park for cars with caravans and large motorhomes. Bridlingtonand Scarborough. are just 9 miles and Whitby is 30 miles. The best parking in Whitby for motorhomes is up at the Abbey. You can pick up the Whitby Open Top Tour Bus from there, a hop on hop off service, so you don't have to walk back up the 190 steps at the end of the day. Some of us queued to eat inside the famous Magpie Fish and Chip Restaurant, the rest of us joining the long queue outside for take-aways then dodging the seagulls as we scoffed our meal. The cafe, which opened in Whitby in 1939, can attract more than 1,000 customers a day at the height of the tourist season and has recently been extended to accommodate 130 customers.

We spent Sunday on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. A Day Ticket allows you to get on and off at any halt between Pickering and Grosmont, and we spent the whole day trying to catch a steam train but just missing it and ending up on the historic, but smelly, diesels. The company that run this amazing private historic railway does a wonderful job, and the pride, enthusiasm and sheer hard work which is put into running it is tangible. It's a great day out for anoraks and non-anoraks alike.

Mum and Aunty gave the B and B full marks - "one of the nicest we've ever stayed in -and such good value for money too". There are just two en-suite guest rooms, which are light, fresh and nicely furnished, with huge picture windows with lovely views of the garden and surrounding countryside. And apparantly the breakfasts were "yummy".

Without doubt J and J run a very tight ship - and it shows. Would we stay there again? Definitely!

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Wednesday, 2 May 2007

The Druidstone Pembrokeshire

We discovered this hotel and restaurant as we headed down to the beach below our campsite at Shortlands Farm Certificated Location. If we’d not spent thousands of pounds on a motorhome, thus committing ourselves to years of camping (albeit in relative luxury), this is definitely the type of place we would stay. Run by Rod and Jane Bell for the past 35 years, it was originally their family home and is now open to guests, their children and their pets. There are 11 guest bedrooms, most with fantastic panoramic sea views. The dining room, sitting room and wonderfully atmospheric cellar bar open straight onto sheltered terraces overlooking the sea. In the grounds are several cottages converted from stables and outbuildings, with lots of parking, and guests can use the grounds as well as having their own little corner of heaven. We had lunch there - several times. The menu changes every day, and vegetarians are particularly well catered for. The restaurant has been in the Good Food Guide since 1974. The food is definitely homemade, using local produce thus ensuring the freshest ingredients. Several dogs pottered freely around the terraces, and children played happily in the grounds, particularly on the boules area, clinging determinedly to the side of the cliff.

The Druidstone does not advertise, they don’t need to. Walking in the door is like being welcomed back to the family home after years away. It’s quirky, comfortable and very, very welcoming. It' tucked away, miles from anywhere, in fact their logo is “a million miles from city life”. Almost worth selling the motorhome and staying there ourselves.

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