Sunday, 13 April 2008

Island Hopping Scotland - What You Really Need to Know!

Here's a quick checklist of what we learned on our fabulous Scottish Island Hopping Tour:
  1. Island hopping in Scotland in a large motorhome is much easier than you think
  2. “Hebridean Island Hopping” by Martin Coventry, became our bible and is well worth buying either in advance or on the ferry.
  3. Fill up with diesel when you can - there are some extremely long stretches of road with no petrol stations
  4. The islands are incredibly friendly places – expect waves from random car drivers and white van men as you are travelling round – particularly on Islay.
  5. Parking a large motorhome is generally not a problem in Scotland or the islands we visited
  6. Most supermarkets are Co-Ops, the occasional Tesco and a rare M&S
  7. Midges are not such a problem as you might expect in September, and can be minimised with incense and Avon Skin-so-Soft
  8. Wild camping is permitted in Scotland as long as you are considerate and get permission if appropriate. We didn’t do it, because we prefer the security and facilities of campsites, but plenty of motorhomes did.
  9. Mobile phones (02) work in most locations
  10. Expect bad weather, anything better is a bonus. Have a range of clothing, particularly good waterproofs, including over-trousers.
  11. The ferries might seem expensive at first, but compared to Cross Channel ferries, they represent extremely good value for money.
  12. Give the CalMac office your mobile number so they can contact you if there are ferry changes – and these DO happen quite regularly.
  13. Our tour took us two weeks. We never felt rushed, and when we got back, it seemed like we'd been away for at least a month!

You will come back with many photographs and even more wonderful memories, so just get out there and do it!


Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Greendale Farm Adult Only Caravan and Camping Park, Rutland

We are very fortunate in our job that we get to visit lots of caravan parks. We’d been trying to get in at Greendale Farm Adult Only Caravan & Camping Park, Rutland, for three years, but such is the popularity of this site, that we had never managed it. Then last September an offer dropped into our inbox – we were invited to Greendale’s end-of-season knees-up by special invitation only. We accepted immediately!

If you could take the best of all caravan parks and distill them down, if you were lucky, you’d end up with Greendale. So what are the elusive ingredients that makes this small, adult only park, such a success?

♦Friendly owners, Sue and Ian Barron, who are passionate about their site ♦ An incredibly friendly welcome, with high levels of customer care ♦ Genuine interest in everyone who stays on the site – no strangers here ♦ A pristine site which is lovingly landscaped, tended, nourished and cared for ♦ extreme pride in the site, the surroundings and the environment ♦ The shop including info/ library/ refreshment area, run on an honesty basis ♦ Thoughtful items to buy - one plaster, a few Piriton tablets or single tealights ♦ Strong environmental credentials – Greendale has a David Bellamy Gold Award ♦ Information, education, explanation, pictures and advice throughout the site ♦ An extremely quiet site ethic, operated in a strong but friendly manner ♦ Sensible rules, gently enforced with humour, for the benefit of all ♦

The park is set in gentle rolling Leicestershire countryside, close to Rutland Water, with the market town of Oakham, and Stamford nearby. There is so much to do in the area, that a weekend simply isn’t enough. We managed to fit in a circular walk around the Upper Hambleton peninsula one day, and a very careful stroll (hangover permitting) on Sunday along the North Shore of the reservoir.

Back at Greendale, the highlight of the weekend was a barbeque on the Saturday night – something about as common as an orgy in a convent - to which all the weekend “residents” were invited. There was a great crowd and we met some lovely people including Pete (“Mate”) and Linda, Steve and Jackie, Pete and Isla, Terry and Anne and Jane and Clive. The party started at 5 pm and was still going strong at midnight, so not surprisingly, there were a few hangovers the next morning.

The peace and quiet of this site gently embraces you, and it was extremely difficult to leave on Sunday afternoon. Let’s hope we behaved ourselves enough to be invited back next year!

One comment in the Visitors Book sums it up for us “We arrived as strangers and left as friends”. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

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