Friday, 26 September 2008

Economy Drives

The following article by Carol Midgley was spotted in this week's Times Magazine on Saturday and offers an alternative view to the earlier blog article "Camping Boon as Credit Crunch Bites":

"There's one credit crunch story that is patently kosher. Sales of tents have rocketed, and bookings at caravan and camp sites have been the highest for years as people eschew expensive foreign holidays. I know this to be true because the entire caravan population of Britain was in front of me doing 25mph tops on single-lane A roads as I was driving home from Devon recently, mainly in second gear. In seven days I saw more clapped-out caravans and crammed-to-the-toilet-block camp sites than in my whole life. And yet these holidays - in ceaseless rain, obviously - looked about as appealing as a John McCririck bottom boil.

A good friend of mine swears by camping and yes, I see the attraction of not worrying about whether a hotel mattress will smell of wee. But on closer observation, it seems that British caravan and camping holidays consist mainly of putting out bins and attending the camp-site launderette.

Caravan dwellers appear to spend their entire time inside boiling kettles and, on the rare occasions when the sun does come out, promptly erect two deckchairs outside their own door to enjoy a bracing view of someone else's four-berth. Why not just set up camp on the grass at a motorway service station? Oh, actually, I did see one family doing exactly that.

And yet there have been waiting lists for some sites. Mystifying. I'm afraid I'm with George Carlin, who famously said that when you wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is very wrong indeed".
Image above courtesy of


Sunday, 21 September 2008

Even Stranger Encounters

Just when you thought it was safe to go camping, it happens again.

Oh no!

Him! Mr Weird motorhomer, last seen sporting strange headwear, and studiously avoided at Peterborough Motorhome Show. Popped up at Clumber Park Steam Rally watching a world-championship snail race in the arena. Looks like his wife and dog are with him this time. Poor you - whoever you are - you have our sincere sympathies.

Now - where's that disguise?

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Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Crakehall Watermill Certificated Location, Bedale (and B&B too)

Somewhere really special was required for Aunty’s 80th birthday, and after lots of research, Crakehall Watermill seemed to fit the bill perfectly – a luxury B&B that did not overcharge for single rooms, an adult-only Caravan Club certificated location and the option of an evening meal, all set in a traditional village location, with an historic watermill on site to keep the male half of AP happy. The choice was absolutely spot on!

Alison and Lionel have owned Crakehall for 4 years, building the business into a thriving and incredibly popular B&B, CL and holiday cottages. The Watermill is not currently open to the public, but guests can have a VIP visit with Lionel if booked in advance.

Nothing is too much trouble, and it’s easy to see why Crakehall is so popular. They effortlessly arranged flowers in the room, recommended a restaurant, booked a table, ordered a taxi and best of all prepared a special celebration dinner using seasonal and local produce. The meal was absolutely delicious and excellent value at £15.00 per head.

There is so much to do from the base at Crakehall Village, near Bedale. On the first day we visited Beamish Museum, a 50 minute drive north up the A1. There's a huge car park, no height barriers, plenty of room for large motorhomes and dogs are permitted (but not in the buildings). This is an authentic working museum similar to Blist Hill at Ironbridge, where exhibits have been gathered from around the North East of England and re-built and staffed with people dressed in period costumes. It’s pricey at £16.00 per adult (concessions for Seniors) and a whole day is needed to do it full justice, not the half day we ended up with after a late breakfast and too much faffing around.

Getting round the site is easy for the less agile with historic trams running round the site at 20 minute-ish intervals. There are different themed areas, like The Old Town, The Manor House, the Farm, The Railway Station, the Waggonery, (where you can go a short ride on an authentic steam locomotive), The Pit Village (complete with pit houses, chapel, school and coal mine) with regular tours to the coal face - probably the most interesting part, but definitely not for the claustraphobic

A tour of Wendsleydale Valley occupied us the next day, starting with Hawes, a delightful village to explore, lunch at a tea room in Bainbridge village, a walk down to Aysgarth Falls and the huge watermill now housing a craft and gift shop and tea rooms, ending up in Leyburn (which we sadly found a disapppointing town).

The last day was spent at National Trust's Fountains Abbey near Rippon - a World Heritage Site. This is both the most-visited NT property and one of the most visited trourist attractions in the UK. A whole day is advised to do it justice, and there is a lot of walking, although there is a minibus for the less able and electric scooters can be hire. Amazingly, dogs are allowed throughout the grounds, and you can even walk through the restaurant with them to get to the outside tables! How refreshing not to feel like an outcast just 'cos you are accompanied by Fido.

It was very difficult for us all to leave CrakeHall at the end of our long weekend and in the scramble to get everyone packed up and off, Aunty left some local cheese in Alison's fridge. Two days later a parcel arrived, complete with ice pack, enclosing the cheese. Now THAT's what I call service!.

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