Friday, 24 August 2012

Back To Basics

A couple of weeks ago, we had to take Celia to Bristol Airport, for her holiday flight to Majorca. At a total return distance of about 160 miles, not the longest of journeys, but one that follows a main road that is usually full of drivers plodding along at a snails pace, and so boring, tiring and more time consuming than it needs to be.

Earlier in this week just about to leave us, we were to make the same journey, this time to pick her up. Rather than once again do the whole journey in one hit, we decided to break it up with an overnight stay in Bath. We enjoyed the drive, taking time to stop whenever something in particular took our eye. With mostly small picturesque villages and farmland to drive through, there was never a shortage of 'eye pleasure'.
We could see this field of poppies from the main road, and so decided to take a detour along several very narrow, and narrowing country lanes and tracks, to try and enter it for a photo shoot. Unfortunately, try as we might, there didn't appear to be a way of getting closer, and so we satisfied ourselves with long distance shots.

We arrived in Bath eager to settle for the night, but things were going to be different this time round.
There was to be no five star Paradise House Hotel.

With best seats at the theatre for the evening.

No dinner at Demuths.

No light lunch at The Pump Rooms.

No, this time we had opted for the decidedly low budget form of overnight stay.
I'm no stranger to camping, and in my time have braved extreme conditions in the Cairngorms, Brecons and Dartmoor on numerous occasions. The Terra Nova Ultra Quasar tent, as used on K2 expeditions, was dusted off, and as usual made a solid and watertight shelter for the night.

The menu was also a bit more robust than we would normally enjoy. Tinned vegetable curry and tinned new potatoes, warmed through and eaten out of the same mess tins they were cooked in, made a wonderful, tasty and filling meal. Only disappointment was that it had to be washed down with a bottle of Becks beer, whereas Warsteiner would have been far more preferable! Of course, when serious hiking is involved, then packs of high energy dehydrated food are used.

We do also have all of the necessary micro equipment for serious hiking in the extreme wilderness, but we have a vehicle, and so the big stove, kettle, blanket and other such luxuries came this time.

As Amanda went for a late afternoon/early evening stroll, I watched the world of campers unfold around me, as I lay there reading William Goldings 'Free Fall'. It was quiet, warm and with that mellow hubbub of talking that one hears around a campsite. A hot air balloon drifted silently overhead.

And then it started. Or should I say 'they'......children!
This particular specimen was owned by a family that had pitched at the end of the gravel track, and as usual weren't subjected to the constant grinding of the wheels on the gravel track as he went back and forth, and back and forth constantly. I tried to ignore it, and immerse myself in Golding some more, but then the German's arrived! Keep in mind that my surname is Schulz, so I can speak with some authority on their insistence on having to get things done correctly.

Directly opposite us (and this was a small and narrow site!), their large, fridge looking motorhome took almost half an hour of gravel grinding manoevres to get the level 'JUST RIGHT', a feat that also needed three shouting adults. Still, they got it level, plugged it in, and then vanished for the evening. Even the cycling spawn had gone elsewhere by now, and Amanda had returned, and so tea was brewed for some more quiet reading time.

There was a farmer in the field just the other side of the trees in the picture above, who took it upon himself to start killing whatever he could with his twelve bore at this point. I wondered if this was perhaps going to be a good choice of site for the future, as he kept it up until gone eight in the evening, and on one occasion one of his targets, a pigeon, landed a few feet away. Trigger happy farmers eh?
So the book went down, and in between blasts we chatted and sipped tea, with of course a packet of custard creams.....a camping must.

Guitarist playing outside the Roman Baths

The following morning, after a very good night sleep, we packed up and headed into Bath for breakfast. Early morning is a fantastic time to be in this wonderful city, and we headed to one of it's alleyways to find a cafe.

Once seated, tea and coffee were served, and while we waited for breakfast, the owner explained that the parasols were not just for a little shade, but mainly because of the pigeons....if you get my drift!
We love Bath.

Thanks for visiting.


  1. Amanda is brave to sleep in a tent overnite,with the posibility of a sore back, bathrooms at a distance in the dark( guys don't care, women do), you better hold on to her! My husband has begged me( sort of begged) for years to go camping. I say-no way- , no bathrooms,no showers, and bugs and sore back, plus bears roaming here in the US camping way mister!I know campgrounds have communial bathrooms and showers. I would go hiking though, and then stay in a mountain cabin instead I tell him.I do hope you guys realize you are SOOOO blessed to live in Europe, charming cities to the left and right, all over the place.Amazing for us American readers to see everywhere you both go, thanks! Gina

    1. Hi Gina,
      You should give it a go, as you can get some pretty good airbeds to soften things backwise nowadays, and most good sites have showers and toilets etc (although some are a bit 'iffy').
      We are indeed very lucky to live where we are, and have so much, so close to hand or just a short drive or flight away, but it can be very easy to just let work and tiredmess take over, as it did for many years, and do nothing. Take care.

  2. Except for some of the neighbors, it sounds like you had a great adventure. The poppy field is beautiful. Amazing how distance can fool one's eye.

  3. Hi Sherlock (i can't keep calling you that!)
    It was quite a weekend, if a little surreal. The poppies were just near the end of their flowering, but still give an amazing show. The English countryside can be somewhat mazelike though unfortunately.

  4. HAHA! Being one of those people that camp with children. .I'm not sure I would choose a community campground for relaxation :-) We just went on our annual camping trip last weekend! An intriguing city to explore would be MY kind of destination rather than the boat!

  5. Hi Melanie,
    Having had two daughters who have now grown up, I have done my kids and camping bit thank goodness. Unfortunately, we live in a new age of undisciplined little brats nowadays over here...and that's just the parents!

  6. Glad you got a good night's sleep. I thought that with all the evening's shenanigans you were going to say you hadn't slept a wink. And it even looks warm! How we are longing for warmth up here this summer!

    1. Hi Linda,
      Yep, we are finally getting some nice weather. The shotgun shooting finished eventually, and after a good sleep and breakfast all was well with the world!