Our few settling in days on site since our arrival have flown by, we longed to have days out to the coast which we had missed so much but apart from the fleeting view of the Solent as we travelled to our essential shopping store we resisted the urge. The winds for the first 2 weeks of the month were amongst the worst we have experienced in a caravan, night after night we were convinced the awning was going to take off and fly across the site taking everything with it in its wake, the hailstones were so large that with the force of them hammering the roof it was a wonder the skylights didn’t crack and the roof get peppered in dents. The gusty winds continued day and night but thankfully the rain held off and so we were able to set about ticking off the maintenance jobs needed around site. Fence painting, gutter clearing, service point repairs, fire point signs and bells repainted, jetwashing mossy areas under the trees and all the behind the scenes paperwork ,online training and yearly assessments were done in the days leading up to our contracted open day. The site was ready, we were ready but the UK sadly was still not ready. We were being furloughed again from the official day of opening until the week before the next phase of unlocking, the 12th April, the date the whole touring fraternity was waiting for.
Since we arrived back the trees were now beginning to bud with new leaves and blossom, the yellow gorse out in all its glory brightening up the landscape, ivy has been removed from tree trunks and the lower tree branches in the coppices to open up the view across the site. Daffodils, primroses, bluebells and hawthorne blossoms are appearing on a daily basis and the grass is beginning to grow, unfortunately also in the places where we don’t want it to. Wildlife is still laying its claim to the site with the acres of empty pitches giving them a few more bonus weeks of tranquillity before they have to disappear off into the depths of the woods to make way for the members and their white boxes. Muntjac, rabbits and pheasants are all common sites as we share the same big back garden, buzzards circle overhead and the occasional sighting of red kites has us all scanning the sky for more. The woodpecker is back as our morning alarm call, hammering for all he’s worth on the tree right outside the caravan, the bird feeders are visited by chaffinch, blue tits, great tits, nuthatch, goldfinch, long tailed tits, bullfinch, siskin, coal tits and greenfinch to name a few. The big picture window on the front of Bill the Bailey gives us a prime view of them.
Bill the Bailey is proving to be a very nice space to live in. The floor space and openness created by being 8ft wide and having the G format seating layout is very beneficial to full time living. No more dancing around each other just to get from one end of the caravan to the other we can actually pass each other side by side, and no more me having to clamber over Steve to get out of bed for the 3am bathroom visit! Positive luxury compared to last year! We still seem to have the same sudden urge to both try to get through the door at the same time though only to discover that that isn’t any wider than the previous one! Belle has settled in like she’s never been away following us on our walks around the site, climbing trees, chasing leaves in the wind and there’s been a few unfortunate mice and vole casualties that didn’t get the message she was back so ended up spending their last living seconds in her clutches.
Wet and windy days of furlough enabled me to spend some time thinking about a facelift for our social media accounts and so a new logo was designed to mark reaching 500 Instagram subscribers. Also we have added vinyl advertising stickers to Vinny and Bill – thanks to @theweepinkvan- to promote the sites and hopefully reach out to anyone interested in our lifestyle and the places we visit.
After the initial site tidy up the few weeks of furlough passed quickly and before we knew it we were all systems go for the 12th April. The site was booked to capacity for opening day as we were still on hardstanding pitches only. One- o -clock arrived and they were queueing down the hill, a white snake as far as the eye could see. In through the gate came a steady stream of white boxes all shapes and sizes, all eager to find their perfect pitch and start making their memories once again. It was a whirlwind of smiles, waves and catching up with familiar faces from last season. There were an enormous amount of newbies who like last years holidaymakers had migrated over to the caravanning lifestyle due to the “new normal” holidaying restrictions. It was now a very different view looking out of Bills window across our big back garden.
We have managed a few lovely days out when the weather has allowed, aiming for a mix of city and coastal experiences. Emsworth is a picturesque old fishing village at the north end of Chichester Harbour, with narrow streets, walled gardens, Georgian houses and a mill pond. The small town has interesting antique shops and independent art and food shops which are a delight to browse. In the Middle Ages it was a busy port importing wine and later became known for its oyster beds. Oyster production is no more but you can still follow the Oyster Trail which is a historic walk starting from the Museum. Its most famous resident was PG Wodehouse who incorporated several local characters and names into his books.
Another sunny day took us to Titchfield Haven and a walk along the coastal path which rises above Meon Shore Beach giving extensive views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight and all the sea traffic navigating the waterway. A walk along the beach passes properties which are a step up from beach huts but not quite permanent residential bungalows the path then climbs up onto the cliff top passing through blossom filled narrow paths then dropping down onto the shingle beach at intervals. We turned back after an hour or so as coffee and cake was waiting for us back in Vinny parked up on the beachfront.
On a City day out we went to Chichester for a spot of retail therapy and culture. We parked easily (the advantage of having weekdays off) and had a very short walk into the main shopping area. The town has a mixture of High Street names and independent retail and having had our fix we then headed for the 12th century Cathedral unfortunately still not open for visitors other than for prayer, but it was very tranquil walking around the grounds and through the cloisters, a calm oasis amidst the bustle of the City.
That’s been our March and April, if you would like to see what we do and where we go next please subscribe to the blog on WordPress and you will automatically be notified when the blog is posted. Alternatively watch out for when the next update is out via Instagram and Twitter @2gocaravanning.