Summer 2013 – Week 7 – The Midlands

Monday 29th July 2013

We had to set off quite early as we planned to be at one time neighbours in Spain, the Briggsys, by late afternoon and they were over in deepest Norfolk. Nothing exciting about the journey except that neither Jo or I believed the satnav as we thought the Briggsys lived in a completely different place to where we were being taken but then I remembered that Mr Briggs told me that they had only contemplated living near Diss and did not actually move there!

We did find them eventually, in a beautifully renovated barn off the beaten track in a little village in the countryside and with plenty of space to park.

Tuesday 30th July 2013

The Briggsys (Alan and Denise) showed us round their neck of the woods and there is certainly plenty of thick woodland round there. We eventually found our way to a pub, initially for a quick one but ended up staying for lunch. We really enjoyed our all too brief stay in a delightful part of the world. I know Sue would have rushed out of the house everytime the planes flew over. Jo was not so enthusiastic.

Time to bid farewell and to head south-east towards Ipswich to another neighbour from Spain Jeremy and Patricia who live on the River Orwell between Ipswich and Harwich.

From my memory of the last trip it was quite narrow down their lane even for a car and the final bit was quite a struggle. Jeremy and son Jonathan had trimmed back the hedge and the overhanging branches and we squeezed through with millimetres to spare. A drink to calm the shattered nerves and supper.

Wednesday 31st July 2013

Sunrise over the River Orwell at Pin Mill

Sunrise over the River Orwell at Pin Mill

Jeremy wanted to take us for a walk in the morning and I showed him a geocache on the map. He has been geocaching with me before so knew what he was letting himself in for. Smugglers used to sail up to Pin Mill and drop off their ill gotten gains. To avoid the Customs men one smuggler had a lady friend, a Miss Catchpole, who would put a china cat in the window of her house when the coast was clear. Eventually the Customs men twigged and she was shipped off to Australia where she eventually married the Governor General. The cache was near the house but we could not see the cat in the window. HMRC officials about I guess. We walked back across the fields past the impressive Ipswich Girls School.

I visited Jeremy and Patricia a couple of years ago and I sailed in his Ajax racing yacht although I didn’t get to do anything as my companion at the time was even more keen than me to sail but this time I was allowed on the helm with Jo on the jib sheets and Jeremy taking a back seat although I knew he was keeping a keen eye on this amateur sailor. Jo, of course, was familiar with the Ajax as her father bought the first one directly from the Boat Show stand. It still survives and is being raced in the West Country.

There was some wind and we were up to Levington and back in no time.

Patricia knows that being outdoors gives one a good appetite…

77. sailing barge on the Orwell (600 x 450)

Sailing barge on the Orwell

Thursday 1st August 2013

The plan for today was to have lunch in Harwich. That is the other side of the river. Joanna, Jeremy and I were going to walk to Shotley Point Marina (about 8kms) along the River Orwell taking in three geocaches along the way and Patricia, youngest son Jonathan and his two children were going to meet us there and we all then take the ferry over to Harwich. We arrived dead on time to see the rest sailing away. It was another twenty minutes before we arrived but the fish and chips at the Pier Hotel followed by an ice cream on the pier were worth it.

Back home we sat on their terrace watching the boating world go by and went out again for supper at the Butt and Oyster, a famous old pub from the seventeenth Century.

Famous pub, the Butt and Oyster at Pinmill.

Famous pub, the Butt and Oyster at Pinmill.

We really loved living so close to the river and it has helped us make up our mind about where to live. We really want to overlook the sea or be on an estuary just as Shore Cottage is assuming finances allow. We also want a sailing boat. Just got to sell a couple of properties in Spain!

Friday 2nd August 2013

We had to make an early start as we had booked into the – let me just find my anorak – UK Mega geocaching event at Gaydon home to Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin and also the British Heritage Motor Museum, the largest collection of British cars.

Cape Cold to Cape Hot; Richard Pape's Austin A90 Cap Nord Norway to Cape Town South Africa car

Cape Cold to Cape Hot; Richard Pape’s Austin A90 Cap Nord Norway to Cape Town South Africa car

On the way we had to find a supermarket to stock up on food and a few other essentials. We went to Asda in Bury St Edmunds, taking umbrellas as it looked a bit like rain. Rain? You could hear it on the store roof. Paid the cashier we waited outside undercover with hundreds of others. I walked to the van under our golf-style brolly and drove round to pick Jo and the shopping up. The water was cascading off the roof and the drain covers were being forced upwards due to the pressure of the water. A large lake was forming. Time to get out. The fuel station was automated so under cover.

I have been to the BMH museum once before, many years ago but I can spend all day looking at classic cars and it is a proper campsite and we had been staying in friend’s/relation’s houses for the last two weeks so time to join the canvas brigade. In fact the camping field was a mixture of tents, caravans, trailer tents and campervans. What we didn’t expect were the flag poles; some about twenty feet high with Union flags, pirate flags, town and city flags, country flags and, we were to find out later, wrapped with solar powered Christmas tree lights.

Campsite at British Motor Heritage Museum site at Gaydon, venue for the annual geocaching mega event

Campsite at British Motor Heritage Museum site at Gaydon, venue for the annual geocaching mega event

We were late getting in and had forgotten the hog roast, if only I could find the tickets!

Superficially friendly bunch, but all very cliquey. We definitely felt like outsiders. Tasty pig, the only real way to eat pork.

Tired, bed.

Saturday 3rd August 2013

Noisy night on the campsite, the flags flapping in the wind, tents billowing and people chattering outside. It had been a very warm evening, no sign of heavy rain.

There were supposed to be lots of attractions and stalls to see at the centre. There were attractions for kids and the stalls were selling lots of geocaching goodies including crates full of different style boxes to hide caches in. We now know what to look for! We went to a lecture by Garmin but it was all too brief and taken at the gallop although the lecturer was quite helpful when we got back to the stand with some questions. He must be on commission and did not want to leave his colleague on the stand on his own for too long.

Another stroll round but we kept our hands in our pockets except for buying one present for someone but that’ll be a surprise as I know the person is a subscriber to this blog!

On the way back to the van we tried orienteering. It was only a short course to give you a taste for the sport. Jo would be quite good at the navigating aspect of it but it would have to be non-competitive, i.e. walking pace.

Quick lunch and chance to find some of the local caches. There are over four hundred within five miles of Gaydon! Met lots of people on the trail but surprised that some folk were doing their geocaching by car. Not so surprised that the UK has an obesity problem.

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