Making the most of it….. 26/7

It has been a strange few weeks, hence a little bit of radio silence. My dad had a fall just over three weeks ago and has unfortunately gone downhill since then, spending a couple of weeks in hospital and is now under 24 hour care. Although we all knew it was going to happen at some point, it was still a shock to all of us how quickly he went from walking with a frame and having an incredibly healthy appetite, to needing help to stand – let alone walk – and eat. I am not the kind of person who would normally share this kind of information as we are a very close family but I wanted to take a moment to share and how important it is to make the most out of every day and create those memories as you just don’t know what will happen tomorrow.

Although it is a little unsettled at the moment we did manage a few days in Bath catching up with some friends and we have just got back from three days in a little CL just outside Tring, Hertfordshire. (Ballers, Vicarage Road, Wigginton, Tring. £6 a night).

With the exception of a caravan that looked like it had to come to the field to die, we were the first to arrive – however by about 6pm the field was full of its five caravans and motorhomes of various sizes.

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Keith picked the CL in Tring as it was close to the Ridgeway which is a path that goes from Ivinghoe to West Kenner in Wiltshire – roughly 87 miles, little did he know that my dad used to have offices in Tring in the late 80’s, so it was quite nice to have a trip down memory lane!

Despite the weather being a bit changeable we popped into Tring on Sunday afternoon which is a half an hour walk down (…. and I do mean down for those who aren’t keen on hills) through Tring park. The reminiscent tour was reasonably quick – it isn’t a big place – ending at the overflow of the natural history museum which is – and always was -situated just across the road from my dads old office. Tring is a small, commuter town which hasn’t changed much over the years, unfortunately being left behind where places like Berkhempstead have profited…although it did still have the ever important hardware store to keep it going!

After a wet night, Monday morning was still a bit soggy although I still set off for a run along the ridgeway but thankfully missed the turning and ended up on a small, winding, hilly road … a nice way to start the day! We later set off cladded in wet gear to walk the Ridgeway in the same direction so Keith kindly pointed out where I had gone wrong …. it was muddy – I was happy with my running route!

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The walk was lovely and actually, although wet under foot, it didn’t rain. We changed the route slightly and ended up in Wendover, finding a beautiful house at the end of the Ridgeway path with fruit trees galore in the garden which would happily keep us fed for a while, just a shame that they weren’t quite ready for the picking!

Tuesday was drier, so after the morning exercise routine we set off Eastwards to Ivinghoe a slightly rougher trail but equally as beautiful.

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As it was drier under foot we did a circular route coming back through Aldbury park – a lovely 23km round trip…. with some fantastic Blackberry bushes, more wild raspberries and fields upon fields of peas which we are guessing had been left to dry out as they hadn’t been cultivated yet and were past their due date!

Surprisingly we arrived back to find that the caravan that looked like it had been left to die had disappeared. As we hadn’t witnessed the event we can’t be sure as to whether it was towed, lifted or spontaneously combusted…. but it kindly left space for a new motorhome to join us!

Not bad for another little field with lots of blackberries and many a route to walk… there was even a nice little pub about half a mile down the road so we may just be back soon!

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Gin, Rye and a spot of rain – 30/6

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As we had such a lovely time in the New Forest a couple of weeks ago we thought we would come back for a few days this week, this time venturing to the East, closer to Brockenhurst.

With a quest to sniff out all the interesting/unusual little CL’s this one (Setley Ridge Vineyard, Lymington Rd, Brockenhurst, SO42 7UF, £16 per night) looked promising, set in a vineyard, unsuitable for children, farm shop, a mile outside Brockenhurst and lots of walking…. unfortunately it forgot to tell us that it was going to rain this week…but I guess we can’t really blame them for that!

When we arrived on Monday, memories of all the vineyards we have stayed in across Europe came flooding back …. Mika was very happy in her surroundings and despite the increasingly grey clouds as the week progressed, we could have been anywhere!

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The location was good but interestingly we preferred where we stayed a couple of weeks ago as it was far more tranquil with more small villages and wildlife rather than large houses and slightly bigger towns.  That said, we still managed to explore and get some good walking in.

We have bought a new toy (Satmap Active 20) and are doing our best to see whether it is worth keeping so putting it to its paces, on Tuesday we headed off cross country ….. literally through the nettles, thorns and overgrown hedges to Lymington which is a beautiful seaside town on the edge of the New Forest.  Once we got to the outskirts of Lymington we happened to pass a sign to the local Dancing Cows Gin Distillery, so we took a little detour to find out more….. three gins and a rye later we purchased a bottle of the Gin to add to the collection and set off, weaving our way along the coastal path into Lymington rather than our previous route.  Naturally, as we had opted for the slightly longer route the skies opened and the views of the Isle of Wight became a distant blur …. it was still quite pretty though!

Lymington was lovely, but after a quick refreshment and catching up on email, ordering a new fridge freezer ….. for those of you who believe that we don’t do any work at all…. we set off back through the woods to be enchanted.

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Trees are such beautiful things and walking through the New Forest it is so easy to see where the idea came for the Ents in the Lord of the Rings … so much character and personality.  The forest is far denser this side of the New Forest than it was closer to Ringwood with a huge variety of trees, young, old and very old!

Still wanting to put the toy through its paces, after a very wet run on Wednesday morning while Keith did his exercises inside we set off to find Lyndhurst in the rain.  We stuck to main bridlepaths instead of footpaths as it was pretty wet and the walk took us winding through the dense forest, arriving at Lyndhurst just in time for the clouds to lift for us to have a cuppa before they opened again for the walk home….. very timely!!

With everything smelling a little bit damp (mostly my sports clothes and shoes to be fair to Keith), thankfully on Thursday morning the rain stopped and enabled us to dry out and get some walking in without having to be enclosed inside waterproofs! We did a circular walk through the forest in a different direction, again sticking to the main bridlepaths and happened to come across a group of young deer who were very inquisitive before we came back through Brockenhust on the way home.

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A good few days away, a lot of miles under the belt, a bottle of gin heavier and a year older, now we have to work out where to next….