I’ve done nowt but moan for the past few hours, nothing new there, according to The Boss.
Since taking the awning down a few weeks ago, lifting the legs, hitching up and hitting the road and heading towards Burford we vowed we’d take the van off site and away again on our next available days off. Not having the awning has proved quite liberating. We haven’t really missed its cavernous, empty three metre by seven metre space.
Well, those days off are here and we’ve booked 2 nights at The New Forest Centenary Site. We’ve friends on holiday there and it seems like a plan to catch up with them and the wardens.
Working constantly until 30 minutes before he wants to leave site, I’ve realised that even without the awning there’s still lots to do. Cupboards to empty, food to pack, crockery and cutlery to think about, cosmetics to help keep me beautiful, chairs, Cadac, coats and god only knows anything else we might need, that I need to think about quickly. He leisurely winds up the legs, unplugs the electric, throws the lead in the locker and asks if I’m nearly ready! Buzzing round like a blue arsed fly throwing things into boxes and the Volvo, I gawp at him in disbelief. It’s a lot of faff for a couple of nights away.
I’ve got an extra body to think about too on this trip. Just over a week ago the youngest Jellybean asked if we’d tortoise sit whilst she went away on her jollies. So, into the car goes all her gubbins and for such a little thing she travels with a lot of baggage.
Once on the road and Harriet, the tortoise, settles on my knee in her pet carrier.
Just less than an hour and a half down the road and we hit familiar roads, it feels like I’m coming home. The New Forest.
My creaking bones unfold themselves out of the car and I hobble into reception to book in. Height of summer, just before 6pm and there are only a handful of pitches left, quick scan of the keys and we head towards Mustang and a spacious grass pitch.
Legs down, leccy plugged in, Harriet settled on the grass for the final rays of sunshine and we settle down with a brew, a strong cup of builders. Sitting here now makes all my stresses about packing to come away fade as a dim and distant memory. Quick trip to the chippy and Co-op in Bransgore for essentials, mainly water containing copious amounts of hops in glass bottles and chips and battered sausage for tea, we head back to the van armed with plastic forks, I’m convinced that I’ve forgotten to pack cutlery.
I did pack cutlery and our chippy tea was bloomin’ good. Wandering across the site, armed with chairs, are Matt and Tracey our wardens from last year, we settle down for a catch up and a good chin wag.
One of the reasons we are here, Annette and Chris, salt of the earth and friends from Twitter, are here. We’ve not seen them since last winter and find ourselves in the biggest snuggle imaginable, that is after we’ve frightened the life out of her by shouting ‘Boo!’ from beyond the darkness outside her awning.
The following morning, Harriet forces us to take her round to their pitch for a cup of tea and to meet their gorgeous puppy.
Sausage butty, slathered in brown sauce with a another strong cup of builders, Harriet tucked up safely in the caravan and we head off into the New Forest with Annette and Chris on a puppy walk with the gorgeous, brown, ball of fluff that is Otis Bear.
Stopping at every blade of grass and tree stump for a sniff it’s more of a trundle than a walk. Ambling towards Whitten Pond, the puppy encounters his first sight of New Forest Ponies, not interested at all in them but completely enamoured with their poo which is everywhere, we find it hard encouraging him to carry on.
Back to site, splash our faces with water and a quick change of tops and we all bundle into the car and head for a dog friendly table at The Woolpack in Sopley, a favourite pub of ours from last season. They serve the most amazing plate of sticky barbecue ribs with a dog friendly menu, complete with puppy dish of rice and lamb. Tucking into our grub, the portions are so big that even Otis Bear struggles to clean his plate.
Meanwhile, back in the warmth of the caravan, Harriet has her final supper of her New Forest Holiday, a free supper of dandelion and sow thistle leaves with a garnish of cucumber. What’s not to love about local delicacies?
Time to head back to Longleat after a lovely relaxing couple of days.