Wednesday morning home a day early

Here as promised is the bumper edition of the the blog covering the few days holiday.  Firstly this is the farm house in whose garden our caravan is parked.  I had been up since 2am but we didn't leave home until 10am to allow the rush hour traffic to subsided.  As we did the final check of the house we discovered that the patio doors would no longer lock.  The key refused to turn and despite out best efforts there was nothing to do but abandon it and hope we were not burgled in our absence.  Not such a good start!!!  The journey up was fine and we had no holdups so arrived at around 12 midday having stopped for a bacon roll at a road side cafe.  The lady who runs the cafe has  a soft spot for Basso who always gets a sausage.  Once we had unloaded the car and set up the van with electricity and water to our joy everything was working well.  There was a fair amount of sand and dog hair in the carpets from the last visit so that was immediately put on the to do list.  We then spent a couple of hours trying to get the TV tuned in and the ariel facing in the right direction.  We finally gave up and abandoned the TV.  Next we checked for a mobile phone signal and as per usual there was none!!  Tired and exhausted we decided to call it quits and have an early supper and bed.  I always leave the bed freshly made so that is one less chore when we arrive.  The shepherds pie reheated in the microway was just the ticket and we then settled down for the night.

Wednesday morning saw me up at the usual stupid time and with no blog to write I got stuck into the caravan log which is a similar thing that I have kept for all our camping lives. One day I will transcribe the whole thing but given that I am now on volume 6 it may take me some time.  It was bitterly cold outside but we managed to keep the internal temperature in the 20's so we were nice and warm.  As soon as it was light I took Basso for his morning constitutional where he discovered the remains of a rabbit which had been dead for some protracted length of time this didn't however dampen his entusiasm to bring it to me proud that he had provided breakfast.  I think he was disappointed that I was not so enthusiastic.  The fields were newly ploughed and wet so I will leave it to your imaginations the state of his feet on his return.  Now for the high light of the holiday I have fallen in love with the Tassimo machine and the kettle never made it out of the cupboard.  We had copious coffee in many formats from espresso to latte macchiato, english breakfast tea to have after our afternoon siesta and hot chocolate [Suchards] as a night cap for bed.  Now I don't know if you remember some time ago I had a very strange occurrence of breathlessness which ended with me in Ipswich hospital.  Well I was very breathless again not as bad but certainly not good.  Having given it a bit of thought it seems very strange as when I went camping with Sandy I had no problems at all.  It then dawned on me that I had slept in the front bed that time and this time I was back in the back bed which leads me to think that there must be something in the back bed that sets me off.  The only thing I know that I am allergic to is formaldehyde and I know that that is used in the making of certain foams.  I have therefore concluded that the mattress in the back must contain some formaldehyde which is what is causing the trouble.  I immediately moved to the front bed and the problem was solved.

I spent the morning giving the van a spruce up and finally got to grips with the floor which had plenty of dog hair and sand.  The easiest way to remove the dog hair from the carpets is to use a croc which seem to gather the hair really well, then a dust pan an brush cleared up the sand and finally a wet cloth over the floor and we were all ship shape and Bristol fashion.  As we were unsure what time our friends would arrive we decided to have some bread and cheese for lunch and await their arrival.  Angela was the first to get there and would you believe the heavens opened and there was a deluge of rain.  I dashed out with an umbrella and opened the gate and got her in and parked then set my new love Tassimo to making cups of tea all round while we awaited the arrival of her husband with the motor home.  We didn't have long to wait but as he had arrived from an intensive painting course he was tired and had 4 large oil painting which were still wet.  I went off and made provision for the paintings to be put in the summer house where they would be safe from the elements and out of the way.  Henry was very pleased as he had won the prize which was awarded by an assessor from the Slade gallery.  Once all was secure we decamped to the local pub where we had a fantastic steak and all the trimmings. The back for hot chocolate and an early night.  The rain hit us on and off but as luck would have it it only rained when we were indoors and when we decided to go out it stopped.  The following day we had decided that we needed a trip to Tesco to restock on some essentials and I also bought a trug bucket which fits in the shower cubical and has a thousand used not only for washing the dogs feet!!!  We then made our way to the Maybush inn at Walderingford where there is the most wonderful fish and chips to be had in huge portions and as usual Basso got a meal of batter, fish skin and chips which he thought very passable.  We then had a nice walk along the river Deben where there was a sailing competition in progress.

Then it was back to have a snooze before we gathered for Tassimo tea and made the decision to have bits and pieces for supper as non of us was hungry.  I provided some pea and ham soup which we followed by some poached chicken with roasted red peppers and then some sous vide fruit with Tesco's  best cornish clotted cream custard.  Given that we were not hungry we managed three courses with no trouble at all.

On Sunday morning we had a leisurely start and were finally ready to leave at about 10 am.  We had a table booked at the British Larder for 12.30 so we thought a good walk would be in order and so we took Basso to the forest.  Of course he thought he had died and gone to heaven and we were able to walk off some of the over indulgence.  

Now what to say about the British Larder.  It is very tastefully decorated and liberally scattered with paintings by a local artist which I can only describe and scribble in the shape of cattle.  Interesting but not to my taste.  As you are foodie people I will describe what I had, I started with a taster plate of pork which consisted of a very small kilner jar with potted pork, a pork rissole, sausage roll, some black pudding soup in an espresso cup and the high light a scotch egg with a soft yolk!! this was accompanied by bread and butter a tiny bowl of coleslaw, one of piccalilly and a bowl of mixed dressed leaves.  Frankly this would have done me fine but then came the main course which was roast beef Yorkshire pudding and vegetables.  Sadly the beef was from top side which not a good roasting joint and was therefore a bit tough though well cooked.  However they had done the cheffy thing of piling it all up in the centre of the plate with meat over the vegetables which meant that the duck fat roasted potatoes were sadly soggy.  Henry had ordered some cod and when it arrived it got sent straight back as it was badly over cooked.  Henry was once the fish chef at madame prunier's in london so he should know.  Our over all opinion was that they were struggling at the limits of their capacity and really needed to decide if they were a pub or a restaurant.  Just because you can cook doesn't mean you can run a restaurant.  None of us could manage a dessert so we abandoned ship and went back for coffee with Tassimo and an afternoon siesta.  That evening we were all still so stuffed that we just had some wine and a packet of bread sticks.  I felt as though I had eaten the entire pig and was quite uncomfortable.  Basso did quite well as Mike couldn't finish his roast beef so that was donated to the doggy bag.  So far we had managed to miss the showers of which there were plenty by we had stayed dry.  That night the sky cleared and the temperature dropped to minus 2 degrees with a sharp frost but we left the heating on all night and stayed nice and warm.  

On Monday we had planned to go the Butley at Orford for lunch so after another long forest walk that is where we headed.  We bought a few bits and bobs in the gun shop en route - I needed a new whistle as I had given my spare to Shiona and while we were in there I spotted something that I have been looking for for ages.  A pen knife in the shape of a bullet.  The last one I saw I didn't buy and have always regretted it so this one was mine!!!  As it turned out this was the best meal of the entire holiday I had a dozen oysters followed by grilled baby squid with garlic mayonnaise.  I later found the squid frozen in their shop and was stunned to find that it comes from the Falkland islands, so no food miles there then but at least it is British!!!!  Once fed we went into Woodbridge to the Woodbridge food emporium where we bought an assortment of cheese and some crusty bread for supper.   After which there ensued a dominos competition with our hot chocolate.
That night the heavens really opened and it rained constantly and blew a gale.  H&A were leaving in the morning and were packed and ready by 10 am and set off for Bristol.  We dithered and procrastinated about what to do we were booked in for another night but decided that if there was a window of dry weather we would hot foot it back home.  At 12 mid day it eased and we did just that arriving home about 3pm. The house was pristine an clean as Jane had been and the beds freshly made and ready to fall into.  Once the car was unloaded we collapsed and order a take away curry as we had not eaten all day and were ready for something.  The it was off to bed.  Tassimo my new best friend is now ensconced in my bed room - what luxury I can have a hot drink when ever the fancy takes me!!!

 View from the front window of the caravan

 A forest walk
 One very happy boy

Moody skys over Orford

Now on a personal level did this holiday do me good?  My mood was very volatile I swung from feelings of terrible guilt at leaving James in the hands of such an appalling hospital, to crisis of confidence as to wether still have the strength to manage the caravan and all that goes with it.  Then there were lovely times with friends who were very understanding and consoling and moments of sheer joy as I watched Basso in seventh heaven charging about the forest full of exciting smells.  I think on balance it has given me time to gain a bit of perspective and ready myself for what I know is going to be a very long haul.

Anyway the first of many loads of washing is on and I am off to bed to try and get a bit more sleep!!!!!

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