Published: August 15th 2012August 15th 2012
6 weeks to go
The weather has improved somewhat this week and we have started to have some good weather. Although not hot the rain has gone and has been replaced by sunshine. It has given us chance to get out into the garden. The late summer plants the orange Crocosmia, the large white daisies and Japanese Anemones are now blossoming. Dog roses ramble through the hedgerows and large white morning glory rambles from branch to branch. Another book has been purchased – a Rough Guide to the Czech Republic which looks like another country worth visiting.
Lowdhams have acknowledged our black hole email and it seems the deputy manager writes to the manager, the manager writes to the sales manager who writes to Swift who then write to Thetford so still we wait. Hard to imagine it is now a whole 5 months since the locker doors broke. Will they ever get fixed?
Five weeks to go – are we there yet? I sound like a child. Another reasonable week weatherwise although the weatherman has given rain again coming in the end of the week.
Finally another locker door turned up for Suzy and yes
it is the wrong one again. More emails,more phone calls. I guess Lowdhams are now very fed up of us complaining. Will we get the right door before we leave for Europe.
More to worry about though now than the lockers . We bought a small compass which shows the location of the satellites and we thought it would help us pick plots which were facing the right way for Kathrein to pick up the signals from the satellites. We switched on the tv in Suzy and got an error message saying that the software would not speak to the satellite dish. We had some trouble getting the dish down in Dieppe and also struggled to pick up any signal at Chatsworth putting it down to overhanging trees. Having read a lot recently about the death of Astra 2 and the launch of Astra 1N with its smaller beam length we wanted to find out if we could still pick up a signal from home. Shock horror set in as we realised our very expensive German built dish was misbehaving. One phone call to Solar Solutions who fitted it. They were busy and would ring back. Second phone call
next day.No-one available. Third phone call and finally a response that they would need to speak to RoadPro the dealers. Another day went by and worry that this would not be sorted before our trip. Finally we got Roadpro and Suzy and kathrein are booked in mid August for a good seeing to. We had hoped to stay over at a campsite near Bleinheim but sods law the only day we want to stay over is fully booked up .Is this why we love campsites abroad? There are more of them, they are usually not fully booked all the time and towns are more motorhome friendly. Wouldnt it be nice if towns in Britain were all like towns in France encouraging us motorhomers instead of making life difficult with height barriers, short parking bays and lack of facilities on park and ride sites.
We have also been trying to update the maps on our SatNav. Again why do they take the money and then you cannot get the maps to load on to the system. More phone calls ,more complaining –it should n’t be like this.
On the way we stopped at Cherwell Services where there was
a dedicated motorhome and caravan stop, free WiFi, a good Marks and Spencers and quite a few food outlets. Decided on another short trip and this time to Woodstock and Blenheim Palace home to the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. The house a gift from Queen Anne was given to John Churchill in recognition of his achievement during the Battle of Blenheim in 1704.The entrance to the estate in the village is not exactly beautiful although perhaps beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is a chunky affair with large stone pillars and opens out to a long straight road lined with trees. In the distance are the car parks for the estate, the ticket offices and in the far distance another large imposing gateway and wrought iron gate. We walked from our campsite in the grounds of the estate to the gates which were about 1 km away along a busy and dusty A road. We were lucky to be able to use a 2 for 1 offer which we picked up at Chatsworth. Although we had to pay for one adult at around £15 it still saved us about £11 on the visit. The house
is far more impressive than Chatsworth and was apparently built in the English Baroque style which was relatively short lived. Designed by the architect Vanbrugh it is rectangular in form with and impressive façade of pillars and pilasters. The family who were in residence today – the flag was flying from the roof - live in one of the open loggia wings. We were informed that we might see the current duke who is 6’ 5” tall and quite distinctive in height but had to be contented with the entire Korean Olympic squad who were being treated to a day out in Ye Olde England before they returned home.
Entrance to the house is through the middle of the main façade and you enter a rather small entrance hall which was heavily painted on the ceiling but for once did not have an imposing or regal flight of stairs to the upper floors. The guide informed us proudly that the house was not owned nor maintained by the National Trust nor English Heritage but was privately owned. We could wander through the exhibitions to the most noted son Winston Churchill and through five rooms before joining, if we wished,
the guided tour of the downstairs areas. We breathed a sigh of relief when we were told we could on the other hand just wander about ourselves. Some of the corridors were dark and decorated with cabinets full of 17th
century Chinese porcelain. Pictures adorned the walls ranging from Knollys to modern photographic like images of the current duchess with vivid blue skies without clouds through to the more impressionist qualities of Consuelo a previous duchess. We walked through galleries of Churchill memorabilia ranging from his war years to his life as a politician and we saw the room he was born in and the gown he wore as a baby. All of which were immensely interesting and gave another facet to life in a big house. Tapestries hung from the dining room walls and tables were fully set up with huge quantities of silverware. And then there was the library and the end room with what was described as the largest privately owned organ in the whole of Europe.
From inside the route led us out to the Chapel which was pretty uninspiring as far as chapels go and then on to the two on site
cafes where we ate ham sandwiches with the crusts cut off and drank Blenheim sparkling water. Another money spinner for the estate. We will not have curly hair then as we did not eat our crusts. Outside before the rain fell we walked in the Italian garden with its box hedges, its fountains and statuary, through the rose garden which was just going over and through the woods to the lake and cascade. The cascade was interesting as far as cascades go and there were numerous bridges offering view points. From here we walked back alongside the lake which in parts was covered with the most delightful water lilies and in others smelled of rotting vegetation. It was at this point the rain came down. We had planned to walk to the impressive bridge over the River Glyme but decided to shelter in the hope the rain stopped. It did not so in the end we had the brave the work back to the campsite. This time we walked across the fields passed the miniature railway which ran to the Pleasure Gardens where there was a butterfly house, a maze and various other childrens attractions. Dodging the rain beneath the trees we walked and ran back to the site along the exit lane which was much quieter and safer to walk along rather than the main road.
The campsite was a Camping Club one. Many people do not like the regimentation of the sites however we do. We like the 6 metre rule which gives us ample hardstanding and grass between us and our neighbours. The showers were clean and tidy and the staff helpful. We were joined by other happy campers through the day but the site remained a quiet haven where we could watch the sheep wandering around the field and play dominoes. These have been recently bought so that we can while away and hour or so if the TV does not work and of course on this trip it was not working.
At night we ventured out again trying to dodge the showers. This time to the tiny village of Bladon . Our destination the small church of St Martins which is the home to the Churchill graves. The church was built in 1802 but looked older. There were some interesting weather worn grave stones in the churchyard and we felt saddened that the names and dates had over time worn off them. We found the grave of Winston Churchill tucked behind the church amongst other relatives from the Churchill clan. His death took place in 1965 and himself can remember watching the funeral on TV whilst I remembered being taken by my school to the local flea pit of a cinema to watch it on the big screen. His tomb was relatively simple for such a well known and important man – a man who fought in the war and was the Prime Minister during the Second World War. He lies next to his parents, his brother and his children. A few pots of geraniums livened the scene with the rest of graves sporting neatly cut box hedging. We felt a lowly memorial to a man so steeped in wartime history, a prolific writer, a competent painter and self taught bricklayer.
Our visit ended with a ride up the road to Daventry where we had our Kathrein attended to. She had not worked for a while and I was getting worried that the company who fitted it had sent us to another company to fix it. After much deliberation the fault was finally pinpointed. Rain had got in under a seal and the wiring had sat in water and shorted the electrics and the fuses. We were presented with a bill for something under guarantee and much discussion went on about why the company who had fitted it had booked us into this other company to get it fixed. Luckily they saw our point of view and agreed to invoice Solar Solutions for the work they had undertaken for us. At least she was working, resealed properly and the wiring protected we were ready to buy an inverter and head for home.
Only thing left now to sort out is the door alarm which is not working – another trip to Warrington to sort it out. Filled the tank up with petrol and topped up the LPG. We have used one tank during the 34 days of travel so it seems as if it has been a very sensible buy.