Tag Archives: Travel

And we’re off!

So the time of year has come for one of our two yearly birthday trips, usually this trip in March to celebrate my birthday will involve a drive far north of the M25 in search of mountains to climb, trails to ride and paths to walk in generally the worst of the British weather.

This year however we’re heading south, Lolly is 32 weeks pregnant and wasn’t massively up for mountains or mountain bikes so we’ve jumped on a ferry to the Isle of Wight to stay at a campsite right by the beach and enjoy some easy going walks around the countryside, as I write there are patches of blue sky and the sun is doing it’s very best to shine.

Unlike all our previous trips there is an air of calm prior to our departure even though we are running 20 mins late, I think I’ve finally realised that getting annoyed isn’t going to change the fact that we are late, if anything it’s a hindrance and just makes things misearable all round.

Whilst I was fairly confident we would miss the ferry we made it by the skin of our teeth and are now on our way across the channel to the island, just before we boarded a ferry I got a quick snap of the bus. 


Once on the ferry a quick selfie to mark the start of our trip!


Being a naval port there are lots of ships about that can blow stuff up like this one. 

Once we land we’ll be off to check into Grange Farm and then head out for a walk, might have a cup of tea too. 

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A trip down to Weymouth

The beginning of July is our wedding anniversary and due to a slight oversight by myself I spent the majority of it on a flight back from Moscow, I got to spend a couple of hours with Lolly on our actual anniversary and arranged to head out in the van and go somewhere for the weekend together to celebrate properly..

Our destination was Rosewall campsite in Weymouth, google said it would take us about 2.5 hours which I think is just far enough to drive for a weekend trip, we decided to take the A3 and then the A31, two roads I never wish to see again.

The first issue arose getting from ours to the A3, there is a route that Lolly’s dad takes that both of us are convinced we know, we don’t and had agreed not to try taking it, before we knew it we were trying to work out the route, we failed miserably and it took an age to get to the A3, one unimpressed wife, especially as the sun was blazing and we were stuck in a van.

The A31 wasn’t much better, there was traffic leading up to the A31 on the A3, for a while we were belting along before we hit the first roundabout, one of many all of which came with a queue to reach them, progress was slow, really slow, it was so bad we pulled off the A31 around the new forest area into a little pub for lunch, annoyingly I can’t remember the name of the pub which is a real shame as the food was excellent and I recommend a visit, if I remember I will update the post.

After eating we carried on to Weymouth in rubbish traffic and reached our destination just before Lolly was about to explode, she also made me promise no more weekend excursions more than an hours drive.

We booked in, found ourselves a spot with a nice view looking out to sea, grabbed the bikes and headed off for a ride, we made our way to the coastal path and it became clear very quickly that it was completely unsuitable for bikes, we headed back to the van, dropped the bikes off and went back the way we came on foot.

We followed the path down to the beach, the beach was a large pebble / stone beach with boulders thrown in for good measure. In Ibiza, along the shoreline, especially where there are rocks people build little stone towers, seems they do the same here so we decided to make a couple of our own.

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We spent a couple of hours clambering about the rocks, watching these weird things hop about out of the sea, they looked like wood louse and shrimps but weren’t either, very strange! We then followed the path up past the pub which gave us lovely views out over the bay. As the sun started to set we made our way back as cooking in the dark is always a bit of a challenge, we swerved into a pub just by the beach called the smugglers inn, we had a drink, contemplated eating as the food looked awesome but stuck with our plan and walked back to the van to cook some chicken on the cob.

Back at the van we got our chicken on the go, made some drinks and settled in for the evening, about 15 mins into cooking the heavens opened, prior to the rain there were loads of fire baskets alight outside campers tents or vans, they went out pretty quickly! Having a lid means you can leave the cobb doing it’s thing in the rain which to be fair stopped after 20 mins or so. Following the rain was a quite spectacular electrical storm, we sat up for about an hour after we ate watching the lightshow before turning in for the night, dinner was lovely, Harissa chicken with avocado salad and cous cous.

Next morning was a bit of grey damp affair but in no time at all the sun came up, perfect for a picture of camp mashley!

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Rosewall campsite is a bit like wild camping in the sense there are no pitches, you just find a spot and that’s you for your stay, there is a shop that sells all sorts of things, milk, biscuits, bbq food, camping supplies and local beer! The toilet and shower blocks are well maintained as are the washing up areas. There are two blocks, one at the top of the hill near the shop and one at the bottom. The bottom of the hill is flatter but at the expense of the view, we found a flat spot at the top of the campsite with a really nice view out to sea.

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We drank plenty of tea and got some breakfast down us whilst the campsite started to fill up. Our plan was to grab the bikes, head for a ride to Weymouth and possibly on to Portland, a small tied island which is the southern most tip of Dorset.

The ride into Weymouth took about 15 minutes and our first stop was the beach, we arrived just in time for a punch and judy show which is not something I woud bother with but Lolly wanted to watch it, while I went to get a couple of beers, Lolly found us a spot and put a couple of quid in the donations box.

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I’ve got to admit, the show was really funny, it’s main content was for children but there was quite a lot of stuff that was clearly for adults without being risque or offensive for the kids, i’m glad we stopped to watch it. From here we rode to the harbour, all around there are little coffee shops, restaurants and kids with their parents on the harbour wall fishing for crabs, they caught plenty!

You can see the beach and some of the harbour behind us in the picture below

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Just up from where this photo was taken is Nothe park and fort, we stopped for a delicious sandwich and then pressed on.

We followed the coastal path which for most of the way hugs the coastline but deviates between that and residential areas, this is where we came across Sandsfoot castle, a ruined castle set in a little landscaped park that sells amongst other things very nice ice cream which of course tried!

It had taken us about 2 hours to get this far as we kept stopping to look at things or eat, we were less than halfway to our destination, I knew we had a way to go and wasn’t looking forward to the ride back and in my usual style got a bit grumpy.

Next stop was Chesil Beach, we locked up the bikes and walked up the pebble dune to see what was on the other side, ferocious sea and wind with some nutters in a tent was what was on the other side! I think we lasted about a minute at best before we decided being blown to pieces wasn’t that attractive and headed back to the bikes.

At this point I really didn’t want to carry on and just wanted to turn back, i’d had enough riding bikes and we had a long ride home but Lolly really wanted to reach the island, reluctantly I agreed and we cycled over, when we arrived we cycled through a kind of marine industrial estate, past that we followed the path to a dead end, turning round we found a little pebble launch called scimitar wharf  which it turns out is owned by Scimitar diving, we both had a drink each so we sat down, drank our drinks and then started the journey back.

The ride back wasn’t as bad as I thought apart from the hill near where we were staying, it took about 80 mins and below is the strava output from the return leg.

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I didn’t realise we rode that far, a 20.6 mile round trip!

Back at the van we made ourselves a drink each, got the cobb on the go and cooked up some peri peri chicken with the rest of the salad from the night before, we were pretty shattered so put the latest episode of Penny Dreadful on and settled down for the night.

We had planned to get up early on Sunday, dodge the traffic and be home before the afternoon, we woke up about 10 am so failed massively on that front, I packed up the van, we showered and then went for breakfast which was lovely, then began the journey home which wasn’t that bad this time around.

There is so much more to Weymouth than we thought and we’ll be heading back there again, just not exactly sure when, if you are heading that way then I really would recommend the Rosewall campsite.

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Back in the U.S.S.R or Moscow to be precise..

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Every now and again I am sent to do some IT work in one of our rep offices, i’ve been to Milan, Paris, Dubai, Cairo and the slightly less glamorous Aberdeen.

My favourite and by far the most interesting to me is Moscow, they fly me here, i’m not expected to drive the van!

Last time I came here it was -35, cold even for an Englishman, it was the start of the Socchi olympics and the normally unimpressed looking Russians were smiling, i think they are unimpressed at this time of year because it’s bloody cold, even so, it’s a magical time to visit, most lakes freeze over and become ice rinks, the river which is easily as wide as the river thames also freezes over but I never saw anybody skating on it, there is snow everywhere and the parks are lit up with fairy lights, it’s like christmas everyday!

Because it was so cold last time around the only tourist thing I did was take a trip on the metro to photograph some of the ornate stations, it’s warm down there! I also took a wander round Red Square as it was within walking distance to where I was staying, you can find those pictures on my flickr site here.

This time I arrived when the temperature was quite literally at the opposite end of the scale, it was +35 when I landed, nice. As it’s a business trip I am usually picked up by the driver from the office but due to some bad communication he wasn’t coming to get me, I would have to get a taxi, I was concerned I would get ripped off but was assured if I picked up a taxi from inside the terminal I would be fine, I did exactly that and still got ripped off to the point where the hotel told me not to pay, called the police, hid me in a room and told me not to come out till it was all over, that put a stop to any first night excursions although it meant my taxi ride was free. Turns out the taxi driver wasn’t licensed and made up the fares as he went along, they were also all in Russian so his argument that I had agreed the fare was flawed as I don’t speak or read Russian and he didn’t speak English.

The following day was a day in the office, a late finish, dinner and bed, not very exciting, however, the method in my madness was to get as much done as I could on one night so I could head out a bit early the following day and explore.

Next day the sun was shining, I didn’t want to do anything indoors,I wanted to make the most of some good weather, I braved the metro (it’s easy to get lost as there is nothing in English and Cyrillic makes no sense to me) and headed off to Gorky Park.

Over the road from Gorky park is another park called (by westeners) Fallen Monument Park. When the soviet union collapased, many of the old statues that represented the union were removed and some have made their way to the park.

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Each statue or monument has a little info board telling you what it is, some are quite obvious if you know your history.

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The monuments evoke a very cold war / iron curtain feel, I think they are awesome!

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From there I wandered to the river to take a picture of a quite massive monument!

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This is Peter The Great, a 98 metre high monument erected in 1997 to commemorate 300 years of the Russian navy which he founded, it’s an impressive thing, you can read more about it here

You can walk along the waterfront, under the bridge and make your way into Gorky park, the route is fairly busy with couples strolling hand in hand, cyclists belting along or towing people on skateboards,lots of rollerbladers, you can hire a bike if you want or just amble along on foot like me.

Gorky park is an incredible space, within the park there is so much going on, yoga classes with at least twenty or so people stretching in unison, table tennis, beach volleyball on sand, Russian dancing, kids running through fountains.

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There are restaurants and cafe’s dotted about the place, a boating lake with pedalos, massive bean bags to relax on, group running, I could go on, the most striking thing to me was the sound, a mixture of music and laughter which is a lovely thing to hear.

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There are at least 3 different fountains, one that does a show to classical music, all around there are brightly coloured flowers symmetrically arranged, if i’m honest I was pretty blown away, the only thing it didn’t have was Lolly, she was back at home and I know she would have loved walking round the parks.

I took loads of pictures which as I write I still have to edit, I think I spent about 4 hours wandering round both parks and only decided to go home as the sun was going down, maybe I should have stayed and got some night shots, in fact I wish I had.

I hope I get to come here again and if I do, I will come in Summer again, Moscow is a great place to visit, one for the bucket list…

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