In the two weeks since we returned home from France, the motorhome has been cleaned inside and out, the lawn mowed, the enormous pile of mail sorted, finances checked and balanced and now we are bored. Time to take off again.
It seems like ages since our ears have been assaulted by close up aero engines so a good dose of jet noise might be just what the doctor would order……unless he happened to be an ear specialist of course. We will head on up to Lincolnshire for a few days, lurking around Coningsby with perhaps a trip over to Waddington thrown in.
There is no flying at weekends so we will start off with a few days on the North Norfolk coast near Cromer then, on Monday, go north to Coningsby and a favourite site at Woodhall Spa until Friday when we will come back down to Sandringham for the following weekend, thence home. As this is the UK and not France I had better book the sites in advance so an e-mail and a few minutes online makes our reservations.
Before we head off to Norfolk and Lincolnshire though it is that time of year when the Birmingham NEC plays host to the Motorhome and Caravan Show and right at the last minute we decide to go for the day. We have no intention of buying a new ‘truck’ as ours is only 18 months old but there are a few bits and bobs that we want and this is the place to be able to have a good look and compare before buying. Top of my list is a new sat-nav to replace the infamous ‘Mrs Garmin’ who, readers of my previous mutterings will recall, drives us mad by trying to send us up the most ridiculous goat tracks and short cuts. I have been watching the web sites of both Garmin and TomTom to see if they bring out improved ‘camper’ versions of their range and just a week or so ago I noticed that Garmin had a new version due to be released shortly. Sure enough Outdoor Bits, who sell motorhome equipment as well as running the Motorhome Facts Forum, were releasing the new model at the show and with luck there might be a special deal to be had.
So, an early start on Thursday as we set out in the car to the NEC. A few ‘stop, starts’ on the A14 due to heavy traffic but a good run in good weather and we arrived in good time. After a natter to Andy Harris at RoadPro we went off to look at a few new vans, just out of curiosity of course. When we are in France we see a lot of very smart (and expensive) A Class vans, many of them German, so we thought we would just look to see what we might be missing. Hymer, Burstner, Knaus, Rapido etc, we looked at loads of them and although they looked fabulous from the outside with their smart styling and huge garages when we went inside we were mostly disappointed with the layouts and equipment. We came away from that little excursion well pleased with our existing ‘truck’ and pleased with the decision we had made last year.
On then to the accessories we wanted to look at and first stop was the Outdoor Bits stand and the new Garmin. It seemed to have everything that I wanted in a sat-nav. Based on the truck version it had a 7” screen, settings for the length, width, height and weight of the motorhome, free map and traffic updates for life, ACSI and MHF campsite database built in plus the ability to add POI’s with ease. The credit card was flashed and the deed was done. We also wanted to look at a couple of new outdoor chairs that were lighter and more compact than our present ones so they were purchased to be delivered to home and we bought a new set of Correlle plates and mugs to replace our old and worn melamine ones. Satisfied with our purchases and our choice of motorhome and now getting weary we made our way home earlier than expected.
Friday morning and there is no rush to get away as we can’t get on our site until after 1:00pm and we only have about 60 miles to travel. It is a grey and misty morning but as we near the coast the sun comes out to play and everything looks so much better. Through Cromer and along the coast road to West Runton and the Incleborough Fields Caravan Club site (GPS N 52º56’04.39” E1º15’05.31”) where we have been several times before. For a county like Norfolk that is known for being very flat this place is very hilly. The site wraps itself round the side of a hill with a golf course in the centre of the site. The thing we always liked about the place is that from the upper terraces there is a pleasant view out to sea and although it is a big site it never feels that way as everything is spread out over a large area.
After a weekend of mixed weather and walks between the showers we leave Norfolk on Monday morning en-route for Lincolnshire and our first stop at RAF Coningsby. There is a large viewing area close to the end of the runway (GPS N 53°05’30.95” W 0°11’08.06”) where, for much of the year, there is an excellent burger van. Sadly, by mid October, Adrian has gone so we will just have to fend for ourselves at lunch times. Despite the showers and cloud there are plenty of movements on the airfield at Typhoons takeoff and land so we are kept entertained for the remains of the afternoon. When the last of the aircraft have returned to base we go on to our base for the next few days at Oaklea Caravan Club CL (GPS N 53°09’02.80 W 0°11’04.51”). We have been coming here since just after they opened as a site, first with caravans and in the last few years in a motorhome. We always get a very warm welcome from Pamela and Piotr and this time was no different. As usual we were parked on the large hard standing looking out across their acres of lawn and arboretum. The whole site is surrounded by woodland and is a real oasis of quiet and calm.
The rest of the week follows the same pattern; get up when we feel like it, breakfast, then the short drive to Coningsby for a days aircraft spotting after which we return to base for a nice supper and bed before we repeat the process. ‘Tis such a hard life!
On Thursday the viewing area started to fill up as lunch time approached. It was a lovely sunny day but there was obviously something special going on as more cars started to arrive. A few days before I had seen a ‘heads up’ that Jamie ‘Noz’ Norris, the RAF Typhoon display pilot, was to carry out a practice display at around 1pm. The locals had heard the same info so when ‘Noz’ taxied out there was quite a crowd gathered to watch.
He took off in the usual way but as he crossed the airfield threshold he stood the aircraft on its tail and just disappeared into the blue yonder. Ten minutes later and precisely at the time he had stated to ATC he reappeared, heading straight towards us at low level to enter his display routine. Wow! What a display. Although we have seen him display during the airshow season we are normally working in the Vulcan Village and rarely get a chance to watch the whole display. This one was a cracker and when he landed and taxied past the viewing area he got an enthusiastic and well deserved round of applause.
On Friday, having had our ears well and truly blasted by the jet noise we needed, we leave Oaklea and retrace our route back to Norfolk and after a stop for supplies and fuel at Kings Lynn we arrive at the Sandringham Caravan Club site (GPS N 52°48’45.08 E 0°29’42.06”). As usual with club sites this one is neat and tidy with mostly hard standings and the hook up bollards also have TV aerial sockets due to poor reception in the area.
Via Facebook I hear that the RAF Marham Heritage Centre is open on Saturday and as we are only a few miles away that seems like a good place to visit. The centre is in the old station church and is filled with displays including a large time line display of the stations history. After a couple of interesting hours we head back to Sandringham and the visitor centre for lunch. An excellent burger with bacon and cheese plus potato wedges is enough to keep us going for the rest of the day. After lunch we walk to the lovely little church which is famously used by the Royal Family at Christmas.
For days the weather forcasters have been talking of a severe storm crossing our part of the country on Monday morning and as this is when we intend to drive home we think that, discretion being the better part of valour, we will leave early and get home on Sunday well before the storm. So, Sunday morning, we watch the Indian GP, where Vettell wins his fourth World Championship, then head home through a very breezy Thetford Forrest.
This trip was 378 miles @ 25.9mpg. So far this year we have spent 82 nights in the motorhome.