Allie's Taking Us to the Zoo...


Allie's Taking Us to the Zoo...


Absinthe's first outing of 2017 was a trip to Danbury, in Yate, for her Minor Service and to have a new aerial fitted. We didn't have Boris with us, so we opted to stay two nights at the Cross Hands Inn at Old Sodbury  - we'd booked Danbury's courtesy car, so the plan was to have a day exploring whilst Absinthe was being looked after in the workshop.

The journey down on Wednesday afternoon wasn't the worst we'd had on the M6 although, inevitably, there were delays in the roadworks, but it was a lovely sunny day, so we stopped at Gloucester Services for a late lunch.


We arrived at Old Sodbury around 4pm and checked into the room, which was a lot smaller than we'd expected, I could almost reach both walls with my head and feet when I was laid on the bed. Apparently, the Queen once took shelter at the Inn during a blizzard - she'd have been at home in our room as it was just like a postage stamp.

A room with a view...

We were at Danbury for 8.45 on Thursday and, after a chat with Sally and Jason, we took their courtesy car towards to Bristol. After the bright sunshine of Wednesday, the day was grey and cold, but dry, so we headed to Clifton Village to browse the coffee bars and shops for a few hours.

I spotted this sign for sale in a second hand shop and wondered who they must have rejected as a celebrity endorsement before they chose Max Mosley's dad. Presumably they made brown (shirt) bread.

We've been to Clifton twice and both times we've been able to buy some Pastel de Nata, the traditional Portugese custard tarts. Maybe there's a strong Portugese immigrant area locally.

It's a nightmare to park in Clifton and, when we'd been touring around looking for a space, we spotted the sign to Bristol Zoo. I'd last been when I was about 10, when my Dad had been working in the area, and it seemed like a good place to spend a few hours in the afternoon.

In my head, I had remembered it as a massive zoo, but I guess that when you're 10, most things are bigger then reality. Zoos have changed, of course. They have very few large animals (I'm sure there was a polar bear when I last visited), although the gorillas are still there. I've got to say I felt sorry for them, sitting inside looking thoroughly bored. They seem too much like us to be caged up.

We enjoyed the trip nonetheless, although there was refurbishment work going on, so not all the animals and exhibits were available. 

We finished our trip with a late lunch at Zerodegrees - a converted Tram Shed now occupied as a microbrewery and restaurant - very nice it was too, we'll definitely be back. 

Two halves of Black Lager
We were back at Yate by 4.15 to pick up Absinthe. They've got loads of vans in stock at the moment and Jason said they were very short of room.

This was our first service since Matt, their star technician, had left to pursue other opportunities, but we were well looked after and Andy came to talk to us about the petrol heater, which we'd asked them to have a look at. He'd found and recommended a local specialist about 5 minutes from our house, so we're taking her there tomorrow. Hopefully they'll have it up and running before Eskdale Dubfest at the end of March.

It's a tradition now that we take a supply of biscuits with us whenever the van is serviced, both for the garage staff and the office ones too. In return, there's always a little something waiting for us when we collect her and this time it was these:

I'm assuming I'm the one on the left...
We had another night at the Cross Hands Inn, squeezing ourselves back into the room, before setting off home after breakfast, hoping to beat the rain which was forecast. The run North wasn't too bad and we were home by 2pm, just as the heavy rain arrived.

The season's up and running again and we can't wait to get out again. Next stop Eskdale...

Things we've learned:

October to March is too long to wait for a Blog
Any chance of us falling out of love with Absinthe in the winter is banished when Spring arrives
Bristol is a great City
We don't need to visit another zoo for quite a while (unless it's with grandchildren)
It's a long way to Yate for a service, but it's worth it 
If there's an option to choose a Superior room, it's best to take it

There's a full set of photos here: FLICKR

Lodging at Masons

Lodging at Masons

For the 4th year we'd booked into Masons Campsite at Appletreewick for the Craven Arms Beer Festival, an annual battle of the beers between Yorkshire brews and (this year) breweries from Northumberland*.

We arrived on Thursday, to a wet and waterlogged site, so much so, that we were all given mats to park the rear wheels on, to avoid us getting stuck. Before we got to the site, though, we stopped at the Red Lion in Burnsall for lunch and a quick beer.

There were three of us on site on Thursday night and we walked up the Craven Arms for a drink before bed.

The day dawned brighter on Friday so, after breakfast, we set off to walk to Bolton Abbey, following the Dales Way beside the river Wharfe. It turned out to be a lovely autumn day, although the distance was a bit more than some had anticipated.

Fortunately we met up with another member of the group as we walked near The Strid and Simon agreed to give Ian, Margaret and Zoe a lift back to the site, whilst the rest of walked back on the opposite side of the river through the woodland.

By the time we got back to Appletreewick, several other vans had arrived.

Friday night meant a trip to the Beer Festival at the Craven Arms. We all managed to squeeze into one of the small rooms, but there was a lovely open fire burning, which meant the room was the temperature of the sun - cue: several trips outside to cool off.

Saturday was the day for all of us to walk to Grassington (the other way on the Dales Way), via Burnsall. The weather wasn't as spectacular as it has been in other years but it was still great to out and about in one of my favourite places.


We booked the other pub in the village for an evening meal and they looked after us fantastically well. The food and service at the New Inn was brilliant and I did wonder why we'd never done it before. Maybe next time...

Food eaten and beer drunk, we headed back to the site for the usual Saturday night fire pit. I love sitting round the fire chatting and drinking and once again Ian played his guitar and sang a few songs - a perfect Saturday night, which a few of us rounded off with toasted crumpets - bliss...

As an added adventure, this year, Angela had booked us into Billy Bob's near Skipton, so once we were all packed, we set off in convoy to drive the 15 miles there. The weather had taken a turn for the worse with low cloud and rain (which cleared later in the day), so there wasn't much of an opportunity for a photo shoot with the vans.

We've passed the sign for Billy Bob's scores of times but never actually been. It's a great place for adults and kids alike - we'll definitely be back.

Another great weekend in God's Own County with great friends and spectacular scenery. What more could we want as the season slowly ends?

*the beer competiton was won, yet again, by Yorkshire - funny that isn't it? 

Many thanks to everyone who's photos I've liberated for this blog - you know who you are and I'm very grateful.


Things We Learned:

An 11 mile walk, followed by 8 miles the next day, is probably too much for Boris (and Alison's knees)
Some places really do care about service and pleasing their customers
Some weird people think it's ok to share food in restaurant - very odd...
Those pork pies in Grassington get better every time
It's possible to do gymnastics in a dressing gown (although I suspect a drink helps)
One bag of logs from the campsite can last a long time ;-)

There's a full set of photos here: FLICKR

Finally, Simon's brilliant photographic Blog is here: The Adventures of Skooby Blue