The Storks of Böbs

The Storks of Böbs
A Very Fine Pair

England Summer Tour 2013 (6)

Tuesday 20th Aug    
Minehead to Pershore

We had managed to get hold of dear Carol early and she had arranged to get us into the visitors suit at their sheltered  accommodation complex (a very nice watering hole, in a very nice part of the country with very nice people). So heading into town we headed for the evasive Morrison’s of yesterday (it was only about 150mtr from the round-about that we had used the last evening to turn and back track.

We done a raid and of course bought far more than we had envisaged, but used the impending visit of Linda’s Dad as an excuse, well at 93 years of age you can hardly expect him to eat foreign muck can you?  Shopping done we headed for the M5 and Pershore reaching there mid-afternoon, had a cuppa with Carol and Bill, Linda had a pet with Zebadee, their ancient cat and then had a bit of shut eye. We had arranged to go out to the fantastic Thai restaurant that Pershore has on its high street.
We walked past the wonderful Abbey and a window full of passion fruit, until we arrived at:
The passion fruit hanging like large green eggs

The Thai Legend    
If you are ever passing through Pershore (I see no reason why you should, so make a detour), this is a must, they do wonderful food at very reasonable prices, try the buffet menu (s) we both and shared them, very tasty and well worth the price.

The fish starter

And the boys had Tom Yam soup

The wonderful buffet

A nice ly carved water melon at the entrance

The smashing window decoration

We have been to two Thai restaurants this holiday, both of them have become favourites of ours and there really is nothing to choose between them in quality and value.
We wandered back passing the Abbey all lit up and the moon peeking from behind the tower.

We got home and it was time for bed, so bed it was.

Wednesday 21st August

Stratford on Avon

We had decided to visit the Bards birthplace as this was another place that Linda had never visited, it was also many years ago that I had visited it and Carol (almost a local) said much had changed, so after breakfast off we jolly well went, not a lot of traffic and in almost no time (though not in the 12 minutes that Carol is purported to have done it in) we had followed the parking signs across the bridge and into the very large car park with large parking bays (a must for a 6mtr camper).

The spires and willows that line the river banks

The ferry arrives

Messing about on the river

A very fine engine room

Disembarkation of the passengers

It was just a short walk across the meadows to the chain ferry, we jumped aboard (well I jumped, Linda hobbled) and we crossed the river Avon in style, not Regal, but in style. It was a very warm day and the weeping willows that line the bank were a beauty to behold.

The ducks quacking and diving, the Swans majestically gliding and the Canada Geese shitting all over the place (they really are a waste of space and are best roasted). We alighted (well in sorts) and walked past the Swan theatre

and watched a narrow boat emerging from the locks at the only remaining coaling wharf (Brandon).

Opening the lock gates

We then walked into town, it being about time for a spot of lunch and Carol had informed  us that she had discovered this small fish restaurant, that served the world’s best fish and chips (I have eaten in many, many world’s best, so am a bit of a sceptic in these matters).
The entrance to the café is up a back alley

The take-away at the front

Linda patiently waiting for her haddock and chips


The menu

Now that's a nice plaice in a nice place

The Kingfisher is its name and it is quite unimposing, a small down the alleyway (seem to have been down a few alleys on this holidays) chippy, it is not at all pretentious doesn’t even have table clothes, but the fish and chips, are absolutely fantastic, I had plaice and chips (on Carols directions) and Linda had her normal haddock and chips, mushy peas bread and butter and a mug (no cups here)of builders tea. This to my way of thinking is how fish and chips should be served and reminded me of the Friday Fish and Chips at the Low Lights chippy on the Fish quay at North Shield, these we had as apprentices before going to the wooden Dolly (Prince of Wales) to make a nuisance of ourselves.

Juice White fish, with a fine crispy batter

The batter was ever so light and crisp, no stodgy half raw inside bits, the chips fresh cooked, the fish cooked to perfection, I mean just cooked, still moist and glistening inside, that lighter than air batter. I suppose we could have done without the mushy peas but old habits die hard and they are part of the ritual.

There are not a lot of tables in the Kingfisher (and I think that is good) but all seats taken and the one old lady had everything in grip and the fish fryer a master of his craft, nothing in the fish fryer until you ordered and the portions are just too much (a small portion of chips would have done both of us).
Is it the best in the world? I am totally adverse to that silly term, it is used so much on TV and far too often, until I have eaten at all of the Fish and chips shops in the World I shall never be able to answer that question. But, of all of the fish and chips I have eaten so far, it will be in the top ten. So not only does Stratford upon Avon have a bloody good theatre, a mighty fine script writer, poet and thespian (even if he didn’t write them all) but also can lay claim to having a mighty fine Fish and Chip Shoppe.

We next visited Waterstone’s, the bookshop, as Linda wanted to get books for birthday presents or at least that is what she said (Linda we do not need any more books and I have an e-reader). Linda then said you pop off and wander and I will saunter my way back to the river and the ferry, I shall meet you back there. So while Linda sauntered, I meandered around this and that looking at various pieces of architecture and buildings all with a sign wafting in the breeze pronouncing it to be ye oldie building from pre 1600s and had been slept in by all and sundry (I do hope that they have changed the sheets). I think that this is the type of things that our Cousins from across the pond like as having no culture of their own try and hang onto our coat tails in such matters. I believe that they are all part of a Scottish Clan, an Irish Hooligan family or in some way part of our Wills family.

I got my liquorice fix from a Ye Oldie Sweet Shoppe (well I couldn’t go back empty handed could I? sauntered back towards the chain ferry and caught Linda just as she was emerging from the rear of the theatre, I think they have done a very good job on it and must try and take in a piece of classic theatre when next in the area, may be next June time.

Across the ferry and then to the van and off back to Pershore, we parked the van and then walked into town as I wanted some of those famous Pershore plumbs for my Rumtopf. In years past I have used the ones from Linda’s Hof in Kiel but as we are no longer able to scavenge these, I thought then it will have to be Pershore's. The whole town is done out in Purple ready for the coming plum festival (following bank holiday weekend), it is great when a town, goes to town so as to speak, all ver4y impressive. Linda also wanted to write some more post cards (where ever does she find all these friends and she is not even on Facebook). She popped into the post office, I went into No 8 (the arts and culture centre that Carol and Bill are such leading lights in), I ordered the carrot cake and coffee and just a coffee for Linda.

Cards written, coffee drunk and cake eaten of we went first into a shoe shop (she does have a lot of shoes does that lass) and I picked up my plumbs.
Headed back to where we had parked the van, outside of the Sheltered accommodation, in a perfectly legal manner may I add, when almost there I noticed a police car, a bus and a gaggle of people. Carol was part of the gaggle and came towards me to tell me that because of a car parked on the opposite side of the street, the bus did not have enough space to pass and was just about to be rerouted with multiple police escorts. I apologised to the young police officer for any inconvenience that I may have caused, but he said he was sure it was the fault of the car parked on the other side of the street and thanked me for being so understanding and moving my van to the opposite side to allow the bus to continue on its journey. After all of the exertions and excitement it was time to have a lie down, as that evening Carol was cooking for us.

The evening meal, Carols spiced belly pork, rice and stir-fried vegetables and Bills Whisky

I am sure it was not how the script had been written but as it turned out we had a fantastic meal (I wouldn’t have expected anything less from Carol and Bill and I broached the best part of a bottle of whisky. This was before Bill thought that if he was to have any left for the next day it was time for me to leave.
So thanks to the both of you for a very enjoyable 2 days.

Thursday 22nd August

Pershore to Polstead, ferry and home
Next morning it was off across England, it must be the thickest part (I am talking about the distance not the inhabitants, though…) We set off after bacon sandwiches and  then into the rain, I do believe it rained for 90% of the journey, we stopped for lunch (we had also stopped at a Tesco Superstore and re-victualed) so we dined on ham off the bone (though they called it ham on the bone?), roast beef, scotch eggs and pork pie (not a patch on mine). We arrived at the campsite that we had stayed at the first night (a 5 star one in our estimation) the wardens had reserved us a pich right at the entrance so that we could get a straight run out when we left early next morning. We watched a bit of tele (Linda is in love with the Big Bang Theory) and then tootled along to a pub just around the corner passing the blackberry patches

The Brewers Arms is a pub that you now find the length and breadth of Great Britain, they can no longer make a living selling only beer so the main stay of their income is food, some do it well some do it not so well some should be hounded out of the trade. I am pleased to say this was one of the former, because of its proximity to the campsite it is well frequented, though I also noticed what looked like locals (straw in mouth, smock coat and cotton hat pulled over the straw coloured bedraggled hair – Suffs Just joking, honest).

We ordered  from the Carvery, this consisted of roast beef, roast, turkey and gammon accompanied by the works, roast potatoes, boiled minted potatoes, baton carrots, buttered cabbage, steamed cauliflower and broccoli, braised onions, Yorkshire puddings (not frozen and not out of a packet) and loads of gravy.
Now this is in no way high end dining and does not proclaim to be it is just good honest well cooked food, with no frills. There is a time and a place for  Michelin food and we often do go for it, but this our last night in the UK we wanted a good roast and we got it. Mine was two slices of beef, about 5mm thick juicy and tender, the vegetables all well-cooked (I mean well cooked in the sense of not being cooked to a pulp).

My plate was full and I mean full, I was bloated and truly enjoyed every bite.

Linda had the gammon and Turkey and could not finish all of her Turkey and I couldn’t help her, the shame. I washed it all down with a glass of wonderful Suffolk Draught Cider, I had been told about it from some friends of ours and had had it at Carols the night before (she had been told about it by our mutual friends). If you have never tried it you surely should, I never associated Suffolk with Cider, this being as I thought the domain of Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and of course Zommerset! I have now discovered another county to add to those.

It was an early to bed, as we had an early rise.
Friday 23rd August

We got up before the larks, but not before the pigeons and the bleeding cock, got everything ready and headed off, Linda commented how lucky we were that they had opened the gates before the advertised time of 07:00, to which I replied with a wry smile, “THEY didn’t open the gates”!

It was an uneventful trip to Harwich with the exception of going into Colchester (why did I listen to Linda and not my Sat Bitch)! Arrived and boarded got seats in the Stena lounge and settled down to write this blog. We arrived on time and headed for home arriving at 02:00 hrs. this morning, van now unpacked and the washing machine on the go.

 The garden had been well looked after by our neighbours and the flowers in full bloom and the butterflies enjoyed it.

England Summer Tour 2013 (5)

Monday 19th. August

Coverack to Padstow and on to Minehead.

An Early start for us and it was a very nice trip from Coverack to Padstow, we stopped to take a couple of Photos of Carn Brea, the monument to Cornish tin and copper mining which overlooks both Camborne and Redruth, the site has been inhabited since the Neolithic period BC 3700. The moorland tops and granite outcrops abound with the disused lead mine workings, winding houses, crushing machinery and boiler-room chimney stacks near lend a beauty to the surrounding bleak landscape, they remind me of the area where I was born and brought up, but there are now very few reminders of the old coal workings, such a pity as they are also a part of our heritage. I hope that they will save these for future generations to wonder at what their forefathers went through to irk out a miserly living.

We had intended to do Steinsville (Padstow) and stay the night in the a touring site not far from the town centre, but due to the early start and arriving early and well before the maddening crowds. We went to the Park and Ride, paid 4 quid this included the bus fare and it dropped us off right at the harbour, what with Linda’s disability and what we knew would be the crush later was a very wise move. We walked and hobbled the short distance into town, passing Rick Steins Cookery School.

The tide was out but I think that this adds to the beauty and charm of a fishing harbour, the gulls and wading birds picking through the slick in search of a square meal. 

Along the quayside the well stacked crab/lobster pots and loads of youngsters crab fishing. 

Across the Camel estuary could be seen the town of Rock, at times when the river Camel carries enough water a ferry crosses between Padstow and Rock, but unless it was one of those boats that fly around the Everglades, I don't think it would transporting tourists that morning. 

It was a smashing warm day so I got Linda seated at a small café at the harbour, here she was able to write her cards, drink her coffee and take her pain killers without being hampered and pushed.

I was also able to wander the streets of Rick Steins home town (not only his but I suppose the most famous of its residents). I found his patisserie, his deli, his shop and his café, I knew it was useless trying for the seafood restaurant as it is booked out 3 months in advance, but the café is on a first come, first served basis and I thought this would be the best bet for a spot of lunch.

I walked along the harbour wall taking in the wonderful atmosphere (it also happened to be “Lifeboat Day” and there was a smashing shanty choir from Wadebridge just up the Camel river. I had a pot of whelks and a pot of mixed sea food (plenty of pepper and vinegar) from the solitary shellfish stand.

I then returned to Linda’s café, gave her, her belated birthday present (Rick’s Indian book in a Rick Steins bag). I had been to Rick's café to ask if it was possible to book a table for me and my invalided partner, they said it wasn’t normal, but if we could be there within the next 10 minutes they would look favourably on us (it was my Geordie charm I am sure). We arrived and the nice young girl recognised me and said just take a seat in the hallway, there is a table just paying the bill and it was then ours, what wonderful service.

We got the French window seat leading to the patio, ideal as the waitress said put your bags in front and then no-one can come in through it (it is not the entrance or exit to either the restaurant, patio or toilets so disturbed no one .

We got offered plain tap water straight away and then allowed to peruse the lunch time menu at leisure; there is also the blackboard with the day’s specials.

I decided on Moule Frites, not actually on the menu, but by combining the mussels cooked in white wine with shallots and the thin fried chips, it was a very passable mirage of the real thing.

We had started with the bruschetta; this had been spiced up with the addition of   anchovies and I do believe I shall also do this in the future. Linda had the Pad Thai for her main and the portions are adequate for a lunch time, the café has some lovely wall decorations and the staff is very attentive but not overwhelming. We spent a very nice hour and had a leisurely lunch with no hassle, thanks a lot staff of Ricky’s caff (P.S: it was a pity we didn’t go the day before our original plan as Rick was in signing books).

We walked back to the bus stop looking in all of Ricks (well ex-Mrs Steins in reality) projects and enterprises; I think he has just about got every angle covered, funny how a simple thing like fish can make a man a household name.

We decided that as it was still quite early we would put as many miles (KMs) as possible on our journey as we now aimed to head for Pershore and our good friends Carol and Bill, the main reason was to give Linda’s leg a rest without the climbing in and out of high places, but also to return some borrowed equipment. We looked in the Camping and Caravanning Club guide and saw that there was a campsite in Minehead; this would make the dash up the M5 to Pershore the next day a one not too long.

We hit Minehead and as usual missed the turning, when we eventually found it, it was like ”a night on the bare mountain” only this campsite was not on a bare mountain but gave a wonderful view down onto Minehead and the Bristol Channel.

We asked the site warden where we could find a supermarket (we needed to do our Bi-annual UK shop), he informed us that there was a Morrison’s and a Tesco’s just a little past were we had turned when on the outlook for the site, something’s never change and missing turnings are no exception in my case. We spent a very nice evening again on a very nice site with a beautiful view.

A very nice quiet site with a fantastic view down to Minehead bay