It’s me again, time another for another dose of inarticulate prose from West Wiltshire, where, guess what – it’s been raining. Poor old Patsy 2 took another battering from the wind and rain last night. It has eased considerably now though and should be dry later. We shall see.
Right, so where are we exactly. Well just a few miles west of Devizes on a Camping & Caravan Club Site. In fact this is the first C & CC site we’ve been on for over a year. Not for any other reason than when we’ve planned trips they either don’t have a site nearby, or it’s been out of season and they haven’t been open.
In fact we hadn’t even planned to be here now either. We had booked a private site near Stonehenge but advice from fellow caravanners who’d stayed there just a week prior suggested that If the weather didn’t improve we should give it a miss as the rain was playing havoc. We decided to cancel but the site owner was very understanding and said we could use our deposit against a future booking. Very fair I though and much appreciated.
So, on the recommendation of friends who stayed here for new year we booked this one. Finding it was easy – just off the A361 with a pub conveniently placed at the turning point. No trundling warily down a long narrow winding lane either. We pulled up, a little earlier than the sacred Midday arrival threshold and were welcomed warmly. Markedly different from when we pulled up at our local site on Thursday to load Patsy 2 up prior to travelling west on Saturday. I got the usual lecture about arrival times being there for a reason, congestion caused, it happened last week, etc, etc. All valid points and the road is quite narrow and long to the site but you can see if anything is coming and there are passing places for those reasonably competent behind the wheel. Which should be everyone with a licence, but sadly isn’t.
Anyway, whinging over. With formalities completed the warden, sorry, Holiday Site Manager – we’re not with the Caravan Club now – guided me expertly as I reversed Patsy 2 gingerly. His instructions were clear and precise and Patsy 2 soon came to rest perfectly on our chosen pitch. I was very grateful for his helped and learned a bit about reversing with a caravan in the process. The club’s tagline is ‘The Friendly Club’ and it’s very appropriate here.
Setting up was straight forward and the same as with old Patsy – legs down, mains on, water fetched and loo rinse tank filled. We decided not to put up an awning – even though that side of the van was shielded from the worst of the wind, we still didn’t want to risk damaging it. And I guess neither of us really felt like doing it either.
It wasn’t long before the rain came so we did very little in the afternoon – but the clouds broke sufficiently to have a wander around the site with a camera. There are ninety or so pitches, many hard standing but some were out of use thanks to the weather along with the grassed tent area behind the facilities block. Five feet high beech hedges separate area’s of the site in to smaller paddocks. The Kennet & Avon Canal runs along side the site and you can walk along the towpath.
The onsite shops stocks one or two of the basics – I procured the last pack of biscuits, and calor gas is available. The facilities block is tidy and kept clean. More than enough cubicles with wash basins and and plenty of toilets, though some were closed off. There were four shower cubicles but only two were available for use which lead to a bit of a queue Sunday morning. There were about 30 units on site at the weekend but barely a dozen remain now.
The shower’s themselves are lovely – the water is hot and plentiful – push button, which are never my favourite although I understand why sites fit them. Accessory shops will sell you a device that clamps over the button to keep the water flowing for a tenner or so. Anyone with an awning peg and elastic tensioning ladder will be able to achieve the same result for a lot less.
Club Wi-Fi is available – which is just as well because mobile signals aren’t great – at least not on the network's we patronise. A tenner for a week with a 3.5gb limit – though that’s only for one device. There’s ways around it though thanks a free piece of software called Virtual Router.
With very little in the way of provisions and meal time approaching, the only sensible option was to sample the delights of the local hostelry barely two minutes walk away. The Three Magpies is a Wadworths house – as are many around here it seems, which is hardly surprising given that we passed the brewery on the way through Devizes. They offer the usual range of pub food and what we had was extremely tasty – chicken & ham pie for me and bangers and mash for Trev. I would have liked a larger portion (wouldn’t we all dear?) but that’s just me being greedy. I filled the small remaining space in my belly with a delicious desert – cheesecake and ice cream. Oh yum.
I’ve had one or two of Wadworth’s beers on the odd occasion but the opportunity to sample, sorry, research more of the range was too good to resist. Our site manager was in there too and we had a good chinwag whilst this research was carried out. The ‘one for the road’ turned in to two or three and we emerged, eventually, a little unsteadily and made our way back to the comforting warmth of Patsy 2.
Sunday, was, by necessity a relaxing day, apart from knocking out the first blog and paying a brief visit to Devizes to procure some provisions that is. We also got the chance to put on Patsy 2’s new stickers as well. Later on, I read and Trev snoozed, though we did emerge in the evening for a much briefer return visit to the pub.