Foraging in the Forest of Dean.

And the time finally arrives for Steve to get his 2015 birthday present. Yes it’s a bit late!

Off we go for another week of exploring bits of the UK.

Starting the week with an afternoon cream tea in Amberley Castle in Sussex as promised to Steve along time ago, better late than never! We arrived in the beautiful little typical old English village surprisingly called Amberley.

We find the castle signs and drive into a long sweeping drive that takes you up to the entrance while Deb ponders on how and who would have arrived back in the time it was built and occupied.

Tea was lovely but we have had better although having the setting on a fine summers day sat in the grounds of a castle more than makes up for it.

Next stop is the Forest of Dean just by the border of Wales. We have never been to this part of the UK although we have been close as we got married in a castle in Gloucestershire called Thornbury Castle in 2004, it’s one of the only English Tudor castle hotels you can stay in and yes we have had cream tea there before too… 🍰🍩🏰🍰 but nothing beats cream tea at the Montagu Arms in The New Forest.

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We find ourselves going off the beaten track to stay in a Traditional Gypsy Caravan with an off grid experience, no WiFi, phone signal, electricity and cold water. A queenie stove to heat our water and kettle and a fire pit to cook on. Our luxury was a flushing toilet in a separate block.

Our host Mary greeted us with a basket of provisions including freshly baked brownies, local Severn Cider and Blakeney Red Perry and provided all we needed to be very well fed for breakfast. Just look at our full english breakfast cooked by the fire with all the local produce provided by our host. We had a great time being little gypsies and made ourselves a fluffy friend “Ol’Butt” the pet collie dog 🐕, whos name was local dilect for “old friend” and very persistent stick catcher.

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Next was off to the National Diving and Activities Center just on the edge of the forest. A huge quarry that has been filled with all sorts of things from helicopters to double decker buse, a gnome garden/castle and more! Plenty to keep many a diver happy.

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Although Deb had dived before its not really her thing, bobbing around like a well fed seal! We stayed in a wooden hut overlooking the quarry and the biggest zip wire in the UK.. You just never know what you will see at a place like this, we saw a bride in her full wedding dress and then a couple of bridesmaids zip over??? They just happening to be filming an episode of don’t tell the bride!!

The cafe also had a great view and was really reasonably priced, from here you could watch the guys on the water jet packs, not sure how we would fair if we had a go, especially when neither of us like messing around in the water but great to watch.

Then there was the swing over the quarry, people seemed to like being shot over the edge of the cliff. This place is a great base for exploring the area or having an activities based holiday with a group, everything was clean, view was great and the prices good.

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Plans are now coming along for December, flight out and back booked. Phillipines for Christmas, excited!!!

Off to finish planning our journey to the South of France to help harvest grapes in a vineyard 😊🍷😊

Live Happy
Debs and Steve

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Hobbit Festival Family Fun, Rain didn’t stop play!!

Land, wash, pack and off again.

Time to have the family reunion! Stuff the car full of duvets and linen, a host of food and drinks. Small snacks for the journey and off we go.

Sign post to the pub

It’s been a long time since we’ve all been together and we have all lived different lives around various places. Looking forward to a good get together and time to chat and huddle around a good old campfire with everyone hoping Deb doesn’t try and break out into a song. She must be the only one who’s claim to fame is that she once got beaten by a dog and a drunk man at a singalong game!

Well
● Mum has got plumper. 🤔
● Steve has less hair. 👀
● Sam is still far browner than the rest of us and still has no money. 💳
● Matt still has the biggest bushy beard. 🙄
● Nikki is adjusting to a new life as she says goodbye to teaching in the UK to fly to Myanmar in Asia to teach for the next 2 years. 🛫
● Ollie is missing as new job on the go! 😓

Where did we go?

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Glamping in Davidstow, near the coast of North Cornwall and one of the places where the Great British cheddar cheese is made.

On route we came across the sign, Guinness World record attempt for the most sheep sheared in 9 hrs. So plans changed and off we go in search of the farm. In true English fashion the rain starts and we find ourselves at the farm. Vote for the most inappropriate dressed people in a farm in the rain goes to the Millies, flip flops and summer dress!!!

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The farmers were really friendly and the place was packed, luckily we were rescued by a man with a ladder so we could see, only to later realise that it was being live streamed in the other barn.. So we take our seats in the Barn Bar, with cornish pride real ale and cider on the go and watch the world record get broken. Matt Smith, 32, sheared 731 ewes in nine hours beating the previous record of 721.

The event even made headlines around the world and was live streamed to audiences in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Iceland and Ireland.

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Finally we arrive at Belle Tents Camping and settle in. We have everything we need to have our own private English Hobbit Festival.
● RAIN
● Tents
● Camp Fire
● Undercover BBQ
● Bar tent
● Music
● Hot showers and flushing toilets

And a box of fancy dress items!

We have a great time in the rain, intermittent sun and more rain. Building fires and toasting marshmallows and having a boogie to Sam’s music selection, didn’t know we liked Bossa Nova? Chat to our hosts Laura and Dave and their current workaway volunteers from Spain and hear tales of their travels and lives.

Steve, Matt and Deb have a go at log chopping and fire making (no elf and safety here) while Sam and Nikki have a catch up on Sams travels to Bali, Australia, New Zealand and Nikki chats about her new job in Myanmar.

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During the days we drive to little villages on the coast stopping off to wander around eating chips and hide in cafes out of the rain and fighting off seagulls. Plus side of this was Nikki being a coeliac managed to fill up on gluten free Cornwall scones and cornish pasties.

During the nights we have a Christmas day, Easter and birthdays to make up for all those we have missed as we are never together at the right time of the year. If you ever need a gluten free birthday cake in the UK, we can thoroughly recommend the one in Sainsburys, lovely and bouncy and not all crumbly. Yes, Deb really has been saving, chocolate bunnies and penguins and bought christmas socks, crackers, tinsel and mulled wine!

A great time was had by us all, everyone is wanting to make this an annual event so time to put the thinking cap on to make it bigger and better next time!

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Back home and Steve’s finally decided it’s time to shave off the festival beard as its afternoon cream tea at a castle tomorrow, let’s hope the dentist can repair Debs broken tooth in the morning too! Then off to the Forest of Dean for more glamping…. Really must start some travel planning for December.

Live Happy
The Millies

 

Treehouses and Viking Ships

Time to move on again to the Treehouse Hotel. Was it going to be as good as it looked on the TV, magazines and web sites?
After a slow drive in search of a big moose that we never found. There are only 400,000 moose in Sweden for us to find, should be easy they said? All we managed was a couple of juveniles and a bottle or two of beer!

We finally find ourselves at the Treehouse Hotel and walk into reception which turns out to be the cutest 1950s retro house filled with objects from a bygone era.

We check in and wander through a field of wildflowers into the woods and over to our home for the 1st night… Our super duper space ship! Much to Steve’s delight, the button is pressed, the lights come on and slowly down comes the ladder just like a sci-fi movie. Click here to view.

UFO’s have changed since Deb used to watch them as a kid, they now come with nespresso machines, comfy beds, mini bar and the most modern of campervan toilets.. The Cinderella! Incinerating all that comes near it, not sure how it works but it works very well!!

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Like a kid in a candy shop, Deb blows up the alien she remembered to pack, unlike the time in Area 51 when she completely forgot to take it after having made the effort to go buy one to take, then drives 3 hrs to realise she had left it in her suitcase in Vegas! She’s one crazy lady… Poor kids and hubby..
Then it’s time for dinner, back through the woods and then into mosquito land… Very handy, we left the mosquito repellent in the car! They seem to find Deb super tasty.. So off she went into the meadow doing the windmill action with her arms until she got to the restaurant..Well at least she gets a free shot or two of Swedish botox in the face, an eyelid and a couple of less wrinkles on her face until the bites go down.

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Dinner is a lovely home cooked meal of cheese pie, arctic char, brown bear and a raspberry tart all prepared by our host Britta, whilst there we meet Amy from New York who’s escaping the bustle of the New York life, shutting down the phone and Facebook to come get away from it all as Sweden is just the place to come chill!

1.Sami Flag

Day two at the tree house hotel and off we go! Time to go get lost again or should we say explore and we do! Finally after a 1hr journey turning in to 2hrs and a few reindeer traffic jams later, we reach Storforsen, a stretch of rapids over 5 km and one of the biggest in Europe. A beautiful place with a huge amount of water tumbling down from the Arctic circle, (average flow of 250 m3 per second) As it spills over the edges and runs into separate pools it creates a lovely picnic area for the locals. People are having barbecues and swimming in the pools amongst nature at its best and the sunshine.

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Next day we are off to the airport to fly down to Stockholm for a couple of days. Amy turns out to be on the same flight, so we share a supersaver ticket for 3 on the  Arlanda express straight in to the city.

2. Viking Ship Vasa Museum

Next morning we get up and go to visit the Vasa museum before the queues, Deb has wanted to do this since before she met Steve, so a big tick on the bucket list of life! Did we beat the queues, no not quite, is it worth it, Yes!

You really cannot believe that hundreds of years ago these guys built such a beast of a boat. What we did find out was just how small the vikings were, average of 5ft 5 inches. Yes Steve could have been a viking! So how did the Swedish men end up so tall?

So what have we learnt.

  • Midnight Sun
    Something you really need to see.
  • True Silence
    Something you need to experience.
  • Stockholm is pricey!
    Everything is so expensive, wine and beer are about double what you pay in London. You need to find yourselves the Systembolaget. These shops are government run and you can buy a host of wines and loads of Swedish beers at prices more like you would expect.
  • Must see in Stockholm.
    Vasa museum.
  • People.
    No one rushes over here, they have a nice pace and politely queue.
    To Steve and Debs disappointment Sweden was not full of perfect beautifully blonde people, we had a vision that it was a land full of them but it was just a country full of lots of normal people, give or take some seriously long legs.
  • Natural and Organic.
    It was so nice to see so much good quality produce, people living as they should, caring about the world around them and using eco friendly body washes etc.. Really wondered when in the wine shop (Systembolaget) how come they have loads of organic beers and wines at similar prices to what we pay in the UK for the same brand of non organic??? About 50% of there store was organically grown.
  • Satellite Navigation.
    As many roads are gravel tracks don’t expect satellite navigation to necessarily find your local villages. Download an offline map from Google!

Live Happy

Steve and Debs

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