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Last year while in France we had problems with the Freelander. This was put down to the amount of bio-ethanol the French mix into their fuel and there are now lots of postings on various forums about this. Not only Landrover but BMW and other manufacturers have been affected as well. After returning to the UK and after the first tank full of fuel bought here, the injector rattle all but disappeared. However it was still there and over the next 4000 miles in the UK it got increasingly worse. I’d gone through the process of using injector cleaner without any improvement. I’d also checked the injector wiring harness (there is an issue with contamination on some vehicles) and a few other things so it was time to bite the bullet and book the Freelander in to our local Land Rover dealer for a full checkup. So two weeks ago it was booked into Guy Salmon Land Rover in Stockport.

Guy Samon Land Rover, Stockport

Guy Salmon Land Rover, Stockport

The technician that was going to work on the Freelander came out for a quick spin round with me and after a mile or so, he was sure it was an injector issue, however he said plugging it in to the computer diagnostic unit and seeing what the readings were for various sensors while the engine was running would confirm this. While it was in the workshop they gave us a shiny new Freelander 2 for a few days. A couple of hours after dropping the Freelander off, I got a phone call from Service Reception. Two injectors – No. 1 and No. 3 were faulty and the fuel pump also had a low pressure output. The work needed doing, so there was little point in procrastinating about it. Two days later it was ready for us to collect. What a difference. It was like new again. The guys at Guy Salmon did an excellent job and because we were part of a loyalty program we got quite a reasonable discount off the final invoice. I know a lot of people have issues with main dealers and costs, but at the end of the day sticking with the main dealer for us is worth it. At least we knew the Freelander was in good health for the trip down to Glastonbury. Hopefully the next visit for the Freelander will be the service and MOT next year, however I’ll probably see them in December as Guy Salmon generously support the Rotary Club of Hazel Grove with the free use of a suitable 4 x 4 vehicle for towing Santa’s Sleigh for the Christmas collections.

Off to Glastonbury…

It was our 30th wedding anniversary on the 10th and as we had both enjoyed our stay at The Old Oaks a few weeks earlier and hadn’t managed to visit half the places we wanted to, we decided to go back for another visit. So on Sunday 8th we set off at around 10:00 heading south again. The trip down was fairly quiet with no delays. Birmingham was quiet and we sailed through. By 13:00 we had pulled into Michel Woods services for a coffee, ‘sammich’ and a leg stretch, as had a lot of other caravans and motorhomes, so it was quite busy. 25 minutes later we were back on our merry way and by 2:45 we were pulling into The Old Oaks. The trip down was exactly 215 miles and had taken 4 hours 40 minutes including our break. Thanks to the guys at Guy Salmon, the Freelander ran perfectly and on checking the fuel consumption (brim to brim) we averaged 31.2 MPG towing down at a steady 55 MPH. Not bad pulling a 1490 Kg MTPLM caravan.

SPB_5D_097597We were checked in by the friendly staff and this time we would be pitched in The Top Oaks. As we arrived just behind another caravan who was going to be pitched next to us, we were shown in convoy to our pitch. The set up is by now a well rehearsed routine and it wasn’t long before we were plugged in and plumbed in with the Fiamma awning deployed.

Monday 9th September

One Hairy Caravanner at the Braai

One Hairy Caravanner at the Braai

The weather was warm and sunny and we decided to go into Glastonbury for a look round as it was probably going to be a bit quieter than the last time we were here during Glastonbury Festival. We found a car park just off the High Street and wandered down doing a bit of window shopping. As we passed the Church of St John The Baptist there was a chap sat outside having a go at playing a didgeridoo, which for Glastonbury somehow did not seem out of place. We stopped at Heaphy’s Cafe and sat outside for a coffee and a spot of brunch. The ham, cheese and cranberry panini and the ham, brie and cider apple chutney baguette were rather fine. While we were in Glastonbury we called in the local butchers and picked up two large pork steaks for tea and some crusty bread from “Burn’s the Bread”

While we were out, we took a run down to The Apple Tree Inn to book a table for the following evening. I’d asked via twitter for any recommendations for a nice restaurant in the area for our anniversary. Tara at The Old Oaks replied in an instant and recommended The Apple Tree Inn at West Pennard, about three miles from The Old Oaks. When we arrived it was closed, so we would have to telephone to make a reservation.

That evening “One Hairy Caravanner” spurred on by other caravanners and tenters BBQ’ing put on his apron of disguise and fired up the Cadac to the blast furnace setting (a moderate heat compared to his normal ‘surface of the sun setting’) and cooked the pork steaks accompanied with garlic & spiced potato slices… and of course a green leaf salad for Sue!SPB_IMG_0169

Tuesday 10th September – our 30th anniversary

Image (c) Fleet Air Arm Museum

Image (c) Fleet Air Arm Museum

The Fleet Air Arm Museum had been on the list of places to visit last time we were here (so had the West Somerset Railway and the East Somerset Railway amongst others but we never got round to it), so in the morning we fired up the Sat-Nav, put in the shortest route and set off. The route took us down the back country lanes and through some pretty villages. The museum is only about 30 minutes away and we arrived just after opening time. As the school year had now started the museum was fairly quiet. The car parking is free and the admission price was a reasonable £13.50 each and included the ‘carrier experience’ which was worth the admission price on its own!. There are four main halls with plenty of exhibits that chart the history of Navel aviation both rotary and fixed wing. One of the highlights is the ‘carrier experience’ which we thought was really well done. The other highlight for me was a walk through the first British built Concorde.

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SPB_IMG_0179After we had finished wandering round, we went into the cafe for a quick ‘cuppa’ but resisted the temptation to have a snack as we would be heading off to The Apple Tree later. The Fleet Air Arm Museum is well worth a visit and allow at least three hours so you can get to see everything and don’t miss out on the “Carrier Experience”.

We retraced our route back to the camp site and sat out for a while talking to some of the other site campers. The Apple Tree Inn is only a short distance away and we arrived early for our 7:30 reservation. The Apple Tree Inn was formally called the Railway Inn but when the railways disappeared from West Pennard in the early 60’s it was renamed. It’s a traditional inn with stone flagged floors and smoke blackened fireplaces. It was taken over a couple of years ago by locally renowned chef Lee Evens and his wife Ally who have been extensively renovating the inn in keeping with its history. The menu was not huge, but there was a good selection of local and regional faire on offer. Sue opted for ‘Chew valley smoked salmon, sweet pickled cucumber and beetroot’ followed by ‘Harissa marinated chicken breast with lime mayonnaise’, while I went for the ‘Breaded confit lamb breast, elderberry, baby leaves’ followed by ‘Slow roast pork belly, parsnip puree, black pudding, apple sauce’. As we both like cheese afterwards we shared ‘A selection of 4 artisan cheeses, crackers, grapes and chutney’

The food was simple and expertly cooked and seasoned. Sue was delighted that the salad was dressed and not simply a collection of leaves presented on the side of her plate. For me, the slow roast pork belly rates as one of the best I have ever had. All the dishes were well presented and the service good. Including a nice bottle of wine, the whole evening came to a total of £58.40 which for a similar standard meal in Manchester we would be expecting to pay a lot more than this. So a top Caravan Chronicle five jockey wheel rating!

Wednesday 11th September

Wednesday was a relaxing day (mind you at The Old Oaks every day is a relaxing day!). The weather had started to turn a bit and the day was spent doing a few chores, catching up on some caravan magazine reading and answering a few emails. Also having a walk round the site, exploring some of the corners we missed last time. Mid afternoon arrived and as usual there were a couple of fine cakes on offer in the reception… so it just had to be done. Two slices were purchased for afternoon tea.

A few photos from our wanderings around the site….

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Above: The butterfly walk

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Above: Looking into the Lower Oaks

Below: Reception…

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Above: Don’t worry, you don’t have to get your caravan up here, its the path leading out towards the Tor.

Thursday 12th September

Thursday’s forecast was to be for showers in the afternoon, so we opted to go back into Glastonbury for lunch and to pick up some supplies. We had lunch at The George & Pilgrims Hotel on the High Street which was good value and rather good for a pub lunch. As the pork we purchased a few days earlier from the butcher on the corner of High Street and Northload Street had been so good, we called in again to pick up some more meat and stopped off at the bakers to collect some  fresh bread for ‘sammiches’ for the trip home on Friday. The rest of the afternoon was spent tidying the caravan and watching the skies darken with rain clouds…

Looking east as the clouds came in from the west

Looking east as the clouds came in from the west

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Eventually the rainbow appeared.

Eventually the rainbow appeared.

Friday 13th September

Friday had arrived all too fast. Once again the relaxing effect of the The Old Oaks had beaten us and we had only done a few things that we wanted to do. There were still two steam railways to visit, Cheddar Gorge and a whole host of other places. There was some light drizzle as we packed up, but by 10:25 as we were leaving the sun was appearing and it was warm and humid. We followed the road back towards the M5 eventually joining it and turning north. As we approached Bristol, the rain had set in but crossing the M4 there were bright skies ahead again. We had a delay passing through Birmingham but once on the M6 the traffic flowed freely until the Sat-Nav started warning of delays ahead. Initially it was 9 minutes but as each miles passed it got longer and longer. As it passed the 38 minute delay point, the next time it offered us an alternative Sue hit the ‘accept’ button and at junction 16 we left the M6 and followed the A500 eventually picking up the A34 north through Congleton and towards Stockport. The return milage was 214 miles, exactly one mile less than the trip down. It took 4 hours 52 minutes, but this time we didn’t have a stop anywhere.

The only thing we have to do now is plan our next trip down there so we can try to finish a bit more of our list of things to see and do, but before that we are off to Blackpool for a few days to cycle the Illuminations and then down to Cheltenham for a few days for the Christmas Markets.

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Epilogue…. when we arrived home we discovered our fridge freezer was humming its last hum but we managed to rescue most of the freezer contents which are now being looked after by our neighbours and friends Steve and Sue until the replacement arrives. Thanks guys. By the way, what was the date again?