Author / Karen

Caravan Blog September 2020 Visits

Day 13,blog, sea swim!

Day 13 started with a quick radio interview with BBC Radio Sheffield. All Bake Off chatter as the new series starts tonight. It is much heralded due to the filming conditions around a Covid bubble. Well done to Love Productions for pulling it off.

After that we needed to get some groceries. There is a big Asda close to the campsite here at Brighton or a Lidl, plus lots of small shops. On the way back into the site we spotted something new, hire bikes! Then lo and behold an Air Ambulance landed at the side of us. Very exciting for a Tuesday morning.

Park at entrance to the site
Morning practice

We had made plans to go to the beach today as it was forecast to be the last warm day of the current good spell. It is also the Autumn equinox so it seemed a symbolic day to have a dip in the briny. Our daughter suggested a quiet beach close to the campsite at Ovingdean. It was perfect as we had our little granddaughter Silke and baby grandson Nicu with us. We timed it so that we got there when it was low tide and we could have a poke about in the rockpools.

Then we found a patch of sand on the otherwise pebble beach. It was time for a bit of sandcastle building. Silke was determined to go it alone.

We had a snack from the very good small cafe and a cold drink and we waited for the tide to come in a bit so we could have a dip. The weather changed very suddenly and became over cast and cool. Autumn arrived, just like that. We stripped off and in we went. I must admit I took quite a bit of cajoling but once in it was perfect. There is something called grounding apparently which is best done in a body of water, good for the soul and all of that. I must admit it was very exhilarating, I loved it.


After we came out of the sea it was time to head back to the caravan and have a good hot shower in the facilities block and freshen up. The facilities here on the Caravan and Motorhome Club site are spotless, warm and even have piped radio playing! We had a cuppa and then headed into town on the bus. Remember it is Bake Off tonight and we were going to watch it at our daughters flat. We ordered in a takeaway, a very rare treat and settled down to enjoy. Silke went off to bed but baby Nicu stayed up a while, he is the most smiley baby ever.

Arriving to watch Bake Off

We all thought the first episode was very good. The bakers were very relaxed and they did look to be having the best time. It is a very unique experience and the show is very special, iconic really. After we had dissected the show and had a couple of drinks we headed back home (caravan) ready for day 14, which will be Johns birthday, so more high jinx to come!

Caravan Blog September 2020 GBBO

Day 12, on we blog!

Hook up and away

As you can see from the photo we are on the road again. Sun is so bright you can see Johns shadow there. A cracking morning weather wise and a smooth pack up and hitch up. We are heading 50 miles or so along the coast, we are Brighton bound! The journey did take about one and a half hours but we didn’t get stuck in traffic and it was all straight forward. We have been to the Brighton Caravan and Motorhome Club site lots as our oldest daughter lives in Brighton and we visit often.

We arrived and were checked in without fuss. The covid guidelines were talked through and off we went to find our pitch. Hit the jackpot and found a large grass pitch and quickly it was legs down and look in (bingo parlance)


We were very keen to get into town and say hello to the family. We had a bit of lunch and then set off the ten minute walk over the next door park to get to the bus stop. parking is a bit of a problem in Brighton centre so we always hop on the bus. The buses run every ten minutes or so and John has a bus pass so its relatively cheap. We quite often walk it, it takes about an hour at a steady pace along the sea front. We passed the amazing Brighton Pavilion so I took a pic through the window, look!

Pic from the moving bus

We spent about an hour having a quick catch up with the kids and then retraced our steps to the bus stop back. We called at the shop for a pint of milk and in quick sticks we were back on site.

We had a few sausages and a couple of lamb chops and as the weather was fab we got out the Cadac. We have a Safari Chef 2 and it is perfect for us. In no time at all our tea was on the table and we settled down for another great evening in the caravan.

Sausages of course!

We have lots to fit in this week including a dip in the sea tomorrow as the forecast is set to change so I need to get that experience under my belt , Brrrr! watch out for tomorrows blog. I also need to be up early for an interview on BBC Radio Sheffield in the morning to chat about Bake Off!

BBQ tea with garlic, brandied mushrooms.

So thanks for following the blog so far, bit of fun to come the rest of the week. Dont forget to tune in to watch the first episode of GBBO tonight!!

Caravan Blog September 2020 Uncategorized

Blog, 11th day, chilling!

This trip we have been out somewhere everyday, unless it is a travel day. Today is our last day on this site at Rookesbury Park near Portsmouth. It is a Caravan and Motorhome Club site and is FabUlous. What makes it merit this description? Well its rural but close to everything you need, it is pretty, it is open and plenty of space. The facilities are so clean. modern and Covid secure. The natives are friendly and the wardens are top notch.

Now if you are reading this and are not of the camping mindset you might think this bit of blog is not worth reading, however I try to add a bit of something to hold your attention so lets hope for the best.

a quiet 5 minutes

I spent the morning writing blogs and articles that were due in. Our caravan makes a great portable office, some people have one in their drive as an office!! After I got that admin done we had a stroll around the site to take some photos and then a bit of a sit down!

Outside Reception

The sites are looked after by wardens. That sounds a bit officious and Dads Army ish but fear not, all the wardens we have ever encountered are great folk who do this job because they love the lifestyle. On reception today we were welcomed by Paul and Libby who are in charge here, with another pair of couples to support them and share out the duties with.

Paul and Libby

Everything onsite is clean, well very very clean and well organised. The sanitary blocks are spotless and beautifully equipped. In the shop on this site there was a great supply of groceries. In addition to this a fish and chip van (see day 9, we sampled) and a burger van visit each week.

The site has a designated area for customers heading to the ferries. It means you can get offsite at the crack of dawn should you need to. This site is very well appointed and organised, but not in a structured way, nothing seems formal, it is all brill!


So there we go, I have taken a walk around the site and taken those few pics. Next thing it is dinner time once again. When we are due to move sites I try to run down the contents of my fridge and food cupboards. I wanted to stay on site all day for a change so was determined to make something from siege stores. I found a roll of puff pastry, a pack of lardons, a few sausages, an onion, mushrooms, 1 leek, a few shavings of parmesan. This was fridge stuff. In the cupboard I had Dijon mustard, smoked paprika, garlic powder, ketchup and salt and pepper. I also found a tin of potatoes and mushy peas! This is what I made.

A savoury plait! I just cooked up all the ingredients, oh I took the skins off the sausages and squeezed out the sausage meat first! Bubbled down in a frying pan then importantly cool it before wrapping it in the puff pastry. Brush with beaten egg and bake! the tinned potatoes were sliced and sautéed and it was gorgeous. Some left over for breakfast too.

Dinner is served

So that’s a wrap for Hampshire. It has been fantastic. Hitch up and away tomorrow…….

Caravan Blog September 2020 Uncategorized

10th Day Caravan Blog Off!

Yesterday was intense we went out for a full day. Today has been a bit more low key. That is fine by me, a different day and different pace. We have a friend Janise who lives quite close to this area, we are still in Hampshire! We met her years ago when we were out in France and we try to visit each other when we can. It is very easy to let friendships drift, especially where there is distance involved. Anyway we agreed a day and we drove over to where she lives with her husband Chris and a new puppy Star.

Jan and I

Look we even were wearing the same colour outfits! The new puppy is a year old so not so new but we had not met her before. She is a Rottweiler. Now these dogs sometimes get a bad press but Janise had a pair of dogs (a brother and sister) until recently and they were as placid as can be. Star of course being a puppy was full of beans and quite big already. We made friends and she settled down quite quickly and we relaxed and had a catch up.

We had a walk into Eastleigh and had a bite to eat in a lovely cafe called Kats. We had a massive breakfast each, it kept me going all day. We hurried back to the house as I wanted to catch a special something on YouTube going live at 1.00pm. What is was was a white wedding! Someone we know was getting married and because of the Covid restrictions had had to downsize the guest list. They had given out a link to enable the service to be viewed at home. That’s fantastic eh? What a Godsend! Janise soon sussed out the technology and cast the YouTube from her phone to the large TV screen. You have to be careful doing that though, last week I cast something to the wrong TV and it started playing over the road in an elderly couple’s sitting room! The service was so beautiful and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We both felt we should have worn a hat or a fascinator to join in properly.

We had to rush back to the campsite straight after the wedding as I had yet another online date, this time with Howard Middleton, the charismatic baker from Great British Bake Off a few years ago. We were doing a cook a long live, I was host and Howard was leading the event. We made the most gorgeous apple toffee puddings with a caramel sauce. We handed a few around to our caravan neighbours as we had too many to eat ourselves. This Wednesday coming I am leading and we are doing Beef Strogonoff. I will be cooking it live from my caravan at 7.00pm. My husband John’s birthday meal! Here is the link should you wish to join in or just view:

Well I think that about wraps up day 10, another week to go, tomorrow we are having a day onsite. Need to do a little housekeeping and some admin. Catch you then!

Caravan Blog September 2020 Visits

Caravan Blog, Day 9.

One of the reasons I decided to blog this trip was to ensure we got out and about and saw local attractions. It is very easy on this type of holiday to get into the groove of staying around the site and putting off venturing out. You get into the relaxing vibe, which is great sometimes but does mean you can miss out on things. So here we are on day 9 and we are heading to the Historic Dockyard at Portsmouth. I last visited in the 1960s when I was a youngster, we have photographs posing by HMS Victory but of course back then the Tudor warship Mary Rose was still resting at the bottom of the Solent. So hold on to your hats off we go!

Hello Sailor!

Wow, when I spied this massive sculpture it reminded me of The Kiss by Rodin. Very passionate. Can you imagine all those sailors docking into the harbour after a stint away and their loved ones waiting to welcome them home? Its not the first thing you see when you get into the Historic Dockyard though. the first thing is HMS Victory, in all its pot bellied splendour. Fantastic, utterly breath taking. This warship was one of the most successful of all time, leading fleets in historic wars such as as The American War of Independence and the Napoleonic Wars. Nelson died on board too, another iconic moment in history. He was fatally shot on 21st October 1805.

HMS Victory

We had booked ticket to go in to see the Mary Rose. Mary Rose was a Tudor warship. It was built for Henry 8th in 1510. She fought battles for over thirty years against the French. She capsized off the coast of Portsmouth during the Battle of the Solent in 1545. Almost all of the 500 crew were lost to the seabed along with all of their possessions. For centuries she lay there and after 400 hundred years a complicated salvage operation commenced. The Mary Rose rose again in 1982 and a collection of over 19000 items were recovered and these are all on display in the Mary Rose museum. The full skeleton of the ships dog is there too, possibly a whippet, used on board to catch rats! The name for the ship was chosen by Henry 8th. Mary for his sister and the virgin Mary and Rose for the Tudor Rose, I thought that was very touching.

Mary Rose

After that we sat and had a bit of lunch watching and waiting! We had been told that one of the aircraft carriers in the harbour was due to sail at 1.00pm. We knew this would be a sight to behold so waited and waited and waited. There were crew on board and signs of things about to happen but after a couple of hours rumours came that the mission had been postponed, ah well it had been grand sitting in the sun.

Prince of Wales Aircraft Carrier

I just love a boat trip. Last year we had a cruise on the Norfolk Broads for a couple of hours (yes I know literally know how to push the boat out we do!!) So this year it had to be a ride around Portsmouth Harbour. We were on the last sailing but I am so glad we did it. The commentary was very good. We were told lots of history about pretty much everything we could see. warships, banana boats, ferries, tugs, the Spinnaker Tower and such a lot more. Worth every penny of the ten pound per head ticket.

Ship Ahoy!
Selfie, No I am not water skiing!

After a very full day we headed back to our Camping and Caravan Club site near Fareham. This site is as usual fab in itself but there is a section reserved for folks needing an overnight before setting sail to France or Spain. Brittany Ferries sail from Portsmouth, so that’s worth knowing about! The campsite has a fish and chip van visit on Friday teatimes. It came highly recommended so we decided to have treat and a rest from cooking for me. However I couldn’t resist making a starter, not something we often bother with. the words Mary Rose had been playing in my head all day. Prawn cocktail it had to be then. The pink sauce that you get on the classic retro starter was developed by the chef catering for the restoration of the Mary Rose. The cocktail has been around for years so I don’t know how true that is. What I do know is how easy it is to make. A combination of mayo, ketchup, drops of Tabasco and a squeeze of lemon and that is it. So tangy and delicious! The fish and chips along with bread and butter and mushy peas were fantastic.

Plenty of salt and vinegar!

I did manage a tiny bake before we set off out for the day. One of my facebook/Twitter friends Brendan Kailer Lieb had offered me a recipe for apple topped biscuits. I still have Elgar’s apples to use so I gave them a whirl. Quick and easy and now all eaten, they were smashing, thank you Brendan.

Elgar’s apples once again.

Quite a hefty days blog but I hope you have enjoyed it. Here are a few links if you need more information

There we go , signing off for another day 🙂

Caravan Blog September 2020

Blog on! Day 8. Caravan Tour

Day 8. Well it is incredible that a week has been and gone already. Hey though, we are just having the best weather, so lucky! If you remember back to yesterday, I know that is hard sometimes, even I am losing track and I am writing it all down in this blog/diary, we are in Hampshire. Our first day of exploring and we initially set of to have a look around Fareham. However my oldest daughter called while we were trying to find a parking spot and distracted us. She was asking about part worn replacement tyres for her car, a subject I do in fact have some knowledge of as it happens! Anyway we ended up driving off and away. I saw a sign for Porchester Castle and thought OK, lets go there, bit of spontaneity in the mix.

Porchester Castle is a medieval castle built within a former Roman fort and was taken under royal control in 1154. The monarchy controlled the castle for several centuries. It occupies a commanding position at the head of Portsmouth harbour. It has seen much action over those centuries, plenty of scrapping with the French and dastardly doings. Today the castle is a scheduled ancient monument, a grade 1 listed building and it is managed by the English Heritage.

Taking in the view
Double Selfie

We had a really good time browsing around. We took in a bite to eat in the sunshine and just watched folks come and go. Very well worth the small entrance fee, which was about six pounds each I think and free parking too.

We headed back to the campsite via the supermarket, we need some more groceries. For our had I had my mind set on that bag of apples still, remember those ones from Elgar’s orchard. I know I keep going on about them but we have loads. I decided to make an Elgar Tarte Tatin. A french upside down apple pie. I made the puff pastry from scratch but I do quite often use shop bought. It worked out beautifully as you can see from this glossy photo!

For our main, well I concocted again. This time I wanted to use up the wobble juice I bought at the farm shop in Malvern. Cider pressed from their apples. I cooked off some onion and mushrooms in a bit of butter, added cubed pork, threw in some thyme and Dijon mustard. I doused it all in a splosh of the cider and reduced it down. then I added a leek, a sprinkle of flour to thicken and finished it off with cream. OMG, it was wonderful!


So there we go. day 8 done and dusted. We watched a bit of telly and had a couple of drinks and settled down for a good nights sleep. Another busy day planned tomorrow, ship ahoy!!

Caravan Blog September 2020 Visits

Day 7: Caravan Blog Off (don’t go to sleep)

A whole week has been and gone since I decided to write this blog. A good thing about writing it is that it makes sure that I get something done each day. Caravan, motorhome or camping holidays are good news for lots of people, especially now with the pandemic causing havoc with holiday plans. It is sort of the essence of the experience that you are outdoors much of the time and social distancing is in place with everyone having their own emplacement. This style of holiday really means you can be as busy out seeing and doing as you wish or can just put your feet up and relax. I try to do a bit of each and the blog ensures I find something of interest to absorb and write about.

If you have been following the blog each day you will know we have been at Malvern in Worcestershire. Terry and his little dog Meg joined us for a few nights and we had a great time. Quite busy, with cooking antics as well as getting around the area. We waved goodbye to them and then we hitched up and pointed the Sat Nav in the direction of south. We had booked our next stop at the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site near Fareham in Hampshire. It is only a handful of miles from Portsmouth and the ferry ports to France:

The weather for the journey of about 130 miles was once again great. Blue skies, full sun and the roads were surprisingly quiet. We turned off the motorway near Newbury and it all seemed very familiar to me. Each week when I was filming for The Great British Bake Off, I disembarked the train at Newbury and waited for the bakers mini bus to pick me up and take me off to the hotel. Ah happy days!

We made it!

I always love arriving at a new destination and this was a first for me. The welcome from the wardens on site was lovely. The little shop had a good selection of groceries and holiday bits and bats. We found ourselves a pitch and started the process of setting up. Now we have done this so many times it really should be a breeze but we always seem to find a problem that stumps us. This time it was getting the van level, we had the blocks and extra lumps of wood. I have a mini spirit level that I use for my cakes too. Could we hummer get it right. We sort of compromised in the end and decided that if it was a bit slope-y when we were trying to sleep we would say it was the wine we drank with dinner!

Our trusty steed, she is only about 20 years old!

Once we were up and running it was time to do a spot of people watching. From our pitch I can see one lady under a parasol crocheting, I can see one lady in a horizontal position baking herself (it is hot), one gentleman is changing a wheel on his bike and everyone else seems to be sitting with a cold drink in their hands. When we had Terry with us we didn’t bother watching TV but I fancied catching up with the goings on on Coronation Street so we got the set fixed up. Slight hitch in that we couldn’t figure out how to plug in the booster cable. the warden came down and showed us, he was so nice. I felt a bit of a goon as once you knew it was obvious!!

I had another cook a long live booked in the evening. I was hosting so I had to get myself geared up for that. The whole thing is done by zoom so a good wifi connection is important. The club wifi was fine. The dish we were cooking was egg curry. I had forgotten to buy eggs so I used a tin of butter beans and some par boiled potato. It was actually very delicious, I even saved a bit for breakfast…. I know I know but the flavours intensify overnight especially eaten cold!!

Curry for Breakfast

So just a short blog today as it was a travel day but I have a visit and a recipe in mind for tomorrow so watch this space, same time, same place tomorrow! Thanks for reading x

Baking Caravan Blog September 2020 GBBO Visits

Caravan Blog: Day 6

Eggs Benedict

How do you like your eggs in the morning? I like mine with a smile! That’s how the song goes. Well to start our day off with an energy boost I made eggs benedict, first time ever. Terry showed me the ropes as it is his regular brekkie. Very delish. it is a toasted muffin, or in our case sliced bread with grilled bacon, poached eggs and a dollop of hollondaise sauce. terry likes to add a bit of parmesan and a trimming of green herbs, we used parsley and that is it. Apparently it was invented by a chef in the 1860’s for a Mrs Benedict who was fed up of bacon and eggs. We cheated (camping allowed) and used a packet of hollondaise but I did learn a crafty trick with the poached eggs. Terry cracked each one into cling film draped over a cup and made a little bag containing each egg, twisted secure at the top. All the eggs went in the pan at the same time for three minutes, and hey presto, perfect poached eggs!

The reason we wanted a hefty breakfast was we were going to walk along the Malverns. We set off in the car and found a place to park up and began the climb along the tops. very hot and very beautiful. I decided to take Terrys little dog Meg and wait it out in the shade while John and Terry went up to the beacon. It was really grand!

Malvern Selfie

We headed back to the caravan and camping club site at Malvern where we were pitched, had a shower and cuppa and then headed off to a farm shop that had been recommended to us. Clive fruit farm – it was on the edge of Upton on Severn. We had decided on a BBQ for tea so we bought what we fancied from the butchers department. I spied a big barrel of what was called Wobble Juice so decided it was too interesting a name to ignore. Scrumpy pressed on the farm! I bought some to take back to the caravan, well it had to be done! We had an ice cream and headed back to site.

John fired up the charcoal BBQ and I assembled the Safari Chef 2 Cadac. We had lamb burgers, sausages (of course) and I skewered up some pork for kebabs, which were doused in the wobble juice! It was a real feast and the evening was still warm and sunny.

I used up some left over mash and transformed them into potato cakes, I just added plain flour, goat cheese and spices. I used the cadac to heat them up and they got a fab crusty bottom on them!

We also had afters! remember all those Elgar’s apples? Terry used some up and made apple cream horns with from scratch puff pastry, hey how about that then!!

What a great finale to our few days at Malvern. We really have had the best time. To top it off the new bakers for The Great British Bake Off 2020 were announced so BBC Hereford and Worcester called us up during our BBQ to chat on air about the bake off, icing on the cake

Baking Caravan Blog September 2020 Visits

Caravan Blog: Day 5

Day five of my travel blog already. As I mentioned yesterday Terry from my Bake Off year joined us on the campsite here at Malvern Hills. We had a great site based first day with him but I had a visit lined up for us today. I had started to follow a patisserie wholesaler on Instagram, just because their beautiful wares had taken my eye. I have always been in awe of anyone that can make the patisserie that the french are renowned for. I discovered that the company is in Cheltenham just a half hours drive from the campsite. They agreed to show us their work and premises so off we went to find them.

When we arrived we were welcomed by Bee and she gowned us up to make us Covid safe and we went in and were introduced to her husband Xavier the Patissier. Born near Geneva he moved to the UK aged twenty and worked in the likes of the Ivy and Harrods, where he met Bee. Ten years ago they set up The Patisserie Box and supply to the wholesale market. Like everyone they have been hit hard by the pandemic but are up and running now and trying to adapt the the changing world.

Here we are with Xavier who shows us how to make the most delicious chocolate mousse with a hard to spell almondy biscuit base. I was mesmerised by the beauty of everything they made and was really delighted when we were gifted a few items to take away with us to sample back at the site.

Team of Four

Here is the link to their website I suggested they apply for Bake Off The Professionals and they told us they have been approached a few times but can’t afford to close down their unit for the length of time filming would take, shame as they are great!

Once back on site we settled down to relax and just enjoy the sunshine. It was so hot, everyone was out doing their own thing which mostly seemed to involve a BBQ and cold drinks. Our little trio plus Meg the dog had other plans for supper on a really hot day you have got to have some steak pie and mash, of course you do!! It was Terry’s turn to do the hospitality and he made a de constructed steak pie, the pastry was made from scratch, puff too! It was exceptional, as you can see I almost forgot to take a photo as we tucked right in, so excuse the half eaten potato tower!

Our plans for tomorrow include a walk up and along the Malverns and a trip into Upton on Severn. It will be our last night at the Malvern site and we are going to have a BBQ. Terry will be leaving to return home and we will head south but that’s all another day and another blog. So for today readers, cheers for staying with me and there is two more weeks of blog to come so stay tuned!

Baking Caravan Blog September 2020 GBBO Visits

Caravan Blog: Day 4

Here we are on day four already. Still the sun shines, it is so fantastic and makes a big difference to a trip. Terry – my friend that I met while we were both competitors on The Great British Bake Off – arrived onsite. He drove down from his home in his motorhome. It was so brilliant to see him again, we keep on touch by zoom but its always better in real life. We decided that we would do a local bake on site and video it. We came up with a Malvern Pudding. It is normally steamed but we decided to bake it in the oven to save the gas, steaming takes so long. The bake itself is like an apple cake (remember all those apples from Elgar’s orchard!) We made a caramel sauce to pour over the top. Everything worked out fine and the elderly gentleman next to us was intrigued with our antics. He said ‘please get an article in the Caravan and Motorhome magazine’ as he thought it would prove to be of interest to members, perhaps we will 🙂

See on this photo, Terry’s little dog Meg got a piece of the action. She is such a little princess and just as fluffy and even tempered as a teddy bear. gorgeous!

Remember the pizza dough I made yesterday? Well here is the result. We enjoyed it sat in the sun and we also had something very special to wash it down with. Terry has his own craft brewery and as a surprise brought us a big crate of three of his finest. I am not a beer connoisseur but these were really fine and a little history with each bottle. Also he brought cheese from his own cheese place and some honey from his bees.

We had a meal in our caravan. I made something from Rick Stein, not fish though, it was a Croatian pot roast, slow cooked in balsamic vinegar and red wine with dates and apples in the mix! Beautiful!!

So that was day four. A steady day all on the campsite. Next up is a trip to a patisserie in Cheltenham, see how the professionals do it, very excited to see. Watch this space, will report asap!