I’ve been reminded that I’ve been very slow in posting this next instalment. My excuse is that we’ve been away in the motorhome so much that I’ve struggled to find the time. I’ll post this, and maybe one more, to cover the first twelve months of our motorhoming experiences.
So, there we were with our Compass Avantgarde 100, a bit on the small side, but in perfect working order, albeit with the knowledge that the next problem to develop in a non-watertight gearbox would probably prove terminal. The sun was shining, summer was upon us and we decided to get on with enjoying ourselves.
One of the most interesting places we visited was the Crossways Caravan Club site at Moreton, near Dorchester: a fascinating site of contrasts. It’s very attractive; the one-way site roadway meanders through woodland, passing through lovely glades that each contain a small number of pitches.
Deer live in the woodland and frequently put in an appearance. Campsites are the favoured venue of people who want to holiday with their dog and, as is usually the case, the majority of pitches had one or more dogs in residence. Amazingly, the deer seemed unfazed, unerringly picking out the dog-free units to be hand-fed morsels of salads. One hind was even confident enough to bring her fawn out into the open and ignore all the cameras pointed at them.
Two further advantages of the site are the pub only a couple of minutes walk from the gate, and the railway station opposite the pub. One of the things we look for in a site is easy access to public transport – that station certainly provides it as it is on the main line to Dorchester, only a 10-minute ride away.
The proximity of the railway line has its downside as at one of those glades it forms the boundary to the site. There’s a level crossing next to the station and passing express trains sound their horns as they approach – a very effective alarm at 6.00 a.m.
Another quirk of the site is the dry composting toilet facilities. The toilet seat looks conventional, but beneath it is a large dark hole. Children aren’t allowed to use the toilets unaccompanied, presumably because of the danger of falling in – a possibility too awful to contemplate. The loos worked fine, but they clearly didn’t suit everyone. I saw one chap emerge to be confronted by his wife and teenage daughter who angrily declared them unacceptable and demanded a move to another site. For me, the showers being in a separate block 100 yards away was more of a problem.
We’d strongly recommend a visit to this area – there’s so much to see and do. Dorchester is not to be missed. A lot of redevelopment has taken place around the station. Many top class restaurants and shops have appeared, but the old town is only a few minutes walk away. There we found the Dorset County Museum, the Tutankhamun Exhibition, the Dinosaur Museum, the Terracotta Warriors Exhibition, the Teddy Bear Museum and The Mummies Exhibition – so plenty to do if it rains. When the sun shines guided walk leaflets from the TIC provide a good tour of the town. As this is Thomas Hardy territory you’ll find frequent references to his work.
Dorchester isn’t the only attraction. You can change trains there and head for the seaside delights of Weymouth. Close by, there’s also the Tolpuddle Martyrs museum, Clouds Hill (the cottage of T E Lawrence) and the Tank Museum at Bovington Camp.
We spent a week in the area and could easily have stayed a lot longer.
One minor problem had become apparent with the Compass. We used the overcab bed for storage and slept in the double bed made up each night from the dinette. That bed is put together from six mattresses: the two seats and two backs of the dinette benches and two small mattresses that fit onto the pull-out extension. Having six components means a lot of joins, each of which can open up a little in use. In the interest of comfort we bought two of these, although we went for two-inch thickness, two-feet wide size. Problem solved.
One of our most notable trips in that first year was to the Sidmouth Folk Festival. Attending such events was one of the main reasons for our buying a motorhome. The festival (or Folk Week as it’s now called) was great fun, as usual. Staying on the over-crowded official, temporary campsite was an interesting experience. At the time I wrote a post about both the event and the camping which you can find under the Folk Festivals sections of this blog.
Bath is one of our favourite cities, so it was a treat to discover the Bath Caravan Park. It’s alongside the River Avon about two miles from the city centre, which is easily accessed by walking/cycling along the riverbank or by bus from the adjacent park & ride. The site is open all year and has sixty-four pitches all with hardstanding and ehu. Under the Interesting Places section of this blog you’ll find three posts that will help explain why we like the city so much.
Later this week I’ll put up another post covering the remainder of our first motorhoming year and the decisions we made at the end of it.