When we left the UK in January 2020, we had no idea that most of our planning and hopes would be a mirage. At the same time, we can only feel lucky to have been able to travel for the duration of the pandemic and that our lockdowns were in warmer places.

But, like all good things, it had to come to an end and with Brexit we had to return to the UK. We had attempted a visit at Christmas but as you know this did not work out too well and we had to flee back to Spain to rescue ‘Buster’ our Elddis motorhome before they locked us out!

Now, after 14 months travelling around Europe, we are back in the UK!

It has been a while since we posted anything. We have not been hiding, but the opportunity to see family and friends for the first time since January 2020 was simply too much – and has been great fun for both of us.

Our first task was to quarantine for 10 days. We had assumed this process would be well organised and fool proof. How wrong we were! We, under the present rules, had come from an ‘Amber’ country which meant 10 days isolation and two PCR tests. We were overjoyed to get two calls a day each… as I had filled in the locator form back to front, i.e. we were to arrive the day before we left.  After resubmitting the form we now got two calls a day! We used a company called Testing For All and they were fantastic. We can recommend them and they are the best value at £99 per person. (A couple of things to note: if you have your 8th day test on a Friday make sure you get it in the post before 5.00, in a priority mailbox, otherwise you will not get your results until the following Wednesday!)

Thankfully, we did get our negative results and the next day we were able to have our first jab in Bournemouth. We were so grateful to be able to get the jab and we headed off to see the first of many family members. ‘Pino’ the cat we rescued in Spain had arrived in Plumpton but did not want to know us. He has found a new home and enjoyed showing us just how much he did not need us! But we had coffee and cake back in England with family for the first time and it was liberating and a joy.

Pino is loving the UK... but maybe not us!

We spent three weeks in London visiting friends and family. We went to a pub quiz and won, we haven’t not lost it! I dashed out and played golf, having re-joined my beloved Shooters Hill Golf Club, played three poor rounds and then a blinder when the money was on! Happy days.

A view on the walk along the coast of Bournemouth to get our Jab

Can you see the Isle of Wight Polar Bear?

Our plan, as we mentioned, is go explore the UK in ‘Buster’. But there was one more family adventure to have before we did that. We met up again with Gary and Zoe, who had so warmly welcomed us onshore as we returned from Europe by ferry. On the May Bank Holiday we headed to the Isle of Wight - a location we have been visiting together for 10 years. A marvellous weekend was had by all, it must be said the Isle of Wight is lovely!

The Gappers with Gary and Zoe our IOW buddies.

Red squirrels at Adgestone vineyard. You should go if you visit the Island. Naturally blue sparkling wine. Ask how they do it!

Happy to be back in the UK!

Back to the mainland and the start of our UK adventure. We have never really explored the UK in a motorhome, so this will be all new to us. We ended up free camping on our first night back on the road as we had made an error with our booking, so stayed at Port Solent with this great view.

Buster parked up at Port Solent an idyllic free camp spot.

The first surprise is that you can’t really just roll up and stay anywhere in the UK, like we were used to in Europe. We think you have to book everywhere, so we’ll need to plan and be organised. We have joined both the large clubs and it seems the Caravan and Motorhome Club is booked out for every weekend until next year! Both clubs have smaller CL sites which appeal but you can’t book them using their websites, you must call directly. This we feel is a real disconnect. That said, the Camping and Caravanning Club seems to work better. We have been able to book their sites with a degree of ease and thus far have stayed at the Salisbury site and one of their CL sites at Wareham.

So, what are the differences between the UK and Europe? Well, here in the UK, campsites are a lot more formal, lots of rules, and wardens are new to us. In Europe, most sites are run by the owners and the staff are professional employees, not wardens. That said, we really liked the Salisbury Camping and Caravanning Club site; the wardens were friendly and helpful and professional. Being brought to our pitch was odd as we were used to being either told where to go, given a map of the site or just left to pick our own spot.

Parked up in Salisbury - a super site.

Next up was Wareham, a CL site affiliated to the C&CC. We had to phone and pay in advance for what would be classed as an Aire in Europe. However, the Priory Meadow site in Wareham is lovely, idyllic really, and when we arrived were told our pitch number and given a code to the gate. We had water, waste disposal and EHU.

Buster Parked up at Priory Meadow Wareham

We do miss the spontaneity – the ability to just turn up, park and enjoy a place – as we did in mainland Europe. We have been looking at places to stay for the next 8-10 weeks and are amazed just how many are fully booked for the coming months. We have booked places in Dorset, Wales, Peak District, Yorkshire Moors, and Scotland, just to ensure we can stop safely. Cornwall and Devon are off our list, as too expensive and mostly full for dates we might want. Many places are already booked for the weekends, but, to be fair, we had been eyeing up sites close to small towns, with great sights and things to do – and these will get snapped up quick. If we were looking for a full getaway experience, there are lots of lovely sites. We will explore and learn the UK way!

We have now stayed at two sites and have had wonderful experiences. The Salisbury site was perfectly placed to allow us to explore the city, which was wonderful, plus there are fantastic cycle routes all around the area, not to mention the walking options.

The Cathedral at Salisbury

The font at the cathedral

Art in the ceiling!

We were able to cycle to Stonehenge and get a great photo… without having to join National Heritage just yet.

Stonehenge! We would like to thank the English Heritage chap for making this photo possible.

The selfie at Stonehenge

A pub at long last, by the River Avon! Welcome home!

The visit to the cathedral was amazing and to see the Magna Carta was such a privilege. So far, our travels in the UK are up there with anything we have done to date, and we are enjoying the sunshine that has finally graced us with its presence!

Next up was a cycle ride to Swanage and a revelation it was too! The Isle of Purbeck is great cycling country… apart from the nutter in his Range Rover overtaking three cars to get by us. I was able to chat to him as we cycled by at the junction later. We also got to visit Purbeck Cider Company and we would recommend to you.

Corfe Castle

A view to Sandbanks over the Purbeck Golf course

Swanage harbour

It is strange what you see when out on your bikes!

Today, however, Karen showed just how lovely she is by allowing me to explore for over 5 hours the Bovington Tank Museum, a real joy.

Panther

Tiger

Panzer

For my and your sins I have got to write this week’s blog. Sorry if it is not the best, we are out of practice, but we are loving the UK since we have been back in ‘Buster’. We realise just how beautiful England is.

This coming week we have some filming with Elddis and more of the fantastic Jurassic Coast to enjoy, so stay tuned!