Today I attended the AGM of the Anglia Region of the Caravan and Motorhome Club in Ipswich – or more specifically on the Nacton Road in Ipswich.
I was brought up here as a child and the River Orwell played a big part during my early school years. Not least because we had to go into the centre of Ipswich where the river was narrow and there was the only bridge to get across it. Many many years later the Orwell Bridge was built enabling Felixstowe to become the hugely successful container port that it now is. And Ipswich was largely bypassed.
Consequently, I felt today a small diversion was justified on my way home to spend a bit of time by the river and as always marvel at the bridge. It serves to remind me that good infrastructure makes things happen and generates growth.
The “No Motorhomes” sign on a central car park is a bit academic as you’d be bonkers to attempt a coach built on these narrow twisting streets. The taxis are mostly Mercedes Vitos so a small van conversion might be possible but we prefer the excellent barrier controlled aire at the main bus station. A ten minute top whack stroll and you are in the middle of the town.
And there is something very attractive about London on a Sunday that I really like. Here in Waterloo Place it’s quieter, less people and you can get around so much more easily. It assumes in my opinion a completely different character and is all the better for that.
I worked in central London for twenty years and loved it; but I was rarely here on a Sunday. I seem to now be putting that right.
Faye and I have spent a delightful weekend in Liverpool.
Getting there was a nightmare because of the unexpected closure of the M6 at junctions 18 and 19 but being there was great. The Merseyside Maritime Museum is a must. We were there with Faye’s sister and brother in law; John spent a chunk of his career in the shipping industry and was based in Liverpool for a while so this was a major trip down memory lane for him.
Written by Kari Herbert
In a nutshell
The grand family home of the motoring-mad Montagu family in the New Forest and the site of one of the finest collections of cars, motorbikes and motoring memorabilia in the world. There are more than 250 vehicles on display, from early motor carriages and 1920s “gangster” cars to legendary land-speed record breakers and motoring marvels, such as a giant orange on wheels. There’s also a full-size caravan made from Lego and familiar TV show cars, too, such as Del Boy’s Reliant Regal from Only Fools and Horses and Wallace and Gromit’s Anti-Pesto van.
There are costumes to try on, cars to climb into, knobs to turn and buttons to press and a new interactive crash-test-dummy challenge. Jack Tucker’s garage recreates the sounds and smells of the 1930s and in the “World of Top Gear” there’s all sorts of crazy contraptions created for the TV show.
Beaulieu was a top secret base for special agents during the second world war. More than 3,000 spies were trained here before undertaking daring missions behind enemy lines.
Best thing(s) about it.
The monorail at the museum. We loved riding the monorail high above the gardens of the abbey and, ingeniously, through the roof of the motor museum itself. But getting up close to the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was our daughter’s favourite.
The abbey and the gardens are stunning, and have a brilliant new Alice in Wonderland topiary display. There are fascinating exhibits for budding spies in the Secret Army exhibition and in Palace House costumed guides make you feel as though you are guests of the family – you may even see the cook rustling up a favourite family dish in the newly-restored Victorian kitchen.
What about lunch?
There’s a covered picnic area and benches beside the children’s Dipstick playground. Alternatively, the Brabazon Cafe serves good food using produce from the estate gardens: a kid’s picnic or hot meal, such as jacket potato or fish and chips, costs £4.75; a kids’ hot chocolate with smarties costs £1.75; adult meals, such as large salads from the deli, start at £7.50 (soup £4.60) and a cream tea is £2.50.
Exit through the gift shop?
Yes, with a huge selection of model cars, books and motor-themed gifts, as well as homeware, clothing and toys. A radio-controlled Ferrari costs £39.99 while pocket-money-priced toys, such as pencils and rubber balls start at £1.
Travel by train, ferry or bus for all or part of your journey to Beaulieu and you get 20% off standard admission. Take the train from London Waterloo to Brockenhurst, or the Hythe Ferry across Southampton Water to Hythe. The New Forest Tour’s green route links Beaulieu with Hythe Ferry, Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst and Lymington. By car, take junction 2 off the M27 and follow signs to Beaulieu.
Value for money?
It’s pricey, but you could easily spend a full day here. Advance tickets cost £19.50 adult and £9.50 child, for entrance to The National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, Palace House and gardens, Beaulieu Abbey, the Secret Army Exhibition and unlimited rides on the monorail and veteran bus. Under 5s are free.
Open daily 10am-6pm (27 May-24 September) and 10am-5pm (25 September onwards, closed Christmas Day).
8/10, well put together and a great family day out.
A recent survey revealed Nice to be the city most French citizens would love to live in if they had the choice and I can see why.
A tad hot for us Brits. 34 degrees C slows me down and results in more bars being visited when of course I am here primarily for the culture……