Our third trip away in the camper van was to Somerset, near Cheddar, staying at Bucklegrove Holiday Park (at the end of November!). It had been quite difficult to find a campsite/ caravan site that was open and had availability for this weekend. It seems a lot of sites close late November. It was the coldest (though lovely and sunny) weekend we’d had so far so I was determined to take as many snuggly clothes and sleeping gear as possible, knowing that I hate getting cold. In the weeks before our trip I’d bought thermals for myself, fleecy onesies for the children, a snugly throw and some hot water bottles. We might be saving some money by not staying in hotels but the amount we’ve spent kitting out our camper van…….. well!
We were pretty organised and left not long after the school pick up amazingly, stopping on the way for a takeaway McDonald’s. Also amazingly the children stayed awake for the majority of the trip, and only falling asleep about half an hour away from the site. We found the campsite really easily but unfortunately the owners were not around to let us in but another caravanner was. We picked our place (correctly), not far from the toilet & shower block and set up for the night with both the children very dozy and sleepy.
We got the top of the camper set up with sleeping bags, duvets, throws all ready to go. Charley woke a little so at least she got changed into her pyjamas whilst Bodhi remained asleep. It’s a bit of a mission as we have to move the car seats onto the front seats out-of-the-way. Once we’ve (actually my husband) has worked out how to put the awning up it should be a lot easier as we can put car seats etc into that, creating a bit more space in the van.
Once Charley and I were up the top and Bodhi had been put onto the front seat asleep Tim could set up the downstairs into sleep mode. We had the heater on most of the night and whilst it was pretty fresh upstairs we all had a pretty good sleep, only being woken by the children about 6.30am.
We had breakfast in the van, fruit and yoghurt for the grown ups so we could enjoy bad food for the rest of the day and variety boxes of cereal for the children.
After showering and dressing (shower block was clean and spacious with plenty of hot water – something I’m still getting used to!) we headed for a day out at Wookey Hole, not realising that the Winter Wonderland was on. We had a lovely chat with Father Christmas in the grotto, where Charley and Bodhi were both happy to have their photos taken and receive a present. A big change from a few years ago.
Lunch was great and all the hot food looked really tempting, but I sensibly stuck to some soup whilst Tim had an amazing macaroni cheese & chips!!
It would have been a really quiet day for visitors at Wookey Hole if the whole of the district of Bristol area cubs hadn’t descended there too, which did make the soft play areas a bit of squash at times, though Charley and Bodhi were obviously very happy, Charley taking on the big sisterly role and looking after Bodhi, though I’m not sure that he needs it.
After lunch we went on the guided tour of the caves which lasted nearly an hour. It’s a casual tour, and we had a very funny guide called Brian who knew the caves really well. They are absolutely amazing and are so worth visiting. There are a few places where you have to duck down and a few steps up and down, a couple of narrower walk ways but they are just amazing to see, my photos really don’t do them justice.
I’m terrible at listening to things like this, even though I found it really interesting it just doesn’t stay in my head! I do remember him saying though that Blue Peter and Doctor Who had used one of the chambers for filming, and that the caves stay a moderate 11 degrees all year round so a bit warmer than it was outside.
Once out of the caves there are some dinosaurs and a massive King Kong statue. There was also an area to uncover some dinosaur bones which kept the children amused for a little bit.
We managed to coax the children back inside for a walk around the mirror maze which is very bizarre but funny and then the children wanted to go on the softplay which was great for us as it meant we got to sit down with a hot drink. It was a bit chaotic here because of all the cubs around, but we didn’t manage to lose the children and they had a great time.
At three o’clock there was another showing of their Christmas themed circus show. Local children trained three times a night preparing for the shows and they were just brilliant. Juggling, skating, hula hoops, high bars, magic tricks and some of the children really didn’t look much older than Charley but they were all so confident and obviously loved doing it. At the end of the show a massive inflatable Father Christmas popped up and children could go and have their photo taken with it. Charley also got her hair covered in spray snow (though we’re not sure where it came from!!).
We had a last look around a model village and it was pretty much time for the site to close and us to head back to the campsite.
However, once we arrived back at the campsite we thought we might go into Wells for dinner rather than get comfy in the camper, so off we drove.
We found a lovely pub and managed to get a table just under the TV playing a rugby game but the atmosphere, menu and wine were just right so we stayed in there for a meal. Bodhi was happy to play with his little train set he’d been given from Santa and Charley was happy to do some drawing and I was very happy to have a few glasses of wine. Win, win all round. Tim had the rugby to watch!
The children fell asleep again in the van on the way home so we again got all the bedding out and then pretty much put them to sleep in what they were wearing and they had a great nights sleep. It was so toasty that night in the camper that I didn’t need to wear my fluffy socks and I took my beanie hat off too!
We woke up about 7ish, I can’t remember who but someone needed the toilet – that sort of means the whole van has to wake up!
After our breakfast I took the children swimming in the site pool. There is a code to get in which I’d fortunately remembered to take with me. There was a toddler pool as well as a deeper pool, which were both lovely and warm compared to the air outside of the pool. I had to persuade the children to get out of the pool when Bodhi started going a bit blue! We warmed up with a shower and headed back to do the last tidying up of the camper van before going to the local pub up the road. We had a really tasty Sunday lunch, fuelling us for the journey home.
Considering it was one of the chilliest weekends of Autumn so far I think we did pretty well in the van. I am looking forward though to using the van in the warmer months when we can spend more time outside.