The first trip Chief and I went on in Gertie together was to Lincoln Farm Park in Standlake, Oxfordshire. You can read about that trip here. We loved it and couldn't wait to go back, declaring it our favourite site. Last year when we tried to go back there was no vacancies and we had to look elsewhere. We always knew we wanted to go back and last weekend we got the chance to spend another two nights there.
The site was not as we remembered it. Well, in some ways it was. But we felt the atmosphere had changed. Gone were the wardens on bikes that showed you to your pitch. In fact the only time we saw anyone remotely like a warden was when we saw a cart pass loaded with rubbish. There were two things that took the shine off this trip and one was the pitch. One thing we'd loved about this site was the layout of pitches. We'd only ever managed to book standard pitches. But each one had been clearly defined with a decent sized hard standing and a nice patch of grass; flanked with trees and hedges to define its boundaries. The pitches - given the size of the park - were generous and far enough away not to feel neighbours were intrusive or we had a lack of privacy. Not so this trip. Our hard standing was wide enough, but no where near long enough to fit the whole van on. Which didn't really matter, but did lead me to suspect we had a tenters pitch really. It really felt they now cram on as many caravans and motor homes as possible. The problem with the closeness of neighbours on our far side was they sat up chatting and playing music right outside our window long after the 10.30pm noise curfew. Couple that with the near feral children running, cycling and throwing balls around the pitch - sometimes on the pitch (in fact I'd just got up from lying on a quilt to read when the quilt, my book and my legs got soaked in water that had been thrown by children.) Had there been wardens making checks as previously, I think everyone could have enjoyed their stay without spoiling it for others. Anyway, that's the negatives over. On to the rest of our fantastic trip.
We didn't set up our bird feeder for the first time ever. Chief felt with all the noisy children and adults we'd get no bird life. It was fantastic to wake up and find we had a visitor after all.
I hadn't take my DSLR - it was a bit nerve racking deciding to leave it at home. But I really wanted to get used to only using my new Lumix, as I hope to use this more for travels where taking my beloved DSLR would be too difficult/inappropriate. But I'm jumping ahead!
On the right below you can see the large toilet/shower block.
We didn't get to the site until late afternoon as Chief had had to work and then drive down from the North East of the country. We asked about private pool hire for Saturday, but they had no slots. Luckily they had a slot Friday night so we snapped it up and once we'd set up the pitch we headed off for a swim. The park boasts two leisure centres, each equipped with pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi (there is also a gym). They have open sessions each day, but for £23 you can pay to have the facilities to yourself for 55 minutes. Chief always treats us, as for us, it's a big selling point of the site.
We couldn't be bothered to cook after our pool session so headed around the corner to The Black Horse for our evening meal. We should have booked as there was around a 45 minute wait to even see a menu! Once we did though, the food came our pretty quickly and turned out to be worth the wait.
Saturday morning, after Chief had cooked breakfast for us we headed off to to the Mosaic Trail which is a walk between Standlake and Newbridge. The map I'd printed off wasn't that clear or to scale and at first we headed off in the wrong direction. It was the perfect chance to take some pictures of the pretty main village of Standlake.
The Black Horse where we had dinner on Friday and Saturday night.
Along the Mosaic Trail are er... mosaics to spot of birds and other wild life.
Standlake is full of private lakes that used to be gravel pits. You can get glimpses of them through hedges and clearings.
Most of the walk was perfect in the hot temperatures as the path was covered by trees and created a cooling dappled shade.
We rested at the picnic spot (and wished we'd bought a picnic) Do you like my new prescription sunnies?
There were little fish in the River Windrush
Before too long we'd made it to Newbridge and The Rose Revived. After a very long queue for Chief we ordered lunch and drinks and sat outside under some willow trees.
The River Thames looks just perfect on a sunny day.
It's a great location but they need more staff as people were queueing out the door just to get a drink - never mind food!
Then it was time to head back down the leafy lanes to Standlake.
Didn't expect to see these in the Oxfordshire countryside!
I couldn't stop taking pictures of this place. Just perfect English Country village scene.
Then when we were back to our pitch I tossed down one of my quilts, put on my bikini top and read.
Later we had showers and headed back to The Black Horse. Heaving again - this really is a great little pub and if we return we'll book. Not too long to wait this time and great food. We had a slight query with our order and they dealt with it swifty and fairly. Mistakes do happen, but how they're dealt with really does make a big difference and we felt The Black Horse was spot on.
Then back to our pitch to play with the features of my Lumix and do some more reading before we headed to bed.
Unfortunately I woke up Sunday feeling really unwell and had a fever and have felt rubbish for the rest of the week. Chief packed up Gertie as we were due home, dropped me home and then headed back to the North East - begging the question - When and where can we go in Gertie next time?