Family camping near Glastonbury, Wells and Shepton Mallet, Somerset, UK

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  • 26_Jan_09

    What did you get for Christmas Daddy?



    Transformers, so I believed, were laser-firing robots that could morph into trucks for a quick getaway. Woolworths used to sell them, but sadly no more. I really wish they did, because the transformers that Western Power Distribution sells cost quite a bit more.

    Ever since we took over at Greenacres I’ve been uneasy about the load on the electricity supply. A 60-amp single phase supply feeds the house, then runs back out through the sheds, then across the road to power the lights in the showers and five electric hook-up pitches. Without getting too technical, that’s a load of juice for one little cable. So we need more juice, more cables and a new transformer to link them together. Ideally we’d have 3-phases (sorry, getting technical again) but the economic recession would be twice as deep if they brought the necessary cables across half of Somerset to our remote location. So we must be content with a more modest plan, stabilising what we have and allowing for a few more hookups before the main season….. a snip at just under £15,000. Ouch!

    A little help may come from another landmark this week, as Greenacres accepted its first ever credit card payment. A deposit from a Dutch guest winged its way across the channel and down to us via the Google Checkout facility in double-quick time – brilliant.

    It’s been our busiest week yet finalising building plans and, as of last Friday, we now have our main building contractor appointed and on-board. The final structural drawings are being prepared for Building Control and John’s merry band of builders will be on site in a couple of weeks. We’ve had a reality check about the completion date though, so for most of this season we’ll be living in a caravan by the chicken sheds.

    We also had a very special trip up north. I’d been shopping on ebay for a decent double sink for the camp site and finally found the right thing at the right price in Barnoldswick, Lancashire. So I hitched-up the trailer and we set off up the M5/M6. OK there was the bonus of seeing the Burnley v Spurs cup semi-final while we were there, but the sink was the main reason for the journey, honest! Unfortunately the eagerness of our 500-mile round trip wasn’t matched by the seller, who proved impossible to contact and badly let us down. The trailer came all the way back again, empty. Oh and Burnley narrowly failed to get to Wembley, K sera sera, but what a fantastic match! All is not lost on the washing-up front though. The sink seller eventually kept his part of the bargain and I’m off up there again this week to retrieve it.

    Credit card payment facilities, washing-up sinks, more electric hookups and builders all coming soon. Finally we’re making progress.

    Best wishes,


  • Bonne Anee

    AmstelBonne année


    A warm welcome to the first Greenacres blog of 2009. Judging from the Countryfile weather forecast, that’s about the only bit of warmth any of us can expect this week!  I sincerely hope all your stockings were suitably filled and that the turkey-lurgy didn’t strike down too many.

    For us, a family Christmas was followed by a welcome break on the ski slopes of France. The snow was plentiful, the food excellent and, thankfully, there were no broken limbs to report.

    It always amuses me that as winter tightens its hardest grip, as soon as the Xmas decorations are taken down, attentions switch to summer holidays in the sunshine.

    But our trip to France last week made me wonder how very different things might be this summer because of the Euro exchange rate. The holiday price wasn’t an issue – we booked and paid that months ago. What REALLY hit home was a well understood measure – the price of a pint! (well ok, 0.5 litres). £6.50 per glass of Amstel and £3.50 for a Coke quickly blew a big hole in our holiday spending money. I know hotels and bars in the Alps are never cheap, but coupled with an exchange rate less than 1:1 things quickly started to hurt.

    So the UK tourism industry has an opportunity to showcase the benefit of holidaying at home. According to Somerset Tourism, there were about 20 million trips last year to the South West by UK-based visitors, staying for 80 million nights and spending about £4 billion in the process. We’ll be trying our very best to make sure that if these numbers rise in 2009, people won’t go away disappointed - there’s so much to see and do in Somerset…. but some decent weather would be a very good start!

    The ice and cold empties our bird feeders even faster than normal. Before we went away we topped-up all the nut feeders, filled the seed containers to the brim, stacked half-a-dozen fat balls in the rack and put most of a left over French stick on the bird table. Inside a week everything was stripped bare. When I arrived back yesterday, the robin was waiting for me as usual with that “Where the hell have you been ?” look he’s so good at. He was clearly so hungry that he almost accepted seed straight from my hand, with all fear banished. I’d like to think he is getting used to having me around “his” territory, but I’m not so romantic. It’s not just the High Street retailers that are really suffering the icy blast of winter.

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