South West Wales – May 2019

I got a good hotel deal and as it’s nowhere near a railway station I decided to take the car. Now, I know where I’m going as I have stayed at the hotel several times before.

It’s the Travelodge at Cross Hands near Llanelli, so to make the most of the day I wanted to leave before 9:00am. I woke early and was away by 6:45 and so by 12:30 I was at the Manor Wildlife Park near Tenby.

I spent until 2:30 here and drove back to the hotel for a lazy evening!

As there is no food on offer, I checked out before 8:30 and drove to Narberth looking for a cooked breakfast. Now I’m sure there are places to stop for breakfast, I just didn’t see them and so I drove down to Haverfordwest, parked in a multi storey car park (60p for two hours!) and found a little café called Munchies

I ordered their ‘Big Munch’ and really struggled to eat it all – great value at around £5.50.

By the time I got back to the car, it was time to head off to my destination of choice for the day, Folly Farm. Now Folly Farm is both a Zoo and a Funfair and a farm. The zoo all seems fairly new and I spent until 3:00pm there.

I decided to break the journey home with a stop for fuel and a bite to eat at the huge ASDA on the outskirts of Bristol.

When I got there I went straight to the café only to find out that they closed at 6:00pm so could only serve drinks. Imagine, one of the largest hypermarkets in the country, open 24 hours but closing their food offering at 6:00pm!

So after fuelling up, I drove around for a bit until I found a ‘Harry Ramsdens’ fish and chip restaurant. A 90 minute ‘dash’ down the M5 and I was home (and exhausted!) and so an early night followed…..


Exeter Food & Drink Festival 2019

So Exeter has a big food and drink festival– Who knew? Certainly not me, but I do remember not being able to walk through Northernhay Park last year so maybe if I’d paid more attention at the time, I would know!

So armed with a VIP ticket for the Sunday, (a birthday present!), I decided to hop on the train to Exeter. The festival is held next to the station so easy to get back after one or two drinks!

The festival has a live cookery theatre featuring local chefs (Michelin starred too!), with front row seating for VIP’s, loads of stands selling food or food related products, a number of bars, a VIP tent (more about this later!) and live music during the day.

In an attempt to prolong things past their 6:30pm deadline there is also a number of well known (not to me!) DJ’s from Radio1 making a noise in the evening. To listen to these purveyors of other peoples talent will cost you extra, but as it’s not my thing I didn’t bother.

First port of call was the VIP tent for a (free) coffee – you could go back all day for free coffee if you wanted. Included in the VIP ticket price is also 2 free drinks (large G&T’s for me!) and a cream tea. It also included a facial but I passed on that!

Darts Farm, the local (very large and very good) farm shop were housed in a number of joined up tepees and their master butchers were doing demos all day. They don’t just cater for meat eaters either, there were demos on vegetarian and vegan products too. They also had an area where young children and not so young children could make their own pizzas and sausages – brilliant.

The festival was on for 3 days over the early May bank holiday weekend and given the chance, I will go again next year.

BMAD (Bikers Make A Difference)

It started in 2002 with an idea by the founders of Bikers Make A Difference – BMAD, Kelvin and Jayne Halloran. That idea was to have a social gathering of bikers on Paignton Seafront in Devon and to raise valuable money for local charity. BMAD is now, probably, the biggest biker, music and beer festival in the South West of England. There are also regular Bike Nights running from the beginning of June until the end of September on Wednesday evenings from 6pm. 

Paignton Bike Night finally saw its birth in 2003 and has gone on to become the longest running largest regular social gathering of bikers in the South West of England. Each year on Paignton Seafront there are regularly  a mile of bikes parked side by side every Wednesday evening from the beginning of June to the end of Sept.

Due to the success of Paignton Bike Nights they now organise a Bike, Band & Beer Festival weekend called Paignton Bike Festival which is held on Paignton Seafront. The first Festival was in May 2005 and proved to be a total success not just for their charities but also for all concerned including the many sponsors and traders that attended.


BMAD (Bikers Make A Difference) has been operating since 2003 to raise money to provide funding to sick, disabled and disadvantaged young people up to the age of 19 in the TQ area; and other charities that also provide services to the local TQ communities which directly or indirectly benefit young people.

Through the annual Bike, Beer and Music Festival and the weekly Bike Nights from May to September, they raise money for their chosen charities and individuals in the TQ Area.  They’ve become a tourist attraction for Torbay which supports the local businesses such as bed & breakfasts, hotels, campsites, food outlets and other local amenities.

The BMAD festival runs from Friday to Sunday on early May bank holiday weekend.


More information on BMAD here

National Rail museum, York

Tuesday 9th March 2019

I had from about 10:00 am until 3:00pm to spend at the gorgeous National Rail Museum in York. It took me about 20 minutes to walk there from where the coach parked, so, camera in hand, off I went.

The last time I visited the museum was in 1982 so I was expecting one or two changes! It was much bigger than I remembered with a huge amount of locomotives, carriages and memorabilia to see.

It’s free to enter but well worth popping a note or two in their collection boxes!

The first thing I saw were the royal carriages

I wanted to see the Eurostar, Bullet train, Mallard and the Flying Scotsman in particular and I soon realised I would have to prioritise things to be sure of seeing everything.

How lucky was I? The Flying Scotsman was having a service. Fortunately there is a viewing platform so you can see pretty much everything

By this time, I was thinking Coffee and a snack and so I sat down in the open cafe and tucked into a home made sausage roll and a nice coffee.

There was so much more to see and so I will put some more pictures below….

If you ever get the chance to visit this lovely place, you should! Highly recommended!


Harrogate, Leeds & Knaresborough March 2019

Monday 4/3/19

Left home at 6:00am, just a short walk to meet the coach which arrived at 6:20am

We picked up more passengers at Newton Abbot, Exeter, Taunton and Bristol.

We had a coffee and comfort break at Gordano Services and left there at 10:00am

We arrived at the interchange at Corley services at 11:45 where we met our tour coach and driver. Time for a spot of lunch before we left at 2:00pm

Some of the coaches at Corley

A comfort stop at the fairly new Tibshelf  Services and we got to Harrogate at 5:30pm

Now, I knew the hotel had recently had a facelift, but I was unprepared for how gorgeous the place was. Very modern, young staff and just plain gorgeous.

Shearings, the coach company are brilliant, once your case has been loaded on to the coach at the start of your journey, you don’t see it again until it is delivered to your room! So I had a single – ample room and spotlessly clean!

Time to freshen up and get changed and then down for dinner

And what a dinner!

An early night tonight as I was tired from sitting on a coach all day! Seems ridiculous but it was true.

The following day we were off to York for the day so I needed a decent breakfast. A beautifully cooked English breakfast followed but if I had wanted a lighter breakfast the choices were brilliant

The continental table

Then off to York where I wanted to visit the National Railway Museum as it was 35 years ago when I last went!

On the way back to the coach I stopped at my favourite little bar for a gin and tonic

Dinner was delicious again – I’ll spare you the pictures!

There was a trip on the coach again today but I didn’t go. Instead I caught the train to Leeds – only £6.75 with my railcard.

Leeds is BIG!

Apparently it has the largest indoor market in Europe! Well it is pretty big

Enjoyed a really nice coffee here –


I got back to the hotel and went down for dinner. Now something had been bothering me. There were some people on the coach who I was sure I had met before, but I didn’t like to say anything in case I was wrong! Well they just happened to sit on the next table at dinner, and as I turned to ask, the lady turned to me at the same time and sure enough  we knew each other – such a small world! They used to live in the same town as me, but moved 4 years ago. Dinner was exquisite again and then into the bar for a spot of catching up.

Thursday 7/3/19

Had a wander around Harrogate this morning.

Back on the coach for a quick trip to Knaresborough in the afternoon.

So back to the hotel for our last dinner!

Friday 8/3/19

Such a lovely week – met some new friends and caught up with some old ones!

The hotel was terrific and If I get the chance I will go back. The staff were fantastic – nothing was too much trouble and always smiling. You got the impression that it’s a great place to work as well as to visit.

With the extras, all of this came to less than £50 per night – utterly amazing!

Got home at around 8:00pm.

A Trip to…Paignton Zoo, Newquay Zoo & Living Coasts

I decided to buy an annual membership for Paignton Zoo. This allows me to pay them a visit any time I want to for a year.

Not a bad plan as Paignton Zoo is my favourite Zoo of all. The bonus is that it means I also get unlimited visits to Newquay Zoo in Cornwall and Living Coasts in Torquay. I’m also allowed one visit to Chester Zoo as well! What a bargain – less than £50 for all that.

So armed with a new camera, I decided that I would try and combine a trip to both Paignton Zoo and Newquay Zoo. (It didn’t quite work as there is so much to see at Paignton that I had to go to Newquay the next day.)

Now as Living Coasts and Newquay Zoo are smaller it was possible to combine both so the camera got a good workout.

Living Coasts is a coastal zoo and aquarium in Torquay and has Sea Lions, Otters, lots of seabirds and an aquarium.

Newquay Zoo has a pride of lions who you can get really close to.


It’s just as well there was some armoured glass, she didn’t like the camera very much!


Newquay Zoo is much more compact than Paignton but nonetheless a lovely afternoon out.


So, here we are, a couple or three months away from the ‘Brexit’  (I so hate that word!) deadline.

What do we know for sure?

  • We were lied to on a grand scale


  • The far right of the Conservative party are desperate for us to leave without a deal ( what the newspapers are calling a ‘hard brexit’).


  • The Labour leadership have been less than dynamic over the whole thing.
  • The UK is split more than ever
  • Theresa May has proved to be a ‘uniter’ – Pretty much everyone is united in their dislike of her!


  • Only 70% of the electorate voted in the referendum
  • Of the 43,000,000 entitled to vote, just 17,410,742 voted to leave (40%)
  • 25,589,258 people did not vote to leave the EU.
  • The consistency for a ‘peoples vote’ – or in other words, a second referendum has been with the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats.


Given the importance of this issue to the UK in general, would it be right to have another vote?