50 things to do in 2015, in association with The Caravan Club (part five)
Document your incredible caravan holidays, eat local produce, travel back in time and more in 2015
Also read: Choose the best Caravan deal Caravan reviews Caravans for sale
Don't forget to head back to the 50 Things in 2015 homepage for parts one, two, three and four of our activities list, and make sure you match up the trips below with Caravan Club campsites too.
40 Make the memories last with a photobookMake a photo book (that’s photo album to anyone over 50!) of your best caravanning holiday, or a year of weekends away. With digital photos this is a simple job, and your images won’t fall out when the corner mounts lose their ‘stick’.
My first and, so far, only photo book recorded my son’s first seven years. And here’s what I learned – a picture may speak 1000 words but it doesn’t tell you where you were or when. Add a few short sentences and check spellings. And scan in plane tickets, menus and so on as memory joggers and for variety.
The hardest job is to narrow down all the images you want to include, so set yourself a theme and be tough – think Craig Revel Horwood! The online publishing tools are really simple to use. Just pick a book format and drag and drop your favourite pictures onto the pages.
My son is now 14 – time to record the last seven years? LM
41 Go geocaching, Motcombe, DorsetChildren and mobile phones may seem umbilically linked at times, but health by stealth is here and it’s possible to lure them out, blinking in the sunlight, to ingest lungfuls of fresh air courtesy of an app. The humble treasure hunt isn’t a new concept and, given this 21st century treatment, it’s an incredibly cost-effective way to scour parts of the country – urban or otherwise – in search of caches of various size and description.
There are even geo tours to help you explore a new area by searching for geocaches. Such is the coverage, I’ve yet to find an area devoid of cleverly hidden geocaches, which means an app can be used time and time again. Apparently, there are 2,529,277 active geocaches worldwide, which actually doesn’t sound that many. Even passing away is no barrier, it seems, with some requiring a spot of head-scratching to transform headstone dates into coordinates! LD
42 Travel back in time at the farm, Church Stretton, ShropshireSituated in picturesque countryside, the Acton Scott working farm was chosen as the primary film location for BBC 2’s hugely popular Victorian Farm series. The farm, which is largely as it was in Victorian times, was donated to Shropshire Council by owner, Thomas Acton, but the Acton family still lives on the estate, having farmed it for more than 900 years.
Visitors can mingle with their favourite animals and see heavy horses working the land with vintage farm machinery. There are also daily demonstrations from craftsmen such as the wheelwright, farrier and blacksmith, along with hand-milking and butter making. Other skills often demonstrated include bodging (wood turning using green wood), forging, pole lathing, and wheel and brick making.
The butter is used to make the famous Acton Scott cheese and pickle sandwich that you can sample in the 19th century schoolhouse, now turned into a café. TO
T 01694 781540
43 Eat local produceForget your fancy restaurants and supersized supermarket chains, top local nosh is only a stone’s throw away when you’re a caravanner – wherever you pitch! Here are a couple of tastebud teasers from Kent.
Dover Sole Named after its main port, Dover Sole is a much-loved favourite with gastronomes for its delicate, sweet taste that has inspired so many classic French dishes, such as Sole à la Meunière and Poached Sole Bonne. Ranging in size, Dover Sole can be anything from petite, sometimes known as a Tongue, to over 1kg, providing well over two portion-sized fillets. If buying a fresh whole fish, ensure the eyes are clear, the skin is shiny and firm and gills are red, not brown.
Romney Marsh Lamb Part of the landscape for over two centuries, Romney Marsh sheep have become one of the most successful breeds in the world. The sheep graze on the natural grasses and samphire on the marsh. It is this that gives the meat a richer and sweeter flavour.
Its traditional grazing method ensures the sheep produce more fat which marbles the meat, adding to the flavour and its moisture. Unfortunately, you can’t just pop to your local Morrisons, as most salt marsh lamb is taken to France to be used by top chefs. Even more reason to try it! CL
44 Climb a mini mountain, Thorpe, DerbyshireAsk a five-year-old to draw a mountain and chances are they will draw something resembling Thorpe Cloud in the Peak District – a conical limestone hill, standing 942ft high at the southern end of Dovedale. You can climb it from any side but one of the easiest routes is from Thorpe village. A short climb, steepish in places, rewards you with amazing views, overlooking the place where Dovedale and Lin Dale meet. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sun set over nearby Ilam and further west but do get down before the last of the light disappears.
A National Trust-run car park is just shy of Thorpe village and within easy walking distance of the hill. Enjoy Thorpe Cloud and the rest of the area with OS Explorer map OL24. LM
45 Try a new sport – paddle on BritainAt this time of the year most of us have already watched our New Year’s resolutions go down the drain with that last slice of cake. Exercise can seem like a drag, and particularly unpleasant when it includes an intense gym instructor and sharing the gym equipment with perhaps the sweatiest human being you’ve ever seen. Caravan’s solution… grab a paddle and kayak and head out to the middle of a lake. Brilliant for cardio and working your core muscles, but more relaxing than a half-hour slog at the treadmill. There is also less pressure on the ol’ joints!
There are many locations across the country to try out this sport but our favourite is Tallington Lakes in Lincolnshire.
The Sailing Lake provides the perfect backdrop for kayaking: a clear, freshwater lake sourced from underground springs. Weather depending, the Sailing Centre facilities are open daily from April 1st to September 30th from 9.30am to 6.30pm. The centre includes fully qualified instructors, a variety of one-person and two-person kayaks, closed cockpit kayaks as well as changing and shower facilities. CL
46 Explore Britain’s National ParksNorthumberland National Park is England’s most Northern national park and covers an area of over 400 square miles. The least populated of all the Parks in England and Wales with only 2000 residents (that’s only two people per square kilometre!), it is a peaceful environment, mostly occupied by enchanting wildlife.
However, there are reminders of its more turbulent past; the stark ruins of Harbottle and Thirwall Castle can be explored in the cascading hills. In the south, the park is bisected by the archaic Hadrian’s Wall which protected England acting as border control (that was probably more effective than Heathrow).
The park’s diverse landscapes and geology are sublime; with 1100km of paths for walking, cycling and horseriding, including two National Trails, six Special Areas of Conservation and three National Nature Reserves, there is so much to explore! CL
47 Visit a nature reserve, Slimbridge, GloucestershireWe are regular visitors to nature reserves, and among my favourites are Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire and Pensthorpe in North Norfolk. These nature reserves don’t just take you through some amazing countryside, they also give you the opportunity to get close to the wildlife, with some rare species, captive, on breeding programmes. Slimbridge is home to the rarest goose in the world – the Hawaiian Goose. They’re so tame, they run up to visitors asking for food! Pensthorpe has a wide variety of cranes.
The RSPB nature reserves around the UK are invariably beautiful areas to explore, and another reserve worthy of note is East Wretham Heath, near Thetford. I’ve never seen so many rabbits! If you go there in the autumn, you’ll be blown away by the diversity of weird and wonderful fungi. SK
T 01453 891900
48 Go on a film locations trail, Thetford, NorfolkThis Dad’s Army Trail takes you on a tour of film locations in Thetford. You can pick up a leaflet from the Dad’s Army Museum (open Saturdays, closed winter), and then follow the route to see the streets where the troops hid in dustbins, the cinema, and other key locations used in filming.
Or visit Thame during the Literary Weekend in October, and you can join a guided tour of Thame’s Midsomer Murders film locations! Thame Museum appeared in the Secrets and Spies episode, where Jones was chatted up by a curator. The coffee shop in Buttermarket is where Barnaby was kissed by a stranger in Picture of Innocence. The old town in Beaconsfield is also worth a visit if you’re a big fan of the show. SK
T 01842 751975
T 01844 212801
49 Book into a literary festival, Thame, BuckinghamshireThame Arts and Literary Festival takes place every October. In 2014 it kicked off on Wednesday night with Charles Spencer talking about the people who dared to sign Charles I’s death sentence.
Thursday night brought an evening of folk music, and then, on Friday night, we saw BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions. Jonathan Dimbleby and guests, including Michael Heseltine and Chuka Umunna, discussed their views on crime, welfare, Europe, and other hot political issues.
On Saturday there were writing workshops, author presentations, literary walks, and cinema showings. It was certainly varied, with a topical focus on WWI. Among the better-known writers speaking was the author of War Horse, Michael Morpurgo, who said, “I was inspired to write War Horse by a man who fought in WWI and told me that his best friend during the conflict was his horse.” This year the festival runs from 16-18 October. SK
50 Save someone’s lifeMy son, a keen member of the scouting movement since the age of seven, sometimes complains at how often ‘learning first aid’ crops up at meetings. But as I watch the boys who have ‘done’ first aid on numerous occasions forget the basics of the Dr’s ABC (Danger, Response, Shout, Airway, Breathing, Circulation), as do I sometimes, I realise that this is a skill that needs to be repeated and practised frequently. Only then will you have the confidence to deal with a real situation and prevent the patient’s condition worsening.
You can often acquire the skills for free through volunteering with various organisations, or at work, or pay a reasonable fee (from about £25) for a course that suits your needs.
There are three main recognised first aid organisations offering a huge variety of courses all over the UK. There’s bound to be one near you on a date that suits. LM