Friday, 30 August 2013

Been there, done that - gdsf

The next morning it was time to load up the car again and head north to Salisbury.
As we drove north from Blandford Forum we passed the site of the "Great Dorset Steam Fair" at Tarrant Hinton. There were already hundreds of caravans and motor homes parked and the Fair grounds and display vehicles were in place. The fair was ready to start tomorrow.
In Salisbury we found a parking spot and walked into town and the information centre. We asked about getting a B & B within walking distance of the town, walking distance to the station, with off street parking and within our price range.(We upped our  price limit by a few pounds).The very nice gentleman found somewhere for us and gave them a call, we were in luck - they could take us for 3 nights. We wanted 3 nights to give us a chance to recover from a day at the fair and to see around Salisbury. We were even able to buy tickets for the fair at the 'advance purchase' price. What a pleasant, efficient office.
The plan is to get the bus from outside the railway station to the fair tomorrow morning, at 9.15am and spend the whole day at the fair seeing everything. Then we can have the next day to recover and sightsee around Salisbury Cathedral and town, but if we have to (and want to) we would be able to return to the fair for a second day.
The plan went perfectly - we got the bus out to the show grounds and were delighted that the bus left the road for the parking area, and the bus stop was close to the entry gate.
We walked around and saw all of the vehicles on show

- a whole area of military vehicles,

commercial vehicles, vintage cars and motorcycles.

Fields with agricultural machines at work (and play)

We didn't go on any of the fairground rides or buy any of the 'bargains' at the auto jumble.

The sheet number of the steam engines was AWESOME.

I really didn't know that there were so many in existence. We sat and watched a parade of steam vehicles - cars, fairground wagons, steam rollers and agricultural wagons doing laps around an arena.

We walked around some huge machines pumping steam, we wandered through a few fairground rides, merry-go-rounds and bumper cars then we turned a corner and were amazed to see a whole line of hundreds of smaller (but still huge) steam engines!

We were told that before the show opened there were already 3,700 caravans (and motor homes) on site, and they were arriving continually all day. The fair covers 600 acres. The story was that by the end of the 5 days, just on ticket sales, they will have made 4 million pounds!! Added to that are the fees from stall holders - what a massive affair.
By 3.00pm the soles of our feet and our knees were starting to complain.(The ground was very hard, with coarse stubble and flint stones). We had seen all that we wanted to, we had 'done' the fair in one day.
We headed out to the bus stop and were relieved to find the bus already there waiting for the 3.15pm departure time, so we had a comfortable wait for the right time.
We were back at the B & B by 4.10pm, with our feet up.
That evening we walked into Salisbury and had dinner at 'The Thai Orchid' restaurant, which offered an evening special - 2 courses for 9.95 pounds, with free tea or coffee. Good choice - it was excellent!

The next morning and we could have a lie in - up at 8.15am. If it wasn't for the fact that breakfast finished at 8.45am we would have slept longer.
After breakfast we were in no hurry to go wandering so sat in our room reading and relaxing. We walked up to the Cathedral late morning.
The Cathedral Close is a really beautiful place and the Cathedral is just stunning.

It is huge, the details in the carvings are incredible, and inside the amazement continues. The Cloisters in particular well breath taking. I found it difficult to imagine that it was built by hand - no machines, cranes, only the manual labour of craftsmen.

(Personally though, I found Hereford Cathedral more inspiring.)

We wandered around town, doing what the tour brochures advised - holding our heads up, looking up at the wonderful buildings.

After a light lunch we walked around some more then decided to buy some fabric we'd spotted, to cover the motor home seats back in Australia. Good fabric is just so hard to find back home and this was a really good deal. The assistant was very helpful, even suggesting our postal options for getting the fabric home.
As it was quite a heavy package we went back to the B & B  rather than carry it around town.
After a few hours rest, and a cuppa, we went back into town to complete our look around and have dinner - Indian tonight.

The next morning and it was time to leave the holiday touring behind, time to head back to St Albans (then Reading) and sort things out ready to fly home.
We took a slow, scenic route via Devizes, Marlborough, Oxford and Aylesbury arriving in St Albans early afternoon.
We have ticked all the 'things to do' boxes, we don't have anything or anywhere that we haven't done or at least tried to do. We have time left for more family and friends and of course - packing.
Thank goodness for that 30 kgs baggage allowance.

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