Two Weeks in Hungary and Romania…

We didn’t know what to expect when we chose to come to Hungary, we knew it’s capital was Budapest divided by the River Danube, but that was about it!

We bought a month e-toll pass for the roads, as so many of them are tolled or payable, without booths but cameras, it’s based on number-plate recognition, and we had been advised to keep all documentation, just in case (for a year)! Remembering to put Ditsy Daisy back on to motorways and toll roads as we crossed the border, to try and steer to the decent roads…

Our first destination was Keszthely, on the Lake Balaton. Lake Balaton, is one of the largest lakes in Europe and Keszthely has been a market town since the 1400s and is a popular holiday destination. Architecture is divided between very modern apartments and hotels, communist influenced houses, commercial centres and flats and the opulent Baroque style of the Festetics Palace, designed by an Austrian in the 1800s.

We had a walk along the lakeside and into the old town, before we headed off to Budapest. Our stop was the Camping Castrum http://www.castrum.eu/en/keszthely

We had found a campsite, in the heart of Budapest, you do pay a little more, but the city centre is walkable – we were advised by Reception to take the tram or bus, but a stroll along the Danube was pleasant and flat. We saw the River Cruise boats arriving and departing, walked up to the very touristy city centre and along to the Elizabeth Bridge (the older and iconic Chain Bridge was shut for renovation) crossing over the River, so we could say we’ve walked in both Buda and Pest, crossing back and heading back to the campsite. The roads are very busy and there is an element of smog especially in the rush hours. We found random sculptures and wall art along the way.

There is not really anything to say about the campsite – its basic – with disposal and fill up, electricity and a secure gate. There is a lack of hot water, for both dishwashing and showers and it’s cash only, as we found out on departure, resulting in a hunt for an ATM, had we been told at check-in, we could have sorted it on our trip into the city! Haller Camping https://hallercamping.hu/

Leaving Budapest, we located a motorhome accessory store and headed along the bumpy and unloved roads to the suburbs to purchase a new cycle cover, ours had ripped beyond repair during our trip – possibly due to the poorly maintained roads combined with the hot summer at home.

Our next stop, was the town of Eger. We chose the Tulipan Camp Site https://www.tulipancamping.com/ a short walk to the city centre, with lovely architecture and a city square, surrounded by shops and cafes.

We bought a toll ticket for the Romanian Roads and headed over the border the next day. Leaving Hungary, the Border Police will stamp your passport and check the V5, Vehicle Log Book, then you move on to the next window and Romanian Border Control do the same – they are not a happy bunch and as we waited, they smoked! In total our crossing at Petea took about ten minutes, though. We headed into the town, bought groceries and headed for our overnight stop at Camping Norac, Sacalaseni. A lovely little site, but due to the amount of rain, the pitches hadn’t been cut and the ground a little boggy in places, but the facilities were lovely. This was our first trip to Romania and the amount of stray dogs was overwhelming, making walking an over-excitable Reg a bit of a nightmare.

We headed on to Cluj-Napoca and a campsite we had found, but on arrival the entrance driveway was way too steep for our motorhome so we found another, which is now a building site. We checked where we were heading to and found another campsite at the town of Turda. Slightly quirky, but with great hosts, Camping La Foisor https://lafoisor.com/ was a welcome stop.

The next morning, we headed off again, along the motorway (do be prepared to check for pot holes on these roads too, they do tend to be highlighted by cones but several are very deep) to Sibiu. The camperstop we found, was unlocatable, we have got used to the fact that this may well be a theme for our trip, so found another, in the village of Cisnadie. Here, we first saw the warning signs for bears (and wild dogs were not as frequent – don’t know if the two are connected, but…) The campsite has amazing views of the mountains and the sunrise was great. Camping Ananas https://www.ananas7b.de/ is an ideal stop, before starting the Transfăgărășan Highway.

One of the reasons we had come to Romania, was to drive the Transfăgărășan Highway, we’d first seen it on Top Gear in 2009, and never thought it was somewhere we’d be able to get to but time is now on our side. We had a great drive south along the route (road number DN7C), crossing the Fagaras Mountains, deep in Transylvania, stopping at several places along the way to look at the view and infamous hairpin bends. The highest point of the route is lake Balea at 2040 metres. A tunnel marks the road summit joining the two sides of the lake.

Our stop for the night was in Curtea de Arges, at a little campsite called Camping Curtea Arges http://www.camping-arges.ro/ro/ another quirky little site, on the edge of the village, but back with roaming stray dogs and bears and wolves!

It was here we decided to stop our Romanian Road Trip, our hopes of getting to the Black Sea and Bucharest were set aside. The driving experience on general roads was not enjoyable. The road surfaces are unmaintained, potholes are everywhere, the locals stop at the level crossings, not just to check for trains, but also to find the safe crossing route across the tracks. Drivers do not seem to have any idea of safety, if it says no over taking – it is generally an indication that they will, blind bend, hill summit or village are no reasons to slow down! We headed back towards Hungary.

Added to the mix, the lack of campsites (either open or locatable) was making our drives longer and longer, we found a very late stop at Arad – Camping Route Roemenie, in Minis https://www.eurocampings.co.uk/romania/minis/campsite-route-roemenie-118083/Having arrived at one we had located to find it closed for the season, despite the website saying otherwise. More rain and a very wet pitch, we stopped on our traction tracks just to make sure we could leave. The showers have a warning of 3 minutes of hot water, so we used the motorhome facilities instead!

Back to Hungary, the following day and our crossing point this time was the much busier at Nadlac. We arrived to a long queue and four lanes of traffic, finding the right lane – All Passports, by walking along the lane and directing Ric to the right one – holding the traffic behind us to allow us to change lanes and about an hour to get to the border, where we were stamped out of Romania and back into the Schengen Zone – two Border Posts agan, just wanting passports and the V5, nothing for the dog! and we were back in Hungary heading to the town of Szeged, where the campsite looked amazing on the website, but was a total disappointment – on the edge of the river Camping Szeged https://www.eurocampings.co.uk/hungary/csongrad/szeged/ has amazing views of the city ad a good walk will take you to the busy centre. Our arrival was fine, with a slightly dour check-in at Reception, we located our pitch and then discovered that English Gypsy Travellers had taken over the sanitary block with their kids, dogs and washing machines! We asked at Reception, where to fill up with water but couldn’t locate the tap, so made do. As our stay continued more of the campsite was closed off, so we headed off towards Croatia.

Our next and final stop in Hungary, was at the town of Harkany. A thermal spa town with a slight Cocoon feeling (if you’re old enough to know the film https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088933/ People of various ages were walking along the streets to the Thermal baths in their bath robes! The campsite is located behind the Drava Hotel and check-in is in the Reception, there. https://www.eurocampings.co.uk/hungary/baranya/harkany/termal-kemping-harkany-100583/

The water rises from the ground at 60°F, and walking Reg in the morning, steam was rising from the manholes!

We’re off to Croatia, another Border Crossing out of the Schengen Zone beckons… As always, thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and well and we’ll be back with Croatian update soon…

Back to Europe – a meander to Hungary.

We’ve set off on our next tour – we’re heading to Hungary, but we’re not in a rush to get there! Our route will take us through France to Germany, across Austria and into Hungary. As always, we don’t have a set route but a vague idea!

We arrived at the Tunnel in good time and headed to the Pet Check-In, where we hit our first problem, Reg’s Animal Health Certificate (AHC) didn’t have the date of his microchip so there was no proof he’d had it inserted before he had his Rabies vaccination. Luckily, we had his puppy and vaccination records with us and we were able to prove the date of both. We were on our way, a quick stop for a breakfast bap at Leon and we were on a much earlier train than we’d booked. As normal, the crossing was eventless (not a bad thing, baring in mind the week before there was an evacuation of the train) and our arrival in France was upon us.

Leaving the tunnel, we headed on the autoroute to Felleries and a Camping-Car Park Aire, https://www.campingcarpark.com/en_GB/ , on the edge of the village, on the site of the old municipal camping ground and the old station. At the entrance is a monument of the elephant, Jenny, who was brought to the town to aid the German war effort in the First World War, by moving logs and even righting an overturned train. She must have meant a lot to the people of the village, as an elephant is part of the town logo. In the town itself, there is a cafe, grocery store and museum. A little further out of the village is a bakery, it’s a short-ish walk, perfect for a dog walk!

Our next stop, was at Charny-sur-Meuse, another Camping-Car Park Aire, next to the river Meuse and not far from the town of Verdun. We walked around the town of Bras-sur-Meuse, along the canal into the village via a French National War Cemetery and along the high street to another bakery, before returning back to the stopover.

Heading further south, we stopped at the thermal spa town of Contrexéville, in the Vosges mountains and the Camping-Car Park Aire, just outside the town. It is next door to a large campsite, and a short walk down to the spa town. After Contrexéville, we travelled towards the German border and the Camping-Car Park Aire at the Île du Rhin, right in the middle of the Rhine River and on the border. A short walk to the local town, took us into Germany and the town of Breisach.

Germany beckons and a trip through the Black Forest to Bavaria. The first part of our journey was thwarted with roadworks and diversions, including a 16 Km one through the mountains! We arrived at our chosen campsite, to be met with a site, which we didn’t really like the look of, so we set off again and found a nice site, Campinghof Salem https://www.campingcarpark.com/en_GB/ outside the town of Salem near Lake Konstanz. There are a number of walking and cycling routes from the site and the local town is within walking distance.

Onwards to Bavaria, and the lovely camping site Campingplatz Dummerhof https://www.campingplatz-demmelhof.de/ right on the lake, with a lovely restaurant and bar, fresh bread is available in the morning. The lake has a beach area and is safe for swimming and paddling. This is one we’ve added to our list to return to! On our route we passed close to the Zeppelin Museum and in the sky there was a Zeppelin flying – not something you see every day!

Austria beckons and we’ve headed to the town of Mayrhofen. Over the border there is a big dam and reservoir, the Tegernsee, with a big viewing platform. We travelled through the Tyrolean mountains into Mayrhofen and the campsite https://www.campingplatz-tirol.at/en/. Located at the edge of the town, it’s a short walk up to the town centre, with a lot of shops and attractions, including the Mountopolis attraction, with summer and winter activities. https://www.mayrhofen.at/en/pages/mountopolis-mountain-experience-summer

Next, we travelled east to the town of Maishofen, and the campsite Camping Bad Neunbrunnen https://www.camping-neunbrunnen.at/ where they now offer a stellplatz style camping stop, be aware it is cash only, and Austria doesn’t seem to have many free cash points – and they vary in cost of transaction! The campsite has a large lake, which can be swum in (and people did, but….)! The views of the mountains were spectacular and the morning sunshine poked through the clouds.

Continuing our journey eastwards, our next stop was in the village of Aigen im Enstall https://www.camping-putterersee.at/en/ I think I came here as a schoolgirl skiing, but 40 years is a long time to remember! There are a lot of walks, hikes and cycle routes around and a short drive away is the mountain activity centre, Dachstein. A walk into the village, will take you along the lake, where there are various activities taking place – including swimming – the lake is the warmest in Austria, apparently, Further reading informs us, that the water quality is excellent due to the boggy bottom (that’s enough to put me off swimming in it – along with the midges around the lake edge) and it was used to dispose of armaments, at the end of the Second World War, as the Allies approached.

Our final stop in Austria, was the village of Burgau, and the campsite Schloss Burgau – we have been here before on our trip south in 2019. As we put our destination in to Ditsy Daisy Sat Nav, she informed us that we would enter an environmental zone (like the LEZ – low emissions zone – in England), checking on the internet, Austria doesn’t sign these zones, but there is a fine for not having the appropriate badges displayed on vehicles. We made a trip to a local authorised seller, and added another badge to our windscreen.

As we awoke on our last morning in Austria, we were greeted by the sight of hot air balloons above the village, a fitting farewell. So for now it’s Tschüss Österreich – bis später (Bye Austria, see you soon)!

As always, thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and well and we’ll update you from our next stop – Hungary!

Our Tour of Southern England – Part 2 & 3: Lynton to Exeter (Our Tour of Wales Part 7 & 8) and on to Sturminster Newton, before heading back to Sussex.

Rain, Rain, go away, come again another day…. We’re heading south in search of the sun! (Update as I write, be careful of what you wish for – we are currently in the middle of an amber extreme weather warning for heat with the temperature currently rising to 29°C – it’s 11:00a.m in England).

We have chosen to stay at Plymouth Sound Motorhome and Caravan Club Site, overlooking the Sound and watching Brittany Ferries, cross-channel ferries, arrive and depart wishing we were on them to head back out to see more sites and continue our trips (technically, I’m glad we aren’t on them, as I don’t sail too well, without seasickness meds, but I’m sure you understand what I’m saying)!!

Plymouth Sound Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Site https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/devon-and-cornwall/devon/plymouth-sound-club-campsite/ is located in the village of Downs Thomas, overlooking The Sound, with great views, when the weather allows! A short walk down the hill takes you to the beach and part of it is dog friendly and on to the Coast Path. The village has a pub, local store and Post Office and the local bus stops outside the shop to take you on to Plymouth or the surrounding areas. The Club Site Shop stocks local Pasties from the Pasty Maid, advance order – Monday and Fridays.

Leaving Plymouth Sound we headed to Newton Abbot and the CMC Site at Stover https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/devon-and-cornwall/devon/stover-club-campsite/. Located on the edge of the Stover Country Park, with lovely walks and a lake. We followed the Heritage Trail up to The Canadian Forestry Corps World War I Statute. The Canadian Forestry Corps was affectionately known as the Sawdust Fusiliers and was made up of 1600 Canadians, drafted over to help fell trees for the troops in France and Belgium. Our short walk turned into a 4 mile trail, up to the Stover Canal – a disused canal and over the railway, which doesn’t look like its been used in a while, but take care crossing, just in case! We arrived on the right day to get an lovely wood-fired pizza from Sid’s Woodfired Pizza, who just happened to be at Stover CAMC, on Wednesdays https://www.facebook.com/sidswoodfiredpizza/ Whilst in Newton Abbot, we attempted to buy rear brake pads, from Euro Parts, but apparently they don’t stock them! However a very friendly person in Halfords directed us to their website, where we ordered them from EuroParts to be delivered to our next stop – Exeter.

A short drive up the road to Exeter, we collected the previously ordered brake pads and checked in at Exeter Racecourse CMC Site https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/devon-and-cornwall/devon/exeter-racecourse-club-campsite/. Located in the centre of the Racecourse, you are able to walk the course too, along the road, unless it’s race day. It’s a very popular site for stopovers to and from Cornwall and the Ferry to France and Spain, with lovely helpful and friendly staff too. The facilities are a little dated, but owned by the racecourse, and spotlessly clean. Whilst here, we thought we’d change the brake pads. We borrowed a Torque Wrench from another camper and removed one of the wheels, only to find the pads were the wrong size! But, we did discover that they aren’t worn as much as we thought so still have plenty of life (miles) left! We opted to stay another night here, the weather was heating up and we were settled! It was here that we were the victims of fraud – a phone call with a lot of personal information supplied by the fraudster, meant I let my guard down, we will let you know more soon, but we are still awaiting the investigation results. As far as we are aware, it has been sorted, but it’s very quiet out there….

We returned to EuroParts and returned the brake pads, before we headed east to Sturminster Newton and a CMC Certified Location, aptly called What a View https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/dorset/sturminster-newton/what-a-view-cl/. If the weather had been a bit cooler the village was a short distance away and we could have walked in to see it, but we were walking the dog before 08:00, along the very pretty footpaths and bridleways as it was much too early for the village to open up! We did, however, drive in when we left, and visit the lovely Oxfords Bakery for lunch on the road. We had been trying to find somewhere, affordable, for our next few days but many were full, so we decided to cut our losses and return to Sussex and the local Slinfold CMC site https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/south-east-england/west-sussex/slinfold-club-campsite/ – it was a bit of a drive in the heat, but gave us a good base to sit out the expected increasing weather temperatures.

Slinfold CMC site is one of our go-to sites. It is close to home and family and being volunteer run and without a toilet block, is only £17.00 per night- a significant difference to the larger sites in August, charging over £40.00 a night. The weather did heat up and we were able to sit it out with our newly acquired sun shade attached to the awning (a much welcomed Father’s Day present). We also parked up facing east instead of our usual west facing preference! It was hot though…

As always, thank you for reading we hope you and your families are safe and well and have survived the heat, hopefully the much needed rain will arrive as expected and cool us down a touch. We’ll be back soon, with more news and updates…

Our Tour of Wales – Part 6: Highbridge to Lynton – now technically, Our Tour of Southern England – Part 1!

Leaving Bason Bridge and the lovely Malthouse Farm CL, we headed along the coast to one of our favourite places, Minehead, Somerset, and the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site,https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/southern-england/somerset/minehead-club-campsite/ just on the edge of the town, but close to all the amenities. One of our reasons for stopping is the lovely China Garden, chinese takeaway – cash only, and hygiene rated 5 – as well as the vast beach (no dogs May – September) and the harbour. Minehead also has 160 Metal Heads to spot (there is a map available at the Tourist Information Centre) https://www.mineheadbay.co.uk/point-of-interest/minehead-metal-heads-1 We thought there were several more than last time and research proved us right!

Our next stop, was the Camping and Caravanning Club Site at Lynton. https://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/campsites/uk/devon/lynton/lynton-camping-and-caravanning-club-site/ Located at the top of the hill (it is very steep and you do need to plan your trip), the last time we got a bus back, but this time we thought we’d walk – ever wish you hadn’t? Even Reg was flagging at the top! We walked down to the Valley of the Rocks, and along the coast path, spotting the goats on the cliffs, before arriving at the bridge over the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway – a water powered funicular railway which joins the two towns. We headed into the town and began our ascent back to the campsite… The following day, the weather changed and rain set in, so we caught up with a few chores and planned our next leg of the journey, where we go will be in the next round up!

As always, thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and well and enjoying reading our brief catch-ups!

Our Tour of Wales – Part 4: Trefor, Gwynedd to Penrherber, Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire

Our Tour of Wales continues and we’ve been to some lovely places this week, we’ve started heading south along the coast…

Leaving Trefor and the amazing views across the Llyn Peninsula, we headed to Llanystumdwy and the Camping and Caravanning Site. A little further inland than we’ve been recently, it was an ideal chance to get some chores done! The sea is just visible from the campsite and you can walk to it, a short walk will also take you to the town of Criccieth (or you can get a bus)! We walked down to see the grave of David Lloyd George, British Prime Minister 1916 – 1922 (our third PM grave to date), opposite his grave is the Museum dedicated to him, too. The village, itself doesn’t have a lot, there is a pub and a school! https://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/campsites/uk/gwynedd/criccieth/llanystumdwy-camping-and-caravanning-club-site/

From Llanystumdwy, we headed down the coast to the town of Barmouth, were had read about Wales’ Number One Fish and Chip Shop – The Mermaid Fish Bar http://themermaidfishbarbarmouth.co.uk/ and felt it would have been rude not to give it a try. It is definitely worth the wait in the queue. We have subsequently discovered that the Times Newspaper have voted the Mermaid number 2 in the United Kingdom, now there’s another challenge afoot! Barmouth has a lovely sandy beach and although the main part is not dog friendly, there is a part near to the harbour where dogs are allowed, and at the time of our visit the beach side car park was big enough for us to park up in – it is pay and display, and no overnighting!

We continued our journey south and to the little village of Bow Street, just outside Aberystwyth and a Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Certified Location (CL) Cae Ceiro https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/wales/ceredigion/aberystwyth/cae-ceiro/. Located next to a Guest House of the same name, and about a mile from the local shop, but along the way you’ll pass the pub, butcher’s shop, chinese (cash only) and Fish and Chip Shop. Walking along the footpath, which runs along the side of the CL, passing over the railway line, you can head up through the fields and along the road to St. Michael’s Church at Llandre, where you can pick up the Poetry Path, dedicated to local poets. The churchyard also has a 2000+ year old Yew Tree.

From Llantre, we continued our journey south and to another new CL, Terfyn Mawr https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/wales/carmarthenshire/newcastle-emlyn/terfyn-mawr/, in the hamlet of Penrherber, outside Newcastle Emlyn, with views across the countryside to the Cardigan Coast. Our hosts, Gerald and Hazel, have created a wonderful little CL, complete with a spotless shower and toilet room. Although the CL was only opened in May this year, it is just beautiful. The grass pitches have been arranged to maximise the view and the sunsets from your pitch are stunning. The grass properly cut and like carpet under your feet. Walking Reg from the campsite, the lanes are so quiet, that you don’t need to fight your way along the overgrown footpaths. There is a Cheese Farm nearby – walking distance, downhill! https://www.cawscenarth.co.uk/ This is now our Number One CL (apologies to the others but)… Unfortunately, we have another site booked so couldn’t extend our stay, we will be back, probably scheduling our other stops around this one.

As always, thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and well and managing to stay cool in the weather we have at the moment in the UK. We’ll be back soon with more from our tour of Wales.

Our Tour of Wales – Part Two: Aberbran to Bala

Leaving Aberbran, we headed north and up to the town of Llanidloes. We’d chosen to stay at a Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Certified Location (CL) and Upper Glandulas Caravan Park did not disappoint! Located about a 20 minute walk from the town centre, on a working farm, you wake to the sight of sheep around you. https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/wales/powys/llanidloes/upper-glandulas/In addition there are Red Kites which liked to land in the trees nearby (and at times, it felt, follow us into the town)!

Walking into town we found it was steeped in history, and dates back to the 7th Century, when the Celtic Saint Idloes, founded a church by the RIver Severn. The Normans invaded in the 11th Century and established a motte and bailey castle, now the site of a Pub! Edward I granted the town a Market Charter in 1280 (there is still a market on Saturdays). In the centre of the town, at the junction of the four main roads is the old Market Hall, on stilts and dating back to 1612, and is the only surviving timber framed market hall in Wales, in its original location. The source of the River Severn is located about 10 miles away in the Cambrian mountains; Llanidloes, is the first town on the river. You can walk the length of the River on the Severn Way, from source to sea.

Leaving Llanidloes, we took a detour up to the Clywedog Reservoir and Dam, there are walks and viewpoints around it. We continued our journey up to Newtown and Welshpool, before finding our next stop outside the village of Berriew. Glandir CL, is located, a short walk from the Montgomery Canal, along which you can walk to the village centre, about 30 minutes, or Welshpool about 3 miles – there is a bus back! Berriew has a selection of pubs, a village store, butcher’s shop, cafe and Sculpture Museum. https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/wales/powys/llanidloes/upper-glandulas/

Our next stop this week, was the Camping and Caravanning Club Site at Bala. We had assumed that the Bala CCC Site, was in Bala, but it was actually 3 miles away. Next time we visit, we will find the campsite on the Lake! That said, we upgraded our pitch to electric and chilled over the weekend, with the British Grand Prix and Laundry (Ric the former and me the latter, but I do love clean clothes and am a little partial to ironing)!

We’re heading of again on Monday, continuing Our Tour of Wales. As always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are safe and well and have some inspiration from our little tales of our travels. We’ll be back soon, (as WiFi and 4G permit in these mountainous parts!)…

Our Tour of Wales 2022 – Week One: Sussex to Powys

Setting off on a slightly overcast Sunday morning, having said our farewells to family, we headed north west to Wiltshire and Royal Wootton Bassett. We had found a Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Certified Location (CL) at a Fishery. Flaxlands Fishery is a short walk to the main town and the CL is located at the top of the site, with spectacular sunsets, but it’s not very dog friendly. There is a dog walk which is along the side of the M4 (it is fenced from the road, but I always worry there might be a gap and a return walk inside a conifer corridor. The back of the CL leads to a footpath, which given the time of year was through haylage awaiting harvesting – Reg loves running in the long grasses, not to good for his new found hay fever but.. As the next footpath was unwalkable in shorts (nettles and brambles adorned the stile) we could only walk a straight walk out and return the same route, according to the fishery map, dogs are not allowed to walk through the fishery even on the roadway! so a round trip was not possible walking along the road.

Leaving Wiltshire, we headed north to Gloucestershire and our happy place, Tewkesbury. Staying at the CAMC Tewkesbury Abbey Site (again), we relaxed, had some lovely walks, some we’d done before and others not. We walked part of the Battle Trail and River Walk, but not the Severn Ham (this time)! On one of our walks, we even saw a couple walking their…..tortoise! https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/cotswolds/gloucestershire/tewkesbury-abbey-club-campsite/

We did venture into the Abbey, however! It was a very hot day, and for the first time in all our visits to Tewkesbury, the doors were open, so we were just going to have a sneaky peak, but it’s dog friendly – dogs are welcome INSIDE! A great relief from the rising humidity and heat outside. Tewkesbury Abbey in parts dates back to the 12th Century, and was built to house Benedictine Monks. The build was started in 1102 and it was almost complete when it was consecrated in 1121. As always, Ric is fascinated by engineering and found two Gurney Stoves, made by the London Warming and Ventilation Company in the 19th Century, to provide heat by burning anthracite, and have now been converted to gas. https://www.tewkesburyabbey.org.uk/visiting-the-abbey/

Our next stop, and we’re still not in Wales, was the World’s First Book Town, Hay-on-Wye. Home to over 20 bookshops and a castle. We had a wonder around the town, walking up the little roads and twitterns. We ventured up into the castle – again dog friendly – and home to the oldest set of working defensive doors still in situ in the UK, having been first installed in the 13th century. We walked along the river walk as well as through some of the fantastic countryside. There is even another gold post box (our second one found), for Jody Pearson, a paralympian discus thrower.

Our stop for the night was a lovely CAMC CL – Dark Orchard. It is off grid, but in a large secure field about a 5 minute walk from the town centre and so peaceful, with a stream running along the edge. The owners Linda and Chris are so welcoming as is the official welcome you will receive from Linda’s father, Pete the Greet. This is on our list to return to (especially as we have had a whole list of more things to do and see)! https://www.no10dulas.co.uk/dark_orchard_cl/

Leaving Hay-on-Wye, we crossed the River Wye and into Wales! It was only a short drive to our next stop and a short detour to Brecon first. Each time we have arrived at Brecon, we have been drenched and this trip was no different. Stepping out of the motorhome and taking two steps, prompted the biggest downpour yet! Having stocked up with food and essentials, we headed to our next stop, Aberbran CMC Site. A short drive from the A40 and alongside the edge of an old railway line, unfortunately the old railway is not a walkway, like Slinfold CMC, but we did manges to find a walk through the countryside. https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/wales/powys/aberbran-club-campsite/ The weather has yet to improve, although the rain has abated, the wind has picked up, gusting up to 30+ MPH, the awning was safely stowed early in the morning, having read it is only tested up to 20MPH!

As always, thank you for reading and we hope you and your families are safe and well. We’ll be continuing Our Tour of Wales, and hopefully we’ll be able to keep you updated as we go!

Back in Blighty… Chores and Family

When we returned from Europe, we knew we had a few things to sort out. Arriving back at Gatwick Caravan Club Site, we made arrangements for Reg’s annual vaccinations, and more importantly the Motorhome needs it’s first MOT! We’ve been on the road for nearly three years – how time flies. So far, we’ve travelled to so many places in England and the UK as well as in Europe, survived the COVID lockdowns in our first and second year and have slowly but surely become more efficient in the way we do things – a shower for example when we’re in the motorhome is far quicker than one in an unmetered campsite (luxury), we have adapted more and more to being off-grid, although power is lovely, it’s not essential.

Next, we arranged to have the brake discs and rear tyres changed – in our last post you’ll remember the issues we had with the brakes, well it’s all sorted now! We haven’t yet had to change the rear tyres but after 43000 miles, they were beginning to show signs of wear and while still legal, we didn’t want a recommendation on the MOT advice note. We were also able to get the part for the chassis, we’d been waiting so long for, you might remember from a post, last year, we were waiting for the part to materialise from Italy, but it never did, this year though we only had to wait ten days, luckily we have a very good friend who is a mechanic and can sort all our little issues (except a post COVID Italy delay)!

While we waited for all these to be completed, we’ve stayed at a number of local sites – some we’ve been to before, some very new to us, but now very familiar:

  • Gatwick Caravan and Motorhome Club Site;
  • Goffsland Farm Caravan and Motorhome Club Site Certified Location;
  • Slinfold Caravan and Motorhome Club Site;
  • Slindon Camping and Caravanning Club Site; and
  • Brighton Caravan and Motorhome Club Site.

Gatwick CMC Site, is very close to the runway – if you don’t sleep well, we wouldn’t advise it, but it’s handy for us to get a curry from our absolutely favourite Curry House – you have to order via Just Eat but…. Ric has been eating from this handy takeaway for over 40 years and me for nearly 20. Thank you The Raj Tandoori http://www.rajtandooricrawley.co.uk/. It is also close to our Vet, mechanic and family

Goffsland Farm CL – an absolute gem of a CL, with a shower and toilet along with a washing machine! Located between Southwater and Shipley, we found it by accident and have been back twice in the month! It’s a Cattle Farm, primarily and also sells fresh produce – home reared lamb burgers, pork sausages and eggs as well as jam, honey and cheese sourced locally. There are footpaths all around so Reg was kept out of mischief!

Slinfold Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, one of our go to favourites, no shower block, but electricity, a local village within walking distance, the Downs Link cycle and footpath, numerous footpaths and a laid back atmosphere – we do have to call ahead as we are quite long – the site has an 8 metre maximum length and not all the pitches are over 7 metres! BUT, they’ve always managed to accommodate us. It is staffed by volunteers.

Slindon Camping and Caravanning Club Site – located within the National Trust Slindon Estate, nestled in the South Downs, there are so many walks and things to see. There is a thatched railway carriage and a house once lived in by the Writer and Poet Hilaire Belloc and his wife, we walked up to the Folly, which you can see from the road outside the campsite, it was built in 1814,to impress the Countess of Newburgh, who would take her four horse drawn wagonette there to take tea with her friends – as you do (or did back in the day)! We liked this little gem so much we went back here twice too!

Brighton Caravan and Motorhome Club Site – what is there to say, close to the city, the sea and the Downs. The Marina is walking or cycling distance, there is a bus stop nearby which will take you into the city centre and beyond. I love it as it is close to my hairdresser and appointments are always made when there is availability on site! It is also close to more of our family and meeting up for birthdays, dog walks or just to say hello is ideal.

We’re heading off on another tour on Sunday, this time to Wales, before we decide when and where we go next – Europe beckons but no decisions yet. First, we have goodbyes to say, hopefully we’ll be keeping you up to date with our tour of Wales very soon. As always thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and well…

France April 2022: à bientôt !

Heading North through France

Having crossed the border through the Somport Tunnel, our first stopover was a free Aire in Oloron-Sainte-Marie, a lovely town in the Pyrenees, with links back to the Roman times. A walk alongside the river takes you into the town and up towards the cathedral. From Oloron-Sainte-Marie, we headed along the foothills of the Pyrenees to Lourdes. Having visited Fátima, in Portugal, it felt almost rude not to visit, however the Grotto and Sanctuary of Our Lady are not dog-friendly! We chose to stop at Camping La Forêt https://campsite-lourdes.camping-hautes-pyrenees.com/ which is a short walk to the Sanctuary – although we couldn’t go in with the dog, we wandered to the Cathedral and peered in from outside the fence!

Leaving Lourdes we headed to the town of Auch. Located in the Occitanie region of France, and the capital of the Gers region, it is another town steeped in history. The municipal aire, is located on the edge of the old town and walking along the riverside Promenade Claude Desbois you arrive at the Monumental Staircase – 374 steps upwards, linked by three terraces with a statue of Charles de Batz-Castelmore d’Artagnan, a real 17th-century musketeer who inspired Alexandre Dumas’ novels and lived in Auch. There are many things to see and do – our inspiration was taken from this blog: https://www.thecrazytourist.com/15-best-things-auch-france/

From Auch we travelled to the little village of Roquecourbe and a Camping Car Park site on the river Augout. A short walk along the river takes you into the village with its Mairie, Village Square and local shops. It is also a short drive from the town of Castres. https://www.campingcarpark.com/en_GB/stay/camping/occitanie/81-tarn/roquecourbe Leaving Roquecourbe, we headed back to Castres and on to Albi, where after a quick lunch we stopped to clean the incredibly dirty roof of Nortia! We’d been hunting for a car wash with a gantry, so we could reach and a day where it was neither too hot, or wet. The car wash at AJP Eco Lavage, was just perfect.

We continued our journey along the D999 to Millau. We chose to stay at a campsite, but although the campsite was nice, it wasn’t much better than the Camping Car Parks and Aires, we’d been using and we opted to stay another night at the Camping Car Park, just along the River, after a very expensive trip along the Viaduct. Just to let you know there are a number of campsites in and around Millau, but the one we chose wasn’t right for us! https://www.campingcarpark.com/en_GB/stay/stopover-site-motorhome/occitanie/12-aveyron/millau Be aware this does get very busy, but it is perfect for the town and the river.

Continuing our journey northwards and to the town of Mur-de-Barrez, on the edge of the Aveyron/Cantal regions. Another Camping Car Park, on the site of the old Municipal Campsite, a short walk from the historic medieval town, the Monaco Tower (which was visited by Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco) https://www.campingcarpark.com/en_GB/stay/stopover-site-motorhome/occitanie/12-aveyron/mur-de-barrez

Into the Limousin Region and a region we hadn’t really visited before, another region we will definitely return to, with the Massif Central mountains, cattle and vast countryside. Our first stop was on the edge of Lac de la Siauve, just outside the town of Lanobre, before we headed to the town of Bugeat and a lovely family run campsite, on the edge of the town – Camping aux Portes des Mille Sources https://www.camping-en-correze.com/ This is a site we want to return to. We arrived for two nights over Easter (and left four days later)!

Our next stop was the lovely village of Dun-le-Palestel and the campsite of the same name –https://www.campingdunlepalestel.fr/fr/ It is run by a Dutch family and a relatively new campsite, but it’s lovely – there is a wood next door and the village is a short walk, but follow the back roads and not the main road!

We continued our tour of the Limousin up to the town of Bourges, where we had found an Aire to stopover; however in true Three go Travelling style, the Aire was closed due to an Easter Festival, so we headed north to the Town of Aubigny-sur-Nère, where we’d found an aire in the All the Aires book (our tale is now beginning to sound like Goldilocks – the aire was closed due to falling trees! However, there was a campsite just up the road, so we opted to stay the night there!

What a find! Aubigny-sur-Nère the town and the campsite- Camping Des Étangs https://www.camping-aubigny.com/ Aubigny sur Nère is located in the Eastern part of the Loire Valley and has a long attachment to Scotland and the Auld Alliance (an alliance made in 1215 between France and Scotland with a treaty between John Balliol and King Philip IV of France, stating that if either were attacked by England they would invade English territory). Aubigny-sur-Nère is the only place which still celebrates the alliance on Bastille Day each year. The town is steeped in history and a walk along the Étangs and the river takes you into the heart of the town via the site of the old Lavarie, at the side of the river. We arrived for one night and left four nights later, having spent a day fishing (Ric) and exploring the old town.

We continued our journey north and to another Camping Car Park in Château-Renault, in the Centre Val de Loire region. It’s another old municipal campsite, but right in the heart of the town with the Mairie on top of the hill and local shops and Swimming Pool nearby. https://www.campingcarpark.com/en_GB/stay/camping/centre-val-de-loire/37-indre-et-loire/chateau-renault

Coming down the hills into Château-Renault, we had noticed a warning light for the brakes and also a grinding noise, which continued as we headed to Le Mans. We had chosen to stop at a free aire on the edge of the old town walls of the City of Le Mans and as we were stopped a further investigation of the brakes, meant a trip to get replacement pads (and discs, ideally). First, we explored the old town, which was an old Roman Town, up the steps to the Cathedral and back down through the cobbled streets with half timbered houses and back to the river Sarthe, through the tunnel, built in the nineteenth century – one of Le Mans’ biggest civil engineering feats.

The next morning we headed to Euromaster, we like ATS when we are at home, so this seemed like a good place to start, but no, they can’t help, but they assured us that Norauto could help, so off we went – no they can’t help, but they said definitely BestDrive would be able to do it, so off we went again, and guess what? No! We were sent to Fiat! Yes they had the pads, but we should also buy the discs too, ok how much? We don’t have the discs in stock!!! So, we bought the pads, declined fitting were advised not to change the discs on their forecourt (the thought had not even occurred to us) and headed out of town (driving around the city four times was enough for anyone, but we will return one day). A quick note, although the Aire is free, they do charge for water, so arrive with some! We used their disposal point and cleaned up with a bottle or two of our onboard water.

Thirty kilometres or so, south of Le Mans, we stopped at another Camping Car Park in the village of Mansigné. Mainly, this was because it was secure and flat and a hardstanding so we could change the brake pads, (it is recommended to change both pads and discs at the same time, but we couldn’t buy them and we knew we were taking the motorhome to be MOT’d on our return and the discs would be changed in a couple of weeks! https://www.campingcarpark.com/en_GB/stay/stopover-site-motorhome/pays-de-la-loire/72-sarthe/mansigne The Camping Car Park at Mansigné, is right next to a very large Lake, it reminded us of the Loch at Forfar and perfect to walk around. A couple of minutes walk in the opposite direction and you are in the village too!

As we continued our trip north, we felt happier that the brakes were now fully functioning and we would be able to wait for our return to the UK to change the discs. With a slight detour to the Château de la Motte-Husson, in Martigné-sur-Mayenne, home to Dick and Angel Strawbridge, off the telly – https://thechateau.tv/ where we think, we might have even seen Dick in the garden!

No we didn’t go in, we weren’t invited we stopped at the end of the driveway and took some photos! We chose to stop at another Camping Car Park, in Ambrières-les-Vallées. The site is alongside a very pretty river and a short walk up the hill takes you to the village centre, another perfect stop. https://www.campingcarpark.com/en_GB/stay/stopover-site-motorhome/pays-de-la-loire/53-mayenne/ambrieres-les-vallees-la-varenne

It’s getting close to heading back to the UK and we needed to find a vet to take Reg back with us! Our next stop was a site we stayed at before Camping Sous Les Etoiles, https://www.sous-les-etoiles.camp/ in St Martin des Besaces, Calvados, Normandy. It’s a lovely campsite and if time had been on our side we might have stayed longer, but the tunnel beckons and once Reg has seen the vet we have 120 hours to get back to the UK. If you’re in the region and need a vet, we can recommend Clinique Vétérinaire de la Détourbe https://veterinaireconde-torigni.fr/ There is no need to book an appointment, Monday – Friday 08:30 – 09:30; 14:00 – 15:30 and 17:00 – 18:30 and Saturdays 08:30 – 09:30. It’s a short walk into the village with local shops and a garage and Pizza Vending Machine (which we can also recommend-we bought ours cold and heated it in the oven).

Next stop, the Normandy Coast and the City of Caen, the Camping Car Park is next to the Caen Memorial, but be aware, the service point is outside the gates, so fill up before you enter (or it’s a costly mistake if you try to leave and fill up)! The site is located next to a large park too and a short walk to the city centre. Although you have to pay to enter the museum, the gardens are free and we enjoyed a walk before opening time and the crowds arrived. https://www.campingcarpark.com/en_GB/stay/stopover-site-motorhome/normandie/14-calvados/caen

Three more nights left of our first post Brexit and post COVID trip, next stop Evreux. Yes, another Camping Car Park https://www.campingcarpark.com/en_GB/stay/stopover-site-motorhome/normandie/27-eure/evreux Evreux has always been a place we wanted to visit and it didn’t disappoint. It’s the capital town of the Eure region and dates back to the fourth century, as a Roman town. We walked into the town centre, up to the Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace, admired the statues, walked along the Ilton River, which appears under and around many houses and districts a little like a mini Amsterdam!

Two more nights and we headed towards Calais. Our plan was to stop at a campsite in Rang du Fliers for them both, but luckily we only paid for one and left the following morning. The site was very nice and centrally located for the village and shops, but the pitches were a little tight and the shower block, not worthy of the cost, so we headed to Sangatte, not really knowing what to expect. We’d only really heard of Sangatte for the refugee camps and trouble but what a find. The town is located right on the beach and the campsite, Camping Noires Mottes https://www.campingdesnoiresmottes.fr/ two streets back, lovely open grass pitches and a good shower block, our only question, was why didn’t we come here before? The Opal Coast, does have some stunning villages and is ideal for the tunnel and ports.

Tomorrow, we return to the UK, once we’ve cleared animal control (always a breath holding moment)! We’ll be back soon and let you know what we’ve been up to! As always, thank you for reading and we hope you and your families are safe and well, à bientôt !

Thirteen Days in Portugal…

Reg meets the Easter Bunny in Obidos (he doesn’t look too sure though!)

Having only spent one night in Portugal before, we planned to do a brief tour and take in a few sites. We didn’t really know too much about the country so we were very keen. Our plan was to head west along the coast and then north, before crossing eastwards back to Spain.

Crossing the border into Portugal, in the worst rain, since Finland 2019, was an adventure. We got onto the toll road, rather than a ferry (as we couldn’t find any information about the maximum size of vehicle), and over the bridge, then we were at a Toll Plaza (Portagem), where foreigners are directed to a machine to pay, but it wouldn’t accept any of our cards! We weren’t the only ones, everyone seemed to be having an issue, we tried logging in to the website, but still nothing, so last result – DRIVE!!! We have subsequently found out that there are often issues with the website and have since logged in and signed up,fingers crossed we haven’t got a letter when we get home!

We got off the Toll Road at the next junction and headed to Faro. Our first night stay was at the Faro Motorhome stop https://www.farocampervanpark.com/ Just a short walk from the town and the airport, but due to the torrential rain, we only wondered to the local shops.

Our next stop was Alvor and Camping Alvor https://www.campingalvor.com/en/ We managed to find a relatively nice pitch, but it was very cramped and despite finding an Indian Restaurant in Irish Town, we decided to head off the next day. In Portimão, we found an International Supermarket – we weren’t actually looking for English Food, but English mustard, Greg’s Steak pies and Cheddar, how could we refuse! We also found a Worten, a little like Currys/PC World at home, where we were able to buy a Portuguese Data SIM – MEO €14.99 Unlimited Data for 15 days!

We headed along the coast to Sagres, not quite the most southern point of Portugal but definitely one of the most exposed, with coastline south east and west – next stop USA! Our camping stop, Parque de Campismo Sagres https://www.orbitur.pt/en/destinations/algarve/orbitur-sagres was amongst the Pine trees, a short walk to the coast and close to the lighthouse, the Farol do Cabo de São Vicente, opened in the 1500s and first destroyed by Frances Drake in 1587.

After a couple of nights we headed north towards Lisbon, stopping at an unplanned location in the beautiful town of Odemira. Although not a lot more than a car park, it was right on the river and a stone’s throw from the old walled town.

Next, we stopped at a motorhome Aire just outside the walled town of Évora, the capital of the Alentejo Region. In the centre stands the old Roman temple of Diana, a twelfth century cathedral, white washed houses, cobbled streets and the Chapel of Bones.

Heading North, we stopped at another Orbitur site, just outside Lisbon, in the town of Cascais, next to a nature reserve, with view of the surfing beaches

Continuing north we headed slightly inland to another walled city – Obidos, home to a Chocolate Festival and Reg met the Easter Bunny.

We headed to the Catholic Pilgrimage Site of Fátima. There is a motorhome stop at the Cathedral, The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima, but we chose not to stop as we’re not believers and the bells rang every fifteen minutes, without knowing whether they continued all night it was too much to consider! Fátima, is the fourth most popular catholic pilgrimage destination in the world. It is a place of pilgrimage, which celebrates the memory of its founding event, the apparitions of Our Lady to the three little Shepherds, who are honoured in the Cathedral – Lúcia and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco.

Instead we stopped at a campsite in he town of Coimbra, before heading to Estrelo Paxio de Varzim and a campsite right on the Atlantic, with a fabulous sandy beach, next to a golf course, which is great until Reg chases a seagull shadow up the rocks towards the green (Don’t know which hole, as he came back before reaching it!). Estrelo Paxio de Varzim is also on one of the Camino routes.

Our last night in Portugal, was in the town of Chaves. We had stopped here before on our first trip to Spain, back in 2019, but had never ventured into the city, it was another fabulous old walled city.

Now our journey takes a turn back to Spain, we’re heading homeward, but looking forward to touring areas we haven’t seen. Portugal has surprised us, there is so much history and countryside to explore, we will be back, in the future to hopefully explore the areas we haven’t yet seen. As always, thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and well. We’ll be back soon with news from our second Spanish Leg…