The Adventure Continues – Week 2 Minehead to Crawley

England is still in partial lockdown, but campsites are open (with social distancing) and we’ve continued our journey.

We walked through the town in Minehead and along the promenade to the harbour, passing the marker for the start (or end) of the Southwest Coast Path. When we first set out last year my (Sarah) sister, loaned me a book – The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, it is the memoirs of a couple who set out to walk the Southwest Coast Path, having been made homeless. We hadn’t originally set out to stay in Minehead, but we are so glad we did.

The beach at Minehead is not dog friendly (in the summer), so despite a quick set onto the sand with Reg, we thought we should go somewhere he was welcome and headed up the coast to Burnham-on-Sea, where the campsite is close to the sea at Berrow. It’s a long sandy, dog friendly beach, and Reg was able to run on it (once we’d navigated the sand dunes). He also had his first venture into the sea, but was more amused with trying to eat the seaweed and drinking the sea water!

After a couple of days, we headed up to Bristol. Not too sure what to expect, we arrived at the campsite and were in awe! The campsite backs onto the Floating Harbour at Baltic Wharf and a gate at the rear, allows you to access straight onto the harbourside walk. There were views up towards the Suspension Bridge and towards the S.S. Great Britain (closed at the moment but still iconic).

We walked up the hill to the Cabot Tower (again closed) and along the harbourside. We discovered the Banksy Mural of the Girl with the Earring (complete with face mask) and several other sculptures and statues – including Samuel Plimsoll – the man responsible for the Plimsoll Line on ships, indicating the maximum load for a ship, and John Cabot (an Italian who discovered Newfoundland in 1497, with the backing of the mayor of Bristol and King Henry VII).

The following day after a morning walk around the harbour, we walked up to the Clifton Suspension Bridge, through the Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve and then over the Bridge (take care if you suffer from vertigo – especially at the moment with social distancing in place)! Before walking back down through the Hotwells district of the city.

We headed off again on Saturday to Winchester and the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site at Morn Hill. The campsite is just too far to walk to the city in the rain, but lovely grass pitches and a big-ish dog walk. The A303 as usual was very busy but the views over Stonehenge can’t be faulted.

Sunday, saw us head back to Crawley. We have a couple of appointments we need to attend to, these had been put on hold during Lockdown and a week into our trip, they started to be rebooked, it was too good an opportunity to not return for – especially as one was for the Dentist we had been waiting for since the hospital trip in Spain in December.

As always, thank you for reading, hopefully you and your families are safe and well. Join us next week to see where we get to!

Lockdown Week 14: Solving the Dilemma

Houdini

We’re still in lockdown, parked up in our little spot. The weather has heated up a lot this week and it has been unbearable at times, this week and the thunderstorm that was due never really happened.

Boris has announced some lifting of lockdown measures and we are able to travel away from home and overnight (in England) from 4th July, so planning is beginning.

Our dilemma: did we want to buy Nortia or take her back? In the words of an eighties game show – “Come on down! The Price is Right!” Yes, we’ve agreed a price with Etrusco, just waiting to find out where we need to go to complete the paperwork.

We’re heading off again next week and this week we’ll be sorting out our junk. It’s amazing what you can accrue in 14 weeks of Lockdown and nine months on the road! So far, we’ve sorted out the wardrobes! If it hasn’t been worn since we’ve been out then it’s now in the loft! British weather being what it is, we’ll probably need something! Also, the law of the sod, says “we’ll need something!”

In other news, Reg continues to grow, we’re starting to change his meals to two a day, gradually. We had to buy a cool mat for him as he was too hot in the heat and he loves it. He did give us a scare on our last trip out as he pulled out of his harness and sat down under my feet, in the cab. Maybe, we should have called him Houdini.

As always, thank you for reading, hopefully we’ll have done something interesting in the coming week to be able to share with you. We’re still healthy and well, despite our wings being clipped, and hope you are too.

Lockdown: Week 7 – Places we’ve been (Part 1 – England to Denmark)

While we’re unable to travel, we thought we’d have a lookback over the places we’ve been in the last year.

Nortia at Sunset in Norway

Our time travelling has taken us to some amazing places, some unexpected, and some planned. We’ve had some great days and some not so great. We’ve been to some places we’ve been before, but many we hadn’t. We’ve been caught up in some good and bad weather and we’ve met some lovely people, along the way.

We started our tour in England. We collected Nortia from Darlington, County Durham and slowly travelled back to our families in the South, before heading through the Tunnel to Europe.

Our first destination, was changed when we had a leaking basin in the bathroom and were booked in for repairs in Belgium.

Belgium

  • Geel – Dicar Motorhomes. We arrived not knowing exactly what to expect and with limited (unconfident) French, but we were made to feel welcome and the Motorhome was fixed in a couple of hours.
  • De Klinge – we stopped here in the sunshine after our stop at Dicar Motors. There is a statue in the village to the De Loor brothers, one of whom won the Tour of Spain Cycle Race, now called La Veulta.
  • Ypres – we stopped at the campsite just outside the town and walked to the Menin Gate and the historic town.
  • Tyne Cot Cemetery – the largest cemetery for Commonwealth Soldiers in the World (for any war). It was one of the best cemeteries we have been to, so well looked after and maintained. The poignancy of the cemetery was unbelievable.
  • Bredene – on the North Sea Coast, close to the Dutch Border. This is on our list to return to. If you know our love of take-aways, we found a Chinese, almost next door to the campsite too. The beaches here are sandy and the wind was whipping it up a treat.

The Netherlands

  • Ouddorp aan Zee – we stayed in a campsite here, close to the beach and cycled along the promenades, stopping for lunch with a view of the North Sea. We also cycled inland along the polders. This place had a lot of charm and an unbelievable blue North Sea.
  • Utrecht – check whether dogs are allowed before paying and pitching and taking the dog for a stroll! then checking the website after a few strange looks and making a hasty retreat.
  • Abbenes – Camperstop in a beautiful part of the country, surrounded by farmland.
  • Amsterdam – what do we need to say? The campsite was close to cycle routes and the tram to the City Centre. Well worth a two night stop. Amsterdam with its history and sights was a must see and do.
  • Witmarsum – close to the motorway and the dams. A beautiful town with canals and more cycle paths and windmills.

Germany

  • Kollmar – after a series of diversions and a ferry trip, we arrived at a lovely campsite outside the town. The highlight of the campsite was the owner, who raised the English St George Flag for our stay.

Denmark

  • Tønder – just over the border from Germany, The campsite is on the edge of the town, behind the Leisure Centre. It’s a lovely short walk up to the cobbled streets of the village, and bakery. The pavements had roses growing through them and up the walls of the houses.
  • Vesløs – in the middle of the Danish countryside, 11 Kms from the beach and apparently cyclable, but we didn’t get there, partially because the weather started to change and partially, because after 13 miles we hadn’t got there! From here, we went to the Wind Turbine Centre at Osterlid.
  • Skagen – Right at the tip of Denmark. We loved it here! We cycled into the main town and port more than once. It’s a great place to visit. We are definitely coming back here!
  • Aarlborg – a beautiful town on a river, with cycle routes and a variety of takeaways and restaurants.
  • Island of Fyn – Faaberg – Another amazing place and one we’re coming back to.

As always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are well and surviving lockdown, we’re safe and well in our little spot, waiting for the opportunity to continue our journey. Reg continues to grow and his training is ongoing. We’ll be back with another part of our trip, soon, #staysafe #stayhome.

Lockdown Part 2: We’ve written a Book!

What could we do while in Lockdown? Our friends at http://www.motoroaming.com Karen and Myles, suggested we write an e-book about training Reg in our Motorhome!

You can read it here if you’d like! Please respect our copyright and if you want to use anything ask. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ZRbl6CsyzP1jtPiy_3PvpyNfIK1DhhaO2bk2Vuhk3EM/edit?usp=sharing

Thank you again for reading – we’ll be back with more tales from Lockdown soon. Hope you are all safe and well and we can get through this together and start our travels again.

Week 36: France to England (Appointments and a Road Trip)

England Bound

On Monday, we left Montreuil-sur-Mer, and set off to the tunnel. It was a little strange, as we normally have to go to the pet check-in first and then sort ourselves out at the check-in booth. The last time the procedure had changed, but this time it stumped us. Last time we were able to self check-in, but after three goes of checking in this time, we remembered that last time we bought our tickets direct from Eurotunnel, this time we bought them through the Camping and Caravanning Club (you get a great discount, this way!). Much to the annoyance of the car behind, we had to ask him to back up so we could reverse up and go to a manned booth. After check-in it was an eventless trip and we arrived back in England.

We headed to our overnight stop at Brighton, going along the coast road from Folkestone. The sun decided to come out for a while and the coast road was a lot more inviting than the last time we drove it (after a New Year stop in Canterbury).

Arriving at Brighton, we settled in and started our chores – the laundry, the last week’s campsites hadn’t had a laundry at all, so it was beginning to pile up. Next to sort out the Dentist and Doctors (both had been due and one of the reasons we were coming back) – appointments made next I (Sarah) needed a haircut and that was quickly sorted too – this was too good!

Tuesday, more washing – we stayed at Brighton for another day and once the washing was complete, we walked down the road to the cafe for a lovely English Breakfast for lunch. I headed off for my hair appointment, leaving Ric to have an afternoon of peace, alone! The last time we’d had time apart for any length of time was in November!

Wednesday, we set off up to the Gatwick Caravan site and were able to go to our respective doctor and dentist appointments, along with a quick shop – the rumours we’d heard about were true, the shelves were basically empty of essentials, thank goodness we’d bought toilet paper in France!

Thursday, still at Gatwick, we had one more appointment and in the meantime we decided to see if a different shop had groceries – this time it was even more soul destroying there was hardly anything in the shop. Next we thought we’d get our tyres checked at ATS and they confirmed Ric’s suspicions and our front tyres were barely legal. Luckily for us they had a set which would fit and an hour later we were back on the road with a lovely set of new black boots!

Friday, we decided to head off on a little road trip and head up to Yorkshire. We’ve got an appointment in Harrogate next week! We got onto the M25 eventually – Ditsy Daisy Sat Nav, had her moment again and sent us off the wrong way on the M25, so a quick turnaround at the next Junction and we were off in the right direction. We headed up the M40 toward the lovely Cotswolds and stopped for the night at Morton in Marsh. This is is definitely somewhere we will come back to on another tour.

Saturday, and we set off again this time to the Peak District. Our first stop was a Morrisons for groceries, we have decided to make sure we have enough provisions to make sure we are sorted if the Coronavirus (Covid 19) shuts down England for a while (or we need to self-isolate)! Next stop gas, and a great find in Leamington an actual Auto-Fuel Station and 50p a litre. We returned to the M6 and passed three (closed) football stadia to add to our list for the week, Monday at Brighton we’d passed the Amex, now today we saw Villa Park, The Hawthorns and the BET365 Stadium at Stoke. Our stop for the night was Blackshaw Moor just outside Leek.

Sunday, and we’re off again heading into Yorkshire. We left the Peak District and headed into the Yorkshire Dales. The scenery was amazing and each time we drive through the English countryside, we see it in a different light in different weathers. We headed up through Buxton, on towards Manchester and Burnley before reaching Skipton. Turning off the main road, towards our stop for the night in Bolton Abbey, we were confronted by a large stone arch. A bit of jiggery with the mirrors and we were through. The Caravan Site at Bolton Abbey is a lovely small campsite in the dales and we will definitely add to our list to return to.

For now, we’re hoping to be able to continue our trip to Harrogate, there is talk of isolation and non-essential transport being stopped but no actual news at this time. Thank you again for reading and we hope that you and your families are safe and well. We’ll be back next week, with more news (hopefully)!

Week 18: England to Scotland

England Bound

After spending the night at the Bearstead Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, we set off to Southend-on-Sea. After a few weeks in the relatively quiet roads in Europe, we found ourselves in the busy traffic of the M25 heading through the Dartford Tunnel. Once through the tunnel, we turned onto the road towards Southend and were promptly stuck in a road closure!

After a time, we arrived at the lovely seaside town of Southend. We’d been here several years before and enjoyed a drive along the Promenade and looking at the sites, including the Pier, which has had a facelift in the past few years.

After Southend, we headed up to Maldon and then on to Polstead, Suffolk. We arrived at the Camping and Caravanning Club Site just as dusk was setting in and the site looked lovely – it was a small but lovely campsite with a decent dog walk. In addition, there was a local curry house which delivered – after a few months without an English style curry, it was too good an opportunity to turn down, and the curry was well worth the wait!

From Polstead, we headed up north to Rutland and towards the Peak District. We headed off through the Suffolk countryside taking in the lovely views and villages. We chose to stay at the Rutland Caravan and Camping Park in Oakham. Another lovely site with a small village within walking distance. The weather has definitely started to turn and there was frost this morning. We’ve started counting English Counties and so far, on this trip, we have been to Kent, Essex, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Rutland.

From Rutland, we had a change of plan and headed off to the National Memorial Arboretum, outside Burton-on-Trent. It has linked in our trip last week to Dunkirk, the Belgium Cemeteries as well as family history. Due to the recent weather in England, there was a lot of water and flooding at the Arboretum and the Memorial we wanted to see was typically under water – we got wet feet, visiting it! After the Arboretum, we headed to the Conkers Camping and Caravanning Club Site in Swadlincote, Derbyshire. We have added a few more counties to our list – Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire, taking out total so far to 10.

From Derbyshire, we headed north again to York and the Caravan Club Site in Sheriff Hutton. The site was a little further from York than we had thought but it was still a lovely site and we decorated Nortia for Halloween. Two more counties for the list – East Riding of Yorkshire and North Yorkshire.

From York we headed further north to Northumberland and the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site of River Breamish. Three more counties for the list – County Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland the total is 15. After we set off from Sheriff Hutton, we went to the Yorkshire Village of Thornton-le-Dale to see the Matthewsons Shop and Auction Site, as featured on the TV programme of Bangers and Cash. However the village was very busy as they had one of their Auctions in progress, we will return with a little more planning! We had a traditional lunch of fish and chips outside Whitby Abbey. We arrived at the campsite in the dark, after a road closure and diversion. Nortia looks like we’ve been off-roading (honestly Erwin Hymer and Etrusco we haven’t, but its very wet here).

The next day, we headed to the National Trust property of Cragside. This is somewhere we have wanted to visit for a long time and finally we had the opportunity. Cragside is the first property in the world to be lit by hydroelectric power. It also has a number of electrical gadgets to make life easier back in the Edwardian period. The house is also decorated with a number of William Morris wallpapers. After a morning here, we set of to the town of Berwick-on-Tweed.

Berwick-on-Tweed didn’t disappoint, again we’ve been here before on a previous trip (we hired a boat and toured from Laggen Locks to Inverness and Fort William, before returning home down the East Coast of England). We had a lovely pitch with a view of the harbour. The weather was favourable and we saw the fireworks as they were set off around us. We’re very lucky as Albi doesn’t mind fireworks and will actually watch them, too!

The next morning, the weather changed again. We left in the rain and took a scenic tour up the Scottish east coast to Edinburgh. Our hopes of exploring the city were hampered by the heavy rain and the threat of bike thieves, so we decided we would explore the South West Coastal 300. We will set off in the morning for Moffat.

You can see how we got on in our next instalment. As ever, thank you for reading and commenting. We hope you’re still enjoying our little tour…..

Week 17: France to England (via Belgium)!

A campsite with a sense of humour and a lifeguard to watch over you!

We left the Wild West themed campsite in France and carried on our trip to Compiègne. When we arrived we went to the site of the Armistice Treaty signing on the 11th November 1918, signalling the end of World War I.

From here, we went on a bit of a trip to the Thiepval Memorial, in Authuille, France. The memorial was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens (who also designed the Cenotaph in London) and is a memorial to the missing 72,337 British and South African servicemen of the Somme. We chose to spend the next two nights in the town of Péronne.

We had started to feel, like we’d been on the move for too long again! Things needed to be sorted out and chores (washing) completed! We also needed to find a vet for our return to England – yes, we’ve decided to return, and just before we ran out of tea bags!

Chores completed, vet accomplished we set off again for Ieper (Ypres) heading north through Lille. In Ieper, we headed off to the Menin Gate and the historic town. We didn’t stay for the Last Post, but maybe we’ll return when the weather is a little warmer.

From Ieper, we set off north to Bruges and we stopped at the Tyne Cot Cemetery, outside the village of Passendaele. It is the largest cemetery for Commonwealth Soldiers in the world, for any war. It is one of the best cemeteries we have been to. We were going to stop in Bruges, but Albi has strained a tendon in his foot, so he’s on short walks. We headed to the Belgium coast instead.

We chose Bredene, after a trip to the Dutch Border and slowly heading back towards France. The campsite is one we have added to our list to come back to. (There will be a list of our campsites and stopovers (good and bad) soon!). Here, it would appear our past has caught up with us, with an email entitled “Speeding Etrusco Bloggers”. We have received a speeding ticket from Latvia, we’re not proud of breaking the speed limit, but it did make me smile, imagining the lovely Nortia, flying through the Latvian countryside!

After Bredene, where there was an amazing Chinese Restaurant, almost next door, we set off again and after completing a trip down the coast, we found a campsite on the beach in Dunkirk. Who knew how lovely the beach was here?

We chose to stay two nights, here, and get ready to return to England. We set off on our bikes on Saturday – into a head on wind which wiped the sand off the beach into our faces. We followed the trail and found the beaches where the Dunkirk Evacuation took place – Operation Dynamo – in May and June of 1940.

On Sunday, we made a slow journey to the Tunnel, to return to England. The journey was pretty non-eventful. We made our way to the Pet Check-in and as always Albi sailed through and was able to return to England, now it was our turn! The queue was massive. We were directed to Self-Check-in, something we have always shied away from, but it was easy, you either enter your booking reference or card you bought the ticket on and your boarding pass! Next, Border Control – France easy now Britain, again all OK, we were on our way! We boarded early and arrived in England.

We’d booked a night at the Bearstead Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, outside Maidstone, Kent. We’ve got ideas of where we plan on going from here, but there is nothing set in stone. We’ve got one eye on the weather and our route is in our heads!

Next week, you can find out where we’ve been and what we’ve done. We’re hoping the weather is kind, but it’s England and it’s October! As always thank you for reading, we’ll be in touch soon…