Dobar Dan Hrvatska – Good Morning Croatia!

Leaving Hungary we crossed the border into Croatia, not one of the happiest Border Check Points, having had to show passports, Animal Health Certificate and Vehicle Log Book (V5), we were waved out of Hungary, before we were stamped into Croatia. We headed to a campsite in the hills, but the amount of roadworks and diversions made it impossible to get there, so instead we headed to Camp Zagreb, on the edge of the Capital, with a shuttle bus and train into the centre, and a restaurant onsite. We were late arriving and it wasn’t on our itinerary, so we were not prepared for another city visit, but have vowed to return another time. https://www.campzagreb.com/en/

Leaving Zagreb, we headed to the coast and the island of Krk. It’s connected to the mainland by a bridge and we had chosen to stop for a couple of nights in the town of Krk, at Jezevac Premium Camping Resort, hoping they had space on a lovely sunny Saturday afternoon. Arriving at about 4:00 pm we arrived with a huge amount of motorhomes and caravans, so weren’t hopeful, but our fears were alleviated, when we were shown two pitches – with the ACSI card you don’t get a premium beach front pitch, but the one we chose (of the two) overlooked the town beach, which was barely used and we claimed it as our own private beach! https://www.camping-adriatic.com/jezevac-camp-krk

We loved it so much we stayed for six nights, the town is a short walk away with it’s old buildings, harbour and restaurants. We swam in the sea, such a long time since last having done it – New Year 2020 (before the world shut down, and it felt like a lifetime ago). The sea was amazingly warm! In addition, there is a dog beach, but it was a bit too choppy on that part of the peninsula, so we didn’t take Reg, maybe next time…

Krk Town was so nice, we spent days wandering around exploring. Right next to our pitch was the Piazza with a bar and street food and a 5 minute walk took you to a Restaurant, which was so cheap.

We felt it was time to leave Krk, and headed across the country west to Novigrad, where we stayed at the Aminess Sirena Campsite. https://www.aminess-campsites.com/en/aminess-sirena-campsite It is a short walk into the town of Novigrad, with it’s working port and pleasure harbour and old town, bars and restaurants. The sea was way too choppy here to swim in (I’m not a lover of rocky beaches since a childhood sponsored swim in the sea – on a very rough day – resulted in a lot of scrapes on my shins from the barnacle covered breakwaters)! If it’s flat calm I’m in, if it’s not, then no way!

We walked into the town, mooched around the streets and ate in the restaurant at the hotel, in the campsite grounds. We met some lovely people – did a book give-away with a couple who had finished all theirs – Ric was happy as the payload lightens with each item removed! And swapped travel stories with a couple who have been touring for seven months and were reluctantly heading home, to save some pennies to return.

We have been to Croatia before – almost three years to the day crossing the border, we arrived in Opatija, to surprise Sarah’s mum, who was on holiday there and Sarah has been here as a child, but this trip felt different. We have fallen in love with it and are planning our return adventure (we’re not even halfway through this trip, as we write!).

We’ll be leaving Croatia soon, and heading to Italy. As always, thank you for reading. We hope you and your families are safe and well and we’ll be back with another update soon…

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…

Tchau, Portugal / Hola España

Crossing Spain

We chose to return to France along a part of Spain we hadn’t visited before – La Rioja. Our first stop, not far from the Portuguese Border was Zamora. We decided to stop in a Motorhome Area, FREE, along the side of the river with a great view of the walled town. The last time we drove through Zamora, heading south, but now we had time to spend visiting. Zamora is famous for its numerous Romanesque Churches built in the 11th and 12th Centuries, while we didn’t see them all, we did wander up to the Castle on the top of the hill and crossed the Poets Bridge, wandered the small bar-lined narrow streets. Zamora is definitely worth a visit!

Heading east towards France our next stop was a very pleasant surprise – Haro – the capital of La Rioja and the centre of the wine producing region. We stopped at https://www.campingdeharo.com/en, located just outside another very picturesque town, centred around a square and the old streets meandering off around. At the base of the hill there are a number of Wine Bodegas, think Caves in France, more than a store, generally the hub of the wine production.

After Haro, we continued our journey east, the intention was to stop overnight at Canfranc-Estación. We stopped for lunch close to the Motorcycle Circuit de Navarra, at Los Arcos. We did ask the Security guard if we could take photos inside but she was not impressed!

We had been watching the weather for a few days, as there were avalanche warnings in the Pyrenees and more importantly at Canfranc. Canfranc-Estación was designed in a very elaborate style and at great expense, on one of the few border crossings between France and Spain. It had a slightly chequered past, a fire in its early days, a hub for Nazi profiteering and strangely also a known route for Resistance, Jews and British Military leaving occupied France in World War Two, before closing in the 1970s, when the last train to leave actually demolished a bridge on the line (without fatality). It was left abandoned for several years, but typically is now surrounded by scaffolding and fencing as it is being refurbished and brought back into life as a Station and Hotel.

Instead of staying at Canfranc, with the threat of bad weather, we headed through the Somport Tunnel and into France…. As always, thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and well, we’ll be back with our trip through France, soon!

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…

Back on the Road 2022 – Heading to the Sun: Week One

We headed home and booked our tickets for the Eurotunnel, arranged the vet appointment for Reg’s Animal Health Certificate (AHC) and booked our Lateral Flow Tests (LFT). We had opted to have our LFTs carried out at the local drive-in, but their website was down and there were no available appointments, so instead we opted for C19 Testing, who will send you the equipment (usually next day – we ordered on Saturday and they arrived on Monday lunchtime), then when you’re ready to take the test – check whether the time you need is arrival or departure! get ready to log in to the website with your identification and a clear photo, and the results will be back within 12 hours- ours came back in 2! https://www.c19testing.co.uk/

Next, the vet – of all the things we thought would stop us heading off the vet wasn’t one, but we had a phone call on the Monday to say our vet was sick with COVID could we reschedule to a week later? We were found an appointment locally with the same group, but a day earlier – better for us and a relief.

  • LFT complete – both negative, and uploaded to Eurotunnel website;
  • Sworn Statement – completed, signed and uploaded;
  • COVID Travel Passes, both downloaded and paper copies, sorted;
  • AHC complete.

We’re ready to go! We sorted all our paperwork for travel, booked the Caravan and Motorhome Club site at Black Horse Farm, 8 minutes from the tunnel, said our goodbyes and headed off.

Arrival at the tunnel was relatively smooth, a little hitch with the automated check-in but soon sorted and off to the Pet Reception – complete, we’re ready to board and head to the sun! After almost two years waiting, we couldn’t believe we were this close, just Passport Control and Border Control to go, a quick chat to the English Police, Gas confirmed off and France Border Control – all we needed to do now was show our passports and COVID Passes and YES, we’re off….

Our trip south, we chose to use Camping-Car Parks -a one off fee of 5€ and you have access to their secure locations, electricity, fill-up and dump and in some cases WiFi. You receive a card, the Pass’Etapes which you can top up on-line or at the terminals to their sites. https://www.campingcarpark.com/en_GB/search/areas/map

Our first night was at the lovely Normandy town of Formerie, near Forges-les-Eaux and about 2 hours from the tunnel, a perfect stop, just on the edge of the town, with its local shops and typical Norman atmosphere, this is one we’ll definitely be back to. The site was a remarkable 10€ (inc Tourist Tax).

Day 2 and a journey through Normandy and into the Loiret region and the pretty village of Lailly-en-Val, a lovely site popular with the French and relatively busy (it was Friday). and right next to a lake, another perfect stop at 10€, until three sets of bells started at 07:00, what a wake up!

Day 3 from Lailly-en-Val, we headed to the lakeside resort of Lac du Saint Pardoux, Razès in the Haute-Vienne region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. The site is in a large wooded area with plenty of paths and cycle routes, the lake is open for swimming in the summer, but there is a pool next door. Again 10€ for the night!

Day 4, still heading south, we chose to stop at Lamagdelaine, in the Lot, in fact next to the River Lot and a Boulangerie. Lovely gravel pitches at the top end, between the trees, The river end had grass pitches and was closed off – as it was fairly wet. Slightly more expensive at 11€!

Days 5 and 6, we chose to stay at a campsite for a bit of a relax. We had stayed at Camping Toulouse Le Rupé, just outside the City, we had been here before (in fact, two years to the date – thank you Google photos and Facebook), this time however, it looked a little unloved and uncared for. The people were still warm and friendly but… We did have a quick clean up, shop and relax before heading south again. 18€ a night. WiFi extra and poor!

Day 7 – wow a week on the road already and the sun was beginning to come out – despite a weather warning for avalanches in the region – we weren’t heading up tot the mountains, though. We travelled through the Occitanie region and to another Camping-Car Park at Elne. Here we recharged our Pass’Etapes and paid for the night 11.47€. A short walk away is the pretty village of Elne and a spectacular view of the snow-topped Pyrenees.

Day 8 – Over the border and another new country for Reg! We took the coastal D194, skirting above Collioure and Port Vendres, through Banyuls-sur-Mer and Cerbère, before crossing the border into Portbou. We had our passports and COVID Passes ready, but they weren’t required! We headed to the coastal resort of L’Estartit, where we planned to stop for a couple of nights at Camping Les Medes. https://www.campinglesmedes.com/en/

Happy New Year – “Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear”

As we prepare to welcome in the New Year of 2022, we have our fingers crossed we can carry on with our adventure, see some new (and old) places, meet up with family and friends, while continuing to be safe and well.

We’re looking back at what the last year has brought us and some of the places we have been.

We stayed at:

  • 32 Caravan and Motorhome Club Sites;
  • 34 Caravan and Motorhome Club Certified Locations;
  • 5 Camping and Caravan Club Sites;
  • 16 Independent Sites;
  • 2 Motorhome Stopovers;
  • 2 nights Off Grid; and
  • 3 nights at home.

We left Lockdown 3 on 12th April, 2021 and have had a great time, travelling up to the Northern Coast of Scotland, completing the NC500, travelling along Hadrian’s Wall across Northumberland, down the east coast of England, discovered the Meridian Line, caught up with family, just missed meeting friends (who were on the same campsite, but arrived as we prepared to leave!).

We had an emergency trip to the vet, nothing serious as it turned out, but still a worry; found some great places to eat (and some not so great!) and followed whims as to where to go. We stayed at a variety of Racecourses, fishing lakes, Marinas and even an Aerodrome, followed the Grand Union Canal north and retraced our steps to the Bristol and Somerset.

We’ve rediscovered places we thought we knew, but found better weather really helped! Taken time to relax and not rush around, and seen some sights. We’ve learnt some good lessons (the hard way), if a site looks too difficult to get into don’t bother – this would have prevented an argument with a fence post/ LPG Lorry and a couple of sleepless nights working out how to get out of a site!

We have tried to think of our best places of the year (in no order):

  • The Lodge CL, Halmer End, Stoke;
  • Omaha Meadows CL, Verwood, Hampshire;
  • Grove Lock Marina CL, Leighton Buzzard;
  • Blythe Waters CL, Solihull;
  • Salisbury Camping and Caravanning Club Site;
  • Slinfold Caravan and Motorhome Club Site;
  • Bunree Caravan and Motorhome Club Site;
  • Dunnet Bay Caravan and Motorhome Club Site;
  • Seacroft Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, Cromer;
  • Gamrie Bay CL, Banff, Scotland;
  • Findhorn Motorhome Stopover, Scotland;
  • Minehead Caravan and Motorhome Club Site;
  • Lochgilphead Caravan Park;
  • Boston Aerodrome CL, Lincolnshire;
  • Lost Acres CL; and
  • Baltic Wharf Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, Bristol.

We don’t know when we’ll be able to get to France and Spain, but we’ve got our fingers crossed. For now, we’re happy to be safe and well and hope you are too. As always, thank you for reading, wishing you a happy and safe 2022, we’ll be back soon…..

Merry Christmas 2021

Merry Christmas!

We must apologise for our lack of content since October, we have been ok and on the road, but the lack of WiFi signal in some places in England, including the outskirts of Cambridge and Salisbury, made life a little difficult. Since we last wrote, we finished our tour of the East Coast, coming from Cromer, down through Norfolk and Suffolk, stopping off at Aldeburgh and seeing the Giant Scallop Shell Sculpture https://artuk.org/discover/stories/maggi-hamblings-scallop#:~:text=On%20the%20beach%20near%20Aldeburgh,coastline%20between%20there%20and%20Thorpeness.&text=Hambling%20sees%20Scallop%20as%20more%20than%20just%20a%20sculpture. in tribute to the Composer, Benjamin Britten, by the artist Maggi Hambling and over to a wonderful Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Certified Location (CL), Lost Acres. A smallholding with pigs, sheep and chickens, wonderful hosts and access to the Fens. https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/cambridgeshire/cambridge/Lost-Acres2/ Before heading for home via the Camping and Caravanning Club Site at East Horsely https://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/campsites/uk/surrey/east-horsley/horsley-camping-and-caravanning-club-site/.

Once back home we had flu jabs and boosters booked, staying at the CMC Gatwick Site, before it closed (lack of staff – we completely understand, the staff have all worked so hard through the pandemic keeping the sites running and looking good), we’ll be back when it re-opens. We hired a car, which allowed us to get about and see family. https://www.gatwickcarandvanrental.com/

As the Gatwick CMC site closed, we headed west, our destinations were Longleat CMC Site – right next to the Safari Park, a CL outside Bath, Willow Farm https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/bath–north-east-somerset/bath/willow-farm-1/, Bristol Baltic Wharf CMC site – this has had a reprieve from closing for the time being but… another CL, Rowberry Farm, Priddy, Somerset, Minehead CMC site (perfect for the town, sea and a chinese), Cadeside CMC Site, Wellington, Somerset https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/ecommerce/uksites/booking/listing?region=Southern+England, before heading to the Camping and Caravanning Club Site at Salisbury. This was perfect to explore Old Sarum and the City, there are cycle and footpaths into the centre of the city.

We headed home (again), via Waterwells Farm CL https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/hampshire/winchester/waterwells-farm/ A lovely site, with super hosts, a pony and barn owls, close to footpaths and the countryside and a short drive to Winchester and on to Hayling Island and Stoke Farm CL, we have stayed here before but this time the ground was relatively dry and dog walking a joy in the countryside and along the Puffin Billy railway line (disused), https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/certificated-locations/england/hampshire/hayling-island/stoke-farm/.

Since then, we have alternated between Sumners Ponds and the CMC Site at Brighton. Our plans, along with those of many others, have gone awry, we had hoped to head to Spain after spending Christmas seeing families, we’d booked Reg into the vet for his Animal Health Certificate, located PCR tests to enter France and then the French President closed the border to non-nationals for non-essential travel. Not wanting to be stuck in a lockdown abroad, we’ve chosen to wait for borders to reopen and travel freely.

As always, thank you for reading, we wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and hope that you get to spend time with those close to you. We WILL be back with an update and more tales, soon…

Weeks 15 and 16: North East England – North Yorkshire, Humberside, Lincolnshire and Norfolk

Sunrise at Wells-next-the-Sea

We’ve tied together two weeks here, we’ve been in some really poor internet (WiFi and 4G) areas and are desperately trying to catch up. Despite being in some fairly affluent areas, proof that the internet is not as great in all the country.

Leaving the pretty village of Sedgefield, we headed into the Yorkshire Dales and the home of James Herriot, Thirsk. We were staying at another racecourse site, https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/club-sites/england/yorkshire/north-yorkshire/thirsk-racecourse-caravan-club-site/ It’s right on the edge of the town and a short walk to the old practice of James Herriot, now the James Herriot Museum. James Herriot’s actual name was James Wright, but he was a real vet! Thirsk is also, birthplace to Thomas Lord, after whom, Lord’s Cricket Ground, London is named. As well as, the surgeon Thomas Eshelby who amputated Lord Nelson’s right arm when he was wounded landing at Santa Cruz. In addition, there is a great market square, with a selection of shops, cafes and bars and the remains of an ancient castle. There is so much to see and do here, we will definately be back.

Heading back to the east coast, we were going to stop at an off grid site, in the village of Helmsley, but the weather was so awful, we headed to our next stop, just outside Scarborough at Cayton. Cayton Village Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMC) Site, is a short walk to the village and the sea.

Leaving Cayton, we headed into the East Riding of Yorkshire a CMC Certified Location (CL) in the village of Patrington. Mill House CL is located walking distance from the town and the Meridian Marker. Patrington sits on the Greenwich Meridian Line, who knew there was such a marker? Indeed we didn’t and set off to find it! It actually cuts across the East of England from Peacehaven in Sussex, up through London (Greenwich) and onto the east coast where it disappears into the sea at Sand le Mere, East Yorkshire (the marker really did fall into the sea when the cliff collapsed)! http://www.thegreenwichmeridian.org/tgm/markers.php?marker_type=|%20all%20markers%20|

Heading over the Humber Bridge, and along the coast to Cleethorpes, where we found another Meridian Marker. Through the Lincolnshire Wolds and through the city of Lincoln, we arrived at Skybarn Farm. A CMC CL located a short drive from the city centre, but with a perfect dog walk (on lead) around the working farm. There are views across the countryside. This is another site we’ve added to our list to return to.

Leaving Mill Farm, we headed through the Lincolnshire countryside, passing a lot of past and present RAF bases. We weren’t lucky enough to have a display by the Red Arrows, though. We arrived in Boston (another on the Greenwich Meridian), but we didn’t find the marker! we had a quick drive through the town and found our overnight stop, at Boston Aerodrome, right on the edge of the runway!

Leaving Boston we headed along the coast to Wells-next-the-Sea and our site for the weekend. A short walk from the harbour and village centre, at a CMC CL Site, Mill Farm https://www.millfarmwells.co.uk/ We have stayed at some different places, but this one you can bring your horse with you! It’s a lovely peaceful site and the dog walk took us into the harbour as the sun rose and the mist began to clear.

We’re heading off again tomorrow, continuing our trip southwards. As always, thank you for reading, we hope you and your families are safe and well. We’ll let you have an update of our next leg of the journey, very soon (fingers crossed and wifi willing)…