2021 continues: Another two weeks in Lockdown, and no end date yet!

We’re still locked down in our little parking spot. We’re safe and well so we do have that to be thankful for.

Storm Christoph hit the UK, this week. We weren’t too badly hit in the south, but know there is a lot more damage up in the North,almost a year to the day that we hankered down outside Valencia, trying to avoid the fierceness of Storm Gloria.

Reg had his first birthday, this week. It seems like we’ve had him for so long now! Although, he has only had minimal travelling, but has certainly seen a lot of England and a bit of Wales. He has so far spent five months in Lockdown, with us, and we are looking forward to being able to travel freely (and safely).

We haven’t been able to go out and about too much. The local parks and nature sites are too busy with people to be able to safely venture too, when the weather is fine, when the weather is bad (it is January), you don’t want to venture too far. We’re hoping the weather might improve slightly and we’ll be able to get out on the bikes and get Reg back into the trailer.

We are missing our time in the sun, our memories on Facebook, keep reminding us where we were this time last year, but we’re trying to be positive and getting ready for a tour. Where and when are still undecided. We are waiting to get our vaccinations, hopefully we won’t have too long to go (fingers crossed)!

Thankfully, our families are on the mend. The COVID affected are on the mend, still not 100% but back to work and out and about. Fingers crossed the fractured wrist has healed and the plaster will be off in a few days.

As always, thank you for reading. We hope you are safe and well, and surviving Lockdown Part 3. We’ll be back with more news (or no news) soon, stay safe..

Lockdown Week 15: Light at the end of the Tunnel

Our Lockdown Hideaway – we are thankful to our neighbours for putting up with us, but we need to move on!

Boris has said that campsites can reopen in England on 4th July. We’ve spent the week, preparing. We started to declutter all the extra stuff, we’ve accumulated in the last 15 weeks. Unfortunately, the weather changed and we weren’t able to completely empty the garage, but we have managed to put another seven kilos of clothes in the loft!

We said our goodbyes to family and the friends we’ve made in our lockdown parking space and headed off to a Camping and Caravanning Site in Chichester.

It felt good but strange to be back on the road, almost like we were expecting to be asked, what are we doing / where are we going?

Arriving at the campsite was amazing, we were allocated a pitch and although, no facilities were open, except for waste disposal and washing up, but we were aware of this before we booked and Nortia has an amazing shower and bathroom set up, so this wouldn’t be an issue. We waited until we arrived to fill up with water, just as there was less weight that way, to travel with.

People on site, were all friendly and looked like we felt, so thankful to be able to be out and about. The knowledge that we don’t have to go home at the end of the day, is such a relief. When we arrived, the sun was shining and although a little windy, sitting outside for the evening, brought back lots of happy memories. We hope that Reg will enjoy it too.

Reg, has only ever spent four days on a pitch before, way back when he was eight weeks old, so to be harnessed and tethered was a little strange to him, He also, hasn’t really been on a drive ( we had two lockdown drives, weeks apart. He is used to sleeping in the motorhome, but not the outside experience.

Reg did make some friends during our stay, there were three little girls next door and he loved being made a fuss of by the youngest two.

Tomorrow, we are continuing our adventure. Thank you for reading and we look forward to sharing our adventure with you for next week. Find out where we go and what we do, next!

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.

One year on, Lockdown and a Dilemma.

Handover Day 19/06/2019 Cleveland Motorhomes, Darlington

A year ago today, 19th June 2019, we arrived at Cleveland Motorhomes in Darlington and were handed the keys to Nortia. We started our trip with a little get-to-know-you adventure driving south, slowly before heading to Europe.

We visited Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, France, Monaco, England, Scotland, Wales, Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar. All in covering 25,000 miles in nine months, then Lockdown hit and our plans for the next three months were changed in an evening.

Lockdown began for us in Sussex, when Boris said all unnecessary travel was prohibited and only essential businesses should remain open. The campsite we were on, was closing. We headed off home and parked up outside, plugged into the electric, logged onto the WiFi and filled up with water. Here, we dutifully stayed parked up, until we were allowed to go out for day trips in June. On our first trip, we had to check the tyre pressures and dust off the cobwebs, which were everywhere – wheels, wing mirrors, bike rack. We had been stationary for so long, that driving was a new experience and we actually forgot about the cruise control and sixth gear! We headed to the beach, hoping to show Reg the sea, but so had the rest of the county, so we headed up into the South Downs National Park instead.

Our views, whilst away, have been magnificent, the fjords in Norway, mountains in the Dolomites, the Alps in France, marinas in many countries, sea views and green fields. We’ve stayed in towns and in isolated areas, with many people and on our own. Now our view for the last three months has been a fence and garage doors!

During Lockdown, we’ve managed to stay sane, trained a puppy, been in good health and we’re still talking – there have been moments, but with the three of us in a 7.4 metre long motorhome, you’d expect some fireworks.

Our plans had been to travel up to Wales and over to Ireland (perhaps, to the Isle of Man), on to Scotland and the Hebrides (Inner and Outer), but they are on hold for the time being.

Life is slowly beginning to get back to normal, non-essential shops are allowed to open and campsites are beginning to get ready to open on 4th July, still no word about pubs, restaurants or hotels.

Now our dilemma, Etrusco need to sell our motorhome – our year has come to an end, but we have been offered first refusal, we’re just waiting for a price. We’ve started looking at the market, to see what we can afford but, we need to move on if campsites open.

Our dilemma is two-fold – without a price for the Motorhome, we don’t know where to book!

  • If we have to return Nortia, we need to plan to head north and sort out a plan to return home to start again; or
  • If we can buy Nortia, we can start to book our next trip, into England and see more sights, Wales looks like it might be opening its borders soon so a slow trip west could be on the cards.

As always, thank you for reading. We’ll update you with our plans as soon as we know what we’re doing, Government guidelines depending.

Lockdown Week 13: Places we’ve been (Part 6 – Belgium, England, Scotland, Wales, Spain and Gibraltar (with a night in Portugal).

Ominous Skies

Week 13 in Lockdown. Although we can travel out, we can’t stay out overnight. The weather has not been great this week, but next week looks better!

Reg had to have a new bed, this week as he’s outgrown his! We’re hopeful that we can move in three weeks, but waiting for Boris to give us the ok.

Belgium

We headed out of the tunnel on our first trip and headed to Belgium, so we could get Nortia fixed the following day in Geel at Dicar Motorhomes https://www.dicar.be/ and despite trying we couldn’t find anywhere with space, so had to head across the border to the Netherlands for the night.

  • De Klinge – we stopped, once Nortia was fixed at Camping Fort Bedmar in Belgium. The campsite was our first one in Belgium and in a lovely place. There is a statue in the town to Gustaaf De Loor, winner of the first La Vuelta, in 1935.
  • Ypres – we stopped at the Jeugdstadion, just a short walk from the Menin Gate and the town.
  • Bredene – Camping Veld & Duin, just a short distance from the beach and the town centre. Almost next door is a Chinese Restaurant!

England

  • Richmond, Yorkshire – Richmond Hargill House (CMC) Camping and Motorhome Club site. Our very first stop in Nortia! Close to Catterick, Darlington and the Yorkshire Dales.
  • North York Moors CMC, on the edge of the North York Moors near Whitby. This site was the first we have ever stayed on without facilities, and a good way to get to know Nortia (and our limits)!
  • York – Rowntree Park CMC, on the edge of the city. We love this site! If you venture out of the back gate you come across a lovely neighbourhood, with local shops, restaurants and services. Out of the front gate and follow the river into the city centre. This site does flood!
  • Maplethorpe Camping and Caravanning Club SIte, a short walk to the beach, passed a lot of holiday parks.
  • Thetford Forest CMC – another site with no facilities, but in the middle of the forest and with the Desert Rats Memorial and designated trail. Perfect for dog walking.
  • Ashwell, Baldock, Hertfordshire – Ashridge Farm CMC, in a idyllic English Village, complete with two pubs and a cricket green.
  • Henley – Henley Four Oaks, close to the town of Henley and the river Thames.
  • Littlehampton CMC, close to the town of the same name.
  • Folkestone – Black Horse Farm, ideal for the Tunnel and Ferries.
  • Bearstead CMC – close to the Tunnel and ferries. In the countryside with a good dog walk.
  • Polstead Camping and Caravanning Club Site – a gem of a site (we’ve stayed here twice on the trips first in October and again in March). Close to Flatford – scene of Constable’s Hay Wain.
  • Oakham, Rutland – Rutland Caravan and Camping Site. Close to the town and with a lovely dog walk.
  • National Memorial Arboretum, Burton-on-Trent – As we were passing, we wanted to visit the site of National Remembrance. It was very wet when we arrived and we had a great day out here.
  • Swadlingcote – Conkers Camping and Caravanning Site, Derbyshire.
  • York – Sheriff Hutton Camping and Caravanning Club Site, a nice site, not too close to the City. We stayed here at Halloween and it was here I (Sarah), managed to nudge a caravan when reversing! If you are going to nudge a Caravan, make sure the owners aren’t sitting having a nice cup of tea, watching your every move!
  • Alnwick, Northumberland – River Beamish CMC site. We stopped here so we could visit Cragside, the first house in the world to be lit with hydroelectric power.
  • Berwick-on-Tweed – we’ve stopped here before and love the views and the town.
  • Hawes, Yorkshire – Britain’s highest market town. The campsite is a short walk for the town centre.
  • Castleton, Derbyshire – after a hairy drive over the Snake Pass in the rain – the road had been closed but was passable with care. We stopped at the CMC site in the village.
  • Shrewsbury, Shropshire – Love 2 Stay Campsite – a very modern campsite.
  • Cheddar – We stopped at the CMC Site, just on the edge of the town and close to amenities.
  • Dartmouth – Hiilhead CMC club site – lovely views of the coast and an all-purpose campsite, with restaurant and swimming pool. We left here using the Kingsweir ferry and stopped for lovely lunch in the town.
  • Truro – Carnon Downs Caravan Park. We stopped here on our way to the Lizard and Lands End.
  • Tavistock – we stopped at the Camping and Caravanning Club Site, close to the market town and Dartmoor.
  • Charmouth – Manor Farm Holiday Centre. Close to the town and the beach, but not a lot of character.
  • Wareham – Hunters Moon CMC site. A brief stopover, with a lovely dog walk.
  • Brighton – CMC site, at the edge of the city. Close to the seafront.
  • Crawley – Gatwick CMC site. If it wasn’t for the fact it is close to family, we might not stay here! The runway is literally a road away, so very noisy.
  • Moreton-in-Marsh CMC site – on the edge of the Cotswold village.
  • Leek – Blackshaw Moor CMC, in the Peak District, great views and walks.
  • Skipton – Bolton Abbey CMC on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, great views and walks and drives.
  • Harrogate – Harrogate Caravan Park, just outside the town, next to the Great Yorkshire Showground. We stopped here as Nortia, was booked into Steve Mann Caravans, to repair a fault we had with the water pump. https://stevemanncaravans.co.uk/
  • Barnes Green, Horsham – Sumners Ponds. Close to home and a gem of a site.

Scotland

  • Edinburgh – CMC Site. We had hoped to go into the city and have a look around, but the weather turned and rain set in. Be aware, there is a lot of cycle theft up here and the site have lockers for you to store them in, safely.
  • Dalbeattie – Glenearly Caravan Site. We followed the South West Coastal 300 (SWC300) around the south west of Scotland. We found this campsite almost by accident and it was lovely.
  • Stranraer – Low Glengyre Farm Certified Location – a gem on a working farm.
  • Moffat – Moffat Camping and Caravanning Club Site – on the edge of the town.

Wales

  • Llanberis – Morris Leisure Touring Caravan Holiday Park. Right at the edge of the village, close to the Snowdon Mountain Railway and walks.

Spain

We started our tour of Spain on the Costa Verde travelling along from the Pyrenees to Santiago de Campostela, before heading south.

  • Zarautz – Gran Camping Zarautz – our first night in Spain, this campsite was right on the Atlantic with a lovely view of the sea and beach and a walk right around it.
  • Loredo – Camping Loredo Derby – Right on the Atlantic, sand was blown along the campsite roads. We discovered in the night that we had parked side on to the wind, so a fairly sleepless night ensued. The facilities were incredibly basic.
  • Onis – Camping Picos de Europa – a campsite right in the Picos de Europa Mountains. This is where we heard the wolves in the morning.
  • Castropol – Camping Vegamar – due to the amount of rain they had in this part of Spain, the grass pitches were not available, so we were allowed to camp in the car park.
  • Santiago de Campostela – Camping AS Cancelas – a lovely site close to the centre of the city and a hypermarket and shopping complex. We didn’t get to see much of the town, as it was here we spent the night (almost) in the hospital.
  • Salamanca – Camping Regio – heading south we crossed into Portugal, then back into Spain and spent the night here. The campsite is behind the hotel and a reduced price fixed menu meal was available.
  • Cáceres – Camping Cáceres – Our first campsite with a private bathroom.
  • Hinojos – Camping Doñanarrayan Park – we arrived to a closed campsite after a horrendous journey in heavy rain. The Barman, came out and explained we could camp but we had to wait until the morning to pay etc. We were given a basic map. After walking the dog, we found the only sanitary block, but it did have heating and hot water.
  • El Puerto de Santa Maria – Camping Playa Las Dunas San Anton – this is another site we don’t want to share but…. we arrived for two days – then Christmas and left 16 days later. We made some lovely friends here and will return.
  • Tarifa – Camping Valdevaqueros, The time had come to say goodbye to the friends we had made and head off on our adventure. Heading south we stopped outside Tarifa on the beach and contemplated asking to go to Morocco, then we heard from our friends www.rewindthegap.co.uk that the Erwin Hymer Insurance wouldn’t cover us, so we couldn’t go. The campsite is close to the beach accessed via subway and home to a lot of kite surfers.
  • Marbella – Camping la Buganvilla. We found this campsite just outside the town hoping we could cycle in, but without cycling on the busy A7 there was no way.
  • Viñuela – Camping Presa La Viñuela – Up in the mountains above Malaga, behind a restaurant. There are walks along the river.
  • Granada – Camping Suspiro del Moro, Otura – This is another lovely gem of a campsite, just outside Granada and you can get the bus or cycle into the city.
  • Roquetas del Mar – Camping Roquetas del Mar – we were going to stay for two nights, but this is where Albi fell sick and passed away. We stayed for another night whilst he was in the vet clinic. We did manage a cycle out along the sea front and will probably return to explore further.
  • Mazarrón – Camping los Delfines – we stopped here in desperation of somewhere to stop and were contacted by Karen and Colin – Rewind the Gap, to say they were nearby and did we want to meet up?
  • San Javier – Camping Mar Menor – after a Burger King Brunch, we arrived at this lovely Stellplatz. Our place had been held by Karen and Colin (much to the dismay of others who’d been turned away). The campsite has the best facilities, we’ve seen for ages (especially for a Stellplatz). It is behind the former Airport – now home to the Spanish Air Force display team
  • Villajoyosa (Benidorm) – Camping El Torres – a must on our to do list. Neither of us had been to Benidorm before and we had heard the tales. A short cycle ride from the campsite and you are in Benidorm!
  • Moraira – Camping Moraira. This is another hidden gem. We cycled out from here to Cova des Arcs at Cala del Moraig. The beaches and bays around here are fantastic. Even better, at the bottom of the hill to the campsite is an Indian Restaurant and takeaway!
  • Valencia – Camping Coll Vert, El Saler. We arrived for two nights, so we could cycle along the beach to the city. Then we were hit by Storm Gloria, and the two nights turned into five. Sand and water was everywhere.
  • Benicassim – Camping Tauro – a one night stop over and we found ourselves in a Caravan Club rally. The campsite was full of Brits! We could have stayed at home.
  • Peñíscola – Camping El Eden – close to the beach in a gem of a town, overlooked by a castle (in Game of Thrones) with cycle routes around – when the sand is cleared. When we were there the sand was over a metre high in places!
  • Amposta – Parque Natural Delta del Ebro – A free spot with Motorhome Parking (services are payable – water and disposal), in the heart of a natural park, with Flamingos.
  • Cambrils – Camping La Llosa – we loved it here. You can cycle into the town and on to Salou. We picked up an Indian takeaway and met some more lovely people here. We stopped for two nights and left after five! We got the train from here into Barcelona.
  • Prades – Camping Prades Park – Up in the mountains, with stunning views and walks. We walked up to La Roca Foradada, the holed rock. Another weather warning was in force when we arrived, but thankfully it wasn’t too bad
  • Taradell – Camping La Vall – still in the mountains, the weather turned colder and we headed back to the coast. We liked this site and will return!
  • Palamos – Empord’Area Palamos – A Motorhome stop just outside the town and with more cycle paths into the town and around the countryside. A supermarket is within walking distance.

Portugal

We only spent one night in Portugal, hoping to return later in the year. We will be back, just in a little while!

  • Chaves – Guest House Chaves, on the back of a park and on the edge of the town. The campsite is in the garden of a guest house. It was a lovely taste of the Country, especially having driven over the mountains and through the countryside.

Gibraltar

We should have stayed longer. We actually stopped in Spain but it was so close to the Border, that we’ve added it under Gibraltar.

  • La Línea de la Concepción – Alcaidesa Marina Motorhome Parking. On the edge of the marina, close to the town and the border and an ideal cycle ride onto the Rock.

Lockdown Week 12: Places we’ve been (Part 5: Croatia, Italy (Monaco and Switzerland) and France

Waiting to get back on the road

We remain in our parking place! We have ventured out, giving Nortia a drive and getting rid of cabin fever. We had hoped to take Reg to the beach, but so had everyone else! We picked the last day of the good weather! Lockdown in England, now means we can go out for the day, but not stay out! and we can meet in socially distanced groups of no more than six.

Positively: Reg’s walks are getting longer; Ric and I are still talking; Nortia, continues to be an ideal home for lockdown, even if our location needs a bit of a view; and we’re safe and well.

Croatia

We travelled to Croatia, primarily to meet my (Sarah’s) mum, who was on holiday there. She wasn’t aware we were going there, apparently she hoped we might, until the day before – we couldn’t surprise her, in case she’d booked a day trip!

  • Ičići / Opatija – although two towns they were joined together in 2006. We stopped at Camping Opatija, overlooking the sea. We walked along the promenade to meet up in Opatija, and had a lovely lunch in a small cafe, before walking back to the campsite.
  • Pula – We stopped at Camping Stoja, on the beach and at the edge of the town. This was the first place we were aware to have a tidal wave warning system on site.

Italy

  • Belluno – despite a major road closure, we found our camping spot for the night at the Agriturismo Sponga. A stellplatz at a restaurant at a fishing pond location. The restaurant doesn’t open on Sunday evenings.
  • Mazzin – a lovely location in the Dolomite Mountains. It was a little chilly at night but the location and the town were lovely. Camping Soal.
  • Lake Garda – Agriturismo Pardiso. Located a short walk from the Lake and within an Olive grove, where you can buy the home produced olive oil.
  • Busana – Located in the Reggio Emilia district, amongst chestnut trees, it was a blessing to find. We ordered bread for the following morning and it was delivered to the door handle! Camping le Fonti.
  • Levanto (Cinque Terre) – Camping Acqua Dolce. We loved it here and would happily return. The campsite has a free shuttle bus (on demand, when we arrived) to the beach and station. It also has a great restaurant onsite, selling home-made pizza.
  • Finale Ligura – we have stopped here before and had a lovely meal in the bistro down the road. This time though, we were disappointed and have decided not to return.

Monaco

We popped into Monaco, on our way past, so we could get Nortia into the Pole Position on the Grand Prix Circuit. We had managed it before in our VW, but its a lot easier to manoeuvre a small vehicle in the small streets. Success, after a couple of trips around we stopped the traffic and took a photo!

Switzerland

Having tried to avoid Switzerland, just because we weren’t certain of the rules regarding tolls and entry, we found ourselves in Geneva and at CERN. We had to take a few photos at CERN, just because!

France

Crossing the border into France, we were searched by border control. We don’t mind too much as it is a necessary precaution against people smuggling and illegal immigration.

  • Villeneuve-Loubet – Birthplace of Auguste Escoffier. We found a lovely campsite just by chance – L’Hippodrome. It was just behind a supermarket – perfect for bread in the morning and close to the town.
  • St. Tropez – after singing, “Do you know the way to St Tropez?” all the way, we stopped at a Yelloh! site under the trees. Here, we tried to decide which way to head along the coast or north. The weather report on the radio, informed us of a RED weather warning. We bit the bullet and headed north. We later found out how difficult it had been for people who had parked up on the Mediterranean, with flooding, wind and rain.
  • Route Napoleon – Castellane (Elba to Grenoble): We followed the route from Castellane up to Gap. The route is scenic and we’d done part of it previously.
  • Digne-les-Bains – we arrived here just before the weather caught up with us. We were just sorting dinner on the barbecue, as the rain started – not too hard at first, but as we found out on the dog walk the following morning – torrential. Water drained out of my boots, Ric moved Nortia to hard ground, and after wringing out my walking clothes (I’d also packed up the external gear, as I was already wet!) we set off further north.
  • Gap – we stopped here for lunch (in the car park of the Casino Supermarket). Not our most scenic place but ideal to get away from the weather.
  • Lépin-le-Lac – What a find! Camping les Peupliers, is not the most up to date campsite, but right on the lake and with amazing views.
  • Col du Grand Colombier – Instead of going through Switzerland, we chose to go up this hill! As you’ll have already read, we went through Switzerland anyway! The Col du Grand Colombier, is the highest road pass in the Jura Mountains and a frequent hill climb in cycling. In the Tour de France it is classified HC  (Hors Catégorie) – meaning beyond classification. The views from the top are magnificent and worth the effort.
  • Gex – on the edge of Parc naturel régional du Haut-Jura (worth noting dogs are not allowed in the national park)! We stayed just outside the town at Camping les Genets. A short walk in either direction gets you to the Supermarket (and bakery) or the town centre. More fantastic views from here.
  • Chalexeule – Although we remember the campsite and the surroundings, not much more springs to mind. It is a short walk to the bakery.
  • Colmar – Just outside the town, a fantastic site. It’s a Huttopia CityKamp site and well worth a stop before walking into the town with its historic buildings and old town. This is on our list to return to.
  • Andelot – In the middle of the countryside, our only neighbours were the cows in the field behind. Arriving out of season, the facilities were mainly closed and the owners were working hard to upgrade the washrooms and toilets. This is a gem – Camping le Moulin and worth a visit.
  • Compiègne – we made a conscious effort to visit here. The Armistice Agreement of World War I was signed here ending the war.
  • Thiepval Memorial – I had visited here before and wanted to show it to Ric. It is a big memorial to the fallen of World War I. However, since I had previously visited, there is now a large visitor centre.
  • Péronne – We chose to stay here for two nights. It was ideal as a stop as there is a vet and it is within the timescale we had to cross back to England. Camping le Port de Plaisance – the town is walking distance along the river.
  • Dunkirk – Another two nighter, at the Camping de la Licorne. A cycle route takes you right into the town centre along the sea front. There is a trail around the town showing the historic sites. A word of warning – the sand hurts as it whips off the shore in the wind.
  • Marcilly-sur-Eure – Heading back south after a trip in the UK, we stopped at a little campsite just beyond Rouen. As we arrived, it looked closed, but it was open! The pitches were arranged in little circles – with a sanitary block in the middle. When we awoke in the morning, the campsite was shrouded by mist, giving it a fairytale feel. Campsite Domaine de Marcilly.
  • Saint-Georges-lès-Baillargeaux – Ideal for Poitiers and Futuroscope, we stopped at Campsite le Futuriste.
  • Oradour-sur-Glane – if you are in this part of France, this is a must! I’d always wanted to visit and had told Ric about it, but last time we were near, the weather was too hot to leave a dog in a campervan. This time, Nortia, gave Albi, the perfect base while we set off. Oradour-sur-Glane is a memorial to those who died, when the Nazis (in response to D Day) destroyed the town on 10th June 1944. The inhabitants were rounded up and shot and set on fire. The village, remains exactly as it was at that time, as ordered by President de Gaulle.
  • Exideuil-sur-Vienne – Camping de la Rivière is an absolute gem and deserves a visit!
  • Urrugne – Gateway to Spain! We got as close to the Spanish Border as we could, as there was another national strike in France this weekend. Camping Larrouleta, is a large site, at the foothills of the Pyrenees and we found sun for the first time, although the temperature did dip at night!
  • Saint-Jean-Pla-de-Corts – in the Pyrenees on our return to England. Campsite Les Casteillets, is in the Languedoc- Roussillon, just across the Spanish Border and has views of the snow capped mountains.
  • Canal du Midi – we followed the canal as best we could the whole way from it’s start at the Atlantic to it’s end at Marseillan Plage and the Etang du Thau. We travelled up to Colombiers via Agde and Beziers.
  • Colombiers – Camping les Peupliers, is situated just off the Canal and an ideal place to pick up the tow path. We cycled along the tow path to Beziers via les Neuf Écluses de Fonseranes (the nine locks) and the Basin de Beziers and around the old town, before returning to Colombiers and the Malpas Tunnel.
  • Le Lac de la Thésauque – we stayed at the campsite on the lake, having followed the canal up around Carcassonne and on towards Toulouse. Due to the amount of rain, France had in the last few months, the campsite was very wet and we had to change pitches to ensure we could leave in the morning.
  • Deyme – what a nice campsite. We stopped at Camping les Violettes, just outside Toulouse and not far from the canal towpath (it is a short walk or cycle on the busy main road first). We cycled north to Toulouse and south as far as we fancied, seeing a sunbathing (and then swimming) beaver on our route.
  • Toulouse – still following the canal and wanting to visit the Aeroscopia Museum, we stayed at Camping Le Rupé. We cycled to the Museum and on another trip into the city. The staff at the campsite were so welcoming. A short walk down the road towards the canal is a lovely bakery, too.
  • Créon – a brief overnight stop on our way up to Bordeaux, still following the canal to its source, we stopped at Camping Bel-Air. The town is about a half hour walk away, or a quick cycle!
  • Bordeaux – Just outside the city centre, in amongst the conference centre and the new Stadium of Bordeaux (currently the Matmut Atlantique) is the Village du Lac campsite. Cycle paths take you right into the city centre and beyond.
  • Arcachon – we drove out to the coast (backtracking slightly) to the town of Arcachon. The campsite was a means to and end for us. Arcachon Nature Camping et Location.
  • Dune du Pilat – the reason we came to Arcachon! We arrived (along with the rest of France!) mid morning on a Sunday, and joined the masses climbing the tallest Sand Dune in the World.
  • Île d’Oléron – We crossed the Gironde Estuary on the Royan ferry, completing our trip along the Canal du Midi. We chose to stop for the night on the Île d’Oléron, and out of season. We stopped at Camping les Gros Joncs.
  • Île de Ré – We stopped at Camping Les Grenettes, having driven around the Island. The weather changed and weather warnings were issued for flood and sea events – a little worrying as the campsite was 300 metres from the sea! We survived!
  • La Givre – we headed further north towards Brittany and stopped at Camping La Grisse in the Vendee. This campsite was another little hidden gem.
  • Nantes – stopping at Camping Nantes, it is ideal for a visit to the town. We wanted to see the Mechanical Elephant, but again the weather changed and brought rain and wind.
  • Piriac-sur-Mer – we stopped at Camping Le Véridet, right on the sea, inside a walled campsite. On our way up we had our wing mirror clipped by a passing delivery driver and managed to find all the bits – thank heavens for mirror protectors. We settled into the small campsite, just as Storm Jorge arrived!
  • Pont Scorff – more rain! We stopped off here at Ty Nenez. It has the potential of being a nice site, in the high season and good weather.
  • Ferme du Bout de Monde – We loved this campsite and the two dogs who greeted us.
  • Locquirec – We headed along the coast to the most westerly point of France and then along the coast to Locquirec. We stopped at Camping du Fond de la Baie, with lovely views of the beach and the English Channel.
  • Dinard – we stopped right on the beach, at Camping du Port Blanc, and the views in the sun were amazing. Having been into the town for lunch, the weather changed and the wind picked up. We managed to see the Statue of Alfred Hitchcock, before battling the wind back to the campsite. We had to try to move Nortia to a more sheltered position as sand was accumulating everywhere – like snow!
  • Saint-Martin-des-Besaces – https://www.sous-les-etoiles.camp/ Have you ever stopped at one of those sites you don’t want to share with the world? This is one of ours!
  • Le Treport – we headed to the campsite so we could be close to the Tunnel. The campsite however is only open until 12:00 on Saturdays, in low season. Luckily there was a nice Aire behind and about half the price.
  • Montreuil sur Mer – close enough to the tunnel, and just outside the walled city ( a quick walk to the top of the site and through the passage in the wall). The campsite, Camping la Fontaine des Clercs, is another gem.

Lockdown Week 10 – Places we’ve been (Part 3 – The Baltic States).

Nortia in her parking spot.

Still in Lockdown, in our parking spot! Reg has now had his vaccinations and is allowed to socialise. We have been on a few short walks already. Lockdown rules have enabled us to catch up with some family, at a distance and Reg has begun to meet people and dogs.

We wanted to continue our look back at places we’ve been and this time we’re looking at the Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Estonia

  • Tallinn – we headed for the campsite in the city but weren’t impressed so headed out of town , slightly instead. We did stop at the Memorial to Communism, which is located next to the viewing platform for the Olympics. We returned to find the Baltic Chain Tile and had a quick tour of the city, but it was an incredibly busy, sunny Saturday.
  • Pirita Harbour – a stellplatz in the marina. The marina was where the Moscow Olympics 1980, held their sailing and rowing events. There are the Olympic Rings, the Olympic Flame cauldron and various other statues celebrating the Olympics.
  • Lake Peipsi – we stopped here at a campsite on the shores of the lake. The otherside of the lake is the edge of Russia! The campsite was lovely, small and quirky.
  • Pärnu – a traditional Estonian town on the edge of a river and on the Bay of Pärnu, in the Baltic Sea.
  • Hiiumaa and Saaremaa – two islands in the Baltic Sea, off the eastern coast. They are accessible by ferry and when we arrived the weather wasn’t playing ball! We were able to visit Hiiumaa, but not Saaremaa, as the ferry between the two was cancelled.

Latvia

  • Riga – our base for three nights and the location of our filming for Erwin Hymer and Etrusco. We stopped at the campsite in the city and wandered around with a film crew (Luke and Frank) for two days. We stumbled on the changing of the guard at the Freedom Monument, visited the Museum of Latvian National History – which told the story of the change from an independent country to a Soviet State and back to an independent country, and found our first tile of the Baltic Chain. We also first met up with Karen and Colin http://www.rewindthegap.co.uk, and their dogs Lily and Oakley, in their Burstner Motorhome, Billy. They are also bloggers for Erwin Hymer and Burstner.
  • Jurmala – the beach resort outside Riga, and where we continued our filming (we also stopped on the way back on a country road to be filmed driving). The beach was lovely and sandy.
  • Salaspils Concentration Camp Memorial – not far outside of Riga. It is a memorial to those who died in the work camps of the Russians, and also as a Nazi Concentration Camp.
  • Sigulda – one of the nicest and friendliest campsites we have stayed at. It is relatively new and on the edge of a lake. We also wanted to go to the Bobsleigh centre, but didn’t check the opening times. Camping “Lakeside” Sigulda, is also where we had to be towed off the grass.

Lithuania

  • Zarasai – our first port of call in Lithuania. Zarasai is surrounded by lakes. We stayed in a campsite by one and had visited the Observation Circle on our way into the town.
  • Geographical Centre of Europe – just north of Vilnius, near the village of Purnuškės.
  • Vilnius – the capital city and a completely different place to the rest of Lithuania (in our opinion)! The campsite on the edge of the centre, was a quirky place and had a lovely feel to it. We walked around the town and found our remaining Baltic Tile.
  • Ninth Fort – another monument to those killed by the Nazi regime.

As always, thank you for reading. We’ll continue our review of places we’ve been, next week. Stay safe.

Lockdown: Week 9 – Places we’ve been (Part 2 – Sweden, Norway and Finland).

Albi in Norway 2019

We’re still in Lockdown, social-distancing and trying to keep busy. Reg still can not socialise, but he’s happy and we’ve been trying to fill our days, with some activities indoor and out. We’ve been on some bike rides, we’re trying to complete our circuit in different ways!

Reg has now had his full sets of vaccinations and can shortly socialise. We’re teaching him commands, slowly, and trying to keep him amused each day. He’s progressed from his basket to the dog trailer and has had a couple of trips in that.

In addition, we’ve been reminiscing about the places we’ve been to in the last year, this is part two and our trip around Sweden, Norway and Finland. We crossed the bridge from Denmark and headed up the Eastern Coast to the Norwegian Border, through Norway up to Nordkapp and over to the Russian Border, before heading through Finland to the Arctic Circle and back into Sweden, travelling down to Stockholm and back over to Finland by ferry.

Sweden

  • Malmö -We’ve had good and bad experiences in Malmö. Our first time here. we stayed at what felt like a pretty rundown site but it was quirky and we liked it. We set off to return here, but it has had a facelift and was FULL! We found another, but although we had a spot for the night on the edge of the sea, the facilities were not up to scratch and we chose to use those on board.
  • Halmstad – a lovely town on the edge of the river. The camperstop was just on the edge of the town right on the river and a short walk to the town centre and a bakery! There is a sculpture trail through the waterside gardens, too, complete with a Picasso!
  • Bua – this is one we don’t want to share! We loved it here, right on the marina, and with the wild coast on the other side of the road.
  • Henån – so good we came here twice! Seriously, we did like it here, another marina with a FREE laundry and town, walking distance away.
  • Gällivare – a ski resort in the winter, but a lovely town in the summer. We saw hares here on the morning walk (and picked up a Chinese takeaway)!
  • Moskosel – we stayed here at Ljuselforsens Rastplatz, by the side of the river. The views were stunning, but the river was very full and as newbie wild campers, was a little unnerving, but we survived and loved every minute of it.
  • Täfrea – we stopped here at the Kvarkenfisk Restaurant Stellplatz. It’s right on the sea with a fish restaurant and cabins (hytte). It was here we met new friends, Ana-Lund and Tommy, while sampling the Surströmming (stinky fish). Don’t be put off by the road to the restaurant – you are heading in the right direction!
  • Ramvik – we had not intended to stop here. but the effects of the stinky fish had started to take its toll and a night in a campsite was required. We headed off from here to the Motor Museum in Harnosands.
  • Galtstrom – we stopped in a wild camp site, next to the sea, with plenty of walks in the woods, a restaurant at the end of the road and the sea, where you can fish.
  • Angra – here we stopped at a campsite, where they will take you on a safari to see bears in the wild. We were joined by free-range chickens in the field, as we cooked. There is a river which runs through it too. Whilst out walking, we discovered there had be a forest fire nearby, and it had literally stopped at the campsite.
  • Nusnäs – home of the Dala Horse Factories, the carved painted horses traditional to Sweden.
  • Lesjöfors – wild camping spot with a toilet on the edge of a lake, with woodlands behind, and a sandy shoreline, perfect for the dog to run around on. It was a quiet place to stop, when we were there.
  • Karlstad – we headed for Karlstad as we had been craving a KFC and it didn’t disappoint.
  • Åmål – a campsite just on the edge of town, but beside Lake Vänern – the largest lake in European Union (and the third largest in Europe – the other two are in Russia).
  • Holsljunja – another Rastplatz, on the edge of another lake. We parked up behind an elderly Swedish couple, who were foraging mushrooms in the woods – not knowing our mushrooms from toadstools, we didn’t venture in too.
  • Solvesborg – we’d driven to a different campsite up the road a little, but it was so busy and the pitches weren’t all that great, so we drove on and found a little site on the edge of a lake.
  • Smålandet Markaryd alg safari – The Moose Safari. As we hadn’t been fortunate to see Moose in the wild we took Nortia on a trip through the Moose Safari Park, after our first circuit, we were fortunate to follow the train through and were able to see more Moose than we did on our own! The fact the train passengers are given food for the moose might have had something to do with it!
  • Tosteberga Hamn – a little Rastplatz on an archipelago. The spaces can be a little tight and not all have electricity but it was lovely. You can also pay in Euros (if like us you didn’t have cash!). They do have an app, but it didn’t recognise an English Bank Account.
  • Karlskrona – we drove into the town, there is a Stellplatz, in the centre of the town, but it was a hot day and the spaces are on tarmac, a bit too hot for the dog. There are a lot of sights to see here and you can get the ferry to Poland.
  • Bergkvara – we stayed on a nice grass pitch as the weather was quite hot. The site is close to the beach and the little town.
  • Öland Island – the second largest island in Sweden. We stayed here for two nights both on the sea. The first was at Grönhögens hamn, a small harbour town, we had a view of the sea and watched the coastguard sail up the coastline. We cycled out to Långe Jan the lighthouse on the southernmost point, through the nature reserve and marshland. The second stop after travelling up to the Northern Point and Långe Erik Lighthouse., was at Boda Hamn, and we had a spectacular thunder storm throughout the night.
  • Paskallaviks – we stopped here, originally for one night but stayed three, it was so nice. We travelled up to Oskarshamn, to see a vet, before heading on to Finland. The Stellplatz has a coded restroom and free laundry. There are two sides to the Rastplatz, so don’t be fooled by the fuller, EHU supplied left hand side! There are walks into the village and a pizza takeaway nearby. There were several locals who arrived to have a Birthday Party picnic tea on the benches laid out on the grass.
  • Valdermarsvik – located on the only fjord in Sweden. We stopped at the campsite on the beach (no dogs). The pitches are lovely and big and there is a restaurant, on site. We later discovered walking along the fjord, that there is a Stellplatz in the town on the edge of the fjord.
  • Oxelösund – stopping in another Stellplatz on the harbour. there is a restaurant on the end of the pier and it is a working port. We had another thunderstorm and lightning display.
  • Sollentuna – a lovely stop over just outside Stockholm and convenient for the Ferry to Finland. The site has access to the forest and lake.
  • Tallink Silja Galaxy – our overnight ferry to Finland, with dog friendly cabin and dog deck. We actually went on a pub crawl (3 bars – 3 drinks) and had a meal on board, before an incredibly early start (disembarkment – 06:00). Finland is 1 hour ahead of Sweden (2 hours ahead of the UK).

Norway

  • Oslo – Bogstad Camping, we made the mistake of expecting to be able to stop in a Rastplatz in Moss, on the edge of the harbour. When we got there it was full, the weather was perfect, as was the view. We continued on our journey and despite trying to find another couple, indicated on the app, we booked into Bogstad Camping. It is ideal to visit the city.
  • Notodden – Lystang Camping – this is one of our favourite camping spots. Our trip was slightly marred by the loss of our phone in a shop, which we did retrieve! The last time we stayed here we took a boat trip on the river, but we’d arrived in a heatwave and it was too hot this time. We relaxed by the motorhome, and cycled to the town.
  • Edland – we followed the Hardinger Scenic Route north to Edland and stopped in a campsite by a lake. While we were here, we (Ric) had to sort an Electricity failure on the campsite, caused by a faulty cable on a different Motorhome. It was solved with a lack of English and Norwegian but just sign language!
  • Taulen – heading further north, we stumbled across this lovely campsite, by the side of a river. It was fine until the middle of the night when the river sounded like rain!
  • Odda – We stopped in Odda for lunch, and after filling up with fuel, we spotted Thord from Ice Road Rescue, a programme we watch and were greeted with a wave.
  • Horndola – We followed Ditsy Daisy Sat Nav, further north and she managed to tell us that the road was closed and gave us a detour. After a lot of tunnels, including the Laerdal Tunnel, we found a place to stop in Horndola. Looking up the attractions nearby we found the Giftesteinen Stone. It is a large stone with a hole in the middle, with a myth attached. We popped up to see it early on a dog walk, and by 09:00 there were over 11 coaches, from the cruise liners.
  • Hellesylt – We continued to following Ditsy Daisy, having passed the point of no return and we found ourselves at the Cruise Ferry Terminal to Geiranger. Although a bit of an expense, we would probably spend the same retracing our journey back around. The cruise was lovely, the sun was shining and the scenery spectacular.
  • Geiranger – Disembarking in Geiranger, the campsites were full so instead we headed up the Eagles Road and on to the Trollsteigen Pass, stopping at the top of the Trollsteigen to complete our previous visit (we arrived in heavy snow and the path was closed).
  • Isfjord – Romsdalseggen Camping, Åndalsnes. We stopped here by the side of a ski resort in a very nice campsite behind a hostel.
  • Levanger – Gullberget Camping (outside Trondheim). We stumbled on this campsite by accident The one we had stayed at before, didn’t look as nice this time around, so we carried on and found this site, on the edge of a nature reserve and close to the main E6 heading north.
  • Mosjøen – we stopped here before on our way to the Arctic Circle and for the return back (the last trip we did was a three week holiday, so only just enough time to get there and back and back to work)! The campsite is close to the edge of town and has a some nice walking paths around. On our way up to Polarsirkelen, we stopped at Mo-I-Rana to fill with LPG.
  • Polarsirkelen – Arctic Circle Centre. As it wasn’t snowy, it looked a lot different to the last time we were here, and we expected crowds, but gratefully it wasn’t too bad. It is definitely somewhere to stop and be a tourist.
  • Saltstraumen – heading north we took a turn to the east and found ourselves at Saltstraumen, crossing over the bridge to the archipelago. On the dog walk, we discovered the saltstraumen tides. In the evening, there was no tide at all, it was as calm as anything , but the tide times said the tides we be high at 08:00 the following morning. The maelstrom is well, worth a visit.
  • Ballangen – continuing our journey north, we stopped on the edge of a fjord. The amenities in the campsite were amazing with a large kitchen for campers. There was so little darkness here, on our trip, that hearing the rain start at 03:30, and heading out to get the washing – it was as if it was 08:00 at home!
  • Tromsø – heading up the coast further north, we were greeted by reindeer walking down the road. The campsite was ok, but the real bonus was an Indian restaurant, nearby with an English app and delivery. It was possibly the most expensive Indian take-away we have ever had – but well worth it!
  • Storslett – Fosselv Camping, another great find on the edge of the fjord and an ideal fishing location. The views near here are amazing and we passed Karen and Myles from http://www.motoroaming.com
  • Russenes – at the end of the E6 and turning east again, we stopped here for the night before heading towards Nordkapp.
  • Honningsvag – we stopped here to get provisions before heading to Nordkapp. The cruise liner, TUI Mein Schieff 3, had just docked and we were amongst several tourists in the town
  • Nordkapp – on our arrival (and we didn’t exactly know what to expect), we were asked if we wanted to camp for the night – it’s included in the price of parking! Facilities are free to enter and open from 06:00 to 02:00. What’s also lovely is you can be there almost alone, once the cruise liner passengers have gone and before the next ones arrive. The views are spectacular and despite the cold, a must to see and do.
  • Ifjord – heading away from Nordkapp and on towards Finland and the Russian border, we stopped at a small campsite, which was in the process of being renovated but had potential. It’s not a part of Norway, regularly visited by English tourists, according to the campsite owners.
  • Kirkenes – the border town for Russia and Finland. The town was completely rebuilt after World War Two, when it was destroyed by bombing raids. We had hoped to view the Russian border, but Ditsy Daisy and Gloria Google Maps, couldn’t decide where the border was and we didn’t want to take a risk, especially with the dog.

Finland

  • Inari, our first stop in Finland. Having first discovered that there is a time difference between Norway and Finland. We had to pass through two border controls – one European and one for Russians entering Europe. The campsite was an idyllic typical Finnish campsite (but we didn’t see Moomins).
  • Rovaniemi – we stopped at a Rastplatz on our way to Santa Claus Village. The Rastplatz, was on the edge of a lake and beautiful.
  • Santa Claus Village – a must see tourist attraction, if you’re in this part of the world. However, listening to Christmas music in the sun in August was a little surreal! We put in a good word with Santa for the grandkids, before crossing back over the Arctic Circle again (we crossed it four times in total – once in Norway and Finland and twice in Sweden).
  • Ii – we stopped here on our way back to Sweden, just below the Arctic Circle. We might have stayed longer, but the weather changed, and we were in torrential rain, the following morning. The town, is supposed to be the greenest in Europe, we later found out. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct03ms
  • Merikarvia – heading back to Finland from Sweden, we discovered that the start of September is time for Finland to start closing down. We found this campsite by chance and headed off around the southern part of the country. It was here we were contacted about meeting in Riga, Latvia for our film shoot, in a week’s time!
  • Larsmo – After a lot of rain, we arrived in Larsmo, a municipality made up of 360 islands and islets, where there is a Sauna Boat you can hire on the waterway, from the campsite shop. This community is one of the few bilingual Swedish and Finnish speaking, Swedish was the only language spoken until 2014
  • Juva – We arrived in more rain (torrential and thunderstorms) and the campsite was in a woodland by the side of another lake. It was lovely and picturesque, especially as dawn broke, the rain stopped and the mist gathered. The footpaths had a large variety of mushrooms (toadstools?).
  • Helsinki – A city campsite, next to the Metro station. Remarkably quiet and secure. We were about to head out on the Metro, when yet more rain, and again torrential. We will definitely revisit if we’re back here again.

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.

Lockdown Part 1: A review of our highs (and lows).

We’re still in the Motorhome, outside our home, plugged in to the electric, thanks to our lovely tenant and able to use the garden for Reg. We had hoped that he would have his second set of vaccinations, but they are not emergency treatment so we are just playing in the motorhome and garden with him. He’s also learning to walk on the lead and a few basic commands. At least we have something to concentrate on!

Learning to sit

We have decided to look back over our last year travelling and pick up some highlights (and lows). We’ve tried to do it as an A to Z, hopefully due to lockdown you’ve got enough time to read it all!

A

  • Albi – our original Border Terrier and a character in his own right. He was 10 years old and had visited more than 28 countries with us over his lifetime. He had walked the Coast to Coast with us and travelled in our campervan, the motorhome, our car (when we camped). He had stayed in tents, on boats, hotels and apartments and travelled on trains, boats and ferries, cable cars, buses and furniculars. We miss him but know he had a great life and the gauntlet has been passed on to Reg.
  • Arctic Circle- we’d been here before but no further north. Once over the circle we encountered reindeer, visited Nordkapp, and Santa’s Village. We were close to the Russian Border. we actually crossed over heading north in Norway and south in Finland.
  • Autogas (LPG/GPL) – having refillable gas cylinders, we needed to find places to refill. In Norway you can borrow the connections. We bought an adapter kit when we returned to the UK. We use the app myLPG.eu for both UK and Europe. We did have a moment in Sweden, when we tried to fill up on a Saturday but had to wait until Monday as we didn’t have the appropriate connection. Don’t forget that you can’t get Autogas in Finland!
  • Auschwitz, Poland – we stayed in the motorhome parking overnight and were eerily awoken by the sound of the trains on the tracks. We visited the memorial, having completing security and ID checks. The memorial is definitely worth a visit, check the website for how to visit. Our blog for Auschwitz is Week 12 – What a week Estonia to Slovakia.
  • ATS – Tyres – On our return to the UK in March, we had completed over 23000 miles and our front tyres were not looking too pretty. We made a quick trip to our local ATS and they put on a nice pair of new front tyres, despite not having an appointment and we are so grateful.

B

  • Baltic Chain – The Baltic Chain or Baltic Way was a peaceful demonstration by the people of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on 23rd August 1988. Approximately two million people joined hands and formed a chain spanning 675.5 Kilometres across the three Baltic States and was part of the States becoming independent from the Soviet Union. We were fortunate to be able to find the three tiles commemorating the Baltic Chain, one in each of Tallinn, Estonia, Riga, Latvia and Vilnius, Lithuania.
  • Border Crossings: We’ve crossed a lot of borders and most have been without incident but… Our crossing into Norway involved us declaring the dog so we dutifully followed the red zone and parked up with the lorries before one of us (Sarah) entered the Immigration Building. Pet passport (and our own passports) in hand and pressed the button to give us a number to be called forward. Once called the Pet passport was checked and we were waved through to the next crossing control. (You don’t need to take the dog with you either!) BUT the next checkpoint involves a weighbridge and a breath test – just so you are aware! Subsequent border crossings were event free until the Latvia/ Lithuania Border, where the Border Police wanted to see the Vehicle Passport – the V5 document, which we didn’t have a copy of (but do now!) and he was extremely pleased with himself once we’d told him he was the only person to have wanted to see it after travelling through all the countries we had at that point! We also had to wait in line at the Croatian border and show our documents and at the Italy/ France Border we were boarded and were checked for immigrants.

C

  • Curry – we had a comment on one of our posts about the fact we love a curry! We can’t lie we do and when we’ve not been able to have one for a while we will hunt one down. We have sourced a takeaway or delivery in several of the countries we visited. Denmark – Aalborg, Norway – Tromso (the most expensive but so worth it), Latvia – Riga, Spain – El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain – Peniscola, England – Crawley and York, Scotland – Moffat. We also have sourced curry pastes in a lot of countries and we have a go to make from scratch recipe!
  • Cycling – we have electric bikes which we use to get around and sight-see. We also have a trailer for the dog.
  • Christmas and New Year – We decided to spend Christmas in Spain, in the sun! We had previously spent time with our families before heading out. We spent both Christmas and New Year in El Puerto de Santa Maria on the Atlantic Ocean. We made friends with a host of people and even had a New Year Dip in the sea.
  • Carrefour (Spain) – just outside of Tarragona, we stopped at a Carrefour and found several English delicacies, which we were craving – crumpets, sausages, Pukka Pies etc. The Carrefour in El Puerto de Santa Maria has a free (if you shop in the mall) motorhome point and spaces

D

  • Darlington – the home of Nortia. We collected the Motorhome from Cleveland Motorhomes in June 2019 and she had 41 miles on the clock. She now has over 24000 and is our home on wheels.
  • Dicar Motorhomes – Geel, Belgium. A fantastic Etrusco Dealership, who had more motorhomes for sale and on show than we have ever seen before. We had our water leak sorted here at the beginning of our first trip.
  • Ditsy Daisy – our Sat Nav. At times she has been a godsend and others she has been a nightmare. In Norway, we were convinced she worked for the Ferry Companies, especially when we found ourselves in the queue for the Geiranger Car Ferry – more of a cruise than a ferry, but a beautiful and scenic trip.

E

  • Etrusco – the company we blog for and the brand of Motorhome we are in. Our model is a T7400 QBC, Semi-Integrated Motorhome with an end fixed bed and separate toilet and shower. She has a large lounge living area with kitchenette. We have a large rear garage and a bike rack on the rear, along with a pull-out awning. We called her Nortia, after a queen of the Etruscan People.
  • Erwin Hymer Group – the company who allowed us the opportunity to blog and travel and who allocated us the Etrusco Motorhome.
  • Extreme Points of Europe – whilst we have been on the road, we have visited some of the extreme points of Europe, some preplanned and some just because we were there! Nordkapp – 70°58’N, 25°58’E, the most northern point of mainland Europe was definitely on the list from Day One, and the reason we headed off to Scandinavia first. Next we visited the Central Point of Europe and discovered there were two, the new one recognised by the Guiness Book of Records, after the fall of the Eastern Bloc, in Lithuania, near the village of Purnuskes, 54°54’N, 25°19E and the old one in Slovakia, Kremnicke Bane. We travelled to the most southern point of Scotland at the Mull of Galloway, the northernmost town in England – Berwick-on-Tweed, the most southerly point of mainland England – Lizard Point and Lands End. In France, we went to the western point of the mainland, Pointe de Corsen, the northernmost point at Bray-Dune, and the Southernmost town in Spain – Tarifa. We still have more we want to visit…

F

  • Fishing – we have a small collapsible fishing rod in our garage, which can be used to sea fish without a licence. Ric set off fishing off the beach in Norway and Sweden but without much luck, although he did catch Perch, but way too small to eat!
  • Flamingos – we had heard about Flamingos in Spain and we had seen them before in France but we first saw them in Spain on the road to Cadiz and then when we were at the Parque Natural Delta del Ebro. They are amazing to see.
  • Ferries – travelling in Norway, there was a ferry or tunnel almost everyday, but the best ferry had to be the Geiranger Ferry from Hellesylt. It was a cruise along the Fjord. We also had fantastic trip from Stockholm, Sweden to Turku, Finland and from Helsinki, Finland to Tallinn, Estonia.
  • Friends – we have been fortunate to meet loads of new people while on the road, several of whom we are still in touch with and look forward to catching up with in the future.
  • Filming – we met up with Luke and Frank, from Juke Media in Riga, Latvia to film our first Etrusco Blog Film. Although slightly out of our comfort zone, it was a good couple of days and we saw some sights we might not have otherwise – like the Changing of the Guard at the National Memorial and being filmed by Drone on the beach.

G

  • Germanic Welcome – we were greeted on a campsite in Germany, by the owner who insisted on raising the George Cross Flag for our arrival.
  • Gloria Google Maps – Our back-up to Ditsy Daisy, when she has a complete nightmare or when we’re out on the bikes or walking.

H

  • Harbours – Some of our favourite Stellplatz have been on Harbours. There is something that draws us to the water. We stayed in the parking lot at Chichester Marina, when we met up with family before heading off in July, we met some great people in Bua, Sweden, we stayed (twice) at Henan, Sweden, great facilities and free laundry, Tosteberga Hamn, Sweden, Gronhogens Hamn and Tosteberga Hamn on the Island of Oland, Sweden, to name a few.
  • Hospital – we spent an evening / night in the hospital at San Sebastian de Campostela, when Ric was poorly. After a few tests and a CT scan, he was cleared to leave and has been fine since.

I

  • Islands – We spent time on the Island of Oland, Sweden and had a short trip to the Island of Hiiumaa (the weather prevented us from also visiting the sister Island of Saaremaa). We went to the Ile de Re and the Ile d’Oleron in France, too.