Week 26: Christmas in Spain

Having decided to stay at El Puerto del Santa Maria until after Christmas, we settled in to the campsite quite nicely and made friends with our neighbours. The campsite is made up of about three separate areas for motorhomes and caravans and another stepped area for tents. Within the area we are based there is also a road which splits the area and each little cul-de-sac off it has eight pitches, plus another four which back onto you, giving you a little community feel!

On Monday, we had a little drive around the local area and went up to Jerez, to see the MotoGP circuit and the Monumento Michelin ( a giant Michelin Man on a roundabout!). On our trip we passed a fire station tower, with Santa waving at the top and then popped into the Hypermarket to stock up for Christmas. Food shopping in Spain at Christmas is no different than at home – it is chaotic and manic and the shops here only shut for Christmas Day! Once back at our little home from home, we checked the weather forecast and saw we were due more sun for the week!

Christmas Eve, we set off in search of a bread shop (Panaderia) and ended up on the bridge to Cadiz. We had planned this and not just found ourselves several miles away. You can see the bridge from the beach and as you may have discovered by now, we have a thing for bridges! It was too good an opportunity to miss. Cadiz is a peninsula into the Atlantic Sea, connected to the mainland by a number of bridges. We set off through the town of El Puerto del Santa Maria and then passed over the river – there is also a ferry from the harbour to Cadiz, here. We headed down to the village of Valdelagrana and into the Parque Natural Los Toruños, a lovely oasis of riverbed and grassland, and a natural habitat for a number of birds.

On the other side we exited the park by the University of Cadiz, and headed towards the bridge – Puente de la Constitución de 1812 and found you can cycle up the service road and across to Cadiz, we only ventured halfway across, as we’d already cycled 13 miles and it was 20° C. On the way back, we found a Chinese takeaway and stopped to pick up our dinner.

Christmas Day and the sun is shining. We started the day opening the cards and presents we’d brought with us from home, before setting off in search of bread. We’d read that bread is a staple in Spain and that a meal is not a meal without it, so surely there must be one open, We checked Gloria Google maps and headed off to one that looked like it might be open, no, then off to another, again no, right one more… YES and the bread was still hot. We bought one for us and each of our neighbours (it is Christmas after all!) After a light lunch, we sat in the sun for a while more and ten strolled on the beach, before heading back to Nortia and sitting some more outside, but with our nearest neighbours – our pitch and theirs adjoined! We prepped our dinner and rang the family, before heading over for a couple of drinks with them in their awning. Needless to say one turned into two and our Christmas dinner was postponed until Boxing Day!

On Boxing Day, we decided to stay at the campsite until the New Year, it feels so homely and comfortable, moving around over the Christmas break felt a little too stressful! We headed out again for bread and found another bread shop, this one had little cakes too – well it is Christmas! After completing a few chores, having lunch and sorting the laundry, we set off on the bikes to the nearby town of Rota. We knew there is a large Military Base there, as we’d been listening to the US Military civilian radio station, and after a few miles, Gloria Google maps decided we should turn right into the Naval Base, faced with a large Marine with a larger gun, we returned to the campsite, relaxed some more in the sun and had our lovely Christmas Dinner.

Friday, another day chilling in the sun, we had a cycle around the town and went to the supermarket, but not much else! Relaxing in the sunshine can be such hard work!

Saturday, another lovely sunny day – we emptied out and cleaned the garage, before heading out again on our bikes and mooching around the town, before more sun and another walk on the beach.

Sunday, we set off again on our bikes to the town of Valdelagrana, with its fabulously long sandy beach. We cycled along the prom and back into the Parque Natural Los Toruños, cycling a different route and seeing various types of wading birds, herons, storks, curlews and guillemots. After 13 miles we arrived back at the Motorhome and sheltered from the very strong winds, before setting out to the beach, to walk the dog and feeling like we were being sand blasted with the sand whipped up off the beach!

Not the only Etrusco – our Spanish Etrusco Neighbours!

Again, and as always, thank you for reading our post. We hope you had a very Merry Christmas and will update you with our New Year’s adventure soon….

Week 25: Spain and Rain (not only on the plain)

The rain in Spain on the Costa, not the plain

We set off from our overnight spot in Cáceres we headed south towards Seville and our overnight spot we’d picked in Hinojos. As we headed down we were greeted by more orange trees and the occasional lemon or lime tree. We asked Ditsy Daisy Sat Nav to find us a supermarket and she took us to an empty field! It might be about to be one of those days… We had passed an ALDI on the way so we popped in there instead. The weather was lovely and sunny when we left Cáceres, but as we stopped for lunch the weather decided against a nice sunny spot and we were pelted with wind and rain. On the drive south, the weather pretty much decided it was in charge and although we didn’t have snow, we possibly had everything else! When, the rain stopped it turned foggy!

We arrived at the campsite at Hinojos, to find there was no-one else there, even Reception was shut, but there was someone in the Bar who met us and told us where we could stop and gave us the instructions as to when there would be staff on site! We left, Hinojos, in the sunshine and headed back towards Seville, we’d opted to switch Ditsy Daisy off the Motorways (and Toll Roads) but after an hour navigating around the outskirts of Seville, we put her back on to the Motorway route and found ourselves back where we had started, and a route out which took a matter of minutes! We carried on through the roadworks on the bridge and down towards the coast, through what appeared to be desert, before arriving at El Puerto del Santa Maria, on the Costa de la Luz.

The campsite is opposite the beach and from our pitch about a five minute walk. The sea here is still the Atlantic, we haven’t got around the coastline enough to reach the Mediterranean again. We took a short stroll on the beach, and began to feel this could be our spot for Christmas, although its still a week away. We decided we’d see what we felt like the next day…

The next morning we awoke to sunshine, and decided we would stay here for the big HO HO HO! We’ve been on the road now for almost six months – it was our six month Vaniversary, in a couple of days and we decided we needed to stop for a little longer, plus the thought of having to try and find somewhere as nice, the closer we got to the Christmas break, could have been difficult. El Puerto del Santa Maria, appears to have everything we needed in one place.

We got the bikes out, gave them a quick overhaul and went out on a short (12 mile) cycle around town, not bad after a long break away from them, although it is very flat here, so that is a plus! We were helped out on our return to the campsite by a lovely local lad, who thought we looked a little lost and the route he took us back, headed right past an Indian Restaurant – guess what we had for dinner! And to top it off, it was on justeat.es – exactly the same as in the UK!

Our six month Vaniversary, was spent in the lovely Nortia, as the weather has turned wet and windy. Today, marks six months since we were given the keys to Nortia, in Darlington, England and the beginning of our adventure. So far, we have travelled 20,000 miles through 25 countries, some more than once, 30 of the 48 English Counties. We have been to the most northern point of mainland Europe, both centres of Europe (old and new), followed the Baltic Chain, been to the most southern point of Scotland, Lizard Point and Lands End, Snowdonia, the Peak District, the Lake District and the Pennines. We’ve been to the Arctic Circle and beyond, been to Santa’s village and met reindeer. We’ve spent the night at Auschwitz, before visiting. We’ve eaten fish and chips in Whitby and Hawes, Curries in York, Suffolk, Crawley, Tromso – Norway, Aalborg – Denmark, Riga – Latvia and here in Spain. We’ve had some interesting moment in Latvia, where we got stuck in the mud, were filmed for Etrusco, picked up a speeding fine and were stopped by Border Police! We were also stopped on the entry to France, from Italy! We’ve paid our respects at a number of memorials, in a number of countries. We’ve met new friends in lovely places, had new experiences, not all good! We’re now looking forward to our next six months and new adventures and experiences!

The rain continued on and off for the rest of the week, although not cold, we did seem to have a knack of getting wet every time we tried to go anywhere – the dog walk, the local shop etc. However, we have given Nortia a proper road test in trying weather and so far she has passed with flying colours!

There is now a weather warning for the whole of Spain and although our little part has disruption due to a coastal event – the sea is about to get a little rougher, and its not advisable to enter it! It’s still raining however, the Winter Solstice was marked with more rain – whoever said “the rain in Spain, stays mainly on the plains”, had definitely not been to the Costa de la Luz in December! Still the days should now start to get longer.

Sunday, the sun has come out to great us, finally – its only been three days but feels a lot longer. We were lucky to have arrived before the rain, the campsite had got a little soggy and the new arrivals had been holed up in the car park, unable to drive onto site, but today we got new neighbours! The sun also, encouraged the general chores to get started, there was a queue for the laundry, skylights and doors were flung open, carpets hoovered, and we even smelt a BBQ. We went back out on the bikes, just around town, but the town is decorated for Christmas. There are lights strung across the narrow roads and Christmas Trees as well as Orange trees and Poinsettias, growing in the town square. The weather looks promising for the next week, so fingers crossed.

As always, thank you for reading and hopefully you’ve enjoyed our little adventure this week….

Week 24: Spain (and a brief trip to Portugal)

Sunset in Spain

Another week has passed by and we’re now in Spain, heading towards the Picos de Europa. We drove up to Santander, where we discovered that today is another National Holiday! Shame we’d made the journey to stock up at the Supermarket! From Santander we followed the Camino de Santiago through Pots and Pans (really, Potes and Pannes) and on to Poo – really! Before we arrived at the Camping Picos de Europa, in the mountains, at Onis. The Picos are actually part of the Cordillera Cantabrican range of mountains, which runs from the Pyrenees to the Gallician Massiff. We had no idea Spain was so mountainous. We had a little stroll around and the campsite is really quite large. We’d chosen a pitch quite near the centre on dryish ground.

The next morning, I heard howling from the mountains! Albi was still in his bed asleep, so not him, but it was time to take him out. We stayed as close to the other campers as possible and definitely not in the woods! I’m glad we did, as a little research informed me that there are wolves in this part of Spain! We carried along the Camino de Santiago, there are quite a few routes so we just picked our route and happened along it in parts, to Tapia de Cassariego and Camping Vegamar. The campsite was all closed up, but the Owner allowed us to park in the car park, with full facilities and hook up. There has been so much rain here, the grass pitches are water-logged.

After a pleasant night, we headed to Viveiro, where we’d been told about a dentist. Ric had toothache and needed to have it looked at. We’d found an Stellplatz nearby and had made an appointment for the following day, we’d thought we’d see where we would spend the night. We had lunch there, overlooking the quay, before heading off to Santiago de Campostela. The plan was to return along the coast at a leisurely pace before going to the dentist.

The journey to Santiago was very scenic, however the weather decided that would change! We started off in lovely sunshine, which turned to rain and high winds, and more sunny intervals. The campsite in Santiago, overlooks the city with (in sunshine) fantastic views, which we’d managed to sneak a peak at on arrival, but the drizzle set in and it was surrounded by cloud.

Here, Ric had a reaction to the painkillers he’d been taking for his toothache and we needed to see a Doctor urgently. The campsite Receptionist, was superb. He ordered a taxi, explained to the driver where we needed to go and kept me calm, as I found all the necessary paperwork, for a visit to the Hospital – Passports and EHIC cards. I had the Insurance details on the phone. On arrival at the Hospital, after a bit of to and fro-ing, we we booked in, the EHIC card scanned and through triage to a bay and consultation. After a few hours, pain relief and fluids given, blood and X-Rays taken, he was given the all clear and discharged. Such a relief. The system had worked so smoothly.

We stayed another night at the campsite in Santiago de Campostela, just to get over the stressful night and to hope the weather would allow us to see the city, but unfortunately not. We have vowed to return, when the weather might be a little better and we can see the city.

The weather has again affected our travel plans, there is a severe weather warning in place for the Portuguese coast, we’ve had a look at the map and decided to head towards Madrid. The route took us through Portugal to Chaves, where we stayed in a little stopover in the front garden plot of a Guest House. It was lovely. A small campsite, with electricity and hot showers and toilets. It’s close to the town and a supermarket.

We headed on again to Salamanaca, and a campsite in the grounds of a Hotel – The Hotel Regio. In high season there are a lot of amenities here, swimming pool, cafe etc but in low, low season, not a lot, but you can have a meal in the Hotel. It was lovely and the hotel, had the design I remembered, from those Spanish hotels, when I was a child! On our way here, we travelled through the town of Zamora (and the obligatory singing of…. “If you sit in Row Z and the ball hits your head, that’s Zamora” – football chant from back in the day!).

We’ve changed our plans again! We’ve realised how close Christmas is and, in addition, we need to head to the sun, so we’re heading south. We’re in the town of Cáceres, en route to the Costa de la Luz. The campsite is nice, and each pitch has it’s own shower an toilet!

Spain, so far, has been excellent and the views varied and amazing. We just need the weather to play ball and we’ll have it all! We’ve seen mountains and hill towns, dams and rivers, empty reservoirs, cows, sheep and pigs, statues on roundabouts and hillsides. We’re looking forward to the next part.

As always, thank you for reading. We’ll be back with our next part of the trip, in time for Christmas! Hopefully, this week will be a little less dramatic….

Week 23: Sussex to Spain

Having had a lovely two weeks at and around our home and families, we decided to head for Spain and the warmer and hopefully a sunnier climate. We said our goodbyes and set off to the tunnel, stopping for the night at the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site – Black Horse Farm at Densole, Kent. We knew there was a pub over the road, and it would save us having to cook and wash up (more importantly) as we were setting out early (for us)! But in true, Three go Travelling fashion, they were cash only and we didn’t have cash. If the truth be told, we should have been aware of this possibility as, the last time we stayed there, their WiFi was dodgy and the card readers intermittent!

Tuesday morning we set off to the tunnel and were waved through, there were no dramas this time and we treated ourselves to a LEON Breakfast Box – yummy! Once through the tunnel, we headed south west and on towards Rouen and on then on to Marcilly-sur-Eure, where we were going to stop for the night. We arrived in France the sun was shinning and as we headed south west the fog rolled in and stayed, getting quite thick in places.

The campsite at Marcilly-sur-Eure, was surrounded by woods and in the fog looked very fairy-tale like. Each area was arranged in a circle with a shower/toilet block in the centre. From here, we set off towards Poitiers and our next stop for the night. The fog did eventually lift as we headed further south but again in places it was very thick. The campsite we chose to stay at was in Saint-Georges-Lés-Baillargeaux overlooking the Futuroscope site. There had been so much rain in this part of France, that we were asked to park on the roadway between the pitches rather than on the pitches – its not just the UK which is wet!

The next morning we headed off to Oradour-sur-Glane. A place we’d wanted to visit for a few years, the last time we were close by, the weather was too hot (and our camper too small) to leave Albi, but this time the weather (and the MoHo) were perfect – its like leaving him at home, he has so much space to roam and all his comforts.

Oradur-sur-Glane was totally destroyed on 10th June 1944, in response to the D-Day Landings, by the Nazis. The inhabitants were rounded up and the men, women and children, were shot and set on fire along with the village. There were six people who survived. President de Gaulle, ordered that the village was to remain as a memorial to those who died. https://www.oradour.info/

We found it a poignant and fitting memorial and although ageing, it is worth a visit. The cars and metal furniture along with the street names and the buildings are identified by profession and owner. It is free to enter, and despite arriving on a National Strike Day, still open.

From here, we found a remarkable little campsite in Exideuil-sur-Vienne Camping de La Rivière http://www.campingdelariviere.com/en/welcome/ . It’s an ideal spot if travelling to or from Spain. Right next to a river and with a restaurant in the summer.

Heading on towards Spain, and with the National Strike on a second day and the Lorry Drivers threatening to blockade the roads on Saturday, we made a dash for the border, heading on the Autoroute – we fully intend to travel the west coast when the weather is warmer and sites are open! We were stuck in traffic at Bordeaux on the Ring Road, but Ditsy Daisy Sat Nav, did us proud (for once) and found us an alternative and quicker route. As we approached Bayonne, the weather got better and better, the sun was shining and the dash thermometer was reading 15°C – positively scorchio!

The stop for the night was at Camping Larrouleta, in Urrugne, France. It is a large site with a lake and great facilities, including an open, indoor swimming pool. We felt so good, being able to open the windows and doors and feel the warmth of the sun, giving the lovely Nortia a great airing, too. Being in the foothills of the Pyrenees, however, when the sun disappeared behind the mountain it did get cooler, but still not as low as we had the previous week at the Gatwick Club Site, where it had been -2°C! There were a few Spanish people here for a long weekend. We later found out Friday was Constitution Day in Spain, marking it’s Referendum to becoming a Constitutional Monarchy and Democracy and Monday being the Immaculate Conception Day Holiday. Spain has a lot of Public Holidays – national and/or Regional! Another Note to self moment!

We went over the Spanish Border (only realised by the change in Police Name and uniform) in the middle of the river according to Ditsy Daisy Sat Nav, and headed to Pamplona, over the mountains and into the historic town. We were still enjoying the sun, so headed back to the coast and Zarauz, and Gran Camping Zarautz, with spectacular view of the Atlantic and the longest beach in Spanish Basque Country. As the sun set the lights came on in the village below, and the boats in the bay and beyond in the Bay of Biscay, along with the three visible lighthouses from our camping pitch, were lovely.

Heading off on Sunday, we picked up the Camina de Santiago route (a popular Pilgrimage Trail, from Donostia-San Sebastiàn to Santiago de Campostela). It started to rain as we set off, a bit of a shock, after the sun, but we’re on the north coast, along the Bay of Biscay! We travelled along through Bilbao and Loredo, along the Costa Verde. Despite the rain, the sea was full of surfers, the wind and the waves looked spectacular (and cold). We stopped for the night at a campsite, but were thankful for our on-board facilities as those on offer, weren’t up to much! That night, the wind picked up off the sea and pummelled us all night, I might have slept more if I hadn’t convinced myself we were going to blow over. (Luckily, I didn’t see a picture posted online about some Motorhomes in Croatia, which had done just that)!

We’re heading off again in the morning, just not quite decided whereto! As always thank you for reading our post. We’re going to try to be more on time on this part of our trip, so fingers crossed you get to read a regular post! We’ll be back next week with an update….

Week 21 and 22: Cornwall to Sussex

We left Tavistock and followed the map over Dartmoor. For a change we had sunshine on the moor, normally it gets dark and overcast and snow falls with a strong wind – regardless of the time of year! We headed off along the road, until we were met with a road width restriction. We were too large to attempt it, so back we went.

On the way back, we saw Dartmoor ponies by the side of the road and then, there they were reminding us of the reindeer at the Arctic Circle, on the road, walking towards us! We have never seen them before on the moor, probably because of the weather, but…

We ventured into Exeter, on to Lyme Regis and then Charmouth, where we stopped for the night. Again we were the only people there! There was a lovely looking pub in the High Street, but it was closed until the next day. The following morning we took a short walk to the beach and looked at the spectacular Jurassic Coast, before setting off along the coast to Portland Bill.

Neither of us had been to Portland Bill before, so this part of the trip was definitely one of firsts! I can remember the television programme from when I was younger, and again proceeded to annoy Ric with the theme tune – which I proceeded to play on you tube to him and it stuck as his earworm for the day!

We stopped and had lunch, before watching a Coastguard Search and Rescue Helicopter practising manoeuvres. We drove up to the point and the Lighthouse, before returning to look at the Olympic Rings from the 2012 London Olympics’ Sailing Events. We headed on to Wareham, where we stopped for the night, but first had the experience of live tank fire on the artillery range, and road signs indicating which road was open and could be used. The roads have signs warning of tanks crossing too, it was like being back in Poland!

From Wareham we went on to Fordingbridge, where we’d been recommended a jet wash, big enough for the lovely Nortia, who by now was looking a whole lot worse for the weather! All she needed was a typical comment – Also available in white!

After an hour or so we were ready to continue or journey, homeward bound. Nortia, looked clean and despite the weather a little cleaner, although we were a whole lot colder after the experience!

We arrived at our stop for the next couple of nights – Brighton. We are now close to home and were able to make the necessary appointments, pick up post and sort a bike wheel we had damaged – pot holes don’t just harm cars!

The next week or so we’re just going to be catching up with family and sorting appointments and getting ready for our next adventure. We’ve had Albi seen by the vet and his passport checked for our next trip to Europe. We’ve booked our tickets to France for next week and our adventure will continue. The weather has been really bad here, so there aren’t even good photos to show you…

Thank you again for reading and we’ll be back to update you in a week or so…

Week 20: Wales to Cornwall

Nortia at Lizard Point

We stayed in Llanberis for three nights, taking advantage of a 3-4-2 offer (well it has to be done!). After our scrumptious roast beef dinner with exceptional roast Yorkshire Puddings, we set off into the town. It hadn’t changed a lot since our last visit, but a lot of the attractions were closed as its the low season. We had seen that the little train around the lake was still running (but typically not on a Monday! maybe tomorrow then). We had a lovely breakfast/lunch in a cafe in the village and took some time shopping for items we needed. I had lost my hat a few days previously, and although I kept wanting to change it there was nothing wrong with it; that said I didn’t loose it on purpose!

The next day, it rained and rained and rained, even taking the dog for a stroll was a feat. We chilled, tidied and completed the laundry, not really living on the edge but… Then in true style, we got an Indian Takeaway from the village. Ric ventured out in the bad weather to get it!

The following day we headed out of Llanberis and started to head south, the Navigator did take a couple of wrong routes to get out but it was fine! We headed up to Caernarfon and then down towards Dolgellau before we decided to head for Shrewsbury. The lands up here have suffered a lot with the amount of rain and there is a lot of flooding, fields and roads are under water. We chose to stay at Love2Stay Campsite, it is so plush and even has a dog agility course. As Albi is still limping, we didn’t make him do too much but making him walk the see-saw and ramps made him put some pressure on his foot and as he didn’t seem in pain and willing to continue, we started seeing some small improvements. The campsite even has complementary White Company Toiletries in the showers!

We left Shrewsbury and returned to Wales. The weather has not improved. There are still floods and now local warnings of road closures including the M5. We chose to take the main road (rather than the B-Roads) over the Black Mountains. We followed an incredibly large load along the A40 to Crickhowell, before reaching the Prince of Wales Bridge back into England. We found a campsite to stay at in Cheddar.

Trying to find some sun, we headed off again in the morning. We met with family for lunch locally and then headed off to Brixham. Here the sun started to shine (at last)! The campsite was a surprise at the top of the hill overlooking the bay, it has a swimming pool and cafe. In the night it rained, heavily, but the sun did come out in the morning.

We headed down to Fowey, having crossed to Dartmouth on the ferry and then stopped in the town for a quick lunch. We crossed into Cornwall and headed up to Truro, where we’d chosen to stop for the night. The days are definitely getting shorter, we seem to be arriving at the campsites at dusk, and our day trips seem to be shorter.

We couldn’t leave Cornwall, without heading to Lizard Point and Land’s End. We paid to stop and have lunch at Lizard Point looking out over the bay. The road down was a little tight but we fitted! Land’s End is still very touristy, so we took photos and left! We headed back up the A30 across Bodmin Moor but it was disappointing to realise the new road bypassed Jamaica Inn, as we found out too late – as dusk was falling.

We stayed at a campsite in Tavistock, on Dartmoor. Normally, we manage to drive onto Dartmoor in snow, so we’ve got our fingers crossed tomorrow’s drive will be in sun not snow. Tonight though we’re cooking a home made Cottage (Motorhome) Pie!

Thank you again for reading, we’ll let you know what our journey across Dartmoor was like in our next tale….

Week 19: Scotland to Wales (via England)

Scotland and the South West Coastal 300. We left Edinburgh (without visiting the City as the weather was so bad) and headed off towards Moffat and the SWC300 heading clockwise to Lockerbie and on to Dumfries, before stopping at Dalbeattie. Despite the weather the views were stunning. We have driven this part of Scotland before but always on the motorway in order to get somewhere. It was so nice to be able to view it properly.

After Dalbeattie, we headed of again towards the Mull of Galloway, the most southerly point of Scotland. We’d stopped for lunch in the very pretty, typically Scottish-looking village of Newton Stewart, then headed over to Garlieston, where the Mulberry Harbours for WWII were tested, as the beach was similar to the Normandy Landing Beaches. We found a lovely, little Caravan and Motorhome Club, Certified Location at Low Glengyre Farm. We had the whole site to ourselves! Here, we found that our video from Latvia had been published by Erwin Hymer and Etrusco UK.

We carried on the SWC300 and took a sight detour to Kilmarnock, as this was on Ric’s wishlist. We headed up the coast to Stranraer and Cairnryan, then on to Turnbury Golf Course which had held the Open four times, the last one being in 2009, before being bought by Donald Trump.

From here we headed up to the Royal Troon Golf Course, which has also hosted the Open, nine times, the latest being in 2016. We ate our lunch looking over the golf course. Kilmarnock, was a surprise, not knowing what to expect the town was a beauty. We returned to the SWC300 at New Crummock and headed through Sanquhar, where the oldest Post Office is located, to Wanlockhead, Scotland’s highest village on to Moffat, where we chose to spend a couple of nights to recharge our batteries and clean up the MoHo. It was lucky we chose to stay here as the weather turned and it rained solidly for the night and the following day, so a short walk into the town was off the cards! However, we did discover an Indian Takeaway, which delivered! It would be rude not to!

We crossed back into England and down to Cumbria, avoiding the motorways. We travelled down to Kirkby Stephen and up to the Yorkshire Dales to Hawes, the highest Market Town in England. Hawes also has the tag in our memory as our expensive town, as the first time we had been there, we left having purchased two coats, a pair of Toggi boots and a pair of Barker’s Brogues! The Caravan and Motorhome Club Site at Hawes is situated about a five minute walk to the town (Albi still has a poorly foot so a long walk is still off the cards). We drove to the car park in the town centre as we left, to have Fish and Chips from the Chippy.

We continued our journey south, through Burnley, Accrington and Oldham before turning towards Glossop and the Snake Pass. All along our route the signs had said that the pass was open so we carried onwards until we were met by a sign stating the road was closed. After discussions with the locals (who were keen to use the pass) and checking the Highways Agency App, which said the Pass had been reopened, we gingerly headed up and over. It was easy to see that there had been a problem as there was a lot of water on the road, but it was now passable with care. We arrived at a campsite in Castleton in the Peak District, in the dark, so we had to wait until the morning to see the true beauty of the area.

The Peak District didn’t disappoint. The following morning, the views were stunning. It was a cold and crisp Remembrance Sunday morning. We had been advised to either leave early or later due to road closures in the village, for the Parade. We headed up the Winnats Pass towards Chester and the snow-capped mountains of Snowdonia. We were heading to a site we have stayed at before in Llanberis (we’ve found a deal 3 nights for the price of 2, so were here for a while)!

Llanberis was just as we remembered, except this time there was snow on the mountain tops. We’ve chosen to have a roast dinner tonight, complete with Yorkshire Puddings.

Thank you again for reading and apologies for the delay in our posts. We’ve had hardware issues, hopefully now all fixed. The next episode of our adventure will soon be live…

Week 18: England to Scotland

England Bound

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 17: France to England (via Belgium)!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 16: France

Col du Grand Colombier

We left St Tropez, with the weather app and the radio giving weather warnings for bad weather for two days. We knew we would be unable to avoid it completely but we decided we would start our trip back to England.

We headed north and picked up the Route Napoleon at Castellane and headed up to Digne-les-Bains, a thermal spa resort in the Alps. The Route Napoleon follows his route from Elba to Grenoble to ready himself for his battle at Waterloo. The weather wasn’t too bad on the drive north and was even sunny when we arrived, but the rain was still due.

The rain did arrive, just as we were starting to cook dinner. Thankfully, the awning was able to provide protection to the chef and his barbecue. Expecting worse weather, we put away the awning before turning in for the night and we were glad we did. The weather got worse throughout the night, including the start of the thunderstorms. Waiting for the gaps in the rain and the storm, in the morning I was able to take the dog out for his walk… but a few steps in the rain started again and even heavier. The paths were flooded and I was drenched through. I was taught an expression in my school french lessons, which I have never deemed appropriate to use before, but today was the day – “je suis trompée jusqu’ aux os.” (I am soaked through – literally to the bone!) After having returned to Nortia, and drying the dog, we decided to move off the grass onto the roadway and continue getting ready to leave. As I was already soaking wet, I continued to do the outside jobs, whilst Ric carried on inside in the dry! Once moved I was able to change, have a lovely warm cup of tea and plan the day’s journey.

We continued up the Route Napoleon towards Grenoble, stopping for a nice warming bowl of French Onion soup in Gap (all cooked in the MoHo in the Supermarket car park – we weren’t the only Motorhome there either)! We continued on to the chosen campsite, but despite it looking open the office was closed and despite ringing the bell as requested if it was closed, there was no response. It was definitely becoming one of those days! As we returned to Nortia and reversed up the steep slope onto the road, a figure appeared at the office but stubborn as we are it was too late we were moving on! We found another overnight stop at Lépin-le-Lac, a small campsite on the edge of a lake in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alps.

The following morning we thought about visiting Geneva, as we were so close. After a lunch on the banks of the River Rhône, we followed signs to the Col du Grand Colombier. Neither of us knew what to expect, but as we got higher and higher, we checked the internet and it turns out that it was a mountain used for the climbs in the Tour de France 2012 and the view at the top were worth the trip, so we carried on. The top is 1412 metres above sea level, not one of the highest we have been up, but the road was very steep and twisty with a number of switchbacks. There were a couple of hairy moments, especially where you could see the drop down, those cyclists definitely have some balls! The climb is rated HC ( hors catégorie) which is the most difficult hill climb.

The view from the top was just amazing, you can see Switzerland and Lake Geneva, the Alps and France. We were even above the clouds.

We headed off to our overnight stop in Gex. We’d told Ditsy Daisy Sat Nav that we didn’t want to go to Switzerland anymore and yet we saw the border approaching. Oh well, another country for the list. We continued on along the outskirts of Geneva and then we had to park up at CERN. We seem to be having an unprepared day, neither of us realised it would be on our route and even better it was free to visit. CERN is the European Organisation for Nuclear Research and it is home to the Large Hadron Collider.

After Gex, we headed to Besançon and travelled up through the Jura Mountains National Park . The National Park does not allow dogs! The signs even say leave your dog at home! We climbed higher up the mountains through the ski resorts and descending down into the valleys below. There is a more autumny feel here and the leaves are turning orange and red. There are more signs indicating activities for Halloween and Toussaint – All Saint’s Day 1/11, a national holiday in France). The french schools also break for the holiday on Friday for two weeks.

Next we headed up to Colmar. Neither of us has travelled along the eastern border of France before and Colmar, was just so beautiful. We headed from the campsite a short walk to the area known as La Petite Venise, with the canals and historical houses. Colmar even has a minature Statue of Liberty on a roundabout on the outskirts of the town, in honour of the designer who was born in the town.

We headed west from Colmar towards Compiègne, stopping at a lovely campsite in Andelot. We were the only people there and there were cows in the field in front of us and behind.

As we continued towards Compiègne, we started to see the World War One memorials and grave sites, the area is known for. There are cemeteries for all nationalities here. We stopped at the Necropole Nationale – Cormicy and then the Berry-au-Bac Memorial to the Armoured Cavalry (tanks). The campsite for the night had a Wild West Theme.

Next week’s adventures will be following shortly – we haven’t had WiFi for a long time and our internet providers say we’ve been out of the UK for too long. We’ll endeavour to deal with this on our return to England, but for now, thank you as ever for reading – we’ll be back soon….


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