Back in good Ole Blighty

Well what a hectic time we’ve had since being back in the UK our feet just haven’t touched the floor, it’s been all systems go with lots of changes to organise & catching up with family and friends, typically for the UK the weather has been very wet and humid!!!

We stayed at Stonehenge Touring Park for 2 nights upon our return to the UK,  we thought it would be a fitting touch just to round it off here seeing as it was the first campsite that we stayed at, at the beginning of our Europe tour, so it seemed only fair to end it there too!!!

 

 

Once back in Plymouth we booked into our next stop Dolbeare Park which is just on the outskirts of Plymouth, well just across the water and in Saltash, Cornwall, the park here is lovely with friendly staff, the campsite is well tended to and is spotlessly clean, I have to mention the showers and washroom also which are spotless and have sensor controlled showers, with the temperature controlled by placing your hand over the sensors and again also to start the showers, how awesome is that??? the washroom also has under floor heating which will be lovely in the lower temperatures!!! The only bad thing at Dolbeare is that Toffi seems to have a major issue walking across so much harsh and sharp gravel, it really hurts her under foot perhaps more due to her having a deformed paw against the sharpness of the gravel the poor dog has been left limping across the stuff endlessly… when it’s time for walkies she’s now often refusing to walk across the stones full stop and is now practically being dragged across the stones to get outside the camp for mentioned walkies & toilet time!!!

As mentioned as soon as we landed back on UK turf we were busy… our search began for a suitable car and caravan, now I naively thought this was going to be great fun!!! boy was I in for a shock!!! leaving Pete to research roughly what type of 4×4 car we needed and what would suit our needs, Pete declared we wanted a Mazda CX5 AWD…  I had seen a white Mazda CX5 and I’d really liked the car in a white colour… but it turned out the white one wasn’t an “All wheel drive” which is what we needed, we then went on to source an AWD version of the CX5, we finally found one a 100 miles from Plymouth at a car sales garage called Carbase.

We drove up the 100 miles to view it, a gun metal grey colour, quite a nice looking car overall with a good towing ratio and with good reviews, the only thing I really hated about this car was the fact it had 2 totally different tyres on the back axle both with a different level of tread on each (one new tyre, one part worn tyre)… now I would usually replace both tyres on any axle back or front when one is needed to be replaced which is just something I was always taught to do ie helps for the cars handling etc and we’ve owned some pretty tasty fast cars in our time… so I pointed out to the showroom salesman the issue I had and asked if he could rectify this as it was literally just the tyres and I didn’t think it a good idea to have different tyres with different levels of tread across the same axles upon such a powerful 4WD car… they were not having any of it so guess we will have to get it new shoes!!!

After purchasing the car, picking it up and then having access to and reading the cars manual, I’m glad to see I was correct to pick this up and Mazda also strongly recommends in their manual that you should actually have all “4” tyres changed at the same time, due to user safety and the overall handling of the car, to ensure the cars ability to react in emergency actions which could be compromised otherwise… but hey what would I know right??…

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There were only a few of these cars for sale in the whole of the country and although my preference would have been for a white coloured one, we also didn’t fancy driving another 1000 miles in the rented Fiat 500 going all that way up and down motorways looking for another car, because although Fiat 500’s are a great fun little town car they are not the greatest to drive on long haul motorway drives and we also had the rental mileage to think about…  so yes… we now have our car…

Pick up completed and all the rest of the extras apparently worth hundreds, running into thousands that the sales team tried desperately to sell us all rejected, I got to drive the car the 100 miles back home, the car is actually very nice, and although I had agreed to follow Pete home… I got bored of following behind and waved as I passed him on the motorway…

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Now our week just seemed to get a little worse with regard to vehicles and dealing with yet more salesmen…  and my abstaining from Nicotine really didn’t seem like such a good idea at times, but I stuck to it anyway even though sometimes I feared I could have screamed with sheer feelings of annoyance and irritability, but, go me… I have managed to abstain now for over a month!!! all with the help of a book called “The easy way” by Allan Carr of which I would certainly advise anyone trying to give up this nasty habit to give this book a read…

We drove from Plymouth to Bristol then to Somerset, then somewhere else to look at more caravans but what an utter disappointment, I can honestly say it was starting to get downright depressing… the caravans we were viewing seemed really dirty and uncared for, I started to think we had really made the wrong decision to sell and swap over, we had driven hundreds of miles when Pete mentioned the towbar place in Plymouth Tamar Towing sold caravans also… so we decided to go check it out… the caravans they had up for sale were clean and were all kept under cover it was clear they only took on caravans that were in good condition too, we found a few here that tweaked our interest so thought we had better get some more info about them from their salesman…

Ok so after chatting with a salesman at Tamartowing we decided on one particular caravan they had on their shopfloor… A Sterling Eccles Sport 554 although we could have purchased it there and then we also enquired about a part exchange with the motorhome to make things easier rather than have to sell it privately… to be honest this process was to put it frankly utterly soul destroying and it certainly wasn’t helped by the salesman who was new to the job and clearly hadn’t a clue about caravans or motorhomes and hadn’t quite got the knack of any of it yet, he then made us wait in the salesroom for a whopping 6 hours… waiting for a valuation from a third party for our motorhome, all while giving me none of the info I had asked for regarding the caravan we were enquiring about… What a palava when we left their showroom that day we still hadn’t received the valuation or information on the caravan!!!

Well enough said about the rest of this process but lets just repeat the words “soul destroying” once again…  to cut a long story short the “Deal” now done we swap over and pick up our new caravan on the 6th September 2018… Also with another faff around thrown in what with changing private number plates etc…

When we got a chance we also threw in a visit to a site we’d visited when we first got the motorhome 2 years ago near Newquay it’s a small site called Higher Lanhainsworth I’m glad to say James the owner reported they had had a great summer this year and had been up until then fairly busy, although when we arrived gratefully we had the site to ourselves for the first few days, we were also pleasantly surprised by the improvements we had found and that the place now sported showers and a washing up facility which it hadn’t had before… we were totally prepared to rough it!!!

 

After a week there, which actually felt more like just a couple of days because it just passed so quickly, it was time for us to magically reappear at Dolbeare campsite we are trying to stay local for at least a matter of weeks still so family and friends may contact us and catch up if they so wish and we can transition to the caravan…

We have had some lovely catch ups with people so far, I also managed to get my haircut and just look at my new attire which the lovely Josie and Liam gifted me, obviously I shall now be strutting my stuff around the campsites and making my way to and from the shower blocks sporting these lovely new PJ’s… we had a meal with family at the Dock in Plymouth for Pete’s 60th birthday, also another lovely meal at The Weary Friar…

 

 

We are trying to plan our next few stays ahead of time, and between us we’d decided to stay for the next few stops for 2-3 weeks at a time while getting used to the caravan etc so we are trying to plan where we shall stay for Christmas, this believe it or not hasn’t been easy, I like to be organised and so I find it stressful when Pete throws in curve balls of other ideas all this after we had already agreed on things, and planned out sites to stay at for the next couple of months… typically he then has ideas about changing all our laid out plans, the problem with this is we really need to pre book somewhere for Christmas season and right now due to that curve ball we now have no idea whether to stay around the SouthWest as we’d planned for the Christmas winter season, or to grab ourselves a seasonal camp job to keep us occupied and settle for the winter or whether to just start touring the country anyway in the next few weeks, the only thing we do know for sure so far, is that we need to be in Yorkshire in February…

Perhaps we will update you all when we ourselves are more sure of our plans…. until then have fun…

Take Care

Donna x

 

Bergues and our return to UK

So we left camping La Samaritaine on Tuesday 7th August we stopped into reception to make sure we were all paid up and let them know we were headed off after a short walk for Toffi and so said our farewells… while we were on our last short walk reception had brought us down a leaving gift, a bag full of goodies, bottles of beer, wine and biscuits for us… how lovely of them… it really was a fab friendly site and I would highly recommend it especially for families with children, as the children that were holidaying there all seemed to be having a fab time, they had all made new friends it would certainly be the sort of holiday any child would remember…

 

 

But alas our time with them was up, we had been there a month and it had just flown by, we had enjoyed the food from the chippy on site and also had been ordering a whole roasted chicken every Sunday… we had really been looked after at this site, but now it was time for us to be moving on, we travelled 200 miles North to the town of Bergues, our journey took us approx 5 hours all in a blistering heat of 37°+ this made it a rather uncomfortable journey, with no air conditioning on board, the air cooling fan although on the correct cold air setting was just blowing warm air around at us… even putting a hand outside the window as we were travelling to cool down proved futile, the whole world seemed just one big bag of hot, hot air… the dogs struggles were made more bearable by the wet cooling towel that was lain across her (oh… lucky her!!!)… We had decided to take the toll roads just to make the journey quicker but this is not cheap in France and our bill for 90 miles was €45 and because of our height of 3.2m and towing a trailer we are classed as class 4… but I loved the faces on the bridges on one of the towns we passed through…

 

We arrived at our next destination very hot, tired, hungry and in need of an easy pitch up… but what we received was far from that… now we had booked the site more than a month in advance, they had plenty advance warning of the type of pitch and services we would require etc… so they knew we were coming and that we were in a larger rig… the place was packed but mostly with permanent static caravans and they must then have 20 pitches for motorhomes/caravans/tents… it would seem all the level pitches that would have been suitable to us annoyingly had either smaller VW sized vans or tents pitched up on them… which made me even more angry at the situation and more hot under the collar with the people responsible for organising the site…

Pete went to book in and told them in pigeon French that we were pre-booked, however no paperwork was filled in which is very unusual and I believe they didn’t understand a word Pete had said to them he was also told cash only when paying, smells like someone’s cooking the books,  he was then shown 2 available plots, 1 where we would have no electric (not what we had pre-booked!!) and still would have been awkward to get onto… the next was just as awkward to get into as well, due to the narrow passageway leading onto the plot and then with a large flowering plant planted smack bang in the middle of the plot entrance, the pitch also being massively sloping with soft bare mud ground underneath, but it did have electric… I had visions of us causing mass damage to ourselves just getting onto and back off the pitch… I was one unhappy bunny all I can say is it’s a good job Pete is dealing with the site managers and not me…

 

 

We managed to get onto the pitch with help from our neighbours, 1 British couple in a caravan who were also clearly not happy with their pitch and then with having a large motorhome maneuvering nearby close to their precious caravan and 1 lovely Dutch couple in a tent touring on a motorbike and who had been placed on a pitch which would have ironically been ideal for us…

Well we ended up on the pitch after a faff about but it was near on impossible for us to maneuver about on it… so we ended pitched facing downwards on the slope with our habitation door opening directly into a bush, we were parked at such a sloping level there was no chance of us getting our boiler or fridge to work on gas either… and after seeing the state of the dated and dirty toilet/shower facilities this just left me even more angry… but we are only booked here for 3 days, to allow us to get the dogs passport and worming treatment signed off by the local vets and allow her permission to travel home… so we’ll just have to deal with it…

When I suggested to the warden yesterday (Wed) that we move off this pitch tomorrow morning before the heavy rain begins, otherwise we could become stuck and would that be ok to sit ourselves on the tarmac he replied in Franglish to stay put and pointing at our tow bar “not to worry we will find someone in a 4×4 and pull you out if you get stuck”… I’m so glad he’s a problem solver but the only issue there is the small detail of how much weight our tow bar can safely bare… the fact our motorhome weighs in at 3.5 tonne/3500kgs and our tow bar can only take 1 tonne/1000kg in pulling weight, puts a slight spanner in the works of his problem solving ability, now this would probably be information that would blow his mind but how was I going to explain this in Franglish??? plus the fact we would really need to be on our way to the Channel Tunnel by 9am and not fannying around finding a 4×4 to get us out of a pitch we shouldn’t have been put in in the first place… I gave up and decided to stop wasting my time… just because there is a tow bar on a vehicle…. doesn’t mean you can safely use it to pull that vehicles weight backwards up a sloping grassy bank and out of a mud fest jam….

The leveling blocks have done very little for leveling out the motorhome and to be honest even before any rain has started the blocks are already sinking into the muddy pitch under our weight, not only that each time we move around inside it feels like we are drunk and are seemingly drunk stumbling from one end of the motorhome to the other,  to top it off we are due some prolonged rain the pitch is mostly dry mud at present which is going to be delightful when it gets wet… after 2 nights like this I was in despair… there is now a pitch free I have spotted that is suitable so with rain due to start in an hour I’ve talked Pete into getting us onto this other pitch and fast… we managed to move… all is good in the world again…

The permanent residents here amused me by being really nosy, and although they seemed friendly enough they all claimed to not speak English but seem to want to talk with you anyway and cleverly they seem to be able to understand what you are saying to them (even though you are speaking in English)… they come out in droves to watch you when you first pitch up or if you attempt to move again… I can imagine them all on their telephones curtains twitching while reporting back to reception, whom may I also add claim not to speak any English either and given my utter dangerous mood is probably for the best anyway… it’s almost like you must gain the permanent residents permission to do anything here… I do hope they have told reception that we have moved now, because by this time I couldn’t be bothered to try to explain myself again to them as well…

Now we did have somewhat of a surprise with Toffi and the vets appointment, we were dreading taking her in for her worming treatment, she is not a dog that is treat based and rarely takes anything offered to her outside of her home environment… especially something offered to her in a stressful vets surrounding, but I had picked up some different tasty morsels at a shop on our walk there and it seemed I picked those morsels well… Toffi was put on the scales and it would also seem she has not been sticking to her diet… her own Vet will be very disappointed by this fact upon her return but we will deal with that later, after all we have prove she’s even scaled a mountain or two on her travels this year…

The Vet offered toffi the all important worming tablet… ha… like it was ever going to be that easy!!!… nope Toffi just turned her back to her and stood waiting, looking for the doorway to be opened ready for her escape… this is where Chocolate eclairs come into their own, forget ham/cheese/meats we tried these… just go straight for chocolate eclairs… after the vet placed the tablet inside the cream of the eclair then passed it to me to offer to Toffi… a couple of rubs on her nose gave her the taste of sweet treat and I managed to get her to scoff the tasty thing right down her throat in one go…  yep even the vet was impressed… and probably quite relieved too!!! treatment done, Passport signed stamped and dated… Toffi just has to wait 24 hours then she can travel…

 

There is an upside from being at this campsite Vauban and it would seem to be that the town of Bergues right on the doorstep which is very nice, it’s a walled town originally built in or around the 10th century with parts of it that have been destroyed in various calamity’s over time such as wars, fires, floods, bombs etc and with much of it restored or rebuilt over time and ever since mostly remaining in sympathy with the old original style and old remaining parts, in all fairness it is a nice thriving town with old parts and ruins to explore along with its many canals, with gaggles of Geese and walks which suited Toffi…

 

While exploring we also came across what is known locally as the haunted house the Maison du Fort Lapin in Hoymille… now sorry guys but I don’t do the whole believing in ghosts thing… I just don’t believe in stuff like that now I don’t like to offend those who do but I just don’t believe in life after death/ghosts/spirits etc, so yes of course we had to explore the building and no we weren’t scared!!! apparently a young girl died here, drowned in the basement during a flood and then people have since tried to renovate the building and 2 workers were killed while working on the building so naturally many people are now scared of the place and refuse to go near it, and then those believers in dark happenings and ghosts etc have now given it the reputation of being a haunted house… I’m sure others would have made something creepy of the fact that a huge murder of crows were in flight that day over head, there must have been over 100 birds in this flock!!!

 

Soon the day arrived that we were to travel back to the UK, the morning of 10th August 2018… we set off early for our drive to Calais and to the Channel Tunnel, with not one migrant in view along the route, we arrived at the Channel Tunnel about 10am and went through all the customs checks etc p.s. customs absolutely love seeing a dog with a photo in their passport… I have to admit Toffi has got a very cute picture for her passport photo and they loved her calling her by her full name and making a fuss and blowing kisses to her through the window…

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the train we were booked on was due to leave at 11:50am but if they have the space the lovely staff will always try to get you on earlier trains if they can so we were on board a train by 10:40am and on our way for the 35 minutes journey through the tunnel back into the UK… and because the UK is 1 hr behind we were back on UK turf by 10.15am where we continued our 6hr Journey towards Stonehenge Touring park where we will stay for 2 nights before travelling further back down towards Plymouth, Stonehenge Touring park is the first campsite we visited after leaving Plymouth at the beginning of the tour just before we left the UK last year for the tour, so seemed fitting to stop over here to complete our circle of the Europe tour this year.

P.s please note the language of wood pigeons seems pretty much universal…

Take Care

Donna x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything Changes…

We have been at this campsite for 3 weeks now and wow I have just got to mention the extremely hot weather… the whole of Europe has it seems had a massive heatwave this year, the temperatures here in the last few days reaching up to 40°c converted this becomes a staggering 104°f  now those of you who reside permanently in hotter countries will probably just chuckle and shrug this off as pretty average… but for the likes of people like me acclimatised to cooler climates, this is a very unsuitable and uncomfortable temperature… did I mention us Brits are pretty much used to rain, damp and the cold, to us 18°/25°c are pretty good summer temperatures, the country becomes a pretty humid hot pot if we hit good weather summer months…. We mostly just don’t do well with extreme temperatures in fact I myself am pretty lousy with extreme temperatures either way hot or cold I suffer with super low blood pressure and extreme temps can lower that even more so I struggle, sweat or shiver with just normal minor temp changes….

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Well after struggling with the higher temperatures for several weeks now in the back of my mind I have been begging for the standard normal cooler UK weather… yes I hear you all thinking I must clearly be some sort of lunatic!!! but in the height of this heat I was actually resorting to sharing the dogs wet cooling towels with her and hugging a frozen hot water bottle!!! yep I actually got my hot water bottle out half filled it with water and I froze that bad boy!!!  You will never know quite how much I appreciated having a freezer in the motorhome at this point…. Although I did notice I was receiving some pretty strange looks from people who must have thought I was crazy to be carrying what appeared to be a hot water bottle around with me in this heat… I am thinking of looking up how to do a rain dance for extra relief…

The fire risk in Europe is very high at the moment and sitting in a crowded campsite with so many people having barbeques or burning citronella candles is also making me slightly nervous, I am surprised the site hasn’t told people not to use their barbeques right now, the family opposite us had their barbeque right up close to the separation hedge yesterday freshly lit with flames leaping from it and with someones caravan just a couple of foot away on the other side of the hedge… Amazing how people can be so complacent and lax about it right now especially after witnessing videos and pictures of the sad disaster of raging fires that took place in Greece just this week, there are fires breaking out it would seem everywhere as countries battle the intense heatwave and these fires are spreading so quickly with the dryness of the trees, shrubbery and land as a whole…  just today we heard that somewhere we had visited during our tour “Tarifa” is sadly burning badly right now as I type…

With all this talk of high temperatures within this blog post it leads me nicely onto info regarding your motorhome fridge/freezers the last few days I have seen several social media posts from people asking for advise as their motorhomes/caravans fridges/fridge freezers are struggling in this heat, now further conversations reveal these people tend to turn up their fridge thermostats to full in the hopes that this will compensate and help with the fridges performance, this in fact doesn’t help as it just makes the fridges work harder increasing the workload and forcing the fridge to work overtime… turn those thermostats down people ours is a dometic 3 way fridge freezer and currently roughly on the halfway point and our freezer is freezing my water bottles no problems… if you have a freezer make sure you fill it with frozen goods/pre frozen freezer blocks if you are only just starting the fridge up or just to help it maintain temperature and while on you want the freezer compartment to be almost full as it helps maintain the temperature a half empty compartment won’t be as efficient if you haven’t much food in it try filling it with something like a loaf of bread, a bag ice cubes or freezer blocks the rest of the way… it will help with the freezer temperature in the long run and also be much more economical…

Now at the risk of sounding like a meany or some miserable old person… let me be the first to admit I am not always the most maternal of women, it’s obviously the school holiday time… but I have noticed the clientele of campsites are much, much different during these busy times compared to the off season or year long, all weather clientele and than those we have grown used too over the last year, I have started humorously calling these people in my head “fair weather or part time campers”… The parents are clearly so much more stressed out during this time, which is of course unsurprising, but this also means so many of the stressed out people are far less friendly…  We’ve only had 2 families even say hello or have a chat in the last 3 weeks we have been here, but both of these families were may I add lovely with really pleasant children, one little girl with her little brother in tow came to ask if she could pet Toffi, with her Mother and father closely following also asking to make sure this was ok with us and in conversation telling us they had had a staffie as a family pet, of course Toffi was in her element and both children were very cute and aware of how to handle a dog correctly…

 

Toffi hasn’t really wanted walkies in this heat and to be fair it wouldn’t be right to walk a dog in this heat for the good of their own health, so apart from a the quick bathroom break walks during the day of no more than a few minutes she is walked when she wakes early before the sun fully heats the day and then in the evening when the heat from the sun is starting to ease we take a stroll and she gets to stretch her legs… the rest of the day she spends lounging in front of the fan (that in all fairness in this heat is just moving around hot air) with a cooling towel placed upon her belly in fact below is a rather fetching and sophisticated photo of her sporting and modeling said cooling towel…

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Luckily where we are at present there are small streams running alongside a tree shaded lane and the big lake has been more than handy as she’s been dipping in and out of these on her walks and gaining some relief from the heat… although she gave herself and us a scare the other day when she lost her footing at the edge of the lake and fell right in, Toffi is most definitely not a elegant water dog in fact her swimming ability is completely inept and lacking in any type of style, she definitely has absolutely no finesse while in water, at one point even her little head went under and she had the look of sheer panic in her eyes… yep we have to be constantly ready to jump right in and rescue her due to her inability to float…

Whilst on the campsite we can hear the sound of a local church whose bells ring out parts of the tune Frére Jacques a french nursery rhyme but we couldn’t work out entirely where the church was that was playing the tune, until one evening we took a walk down to the next tiny hamlet here of Bar de la Buzancy, a lovely quaint little hamlet the locals waved a hello to us as we passed by with us also disturbing some of the local dogs along our way through, taking a couple of little photos the time was 8.45pm and just as we were walking past the church there its bells rang out the very tune we had been hearing, surprisingly they were pretty loud, well loud enough to startle me as I really wasn’t expecting it to be from this church…

 

 

Brother John rhyme lyrics in French and English below:

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques
Dormez-vous, dormez-vous?
Sonnez le matines, sonnez le matines
Ding ding dong, ding ding dong

Are you sleeping, are you sleeping
Brother John, Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing
Ding ding dong, ding ding dong

 

After strolling through the hamlet it was time to find our way back and head back towards the direction of the campsite, as we were walking along the pathway 3 French Gitan/Gypsy families in their vans towing their caravans drove past us they all beeped their horns and waved at us and of course we waved back at each in turn, the French Gitan are so much more accepted and seem quite friendly, its really lovely and of course I was quickly full of humour, telling Pete I had now come to the conclusion that we were obviously fully accepted into the full time gypsy travelling lifestyle and community, Pete however said they were more likely only waving and beeping due to the fact we had Toffi with us, because of the breed of dog she is… after all she always seems to get lots of attention from everyone wherever we go and it seems to make it just so obvious that we are British travellers all this just from our choice of dog breed!!!

We then wandered down the road and came across the local graveyard by this time Toffi needed some water and there’s always water available in graveyard so in we wandered, while there looked around… well I never knew that that once you buy your plot your grave can be pre fitted and be ready & waiting for you to pass away and be put into it… maybe it’s normal but it seemed pretty bizarre to me and just a little creepy!!!

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This past week or so has been a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster for myself, I had to make the painful decision to hand my notice into my employer of nearly 2 decades, and to be fair it took a shockingly heavy toll on me… while working there I had made such good friends, which if I am honest, some of these people had become more like family to me than work colleagues over those many years…  I had already missed being in the company of many of them terribly over the past year of my sabbatical… and now had to face the reality of never working with them or perhaps not even seeing some of them again…

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Both Pete and I had worked for the same very well known International Corporation in well paid positions for the better part of our entire working lives… together we had racked up 45 yrs of working for this very company, so although we’ve survived well for the last year with me being on an unpaid sabbatical and without these wages coming in… it’s still a very scary thing giving up your employment entirely and moving on, especially when you have never known not being employed, we have certain incomes to live on and so far we have budgeted and managed well whilst living on the road… but we have thought of other ways we could perhaps earn extra income if we needed to, perhaps we shall look into these things further if need be or we shall just carry on living the dream and travelling as we have been this year…

I’d had a message from my brother telling me my mother had taken a rather bad fall and has broken her fema bone and is now laid up in hospital… I have spoken with her and she seems to be in good spirits, well as good as can be given the situation anyway!!! The doctors will know more on Monday of how they can proceed with treatment… I am really hoping for her that the bone can somehow manage to heal itself in a splint rather than have to be operated on as this very same leg that was severely injured in a motorcycle accident she was involved in many, many years ago… back when I was still a teenager… My mum has had so many operations on this leg in the past, that many that I have lost count of the exact number… so it would be awful for her if she had to have yet another… so I am keeping my fingers crossed for Mondays news!!!

We return to the UK in just over 2 weeks from now, where we will be catching up with family and friends and then looking into buying a suitable 4×4 vehicle for towing a caravan instead if successful maybe next year our travels will be with a car and caravan instead of a motorhome…

Enough of my miserable old person ramblings for today, we’ll see what tomorrow brings!!!

Take care

Donna x

 

The village of Buzancy in Ardenne!!

We arrived next at Campsite De La Chaume, a quaint nice little campsite that had a relaxed atmosphere and very friendly, helpful owners, the camp is placed beside a small stream amongst a small patch of woodland and nearby to the small town of Corcieux…..

 

 

We stayed here for 8 nights from the 30th June to the morning of the 8th July and to be fair we did very little exploring during this stay as the temperatures where a high 30°+ and our poor little Toffi was battling with the heat and pretty much unwilling to move far from the Endless breeze fan that seemed to be on constantly for her, with an added device of a wet dog cooling towel wrapped around her belly, although I have to admit I was pretty much enjoying sitting close to the fan with some cuddles thrown in too!!!…

It’s not wise to walk a dog in extreme heat and I certainly didn’t want her feeling unwell so chill time took over and we relaxed and allowed Toffi to determine when was and wasn’t a good time for walkies!!! We had purchased Toffi one of those gel filled cooling pads for her to lounge upon on sunny warm days but after her only using it a couple of times her claws had torn the outer material and the gel started seeping out from the inside… so I was glad that at the same time I had purchased the dog cooling towel which is much more hardy… I have no idea how these work but once wet down they remain cold to the touch and you either lay it across their belly or around their necks and I must admit it actually works a treat… she thoroughly loved it and happily laid with it over her belly keeping her nice and cool back at the motorhome!!!

 

We literally only managed to walk the short distance to the village on a couple of occasions during our stay, even then Toffi struggled on one of those trips… so we didn’t get many photo’s of the place as we were more concerned with keeping the dog cool in the streams along the way than we were with taking photos…

There were some other Brits on site who we chatted and made friends with, one chap called Richard who funny enough originated from Saltash, and is friends with the owners of a camp we shall be visiting in a few weeks time, hopefully we can get together at some point when back in the UK and chat about all of our adventures and equipment over a few glasses of wine…

As mentioned we left Camp Chaume on the morning of the 8th July 2018 at 9.30am we had for us anyway a long 200km journey to our next camp, we also had to get grocery shopping, so we made that our 1st stop… shopping done by 10.30am and us €190 lighter, then with diesel purchased and another €70 lighter off we set, food shop costs in France seem obscenely expensive and to be honest in some supermarkets the fresh food doesn’t seem to keep very long, unless you are fortunate enough to buy it from local farmers markets where the fruit and veg available are much fresher…  so we tend to do fortnightly big shops we fill the freezer and fridge with enough to keep us going for a couple of weeks!!! If we come across a local market that is always a bonus!!!

I hadn’t adjusted the satnav since Switzerland and it was still set to Toll roads etc we decided to keep it on for the tolls mainly because we were already expecting it to take us approx 6+ hours and so we didn’t mind if we hit the toll motorways in the hope that it may have sped up the travelling time, but to be fair although we hit the motorways we didn’t hit any toll motorways and as expected we managed to roll into the next camp at 4.30pm after… yep 6 hours driving…

We stopped for a couple of short 10 minute breaks along our way for Toffi to relieve herself, stretch her legs and for us to snatch a quick sip of coffee from a flask and a snack for ourselves, luckily in France no Lorries are allowed to drive on the roads over the weekends unless carrying essential perishable food based products, being used for essential food based production or if they are carrying livestock… this means the roads are much lighter on heavy goods vehicle traffic but the laybys and truck stops are full with lorries waiting for Monday so they may start to move on, this meant that on a couple of our attempted rest stops we were unable to park and were forced to move onto find the next chance of stopping…

 

 

France is such a slow country to drive through, but to be honest it’s also a great country to drive through its so scenic and tranquil but no matter how hard I try the speed and mileage just don’t seem to add up for me… for example it seems to take us on average 1 whole hour to drive just 30 kms/18.5 miles according to the satnav, no matter what type roads we take, partly this is due to us being in a large vehicle with dimensions of 3.2m in height 7.2m in length and on top of that towing a trailer, so we are further restricted by laws here to HGV speed of just 55 mph on motorways/dual carriageways, sometimes up to 50 mph on single carriageways, 30 mph down to 18 or less mph through some towns or built up areas…  so yep its slow and steady all the way through France… should be fun on our next journey as its approx 280 kms distance from here so should be a good 8+ hrs driving… we will see!!!

We had pre-booked and paid for a comfort part grass and part hardstanding pitch for a whopping 30 nights at our next stop La Samaritaine, we figured the school holidays are starting and the sites are starting to get busy so the same as we handled the Christmas period we thought it was better to find somewhere settle in and sit the family holiday season out…  the site knew our dimensions and needs before we arrived so we also knew we would get pitched up without trouble…

True to their word once we did finally arrive tired and beaten from the long journey we were given a choice of 4 different suitable pitches, there was one pitch that Pete really liked the look of it was really long but I decided it would be awkward to keep the dog under control leash wise and to play fair so that if a longer rig turns up they might well need that space, so we chose pitch 83 instead it’s still plenty big enough for us, we eagerly got ourselves set up even getting the bikes out of the trailer straight away so that we would make sure we made use of them during our stay here!!!

The site is nice with large pitches we have a fully serviced pitch which means we have our own water/drain/electric on pitch this saves us from the worry of having to fill the water tank manually over that time period or even moving the motorhome to a water point to fill it when needed once set up which is always nice…

We have been here for 11 nights already… and much to my shame I haven’t even updated this blog in weeks… The site we are on is called La Samaritaine and run by a Dutch family it’s part of a group called Flower camping, it is clean tidy and very well maintained with a great, friendly, helpful reception team who all seem multilingual, I spoke with a lovely young lad briefly who must have been in his teens helping with the family business behind reception he stepped in when others were busy and spoke perfect English with me, was so gentlemanly and well mannered his parents have a lot to be proud of, there is a great takeaway cafe bar on site which also do good honest food and their chips are amazing… we’ve used it a few times already and we were very grateful it was there the evening we arrived being just too tired to cook something ourselves, you can even order a whole cooked chicken on a Sunday for €7 which was also lovely, if possible we plan to do this again on Sunday and make ourselves a lazy roast dinner with some roast potatoes, veg and gravy!!!

There is a large bone shaped pond on the outskirts of the camp where people can swim, although I admit I haven’t been brave enough to swim in yet as swimming in ponds isn’t really my thing… but there is a also a seperate beach part to it which is great for families and they are all having a great time there!!! The pond is also great for a relaxing picnic and walking the dog around in the cool hours of the day there are so many interesting types of insects here and the wildlife is abundant, so the pond has a great impact and seems to be an important part of the biodiversity here… we also had a small frog visit our camp pitch I very almost stood on the poor mite but I can assure you I made sure he was safe and well…

 

 

 

Just past the large pond is a small walk into the town, where horses graze in the fields on one side and cows in fields on the other side there are 2 interesting semi circular buildings along this route, one which is sadly almost derelict belonging to the bovine area part of the structure the other renovated into stables and clearly for the Equine half of the structure but both great magnificent buildings now and in their past nonetheless…

 

 

It was the important French day of Bastille on the 14th July here and the French get to celebrate the French revolution and from what I can gather the storming of Bastille prison to release the political prisoners… obviously we couldn’t let it pass without buying a few bottles of wine for reception to share out between their diners on site so they could raise a glass between themselves for their special day of celebrations!!!

We strolled into the nearby town where we found the ATM upstairs in a locked building a local man allowed me to follow him in to gain access to the cash machine and I promptly broke the bank door on the way out much to an older couples horror… it was one of those situations where you wish the ground to open up and swallow you whole… I apologised and quickly made for my escape!!!

The rest of the walk in the town was pleasant enough we took photos, relaxed on a local bench surrounded by pretty flower beds and took interest into the history of the buildings and statues in the town…

 

The weather has been so very hot 30°+ with mostly full on sunshine and blue skies since we have been here with just a couple of cooler days, on those days we had managed to venture out, the rest of the time Toffi and I can be found sheltering and trying our hardest to keep cool inside, shaded away from the hot sun… whilst Pete can be found sat outside on a lounger enjoying the sun and heat, topping up his tan!!!

Well hopefully we shall have more to tell you regarding the lovely area before our time here is up until then take care…

Donna x

Campsite De La Chaume 8 nights total cost €105/€13.1pn also collected 1 stamp for our sites & paysages free stay and another stamp into the next claim booklet (as they are only allowed one stamp per booklet to gain us 5 nights free stay per completed booklet)            GPS N48°10’5″ E6°53’23”

Campground La Samaritaine €657 for 30 nights which works out to still be a reasonable €21.90 per night at peak holiday season for a fully serviced hard standing and grass pitch                 GPS N49°25’34” E4°56’24”

 

Tiny Town of Sulzburg, Germany

We left Switzerland and the wonderful mountain view at 11am on the 27th June 2018 and decided we would head to Germany… So I quickly scrolled through the ACSI campsite app and basically picked the nearest decently reviewed one to accompany our route back up to Calais… We had been given advice from a couple of German friends of great places to head for and to visit etc… but I searched nearby venues and campsites to these areas… there seemed to be none very nearby considering we have to take into account our size dimensions of the vehicle and how far we can safely walk with the dog in this sweltering hot weather, the places looked stunning and we would have loved visiting them but they were just not feasible at this present time… but we have them listed down for when we perhaps get to another chance and maybe a change of transport!!!

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So onwards we headed with our journey out of Switzerland and into Germany… we travelled mainly by motorway just for ease and speed… approaching the German border was a little confusing and Pete nearly went into the import taxing truck lane with us thinking their may have been some sort of height barrier ahead and not entirely realising it was in fact the German border ahead!!! So it was quite amusing having the German border patrol waving us to go into the other lane and carry on through as we didn’t need to pay them any taxes… oups!!!

Once we drove on through the Border we found ourselves now on the German motorways (Lorries and larger vehicles drive very sensibly due to regulations here… but the car drivers are completely insane on German motorways!!!)… We arrived a few hours after leaving Switzerland at our next stop Camping Sulzbachtal in the small town of Sulzburg  (Black Forest Country!!!)

The weather has been a sweltering 30°+ since we got here and is I think due to continue but I hear it is the same over most of the NW Europe with heat waves reported far and wide… The heat has made it so hard to sleep and fully rest at night even with as many windows as possible open I still feel like I am melting… Pete seems to have been suffering from a repeated head/neck ache so to be fair other than a couple of walks into the small town we have mainly just chilled out while being here… the campsite is fine with nice big pitches, clean good facilities, friendly reception, bread available to order, purchased camp wifi good but cost €6.50 for timed 6 hrs usage… I haven’t seen any other Brits here apart from ourselves it seems mainly Dutch, Belgium and German travellers on site who have may I add have all been friendly…

 

We took ourselves on a walk to the small town where I took pictures, ummed and ahhed at all the different buildings, we then sat at the only open cafe in the town and had lunch where the lady serving patiently allowed me to try out my poor German language skills on her and where we also allowed her to try her English language skills on us, both asking if we were correct or how to ask for this and that… it was a really nice conversation and we were both encouraging each other as it was both down to our lack of confidence holding us all back!!!

 

We had a really good chat amongst ourselves, we asked if many British visited here and she told us not too many, mainly Dutch and how she had previously visited England… She didn’t enjoy her stay there… she had been shocked by English culture and the society she had been faced with, the heavy drinking and somewhat out of control aggressive attitudes she had received when she was there… and I can guess the rest!!!  To be honest we have travelled for 10+ months through Europe and very rarely met anyone who wasn’t pleasant or welcoming to us… maybe the odd grump having a bad day but we all get them…

Perhaps this is a lesson us Brits can learn from, as I also think society and attitudes in Britain have changed seemingly much for the worse lately, this is especially evident on social network websites such as facebook where some of the posts literally make me either angry or cringe with their downright fascist, racist nastiness, untrue fact memes with their clear false accusations, which has been even more prevalent since the Brexit debacle started!!! Any Brit that truly thinks EU had total control over us as was being spread via social media etc etc is deluded… why? because our government has always, always had the right to stop any rulings going through exactly the same as the other 27 countries involved, we always had control of our borders it’s just we ourselves didn’t do our duties and our government didn’t discuss their general public’s fear or feelings with other countries openly enough when we felt overwhelmed, we just have ourselves and our governments to blame, not other countries…  remember also we are teaching the next generation… teach them badly and this can come back to bite… perhaps try to teach friendship, tolerance, conversational skills & compassion, instead of hate, bitterness, sourness and lies…

Well anyway we had a lovely lunch Pete started with a coffee, then a beer along with a refreshing local dish which consisted of a thin Pizza base, Sour cream, cream cheese, spring onions and bacon bits (Lardons), I had a couple of cups of coffee and chips as a snack as I wasn’t too hungry or should I say… Pomme Frites und zwei tassen von Kaffee mit milch und sucra… all at a very reasonable price… We said our Thanks and goodbyes to the cafe’s staff and wished each other well before we parted ways…

 

Whilst walking the streets here the history is evident and as far as we have witnessed lessons learned from it…  with a hope not to allow history to repeat itself in any way, shape or form, this is a fair fear amongst our EU friends, so we should all remain humble and remember the suffering that is caused by people being easily manipulated, swallowing/spreading lies without researching truth and turned against each other, however the means and whether this be consciously or otherwise, stay wise people don’t be easily led like sheep into disarray and hatred!!!

It’s so easy for just one person to rock the boat and change normally reasonable peoples views into something much more sinister which is far from reasonably normal and then before we know it dreadful, unimaginable things can occur… as has clearly happened in the past between countries!!! Here’s proof and a reminder these things do happen, however much to other peoples surprise and sometimes disgust we have stayed away from all war sites upon our travels deliberately, not due to any disrespect but so as not to be overwhelmed by the sadness of such things ever happening!!!

 

Anyway we left the lovely campsite Sulzbachtal at 11am on the 30th June 2018 and planned to cross briefly back into France for an opportunity to get our sites & paysages book stamped again… we stopped at a German supermarket on the way which had some amazing fresh veg and fruit on display, once topped up with enough to keep us going for another week we travelled 80 kms to our next stop Campsite De La Chaume where we have booked in for 8 nights to allow rest and to recoup, the heat has been stifling and driving in it today was a pretty bad experience for Toffi who was overheating and panting for the whole journey even though we’d stopped a few times along the journey, we even stopped for KFC, its first time we have had anything from a fast food chain for nearly 12 months, was massively disappointed when we waited 20 minutes for chicken and found we only had drumsticks in the bargain bucket!!!

Well off to go sit and enjoy the shelter and shade of the tree on our pitch will have more exciting stuff to update next time perhaps!!!

Take care

Donna x

Camping Sulzbachtal 3 nights on ACSI rate €19 Per night total bill + taxes/electric €75.30 GPS N47°50’52” E7°41’53”

 

 

 

 

Majestic Mountains & Crazy Cable Cars!!!

On Friday morning the mountains were looking far too moody to even be approached, they were enveloped within a thick fog, so we decided to check out the small town of Engleberg instead, we took a 30 minute woodland stroll to get there, you could certainly feel the chill when in the shade of the trees, but we soon found the small town nestled in amongst all the other surrounding mountains, on the outskirts of town is a huge ski jump slope along with what in the winter would obviously be ski slopes nestled in amongst the hills and mountainsides, the actual town consists of a huge Monastery, a hospital, a few bars, restaurants, some small shops, cafes and hotels which are dotted along its attractive clean streets… We were thinking of stopping at a cafe for coffee until Toffi decided she didn’t like the look of a dog sat at a nearby table and wanted to pick an argument, so on we stumbled hastily and embarrassingly dragging the troublesome Toffi away with us…

 

 

The fog had lifted by the time we made it back to camp and the day had turned into a warm sunny and pleasant afternoon… On the Saturday morning we awoke to full sunshine with only one or two small fluffy clouds in the sky… It was the day I had been dreading… the day of the mountain cable car ride and to face my fears… and it would seem I just couldn’t put it off or find any excuse to get out of this today!!!

We walked the 30 minute hike to the cable car ride and purchased our return ride tickets… before I knew it the next cable car was arriving and we were boarding along with 4 other passengers… we boarded and I was scared… I have got to acknowledge I was not a great passenger to be onboard with… I was nervous the whole way, I managed to take a couple of pictures right up until the opposite cable car whizzed past us and I then realised we were just half way up!!! from then on I was sat starring anywhere but out of the windows… chattering away to myself literally like some mad woman possessed with regard to what the hell did I think I was doing and just what was I thinking getting on one of these things???!!!  I was genuinely scared out of my wits and just couldn’t wait to get solid ground under my feet!!! Toffi however behaved impeccably and even laid down when she was told too, I think she could sense my fear, I was petrified she would get over excited when one of the other passengers started to pet and fuss her and in turn cause this thing to start rocking around like crazy and freak me out even more!!!

 

 

Once at the top and again on solid ground I gave myself a few minutes to get my act together stop myself shaking and become acclimatized to the surroundings, while Toffi and Pete went on a bit of a wander… My fear of heights is really not as bad so long as my feet are on solid high ground, but even if I am on a bridge, I become nervous… in a vehicle going over a bridge a little more nervous… but in that cable car I was well and truly freaked!!! I think it has something to do with the lack of control and trust in the structures more than the height itself!!! But well I made it up, whether I could make it back down in the same fashion was a different matter altogether!!!

With myself calmed and sorted, feeling good that my feet were now back on solid ground it was time for a drink and some food, we had a fabulous lunch at the restaurant on the mountainside which has some fantastic panoramic views…

 

 

With lunch over and us refueled it was now time to explore, take in the beauty of the mountains and enjoy the views from up so high, also to decide just how we were getting down!!! After a brief discussion it was concluded there was just no way on earth I was willing to take one step back onto that cable car, I really didn’t mind walking down off this mountain alone either, we had each come prepared for a long hike back down anyway… I gave Pete the cable car tickets and the option to take the ride back down if he wanted too… but he was told me he was also fine with the hike down the mountain on foot and that the motion of the cable car wasn’t a pleasant feeling for himself either and he had started to feel a little motion sick on the way up (besides he knows my sense of direction is also pretty lousy and that I would most likely get lost on the way back down my own anyway!!!) so after a brief stint on the mountain, admiring the magical views and then watching closely as the clouds started to roll back in, off we set for a marathon hike down off the side of a mountain…

 

 

here’s the video taken at the top of the mountain which is linked via my facebook account… so here goes let me know if it works…. Enjoy…

The hike down wasn’t easy going on the feet, knees or legs, although it wasn’t overly hard either for the average fit and able bodied person as there were no direct rock faces to be climbed down etc, it’s classed as a medium hardness hike as no ropes are needed no hard direct climbing involved… so to be fair it was pretty much like hiking down through a steep stoney wooded area, we didn’t rush ourselves, but it took us a good 3 hours to hike back down just to the reach the bottom of the mountain, the loose shingle underfoot on the pathways was the main bugbear as it made the footing surface unstable and slippery even in sturdy walking shoes, it was also sometimes a steep descent which meant it would be easy to lose your footing on the surface if you weren’t careful, and looking over the edge it might have been just a bit of a fall in some places!!!

 

 

But by midway down both our legs felt like jelly caused mainly from the continued steep descent angles we were walking at and we still had half the journey to complete, we could see the tiny town we needed to get back too far down in the distance below us, it took on the appearance of a toy town with the buildings looking so small and tiny…

The next day were we both paying for it… my lower back refused to bend, with my knees and upper legs pretty stiff along with many sore tender muscles that just hadn’t worked that hard in months… It was funny on our way down Pete seemed to be suffering the worst and I would photograph him, when he realised I was onto him starting to flag, we would laugh and joke, and I would be offering him a helping hand along with some sweet sugary coffee from the flask… even the dog flagged badly at one point and it seemed I was the last one standing and still raring to go…. but the next day it would seem Pete and the dog had the last laugh… watching as I was now the one hobbling around like some mad demented looking old woman who just wasn’t able to even stand upright, no wonder they have trained physios and masseuses available here at camp, I was pretty tempted to book us all in!!!…

 

 

So, would we do it again??? oh boy, yes of course in a blink of an eye… the mountains are such amazingly addictive places to take adventures and explore on, both idyllic and at the same time wonderfully scary places with ever changing weather systems but on those clear days the views from the tops of them are just breathtaking (even if the cable car did seem like a ride into some sort of hell, well for me personally anyway!!!)

There are a lot of wayside shrines scattered around on the mountains and at the base of the mountains with protective Saintly religious figures inside… I guess to help protect the wayward, weary or lost traveller along on their journeys…

 

 

Now I must admit I really like this campsite, it’s amazing with great views, spotlessly clean, attractive, plenty to do in the area, good wifi, shop, restaurant, great showers (although you have to pay 1 franc for 4 minutes hot water and pay extra for use of the swimming pool and saunas etc) plus all the other other great facilities nearby…

 

 

But last week I had allowed Pete to search for our next stop (which was this site) as it’s usually me doing the search for the next stops and to be fair I wasn’t sure how far into Switzerland we wanted to go… plus as in Pete’s words “we don’t always have to stick with ACSI sites for discounts, other campsites have great offers and the prices aren’t all that different”, (I often use the ACSI app when choosing stops as it is pretty clear exactly what you will be paying and you can also check out reviews etc from other previous campers, Pete doesn’t he just searches on the internet for campsites, and I didn’t double check it for its ACSI membership just in case… also the campsite didn’t mention ACSI membership on its website either, but I now really regret not checking!!!)

It wasn’t until we were chatting to another British couple on site yesterday who mentioned this was actually an ACSI member site at €19 a night, so fair enough I went to check that out on the app and yes, it sure is… but Pete had failed to show, ask or even mention the ACSI card when booking or on arrival… so I went up today to pre-pay and hopefully get it at the discounted ACSI price…

Nope disappointingly we were billed at full price and it has made it very costly… I mean really costly… when travelling full time on a budget!!!  but they did mention they had charged us on their own deal of 7 for the price of 6 nights… take my advice if you plan to come to this site outside of the peak season of July/August make sure you use and mention upon booking or at arrival that you are booking via an ACSI card as there are only 26 pitches available on site at that discounted rate looking at it, so if you pitch on an undiscounted pitch it doubles the final price you will pay… even though the actual price difference for pitches is 2 francs!!!

What’s more the pitches are all practically the same, I seriously do not see the differences in many of them… they have a 5 class pitch method Standard CHF12/Superior CHF14/Comfort CHF16/Prestige CHF16/Caravan pitches CHF20 the only ones that are really different that I can see are the Comfort and prestige pitches where you have your own water pipe/waste outlet on pitch… so it makes you wonder why exactly are you paying different prices for standard and superior… we are on what they class a Superior pitch corner plot (there is no on pitch water/drainage access here etc) we like others have a great view of the mountains but the pitch beside us looks just like a standard pitch also and again nothing ultra special but is also classed as superior and it cant be for the view as they are looking the side of our motorhome so the price difference should have been CHF14… it’s strange… at a guess it’s just a good money earner for the campsite!!!

But here’s the shocker… with regard to actual pricing differences… had we used our ACSI upon arrival the total cost would have been just €19 a night for the 7 nights…

With ACSI card            total           €133 / CHF153.38 = £116.96

Without ACSI card      total           €248/CHF286.60    = £218.09

total price difference we paid was £101.13 instead of having us pay the extra CHF14 francs which has left me a little upset…

To put it into context that’s almost a weeks camp fees for us full time travellers that we are now paying extra!!! Now we don’t leave Camping Eienwaldi until the morning of 27th so I guess if the campsites owners were decent about it and did care about us showing our feelings of being a little ripped off in reviews… they could always approach us we are on pitch 38 and offer us a further discount as a good will gesture or even give us a free pint, burger and chips each in the restaurant… that would help take the sour taste from of my mouth, plus we are actually starving right now and skint!!! I am trying my hardest to remain unbiased in my opinion on the campsite overall as it is really awesome and I really don’t want to have to give it a bad review for this mishap, plus Pete is currently getting an ear ache after my nagging to him of the importance of the constant showing of the ACSI/ADAC/CCC cards on arrival which I didn’t realise at the time he hadn’t done in this case!!!

I have contacted ASCI today, reported the issue spoken to them on the telephone and hope they can clarify what happens in situations as such, I guess the camp have 2 days now where they could at least approach me and make it right!!! after all I have spent the last 10 months travelling campsites and reviewing each campsite for the travelling public, I don’t mind paying the extra 2 francs per night for the cost difference of the pitches but that certainly doesn’t come close to the £100 we have currently been in my view overcharged by… Never in that 10 months have we been charged full price upon showing the ACSI card at payment!!! so while the football season is ongoing I am currently stewing over this matter and showing the red card of foul play here!!!

Well I will be sure to update you all in the next blog post… perhaps as an episode of the Tintenttravellers tales of woe, expensive mistakes & misfortunes!!! but for now we must rest our aching limbs and refuel our bodies with food before any more adventures!!!

Take care… and have fun on your adventures!!!

Donna x

Camping Eienwaldi  N46°48’36” E8°25’21”  ACSI rate €19 per night, without ACSI our final bill came to £218.09     £36.34 = €41,29 per night (ouchies for our budget, make sure you use your discount cards people… don’t be left feeling ripped off!!!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mountain Moods…

We arrived with lovely blue skies over head at Camping Einewäldi at 2.15pm on the 20th June 2018 and what more could we ask for just look at that view!!! the facilities are spotless, free decent wifi and the campsite is pristine!!! This is more like the Switzerland I was hoping to find…

We set up then took a short hours ramble, to take in the breathtaking scenery that was before our very eyes… Toffi also enjoyed a dip in the ice cold mountain stream and loved the walk too!!!

We took Toffi back to the motorhome after our walk for her to take a snooze while we checked out the place… we found the washing machines, the dog shower and human washrooms etc then went to the hotel shop bought some bits and had a quick drink at the hotel bar before heading back to Snoffles AKA Toffi…

Pete had been looking at things to do while in the area and found that the longest pedestrian suspension bridge is around here up in the mountains, somewhere, and he’s wondering if I am up for that??… he then went on to tell me there’s another bridge that’s also the highest in the area… I am pretty much not up for heights of any kind… I would probably freeze in fear or have to get across and back on my hands and knees… feel free to check out National Geographic’s youtube video about the longest one… but hey… it might be worth looking into just for an adventure while we are here…

So the day after we arrived,  refreshed and ready to explore off we headed towards the waterfall walk and to find where the cable cars and other transport left from… We were pretty disappointed by the bottom of the waterfall to be honest, I had this massive waterfall pictured in mind, perhaps it’s bigger and much more magnificent in snow melt season… we then headed just down the road to check out the cable cars not being one for heights I was pretty horrified people actually voluntarally get into these!!! but watch this space… I have a feeling I am going to have to put my big girl pants on in the next few days and face up to at least getting near to the top of this mountain via cable car!!! the cable car ride is 18.50 Swiss francs 16.50 with a tourist card discount for the return journey… apparently this cable car takes us 1,850 metres up… and the mountain peak is approx 2,500 metres… boy… yeah… am I looking forward to this!!! perhaps I shall beat my fear of heights or perhaps I shall need a rescue team to help get me back down!!!

Pete was wanting to do the mountain trip today but to be fair I talked him out of it as the mountains were looking a little Moody with lots of cloud cover, once up there I would at least like to take some photographs to prove I actually did go up, wouldn’t exactly be views for miles with lots of cloud cover would there??… plus we were only wearing shorts/T-shirts and didn’t have any backpacks or any better and more appropriate clothing with us… I think he thought I was bottling out already but trust me I am really trying not to… it was 22° down at the base of the mountain, but get to the top and it can be -3° in the summer plus wind chill… I can’t believe I had to remind him it would perhaps be a little chilly in shorts and a vest top at the top of a mountain so we should at least take a jacket perhaps???…

Instead we took a 5 hour hike along the base of the mountains, on our way back we watched some rock climbers doing their thing… Toffi had a great walk and was exhausted by the time we got home, but of course she made friends with the local bovine again….

We managed to return just 30 minutes before the storm set in… although beautiful all mountain areas are moody and unpredictable weather wise as the pictures here reflect… but our timing was marvelous!!!

Enough for now… until next time where I shall update you all as to whether I successfully conquered my fear of heights or indeed if I had to be rescued from any of our adventures…

Take care

Donna x

Camping Eienwaldi  N46°48’36” E8°25’21”  approx 44 Swiss francs per night but will confirm exact amount when we get billed

 

Switzerland!!!

We made it to Switzerland!!! Yep we too are amazed that’s another country we can add to the list we aimed to cover so many more countries than we have so far on this trip, it’s hard not to feel disappointed with ourselves but with 50 stops to our trip so far in the last 10 months, it’s also been hectic enough and it’s a slow going process travelling through some of these countries on average we cover about 30 miles an hour and as we found out I think we set out an impossible task to visit so many countries this way in the first place… that is if we actually wanted any time to enjoy the places we visit and not just to pass through with a 1 night stay, which of course we could have done and so many others seem to do… but how can you enjoy and partake in different places and cultures if you just whizz through… Sometimes you just have to take time to enjoy the beauty we are surrounded by and take time to watch the wild life going about their days…

So, yes, we got to Switzerland on the 16th June, a couple who live in Switzerland we had spoken to at one of the last campsites had told us that to use the motorways we must have a vignette and that we could buy these at the border… well we passed through the border and to be honest we didn’t at first even realise it was the border, all that was there was an unused/unmanned barrier and a sign welcoming us to Switzerland, with the sat nav confirming we had indeed just crossed the border!!! oups… I think or I hope… we can purchase a Vignette for around 40 swiss francs at a petrol station nearby, we shall look further into it later…

We drove through mountains on roads with sheer drops on one side and with massive rock face on the other, both of us nearly having a heart attack when we came to a tunnel through the rockface neither of us were quite sure we would successfully fit through… not to mention the barrage of car drivers who sped along the roads towards us some almost completely on the wrong side of the road going around the corners of those mountain roads at 60+mph…

We drove through beautiful countryside and passed through long tunnels one of which went on for about 3 miles, and in a couple where we had to switch lanes inside them to avoid turn offs right at the tunnel exits!!!

We got to our first Swiss city Neuchatel where we also found bus lanes are a major thing here in Switzerland, you are forced to swerve from lane to lane to avoid the bus lanes even for just short stretches of roads that are sometimes as little as a few hundred feet long, that is after we had driven right through the first bus lane before we realised and were completely aware of our error… oups again!!!

We managed a stop at a supermarket on our way to the campsite where we parked around the corner from the store after a bit of a faff around as we couldn’t park up properly in the small supermarket car park… now we just have to get used to converting the prices in Swiss francs instead of Euro which seems to make things look much more expensive although when we worked out the price of our food shop it was pretty much standard…

We eventually arrived at our next planned campsite and our first ever one in Switzerland it’s called Des Peches and is €19 per night on the ACSI discount off season fare…  We booked in for 4 nights, the campsite is well set up for family holidays on arrival you’re each given free bus, tram and train travel tickets for the city, free passes to all the museums, a free cruise on the lake, cable car rides and lots of other tourist attractions, plus wifi all of this for free… it would be enough to easily keep everyone in the family happy and entertained for a week or more… but again unfortunately we were told the dog unless small enough to go in a handbag is not allowed on public transport… this is a bit disheartening when travelling with a larger sized dog… and makes us long for a car to get us around easier!!!

But there are lots of other things to do… lots of walks around the beautiful lake, also along the river bank which is lovely and lots of parks around nearby to explore, then we discovered a very quaint medieval town which I think was built in 1260 called Au Landeron this town square is very picturesque and within 5 minutes walking distance of camp…

 

The weather has been wonderful and mostly sunny while we have been here which has been nice… the campsite hasn’t been the quietest campsite during the early evenings for various reasons, but it is quiet at night from 10pm onwards, the only real bugbear I have with this campsite is the fact that the pitches are not very big, nor very private or even very well defined spaces so it seems some of the motorhomes, vans, caravans or awnings etc are pretty close together with much less than the recommended 3 metre space between them (which is considered a fire risk), we were told to park to the right of the pitch our number but on the left close to the next pitches number on arrival but the van on the next pitch would then have been mere inches away from the us if we had not used up some of our pitch space to create the adequate fire gap of a couple of metres between us, so it then felt that we were a little squeezed for a bit of sit out space…

Now in all fairness we try to reverse in and park up with our front wheels facing off of the pitch this makes sense for various reasons such as for ease of getting off if it rains and we get stuck on a wet pitch (in a FWD vehicle it means you can reach the tarmac quicker and get some traction under the wheels asap) and also for cases of emergency such as fires when you will need to move off pretty quickly, now our hab door is continental so on the right hand side… on the 2nd day here a couple turned up thankfully for just the one day/night also with a continental hab door but instead they drove onto the pitch and parked right next to us so their hab door was now face to face with ours… so yes that felt real cozy… made it a little uncomfortable sitting literally within a couple of foot of each other and then with Toffi barking or staring intensely at them while they ate… and they ate constantly!!!  if only they had reversed in because they had a completely empty pitch right next to them and we all would have had some privacy and they also wouldn’t have had to watch Toffi drool over their food…

 

There’s a Marina nearby next to the huge lake with lots of lovely boats and yachts moored up and a popular restaurant there too!!!

We walked to the post office to obtain a vignette for the motorways to allow us to get around Switzerland it worked out approx €35 about 40 Swiss francs at least we can explore Switzerland and not worry about hitting the motorways and getting a fine!!!

We then spotted a pet shop called Boutique Pense-Bêtes of course Toffi really needed new toys and was desperate for some rawhide chews, so with Pete and Toffi waiting outside in I went armed with my awesomely poor French language abilities…

The pet shop owner was a lovely lady who it turned out spoke very good English and was most welcoming… she asked where my dog was? and why had I not brought her along to the doggy toy/sweet shop? I shamefacedly showed her Toffi and Pete waiting nearby… But when she saw Toffi she was in awe “oh my goodness” she exclaimed!!! “a true British English bully breed dog”!!!!

Well that was it Toffi was ushered in through the doors, then the doors were all closed behind us and Toffi was fussed over and treated like a queen… offered free treats, water and was allowed off lead to freely roam and enjoy all the smells in the dog toy shop, it was like watching some celebrity having a shop closed for their own personal shopping in private!!! She was in her element, foolishly I Toffi to go choose a toy and typical of her she came bouncing back around the corner with the most expensive toy in the whole shop!!!

She came away with at least 2 expensive but sturdy and strong Kong toys, plus a new rope ball toy (which she has already destroyed since), a couple of large rawhide chews and then a free bag of treats to put in her new kong for later!!! I came away £60 lighter but it was a pleasure to see Toffi so happy with her new toys, it was the first pet shop that we had come across in the last couple of months that actually sold sturdy strong pet toys suitable for Toffi’s breed… plus the store owner truly was amazing with her, even before we looked to purchase anything she was feeding Toffi treats and cooing over her so I would highly recommend taking your dog for a visit if you are nearby the owner is clearly passionate about animals!!!

We will be moving further into Switzerland Tomorrow so time to go enjoy some more of this stay before we are off again!!

Take care

Donna x

Des Peches €19 per night with ACSI discount  GPS N47°3’10” E7°4’11”

 

 

La Roche d’Ully

We drove past fields full of delicious grape vine as we left Domaine De Cromey and found ourselves at a site called La Roche d’Ully staying from the 12th June, The first 2 days here at La Roche d’Ully were a bit of a wash out… we found ourselves squelching around on the waterlogged pitches… wishing we owned some wellies!!!

Once the weather picked up we took a walk into Ornans the local town and found it to be quite a lively thriving little town… the river La Loue runs right through the town with town houses built along the edges giving an interesting look to the place, rather like a mixture of Amsterdam versus Venice, with attractive bridges to investigate, on the pedestrian bridge there is a high water measure with marks labelled alert, alarm and then one much, much higher mark with a date of 1953 so the town must have been practically submerged by particularly high flood waters that year…

We also spotted climbers from over the top of some house roofs… climbing along on one of the huge high up rock faces situated about a mile outside of town and I managed to zoom in on the camera and get a couple of shots of them navigating the rock face!!!

The town also has 2 interesting looking old churches, although we didn’t investigate these as not being religious we were much more interested at the time in getting some coffee…  We sat and drank a couple of cups of coffee at a local cafe while watching the world go by, the cafe was adjacent to the town green which was shaded from the midday sun by lovely trees… we were then entertained by a couple playing Boules there who were also being eagerly spurred on by the local school children who were out on a school treasure hunt trip…

We left La Roche d’Ully on the morning of the 16th June 2018, for our onward travel to Switzerland… we had to check our travel insurance and found it didn’t have Switzerland on it as I hadn’t thought at the time we were allowed to take Toffi there… but after checking with the Swiss Consulate and being given the ok, it appears Toffi will be welcomed with her pet passport being valid for her travel so we phoned and amended our policy with the insurance… and onwards with travel…

As we near the the Swiss border we get we can see the landscape and style of houses changing, here the houses on the outskirts of town appear more like Swiss chalets style…

The site here has clean facilities, the staff are friendly, it has a bar/restaurant and once the weather improved the pitches did start to dry out and pitch sizes were nice, the camp has a free wifi zone at reception and although phone signal says it is good the site is situated in a very deep valley with huge rocks on each side so internet has been really poor here, even our own mifi and phones have been very poor with internet incredibly bad that at times it takes 20-30 mins to load a page, but on the plus side we got our sites & paysages book stamped too, we now have 2 of the 4 stamps needed to claim a free 5 days camp at one of their sites somewhere in the next 2 years!!

Switzerland here we come!!!

Until next time take care

Donna x

Campsite La Roche d’Ully €17 per night GPS N47°6’2″  E6°9’37”

Domaine de Cromey

It was soon time for us to catch up with Lilly and Steve… the timing worked out wonderfully, just at a perfectly quiet time for them, before the main season started.  We travelled further up through France, another 80 km on the sunday, to meet them in the Burgundy region.

We had arranged to meet in the village so that they could assess our size and then guide us and the motorhome onto the very grand “Domaine de Cromey” grounds.  By virtue of my wonderful navigation skills I instead guided us to a nearby vineyard… interestingly with the sat navs’ female voice filling the air… advising us we had arrived at our destination!!!  Yes, I assure you Pete would be absolutely lost without myself and my perfect navigating skills, after all, what could be more perfect than being lost in a field full of lovingly cared for Burgundy wine grape vines stretching on for as far as the eye can see???

Perhaps the Vintner could start leaving little hidden bottles of their treasured finished products around to cheer the lost souls of us haplessly clumsy travellers and allow them the happiness of tasting the delights, perhaps if really lost even drowning their sorrows with… Just an idea folks!!! what a wonderful idea a Burgundy wine treasure hunt… perfect!!!

After correcting our course, detaching the trailer and very nearly losing the thing downwards on a sloping bank, we eventually found where we were planned to meet and true to their word Lilly and Steve soon appeared and came to our rescue!!!

We drove up in their smaller vehicle to assess the situation and to ensure we could actually manage to get our vehicle into the manor house grounds safely, which we then succeeded in doing. Once there we fell into absolute love and awe of the place… Ironically, to get there, we drove up the very road we had turned around on.

What an utterly delightful place for us to be lucky enough to be allowed to visit.  We squeezed in through the rather impressive gates and swung into the very exclusive stately Manor House courtyard.  Our hosts then treated us to a tour of the gardens and property… my words are unable to describe accurately the lovingly decorated and tastefully restored buildings, all work done with such attention to detail, with superb quality!!!

 

 

The property’s history is amazingly interesting.  The main building was used by Lords and Barons as their winery in a long distant past and is now what one would describe as a very prestigious & exclusive country Manor House.  The main building once housed all the local wine making facilities.

 

 

The huge wine press is still in situ to this day.  It is an imposing feature in the room that is now described as the wine press room, this is also a gorgeously decorated open and airy dining area.

So, while seated in the room, dining on the exquisitely prepared culinary delights, tasting, enjoying and discussing the rich complexity of flavors over a glass or two of the famously delicious rich wines on offer from the area, it also allows the guests to soak up the genuine history of the Burgundy wine making process with their very own eyes!!!

 

 

The local wine producers have been producing their top quality Burgundy for generations, so whilst at Domaine de Cromey you get to soak up the experience, within view of the magnificent, impressive structure of this huge original wine press which gives more understanding, depth and meaning to the production process of these gorgeous wines…  What an experience!!!

 

 

We had an amazing time and enjoyed every minute, Steve and Lilly really looked after us they made us some fantastic meals, with Lilly’s fantastic desserts to follow, also they allowed us to enjoy some fantastic wines they had provided.  We also got to meet the lovely Bernard whose family had lived on site for several generations we saw photographs of his parents, grand parents and siblings and we all chatted the evenings away…

We are also thankful to the owners Dennis and Ellie for allowing us to visit the fantastic “Domaine de Cromey”, we were sorry we didn’t stay on to meet them personally, but we feared the dogs may not have got on and we really didn’t want to cause any issues or be a bother, but we are deeply grateful to them all it was an experience we will not forget.

We were very grateful to both Lilly and Steve for also taking us and showing us the other local delights in the area, we visited the nearby Rochepot Chateau which is yet another amazing building, France is so full of amazing places, we then went for a visit to the town of Beaune where we sat at a bar/cafe chatted and watched the world go by, with a further visit to the village Nolay where we also checked out the local campsites…

 

In Nolay there is a fantastic second hand shop full of interesting bits and pieces while there we found a floor lamp with a date upon it of 1820 whether accurate or not is anybody’s guess but it was an interesting item and only €12, I do hope Lilly goes back for this lamp… because  if we had the weight capacity I think I may have been tempted to have brought some things away with me too!!!  I had my eye on the old Fire Irons at only a couple of euros each I thought they would have made perfect door stops or ornaments for a kitchen fireside… I was also eyeing up the old spindle table for €10 but it would have to be checked/treated for any woodworm before bringing into a building!!!

After 2 nights at the property Domaine de Cromey we left the morning of the 12th June 2018 and decided to travel across country and head towards Switzerland, after a 4 hour drive we found ourselves at a campsite called the Roche d’Ully and not far from the Swiss border where we have booked in for the 4 nights, unluckily we have had a lot of rain in the past 24 hrs so we seem to be squelching around on a grass pitch hopefully the weather will improve soon, otherwise we may need to get ourselves some wellies!!!

Well that’s plenty enough from me for today

Take care wherever you are…

Donna x