28th November – Vivonne

28 11 2011

We are now well on our way down through France and in reality all we have done is travel, not much sight seeing going on at all. We met up with Marion and Dave at an aire in Hondschoote which is just over the Belgian border into France and from there our first stop was the aire at Doullens which was just outside the town centre, a bit noisy as it was right by a bus terminal but also because we had some idiots knocking on our doors at 11pm and running off. We were not disturbed after this though and managed a decent nights sleep. Next stop for us was at a small village called Marboue which is ideally located just of the main N10, the main road that will take us most of the way through to the south of France before we hit Spain. Marion and Dave cooked us a lovely beef stew that night and with a few beers etc we had a good night in. Next morning we noticed a few Police about and it appeared as though one of the houses close by had been hit by a burglary, shame. One of the nice things about this aire is that it is right by a big park meaning.g that Jack managed to have a good run about for a bit.

Next stop for us all was the aire at the troglodyte village of Villaines de Rochers where, I had been told, there is free wi-fi at the Marie but, being a Sunday, it was not available as the offices were closed. Unfortunate but no real set back for us all. After an early dinner we watched a couple of films before having an early night. Next morning Marion and Dave left before us, heading south. We walked Jack and then set off to our next stop at Vivonne, a nice aire set just outside a pleasant town, again with the bonus of having plenty of open spaces around for Jack to get his exercise. We arrived quite early as our planned stop at Richelieu didn’t happen so our afternoon was spent pottering around the town and relaxing.

At our current pace it looks as thought we will be hitting Biarritz before the weekend meaning we should be in Portugal easily by early next week. The weather already seems to be a bit warmer than it has been in the north of France so things are looking very positive indeed!

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24th November – Leaving Brugge

24 11 2011

Well the meal of moules frites went very well. We had asked Jeff and Marie-Jeanne to pick a restaurant in town for us to have our meal and they picked the perfect one, right in the centre and just looking over a small square where the bustle of daily life carried on. We had done the Brugge thing and cycled into town and then we all took our time over the meal, enjoying the view and soaking up the atmosphere. The restaurant we ate in was actually shown on the film In Brugge which we had watched the night before, we reckon we recognised a few places from the city in the film too. Meal finished we then went to Cambrinus which is a famous pub in the city which has a menu of 400 different beers! Excellent.

Beer Menu

We managed to get some way through the massive menu and then ordered our drinks which were soon delivered and then the tasting began. I’m liking the choice of Belgian beers available, they are strong though, one I had was 10% and it tasted wonderful. Unfortunately we only had time for a couple of beers there but it is definitely somewhere that I would like to go to again, maybe we will be stopping off at a supermarket on our way back and getting a selection in especially as I’m now out of Purity Gold! Tuesday afternoon was spent relaxing over a few cups of tea and then, when our hosts left we had a chilled out night watching TV.

Lorna and I

We were up earlier on Wednesday morning as we were all off to the market in the centre. Jeff and I walked in with Jack whilst Lorna and Marie-Jeanne took their bikes in again. The market was fairly typical, plenty of vegetables, plenty of cheese, plenty of meat. We bought some cooked chicken and spare ribs for our lunch as well as a few blocks of cheese and some saucison for me and then, back at our hosts house we ate well and had a few beers. Marie-Jeanne works on Wednesday afternoons supporting carers for people who suffer from dementia so we spent a while longer with Jeff before a steady walk back and another late afternoon and evening just relaxing in the motorhome.

I decided to take my ‘proper’ camera into Brugge and capture a few shots of places that I had previously photographed with my cameraphone. Loads more detail in these shots obviously but I still enjoy the ease of the cameraphone, I think that if I manage an even split between proper camera shots and cameraphone shots I will have done well. Again, more photos on my Flickr stream.

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As I write this we are just getting ready to head off down back into France where we are meeting our travelling partners Marion and Dave at an aire called Hondschoote. From there it is all South and toward Portugal. We have decided to treat these five days as a holiday as with campsite fees and meals out we are way over our normal day to day budget, it’s been well worth it though as we have had a brilliant time in Brugge. We’ll be sad to leave.





21st November – Brugge

21 11 2011

We decided to have another night at Calais as we had never really seen much of the town, it always seems to be that people arrive at Calais and then get off to their destination as soon as possible without actually taking in any of the town itself, except maybe for the wine warehouses. Calais has a massive beach which is kept very clean and gives great views of the massive ferries coming from and leaving for the UK.

Calais Beach

Jack loves the beach, he can run for ages and as the sand is quite deep he gets a good workout, he also loves to dig! Our day in Calais consisted of a really good walk along the beach and then back into the suburbs and back to the aire, we must have been gone for about three hours in all and predictably on the way back we stopped off at the butchers and bought our dinner, pork mince wrapped in veal, a very easy and relaxing day.

Lorna & Jack

Saturday morning came and we packed up and made our way to Brugge which was around an hour and a quarter away. We had already investigated a camp site there which was just out of the city centre so we phoned, booked in and set off. The drive there was very easy, very flat and also very misty so we had virtually no view of the countryside at all unfortunately but when we started to approach the city we could immediately see that it was a very pretty place with a wide canal running in between the road we were on and the city walls. We found the camp site very easily and were soon parked up and settled in next to two other British motorhomes.

When we were in Monsaraz in Portugal in early 2010 we met a couple, Jeff and Marie-Jeanne, who we spent a couple of days with, they lived in Brugge and had invited us to come to see them. We had had contact with them once in the meantime and still had their number so we phoned them up hoping to maybe see them whilst we were in the city. They were very excited to hear from us and instead of arranging something for the next few days they offered to come and pick us up that evening and take us to theirs for drinks and a sandwich. At 7pm they arrived, drove us to theirs and we had a great evening catching up, eating seemingly endless supplies of food and drinking. They looked after us! They had offered to take us around the city of Brugge and show us the sights the next day so in the morning they came to pick all three of us up and took us into town.

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Brugge has to be the prettiest city I have been to, canals run through the centre which carry tourists in big boats but there is also the option to see the sights in horse drawn carriages which trundle through the cobbled streets, we walked. The buildings are wonderful, the town hall, the Belfry, the main church which is the tallest stone built building in Belgium, the quiet area where the nuns used to live, the bustling main streets and the numerous bridges, just a really pretty place to be.

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As usual, Jack got his usual attention whilst out on the streets but for slightly different reasons. We had already seen greyhounds being walked around so were a little taken aback when people were still pointing and smiling at him, this was until Jeff explained that his coat was the same colours as one of the football teams in Brugge who were playing the other Brugge based team later in the day, a big local derby. Luckily we were inadvertently showing support for the more popular team. Funny.

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As we had Jack with us, Jeff and Marie-Jeanne had arranged for us to eat at their nephews equine centre which was just out the city centre, Jack was allowed in and it was really appreciated that they thought of him when planning the day. We ate pasta whilst watching horses trot about in a training area which was very pleasant. After this we went to the other side of Brugge where the streets are narrower and the houses are smaller and there are less tourists, we walked around for a while before stopping off for a coffee and then finally returning to the motorhome for a few hours before going back to our friends house for evening food and drinks.

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They really looked after us again and being able to see all of the places that we did and hear about some of the history of the place was really a big bonus for us. All of my photos here were taken on my HTC Desire, more on my Flickr stream which is linked on the right hand side of this page.

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On Monday we just had a quiet day on the site, walking Jack, writing blogs and, later in the day a bit of shopping in the local shops and supemarkets. Tuesday we have a lunch of moules frites planned somewhere in the city as a thank you to our hosts for looking after us so very very well.





17th November 2011 – Into France.

18 11 2011

Well, here we go again. Summer season worked on the site in Stratford and, after a week or so in the UK seeing friends and family, we finally got across the channel into France, much earlier than we have been before. It’s quite strange to be here in the motorhome without snow on the ground.

As soon as we got off the ferry we were straight round to the aire at Calais where we had decided to hang around for the night. Shortly after parking up we were in the butchers buying our dinner, despite stocking up in the UK before we left. We just got excited and so a hearty meal of fillet steak with veg, and of course the obligatory bottle of wine, Beaujolais Noveau as it was the day of release, we are still not sure where we are off next but Brugge is looking like a distinct possibility.

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No rush.

It’s really good to have the feeling that this vehicle will be our home for the next few months. Really looking forward to this trip, possibly more than any other, and, having bought a booster for my phone which allows me cheaper internet access whilst abroad I plan to keep the blog fairly up to date but I hope to be concentrating more on photographs than words.

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