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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


The Trip – December 2010 to March 2011

11 04 2011

Though I have been mercilessly ribbed about the content of my blog by certain people I think that the following information will be of some use to people who are thinking about doing something similar to what we did on our 113 day trip abroad in the motorhome. On our first trip out in 2009 we really had no clue as to how much money we would end up spending and so we just went and thought to hell with the money. This trip needed to be slightly more controlled from a financial point of view as the pot of money doesn’t last forever and, as we plan to continue with this lifestyle for as long as possible we needed to have a decent idea of how much we were spending so that it can be sustainable long term.

So, some facts:

The following costs are all in Sterling. Our bank has converted the € to the £ at anything from €1.115 to €1.158 but I would guess at an average of €1.13 to the £

We spent a total of 113 days on our travels and in that time we travelled 7295Km (4533 miles), spent a total of £986.46 on fuel, this includes diesel for the engine and LPG for the tanks which run our fridge, heating and cooking facilities. All of this cost was paid on our debit card so we have a completely accurate record of costs in that department. Our ferry journeys using the Dover to Calais to Dover route on P&O Ferries cost a total of £116.25.

Our day to day living cash (on a budget of €20 a day) totalled £2306.75 withdrawn from ATM machines and money we took with us, so we were slightly over budget there but we did buy a fair amount of stuff that we bought back to the UK with us (saving us money long term) and we had a contingency fund of £500 for things like maintainence of the motorhome (windscreen wiper repairs and safe cracking), vets bills (bite treatment and passport innoculations) and things that fell into ‘anything else’.

We spent a total of £86.65 on automatic payment aires in France, Le Treport and Mimizan Plage. The charges for Biarritz and Vila Formosa came out of the day to day spending as did the charges for the time we spent on campsites in Tavira and Monchique.

We used some toll roads on our journey through France in December and again on our way back into France from Spain in March this came in at around €41, the main cost being the first journey through France when we decided to make a run south, that cost €33.30 for one trip.

Our bank charges us every time we use the debit card abroad, either in a shop or to withdraw cash and the total cost of this came to £63 (at £1.50 per transaction). Phoning home was a fair cost but this was reduced dramatically by me losing my phone on our way to Dover. We did pick up a Portuguese SIM card which gave us cheaper rates at the weekend for international calls but even with this we still managed to spend £260 on mobile phone top ups with Orange. We used Skype a little and spent £11.50 on credit for that. Top ups for the Portuguese phone came out of the day to day living cash.

In total, our costs for the trip came out at £3950.24 and that includes everything from the day we left to the day we arrived back in the UK. Now we know how much we need to save whilst we are back working in the UK to enable us to do it all again!

22nd March 2011 – Le Treport to Calais.

22 03 2011

Jack settled down and we all managed a decent night sleep, lovely and warm and very comfortable. As we didn’t have to leave Le Treport until 12.45pm we were in no rush to get moving so we had an easy morning walking Jack (who seemed much better) and both having nice long showers. The journey to the aire at Calais was 2 ½ hours according to the sat-nav so, at 12.30pm we pulled out of Le Treport and started on our way at a very leisurely pace.

With diesel being much cheaper in France than in the UK I planned to fill up as late as possible and, as we neared Calais we stopped off at a supermarket and put as much fuel in as possible, in this instance just over €80 worth. We couldn’t resist one final shop either so we went into the supermarket and bought more sausages, more wine (two cases, one white, one red, buy one get one free making each bottle less than €1.30!), a couple of tins of confit de canard (duck legs preserved in their own fat) and some other stuff of little significance. The wine bottle count is now up to 48 so I think that we have enough supplies in to last us a fair while when we get back to the UK and, considering that on average we have paid around €2 per bottle we will be making a considerable saving over UK prices, not to mention the difference in quality.

We arrived at Calais at about 3.30pm and despite our plans to go to the wine warehouse to get some more bottles we didn’t get that far before the sat-nav told us to get off the motorway and took us toward the aire. I decided not to fight it as I thought we probably had enough wine on board anyway. The aire was busy and we eventually found a place to park that was reasonably level (N50°57.962′ E001°50.622′).

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The positioning of the place is really quite nice, it looks right over the port and out to sea and you get to see the ferries really close up as they arrive and leave, which is very regular indeed. We had an wander around and got tempted by one of the food places on the sea front, ending up buying a big bag of chips and returning to the motorhome to eat them whilst watching Deal or No Deal and drinking tea.

As the sun set we were out again, running with Jack on the beach and savouring the lovely views.

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That is it now, our last day abroad and the final day of our travels. Tomorrow we will be back in the UK and back on the site in Stratford Upon Avon ready for work the day after. It is going to be a busy season and we are both looking forward to it immensely. 7 and a bit months to go and, all things being equal, we will be back out again…….excellent!

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21st March 2011 – St. Valery-en-Caux to Le Treport.

21 03 2011

We were up early this morning as we had decided to take Jack to the vets in St. Valery-en-Caux to get his tick treatment and worming done so that we would be able to catch the ferry back to the UK on Wednesday, it has to be done between 24 and 48 hours before you sail so we walked up to the vets at around 9.30am and were lucky enough to be able to get an appointment for 11am the same morning. Whilst we waited for the appointment time to come we had a wander around the town and harbour again and then returned just in time to be seen by the friendly vet. After what happened last time Jack had this done we had already checked that the worming treatment was done by tablet and not injection as we didn’t want Jack to be put through the pain he apparently suffered last time. The vet was lovely and checked Jack over before giving him his treatment and marking his documents, they did charge just over €60 for the pleasure though which we both thought was a bit much, but it seems as though that is the going rate.

Back at the motorhome I phoned up and booked our ferry crossing for Wednesday at 10.30am French time, next job was to get closer to Calais. We had decided to go to Le Treport because we knew that we would be able to get electricity there, there is a charge, but at €8.95 for the night it’s not excessive and it would leave us within easy reach of Calais where we planned to stay the night before we sailed. The journey there was nice and easy and took us just over and hour and a half, interrupted by a stop at the Lidl in Dieppe for some supplies (a bit more wine, some pate, sausages, cognac and razors). The stop there was a bit strange as as soon as we had parked we had a guy knocking on the door asking for money so he could eat. We had no change but, feeling a bit charitable we told him to come back to us once we had done our shopping and we would sort him out. I bought him some sandwiches in the shop but he wasn’t around when we returned so we ate them on our way to our destination.

At Le Treport we parked up and plugged in and then walked Jack along the path that runs alongside the aire, the same one where he was walked when we arrived here in December, in the snow. Things were looking much more colourful now though as the grass had grown and the trees were starting to get some colour back in them. Our afternoon was a very lazy one as we watched TV and then had pasta and sausages for our dinner, the sausages from Lidl were excellent, pork and red wine, and extremely tasty, comparable to ones I have had from butchers back in the UK. I’ll definitely be stocking up on those next time we are on our way through France into Spain.

Our night was much warmer as we had the luxury of having the electric heater on, unfortunately though Jack didn’t have a good night as he got us up early morning and was sick outside the motorhome, probably a reaction to the tablets he had had, maybe the injection was a better idea after all.

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