Friday, 28 February 2020

To France, and on to Loire

Thursday, 27th February 2020

A leisurely morning, and we leave, Ferry Meadows CAMC Site, just before 12:00. 

Another easy day of driving, with no major hold-ups.

This in part due to the McCaffery refusal to obey instructions. As we head south on the A1(M), the overhead signs are telling us, M11 closed due to an accident between J12 and J11. Kathleen decides to ignore this, and sides with the Sat-Nav as it directs us onto the M11. It would appear, most people obeyed the signs, the M11 is almost empty of traffic, and, there is no sign of an accident or a road closure.

We are booked on the 20:30 shuttle, but, arrive way too early at 15:30. 

As usual, we are offered an earlier crossing, but, with a sting in the tale, we can go one hour earlier (19:20), for no additional charge, or, we can go straight on, at 15:45, but, that will cost an ADDITIONAL £120, since our original booking cost only £108, we decline this generous(?) offer.

We park in the waiting area, beside the terminal, and spend the time eating our evening meal and browsing the Tunnel construction exhibits. For once, the terminal building is quiet, and clean, very impressive.

Remembering that France is one hour ahead of the UK, we disembark from the shuttle at 21:00 French time.

The original plan is to drive to the Aire at Wissant (about 40 miles away), but, Kathleen is anxious about staying somewhere which is an unknown quantity to her. A quick rethink, the co-ordinates for the Aire at Neufchatel-en-Bray (N49.73781 E1.42803) are entered into the Sat-Nav and, unusually for us, after the free section of the A16 south, we take the toll section from Boulogne-our-Mer, to arrive at Neufchatel-en-Bray shortly before midnight, having done  292 miles today.

The Neufchatel-en-Bray Aire is operated by the same chap who owns Camping St Claire. As Aires go, it is a trifle expensive at 12Euro, but, it has automated barrier entry (allowing to arrive/leave at any time of day), with pay on exit, Marked hard standing bays, each with Electric hook up, free Wifi, Service point, washing machines, toilets and shower.

Friday, 28th February 2020

Neufchatel-en-Bray is a favourite of ours, we briefly think of lingering here for a few days, but, the weather is poor, 1C, thick frost, and forecast for rain.

Instead, today, we make for a stop-over we have used before, en-route to Spain, Montoire-sur-Loir. (N47 45' 27.5" E0 52' 10.4"). 

We stop off for lunch at an Aire in Bonneval (N48.17953
W1.3889). It is a pleasant small town, and, would probably be a suitable night stop, in an emergency, but, the promised EHU is no where in evidence, and the service point has seen better days. There is a clean and functional toilet.

On arrival, at Montoire-sur-Loir, we find the service point is not working, no water, no electricity.

A quick search on "SearchforSite", turns up an Aire at St Calais, about 15 miles away. The co-ordinates take us to a pleasant lakeside location, exactly as described, unfortunately, there are high barriers in place, so, we cannot enter. Instead, we find an alternative at St Calais (N47 55'27" E0 44' 41"), not terribly scenic, but, quiet, safe, with service point, and, two working EHU points. 

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Wednesday, 26th February 2020 - on our way

Family events (first grand-daughter's wedding), mean we are leaving on our annual European Trip, later than usual.

The weather in the UK has been appalling, thanks to Storm Denis. It would appear from the news that half the country is under water, although, here on Tyneside, we seem to have escaped the worst of it, a lot of strong winds and rain.

But, Monday 17th Feb 2020 is mild and dry, so, Lawns are cut and garden tidied, ready for someone (Claire?) to look after things in our absence, it should be a month or two, before the grass begins growing in earnest.

Tuesday 18th Feb, another dry day, so, packing continues, bicycles etc secured in rear Garage. 

Kathleen is socialising with her "school friends" (all in their 70's now, so, no longer wearing their school uniforms!).

Wednesday 19th February through Saturday. 22nd Feb are taken up with "last minute essential tasks", prior to wedding, and departure:

  •  hair "do" etc., not for me, I hasten to add ;) .
  •  lunch with sisters, for a last minute gossip, and complain about how easy men have life.
  •  wedding and following days hangover 

The original intention was to go via Windsor, and visit Gary,Susana, Gabriel and Salma. But, because of the dreadful weather our first stop-over option, Liquid Leisure (N51.474581 W0.559103) is waterlogged and not accepting Motorhomes, and, our second choice Queens Acre CS (N51.4903 W0.6819), is not contactable.

So, with regret, we will have to give Windsor a miss, and call on our way home, at the end of this trip.

We have bright sunshine, but, frost and only 1C, as we do. final preparations, and set off.

195 uneventful miles, to arrive at Ferry Meadows CAMC Site (N52.56053, W0.30593).

Still bright sunshine, and 7C, when we arrive, so, a pleasant walk around the Nene Valley Park, to stretch the legs after driving.

Friday, 24 January 2020

Chatsworth Park CAMC Site (N53.23738, W1.61772)... cont'd..............

Chatsworth Park - Thursday, 23rd January 2020

Rather foggy this morning, but, forecast suggests it will clear, and we will have 8C by lunch time.

A little under four miles of walking around Chatsworth Park, with a slight detour to see parts we had not seen on previous days, mostly the (former) stables, now converted to eateries and retail areas. 

They must have been very well looked after horses, is all I can say, the stables are magnificent.

Into Baslow and The Wheatsheaf Hotel, for a very pleasant lunch, followed by another two miles of walking, through the quieter
parts of Baslow Village and then back to the Site.

Chatsworth Park - Friday, 24th January 2020.

Looks as if the weather is beginning to deteriorate, leaded clouds as we leave Chatsworth, but, it brightens as we head North,and, we arrive home in full sunshine.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Chatsworth Park CAMC Site (N53.23738, W1.61772)... cont'd..............

Chatsworth Park - Tuesday 21st January 2020

A true winters morning, crisp, heavy frost, but, dry, and, I suspect it will be full sunshine, when the early morning mist lifts, certainly the forecast is for 9c later today.

Spent the day walking in the Chatsworth Park, ie, the grounds of Chatsworth House

Much of it is closed for the winter, but, still, pretty impressive, we have walked almost 6 miles, and, still not covered all of it!

A rare treat, Kathleen promised to buy lunch, at the coffee shop in the Baslow Village, only to find that, in winter, it is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

Undeterred, we soldiered on to The Wheatsheaf, an excellent choice, two giant sandwiches, with chips (or soup), plus a pint
of real ale and a shandy for Kathleen, only £17.50.

Chatsworth Park - Wednesday 22nd January 2020

So far, we are falling lucky with the weather, considering it is January, in the UK. Today is calm, dry and sunny, with some cloud. Temperature up on yesterday, at 11C.

A bus ride to Bakewell today. 

We walk towards Baslow, and based on Google "knowledge", turn left at the main road, to wait at a bus stop at Devonshire Bridge. 

The time table at the bus stop suggests we have a 20 minute wait. 

As we stand there, another bus, going to Bakewell, emerges from a road junction about twenty yards away, but, it does not stop or even pass this stop. 

Naturally, this is deemed to be, "my fault", I am used to it.

Our bus arrives, more or less on time, about ten minutes later. We then discover it goes via Chatsworth House, so, we could have walked through Chatsworth Park, a lesser distance, and caught the bus there. 

Bakewell is a pleasant enough little place, pleasantly quiet at this time of year. 

We indulge in crumpets and coffee, followed by a wander around the shops (no M&S, Next, etc etc thank goodness).

We boost the local economy by purchasing a book, calendar, biscuits, and bananas (biscuits and bananas were left at home by the person responsible for packing food, no names mentioned).

A walk through the park, followed by more a visit to Costa for the standard Blueberry Muffin (Kathleen) and toasted teacake (Me).

There is no bus, to Baslow, due, within a reasonable time scale to suit Kathleen's patience, ie 2 minutes, so we take a bus which passes Chatsworth House, and, walk through Chatsworth Park, back to the site.

As we walk along, through Chatsworth Park, we spot some deer grazing.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable day ;)

Monday, 20 January 2020

Chatsworth House CAMC Site

Monday, 20th January 2020

A dry and bright sunny day. Should be an easy drive. But a problems on M1, road closed South Bound at junction 35

Briefly made an effort to find out why, but, putting the radio on hear Traffic Announcements meant listening to Jeremy Vine, and the "major" events of the day ie Harry and Megan (who cares?), and the problems of HS2 and the "Northern" cities, clearly, "the North" ends at Manchester, or, possibly Leeds.

Just to add a little spice to the situation, Kathleen, who always, always has a map, to check the sat-nav is doing it's job, has left the road map at home.

Nothing for it but to leave the M1 at J35, and head, what I think is the right direction, until the Sat-Nav does it's job and recalculates an alternative route.

Chatsworth Park CAMC Site (N53.23738, W1.61772), is the usual tidy and well laid out Caravan and Motorhome Club site.

The nearest village, Baslow, is approximately 1 mile away, and easy walk.

There are a couple of pubs, and, eating places.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Delftse Hout (N52.01813 E4.37919)... contd.

Monday, 7th October 2019

It is not raining! Cloudy and 8C start, 14C by lunch time.

The 8C is according to the weather App on our phones, it most certainly does not feel that warm to me!

We set off to find Lidl, which we know to be "in the vicinity" of the Aldi we walked to on Friday. We take a deliberately circuitous route, because Kathleen wanted to avoid cycling on the cobbled streets in old Delft centre. They are not exactly cobbled, more like block paving, but, with a definite "joggle factor". We definitely "do a tour", just over 8 miles later, we arrive back at the van with our shopping.

We saw our first, and hopefully, only cycling accident today, a young woman, cycling along, whilst holding a telephone conversation om her mobile phone, failed to notice a kerb, bumped into it, and fell off her bike. Other than the embarrassment, no harm done, to young woman, or mobile phone.

For followers of the "backpack saga", I can report, the backpack was christened today, and, here is the proof. 

Only minimal complaints about the extra weight (I had the five bottles of wine, and assorted heavy stuff on my back).

For some reason, there are many new arrivals today, there are now about 9-10 vans here now, in this Motorhome area.

Tuesday, 8th October 2019

According to the weather forecast, it is sunny with a bit of cloud today, and, 16C. In reality, it is raining and 14C, Why should we believe the dire predictions of the "experts", or, even the odd 16 year old Swedish school girl, reference future climate, years from now, if we cannot even forecast the weather correctly on the day it is happening!

After weeks of encountering very few UK vans, one arrives this morning, so, now we have two UK neighbours.

Wednesday, 9th October 2019

As to be expected, today looks as if it is going to be a nice day. Not raining, some sunshine and 16C. Bikes etc are packed away of course, ready to go!

Only a little over 40 miles to the Amsterdam Ferry Port at IJmuiden (N52.45861 E4.61944). 

The final approach to the DFDS loading facility at IJmuiden is not well signposted, and, the co-ordinates given are not exact to the facility, but, to a nearby roundabout, needless to say, we have a tour of the dock area, before we discover we should have turned right at the roundabout at the petrol station!.

We are in good time, well before the two hours before sailing time, but, check in is unbelievably slow, since, check in, includes a sales pitch to get passengers to pre-pay for onboard meals. There is a saving to be had by doing so, but, check-in is not a good time to carry our this activity, in my humble opinion!

Departure from IJmuiden is prompt, but, under leaden skies.

Thursday, 10th October 2019

We arrive on time, and, the weather is pleasantly sunny, although, unloading and exiting the dock area can hardly be described as slick.

The approach to the Tyne, with South Shields and North Shields, bathed in autumn sunlight, makes them look positively attractive.

Back home, everything in order.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Delft, Delftse Hout (N52.01813 E4.37919)... contd....

Saturday, 5th October 2019

Only 8C this morning, but, it is not raining! Forecast to 13C later in the day.

We even get a little sunshine today, so, looking at Delftse Hout (N52.01813 E4.37919), without the rain, my opinion still stands, a typical "city" site, it's main attraction is it's handy location for Delft.

I have found an App (Fietsknoop) which appears to be a means of navigating the myriad cycling routes. Not sure I have actually conquered using it, although, I have managed to change the language to English, which was a big help!

Armed with the App, and, a suggested route from the information booklet, given to us by Reception, we set off on our bicycles.

Twenty one miles later, I am not sure we actually followed the route, but, we did find our way back, which in itself was a major achievement!

It is positively a pleasure to cycle with this superb cycling infrastructure the Dutch have, both in town and out.

This photograph is not a road, it is an out of town cycle track, well surfaced, well maintained, excellent.

In town is just as good, but, what I particularly like, and, really enjoy using, to the point of seeking them out, just to go around them, are their bicycle friendly roundabouts, where, as the photograph below shows the cyclists have right of way over vehicles both entering and leaving the roundabout. Amazingly, it seems to work, although, I must admit, driving in towns here means watching all around you!

Not sure what was going on here, but, there was a massive convoy of trucks, mostly minus trailers, being given a police escort around Delft. Not sure if it was some kind of protest, or, some kind of competition.

It all appeared good natured, whatever it was with people waving and cheering.

We found a lunch stop (rather nice sandwiches and coffee), in what appeared to be a rather seedy part of Delft. 

Not sure if it was a "men only bar", but, Kathleen was the only female present, including the staff. 

Undeterred, she soon ordered the staff about, got them to give her a bigger cup for her coffee, and, very adventurously, for her, departed from her usual order of a ham and cheese sandwich, to have a Dutch Meatball Sandwich, which, she declared, very nice.

Just thought I would mention "the backpack", in case you are worried about it. No need, it is safe and in pristine condition, indeed, "as new", it is still hanging on the back of Kathleen's chair.

Sunday, 6th October 2019

Wet!, and, only 9C.

What can I say? today is my birthday, and, it rained and rained....

I have "passed through" the Netherlands, en-route to other places, several times. This is only the third time I have been here as a destination. First time was with work, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Arnhem (it was bitterly cold, is my recollection), the second time was a "Weekend in Amsterdam", I don't recall the weather being a problem, and, This visit, when it has been rather wet!

I wonder if this is typical weather for the Netherlands, if it is, it explains where everywhere we go, in the Motorhome, which is warm and sunny, is full of Dutch people!

Kathleen did the going to Church, whilst I toured Delft, searching out likely eating places.

Kathleen paid for lunch, as a birthday treat.

We return to find we have new (British) neighbours, not that there is any sign of them, they must be huddled up somewhere out of the rain!