Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Slowly Home

Tuesday, October 8th 2013

Leave Bruges and travel only 15km to the campsite we had planned to use to visit Bruges, before I found the more convenient Stellplatz. Not very impressed, pleased we found the Stellplatz!

We need a site to use services (washing machine), and HWD (Hair Washing Day) is looming, so, travel on to Bredene, 17 Duinzicht (N51 14’ 56” E2 58’2”). An ACSI site. Bredene is on the coast, just a little North east of Ostende.

Bredene appears to be a Belgian version of Tynemouth.

We have a pleasant walk along the promenade, plus a beer and a Bombay Saphire (gin).

It is an odd layout, for a seaside resort, you cannot actually see the sea!

Between the promenade and the beach, is, a dual carriageway, with a metro or tram system running down the central reservation, then some rather large sand dunes, then the beach and the sea.

Once you actually get to the beach, apart from being about 1000 miles too far North (like the Northumberland Coast), it is rather magnificent.

Wednesday, October 9th 2013

The weather has worsened. No sunshine today. We regret not getting the bicycles out yesterday, but, undeterred, we get the bicycles out and cycle along the coast for a couple of hours, ending up in a seaside bar, with some very cheeky sparrows, whose party trick is to help themselves to the nuts which are provided free with the drinks.

Wednesday night is a shocker, a howling gale and bursts of pouring rain!  

Thursday, October 10th 2013

The weather has not improved this morning, still the same howling gale and bursts of pouring rain.

After I get soaked to skin, in one such downpour, returning from a trip to the loo, Kathleen decides that, although this is HWD she is not going to risk a soaking, so, it is officially postponed.

I do my outside chores, ie disconnect mains etc, in a lull in the rain, and, off we go.

The plan is to do some last minute booze shopping at a large “Area Commercial” (Retail Park), near Boulogne. We usually aim to break even on the cost of the ferry crossing versus the saving in the coast of Wine, Gin etc compared to the UK.

Enroute, we call at a potential “Aire”, at Wissant (N50 53.210’ E1 40.224’). It is in our Aires book, as “under construction” in 2010. I can report, it is finished now, and in use. It is neatly laid out, free, and organised, but with minimum facilities, ie water and waste disposal only. Not suitable for HWD, no power for hair dryer, hair straighteners etc. Worth remembering for another time, the village looks interesting and the area is very scenic.

We drive to Boulogne Area Commercial, visit Lidl and LeClerk to stock up on alcohol, fresh bread, warm from the oven, and very fattening cream cakes.

The rain has stopped, gale has subsided to “very windy”.

A few miles back along the coast, towards Calais, we stop at Wimereux, L’Ete Indien (N50 45’10” E1 36’28”), an ACSI site (16Euro). Other than the views, not really that impressive, but, it has the essentials for HWD, ie good power (10amps), and plenty of hot water.

We are perched on a hill, overlooking a wild sea, I hope the wind quietens by this evening, since at present, it is howling around the van.

After coffee and cream cakes, hair washing swings into action.

In the evening, we are even able to get some terrestrial Television, French Channels you would expect, after all, we are in France, but, we are also able to receive several English channels.

What another shocker of a night, howling gale and pouring rain again, by morning it has stopped raining and wind has died down, but, it is cold (7C). The village is at least 2km away, so, it is decided we will somewhere different.

Just to point out, for those unfamiliar with woman speak,  “it is decided”, translates as “Kathleen does not want to stay here”.

Friday 11th October 2013

Licques, Pommiers des Trois Pays (N50 46’ 47” E1 56’ 52”), an ACSI site, 14Euro per night. A very neat little place, on the edge of the village of Licques, which has a small supermarket etc.

We are quite away from the coast but still near Calais, so, a reasonable option either just before catching the ferry, or, just after getting off the ferry. A bit of a small road to get here, so, perhaps not suitable for a late night arrival in the dark.

According to the ACSI book, the site has free 80% wifi coverage, but, I cannot connect, so presumably we are in the other 20%!

My Orange-France SIM card, is getting a signal, but, it is too weak to be useful. Of all the SIM cards I have acquired (Portugal, Spain, Germany, France), the Orange-France one is the least satisfactory. Coverage is not magnificent, and topping it up is a pain. You do not appear to be able to do it online, and, if you appear to need a French Fixed line to do the registration if buy a top up voucher. As if all that was not bad enough, the top up does not seem to be instant, it takes a couple of hours to “come through”. Unless, when I have topped up, it has coincided with French Lunchtime perhaps?

Saturday 12th October 2013

Today, we are off to Gravelines, ready to catch the ferry at crack of dawn (well 6:00) tomorrow morning.

One of our regular last stops before the ferry or tunnel, It was free, then they started charging 7Euro (which was extortion, for parking only, with no facilities), now the price has been adjusted to 6Euro/24 hours (May – September) and 3Euro/24 hours October – April).

The weather has taken a turn for the better, despite the weather forecast, a bright sunny day, so nice we are able to sit in the square having a beer or two.
Since we were last here, they appear to have provided free WiFi, at least it appears to be free, you register your Email, and, you get 60 minutes connection. Good signal, and reasonably fast.

Sunday 13th October 2013

Alarm goes off at 4:30, yes, in the morning!

Drive to Dunkirk, after check in, we arrive in our allotted lane, just as boarding starts, just as I like it, no hanging around.

Arrive in UK, pouring rain. The joys of driving along the M25 in a cloud of spray, until we come to Kings Langley, where we have arranged to meet up with Gary, Susana and Gabriel. They are on a brief visit to the UK, from Baku, so too good an opportunity to miss, to see them and have Sunday Lunch together.

After lunch, we drive to near Ferrybridge, to stay on a Caravan and Camping Club CS.

Monday 14th October 2013

Find our way to Armitage Trailers to have a towbar fitted to the campervan, and, collect motorcycle trailer.

Home by 17:30.


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