A Travellerspoint blog

August 2022

Awaycation Winter Sun 2022

Outward Bound....

I spent a few hours over the bank holiday looking at the route to take from Calais to Alcocebre.

I used the Ohrex to plan a non-toll journey from the channel to the resort in Spain. It seems to be taking the A20/N20 from around Orleans to Toulouse.

As we have 5 nights on the way south before the check in at the resort I have been looking on the Camping Car Parking app for places to overnight. The aires have electric hook-up points (EHU) and I have been looking at those where it seems to have an equal ratio of EHU to pitches! With so many people getting away in the winter I'd rather be guaranteed a hook-up! We do have the LPG gas for cooking and heating. The van can also run the water heater and the ducted air heating from the EHU as well.

As for the cost. The aires I have looked at are generally about €10 to €11 per night. The plus factor on top of the cost is that most look to be open all year. It seems that many French campsites shut up for the year in October! Even on the Mediterranean coast!

The aires I have selected so far involve a few longer days at the start of the trip. Currently I have stops at:

As a compromise to the aire in Alenya I am also looking at a few campsites in the area. There are actually a few open! I have emailed a couple that look okay and that get good reviews to see what is open onsite and nearby when we are in the area.

That leaves one overnight and I didn't like the aires on offer on the apps in Spain and so I resorted to pitchup.com. I plumped for a campsite near Blanes. It gets good reviews both on Pitchup and even from the unpredictable Tripadvisor!

I have emailed them to find out what is open when we are there. Sadly the restaurant is closed, so is the pool, but I reckon we can do without either of them in late November. As long as we can walk along the promenade to the town and get something to eat and drink, then we will be fine.

Another route idea I have been looking at is on the MMM website where they suggest going to Irun and then using Pamplona as the jump off point in Spain - https://www.outandaboutlive.co.uk/motorhomes/articles/travel/the-long-road-south-a-winter-route-to-the-spanish-costas-in-your

Next job will be to have a look on the return journey. We have 9 overnights. And again we need to get Reggie's AHC stamped and his worm pill done.

Posted by InvictaMoto 22:03 Archived in France Tagged awaycation_winter_sun_2022 Comments (0)

MotoGP Aragon

Just over two weeks to go to start of the trip to Aragon for the MotoGP round there. This is one of the blogs that I have decided to keep going on Blogger as it isn't really a family trip.

https://invictamoto-aragon-2022.blogspot.com/

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Posted by InvictaMoto 12:36 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Staycation Littlehampton

Day 2.

The weather was so-so today. A mixture of sunny (and hot) and cloudy and very muggy.

We decided to have a lazy day and apart from a few dog walks to the site's dog walking area, where Reggie could run about off the lead, we didn't do much other than read and try and find the shade.

If it wasn't for the Kindle I don't know where we would be. We had downloaded some stuff from Amazon prime onto the MS Surface tablets we take with us so we could watch offline but we only had one set of headphones! Claire watched one of her programmes and I read my Kindle.

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The evening came really quickly and the sunset was rapid. I took.a photo...

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Overnight 2.

The rain started to batter us about 3.30am. Then came the lightning and thunder. Reggie was up barking and whining and we had to try and keep him calm with his rubber Kong bone. It works a little.

It was gone 5.30am by the time we got some sleep. The rain continued though.

We decided as we were leaving anyway to pack up and go asap.

Day3.

After the terrible night of the thunderstorms we decided that a trip to Arundel and finding somewhere to park was off the table.

We tidied everything away and had breakfast. I took Reggie for a walk along to the dog walking area. As we were alone I let him off to run about and do his business etc. It was still drizzling.

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Instead, I set the satnav for home and let it choose the quickest way. That was to take the motorways M23/M25/M26/M20. It was about 15 miles longer than the coast route we came on and even with a coffee and widdle stop (for us and Reggie) it was about half the time of the coast road!

The stop was on the M25 at Clacket Lane services. These are okay but anyone that puts fuel in here really needs their brains removed and cleaned and then replaced! Diesel today was 195.9 per litre. They had run out on the consumer side and only the HGV pumps were active. There seemed to be a lot of trucks queued to use the pumps!

A stop here for about 25 minutes gave time for Claire to get to Costa for coffee and an naughty but nice "millionaire's slice" (each!!) and for Reggie to have a widdle and a drink. Then back on the road. I upped the pace from the cruise-control 54mph to an indicated 60 on the M26 and M20. Arriving home about 2.30pm.

It looks as though this area avoided the thunder from last night but the roads were wet! Lucky them.

Now to look to see where we can go next week or the week after :) Once you have the van you have to use it as much as possible. I'll look for an adults only site though! It's not kids in general but kids out until after dark on cycles and e-bikes and a kind of e-go-cart! Plus at this last site it appears that "pitch etiquette" went out of the window. Not just kids, but adults walking through other pitches and using them as short cuts! Walk around!

Posted by InvictaMoto 14:17 Archived in England Comments (0)

Awaycation Winter Sun 2022

Since 1993 I have owned a timeshare week. First jointly with my former partner and when we split up it reverted to me as I had paid for it. The actual apartment is in Tenerife and the first week in December. Although it's getting on for 30 years we have never actually been to the resort. We have always traded it and gone elsewhere. Most of the time to mainland Spain and more recently to the US, staying in Florida and Arizona.

Since covid and the lockdowns we have been unable to use it to travel and a week we had booked in 2020 had to be cancelled as UK and most of Europe had entered the first lockdown.

To make the trade we are members of RCI Europe. There we "bank" our week and then use it to book elsewhere. It's not free, but even with their charge and the maintenance we pay on our ownership in Tenerife it's often less expansive than booking the same accommodation directly with a resort.

With a dog approaching 12yo and after two years of being at home with work, we can't take him to kennels again. He is so used to us being around 24/7 it would be traumatic for him.

So with plans to be away in the Van for three weeks I looked at RCI to see how many resorts are dog friendly, in Spain or even France for our dates. Answer. Two out of twenty-five. It's quite odd as most places we have been in Spain other visitor have had dogs... Maybe they own and are permanent residents?

To save losing the £181 in exchange fees that have been held in "credit" for over two years us the banked week the expires at the end of 2022, I have booked one of the two.

The choices were Habitat Playa Romano near Castellon, or one near Roquetas de Mar in Almeria. Almeria is a bit too far on this trip. Maybe another year we can go to the south of Spain and maybe Portugal.

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The Playa Romano stay is the middle week of the trip. We have five days to get from Calais to Castellon. Google Maps has it at around 900 miles using toll-free routes. That will need careful planning to get across the Pyrenees. It's always easier at both ends (Biscay or Mediterranean) than across the middle. Again it is weather dependent.

Google would have a Pyrenees crossing via the Somport Tunnel. Weather check required!

As usual. Comments and advice welcomed.

Posted by InvictaMoto 11:51 Archived in Spain Tagged awaycation_winter_sun_2022 Comments (0)

Staycation Littlehampton

We set off around 11am and the satnav chose the A259 route for most of the way. Our first stop was near Pevensey for lunch and a chance for Reggie to get a little exercise.

This was at another former Little Chef that is now a Starbucks. There used to be hundreds of Little Chef restaurants up and down the country and despite being opened by a huge international company, they went bust.

Once on the way again we skirted past the seaside towns of Brighton and Bexhill on the A27, arriving at the campsite at around 3.45pm. We checked in and then set about getting a pitch. The warden told us a few that were available. In the end we chose 53 as it was on a dead-end path so we wouldn't have too many passing cars...

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The park is quite nicely laid out. Clean facilities but not all that quiet. The access road is noisy and there seems to be a problem locally that requires ambulances with sirens blaring often during the day.

It's nice to sit and do nothing. Reggie preferring the shade under the van.

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We have two nights here and then we go home.

Arundel is nearby and if we can get parked up we can go there on the way home. Parking with a motorhome isn't as simple as with a car .. Arundel does seem to be anti-motorhome with none of the car parks catering for taller vehicles. Their loss. Imagine the money that van owners would spend in shops and cafés?

Posted by InvictaMoto 11:05 Archived in England Comments (0)

Staycation West Country

.I have added another night away on our trip to Somerset for our wedding anniversary. It's at another CAMC site near to Burnham on Sea. The site is Hurn Lane Club Site.

It's a short walk to the sea and one of the longest beaches in Europe. Amazingly, this beach is dog friendly all year round.

Posted by InvictaMoto 22:12 Archived in England Tagged staycation caravan_club staycation_west_country camc Comments (0)

Awaycation Winter Sun

I have a rough route planned down from Calais to the Franco-Spanish border. The last trip where we used the toll motorways at the start and then occasionally during the fortnight cost us around £55 in tolls.

We should land in France around 1220pm. So I think we'll realistically only have three to four hours on the road to the first stop. As I mentioned previously I have been looking at "Aires", free to stay "wild camping" sites and also Camping-Car Parks. The latter are bookable in advance and cost around €10 per night. This is primarily because looking at the various camping site booking websites it looks as though the French campsite industry packs up in October! Even many on the Mediterranean are closed up for the winter.

I have joined Camping-Car Parks for a nominal fee and have the membership card. Whether I'll pre-pay with it I haven't decided. Booking looks to be the right solution though. And you can book through the phone app on the same day. Once reserved you are then admitted through the barrier and onto the site. it is supposed to mean that once booked you are guaranteed a pitch! we'll see f the practice matches the theory maybe!

In November the days will be shorter and so fewer hours on the road. Something to think about. The Camping-Car site has the Aires they manage plus a lot of campsites they have taken over. Sadly it seems that these have no facilities after the end of October either! I don't mind not having a shower, but a toilet is pretty much essential!!!

There has been a lot of "discussion" on the Motorhome Fun forum about campsites in France. In the end as far as I can see it is personal choice. On our last trip we stayed in a variety of sites. Some that were pretty sparse and nearer to nature (although with leccy and ablution facilities) and some a bit too much like holiday camps! There is no right answer. Some hate the idea, and some love them.

I understand that many people pay £50000 (and a lot more!) for a motorhome with its included lav and shower. I understand they want to stop somewhere scenic and camp there. Good luck to them. I'd do that if I knew that I wasn't going to have a knock on the door from the local police to bugger off half way through the night. Or a visit from the other side of the law coin.

I also don't want to spend my holiday cheek by jowl in a glorified car-park with my neighbours every utterance or fart sounding as though they were sitting in my van on my settee! I have passed aires whilst on the bike and thought that it wasn't for me. Vans and caravans squeezed in nice and tight with barely enough room to open the habitation door! Not for me!

So for a first night I think it will be the Camping-Car site near Evreux or the one nearby at St Andre, both to the south of Rouen. Both around €10 a night.

The route down from Calais is made up of a large amount of dual carriageway roads. After the shock (we knew if would be a large-ish cost!) of using the toll motorways on the last trip, we are looking to save a few quid and plan routes that are toll-free. Evreux and St Andre can be booked on the hoof as it were and so can decide once we have hit the beach at Calais.

Where from there? It does depend on where the Camping-Car aires are and whether they are easily accessible. There is one to the north of Limoges at Saint-Pardoux that looks about 250 miles for the day. A lot of it on the D2020 (The old N20) and the A20.

Received wisdom is that the most westerly route so I have had a look along that route as well and Saint-Genis is to the north of Bordeaux.

Ideally if the target is to cross into Spain from the Med then this will need us to cross France to the north of the Pyrenees!

Posted by InvictaMoto 16:52 Archived in France Tagged awaycation_winter_sun_2022 Comments (0)

Staycation Naardge!

Day 3

Homeward bound day. As seems the norm, last night we had a visit from the Army's Apache helicopters overflying and landing in the field behind the campsite. Again it was dark and they arrived about 9.30pm. They hung around about fifteen.minutes before one took off and looped around about 200 feet off the ground and then it headed east towards the coast.

We had another fitful night with Reggie joining us around 1am. Then unlike at home he wants to pee about 5.30am, then have his breakfast a out 7.30am. All "asked for" by a variety of vocal winging tones.

So it was way after 9am.before we surfaced. Ablutions complete and the campsite gear all our away do we could leave ASAP. We decided to empty the grey water before leaving. As that was draining at the Moho service point I emptied the toilet cassette. Not a fun job but as we only use the onboard loo for "number ones" it's not not as bad as it could be! 😉 Number two = poo.

We left at 1122am. I had planned to stop at Southwold so the route back was a loop via Potter Heigham. We took the new road bridge rather than the old humpy bridge over the river. This is famous on the Norfolk Broads as one of the trickiest to go under in a boat. Many modern floating bungalows can't fit at all!

Bypassing Great Yarmouth and on towards Lowestoft. I expected us to be on the A12 but we weren't. We lost the best part of 40 minutes getting through. A truck had broken down and for some reason Suffolk Police didn't bother to attend. So there was a tailback of several miles trying to squeeze past. Pretty poor show. Maybe they think roads policing is simply speed cameras and the advertised "unmarked police motorcycle" that they operate?

By then the outside temperature was 29 °C and way too hot for Reggie to be out and so I cancelled the waypoint at the Southwold Pier car park. We eventually found the A12 and headed towards London and the M25.

Crossing the Orwell

Crossing the Orwell

We did have a few drive-through trips into "services" before stopping at one a junction before the turnoff for Colchester United's football stadium. It boasted a Shell garage and Waitrose food hall. Reggie eventually went for a pee in the car park of the neighbouring Holiday Inn hotel. The carpark of which was totally empty and much of the grassed areas unkempt and litter strewn ...

We made good progress after that. I set the cruise control to 60, which in reality is about 55mph. At that speed the inside lane is your lane! The only hassle was at the Dartford Crossing . Southbound is over the beautiful Queen Elizabeth II Bridge. Four lanes wide and a 50mph limit. The red crosses ❌ were showing a ove lanes 3 and 4. Why? One the downside towards Kent, there had been a shunt. A car mist have hit something hard judging by how far the front has moved back towards the windscreen. Once past we all toed it!

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People don't give this bridge credit for how high above the river it is.

Even the 50mph limit through Operation Brock didn't hamper us too much. Set the cruise control at 50mph and occasionally switch it off as you catch people that are doing less! Of course, all the while being overtaken by people that don't bother slowing down. I just hope they receive a fine in the post!!!

And so that was it for our two nights away in Norfolk. Next it's two nights midweek at Littlehampton. It's not as far to travel. It's just off the A259, the road that runs by our house.

Posted by InvictaMoto 18:02 Archived in England Comments (0)

Staycation Naardge!

Day 2

sunny 25 °C

Not much to report. A very hot day and we did next to nothing all day. Read from our Kindles!

The Camping & Motorhome Club site here is very nice. The plots are large enough to accommodate a caravan/Motorhome plus and awning and a car if you have one. The gravel is a little coarse though. Putting up the windbreak wasn't easy as the hard base extends about a foot under the edge of the grass.

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Once it started to cool down a bit we decided to take a short walk from Ludham Bridge along the River Ant towards St Benet's Abbey. We went there the last time we came to Norfolk and called in after a drive from Dereham to Wroxham and Potter Heigham. This time it was a walk of about 1.3 miles from the campsite.

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Claire took some photos as well. I make an appearance too.

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And then the same walking back again. It was still in the low 20 °C region but today there was more cloud.

Hopefully tonight we will get more sleep. What with a helicopter landing in the field behind the campsite after dark and then Reggie joining us on the bed, it wasn't restful last night.

Posted by InvictaMoto 19:03 Archived in England Comments (0)

Staycation Naardge!

Day 1

We were up early and Suki was packed ready for a 10am departure. We didn't make it and eventually left at 10.06am. The route was pretty straightforward until we left the A14 near Ipswich.

Taking the M20 and M25. There was only around two and a half miles of tailbacks to get to the Dartford Tunnel. Crawling traffic and people chopping and changing lanes.

The Ohrex decided to take us up the A12 route rather than the expected M11 and A11. Why I have no idea. I have it set for the vans dimensions and weight. I also had to set it for fast routing.

We had a stop for a coffee at Thurrock. Claire went in and I walked Reggie in the shade. The gauge on the dash was showing 28 °C. We crawled along at an indicated 56mph. When the Ohrex detected a speed cam it displays the speed you are actually doing. If only it did this all the time. It showed 50mph.

A further stop for lunch on the A140 near Ipswich for lunch used up another 35 minutes. A couple of toasted sandwiches. A bit dry but okay.

Once at the site we set up all the kit, awning, new groundsheet and one of the windbreaks. After that we deserved a cup of tea and a Gregg's doughnut...

Followed by a walk. Later we will eat in with food we have brought with us and then maybe it will be Kindle time

The CAMC site is quite large and the pitches are spacious.

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Tomorrow? Have no idea.

Selfie taken on Cybershot

Selfie taken on Cybershot

And a quick picture of the "facilities"...

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Posted by InvictaMoto 20:20 Archived in England Comments (0)

Suki mirror covers

The Milenco mirror covers arrived yesterday. I saw them on eBay and at a discounted price.

They fitted in a few minutes and look pretty good. Hopefully they will protect the mirror underneath if there are any hits with hedges and trees. Hindsight means I should have bought them before the massive damage in late June.

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Posted by InvictaMoto 15:12 Archived in England Comments (0)

Awaycation Winter Sun - Revisited

Ferry Booked!

The first step to an adventure was to book the ferry. After checking a few sources we have opted for the P&O Dover-Calais-Dover service in late November, returning mid-December.

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It cost extra to go in the Pet Lounge but for us it is worth it rather than have Reggie left to his own devices in the Van. I am sure that he will be okay and will sleep for the crossing but who knows? He might bark all the time and get stressed. By the time we go across he will be 12 years old. He has a heart murmur as well.

Next job is to decide where we are heading towards. I would prefer to give Spain a try. The experts on Motorhomefun agree that the west coast plod across France will be the warmest and less chance of ice and even snow. To get to the Med from there will require a run across France to the north of the Pyrenees and then across the border south of Perpignan.

I think we need to do this over a number of days, maybe three or four overnights on the way down. It's an adventure not a race. No prizes for high miles a day.

This is actually the route we are taking, for the most part, when my brother and I go to Aragon for MotoGP. Except we will get almost to Biarritz and then head over the mountains. That will be a no-no in the van!

The only fixed dates at the moment are the ferries in and out of France.

Where to stop. In November and December?

I do like the idea of "aires" but looking at the various apps and websites there are so many that are getting one star out of five reviews. Loads shown as overnights are in fact height barrier to mean we can't get in or they aren't very nice and a haven for yobs. But they are free.

So instead I have thought that Camping-Car Park sites look a better bet. I posted about them on the forum and someone replied to say that they would be too tight to pay for an overnight..... I guess after spending £45k or more for a van you need to save a tenner a night? Actually €10 at a lot of sites.

In "Awaycation France" in June and July this year I wanted to pack as much into the fortnight plus including some longer stays at sights for R&R. I found that what would be easy in car or even on a motorcycle was actually too long a distance in a larger vehicle like the Van.

I have currently only set a target of the France/Spain border on the Mediterranean at Le Perthus to see the route that Google Maps will produce. Non-Toll and definitely no unpaved! From Calais Port it is around 800 miles so we'll need to break that up in manageable chunks.

Posted by InvictaMoto 21:26 Archived in France Tagged france awaycation awaycation_winter_sun_2022 Comments (0)

Awaycation Winter Sun - Revisited

"Head for the Med!"

I have seen on a couple of travel websites and forums that P&O have introduced a "pet lounge" onto the short Channel crossings. So I had a look. To use it requires an extra payment of £5 per dog and per person that want to use it, each way. For us that would add £30 over leaving Reggie to fend for himself for 90 minutes in the Van.

I have no idea how it will work though. How big is the lounge. Given that many dogs, and Reggie is one of them, that actually don't like many other dogs it could get fraught. How can we know if someone is taking a pug or French bulldog on the same ferry? He hates flat nose dogs! It's not just the little pig like snuffling sounds it is their lack of facial expression. Their little bulgy eyes don't help!

Food for thought. It still works out around £110 cheaper than going with Eurotunnel.

I am looking at late November to go across and stay away for three weeks. That would mean on a rolling six months basis that I will have been in the Schengen area for 45 days out of the 90 I am allowed when we return and Claire will only have chalked up 37. Reggie doesn't seem to have a time limit other than the 4 months his AHC will be valid for.

What are the limitations? I plan to be away during the farce that is the football World Cup being played in a country with little of no basis of football history. And it is being played in their winter and therefore cocking up all the main European Leagues. The last Arsenal home game is 29th October. So we could go the day after that. But. My first love and schoolboy team, Oldham Athletic, recently relegated out of the English Football League after 107 years, are playing locally in Maidstone. My brother Neill and I want to go. It's 19th November. So we could go on the 20th?

Maybe a day or two later. We need to be back for Christmas. It's not that we do all that much but it's hard to break the tradition of eating too much at home and then watching TV for 18 hours a day solidly. Maybe next year?

We also have the Marlowe Theatre Panto - Sleeping Beauty on the 23rd December. I'd hate to miss that as it is my "birthday treat".

Claire is more sceptical about the weather conditions in France on the way down to the Med and back. We saw a recent YouTube series of short movies from a couple that went for 8 weeks into Spain and they went in January. They encountered snow only on one day in central Spain as they bypassed Madrid. In Britain we tend to have the worst that winter can throw at us in January and February. Googling shows some fairly reasonable temperatures in France and Spain. I have been a few times in February (half-term) to Spain around Murcia and it has always been pleasant.

Of course the locals are all wearing hats, coats and scarves but for us previously sun starved Britons it's t-shirt weather! Okay, a jumper for the evening!

So what is my idea?

  • Crossing either P&O or Eurotunnel. I am leaning towards P&O simply because the money saved on the fare will buy a lot of diesel for Suki to consume at about 30 miles to every gallon.
  • A non-toll route in both directions unless there is a problem and we need to make up time.

Eventually get to Spain and spend some time on a site or maybe hop along the coast with 2 nights at any one place before heading home.

I still have to work out a few things and see how many days I can allocate to "getting there" through France. Also which route will be determined to some extent on where the Camping-Car sites are available. I expect that in November and December there may be quite a few.

Suggestions from the MoHo community on a few forums would suggest the "western" route south would be the best. As it will be warmer day and night. That is pretty much the way that my brother and I will be taking when we ride to Aragon in September for the MotoGP. I expect the route he has planned will be toll-free as well. I'll take a look. His route does involve a pass across the Pyrenees that will be open for definite in September.... but November? Mmmm.

So the drawing board is open for business.

Any suggestions for a route or campsites to visit welcomed. Leave a comment?

Posted by InvictaMoto 22:06 Archived in France Tagged awaycation_winter_sun_2022 Comments (0)

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