A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: InvictaMoto

Staycation Naardge 3

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 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 Comments (0)

Staycation August x2

Littlehampton. {Snigger}

Now that Suki has had her incontinence problem fixed, we have planned a few trips away in the UK.

Firstly to Norfolk again. The first time in the van. I have booked us into the CAMC site at Ludham near Wroxham. The site looks good. It's only for two nights. The site looks close to the river and so I am hoping there are some nice walks.

It will mean using the Dartford Crossing and that is always a pain in the butt. Even with ANPR toll collection the crossing through two double bore tunnels going northbound can have miles of tailbacks. The plan is to set off around 10am from here and keep plugging away. Earliest entry to the site is 1pm.

Then a second two-nighter later in the month but closer to home in Sussex at the CAMC site in Littlehampton. I haven't researched too much about this area yet. I went there about 50 years ago on a school trip!!! The only one that wasn't educational!

More to follow once we have been!

Posted by InvictaMoto 07:21 Archived in England Comments (0)

Suki Warranty Work

We noticed in France that Suki a problem with a drip from underneath. It seemed to be coming from the "grey water" tank.

At first we noticed a "stale" water smell and that was treated with soda bicarbonate and vinegar. That cured the smell but not the leak. When we put her in storage a few weeks ago I drained the grey water. Except there was only a dribble coming out.

I booked her into JC and she went in today. They found the hose had split and have replaced it and also made sure it is tied up to make it easier to drain.

Whilst it was there, they fixed a couple of the internal lights as well.

By 4.30pm she was back in storage for a couple of weeks before we go away again.

Posted by InvictaMoto 20:38 Archived in England Comments (0)

Staycation West Country 2022

Four nights in the not-so-wild West

We always try to get away for our wedding anniversary and this year is no exception.

Instead of jetting off to Spain or the US we will stay in the UK and will take Reggie with us in Suki.

We like to have a minimum of two nights when we stay over at a site. One night is okay when in transit, but simply no good when you might want to see something of the area.

So first two nights we are at the CAMC site at Cheddar. It's close to the town and a little longer walk to the world famous Gorge. It's also the birthplace of the famous cheese!

The second two-nighter is not that far away at Old Oaks Camping & Glamping near Glastonbury. Not for the music festival but for the folklore!

I am looking at maybe a single overnight to break up the drive home. As yet I haven't found a site that is on the way without a massive detour.

We are limited with places to go as we have the dog and he is anti public transport. He hates buses and trains! So we need a site that is close to points of interest and maybe a pub, within walking distance at least.

Maybe just stick with the 4 nights away?

Posted by InvictaMoto 21:18 Archived in England Comments (0)

Awaycation Winter Sun - Revisited

Ferries? Where to go?

I have ruled out Brittany Ferries. The dates I am looking at don't have any pet friendly cabins available and I don't fancy putting Reggie in a kennel for what looks to be a 30 hour crossing!

I am looking at the weeks that the World Cup is on. I have an Arsenal season ticket and the English Premiership is having a break as most clubs will be very short of players! Seems like a good time to be away then!

As it will be November and December I doubt that climate change will have brought the "mediterranean climate" to southern England and Northern France as was claimed some years ago would be here by now. Although we had record breaking heat in the UK this week (July) with the highest ever temperatures recorded at over 40 °C, I doubt that we will have December temperatures hovering between 6 °C to 14 °C like they do in Nice or Barcelona.

It will take some will power to leave Reggie in the Van on the short crossing to Calais or Dunkirk. Eurotunnel is in the region of £360 for the return journey. DFDS is no change, from when I looked last week, at £218. Both include the charge for the checking of the Pet AHC.

The savings over the Shuttle are enough to fill the Van's diesel tank 1.5 times. That would give us about 750 miles of driving. Possibly even more now that fuel prices are starting to come down again!

DFDS have some information on their site about taking pets away - https://www.dfds.com/en-gb/passenger-ferries/passenger-information/pet-travel

I have been looking at places to stay when we are away. If we choose the Côte d'Azur as the destination then we need to go down the eastern side of France. The distance from Calais port to Nice is about 750 miles. Choosing a place further west, such as Narbonne is around 675 miles. Although that route goes right down the middle where it might get a little on the cold side!

So that's another consideration. More to come!

Posted by InvictaMoto 18:41 Archived in France Comments (0)

MotoGP Aragón

Tickets went on sale at the end of June just before I went on the trip to France with Claire and Reggie.

After a lot of messing about I managed to get onto the right part of the official Aragón site and buy the tickets for the Grandstand that Neill sat in before.

The good thing is that over-65's get a large discount in the ticket cost! They are e-tickets. I sent a copy of the email to Neill.

Posted by InvictaMoto 20:08 Archived in Spain Tagged aragon motogp Comments (0)

Awaycation Winter Sun - Revisited

After the rather expensive experience with Eurotunnel I have been looking at the alternatives.

The ferries from Dover to Calais or Dunkerque are much cheaper than the Shuttle even in November when there are less likely to be throngs of holidaymakers in their car and motorhomes making their way across. I have been looking at midweek fares.

Maybe booking through the Caravan and Motorhome Club (CAMC) might get a discount as it did when we went in June.

At the moment for (roughly) the same dates and times the different crossings (with dog!) work out at:

DFDS - Dover/Calais £218 inc Reggie.
Irish Ferries - Can't book anything beyond October '22
Eurotunnel - £351 inc Reggie!

I haven't bothered to check what P&O Ferries could offer as I don't feel I can travel with them after the mass sacking of over 800 UK based seafarers in the Spring. Saying that, Irish Ferries did the same a few years ago and it seems they have been let off the hook!

The difference is quite startling. We went on the last trip with Eurotunnel with Reggie in the van to avoid him being left alone in the van on the crossing. personally I don't think he'll be that bothered. We'll have to see what we can arrange. The price difference of £133 would pay for a week's campsite fees!

Hopefully by then the cost of fuel will have come down. Considering that crude oil prices are back to the level they were before the Russians decided to invade the Ukraine. We'll see eh? Profiteering was illegal during the Second World War, about time that the allied governments applied the same rules now.

We still have to decide where to go. I was thinking of a "dash" of one night stays along the non-toll route down the west side of France towards Spain. Too late in the year and the more central routes will be cold and maybe even icy. But that would put us on the "wrong" side of France for the Cote d'Azur?

So maybe a "dash" down the eastern side to Lyon and beyond would work?

Suggestions and recommendations invited.....

Posted by InvictaMoto 16:53 Archived in France Comments (0)

Suki gone to storage!

And what we learned on holiday!

After three weeks on the drive and away in france I have taken Suki back to the local Caravan and Motorhome Club site to go into storage. I forgot to make a note of the end mileage and for that matter the start of the trip mileage, and so have no real idea how many miles we did in the loop around France. It is somewhere in the region of 1450.

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She does look a bit lonely parked up in Bay 10. But there are a few caravans to keep her company.

I'll have to check the football dates and see what trips away we can fit in for a few days away. I will be lookign at midweek rather than weekends. I doubt it will be any cheaper but it may mean fewer people around.

So what did we learn from the last adventure?

1) Fewer miles between campsites. Plan shorter days on the road as Suki is much slower than a bike or even a car and takes longer to go anywhere. Plus need to stop for regular breaks for Reggie.
2) Check when other countries/regions have school holidays! I don't dislike kids but after 30 plus years working in education and teaching even other peoples' kids you can give back at the end of the day are still there in the evenings!
3) Campsites. Choose smaller campsites that are dog friendly have electric hookups and aren't like holiday camps with entertainment 24/7 and noise until 1am!
4) Campsites with a choice of hard standing. Getting off the pitch at Sandaya Grande Cote was difficult with the soft sand.
5) Don't take as many clothes! Giving them a tour of Europe without them coming out of the locker is pointless and adds weight!

What else? It will come to me sooner rather than later.

Posted by InvictaMoto 16:38 Archived in England Comments (0)

Awaycation Winter Sun

Planning ahead!

The football World Cup takes place in November and December and that means that there will be no English Premier League games for that duration. I don't think Arsenal will play at home at all in November and not until December 26th! A day when there is virtually no public transport!

So I have been thinking about another "adventure" away in Suki. It will be cold in the UK. So maybe a lot further south might fit the bill?

We have LPG that will run the cooker, fridge and heating if we need it. Maybe be less extravagant with campsites and choose ones that don't offer bars and pools and therefore will be cheaper? Then again it will be late November and northern France will be cold so pools will defo be out of the question.

The wisdom of the Motorhomefun suggest that Spain should be okay for a winter break. But getting there? How? Brittany Ferries from the UK directly to Spain work out quite expensive but they have no pet accommodation for any dates that are acceptable to me. So it would be a drive to Spain or maybe the Cote d'Azur?

Oddly the distance between driving to Nice (for example) or Lloret de Mar in Spain is about the same! Non-toll routes that is.

So more on this later in the year.

Posted by InvictaMoto 19:33 Archived in France Comments (0)

Awaycation France - Day 16

Homeward Bound.

With the Shuttle not until 3.50pm we don't have to be there realistically until 1.50pm. Eurotunnel say to arrive no earlier than 4 hours before departure.

My plan is to go up the D940 all the way. If we go from here about 10am we have plenty of time to stop and maybe use a bit of LPG gas and have a coffee and biscuits, before arriving in Coquelles.

We'll have to see.

0710

Reggie of course needed his comfort break about 6.30am as usual. After a late nigh whilst the French welcomed Bastille Day with well over an hour of fireworks. It seemed from every angle there were pops and bangs. Reggie was angry and barking. It was well after midnight when the noise subsided.

No sooner had I got Reggie back in the Van than it started to rain. All hands on deck to close windows and both sun roofs!! It lasted no more than five minutes and barely wet the ground.

0830

Up. The sun is out and hopefully will dry the awning before we pack it away.

Reggie now asleep after all his nocturnal meanderings under the bed and into the storage boxes under the bench seats.

1420

Arrived at Eurotunnel after a stop just outside Boulogne. We stopped for coffee and then had an egg and bacon McMuffin from the golden arches company. We had to park in the Leclerc parking as McD not big enough for Suki. This little Innocenti mini was in there.

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Our route this morning mostly on the D940 from St Valéry to Sangatte. Apart from some weird detour that until I check my timeline in Google Maps I have no idea if it was for the better.

The D940 is excellent for bikes. The blanket 80kph speed limit is enforced but a waste of the perfectly flat smooth surface. It is even enjoyable in Suki.

There were so many motorhomes around. Oddly not that many British. We have been here so often so we are surprised when we see some new developments. Houses being built. New restaurants. Older ones tidied up etc.

We had a slight problem as the vet in Abbeville hadn't filled in the right bit of the AHC. We need to make sure in future that page 4 is filled in properly. She did a separate letter signed and stamped with the vet's authority but they didn't like it! But let us in "this once". They had all the necessary details though. Bit jobsworthy! The vet spent ages on the internet following instructions on completing the form! What a farce. Whilst we were there two dogs came in with the old pet passports and had gone before us.

As we queued for the train and as sat in the queue we watched one of them loading onto the train we were booked on!

1525

When we checked in the woman said our train was 1550. The one we were booked on. Within five minutes 1550 had become 1650!!! We bought some beer and got a coffee. It was back to 1550. It was easy enough getting through both border controls. The French had one window open that suddenly became three. We switched lanes and got through.

NB: The beer is not for us but for our neighbour John, as he had sorted the broken mirror and fitted my replacement before we set off.

The only possible problem was Border bloke came on to check we had no stowaways and Reggie lunged at him. Luckily he was on the short harness lead and was about a foot short of the bloke's thigh...

1555

As expected we are still in Lane 8. The 1550 gas come and gone and it is back to 1620 now... I gave been using Eurotunnel many times a year since it opened and I can say that I can count on one hand how many times I gave been on the train I booked and paid for. As for earlier trains. One.

The reasons for the delays were blamed on border controls. But as they are running only two trains an hour maybe they have more vehicles than space.

It now says "G3 Boarding imminent". Train time 1620.

What are the chances?

1626

We are off!!!

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1700 UK

Arrived and away. We were in the second carriage. A detour via Tesco at Cheriton and we are home. Unpacking Suki almost over. Chicken doner kebab meat and salad ordered for last supper...

Back on plan tomorrow?

Posted by InvictaMoto 17:16 Archived in France Comments (0)

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