Tag Archives: road trip

The final leg

Things at camp naked worked out quite well in the end, we liked it so much we stayed for about a week. We had awesome neighbours, Leanne and Kevin, hopefully we’ll head up to Newcastle sometime and meet them for a drink.

Stella met who she described as her honorary grandma, a lady called Lynda. Lynda and her husband Stewart were both lovely and invited us round to theirs for a drink one afternoon which we gladly took them up on, it was a lovelyafternoon and we swapped email addresses to keep in touch.

Stella really enjoyed the beach and even ventured out onto a lilo with me and Lolly, she really got the hang of being in the sea.

She also quite like me digging holes for her to sit in and be buried.

Aside from the beach there isn’t really very much for Stella to do so we decided to move on and try and find somewhere that caters more for kids, we consulted the ACSI campsite book. We checked out one place but it didn’t look all that and the surrounding area was pretty run down so we drove on to this place.

It’s a Yelloh camping site which in season is very expensive, as it was out of season the pitches were considerably cheaper. We were offered a number of options and eventually settled by a spot by the beach which would eventually slightly regret.

I spent a little while getting set up while Lolly took Stella to the waterpark. Stella loved the waterpark and was exactly what we wanted for her.

There was a designated small baby pool which she could splash about in, there was a lazy river she floated around while in her inflatable ring, a jacuzzi we all hung out in, there was also another pool upstairs which Stella loved jumping off the edge of into one of our arms and swimming from one end to the other in her ring.

There is an on site cocktail bar and restaurant that we visited on our second afternoon there, I had a steak and Lolly had mussels, it was OK but expensive for what it’s was.

I also discovered they sell my absolute favourite Belgian beer on tap which was an excellent surprise, wasn’t cheap though, 6 euros a glass…

That night there was a beautiful sunset and I sent up my drone to get a picture.

When we first arrived we found a bar which was part of the complex called the Tiki bar, it was closed but a couple of days later we ventured back there and it was open, it dawned on me that i’d taken hardly any pictures of Stella and Lauren together so I grabbed a snap of them both sitting on one of the swings they had at the bar.

We didn’t really do to much at Aloha, it was nice to relax and watch Stella enjoying herself in the waterpark or trying to bounce with the bigger kids on the bouncy castle.

There are a lot of Germans at this site and they tend to head for the more static accommodation which looks lovely.

I also noticed the kids here were quite unfriendly. Stella would bowl up to any kid in the park or on the bouncy castle and say hello and they all just looked at her like she was an alien, I felt really sorry for her especially as everywhere else we go so many people make an effort to talk or smile at her. Most of the adults were the same to be honest, nearly every site we have been to people have been quite cheerful and made an effort to say good morning or hello, few and far between here, I’m not blaming just the Germans either, everyone was like it except us which I am sure got on peoples nerves!

Right by reception there us a little wooden house for kids, Stella went mad for it and I got a really nice picture of her in it.

Toward the end of our trip here I put up the awning lights which I’d forgotten to put out for the entire trip, they looked nice at night.

It was a lovely little spot we had but the wind blew terribly and there were mossies everywhere, they particularly liked me 😦

After 5 nights it was time to pack up and head out, when we checked in we had been told the spot we took was one price but it turned out to be about 9 euro’s a night more expensive, even though I explained we had been told it was the same price as the cheaper pitch reception were having none of it which kind of tainted the whole experience for me.

I dropped Lolly and Stella to Béziers airport and started the long drive back, I drove for about 8 hours to a place called Nonancourt where there is an Aire Lolly’s parents use, I got there and was offered some vodka from 2 kids in a car that were hanging around with nothing better to do, I declined and said I’d have a beer once I’d finished getting myself setup for the night. I’d been trying to find somewhere to grab some beers from all the way to Nonancourt and came across a garage that was open, to my surprise they sold beer and I felt I had witnessed a miracle, it was only when I was half way through the second can I realised it was non alcoholic not that it mattered I suppose, just having a beer after a long drive alcoholic or not definitely helps you unwind.

Lolly’s parents weren’t going to arrive at the air until about midnight so I caught up on an episode of Stranger Things and admired my view for the evening.

Camping for three in a motor home for 3 weeks sounds romantic but you have to take so much stuff..

The roof box was also full, now you see why we need a bigger van!

Before I settled down for the night I decided to put in my API information for the tunnel crossing, It was at this point I realised there was an error in my booking, somehow my booking from Calais to Folkestone had been booked the other way round, it was too late to call so I figured I’d deal with it the next morning.

About 7.30 there was a knock at my window and Lolly’s dad very kindly took my tea cup and filled it with tea, I had a lovely chat with Ian and Lindi along with a pain up chocolate and some cake for breakfast, I got a last picture of Bumblebee and Charlene as this will definitely be their last adventure together.

I said farewell to Lindi and Ian, cleared up a bit of the mess the vodka drinking kids left and got on the phone to Le Shuttle.

Whoever designed their ticketing system designed it in such a way in that if there is an error in the crossing direction you can’t just swap them round, you have to buy a whole new ticket and then give them the booking references for both tickets and they will refund you the original booking. That’s all well a good but as I didn’t notice until after hours the day before I travelled, the price had rocketed to over double the original cost. After a lot of negotiating / pleading they eventually credited my original crossing cost to to the new booking which cost me an extra 103GBP but on the plus side I am getting on an earlier crossing. I know I didn’t make the mistake so I’ll be contacting their customer complaints department.

As I write I’m sat at Calais waiting for my crossing,I thought I’d go and hang out in the Aire Lolly and I stayed at back in 2015, it’s been demolished and rebuilt since then!

It looks a lot nicer and tidier but it’s not an aire anymore, there was a burger stall and kebab shop that was really busy with kids, now it’s just a promenade with a load of lined parking, you can still get dodgy mussels and chips from the restaurant that time forget however, it’s still here and not moved with the times.

I’ll be glad to get home if not just to sleep in my own bed and drink a decent cup of tea, how very British!

We’ve covered about 1700 miles this time round and apart from a puncture Bumblebee has performed flawlessly cruising at 90mph with ease on the A roads, honestly, as a family we’ll be sad to see him go but it’s been a fitting farewell trip for our trusty home on wheels….

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A mobile home adventure in Fuerteventura

As our regular readers know, nearly all the holidays we take are in our van, Bumblebee. We wanted to get away before Lolly’s maternity leave expired and ideally, somewhere hot, that ruled out anywhere in England and a good part of France. We had thought about getting a ferry with Bumblebee to southern Spain with a stop in the Pyrenees to do some mountain biking, problem is, at this time of year they are still covered in snow, not ideal and definitely not hot..

Also, with Stella at the age she is we are limited to 2 hours travelling time as that’s about the max she can spend in a car seat so the “experts” say so we wouldn’t really get very far and certainly nowhere that warm before we had to turn back and come home…

Thankfully, Lolly had a plan, how about we fly to the Canary Islands, rent a motor home and spend 10 days exploring the island, then be back home for my birthday so I could go out somewhere on my downhill bike, I’d made a big deal about that last bit so bless Lolly for coming up with a solution that meant we could all go on holiday somewhere hot in a van / motorhome and I could still go out on my bike, she’s the best.

Lolly did all the research and it came down to 3 motor home providers, 2 established companies and one who to us seemed like the small business who we would much rather give our money to, the company we chose is called Ventura van, the cost for a proper motorhome with shower, wc, baby seat and pickup / drop off at the airport was about £990.00 GBP, flights with easy jet from Gatwick for all 3 of us was £440 GBP return.

Lolly booked it all and once that was done it was time to do some research about motorhoming on the island which brings me to why I’m writing about a trip not in Bumblebee. There is very little information about the motorhome experience on Fuerteventura other than a few blogs saying how expensive it is to get your van / motorhome there. There are no recommendations of places to stay or park up so I thought if I write about our experience it might give others not not an insight but inspiration to do the same.

In no time at all our departure day was upon us, we’d just returned from a weekend in Chichester where it had snowed for the entire weekend, England was very cold so a trip to somewhere warm was most welcome.

We’ve never taken Stella on a plane before and personally I was dreading it, I had visions of her screaming all the way and us upsetting every passenger on the plane, I was also worried we might not get on the flight as while we were in Chichester she broke out in what we thought was chickenpox but was actually hand foot and mouth, anyway, I couldn’t have been more wrong about the flight, Stella took the whole thing in her stride and raised lots of smiles every time I took her for a wander up and down the aisle, as you can see, Stella was having a lovely time..

The flight was about 4 hours and as I mentioned earlier was with EasyJet, I have to say, it was a great flight and the staff at EasyJet were fantastic, they helped us check in all our baggage and extra items correctly and I’d like to think made sure we had 3 seats to ourselves when we’d only paid for 2.

On arrival our home on wheels was still on it’s way so we grabbed a quick beer and remarked on how windy it was, the sun was out however so who cares about the wind!

Our ride turned up, introductions took place, the owners of the van talked to Stella a lot in Spanish and she just smiled like she usually does, we hopped in and made our way to a car park in Puerto Rosario where we were briefed in how to work the motorhome, given a list of places we could empty the grey water and toilet cassette, handed over the cash deposit and then told good luck, see you in 10 days…

This is our chariot….

Now what???

There are no campsites on the Island, not one so it’s ten days of wild camping, for those of you not familiar with what that means, basically find somewhere safe to stop for the night and hope you don’t get told to move on. One of the things I had read about the island is that wild camping is massively encouraged because there just aren’t any campsites and it’s the best way to see the island, sure you can rent an apartment and get a car but at the end of the day you will always have to drive home whereas this way you can get your driving done early doors, park up and stay for a day or two and head to the next place.

I had researched a few places to go but after the flight and being handed the keys to a behemoth vehicle I had never driven on the wrong side of the road in I did’t really fancy venturing far, we’d seen a few vans parked up by the sea so agreed to head to the supermarket, grab some food and then find a spot to stay. At this point poor Stella was shattered and we dragged her round the supermarket as we had to get food for us and her.

As soon as we got out of the supermarket we strapped Stella into her car seat and before Lauren had finished strapping her in she was soundo…

We headed back toward the airport as that is where we saw the vans parked up by the sea, before we saw them we saw a sign for Playa Blanca and swerved in there. As you come off the motorway there is a sizeable hotel, if you turn left at the roundabout before the hotel there is a dirt road with plenty of places to park up which is where we stopped, rear door facing the sea. We had planned on making something lovely for dinner but it had been a proper long day so we put Stella to bed and settled for bread, Aioli and beer, we shut up the van, set the bed up and crashed for the night…..

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Day 1

Our trip to France started with a 21st birthday party in Hertfordshire and camping in a bloke called Bob’s back garden. He has a lovely house in a little village called Furneux Pelham and had offered to host Billies 21st. Billie is Lauren’s cousin. When we arrived there was a good sprinkling of family chatting away and some of Billies guests in the pool, they’re quite a sensible lot, if someone had let me borrow their house and pool for a 21st birthday it would have been proper carnage!

As the evening progressed the only people that seemed to get smashed was us oldies, either the 21 year old massive didn’t drink or they held it down well, I was probably too smashed to notice. 

Bob’s garden is massive as demonstrated by the small band of travellers that stayed the night in their wagons taking up no room at all. 

Our alarm went off at 05.00, nothing like getting up at stupid o’clock to go on holiday, we made a brew and then lolly went for a dip. 

We had a chat with Lollys mum and dad who are also travelling to France, made a fairly loose arrangement with them and then headed off for the ferry. 


The roads were deserted apart from the odd tool driving in the middle lane forever, rather that then traffic. 

In no time at all we could see the sea which meant Dover wasn’t too far away. 


The crossing was relatively uneventful tho I did buy a new Bluetooth speaker, haven’t tested it yet but am sure it will sound way better than the one I have at the moment which is average at best and a blatant rip off of something that should be way more expensive. 

We left Calais and made straight for a little village called Chemin du cal serin, it’s about 2 or so hours drive heading in the direction of Marseilles. We’re stopping in this village as a couple we met last year recommend the Aire, for 5 euros a night you get water, electricity, WC and a nice view of an old castle. 

When we arrived all the spots were taken so in true Mark Ashley / Croydonia style we made our own space. 


We hadn’t eaten since we arrived in Dover so we set about getting some food cooking, chicken on the trusty Cobb and Lolly knocked up a lovely salad, rice and coleslaw.


After cooking the chicken the Cobb was still roasting hot so we cooked up all our sausages before they went off and chucked a couple of corns on and left them to cook while we went for a wander up to Coucy-le-chateau-auffrique. 


What’s surprising about this place is there is a whole little village built around the ruin and there is a community of friendly goats roaming about the place too, they are really friendly if you have food. 

Much to Lollys dismay we’d arrived just as the local boot fair was packing up so no wandering about looking at people’s stuff they’re trying to get rid of, we did however have a good look about the town and unfortunately just missed the tour of the castle. After about 30 minutes we came across the track we’d come so decided to head back down to the van, do all the washing up from earlier, have a little wander and then crash for the night. 

We took a walk down a lane not far from the van which will be forever remembered as mosquito alley, bastard things everywhere, I’d already been bitten once and now have a temporarily inflated foot. I’ve been bitten a few more times since that walk, we retreated to van and watched the final two episodes of Wayward Pines, ate a considerable amount of chocolate and then went to bed. 

All in all a successful first day, no fuel issues either which is a bonus, the only downside to living like this is not much in the way of showers, we do have a camping shower but I’d set that up a bit late so it hadn’t heated up very much by the time we got back to use it. 

The combination of solar panels and split charge system is keeping the battery charged and fridge powered up which means our food keeps and if I ever get any beers they will be cold. 

We’re off to the mountains tomorrow, I’ve always wanted to see a ski resort in summer so that’s what we’re doing, with any luck we’ll have a shower too! 

 

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Vive la France !

In less than 2 weeks we’ll be packing up the van and heading over the pond to spend three weeks driving and camping around France.

We were planning to go to Ibiza but the ferry cost is ridiculous, 650 quid return which I reckon is more than the fuel cost of our entire 3 week trip around France.

Over the last few months we’ve been researching places we’d like to visit and locations we’d like to stay in and as you can see in the picture below a route has been loosely planned.

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Our first port of call will be Mont St Michel, from there we’ll be making our way down the atlantic coast to Biarritz, stopping off at Il de Re, Soulac Sur Mer and Arcachon, a night in Bordeaux and St Emillion, then across to Lourdes, inland to Argentat to hang with the Coups and finally homeward bound via Puy De Dome and Chambord.

We’ll be staying at campsites, my in-laws and Aires we’ve found using this awesome book.

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It’s going to be an epic trip!

By way of preparation some work has been done on the van, new timing belt and water pump, air filter, the old one is below, not great, i’ve seen worse…

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I’ve also invested in a tried and tested diesel treatment that should increase our fuel efficiency by 10% and clean up the injectors, expect a seperate report on that!

I’ll be updating the blog throughout the trip as often as I can for those that follow our travels and we’ll be keeping an eye out for fellow dubbers!

Thats all for now, planning and packing for the next week or so!

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Scotland here we come !

We have booked up our first proper road trip in the van, 7 nights camping around the lake district and Scotland.

We’ll be going to:

Ullswater

Galloway Forest

Loch lomond

Each of these locations offers some awesome walks, mountain bike rides, stunning views and hopefully some astro photography as at least one place we are staying at has been designated a dark sky park, can’t do much about clouds though.

We are really excited (me especially) and I will be spending my 40th tearing about on my bike if it’s not chucking it down, amazing!

As always I’ll write up a report of each place we visit and we’ll also have a chance to test out our Cobb BBQ and Duvalay, check out the goodies section for a write up on each.

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First road trip of 2015!

With my 40th just round the corner we’ve decided to take the whole week off and go on a road trip.

The trip is in the early stages of planning but i’m so excited I thought I should post something!

Looking like we’ll be heading to the lake district first and the to galloway forest, then following a scenic drive to Oban, thats as far as i’ve got but as I mentioned before, so excited…

Been wanting to go to Scotland for ages and now it’s happening, woo hoo !!!

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