Tag Archives: Travel

A windy night and learning how to motor home….

We woke reasonably early in Playa Blanca after a very windy night, as we’ve come to find they aren’t joking about the wind, if you’re by the coast it’s windy, it doesn’t let up either…

On the plus side however we did wake up to the sound of the ocean (twinned with the sound of howling wind) and the sun was making a concerted effort to break through the cloud…

It was shortly after taking this picture we discovered there were no mugs in the van and no kettle either (first world problems) so we made some tea in a massive saucepan and shared it, we also discovered the van water tastes rank so it’s boiled bottled water for tea from now on…

The previous nights visit to the supermarket was a grab and dash affair so we concluded we should visit another supermarket and stock up on supplies to last us at least a couple of days, buy some mugs and tea towels then head on to Corralejo.

Stella had a much better time at the supermarket

Corralejo is up near the Dunes of Corralejo national park and we had this notion that we’d be able to park up by the sea, have a bbq, watch the sun go down but that wasn’t to be, there is only roadside parking to access the dunes which probably isn’t a bad thing as this motor home would have got stuck in the sand anyway, we carried on to Corralejo which is my idea of hell, it’s like your typical Spanish tourist sea side town except it’s set back from the sea because of the wind, loads of sunburnt people sitting in English bars with their beer guts on display, sky tv everywhere and loads of shops similar to home, I spend every day in a busy city and the last place I want to be is in a busy town, there were also zero parking up options, on the way into town we saw a couple of big hotels with roads down to what we thought was the beach so we headed there looking for somewhere to stop.

The first road we turned down wasn’t a bad place to stop but we thought we’d check the road by the other hotel, tuned out to be a much better option, in no time at all we were parked up..

If you are here motorhoming and looking for an overnight stop over, this isn’t a bad option, there are 2 small supermarkets within a couple of minutes, one sells mugs and the other tea towels and BBQ’s amongst other things, the road is quiet the beach is only a few minutes walk away, it’s also inland enough not to be so windy…

As you can see it’s quite a big beach, it’s also a very windy beach not that it bothered Stella.

We tried sheltering behind some sunloungers but were pretty much sand blasted so we headed over to a beach bar to grab some shelter and a beer, they let us buy a beer as they were closing up so after about ten minutes we had to leave, we took a walk along the beach getting blown about all the way till we found a little crater, we sat down in there for a bit and it was much less sand blastery….

We mooched back to the van to feed and bath Stella, put her to bed, then make some food and test the shower out, we also had some booze and for a short period of time I convinced Lolly to wear a colander while cooking…

Right by where the van parked is a massive mobile phone mast that in the day looks quite ugly, however, with a lovely sunset and the mountains in the background it looks a bit like Tatooine…

Next morning we faffed about getting ready to leave and I made breakfast, it’s been the same thing for the last couple of days but it’s really nice, spicy meat crisped in the frying pan, then eggs scrambled in the oil from the meat served on some bread and butter as we don’t have a toaster with a slice of tomato on top..

Our destination for the day was Playa de Majanicho solely because the lady we hired the van from said it was nice. Before we got there however, we headed into my least favourite place to fill the van up with water which you do from petrol stations, some charge a euro for a timed amount of water, some don’t, some also have limited water which the Disa in Corralejo does so we had to abandon that and head out, not before Lolly saw a shoe shop and successfully purchased the pair of trainers I promised her for Christmas, I also had to pick up a lead for the satnav as I’d broke it, incidentally, if you are looking for a good satnav I can highly recommend the Garmin Nuvi 1390, you can pick one up from eBay for about 40 quid and it covers the whole of Europe inlcuding where we are now, do update it though as there are a few new roads over here which will through you off course as it did us trying to find the petrol station to fill up with water.

Before filling up we also had to empty, something we don’t have to do with Bumblebee, there are various locations across the island you can empty your grey water and toilet cassette, the owners of our chariot gave us map locations for each one which I will post up at the end of the blog. We found the service stop fairly easily and proceeded to empty the tanks.

It’s not an exciting business emptying dirty water and essentially a bucket of turds into a cesspit but it was made slightly more enjoyable by the squirrel army who are incredibly tame, every one of them came over to me, nibbled my hand to see if they could eat me and then retreated, the nibbling didn’t hurt and we gave them some dry weetabix and a breadstick Stella had chucked on the floor.

Happy squirrels.

From here we made our way to the garage to fill up on water and this is when we discovered I should have updated the satnav, we missed the new turning to our destination and ended up on a 30 minute detour, It was approaching 15.00 and we’d spent the whole day in the motorhome, this isn’t what we’d come away for. We found the garage and spent about an hour there filling up, letting Stella play outside and stocking up on beer, this is the garage, it’s in La Oliva and charges 1 euro for a good amount of fresh water.

Finally we were off and on our way to our last stop, it’s was a long and empty road…

We arrived in Majanicho to discover it’s a tiny collection of shacks frequented mainly we suspect by surfers and kite surfers, to date this is the windiest place we have been, it’s very pretty but also very very windy to the point that is’t bloody freezing outside.

This was not to be our final stop, we concluded it was not the best place for an overnight so decided to head inland up into the mountains where there is much less wind, we did take Stella to the beach before we left and I took a pano of the beach.

As you can see the beach was very quiet, everyone had been blown away.

Our stop for the night was to be a car park at the foot of a track that leads to a lookout, it’s a quiet road and car park with a stunning view of the island, particularly a sacred mountain called Tindaya.

We also constructed our first camp washing line, always travel with para chord 🙂

I tired to film a time lapse sunset but the go pro blew over half way through, I was also intending to take some Astro photos but ended up drinking loads of beer and eating a lovely fish pasta Lolly made us, we settled down for the night in a not to wind blasted van..

Next morning we woke up to sunshine and a herd of wild goats, I didn’t sleep that well as it was cold and I didn’t put the heating on, it wasn’t that cold when we went to bed.

We took Stella up to the view point, the view is much like the one we have from the van only slightly higher.

You can just see the van in the distance…

We’re now back in the van ready to eat some breakfast and head off somewhere else, most likely El Costillo….

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Two adults, one camper van and baby!

In preperation for Bugjam we though it would be a good idea to have a bit of a trial run camping with Stella. Before she was born we’ve been preparing a list of things we think she and we will need to take care of her, doing a trial run means we can test everything and make sure we haven’t forgotten anything either..

We booked one nights camp at Cobbs Hill farm in Bexhill, it was £20.00 for all three of us, electricity and enough room to put up an awning, Lolly mum and dad came too in their palace on wheels and the campsite ensured we were parked right next to each other.


The staff at the site were friendly, polite and helpful,  the facilities and site well maintained and the field we were camping on nice and level, all in all I would recommend this site.

Anyway, on to the business of camping with a baby. Prior to our arrival I had instructed Lolly not to help with any of the setting up, I need to be able to do it on my own while she takes care of Stella. First things first was to get the awning up. My long time friend and excellent glass fitter Rob had already installed and awning J rail for me so all I had to do was get the awning up and connected to the van, that process took about 20 minutes to get the awning up, connected, pegged down and groundsheet laid out. The awning I bought second hand, it’s a Kyham motordome tourer and once up you can easily disconnect it from the van and drive off somewhere. I’d also emptied the contents of the roof box before I put the awning up so I could then chuck it all in the awning and not need to access the roof box.

The awning is great for the simple reason that you can keep the bazillion things you need for a small child and two adults in it without cluttering up the van.


Next job, Stella’s bed. 

Before she was born I bought a cab bunk, this consists of 4 metal poles, 2 end poles and some grey canvas, once you put it all together it is wider at one end than it is at the other, the thing end goes by the steering wheel, you rest each end of the bunk on the sills of the front door cards and hey presto, the van now sleeps three. Stella is only 5 weeks so too young to sleep on the bunk alone. While I was on paternity leave a few people at work signed a card and gave some money to buy us a gift, I asked for a thing called a sleepy head deluxe. We put a blanket on top of the bunk canvas to insulate any cold air coming upwards and then the sleepy head on top of that.


At the moment Stella is finding breastfeeding a bit tricky as she is tongue tied, Lolly is expressing so we feed her from a bottle which means you need to sterilise stuff, we used the Milton cold water steriliser and sterilising tablets, worked like a charm and you can get loads in it plus all you need is cold water and a sterilising tablet. You could use any container however the proper Milton one has marks on the side to tell you the volume of water in and the top locks shut so you can drive about with it and not spill sterilising water everywhere.

To heat up bottles we just used the old fashioned hot water and bowl method which worked perfectly fine, we didn’t bring any special changing stuff either, just the changing bag with enough supplies for a night away.

Once all that was done we got the Cobb BBQ on, drank some beer and had a lovely evening with the in laws and a couple of their friends who came to visit. Before long it was time to turn in, we put Stella in her sleepy head and crashed for the night.

Normally, Stella wakes up for food at least a couple of times a night for food, we thought she might be a bit freaked out by the environment but she slept, well, like a baby only waking up the once, here she is still asleep at about 9 the following morning…


The sleepy head and cab bunk combo worked really well, Stella got a great nights sleep which meant Lolly did too (i sleep through everything), Stella was easy to access when need to and Lolly could sit at the end of the bed without her feet sat in a travel cot on the floor. If still remains a tiny baby then the sleepy head will be good for a couple of years at least and the bunk a good few more.

The morning was a very lazy affair, Lindi made us a lovely breakfast, Lolly didn’t look so zombie like and Stella was a happy baby, winner!

Before we checked out we got a few pictures of us with Stella and our mobile camping rig, one with Daddy.


And one with Mummy


We also put Stella’s festival hat on her…


For the rest of the day we headed to the beach which was blowing a gale, ate some lunch, visited friends and then headed home.

In conclusion, everything we brought worked, we didn’t miss anything out and the most valuable asset was grandparents!

Below is what I usually take when I go away for a night in the van..


This is what we took for one night away with Stella…


Roll on bugjam, we’re ready !!!

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And we’re off!

So the time of year has come for one of our two yearly birthday trips, usually this trip in March to celebrate my birthday will involve a drive far north of the M25 in search of mountains to climb, trails to ride and paths to walk in generally the worst of the British weather.

This year however we’re heading south, Lolly is 32 weeks pregnant and wasn’t massively up for mountains or mountain bikes so we’ve jumped on a ferry to the Isle of Wight to stay at a campsite right by the beach and enjoy some easy going walks around the countryside, as I write there are patches of blue sky and the sun is doing it’s very best to shine.

Unlike all our previous trips there is an air of calm prior to our departure even though we are running 20 mins late, I think I’ve finally realised that getting annoyed isn’t going to change the fact that we are late, if anything it’s a hindrance and just makes things misearable all round.

Whilst I was fairly confident we would miss the ferry we made it by the skin of our teeth and are now on our way across the channel to the island, just before we boarded a ferry I got a quick snap of the bus. 


Once on the ferry a quick selfie to mark the start of our trip!


Being a naval port there are lots of ships about that can blow stuff up like this one. 

Once we land we’ll be off to check into Grange Farm and then head out for a walk, might have a cup of tea too. 

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A trip down to Weymouth

The beginning of July is our wedding anniversary and due to a slight oversight by myself I spent the majority of it on a flight back from Moscow, I got to spend a couple of hours with Lolly on our actual anniversary and arranged to head out in the van and go somewhere for the weekend together to celebrate properly..

Our destination was Rosewall campsite in Weymouth, google said it would take us about 2.5 hours which I think is just far enough to drive for a weekend trip, we decided to take the A3 and then the A31, two roads I never wish to see again.

The first issue arose getting from ours to the A3, there is a route that Lolly’s dad takes that both of us are convinced we know, we don’t and had agreed not to try taking it, before we knew it we were trying to work out the route, we failed miserably and it took an age to get to the A3, one unimpressed wife, especially as the sun was blazing and we were stuck in a van.

The A31 wasn’t much better, there was traffic leading up to the A31 on the A3, for a while we were belting along before we hit the first roundabout, one of many all of which came with a queue to reach them, progress was slow, really slow, it was so bad we pulled off the A31 around the new forest area into a little pub for lunch, annoyingly I can’t remember the name of the pub which is a real shame as the food was excellent and I recommend a visit, if I remember I will update the post.

After eating we carried on to Weymouth in rubbish traffic and reached our destination just before Lolly was about to explode, she also made me promise no more weekend excursions more than an hours drive.

We booked in, found ourselves a spot with a nice view looking out to sea, grabbed the bikes and headed off for a ride, we made our way to the coastal path and it became clear very quickly that it was completely unsuitable for bikes, we headed back to the van, dropped the bikes off and went back the way we came on foot.

We followed the path down to the beach, the beach was a large pebble / stone beach with boulders thrown in for good measure. In Ibiza, along the shoreline, especially where there are rocks people build little stone towers, seems they do the same here so we decided to make a couple of our own.

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We spent a couple of hours clambering about the rocks, watching these weird things hop about out of the sea, they looked like wood louse and shrimps but weren’t either, very strange! We then followed the path up past the pub which gave us lovely views out over the bay. As the sun started to set we made our way back as cooking in the dark is always a bit of a challenge, we swerved into a pub just by the beach called the smugglers inn, we had a drink, contemplated eating as the food looked awesome but stuck with our plan and walked back to the van to cook some chicken on the cob.

Back at the van we got our chicken on the go, made some drinks and settled in for the evening, about 15 mins into cooking the heavens opened, prior to the rain there were loads of fire baskets alight outside campers tents or vans, they went out pretty quickly! Having a lid means you can leave the cobb doing it’s thing in the rain which to be fair stopped after 20 mins or so. Following the rain was a quite spectacular electrical storm, we sat up for about an hour after we ate watching the lightshow before turning in for the night, dinner was lovely, Harissa chicken with avocado salad and cous cous.

Next morning was a bit of grey damp affair but in no time at all the sun came up, perfect for a picture of camp mashley!

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Rosewall campsite is a bit like wild camping in the sense there are no pitches, you just find a spot and that’s you for your stay, there is a shop that sells all sorts of things, milk, biscuits, bbq food, camping supplies and local beer! The toilet and shower blocks are well maintained as are the washing up areas. There are two blocks, one at the top of the hill near the shop and one at the bottom. The bottom of the hill is flatter but at the expense of the view, we found a flat spot at the top of the campsite with a really nice view out to sea.

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We drank plenty of tea and got some breakfast down us whilst the campsite started to fill up. Our plan was to grab the bikes, head for a ride to Weymouth and possibly on to Portland, a small tied island which is the southern most tip of Dorset.

The ride into Weymouth took about 15 minutes and our first stop was the beach, we arrived just in time for a punch and judy show which is not something I woud bother with but Lolly wanted to watch it, while I went to get a couple of beers, Lolly found us a spot and put a couple of quid in the donations box.

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I’ve got to admit, the show was really funny, it’s main content was for children but there was quite a lot of stuff that was clearly for adults without being risque or offensive for the kids, i’m glad we stopped to watch it. From here we rode to the harbour, all around there are little coffee shops, restaurants and kids with their parents on the harbour wall fishing for crabs, they caught plenty!

You can see the beach and some of the harbour behind us in the picture below

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Just up from where this photo was taken is Nothe park and fort, we stopped for a delicious sandwich and then pressed on.

We followed the coastal path which for most of the way hugs the coastline but deviates between that and residential areas, this is where we came across Sandsfoot castle, a ruined castle set in a little landscaped park that sells amongst other things very nice ice cream which of course tried!

It had taken us about 2 hours to get this far as we kept stopping to look at things or eat, we were less than halfway to our destination, I knew we had a way to go and wasn’t looking forward to the ride back and in my usual style got a bit grumpy.

Next stop was Chesil Beach, we locked up the bikes and walked up the pebble dune to see what was on the other side, ferocious sea and wind with some nutters in a tent was what was on the other side! I think we lasted about a minute at best before we decided being blown to pieces wasn’t that attractive and headed back to the bikes.

At this point I really didn’t want to carry on and just wanted to turn back, i’d had enough riding bikes and we had a long ride home but Lolly really wanted to reach the island, reluctantly I agreed and we cycled over, when we arrived we cycled through a kind of marine industrial estate, past that we followed the path to a dead end, turning round we found a little pebble launch called scimitar wharf  which it turns out is owned by Scimitar diving, we both had a drink each so we sat down, drank our drinks and then started the journey back.

The ride back wasn’t as bad as I thought apart from the hill near where we were staying, it took about 80 mins and below is the strava output from the return leg.

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I didn’t realise we rode that far, a 20.6 mile round trip!

Back at the van we made ourselves a drink each, got the cobb on the go and cooked up some peri peri chicken with the rest of the salad from the night before, we were pretty shattered so put the latest episode of Penny Dreadful on and settled down for the night.

We had planned to get up early on Sunday, dodge the traffic and be home before the afternoon, we woke up about 10 am so failed massively on that front, I packed up the van, we showered and then went for breakfast which was lovely, then began the journey home which wasn’t that bad this time around.

There is so much more to Weymouth than we thought and we’ll be heading back there again, just not exactly sure when, if you are heading that way then I really would recommend the Rosewall campsite.

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Back in the U.S.S.R or Moscow to be precise..

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Every now and again I am sent to do some IT work in one of our rep offices, i’ve been to Milan, Paris, Dubai, Cairo and the slightly less glamorous Aberdeen.

My favourite and by far the most interesting to me is Moscow, they fly me here, i’m not expected to drive the van!

Last time I came here it was -35, cold even for an Englishman, it was the start of the Socchi olympics and the normally unimpressed looking Russians were smiling, i think they are unimpressed at this time of year because it’s bloody cold, even so, it’s a magical time to visit, most lakes freeze over and become ice rinks, the river which is easily as wide as the river thames also freezes over but I never saw anybody skating on it, there is snow everywhere and the parks are lit up with fairy lights, it’s like christmas everyday!

Because it was so cold last time around the only tourist thing I did was take a trip on the metro to photograph some of the ornate stations, it’s warm down there! I also took a wander round Red Square as it was within walking distance to where I was staying, you can find those pictures on my flickr site here.

This time I arrived when the temperature was quite literally at the opposite end of the scale, it was +35 when I landed, nice. As it’s a business trip I am usually picked up by the driver from the office but due to some bad communication he wasn’t coming to get me, I would have to get a taxi, I was concerned I would get ripped off but was assured if I picked up a taxi from inside the terminal I would be fine, I did exactly that and still got ripped off to the point where the hotel told me not to pay, called the police, hid me in a room and told me not to come out till it was all over, that put a stop to any first night excursions although it meant my taxi ride was free. Turns out the taxi driver wasn’t licensed and made up the fares as he went along, they were also all in Russian so his argument that I had agreed the fare was flawed as I don’t speak or read Russian and he didn’t speak English.

The following day was a day in the office, a late finish, dinner and bed, not very exciting, however, the method in my madness was to get as much done as I could on one night so I could head out a bit early the following day and explore.

Next day the sun was shining, I didn’t want to do anything indoors,I wanted to make the most of some good weather, I braved the metro (it’s easy to get lost as there is nothing in English and Cyrillic makes no sense to me) and headed off to Gorky Park.

Over the road from Gorky park is another park called (by westeners) Fallen Monument Park. When the soviet union collapased, many of the old statues that represented the union were removed and some have made their way to the park.

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Each statue or monument has a little info board telling you what it is, some are quite obvious if you know your history.

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The monuments evoke a very cold war / iron curtain feel, I think they are awesome!

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From there I wandered to the river to take a picture of a quite massive monument!

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This is Peter The Great, a 98 metre high monument erected in 1997 to commemorate 300 years of the Russian navy which he founded, it’s an impressive thing, you can read more about it here

You can walk along the waterfront, under the bridge and make your way into Gorky park, the route is fairly busy with couples strolling hand in hand, cyclists belting along or towing people on skateboards,lots of rollerbladers, you can hire a bike if you want or just amble along on foot like me.

Gorky park is an incredible space, within the park there is so much going on, yoga classes with at least twenty or so people stretching in unison, table tennis, beach volleyball on sand, Russian dancing, kids running through fountains.

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There are restaurants and cafe’s dotted about the place, a boating lake with pedalos, massive bean bags to relax on, group running, I could go on, the most striking thing to me was the sound, a mixture of music and laughter which is a lovely thing to hear.

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There are at least 3 different fountains, one that does a show to classical music, all around there are brightly coloured flowers symmetrically arranged, if i’m honest I was pretty blown away, the only thing it didn’t have was Lolly, she was back at home and I know she would have loved walking round the parks.

I took loads of pictures which as I write I still have to edit, I think I spent about 4 hours wandering round both parks and only decided to go home as the sun was going down, maybe I should have stayed and got some night shots, in fact I wish I had.

I hope I get to come here again and if I do, I will come in Summer again, Moscow is a great place to visit, one for the bucket list…

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