STATISTICS AND BEST BITS

Purple icon denotes sleepyspots (even though one is missing in between Belgium and Italy) for Spring2019: See complete main map in menu

Miles driven 3889

A much more expensive adventure.. More spent on campsites than on any other trip and finding Aire de camping sites payable as we have been travelling in season .. €190 for four nights in a hostel boat park on Lake Garda .. with poor leccy and WiFi ..In retrospect and knowing the area now we would have parked up in the derelict Aire and winged the loo dumping .. I still think we could have got away with using the hostel for our washing but hey ho it’s only Euros ..

We normally run on €45 per day but have found diesel a lot more expensive as well..with the cheapest in Andorra at€1.066 and the most €1.48 in France

Best bits!

For the third time in the last five years it has to be Venice

Best beach!

St Marc sur Mer

Best sleepy spot !

Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile

Best food!

In Hetty curtesy of The Cook and Lidl’s own sausage stuffed cannelloni lasagne

Most interesting journey!

Up the pass in Andorra

Worst bit!

The disappointment of not getting to bathe in the hot springs at Saturna and the awful roads there after !

So that’s it for this adventure ..

MADE IT HOME !

•PARISH NOTES

All photos on this trip have come from IPhone camera as my big one is just to heavy

Days 44 / 45

May 21st / 22nd

Weather fabulous

•A note on insurance

The reason we could only have 45 days adventure is a clause in both our house and health insurance.. only 45 days BUT if ..as we have done in the past.. fly back for a couple of days we can have another 45 days .. We did this a couple of years back leaving Hetty in Gozo and flying home from Malta .. That was for the health insurance we didn’t know the building insurance had the same problem. Seemingly even if you have someone popping in every day it would be null and void ..Thank goodness the house didn’t burn down ..

THE PENULTIMATE POST

Over night in Cherbourg

GPS 49.643067. -1.617709

Packed aire 2 mins drive from the ferry.. Hetty grabbed the last place

Not a good nights sleep why we don’t know ..up at 4am for our 8-45 crossing

Day dawned calm with the sea like a mill pond .. The ferry was an extra one due to Brexit or non Brexit ..which ever…and it was empty .. more staff than passengers.. No queue for breakfast..

The sailing was on a flat sea arriving in Poole at 12-30 with the sun beating down .. Studland bSandbanks and the harbour looking the best I’ve ever seen em..

Me n him looking smug ..

I’ve had a couple of nasty yachting incidents down there with too much wind and failed gear .. again 100% survival rate ..

A long drive home with a decision to call and see our chums in Hagley West Midlands arrangement made by phone only to be told as we arrived Toby had to go to hospital to be sorted out and wouldn’t be home .. Look in search4sites finding a Black Country pub in Claverley.. The Plough free parking whether you eat in the pub or not We did as it was their Fish n Chip night and highly recommended ..and amazing sky’s

Sun bow !!!

GPS 52.537562 -2.304889

Arrived home midday .. all was well 😎

Clematis doing well at home

My last post will be the cost and stats of this adventure ..Not the cheapest we’ve done (too much wineing and dineing ) but a good one !!

LAST GASP ….

Days 42/43

May 19Th / 20th

Weather indifferent..

After a pleasing stay of two days in Tregastel with a smattering of sun it’s was time to wander the Brittany coast ..Passing St Malo by as we’ve been many times and don’t fancy the crowds ..Looking out for the cosy little harbours the Cook sailed into in a past life Lézardrieux being one .. only stopping for lunch on the massive and fabulous beach of Frèhal

After lunch on to our next over night stop … with Oysters brown bread and a glass of Muscadet… He has Fish soup with croutons and a CUP ? of the regions driest cidre .. back to Hetty for a trying game of Rumicub .. Didn’t run The Cooks way unfortunately..

GPS for last nights sleepy spot

48.602963 -1.771623 am aire €12-50 with all services including leccy … bit expensive but served the purpose…

Onwards ever onwards towards Cherbourg .. past Mont St Michel

and into and out of Cherbourg as The Cook wanted to go to a place on the headland over looking Alderney where she nearly came a cropper .. The Alderney race is a powerful water current running from the Cherbourg peninsula past Alderney a southerly direction ..or northerly depending on the tidal flow .. get it wrong and one could end up in difficulties.. As did the cook and crew .. 1975 ..No wind under engine going into Cherbourg.. Engine failed ..tidal flow changed .. going backwards at a great rate of knots .. till another kindly yacht threw a line towing Cooks boat into Goury .. scraping the keel on the rocks as she went

Goury harbour and the rocks

.. all was well .. Engine mended and off back across the channel to Portsmouth andHardway SC where the boat was moored

Todays flora ..

Now we are back in Cherbourg .. in a free campervan carpark next to the ferry terminal for tomorrow’s crossing to Poole

HETTY WENDS HER WAY NORTH

Days 39 and 40

May 16th and 17th

Sleepy spot

St Marc Sur Mer

47.238 -2.30096

“Parish notes”

I add the GPS for fellow travellers and for my self to upgrade our sleepy spot map on my puter when I get home

Day 39

Another long drive to Concarneau.. We’ve been before but only remember it being cold n wet ..We found the aire de camping car .. massive carpark .. It has to be for all the camper vans which are growing in size every year now the normal is 21 foot some bigger at 27 feet .. Hetty get lost amongst them as she is only 15 feet long .. Quick search for Hetty .. ahh there she is ..hiding amongst her big brothers .

A walk into Concarneau.. down to the town and the Old Quarter .A sheltered harbour brings in 200.000 tons of tuna from the waters off Africa . Weathers cloudy and humid but I bet we’ve got a bit more sun on our face tan today …Feeling glowy ..

Jutting out into the harbour is the old village dating back to the 14th century ..On an island with the quaintest shops and bars .. all very touristy .. even a Breton band playing .. but .. playing Danny Boy .. not even singing in Gaelic but in English .. sighs .. no soul these places .. we’ve moved on now to another camping place .. much quieter and a beach 2 mins away at….

Mousterlin, Fouesnant,

Last nights sleepy spot

(47.8513434, -4.0462890)

Two boggy fields which should be avoided in the rain but dry for us and free ..

A walk was called for early morning .. still over cast but refreshing

“AN INCIDENT “

We were shouted at on the road to this place as we tried to go up a road that said NO .. we do this kind of thing but this time we didn’t get away with it and we’re yelled at in French by a chap driving an equivalent width vehicle A Porsche 4 wheeled Chelsea tractor .. we didn’t understand stand so he yelled louder … After some manoeuvres requiring the cook to stand in the road directing traffic and yelling back at said French person The four point turn was a success and a turn around and off on the correct route

Yet another long drive up to the Rose Coast ..Brittany at its best.. We found an Aire de camping car in the village of Tregastel €8-50 a night (see photos) another walk around the bay….Flowers everywhere and a bit of sun

TREGASTEL

Now back in Hetty with a beer waiting for supper of bacon eggs and sausage curtesy of The Driver whilst I complete another post .. it’s my post cards home for any of you who choose to read em xxxx

LOVING FRANCE

Day 37

15th May

Weather lovely and sunny

Tonight sleepy spot

GPS 47.237542 -2.300750

Parking des Jaunais St Nazaire

The Drivers blog …Edited by The Cook

After a stroll around the German fortifications on the headland within the camp site,

German in placements

which appear to have been the location of a radar installation. This had assisted the defence of the German submarine pens at St Nazaire…

We strolled into town for lunch viewing some large stink boats on the hard for polishing and anti fouling.

Perusing several menus in the beach bars until we found Moules Marinair and Frites ..Picking a table only to be told it was reserved …slightly disappointed we where then seated away from the view ..But… The Cook could ogle all they dishes and puddings passing by.

We chose to share a starter of assorted pate…cheese ..Jambon on a breadstick skewer and a salmon mayonnaise pate with copious baguette pieces

Half eaten starter

Followed by probably the best Moules for ages( we had been informed slightly apologetically that the moules where Irish as the local ones where now out of season(no R in the month …perhaps in Gaelic May has an R in it)). We chose a carafe of white to accompany the meal which was very palatable and rolled back to Hetty with a smile on our faces and a slight wobble in our walk

Setting out the chairs we sat and read until the sun started to set . No evening meal was required.

This morning we tidied up Payed up and headed Hetty towards St Nazaire and an aire from Jason&Julies map. On crossing the very fine bridge the Uboat base could just be seen. …At lunch time we managed to find one of the last pitches at this free aire and had lunch… We decided to stay set Hetty on wedges to level… fitted the silver screens to keep her cool and headed for the beach with sun lotion…water ..books and chairs

…The beach is lovely and I was slightly tempted to swim but a brief paddle soon changed my mind cold Brrr. ..It’s a grand spot to stay but the aire has only space for about 14 vans. Supper was an early event taken before we fried on the beach the weather is top class ..25c or more .. just fabulous

ALL’S WELL WITH THE WORLD

Day 36

12th May

Last nights sleepy spot

St Trojan les Bains

GPS 45.840950 -1.205173

See blue spot

Slept like a log untill cramp in the leg attacked The Cook .. She dived out of bed so fast squealing like a stuck pig the neighbouring vans must have though there was hot stuff going on .. Her leg ache today so a quiet day is called for .. not to long a drive .. We did try to find a parking spot in La Rochelle to no avail as the place was full …Off we went only about 100 miles North up the coast through the most gorgeous villages and country side .. none of the massive MWay drives .. just lovely …

A wonderful day of sunshine arriving at our destination Les Sablons at lunchtime with lunch in the sun .. lots of French people here collecting mussels and oysters from the shore ..buckets of em .. perhaps tomorrow morning we will do similar for our lunch ..

The rest of the day was spent reading in the sun

Supper of Singapore noodle curtesy of The Cook and a pre cook chicken

Suns down and it very quiet just two French campervans with us .. one a fisherman and wife .. blue dot on map is our sleepy spot for tonight

YET ANOTHER ROAD TRIP

Day 33

10th May

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

TOBY TAYLOR

Weather mixed bordering on over cast

WHAT A LONG DRIVE

Last nights sleepy spot

Arcachon 44.651533. -1.48300

Arcachon aire on main road

Not one of our best sleeps ..on a main road with bin men on the move all night but it’s next to Lidl and the Aire has facilities ..

Morning came at last …What to do on a sleepless night but read ..More Book reviews later

A short drive HE said.. and we found another parking spot

Aire De camping in the Pines

An official aire overlooking the sea in a pine wood .. No facilities but use the town one to dump and come up here.. No big vans 7 meters and under ..Its much more preferable but hey ho you win some you loose some ..

The new GPS for Arcachon beach

44.649042. -1.196249

Wish we’d found this lovely peaceful location last night. A walk he said as a Red Squirrel bounded off to the sea ..

GIRONNE WINE TRAIL Avoiding Bordeaux we again drove for miles and miles up the coast then inland on the MWay .. then off into the rural wine growing villages and on to the coast again Found the parking spot was a pay for so off again down the road to a carpark with a sea view and free to stay ..Always go to the local shop for bread or even eat their Plate de Jour in the local hostelry as long as we get it for under €12 per head Sort of saying thanx for our free night in your carpark

BARZAN PLAGE

(45.5280043, -0.8838519)

Yes it look grey and dismal but we’ve cracked open the beer and all is well Frey Bentos for supper with mash .. Yum Yum

ALWAYS CLIMB A DUNE THE HARD WAY

Day 32

May 9th

Weather some cloud some rain some sun!

Last nights sleepy spot

(43.3210624, -0.7609310)

NAVARRENX

After a long drive supper in the local restaurant.. no cooking.. To tired We’ve been here before Taverna St Jacque .. lovely food but expensive …

Off this morning to the highest Sand Dune in Europe

Now that’s a climb and we didn’t do it the easy way Oh No .. Straight up not the staircase .. One foot forwards and two back .. Very soft sand and shoeless . I made it after lots of stops …The Driver was patience personified having to wait for me every few feet but I made it to the top 🤪

We are now on an aire in Arcachon and had the thought of going to Bourdeaux but can’t find any decent parking for Hetty so keeping to the coast for our next stop

The Driver love watching other people park their Motorhomes and has written a little aside for you

The Dance of the Motorhome’s

“By the Driver”

I have been observing the antics of some Motorhome’s in this trip and it has not failed to amuse me.

1 . Motorhome turns up picks a spot

2 . Levellers used to keep beer/wine from spilling

3. Satellite dish deployed scanning for a signal(wir wir wir)

4. No signal so Motorhome drives to another location with wife holding wine/beer glasses

5. Attempt to get a signal on satdish after levelling again

6 Repeat from item 4 until a satdish lock is achieved or until run out of locations to park.

These antics become even more fun an a camp site as the owner or wife have to go to the office for another pitch and even more fun if the Motorhome is huge.

SIGNAGE GOBBLEDEGOOK

Over the pass into France from Andorra ? NO … A climb to the top of the pass in the snow with road signs saying something in Spanish…. GOBBLEDYGOOK .. Google translate couldn’t work it out .. We couldn’t work it out .. Chap on the top says French haven’t dug the roads out on the other side of the pass .. Sign said “No way through ”

Ok .. So we will come back down in second gear .. All the way back into Spain 🇪🇸

Red dot 🔴 From Gavà to Montserrat

Black Madonna of Montserrat

and on to Andorra and back again to France around the Pyrenees not over em 😡

We found a sleepy spot in a town called Monzon and from there set off again for France .. More up and up into the Pyrenees and weather .. Tunnels and weather

A two mile tunnel and then the Somport Tunnel 5.3 miles long at 5300 ft above sea level

The weather then took on a lot of unpleasantness ….It poured and lightened and thundered .. The rivers were full and boiling but Hetty kept on keeping on .. low gears all the way down to our next stop of Navarrenx.. We were here in September and found a smashing little restaurant …so that’s what we intend to do and tomorrow off to a place just south of Bordeaux for our journey up the French coast

We haven’t booked our return ferry as yet just looked at them ….

HETTY IS OVER THE HUMP!..23 days in and 22 to go …

We hit the middle of our travels and are now on our way home ..Tonight we head north on a ferry from Civitavecchia Italy to Barcelona Spain ..wending our way through Spain and France for the next 22 days ..

Here in Italy it’s gone from Mozies in Wellies and BIG coats to glorious sunshine and we’re having a day off from wandering ..Reading in the sun in yet another camper stop over by a beach north of Rome

BLUE SKIES NOTHING BUT BLUE SKIES

As you know I read and read and here’s my reading list so far this trip

A A Dhand A trilogy of crime in Bradford featuring Harry Virdee

These have featured the Bradford-based police detective Harry Virdee, a progressive British Sikh who struggles with his cultural identity and family loyalties. Race, violence and exploitation are on the agenda in the Virdee novels, and Dhand has not shied away from controversial issues of tension between British Asian communities and the controversy over such issues as the ‘grooming‘ of vulnerable females by organised gangs of men. Dhand is fairly unique as he sets his protagonists (who are shaped by Asian culture) in a British setting.

A A Dhand book in order ..

Excellent reads

VOX by Christina Dalcher

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial–this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her. This is just the beginning. Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard. But this is not the end. For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.Thought provoking

On a lighter note

Vince and Joy by Lisa Jewell

Vince and Joy is the fifth novel written by Lisa Jewell and published in 2005.[1] Like, her previous books, it focuses on the trials and tribulations of relationships.

NO WAY OUT by Cara Hunter

Book 3 in the DI Fowler collection ..all very good reads

THE SECOND CHILD by Caraline Bond….read the reviews .. Just suppose someone swapped your new born for another child

THE MAKING OF US By Lisa Jewel … as you can gather I love this authorRead review

Last but not least

YOU LET ME IN by Lucy Clarke

Elle Fielding has taken the literary world by storm, with her first book hitting the bestsellers lists and making big money. But now she’s under pressure from her publisher to produce a follow-up that’s just as compelling.

I couldn’t put it down .. many a twist

I read a book by FERN BRITTON so poor I can’t remember the title ..but cannot recommend it as it bored me I don’t do Chic Lit

So what next perhaps MAD BLOOD STIRRING by Simon Mayo … the DJ from BBC radio 2 now gone to Scala Radio

DISCO NIGHT FOR HETTY

Day 22

28th April

GPS 42.439178 11.220443

ORBETELLO

WEATHER WARM

Spotify link to Hettys Disco have a listen it’s fun

HETTY HYMERS DISCO NIGHT

We’re having our first Hetty Disco night with a collection of grand tunes from Spotify not having any or much in the way of Media .. Tunes downloaded to IPhone and the use of a blue tooth speaker is all we need .. mostly The Cooks many playlists is our supper entertainment.. The Driver hates her singing but undeterred a tune even if unrecognisable is rendered

Another form of entertainment is RUMIKUB A game of numbers on tiles ..the object is to use all your tiles and chip first The Cook is very competitive and some times wins …not often just sometimes…

I have added a photo to explain the sausage installation for readers who don’t know the context of “Like San Gimigimano”..well it amuses me

Day 23

29th April

Weather mixed

What shall we do today ..After leaving Orbetello and crossing the causeway to .. We think it’s still Orbetello and has three ways to cross ..very much a holiday destination but as of now all shut up waiting for the season except Porto Santo Stefano which was again rammed with cars .. not a parking place to be seen so we kept on driving ..off the island down the coast to another free to park place 1 min walk from a beach town …

Montalto Marina

GPS 42.321633 11.589109

All again shut .. The volcanic black sand being cleaned by tractors of the flotsam washed up by the last storm ⛈ That’s about it really for today ..Tomorrow on our way south nearer to Civitavecchia for our ferry to Barcelona on 1st May

BLOCKED IN BY THE MARKET TRADERS

Day 20 ish

27th April

Blog by The Driver

Tonight’s sleepy spot at over 2000ft

PIANCASTAGNAIO

GPS 42.8516 11.687295

What a find as we trundled down the road to the west.. Spied 3 campervans in a carpark ..FREE with leccy water and dump for the loo We parked here knowing it was market day tomorrow. The Cook thought we could still get out in the morning but The Driver reckoned we wouldn’t get out till about 3 he was right. No problem as we had a lay in with leisurely breakfast …a stroll around the market which was quite small but the stalls where like tardis’s folding out like giant umbrellas from their roofs.

A leisurely lunch was then taken and a decision to try a visit to Saturnia.

Photos show Top left …Road travelled .. Top Right..Saturnia pools one close one at a distance and Spot Hetty in amongst the market traders …Bottom right

We took the direct route up hill lots of up then across the valley bottom and up again very up it was indeed then we ran out of tarmac lots of sections of the road where missing then back to nice tarmac then more missing roads this was mainly at bends interesting but Hetty coped admirably her off road skill no problem with lots of hilltop villages to ooooh and ahhh at.. Tuscany at her best .. On arrival at Saturni the attempted car park had a height barrier so an interesting 3 point turn with unclad mineral water bathers everywhere …Some in trunks …some with dressing gowns and some in powered wheelchairs.

Safely negotiating an exit we then drove for miles with abandoned Italian cars on the roadside and decided to head towards the coast and find a car park by a coop store for the night .. we don’t know whether we’ll get thrown off but we’ll wait for the Italian Holiday weekend to end then locate a beach spot on Sunday night.

HETTY CLIMBS TO 3000ft

GPS for Fattoria la Vialla (43.5289512, 11.7801235)

GPS for farm @ Anghiria camp site

A two day blog

Days 18 and 19

Weather mixed .. lots of rain and sun 🌞

After our indulgence at La Vialla it was a quiet day for The Cook who was surprisingly well after the over imbibing the previous afternoon ..The journey was more up n up which Hetty took in her stride 3000ft and not a complaint.. over the mountain to Anghiari

We haven’t as yet learned how to pronounce this towns name but it’s lovely (see photo)

We managed to get the last place on a farm site ..not on the main camp site but in the farm yard with perfectly new modern showers .. leccy . Water and cats to play with..

A walk up the hill to the town to find it’s rammed with Italians ..It’s a bank holiday commemorating the liberation after WW2 and the people will take a long weekend making our journey onwards a little less than easy … all the campsites Sosta’s and carpark are full … We tried for the hot spring baths in Cortona a hill town .. it’s full then on to San Quirico d’Orcia ..That’s full so we wandered looking for some where to stay up n up on back road over 90 miles of up .. on mountain roads all very lovely as is the Tuscan country side

Down a hill on a road that’s says it closed we found a gem of a carpark .. free parking free leccy free water and a dump for the loo The town is called PIANCASTAGNAIO

GPS 42.851809 11.687551

Tomorrow is the market so we’ll have a look and report back

THE COOK IS BROKEN !!

Day ?

24th April

Weather fabulous

Last nights carpark sleepy spot

GPS 43.531324, 11.761818

After breakfast of croissant 🥐 bought at the local bakery in a different car park in Castiglion Fibocchi we drove to Fattoria La Viella. Only 5 minutes away and the sun is shining 😎

A stroll around the vineyard.. wine cellars ..olive oil press and store with Francesca our English speaking tour guide dressed in her white apron

. After the tour and a small sampling of new wines we wandered up the hill and sat in front of the farmhouse in the sun taking in the view.

The Cook realised they she had left her camera ..fan and insect repellent behind

The driver was dispatched down the hill to retrieve the forgotten items(The canny bugger flagged down a golf buggy used for deliveries to the carpark to save his legs) and was awarded with a kiss of approval for his fast return.

Vialla then displayed lots of lovely starters and six or seven wines to sample with them . HIC ..Approximately half an hour later we where called to the dinner table and served a four course lunch with a different wine for each course…The Vialla team replaced any empty bottles with new ..After deserts Grappa was served.HIC A small group remained to chat and finish any wine bottles remaining ..eventually only six people where left chattering away until we where asked to clear the table as the Vialla team wanted to set up for the evening meal.

We all meandered down the hill calling at the shop to purchase wines we enjoyed then back to Hetty where The Cook had to be helped to an early bed definitely worse for wear.😱😫🤢

THE COOK NEEDS SLEEP

Day 15

22nd April

Weather over cast

Last nights sleepy spot

Castel dell’Alpi

GPS (44.1844438, 11.2737516)

Last night sleep was sporadic..I suppose when bedding down at a bus terminal and the village recycling centre disturbed sleep would be the norm but the bin men came at 1-25 am ..even in Italy that’s a tad early or late .. which ever suits you .. The Cook was in bed my 9pm and wide awake again at 1am till 4-30am .. 🦉 Owls cracking off all night and The Driver snoring 💤 but a book read .. Need to do a post on books read

Morning didn’t come too early as HE let The Cook sleep in .. Skipped breakfast and off over the mountains .. Narrow roads badly maintained up n up to 3000 ft ..Ahhh Tuscan hills ..Flower meadows.. Wisteria growing wild .. Banks of blue Iris .. Purple Jacaranda trees all as nature intended uncultivated .. 75 mile of these roads with motor cyclists trying to kill them selves .. cyclists puffing and panting up the hills practicing for The Giro Italia

Now day 16

23rd April

St George’s Day

Last nights sleepy spot and another carpark

43.528846 11.5332577

Castiglion Fibocchi We find a carpark by chance near the old town .. searched the car park for a “Thou shalt not park here “ sign .. nothing .. no cash cows with parking tickets all ok till this woman with a face like a slapped arse stomp across the carpark muttering in Italian .. Got into her car parked next to us and drives it 10 yards away .. WHAT !!!! Did she think we were vagabonds or tinkers (I’ve met some very nice tinkers when I lived on the Surrey border )What a way to treat visitors to your village ..The Cook has taken offence and she know where the woman lives ..Cackles wickedly

Poured down all night and after a quick stroll to the bread shop .. Taking a couple of snaps of the village (see photo ) we are off to a countryside beauty (in the rain) spot by the River Arno

HETTY CLIMBS TO 2000FT

Day 14

21st April

Altitude 2100 ft above sea level

We managed a decent nights sleep after moving to the carpark nearer to the town of Calpi .. The Cook was bitten by a bug ..one antihistamine and a glass of wine with the curry..Slow cooked the day previously put her to sleep without too much fuss

The Weather is warm but overcast

Castell Dell’Alpi is our next port of call..

GPS 44.183951 11.274027

A car park with bins as the one we wanted was closed due to building work

Up in the Tuscan hills .. Up is the under statement as we climbed up n up n up giving Hetty a work out .. Alpine is the consensus of opinion as we look for the ski lift .. Yes so far up .. All flora and fauna .. primroses .. wild orchids .. wild anemone are in banks on the road side

My reasoning behind putting all photos in a collage is the data use .. one photo not much data 9 photos could wipe out any future blogging ..

Villages with farm conversions tastefully done .. Some ones summer residence

As per normal the Italian drivers are trying to kill them selves ..Horns R US.. Overtaking on blind bends seem to be ok ..we survived our 70mile drive into the country side north of Florence to a place on a lake ..a tiny village and a motorbike stopping off spot for the riders .. A boom box is thudding sounds out down by the river with more young ens arriving all the time ..possibility of a rave.. after all its Easter Sunday

Do we stay or move on to a quieter sleepy spot

HETTY HAS BEEN VIOLATED

Day 14 we think

20th April

Weather glorious

Today town is CARPI

GPS for new sleepy spot

44.781598 10.877655

A pretty town but the motor homing stop over leaves a lot to be desired ..It stinks ..Pooh…yuck ..I said let’s move on he said “where too” So instead of making a move we went for a walk to think about it .. Into town 2.50 miles there and back only to find there had been an attempted burglary and Hetty has repelled boarders .. The window has been Jemmied (Jemmy is a great word for a crooks activities ) The burglar alarm scuppered the scrotes chances of getting any plunder.. We knew they hadn’t got in because my very expensive big camera wasn’t in the safe and it was still under my seat ..It’s the broken window catch The Drivers cussing about as replacements are few and far between because Hetty is a Classic Hymer and 25 years old (we’ve owned her since she was a baby … only 3 years old !

We’ve moved now to a spot nearer town ..Lots of vans here and we feel less insecure

By the way

Town nice

Church big

Square interesting see photo

HETTY GOES TO MONTAGNANA

19Th April

Day 12 ..We think .. Seems we’ve been away for a long time

Weather fabulous

GPS for sleepyspot

45.237097 11.464386

MONTAGNANA ?

Where’s that you ask .. put a pin in a map and this very pretty Medieval walled town came up with free parking and an added bonus of FREE leccy ..For tomorrow’s supper it’s slow cooker on and a home made chicken curry

Montagnana is south ..It’s 60km from San Guiliano our chosen Venetian camp site and there is a Lidl within spitting distance for fresh croissants in the morning

Montagnana ..Walled town in Puglia

The Cooks thinks her feet have had it .. turned up their toes .. Death in Venice .. poor feet 🦶 but The Driver still insisted putting a good foot forward and dragging The Cook out for her evening constitutional .. A walk says he .. A very short one says She…Only two miles with lots of moaning and groaning ..The Cook says she’s been broken..it’s a lovely warm evening with pasta for supper

Conti is our next stop on our way south to Tuscany

LAST DAY IN VENICE

Day 11

18th April

Miles walked in 3 days 16.5 miles

GPS same as before

Weather glorious

Venice seems one of the safest cities we have been to .. no hassle .. calm .. not a hint of bother but wandering into Cannaregio area and in particular Ghetto Nuove The Jewish enclave of Venice we came upon armed soldiers with a bullet proof shelter ..Why we don’t know We’re they expecting trouble or is it to keep the peace .. Seemingly this area’s bridges are closed at night keeping the area closed off .. We moved on with a feeling of unease.. The word Ghetto History of the Jews in Venice originated from Venice as it was Giti the word for metal working in this area of Cannaregio where the powers that be insisted the Jews live .. so making it the oldest Ghetto in the world

Today mission was to see the Doge’s Palace ..

Doge’s Palace

Prebooked tickets purchased ..A walk to the bus ..a ferry ride to St Marks and straight in to the Palace bypassing all the queues .. spot on .. Another entrance fee to see the Canaletto Collection but worth every penny ..we were both fascinated by the detail of His Venice back in 1700’s and not a lot has changed .. Magical to see without the masses as we were there so early the crowds were still having breakfast in their hotels

On to the State rooms .. just gold on gold on more gold .. Next off to the dungeons and across the Bridge of Sighs ..

View from inside the bridge

Down 3 flights of stairs with dungeons on every level top level had full height doors the lower ones had doors more suited to large dogs.

No sign of any toilet facilities , and what seemed like an exercise yard. Then back up the stairs through the bridge of Sighs which seems to have been constructed two way to prevent the mingling of prisoners.

Thanx go to Pete Turpie for his addendum to My Venice

Time for a bit if Byron….

I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs,

A palace and a prison on each hand:

I saw from out the wave her structures rise

As from the stroke of the enchanter’s wand:

A thousand years their cloudy wings expand

Around me, and a dying Glory smiles

O’er the far times, when many a subject land

Looked to the wingéd Lion’s marble piles,

Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles!

She looks a sea Cybele, fresh from ocean,

Rising with her tiara of proud towers

At airy distance, with majestic motion,

A ruler of the waters and their powers:

And such she was–her daughters had their dowers

From spoils of nations, and the exhaustless East

Poured in her lap all gems in sparkling showers:

In purple was she robed, and of her feast

Monarchs partook, and deemed their dignity increased.

In Venice Tasso’s echoes are no more,

And silent rows the songless gondolier;

Her palaces are crumbling to the shore,

And music meets not always now the ear:

Those days are gone–but Beauty still is here;

States fall, arts fade–but Nature doth not die,

Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear,

The pleasant place of all festivity,

The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy!

We then passed through the judgment and appeal rooms which then led to the ubiquitous bookshop and very expensive tat shop. We nearly escaped to the great outdoors but the driver had to dash back to retrieve his rucksack.

We then wandered around St Marks listening to the orchestra playing Tango music and watching shocked faces of punters paying their bills.The Cook remembers her parents telling the story of them dancing in the square back in the 70’s to a Tango

Then off in search of a reasonable restaurant for a menu della giornata . “Al Graspo de ua ” opened in 1840 on a quiet back alley, 2 courses for €18. The food was excellent, Wine was extra but a very nice effervescent white… tasting a little like Pinot .

For going the dessert and caffe we were given a generous glass of lemoncelo. and off in search of the Grom Gelato shop which is just fabulous and not to be missed . Then a stroll (longer than expected) back to the bus station and home to Hetty. All in all a lovely day and 6.5 miles strolled.

BEST CITY EVER

17th April

Day 12 ?

Weather glorious

Sleepy spot as before

Last nights blog finished rather sharply I couldn’t up load photos .. Decided to collage just the one photo to show my impressions of my favourite city in the world

A trip to the Venice Opera House was a success .. found quite easily just wandering the narrow lanes

€7 for aged folk special rate .. best thing about getting old

A tour was taken ..gloriously ornate having burned down three times

More aimless wandering because we’ve been so many times there’s no urgency to see stuff .. just a leisurely stroll .. feet getting a touch worn out we climbed on board a vaporetto (water bus) and sat down .. off to Lido and back again .. down the Grand Canal and another walk to the stop for our water bus at Tre Arch… 6 miles walked yesterday

Now to today .. so tired we didn’t get going early as planned to visit Doge’s Palace with pre booked tickets .. we’ll go tomorrow was the cry ..The Driver has the idea he would like to see Giudecca the island which looks out over to St Marks The Cook wasn’t fussed thinking it would be industrial but No as she literally tripped over The Hotel Cipriani one of the most famous of the worlds hotel The Cook likes a posh hotel but with the price of a bowl of pasta being €47 even she though it to rich for her taste .. wandered along to a cheaper eatery and spent €37 for lunch with a carafe of house white with a view very similar to The Cipriani guests

Happy Cook

Tomorrow is the Doge’s Palace with an early start .. nite nite ♥️

HETTY LOVES VENICE

16th April

Day 11

Weather hot n sunny

GPS San Giuliano

45.46675 12.28078

The subject to start this blog is TOLLS ..The Cook has been had by a Venetian toll .. Too high to lean out and too low to pay from the window ..Screams and curses come for TheCook as she open the door to pay .. “ It’s blown away” The ten Euros she had offered up to the machine was spit back out but The Cook wasn’t quick enough to grab the note .. nor could she get out as The Driver yelled her to do …he’d parked to close ..The €10 note was floating under Hetty .. The Driver used his brains and got out his side crawling under Hetty to retrieve said note .. The cars behind just smiled at him .. obviously they have A Cook in their lives too…

San Guiliano Sosta is our destination ..A Campervan carpark on the mainland with both bus ..a 10 minute walk and ferry a two minute walk ..to get one to the city of Venice

We walk to the bus stop ..thinking about tired feet walking back after a day in the city and decide we would pay for the ferry ..It’s not the main water bus but a private operation which means we also have to pay the main water bus as well but hey no you’re only on this earth once .. No pockets in shrouds

Once in the city we wander … nothing in mind as we have been to Venice before ..so just wander.. get the feel of this amazing city ..back alleys are us .. The Cook think someone has told her about the renovation of The Opera Theatre … Emma perhaps… look on google and yes The Felice and a tour can be organised ….off we go …more tomorrow WiFi’s crap again 😱😩😡

AT LAST A BLOG

SAILING

Weekend 12th/14th April

Weather”Not good” Big coat

WiFi poor

At this time of year the sailing ⛵️ chums and us .. be it with or without Hetty are in Malta for sun n sailing but this years event didn’t happen😩 .. but amongst the fleet we have people in the know and they knew where we could go 😎 Lake Garda .. The Priestly’s of Fleetwood.. A well known family in the RC sailing fraternity organised a European Regatta at The Andrew Simpson Foundation sailing centre which was set up in memory of Andrew (Bart) who was tragically killed whilst competing in The America’s Cup A charity was set up in his name is a school of sailing for deprived young people and here we are at Campione Italy

Skippers have come from all over Europe and Scandinavia and pay a sailing fee ..

Only expenses are take and the rest goes to the Foundation to help fund water sports This weekend teens from Europe and UK are here sailing WAZPS a foil dingy but they are struggling for wind as are the radio controlled sailors ..

The WAGs (wives and girlfriends)get together and have lots of coffees A scoop or two of Prosecco and laugh a lot

Yesterday it was mooted amongst this growing ( growing as it there are more and more joining us )crowd of ladies that lunch out was the name of the game .. where to go ? Firstly it was a quick bus trip to Limone.. and find a restaurant on the waterfront.. but no we have another much more organised member of the group who lives here in Campione some of the year who took charge of the outing .. Sorting out our bus and even a taxi back ..Well done Diana The plan was to go to Malcesine on a ferry €13 return to the markets ..Up the cable car to the top of the mountain and a bite of lunch ..Sadly the cloud didn’t lift and only three went up the mountain ..The Cook couldn’t see the point as there wasn’t any view.. Shopping was done ..One of our buddies couldn’t resist a leather jacket and a handbag..and on to lunch at a quant rustic looking little Osterea RE LEAR was it’s name and we can recommend it 

The sailing event was won by our own John Tushingham from Yorkshire UK

Ps Diana’s note for the WAGS

HI to all you gals who came to the DF 95 event

I’d like to thank you all for

A) The good company

B)The opportunity to speak English .. a rare treat as I live in the Black Forest and have to speak German

C) For all turning up for our outing.. despite the weather .. when I’d feared half of you would “cry off”

If we are back when you come next year I’ll look forward to meeting you again or maybe at an IOM event Have a good trip home

Best wishes Diana

HETTY NEEDS AN UMBRELLA

April 11th

Day 6

Weather is awful .. it hasn’t stopped raining .. pouring all night and all day .. Fortunately chums have arrived by road and air and no doubt alcohol will be imbibed and fun had and the weather will be forgotten

Blue spot is where we are.. Campioni on Lake Garda

A walk was taken this morning in the rain to see the sailing area .. Ok if it stops raining..benches to sit and watch But I don’t think the supporting ladies will be down in this weather

A meet and greet party held in the local bar was a great success even a USA team arrived and much merriment ensued.. and the rain stopped

Day 7

12th April

Race day 1

The wind did blow eventually by mid afternoon

Moving boats around by tractor fully rigged down the main road tickled me

The Driver now called The Skipper did quite well until something broken… all mended now ..

The rain has stopped still chilly and a need for a big coat

Kite surfing to watch as well

An outing to a local hostelry is on tonight’s plan after sailing

Tomorrow the WAGS (wives and girlfriends ) are off to Malcesine on the ferry for a bite of lunch …some are braving the cable car ride up to 6000 ft .. sadly with the cloud on the mountain The Cook thinks it a waste of money and isn’t going but is going out for lunch with the other like minded gals ..

HETTY’S DRIVE THROUGH THE SOUTH TYROL

Wednesday 10th April

Day 5

Weather

Miles done so far 1194

Tolls are the only way to go said The Driver wiping the tears from his face ..weeping at the prospect of spending on TOLLS .. The start of the day from The Brenner Pass Sosta (carpark for camper vans €15 with Leccy ) was a toll free road .. The Cook wasn’t to sure as this road was one of the up and up and up type ..6000ft plus .. narrow and windy with lots of drops into the valleys below .. A work van came before we had got too far up the mountain and said in Italian that the road ahead was closed ..The Cook sighs with relief ..jumping out of Hetty to help The Driver reverse .. she not staying in the van and ending up off the edge .. so her job is the backing manoeuvre..works perfectly and side lines the panic of height …

Toll road now for 145 klm OMG how much will this cost ? The Cook got her cash box out saying we may need more.. There was €50 in the pot.. WOWSER only € 8-50

Lake Garda comes into view

A quick Lidl shop and off down the west side of Lake Garda .. through tunnel after tunnel all dug out of the mountain on the edge of the lake .. even a round about under the mountain..

Arrived at our destination to find Hetty hadn’t been booked in to the Motorhome parking area 😫 All was well a parking area with leccy was found at a price .. As our followers know Hettys Crew don’t like spending on parking .. only using camp sites to do the washing .. We have been relieved of € 190 … last years 60 day adventures only came to € 63 in total The Drive bit the bullet and payed up .. and it’s pouring down ..

Today view from Hetty’s front window.. raining ☔️

One of the other sailing team arrived after a non stop drive of 17 hours 🤪

TOLLS .. TANTRUMS …AND THE TYROL

Day 4

9th April

Last nights sleepy spot

On the Rhine (60.4714620 8.305374)

Weather Horrid

Hours and hours of mind numbing Auto routes in France.. Belgium (The Cook hates Belgium ) and Germany although it has to be said the German Juggernauts did behave impeccable and kept to the right hand lane ..The Cook amuses herself with her childish lavatorial humour being satisfied at most Motor way exits with a cheery Ausfahrt.. German for exit ..sniggers ..

We roll into Austria ..Grab a vignette €9.40 (tax for use of Austrian roads) at the services and there is the Tyrol ..Mountains ..Snow.. and Heidi houses .. The rain stopped and a hint of sun warmed us up .. It’s was a beautiful sight

Tolls came next .. €9-40 followed by a tantrum from The Cook as she tried to pay ..find cash .. open door ..too close to machine to climb out forwards ..reverse and squeeze out backwards .. Put the arm up said He ..Will give you more room .. Cant .. says She .. Have to hang on TT the arm as it’s as high as a lorry and no step to speak of ..The Cook has made up a new swear word for the indignity of being squashed between a toll machine and Hetty Hymer .. Never to be repeated ..Pride and bottom bruised on a non alcohol day ..Naw.. That’s tomorrow 😂😎♥️

HETTY HAS HAD AN OVERHAUL …BY THE DRIVER

Day 3

9th April

Last nights free sleepy spot

(50.4714620, 4.0895460) on the Canal du Centre Belgium 🇧🇪

Miles traveled today 276

Total miles 775

Fuel fill in Luxembourg 1.09 per Litre

The Driver has a big smile on his face

Today’s weather mixed

Not much for The Cook to blog about so here’s one he prepared earlier from The Driver

Hettys winter maintenance and improvements.

She is getting an old girl now with a few wrinkles creaks and groans (No not The Cook).

I have spent a little time getting her back up to standard

1. A sliding catch on the large drawer which occasionally bounced open…best brass of course.

2 The original plastic knife and fork drawer has been gaffered back together too many times ….. I decided to make a new plywood drawer with new runners and surprisingly with the original utensil tray fitted its was no heavier than the original and now bomb proof.

3. The light over the kitchen sink has always been a bit dim even more so since one of the mini fluorescent tubes gave up the ghost . A trawl through EBay located a suitable LED lamp A surprise from Poland and postage free.

4 The clock over the sink had a loud tick ✅ tock and as it needed a new battery I located one on eBay with no tick and 2 batteries which can be hard to find anyway …Result.

4 The Cook has always commented about toilet smells . I have purchased a toilet duck and fixed it just by the flush spout . Now a lovely odour permeates the bathroom.

5 We are heading into the Alps this trip.. New snow tyres have been fitted.

6 Last but not least a window vacuum was purchased so no soggy cloths or damp chamois any more…Just a light buzzing and tip the water down the sink …It’s fabulous.

Plus it’s got a fitting just the right size for our Georgian window panes at home …The window cleaner sacked us as it was too much work for him. So it’s paid for itself due to 20 years of his fees not spent.

Hettys annual service and MOT included a Track Rod end …Breaks and a new bearing

More tomorrow as The Driver has plumbed The Hymer factory into Miss Sat Nav .. Off our route but Hey Ho …🤪

HETTY AWAKES TO MELLOW MISTS AND FRUITFULNESS

Day 2

7th April

Weather Fog

Last nights sleepy spot

N51.2614 E1.10016 Park n Ride Canterbury

Price £7

Just like an Autumn day .. but the mistiness is fog visibility 50 yards

Not a euphemism but a reality “Fog in the Channel Vicar ”

Hetty decided she didn’t want to stay in Dover for 24 hours for her Pre booked ferry on Monday at 8am

The reason we got here early was a BREXIT problem ..we booked last month and assumed we would be Out ..deal or no deal ..with lorries queueing for miles and causing chaos. ..False News ..Not a lorry to be seen on the M2 going into Dover ..in fact all was very very quiet giving the Driver a hint as to availability on an early ferry .. After having a chat with the boarding guy we would have to pay an extra £65 to go on today sailing ..going in 30 minutes …The Driver had a fit .. we’ll go tomorrow said He .. Look here said The Cook ..If we eat out tonight that’s £50 plus Breakfast on the ferry £30 …now to pay the £65 is a saving of £25….The cooks glass is always half full

Driving through Belgium is The Cook’s black hole ..She hates the country ..She says it’s wet n boring .. The Driver thinks he can get to Luxembourg for cheap fuel .. It’s too far ..even thought the sun is out at last .

Found a stop on the Canal du Centre near a barge lift which fascinates TheDriver ..Unfortunately He can’t be allowed out as it’s a thunder storm ..Massive lightening ..Pouring down .. Big Bangs ..The Cook hides in the bathroom

Supper of home made Spaghetti Bol ..Lovingly cooked at home and transported to Europe

Tomorrow a push south to Karlsruhe On the Rhein ….

HETTY IS ON THE MOVE AGAIN !

Saturday 6th April

Day 1

Weather sunny 🌞

10-30am off

10-51am second off

101800 on the clock

Sun spec are GO …

We do it every time … get to the J15 on the M65 and remember stuff that’s been left at home .. A quick return to J13 ..stop on double yellows ..Traffic warden has a word and sends us off on our way with a cheery ” Happy Travels ”

The sun is splitting the flags up Nowf …lovely day to start an adventure

Get down sowf to the Garden of England ..Kent is wet windy and foggy ..

Hetty managed to avoid that there London by going over the Queens bridge at a toll of £2-50.. We don’t like tolls but better a bridge toll than a fine for entering the London environmental zone ..Sat nav insisted we did it her way but we said NO SAT NAV …no fines for Hetty

Miles travelled around 350 .. and now happily parked up in the Canterbury park n ride for a small fee of £ 7

Pre made curry scoffed and now we will be putting The Driver to bed as he’s very tired after getting up at 3am ..probably worrying about a new adventure

THE PLAN

Sail to Calais

Bomb down to Lake Garda via the Brenner Pass

Sail in European Regatta

Go to Venice for four days ..Camp site booked and tickets for Doge’s palace

Wander down into Tuscany for lunch at La Vialla on 24th May ..more about this place later

More wandering

Get to Civitavechia for the ferry to Barcelona on the 1st May

Campsite booked in Barcelona with bus into city with May 4th being next as its our Silver wedding anniversary and The Cooks Birthday ..She wants a quiet day on the beach in the sun

Then …. off to Andorra on the 5th May

French Atlantic coast next

And home by the 22nd May