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Sunday, 28 July 2013

Munich

We headed to Munich next as it was number two on SJ’s road trip wish list. Our choice of camp sites near to the city and transport into Munich was limited; basically we had a choice of one! The municipal site is a famous stop over for visitors to Munich and numerous beer festivals.
We experienced problems finding our assigned pitch and Mr H found himself needing to turn in the tightest spot yet. Cars, trees, lamposts, water and electricity points and the usual crowd of onlookers didn’t make the job easy but once again Mr H did what a man has to do and sweated like a bull in the process! We eventually found our allocated spot. I expected the pitches to be close together here but the distance between our RV and our neighbours was only a few centimetres more than my bra size! Yes I measured it. It didn’t matter though as we were here to enjoy the experience of Munich with SJ before he flew home. The camp site staff were very jolly and helpful, especially the till operator in the on-site supermarket, she made us giggle every visit! On our arrival the man booking us in suggested it was too hot to do anything but lay under a tree drinking beer today. Then he informed me of the ice cold beer vending machines available around the site! We had to buy tokens for each seven minute hot water shower, access to the inter-net and the washing machines. All resulting in a major review of our daily rituals and making us speed up a bit while doing them!

We settled into this new experience and adopted the sites multi-national refugee camp attitude. Ice packs for a fellow campers knee injury, banter and travel advice were shared with our immediate neighbours. This site also had the rare spectacle of surf boarders practising their skills on a weir outside the camp gates, the queue of rubber suited men, women and children never seemed to go down. We utilised the excellent public transport systems and spent several days travelling on buses, trains and the underground. Mr H and SJ researched and discussed these systems on a daily basis and always knew where we where and how to get where we wanted to be. We roamed around Munich in the sunshine on most days taking more photos than necessary and had a great time. 














We all looked forward to SJ’s planned visit to the Allianz Arena. We'd checked there was an English language tour at 1.0pm each day and set off full of expectation. We travelled by bus, train, underground and walked a fair distance in the blazing sun to be told there was no tours on a match day! Yes we'd picked the day when Bayern were playing Barcelona in some Mickey Mouse Cup! Gutted!! We attempted to buy SJ a match ticket so at least he could go into the stadium but no joy as only 25 tickets were available for the hundreds queuing to do the same thing. We spent the journey back complaining about our visit expertly avoiding the fact that match days are published on their website, oops.  


 

Ah well, at least Mr H got to dream about leading the Bayern faithful in a rendition of 'Can't help falling in love with you' before SJ boarded the plane home from Munich airport.



Sunday, 21 July 2013

Alfsee - Naumburg - Bad Kissengen - Donauworth

Headed East across the border to Germany and another Leading campings site http://alfsee.de/  and enjoyed the scenery and sunshine along the way. No dramas on this route and my special home cooked chicken breast sandwiches and fresh doughnuts went down a treat with Mr H and SJ. The site was large with good access and our pitch had all services including internet. We settled into a routine of cycling, food shopping and eating mostly! SJ’s hire bike at this site even had brakes and a lock! Luxury. A daily report system emerged between SJ and Mr H regarding the best shower cubicle with the most powerful shower, the recommended cubicle number was discussed between them following every morning and evening shower ritual. This site has a large lake with a small man-made beach and the main activity was water-skiing utilising overhead towing cables. 



We found some surprising things while out and about exploring on our bikes, a field of ostriches (hope they can’t read as ostrich steaks were for sale at the farm house next door!) a perfectly manicured topiary whale and monster wild mushrooms to name but a few.





We headed south and our next stop was a pleasant surprise as we were given a whole top field to ourselves which I christened the fairy ring.  http://www.camping-naumburg.de/ The view was lovely with a star-filled clear sky at night. SJ and Mr H claimed their own football and frisbee pitch and I had the luxury of room for a full washing line of bedding! 





Internet, privacy and a good supermarket only metres away from the site entrance pleased us all. The shower grading system continued and as the showers displayed your remaining credit (using a pre-paid SEP key system) SJ strived to beat Mr H to the quickest and cheapest shower. As it was rather hilly I avoided cycling but the lads went out and about for some exercise while I cooked and did girly things.

We stayed overnight at http://www.campingpark-badkissingen.de/home.html Now Bad Kissengen is a beautiful spa town but the site was not signposted clearly. The sat-nav told us we had reached our destination whilst on a bridge over a river!! After negotiating some alarmingly narrow streets, a confusing one way system and a U-turn at the railway station (yes we had to take the trailer off for this manoeuvre) we found ourselves down a dead end street outside a large posh hotel. I left SJ and Mr H with the RV and headed on foot to the tourist information office armed with the site name, address and a smile. In the scorching heat I strolled passed an open air orchestral event, large sparkling water features and marble fronted buildings. Tourist information came up trumps once again and marked on a map where we needed to be, we thank you all. Mr H and SJ had once again taken the trailer off and managed to turn the RV around so we set off armed with our map. Even with this the site seemed inaccessible until we backtracked over the bridge and negotiated some major road works that had hidden the site entrance. The workmen looked up in surprise as we became the first vehicle to try out their new road system :). The narrow entrance to the site didn’t bode well and we got into trouble for parking just over the stop line outside reception. We were escorted to our pitch by the camp commander on a bike and told to line up to his mark whilst the resident caravanners greeted us with frosty stares. Electric hook up was available but no water supply on the pitch meant that we had to fill our tanks from a distant stand pipe that had the only size fitting that we didn't have (thought we had every size both metric and imperial). This necessitated SJ holding a universal fitting in place and getting an early bath. To cap it all there was no wi-fi available so we decided we would be leaving early the next day. 

On the positive side, SJ and Mr H walked into town and said it was a beautiful place alongside a river, through a park with impressive spa buildings. The chef on site had made us really welcome when we were queuing to enter the site so we went for a meal cooked by her and treat SJ to his first Weiner schnitzel. Oh and the showers were really good.

Then on to Donauworth where we had a weekend stay at
http://www.donau-lech-camping.de/index.php?chsprache=en&seite=homeThis was a very busy rural site and our assigned pitch was relatively small and totally surrounded by caravans and tents. It took Mr H a while and a bit of shunting to get on it without taking out a few of our neighbours! We had the luxury of water and electricity though. To say the site is dated is being kind, it really requires a major update of all facilities but the owners were very pleasant and welcoming. They have a swimming lake on site that was very popular and full until nightfall but after a brief paddle SJ and I decided not to risk a swim in it. SJ used my bike whilst we were here and went on a number of long cycle treks with grandad. They thought that this part of Germany was wonderful cycling country. 

As the weekend passed people began to leave making our diagonally parked RV look a little out of place. The day before our departure I was outside enjoying an early morning cuppa when a car approached with a man shouting abuse out of his window. It took me a while to realise he was shouting at me and that he was angry that we were parked next to his caravan and our trailer was blocking his view of the lake! His wife provided a stereo effect of his ranting as she got out of the car. Mr H leaped to my defence and tried to explain about us arriving to a full site and not having any option and that we were leaving the following day. Mr and Mrs Angry didn’t speak any English but were very skilled in giving us dirty looks and I was pleased to leave the next day. Whilst we have met lots of friendly folk on our travels I’m not sure if it’s us, the RV or Brits in general that many people seem to be taking exception to.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Callantsoog, Holland

Landed at Rotterdam Europort and travelled North to a site near the coast http://www.tempelhof.nl/ The journey to the site after the motorway was along very flat but narrow roads. Mr H in his usual no fuss style negotiated some tricky bits with SJ in the front seat as co-pilot. Music, our sat-nav, numerous on board cameras and sweeties once again made this all possible! On arrival at our pitch Mr H had to get the RV up a large kerb as half the site came out to watch and marvel at our RV. SJ was unaccustomed to the spectacle we provide at most sites and watched in amazement as we set up camp. We spent our days cycling around the excellent bike routes and visiting a local beach-front town. SJ was very keen to get his exercise by cycling so we hired him a bike. Off he went to the onsite bike hire and returned with a giant sized functional Dutch model with no gears or brakes, all it lacked was a wicker basket on the front but it made us all giggle. I wanted to equip him with stabilisers, a crash helmet, elbow and knee pads! Mr H stopped me as he is a big boy now and can manage himself very well. Now it’s a very long time since we have cohabited with a teenager so I began to adjust my approach to effective communications, a bit like horse whispering but for teenagers. I found that direct eye contact should be avoided and never approach them whilst they’re wearing headphones without visual warning or food or drink. Favoured T-shirts must be freshly laundered daily and all mobile phone activity is strictly private. SJ is a pleasure to be with and not hard work at all, he avoids the sun, eats everything but the fridge door, makes grandad and me laugh and can sleep through a missile attack! 

A visit to Amsterdam was on SJ’s wish list so he and Mr H did the manly type job of co-ordinating the bus and train journey.








Gift shopping for family was expertly executed by SJ after a whistle stop tour of the canals and the red light district followed by a chinese meal and a beer in Cafe Dam for old times sake. A great day out. 

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Cheltenham to York

Boarded the ferry at Roskoff with no mishaps and had a pleasant voyage to Plymouth :) So it's back home for a few weeks to get the bus and scooter serviced, stock up on essentials and visit family and friends. Back in Blighty again with no rough seas or damage to self or the RV and trailer! (double bonus ;) We received our first ever security check as we drove off the ferry this time, conducted with me hanging out the window as Mr H is in the driving seat on the left! Basically it went along the lines of...... Is this your personal vehicle madam?..... How many people are on board?......... are you carrying any tobacco or spirits? .......... Where have you travelled and for how long? ....... Where are you going and how long will you be staying? ... All enquiries were promptly and politely responded to and I must have a trustworthy face as we were then waved through the barrier by a youth barely old enough to shave with all the necessary boxes ticked! Strange really as we have enough visible and non visible storage space to smuggle through a large family and their horse plus enough booze and fags to keep a pub running for a week!! I must add that we have NEVER smuggled any item over the numerous borders we have travelled, we are not that brave or rock and roll!! (That’s if you don’t count taking red Leicester cheese into France).

First stop was Cheltenham for a few days at Briarfields to get reacclimatized  http://www.briarfields.net/ . As always we received a very warm welcome from Scott and Jo on our arrival. We spent a busy few days stocking up in the local supermarket, sorting out banking and our mobile phones enjoying speaking our native tongue once again. I was unsuccessful in tempting Mr H to upgrade his wardrobe once again so I compensated by buying myself a few ladies essentials of quality hand wash and scented candles. We conducted our ritual locker sorting in the weak British sunshine and began to plan our summer assault on family and friends. 

No need for the sat nav now as the RV knows its own way to Signature Motorhomes http://www.signaturemotorhomes.com/ As always a warm welcome for us in Wolverhampton despite the wind and rain. A short visit for us here this time and no new RV purchases to the relief of Mr H and his bank balance. Visiting Signature Motorhomes in Wolverhampton has become an annual pleasure. We feel looked after and enjoy sharing a few jokes whilst catching up with the lads! We spent the bank holiday weekend there and took the opportunity to catch up with friends we had met in Spain. Mr and Mrs L were great hosts taking us out to a fabulous local Indian restaurant and sharing their extensive local knowledge of the area over a beer or three! 

Must mention this, Mr H had spent the previous tour of Europe fighting with our levellers every time we pitched up. They are amazing inventions, four hydraulic feet that level the vehicle when we park up enabling us to use the two slide-outs. There is an auto levelling button that never worked so Mr H always had to level the RV with the manual option. I had to vacate the RV every time he did this as the front and rear bucked and rocked into a position that made my sensitive ears pop and stomach churn! When we reported this problem to the all-knowing Ross he opened the appropriate locker to investigate. His immediate response... wait for it.... one of those hydraulic pipes is the wrong way round!!! A two minute job that made Mr H’s world OK again.

Then on to York http://www.yorkcaravanpark.com/  Mr H set up camp and was faced with the now usual array of onlookers. They are always amazed at the size and design of his drainage pipes! So proud. Our stay in York was a flurry of activity as usual requiring a hire car, nerves of steel and a full wallet! We visited and received family and friends from near and far. Mr H managed to squeeze in some fishing on a rare sunny day with our daughter, partner and their very entertaining pampered pooch Buddy! Just love them all. While we were visiting it was our eldest grandsons ( SJ ) school leaving prom, an event I would have swam the oceans to witness. In true 16 year old lad style SJ didn’t want to wear a suit and tie but he went along with the theme to please the ladies! In true Nan style I fed him, bought him a new razor, ironed his shirt, became official time keeper, transported him and his mates around through the day and ensured he had a bottle opener! SJ tolerated the long process of dressing for the occasion and endless photo taking with his usual laid back style. I just about managed to hold back the tears of pride and joy when he needed his grandad to help him achieve the perfect knot in his tie! SJ finally presented his preened self to us all in his very slim fitting dark formal suit, shocking pink large knotted tie and his designer trainers! Watching SJ and his close friends arrive at the prom was emotional and very entertaining, the winners of “Best Arrival “came in a skip!! All I will report about the prom after party is that nobody died and it only took a day of constant fluids and bacon butties for SJ to recover thank-goodness! 

Our stay in York was extended due to us having to wait for the scooter to be repaired. Waiting for the needed part to be delivered from Italy cost us a fortune in extra site fees, car rental and paying for 4 changed dates for our ferry crossing. It was an all day job requiring a part from the manufacturer, I offered to fly out and collect the bugger as it would have been cheaper and quicker! Mr H was not even given a guarantee that the scooter would be ready on the day of our departure but we decided enough was enough and went ahead with our travel plans anyway. I must say that the mechanics at the garage were as frustrated as us and they did all they could to hurry up the job. Maybe a girl thing but have they never heard of sending needed parts overseas by courier? If Tom Hanks and FedEx can deliver the goods we have no valid excuse, rant over.


Our journey through Europe this year was planned and agreed and we stocked up with extra essentials. With a fridge and cupboards bulging with British bacon, beans, mayonnaise and our eldest grandson SJ (16 years old) on board for a road trip to Munich. We headed to the sacred KC stadium to hopefully collect and load up the scooter as it was the nearest available space big enough for our RV and trailer. Never been so pleased to see Mr H roll up on the scooter! 




With the scooter packed away in the trailer we headed off to get our ferry to Rotterdam in blazing sunshine and good spirits. 



A smooth overnight crossing was spent catching up with SJ and his busy lifestyle of studying, working and sporting activities. Due to the numerous ferry changes we’d lost our club cabin and ended up in bunk beds that seemed to be designed to roll you out towards the floor. Not much sleep but we all managed to hang on until we got up for breakfast, Holland here we come.