Author Archives: Ruby Motorhome Travels

About Ruby Motorhome Travels

We are Glenn & Michelle who are currently free to roam with a love of the outdoors and travel. We have recently purchased a Bailey motorhome which has been named Ruby and we are intent on getting around as much as possible. Initially in the UK but Europe and beyond in the near future.

Spain

19th Dec 2021

So.. here we are in Europe and just entering Spain at the time of the last blog. 

This has worked out (as always) to be a journey of discovery and to get a feel for the areas we visit. Often times it is not possible to spend much time in one area as travel is necessary, however we are still learning, seeing and soaking up as much of the areas that we pass through as possible. We never really planned on continuing south day after day but the sun just teases you and drags you along. Every 200 miles adds about +1º of temperature and increasing amounts of bright blue sky. Of course we did the research in advance. Well in advance. I remember whilst sitting in a  cold dark wet campsite in Gloucestershire at this time last year, looking at the temperatures in Spain (and many other places). Trouble is that research does not really tell the whole story. You have to be there, feel it, and find out the reality of the weather on the ground. We are still learning and this is the reason for the one month trip. Though it is a bloody long way..!

Anyhow, 25th Nov we drifted into Spain, slipping east of the Pyrenees and with a new target location of Barcelona. Michelle identified what turned out to be a great site at Carbrera de Mar, which is about 30mins north of Barcelona and just 200 metres from the beach. More importantly it was also alongside the main train line into Barcelona, so we planned on staying for four days. This site cost €15 per night and was very popular so it was a constant change of motorhome neighbours. Space was a little close but otherwise a great site. The electric was included plus good quality toilets and (hot) showers plus all the necessary water servicing etc. On our first evening we wandered down to the railway station (well just a platform really) just to check the train route and tickets etc. Good job we did really. Bit tricky for us folk that spoke no local lingo. We have been surprised by the lack of English being spoken round here. What’s matter with these people.? No school education..! (Ha! Yes, of course I am joking). 

Carbrera de Mar

Next day we managed to find our way into Barca on the train which runs all the way along the coast into the city centre. We had an enjoyable day visiting Las Ramblas, Gaudi’s buildings, fish/meat markets and a very nice restaurant alongside the marina. Bloody lovely. It was sunny and warmer than expected so a good day was had. We managed to get back to the campsite in one piece despite some anxious railway moments. Bit busy in places. Oh, and on the Covid front, both France and Spain are much stricter than the UK with masks and movement. We got checked before entering some premises for our vaccination record and everywhere requires masks. Many people wear masks in the street whilst walking round so we presume that the population are pretty nervous. 

We loved Barcelona so much that we ventured back in again two days later. We had seen the outside of the Sagrada Familia (church), on the Friday trip and were absolutely gobsmacked. I am certainly never keen on looking at churches but this was something else and another of Antoni Gaudi’s designs. Google It. It is still being built after 140 years and it is awesome. And guess what…inside was even awesomer (that’s not an official word). We had to pay a gentle sum of €14 each (discounted for us old folk…!) and found a playground of colour, design, shapes and masses of unbelievable design features. Best church ever. It’ll be alright when its finished..! Wouldn’t mind but they already have a cathedral in the city. 

Otherwise Barcelona was bloody cold this day. Still sunny and blue sky. An icy wind blowing off the mountains straight through the city. Brrrrr. So our trip was a little shorter than we would have liked. We did however discover that they have an Arc de Triomf….- very similar to the one in Paris. – who knew… There are many sights worth visiting in Barcelona including modern busy shopping centres (yuk), old town (Gothic Quarter) with lovely historic buildings with bars, cafés and curio shops. 

After four nights at the Carbrera de Mar we were starting to understand that we needed to keep going south to increase the level of warmth. As you know Spain has loads of mountains across the whole country and the weather and temperature can change quite regularly and by several degrees. Always seems to have plentiful blue sky (which is probably the best part of being away from the UK) but it appears to suffer with wind. (I know what that feels like..!). So we decided to head south again and after another few hours located a free ‘wild’ site on 29th at Deltebre at Sant Jaume where we stayed for two nights as it was so peaceful and safe. We were originally looking for a launderette in Sant Jaume which turned out to be closed down. But thankfully we then stumbled onto this wonderful site. Again it had drinking water and disposal points for toilet cassettes. Brilliant. Totally free, very large and uncontrolled. Next day we headed out for a touristy trip with a plan on parking up near a local marina for coffee and lunch. But we never made it there. We came across an absolute gem of a place which stopped us in our tracks. It was basically a very long beach along a peninsula leading to some extensive salt fields. Lorries drove up and down this sand bank all day collecting salt that had been ‘farmed’ at the tip of the peninsula. There are large public car parks on the sand which are free at this time of year. Once there you have the Mediterranean Sea on one side and flat calm Bay of Alfacs on the other. Now picture this…. Ruby parked on the sand facing the bay. Bright blue sky, very warm. A wooden boardwalk in front of us with views across the calm bay and mountains all across the background in both directions. It was a delight. So, we just simply made some lunch in Ruby, sat on the boardwalk to eat, accompanied by a small glass of red and soaked up the beauty in front of us. And stayed there for the day. And to add to the delight there were large flocks of pink flamingos flying past from the nearby nature reserve. Absolutely loved it. We had a long walk down the sand ‘road’ along the peninsula before eventually dragging ourselves away after several hours and back to the reality of food shopping. !

San Jaume Wildfowl reserve

And that was November dealt with.

1st Dec -This day was a cause for celebration as the anniversary of our Road Trip.  One whole year, 12 months, of our three year road trip. Amazing. I know we spent the first four months locked down in Gloucestershire however here we are now, deep into sunny Spain and still loving every day.. (well, mostly…).

We now travelled another chunk south and another couple of degrees warmer. Still sunny with blue sky. We had decided that we were now in need of a holiday (!)… so booked the Camping Eden site at Peniscola. (Mainly because it had Penis in the title!). Initially we booked a full seven days but added another five later on as it suited our purposes very well. We decided that we could not keep on heading south at the rate of 200 miles every few days. It was already a long way back home and we could end up missing out by spending all our time on the road. At a cost of around €25 (£22) per night this was a good spot and largely full most of the time. Each pitch was tucked amongst some cropped trees- originally looked very tight and close together. However once parked up it turns out this was quite a good size pitch which included our own sink as well as the electric hook-up. The vast majority of the other campers were German with French, Dutch and Spanish making up the rest. Mornings were so difficult trying to work out whether it is ‘Guten Tag’, ‘Bonjour’ or  ’Buenos Dias’ was required when greeting the neighbours. We decided that a brisk ‘Good‘Morning’ was the best approach – as they all should know how to speak English…! At no time during our 12 days did we see any British registered vehicles on any of the hundred or so pitches. Very surprising. Even round the town of Peniscola and surrounding areas there was no evidence of Brits anywhere. 

So, despite the daily wall-to-wall blue sky this area was often quite windy which does restrict some beach related ambitions. The wind tended to be warm and retained temperatures of 16-20 degrees and feeling even warmer. Most days were jeans and T-shirt but taking a warmer top for later in the evening. It was so relaxing being able to wander around, with no driving and just chilling out. 

Memorable amongst those days was 3rd Dec. A friend had recommended a bar called Cheers in the neighbouring town of Alcossebre which did good old English meals. Not normally keen on being ‘Brits Abroad’ but we were interested in this idea. There was a great coast walk of 22km or so from our site to Cheers so we considered we could safely manage that trek as long as we could catch a bus home. Our research online did not provide options and the receptionist on our campsite said ’Not possible-there are no buses’- But still, there must be a bus…surely. If not we can grab a taxi….So the walk along the coast path was tremendous. Nice gravel and concrete paths along the coast and sandy beaches with barely a soul in sight. It was a hot day – shorts on, shirt off (well me anyway). After an energetic four and a half hour walk we finally arrived at Cheers, ready for a beer and then some food. Well….no… it was bloody closed. ! aaargh. We had checked the opening hours online so it should have been open, however the website failed to mention that it was closed for the winter. Bugga.!

OK then, we just grab a beer at a neighbouring Spanish bar and then look for a bus. We asked the bar owner who spoke just enough English to say ‘Not possible’. Oops, this is getting tricky now. ’So what about a taxi to Peniscola then?. Where will we get a taxi?’- The exact same English response of ‘Not possible’ was helpfully repeated. No bus. No taxi. Getting dark in an hour, painful feet and under-dressed, under fed and stuck in a tiny village with no transport. Damn….! Anyway to cut a decent bit of panic down to just one paragraph.. We did manage to find a bus that went to a different village, we found the railway station and after detailed trains discussion with a terrific local dude (‘no speaka da English’) we took the decision to grab a taxi from there. Firstly, we went to the town supermarket and stocked up on cakes, biscuits and water and the friendly cashier phoned a local taxi for us which arrived five minutes later…. Top job. Taken straight back to the campsite entrance within half an hour- at just a paltry €35 (£30)! . Lesson learned. If everyone tells you there is no bus…… there is NO BUS..! We don’t like to do things the easy way do we..!

Lost- The only bus to who knows where. !

Oh… and look at this little beauty. This praying mantis – about 6 inches long was spotted by Mich whilst out on our long walk. He was on the gravel path and didn’t move as we took photos. Apart from his eyes which followed our movements slowly. Wow. What an incredible beast.

Praying Mantis

The following days just trickled along nicely. We found Sheila’s cafe, Horchata Granizados and our favourite evening haunt the Mandarina Club where a bottle of Rioja was just €18 (£15) and some great burgers.

We were pretty experimental with the other local food too. Fish, fish and more fish. Everyone, everywhere eats mussels, crab, crayfish, langoustine and every other kind of crustacean. Think we over did it one evening with the full platter which was tricky to work through but worth a go.

Not sure..!

We even prepared and enjoyed a bbq back at Ruby one evening with langoustine, chorizo, plantains and quail eggs alongside a beautiful salad. We really loved the Mediterranean diet and realise that the lack of chips/burgers/coke is what keeps them slim. Also…everyone drinks beer. Any time of day. Male and female. Half a litre with lunch, dinner, mussels and probably breakfast. – they certainly don’t get involved in much fancy pants cappuccino stuff. ! 

So after 12 days in Peniscola- (which we recommend, even in the winter,) we need to start heading home. We have to be in Calais by the 16th Dec and we had over 1,500kms to get there. We shared the driving from the start and chewed up loads of miles on the way. Once again we opted for the Autopista and Autoroutes to make the journey progress quicker. There is quite a cost but as mentioned previously there is a balance between time/cost and one has to consider the wear and tear of Ruby during the miles done along the free roads. The vast amount of the toll roads involve sitting there at 60mph on cruise control with very little traffic on dual carriageways or three-laners. You really get to eat up the miles in a relaxed and safe manner (apart from manic Barcelona). First night we failed to stay on a free site at Clermont le Herault, which proved to be in use by the caravans of a travelling circus. We had to then drive for the first time in the dark through some mountains which would have been glorious to see in the daylight..! We ended up parked in a truck stop along the A75 which was safe and easy to use. We then became aware that we would be passing along the famous Millau Viaduct on this road the next day which caused a great deal of excitement. We have visited this before but the prospect of driving over it the next morning had us keen to start early. It was -3º overnight here as we were high up in the mountains. We drove half an hour to the Millau Viaduct in gentle rolling mountains to then park up at the viewing point. Almost empty at this time of day (8.30am), we had as much room as we wanted and freedom to put Derek the Drone up for some photos. Well…wow…! The lighting was incredible and there was thick cloud below us and below the bridge making for a stunning view of the bridge and surrounding area. What an amazing piece of engineering and a thing of beauty. Despite the freezing conditions it was an awesome visit and it was my birthday too…..

Awesome Millau Viaduct
Millau Video

After moving on we drove for over a hundred miles up in the mountains reaching 1110 metres ( 3600ft) at the highest and with temperatures ranging from -3º to +8º dependent on the sun position and the flatness of the terrain.  The mountains are part of the Massif Central mountain range which surprisingly covers 15% of France. We didn’t expect to come across this glorious area as the route planning never mentions it. Perhaps we should have planned this a bit better and then maybe we would have had the snow chains that we were legally obliged to carry in this area. ! There were large areas of snow and ice either side of the road in some areas and we knew that it would be easy to get caught out. (We have now bought some ‘snow socks’ which is the next best thing and fulfil the legal requirements). What a joyful road.

Next night we stayed in yet another truck stop just north of Orleans- boy do we know how to party….! This was a bit ill conceived as we were kept awake for large parts of the night as the trucks drove alongside us headed out from the truck stop. Never mind, it was free and we were damn tired by now. 500+ km per day for two full days was pretty full-on. 

15th Dec. Now this was a bloody difficult driving day. We had researched driving round Paris as being the quickest route and we picked a time that was quietest… apparently. Well this was so funny (afterwards!). Now…. if you are not aware, Paris (as well as an increasing amount of other European towns/cities) has environment zones restricting the passage of traffic in certain areas and certain days etc. We had failed to apply for our Crit Air certificate which would allow us to drive along the Peripherique (ring road). Therefore we had to avoid that particular area or face a sizeable fine. Well that was not as easy as it sounds. Every time we put something into the satnav it redirected us onto this route, even after we had started up. We stopped several times on the approach to make sure we had this right but noticed that we had the additional problem of the A68 going through a tunnel…with a height restriction of just 2 metres. Ruby is 2.7m ..! So we asked the satnav to tiptoe between the  Peripherique and this section of A68. No problem. ‘Turn left’ she says…’keep left’.. ‘follow the road left’ she says again…. Followed suddenly by a big flashing warning signal saying ‘STOP NOW’!!- What the hell. You know those big chunks of metal plate that they hang over the road before a low bridge..? Well we were in that lane. The only reason we didn’t clatter into them was because the metal plates had been worn down a bit by many previous miscreants…. We Stopped…… in the middle of the lane…. And thankfully managed to then steer right and away from the dwarf tunnel. God. And it was so busy and so many lane changes and so many vehicles and so many roadworks and …….aaaargh….

The only saving grace was the Eiffel Tower..

We managed to see it briefly whilst driving around the Peripherique (Ha.. still managed to end up on it…!). God that was a tricky hour for both driver and navigator. Not a big fan of that route.!

So that was all the hard work done. We had only a couple of hundred km’s to go as we parked up at the tidy little village of Grenay. What a great relaxing finish to Europe. A free Aire in the village with free electric too.. incredibly generous of the locals – knowing that we would all visit the local shops and spend money. It really does work. We were now all done and home free….. OR WERE WE..?

Now you know that we sometimes get things wrong…and we occasionally fly close to the edge….! 

Well… as everyone is aware.. Omicron was the new variant of Covid which was hitting the world as we lounged around in Spain. We knew that we had to complete lots more paperwork to return home including a Passenger Locator Form and Covid test results. Well, we (me) got a bit confused and thought that just doing a Lateral Flow Test of our own whilst in France would suffice. So we uploaded it online this last night in Grenay. Only to awake the next morning (six hours before our Eurotunnel booking) to find an email saying this had been rejected……. And we now had to find a local pharmacy to get an Antigen certificate before we could travel…! Nooooo. And no-one round these parts speaks English….

Yet again Glenn & Michelle were up against it…This is how it went…. 

1- Panic – Christ we have only got till 4pm to get the Antigen test done AND a result obtained and put on the Eurotunnel website.

2- Pack up Ruby quick time ready to go

3- Check online and find two local ‘infirmari’s’ via the (French language) official website that would do the Antigen check

4- Walk quickly around town and find both places closed.! 

5- Speak with a lady in a nearby ‘ pharmacie’ (notta speaka da English) who very helpfully researches online and finds three ‘pharmacies’ in nearby Lievin with post codes. – But no phone numbers!

6- Research online, get phone number and call one- Unilab. (They find an English speaking colleague Lucinda)- ‘Yes we can do the test, it will take 12 hours to get a result…!Noooo. ‘ Actually no, sorry, it will take one hour….’ Phew

7- Drive like the wind to Lievin and see Lucinda- ‘Not possible’. We must have a French address and French phone number to send the result to…‘.! This is getting rather challenging. 

8- Lucinda’s colleague points out the ‘Pharmacie Cornuel-Paladini’ 200 metres up the road that may do them. She helpfully calls them and takes us out into the street to point the way. 

9- Wander calmly (!) into the pharmacie and they get the job done (still no English spoken here..) and she indicates we are now local celebrities so they will give us the result in five minutes. Wahoooo. ‘€25 each si’l vows plaít’- Bugga. 

10- Twenty minutes later we have the ‘Certificat Covid Numerique Eu’ 

11- Go to nearby McD’s for very late breakfast and upload the certificate to the Eurotunnel website. 

We now have two hours to travel the one-hour trip to Calais. Phew… Slow down. Chew slowly. 

Not quite the end of the story. …Michelle had to upload two more times on the way to Calais whilst sitting behind me in Ruby at the table. Our uploads had been declined for some reason saying ‘Incorrect document’. But hey, sod it. We drove to the Eurotunnel terminal and presumably arrived at the same time as the latest upload was verified. The guy on reception, plugged our ticket details in and waved us through…. ‘We have a problem with our Covid result’ we say. ‘Its fine’, he says. ‘If it accepts your details then all is well. Enjoy your trip’. Perhaps you can imagine our relief as we wander over to the Duty Free shop grinning like kids. No worries……!

And as a reminder..Boris had further restricted travel back to the UK and Macron was in the process of kicking everyone out two days later so we stepped out through a rapidly closing door. 

So now back in the UK we have to self isolate AND pay £35 each for a PCR test…!!! 

Incidentally the toll roads (Autopistas) appear to be in some kind of transition period throughout Spain. We passed through many unmanned toll booths and many where the road had been re-directed around the booths for some reason. We were worried that perhaps we should have been paying online for many of them however research shows that the government have ended many contracts and allow free usage until 2024 at least. – So get yourselves over quickly as it saves loads of €€€€€€€€s all down the east coast. 

And for those of you that are faintly interested…..Despite the free roads in Spain, the fast route up through France cost us about €132 (£112) to travel 785km (488 miles) of toll road. Is it worth it to save several hours driving through towns and villages? There are certainly compromise options in between but we have more to learn.

Did you know…

Millau Viaduct runs across the Tarn valley in France. The only way to cross the gorge prior to the construction of the viaduct was by using the main road. This wound its way slowly down each side of the valley to a narrow bridge over the river in Millau town centre.

A competition to design and build the structure was won by an engineering and architectural group headed up by French engineer Michel Virlogeux and British architect Sir Norman Foster

The Millau Viaduct was built in just three years, opening in 2004. It is the world’s tallest bridge at 343 metres high and it carries the main A75 from Paris to Beziers.

And its bloody beautiful…

What do we do in our downtime…!?

Europe at Last

7th December 2021

Well… at the end of the last blog we were in the throes of putting Ruby into the motorhome dealership in Paignton for the week in order to get the service and some warranty work done. As planned we visited the Big Yellow Storage company in Torquay and stuffed everything from Ruby into a store cupboard in a secure warehouse. This actually worked incredibly well despite having to pile everything onto a trolley, up a lift and into the small lockup. Surprisingly the eight days only cost us about £24… bargain. 

We spent the week in the Premier Inn in Torquay. One of our favourite hotels in our favoured resort. Mind you it is somewhat unsavoury in many areas with several beggars, drunks and yobs around…There are also great views, a lovely beach, harbour, cafés and places to visit. We had our tiny little Fiat Punto courtesy car which was as nippy as you like to get us around the local area and back and forth from Paignton to Torquay. 

So Ruby came out of her spa week all shiny and upgraded and once we had collected all the contents from the Big Yellow we were now BACK ON OUR ROADTRIP.- 12th Nov. 

We had left several extra days in case of delays so we had five days to get to Folkestone for our Eurotunnel ride to Calais. Now this part of the journey has numerous overnight pitches and we do not want to spend this blog just listing places in detail. So in the interest of brevity (unlike me!) we drove along the south coast in small steps, stopping at Bridport, Goodwood, Arundel, Bexhill on Sea and Folkestone (close to the Eurotunnel Terminal).

Goodwood Racecourse next door

Probably the highest excitement was our ‘wild’ camping night at Goodwood.

We were on a large car park immediately alongside the Goodwood racecourse overlooking the valleys and hillsides. There was a busy road nearby but we are pretty good at ignoring those now. However the bit we couldn’t sleep through was the battle going on around us. There were three or four of us camping in the car park and a late arriving VW Campervan parked closer to us than was necessary as the car park is large. No problem though. However at 1am we were aware of a car engine running somewhere behind us and it turns out that some Youth was sitting in his car (watching a movie?) with his engine running to keep warm. Well Mr VW camper got upset with this and eventually could be heard getting out, approaching the car and shouting ‘Well why the f**k do you need to sit there for hours with your engine running at one in the morning? We are trying to sleep‘- This clearly angered said Youth who responded with angry words of his own… started his car, did a large noisy wheel spin on the gravel, yelled his compliments out of the window to Mr VW including calling him a ‘C**t’ and speeding off, up and down the road several times. Our concern was that Youth may not have known which vehicle Mr VW had got out from and that we could now be the target of Youth returning with a gang of knife and gun wielding mates..!  And to make matters worse… Mr & Mrs VW had decided that they were now at risk so they packed up all their stuff and drove off by 2am…. ’Thanks guys-poke the bear and then drive off !’ – Thankfully the gang of knife and gun wielding mates did not turn up but our sleep was in short supply. The excitement of wild camping eh..!

These extra days gave us the chance to do some laundry, sort some admin, and discuss some plans about our trip into Europe. 

17th Nov and we left our quiet little site six miles from the Eurotunnel terminal and got proper excited about the next big step on our travels. We always get holiday fever in these moments. Bit of excitement, bit of anxiety. Lots of big smiles. 

Despite thoughts of being turned back at the Eurotunnel it was dead easy. Check-in, grab a coffee, wait a while, drive through to English passport control, drive forward to French passport control, get checked to make sure our gas bottles were turned off, explosives (bomb) test samples were taken and then after another short wait, drive straight onto the train. Well I say straight on, you have to come in at an angle and then squeeze along  10 or 11 carriages to park up for the 20 minute trip to La Belle France… Just sitting there in Ruby. Nothing to see. Thought it would be an ideal time to take some lunch. So there we were 115 metres below the English Channel making cheese and pickle sandwiches to eat before France. (Perhaps tuna may have been more appropriate!).

Speedy Bording..

We were so surprised how easy the process was. The whole Eurotunnel terminal area was very quiet and stress free. We had already completed an online Advanced Passenger Information form and added our NHS Covid vaccination scans so all was good. We were never even checked for dairy or meat products that we were not supposed to carry… Oooops!

And before you know it, there we were, driving on the right and into Europe…at last…

We had no sites booked at all in France but had some ideas from our ever-present ‘SearchforSites’ app. All we knew was that we planned on being at Le Chateau owned by Michelles bro and sis-in-law, close to Toulouse, by Sat 20th Nov. First night then was a perfect, safe start at the Aire Sainte Claire. This was a small site just within the town of Neufchátel en Bray in Normandie and cost just €12 (about £10) for the night. You simply drive up to the barrier, pull out a ticket and squeeze into a pitch along with the other dozen or so motorhomes/camper vans. There are toilets, showers (extra €2), washing machines, electric hookup and a pay machine. The next morning you pay at the machine and drive off. No humans to speak with. We were surprised at the lack of Brits on this site, consisting mainly of French, Belgians and Dutch. It was dead easy, but of course we had to struggle at first so as not to mess up. Parking outside on the road first and walking around the site before eventually taking the plunge. Our first night on foreign soil with Ruby and a great sleep was had plus a nearby supermarket to test our skills. 

We have both lived in Germany for a few years many moons ago and have visited Europe many times so are comfortable with Europe in general. However, with a motorhome, Brexit and Covid, things got a lot more complicated. Can’t even speak any kind of French or Spanish so its all fun and games!

Next day (16th) Michelle took to the wheel and we pressed on heading south as we would do for many days to come.  This time we took the plunge and found a free Aire alongside a lake at a place called Luant. Nothing exciting in itself but the location was safe, quiet and lacking in any boy racers, passing traffic or yobs. The site even provide a tap for drinking water, a drain for ‘grey waste’ and facilities to clean our toilet cassette. Why can’t the Brits look after travellers better.?

Anyway another step in a southerly direction with the added anticipation of having to top up our LPG gas. You may recall (if you have been paying attention!) that we had a new LPG gas system (Gaslow) fitted in Ruby which was easier and cheaper. Well we now had to fill this up using a different adaptor to the one in the UK. This was fun. No idea how the garages worked let alone filling this up. Wisely we decided to pull into a quiet motorway (autoroute) services as the staff would likely be more used to idiot foreigners and we would have more time to mess about. Just as well really. We had to go into the shop, pay ‘an amount’ of our choice (we elected for €5) then return to the pump and using the new adapter fill up the tanks. This almost worked however the adapter wasn’t tight enough and the gas sprayed out the side…. Oooooh. Eventually the top-up was completed and I had to return to the shop to get €1.30 change. Wow. This is sooooooo cheap. 

Oh.. and they don’t call It LPG in France … it is GPL (and later GLP in Spain…!)

Moving on, we later arrived halfway down France at a beautiful site at Collonges la Rouge. This was supposed to cost €10 per night as it sits alongside a big tourist hotspot – the village itself. Built hundreds of years ago in red stone and overlooking a  luscious green valley. Absolutely typical French scene. However, this is the point when we began to appreciate how much of the tourist industry completely shuts down both in France and later in Spain, after November. Not one bar, cafe, shop, museum or building was open in the whole village. Mightily disappointing as the location was so good. However every cloud has a silver lining….. there was no charge for camping in the large car park!. So another quiet, very dark night and a great sleep nestled alongside some woodland (no… not actually lying on the ground-we were sleeping in Ruby alongside some woodland…!)

20th Nov and another 200 miles or so towards Mich’s brothers home. Our research had shown that the French also provide motorhome facilities for free in some autoroute services so we decided to give it a go. It is incredible. A dedicated area providing toilet cleaning facilities, drains and drinking water supply… all for free. Amazing. – Mind you…the drinking water was bloody awful tasting and had to be replaced the next day. But hey. It would not kill you… probably..!

Free at Autoroute

We then arrived for a four night stay with bro and sis-in-law giving us the chance to catch up after too many years apart. We were hosted extremely well but we still elected to sleep in Ruby outside in the driveway. After all, our bedding, clothing and all our needs were in there. It was however brilliant to be able to use a real toilet and shower for a few days and for Michelle to do another load or two of laundry. (Always a challenge whilst on the road). One exciting point during this stop over… we had the use of the household electric supply running 50 metres and more from the house into Ruby. We fashioned an adaptor to convert the UK plug into the French socket. Trouble is….. this was an indoor adaptor and we were outdoors. In addition the weather took a downward turn and the weather plummeted to -2 º. The hot electric cable and cold damp air clashed somewhat and the adaptor melted and started to burn….. right next to the side of Ruby. Really lucky not to have a burnt out wreck me thinks. ! Lesson learned and rectified two days later. 

The highpoint of the visit (apart from spending family time of course) was the discovery of a 5 litre box of reasonable supermarket red wine for just €10…. When I say ‘decent’, I mean that it didn’t make your teeth turn black..!

So after a few relaxing days, and before the forecast heavy rain arrived, we set off south once again towards the Spanish border. Our plans at this stage were solely based on the weather forecast. Spain looked much the better option compared to southern France or Northern Italy. So it was simply a case of popping around the mountains of the Pyrenees and heading towards the sun. Simples.

Family Chateau in Sales

Well the trip that day was horrendous as we failed to outrun the serious heavy rain all day but thankfully the quiet roads helped us survive. We had been aware that the roads in France were much quieter (away from the big cities) than the UK and this proved to be the case all the way. We tested the options of paid toll roads (Peage) versus the main road ‘free’ routes which was quite interesting. The tolls are not massively expensive, and the ‘free’ routes are not massively slower however, so far we feel that paying the tolls generally makes sense over long distances. It is not only the speedier journey but the added benefit of less gear changes, less tyre, brake wear and cheaper mpg costs that balance this out. (Other opinions are available..!). It is nice to occasionally drop along onto the small French tree lined avenues and quaint villages to see the wonderful countryside however. 

We ended up on the night of 24th Nov pulling up into a free Aire alongside an Olive Farm with shop. There is an expectation that one makes a purchase in the shop however it was a pretty poor shop. And furthermore the promised toilet and shower block was awful. The kind of thing you would expect in a third world country really. But it was free… so we did the right thing and bought a small packet of croutons in the shop at about €2. This was little more than an overnight stopover so we started up to drive the few miles into Spain- The rain having completely stopped. Exciting. Well the excitement was immediate. As we set off along the driveway out of the Olive Farm we looked right and saw what we thought were big clouds in the distance. This was a real ‘double-take’ moment as we looked again to note that this was in fact the snow capped peaks of the Pyrenees just 50 miles or so away. Awesome. Absolutely breathtaking against the clear blue sky. Had to stop for photos and to suck up the view.

Pyrenees from afar. Wow..

Thankfully we did not have to drive up on those mountains and could just tiptoe past on the eastern side of the Pyrenees on the scenic D914 below Perpignan. A twisting turning, scenic journey with a straight forward drive across the unmanned border point. Spain. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode…

Did you know? The Channel Tunnel (also referred to as the Chunnel) is a 50km (35 mile) railway tunnel that connects Folkestone in Kent with Calais beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover. Construction began in 1988 and it opened in 1994. At its lowest point, it is 75 metres (250 ft) deep below the sea bed and 115 metres (380 ft) below sea level. At 38 kilometres (23.5 mile), the tunnel has the longest underwater section of any tunnel in the world, and is the third longest railway tunnel in the world. The speed limit for trains through the tunnel is 160 kph (100 mph). The Channel Tunnel is owned and operated by the company Getlink. The tunnel carries high-speed Eurostar passenger trains, the Eurotunnel Shuttle for road vehicles and international freight trains.

6 Hotels, 22 nights, 5 Counties

7th Nov 2021

Yes, we know. We are supposed to be ‘on the road’ – lapping up the freedom and travelling the world. However we have spent the last 6 weeks staying mainly in hotels in several places throughout Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, Devon and Somerset. 

Well an opportunity came up to earn some dosh and catch up with old acquaintances. As many of you know (especially as I mentioned it briefly in the previous blog!), Michelle and I have both worked freelance for a national photography company for many years. (In my case, many, many years!). I take loads of photography gear-(cameras, tripods, studio lights, posing tubs etc )-and spend my days taking photos of university students (graduants)  while they are holding onto a piece of plastic tube with a ribbon on, standing against a fancy background. The company provide the backgrounds, the laptops, and the camera memory cards and such like and at the end of the day I hand the memory card back ….. Michelle welcomes the graduates and families and get them into the studio either as pre-paid customers or selling packages on the day. She is often a Sales Manager and looks after a team of Sales Staff at the events…and get paid.. £ . We are offered ceremonies at many locations round the country and we accept or decline the offer dependent on times/places. It turns out that due to the Covid backlog we had the chance to do many events, over several weeks so it wouldn’t impact on our travels for too long….. The beauty of this is that we can accept offers of places we have not been to before, get put into a hotel and get fed and watered throughout the days/week at the company expense. We do have to find our way to the photography venue often in unfamiliar locations, which can be tricky, but on arrival we meet up with many other photographers and sales staff that we have known for many years.- Some we consider as friends and some are a pain in the ass, but always interesting and entertaining. We then set up the photo studios using the exact same layout and settings as we do every single time. Home from Home. Whats not to like.!  It can be really busy on occasion but often it is pretty quiet and sociable.

As you can imagine, we regularly eat dinner out together as a group and sometimes when things get out of hand, we are grateful that the camera has ‘auto focus’ the next morning as the students photos would likely be very blurry.. !

Some of the crew..

Anyway this is meant to be a travel blog so I will just add that we have worked in Bath, Bristol, Weston-super-Mare, Cirencester, Southampton , High Wycombe and Plymouth over the last six weeks so we still enjoyed our travels albeit not in Ruby. Those of you that are paying attention will note that Bournemouth was mentioned in the previous blog. We did however opt out of that ceremony as it had the look of being far too busy and full of intimidating , ungrateful graduants with large family groups. Yuk..!

So we will step out of our travel blog for a few pages and share some of our photography moments just to keep you entertained. (Bored!) …

The two months went a bit like this- 

2nd Sep- Bath for ten days (the best venue of them all)- this is mentioned in detail on our previous blog.

28th Sep Cirencester – Travelodge for two nights while working for two days. We are not fans of Travelodges mainly because they don’t tend to have anywhere to eat. Fortunately there is a Greggs immediately alongside meaning we could grab a sausage roll at 6.30am before work….. I am only slightly joking…!

The Finished Products above

3rd Sep and we moved on to Southampton and we were provided thankfully with a Premier Inn, close to the city centre. We really enjoyed this as we could spend our evenings after work trying out one of the dozens of eating establishments within five minutes walk. Trouble is that the Premier Inn for some reason could only produce Curry/Vegan Curry/Chilli for evening meals for the whole week due to supply problems. Strangely they could manage to obtain the fullest of breakfast menus every day.! One evening we decided to order a Chinese meal via JustEat which was delivered to the hotel reception. We sat on the side of the spare bed in our room eating Chinese from the top of the ironing board, washed down with a bottle of cheap plonk from Tesco Express… Classy. !

Chow Mein- Ironing Board Style

As we had several spare days after working, we booked an additional three nights at the same hotel (despite the limited menu) so we could have a good look around this most interesting of cities.

We really enjoyed doing the tourist bit which included a trip to the Isle of Wight which was very exciting. We simply walked the short distance from the hotel to the Red Funnel terminal and caught the ferry as foot passengers. ‘Would you like the concession rate of £14 return’ says the nice lady on reception. ‘What do you mean? concession? What is that for?’ – ‘For the over 60s’ she says. Cheeky mare. ‘OK then..Course we do!’– I quickly replied anyhow – (she never even asked for proof of age…!).

The Isle of Wight trip consisted of three ferries and six buses all within an eight hour visit. It was an interesting trip which showed us around half the island but it was not enough to get a true picture of the place. But enough to be impressed by the bus company…! It was really pleasant and particularly enjoyable sailing back into Southampton alongside a beautiful sunset. 

11th Sep we returned to collect Ruby from storage for a few days and stayed local at our favoured Home Farm in Burnham on Sea again. Managed to avoid smashing my head into the wall of the swimming pool this time! Got the laundry done..

14th Sep saw us having a brilliant trip, popping down to Yeovil to visit family for the day. This was well overdue and great to catch up. 

The evening afterwards we parked up at The Haymaker pub near to Chard in Somerset. This is one of those ‘free’ nights that cost a fortune. We get the details from a book called Britstops which is supplied for a £10 annual payment. You then call or visit the pub/restaurant/vineyard and the like. ‘Can we stay in the car park overnight for free?’  we ask- ‘yes indeed, but we would hope you would eat/drink in the bar’ – good stuff, however we end up paying £45 for dinner and drinks in the restaurant. We keep falling for this ..doh ! 

Free overnight parking… £45..!

15th Sep was pretty exciting for me. I met up for breakfast with a gang of eight mates that I used to work closely with about 300 years ago. We spent a terrific couple of hours chatting over a full breakfast at the Monks Yard restaurant in Somerset catching up and comparing retirement notes. -(Its strange how none of us looks any older…..until the menus arrive. Then there is the clamour by everyone reaching down to grab their specs in an attempt to read the print. I also noted lots of hearing aids hanging around..! It was really good to catch up with a group that spent many years working closely together through often challenging incidents. 

Michelle meanwhile sat in Ruby munching a bowl of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes in the gravel car park !

Later that evening we booked into a rather dull site further into North Somerset called Withy Water. The excitement came however when we took a long walk alongside the Huntspill river. We were sat on the banking trying to catch a good look at the many kingfishers swooshing by when suddenly, right in front of us we both saw an otter…..yes… your actual otter.. quite a large one too. Just one quick view of the back of it splashing down into the water…but wow! never seen one in the wild before. 

So, after returning Ruby back to storage we got back to work for the next ceremony. 

17th Sep in High Wycombe for the New Bucks Uni graduations. We managed to get back into a Premier Inn for the week and they had a full evening menu in this one… Yet again we were working with a bunch of freelance photography buddies (different ones this time) to spend our time with. The work was somewhat busier on occasion added to which both Michelle and I managed to get hold of a heavy cold through the week but we pushed through..!

22nd Sep and we arrived early in Plymouth with two days to spare prior to our next gig. We decided therefore to splash out and pay for a couple of nights in the slightly posher Crowne Plaza hotel in the city, overlooking Plymouth Hoe. This was a most relaxing couple of days and the chance to shake off our colds and see another slice of Plymouth. And for those of you that are curious about these things.. we took the chance of using a proper launderette (rather than on a camp site) to wash our rather large pile of dirty laundry. We did our first actual Service Wash, (bit like on East Enders!)  which was actually pretty efficient and good value to be fair. Might do it again one day.. We really are Living the Dream.. lol…!

Now this bit was quite fun… the Crowne Plaza is home to a Marco Pierre White posh restaurant upstairs with great decor, fittings and views. Our hotel package included breakfast, dinner and a complimentary bottle of wine in our room. We enjoyed our first breakfast in the Marco Pierre White restaurant and after a busy day walking round the city we later returned to the restaurant after booking our evening meal. We were very early in order to have a few drinks and enjoyed a cheeky little cocktail and started on a bottle of expensive red wine. (After all we were now wearing shiny, clean clothes so could dine out with confidence!) On starting to drink the wine I realised that we had not had the complimentary wine in our room. I reached for my mobile and checked on my hotel booking email to confirm what it said – and yes our bottle of wine was part of the offer. I also noticed with horror that it said ‘DINNER ON ONE EVENING IN DRAKES BAR AND RESTAURANT AND A BOTTLE OF WINE IN THE ROOM ON ARRIVAL’. Hang on. Drakes bar aaaargh!. Not  the posh Marco Pierre White restaurant. – Oops. So we quickly finished our drink, tiptoed away from the Marco Pierre White waitresses and took the stairs down to the ground floor for our cheap and cheerful supper. Damn.. Well Glenn.. ‘always read the f****** instructions.’ 

Anyway it resolved to bring us back down to earth as the next day we were back into the Travelodge down the hill into Plymouth city centre for four nights (provided by the company). Not too shabby to be honest, but again, no restaurant so we had to enjoy the delights of Plymouth’s varied dining establishments. Tell you what though… people suggest that we are in a recession. We got turned away from three restaurants on a cold and windy Tuesday night because they were fully booked. The place was buzzing and there was plenty of money splashing around. Plymouth was Ok. 

28th Sep we voluntarily visited a surprisingly nice Premier Inn alongside the M5 at Bridgwater. Brand new and with great helpful staff. We had arranged to join family members for breakfast here before grabbing a separate family breakfast in Weston two days later. Gawd have we managed to stuff our faces with hotel food over the last two months. 

To finish the month off we took Ruby out of storage again and spent two nights in a tatty campsite in Weston super Mare. That was kind of ok as it suited our purposes but we did have an exciting time escaping. Three days and two nights of heavy rain meant that our wheel-spinning episode across the sodden grass was a rather tricky affair. Just survived. 

You may recall that we spent the entire winter from Dec 2020 to mid April 2021 at the Tudor Park campsite in Slimbridge- due to Lockdown. We decided to re-visit for a couple of days whilst in Gloucestershire and we were welcomed back in a big way. We felt like we were part of the family when the owners realised we were there and dropped everything to spend time chatting. Very nice of them to remember us fondly.  Speaking of family, we had yet another lovely family meal at the Tudor Arms restaurant next door to complete a lovely few days.

This then was the end of the photographic work period for some time. We both really enjoy the work (despite being retired…!) and it gave us the opportunity to gather some funds to pay for fuel and campsites for our European tour. Many of our nights in Ruby over this period have mainly been to fill the gaps between working. A little frustrating at times as we are increasingly keen to get back on the road. However we are being patient and taking the opportunity to catch up with family and lotsa friends in the meantime. 

The next steps are in preparation for our travels into Europe on 17th November. We have the Eurotunnel booked (exciting. !) and some basic idea of where we might go. We have left the Somerset area and are currently in Devon. One night in a gravel car park in Haldon, near Newton Abbot, one night in a noisy pub car park in Kingsteignton and two nights in the Twelve Oaks campsite in the same area. Bit of a holding pattern really whilst awaiting a week in Paignton. 

Ruby is getting some well deserved servicing done, warranty work and some checks on the gas/electric/water/heating etc (Habitation Checks) in Paignton for a week. We are therefore once more in a hotel….! Premier Inn, (again) in Torquay. Why Paignton? Well this is where we bought Ruby from and since we have great confidence in the company we bought her from, we are sticking with them for after sales work.

Next question. Where do we put all our stuff whilst the work is being carried on on Ruby? Well we have booked a small storeroom within the Big Yellow Storage company in Torquay. Cost about £20 to keep all our bits crammed in for the week. Result.

Next stop >> Europe. Yay…....>>

 Did you know…The Isle of Wight is a few miles off the coast of Hampshire, close to Portsmouth and Southampton and separated by the Solent. It is around 24 miles wide and 12 miles from the North to the South. The main public ferries are accessed from Lymington, Southampton and Portsmouth via the Wightlink, Red Funnel and Hovertravel services.

Work Stops Play

28th Sept 2021

So… it has been a while since our last blog and for good reason. Our travels have slowed down over the last 6-7 weeks partly due to long term planning and partly with late changes. 

It was time to catch up with connecting with the Somerset/Gloucestershire area families following a brilliant and exciting spring and summer. 

We were sad to leave the Lake District after what was our favourite location so far and having enjoyed some of the best weather anyone could hope for in that part of the country. 

1st August and we were hammering (65mph!) down the M6 and M5 into north Devon with a coffee and cake stop at Michelle folks along the way. We had a booking for daughters x2, sons-in-law x2, granddaughters x2 and grandsons x3 at the Riverside Campsite, South Molton for four nights. A joint effort of accommodation with the gang in an eight person tent, me and Michelle in Ruby joined by a motley collection of grandkids (switched each night). The joys of spending two nights with twin boys -11 months old-overnight in a large cot in a tiny motorhome was officially ‘exciting’ ! 

And I tell you what.. it was totally brilliant. The weather was kind, plenty to do, and fun evenings sitting outside playing cards (Uno!) till midnight trying not to disturb the neighbours too much. It was a great way to spend quality time with the gang in a relaxed environment. A trip out to the Milky Way theme park was also fun and gave us the chance to babysit the twins whilst everyone else went on the rides…! Ha! The site itself was very disappointing, dirty and untidy but we pushed through it and had a memorable time. 

5th August and we pitched up at a pop-up site for three nights at the football club at beautiful Bourton-on-the-Water.

Rose Tree lunch

The weather was less good but the site was close into the town so we had a good chance to look round. Had a terrific lunch at the Rose Tree restaurant on the Sunday which was a real treat. Don’t know about you but often times cafes and restaurants are only average at best and often disappoint. This place was worthy of recommendation. 

Then we decided to head to the hills.. well not very high to be honest, but we wanted to wild camp again so we headed over to Rodborough Common and stayed a couple of nights nestled into one of the many car parks on the hilltop overlooking Stroud and surrounding valleys.  Actually a great place to stay over as long as you don’t mind the risk of a Highland bull or two rubbing against the motorhome at any time of night or day trying to scratch an itch….This gave us the chance to do what we enjoy the most…. walking up and down hills! 

One of the things that irritate both of us whilst out walking is the dog owners’ habit of allowing their dog to jump up at you and put muddy paws and saliva all over your clothing. Well, as we arrived back at Ruby following a long walk we discovered a camper van parked next to us. Fine. No probs. But her dog then ran right up to us slavering, growling, barking and generally being aggressive. As we stepped back and protested the owner said ‘sorry, I assumed you were dog lovers’…  Why? !Why would she assume we were dog lovers ? And if we were, would we really enjoy her snarling Fido trying to eat us..?! 

A few words were had including ‘If I loved dogs I would have one rather than sharing yours..’ however we made up later on as we were going to be spending the night on adjoining bits of gravel. We often feel that we are obliged to have a dog because we have a motorhome..! 

We then had a couple of days to spare so we revisited Portishead and tried successfully to park up for a night or two at the recreational Lake Grounds. Lots of grass nearby, view of the sea and the shipping lanes plus a public toilet through the daytime nearby. Turns out that we would be spending many nights at this location over coming weeks. Very convenient as it is close to Trina and ready access to the storage at the garage at our (rented out) house. 

Portishead Lake Grounds

It was transpiring that a large chunk of photography work was becoming available in the weeks ahead. I had offered to take on some Police award ceremony photos in Portishead plus we had been offered many University graduation photo events in the area. Me taking snaps and Michelle as Sales Manager. This seemed ideal as the summer weather was coming to a close and we could make a bit of money to keep us on the road. So we decided to book quite a busy schedule of work for September and October. Thought we were supposed to be retired.! Most ‘road trip’ travellers take on fruit/veg picking to keep the finances coming in but we are too old for all that bending down stuff..!  But hey, we both love photography work so why not.. This meant we would have to plan to stay round the South West for a couple of months and hold back on the travels. What a perfect combination though. Suits us – though we do very quickly get itchy feet again. 

First off though we had an appointment to house-sit for a few weeks. Wow. A real bed. Big shower. Peace and quiet and loads of space. Now don’t get me wrong, we love our lifestyle. Three Year Road Trip. Freedom. Fresh air. But it was sooo nice to just stretch out for a while. Mind you we were still busy. Hosting family members, mowing lawns, feeding birds/fish and giving Ruby a good wash and polish etc but it was a nice change.

This was unfortunately shorter than planned due to the knock on effect of Covid restrictions on others so we stepped away from BIG and back into COSY with Ruby. Once again we headed off to the Lake Grounds at Portishead on 24th August with photography jobs in the forefront of our next several weeks.  

27th August we trundled over to the Gower Peninsula in South Wales to the Pitton Cross camp site alongside some of the best beaches on the country including Three Cliffs and Rhosilli. 

Weirdly.. as we pulled into the site Michelle and I suddenly realised that we had been there before… Four years earlier we visited with our tent…  spent one night then scuttled back home.! There was torrential rain and stormy winds which had no intention of reducing. Thankfully we had chance to enjoy the site this time.  Lots of places to walk and more importantly lots of places to swim in the sea.. Trina joined us for our five nights here with the first three being terrific weather for lounging on the beach and playing in the sea. Can’t beat it. We did have some slightly troublesome neighbours on a nearby pitch. Large group of Swansea’s finest 20+ year olds partying loudly. Thankfully that had sufficient respect to fall asleep by 11 p.m. (having being drinking since 11 a.m.- bless them.!) 

The next bit of camping/work was pretty awesome. We had been booked for eight days of graduation photography at a well know university campus near Bath. So I contacted the nice Estates Manager on site saying ‘we are photographers and we are travelling in a motorhome, will there be any problems parking? It’s quite big’. She then says ‘that won’t be a problem, do you just want to park or do you want to camp overnight..?’ Wow.. sounds interesting. Anyway she tells us we can park in a remote tarmac car park for the whole period though there will be a £10 daily charge via the automated Justpay system. No electric and no facilities but hey. Looked good. We turned up on 2nd September having collected my photography kit and spoke with security on site. ‘Yes, there is no problem with the car park. And there are toilets and showers alongside that you can use’ and they directed us there.  Bigger Wow. Anyway it then turns out that this car park overlooked the green hills and fields for miles around, was next to a walled garden with picnic tables and sun brollies and the toilet block was new, clean and with lovely hot water.   AND….. the car parking charges were suspended as it was Graduation Week. Blimey. How bloody brilliant. ! Don’t want to get over excited but.. the grounds of the Uni contain beautiful gardens and a lake with herons, kingfishers, cormorants and more. An absolute gem of a week was had. We both loved it.

Obviously. We had a day off on the Sunday so took the opportunity to take the bus straight from the campus into Bath city centre for the day and Sunday lunch at Browns restaurant just alongside the cathedral. 

Browns at Bath. Lovely Sunday Roast.

Oh! we had to take some photos of the graduates too but that was also relaxed and enjoyable. Win win. As you can tell, we had a good time. 

Following weekend involved another couple of days at one of the University of West of England (UWE) campuses which involved us parking once again in Portishead for a few great days. Not much of a road trip here then! 

15th September we booked four nights at West End camp site in Weston super Mare for our next gig at the Winter Gardens over the weekend. Don’t bother with West End site. It’s a shocker. And still cost £21 per night.  Ancient, untidy, dirty… yukky. The toilet cleaner was at least 75 years old and carried out his duties wearing his old brogue shoes, ‘Sunday best’ trousers and dirty Arran jumper. There is no way he could even bend below the waist let alone scrub toilets.! ‘I live on site and I only pay half the rent in exchange for cleaning up once a day’ he tells me. Eeergh.  But we did spend a few fun hours  grand-parenting one evening. 

Look Away now..Sorry.!

Thankfully we moved on to Home Farm In Burnham on Sea which cost £22 per night, was very clean, modern, good surroundings, bar and restaurant..AND free use of the indoor pool.. A much better site for three nights. Mind you all was not perfect.. I managed to crack my head into the poolside wall whilst doing the front crawl. Forgot to look up..! Very nearly knocked myself out and left a huge bump and pulled a large slice of scalp off. Gawd did that hurt..! Ruined my good looks.!

This also gave us the opportunity to meet up with some family and friends and treat ourselves to a well overdue date-night Indian  meal in Burnham. It was strange for me to be back into an area I knew so well, having lived in Burnham for 23 years or so and having been away for over 13 years. We certainly bumped into several ‘old’ friends and acquaintances in this short visit. Even managed to show Michelle the delights of climbing up Brent Knoll. What a great place to get superb views all the way from South Wales, Minehead, Glastonbury and a whole lot more round the 360º viewpoint.

Due to another Police photography job we spent yet another couple of nights at the Lake Grounds in Portishead. People must think we are permanent fixtures with the amount of time we spend there. It works a treat and does not get in anyones way (we hope) and we manage to sleep really well mostly. 

By the 24th September we were tired out from all this work….!  so decided to go abroad (!) and headed off for a break to Brecon in Wales for five nights booked at the Brecon Beacons Camping and Motorhome site. Another good site with clean modern facilities and surprisingly busy for late September. Our planning was not that brilliant however – it looked on the map as if we were camped directly below Pen-y-Fan mountain so we could step out of the site and climb the hills. Ooops. Turns out we would have to walk 3.5 miles just to get to the bottom of the mountain….! [Did I mention before how poor my map reading skills were……] This was quite a big problem as we were not keen on taking Ruby out to fight for space in rough car parks on a busy weekend. We decided to take a long walk along the nearby canal instead. Not nearly as interesting or challenging so we took the decision to take a ‘long-cut’ back across some hills. Far too challenging this time. Exhausted by the time I had accidentally directed us up and down several hills unnecessarily. Still… it was a day out. 

It was a bit of a surprise on arriving into Wales. So far behind England being released from Covid restrictions. Got told off loads of times for not using masks. ! Makes you appreciate how much we have moved on at home.

As forecast, the weather then took a turn after a couple of days. Autumn has now fully arrived and I am writing this (28th Sept) whilst it is raining and raining and raining some more outside. To be fair, this is the first long bout of rain we have met since May so we are not complaining. It therefore makes this the ideal time to publish this blog and finish off for now. We are off to another chapter tomorrow morning which involves more work…. we are taking Ruby back into our storage site in Weston super Mare area for the first time in ten months whilst we spend time in a hotel …(unfortunately only a scruffy Travelodge (other hotel groups are available)) whilst we spend a week taking photos of University graduates in Cirencester.  Then Southampton followed by Plymouth and then Bournemouth. They say never work with children and animals…. well we would like to add students to that list…! 

Mind you…. this is supposed to be a Road Trip… !

Did you know…. The Brecon Beacons are a mountain range in South Wales In a narrow sense, the name refers to the range of Old Red Sandstone peaks which lie to the south of Brecon. Sometimes referred to as “the central Beacons” they include South Wales’ highest mountain, Pen Y Fan. The range forms the central section of the Brecon Beacons National Park, a designation which also encompasses ranges both to the east and the west of “the central Beacons”. This much wider area is also commonly referred to as “the Brecon Beacons”, and it includes the Black Mountains to the east.