16th December 2018 Amsterdam, Holland

It took us 3.5 hours (160 miles) to arrive in Amsterdam but the weather improved throughout our journey, so we arrived with the sun shining.

Our Sat Nav told us we’d arrived about 700m before the entrance, so if ever that happens IMG_20181214_125830to you keep going across the intersection and it is up on the left hand side. Access to the campsite was very straightforward, apart from an irate couple trying to get out at the same time we were coming in. Never leave your exit until the last minute before you get charged for another day!

Amsterdam City Camp is a fully enclosed site with secure access. It is a self check in kiosk and we paid for three nights with electric (6amps). There is free fresh water and an emptying point on site. Pitches are definitely not six metres apart – think more along the lines of an aire – but when we were there everyone was considerate of each other.

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Our journey into the city was easy too. A ten minute walk from the site and you are at the ferry terminal where you can take a fifteen minute ride (free) into the centre of Amsterdam. You are also able to take your bicycles on too, but be mindful there are no seats.

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On our first day in the city we were distinctly underwhelmed as the first place you come across is the Old Town, that is so busy just like London. All we could smell was cannabis and it was so frenetic with trams, daredevil cyclists and dumb tourists (us) not watching where we’re walking!

We managed to find a little cafe bar and had a warming gluhwein before getting the ferry back.

 

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However, the next day we came in on the bicycles and while looking at the map we were given some tips by a local gentleman. He sent us off in the direction of the Jordaan area and gave us specific instructions of a wonderful bar/cafe that served amazing apple pie.

We’d told him of our disappointment the day before so it was great to get some brilliant advice. As we cycled away from the centre, the feel of the city became much calmer and friendly so we locked the bikes up near the cafe and stumbled across a local market.

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IMG_20181215_124602IMG_20181215_124852It was especially cold that day so after a wander around we headed into the Papenieland Cafe (founded in 1642), where coffee and apple pie was duly ordered. The cafe had a lovely warm feeling about it and the staff were very friendly and relaxed. When we’d had our second cup of coffee we headed back out and just cycled all around the west canals, taking in the sights and sounds of the city.

 

We made it to the small Christmas Market in Museumplein opposite the Rikj Museum, it did have an ice rink where loads of children were making the most of it and having great fun. As it was getting cold we started our way back to the ferry, picking up provisions on the way.

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As we arrived at the terminal, the ferry was just about to leave but we made it with seconds to spare! To round off a great day, we watched Strictly Come Dancing and enjoyed a wonderful turkey tagine and red wine.

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For the final day we left the bicycles behind, and we’d had snow the day before so thought it unwise to cycle in. This time we headed to the east side and wandered (briefly) into the red light district, curiosity getting the better of us!

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The canals in the Old Town area felt much more relaxed, maybe as it was a Sunday there seemed to be less traffic around. We mooched our way in and out of the side streets and canals, ending up in a nice bar and having two beers each (2 large, 2 small)…for a whopping 24€!

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We agree that we need to come back to Amsterdam another time and maybe go further out from the centre. Many people say how beautiful the city is but we don’t feel we’ve seen it in all it’s glory this time.

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13th December 2018 Bruges, Belgium

 

Our Eurotunnel trip went without a hitch as usual. We were at the port an hour and a half before our train so were able to buy our headlight deflectors from The AA Shop. We’d left it to the last minute which is not like us!

Our number was called and we drove on to the train, then within 35 minutes we were across the other side in France. For those curious about the train, it is so easy to access even with a large vehicle like ours. They sort you into cars, vans etc. then you join an orderly queue and you slowly drive onto the train. Staff pull you forward to the required position then place a chock behind one wheel. Once you’ve put your vehicle in first gear and wind your windows down, you’re done!

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Within an hour and 45 minutes (73 miles)we were at the campsite in Brugge, Belgium. The journey was very pleasant and the directions to the site were spot on.

Camping Memling is in a quiet residential street, with a forest/park adjacent to it where you could walk your pooch. The check-in is self-service and very easy to navigate, where it gives you your pitch number and a very detailed site and city map. It is around 25€ a night including electric at 6amps which we felt was reasonable, considering the proximity to a major city and the quality of the facilities.

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We parked up and headed off into Bruges on foot to do a recce. It takes about 40 minutes to walk in across the Kruispoort city gate, and you do have to watch out for cyclists! Brugge has four remaining city gates dating back to the 15th Century and the Kruispoort is the best preserved one. Our first views of this city were beautiful with the windmills, canal and sunshine – we fell in love with the place straight away.

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We followed the signs to the centre and walked along the cobbled streets to the large market in the centre, where a small Christmas Market is underway. Gluhwein was on sale so it would have been rude not to imbibe, but…it still does not taste the same as it does in Germany!

As it was getting dark, we headed back home calling into Aldi on the way back. There is also a Lidl next door, with both being about a five minute walk from the campsite – perfect!

Over the next couple of days we cycled in which took about 15 minutes, but goodness the cobbled streets make it a bit of a bone shaker! There are so many little streets you can amble down, then you come across the canal and its bridges which are a delight.

There are so many places to lock your bicycles, so once we’d found a spot we continued to walk around the surrounding streets just taking everything in. The city has a really safe feeling about it and we both really enjoyed just mooching about. We did however indulge in a waffle and hot chocolate (20€ in total) at The Old Chocolate House. The cafe is upstairs and is a very old fashioned, quaint place and was full of Brits but don’t let that put you off!

Our new bicycles have been well and truly christened, but it is so nice to finally have a bicycles that fits me (Angela) It is a larger frame (men’s) so much more comfortable, but now we’re on the look out for a funky bicycle seat cover and bell – maybe in Amsterdam…?

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10th December 2018 We’re off!

During the month of November while Angela was at work I had a chance to meet up with family and friends. Also it gave me plenty of time to sort the van out ready for our travels.

We are very fortunate to be able to store things at my mum’s house. While we are both working we bring various items back to the van and before we set off on our travels we lighten the load by taking any unwanted items back again. We are only allowed to weigh a total of 4,000kg which is not a lot of payload really but we’re pretty much there!

After saying our farewells in Oxford we set off and have just spent the weekendP1260166 with friends in Chichester. We all had big hugs on arrival as they have recently lost Hamish their lovely little Scottish Terrier. Angela and I grew very fond of him and we were fortunate to have had the pleasure of him visiting us on many occasions during our friendship. Not only here in the UK but also while we were all in Spain together. He will be deeply missed.

We chatted for ages before having lunch followed by warm mince pies and coffee!

Isabel cooked us a lovely meal Saturday evening that was accompanied by Prosecco, red wine and more chatting and laughing.

We eventually went back to our van for the night but Angela and I did not sleep that much. Partly due to the gusting winds, and partly because I didn’t position the van head on to the direction of the wind that we knew was coming!

One thing us motorhomers keep an eye on is the weather, especially when gusting winds are forecast. Being side swiped by 30mph + winds does not lead to a good nights sleep Sad smile

Sunday morning we went for a stroll and breakfast at Chichester Harbour followed by an afternoon of snoozing and a bit of sorting in the garage. Al and Isabel are kindly looking after our car while we are away and I managed to sort out a few more storage boxes of items we can leave until our return. Hopefully we will be able to bring some wine back now I have sorted out more space.

Our last evening with them was spent over a lovely meal at a local pub called The Walnut Tree. With all of their Christmas decorations up, seasonal music playing in the background and tables full of people eating and laughing it made for a lovely atmosphere. My rib eye steak was amazing as were the other meals.

This morning Isabel kindly invited us to a breakfast of warm croissants, homemade jam (of which we have been given a large jar), fruit, fruit juice and coffee. A perfect start to the day before we head off to Folkestone.

After breakfast we stowed the last few items and drained down before saying our goodbyes. We left them at 10:15am and had a fairly straightforward journey. We filled up with diesel on the last service station before the campsite here in Folkestone and it should last us until we get to Germany.

After 2 hrs 45 mins driving time we arrived at the campsite. Black Horse Farm CAMC (Caravan and Motorhome Club) is an ideal place to stay if you are going on the Eurotunnel. Angela does one last load of washing and drying so that we are clear for the start of our adventures. It is only a 15 minute drive to the check in area so there should be no traffic problems to worry about.

We are on the 08:51 am train tomorrow and our first stop is Bruges, Belgium……………watch this space.

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April- October 2018 Work!

Well, as usual this is the period that our website is inactive. I may add the odd post if something interesting happens. Or if I get the urge to write something up after looking back through my diary.

This website is mainly for us to look back on in the future to remind us of our travels and adventures in our motorhome (HMS ROBYN).

I am no IT expert or professional blogger and it is difficult to keep a website as there are so many things to consider. Who is reading it, what to write about, how often should I right and how much detail etc. etc.

We have a few followers and we know that family and friends dip in and out of it. If you would like to follow us then feel free to. If you would like to comment or ask any questions then that option is available.

The website should become more active as we set off on our travels mid December. We are having Christmas with family in Germany but  may stop off on route. We are not booking anything this winter and we are going to see where the wind blows us!

 

I am happy to be working as an assistant summer gardener at Christ Church College, Oxford this year. My contract ends on the 26th October and as Angela is working an extra month it means I have plenty of time to sort the van out ready for our travels.

We are both off until next April Smile

I will add some pictures of my time at Christ Church in the future but for now that is all.

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23rd-24th March 2018 Cambridge

We stowed everything after breakfast and got the van ready for travelling to Cambridge. This will be our last destination before we head back to Oxford, and before we set off we had a farewell cup of coffee with Billie and Shaun and said our goodbyes.

Cambridge is just over 80 miles away so we had a leisurely drive to  the campsite in Cherry Hinton. It took us 1hr 45mins and as we were a bit early we had to wait until the 12 O’clock arrival time. We have been here a few times and it is handy for visiting Cambridge. You can walk, cycle or as we did on Friday get the No.3 bus opposite The Robin Hood pub right into the city centre (£8.60 return).

It is a very well kept site, is very quiet at this time of year and there is a great running route around the old chalk pit site just over the road from the campsite entrance.

We headed straight for the famous Fitzbillies for our breakfast. Full English for me and Angela had the vegetarian option.

With our bellies full we decided to have a bit of a wander around the city centre and some of the shops. The only thing I really needed was a new pair of running trainers. After doing a bit of research I decided that I wanted the Salomon SpeedCross 4 which I managed to get. Even better, after some discussion with the shop assistant I managed to get some discount Smile

We were getting a bit chilly so we decided to head back to the van to chill out for the rest of the day.

I gave my sister a call when we got back  to ask how my mum was as she had had a fall and was going to the Dr’s. She has damaged her right arm and cracked some ribs. Ouch!

Later that afternoon I had a phone call from Christ Church College, Oxford to confirm that I had a job interview this coming Monday. Fingers crossed.

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