The Big Tour 2016

This year we decided to test ourselves with 50 nights abroad.

Our route would start by travelling from Home to Folkestone then via the Channel Tunnel to Chalons En Champagne and Macon down to Cannes La Bocca. We moved from Cannes to Argeles Sur Mer. After Roussillon we drove into Spain and Benicarlo -a first for us and a place we will return to,  we went to Benidorm from here and stayed for 21 nights before we returned to France via Hendaye into our other home Twin Lakes at Soumeras where we joined our friends who were on a rally they organised for Motorhome Funsters, we returned home from there via a couple of stopovers back to the Channel Tunnel and home.  Although I would have willingly turned around and gone back anywhere.

So the trip started early so on the 29/7/2016 we started with an early breakfast .

We checked the caravan and fitted the bike rack to the car.  We then struggled to fit the two bikes to the rack after all we had not used it in anger before (it would be easier later on after practise).  Once everything done and the caravan was hitched up we set off, at approx. 09:30am

Our route was the usual A6175-M1-M25-M20 to Folkestone, for a change the M1 was almost clear of roadworks, the M25 was just busy but not a car park, it was different going through the Dartford Crossing without having to stop for the toll especially as having a Motability car that was road tax free we did not even have to ring up to pay like everyone else.  The M20 traffic was light compared to the horrendous conditions the weekend before, where the traffic had been tailed back to Maidstone.

We arrived at Little Switzerland approximately at 14:30hrs, having rung Tony from the M20 Services found we were on pitch 14 the only one with a sea view, so we set up camp, then went to the reception to see Tony and Debs and pay our pitch fees, We have been visiting this site for over 17 years and it’s always a good start to our vacation.

 

30/07/2016   Today we were prepared for the WWII fighter to overfly the Battle of Britain Memorial,almost caught out yesterday when a Spitfire flew over, today it was “Big Beautiful Doll” a UK based  CA-18 Mustang Mk. 22 (Australian Built). Then visited Dover Castle as I am an English Heritage disabled member so it was Free.  We went via the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel Le Ferne, well worth a visit to pay your respects to all the young men of the world who fought in the RAF during the Battle of Britain.

We arrived at Dover Castle disabled visitors entrance and got our wristbands, and were informed that there was an event on about the Romans.  We parked up and went to the Great Tower, to watch the displays, and we chatted with the Ermine Street Guards who were doing the re-enactments, and checked the other stalls.

One stall that I really liked was about Roman food and cookery, which had some interesting flavours. Salmon cooked in a Salt and Coriander crust – but only a thin crust and the fish was wrapped in vine, or fig leaves to allow it to steam itself, an interesting idea that I intend to try for myself at home.  Then  Mushrooms cooked in Garam, Honey, Wine vinegar, an simmered in the liquid for as long as you want.  The Mushrooms can be stored in a sealed jar as a preserve or stored in a fridge for a short while. Then Melon dressed with Garam, Honey and mint which was extremely moreish and I have reproduced this a number of times. Next Hard Cheese grated and mixed with Olive Oil, Garam, Honey with lots of Garlic, with green herbs the one they offered had Coriander, it was eaten in lumps wrapped in a flat bread another one that really hit my taste buds.  Also we had Pork that had been marinated in salt, Garam and honey the grilled slowly with the marinade used as a basting liquid, a common method still in use today but the Garam was the key it gave the dish it’s Uomi.

There were other side shows of how to lay mosaic and making pottery.  The Ermine Street Guard camp had displays of a small forge and what a Legionnaires were given as a diet.  They also did displays of how the infantry and Cavalry fought.  We explored the rest of dover Castle and the WWII Tunnels built into the cliff and used until the 80’s.  We did not have time to see everything you really need two full days to see everything.  We drove home after 5:30pm managing to get one Geocache en route (yep we search for small tupperware boxes using hi tech military satellites)

We spent our third day wandering Folkestone we found the “new” Harbour Arm which is where the old car ferry terminal used to be, and consists of cafes including the Mole Cafe which opened on the original harbour railway station in 1914 and market style stalls selling bric a brac and vintage clothing. We watched another Second World War Fighter over fly the nearby Battle of Britain Memorial , Our granddaughter played on the beach whilst I spent the time relaxing in preparation for our Early morning date with the Channel tunnel.  When we got to the caravan we started to get organised, loading everything back in to the car and caravan in readiness for the morning, leaving only the water, waste and electric hooked up, leaving us the minimum to do at 06:30 next morning. Leaving only the short trip to Sainsburys for our last tank of really expensive diesel,  yes French diesel is so much cheaper especially away from the Autoroutes where it was as cheap as 1€04c at the Hypermarché.

So we left the English shores on the 1st of August by driving one junction on the M20 from Folkestone to the terminal and boarded our booked train whereafter 25 minutes after boarding we disembarked and hit the French Autoroutes knowing that every toll plaza was going to be so much easier this year as I had obtained a Sanef Tag which meant we get to the tolls drive towards the ones labelled 30kmph where the tag would bleep the barrier would go up and off we would go not having to queue or most of the time even stop,  The fees coming out of my bank account a month later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Well I’m back

Apologies for those of you who wanted to read about my exploits with our caravan I have been busy trying to get fit but we have had a long test vacation with our caravan and have decided that we need to upgrade to a motorhome.  The reasoning is simple with a caravan you need to find a campsite park up on a pitch put the legs down add water waste hoses and some places containers plug in the electric. The put the awning up which can take from 10 minutes to an hour depending on awning size and how well I am.

A motorhome requires you to pull up spin your captains chair around and put the kettle on if necessary you can put wedges in and corner stays but that can wait until after your tea or coffee.

Next year we are planning to chase the TDF around the South West of France and with a caravan that would be a lot harder with a caravan whereas you’ve all seen the route of the tour with Motorhomes scattered along the road sides.

So the search has started and we have decided that we will buy one in March /April 2017  so we are delving into the strange new world that is motorhomes.