Summer 2016: Adventures in Europe, Part 2 ; Brugges and The Battle of Waterloo

Day 3– Friday

Location:  Ronquieres, BE. Free aire, no services GPS n50,60636, e4,22249
Miles Driven: Brugges – Waterloo 80m, Waterloo- Ronquieres 16m. Total 96m

Weather: rain overnight and a shower this morning, otherwise sunny

Bluebell the Motorhome is parked up alongside the river in a quiet village aire called Ronquieres. She’s got some French and Belgium neighbours and we can hear the river running through the trees to our side. Today has been a great day, despite a less than ideal start. Yesterday’s day in Brugges was a corker, and after a nice dinner of fish cakes and potatoes we hit the sack around 9pm, sleeping for 11 hours straight. 


Our day in Brugges

This morning we were up bright and early ready for the off when Keith discovered we had a flat tyre on the rear drivers side. On closer inspection we noticed the culprit was a nasty nail wedged in, so out came the Jack, off came the wheel and on went the spare. Easy peasy we thought, until we realised that the spare wasn’t retaining the air we were pumping in from our portable 12v tyre inflator. We soon discovered why, the valve was split! How unlucky. We were faced with two options, ringing RAC and getting them to assist, which we assumed would only be a tow to a garage, or limp to a nearby garage ourselves (thank you google maps and Tesco mobile for letting K use his phone as normal over here!) we decided to take the second option given this garage was within 2 miles and our spare wasn’t flat as a pancake flat… yet. 
A very careful, heart in my mouth, every limb possible crossed drive and we soon arrived on the forecourt of the amazing Puype Tyres, who were exptecting us. They really put us to shame, all being fluent in English, communication was a doddle. They soon set about repairing both tyres and within 30 mins later, only €30 lighter we were back on the road feeling extremely relieved and thankful. 


Keith mid tyre change before we discovered the spare was a dudd


Ready for the off after our €30 tyre fix
An hour and a half later we were 80 miles down the road and south of Brusells arriving at The Battle of Waterloo site, Memorial 1815. First impressions blew us both away, there is a large mound (200+ steps high) with a big cast iron lion on as the main memorial site marking the centre of the line of Wellington’s Allied forces. After a quick lunch (we’d missed breakfast!) we were climbing breathlessly the large mound, and taking in the panoramic view from the top overlooking the battle site. Keith enjoyed the live 5D glasses (€3) – I thought he looked a bit daft, but he said they were worth it as he could see the battle through the glasses. Clever stuff. 

The battle of Waterloo site 
Inside the visitors centre (€17/£14pp) there was a fascinating large panoramic painting covering the battle, a very wordy museum, an amazing 4D film of the battle, and the opportunity to take a shuttle bus to Houogourmont. Access to the top of the mound was included in this price too.We walked down to see La Hayesaint Farm House, which was held by the allied left flank. This isn’t owned by the visitors centre, in fact is privately owned, but there were some plaques on the side, but had to cross a busy road to get there. 
La Hayesaint Farmhouse 

We then took the short ride on the Shuttle bus to Hougourmont Farmhouse which was the most fascinating part as it is a real time capsule from the battle. We saw the gate which 6 British soldiers managed to keep closed during the attack and was a turning point within the battle as it protected the whole of the allied right flank. 

Hougourmont Farmhouse

Keith was in his element, as a massive history enthusiast, this has been on his bucket list for a long time. I had a chat with the man behind the counter (I was dog sitting Jazz for some of it where he couldn’t go in) and he said sadly tourism has been hugely affected here following the recent attacks. He said usually this time of year they have up to 50 coaches visit daily, now they get a handful. We’ve noticed on our travels so far it’s very very quiet, almost has a feeling of off peak. Sad times. 

After a great visit we set off towards our free stop over the night, filling with diesel en route (€1.09/£0.92pl). We took a short walk along the river (5 mins) to see the sloping loch, a rare example of a working boat lift, and we were lucky enough to see one in action. It basically looked like the boat was climbing the hill in a large bath! Interesting to see nonetheless. Tonight we’ve eaten a tasty Spag Bol, tomorrow Holland is calling! 




Drone Pictures of Ronquieres Sloping Boat Loch

Until Next time 

Lx 

PS you can follow our journey using a real time location tracker by following this link: https://track.gs/LXADWw

Summer 2016: Adventures in Europe, Part 1

Day 1- Wednesday

Location: Oye-Plage, Nord- Pas de Calais. Free aire, no services GPS n50,99703 e2,04228

Miles Driven: 152m Norfolk – Calais, 10m Calais – Oye-Plage. Total 162m

Weather: overcast, some sunny spells

Bluebell the motorhome is parked up by the sea alongside several other vans from across the continent and we are waving to the big ferries traveling between Dover and Dunkirk. 


We set off from a wet and miserable Norfolk late morning giving us plenty of time to reach our 6pm Eurotunnel crossing from Folkstone in light of recent reports over the weekend of hours and hours of delays. Of course, we had a remarkably quick journey, reaching Folkstone in around 3 hours, making us 4 hours early, and predictably, due to the summer holidays we were unable to travel on an early train! Oh well, we parked up and operation chill began with an immediate afternoon nap and a cheeky Burger King for good measure -Keith was suffering with a migrane hangover (we’d had a boozy night with friends in the village last night!) and before we knew it we were gliding through passport control at an alarming rate considering the extra high security alert at the moment and on our train waving Au Revoir Angleterre!



We initially thought we would drive straight to Belgium but on the train had the realisation that we are over here for 4 weeks, longer than ever before (and boy doesn’t Bluebell know it, her cupboards are filled to bursting!) so decided to pick an aire (French Overnight Parking spot for motorhomes) from our Bible (aka Camperstop Europe) ten miles E of Calais. Twenty minutes later and we rolled onto Oye-Plage, conveniently located a stones throw from a nice little locals bar, 5 minutes after that we were propping the bar up enjoying our first continental beer of the trip, a nice refreshing Pelforth each, thoughts turning to where next?! We’ve been slightly less organised this time round, with only a loose plan of a route, we have chosen to embrace this and so tomorrow we will be sampling a few Belgium beers/chocolates in Brugges. 

Day 2- Thursday

Location: Bruges Air. 25€ per 24hrs , full services inc electric GPS n51.195670 e3.226380
Miles Driven: Oye-Plage- Brugges 64miles
Weather: mainly sunny
After a great sleep we woke feeling refreshed and eager to explore so we wasted no time and set off around 09:00, stopping at the municipal aire in the village to do our services (fill water/empty loo and waste water etc). 

An hour or so later we were saying Au Revoir France! Bonjour Belgium! and 30 mins later, thanks to our trusty CoPilot and Camperstop app we were pulling into our secure aire on the edge of Brugge and ready to explore! What a perfect day!  

More pics of Brugges next time. Tomorrow we are heading towards Waterloo to visit the battle of Waterloo battlefield.  

Until next time 

Lx 

PS you can follow our journey using a real time location tracker by following this link: https://track.gs/LXADWw

Summer 2016 plans – Germany and Austria

We have spent this weekend researching our next big adventure – 4 weeks in Europe next Summer – we are already starting to feel excited about this, as we’ve been wanting to go to Germany for a few years. We’ve been busy saving up our Tesco Clubcard vouchers for a few months and decided today was as good as time as any to book our Eurotunnel crossing for next Summer.  We leave on Wed 27th July and return on Wednesday 24th Aug – 4 whole weeks!

The loose plan is Calais to Waterloo, Belgium to Arnhem, Netherlands so Keith can see his battlefields then onto Germany, where we hope to travel along The Romantic Road and maybe The Black Forest – I’m thinking gateaux galore! Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 12.15.12

^A loose idea of our general direction – it will be interesting to look at this nearer the time and then again once we return to see how our projected route changes!

Other sites in Germany that interest us are The Eagle’s Nest, Neuschwanstein Castle, and Bavaria. We also want to get as far as Austria – Salzburg and Halstatt are on the list!

Romantic Road

The Romantic Route ^

Now the real fun starts – re reading other peoples blogs that I have bookmarked over the past couple of years that this trip has been on the cards.

Anyone got any tips for Germany? Must see’s? Good Stellplatz? Any tips most appreciated!

Until next time

Lx