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 Summer in Daphne

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Cabin : Club
Location : Currently Korea (used to be belgium)
Posts : 315
Join date : 2009-10-11

Summer in Daphne Empty
PostSummer in Daphne

Part one

Well now that we have finally got all our shipment to Korea - I guess its time to write up the adventures of Daphne Summer 2012. (you have to love moleskin notebooks)

Summer in Daphne On_the10

Having spent the last ten years out of the UK we find the lack of aire de service de camping car a real pain. one of the easiest things to do in Europe, especially France and Germany is to just pull up in almost any village and be able to lay up for a night, usually for free. Any way that aside this year we decided to head across to the mainland on an early HDFS Dover Calais crossing. So knowing that one of the few places in the Uk where you can just park for the night and sleep is on the Promenade in Dover, right in front of the Premier Inn. So heading from relatives in the midlands at in what now seems a concurrent British summer theme of torrential rain we drove down to Dover and popped Daphne's lid moved some stuff to the front seat and were lashed with rain all night.

The 4am alarm woke us to a sodden canvas that had decided to be non proofed. Guess really should have seen it coming as normally when we pitch with a chance of rain I use a pop top flysheet that attaches using pop studs. Well you live and learn - how you guys manage to camp in the awful weather that is Britain now amazes me: oh for the comforts of the Southern parts of Europe.

Summer in Daphne Rather10
Summer in Daphne Rather11

Anyway the main reason for using a 6am crossing was not because they are cheaper than the mid day ones but because the days finish of Le Tour was an arrivee en Boulogne sur Mer just south of Calais, and having missed the last 4 Grand Boucle, the chance was to good to miss.

So from Calais we made a quick sprint down to BsM and booked into a Hotel BB. Yes it seems mad to have Daphne and not make use of her but the forecast was a bit unsettled and we needed to try to dry off the canvas a bit before using her proper. So straight into Auchan and apart from stocking up on wine, baguette, Ardennes pate and all the other thinks we long for when out of europe, the purchase of super absorbent wipes was an essential. The other reason for heading to Auchan is eating steak hache at a Flunch restaurant. If you have never tried eating at Flunch it is what fast food really should be.

The afternoon then spent hang over crash barriers waiting for the arrival, made even more important by Bradley already sitting in second. So three hours catching give-aways as the caravan rolled in including some Belin race hats thrown from the Belin Early Bay. How good can life get? By the time the race arrived we had moved from the finish as race radio sounded like there might be a good chance of a combative on the slope steep that runs up from the harbour to the last 200m outside the old town. It did mean our position was not quite as good for seeing. Actually it was terrible as almost the entire world had decided to try the same thing but we did find a spot with a view right down the hill. the the last 40 seconds viewed on the giant screens al over the final 500m.

Summer in Daphne Belin10
Summer in Daphne Ltdf310

A nice hour wandering in among the race buses as the mailott jeune etc was dished out and then to finish a great Moule mariniere in the old town and then off to bed with a couple of glasses of Cidre Normand - why can't British cider taste like this anymore. BTW just as a note - our belgium friends are totally dismayed that interbred is selling a Stella Cider as being Belgium in the UK - really does make your head scratch as Belgium has no cider production to speak off other than a few small placers between Oostende and Duinkirk. Ha but then you read the label and read that it is made in Europe using European Apple juice - (In Britain with British apples in other words)

Not sure how many here have used Hotel BB or Formula 1 or Etap style hotels in France. We love them - cheap, quick and always near autoroute junctions always worth a stop over.

Day two and heading south along the A16, then through Rouen on the A28 stopping for our first picnic in an aire de service on the autoroute. Carrefour table up, oilcloth table cloth on, opinel butter knife and melamine from hema in Holland. Cheese, chorizo and pate en croute (like a pork pie but just better), oh yes and the last of our kingsmill bread, now just baguette Smile. And to round everything off sunshine enough to burn after a week of rain in the UK.

Summer in Daphne First_10

Then past Le Mans on busy roads, full of cars heading for the Le Mans classic week. A11 all the way to Angers and a night at a great municipal site next to Le Lac Maine, immaculate wash facilities and really friendly staff.

Day 3 and the weather forecast on meteo is mixed all the way across France except for the cote azure. Heads a long drive to the mediterranean, tails keep heading towards the basque country but with a few days on Ille de Re. Tails won and with the gods smiling on us we travelled with sun all the way to La Rochelle and across onto L' Ille. Crossing the Pont de Re is amazing even if the toll charge is 18 euro, certainly well worth it as the Island is brilliant. A pitch at Camping La Grainetiere, Top popped up and bike hire sorted out for an afternoon and evening riding on the brilliant cycle paths around La Flotte with its lovely harbour and again another great dish of moule to finish the day.

Summer in Daphne Pont_d10

Summer in Daphne Three_10

Two days of pootling around L'ille with a tag a long tricycle, lounging in the covered pool and picnicking at St Martin De Re harbour on fresh ham hocks, anchois and pain au canard. If you have never been to Ille de Re it is really worth the visit just a brilliant island, a bit like Jersey but with flatter cycling, great eating places and even in the thunder showers that we had to hide from now and again it is an amazing place. Oh and there is a Tintin shop !!!!!

Summer in Daphne St_mar10
Summer in Daphne Ham_ho10
Summer in Daphne Swimmi10
Summer in Daphne Tintin10

Part two to follow
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Summer in Daphne :: Comments

Re: Summer in Daphne
Post Sat Sep 15, 2012 9:10 am by harryhornet
Hi belgiumbay.
I really enjoyed reading about your adventures. You obviously had a great time. Looking forward to part 2.
Re: Summer in Daphne
Post Sat Sep 15, 2012 9:19 am by Matt
Always very interesting reading about your adventures, especially the area you have stopped at in france, we have been looking at going there next year as a first exploration of continental life and summer sun.
Re: Summer in Daphne
Post Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:22 am by TimV
Making full use of your BraziBay - I love it!

I wonder if it's worth giving your canvas a spray of a waterproofing agent? I know lots of people use Fabsil but I prefer the protectant that comes in the Autoglym Convertible Roof 2 pack. The other bottle is a cleaner, which works well on the canvas too. Around £20.
Re: Summer in Daphne
Post Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:29 am by AbsintheKombi
Quote :
If you have never been to Ille de Re it is really worth the visit just a brilliant island,
I might have mentioned this a few times already this year... lol!
Re: Summer in Daphne
Post Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:39 am by belgiumbay
Hi Tim

Yes agree about the autoglym canvas prep, its what Daphne is normally done with but with now having her in storage for 10 months a year its been about 4 years since she was last done. Also we normally use a detachable poptop fly (sorry no day time picks of it) if its likely to rain - guess trying to take a chance on weather in Dover was always going to be risky

Summer in Daphne Poptop10
Re: Summer in Daphne
Post Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:52 pm by belgiumbay
Part two

Its never a good idea to head south in France on the first day of the Grand Vaccance. So like almost every year we ignored my own advice to almost everyone else and headed down towards Les Landes. If you have never been there Les Landes is basically a long strip of golden sand backed by kilometre upon kilometre of sand dunes and then the great Gascony Pine forest, mainly planted but with some remaining post glacial mixed maritime pine forest and etangs.

Once you get past Bordeaux which on the first day of Grand Vaccance, this year being July the 7th, i know as it was our wedding anniversary, was a bit like driving around the M25 but even worse. Then head out onto what I sometimes my favourite autoroute in the whole of france and sometimes the one I loath the most the A63/N10/E5/E70. Klick upon Klick of heat hazed tarmac, concrete and dry, dry head wind. On an autoroute where anything over 3 ton has to use the slow lane during the day. As you might imagine this meant a load of start stop overtaking - mainly as the retired British caravan clubbers pull out to overtake without warning and just kill the flow of traffic.

If you want to overtake anywhere South of Noirt, the unwritten rule is leave your indicators on all the time you are overtaking, this tells everyone else that you will be pulling in at some stage. If you overtake with out indicators flashing then expect to be tail gated at 130k plus.

The other thing that makes the A63 interesting is the ability to just pull off it at will and find absolutely nothing for miles apart from pine trees. Even though we didn't use it this time here is a brilliant municipal site at Castes called Camping Le Galan.

Anyway the idea was to head to one of the big sites along the coast between Soustons and Hossegor and spend a few day on the beach, however our luck wasn't in and all the "Butlin" style sites with good facilities were rammed full. So a bit of back tracking and we ended up on a massive 2star site under the pines about 3 k from the sea, with mainly the urban periphery of Paris. That might sound a bit harsh but as many are their only chance of a holiday during the year, the first week of GV with les parisienes means large, large families with three or four generations all packed into the same tent or chalet and partying that lasts till the next day. I guess its a bit like what Newquay seems to have become.

Summer in Daphne Daphne11

Summer in Daphne Up_top10

Anyway we did manage a decent anniversary meal of couscous royale cooked up with mergueze smoked in our portable smoker. Another of the reasons I so love the French is mergueze , those beautiful Moroccan lamb and paprika sausages that just ooze flavour.

Summer in Daphne Mergue10

Summer in Daphne What_i10

So after a wine induced nights sleep as the parties went on around us, we packed up and headed down into the last corner that is France at sT jean de Luz. Pelota tournament signs and the red, green and white flags tell you immediately that you are no longer in France but the micro world that makes up the Basque country. Being Welsh the intimacy with another micro nation is amazing. Vous eyes Anglais? is quickly answered with non je suis gallois, an almost open door to hospitality anywhere in france but especially in Brittany, Catalonia and Euskadi (the basque name for their land).

The result of our mis adventure the day before was now a pitch on a great little site 50m from the sea with a fabulous tapas bar between us and the sea and a camp bar with entertainment every night. Cha..ching!!!

Summer in Daphne St_jea10

Summer in Daphne St_jea12

Summer in Daphne Bronwy10

Summer in Daphne The_ro10

Summer in Daphne Basque10

Summer in Daphne The_ba10

Three nights of just chilling, with days spent wandering around St Jean itself, another gem of a town, which has also become the centre of a new trendy Basque fabric trade of bright colours and multiple stripes, but for air-cooled fanatics is also trademarked by a split screen in the main shop in St Jean.Then time finding fossils on the beaches. which was just great. We also spent a brilliant day wandering around Biarritz, which is wonder in itself and not at all what i think anyone ever imagines it will be like. Yes there are lots of rich retired people but also the birthplace of surfing in europe which meant parking up in aline with a red fire wagon bay and a bar that sells nothing but Belgium beer. And the grotto walks along the harbour area keep kids entertained for ages.

Summer in Daphne Fossil10

Summer in Daphne Lines10

Summer in Daphne Biarit10

Summer in Daphne Two_in10

Our only mishap of the three days was setting fire to the Bar B Q, don't ever misread compressed wood fire lighters as compressed wood BBQ fuel, carbon de bois isn't always carbon de bois !!!!!

Summer in Daphne Fire10

Part three "into Spain" coming soon
Re: Summer in Daphne
Post Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:00 pm by AbsintheKombi
As I sit here, home alone with Boris under a leaden Lancashire sky, I know where I'd rather be. Mrs B has taken Absinthe up to our static in Sedbergh for the weekend with three of her mates and I'm bored, bored, bored. Evil or Very Mad

Let's have part 3, Spain ASAP please.
Re: Summer in Daphne
Post Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:12 pm by belgiumbay
Hi Absinthe

Glad you are enjoying - regrettably as its now 23:06 in Korea the spanish installment will probably not be posted until the morning our time, so about 2am UK time. Yes vw therapy is needed at times - even though we can just head out of the door and be hit by what is the most exciting city we have ever lived in (5 weeks and loving it) the 10 month absence from our van is a painful experience each year.

But a Flavour of whats to come

Summer in Daphne Jamon10
Re: Summer in Daphne
Post Sat Sep 15, 2012 4:15 pm by AbsintheKombi
Looks great. Tempted as I am, I may not stay up until 2am for the next instalment. Saving it up for tomorrow!
Re: Summer in Daphne
Post Sun Sep 16, 2012 12:31 pm by belgiumbay
Part three "into Spain"

So after a couple of great days just chilling in the deep South West of France we hopped across the border into Spain. This year was our shortest holiday for a long while as we were in the middle of a move from azerbaijan to Korea, and I guess without that we would probably have been heading through germany towards croatia rather back to an area of spain we have been to a few times before. However this year it made sense as we would finish our jaunt taking the Santander - Portsmouth over night ferry and so save three maybe four full days of driving back up through France and the associated day to day coasts with that.

Anyway to Spain we headed, namely to the surfers destination of Zarautz, nestled between hills just to the west of Donostia - San Sebastian. 2.5 km of bronze coloured sand that in part gets its colour from iron ore deposits in the surrounding cliffs.

Zarautz has two camp sites, Grand Camping Zarautz on the top of Cliffs overlooking the beach and town is also home to a lot of the local surf schools. the other site is Camping Talaimendi just a short walk from the Northern entrance to the beach. Talaimendi is a much less busy site that has a very laid back feeling. While it to also has its surrounding surf schools and is very popular with spanish teens in grouped tent villages, it is rarely a noisy site. campers and motorhomes tend to use the terraced pitches over looking the rest of the site and the beach itself. the other great thing about Talaimendi is the bar, a rustic affair with scrubbed wooden tables Le Tour on television all afternoon and a plentiful supply of the local cider poured from a height to bring it into life. Shower facilities are basic and clean, but everything is put into perspective by such a fabulous setting.

Summer in Daphne Our_fa10

Summer in Daphne After_10

Zarautz itself tends to be void of many British, but becomes home during the summer months to a good portion of the Dutch speaking world. While Brits tend to learn to surf in the green waters of Newquay the Dutch head to the Basque country. Having grown up on the Gower I think the Dutch have a lot more sense that us!!!

So five days sunning and playing on the beach, Lewys our son making the most of the small estuary run out that is beside the camp site to impress all with his skim boarding skills. Not at all bad for a 10year old. next year it is serious surf training now that his swimming is strong enough to cope with the waves along Les Landes or northern spain.

Summer in Daphne Skim10

Over the years we have basically become European expats rather than British holidayers, so the idea of ever pre-booking a site is now anathema with so much to choose from across Europe the premium paid for a guaranteed booking has never been worth paying. Taking pot luck is so much more fun with us finding real stunning sites by accident. That is how we found Zarautz a couple of years ago just be the shear of accident of pulling of the autoroute and heading somewhere new.

If you are going to the continent just try it - don't waste time planning routes and booking camp sites. Just pull off the road when you feel like, head into the first town or village and especially in france and Germany the chances are you will find at least one and probably more camp sites. And if on the very, very rare occasion a site is full you can bet there is space nearby.

Check out the bar the supermarche, the pool and what ever else takes your fancy and if you don't like it just move on the next day. We have only ever moved on once from any site because of not liking the site and that was actually one we had booked. Its time to embrace Union with European Camping.

This year the amount of space to choose from was even greater with depressed markets across the whole of europe many camp sites had a surplus of space. This also extended to shopping where we were offered a 20% discount on a hand made quilt before we had even said we were actually interested.

The other reason to be in the Basque country other than surfing is cuisine. Tapas or Pintxos in Basque are second to none so a couple of evenings were spent browsing from bar to bar, all of which are fully child friendly. While the cider is amazing to my mind the only thing to drink with pintos is Rioja. But not the way that it is drunk in the UK. Good Rioja is drunk ice cold, over ice if possible and in large thin walled tumblers. Pintxos y Rioja its what life was made for.

Summer in Daphne One_mo10

The third thing we go to the Basque country for is Donostia (San Sebastian). Bilbao is nice with new culture thrown in and Santander elegant, but there is something special about san Sebastian. the little alleyways that make up the old town, their grid criss crossing and again the pintos and racions, bocadillo and more rioja or cidre. There is not much better than a morning or early evening stroll around the the city to lift your heart. This year we even had the added bonus of marching groups with giant cow bells on their rear ends and pigs bladders on sticks.

Summer in Daphne San_se10

Summer in Daphne San_se11

Summer in Daphne The_do10

Summer in Daphne San_se12

Summer in Daphne Bells_10

We always head to Santander a few days before we are due to sail, mail for the chance of some shopping but also just to find somewhere new. this year we finished of our tour in Loredo a spanish holiday favourite but a place we have never been before. I guess you could describe it as a spanish equivalent of either Skegness or Morecambe. A place that has seen better days but still nice. Laredo's main attraction is the wind surfing in its bay with almost constant wind r it is not a sit on the beach kind of place, but is nicely positioned to get into the mountains as well.

Summer in Daphne Laredo10

Summer in Daphne Laredo11

As our final fling before heading for the ferry we took a quad safari, Bronwyn officially being to young, but hey its been a bad season so who was going to complain. 4 hours of buzzing up and down hills, through streams with a guide wielding a major machete. What a way to finish a holiday.

Summer in Daphne San_pa10

Summer in Daphne Quad_210

Summer in Daphne Quad10

then finallyy 24 hours on Brittany ferries with a 67 low light and its all over for another year.

Summer in Daphne Bron10

Summer in Daphne The_en10
Re: Summer in Daphne
Post Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:55 pm by TimV
Superb. I think your Kombi could do with another 10 months off now!

PS: moved your epic tale into the Blog as I felt it fitted perfectly here.

Last edited by TimV on Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
Re: Summer in Daphne
Post Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:56 pm by harryhornet
Cracking read. Really brightened up my Sunday afternoon and prompted the opening of a nice bottle of Riocha. Thank you.
Re: Summer in Daphne
Post Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:14 pm by AbsintheKombi
Excellent. Dovetails nicely with our plans for next year. Very Happy
Re: Summer in Daphne
Post Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:09 am by Scooby
FAB - great pics & words - thanks for sharing

Summer in Daphne

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