Gravelines – France (again)

Tuesday 14th June 2022.

Well here we are here again, 23 days since we were here last. Todays journey was 149 miles of motorway driving across Belgium and France. There were a few spaces when we arrived and we chose to stay on grass this time, when we went to the pay machine it wasn’t working and a woman sat outside her motorhome shouted to us “ ist Kaput”I don’t think she was English.

We now understand the defensive layout of this town is the same as Bourtange we visited in Holland, star shaped with a double moat for extra defence. This town is also connected directly to the English Channel via a tidal estuary.

Tidal estuary.
Outer moat.
Inner moat.
Gateway to town, solid bridge would have been a drawbridge.

Well tonight is the last night of this journey, we have enjoyed it immensely and seen and visited some wonderful places. You know it’s time to go home when you are down to the emergency toilet roll😂

Until next time …… au revoir.

Turnhout – Belgium

Monday 13th June 2022

We started the day with a visit to the vets in Dorsten to get Layla’s passport validated for travel back to the UK, 45 euros. Then after brunch with Wolfgang we hit the road to tonight’s stopover here in Belgium.We are staying on a small car park for four motorhomes provided by the town council and its free to stay.

The stopover is sited next to a wide canal that is used by large barges carrying goods of all types.

Mooring for pleasure craft and houseboats.
Bridge raises to let the barges through.

It was a 1.5k walk into town, there are a lot of shops, cafes and restaurants in town.

Market square.
Layla was bemused by these fountains.
Turnhout Castle has been in existence for 9 centuries, originally a hunting lodge it has a variety of uses over the years and is now a court.
Not sure what it supposed to represent.

We have re-entered an area where the cyclists appear to rule above all other. There is no regard for traffic it is expected to read the cyclists mind and give way at a moments notice, as to pedestrians you shouldn’t exist you are nuisance in their eyes. I couldn’t count the amount of times we narrowly missed being run over today when we’re on the foot path, zebra crossings and even the canal towpath. On one pavement a motorcyclist mounted the footpath and rode along the path delivering newspapers narrowly missing us and a couple with their baby in a pushchair. I get annoyed and yell at them, to no avail. Ah well that got that rant off my chest.

Ghalen

Thursday 9th to Sunday 11th June 2022

We are back at Cafe Holtkamp motorhome site that we last visited 3 years ago along with motorhome buddies Alison and Peter, we came here to visit our German friends Wolfgang and Arzu and their daughter Bedia.

Earlier in the year it was Arzu’s 50th birthday but she didn’t wish to celebrate then preferring to leave it until the weather was warmer,so when our invitation was received we decided to build our visit to include a tour of Holland and Germany. The celebration was held on Friday evening at a local sports activities centre with an outdoor bbq as the food.

Arzu reading her welcome speech.
Arzu on vocals, Bedia on electric guitar andWolfgang on acoustic.
They opened the entertainment with four songs before handing over to a DJ
Dances were a mixture of disco, rock and roll and Turkish.
Beer garden and bbq area.
Cutting the cake.

It was a great evening many of the people there we had met at previous celebrations and they kindly chatted to us in English asking about our travels and telling us their news. Not only was the food good but there was a free bar all evening and the celebrations went on until 2 am.

The rest of the weekend was spent in a variety of activities.We visited nearby Dorsten and had a large ice cream in a glass at a specialist ice cream cafe.

Dorsten market square.

Michelle and I took Layla for a walk around Ghalen village.

Village pond.
Black swans on the pond.
Guess what’s housed in this building.

The weather has been very pleasant whilst we have been here and we have divided our time by being in the garden and taking a drive to visit the River Rhine where we had a cool beer.

Hammock lesson.
Chilling out.

We are always amazed by the size of the barges on these rivers, some must be 200ft long, one was so heavily laden we could walk faster than it could go against the current.

Layla had a great time diving into the river fetching a stick.

During the evening we drove to nearby Dursten to an Italian restaurant which was on an area that had been reclaimed from a coal mine and it’s industrial buildings, sounds grim but it was actually very pleasant.

This bought to an end a very pleasant interlude in our travels.

Lake Mohnesee and Soest.

Wednesday 8 th June 2022.

Pleasant driving today on good roads, we decided to take a short detour and look at Lake Mohnesee as it looked picturesque.After driving around the lake for a while we spotted a large car park next to the dam so we pulled over to have a mooch about.

On the walk from the car park to the dam there was a small garden which turned out to be a memorial garden.

A monument on the way in.
This said , “Children, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers people like you and me drowned in the floods”.

We connected the monument and plaque to a disaster connected to the dam but it wasn’t until we walked a little further that all became clear.

If you double tap on the photo you will be able to read that this was another dam hit by the Dambusters in 1943. Over 900 people drowned as well as 50 RAF people losing their lives. When you read these details it makes you feel wars are so futile.
The river below the dam.

It was a short drive from there to tonight’s stopover at the campingplatz which is in the grounds of a motel a few hundred metres from the city centre. After lunch we walked into the town which was a good balance between old and new it actually had a few shops selling items we were looking for. One was a bread knife, German bread is very good but the outer crust is so hard it is difficult to cut your way in, I also bought a German road atlas, that may seem a bit pointless as we near the end of our time here in Germany but the one we have is dated and not a good scale. It will be handy for next time we come😊As we finished our shopping it began to rain and as we didn’t have coats we were a little damp by the time we got back to Homer.

There were lots of roses growing outside the houses.

The City dates back to medieval times and has a long and checkered history. It still retains a defensive stone wall almost circling the whole city, there is a path next to the walls with grassed areas on either side with a huge variety of mature trees along the walk. After our evening walk we decided to walk around this perimeter a distance of almost two miles, we were about half a mile from Homer when it decided to rain again, we had coats with us this time but as I’m wearing shorts my knees got wet☹️

Edersee and Willingden.

Tuesday 7th June 2022

When we got up today it was as though the whole world had come out of hibernation, shops were open and there were people everywhere. We went to Aldi and struggled to get on the car park.Any way after topping up with essentials we headed NW to our first stop a short distance away Edersee which is in The National Park Kellerwald Edersee. We parked in the village and walked a short distance to a dam at the end of a huge reservoir / lake. This dam is the one that was destroyed in WW2 by the RAF and what is now known as the dambusters.

Unfortunately for us they have resited the museum and it’s new location wasn’t on our route.

You can drive around a large portion of this lake but it is a long distance the road twists and turns and it was 3rd gear work most of the time so we cut off the lake road and headed north.

Waldeck Schloss seen from the lake.

Our total journey today was only 47 miles and our destination for tonight’s stay a campingplatz at Willingen.

Willingen is high up in a wooded mountain area, tonight we are at 604m above sea level. The area is more well known and set up for winter sports with loads of ski trails everywhere. It’s quiet at the moment but I can imagine it being very busy in the winter, there are ski lifts which take you up to the summit Ettelsburg at 838m above sea level. There is also a sky walk which is 660m long and 100m above ground, loads of bars and restaurants in town to keep everyone happy.

If there is snow😊
View from Homer.
Looking down on Homer from our evening walk.
Layla in the snow.
Michelle cooling off.
No it wasn’t really snow, it was ice from the ice rink next to where we are staying tonight.

Fritzlar

Monday 6th June 2022

Today we have headed south to Fritzlar the southern most point on this trip, the journey today was only 48 miles and we bombed down the motorway to get here, well chugged along at 55 mph. Mind you some of the German cars that flew past us were going so fast they must have broken the sound barrier.

Fritzlar is a small town with a medieval centre ringed by a wall with numerous watch towers, one tower “ The Grey Tower” is the highest remaining urban defence tower in Germany. We decided to split the exploration into two parts doing the interior in the afternoon and the walls for our evening walk.

View from Homer.

Tonight’s stellplatz is right against the town walls, there are 8 official motorhome spaces with electricity ( paid by coin) for a cost of 7 euros for the night. It’s amusing that over the past week or so everywhere we have stayed has been full quite early in the day but tonight we have the whole 8 spaces to ourselves.

We had a short sharp shower at lunchtime and this couple picked up their table and food and sheltered in the archway that leads into a part of the town😊
Town square, a few restaurants open, nothing else.

The evening walk was completed in lovely warm sunshine which continued quite late on into the evening and we were able to sit out and have a drink.

Michelle wouldn’t let me put padlocks through the chains as didn’t trust me to let her out again.
No sign of Rapunzel.
Late night view.

Gottingen

Sunday 5th June 2022

It’s national holiday weekend here with today and tomorrow being official holidays. Supermarkets and other shops aren’t normally open on Sundays here in Germany and definitely aren’t on national holidays.

We have moved on today southwards to Gottingen.

It was a steep climb out of Bad Harzburg and Homer laboured a little. the scenery was beautiful especially as we reached a plateau area at the top. Then the satnav did its usual trick ( will be replaced when we return to uk) and diverted us onto a road for the descent which if I could have lifted my head for a moment from the twists and turns of the descent I’m sure I would have enjoyed the scenery.

We arrived at tonight’s stellplatz at approx midday, there were about 5 free spaces within an hour it was full and people have been pulling in looking for a space ever since. There about 15 motorhomes on some extra parking space outside the stellplatz.

On this trip we have been dwarfed by huge motorhomes, this one next to us is even small compared to some, how do people afford them?

It was a mile walk into Gottingen and the weather was warm and close, the town was much larger than we thought but of course apart from a few ice cream shops nothing was open.

The campingplatz is next to a huge sports complex covering several acres, it has indoor and outdoor swimming pools, an athletics track, football pitches, five a side pitches, tennis courts, keep fit areas the list goes on and on I’ve never seen anything like it in the uk. We walked around the exterior of a large part of it on our evening walk with Layla it certainly is impressive. As we walked back a young mole crossed the footpath I’ve never seen a live one before.

Bad Harzburg- Day 2

Saturday 4 th June 2022

Priority one this morning was to take the cable car / gondola to the top of the mountain opposite .. The cable car station was only 800m away and even at 9.30 am there was a queue, as we approached the ticket office it became apparent that you had to wear a mask to be allowed on board. I had one in my bag, like the Queen, Michelle doesn’t encumber herself with bags or items to carry so she didn’t have her mask, we had to purchase one for 2.5 euros.The ride was 5 euros each which wasn’t too bad.

Homer is the nearest motorhome behind the white houses.

At the top there used to be a castle which was in a very good position to defend itself from attack, there were some historical links to the court of Richard the Lionheart. Now there are just a few footings of the walls enough to give you an idea of how it was.

The views from the top were quite spectacular with a panoramic view for miles over the flat land below the mountains.

We went for a hike for a few kilometres on a circular walk through some beautiful woodland, Layla had a great time running here and there.

A rest in the sunshine.

There are three ways back down, firstly a footpath that eventually meets up with a sky walkway that’s at the height of the treetops built completely of wood, it looked great but dogs weren’t allowed☹️

A small part of the sky walk.

Secondly you could go down by zip wire, not the thrill screaming version we have in the UK, this was far more sedate and you sat upright.However dogs weren’t allowed.☹️

Mother and child in tandem.

We took the third option and went down by cable car which we had all to ourselves, well I had paid for a return ticket.

It has been a beautiful warm sunny day and we spent some time relaxing in the chairs outside Homer, during the afternoon we walked through the town to a supermarket Edeke, where we topped up the beer supplies and also bought a loaf of bread and some strawberries that turned out to taste wonderful, well done Dutch producers.

Bad Harzburg

Friday 3rd June 2022

Today we have driven up hills😊 first time this voyage. We are in the Harz Mountains National Park S.E. of Hannover where we are doing a two night stopover.

Bad Harzburg isn’t “bad” bad in German equates to bath, or in this case it is referring to a spa town. Here warm salty water at around 28 degrees bubbles up from several hundred metres below ground. A large health industry has built up around it ( I haven’t seen so many walking sticks in one place) there are spa hotels, saunas, large parks full of equipment for keep fit, it’s well geared up. It is also a winter resort for skiing etc I expect they get even more broken legs then to heal😊

Woman of action.
There is a pedestrianised street about 800m long running through the town with small shops and cafes.
View of the cable car from Homer.

There is virtually no phone/ wifi signal here so I haven’t been able to add many photos they will have to be added another day.

This campingplatz is not a super dooper state of the art techno run site, to get electricity we have to put these strange round metal things called coins into the meter.

Celle-Germany

Thursday 2nd June 2022

Well today started off in a typical “ taraabit fashion” we set the satnav to take us on a route that would avoid the GREEN zone, we went left out of the stellplatz and soon found ourselves travelling along a lane in between the plots of land that had the holiday chalets on them. The lane got narrower and narrower until there was about 50 cm on either side between us and the hedge. We dutifully mowed down a few annoying cyclists then as we came round a bend we found our route blocked by a transit van with no driver. I got out and found there was a thick pipe leading from the rear of the van for about 50 ft before it disappeared through a garden gate. I followed the pipe into a garden and there was a workman pumping water out of a hole in the ground watched by the owner of the property. When I explained our predicament she informed me that 50 m further on the road was blocked by a barrier and we couldn’t go any further. So it was back to Homer for a complicated reversing procedure whilst cyclists still attempted to squeeze between us and the hedge, eventually I found somewhere to turn and we retraced our route and unfortunately had to drive through the GREEN zone to get out of the city, grrrrrrr.

We had to take the motorway again for a considerable distance, I thought there were a lot of HGV on our motorways but nothing compared to here in Germany, there were a lot of eastern European number plates so I assume it is a normal trade route for them.

We have stopped for the night in Celle which is a town that again suffered heavily in WW2, however when they rebuilt they built the shopping area to resemble how it had looked in the past, quite convincing too.

A beautiful park known as French Park.
The town schloss.
All rebuilt to resemble the originals.

Tonight’s stellplatz is very modern, it is one where upon entry you obtain a plastic card and load it with euros to pay for electricity, showers, washing machine etc. They claim it is simple foolproof and nothing can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong, go wrong ……………..