Sunday, 25 June 2017

Thursday 22nd June 2017 – Ribe, Denmark

The alarm went just before seven and it started to rain. The outside temperature was 11°C and it felt positively cold – two days ago it was 37°! Then the thunder started and the rain seemed set in for the day. Fortunately, after four hours the rain stopped and we decided to risk the 20-30 minute walk into town. Our first visit was the Viking Museum and this proved to be excellent. Very interesting exhibits with much information in English. A temporary exhibition was based on a town in China in the same period as the Vikings in Ribe – an interesting contrast. The other advantage was that there was free wifi in the museum café and we were able to catch up with emails.
The campsite provided a free, comprehensive Ribe walking tour leaflet in English and we happily spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the very pretty town centre. I was intrigued to find that the cathedral offered free wifi! Most churches would want people to turn off their phones rather than encouraging them to use them!

We joined Andy and Glenn for pre-meal drinks before they headed off to town on their bikes for their last meal out in Denmark.

Wednesday 21st June 2017 – Ribe, Denmark

It was much cooler this morning and we were looking forward to a more pleasant journey. After some shopping in a local supermarket, we continued of the blissfully quiet A23 motorway and then more minor roads. We knew when we were approaching the Danish border as there were a number of large supermarkets on the outskirts of a small village. Everything, especially alcohol, is much more expensive in Denmark and many Danes travel across the border to do their shopping. We had plenty of time today so we travelled the 10 km over a causeway past salt mash to the Danish island of Romo. Romo, a base for the whaling industry in times gone by, which was interesting but, we decided, not interesting to spend a fortnight’s holiday. On then to Ribe and Ribe Camping, which turned out to be a large but very well organised campsite with some of the best facilities that we have seen.
We discovered that the next pitch were another English couple. Andy and Glen were at the end of their holiday and had just two nights before they were leaving Denmark for the journey home. We spent a very pleasant evening with them and I discovered that Andy was not only in IT like me but is also an amateur baker.
Photos: Travelling over the causeway to Romo; St. Clemens church - two photographs of the 17th century gravestones for sailors in the whaling industry.

Tuesday 20th June 2017 – Tornesch, Germany

It was another very hot day - 27°C before 09:00 but Henrietta showed no ill effects from yesterday as we travelled on towards Hamburg. There were periods of very slow-moving traffic, especially around Duisberg and Hamburg but we had no engine problems and by late afternoon we were heading north from Hamburg on the A23. Jane had identified a hotel in Tornesch that offered a motorhome stop and had a restaurant – ideal. Unfortunately, as we approached it, we realised that things had changed in the 7 years since the aires book had been published! We did manage to stay there for the princely sum of €5 but there was no restaurant. We could have tried the next option on our list but we were frazzled with the heat and a long journey and were just glad to be able to hunker down for the night. The good news was that the temperature was falling and a little breeze was blowing.

Monday 19th June 2017 – Turnhout, Belgium

It was hot when we left Horsley and it got steadily hotter, except when we had the cooling breeze on the ferry. We were early for our crossing and were lucky enough to be given a place on the ferry that left nearly an hour earlier. This meant that we had a good start from Calais and we followed the AA recommended route via Bruges, Gent, Antwerp, Eindhoven, Duisburg, Munster, Osnabruck, Bremen, Hamburg and north on the A23 towards the Danish border. The idea was to push through France and Belgium and get as far as Eindhoven tonight but luck was not with us. The motorways were busy, not a problem but it was fiercely hot, into the 30’s. Then we hit a major jam approaching Antwerp. We had 40 minutes of stop/start, mainly stopped, traffic, the temperature was rising and there was absolutely no breeze. It was 37°C inside the van and the outside thermometer (affected by the engine temperature) was reading over 52°C. The engine cut out at the worst possible moment. We were on the inside lane of our motorway but another very busy motorway was joining from our right. This meant that we were in the middle lane of seven lanes of traffic …….. and stationary. With the hazard lights on, I desperately tried to restart the engine. It would start but as soon as I put any load on it by letting out the clutch it would stall. We phoned our breakdown recovery company but were advised to phone the police because of our precarious position. At this point I was very glad of the emergency information on our Garmin satnav, which gave me GPS coordinates, nearest junction and nearest address so that I could tell the Belgian police exactly where I was. We were supposed to put out a warning triangle but, with six lanes of traffic flowing around us, that would have been a very risky procedure. After a few minutes I tried to start the engine again and this time I was able to let out the clutch without it stalling. Other drivers, aware of our situation, allowed us to cross the three lanes to the relative safety of the hard shoulder. We phoned to police to cancel our call and told them that we were no longer in a dangerous position. We allowed the engine to cool for a few minutes before starting off with the intention of getting out of the city as quickly as possible. We made it to the outskirts still on the motorway when the engine cut out again. With the warning triangle out, we stopped again for a few minutes before we could start the engine again and head for the services just a couple of kilometres away. There we stopped for 40 minutes in the shade with the bonnet up by which time the engine was considerably cooler. We decided to head for the nearest campsite at Turnhoot about 30 km away. The traffic was flowing well and Henrietta (the motorhome) drove beautifully, as if there had never been a problem. It appeared that the problem was simply caused by the extreme temperature – at least that is what we hope!
The Baaise Hei Campsite reception was closed and the entrance road barriers were down but, after a bit of detective work, we discovered that there was another entrance and area specially for late arrivals. And very pleasant it was too – peaceful, views across fields and electric hook-up and toilet block provided! We were knackered by this point and a simple meal and cold beer were most welcome.
Photos: The Banksy at Dover painted after the vote to leave the EU; Henrietta (in the background) was in good company on the ferry; The 'late arrivals' section of the Baaise Hei campsite.

Saturday 17th June and Sunday 18th June 2017 – Horsley, England

We left Dorset and headed for two nights in the Horsley Camping & Caravanning site. The original plan was to visit our son, daughter-in-law and grandson as they live nearby but they are keen on holidays too. They have taken joint maternity / paternity leave for the month on June and are on a tour of friends, relations and interesting places for the whole of June. We are not complaining as their tour brought them to us in Somerset for a few days. We decided to keep with the booking at Horsley as it is a lovely site and gave us a break on our journey to Dover. Amazingly for England, the weather was exceptionally hot – over 25°C.
Photos: View of the lake at the Horsley campsite.

On The Viking Trail

After a long gap, we are finally back on a genuine European Sojourn. After our 14 month Odyssey, we had always intended to have two sojourns each year and, for a while, we achieved that. However, joyous events such as our son’s wedding in 2015, the arrival of our first grandson in 2016 and great holidays with friends, rather interrupted the sequence.
This year we have embarked on a long-planned sojourn to Scandinavia, an area that we have not explored. Initial plans included Denmark, Norway and Sweden but we realised that this was over ambitious and we decided to limit ourselves to Denmark. That said, the plan is to see as much of Denmark as possible.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Thursday 12th November 2015 – Brittany Ferries Cap Finistere, Bay of Biscay

So it is the end of another thoroughly enjoyable European Sojourn. We stopped at a supermarket for some Navarra wine and filled up with some diesel at the incredibly low price of €0.949 (70p) per litre. I had plotted two routes to Bilbao port for the Brittany Ferries sailing to Portsmouth. One was a pretty route on smaller roads and the other was a quicker route, mainly on motorways. Unfortunately, fog me    ant that there was no point in taking the pretty route. Having said that, the faster route was still pretty, the sun came out after we had passed Vitoria-Gasteiz and the temperature climbed from a minimum of 5º to a pleasant 17º by the time that we reached the port.
Despite the fact that there had been no wind at all for the past three days, it was surprisingly rough after we left the port but after a bumpy night it was much smoother as we approached Portsmouth. We were almost the last vehicle off the ship and we hit a lot of congestion on the way home, a real novelty as the roads had been empty for all of the holiday.
So back home to sort out the post, catch up with all of our friends and do some planning – where next???

Photos: None