1663-1681: A Quick Flit!

1663-1681: Packing Up and Goodbye to Jez

Thursday 24th September –  12th October 2020

Back at Coxbridge Farm we proceeded to completely empty Jez … he was going back to his factory of birth in Slovenia.  We had always had issues with opening and shutting the habitation door … sometimes even having to take our boot to it.  This had never been correctly repaired whilst under warranty:  incorrect parts or non-delivery of parts, .  With the constant slamming shut, we had consequential damage to the side wall … a crease!  Adria agreed to repair this … actually not a repair, but a whole new side wall.  But who could be trusted to do this major surgery?  Don’t worry … they will collect the motorhome and take it back to the factory in Slovenia.  Having been warned that we would be without our home for at least 6 weeks, we had formed a plan!

To be fair, we already had a plan to spend the winter in Crete … wanting to be in our Happy Place for another expected Covid lockdown.  We had agreed to rent a house just east of Chania from a friend of a friend.  With no van, we would drive the car over.  It would also mean we would save the expense of hiring a car whilst there.

Once Jez was empty … again abusing my Aged P’s goodwill, attic, garage and shed, we drove down to N Devon, via an over night on a friend’s driveway in Bristol.  Jez was left with a motorhome dealer there and within a week was collected on a closed lorry to be transported back to Slovenia.  We were able to track his progress on the Tracker.  Part of the planning was again to buy and wrap all our Christmas gifts … Mum was unimpressed the first year of our travels when I left all the wrapping for her to do!

20201003 160203

Costa iced caramel latte … my go to packing drink!  Not sure how many I managed.

The packing the car was a challenge.  We planned to camp en route, so had the tent and kit we had trialled in Derbyshire.  Summer-ish and winter clothes, dogs and their kit, cooking kit, Christmas gifts from family etc etc … all to fit into the car.  The day before departure, it was all at the front of the house ready to be packed … in the persistent rain!  Bear in mind, I may not have many skills, but packing is one of them … taught by Dad on our family camping holidays … Mum and Clare sorted bedding, Tim sat in the car reading and I passed dad things to pack or helped erect the tent.   It was quickly obvious it would not all fit.  Maddy and I did an emergency trip to Halfords to buy roof legs, bars and the biggest roof box they had … a snip at >£600 NOT!.  And slightly annoying as we already have legs and bars that fit the car in the shed in N Devon, but hey ho … after a few tricky attempts to close the roof box, we got it all in.

20201005 175007

CO2 lying on top of pilates mats, duvet, pillows etc.  A bit of a leap up!

We are really lucky people.  We had brought our departure forward by 8 days, concerned that borders would start closing again.  Just before we left, Switzerland closed to Brits (that was OK, we planned to go via Austria anyway) and the day after we arrived, Italy also closed.  Although in reality, we heard of folk crossing between countries with no checks.  Another major piece of luck was that the DVLA returned James’ C1 (to drive over 3.5 tons post 70 years old) application form wanting further information and a new photo.  This was a major piece of good fortune, as without a physical licence, James would not have been able to drive abroad.  If stopped by police and unable to produce the licence, they would have deemed the vehicle uninsured!  Quick as flash, J said, right, we will keep it and post it all back from Greece so he could share the driving.  It expired on 12.10.20 … the day we arrived in Patras, mainland Greece.   It would have been a real struggle for me to drive that distance for 5 days solidly.

With poor weather initially and then tiredness, we abandoned the camping idea and about 4.00 o’clock each day, I messaged AirBnB owners to get a good price for an overnight.  I had tried a campsite cabin initially, but it was more expensive than an apartment, and thankfully there were quite a few that allowed dogs.  Out of the 5 AirBnB that we used, all were <£65 (cheapest was £19!) and all, bar one, were very comfortable.  

So our route was 1180 miles from home to Ancona.  Overnights in Belgium, with Kerstin in Reutlingen, Verona and close to Ancona.  An 18 hour ferry from Ancona to Patras, an overnight near Patras and then another overnight ferry to Chania, Crete.  The journey took us exactly 7 days with only a 30 minute difference door to door (Ash Vale to Chania).

20201005 103547

A very quiet Tunnel. 

20201005 182857

Our first AirBnB was a stones throw from a free aire … missing Jez!

20201005 193759

First overnight apartment.  I was expecting really uncomfortable beds, but they were all OK … gone is the day of lumpy rental mattresses.

20201006 101706

Leaving, after packing the car, in teaming rain.

20201006 102658

We really cannot get lost … ancient Garmin, Co-Pilot, Dash Cam and old iPhone for audio.  Console of the Enterprise?

20201006 111056

£10 for 3 giant bars … just had to.

20201006 214319

Overnight stop, walk and supper, with my old mucker Kerstin in Reutlingen, Germany.

20201006 193730

Similar to the chicken parmesan I ate in the NE … this was equally delicious … chicken in a paprika cheese sauce.

20201005 175740 2

A lucky rainbow.

20201007 140223

Rain eased as we crossed from Austria to Italy over the Brenner Pass … and scenery got interesting.

20201008 204114

 The grotty Italian AirBnB – something out of the 1950’s.  And by no means the cheapest.

20201008 102138

Yes, we cruised to Love in Italy, where else!

20201011 141943

Spotted near Ancona … the future of cruise ships?

20201008 142039

Time for and Italian lunch before Ferry No.1.

20201009 185743

I know my dinner is up there, surely it IS time for it NOW?

20201010 183321

Dog walk near Patras after the long (18hrs) crossing … they have to poop the poop deck on board and Corrie is Miss reluctant.

20201011 150021

20201011 151353

Time for first lunch in Greece; shared Dukos and Shrimp Saganaki … nostimos.

20201011 181307

Waiting dockside to load for Ferry No. 2 … we had to turn around on board … so much easier in a car.

20201012 085254

Coming into Chania, Crete port in the morning … somewhere there is Kalives, not far from our rental house, which is more up in the hills.

 

 

 




1300-1308: Greece and East – Heading Off

1300-1308:  And We’re Off!

Thursday 26th  September – Friday 4th October 2019

We finished loading Jez on Wednesday and struck off for the Tunnel for our 0123 hrs crossing.  We parked up planning to eat nearby.  However … the mackerel I’d bought had not been gutted.  Not feeling like tackling the fish, I lobbed it in the bin.  Now. I am usually the one that snaffles any left overs for soup.  But in my defence, my Lud, I was tired.  It was late.  I would had to gut them outside – in the rain.  And I’d already had to give Corrie a washing up bowl bath as she’d rolled in poop. Lots of it.  We ended up in a very nice country pub chatting to locals.  Ho hum.

Tunnel all fine with no delays.  Perhaps something to do with being the small hours, but straight through.  And onto Bergues aire, which we’ve used number of times before.  Good for walking CO2.  

We followed a route down to Ancona suggested by our friends Lin and Bo, who’ve been coming this way for decades.  It was pretty much all free motorway, and straight A roads, other than the Heavy Goods Pass for Switzerland EUR32.50 and then we paid on the Italian motorways … £31.  We tried to bring the crossing forward from October the 8th, but the earliest we could be accommodated for camping on board was the 3rd.  We had plenty of time to ooze our way down with not very long driving days.

I’ve started plotting our sleep spots with coordinates on PolarSteps/Katherine Clune … download the app and search for it…. 

 

IMG 3790

By a fishing lake in France, all the locals were very friendly and one in excellent English told me where to walk CO2.
 

IMG 3795

Italy or Switzerland?  Actually a small Italian enclave in Switzerland.  Only 0.6msq.  A mix of administration:  vehicles and currency Swiss, but Police Italian.  A fantastic spot right on Lake Lugano.  The car park was free and had been for a now bankrupt casino … apparently it had been the largest in Europe, but looked more like a power station.

IMG 3793

IMG 3801

Apperatif in the little town of Camplione.

P1170577

We stayed one night at a campertstop with full services in Parma EUR20.  A EUR2 per person and per dog all day bus ticket into town.  Fortunately I’d been warned that CO2 may have to wear muzzles, and we were allowed on with 2 dogs, although the official line is 1 per bus.  A great wander around the town and we even spotted the restaurant we’d eaten in with Maddy about 9 years ago.  Unfortunately it was shut on a Monday, or we’d have revisited.  Instead we visited a couple of bars … had a good chat with an Aussie couple, who refuse to drive in Europe so travel by train :(.  Then bumped into another Aussie couple from the Camper Stop … more wine and supper together.  A good evening.

P1170579

A rather bemused member of staff looking at me re-enacting my falling asleep on the steps of the Basilica from 9 years ago.  Pix duly sent to Maddy.

IMG 3613

Not allowed to sleep long… face licking time!

IMG 3618

Overnight stop just S of Ravenna.  Lovely sandy beach for walking CO2 … and actually very warm so the shorts came out.  We are just starting the Go Sober for October wagon – see below!

IMG 3808

Not a glass of wine in sight … aperitif is now coffee!

IMG 3620

We spent the last night in Italy in the aire and Auchan just outside Ancona.  We’d received an email that our crossing was put back from 1.30 pm to 4.00 pm, but on arrival at the port, were advised that there was further delay … the ship didn’t actual sail until just before 8.00 pm.  A regular told me that the ship had been swapped for a faster one and we are due at Patras at about 5.00 pm  All very chilled.  Once parked dockside, I walked CO2 up into Ancona … an old city with Roman remains, tall buildings and small alleys.  Pleasant.  This above is the cathedral.

IMG 3621

Lions guarding the cathedral steps.

IMG 3623

One of the prettier squares.

IMG 3624

IMG 3813

Made us chuckle, especially as it was on a Fix It Again Tomorrow! 

IMG 3626

Empty dock as we’re all on the ship.  We are Camping on Board, so we can live in Jez for the 21hr crossing.  I wandered around helplessly with our electric cable wondering where to plug it in.  Not needed!  A loooong pole pulls an electric cable down from the roof.  And it ain’t no 3 amp rubbish … we’ve had the Remoska and electric hob going, whilst charging anything that vaguely needed it.  Excellent showers and toilets.    We’ve been on deck just to walk CO2, but Corrie ‘saved’ herself for this morning … she really only does like going in discreet places and on grass.  Oscar, however, wants to mark anything he can cock his leg at and has no inhibitions.  


Go Sober October by James

Does anyone have their best ideas whilst sitting on the toilet?  Leopold Bloom (Ulysses) did…..  Well readers, I was thus encamped on the loo at our wilding – Lago di Lugano – when I remembered that MacMillan nurses are encouraging people to shun alcohol for the entire month of October!  I climbed back into Jez as we were leaving and unleashed the bombshell on Katherine – she didn’t bat an eyeIlidl (or an Aldi)!  Talk about St Paul throwing himself off his horse on the way to Damascus!!!  It was bad enough giving up the drink for Lent years ago…  I really must avoid toilets!!!   We are now committed – as I write we’re on day 4 – and no problems so far – no shakes or twitchessssssssss.   It’s a hugely deserving cause (and close to our hearts….   Rally round troops – and think of the widow’s mite!  We’re a mite nonplussed!  “We’re all going on an alcoholiday……

If anyone would like to donate the price of a coffee …. here’s the link.

 

We don’t normally do politics on here, but this made me chuckle:

IMG 3803