2011-2027: Zorba Repatriation And Unexpected Events

2011-12-: Preparation and Planning

Thursday 2nd & Friday 3rd September 2021

Another early start to drop Jez back into Abacus for more work to be done … we coffee’d and walked locally into an Andover Park as we didn’t have the car.  Late afternoon arrival back at our usual 5 pitch C&CC site, Woodlands Farm.  

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Replacement rear view and reversing camera …  the last one had fogged over.  Driving a nearly 5 ton vehicle with no rear view is not ideal!

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Lots of resident deer at the farm … mostly Roe and a few Fallow.

The background to this trip is that cars can only remain in the UK for 6 months or they have to be imported.  6 months would be up at the end of October and we also had a load of belongings to take across to the house in Crete.  J’s consultant had not argued about us going to Ireland for J’s daughter’s wedding, but had said no to him travelling to Greece.  So he was going to stay home (in Jez) with CO2, whilst I took Zorba and stuff to Crete.

Zorba the Greek car was collected from the Aged P’s.  Well, eventually.  He didn’t want to start.  A new battery in May, so not that.  Jump started off the Merc.  No power steering.  Googled and apparently it is usual for electronics to go haywire on jump starting.  Switched off and jump started again … power steering worked this time.  Back at the Farm, he was then emptied and all the boxes re-sorted to reflect the fact that James’ heart surgery would mean us staying in the UK IN WINTER.  Then reloaded.  All the PLF and transit rules done and understood.  Route plotted.

Maddy, my daughter co-driver was put on the insurance.   Plan well and truly sorted …. Maddy and I would catch the late afternoon overnight ferry on 6th Sept from Ancona to Patras.  4 hours to do a 2 hour drive to catch the next overnight ferry to Crete, arriving early on 8th. Maddy’s boyfriend, Jordan, flying in on 10th.  All to fly back on 17th.  Friends rate my planning.  They’ve not met my mother or sister, who are scary when it comes to planning, but what could possibly go wrong?!

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Fully laden … no room for you Oscar!

2013: Refusual at the First Hurdle

Saturday 4th September 2021

Final check of all paperwork and in the afternoon I set off to collect Maddy from Farnborough.  Zorba wouldn’t start again, so another jump start and I took the jump leads with me!  I got quite adept at accosting men in car parks to allow me to jump start from their cars! … Tesco as I collected a prescription for J and then Halfords to buy a lithium jump starter pack.  This will be fine, really, honestly, I told myself.  We can just jump start our way across Europe!  Then once there, I’ll take Zorba into the garage to have starter motor and alternator checked.  

Maddy drove back down to Chichester to get used to a left hand drive manual car on the wrong side of the road and parked nose out so we could jump start it again!  We had supper at the Aged P’s as our Tunnel crossing not until 0230.  We thought they’d probably put us on the next available train if we arrived early, so we got in the car to set off …. awful grinding and whining noise.  Then deathly silence.  A similar noise to the last time Zorba had to be low loadered to the garage for new injectors.  Zorba really wasn’t going anywhere.  The whole point of the trip was get Zorba back to Greece and was refusing!  I was on the verge of aborting, until I looked at Maddy’s face … she and Jordan were really looking forward to a holiday.  Decision … a fast decision.  I’d take the Merc.  At least our stuff would get over to Greece and I could bring back some winter clothes, not that we have many!

If you’ve never tried emptying a roof box, removing it … fixing it to another car and reloading it in PITCH DARK …. don’t!  It really isn’t the easiest thing to do.  But we managed it and it did stay on!  The Merc’s seats down, the inside was filled to the gunwales.  Interestingly it is less capacious that the Skoda Roomster – aptly named.  Excess boxes and bags were relocated to the Aged P’s garage … despite their downsizing house move and being told they didnt have room to store our stuff!  Ooops!

Slightly frazzled we made it to the Tunnel in plenty of time and did catch and earlier train at 12.45 p.m.

2014: Tyre Pressure but not Tired

Sunday 5th September 2021

One of the benefits of travelling across the EU on Sunday is that most countries ban trucks unless they are refrigerated goods, so the roads are relatively empty.  Our route was toll free through Belgium and Luxemberg, re fill with cheap diesel, and then toll free through France to Basel.  Bought a vignette for Switzerland and used the free Gotthard tunnel during Sunday night.  As Maddy had not been put on the insurance for the Merc, I was driving overnight.  Once offices opened, we tried to get her on my insurance … no, my ex pat insurance will not cover anyone under 25.  No go with her insurance either as they won’t cover 3rd party on other vehicles if under 25.  We ended up paying for expensive day insurance that ran for 24 hours so she did a couple of good stints behind the wheel.

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 It got warmer as we moved south … layers were peeled off….

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… and hair tied back … the air con doesn’t work, so windows had to be opened.  I found another use for a mask to keep my hair from blowing in my face.

A few weeks ago we’d had a tyre warning light come on … nail … tyre repaired.  However, having inflated the tyres for a heavy load, the warning light came on again.  Every time we stopped, I was having to check and re-inflate.  Could anything else go wrong?

Having made good time with only a few nanny naps, we stopped in Como and had a proper restaurant supper.  Well deserved.  We had made such good time we had some big nanny nap stops that later that night.

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Maddy had pizza, but my swordfish with caponata was lovely.

2015-2116: Killing Time and Missing the Next Ferry

Monday 6th & Tuesday 7th September 2021

We had made such good time, having allowed for holdups …. but we even managed to get past Milan before the rush hour and so arrived in Ancona at 9.00 a.m.  We parked up at a Motorhome stop that J and I have used a number of times … formerly Auchan, but a few other shops and cafes.  Breakfast and lunch … Maddy clothes shopped, of course!

We drove down to the port mid afternoon.  Paid for our tickets … only to be told the online office had incorrectly used previously bought tickets, but it did mean we paid less than we thought.

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The ship was late in … they didnt send the the text offering me alternative dates until after we had sailed!

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All these trucks did eventually make it on board….

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… meanwhile, I consumed a few of these.  It was Cretan wine, after all.

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We treated ourselves to serviced dining … if you can call it that!  Linen table napery, but rubbish food and service and very expensive.  J and I have never eaten on board before as we’ve the dogs, but never again.  And the cabin stank of ammonia … obviously the toilet tanks needed cleaning out!  The food was almost enough to make you gag, but the cabin stink certainly was!

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Fortunately we’d brough our own brunch.

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With time to kill on the 22 hour crossing, we dyed our eyebrows!

The ship was 4 hours late into Patras so no hope of catching the next overnight ferry.  Oops … my carefully laid plan!  Before we docked, Maddy was onto a booking site and found us a beach hotel for about £50.  We had a lovely supper at a neighbouring restaurant.  A fraction of the price compared to onboard too.  Before we left the port, we found the Minoan office and rebooked our Pireas – Chania ferry for the following evening.

2017: Tourist Day

Wednesday 8th September 2021

The ferry from Pireas was less than 2 hours away and didn’t depart until evening, so we had all day to kill.  We thought about sunbathing …. but it was grey with showers.  Tourists, it was to be.  We drove up the mountains to Kalavryta to a holocaust museum.  I’d been before with J and the Aged P’s but had found it very moving.

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Video recordings of some of the now grown up survivors and girls told of their first hand experiences, making it very real.  Descriptions of how the women and children tried to identify their family and then dig graves with bare hands in the frozen soil, as all the tools had been destroyed when the Germans burnt the all the houses.  Just as moving as the first visit.

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View from the hill were the men and boys were mown down and now where many still lay.

 Maddy is rather fond of Corrie (Oscar too sometimes!) and wanted to see where we had found her.  I think she rather hoped we would see a close relative of Corrie that she could adopt … don’t know who she thought would look after it with her about to go off to Kings to do her Masters!  Fortunately, this time, Accorinth was bare of strays.

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James and I have stayed here twice later in the year so never seen it so dry.  It was about to close, so we only had a quick wander.

This ferry left on time AND the cabin did not stink.  And we’d taken our own picnic, so altogether a better and shorter crossing.

2018: Cleaning Day

Thursday 9th September 2021

We were up in plenty of time to have a coffee on deck and watch the approach into Chania port.  And with no more set backs, we were straight off and within 20 minutes we parked by our house.  Before we unpacked the car, we had to clean.  It had been empty since end April, but unwelcome residents had moved in!  Yep, stink worms and cockroaches again, especially in the basement where Maddy was to sleep.  So debugging and bleaching started at 0630!  Once Maddy’s bed was made, she climbed into it and I continued the clean moving up the house … she gave me a hand for the last bit and then we unloaded the car and roof box.

With the house pretty much in order, we had supper Almyrida with Gillian … lovely to try a restaurant that has been shut whilst we have been in residence during the winter.

2019-2024: A Holiday

Thursday 9th – Thursday16th September 2021

Jordan arrived the next day, so he and Maddy spent a few days sunbathing.  He is very fair (strawberry blond!) and used more than a tube of factor 50.  We went into Chania, I collected a ring a jeweller friend of a friend had replaced the stone.  I hired a car for Maddy for 2 days and they had an overnight in Rethmyno and visited Knossos Palace.  We ate out a lot … with friends, including a Sunday tea party in aid of animal charities: we ate our body weight in cake!  I also spent some time visiting car dealerships … after a summer forking our thousands on cars, we had decided we really do need a reliable car.  It needs to be Greek as we will be in Greece for more than 6 months each year and big enough to transport us and CO2 to and fro to the UK.  Short list of a Hyundai Kona and Suzuki Vitara … need to test drive and J to look at them in the UK.

On his own in the UK, J dog walked and waded through a pile of admin and jobs.  He had use of my sister’s car for a week and ate in a few pubs and at my parents … just as well as he’s a can’t cook won’t cook man.  I’d left him a few frozen soups and casseroles …. honest!

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 Almyrida with all the sun umbrellas out. 

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I got to walk and run one of our favourite local walks … Plaka head.

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On the way to one of my favourite restaurants, we stopped for a sundowner overlooking Almyrida.

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Chania.

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One of our meals in Eleanora’s.

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Maddy and Jordan flew out lunchtime on Thursday.  Think they had a good time, as they spent most of the previous day trying to work out how they could stay!  Having cleaned their room, I dined back up the hill with friends …. it really was fabulous to see friends after 5 months.

2025: The Return Journey Commences

Friday 17th September 2021

With the ‘children gone I completed the cleaning and got all my paperwork in order.  Rather hoping for an incident free trip as I was doing the return leg solo.

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I treated myself to a good late lunch in Chania at Salis restaurant which has been recommended by Ann … wonderful fish followed by two flavours of ice cream  Didn’t realise each was an entire pudding … I was offered two spoons lol!  Dill ice cream with strawberry jam and watermelon with pickled rind … both delicious.

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To save a little money, I’d booked an airplane reclining chair instead of a cabin … only an overnight crossing … medicine to help me sleep!

2026: Patras Tourism

Saturday 18th September 2021

Arrival in Pireas early morning and I drove to Corinth … I’d booked an antigen test there at 10.00.  I had a walk and beachside coffee beforehand.  Test was only EUR10, so a bargain compared the Kalives ones that Maddy and Jordan had had at EUR25 each.

Still with lots of time to kill, I drove to Patras.  Despite sailing in and out, we’ve never actually gone into the town centre.  I walked up a massive flight of steps to Patras castle … arriving as a sweaty puddle.  The first thing I did once on board was shower!  Fortunately I’d a cabin for this 22 hour crossing to Ancona.  Very few tourists, no British again and mostly truck drivers.  At Pireas the lorry loads were being clambered all over by a private security firm looking for immigrants.  I’d had to open the rear doors and boot.

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Patras Castle steps were right at the end of this boulevard.

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View from Patras Castle. 

2027: Mostly Bored On-Board

Sunday 19th September 2021

Straight off the boat in Ancona and I’d not had to show my double tax cert or even my passport.  More docs had to be presented from Crete to the mainland.  Being Sunday afternoon, I knew to expect traffic heading up to Milan and Como, but there were quite a few road works too.  I got my head down for a bit and then it was plain sailing back through the Gotthard Tunnel at just after midnight and Switzerland.

 

2028: A Good Run and a 3rd Ferry

Monday 20th September 2021

A pretty straight run up to Calais, with another cheap fuel stop in Luxemberg.  On one morning stop, I booked my day 2 Covid test, did the Gov PLF and booked the ferry.  Not used a Channel ferry in years as a) I remember lots of times where I felt sea sick (funnily enough don’t on the Greek ferries), and b) you have to leave the dogs in the car.  This time, I booked DFDS as it was a lot cheaper than the Tunnel at short notice and with a Flexi ticket I could turn up 72 hours either side of my booked crossing and be put on the next available ferry.

I arrived a day earlier than I’d booked and caught the 5.30 ferry. Again largely empty other than trucks.  The hour and a half passed really quickly as part of the Flexi ticket bonus is that I had a meal voucher.

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DFDS chicken curry free … as part of my ticket.  OK it was too … better than Minoan / Grimaldi!

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A meal with a view.

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Before I knew it, Dover in sight.

I got hauled over in Dover … why and where had I been.  Was this my car? etc.  I handed over V5, passport, Greek residency, Greek Tax number, Greek rental agreement and explained why and where I’d been.  He conferred with colleagues and checked my boot and I was allowed to leave.  

Back home to James and CO2 by 9.00 UK time.

So this return drive was just over 3 days door to door, with 3 ferries, 2 of which were overnight.  1125 miles door to door.  963 miles in 24 hours including nanny naps from Ancona to Calais.

Was it hard?  No, not really.  Audio books kill the journey.  More fun coming out with Maddy.

Would I do it again?  Yes, if need be.

Maddy and Jordan got a holiday.

We got most of our ‘stuff’ from the Aged P’s old house to Crete.

I saw some friends.

Failed on getting Zorba out of the UK  … Since our return the garage has established that the diesel pump must be disintegrating to cause the new injectors to fail and the battery was also not being charged …. so he is definitely for the scrap heap.  Not one of our better buys.

1977-1995 : Is that Stonehenge?

Catch Up Continued .


1977-1981: Strawberry Fields, not The Beetles

29th July – 2nd August

As members of wild camping.co.uk we are also members of motorhomes.com, the less wild party sounding arm that arranges meets.  Over the years we have got to know a few folk that attend these and there is always someone to natter to, or ignore should you so wish.  We’d failed to find a suitably mutual date with Sue and Mick (we’d met them in the Peloponnese and have previously stayed on the drive of their eco house), so they booked onto the same meet for a few nights.  Sadly the weather was pretty rubbish which limited our sitting out late opportunities.

With the Merc in dry dock and Zorba packed to the gunwhales with our stuff to go back to Greece, we didn’t bring a car to mooch around in.  The campsite was on a busy road and not that close to anywhere, we deployed the bikes and doggy ride trailer.  Its been a long time since we were in the saddle and a long time for CO2 since they’ve been in the Os-car (trailer), but they certainly remembered that they got biscuits for climbing in!  Our derrières were OK for us to do two consecutive days of cycling.  We got very wet BOTH days, so the phones didnt make it out of waterproof bags for photos!

The Lymington market was on, so we cycled to that … the sky looked heavy, so we headed into a very dog friendly pub and had lunch … good timing as it downpoured.  The next day we cycled whilst Sue and Mick drove into Brockenhurst … a light lunch outside … than goodness for the large table umbrella. We aborted the village walk after about 30 mins … the paper map was turning to papier mache.    On the third day, with rain forecast, I put the bikes away … we chilled and did some chores….  Not Laundry … as we left here for two days back in Chichester and abused Mum’s machine again.

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But I did manage to get one shot of some New Forest ponies.

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On the last evening there was a gathering … both Chris and Linda the blanket hoodies … but not as Pat Butcher as mine!  Looking cool girls!


1984-1987: Holbeach, The Wash

5th-8th July

We headed up to Lincolnshire for 4 nights for another motorhomer.com meet.  Not their usual sort of venue as we were jammed in on the rally field attached to a crowded campsite.  Not our cup of tea … a lot of children.  There was a pub and small pool on site.  The night we arrived we drove off to a neighbouring village and had a supper.  This time we had the Merc with us and we were very pleased to have it as we escaped for two days.

The first outing was excellent … we’d seen signs  along the road for the rearranged wood work show merged with a craft and food show at Sandringham Palace.  And only a few showers!  Crafts included wood, jewellery, glass etc.  A food demo tent and falconry.  We got chatting to a lady minding the birds and she gave me a couple of the feathers off one of her own birds.  Ever since I got one of the rooster tail feathers from our Turky lockdown camp site, interesting feathers now get stuck into one of the two knitted hedgehogs on the dashboard.  We thought we’d be there an hour, but spent 3 hours.

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Think there must have been a chainsaw competition as a number had all been given a similar sized huge lump of wood which they were working.

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After the show, I took CO2 for a walk along the Great Ouse on the opposite bank to King’s Lyn.  It doesn’t look big from here but sprawls …

I’d never been up to Norfolk Lavender when I had a holiday home in Norfolk, so was keen to visit.  I was really disappointed.  I’d expected to see fields and fields of lavender, like the Dutch bulb fields, but just a small area of different  varieties.  Brunch and a good ice cream … but not worth the drive.

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I had read that Hunstanton had an amazing beach and cliffs so headed there to walk CO2 … got a bit of a shock when we arrived … have not seen so many amusement arcades in a good many years.

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The beach was amazing with a long promenade / sea defence wall.  Some interesting houses and then caravan park.  Two fun beach hut names … Sandy Bottom and

May (contains Nuts)

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We contemplated driving out on the third day, but hadn’t really read of anywhere we fancied going … so did a jobs day.  In the evening we watched the Barbarians game in the pub.  Since we were there we ordered food … it was burger night, so I ordered my chicken naked.  It truly was … not even a side salad until I asked. And not cutlery, so I asked again! Virtually indigestible.  I used a lot of mayo to get it down!


1988-1989: Jez Repairs and Stonehenge

9th-10th July

On the Monday we drove down to Andover and parked up in the forecourt of Abacus Motorhomes.  They are expanding fast: car and motorhome hire and motorhome servicing, with a huge new complex just off the A303.  H, the mechanic, is a van lifer and had supper with us with her gorgeous new Westie/Poo pup who’d not yet had her jabs.

Whilst Jez was being worked on, we drove the car to Stockbridge and had a walk along the Test Way.  I think we must have chosen to walk the most boring part of it.  An old railway track, dead straight through bushes.  Lunch at a waterside pub was much better.

We were asked if we could bring Jez in again the next morning to finish off … so we spent the night at the well used lane right next to Stonehenge.  As well as all the permanent and travelling vans, there were also two cars being slept in and one pop up tent … this contained a couple who asked me if these large stones over there were Stonehenge!!!

More parts to be ordered for Jez so we will back to Stonehenge and hopefully it won’t be misty and I’ll get a sunrise shot!

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So close, I even set the alarm for 5.30 a.m. and put the zoom lens on my camera to get an early sunrise shot … went straight back to bed … a blanket of mist!

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It hardly seems worth paying to get in, except you would be funding the 24/7 security guards.  Apparently they don’t have any shelter and are not allowed to sit in cars to keep warm even in the depths of winter!


1990-1995: Chichester

11th-16th July

We tried another Chichester Campsite called Sunnyside not far from Bognor.  It had hook up but the hard standing was some compacted gravel and we’d have to drive over the grass to get to it in winter … so not sure this is our Autumn / Winter home.  Some OK walking from there … although the first night I was out with CO2 I suddenly found myself flat on my back.  Oscar had galloped up as he was out of his comfort distance from me and careered into my leg.

Maddy come down once for a walk and supper and then we met her in Parham Park for a walk and picnic.  You pay (unless you’re and National Trust member) to use the car park … a very reasonable £3 for all day.  But God forbid you should want to use the visitor facilities such as the toilet or the cafe … we were told no … we’d have to buy a ticket for the house!  We couldn’t have minded paying a fee to pee … but al fresco it had to be!

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Looking back to Parham Park.

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Oscar does love a stick, better than chasing deer.

Goodwood is very close to the Aged P’s so we went to lunch at the hotel restaurant … it was very good … well Dad didn’t make the best starter or pud choices, but the rest of us did.

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White chocolate coated strawberry shortcake parfait.

Monday 16th was a super busy day.  We saw J’s consultant in the morning in Southampton, who said he could travel to Ireland for his daughter’s wedding, but not OK for him to go to Greece.  In the afternoon, I attended my ex-father-in-law’s funeral in Aldershot and then we bought J a new suit, shirt and tie … the tie almost cost as much as the shirt!  We had booked flexi tickets  for the stupid o’clock ferry for the night of Tuesday, and now booked a campsite near the wedding venue.  

In case we could go to the wedding, we’d previously sorted out CO2 for travel too … we had eventually found a vet who after much negotiation would administer working tablets and sign their EU Pet passports.  Vets are in short supply apparently … many leaving the profession as so many practices are now owned by big corporates and expect staff to work 60 hour weeks.  Compounded with no supply of young vets from Romania or the Australia.   If we had needed an Animal Health Cert, CO2 would definitely not have been able to come, as most vets seemed to be booking these in 8-10 weeks hence.  They nearly didn’t come as it was … I mistakenly went to one of the satellite vet offices and rang James crying … they’re shut!  What do we do with CO2?  J was checking their pet passports for kennel cough and about to look at kennels … when I realised my mistake and the correct office agreed to see me!  Phew!!!  Getting dogs into Ireland is harder than France … as well as worming tablets administered by the vet, you also need to send their animal agency an advance notice form and the animals are checked on arrival.

So I’m just about all caught up and the next blog will be from Ireland and the wedding.



1954-1976: Mostly Dorset and Chichester

Catch Up Continued .


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Should’ve been in the last post … ignominious!

 

1954-1958: Corsham then Chideock, Dorset with Frances and Edward

6th -10th July

On leaving Snowdon we spent 2 nights in Corsham and Alison came to supper on night 2.  We really have done pretty well with catching up with folk on our travels.

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Gift from Alison.  Perhaps I should start a small portable garden.  Got herbs now.

Frances and Edward arrived ahead of us at the C&CC Temporary Holiday Site in Chideock, Dorset and in proper motorhomer style had set up well away from everyone else!  I discovered that another Alison and her family were camping at Eype where we used to hold our annual Girlie Camping May trip … well they weren’t actually camping.  In the wind they managed to snap 4 out of 5 tent poles and were in an emergency static caravan.  On our Girlie Camping weekends we were under canvas.  The only time we used a caravan was when one of us was pregnant … Alison assured me it was not the Caravan of Confinement but of Convenience!  It hadn’t even crossed our minds that guests would not be allowed to sit outside for a drink … major events were allowing crowds … but the Camping Club have not caught up so as we asked to make it quick.  So it was a quick drink and then they went off for a pub supper.  We managed to eat pretty well too, with us hosting one night and then Frances cooked the second.

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Being close to Golden Cap, we went for it. … we came from back there.

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James and Edward at the top.

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Oscar and I to prove we were there too.  Last time we were up here was during my 50th house party in the February before we set off on our travels.  

With the weather not being brilliant we took the car and drove to a village Frances had visited before … Moreton.  On the way we stopped off at Poundsbury for coffee and cake.  This is a massive new village on the outskirts of Dorchester … brain child of HRH Charles … him who dislikes bad architecture!  What we saw was lots of modern replica old style properties but completely crammed in next to each other … very few open spaces and high density of population.  Not at all a desirable location.  We nearly lost both James and Edward … navigating the garden centre amongst the spades and pot plants on the circuitous route to the toilets!

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  Moreton church:  Pretty unprepossessing on the outside …

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All windows had been blown during the war and Lawrence Whistler (brother of the more famous artist James) had engraved all the replacements.  Stunning.

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We wandered through the local gardens, which pretty much were going to seed … obviously insufficient volunteers.  If only she’d’had her trowel; Frances was itching to sort it out.

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T E Lawrence’s grave is also in Moreton.

1959: Sunday Lunch in Farnham

11th July

Leaving Dorset, we one last reason to stay over in our usual site … Coxbridge Farm in Farnham.  A much rearranged (down to my piss poor planning) Sunday lunch with my old school friend Michelle, Craig and their daughter…  and we managed to catch the end of the Wimbledon Men’s final between courses.  

And on the next morning we had our second vaccination in Basingstoke.


1960- 1976: Chichester

12th July

We are trying out a number of 5 pitch sites in Chichester as we will be here a lot longer than planned .. certainly into winter. James has discovered a medical issue and we are waiting for surgery … he really is high maintenance man!  So we split our time between Woodlands with more space, woods and lots of deer at £8 p.n. and Cobnor House with less space, but fabulous walking around the Chichester Harbour at £12 p.n.  We really cannot work out which we prefer, but neither have hard standing or EHU … which we will need when there is less sunlight to harvest from our solar panels. Further local camping options to investigate.

Brian and Zoa were already installed when we arrived … glad he was first as he had to be towed off the boggy ground, so we knew to park on the track!  And I got another night off cooking as Brian cooked one night and I the other.

We did quite a number of day trips out with the Aged Ps, including Bosham, Haling Island … not as full of caravan parks as we had expected and a mini tour of information boards about the WW2 army presence followed by … another good lunch!  We also walked from the Aged P’s new house down the Cirencester Way (no idea why it is so named) into town and tried a veggie cafe, food was good by no alcohol was less so!

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Woodlands with lots of space.


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Handsome pooches.   

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We’ve managed to eat out a fair bit … on our own and with the Aged P’s.  Several ice creams, coffees and cakes on day trips out with them.

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Part of the set menu in Purchases in Chichester … went with the Aged Ps and liked it so much we went back with Maddy to celebrate her getting a FIRST in her Business degree with Surrey University … fast tracked in two years!  

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The BEST chocolate fondant ever. 

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The espresso martini was lacking something compared to when I make it … enough alcohol!

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Maddy and Jordan came to Fishborne Roman Palace.  Interesting but when you’ve seen the mosaics in Sicily and Greece ….

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Emsworth is really pretty.  Another eating out venue for J and I and then we came back with Maddy and Jordan.

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Hake and alioli on a crab risotto with seafood bisque … yummy.

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Emsworth with its protective harbour wall / walkway.

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It wasn’t my decision to get CO2 a doggy ice cream each, but I did end up paying for them!

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Evening walk around Cobnor.  I said what a good climbing tree … Maddy had have a go.

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Competitive Jordan went further and Maddy’s imperious arm of “Get down NOW, you’ve gone far enough!”

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Looking over to Bosham.  Interesting pronunciation … Drop the H and say it like bosom!

1889-1943: Move and Medical

Catch Up Continued .

1899 – Saturday 8th May onward:  Out of Quarantine 

Saturday 8th May

We both quite enjoyed being in the Combe Martin House despite quarantine.  Surrounded by our things and keeping busy organising, sorting and buying ‘necessary’ items online!  But it was good, really good to be heading to Rothbury, my home since aged nearly 6, but not for much longer.  

We stopped off for coffee in Taunton with fellow motorhomer Robyn.  She has re-joined the corporate world.  We spent a couple of nights with the Aged P’s as Jez was still in storage with Abacus in Andover.  Maddy cooked for us all one night; she’s turned into quite a competent cook.

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Unpacking some of my deliveries!

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Maddy bought me a Peanut Kit Kat Chunky … Mum started it, then we shared this between 4 … we ate slowly!

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I wasn’t aware Corrie needed reading glasses!


Re-acquianited with Jez – Temporarily?

We collected Jez from Abacus … he’d been cleaned and buffed.  Engine service, hab service, lots of minor repairs.  We paid, collected the keys and walked up to him.  Sense of awe at how big, particularly tall he is.  Climbed inside and thought how fab he looks.  I bombed down the motorway, enjoying driving him.  But not for long …. we’d made the decision during quarantine to sell him  Reluctantly.  Our issue is timing.  As new Greek residents, we have to be in Greece for 6 months every year.  Under Brexit, we cannot take a UK registered vehicle into the EU for more than 6 months out of 12.  The sums just didn’t compute in our favour.  No way could we import him … about 29% of purchase price AND we would never sell him in Greece as right hadn’t drive and over 3.5 ton.  Logically it made sense to sell in the UK whilst prices are buoyant.  No stock in Greece due to a luxury tax that killed the Greek motorhome market, so import from Germany.  Under 3.5 ton so J could drive and left hand drive.

Before we reloaded Jez with all our stuff on pallets in the Aged P’s garage, we took empty photos and stuck them on AutoTrader and FaceBook Marketplace.  I even did a YouTube video extolling his virtues and his few flaws!  There was some interest, but a LOT of time wasters.  We dropped the price and a chance mutual acquaintance introduced us to a lovely couple who even had a second viewing.  I know we were pitching the price high, but he carries a serious amount of equipment for off grid, security etc etc.   In the meantime, I started doing more research on costs and what we could import from Germany.  With import duties around EUR5-6k, paying an import agent, costs of visiting Germany (if possible) or buying sight unseen, then properly equipping it for off grid.  Oh, and worries about what we could carry … we’ve over 1200 tons of payload in Jez so carry serious cooking kit, 2 huge e-bikes, a doggy trailer and the twin tub.  Lin and Bo have just bought a stunning new Hymer, but won’t be able to drive with all tanks full and it will be a choice between bikes or spare wheel …. could I (me particularly) manage without all my stuff?  So with the prospect of dropping the asking price again and only being able to buy a bag of potential expensive trouble, we were starting to have doubts about selling.  Our critical time for having a motorhome is whilst we are in the UK for our normal summer UK,  Ireland and Scotland summer tour.  We have a large tent and camping kit in Crete and AirBnB do good deals out of season for touring within Greece.   So thank you Dawn and Greg for NOT buying Jez.  A huge sense of relief once we made the decision NOT to sell.  

We will have to find Gold standard storage in the UK when we return to Greece.  The insurance for both UK vehicles has also gone up as we’ve had to take out ex-Pat policies.  Very few specialist brokers.  Jez has gone from around £550 with 365 days in EU to £980 with only 6 months in EU … and they didn’t even charge me the 10% premium for sole driver!

I have to just say we feel very blest with our friends.  Lin and Bo offered us longterm storage fo our van stuff until we could return with the new van to collect it.  And Robyn offered us the use of her A class Florian to bridge the gap between selling Jez and retuning to Crete.

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A couple of the marketing pix.

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The BIG Move

The Aged P’s had been seriously drasticreducing clutter for their downsizing.  “It’s a lovely house but no storage” is now going on Mum’s gravestone!  Everytme Clare and I asked about an item, oh I sold that, or it was thrown out.  I got on the FB Marketplace game too and sold a driveway awning, Jormax panels, airbeds etc.  Clare and Chris continued their good work with sale and purchase negotiations, dump runs etc.   The Aged P’s were pleased when we took the last of our stuff down to Lin and Bo’s barn in Exmoor.

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Stuff we didn’t plan to take back to Crete when we thought we would sell Jez.

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Lin and Bo were away so we set up camp in the farm yard.

The new build house in Chichester had not been signed off and the Aged P’s couldn’t even exchange on it.  The end of June, with the stamp duty concessions, was approaching and the buyers for Rothbury would have pulled out.  So … the Aged P’s became homeless for about 10 days … could it become a family trend?  Even when they had exchanged and completed on 25th June, they couldn’t move in until the removal company had a slot to deliver the furniture.  So what do homeless folk do …. go on holiday of course!  A night in a posh hotel and then off to Northumberland.  They stayed with Clare and Chris and got the trades in to do quotes for blinds, bedroom furniture etc.  It is a lovely house and the lack of storage is being sorted!  Not enough for us to keep more than a wash kit each!  And our UK car in the ‘car barn’ … But the spare bedroom is dubbed my room and the new bed coming is referred to as mine!  So I’ve not been completely cast off!!!

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Rothbury looking rather bare.


Medical

We’ve been double jabbed and have the NHS certs to prove it.  Just got to work out how to get the UK vaccinations recognised onto the Greek health system, but that’s a problem for another time.

I had my slightly overdue woman bits checks.  Smear was all clear.  Mammogram was a call back.  I was not unduly worried as I had a call back last time for a small cyst which was syringed out.  However, this time there were small calcifications like grains of salt.  These are normally benign, BUT can be the start of cancer.  Given my best friend died at 49 from breast cancer and another bestie is going through treatment, it was a relatively tense time waiting from the biopsy result.  But it was all clear.  I am now left with a metal marker in my boob and a small scar at the site of the biopsy, but no need for extra screening.  I am very lucky.

James had another super low (perfect) PSA blood test … his prostate cancer is not showing any signs of returning and long may it remain so.  


Friends and Falling for the UK Countryside

The weather remained horrid … it affected both of us.  James never used to be affected by rain but has become more acclimatised to better climes.   Walking was a pain as CO2 had to spend a lot of time in their body bags and we felt we were constantly trying to dry clothes.  Bearing in mind, we’d left Crete thinking that we were coming to a UK summer and left most of our boots, warm and wet weather gear back in Crete!

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Grey and wet view from Jez at our usual Coxbridge Farm, Farnham site.

We found solace from the weather by eating lots … a meal out for a another belated James’ birthday celebration, dinner with Caroline and Terry, partial Girls (Al and Gill) and Mum and I fed each other a good number of times.

Whilst waiting for the BIG Move, we headed off to meet up with friends and joined a couple motorhomer.com meets.  And the weather did mostly perk up …. 


1915-1919 – Thursday 17th May to Tuesday 21st May:  Bron @ Blenheim & Littleborough

In convoy we set off for a motorhomer (aka Wildcaming.co.uk) meet in Littleborough.  En route we stopped off to see Bron, the missing ‘Girl’ who’d not joined us a week back.  We did a sneaky left the van in the free Blenheim Palace car par.  As I hopped into the Merc for the short trip to see Bron, J declared that the Merc was still playing up.  It had lost power a few days before and a local garage had cleaned a filter (£50 for cash) and assured us all was well.  It obviously wasn’t and we didn’t have faith that it would make it up to Littleborough and onward.  So we left it at local family garage patronised by Bron.  

Littleborough was great … lovely location, although busy around the lake with folk from Rochdale over the weekend.  We met up with old faces and relaxed after all our business.

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Looking back to the meet.  No rugby on but there was a cricket match.

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Hollingworth Lake.  We ran around it before the weekend crowds arrived.

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Did a couple of walks and not a lot else!

1919 – Tuesday 21st May to Thursday 3rd June:  Pately Bridge

Tuesday we shifted not too far to Pately Bridge; a Club Temporary Holiday Site.  Margaret and Shirley shifted further, down from Melrose, Scotland, via the dealer they’d just bought their big new-to-them Hymer … a couple of issues … We had 2 nights with them before they had to return to the dealer with a nasty water leak.  We ambled around, taking the dogs for walks, ate and chatted.  Just wonderful to ooze with them.  It was their wedding anniversary, so we picked up some tasty morsels from the fish shop, butcher and grocer.  A  rare good weather day had inspired us to BBQ.

We stayed on an extra night and revisited a cafe for amazing smoked salmon and cream cheese pancakes and to die for rhubarb ice cream.  We both agreed that we could have happily stayed on and explored more of the area … gentle lush scenery.  Judging by the number of walkers, good walking country too.

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Corrie,  tight rope walker, navigated the length of the wall.  Oscar would have fallen!

 

1922-1924 – Friday 4th to Sunday 6th June:  Overlander Show,  Surprise for Danny and an Annual Haircut

Where does all the traffic come from?  We’d thought congestion was the province of major cities and the south.  Cars and trucks everywhere, even on what should be quiet roads.  We set off for the motorhomer.com (wild camping.co.uk) area at the Overlander Show in Stratford upon Avon.  A huge number and variety of visitors staying over in their mortohomes, overlanders, conversions, converted ambulances, horse boxes etc.  We’d arranged to meet with Lisa and Danny, part of our Turkish family.  Danny had no idea we were to be there and Lisa kept him in a pub nearby until we managed to get parked up first.  We then walked back along the queuing traffic to leap out in front of their van!  They were parked up one side of us and Pat and Jim, who we met in Orkney, were the other side.  3 good nights of sharing food and wine.  

And Danny had the joy of cutting my hair … he’d cut it last in Hungary in July so it was due!  Again, a man’s optimistic view of what 6” looks like! 

 

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1936-1939 – 18th to 21st June:  Wet Wiltshire with More Turkish Family  David and Karen

We stayed on a 5 pitch site not far from Glastonbury … and it pretty much rained the whole time, so long walks were out of the question.  We did 3 cities in 3 days …. Glastonbury, Wells and Bath.  And frequented numerous coffee shops and pubs / restaurants.  Oh and Clarkes Shopping Outlet village.  A new pair of walking shoes for J as his existing pair were leaking, which had to be rectified given this English summer.  New tops for me and bedding for Jez.  Having made the decision to keep him, we are (or rather I am) changing the colour scheme!

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Quirky graffiti in Glastonbury.

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Glastonbury Tor.

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Well Cathedral, we didn’t go in due to the dogs … David and Karen suffered the queues.

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Vicar’s Close in Wells.

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Wells again … no pix of Bath as I think it was probably too wet to get the camera out!

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Corrie being spoilt again chez thegreygappers.com aka David and Karen aka the dog parents.


1940-1943 – 22nd to 25th June:  Burton Bradstock beach and walking

We moved south to the Dorset coast and the sun actually made brief appearances; at least the rain mostly held off.  

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Burton Bradstock beach.

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A bit up and down on the cliff walk to Bridport.  I did it alone with CO2 but when J and I walked it, we came back along the beach … but not too close to the cliff as you can see the landslip of parts of the Jurassic coast.

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Jurassic Coast.

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Camping and Caravan Club Temporary Holiday Site … plenty of space.  Jez is in the middle row left, with the car and dog beds airing on his bonnet.

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Someone on a FB group suggested a fab walk from Lyme Regis … we started with an ice cream!

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Four candles!

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We’d planned to have a cheap couple of days, but after the fabulous walk we found ourselves in one of the Burton Bradstock pubs … I had the lemon sole!

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Bridport.


1878-1888 You’re Evicted, Come and Get Your Stuff!

Tuesday 27th April – Saturday 8th May 2021

OK, so Im STILL playing Blog Catch Up, in a big way!

They’d discussed it, considered it and discounted it before.  So we thought leaving our stuff at the Aged P’s house was OK.  Then we got that phone call.  We’re selling and down sizing.  Please come and get your ‘stuff’.  Research and a really useful FaceBook called Group Road Trip: UK to Greece & Back and we were fairly confident on what paperwork, tests etc we needed.  Right to transit is a very powerful travel card.

On another FaceBook group someone asked about getting a dog from Crete to UK, on behalf of an elderly friend.  We offered if the dog was not too big.  It turned out to be not one but two LARGE dogs.  The owners had been on Crete for 16 happy years, but infirmity meant they could no longer cope and were relocating back to their family farm in Kent.  We agreed to transport them!  Mad!!!   So our road trip became a Canine Odyssey! 

Departure Date was booked on 27th April, so we could enjoy James’ birthday on 26th.  Just before this Karl cooked a memorable birthday meal with his signature work of art cheese board and short rib beef which was unctuous.  We officially didn’t need PCR tests as transmitting Italy, but Minoan said we did, so we had them done at 8.00 that morning.  Results back at 2.00 – first hurdle cleared.  We collected our 2 guest dogs so all 4 could get used to each other before we crammed them into Zorba the Greek car.

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Rex was a nervous dog and took a while before he’d come into the house.

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Car seats came out, giving us a flat space for the 4 dogs.  All our SCANT luggage was tied vertically to the head rests to give the dogs lying sown space.

The Route

Day 1 – 27th April:  Departure onovernight ferry from Chania to the Pireaus on Greek mainland.  

Day 2:  Driving up to Igouminitsa for a longer overnight ferry to Ancona, Italy.  

Day 3:  Arrived in Italy late afternoon so drove for a couple of hours after curfew (had a form in case we were stopped) to a pre-booked dog friendly hotel.

Day 4:  Antigen tests in Reggio Emilia and drove to another dog friendly hotel near Nancy France.

Day 5:  Up through Belgium mostly to a hotel outside Calais. Constantly checking if Antigen tests were uploaded by the lab … considered going via an airport … moved crossing and booked an extra night in Calais.  As well as being the weekend, it was also a bank holiday across most of Europe … so everywhere shut!

Day 6:  Should have caught a morning train, but antigen tests were still not available online!  Sunday … wandering the delights of Calais!

Day 7 – 3rd May:  Free and fast antigen tests and late morning train.  Dropped Millie and Rex in Kent.  Collected UK car from Aged P’s and drove both cars onto our house in N. Devon for our quarantine.

 

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 Day 1:  A sunny spot on the Chania ferry before we set sail.  The cabin was very stuffy and smelly … with 6 bodies …. dog breath and flatulence!!

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View of the Drapanos Hill and Almyrida.  Gillian messaged me to tell she was on the Kalives beach and waving at our ferry, , so we waved back … not that we could see each other!!!

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The evening was spent completing all the transit during curfew and Passenger Locator Forms we needed for each country.  Fun!  A whole new level of admin and stress!  It was good we had, as there were a number of road block in Greece and one chap wanted to see the ferry to Italy form … think he was miffed he couldn’t fine us for breaking the out of prefecture rules.

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The ferry stopped at Heraklion before crossing overnight to Pireas.

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Day 2:  Early morning off the ferry and straight to a beach for a dog walk.

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We were in plenty of time for out evening sailing from Igouminista, so lots of dog walking and a really good gyros for supper.  We’d seen this old tub sail into port, but couldn’t quite believe that it was our boat.  But it was and it did make it to Italy.  Trucks but very few passengers.

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Day 3:  We didn’t arrive in Ancona until late afternoon.  So plenty of time to sample the extortionate EUR4 coffee, but it was an Pukka Italian espresso.  

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View of Ancona port.

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Early evening walk as soon as we found a beach once off the ferry.  Despite lots of coaxing, only 2 of the dogs pooped the poop deck.  Can you imagine holding a wee for 18 hours????  Cabin marginally less hot and stinky than the previous crossing.

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Milly, that’s Oscar’s bed!

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Settled in their own beds after lots of bed hopping!  Fabulous hotel with no charge for dogs and large room.

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Day 5  Whilst J was driving, I was checking for tests, investigating if anywhere was open for new tests, changing the Tunnel and booking an extra night in the calais hotel.  We couldn’t find anything open other than a few small service station shops, so breakfast and lunch were chocolate.  Supper was an emergency tin of COLD cassoulet I’d bought en route.  A tough day in many ways.

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Day 6: Tourists in Calais!  Think we’d done most of the sights by lunchtime!  Only 6000 steps seeing the Town Hall, Vauban citadel and lots of municipal gardens … one style of planting …. only 2/3 flower varieties and straight lines.

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Being Sunday , Covid and a BH weekend, we couldn’t find anywhere for a coffee and only found 1 restaurant open in all our walking around Calais town.  We ordered a takeaway … chicken and fish pie.  But again it was COLD, as the restaurant assumed we’d heat it up at home … hotel foyer microwave broken!  We were making good headway into our Greek wine stocks by this time!  Since Brexit, we are limited to 18 litres of wine per person, so we crossed with just under that!

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Day 7: Free antigen tests done, with print outs form the lab.  Dogs in the Tunnel French pet area … tiny and boring compared to UK side … national attitude towards pets?

 

Quarantine in our house in North Devon was OK.  We did pay for test to release, but lost a day due to when the weekend fell.  On the 2 days we had to post the test results we took the long way round to the post box.  And our neighbours walked CO2 a couple of times.  They would have taken them out more often, but the weather was dire.  Felt cold.  We cleaned both cars.  Did admin.  Still felt cold.  Sorted stuff in the shed.  Did some exercises.  And watched far too much TV!   Still really cold.  And thank you to all the Crete folk sending us pix of the warm weather there!  Mum had knitted me 3 garments, the first to be sewn together was a super chunky jumper, which I then lived in!

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We got through a lot of logs!

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Great excitement … a McDonalds McFlurry on release day!

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Tide out at Combe Martin.

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We ate well once released … this was the take outs for putting together at home from Thomas Carr Michelln *  and Lin and Bo, over in Exmoor fed and watered us! well.

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Mackerel and scallop tortellini.