Days 83 – 87: In search of warm and sun

83 – Friday in Frederikstad

More running, followed by packing up and using the emptying and refilling station on the campsite.  We are hammered on toll roads as we are over 3.5 tons … somewhere around 3 times a car toll, so we set Sally Sat Nav for toll free.  No idea how much she saved us, but the views were prettier than the main road and motorway, if slower and bendier.

We had been ‘collecting’ Norwegian beer and cider cans.  You pay a ‘Pant’ (deposit) on them and then post the empties into a machine that prints a credit note for use in the supermarket.  The machines cleverly spot fakes … it rejected a Finnish Fosters can.  K went in with two bags full and came out with the tinies value in milk and cheese spread.  We did well leaving Finland with only about 50p in local currency; K had looked for something for 6 NOK, but could not find anything that cheap!

We stopped off at Frederikstad.  K thinks it vaguely familiar .. Must ask Mutt if we visited this … she WILL know.  It is incredibly twee and pretty, but worth the stop.  It was a fort for over 300 years.  Cafes and craft shops now;  see the crochet bench below.  K had to explain to James that there is always room for an ice cream or cheese as they go into a different stomach.  He was eventually persuaded to have an ice cream so K could … too embarrassed to pay for only one using a card!

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And so to Sweden, once more.

We have parked up off the main roads in an archipelago overlooking the Tjorn bridge, which opened in 1960.  A disaster in the 1980s when it was destroyed by a ship in mist, who could not alert anyone for 45 mins that the bridge was down.  8 people died in cars that drove onto the bridge … and off.

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84 – Saturday: Another Archie Pelago

We decided to stay on the island and explore a bit.  The plan had been to go onto Gothenburg, which is the 2nd city of Sweden and had 4 pages in the guide book to denote its importance.  However, we were feeling a little citied out after our two days in Oslo.  And the weather looked fair … time to enjoy being outside.  We drove to the the tourist information in the main town on the island and picked up a cycling map and were told there was the annual harbour festival going on.  We had a wee dander down there and an ice cream (separate stomach, remember!).  What was really lovely to see was there was not a booze bar in sight.  Lots of coffee and cake, music (including the diesel engine for the country and western railroad sound), local produce and arts and crafts stalls, old wooden sailing ships with joyful bunting.  People were having a really good time without the need to get off their faces.

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The whole of the Swedish Ford Mustang Club had convened and James was finally towed away.

 

 

 

Lunch back in Chardonnay and call it a reaction to warm weather, but we both went for a nanny nap.  The bike ride became a distant non-reality.  We drove to the sculptures / ancient burial mounds and then decided not to go in as it was £8 each.  Just as well we had not cycled after all!!!

Back to our pitch of last night and the view of the Tjorn Bridge.  A BBQ at the picnic tables – lovely.

85 – Sunday: Driving to Denmark and Hamlet castle

Little to report … we drove, passing Gothenburg …. this will be another trip.  Arrived at the dock for the boat to Helsingor DK… paid £72 and boarded almost immediately.  Castle in view on arrival so we followed our noses and parked up between it and a marina.  We had a leg stretch around the very pretty town and fair gawped at what seemed really cheap prices.

Another motorhome had checked it out with locals… yes it was free.  The toilets were free.  The chemical toilet disposal was free.  And the water was free.  And yet, the castle car park next door was fee paying and packed!   We did laundry and both showered … it makes such a difference knowing you can replenish water supplies the next day really easily.

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86 – Monday: Ferry Unexpected Ferry

We wandered into the town to replace part of James’ e cigarette and by the time we had done this it was properly raining (again).  Our urge to visit the castle was washed away.  Something about the rain as we feel we should use the day as a driving day … so we did.  Replenished water and set the sat nav for fastest route to Bordeaux, near our destination for 12 days time to meet up with K’s family.

It was not until the symbol of a ferry came up, that we became aware that Sally Sat Nav was taking us down to Rodby for the ferry to Germany … we had expected to go across the Storbaelt and Little Baelt – island hoping through Denmark.  A quick phone call to Scandlines and J discovered that the 45 min crossing was less than we had thought  it might be … £85.  Given the Storbaelt bridge was £36 we decided to go for it.  Unfortunately, we had a 2.5 hrs delay as one of the boats had broken down, fortunately we could see it gaping hull in the dock, so no one was stranded at sea.  We took a  thrown together salad up onto the boat and, as it was 9.00 p.m. when we alighted, we headed almost immediately to a Stellplatz in Burg auf Fehmarn.  Stellplatz are motorhome parkings in Germany.  Sometimes they charge and often have sanitary services and electricity.  We had to do a wander and get coins for the parking ticket of EUR10 …  does this count as a campsite?  We have stayed in campsites for only 22 nights and in a fee charging marina for 2 nights. Pretty good going.

 

87 – Tuesday: Shorts and Driving

Exercised and K spotted really cheap shorts and trousers in the centre of Burg – she was definitely not moving fast enough!   Given she is using string to hold some up, it really was time to replace some items in her wardrobe.  After breaky we set off and returned with 3 pairs of shorts and one pair 3/4 length trousers – all for a grand total of £32.  We do like Germany and its prices.  The town offered multiple choices of lunch for around EUR10.  We also stopped at Lidl and bought fuel on the way.  As we departed, the queues to get into the town were humungous.  Mostly S and some DK plates all on a much cheaper than home shopping spree.

A driving day and the rain came and went and returned and left again.  Was K too optimistic in buying shorts?

Having decided to stop by 7.00 p.m., we found a free Parking … with free, if slow, wifi, at a place called Neuss (nice and free) Ski Hallen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Days 71 – 73: Artic Circle Revisitied

71 – Sunday: Narvik and WW2 Museum

We arrived at the Narvik motorhome parking just as most were leaving.  Exercised – we seem to regularly get up and drive to somewhere we can exercise off the E6 main road.  Breakfasted and visited the WW2 museum.  It covered the German attack, British and Allies counter attack, withdraw of Allies troops as needed on other fronts, 5 years of German occupation, resistance work and a harrowing section on the mass slaughter and abuse of political prisoners who were deemed lower than captured soldiers.  James was tour guide reading from the comprehensive English language booklet.  An old fashioned, but very interesting museum.  In a couple of years they will rehouse and probably make all interactive … we liked it’s quirkiness and low price!  There was a cable car to the top of the mountain, but it seemed pretty pointless as we could not even see the top due to the cloud!

Drove on through snow capped dark rock mountains and parked up with a couple of German motorhomes over looking the most amazing lake – the mists even lifted in the morning so we could see it!

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72 – Monday: Tyres and Arctic Circle

Night time sojourn – off-main road car park – with a couple of vans and a tent from Poland – which had people inside – who went fishing…..  We had discovered a slow puncture in a rear wheel which J tried to blow air into and fainted!  Back to the truth – J cannot muster 4.5 Bar or 65  psi – only after a really hot curry!  Drove to Fauske and what did K see?  A Michelin sign over a tyre fitters.  A quick U Turn and 2.5 hours later we had a the slow puncture repaired and a can of ‘stuff’ to that seals such slow punctures.  Fully inflated we set forth.

We climbed and climbed …. the mountains got rockier and the adjacent river was essentially waterfall after rapids along its length.  At the top it opened up and we are at the Arctic Circle – for the second time, but this time on the way down and heading towards warmer weather!  We stopped for a couple of pix … appropriately there was a lot os snow around.  Hard to see but we are actually in front of the Arctic Circle sign!  And, of course, this Arctic Circle centre would not be complete without a miniature Nordkapp globe!  We have spent 14 days in the Arctic Circle.  On the way down, the countryside started to open out and this river was calmer and got gradually wider.

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We stopped in Mo i Rana just to replace K’s running shoes at a massive (shop called XXL) sports shop:  a bit like IKEA … you had to follow the grey path through all the fishing, cycling, gun etc sections before reaching the tills.

We stayed in a free car park overnight just off the E6 main road – small car park – with ultimately 9 motorhomes and one motorbike !  Cosy….

 

73 -Tuesday:  Trondheim

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Up at dawn again (9:00 am!) and journeyed south to Grane village where 23 local men were shot by German troops for being members of the Resistance in 1942.  K norked – lighting up the whole of Norway in her new psychedelic running shoes – see photo below but watch with sunglasses only !  J ran – in his not so new and understated blue shoes, feeling shoe envy…   Then brekkie and SatNav set for Trondheim via a wc emptying and water loading facility – which ultimately proved as difficult to find as Alex Ferguson’s sense of humour when asked why teams visiting Old Trafford were never awarded penalties !  But, we prevailed…

The approach to Trondheim is impressive and looked to indicate a city of more than it’s 180,000 people. Then, we encountered the toll roads!  I must find someone to complain to – perhaps my successor as MD of a major UK road toll charging company!  Sally SatNav brought us to the only free motorhome overnight car park – full to the gunnels – we have parked in the adjacent pay park – all of £2.10 – and see what tomorrow brings…  It’s definitely getting warmer as we travel south – we have dispensed with the extra wooly blanket over the duvet at night – what night – oh for some stars !  I hear that UK is having a heat wave… 25 Centigrade?

Days 69-70: Mishap Morning!

69:  Friday: Driving Day

Little to report.  Again having planned a walk p.m., it clouded over and we felt lazy.  Decided against going to the Verstralen islands close by, as we really need warmer and sunnier weather to push us out the door to do a walk.  So will start to head south.  The guide book formed us that Nordkapp to Oslo is the same distance as Oslo to Rome so conscious also of time … we want to hook up with K’s sister and family and Aged P’s near Bordeaux towards the end of July.

Parked up with 3 other motorhomes and a very small hired Ford Escort van – this couple had a clever pull out kitchen, but the bed area was the whole of the rear with no blinds!  And it is light here 24/7!!.  Had a stroll on the harbour wall to the mini lighthouse.

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You can just make out the cluster of motorhomes in the centre

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70: Mishap Morning

Nice meal and a good nights sleep…. It needed to be for the unanticipated events of the morning!  As per our usual routine, we both prepared to run and walk – J to run 4 miles and K to walk/run for 50 minutes.  K set off a few minutes before J and the routine was set – each having a key for the van.  K returned – no sign of J – he should have returned after about 35 minutes!  K became increasingly concerned – J in hospital – no phone?  Lying unconscious on the roadside?  K decided to drive the van along the route to check for J – last seen giving a cheery wave from the top of a distant hill earlier during the walk/run. After only a kilometre or so, J appeared running towards the van – he had got lost – on a straight road in good weather conditions?  Mishap Number 1.  Does he need a guide dog?  Much relief though for both.

They set off to find a parking area to have breakfast.  A T-junction arrived and a right turn was the appropriate decision for the driver K.  As she turned, she remembered she had left her running shoes at the over night pitch – Mishap Number 2.  Unfortunately, on slamming into reverse, the driver side rear wheel slipped into a ditch which left the passenger side front wheel in fresh air – the van could not move as it is front wheel drive.  Mishap Number 3.  All brakes were swiftly locked – a number of motorists stopped to check if they could help and one lady phoned her husband to bring his tractor to tow us out. A charming chap – builder – was keeping us company – J staying in the passenger seat to provide some weight (?) as a counterbalance.  After some time – and more considerate enquiries from passing folk, tractor arrived – and extricated our home – no damage, but one soft tyre…  Breakfast was heartily enjoyed a bit later…..  When we had both recovered – sail was set towards Narvik…..  No further mishaps – don’t they come in threes?

Photos… etched in our mind!  We had not become blasé, but a missing James and a motorhome in the ditch has been a chastening reminder how fragile we, and our existence are.  A lesson learned and we got off VERY lightly.

Camped overnight just south of Narvik at a picnic area off the road.

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Tyre gripping … air!

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Would that be a a bit of a lean?

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Day 68: Maddy’s Ball and A

68 – Thursday 25th: Grr – Weather

Maddy sent me some pix of her all dolled up from her Leaver’s Ball last night …. proud of my beautiful daughter – don’t she scrub up well!

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Our overnight Football pitch … completely alone 🙂

The rain cleared for a while so we could exercise, but it was still damp and chilly in the air, so our planned walk did not materialise.  We drove through Lecknes, doing some basic shopping and getting rid of recycling.  And onto A.  yes, the town at the end of the island, really is called A.  As we came over the top a mountain, the clouds parted enough for the sun to poke through to reveal the most amazing views at Reine.  We, and as many motorhomes as would fit in the parking all stopped to take pix.  K even got tripod and changed camera lens, so sorry quite a few of similar subjects

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At A we parked up with our fellow at the museum car park … by night fall it was cheek to cheek / bumper to bumper motorhomes, but thankfully quiet from about 11.00 till 8.00.  More stockfish hanging to air but heads this time.  Surprising how large and ugly they are.  Small fishing village pretty, but little here unless you fancy visiting the museum all about fishing, or actually going fishing.  it is however, the Maelstrom Sea that when it get going, if wind and tide are in the same direction, the waves crashing on rocks can be hear d5km away.  Stayed peaceful for us.

Rows of suspended cod heads ... still not sure what they are used for.

Rows of suspended cod heads … still not sure what they are used for.

Close enough, thank you!

Close enough, thank you!

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Just part of one row of overnight motorhomers …

 

 

 

 

Days 65-68: Loftoten Vikings and Camping!

65 – Monday: Not quite to Plan

After our routine exercise before breakfast, K went out with the tripod and took some pix of a boat house on stilts as the colour of the water, rocks and seaweed fascinated her and played with shutter and aperture.  Still don’t know how the boats got to the water as the tidal range is minimal!  But the water truly reflects whatever is around it.  At one point on our journey the sea was so calm with the sky reflected in it that a cruise ship looked as it if was floating in the sky.

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We drove onto Svolvaer, as it is really the major town on the islands, to pick up some free wifi (blog upload and app & podcasts downloads) and visit the Tourist information.  Half failed on both counts.  No free wifi, so forced to enjoy a cake and coffee where we obtained the wifi password, and the Tourist I.C. could only give us some info on the one island.  Chemical toilet emptying does not seem to be plentiful in the islands, presumably as they are encouraging you to pay for camp sites.  The TIC had given us a list of emptying points but as most were campsites, we knew we would have to pay.  So, we duly pulled into the first campsite … it was sunny, it had really nice facilities and a washing machine …. the office was shut for lunch so we could not ask about emptying our toilet.  We got the table and chairs out and had our own lunch ….. 10 mins in, it was a no brainer … we would stay the night.  Actually really cheap; £18.50.  Wash loads £1.80 each and a shower £0.90.   Lovely owner who explained that he had worked on the site for 15 years and was now in his 4th season.   We did not move from the site all afternoon.  So lovely to get table and chairs out end erect the wind break (part of K’s leaving work gift) –  yes, my May camping girls, even had an erection beer.

In fact, we got so comfortable, that we booked for the next night too.

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Why move far?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

66 – Tuesday:  Bikes and BBQ

A leisurely start followed by some exercise.  James had followed a track behind the campsite which was hard work and came back as a sweaty puddle.  So we capitalised on his burst of energy and cycled, via a wooden church (did not go in as they charged the equivalent of the meat for our BBQ), back to Svolvaer to the supermarket.  Had lunch in the main square where the most humungous seagull virtually landed on J’s head after his sarney …

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Seagull Pose: just in case

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PM was spent very productively:  removing the skunk like stripe of grey from K’s head.  J was girded loins all ready to do the task, but lucky for him, could not get the rubber gloves on.  He was relegated to mirror holder.  Mum, I followed your technique and spotted a missed area to the side, but invisible as my hair hangs down 🙂  Really pleased to ge able to get rid of the grey

BBQ evening – bliss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

67 – Wednesday:  Weather change and Viking Museum

Having collected the final laundry load, exercised and performed full sanitary services on Chardonnay, we moved on from our comfortable pitch … really lovely to be still for a couple of days.  We drove down a virtually single track road with loads of other motor homes … thankfully lots of passing places to a small but major fishing village called Henningsvaer.  Just pretty but we got to see some of the stockfish hanging to dry and loaded in a truck.  The mostly cod is dipped in seawater and then hung to dry for the summer.  Protected from seagulls by netting – perhaps I should wrap J in netting?  Apparently you can buy it as a snack, bash it first to get the skin off as well as cook with it, after more bashing!  I had thought is might be like the Portuguese salt cod that i was not overly keen on, but we will keep our eyes open to try it.

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We had intended to skip the viking museum – how much more can one take … but the reviews of the Borg Viking Museum were excellent.  Despite the entry fee of £25 (thank goodness J is a senior – has to have some benefits!), we really rated it.  They discovered the longest Chieftain’s long house in Scandinavia.  Excellent AV interactive with individual headsets and artefacts to explain the importance of this site.  Viking living made real in the long house by staff and a walk down to the viking ship, passing an axe throwing youth (Health and Safety has definitely gone mad in UK – real fires and axes).

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Over night pitch on a side road, beside a little used football pitch and …. no other motorhomes … yet!

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