Category Archives: UK

The Chunnel Crossing

After checking out the new Niesmann and Bichoff at Telford, we all piled into Gary and Diannes, Harry the Hymer and headed to Milton Keynes through the traffic to collect Ralph the rental Hymer. We arrived just before 5pm and Peter the proprietor, gave me a run down on Ralph. Where the hoses were, the camp chairs etc and how everything worked.

Click on the images for Hi Res or a slideshow

Ralph is a real hard case machine. Its a 1992 Hymer with a 5 cylinder 2.9 litre Mercedes with automatic trans. It starts first pop everytime despite its 250000 miles on the clock. Its a fun wagon.

The Hymers in the carpark at Bearsted

We stopped at a Caravan park in Bearsted after battling the M1 traffic for a couple of hours and we arrived 3 minutes late at 8.03pm. The sign said no admittance after 8pm so we spent the night out in the carpark but still had to pay what I thought were extortionate fees of 34GPB (NZ$70!) without power and not much else. What a welcome .. Dianne rang and we were basically told “Rules are Rules !” .. not a nice welcome…no wonder the other Caravan Association calls themselves “the friendly group”.

We were close to the Channel Tunnel for the next morning and that was all that mattered.

We were away at 8:30 to get on the Chunnel Train. We arrived quite early and clocked in through both borders and parked our car in the C lane and went to get a cup of tea and look at the duty free stuff.

Fiona and Dianne with the Hymers waiting to board the train.

Gary and I stumbled on this amazing deal for internet for roaming all over Europe with a prepaid card from 3.  All the Truckies use it apparently but its great.

After an hour of cups of coffee we were asked to line up Harry and Ralph Hymers and get ready for the train. Its was amazing how quiet and how easy it was.. very streamlined. Dianne even got a wink from the French immigration man with his “lovely accent”!

Dianne and Fiona at the Duty free terminal waiting for the boarding signal.

About 10 minutes early, we were asked to move the Hymers onto the train.

Our view of Harry on the crossing

We drove up over a small bridge and then straight down a ramp and the sideways onto the train. You drive through the carriages until you get as far forward as you can then they chock your wheels.

20 minutes later with what was a very easy smooth ride and we were in France. It only took about 10 minutes and we were cruising up the carriageway to Belgium.

The Chunnel station in France with Harry on the ramp

Fantastic service and so easy.

Nibi

Nibi is our good Motorhome friends newest thing of beauty. It is amazing. These are considered to be like the Rolls Royce of Motorhomes in Europe and one look over it, its easy to see why.

Gary and Dianne with the beast behind

We were meeting Dianne and Gary in Telford to check it out before it gets shipped to NZ and we were running late. I texted Gary with an update saying we’d just dropped off the rental car and on our way in a cab to see them. The reply was.. “I’m in RV Heaven” .. I could picture him drooling over it but its neat that both Dianne and Gary are pleased with it as its been a long time coming.

A happy Dianne in the living area while Fiona inspects 🙂

It has a centre island bed with a centre Shower/Toilet bathroom arrangement and the living area in the front. Based on a Fiat Ducato, it is 8.8 metres long and has a custom Alko Chassis from front to back to give it car like handling. Gary also got the Air suspension option so it can self level and be raised to avoid damage on rough campsites.

We’re continuing on around Europe with them until early August and it will be back in NZ before they will so what a great homecoming present..

Gary in the garage

Nice one guys. I want one of these too 🙂

Shakespeare Country

While had the rental car we found that we weren’t really that far from Stratford on Avon so we’d do a trip up there for a look around.

Shops at Moreton on Marsh

On the way we stopped at a neat wee town called Moreton on Marsh and also had a walk around there.

Moreton  on marsh Hotel

We noticed one of the pubs there was doing specials around the Sky showing of the Lions V the All Blacks so we asked if we could watch the Americas Cup as a back up plan and they were very welcoming. We managed to get our Sky Go app and internet issues sorted so it wasn’t necessary but very kind of them.

Stratford on Avon was an amazing town. It was chocker with people having fun everywhere and again some more of those lovely old buildings. These looked even older but more Thatched roofs and from basic building practices.

The Canal was busy with a couple of Narrow boats set up as Ice cream shops doing a great trade. There were canal boats parked on the river and moving in all directions along with tour boats and a larger restaurant barge left while we were there.

We had a good wander up through the shopping streets to look at some of the old buildings.

The Oldest House

There is one house there that is said to the oldest house still lived in. Part of it has been turned into a museum. It is just great seeing all these towns and they’re all different.

The Oldest Pub in England

We arrived in Stow on the Wold early in the afternoon. I kept forgetting what it was called and reverting to Toad on the Hill but eventually I got there 🙂

Tetbury Market Square

On the way there from bath, we stopped in a town called Tetbury which has an original old Market Square building which is still used for markets. I’ve seen pictures of it in touristy brochures so was really keen to have a good look at it. We sat over the road from it and enjoyed a nice lunch there.

Click on the images to see Hi res or a slideshow

The Town square in Stow on the Wold
Fiona in the Square at Stow on the Wold

We later arrived in Stow on the Wold and what a neat wee town. We parked in the Market Square and pretty quickly identified what looked like a nice place on the edge of the Square. Amazing food and very reasonably priced and plenty of it. I had a Pork Pie and Fiona had a Tuna Sandwich with chips. We both ended up eating the other halves of this for tea 🙂

After an hour or so, we walked down to our Hotel called the Porch Hotel. Outside there was no parking but we found out that they 4 parks around the back and it was pot luck as to whether you got one and there was an empty park. I ran up to the square, grabbed the car and we were in.

Later in the day, we had a good look around the rest of the square and then settled in to our room at the Hotel. Just amazing. This Hotel was originally built in 947AD and is reputed to be the Oldest Pub in England and it looks it. The ceilings are all old beams, some lashed together and there is even some witches marks on the side of one of the huge fireplaces in the Dining Room.

The fireplace with the witches marks on the left

The Americas Cup was on and we managed to get one of our ipads to clock in to watch it live.

The main square

Lovely Hotel, very helpful people running it and the village was stunning.. again lots of lovely old buildings.

Buns on the Bridge

The temperature had dropped from the 30’s down to a nice 20C so we set out for a walk with Fiona’s school friend from Exmouth, Hilary.

Click on the images for Hi Res or a slideshow

Hilary and Fiona in Bath

Fiona and  Hilary’s dads  were both in the NZ and British Army in Terendak Military Camp in Malaya when they were both about 8 years old.
This was the first time they had seen each other since then so it was a real occasion for them both.

Escape route for seagulls under the bridge
The shops on the bridge

We were heading towards the  Bath Bridge for a look and maybe have lunch around that way. It is amazing with shops and cafes all built on the bridge over a weir and a canal so the boats can pass on the Avon river below. Stunning place.

 

Back to the Abbey Hotel where we’re staying.

On the way back to the Hotel it was really nice to see people in deck chairs and just soaking up the views and the sun.

A Heatwave in Bath

32 degrees C and I thought they only have snow here. Its Hot!!

Click on the images for Hi Res or a Slideshow

We were up early to leave our London digs and to get to Paddington where the Bath train left from, we had to catch two Tube Trains. They are amazingly efficient and once you get your head around them, theyre fantastic. We were at Paddington with time left over for a thickshake and some free Wifi at McDonalds 🙂

The Bath Abbey

After an hour or so we arrived in Bath.  We caught a Taxi to the Hotel which has to go round the back of Bath due to the one way streets to get to our Hotel, and then later in the day during our walk, discovered that the Station is only just around the corner.  Oh well .. it was hot and we had a fair bit of luggage to drag around  😉

We dropped off our bags and went for a wander around to check out the town. This is one very old town which I think was built by the Romans and like the other towns has the same stunning old buildings. Some of these though are really old.

The Roman Baths arch over the street

We spent the afternoon sitting out the heat under an umbrella with some cold drinks watching all the tourists board their buses outside the hotel.

Fiona in the Umbrella Street. I’m not sure what this was all about but it is a bit different 🙂

A lovely town with more to do with the rental car over the next few days.

Round and Round

We arrived in London about midday and from the train station headed straight to our Hotel by the British Museum.

The Morgan, where we stayed in London

It was really handy to everything and only a block or so away from two of the Tube stations from significant lines.

The British Museum just around the corner

The next morning, we headed up the road to a bus stop for the Hop on Hop off bus or as many call it, “The round and round bus”. Armed with our London pass, we headed off down into the London traffic on an open top Double Decker bus and it was great.

Click on the images for Hi Res or a slideshow

St Pauls from the traffic !

Down to Trafalgar Square and then we went left along the Strand and then to Fleet St. Here we hit the traffic and didn’t move for about 20 minutes!! It eventually let us past St Pauls and not long after that, we ended up at The Tower of London and the Tower Bridge.

From the Tower Bridge

Once we got across the Tower Bridge we hit the traffic again. It was almost gridlock and I think it took about an hour to get through to Southhampton bridge which is near where the London eye is.

There is a lot of construction going on down there with several new apartments blocks going up.

House of Parliament

We got across to Westminster where we got off the bus and headed for the Cathedral.

Fiona outside Westminster Abbey

What an amazing building and it just oozes history.

The audio tour is great and a must do but both Fiona and I struggled to understand what we were looking at as the Audio tour didn’t really line up with the map very well. We got there in the end and it was time to find a pub for lunch.

Just around the corner in Parliament St was the Red Lion pub which had an upstairs dining room. I had the biggest Cod and chips with mushy peas I’ve ever seen in my life with an English beer.
The fish was fantastic, the beer was fine.. it was called Londons Pride but not being a big beer drinker I was really just interested in a taste. I think I prefer Heinekin as far as beer goes.
Great service, resonable prices and nice food.. This was the first time I’ve had mushy peas and I loved them. Fiona had a chicken salad and that was great too. .. washed down with a quality English cider which neither of us can remember the name of.

The Household cavalry Museum

We left here looking for the Churchill War room but the queue was so long and in the heatwave sun, we decided to flag it and while Fiona headed for the Household Cavalry Museum, I headed towards the Marble Arch and got some images of Buckingham Palace and the arch itself.

Marble Arch

The Household Cavalry has a close association with the Coldstream Guards. Fiona’s dad served in Malaya with the Coldstream Guards under the then CO Sir Ralph (pronounced Rafe) Anstruther who Rafe is named after.

Buckingham Palace down the Mall

Fiona caught up with me at the Charing Cross tube station and we both headed back to the Hotel. It was hot. They were talking 30C! so we were pleased to get back to the air conditioning.

A good day and the bus is definitely the best way to see London.