Tag Archives: Nice Food

Taking the Boys to Miranda

Our son Alex had a trip arranged to meet some people in the South Island for a few days so Fiona and I were on deck to look after the Grandies, Ayden and Liam.

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Parking in the street.. with auto wooden levelling blocks:-)

We parked Rafe over the road in a car park space in Papakura and I’d taken a couple of blocks of wood to level up Rafe with the camber which worked perfectly.

The boys were at School during the days so when Saturday morning came, we all went around to watch Ayden play rugby for his team at Ardmore. They were playing the top team in the competition so I think they would have been pleasantly surprised if they would win. The boys played really well, Ayden scored one of the two tries and they had a great game. The end result was 19-12 and after hearing the opposing coach saying afterwards say that Ayden’s team had improved vastly since the last time they played together, and it was a great game for both teams was really nice to hear.

Ayden in his half back role
On the charge

After the game, we went back to the house and then set off for the treat trip to Miranda Holiday Park in Rafe. Fiona and I used to go there quite often but haven’t been for several years so there were quite a few changes.

Checking in was a breeze and we were given one of our favourite parking spots against what used to be the hedge beside the driveway except its all gone ! .. Shock horror but I have to say it does look good the way it has been done and it lets a lot of light and sun into the place.

It had been raining for most of the day off and on so there was quite a bit of water around.

We hadn’t been there long when the boys went off for a bit of an explore and very quickly found that the office had ice creams and lollies πŸ™‚

The Miranda Office

It was time for a swim where we discovered the other new feature, which is the addition of a smaller toddlers pool next to the main pool.

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The last time we were here was with our friends Bruce and Judy with Rafe’s twin and Dianne and Gary from Taupo. This was when we discovered the Dog friendly campsites out the back. They’re obviously a hit as there are quite a few more there now.. what a great idea. A bigger pitch with room around your motorhome for the dogs to roam while still being fenced in from the rest of the Campground.. fantastic.

The Dog Parks

Its always a great spot to stay and always clean and tidy.

Later we took the boys up to the Kaiaua Fish and Chip shop for tea followed by another swim in the pool. It was then time to watch the first All Blacks Aussie game in the TV room before we all crashed for the day.

It was wet

In the morning, we managed to sneak in a quick swim before we checked out and hit the road home. A great few days. The boys really enjoyed it and so did we!

Rafe’s Tracker map to Miranda – Armada GPS

On the way home

After dropping of Ralph to Hireahymer in Milton Keynes, we caught a bus down to Heathrow directly and another local bus around to the Ibis at Heathrow for our last night. All very easy.

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In the morning we caught a cab to the Terminal and we were off.

The Singapore Skyline

In an effort to break up the long flights, we decided to stop off in Singapore for two days. We haven’t been here without just transiting for a long time so I was blown away by the changes.
Singapore was hot.. 32 C plus and it was only early in the day so the air conditioning was wonderful.

The Architecture was something else

The architecture is stunning. Trees in little pockets of glass 10 or more stories up and better. The most impressive of course is the Marina Sands Hotel area with the rooftop garden and pool.

One of the old famous Hotels

We got a ferry from Clarke Quay and cruised down the river to where they dropped us off at the Marina Sands shopping centre.

Marina Sands

We spent a couple of hours cruising around the shops and having a good look around. There is part of the shopping complex where there is a internal river with bridges over it for access to the shops. Locals will take you for a Gondola ride down this Pool/River as you can see from the photo.

We eventually made our way up to the Observation Deck on the 51st floor and had a drink at the cafe at the top. You’d only have one drink as it was expensive! .. A glass of wine was S$24!!

A panorama from the Observation platform.

We spent a good hour or so up there and then made our way down to the train station and back to the hotel.

The Marina Sands Hotel

The train system is fantastic. Unlike most places in Europe where the train pulls in to the platform, there is no platform. The train pulls in to the walkway area which is closed of to the track until the train comes in. The doors in the station line up and open with the doors on the train. Clever as there is no requirement for the platform.

The old and the new

As our hotel was on the edge of Chinatown, we spent the next day having a good look around there. The atmosphere was great and the people were fantastic.

Fiona at Marina Sands. The shopping centre on the left.

I came away feeling that we could have done with a couple more days there to have a better look around.

Our Last Day in the UK

There was free parking provided in a carpark right next to the Chunnel entrance so we took advantage of that for our last night in France. We woke up early to see if we could get an earlier crossing in the Chunnel as our booking was for 10:55am. Gary and Dianne were ready early so we were off.

Free parking in Calais

When we checked in, we found that we could get on an 9:50 crossing so we were in.

The Chunnel train port

After checking underneath and see if any stowaways were hanging on as requested by the British border man, we headed off to Starbucks in the duty free pavilion until our time for boarding.

Driving onto the Train
Driving up to our spot Gary and Dianne in front

It was all really easy. After spending 20 minutes or so in the carriage inside Ralph, we were in Folkstone, UK and drove straight out onto the the motorway towards the Dartmouth Crossing.

A bit of traffic on the M25 around London slowed us down but by 2.30pm, we were in Milton Keynes picking up our suitcases from Ralphs home at Hireahymer.com.

The camp

After this, we followed the Gary’sΒ  GPS settings to the Old Dairy Farm campground which is right by a canal. Just beautiful. A really small camp with about 15 powered sites on an old Farm.

Looking over towards Harry

We headed off in Ralph up to a pub about 3 k’s called the Three Locks Hotel which is as it says, right by 4 locks and by the canal.

A beautiful setting. We shouted Dianne and GaryΒ  a meal out on our last night as a way of saying thank you for being in their hair for the previous month or so and being great tour guides, especially of their old home country of the Czech Republic. We wouldn’t have had the confidence to do it without you guys. Thanks heaps to you both.

We had a great night there. I think we were all pretty tired as starting out in France early and driving to where we were was all a bit hectic.

Water coming through the lock gates
Two narrow boats in the lock

It was a relatively early night but what a lovely spot to finish off the trip.

Through the hedge is the Canal

In the morning we were taking Ralph home and catching a coach to Heathrow Ibis for a night and then our flight home to NZ.

The Market Town

Making our way slowly back to Calais across Northern France, we stopped in a small village called Boiry Notre Dame. The area around here is loaded with War cemetaries and references to both wars where the Germans absolutely hammered the place and often for no reason apart from to destroy the culture.

Fiona puts a poppy down at an unknown Soldiers grave on the way to Arras

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Hymer caravans coming in to the camp.

The camp we were staying at was on the edge of the village with a Maize growing area which went for miles on the other side. From there we could also see about 40 odd giant Wind Turbines grinding away and they were earning their keep as it was blowing. They had really bright LED lights at the centre and at night these change red and they all blinked at the same time. Quite a sight!

Our park out of town

In the morning, we caught a cab into Arras which was about 17 odd k’s (30 euros in the cab) and headed for the main square where there was a huge market on. Arras has three big squares all linked together and there are stalls everywhere you looked.

Lovely Crepe lunch

We sat down and enjoyed a Crepe lunch which the area is famous for in the main square. The square is dominated by an amazing old building which is the town hall, which has been rebuilt after the Germans dealt to it during the war.

The Town Hall

The main square is called Place de Heros which gives you an idea of where the locals stand with the history.

Fiona, Gary and Dianne getting into the shopping

After checking out more shoe and dress shops, we worked our way towards an old Cathedral around the back of the old square.

There are photographs and the story behind the cathedral is posted to the railings of the Cathedral which the Germans destroyed during the war. The Cathedral like many others has been rebuilt and looks fantastic.

At The Markets

We were going to check out the Wellington Tunnels but the people who run would only let us go in at a time that was too late for us so unfortunately we couldn’t do it. The Wellington Caves are a series of Tunnels dug by Kiwi Soldiers during the war under the town to surprise the Germans. Now part of the towns history and named after the soldiers who dug it out who came from Wellington, NZ.

Great atmosphere

We caught a cab back to the camp and sat outside for a while before tea.

A great day out in Provincial France.

Coffee by the Castle

Kitzingen is about 350 k’s from Prague and after stopping just inside the Czech Republic border to spend our last crowns on Diesel and lunch, we cruised on into Germany.

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Us before the rush

We arrived in Kitzingen about 2pm in the afternoon at a great Stellplatz by the river which was 9 Euros a night plus power at .5EU by kwh. It took two 50c coins to get through the night with just a fridge going and a couple of phones and a laptop charging.. pretty cheap. This works out about NZ$15 a night all up with  free toilets and dumping and it was a stones throw from the centre of a charming village with more of those lovely old buildings.

Gary looking relaxed with Harry and Ralph

We settled down and made a start on a 5 litre bottle of Estrella Wine which I’d bought for about NZ$9 in a Tesco store in Prague. I was assured from another shopper that it was ok to drink but we were a still bit worried about it. It was actually quite nice when you think what it cost πŸ™‚

Fiona walking across the bridge on the right. Lovely old buildings

The next morning, Fiona was off early over the bridge to the baker to get some buns for us all for breakfast then we all went back for a look and a cup of coffee in the square.

Later in the day, the motorhomes started filling up the Stellplatz and parked where ever they could. The place was chocker.

Busy town

A park right by the river with barges to watch go by, close to town and nice and cheap.

Spend up for the Russians

Approximately 120k’s West of Prague is the resort town of Karlovy Vary. It’s airport used to be an international airport as the party privileged in communist times used to fly in for their spend up in the shops and for its spa treatment.

Also famous here is the Grand Hotel Pupp which is the Casino Royale Hotel in the James Bond Film.

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Looking down the river at the shops

It is famous for its spa and there is an underground thermal aquifer where people have come to fix all sorts of ailments. There are various wells with thermal water at different temperatures and different minerals do different things!

The Grand Hotel Putt is THE Hotel in this great wee town.

Like the rest of the Czech Republic, the buildings are just stunning.

The view of the town from the Grand Hotel

Its is an important tourist area for the country and everywhere seemed pretty busy but unlike Prague, you could still easily move about.

Fiona on a bridge by the spa.

It seemed every second shop was a Jewellery or a Dress or Shoe shop so Fiona and Dianne were having a great time.

We eventually found our way to a nice street cafe by the river where we had a chilled water to cool down from all the window shopping πŸ™‚

The Spa

The Hotels there are something else and I can only imagine what it would cost to stay in them.

The shopping street.

A lovely town and another place where without the local knowledge from Dianne and Gary, we would never have known about.

And a map so you can see where this is.

Old Town Square

We had another of those GPS moments finding our campsite in the centre of Prague. There are a series of tunnels that act as the main route through Prague and under the river. There are even turn offs in the tunnel like a motorway network so when you get the lovely GPS lady saying half through a 80kph tunnel, saying turn right and you are at your destination, things get a bit confusing.

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Harry and rafe at the Prague Riverside Campground

So in a motorhome convoy, we followed each other around and around the motorway system to find out that the said campsite was right on top of the Tunnel by the Vlatava river. Thanks to a bit of sleuthing from our resident Detective Gary, we found our way in. The next hurdle was the lovely campsite girl’s English was probably slighly better than our Czech but we managed to sort everything out 😎.

The campsite was quite interesting but was pretty reasonaby priced for the 5 days that we were staying. $3500 Czech Crowns per van with two including power, toilets, showers and dumping facilities. This equals NZ$225.

The Prague Castle Courtyard

On our first day, we headed up to Prague Castle on two trams which took about an hour. When we got there, we realised we’d made a mistake going there on a Saturday on the first day of the school holidays. It was absolutely chocker.

The Queue for the tickets to the Cathedral .. Fiona is in the red jacket

There were people everywhere. After spending half an hour in the queue for tickets to see the inside of the Cathedral, we then discovered the queue was about an hour or more at least so we decided to head back into town and try again later.

The view of Prague from the castle
The old historic Trams

We walked down the stairs back towards Prague Old Town Square. Crossing the Charles Bridge, we saw where parts of the film Mission Impossible were made where Tom Cruise flipped a car and ran up to a bridge. The square is a now a little market square.

The square where Mission Impossible was filmed.

There is a post on the centre of the bridge which was where you can make a wish.

As we walked through the old streets checking out all the shops, we eventually got through to Old Town Square and the famous Tyn Church.

Part of the Old Town with Prague Castle
The old Town by Charles Bridge

We stopped at a pub in the Square and had a glass of wine and Cheese Board on a roof top terrace looking over most of central Prague which was magic.

Old Town Square and Tyn Cathedral from the rooftop.

A walk around the Square came next after which we made our way back up to Prague Castle to have another go at the Cathedral only to find it had closed. So we headed back to the camp to enjoy a glass of wine in the sun.

The City of Bikes

And it is Amsterdam. Dianne found a great camping ground just on the edge of town surrounded by Canals. The campground sold 3 day tickets where you could swipe on or off the tram as much as you liked. This worked really well.

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Ralph and Harry in Amsterdam

The first night we went in to have a bit of look around and ended up having tea in the town and checking out the red light area.

Fiona, Gary and Dianne trying to find somewhere to eat

Day two we got up early and headed in so Fiona could check out the Art in Rijksmuseum.

On the way there was a car accident on one of the bridges so that was as far as the Tram could go. One of the downsides of Trams of course is they can’t go  around the obstruction so we walked the rest of the way.

We stopped at a pub on the first night by the Cathedral for a beer
One of the larger canals where the accident was.

While Fiona was at the Art Museum, Gary, Dianne and I got on a Hop on Hop off round and Round open roof ferry. For 19 Euros, we could go right around the city by Canal with an audio commentary which was fantastic. Not great for taking piccies as you could only shoot out of the sides.

During the Hop on Hop off trip

One of comments which came across was that the canals are 3 metres deep. One metre of Water, One Metre of Mud and another Metre of bicycles πŸ™‚

Madame Tussauds in the Dam square

On our third day there, Fiona and Dianne were keen to check out a Diamond Factory. I didn’t think I’d like it but I found it quite interesting. It was quite tourist tatty and the free coffee was awful but great to see.

Fiona with a big sample Diamond

One of the curious things I found with Amsterdam is Bikes have right of way over EVERYTHING!

One of the oldest foot bridges over a canal

The Bike lanes are everywhere and they go like the clappers and they simply ring the bell if you get in their  way. It is quite intimidating. Also in the bike lanes are scooters and small cars and they go even faster. Often there is only a few inches between the edge of the footpath and a scooter doing 30-40kph! .. Its not uncommon to see people speeding along on bikes on their cell phone with a child strapped on somewhere.

Bikes rule !

So much history.. most of the buildings are centuries old and some have a lean either forward or sideways πŸ™‚

Next to the campground.

Amsterdam is a really interesting city. Next were moving on to Germany.

Clogs and Windmills

In Arnhem, we met a friendly Dutch Motorhomer who told us about this wonderful little village called Zaanse Schans and that we must pop in for a nosey. So thats exactly what we did and it was stunning.

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Old Buildings on the other side of the river
From the Bridge

Original old buildings and Windmills all restored and many open to the public. It is very touristy but done very well.

Charming houses

We looked for the Motorhome parking but couldn’t find it so parked a few blocks away at a railway station parking area but it was an easy walk to and fro.

Many of the houses were set up as museums and all offered something different. We had a nice Latte and one house, and then a Waffle at another and checked out the inner workings of a windmill.

Fiona and Dianne share a pair of Clogs !

There was a great Clog making display with all the machinery and you could buy almost anything with a windmill or clogs on it πŸ™‚

Zaanse Schans

We spent about 3 hours here and then headed about 20 minutes south for Amsterdam.

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.