Tag Archives: Small Towns

The Famous Martinborough Fair

We trekked back to Martinborough on the Saturday morning to a busy Martinborough rugby ground. There were Caravans and Motorhomes for Africa. It was the day of the Fair so people had come from far and wide.

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Back at the Park

The park was an amazing place and having gone to virtually having it to ourselves a weekend before with the Cruise Martinborough event to it being as busy as it was was great.

Friends Gary and Dianne, and Ian and Lynda went to Ngawi while we were in Greytown and they arrived back the day before. We met John and Yvonne from Ruakaka in their Dethleffs Nomad Caravan and they were here again too. It was going to be a fun weekend.

Fiona checking out the Jade

We all walked into town and had a good cruise around the Market. Where there were Hot Rods and Classic cars a week before, there were stalls in every corner. It was amazing.

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One of the things I really enjoy doing at these events is simply buying a lime thickshake and a bun and sitting in a street side cafe and watch the world go by. Its great fun.

The next door Neighbour.. Nice !

After a couple of hours of checking out every nook and cranny, we headed back to the park for something wet and cold. The wind finally dropped off a bit, but was bitterly cold. It allowed us to move out into the field where there was some raucous laughter amongst some dancing and singing along.

Out in the Middle
Cold !

A great day!

Rafe’s Track North from the park via the Dump Station

A Break in Greytown

Greytown is one of those lovely little towns that just oozes charm and is full of history.

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With up to 35C heat, we thought a trip to the Greytown pool next door to the wonderful little Greytown Holiday Park, well it would be rude not too! The pool is free being provided by the kind citizens of Greytown and it must be slightly heated as it was about 28 C in the pool!

The Gypsy caravan which you can rent at Greytown Holiday Park

The Holiday Park is fabulous with Ken and Nina at the helm. Ken is a real character and couldn’t be more helpful. At $35 for 2 with the NZMCA discount with power, it is very good value. And of course the use of the pool next door !

Fiona checking out one of the oldest Greytown Cottages in the Museum

We were both keen to check out the Shoc Chocolate shop which is almost part of the local Museum.

Inside the Cottage

The Cobblestone Museum is amazing and has a collection of several of the oldest buildings in the area.

The original Cobblestones

There were also a few clever people in the area. One called Donald Donald who invented the wool press and got world wide patents for it. This is back in the late 80’s. He was also well know for inventing a wire fence strainer amongst other things.

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A local Church, Hospital, School House and others were well set out in an area where there was originally the Transport Hub for the area with the original cobbles still intact.

A very mod front entrance of the Museum

And afterwards.. the Shoc Chocolate shop was a great place to stop too.

The Roar in the Square

The big day for Cruise Martinborough is when all the cars start in Puruatanga park, where we were staying and then all roar into the town square and completely surround the main square.

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It is truly a magnificant sight. The park in the middle under the trees, gets covered in portable deck chairs from the car owners to shelter from the sun. The coffee and Ice Cream carts are doing a roaring trade. The Cafe’s are flat out and its just a neat scene of people everywhere wandering through the magnificent old Fords, Chevrolets and many others.

Grants Plymouth and Caravan
BBQ in a hurry!

The time and money that has gone into these cars is unbelievable and it is not until you get a close up look at some of them that you can appreciate the craftsmenship involved.

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We spent an hour or so having a good look around before settling for a good old fashioned lime thickshake from a milkshake bar in the square.

End of the day

An amazing scene with several retailers saying that they wished it happened more often ๐Ÿ™‚  So do I !

Where we parked in relation to the square

Peace and quiet at Otorohanga

It’s been a while since I stopped in at Otorohanga but I was on a bit of a solo mission to get to New Plymouth to catch up with an old friend.

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I didn’t have time to get into town this time to check out the Kiwiana which this town is famous for but we’ll be through here again soon I’m sure.

Great space and check out the river

We first stopped in here a couple of years ago when the NZMCA park was only new. Its a pearler being right next to the Waipa river and with the trees being bare of leaves, there is a great view right across the river to farmland beyond. The perfect outlook while you enjoy that later afternoon glass of Rose ๐Ÿ™‚

I pulled in later in the afternoon and there was plenty of room.ย  I was going to try the local campground but they had a policy of a minimum charge for two, even in the middle of winter so I decided to doย  without the power and settle for a nice spot by the river.

A walkway too.
The view from my window

With some high winds and plenty of rain expected, it was nice to be in behind the trees by he bank of the river too.

Nice park, nice outlook with water and rubbish collection and its interesting to see there is a choice between gravel and grass here too! Well done to those who look after it.

Rafe’s Tracker map to the NZMCA park – Armada GPS

The Village Bike Run

One of the things that we’d decided to do when we left Luxembourg was to find a spot we could stay in that gave us close access to some french villages.

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Ralph can be seen slightly behind the small tree in the middle

Dianne found a lovely community run campground in a little village area about 20 k’s west of Reims called Courmelois. There were two other villages close by within 10 minutes of biking and the fee at the camp was very reasonable. It was 20 euros for both of us with EHU (power or electric hook up) and nice showers, toilets and dumping facilities.

Harry and Ralph

It was all very relaxed and they basically gestured us to two power boxes and said we could park anywhere between them which gave us heaps of room. There were no sites marked out.

Pastries and Free Wifi. Dianne, Gary and Fiona.

We settled down on the first night and made loose plans to do the bike thing around the local villages.

The Village and the Campground. Canal along the bottom.

The next morning came around and it was time to get organised. I couldn’t find the key for the lock on the bikes. After an hour or so of stewing and turning the place upside down for the said key, we turned to plan B. I won’t say how we got the bikes down except to say it involved a toolbox and and the lock was useless afterwards but as Gary does, he had a spare ๐Ÿ™‚ We could use it to secure the bikes until we got back to the UK. Fantastic!!

Gary checking the map on his phone by the Pastry shop – Thuisy

We set off and within 10 minutes or so, we were in a lovely little village called Thuisy and there was one shop only there.. a Bread and pastry shop. Just what we were looking for so after a few minutes, we were off again to another village called Wez. As we came in to the village, we found a neat wee Pub on a corner and popped in for a cup of Coffee.

Gary, Dianne and Fiona outside a closed champagne place in Wez around the corner from the Pub.

They had a nice attached Restaurant so we decided to go for a ride and come back for lunch and it was amazing. We ended up staying here for several hours.

Gary giving Fiona encouragement to get up the hill!
Stopping at the canal to watch someone going through the lock

Leaving there, Gary found another village a little further away by the canal so we headed off down there but the village was deserted. Lots of lovely homes but no action at all and no sign of any people apart from the odd farmer. This was on a weekday too.

Gary following Fiona up the canal tow path

With it all being quiet, we decided to head back to the camp and had an early tea with the stuff we got from the pastry shop. Yum .. A nice day out biking in the fresh air dodging showers. ๐Ÿ™‚

Our route around the villages

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

One the Czech Republics Hidden Gems

We got a rental while we were in Prague so we could leave the motorhomes at the campsite and have a look around. One of the planned outings if you like, was to Cesky Kumlov which is 150k’s southwest of Prague.

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One of the Squares. Gary, Fiona and Dianne on the right

It is now a UNESCO protected World Heritage site.

A weary traveller having a rest.. Gary in the blue on the right

We set off about 9am and after a stop or two along the way, we arrived at Cesky Kumlov. The town was established in the 1400’s and was then German. Most of the buildings in the town were built in the 1500’s due to a discovery of Gold by the castle.

The town is built on what is almost an island by the course of the fast flowing river that almost completely surrounds it. The castle was closed on the day we were there as it was Monday. I’m not quite sure how that works but never mind.

The Castle above the town

There were a few bus load of tourists there but nothing like other places we’ve been to. We had a great meal in a restaurant by the river and walked around the village.

A stunning wee town and if it wasn’t for the local knowledge of Gary and Dianne, we would never have known about it.  A great day out. Thanks guys.

Culture and Canals

Just north of Amsterdam is a charming little coastal City of Alkmaar. The central part of the town is basically on an island ringed by canals.

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Ralph and Harry. Gary getting his bike ready

We stopped at Alkmaar Camping which is just on the edge of town but an easy 20 minutes into town by bike. It is supposed to take 10 but as usual, we got lost but we got there in the end ๐Ÿ™‚

The Campground is well set up but for what it is, I thought it was a tad on the expensive side at 32 Euros a night for two but its very easy to get into town and a nice relaxing spot to stop.

Fiona on a mission

After we arrived from Arnhem, we got the bikes ready and headed off into town. As I said earlier, yep, we managed to get lost on the way but quickly found our way into town. We locked our bikes together at the big church in the middle of town and then headed off down the narrow streets. Its a charming place and being a Sunday afternoon market day, the place was chocker. It was alive and kicking!

The main “shoe shop” street with the Church at the other end.

About about an hour or so, after the girls had checked out nearly every shoes and clothes shop down the main street, we made it to the canal down the other end. It was just a great sight. Everything you see in the tourist brochures and some.

The Canal by the coffee shop

People enjoying a cuppa in outdoor cafes by the canal, people in boats and it seemed to be all about people watching and shopping, drinking and eating! Way to go:-)

People getting together

We eventually ran out of shoes shops and started heading back to the bikes and made our way back to the camp, nearly getting lost a second time !

Apparently there is a beach on the North Sea only 15 minutes bike ride from here but we’re heading towards Amsterdam next.

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

With the Covid Germ still out there still and it stifling our travel plans, I thought it would be a good time to revisit our month inย  Europe in aย  Motorhomeย  following friends Gary and Dianne a few years ago…ย  about 15 odd posts!

Enjoy

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.