Tag Archives: Small Towns

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 πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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 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.

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.Β  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 πŸ™‚

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 Β 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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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.

Little Downham

One of the main reasons we came up to Ely is that my English family were all originally from Little Downham which is about 10k’s out of Ely.

The main street of little Downham

Little Downham is a small farming village basically all centred around one main street.

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The church at the end of the road

At one end is the church which is like what you see on the TV shows and at the other end of the street is a pub called The Plough. Word has it that every generation in my family has had a drink in this Pub. It was shut when we were there so my turn will have to wait for another time.

The Church

One of my cousins Jan and her husband Bryan who are motorhomers too, organised the family to meet at another local pub called the Anchor. For Fiona and I, it was the first time that we’ve met most of them but I had known about many of them.

Outside the Anchor looking down the main street of Little Downham

Jan is a niece of my grandfather Bert and there were 11 brothers and sisters in the Miller family ! .. lots of cousins.

The whole family around the table

My grandfather Bert was a real hard case and was in the battle of the Somme during the first world war. He was a Tankie in one of the old diamond shape tanks in this battle and was one of the few to survive. He was listed as missing in action as they couldn’t find him!

Word has it that when he arrived back in Little Downham the town was deserted. He saw someone he knew and asked where everyone was. β€œOh they’re all down at the church at your funeral Bert!”
So off he went down the road. His mother was so pleased to see him that she scraped the dirt of his great coat and put in a tin. This has been handed down through the family and is now in the safe hands of my son Alex with all the other family military memorabilia. The dirt is said to be from the Somme but is could easily be from a puddle anywhere πŸ™‚ Good story anyway!!

Back to the reunion.. we had a great lunch .. it was neat meeting all those from my Grandfathers family. They’re a fun lot and we’re looking forward to doing another trip here to see them again.

Linda, Jan’s younger sister who lives in Ely very kindly gave us a ride back to the Lamb Hotel in Ely where were staying.

I just love these English towns with the history and the amazing buildings.