This year, K & I decided we would combine a family visit (mostly mine) with a camping trip. Originally, we had wonderful ideas of going to England, visiting my family and then heading off somewhere warmer (e.g. Southern France) for the camping part of the holiday.
Then reality hit: we had 2 and a half weeks. Also, Southern France & England are in completely opposite directions from Stuttgart.
So, we bravely (stupidly?) decided to camp in England.
Actually, it did turn out OK & the weather was relatively kind to us. For the first 4 or 5 days, the weather was basically crap - rain & most of it horizontal. However, this was the part of the trip was spent staying with family (in their homes) or in hotels.
The remaining week, the weather turned, and despite a couple of really windy days (when we feared that the tent would turn in paragliding equipment), it was clear and even sunny most of the time.
If you're interested, here's where we went & what we did:
1. Halifax, Yorkshire - first family visit, where we even managed to have a BBQ outside (little did we know that that would be the last time we saw the sun for 5 days...)
2. Manchester - Lunch time family visit; lovely to reconnect with family, but shocked/surprised at how grown up my cousins are...
3. Castle Donington (with only 1 'n'), Leicestershire - Went to see the biggest collection of Formula 1 cars in the world. I came to the conclusion that once you have seen one Mclaren, you have seen them all... Also met a bloke in a pub who invited to go and see motorbike racing on Bank holiday Monday (the following week) We said we'd think about it, but K & him exchanged numbers.
4. Croydon, South London - A visit to Grandma. Was great to see her, she's still as feisty as ever, just not as healthy. But considering she's 90 & been a smoker for 70 odd years, she's doing pretty well!
5. Salisbury, Wiltshire - Here we went to watch Gurston Down Hillclimb (for those who don't know a hill climb event involves driving up a hill as fast as possible. The fastest cars take about 30 seconds. Not exactly an endurance sport!) If you want to know more & see some photos, go here.
6. Cadwell Park, Lincolnshire - We decided to take Yonny (Donington dude) up on his offer & trekked all the way North to see motorbikes. Yonny, of Sondel Sport Racing, invited us in & we succeeded in watching a lot of different bikes racing round. Watching motorbikes in the flash is WAY more exciting than watching them on TV. But i have to admit that it scared the crap out of me. Much scarier than watching cars racing - decided that anyone who takes up motor bike racing has to have a streak of insanity or else have a death wish!
7. Lingfield, Surrey - We were on our way to the South coast, but it was getting late & decided to find the nearest camp site. At first, things seemed OK, but we quickly realised we were directly under the flight path from Gatwick airport. PLanes are not quiet. Neither was the guy with the chainsaw at 8am the next day. And neither was the mechanics' workshop directly the other side of the hedge. NOT a good night's sleep...
8. Alfriston, East Sussex - After I gently persuaded K that NO, I WAS NOT STAYING ANOTHER NIGHT IN LINGFIELD, we hit the road and headed south towards the sea. Got to Seaford & found a nice tourist information office, who gave us information about local campsites. We ended up choosing one in Alfriston (after visiting one in Seaford that looked like it was owned by a gnome worshipping religious cult). Alfriston was lovely - really Olde Englishe & very quaint & touristy. But the locals were friendly & the sun was shining & there were no aeroplanes!
And there ended our England trip. We left from Dover & took the ferry to Dunkirk/Dunkerque - or however spell it. And then headed off the East Belgium (in the German speaking bit. Did you even know there was a German speaking bit? I didn't until last year...) There was a spent a lovely weekend with K's family; 4 sets of uncle+aunts, plus cousins, mothers and a dog (and a huge amount of alcohol, which is just the kind of family weekend i am am used to!)
Oh, I forgot the beginning of our trip. I decided that an overnight ferry from Rotterdam, Holland to Hull, Yorkshire would be a more time effective & relaxing way of getting to the North of England. Well, it was for one of us. We had a cabin with bunks which was nice. However, if one person in a relationship is a snorer, bunk beds are the worst thing EVER. It is impossible to elbow a snorer whilst in bunk beds. Therefore, one person has a blissfully ignorant night's sleep, whilst the other is a tetchy sleepless wreck.
I won't mention names about who the snorer was, but I'll give you a hint: the snorer wasn't German.... ;)