Hello to Everyone,
We left Menton heading for the Italian Riviera. Driving is madness, dodging, buses , trucks, pedestrians, scooters, cars, cyclists and anyone else crazy enough to be on the roads. On this occasion we set the GPS to avoid toll roads, a huge mistake, we got caught in crazy peakhour in a town called Genoa and were held up for a couple of hours.
Next stop Portifino, we kinda lucked this one, not realising that we were in one of the most exclusive parts of the Italian Riviera and it was stunning. We chanced a car park just outside of Portifino and the bus to go into town basically picked us up at our front door. It was easily as good if not better than the French Riviera. We shouted ourselves to dinner in a nearby town, it was ok, with gratuity added and a 3 euro charge just for sitting down.
When we crossed the border from France to Italy the change was instant. We had gone from a clean well kept country to a tip. The place is pretty much a dump. With few towns bothering to manage there rubbish issues. The exceptions being Portifino and Sorrento. We are also finding the Italians abrupt and rude and crazy on the roads. If it wasn’t for the Romans and some nice coastline, there would be no reason to come to Italy. The beaches are just awful.
We are missing the great foods and wines in France as well, supermarket shopping has gone from a pleasure to a nightmare, with little or no choice except pasta and pizza and thats getting pretty boring.
From Portifino we headed to a group of fishing villages near Le Spezia. Very quaint and expensive, with spectacular cliffs and scenery, very, winding, narrow roads and crap beaches covered in litter. We paid 10 Euros for the pleasure of staying in carpark next to the busiest road in a town called Levanto. Onto Florence, a great compact city.
We intended a quick stop in Pisa to see the leaning tower, not realising that we were on the same road as the Giro d’Itilia, the Itialian equivalent of the Tour De France. Trying to get a wireless signal we pulled into a Mac Chuck. Someone had told us that all Maccas have wireless only to find it closed, when we tried to leave and head towards Pisa would were told we couldn’t as the road in the direction we were going was now closed and we had to head back the way we had come.
So off we went about 3 mins down the road, pulling into a service station to get petrol, we spoke to another cop and he said it was an easy detour and we had plenty of time. By the time we were ready to leave the road was closed in both directions and would be for a least 2 hours, so much for a early start and a quick trip to Pisa on the way to Florence.
After the cop got quite angry with David, I’m sure he thought we were going to join the tour and a lot of arguing and gesticulating between the cops and the locals a gentlemen with very good English suggested we gutter jump and drive through a paddock out the back of the servo and we would find our way to Pisa. Fortunately he knew what he was talking about and we made it to Pisa in one piece. We got to see the famous tower (amongst the litter).
Finally onto Florence. We camped, two nights in a place, south of Florence in the Tuscan hills, it was lovely with a great pool to soak up the Tuscan sun and only about a 45 min bus ride to the center of Florence. We had a great time, queuing 2 1/2 hours to see Michael Angelo’s David and lashing out on some leather jackets and wandering around town.
From Florence to Rome. Again to a campground. Rome was fascinating, practically the ongoing archeological dig site in itself. It was also hot. We stayed in a campground about an hour via public transport to the heart of Rome, alongside Lake Bracciano which supplies the drinking water to Rome.
The ride in and out of Rome was quite pleasant with a nice little bar at the lake end. It was also reasonably priced at 14 euro a night with power. The first morning at the campground we were exceptionally proud of our effort to be at the bus stop by 8.20am, only to watch the bus drive by, we were standing in the wrong place and the next bus wasn’t due for over an hour.
Fortunately a dutch couple noticed us and offered us a lift to the train station. We rode on the train with them and they were quite lovely, but we became worried we the told us they normally stay in nudist camps and the asked if we wanted to go for a drive with the the following day. We declined, they didn’t actually look that great with clothes on!
We spent the first morning finding our way to the Romanian Embassy to try to get visas organised. This was our third trip to a embassy, twice in Paris. We arrived to find out that we were in the wrong place and needed to head for the consulate on the other side of Rome, we were told not to bother as it closes at 1.00 pm, at this stage it was around midday.
We spent the afternoon site seeing, meeting an Irish couple, who we toured Vatican City with. The following day, we made the early bus and had effectively figured out the Rome public transport and had efficiently made it to the consulate by 10.00 am to be told to come back the following day between 3 and 4. By this stage we were about ready to change our plans and just give Romania a miss, but decided to give it one more go.
Again we spent the afternoon seeing more of Rome and sidestepping all the rubbish. The Trevi Fountain was a definite highlight. We met some fellow Australians from Kalgooli amongst the throngs, who were away for a couple of weeks.
Third day more site seeing in Rome and then back for the fifth time to the Romanian Consulate, we actually got a showing, to find out we need health insurance, so we photocopied our Medicare cards. We are not sure yet if we have a Visa, but I guess we will find out when we try to pick it up in Thessalonika. We throughly enjoyed Rome, despite the Italians and were happy with our choice of camp grounds.
It had a neat little restaurant on the waters edge where we shouted ourselves to a meal of, yep pizza and pasta beer and chilled red wine for less then 20 euros. It also had clean bathrooms and continuos hot water.
On the way from Rome to Sorrento we managed to take the wrong turn in Naples and go down a one way street the wrong way. This didn’t seem to bother anyone any where near as much as if you were slow starting of at the traffic lights. We had to back out of that one as the street was not quite wide enough to turn around in.
Naples was definitely a scary place to drive. When we got to Sorrento we spent some time driving around looking for camping ground we finally settled for the one we looked at first even though at the time we didn’t think it was very good it got the money as it was only a short walk into Sorrento.
We chanced a meeting with Richard and Helen, people we had made friends with at Menton. We new they were heading for Sorrento but we were unsure if we would catch up with them or not. They booked into the same camp ground as us. It was great to have some company that was close to our age as a lot of the other people we were meeting were much older retirees. The first day we were in Sorrento we just spent wandering around and exploring the town.
We went out that evening after dinner with Richard and Helen for a Beer and I have never been served such a large beer, 1.5 litres I think for 8.00 euro. Only needed one. Next morning I went for a walk down to the local fishing boat Marina to take some snaps only to find that the main lens we use on our camera had crapped out. It would not work and had a loose bit rattling around inside. I spent about 3 hours obsessively trying to fix it much to Rockets frustration. The only thing I managed to do was prove what Rocket said at the outset was right and that was that I new nothing about camera lenses.
The next day we headed for the Isle of Capri with Richard and Helen, Helen’s Mum & Dad and Emily, Helen’s cousin. We had a great day. It is a little off putting when all the decent beaches are “pay for use”. We did manage to find a place where we could swim from a crappy free beach to a fairly nice spot that was otherwise inaccessible.
We left Helen’s Mum on the crappy beach, where she very kindly minded all our stuff while the rest of us including Richard and Helen’s dog Oscar swam to the nice beach. Oscar and Alby worked on their synchronized rock diving act (wait for the photos) while we generally took it easy on the beach.
Back to Sorrento for a quiet night after everybody exhausted themselves at Capri. Next day Rocket and I caught the Train to Pompeii. Pompeii was buried in Volcanic ash around 79 AD after Mt Vesuvius erupted. The town was sealed in a tomb of hardened ash until excavations started in 1748 to unearth a well preserved picture of life over 2000 years ago.
Some of the buildings that remain intact date back to before 500 BC. Amazing to see a lot of things haven’t really changed that much. the one disappointment was the amount of rubbish that lay around the site and the inadequate attempts at actually preserving what was there. We arrived back to Sorrento to catch up with Richard and Helen and were lucky enough to get an invitation from Helens Mum Evie to dinner. We had a great night out and thoroughly enjoyed everyones company.
While in Sorrento we were trying to organise our Green Card Motor Vehicle insurance to travel through Turkey as Turkey is not part of the EU. We spoke to someone at the insurance company before we left and it was meant to be a simple process.
Wrong! We started of with the Vehicle recovery number in France as all the other phone numbers we had were free call numbers and could only be used from the UK. We managed to get a number we could dial but it was a call we had to pay for. On two occasions we got put on hold for so long we had to hang up for fear of the cost of the credit card call.
I eventually got through to somebody who told me what we wanted to do was impossible as we had to get the card sent to someone in the UK and they could forward it to us. This was not an option as the time frame that the insurance Co. had said to allow when we contacted them in the UK did not allow for that and we did not want to have to stop somewhere in the north of Greece waiting for it to show up in the Greek mail.
If you think I was getting frustrated at this point it was nothing compared to Rockets frustration with me at not being able to organise our travels better. We eventually got onto a really helpful guy at the insurance co. He gave us his email address and helped ensure we would get what we needed.
About lunch time we set off for Bari, on good advice from Mels mum, on the East coast of Italy where we were going to catch a car ferry to somewhere in Greece. We didn’t know where yet we were just going to sus it out when we got there. Like a lot of our travel plans they just kind of evolved.
Only problems came when Rocket and I started going down some completely different evolutionary paths and that lead to some fairly spirited if not entertaining debate about how I could be so stupid to not know where she wanted to go or perhaps as usual I just did not listen when she told me. Anyway after these occurrences she let me know in no uncertain terms where she thought I should go!
So onward to Bari via the very scenic Amalfi coast. This would be without question be one of the most scenic sea side roads I have ever driven also the scariest. Often only wide enough for one bus or truck, with every second bend blind and often nothing more than a crappy Italian built bit of railing saving you from a 200 metre drop into the rocky sea below.
Some places the railing was gone as something had already crashed through it and it had never been repaired. It was spectacular but it left Rocket a nervous wreck as she was on the side of the on coming traffic and I was not keen to get to close to the drop off. We arrived in Bari, to call it dump would have been kind, just in time to miss the last ferry to Greece for the day that had been delayed due to bad weather.
We later found the Italians could not come o terms with the fact that we just wanted to go to Greece and we didn’t care where. They were used to people actually having pre determined destinations. We resigned ourselves o having to spend the night and most of the next day in Bari which we were quickly learning was not the safest place for Aussies in a British registered Renault Trafic.
We drove out of town looking for a camping ground as we thought this would be the safest only to find on the out skirts of town about 5 spot scrub fires burning out of control with no fire fighters in attendance. If you think we were not very impressed with Bari you are right.
After about 35 km and nothing resembling a camp ground we started heading back towards Bari on a different road. We came across what initially looked in the dark like a camping ground but turned out to be a private fenced in residential estate complete with security guard on the gate. We asked the guard if he new where there was a camping ground and he took pity on us and let us park just inside the gate as long as we were gone by 6.30 am. A bit of a challenge for Rocket and I but by this stage we were desperate.
Next morning after a sleep and some breakfast in a seaside carpark, felt relatively safe in the daylight, we headed into Bari again to check out the ferry options. After determining Patra in Greece would be a good destination we booked on a ferry leaving at 6.30pm. We spent the rest of the day trying to find a super market to do some shopping and an internet cafe to check our emails, particularly the state of our green card. It took most of the day because every thing in Bari was a drama.
We got onto the ferry and found a good place for the night, we went without a cabin to save about 150 euro and intended sleeping in the lounge. In the lounge we met an American school group on tour from Missouri and befriended the teachers. We had a great night with them in the ships disco.
About midnight they headed for there cabins and Rocket and I for our special spot in the lounge. It became obvious fairly quickly that we weren’t going to get much sleep there. Even though we had been told we could not sleep in the van and that the main door to the car deck was locked Rocket managed to find another way down to the van. After assessing the safety issues and identifying an escape route should the worst happen we set up camp in the Renault. We got not a bad nights sleep except for the noise of all the trucks off loading at another Port on the way to Patra.
We arrived in Patra at 11.00am which became 12.00 after the time zone change. Driving off the ship the rear muffler parted company with the rest of the exhaust system. Charlsey you were right a symptom of the van not being used much recently before we bought it was that the inside of the exhaust was fairly rusted and with all of our travels it had rattled itself to death.
We are now carrying around the broken bit with some vague plan of getting it repaired. Although we may not, as along with the throaty, sportier exhaust note we are also getting noticeably better fuel economy.
Off the Ferry we headed for Olympia as Rocket and I both believed it to be the home to master sculptor Phidias’s “awe inspiring” statue of Zeus. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world. At least thats what we thought when we read in Lets Go Europe.
After about a two and a half hour drive and not being able to find mention of it we read the book more closely to find that Olympia had been its home up to about 1000 years ago where it was remove to Constantinople only to be destroyed by a fire there.
Not a complete disaster as Olympia was a nice place to visit and we found a reasonable camp ground right on the beach for our first night in Greece. Next morning we set of along the coast of the Korinthiakis Kolpos for the Korinth Canal. We had a vague plan of stopping before we got there if we found a nice spot along the way. We did find a nice spot but it was a bit early in the day and we thought we would find another. Well we were wrong we found a couple of places but none that both Rocket and I liked. I think I have to lower my expectations!
We eventually arrived at the Korinth Canal late in the day and after driving around some very bumpy, narrow and dusty roads to get a good view of it and some photos we ended up in the bus car park at the east end of the canal. This is where I made a major mistake. I forgot to listen to Rocket when she said this would be a good place to stop. I suggested we push on to a camping ground close to Athens to get an early start into town the next morning.
All of this despite Mel telling me all she wanted to do was stop and free camp for the night. Any way against her real wishes she agreed to head or Athens which was about 2 hours away and it was already 8.00pm. You guessed it the camp ground was a shocker we both got little sleep, again highlighting just how evolving travel plans can result in difficulties.
Anyway after about a day of looking for the right spot we got over that and found a great spot at a Marina only 6 km from Athens. We also found a place to park the van for free about 200 metres from the Acropolis. Loosing the day turned out to be a bit of a bonus as we ended up in Athens on the first Sunday of the Month with all of the historic attractions accessible for no charge.
We had a great day exploring the Acropolis and Plaka regions before heading for Cape Sounio about 70 km to of Athens to see the Temple of Poseidon at sun set, and yes this did still exist. We found a beach in a nice little bay just out of a small village with about 5 other camping cars set up for the night and joined them for the night.
We met some lovely German and French people and shared 3 bottles of wine with them. It was a rather entertaining evening as the German couple could speak a little bit of French and a little bit of German. The French people could speak only french and of course we could only speak english. Still they were nice people and we had a fun night. Right about now we were finding it to be difficult to get camping gas, the type of change over gas bottle we have for cooking and the fridge.
We tried many places all the next day, being directed from place to place that apparently definitely stocked it only to find they didn’t.
Hope we find some gas soon.
All for now more to come.
Well we are finally in a place were we can get a convenient miraculous wireless connection. Only problem is that somehow the last 5 weeks of on Tour has miraculously disappeared from the Mac.
We have paid a small fortune for a connection, 12 euros for 24 hours, but have nothing to send out. So here goes an attempt to catch up the last few weeks of travel.
We had a great time wandering around York and managed to locate the oldest and most haunted pub for a quick beer. We drove from York to catch up with family in the Peak district. They are related to Mels grandfather who was sent to Aus as a crim, not to many years ago.
We spent two days there in total the second night at the ‘local’ having one, one to many drinks and waking up feeling a little average the next day.
From there we headed to Wales, which is great country. It didn’t rain once and there is a castle around every corner. We drove from the peak district to the North of Wales, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay and Caernarfon, which has a sensational castle. Then through the Snowdonia National Park, which is stunning through Portmadog and spent a night in a camping ground in Abersoch with a amazing view of the Bristol Channel. The next day we headed to the Pembroke National park in the South and spent a night in a carpark, between a haunted castle and a cemetery, spooky, close to. Saundersfoot.
The following it was back to Shane’s via Stonehenge to regroup and oranges ourselves for Europe. When we arrived back at Shanes they were having a street party on our behalf! We wish! I think they were just having a party for the sake of it.
We left Uk from Dover, making our ferry by mere seconds headed towards Boulogne in France. We headed in the direction of Paris, spending a night in a carpark of a closed camp ground, but on a pretty little river. We got there quite late and when went exploring the next day, we discovered that we were in a town whose claim to fame was the fact the Van Gough had killed himself there.
In fact he had spent less then a month there before doing himself in and they had proudly keep the room intact for art lovers and the like to absorb the creativity etc, blah blah. we decided to give it a miss. Onto Paris. We found a great camp ground within about 3km of the center of Paris 25 euros a night. Although it was expensive, it was also convenient and an easy bus ride to the metro and inner city buses.
We did the usual, Notre Dame, Louvre, Arch De Triomph, went to the top of the Eiffel tower, walked the Latin Quarter etc. In total we spent 3 full days and four nights. Paris is a lovely city and we found the French to be very open and helpful.
From there we headed towards the West coast via Chartres, which is a lovely little town with the Chartres Chapel and through Le Mans and down pass Nantes and the Bordeaux region. We had a night in a car park with a bunch of vans near Les Sables and than just north of Bayonne in the pine forest. Turns out the coast was pretty dull and we would have been better to stay inland. The first place we really enjoyed on the Coast was the town of Biarritz.
From Biarritz we headed inland to the Basque region and spent a night in another car park in a town called Espelette again with a bunch of other vans and woke up to a happening little market. From there we started our trek through the Pyrenees, which were absolutely, stunning. Given it had been a while between showers, for the sake of the general public we headed to a camp ground, which great mountain views in Cauterets, were we drove over to the Spanish side of the mountains.
The following day we headed up to Garvarine again stunning. We drove up towards the summit and got some great shots of the Renault in the snow. We had intended driving over the mountains towards St. Giron however we had to back track a substantial distance as the mountains were blocked by snow and rock rock-slides.
We were heading for St.Giron as it was the nearest town of any size to a village called Riverenert. Melanies distant cousin Nigel gave us the name of his friend Mark who lives in the Pyrenees in a tiny Hamlet near Riverenert. We had planned on phoning Mark before we arrived but we could only use the public phones in France with a phone card and a phone card in France was 7.50 Euro, too much for one call so we decided to just lob and try to find him.
We drove into Riverenert and asked the first person we saw if they new Mark Bukowski. It turns out they did and they invited Melanie into their home to use their phone. Mark was not home but we got directions to his Hamlet which was up a very narrow winding road to the top of a very high hill. As we were slow in the van we pulled over to let a car past and it turned out to be Mark. He asked if we were lost and as soon as he heard our accent he said he had been expecting us. Nigel had phoned him.
Mark and his wife Maryanne made us very welcome and we stayed a couple of days. It was great to get an insight into what life is like in a tiny Hamlet in a remote part of the Pyrenees. Marks neighbour Bernard was a cheese farmer, making organic cheese in the traditional way of the region.
Bernard had only 11 cows and milked day and night by hand. Every 2 days Bernard would make 3 wheels of cheese out of the 200 litres of milk the cows had produced.Bernard was an interesting character and was very happy to explain and demonstrate the entire cheese production process to us.
Maryanne was from the South of France and she suggested some places we should see on the way to the French Riviera, places we never would have found without her advice. So we left the Pyrenees and headed for the French Grand Canyon which is just North of Canne. After driving for a good part of the day we found a place to park the van on the side of a quiet country road near Apt for the night.
After about 45 minutes in bed we were both still awake and had a really uneasy feeling about where we we staying and we packed up at about 11.00 pm and set of to find somewhere with a better feel. Nothing really happened it was just that we were both getting the creeps. We found a camp ground in Manosque about 20 K down the road. We set of the next morning after a good nights sleep and happened on a little town called Moustieres-St. Marie. It was absolutely beautiful and steeped in history. After wandering around and some shopping we decided to have our first cafe meal since we left the UK.
Next stop the French Riviera. We headed for St Tropez for an early evening wander. It was a bit of an eye opener watching the very rich swaning around showing of their sun tans and very expensive out fits. It was also our first exposure to the serious white boat and Mega Yacht scene in the Med. We left St Tropez to look for somewhere to park the van for the night and found a car park right in the heart of St Maxime with about 20 other vans set for the night.
We headed for Cannes via the coast road where we found they were setting up for the film festival, we spent a good part of the day taking in all the sites associated with the film festival along with the marina and shopping regions. There was a massive tent matching the dimensions of the glass pyramid at the Louvre for the opening of he Da Vinci Code. We both really enjoyed Cannes.
On to Antibes for a quick look and and we found a huge Marina, Yacht Club, boat yard region with masses of huge Mega Yachts. Seems like it could be a good place to look for work we made it to a camping ground near Nice for the night. We headed into Monte Carlo where it was absolute chaos as they were setting up for the F1 Grand Prix.
We quickly decided to get through Monaco find somewhere to stop for the night and bus back into Monte Carlo. Not far down the road we found a parking area that allowed camping cars to park for up to 3 days in Menton. We locked up the van and bused into Monte Carlo. After walking part of the grand prix track and checking out the marina for Mega Yachts and classic sailing yachts we went to the Casino for the obligatory photo on the steps. A brand new Ferrari M430 pulled up while we were in the photo taking process, we now have a shot of Melanie beside here new car in the Valet parking out the front of the Casino.
After not a very good nights sleep on a busy roadside in Menton we were ready to head for the Italian Riviera. The traffic started in ernest at about 5.00 am, it seems everyone was heading into Cannes to get a parking spot for the for the opening of the film festival.
All we have time for now, more soon about our adventures in the Italian Riviera. We have been trying to move trough he expensive parts of Italy as quickly as we can so we don’t blow the budget and we have found internet connection to be difficult to come by and fairly expensive.
David & Mel
Well we are finally in the UK.
Our last charter in the Bahamas was a shocker. Fortunately the other crew, an English couple, turned out to be absolutely wonderful and we hope to catch up with them in England.
We were not sorry to leave the Bahamas, in fact we couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Although we almost missed our flights as we forgot to change our clocks to daylight savings time. Fortunately David noticed in a nick of time, we were in such a hurry the only person we said goodbye to was our South African friend, the new crew (poor unfortunate people) and the taxi driver.
Bye Bye, Moorings and the Bahamas, no regrets, it was a great and amazing year, we saw many beautiful places, met many amazing (and not so amazing), people, and had some unforgettable experiences.
The day before flying out of the Abacos we probably did one of the most amazing things we have ever had a chance to do, we are glad we didn’t do it any earlier as we would have become addicted and spent ALL our money doing it. Cave diving.
Abaco has one of the most extensive underwater cave systems in the world, I believe second behind Mexico. We went with our eccentric friend Fred who had Christmas with us. Fred gave up working for the US Navy as a civilian teaching nuclear power management system to become one of about 20 underwater cave explorers worldwide.
He has lived on a 2yacht for about 16 years and pretty lives hand to mouth and has mapped about 10 miles of unexplored caves under Greater Abaco island. We put all our faith in him, to have lived through countless dives in the caves, on his own. We figured he new what he was doing.
Our first dive was a cavern in the middle of Abaco with a diameter of about 15m. The dive consisted of diving into tis puddle of water and dropping to a depth of 206 feet, about 63m.
David dropped like a lead balloon, I went a little slower to let my ears equalise and Fred stayed between us until I caught up, then he stayed deeper to be safe. We had to be careful not to hit the bottom as it had about a 10 foot pile of debris, decayed bits of trees etc. If we had of sunk into it would have silted out the entire Cavern to about 0 vis. This was an amazing experience.
The Caverns/ caves on the island consist of a layer of fresh water on top of a layer of salt water, this is called a halocline. when the first person goes through the halocline, it mixes the two levels of water and looks like an oil and vinegar mixture.
As the last person to go through the halocline it was pretty freaky watching David and Fred turn into a oily mixture. This entire ordeal of dropping to over 200 feet in a confined space in limited visibility and watching people turn to oil was a little out of my comfort zone is a small understatement to say the least , that is until narcosis sets in.
All of a sudden everything becomes just fine. In fact I was pretty impressed with myself to remember to look at my gauges, by this time Fred had us working our way back to the surface. On the way back the halocline looks likes like an eerie ghost movie, with hazy clouds in the water. it was amazing , we also encountered albino, blind fish.I guess you would also have trouble seeing with no eyes. Freaky stuff. This dive was great, but even cooler was the cave dive.
The cave dive, into Dans Cave, was an unbelievable experience and we both feel very privileged to have had the opportunity. The three of us entered into a space that was just large enough to fit the three of us. We dropped to about 30 feet and then descended through a tunnel at 45 degrees with a diameter of about 2 1/2 m to about 75 feet.
We then entered into a huge cavern, that blew our minds. It was about 10 – 15m across. It was still considered a cavern not a cave as you could still see a very small penetration of light from the entrance into the cave. Fred then took us through a penetration barely big enough to get through. We were now into fair dinkum cave territory.
Without torches it was as black as you could ever imagine. It was incredible. Huge Stalagmites and stalactites. Shining the torch through some of them turned them into huge glowing crystals. We penetrated in total to about 520 feet and did a small loop. In total we did about a 1000 foot cave penetration to just over 70 feet deep. I’d do it a again in a heartbeat. It was just random.
We flew to Orlando and had a week with our great friends Gary and Santa and their boys Alex and Marlie. In total we probably spent about five weeks in the states much of the time annoying Gary and Santa. We are grateful for their wonderful hospitality and friendship.
We caught a midweek red eye flight with Virgin Atlantic to Gatwick, in the UK and then on to a train to Portsmouth, where Charsely picked us up and drove us to his wife’s hometown of Bishops Waltham. A very quaint place not far from Southampton.
Charlesy drove us all around the country side and helped us find a poo brown Renault Traffic with a Holdsworth camper conversion. It is not the VW Kombi that I had my heart set on, but after almost a week in the Renault, I have to confess that it has gone like a trooper, for filled all the requirements, has just enough space and I am starting to grow attached to it.
In the last week we have driven to the Cotwolds via Oxford and spent the night in a caravan park in Stratford upon Avon. Had a look around then went to the Warrick Castle, which was just amazing. Then onto a small caravan park to a place called Hasely Knob.
From there we drove to Kendal in the south of Lakes District, then onto Windermere for a brief drive through and eventually we found a fantastic car park to spend the night near a place called Hawkeshead – Beatrix Potter country. The following day we spent having a good look around a large part of the lakes heading up to Keswick and yep – Cockermouth.
We also spent another night in a car park on the mountain side, again it was fantastic. From there we drove through a remote and amazing part of the Northern Yorkshire Dales. We stopped in a Largish town called Richmond. From there we drove down to York and got desperately lost, even with the help of our trusty GPS trying to find a somewhere to park the van for a night.
We are currently in a Caravan park just outside of York and Plan to head into to York for today and then move on later.
Hello to All,
Well we decided to stay the extra month and we are currently half way through our second last charter. We had a very quiet period through the last half of January and all of Feb with no charters.
I had a short trip to Del Ray Beach to bring a 26 ft Sports Fishing boat out to The Abacos. It was kind of fun and broke the monotony of life on the rock. Unfortunately Melanie could not make the trip as the owner would not cover another air fare.
The crossing was a fairly boring affair taking about 7 hours to do the 180 miles. The boat was a 26ft Regulator with two 250hp Yamahas, cruising speed about 40 knots.
We made friends with a couple working on a 60 ft Gulfstar yacht that had been chartered to a company building a resort down here. It has helped break the monotony of the quiet time of the year. We have spent quite a bit of time of dock just doing our own thing, mainly lots of reading.
A couple of weeks before our last charter started we went to Orlando to visit with our friends Gary and Santa. We drove over to Tampa and St Petersberg for a day. We also had a trip down to Miami and Ft Lauderdale. It was great to get of the island for a few days. We managed to get over to the Ron Jon store in Cocoa Beach and stock up on clothes which is nearly impossible to do in Marsh Harbour.
Just before our last charter Gary and Santa and there kids managed to get over from Orlando and spend a couple of days on the boat with us which was a lot of fun.
We had some bad news from home. My Dad (Ray) was diagnosed with a very rare form of B cell lymphoma. He is currently undergoing Chemo to be followed by Radio therapy. We are obviously hoping for a positive outcome.
Our last charter we had a family with four young boys from Texas. They were a lovely group and we had a fantastic time with them. As I said we are part way through our second last charter and actually counting down the days by marking them off with pencil on the head wall. The time seems to go slower the closer it gets to the end. We will hopefully be out of here by the 4th or 5th of April.
At this stage our plan is to spend a week or two in the States and then head for the UK, where we will annoy Charlesy Kate and Ben for a while. We hope to buy some sort of a campervan, something like an old diesel combi would be perfect and then spend about 3 months touring around Europe.
Anyway thats the plan at this stage but it could always change.
All for now.