Isby On Tour
The Unlucky Day
After Lisbon, we drive again with our English friends from Brazil to the south. We are looking for a workshop, because we have to fix a few small things on the van. Therefore, we plan to go to Sagres, the south western most city of Portugal and make an appointment with a nearby workshop and then enjoy the Algarve, the southern coast of Portugal, until we can go to the workshop. But this plan is vehemently abbreviated, respectively redesigned. Just started driving, it happens suddenly. Simon wants to switch gear and says immediately, “Now we have a problem. The clutch is not working anymore!” After two calls at the ADAC and a three-hour wait, a tow truck finally arrives.
The guy with his huge loading platform is a number in itself. Permanently smoking and nothing to calm, he sets about to charge our "Blue Wonder". Of course, not without cursing, because the long Van puts his creativity to the test. At some point our van is actually loaded and the towing-man takes us to a friend with a workshop that would "only" take 2-3 days to fix the bus. The workshop, to which he drives us is big and very busy. The van is parked directly opposite the workshop and there we are waiting. Nothing happens today, maybe tomorrow. Well, now we spend our Algarve holiday in an industrial area of a suburb of Lagos!
The next day a mechanic looks briefly at our bus, makes a rough diagnosis and disappears. Nothing will happen before the weekend. At least we get electricity and wifi! We have to sit idle here all weekend. The only change is the local flea market.
Monday, today finally something should happen. Just before lunch, at 1 pm, they actually push the van into the workshop. That's a good feeling, hopefully they'll accelerate! In the evening we know better. They did not accelerate at all! At 6 pm the van gets pushed out for the night, after all we have to sleep somewhere. It is probably the broken disc in the clutch, but the rest of the clutch does not look good eighter. Tomorrow they have to see further. The uncertain wait tugs at the nerves.
Tuesday, we continue to wait and nothing seems to happen and at 11.00 clock I cannot stand it anymore and decide to go back to the reception to ask for the state of things. With a slightly whiny, very desperate tone, I ask for information. I also mention that we urgently need to take a shower and go shopping and that on Friday we have to pick up my mother in Sevilla. Apparently, my tear gland tactic works, in any case, they all look a bit mediocre now. A short time later someone actually comes to us. The woman has good and bad news. The good news are, that they now have all the pieces together and until tomorrow evening at 6 pm everything should be repaired, the bad ones, that it is going to be very expensive! But what do we have for a choice? We want to continue! I reassure that they will be done by tomorrow 6pm and she nods, so we are having a deal. Now, it is once more time to keep nerves and wait.
Wednesday, punctually at 9:00 am we are ready again and to our big surprise, at 9:15 am the receptionist actually arrives and says we should take out everything we need, the mechanics would push the van in in a few minutes. Fortunately, the weather is gorgeous again and we pass the time with dog walks and research about Sevilla. At 5:00 pm, I set off with Isby, for hopefully the last walk around this damned industrial quarter! My nervousness increases immeasurably as I come back into the street and really, the bus is out there! Big relief spreads in me, hopefully he runs too and they did not just push him out! But I can already see Simon holding his thumb up. Cool, we're really getting away from here! We do not hesitate for long and just want to get away from here! The clutch is stricter, but that's normal, the old one was so worn out. At a nearby beach, we celebrate our newfound freedom and enjoy one last evening with our Brazilian friends, because tomorrow our paths will separate again. Many thanks to the two, without you the week in our "Algarve Holiday Park" in the industrial area of Chinicato would have been even longer and more tedious!
Culture in Sintra and Lisbon and on New Year's Eve we run out of gas, in the house!
After Christmas, we set off to Lisbon to pick up our friends from the airport. Unfortunately, we often drive through burnt down forests. There have been a lot of forest fires in Portugal this summer and fall and the traces of it are visible everywhere. It is depressing to drive / walk through this dead landscape, but luckily the first, new, green peaks are already visible again. The last stopps before Lisbon are the beaches and cliffs of Nazaré and Peniche. The former is famous for its huge waves. The surf elite of the whole world is bustling here to ride these monster waves. On our day, the waves are too uncoordinated to surf, but they are still gigantic, up to 5 meters! Peniche is one of the westernmost points of the European mainland and its cliffs are breathtaking.
City traffic in the "Blue Wonder" is an adventure in itself, but we did not have to head for an airport so far. Fortunately, the airport of Lisbon is quite small, but we don’t fit into the parking garages and on the long-term parking we are not allowed to stand, because you need to buy a ticket online in advance (which we only find out at the entrance barrier and thus need to back out laboriously with the van). The only solution to this parking problem is to take rounds from the arrival terminal to the next roundabout and back until the timing is right and we can stop in the 10 minutes loading and unloading area, right in front of the terminal. I speed in and hope to see our friends soon, Simon and Isby hold the position in the bus. Luckily their flight is not delayed and so everything goes well and we can leave the car park in time.
We enjoy seeing friends from home and have a lot to talk about. In Sintra, a small, idyllic town on the Portuguese Riviera (west of Lisbon) we find our cottage quickly. It's tiny, find our friends, it's huge for us. That's how perceptions change.
In any case, it fits architecturally into the image of the city, which is known for its many romantic buildings from the 19th century. We explore these in the next few days, even by Tuktuk, because the streets and alleys are meandering snake steeply up the hill. Once at the top we visit the Castelo dos Mouros. A medieval castle on the hilltop. In good weather you could see all the way to the sea, but we have rather Middle Age feeling in fog and rain. The castle was built in the 8th and 9th centuries by the Moors (Arab conquerors of Portugal) and was an important strategic point in the "reconquista" of the Christians' recapture of Portugal. Just one hill further is the Palácio da Pena, a romantic palace that towers over Sintra. It’s a Unesco World Heritage site and already looks from the outside impressive and very colorful. It was once the summer residence of the royal family. Since the access to these monuments is forbidden for Isby and we have the 31st of December, we decide to return, so we can walk Isby before the fireworks start.
We want to celebrate a cozy New Year's Eve in our house and have shopped, to prepare lots of local specialties. So we sit quite comfortably with the appetizer and suddenly our friend calls from the kitchen, "I think we are running out of gas!" At first, Simon and I are laughing, after all, this is one of the biggest concerns in the life of a van traveler, but our friend stays serious. Just a minute ago, the seafood was still simmering in the sauce, now nothing works. But where do you find gas on New Year's Eve at 21.30 clock? The nearby gas station is already closed and it is dawning on us that we probably will not get a new gas bottle this year. We have no choice but to move to the bus with all the pots and finish cooking there. Ironically, but somehow also suitable for this end of the year. Incidentally, we have not heard any missiles. In Sintra it is absolutely silent, it seems as if all the residents have gone to Lisbon to celebrate.
Two days later, we explore Lisbon and admire the many different tiles that adorn the walls of the houses. Of course, our friends also want to take some souvenirs home with them, therefore the beautiful things made of cork offer a good choice. Cork is a material obtained from the bark of cork oak. The bark is harvested by hand. Like sheep are sheared for wool, the bark can be peeled off at the cork oak. However, the bark of a tree can only be harvested every 9 years. The trees can grow between 200-300 years old and generations of families can harvest on the same tree. It is an art to remove the bark from the tree without damaging it, so training as a cork farmer takes up to 9 years. The cork industry is the highest paid agricultural industry in Europe. Originally, cork was used for the cork tap as a wine bottle closure. Today, there is almost everything made of cork, just as many souvenirs, such as handbags, coasters, hats or even shoes.
Then we have to say goodbye again, our friends fly back to Germany, we return to our home, the "Blue Wonder".
Isby as an advertising medium in Santiago de Compostela and driving in the blue convoy to the Christmas party on the beach
First, we wish you all a happy and exciting New Year!
Much has happened to us since the last entry. This is the blessing of traveling, but also the curse of writing it down :)
In Santiago de Compostela, for example, we had an unexpected but very amusing experience. It only rained once that day! Nevertheless, we wanted to see the famous pilgrimage city and its cathedral and hurried in full rain gear towards the center. Even with rain jacket and pants you got wet after a short time and Isby was a dripping fur ball anyway. We did not get far. Already on the city wall, a woman waved to us and gesticulated that we should come into her business, even with a dog. Of course we did not say no as every shelter was convenient. When we entered the shop, we were excited to see that we had landed in a local specialty store. The shop assistants were so taken by Isby that he (and luckily we too) were allowed to taste the delicacies right away. When we wanted to said goodbye, the two saleswomen quickly donned a raincoat out of plastic bags for Isby. That’s how he became an advertising figure for their business and amused the brave tourists and locals who ventured out into the streets in this weather. When we finally left the center in the afternoon, Isby ran straight back to "his" shop and sat in front of the counter in his raincoat. Of course, he got some goodies again and a couple of days later I received an e-mail saying that they would hang up his photo in the store.
The rain in Santiago was followed by a storm in the night. We hid the van behind a tall house so we stood in its slipstream and played cards with our bus neighbors, but the noise outside grew louder and louder. Finally, Simon had to go out and look, the gutter of our "shelter" had already flown away and now rattled across the street. He secured the parts and put them in the lee of the house as well. Nevertheless, we slept well, after the hurricane streamer in Scotland, we don’t lose our patience that quick anymore.
"Noch em Räga, schint d'Sunna", it says in a Swiss nursery rhyme and that's how it was. The next week we had pure sunshine and it got even better. In the city of Ourense, a bit inland from Spain but almost right on the Portuguese border, we found a paradise for travelers. A free parking space with electricity and many hot springs, were led into several public pools along the river. We enjoyed the hot water and tested the different pools. One day we were particularly lucky, because the water level of the river was just right, so that the hot spring in the cold river was visible and we could even swim in the middle of the river. The town of Ourense was already founded by the Romans, who were originally interested in the area because of the gold in the river, but happily noticed that hot water was bubbling out of it. So, even today you have the chance to bath in pools built by the romans, in the middle of nature.
Here we meet a Brazilian couple from England. They also travel in a blue van and so we cross the border into Portugal in a blue convoy. Northern Portugal is beautiful green, first mountainous, then hilly. In Porto, the largest city in the north we explore the narrow streets, fortunately on foot, by bus we would get stuck. Together with the Brazilians we make Christmas plans and on 23rd of December we go shopping, fill up water and petrol and then we look for a nice beach for our Christmas in the Van’s. The 24th is a nice day, starting with a long beach walk, followed by a delicious brunch in the sun. Then we get really started. I decorate the cars, the men collect wood for the campfire, and from the blue van's flows the scent of Christmas biscuits and mulled wine. We enjoy these in the sunset, already in a group of six. For the cooler evening, we have also taken precautions and extended the awning between the buses and even covered it with a tarp from the back. We sit around the campfire enjoy the different delicious dishes that we had cooked. As a digester, we have real Oporto wine and home-made brownies with hot raspberries for the grand finale. Although I had some jitters about Christmas without family and snow, I have to say, we had a very nice and solemn evening!
We like the Life in the “Blue Wonder Bus” and after 5 months we have definitely got used to it. But soon a welcome change is coming up. New Year's Eve we will spend with friends, who come to visit us from Germany, in a house in Sintra. But I will tell more about it next time. Bye, bye and take care!
Isby Post 29
It gets festive in the Blue Wonder Bus
Even in the south of France it is getting colder and we are happy when we find a parking space with electricity. Then Lisa (our fan heater) will be used. Many things in the van have a name. Our navigation system is called Sissi,, because it is a moody diva, then we got a coaster called Tobi, because we bought it together with a Tobi and the teapots name is Hermine, but it was already called like that, when we got it. Oh yes, the milk frother is called SeverinJ All these things are now used more often in the run-up to Christmas, because we tried our best to bake. That's not so easy, in such a small van. But with our Swedish camping stove, which consists of three aluminum parts, it becomes possible. The lowest part is placed on the stove. Then comes the actual shape, which looks like a Gugelhopfbackform. In this one fills the dough, or even a casserole, everything you can do in a normal oven and finally the red lid closes from the top on it. Through the hole in the middle the heat of the gas flame rises and descends into the form. This creates top and bottom heat. Meanwhile, we are already quite good in it and have baked both coconut macaroons, and Totenbeinli (Swiss nut cookies). Often we also make bread, or baked casseroles and gratins.
The natural highlights of the last two weeks could not be more different. First, we feel like in the desert of the Sahara, then at home in the Flumser mountains. But one after anonther.
In Southwest France, the highest dune in Europe, La Dune du Pilat, rises out of the sea. It is up to 115 meters high and migrates from year to year deeper into the pine forest behind it. Isby thinks the huge sandbox is great, but not only did he jump around like a savage, we also had a lot of fun in the sand!
The second highlight is the National Park Los Picos de Europa, the oldest national park in Spain. Just over the border, the high, snowy peaks protrude. First they belong to the Pyrenees, then to the National Park Los Picos de Europa, which extends over parts of the autonomous communities of Asturias, Castile-Leon and Cantabria in northern Spain. We even drive through snowy landscape and everything looks much more familiar than in the last 3 months. Gentle hills turn into wooded slopes and end up in steep rocks. In the evening we always go back to the sea. There it is a few degrees warmer and smells pleasantly of eucalyptus, because everywhere are these mighty, fragrant trees. Since a week we are traveling more often in a group of four. We met a couple from Hamburg who explores Europe in their VW bus. Together we drive along the river Río Deva in the small mountain village of La Hermida. Directly below the village bridge, a hot spring is to flow into the river, so that you can sit in the hot water in the middle of the cold river. Sounds tempting, unfortunately, the river has high tide and we climb along the bridge, feeling with our feet, if we find the warm water. But it is at most lukewarm ...
So we go hiking instead. Many horses and sheep stand in the rugged slopes, looking for food. We cross a herd of sheep under the watchful eye of the Spanish herdsmen, luckily Isby walks confidently between us and then we climb the summit in the snow. The vultures circle above us, the whole thing seems a bit unreal, because we are at most half an hour from the sea and yet in the middle of the mountains. Simon and I are so excited that we return to the park the next day. This time we walk part of the way "Senda de la Ruta del Cares". The Cares is a turquoise, crystal clear mountain river meandering through the rugged limestone cliffs. A rock-cut path leads through the breathtaking gorge, connecting the two villages of Caín and Poncebos. You feel tiny, in this huge mountain world.
Soon, Christmas is here and we have tried to decorate the bus as much as possible. This is not so easy, after all, the space is limited and almost every little spot has a double function. So I have to tidy up my advent calendar for the rides and I also come up with a new version of the Christmas arrangement again every time we stop. "Nevertheless, the Christmas spirit comes up when we sit and discuss by candlelight and hot tea in the evening about where we want to spend the X-Mas days. We are still on the north coast of Spain, but soon we want to be in Portugal. Maybe we are celebrating Christmas in Lisbon. In any case, we wish you all a wonderful, stress-free pre-Christmas time. Enjoy the lights and scents, and your heaters, when it's cold and gray outside again :)
Isby Bericht 27
La vie est belle en France!
We finally made the jump! On the 18th of November, the night ferry brings us from Dover back to the mainland. The time in Great Britain and Ireland was fantastic, but now we are drawn to the warmth of the South.
Before we can start to the south, we make a short trip to the Netherlands. Because despite the EU and international standards, almost every country has other gas bottles and so it is always difficult to get the right bottles for our stove and heating. But the Dutch should have the same bottles as the Germans, so it's worth the trip to the north for us. Without any problems we get two new, full gas bottles there and can now drive gladly south.
It pulls us into the heat, that's clear. That's why we drive for two days and make only a first stop in Rennes. France is great, many villages and towns write at the entrance to the village that they have free Wifi and almost every place has a communal parking space for campers. This is a signposted parking lot where you can sleep for free or very cheaply and drain both wastewater and fill up with fresh water.
Back on the coast, we visit the famous salt marshes of Guérande. If you enter Guérande on Google Maps, then you can see the size of the salt gardens that run between the sea and the city along the coast. Here, about 500 families work with the help of sea water, sun and wind to gain the perfect salt. The most valuable salt is called "Fleur de Sel", salt flower, and forms only during hot summer afternoons, when the wind blows. Then the salt crystallizes on the surface of the water and has to be skimmed off very carefully by hand. The salt of Guérande is exported all over the world and of course we cook with it now, as well :)
While the first photos of snow reach us from Switzerland, it actually gets warmer for us and thus gives Isby time for a new haircut. His fur did a good job in Scotland and Ireland, but now it has to go. See for yourself, the Before-After pictures. Now he looks like a plucked chicken, but feels poodle well again :)
Another highlight on our way south is Nantes. A city famous for its art and culture. We visit "Les Machines de I'ìle". A new art project, which was launched by the imaginative theatrical artists, François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice. On the site of the former port facility of Nantes, they build huge mechanical structures in the former shipyard facilities, which are to unite the "imaginary worlds of Jules Verne, the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci and the industrial past of the city of Nantes", as they say themselves. Specifically, this means that they have built a giant elephant on which you can ride through the city. The second project was dedicated to the sea. The "Carrousel des Mondes Marins" is 3 stories high and you meet the different sea creatures on the different levels. Of course you can ride on these, or in these, in the carousel and thereby operate various levers and move the animals so. The most intriguing project, in my opinion, is the momentary one. It is called "L'Arbre Aux Hérons", the heron tree. The idea is to construct a 35-meter-high steel tree with 2 herons sitting on it, which can fly even higher. All of Les Machine's projects are inspired by nature, and the art is to mechanically re-enact the movements of various living things. So, one should be able to fly up into the tree with a spider, be transported on oversized caterpillars from branch to branch, or ride on ants crawling along the trunk. The whole project is definitely beyond my imagination, but the tour of the production hall and the many illustrative models and prototypes make you want more, and we like to follow how the project 2021 looks, when it is finished! Unfortunately, the "Grand Éléphant" is in maintenance in winter, but there is a huge horse-dragon in the entrance hall. If he walks out, it can even spit fire!
Now we are on our way to Spain. A bientôt!
Fáilte go dtí Éire - Welcome to Ireland
From giants building bridges and the fastest team sport on the grass!
From Scotland we came by ferry to Larne in Northern Ireland. The first three days we explore the country of "Games of Thrones" (without having known this series beforeJ). In many places, the filming locations of the series are signposted. For example, we sleep in the camp of Renly Baratheon, near Storm's End and take the bus through the "Dark Hedges", which is the royal route in the series.
Already in Scotland the basalt columns on the island of Staffa impressed us deeply, in Northern Ireland there is a counterpart, the "Giant Causeway".
According to legend, once the giant Fionn mac Cumhail lived here, with his family. Fionn felt himself and Ireland threatened by his Scottish neighbor Benandonner, who lid on the other side of the sea (perhaps in StaffaJ). The angry Fionn therefore ripped pieces off the coast of Antrim and threw them into the sea to build such a bridge as far as Scotland, thereby creating the Giant Causeway. Fionn wanted to teach Benandonner a lesson, but when he saw him, he was frightened and anxious, as Benandonner was gigantic and very fearful. Immediately Fionn started the retreat. However, the Scottish giant pursued him. Only thanks to the idea of his smart wife, Fionn unceremoniously spend as a baby, he could be saved. The angry Scot saw the baby and decided to turn back. If the baby was already so big, how huge had to be his father!
These and many more legends and stories we hear on our journey through Ireland.
In Ireland, we drive mainly along the "Wild Atlantic Ways", the best signposted coastal road in the world, as it calls itself. From rough cliffs in the north, over green hills, which suddenly fall into the sea in the middle and beautiful, secluded sandy beaches in the south, everything is there. It is also great that you can camp wild in many places in Ireland and when we talk to the locals, they are always happy when we stay in their village in a parking lot.
The open and warm nature of the Irish is great for us travelers. One night we meet two men who use a funny, long wooden racket to punch a ball out into the sea for their dogs. (In England, all dog owners have a slingshot and after Isby has pulled an old slingshot out of a shrubbery, we now have one too) Isby is thrilled with the game and of course we should try it as well. The two are quite astonished that we have never heard of the actual purpose of this sports equipment! It is said to be the most important sport in Ireland and is "The Fastest Game on Grass". It's called Hurling! Now it becomes clear to us why in each village other flags blow and everywhere the village team luck for the championship is desired. Hurling is terribly difficult in our eyes. Two teams play against each other (as in football) but they try to get the ball on the wooden racket balancing on the pitch and by mutual matching to hit the goal.
Finally, we land in Dublin and once again witness a special sport. The Irish seem to like to bet, but not only in horse racing, but also in greyhound racing!
Now a first circle closes, on Wednesday, 08.11.17 we take the ferry back to Wales. Through South Wales we will start heading back towards Dover, so we can finally start travelling South through France to Spain and PortugalJ.
Larne-Ballycastle-Giant Causeway-Limavady-Londonderry-Malin Head(Nördlichster Punkt Irlands)-Buncrana-Letterkenny-Donegal-Sliabh Liag (Höchste Klippe)-Sligo-Galway-Cliff of Moher-Limerick-Dingle-Ring of Kerry-Cork-Cobh-Cashel-Dublin-Rosslare-> auf nach Wales
Isby Blog 26
Impressions from Scotland
Traveling is a roller coaster ride of emotions
The biggest difference between everyday life and traveling is, that I cannot predict what the next day will bring. You can / should / really have to enjoy/survive every day as it comes!
This becomes very clear to us in Scotland. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful, the animal world is diverse and we meet many friendly, helpful and funny people. On the other hand, the lack of sunshine means that our solar system produces too little electricity, so that we cannot switch on the water pump or lights in the bus for a week. The water we get in bottles and we cook and eat in the light of our flash lights. The bus turns into a tent on wheels!
An absolute highlight was the visit of a little island called Staffa. It consists of hexagonal basal columns that form the gigantic “Fingal’s Cave”. When the wind blows in, it sounds like music and once inspired the German composer Felix Mendelsohn to his Hebrides overture. In addition, the seals on the island have just gotten their baby’s. So cute and Isby is definitely fit for the sea!
The second most beautiful day was, when we were able to find a new faucet, a new battery charger station and a gas adapter in Glasgow (in a single day!) This means, we can now connect our gas bottle regulators to British bottles! This makes our Life so much easier, as we do not need to worry about running out of gas before heading back to the main land any longer! We can now heat the whole isle of Ireland. as we use the same bottles as the locals!
You see, the longer you travel, the more you appreciate everyday functioning things. "
Edinburgh, Stirling, Loch Lomond, Oban, Fort Williams, Isle of Skye, North Coast, John O'Groats, Inverness, Loch Ness, Fort Williams, Oban, Isle of Mull, Isle of Jona, Oban, Balloch, Glasgow
Now we're off to Ireland!
Fri, 29.09 Happy Birthday Isby, enjoy your Birthday Heater!
After four weeks, we are finally getting a new heater and this on Isby's birthday, but he is happier about his big bone!
Now, the journey can go on, the next morning we set off for Wales. The Welsh language makes the country exotic, not a word we understand, and the only two words we learn are “araf”-slow, which is everywhere in the street when a turn comes and “Croeso”, which means welcome, as this is at every town place sign.
We visit two national parks, the Brecon Beacon and the Snowdonia National Park.
In the first one, we explore three large caves, surrounded by a dinosaur park. Isby get’s in touch with the giant creatures. Also we walk to many, beautiful waterfalls. Through some you can even go past.
Snowdonia National Park
In the second park, Snowdonia, stands the highest mountain of Great Britain, Snowdon 1085 m above Sea level. But as a mountain railway runs on it, we choose two other nearby mountains for a hike. Glyder Fach 994 meters above Sea level and Glyder Fawr 1001 meters above Sea level. The weather is "British" and every time we are on the peaks, it is getting more and more difficult to take pictures, due to the fog. The Glyder Fach thrills with bizarre rock formations.
As we want to get to Scotland quickly, we leave Wales after a week. But on the way back from Ireland, we will return to Wales to explore the south coast.
Lake District England
The beautiful Lake District we mostly pass through, only for short hikes we have the time and as bad weather program we visit the museum “Puzzle World” in Keswick, a museum of optical illusion.
Hadrian's Wall, the northern boundary of the Roman Empire
In northern England, a 135km long wall stretched from the west coast to the east coast, almost 2000 years ago. It marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire. Today one can still migrate the 135km, but the wall is only partly preserved. It is nevertheless impressive.
Bristol-Abergavenny-Brecon-Aberaeron-Aberystwyth-Machynlleth-Dolgellau-Capel Cruig-Llyn Ogwen-Liverpool-Todmorden-Settle-Kendal-Windermere-Keswick-Carlisle-Brampton
Now on the way to Scotland
Forced Holiday from the Holidays
Scroll down for photo slideshow
Already in the New Forest our problem begins. It is the first time, were it gets really cold and we turn on the heating. Quickly it becomes wonderfully warm, but unfortunately only once. The next day, the heating no longer works. We are looking for help, but all campers' workshops are overloaded with work, because the summer holidays are coming to an end and it seems like whole England wants to get their campers cleaned and checked, ready to store them over the winter.
After a lot of phone calls and a few unproductive workshop visits, as well as several hours of internet research and self-diagnosis, we are at the end with our Latin. The Conclusion is, we definitely cannot repair it ourselves, as we do not only lack the know-how, but also the appropriate tools and spare parts, and no one wants to help us.
Without a real plan, we are sitting in the van in Bristol three days later, discussing whether we should go further north or not. At that moment, a nice gentleman from Bristol Caravan calls, whom I had tried to reach shortly before. He will at least take a look at our heating, tomorrow at 8:30. Full of hope, we leave the next morning and are received warmly. The mechanic starts working immediately, and two hours later he makes the diagnosis that some small switches on the main board are broken. The good news is, they can repair it, the bad news, that the spare parts must be ordered from Germany and the delivery time can take up to two weeks. But do we have a choice? The nice owner of the workshop lends us his camping-guide for the south-west of England and off we go, two weeks of "forced holiday" from the holidays ahead of us, at least towards the south!
Our first stop takes us to Weston-Super-Mare, where we visit a sand sculpture exhibition.
Coasts, Cliffs and Singing Sea
As we originally wanted to travel the South West coast only on the way back from Scotland and Ireland, so we do not know much about it yet, the borrowed guide book is a great help.
It quickly turns out that it is breathtakingly scenic and this in every weather! At first we have rain and even storm. (One night I think we're on a boat instead of sleeping under the van’s roof, so the bus wags and jolts in the wind.) In the end, I'm joining Isby on the sofa, where it is a little more comfortable and less swinging.
The area is rough, sometimes barren with high, steeply sloping cliffs, but sometimes also lovely with green hills to the sea. Isby loves it, because we go daily for long hikes, often along the “South West Coast Path”, a long-distance trail that runs around the South West coast. We see seals, discover secluded beaches and shower under waterfalls.
One of our favorite places is Land's End. This "place" (a few houses) form the most western point of England. Of course, the name attracts tourist and the car park is bigger than the village itself, but thanks to our travel guide book "Wild", we find here again an access to the people's empty coast and according to the book find the right Land's End, a rough cliff.
To the south is the "UNESCO World Heritage Site Jurassic Coast", to which rock layers from various earth pikes become visible. The biggest attraction is the "Drudle Door". A great arch in the sea. The softer layers of rock were swept out in time, only the hardest rock has stopped, so you can now admire this stone arch.
Tintagel Castle and the Legends around King Arthur
Another highlight is the visit to the ruins of Tintagel. According to legend, the birthplace and residence of King Arthur and the below cave is said to have been the workplace of the wizard of Merlin.
It is not clear whether there has ever been a King Arthur, but according to legend, Merlin had imprisoned a sword with immeasurable strength and rammed it into a stone. Whoever could pull this sword out of the stone should become the new King of England. Of course, all the important and noble people of England tried this task, but only Arthur was able to remove it without any problem. By the way he had discovered the sword by chance, after having been sent home to get his brother's sword, for his first tournament. Thus he became King of England and under his rule much good was done for the people. Together with his famous knights of the round table (they always sat round a large, round table board, so that no one could feel higher), he experienced many adventures, always protected by the magical sword and Merlin, the wizard, himself.
That is why there is also a great statue of King Arthur on Tintagel, although as I said, it is not clear whether he was real or not. Certain, however is that Tintagel was a busy trading center in the Middle Ages. Many Mediterranean clay vessels were found, which indicate the trade with Mediterranean countries.
Ex- and Dartmoor National Parc
The inland is hilly! Our "Blue Wonder" has to give everything to climb the many steep slopes. We are rewarded with wonderful views over the moorlands of Ex- and Dartmoor. Here even wild ponies and Scottish Highland Cattle live.
Between high mountains and coast, the land is fertile, lovely and green. Many valleys are crossed by clear rivers and we often walk through forest landscapes with huge, old trees, which are overgrown with moss. This gives the woodland a jungle like look.
Simon's birthday is celebrated in Plymouth. Because it is too cold for me to dive (16 ° C water temperature), I present him with an entry ticket to the Aquarium instead of going to do a dive. The aquarium is the largest in England, with the deepest tank. There are 3 different species of sharks and four different species of rays. It was great to look at, interesting, a lot to learn and we still remain dry!
I was surprised by the fact, how many people die every year in different types of accidents. Can you solve the puzzle?
Flash, the Isby of the Advert
Isby got used to England very well. I think he enjoys the lifestyle of travelling in a motorhome by now, at least he gets on to the van on his own when he realizes that we have cleaned and packed up and are ready to leave.
That the English adore dogs, we were told already before reaching the island. That it would be so extreme, we did not think. Isby experiences the advantages and disadvantages of this. On the other hand there are always many friendly dogs to play with (we have not met a bad-tempered dog) for him, on the other hand, everybody wants to pet him. I believe, however, that this bothers Simon and me more than Isby himself. And we solved the mystery of "Flash", the "Dog of the advert". Almost every day, we are asked if Isby is Flash, the dog from an advert. At first we did not understand at all, later we just began to say that he was not, and now we have fun interpreting the faces when we say: “Yes, he is, but watch it yourself!
It can go on, unfortunately it can’t
After two weeks we receive the call from Bristol. Our spare parts have arrived! Highly delighted, because it's really getting cooler, we head back to Bristol. Ironically, the last night without heating, proofs to be by far the coldest so far, so we are even more excited about a successful repair to happen. While the mechanics are expanding the heating system, I am being quartered in a new caravan, to use as a writing office. Here, I am sitting and writing up those Isby posts.
Unfortunately we are sitting in this caravan for a long time, until the owner of Bristol Caravan comes with news for us. It isn’t the fault of the parts, the mechanics have exchanged everything, until they are finally reaching at the burner. It is so corroded that it cannot be repaired! Conclusion, the heating is no longer repairable. The shock sits deep, we must get a new (if again a used) heating. Unfortunately, this can only be installed next Wednesday.
This means we continue to explore the area around Bristol and are forced to wait and postpone our travel north to Scotland again.
Bristol, Weston Super Mare, Brean, Porlock, Linton, Ilfracombe, Barnstaple, Bude, Tintagel, Land’s End, Penzance, Falmouth, Plymouth, Dartmoor National Park, Exeter, Sidmouth, Dorchester, Bristol
Check out the new photos of Isby and travel journal.
Route: Dunkirk France-Ferry to Dover England, Seven Sisters GB, Portsmouth GB, New Forest GB, Stonehenge Salisbury GB, Bristol GB
Now heading North towards North Wales.
The stamp is missing!
On August 22nd we want to take the ferry from Dunkirk to Dover in England. For this, Isby had to go to the vet on the previous day, to get a tapeworm deworming tablet.
We are happily waiting in the queue for check-in and then the shock! The veterinarian has printed the stamp on the wrong side of Isby’s passport! “This is not valid”, the lady at the counter said.
Phew, what now? We need to leave the queue, head back to the main secretariat of the ferry station and wait there for our turn. Fortunately, I had taken the business card of the veterinarian yesterday, just in case…
In the end, we get away with a blue eye ;) I have to sign a form, and high and holy promise that this will never happen again and then Isby is finally allowed to board the ferry.
England is Great!
Isby loves England and the English love Isby J
Our most common sentence in English is:
"Yes, you can pet him, he is a Goldendoodle, a mix between Golden Retriever and Poodle". :)
Wherever we go, there is always someone who wants to pet him.
White Rock of Dover and the Seven Sisters
Unfortunately the weather is not great, when we were on the ferry to Dover. That is, why we could only guess the white cliffs. But on the way from Dover to Portsmouth, we visited the National Park of the "Seven Sisters". These are seven limestone cliffs forming the coast line. We are lucky, and the English weather is great. Isby enjoys the newly gained freedom, to be able to run across the fields, after being on the lead in many places in Belgium.
Portsmouth, city, culture and culinary
In Portsmouth, we enjoy sleeping in a real bed again. We live with relatives of Simon and explore the city.
Simon and I enjoy the bands, shows and food of the great "Victorious Festival", as well as insights into the history of England when visiting the Dockyard, Isby especially enjoys the walks over the great fields of the “Common”, where we soon know all the dog owners of Portsmouth.
The "Historical Dockyard" is definitely worth a visit. We travel through time and discover 800 years of British maritime past. From the remains of Mary Rose, a ship which sunk in front of Portsmouth in a battle between England and France, over the HMS Warrior, the first British iron-hulled, armoured battleship to the very latest British naval aircraft carrier, for which the port entrance to Portsmouth had to be dug out deeper, we see it all.
Impressively, I found, how many men were needed to fire a cannon on the HMS Warrior. What do you think?
Resolution: It needed 18 men to fire a cannon.
New Forest – the oldest forest in England
After a week of city, culture and civilization, nature is calling us again! We drive into the New Forest, the oldest forest in England.
Almost a 1,000 years ago, William the 1st of England declared the forest an area for the royal deer hunting. Later, the Royal Navy used the wood of the forest for shipbuilding and in the 1st and 2nd World War many trees were burnt as firewood. Today, a part of the territory, is a national park and everywhere rum deer, cows and "wild" horses. At the time, William the 1st did not want fences, so that the deer could live as naturally as possible, this was kept until today and now the cattle of the farmers in the New Forest are running freely. Therefore, Isby had to share his place in front of the bus unhappily with a cheeky ponyJ
Stonehenge, by Day and Night
One of the few destinations, which we already knew before the start of the trip, has been a visit to the famous stone circle of Stonehenge. The monument, which is oriented to the sun's course and still contains many secrets, lures us very much.
With mixed feelings we made our way there. Mixed, because large tourist attractions are usually expensive, complicated and seldom dog friendly. Not so Stonehenge! Isby is allowed to go almost up to the stone circle and can run freely across the nearby fields.
The stone circle itself can’t be accessed anymore, too many visitors admire the Unesco World Heritage site every day, and hidden treasures from the Neolithic period still lie beneath the stone circle. Only half of the original plant of Stonehenge has been excavated, appreciate archaeologists. Researchers have found out a lot by now, for example, that the whole monument was not built all at once, but over a long period of time. But the question of the “why” remains open.
The dimension of the stones have impressed me the most. Some of the upright rocks are up to 7 meters high! With the simplest tools of wood, stone and antler, the people had condemned and erected these rocks. The smaller stones are called "Blue Stones" and man knows today that they originally come from the south-west of Wales. Imagine how people have transported these rocks at that time!
As we leave the monument, we notice that there are some camping busses on the nearby dirt road. We do not hesitate long and ask the first one, whether it is allowed to stay here overnight. "Sure," he says, and so is our daily question of where we camp solved for today as well.
It is a unique campsite! Long after the official visitors of Stonehenge are gone, we are still sitting in front of our "Blue Wonder" and marvel at the great miracle from the past.
Flurina, Simon and Isby
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