From UK to Poznań, Poland

We left the UK in the icy jaws of the Beast from the East, travelling north east through France, Germany, Holland then Germany (again) and on to Poland. Although we spotted patches of melting snow by the roadside, the roads were dry and clear, the worst of the weather was definitely behind us.

We made three overnight stops in Germany – at Bad Bentheim, Hatten-Kirchhatten and Magdeburg, arriving in Poland on the fourth day. En route we called in to Groningen in the north of Holland to say hello to John Stalman, a colleague in the boat business who ran Van den Bosch Yachting for a number of years. John and his wife, Sabina, owned a beautiful marina on the Paterswoldsemeer. It was almost ten years since we had seen John but he hadn’t changed one bit.John Stalamn

We were travelling to Poland to see the progress on our 2003 fire tender truck being converted into an expedition truck.

The project had begun over a year ago when we purchased the truck from a dealer in Preston, Lancashire and had it shipped by low loader to Poland where they stripped back the chassis, painted and serviced the vehicle. They fitted larger fuel tanks, an air pressure system for the tyres and they removed the rear twin wheels and replaced with single larger ones.

After settling in to our campsite at Malta Lake in Poznań we went to collect our truck from the local Mercedes Benz dealership, who had been carrying out some modifications to the vehicle. We were very excited as it was the first time we had seen the truck since the day we purchased it. Tony was able to get behind the wheel and, after a practice circuit of the dealership, we drove the truck for forty minutes to a company that would carry out exhaust pipe alterations.

We then visited Campersol, the company that was building the habitation unit that would sit on a galvanised frame that had been specially constructed to fit the chassis. The habitation unit was made of a grp foam sandwich. There would be a lot of work on this box over the next few weeks, fitting it out with all the paraphernalia needed to keep the Morgans warm and comfortable on their travels.

l

Last Post

We left Holland and drove towards home in the rain, past Arnhem, Eindhoven, Antwerp, Gent, Ostende, arriving at Calais mid afternoon.

That morning, online, we had booked Eurotunnel for our return journey the following day. We were offered a choice of crossings at different prices depending on how popular each service was. They usually run three services an hour, we chose a €120 slot for 2 pm the following day. We have found in the past that, if you happened to arrive a little earlier than your check in time, as you go through the barrier at the entrance, the check in computer offers you earlier times of travel if they have capacity. If they are fully booked they put you in a holding section until it is your time to travel – with shopping opportunity. They always strike us as such an efficient company.

We parked up at Cité Europe, a huge retail outlet at Coquelles, one exit away from Eurotunnel. The site had a dedicated car park for camper vans although, according to our motorhome guide books, this was not considered safe to stay overnight; consensus was that it was perfectly secure, being adjacent to the main police station and close to a huge retail facility. We parked up and wandered about the shops before having a meal in one of the many restaurants. It was a bit like eating at Heathrow or Gatwick airports, each restaurant had a theme but you felt all the catering was done by one supplier. We had a Chinese meal, two courses with wine €58, it was very good.

The shops and restaurants all closed by 10 pm, by which time we had settled down for the night. Our car park was now deserted but for three camper vans all parked fairly close together, looking strange in the eerie yellow light of the car park. We could hear sounds of drunken shouting in the distance, the wind was blowing a gale but we felt pretty secure in our brightly lit haven, probably watched by security cameras. All was quiet and our blackout blinds meant the inside of the camper was pitch dark.

Just after midnight we heard the sound of a vehicle pulling up close to us and we heard car doors banging. I peeped out wondering whether it was anyone wanting to harm us but it was just another camper van stopping for the night. Soon all was quiet again.

Any sign of trouble the man of the house would have been sent out to restore order – in his underpants armed with a wooden policeman’s truncheon ready to defend his trembling wife!

Blog ends – Do I hear a sigh of relief from Kate’s work colleagues!

France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Holland

The following day we had a long day’s drive to get us within striking distance of Peter Bouwens at Transport Techniek Ulft BV, Holland. The weather was fine, sunny and cold; we tackled Paris during the morning rush hour and TomTom didn’t let us down.

Underpass on Peripherique

Underpass on Peripherique

Morning Rush Hour In Paris

Morning Rush Hour In Paris

Within an hour we were clear of the city and heading toward Lille, then on to Brussels and Eindhoven. We had breakfast in France, lunch in Belgium an evening snack in Holland. Our campsite was in Beek, very close to the German border and, in order to get to the site, we had to leave Holland, enter Germany, turn right and drive down the road and re-enter Holland. Fortunately we no longer had passport control and Customs to deal with.

It was getting dark when we arrived, a staff member showed us an area of grass where we could park, we drove onto the grass and promptly got stuck in the mud. Eventually help arrived with the Dutch equivalent of Frank Brown who towed us out with his tractor. We felt such fools!

Stuck In The Mud

Stuck In The Mud

A Helping Hand

A Helping Hand

Next morning we dropped the camper van off at Peter Bouwens and he kindly lent us a car. We drove into the nearby town of Doetinchem where we had a coffee and a walk around before stopping at our favourite restaurant for some lunch. We collected the camper after lunch and returned to our Beek campsite that afternoon.