A 35-day adventure by Peter
  • Day35

    Home at last

    June 14, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    Yesterday was a long day with 365 miles driven at about 55mph from south of Riems to home. We stopped for several breaks on the way to Calais and had a rest on the almost empty ferry. We stopped for Chinese food which was awful at junction 8 on the M11 and got home just as it was getting dark at 10pm. After five weeks in the sun I've gone quite brown.
    Today is Wednesday and I have treated the car to a good clean an oil change and a new filter. It wasn't very dirty as we had next to no rain in the five weeks we have been traveling. The roof has been up for only half a hour in the whole time.
    Mechanically it is running better than ever. Even the oil leak has just about stopped. I used about three litres to get to Malta and around half a litre to get back. Around two pints of water was used with no leaks. I did clean the points a couple of times. Tomorrow I'll check the tappets.
    As we drove the last few miles Mandy said 'Where should we go next?' 'Portugal is pretty'. I replied, so maybe next year we will go on the MG owners gathering then head south west.
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    Mike Sumpster

    Well done Peter and Mandy An epic journey and although it is good to be home a terrific sense of achievement and great memories of the holiday

    Jean Johnson

    Welcome home. We kept the good weather for you. You both look wonderfully well, what a great experience.

    Andrea Knowles

    You seemed to get back in no time. What an amazing adventure, will look forward to Portugal trip next year

    Angel From Belgium

    Hello Peterken & Mandy, it was very nice to follow you both on your wonderfull journey! I'm so glad that everything went well and you got home safe! It's always exciting to plan such a journey so have fun planning Portugal. If you need info, I have a very nice Portugees girl working over here ;-) xxxxxx

  • Day34

    Home tonight.

    June 13, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    I'm writing this at the Calais terminal waiting to board.
    While having breakfast this morning at a boulangier an English bulldog came and put his head on my lap and looked at me as if to say it is time to go home. We were going to stay tonight near Calais then get a morning ferry tomorrow but we made good time from the champagne country to the port so we booked on the next boat. We still have about 130 miles to drive once we get off but with the days being very long we should get home in daylight. The first thing I'm going to do when we get home is have a cup of tea. Then a nice long sleep in a familiar bed. Bliss.Read more

    Howard Quayle

    Great account, Peter. Welcome back, and glad that you made it to Sicily/Malta this time!!

  • Day34

    Now in champagne country

    June 13, 2017 in France ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    Evidently it's not a good year so far for the grapes...too hot and a frost earlier in the year probably means don't rush out to buy 2017 vintage Chalons en Champagne is a good stop though.. Staying at the hotel l'angletttere (well someone has to !) Lovely old church and some characteristic timber houses.Read more

  • Day33


    June 12, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Perhaps it is wrong of me to generalise about the standards of driving in different countries but several people have asked who is good who is bad so I'll give my impression. We are driving slow compared to most so the speed of the cars on the German autobahn was often at least double my speed but it was safe when compared to Italy where the driving was erratic and rules where often ignored. As you go south in Italy it gets worse and I found the city of Naples to be hard with drivers just pulling out from side roads and stopping you as you drive so they can cross your road. My worst experience was the city of Palermo in Sicily where pedestrians would just walk out and stop the traffic to cross the road. There are many pedestrian crossings in the wide main roads but the people were just ignoring those and crossing anywhere. It happened to many times for it to be unlucky to have it happen to me.
    The most scary driving was the drive from Genoa West into France, it was nothing to do with poor driving it was because I was driving towards the setting sun which was also reflecting off my bonnet so it was in my eyes then suddenly we enter a tunnel and everything goes black until your eyes adjust then you exit the tunnel and the sun is in your eyes again. There are over twenty of those tunnels on that road.

    The suspension of the car is rather stiff with leaf springs and poor damping so I feel the bumps more than most. Belgium was about the same as England, not brilliant but not bad. Germany has good roads as has Austria. Italy has poor roads and I found that they had often resurfaced the fast lane but not the slow lane that we were using so we swapped to toll roads until we got beyond Rome where the roads got better. Sicily was in places good but more often not so good. Malta is the same. France is like Germany very good.

    The cheapest petrol is in Malta and the most expensive was near the French border in Italy. At any tourist resort it cost more than inland.

    People wave and beep at our car everywhere with Italy doing it most then Germany and Austria then France and England.

    Nothing that has happened during this trip would have me saying never again however I feel I have learned quite a lot and will know what to expect next time.
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  • Day33

    Mustard or wine...what is your choice?

    June 12, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Well mine was wine! So we stayed in Beaune not Dijon. Though I have to say Dijon is reportedly a very pretty city. Beaune is lovely too. I had to see the Hospital de Dieu. Founded and built in 1423 for the treatment of the poor. At that time Burgundy had been ravaged by the 100 years war with marauding bandits stealing from the peasantry. A wealthy landowner set up the foundation and got others to contribute ending up with not only a hospital but land for substantial vineyards and a farm. The hospital was staffed by nuns and was still treating patients I the 1950's. One good story was that during the occupation of the hospital in WW2 by the Germans. A sick French officer was smuggled out in a coffin. When asked by the Gestapo​ where he was they said he had died. Vive la France
    We meet a lovely Dutch couple and I have put in a photo of the lady with her cute doggy.
    I enjoyed the wine and was rather woosey come evening!
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  • Day31

    Route Napoleon

    June 10, 2017 in France ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    I couldn't wait to unleash my 54 horse power on this famous road. It was delightful with bend after bend on great roads and lots of hills. Perhaps not the best day to be asking a lot of Bluebelle as it was 33c and some of the passes took forever to climb in second gear.
    Before we got to the steep bits we had a big fright as we rounded a bend and found a tour bus overtaking a car with a trailer. The bus was completely on our side of the road heading straight for us. I braked hard and so did the bus and the car. Luckily I had about three feet of verge before a ditch and had to use it to miss the bus. The bus was completely to blame and I heard the horns of the car and several of the following cars. I really hope the bus driver was reported.
    We were overtaken by many motorcyclists as we made our way but one group of three were really out on their own on cornering, they were a joy to watch for the few bends I could see them.
    At one point I looked in my mirror and saw a classic car behind us, it had ribbons and flowers on it and behind it were around thirty cars all part of the wedding. They followed for about ten minutes and we exchanged waves and beeps then I thought I should stop and let them pass. As they passed every one of them beeped and waved enthusiastically. It was great fun.
    Tonight we are in a pretty little town outside Grenoble called Vizille the hotel is very cheap and across the road is the most amazing chateau with beautiful gardens. I will post some pictures of it and some Mandy took as we traveled.
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    Tim Pitt

    You are in a part of France we know well. Grasse was our summer distination for many years as we had family living in the town. Are the French or the Italians the madest or most impatient of drivers? Thanks for sharing your journey and I look forward to hearing more on your return.

    Jean Johnson

    Enjoying more lovely pictures, continue to be envious apart from the scary bits.

    Angel From Belgium

    This was a thriller with a happy end!

  • Day30

    How not to save money

    June 9, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    After a great day doing good mileage at good speed we checked into our hotel just north of Grasse and they wanted to charge an extra 9 Euros for breakfast so we thought we would check out the local bakery who sells coffee and cooks croissants. Brilliant, all set up for breakfast. Then as we were passing a delicatessen we thought why not buy some bits and some bread from the bakery and stay in tonight and sit on our very nice terrace with a bottle of local wine. So we bought artichoke hearts in oil, marinated mushrooms, cheese wrapped in ham, sun dried tomatoes, a chunk of local cheese, a bottle of local wine, special French salami, and what we thought was vegitable lasagne but turned out to have egg where pasta would be. It was very nice. But sadly the cost was nearly 50 Euros. Then we realised that or only cutlery was a Swiss army knife and the cups were from the hotel bathroom. We did enjoy it though.Read more

    Andrea Knowles

    I'm going to Grasse in august so any recommendations welcome

    Peter Sprot

    I hope you like hills. It's not far from Nice so you can drive to the beach 🌴

    Angel From Belgium

    I'm sure you will remember this one for a long time! The gratest things in life ;-)

  • Day29

    Villa Maria Varazze northern Italy

    June 8, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 22 °C

    Getting off the ferry was as chaotic as getting on. It took nearly two hours to get off. Then the half hour drive here turned into a nightmare as the sat nav chose to lose its connection to any satellites for over half an hour by which time we were on the wrong motorway and had to come back into the busy city.
    It was after 20.30 when we found the hotel in this lovely town about 40km from Genoa.
    We have just had the best pizzas you could imagine as we sat at the water front watching the sun go down. All is well.
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    Glad the ending was a happy one. You had me worried.

  • Day29

    La Suprema GNV

    June 8, 2017, Tyrrhenian Sea ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    It is more like a cruise liner than a ferry with bars restaurants cinema swimming pool etc.
    Mandy had never slept on a ship so I had great fun explaining that the swimming pool was empty because they have to wait for really rough weather for it to fill, and what looks like life rafts are really depth charges to fend off pirate submarines.
    It was interesting that the life boat drill did not take place until eleven hours into the journey and it was as we passed the area the Costa Concordia sank.
    The car is down at the bottom level which means we will be last off but I don't think the ship is very full. our cabin is comfortable and clean with a big window. Internet access comes at extra cost and it is not cheap but we needed some to book tonight's accommodation just outside Genoa. We dock at 18.30 we expect to arrive at the hotel at 20.00
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    John hood

    That's a fabulous looking ferry, knocks Irish ferries into a cocked hat.

  • Day27

    Villa Romana de Casale then Pergusa

    June 6, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    The villa is famous for its Roman mosaics http://www.villaromanadelcasale.it and there are so many of them with many telling stories of the animals the owner had captured from many countries then sold to entertain the gladiators. It must have been a good business to build a big villa with under floor heating and swimming pools etc.
    Then we came to Pergusa which is just outside Enna in the middle of Sicily up in the mountains. The hotel is a bit like a hostel and in our room we have one wall which is a blackboard for visitors messages so Mandy drew a picture of the car. We found a race circuit close by which was once plagued during a race by frogs from the lake it circles.
    http://www.autodromopergusa.gov.it/it/home#.WTc… it was built in 1951 and has seen many famous racers. I could not get our car into the circuit as it is only open to people running and cycling today.
    We are booked onto tomorrow night's ferry from Palermo to Genoa.
    I will post pictures in the morning.
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    Alicia Zhou

    waiting for the pics

    Jean Johnson

    I liked Mandy's contribution to the present art scene.