Joined March 2019 Message
  • Day145

    YOLO...our big adventure!

    August 23, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 0 °C

    As we arrive back in the UK, we are reminded of the brief conversation with another family one year ago in France, , who had been travelling Europe in a Moho with young family for 6 months. It took us about 3 minutes to decide we wanted to do it - a little longer to work out the logistics, and we are forever grateful that we took the opportunity.

    As grown ups, we have seen so many amazing things that have made our jaws drop, as children they have grown in confidece with each new experience they’ve had, as a family we have grown ‘together’ and had time to learn and ‘see’ each other in a way that we just wouldn’t have had back home. Living in this tiny space has sometimes felt crazy and it took some getting used to. At first everything seemed a bit stressful as we were navigating our own ways in the small and delicate space, but we’ve come through the other side and the time has been very special indeed. Life is for living.

    Learnings from 5 months on the road with children...

    However long you travel for, there will always be more to see; value the time you have.

    You can travel to all the glorious natural wonders in the world, but THE most important thing to a 4 year old is that there’s a park.

    Amelia was given an Enid Blyton short stories book with 30 stories in - amazing to have so many different stories without having to take loads of books. Short stories are a win.

    The only thing to put on sun-sensitive faces in the middle of a heatwave is Zinc sunblock.

    No matter how many times you tell yourself that your children won’t watch the DVD player for the whole journey - after 8000 miles we all know you’re kidding yourself!

    Heated swimming pools are essential but rare if travelling in Europe in April.

    It takes 3-4 weeks for adults to learn dimensions of new, smaller living quarters and avoid head bumps with every move, 2 yr olds never figure this out.

    Don’t plan too much, you’ll miss out on some diamonds.

    Talk to as many at people as possible (very handy to have a husband who literally can’t not talk to people) - it’s good for the soul, but you’ll also get the best travel tips on places to visit.

    After months on the road (through rain, snow, mud, forests, lakes, waterfalls and beaches) no matter how many times you hand wash children’s clothes (and soak in a litre of vanish) they will never be clean again.

    The only clue as to how many creepy crawlies we were travelling with at any time was that every now and then when we put Coen to bed a giant spider or ear wig would crawl up his wall (from the garage below his bed).

    If you need to escape the monotony of politics and current affairs, travelling in a motorhome (without satellite) is a 100% guaranteed way to do it.

    When you’re travelling, you always wish you’d started sooner and could go on longer.

    Children’s bedtimes are late and long, luckily so are their lie ins.

    Wine is ridiculously cheap to buy in every single country we’ve visited (bar England).

    You can buy a bottle of beer for 8cents in Germany (though Nic doesn’t recommend it), and a bottle of Prosecco in Italy for under 2 euros (and Sarah does recommend it!).

    Children can eat an infinite amount of ice cream, and apparently not feel sick.

    Pizza is good for any meal (including brunch) as long as it’s from Italy.

    We love beaches and lakes more than cities and towns. We followed the path of water for almost our whole trip. There were only a handful of nights where we weren’t parked up next to water.

    Amelia melts in anything above 18 degrees if there isn’t a pool or sea to splash in.

    Biscuits solve most child problems, especially if we’ve been driving for too long!

    The children’s favourite sentence is ‘I’m hungry’. They are more hungry than ever before. Except when it’s meal times and then it is impossible to get them to sit down to eat - far too much distraction eating in the wild!

    What adults see and what children see is always completely different when visiting new places - we loved hearing how they described things and what they noticed.

    Germans love a skatepark and they make brilliant parks all over the place.

    Driving through Austria surrounded by mountains and following the longest rivers, ending up at the biggest and most beautiful lakes is breathtaking - guaranteed beautiful scenes at every turn.

    Some people thought we were crazy for travelling with children, and some people wished they’d done it, some people's trips made ours seem tiny- we all have different dreams, we’re glad we took a chance on this one.
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  • Day144

    Sainte-Mere-Eglise - D-Day

    August 22, 2019 in France ⋅ ☀️ 0 °C

    Someone recommended this place as a good stop for the way back to the ferry. We drive through the main square and see the church with the paratrooper model hanging from the top, as well as a big building the shape of a parachute. The small campsite is again perfect, big grassy pitch, a park for the children and nice and quiet (until we arrive!).

    We decide to have a quick walk around to the town as it looks really interesting - so interesting that it turns into an evening and dinner in the town. The town is dedicated to D-Day, with a museum and all of the shops and buildings bearing some sign of the war. And we learn a lot about war from the French perspective. In the museum shop, Amelia chooses a lovely book about D-Day for children, Coen chooses a toy spitfire.

    We learn that on d-day when the paratroopers were dropped in to check the area was safe for the sea and land troops, one actually landed on the church roof, hence the model that still remains there. The landing beaches are all very close to this town and it really is steeped in the history of it. Coen loves seeing the tanks and war vehicles, and also the model soldiers dotted around the town. Nic and I agree we now know more about D-Day than we remember from school! We see the memorial for one of the US war cemeteries, 14000 buried in temporary cemeteries around this tiny town - shocking numbers.

    We see tourists from more nationalities here than we’ve seen for a long time, everyone is visiting to soak up the history.

    The kids have scooted so we have a look to see if we can find somewhere for dinner and eventually find a tiny Galette restaurant - Nic isn’t convinced a pancake will fill him up but luckily these are really good and the filling is big! The children get full sized pancakes as well as two huge scoops of ice cream...so inevitably Coen does a humongous poo on the way home, when we have no nappies left and he wants to be carried....things gets a bit messy!

    Time to hit the road for the final time now as we make it up to the ferry terminal at Cherbourg...
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  • Day143

    Lancieuz - aka shell bay!

    August 21, 2019 in France ⋅ ☁️ 0 °C

    Making our way towards the Cherbourg peninsula now, we find a little beach village with a small campsite which is perfect for our penultimate stopover. We get the last pitch and are warned that’s it small, but it’s directly next to the park - obviously the children are happy!

    We walk down to the beach - another huge bay where the sea rushes in and out on a huge tide, leaving behind all the rocks and rock pools which we have come to realise is so representative of Brittany’s coast. It’s almost as if you can see Cornwall and Brittany have been sliced down the middle here, the beach, the rocks and even the houses that line the bay all look so familiar.

    We collect an array of shells as we walk out to the rocky patches, find some more cockles...and Nic tells a Frenchman ‘J’adore le coque’!!! Time to leave!

    The campsite has a lovely take away pizza van that pulls up at night, so we enjoy a scallop pizza (cheese and ham for the children!), and then put the air con up high to try and disguise the noise of all the French children playing in the park until the late hours while we try and get Amelia to bed!

    Amelia wakes early so Nic takes her to see the beach again before we move on. We stop at Decathlon, the children have grown so much on this trip and so both need coats and shoes...however, as always this turns into a 3hour stop, including lunch on the picnic bench while the children play on the trampolines outside the store!!
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  • Day142

    Landrellac - Northern Brittany

    August 20, 2019 in France ⋅ ☀️ 0 °C

    Even as we come to the end of our adventure, we continue to find little gems.

    We are spoilt for choice with campsites in the northern coast of Brittany, but we choose one on the beach with a pool, as the children have been so used to swimming daily. Lots of narrow, windy roads to get here though!

    The site is lovely, we have a big grassy pitch, next to the pool and park, and the campsite is sat right next to a tidal inlet, which empties and fills so quickly, it’s hard to believe the tide moves that far. We decide to take crab lines and walk along the sandy beach which is covered in rocky patches making lots of rock pools. Amelia is keen to get her crab line in so the first tiny puddle we come to, she pops it in...not sure it’s big enough for a crab there! Coen still freezes and screams every time he comes to a piece of seaweed...not sure how we’re going to get rid of this fear! We find a jetty, drop the lines off and Amelia is ecstatic to catch a little crab, which she puts in her bucket, and takes over to see a fisherman who is bringing his little haul in - a big lobster, some shrimps and crabs.

    Coen wanders out into the water to see the boats...luckily the tide is on its way out and it’s pretty shallow, so I manage to get him up close to touch them.

    Nic decides he wants to find some cockles, the children are digging and Coen has incidentally dug one up, he searches for quite a while but only finds four, so we think maybe finding dinner might be a bit of a task and put them back...haven’t mastered that skill yet!

    We walk right along the bay towards the sea which we can barely see anymore as the tide has gone out, until we find a little oyster farm which is amazing to see up close with the tide out, the tractors, much to Coen’s joy, have driven right out to it and they are working on the racks. We decide we’d better head back before the tide washes back in!

    We get a quick swim in the pool, it’s definitely chiller up north, even with the sun shining. Half of the pool has a cover, we’ve noticed most of this coast have this, much more British weather. The children love the pool, Amelia has to try and pass for 8 (again) to ride the little toboggan slide, Coen doesn’t stand a chance with the eagle eyed lifeguard watching on.

    With just a few days before we get home, Amelia pulls out all the stops to get injured - first falling out of her bunk bed (1.5m up) in the middle of the night (managing to undo the safety net herself!) and then falling down some rocks in the morning, giving her cuts and grazes from top to toe...time to leave before we get anymore injuries!
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  • Day141

    St Pol De Leon - Brittany

    August 19, 2019 in France ⋅ ☀️ 0 °C

    We arrive in Saint Pol de Leon and manage to park on a little peninsula with a beautiful sandy beach looking out to the rocky sea, with hundreds of tiny rocky islets sat just past the tide - a totally unique view. There’s a great park and a rocky hill with a great view over the bays, we are just next to the Roscoff ferry so we see one that has just set off...reminds us that we are almost at our ferry now - and we can sense England just the other side of the channel.

    The children love the freedom the big beaches of France have given us, so they run free here, there is also an amazing long tunnel set into the ground, cue the loudest shouts of ‘echo!!!’ you’ve ever heard, and Coen loves seeing the tractor driving up and down the beach (to clear seaweed, Nic thinks its because it’s a blue flag beach so they don’t want the seaweed, but I’m not sure on the environmentally friendliness of this task - he is ploughing up and down burning a ton of fuel and collecting barely any seaweed each time...I felt like just picking it up by hand so that he would stop!).

    We settle in a little aire right on the harbour walls and have a lovely (but very messy and smelly and non-motorhome-friendly) fish supper of fresh calamari and prawns, watch some crabs and plan our last few days!
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  • Day140

    Crozon - beach day with our friends!

    August 18, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 0 °C

    After a lovely breakfast, our hosts take us to one of their favourite beaches, Crozon, in the morning in the hope of surf, and it is a stunningly beautiful beach, but the tide is not quite right for surf and the sun is shining so we spend a lovely day at the beach...a huge stretch of sand when the tide is out, surrounded by rocks and tons of rock pools for us to find sea life in. There are a fair few kite surfers to make Nic envious once more.

    The children love splashing about, and playing with Lili-Rose once more, although Coen’s fear of seaweed has grown and isn’t helped by everyone chasing him with it! They both even get a little surf as the tide comes in. We say a fond farewell to our hosts as they head home and we head across the car park to the little cafe...more Moules Frites for Nic, Amelia settles for a lemon crepe this time!

    We settle down for the night in one of our most picturesque spots, literally a stones throw from the beach looking out to the beautiful bay so that we are able to watch the tide rolling in and out, as the sunsets...a little bit of magic to start out final week of our trip.

    In the morning the children get to play on the beach the minute they wake up, and watch the fishing boats come in (no fish though!) before we take a walk around the headland, it is beautiful and also very much like home, with the shrubs, flowers and trees all reminding us of our own coastlines and forests. Amelia and Coen find more Blackberrys for breakfast - what a great spot!

    We have to head to the north coast next so that we don’t have long drives to reach our ferry, Coen is seriously starting to detest his car seat, lucky we’re nearly home!!
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  • Day139

    Visiting friends in Le Trehou

    August 17, 2019 in France ⋅ ☁️ 0 °C

    We’re up early to make good time up towards Brest to the little village of Le Tréhou to visit friends we met in St Girons.

    It’s so lovely to be welcomed into their home, for the children to run around and play with the toys and dogs, and it’s also a bonus to see Coen hasn’t forgotten what a staircase is and how to climb one!! A lovely french lunch and a walk down to the river followed by an amazing bbq, which almost ended in disaster as Coen stuck his finger into Yann’s (the music-lover) prized speakers - luckily the little dent that he made soon popped back out as we were all trying to figure out how it could be fixed!

    They also have a new pet parrot, which Amelia loved to stroke and feed and we taught them to say ‘who’s a pretty boy then?’ to it which they found hilarious. Sophie teaches me how to make quiche for our beach trip, and Nic and Yann talk about surfing, while Amelia watches a film with Lili-Rose and Coen just generally causes chaos around the house...time for bed!
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  • Day138

    Brittany coast - overnight in Cancarneau

    August 16, 2019 in France ⋅ ☁️ 0 °C

    We take a couple of recommendations for today’s visits, but the first, to a little boulangerie for some lunch, leaves us a bit hungry as I go in to find some food and pretty much everything on offer is teeming with wasps due to a high sugar content! We drive on to find an amazing viewpoint out over the big bay and out to the Atlantic at St Rhyus de Gilda.

    Amelia spots some blackberries so we manage to pick so good ones, but most are just out of reach...off Amelia goes back to the Moho and returns with the kitchen tongs; she's rewarded for her initiative with lots more which her and Coen both love.

    We then travel back along the Toute De Passage, which runs alongside the tidal bay and head north to Cancarneau. It’s been a bit of a day of driving, and by the time we arrive it’s raining, everyone is a bit tired out, but we’ve made good progress so that we can reach our friends house in north west Brittany for the weekend!
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  • Day137

    La Roche Bernard via Nantes

    August 15, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    After a straightforward journey into Nantes, (except for the fuss Coen makes as he has now decided he doesn’t just hate his car seat, he can no longer sit in it) we try to find somewhere to park close by Les Machines, even though we know the nearest motorhome car park is just 15 minutes walk away, but we find a Lidl where Nic sees it says it’s only 5euros after the first 1.5hrs which are free, and only a few minutes down the road (more on that later), so we have lunch on the go and head over to the exhibition.

    We walk through to check out what’s about, there are different parts to the attraction and we really wanted to see the giant elephant walking around it’s route, but unfortunately one of the workers informs us the elephant has died (it’s a machine, not a real one!) so we get to see it standing still instead, possibly not quite as impressive as when moving but still amazing to see. We spot the smaller carousel and give the children a go on that.

    They choose their machines - no surprise that Amelia is on the unicorn (more of a mythical Greek horse) and Coen chooses the thing with the most wheels, and they absolutely love going around and around, and finding all the moving parts on their chosen machines.

    We find a park (of course, always the highlight of their days) on the way to the big carousel, try not to stay too long here as it’s a bank holiday and things are getting busy, so we head over to the big carousel, which is an impressive Multi tiered affair.
    There are Sea animals, creatures, and boats across three storeys and you can choose which level you take a ride on.

    After a long-ish queue we head up to the top and choose our rides on this level with great panoramic views of Nantes. The machines are each so unique and amazingly built, sea creatures, boats, mythical animals, a wonderful and bizarre collection. We all get in the sailing boat which tips us from end to end as the ride gets into full swing.

    Each level has different types of carousel ride with the middle level (which Coen would not be allowed on being too small) suspended in the air. Each ‘machine’ has moving parts that make them life-like, some controlled by the rider and some by the carousel moving - with tentacles that wave, eyes that move, wings, mouths and all kinds of other detail.

    We head back across the big pedestrian plaza with the children on their scooters, Amelia heads straight back to the zip line in the park, and Coen gets totally distracted as he sees something zoom passed him on the ground. He drops his scooter and starts running.

    There is a man with a big, very fast 4-wheel drive, remote control car bombing it about the place. I have never see Coen run so fast or so far as he sprints after this car from one end of the plaza to the other, desperately wanting to ‘catch it’. Eventually he starts to tire and looks at me in disappointment, I crouch down with him on my knee and the controller brings the car to us a few times and stops so that Coen can see it. But really, he wants to touch it, lucky the car is pretty speedy.

    Children stand with their legs wide wanting the driver to drive to through their legs, and they are all excited when he does (including Coen who we have to lift to let the car through as it’s so big).

    We decide not to do the gallery today as it involves a guided tour (of the large animals that they have created including a spider, a humming bird, and the Heron tree) though we will definitely come back another year to see the elephant moving and maybe the gallery as the children get older.

    We head back to the car (after an urban nature wee from Amelia who declares she needs a wee when we are just far enough away from the attraction where all the toilets were). As we walk into the car park I notice the sign Nic had seen about parking...and see the bit that he must have missed. Of course it’s written in French but I can make out that the parking is not in fact just 5euros (what a bargain that would be by the way, and why on earth would a city centre car park be empty, just down the road from its major attraction, if it only charged 5e for parking?!?! The things you think of after the event!), it is actually 5euro per 15 minutes...so now we are in for a 45euro parking charge, which even beats our current Dubrovnik ‘we got done’ record! Luckily Nic manages to confuse the man on the intercom who speaks just a little English, so as we pull up to the barrier to our utter amazement he just opens the barrier. We drive off pretty quickly.

    We have done another classic pin point on the map to find our overnight stop over, so head out of Nantes as always apprehensive of what we’ll find.

    We are pleasantly surprised as we pull into the little port town, La Roche-Bernard, where the aire we’ve chosen is actually a campsite with showers and everything! We decide there’s a good chance of finding mussels (again, ahem!) and are in luck, also in the menu, more Saint Jaques, this time on a crepe. Although Coen insists that he’s hungry the whole time until he food arrives, once he has had two bites, he couldn’t be less interested and decides it’s more fun to make friends with other diners instead. Amelia and Nic enjoy the mussels and we are pleased with our chosen spot for the night!

    After an eventful night of wet beds (wee, milk...and that was just from Nic!!), we climb to the top of the view point where there are some cannons for the children to sit on and look out over the beautiful port and rivers beyond, lined with boats and also a spectacular suspension bridge, which we drive over on our way out.

    Our journey continues north further into beautiful Brittany...
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  • Day136

    Hourtin Plage to Royan

    August 14, 2019 in France ⋅ ☁️ 0 °C

    After saying fairwell to our friends at Montalivet, we head along for a short drive to Hourtin Plage where Matt & Molly are staying. They have got us a 2hr pass to their site which has a great pool complex with pirate ship.

    The kids are eager to see their pool and play with Layla and Chloe so we head straight to the pool, Matt warned us to put the children in wetsuits as it was a little chilly. They had a big pool area with the biggest pirate ship ever with slides coming from all directions; however it didn’t take Amelia long to see the huge bucket of water that poured down every few minutes from the very top, and even with the little warning bell that gives you time to get out of the way, she could not be convinced to go back on it (she’s still scarred from last year in Brean!). Coen had a great time on the slides with Nic and also went on some great rainbow slides that shot him down into the deep pools. Amelia and Laila had a whale of a time splashing, diving, and swimming through all of the pools, and also loved shooting down the rainbow slides!

    After a lovely but chilly swim, and a park play, we head back to their pitch and the kids enjoy playing in their huge tent while we have some lunch. We take the short walk along the town to the beach and watch some surfers in envy.

    We stop for ice cream with a choice of about 30 flavours which obviously causes conflict in the heads of the children who want ALL of them - Amelia adamant about mango and raspberry, but one lick in decides she wants to change, one lick of my chocolate and she’s back on the first choice. We grab a quick pizza, baguette and little ice cream for Coen who had now woken up, and said a final fairwell to the Byhams, then hit the road to see if we could make the last ferry.

    Luckily we pull up to Verdon just as the penultimate ferry was boarding, so we jump straight on. Coen was super excited to see the boat, and that we were actually getting on it. By the time we found a seat by the window, he could barely contain his excitement. Amelia now a seasoned traveller of this route, was a little more blasé and after a quick look at the sea, wanted to play hide and seek - the 30 minute crossing was over in a flash.

    We planned to stop at the aire just the other side of the ferry in Royan, as it was getting close to bedtime by now. Unfortunately the first aire we try is totally full; we even tried to get into the extra car park at the back where we’d noticed a few motorhomes parked up, but the entrance has a 2metre height barrier, and for the life of us we couldn’t figure out how they’d managed to get in.

    We drive another 10 minutes to the next one, and luckily find the last space (although not technically a space) and we wake up early to avoid the parking man, after a night of thinking every engine we hear is the parking man coming to tell us off).

    A quick food and fuel shop, breakfast on the road, and we head to Nantes. We had been recommended Les Machines by a couple of people so thought we better check it out.
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