Gistel, BelgiumAugust 29 in Belgium
We're back! Martha is keeping the three of us snug, as plump raindrops lazily dribble from a featureless sky. We are parked in a brick paved stellplatz at the back of a sports, games and cultural centre in Gistel, Belgium. A Belgian Hymer van is stationed alongside us and a screen of Buddleia bushes, some with a few purple flowers, provides a green backdrop for the front window. Although the water droplets falling on our roof are noisy, they've driven everyone indoors, so the place is pleasantly undisturbed.
We spent a total of five nights at our sister and brother in law's house in Orpington, enabling Will to have a Colonoscopy at Croydon University Hospital. We are really pleased the procedure went well and that the doctors found nothing that to worry about. Big thanks to Sue and John for putting us up and sharing the delicious sweetcorn, tomatoes, grapes, parsley and cooking apples from their garden!
We set off just after 9am this morning and had a wet drive down to Dover Port. Check-in was simple as we flashed our burgundy passports at the officials and were waved on. Poppy got to check out the new dog exercise area with its astroturf, ramp and jumps. There was a time when she would have relished the obstacle course, but as it was she just had a sniff and a piddle before following the black and white walkway back to the van with Vicky. At 12:05pm we set sail on the P&O ferry, Spirit of France and were docking in Calais before we knew it. The van was parked in pole position and we were first off our deck, whizzing through the corridor of tall, off-white mesh fencing, topped with coils of razor wire. Clear of the fortress-like defences and a little way down the motorway we passed a migrant camp. Small tents pitched within a coppice and a line of rain soaked residents queuing to receive their rations from a Red Cross van.
After nearly 100km we followed a complicated set of sat nav instructions through a residential estate and pulled in at the stellplatz where we put the kettle on and settled in for the evening.
Thankfully the night saw the rain pass over and we woke to dappled sunshine filtering through the Poplar leaves. Having looked on Maps.Me we knew there were some small shops nearby, so walked into the centre of Gistel. The village had a friendly feel and a lot of independent businesses, but the best shop was Leonidas chocolatier! Will knows how much Vicky loves good chocolate and persuaded her to go in and choose a selection to fill a small box. Neither of us know Dutch but the person behind the counter spoke excellent English and described each of their handcrafted delights in detail. Vicky had a whale of a time picking out the ones she would like best! A brief stop at one of the half dozen bakeries saw us leaving with a seeded loaf and another sweet treat for Vicky; a slice of Belgian bread pudding!
It would have been easy to just pack up and set off on our journey, but we are so glad we made the effort to explore Gistel. The overnight spot wasn't memorable in itself but the village seemed to be a warm, accepting place and we left with a feel good glow!Read more