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4,212 travelers at this place:

  • Day800

    Now this is more like it! While the 6 places we've stayed since setting foot back on the continent have all been good, we feel we've really connected with this spot, on the shore of See im Großen Moor, a lake near Meckelfeld. Parked up beside a single track dead end road, the layby of hard packed earth we are in is plenty big enough for the van, but not so big that other cars can pull in along with us. Through the trees to our left we can see a grassy field and to our right, a narrow path has been cleared between the foliage and leads from our door, over a walkway and to the water's edge just 15m away. Whilst the area feels very rural and has a sense of peace, it is in close proximity to Machen rail terminus, comprising over 100 train tracks and surrounded by many urban areas, not to mention Hamburg just to the north.

    The sun was shining brightly when we arrived so Will soon joined the other people splashing about and cooling down in the lake. The bed was sandy with a few large rocks at the edges and it became deep quickly so it was ideal for wild swimmimg. He returned later with his snorkle, exploring the fronds of yellowy green weed and the fallen trees, their submerged trunks reaching out branches like fingers. Vicky waited until late afternoon before getting her cossie on. Although it felt cold, it was in fact warmer than the freibad we swam at a few days ago and she soon acclimatised. We swam nearly 400m to the opposite bank, then around the head of the lake and back to our little entry point. Immature Perch darted along beneath us while Coots and the occasional Great Crested Grebe bobbed on the surface. We were pleased to see two other pairs of swimmers making their way up the lake. Vicky watched in awe as one pair passed by in front crawl, their face immersed for several strokes before they drew breath. She was used to doing this in heated pools but found the breath went out of her when in cold water, forcing her to take the air every stroke. She spent some time practicing and found that after 20 minutes she was able to swim as they had been, albeit over a much shorter distance!

    As the light began to fade, Will spotted a few hares in the field opposite. From the cover of the van we were able to watch them quite naturally lying down, their long ears pinned back, almost reaching their tails. Evening brought an intense sunset over the water. Rich warm hues backlit the woodland skyline, transitioning to cool blues in the higher echelons of the atmosphere before being capped with inky blackness. Once darkness fell and Vicky had gone to bed, Will went for a quick dip under the twinkling stars.

    Morning light revealed dense mist blanketing the area, turning the world black, white and shades of grey. The air and water were still and Vicky took her yoga mat to a small wooden platform on the lake shore for her morning session. All was calm, but for the occasional 'Splosh' from a large fish jumping above the surface and creating concentric circles of ripples. It was a relaxing 30 minutes.

    Before leaving we took the 2.4km track around the lake, coming close to the train tracks at one end. The sound of metal on metal as engines screeched to a halt, wrenched the air like some sound effect from a horror movie, but in contrast, the 3 people we met along the way were remarkably friendly, with one even having a good natured laugh and joke about Will's kilt, which of course Will loved!

    We have been on this tour for 800 days now. The time has whizzed by! Our health issues have meant we've needed to be flexible with our itinerary in the past 8 months in order to attend UK based appointments but this in turn has meant we've enjoyed more time with family and friends. Many of our plans have worked out and we've clocked up a total of 56,200km; that's 1.4 times around the world! We've visited 20 countries and toured 15. Vanlife isn't without its challenges but we are having a blast living the lives we do! Thank you to everyone who travels vicariously with us and who like and comment on this blog, it is wonderful to have your company on the road.
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  • Day781

    For tonight's stopover we have found ourselves a grassy parkplatz in Northern Germany. 8 weeks ago
    Will was referred for a colonoscopy, so we altered our original itinerary (which would have seen us in Estonia now) and instead chose a country closer to the UK. After making several phonecalls to various hospital employees, we found out this morning that there was an appointment available on the 25th, in 9 days. We did a quick distance check (750 miles between us and Orpington) and accepted the slot. After a last wild swim in Denmark we ate lunch and hit the motorway. As things stand, we are planning just a few days in Orpington before returning to Denmark and exploring Funen and Zealand, the large islands to the east of the Jutlandic peninsula we've enjoyed exploring so much.

    Arriving at the parkplatz in the late afternoon, there wasn't another car in sight and with the exception of two short-stay visitors, it has remained that way since. Over the road is Arenholzer See bathing area. The lake had a small amount of blue green algae, but needless to say Will enjoyed a swim, as well as brushing up on his German with the locals!
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  • Day798

    Bramsche swimming baths

    September 2 in Germany

    Summer is letting us know it isn't ready to go just yet, with an evening temperature of 24°C. Not quite the intense heat we endured early and mid season, but enough to open the windows and pull up the reflective blinds. Continuing our journey north to Denmark we pulled into the paved car park of Bramsche swimming baths in the late afternoon. The establishment provides a small amount of space for vans, as well as electric, filling and emptying facilities.

    We'd already been swimming earlier in the day so were planning to wait and see whether we felt like a dip the following morning. The place looked interesting with two pools heated to 30°C and 32°C, a sauna, a salt cave and outdoors there was access to a natural lake. Unfortunately Mondays were the only day they were closed, so we instead planned an early set-off.

    The night was quiet enough, then from 7:30am walking trains of middle school children came marching down the highstreet and over the car park, brimming with energy on what we assume was their first day back after the long holidays. It is at times like this we remind ourselves how very fortunate we are to have the freedom to continue travelling.
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  • Day802

    It's our last day in Germany for a while and we are spending the night on Fehmarn; an island linked to the mainland via the Fehmarn Sound Bridge. We've found a car park at Presen beach. It's handy because it is only 10km away from the Puttgarden ferry, which is booked to take us to Rødbyhavn in Denmark tomorrow morning. The square gravel parking area is bordered by grass and a mix of young trees. These provide some protection from the blustery sea breeze infusing the air with a salty tang. A short walk away is a grassy dyke and beyond it, the blue waters of the Fermer Bælt and Strand Presen; a narrow stoney beach.

    It is a seasonable 22° and when we arrive Vicky and Poppy sit outside while Will swims. The sea is warmer than the lakes and freibad he's recently swum in, but the stones are sharp and he returns with cuts on his feet. There are a few other vans and a steady flow of cars in and out of the car park although it never gets to the point where it could be described as busy. Pleasant as this spot is, we are excited about crossing over to Denmark. We had a great time on the Danish peninsula of Jutland in July and August and are looking forward to exploring its islands.
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  • Day783

    A metre seperates Martha Motorhome from the 6ft tall field of sweetcorn to our left and our windscreen view is of the Osnabrück canal and its loose gravel and grass towpath. The narrow country road behind us is just an access route so only a few vehicles pass by while we are here.

    As Vicky started the engine this morning, Will was looking even more pleased with himself than usual. He eventually pointed out that the oil warning light was no longer flashing on the dashboard display. We had recently filled the oil tank but the warning light needed to be reset. We were going to wait until we visited our old garage when we returned to West Midlands in December, but instead Will had spent hours researching how to do it and after following several bits of advice that didn't work, he carried out the following set of instructions:
    1. Turn ignition key
    2. Press the gas pedal and hold it
    3. Press the brake pedal 7 times without releasing the gas pedal
    4. Keep pressing the gas pedal for 60 seconds
    5. Release the gas pedal and turn off the ignition
    6. Wait for 60 seconds
    7. Turn on the ignition and start the engine.

    It reads like some practical joke that would get you looking round for hidden cameras but sure enough it worked! One less thing to worry about- well done Will!

    The distance we covered was shorter today than yesterday so despite the continuing congestion, road works and traffic jams we arrived just before 1pm. Following lunch we spent some time sorting out travel arrangements for Will's visit to Croydon hospital; we can't thank Will's sister and brother in law enough for their help with this - the van wouldn't exactly fit into a hospital parking bay.

    After watching dozens of cyclists pass by on the towpath, we worked up enough enthusiasm to get the tandem out and managed 6km along the countryside waterway before the track turned to grass and we were met with a large gate and fence surrounded by razor wire. We took it as a sign it was time to turn back but nevertheless really enjoyed our excursion.
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  • Day826

    Westerstede Boulodrome

    September 30 in Germany

    We are resting beneath tall oak trees, the wind blowing cold droplets of water from their wet leaves onto Martha's roof along with the occasional acorn. The grey gravel pitch of Westerstede Boulodrome sits behind us, abandoned in this inclement weather.

    It feels like we've been on the road for a long time today and in a way we are grateful for the foul weather as an excuse to stay inside. We began by driving a short way to the river Elbe, a little distance inland from its Wadden Sea estuary. We'd made the decision to avoid industrial Hamburg whose motorways are so often clogged with traffic. Instead we charted a route further to the west that crossed over the River Elbe via the Glückstädt-Wischhafen ferry.

    As is often the way, we arrived at the tiny port with a queue of vehicles behind us. An open topped boat was at the station and those ahead of us had boarded. We stopped at a red light while a few smaller cars and motorbike were signalled to overtake us and join this crossing. We didn't mind waiting as it gave us an opportunity to look round and Poppy the chance for a wee. We could see another ferry hovering in the channel and it powered into dock as soon as the former had departed. The F/S Ernst Sturm's deck was was also fully loaded and in a speedy turnaround we were directed on board with about 50 other vehicles before the engines fired up and powered us out accross the river. Vicky climbed to the middle platform running alongside one edge of the ferry, while Will waited for the ticket master to visit the van before joining her. Unlike the Danish ferry we took recently, where we were expected to pay by card, these tickets could only be purchased by cash, neither were we allow up to the bridge where the captain's cabin was. It did however sell icecreams and würst so Will indulged in the latter to fortify him for the drive ahead. It was a fun ride and for €17.50, feeling the wind in our hair as we sailed across the water was so much better than being stuck in Hamburg's notorious traffic jams.

    After disembarking we drove past several kilometres of queued traffic waiting to board, including many motorhomes. It seemed quite a lot of others had the same idea as us! The area is rural so the rest of the drive took us past farmer's fields along tree lined roads. Our stop at Westerstede wasn't far away from the border with the Netherlands so we felt we'd made good progress today.
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  • Day782

    Ottersberg Sports Centre

    August 17 in Germany

    The sports centre on the outskirts of Ottersberg offers facilities for vans and is close enough to the motorway to make it a very convenient stopover on a journey between Denmark and Dunkirk. Because of this, it is the second time we have stayed here, having visited on our way up to Scandinavia in late June. A patch of grass and low shrubs seperate us from a closed off single track road so there are no passing cars. Walking a hundred metres up this road brings us to wide open farm fields and in the other direction there is access to the centre's outdoor football pitch.

    We have covered just over 200km on our drive south today. It took more time than we'd hoped because we got caught up in a series of traffic jams on the motorways, especially around congested, industrial Hamburg. We split the journey into two, stopping off midway at an Edeka supermarket for a car park lunch and some shopping. We are only just appreciating what a chilled out and relaxed country Denmark is, now that we have left and are noticing the stress and business of people in Germany. It is something we will adjust to quickly, but compared to the last 6 weeks in Danish supermarkets, today's shopping trip seemed to be full of people in a rush, unwilling to make eye contact, pressuring us to get out of their way etc. It is funny the way the human brain often works, only really appreciating how good some things are when they are gone!

    We were able to deposit the two small crates of empty alcohol-free beer bottles into the reverse vending machine, earning us a return of nearly €5. In his head, Will put this amount towards buying more alcohol-frees, whereas Vicky allocated it to the cakes we bought! We obviously have different priorities! We got caught out when paying for the sweet treats at the supermarket bakery, Will had used contactless to pay for our groceries but the bakery was cash only and we hadn't yet changed the kroner in our wallets for euros. Luckily Vicky had an emergency note in her phone case so all was not lost. We found the no cards policy within the supermarket a little strange after Denmark, where market stalls advertised 'mobile pay' and even the little catering van at Sletterhage lighthouse, miles from any village, had contactless!

    Completing the second leg of our journey and pulling into the stellplatz was a good feeling. Vicky can find covering long distances day after day and staying new places each night a bit disorienting so returning to somewhere familiar really helped. There was only one other van when we arrived but the place soon filled up. A British family pulled into the spot in front of us and we got chatting. The two parents, three primary school aged children and Willow the spaniel were touring for the summer holidays and had spent a little time in Denmark. We swapped stories and Poppy glared warily at Willow before they went to fetch a takeaway pizza and Will finished cooking ours.
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  • Day799

    Harpstedt Park (2nd visit)

    September 3 in Germany

    We are glad of the shade we have found under mature parkland trees. At 25°C it is t-shirt and short weather (or t-shirt and kilt, if you are Will). We've found a spot on the lush green grass of Harpstedt Park, along with three other motorhomes whose occupants are quietly going about their business. From the left, intermittent calls from kids enter our windows, as they play in the freibad at the edge of the park, shielded from view by trees and bushes. Bird calls predominate from our right.

    Whether travelling back to the UK or returning to Denmark, it feels like we've been 'heading somewhere', taking one night stops for a long time! We spent the afternoon relaxing on our camp chairs or in the van, as a slight breeze stirred the leaves and provided a little relief from the warmth of the day.
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  • Day801

    Reinfeld Stellplatz

    September 5 in Germany

    Martha Motorhome sits between a German van and a timber framed vending hut on a trailer. We are at the stellplatz within Reinfeld's brick cobbled car park and have indulgently invested €1 in 1KW of electric hookup to run our plug-in fan and cool the interior from a sweltering 28°C. Poppy definitely approves!

    A bathing place at a nearby lake offers a small jetty, beach and grass to lay on if you pay the €1.70 entry fee. Will intended to do so, but found it closed due to blue-green algae. He did the test of standing knee deep in the water and the bloom wasn't so thick he couldn't see his feet so he took his chances and went for a dip. The town is just a short walk away but Vicky wasn't feeling very energetic so we just relaxed in the van.Read more

  • Day784

    Lobberich stellplatz

    August 19 in Germany

    We've chosen the corner pitch out of the three provided at Lobberich stellplatz. Leafy trees on two sides give us a little privacy but the large billboard behind us makes sure we don't mistake it for a countryside setting. Saying this, the quiet residential estate has little passing traffic and has has an urban park with a small lake beside it.

    It was another long journey today but we are getting closer to Dunkirk, as evidenced by the increasing number of British cars passing us on the motorway. Will was pleased to get out in the canoe for a short time while Vicky got stuck into her latest knitting project and got creative in the kitchen too, preparing courgette and sweetcorn pancakes for tea!Read more

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