Sunday, 11 March 2018

25th wedding trip

2018 February  25th Wedding Anniversary Trip

We couldn't decide what to do for Pete's 65th birthday and our silver wedding long haul to somewhere exotic? Do a city break? Go to Iceland/Venice/Paris? 
We puzzled over it so long. Then we asked ourselves 'where are we happiest?' and the answer was easy...'in the van'!...... Preferably in Greece but this wasn't the right time to go as we had also decided that this would be the year that we got a new kitchen and bathroom....and not ones that were new  in a van as has happened before. So we did last minute ringing around and here's the little trip:

Wintersett Lakes , Wakefield

We drove, not very far, to Wintersett Lakes, the other side of Barnsley. It's about half an hour ...and another world away. We rarely travel in that direction. The site is small but pretty and the owner is really helpful. There are portaloos and electric hook up but no showers and 6 amp electric- though we were on a 16 amp.  We had a really nice flat walk around Angler's Lake and watched lots of birds from the hides there. There is a country park information and visitor centre and a cafe though it wasn't open. We watched a stunning sunset over the lake before going back to the van to eat. 

We then went to the Angler's Retreat, a perfect pub, about 100 yards from the site. We were made so welcome in the small pub with locals and landlord chatting away to us. We were given snacks from people who had brought things in to share- marvelous. We had a short starry walk back to a very quiet site.
There was heavy rain the next day but we had a long lie in then set to having a bit of a clean. When it stopped raining, we walked to Haw Park Wood , down through the wood towards Cold Hiendley. It's a perfect place for walkers and dogs. 

There are lots of marked paths and cycle trails with parking at the visitor centre. After tea we had to go back to the pub to make sure it was as good as yesterday and it was! The landlord even remembered our names and we were given more snacks by the kind people who go there....we'll be back!

York Rowntree Park.
I had found one night vacant at the Rowntree Park site and as York has always been a special place for us, I was ridiculously pleased when Pete told me he had rung the site and got three more nights! It was like getting a present.

We were woken up by a woodpecker who seemed to be just outside the van. We saw him in the tree opposite. We drove little back roads to York arriving at the very busy site but happy to get a spot in a corner. We went to walk the walls but they were closed so we went to the Station pub- always a good place to drink and watch people.  We went in the White Swan for shared mixed fish plate as we had decided that we wouldn't cook much on this trip and treat ourselves. We walked a very long way round back to the site having to stop in Wetherspoons to revive ourselves.

We spent some time researching where to eat on Pete's birthday and walked round looking at places. We ate in Piccolinos on the bridge as Pete wanted a pizza after all the walking. 

On the actual day, we had a lovely time wandering around. Pete got a pasty- pasty hunting is a favourite pastime. We had a really lovely meal in the Olive Tree , opposite Clifford's tower. 
Unfortunately, I used hand soap on my face after the night out and had a very sore face the next day. 

Cavendish Arms Embsay near Skipton

We had a nice drive to Knaresborough where we have never stayed. We parked down by the river in one of the few places we would fit the van and walked up into town. We had a good look around though it was cold. 

We drove to  Embsay and had a lovely welcome from the landlord of the pub. We parked in the bottom of the car park .  We walked around the village and to the station at Embsay where there is a restored railway to Bolton Abbey. 

We had a good meal here, free overnight stay and a nice chat with locals. It was a quiet cold night.

Liverpool Marina

It was a long slow drive on the route we'd taken over to Liverpool. We met Karen and Phil there at the Yacht Marina where the fiddly ticket machine confused us for a while. We had a walk along to Albert Dock along the river. It's a good place to park overnight as you are very central and it cost £15.  I called in to a chemist for some antihistamine and cream for my sore face then we went into some pubs. The town centre was very vibrant with lots of people out on the town.

Southport Pleasureland via Crosby beach 

We drove to Crosby beach to see the Gormley statues 'Another Place'. We parked in the country park and walked along the beach where the tide was out and it was easy walking. The statues are amazing and there were many people out walking in the sun and wind. 

We had something to eat then drove up to Southport. We parked in Pleasureland for £8 overnight. There are only facilities to empty the toilet and fill with water but it was fine. The lady who looks after it, Barbara , was really nice. 
We walked along the front into town and met friends Richard and Jayne who were staying there for a few days too. We had a nice meal out together and it didn't seem far to walk back. We will come here again as we didn't really look around. My face was still sore and I had made it worse by being out in the sun and wind. 

 Jayne and Richard came round with some beautiful buns she had made for our anniversary so we had coffee with them before heading home.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Edinburgh Christmas Market

Edinburgh  Christmas Market .....via pubs 
December 2017

Lamb Inn Rainton North Yorkshire

This is a super little pub with five marked motorhome bays with a field next to it, five minutes off the A1 so very convenient for a stop. Friends Phil and Karen joined us and we had good, well priced food, a nice welcome and good beer. Pete's fish was a 'whale'! It was a very quiet, very cold night. 

The Trap pub, Broomhill, Northumberland,

The next bright sunny morning, we headed off and decided to stop for lunch at St. Mary's Lighthouse near Whitley Bay- the scene of many a childhood trip. The tide was in and the view was gorgeous.

But it was a bit slippery!
We drove up to the Trap pub in Broomhill- easy to find. It doesn't have a huge carpark but there was enough space. We had a really nice welcome from the landlady, played pool for free and had a super meal. This pub seems to do lots for the local community and it's another place we would happily go back to. 

Mortonhall Caravan Site, Edinburgh

We had called here for one night on the way back from our Scottish trip and liked it and it was just as nice as I remembered.  We came up the A1 coastal route and called in at Morrison's at Berwick to fuel up and get some bits. We to and fro-ed on some pitches as several are sloping but it is a good camp site with super showers and an onsite pub and restaurant in the stable block. We got the number 11 bus from the top of the drive and 30mins later and £1.60 each lighter, we got to the city centre. We sampled the sausages, drank the mulled wine and watched the lights and the people and soaked up the atmosphere.  We got a bit wet.

Over the next two days, we went round the centre several times looking in shops, checking out pubs, and generally appreciating all that Edinburgh has to offer. It's a brilliant place to visit, especially at this time of year. The views from upstairs on the bus were good too!
We also enjoyed a lovely meal in the Stable bar with good service.

The Cottage Inn, Craster , Northumberland.

In search of a really nice kipper, we drove down the coast, past Bamburgh castle to Craster.....well not quite in Craster but not far to walk. 
We found the pub and parked amongst the trees at the back. It is very private and hidden.  Pete and me walked down to Craster and -joy of joys- the smoke house was open so we bought 2 crabs and some kippers. Pete was delighted- his love of all things fishy is well known. Then we had to check out the crab sandwiches in the Jolly Fisherman which has changed since our last visit. The eating area is quite beautiful, looking out over the sea. 

Pete had his fantastic crab sandwiches with super beer and very friendly service while I had a bowl of curried butternut squash soup and the nicest bread ever.....I asked and it was made by a local company called Bread and Roses who sell at local markets. It was amazing. We went back to the van then later into the pub for really nice food. We were well looked after and chatted to people from the local Onion club - they grow onions and compete against each other for onion size. I'd heard of Leek clubs but never onion clubs.
 We had a quiet night and the next day drove back via Newcastle, picking my mum up for a trip to our house. She likes sitting in the front of the van as she can see more!

Calver, Castleton and Hawes, favourite spots revisited

Calver, Castleton and Hawes....favourite spots revisited. November 2017


We set off for the Derwentwater Arms at Calver and because I needed to go to Newcastle during the time we were away, I took the car as well. Mistake number one was not to follow  my own route and listen to the blooming sat nav which took us on a dance around Chesterfield and down some little lanes. I stopped at one point and went to talk to Pete ...not easy to find a safe place to do that..... I think I was a bit frustrated.....'I am not going down that lane, I am heading back to the 'mainest' road!'  We held our collective breath and after three miles got on to the road I should have been on.

We found the Derwentwater Arms, parked up on the level bit at the bottom of the large car park and went for a drink. That was probably mistake number two......we should have checked everything while it was light and we were without alcohol.
We were made very welcome in the pub, so we booked a table for later and went for a walk. It wasn't much of a walk as Pete had spotted the Eyre Arms. We had a nice couple of drinks there and chatted to a local family. We went back much later to the van and tried to put the heating heating, no fridge-not that it mattered as it was freezing! Faffed about and then thought, maybe, as the van had been at the dealers for some little checks, we could  have left the fridge on and as we had left it for a couple of weeks there, it had used all the gas. We huddled up then went into the pub for a very nice wood fired pizza and other stuff in the pub.  We talked to the really nice staff and they wondered why people in motorhomes only stayed overnight and that we were welcome to stay longer. I will remember that! We put blankets on the bed and went to bed early after messaging several helpful facebook motorhome groups to find the nearest suppliers of LPG to fill the tank. We thought we would get up early and go to Morrisons off Sheffield Parkway to fill up.

Mistake number three.  We didn't wake up till 10am! That's what absolute darkness and nice drinks do! After ringing around several places, we realised we would have to go back to Sheffield but when we tried to put gas in, it went in very slowly and the guy filling up next to us had filled his car and our pump just didn't seem to work. We gave up and went to Hillsborough, where a really nice young guy came out to help as it was doing the same thing. He assured us that the LPG pumps were tricky things but we gave up again knowing that we would be on hook up at Castleton.  We got to Castleton, parked up and sat with a coffee pondering......
We had to go to the Nag's Head for  a drink.....after I had tripped the electric in the dark..or so I thought but the guy from the next van said that someone had hit that bollard the day before and it wasn't working properly. Power restored.

How could we possibly sleep another 12 hours? Easily, was the answer. I worked out that the only thing that could possibly be wrong with the gas is that it was over full and a call to the fitter confirmed it! Pete went out and pushed buttons and all was well. So we learnt from our mistake.We also learned that the electric trips off in the van, not at the post, as this Adria has a 10 amp trip. 
Another learning experience. I found I hadn't packed my walking poles either but I found a nice branch which helped me walk over the river and along to Hope where we went in  the Old Hall as is our custom. Our friends Andy and Carol arrived  in their new van which is lovely. 
Of course that meant we had to have a walk into Castleton and visit a couple of pubs.......before settling in the Castle for a lovely meal. 


As I had the car and Andy and Carol don't know the Peak district, we went out to Bakewell where a walk round made us hungry so we had to do a tea room stop.
From there we went to the plague village of Eyam which is always worth a look around.

Next day we drove past Ladybower reservoir to the beautiful Derwentwater reservoir. We had never driven around before - or seen so many timber lorries. It was lovely walking and taking in the fantastic scenery. We called back into Hope for amazing steak pies and sandwiches. I then left to go to Newcastle.

Pete moved the van up to Hawes and I joined them all in the evening. we went to the White Hart for a meal. Honestly- we do more than just eat and drink......

We had an adventurous day going first to Leyburn and the market there. We went through Richmond and spent the afternoon at Barnard Castle- a place I have only ever driven through. It's lovely!
We had an interesting drive back via Tan Hill for a drink then along the narrow ridge road in the dark back to Hawes. I want to do that again in daylight as it must be amazing, but not in the van!  

Rain and wind in the night rocked the van a bit. We did a round walk to Gayle and Burtersett then rewarded ourselves with fish and chips from the chippy. 

The next day was sunny and frosty which made walking along the river really pleasant though we had to go in three pubs and the cheese factory on the way back!
A lovely little trip to  favourite places. 

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Greek Summer 2017

Greece again. 2017

The plan this year was to head for Igoumenitsa and drive down the coast to Patras, meet with friends then carry on to the south. The plan changed......

Here's where we stayed on the journey:

Slate Hall Farm , Haverhill, Cambridge
Marine Parade, Dover
Aire de Camping Car, Stenay, France
Breisach am Rhein stelplatz, Germany
Brisighella, Italy 2 nights
Superfast X1 ferry overnight
Aginara Glyfa Greece 3 nights
Methoni , Greece
Camping Thines Finikounda Greece.....a long time!


Elia Beach Greece 3 nights
Kounoupelaki Beach Greece
Camping Tsolis north coast Greece 3 nights
Olympic Champion ferry overnight
Coldrerio services Switzerland
Plainfang, ( after Colmar) France
Stenay France
Rion Bridge Greece

Slate Hall Farm Cl Haverhill 

The trip started with a visit to see friends. Simon, Marion and Molly. We found the CL down a narrow road- a pretty site on a working farm. Our friends came to collect us and we went to the Fox and Hounds in Steeple Bumpstead for a lovely meal and a catch up.

Dover promenade

We drove on B roads through Saffron Walden after calling for shopping. We made a stop at Maidstone services but the parking was awful- very narrow. We parked up at Capel le Ferne for a couple of hours before going  into Dover and parking up. We went to Wetherspoons for too much Villa Maria  and a curry for me after ringing DFDS to see if we could get an evening ferry without success.


We woke up with water dripping in from the skylight- it was raining hard. Pete contacted Brownhills as we shouldn't have water coming in. The ferry was straightforward but we had fun in the E Leclerc  supermarket at junction 16  at Bergues because they have put height barriers. Never one to be defeated,   I negotiated a route past McDonalds and through a clothes shop car park. We got the usual first French shopping but the strawberry tarts had soggy bottoms!
We decided not to go to Remich but stop at Stenay.  It was a nice route as there had been some road improvements in Belgium and we took junction 28A  and a straight wooded road to N89 Bouillon.
We had a 'get to know your new van' day- we had fantastic showers, it didn't rattle on the road, loads of room ...but I couldn't find the instructions for the mifi, or the van instruction book or open the skylight in the shower.  The bedroom door jammed open . But....
I found the instructions for the mifi and got it working, I found the Adria book, I found the plastic locking switch on the shower roof light and found I had put some bags in a space that blocked the bedroom door from moving...yeah!
The van roof leak is bone dry so I think it may have been Pete's over enthusiastic washing of the roof. 

Breisach am Rhein

I went to the loos in the aire and there was hot water- usually it's not very warm. We went left in Montmedy for a change then went right via Musson  and Aubange to the Cactus supermarket and garage , Avenue de Luxembourg , Bascharage on the edge of Luxemburg where we fill up and get cheap gin ( 8 euros 30) and some of our favourite wine.We drove down to Metz in pouring rain but we were surprised to find that Jete de Pierre rest place where we usually stop, is now closed, what a pity. We stopped further on in Baccarat at Aire de Meurthe. We stopped for diesel in Vogelsheim ( France) but then found it was cheaper in Germany. We parked in the aire at Breisach where there is a new ticket machine and it costs six euros. We went for a walk and an ice cream but turned back as the skies went black and it poured down again. 

Brisighella - a new stop.

We headed off but wasted half an hour going round the new road system and buying awful bread at the supermarket. We stopped for a break south of Basel at Tufengraben- a good spot. There was a 19 minute queue for Gotthard tunnel and we stopped again at the parking after Gotthard south services. It was E2.30 entry to Italy  where for your money you get mad drivers, crazy driving and traffic jams but nothing much changes...expect the unexpected and all is well. 
We got to Modena, Camping Club Mutina where we usually stay. I had sent an email without getting a reply  and there were loads of people wearing yellow tee shirts buzzing around on bikes. One guy kindly told me that we couldn't stop there because they were full, there was a rock concert the next day ( Vasco?) and 200,000 people would be in Modena! They said they had sent an email and we could stay outside the camp but there was a chance that we wouldn't be able to get out of Modena in the morning because the roads would be closed. We were very tired by then so we had a cuppa and a biscuit and looked up somewhere else to stay. We found one but it was another hour and twenty minutes down the road. We got off at Faenza after struggling in rain and shitty traffic to get diesel. There were more jams round Bologna - it wasn't our night.  It got dark, we were tired, the sat nav played up and we couldn't find the sosta. I told Pete to drive back to the railway station where I got out and spoke to a group of young people who were sitting on their Vespas.  A couple of them went in front of us and found us the place to park.  They were rewarded! We were so relieved. I faffed about in the dark trying to read the meter and instructions, made tuna sarnies then slept.......


We had a good sleep . We looked on the internet about this place and went for a gorgeous walk through tree lined streets to the town centre then up 380 steps to the Rocca Tower - three euros well spent. It is fabulous up there with amazing views. We read about the mining of gypsum and the Messinian salinity crisis....yes, a Greek connection. 
We went into the town square and sat ages waiting for a coffee before I realised it was self service!. It wasn't very expensive and a good spot for people watching. There was a  donkey track with a vaulted ceiling in the town and some of the biggest aspidistras ever.  We saw a hoopoe flying through the trees in a park and got back to the lovely sosta with a cool breeze blowing through the van.  A great place to stop.


We were the only ones staying overnight and we emptied the loo and water easily.  We called at Lidl in Faenza for some shopping. We cruised happily on down to Fano where the sosta at Sassonia was busy as normal but the lady on the gate was very smiley           ( Carla) and we parked in the second road. We didn't swim just lazed on the beach for a while.  We went to the same restaurant as last year where the food was fine but the service isn't great ( Mel told us later that if you turn right, there's a better place)
A nice breeze kept the van cool.

Superfast X1 and the big decision change.

We got off early down to Mondolfo and onto the autostrada where I randomly said 'How about not going to Igoumenistsa and going straight to Patras?' and Pete readily agreed. We just felt we wanted to be settled.  We drove past field after field of sunflowers. We got to the ticket office and changed tickets without cost or fuss then   got to the docks and pulled up behind  David and Derwena and Maria and Stefan! We took pics and sent them to Theo at camping Thines. We had a very private spot- slight sea view and a really good sleep, helped by a glass or two of wine and a shared plate of gyros from the on deck snack bar supplemented with more salad and feeling glad that we didn't need to get up early and get off.
We went for coffee with Stefan and Maria in their very spacious caravan and the morning went by quickly and soon we were in Patras. We got off at 2.15pm  and went straight to Lidl and for fuel.

We drove down to Glyfa and another favourite spot at Camping Aginara.
We had a pot of home made vournela jam from Kiki and gave her a packet of custard creams! The showers are newly tiled with swallows nesting in them.  We went to the taverna there for a meal- papoutsakia ( little shoes- aubergines stuffed with mince)  We met the Italians next door who have a cat ladder up to the window for their two cats.
I did a big wash in the big sinks, exchanged camp sites with an English couple , Nigel and Marion who had been to Turkey , sorted the stiff drain tap out and had a picnic lunch on the lovely beach. The flowers here are just gorgeous- even the bins have a covering of bougainvillea. 

Aria and Dimitris, our friends from Rion came to visit. It was so good to see them. We went to the next village- Arkoudi , for souvlaki but Dimitris, also known as super chef, brought us a huge dish of yemista ( stuffed peppers and tomatoes) We ate all of it the next day!  We had a call from Theo to tell us the pitch would be free on Sunday- earlier than we had planned.

We drove down to Methoni camp site, stopping as usual in Zaharo for coffee and spanakopita ( spinach pies) and a quick shop in Kalo Nero. Pete did some excellent maneuvering past a bus in Marathopoli but we never found the start of the new road built last year......
We had a surprise driving into Pylos where we saw our friends Andy and Carol and Marj and Mike, sitting at a table in the square. They had shared a taxi there. We had to stop of course! We had a quick catch up and told them we would be at Thines tomorrow. 

Nandia met us at Methoni campsite reception and remembered us from last year. We went to O Nikos for a lovely meal trying hard not to listen to some loud americans talking about what a great guy Trump is.

Finikounda ! Home again! 

We set off for the short drive to Finikounda and when we got there, we found that Rikki and Gerd - Austrian friends, had moved pitch so we could get on earlier. How nice. We pitched up quickly then went for a swim and met with all the people we knew and had a super reunion meal at Palamidis. 
 We had lots of visitors the next day and got to know our neighbours, Ute and Eddie.

Pete and Andy went inland on their bikes up the valley while Carol and I had a chat but Andy got a hole in his tyre- Pete came back to get help so Takis and Pete went in the truck to get him. They found him by the church in the shade and when he saw them, he pretended to pray- to much laughter. 
When they got back, we all had drinks in the bar. We met Dafni, an architecture student working here for the summer and laughed with Katerina and Babis.   We ate at the campsite as Despina was cooking - fantastic traditional food. 

Pete and Andy sorted out getting a new tyre and Yiannis (also Thines family) got one in Kalamata for him. I took an gin and tonic round for Christina but got waylaid on the way back by an aperol spritzer with Maria......I love this campsite......!
The boules made an appearance in the early evening. 

Mel arrived:
Takis took Andy to get the tyre fixed on. Mel arrived late good to see him after his solo drive here. 
Another cause for celebrations so drinks in the bar, then Palamidis  for dinner.

Dia and Dimitris surprise visit:
We didn't know they were coming from Athens for the weekend so it was lovely to see them.
I was having a bit of bother swimming- my right hip wasn't working as it should so breast stroke was tricky...I ended up sort of flailing my legs! Theo brought us breakfast of bread , honey and exchange for a cup of tea.

One of our chairs broke but Pete fixed it though it won't fold ever again. Mel did a mammoth wash that was too mammoth for the washing machine which didn't recover. We formed a camp 'band'! Panayiotis, lead guitar, Jan and Mel playing along....Eddie plays too and me.....good fun.

I realise that I have too much trivia on here for seasoned motorhomers and what follows can be happily skipped....we were here 77 days! But what a fantastic time we had and what lovely people we know and lovely new people we met. 

I will put some photos and some highlights.

Dimitris, Babis, Theo and Angelos ..... a gathering of electricians all trying to fix Andy's cool box.

A fantastic night at Takis' farm where we had loads of food, beers and laughter.
Andy and Carol left and Andy did a treasure hunt for us to follow. Pete and Pete  took Honza and Rafaella with him as he cycled everywhere..... good fun if a bit complicated by the first clue which Theo and Mario set involving finding a man on the site and giving him a knew who he was so Pete had to get help from Stefan asking German and Austrians. 
Good friends Nondas and Mary arrived from Athens and Brigitte and  Herbert .
Jan and Honza moved their van next to us when Ute and Eddie left.

Pete went with Mel, Mario, Myrto and her sister to Kalamata to get an air conditioner for Mel and new chairs for us....but didn't get any but Myrto got a lovely outfit for her graduation. 

Babis,Mel and Herbert cycles 34 kilometres...and that was before I had breakfast!

Pete went fishing with Nondas and Paulo and caught 19 melanouria which we ate fresh.

Mel went to Evangelismos with Thanassis and Babis but two of them had bust tyres so it took them five and a half hours! 

We went to Pylos with Theo for shopping and coffee.
Lots of Greek friends arrived for the August holiday

We became grandparents! On August 8th little Louie George arrived . Our first grandchild....Mary bought banners and put them up on the awning to let everyone know. 

Lots of people from the campsite- including staff, went up to the panagyri ( festival) in Akritohori. It was a brilliant night- dancing, laughing and the pork...oh the pork.....! Mary suggested taking a pot of mustard so I put one in my bag. Wow! Mel learned to dance - to everyone's amusement but bless him, he worked hard at it and mary and Nondas were very patient. The band and singers were very good. Theo showed off his exceptional skill of catching peanuts in his mouth. There were so many people there all having a great time, it was wonderful.

We had great news on 8th August when Joe rang us to tell us of the birth of his son and our grandson,  Louie George. Jemma and the baby were well  and Pete couldn't speak for joy! 

Views from the van at Thines, Finikounda

I am not going to write about the rest of the time at Finikounda- so many lovely people came and stayed, including Helen and Vika. We did lots of nice things, ate good food etc.

We had some awful news one morning. Our very good friend Katie Kerslake- who had featured in many of the pages in this blog, died
suddenly during a routine operation. She had sent me a funny text to say what she was having done........her last message to me was pure Katie....funny and clever. 

We were absolutely devastated. It really makes you think about your own life . We are here such a short time- we have to live it to the full. 

The return journey:

Elia Beach

When we left Finikounda, we headed to Elia Beach on the coast north of Kalo Nero. It didn't look great to start with so we left the van and walked into the forest along the track.  There are miles of forest track with pine trees, small clearings, two places to get water, bins at the end of the track and great access to a fantastic beach. Camping is encouraged here with signs to tell you not to go on the beach at night because of turtles and nests.
We found a shady place thinking we would stay overnight but left  three days later! We had a cycle ride, good swims and watched lots of beautiful  butterflies flying south- there were so many of them!
Pete found a baby tortoise then we rescued a bigger one from the middle of the road.  We watched a shepherd herd his sheep along through the forest and saw stunning sunsets...and it got even better when a baker's van arrived in the morning with fresh bread.

Kalogria/ Katakolo/ Killini/ Kounoupelaki
 We stopped in Katakolo for coffee and met up with Corrinne and Geoff from the campsite in Finikounda who had left a few days before us...nice surprise! We then went to Killini port to saty there for the night but didn't find anywhere we liked so drove on through the Strofilia Forest to Kalogria where there was a camperstop. It wasn't anything special and there were no showers so we drove back a bit to Manolada then down a gravel road to Kounoupelaki Beach. We had a quiet night there. 

Camping Tsolis , north coast past Rion near Lambirion.

After buying bread, tomatoes and cucumbers  from a little old guy who turned up in his car, we set off for Patras.  We called in at Lidl there that has the best view of any supermarket!  We drove to camping Tsolis to meet friends Aris and Dimitris before we got the ferry. It's a pleasant site above a beach with great views. Pete had a swim in full sunshine but it was cooler.  We had a lovely meal cooked just for us by the lady who was the waiter, the chef, the everything.....She also gave us grapes but it felt very end of season there.  They sell nice bread in the office and the staff told me that people usually stay a day before the ferry but there are a few static caravans that Greeks use for weekends and holidays.  
Dimitris and Aris took us into Rion by the bridge for souvlaki and a lovely evening.

We met them there the next day too for coffee. We parked under the bridge where there were lots of people swimming though we didn't.
We had stayed three nights at the site but I wouldn't do it again. It's safe to park near the bridge if we needed to. 

We got the usual ferry with the usual 'Wacky Races' approach to getting on- there is never any logic to how and when you are boarded. 
The boat was rammed full of lorries and we seemed to spend an age in Igoumentisa but this seasoned old ferry traveller couldn't be bothered to get up to watch. There was a whiff of drain smell and I got anxious about ti but then realised that it wasn't our van that was smelly. 

Coldrerio Services
When we got off the next day , it was 5.35 Italian time and we set off for the big drive north. We stopped opposite the Barillo factory for a quick cuppa but there was very little space as lorries needed to get parked up. We got to Coldrerio services just over the border into Switzerland at 11.45. It was too long a journey for me and we won't be doing it again....though I have said that before!

It was one of those days- nowhere with space when you needed a coffee stop and I was still grouchy from the day before. Pete had said that in return for stopping longer at Finikounda, I could choose a route back- and I had but we didn't follow it because he wanted to get diesel and LPG in Germany and my route wasn't that way. We struggled to do our first solo first with LPG but a nice guy came out of the garage near the bridge in Breisach to help. We parked by the river fo a nice lunch then carried on past Kaysersburg over the col to Plainfaing- a new aire. It had barrier entry which didn't take a lots of puzzling out, electricity, well laid out plots and wifi.  It's a pretty place but after a walk, we realised that there wasn't an awful lot to see but it is a convenient route stop.

We stopped at the bakery in Fraize as usual for beautiful baked goods. We headed for Luxemburg and the usual garage and supermarket at Bascharage. There was heavy rain . I got soaked going to the bank in Montmedy. The sun came out in Stenay so we had a walk.

We headed back to Dunkirk via Valenciennes. It was cold! Next year we will go a faster route via Bouillon to the motorway. and maybe stay at the sire in Bouillon instead of Stenay?
We evicted a small Greek spider when we parked in LeClerc.  We got the boat before the one we were due on and parked up in Marine Parade. Pile driver noise at 8 am gave us an early start home.