Sunday, 24 August 2014

Belgium in August

 Early morning awakenings

This morning (Sunday) I woke up in a foul mood. The dog had woken me at about 4.30am wanting to get on the bed with us. Now this is no longer allowed because as an old lady she had problems with her waterworks. This has been going on for a little while now, but it is getting worse and she needs some HRT which we will get sorted when we get to Spain. So having sent her back to her own bed I was now awake.

Well in the words of the Lighthouse Family - “You can't always be happy all the time”.

The reason for my bad mood, well, we're on the road again and that is always stressful for me. I just don't have the wanderlust that Iain has, I like to know where I am going, where I can get my groceries, how easy it is to get washing done, what the roads are going to be like. I can get really wound up when driving but I know I'd be worse if I was a passenger. The rain was beating down, I'd nearly run over a couple on a zebra crossing and I didn't like the campsite we'd just arrived (well nearly arrived) at. It was very close to the “It's all your fault” stage yesterday but the words didn't quite come out, but the “I want to go home” did. Woops – this is home, wherever you park it and at that time it was parked on the side of a road, somewhere I didn't want to be, with the rain beating down – again - while we frantically looked for another camp site.

In my defence the zebra crossing incident wasn't all my fault, but of course if you hit someone on a zebra crossing it is immediately your fault in law. Anyway it happened because I was approaching the crossing and looking at the couple on my right side, they were dithering near to the crossing and I was waiting to see if they were going to cross or not. They dithered enough that I decided they weren't getting onto the crossing and were going to wait for me to go past. However, because my attention was on them, I hadn't seen the couple on the left-hand side who had decided to cross and make me stop. Well by the time I saw them it was “anchors on”, hard on the brakes, Iain nearly shot into the windscreen and the noise of loads of stuff reverberating around in the lockers was like shaking pebbles in a tin. The guy looked just like the frozen rabbit in the headlights, but hey if you saw a great big truck coming towards the crossing, wouldn't you make sure it was going to stop before you stepped in front of it? No harm done, except it probably raised a few people's blood pressure through the roof.

This was one of those bad travelling days – not as bad as the San Sebastian one, but pretty bad and this is why I didn't want to be where we were.

Down there?  You cannot be serious!!!!!

The book said, lovely campsite suitable for large motorhomes. They're having a laugh!!!! This was the entrance. We stopped behind another motorhome who obviously had the same idea as us. Iain got out and walked down the lane, he came back with that look on his face of “mmm, don't think you are going to like this. At this point the other motorhome drove off as they'd obviously decided that they didn't like the look of it either. So I then got out (in the rain) and had a look. Yes it was DOWN the lane; DOWN to a level crossing with a tight bend, DOWN another single lane track and finally arriving at the campsite.

I considered it for a while. I thought that we would get the van down there, after all it does say suitable for larger motorhomes, but then maybe if it wasn't raining, I might have a go; maybe if I didn't have this innate fear of level crossings (I think it was all those silent movies that my dad had when we were kids, where the damsel in distress would always be tied to the railway tracks and be rescued, screaming just as the train came along), I might have a go; maybe if it wasn't so narrow that there was no passing place, I might have a go; maybe if once getting down there I didn't have to think about getting back up, I might have a go. Iain offered to drive down there and I said "You must be joking, you haven't driven in the last 5000 miles, do you really think it's a good time to practice?"

Then I calmed down and saw sense – I remembered the terraced site in Costa Blanca last winter where we got onto the pitch ok but then grounded trying to get off again and although I thought I could do it, I just wasn't prepared to spend 4 days worrying about getting out again!!!!!!

So there we were – and now we're somewhere else. But before I move on to where we have been, as I said I'm up early and I've just taken the dog out. It was about 6.30am when I took this picture.

The weather is feeling pretty autumnal even though we haven't got to the end of August yet.  However cold it is here, I've just heard on the news that it was -2C in Northern Ireland last night, so that's made me feel smug. The mist was rising above the river and forming in little tufty clouds as they floated their way up the gorge into the trees and beyond. It reminded me of my rowing days on the Thames at Twickenham when we would be on the river by 8am, Saturdays and Sundays, rain or shine, summer or winter. Those early mornings were wonderful. Still, crisp and you knew that soon you would hear the lovely splish of the blades as they entered the water and propelled you down the river. So now the world is all right with me and I know it's going to be a lovely day – who sang that? I just love the water and as long as I'm near water, I'm happy. It must be because I'm a pisces.


So getting back to our trip. In my last post we had just arrived in Ostende – which seems like ages ago. There's really not much to “write home about” Ostende. The campsite was ok, the internet was expensive and not very good – I had to go to the toilets to get a decent signal which seemed miles away. They were full up when we arrived and we had to stay on a bit of grass in the middle which was obviously saved for “drop in's” . The area had a nice beach – and allowed dogs on it early morning and evening. There were a few shops around so we could get groceries, but we didn't eat out at all. We didn't even go out for a beer!!!!!! Mainly because nowhere did free wifi. It did give us a chance to get our washing done so at least we left clean and with all clean clothing. The weather was a bit hit and miss as we got the tail end of hurricane Bertha but hey, you got worse in England. It was a bit of Margate across the sea though. So that's about all I've got to say about Ostende, I didn't find it very inspiring and don't think I got my camera out once – so I'll move on.


Leaving Ostende we travelled some 2 hours
to Breda in Holland. Here we were to stay for 5 nights. The main roads in Holland are fantastic, although there are a lot of lorries on them. The surface is great and the motorways have 3 lanes so for a change there were no problems with the driving. We understand that the people of Holland pay around 80 Euros a month in car tax so not much wonder the roads were good. The campsite was nice, off the beaten track and had a pool, although even though it was August it wasn't warm enough for me to swim.

The lanes around the campsite were pretty small so we had to go slowly. As we turned around one corner, some children were playing in the lane. One girl about 12 years old suddenly looked up and exclaimed “Oh My God!, mama, mama, come see”. They don't get many vans like ours around here then.

The first day we just chilled and took a wander around the area. This took us up the lane and past this really vicious dog. Now I'm pretty cool around dogs but this one scared me, even our dog didn't do her normal dancing around. I'm so glad that he was behind a metal fence, although you could see loads of places where he'd tried to gnaw his way out, which you might be able to see in the picture. I scooted past his place several times.

Along the end of the lane we found the smallest church I'd ever seen, it was really quaint, with only 4 pews, worth I picture I thought.

The weather forecast was ok for the following day so we decided to cycle the 5 miles or so into Breda. As you can imagine, cycling around Holland is a doddle. It's just so flat and there are cycle lanes everywhere, even though with the dog on the back it's like peddling uphill all the time for me.

Breda itself is a bit disappointing, it's pretty but a bit run-down with loads of closed shops. So here's a couple of token pictures of Breda.

We actually decided to have lunch so we stopped in a street cafe. Luckily we chose one with umbrellas as not long after we sat down the heavens opened. We couldn't go inside because of the dog so we just sat it out. It was so heavy that the dog was shaking because the sky was falling down and we even needed our waterproofs, under the umbrella.

It was just a shower - not

August in Breda

We didn't wait that long, unlike in France a couple of years ago when we got caught in the rain and ended up leaving 70 euros lighter. We weren't going to make that mistake again.

So the 5 mile cycle ride back home – in the rain. Luckily before leaving Ostende, we had visited the nearby supermarket and I had stocked up for about 5 days of food. Unfortunately Iain hadn't done the same with his really essential supplies - booze. So we just had to find a supermarket on the way back in case we were confined to barracks for a few days. This was when I thought that Dutch people don't eat. Can you find a supermarket? No! All the way in and all the way out – no supermarket to be seen. We cycled onto a huge retail park where we were convinced we might at least find the equivalent of an M&S food hall and there was nothing. A young couple gave us some general directions to a supermarket but they said it wasn't very near to where we were. So off we went – this time with Iain in front. As we cycled round a residential area, I could see a church over to our left and that's usually a pretty good indicator of a town centre, and civilisation but we had gone past and he was too far ahead for me to shout. Finally I got him to stop and made the decision to find the church. Yes, there was not only one, but two supermarkets. We chose one and did our shopping – then went to the “Cards only” lane, only to find that it didn't take our cards. Only Dutch ones. How stupid is that? So after some discussions we were able to pay in cash at another till. Luckily we had some. That is one tip for people travelling to Holland – it is nearly all Maestro cards, many places just don't accept Visa, cash machines are generally ok though. Also supermarkets don't sell spirits!!!

So essential supplies replenished we headed off back to the campsite. We were pretty wet when we got back but hey – we are English, we are used to it.

The following day, the weather forecast wasn't too good so we decided to have a day indoors. This would give me a chance to make a start on my re-upholstery of the settee. So we got the sofa-bed out to see how everything was attached. We established that this job didn't have to be done in one go and that we could still use the settee during the process – so I got out the snips and made a start. The weather was overcast but I could get outside so I unpicked one of the seat cushions, got my empty cow outside onto the ground and made a plan.

Measure twice, cut once
Beer cans make great weights to stop the leather blowing away

That was enough for the first day – sewing to start tomorrow. Then next day I did manage to complete one cushion but the before and after pictures to follow when I've finished.

After 5 nights in Breda it was off to Ermelo

No comments:

Post a Comment