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  My 2010 European Trip

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7/3/10
I'm writing this little prologue in March so there's a couple of months to go before I depart on the 21st of May on a Koreanair flight to the UK with an overnight stopover at Seoul.

I've already purchased a lovely little Peugeot Autosleeper from Steve Cronin at Rainham Motor Caravans in Essex on a buy-back scheme so I already know what I'll get when I return it to Steve towards the end of September.


Because the Autosleeper is fully self-contained I'll be able to use the extensive network of Aires de Service in France and Spain plus I've signed up as a member of France Passion and now have an invitation to stay at a great number of vineyards and farms throughout France.

As an Overseas Member of The Caravan Club I also will have access to their 200 plus Club Sites (we call them Caravan Parks in Oz) and their more than 2,000 Certified Locations which have a limit of five RVs a night but are cheaper than the Club Sites.

In the UK I have numerous relatives and friends to visit so the Peugeot will be a handy means of travel. I mentioned to Steve that the distances were so short compared to what I'm used to in Oz and he tempered that by mentioning the traffic that sometimes slows things to a crawl.

There have been a lot of things to consider and arrange for this trip but everything seems to be coming together now with just one big question mark! I have to see a Urologist next week to investigate an enlarged prostate and I'm hoping the result is not going to upset my plans.

I'll be starting a daily travel diary when I leave Australia and it will be updated whenever/wherever I have Internet access.

You can bookmark this page now to return to it later.

Bye for Now,

Lionel

One week to go! 

15.5.10
It's just a week now before I fly out - providing the volcano doesn't interupt flights again.

I mentioned my prostate earlier before I knew I had prostate cancer. That came as a bit of a shock and at one stage I thought the trip might have to be postponed. However I'm on hormone therapy now and the doc has given permission for the trip but strongly suggested I shorten it a bit.

The plan now is to return in mid-August and then start a course of radiotherapy that should fix things up so that I stay around a good while longer yet.

It's been a bit of a roller coaster these past few weeks. Bone and body scans, biopsies, a TURP operation, a visit to the Peter Mac cancer clinic. getting all the medications I need for the weeks away and deciding what to take with me.

I've bought a few things on Ebay UK delivered to my motorhome dealer. A Russell Hobbs coffee machine, a 1500 watt inverter to run it and two Tom Tom GPS. One went astray and I'm trying to get my money back and the other one arrived this week. It's got UK and Europe maps so that should reduce the number of times I get lost.

A friend in the UK has bought a 'dongle' and internet pre-paid set up for me so I should  be able to keep up this diary from over there. I will be able to send and receive emails during the trip. lionel@caravanning-oz.com

22.05.10

It's started! At 3.30 am this morning the houshold awoke - nobody very bright and cheerful. An uneventful run to the airport and then the waiting started. The flight is 1/2 hr late but after coffee and a chat with my drivers - daughter Sue and husband Shaun, I wandered though the maze where I was checked, scanned, patted down and apparently passed muster. I'm now in the gate lounge spending $4 on an internet connection.
Next stop Seoul?
The plane was getting ready for us in the Tullamarine dawn light. I'll post this before the 15 minutes runs out! And I'll try to update tonight from Korea.

SEOUL 21.20

I'm here! After about 10 of the most boring hours I've ever sat through. I had a window seat - great for looking out until they made us shut the blinds to show old boring films! I beat them just a bit as I've got a little led light for my Kindle and could continue reading despite the black out. The other problem was getting in and out to go to the loo. I didn't need to go often but pressing urgency came just as turbulence hit and the 'fasten seatbelts' light came on. No way would they let me go - so I endured about a half hour of agony with a bladder full to bursting.

Seoul was very welcoming. Not! Low cloud and rain so when we drove to our hotel via the expressway, the bus windows steamed up and all you could see through the windscreen was the red lights of all the vehicles trying to negotiate the traffic jams. Can't complain about Korean Air service though. Free bus to the hotel, free accomodation, free dinner and breakfast, free sandwiches back at the airport before boarding and free internet here in the hotel.

I may not have Internet access tomorrow so you may have to wait until Monday for the next thrilling instalment.

26.5.10

Where to start? Murphy not only snuck onto the plane but here in the UK he must have summoned all his British rellies to help make things difficult!

After a long and boring 12 hr flight from Seoul, Heathrow turned on a warm and sunny welcome. That is until immigration where UK passport holders went sailing through while we 'foreigners' shuffled endlessly through the maze of taped lines. It took an hour and then to the carousel to get my heavy
luggage. I eventually found the Underground and asked if all trains went to Southgate. Oh Yes she said. Oh no - should have been the answer, as work on the line meant the train terminated 3 stops before my destination.

They were running shuttle buses so I staggered across the road to wait for the double decker to arrive. I stood all the way clutching the handle of my case to stop it falling over as the bus lurched along. Not only did the case fall but I went with it. Fortunateley no damage done.

Then I tried to ring my cousin who was coming to pick me up. 041 didn't work. Nor did no prefix. The computer battery was flat and I didn't have their address to ring enquires! Eventually I discovered it should be 0041 and then drop the next 0. All was well and they arived very quickly and welcomed me into their home.

I was very tired but woke early as my body clock told me it was 9hrs difference and I should be up and about. I decided to try to install the software for my new internet wireless dongle and fired the computer up for the task. I tried to do a restart but the beast died and wouldn't go again. Just a grey spinning disc every time I tried to boot it. I gave up and decided to wait till I had wheels to take it to an Apple shop.

The rest of the day was great. They took me sightseeing and we walked on Hampstad Heath - or at least near it in lovely sunshine and the shrubs and bushes were beautifiul. At night we went to a nice pub nearby for dinner.

Cousin Barb's husband Steve very kindly offered to come with me next morning and help me through the changes in the tube and we arrived at Fenchurch St station for me to catch the final train to Rainham to pick up my motorhome. It's a beauty and I'll ewrite more about it later. Ther was some delay sorting out inurance and then I rang the Apple shop and made an appointment. It was later than I hoped but I really needed this computer.
Rhodendrons near Hamstead Heath                      



 Instead of the twenty minute quick fix it turned out the hard drive had failed. They managed to fit a new one and save all my data and programmes. Thank goodness. While they did all this I went off and did some shopping at a huge Tesco store. Cutlery, food, a pillow and doona, etc, etc

I had got the new Tom Tom going but it kept coming up with the Vatican! So stupidly I tried to find my way without it! Bad mistake. I went miles out of my way before I stopped and had another go at the Satnav. This time it worked and it brought me here nr East Grinstead in the dark.

Barb and Steve at morning tea in the gardens                   

The 'house' battery was flat so no lights to set up the bed unless I left the ignition on. My torch was dim. The power lead was strange and I couldn't get power and it was cold. With the flat battery the toilet wouldn't flush and I couldn't charge this computer - it's nearly flat as well. Today in daylight I've found the power switch hidden in a cupboard so I've been able to use my coffee machine.

I spent a lovely day with Nicky Nicols at The Caravan Club and she introduced me to so many people and showed me so much of their operations that it was almost information overload. THey have 300 paid staff members and so many facets of customer service. I've finally got the Internet going after a lot of help from their Technical manager, Martin Spencer.

Today will be better I'm certain. I've got my internet working and can comunicate with the world againalthough Skye seems a bit of a problem. Tomorrow I'll go back to Steve and get him to fix the charging - he's not that far from here if you go the right way!.

27.5.10

Today's been a better day although I did wonder this morning as I drove in heavy rain and spray from trucks on the very busy M25 Motorway back to Rainham. You wouldn't believe Murphy's embarassing  trick. Steve turned on the 12volt lights and they worked! And all the other 12v stuff as well after leaving me in darkness for two nights. Don't know why but it's sure better tonight here in Chichester.

I spent the afternoon and evening with cousin David and wife Judy and we  went out to a Tai restaurant for dinner very nice too.


28.5.10

Good mornin' all. The sun's shining on a clear blue sky and I had a good night's sleep - I think my body clock is settling down to UK time.

Today I intend to have a very quiet meander through Southern England and see some of my growing up places.
I'm near Southampton right now.

I'm learning more about this great little Peugeot every day. It's beautifully fitted out and so compact. Setting up the bed is simple now I know how. In the dark first night was a pain.

I'm sitting in a McDonald's car park writing this and my inverter is charging the comp. battery as I type. It was in danger of cutting out at the last Maccas so I've hooked up the inverter to the vehicle battery under the bonnet. The 'house' battery is under the drivers seat and the terminals are inaccessible or I could charge on the move.



I tried Maccas free wifi yesterday but couldn't make it work. It turns out you have to register and now it's OK.
 

I'm settled in at a lovely grassed site at Alderholt and the power's on. There's free wifi so I'll be able to post this now and use Skype in the morning - at the moment everyone in Oz is asleep or should be!


29.5.10

Where to start!

It was raining in the morning but I went for a little nostalga trip - first down to Bickton where I used to have friends I went swimming with in the River Avon. The old mill has gone and units taken its place. I then went on a very narrow and rough country lane to where my 'Breamore Nan' used to live. The house is still there and looks the same outside but the stables and sheds were in disrepair. I knocked on the door and a little old widow lady came. When I told her who I was and that my dad's mother used to live there years ago, she asked me in and we had a lovely chat over coffee. She and her late husband had completely remodelled the inside  and she showed me around.

Then the reunion. It was fantastic! Over forty people showed up - some knew each other and others had never met. Tongues wagged, pictures were studied, cuppas and biscuits were consumed and many photos were taken

Here are just some:


 




Catching up













The Cousins

Michael, Ann, Ruth, Dorothy, Barb, Pam, Nellie and me.
















The lovely cake Ruth organised for the occassion
























Mike and 'Tick' at the cuppa bar







The full group

People came from all over to be there - Birmingham, London, Chichester, Weston-Super-Mare, Clevedon, Norfolk, Cornwall, Bournemouth and of course Australia to name just some.

Cousin Ruth's daughter Sarah did all the organising and did a wonderful job seeking out and finding everyone and planning the whole day.

Pam and Barb and their families were going to a quiz night at the local Fordingbridge church hall so I stayed another night and joined them for another great night. Our team won the wooden spoon!

30.5.10

I forgot to mention that at the end of the reunion yesterday some of us walked up to the local churchyard and found the grave stone of our Grandfather's father.

Today was a good day. After writing up the diary and posting it I got ready for the road in bright sunshine. It had been a happy stay at the Hill Farm Cottage Caravan Site although Murphy tripped the power switch while I was out last night and so no coffee until the 'warden' came to look and showed me what had happened.





The early part of my journey took me through leafy narrow roads through lovely countryside and although slow it was really great.

At Rockboune I took this picture of the thatched cottage where Gran and Grandad Jacobs lived when I was young. Later Tom took me through the large town of Bath and then it was motorway for most of the rest of the trip.

I arrived at my cousin Ruth and husband John's home about 11.30 and after coffee and a chat we set off for yet another family gathering - this time at a local pub where we enjoyed the lovely carvery.

Then all back to Ruth's for a while to watch video of yesterday's reunion and my slideshow. The dvd played up so we had to watch the slideshow on the computer - Murphy again!

I'm sleeping inside here but I can't get used to not having everthing to hand. Everything is so compact in the little Peugeot and I sent my big case back to London with Steve as it was a pain and got in the way.

I rang friend Derek at Brecon last night and he and Barbara are looking forward to seeing me on Thursday. Brecon is in the Welsh mourtains and it should be a very scenic journey.

31.5.10

Today has been great. After a relaxing start to the day Ruth and John took me for a scenic drive to the famous Cheddar Gorge where we had a lovely three-course lunch at a restaurant they knew. I had a faggot for the first time in more than fifty years. I was also rapt in the treacle sponge and custard - bad for me I know but delicious.

Cheddar was very busy as it was a Bank Holiday and people thronged the many little shops and eating places. We tasted cheese in the original cheddar cheese factory where they still produce many sorts of cheeses including the original.

We had some of that cheese for tea with crusty bread!

On the way home we had a look at the pier and seafront - it's not very impressive as it's really the Severn estuary and the water is a bit murky.

Click for page 2 (June)


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