A Campervan Abroad

Beep.  Hummmmmmmm.  Beep.  Hummmmmmmm.  Beep.  Hummmmmmmm.  Beep.

“What’s making that beeping noise? It’s something in the back of the van.”

“It’s something in the ferry terminal, you can hear it when you are outside.”

Beep.  Hummmmmmmm.  Beep.  Hummmmmmmm.  Beep.

“Are you sure, sounds like it is coming from in here.”

“Yes, it’s because the windows are open a bit.”

Beep.  Hummmmmmmm.  Beep.  Hummmmmmmm.  Beep.  Hummmmmmmm.  Beep.

“Goodnight”

“Goodnight”

Beep.  Hummmmmmmm.  Beep.  Hummmmmmmm.  Beep.

We spent the first night of the trip camped in the ticket office car park of the ferry terminal in Dunkerque.  Can you imagine doing that at Dover?  They’re cool about this sort of thing on the Continent.  We spent the first night listening to a beeping noise.

We’d left work, actually more or less when we agreed to, and headed down to Dover for a late evening crossing to Dunkerque.

After that, we didn’t really have a plan.

That’s not strictly true, we did have a sort of a plan, to head for the south of Germany, the Alps, Lake Constance and the Black Forest.  Then the rain came, central Europe suffered severe flooding and that plan floated out of the window.

We had a Bord Atlas, which details motorhome stopovers and campsites across Germany.  We had an ACSI card, which gives discount camping across participating campsites across Europe during the low season.  We had a not very detailed map and some guide books.  And we had a weather forecast, which said it was nice in the north of Germany, so that’s where we headed.  We had a vague thought that we could maybe get as far as Denmark and back in the couple of weeks that we had.

We woke to a beautiful morning in Dunkerque, opened the fridge to get breakfast sorted and opened the map and a guide book.  Except the fridge wasn’t very cold, not the 6c that it was set to.  The beeping.  It was the fridge’s electronics telling us that it is not happy about something.  Better eat all this food then…

Over cereal and slightly warm dairy products we checked the map and the guide books, discussed various plans, checked for Umwelt Zones and asked Mrs TomTom how long it would take to get places.  It was decided.

First stop: Xanten.

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A Game of Chance

chance  [chans, chahns] noun

  1. the absence of any cause of events that can be predicted, understood, or controlled: often personified or treated as a positive agency: Chance governs all.
  2. luck or fortune: a game of chance.
  3. a possibility or probability of anything happening: a fifty-percent chance of success.
  4. an opportune or favorable time; opportunity: Now is your chance.

Another Thursday, another fantastic weather forecast for the weekend.

It’s one of the joys of campervan ownership, being able to just go at the drop of the hat.  Keep the van ready to roll, just add those last minute essentials and off you head, into the sunset.

The biggest problem is where to go?  It’s a problem in a good way though, with so many interesting and different alternatives within easy reach, it might as well be a roll of the dice to decide.  A name out of a hat.  A game of chance.

A friend at work has a picture of the most gorgeous beach on his monitor.  Some time ago I asked about it.  It’s near his native Swansea, a place called Three Cliffs Bay, on the Gower Peninsular.  That image had been filed away in my head for future reference, for a weekend where the sun was shining and the sea was warm.  For a weekend much like the one the weather forecast was predicting.  The dice had been rolled, although they may well have been loaded in this game.  We finished up at work on Friday night and headed west.

We arrived early at Oxwich Bay and parked up alongside the beach and next to another Westfalia California.  Well, you have to, don’t you?  It would be rude not to.  On an 03 plate, it was one of the last Westfalia Californias, the other end of the T4 production timeline to ours, one of the earliest.  We said hello to Patrick and Tash and discovered they were having problems with their pop top roof, one of the gas struts had been forced off by an errant child’s toy when the roof had been lowered that morning.  With some bodging, tinkering and a little brute force we managed to get the roof back together.

Patrick asked where we were staying.  Not sure, we replied.  We spent last night in a service station and we’ll look for a campsite later.

The campsite gamble is another fun game of chance that can be played, although the odds are stacked heavily against you during the school holidays.  Just head off somewhere, find a campsite near where you end up.  There were several marked on the map and a few more in our books.

He recommended a little farm site just up the road that they were staying at and left us with the phone number.  It turned out to be a fantastic spot to camp and despite the gorgeous weather, only two of us there, the two Californias in a field overlooking a small valley.

That’s another nice thing about campervans.  Chance encounters where people talk to each other, share information, help out with problems where they can.

We spent the day walking the beach, paddling in the sea and flying kites in the light breeze.  Hermit crabs scrabbled around in the ebbing sea as Rosana tried to collect uninhabited shells.   A light mist gave the beach an eerie feel early on, but the hot sun soon burnt that off.  As the tide turned we headed back towards the van and the ice cream kiosk.

For Sunday we headed for Three Cliffs Bay, the photo that had inspired the weekend.  We walked in through the dunes to be greeted by the most unusual of sights, cows sunning themselves on the sandy beach.  There’s something you don’t see everyday.  More paddling in the sea was followed by a walk up to the clifftops and then along to the remains of a castle.

A fantastic weekend, we met some lovely people and stayed on a great little campsite.

Lady luck had dealt us a winning hand.