What have the Romans ever done for us?

With Mrs TomTom set for Xanten we hightailed it out of France and across Belgium and the Netherlands under a scorching sun.  As we crossed our final border and into Germany we consulted the Bord Atlas for the closest camping place to Xanten.  It showed a campsite conveniently placed on the outskirts of town and as we approached friendly little motorhome symbols guided us into the stopover.

It was a simple campsite and within easy walking distance of the town centre, just a field full of motorhomes and camper vans, some basic services and a simple but clean bathroom.  Absolutely perfect for what we wanted.  We paid our €10, ordered some fresh bread for the morning and took a gentle stroll into town in the last of the evening sunshine.

Xanten is an old and picturesque town, with a cobbled and pedestrianised centre.  When you think of Germany, do you think of the Romans?  It’s probably unlikely, but Xanten makes a big noise about it’s Roman past.

We spent much of the next day wandering around the vast open air Roman museum, complete with a fake colosseum.  That didn’t stop us pretending to be gladiators.  The original colosseum would have been situated several miles away, but this was a good effort to reconstruct one.  In fact, there is quite a lot of reconstruction in the museum but don’t let that put you off, it is stil a lovely day out.

By mid afternoon we had pretty much overloaded on the history of the Romans in the area and headed off for a bike ride around the nearby lake.  Xanten also boasts a working windmill, which is still producing flour to this day.  On the way back to the campsite we stocked up on wind milled flour and, if you’ll allow us to jump a couple of weeks into the future for a few words, made some fantastic bread with it when we returned home.

After a busy day of history, exercise and home economics, we were knackered.  We decided to stay another night at the campsite rather than move on.  Given the low cost of the camping and the location, we strolled back into town for dinner, which given the time of year, mostly consisted of Spargel.

Fridge Status:  Staying vaguely cool when set to -8c, with occasional bouts of beeping.  Not sure it can be trusted.


The A-Team Approach

Yes, yes, we really should be working on getting the blog updated with travel tales from Germany, squirrel tails from the Isle of Wight and lizard tails from the New Forest, but…

She passed.

It’s a nervous time of year, a nervous hour in the customer waiting room while drinking vending machine coffee.  An hour and a half before I had been frantically wondering why the fog lamp wasn’t working.  But there is was, a freshly printed MOT certificate in my somewhat grubby hand.  The guy at the testing station seemed surprised that I was surprised.  So, err… no problem with the smoke test?  Nope, through first time.  Wow.  Not bad for a van with a terminally ill fuel pump.

We needed to celebrate!  How do you best celebrate your camper van passing it’s health check?  There is only one way really, a road trip.

Of course, it’s peak season here in the UK, school holidays.  So some level of planning seemed prudent.  Some kind of plan needed to be devised.  At 3.30pm on a Friday afternoon.

A quick search on pitchup.com found a selection of campsites with availability.  One was in King’s Lynn.  We’d never been there, so after a quick google found there was an interesting looking castle nearby (Castle Rising).  The beaches looked okay and the weather forecast was alright.  More googling and we found there was an airshow taking place at the Shuttleworth Collection on Sunday, about half way back, so that was that.  A few clicks and we had ourselves a pretty good plan.   An old fashioned phone call later and Dan’s parents were coming along to the airshow as well.

Someone fictional once said, “I love it when a plan comes together”.  They weren’t wrong.