Archive for May, 2010

Spain

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Our first day in Spain and somehow it is raining. We stopped in San Sebastien to try out some pintxos their version of tapas.

The bar we picked had the F1 on, no problemo, but the table in front of us had a group of guys watching it. Like blokes anywhere enjoying some sport only difference was they couldn’t resist exposing their crotches as widely as possible in our direction. Not the best lunchtime view.

Our Spanish is non existent and I had to point and recite numbers at the waitress and then take out my wallet to show I wanted to pay. Number one priority, learn Spanish to stop looking like an English idiot and give my finger pointing a rest.

Le Lac

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A lazy day or maybe only in so far as we didn’t go anywhere. We played tennis, went for a long walk to explore the forest which is infested with loads of bird life: eagles, chaffinches, swallows etc and then flew David’s new kite. It almost lifts you up into the stratosphere. We decided to stop fooling around when a storm appeared, yippee rain on a tin roof again.

Happy stag do Troy, David is missing you and all the fun and games.

Bordeaux wines and tantrums

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Another long day of driving, about 6 hours this time took us to South of Bordeaux alongside a wonderful Lake and bordered by Europe’s oldest manmade forest.

The Aire has a charge of EUR7 per night but well worth it as it borders Le Lac. We unhooked our bikes and set off for the local supermarket to test out some Bordeaux wine with our supper. Halfway there I was sure something was wrong with my front tyre, three quarters of the way there I was certain and when I stopped and discovered a massive bulge where it shouldn’t be I threw a hissy fit and sent David off by himself. Once wine was poured and dinner made I was a much happier girly.

Calais to Tours

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After an unevenful ferry crossing from Dover to Calais we have settled into driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. It only takes a couple of near misses to get used to doing things the ‘right’ way round and now we are religious about checking our blindspot. We were apprehensive about driving a RHD in Europe but it is surprisingly easy although having a passenger helps when you pull out and to deal with ticket booths.

We spent the day driving and driving, trying to get to Spain as quickly as possible for the wedding. We covered an impressive 500km, that’s impressive as we are now in a 10 year old transit with almost 3.5 tonnes behind it.

Our first night was in an aire, a free camp site for motorhomes. This had a lovely setting by a park. David went for a little wander and followed a path into some woodland only to discover little treats littering the ground! Clearly some campers don’t have an onboard loo.

Aires are wonderful stop overs for people on a budget:

Our new home

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At long last we have picked up our campervan! It didn’t take me long to break it, just over an hour, actually. There’s a little area in the dashboard for stashing things like wallets and phones. I put my mobile phone into it and, to my horror, heard an unsettling “clonk” as it fell down behind the dashboard. Minutes later it started to ring – a work call of all things.

So, our first night staying at a campsite was spent dismantling the dashboard to get at my phone. I had already planned to switch the van’s cheap radio with the swish memory-stick compatible one from my car so took advantage of the opportunity to do that – if you can call having the front of your car in bits an opportunity 😉

Tomorrow I’m expecting to pick up a wide angle lens (Sigma 10-20mm) lens for my D90 and will take some photos of “Karmenn” (that’s what we’re calling the van). So far we’re very happy with her, bar the minor inconvenience of a little phone gobbling she is in many ways far more luxurious than the cramped cottage we stayed in yesterday. At least we don’t have to stand on tippy toes to do the washing up …

Norfolk Recipes

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There is an abundance of wonderful, fresh ingredients in Norfolk. We have tried fresh fish, seafood and in season right now asparagus. Here are a couple of recipes that I made, I haven’t included amounts as I am very much a guesstimate cook.

Asparagus Soup


The local farm shop in Wiveton, Norfolk was selling the offcuts of asparagus spears specifically for making soup.

Ingredients:

  • Bag of asparagus spears roughly chopped
  • Leek
  • Garlic
  • Vegetable stock
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning

Roast the asparagus spears with olive oil and seasoning in a 200 oven for 10 minutes, this gives a smoky flavour to the soup.

Meanwhile heat some butter and a glug of olive oil in a big pot. Soften the leek and garlic then add roasted asparagus. Add enough stock to cover. Bring to boil and simmer for another 10 minutes. Once done use blender or hand tool to liquidize till smooth. Serve immediately with crusty bread. You can also have it cold on a hot day with a squeeze of lemon.

Haddock with Pesto Topping

Ingredients:

  • Haddock fillet
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Garlic
  • Pesto
  • Lemon juice

Rub the haddock fillet with garlic. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over fillet. Mix together breadcrumbs, crushed garlic and a spoon of pesto in a small bowl. Add some lemon juice and seasoning to taste. Cover the haddock fillets with mixture. Cook in a 200 oven for 10-15 minutes until fish flakes. If you like a crispy topping finish off under a hot grill for a couple of minutes. Serve with roasted asparagus and small vine tomatoes.

Blakeney

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We are hiring a cottage on the Norfolk coast in the quaint village of Blakeney. It is an ideal base to get some work done on our blogs whilst we wait for our mobile home to be serviced.

Norfolk is an area I have not spent a lot of time in, I am glad we have had the opportunity to discover more about it. It has an abundance of wild life and breathtaking views of the broads and countryside.

We have taken our dog for loads of walks locally and have been trying out the local produce.

David has been making good use of his camera, you can see more of our photos if you click on the image below:

Buying a Campervan/Motorhome

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We are looking for a campervan in the £15 – 20k range.  Man they are hard to come by.  The market tends to focus on the 25K+ or under 10k.

Before starting our search I found a couple of very useful books that I would recommend if you are a first time buyer:

Motorhomes the Complete Guide:

Go Motorhoming Europe:

We are looking at the state of the vehicle and the home layout.  A lot of first time buyers change their motorhome within 12 months because the layout bugs them with everyday use.  As we will be living out of ours it is vital to get this right.  The most important elements for us are:

  1. Work space, making sure it is easy to use laptops
  2. A fixed sleeping area
  3. Space for our dog
  4. Lots of storage
  5. Bike rack
  6. Oven and grill

We have decided to drive to dealers to see a large selection of vehicles.  However after visiting 3 dealers within the South East and only seeing 5 vehicles in our price range we have trekked up to Cambridgeshire to look at a bigger dealer.

We found our new home!  It is a Ford Transit Karmann conversion.  It has 39k miles on the clock.  There is U shape lounge at rear and a sleeping area over the cab.

The only issue is that we have a 2 week wait for it to be ready. So we are out of our tent and into a cottage rental in Blakeney whilst we wait.

Moving

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It’s moving day! We’re all ready to go and the storage guys haven’t turned up. I hope it doesn’t rain on our boxes sitting out front.

We eventually made it to the storage units and no longer have any possessions except for what we need in the campervan.  The hardest part of the day was closing the front door of our house for the final time. Goodbye Hersham and Surrey thanks for having us to stay.

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