Trip 3 - Around Southern England and to Belgium

Trip Start Dec 10, 2005
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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Day 73 - Wednesday 26th April 2006 - Malta
The weather since Monday has not been that good as the wind has picked up and it is quite blowy. We have been wanting to go over to the other island Gozo but you have to take a car ferry across and we just don't want to go while the sea is choppy. So most of the day was spent doing internet work for Go Gecko and then we took off to Rabat for some lunch. We then decided to make our way to the famous Blu Grotto which is a rock formation in the shape of a cave and the water is supposed to be a beautiful blue. The roads on the way there were absolutely shocking and Wayne has taken on board the spirit of their driving far too much and we nearly got air born a couple of times. Unfortunately it was way to choppy for the boats to take us out to the caves but the area was quite stunning. We fond a great place for dinner and got talking to the waitress who was Maltese but actually used to live in Melbourne - she was very sad as her husband had died in Australia and she therefore had to come back to Malta (which she hated as they are so poorly paid) which she did not want to do.

Day 74 - Thursday 27th April 2006 - Malta
This morning the wind was terrible again so we could not go to Gozo so we lazed around the hotel for a while. We set of in the afternoon to the top of the Island just to have a look around. We came across the Popeye village which is like a miniature theme park as it is the actual seaside town that they built to film Popeye the Sailor Man. Apparently a lot of films are made in Malta because of the weather and the location. Other films include Troy, parts of Gladiator. We then took off to watch the car ferry that went out to Gozo and the water was not actually too bad but we decided not to risk it. We went back to the same great place for dinner again and then home to pack as we have an early flight.

Day 75 - Friday 28th April 2006 - Malta to England
We were a bit stressed this morning trying to make the airport on time as the traffic was worse than we expect and then the car was running on empty and we could not find a gas station so had to risk getting to the airport. Thankfully we made it to the airport without running out of gas and also got there with heaps of time to spare. We got back to Gatwick to pick up Misty and we stopped at the BP and took her for a bath with the pressure cleaner. Unfortunately, just as Wayne was trying to lock the door for us to go inside to have some lunch the lock dropped down into the window and now the door won't lock. Given we wanted to get the lock fixed we headed to Cambridge where there is a hymer dealer. Driving to Canterbury was stunning as all the fields are green with lots of sheep and lamps. It was a stunning afternoon and warm enough just to wear a T-Shirt. Unfortunately, when we got to Hymer the old English "can't do" attitude got shown and they said they could not possibly look at the van for another 4 weeks. Soooo frustrating !!!. So we took off to find a camping site for the night and ended up in Hawling (just outside of Folkestone) on Black Horse farm which is one of the sites recommended by the Caravan Club. Camping in the UK is not that cheap as it cost 25 pound sterling ($75 AUD) for the night - just for a bit of electricity, water and a shower. Never mind !!!. Gem went out for a walk tonight to check out the site and there were some pretty amazing motor homes around (as well as crappy ones) which were the sizes of buses and had whole sections that electronically moved out from the sides to make more room. Gem got chatting to a guy who proudly had his New Zealand flag flying. His name was Ivan and has been traveling around Europe on and off for the last 15 years. He was in a new Hymer and had every modern con possible and was even dressed in a bow tie !!!! We had a very interesting chat about motor homing and he also indicated he has a web site dedicated to it at www.ivan.co.nz

Day 76 - Saturday 29th April 2006 - Dover to Brighton
We went for a drive to White hills of Dover (which are made of chalk) this afternoon and walked over the top of them and through the National Trust Estate. We sat on top of the green hills and watched the ferry's pull in and out. We had noticed that there we other similar white cliffs in this area such as at Lewes but the ones at Dover are famous because they used to represent to everyone who had been abroad that they had arrived back home to mother England. We then took off along the coastal road to head towards Brighton. We had a great time driving through some of the quaintest little towns and stopped at a couple to try an find some bikes. One town which was particularly cute was the Ancient Town of Rye.
We were getting low on Petrol and I kept asking Wayne to stop and fill up (given his history at home of running out) but he kept saying no it's O.K it's not much further!!! Then all of a sudden the light came on to say we were nearly empty (not good on a diesel engine to run out) so we were praying that we would not run out of fuel. We saw the light when we saw a BP station in the distance and pulled in, only to discover that we had come across the only petrol station where the shop was open but the bousers were being renovated and not working, so we had to keep going. We finally got into Brighton and found another service station. As we were filling up some feral who looked stoned pulled up really close next to Misty so I had to guide Wayne out so he did not hit his car.....however I forgot that as the bum turns it goes wide and we heard an awful screech as we took out the guys side mirror. The place was absolutely packed but we could not get out so we reversed back and waited 5 minutes for the guy come back so we could let him know and work out what to do. However, he came running out and jumped in his car and before I could yell out to him he took off without even noticing that he was minus a mirror!! Misty just got a black scratch on her but that will buff out!!!!
The drive actually took us a bit longer than expected and we arrived in Brighton at about 7.00pm. It is not getting dark here until about 8.00pm now so we went for a walk along the Brighton waterfront and up to the famous Brighton pier where it is custom to have some doughnuts, but because we are actually trying to loose weight while we are over here we resisted and kept on power walking. Brighton here is much much bigger than Brighton at home and it has a very interesting mix of people. Apparently it is one of the gay spots out of the South and there were also lots of ferrals, gothics and uni students as there is two uni's here. We then found a spot to park for the night and finally got a bit of sleep.

Day 77 - Sunday 30th April 2006 - Brighton to Haywards Heath
This morning we were going to go for another walk along Brighton Beach but unfortunately it was raining. So we spent the morning looking through the "Friday Ad" for bikes. We then drove to Hayward's Heath on Scaynes Hill (about 20 minutes out of Brighton in the hills) to catch up with Gordon and Mags (Gordon is someone that Mum met at the bus stop last time she was in France (but he is English) and he tried to help us with the bank account ordeal and is an absolute character!!). They took us out for a great day of site seeing all the little beautiful towns around the area and then up to the cliffs at Beachy Head which is a renowned spot for everyone to jump off the cliffs to commit suicide. We had a great lunch at one of the local pubs and then on to Newhaven where we stopped and went for a walk along the water. As is was Bank Holiday Long Weekend there was a huge carnival on with classic cars, buses, and steam engines, markets and carnival rides. We then drove to Peacehaven as Gordon had some tenants there who were wanting to sell 2 mountain bikes so we stopped in to see them and the bikes were perfect as they were in good condition and not too expensive. Then on the local harbor where Gordon showed us some of the local real estate and got us familiar with prices. We got back to their house at about 8.00pm and had some supper and they invited us to stay for the night. We sat up talking and laughing until about 2.00am. What a great day!!


Day 78 - Monday 1st May 2006 - Lewes to Calais (France)
Well today is Wayne's 35th Birthday!!! (but technically at home it was yesterday). We had some breaky with Gordon and Mags and then headed of towards Lewes to try and catch up with Sarah (my friend Liz's sister who I met at her wedding). Sarah was not home (probably out drinking at the local festivities) so we decided to go and check out Lewes which is famous for it's little brewery called Harvey's which unfortunately was closed. So Wayne headed off to the local pub to try a pint and there was lots of dancing and stuff going on outside. We found a shop called Argo's which is a unique concept to us, it is sort of like a small shop front but has only catalogues with thousands of items and you put in an order and they go and get it for you. We got some good bike helmets at a third of the price they were charging elsewhere and then had a walk through the centre of town. We headed off towards the tunnel and arrived at about 5.30 to see if we could get an earlier ride before 10.30pm when we were scheduled to cross. The place was like an absolute Ghost Town so we were able to cross straight away without being charged any extra. This time we learnt to book online before crossing so we got it at under half price. We drove through Calais and stopped in Gravelines at 8.00pm. The campsite was shut but we were quite happy that we had not paid to go there as we went for a walk through it and it was disgusting. We went for a walk on the beach and had some dinner as we could not find any open restaurants or shopping centres due to the public holiday. So Wayne made a great risotto out of the few items we had and I had my first shower in Misty and it was fantastic - better than the ones in the English homes and Guesthouses we had stayed in with better water pressure. We spent the night playing board games and I let Wayne win because it was his birthday!!!

Day 79 - Tuesday 2nd May 2006 - Gravelines to Brugge

Off early this morning and found a shopping centre in Gravelines. Wayne went berserk with all the great French food and alcohol and bought a heap of stuff. The Moet and Chandon Champagne cost a mere 25 euro compared to about Australian $100 so we got a few bottles for celebrating tonight. We headed along the coastal road through Dunkerque and then to Brugge where we found the campsite pretty easily thanks to NavMan !!. It was a great spot surrounded by lovely forest on one side with bike tracks and an exercise park. We had some lunch, cleaned Misty, fixed the bikes to the right height etc (Wayne tried to fix the lock on the driver's door but we won't talk about that little episode !! except to say we are going to leave it till Germany when Holger (the engineer) may be able to help fix it) and then took off on a bike ride to the local shopping as Wayne wanted to get a few more things for tonight's birthday feast. Well this shopping centre was even bigger and Wayne went nuts - just the alcohol section was as big as the last shopping centre !! We stocked up on heaps of Belgium chocolate and other fine food and then had to get it back on our bikes. Everyone is looking at us weird as we were the only people out of about 300 bike riders we saw that were wearing helmets!!. Everyone gets around by bicycle over here - just at the train station we passed there would have been easily over 10,000 bikes parked. We took off for another great bike ride through the woods and then tonight Wayne cooked up a feast while getting very happy on Leffe beer (apparently the only decent French beer). He cooked up a very gourmet meal and we cracked open the Moet and Chandon and proceeded to get very happy !!. I accidently knocked over the bottle of Moet while getting up to do something and I thought Wayne was going to lick it off the carpet !!! except about 30 minutes later he knocked over my champagne glass and the proceeded to lick it off the table (not quite as bad as the carpet!!!) We the had the most divine chocolate truffle mousse desserts. Gem then rang Cor (in the Nederland's) to let him know when to expect us and had a great chat to him. We had a great night listening to music and watching a DVD.


Day 80 - Wednesday 3rd May 2006 - Brugge /Belgium
What a fantastic day. It started with a gourmet breakfast cooked by Wayne with some of the many delightful foods he had bought. Then we cycled into Brugge and spent the day cycling around the many old streets and squares. It is truly a beautiful place and is renowned for being one of the most unspoilt medievil little towns in Europe. We sampled some of the many gorgeous chocolates from the little chocolate shops and Wayne sampled many of the fantastic Belgium Beers (lucky he did fall of his bike on the ride home as he was rather pissed !!). We cycled back home and spent the evening taste testing some of the many cheeses that Wayne had bought whilst drinking more Moet !!! Aaagghhh this is the life.
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