The adventure starts here! First stop, Legoland.
The further we were getting away from where we lived, the lighter I was feeling, it has been so much tougher than I thought, getting away, I was beginning to feel claustrophobic and Bournemouth wasn’t letting us go without a fight.
On doing a little research, it seems a few people had been allowed to stay in the Legoland staff car park in their campers the night before entering the site. On enquiring at the Legoland hotel (wow by the way) we were also allowed to stay in the car park, bargain.
Legoland is absolutely amazing. I might be middle aged but the Star Wars Lego section really is impressive, there are whole scenes from the films made up out of Lego, amazing. Tom (Youngest son) wanted to go on the Pirate ship so that’s what we went first, Rooster (middle son) wanted to go on the submarine but we didn’t make that one, the queue was just too long.
After a full on day of madness and queueing we made our way to Folkestone, via central London!!! Don’t ask.
|He still wont admit to having a good time!|
|Lego boating, not exactly speed boats, but The Rooster enjoyed ramming his Mum & Tom|
|My beautiful Tom|
|Who's the fairest of them all?|
A bit more research on the internet and we find a great place to wild camp before going for the tunnel. We stay at a place called ‘The Leas’, a very nice area overlooking the sea with lots of huge Edwardian buildings and old fashioned street lights with a long stretch of paths and lawns. There are cafes and a theatre and a very fancy band stand.
One hotel called ‘The Grand’ had been visited by Yoko Ono and is now a symbol of peace. It even has a stone on one of the lawns saying this, as well as having a spot light on the roof constantly spelling Earth Peace in morse code. A little bizarre but a nice gesture I guess.
|I wonder if 'Riff-Raff'' meant unemployed people living in vans?|
Rooster is still having some difficulty getting into the swing of things. Rooster did not want to leave home and is very vocal about it, a bit too vocal really. Rooster will always voice his opinions and let us all know how miserable he is. We knew it would be difficult for him as he finds any kind of change difficult, he even struggles in different company than just his immediate family. This usually comes out with inappropriate humour and melt downs ranging from feet stamping and muttering under his breath to full on mood swings and arguments, which end up with him storming to his room and talking to himself about how much he hates the person who has just upset him, usually me. Although some of his behaviour can grate on me, I am enjoying spending all this time with him. We are having some very positive talks, and even though he doesn't agree with a lot of what is being said, I feel some of what is said is getting in.
And through the tunnel we go
And off to France we go! After a thousand conversations and even more goodbyes, we are finally on the train going under the water. This is very exciting for Tom who is struggling to get his head around the fact there is a tunnel under the sea and we are now in it. He is a bit disappointed though that we can’t see under the water like you can in the Oceanarium.
|On to the 'Big train' we go|
First things first, we need to get some food so visit a ‘supermarche’, This freaks Rooster out for a while, he struggled with the fact that everything wasn’t written in English and every one speaks French, strangely enough. The way he deals with this is to blame the French for being from a different country, they should all speak English!
We decide to go to Berck as a first point of call. We have a book which tells us where all the aires are in Europe, this combined with a map of Europe I downloaded onto the Sat Nav should mean that navigating around should be pretty stress free. You don’t get post codes in Europe to put in the Sat Nav, and the book we have has coordinates for each aire. This is turning out to be a bit of a nightmare though, we keep putting the coordinates in but the Sat Nav is telling us to go all over the place.
God bless the internet, a little more research and we find out that there are three different ways of writing down coordinates, who knew? And why for God’s sake? After figuring this out the Sat Nav took us straight to the aire, perfect. It has been raining all day and is now dark, so we just park up and Beth makes dinner while me and the boys go for a quick explore.
The following morning is gorgeous and we realise we are parked pretty much on the beach, so we go for a bike ride across the promenade to explore Berck some more. As we get on the beach we notice a large gathering of people looking at something, so we join them to find a group of seals just lazing around, Tom wanted to stroke one (as he does every animal we ever pass) but we decide it’s best not to this time. After watching the seals for a while we ride some more and find a chip van. As Rooster is hungry, we say he can have some chips if he orders them……………in French. Bless him he does, and we eat our first real French fries on a French beach, this is more like it.
|Our first ever aire!|
The next day we head off to Rouen. Beth’s Great Granddad is buried in one of the war graves and she wants to visit him, so we look for an aire close to it and put in the coordinates, easy peasy, japanesy.
|Mr William Carter|
|William's final resting place. A lot of the men here were the same age as my eldest son. Very, very sad.|
A couple of hours of driving through the most beautiful French country and hugging the river Seine we find an amazing aire. It looks like some kind of summer camp with climbing walls and BMX tracks, a basketball court, camp areas, kayaking, tennis and swimming areas in the river. The kayaking is closed for the winter but to Tom’s great pleasure the bike tracks are open, and for Rooster the climbing walls are part of the open park too.
The day is burning hot so we decide to stay for a couple more and just let the lads play without moving anywhere. That night Beth cooks a roast and we opened a bottle of bubbly we were saving for a special occasion, happy days.
|A roast and a bottle of bubbly, happy days!|
|Climb any mountain|
We’ve started to watch David Attenborough’s ‘Frozen Planet’ in the evenings; I’ve downloaded loads for us to watch on a hard drive which plugs directly into the TV. That night as we are watching the penguins escape from a hungry seal I think I hear someone outside. I think nothing of this as we are the only people in the car park overnight and it’s locked up between 22.00 & 07.00. Then, it happens again, I definitely feel something on the van. I forget the advice from our friend back in the UK campsite about having a ‘piece of wood’ and grab my Maglite torch which is over a foot long and swing the side door open. I don’t know why but I thought someone was trying to hook up to the van and tow us away. My heart pounding, I turn on the torch only to find a ginger cat jump in the van, she nearly gave me a bloody heart attack! This is great amusement for the kids, the cat is very friendly and cute and not at all the van stealer I imagined her to be, talk about paranoid!!
|Beth, the boys and our new ginger friend|
Tom the stunt man
The next day is burning again and the lads are up and off to play, I have a couple of bits to do in the van, fit light switches (I’m currently pulling fuses out to turn them off) and I need to fit an inverter too, so it is good not to have them running in and out. There are some French kids around so Rooster and Tom are in their element and playing on the BMX track with them. All is going well, I am cracking on with the light switches, confident I would get the inverter done too. Rooster comes back for a drink and ends up playing with ginger cat for a while, then one of the French kids comes round and says Tom has fallen off his bike. Beth went to fetch him and brought back a train wreck, bless him he had fallen flat on his face, his chin was cut he had a fat lip, he bruised his forehead and we thought he broke his tooth too, he was proper messed up………..for about half an hour, after a little cry and cuddle with his Mum he was up and off again, he is such a stunt man.