So this is France / by Paul

 Berck Lighthouse

Berck Lighthouse

If you hadn’t guessed already, we’ve left the wonderful British Isles for Europe, so as of last Saturday it’s Bienvenue vers la France!

After a bit of a delayed departure we rocked up at the Channel Tunnel without any booking, or still any real plan, but boarded without any issue and before we knew it we were on the continent and driving on the right side of the road.

We’d already decided to get away from Calais as quickly as the van would go, which isn’t all that quick (especially up hill) and after consulting Google and the European road map decided to head down the coast toward the town of Berck.

Berck, which is just over 50 miles South-West of Calais is a small seaside resort which boasts incredibly large sandy beaches and, at least on last Saturday, night amazing sunsets. Our residence for the weekend was a gravel car park slotted in between a variety of winnebagos with their satellites TVs and on board toilets rivalling our games of shithead (Lara’s currently winning) game of cards and dashing to the nearest bush looking toilet.  A bargain at €5 a night!

Before pitching up at ‘Hotel La Gravel’ we’d driven to a few camping sites and were either turned away by the owner for not having a big enough van or we were put off by the scantily clad old men who were patrolling their patch.

Luckily our next destination proved to be a real find as we made our way inland and Eastward. We had a rough plan after finding what looked like a decent site in the motorhome guide but with most travel scenes, it ends up looking completely different than how the guide describes.

Deciding upon trying to find something different we literally stumbled into the town of Albert and the wonderful campsite of Bellevue. We ended up driving through some small villages which provoked thoughts of those featured in some of the many WWII films and if you’ve seen it ‘The Family’ with Robert De Niro.

Rolling up to Bellevue we were greeted by the manager who declared he could offer showers, electricity, wifi and running water; pure luxury!

  Lara and Claude at Bellevue campsite close to Albert

Lara and Claude at Bellevue campsite close to Albert

We settled down for lunch of salad, tuna and freshly picked chilli peppers from the plant we’re currently growing in the van before heading out on the bikes for a bit of an explore of Albert and a visit to Lidl for some parmesan cheese. How else is Lara going to make her amazing carbonara?!

Today we spent the day in Albert town centre firstly to find Lara plasters for her feet, secondly to visit the Battle of the Somme museum and thirdly to find a pan for the stove after a minor disaster with the other one last night. There’s a really good foldable sauce pan in the passenger side of Lara’s car back in Kent which would be ideal,  also a colander, that’s just FYI.

So as I type Lara is expertly creating our first van carbonara while we both crack into the bottle of Champagne which the lovely people at Salad Creative gave me for a leaving present from the Clipper Race. It also just so happens the bottle is from only an hour away and might be our next destination.

But deciding our next destination is tomorrow mornings decision.

  Lara's excellent carbonara

Lara's excellent carbonara

I hope you are now happy Richard, a blog entry is finally done!

With this being the first blog from the van I’d thought I’d do a list of things I’ve noticed:

  •  Lara’s brought too many clothes
  • A chilli pepper in the van is great
  • I’m not particularly keen on French winnebago owners
  • Lords of Dogtown is still a great film
  • Lara’s duvet sharing skills are something to be worked on
  • It really is worth investing in a decent camping chair (my back hurts)