..................and The Chef was back in time for her granddaughter's graduation.

The gifts we recived on the trip - the pebbles from the little Dutch children & the candle from the two German ladies.

MONDAY 22-5-23

We didn't sleep too well last night. This wasn't helped by three kids running riot around the parking area and on a couple of occasions knocking on the walls of the vehicle as they ran past. This was at about 01:00 I might add. On the final occasion I was partly dressed and ready for them. As they went by I flung the door open, told them to Foxtrot Oscar and followed them using the powerful beam from our hand lantern. Thankfully they did as they were told and we heard no more from them but it's all a bit unsettling. In think in future we'll avoid using those places and look to park up off the motorway instead.

We enjoyed a lovely hot shower this morning before dumping all we had and hitting the road. We only had about one-hundred and fifty miles to travel to Calais and so managed to arrive here at 12:30, just in time for lunch.

We are booked on the 20:20 crossing on Le Shuttle, which is nice and local to Citi Europe as the complex is just over the fence from the car park. The cunning plan once we're back in the UK is to make our way around the M25 to Farnham in Hampshire where we'll find somewhere to park up for the night. Tomorrow morning we'll go and visit Rosina's sister in her nursing home before we make our way home, god-willing, arriving home tomorrow afternoon.

It will be good to get home. This trip hasn't been much of a pleasure at all. One of the reasons is that we left too early in the season and therefore didn't get to enjoy better, warmer weather. This was because we needed to either, complete the trip before the end of the month so that Rosina could be present on the day her eldest granddaughter, as a mature student, attends her university degree presentation in Ely Cathedral, or take more time over the trip and for the Chef to fly back to the UK for the ceremony and then fly back again to rejoin me. Needless to say, we've ended up doing the former.

At least the seven or so weeks we've been away have been a welcomed respite from Broken Britain. What a mess our politicians and The Establishment have made of our country. If I were I young man with a good qualification in something I would most definitely emigrate. But at our time of life we're stuck with it, unless we went to live in sunny Spain or something, and I really don't think The Chef would want to do that.

As for the blog, I shall remove the https:// at the start of the website address in a couple of weeks, this was obviously added when he blog was migrated from to, with all the grief that incurred. I believe that prefix gives the site more security when exchanging messages with 'customers', but I quite deliberately don't have the blog set up for two-way communication. This is to avoid my getting bogged down with messages from visitors, or concerning myself with 'likes' and 'dislikes', or worse still having the troll loons ruining the site. For me, visitors are free to choose whether or not they read the pages. If they do, then that is very gratifying given the amount of effort that goes in to producing it some days, or they do not, in which case they don't visit the site again.

During the coming weeks I shall try and tidy the pages up and reduce the gaps between each picture. I will also have to try and put back the small pictures which were included amongst the text on some days. That will be quite time consuming.

Our next trip will be in September and we're staying in the UK. That trip will be the last to appear on the website, our final planned trip will be next spring which will take in Portugal, Spain and a few other locations on the way home. That trip will not appear on the blog. I'm going to be blog-free and devote more attention to my darling travelling companion without who I would not, nor could not undertake such journeys.

We are hoping to go on a motorhome tour of South Africa late next year in which case I'll make diary notes as usual and upload it all when we get home.

In the meantime I hope and pray that the Ukrainian citizens, helped by the West, manage to drive out the Russians from their lands. Not only that, I hope President Vladimir Putin is bought before the courts to face War Crime charges, because without doubt he, and his military leaders have targeted innocent civilians from day one.

Hopefully we'll see you in September. Stay safe and be kind.

SUNDAY 21-5-23

Well that wasn't a bad night's sleep, but then for fifteen euros it needed to be. In order to preserve the fresh water onboard we skipped a shower but expect to enjoy one tomorrow morning.

Once we were scrubbed up I made a point of opening up the grey water valve and watering their grass behind the vehicle.

We were keen to get back on the road and get as many miles under our belt today thus taking the pressure off us tomorrow. Before leaving the site I pulled up near the shop which The Chef popped in to buy a fresh loaf of bread. It wasn't long before she returned with an empty shopping bag announcing she had not bought the bread. When she took the loaf to the till she was to be charged €4.70 (£4.08). She refused to pay that much and walked out on principle since we'd already had to pay out fifteen euros last night. Good for her.

We were on the road at about 09:00 heading home. Today we were on the A2 in Svitzerland passing Lake Lucerne on the way to Basel (I think it's pronounced 'Barl' be then maybe it is basil, as in Basil Fawlty), soon after that we were in France. It felt so different driving on French roads. The pace seems to slow down and there are far fewer 'Jack the Lad' nob racers. The whole pace changed as we crossed the border.

Come about 11:30 we came off the road at a rest area on the E25/A35 near Selestat. The supermarket chain Leclerc had the franchise and it really was a lovely site with lots of outside space. We decided that as we had been lucky enough to be actually driving in the sunshine we'd stop and have an early lunch. The bonus was they offered free Wi-Fi and so I was able to upload yesterday's blog diary notes but only one picture. The upload speed was so slow I gave up.

Then it was back on the road following the new satnav's bidding. I've yet to work out what goes through its mind. The old Snooper (still onboard as a spare) would have sent us the whole way on toll roads, but this one seems to mix and match motorways with cross-country sightseeing, and it's not until you take a closer look at what it did do you realise it all made sense. Trouble is I find it difficult to share the route we took because we were on all sorts of roads, but the only ones we paid for were a fee for a ride through a very long tunnel on the French side and the last few miles having driven across country on a 'red' road to reach this Truckstop on the A26/E17 (N49.445449° E3.928037°) toll road. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to have freebie Wi-Fi, but never mind, we plan to be in Calais by tomorrow lunchtime where we'll make use of the Citi Europe free Wi-Fi in the hope that it's not as slow as the facility at lunchtime today.

There's no doubt about it, our journey today has been very much assisted by the fact that HGV's are banned from the roads on Sundays, though there are some exceptions, presumably if they are transporting perishable goods.

After enjoying my darling Chef's culinary offering I phoned the UK office of Le Shuttle and booked a crossing at 20:20 tomorrow with the intension of finding somewhere to lay our heads tomorrow night before visiting Rosina's sister at her nursing home in Hampshire on the way back to our home on Wednesday.

Parked up for lunch

SATURDAY 20-5-23

We were up at about 07:00 this morning. Even earlier than the gigglers, barking dogs and door-sliders and bangers. I think we were incentivised by the fact we were going home.

It didn't take long to scrub up and prepare the vehicle for the road, and while The Chef popped across to the Lidl store for some bread and fresh milk I went to the dump station. On the way back she popped to Reception to square them up. We had expected to pay twenty-three euros a night but it seems their rates went up to twenty-eight euros a couple of nights ago, so it was a grand total of one-hundred & thirty euros for five nights.

After leaving we popped in to a filling station down the road and topped the tank up. I find it reassuring to know that I'm starting a long journey with a full tank, and that tank should see us through the rest of Italy and across Switzerland.

As expected the journey along the Italian toll road to the outskirts of Milan was a bit hairy. During that leg we saw the aftermath of three road accidents, thankfully all on the opposite carriageway. There were scattered showers and so the roads were wet, but that doesn't seem to stop the Italian stallions from driving like complete nobs.

The satnav took us an interesting way through Milan, which The Chef, having consulted the road atlas, approved of. It seems it took us round Milan avoiding what would have been very congested toll roads and deposited us at the Swiss border our having taken the 'pretty route', and at one point we were only seven miles from the shore of Lake Como.

At the Swiss border which was deserted, we pulled over because we knew we needed a vignette allowing us to use their motorways. In the end we bought one from the filling station next door. They last for the whole calendar year. The one we bought last year to visit Lauterbrunnen was thirty euros, this year's vignette is on sale at forty euros, a thirty percent rise. If you were a very regular visitor to the country it would represent very good value for money, but to just transit the country, the price is a bit steep.

We were making good progress along the A2 motorway and enjoyed the views of Lake Lugano until we hit a traffic jam, and what a jam it was. I don't know how many miles it went on for but it was a lot. When we finally reached the front we found we were being funnelled in to a single lane of traffic so that we could pass through the St Gotthard Tunnel. There are, or will be two tunnels but one was out of action and so it was a single file contra-flow through the one that was open.

It had cost us a huge amount of time, and by then I'd had about enough for the day, and so we pulled in to the next available rest area where we'll spend the night. I think the signs say parking is restricted to four hours but I can't speaky de Swissy. It's between junctions 36 & 37 on the A2, just south of Lake Lucern.

It's been a long day, but despite the traffic jams and cross country route around Milan we have managed to cover one third of the mileage necessary to get us to Calais. Tomorrow I expect us to be out of Switzerland and well in to France.

Shortly before our evening meal I re-parked the vehicle to sit within one parking space but with the back end overhanging the grass verge. It wasn't long afterwards when there was a knock on the door. It was a member of staff asking if we would be sleeping overnight. I said yes we were hoping to. In that case he told us, it would cost fifteen euros as it was private property. I did register my dissatisfaction but we had no option but to pay up as I wasn't prepared to drive any further. We have never in the past been asked to pay for a space overnight.

Unfortunately we have now lost internet connection. Our MiFi with a 3Mobile SIM seems to be sulking. I should have about 2.86Gb of data allowance remaining but maybe it disagrees with me. I will have to try and upload the postings as and when I can using free Wifi hotspots if available.