The Blue Lady
Beyond the North Sea with the Blue Lady
We crossed on the Newcastle to Amsterdam service and on pleasant May morning sailed in past the old fortifications at Ijmudinn harbour. Driving through the neat residential streets to join the motorway the traffic was busy and parking to check maps too difficult. When we reached the motorway the driving was fast and furious. Music on the radio would have been a distraction but “The Overture to the Flying Dutchman” or the “Ride of The Valkyries” would have matched the tempo of the traffic. On the E35/A2 changing position at an approaching division on the four lane highway I had my wing mirror bent forward by a car and caravan that overtook us.
CAMPING KINDERVERUGE L’ HIRONDELLE. www.lhirondelle.be
There is always a bit of luck involved when we travel and we tend to navigate from campsite to campsite using our ASCI guide or App. Good as its descriptions were we were surprised by the one at Oteppe on the edge of the Adrennes just south of Hannut in Belgium. We left the N92 and meandered through little country roads until rounding a bend we found the sign for L’Hirondell. It directed us up a steep tree lined hill to aa country park with wide ranging attractions. Three of the four pools were already open and being heated we were able to swim.
The park was large with some eighteen hundred emplacements but we were able to set up in a peaceful spot, parking the Blue Lady in a spacious wooded area near some wooden chalets that looked like giant cuckoo clocks. Just down the grassy slope was a rather grand Chateau with an elegant terrace bar and restaurant.
It was just the beginning of the season but the theme park had much to offer the children with zip wires to whizz along, swings and weird structures for them to clamber through. These included a castle with four turrets and chutes in the shape of strange animals.
I think the most beautiful part of the trip came when we reached Southern Belgium and entered, French speaking, Wallonia. It really was a land of water. In the ‘Valley of the Meuse’ the road followed the river to the picture postcard town of Dinant where you can take a trip on one of the riverboats or ride the cable car up the cliff above the town.
We dipped into France before turning to head for the coast and home. Some how we managed to get lost in bustling city of Lille and swept along in the mêlée of traffic could not find the road to Bruge and Zebrugge. Eventually we spotted a sign for Dunkirk and so heading for the coast we escaped on the A25 We were eventually able to find a small road that led us just over the Belgium border into Adenkerke.
It was a delightful bit of serendipity. Parked amid the trees at Camping Kindervreugne we saw the first British vehicle in our adventure, a lovely old bright orange VW campervan. It was in mint condition and with its tent extension seemed to serve as the ‘mother ship’ for an extended family who eat together at a large table and sleep in tents with their cars moored alongside.
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Eventually we got onto quieter roads. The area was heavily populated but we found an oasis of peace at the campsite at Bos Park in Bilthoven.
We had chosen it using the ACSI camping guide and booked in for a couple of days. The pitches were large and it was pleasant to eat out at the terrace café.
We enjoyed excellent beer as children splashed in the pool or shot up and down on the trampoline, even so, here it was really tranquil. As we strolled around the lake we found that many of the Dutch had new electric cars and it could be quite surprising as they quietly ghosted past you.
We stayed there a a couple of days and then set off wth the rest of Southern Holland, the Ardennes, Nothern France and Belgium in our sights.
It was a good base from which to explore West Vanderland. Once over the dunes, the beach seemed to stretch into infinity and we watched sleek sand yachts speed along while horses trotted at the waters edge.
It had been many years since we had been on this part of the coast and we were surprised to see the scale of development with traditional houses being dwarfed by high rise apartments.
The next day an hours' drive along the coast took us to the port at Zebrugge. As we waited to board the overnight P & O ferry for Hull we switched off the Blue Lady’s fridge, emptied out the ice cream and shared it with a couple of Swiss motorcyclists.
Ahead of us lay home and a Summers meandering. We would travel the quiet roads of Northumberland and picnic in the Scottish Borders.
As a dog is not just for Christmas a Campervan is not just for holidays.