The Return…

Let’s just start by saying that Hamburg looked a nightmare traffic wise, so being sensible folks we parked up just north of the city and decided to wait out rush hour. We fed the hounds and ourselves before heading off south towards the Elbe tunnel and the myriad roadworks plaguing Hamburg. Phew, we have made it through trouble-free! Onwards it is then, forest park up for the night.

A soggy morning walk in a forest outside Hamburg.

We had torrential rain during the night and unfortunately had a proper soaking the following morning, Hank was strewn with wet gear, both of the doggy and human kind.

We pushed on hoping for better weather further south and a drier end to the day. At last the sun came out and we are headed to Gronau a lake side park up deep in Munsterland, Germany. It’s been a big day of driving, Hank is not the quickest vehicle on the planet but slow and steady wins the race!!

Gronau, the girls are confused, are we in Germany or the Netherlands?
Hank in chilling mode!!!

More walks around the beautiful lake and a long chat with a lovely German lady who had two fuzzy dogs and fussed over our girls.

Tilly and Belle have had a really mixed response throughout the whole trip, in Denmark they seemed an oddity, most people had never seen greyhounds or lurchers and overall they had a great deal of fuss and compliments.

Tilly lapping up some fuss from a coach load of Swedish tourists.

They have behaved impeccably and have been real ambassadors for their breeds.

Following on from our lovely lakeside overnighter in Germany, it was a really hot morning so we packed up and headed south again. Hank unfortunately isn’t the coolest vehicle to drive, his ventilation is pretty crude, windows wide open= air and being blown away or window closed= blazing heat as we are basically sitting on top of a huge diesel engine!!!

We often travel with the side screens closed to keep the sun off the girls or even with our makeshift roof screen. It helps for a couple of hours but we then have to stop to let everyone cool down, Classic Hymers ehh!

Another wild camp spot by a cool old bridge.

We stopped in Hamme, Belgium the next night after another big drive in the continental heat. It was a lovely spot with great town services like supermarkets, bakery and fuel, everything you need really!

Riverside walk in Hamme.

Late that day it all kicked off weather wise, we had an almighty thunderstorm, Tilly was cowering in Hank shaking like a leaf but Belle scored her way through it, Lurchers eh?! It lasted for hours and rained so much we had to move Hank as we discovered at about 11 pm that we were sitting in a foot deep puddle, time to park the other side of the car park!!

It poured down all night with the rain and thunder pounding our little van, by morning all was well in the world with sunny skies and early morning dog walks, vanlife don’t you just love it…

France beckons once more for our last few days but first we head to Passendale, a Belgium village famous unfortunately for its massive First World War graves at Tyne cot cemetery. It was the first one we had ever visited and Claire’s Great Grandfather fought there, survived and came home back to Wales, one of the lucky few!

It was a hugely emotional place, very upsetting listening to the audio of the roll call of the dead and how young most were!

It made me personally wonder why my fellow British citizens would vote to leave our European neighbours when so many across our nations fought and died to rid our continent of a scourge that seems to be creeping back in through hate, division, greed and racism. Enough surely!!

A lunch stop outside Ypres and an overnight aire stop in a little French town brings us to our last 2 days.

We crammed a lot in, a vet visit, a visit to a lovely Flemish hillside town, Cassel and a super overnight in Esquelbecq, a very pretty French town with a lovely chateau and a busy friterie!

Cassel.
Panoramic views from Cassel, despite the showers.
Cassel main square.
Esquelbecq.
Esquelbecq square.
Esquelbecq hounds.

Our final day, that’s always a crap prospect, but we are determined to enjoy it and have a nice last night before getting on Tunnel sous le Manche and the long drive to South Wales. We stop overnight at Gravelines, a town just up the coast from Calais. It was very pleasant and reasonably fitting last night in France.

Morning breaks and it’s time for the off, the tunnel calls and were on our way!!

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