The ferry took us from one bunch of mountains to another, just across some flat calm water that was actually the North Sea, though here it looked and felt like a huge lake. The coastline here is made up of many deep and long fjords and dozens of inlets with ferry’s and bridges at ten a penny.
The crossing only took about twenty minutes, at the other-side we fuelled up at a garage before setting off again. I nearly drove off without paying much to the amusement of the others as the lady went round each truck questioning who hadn’t paid! Hugh came to me asking if Id paid, “No mate Julie paid, she was in the shop when I fuelled up, I nodded to her as she was buying summat” Julie looked at me “I only paid for these biscuits” she said “Oh shit!” I said. I went back inside full of apology explaining it was my wife’s fault not mine, I laughed she laughed, everyone outside laughed as well probably. With my cock-up sorted we formed up and set forth again, this time instead of heading up the mountains we snook through the gaps and drove up the valleys. Our camp-site was at Andalsnes and just an hour away by now . The weather today had been great again, warm and sunny with some scattered clouds. The woman at the camp site reception desk was heard to say to a newly arrived camper that it had been raining constantly since May hence the huge pitch we had was nice and soft. The routine kicked in again roof tents blossomed instantly as the rest of us put up our real tents, all was sorted presently, we were all in the groove with the swift erections now…
It was a great location snuggled between a couple of huge mountains, it was still warm and dry in-spite of the light grey covering this evening. Cooking tea was done quickly everything was concocted from cans and packets on this trip, we had a mix of curries.. canned veg.. rice powdered mash…some chicken and pork pieces too, these were sealed in plastic cartons and stacked in the fridge, remember those plastic cartons with sealed lids that had the take away meal inside? They are brill for keeping food segregated in the truck fridge.
As I got the tent down from the roof I noticed a couple of English number plates across the way, and began to realise it was actually a huge group of old foggies on tour in a mixture of motor-homes and caravans. One well heeled old boy came over to speak with Scott, our own well heeled chap.. I heard him say something along the lines of “Ive got five of these back home one is for playing in and one is a project” Dont come over to me I thought coz I WILL have six trucks!!! It wasnt long before he went back to his club site after a few minutes without talking to anyone else. They had all got their chairs in a huge circle inside their very British square of gleaming white tin boxes and had a drink or two, it didn’t seem to last long before their retreated back inside caravans or motor-homes, maybe Eastenders or Emmerdale was just about to start? Nobody else ventured over to us but then again none of us ventured over to them either. Richard and Cerys spotted a Welsh dragon and head for it to have a quick natter with its owner. I got the impression we were probably viewed as the lower caste group of penniless.. miss matched.. ill clothed.. scruffy.. shabby.. rag tag bunch of fekkin miss-fits. I may have got it wrong mind. I was just happy they stayed away! I don’t think we cared because it didn’t come up in conversation in our (much) smaller circle that evening.
I wondered over to the reception around 23.00 to get onto the internet and post a quick photo, it was still quite light and sitting on the bench looking at the mountains was lovely, Karen was here looking for the signal as usual! Tonight though she was in text conversation with her lawyer and not just trawling the old Facebook stuff. I wondered back to the camp later and had a few more drinks with Julie before bed. We wouldn’t be packing the tent away in the morning for a change, we would be spending an extra night here as there was a lot to see.
The body click kicked me out of bed early all the same! The weather was warm but still had a smell of wet in the morning air and the grey stuff hung about in whispy strands playing around the tops of the mountains. After we’d eaten breakfast and cleaned up there was time for a nice long shower, once again the facilities were second to none with a big long shower block with cooking and laundry room and toilets at the centre of the site, I don’t think anyone had any gripe with any of the superior facilities throughout the tour especially here in Norway and worthy of the cost!
After breakfast we gathered at Pete’s truck and the day was laid out with the map on the bonnet and the customary “We are here”……He said this every day, depending who was around he’d say it in a German accent..”and Ze Germans are Here”! That always made me chuckle. Today we would see some extraordinary sights we would be riding the stunning Atlantic Road.
We were on the road at 09.30, going through part of Andalsnes town to take a coastal road around the high mountains, hugging the huge fiord on the way.
Great scenery even under the grey stuff
Coming round another bend we saw another cruise liner sitting peacefully in the fjord. It looks quite cold and wet but actually it was warm.
Several small islands played host to thick mini forests
Pretty soon we reached the end of the Langflorden fjord and could turn north towards the port of Kristiansund and our date with some Norwegian fish and chips…..and yes I was prepared, I brought the credit card!
Heading for Kristiansund
Another bridge! Norway has more than its share of bridges and tunnels on account of the many long Fjords and many mountains. One such tunnel even had a roundabout at its epicentre.
Kristiansund is a commercial fishing town and close to the start of now world famous The Atlantic Road so we had a break and ate dinner here. We found a little chippie on the key and took our place behind the line of people. I knew it was going to be a bit expensive but fukc me it was fooking gobsmacking just how much it cost me..
This portion of fish and chips cost £17.50…£2 was for a splash of mayo!! The fish was two scallop sized bits and the chips were a kiddies portion and it tasted just OK, not great but just OK..
Hungry bird….. At £17.50 this fella had no chance!
Both Gulls and pigeons got plenty of fook in spite of their screaming…Note Julie has actually tucked her thumb in just in case…
Kristiansund wasnt a really colourful place, it was more industry than pleasure…and starving birds!
Having filled up on kiddies portions of gold plated £17.50 fish an chips we left Kristiansund in stunned silence!
Pete took us out of town towards the Atlantic road and to another toll booth. Which he paid for. The Atlantic Road is no ordinary road folks its a very special road. I was commenting to friends about a spectacular image on FB months ago when Atlas Overland chipped in saying “Your driving that yourselves when we go!”
This is that very Facebook photo…its not mine I might add!!
It began in1983 and took six years to build. It joined several towns and cities on the coast and saved a huge amount oftime and money travelling between them by hopping from island to island on a series of eight large bridges, skipping across islets, skerries and fjords. This coastline is not a simple one to follow let me tell you! It came under fire to begin with both from the environmentalists and several government departments, saying it wasn’t needed The arguments ranged from affecting the wildlife tp it wouldn’t make enough money to pay for itself despite the proposals to make it a toll road, and the construction would be too difficult and any other negative comments, a lot of folk just didn’t believe in it. Their was a vote in parliament and it got in by just 1 vote. Since being built it has had many great reviews from around the world including car companies who test cars here and use the bridges in their advertisements and is one of the top ten attractions on Norway, it paid for itself five years earlier than expected.
Climbing up The Atlantic Wall, as seen from the seat of a Defender
..and down the other side, note the two stupid Asians jay-walking
Julie photo of us guys coming over the bridge for a group shot
We just had to stay a while to look at it drive over it again and take photos of it! It was a smooth flat calm day and quite busy, on the first crossing it was all I could do to keep my eyes on the road it was just so spectacular, I nearly didn’t see the two brain dead Asian jay-walkers who were just asking to be smeared along the safety barriers, there not being any pedestrian pavement should have given them the hint. We pulled into the small lay bye and clambered up the hill to stare in amazement, just about everyone else was doing..or trying to do the same. The girls got cameras ready as we drove back over turned around and came back slowly as a group. Pete got some good shots for his website, Julie took plenty too. Sadly it was time to move on. Hey! The Atlantic Road… what a ride!!
The long drive back to the camp and an obligatory ferry ride was just as brilliant it must have cost them a lot of money to build but has made the journey times between all these towns a lot shorter in time and miles.
It was still stamped on our minds the next morning as we took down the tent and packed everything away in preparation for drive up to Trondheim and a camp site called Flakk. Pete pointed outon the map where we were and where we were going then we climbed aboard and left the camp-site. I’m afraid we didn’t see much of the old folk from the English camper-vans we didn’t see them last night either save for the solitary one or two who tramped to the shower-block, perhaps they were all indoors watching telly? What a strange carry-on going all that way to watch telly! I hope I don’t get that old!!
We got fuel again before hitting part of yesterdays route going down one side of the water only this time instead of turning north to Kristiansund we carried on east into a huge National Park, but just before that we had a mountain to climb over.
The ocean liner had gone today but there was still plenty to photograph
This made us laugh, a bus stop with grass roof
After an hour or so we began to climb leaving the fjord behind we pointed to the sky and drove on up we went finally before driving into the cloud, the road began to descend again quickly as we crested the rise, slowing down to negotiate the sharp hairpins in these damp conditions the further down we went the drier it got and the grey stuff was left far behind, replaced now by white cloud and some streaks of blue. The mountains seemed to have locked in the grey conditions. We pulled into a roadside restaurant / cafe /supermarket complex for “elevenses” and some basics just a little further up the road, which was unfortunate because it was slap bang in the middle of a huge youth bike race and we were about to descend on their HQ, unfortunate for some too because we got in the way of the parents with their camera. The start/ finish line was at the entrance and I think we spoilt some photos, sorry guys!
I stayed behind to clean the windscreen so’s we can take photos through it without the inclusion of splattered bugs in the photos. Julie had bought the coffee’s and a nice sticky bun by the time I got inside. They had some superb outdoor photos on the walls of the national Park and some of the activities they provided. After coffee I went back outside to see what the bike crowd were doing and of course to take in the fantastic views of the mountains, I was the only one out of the dozens of folk actually looking up, all the rest were looking down the road!
Eventually our group finished up and wondered into the mini market and read the info of the area, a lot was translated into English, I picked up one of their free travel magazines.
Heading for the flag
Geordie Pete feeling good!
This would look good on the web-page of “Keep the Defender Alive”
Jo and Pete check out if its left or right out of here!
We pulled out of the car park and got out of the way of the biking event as quickly as we could.
Heading for the hills
The parents stood back and we got on with our day, a few miles up the road we made a right turn careful to drive wide of the few cyclists we came across on their road race eventually we were clear of them and concentrated on the magnificent views a bit more.
Naturally Norway… Fjords and snow capped mountains.
The road hugged the side of the lake as we made our way up the valley. It was Julies turn at the wheel again as I got busy with the camera and began to hang further and further out of the window. Id asked the two 110’s to get behind me for some photos..
Two Defender 110’s on our tail. The blue tinge is because we drive under the sun shielded by the rocky outcrop and the mountains to our left. This photos eventually got into “Keep the Defenderes alive”
Shadows to our left…This to our right…. Breathtaking…
Pretty is a word Id use, stunning and staggering are a few more Id use to describe the next few miles, and this was before we got to the next off road track. The waterfalls were cascading from such a height that in places one couldn’t see the start as it disappeared into the clouds.
Norway. A country full of waterfalls.
Sometimes we had to stop and either lean out of the window or get out of the truck to see the full glory of these magnificent waterfalls, until the they were covered by the clouds that is, the more into the park we drove the cloudier it got for quite a distance.
The cost of this passage was worth every Krona
It was a gravel track to our left that cut into the bush that we took, a hundred feet further on was the automatic cash barrier machine, it was a 100 Krona for everything except the motorbikes which rode on it for free. Not only unsuitable for buses or caravans it was impossible, some of the hairpins where quite rutted and very steep it that they just wouldn’t have made it.
Atlas Overland lead the way!
Julie follows bringing Hugh and Richard with her.
Julie wait for me as the one of our 110’s squeeze bye
Whilst Pete was sorting the tolls out I walked up the trail looking for a good spot for a couple of photos. It was heavy with vegetation so a good long open back drop wasn’t available to me by the time I heard the engines roaring towards me. So I stood and took the photos as they came up through the woods. We would be climbing for quite a while, the next photo is about twenty minutes into our accent. Julie was getting to grips with the truck and the track, at these lower levels it was pretty easy but nearer the top it became steep and narrow and with sharper hairpins, the engine nor Julie never missed a beat our truck gripped and scrabbled at the shale pulling itself along with ease, riding over the rain troughs with ease.
Julie drives up the lower slopes.
Looking back down the valley to the river from the lower slopes
Another half an hour of climbing looking back down the same valley. Only now we are much higher, nearly to the base of the clouds in fact, once into the cloud it turned damp and cold until we broke through into bright sunshine again. Can you see the white lines making their way down the mountains? They are they waterfalls whose tops are shrouded by the clouds.
Nearly level with the clouds and finally near the tops of the waterfalls
Breaking out at the top of the clouds felt surreal. We were climbing up steeply on a shale track covered with bush and small trees climbing up the side of the mountain with its brother mountain across the way, when we came out of the cloud, it was flat tree-less and massive! Where we now in Canada?
Compared to the last couple of tracks this one hadn’t been used half as much, there were no sign of other people or vehicles it was great!
The valley and the cloud was way behind us now!
We just had ourselves for company for the next couple of hours.
We were now on top of the very mountains we were earlier craning our necks to look up at and so not very much was above us now. We drove across this rocky and barren plateau with ease there was heather and some grasses but no trees or shrubs so I think we were around 3000 metres above sea level, once over the initial summit we began to drop down again and soon came across water this huge lake had holiday home dotted around the shoreline, one or two vehicles were spotted parked up in scrapes. It looked liked the buildings had been erected between the boulders and the parking for the vehicles had been scratched out of the moss and stuff, none were very flat and the wilderness theme still outweighed the civilisation, we still had not seen any people yet, in fact we hadn’t seen anyone since coffee at the bike race HQ about four hours ago. We past through a couple of these small hamlets before we found a place large enough to pull over and have lunch. Its a good job we carried everything we needed because although some dwellings were here there wasn’t a shop or a person or anything like that. Like us the owners would have to bring everything with them when they came here to holiday
The Jackson boys pose with me on the truck
Julie is ready to do battle with the midges over lunch
Because we were near the water there was some greenery so parking up here offered the chance to “go to the toilet” with a degree of privacy! Coffee was made and sandwiches prepared to go with the banana or apple or whatever took our fancy. I could imagine myself spending a couple of weeks in one of these fancy sheds, no clutter no people no rules. it would make a nice welcome breather.. Living where we do back home offers the same charm but the views aren’t quite the same and we cheat coz we do have electricity.
I swapped vehicles now and rode with Lee and the kids in the 110 to get some photos of Julie driving our truck. Claire went with Julie and off we went again. We did seem to be on a slow descent again and began to head towards more water. At the water I got out of the truck to take some photos of everyone and the nice back drop, I climbed over the rocks and lost my footing I fell down but had the camera held high so all was well, I just had a scrape on the palm of my free hand.
Pete and Jo head towards another lake
Hugh and his old 90..with a few more dents adding more character.. Hugh left the road earlier and bounced over a ditch denting one of his rock-sliders..this is a bar that runs along the side of the body between front and rear wheel on both side and protects as truck bounces or slides of rocks and boulders, hence the name rock-sliders
Deane’s newer modern Land Rover Discovery 3
The silver Land Rover Defender 110 with Moira and Pete come next
Land Rover Discovery 2 with Richard and Cerys
Scott’s Land Rover Discovery 2…By the time you read this he should be in Singapore on a 2 year work secondment and his Disco should be tucked away in storage….see you in 2 yrs!
In other words please dont pee in the river!
Down down and further down we went
Ladies and gentlemen we are about to start our descent please fasten your safety belts! Having crossed the plateau and gone around the lakes we were about to depart Narnia and re-join the human race somewhere down there!
Today was fantastic up here in the heavens and on top of the world. I would have gladly made camp and stayed here for two weeks but I think Julie might have had summat to say about that! We slowly and carefully began to descend, the road was clear but was still made of shale so going slow was essential, and besides there was still some fantastic view to take in!
Looking across and down from my seat in Lee’s 110
Down down deeper and down as the song goes! Hanging as far out as I could one last time I look back and capture the ladies in MY truck enjoying themselves on the downward bit, my ribs where getting a bit sore by now as I rested my body on the bottom of the open window and I had both hands on the camera. I kept glancing back and forth in case something came up the road, I didn’t want to scare the hell out of them nor did I fancy getting smeared along the side of the truck.
We had a two hour run once back on the ground…I mean back at sea level! We would by-pass the city of Trondheim to get to the camp site at Flakk. The speed limit was strictly adhered to by everyone, it was as though they knew the police was just around the corner but no, everyone seemed to just stick at 50 mph. even a group of bikers sat at 50 right at the back and didn’t try move up through the long line of traffic as I / we used to do. It seemed severe to me I have to say but hey what do I know Im just a visitor?
We soon cam to the camp and as usual Pete got us booked in as quickly as he could whilst we waited in line in the trucks outside. Julie yelped as she twisted her ankle getting back into the truck, she had slipped on the edge of the tarmac with all her weight, It sounded painful as she fell to the ground. I helped her up after checking she was able to, Julie is made of strong stuff after all she lives and breathes horses and takes a lot of punishment around the buggers without complaint so for her to yelp at this stumble, then it must have really hurt. Pete came to the rescue with an ice pack and we checked that it wasnt any more serious. One thing Julie hates and that’s being fussed over! so folk were shushed ayay with a “Thanks but Im OK”Whilst I put the tent up folk came over and offered her a drink or three, Julie made light of it and took the drinks. I had the tent and everything up in short time, we had a quick dinner again of something simple but filling then later gathered in our circle of chairs and enjoyed the rest of the evening, including some more tomfoolery with hot marshmallows I was relieved and thankful it was a just bad sprain and not a broken ankle. Julie might not be driving for a couple of weeks or doing any running or leaping about but at least she could still enjoy the adventure.
Pete and Moira and their 110 with roof tent
Julie, sprained foot elevated and drinks lined up on the wing of the truck
Hugh gives the old girl a once over and a slurp of oil
Claire shows us how to shove a hot marshmallow in without touching the sides..
Dean snuggles up with the Fosters
Scott keeps the sun out of his eyes even at 22.30 hrs!
It was another nice evening, the campsite here at Flakk was mainly occupied by statics and motor- homes with a smattering of other campers and their vehicles, we were given a field to ourselves with the shower- block in one corner. The waters edge was only 50 metres away and the sea or should I say fjord was flat calm, a couple of miles across the water and you could see towns and more mountains, it was still the mainland and the “sea” was actually Trondheimsfjorden, yes it was another bloody fjord! the ferry terminal here at Flakk shaved many hours and miles of peoples journeys.
The midnight ferry from Flakk to Rorvik The time was nearly midnight yet still fairly light. I found it all a bit bizarre
Strangely I didn’t find it difficult to sleep in spite of the constant light conditions, our tent was made from quite a thick material unlike the lightweight nylon of the older smaller tents.
The morning was nice and bright again and breakfast was a pleasure to do, I can imagine the inability to predict the correct time without a watch as 03.00hrs looks pretty much the same as 07.30 hrs! Did you know we never used a torch for about a week, bizarre!
The drive into Trondheim was made underground via another tunnel as we burrowed through the mountain first, the tunnel was pretty impressive as it had a complete roundabout with a huge concrete and rock centre piece to negotiate and four or five spurs to the roundabout. I imagine this was under the city? We took a spur and shortly came up somewhere on the edge of the old part of town. It was Sunday so we would find parking easy, and we did, we parked up next to a cathedral. Many folk were making their way here and dressed in “olde worlde” clothes, they looked very smart too!
Mum and daughter looking beautiful
Being of a godless persuasion I dont know what it was all about! but I do know we were well past Easter. Julie stayed with the truck because of her ankle whilst I took a steady amble around the old parts with the camera we had about two hours or more free time here before setting off again. Julie sat and read her book.
Old mills and warehouses on the river
Low tide shows the old wooden supports of the warehouses
The cafe’s begin to attact the morning tourists and locals
The trucks hide in the cool shade under the trees.
I was back at the truck after an hour and sat with Julie in the shade, folk walked by saying hello, some took photos of our trucks too. Folk returned in dribs and drabs and sat around chatting until Hugh turned up. We were back on the road again and making our way around Trondheim to a little railway station called HELL! The last hell I went to was in the Caymen Islands it was a little cafe amongst a recent volcanic backdrop, you could walk on and around it when I say “recent” I mean like hundreds or maybe thousands of yrs ago. There was no growth just weird shapes of grey black rock.
The boys Kieron and Piers with Welch Cerys, visting HELL. Thanx Cerys for the photo x
After lunch in HELL we turned back towards Trondheim and passed the biggest log pile I have ever seen on the dock side, I couldn’t even start to describe how big it was, OK Ill try. it was the height of a couple of houses stacked on top of each other and the length of one of those huge Korean tankers. We were on the road about half a mile away and it still looked bloody huge. We now turned east inland and away from the city, going along a huge river and into the mountains again but not undergrounds this time! We followed the river for a few miles and noticed the trees began to thicken up pretty soon we saw no fields, just trees everywhere!
Beware men on skis…on the tarmac!
It was a long old drive south east back into Sweden, the mountains and hills were covered in trees the only thing that wasn’t was the river and the road we were on! “Look out for the skier on the road” came a warning over the radio. What did Pete just say then? I thought to myself When sure enough a bloke on skis came by in the opposite direction sking on the tarmac!! There wasn’t anything on the road today, just a few cars…and a bloke on ski’s. How bizarre. We were on our way to a camp-site in Sweden now, it was called Hede.
Our plot was huge and on the edge of the forest maybe we would see the midges again I said to Julie as we circled the field before pulling over on the thick grass. It was another big but very quiet campsite. There were just a few caravans nothing much else. The owner greeted Pete and took some photos of our convoy before showing us where our pitch was and explaining about the great facilities. On the map we didn’t appear to be near any towns we really were in the middle countryside or should I say forest and fekking huge forest at that. Hey is that a banjo I can hear in the distance?
Huddled together for safety! Richard Cherys and Dean..
The awning came out today to compliment our tent arrangement
Dean’s Disco 3 and his one person tent on the roof
Not feeling like drinking much tonight Dean surprised us when he got his toy out to show us his skills as a drone pilot! He was a quiet bloke and hadn’t really engaged with wit and banter as everyone else did. All we knew of Dean was that he lived on his own worked in I.T and was from Birmingham. He was just a very very quiet man he smiled a lot but hardly joined in…until tonight. If we had known about his drone in the beginning maybe we could have taken some different photo’s? Or maybe he hadn’t had it long and didn’t trust himself…or us!
Wing Commander Dean
Deane displays the drome for us. Notice how we are all dressed to combat the mossies and midges? They were around but not in large number as at the first camp a week ago, and of course we had used sprays and creams like nobody’s business ever since!
Its funny how folk come out of their shell its almost like being with a different person! Dean got his drone flying machine out and began to get it prepared for flying, it had a camera underneath it on a gyro the images where relayed back to him on the screen clipped to the control console. I thought it was pretty damn noisy to be honest, with a high pitched whine from the four little propeller motors. It would have been better if it was a much lower whine or even better if it was silent. After this evening Dean went back to being the quiet man again.
Free Wifi was available here but it was practically within a twenty foot radius of the office. This is where Cerys had wondered over to as had a couple of others, after the drone show and doing washing up with Julie I too strolled over to post a photo on FB. After which I turned in, we had a long drive in the morning.
It got cloudier as we set off leaving the quiet camp site leaving too the dozen or so people to sleep on. The cloud pulled down the temperature I even wound the window up for the first time. The rain started and that was that for a couple of hours. The trees got a good soaking as we trundled on through mile after mile of bloody fir tree, not a sole in sight, no pavements no houses and few cars.
Pretty much the same view for over 350 miles..yup bigger than Thetford!
Beware of Skidoo’s?
The road was mainly arrow straight and very empty, it was fairly well constructed yet the speed limit was set at a lowly 50MPH, a stiff fine awaits you if caught by the police Every now and again we saw warning signs alerting drivers to be aware of skidoo’s. It must just apply in winter when snow is on the ground? Occasionally there were breaks in the trees and small tracks could be seen, is this where they come and go or do they go on the road like everyone else? It was a a moment of mild amusement on an otherwise long boring transit day to our next camp site. Aha a green field could be seen quick look at it and soak inthe scenery! Jeez Look out for the fekkin bloke on ski’s! Hey thats the second person we have seen in three hours!
Man of the road?
Id love to pin a Swede down and ask her all these questions..Whats with the Skidoo’s?…The tarmac ski-ing?…and the poxy 50 MPH speed limits? We did pull over at a roadside cafe for lunch, the pouring rain put me and the rest off from eating from the back of the trucks. Inside the dilapidated shack were a couple of friendly types behind the counter who served us something warm. The deco on the old walls consisted of stuff like crossed rifles… fishing rods… fish skulls..Moose antlers…old photos and even older advertising posters, I didnt notice any banjo’s I have to say. In the corner was a old store with stuff we now see in museums. We saw cans of everything from cleaning fluids soap..bread… sweets tinned fruit, mixed in amongst it was a variety of hardware stuff. Thankfully I have been watching some excellent Scandinavian crime thrillers on TV this year so I wasn’t as surprised as I might have been! We gathered our things and said goodbye and pressed on in the rain. We came to a town further up the road as the rain finally eased off giving way to bright sunny spells we were through the busy town and out the other side pretty quickly, the tree line receded giving way to green pastures and cows and back to the lovely lupins again.
Our eyes had something different to look at instead of the millions of trees. Now don’t get me wrong I like looking at trees and love the nature thing but not for days on end not the same fir trees of same height width and bleedin colour, gimmi an oak now and again just to break it up please!
Harvested pine trees ready to be despatched around the globe!
We seemed to be clear of the never ending forest now and drove into green pastures rolling hills white houses and small hamlets and lakes, lots of blue lakes with sailing boats tacking up and down. We were getting closer to our next camp which was on the outskirts of Bengtsfors. Today’s necessary long journey through uninteresting countryside was coming to a close.
In the kitchen…
In contrast to our last camp this place was quite full of caravans and statics it also possessed a few rows of tidy white or reddy brown holiday huts. it also had a huge lake for company, the breeze blew in off the water as we put ourselves into a snug circle, the photo above looks misleading we weren’t on top of each other. Hugh had just arrived and had just paused momentarily before moving over to the right and couple of trucks are out of shot, we for example are another thirty feet to the left out of shot. Everyone decided where one would pitch after few minutes looking and making sure everyone else had enough room. The warm breeze turned to a bit of a gale and we were right in its path it was unfortunate because it became stronger just as we were setting up the tents, we worked quickly and got ours firmly secured. Lee wasn’t so lucky and the wind got hold of their tent causing some damage to the frame before he could secure it. Thankfully it wasnt holiday stopping damage and their tent was finally made secure….Then the wind died away, returning to a nice breeze again. How bizarre! Folk took themselves off to explore their surroundings, some wondered off to the camp restaurant, we stayed and soon had dinner sorted. Julie tried to stay still rest her foot on a stool, there wasn’t the room in the truck for her to elevate her foot properly, Later when folk came back we began to congregate at the Jacksons bent tent, quite a few of the ladies and Pete shuffled inside with camp chairs out of the breeze, I think they were of the opinion that it was a stiff wind! I stayed outside mostly with Mr Foster and the lads although at the end of the night I did sneak myself inside. The end of a long day drew to a close. Tomorrow we would be rail riding, don’t ask me what that’s all about! I haven’t given it any thought and haven’t asked, haven’t researched it. I admit I had the odd image of the old black and white silent movies with two blokes on a little tram pumping the bar madly up and down like mad along with some frantic piano music! We shall just have to wait and see..
We woke up to an another fab day weather wise, its blue sky and warm sunshine and NO breeze blowing off the lake, just gentle ripples as the vast blue water starts the day.Oh wow what a fab spot we are in! Lets get the kettle on and sizzle some bacon.We were all ready to move off at 09.30 for the short drive to the disused railway. We gathered in front of the lady who explained the “do’s” and the” do nots” and gave us a leaflet with a map, we sorted ourselves out then went to our contraptions that stood on the nearby track.
Aha so this is what it is, a disused railway track going from Bengtsfors to Arjana in the woods and along the lakes and the thicker forests. They were bikes with a sidecar attachment welded to it for the passenger who sat on the wooden bench, the metal wheels had larger rings welded to them, rings that sat straddled the metal track meaning you couldn’t actually steer it you just peddle there is a foot brake but this is metal too so braking takes a lot longer as it just slides to a standstill eventually! The bikes are quite heavy, not at all comfortable and gets the old heart beating especially on the first two kilometres as its a gradual gradient! Tt was something different and quite fun in the warm sunshine we rattled along at about jogging pace, for the first few miles we stayed together, speeding up on the descents and going slower on the climbs, go too fast and you could de-rail falling into the thick brambles or getting smashed by the heavy metal contraption. We went pretty fast a few times which was fun but it was damn noisy with no rubber on wheels, every now and again a rail proved very uneven, it looked like a line of weld along the length, the resulting ride shook my body to pieces, not nice not nice at all! So fast was replaced by quick walk.
The Cannonball Express
It was a alternative way of seeing the spectacular countryside though, in the above photo you can see everyone looking to the left, there was a huge lake down there, Sweden has hundreds of beautiful lakes did you know? Every now and again everyone changed position to have a break. On and on we peddled I wondered how far it went, 2 or 3 miles each way maybe? Ill look at the leaflet when we stop.
Sweden finally offers up some stunning views, well worth the wait!
If you go down to the woods today..you’ll see madmen!
Lee got bored and demanded more speed so peddle into the back of Richard and the boy who in turn peddled into us and we started picking up speed! Julie took her feet off the peddles and let them propel us along! Needless to say it didn’t last very long. We went on and on for well over an hour. So how far does this line actually go I began asking myself again. Ill look at that leaflet when we stop I said again. We crossed a couple of roads on these things, coming up then slowly checked both ways and rumbled across the tarmac making a right racket! Slowly we progressed mile after mile, with not a soul in site! Finally we came across some flat open ground with a lake and benches down the embankment, and decided to stop for lunch. Up to now it was long grass lupins and brambles nearly all the way with no place to “park” Oh yes I forgot to say if you stopped you had to lift your contraption off the rails and keep the way clear…and they were bloody cumbersome things to move! So now the ground was open enough for all to stop and have lunch. We looked at the leaflet finally. This track went on for 52 KILOMETRES!!! not 3 or 4 miles as Id imagined. “Well y’can fukc that its a round trip of 104 ks thats…um…. 60 fekking miles!” I think I spoke for everyone, I wasn’t going any fekking further. We all agreed we would turn the things around and make our way back. As it is now we will have peddled 32 Kilometres by the time we got back. Another question nagged at me now. What happens if we meet anyone coming the other way?
Julie starts the ride back
I sensed our contraption was a tad heavier on the return journey..
Eventually we saw another contraption coming towards us. The leaflet says anyone coming from the station had right of way and the others have to lift theirs off the track. To do this one stands inside the contraption and grabs both handles on the bench and lifts and shuffle off the track. Not being a lanky twat I could hardly lift it over the rails and in most places I had to struggle at the edge of the brambles so they could pass. We had to do this over and over again as more folk came our way. At one point we were three machines travelling together when some idiots were coming quite quickly towards us, I’m guessing dad was passenger and the white skinned skinny oik of a son was peddling, peddling like fukc too he was. “Oi slow down! we shouted, the oik jumped off whilst father stuck his leg out to cushion the impact, this all happened in seconds, lucky for us we were 3 and he was 1. He bounced backwards it was such a clatter as steel hit steel. it was lucky that nobody was hurt, he got such a verbal dressing down from us. You don’t need me to write what was said do you? All we needed now was the Keystone cops and manic piano music!
I was well cheesed off at the finish! My knees and thighs were throbbing and I walked like a little Vietnamese weight lifter back to the truck! We drove the short distance back to camp and laid down to rest outside the tent! I was well and truly fooked! I peddled most of the way back as it was mostly uphill and I didn’t Julie to aggravate her ankle. Ill not be in a hurry to do that again.
Thief! On the peddle back we stopped at a convenient rail side wood store and “squirreled” away some pieces of wood, finally i got some Swedish wood from Sweden, its not quite a log but it will do!
After a rest we took ourselves to have a walk-about and see who and what was on the campsite and have a look in the camp shop maybe get some stickers for the truck? We saw some very nice coach conversions on site. Ive never seen any like it before. I think they are ideal for large families, some of them were quite old and so good use and an extended life for the coach, I was surprised to see one or two quite modern conversions here too. There were about six of these vehicles and parked together.
Big Orange camper bus with giant awning!
Big white camper bus, note the newer yellow one too?
The view across the lake around 20.00hrs
We didnt have a late night, I was so worn out and still had wobbly knees and that was without the booze! so whilst the rest of the gang went to party I faded into the tent with Julie and soon fell asleep dreaming about The Keystone Cops and the goon on the piano!
I felt much better when I awoke the following morning, I couldn’t say the same about the weather unfortunately, it had turned around again the sunshine and clear blue sky was replaced with grey clouds and showers. The wind was not present so soon after breakfast I dropped the tent in calm damp drizzle, it didn’t matter about it being soaked it would be put up again that evening. Everyone got their wet gear on and got stuck into the jobs and we were ready to roll again at the usual time.
Raining? so flipping what? say Mr & Mrs Jackson
Moira and Julie getting dressed for it
It all fun to the boys Piers and Keiron
We carried on heading south down through Sweden, our next camp was in Copenhagen in Denmark, but first some more shale road before the firmer tarmac stuff as we pull over for mid morning coffee. The early morning grey clouds and showers had long gone, replaced with white cloud blue sky and some sunshine.
Once we got back on the E45 we hugged it through the forests until we re-joined the E6 motorway again near Trollhattan. I’m sure Sweden had a lot more to offer but over these past couple of days it was all trees dotted frequently by lake’s. We drove past Gothenburg..Kungsbacka..Vargberg..Falkenberg and Helsingborg. Stopping for just fuel and food and met some of the locals…..
Excuse me, are you going my way?
Room on top for a small one perhaps?
They would do anything for a chip! Before very long one had flown onto the bonnet and his pal had landed on the roof shouting his mates over we soon became the main attraction! I admit I shared a couple of chips with them before the guys returned and we set off again. We had been driving an hour when I spotted tall pylons on the distant horizon. There it was, the mighty bridge that joins Denmark and Sweden, we were now travelling along the same route we came up on over a week ago. Look at the photo, you can see how the bridge carries the road to a small re-claimed island before disappearing into the sea!! it comes up again on the outskirts of Copenhagen. Bizarre!
Is it a bridge..is it a raised road or is it a tunnel..Answer?.. ALL THREE! Looking at similar photographs months earlier led me to discard it as an optical illusion, the road just cant disappear can it? Well now we knew..
The camp was easy to find with the valuable aid of Sally Sat Nav, a great aid especially in cities. Once again the facilities were superb and would have put many a home to shame! The shower block was huge and just so clean, also a large indoor room with TV’s tables and chairs to eat from, book cases and large comfy sofa’s to lounge about on, it would easily accommodate a couple of dozen folk.First though we had to put the tents up and the wind had returned I put the back slope into the oncoming wind and had it up in seconds, what takes longer is the extra side bits and the kitchen stuff, when Julie returned we set to it and within half an hour or so it was all sorted in spite of the gusts.
Scott and Karens house for two weeks! These guys as you know are about to go live and work in Singapore for two yrs so hadn’t got all the usual overland tenting stuff. They may get into it properly when the come back. The Disco will go for a long sleep in storage for now.
Scott happily prepares breakfast from the back of his beloved Disco.
That night we played host to Jo and Pete I wanted him to paint a picture of Morocco in March and with the aid of wine and more wine he convinced Julie it would not be as hot and oppressive as it was when I went last August. So much wine was drunk that he convinced Julie and she said yes to Morocco in March 2016. I’m glad to report I wont be going on my own after all! Tomorrow would be a free day to wonder around Copenhagen and take in some of the sights. But first to bed and sleep off the excesses.
We walked the short distance to the railway station around 09.00. The others were still sorting themselves out and we had gone on ahead. Today was a day to do whatever suited. I fancied the Tivoli Gardens so that’s where we head for first. The gardens were at the back of the huge central station and didn’t have far to walk, which was good because the weather was wet and showery, walking around to the entrance I saw it was actually a theme park?? I didnt fancy that after all! We looked at the tourist map and decided we would head for Christianborg Palace instead for some culture (and stay dry) it wasn’t far so less stress for Julies ankle which was still swollen. That sounded like a good plan.
Yup we really were in Denmark now!! Coming out of the station we saw hundreds of cyclists, they ganged up on cars at the traffic lights. They really are the No1 form of transport over here, as they are in Holland which is also as flat as a fart!
Damn the blasted rain!
The bridge to Christiansborg… Ny Vestergrade… Typical buildings in the centre of the old part of the city.
By mid morning the weather looked set for the day the rain was pretty constant now and not conducive to wandering around, not in our opinion at any rate! So we bought the full visit to the palace.
So from the guide book here is the history in brief…..
Christiansborg Palace ….The palace is the house of Denmark’s three supreme powers: the executive/legislative and judicial power. It is the only building in the world that houses all three of a country’s branches of government. Christiansborg Palace is owned by the Danish state. The present building, the third palace to be built on the site, is the last in a series of successive castles and palaces constructed on the same site since the erection of the first castle in 1167. Since the early fifteenth century, the various buildings have served as the base of the central administration; until 1794 as the principal residence of the Danish kings and after 1849 as the seat of parliament.
This is the fifth building built on the site, the first was a castle built by a powerful Bishop called Absalon on the outskirts of a growing fish village called Hagen and grew in importance by the waters edge because of its strategic position to the trade that flowed to and from the Baltic. But it was destroyed by a war in 1369. A second was built and lasted until 1731. The third was different and the first Christinsborg Palace but was destroyed by fire in 1794. The fourth also a palace and also destroyed by fire this time in 1884! We now have the third and present Chritiansborg Palace.
An Archive photo of Christiansborg from the front in sunnier days.. I couldn’t get a good photos in the rain and I didn’t want to get the lens wet.
We started at the beginning but not before being asked to put protective footwear on our feet to protect the floors and carpets, they were similar to the kit the forensic folk wear when working on a crime scene.
Beautiful floors made sense to wearing protective footwear! Some of the darker wood was from the old Danish Mars, sunk in 1807 by our glorious Royal Navy, the dark oak is known as bog oak because of its now really dark looks.
A very ornate very beautiful time-piece I moved that little “Do not touch” sign and took the photo again..when I emptied my clothes for washing when we got home in the UK guess what was still in my rain jacket pocket??
The Queens library. Whats amazing about the rooms is that they are all still used in glorious state functions and we are walking along the halls where Queen Margrethe II of Denmark walks.
From the Kings Stairway leading into the Green Room. Notice Julies protective footwear.
The Dining Hall.. The table is made from Mahogany from the Queens staircase in the second Palace during that fire in 1884 it was mostly rescued and has been made into this most fantastic table, the bannisters are now in fact footrests!
Fantastic furniture, I shouldn’t but I couldn’t help but run my fingers over it, it was so beautiful to the touch.
A cheeky shot…and blurred I know.
Piano with enough light coming in through the window to take a shot
We returned downstairs via another fantastic staircase. The PM has an office at the top of the stairway Im not sure if he was in today.
it was a startling visit I didn’t expect so many vibrant colours I thought maybe it would be a bit dour to be honest. Next stop was to find the Royal Stables and have a look at the horses in their royal surroundings. Unfortunately they had all gone on holiday to some green fields for a couple of weeks. 13 white Kladruber’s from the Czech Republic live and work here. The stables have been renovated in 2009 and now comply with current animal welfare regulations.
Julie in her element!..minus blue plastic overshoes!!
The slanted stables can only be occupied for a short period these days due to welfare regulations. The marble pillars are not real marble, you can see at the bottom where the neddy’s have booted them and the veneer covering has been kicked away! However the wood panels.. stone walls.. and cobbled floor are real enough
Empty now and waiting for the osses return in a month
We also visited the underground bits and saw the early foundations from the original castle and read about the two fires that burnt the earlier two palaces to the ground, they seem to think both were caused soot clogging up the chimneys. You’d think they would learn after the first one wouldn’t you?Feeling enriched but hungry it was early afternoon now and time for some lunch so we went in search of a nice pub.
…and still it rained
The famous Palace Hotel..in the rain. Just to the left was an area that reminded me of Carnaby St. vibrant and full or tourists! We would find something down there…
We found a Danish pub and an empty table by the window, eating lunch we sat and watched the flow of tourists pass by and the constant drizzle. We decided we would buy something from Denmark in the toursiti shops then make our way back. Platform No 12 I think was the one we wanted.
The bike park at Copenhagen railway station…Id hate to think that was my bike right at the front in the corner and I was in a hurry…
We found our platform and the train was along pretty soon, sitting there I looked around and saw dozens of folk with bikes, so they don’t actually ride everywhere then? I thought to myself. We sat in a bike carriage, on one side were seats on the other were rubber wheel slots that held the bikes firm, people of all sizes and shapes had a bike and not just the “racing snake” types, its been like this for many years here and its pretty much getting the same back home now isnt it? especially in the city.
Karen and Scott had a drama of their own on their choice of transport today, they went for a canal ride on a boat but had gotten wedged under one of the low bridges! They only got loose by all moving to the front tipping the boat forward and allowing them to reverse, it all sounded like fun?.. Everyone one else had a similar wet day doing some sightseeing in some form or another. By the early evening the rain had gone and the wind had shifted direction, it still blew but at least the rain had gone. We had a quieter evening eating and drinking in our kitchen area and watching the sides flap and bow thank you Mr wind! We would be on the move again in the morning. Julies ankle was still swollen but thanks to an easier day it was getting better.
OK so morning came and it was still a bit blowy and still looking grey, not to worry we can cope at least it wasn’t raining. We began to strike camp after breakfast and I decided to walk around with the camera..
The Jacksons fold away their ground sheet
Pete and Moira folding away their roof tent. When folding their roof tent away they flatten it as far as possible then one keeps downward pressure applied as the other goes round tucking everything in and then they can secure it with the cover zips and straps!
No sooner had we packed everything away when the grey clouds cleared away and the dampness dried up the sun returned. We gathered for the morning meeting.
With that out of the way we climbed aboard and set off making sure nobody had left anything, Id left my 10 ltr water carrier on a camp-site in Morocco last year so its good to have a last look around! We were bound for a Viking Workshop about an hour or so away at a place called Roskilde.
The beginnings of a Viking Long ship
A vessel in the making. A closed in exhibition hall had all the remains of the original boats that had been recovered from muddy banks, they could distinguish with were actual raiding Long ships and which were transport vessels. In the harbour about 4 boats were tied up, folk could clamber around and look more closely at them.
This is a working replica of a small coastal transport vessel Spot the big stones at the base of the mast? This is ballast against the heavy mast and sail which if you think about it could easliy topple the boats over if the stones weren’t in place?
Roskilde was a real boatyard that built Viking Long-ships, it was a brilliant place to look around, It was a leaning centre for young and old alike, men and women were working with ancent tools building the ships which took about 9 months to complete. They seemed to have a great understanding of what and how they did it way back then. Over the years they found bits and pieces in deep mud, as well as an outline of a complete long-ship in the silt with modern devices they have found and keep finding more and more from the Viking age. Vikings came from Scandinavia as a region and long before it became four separate countries. They had a good working knowledge of many aspects of a Vikings life, a few of us spent time with at the armoury and the long haired blonde..with beard who gave an excellent lecture on the axes knives and long slender wooden arrows, about how they made some of the tips softer so they twisted and bent when entering the target… Iv heard of a dum dum bullets but not dum dum arrows.
Every boat was ship shape and ready to sail
A Viking beauty giving some it some “wellie” There is a correct way to use every tool, as I found out with the simple round shovel when I worked down t’ pit in the 70’s Folk were invited to have a go, some were strangling the axe whilst others missed the log completely!
It was very much a “hands on” experience with log splitting, log chopping, weaving, making weapons, making clothes and leather shoes and generally working with wood using the old techniques, There was even a chance to row a Long-ship out there on the water.
I was stood on the quay watching a boat on the water it was full of visitors having a go at the oars. “Hah hah hah look at them silly buggers out there! They’re getting bloody soaked”!! Then it dawned on me that that’s probably exactly what my ancestors said as they stoodwatching from the shoreline..
Even the food in the restaurant was Viking themed though I suspect it may have been helped along by a microwave or two and not done over a clay pit in the soil!
We thought it was a great place to visit and not just for the kids either! But it was time to go, finally to head for the other coast. We had made good time it seems so Pete said we would take the ferry it might take a bit longer but we had hours in hand. Oh my word how that was to pan out! We were heading for the ferry at a place called Radbyhavn. The motorway was quite empty and were making very good time..even in Land Rovers! Suddenly ahead the traffic had stopped everyone slowed down eventually stopping, Oh dear perhaps there was an accident? We stood for ages before moving again but only went a hundred metres of so it was the same pattern for about three hours for gods sake. What WAS going off??
Scott keeps his chin up with a wave, that’s me on the roof taking a photo!
It slowly dawned on us that we were quite near the ferry port and this must be the ferry traffic! I say near we were a good few miles away, the traffic behind streamed away into the distance, no cops no blue lights nobody getting frustrated it was as though it was normal….so it must be! One or two came down the inside on the grass verge, tipped right over they were but passing us all the same, I saw an turn off up ahead and thought maybe they actually lived there? After the third guy crept by I thought Ok that’s enough and I let my truck creep over to the right putting a stop to it. I saw folk looking and some were grinning. Later it transpired that they were taking a short cut into the village and joining the line an hour or more ahead of us!
We finally made it to the booth showed our tickets and moved forward to Line Number ONE. There was no shunting, pushing or pulling, everyone just stayed calm as though it was a daily event. An official explained it was a Swedish Bank Holiday and everyone was making their way to Germany for cheap booze!! Pete thought it was the Swedish Zombie Apocalypse, there were bleedin farsends of em! The ferry was about 40 minutes according to the board so at this point we should reach the Fatherland around midnight! We sat in row ONE as two or three ferries came and went, all the other lanes moved except us. We slowly made it onto the ramp and got halted again the guy said “sorry, next ferry” Pete and one other I think had managed to get on the now departing ferry. The rest of us were halted at the on ramp. Not only was it Swede Zombies but the normal weight of everyday traffic and trucks AND trains would you believe? The Motorway just stops at the ferry and everyone has to get a boat..that comes along every 40 minutes.. Suddenly we were moving again as another ferry docked and on we went. The last two of our group still didnt get on!This caper still split us seven vehicles up as we finally crossed the sea on three separate vehicles. Once out to sea it we could count about six ferries altogether they were a bit smaller that the Dover /Calais boats but were hybrids in that they had a bridge at the bow and the stern and a ramp at bothe ends. In fact it would be more accurate to describe the ferry to be two bow sections welded together and a huge engine that powered the things as fast in forward or reverse!
The long truck I was walking down the side of back to our truck on deck 6 turned out out to be train!!
We all kept in contact with each other via mobile phone and walkie talkies so it wasnt a disaster.. just fookin frustrating! The campsite was due to close in around an hour we should just make it. Im sure I would have gained access to the site whatever the time as you who know me would agree. Pete as tour leader and responsible person was waiting for us at the other side and escorted us to the camp, it was the same camp we used earlier so we should have found it on our own OK. Once we were in Pete went back to the port to get the straggler, it was only a ten minute drive away. We get set up just as darkness was falling. DARKNESS? what was that? we had had a week of ever lighter “nights” the further we went north, but now of course we were reversing our course and had been doing so for the past three days, so yes it was dark, spooky! Hell a quick bite and “get the bloody wine open” was the order of the evening. Folk needed to wind down after an afternoon of pure bizarre
I was also topped up and happy as were just about all of us. Morning would bring normality. We dropped the tent and had breakfast in the open, we had returned to blue skies and warm sunshine. Eager to get on and put yesterdays bollox behind us!
An excellent team photo on our last morning in Europe care of Richard and his magic selfie stick, we are much happier and much calmer that yesterday.
Pete and Jo bid us farewell as the tour ends!
We left Pete and Jo in the morning, we head for the 16.00hrs ferry at the Hook of Holland whilst these two made ready to meet the next tour and take them to Iceland. The garage was full as we squeezed in filled up and squeezed back out again! Its Sunday and the locals are out and about, it wasn’t long before we found the motorway and head west towards Holland. It wasnt long too before someone wanted a pee stop, I called bye bye on the radio and we carried on, we’d see everyone on the ferry, I just didn’t want to stop so soon. In fact Id fancied spending time in Holland on that huge dyke. Only 360 miles to go!
We passed by Lubeck with no problems, Hamburg too was easy,. Bremen was a bit slow with some roadworks but that soon cleared and cleared Oldenburg. We stopped around here for fuel and a coffee stop. ON again we drove up to the Dutch border which came and, most countries in Europe just have the big blue sign with the country name and is embedded with a circle of gold stars. The Dutch city of Groningen was next, Julie got the camera ready because it had some really modern building to show.
I don’t think its a jail?
Looking like badly stacked dice at first glance
In another hour we were at the dyke over the Ijsselmeer and I found the car park in the middle, once over the berm all along the edge were motor-homes and folk lolling about sun bathing or fishing. We picked a spot and parked up switching the engine off, a few turned to look but most we dozing. It was hot here with not a ripple on the sea, we were facing seaward with a narrow chain of islands keeping the rougher North Sea at bay. Boy it was so tranquil here! we had tea and snacks here and just sat about for a while. I sent Pete a text informing him of a good trouble free drive, he could pass it on if any of the gang contacted him. We had the last leg of sixty miles to go now which included going around busy Amsterdam, however it was Sunday it should be quiet.
Ive not come this way before so it was pretty new normally we come from the east and go straight into the Euro-port. Today we were curving down the coast from the North and were heading for a different destination, the Hook of Holland. The motorway had many exits and entries the lanes varied too so keeping in the right lane meant keeping on ones toes, reading the signs and listening to Sally, Just keep heading for Rotterdam Julie said, to be honest I was trying to pick out the Hook of Holland signs of which there wasn’t many being a good deal smaller place. Not rushing made things easier, can;t switch lines at the last minute like we could on the bike, no not in this tank! The airport passed us on the right side and son we saw the signs for Hook, Sally chirped up too and now we left the motorway to drive through a large commercial region and some suburbs. It didn’t seem to be the most direct route but hey thats Sat Navs for you. The choice is yours to follow or not! Im sure trucks dont come this way.
There it was on our right, a small brick wall a large sign and a couple of lanes leading up to the passport booths, in the distance we could see our ferry, it would be taking us to Harwich that evening. We were about two hours ahead of the boarding time.There were perhaps a couple of dozen cars waiting for the same ferry to England. We had another brew and a snack and waited for the gates to swing up which they did half an hour later,folk returned to their vehicles from the cafe or toilet, some didnt for a while and got in the way as the rest of us made our way around them. Eventualy we went through passport control and into the Customs area for similar checks, I opened the back for the officer, I think he blinked a few times when he saw the stuff in the back. The handlers waved us forwards right on time and pointed to where they wanted me. The guy in front had his number plate missing so I told him, I wish I hadn’t bothered, he was a traveller from Ireland, he asked me if I spoke English the cheeky twat! I told him again, slowly then he started to tell me some cock and bull story that he’d just bought it in Holland and….”It doesnt matter pal, was just trying to help you thats all, you realize you’ll probably (hopefully) get pulled by Customs or the Police:” anyway I walked on. Id made my mind up about this guy!
The cabin seemed to be on the very top of the boat as we climbed and climbed!The cabin was spacious and clean and had a port hole, it looked out to sea over the cranes and dockyard buildings and it looked pretty calm.
We made our way to the restaurant/cafe and had an excellent curry, most of the staff on board were Asian so the curry was great. we walked to the stern then went for a look in the duty free. We bumped onto Scott and Karen and had a few minutes with them, still further on we then bumped into everyone else, they were just coming aboard. we said hopefully we would speak later after they had eaten dinner, we sat around with a beer but I was getting more tired and decided to hit the sack instead. We would see them on the car deck in the morning they were parked up at the side of us it seems.
So in the morning “sods law” came into play. We missed everyone, the handlers called us forward to disembark, nobody from the tour had come down to the trucks and everyone had to drive around them, hopefully their delay wasn’t because of anything serious? (it turned out they had stayed up top for an extra coffee and just missed the call?)
So we disappeared back up north without say goodbye properly! We would see them again at some point. It seems nobody does just one atlas overland tour all of us had been before and would probably bump whoever at some point in the future! You all know the way back to our place from here so this is where I will halt the story. I hope you folk enjoyed reading it and I hope the gang enjoyed the trip again and had fond memories re- ignited during the read.