A ten day trip to Northern France

imageimageCalais, France imageWell, having just posted a picture of my dog I decided it was really time to catch up with my blog.  So, recently we took a trip to Northern Fance in our new motorhome.  The weather was cold but we were cosy warm in our insulated van.  We had a wonderful time and the key word was ‘leisurely’.  We did not drive very far but we walked and watched the world go by.  Brilliant.

So here is A peek inside my art travel journal.

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All in all, we decided this was the way we liked to travel.  No set destination and the only timescale set by the outward and return ferry times.

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Final stages of our Arctic road trip

So, we travelled down to Trelleborg in Sweden to catch the ferry to Rostock.  It was an old ferry, the cabin rather musty and no hot water until the morning.  But it was a safe crossing and we arrived in Rostock, Germany in the morning sunshine.

Crossing from Trelleborg, Sweden to Rostock Germany
Crossing from Trelleborg, Sweden to Rostock Germany

We then drove to Vegesack to a Stellplatz we stopped at on the way north.  We like the area and we spent three days relaxing the sunshine, walking along the banks of the Weser and I ran each morning.  Coffee stops in the town centre and a great pizza restuarant all added up to a peaceful time after our long drives.

Three days in Vegesack
Three days in Vegesack

On Saturday 28th June we headed off for the ferry port at Hoek van Holland spending the whole day travelling slowly and stoping off for drinks, food and sitting in the sunshine.  We arrived in good time for the overnight crossing back to the UK.

Giant deck chairs on the roundabout before the port
Giant deck chairs on the roundabout before the port

Another great crossing and we felt rested enough to drive from Harwich straight back home arriving in the afternoon back in Devon.  We had driven over the month over 4,000 miles.  A great experience.

Once home we were greeted by our dog Pippin and our land completely overgrown and looking more like the forests we had left behind in Finland and Sweden.  It has taken us three weeks to tame it and I am now ready to start more arty stuff again.

Back home after a 4,000 mile road trip
Back home after a 4,000 mile road trip

 

 

Rastplatzes in Sweden and wild camping

A quick whistlestop drive through Stockholm and onto a lakeside Rastplatz
A quick whistlestop drive through Stockholm and onto a lakeside Rastplatz

Rastplatzes are great stopovers which the Swedes provide to their motoring public.  As a Motorhomer we were able to stop in these overnight.  Some are close to the road so not ideal but others are set back in the forest or by a lake.

Also, there is the rule that you can camp wild as long as it is a certain distance from a person’s home.  The forest at Fulltofta was a great place we stopped on the way out on our trip and we returned here once again as it was fantastic.  Our ideal stopover is somewhere quiet and somewhere we can go walking, so this forest fulfilled our needs.

Near the lakeside
Near the lakeside
A picnic spot in torrential rain
A picnic spot in torrential rain
A spot by a mill house and travelling through lots of poopy and cornflower fields
A spot by a mill house and travelling through lots of poopy and cornflower fields
A wild camping spot in the forest
A wild camping spot in the forest
Wild camp spot in the forest with evidence of old walls from previous farming practices.
Wild camp spot in the forest with evidence of old walls from previous farming practices

Back to Sweden from Turku, Finland

We travelled to Stockholm on a Stena Line ferry which was brilliant.  The crossing was amazing, passing so close to islands and land pretty much the whole time.  It was over 11 hours and we had chosen to cross during the day as we did not want to miss out in the views.

Really a crossing not to be missed.  The sea was so blue at times but as we neared Stockholm the weather was not so good.

An amazingly interesting crossing passing many islands and so close to land
An amazingly interesting crossing passing many islands and so close to land
A great crossing
A great crossing

Ruissalo, Turku

An archipelago
An archipelago

We eventually found somewhere to stay on an archipelago near Turku.  It was quite a large campsite, so not really what we usually head for but it served a purpose and was in beautiful surroundings with lots of wild life.

An great archipelago near Turku.  A place to investigate again in the future
An great archipelago near Turku. A place to investigate again in the future

We spent a couple of days here.  It was great for running and cycling but the weather was a bit cool.  We left early in the morning to catch the ferry from Turku to Stockholm.  We were lucky to see a small fox who watched us drive by completely nonplussed by our presence.

Cranes and oyster catchers
Cranes and oyster catchers

Turku

A quick visit to a peaceful outdoor museum and checked out Turku port area
A quick visit to a peaceful outdoor museum and checked out Turku port area

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We stayed on the 18th June in a rather strange place called Zoolandia near Turku.  It was in fact very pleasant and the weather warmed up slightly so after a quiet night we headed towards Turku, not going into the centre but just trying out the lay of the land.  We found an interesting museum, Nautelankoski, but because there was no translation and our Finnish is very limited, we did not really understand what it was all about.  Still, a lovely day and we tried to head back to Zoolandia for the night but on arrival they told us they were closed for the evening due to Midsummer’s day parties.  Ah well, off we went I search of somewhere else to stop.

Finnish Lakes

I love the Finnish lakes.  They are peaceful and extensive.  We camped right next to two sets of lakes on our way down to Jyvaskyla and then further south.  The whole experience was one of tranquility despite the cold temperatures for June.

We thought that it might be busy on the campsites as the children were on their 10 week summer holiday.  But, the tradition seems to be that they don’t go away until after Midsummer’s Day and we were leaving the country on that day to head for Sweden.  So, quiet campsites and generally quiet everywhere.

More lakes and more trees!
More lakes and more trees!
The lakes in Finland are amazing!
The lakes in Finland are amazing!

Ranua Zoo, Finland

A stop in the wilderness followed by a sauna at Ranua Zoo
A stop in the wilderness followed by a sauna at Ranua Zoo
A fire hut and the gnarled birch tree near Ranua zoo
A fire hut and the gnarled birch tree near Ranua zoo

We found this stop almost by accident.  We had seen a flyer in the Arkitkum in Rovaniemi, but decided we probably would not be going anywhere near this route.  A closer look at the map and we found it would be a good route down to Jyvaskyla to see some old friends.  Searching the internet showed a campsite at the zoo.   It was brilliant.  On the edge of a forest with footpaths and a fire hut, great WiFi, a fire area and best of all a sauna.  It was not very busy and the enclosures at the zoo were very well done; all set within a forest on board walks above the forest floor.  The animals in the zoo were mostly indigenous to Finland and the Arctic.  It was cold but mostly dry so we were able to have two BBQs and sit out wrapped up in our Rohan ice pack jackets.  The campsite is open all year so we may be back one year to experience Finland in the winter snow.

Indigenous animals of Finland and the arctic region
Indigenous animals of Finland and the arctic region

The Arktikum, Rovaniemi, Finland

The Artikum dome
The Artikum dome

This is a brilliant science and history museum.  It focuses on the arctic regions and its peoples.  I visited here nearly ten years ago, but this time we cycled to the museum in the cold and drizzle.  Well worth a visit and amazingly it was not busy despite it being the children’s school holidays.

It is my first attempt at drawing a polar bear and this one was a stuffed one in the museum!  The glass dome is visible from the lakes as you cycle up the slope.  Very impressive piece of architecture.

A great history and arctic science museum
A great history and arctic science museum