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ManVanNoPlan’s 2022 Autumn Road Trip starts in The Netherlands.

Friday 30th of September.
Ardrishaig to Carlisle. (59.923943, -2950596)
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ManVanNoPlan’s 2022 Autumn Road Trip starts in The Netherlands.
Before we set foot on the continent we had to get there first so we set off from Argyll for our latest European adventure on Thursday the 29th of September full of anticipation for the new adventures ahead, only to grind to an unexpected halt less than a mile from our house.

Only a few minutes before we got on to the A83 heading for Glasgow and beyond there was an accident in the village when a tanker lorry heading in the opposite direction to us crossed over our lane and landed in the front garden of a block of flats.


If we had been a few minutes earlier this truck may have ended our holiday after only ten minutes on the road!

The emergency services were there very quickly and the police actually put their tape across the road behind us before I did a five point turn and managed to find the only other route around this blockage.

We understand that no one in either the flats or the truck was injured, but they would no doubt be badly shaken.

Once we were moving again it was an uneventful drive down to our usual first stop in the Kingstown Industrial Estate, Carlisle. We had a message that evening to say that Bessie was shown on the Argyllshire Advertiser online edition!

Saturday 1st of October.
Carlisle to Calverley Bridge near Leeds. (53.826792, -1.664011)

The route suggested by Google Maps towards Harwich was over the A66 from Penrith to Scotch Corner but we were meeting daughter Emma and Adam at Calverley Bridge near Leeds this afternoon for lunch and a catch up. We had a lovely lunch at the Calverley Arms and spent the afternoon chatting before we settled down for the evening. We’ve stayed here on the banks of the Leeds and Liverpool canal before a few years ago and had the place to ourselves but after the Covid lockdowns, everyone seems to have bought a campervan and the problem here was the amount of vans with people living in their vans full time.


Sunday 2nd of October.
Calverley Bridge to Harwich. (51.942136, 1.290676)

The drive today was around four hours so we were up sharpish and left before nine o’clock. The weather was good and the drive seemed to be long but it is still shorter for us to take this crossing than to head to Dover by sixty two miles. Not a lot but you never know what dramas will be happening at Dover so the sedate crossing between Harwich and the Hook of Holland suits us – and the bonus is it’s a cheaper crossing even though it’s five hours longer than Dover to Calais.
Go figure as they say.


We stopped for lunch on the way and arrived in Harwich mid afternoon and parked at the front looking over at the container port of Felixstowe.

It was a lovely sunny afternoon and The Navigator soaked up the sun before we had an early night as we had an early start to catch the ferry at 9am. We woke to a lovely sunrise and a lot of dew on the van but we were soon on our way after filling up at an Asda petrol station, and it’s a good job we did. More on this later…

Monday 3rd of October.
Day 1 – Harwich to Kinderdijk.(51.858352, 4.676417)


The crossing took nearly seven hours but we enjoyed it and had an excellent lunch on board. We cleared immigration with no issues and had our passports stamped, so starting the clock ticking on yet another Schengen adventure.

Inexpensive Christmas Gift Ideas…

Titles for the four nations also include, Best Wife, Best Mum, Best Son, Best Dog & Best Cat!

See the full range of titles HERE.

The ship seems to travel at a snails pace until it leaves the estuary and heads out to sea. The crossing was superb. There was nothing else for it but to relax, read and watch all the other ships out at sea. As we approached The Dutch coast near Rotterdam there were dozens of ships of all shapes and sizes, both moving and at anchor.

After leaving the port we approached a huge roundabout and my human Navigator overruled my Google Navigator and told me to change lanes and go straight across instead of turning right.

To be fair to my human Navigator, the Google Navigator did say follow a certain road number which was going straight according to the overhead gantry, but on but the map on my tablet screen it was showing I should turn right!


Once back on track there were no issues on the half hour trip until approaching within a few miles of the Aire when another navigational error sent us in completely the wrong direction. When we were in the queue for the immigration check my phone was switched back on but did not pick up a Dutch network until we were right at the booth. My phone beams a WiFi signal to the tablet and in haste I typed in ‘Kinderdijk’ instead of the coordinates for the Aire so we headed off in the wrong direction, unable to turn for about twenty minutes. Once (eventually) we turned and headed in the right direction we found the site easily enough. It had been a long day so after servicing the van we caught up on a few YouTube videos and had an earlyish night.

Tuesday 4th October.
Day 2 – Kinderdijk.

This was our third visit to the Kinderdijk Aire this year and may not be the last due to its relative proximity to the Hook of Holland Ferry terminal as our return passage is from the Hook of Holland.

We woke to bright and warm sunshine and resolved to make the most of it so after breakfast the first thing was to get the bikes out of the garage as I had to make a small repair in there. Once that was done we had a chat with a couple from York who were parked behind us as they were packing up to head for the Rotterdam to Hull ferry as their 5 week road trip to Bavaria via Denmark was at an end. Apparently the weather in Denmark wasn’t as good as we’d had back in April so they headed south and found better weather near Munich!


After our repairs were done we headed off on the bikes to Lidl which was only seven minutes away. There was a market on in Lidl’s car park the last time we were here but not today. This time we found that there was a shopping mall near Lidl and The Navigator could not believe her luck as there was a huge Hema there – on her first full day in the Netherlands would you believe!

Once our favourite Dutch delicacies were bought in Lidl we headed back to Bessie for lunch, passing a busy petting farm on the way.


After lunch we cycled back to the famous windmills at Kinderdijk. Back in May none of them were working but at least half a dozen of them were this time. The other big difference this time was it was much busier with a lot more tourists walking about in their groups. They were mostly American from a large hotel boat which was moored on the nearby Nieuwe Maas canal.


We had a cuppa at the visitor centre and sat outside in the warm sunshine admiring the view and got talking to one of the American couples who told us about their trip which had started in Bratislava and worked its way northwards through Austria and Germany before the Netherlands and their flight home in the next few days.


We cycled back to Bessie and enjoyed a pre dinner glass of wine sitting outside as the sun dipped behind the trees surrounding the site. We were the only Brits here tonight and we were encircled by mostly German vans.

I watched Liverpool v Rangers and The Navigator watched another episode of The Bake Off…

Wednesday 5th of October.
Day 3 – Bazel. (51.147897, 4.306805)
We opened the blinds to a dull grey morning but at least it was dry. The plan today is to leave The Netherlands and head into Belgium to a little town to the south of Antwerp called Bazel which is quite difficult to say without hearing Prunella Scales voice in your head shouting “Basil”. Or is it just me? I found Bazel while looking for stopovers near Antwerp and it had a little Aire within walking distance of a park and the town centre so decided to stay there for one night.


After breakfast we serviced the van and set off for the ninety minute drive into country number two of the 2022 Autumn Road Trip! It was motorway or dual carriageway for most of the trip and as the landscape was flat a side wind buffeted Bessie most of the way. We were on one of the major routes between the Netherlands and Belgium and the amount of lorries of all nationalities was incredible, forming one long solid line in the inside lane.

We arrived at the site which wasn’t really a site, but the car park of a huge deserted leisure centre which gave the impression of being abandoned. There was one Dutch Motorhome there when we arrived but apart from them, it was quiet and peaceful, in contrast to the madness of the Antwerp motorway bypass.


It was a lovely warm afternoon now so after lunch we set off for a stroll around the nearby park which featured the Wissekerke Castle located in the outskirts of the village. The castle originates from the 10th century, however it burnt down, and was rebuilt in the 15th century. For two centuries, it was owned by the Vilain XIIII family, who remodelled the castle in neo-Gothic style. The nearby suspension bridge was constructed in 1824 and is one of the oldest suspension foot bridges in Belgium, but in truth was underwhelming.


The ‘castle’ and immediate grounds were being refurbished so we couldn’t get to see it up close, contenting ourselves with a walk around the pond and into the village. This being Autumn, there were lots of mushrooms of various types and as every tree seemed to be oak, there were tons of acorns underfoot. The centre of the village is dominated by a well preserved ancient Catholic Church and we had a look around inside.

The village looked prosperous and the houses seemed to be either well renovated ancient homes or brand new, but there were few shops, and they were all closed. Seeing all the shops closed took me back to my youth as both my parents worked for the Co-op and they had a Wednesday (and Saturday) afternoon off too, which you don’t really see in the UK now.

We completed a circular walk of the village and headed back towards Bessie via lanes which had chestnut trees in the process of carpeting the path with chestnuts of a good size for ‘conkers’.

The ‘deserted’ leisure centre had sprung into life and there were now dozens of cars disgorging mostly women and children, here to use the many facilities on offer well into the evening.


Thursday 6th of October.
Day 4 – Temse. (51.125049, 4.209004)
It had rained during the night off and on, and that, combined with the nearby village church bells chiming away and her insect bites giving her ‘gip’ meant The Navigator didn’t have the best of sleeps. I slept undisturbed by any of these events until 7am!

We are moving on today to a place called Temse, a town on the banks of the river Scheldt, which is only twenty minutes away. The main claim to fame of Temse is that in 1912 the Internationale Vliegweek voor Watervliegtuigen (“International Flying Week for Seaplanes”) took place here, the meeting was set up for the assessment of seaplanes that could possibly be deployed in the Belgian Congo. Tests were carried out with a private aircraft by fifteen pilots from Belgium, France and Germany. It was the biggest event in Temse’s history!


The reason for us stopping over in Temse is that tomorrow we will either take the bus or train into Antwerp as we have never been there before. The drive to Temse was straightforward enough until the last few hundred yards when the Google satnav took us through the narrow cobbled streets in the centre of town. I had a feeling that we shouldn’t be on these streets with a Motorhome over 3,500kg but decided to keep going until we got stuck behind the bin lorry emptying loads of bins and causing grid lock.

When two young police men cycled past us without a second glance I knew we’d make it without getting a ticket. The Aire can take 20 vans and we were the fourth to park up, although there would eventually be about fifteen spending the night here. The price per night is only €4 without services, or €10 including electricity and water. A bargain!


We set off for a walk around the town with an imposing church and town hall the highlights.


After lunch we walked the short distance to the impressive riverside where a massive shipyard once stood there is now a luxury apartment complex facing onto the river Scheldt with an old crane the only clue to what once stood on this site. This sort of thing is happening in most countries now, replacing industry and factories with houses and letting China and the Far East get their hands dirty making things and getting richer in the process!


On our return we were sitting out enjoying the last of the afternoon sunshine when we met what we thought were another British couple who were returning to their British registered Burstner, which at 9.6m, made Bessie look small. We were invited by Gay and Kevin over to see inside their huge van and it was very impressive but probably too long for a couple.

It turned out they were Kiwis and spend the Northern Hemisphere summer touring Europe in this van before returning down under to spend the Southern Hemisphere summer in another motorhome there. Sounds like an ideal lifestyle.

Friday 7th of October.
Day 5 – Antwerp.
Back in March we took the train from Blankenberge to Brussels, Belgium’s capital, and today we took the bus from Temse into Antwerp, Belgium’s second largest city.

Antwerp is on the river Scheldt and is the second busiest port in Europe after Rotterdam which is quite an achievement given it’s 80km inland from the sea. It is also famous as the world centre of the diamond trade but The Navigator passed on buying a diamond in favour of a lunch of her choice.


The 93 bus from Temse took an hour into Antwerp and was only €2.50 each. Jacky Ickx and Thierry Boutson are probably the two most famous Belgian Formula 1 racing drivers of all time and I’m not sure which one of them it was, but one of them has found a nice little retirement job driving the Temse to Antwerp No. 93 bus.

The bus does not cross the river so once you get off you have to get an overly crowded underground train under the Scheldt and we got off at the first station on the city side, which was perfect for the Cathedral and main square. The other option would have been to carry on until the Central Station, allegedly one of the top five stations in the world, then visit the diamond district but it is a big city and we didn’t have time to do that this time.


The front facade of the Cathedral is being renovated but the rear side of the spire has been completed and the stonework and golden adornments glistened in the sun. I should say at this point that it was another glorious sunny warm day, unlike back home in the motherland where it was lashing down!


We wandered about the area around the massive 14th century building but at a €12 entrance fee each we decided our hard earned could be better spent elsewhere, probably on lunch. Just around the corner from the Cathedral is the Grote Market, the main square, and it was incredibly impressive with stunningly restored elaborate buildings from the 16th century. The main building in the square however is the City Hall, built between 1561 and 1565 and today adorned with flags of seemingly every nation on earth – except the Union Jack, as far as we could see anyway!

Antwerp is only fifteen miles south of the Dutch border and it has a feeling of being a Dutch city but it is very cosmopolitan in outlook and there is probably every cuisine from around the world on offer, but I had chosen a highly rated little fish restaurant as The Navigator loves nothing better than feasting on Kibbeling and frites. Fish A’Gogo did not disappoint and the meal was excellent and half the price of others in the area around the city centre.


After lunch we strolled down to the banks of the Scheldt where there is a huge London Eye type wheel giving views of the Riverside and city. Also in this area is the Het Steen, an old castle which in one form or another has been on this Riverside site since the 11th century. Today it houses the main tourist information office where we were given a map and a recommendation what to do with the rest of the afternoon.


We decided on walking to the Museum aan de Stroom, a modern ten story museum exploring the city’s heritage. It overlooks the historic docks but there weren’t really any historic ships there. I think on a rainy day this would be the place to visit but we didn’t have enough time to do it justice so took the escalators up nine stories and walked up to the tenth to get an amazing panorama view of the city and its surroundings.


By this time our feet were beginning to tell us they had just about had enough of walking about so had a reviving drink sitting outside at the ground floor café.

It was now late afternoon and with no desire to trek much further we headed back to the main square for one last look around before heading to the subway station for the underground back to the bus station. Again, the train was packed, as was the long bendy bus, mostly with school children and it was at least driven back to Temse at a more moderate speed this time. Antwerp was a surprisingly beautiful city, but with limited time we did not do it justice.


We arrived back at Bessie with aching feet (15,372 steps) so had an early night and caught up with Mortimer and Whitehouse Gone Fishing and Only Connect where The Navigator had a better week and it was honours even!

Saturday 8th of October
Day 6 – Waterloo (50.681909, 4.402116)
Think back to 1974 when an obscure Swedish pop quartet won the Eurovision Song Contest with a little ditty called ‘Waterloo’.

According to something I read on the Internet (a mistake, I know) that song was metaphorically comparing a woman “surrendering to her conqueror” (giving up resisting a man’s advances) to Napoleon surrendering following his final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Who knew that?

Anyway, today we are heading about an hour south of Temse, skirting around Brussels and the actual town of Waterloo to the battlefield site where the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon just over two hundred years ago, an event which changed European history in the process. I might be writing this blog in French otherwise mon ami!

We’ve enjoyed being based in Temse and could easily have gone back into Antwerp again but it’s time to move on as we have to be in a certain French town next Saturday/Sunday, but more of that anon…

The drive to the Waterloo battlefield site was easy enough on dual carriageway and motorway all the way. We had lunch in the huge car park and were surprised that we were the only Motorhome here.

The battlefield site is flat, pristine farmland and there are three main elements to it, the museum, the Panorama Building and the Lion Mound.

We hadn’t entered Antwerp Cathedral yesterday as we baulked at the €12 entrance fee but it’s €18 here and worth every euro. The museum is actually underground and is simply amazing and tells the story of the lead up to the battle and the events that took place here.

If you don’t know the background to the Battle of Waterloo here is a potted history thanks to Wikipedia…
“The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815, near Waterloo in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, now in Belgium. A French army under the command of Napoleon was defeated by two armies. One was a British-led coalition consisting of units from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Hanover, Brunswick, and Nassau, under the command of the Duke of Wellington. The other was composed of three corps of the Prussian army under the command of Field Marshal von Blücher.

Waterloo was the decisive engagement of the Waterloo campaign and Napoleon’s last. According to Wellington, the battle was “the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life”. Napoleon abdicated four days later, and coalition forces entered Paris on the 7th of July. The defeat at Waterloo ended Napoleon’s rule as Emperor of the French and marked the end of his Hundred Days return from exile.“


It would be almost impossible to describe the museum, suffice to say it has thousands of artefacts presented in a very modern, hi-tech way. I was so engrossed by the museum I only took the one picture inside and that was of The Navigator studying the layout of the battlefield which took thirty years to make and now has pride of place in the foyer of the museum. After you take in everything in the museum you then go outside again and head to the panorama building where you can see a very intricate and huge, circular wall painting depicting the Battle.


The site of the battlefield today is dominated by the monument of the Lion’s Mound, a large artificial hill constructed between 1820 and 1826 from earth taken from the battlefield itself. The topography of the battlefield near the mound has not been preserved and is now given over to farming.


The Lion’s Mound has 226 steps to the summit where you can see the full extent of the surrounding countryside where so many people lost their lives, from both sides. For two out of condition pensioners it was an achievement to make it to the top but we were glad we made the effort as the 360° views were superb.


Coming back down was easier than the ascent, but it was an ordeal for the windswept Navigator who struggles with steps and kerbs now due to her cataract problem.

Back at Bessie we had a cuppa and decided to move on to a park up we have been to before a few years ago. I had originally planned to stay overnight on this car park but it was on a slope and next to a busy dual carriageway so decided to move on to Plan B.

Sunday 9th of October.
Day 7 – Thieu. (51.471425, 4.089804)

It was a forty minute drive from the Waterloo Battlefield yesterday afternoon to this park up on the other side of a wide canal from the village of Thieu. This area is quite famous for some huge boatlifts that raise and lower some of the massive barges that use the canal system here.

We knew what to expect, having been here before but the site is no longer listed on the Park4night App and Google Maps show it as closed permanently so there was an element of doubt as we drove here but as soon as we crossed the canal bridge we could see about half a dozen vans lined up facing the canal. It was a lovely sunny afternoon so we sat out enjoying the sunshine for the most of the afternoon, although we did manage a cycle later on.

The last week has been quite hectic so we decided to take it easy and make Sunday a day of rest to relax ahead of another busy week.


After lunch we had a cycle to the massive boatlifts, both the modern one and the historic one.


After returning from our cycle we stowed the bikes in the garage ready to move on tomorrow.

The second week of our Autumn Road Trip will take us into France and the wine regions of Champagne and Chablis so join us for that…


PS – You may have noticed that in some of the pictures of Bessie she is sporting a new graphic on the back. I designed it and Yowzer Signs & Graphics in Milton Keynes (01908 378882) produced it and we are really happy with the outcome.

Already I have noticed more people logging in to Fyne Editions from the countries we are visiting so it seems to me a modest marketing investment for Fyne Editions that may pay off!

The above map shows our route in the first week…

Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn a small affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.


We are really enjoying being back on the road on the continent – but look out for the next blog when one of us ends up in a French hospital…

Stay tuned and if you are not already SUBSCRIBED sign up to be notified of the new blogs when they go online. 

PS – The Fyne Editions website has had a makeover and tons of new titles have been added in the past few weeks so check it out HERE and find lots of inexpensive stocking fillers for Christmas…

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