29th - 30th July 2021
We had worried so much about being refused entry to Spain that we hadn’t actually spent much time planning our first night. Over breakfast on the ferry we decided to continue our abandoned 2020 trip and complete our circumference of the Iberian Peninsular. The first leg of our new plan was a 2 hour drive south from Santander to Burgos.
We have stayed in Burgos before at a campsite called Camping Fuenta De La Teja, you can watch our video from last trip here. That campsite was lovely, and we had a lot of fun there, but we wanted to explore new sites and places. So this Trip we chose a campsite attached to a restaurant with incredible reviews Quinta De Cavia.
We arrived at Quinta De Cavia and passed through a large security gate. Surprisingly there were very few other campers there, probably the result of the pandemic as the facilities were excellent. The boys immediately headed off to the pool, while Steve and I set up camp. We picked a lovely spot, nicely shaded under ancient trees, and then headed out to explore the site.
As I said the facilities were lovely. I think George moved into the pool, only getting out to eat and sleep. The toilet and shower facilities were clean and spacious with lovely high ceilings and purple and silver sparkly paint!
In the evening, rather than cook, we decided to celebrate our safe arrival in Spain with dinner in the restaurant. We ordered from the “Daily Menu” and enjoyed a wonderful 2 course meal made from fresh local ingredients for just €15 per person - and that included a drink! I absolutely loved my delicious (and surprisingly large) glass of wine.
Quinta De Cavia is not really a “destination” campsite, it’s more of a “transit through” kind of place. But it’s an excellent “transit through” kind of place. The facilities are excellent, the restaurant is amazing, and it’s location just 2 hours away from Santander made it the perfect place to rest and recoup after the most stressful journey from Plymouth.
'28th - 29th July 2021
Pont Aven : https://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/booking/trip
Let's get this European Adventure on the Road!
After a quick trip McDonalds (fueling up before boarding the ferry), it's time to head to the Docks and prepare to board.
We arrive happy and full of nervous excitement, quite confident that we have no goat's head stuffed with cocaine in our van, and pretty sure that we have all the necessary paperwork to leave the UK during a global pandemic. Turns out that was a bit premature.
Passports - CHECK
Covid Vaccination Certificates - CHECK
Spanish Contact Tracing Forms - CHECK
Negative PCR Test Certifications - CHECK, I mean NOPE, well, actually MAYBE.
When I completed the online registration for the boy's PCR tests, there was an option I noticed on Harry's form to add the swab time to the certificate. I'd not noticed it on Eddie's, and hadn't read anything (in all my research), about it being necessary, but we found out exactly how significant this ommision was when we reached the front of the queue. Only one of the boys forms conformed fully with the requirements to enter Spain!
We managed to persuade the lady inspecting our paperwork that the boys did their swabs at the same time, and that the ommision was an accident. Thankfully after checking with her Supervisor she allowed us to board with the warning that the Spanish Authorities had the right to "refuse us entry". With this ringing in our ears, we boarded the Pont-Aven, filled our picnic basket and headed up to our cabbin.
We were allocated exactly the same cabbin as the year before, so it was all nice and familiar. As they boys set off to explore and play hide and seek, I set about the task of getting hold of Randox and arranging for a replacement of Eddie's PCR Certificate to be emailed to me. I spent over an hour on the phone, then several hours nervously waiting and trying (unscuccessfully) to get on the ship's free wifi.
After getting bored of hide and seek, spending all their money in the duty free shop and eating all the snacks, the boys booked tickets to watch the latest Fast and Furious movie in the Cinema. Tickets were £6.50 per adult and £5 per child. Bargain! One really odd thing we noticed; the movies with an older age rating were often shown earlier in the evening! The boys returned to the cabin around midnight, and we they all slept well until the following morning. I however was up all night worrying about Eddie's PCR test.
When we awoke the next morning we all took full advantage of the shower before heading down to the restaurant for breakfast. We were actually midly surprised that the "Full English" was better than last year.
We arrived in to Port around mid-morning. The PCR test email never did arrive. As we sat in the van waiting to disembark I was almost sick with nerves. Steve got out of the van and struck up a conversation with a man we later realised was Beverly Callard's partner. We heard all about the details of her upcoming TV show documenting her tour around Spain in a motorhome. In my front seat I kept flicking through all the paperwork in my file, as if touching it would make it all correct and conform.
The ship slowly, oh so slowly emptied. And from down on the very deepest deck we eventually crept out in to dazzling sunshine. The warm sky and blue water reflected golden sunlight sparkling and teasing us with it's brilliance, but my worry was dark. As we followed the queues of cars, lorries and motorhomes the sense of dread only darkened. After a long snaking 40 minute queue we reached the front checkpoint. The local policeman eyed me with dark heavy set eyes, he demanded our passports, and without even checking our faces, he stamped them and waved us through with a cheerful "Adios".
It took us another 2 full minutes to realise that there were no further checks. Nobody was going to ask us for our Vaccine or PCR Certificates. Nobody was going to refuse us entry! We had safely made it to Spain!
Top Tips for Travelling on a ferry.
1. Take a picnic basket.
If you want to save money on buying food and drinks, make sure you pack up what you need. We had breakfast booked in the restaurant, but took a selection of quiches, sandwiches and easy picnic food to snack on up in our cabbin. We also took wine and drinks for the boys.
2. Travel Plug adapter
The Pont-Aven is operated by Brittany Ferries, which is a French ship. All the plugs in the cabbin are European style so it is absolutely worth taking a plug adapter so you can use the power in the cabbin.
If you are partial to a hot drink, and don't want to pay restaurant prices for a nice cuppa, don't forget to take small travel kettle and what every "makings" you like. We've even considered cuppa soups and pot noodles in the past!
4. Charging Cables and Headphones
This one is probably a dead obvious reminder (especially if you have teenagers too), but don't forget your cables. The headphones are important if you are unlikely to want to watch or listen to the same thing. The cabbins are very small and there is no where to go if you want some peace and quiet, so a decent set of headphones might just save your relationships!
5. Travel Sickness remedies
If you are susceptable to motion sickness, or travelling through winter, it might be worth considering taking what ever medication, or remedies you know work for you. We've been really lucky and only travelled on relatively calm days, but I understand that in winter the Bay of Biscay can be pretty "choppy".
6. Wash bag
The cabin bathrooms do have complementary shampoo, showergel and towels, but if you are planning to wild camp when you arrive, this may be your last opportunity to enjoy a long luxurious (ish) shower! Take your favourite smelleys and really enjoy all that lovely hot water!
There is no connection to the outside world once the ship leaves the local waters. 24 hours is a looooong time to be away from the world especially when you are waiting for something important like a revised PCR Test Certificate. There are several "wifi hotspots" around the ship. they are awful, the connection is terrible and if you can connect it's super slow. The ship offers several paid options. I paid about £5 for enough premium wifi to stalk my emails! The streaming options were really expensive!
Bolesworth Estate, Cheshire
22nd - 26th July
If I could design a festival for the Radford Family, CarFest would be a pretty impressive match! Cars, Music, Food and activities for kids! What a weekend and it was all for Charity!
On our first full day in the festival Steve managed to arrange Press and Pit Passes. This gave us full access to the car paddock and right to the front of the stage in the pits!! The boys have never been to a festival event like this before and were absolutely blown away when they found themselves right by the stage for one of their all time favourite songs; The Fratellis “Chelsea Dagger”.
Friday night’s lineup on the main stage was probably my favourite evening. Fratellis, The Charlatans, Basement Jaxx were followed by headliner was Rag'n'bone man. The whole evening was incredible, but “Human” gave Eddie and I chills.
I’m not much of a car person, but even I could grasp the calibre of cars at this event! I loved the fact that £2.75million cars were on display next to Herbie, next to a 109 year old Rolls Royce, next to a Praga. We had a fascinating chat with the team that had brought the Praga car to the event. Steve and I had never heard of the brand and were treated to a potted history. When we found the boys and shared our excitement Eddie piped up;
“Oh, we have a praga at school”. Teenagers can take the wind right out of your sails.
We spent quite a lot of money at the fairground. George was a bit worried about the faster rides, so we started him off with gentle ones. By the end of the weekend he was screaming to go faster on the waltzer!
I spent less time than I expected down at the Kitchen Stage. I love cooking, and the lineup was impressive, but I was so busy exploring with the boys I just forgot about the cooking.
My absolute favourite moment of the weekend was seeing Paul Heaton and Jackie Abbot on Sunday evening. We took deckchairs and sat right at the back of the field and enjoyed watching the crowd sing along to old classics.
All in all we had a fantastic weekend, but there were a couple of “not so great” things…
We booked Early Bird tickets and should have been able to access a few special activities on Thursday evening. Unfortunately, as the ‘set build'' was delayed and we couldn’t safely access the festival site. When they realised the issue, the CarFest organisers sent a free ice cream van and silent disco over to our camping field. I’m pretty sure our boys preferred free ice cream to a bedtime story read by Chris Evans!
The campsite was very cramped. Although we were given a printed flyer showing how vans should be parked, the pitches were very small and many many vans were parked far too close together. Some vans had less than 1 meter between them. There was so much excitement and good will that nobody really seemed too bothered about having close neighbours (we were all probably too tired after walking and dancing the day away), however, if there had been a small fire it would have very quickly escalated and engulfed the whole site.
BUT, putting those two niggly things aside, CarFest North was a brilliant way to start our Summer 2021 Road Trip.
26th - 28th July
The Black Cock Inn https://www.blackcockmolland.co.uk/
Telephone Number: +441769550297
We left CarFest on Monday morning and started our journey south towards Plymouth and ultimately the ferry to Spain. Before we left Milton Keynes I had ordered “Home PCR Tests” for Eddie and Harry to use. Steve and I are double vaccinated, and George is only 9 so only the two big boys needed to test.
I ordered the kits from Randox Health as they are partnered with Brittany Ferries, and have an excellent drop box system. We stopped at a moto service station around 1pm where the boys completed their tests. I then registered the kits on the Randox website, packaged them up and dropped them in a dropbox right by the front door of the service station. The whole process took no more than 10 minutes, so after a quick trip to the loos we were heading south again.
The Black Cock Inn is deep in the heart of Devon, it serves pub food and has a family friendly campsite. George made friends with Harvey and had an absolute blast playing in the beer garden, swinging from trees in the main campsite and helping out in the pub by crushing cans ready for recycling.
Our plan was to hangout and chill for a couple of days before heading to the ferry. Unfortunately, the tiny hamlet is in a mobile dead spot and we had no data and then disaster struck!! Our aircon unit broke! Aircon in the UK is a lovely luxury. Aircon in southern Europe with 2 teenagers sharing a bed above a cab is an absolute necessity. We woke up on Tuesday and decided to find a Truma Service Centre to get it fixed.
Andy at Apple Campers was an absolute legend. He’s fitted many many aircon units, but this was the first time he had ever taken one apart to fix. The problem turned out to be a blown fuse inside the main unit, once the fuse was changed we were back blowing cold air! While we were there, Andy also fixed a rear panel that had been damaged and we bought a new Muggie to safely store mugs in.
Around 11am I received an email confirming that Eddie’s test had arrived at the lab and was being processed. It took another 33 minutes for the same message about Harry’s test to land!
After fixing the van we headed back to the Black Cock Inn. As the weather was wet and windy we decided to eat dinner at the pub. We wandered over and while we were waiting Eddie’s negative test result landed in my inbox - Hurrah! It took a further 2 nerve racking hours for Harry’s to land, in that time we ate dinner, drank 3 bottles of wine, spent more time getting to know Gloria the owner, Jenny and Kim who live next door (in the most stunning home), and Harvey’s parents Gemma and Liam.
Relieved, excited and a bit tipsy we left the pub and turned in for our last night in England.
Hereford Rowing Club
13th - 20th July
When Steve and Geeky Phil get together the conversations roll (and roll and roll). They feed off each other’s energy and come up with the most fantastic ideas. At some point in the last 3 months one of those ideas turned into an event. “Camp Creator” is a new concept of vanlife event, the idea was to get as many content (YouTube, Instagram, Tik Tok etc) creators together in a field to chat and share and teach and learn and socialise.
Steve set off to Hereford before the rest of the family arriving mid afternoon on Wednesday. Phil and his crack team of experienced stewards (from Motorhomer.com) Trotter, Jennie, Martin, Suzanne and our great friend Bruce were on hand to mark out pitches, hang banners and generally ease Steve’s nerves.
After the boys finished school on Friday, I picked them up and headed up the motorway to join Steve and the Motorhomer.com gang. Over the 5 days of the event, more than 60 vanslifers joined us. When putting the event together we started off with our friends, and people we enjoy watching and then opened the invitations to their suggestions. There was no specific minimum criteria, so we had chanels with just 10 subscribers right upto 300,000 followers and EVERYTHING in between. When we did the quick maths we decided that between us we probably had close to 1 million subscribers and followers between us!
The weather was stunning with temps reaching 30+ degrees. We spent hours playing in the river, chatthing “shop” and socialising around the campfire. There were no egos and no dramas, it was purely an event for like minded people to spend time chatting about building a following and a business based on social media.
10th July 2021
Another weekend at home, and another day trip to a Motorhome and Campervan show.
Our great friend Richard was helping out on the BroadLane Motorhome stand so our first stop of the day was for a catch up with him, and the BroadLane team. While we chatted with them, managed a 1st look at the 2022 Swift Edge 486.
This show felt much busier than the last two, with a lot more vehicles on show. The drizzly rain didn’t put a damper on our day and it was fabulous (as always) to bump into the lovely Tash from Life Beyond Bricks.
2nd - 4th July
Leaving Eddie at home to work on his Coursework and we packed up the van and headed to Oxfordshire to join the “South Central Self Build Get Together”. What a wonderful weekend!
While we were there, we had a good nosey through some absolutely beautiful van conversions and were blown away by the help and support the more experienced members were giving to newer members. Sometimes the support was hands on, sometimes it was all about boosting confidence. If you need help and support with your own conversion, this incredible facebook group would be a really great place to start!
As always, we met up with old friends and made lots of new friends! George and Rosie (Those Weirdos) were introduced to the joys of matchstick craft by the amazing Barry and his “men in sheds” organisation.
Evenings were spent chatting around the fires. This was our first time attending one of these events, and we could not have been made to feel any more welcome. What an amazing weekend.
I don’t think anyone there noticed we didn’t have a Self Build van, AND if they did notice they didn't care!