It was a gorgeous sunny day and somehow, with 100s of miles ahead of us, we ended up with an unplanned stop at the beach.
Having fiddled around with tyre pressure, mostly for reassurance, we missed our 6 am ferry by about 15 minutes. The majestic DFDS Seaways ferry was just finishing loading as we arrived to the check-in and she was gently pulling away from the dock as we parked in our lane ready for the next ferry 2 hours later.
There was nothing to do!
In fact I was glad that the very helpful check-in lady managed to squeeze us onto the following crossing.
We snoozed, chatted and sang to kill time. Gradually the all the lanes filed up around us, DFDS Delft Seaways docked, unloaded it’s load and we drove on.
Getting on with Campy was easier than I thought. We were on the lorry deck as a high vehicle, no sharp corners to take, just drive on up the ramp, over a few humps.
On board time flies quickly: Max, Dadonthebrink and I watched as we pulled out of Dover on this calm morning;
It was such a beautiful morning that we spent more time than usual on the open deck watching the birds and the boats we past.
Angelina and Hugo were keen to watch the film, Tinkerbelle, in the movie corner. As frequent travelers my kids know the boat, know the lay of the decks, so we were happy to leave then under strict instructions not to leave the movie corner.
Later, after our return, they all went to test out the new play corner. (This had moved from just aft of the self-service restaurant on starboard side to further back on the port side, near the duty free shop.). It’s changed from a place kids could run & climb walls – on rope nets- to an open layout, with more exploratory play equipment to make noise.
It was chaotic!… that bit hasn’t changed. But what can you expect from kids who’ve been couped up in a car for who knows how long and are let out to play?! That’s what it’s for and I love it.
I was knackered from the night’s preparations and driving, so I decided to retreat to the VIP lounge, leaving Dadonthebrink with the kids. (Naughty, I know!)
The cost of £15 is well worth the calm sanctuary the lounge offers. It’s perfect to nap in the recliners or enjoy a cappuccino and try the fruit and freshly made pastries which is all included in the price…I may have done all above.
In my defense I was driver on duty for the next 4-5 hours too.
When we docked into Dunkirk, disembarking with Campy was as easy as getting on.
Our first stop was the fuel station (1.25 Euros per liter compared to £1.35 of course we fuel here if it’s on the way anyway!) Then off we drove, to the Netherlands, another 200 plus miles for the day. I had hoped the kids would be calm after running around on the ferry, but no they were lively and feeling hot.
It was coming up to lunchtime and we’d missed a proper breakfast and only had snacks. We were looking for a rest stop to have a picnic. Then someone in the car asked why can’t we have a picnic on the beach, as we were following the coast and saw big brown info signs reminding of us of this fact repeatedly.
Within an hour of disembarking from our ferry we had fresh French cheese and croissants and took the exit off the motorway to Nieuwpoort. We were going only by the name- if it’s called new port, then there must be a harbour at least, if not a beach.
And this is how we ended up on a gorgeous sandy beach in Belgium on a sweltering hot day. We were lucky that we found a place to park with Campy (although in parking bays, I’m not sure we were totally legally parked. There was a sign saying no campervans, but we’re a caravan, so choose to ignore this.)
We ate, played in the sand, at the edge of the water, watched the world go by for a little bit.
It was a great way to start a holiday of touring in Europe… being spontaneous.
(Also see my postcard from Nieuwpoort)
Have you ever ended up somewhere unexpected on your holidays?
We travelled DFDS Seaways. Unfortunately, our usual DFDS annual multi-trip tickets, with their ultimate flexibility, can’t be used if you have a caravan in tow. Even so our crossing was reasonably priced, despite booking it quite late (the week before): the tickets cost £125 return courtesy of DFDS. We just didn’t have the option to change the dates (without extra charge) as we usually do on a Multi-trip booking.
The VIP lounge access is £15, but would’ve only been £12 if I booked in advance. No children under 9 are allowed in the lounge, so it is a nice and quiet spot; perfect if you want to guarantee a more restful time away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the ship. I’ve used the lounge a number of times in the past too to catch up with myself.
Before setting off I checked out rules specific to towing and found quite varying speeds and requirements. All I can say is do your research and check all your papers, insurances, including small print!