The weekend wasn’t looking great weather wise as we approached our first two nights of camping in our new VW LT Westfalia campervan. The forecast was correct with long spells of rain.
The first night was a night of confusion as we tried to establish a practical working solution in foreign territory. What came second nature in the smaller campervan, became a challenge in the larger van. We are seasoned campers now, and can quickly ascertain what may be a long term working proposition, and what will not stand the test of time. The second day we had a list of things to move or alter. Everything else will be minor tweaks as we work towards a long term package that will make time in this vehicle as seamless as can be.
Our September break always used to be the one we focused on as our main holiday. That said, the last three years we have taken advantage of extended holidays earlier on in the year to make the most of the good weather, but also avoiding high season. We have the luxury of being able to skirt the rush of the school holidays, and taking breaks after schools starts the new term in September, has always been a blessing to us as the usually extortionate prices plummet.
Lots of things have happened since our amazing and blissful getaway in June. Mandy’s Mum became seriously ill, and I have had to take some time off work with anxiety, stress and depression. We both considered cancelling this holiday for all of the reasons mentioned… but the treatment for Mandy’s mum looked promising, and we both agreed we could do with time away to just chill.
We set off with a campsite booked. It was my job to sort this, and I was overly chuffed that i had found a camp site that I felt would be perfect. The Caravan and Motorhome sites usually offer some of the best amenities, and the webpage pictures looked perfect, but it seemed remarkably cheap!
However, after a late start and obviously late arrival as a result, we were a little confused when we were asked if we had a toilet by the campsite reception. Mandy questioned this, and we found that the lower price was reflected in the lack of amenities. Electric was included, but no shower and toilet block.
So we spent a little time on our mobile phones trying to get another pitch local. We found one that looked like it would tick the box, but the phone went dialed with an out of hours message, and everything was looking like we wouldn’t be able to arrive late notice. our options were limited and the campsite was only a short drive away so we took a chance and drove half an hour to Puddledock Farm.
Fortunately, on arrival we were greeted by the wardens and given a healthy list of available pitches. We parked in a very roomy corner pitch a short walk from the shower blocks. We were really pleased as the website photos didn’t really do this campsite justice. Pleasantly surprised!
We were invited to a good friends 60th Birthday party a few months prior. It was being held in the city of York and we knew that it would be nice to hook up for the occasion, and combine it with a long weekend away in the van.
We had stayed at this club site previously, and knew that its close location to the city centre made ultra convenient.
We reached our final campsite before catching our ferry back to the UK on Saturday morning. The drive was a bit of a challenge and the second longest journey of the trip. We left Heidelberg early in the morning and the temperatures started to soar as we moved into southern, then mid France. On the last leg, the temperature started to drop substantially, and we arrived under grey skies. For the first time in weeks I had to put a long sleeved top on to keep the chill off. The clouds did eventually cleared in the evening and it turned out to be pleasant, although still a little chilly. But that was most likely to do with our climatisation over the last month.
The campsite wasn’t expensive as we could get discount using our ACSI card. We had a walk round on the first evening and were really impressed with the facilities and cleanliness of the campsite
After a good night’s sleep our first full day at the campsite was spent chilling. Mandy read her book by the swimming pool and had a dip and I choose to try and keep cool in the van.
In the evening we were invited to share a drink with an english couple who were, like us on the last leg of their journey. It was during these conversation that they mentioned a German WWII rocket factory…
It was an amazing surprise to find out that just 10 minutes cycle ride from our campsite was one of the most interesting historical places related to World War II . It’s called the Blockhaus d’Éperlecques and it’s where they started manufacturing the V2 rockets.
It got compromised by British and allied bombing once they realised what was being produced there, so never got to cause the damage it was designed for. I think this is the first time I have seen a structure of this size that has the scars of war with craters in the forest, and massive holes in the concrete from the specially designed “Tall Boy” & “Disney” bunker busting bombs.
” The biggest bunker in the north of France, witness of the 1939-45 dark age, from 1939 to 1945. Open to the public since 1973 and listed “Ancient Memorials” in 1985. A 90min-visit, alone or with your family, to discover and learn the history of the Eperlecques Bunker, the technologie of the V2 & V1 secret weapons, in a wooded parc, you’ll be impressed, interested and you’ll keep and unforgettable memory. “
Reception / ticket office consisted of a lot of interesting historic items.
Once we paid we passed through a small doorway where you were encouraged to follow a meandering along which were a whole raft of different and very thought provoking items. Vehicles were dotted here and there along with artillery, unexploded bombs, dummy bombs and german defence items retrieved from the D-Day landings.
Below is a small section of train track with two cattle trucks. One had footprints on the floor to depict how many victims were shipped to concentration camps at the start of the war. These gave the impression that although the truck was clearly carrying a good number of prisoners, there was at least space to breath. The second truck was full of footprints showing standing room only and barely enough room to move at all. This was brought to life by commentary and the sound of discomfort as it travelled to its destination where a return would not be an option for many.
It goes without saying the most interesting thing was the Blockhaus itself. The saddest part is that most of the casualties in the bombing would have been prisoners of war who were put to work building the missile factory.
I would highly recommend visiting this attraction to anybody that finds themselves in France via the Euro Tunnel / ferry at Calais or Dunkirk.
133 rue du Gandspette 62910 Éperlecques Pas-de-Calais / Nord-Pas-de-Calais – France Tel: 03 21 93 43 93 – Fax: 03 21 95 74