Manchester to Greece

In an earlier entry I identified that I have not yet decided which way to go upon arrival in France. Indeed, as of now I have not even decided whether I should take the channel tunnel or a ferry when I leave England. Currently I am inclined to go East from either of Calais or Boulogne and follow a route along the lines identified in the map below (with the intent to winter in Greece) but this is still subject to change as the numbered “points of interest” are really just places that I have researched and am interested in visiting and, as has been said before, these may well alter during the course of the journey. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said “Life is a journey, not a destination” and this very much summarises what this particular tour of Europe is about – the journey. Notwithstanding the above, it will be interesting to see how the journey ultimately compares:-

We’ll review the return options in due course.

Dave J           24 August 2017



Not good. Took “The Van” for a second “test” wild camp and, for the second time in a row (the first was an overnighter in Scotland a few weeks back), I was unable to cook anything or even make myself a brew.

By the way, I reproduce below a photo from the wild camp I enjoyed in Scotland last time. It was off the A93 (and not a midgie in sight) – next time I will make a note of the map coordinates – and it was a beautiful place to wake up to.

After almost an hour reading the manual and pressing cooker buttons (over and over again) I still couldn’t get the cooker to work. A further half hour internet search of SMEV cookers and what to do if they don’t work produced nothing. Silent prayers with and without expletives to the cooker god all failed. Good job I keep a stack of wine and a variety of cheeses in the vehicle!

A visit to the local petrol station this morning and a chat with someone who knew what they were doing confirmed that the LPG (propane) tanks were completely empty. What a complete idiot I am! I rather foolishly believed that the vehicle would come complete with filled gas bottles.

The moral of this particular blog is that, when it comes to cookers, you should trust nobody and check everything (particularly the basics) and, perhaps most important, make sure there is always wine and cheese to hand. I think too that a couple more wild camps are advisable before I start the European Tour (although time is fast running out before I must depart).

Dave J        15 August 2017

“The Van”

“The Van” is a second hand 2015 Exsis-t Hymer 564 with, when I bought it, just over 8,000 miles on the clock. It is a left hand drive Fiat 3.0 Ducato TD 180hp (Euro 6 with Automatic Transmission) on an Al-Ko chassis – which suggests it is relatively light and has some poke.

It is just under 7 metres long and 2.3 metres wide, with a reasonable amount of storage space (including a large two door garage under the double bed) which is just as well given the amount of climbing gear, SCUBA equipment and various home comforts I insist be taken on tour, to say nothing of alcohol.

It is winterised and fairly well kitted out with Truma Combi 6 heater, 2 leisure batteries and solar panel, interior LED lighting, a Gaslow refillable cylinder system with 2 x 11 kg gas bottles and various other odds & sods that will provide a degree of flexibility and independence (such that I don’t have to constantly manoeuvre from one official campsite to another) – the Americans call it “boon-docking”.

I’ve had a Pioneer Sat-Nav system installed but have yet to determine how it works. In practise runs so far it has demonstrated a proclivity for the more circuitous routes home.

Some pictures of “The Van”:-