Just before returning from our Easter break in France we booked the next weekend at Wyton Lakes near Huntingdon. Hardstanding ensured an all weather pitch although the forecast was fairly good.
Within a few hours of arrival we decided to book a May Bank Holiday weekend here but due to our late decision making and the popularity of this site we could only book the late May weekend. Checking out the familiar surrounding area we found a couple of changes, Hartford Mill a Whitbread eatery adjacent to the site had re-opened after a fire last year with improved food and ridiculously low prices. The garden centre opposite the site entrance had been taken over and updated. The main attraction for us here is the new butchery and deli area where we could not resist leaving without purchasing a few pies and cakes.
Well one weekend merged into the next as mid week we booked again for Wyton lakes enjoying a lazy couple of days in rather unseasonable warm sunshine. On Saturday after an hour out on the bicycle and a couple of photo opportunities, a trip to the Three Jolly Butchers to sit in the beer garden for a couple of hours soaking up the rays had to be done. Oh and another stocking up with pies and cakes from the garden centre.
Meanwhile we booked a P & O crossing to Calais for the first May Bank Holiday weekend.
So the early May Bank holiday weekend started as well as Easter. Another record drive time to Dover with no stops at all. The Dartford crossing changes are working well for us. Following a lot of prior searching we were heading for Le Touquet with a plan to drive straight from the late night ferry crossing to the Aire in the north of the town, get a few hours sleep then then on to Camping Stoneham were we had pre booked a couple of nights. This was also an opportunity to test our new Sanef “Bip and Go” toll tag or “liber-t” on the short stretch of A16 motorway between Calais and Etaples. More on this later.
Well the best made plans don’t always work out. The Le Touquet Aire was jammed when we arrived at around 2.00 am, the backup location at the Equestrian Centre along the road was jammed too so we headed down to Camping Stoneham but found no early arrivals area here either. Stella Plage was the next destination and we eventually found the Aire, with one space left. After a bit of messing about on Saturday morning we found we could not pitch at Camping Stoneham until after 2.00pm so we returned to Stella for a lazy morning, bit of walking and had rather a good Filet de Bouef at Le Resto de Fred in Boulevard Labrasse. We didn’t do much once pitched up at Stoneham for the rest of Saturday but on Sunday had a rather enjoyable few hours in the town centre and a bit of a tour around the area on the scooter. Lunch at Jean’s Cafe – American Bar was at best, average, the centre of attraction being a seemingly real Harley Davidson “Night Rod” on a waist high plinth just inside the door. Only the second one I have ever seen, the other being in the South of France last year.
When we returned to Stoneham, the sun was so strong late afternoon I spent a couple of hours sitting outside. Camping Stoneham is mostly a static home park with about forty touring pitches. Just out to the south of town, about a twenty to thirty minute walk to the centre, the site is fairly quiet. The amenities are a little old but the showers had plenty of hot water. The pitches vary in size from one that looks like just a Romahome would squeeze on up to comfortably fitting a tag axle Autotrail. There is a proper motorhome service point on site too. Bread and croissants are available from a kiosk early morning and there is lots of tourist information in the reception. We will revisit this site later in the year.
Returning via Calais, we were targeted for the first time by an immigrant. We were topping up with diesel at the Total garage next to Pidou, as I walked round the back of the van to pay, a young man was trying the rear garage door. A bit startled, I was lost for words, he just turned and calmly walked back behind the building.
I ordered the “liber-t” tag as we use the French autoroutes quite extensively. There is no financial advantage, discounts on tolls etc, in fact there is a €5 admin fee each month the tag is used but linking from the Caravan Club site to register for an account saves a €10 set up fee. My rationale for using the tag is I believe it will save us time when travelling long distances. The times we have sat in queues at the toll booths waiting to pay only to see lorries we had overtaken an hour ago pass through the “t” lane on the right. I think we could gain close to an hour a day in the summer season. Anyway, it worked as advertised on this trip. I will report back in the summer when it has been used for a couple of weeks. BTW, Sanef are the same company that are operating the payment scheme on the Dartford Crossing, although this uses number plate recognition, there may be a possibility of using the tag in the UK in the not too distant future.
Filed under: France 2015, Reviews, Sites - France | Tagged: 675G, aire, April, aviano, burstner, calais, cambridge, Camping, camping car, dartford, dover, easter, hartford mill, Jean's cafe, Le resto de fred, le touquet, liber-t, night rod, nokia, peage, plage, sanef, stella, stoneham, Three Jolly Butchers, toll, wyton Lakes | Leave a comment »