'Imagination will take you everywhere'
The present gloomy Winter has made my mind drift back to the heady days of Summer which seem so far away. For our family Summer holidays were always a couple of weeks staying in the county of sea, sand and sun: Cornwall (which actually means sea, sand and rain). The perfect British stay-cation with the other 20,000 or so British families who couldn’t quite afford a foreign holiday. I’m not complaining, I’ve always loved Cornwall, but there is only a certain amount of National Trust gardens, beaches and coastal paths that one can visit. So in the summer of 2011, we decided to be spontaneous and do something different! We bought a large six man tent (none of us had ever camped before this holiday), hired a dog-sitter and packed up our car with lots of bags, four excitable teenage girls and two even more excitable parents. We drove to Dover, caught the ferry over to France and then set off exploring Europe for four glorious weeks.
And what a holiday it was! We ventured through the vineyards of Eastern France, drove up the Alps, walked along the banks of the Italian lakes, visited Tuscan hilltop towns, people-watched in Monaco, and sun bathed on beaches in the south of France. Overall on our whistle-stop tour of Europe, we visited three countries and covered 4173 miles in our car. It was something I had never experienced before – like a mini gap year! I learnt so much about different cultures and saw some spectacular sights. We all loved it, despite the (at times) uncomfortable camping experience; a few sleepless nights, a freezing night in the Alps, a thunder-storm in Paris, cold showers and lots of mud. But I loved the feeling of waking up and not knowing where I was going to sleep the coming night. In the morning we simply packed up the tent and continued on our journey – complete spontaneity!
In fact we had so much fun, we decided to do exactly the same thing last Summer (2012). So we set off exploring the parts of Europe we had missed on our last trip; Central/Western France and Northern Spain. Overall we covered 3982 miles – slightly less than 2011 but still just as fun! Afterwards we were really exhausted (and in need of a relaxing holiday) as camping is such an active and full on experience. The best part of both holidays is the amazing photos that document our travels; the scenery was spectacular and we are always digging out the photos to show friends and family! I don’t think anything can top our European road trips! Here are a some of my favourite photos from our adventures…