Nearly all of our family summer holidays with the children have involved camping around Europe. I'll sort them later and select the best bits!
1969 Holiday and conference in Scandinavia
August 1969 The first trip combined a trip for me to a conference in Denmark with a family holiday including Norway and Sweden. We were accompanied by Joy's step-cousin Stephen Maw (who worked as a hospital registrar, but died quite young from a heart attack) and wife Becky. Our vehicle was a Bedford CAL Utilabrake MTV398F, bought new at Neville's garage at this end of Mansfield. We turned the second row of (comfortable) seats round to face backwards. There were no seat belts in those days, we thought that facing backwards would be safer, but the kids always kneeled up to look forward so probably weren't safe. There were inward facing wooden seats at the back. We had a deluxe ferry overnight from Harwich (Olsen line) (4-berth luxury cabin plus a 2-berth economy, we were late booking, it was the only cabin left; we all sat in the luxury cabin and ordered free drinks) to Kristiansand (southern tip of Norway). Camping. Driving up through Norway we saw a moose, Rory decided to count moose but it was the only one we saw. It was a very rough road made of oil on gravel, all ruckled up at corners and junctions. We found a nice campsite at the head of a lake, lovely view but the water was freezing cold.Then on to Oslo (a huge site high above Olso with excellent washing facilities; it was light till midnight). Three good museums there - Viking boats, Antarctic vessel "Fram", and Kon-Tiki. Half of Becky's bikini vanished from the washing line, the mind boggles.
We crossed by ferry to Denmark for the NATO Advanced Summer School near Copenhagen from 11th. I was a "senior friend", I had persuaded them to give me that honour so that my expenses were paid. The conference included ;ectures by the famous Don Knuth (proving things about grammars, he had started but never finished 10 volumes defining the whole of Computer Sciencs, his lecture might start "Here's a theorem I thought up last night" or "I've disproved yesterday's theorem"), Tony Hoare (proving things about program execution) and Edsger Dijkstra. We camped near a noisy motorway, it was quiet on only one morning when there had been an accident on the motorway. We were near a small 50 foot hill called "Danske Schweiz" = "Danish Switzerland", it was the highest hill they could find in Denmark. I walked daily through the woods to the conference. On the last evening of the conference there was an open air venison barbecue with "dancing in the free".
Quote: This is a summer school, not a shopping expedition (Hans Jorgen Helms, director of the NATO conference in response to a question "What day do shops shut?" from participants).
Afterwards across by ferry Elsinore (the soldiers guarding the palace looked like toys) to Helsinborg in Sweden. Down to Ustad near Malmo (squirrels everywhere; warm but seaweedy Baltic; I couldn't find Angus on the playground, they were all blond). Up the east coast of Sweden to Vastervick (Angus "broke" his ankle, Joy spent the day in hospital with him; we got a plastic health card for him; Hamish was sick all over the bedding). Then a very wet journey, wet sleeping bags. Lake Vattern (stayed in a 4-bunk chalet; Joy ironed the sleeping bags dry; the Swedish army were on summer exercises and came and changed in full view in the communal room and made themselves beautiful for the local girls). A tyre blew on the next leg, we replaced 2 tyres at a "GummiFabrikRepairStation" or some such; he offered to fill the tyres with drugs if I wanted. Last camping at Gothenburg (Hamish refused to use the smelly camp loos). Rough 26 hour crossing to Immingham, Hull, Joy and I were sick, the kids loved it, Joy didn't appear till we were safe in port.
1970 Holiday Venice and round
This year it was us five plus Barrie plus Sylvia. We left VERY early (4am!) to drive round London before the rush hour, and stopped for a breakfast after we'd left the M25 at the "Wooden Spoon" cafe near Ashford. If we had been delayed, we could skip breakfast. This became a regular start to our holidays. The first day incolved 394 miles [Dover-Boulogne] and ending at Reims. We stopped at Camping at Aizelles, s small ferme site. By making a long day but reaching Reims, we really felt we were into France. The a day's rest and visit to Reims with its wonderful cathedral. [I have some galss from its west window collected by my dad at the end of WW1.] Then 270 miles via Schaffhausen (big waterfalls on the Rine, big fish in clear water) to Basel. We stayed with Jim Chaudri, ex-student. We visited the biggest toyshop in the world; it had a slide from the top floor to the ground floor.
Other stops this year included
- Zernez (first time, walked up path, lots of wild flowers);
- Venice (Chioggia. caught the ferry from the camp site across to Venice, hot, trip to glass factory. saw but didn't buy a "To live is to dance, to dance is to live" Snoopy sweatshirt. Bus loads of American girls arrived at the camp, then there were always queues at the loos);
- Salzburg. Camped on a school field, walked into town, lots of people were in evening dress, it was the Salzburg Music Festival. Trip round the castle.
- Heidleburg, camped by the river Main. Noisy hooters for railway works across the other side. Much river commercial traffic.
- De Panne (coast, camp site was exactly on French/Belgian border, one currency in the office, another in the shop) near Dunquerque.
- home via Boulogne, Dover, total 2705 miles, 28 mpg, all-in cost £212 = £1.50/person/day. Tickets £43, petrol £33 food £85 camping fees £25.
1971 Holiday to Yugoslavia
This year the main objective was Yugoslavia. I had a conference to attend in Ljubljana, so we combined it with a holiday. Down through Austraia and Trieste, and into Yugoslavia through Rieka to Kraljevica (first time). Yugoslavia was fairly restrictive, but not as bad as the eastern communist countries. There were very few petrol stations, and the petrol was bad quality and caused the engine to "pink". It was always slow service the few times we went to a restaurant, and every one had the standard government defined menu. But in our experience everything was off except just rasnici and cevapcici. The Kraljevica campsite was on rocky ground, it was hard to persuade tent pegs to enter the rock, we tied the ropes to the bushes. But the Adriatic sea was warm, clear and beautiful. You just had to avoid the spiny sea urchins on the underwater rocks, it took ages to get one out of Barrie's foot.
On to Ljubljana for Eric to attend the IFIP Internatioal Federation for Information Processing 71 conference. This was a 3-yearly conference, Pete King & I had given a joint paper in Edinburgh in 1968 wearing matching outfits. Also at the Ljubljana conference from my staff at Nottingham were Brian Ford (with Jan) and Mac McConachie (with Trina). Roland Stockelle from Vienna was there too. One night we had heavy rain and floods on the campsite, with huge hailstones, Brian went off to the conference while Jan and the rest of us dug ditches and repaired tents. Many tents on site were torn, and vehicles dented by the hailstones. There was a dodgy slide by the camp swimming pool, it tore your bathers as you slid down. The loos were always flooding, rarely worked. A local lad fancied dancing with Barrie until he saw the beard. The was a conference trip to the Postojnja Grotte caves. This was the year the dollar collapsed, and we changed all our dollars to dinars. We later had trouble changing them back.
1972 Holiday Yugoslavia and round
Summer holiday this year was us 5 + Barrie. Overnight Harwich to the Hook.
The ferry arrives at about 06h00, we drove 64 miles to Amsterdam. We spent the day there including a boat trip round the canals and harbour. Then straight on to a huge forested campsite near Arnhem.
Other campsites this year include
On to Germany, Westheim (S of Stuttgart up a small road). We had to ask a local to find the way out of the village the morning after.
- On to Austria Innsbruck (sloping camp site, the lady who looked after the showers in the day lead the drunken singing in the bar in the evening). One day rest, up a cable car (AS 340).
- On across Italy 4 hours to Kraljevica Camping Ostro. It's good here.
- We carried on down the Yugoslav coastal road, 6 hours of very hot travelling, there were lots of rusty wrecks below us where cars had fallen off the road. On to Zadar, an old walled city, part Arabic or Turkish with an middle eastern feel and market. Joy lost her sunglasses and broke Barrie's. From there after a seaside eveng meal we caught a warm overnight ferry [its predecessor had sunk with all hands last year] watching all the lights of Zadar recede into the distance. Lots of Italian passengers were carrying big boxes of washing powder home. It was a hot and primitive cabin, Hamish kept falling out of his bunk.
- We arrived at Ancona (Italy) at dawn. Campsites here are very busy, we found a beachside site at Fano, north of Ancona (the empty pitch we found turned out to be right next to a very noisy fast railway line which kept going all night. It was good swimming on a gentle beach, lots of shallow water. We stayed 3 days. Our meal punctuated by our limited Italian of "Finito?", "Si" "Graci".
- Eastwards across Italy to Florence, where we stayed at Camping Michelangelo near the Piazza Michelangelo along Strada Michelangelo. Good views from the campsite of the city and dome. It was a steeply sloping site with olive trees, which made Eric wheezy. We were not allowed in churches because we were wearing shorts and tee-shirts.
- Aosta Camping Bibione in the foothills of the Alps. We were across from a lake, wooden pier, mountain scenery.
- (fee for St Bernard tunnel SF 170) to Switzerland, Lake Geneva at Morges near Lausanne (very organised, clean and expensive). Day trips to Lausanne and Geneva, the world's biggest fountain wasn't on.
- Nuit St George (small walled site). Crazy golf (Hamish won), Hamish was frightened by the auto-flush long-drop loos.
- For a stopover in Paris we found the Camping Bois de Boulogne near the Arc de Triomphe. As we were being lead by a lady on a bike to our pitch we noticed a nice-looking empty pitch, and put up the tent very quickly before she realised we weren't following. She was cross, but too late. We did have lots of folk to erect a frame tent VERY quickly. Rory lost his honey teddy, we hoped he could speck French. We bought a hurdy gurdy record for a street player, he claimed that it was his last, then got out another for the next customer. We walked up one layer of the Eifel Tower. We drove a "Paris at Night" tour recommended in the Michelin guide, including going down a one way street the wrong way.
- Last day via Rouen to Fecamp. We used a pitch released by a large family tent, the man was a teacher of English who watched his family take their tent down, saying "I am the baroness and these are my servants". We went on a tour of the local Benedictine abbey, all we could afford to buy was somw Benedictine flavour ice cream with our last franc; none for us, only for the kids!
1973 Holiday to Prague and Vienna
Ferry Harwich to The Hook, this year with Barrie and his friend Pete Richardson. First stop 446 miles south to Camping Erlangen near Nuremberg, long drive but we shared. Driving on Czeckoslovakia via Amberg, there was a long wait 3h30 at the Czech border. The situation was just like a spy film, narrow bridge in a wooded valley, machine guns, thorough search. Just in case you thought you were safe, there was a second border a bit further on. Petrol (1 star?, no stars?) near Pilsen, the engine pinked terribly. We camped at Prague. Like all communist countries, you have to change a certain amount of currency every day. We visited Prague cathedral and palace on the hill overlooking the town, and the old city square. As usual in east Europe, incredibly slow service at restaurants with standard menus. We phoned and met Stanya (she'd had a holiday job in a HF or CHA hostel in Hope, Derbyshire where we'd run a folk dance course some years ago). It was a tterrible tatty and (for us) depressing apartment block of apartments, corridors full of rubbish. We bought a second-hand well used zither. You could tell that Pragus was a eautiful city, but at the moment it was dirty and uncared for.
- hen south, with thorough border search this time for stowaways, and with foot and mouth precautions, into Austria, Vienna. We stayed at camping at Laxenburg, where we met a Canadian member of the British TV wrestling team. We drove into Vienna, and rode on the dodgems at the Prater. A few miles north we went to Jenny and Roland's small summer house, Hamish fell asleep on the floor. They treated us to a meal at Grinzing in the hills north of Vienna.
- via Graz to Yugoslavia, down to Camping Zagreb (camp near a hotel). The cathedral has a nice tiled roof rather like St Stephan's in Vienna.
- via Vbrosko (petrol with coupon) to Camping Kraljevica again. Shopping in Rijeka. Met Steve+Judith? We had a small inflatable, paddled across the bay. Day on Krk island; the boatman lent Angus a capain's peaked hat).
- via Udine in Italy, over the Plocken Pass to Camping Dellach in Austria. In the traffic jam going up the pass, in pouring rain, we played "I spy", Hamish's choice was " WG", WG = Water Galore, we never guessed it. Visit Kalz, Lienz. Ski lift.
- via Gross Glockner (the glacier is melting and much lower than it was), Bruck, Mittersil to Germany, Munich (Camping site was W of town near autobahn start). Visited the Olympic site (Barrie lost a film from his camera?) and the BMW museum (impressive slide/audio show).
- Camping Anmansheim near Rudesheim. Tour of Asbach brandy distillery, Eric drank other people's samples; Rory said "Phew what a smell".
- to the Hook for overnight crossing, meal at the usual Indonesian restaurant/night club in the Hague.
2866 miles total.
1974 Holiday to Italy
Summer holiday Us 5 + Barrie. 150 miles to Harwich, overnight to the Hook. Stops included
- via Nassau to Wispertal. Day at Bad Schwalbach.
- via Freiburg to Basel, stayed at Hilary + Jim's apartment, and inspected their compulsory underground nuclear bunker. Walked to town, big toy shop with slide. Day trip to Schaffhausen. Joy + Hilary to Rheinfelden to see a friend. Eric to Jim's work.
- Met Barrie at the station (he can't take such long holidays as us), and 112 miles to Brienz. Day to Innsbruck, Grindlewald, Marmabruck. Trip to glacier sledging over Grimsel Pass.
- via Lugano to Porlezza, L Maggiore, Camping Paradiso, noisy Italian families, slippery pole competitions, we shouted Italian food names at the locals. Hamish had really bad sun burn on backs of his legs.
- to Zernez.
- via Lake Konstanz, Leichentstein, Schaffhausen to Freiburg Titisee. Very prosperous. Nice little streams down the streets in Freiburg, sailed folded paper boats down them.
- via Black Forest, Strasbourg to Luxembourg Itzijste Ste. Camp site terraces round a cold swimming pool, everyone except our kids heard us calling them with a duck call whistle. Day in Luxembourg city.
- via Eindhoven (Evoluon Museum) to the Hook. Meal at the usual restaurant at the Hague.
1975 Holiday to Spain
Depart Weymouth 09h45, arrive Cherbourg 13h45. We camped near Avranches, many sites were full, so we headed inland and found a small "a la ferme", cold showers. For breakfast we had fresh warm milk straight from the cow.
- via Chateaubriant to camping "Jarny Ocean". Small local circus. Smelly sewage plant.
- via La Rochelle and Bordeaux to Camping by the Grand Dune south of Arcachon. Lost 3 flop-flops and a ball in the sand, flew kites (nice lazy occupation), saw radio control glider. Surprised to see starkers bathing for the first time. It is a surprise to wake up on the beach surrounded by naked people playing football.
- via Mimizan Plage to San Sebastian, camping a little back in the hills. Met Barrie at Irun railway station, he'd come by train and changed at Paris. Police have guns. We went to a Basque Folk display, very like Morris dancing. All very professional. Fireworks. Good beach for playing, only the occasional sewage.
- via Pamplona (huge baguettes filled with raw ham, lasted us ages) to Huesca.
- to Andorra, Camping at Encamp by a river, very cheap booze. Whishy was 3 litres bottle for £2.
- to Lacanau Plage, sea, pines, sand.
- via Poitier, Chateauneuf to Richlieu (perfect rectangular small town). Visit to Chinon (good castle on a promontery).
- via Villedieu (bell foundry) to Le Havre, live fish restaurant! Depart 03h30!
- via Warminster, model village at ???. Total 2663 miles, 32 mpg.
1976 Angus broke his leg
1977 Holiday meeting Frankie
- to Aix. camped in field opposite Frankie's, took kids to the circus, the clown shouted to everyone "Look at the Englishman", route to Aix through "Tunnel du Chat". Hamish's birthday. Walked to the river with lots of French kids (tadpoes?); I can talk to them easier than to adults.
- via Mt Cenis Pass to Asti. Looking for a parking place I drove into market along between the stalls, found it was a dead end, had to reverse all the way out, visited the Asti winery. Swim in camp pool.
- via Gattorna to Near Pisa, hard to find, "Camping In the clouds" (and mosquitoes/flies). Maresca is nearby. Visited Pisa (frightening going up the tower). Wedding anniversary pizza in Pisa with Sylvia. Visited Florence.
- via Modena, Verona to Lazise (first time, camped on the front row, blown away in the storm) Angus chatting up local signorina/chicks (Elda & Rita) and posing on his skateboard (aloha). Day in Verona (21 miles each way), saw Juliet's balcony and tomb, and the arena. Shop at Citta Mercato. Watched game of tamborelle. Day trip to Sirmione, grande gelati. Bora wind!
- via Bolzano, Ofern Pass to Zernez (again). Walked up the mountain-side. Day trip to St Moritz. Day trip to Lavigno over dam and Bernina Pass, back through tunnel. Saw Honda "trans-alp" rally. Everywhere was iced up the day we left.
- via Flums, Zurich, Schaffhausen (famous waterfalls on the Rhine) to Strasbourg (dirty site Camping Baggersee, adjoining tent coughing and spitting over barbecue)
- to Luxembourg same site again "Itzijste". Packed in the rain.
- via Bastogne, Ghent to Zeebrugge, Restaurante Veni
1978 Folk Camp in Dorset
1979 Holiday to Hungary
Summer holiday Us 5 + Sylvia. 149 miles to Harwich, overnight crossing.
- via Arnhem, Konigswinter to Wurzburg. Campsite "Kalte Quelle" ("Cold Wave"?) by river Marne, where we found a caravan step once.
- via Nuremburg, Regensburg, Passau to Krems (new site "Camping Donaulande" next to the Danube, tried to find the shop where we had bought the Schrammel guitar in 1967, he had died only recently). Drove motorway into Vienna (approx 200km each way) for a day, ride on the big wheel, coffee at the Opern Passage, meet Jenny + Roland Stockelle for trip to a heurige. We had to wear hats in swimming pool. Met Otto and Trudi Rucheman again. Polite loos by the river at Krems with separate entrances for Ladies and Gents, but only one room inside.
- via Zurndorf, 90 minutes at the border, delayed by cows, to Zalakaroz (Hungary, we had hoped to be nearer to Budapest but all campsites from Budapest outwards were full, it was along the side of Lake Balaton this one has a sulphurous smelly health spa lake). One day (200 miles? each way) into Budapest. We got stopped by the police in the dark on the way back from a restaurant; the policeman had just a faint red torch, and checked our papers. Shopping at nearby Nagykanisza, shops have cement mixers alongside saucepans, tourists are not supposed to shop in ordinary shops, perhaps because they are subsidised. On the departure day the camp site had "lost" both our passport (then found it) and then the visa (a separate sheet of paper) was lost, we waited till they found them. Nice little cottages (end on to the roads) in the small villages on the route with flowery gardens. Customs man on the way out took one look at our load of luggage and said "mama mia". We all heaved a sigh of relief as we got out at the first cafe in Austria to stop & feel the freedom.
- via Gries, Villach to camping near Klagenfurt (Afritser See is a small lake, we watched another (honeymoon?) couple spend ages putting up a trailer tent with spirit level and all, I swam all the way across the lake, we bought and used a small inflatable boat). The local phone box was accidentally free for calls to UK, so long chats to various people back home! Trip to glacier, Grossglockner?. Eat at Restaurant Seeblick, cevapcici! Puppet museum.
- ne day shopping over the border in Italy in Tarvisio. We got a IL 5000 parking ticket, the ticket threatened to chase us across Europe and never let us into Italy again. In fact we sold the vehicle (was this the pale blue Transit minibus?) before our next trip! We sold it to someone (we never told him) about to head off to Italy!!
- via tunnel Spittal to Salzburg, traffic jams, Munich, Pfaffenhausen to Wurzburg (picked up caravan step).
- to Camping Arnhem? Watched Hawaii 5-O on camp TV while it rained. Utrecht. Boat trip round some smelly canals. Home via Flevoland. Camped at Amersfoort?
- via Hilversum, Zandvoort, Noordwijk (rented a 4 seater bike by the sea) to Hook.
- 50 miles home, broke down outside Homerton College Cambridge, the AA came and sorted us out. Stopped at a Little Chef by a cornfield. Total for the holiday 3300 miles, average 30 mpg
1980 Holiday to Lazise, Italy
Hovercraft from Ramsgate.
Summer holiday Us 4 + ?, no Angus. Bedford CF minibus. Wooden spoon cafe in Kent on the way to Dover. Reims Aizelles for Hamish's birthday, Nottingham Forest winners of European cup?? ??Charles and Di wedding poster, Camping a la ferme, we scrounged food off neighbour's barbecue. Hamish's birthday (presents included Hamster bowl). Trip round Mumm's distillery, Rory had a hangover.
- past Atilla the Hun's camp to Camping "Au feu de Bois" Kaysersburg. Rory poorly; champagne? Used nearby public swimming pool. Camping Colmar (new site in the mountains, no-one to pay) in Vosges mountains.
- via Leichtenstein, Arlberg tunnel to Camping Zams near Innsbruck. Up the cable car. Good storm.
- via Innsbruck, over the Brenner and small roads to Camping Fossalta at Lazise (second time). Camped on front row. Rory got caught out in storm in the middle of the lake. Got a big shock off the boom when lake struck by lightening. 'Rescued' by Dutch(?) man on wind glider. Ice van announces when it arrives 08h00 "El giaccio et arrivato" etc in 4 languages. The ice cream boat rings its bell when it comes to the beach. Good bora storm. Hired pedalo IL 6000.
- via Malcesine, tyre bulge, via Telfs.
- to Port-sur-Soane, one of the grotty campsites.
- via Langres, Vitry-le-Francois to Reims Aizelles ferme again. Visit Piper & Heideck champagne.
- via breakfast at Peronne, Mammouth at St Omer, Calais to Ramsgate hover. Tyre burst on M1 near Bushey. 2450 miles total 26 mpg.
1981 Holiday ti Lazise, Italy again
Summer holiday Us 4 "Alcotours 81 Euroholic" with Sylvia. 390 miles (Dartford toll 40p, Wooden Spoon cafe, hovercraft Ramsgate to Calais) to Reims near Aizelles as before. Hamish's birthday Friday 24th there, Pommery distillery. Charles+Diana wedding.
- to Camping Silvretta Bludenz? near Payerne.
- past tobacco crops to camping near Camping Silvretta Bludenz? near Asti.
- via Camping Arcola on the Italian coast near Genoa to see Dave Gray (our kitchen woodwork), not our type of site.
- Then Lazise, 14 days there. Bora not so strong. Lost and found snorkel. Several trips to Citta Mercato for shopping, past all the prostitutes, and bought spit wood roast chicken outside. Grande Gelatis. Bought moon boots, played cards, the winner wears the moon boots.
- to Camping Silvretta Bludenz? near by a Lake at Sisikon. One day to Transport Museum at Lucerne. Boat trip on the lake. One day up the Rigi, watched hang glider nuts leaping off. Had to abandon camp site (after we'd gone to bed, the church bells started ringing non-stop), slept in church hall, given peppermint tea, loud boulders coming down the river, loud trains and workmen. All OK but damp the next day, one torch was still on.
- past famous Le Corbusier chapel Ronchamp near Vesoul to Camping at Langres on the city wall, dried out the tent.
- via Chalons-sur-Marne, Fort de la Pompelle to Reims Aizelles, crepes made by the camp lady. Day trip to Laon. Passing car said "Do you want to see my bunquere?", went to see bunker where Hitler & Rommel stayed at one point in the war, being turned into a night club.
- home 4 hours to shopping at St Omer Mammouth. 1 hour to Calais, hover 13h25 (choppy crossing) to Ramsgate, 187 miles up M11, Little Chef at Bar Hill. home 19h30
1982 Holiday to Swiss lakes
To holidays. Summer camping holiday Us 4 + Sylvia. [5-star insurance £45] Hovercraft crossing, on to Reims Camping Silvretta Bludenz? near Aizelles again. Crepes and jambon by the camp lady.
- On to Wintertur (Switzerland) 26th July via Gothard pass to Lazise. Clare+Alan Page + co visited. Day visit to Venice. Lazise open air cinema James Bond with German dubbing. 230 miles
- n to Camping Brunnen, Switzerland. Mountains all around. Right next to Lake Lucerne. At one point flashing lights appeared at the head of the lake, and a local mad windsurfer immediately went out! A black storm came down the lake, with an amazing storm. The wind destroyed many of the other tents on the site, we (all of us together) hung onto the frame inside of ours. It took a couple of days to dry out.
- via St Omer Mammouth to Calais, Hover back to Dover, call at Bournemouth, overnight at Don + Mary's.