Putting a toe in the water

The mattress in the rear traverse bed in our van has never been great and is property knackered now so we'd originally planned on getting a replacement made. That was going to be about £500 though so we decided to construct our own replacement using a couple of memory foam single mattresses from Ikea. Today we finally got around to cutting and fitting those so fingers crossed that it's an improvement. If not we might switch to the overcab as that has thicker foam and also hasn't really ever been used.
We're finally heading off today - planning on using one of the Britstops off the A68 tonight (maybe in the Kielder area) before heading to a CL between Lincoln and Newark for a couple of days. After that we've a couple of nights in a CS near Epping (as we've tickets to the see the comedian Kevin Bridges in London on the 14th) before heading to catch the ferry from Dover to Calais on the 15th.

No plans after that although we might head to the Aire at Le Touquet for a couple of days to work out where to go next.
The Britstop we used last night was good - nice old coaching inn at the side of the A68 with nice beer and food. Despite the stay itself being free it's not the cheapest overnight option because with food and drink we were about £35. Still - nice to spend the cash on good food etc. rather than on a campsite with facilities we didn't need for an overnight anyway.

Today we've moved further south to a little Caravan and Motorhome Club CL between Newark and Lincoln. No shower or toilet on the site but it has everything else you could possibly want. There are 5 hard-standing pitches backing onto their own fields, with each pitch being fully serviced with mains water, EHU and grey waste disposal. There is also free WiFi, a chemical waste disposal point, a very well stocked information hut (even has lots of books and DVD's for loan) and even electronic gates with a secure entry code set-up. Not at all bad for £15 a night really. We're just planning a quiet evening before heading into Lincoln on the motorbike tomorrow.

The overall parameters of the trip is going to be changing a bit however, as I've been offered an interesting job in Edinburgh and have decided to take it. That means we're only going to be out for a couple of months this time as I need to be back in early November to start that - however it's only deferred the intention to take a much longer trip at some point. If nothing else this trip will help us get a handle on the finances as well as some of the practicalities of a longer trip.
Worked our way down to Bordeaux now, using a combination of Britstops, CL's and CS's, Aire's and France Passion sites. Tonight we're on a campsite for the first time this trip - still cheaper than we're used to though as it's outside school holidays.

Will probably do a few nights near Biarritz before heading into Spain later this week.
Well we wandered along the north coast of Spain then headed down into Portugal with stops in Porto, Lisbon and then an overnight in a lovely free Aire in the hilltop town of Monsaraz, close to the Spanish border.

We then spent a few nights in a campsite just outside Gibraltar (was useful shopping in the Morrison's there!) before heading up to Granada.

We're slowing wending our way north now but have been in a very nice (and, with an ACSI card, cheap) campsite in Santa Pola - just outside Alicante - for the last week. We'd only planned to be here a couple of nights but it's a lovely area and the campsite is excellent so we decided to chill out for a bit and stay longer. Most of the campsites we'd used so far have been very quiet but this one is pretty much full (and it's quite big with over 450 pitches) as it caters to people over-wintering here. It's mostly Danes, Swedes, Dutch and Germans but there are a few other Brits here. I can certainly see the attraction - in fact if I didn't have to be back in Edinburgh in early November to start a new job I'd definitely have booked in here for the winter.

It looks like there are loads of wild camping options on the beaches between Santa Pola and Alicante - we took a ride round the coast on the motorbike earlier and there were quite a few motorhomes there.
wow look at those views ... pouring down with rain here hasent stopped for 3 days ... im not jealous at all lol hope your having a brilliant time folks :thumb:
We're still working our way back North. Currently in Aachen after spending a couple of days in the north of Luxembourg, with a few days in the Paris area before that. Bloody cold now though. I last filled our 13kg Gaslow LPG tank 5-weeks ago before we crossed into Spain and it was still more than half full when we got to Paris. It was almost completely empty this morning though as it's amazing how much gas gets used with the heating on. Was pretty cheap (0.616EUR a litre) at the final services in Belgium before we crossed into Germany though.