Parts & Accessories

On the Road at Last

27th May 2022 | Marcus Leach
A peaceful silence fills the air, broken only occasionally by the chatter of birds flitting from tree to tree. It’s hard to imagine the horrors of war that once consumed the land around us. How a place of such beauty and tranquillity was once the scene of a living hell for so many young men.

As we stroll around the American War Cemetery in Northern France, the second part of our world war visits having already been to Flanders a few days previously, we are all reminded of the fragility of life. It’s a timely reminder as we set out on our own journey that we cherish every day we have together.

 

It’s not that we ever imagined wasting days on the trip, far from it, yet seeing the graves, hearing the stories and knowing what so many gave fighting for our freedom is a stark reminder of how precious life is and the need to make the most of every moment.

 

It’s not, we believe, to say that every day on the Big European Odyssey has to be packed full of activity. As even at home, we don’t live like that, but rather to be present in every moment we have, even the simple ones, to value each opportunity and never take anything for granted. As we have already found, some days that’s doing little more than spending time at the campsite, revelling in each other’s company, enjoying the weather and making the most of the facilities – which for Harrison & Dorothy invariably means the swimming pool.

Our visit to the American War Cemetery in Northern France

It’s taken a few weeks, but we are slowly finding a natural rhythm to our days as we adjust from holiday mode to this actually being our life now. It’s a strange feeling waking up each morning and knowing that we have at least a year ahead of us rather than the usual few weeks a holiday affords. But it’s a feeling we are enjoying, as with it comes the excitement of knowing there are endless possibilities of how we fill each day, never planning too far ahead or closing the door to any opportunity.

 

It’s also taken us a little while to get to grips with the day-to-day running of the motorhome. We packed it as best we could be leading up to our departure, not an easy task when packing for such a long trip. However, we’ve quickly learnt that there’s no substitute for actually being away and living in the motorhome to find out what actually works best. But we are slowly getting there, even if it has meant offloading a few bits we now realise we don’t need.

 

One aspect of the new motorhome that we all love is the rear lounge, having previously had the Autograph 74-4 with the permanent bedroom at the back. The second lounge at the back opens up much more space, which is important when living in a motorhome with two small children. From day-to-day, multi-functional living perspective, it’s been a revelation and is a brilliant use of space.

Our previous Bailey motorhome- the Autograph 74-4

Northern France is, the area around Caen aside, not somewhere we have explored before, so it’s been great to start the trip in a familiar country and discover new areas. Of particular appeal has been our time on the banks of the Seine on the edge of Foret de Brotonne, where we based ourselves at a wonderful little site on the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s European network, Camping de la Foret. It didn’t take me long to discover some wonderful cycling trails, both paved and off-road, which are easily accessible and ideal for those with e-bikes as well.

 

Travelling with two small children has meant that we have tried to limit ourselves to one main activity a day, so as not to feel like we are rushing through things. Not to mention it being busy enough already being on the road as a family, without trying to cram too much in. After all, we are away for long enough to take our time, savour each experience and know there will always be something we miss, but that’s a good reason to come back again one day.

Omaha Beach Memorial, Northern France, 30 miles from Caen

Our route will now take us down the west coast of France before we cross the Pyrenees, a part of the journey that we are all very much looking forward to. On Instagram we are @marcusleachglobal and @our.roaming.odyssey, Twitter is @MarcusGLeach and our YouTube channel is The Big European Odyssey.

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Packed and Ready to go