Poles, Polish and THE ROADS! OMG the roads. Been home a week now and finally getting round to writing a bit about our trip. All did not go according to plan with the fridge refusing to run on gas before we had even left the drive. Quick detour to Downtown to buy an electrical cold box. Had a good run to Canterbury and our first ever Aire. Was fine and not at all noisy, we both slept really well. Up early to get to the Chunnel and to have breakfast. A bit of a wonder round the shops too. The Chunnel is a great experience in the Motorhome. Very comfortable way to travel. Beats anything else hands down. Our first port of call was Arras to find Steves Great Uncle Eddie, killed in WW1 at just 20 years of age. We have letters from the war office and from people he served with. I think we are the first family members to visit. Very sad and emotional. Especially as he was an apprentice cabinet maker. We have his exhibition piece that won him a gold medal. 2. Nd night we spent on an Aire in Lens. Again a nice site with roomy bays and very quiet. It's next to McDonalds so hubby pinched their wifi....cos The one he bought didn't work. Virgin. ( got our money back, but not the extra it cost on my IPhone)! Day three we were heading to Düren in Germany. Stopped to get petrol and the MH wouldn't restart....into the shop to buy jump leads, then accosted two lovely young men for a jump start. ( Steve saw them make the international sign for payment, and thought cheeky sods for wanting paying to jumpstart us) they were actually asking if I knew how to pay for the petrol. Successful jump start, handshakes all round and off we went again....but Winnie wasn't happy. Steve nursed her to Düren but she died on us in the middle of town. Such fun putting out the warning triangles ( which everyone ignored and were finally flattened by the wind of a passing fire engine on an emergency call). Hi Viz jacket donned and I then proceeded to direct all the blind Germans round our sick Winnie....including the Polizei, who felt I was doing a great job and carried on. Breakdown arrived, jump started Winnie and directed Steve to turn left and then immediate left into the forecourt of a 'Halfords' style garage. I was told off for directing the traffic as apparently it was very dangerous. Two days and the purchase of a bucket later, a new alternator and battery were fitted and we were off again, with many good wishes and crossed fingers I might add. Have to say the guys were great. They plugged us in for the entire time and gave us water when needed. They couldn't have been kinder or more helpful. However, to add to our woes Emily ( our sat Nav) went on strike. Obviously all the attention given to Winnie's innards seriously pissed her off. So much so she decided to go off road, then spent her time 'recalculating' and saying 'please drive to highlighted route'. We were on the autobahn heading for Gutersloh. As we had lost two days we decided to forego the 'plan' and do longer drives as we were due in Poland on the Monday. Saturday night was spent on the Aire at the back of the Froli Factory. It's a lovely quiet site with full facilities, picnic tables and only one other van. Woke to birdsong and sunshine. As we knew we were in for a long drive we set up the slow cooker. The smell of Spanish Chicken casserole kept us company and was rather lovely. Next stop Angermunde. A long drive of 6 hours plus with the roadworks round ( Hamburg? Might be Hannover, damn it I always get those two mixed up) then eventually arriving at the base of the old wall of this very pretty town. Parking is free, electricity is on a meter. No water or sewage dumping but a popular Aire and a very pretty ancient old town. We loved it. We dined on a very welcome and delicious crockpot meal. Just the job at the end of a long drive. Poland beckoned, so we vowed to return on our way home for a good look round. We thought we would have a drive of around 3.5 hours on the Monday, but we had neglected to take into account atrocious road sign directions, terrible road surfaces and the vagaries of attempting to pronounce the unprounceable! So we took the scenic route....a lot! WARNING.....there is one piece of road from Berlin into Poland that is dire. We thought we had travelled some bumpy roads in South Africa, but this wins. Hands down. So ladies, fasten down your boobs. Everyone check your fillings, stick your glasses on to your head, hold your wigs on, and be VERY careful opening any cupboards afterwards. I wouldn't use a crockpot either! Upon completion, and the need for a strong coffee.....don't bother. We did. It was warm, weak and gritty. Because it's standard practice in Poland to make instant coffee from proper ground coffee. One teaspoon in a cup. Fill with hot water, jobs done! Eventually we reached Klucaewo in the Lake District of Poland and our family there. So lovely to be able to relax, and be looked after by my son and his in laws. The welcome and love we received was, well I'm still overwhelmed by it. We spent a wonderful, carefree, cosseted, 10 days at this old farm house on a serviced pitch ( to all intents and purposes) being enchanted by the grandchildren and just enjoying family time. It was blissful. Then we headed back to Szczecin and Camping Marina. They don't take bookings, you just turn up and find a space. So we did. There's no wild camping in Poland and no Aires, but it is a beautiful country. The people are friendly and helpful. You notice a distinct drop in wealth in Poland. A lot of the property is run down, especially as you move further away from the German border. The food is lovely. Made with local fresh ingredients. Soup is popular, but it's not like ours. Loved Gewampie ( that's how it sounds, not necessarily how it is spelt. There's probably a 'z' or two in there. But it's basically, cabbage, pork/ beef mince, onions braised in the oven. Ours was layered like lasagne, but it's name derives from making it look like little pigeons, so the meat mixture is stuffed into the cabbage leaves traditionally. We would have explored Szczecin with our son ( that was the plan) but first off the Engine warning light came on on Winnie ( the fan belt had broken) so we were stuck again and then Christopher had a bump and was unable to drive his car. Bit gutted as it was our last few days with him and our grandchildren. Natalie is 7 and Hannah is 6 months. Needed more time with them damn it! Anyway one of Christopher students sorted Winnie. Hopefully our traumas with her and her innards are behind us. We made our way back to Angermunde and were very lucky to get on the Aire. It takes 5 MHs but that night there were a total of 9 MHs there. No one seemed bothered though. We spent the afternoon wandering the old town. So pretty. Full of 18/19 century houses. All original and untouched by wars and occupation. Made me imagine what Beethoven houses were like. I will put some photos up. The old town ends at the edge of a beautiful and surprising lake. Loved it. After that we headed back to Gutersloh. We spent 3 years there when Steve was in the RAF. Our son was born there, so the urge to revisit was strong. Oh dear! Steve things he must have been permanently drunk, because he didn't recognise any of it. He drove round it every day carrying out his duties as a RAF Policeman, but it's changed so much. Mind you we left in 1982! But even so. Two huge hyper markets have gone. The trees are huge and you would think you would remember crossing a railway line when you walked to the shops. We found where we used to live, but it's very built up. The fields have gone. It was interesting, but bewildering too. Our return journey was uneventful, the fridge was now working thanks to Marek ( sons Father in law) who fixed it for us.....I think the last Aire we used was our least favourite. We will look elsewhere next time. It was safe and everything, but jammed in and big. We do like small intimate gatherings!