Looking across the channel to our future – Calais, France

We've done it and we've had a blast!

This is it folks! Dave the motorhome is sitting under thundery skies in the aire which looks out at the port of Calais (N50.96644 E1.84418). Across the grey water we can make out the white cliffs of Dover in the distance, shining out from under dark, stormy skies. Huge ferries come and go just a hundred or so feet from us making Dave feel very small, and perhaps a little bit insignificant, after all tomorrow he’ll no longer be on an adventure around Europe.

DSC09596Today we’ve been shopping. In addition to our €150 trip to Lidl yesterday, we popped into the Carrefour at Cite Europe, next to the Euro Tunnel terminal) and spent €180. Dave’s weighed down with tasty tinned French food, little bottles of beer and copious amounts of wine. We’ve heard things are expensive in the UK, so we’re stocked up ready. His tank is full of cheapish French diesel (after Morocco and Tunisia no diesel seems cheap) and he’s ready to go. We’re ready to go too. Ready to face the next challenge that comes our way.

Dave follows the motorhome parking signs to Cite Europe
Dave follows the motorhome parking signs to Cite Europe
So much wine and only one mouth each!
So much wine and only one mouth each!
Calais aire right next to the port
The Calais aire, right next to the port

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It's a tad windy here today
It’s a tad windy here today

These past two years have been a blast, ‘one helluva ride’ as Jay keeps saying, and that is the best way to describe them. We’ve had such an amazing time; learned loads about ourselves, about Europe and its history. We’ve met some amazing people and made friendships that will last a lifetime. We also have heaps of memories and stories to bore the socks off anyone we meet, but I won’t lie to you, there are tears in my eyes as I type this. I am sad it’s all coming to an end, however in a few days I know I’ll look back and be able to fully appreciate what an amazing experience we’ve had.

The clippers tackle Jay's beard once more
The clippers tackle Jay’s beard once more
Charlie and Jay looking out to sea
Charlie and Jay looking out to sea
We've done it and we've had a blast!
We’ve done it and we’ve had a blast!

We’ve been on the road for over 700 nights, visited 23 countries, stopped for diesel 108 times, filled up our LPG tank 25 times, slept in 494 different places, driven 29,773 miles (47,915 kilometres), been into 7 vets with Charlie and in total spent over €33,000 (I’ll post a full cost breakdown over the coming weeks as I know people find these useful for planning their own trips). This site’s attracted 352,391 visits. We’re so glad that we’ve written about it every day, as we seem to have done so much and it is hard to remember it all. We’ve slept in Dave on mountain passes, in the Sahara desert, on the side of volcanoes, on sandy beaches, in and around ancient sites, and even on the sea – these things you can only do in a motorhome, and I can’t recommend it strongly enough.

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This fella might have caught himself the 3pm DFDS sailing to Dover!
This fella might have caught himself the 3pm DFDS sailing to Dover!
The local seagulls struggling to get anywhere
The local seagulls struggling to get anywhere
Playtime on the beach as the ferries roll in - literally!
Playtime on the beach as the ferries roll in – literally!

We’ve had huge ups and downs, and I’m not just talking about the roads in Switzerland, but we’ve done it – in fact we’ve done way more than we ever planned to do. So what happens next? We catch the ferry tomorrow morning and will be home in the arms of our families in Nottingham tomorrow afternoon. Dave is booked in for a well deserved full service and MOT on Thursday, and we plan to keep him, even if he has to go into storage for a little while. Our house is rented and we plan to keep it that way for now, so we’ll be living in Dave or in family and friends’ spare rooms/sofas for a while until we sort ourselves out. We hope to get around the UK for a bit of a tour over the next couple of weeks, then knuckle down to find jobs and top up the sickly bank account.

Calais beach, deserted today
Calais beach, deserted today
Fingers crossed the weather improves before tomorrow or it'll be sick bag at the ready for me
Fingers crossed the weather improves before tomorrow or it’ll be sick bag at the ready for me
Don't worry, it hasn't grounded - but it did have me worries for a moment
Don’t worry, it hasn’t grounded – but it did have me worried for a moment

After that, we’re not entirely sure. This trip has changed us and our way of thinking about our lives. We now realise that there is so much more out there to be seen and enjoyed, and stepping out of the rat race isn’t anywhere near as daunting as it was this time two years ago, so we hope to get ourselves into a position where we can spend our days doing what we want – sooner rather than later!

OurTour : Our footprints - feel free to follow them, they've been to some great places!
OurTour : Our footprints – feel free to follow them, they’ve been to some great places!

We’ll carry on posting updates of how we settle back in, what we’re up to and more stuff about what we learned while on the road, but it won’t be every day like it is now, so please subscribe to our updates to make sure you don’t miss anything (pop your email address in the box to the top-right of the page). We’ve set ourselves a goal to write another book, this time about the whole trip, but after this length of time away we’ve got so many thoughts and ideas in our heads that we’re struggling to work out which ones we want to do – that’s a fab situation to be in. We’ve named our future; The Blue Marble Project, and now we need to decide what it will be like and set about making it happen. So while tomorrow sees the end of this particular adventure, it will also be the start of a whole new one – and who knows where that will take us, we hope you can join us for the ride!

Ju x

58 Comments

  1. “Our footprints – feel free to follow them, they’ve been to some great places”

    What a beautiful line.
    Don’t think of it as being over, just the end of another chapter in your life book.

    The sequel may be better!!

  2. Thanks for your posts, they’ve been great and we’ve followed them every day for some while now.
    Good luck on your return and the planning of your next big adventure whatever that it and wherever it takes you. We are about a year away from what we plan to be the next stage in our lives and have some serious thinking to do before then and your journey has given us plenty of food for thought.
    We’re left with following our niece and her husband on their brave adventure from their home in New Jersey through north, central and now South America (country 16 at present).
    Safe journey tomorrow and keep up the occasional post on what comes next.

  3. Amazing and Truly inspiring. Have enjoyed your posts and very sad it has come to an end, there is a simple plan to cheer this situation up… I think we start next may!!

  4. As you know you guys have been a massive inspiration to us. Have a great crossing and as some wise person once said (whose name I can’t remember)… “every ending is automatically a new beginning”

  5. Hope you have good crossing, we will be crossing the other way Wednesday night. Thanks again for all your posts I have been following you for about 18months Fantastic ,Best of Luck for the future.

  6. What will we do now that you will not post every night. Loved your Blog and looking forward to hearing how you get on.
    We spend 2 months in Europe every year and look back on your post to see if ye were there. Take care and the best of Irish luck to you both and Charlie.

  7. Hi guys. Great to know that there’s another book in the offing and this time on the whole trip – oh perhaps 2? One on each year? Have a safe journey home and take care – we look forward to getting the updates.

  8. You are fabulous, extraordinary people(and Charlie is an extraordinary dog!)whose adventure I have followed avidly for months. Thank you so much for sharing your trip, it has been such a brilliant blog and a wonderful adventure. You remind me of my fave quote:
    “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming,

    WOW !!! What a ride!”

  9. Welcome home.

    Now…

    Have a quick bite to eat, say hello to the postman and do it all again…I do need some escapism in my life you know!

  10. I hope the sea will is kind to you. I’ve really enjoyed reading your daily adventures & will miss my daily read. Good luck in what ever venture you go on next.

  11. good luck you 3! if your visiting the north west of Scotland ,you can hook up here on the beautiful Isle of Skye.
    so going to miss your posts ,Heather

  12. Ju
    I hope we can meet up on your UK tour somewhere…anywhere. There’s always a room for you chez izzyminx.co.uk x
    Jay will have to sleep in Dave ;-)
    Great blog guys, gotta go now and dry my eyes xx

    See ya soon.

  13. The whole event has been just sensational and I have loved following your adventure every day. Thank you both very much for sharing it with us. I hope your short tour of the UK brings you close to my home as I would just love to shake you folks by the hand for being such an insperation. Welcome back to the UK, but lets hope you are on the road again soon. There is many of us looking forward to your next adventure

  14. We have been following you for about a year, you inspired us to buy our first motorhome as a retirement present to ourselves. Please please do write a book on the whole experience. Thanks for sharing your adventure, take care and have a safe journey home. xxxx

  15. What a lovely final post, full of positive spirit just like you two. You’ve had a great time and lots of memories that you will cherish forever. Thank you so much for sharing your journey, you have truly been an inspiration on many levels.

    Our journey starts in February and if we experience half of what you’ve done then we’ll be happy. We’ll certainly be following many of your footsteps and looking forward to sharing the journey.

    Take care and thank you.

  16. I can’t quite believe that this is it! I am sure you will find new adventures to fill your lives. I will miss reading your blog, and am so pleased to have met you during your trip. You will have inspired many others to do a little of a lot of what you have done….Toddy and I for one!
    Good luck for the future, job finding, home finding and new experience finding!

  17. Hi to the three of you.
    I can’t bring myself to read this blog posting or the comments already made, I admit I have many tears in my eyes, so I will save the read for another day. Your blog has been so inspiring and we have felt we have almost been travelling with you. We have followed you for about a year now and every night without fail have looked forward to your updates. So much so its almost been annoying if its late ;) your tales have been fab as have the photos. There are many places we now want to visit that were never even on the radar before. We have learnt so much from you both sharing your experiences. Thank you is not enough, we wish you all only the very best for your future.
    With love and best best wishes Jenny and Will xx

  18. Good luck to you both. Been following your adventures for a while. Let us know if you visit Hastings…..will buy you a non lidl’s pint! X

  19. Hi Julie and Jason, I have followed your adventures over the past year or so and enjoyed every installment. It has always been funny, interesting and informative but above all inspiring.

    I found your blog whilst researching buying our own Hymer van. We had a VW type 2 but sold him earlier this year and bought ‘Hendricks’ (named after the gin!) about a month ago. In fact we’re sitting in him on a campsite on the Gower peninsula as I write this.

    Not sure what I’m going to do each evening now I won’t have Dave’s latest escapade to read about, but hopefully someday in the not too distant future we might be doing it ourselves :) Meanwhile we might see each other trundling around Nottingham as we live just outside the city.

    Thanks for letting us all share in your adventure, the first of many more I’m sure.

    May the road rise with you,

    Lee and Jules.

    PS deffo write the book of your whole travels, I’ll certainly buy a copy :)

  20. loved it and been inspired we r planning to go soon, if your tour brings you to the far southwest of cornwall give us a shout and we can wild camp somewhere with you, thank you very much for sharing the last 2 years with us.

  21. Bonne chance à vous Ju et Jay.
    It was always obvious you have touched so many others and that is where you will find your inspiration for the future…

  22. So sad your epic journey is coming to an end. We only started following your progress during the last 2 months but like the rest of the comments left, you have inspired us to want to do the same – we have travelled 100’s of miles across the country (and the Caravan Salon Dusseldorf last weekend) looking at motorhome’s to ‘follow in your footsteps’. I think the fact you have inspired so many of your ‘followers’ including us is an amazing feat in itself so thank you for sharing your experiences.
    We live near Eastbourne so please do email us if you are in the area and need somewhere to stay as all 3 of you would be welcome and it would be a pleasure to meet you.
    Good luck and safe journey back to the UK.
    Best wishes
    Simon & Wendy

  23. Have (virtually) been on the journey with you – will miss reading your posts each evening.
    Good luck to you both in your life ‘off the road’.

  24. Sad to see you going home, and great to meet up with you a few days ago.

    If you travelling around the UK and find yourself in Norfolk then there’s a welcome drive way for Dave if you need somewhere to stay – just ask.

    Steven

  25. Ju and Jay, I have read each day your well worded travels,with Dave and Charlie. In case you didn’t notice,you have a well established club of followers-motor homer -fans, who with a little planning and inspiring thoughts, can create a niche business with this captive audience.. Which I yet have to think out , but we are captured, by the ideas you have stirred in all of us, and dreams you made life like,with your experiences we all wish to have . Money restrictions, kids- all excuses are all reasons we yet have to find the way to get off our butts, and be the modern Shackleton and live our dreams as you both have bravely done. You put into words each day even on Lidl beer nights . Thank you both, for helping us dream our dreams, through you,when our working days are a roller coaster, and baby nights become excuses to log into your blogs. A thousand thanks to you both for helping us forget the Irish recession and plan to escape the emerald isle in 2014 on a wee adventure.

  26. Thank you so much. I have enjoyed following your adventures and wish you well on your new journey. I will still follow you to see how the NEW life works out. Thanks for some very entertaining blogs. Take care you two. John

  27. Been following the trip everyday, many thanks for all the info you have pasted on, its been great inspiration for us and helped us do some great trips in our camper.
    Just doing the planing for another Halloween run to Germany followed by a xmas trip to the French Alps.
    All the very best for the future and will keep looking in, we always look out for Dave shaped vans now and probs for ever.
    THANKYOU…

  28. We will truly miss the daily updates and photos. We have been reading every night for some months now, guess we will have to now start from the beginning to keep up with the nightly “fix”
    You have been truly inspirational. It’s as if we have been with you every step.
    We plan to get going in April/May next year. Will probably drop you a line to quell the nerves!!!!
    Have a safe and exciting journey home in preparation of seeing family. Best wishes to you both on your new journey.
    Sara & Rob Gooch

  29. Going to miss my evening update from the three of you. Thank you so much for allowing us to share your adventures. An inspiration for us all

  30. Been with you since the start, you cheered my dreary winters up ( well the last two )
    You inspired me to cycle on my own from Calais to the Pyrenees . You have not only changed the way you see the world but how we see it from our rat cages and I for one want more!
    Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for allowing us along for the ride, for us too it’s been a roller coaster !
    I will miss your blogs like crazy. I owe you a drink or two xxx
    Safe passage

  31. Hope you keep on travelling and writing.
    There are no aires in Yorkshire, but if you need a base near Leeds for a few nights, you are welcome on our driveway . No hook up , but a warm Yorkshire welcome .
    We plan to go touring in 2016 , so we can pick your brains in return for a meal and some wine…genuine offer .

  32. Ju, Jay and Charlie,

    You’re awesome and this as others have posted is just the end of a chapter, maybe the end of book 2, in your life, but there are so many more to come…

    Travel safe up the M1 and home to Notts

    Much love xxxxxx

  33. Tears in my eyes.

    I feel sad for you guys it is over but as so many of your friends have said this is just the start of the next adventure.

    Life is so short you have to make the most of every minute, you definitely have been and it sounds like you will continue to do so.

    All the best to you both.

    N xxxxx

  34. Your blog is a challenge to us all. We read it and enjoy it, but we must challenge ourselves to go and DO IT! Reminds me of a story by Anthony de Mello:

    “The explorer returned to his people, who were eager to know about the Amazon. But how could he ever put into words the feelings that flooded his heart when he saw exotic flowers and heard the night-sounds of the forests; when he sensed the danger of wild beasts or paddled his canoe over treacherous rapids? He said, “Go and find out for yourselves.” To guide them he drew a map of the river. They pounced upon the map. They framed it in their town hall. They made copies of it for themselves. And all who had a copy considered themselves experts on the river, for did they not know its every turn and bend, how broad it was and how deep, where the rapids were and where the falls?”

    It is said that Buddha obdurately refused to be drawn into talking about God. He was probably familiar with the dangers of drawing maps for armchair explorers.

    Anthony De Mello, in ‘The Song of the Bird’

  35. Been sat on a beach in Greece, living in a little fisherman s cottage for the last five weeks, thinking this is an adventure, but one week before we left we bought a fiat bessecar 425′, just had two nights in Keswick then had to park it up , backpacks on and off to Naxos, but found your blogs and my mind has been planning for our return, well done.

  36. Best of luck to you both, we are heading off to Sicily for the winter in our Pilote motorhome when our blog will resume….thanks for the inspiration and all the hint and tips.

  37. Thank you so much for sharing your dream I have just started my two year tour you have helped use so much and I hope to see you on the road one day good luck in your new chapter mike Amanda and monica(the dog)in Spain at the moment

  38. Just wanted to add our names to the list of people who will be missing your daily blogs. Since you’ve been writing we have bought our own motorhome and have made plans to retire next September and do the European tour, you’ve even encouraged us to add Morocco and Tunisia to our visit list.
    We both wish you luck in your new life and just wish that there was some way that we could help you with a job.

  39. Hi Guys,

    Welcome home! I am so sad that your blog will finally becoming to an end!!! It has really been a pleasure reading it!!! I set it up so I would have your blog waiting for me when I got to work and logged on to my computer in a morning and there it is waiting for me to brighten up my day!!! Now what am I going to do until Jan 14 when we set off on our epic travels??? We finally decided on a van she is a Laika 5010. She (I think she feels like a she, we will see no name as yet either)arrives at End of Jan 13. I hope we can keep in touch I have loads of questions to ask before we set off and then once we are on our travel with our blog!!! Best wishes guys warm regards Dawn :0)

  40. Good luck with the future.
    We will miss your daily updates.
    If you are ever near Gretna we have plenty of parking pace and facilities for waste disposal.

  41. I must say that I dont know how I found your page but I am so glad I did.I have followed you for about 6 mths and have enjoyed it all!Not only do I want an old Hymer,I want to do europe as you have done.
    Bloody marvelous!!!!

  42. Really enjoyed following your blog and looking forward to the book. Best of luck with everything over the next few months and I hope you will be planning interesting adventures again very soon!

  43. My wife Jen got me into your blog, and got me into a motor home. We have a house but even in the short time we’ve had her Gloria (after the VAN morrison song) has become our home. Your adventures have inspired and encouraged us so much we are now desperate to leave for our own big adventure. Even George the aging black labrador sits by the door of the van every day and seems down hearted when we are only going to the river for a swim and chewbone. George and i think that as long as you have a full tummy, a comfy sofa, and a few friends even a gravel car park on the edge of town can be home. Congratulations to the three of you, you should be rightfully proud of all you have done, and the pleasure and inspiration you have brought to your followers. You have our email address, and i think i can speak for the both of us when i say the there will be an electric hook up and grey water emptying point if ever you need it. X

  44. Well done you three.

    Thanks for the practical tips as well as the daily blog. That’s helped us as we’ve bumbled around in our hymer too, as I’m sure you soaked up those before you. I wish I could be as dedicated to blogging as you have been, I don’t know how you found the time!

    Hope you get to take Dave out for some more adventures soon, he’ll soon have itchy wheels.

    Cheers guys
    Sandra

  45. Wishing you both a safe journey home. Deb and I have loved reading about your adventures and look forward to reading about your thoughts about being back. The very best to you for future plans. If you are ever in need of a spot to stay in North Hertfordshire we have a field with a great view just email for details. We are currently in Helga the Hymer in La Coquille thinking about where to go next on our way to the port for our sailing on Monday.
    Motorhome=Freedom

  46. The weathered old saying comes to mind “All good things come to an end”.
    We have so enjoyed your daily blogs and updates, your feedback on places old and new – and the humour. Travelling needs humour, it is hard work if you cannot see the funny side of life and through your eyes we had plenty of it!
    Good luck on being back with ‘normality’ and our very best wishes in whatever you choose to do now. Hopefully once we’re back in Blighty we can catch up over a few Ale’s. Cheers!

  47. Missing my morning blog fix already, so I’ve started reading them again from 11 October 2011! You’ve inspired a lot of people and made them really think about what’s important in their lives. Good luck with the next journey and beyond.

    Paul

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