bye bye England and the white cliffs of Dover

the road trip to Ben Pon is on

The road trip to Ben Pon starts here…

Sometimes things all seem to come at once. So before the road trip can begin, I had to get the MOT sorted, then it was also time to update my (free) road tax before lastly renewing my classic insurance. With that now all sorted, I can use my season tickets with P&O Ferries to book my ferry crossing from Dover to Calais.

all parked up inside the belly of the ferry – next stop Calais, France
all parked up inside the belly of the ferry – next stop Calais, France

I’ve decided to head over a day early and take things at a more leisurely pace rather than trying to cram as many miles into a day as possible. I’m catching the midday ferry at Dover once I’ve filled up with fuel and a few provisions for the trip. It’s always exciting heading off for a little adventure! 🙂

bye bye England and the white cliffs of Dover
bye-bye England and the white cliffs of Dover

This road trip will be my first chance to test the longer journey benefits of the new seat pads I fitted a little while ago. So far the benefits are much to be appreciated! 🙂 With the upgraded sound system… the small changes have made a really big difference to the overall journey experience 🙂 This also applies to the camping kit I try to use or take with me. I’ll be using my faithful old Trangia Stove for cooking and making hot drinks. I’ve literally had most of this since I was a teenager! That said, I’m also loving my new addition to the crockery with my Yeti Rambler mug. It really is a pretty indestructible bit of kit, plus it really does keep your drink or food hot (or cold)!

breaking out my trusted Trangia stove and my new fave Yeti mug for a tea break
breaking out my trusted Trangia stove and my new fave Yeti mug for a tea break

First stopover of the Trip… Hello Belgium!

On this trip, I’m going to be trying out a (new to me) option of Search For Sites as one of my options to finding places for overnight stopovers. Today will be its first test as my destination for stage one of the trip will be a place called Grobbendonk, to the west of Antwerp in Belgium. I wanted to stop over in Belgium for the first night leaving a shorter trip to the Netherlands the next day. It not only breaks the journey up nicely, but petrol prices in Belgium are much cheaper than the Netherlands! So with a bit of careful planning, I should be able to fill up in Belgium and then not require another top up for my time driving around in the Netherlands 🙂

no chintzy curtains for me thank you very much
no chintzy curtains for me thank you very much

Apart from some road works just outside the port of Calais, the journey from France through to my first destination in Belgium was quite quick (a comparative term for an old vintage VW camper!). I managed to find my new stopover quite easily with my TomTom sat nav software installed on my phone. I know lots of people like to use Google Maps or Apple maps for their navigation, but I really like some of the more advanced features that the TomTom software offers (local speed limits, lane assist at junctions, auto-rerouting options etc.). It has proved really reliable in my travels around Europe and the USA as well, and has the added advantage of not eating up your data allowance!

mixing it up with the big old motorhomes… less is more
mixing it up with the big old motorhomes… less is more

It’s always funny when I park up near big European motorhomes. They just seem so massive in comparison! In a line of these big white monoliths, my little old camper really stands out! My motorhome neighbours are normally fascinated by it and the more simple/minimalistic approach to my camping out in it. One thing about owning a vintage VW, people always like to stop and chat with you. Invariably there will normally be a point in the conversation that starts with ‘I used to have a VW many years ago…’ 

So with my camper all set up for the night, it was time to have a quick explore of the area. I didn’t get too far! Belgium is famous for its chocolate and one other thing… 😉 After a days driving, I felt this was a nice little treat at the end of the day.

apart from Chocolate, one other thing Belgium is famous for…
apart from Chocolate, one other thing Belgium is famous for…

Well, stage one complete on the journey to the Ben Pon Barndoor Gathering. Am I excited? Just a bit! Looking forward to seeing a whole bunch of amazing buses on display, like this 1951 panel van that was rescued from a swamp and brought back to life again. Its maiden voyage will be a 1,200KM drive from France to the Ben Pon Show in Amersfoort! How cool is that! 🙂

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