Firstly we just went into Wales, along the St David's coast. We stayed on a tiny camp-site, really just a field with a tap. The Tweedles told me this visit was just to check that we all got along together before we tried going further afield. Although there was very little to do other than look at the scenery, including watching a live camera on a nearby island showing the seal colony; we did all seem quite happy together, so when we went home we planned a longer trip.
The first long trip started in mid October, and we went as far as Oxford on the first afternoon, then stayed at a pub where we all had a good meal together. The next day we went on to Dover and looked for somewhere to stay. The Tweedles wanted to get a morning ferry so that we could start our French trip in daylight, and I didn't mind when we went, as long as we did go-I'd looked forward to going abroad for so long. Dee chatted briefly to a traffic warden, quite a nice guy really, who said we could stay on the seafront till 8am with no charge, so that's what we decided to do.
We were all up early the following morning as we had to be in the ferry port by 7 am for the 8 o'clock ferry, and after all our passports were checked, we lined up to go on board. Our target was Dunkirk rather than Calais, but only because the ferry was cheaper. The ferry left on time and we were in France just after 11am. I couldn't work out how that had happened as I knew it was a 2 hour Ferry and we had left on time.
It didn't seem as if anything had gone wrong, and nobody else seemed to think there was a problem, so I asked Dee to explain. She told me that France is always 1 hour ahead of England, so it would still be 10am in England, but it was 11am here. What else will I learn here?
Although we had intended to travel through France, their tanker drivers were on strike, so we changed our plans and went into Belgium. Dee had visited Bruges when she was much younger and wanted to see it again, particularly the tourist canal areas. This didn't appeal to me very much, as I'd seen canals in Britain, so I stayed and waited for them whilst they toured the narrow streets on their electric bicycles.
I soon learned about the new money, called euros, we were using and practised with it when I could do so, but only when Dee or Dum was with me, as I didn't understand the new language. In Belgium though I did learn some of the names for the most delicious breads and cakes from the boulangeries we stopped at each day. I was worried I would put too much weight on.
I wasn't by any means skinny, but I was quite proud of my slim body and didn't want to change my looks
After Bruges we went over the border to Holland, but Rotterdam put us off going any further-it was huge, with the numbers of the ports going higher than I'd seen; I'd met tens and unit numbers before and I'd heard that hundreds existed as numbers, but I had no idea what they really meant, or that bigger numbers existed.
I asked Dum about my problem and she explained to me that numbers were used to communicate the idea of size, or answer the question "How many....?" She also told me that some very simple tribes who live in very out of the way places still only use "one, two" and "many" for counting. That made me feel much better about not knowing these things-I still have so much to learn.
It was also while we were near Rotterdam that we all decided the weather was getting distinctly colder so we chatted for a while over possible routes to continue our holiday and decided to head for the warmth of Italy
To get there we went right across Belgium, and through Luxembourg, so that we stayed north of France as we were still worried about finding fuel. We did cut across the north east corner of France, though, before setting off down through Switzerland. We stayed for the night at a quiet restaurant which was happy for us to park in their carpark provided we ate there. It was part of an old chateau, and all the buildings were clustered around a cobbled courtyard.
Please continue to part 3 here