Lost in Autumnal beauty… or is it now winter? 21/11/2022

As appears to be a bit of a trend recently things have taken over and the days turn into weeks and suddenly weeks have turned into just over two months since my last blog… shameful. I have let life take over my time which is not on – especially as so much has happened, and that is without mentioning Fawkes’ chassis turning up as we have been trying (unsuccessfully) to put it to the back of our mind….. and no, its not the big green one!!

So, where were we before we got distracted!! …. oh yes, Wurzburg back on 11th September and what a beautiful place it was too! It was slightly calmer on the Monday than it was over the weekend with the music festival but still a very pretty and interesting place.

However wanting to explore more of this beautiful area we moved on from Wurzburg, deciding that realistically we didn’t have time to do the Romantic Road justice – so instead headed to Martketbreit where we stayed at a lovely Stellenplatz on the river with huge spaces which was 7.50 euro a night.

As it was forecast to be raining heavily for the next couple of days we had simply looked for somewhere which wasn’t too far but that had hardstanding so we didn’t sink…. our requirements were pretty basic and we knew nothing about the town at all but amazingly we fell on our feet as Martketbreit is a quaint little town away from the tourist route with beautiful architecture and known for its food, wine and randomly – Alzheimers. Marketbreit was the birth place of Alois Alzheimer who researched and published his findings surrounding Alzheimers disease in 1906.

We walked both sides of the river but there are definately a lot of areas left unexplored, quite obviously just so we can come back to try out some of the restaurants as the ones we tried to book were either closed on the days we were there or full at such short notice.

After a couple of days and with the rain starting to clear, we moved a little further on along the river Main finding our next Stellenplatz in a little town called Sommerach (12 euros per night).

Unbeknown to us, Sommerach sits in one of the top wine producing regions of Germany, we hadn’t appreciated how many vineyards were in this area and the quality of the wine that they produced. Before visiting, all I could think of when someone mentioned German wine was Blue Nun or Liebfraumilch…. I couldn’t have been further from the truth with the current wine selection as I would honestly say that the white wines we tried were as good as New Zealand wines…. if not better (and possibly a little bit cheaper! )

Before settling into the tasting, we headed out for a walk up into the hills surrounding the town and ended up at the panoramic point where all you could see in every direction was a mass of vine set out in neatly formed lines. It was lovely to meander our way through the vines and see the luscious grapes that were awaiting to be picked…. that time of year that always brings a smile to my face!

Unfortunately for us – or perhaps not – we had to walk through the town to get back to the motorhome, so felt it would have been rude not to stop at a few of the little producers to try some of their wares!!

There are reasons why we don’t stop in vineyards too often as we end up buying too much wine… lesson to self – you can’t keep going in to taste wine and come out with 2+ bottles… we just don’t have space in the motorhome especially if there are 20+ producers! We did however draw our limit to a couple of producers this time.

The following day we walked to Schwarzach am main which is where the Munsterschwarzach Abbey and Benedictine Monastery resides – a very impressive building that dominated the village – quite obviously a successful business though as they have a bakery, deli, bookshop and giftshop, coffee shop and also produce their own wine!!

Leaving Sommerach and the monastery behind us we moved a hop and a jump further along the Main river to Nordheim am Main where we found a nice – albeit slightly soggy under the foot – Aire right on the river. Nordheim am Main is another of the main wine producing towns in the area and although not quite as pretty as Sommerach, it had its fair share of tasting rooms and even had an amazing stall selling a huge variety of wonderful gourds!!

We walked up into the vineyards again and as we were coming back through the town we bumped into the logistics manager from Phoenix who was visiting her parents whilst they were on holiday – very random, although very impressed that she recognised us!

Possibly due to the fact that the opening hours were reduced on a Sunday – and we had restrained ourselves from visiting them on the Saturday – we managed to only increase our wine collection by a couple of Bio bottles this time – very controlled!

Another short hop along the river and we arrived at Volkach which is a slightly bigger town with beautiful architecture which appears to be quite typical of the area – I would imagine that it is the kind of place that feels very Christmassy come December!!

The Aire didn’t have services but was a lovely large, quiet carpark set up for motorhomes (10 euros/24hrs) right on the river and only ten minutes walk into town, an excellent supermarket and lots of lovely walking and cycling again along the river.

From Volkach we got to our target destination of the whole trip…. the Phoenix factory in Aschbach. It was a bit of a long detour to get there but it was lovely to explore a bit more of Belgium and Germany en route as we have still done so little travelling in this area to date and the more we see, the more we like it.

We had been invited to do a factory tour by Phoenix when we paid the deposit last year and it was something we were really keen to do as we figured it would be interesting to understand a bit more about the construction process. When we set off for Germany from the UK, we had hoped that we would be seeing our motorhome on the production line however unfortunately, when we got to Dusseldorf we were told that there had been more delays and the chassis was still with the company who strengthen and add some specific components to the chassis before build starts… the tour however, was fascinating all the same.

We weren’t allowed to take any photos but effectively there are two buildings, each with approximately 5 motorhomes in them at different stages of production taking the chassis from what you can see above under the tarpaulin, through to the final fully tested vehicle. The end to end process is currently taking between 8-10 weeks and as you walk through each building and see the different motorhomes at each stage you can really appreciate the craftmanship that goes into each and every one. We were lucky enough to have the owner and Managing Director of Phoenix and his daughter doing the tour and they were very detailed in their explanation as well as incredibly proud of the way they construct each and every motorhome – as they should be!

We left the factory feeling very happy with our decision to buy a Phoenix and with the news that our chassis was due to arrive the following day and that the space at the beginning of the production line which was currently empty, was waiting for it. We didn’t think that we would actually see it as we were leaving at 10/10:30, but just before we hit the road I ran up the road and there she was, sitting on the back of a large green truck!

With enormous smiles on our faces we set off from Aschbach, to a town called Asbach where we parked up in an Aire by the side of a small lake and park. A very tranquil location and when we ventured out to stretch the legs we noticed that there were miles and miles of trails to walk and cycle in the surrounding area so another place to come visit to explore more. We were only using it as quick stop over this time though, so after a fantastic run through the woods and up into the hills we set off to Maaseik just over the border in Belgium.

Maaseik had been recommended to us by Jurgen our Phoenix contact from Belgium who had been there on holiday with his family previously and wanted to re-visit as he thought it was beautiful. The whole area is made up of a mixture of rivers and lakes offering a huge amount of watersports as well as cycling and walking. It is fairly flat but that would be the only downside – along with the mosquitos – as the rest made up for it, even the town or Maaseik itself was beautiful.

We stayed at Camping de Boomgard which wasn’t cheap at 26 euros a night but you can see why they are constantly full with such a beautiful, tranquil loaction and everything on their doorstop to enjoy. We had views out over the river and spent three days exploring the area – which incidently included a vineyard – as well as randomly benefitting from a Romanesque festival that only occurs every 25 years in Aldeneik which was very colourful.

Not being great planners but conscious that we had a couple of days before we caught the Eurotunnel back to the UK, we booked to go to Ypres as it had been on our list of places to visit for a while and we still hadn’t made it. It’s obviously fated as unfortunately, no sooner had we booked the campsite, the following day we woke to find that the boiler had stopped working, so adaptable as we are – and Keith having done some trouble shooting to establish whether he could fix it or not and although he identified the possible issue, the emphasis was on the ‘not’ – we figured we would set off in the direction of Jurgen as we knew he was an Aldi engineer and worst case scenario, hoped he could fix/replace it for us.

Jurgen was away working at the RAF when we arrived but popped past to pick up some documentation in the evening and noticed that we were camped out on his driveway so poked his head in the door and assured us that he would fix it in the morning!

A man to his word, although unfortunately it required a replacement circuit board (which thankfully he had one in stock), and it was all done by late morning and we were on the road again just after lunch heading back to the UK with hot water and heating.

We have been back in the UK now for nearly two months and time has just flown by with a few trips away, catching up with some friends, sorting out the final bits on Hattie to make sure she is all fit and ready for sale, lots of amazing food and another scar added to the face. We even managed to squeeze in the all important MacMillan Coffee morning with my mum…. this time raising an amazing £500.

Cake aside, we have been cooking lots as well as always. Some of our new recipes include the following….

Fennel, Marrow and Tomato Casserole – wouldn’t have chosen it but the Oddbox delivered Marrow and Fennel and to be fair it was delicious!
Texan Casserole with Black Beans – full of flavour and a nice winter warmer
Malaysian Laksa – Quick and Easy and fully of deliciousness
– Breakfast Rolls – using our Sourdough starter along with a mix of wholemeal and white flour, sour cherries and walnuts
Sag Aloo Fish Pie – an interesting and flavoursom alternative if you don’t fancy the fish and like a bit of spice!

I’ve also been experimenting a little with different flours in our bread rolls just to see how it effects the taste and texture. I have decided Spelt works really well but going 100% Rye is quite hard work although it still tasted pretty good.

And finally …. the map – I did say that we have been all over the place recently. Going forwards I am going to change my approach so Blogs aren’t so long and…. late!!