We were going to go to Gent today but as we were getting ready to leave I noticed water dripping out of the van. A hot water hose was leaking, we couldn’t fix it as we had no replacement parts. A nice Belgian man who was camping in a motorhome parked behind us came over as he thought we were having trouble with the satellite dish and suggested we move back a bit to ‘see’ over the bridge. Luckily while they were talking Darren happened to mentioned our problem (it turned out the man had also had a flood in his van that morning so he was very sympathetic and had a look to see whether he could help fix it). Darren had already realised that the leak was caused by a perished hose and the man gave us the address of a motorhome dealer near by where he’d bought his motorhome, along with the name of another dealer in case the first couldn’t help us.
We eventually found our way into the dealer’s road after a lot of ‘U’ turns in narrow roads trying to find the entrance. Darren parked up outside the forecourt because it was a very narrow entrance (which the Belgian man had warned us about) then he went and spoke to someone and they sent a mechanic out to the van who very kindly drove the van into the workshop and we chatted about the Rock festivals that they held in his town. It sounds like they have some big names playing there, he was telling us how disappointed he’d been to have tickets to see AC/DC a while before and to then have to give them away because he was unable to go!
He suggested places to visit along the Belgium/Netherlands coast where he said we’d be able to see sea dogs, he knew that wasn’t the correct name so we made some guesses and the animal he was trying to tell us about turned out to be seals! I prefer his name for them, sea dog is a great name! He fixed the leak and replaced the broken door clips, it’s great to be able to keep the doors open now, especially the one that regularly fell down on our heads.
We decided against going to Gent as the day had been trashed and instead travelled to an aire in a town called Lokeren.
It became quite a fiasco trying to find the aire as the GPS took us to the wrong place (although it may have been user error!) we ended up driving round a housing estate stopping at a parking area which didn’t look the same as the photo in the book, although while we were driving up that road we did see a fluffy white rabbit sitting in the hedge line which was quite unexpected, it’s a shame I wasn’t quicker at taking the photograph of it because the end result was a blur. We eventually turned the van round and drove back the way we came and found the aire, later on that evening when we were out for a walk we discovered that if we had carried on driving up the ‘rabbit’ road we would have come to the parking area we were looking for.
The aire was in a park/nature reserve a bit like one of our Country Parks. We were lucky as there were only two spaces for motorhomes and both were empty when we arrived although another motorhome (a super swanky, very big one) turned up about 9.30pm. It was a pretty car park with flowering hedges, lots of greenery and hens and a beautiful cockerel wandering around it. In the evening we went for a walk to stretch our legs and explore the park at the same time.
I’m so pleased we walked round it, not far into our walk we saw a notice board saying something in Flemish about a stork and when we looked up we saw a stork building a nest on a platform on top of a pole that had been placed there for the purpose.
On the other side of the park there were lots of animals, it was like a children’s zoo. There were deer in one pen and they had a lot of goats and a huge turkey in another, I didn’t realise turkeys got that big.
Further on we saw an aviary and there were an assortment of birds in there, we watched some cute quails rushing around the bottom of the cage, they were so tiny. There were love birds squabbling, canaries just sitting around and some happy budgies kissing each other.
In the woodland next to the aviary we stopped to watch a squirrel, it was strange in that it was brown but looked like our red squirrels. It was a very peaceful stopover, just what we like.
We made the decision to walk into town for coffee the next morning.