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Europe in a comfy chair...
on 1 May 2007
The snippets of time between hectic work this week i.e. breakfast, bed-time allowed me to tour the usual suspects - France, Spain, mainland Italy - as well as less obvious Portugal, Sicily, Slovenia and especially Croatia with Hazel, Simon and teenage son Jack in their oversized US motorhome. The "can't put down" effect may have been due to my desire to take a similar, relaxed gap year all over Europe, but I feel it was mainly a credit to the personal, open and warm style in which Hazel wrote about her special year with her family in the "Beast". Basically we have a nice bunch of people who take interest in the natural and historical delights of different countries, enjoy being off the beaten track and who find it very easy to meet with like-minded travellers usually over a glass or two (and often more...) of local wine. Hazel's honesty avoids this being a travelogue of the cultural "must-sees" of Europe. Her descriptions of the major architectural stunners exude excitement and enthusiasm; on the next page she may be describing a rest day watching a DVD in the motorhome, or a walk on a beach - or a serious problem. As a result the book draws the reader into a world that one often daydreams about on those wet, winter mornings on the way to work. Those who have travelled and camped abroad in tents, caravans, motorhomes etc are likely to have been bitten by the "big European trip" bug and will find this essential reading. Non-campers may be fascinated how and why a family of three live in a small (well, smallish) space for such an extended period. Those who love to travel will certainly benefit from the travel tips about some stunning, lesser known places to visit - especially in Croatia. With its list of recommended places to camp, I'm sure this will be an essential item for the dashboard of motorhomes all over Europe. By the end of the book you feel you have really got to know this family and are willing them to turn south as they approach the ferry port for the inevitable return home.