MADE IT HOME !

•PARISH NOTES

All photos on this trip have come from IPhone camera as my big one is just to heavy

Days 44 / 45

May 21st / 22nd

Weather fabulous

•A note on insurance

The reason we could only have 45 days adventure is a clause in both our house and health insurance.. only 45 days BUT if ..as we have done in the past.. fly back for a couple of days we can have another 45 days .. We did this a couple of years back leaving Hetty in Gozo and flying home from Malta .. That was for the health insurance we didn’t know the building insurance had the same problem. Seemingly even if you have someone popping in every day it would be null and void ..Thank goodness the house didn’t burn down ..

THE PENULTIMATE POST

Over night in Cherbourg

GPS 49.643067. -1.617709

Packed aire 2 mins drive from the ferry.. Hetty grabbed the last place

Not a good nights sleep why we don’t know ..up at 4am for our 8-45 crossing

Day dawned calm with the sea like a mill pond .. The ferry was an extra one due to Brexit or non Brexit ..which ever…and it was empty .. more staff than passengers.. No queue for breakfast..

The sailing was on a flat sea arriving in Poole at 12-30 with the sun beating down .. Studland bSandbanks and the harbour looking the best I’ve ever seen em..

Me n him looking smug ..

I’ve had a couple of nasty yachting incidents down there with too much wind and failed gear .. again 100% survival rate ..

A long drive home with a decision to call and see our chums in Hagley West Midlands arrangement made by phone only to be told as we arrived Toby had to go to hospital to be sorted out and wouldn’t be home .. Look in search4sites finding a Black Country pub in Claverley.. The Plough free parking whether you eat in the pub or not We did as it was their Fish n Chip night and highly recommended ..and amazing sky’s

Sun bow !!!

GPS 52.537562 -2.304889

Arrived home midday .. all was well 😎

Clematis doing well at home

My last post will be the cost and stats of this adventure ..Not the cheapest we’ve done (too much wineing and dineing ) but a good one !!

LAST GASP ….

Days 42/43

May 19Th / 20th

Weather indifferent..

After a pleasing stay of two days in Tregastel with a smattering of sun it’s was time to wander the Brittany coast ..Passing St Malo by as we’ve been many times and don’t fancy the crowds ..Looking out for the cosy little harbours the Cook sailed into in a past life Lézardrieux being one .. only stopping for lunch on the massive and fabulous beach of Frèhal

After lunch on to our next over night stop … with Oysters brown bread and a glass of Muscadet… He has Fish soup with croutons and a CUP ? of the regions driest cidre .. back to Hetty for a trying game of Rumicub .. Didn’t run The Cooks way unfortunately..

GPS for last nights sleepy spot

48.602963 -1.771623 am aire €12-50 with all services including leccy … bit expensive but served the purpose…

Onwards ever onwards towards Cherbourg .. past Mont St Michel

and into and out of Cherbourg as The Cook wanted to go to a place on the headland over looking Alderney where she nearly came a cropper .. The Alderney race is a powerful water current running from the Cherbourg peninsula past Alderney a southerly direction ..or northerly depending on the tidal flow .. get it wrong and one could end up in difficulties.. As did the cook and crew .. 1975 ..No wind under engine going into Cherbourg.. Engine failed ..tidal flow changed .. going backwards at a great rate of knots .. till another kindly yacht threw a line towing Cooks boat into Goury .. scraping the keel on the rocks as she went

Goury harbour and the rocks

.. all was well .. Engine mended and off back across the channel to Portsmouth andHardway SC where the boat was moored

Todays flora ..

Now we are back in Cherbourg .. in a free campervan carpark next to the ferry terminal for tomorrow’s crossing to Poole

HETTY WENDS HER WAY NORTH

Days 39 and 40

May 16th and 17th

Sleepy spot

St Marc Sur Mer

47.238 -2.30096

“Parish notes”

I add the GPS for fellow travellers and for my self to upgrade our sleepy spot map on my puter when I get home

Day 39

Another long drive to Concarneau.. We’ve been before but only remember it being cold n wet ..We found the aire de camping car .. massive carpark .. It has to be for all the camper vans which are growing in size every year now the normal is 21 foot some bigger at 27 feet .. Hetty get lost amongst them as she is only 15 feet long .. Quick search for Hetty .. ahh there she is ..hiding amongst her big brothers .

A walk into Concarneau.. down to the town and the Old Quarter .A sheltered harbour brings in 200.000 tons of tuna from the waters off Africa . Weathers cloudy and humid but I bet we’ve got a bit more sun on our face tan today …Feeling glowy ..

Jutting out into the harbour is the old village dating back to the 14th century ..On an island with the quaintest shops and bars .. all very touristy .. even a Breton band playing .. but .. playing Danny Boy .. not even singing in Gaelic but in English .. sighs .. no soul these places .. we’ve moved on now to another camping place .. much quieter and a beach 2 mins away at….

Mousterlin, Fouesnant,

Last nights sleepy spot

(47.8513434, -4.0462890)

Two boggy fields which should be avoided in the rain but dry for us and free ..

A walk was called for early morning .. still over cast but refreshing

“AN INCIDENT “

We were shouted at on the road to this place as we tried to go up a road that said NO .. we do this kind of thing but this time we didn’t get away with it and we’re yelled at in French by a chap driving an equivalent width vehicle A Porsche 4 wheeled Chelsea tractor .. we didn’t understand stand so he yelled louder … After some manoeuvres requiring the cook to stand in the road directing traffic and yelling back at said French person The four point turn was a success and a turn around and off on the correct route

Yet another long drive up to the Rose Coast ..Brittany at its best.. We found an Aire de camping car in the village of Tregastel €8-50 a night (see photos) another walk around the bay….Flowers everywhere and a bit of sun

TREGASTEL

Now back in Hetty with a beer waiting for supper of bacon eggs and sausage curtesy of The Driver whilst I complete another post .. it’s my post cards home for any of you who choose to read em xxxx

LOVING FRANCE

Day 37

15th May

Weather lovely and sunny

Tonight sleepy spot

GPS 47.237542 -2.300750

Parking des Jaunais St Nazaire

The Drivers blog …Edited by The Cook

After a stroll around the German fortifications on the headland within the camp site,

German in placements

which appear to have been the location of a radar installation. This had assisted the defence of the German submarine pens at St Nazaire…

We strolled into town for lunch viewing some large stink boats on the hard for polishing and anti fouling.

Perusing several menus in the beach bars until we found Moules Marinair and Frites ..Picking a table only to be told it was reserved …slightly disappointed we where then seated away from the view ..But… The Cook could ogle all they dishes and puddings passing by.

We chose to share a starter of assorted pate…cheese ..Jambon on a breadstick skewer and a salmon mayonnaise pate with copious baguette pieces

Half eaten starter

Followed by probably the best Moules for ages( we had been informed slightly apologetically that the moules where Irish as the local ones where now out of season(no R in the month …perhaps in Gaelic May has an R in it)). We chose a carafe of white to accompany the meal which was very palatable and rolled back to Hetty with a smile on our faces and a slight wobble in our walk

Setting out the chairs we sat and read until the sun started to set . No evening meal was required.

This morning we tidied up Payed up and headed Hetty towards St Nazaire and an aire from Jason&Julies map. On crossing the very fine bridge the Uboat base could just be seen. …At lunch time we managed to find one of the last pitches at this free aire and had lunch… We decided to stay set Hetty on wedges to level… fitted the silver screens to keep her cool and headed for the beach with sun lotion…water ..books and chairs

…The beach is lovely and I was slightly tempted to swim but a brief paddle soon changed my mind cold Brrr. ..It’s a grand spot to stay but the aire has only space for about 14 vans. Supper was an early event taken before we fried on the beach the weather is top class ..25c or more .. just fabulous

ALL’S WELL WITH THE WORLD

Day 36

12th May

Last nights sleepy spot

St Trojan les Bains

GPS 45.840950 -1.205173

See blue spot

Slept like a log untill cramp in the leg attacked The Cook .. She dived out of bed so fast squealing like a stuck pig the neighbouring vans must have though there was hot stuff going on .. Her leg ache today so a quiet day is called for .. not to long a drive .. We did try to find a parking spot in La Rochelle to no avail as the place was full …Off we went only about 100 miles North up the coast through the most gorgeous villages and country side .. none of the massive MWay drives .. just lovely …

A wonderful day of sunshine arriving at our destination Les Sablons at lunchtime with lunch in the sun .. lots of French people here collecting mussels and oysters from the shore ..buckets of em .. perhaps tomorrow morning we will do similar for our lunch ..

The rest of the day was spent reading in the sun

Supper of Singapore noodle curtesy of The Cook and a pre cook chicken

Suns down and it very quiet just two French campervans with us .. one a fisherman and wife .. blue dot on map is our sleepy spot for tonight

YET ANOTHER ROAD TRIP

Day 33

10th May

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

TOBY TAYLOR

Weather mixed bordering on over cast

WHAT A LONG DRIVE

Last nights sleepy spot

Arcachon 44.651533. -1.48300

Arcachon aire on main road

Not one of our best sleeps ..on a main road with bin men on the move all night but it’s next to Lidl and the Aire has facilities ..

Morning came at last …What to do on a sleepless night but read ..More Book reviews later

A short drive HE said.. and we found another parking spot

Aire De camping in the Pines

An official aire overlooking the sea in a pine wood .. No facilities but use the town one to dump and come up here.. No big vans 7 meters and under ..Its much more preferable but hey ho you win some you loose some ..

The new GPS for Arcachon beach

44.649042. -1.196249

Wish we’d found this lovely peaceful location last night. A walk he said as a Red Squirrel bounded off to the sea ..

GIRONNE WINE TRAIL Avoiding Bordeaux we again drove for miles and miles up the coast then inland on the MWay .. then off into the rural wine growing villages and on to the coast again Found the parking spot was a pay for so off again down the road to a carpark with a sea view and free to stay ..Always go to the local shop for bread or even eat their Plate de Jour in the local hostelry as long as we get it for under €12 per head Sort of saying thanx for our free night in your carpark

BARZAN PLAGE

(45.5280043, -0.8838519)

Yes it look grey and dismal but we’ve cracked open the beer and all is well Frey Bentos for supper with mash .. Yum Yum

ALWAYS CLIMB A DUNE THE HARD WAY

Day 32

May 9th

Weather some cloud some rain some sun!

Last nights sleepy spot

(43.3210624, -0.7609310)

NAVARRENX

After a long drive supper in the local restaurant.. no cooking.. To tired We’ve been here before Taverna St Jacque .. lovely food but expensive …

Off this morning to the highest Sand Dune in Europe

Now that’s a climb and we didn’t do it the easy way Oh No .. Straight up not the staircase .. One foot forwards and two back .. Very soft sand and shoeless . I made it after lots of stops …The Driver was patience personified having to wait for me every few feet but I made it to the top 🤪

We are now on an aire in Arcachon and had the thought of going to Bourdeaux but can’t find any decent parking for Hetty so keeping to the coast for our next stop

The Driver love watching other people park their Motorhomes and has written a little aside for you

The Dance of the Motorhome’s

“By the Driver”

I have been observing the antics of some Motorhome’s in this trip and it has not failed to amuse me.

1 . Motorhome turns up picks a spot

2 . Levellers used to keep beer/wine from spilling

3. Satellite dish deployed scanning for a signal(wir wir wir)

4. No signal so Motorhome drives to another location with wife holding wine/beer glasses

5. Attempt to get a signal on satdish after levelling again

6 Repeat from item 4 until a satdish lock is achieved or until run out of locations to park.

These antics become even more fun an a camp site as the owner or wife have to go to the office for another pitch and even more fun if the Motorhome is huge.

SIGNAGE GOBBLEDEGOOK

Over the pass into France from Andorra ? NO … A climb to the top of the pass in the snow with road signs saying something in Spanish…. GOBBLEDYGOOK .. Google translate couldn’t work it out .. We couldn’t work it out .. Chap on the top says French haven’t dug the roads out on the other side of the pass .. Sign said “No way through ”

Ok .. So we will come back down in second gear .. All the way back into Spain 🇪🇸

Red dot 🔴 From Gavà to Montserrat

Black Madonna of Montserrat

and on to Andorra and back again to France around the Pyrenees not over em 😡

We found a sleepy spot in a town called Monzon and from there set off again for France .. More up and up into the Pyrenees and weather .. Tunnels and weather

A two mile tunnel and then the Somport Tunnel 5.3 miles long at 5300 ft above sea level

The weather then took on a lot of unpleasantness ….It poured and lightened and thundered .. The rivers were full and boiling but Hetty kept on keeping on .. low gears all the way down to our next stop of Navarrenx.. We were here in September and found a smashing little restaurant …so that’s what we intend to do and tomorrow off to a place just south of Bordeaux for our journey up the French coast

We haven’t booked our return ferry as yet just looked at them ….

HETTY IS OVER THE HUMP!..23 days in and 22 to go …

We hit the middle of our travels and are now on our way home ..Tonight we head north on a ferry from Civitavecchia Italy to Barcelona Spain ..wending our way through Spain and France for the next 22 days ..

Here in Italy it’s gone from Mozies in Wellies and BIG coats to glorious sunshine and we’re having a day off from wandering ..Reading in the sun in yet another camper stop over by a beach north of Rome

BLUE SKIES NOTHING BUT BLUE SKIES

As you know I read and read and here’s my reading list so far this trip

A A Dhand A trilogy of crime in Bradford featuring Harry Virdee

These have featured the Bradford-based police detective Harry Virdee, a progressive British Sikh who struggles with his cultural identity and family loyalties. Race, violence and exploitation are on the agenda in the Virdee novels, and Dhand has not shied away from controversial issues of tension between British Asian communities and the controversy over such issues as the ‘grooming‘ of vulnerable females by organised gangs of men. Dhand is fairly unique as he sets his protagonists (who are shaped by Asian culture) in a British setting.

A A Dhand book in order ..

Excellent reads

VOX by Christina Dalcher

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial–this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her. This is just the beginning. Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard. But this is not the end. For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.Thought provoking

On a lighter note

Vince and Joy by Lisa Jewell

Vince and Joy is the fifth novel written by Lisa Jewell and published in 2005.[1] Like, her previous books, it focuses on the trials and tribulations of relationships.

NO WAY OUT by Cara Hunter

Book 3 in the DI Fowler collection ..all very good reads

THE SECOND CHILD by Caraline Bond….read the reviews .. Just suppose someone swapped your new born for another child

THE MAKING OF US By Lisa Jewel … as you can gather I love this authorRead review

Last but not least

YOU LET ME IN by Lucy Clarke

Elle Fielding has taken the literary world by storm, with her first book hitting the bestsellers lists and making big money. But now she’s under pressure from her publisher to produce a follow-up that’s just as compelling.

I couldn’t put it down .. many a twist

I read a book by FERN BRITTON so poor I can’t remember the title ..but cannot recommend it as it bored me I don’t do Chic Lit

So what next perhaps MAD BLOOD STIRRING by Simon Mayo … the DJ from BBC radio 2 now gone to Scala Radio

THE SUN HAS GOT HIS HAT ON HIP HIP HIP HOORAH!

GPS 43.321162, -0.761032

Tonight’s sleepy spot NAVARRENX

501 Miles from last nights over night spot and out came the sun .. Vest…Fleecy hoody and Gilet off .. Glove in bag and New Sun-Specs our of their box ..24C and climbing

Navarrenx is a lovely village not in Lonely Planets Sleepy spot doesn’t have any facilities just an area by the church to fit a few camping cars..

A stroll was on the agenda after sitting in Hetty for around 7 hours of driving ..Visited the church Had to pop inside looked very interesting and it was

6-30pm beer in the Square then off to find food as no one could be bothered to cook

Restaurant of choice

No English spoken so we ordered one of each on the house menu hoping something would be ok .. Let me tell you every thing was ok €15 each

Buffet salad to start

Mine came as fish on a bed of risotto with sauce and J’s was sausage n fritts

Pudding Italian trifle and Raspberry shortcake

And coffee

Perfect end to a hard drive

HETTY GOES FROM THERE TO HERE

There was Rouen

Here is La Reine St Maure

Free with water and black water emptying …Sleepyspot GPS 47.1108 0.61611

Again don’t try to get into this sleepyspot after 4pm it’s now packed with Camping cars from France

Another 400km under our belt on a VERY boring route ..The driver entered the realm of M WAY driving NOT tolls but long monotonous straight roads with not many towns .. or villages for me to ohhh and eerrr about .. Another dank dark day of agricultural landscapes..crops of sunflowers..ready for harvest..not yellow and sunny but brown and sad ..more white cow including plastic one .. yes you read correctly PLASTIC cows … WHY ? I don’t know but I want one

We toured the outskirts of TOURS seeing the cathedral in the mist .. It’s massive …stood out like a ship in full sail..

I have devised a new category for this blog because I was so bored with the journey.. It’s called “Interesting but useless Information”

Today’s “Interesting but useless Information” started with road works

John is a civil engineer (Retired) and knows a lot about roads

Today’s roadworks had orange fences by the works .. I ask are these Newt fences …Ecological .. to protect Newts .. I then wanted to know if there is a fermentation the Newts drink to get pissed as in “Pissed as Newt ” Google it The Driver says So here goes .. A Newt was the name gives to a young ensign aged about 12 years old who signed on Nelson’s ships who couldn’t handle the rum ration and became pissed as a NEWT.. AS PISSED AS Google’s explanation

HETTY COASTS THROUGH NORMANDY

Rouen sleepy spot GPS 49.4302 1.10566

On waking to a greeny grey day the consensus of opinion was it’s bound to get better the further south we go

The Driver doesn’t do M Ways ..why you ask ? He’s from Yorkshire and won’t pay tolls unless forced .. An Eco route was plumbed into St SatNav (She was beatified for getting us round the Rome bypass years ago)

The route planned took Hetty through the prettiest part of Normandy .. Past Agincourt where she gave a salute to the Bowmen of England .. Past herds of white cows ..Why all white we don’t know .. answers on a postcard please ..Past houses all painted in Buttermilk yellow .. perhaps the local decorators bought a job lot .. The journey isn’t fast but picturesque with geraniums filled window boxes in the villages with roads so dead straight perhaps the Romans had built them

The day improved as we arrived in Rouen parking up on an island with the Seine surrounding us …Its a free area used by camping cars as the French call Motorhomes

View from the bridge

See Hetty..
The Seine

Lunch of French bread Pate and Camembert and a walk of 1 mile to the Cathedral

The Nave

Wow oh wow it’s big .. its gynormous and free to enter seemingly Catholicism pays .. Free entry to the Cathedral …To cap it all the burial place of Richard the Lionheart..

KING RICHARD 1

UK get your act together .. Let us see our History and Heritage free of charge ( rant over) Built without Health n Safety reg n rules .. just built ..Love it ..

Back to Hetty for a pizza .. a glass of red with the River Seine flowing past our door to the sea

DUNKIRK DIDN’T COME OUT TO PLAY WITH HETTY

Sleepy spot used GPS 51.048515, 2.375988

Let’s go back to the lovely free parking spot on the beach GPS 51.053513. 2.414916 said the Cook We’ll do an over night with Moulles n chip at the cafe on the prom …Great said The Driver find GPS coordinates.. Done and off we go from the ferry terminal .. Weather lovely ..Blue sky’s and warm .. An hour later we find the free camping spot has barriers .. What a let down .. Never mind we know of others .. All full .. In the end The Driver found one on Wildcamping app and off we went back to the ferry end ..It was an ok stop over but that was all but I didn’t get my Moulles …

“BEACH LIFE”

PLAGE DE DUNKIRK

This is the beach the British soldiers were rescued from in WW11 …so peaceful now ..A lovely place to end our adventures in Europe ..The sand is flat and hard ..used for land yachting at low tide ..sea fishing ..kite boarding ..horse riding and dog walking although dogs are not allowed on the beach but who bothers with rules in France ..We loved it here ..hopefully to return soon ..

I think J wants one ..

Well He’s happy .its not J ..His physique is much better ……again taking photos of strangers

The Dunes where the Germans had the gun inplacements …

The Port of Dunkirk in the distance …

Sea fishing

Gun inplacements German

Schoolies being taught land yachting..

“MOULLES N BEACH”

image

We didn’t know Dunkirk was such a lovely spot ..just had a good walk to stretch our legs ..Moulles and frittes on the prom ..that’ll do nicely for today ..

Sailing along very gently

image

Beach huts!!!

image

image

Whose that …

image

Not  much breeze ….

image

Sea walk …exercise …

image

Still going …

image

“WARM BEER”

By J
Today we set off for the sea side ..buckets and spades at the ready… The forecast is for an improvement from the recent wet and miserable weather. At breakfast we discovered the fridge was thawing …no problem it’s happened before so I cleaned the jets and our journey would get it cold again from the alternator . Our route took us past a Lidl for some provisions and then through lots of Belgium as we headed north.
Susan hates Belgium …All due to our previous trip in torrential wet weather and constant motorways on the rush home. Today she was pleasantly surprised by some lovely countryside ..Nice villages and interesting houses. All helped by the improving weather. We drove over many cobbles…concrete roads plus some less rattly ones . We also noted lots of places selling cheap fags and tobacco just before passing into France again … Part of this area is famous for the Paris to Rubeux cycle race mainly over cobbles ..from today’s drive they have our sympathy …I can imagine it’s not very good for your piles😂.
On our arrival at Bray Dunes we located the spot used by Jason & Julie of ourtour.co.uk  and had a pleasant walk in the dunes before lunch …then we discovered the fridge was not cold so I dismantled it again and during this process was tapped on the shoulder by a local policeman (please move on your not allowed to park here). He handed me a printed sheet with instructions on what was and was not allowed. imageThe parking restrictions change 3 times during the year for our location and its nearby alternative we are too late as it ended in April..it’s not ourtours.co.uk fault as they were here in January at the start of another of their adventures and parking for camping cars was allowed ..
I reassembled the fridge ..We looked at his paper checked out the possibilities and decided to move to a free parking aire just west of Dunkirk about 10 km away as the suggested alternative in a car park in Bray Dunes was not very attractive.
On arrival at the Aire we smiled …Set up Hetty and said this looks very good and “will do nicely”GPS 51.053513 2.414916
The fridge is still not working on battery ..The fuses have now been checked …gas burner cleaned again …Not cold beer drunk whilst reading in the bright sunshine on our deck chairs and fingers crossed that the fridge with wine and beer will be cold tomorrow.
This new site is close to the sea off the road and quiet so as we are not parked under any trees and in bright sunshine we may be here a few days. Tomorrow a walk along the prom towards Town beckons .image

“HETTY REPELLED BOARDERS”

By J
Today we made a late decision to move on towards the Channel for some sea ,sand and hopefully some sun. Hetty’s tanks where emptied and water filled at the free aire we have stayed at for the last 2 nights 49.0453 4.03473. A nice quiet place near the canal on the Marne.
The satnav was programmed and off we went at about midday. The weather was overcast and chilly about 20c so with all windows shut and Susan with my fleece wrapped around her toes off we went.
The weather continued fairly similarly for the next hour. Then the sun started to break through and the light actually became worse to drive in due to a glaring haze. S started with a headache and my eyes where hurting so we pulled off at about 14:30 into a likely parking place and I dozed off for a snooze. At 15:00 the church clock chimed would be an inadequate description it was bloody noisy. I dozed off again but 1/2 an hour later it happened again and I realised we would not be able to sleep here tonight as we had thought.
Off we went to our original location by a lake at Valenciennes image50.34995 3.50501 There was the any space available so I patiently waited for a car to move and parked . S started our evening meal and I went for a stroll to check if anything better was available.
When I returned a Spanish Motorhome parked nearby had decided to move and ripped his kitchen window off on the back corner of Hetty. S was not happy( you can probably visualise crossed arms and tapping of foot)
Hetty had only received a minor scuff but the Spaniard was seriously damaged (Armada style repairs where commenced ) with a little assistance from me and lots of gaffer tape his window was reassembled but would never open again but hopefully not fall off.
Dinner simmering imagebut S not anymore . Beer was broken out the spaniard apologised and limped off into the sunset with the sound of thunder like big guns on the horizon

“IL PLUER A PLENTY”

Its been raining for nearly a week and our nights sleep is disturbed by the rattle of the rain on our tin can ..Hetty …we’ve now moved away from any sleepy spot with trees as that’s

  worse ..pine cones dropping on us as the rain or the wind becomes stronger ..Not only nuts but the drops collected in said trees crash our sleep ..Now its just continuous patter patter …Saying all this regarding lack of sleep we did catch up the night before last and slept till 11.10 am ..A read at 4am must have sent us off again to catch up on the last few nights lost sleep..The thought now is ear plugs and a sleep mask for early sunrise ..Well dawn as we haven’t seen sun the for days..
Our sleepy spot for the last two days has been on the Marne Canal at the Champagne village of Mareuil-sur-Ay GPS 49.0453 4.03473 which seems closed ..Yes Closed.. Not a drop of Champagne to be had ..Not a bar or wine cave open..There’s a Burger van in shocking pink which turns up on the canal bank at around 6pm but that it ..
The Laird of the Manor has the most well kept gardens and Chateaux making the village look in need of a lick of paint…

My wifi limit has just run out ..Mr McD here I come …no photo today ..boo hoo !!!

“WHAT A FIND.. NANCY”

I didn’t think I was going to be interested in any thing north of Alsace till we got to the coast . ..It rains every time we hit Northern France  and subsequently I couldn’t wait to get going .and I hate Belgium..So still in France HE said what about NANCY …What about Nancy I said …Lets go …ok ..and off we sped yet again over hill and dale ..Up and up but their hairpin are not a patch on Austria’s ..We had a GPS 48.703918 6.176597 for an Aire de camping car ..just a pay €3.50 for 24 hrs ..As you can see from my photos the day didn’t improve and the rain got us on our way back to HettyP1020153and a miles walk into town ..what a surprise ..Nancy is fabulous P1020156

Entrance to Nancy old town..pretty fine Eh!P1020158

Sausage anyoneP1020164

Entrance to the main Square de Stanislas…P1020167

P1020175

Charity bike ride …I photo bomb this lot ..They will be saying when they show the slides ..”Whose that”

P1020176

P1020177

Cafe society …main square

P1020181

One for the ladies …I love taking photos of strangers ..weird or what ??

P1020182P1020185

Just sitting with a glass or two…P1020187

Buildings of interest ..P1020193

Bike repair shop …very interesting ..5 people fully employed ..

P1020197

I could live down there …P1020196

On our way back to the Aire de Camping car …Got a bit lost but we are here now ..Wondering what to have for supper .

Well ..that puts Nancy to bed ..Whats next ..I want to go to Agincourt ..info re: The battle of Agincourt

“FILM NIGHT”

It was a lovely but very expensive(€32) drive along the Toll road to bypass the Cote D’Azur , Canne,Nice and Monte Carlo..All these places would have taken a week to tour but we’re on a  mission to get to Genoa for our ferry to Sicily

We glimpsed all these famous locations from a distance but the mountain ranges with the snow covered peaks were viewed with awe .. These are the Alps …our chosen route via Grenoble Chambray and south Turin which we declined in favour of a more southerly road as poor Hetty doesn’t have snow tyres .. To much snow for the old girl so the forecast would have it

Not much to say today only I’ve been fighting with my uploaded photos from my very new LUMIX camera to my blog.. I think they are perhaps to big or to many pixels I will need to speak with Erica to see if she can help

We had a super FaceTime with Miss Ruby ..lots of kisses so her Daddy’s computer will need a serious  wiping

A downside to today journey was me witnessing the dumping of our loo at a public Motorhome Sosta (motorway services) an open sewer… DISGUSTING!!!!!

As we’re on our way to Genoa we need to be nearish for tomorrow’s ferry but trying to find a free parking spot for Hetty has been unsuccessful and we’re now in a Sosta de Campingcar

in Vado Ligure near Savona at another €16 per 24 hrs which includes leccy so Monday night is film night ..

  Could be Cinema Paradiso or The Godfather J’s choice (driver concession)and a Thai curry …

“BEAUTIFUL MORNING”

Slept like a top again ..Didn’t hear any bears ..Graham Smith suggested we should be carefull as he thought bears and wolves lurked in the forests of the South of France ..There’s no light pollution here ..miles from the nearest town so the stars were glorious ..

 Now a sunny morning ready for our TOLL road ride …and a yummy cooked breakfast for’t lad as he does all the driving and I need to pull my weight  The toll is ok cos J said so and him a Yorkshire man ..He thinks the expense is worth it to clear towns such as Canne ,Nice and Monaco on our route to Italy

              “GOING SOUTH TO THE SUN”

A lovely visit with my friend in La Beluze …Visit to markets and family who have the loveliest architect designed house over looking The Loire ..Some amazing food and company …Thnx so much Vero and Johan for looking after us so well and getting poor Hetty fixed … Off now to Orange ..over snow topped villages past Chateau’s….One on a lake

La Clavelle… I believe

..Arriving in Orange ..which according to the guide book has a Roman Theatre ..supposedly the best in Europe ..J loves Roman …I tolerate it …sigh …actually it bores me …so we pay €19 to get in …sigh again ..well a wife has to sometime let him be ….waste of money to me …Off to Avignon …Now you’re talking …What a fabulous city …very impressed ..Did you know the bridge in the French lesson song at school “Sur la port Avignon” is only half a bridge …The town on the hill is just a tourists delight ..and for us in winter the only Tourists …Hoorah !!!!

Nice shops …trendy …and no visible tat again Hoorah !!

Now we must make our way to the south of France …ohhh what a drag ….Not ….

Magical drive through all the vineyard you’ve ever heard of ..

With names such as Chateaux Nuef De Pape ..Beaujolais… and so forth ….

Now the road sign read St Tropez ..Nice …Cannes

We need an over night stop and we certainly are not going to the coast ..all that poshness wouldn’t cope with Us and Miss Hetty so off to the forest above Frėjus …Just up the road from St Trop …J has found us a Wild Camping spot in the middle of no where

 …3 miles from the main road up a track ..GPS coords N43.46578 E6.79005 The road is closed from 8-30 pm to 6 am so let’s hope the bogey man isn’t around because we are out here by our selves in the middle of nowhere …!!!!!!!

A LULL IN THE “IL PLEUR”

It’s stopping for an hour my accuweather ap says ..taking advantage of the lull in la il Pluer (The rain) off we went into Nuit St George
Yet another nice village closed ..do the shops just open for the tourist season ..perhaps !

I think the Main Street area will be buzzing in the summer with the cafe and bar patrons spilling out into the street on a lovely summers eve ..This is how I would like to see Nuit but at this moment it’s grey n cold

Now to find the white burgundy promised to my son Daniel ..

Screams !!!€199 for a bottle of Grand Cru Nuit St George..Gulped as we entered the Cave de Vin “Would you like to taste Madam ” ” No Thnx “came the reply “we’re driving ” A very pleasent young man let us wander around ..looking lovingly at the array of yummy looking wine ..and yes we have bought Daniel one ..one for us and one for our hosts in our next calling off spot in Paray le Monial We’ve brought a block of good old Lancashire cheese from Beeches in the village for them as well ..plus some local Moorhouses beer ..

The wine haul was just over €70 but when in Burgundy it has to be done ..Gulps again …

On leaving Nuit St George the sun shone ..lovely we thought ..but looking to the west a lot of blackness ..was it smoke …No it’s bloody snow ..gusting across the vines which appeared to be as far as the eye could see ..what a storm to be driving in ..and in 15 minutes the sun is shining again for us to have a look around Paray le Monial in the heart of Charolais-Brionnais

Not knowing what to expect from this town of Paray le Monial we headed for a spire and found the most interesting of medieval streets dating back to the 13c IMG_0661..

Wandering around the streets we came on a church of huge proportions ..The Basilica ..founded in 973 …finished in 1092 which according to the tourist woman was the next biggest after St Peters in Rome impressive ..will add photos when internet is strong enough to load em ..IMG_0660

Of to see my friend who live just three miles outside Paray ..and got majorly lost ..making her have to get in her car to get us …wrong canal bridge ..received a lovely welcome

Tomorrow is off to the garage to get the alternator belt sorted …and stop the squealing pig …

DISCO NIGHT A LA HETTY

An eye watering nose running north easterly wind is blowing up mi jacksie.. By heck it’s cold in Burgundy

Parked up after a long drive from Reims no main roads for us … We prefer the over the hills ..through forests one track .. No central line … No traffic roads ..Well Sally Sat Nav found them ..lovely rural rolling country side ..Vin yards with their fields of vines as far as the eye could see…

 Now parked up happily in an aire de campingcar GPS coordinates 47.13181,4.95127 in Nuit St George

Supper of St Jacque stuffed massive Vol é vents (spelling) an apple salad + a glass or two of Pinot all curtesy of Mr Lidl ..plus a tune or two with Craig Charles blasting out a few soul sounds on our blue tooth speaks …J says it’s always Saturday night in Hetty Hymer

Tomorrow a wander round Nuit St George

ANOTHER LONG DRIVE 

JOHNS POST…. From Reims to Nuit St George

 After a good nights sleep In a most unusual Aire which was part of a new housing complex and capable of taking 30 + motor homes though no services. We departed for Reims … For a change the slipping alternator belt was behaving a little better it had changed from the constant squealing of killing pigs to an occasional budgie being strangled.Our intention was check out the the cathedral .Upon arriving at the Reims Aire we found it was not gated as per the guides instructions and we could have arrived last night co-ords 49.248877 4.021291 ….48 hrs and free with all waste dumps and water. It took us about 20 minutes to stroll to the Cathedral which is a magnificent and fairly ornate structure with lots of stained glass.Susan and I strolled around both outside and inside taking lots of photos and occasionally getting in each other’s view finders. This Cathedral is well worth a visit and we think probably beats York Minster in two ways it’s bigger and more beautiful. Then a gentle stroll on a different route back to Hetty where I serviced the loo… This Aire is free and suitable for 7/8 vans . Then plumb Nuit St George into the satnav and on our much quieter way. Sally satnav proceeded to direct us through some very wooded and narrow interesting roads (up and down and twisty)on the way we saw signs of recent very heavy rain and the drizzle we occasionally saw on our way turned to bright sunshine and clear skies by mid afternoon . We passed through some very interesting hamlets and villages and the occasional VERY grand Chateaux . After about 320 Klms of driving we arrived still in sunshine at Nuit looking longingly at dozens of caves(wine vineyard off sales ) just before parking at the Aire 47.13164 4.95192 which is only suitable for average sized motor homes like Hetty and not for the gigantic monsters we have seen. It was a clear sky so I decided to fit the new thermal screens as the Aire fronts onto a road and I didn’t fancy showing my bum from our bed to the night time drivers and morning commuters, plus it may well be a cold one(night that is not bum)

A DAY OF UPS AND DOWNS 

What a day..slept like a top at the Pub parking spot ..only one more camper in and they were Scots ..Didn’t exchange greetings … We find if you had been Sur la continent ..and park so close a word or two would have been exchanged ….who cares !!!

At the ferry terminal the sea looked a tad lumpy …39knots of wind forecast..He says only gusts of force 9 …eeeeek

Mainly lorries crossing today ..one other campervan..all a bit quiet ..what with the news of riots in Calais I’m so pleased we opted for Dunkirk

Crossing went well only a couple of bumps coming out of the harbour ..Captain warned of lumps and he said he would activate the stabilisers …

Near perfect crossing

This bl***y alternator belt is so embarrassingly noisy …scream screech …

Now I am getting it sorted as we can’t go all the way with this noise …the driving is ok ..nothing wrong there… just the belt slipping …

Contacted my lovely French friend with whom we will spend an evening on Friday just outside Lyon to try to organise a garage to have a look at it …YES she has …what a star …we have to be in the area at 9am Friday morning …let’s hope he can fix it ..

It’s been a long wet drive to Reims today …around 200 miles ….so wet …but we are here on the outskirts of Reims as we didn’t want to go in to the city after dark as we thought perhaps our designated car park near the Cathedral may be shut now …alternative car park in a small village 4miles west in the champagne district GPS COORDS 49.273488,3.901127 These COORDS are for other travelling people to find a stop over ….This one is in a small village and its a carpark ..no one else here ..and its flat ..  Sorry no photos wifi won’t upload

TO GOZO VIA FRANCE AND ITALY ..THE OFF 

The map shows the loose interpretation of the intended route by road and sea  

AN EXCITING 24 HOURS

The adventure started well until the first traffic jam ..

 Then the fatal crash on the opposite carriageway .. (Bodies)…

Then the alternator belt started its whine.. This has been fixed .. Oh No it hasn’t .. New alternator New belt Grrrrr HE says its bedding in and needs adjusting.. I say it should be good to go as its a reputable garage that fitted it .. Make my hair stand on end when it screeches

Then the radio wouldn’t work .. No leccy to it .. I blamed the burglar alarm fitter..

THEN the water heater didn’t work

SIGHS

We put a message asking for advice from a Facebook group called Classic Hymers … Hetty is a Classic Hymer

Lots of help came back very quickly.. It’s the fuse someone said ..

Rang Ashley at Pendle Caravan and Motorhome repairs and he talked John though the intricacies of potential problems as he had to open up the boiler area .. Removing drawers and finding the offending circuit board


Yes the fuse had blown .. Now to go off to Canterbury to find a Maplins .. Of cause the store was two bus rides away at the other side of town

Fuse bought ALSO came out with a Dash Cam .. So now we can film the Arse who may run into us ..

Back to Hetty via Canterbury Cathedral .. Magically Spendid

  
Lots of useful info had come in from CH group re: fixing the boiler

A bite of lunch before J started … One hour later it’s fixed .. What a star of a husband I have ..Next the radio.. Wires out … Now fixed so apart from the screeching belt we are fit to travel and having a beer at The Plough and Harrow 51.211853,1.299569. A Motorhome stop over pub 8 miles from Dover ..

Ferry tomorrow 10am Force 8 forecast ..fortunately only a two hour to Dunkirk and we will be in France

TRAVEL STATISTICS

Appendix/Statistics

Best places


Albarracin


Portlligat

Spot light

image
Meeting ourtour.co.uk ….Jason Julie and the lovely Charlie the pooch

Biggest laugh


J being Marco Pierre

Disappontment

Not getting to Andorra

Scariest


The storm force gale above Portlligat

Place to stay longest


 Capbreton

Best food


Nagusia Lau in San Sebastián for Pintxo
Now for cost

We try to manage off £50 per day for everything including the ferry fare of £678 and we have come in just under budget at about £44.33 This does not included the stash of booze we bought back

Here’s a rundown of spending for 33 days which excluding ferry fare cost €29-22 ish per day Not bad eh!!

Diesel

€371

Shopping mostly Lidl

€285-42

Campsites and Aires

€85-90

Outings including eating out and entrance fees

€111-50

On ferry costs

€110


Happy Camping

Map of travel

CROSSING BACK INTO SPAIN

Travellers information and places to stay..Johns blog

Whilst at Cap Bretton a lone Brit motorhomer told me of two places worth staying at . St Jean de Luz 43.385198 -1.66301 and Honorribia 43.377874 -1.794418   ( just over the border into Spain ).

On the morning we left CapBreton it was raining and had been a damp night. I decided to take a detour to a village called Ainhoa which is in the foothills of the Pyrenees …it is a fairly up and up road with twisty bits S’s favourite . It looks very Swiss in building style with a lovely church which had 3 tiers around the inside. The village is very old with most houses built around 1660. We where tempted by some local produce which was a very dense rich Ginger bread and is sold by weight and expensive. It’s delicious and very filling we only had a little so it may last a few days.

Then onward to St Jean de Luz it was difficult to get access to the Aire due to a strange road system S became a little agitated as we needed 3 attempts to get to it. This town is lovely and we had a nice walk in the cloudy gloomy afternoon but would probably not suit us in summer as it’s very very touristy.

The overnight was a bit noisy as the Aire was next to the railway station on a very busy line between Madrid and Paris. BUT the following morning the sun was out and we had another lovely walk round the harbour and a visit to the church which was also 3 tiered inside and very grand.
Then Hetty was fired up and we headed along the coast to Spain and Honorribia. The views to seaward on the journey where superb with surfers sailboats etc in most views . Access to the carpark was also an issue here as the satnav tried to take us into the marina . We doubled back to the main road slightly past the indicated route then bugger some roadworks in our way…

Uncharted diversion required we saw our next stop with possibly 50 other motor homes but the carpark is enormous and on a peninsular with a marina on one side and the beach and sea on the other side. Sun was out …lunch and sun bathing ensued life’s bitch EH.?

imageimage

ON THE HOMEWARD LEG

Leaving Capbreton This Aire de Campingcar ( car park specially for Motorhomes )is set out for 274 vehicles.

Drone photo of the car park for MH

img_2020

 Today just four .. A tiny VW with lifting roof and two pre school age children The parents look sane! .. A very old in fact ancient van with three very young surfers and a dog .. And a lone English male with two dogs .. and a baby gate to secure dogs .. I always think these lone men going off for the winter sun seem very sad .. Very alone and there are plenty of em !!

John is raiding the water tape on the beach 43.641611 -1.444313 as the Aire is closed up for winter and hasn’t any facilities


We have driven to the lower foot hills of the Pyrenees to a uniquely Swiss looking village called Ainhoa..


Three story structures dating back to 1600 …. Like the Pied piper we were loured into a cake shop .. The only open shop… A piece of your ginger cake Si vous plais Monsour ..He said in his best franglais .. 8 euros …it’s had better be the best ginger cake in the world at that price

Moving on to an Aire in St-Jean-de-Luc.. A pretty seaside town with shops to die for ..


We are window shoppers fortunately.. But in my head I spent about €1k .. Back at the Aire to find out it’s not free as we thought €4 for 24hrs .see camping car parking in the bottom right  of the picture 43.385182 -1.662859

 . Not bad as we have just had 3 hr free .. The ticket man came to check and has ticketed some others .. Oooh fines .. He knocked on our door to ask us to pay .. How kind

Tomorrow off to Honorribia which is over the border just into Spain .

ACCIDENTAL PADDLING


Sunsets and accidental paddling We’ve been here in Capbreton for .. We think its 4 days .. Empty campervan Aire .. A few in and out going off south for the winter .. Massive German wagons towing lil cars .. Not envious .. We couldn’t do with camp sites .. Bore us to death as I think there’s a bit of gypsy in our soul .. Keep rambling on .. Lots of surfing .. Sunshine .. Book reading sitting in the sun .. We Brits love the sun … Long walks on the beach a bit of paddling .. Caught by a wave

 .. Wet jeans .. and sunsets … Sleeping like logs 12 hrs some nights .. Tonight’s supper before we move on to Biarritz tomorrow leaving the glorious Cap Breton behind is cooked by Marco J Sharman .. It’s silly hour .. He’s got the bandana on for effect .. Lots of laughter …Is it the wine ???

LA PLAGÉ

A bit of a sea fret made the morning chill .. But a long walk is in order


Tractor on the beach clearing washed up trees !Why we don’t know ! Surfs up today .. and there must be a hundred surfers taking advantage of the massive Atlantic waves ..

 Some strange rocks from a distance but as we got nearer J said it was part of the German inplacements for Hitlers Atlantic wall now beautifully enhanced with graffiti

 On past the yacht harbour and back along the sand dunes ..

CABBAGE???

Susan’s Smell Incident,By J

Yesterday afternoon S started to complain about a strange smell.

Was it the cauliflower now a couple of days old and the last 1/4 remains No

Was it a dirty tea towel all checked and No

Was it my feet checked and to my relief No ( I do shower regularly).

She put cleaner down the drain . Still a strange smell

She cleaned the toilet within an inch of its life. Still the smell.

This morning after again cleaning we went for a long walk had lunch outdoors and came in as the day cooled still the strange smell .

Out with everything in the cupboards

Check the drains again

Trimmed all surplus of our home grown garlic. Still the smell.

Then S found it it was her favourite Camembert which she does not like to be stored in the fridge.

So the strange smell is identified S is happy but we still have a strange smell!


Edit

CHASING THE SUN

CHASING THE SUN  
BY the left it’s chilly .. Jumper and socks for me in bed… jimjams as well for you lot with vivid imaginations .. Not quite bobble cap and gloves but J did squeek when I warmed my hands on him in the night .. Leccy fire on pre uptime to warm every thing up .. Free wifi used to find the warmer weather and off North was the cry .. Looks sunny on the Atlantic Coast

We’d heard good reports of Capbreton 43.636361 -1.447044 Leccy wifi water and sand dunes all for €8 sounds like a place to stop for a while .. Looks like it will be sunny till Friday

On arrival SUNNY AND WARM but No Leccy No water No Wifi NO charge ..FREE …ALL FOR NOWT ..The Aire de camping is closed for these amenities but we are fully serviced with our own water ..Wifi ..and power .. So we’ll stay as its gonna get warmer ..


Last night on our way north westish an over night stop at an Aire in Dax

43.714171 -1.049796 not much to visit so we didn’t .. But John managed to pick up free wifi from the KFC across the road .. What a bargain as its a free parking aire as well

“LOURDES “

IMG_2564
Lourdes has been likened to Las Vagas with religion or a Rosary bedecked south shore Blackpool with its tat stalls and flashing Virgin Mary statuettes .. Let me tell you it’s none of the fore mentioned but we are seeing the place in winter ..

There ar’nt many pilgrims today and it’s a Saturday ..Small groups of people from the Sub continent in there colourful saris .. Sitting on the steps with a tiffin tinned lunch .. A group of what I assumed were Ugandans as the priest at the Grotto did say a prayer for Uganda ..an elderly couple who spoke English in cycle cloaks .. He at the top of the steps leading to the Basilica .. She down where the crowds should have been .. Looking up .. He directing her “a bit right .. No a bit to your left ” for the perfect photo probably for the Church slide show of their pilgrimage ..

Walking down from our empty campingcar site … Le Vieux Berger coords N43.10451 W000.03320 Payed for by a ticket machine which only takes credit cards €14 for power water and wifi .. Showers closed .. take out food closed .. Mini bus to travel into town not running .. As I said Lourdes is closed but for the hardened few..

A long walk into Lourdes but mostly down hill .. Buses are from a stop called Mozart but I didn’t see one .. Past the tat emporiums selling candles of all sizes ..gallon water container for your Holy water.. Taps found near the Grotto des Apparitions .. Even Yobs in Lourdes sound and behave as yobs do everywhere..

It’s damp and cold .. Nose runningly cold .. Leaves near gone from the trees but the Golden top crowns of the Basilique du Rosaire and the Basilique Supériere shone in the winter sun shine .. The tiled fresco …again gold plated are depicting Bernadette Soubirous visions ..18 in all ..seen in the years1844/79

Unlike religious establishments such as York Minster and The Basilica in Syacus Sicily to name a couple ..these churches are FREE .. Zilch € .. Magic .. We love free places to visit

All in all a very enjoyable place and memories of my early teens at Colne Convent collection money to send prayers for poorly people in Colne

Our one thought on seeing gigantic candle and tiny €2 ones ..”Does a big candle prayer get heard before the small ones ?” Any theologians out there to answer our query ?

SAINT LIZIER

After very rainy day in Foix the sun cast his rays on us for our drive to St Lizeir .. After a bite of lunch in a perfect parking spot 48hr allowed GPS 43.00038 1.137357

Again no one at home .. It’s dead .. All holiday homes in the ancient street

 A chateau on top of the hill said restaurant .. Closed …

 And on we go a bit further into the Midi Pyrenees  to a Free  Aire de camp gps 43.08437 0.571861 in a small town Montrejeane nearer to Lourdes for an early morning off

  

NICE FOIX IN FOIX 

Its stopped raining .. Hurray ..

42.961132 1.611096 Parking for camper vans

Just returned from a lovely walk to the centre Ville and its market day .. Could be Skipton .. Stalls selling every thing from Tibetain hats to junk .. There’s snow on them thar hills .. Just a dusting looking towards Andorra and the river’s up .. Not surprised after yesterday’s rain

Impressive Chateaux above the town


John lost the will to live trying to add euros to his euro card via wifi ….no success… I always find in these situation it’s best to say nowt and clean the bathroom ..The market going public don’t give a monkies about blocking us in but it ok he says we have all day

 On to Saint Lizeir now

“FOIX”

Oh FOIX… it’s rainingBy J

As we are now on the northward bound phase of our trip we decided to go a little off piste and go along the edge of the French side of the Pyrenees. Leaving Carcassonne fairly early for us (the ticket machine was broken so we had to call the attendant to let us out €10.50 ouch) and heading along roads surrounded by vines… Foix was the destination today . After a few miles we left the vineyards with very wet workers pruning and then saw wet arable fields instead . Having picked up croissants both butter and chocolate we parked in a roadside picnic area for a Chez Hetty breakfast with plentiful coffee. The rain continued unabated all day so having seen the Foix Chateau briefly at a distance…. We have parked in the local free un-serviced Aire and hope for a drier day tomorrow to venture around town. S has cooked a Bolognese sauce for our evening meal. We will chill for the rest of the day with the central heating on reading and updating blogs.

CARCASSONNE 

CARCASSONNE ON A WET DAY

By J

Driving into Carcassonne we glimpsed the towers of the Citè briefly through the rain…parking in the expensive car park (potentially €20 a day) free from 18:00 till 08:00.

Turned on the heating and cooked our supper. This was a McSharman burger fries and salad all home made….It rained

The following morning we paid and left in search of a free space by the river discovered by “The Bumbles”. Our satnav “Carson” took us over the river then through very narrow one way streets …this did not seem right as I am sure the Bumbles van is bigger than ours and we where struggling to manoeuvre at the sharp 90 degree bends and overhanging balconies. The last bend in sight we breathed a sigh of relief as the river appeared …but all spaces where FULL and our way forward under the bridge too low for Hetty …Oops I tried with only a minor scuff to the awning and the back corner and pulled back. A car came through the bridge with very little space to go past us…. He said to S don’t worry the French always drive the wrong way on one way streets shrugged his shoulders and proceeded to do so!


A 10 point turn was carried out with S watching our back with almost touch parking precision and then she walked in front of Hetty as we had to drive back along our route the wrong way up one way streets to the main road.

We decided to give up on the free river parking and we drove to a verge space we had noticed near the expensive car park for lunch and a check on weather forecasts.

A dry window of opportunity was due at 14:00 so we went into the pay parking and set up for the night then walked into Carcassonne Citè….Its very nice very quiet and very closed.

 The church was wonderful but the stained glass cannot be appreciated without sun. The structure of the Citadel and walls is in very good condition but anyone paying for access to the citadel central courtyard should have been issued with safety boots and helmets as it was being dug up. We did not go into the Ghost house or The House of Torture the only things we found open ….90 percent of the Tat shops where closed and All of the restaurants and bars where closed …We walked back to Hetty then the rain restarted as predicted…consoling ourselves with pie ,roast potatoes ,cauliflower ,carrots and peas all washed down with a Spanish red and It rained all night.

“IN SEARCH OF CATHARS”


PUILAURENS CASTLE

Leaving our overnight stop on the French coast next to a town twinned with Settle in Yorkshire which made us chuckle It’s called  Banyals-sur-Mer ..see photo

 J had picked one of the premier and best preserved Cathar Castles .. This route took us through the wine district of Aude .. Vines as far as the eye could see .. Reaching the village we turned off the main road and up and up and up.. Single track into the forest only to find the castles closed .. Then down and down hoping no other idiot in a campervan would try to find this castle as there are no passing passes

PUILAURENS CASTLE

The castle ruins are high on a rocky spur and in quite good condition so much of the original castle structure can still be seen, including the substantial ring of crenellated defensive walls The ring of castle walls is still largely intact. You can also see the towers and posterns that formed part of the defences as well as the main courtyard, the water tank and castle keep as well as the little things that help bring ancient castles to life such as medieval toilets and arrow slits. So the guide book say There are also many places in the castle with very impressive views across the surrounding hills . We pointed Hetty to Carcassonne driving down a gorge with whitewater rafting opportunities which we DIDNT take up

As we neared Carcassonne the mad French commuters were upon us and narrowly avoided several collisions ..pulling into the carpark for camper-vans.. lucky to still be alive we broke out the beers as it start pouring with rain … Dinner was McSharmans burger n chips .. And very delish

BACK HOME !!!!

Had a mooch through Alsace ..thought it very Bavarian for France but V nice..into Belgium thought that country DULL and very boring with no VODAFONE signal WOT !!!! So off to Oostende for a ferry …nope …no ferries..must have closed ..another 90km to Calais and France and Vodafone connection pheeew ..though my phone was playing up …parked up and got a ticket ..J says get going we are on the next one out of here in an hour … And next thing you know we are looking at the White Cliffs of Dover ..
Hetty has had a squeak since we left Sicily ..nothing serious just annoying ..mostly when she cornered to the left ..I was aware of this but didn’t think much about it …the knocking in the engine was a concern but that disappeared ..so off we trot M20 ..M26 and M25 …at Cobham services J pulled in and slowly parked up …NO BRAKES he say …EEEEEK I say …RAC he says …John will fill you in on that situation .                                                                                                                                                   . Driving on motorways in a camper van you do not use your brakes very often (unlike on mountain roads where you use them lots) So when I saw a rapid slowing of traffic in front and a lane dodger cut me up I put on the brakes only to find it was like pressing a sponge and little stopping effect so I pumped the pedal and normal braking returned. A little later at a similar situation (bloody southerners nearly as bad as Italians drivers in Rome ) the same again. So as we where only 500m from the services I pulled of the motorway to investigate. I found lots of oil on the inside of a back wheel( not good) I then checked the brake fluid reservoir ..over 1/2 empty. At 17:00 I phoned RAC and told them we needed recovery as this type of failure cannot be repaired at the road side. It looks like a seal failure on the brakes has occurred.
The RAC said they would phone back shortly with recovery options. A little later a recovery firm phoned me and said he could not get us home as he had no long haul drivers available. BUT he could offer us a loan car and return Hetty to us in a few days. I was not happy with this as we had lots of expensive stuff and bulky items we would not like to leave. He said he would phone the RAC and get back to me. After 20 mins I phoned RAC again to find what was happening they said they would ring back. 20mins later I chased them again and was told a recovery vehicle was on its way but they could not give an eta as by this time the M25 was chocker. After 45 mins the RAC phoned to ask if we had been recovered yet and surprised when I said no they will ring back they said 😦
Shortly after a recovery truck arrived we where promptly loaded ..jumped into his cab and he told me he could only take us to Beckensfield services on the M40. Where we would be transferred onto an RAC truck. Well it was pretty small and Hetty looked a bit big when loaded …We jumped up front with the driver and he told us he could only take us to Knutsford services 😦 😦
At Knutsford we where unloaded and abandoned to wait 30 min for another recovery truck(apparently he was going to Birmingham with a breakdown and the RAC had decided to swap loads to save diesel). He said he would take us home 🙂 and apparently the RAC always do this relay type of recovery for long journeys to save costs. By 04:30 the next day we were home only about 24hrs since we last slept KNACKERED but relieved to be home….apparently non RAC recovery would be between £300 and £350 for the 250mile journey

20140701-163517-59717193.jpg
Alsace region of France

20140701-163614-59774321.jpg
White cliffs of Dover

20140701-163702-59822066.jpg
Hetty’s first journey from Cobham to Beckensfield

20140701-163808-59888774.jpg
Hetty’s second journey from Beckenfield to Knutsford

20140701-163904-59944050.jpg
And home

20140701-164033-60033460.jpg