Adventures with a Narcoleptic !

Wednesday 9 August

Set off today to Banbury where we parked up on an industrial estate in Banbury just 10 minutes from the train station. This trip I am accompanied by my old Scottish mate Glyn McSnoozy who I have known for nearly 40 years having worked with him on Green watch at West Bridgford fire station when we were both freshly out of training school. The reason for this jolly jaunt is that we are visiting the Great British Beer Festival and then the Cropredy Music Festival which is about 6 miles from Banbury.

The beer festival is at Olympia in London and we catch the train from Banbury into Marylebone station arriving just after 12.00. The weather is awful and has been raining even before setting off from home and is still hammering down on our arrival. Because it’s so wet, I chose an old pair of rugged shoes which I have probably not worn for a couple of years but think they will be more waterproof than my current all rounders.

Day One !

We walked to the train station in Banbury and spent an hour on the train before setting off from Marylebone when everything was hunky dory. Within 10 minutes of sloshing through the puddles I notice something is awry ! The stitching on my right shoe where the sole is connected to the upper has split slightly and there is about a 3 inch gap ! But oh no it doesn’t end there ! Another 25 yards and the front part of my sole completely detaches leaving me with a heel and a inner sole. Another 1/4 of a mile  and the inner sole comes away followed shortly by the heel completely, leaving me walking on a flimsy porous piece of fabric which was thankfully still connected to the upper.

So there I am hopping around the soggy streets of London and  so we had to think quickly on our feet ( see what I did there ! ) we suss out that there is a shoe shop near and failing that Oxford street is a little further. We set off and unfortunately ” The Little Shoe Shop” was for ladies with small feet which didn’t quite match my requirements, so Oxford Street it was then ! Walking another half mile led to the other shoe deciding to come out in sympathy with the right one and you guessed it the front part of the sole decided to come off that one as well.

So there I am now with no shoes on so to speak, luckily it wasn’t much further to Oxford street and we came up to Primark where I bought a new pair of shoes and a pack of 5 pairs of socks for £30. After paying for them I removed the soggy socks I had on and replaced them with a new pair and put on my new shoes, finding the nearest bin to ditch the remains of the objects formerly known as shoes !

Having been delayed by our impromptu detour we set off again for Olympia and arrived around 1.40 and by this time we were in desperate need of a beer. Luckily there was about 1000 to choose from. Around 2.30 my neighbour and friend Phil came to join us from Nottingham with his son Chris and the rest of the afternoon/ early evening was spent in convivial conversation liberally sprinkled with libation.

Around 6.45 we all left the festival , Phil & Chris going to catch their train back home whilst Glyn & I caught the various tubes to return us near to Marylebone  station where we ventured into the Weatherspoons at Baker Street for something to eat before catching the 9.10 train back to Banbury and arriving back at “Cis” around 10.20. Phil & Chris didn’t fair as well, as their train broke down on the journey home resulting in a switch of trains and missing their last bus home and eventually getting home just before Thursday began. Chris compounded his misery by losing  a bag on the way having left it on the first train.

Thursday 10 August

Up early this morning and away to the Cropredy music festival joining to queue to get onto the site by 6.30. We got onto our camping field about 7.30 which was quite a long journey to cover about 6 miles.

Once settled in we did the necessary ablutions and had breakfast before having a slow start and heading off for a gander around the village for a while as the festival doesn’t kick off the music until 4.00 today. Having looked at the pretty naff stalls unless Tie Die is your thing, we settled upon the Red Lion pub where we took up our position in the Graveyard opposite with another hundred folk. Luckily we had brought our collapsible seats and we sat out in the glorious sunshine for a couple of hours until it was time to return and pack the rusksacks before queuing to get in and grab our position in the event field and await the start of the music.

Just a small one for Glyn !

There are 20,000 people expected and is a sold out show for Fairport Conventions 50 years in the business. Young Indie band they are not !

Today’s artists began with an acoustic set by Fairport themselves followed by Feast of Fiddles, Show of Hands, The Trevor Horn Band and finally Divine Comedy. Most were fairly average with the worst being Divine Comedy who in our opinion were pretty dire although speaking to others, they loved them. The best of the day were the Trevor Horn band who were excellent. You may of not heard of him but he is very well known in the industry and was the big glasses man in the Buggles who sang Video Killed the Radio Stars. He also played the music in Frankie Goes to Holliwood. One of his band is Lol Creme of Godley and Creme and 10 CC. Excellent and well worth catching them if they come to a town near you.

Having given up on the Divine Comedy we took our gear back to the camping field and wandered into the village to the other pub the Brasenose Arms, for a few before last orders and then time for bed said Zeberdee !

Friday 11 August

After showers and breakfast it was back to queueing to get in for the second day’s event which started today at 12.00. The lineup today began with a young couple called Josie Duncan & Pablo Lafuente who were excellent. In fact all of the bands today were a step up from yesterday’s fayre ( except Trevor Horn ). Next was the Gerry Colvin band, Quill, Gigspanner, CC Smugglers, the Pierce Brothers, Petula Clark ( yes you read that right ) and Richard Thompson.

Day Two !

Angel spreads her Wings

Not quite the van I am used to !

The highlight again was the Pierce Brothers from Melbourne who were brilliant as they had been last year. Petula Clark is 84 and her voice is understandably not what it used to be but the many ex Hippies in the audience appreciated her efforts.

Today we had a light rain for about an hour at 5 ish but getting under our rain ponchos soon kept us dry and then the sun came out and we were back on form again.

Two music fans !

The most popular marquee

We stuck with the programme today until finish when we returned to “Cis” and hit the sack again.

Saturday 12 August

Today’s events kicked off again at 12.00 and began with Ashley Hutchings ( formerly Fairport Convention ) and Morris On which were Morris dancing orientated and didn’t really do it for me. The rest of today’s line up was: Judy Dyble ( pretty awful and needs to realise her voice has gone ! ), Plainsong ( good ) Cats in Space ( 70’s style rockers. Good ) Marillion ( good ) Dougie McLean ( excellent) and finishing with farewell from Fairport Convention with a host of guests, some from today’s artists and also Ralph Mactell.

Day Three !

Largest Morris Dance in the World !

He’s awake now !

All in all a good day with some lovely sunshine and no rain . Good weather, Good Music, Good Beer and of course Good company with my mate Glyn, although he may have a different slant on things ! What more could you want ?

Festival Headgear !

Sunday 13 August

So return to Home day and after ablutions and breakfast it was time to head off, unfortunately “Cis” loved it so much here, she didn’t want to leave. When it came to starting the engine the battery decided not to provide enough juice to do it. Bummer ! This resulted into a nice offer of a jump start from one of our neighbours being gratefully accepted and then we were under starters orders and go ! Arriving home around 11.15

That’s it for now folks but don’t worry Jane & I are going on another adventure in less than a weeks time, so check in again soon

Take care Pat X

Life is but a Circus !

Friday 14 July

Happy Bastille Day

Well here we are with the final instalment of our latest French escapades. It is very brief and unfortunately includes no photos

Continuing our ever northbound journey, we set off for a favourite stop of ours at Hardelot Plage where they have got two good free Aires with access to the little village on the coast. We often stop here and have a nice meal on our last night before the final hours drive to Calais the following morning to catch the ferry.

On the way here we come into the small town of Etaples which looks very nice but is rammed. Being a kind gentleman, I let out of a junction what I believe to be an articulated Lorry. When it pulled out I then realised it was a circus troupe pulling 3 more large trailers. In Australia the road trains are not that long and you wouldn’t be allowed to drive them through small towns along the coast !

We stop for more provisions to take home at the supermarket and allow the circus vehicles to move on . As we are driving towards Hardelot we see the signs saying Circus at Hardelot Plage beginning tomorrow 15 July. When we arrive at our Aire we find that this is where they are having the Big Top and there are camels, horses, donkeys etc chained along the road ( No Tigers ! )

I don’t want to appear prejudiced but I am not happy sharing an Aire with a large circus troupe and associated animals. We decide to move on up to try another Aire in Wissant near Calais. Would you believe it, the same dates there is another circus here for the same weekend and the Aire is absolutely Chokka.

We decide to backtrack a little and forego the Aires to go to a campsite we have used before in a place called Guines. It is quite expensive here but we decide it isn’t worth keep driving along to find somewhere we can pitch up for the night.

Having bit the bullet and paid 34 Euros for the night, we find the bar and chill for a couple of beers having a brief chat  with a couple from Staffordshire. We bump in to them a while later and of all the people we know who can rattle on incessantly  ( Yes you know who you are ! ) these guys can beat you hands down. They are market traders in Hanley and I bet they sell a bomb. They Hardly draw breath but are such fun to talk to. I exchange some pink toilet rinse  for a bottle of rip off perfume smell alike! Bargain !

The restaurant here is very good and we have an excellent three course meal for 21 Euros each. Having enjoyed our last day we have an early night as we are up before 6.00 to catch the ferry tomorrow and set off for home with scheduled arrival at lunchtime.

That’s it for now folks. I am away with “Cis” in August with my Scottish mate Glyn at Cropredy music festival and then Jane & I go to Formby near Liverpool later on the month with our friends Pete & Nina and their Motorhome. Catch up with you guys later. Hope you are enjoying the blog and the photos

TTFN

P & J xx

Lazing around at Lyons La Foret !

Wednesday 12 July

We got up at 7.00 this morning and set off towards our next place nice & early as the weather forecast said it was going to be pants and guess what, it was correct! We did a supermarket & breakfast stop en route beginning to stock up with La Vin Rouge to take home to last us the year ( Yes folks it does actually last us more than a fortnight when we get home !! )

Our final stop for the day is at Lyons La Foret which is a beautiful village believe it or not situated in the middle of a large forest. If you ever get the chance to come here it is stunning and very accessible from Calais being a few hours away particularly for those not driving a 5 tonne beast like mine and can afford the tolls !

The campsite here is a municipal one ( St Paul ) but very nice having a good mix between static homes and pitches for caravans & motorhomes. And although it is now peak season was less than 50 Euros for two nights including electricity and free access to the municipal swimming pool. The facilities are fairly basic but ok with plenty of hot water in the showers and provided loo roll which is not always the case in France !

We pitch up and have a cuppa because it is still raining and after an hour, the rain stops and although it is not brilliant sunshine it is still warm and we get some blue sky though the clouds.

We venture up into the town and have a good wander around before settling in the market place for a drink outside the main bar for the square. By now the rain has passed and we enjoy the fresh air and occasional sunshine whilst having a beer.

The forest around the village was a former royal hunting area and had at one time a fortified castle in the middle which was completely destroyed with very little evidence it was here.

I spied a good book called” The official guide to the most beautiful villages in France “ in the tourist information centre which we just have to buy to help with planning future itineraries.

After wandering around for a while more we return back to “Cis” and look at our new purchase and I get the opportunity to update the blog in regards to where we have been since Beynac.

Thursday 13 July

I went out for probably the last early morning sortie on my bike this morning cycling up to Fleury La Foret and the Chateau nearby although that was closed that early in the morning. On my return to Lyons La Foret I continued cycling around the extremes of the village before returning to the campsite for breakfast.

The Police are investigating a report about missing Tradesmen !

Snow White had found the house the Seven Dwarves lived in !

After breakfast and showers we had another walk into the village with me showing Jane some of the bits I had discovered earlier. It was one of the three market days but the Fishmongers, Fruit stall, Meat stall and Clothing stall were the markets entirety and paled a little in comparison to Bingham.

We had lunch at the same cafe we had used yesterday when there had been three couples including us the whole lunchtime. Today the market place was full at the open air tables so market days are the times to come for people watching and atmosphere.

Following on from lunch we return to “Cis” when I am able to post this next instalment of the blog. The rest of the afternoon we plan to just chill and have French Cheese & Biscuits/Bread for tea and not venture far.

Tomorrow we travel up to Hardelot Plage which is about an hour away from Calais for our final day before we return on Saturday to the UK. I will finish off the rest of the blog hopefully over the weekend from home.

Ouch, Mind That *=#~+&% Wall !

Sunday 9 July

We had a leisurely start this morning kicked off with a couple of Bacon Butties, pity the Baguette used for the bread was as tough as old Nag Nails ! By the time we had packed up, showered, posted the Blog and said our farewells it was 12.00 just in time to not incur any further days cost.

We had a steady drive up over the hills again and passing through a small town with a Sunday market we were behind a young lad driving his fathers car with father inside. Because of the market, parking was atrocious and the road we all wanted to travel along would only allow a single direction of traffic to pass. I stopped well back but the lad decides to go and ends up with a forward & reversing manoeuvre with cars coming the other way. One of his reverses  ended up with him scraping big time his Dads car along the wall of a house. He continued another 30 yards to get through the road and pulled up to examine the damage. Now that the road was clear, we continued down the gap. Dad and Son were by now  out of the car and we could hear the row that was going off well before we passed them. It’s a good job I don’t understand French that well because I’m sure there were a few expletives amongst the vitriol thrown at poor laddo ! I’m writing this 3 days later and I’m sure he’s still getting a severe tabholing from his father. ( for my out of town followers, this means getting a right ear bashing ! )

We had been recommended Bourdeilles as a place to visit and found the aire easily after negotiating the numerous rather large rock formations which stick out in the road and forced a rather nervous motorhome driver into the oncoming traffic. ( If everyone stuck to the correct way of driving on the Left side of the road, this wouldn’t have been a problem ! ). IThe Aire is only a large Grass field but there are the usual dumping/water facilities although they have an extra charge. We paid 6 Euros which if you compare with our first night where all facilities plus electric was only 5 Euros, it was a bit of a rip off.

The little village has, you guessed it a Chateau, and the ruins of a previous castle and medieval walls. It was very pretty and worth a stop. We had a good look around stopping in a very quaint, typical French restaurant/bar for a swift half before chilling beside “Cis” for the afternoon & evening having a very nice Shrimp Cannelloni for tea.

Could do with a tidy up !

We watched this bloke spend 15 minutes levelling his Van !

 

Monday 10 July

Leaving Bourdeilles behind we continue North reaching the town of Aregenton Sur Creuse which is very busy as it seems to be a major cross route to everywhere.

On arriving in the town I found the route to the Aire but was confronted with two signs; one said prohibited above 3.4 Metres ( no problem, we are only 3.1 Metres ) the other said prohibited above 3.5 Tonnes ( 1 ½ tonnes too heavy ! ) I stopped “Cis” and ran up the road to check out how the land lied. There was a bridge under the railway but I could see no problem with the weight so I drove down and parked up. ( Naughty Naughty !, need to watch out for the French Letter in the Post. [No not that type of French Letter ! you perv ].) The Aire is just a large gravel car park for the sports centre with no facilities. There was an open toilet block but I didn’t venture into it.

After parking up we had our usual Perambulation around the town but the clouds were becoming darker. There were  a few nice views but we daren’t venture far because of fear of rain.We had a Tapas meal in a small restaurant/bar which was ok but not the best. Having eaten it we just managed to get back to the Aire before it Mega hammered it down. The car park was awash and we had two or three torrential thunderstorms throughout the evening but we were nice and dry inside.

Tuesday 11 July

The Boulangerie girl came round with her bread van in the morning which was a nice touch and saved having to go into town for some.

By now the swimming pool, er sorry ! car park, had dried out sufficiently to be able to drive away from and we set off to our next stop of Chateaudun some 3 hours further North. On arrival we found the Aire to be very small and not a lot of room to park “Cis” in. It had the usual dumping/water facilities including a rudimentary toilet ( Hole in the ground Ladies ! ) and the Chateau and park at the bottom looked worth a further exploration. We had a cup of tea and decided to head a few miles further North to see the next Aire at Marboue. When we came to it we weren’t allowed to turn left and the way signposted to get to it looked a little too tight for a 9 metre van. We continued further North for a few more miles and came to Bonneval.

Chateaudun. bit of a squeeze !

Quelle Surprise ! Bonneval is a very beautiful little town with canals passing through the centre and everywhere is covered with flowers. The Aire is on a general car park but again has normal facilities (Free) and also has 3 toilets. The toilets unfortunately were locked though which I think was a sign of respect for George Michael ! come on guys he’s been dead months now !

We parked up and went for another walk around finding a nice little open air bar to have a cold Affligem. As it was lunchtime, as usual the shops were all shut which Jane says is a deliberate ploy to keep her from spending any money. Result !

Having wandered around for an hour or two we returned to “Cis” and spent the afternoon with Jane reading the paper and myself processing my photos and writing the notes for the blog ready to post hopefully tomorrow when we reach a campsite.

Hills, Heat, and yet more Hills !

Friday 7 July

This morning I cycled up to the small village of Cazenac a few miles behind Beynac. Which is all uphill through the forest on a little road, but was worth the effort as I got a very nice view of a couple of Hot Air Balloons behind Baynec Chateau. The return trip was great because I could freewheel virtually all the way down again.

Today the temperature has reached 36 degrees C ! We’re melting ! Apart from sitting under the canopy in the shade back at “Cis” we have been swimming in the pool all day trying to grab as much shade as possible. This campsite is brilliant but for one fault and that there are not enough sun parasols around the pool side. It certainly wasn’t a day for climbing the hill up to Beynac village again.

We have tea at home today rather than get changed and go out. It’s too hot to mess around so after showering we just chill with a glass of wine. Unfortunately the wine has been inside “Cis” all day and it would be very favourable at Christmas and you wanted warmed Mulled wine but even in the cool of the evening ( 27 degrees ) it was almost ( I did  say almost ! ) too warm to drink. But being the true troopers that we are we persevered.

We gave it until 11.15 to call  it a night and it had cooled down outside, and both had seemed to have avoided the biting things, although I did burn my finger on the Mozzie coil ( Patrick you can be such a Muppet sometimes ! )  so we tried to settle down to what was probably still 30 degrees inside ( I know Pete , stop moaning ! ) to attempt the nights sleep.

Saturday 8 July

This mornings run out on the Steel Machine was to Daglan which strangely enough was not up a hill with a Chateau overlooking it, but it was still very pretty. Whilst there were some old parts of the village there was some tastefully modernised and revamped places too. The beauty of this trip was that 90% of it was on a cycleway or on very small roads with zilch traffic. The other good thing this morning was that at 7.00 it was cloudy and cool, perfect.

On my return and after breakfast we unfortunately had to move pitches as the one we were on had been reserved from today ( I did know on our arrival but kept fingers crossed for a cancellation ! )

the new spot was only 100 yards away and only took 20 minutes to move and reset the awning, carpet, elecs etc.

After that the sun was breaking through and the day was turning into another scorcher so we hit the pool again to keep cool. Jane was hanging out with her new pal Alfie and I read my book with regular dips to refresh the parts other beers cannot reach !

Archie on Baywatch duty !

View from the Pool !

Just after lunchtime my new friend Stephen had to nip out in his hire car to fetch some essentials for his youngest Archie and agreed to drop me off on the way  in the beautiful old village ( yet again atop another hill ! ) of Domme which has a stunning view over the Dordogne and is very picturesque.

After an hour taking a few photos up there and a quick beer to refresh ourselves from the by now ever increasing oppressive heat we returned to the site where I needed to hit the cool of the pool again.

Our M.O  for the evening is cooking a nice steak on the camp kitchen and chilling with a beer or glass of wine ( Not too many ! ) before our planned leave tomorrow morning to Bordeilles which we have been recommended. If we can’t get in the Aire there then we will try Brantome a few miles further North as we begin our journey towards Calais, albeit it will take a week to get there.

We were joined later by Steven & Anne and Boys ( sorry Guys, got the correct spelling this time ) for a few glasses of wine and sociable company before hitting the sack around midnight

This will be the last post for a while as I don’t know when I’ll get WIFI again, so catch you later

Cometh the Corner, Cometh the Chateau !

Wednesday 5 July

We set off from St Cirq before 9.00 and Mrs Sat Nag decided to throw a wobbler ! She sent me up the mountain road past the hilltop town but after a mile I decided against it as there was some mighty tight bends and very thin roads. Luckily there was a big coach park at the very top of the hill which allowed me to turn around and go back past the town. I think I must have entered the coordinates wrong as the nearer we headed to Cahors the longer it was telling me the journey would take. Jane took over with the map until I could reprogramme it.

The journey out of St Cirq along the river Lot is a memorable one as well, as there are sheer cliffs alongside the road with tunnels dug out of it as well as overhangs as low as 2.8 metres if you stick to the right of the road. “Cis” is 3.1 metres which meant that a lot of time I was driving on the wrong side of the road away from the cliff.  We had a few occasions when we had a tight squeeze alongside lorries coming the other way.

When we reached Cahors it was time to fill up with Diesel as well as provisions for the fridge. We spotted a LeClerc supermarket and took up 4 bays in their carpark. After our shop and loading up, we resumed our journey. Mrs Sat Nag again started acting up when she kept switching off every time I tried to turn her on which again resulted in Jane navigating by map. It’s a good job Jane is an excellent navigator. Well done partner ! ( Any body want to buy a second hand Sat Nav, one careful owner !! )

So we’ve left the Lot behind and now descend on to the Dordogne when we finally reach our destination just after 1.00 and settled onto a pitch. The campsite is Le Capeyrou and is at Beynac et Cazenac just below the castle on top of the rock alongside the river Dordogne. I think we have a thing for little towns and villages up on top of hills !

After sorting ourselves out ( and putting Sat Nag on deep charge for the next four days ) we had a nice cold beer in the garden of the lovely bar. Then we ( Jane ) did the washing and then we hit the pool ! Man it was brilliant ! Today is about 32 degrees C again and it was fantastic to cool off in the water. I think that pool and me are going to become inseparable friends !

After spending the afternoon by the pool we returned to ” Cis” and spent the evening in the shade and had some French cheeses and bread or biscuits with a little French wine. I prepared a few photos in readiness to post the next Blog instalment tomorrow

Thursday 6 July

Went off on my bike for a brisk cycle around the area and literally there is a Chateau around every  bend of the river Dordogne. What a beautiful area.

Greenhouse for sale cheap. Must provide own Glass !

Giz us a Hug !

After breakfast we climbed the steep hill up to the top of Beynac where yet another Chateau is perched on top of a huge rock face. Whilst it was warm today it wasn’t as hot as yesterday and so was easily managed.

We had a good wander around the little lanes and it is certainly worth a stop and explore around this old town if you are ever in the area. We will certainly  be back ( Just like Arnie ! )

Getting a Window Cleaner here is a Bitch !

Ariel view of our campsite

After exploring for an hour or two we descended ( always the better part of any hill ! ) back down to the river level and had a drink in a very nice little bar/ restaurant opposite the campsite.

We returned to the site and then swam and sat around the pool for the afternoon albeit by now it was very cloudy but still very warm. Finishing off the afternoon after showering we went back to the bar we had been in previously and had a lovely meal cooked by the Dutch owners who gave me a few tips for where to go in September when we plan to visit Holland ( Keep your eyes peeled for that one )

On our return to the site we bumped into a Scottish couple Stephen and Ann and their two kids Alfie & Archie, who we had spoken to around the pool yesterday. They were up for a beer so we spent a very nice evening with those guys until it was time to hit the sack.

Lounging by the Lot !

Sunday 2 July

There may be Trouble ahead !

Bidding farewell to Villeneuve Les Beziers we set off North back along the Free motorway where we were buffeted around due to the ever present wind for several miles until we reached the Millau bridge, where unbelievably it began to recede. Very shortly after that we turned off the motorway and headed West towards the river Lot. Instead of the wind we had to suffer very heavy and wet mist which made visibility very bad and was quite a strenuous drive concentrating where the next bend was coming up. This continued until we reached Rodez where it finally lifted and allowed us to continue the next 50 miles in clear visibility until we reached our destination.

St Cirq Lapopie, which as many of you may remember is where we have been a number of times and is one of our favourite places in France. It is built on a huge rock overlooking the river Lot valley with sheer cliffs for much of the terrain.

We park up on the aire and stroll down the river for a short while before chilling outside “Cis” where the cloud broke up a little giving us brief glimpses of blue sky and sunshine. This is forecast for the next few days so fingers crossed ! We stay inside for tea and the rest of the evening contemplating our next move tomorrow.

Monday 3 July

This morning was quite overcast so we decided to go for a bike ride. We cycled along the river Lot and came upon a boat lock at a place called Ginal. There wasn’t anything here except a walkway that has been hewn into the vertical rock face which allows you to continue walking for about 1/2 kilometre before the river moves away from the cliff and returns to a normal path and then opens out into a flat pasture bringing us to the village of Bouzies. Here you can go on boat trips which take you along the river passing St Cirq Lapopie.

We had a wander around the village with me getting told off for wanting to take photos of a rusty old rail bridge and eventually ending up on a terrace of a hotel overlooking the river and their swimming pool. Here we refreshed ourselves with a nice cold beer ( very apt in a village called Bouzies ! ) before returning back to the Aire.

The 08.17 to Cahors is a little late !

Wood you believe it !

By this time the sun was fully out so we chose to stay the afternoon by “Cis” enjoying the sunshine and relaxing. We had tea here and apart from me nipping off for an hour to take a few photos sat outside until about 10.15 when the nibbling things forced us inside to take refuge in bed

Tuesday 4 July

We woke up this morning to a real thick mist and we couldn’t even see St Cirq where we have planned to walk up the very steep hill and have lunch. Undeterred we set off around 10.30 and took a steady hike up the hill. By now the mist had gone and it was the making of a extremely hot day topping out around 32 degrees C which we don’t see a lot of in dear old Blighty. Us Brits are never happy with the weather. Too Hot !, Too Cold !, Too Wet !, Who’s been sleeping in my bed !

After wandering around for an hour we need a cold beer and choosing a very nice shady patio area in a lovely  Restaurant, we opted for a nice glass of Leffe. This was followed by another, and by that time it was Lunchtime. I had a very nice Cassoulet and Jane had a warm Rocamadour cheese salad. Both of which were delicious. 2 1/2 hours later after acting like real French folk we came out to a roasting afternoon. Good job it was all downhill on the way back!

On our return to the Aire we did absolutely flap all as it was too hot to move. I opened every vent and window and put out the awning to grab as much shade as possible. We both had cold showers later but it was still a very uncomfortable night in terms of sleeping. My good friends Pete & Nina have been suffering 40 degrees down in Spain in their Motorhome. How could you guys stand it !

Tomorrow we are planning to go to a campsite which has a swimming pool. I don’t think I’ll leave it all day !

 

Battened down in Beziers !

Tuesday 27 June

Well it continued to hammer down all night long but thankfully stopped just before I got up at 6.20 to go for a blast along the cycleway ( Yes there is more than one 6.20 in each day ! ) I went the opposite way to Annecy this time going down to the South Western tip of the lake at Doussard. By this time, the roads were getting very busy with early morning rush hour traffic, so after an hour I returned back to our site.

The weather is going to remain a bit hit and miss for a while so we set off towards the West with a plan to settle down in the Dordogne area. We drove for about 4 hours and settled onto a nice aire at a place called Boulieau de Annonay.  Which did fill up later but we arrived in plenty of time to get a decent space.

We had a wander into the little town but is was very unphotogenic and lacked much character except it was pretty old and had a medieval church. We returned to the aire and sat out in the sunshine enjoying the warmth whilst it lasted and had a nice chicken salad knocked up by Madame Chef

Wednesday 28 June

Still checking out the weather forecast,the rain is expected right across the country and the temperature is set to drop drastically in the Dordogne. Pants !. We make the decision to head South down the FREE motorway, the A75 down to Beziers to get back to a much warmer clime. We would have liked to go down to Cannes to see our friends Dawn & Rog and our God Daughters Gemma & Jessica and respective families but we are too far West to make reasonable progress down towards the far South East. Catch you later you Guys !

We set off very early and made good time after a Breakfast stop, and a supermarket and fuel break, arriving around 3.00. It rained as expected but we managed to get through the mountains before it hit us particularly hard.

On arrival at out campsite, Les Bergs Du Canal, it rained again with a heavy thunderstorm at 5.30 but not before we had partaken in a couple of beers sat on the terrace of the bar alongside the Canal Du Midi. You understand this was purely for therapeutic benefits in allowing us to unwind after the long journey today !

Having battened down the awning with straps to ward of the effects of the wind we did some washing ( When I say WE, you know who I mean ! ) and sheltered eating our tea of French Bread & Cheeses Au Naturel ( I don’t mean Naked you Perv, I mean in the open air close to nature ! ) before settling down again listening to the rain & wind contemplating tomorrows agenda

Thursday 29 June

The day for me started off with a whizz off on my bike for an hour along to Beziers and down to Les Neuf Ecluses de Fonseranes, a 9 gated set of locks on the Canal, which was unfortunately all partitioned off for construction works. I may be able to get to from the other bank on another day. The journey was a nightmare, battling against the constant wind, but its good to burn off some calories.

On my return, we had a bacon & French baguette for breakfast and caught up with some more washing and hung around “Cis”, luckily the sunshine was back out around lunchtime and we could chill in the warmth & let the awning & washing dry out.

In the evening we had a stroll into the small town centre of Villeneuve de Beziers and had a beer in the central market place before choosing a restaurant down along the canal. The food was excellent and we both chose fish dishes which were delicious followed by a “Dame Blanche” ice cream for me and a Crepe with ice cream and chocolate sauce for Jane Scrummy !

It’s Art you know !

Ladies, pick up your Knitting and fight

When I said I needed the House Painting !!

 

Friday 30 June

Another early morning start off on my bike led me back to the Locks but on the other side of the canal at that point. I managed to get partly round but some of it was still fenced off. We have been reliably informed that the construction work finishes today and will be open tomorrow, but not sure if that is after I am likely to be there.

After breakfast, we both cycle off to Beziers along the Canal and after walking through the park and the Allees Paul Riquet which is a tree lined open place in the centre of town. We had a wander through the backstreets to the Cathedral  and then returned to where we left our bikes for a beer sat outside in café with seating in Allees Paul Riquet.

Handbag for Ladies on the Go !

We were pretty underwhelmed with Beziers and so after our drinks we returned on our bikes to the campsite.

We relaxed sat under the awning back at “Cis”, but it has got even more windy and with intermittent cloud is a little cooler than it has been.

For Tea, Jane cooked a superb Chateaubriand which after eating we returned inside “Cis” but not before winding in the awning as we know people who have left it out and regretted it when the van has been damaged ! ( Not us, Honest ! )

Saturday 1 July

The Awning is well and truly away for a while as the wind is even stronger. My early morning cycle resulted in an extreme Aerobic workout battling against the wind as I returned to the campsite. Today’s jaunt was towards Serignan & the beach at Serignan Plage which is a pretty featureless and boring beach. Going their was better than the return. Nothing much to photo this morning.

We decide to have a day chilling by “Cis” with a visit to the pool if we can find a sheltered spot. it gives us chance to catch up with the blog and look at emails etc. tonight’s plan is to have a steady saunter into Villeneuve for a drink and then return to “Cis” for a home made Chilli

Mugged by Motorway Mafia !

Sunday 25 June

We have made the executive decision to leave early and miss out the planned stopover at an aire for tonight by continuing on to Annecy, as the weather forecast is worse later in the week and we are expecting Thunderstorms. By arriving earlier we stand a better chance of a couple of days of sunshine.

We elected to cut down on about a 3 ½ hour driving time saving from 8 ½  hours to 5 hours by jumping on the motorway knowing that it will cost a few bob ! Oh how wrong we were !!

I feel violated ! We have done around 200 miles on the motorway and it cost me *^!#’#**! 57 Euros. What a #*^@!~#’ Rip Off !! Next time bugger the length of time it takes. We could have caught a Ryanair flight to Nice for both of us for that much ! Robbing $#~’=*&’s !

To make things worse, when we arrive in Annecy around 11.00, the traffic is absolutely manic, with traffic queues everywhere. There is a two day Triathlon event on and everywhere is crammed. We find out that the campsite that we had sussed out is full so we venture a few miles further south along the lake. We find a very nice one called Le Solitaire Du Lac. This one has plenty of room and takes the old ACSI card at a rate of 17.60 Euros per night including electricity.

After calming down for an hour or two ( Breathe Pat Breathe ! ), we wander down to the edge of the Lake. We thought the traffic was bad ! You should see the beach on the edge. It’s like Blackpool on a Bank Holiday. The difference is it’s Hot, Sunny and has a beautiful view, but with only a few inches between sweaty bodies next to you we decide to continue on our wander further along until we pass the marina. I think it’s better to come down to the beach on other days than the weekend.

Cue Hawaii 5 0 music !

After our saunter around, we decide on a takeaway Pizza from the mobile Pizza van on site and chill for the rest of the evening in the dwindling sunshine

Monday 26 June

Today is a lot cooler and we’ve had a few drops of rain but nothing serious. It has not stopped us from cycling into the old town of Annecy along the great tarmacced cycle pathway by the side of the lake. The town is very pretty and reminds us a little of Venice because of the couple of canals which run through the old town.

The Journey from campsite to town takes around 30 minutes and having secured the bikes, we mosey around for the rest of the morning. At lunchtime we pick a very nice restaurant that serves a cracking Burger with local blue cheese and a cheesy bacon & onion Tartiflette both of which were delicious.

Spit the Dog !!

Health & Safety !!

Puppet on a String !!

Take me to your Leader !

After lunch we continue our look around before cycling back through the very gentle but refreshing rain as it is very humid today.

On our return, we chill whilst I catch up with updating the blog and uploading my photos.

At this very moment as I do this, our ignorant French neighbours have just set up their table and chairs to eat their tea. This is of course, more than acceptable, however leaving your motorhome door open and watching the French equivalent of Eastenders at a volume that the people bathing at the lake can hear is not !! Mon Dieu !! I’m now searching through my music collection on my phone to see if I’ve got any Thrash Metal I can play with the volume cranked up to 11 ( brief nod to Spinal Tap ! )

Unfortunately ( except it quietened Mr & Mrs Escargot next door ) the rain came in very heavy around 8.00 but we were safely in the dry under our awning. Not so with the Bed as we had forgotten to close the roof lights and so we had to resort to the Hairdryer to return it to a suitable condition to be able to sleep in it before we went to bed.

A Bollard, a Wall and a Painted House

Thursday 22 June

Set off from home arriving at Marine Parade ( free parking after 6.00 for fellow motorhomes ) in Dover around 8.30 in the evening to find that the first pub ” The Port of Call” which we have visited before and enjoyed the beer had just shut because it wasn’t busy ? Come on get a life ! There are thirsty people out there in desperate need of a beer after a 4 hour drive down to Dover !  Moving on from there we visited the “Spoons” which was not the most salubrious but the beer was ok and cheap ( always a plus in my tightass  Yorkshire opinion ! )

Friday 23 June

Got up at 6.00 to drive the short distance to the ferry. Unfortunately Herman the German had squeezed his motorhome in front of me leaving a Knats whisker between him and my front bumper. luckily I had left a little room behind me to reverse and pull out. Because of the tight squeeze, I had to veer out quite sharpish which resulted in the back end of “Cis” catching a Bollard and doing a little damage to the panel which I had just had replaced at a cost of 300 quid from a previous altercation with a wooden fence whilst in London last time !!  Thanks a million Herman!

Having breakfasted on the ferry we arrived in Calais around 10.00 and drove incident free thank God until we found our stop for the night in a place called Coucy le Chateau. The Aire here is fairly small but great with about 6 official hard standing spaces and room for another 3 unofficially. The official ones have electricity, water and a rather nice private toilet for the princely sum of 5 Euros. Bargain !

Having connected up we wandered up into the small village which is dominated by a medieval wall which surrounds the place and had a fully functioning Chateau until it was destroyed by the Germans in the First World War. The centre is not very big but has a few bars and restaurants, one of which we slaked our thirsts in with a couple of very nice Leffes. After which we had a good wander around and found they were setting up for a medieval festival which was due to start next weekend.

I Can see You !

We ventured into the area where they were setting up and was stopped by an eccentric artist lady who was painting the scenery. She was lovely and even though we weren’t going to be there at the time of the festival, she took us all around the stage area and eventually dropped us off at the tourist information place to get more input on what was going to happen. We didn’t have the heart to tell her  we were moving on the next day!

Having completed our perambulations around the village we returned to “Cis” for tea sitting in the lovely evening sun, until it was time to call it a night

Saturday 24 June

Leaving Coucy le Chateau we drove for 41/2 hours with a quick Supermarket stop for essentials until we arrived at our next destination.
This was a little town called Laignes well inside the Champagne grape  growing district. The Aire we had chosen is another fairly small place at the side of a pretty little river. We elected to stay by”Cis” for the afternoon where we chilled out and then had a nice Salmon salad for tea. I had  a very brief wander with my camera but otherwise we stopped where we were because it was so beautiful. We were also rewarded with  the sight of a Kingfisher zooming up and down the river but sadly no photo opportunities

an Ettamogah Barn for my Ozzie friends !

You get a more sophisticated Graffiti artist in France !