Boris 2014

 Places we went 2014

New Forest – Hampshire

January 2014

France & Spain March/April 2014

  • Brezolles – Region: Centre – Department: Eure-et-Loir
  • Vigeois – Region: Limousin & Auvergne – Department: Corrèze
  • Ax-les-Thermes – Region: Midi-Pyrénées – Department: Ariége
  • Cambrils – Cataluna – Spain
  • Delta de l’Ebre – Amposta – Cataluna
  • Mataro – Cataluna
  • Sant Pere Pescador – Cataluna
  • Empuries
  • Rodez – Region: Midi-Pyrenees – Department: Aveyron
  • Millau Viaduct
  • Oradour Sur Glane – Region: Limousin & Auvergne – Department: Haute Vienne
  • Amboise – Region: Centre – Department: Indre-et-Loire
  • Chateaux Chenonceau
  • Marcilly-sur-Eure – Region: Haute-Normandie – Department: Eure
  • Ambleteuse – Region: Nord-Pas-De-Calais – Department: Pas-De-Calais

Aberbran – Brecon

May 2014

Germany June 2014 – Rhine in Flames

  • Ypres
  • Menin Gate
  • Strepy-Thieu boat lift
  • Ronquieres Incline Plane
  • Koblenz
  • Maria Laach
  • Black Forest
  • Gengenbach
  • Triberg
  • Schonach
  • Rhinefalls
  • Bad Waldsee
  • Hymer Museum
  • Insel Mainau
  • Lake Constance/Bodensee
  • Wildberg
  • Geisenheim
  • Rudesheim

South of France – Provence – Carmargue

September 2014

  • Mareuil Sur Ay – Region: Champagne – Department: Marne
  • Givry – Region:Burgundy – Department:Côte-d-Or
  • Treffort – Region:Rhône-Alpes – Department:Isère
  • Lac Monteyard
  • Himalayan rope bridges
  • Stes Maries-de-la-Mer – Region:Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur – Department:Bouches-du-Rhone
  • Bedoin – Region:Provence-Alples-Cote d’Azur – Department:Vaucluse
  • Lagorce – Region:Rhone-Alpes – Department- Ardeche
  • Fleurie – Region:Rhone-Alpes – Department:Rhone
  • Digoin – Region:Burgundy – Department:Saone-et-Loire
  • Vincelles – Region:Burgundy – Department:Yonne
  • Chablis
  • Arras – Region: Nord-Pas-de-Calais – Department: Pas-de-Calais

Torcross – Devon

  • Start Point Lighthouse
  • Beesands
  • Hallsands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5th January 2014

Black Hill Cottage CL – The New Forest

 

It is a horrid wet weekend in the UK.  Many areas are flooded due to heavy rainfall and swollen rivers.  There have also been tidal surges to add to the misery.  It is my birthday tomorrow and I wanted to get away for a few days as it has been such a long time since we went travelling and I have itchy feet.

This CL has been on my map for a while and so we headed off.  It was a real eye opener as so many fields are under water.  Apart from a delay getting through Salisbury we got here easily.  It is just off the A36 and on the edge of the New Forest.  It is an old orchard with 5 hardstandings and a central water tap.  The ground is relatively level and we had a warm welcome from the owner.  Filling up with water was difficult as the pipe attachment was just a straight pipe and so we couldn’t attach the hose and had to use a water carrier but is no big issue.

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The rain hasn’t stopped but we still took the dogs for a little walk.

 

Monday 6th January

My birthday and I still had to cook my breakfast! The sun came out and we took the dogs for a walk in the forest. We seen some ponies and I got to smooth them which was great.  We got back to the van and the heavens opened and it rained until the next morning.

Tuesday 7th January

Went for a walk and harvested some logs!!

 

23rd March

Aire – Brezolles

Region – Centre

Department – Eure-et-Loir

 

Left home at 8.20 on the Sunday morning to travel to Dover with Marc asleep in the back! A good journey stopping at services on M25 for a cuppa. Got to Dover at 1.30 and managed to swap to an earlier crossing of 14.45.

Arrived in Calais at 17.30 (French time). Got onto A16 and travelled onwards to an AIRE in Brezolles. We arrived at 22.30 and parked in a corner with 7 others on site.

 

24th March

Aire – Lac de Pontcharal – Vigeois

Region: Limousin & Auvergne

Department: Corrèze

 

Left Brezolles at 8.00am- we were the last to arrive and the first to depart!

Marc drove most of the way – I took over for the last two hours and when we got near Vigeois we noticed an AIRE signposted off the D3 Lac de Pontcharal which looked new and joked that if ours 5 miles ahead was rubbish we could always come back here!

We got to our AIRE which was called the same which confused me. It was a muddy, small, sloping site where it looked like a lot of fires had been lit.  We couldn’t get the dog peg in and had to tie the dogs to a tree. At this point we decided to move further along to a flatter bit and Marc noticed lots of wire in the fires. I put the fish pie in the oven and Marc walked the dogs.  When he came back we decided to put in some water and so maneuvered the van to the service point and found that we had to pay. At this point we had blown a fuse and decided to go to ‘the other AIRE’. Well after much deliberation we decided that this was the AIRE only it had been relocated and not mentioned in the AIRE book.  It was nice and flat with marked out bays but no service point and I will let Vicarious Books know when we get back.

Total mileage 746 miles since home!

 

25th March

 

ACSI Le Malazéou – Ax-les-Thermes

Region: Midi-Pyrénées

Department: Ariége

 

We left Vigious at 8.00 and arrived in Ax les Thermes at 1.15 in the pouring rain. We pitched up at the ACSI site and took a walk into town.

It was at this point that I realized that the first site we were going to in Spain was not open! I also phoned Larissa for a weather update and found out that the ‘rain in Spain is definitely NOT on the plane’!!!! Time for bed me thinks.

 

26th March

 

ACSI – Camping Joan – Cambrils

Region: Cataluña

 

After raining all night we woke to snowfall. It was quite surreal. We started to make our way to Spain through some breathtaking scenery over the Pyrenees.  It was a winter wonderland, full of mountains, snow and fir trees.  We pulled over to take pictures of Boris in the snow and to let the dogs out.  Molly was really excited and rolled over and over in the snow. It was magical to watch.

We went through two tunnels, one had traffic lights and went steeply downhill and the other brought us into Spain.

The roads on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees were remarkable for a different reason. We undulated downhill for approx 100 miles, through steep valleys with towns either side of the road covered with orange/terracotta colored buildings.  There were mountain tops all around and in the distance the ragged tops of Montserrat (meaning serrated mounts). As we turned one of the many large sweeping curves we could just make out the beautiful Montserrat Monastery etched into the cliff face of the mountains.

We arrived at our chosen campsite after many a deliberation at 2.00pm only to find it closed! So we programmed another in our SatNav and after taking a wrong turning we ended up just outside Cambrils and the road that Marc’s uncle had his apartment and a signpost for Camping Joan, so in we went.

We found a pitch and went back to get Boris only to find that he was too big for the pitch and so moved to the one opposite.

We eventually got sorted and by 3.00pm we were sat outside in the sun having a much deserved sandwich and a G&T.

We then took the long walk to the beach – 20yds away.  It was beautiful, with a cycle path and promenade.  Every now and again were shower points on decking to wash off the salt and sand. Fred had great fun surfing the waves and I enjoyed a paddle as well.

Mileage since leaving home = 1196.

 

27th March

 

We awoke to glorious sunshine.  Marc chatted to the neighbours and found out about a Spanish AIRE near the flamingo colony and an ACSI with a free bus service to Barcelona.

We walked into Cambrils and found a bar/cafe and had a beer, wine and TAPAS.  We had beautifully fresh prawns, anchovies, globe artichokes and olives all washed down with olive oil and vinegar – lovely.

We walked into the town for bread and Marc bought some lovely salami and then we walked back to the site for lunch and a siesta!

After our revitalizing sleep we got the bikes out and went for a short ride in the other direction, with the dogs running along.

Time for a swim in the showers, the water just runs out the cubicle doors – it is bizarre.

 

 

28th March

 

AIRE – El Poble Nou Del Delta

Delta de l’Ebre

 

We decided to go to the AIRE mentioned by our British neighbours and put in the GPS co-ordinates. At one point we thought we had put in the wrong details as the SatNav had a hissy fit but it turned out to be a new stretch of road.  We then turned down a single track out into the middle of nowhere.  We had to pull in for some motorhomes coming the other way who turned out to be Brits.  They said the AIRE is great.

The area for the AIRE is massive with views out over the l’Ebre delta and marshland/reed beds.

We went for a walk after lunch and were rewarded with the magnificent views of Greater Flamingoes in their natural environment. We also saw Cormorants, a Marsh Harrier and Little Egrets, Herons and other things!

Total mileage 1196 since home.

 

29th March

 

ACSI Camping Barcelona – Matarό

Region: Cataluña

 

The weather is on the change and it has become very windy and being in such an exposed place it has become cold.  We decide to head for the campsite that has a free bus service into Barcelona and programmed the SatNav to take us toll free.  Big mistake! It took us along some lovely back roads and we even stopped and bought a 10kg bag of oranges for 5 Euros and a 5kg bag of lemons for 2euros – BARGAIN.  We were so busy taking in the scenery we didn’t realize how far north we were going until it was too late.  We reckon we went about 80-100 miles out of our way – not happy and then to top it all one of the dogs pooed in the cage!

We arrived at Camping Barcelona in Matarό and found a pitch at the top of the terrace on our own overlooking the sea.  We booked their free bus for Barcelona for tomorrow.

The dogs had a shower in the special dog bath/shower that the campsite provided.  It goes without saying that they were not amused.

 

Sunday 30th March

 

ACSI Aquarius – Sant Pere Pescador

Region: Cataluña

 

It started to rain in the night, the large, cold heavy stuff we get at home and it did not stop.  We decided therefore that we didn’t want to spend 8 hours in the rain with two dogs in Barcelona and after consulting the internet realized that it is like it over most of Spain and France! Great after 6 months of planning we haven’t seen or visited any of the places that I wanted and now it is raining. To say I am pissed off is an understatement.

So we decide to head North to Sant Pere Pescador.

The rain has stopped here but the campsite is one of those all singing all dancing ones that we don’t like.  We are confined to one area of the site because of the dogs but all that separates us and the beach is a hedge although legally dogs are not allowed. We have booked for 3 nights so we can go the market on Wednesday so we will see how we get on.

 

Monday 31st March

 

We decide to get the bikes and explore.  We thought about going along the beach path but before doing so we ask at reception about how far the path goes. The reception staff are brilliant and she gave me a map showing that there is a cycle route all the way to Empuries. So off we set.  It was great; there was a small section that ran alongside the main road.  Freddie wouldn’t stay on the cycle path so we put him on the two leads and he was pulling me along on the bike! It was a bit bumpy across a field and we had to push the bikes over a sandy bit and a steep metal bridge.  Once we got to Empuries the views were amazing.  The site at Empuries was massive, so much bigger than I expected. It consisted of Greek and Roman ruins and we could take the dogs in for 4.50 Euros.  We spent the day there and took the long cycle back 7 miles in total.  We thought the dogs would be shattered but they were still really lively.  It was a fantastic day and we learnt how to eat sardines.

 

Tuesday 1st April

 

We tried to set up the satellite dish, what a mistake on April fool’s day – it didn’t work.

Oh well we have lovely sunshine.

Went for a short cycle to the left of the campsite and Fred chased a rabbit.

It blew up windy and cold at about 4 so we had an early shower then went to the mobile fish van that visits the site 3 times a week. We bought Sardines, some filleted mackerel and two other types of fish.  The man gave us a bag of a flour mix that you coat the fish in before frying in a pan and some parsley to make a sauce.  I have decided to name it ‘Sant Pere Pescador Spanish Fisherman Sardina Sauce’ it is parsley, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil blended together.

We had dinner in the restaurant.  What a bargain and lovely food for only 11.95 Euros. We had the choice of Mussels in Tomato Sauce or tomato soup, cuttlefish or chicken Catalan style and pannacotta or ice cream.  We had the fish and pannacotta. It was delicious. We went back to the van rather stuffed.

 

Wednesday 2nd April

 

We cycled into Sant Pere Pescador on our own to the market.  It was mainly a clothes market but there were two fruit and veg stores, so we bought apples, tomatoes, some shelled peas, a red pepper and then went to the cured meats stand.  We tasted some of the meats and bought two sausages of a salami type cured meat.

We then took a stroll into town and bought cakes and bread.

With very sore bottoms we cycled back – we need new bike seats.

We had sardines for lunch with the lovely tomatoes and some of our Spanish Fisherman sauce – delicious.

It has started to come in cold and there are spits of rain.  Marc took the dogs on the beach and Fred is so dirty we have had to bath him! So the van stinks of wet dog and fish.

 

Thursday 3rd April

AIRE – Rodez

Region: Midi-Pyrenees

Department: Aveyron

 

It is time to leave the not so sunny Spain and head home leisurely.   We left at 8.30 after a night of sandy rain and Boris is filthy.  In the motorhome service point Marc hosed him down but because it is still drizzly he still looks a mess. We travelled to Millau and went over the Millau viaduct, this is somewhere I have wanted to go ever since I saw it on Top Gear many years ago and is one thing off my ‘bucket list’.  It is spectacular and an amazing feat of engineering.  It is so high the village of Millau looks tiny.  We pull into the motorway Aire for Millau and walk up the steep hill to the view point.  When you see the cars and lorries go over you get real sense of scale! The wind was cutting up there so then we took the downward path to see the pillars and look up to the bridge. A much deserved salami ploughman’s was on the cards then before setting off to Rodez.  We arrived at the Aire on the outskirts of town next to a park where there is parking for 6 vans, we were the forth in and after a little siesta we awoke to find the Aire full.

We took a little walk around the wooded parkland next to us which was beautiful.  It was next to the river and had a nice pathway.  We kept the dogs on the lead because the ground either side of us was really boggy.

 

Friday 4th April

AIRE – Oradour Sur Glane

Region: Limousin & Auvergne

Department: Haute Vienne

 

We left Rodez and took the slow mountainous road towards the motorway to head towards Limoges and then Oradour sur Glane.  We arrived at the Aire at 1.30pm and were pleased to see that the Aire was quite empty.

We had some lunch and then walked to the Memorial Village. In 1944 some SS Soldiers marched into the village of Oradour sur Glane and rounded up the people.  Men were taken to various places within the village, locked houses, straw put in and set alight.  Once the screams stopped they opened the doors and any still alive were shot. The women and children were taken to the church and same carried out.  The heat inside was so intense the bell fell from the tower and can still be seen today. Only a few escaped the tragedy, one small boy who seen them marching into the village and hid and a women who climbed out of a church window, breaking her leg and then crawled into a vegetable patch to hide.  In all 642 inhabitants of the village perished, 240 female, 205 children the rest the men.  The village is a monument of how awful war can be, how humans can be so horrid to each other it was amazing, it was eerie, sad, and just mind blowing.  It gave me a true understanding of what it must have been like to have your country invaded and to live in true fear.

We stopped at the bakery on the way back and had a much needed tea and cake as we had got really wet in the memorial village – but if it had been sunny it wouldn’t have seemed right somehow.

 

 

 

 

Saturday 5th April

AIRE – Amboise

Region: Centre

Department: Indre-et-Loire

 

We awoke to a very heavy fog.  We headed towards Tours, as we travelled the fog lifted and the sun shone.  We arrived at Chateaux Chenonceau at 12.30 it was wonderful and you were transported back to another era. The lower gallery was once a ball room and the formal gardens were beautiful, you could just imagine ladies walking in the gardens being courted or ‘taking the air’.  The kitchens were a mass of copper jelly moulds and pans. There was a separate butcher’s room with racks of knives, hooks and a big wooden block.  The river Cher wasn’t as deep as expected and the water in the moat looked really scanky.  We then drove to an AIRE in Amboise (Amboise 2) a gated Aire for 12euros a night with unlimited electric, fresh water and the usual waste and toilet dump. We sat in the sun until dinner time and after dinner went for a short walk along the river Loire until Freddie disgraced himself and rolled in something horrible.  As we walked back we seen two hot air balloons take off from the park next to the AIRE, it was wonderful.

 

Sunday 6th April

ACSI – Domaine de Marcilly – Marcilly-sur-Eure

Region: Haute-Normandie

Department: Eure

 

We set off for Chartres and had a very bumpy ride on the N154 -it is the worse road we have come across in France.  We arrived at the ACSI site at just after 12 and hurried to check in before their lunch break.  I thought I would try out my French when making the reservation but the woman was horrid.  She wanted the payment up front and when she asked for it in French Marc asked her to speak in English which usually isn’t a problem and she tutted and put the amount in her calculator with a lot of banging about. We paid the bill and then asked about a vet.  She chatted away in French and I did my best to say vets in French which is very similar to the English word and she got more irate.  She tried looking for someone called Alan and kept tutting, muttering under her breath and slamming doors.  We said we would leave it and I asked for a map of Chartres which she gave me begrudgingly.  There was no map of the site or directions for pitches etc so we made our way into the site and it was dismal.  There were no signs, the pitches look unkempt and there was litter everywhere.  Marc was still fuming about the woman’s attitude so we decided to leave. We drove back to reception and told her we were leaving and we wanted our money back.  She ran and got Alan and I tried to explain that her attitude was wrong.  We got our money back but I am not sure that he understood what I said.  We then drove on to Marcilly-sur-Eure.  I had to press the button to get in the gate but the female voice was really nice and we waited for reception to open and I started a sandwich.  When reception opened we booked in and asked about a vet.  Even though the man’s English was very limited, with what he knew and what we knew and with a bit of pointing etc he gave us a map for a vets. We found our pitch which is really big and it has all the services on the pitch.  The site is in a wood and it is really quiet. After dinner Marc took the rubbish out and came back with two Alsatian dogs! They had followed him from the bins.  Our dogs went mad and it took a lot of strength to hold onto them.  I walked them back to reception and rang the bell; the female voice answered and said she would send someone down.  The next day I asked about this and it would appear that they knew who the dogs belonged too and that they were back in their rightful place.

 

Monday 7th April

 

I telephoned the vets and I need to put 0033 in front of any French number I dial on Marc’s mobile.  Unfortunately the lady didn’t speak any English but she got a man who did and I made an appointment for 5pm.

We took the dogs for a walk in the woodland opposite the site even though it said private and the dogs went rolling and they absolutely stank so a bath was needed.  Remembering that we bathed them at the campsite near Barcelona and they then rolled in the dirt – straight in the cage they went.  We drove to the vet who was outside of Anet and it was a small building and the whole place smelt horrid.  Anyway they made us welcome and the treatment and passports all went smoothly and we headed back.

 

Tuesday 8th April

Unofficial Aire/Camperstop – Ambleteuse

Region: Nord-Pas-De-Calais

Department: Pas-De-Calais

 

We head off towards Calais and after a lot deliberation head for a free AIRE in Breck, right on the beach.   Once we got there we changed our minds as gypsies had taken over and fenced off a large part of the AIRE including the facilities.   Marc spoke to a British couple who were also there and they said that they weren’t staying and they were going to an unofficial Aire at Ambleteuse.  The lady gave us directions but then said we could follow them if we didn’t mind leaving soon.  So we did.  The Aire is in a very small field adjacent to a farm and overlooks the bay. It is in the Camperstop book.  It is extremely windy and very cold as the air whips across the Atlantic Ocean. There are no facilities but at least we feel safe here and it is only 40 minutes from Calais.

Time to go home tomorrow and the worse bit – the ferry and the journey back to Somerset.  Can’t wait till June and Germany.

Total mileage approx 3000 miles.

This blog is an excerpt from my diary.  A full article on this particular trip was published in MMM June 2015!

 

Aberbran Caravan Club Site – Brecon

 

Sunday 4th May

 

Drove to Cardiff to see Larissa do her dance performance in Morgan Arcade in the center of Cardiff then onto Aberbran for a much needed rest.  Just needed to get away for a few days.  We stayed on exactly the same pitch as last time and the wardens were a great laugh.

 

Rhine in Flames – Germany June 2014

 

We need to have some sort of plan when going away in our motorhome Boris as I want to go ‘everywhere’. I would add bits saying “we could just go there” and before we knew it we would be in Outer Mongolia with just 2 days to get back to Calais! I like to collect articles from magazines and place them in a folder for future use.

The Black Forest was an area on my travel list, and I had several articles taken from magazines on Germany and so a plan started to take shape.   It was at this point that my 90 year old neighbour Frank told us about The Rhine in Flames Festival and the plan was complete.

I read that every evening The Last Post Ceremony was conducted at the Menin Gate in Ypres and ‘as we were passing’ it could be added to our trip.  We arrived in Ypres and our stop for the night Camping Jeugdstadion.  This is a small site right on the edge of town with just a 10 minute walk to the Menin Gate.  It has pitches for longer stays but we opted for the cheaper camping car area at 12 Euros a night with electricity and use of all of the facilities.  Ypres is a beautiful town which still retains its ramparts and moat,  so armed with a leaflet from the campsite (in English) we went and explored, discovering a cafe/bar set into the ramparts that served a very nice cold beer. We then strolled to the Menin Gate which was much larger than I imagined. This commemorates  over 54,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Forces who died in the Ypres Salient before August 1917 and who have no known grave and their names are inscribed on the marble inside.  The Last Post is performed here every evening as an expression of the gratitude of the Belgian nation towards those who died for its freedom and independence all year round come wind or rain.

It was a beautifully fitting tribute with the buglers, a minutes silence and the laying of wreaths and it brought tears to my eyes.

After this we walked to the Ramparts War Cemetery to pay our respects.  It was beautifully kept, with a picturesque view over the moat/river and a perfect finish to the day.

 

To make the trip across Belgium more interesting I took an idea from another article and we stopped at the Strepy-Thieu boat lift and the Ronquieres Incline Plane, on our journey towards Germany. The boat lift is an amazing structure that lifts large boats from one level of the canal an amazing 240 feet up to the higher level therefore avoiding the timescale of the previous 5 boat lifts.  We were really fortunate to see it working and a small pleasure boat came down in the caissons’ along with a very large barge. (I have a great fascination with canals, their architecture and engineering, a bit of an anorak really, so I was in my element here).

We then drove to the inclined plane at Ronquieres and I was disappointed not to see any boats using it whilst we ate our lunch but really pleased to see a fully working version rather than the remnants back home on the grand western canal.

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Onwards to Germany and our stop for a few days at Knaus Camping Parks at Koblenz. Once we got over the shock of the price we were rewarded with an amazing view of the Rhine, the Moselle and the confluence where they meet, the spit of land between them called Deutsches Eck (the German Quarter) and the statue of Kaiser Wilheim the 1st.

That first evening we just sat in the sun watching the massive barges go up and down the rivers and the 30 carriage long goods trains on the other side of the river I was delighted, just like a small child.

 

Just outside the campsite is a small passenger ferry that took us and our 2 dogs across the Moselle narrowly avoiding the coal barges and cruise ships direct to Deutsches Eck for 4 Euros.  We climbed the statue of Kaiser Wilheim the 1st on the spit of land that separates the Rhine and Moselle and were rewarded with some awesome views.  We then walked into the town and explored the labyrinthine of alleys.  It was full of beautiful bespoke shops and many cafes/bars. We stopped for an amazing ice cream which was like a strawberry sundae in a cone – delicious and discovered by pure chance the Romanesque church of Our Dear Lady Liebfrauenkirche.  It was stunning, the ceilings simple yet elegant and the blue stained glass basilica so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes.

 

There is a cable car from the Deutsches Eck up to the Ehrenbreitstein fortress and the views from the cable car up and down the Rhine were amazing.  At the top there are some beautiful herbaceous borders and a paved walkway to a viewing platform which has further stunning views of the valley below, Koblenz and the rivers Rhine and Moselle.  The platform is also covered in ‘love locks’ (a myriad of padlocks declaring the love between two people) hanging from the mesh of the platform.  We did not go into the fortress itself but the views from the terrace are said to be wonderful.

 

Whilst in the area we visited the monastery at Maria Laach some 20 miles away. This is in a beautiful location right next to the volcanic lake of Laacha See. The monastery building is a stunning example of German Romanesque architecture and you are able to go into the abbey itself and hear the monk’s pray, sing and chant. I found this very moving and the beauty of the abbey was enhanced by hearing the monks and the windows enhanced by the spartan decoration of the walls of the abbey.

Whilst there it was lunch time and not being able to speak any German we felt at a disadvantage, we stumbled across a little caravan with lots of old ladies queuing up for food.  We just pointed at what they had and said “the same”.  It was delicious a big German sausage with lovely potato salad and ½ a pint of lager.

After a wonderful time in Koblenz we started our quick tour of the Black Forest with the medieval town of Gengenbach. The town is full of many lovely historic buildings, street cafes and winding cobbled streets. We stopped in car park No6 as advised by the Tourist Information Officer that I e-mailed before our trip as the car park was free and would easily accommodate our motorhome and we were also welcome to stay the night there should we have wished.  However we decided to stop at a Stellplatze in the town of Hausach.

A trip to the Black Forest is not complete without visiting the famous cuckoo clocks and there are two that claim to be “the world’s biggest”. The first is in Triberg and can be found very easily as it is in a lay-by just off the main road. The clock itself is on the front of a big shop that is full of cuckoo clocks and some very expensive but impressive Grandfather clocks. We had arrived just before noon so decided to wait for the cuckoo at 12.  The cuckoo itself was massive but I was expecting the sound to be louder and deeper than it was.

 

The second clock is at Schonach and was formerly the house of Josef Dold who converted it into a big cuckoo clock.  It is was beautiful and looks just like the clock you see in the shop only on a much larger scale.  We were able to go inside and see the massive workings all made of wood and the lady inside was the daughter in law of Josef Dold.  We waited till 12.30 to hear the cuckoo which again was not as loud as you would expect but having seen the workings and the bellows for the sound I could understand why.

Schonach Clock

We were then hoping to visit the waterfalls at Triberg but parking was a real nightmare and so we abandoned that plan and headed towards our stop for the night at Triberg um Schzwarld.  However this didn’t work out either as the site was undergoing a revamp and it was full of bulldozers.

As it had started to rain heavily we decided to travel onwards to the next stop at Neuhausen in Switzerland next to the Rhinefalls.  The Rhinefalls are easily located and are not far from the German border.  There are numerous car parks near the falls but the farthest one is for motorhomes and you have the option to stop there the night which we did. There is a lovely walk from the car park down a steep hillside via a zig zag path to the waterfront where you can walk along to the Rhinefalls or take a boat. The Rhinefalls were amazing and I could hear the water crashing down the cascade from our stop for the night (the car park) which was approximately half a mile away down the gorge.

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If you do go into Switzerland you will need a Vignette which is similar to our tax disc system. This can be bought at the border but I understand that it can be a considerable wait at peak times; we opted to buy one online before we left and the service was excellent. (http://www.tolltickets.com/country/swiss/vignette.aspx?lang=en-GB)

Another great passion of mine is books; and lately I have been collecting travel books, they are everywhere with little ‘post it’ notes inside to highlight places I wish to visit, along with maps on the wall of the spare room with a similar post it thing going on.

One of the books that I used extensively for this trip was “The AA Best Drives – Germany” as it gave me lots of ideas.  Having realized how close Lake Constance was to The Rhinefalls and we would almost pass it on the way to Bad Waldsee for the Hymer Museum I added it to the plan (now you can see how we could end up on Outer Mongolia).

Lake Constance is on the Germany – Switzerland border and just an hour away from The Rhinefalls.  I wanted to visit many things in and around the lake but with time constraints I singled out just one place that I really wanted to visit – the island of Insel Mainau (the garden island). The island is beautiful with many small gardens within it, perennial and shrub borders, a rose garden and an amazing cascading water garden.  There are many pontoons for pleasure boats to dock and bring visitors from across the lake as part of an organized trip.  There are also many places to eat, small cafes, tea shops and restaurant, and play areas for children, a zoo area and a butterfly house. Even though it was wet when we visited it was still stunningly beautiful and even Marc enjoyed it, especially The Butterfly house which he spent 45 minutes in. I was just about to send in a search party when he eventually wondered back out.  Whilst dogs are allowed on the island the butterfly house was somewhere they were not allowed.

Lake Constance is an area which I would like to go back to one day and explore some more and even though we had 2 days factored into our plan for contingencies ( in other words in case we really liked a place and wanted to stay longer) but it was raining so we carried onwards.

 

As you can tell I usually organize the trips and Marc just goes along with what I say, however when I said Germany he said that he really wanted to see The Hymer Museum in Bad Waldsee, which by my reckoning wasn’t very far from The Black Forest!

Bad Waldsee was approximately a 2 ½ drive away from Constance and we stayed at a very nice stellplatze for the night with extensive walks and cycle routes abound. In the morning a baker calls at the site with some very nice bread and cakes.

I must admit I thought that The Hymer Museum wouldn’t be my thing and put it in our plan for my husband but it was really interesting with many exhibits of early caravans, classic cars and of course motorhomes.

We spent hours here and we were able to climb into some of the exhibits; we were given an I-Phone with an English translation of the exhibits which was really easy to use.

With our two ‘spare days’ we decided to head northwards and stay somewhere approximately half way between Bad Waldsee and our next stop at Geisenheim our stop for the Rhine in Flames festival.

We stopped at an ACSI site in the town of Wildberg in the Northern Black Forest for a couple of days of R&R.  It was glorious, the sun was shining, and it was really hot.  The campsite was sandwiched in the valley between the river Nagold and a cycle path.

We spent the days resting, sunbathing, swimming, exploring the forest and cycling along the many cycle paths which thankfully are off road so the dogs could run alongside us. Of course we had to find the bakers and try the many cakes on offer and the wine.  There is a really nice wine warehouse in the town and a large bottle of Riesling was only €3.95.

Finally we headed towards Geisenheim and the climax of our tour The Rhine in Flames Festival. The site is an ACSI site named Geisenheim am Rhein and wonderful.

Geisenheim is a beautiful stop right on the Rhine just 4km from Rudesheim.  There is an Italian restaurant that shares the reception building with the campsite and has fantastic views over the Rhine, we had a delicious steak, probably the best I have ever tasted.

We cycled into Rudesheim to ‘get a feel for the place’ and found a lovely cafe for iced coffee and waffles with strawberries and cream.

This is the best campsite I have stayed at so far. The owners are friendly, the views amazing and the independent restaurant that shares the reception building is outstanding.

http://www.rheingaucamping.de/index.php/en/

 

We were advised by the reception staff that one of the best places to view the Rhine in Flames was from the Germania Monument up on the hillside via the cable car in Rudesheim.  We fortunately got talking to another British couple who had found an area on the hillside that they thought would be a good place to stop and so we all went together on our bikes into Rudesheim, then walked up the path on the hillside to our viewing point for the evening at approximately ten o’clock at night.  Even though it seemed that we hadn’t gone very far up the hill we had an amazing view of the Rhine and there are only about a dozen people along this stretch. At about 11 o’clock we could see the reflection of fireworks on the gorge around the bend from us. Slowly the start of the flotilla of boats came around the corner though it wasn’t until about 11.30 that we noticed a building across the Rhine lit up in a red glow and then the fireworks erupted from the building sending beautiful big colors into the night sky.  They were amazing and there was a firework that looked like a cascade of brilliant white water tumbling down the front of the building.  All too soon it was over but the boats kept coming, they were all lit up with strings of fairy lights and all different shapes and sizes and they moored up either side of the Rhine and we wondered if ‘that is it’? As the locals next to us weren’t moving we stayed put and with that another explosion of fireworks started in the vines behind us.  They were massive and there was at one point a big ball of gold that appeared to be trickling ticker tape down from a great height – it was amazing. Literally as the last firework finished there was an explosion from the Rhine and we all looked back and saw a ship in the middle of the Rhine erupting with more fireworks.  It was spectacular and so worth watching.  As the fireworks stopped all the ships sounded their horns all at once and even two steam trains in the station below.  As we made our way back through the town the atmosphere was electric and many cafes/bar were open.

 

The next day we took the cable car up to the Germania Monument over the many vines.  It was really romantic as the cable cars are designed for two and they offer a small glass of ‘bubbly’ and two small champagne glasses for 6 euro’s which we really enjoyed and the glasses are a memory of our trip. The views as per the norm for this area are spectacular and the monument so detailed and inspiring.

 

Back in the town we had a look in the Christmas tree shop and there are some beautiful decorations but at €14.95 a bauble we didn’t buy anything.  We then walked down the Drosselgasse a street with many taverns and bars and beautiful buildings which is well worth a visit.

That evening (our last) nature provided us with its own Rhine in Flames as a massive thunder storm rolled down the Rhine gorge valley.

Heading home we drove through Holland into Belgium and stopped at a lovely AIRE in a forest on the outskirts of Genk.  It was a lovely area with many walks for the dogs, a nearby stable and leisure centre.

My conclusion: Germany is an amazing country with a real mix of styles and scenery and whilst The Black Forest for me was very similar to forests back home the Rhine valley was beautiful and a real time waster just watching the barges and goods trains.  We now want to go back and explore the Moselle and see the Rhine in Flames festival again which takes place in different towns throughout May – October. (www.rhein-in-flammen.com) Marc has discovered that there is a Bike Festival in Rudesheim every year in June and so wants to go back then (I wonder how much I can fit in next time)!

South of France – Provence & the Camargue

 

Mareuil Sur Ay

Region: Champagne

Department: Marne

I am always amazed by the vastness of France, big rolling fields of crops, long straight roads leading into the distance, blue skies and sunshine.  Every time I come here it is like a new adventure, after setting off from Somerset this morning at dawn with the sun just peaking over the horizon we are now in the beautiful village of Mareil Sur Ay in the Champagne region.  The Aire is closed as the fun fair is in town but it seems that we are still welcome and the motorhomers have lined the streets instead.  Fortunately for us there is a spot with our name on it and we pull in between two other British vans in what would normally be car parking taking up two spaces but the atmosphere is buzzing and no one seems to mind.  Tables and chairs have been set up alongside the canal and it would appear that the wine is flowing. It is a lovely 24°C, there are flowers everywhere, the canal is still and quiet but the music is blaring from the fairground that has taken over the Aire. After a much needed meal we head off with the dogs along the canal bank.  In one direction is the openness of fields, and some beautiful houses, in the other the fairground and what appears to be the over 60’s club dancing to the music, later on it becomes karaoke night and the over 60’s are well away – wouldn’t see that in conservative Britain.

 

 

Givry

Region:Burgundy

Department:Côte-d-Or

Morning arrives all too soon for the weary traveler and after a stop in the bakery (for research purposes of course!) we set off towards the Burgundy region.

The journey down is unremarkable except we did see a Red Squirrel – how amazing is that, it is the first Marc has ever seen.  We arrive at the AIRE at Givry at lunch time only to find that the fair is in town here as well and has taken up half of the AIRE, at least we could get in – just about; next to a British couple who Marc spent all afternoon chatting to whilst I sat in the van knitting in the 33C° degree heat.  At one time our neighbours said their van was 37C°.  We walked into town to find the bakery and butchers but both were closed and decided we would head there in the morning.  It was so hot we decided not to get the bikes out and cycle along the Voie Verte cycle route as it might kill the dogs running alongside us in this heat.  We did however go for a long walk in the cooler part of the evening and it was a lovely route that we will have to explore another day.

Camping d’Herbelon – Treffort

Region:Rhône-Alpes

Department:Isère

Sleeping was a real problem and I tossed and turned all night in the sweltering heat.

Next morning we awoke to the fairground people packing up and naturally making a noise and so we headed off into town. The butchers were wonderful and we bought some amazing steaks along with an amazing price and some salami, then it was the bakers.  Next to this was a patisserie and I had a field day buying three different cakes – they were divine.  After emptying out the grey waste and loo we set off for an ACSI site on Lac Monteyard.  The first site we came to had a barrier and they were on their 2 hr lunch break so we turned round and went to the next one which turned out to be much better at Herbelon called Camping d’Herbelon.  We were made really welcome and could choose our pitch which was great as many overlook the lake and we could park almost on the edge.  We chose the biggest pitch of course and set up.  That afternoon we had a short walk and found a parking area next to the lake which it would appear you can get a boat to take you to the longer Himalayan suspension bridge and then walk back via the short one.  We just threw sticks in the lake for Fred to fetch and discovered a map which showed that the shorter bridge was only 3km away and we could cycle, and it was no-entry for cars.

After dinner we got the bikes out and set off for a recce of the bridges and how to get there.  The start of the track was very steep and on the road so we got off and pushed the bikes up the hill.  At the top was a farmyard and the track became just that a track which was very uneven and stony.  We thought we would go a little way and see how it went on the bikes – our little fold up small wheeled things really aren’t suited for this sort of thing but we gave it a go anyway.  In places we needed to push the bikes up some steeper bits but on the whole it was relatively flat.  At last the bridge came into view but we needed to push the bikes down a steep part and so we decided as it was quite late at night and no one was about we would leave them at the top and walk down.  The bridge was awesome and the views around the gorge spectacular.  We started to walk across and the bridge which was quite bouncy although it is made of metal.  Molly carried on across and didn’t seem fazed by it at all but Fred wouldn’t come over and just sat at the edge of the bridge whining, he was really scared and just wouldn’t move so I had to pick him up and carry him all the way across which isn’t easy cos he is really heavy.  Across the other side it is another 4.8km to the next bridge which is bigger and we had intended to go to that one the next day but there is a really steep twisty climb up and then only a very small track which really would be impossible with the bikes so we have to have a rethink and a chat to the site owner about the best way to get to the other bridge or walk! At least we seen this bridge and it really is awesome and so worth the hard work to get there.  We cycled back to the site and really enjoyed free-wheeling down the hillside to the campsite with the dogs running for their life beside us and the wind running through our very sweaty clothes cooling us down. As we walked through the site we seen bats and heard owls and we seen another red squirrel on the way here as well – they are obviously thriving in France.

 

 

The following day after talking to the owner we realized the only way to get to the 2nd bridge was to either catch the boat and then walk 8km or go back to the bridge we went to last night and carry the bikes up the hill.  He did say that the bridge we went to last night was the prettier one and so we decided not the bother and had a lazy day after cleaning the van of sun bathing.  It was getting quite hot so we then had a swim in the lake it was remarkable as it wasn’t as cold as I imagined.

 

Le Clos du Rhone – Stes Maries-de-la-Mer

Region:Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur

Department:Bouches-du-Rhone

Today is Thursday and we are heading off to The Camargue region of France and I cannot wait, I have been looking forward to this part for what seems like forever.  I have always loved horses since I was a child and remember the picture of some well known artist of the white horses of the Camargue running through the water and thinking “I want to go there” and “I want a white horse”.  I imagined the Camargue to be vast with land stretching as far as the eye can see with arid patches amongst the wet boggy moorland and a big blue sky with white horses everywhere. As Carol Kubicki said in her article called Unexpected pleasures in MMM dated July 2013:

 

E=SD2

 

Expectations = Shattered Dreams2

 

This was certainly the case in the town of Stes Maries-de-la-Mer.  We had chosen a campsite on the shoreline of the Camargue as it said it had views over the marshland of the Camargue and it was also next to a beach which Fred would love.  We arrived after passing many horse stables offering rides to a very busy, very compact campsite.  I don’t know why we didn’t just turn round and head back as soon as we entered the barrier as we both knew almost immediately that it wasn’t our kind of site but I think we were just so tired because of the heat and the travelling and just wanted to pitch up and get settled.  We put the van in one way but the sun was soooo hot we couldn’t stand it and because we were on the shore (with no view) it was windy and the awning was blowing precariously, so we turned the van the other way so we had some shade and boy did we need it.  After a quick sandwich we decided to cool down in the pool which was ok but needed many more sun loungers for the numbers of people.  We then went into the town some 800metres away and it was hell, just full of tourist type shops and bars and loads of people.  We did find a small Spar type shop that had fruit and veg and a fromagerie. On the way back to the site we discovered a small stable next to the site which did horse rides; but there weren’t very exciting as they just took you along a former cycle way that had been converted into a horse way! We got back to the site and decided that we would only stay one night and I started to look in the ACSI book to find somewhere else to stay.

 

Next day we headed off for ACSI Le Domaine du Crin Blanc in Albaron.  This is a beautiful site with very large pitches.  The pitches on one side are shaded, the other side not so but you can see the wild bulls and horses in the next field and the ones in the middle have a pergola on the pitch that you can use.  We chose a pergola and the mercury is again rising and we are in for a very hot day even though there is a gentle breeze.  A quick walk into the village found nothing and so we went swimming and just lazed about.  Marc tried to book me a horse ride but the site no longer operates them and you need to go back to the stables along the road to Stes Marie, however the site owner said that the best time to go is when it is windy as it keeps the mosquitoes at bay.  He said then often you need an injection for the horse rides because of them. As I have already been bitten at the previous site and they are turning very nasty I don’t think I will be riding any Camargue horse which is yet another disappointment of this rather lackluster holiday.  At least this site is more like how I imagined the Camargue to be, big open spaces, horses and bulls in the wild and lovely hot sunshine and no “quick buck to be made”. In the evening just as the sun was setting a great big coach pulled onto the campsite to the lodges just to the side of us and unloaded a coach full of OAP’s! Along with them came the mosquitoes and Marc has some 16 bites!!

 

Bedoin 1

Region:Provence-Alples-Cote d’Azur

Department:Vaucluse

We decided that the Camargue is not for us due to the biting insects and so we set off for an AIRE at Bedoin described in an article as the ‘best ever’.  It is some 85 miles away and this meant more disappointment as I had to cancel our visit to the Gorge de Verdon and the Bories.

Never mind we have arrived and it is packed with motorhomes, we parked in the middle section and by the time I had made a cup of tea someone moved and we are now in a lovely little bay of our own with small trees either side of us with lots room either side of us.  We walk into the town and have a delicious ice cream and nose about.  It is nice with lots of bars/cafes but not too touristy.  There is a market here on Monday morning and we may stay until then. However as the whole trip has been a complete nightmare from the start and our next stop the much awaiting campsite at Rousset which I have now discovered only takes one dog we might just go home!!!!!!!!!

We stayed at Bedoin AIRE all day Sunday just lazing about in the glorious sunshine, the Gendarme called at 9.00 for the money a very expensive €3.00.  It was such a hot day and got up to 33° easily.  We went for a walk in the cooler evening air and went and tasted the grapes on the vines; I expected them to be bitter but they were beautiful even though they had pips in, we found some figs and almonds to eat as well. That evening the motorhomes started to come in and come in they did, parking was a real nightmare and Marc and I just laughed at the places people had parked – there must have been between 55 and 60 motorhomes in the AIRE.  The next morning was a mass exodus as the Gendarme came to collect the money it was so amusing to see, all these people suddenly packing up and driving out as he was going round for the money.

It was a grey morning and we decided to go into town for the market.  It was wonderful so many stalls and very busy.  There was many stalls with cured meats, salami’s, fruit and veg, lavender, nougat, table cloths, pottery and food stalls with paella, pasta, cooked chickens and one we bought some fish ball things from which we ate on the way to our next sight. We decided to buy some nougat not realizing how expensive it was and the guy cut four big pieces which came to a whopping €61!  Marc naturally wasn’t having any of that and after upsetting the bloke we came away with one piece which was still €25.  When we got to the bakery the heavens started to open and there was lightning in the distance, once we finished in there and went to the cured meats the thunder had well and truly arrived in Bedoin.  We called into the pharmacy to get some stuff for my much swollen foot, I cannot get any shoes on it is so bad.  We got soaked walking back to the AIRE but fortunately it would appear that the dogs slept right through the whole storm!

Domaine de Chadeyron

Region:Rhone-Alpes

Department- Ardeche

 

The previous evening we had spent all night going through the ACSI book to try and decide where to go next and after whittling the 21 sites down to two we decided that if we didn’t like one we could just drive down the road to the other and we set off. The weather started to clear and once we arrived at the first site it was glorious weather; pity the same couldn’t be said about the site and we just turned around and drove straight out heading for the second choice.  We are now at ACSI Domaine du Cradeyron,  and it is wonderful.  It is such a small site on a very large area, there are just 16 touring spots and we have managed to pick the biggest pitch with lots of room.  We ate some lunch and then went for a swim as we had got so hot on our travels.  The pool is breathtaking, freeform and it looks as if you are going to drop off the side of the hill we are on, with amazing views. We got out the awning as it is so hot and later in the day when it starts to rain we just sit watching the lightning in the distance rumbling around on the hills and mountains around us.

I check on the internet the weather forecast and we decide that if it is raining in the morning we will move on otherwise we will stay here as it is so nice.

The next day it is glorious sunshine, Marc picks up the croissants we ordered that the owner makes on site and we sit in the sunshine eating our breakfast. We decided to take the dogs for a long walk which is great as there are many tracks leading from the site across the hills and valleys around.  The walk is wonderful and we fill up on, figs, apples and grapes on our journey just helping ourselves to the miracles of nature.  When we get back we are really hot and take a dip in the pool, the owner needed to take the cover off for us and it turns out he owns all the hills around us a total of 45 hectares – how amazing.  We spend the rest of the day, reading, me doing crochet, sunbathing and swimming – a wonderful day in a beautiful area.

We spend another wonderful day here and do a full load of washing which dries really easily and then just sunbathe, and swim.

Vivacamp La Grappe Fleurie

Region:Rhone-Alpes

Department:Rhone

I programmed in what looked like a lovely campsite but the sat nav decided to lose the signal whilst trying to travel around the maze of motorways around Lyon.  By this time we are really fed up and so head towards a new ACSI site at Fleurie.

Again this site was not really us; even though the pitches are big it feels really cramped and is really busy.  There are trees all around us and just a small road between the rows of pitches.  There is absolutely nothing to do in the area and even walking is hampered as there is really no where to walk.  We just used it as a base to stop, shower and sleep.

La Chevrette – Digoin

Region:Burgundy

Department:Saone-et-Loire

 

After perusing the ACSI book we head to Digoin and a campsite that is set along the river Loire and is also near to a canal so cycling opportunities.  It isn’t too far away and is a real gem of site that is small and friendly; upon exploration we found an AIRE just next door and is worth noting for another time.

We set up and then head out on the bikes with the dogs.  We leave the campsite and cycle along the river towards town.  The next bridge is in fact an aqueduct that the canal goes over and so we then cycle along the canal for approximately 5 miles.  It is really hot and the dogs are struggling in the heat and have already drunk all the water I have taken with us for them to drink; so my practical solution is to give them a quick dip in the canal to cool them down and they both really seemed to enjoy it and it gave them a new lease of life – well enough to get us back to the site.  After all this exertion Marc and I go for a swim in the really small pool which we have to ourselves.  After tea we went for a walk along the river in the other direction and we notice the really angry clouds and it starts to rain.  Back at the van it then thunders for the rest of the evening stopping quite late at night and starting again in the morning.

We have a break in the storm at about 2 o’clock and so we decided to take the dogs for a little walk.  We are amazed at how much more water there is in the river and the small island that was there the day before with a heron on has been completely submerged.

As we walk back to the site the heavens open again and we have thunder and lightning all night long.  This is the longest storm I have ever experienced.

 

Les Ceriselles – Vincelles

Region:Burgundy

Department:Yonne

Next day and we head towards a campsite near Chablis.  Once again this is next to a canal the Canal de Nivernais.  The pitches are large with lots of room between the rows and busy but it doesn’t seem like we are hemmed in or anything like that.  We get out the bikes and start to go along the canal but my pedals are wobbling and after a very short distance one of the pedals spokes breaks off!  We walk back to site and I get out the tool box and fix it!  Next a quick swim and after lunch we head out on the bikes again.  It isn’t until we get to the canal which we walked too because we couldn’t let the dogs off on the campsite that I realize I haven’t got the pedal back on right and they are not opposite each other!  So I borrow Marc’s bike and go back and get the tool kit, fix the bike on the canal side and head off for a long cycle of approximately 5 miles.

IMG_2796

The next day we headed off to Chablis for the street market and so I could see the famous blood sausage being made.  We parked in the Aire and walked into town.  The first stall was making the sausage and in a big mixing pan was; fat, onions, herbs, spices, bread crumbs, and eggs. The woman then added by the scoop full, blood and mixed it up.  She then put the sausage skins on a funnel and scooped the mixture into the funnel making a big length of sausage.  This was then placed in boiling water and cooked before being sold to the waiting public – it was delicious and we bought two lots.

When we got back on site we took the dogs for a walk along the canal in the other direction.  It started to drizzle but we thought it wouldn’t get too heavy – how wrong could we be and so a mile out the heavens truly opened and we sheltered under a tree.  Whilst waiting for the rain to ease we saw a beautiful kingfisher.  I was elated as it is the first time I have ever seen one in my life and it was something I have always wanted to see soooooooo much.

Next day was the all important trip to the vets and we were pleasantly surprised by the cost of €60.00 which whilst not the cheapest it was not the most expensive either and the vet was pleasant.

 

Arras – Aire

Region: Nord-Pas-de-Calais

Department: Pas-de-Calais

Onwards towards Arras and our AIRE for the night.  We arrived just at the right time as there was only one space left and was filled mainly with British tourers.   After a bite to eat we headed off to stretch our legs and get our bearings so that we could locate the Cemetery d’Amiens at Faubourg in Arras.  After enquiring in the florists we set off in the right direction and after confirming that we were on the right track with the Gendarmes we arrived at about 7.00pm.  It was stunning, a lovely memorial and beautifully kept graveyard.  I soon located my Great Uncle: Reginald Alfred Ham and I was suddenly overcome by the whole situation and couldn’t stop crying. I placed the crochet poppies I made on the grave and Marc took a series of photos.  I made five poppies to represent, my grandmother Isobel Capel (his sister), my father, myself, Larissa and Keiran.  We looked at the memorial wall but I could not find his name listed or in the memorial register so have e-mailed the Commonwealth Graves Commission once I got home to ask about this.  Hopefully his name will be etched into the Errata board and we can go back and see it.

 

As we were so close to Calais the next day we set off home getting an earlier crossing. We will definitely go with My Ferry again as the service was good and so was the food.  We had steak, chips, peppercorn sauce, a pudding and a small bottle of wine for £11.00.  The perfect end to a lovely holiday.

In conclusion we loved Provence and will definitely return I still want to see the Bories, Gorge du Verdon and Grass.  The Camargue we will not return to purely because of the mosquitoes and the way my body reacted to them.

 

Sunday 19th October 2014

Start Point Caravan Club Site, Torcross, Devon

 

After a disappointing couple of days at home and me feeling ‘out of sorts’ we decided to go away for a few days even though the weather forecast was not good.

So after Marc had some sleep we set off to Devon. The trip was really good, M5 onto the A38 and getting off at Buckfastleigh and following the instructions in the Caravan Club book for once.  The road between Totnes and the site was a bit of a nightmare, only wide enough for one in places and Sunday drivers out in their droves driving like idiots, where they expected Boris to jump to get out of their way I do not know!

The site is lovely, laid out on levels, with a one way system.  The warden lady who served us really pleasant.  We set up in a corner opposite the dog walk area where there were three hardstandings, one occupied by a storage caravan the other by a day out motorhomer complete with plugged in electric cable!  We set up and after some lunch and a well needed cup of tea went to walk the 0.75 miles to the beach.  It was an easy walk alongside the road into Torcross and beach front.  Fred loved it, chasing pebbles into the sea and generally running around like a spring lamb, Molly was more reserved just running alongside us.  After stopping for an ice cream, Marc his usual Mr Whippy 99 and me a honeycombed locally produced ice cream which was delicious we headed back to the site.

I don’t usually sleep well on the first night and I was really surprised how noisy the road was considering we are in the back end of beyond.

 

Monday 20th October 2014

 

After a restless night we decided to move the van to a spot on the lower section of the site to escape some of the road noise and it really worked.  We made a picnic and set off for the South West Coast Path which runs along the village and headed towards Start Point Lighthouse.

The path started at the edge of the beach up and over a cliff with steep steps next to a holiday cottage, once at the top we were unsure of the direction and headed back down the cliff and along the beach.

We walked for some time coming into the village of Beesands which was remarkably busy. Again up and over the cliffs and along the coast path above the water and with all the views descending into Hallsands and another pebble beach.  Just along the beach were some fisher men pulling on their nets and taking out the fish caught for the day including a dogfish, and some mackerel.  Again we climbed up the steps onto the cliff and found the ‘lost village of Hallsands’ with a viewing platform over the cliff edge so that you could see the remaining houses of the village that once stood there but was now mostly swept away by the sea in the 1920’s.  You could even see the road down to the village that was open as early and the 1990’s hanging precariously off the side of the cliff and now closed to the public.

Walking on we reached the car park of Start Point and the descent towards the lighthouse.  We were going to sit on top of the cliff and have our sandwiches but the wind coming of the Atlantic was extremely bracing and so we sat on the wall by the lighthouse which was closed!

We then started our long walk back to the site approximately 3.5 miles.  At one point it got quite dark and we had a shower of rain, once we got to Beesands I couldn’t understand why it didn’t look familiar – the tide had come in and we were cut off from the stretch we had walked on our way out.  We found that we needed to go back towards town and take a turning up and over the cliff, our feet and knees were screaming at us but as the tide times which I got via google on Marcs phone said high tide was in ½ and hour it wasn’t worth us waiting for the tide to go out as it was now 16.30 and the nights are drawing in.  So up and over the cliff we went and I was so relieved to see Torcross and the slow walk back to the sight.

When we got back it was a much needed drink of water and a hot shower to soothe our aching muscles.

That night was another restless night as the remains of hurricane Gonzola hit our shores and the van rocked all night!

 

Tuesday 21st October

 

Just a day of relaxing which is welcome.  I finished my crochet top, looked at the footage from our cab cam to prove it works (thank goodness) and read.

 

Sometime in November/December

Wareham Caravan Club Site

 

Just a quick getaway for a few days.  The site is well placed in the forests of Wareham and lots of walks nearby which we took advantage of with the dogs.  Just relaxed, had very lazy lie ins, walked and watched Sons of Anarchy Season 5.

 

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