Knowing that we were going to embark on a second year in the motorhome made us think about what we would do differently and I can happily say that we actually didn’t change that much….
– New spice tubs, which are actually now phase 2 baby food containers for the freezer… thanks to Claire H for the inspiration… saves on weight and they are so much easier to get to!
– Second leisure battery …. we decided against additional solar panels, but we did have an extra battery fitted to help on those short dark days…. dull, dull, dull
– A few less items of clothing …. if that is actually possible, although somehow I appear to have increased the number of pairs of trainers that I have from 2 to 3 on top of the tennis shoes…
– oh and I do now have an iPad…… I blame my brother for encouraging me down the slippery Apple slope even further, and I am incredibly grateful to my parents and brother for the present as it makes my photos look even better 🙂
Apart from that, we had either already managed to change our approach whilst we were away last year…. or it is all pretty much the same – can’t be bad 🙂
My last blog was a little short and missed some of the detail of the last week or so in the UK as we were on the ferry and the crossing between Dover and Calais loses UK phone coverage pretty quickly. I am pleased to say however, after the last trip where I lacked in border crossings I have set the bar and already taken France/England and it looks like I am going to get France/Spain as well ….little things are so important!
I am sure many of you are wondering what Calais was like and whether we saw any problems. It did feel like we were driving through a prison camp as we left the port, with two barbed wire fences surrounding the Port and a camp about 500m outside of it, but we didn’t see any trouble at all, it was in fact quite peaceful.
After getting out of Calais we drove for a couple of hours arriving at St Valery Sur Somme which was the place I went to on my French exchange week twenty eight years ago. We stopped for two nights at our first Aire (Rue de la Croix l’Abbe -GPS n50.18220 e1.62881 – 10 euros for 24 hours) and had a lovely wander around the town and also a cycle along the canal all the way to Abbeville.
The weather was on the turn and we were forecasted a few days of heavy rain and wind, so we have decided to get some miles in and try and push through to find some sunshine. So, after a lovely run along the canal, we moved on from St Valery Sur Somme and headed to Orleans (La Chapelle-Saint-Mesmin, Chemin de Fourneaux – GPS n47.88550 e1.83990 – 5 euros for 24 hours with electricity).
Continuing our journey further south, we stopped for the night at Donzenac, a pretty little medieval village and we managed to park on the Aire which is just outside a campsite on the edge of the village (Rue de la Riviere – GPS n45.21897, e1.51829 – FOC for 24 hours)
Making a slight detour – possibly more than most people would have done due to our Sat Nav wanting to take us cross country – we stopped for a night with Anton and Rosette – Anton being my second cousin – who live about 4km from Laveur (North East of Toulouse). It is a very pretty part of the world with lots of vineyards and soft rolling hills around the river Tarn. Despite our lack of advanced warning, Anton very kindly gave us the abridged tour of the area and we even had some delicious Apple, Almond and honey cake left over from Rosh Hashana….. we will be back for more 🙂
After leaving Anton and Rosette to go and buy a motorhome (only joking….) we took the scenic route to spend a few nights just outside Carcassonne, a place we have looked over at from the motorway many a time but never actually visited. We opted for a campsite (A l’ombre des micocouliers – 12 euros a night with ACSI) which is about 13km outside Carcassonne on the Midi Canal, as there isn’t an Aire with services and we planned to stay a few days to take in the local area and get out on the bikes a bit.
Our strategy worked and we have left the storms and torrential rain behind us, only arriving into a bit of a heatwave although after a meander through town to find a nice local butcher we settled in for the night and were lulled to sleep with the tap tap tap of rain on the roof.
We woke to strong winds on Thursday morning, but despite the grey skies it didn’t actually rain and the rest of the day provided blue skies and sunshine, albeit being a little on the windy side, leaving us to do a 64km cycle ride along the midi canal which is very peaceful and scenic, if not a little bumpy in places.
With the grey clouds closing in on us again (although as the wind is so strong they were blown away by the time we woke this morning), we decided to cross the border into Spain this morning, leaving France behind us until 2016, having stocked up on plenty of Brie, Goats cheese, Taramaslata and Barley ….. we watched the grapes being harvested for yet another years wine and headed to the coast.