Showing posts from September, 2010

Leaking in Lot-et-Garrone

From Bergerac we followed the river upstream. It was ten years ago when we last stopped in this part of France. Then we were in a 2CV with our two teenage daughters, all our camping gear and an inflatable dinghy, packing it was a work of art. We had a fortnight in France, staying on Isle d’Oleron for the first week followed by a lovely peaceful site right on the edge of the Dordogne for the second. We couldn’t remember what it was called but we remembered more or less where it was. On Tuesday afternoon as we drove over the bridge at La Buisson-de-Cadouin we both said “That’s it!”and pointed behind us. Dave turned the van round and after ten years we drove back into Camping du Pont de Vicq. It was just as we remembered it; pine trees, grassy bank leading down to a gravel beach and a pitch looking out over the big Dordogne with a high arched bridge to complete the view.
We only meant to stay for one night but a quick look under the front of the van confirmed Dave’s increasing suspicions.…

Dawdling in the Dordogne

We were waved off from Chatenet by our fabulous hosts Paul & Janice on Monday morning and headed towards Bergerac. We’ve had 3 very relaxing days R&R with them, (not that we needed it really, this whole trip is rest and relaxation) but it was lovely to stop and do very little for a while. Sunday was the exception though, that’s when 8 of us took 2 2CVs to Angouleme for the Circuits des Ramparts. For one week a year this fortified French town is invaded by thousands of petrol-heads from all over Europe to celebrate the gods of historic internal combustion. Half the town is closed off for three days, Armco is erected across the front doors of houses, and blatently insane speed freaks race through the streets with complete abandon in cars that would usually be found behind a length of red rope in a stately home.
And they don’t take prisoners; there were plenty of tyres squealing round all three hairpins and the afternoon was regularly punctuated by the sound of highly polished eng…

Pausing in Paradise

After leaving the Ile d’Oleron we followed the coast for a while through the lovely Foret de Coubre, through La Palmyre to Royan. There’s a big zoo in the forest at La Palmyre, we took some photos through the fence.
From Royan we carried on down the coast, finally turning away from the Atlantic at Mortagne. We are now at the home of our friends Paul and Janice. They have a beautiful house and 3 holiday gites in Chatenet, and they are perfect hosts. Altogether there are 8 of us here at the moment and it’s a lovely place to be. We’re staying till Monday, chilling out by the pool, walking the dog, sampling local produce (mostly wine & cake) and on Sunday we’re all going to Angouleme for the Circuit des Remparts; a vitage car race through the streets of the town. We’ve heard about it from various people; when Paul & Janice said they were going we jumped at the chance. This trip is so different to anything we’ve done before; we’ve had 9 days of mostly driving on small yellow roads, …

Chillin' in Charente-Maritime

We’re still alive!
On Tuesday morning there was still no-one in the reception so we got on our bikes and went exploring. When we found we were about 5 minutes from a fabulous beach we decided not moving the van was the best bet and rode back to the site to get a book each and our swimming togs.
Half the afternoon was spent getting bashed about by the Atlantic until we were both knackered and Dave had turned blue, the other half was spent lying in the sun reading or collecting some more mussels. Dave cooked them the same way as the previous evening (fried onions, splash of red, salt & pepper, chuck ‘em in and put the lid on till they open up) but for some reason half of them didn’t open. Still, the ones that did were yummy! Later on we went for a stroll into the village, posted some cards and almost got back to the van before the mozzies came out in force.
On Wednesday morning we still couldn’t find anyone to pay for camping, so with full water tanks, charged batteries and feeling …

A Van in Vendee

With our step safely back on board we drove to Locmariaquer at the end of one of the arms that form the Golf Du Morbihan. After a look round and a walk along the beach we went back to Auray, then on to Vannes, dodging round the “Route BarrĂ©” signs for the half marathon that was being run that afternoon. We ate our lunch overlooking the river in Vannes then went down the other arm to Port de Crouesly. We looked at the hundreds of gorgeous sailing boats moored in the marina then walked past the harbour entrance round the headland to Port-Navalo; fewer, less posh boats.
We took photos across the entrance of where we’d been in the morning and then, due to the fact that Ann-Marie had stubbed her little toe on a tree root and needed some sympathy, we had an ice-cream on the way back.
We then set of westward again looking for a night stop. Ann-Marie came up trumps on the navigation department by picking out the perfect spot.
We were on the Vilaine estuary, pulled off the road on the river bank,…

Brits in Brittany

Friday morning saw us staying put on site near Le Mont Saint-Michel. We did some laundry and housework then found out how to use the “service pour Camping Cars” (the filling and emptying station). Around 2pm, when the washing was just about dry, we set off south west to Brittany. We had a night on the side of the road overlooking the Atlantic at the end of the Quiberon peninsula.
We loved Quiberon; another “almost” island joined to mainland France by a road and railway line on a strip of sand.  On Saturday morning it was alive with a massive street market; all the things you’ve ever seen in a French market and at least two stalls of each. Huge pans of paella, 8’ high chicken rotisseries and mountains of glistening olives jostling for space between beautiful handmade shoes, lace & jewellery. Quiberon itself is our idea of the perfect seaside town. It’s just touristy enough to be fun without being tacky, in fact some of the clothes shops were very up market indeed.
After lunch we dro…

Landing in Normandy

Here we are then, driving on the wrong side of the road and feeling stupid in shops. Because we’re us, we managed to get a new phone and a cheaper contract in Dover with about 15 minutes to spare before we sailed, then sorted out our European vehicle recovery over the phone while sat in the queue for the ferry. The crossing was happily uneventful; drove on, ate sarnies, read book, drove off. On our first night abroad we met up with Carole and Alastair, friends of ours from Lincolnshire. They were on their way home and parked up in a lovely campsite at St Vallerie sur Somme, near Abbeville. We pulled up outside the gate, walked in and had a very enjoyable evening with them. After two or three glasses of red it would have been irresponsible to have driven anywhere so our first night outside the UK was spent in the visitor’s car park. A bit cheeky but definitely the way to go. On Wednesday morning it threw it down from about 2am. There seemed little point doing anything apart from drivin…

The last final ultimate farewell

If you ever buy a 26 year-old camper you’ll soon discover that you need to carry a serious tool box and a good selection of quick-fix items; cable ties, jubilee clips, gaffa tape etc. Just as we turned off the A1 towards Wisbech we noticed that the temperature gauge was heading rapidly for the red line. We pulled and had a look under the front to find a steady dribble of water. Dave’s first thought was a holed radiator or a burst hose, but it turned out to be the bottom hose clip that had rusted through. We didn’t have a spare one and all the cable ties had been foolishly used constructing the rocker cover racer, so a length of shock cord was put to use holding the hose back on. After refilling with 10 litres of water (it’s handy having a fresh water tank) we were off again. We got to Glen and Steve’s only a bit later than planned to a brilliant welcome,
and a delicious tea. Later, we all sat on the sofa and watched Avatar; Fab!

On Thursday we went over to Janet and Steve’s (yes, we kn…

Romanes Eunt Domus

We got to Sparsholt College on Tuesday morning. We all knuckled down and got well ahead of Carol’s schedule for setting up for the 2CVGB National Meeting. Just as well; it rained constantly on Wednesday. The set-up crew sat in the information tent watching the fire buckets fill themselves, dashing out whenever it looked as if it might brighten up to bang another sign into the increasingly muddy ground. On Thursday morning there was still the odd shower but by opening time at 2pm we were ready. We’d had rubble laid on the entrance and exit gates, and a bark chip roadway spread across the main drag through the site. A steady flow of club members started arriving, and barring having to push the odd one through a gateway, two days of rain had very little adverse effect on what turned into a thoroughly enjoyable meeting. The weather got better through the Bank Holiday and most people went home with dry tents. On Saturday we had a little stall in the flea market; Citroen paraphernalia at in…